Brion Toss wrote:
Both sides have employed mathematical justifications for their views, and it is on this level that I, personally, find the most compelling evidence one way or the other (I haven't trained with either person, so the logical arguments are what I have to work with). Mr. Sigman seems to have a working knowledge of basic geometry, but my impression is that, rather than using it to describe his practice, he uses it to rationalize it, and refuses to acknowledge other models. So he'll go on for a while talking about angular momentum and dear Mr. Newton, and then retreat to vague references of power sources and a need not to post information on a public site for people who haven't worked for it. Now I have no doubt as to the existence of those power sources, but I find this approach annoying for two reasons: the mathematical model does not appear to correspond to the phenomena being discussed; and I distrust the "it's a mystery for the initiates" schtick.
Since my own mathematical skills are abysmal to the point of practical no-existence, I don't find any of the mathematical discussion helpful at all. The question is what is happening with your body and what is happening with your mind in the training or martial interaction.
Mike can "do" what he says he can. I have felt it. He is also capable of explaining what he is doing in such a way that, in a fairly short period of time, one can begin to get the skills he is teaching into ones own body.
Erick is one of the smarter folks with whom I am familiar (and I know some pretty smart folks). I am sure that he can do what he thinks he can do. He isn't the type of fellow to content himself with what we not so fondly refer to as "wishful thinking" Aikido.
So where is the disconnect? I think that the first issue lies in trying to define some aspect of the energetics as "not Aikido". For me, as a student of Saotome Sensei, there is very little that would be described as "not Aikido". Certainly there are attitudes which O-sensei would have condemned which he would have felt were not consistent with the moral and ethical principles of the art. But he was careful to say that one should not show the techniques of the art to people of bad character. In other words, the principles which underly technique are value neutral and could be misused.
But when it comes down to describing those principles, there is very little that I was taught not to include in my Aikido. Aiki seemed to include both that which was creative and life affirming and that which was destructive and life ending. The application of these techniques would be deteremined by the aforementioned ethical and moral considerations. As far as I was taught, about the only thing that one can pretty much say "isn't" Aikido is the use of pure muscle power to overcome the strength of the opponent. Taht would not be considered 'aiki" and therefore would not be part of Aikido.
But being able to join with the intention of the opponent in order to enter intside his attack and end the confrontaion with one strike would be part of the art. the ability to neutralize the power of an attack simply by directing ones attention and intention in various ways would be part of the art. Understanding how to relax ones body completely to abosrhbg and redirect the power of the opponent would be part of the art.
The way I have been taught, it's all Aikido on some level. The art is infinite, the ways in which one can manifest the principles is not limited. So arguments which say that one very succesful way of doing a technique is Aikido but another successful way of doing a technique is not don't make much sense to me. And they don'y help me in any way learn what I want to know.