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Old 06-12-2005, 12:24 PM   #72
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 9
Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the reply - here's my thoughts on the various aspects you mention:

Mike Sigman wrote:
Hi Bryan:

Well, you're making some good points. In fact, I'd be arguing your guess at the most reasonable development of these skills in martial arts, except for a few things that pop to my mind (not in any order):

1. If there were many different developments of essentially different body skills, etc., they wouldn't all be based on the ki/qi paradigm... which they are.
Well, it could just be that since ki/qi is a catch-all phrase for essentially unknown phenomina, as you've been arguing on the forum, that it's therefore not a surprise that all these developements are based on the ki/qi paradigm, since they all occur in Asian countries?

Interestingly it makes me wonder if Western arts had anything like this before we lost them all (presumably because of the industrial revolution). However while I'm not very familiar with accounts of Western boxers and fencers, etc, there appears to be *very little* reporting of feats of unusual strength... I'm curious as to why that is. Maybe the church's culture of burning witches during the middle ages kin of made any motion towards the 'unusual' less attractive...?

2. In about 1982 I helped edit a translation of the "basics" of Chinese martial arts... weirdly, it turns out that these "basics" and the sayings and poems around them are pretty much accepted throughout all the martial art styles. I don't know why, but this unifying and codifying seems to recur in various areas of Chinese studies. Just to mention an example, Tai Chi has a famous saying that many practitioners talk about as if it were the hallmark of Tai Chi: "Using one ounce to deflect a thousand pounds".... that saying is common throughout almost all Chinese martial arts in relation to high level of skill.
Well, if I remember rightly.... even in the Tai Chi classic this phrase is quoted as if it was a phrase that already existed. It should be no surprise that it comes from an earlier time. Marnix Well's upcoming book 'Scholar Boxer' about Chang Family boxing (don't worry, not Chang Seng Feng - family ) as possible pre-curser to TCC may have more information here.

3. The old "poems" etc., show up as markers ... perhaps a skill could have been "re-discovered", but if the skill shows up and the person showing it also knows the standard terminology (As Ueshiba did), that pretty much lays the question to rest. This is the main killer to your thesis... the recurrence of the well-known sayings and admonitions of ki development using the same or similar words.
Well, if there's only one way to do somethig with a human body with a goal of efficiencey in mind.... and while looking into this with your martial art in mind you read an old 'classic' that points the way - you might rediscover this method for yourself, based on the 'pointer' from the past?

4. There is only one way to do some of these skills correctly. The whole sets of skills took many generations to develop and it would be simply impossible for any one person to happen on the same skills or putative similar skills that I've never seen in a *grouping* that is like the standard grouping. Mathematically almost impossible.
This is a powerful argument against my thesis I think. Would it actually be possible to discover *everything* that had been discovered before yourself? Well... as you say mathematically impossible.

Ask yourself this though - could the founder of Aikido, great though he was, have broken that stack of brings that Ku Yu Chang broke with a palm slap using iron palm? Probably not, I'd have ventured.

Of course, we have no way of knowing. My point being that while OSensi had developed ki skills extensively in one area - harmonising, and motion towards stillness, he may have had very little ability in other areas of what are also ki skills.

5. Given the trading and cultural position of the Chinese in earlier days, it seems pretty natural that the countries who also acquired these skills got them from China.
I'd agree - there can be little doubt about this.

Another point worth noting is that we are beyond the peak days of martial arts. Few people try to maintain the old traditions in the old styles and there is no new developments of skills driven by the need for martial arts, as it was in the old days. In other words, any suggestions of innovations since the peak days would require scrutiny...
I'm often in 2 minds about this. I guess it depends on when exactly in the 'old days' we were talking. For somebody practicing these sorts of skills a hundred years ago life expectancy would possibly be very short - they may have been expected to die on a battlefield, while these days we have all this leasure time and longer life times to persue these activities. Hard to say.

the probability actually leans in favor of most martial arts following a pattern when they exhibit similar characteristics (and if you've ever watched the qi and qigong demonstrations of a Chinese martial arts tournament, you'd know that the martial demonstrations fall always into certain well-known things that can be done with qi... nothing more.

The more troubling thing to consider is that there is a strong possibility that some of the old martial styles, the ones that are now currently called "external" styles, may have incorporated the more sophisticated techniqes of six-harmonies movement, but they have lost them. The way these things get lost is because the teacher is too sparing of what students he teaches these "secret" methods", and it doesn't take more that one generation of lousey students to lose things, if a martial art is fairly small. "Liu He Tanglang" (Six Harmonies Mantis) is an example of a martial art that probably was a sophisticated internal art at one time, but is now a more "external" martial art.... but one which still uses basic ki and kokyu skills. The basic ki and kokyu skills are the next thing to go, if they're not passed on. Ultimately you wind up with a "normal-strength" martial art, regardless of how effective it is, that has lost all but the rudimentary and easily-discovered aspects of kokyu skills. Aw.... I'm rambling. Too early in the morning.

Nice, I like your ramblings. Perhaps equally likely that somebody in Six Harmonies Mantis may, in fact, 'rediscover' many of these skills, especailly now martial arts teachers are more open to sharing.

Great talking. I really think it's about time you produced a 'how to' book Mike

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