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NagaBaba 09-04-2012 01:53 PM

RE: Elegance
 
As I can't post reply on the other forum:

I like Alexander post.
Aestheticism comes from natural, powerful and efficient - under any circumstances - technique, not from collaborative uke. It means also, that this elegance is not flashy but rather austere. That is why I like very much Saito sensei way of doing techniques.

Many teachers, after years of training his ukes in specific way of receiving, forgot about such basic thing and pretend to practice ‘sophisticated' aikido…which of course is false and purely artificial.
When uke is trying with all his capacities to harmonize with tori to make a technique/teacher look ‘beautiful' it becomes ridicule. From this situation was born a legend that in aikido we shouldn't use the muscles LOL It always makes me laugh so hard(by using a lot of muscles!) - even typing on the keyboard one has to use muscles, let alone walking or throwing somebody…

aikishihan 09-04-2012 02:46 PM

Re: Elegance
 
It is a fact that native speakers in one language or culture, find it beyond difficult to fully assimilate and incorporate the nuances, cultural aspects and ease of facility with their adopted language or culture.

If we look at Aikido as a product of another culture, should we automatically fall into the trap of subconsciously and unfortunately accepting "second citizen status", and not attempt to become "native speakers ' and actors in the adopted culture, as many others triumphantly have? Yes, it takes an awful lot of drive, devotion, and dogged determination to accomplish the work that only time can oversee.

Names notwithstanding, many well meaning people can be actually immersed into a powerful cultural setting, and with teflon indifference, fail to carry any important or relevant lessons forward from such an experience when they subsequently return to their original pastures. Such proof is evident when one fairly and faithfully compares the results of those who are believable, and those who remain poseurs for the rest of their lives. The second category consistently fails to do the due diligence and honorable work of confirming their opinions, and affirming their understandings and knowledge.

Until the aikido community at large demands greater accountability, proven sources of provenance, and qualifying experiences of those who dare to expound without oversight, this forum will remain forever suspect in championing worthy discussions and theories of merit.

Oh yes, elegance is the title, yet how inelegant of me to ignore it until now.
Elegance is an opinion of what may or many not be factual, quantifiable, or even tangible. It remains in the eye, mind and soul of the lover of beauty to ultimately judge whether "elegance" indeed is an appropriate definition

Mario Tobias 09-05-2012 01:23 AM

Re: Elegance
 
From Wikipedia: Elegance is a synonym for beauty that has come to acquire the additional connotations of unusual effectiveness and simplicity. Elegant things exhibit refined grace and dignified propriety.

Elegance is in the eye of the beholder :D .

Some people find Saito-sensei's aikido as old fashioned and thus boring, but to me it is one of the most elegant styles due to it's naturalness, simplicity, straightforwardness and devastating effectiveness. Even if I hadn't felt Saito-sensei's techniques and just watched many of his videos, you can "feel" how effective it is and his teachings can be reproduced on the mat to validate their effectiveness.

For some teachers that have newer and modern styles, although their techniques look more sophisticated and refined, their effectiveness now comes into question.

NagaBaba 09-05-2012 02:10 PM

Re: Elegance
 
Quote:

Francis Takahashi wrote: (Post 315432)
It is a fact that native speakers in one language or culture, find it beyond difficult to fully assimilate and incorporate the nuances, cultural aspects and ease of facility with their adopted language or culture.

If we look at Aikido as a product of another culture, should we automatically fall into the trap of subconsciously and unfortunately accepting "second citizen status", and not attempt to become "native speakers ' and actors in the adopted culture, as many others triumphantly have? Yes, it takes an awful lot of drive, devotion, and dogged determination to accomplish the work that only time can oversee.

Names notwithstanding, many well meaning people can be actually immersed into a powerful cultural setting, and with teflon indifference, fail to carry any important or relevant lessons forward from such an experience when they subsequently return to their original pastures. Such proof is evident when one fairly and faithfully compares the results of those who are believable, and those who remain poseurs for the rest of their lives. The second category consistently fails to do the due diligence and honorable work of confirming their opinions, and affirming their understandings and knowledge.

Until the aikido community at large demands greater accountability, proven sources of provenance, and qualifying experiences of those who dare to expound without oversight, this forum will remain forever suspect in championing worthy discussions and theories of merit.

