PDA

View Full Version : Doka of the day


Please visit our sponsor:
 

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


lbb
05-20-2015, 09:32 AM
For May 20:

Training everyday,
I smile again to see
The King of the Eight Powers
About to give his battle cry.
- Morihei Ueshiba

Who or what is the King of the Eight Powers?

PeterR
05-20-2015, 09:55 AM
For May 20:

Who or what is the King of the Eight Powers?

Buddha

Chris Li
05-20-2015, 11:33 AM
The eight powers are the eight opposing In-Yo (Yin-Yang) forces (made up of four pairs), discussed here (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/aikido-structure-universe/). The "King of the Eight Powers" is a name for the "Kami of Opposing Forces", who is also called Kunitokotachi-no-Kami - who is sometimes associated with Amenominakanushi - who Morihei Ueshiba sometimes identified as...himself (rather, the human element in heaven-earth-man).

In other words, Morihei Ueshiba is talking about the In-Yo interactions that are the heart of his technical method.

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
05-20-2015, 12:47 PM
The eight powers are the eight opposing In-Yo (Yin-Yang) forces (made up of four pairs), discussed here (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/aikido-structure-universe/). The "King of the Eight Powers" is a name for the "Kami of Opposing Forces", who is also called Kunitokotachi-no-Kami - who is sometimes associated with Amenominakanushi - who Morihei Ueshiba sometimes identified as...himself (rather, the human element in heaven-earth-man).

In other words, Morihei Ueshiba is talking about the In-Yo interactions that are the heart of his technical method.

Best,

Chris

Okay so the in-yo interactions are about to give a battle cry and this makes him smile...why is that? Does it sound like a fart or something? That would be very Japanese.

allowedcloud
05-20-2015, 02:54 PM
The eight powers are the eight opposing In-Yo (Yin-Yang) forces (made up of four pairs), discussed here (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/aikido-structure-universe/). The "King of the Eight Powers" is a name for the "Kami of Opposing Forces", who is also called Kunitokotachi-no-Kami - who is sometimes associated with Amenominakanushi - who Morihei Ueshiba sometimes identified as...himself (rather, the human element in heaven-earth-man).

In other words, Morihei Ueshiba is talking about the In-Yo interactions that are the heart of his technical method.

Best,

Chris

Hi Chris,

For awhile I have been struggling with the meaning of the "Eight Powers" and how they relate to our training. I'm reminded by your article that he expressed them in terms of pairs of numbers (9-1, 8-2, 7-3, 6-4 etc), stating the different relationships between yin and yang, but it seems in Aikido that we aspire to do just 5-5 (circular aiki?). Do you think the more (uh, linear?) aiki was taught/demonstrated by O-sensei? Or perhaps it's one of the differences between his pre-war and post-war art?

Chris Li
05-20-2015, 05:08 PM
Hi Chris,

For awhile I have been struggling with the meaning of the "Eight Powers" and how they relate to our training. I'm reminded by your article that he expressed them in terms of pairs of numbers (9-1, 8-2, 7-3, 6-4 etc), stating the different relationships between yin and yang, but it seems in Aikido that we aspire to do just 5-5 (circular aiki?). Do you think the more (uh, linear?) aiki was taught/demonstrated by O-sensei? Or perhaps it's one of the differences between his pre-war and post-war art?

Hi Josh,

I don't think that conventional Aikido (modern Aikido?) pays much attention to it, although they certainly ought to, IMO.

The eight powers are different combinations of yin and yang that produce different effects or "jins", basically speaking. In terms of the balancing, as we see in Morihei Ueshiba's citation of Kiichi Hogen (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/kiichi-hogen-secret-aikido/), the actual numbers don't matter so much as the fact that they have to balance. Without that you can't get the neutral, and you introduce stagnancy.

