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Old 04-27-2012, 12:24 PM   #3
R.A. Robertson
Dojo: Still Point Aikido Center
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 290
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Re: Dog Chases Tail, Tail Wags Dog

NIall,

First, thank you for taking time to respond to an article that, for me, proved frustratingly difficult to write, and ultimately disappointing and unsatisfying. A concept is in there somewhere, but just as what I was writing about, most of the time I couldn't catch it, and whenever I could, I just succeeded in tangling myself up.

I believe I probably agree with everything you are saying. I'll comment anyway.

Leadership, mind, responsibility, initiative... these things can be localized and distributed simultaneously. We often inhabit cyclic systems full of feedback loops. If I pick up a pencil, it makes perfect sense to say that I'm in control and directing all of my movements. Yet we should also not overlook the role of the pencil in directing my movements and my choices. It is an inert thing, I do not believe it has mind or intent or a magnetic field, yet it draws me to it under certain circumstances. This has particular relevance to our understanding of the dynamic in aikido.

I cannot always say what constitutes destruction and what is simple change. I have written elsewhere on why I do not emphasize kuzushi, at least not in the sense of breaking anything.

Must we destroy balance in order to redress it? As limited beings with imperfect perception and capacity, yes, I think we sometimes must. And as martial artists (that is, as human beings), we should train to do so unflinchingly.

But are not shifts in balance without destruction also possible? If every moment of change is destruction, I can understand. But then, my understanding of "destruction" as a specific kind of change is now meaningless. So as martial artists (humans being), I try to train first for the shifts in balance, the sequence of changes, that are non-destructive.

I always return to the analogy with medicine. My physician might have to rebreak my arm to set it properly. That is a destructive act for the sake of redress, as you put it. Or microbes might have to be killed for my greater health. I'm comfortable with this as a kind of warfare and destruction, and I think it can be perfectly aiki.

Still, some imbalances can be redressed through other means. Rest, natural healing, closing of wounds, growing new tissue, are but a few examples of non-destructive redress.

So I think.
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