I'd like to take a stab at putting an end to this endless argument that has been going around and around on this thread and others. The IHTBF argument is fallacious. (I knew that degree in formal logic would come in handy SOMEDAY).
Here is the argument:
Conclusion: Anyone who hasn't trained directly with Dan (et al) can have no insight or knowledge into IP/IS and cannot make any evidence-based judgements or hold any rational opinions on the subject. (IHTBF)
- Dan Harden and a select minority of people have (re)discovered some special, secret training methods that are fundamentally different from what everybody else is doing
- These methods yield results that are fundamentally different from and far superior to what everybody else has been able to achieve (approaching O-Sensei levels)
- If you have direct experience with someone who has mastered these methods and achieved these results, it is completely obvious that everything else is lacking
- If you have never had direct experience with someone who has mastered these methods and achieved these results, you can't even conceive of the difference or understand what is being done. There is no way of describing it or demonstrating it other than direct experience.
This is a perfectly sound logical argument. The logic problem occurs when you use the conclusion to support the premises. If Graham Christian questions 1 and 4 based on his own fairly extensive experience and knowledge as a martial artist, and Chris Li raises IHTBF, this does not undermine Graham's argument, because IHTBF is based on the premises which are being questioned. To use IHTBF to support the premises is circular logic.
Consider the following analogous argument:
Conclusion: Anyone who hasn't travelled to the south pole, met the leprechaun and seen the most beautiful thing in the world can have no insight or knowledge into beauty and cannot make any evidence-based judgements or hold any rational opinions on the subject.
- At the south pole there lives a leprechaun in a cave.
- The leprechaun can show you the most beautiful thing in the world.
- If you see this beautiful thing, you cannot help yourself from agreeing that everything else in the world is ugly in comparison.
- There is no way of describing or demonstrating how beautiful this thing it. If you haven't seen it with your own eyes, the concept of beauty is completely beyond your grasp.
I will hereafter refer to this conclusion as "You have to go to the south pole and meet the leprechaun" (YHTGTTSPAMTL for short)
This is also a perfectly logical argument. But now imagine if I challenge the premises, and you use YHTGTTSPAMTL as a counter-argument:
- There is no cave at the south pole. YHTGTTSPAMTL!
- Leprechauns don't exist. YHTGTTSPAMTL!
- The most beautiful thing in the world was destroyed in A.D. 768. YHTGTTSPAMTL!
- The concept of beauty exists independently of any one beautiful thing and can be understood as a concept . . . YHTGTTSPAMTL!
The argument as a whole is only as convincing as the premises, and it is specious to use the conclusion to support those premises. The premises must be supported by some external evidence. This puts the IHTBF crowd in a difficult position, because by their own account there is nothing short of direct experience that will support their position.
The claims about IP, etc. may be true, and I have no doubt that the people doing it are enjoying their training and are getting something out of it. I would even like to try it some day. The further claim that it is categorically different from what everyone else in the world is doing has not been, in my opinion, supported by sufficient evidence to convince me (and a lot of other people who know a great deal more about aikido than I do). Making the same statement over and over and over again on aikiweb does not make it a true statement and does not add any evidence in support of the claim.
We could all run to Dan's seminars to try and find this evidence or discount the claims, but most of us have teachers that we already spend time sincerely learning from, teachers that we trust, teachers that we have felt and observed in real life and respect deeply. When someone comes along and claims that these teachings are all missing the essential point of what O-Sensei was trying to convey, it goes against evidence that we have experienced directly in real life, so we can't really give it that much weight. Without some counter-evidence (I know, I know, IHTBF!), it is hard to feel convinced.
So please enjoy your training, write about it and even brag about it if you like. I, for one, am interested and somewhat fascinated by the debate. However, I am not convinced that my training is a waste of time because it is not the same as yours. I realize that, according to the internal logic of the IHTBF argument, I may never know the truth without seeking out Dan or somebody and experiencing it for myself. If this is the case, then it is unfortunate for me that I have other teachers with whom I prefer to train and other ways in which I would rather spend my travel budget and precious time.
From now on, whenever somebody writes "IHTBF" I will be responding, tongue firmly in cheek, with "YHTGTTSPAMTL". Anyone else is free to do likewise.
Many paths up Mount Fuji, indeed.