Of course, it's important to remember that there's something missing when Morihei Ueshiba talks about yin and yang, and that's...the other person. He references it (as you know) in terms of oneself, in terms of balancing those forces within one's own body - "I am the Universe", not "You and I are the Universe". :)

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
05-20-2015, 08:00 PM
So he is smiling to see the king of the eight powers about to give his battle cry from within himself? Not in some student on the mat?

dps
05-20-2015, 10:37 PM
The eight powers are the eight opposing In-Yo (Yin-Yang) forces (made up of four pairs), discussed here (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/aikido-structure-universe/). The "King of the Eight Powers" is a name for the "Kami of Opposing Forces", who is also called Kunitokotachi-no-Kami - who is sometimes associated with Amenominakanushi - who Morihei Ueshiba sometimes identified as...himself (rather, the human element in heaven-earth-man).

In other words, Morihei Ueshiba is talking about the In-Yo interactions that are the heart of his technical method.

Best,

Chris

Clear as mud.

dps

Chris Li
05-20-2015, 10:52 PM
Okay so the in-yo interactions are about to give a battle cry and this makes him smile...why is that? Does it sound like a fart or something? That would be very Japanese.

So he is smiling to see the king of the eight powers about to give his battle cry from within himself? Not in some student on the mat?

Clear as mud.

dps

Comments like these are exactly why I rarely participate in AikiWeb anymore. If anybody else has questions about what the founder of their art was talking about feel free to PM me, I'll refrain from participating in any more threads.

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
05-21-2015, 06:48 AM
I apologize if you found my questions challenging, Mr. Li.

lbb
05-21-2015, 08:29 AM
I apologize if you found my questions challenging, Mr. Li.

I think I would describe them as "mocking" and "confrontational" rather than "challenging", honestly.

Chris, thank you for answering my question. Your answer was very helpful. I don't entirely get what is being talked about (hey, it's esoteric stuff, right?), but I sincerely appreciate the effort.

allowedcloud
05-21-2015, 08:45 AM
Comments like these are exactly why I rarely participate in AikiWeb anymore. If anybody else has questions about what the founder of their art was talking about feel free to PM me, I'll refrain from participating in any more threads.

Best,

Chris

Chris,

One purpose of my question was an attempt to get the thread back on track. Obviously, I have failed.

The apparent lack of moderation action in regards to some of the comments here has convinced me that this is not a place where we can discuss such things.

Cliff Judge
05-21-2015, 10:01 AM
edit: I think I would describe them as "mocking" and "confrontational" rather than "challenging", honestly.

Well I'll own "irreverent," "cheeky," "flippant," and even "petulant" or "idiotic" with regards to the first one but there was no disrespect towards Chris intended.

Given the chain of associated names that Chris provided to identify the King of Eight Powers,

The eight powers are the eight opposing In-Yo (Yin-Yang) forces (made up of four pairs), discussed here (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/aikido-structure-universe/). The "King of the Eight Powers" is a name for the "Kami of Opposing Forces", who is also called Kunitokotachi-no-Kami - who is sometimes associated with Amenominakanushi - who Morihei Ueshiba sometimes identified as...himself (rather, the human element in heaven-earth-man).

In other words, Morihei Ueshiba is talking about the In-Yo interactions that are the heart of his technical method.

I think it is quite salient to ask what Ueshiba means by the "battle cry" of the King of Eight Powers and why it made him smile.

Because the original post was made in General I assumed it was a good faith attempt to generate an open discussion. After reflecting on this being a doka about eight directions, I envisioned Osensei smiling because he saw a student, you know, "get it." But then Chris pointed out

Of course, it's important to remember that there's something missing when Morihei Ueshiba talks about yin and yang, and that's...the other person. He references it (as you know) in terms of oneself, in terms of balancing those forces within one's own body - "I am the Universe", not "You and I are the Universe". :)

And that is where my second question came from. Was he then inspired to write this after engaging in his solo training? What was it that inspired him to write this? What was he trying to convey?

(edit: lost track of who I was addressing in this post...I apologize if it seems too directed at a specific poster.)

