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Lascink
08-18-2002, 06:56 PM
Hello all! I'm 24, new to this forum, and Aikido for that matter. I am very excited to embark on my first Aikido experience next week, but I do have a couple of questions of which I'm sure is not the last.;) There are two dojo's in my town, one of which is a Ki-Society & the other is Aikido. I understand that the Ki-Society one focuses more on the essence & development of 'Ki,' but does that mean that they do less of the actual training then a 'traditional' dojo? On their schedule it has an hour of Ki class followed by an hour of Ki-Aikido. I do plan on visiting both dojos, but was just curious about some of your opinions or personal experience on the matter. Also, what's the difference between Aikikai & Aikido; I realize they're both a form of Aikido, but what's the difference? Thanks in advance for your help. I've read lots of this forum recently, you guys are great!:)

Kevin Leavitt
08-18-2002, 07:00 PM
Go to all dojos. Go with the one you feel most comfortable at. Neither is better in philosophy or methodogy than the other. It all depends on what you connect with.

Aikikai translate loosely as "Aikido World"...so it means all encompassing of all aikido. Traditionally it refers to Hombu dojo (Aikikai in Japan) which is recognized as O'Sensei's original dojo so to speak. Although I have seen Aikikai used loosely elsewhere so it depends on the context.

Good luck in your journey down the path.

Chris Li
08-18-2002, 07:43 PM
Aikikai translate loosely as "Aikido World"...so it means all encompassing of all aikido.
Hmm, I think that the Yoshinkan, Shodokan, etc. folks would have some serious issues with that translation :).

"Aikikai" is not a generic term, it is the name of the foundation incorporated by the Ueshiba family - "Zaidan Hojin Aikikai", or "Aikikai Foundation". It covers anybody in the organization run by the Ueshiba family and headquartered in Tokyo (which covers a lot, but far from everything).

Best,

Chris

Kevin Leavitt
08-18-2002, 07:52 PM
As I Stated, depends on the context. Kai means world the last time I checked..it can also mean club, association, etc. Depends on the translation and context.

"your world" is how you define it. Yes, it can be all those other things that Chris refers to also!

Again, Good luck!

Chris Li
08-18-2002, 07:57 PM
As I Stated, depends on the context. Kai means world the last time I checked..it can also mean club, association, etc. Depends on the translation and context.

"your world" is how you define it. Yes, it can be all those other things that Chris refers to also!

Again, Good luck!
Well "General Motors" can mean different things too, depending upon how you translate it :).

My point was that "Aikikai" is the name of a formally established legal entity, not a generic term meaning "Aikido world". Also, it does not by any means encompass all of Aikido.

Best,

Chris

Kevin Wilbanks
08-18-2002, 08:01 PM
As a radical empiricist, my opinion is that most of those 'Ki exercises' and modified shinto ritual stuff are nonsense and a waste of time, unless you have some kind of blood/family connection to that tradition. Some, like the unbendable arm, are little more than parlor magic tricks.

My experience is not that wide, but the best Aikidoka I've known had their heads in a practical place, not in the clouds of Ki mysticism and superstition. More importantly, they had their feet on the mat during many long hours of vigorous practice. I don't think they would be nearly as far along if they had spent half that time balancing on chairs and visualizing water flowing out of their hands.

To me, 'Ki' is just a metaphor, which may or may not be of some use. I think practical, logical thinking and experiential 'no-mind' approaches are much more useful. I think most would benefit far more from scientifically informed strength and fitness training, and practical perceptual extensions like a well designed video feedback setup.

That said, you have to go with whichever dojo feels best, as Chris said.

Kevin Leavitt
08-18-2002, 11:07 PM
Kevin,

appreciate your opinions, and respect them. However, I think you are being a little bit tough on the Ki stuff.

I can certainly appreciate your cynicism. I too have opinions about certain people studying aikido, there genuinity etc.

Aikido is no different in many respects to religions. While I find it hard to understand pentacostal snake handlers and how that relates to Christianity, It really gives me no right to criticize their beliefs or the validity of their practices.

The only criticism I ever have over any religion or martial art is when they start criticizing other peoples beliefs, propagating hatred, or de-humanizing etc.

Not to get into a debate about Ki, but it does exist. Just because you may not be open to the concept or agree with the practices of some dojos on how the atempt to understand it does not mean it is wrong or invalid.

BTW, I do not study with a Ki focused dojo as they are commonly (and unfortunately labeled). I do consider myself to be "practical" in my approach.

Remember that people come to aikido for different reasons. Some to be effective in self defense, some to get in shape, others to develop their connectedness with the life force energy that unites us all!

I have been following a few of your post. (Thought you decided to quite aikido because you couldn't find anyone to study with that was worth your time in your area?)

