Thread: kamae problem
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Old 07-25-2011, 07:46 AM   #86
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
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Re: kamae problem

Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
Hugh, have you seen the interview quote where someone remembers him saying that even he doesn't understand the things he himself says?
I think both Tohei and Shioda remembered things to this effect.

He said he is a vessel for messages from the Kami, so he doesn't necessarily understand what comes out of his mouth.

Personally I don't think that is too nuts, but I do think it is very idealistic.
Ah, Jonathan, I think you are muddying the waters here.

I agree with Dan Harden that it is best to assume that M Ueshiba was well aware of what he was doing with the Budo volume and that he approved what was stated there. Remember that the Budo volume was produced as a practical manual for the Japanese military, about to fight a major war in South Asia, and so we can perhaps assume that the explanations were understood by those instructors who were supposed to teach the rank and file.

So I think the issue is a translation issue, rather than anything related to the Omoto practice of chinkon kishin, which is known about here in Japan and has been studied in a context quite unrelated to Ueshiba and aikido. In any case, this manual was produced in 1938, many years after the practice of chinkon kishin had been stopped in Omoto. It is a further question--and a very interesting question--to what extent the practice of chinkon kishin in Omoto was related to Ueshiba's own personal training methods.

Whoever wrote the text of the Budo volume used the phrase 六方 and Ueshiba was happy with this and signed off on it. The fact that the phrase was used in kabuki is a start, but does not cast much light on what the phrase meant to Ueshiba.

The next question is whether the translation of John Stevens (60 degree angle), which is the only one publicly available at the moment, conveys what Ueshiba actually meant. The Kodansha editors were clearly satisfied, but there are grounds for thinking that it does not convey what Ueshiba meant and that they did not really have a clue.

On the other hand, there are no grounds for believing that 六方 means anything related to internal training. Of course, it might do, in the way that phrases from the 道歌 have been construed as a code for such training. The consequence is that a translator who does not understand IT is judged incapable of translating 六方 correctly (i.e., in accordance with what the IT believers think that Ueshiba really meant). I do not believe that this is correct. If it were correct, and if you generalize the hypothesis, it would render the practice of translation largely impossible.

As an analogy, consider the following. In one of my university classes, I require my students (non-native graduate students) to write a detailed description in English of a bicycle and how to ride one, for the benefit of someone who has never seen a bicycle. They have two tasks: first to make the description and explanation in their own language, in concepts they are easy with; secondly to translate this into English.

There are loads of conceptual issues here, apart from translation, one of which is IHTBF, or IHTBDB (it has to be done beforehand). Unless you have actually learned how to ride a bicycle and have actually ridden one, you cannot teach someone else how to do it. However, this is a different issue to that of explaining in words how to perform a complex physical action and many students confuse these issues and wrongly assume that teaching someone how to ride a bicycle is the same as describing what someone is actually doing when they are riding one.

Of course it might be a complex psycho-physical action, but in this case you also have to explain how the extra element of 'intent' actually leads to movement of the feet on the pedals and beyond. I can think of some Tohei-esque explanations. Extend ki right through your pedals and handlebars; mount the bicycle with a feeling of joy, and assume a roppo stance against all other road users (especially in London). Keep weight underside, i.e., below the saddle. Be totally relaxed, especially when using the brake and accelerator pedals. Etc etc.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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