Cliff Judge
05-21-2015, 10:32 AM
Clear as mud.

dps

I don't think it was fair to lump this comment in with mine by the way. It may seem that an answer like

The eight powers are the eight opposing In-Yo (Yin-Yang) forces (made up of four pairs), discussed here. The "King of the Eight Powers" is a name for the "Kami of Opposing Forces", who is also called Kunitokotachi-no-Kami - who is sometimes associated with Amenominakanushi - who Morihei Ueshiba sometimes identified as...himself (rather, the human element in heaven-earth-man).

brings clarity to the discussion but it really does not. Not without a lot of explanation of who these entities are, what their provenance is, and why you think this. The cited blog post does not fully serve here, at least for me.

ken king
05-21-2015, 11:46 AM
Chris has spent a lot of time and effort translating and explaining these things in clear English on his many blog posts. Spend sometime reading more than just what he linked, they are well worth studying to reexamine the founders words with new found clarity of the "spiritual ramblings" we have been dismissing all these years. The real question here should be what is the in/yo relationship he is referring to when mentioning The King of the Eight Powers and how should it affect our training.

Chris, I hope you change your mind about posting here. There is a severe lack of any quality posting going here and yours would be sorely missed.

jonreading
05-21-2015, 12:02 PM
My two cents:

Kunitokotachi-no-Kami is referenced in the Kojiki, so is Amenominakanushi. O Sensei has several references to the Floating Bridge of Heaven (Amenominakanushi). I think he also has more than one doka that talk about the king (or maybe god) of eight powers:
Deep in the glow of Izu
Which Shines in the Heavens above
There is the reverberating sound
Of the King of the Eight Powers
The "Cross Of Aiki" (Love-Ki)
Of the structure of the Great and Swift God
The meritorious deeds (samuhara) of the
God of the Eight Powers.

I think in all these references, O Sensei is not referring to a physical sound, but rather something else. The first quote above is sometimes combined with another doka that talks about the mountain echo, which is a body posture - a posture trained in solo exercise. As a general interest, I'd like to know if that is a substantial relation or mere speculation.

To quote The Princess Bride, "I do not think it means what you think it means." I find most of the doka to be a combination of very clear instruction presented in a package that exceeds my functioning knowledge of my martial arts history, Japanese culture and Japanese language. I think most of the English translations I originally reviewed were intended to be "dummed down" and in many respects I think that work was not done well [enough]. Calculus is "clear as mud," for most of us, yet that truth makes calculus no less real or practical for those who understand it. It does create a distinction between the know/know-nots.

As a general observation of the doka, O Sensei included several concepts into many of his doka: Aiki (not aikido), the floating bridge, the opposing gods, the one god, sounds (like kotodama) and postures (or positions) are only a few of these themes. The King of Eight Powers appears enough to incur my interest.

I think while maybe for non-practitioners this stuff may be esoteric, I think it is probably a general knowledge with which we (aikido people) should be at least familiar. Considering how many books I have in my library with doka in them, you'd think I want to at least know to what they referred regardless of whether I inherited the content as part of my education process. I kinda like the thread and the question posted by Mary for this reason.

My personal opinion of this doka is that O Sensei is calling for regular (solo) training to build the aiki body (with some reference as to the posture - the roar of the mountain echo/batttle cry)...

FWIW

phitruong
05-21-2015, 12:26 PM
asian uses a lot of analogy in their descriptions. If you have ever read Terry Pratchett's "Interesting times", he wrote about it (Lord Hong talked about writing) pretty well. pretty funny, because it's so true.

as for the doka, i got out of it as,

i train every day, and happy to be able to balance the forces (opposing, yin-yang, in-yo, ho ho ho) within me to create aiki (taiji), which is ready to unleash/use on moment notice ("About to give his battle cry" = ready to unleash on moment notice).

JW
05-21-2015, 01:30 PM
And that is where my second question came from. Was he then inspired to write this after engaging in his solo training?


I think that's absolutely right. Most of those doka make me think of him after waking up and doing his morning misogi and tanren, feeling inspired by his physical sensations and interpretations thereof. This one is a perfect example.


What was it that inspired him to write this? What was he trying to convey?


