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Old 10-24-2006, 02:23 PM   #31
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,616
Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Jon Reading wrote:
The sponteneity of take musu aiki makes it difficult to replicate, even in the vacuum of a dojo.
Hence the question for exploration. Hi, Jon. How's the finger? Had fun with Dan and the gang while you were out.
Jon Reading wrote:
I analogize aikido to chess when I evaluate my views on this topic. In chess, a foundation of rules govern play, a series of established techniques adhere to strategies of play, and each player creates a unique series of plays executed as a game. Without rules to govern play and established techniques to execute, the results of play would not resemble what I consider chess.
I have tried the chess problem analogy in thinking through the variational approach to teaching, and generally, I think the idea has much to recommend it, but I think the elements are simpler and their evolution more complex.

Go, for instance: black-white | irirmi-tenkan. Of course, that may too limiting. After all, what can one do with only 1's and 0's ?
Jon Reading wrote:
Take musu aiki is created spontaneously from the rules that govern the world and the principles and techniques we execute in aikido. If take musu aiki is truly part of the curriculum of training, then it must be reproduceable and measurable.
If it can be done -- it can be reproduced; if it can be done -- it can be measured. It just can't be done exactly the same way twice-- that's the chaos -- in a mathematical sense. If we can do it it can be reproduced (not replicated or duplicated, there is HUGE difference).

A reproduction is faithful interpretation -- and a true work of art in its own right. A forgery is a perfect copy -- and a lie. My children are (barely) tolerable reproductions of me and my wife, not copies. Copies are dead, reproduction is about giving somtheing a life of its own.

The degree of technically parsed fidelity in duplicating movement in the systematic approach is what troubles me, not its ultimate precision in application (which is indispecnsable).

I think that it must be reproducible and measureable, and it's mainly coming from the ukemi side of practice. The one thing this discussion has notably lacked is any discussion of how the ukemi relate to the development of takemusu aiki. Ledyard Sensei addresses it somewhat in his post and in his other teaching that takemusu is not something that is "done" or imposed, i.e. -- it is informed by ukewaza, not nagewaza, even in applying nage technique. Hooker Sensei has made much of this aspect of ukewaza also.

The development of consistent connection and the feel for the downhill line, more than anything, lead me there. When I realize I have done it, after the fact, I have usually felt at the time as if I were wondering, without words, "Which way am I falling now? Ah, THAT way. Well..., come along now."
Jon Reading wrote:
Rather, I believe take musu aiki falls beyond the role of curriculum and is expression. To me, the ability of a student to express take musu aiki is an indication of comprehension, not the study of curriculum.
I generally agree, but I disagree that it cannot be part of curriculum. I like the term "rubric" better for this purpose. It is a term originally from the liturgy, text marked in red (hence the name), that gave guidelines for actions to be done or certain things to be said -- but without giving specific words or movements for doing them. It was taken from Roman law texts where the red ink indicated comments, explanations, or asides from the black-letter law. A famous legal maxim is "Lege rubrum si vis intelligere nigrum" Read the red if you would understand the black. The legal term originally came from the red ocher traditionally used to mark cuts for timber joinery to be fitted together. A very appropriate word, in my opinion, on many levels.

A rubric does not require an linear progression, but provides a generalized form within which actions can be done in a degree of freedom. That degree of freedom within accepted constraint is the beginning of the image of takemusu aiki for me. Applied more broadly across a training regimen, a rubric approach may allow one to start anywhere and finish anywhere - the particular rubric ensures you have covered all the ground it is intended to address.
Jon Reading wrote:
I do not feel instruction is complete without the inclusion of take musu aiki, but I think far too often we fall on the side of creative expression and the foundation of techniques we are so eager to disregard in favor of "freedom." ...
As I said before, creativity is individual, and wisdom collective. Budo is not a place for individuality - it is a wisdom tradition, and cannot be practiced except in reference to an opponent, real or imagined.

But O-Sensei was well-reputed to strongly dislike the kata form of training. Two of his chief students differed with him very strongly on that point, and their criticisms are still with us. I don't agree with them, but I do not diregard them either. They have laid out a linear system of training to meet their goals. As is noted in Takamura's quote, the variational method needs its own rigor too -- it simply does not need fixed linear forms of sequenced training.

That's what I am working on, to get a sense of what such a rigorous non-linear system of training would look like, that is not dependent on the rigorous personality of the teacher. If there is one thing I learned from Hooker Sensei when I started down this road, it is a deep love of rigor ( whetehr I liked it or not.... ). He's gotten to be a big cuddly, softie now, of course, but please don't anybody tell him I said that (nobody else will read this, right?)

The key thing is seeing how the "systematic" approaches that are in existence now, even though they are ill-fitted to adapt per se to the variational approach, deal with the development of takemusu aiki in training, since by all accounts it is regularly achieved there as well.

"It happens" is hardly satisfying; maybe it's what I am stuck with, utlimately, but still not satisfying.

Their solution is less important to me than the means by which they arrived at it. I am not about debating relative or absolute efficiencies in this regard. Maybe their insights will have bearing on this problem, maybe not, but that's what I wanted to examine more closely.


Erick Mead
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