Oh yes, elegance is the title, yet how inelegant of me to ignore it until now.
Elegance is an opinion of what may or many not be factual, quantifiable, or even tangible. It remains in the eye, mind and soul of the lover of beauty to ultimately judge whether "elegance" indeed is an appropriate definition

Hi Francis,
Thank you for your reply. I like to think, that discussion about elegance in aikido must take in consideration various aspects of the Japanese culture. If we take a look at the calligraphy masters, swordsmith, painting, ikebana or tea ceremony masters, they attempt to reach perfection in simplicity. That is how elegance is achieved in Japan.
Aikido is on the same line -- a technique is compared to one cut with sword. Add one unnecessary gesture and suddenly elegance becomes a ‘Mannerism'. Pure heart and spiritual intuition can't be achieved with such ‘Mannerism'.
So yes, you are right, from one point of view a definition of elegance in aikido can be futile, but in the other hand, we need the directions for our training. May we, even temporary, provide working definition to help us become perfect?

NagaBaba 09-05-2012 02:40 PM

Re: Elegance
 
Quote:

Mario Tobias wrote: (Post 315457)

For some teachers that have newer and modern styles, although their techniques look more sophisticated and refined, their effectiveness now comes into question.

Good post Mario!

aikishihan 09-05-2012 03:59 PM

Re: Elegance
 
Nice response, Szczepan. I prefer this language to other writings you have made.

Opinions will always vary as to the definition and application of the word "elegance". This is as it should be, since we all are blessed to varying degrees with the sensibility to discern differences in presentation. And it is in presentation itself that we find a home for the word elegance. To me, elegance can be compared to the frosting on the cake, but never the cake itself. It is much about the old dichotomy of "style" vs. "substance". So, if you can appreciate "elegance" in the works of the masters you reference, kudos to your sense of "style". Perhaps for others, it is the very meat of "substance" that is the real appeal, and the fundamental value to treasure.

Gerardo Torres 09-05-2012 04:31 PM

Re: Elegance
 
Quote:

Szczepan Janczuk wrote: (Post 315430)
Many teachers, after years of training his ukes in specific way of receiving,

For the record, Iwama style teachers and schools are no different to other aikido schools in that they also train their uke in specific ways of receiving. Some aikido styles out there like to claim badass aikido or "the real aikido", and many like to put down other styles. Truth is they all use the trained uke model, whether it's a more technically-oriented style or not. As soon as they go out of their style with different uke, their stuff doesn't work as expected anymore (it only takes a bit of experience and honesty to observe this). If any particular style had the "real goods", all aikidoka would flock to that style just like people flocked to Ueshiba and Takeda. But that ain't happening, right?

graham christian 09-05-2012 04:48 PM

Re: Elegance
 
Quote:

Gerardo Torres wrote: (Post 315501)
For the record, Iwama style teachers and schools are no different to other aikido schools in that they also train their uke in specific ways of receiving. Some aikido styles out there like to claim badass aikido or "the real aikido", and many like to put down other styles. Truth is they all use the trained uke model, whether it's a more technically-oriented style or not. As soon as they go out of their style with different uke, their stuff doesn't work as expected anymore (it only takes a bit of experience and honesty to observe this). If any particular style had the "real goods", all aikidoka would flock to that style just like people flocked to Ueshiba and Takeda. But that ain't happening, right?

I don't agree with this. I believe it's a matter of understanding why that uke 'model' is correct. To be able to have it work with uke's from a different style is purely down to how advanced the practitioner is I would say. Thus it's not a matter of particular style but rather particular individuals. Alas I digress from topic.

On that topic I personally don't and wouldn't use the term elegance myself but would use the term grace or graceful. For me when substance becomes graceful we have a high standard.

Peace.G.

sorokod 09-05-2012 05:00 PM

Re: Elegance
 
As long as we are on the record:
Quote:

"There are often those who fancy themselves great by virtually knocking their partners down flat on the mat. Their concept of hard training is utterly wrong. The essence of real training lies in the throwing process. When let loose mercilessly, Aikido techniques do not allow Ukemi. It therefore behoves you to throw your partner in such a manner that he can respond with Ukemi without fear of injury. The purpose of Aikido training is to build up strength, not to inflict injury".