I think Phi nailed it. "Battle cry" is what you perceive when someone/something with the ability to manifest great power is approaching. When I do my first exercises of the day, getting my body sorted out, I feel kind of like that.

Cliff Judge
05-21-2015, 01:51 PM
I think in all these references, O Sensei is not referring to a physical sound, but rather something else. The first quote above is sometimes combined with another doka that talks about the mountain echo, which is a body posture - a posture trained in solo exercise. As a general interest, I'd like to know if that is a substantial relation or mere speculation.

To quote The Princess Bride, "I do not think it means what you think it means." I find most of the doka to be a combination of very clear instruction presented in a package that exceeds my functioning knowledge of my martial arts history, Japanese culture and Japanese language. I think most of the English translations I originally reviewed were intended to be "dummed down" and in many respects I think that work was not done well [enough]. Calculus is "clear as mud," for most of us, yet that truth makes calculus no less real or practical for those who understand it. It does create a distinction between the know/know-nots.

From what little I know, translation is very difficult between Japanese and English. That's one of the things I greatly admire about Chris Li, his blog posts are a lot of work. The two languages differ on the semantic and even pragmatic levels (there are fundamental differences in what there is to be said and not just in how to say it). So if you want to accurately capture the meaning of the Japanese in English, it isn't going to make a lot of English sense. If you want it to sound good in English, you are going to have to add or subtract shades of meaning from the original. Furthermore, when you get into literature and poetry, there is an entire dimension of clever choices of kanji to express subtle or even multiple meanings. Note that [love-cross] comment in your first doka!

And I believe that Japanese poetry also expresses meaning using the caligraphy itself. So even if you were fluent in literary Japanese and reading it as typewritten characters, you'd still be missing thay layer of meaning.

So I don't think this type of writing is meant to be clear at all, or at least not explicit. Osensei is not trying to say something that is to be specifically interpreted. Not to take away from the importance of Chris Li's translations that he makes available to all of us. :)

Cliff Judge
05-21-2015, 01:57 PM
I think Phi nailed it. "Battle cry" is what you perceive when someone/something with the ability to manifest great power is approaching. When I do my first exercises of the day, getting my body sorted out, I feel kind of like that.

I would think you'd have made eye contact and sussed each other up for some time, and the battle cry is something that breaks tension and releases.

But you know...the term in Japanese might have other connotations that you could support by finding contemporary writings...maybe there is hope for my fart joke interpretation yet...

dps
05-21-2015, 04:30 PM
.... So if you want to accurately capture the meaning of the Japanese in English, it isn't going to make a lot of English sense. If you want it to sound good in English, you are going to have to add or subtract shades of meaning from the original. Furthermore, when you get into literature and poetry, there is an entire dimension of clever choices of kanji to express subtle or even multiple meanings. Note that [love-cross] comment in your first doka!

And I believe that Japanese poetry also expresses meaning using the caligraphy itself. So even if you were fluent in literary Japanese and reading it as typewritten characters, you'd still be missing thay layer of meaning.

So I don't think this type of writing is meant to be clear at all, or at least not explicit. Osensei is not trying to say something that is to be specifically interpreted. Not to take away from the importance of Chris Li's translations that he makes available to all of us. :)

This is what I meant when I posted "clear as mud", no disrespect intended just an observation.
Too many nuances of the language and culture of the Japanese and Chinese language and culture over the centuries to get a clear meaning.
Can you explain what you are talking about using modern biology of the body, like muscular, skeletal system, nervous system, facia, etc.?


dps

JW
05-21-2015, 04:32 PM
I would think you'd have made eye contact and sussed each other up for some time, and the battle cry is something that breaks tension and releases.

Well, I just don't think you need to bring a second person into it in the first place.

I can see how the words themselves, without any prejudice about what basic training entails, can lead to your interpretation-- so I am certainly not saying that is wrong. But in my understanding of training, this doka would very likely refer to a feeling within oneself during solo training.

Part of my interpretation is based on the initial words of the doka (but of course at some point it's true that we have to get away from the English translation to really make sense of anything). The "training everyday" makes it seem like the doka is referring to the most basic, fundamental level of practice (the "everyday" aspect).

