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Old 10-01-2006, 06:20 PM   #64
clwk
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 136
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Re: What is "Aikido"?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
But giving the sense of what is POSSIBLE before it is learned, this drives people to continue the path. And in seeking to deepen understanding requires a deeper body of knowledge that is accessible to the seeker. The mystique of the unfamiliar works for some people, up to a point -- and not for others at any point.
This probably gets to the issue. It's not really clear where you think your theory falls on this spectrum. What I would call the 'traditional paradigm' provides both benefits you cite. If your theory does, then I think it's in a slightly different way. There is mystery in trying to solve unsolved equations, and in trying to do so, one might learn a lot. On the other hand, this is a completely different kind of learning (with far fewer guarantees) than that associated with simply absorbing an already-understood body of knowledge.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Some view Aikido as a exclusive body of learning -- one is initiated and the fundamental secrets may ultimately be revealed. I do not believe this is true to the vision of the Founder.
I do not subscribe to the 'train for years and years and maybe you will get it some day theory'. Insofar as *correct* instruction may be termed 'initiation', then *yes* I think the art is esoteric - but I see no reason why the *basics* which cut across many arts and which are essential to Aikido need to be shrouded in mystery. Everyone should know the basics: what they can actually develop and do with them is up to how hard they want to work.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Aikido has no secrets, or more accurately, its secrets are hidden in plain sight.
I don't know, Erick. I understand the rhetorical point you are making - but it's a big problem if people have somehow failed to learn the non-secrets, and if a pedagogical tradition emerges in which people are trying to learn from those who also don't know those things which are 'hidden in plain sight' - then you might say they are gone, and they have become secrets. It's a danger, in my opinion, because it's extremely obvious that a lot of people (and I am included in this) do not just *figure out* these things based on exposure to the waza, etc. And since it *is* possible to communicate them without *too much* difficulty, I have to wonder about any rhetorical position that denies the importance of doing this. Go back to my instrument-tuning analogy. Is instrument-tuning a secret? It might become one if it were not taught to musicians, but it *should* just be part of the culture. The problem seems to be an aikido culture in which instruments are habitually played out of tune. I'm not citing or indicting anyone, just making an observation based on my own experiences. As I said, I include myself for many years in this; I wish some important things had been laid out for me far sooner in my training. I would not feel I had been deprived of anything by having the basics explained correctly by someone who actually knew them.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
I'll admit to struggling a bit here : "Physics is NOT pragmatic" ... ???
Correct on both counts. ;-)
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Let me put it more plainly -- kokyu is not sprung torque, it is not LIKE sprung torque in a fixed form or otherwise-- even though torque forces are in play in any gyroscopic mechanism. Sprung torque is energy stored in strain the way a deformed spring operates. It still obeys gyroscopic laws when it begins to do work and expend that stored angular momentum.
Without trying to argue the physics - because I don't want to use a Physics definition of kokyu, I would say that this statement explains your previous statement that you feel analogies to springs, and the use of the word 'pressure' are inferior to your gyro model. It seems that you do not account for the body's capacity to store and release energy through torsional deformation or the manipulation of internal pressure. That's fine - but if you are saying that, then you're placing yourself clearly in the spectrum of pragmatic knowledge on this topic. I don't have any need to argue about this: it's just good to be clear about what level of sophistication (in terms of actual usage) your theory is even trying to explain.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Probably not, since "joint locks" are not the principle on which aiki rests, nor does the application of kokyu require anything like a "joint lock" -- although they may well easily result from its application.
Hmmm, probably best to drop it then - since you introduced the topic in the first place, seemingly as an explanation of how kokyu works in your gyro model.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Anything that rotates obeys gyroscopic laws of mechanics. Period - no exceptions.
Yes, but this isn't really saying anything. Obviously there are places where gyroscopic laws are an appropriate analytical tool and those where they are not - just like any other subset of mechanics. We're just disagreeing about whether this is a good place to try to apply these rules.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Another hint of the 'elect' sensibility that I find of concern to the future of the art. This is not koryu. We have no "ultimate secrets' to hide for the chosen trusted few that are made menkyo kaiden. All the secrets are in the open for the taking It is meant to be more missionary and far less exclusive than you seem to assume. Perhaps my reading of your intent is in error, but the theme is there throughout this discussion.
Yes, this is the crux. Let me clear up my position - in case it was not made clear earlier in this response. The topics to which I (and other posters) are alluding are what I would consider foundational basics. These basics seem, nevertheless not to be widely known, understood, taught, practiced, etc. Since this has happened, it could almost seem as though those arguing for knowledge of these basics are preaching a form of elitism: "we know something and you don't, so we're better than you". I think the reverse is true though. The real elitist position would be to stay silent and hold onto 'the goods' for oneself, creating an actual culture of secrecy. The open secret is that those who 'know' would - in most cases - really like to see others also know, because they understand that just 'knowing' is not enough without a lot of training and hard work. It only seems like an elitist secrecy kind of thing if those who don't know (I'm not putting you in a category, you can assign yourself wherever you like) are threatened by the possibility that they don't know something fundamental. Then you have a problem.

Imagine a world in which soccer had become a popular sport, but somewhere along the line, certain soccer leagues stopped using the ball. They might evolve incredibly elaborate 'forms' based on how 22 people might move in semi-spontaneous patterns, and some people might even get so far as to posit the idea that an 'imaginary ball' could be used to make sense of the otherwise overwhelming curriculum. If by chance, someone from a different league, where soccer was played with a ball happened to witness this event, they might try to introduce the actual use of a physical ball into the game. You can see how this might be almost impossibly painful and revolutionary to those who had gotten used to soccer-without-the-ball, but how it wouldn't really be a big elitist thing to the soccer-with-a-ball people. The use of the ball is not really something worth hiding - like, say, secret dribbling techniques might be. You can also probably see how the ball users would probably only want to spend a limited amount of time on the evangelism project, and would mostly be targetting those who were open to the idea of switching games - rather than wanting or needing to dismantle the soccer-without-a-ball institution.

I personally find soccer better with a ball, and I have witnessed the frustration of those trying to play soccer without one. I have also witnessed both kinds of reactions to the suggestion that a ball be used. I have seen great relief by those who have been trying to find the ball and just didn't know where to look; and I have seen hostility from those who are insulted by the suggestion that they may be missing something. I would be quite curious to hear from others who may have been or may be in a similar position - in terms of feeling there may be something missing from much Aikido, and in terms of possibly having discovered that something. I have a feeling that anyone who has their eye on the ball will be 'elitist' only by side effect if at all.

It basically comes down to an instance of the Emperor's New Clothes. Some people are saying, "The Emperor has no clothes," and are being labeled as elitists or as trouble makers. In the end, it comes down to who is willing to suck it up and admit what they haven't learned and find it - and who chooses to staunchly march down the street in his birthday suit. It doesn't matter to me where you fall on this spectrum, so I don't really think we need to argue indefinitely about your theory. I'm really just writing because I want others who don't really know about the existence of a pragmatic paradigm based on traditional training methodologies to know there is such a thing - so they can benefit from it *if they choose*. I'm glad I was able to track down a *foothold* into this kind of training, and I think there are others with the same mindset I had/have. Now that this topic has become a matter of public discourse, I think it's important that the simple explanations being offered are understood for what they are. That's all.

-ck
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