- Saito Morihiro , Traditional Aikido, Vol. 5

James Sawers 09-05-2012 05:39 PM

Re: Elegance
 
Quote:

David Soroko wrote: (Post 315505)
As long as we are on the record:

"There are often those who fancy themselves great by virtually knocking their partners down flat on the mat. Their concept of hard training is utterly wrong. The essence of real training lies in the throwing process. When let loose mercilessly, Aikido techniques do not allow Ukemi. It therefore behoves you to throw your partner in such a manner that he can respond with Ukemi without fear of injury. The purpose of Aikido training is to build up strength, not to inflict injury".

- Saito Morihiro , Traditional Aikido, Vol. 5

David:

Very elegantly said....

Basia Halliop 09-05-2012 07:54 PM

Re: Elegance
 
" And it is in presentation itself that we find a home for the word elegance. To me, elegance can be compared to the frosting on the cake, but never the cake itself. It is much about the old dichotomy of "style" vs. "substance""

I have a different understanding of the word 'elegance', or at least, it has more than one meaning to me. I have many times heard the word applied in the maths and sciences, in the context of a mathematical or logical proof, a piece of computer code, or a solution to some practical problem. In that context, an 'elegant' solution always referred to one that was clear and simple and somehow got to the heart of the problem in some striking way. And it's not that it's just a different definition of the word -- because it's always said in such a way that implies an aesthetic judgment, that the internal logic of the solution is so perfect that it's beautiful to someone who loves the subject.

So for this reason what Szczepan is saying makes perfect sense to me -- the experience of 'elegant aikido' (or even beautiful aikido) comes from the 'rightness' of everything fitting together just right. So to me it isn't something that can be added on top of substance or substituted for substance; it's the substance itself that's elegant.

SeiserL 09-06-2012 03:59 AM

Re: Elegance
 
Elegance and excellence is always preferred over arrogance and ignorance in all we do.

Thanks for the reminder.

NagaBaba 09-06-2012 08:52 AM

Re: Elegance
 
Quote:

Basia Halliop wrote: (Post 315518)
" And it is in presentation itself that we find a home for the word elegance. To me, elegance can be compared to the frosting on the cake, but never the cake itself. It is much about the old dichotomy of "style" vs. "substance""

I have a different understanding of the word 'elegance', or at least, it has more than one meaning to me. I have many times heard the word applied in the maths and sciences, in the context of a mathematical or logical proof, a piece of computer code, or a solution to some practical problem. In that context, an 'elegant' solution always referred to one that was clear and simple and somehow got to the heart of the problem in some striking way. And it's not that it's just a different definition of the word -- because it's always said in such a way that implies an aesthetic judgment, that the internal logic of the solution is so perfect that it's beautiful to someone who loves the subject.

So for this reason what Szczepan is saying makes perfect sense to me -- the experience of 'elegant aikido' (or even beautiful aikido) comes from the 'rightness' of everything fitting together just right. So to me it isn't something that can be added on top of substance or substituted for substance; it's the substance itself that's elegant.

Very well said, Basia. I can't express it better.

You know Francis; I had opportunity to visit a place of young swordsmith in Japan, deep in the countryside. I was astonished by simplicity of place and very primary tools he is using to create an Art. Because, despite of his young age, he creates the swords of great quality for cutting as well as for expositions... At the same time the swordsmith was a simple man, truly humble, not flashy or pretentious…There was not dichotomy of "style" vs. "substance", the elegance was simply present everywhere, in the artist, in the place, in the Art…everywhere...
I believe that such dichotomy doesn't really exist, it is only our false perception, we got it in our education full of dualistic concepts, and now we are trying very hard to find it everywhere…
As for my language, sometimes one has to use a hammer, and sometimes lancet.. I know how to use various tools :)

lars beyer 09-06-2012 09:11 AM

Re: Elegance
 
Quote:

Lynn Seiser wrote: (Post 315534)
Elegance and excellence is always preferred over arrogance and ignorance in all we do.

Thanks for the reminder.