If you take the most fundamental part of training to be partner practice, your "partner-based" interpretation makes the most sense. But, if you take solo misogi to be the fundamental aspect of practice, with partner practice being a less frequent type of training on top of it, then the doka seems to refer to a feeling that makes you smile that is independent of any partner.

jonreading
05-22-2015, 08:04 AM
I would think you'd have made eye contact and sussed each other up for some time, and the battle cry is something that breaks tension and releases.

But you know...the term in Japanese might have other connotations that you could support by finding contemporary writings...maybe there is hope for my fart joke interpretation yet...

I think in this doka, "battle cry" is kiai. What is kiai? A sudden expression of energy. For me, this is an indication that the proper training solicits a postures that creates the potential to express energy. I am moving away from "release" because releasing energy necessarily creates a need to restore energy. I am more a fan of the concept of energy through balance - a constant state of potential/kinetic energy that never has "down-time." If you kiai in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Yep.

Also, I think we need a differentiation between a kiai and yelling (which is not an expression of energy) and the possibility that the sound is only a metric of success of kiai because you can kiai without noise. In other doka, sometimes O Sensei talks about opposing sounds (Yah and Toh, for example), I think as a cycle of energy. The "sound" is simply a guide to the posture and movement (for example, "Toh" is sometimes explained as exhalation). We often see tori fune taught with some vocal component, presumably to help create the proper exercise movement. Otherwise, it's just yelling.

Cliff Judge
05-22-2015, 09:18 AM
I think in this doka, "battle cry" is kiai. What is kiai? A sudden expression of energy. For me, this is an indication that the proper training solicits a postures that creates the potential to express energy. I am moving away from "release" because releasing energy necessarily creates a need to restore energy. I am more a fan of the concept of energy through balance - a constant state of potential/kinetic energy that never has "down-time." If you kiai in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Yep.

I was thinking that but wasn't going to mention it without seeing the doka in Japanese.

Also because my head exploded!! AIKI making a KIAI ??? What if KIAI can make AIKI happen? If the King of the Eight Directions can make a KIAI, is there a king of something related to KIAI, who can make AIKI??

:freaky:

Also, I think we need a differentiation between a kiai and yelling (which is not an expression of energy) and the possibility that the sound is only a metric of success of kiai because you can kiai without noise. In other doka, sometimes O Sensei talks about opposing sounds (Yah and Toh, for example), I think as a cycle of energy. The "sound" is simply a guide to the posture and movement (for example, "Toh" is sometimes explained as exhalation). We often see tori fune taught with some vocal component, presumably to help create the proper exercise movement. Otherwise, it's just yelling.

and yeah kiai does not neccessarily have to be vocal. In Yagyu Shinkage ryu our kiai is mostly unvocalized. One metric for success of kiai is whether you manage to hit your sempai when in the uchidachi role of hankai-hankou or a few other kata.

Kiai that sounds like a yell certainly CAN be an expression of energy, and it can be sudden, or progressive, or constant.

I am not sure if we should regard the fact that the King of Eight Directions makes a "battle cry" to mean that this doka is about kiaijutsu though.

allowedcloud
05-22-2015, 09:56 AM
I think in this doka, "battle cry" is kiai. What is kiai? A sudden expression of energy. For me, this is an indication that the proper training solicits a postures that creates the potential to express energy. I am moving away from "release" because releasing energy necessarily creates a need to restore energy. I am more a fan of the concept of energy through balance - a constant state of potential/kinetic energy that never has "down-time." If you kiai in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Yep.

Also, I think we need a differentiation between a kiai and yelling (which is not an expression of energy) and the possibility that the sound is only a metric of success of kiai because you can kiai without noise. In other doka, sometimes O Sensei talks about opposing sounds (Yah and Toh, for example), I think as a cycle of energy. The "sound" is simply a guide to the posture and movement (for example, "Toh" is sometimes explained as exhalation). We often see tori fune taught with some vocal component, presumably to help create the proper exercise movement. Otherwise, it's just yelling.

