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Old 12-04-2012, 05:13 PM   #312
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Is aiki a clash of forces?

Mary Eastland wrote: View Post comes the herd mentality again. If you don't talk about this in a certain way you can't talk about it without the herd coming out saying all the same rhetoric again.....baaaaaaaa!
It is not "herd mentality" when there is a commonly accepted set of terms which describe something, this terminology goes back two thousand years and crosses a number of cultures and languages, and folks who understand what these terms mean can have common discussion. Then folks come along, trying to describe the same things and use completely different terms or, use the same terms but differently... And then, they use terms with precise definitions i terms of anatomy and use them differently than the accepted usage. Well, that makes discussion virtually impossible.

Which is why I keep saying these discussions are largely a waste of time. You have a bunch of folks who have done a certain type of work and have learned the generally accepted terminology. This allows them to speak to each other. You have another group of people who have not done that kind of work, do not share the terminology and use language to describe what they do. I don't have a problem with that per se but those people cannot then go to the larger community and have meaningful discussion because when they try non one knows what they mean or, as often happens, you suspect you do know, but it just reveals that they don't have a clue.

When a group of people know what they are talking about, and a perhaps much larger group which doesn't, end up arguing about something. I fail to see how it is "herd mentality" for the folks who do know and do understand to point out the errors in someone's thinking when they voluntarily entered into such a discussion. No one here is "dojo busting", showing up on your doorstep and showing you up in front of your students. No one here is following people around the Internet, bashing anyone's skills on their Facebook page, posting critical messages on their Google+ profile, un-endorsing anyone for lack of skills on LinkedIn. It is anyone's choice to engage in discussions. Doing so pretty much means that you have to deal with it when a large group of folks decides you are wrong. When I personally posted a few things over the years that a majority of responders disagreed with I had to decide whether I was in fat wrong or they disagreed but I didn't care. But I didn't tell them that they were exhibiting "herd" mentality. I had to concede that the number of folks who disagreed with me in itself was an indicator that I was probably wrong. When I see and directly experience the quality of the folks you are lumping into the "herd" and know for myself just how qualified they are and I can see and directly experience any number of other folks, I have to say I weight the responses differently. Not everyone's opinion carries the same weight. I am sorry but this so-called herd has some of the most talented and brightest folks I know.

One of the reasons that more folks who have a high level of skill do not participate on the forums is the generally low level of the discussions. (There are other reasons too, which have to do with the vituperation and the personalities) The fact that the folks in this so-called "herd" have not simply walked away is interesting in my opinion. I have largely absented myself from the boards lately because the discussions I am interested in largely go nowhere. Some of the folks in the "herd" seem to have more interest in getting folks who don't "get it" to do so. I don't have the energy. It's like arguing about evolution with my born again friend. No amount of factual information will change anything he believes.

It just rankles when someone decides that the opinions of a bunch of folks whom I personally know to understand what they are talking about, several on a level of sophistication that I find awe inspiring, are just part of a "herd" because they have the collective temerity to point out that someone's argument is wrong. Aikido is a really messed up art these days. The amount of wishful thinking that takes place is staggering. I'd like to see that get fixed. Part of that is going to be the process of saying BS when something's BS. Some folks won;t like hearing it. I'm sorry about that. But one of the things that has led to this mess is the idea that we are all ok. Everyone's ideas are valid, everyone's approaches should be respected. I think that's nuts when it comes to Budo. I can really like you, I can respect you as a person, enjoy your company, and still think your Aikido isn't very good. The Aikido I was presented by my teacher had some grounding in reality. It was expected that, if another martial artist of the same experience level as you, walked in the door of your dojo, you could actually handle yourself. I see very few Aikido teachers out there one could say that about. The art is in danger of dying out as a Budo.

While I do actually think that fighting is not the point of training and that the Founder created the art as a practice for spiritual development, I have never understood why many folks think that a shallow understanding of the physical / energetic principles behind the art could possibly yield any kind of depth on the spiritual side. Now, in this instance, I am not saying Erick's understanding of anything is shallow. Quite the opposite... What I am saying is that Erick's terminology is not a step forward. I know something about this stuff and I largely find his explanations largely incomprehensible. Maye it's because I am stupid and he's so smart. But I teach professionally and I think I am quite good at explaining what I am doing and getting others to do it. Erick's reinvention of a new language to talk about this stuff, including using accepted terms in non-accepted ways, might actually work for him. Maybe it's how he really thinks about what he is doing. But I would say that as general practice I wouldn't recommend it. It divorces you from the entire corpus of literature going back hundred and hundreds of years. It divorces you from the entire community of folks who have high skills and already share a common descriptive language for talking about it. And it necessitates spending a good five to ten years teaching others the language so you can start effectively teaching them. Doesn't make sense to me.

I mean Dan H and Mike Sigman don't agree on much of anything in this universe, maybe even multi dimensionally, but they can actually talk to each other and argue using a common language which both understand. Erick can't do that and be understood by anyone but himself. Now maybe folks who aren't technical and don;t already have a descriptive terminology would read Erick's stuff and feel they understand what he's talking about. I suspect that it would mostly be projection if they did, but what the hell. But there's no way for him to talk to the people on the forums who really are doing some hard work on the aiki / internal power development without a constant interruption caused by mutually exclusive use of terminology. And it's certainly not "herd" mentality when the folks who know what they are talking about, and have direct hands on experience with the teachers posting here, point out that "that word you keep using, I do not think it means what you think it means".

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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