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Old 06-22-2008, 06:31 PM   #2
John Matsushima
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Location: Miura, Japan
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 226
Re: Aikido™ and Aiki…do. Where are we at?

Most of the posts which I have read concerning the "internal skills" which you speak of, I have not been able to understand. There are often so many references to chinese arts and language, which I, and I assume many other cannot understand, which is why it may be written off as "non-aikido". As Aikido is a Japanese art, the concepts and terminology used are most commonly Japanese and English. Even so, there it is sometimes difficult to define certain aspects as it is due to language and culture barriers. Take Aiki, for instance. Ki itself is so difficult to define, even for the Japanese because, in part, that it does not point to one concrete idea, so that makes it all the more difficult for people to understand exactly what Aiki is. My understanding of Aiki refers to the unification of mind, body, and spirit with the universe, which I have gotten from my study of the works of Tohei, Kisshomaru, Morihei, and others. In my own experience, my views have changed not because of some revelation by experiencing someone's super-power, but rather because of the change in my own focus and seriousness of my study. Before I came to my current understanding of Aiki, which I described above, I used to think of it as what you might describe as simple ju-jutsu technique; the concept of opening and turning when pushed, and entering when pulled. But, while it may not be Aiki, it is a valid concept which is used it Aikido technique. In addition to what I have found to be Aiki, it has also been used as a reference to the harmony, spirit, and attitude used by Aikido practitioners. For example someone who is sarcastic, has a combative attitude, or seeks to win at all costs, might be referred to someone who is not "Aiki". Finally, anything which uses Aikido principles, can be referred to as Aiki. I find that in your words, you seem to have redefined Aiki into something else, that only a few understand and them condeming others for not doing so.

So, to me, all the references to the dantien, qi-gong power, etc. are just as confusing as those who attempt to use complicated physics to describe basic concepts. Furthermore, I find all the talk about internal skills to be mystifying, just hinting at concepts describing the effects without explaining in detail as to how they actually work. Take, for example this quote by Dan Harden, to which you referred;

"There is a very common and completely mistaken view that turning your whole body to move someone out from their center is aiki. Or leading a cooperative uke out off their feet by having to move yourself all over the place is aiki. This sort of blending-'called" aiki-has nothing to do with aiki. Its jujutsu, low level jujutsu."

Does this mean the one of the most basic of Aikido basics, tenkan, is not Aiki?

There are many reasons for people's misdirection in Aikido. Some of the reasons are, I think, is because of their attempt to find the "secrets" by inventing new concepts, applying similar, but different concepts instead of the one that should be used, or by applying valid (or perhaps invalid), but again different concepts from outside arts to Aikido, which I think is done with the subject of Internal Arts.

This is why I consider most of the discussion of internal power to be outside of the realm of Aikido.

-John Matsushima

My blog on Japanese culture
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