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Old 10-01-2006, 04:55 PM   #62
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,568
Re: What is "Aikido"?

Chhi'mčd Künzang wrote:
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.
From strawman, to post hoc and now to the fallacy of authority. Quite a rhetorical tour we are having. Keep score, someone.

The point of physics (indeed the entire Western theory of knowedge) is that it does not depend on authority for verification of knowledge. The West has a poor track record in bending to the counsel of authority... Nor, frankly, did koryu budo. They were frighfully, even brutally, empirical in their testing of efficacy. But not analytically so. Analytical thinking has had one or two minor uses in advancing "practical" budo. Aikido as praxis is not primarily concerned with that same aspect of "practicality." But that hardly means it could not benefit at all.

Most gendai budo have taken up at least one of two other aspects of Western modernity, and in some cases both:: Sporting competition and commercialism. Aikido has taken a tack affirmatively away from both. Those are not the only aspects of Western culture on offer however. I am attempting to relate aiki to other aspects of Western thought, specifically its analytic tradition, which is potentially applicable, and see where it leads.
Chhi'mčd Künzang wrote:
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.
Who's twisting who, now? I hardly said (nor even implied) that the body could be "out of tune" and still do good aikido. O-Sensei was keenly "in tune" until his death, and deadly effective whle being fragile physically notwithstanding that.

If aikido depended on strength we should swing sledge hammers in practice, rather than merely in discussion groups. O-Sensei went down that particular road of tanren about as far as any budoka in memory, and came back suggesting strongly that it did not lead where he wanted to go. My point is that the most important time in practice is spent not in obsessively tuning the insturment but in working through the playing of the music, and even -- maybe -- even considering the math that underlies that beauty.
Chhi'mčd Künzang wrote:
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.
And yet, thus were nuclear weapons made possible... So I doubt seriously that a good case can be made to show that "nifty math" does not advance "practical" budo, in principle ... Artillery, anyone ...??
Chhi'mčd Künzang wrote:
I think turning that training into 'theoretical science' might be a mistake ...
I am doing nothing of the kind, nor have I suggested so. I am working on an interpretation of aikido AS IT IS in Western analytical terms. I am proposing nothing at all regarding training, in which I find no fault in either technique or many of the teaching paradigms in use; I seek to broaden the physical references used to teach the concepts that we train to apply.
Chhi'mčd Künzang wrote:
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
Of course it is -- you just haven't done it yet. First, it is not a theory, much less a new one. Gyroscopic dynamics is a proven system of practical mechanics (but no more 'uncommon' than is, say, aikido technique). The biomechanics of human balance remains more developmental, but aikido has a great deal of information to contribute to that development. By virtue of my actual experience, I can see these as related bodies of knowledge, which I offer for consideration, further development or even substantive refutaiton by anyone who chooses to engage the issue.

The proposition is that gyrodynamics is usefully descriptive of aiki technique. Where that proposition leads ultimately I do not know, any more than I know how a randori may progess, nor is it my concern -- it seems useful to explore -- I will explore it.
I acknowledge the suggestion of the connection is somewhat novel. So if you disagree, trying applying some rigor to giving an actual case in technique that challenges its applicability, something more rigorous, say, than the image of sewer snakes as metaphor for aiki techniques. Robert's question on the "pushout" exercise was a good effort, although his intended point could be made clearer, which I certainly invite.

Physics is not a metaphor. I may be proved wrong; but I must be PROVED wrong. Too much military training and law practice under the bridge to do otherwise. But, do your best. I've asked for it by bringing the point up.

However, rhetoric is not a substitute for substantive arugment any more than hand flourishes substitute for irimi. If you hit me solidly, I will alter my line of thought, in acknowledgement of a demonstrated vulnerability. But until you do, why should I alter my own movement? That spirit of the koryu does survive in the aiki I have been taught.
Chhi'mčd Künzang wrote:
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.
"Don't go that way, no one has ever gone that way before!" I am unsure of the utility of that that form of self-fulfilling prophecy, or the underlying tautological argument it illustrates. Another irimi aspect of Western culture worthy of note -- we tend to ignore arbitrary barriers in pursuit of learning.

I am working through exploration of reasonable questions based on well-understood issues of mechanics in an open discussion in as transparent a manner as I know how. And in one magnificently drafted paragraph (really - nicely done) -- I am treated to backhanded sarcasm -- damning me in the faintest possible praise -- branding me as basically megalomaniacal, unethical, intellectually dishonest and socially irresponsible.

Hmmm. While I know I am not that good, I suspect I cannot be THAT bad either. Add "ad hominem attack" to the list -- while we're keeping score on the empty rhetoric.


Erick Mead
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