Yes Mr. Seiser

NagaBaba 09-06-2012 09:24 AM

Re: Elegance
 
Quote:

Gerardo Torres wrote: (Post 315501)
For the record, Iwama style teachers and schools are no different to other aikido schools in that they also train their uke in specific ways of receiving. Some aikido styles out there like to claim badass aikido or "the real aikido", and many like to put down other styles. Truth is they all use the trained uke model, whether it's a more technically-oriented style or not. As soon as they go out of their style with different uke, their stuff doesn't work as expected anymore (it only takes a bit of experience and honesty to observe this). If any particular style had the "real goods", all aikidoka would flock to that style just like people flocked to Ueshiba and Takeda. But that ain't happening, right?

Gerardo,
I don't practice Iwama style so I can't say if it is a case for them. I don't attach elegance to a particular style but I can rather observe it in personal practice an individual. I was talking about Saito sensei himself.

My reference to ‘trained uke' was to point out to the teaching as a tool to achieve elegance (as Basia expressed so well) "the internal logic of the solution is so perfect that it's beautiful to someone who loves the subject". Such perfect internal logic can't be achieved with the artificial model of uke.

If we take example of the swordsmen who cuts a target -- the beauty of the cut happens not because target helps swordsman to create harmonious situation, does it? On the contrary, target is doing anything in his capacity to NOT to be cut. That creates dramatic and dangerous situation from where perfect, elegant cut can be born.

The same mechanism is used i.e. by Zen masters to create dramatic changes in the minds of the students -- they are using mental paradoxes as a tool, to help students to abandon usual logic to be able to grasp intuition.

As you can see from these two examples (one purely physical, second spiritual) it is always a Nage job to create elegance through perfection. As aikido contains both physical AND spiritual aspects, it is very clear what path must be chosen.

Janet Rosen 09-06-2012 09:39 AM

Re: Elegance
 
Quote:

Szczepan Janczuk wrote: (Post 315491)
Aikido is on the same line -- a technique is compared to one cut with sword. Add one unnecessary gesture and suddenly elegance becomes a ‘Mannerism'. Pure heart and spiritual intuition can't be achieved with such ‘Mannerism'.

The artist smiles and agrees :)

aikishihan 09-06-2012 10:11 AM

Re: Elegance
 
From Wikipedia, “elegance” is considered a “synonym of beauty”, and a “standard of tastefulness”. It connotes “simplicity and consistency of design, focusing on the essential features of an object”. In Japanese, something elegant is called “yubina” or “johin na”.

As such, I have no quarrel with the application of the term “elegance” as used by Szczepan or Basia to the examples given. Again, with beauty being in the eyes of the beholder, we perhaps need to re examine what is being beheld, the actual features of that substance that speak to its true value, of utility and of application.

I too see and profoundly appreciate the beauty in all art forms, artificially created by man, and wondrously produced by Nature. I too can appreciate how amazingly efficient such simplicity of design can enhance the utility and function of such objects. Yet, I cannot forget that the substance of such objects are, beyond doubt, separate and independent from any description of its esthetic value or notions of elegance. It is not necessary to muse about the elegant craftsmanship of the katana maker, to appreciate fully the purpose and function of such a creation. One can wonder endlessly about the form of the SR-71 Blackbird, blissfully ignorant of the true nature and purpose of this awesome weapon of mass destruction. Lastly, what of the fantastic singing of the Humpback whales, delivering messages unknown over hundreds of miles of ocean, leaving us only the ability to call such songs “elegant” and mysterious.

No, I cannot knowingly fuse both form and function into one quivering mass of ecstasy, orgasmically enthralled by such an impossible union of opposites. We must respect the purpose and intent of the object we encounter independently from the pleasure we may derive from simply observing it from afar. The elegance we attribute to martial arts mastery must never mask the sad fact that good people still fight, for reasons forever suspect, or that they will continue to do so. It can only be hoped that our championing of Aikido can act as a counter balance to most of it, giving respite and peace whenever and wherever it is successful.

And Szczepan, merely knowing "how to use various tools" does not ensure that the work produced will be automatically appreciated, appropriate or elegant.Being honorable, respectful and kind works best.

