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Old 07-12-2009, 03:12 PM   #42
Mike Sigman
Location: Durango, CO
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Re: Japanese Aikido Teachers - Translation

Quote:
Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
Let's ask instead: what is the utility of each of these two propositions to the practicioner of aikido?

The first proposition says that aikido either resembles or descends from skills evident in the Chinese and whatever other nearby martial arts. So what will the practicioner find there? A bunch of insular camps of martial artists all doing their own thing, with no one providing any single skill set that anyone will peg as Morihei Ueshiba's practice. They will find things that may cause some small insight into what they were doing, but nothing that illuminates the whole, or anyone willing or able to teach such a thing (meaning - to be exactly as skilled as Morihei Ueshiba).

The second proposition says that aikido is most directly derived from Daito Ryu, that Morihei Ueshiba had no real significant investment in other martial arts, whether Japanese or foreign in origin, and that where he differed from Daito Ryu at all is his own progression of things he learned from there. What's a practicioner to find there? A bunch of insular camps of martial artists all doing their own thing, with no one providing any single skill set that anyone will peg as Morihei Ueshiba's practice. They will find things that may cause some small insight into what they were doing, but nothing that illuminates the whole, or anyone willing or able to teach such a thing (again, meaning - to be exactly as skilled as Morihei Ueshiba).
I think the DR aspect is sort of a misleading strawman to the discussion. Why even go there? George Ledyard was talking about skills that are becoming more and more known in Aikido. I suggested that people make a list of the skills that are and were historically in Aikido because I think it is very important that the actual Aikido skillsets be delineated from the whole set of available skills in the ki/qi paradigm of physical skills. Within an accurate set of ki-related skills for Aikido will of course be a large overlay with the skills within an accurate DR definition involving ki skills. However, since the ki-related skills in DR are only a subset of the full and much larger set of ki skills in toto, there is no real need to involve DR in the discussion.

If you look at a the list of actual skills contained in Aikido as being measured by what Ueshiba could do (and IMO I still think he could do some things not found in DR, even though a lot of what he got was from DR), then you have a list that does much to define what is contained in good Aikido. Now, having a list like this doesn't do much more than define the general outter parameters of Aikido *in relation to the ki-strengths skillset*. There is more to Aikido than just the ki-strengths, although the other aspects are defined by that baseline skillset. What I mean, for example, is that Yoshinkan Aikido is going to be within the same parameters of ki-skills that Ueshiba used, although Yoshinkan may have/stress different techniques, and of course people doing Yoshinkan are just as susceptible to using muscle instead of ki, and so on.

And as I said, since Ueshiba himself defined Aikido against the larger vehicle of In-Yo, A-Un, 8 Gates, and so on, there is no need in this discussion about the skills as George meant them to digress into "techniques and where they came from". If Ueshiba got additional information from Misogi training, from a kendo school, and so on, none of that is important in relation to the total list of the skills he knew and used in Aikido.

Rather than continue on this tangent of who got what from whom, why not just make a list of the skills? That cuts to the chase. We know that Ueshiba used "aiki" (a technique known by a number of different names in a number of arts going back to ancient times). We know that Ueshiba demonstrated static postures. We know that Ueshiba used breathing techniques and postures to build his powers. And so on. By first listing all the known skills Ueshiba demonstrated or that we can legitiamately infer, we can approach the "translation" problem and perhaps get around it with that extra information. Currently there is a problem with some ki-skills techniques being shown but the Japanese teachers involved can't seem to articulate how they're doing them. If we begin to formulate a baseline definition of the available skills, defining and then teaching the skills should become a lot easier, eh?

FWIW

Mike Sigman
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