View Single Post
Old 10-24-2006, 08:57 AM   #23
Erick Mead
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,403
Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Larry Camejo wrote:
I think this link says it better than I can -
I agree. For reference sake, I will insert the whole quote of the definition of "takemusu aiki" :
AikiWiki wrote:
A "slogan" of the founder's meaning "infinitely generative martial art of aiki." Thus, a synonym for aikido. The scope of aikido is not limited only to the standard, named techniques one studies regularly in practice. Rather, these standard techniques serve as repositories of more fundamental principles (kihon). Once one has internalized the kihon, it is possible to generate a virtually infinite variety of new aikido techniques in accordance with novel conditions.
Larry Camejo wrote:
The last line of the definition - "Once one has internalized the kihon, ...."- identifies the basis of the kata/randori approach to training. Regardless of what method one uses whether circular or linear or a bit of both, without kihon there can be no spontaneous manifestation.
I do not take the meaning of kihon, generally, or in this stated definition to be "these standard techniques," in the sense of kata, but rather the "fundamental principles" 基本 "kihon" (基 "fundamentals/foundation", 本 "true/real") of which "these standard techniques" are one convenient schematic.

I do not take the difference to be linear v. circular, but nonlinear in a mathematical sense. It is a differnce between a variational paradgim and a prescriptive paradigm of training.

The fundamental principles should be demonstrable in any given setting, and the number of variant illustrations would seem to lead to a broader and deeper grasp of those principles, in ways are that are less context-specific. From this perspective there is no "transition" as the process is essentially a continuum. Hence my puzzlement and the question at the approach where there is a recognized distinction and a notable transition.

Larry Camejo wrote:
The original question as far as I saw it was "How is this aspect of aikido dealt with in more systematic approaches to teaching?." Imho it has been well answered by a few people from at least 2 systematic approaches as far as I am aware.
Those who do not or have not had your experience it is more difficult to frame an image of how the transition occurs. You may have said what you see, and you seem to agree well enough between you. Remember, though, I am on the other side of the mountain from you, and while I can hear you, perhaps, I cannot see what you see, necessarily, or at least I am not in a position to see it as you do.

I once tried to explain baseball to a bunch of Frenchmen -- in French. Quite entertaining, but not terribly educaitonal, I am afraid. I suffered about the same experience in reverse when my Canadian uncle first attempted to explain cricket to me. He was saying things like "silly off leg stump" creating images of a crowd of inebriated amputees (to which my Australian Navy buddy, when I related this experience to him, commented that was probably not far off the mark either.)

I tend to guage whether a student has grasped the "fundamental principle" being taught in a class from seeing whether he can adapt that principle in context to differing variable factors, hence the methodology I have described. It is systematic or controlled in one sense, but by no means a prescribed progression of training.

The variational approach to training in the first instance, although actually done quite widely, seems never to have been rigorously articulated as such, except in his own way by Saito, and perhaps some others, such as Saotome, or Abe Sensei, from a different perspective.

This was one aspect of O-Sensei's training that was revealed in many ways ony through criticism of it. Nevertheless that critical observation tells us key things. O-Sensei would hardly ever repeat a technique the same way twice. When specifically asked to repeat a movement, he would often perform a second, startlingly different movement to the same attack and declare that it was the same as the first, implying that any differences were the result of uke doing something a just bit differently.

Morihiro's Saito's training paradigm he promoted from his own sense of O-Sensei's teaching methodology. He described four levels of technique, roughly: static, flexible, flowing, and finally, takemusu or spontaneous. These are variations on the dynamism of performance. But thre aother dimensions of variuaiton that can also be explored, and which many instructors do explore.

While Saito's curriculum focussed on that aspect of dynamic variation, my training in Saotome's lineage, where I both began and have ended up encouraged me to explore variations along many dimensions as a means to define fundamental principles in the first instance.

The variational method seems to have been O-Sensei's paradigm, but clearly not one favored by those of much more conventional Japanese backgrounds, notably Koichi Tohei, Kenji Tomiki and Gozo Shioda. One cannot honestly say of O-Sensei that he was much of a conformist in his life.

As senior students, they became quite critical of this aspect of his teaching as an unacceptable departure from accepted norms (which, quite frankly, it was in a Japanese context). Hence, they adapted his teaching to their understanding of prevailing norms of training, or in the case of Tohei by focussing on certain aspects that he saw as predominant factors. Some, such as Saito, who notably, very much preferred to remain in a provincial setting, thus staying apart from the prevailing ideas of the big city, did their best to emulate the Founder's methods as they saw them.

The reason for my question is straightforward. Those normative systems developed particularly by Tomiki and Shioda have articulated their sense of training by devising some degree of prescribed progression. The same has not really been done (or at least I have not seen it) in any "systematic" way to describe the variational or "chaotic" approach.

To do so would require, not a prescribed progression of techniques, but a rubric for selecting root and branch patterns for each iteration of training. A rubric, while not prescriptive as to the variations for each stage of trainiing or class, would be a guage to see if a relatively complete coverage of concepts was adequately achieved over some period of time. This would give a consistent means to answer Takamura Sensie's valid criticism of the potential deficits of this approach, if done poorly.

The treatment of the "transition" is an important issue from your perspective, while the assurance that key concepts are not overlooked is an important one from mine. I like to learn from others how related problems are treated, since they may have related solutions. I see them as related teaching methodolgy problems.

Both are concerned with achieving a holistic whole at the end, and both have potential gaps that must be dealt with. On the one hand your approach has a substantial and somewhat continuous gap that must be filled in to move over from defined form to spontanaeity. The variational approach has many potentially smaller, scattered and discontinuous gaps that also need to be assured of "filling in."


Erick Mead
  Reply With Quote