Mike Sigman wrote:
I dunno... I thought I'd addressed all of these things in past posts. I separate out the conditioning and forces used by the body from the techniques/strategies/tactics. As I noted, you appear to make a strategy/tactic some sort of "learned body skill as a response to an attack". I don't really cavil with that point, but kokyu is not the "learned body skill as a response to an attack", but rather "kokyu" is a learned force skill. ... I agree that there needs to be a westernized way of viewing these things and some of us are essentially trying to lay all the known data and (reproducible) skills on the table in order to codify/simplify exactly what is done, how it's done, and why. Your effort is a good one. All I was saying was that I thought it missed the mark a bit.
I will comment on two things, albeit at some length. Where we differ is on how to arrive at "Why." Analogy ultimately elaborates; analysis ultimately simplifies. You are doing one. I am attempting the other.
First, these different forms of knowledge directly relate to your stated goal of cataloging skills, force manipulations and techniques acroding to their perceived similarities. While invaluable in itself, that is not, in point of fact, the westernized mode of knowledge. Reams of biological observations and notations of similarities were collected for several centuries. It was not until someone came along and gave a principled view on the reason for the differences that biology adopted the scientific method.
The forms of knowledge that China developed (and Japan received) were concrete catalogs of holistically related cases. Very much in keeping with what you are saying. Their treatment of empirical operations on the principle of similarity, while very sophisticated holistically (in the forms of bagua, I Ching, five elements, etc.) and very useful, remains representational and analogical, in the nature of catalog, rather than formulary. They would see patterns in different situations that were holistically or analogically similar, to arrive at concepts such as "li" (inner principle) or ki, or even jin. They are not "wrong," but simply unreduced to components, from which other combinations or new things could be distinguished, imagined or tested in rigorous ways. The usages of "li" provided no rubric to test intuitive propositions that might arise from observing items in the catalog.
The Chinese approached the invisible with the idea of similarity. Their ultimate principle was Tao. But in their development of thought the Tao innately became visible (and ceased to be the Tao) and thus one did not seek for the invisible Tao, (which was without form and unapproachable rationally), but for the manifestations of the Tao -- which are numberless, and thereby recognize its presence and operation in their similarities. Ki as a concept is in this same vein.
The Western mind approached the invisible with the idea of difference. The Western mind would see difference and seek for the as yet unseen thing that was the cause of differences. The immediately visible was seen as caused by principles that were not immediately visible, but they deemed must be rationally within grasp. There are religious reasons for this, among other things. They insisted that God conformed to reason in His nature. Presumptuous perhaps, but very useful. Science as we know it was thus born.
Second, Japan is not China, nor is it less than China in weight of thought, merely because they been influenced by and derived concepts from Chinese thought. They are who they are. The Japanese have their own unique perspectives on both their inheritance and their posterity, as do we in the West. We must each be true to both.
The Japanese concepts of Kami are actually closer to Western religious traditions of invisible, innate, particular and immanent principle that underlie the development of scientific principles, than are native Chinese religious ideas. The swift adoption by the Japanese of scientific modes of thought and endeavor, especially in comparison to China is a remarkable achievment, and testament to related ways of thinking.
It is in no small part related to kannagara, which distinguished Japan strongly from all her continental influences. Japanese will certainly tell you so, and I also believe it is true for this reason. O-Sensei's thought comes from this same fount of tradition, and is thus distinct from Chinese antecedents that have contributed to the ideas of Japan, and even to some of his ideas. Jin or prana or whatever name you choose to give may have contributed to their efforts, but they did different things with it, and what they did with it is more in keeping with Western ideas than with Chinese.
Your catalogs of "body skill" and direct demonstration of manipulating internal body forces and pressures, is in that ancient Chinese mode. It does not reduce itself beyond the catalog of specific skills and forces you can demonstrate. I am sure you are quite accomplished. I do not dispute that it works to teach everything that is in your catalog of skills, nor that collecting them is valuable.
But it is not complete to transmit the knowledge of aikido, kokyu-ho, taijuui-ho, or specific techniques to non-Japanese. It never can be complete without native principles that intuitively explain the operations of specific cases. Adele Westbrook and the late Oscar Ratti made some strong efforts at generalizing principles, as did Saotome. Both efforts were only partially successful, for all of their invaluable content. In the latter case, in part it was because of the traditional nomenclature problems that cause the recurrent debates here, and in the former case because of a reverse nomenclature problem created by trying to solve the first one.
They all attempted to find ways to translate the concepts. They were doomed to fail because the concepts they are trying to translate from the holistic analogical similarity tradition, do not and can never map one-for-one correspondence onto the reductionist ideas from the analytic difference tradition of the West.
I am seeking to give a sound physical interpretation for what I know happens when I perform technique. That allows cultural transparency. Then I, or someone, one can simplify those interpretations into essential statements that are adequate to define the operation of technique in the Aikido tradition and also make sense from the western perspective. Reverse concept engineering, in a way.
By engaging similarity we get catalog, but by differences we get hypthesis, and from hypothesis, we can make statements ( or tke actions) that can be disproven -- not by opinion or authority but by further differences in observation and yet futher refinement of hypotheses.
When a certain connection fails in application of a given technique, it is "disproven" in that context and the remaining connections that exist are to be likewise tested. If your ki musubi or connection was able enough, hopefully one of the others connections will prove effective. Then you can contemplate better why the others you tried may have failed, and on that basis try to connect to them better or or apply technique a little differently next time. This creative and iterative refinement of intuition is what I sense as part of takemusu, as O-Sensei meant that process to work in real-time technique. It is also the method of science.
What you are doing lacks hypothesis. Hypothesis might lead to some place not in that catalog, someplace not on your map, and a technique or variation on the forces which are at best only loosely related to any item on your list.
Everyone finds unexpected places led by intuition in training. What intuition needs, like anything else in martial tradition, is discipline -- a principle as a guide.
In Japan that principle is very often "authority." We westerners have a curious and turbulent relation with authority. "Li," as principles of the inevitable outgrowth of Tao presumed by traditional Chinese knowledge, does not always function so well where messy humans are concerned, as even Lao-tsu recognized. We get to make too many of our own rules. We westerners, furthermore, tend to insist on it, and we seem to find things that authority never suspected by doing so.
O-Sensei believed that Aikido transcended cultural particulars in each case. Aikido is meant for for the world and not just Japan. That is the posterity I owe allegiance to in the development of my thought about Aikido and in my efforts to be able to teach it better and in ways that are both true to tradition and transparent to culture.
It is well documented that this was the conception that O-Sensei had of aikido, that it would ultimately lead to places even he had not been. Principles are the only thing that will guide one down the unknown road, or where there are no roads at all that one can see. And everyone in beginning to learn starts from that perspective, since they have no map to begin with. If given yours, they could not begin to read it. And if they wish to learn a catalog, they will have grave difficulty in independent learning, or in incultating the intuitve and continuous creative power in technique that O-Sensei meant by takemusu aiki.
I may be off the mark; or it is just possible that we have different marks to which we are aiming. Either way, I would like to know why, in principle, it may be so, so that I can more rigorously refine the intuition that even you have given partial credit, and ultimately find ways to simplify it.