View Single Post
Old 10-24-2005, 09:06 PM   #50
Fred Little
Dojo: NJIT Budokai
Location: State Line NJ/NY
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 631
Re: Kokyu explanation

Mike Sigman wrote:
Fred, I've heard that one before. I think it misses the point of yin and yang completely and is sort of a western patchwork gestalt-guess, if you want to use obscure-but-meaningful-sounding ideas. True balance and support would, by yin and yang theory, use a balance of the "yang" musculature (the outer stuff on the limbs and the back) and "yin" muscualture (the inner stuff on the limbs, the belly stuff, etc.).

The idea is that no one would propose to use 'only yang' for anything unless they were an idiot... yet you see westerners using this pseudo-explanation that you just gave, all the time.

"Jin" is a way of explaining a "skill-strength" or a "force vector" and it is the heart of what "kokyu" means. I.e., these were not just "Dumb Ole Chinese" or "Dumb Ole Japanese" that spoke with vagaries and that's how they communicated things... "with feelings that your subtle body can interpret". These guys were masters of descriptions, measurements, etc..... it's a western misconception that they communicated via vagaries.

True, there was a lot of in-house "Masons' Guild" secret-speak, particularly in the martial arts... but I think you're vastly missing what the exactitude of "jin" is and all the related topics. "Ki" actually is an umbrella term... but its relationships all go back to the idea of "pressure" and that's why the kanji is actually accurate and not some sort of metaphor that is open to "feeling".


Mike --

Did you miss the first line about "vast oversimplification?"

It sounds a lot like you are simply projecting your own desire for the triumphal validation of a particular totalizing system onto my occasional crazyquilt banners.

It's undoubtedly true that the use of "ki" in Japanese is much broader and cruder than the precise usages of "ki" in Chinese, going all the way back to the Yellow Emperor's Classic.

I would be very surprised if the usages of "jin" in Chinese weren't also vastly more precise than the general uses of "kokyu" in Japanese, but it would take a good bit of several kinds of study for me to say much more than that.

I would be further surprised if there weren't individuals in Japan who had good solid Chinese educations, both scholarly and martial, and got it, but rather than laying it out for their students in plain, precise language, intentionally draped their teaching in obscure, vague, or simply incorrect explanations for the express purpose of maintaining their own positions as teachers in perpetuity.

That's what the whole iemoto system in particular, and Japanese culture more generally, is about.

But at the end of the day, however well or badly drawn, the map is still not the territory.

And I'm not even trying to draw a map, I'm just finding my way over the next ridge and dropping a few marks along my path.

  Reply With Quote