Clark Bateman wrote:
Just wanted to inject a word about the English translation. The translators, Jaques Payet Sensei and Christopher Watson Sensei, who are "western", but both longtime devotees of Yoshinkan, state at the outset of the book that the translation is not word-for-word, but has instead been enhanced to make it easier for "westerners" to understand.
The problem with translations is that problems always arise. Take for example one of the most significant errors in translating that has affected so many people and their studies, "jin". "Jin" is essentially what "kokyu" is, although there is a slightly enhanced meaning to "kokyu". Jin is a skill, as is kokyu, but out of the possible translations of "jin", the earlier translators chose the word "energy". It was the start of the "energy" revolution for the New Age. Combine "energy" with "ki" and you have the basis for a quasi-religion, as we've all seen.
Another case, but more to the point of what I'm trying to say is in this example: I once invited a teacher in to do teach (just an overview) a spear form that I'd heard about but never seen. He brought his wife with and she was a brilliant (PhD in Chemistry) native Chinese who had been raised in a martial-arts village; she spoke very fluent English and he spoke almost none. I happened to have found a copy of all the posture names in another place and I wanted to use them as a handout for the class. I asked the woman if she would translate the names from the Chinese into English. She tried for over a day to do it and gave me her best effort but told me she was not really able to do it because even though the characters and words were literally translatable, the actual meaning was something quited different to martial artists. I took the list to another Chinese who had studied martial arts his whole life and who also spoke fluent, idiomatic English... he translated it pretty quickly but cautioned me to never ask even a native speaker to understand the nuances that are meant in a martial context because the subtle changes in meaning can completely alter the meaning of the words.
Over the years, I've found that many martial-arts *basics* that were mistranslated into English by fluent speakers who have lived in a country, etc., were wrong. I'm not pointing any fingers (particularly not at the generous people who have taken the time to provide us translations), I'm pointing out an area where I'm always very cautious. Take a simple example... does "shihonage" mean "four-direction throw" as it is literally translated (even in many books), or does the phrase "any-direction throw" more adequately convey the original sense? Some translators' versions are different than other translators' versions and sometimes all these versions are different from the idiomatic sense of the word.