Within the context of the doka, I take "battle cry" to mean "releasing the Mountain Echo (山彦)".

Cliff Judge
05-22-2015, 10:17 AM
Within the context of the doka, I take "battle cry" to mean "releasing the Mountain Echo (山彦)".

Do you mean within the context of all of the doka, or just within the context of this one?

allowedcloud
05-22-2015, 12:15 PM
Do you mean within the context of all of the doka, or just within the context of this one?

Yes.

jonreading
05-22-2015, 12:19 PM
Within the context of the doka, I take "battle cry" to mean "releasing the Mountain Echo (山彦)".

He is a doka I like that talks specifically to the mountain echo:

Blend the Ki within the self (ki-musubi)
Stand erect in the very center
Polish the spirit/mind (Kokoro)
"The Way of the Mountain Echo".

In this doka, I think we are talking about mountain echo as a outcome. Do x and y and you'll be the mountain echo. I am not sure if the mountain echo is an action. Also, I am not sure if "releasing" the mountain echo is a sudden expression of energy and now we're squabbling about kiai semantics.

Another point of interest for this doka is a clear reference to individual behavior (solo exercise) resulting in a desirable outcome. The blending translation here is not between partners, giving room for the possibility (probability) that aiki does not require energies from two (or more) people.

I think there is a good argument to be had that one can have aiki can not express it (kiai). I think similarly, one can express kiai and not have aiki. The kanji is ordered different, so I do think there is a relation; I am not sure it is a causal one. Aiki is not the sole property of aikido; there are plenty of people who express power (kiai) and no aiki and plenty of arts who have more aiki than many aikido people. As to whether there is a representative of aiki, I think O Sensei argued on several occasions that was him (or the aikido practitioner).

Cliff Judge
05-22-2015, 12:35 PM
Yes.

:freaky: :) :D

Cliff Judge
05-22-2015, 12:59 PM
Another point of interest for this doka is a clear reference to individual behavior (solo exercise) resulting in a desirable outcome. The blending translation here is not between partners, giving room for the possibility (probability) that aiki does not require energies from two (or more) people.

I don't think this is clearly a reference to solo exercise. To me it sounds more like a description of an experience that happened or could happen at one particular instant. There was some moment during teaching or a demonstration where Ueshiba had a revelation or epiphany and he is capturing the moment in a doka.

That would fit into a larger tradition of swordsmen having a fight, not dying, and then afterwards trying to capture what it was that allowed them to not die in poetry.

Orrr....maybe those guys were also just talking about training.


I think there is a good argument to be had that one can have aiki can not express it (kiai). I think similarly, one can express kiai and not have aiki. The kanji is ordered different, so I do think there is a relation; I am not sure it is a causal one. Aiki is not the sole property of aikido; there are plenty of people who express power (kiai) and no aiki and plenty of arts who have more aiki than many aikido people. As to whether there is a representative of aiki, I think O Sensei argued on several occasions that was him (or the aikido practitioner).

Well (hey stop rolling your eyes!) I think that the only arts that have aiki in them are Aikido, Daito ryu, and Toda ha Buko ryu, but that's because aiki is a label for a set of techniques and principles. The set is different among the three arts I just mentioned. Other arts have sets of technique / principles which overlap with what Aikido and DR have. However, if you insist on the universality of the label you don't do any art any justice. And I do grant that there may be a different set of techniques and principles between what gets done at the Aikikai Hombu these days and what Ueshiba was doing.

But that was an interesting parenthetical there at the end of your post, Jon. What if Ueshiba was talking only and exclusively about himself? About processes that were talking place in his universe and his alone? There would be no "(of the aikido practitioner)" and the doka could not be tutelary. Maybe he is just writing poems about how awesome he is, never suggesting that you could ever be that way.

jonreading
05-22-2015, 02:52 PM
I don't think this is clearly a reference to solo exercise. To me it sounds more like a description of an experience that happened or could happen at one particular instant. There was some moment during teaching or a demonstration where Ueshiba had a revelation or epiphany and he is capturing the moment in a doka.

