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Old 11-17-2006, 08:49 PM   #64
David Orange
Dojo: Aozora Dojo
Location: Birmingham, AL
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,511
Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Raul Rodrigo wrote:
It seems to me that David O has constructed the following argument: aikido is "natural" movement, toddlers can move "naturally" in ways that (to some) look like aikido movement, therefore toddler movement is at its roots the same as aikido movement.

The premise is this: ancient fighting masters had developed many types of jujutsu techniques. At some point, one of them noticed that children's instinctive escape movements were able to momentarily neutralize their parents' best efforts to control them. Invariably, the parents won through superior size and strength, scooped the children up and the evasion was finished. But some master must have said, "If that child just grabbed the wrist with his other hand, he could dominate or at least gain the moment to escape."

It is my idea that this jujutsu master then began to practice moving as he had seen the child move. But he added the wrist lock that the child didn't know about and he was able to beat larger men convincingly by moving into their weakness, to the point where he was strongest.

This is how I think aikijujutsu was first born, the first second it came to be. That is my serious premise. So I think that you can guide a child in such a way that he builds on that same evasive ability until he is old enough to be shown some joint locks and throws. But I think that observation of children momentarily overcoming superior size and strength is the source of aikijujutsu and, therefore, of aikido.

Raul Rodrigo wrote:
...the two premises that lead to David's conclusion could stand a lot more scrutiny. What is "natural" about aikido? Is a toddler movement really "aiki"?
When I was uchi deshi in Japan, Mochizuki Sensei, an early uchi deshi of Morihei Ueshiba, showed me some little things, now in then, in minute detail. And he told me some things that he didn't say as part of normal classes. Some of these times were when no one else was at the dojo and he and I were waiting for someone to show up. Other times would be in the mornings, when he was sitting in the kitchen, writing, or in the hours past midnight, when I would get up to use the restroom and find him sitting in the kitchen having a beer and some blue cheese. He would pull a stool over with his foot and take down a glass for me to share his beer, and he would tell me about the war or his time in Mongolia, or France, or his childhood, his training with Mifune or Ueshiba Sensei.

Also, we used to do sumo sometimes and I got a lot of my ideas from that. He said there were two kinds of jujutsu: yawara and judo descend from sumo, while aikijujutsu descends from sword fighting. But both are jujutsu and both are influenced heavily by sumo.

Now what do you have in sumo? Two big babies in diapers. They say the sumotori represent small gods, but I think they also represent giant babies. Who hasn't seen two babies pushing each other like sumotori? That give-and-take, pushing and yielding is a great example of the principle of ju--letting the force build up, then defeating it by yielding. Sumo is also very strongly connected with children. It's a big sport for children in Japan, beginning around the local Shinto jinja. And there is a day when babies are handed over to sumotori to see which baby can cry the loudest.

Well, to me, the big question is "What is not natural about aiki?"

To us, it seems unnnatural because of the pajamas and the belts and hakama, the exotic samurai sword. But to the Japanese, all that stuff is as normal as Little League baseball is to Americans. There is nothing exotic about any of it. They grow up seeing it. We think it's unnatural because of the costumes, accoutrements, language and foreign customs.

But Mochizuki Sensei told me to think about whirlwinds and how water goes down a drain. Aiki, he told me, is related to those things. So I guess another reason aiki seems unnatural to us is that Western culture tells us that we are separate from natural phenomena such as windstorms, lightning and whirlpools.

Last, Sensei clearly defined aiki as "the ura of kiai." He explained that when someone attacks, he is using kiai in a straightforward way, which is the "omote" of his attack, a punch or kick or downward strike. Aiki is to attack the "ura" of his "omote" attack. So it is, essentially formless, or more precisely, it is tailored to the form of the attack--the ura of the omote of the attack. This means that we do not go force-on-force, but flow around the strength to its weakest point--the ura of his strength--where our own strength is most effective.

And that is exactly what babies do when they don't want to be held, or picked up, or diverted from what they are doing. You straightforwardly go to pull them by the hand, they twist and step to a position where your grip cannot move them and they can maintain their position. Maybe that means stepping behind you. Maybe it means sitting on the floor. The only reason it isn't far more powerful is the baby's lack or knowledge of joint locks and throws, as well as the low level of development of the voluntary nervous system. However, those patterns are written in our DNA and are expressed not accidentally, but because they work.

Raul Rodrigo wrote:
When pressed, David tends to repeat the conclusion instead of reexamining the premises. It seems to me that within his argument the words "natural" and "aiki" have been defined in such a way that they support his conclusion virtually by definition.
Well, I'm using "aiki" as a judan meijin uchi deshi of Morihei Ueshiba explained it to me, so I feel very secure in holding to it.

And by "natural," I mean "innate to human beings, written in our DNA."

Raul Rodrigo wrote:
So the thread goes around in circles; its persuasive to those who agree with it already, but it doesnt seem to have any traction with those who don't. For David: is there a way of restating the argument in a way that isn't just preachng to the choir?
How was that?



"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"
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