Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement
This thread has illustrated a couple of points for me.
First: the limits of the power of description. All these different ways of trying to describe the elephant to the those who have never seen one. I credit David for observation of an instructive principle of movement underlying much of what we do. It is not complete, but it is not wrong either.
Like Zen, the mountain is again a mountain and the river again a river. But by the time that realization is reached there is much that has informed our awareness of both mountain and river. They are netither more nor lor less than what they simply are, and yet they have become are far more to our awarenss for having contemplated them to the point that they assumed, for a time, a far greater dimension, illusory though that may ultimately be.
Likewise, Dan, Mike,and I take it, also Gernot, are invested in a paradigm of desrcription that seems to defy easy reduction to common language. May be I am wrong about that, but after a number of iterations in the attempt, I have yet to get one. That's not a criticism, but an observation of this and other discussion in which these things come up, particularly with Mike. I fully admit am equally liable to explore other paradigms that they do not share, and which are perhaps no better in that regard, although my purpose in doing so is somewhat different.
I agree with the point about the open secret, but I disagree strongly with the manner in which you all have attempted to describe it. That is not to say it is not useful in some contexts, or at least useful to them. I part company simply because it seems not generally useful to those not already familiar with the paradigm on which it rests. The description should not obscure the thing itself. The thing itself should be approachable from other paradigms as well.
Lastly, I disagree that aiki techniques are "unnatural." On that basis, walking is "unnatural" because it must be learnt and practiced. Human beings are given really only one "natural" faculty -- learning and adaptation. It distinguishes us in degree from every other creature. It is also precsiely this aspect of our nature that we have in common with the process of takemusu aiki in which all these "techniques" are intended to be melded into a intuitively seamless and fluid whole.
David's exploration is very worthwhile. I may not agree with the extension of his observations in the degree he may suggest it, but neither do I think he is wrong in attempting to justify a position in that direction. His effort it has the singular benefit of making the question of movement as an element of aiki more approachable for the more average student of the arts than those more esoteric and recondite.
As for things like the "pushout" exercises -- I have detailed my observation of the mechanics in play there elsewhere on this forum and the underlying mechanical principles that " hide" where strength is coming from. I find nothing mystical about it, although training to employ thoe mechanics is a skill -- as much as walking. I'll be the first to say that getting a body of complex and uncommon mechanical knowledge thoroughly mapped into aiki principles and getting it into a common language framework of description is a task of significant further lifting.
As for my own experience, I know I have advanced further and expanded my understanding, facility and verstatility in application more by dwelling deeply on the simplest of things in the art. I have not had that same experience in succumbing to fascination and allure of the more esoteric possibilities that the history and the multidimensional nature of the art may also afford. I truly think that it is distracting to many students. I do not find David's approach at all problematic in that way.