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Old 10-01-2006, 02:33 AM   #56
clwk
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 136
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Re: What is "Aikido"?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
<<THIS>> is Kokyu. <<THAT>> is also kokyu. Enough examples to detect root patterns and both Japanese traditions of learning and their Chinese antecedents (pace Mike), operate to relate those patterns -- and can be spoken of intelligently -- but not easily to any one who has not first subjectively experienced them, and has a background in the finer points of East Asian natural philosophy.
We agree that direct experience is necessary, but I think we disagree that a 'background in the finer points of East Asian natural philosophy' is necessary. I would argue that the correct practical experience would include explanation - in whatever terms proved effective, and presupposes only a common communicative framework between the shower and the showee. It's not so much that 'natural philosophy' is a prerequisite for understanding the technical content as that taken far enough the technical content converges on the 'natural philosophy'. If you treat the 'philosophical' aspects as something which are not inextricably intertwined with the physical, then I think you have already broken the paradigm.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
As Ignatius Teo said in another thread we must "Simplify." You see the traditional mode as the most simple -- and so it is -- for those with the preconditional knowledge.
Since you've brought Ignatius into the discussion, I wonder whether *he* would consider 'gyrodynamics' to be a simplification, with respect to the traditional 'natural movement' paradigm, which embraces descriptive relationships between joint movement, use of the breath to modulate pervasive pressure, dynamically self-stabilizing physical systems, and training methods for accomplishing these things (among others). I can't speak for him, but maybe he will chime in if he happens to see this.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
There lies the problem for my purpose. To allow aikido to become native and not merely adopted in the West, to make it our our own, and reachable from our own preconditional knowledge. Not to supplant the tradition, but to provide a complement and introduction that can resolve the chicken-and-egg problem of threshhold knowledge..
I believe that the 'traditional' paradigm *can* be explained in *relatively* comprehensible terms, and I think there are people working hard on bridging the gap. Keep in mind that it is not traditional for this material to be highly accessible. There is always a 'chicken and egg' problem, because without the real skill, you can't really have the understanding - however well you do or don't understand the words. I don't claim either great skill or great understanding - just enough of each to have a pretty good sense for the space.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
My learning in aikido will progress at this point in either mode quite happily and equally well. I have that foundation, not only in a topical university degree on the philosophical concepts but from my own concrete experience of twenty years of aikido practice several of the various offshoot branches and thinking about the differences as I learned it.
The latter may be credible (20 years of training), but the former is probably not so important. I don't mean to take anything away from your topical university degree, but I think most people understand that university degrees are pretty tangential to martial-arts-type knowledge. I'm not saying that having a lot of book knowledge might not be helpful in the ability to research things, but the topics under discussion aren't really the kinds of things learned in those kind of places. The problem (in general) comes down to this: there aren't really *any* credentials that mean *too* much apart (maybe) from widespread consensus of top martial artists. Even that is hard to gauge because of the danger of a you-pat-my-back-I'll-pat-yours oligarchy within a limited population. That's why I think it's important, *if there is to be discussion of these fairly concrete topics* that the discussion be focused in fairly pragmatic terms.

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Fair enough. (Realize that you are applying Chinese metaphorical method to a Western image.)
Pardon? I used the example of a roto-rooter snake to roughly describe how torque can propagate through a mechanical system without recourse to virtual gyroscopes or anything nearly so esoteric. How is that a 'Chinese metaphorical method'? At least allow me the dignity of a proper dressing-down, and tell me that my method of argumentation is insufficiently rigorous for your purposes - if that's what you feel. But if it is, I think you'll have to disqualify your own arguments on the same basis: not only is your theory incomplete, but it's also confusing - and I think the confusingness of it hides its incompleteness. You are basically arguing that it is *intuitively* reasonable to introduce the idea of non-existent gyroscopes into an analysis of fairly straightforward mechanical systems (I'm not saying it's entirely straightforward, but your analysis seems restricted to a fairly straightforward aspect): I'm just pointing out that you seem to be over-complicating the issue, without any payoff in terms of predictive, explicative, or constructive power.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
On the other hand when I use kokyu properly, I am not using either direct or stored potential torque, and I need not do so in nikkyo (altough one can if one prefers to).
Okay, your approach to nikkyo has been registered. Would you say you can make this technique work on pretty much everyone? If not, who doesn't it work on, and why?