If the analogy of "water flowing out of your hands" works to help people understand aikido then what is wrong with that?

Please try and be aware that there are many ways to acheive mastery of self. I am very sorry your current situation leave a void in your fullfillment, but you shouldn't try and discourage a new person by "slamming" a particular aspect of the art that you don't agree with!

Abasan
08-18-2002, 11:30 PM
Cliff,

Up there you see the verbal analogy to aikido. One attacks and is immediately taken off balance before a technique is executed to bring it to harmony again.

Anyway with regards to your question. Before coming back home and training with an Aikikai style dojo, I used to train with a Ki Style dojo in the UK. The teachers emphasise different things and teach in different ways. That is because in most martial arts, (and other things as well) individuals perceive things differently. Thus they come to a different interpretation of things and consequently they also train differently. Different doesn't mean good or bad.

But good teachers would probably teach you the way/basics of the art. And leave it to you to master it. That will of course come from practice and not just theorising and talking about it. Of course, at the start, you will learn to do it the teacher's way.

The idea here is to stop thinking that the teacher will teach you what is aikido. You have to learn that on your own.

Lastly, find a dojo you would like to train in. Cause if you don't, you will lose interest in training and that would be a loss.

Kevin Leavitt
08-19-2002, 12:31 AM
Well said Ahmad!

Kevin Wilbanks
08-19-2002, 01:05 AM
Kevin,

Well, despite your lip service, you haven't really respected my opinion because in the end you have attributed it ulterior psychological motivations on my part, instead of taking it on its own merit. The only thing of substance you have offered is the emphatic assertion that Ki is real, as though I'm just going to take your word for it.

The fact is that no one has ever observed Ki in any way that is consistent, measurable, or repeatable - it's all about anecdotes and individual beliefs. Furthermore, no one has ever demonstrated that a purported effect of Ki has occurred such that said effect could not be explained just as well without the concept of Ki. If I'm wrong, present a study or some evidence beyond anecdotes, subjective impressions or folk stories.

I agree that visualization and feeling metaphors can be an effective training tool, but this doesn't necessarily have anything to do with Ki. Belief in Ki combined with certain types of training activities may be of more use to some people than the same activities pursued without the belief in Ki, but until you run a controlled experiment testing it against some other placebo belief, you've still got no proof.

Placebo effects are well documented, but they are not reliable, and generally not considered ethical to knowingly prescribe. I would say the same applies to art teachers as to doctors. Likewise, as a student I think it is my duty to point out things that I consider untrue, fraudulent, or a waste of time.

Under the guise of 'verbal Aikido' you cite generally relativistic reasons why my criticism of "Ki" and "Ki-exercises" is 'just my opinion'. However, the jist of your whole post is to invalidate my opinion, shored up by the suggestion I "shouldn't" even speak it. You can't have it both ways. Either it's all relative, in which case my reasoned criticism of Ki is equally as valid as your bald assertion of it, or I'm wrong and should be censored...

Abasan
08-19-2002, 01:30 AM
The doka of the day pretty much sums up what OSensei thought of believers or non-believers.

What matters is that the guy's original post wanted to know the difference between the ki and the not so ki influenced dojos. If you concentrate on that mark perhaps this thread won't degenerate into another to ki or not to ki discussion.

Besides, the human mind needs this kind of assurances from time to time. Imagine if you were to walk down a painted line about 4 inches wide. It just enough for you to walk on if you put each foot infront of the other.

I bet that this would be an easy exercise for most of us.

Now imagine as it were you were to walk on that same width, a brick wall for example on a 3rd storey building. Would you have the same confidence as before?

But a ki sensei would probably tell you to feel your center and walk as if your center is being pulled by a string, thus effectively giving you the balance you need. Another practical sensei would say that nothing has changed so go ahead and do what you just did before. The choice for you to learn from which sensei depends on which type of person you are. Neither is wrong.

ian
08-19-2002, 03:39 AM
From my experience, I didn't really like the ki aikido. I think Tohei was fantastic at aikido, but I also think he had a different agenda to ueshiba and was affected by his interest in yoga etc. For me many of the ki aikido sessions do not do enough movement and I often felt that I could have been spending my time better just doing ikkyo again and again, rather than being lifted up by people. However, I would not critise it for what it is - it's just different from what I wanted from aikido. This is not to say I think it is totally unrelated, and one-off sessions with ki aikido clubs I've had in the past have been very interesting. I've learnt that you have to go for the training you need at the time, and realise that through this training you'll discover its limitations and you'll then understand why those other people train differently i.e. what's right or wrong will depend on what you require at that moment.

