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ian
03-05-2001, 06:41 AM
I've been mulling this one over for a while, and come to a preliminary decision; though I would like to hear others views first. It may sound irrelevant, technical and not based in reality but here goes;

Musashi (book of 5 rings) suggests that to be a good swordsman we must 'distinguish between gain and loss in all things'. Conversely in Taoist thought there is no such thing as gain and loss (as they are inter-related).

Do you lot think in terms of gain and loss (e.g. do you think, I must get better at aikido)?, do you have goals? Is there anyone out there that really does not have any goals? Or do you think it is a lot of philosophical ruminant faeces and misses the point completely?

Ian

lyam
03-05-2001, 09:23 AM
Interesting question!

If I spend too much time thinking about getting better I end up getting frustrated which sucks. If I just go to class and practice with 'eyes open' I tend to do better naturally.

re: goals; It's important to have them, I've found it impossible to NOT have them. I just try to leave them off the mat.

philosophy has it's place but I like to think of it as a side effect of 'right action'. After all you don't construct epiphanies.
-----
sean farrell

j0nharris
03-27-2001, 07:21 AM
I don't think that I think about getting better at technique, but I do notice that I become more comfortable in the movement of my body over time.
What I focus on most in my practice is the intention of my movement; i.e., how am I moving to take uke's balance, am I centered, etc. Also on feeling the intention of uke's attack.

-jon

Mark Cochran
03-27-2001, 01:45 PM
I feel that the book of five rings deals with combat and the mind set that one needs to survive it. One must keep in mind that Musashi was trained in the way of the warrior and indoctrinated in the code of Bushido. The teaching that he studied were far more pragmatic than those found in Taoism. Thats not to say that Taoist wisdom has no place in the warriors ethic.

Chuck Clark
03-27-2001, 01:49 PM
ian wrote:
... in Taoist thought there is no such thing as gain and loss (as they are inter-related).


Gain and Loss (as well as all other "things" are inter-related. However, in the practical day to day existence, we all need to know which "language" we're speaking and why.

For example, full knowing that the body/mind construct is a whole, if I have a pain in my butt, it would not do me any good to tell the surgeon that "it is all the same" when he asks where to cut. I may end up with a nose job.

Cheers,

Guest5678
03-27-2001, 02:26 PM
For example, full knowing that the body/mind construct is a whole, if I have a pain in my butt, it would not do me any good to tell the surgeon that "it is all the same" when he asks where to cut. I may end up with a nose job.

Cheers,
[/B][/QUOTE]

Hey Clark sensei,

As you probably well know, with some people the pain in their butt IS their nose........

Regards,

Dan P. - Mongo

Aikidoka2000
03-27-2001, 04:28 PM
Some little known facts about Miyamoto Musashi's personality:
He was ambitious to the point of blindness.
He was a very focused man.
He self educated. (forced)
He was very smelly and gave no regard for personal hygiene whatsoever.
He was an opportunist.
He did not revere life.
He was a very brave man.
He was at times a thief, and liar,
a con artist and assassin.
He murdered at least one child in cold blood.
He killed more than 64 men (verified)
Probably countless others as well unverified.
Please forgive me, but when I hear mention of the book of five rings, I observe that this tome is often used a marker for how one should live one's life honorably, as well as how to fight and gain victory.
I submit to you that Miyamoto Musashi was probably the greatest swordsman who ever lived, born with a natural gift of fighting perfection.
I also submit that this unique ability was indeed only his, and his attempts to translate them on paper are useless, as extreme volumes of the philosophy of the warrior have existed for hundreds of years, and in fact, Musashi makes no new revelations on the subject in his book. I feel that Musashi was not a person one would want to emulate, and there are other more figures worthy of emulation. In my opinion, Miyamoto Musashi was essentially nothing more that a street thug, much like many of the Ronin of his day after Sekigahara, he challenged established Dojo leaders to death duels for no more purpose other that to fuel his own ambition. Now, again, we ARE talking about the swift and violent times of Sengokku Jidai, however there were many, many other people who distinguished themselves as true heroes without resorting to vicious activity at that time. I want to be clear however, that his skill with the sword is historically unparalleled, and he SHOULD be noted for the extraordinary anomaly he was, however it was my point that one may wish to perhaps examine the life of this man from a historical viewpoint, and as well some of the other books written on sword form and warriorship before they deify this person.
~End Rant
-Tomu

ian
04-06-2001, 11:05 AM
Thanks for the replies - its clarrified why there seems to be a big difference between what Musashi says, and traditional tao/zen philosophy.

However, it has lead me to think of this idea of intention in aikido practise. I think ideally when someone attacks, you do not respond with a set technique but respond with the most ideal technique for that situation.

However are you traning to have a set intention (so that you control your result, if not your actual body movements, through cerebral thought) or is the response absolutely instinctive (i.e. once the attack has taken place your cerebral thought does not interfere until the conflict is over?

From personal experience I have found the later to be true for me, even to the extent of having no memory of what just happened. Is this inadvisable and should I be avoiding this?

(this reason I tie this in to the idea of gain/loss, is that if we exist in the moment gain and loss loose all meaning).

Ian

jxa127
04-06-2001, 11:36 AM
Ian said:

However are you traning to have a set intention (so that you control your result, if not your actual body movements, through cerebral thought) or is the response absolutely instinctive (i.e. once the attack has taken place your cerebral thought does not interfere until the conflict is over?

From personal experience I have found the later to be true for me, even to the extent of having no memory of what just happened.


Have you ever read Zen and the Art of Archery? If not, I highly recommend it. What you've described sounds exactly like what the author of that book's sensei described as the perfect release: "It shoots." What that means is that you don't shoot, you aren't trying, you aren't making a conscious decision to let go. Instead, when everything is right, "it" shoots.

It's hard to describe, but I had that experience when I was on the rifle team at Penn State. There were times when I was "in the zone" when the rifle seemed to fire itself. When that happened, the shot was perfect every time.

My Aikido instructor says that in his experience in real life, a technique just appears and you do it.

My theory is that every time you go to class, you're training your body to get used to movement, distance, and timing. Then you couple those perceptions with body movement skills that eventually become reflexive. At the same time, you remain in perfect control of your body. My rifle really didn't fire itself, it just felt that way. In actuallity, the decision-making process of when to shoot went so quickly that it seemed unconscious.

By letting go of control, I had gained total control. Now I'm reminded about how difficult it is to talk about Zen ideas.

As for having goals: I try to train with my focus on what I'm doing right then. I have faith that in the long-term, I'll end up with more skill as a result. On the other hand, I'll sometimes go into class wanting to work on something that's been bothering me (off-balancing uke, for example), and I'll focus on that for a while. Mostly, I try to keep my approach to Aikido as fluid as possible. Things will happen when they do, and I'll learn as the rate I can and be happy with it. Rank tests add some stress, but those have seemed to go pretty well so far, so I don't worry about them much until test time.

-Drew Ames