View Single Post
Old 05-14-2008, 09:01 AM   #16
Erick Mead
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,407
Re: Taiji Motion study

Tim Fong wrote: View Post
Your methods can't explain the "how" either.
You mistake what I am doing. Ki as traditionally understood explains the how. Now we must explain Ki in other terms.

It is not like there is not a general sense that this needs doing -- look at Rocky Izumi's current (and laudable) effort toward that end. He is laying out principles in the form of what craftsmen call "rules of thumb" highly pragmatic rules of structure and execution. They are very valuable, and they also have a long tradition in technical crafts and even engineering (East and West). But there are other tools we have in physics, to do a similar thing, that East and West now equally share.

An analogy: The first step, by the French Jesuits, later again Wades-Giles, and then again in the pinyin system was to transliterate the sound of Chinese for the benefit of the sound/symbol languages to enable them to "hear" it in writing, and then begin to associate concepts from the writings with the primary sense data of hearing. The second step was to take the "heard" writing and then make it accessible in terms of its concepts.

This is in hanzi:


This is the same in pinyin:

Yī gǒu kyǐ jiǔ zi mǎfng shujio, dnsh tā yě b sh mǎ de.

A reader may not know what the first or the second things are saying (the same thing FWIW) but the reader is closer to it in being able to sound it out, and can memorize the raw sense data, and then find a Chinese speaker to explain it. But if all the reader has (to the reader) is meaningless stick figures, he is able to make NO sense of it at all, nor even know what to ask later when he finds a native speaker.

Hearing is the primary sense of language, and the primary sense is necessary to internalize it. That's why kids read out loud. Written images that are closest to the actual primary sense (in a given culture) are most effectively learned. Alphabetical languages are easily "heard"; a Westerner can more easily internalize the sound than the pictogram, because pictorial languages require much rote learning to internalize sound from the image. Alphabetics are analytic, and less foundational work is necessary to work it out. Ki, as a conceptual system, and physics have a similar distinction in their approaches to physical problems.

Aikido is a physical "language." Its primary sense is touch and movement. Touch and movement are no more directly perceptible in the written page than hearing is, but a representation of it can be made if the representation makes the primary sense datum accessible to the sense memory of the reader.

Two systems, physics and ki, may equally represent the primary sense data. They are not, however equally accessible in talking about or writing about the primary data, depending on culture. You may analogize what I am trying to do with the transliteration that various systems have attempted with the sounds of Chinese. Pinyin is NOT Chinese -- it is a Western point of access to Chinese.

Aikido, in western terms, is somewhere between steps one and two, above. For those that get it in traditional terms as those terms were meant (and not as fancifully imagined) they need no more. For those who do not easily get it in traditional terms some transliteration is necessary into a different system of understanding, to get it in terms they can use their own physical sense memory to access and internalize it.

And anyone who merely defaults to "you just have to feel this stuff" as an exclusive retort is simply complaining that "pinyin is not Chinese." While not wrong, it simply misses the point (apart from tending to be condescending and presumptive). It would be like saying that Shakespeare's written work is good for nothing but wiping up spills simply because it is not in its "intended" directly spoken form, as though people are incapable of "hearing" in the head when reading what is written.

Once you have access, have learned the alphabet and basic grammatic structure of the language you can start to puzzle out the place and meaning of essential words, and then in comparing what you hear and seeing what is written, you can get on to nuances of grammar, inflection and more elegant forms of expression.


Erick Mead
  Reply With Quote