Ian

Uke4life
08-19-2002, 07:14 AM
Mr. Wilbanks,

Actually, I have witnessed Ki on two occasions. Firstly, on the Discovery Channel, they were doing a report on the martial arts. Within this report, they did a follow up on a 68 year old Japanese man who had studied Aikido for decades. Now, he ran a palor for massage. His method was to use Ki to heat up his towels, and rub them on the persons back. Now to prove it real they used a thermal cam to show one how hot it really got, and it showed temps up to 105 degrees, constantly. My second sighting was with a similiar experence in my dojo. So, yes I do think it excellent to question Ki, but I believe it does exist. Thanks, train hard!

Chris Li
08-19-2002, 08:20 AM
Mr. Wilbanks,

Actually, I have witnessed Ki on two occasions. Firstly, on the Discovery Channel, they were doing a report on the martial arts. Within this report, they did a follow up on a 68 year old Japanese man who had studied Aikido for decades. Now, he ran a palor for massage. His method was to use Ki to heat up his towels, and rub them on the persons back. Now to prove it real they used a thermal cam to show one how hot it really got, and it showed temps up to 105 degrees, constantly. My second sighting was with a similiar experence in my dojo. So, yes I do think it excellent to question Ki, but I believe it does exist. Thanks, train hard!
I'm not sure that I'd take a Discovery Channel show as scientific evidence (actually, I'm sure that I wouldn't, although I enjoy a lot of their shows). Was he touching the towels? If not then somebody really ought to be flying to Stockholm to collect their Nobel (or to California, to collect a million dollars from the Amazing Randi :) ). If he was then I suppose it's possible to generate enough body heat to achieve that effect without resort to "ki", or other types of energy generation for explanation, just conventional bio-physics.

Best,

Chris

opherdonchin
08-19-2002, 09:16 AM
I have practiced in ki focused dojos (Seidokan style grew out of Ki Society and still talks about Ki a lot) and dojos were the word doesn't get mentioned. I have not practiced in a Ki Society dojo, though, so this may be a little bit irrelevant to Cliff's question. Still:

I found that one of the biggest differences can be how much you are expected to learn through verbal instruction and intellectual understanding. (Perhaps ironically), the idea of talking about Ki seems to be to help us get an intellectual grasp on something which, in other dojos, we need to internalize without being given words to describe.

So, as a verbal person, I often find the Ki stuff to be very useful both when explaining techniques and when trying to understand them. On the other hand, I also find that there is a great deal to be said for the tradition of understanding (and teaching) AiKiDo without words (hey, there's an idea for another thread :) ). I've really enjoyed practicing places where I needed to find my own understanding.

So, to me it has felt like the biggest difference between a ki-focused dojo and one that is not ki-focused is the extent to which (and the way in which) words are relied on as part of the teaching. Mind you, you can use words without talking about Ki, but I find that there is much more of a tendency to talk in the ki-focused dojos.

akiy
08-19-2002, 09:48 AM
One of the proponents of this "ki" based approach is Koichi Tohei sensei. If you pretty much ask anyone who has trained directly with him, they don't doubt his physical effectiveness in aikido. Many consider his aikido to be one of the best they've ever felt...

With that said, I'll relate something I wrote here in the Forums a while back:
I remember a story told by George Simcox sensei who was at the dinner table with Koichi Tohei sensei when a reporter asked Tohei sensei if he could move (if I remember correctly) a salt shaker across the table with his "ki." Tohei sensei smiled and said, "Why, of course!" Tohei sensei then reached out with his hand, picked up the salt shaker, and put it down across the table.
-- Jun

Kevin Leavitt
08-19-2002, 10:22 AM
I have experience Ki...in fact I am experiencing it right now.

It is very hard to describe key since in is very, very conceptual and sematical in nature.

Is a nutshell it is the life force energy that emanates through every living thing. Everybody experiences it in some form or another otherwise you wouldn't be alive or have conscious thought.

The ability to harmonize with it and "walk the fine line" between the Yin and Yang of it is very difficult to do. Something that I have had trouble doing and being able to replicate on a regular basis.

Is it metaphysical, no I don't think so. Ki is conceptual in nature, but it is real.

Some describe it as a light, as water flowing, or a sensation of heat. Can't say I have experienced that type of phenomena....but I will tell you that I have experienced it in many, many ways! Being alive is a Ki experience in itself.

Erik
08-19-2002, 11:36 AM
Actually, I have witnessed Ki on two occasions. Firstly, on the Discovery Channel, they were doing a report on the martial arts. Within this report, they did a follow up on a 68 year old Japanese man who had studied Aikido for decades. Now, he ran a palor for massage. His method was to use Ki to heat up his towels, and rub them on the persons back. Now to prove it real they used a thermal cam to show one how hot it really got, and it showed temps up to 105 degrees, constantly. My second sighting was with a similiar experence in my dojo. So, yes I do think it excellent to question Ki, but I believe it does exist.
Not related to ki exactly but a friend was telling me about yogi's that bury their head in the ground and can stay there for 45 minutes. This is interesting because my understanding is that the record for going without air is under 15 minutes.

