Ron Tisdale wrote:
I think Dan is spot on here...either the teachers don't know how to teach it, or they save it for a special few, or they believe you have to figure it out for yourself...or they teach it, but not in a format like Akuzawa, or Dan, or Mike...something is usually amiss.
Or we students are just clueless (I opt for that choice in my case)...but it's not getting out enough.
I chastized Cady a bit for a similar statement yesterday...but Dan is essentially saying the same thing, but making it a bit more palatable. I think we just have to accept that there are some roadblocks in aikido today that don't necessarily *have* to be there.
This is absolutely true. The real problem is that there are actually a number of different aspects of "aiki' which we are all talking about. For the greats, like O-sensei, they were not separate, they were completely integrated. But the discussion is coming at these things from different angles without most of the folks being very clear about what the actual principles are that we need to be discussing.
Mike and Dan, each in his own way, are talking about the power aspect of the art. This power should be "internal power", not just muscular strength. Mike comes largely from the Chinese martial arts background and his descriptive vocabulary is based on that background. Dan comes from a Japanese martial arts background and his descriptive terminology reflects that. I think it is clear however, that they are talking about the same things. It really isn't productive to spend a lot of time in these discussions debating whether these guys know what they are talking about. I've met and trained very briefly with Mike and I can assure folks that he does know what he says he knows. Dan and I have conversed and I know a number of people who have trained with him. He also knows what he say he knows, by all reports.
The issue in these discussions is whether you have to know what they know to be doing Aikido. I suspect that in order to be as good as someone like O-Sensei you do... but there is plenty to work on in Aikido aside from the power aspect. Neither of these guys is a senior Aikido practitioner. I suspect that most of the senior folks in Aikido can do various things that these fellows can't do or can't do any where near as well. (We'll leave aside the question of whether they would even want to do these things).
In my own case, I have pursued the aspect of "aiki" which allows someone like Kuroda Sensei, Angier Sensei, Endo Sensei, Saotome Sensei, etc to drop you without you even feeling it coming. I am largely interested in the aspect of Aikido which allows one to completely neutralize the attacker's strength before or at the instant of contact, as Ushiro Sensei has been explaining. The principles which govern the physical and mental "musubi" are an integral part of great aikido and are a separate area of study for the Aikido student.
As in the area of internal power as described by Mike and Dan, the aspect of "musubi" is not systematically taught by most Aikido teachers. I do not believe that this is a conscious decision in most cases. The post war generation of Aikido teachers did not receive systematic, principle based instruction from O-Sensei. Some, like Tohei Sensei, tried to develop some form of this for themselves. Others, like my own teacher, Saotome Sensei, developed very high skill levels but did so largely in an intuitive manner. Attempts to break the various principles at work in the technique have been successful only in the most limited way because these teachers never had a vocabulary which served to organize their understanding of what they were actually doing.
The good news is that there are folks around who do have some knowledge in these areas. Efforts by folks like Mike, Dan and Ellis are serving to give Aikido folks a more systematic way of approaching various aspects of their training. To the extent that I now understand what Kuroda Sensei, Ushiro Sensei, and others have taught me, I have been able to develop a very systematic approach to teaching what I have gotten from Saotome Sensei and Ikeda Sensei. There are other folks around who are doing the same thing.
It is important that people start getting past the need to keep pissing at each other and acting like it somehow diminishes us to admit that someone else has something we don't. I have been doing aikido for thirty years. It's what I do. These guys don't really do Aikido. But could my Aikido be better if I knew what these guys know? Absolutely, without question. I have a whole list of areas which I want to investigate before I expire and the aspects of internal power and kokyu training these guys are talking about are high on the list. But I don't sit up late worrying about the fact that these guys know something I don't. Lots of people know things I don't; that fact does not diminish what I do know. I don't have to dispute their knowledge in order to feel secure about I know.
What we need to do is develop opportunities to share this knowledge. The Aiki Expos started that process. But now there won't be any more Expos, so how do we make that process continue for ourselves? I think a process of open exchange by way of Aikido folks inviting some of these folks to share their knowledge is crucial to the growth of the art. There's a movement within the Aikido community which is actively engaged in simplification. The spiritual side of the art is being removed or at least made "contemporary". The martial aspect of the art is being downplayed to the point at which it really is in danger of not really being a form of Budo any more. Someone needs to adding knowledge back into the art of Aikido to counter what is being lost. These folks who post are at least making an effort to point out that there are aspects of their experience that could be of great help to Aikido folks who wish to make their Aikido more like what the Aikido greats could do. If their delivery of that information pisses people off, I think folks should just get over it. No one is asking these guys to be in the Diplomatic Corps. I mean, I don't see Mike or Dan as Ambassadors to any place... If someone's ego gets a bit twinged by their delivery, well, suck it up, this is Budo. Look at the content, forget about the delivery and make your Aikido better.