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Old 06-09-2005, 07:34 PM   #65
Brion Toss
Dojo: Aikido Port Townsend
Location: Port Townsend, Wa.
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 104
Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Getting back to the original metaphor, the saying, "All paths lead to the top of the mountain" can be interpreted as "wrong headed", or it can be seen as what it is: metaphor. Kind of like, "Every cloud has a silver lining," or, "All roads lead to Rome," sayings that are obviously untrue from a strictly objective perspective, but which are useful nonetheless. Metaphor can be Zen whacky, like, "Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like figs." Or political, like, "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent." They are there to get the readers attention, engage the mind. You could say, "All paths that lead to the top of a given mountain do, by definition reach the top of that mountain." This would be precise, but far less useful. It might be worth noting that, except for the last, all of the above examples form either a whole, or multiple, or half line of iambic pentameter; they are poetry.
I say all of this because martial arts aren't the only ones that seek to do more with less. Engineers are big on this (Fuller called it "ephemeralization"), and wordsmiths can employ it as well. This can take the form of Elmore Leonard's prose (he has expressed a tongue-in-cheek desire to write an entire book using no adjectives), or Hemmingway's famously spare prose. And so on. Poetry in general, and metaphor in particular, are ways to approach stillness.
Relating this to the idea of two types of martial arts, I'd have to say that the distinction might be wrongheaded, that all paths do indeed lead to the top of the mountain. To stay with the metaphor, one can stop anywhere along the path, but it's not up to me to say if the path stops there. A student at a stripmall TKD school might not be getting helicoptered to the peak, but it can be a step, at least, just as English 101 can be a step on the road to a Pulitzer, or just a way to deal with computer manuals. It might be more useful to examine how we can promote growth, promote hunger for the next step, than to distinguish types of arts. Or, as someone once said, "There are two types of people: people who divide people into two groups, and people who don't."
Brion Toss
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