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Old 01-24-2007, 09:33 AM   #6
Josh Reyer
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Location: Aichi-ken, Nagoya-shi
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Re: Article: Restoring Harmony by Ross Robertson

Don J. Modesto wrote:
A careful post and one I benefit by. Thank you.

I have a question, though.

I took the term "aiki" very analytically once, as have you here. I asked Stanley Pranin at a seminar if "aikido" couldn't be translated as "the way of taking balance" (taking the compound "aiki" in the way DR's Kondo defines it as taking balance.) Stanley didn't quite harumph, but he didn't appreciate the irony, either. Osensei plainly meant "harmony" is his mind.

Ultimately, we could just be arguing angels on a pinhead. Ueshiba indulged in esoteric discourse, much of which consists of punning and the like. It could very well have all these meanings for him.

Interested in your comment and thanks again for the excellent post.
Well, here we are getting into higher interpretations of a compound. Which is fine. Ueshiba said once that the ki one matches is not the opponent's, but rather that of the Universe, and that once one has done that, any encounter is beyond victory/defeat, because your opponent simply can't go against the Universe. If one wanted to take that comment and suggest that thus "'aiki' means 'Harmony with the Universe'", I see no problem with that, provided one makes clear that's an interpretation made in conjunction with Ueshiba's lectures/writings.

Kondo's definition is a higher order interpretation as well. There's simply no way "taking balance" can be derived from the linguistic elements. However, as I understand it, aiki in used in Daito-ryu to obtain kuzushi instead of the usual jujutsu methods. Instead of pushing or pulling the opponent off-balance, the aiki practioner "applies aiki" at contact, (seen in demonstrations by uke either falling at a touch, or standing immobilized on his toes, his knees bent), and then applies the throwing/locking technique. I qualify this by saying I have no personal experience with DR, and am basing this judgment purely by what I've seen here on the net, and what I've read in books and in various forums. I welcome any correction or refinement in this area.

So, I would hazard that Kondo was essentially pointing out how aikijutsu was theoretically used in conflict, rather than providing a working translation of "aiki". I would tentatively agree with Mr. Pranin that "aiki" as a single word has different implications in aikido compared to Daito-ryu, but then I'd raise the question of whether it should have those implications, at least from a technical standpoint.

Personally, just from what I have read I don't think Ueshiba cared very much what his art was called. He changed it several times, and when it was called "aikido" it was all the same to him, and he proceeded to mine it for material in his lectures; e.g. punning that the "ai" of aikido was 愛 ai, "love".

"Ueshiba Morihei and Aikido" (a compilation in Japanese of a number of Aiki News's interviews with Ueshiba's deshi) includes a transcript of a radio interview with Ueshiba where the interview specifically asked Ueshiba about the Aikido name. Here's my translation of it (the footnote is included):
Interviewer: Why did you name your art "Aikido"?

Ueshiba: I didn't name it. As this is a great treasure of the nation, it's not someone one person just names. When I had given it no thought, Mr. Kotaro Nakamura from the Education Ministry came and suggested "aikido".* They said to call it aikido. It sounded like a fine suggestion, so I said let's make it that, and there it was. After that, I figured I had to look into this thing called "aikido" myself...

* "On February 9, 1948, permission was granted by the Ministry of Education to revise the act of endowment as "the Aikikai Foundation." - Kisshomaru Ueshiba, "Ueshiba Morihei den")
Of course, it's noted earlier that Ueshiba's art was first officially referred to as "Aikido" in 1942 when Minoru Hirai was dispatched by the Aikikai Foundation (at that time called the Kobukai Foundation) to the Butokukai and they (the Butokukai) created an "aikido division" to encompass Ueshiba aikido, Daito-ryu, and others.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
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