View Single Post
Old 10-02-2006, 01:31 AM   #77
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 136
Re: What is "Aikido"?

Erick Mead wrote:
The problem is the self-selective nature of this group that is prepared to learn it without such difficulty. If all we teach are those that come looking, then well, of course, you are indisputably right. If we are seeking to broaden the exposure and reach those who may not have considered aikido, or know nothing about it, we have a different problem of threshold reference.
I would rather see a smaller group of people doing something valuable than a larger group doing something questionable. Since really working at this stuff is automatically self-selecting anyway, I would rather see a clear exposition which can act like a magnet to draw those who really want it and will make use of it. You are probably right that Aikido currently does not attract some people it 'should', but the converse is that it also attracts people it 'should not'. I think simple accuracy is the best way to provide 'truth in advertising', and I would not presume to have any goal beyond that. All I really want personally are training partners who are on the right track. I'm not really a proselytizer though.
Erick Mead wrote:
Not at all, or at least not in the way you, Mike and others seem to advocate. It is more correct to say that the strain form of energy storage is among the conceptual items that I specifically see that aikido is intended to avoid as unnecessary in application of technique. It is also correct to say that in an attack, that kind of "wind-up" joint loading is precisely the vulnerability that aiki exploits.
From what you are saying, I don't think we are talking about the same thing.
Erick Mead wrote:
The only stored energy necessarily released and then recovered is a transient angular momentum, not a potential torque strain. I only receive such strain if I try to reject energy I gather or hold onto energy I release. If I let them both go, I am not under strain, because I allow the energy to move me as it will and retain no potential wind-up or tension energy to impart. I leave the energy in the movement.
The problem, in my opinion, with using 'angular momentum' as a fundamentally important property, is that it simply does not translate to the static potential so important to expression of the forces we want to generate. It's not that momentum (angular or otherwise) is not important when it comes to applying techniques, but it should be possible to factor it out. Your idea, as I understand it, would be to reduce the input momentum to an infinitesimal quantity, and leave the analysis of how forces propagate through joints unchanged. I think it is interesting, but you eventually need to deal with the static situation. By focusing only on the dynamic aspect of the system, you are leaving out something important, I think.

Your model is good for an 'ideal body', where we can 'assume a spherical Aikidoka'. In this universe, sure, you can make everything about the subtle, connected, manipulation of a network of oscillating points. But in the real world of an untrained person, the human body (and nervous system) does not follow these constraints. Perhaps your approach is a good visualization for working toward being able to manifest this 'ideal' situation - but that approach needs to be made. When I talk about 'cultivating the body', I am talking about approaching that 'ideal body'. Do not misunderstand this for cultivating 'ordinary strength' though, or seeking a kind of 'physique' which is detached from the spatial reduction your model requires. What we are talking about is developing the ability to connect the body so that it *can* function in such a way that forces propagate ideally through it.

And yes, a kind of strength is required. You can see this clearly by imagining a person whose body is so weak that his bones snap at a touch. This is obviously not enough strength in the body. Even in your idealized world in which forces propagate perfectly through the body, there will still be internal strain on the system - due to the mass of the bones being used to transmit the forces from joint to joint. Either the joints will have to shear apart (and stop behaving like joints), or there has to be something holding them together. That something is the connective component which your model ignores. It is also the component actively developed by the 'traditional paradigm', and it has a lot to do with the breath. I could go into more detail, but I don't think this is the appropriate place to do so.

Since the range of angles from which you can apply forces, and how much force you can apply, (however you view it as being generated) is dependent on the body's overall structural integrity, then conditioning this connective quality is important. Why else would O-Sensei show off about being able to ground forces applied to the side of his bokken? Your model might be usable to analyze how he accomplished that, and I'd be interested in hearing your comprehensive report on how that worked. I think, though, that in order for it to function you will need a very special robot - not just a regular old human body. Otherwise, anyone who understands the 'idea' and has the 'feeling' should be able to duplicate the demonstration. In reality, it's not that simple.

Erick Mead wrote:
Please frame the elements of your disagreement to show why these rules are not admissible for a given technique or aiki movement. That's all I ask. Contradiction is not argument -- Monty Python notwithstanding ...
Yes it is. (Kidding!)

As above, I don't think your model addresses the question of working with the body to create a sufficiently idealized system for idealized physics to be the whole story. The problem with skipping this aspect of the training is that you can get trapped in the local maximum of technique - even if the technique is 'correct', it may be limiting, just by failing to stimulate the development which would make a wider range of more interesting 'technique' possible. This other aspect is, roughly, the idea behind misogi, or purification. I think that's a fairly comprehensible idea: that the 'non-ideal' properties of bodies are an impediment to the expression of more 'theoretically interesting' tricks.
Erick Mead wrote:
Or, point out some other exercises or techniques that illustrate the problem I keep hearing alluded to, but I have not yet heard articulated.
Okay, here's another one: O-Sensei resists a push from several people pushing on his forehead. After a while, he throws them. If you just analyze the static component of this demonstration, which is the meat of it, you can see that he is demonstrating two things. 1) He knows how to ground a push against his forehead, and 2) he has a well-conditioned neck and spine, so that he can take a lot of force. If 2) were not important, he wouldn't try to hold the push as long as he could before the throw. In point of fact, the throw is just a graceful way of ending the situation without having to call off the pushers. How would you use gyrodynamics to analyze that example?

  Reply With Quote