I suppose the difference between myself and others who would believe is that the first thing I thought is lets put the yogi underwater in clear view for 45 minutes and see what happens.

The point is that just because someone says they are doing something it doesn't mean that is what they are doing or that it is what you saw them doing.

Uke4life
08-19-2002, 05:30 PM
LOL, ok, I would like to set something straight. I understand that not all things on tv are real. Yet, I was trying to show that as an example of perhaps what Ki was. LOL, anyways, all train hard and safe!

tedehara
08-21-2002, 09:00 PM
...My experience is not that wide...
Perhaps you would like to expand your horizons - Jacksonville University's Continuing Education Program - Jacksonville Kodokai Aikido (http://members.aol.com/Lzano/page1.html). :)

Kevin Wilbanks
08-21-2002, 09:38 PM
Are you recommending them on the basis of personal experience with the place and the people, or politics?

tedehara
08-21-2002, 10:09 PM
Are you recommending them on the basis of personal experience with the place and the people, or politics?
Bob Cowan is a former member of the Chicago Ki Society. I've been able to train with him several times, when he visited his family in the Chicago area. Perhaps he might be able to show this soft approach to you.

Since you listed yourself as unaffiliated, I assume you were unable to continue training. Since this is in your location and you mentioned you didn't have much experience with softer styles of aikido, perhaps this might interest you.

PeterPhilippson
08-22-2002, 04:52 AM
My association, Lancashire Aikikai, was founded on the basis of both ki and effective martial arts. Our founder, Sensei Mucha, had a background in Special Forces and in Zen training. We do not separate the class into ki training and martial practice: the one is meant to develop the other in all practice.

Best wishes,

Peter

Sam
08-22-2002, 05:22 AM
Sorry to be so synical but I think some of the current descriptions of Ki are a bit much. I think one of the biggest problems in aikido is the misinterpretation of Ki as "the force".

I have not seen or heard of any Ki related phenomenon that can not be explained by biomechanics.

Surely this is why Ki is related to the tanden - the bodies centre of gravity which may be altered by muscular effort or relaxation to accomplish feats attributed to Ki.

Similarly the unbendable arm is achieved by visualising water or ki flowing from the arm but is in reality an alteration of the way you use the muscles of the arm.

Training with Ki-society and similar aikido stylist reveals this - they are well grounded, but sometimes tend to try to muscle through techniques claiming to 'extend' Ki.

Perhaps the problem is that interpretation of ki has been altered by the influence of the omoto kyo religion. The reason I offer that ki training may be irrelevant to effective aikido is that styles which do not even consider ki demonstrate equal effectiveness and their experienced practitioners are able to peform ki feats equally well due to a learned understanding of biomechanics.

Kevin Wilbanks
08-22-2002, 08:48 AM
Sam,

That's just it. It's a metaphor, and in fact largely relies on visualization metaphors (strings, laser beams, flowing water, etc...) as part of the training. I think these kind of metaphors can be very useful IN Aikido practice. That is, while one is doing a technique or movement one may be able to use the thought images as a guide to learning the proper movement patterns. Since the endpoint is the ability to have such patterns stored and accessed in an unconscious part of the brain, whatever can be used as a stepping stone is valid. However, my qualm is with spending a lot of time doing Ki games and parlor tricks INSTEAD of doing actual, physical Aikido training. From what I've seen in the Ki Society books and seen and heard from a couple of former students, it also sounds like this is done in a context where the purportedly amazing results of these trick are used to proselytize superstitions about the 'realities' of Ki. To me, this sounds like a waste of time, at best, and something inimical to my beliefs as a person and ethics as a trainer, at worst.

opherdonchin
08-22-2002, 03:31 PM
Metaphors are funny things. Saying that Ki is a 'metaphor,' while undoubtebly true, may hide some of its importance as an idea. For instance, we all seem to believe in 'thought.' Most of us have had experience of thinking and can relatively reliably recognize when someone else is thinking. Often, we (or at least I) tell people that their problem is that they ar not thinking about something enough. But, thinking is just a metaphor. In reality, none of us think. Intead, there are complicated processes of electrical and chemical signals in our brains that that go on and affect our behavior through other chemical and electrical processes.

Any abstract concept is, almost by definition, a metaphor that ties together more concrete phenomena at a lower level. However, sometimes (like with thought, democracy, individual, etc.) these abstract concepts describe the reality of our experience much more directly and immediately than a description of their constituent phenomena. As such, they have a strong claim to being 'real.'