James Sawers 09-06-2012 11:43 AM

Re: Elegance
 
Quote:

Francis Takahashi wrote: (Post 315550)
No, I cannot knowingly fuse both form and function into one quivering mass of ecstasy, orgasmically enthralled by such an impossible union of opposites. We must respect the purpose and intent of the object we encounter independently from the pleasure we may derive from simply observing it from afar. The elegance we attribute to martial arts mastery must never mask the sad fact that good people still fight, for reasons forever suspect, or that they will continue to do so. It can only be hoped that our championing of Aikido can act as a counter balance to most of it, giving respite and peace whenever and wherever it is successful.

.

I thought that when form follows function, they are one? Isn't that the intent, nothing superfluous...

Gary David 09-06-2012 11:51 AM

Re: Elegance
 
Quote:

Francis Takahashi wrote: (Post 315550)
From Wikipedia, "elegance" is considered a "synonym of beauty", and a "standard of tastefulness". It connotes "simplicity and consistency of design, focusing on the essential features of an object". In Japanese, something elegant is called "yubina" or "johin na".

As such, I have no quarrel with the application of the term "elegance" as used by Szczepan or Basia to the examples given. Again, with beauty being in the eyes of the beholder, we perhaps need to re examine what is being beheld, the actual features of that substance that speak to its true value, of utility and of application.

I too see and profoundly appreciate the beauty in all art forms, artificially created by man, and wondrously produced by Nature. I too can appreciate how amazingly efficient such simplicity of design can enhance the utility and function of such objects. Yet, I cannot forget that the substance of such objects are, beyond doubt, separate and independent from any description of its esthetic value or notions of elegance. It is not necessary to muse about the elegant craftsmanship of the katana maker, to appreciate fully the purpose and function of such a creation. One can wonder endlessly about the form of the SR-71 Blackbird, blissfully ignorant of the true nature and purpose of this awesome weapon of mass destruction. Lastly, what of the fantastic singing of the Humpback whales, delivering messages unknown over hundreds of miles of ocean, leaving us only the ability to call such songs "elegant" and mysterious.

No, I cannot knowingly fuse both form and function into one quivering mass of ecstasy, orgasmically enthralled by such an impossible union of opposites. We must respect the purpose and intent of the object we encounter independently from the pleasure we may derive from simply observing it from afar. The elegance we attribute to martial arts mastery must never mask the sad fact that good people still fight, for reasons forever suspect, or that they will continue to do so. It can only be hoped that our championing of Aikido can act as a counter balance to most of it, giving respite and peace whenever and wherever it is successful.

And Szczepan, merely knowing "how to use various tools" does not ensure that the work produced will be automatically appreciated, appropriate or elegant.Being honorable, respectful and kind works best.

Francis
For me elegance denotes both beauty and a presence that fits a view of design that "hits" me at the moment. To me elegance is applied to something or someone who is not in motion..........once in motion grace applies.....and one does not need to be elegant.

Your example of the SR-71....elegance in stillness, graceful in flight, effective in purpose and destructive in nature (results). Of course this applies to any number of aikidoist I have seen over the years....as does any combination of these attributes. I have seen folks who are elegant standing and missing the rest. Effective while not elegant or graceful....any combination of these are possible...

So elegance, grace, effectiveness and results.....wow.....a 100 or a 1000 possible combinations

as always
Gary

Dave Gallagher 09-06-2012 09:17 PM

Re: Elegance
 
I don't know about elegance and Aikido but I remember years ago watching a post fight interview on tv of a boxer who was at the end of his career. He was asked why he continued to fight when he was wealthy and did not need the money. He had an excellent reply.... "for the beauty of it".

iwamaki 09-08-2012 12:08 PM

Re: Elegance
 
When myself and my fellow students were taking ukemi for Saito-sensei in Iwama there was no thought of cooperation. There was only one place we were going to go, and that is exactly where he decided to put us.
Any attempt to resist was like getting run over by an express train. Saito-sensei was REALLY strong, and the ten years I spent with him in Iwama were the best of my life.

oisin bourke 09-08-2012 01:51 PM

Re: Elegance
 
Here are the words of a master of the shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute.

I think it resonates with this topic.