That would fit into a larger tradition of swordsmen having a fight, not dying, and then afterwards trying to capture what it was that allowed them to not die in poetry.

Orrr....maybe those guys were also just talking about training.

Well (hey stop rolling your eyes!) I think that the only arts that have aiki in them are Aikido, Daito ryu, and Toda ha Buko ryu, but that's because aiki is a label for a set of techniques and principles. The set is different among the three arts I just mentioned. Other arts have sets of technique / principles which overlap with what Aikido and DR have. However, if you insist on the universality of the label you don't do any art any justice. And I do grant that there may be a different set of techniques and principles between what gets done at the Aikikai Hombu these days and what Ueshiba was doing.

But that was an interesting parenthetical there at the end of your post, Jon. What if Ueshiba was talking only and exclusively about himself? About processes that were talking place in his universe and his alone? There would be no "(of the aikido practitioner)" and the doka could not be tutelary. Maybe he is just writing poems about how awesome he is, never suggesting that you could ever be that way.

My parenthetical was intended to create a placeholder for us. I do not think that O Sensei was as "out of this league" as some imply and I honestly believe there are people and opportunities to train to such a level. I think there is a particularity to our individual training regimes that give us some freedom, but I have not yet come across documents or evidence that O Sensei wrote in a style that was self-important in the fashion you suggest. I have read several pieces that claim that "you are not doing what I do," but I haven't come across, "you will not be as good as me."

Part of why I write here and in my personal training journal is to help catalog my decisions, opinions and training. It helps me find my wrong turns and misunderstandings so I can correct my training and move on. I think, rather, I would turn this question on its head and ask, "if O Sensei laid a foundation of instruction that mimicked his path to success, how would that reflect upon our path to success? Part of my frustration is trying to figure out which part is crazy old man and which part is teaching, understanding that maybe what I think is crazy old man is actually teaching above my pay grade. Reading into your other question, what if it isn't the universality of aiki damaging the arts, what if it's the plurality of the arts damaging aiki?

Cliff Judge
05-22-2015, 04:04 PM
Part of why I write here and in my personal training journal is to help catalog my decisions, opinions and training. It helps me find my wrong turns and misunderstandings so I can correct my training and move on. I think, rather, I would turn this question on its head and ask, "if O Sensei laid a foundation of instruction that mimicked his path to success, how would that reflect upon our path to success?"

This would actually be a pretty easy question to answer. If he really wanted students to follow him on his path, then it is not entirely on us if we can't find it. If we find ourselves trying to reconstruct it, that's his failure for not making it something that is at least easy to find. IMO there were a good handful of swordsmen hundreds of years before Osensei who did a much better job at this.

Part of my frustration is trying to figure out which part is crazy old man and which part is teaching, understanding that maybe what I think is crazy old man is actually teaching above my pay grade. Reading into your other question, what if it isn't the universality of aiki damaging the arts, what if it's the plurality of the arts damaging aiki?

TOTALLY with you on the crazy old man part. Some days it makes me want to chuck the whole thing, other days I think its a call to just be more crazy. :)

It's not that applying the term everywhere and insisting that it is universal damages the arts themselves, its that it hurts you when you are in the middle level of training, when you've mastered a foundation and are about to start putting some things together.

The building blocks of different arts can be basically identical (Yagyu Shinkage ryu, Itto ryu, and orthodox Daito ryu all begin with teaching the student to move directly into an attack, just at the moment the attacker commits, and cutting him down). And they all tend to go to the same place - which I think is a state like mushin, where you basically don't move or do anything, and the universe bends around you. But the essential "flavor" is different at the end, because the path has been different.

The human brain wants to see patterns and similarities in the universe where there are none. But you have to pierce through that and try to see what is real underneath or you are not really letting new information into your system. That's how you progress. I am sure this is how you actually do things when you train, to the extent that your aiki is different than that of the people you train with. IMO if you can't see the distinctions between sets of principles that is sort of like getting lost on your path.