When you think about it seriously, the quesion of what you mean by the word 'real' can be a real doozy.

Kevin Wilbanks
08-22-2002, 05:12 PM
"In reality, none of us think. Intead, there are complicated processes of electrical and chemical signals in our brains that that go on and affect our behavior through other chemical and electrical processes."

That's what you think! As a radical empiricist I don't go along with this kind of reductionist explanation of consciousness. Doing so proceeds from the assumption that the only kinds of things that really exist are physical objects - something which can't really be proven, only assumed. Assuming so leads to kooky problems like saying consciousness is nothing more than a byproduct of atoms and molecules, despite our near-constant experience to the contrary...

Thought itself - the subjective experience of consciousness - is the least doubtable most unavoidably real thing there is. Descartes was right. Physical objects are an abstraction that relies on assumptions. Consciousness just is, it's non-spatial, I can't deny it or escape it without killing myself, and no amount of analysis of molecules or electrical firing patterns can adequately account for the mysterious experience of consciousness, sensation, and emotion itself, or penetrate into its subjectivity. It can be experienced without reference to any objects, even if we are incapable of detecting it independent of a functioning brain. After all, for all I know, 'brains' are just a figment of my consciousness. If I have to reduce my beliefs to only that which I know from experience, consciousness, sense experience, and feeling or 'mind' is the only real certainty.

I can also argue for the existence of other abstract, non-material objects like numbers, but that's a different story.

Of course, I go along with this whole 'world full of material objects' thing because it seems to make sense and the hypothesis yields useful results... still, there are quite a few assumptions and leaps of faith involved that make the whole thing far more dubious than my experience of thought.

So yes, 'Ki' is a metaphor in the sense that all language is a metaphor, but that's not exactly what I was getting at. It is a metaphor that refers to something that I think is purely fictitious, even though acting as though the fiction is real can yield useful results. More fictitious than, say, my keyboard. More along the lines of the way an ancient Greek mariner might use belief in the metaphor of being in the good grace of Poseidon to make a navigational decision that avoids a storm and saves his ship. The referent of the metaphor was pure fiction, by my estimation, yet use of the metaphor yeilded a beneficial result.

opherdonchin
08-23-2002, 12:23 AM
Thought itself - the subjective experience of consciousness - is the least doubtable most unavoidably real thing there is.Thought and the subjective experience of consciousness are usually thought of as two different things (unless you are Descartes or one of his unfortunate followers). To start with, our subjective experience includes tons of stuff that is not thought, like feelings and perceptions and awareness and so on.

Beyond that, there is pretty good evidence that what people think they are doing when they think is not very similar to what is actually going on. What I mean by that, is that people have an experience that they call thinking. It's a subjective experience. They tend to believe that it follows certain rules or tendencies. For instance, they describe their thoughts in terms of ideas like logic or motivation or intuition. In fact, it's pretty easy to show that these are minor players in dynamics of this subjective experience they have. What we think we are doing when we think is very different from what we are actually doing.

So, thought (at least as usually defined) isn't any more real than ki. It's a useful way of organizing some of my subjective experiences. It has explanatory power and helps me navigate my (internal and external) world.
So yes, 'Ki' is a metaphor in the sense that all language is a metaphor, but that's not exactly what I was getting at. It is a metaphor that refers to something that I think is purely fictitious, even though acting as though the fiction is real can yield useful results. More fictitious than, say, my keyboard.Here you are changing what you mean by the word real. If you want to be a radical Cartesian, then Ki (as a subjective experience) is certainly more 'real' than your keyboard (which is an externalization of some of your experiences). On the other hand, if you want to use 'real' to refer to the external world of objects, then we are back at the neurons.

PeterR
08-23-2002, 01:11 AM
Ki = Idoryoku

tedehara
08-23-2002, 01:37 AM
...Thought itself - the subjective experience of consciousness - is the least doubtable most unavoidably real thing there is...
Isn't that what :ki: Ki is - Thought?

Read Jun's anecdote (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?postid=26357#post26357)about K. Tohei and compare that to Kisshomaru Ueshiba explaination of Ki.
from The Mysterious Power of Ki (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1901903257/qid%3D1030081857/sr%3D11-1/ref%3Dsr%5F11%5F1/102-6034432-6258562) pg 143 (an interesting book)

In the first place, a human being possesses a mind and a body, but these alone are not enough. An activating force is required to connect the mind and the body, and this is the ki in Aikido; it is this that completes the trilogy of ki, mind and body.
In the west, a person might say, "My hand moved because that was my intent." or "My hand moved because I used my will." or "The thought from my mind moved my hand."