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Kokyu is not simple twist of uke's arm
Nor is valid discussion a simple twist of your partner's words. I never asserted the straw man you are dismantling. I proposed an approximate alternative to *your* convoluted gesture toward explaining kokyu - as a way of suggesting you might be introducing needless complexity. I haven't volunteered a description of kokyu - although I will say that I don't think 'kokyu' is really the primary factor involved in 'how joint locks transmit force' - although it almost sounds like you do. Note, I'm not saying kokyu is uninvolved in the application of joint locks, just that analysis of joint motion, etc. in locking techniques is probably not the right tree to bark up to *define* kokyu.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
. . .note that it will adopt two "spiral" forms on different scales, one in the original untorqued spring length and an even larger spiral that is made by a further three dimensional transformation. The spiral is the shape of minimal internal force for this deformation.
Why take an example meant to make a simple point, and twist it so far past its intended purpose. I think this conceptual strategy is part of the problem (if there is one) with your Gyro Theory. I could probably come up with a theory based on time travel and what would happen if I were to 'virtually exceed the speed of light' which could also give me some kind of intuitive ability to explain aikido techniques in way which was, nevertheless insufficiently rigorous to be disprovable. But why would I want to do that? Human bodies are *not* gyroscopes, and you can't twist an arm nearly enough to need to worry at all about what shape it would assume if you could twist it indefinitely - as far as I can see.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Simplicity is a schematic of information -- which only means that it refers to assumed knoweldge to fill in the gaps. The problem is that it is simple only in its own terms and natural context, implying a very large body of non-Western knowledge that is necessary to reference for full comprehension.
You seem to be assuming that the primary difficulty in understanding the skills in question is cultural. This doesn't account for how rare it is for people of any culture to have developed them; nor does it account for how people of many different cultures have done so. The complexity comes from the subject matter itself - which is perfectly adequate to obscure it from those not willing to work hard just to 'get it'. It doesn't need extra layers of complexity added in to make it more difficult - even if in the guise of 'simplifying'.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
I look at O-Sensei and what he wrote, and I do not see that "development of the body" is really the point.
I think it's pretty obvious that O-Sensei spent a lot of time throughout his life in cultivating *physical skills* (not to discount anything else he may have done) - and that without this *physical* work, he would not have been able to manifest the art he did.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
In his old age, as his physical power began to seriously wane, he said to the effect that "Now I can really begin to practice aikido."
According to the logic implied by your argument, everyone's Aikido would be improved by prematurely accelerating the degeneration of their bodies then, right? I would take a statement like that like I would interpret a life-long virtuoso violinist who was beginning to lose the ability to play extremely difficult pieces who might say, "Now I can really begin to understand music." I think most people would understand that one earns the right to make those kind of statements (which then convey something meaningful) by being the kind of person who *obviously* has been there and done that in terms of the overt part of an art which their are *finally* de-emphasizing - as an unquestioned master.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
The body is the instrument, but not the musician; and tuning the instrument only does so much to improve the performance.
Well, I'd say it's a necessary but not sufficient condition for a brilliant performance. I would not want to skip the tuning step at all. Sure, a musical genius might be able to make do on an out-of-tune instrument - but he would probably know how to tune one and have a strong preference for keeping his weapon of choice tuned. A musical system which seemed to disregard that step as not-so-important might not be the best one in which to invest the *decades of life* one anticipates needing to *really get somewhere* with any serious skill in life.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
A not so minor quibble. If the math doesn't work -- it cannot be complete -- as far as Western knowledge is concerned, which is not to say that the math is complete in and of itself. Math itself proves that it is not.
It's probably better just to slap some working math on a good practical theory than to try to get involved in the theoretical project of simultaneously discovering some nifty math *and* evolving a pragmatic theory. As important as a kind of 'intelligence' may be to getting the most out of training, I think turning that training into 'theoretical science' might be a mistake - because there isn't any guarantee that the project will converge. I'm not saying abandon your theory, but unless you actually nail it down - I'm not sure what good it does to start publicizing it. I mean this in a literal, emotionally neutral, and non-critical way when I say that your Gyro Theory is half-baked.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
I am confident enough in the track record of my intuition and cautious enough to be corrected by well-supported argument to the contrary.
Well, by all means go with your intuition, and good luck. It's not really possible to argue too strongly against a theory which bases itself in extremely elaborate mathematical constructs and orients itself as being scientific and rigorous - yet which does not actually make any falsifiable predictions nor propose any distinct theorems (provable or otherwise), nor even provide a unique or describable method of implementing whatever its practical application might be. You're literally flying by the seat of your pants, and I think that's great - really, but I don't think you should try to sway anyone to your point of view until you've worked some of the kinks out. I can respect the somewhat heroic stance of using yourself as the test subject for this cake your baking, but how would you feel if someone else got sick from eating it? That's the question people who teach - but especially those who also devise their own theories - should be asking themselves, in my opinion. It's an extremely delicate area - because it's not just about personal prestige: there's a question of ethics, intellectual honesty, and general social responsibility.

-ck
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