Why are we substituting that word for roppo ni hiraku if we are going to take Ueshiba at his word. Shouldn't we, rather, be discussing exactly what Ueshiba meant by roppo ni hiraku?
Not to put too fine a point on it, but that's exactly what we are doing. Ueshiba wrote "ashi wo roppo ni hiraku". Saito, a long time student who had more hands-on time with Ueshiba than anyone this board said, "That meant 'hanmi'." What we're doing now is discussing the validity of that. Did Ueshiba mean something to do with IP by that? Maybe. Maybe not. That's the discussion. The fact is, contextually, Saito's contention makes sense. In Ueshiba's own words he contrasts "ashi wo roppo ni hiraku" with "seitai" -- fully facing the opponent from the front.
Dan Harden wrote:
Interesting to read he NEVER used the term Hanmi and instead opted for six directions.
He knew what he was talking about.
As Professor Goldsbury notes, Ueshiba did use the term hanmi, and as I noted, linked it directly with "ashi wo roppo ni hiraku". Further, it was not Stevens who translated it as hanmi. In fact, no one has. Stevens translated it "roppo ni hiraku" as "60 degrees" (the use of hanmi is in the original). Roppo is left untranslated in Saito's special edition of Budo, with a note from Pranin that it means "six directions" and an explanation from Saito that it referred to hanmi.
Really? According to who? Words are words and are all equal? I guess all phrasing is interchangeable when you don't know the value of what they actually mean.
Hanmi as a subsitute not only does not work, it will not "do" for the practioner any thing near what the founder was both doing himself and trying to express to an ignorant audience. That he used six direction training as part of an overal model to attain power and balance is what someone who is trying to understand his power would be after.
Dan, I respect your reputation, vouched for by many others of excellent standing. But you are speaking beyond your knowledge here. I am not saying words are interchangeable. I'm not saying that "roppo" means "hanmi". What I am saying is that Saito has a basis for his argument given the use of the term in context
. Replace "ashi wo roppo ni hiraku" with "hanmi ni naru", and the sentences maintain complete semantic
sense. There's no stretch, no squinting needed. That doesn't mean it's correct. But as of yet, no one's provided a better explanation of just what Ueshiba meant by "open the feet in six directions", and how that relates to hanmi, irimi, maai, and not facing the enemy fully facing forward. If you have one, I'm all ears. So far, all we have is people saying "Well, technically
he didn't specifically say
'hanmi'; he said 'open the feet in six directions'." That doesn't address the problem. The purpose of translation is to communicate ideas from one language to the other. "Open the feet in six directions", the direct translation, makes no sense prima facie; it requires some note or explanation of what that term means.
No, not even close, in fact these authors with a passing knowledge of the subject often do as much damage as good; substituting their own knowledge in one area to mask a profound ignorance in an other. I've read any number of books on forging katana that have " facts" that are flat out wrong. And in their bibliographies, we find other books with unchallenged, mistakes as well.
Shirata had a series of power building exercises more akin to what Ueshiba was actually doing and fitting in with Daito ryu and Chinese arts. I have trained with one of Shirata's deshi who did not have a good handle on what they were for. Mr. Stevens is yet another example of that.
Few have managed to replicate the founders power and skill, and the translators ignorance of a training process has helped to obliterate even the few written clues he left.
Is it your contention then, that this can be learned from reading things? I'm of the opinion that it cannot. Why are people even looking there? No one's going to unlock the key from reading Ueshiba's writings because he didn't mean for the writings to do that
. The writings, such as they are, are meant to call to mind things already learned, the key already unlocked.
And one more thing that seems to be greatly overlooked. Let's review Okamoto Seigo's comments again:
Okamoto Seigo wrote:
Roppo can be understood in a variety of ways, such as the roppo of roppogumi [six groups of chivalrous young men who used to wander the city streets in the Edo period]. Or it can be equated with the roppo from the kabuki term roppo o fumu of Benkei [a priest of the early Kamakura period and a famous retainer of Yoshitsune Minamoto. Roppo o fumu means to make one's exit with bold gestures along the runway]. However, I usually compare roppo to gaming dice to describe techniques which can deal with any situation from any direction, top or bottom, front or back, right or left, like the faces of dice. But these techniques do not have square angles like dice but are round, forming six (roku) infinite circles. I am eager to get as many meanings as I can out of the term.
Okamoto, who I believe is generally believed to have garnered some understanding of aiki/IP, illustrates a point well understood by anybody who has some exposure to classical budo documents: one word can mean many things
. I can, for example, give you three different meanings to the phrase "the sound of wind and water" all coming from the same line of Yagyu Shinkage-ryu. All valid, and all distinct. I can do the same for each of the terms "Shinmyoken", "Katsuninken", and "Setsuninto". Sometimes "kurai" refers to physical posture; sometime it refers to position vis-a-vis maai.
Does "roppo" mean the six directions of north, south, east, west, up and down? Absolutely.
Was Ueshiba referring to that when he wrote "ashi wo roppo ni hiraku"? Not necessarily.
And frankly, insisting that it does here is just doing what Stevens and Saito/Pranin did: trying to read Ueshiba's mind through one's own understanding. And though you might be more proficient in the body skills than either of them, that doesn't make you right in this case. They may have better information informing their translation than you do.