Christopher Li wrote:
Not clashing is great - but my point here was, I guess, that it's too limiting to define the whole of Aiki of off a single standard. In any case, my primary point was that there is no general agreement as to what constitutes Aiki.
Minoru Mochizuki said that "artillery is Aiki" - how do you use artillery without clashing?
I can agree with that - it wouldn't do any good to attempt to define the whole of Aiki off of a single standard. Yet, I feel that saying what something is not, is not an attempt to define the whole of something. It is simply saying what is not a part of that whole (whatever that may be). If you look at me and you say, "Dave is not a crab fisherman by trade," you'd be right, but (as you are pointing out) you wouldn't be able to say you understand the whole of me. Nevertheless, though you would not understand the whole of me, you'd be right, I am not a crab fisherman by trade. That statement is 100% accurate - regardless of what all else I might be.
This is how negative statements work - they aren't about trying to have huge detailed discussions on what something is. They are about having very simple statements concerning what something is not. As I said, great, huge, abstract, concepts, throughout human history have been described through such negative reasoning. This is true for things such as "God" and "Nirvana," etc. If we as humans can do it for "God," etc., we can do it for Aiki.
When I hear quotes like Mochizuki's, I take this in one or two ways: either the person is wrong and has no idea that he or she is wrong; or the person is speaking figuratively and/or is making use of Upaya (tailoring the discussion to the needs of his/her audience). I am guessing the latter for Mochizuki. For example, if I look at Mochizuki's audience and I can see that they are too "soft," too "non-martial," etc., and if I sense that they are these things because a particular understanding they hold on what "Aiki" and/or "Aikido" is is supporting that softness/non-martial aspect, then for sure, I'm going to guess he's speaking with Upaya. In that way, we are not looking at a call for going out and buying a cannon and/or to start clashing with our opponent. Rather, we are looking at an attempt to get folks to understand, when you are using Aiki, you are in tune with the whole of the Universe - and the Universe isn't as light as a feather (as they appear), isn't weak (as they appear), isn't so passive (as they appear), isn't so unstable in its control (as they appear) or in its intention (as they appear), and if you come up against such power - BAM! It's like being hit with a cannon shell - it's like artillery!
That is what I think he means. If I take it that way, it makes perfect sense to me. But if I'm going to take those kind of statements by great teachers like him to mean that we should start clashing, then I might as well take him to mean we should all go and buy cannons.