"Geido (the Way of Art)

The secret of the way of art is in wabi and sabi. Like seeing all of life in a single stem of a flower, as a player you put all of life's force into the sound of one note, and this transcends life and death. This is true of any Eastern philosophy and art. Sometimes its called kyo or mu. With the tangible you participate in the intangible. With the visible, you go into the invisible. These are deep and high truths, and hard to understand by lay people. Shakuhachi koten honkyoku is an extreme example of this. So when you live in the rarified world of koten honkyoku where nothing is there, that is where you live limitlessly. Like Bashō, Rikyû, Saigyõ, you live in Jakubaku (aloneness).

"Autumn evening, This path, no-one is walking
At the foot of the mountain in Winter,
is there anyone else who is enduring this loneliness?"

Unlike Western culture which analytically tries to express the height of the human spirit (extrovert), Eastern culture looks for the heavenly world in this invisible, hidden arena of wabi and sabi. "Willow is green, flowers are red" That is the essence of creation. "Duck's feet are short, crane's feet are long". We want to cultivate the goodness of Eastern culture and learn the benefits of Western culture. Everything goes back to one-ness
.'

This was taken from
http://www.japanshakuhachi.com/jinnyodo.html

Rob Watson 09-08-2012 06:11 PM

Re: Elegance
 
Quote:

Francis Takahashi wrote: (Post 315550)
I too see and profoundly appreciate the beauty in all art forms, artificially created by man, and wondrously produced by Nature.

Nature created man so by all that man creates is natural. Logic can be elegant in the eyes of some.

Quote:

Francis Takahashi wrote: (Post 315550)
One can wonder endlessly about the form of the SR-71 Blackbird, blissfully ignorant of the true nature and purpose of this awesome weapon of mass destruction.

The SR-71 is (was) used for recon and has precious little payload space for weapons. Only a few were refitted to carry external drones which may have been weapons ... weapon of mass destruction it is not.

Elegance and ignorance may well be strange bedfellows. I prefer to steer clear of the latter.

PeterR 09-08-2012 10:03 PM

Re: Elegance
 
Quote:

Robert M Watson Jr wrote: (Post 315649)
Nature created man so by all that man creates is natural. Logic can be elegant in the eyes of some.

The SR-71 is (was) used for recon and has precious little payload space for weapons. Only a few were refitted to carry external drones which may have been weapons ... weapon of mass destruction it is not.

Elegance and ignorance may well be strange bedfellows. I prefer to steer clear of the latter.

Well offence and defence can be considered a product of range,. A fighter aircraft is a defensive weapon whereas recon can be considered the eyes of an offensive force. However, the SR-71 is elegance personified - that is just one beautiful/elegant design.

Anyway I think the key word for elegance is simplicity. Minimal movement delivering maximum effect and that pretty much matches the wikipedia definition. I have seen some Aikido demonstrations that had all sorts of extras that destroyed any sense of elegance and some brutally simple moves that were the height of elegance. Strangely (or perhaps not) the most elegant moves I've seen were in unscripted randori whereas human nature being what it is - the concept of elegance was destroyed with the martial flourish in demonstrations. This I think is true in Judo, Karate, name your flavour.

Mario Tobias 09-09-2012 02:03 AM

Re: Elegance
 
Quote:

Peter Rehse wrote: (Post 315651)
Anyway I think the key word for elegance is simplicity. Minimal movement delivering maximum effect and that pretty much matches the wikipedia definition. I have seen some Aikido demonstrations that had all sorts of extras that destroyed any sense of elegance and some brutally simple moves that were the height of elegance. Strangely (or perhaps not) the most elegant moves I've seen were in unscripted randori whereas human nature being what it is - the concept of elegance was destroyed with the martial flourish in demonstrations. This I think is true in Judo, Karate, name your flavour.

I can think of one name which can't be contested.

Kyuzo mifune

His techniques are tried and tested in randori. His movements are the most brilliant I have seen in a realistic setting ranging from the simplest to most advance techniques. There is nothing artificial in any of his movements.

The commonality with mifune sensei, saito sensei and osensei, I consider them technicians of an art.

I guess that they have elevated their art to perfection that they don't need sophisticated, flashy movements to look awesome that one is elated even with their simplest movements. We should be able to equate elegance with perfection, which can be achieved in the context of japanese martial arts within one's lifetime.


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