O Sensei, K. Ueshiba and K. Tohei might simply say "I used my ki to move my hand.". Therefore the word ki is used to replace what would commonly be expressed as will, intent or thought, in the west.

This usage has some interesting consequences. Ki must exist if you believe a body and mind exists, for it is ki which connnect the two. This definition of ki is used at the aikido technique level. You lead your attacker's intent/will/thought/ki to perform the technique.

Kevin Wilbanks
08-23-2002, 08:00 AM
Thought and the subjective experience of consciousness are usually thought of as two different things (unless you are Descartes or one of his unfortunate followers). To start with, our subjective experience includes tons of stuff that is not thought, like feelings and perceptions and awareness and so on.
I don't see much problem with lumping all that stuff together for my purposes. The important thing is that experience is less dubious than the thing that appears to cause the experience. I suppose you could say that thought is a separate 'thing' which I experience, but that seems as silly as trying to reduce consciousness out of existence to bolster some objective materialist ideology. Feelings, perception, awareness, thought - it's all part of the same stuff. It's not material; it's not reducible.
Beyond that, there is pretty good evidence that what people think they are doing when they think is not very similar to what is actually going on. What I mean by that, is that people have an experience that they call thinking. It's a subjective experience. They tend to believe that it follows certain rules or tendencies. For instance, they describe their thoughts in terms of ideas like logic or motivation or intuition. In fact, it's pretty easy to show that these are minor players in dynamics of this subjective experience they have. What we think we are doing when we think is very different from what we are actually doing.
I don't see exactly what you have in mind here. I suppose you're thinking of prodding brains with electricity and such. I think you're confusing the association between what we call mind and brain, or causality, with whether or not the subjective experience of mind is real. Just because I can do something to the physical body that has an effect on mind, does not mean it can be explained out of existence.
So, thought (at least as usually defined) isn't any more real than ki. It's a useful way of organizing some of my subjective experiences. It has explanatory power and helps me navigate my (internal and external) world.

Here you are changing what you mean by the word real. If you want to be a radical Cartesian, then Ki (as a subjective experience) is certainly more 'real' than your keyboard (which is an externalization of some of your experiences). On the other hand, if you want to use 'real' to refer to the external world of objects, then we are back at the neurons.
By 'real' I'm speaking primarily in terms of provability. I see no need to stick to the rules of any 'ism' or 'ist'. I think there is a physical world that is pretty much the same for everyone, and that other minds exist to perceive it, like I do. In the quote above, you referred to thought in terms of your 'subjective experiences' - sure you want to be a strict materialist?

Tedehara's explanation of Ki makes some sense to me. I could see it as a concept/metaphor similar to our word for 'will' or 'thought'. However, I see many people talking as though it refers to something more akin to 'the force' in Star Wars, magical powers, etc...

opherdonchin
08-23-2002, 08:49 AM
sure you want to be a strict materialist?I never advocated a strict materialist position. In this sense, I follow Kant and, more particularly, his phenomenologist (as opposed to analytical) successors in recognizing that our subjective experience is all we have. I made my original post in response to someone (Sam Benson) who said that 'ki' was just a funny way of arranging your muscles. To a large extent, it seemed that you agreed with Sam in labeling the subjective experience (ki) as metaphorical and accepting the material world (the theoretically measurable muscle activity) as real.
To start with, our subjective experience includes tons of stuff that is not thought, like feelings and perceptions and awareness and so on.I don't see much problem with lumping all that stuff together for my purposes.Then we are no longer talking about 'thought' as it is usually understood (or as I meant to be understood when I used the word originally). Using your current definitions, 'Ki' would just be a part of 'thought' (what I would call subjective experience) and, hence, a part of your privileged, immediately accessible, undeniable reality.
By 'real' I'm speaking primarily in terms of provability.Here I have no idea what you mean. Provability is a very hard thing to define if we begin with an idea of reality that does not ground itself in an assumption of an external reality that we share. If we do begin with that assumption, then we are back to the neurons. If we do not begin with that assumption, but rather try to 'derive' the notion of shared reality from subjective experience somehow then we have to be very careful about what we mean by prove. (this was Kant's primary effort, and he spent hundreds of pages on it. The analytical philosophers largely understand him to have succeeded. The phenomenologists largely understand him to have failed, although everyone seems to respect the difficulty of the endeavor and the insight that he brought to it. I haven't read him very much, but I have some issues with his starting assumptions.)
Beyond that, there is pretty good evidence that what people think they are doing when they think is not very similar to what is actually going on.I don't see exactly what you have in mind here. I suppose you're thinking of prodding brains with electricity and such.Interesting results can be achieved by prodding the brains, but that isn't what I had in mind. The kind of stuff that I have in mind is much simpler behavioral experiments where it is possible to assess and quantify the actual influences on a persons actions and then ask them to explain what they are doing, and to see the large difference between what they think is motivating them and what is actually motivating them. These sorts of situations get revealed very starkly and poignantly in the agnosias which are a variety of brain injuries in which the patient is incapable of realizing that they are injured and creates explanations for their own behavior which avoid accepting the possibility that they are incapable of seeing / hearing / reading / whatever. Our subjective access to what our brains are doing is demonstrably flawed and limited.

