Don J. Modesto
Thanks for the thoughtful response. You write as if I had suggested that reading outside of aikido substitutes for reading within aikido or for practice of aikido. Don't think I did.
Don't think so myself. With Ellis or PAG, we have models of clarity. Stevens launches into wild New Age chatauquas of Gregorian chant-healing and KI particles and TENCHI Jesus. What the heck can he mean? And, of course, he doesn't do us the courtesy of naming any sources other than his own books or those of his sponsors, the Ueshibas. I like something with some rigor to it, not just wishful thinking confidently stated.
Again, I disagree. This sounds very much like what the Jpn say about their culture to GAIJIN in general: You can't understand us unless you're Jpn. "Mind and body unified." How many people think that comes from aikido? Quite a few, I'd guess. But it's boilerplate for esoteric practices. I would think that's where aikido picked it up. Osensei was certainly a practitioner of esoteric practices. For me, reading about how this popular phrase was operationalized, practiced in step by step fashion did much to clear up vagueness in much aikido lit.
Perhaps I'll go as far as "necessary"--with some reservations--but not "sufficient." I rather think that many folks who've done something well, will have an insight into the mechanisms of aikido, especially if it another MICHI, and many people who do aikido WAZA well have no clue of the spiritual underpinnings.
That certainly a good starting place. But often they don't offer context. For example, if I say "550", you don't know if I'm talking about a departure time, an arrival time, a fat man, or a skinny horse. The authors outside of aikido literature mentioned above provide context to make 550, or "I am the universe" meaningful.
Precisely. Absent the tutelage students of these teachers take for granted, Blacker or Hardacre or Abe Ryuichi at least give us some insight, as autodidactically spastic as that may be realized.
No disagreement here. Did it seem as if there was?
"Seeing the whole picture at once." Ever is it thus. We build up to this clumsily. We use what evidence and crutches we can. There is no 1-2-3 as a ski instructor once put it to me. But that's how we learn, 1-2-3. The learning outside of aikido writing is to fill in the gaps of knowledge/experience someone raised in Japan (thought perhaps not a recent generation) took for granted.
Thanks for the reply.
Your post merely triggered some thoughts I was already having and gave me an excuse to set them down. I didn't mean for them to be placed in opposition to any of your ideas item by item.
I am in the middle of reading Ushiro Sensei's newest book and am frustrated by the futility of reading about this stuff. I have trained just enough directly with him to have some idea about what he is doing and just enough to know that I don't have a clue about much of it. I read his words and I find myself over and over coming back to Mike Sigman's " I have to "feel it".
I'm the first one to agree that knowledge of the larger picture historically, culturally, religiously, etc is important. I continue to read everything I get my hands on. It just doesn't accomplish much without the training. And I am finding that my training, despite the fact that it is changing at an exponential rate at this point, just can't keep up with my acquisition of intellectual information. So I know all sorts of stuff in my head but really understanding it in my art lags substantially behind. So I get to the point at which I ask myself, why read another book or article? I need to REALLY digest, on a deep level, everything I already "know".
The more I train, the more inadequate it all feels. Every new insight opens up another area that is completely unexplored. I keep meeting people who can do stuff that I have no clue whatever how they do it. Then I get an inkling, do something I never thought I'd be able to do and then I remember that what I am doing is just the 101 Intro level compared to what these folks are doing.
As much as I am a big proponent of principle based training and better systematic methodology, a lot of the stuff I am working on just can't be explained in any meaningful way without the actual experience, the chance to feel it. It's such a slow process and I am running out of time. I'm 57 this year and I just keep finding more to work on. I've started thinking my only hope is to be reborn in my next lifetime and then get "re-birthed" so I can remember what I knew in this life while having the younger body and the extra years to train. Doesn't sound very realistic does it?
Anyway, your thoughts are fine and I am not really in disagreement with them. Its always good to hear from you.