My central point is that while the only reality we have access to is the one we experience (almost by definition), it's pretty clear that our access to that reality is imperfect and confused at best. As such, that reality has all sorts of dynamics and characteristics that make it hard to make pronouncements about it with absolute confidence. For instance, the pronouncement that 'thought' (in the rationalist, or at least discursive, sense) is more 'real' than 'ki,' is something that is difficult to be confident of.
O Sensei, K. Ueshiba and K. Tohei might simply say "I used my ki to move my hand.". Therefore the word ki is used to replace what would commonly be expressed as will, intent or thought, in the west.

This usage has some interesting consequences. Ki must exist if you believe a body and mind exists, for it is ki which connnect the two. This definition of ki is used at the aikido technique level. You lead your attacker's intent/will/thought/ki to perform the technique.I can agree with this, especially after you edited out the last sentence of your post which had claimed that this was somehow distinct from a more spiritual understanding of ki (why did you do that?) It seems to me that where I've experienced the use of ki, it goes a little bit beyond my experience of will or intent. For instance, I can 'intend' or 'will' myself to move my arm when someone grabs it stronger than I expected. I find this to be often innefective. However, when I 'use ki,' I'm more often succesful. In this sense, the idea of something flowing through me for which I am a pseudo-passive conduit seems to be more effective than the idea of myself as actor.

Sorry about the long post!

;)

tedehara
08-23-2002, 11:43 AM
...I can agree with this, especially after you edited out the last sentence of your post which had claimed that this was somehow distinct from a more spiritual understanding of ki (why did you do that?) It seems to me that where I've experienced the use of ki, it goes a little bit beyond my experience of will or intent. For instance, I can 'intend' or 'will' myself to move my arm when someone grabs it stronger than I expected. I find this to be often innefective. However, when I 'use ki,' I'm more often succesful. In this sense, the idea of something flowing through me for which I am a pseudo-passive conduit seems to be more effective than the idea of myself as actor.

Sorry about the long post!

;)
From The Mysterious Power of Ki (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1901903257/qid%3D1030081857/sr%3D11-1/ref%3Dsr%5F11%5F1/102-6034432-6258562) pg 143, K. Ueshiba goes on to develop the "expert use of ki" as a description of keeping mind/body unified and in harmony with the universe. He uses this phrase to describe his father, the founder of aikido. Therefore the trilogy of ki, mind and body is something that everyone has, but the spiritual side or "the expert use of ki is something different. That's why I edited it out.

Many people complain about ki exercises and I admit some of them are pretty weird. However, they are designed to help you catch this feeling of mind/body coordination (or unification). Once you're able to have this feeling, you can do away with the imagery that caused it. It would be pretty confusing to go around all day thinking of one point, or imagining ki flowing through you, like water through a sewer pipe.

opherdonchin
08-23-2002, 12:00 PM
Amen.

Kevin Leavitt
08-23-2002, 06:46 PM
I agree everyone possess Ki..it is not something you "obtain". It is understanding it and experiencing it that is at debate.

Lots of static and distractions in our lives prevent us from experiencing it.

I think everyone has "Ki" experiences from time to time. It is somewhat cyclic in nature and tends to come and go as we go through stress and live our lives.

As we grow and learn to control it, we can teach ourselves how to spend more and more time in the ki zone.

A philosophical note, if we are not open to it, or don't believe in it...do you really possess it? hmmmmm kinda of a koan.

Kevin Wilbanks
08-24-2002, 12:38 AM
It's been a while since I have tried to talk philosophy academic-style with any precision. I have read quite a bit of Kant - not exactly an enjoyable experience. As I recall, my problem with Kant's solution was that he tried work up a basis for a shared, objective knowledge on the idea that everyone's experiential apparatus/mind operates in basically the same way, and therefore anything that might be considered a subjective distortion can be cancelled out, since all such tintings are the same. This seems pretty far fetched, especially in light of what we currently theorize about evolution, which suggests that the nature of the brain that is associated with the mind is not a fixed or unchanging design.

Provable probably wasn't the best word, as I'm not particularly interested in the project of the phenomenologists. In fact, reading Heidegger or Husserl is on my list of things to do right below shaving my head with a cheese grater. The idea of more real or less real doesn't quite get it either, as I don't think there are different senses of existence or degrees of reality. I guess my bottom line problem with Ki is not whether it 'exists' or how valid of a metaphor it is, but that many people seem to have very dubious ideas about what 'Ki' can do. To challenge this kind of 'use the force Luke' supernatural stuff, I think looking at scientific tests or lack thereof is a good thing. I don't think they are talking about anything that I don't already think is there and just talk about differently. I try to be open to unspecified possibilities beyond my understanding, but I have trouble with specific claims that seem improbable that have nothing but anecdotes and heresay behind them.

guest1234
08-24-2002, 05:34 PM
So, Cliff, are you still out there? Hope the guys haven't scared you away...they're actually quite tame...

How were the classes?

opherdonchin
08-25-2002, 04:27 PM
So, Cliff, are you still out there? Hope the guys haven't scared you away...they're actually quite tame... :D It's so true!
I guess my bottom line problem with Ki is not whether it 'exists' or how valid of a metaphor it is, but that many people seem to have very dubious ideas about what 'Ki' can do.I can identify with that feeling. But it's sort of a 'baby / bathwater' thing, isn't it? Some people may feel that the exagerated stories help promote belief; other people (like you) feel like the exaggerated stories get in the way of their belief. Either way, there is something there worth noticing and appreciating, even if 'belief' is a tricky concept.
As I recall, my problem with Kant's solution was that he tried work up a basis for a shared, objective knowledge on the idea that everyone's experiential apparatus/mind operates in basically the same way, and therefore anything that might be considered a subjective distortion can be cancelled out, since all such tintings are the same. This seems pretty far fetched, especially in light of what we currently theorize about evolution, which suggests that the nature of the brain that is associated with the mind is not a fixed or unchanging design.I guess I'd find myself somewhere between the two of you on this one. I'd say that we sure do seem to have a shared understanding of the world, and that is what underpins our notion of objectivity (we say that it's 'true' if we're pretty sure everyone else would agree with us). Thus, our ability to share a reality dpeends on commonality in the structure of our minds and that creates, ultimately, a notion that there is Truth out there for us to share.

I got stuck, reading Kant, on the premise of the excluded middle (something either is true or it isn't). Most things I care about are both true and not true at the same time, and I found it hard to continue reading when that premise was the basis for all further reasoning.
In fact, reading Heidegger or Husserl is on my list of things to do right below shaving my head with a cheese grater.I haven't read Husserl. I found Heidegger to be powerful and insightful. When I read it, I thought that it would be very important for neuroscience (my field) and that it was closely related to my understanding of Budhism (or Zen) from the little I'd gotten out of studying AiKiDo. I was sort of surprised to find out that there is a whole cottage industry of academics who have had this same insight. One relatively short book that I really enjoyed was by a guy named Varela. It's called: The Embodied Mind (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0262720213/qid).

Kevin Wilbanks
08-25-2002, 05:31 PM
I couldn't tolerate Heidegger or any of that phenomenology stuff, even back when I was willing to sit down and read such things. Anyone whose whole philosophical enterprise relies on developing a specialized language tended to lose me right off the bat - kind of like your problem with a basic premise of logic. Funny, although the law of non-contradiction does seem like a questionable truism, I can't see how one would construct a philosophy or science without it. I think the same way about the whole idea of subjects and objects - the whole notion that the world is made of discrete, nameable 'things', but I don't see how one could use a language as a philosophical tool without that assumption. That's one of the reasons I think numbers are interesting. Something like the number 2 is vast and impossible to exhaustively describe or define, as what 'it' is is actually what it does in interacting with other numbers via various functions and such, and there are more true things about it than we could ever account for. I think almost any 'thing' that we so designate is like this, the boundaries between it and not it are arbitrary functions of our act of definition or designation... This shit makes my head hurt. Academic philosophy never delivered what I was looking for, so I moved toward more active endeavors.

opherdonchin
08-25-2002, 05:46 PM
Well, at this point we may be meandering away from a discussion that belongs in an AiKiDo forum, but I do recommend the Varela book. Very accessible and down to earth.

As far as numbers go, there are some interesting books about this, too. I recently read a book called The Mathematical Experience (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0395929687/qid=103) by Davis and Hersh. It really spoke to me as someone who was a mathematician in an earlier stage of life.
Academic philosophy never delivered what I was looking for, so I moved toward more active endeavors.I guess I came to it late enough in life that I had a good idea of what I wanted to get out of it, and what it might and might not offer me. Interestingly, Varela says that the primary difference between phenomenology and buddhism is that buddhism insists that deep understanding must necessarily have an experiential component, while the phenomenologists remained with the Western philosophical tradition of intellectual understanding. This is, to his mind, the biggest failing of the phenomenologists.