Thread: Vantage points
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:03 PM   #103
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
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Re: Vantage points

Hello Ernesto,

Happy New Year!

Ernesto Lemke wrote: View Post
Fair enough. (Of course, one can also point out the fact that a lot of threads have been dedicated to some of these very questions.) To sum up Hugh's points (a bit):
PAG. Well, yes. One of the continuing achievements of AikiWeb is that it is still a general aikido forum, with no specific rules laid down as to content and form, the content being Aikido, as generally understood, and the form being the obligation for mutual respect. One of the problems, however, is that, by comparison with face-to-face interaction, it is limited as a communication tool, but I think this imposes a greater obligation for users to be more careful about how they state what they state than would be necessary in face-to-face communication. For this reason, such a general forum needs constant and careful moderation.

Ernesto Lemke wrote: View Post
- What did Ueshiba mean with "Aiki?"
Is it (as "the IP crowd" says) a specific body method, presuming to date back centuries and spanning cultures and countries? (If so, it's not unreasonable to ask for evidence -- Chris Li's blogs have done much to point this out).
PAG. This question leads to another question, of what you are going to accept as evidence, given the centuries, the cultures and the countries.

Ernesto Lemke wrote: View Post
- Is it that AND is it also a reference to other things? (Ueshiba's "Aiki is love" comes to mind).
PAG. I think the answer to this will depend on answering another question, at least to some extent, which relates to Morihei Ueshiba's preferred style of communication. Given the particular nature of the Japanese language, especially the multiplicity of homonyms, and the great liking for metaphor and word-play of Onisaburo Deguchi, there is a strong possibility that Ueshiba also used word-play and homonyms and that this might make a great difference to how he is to be understood. I mean, for example, that metaphor, homonyms and word-play might well make a scientific or academic text (where the emphasis is on clarity) less easy to understand, especially for a general reader who is not a native speaker of Japanese.

I think that you and Merlijn might have encountered problems in translating Ellis Amdur's book into Dutch. Clearly, translation is a major boon for those who cannot read the original language, but translating a text can actually create as many problems as it is intended to solve. I am acquainted with the editor of Kodansha and I know exactly what he was looking for in the published translations of Morihei Ueshiba's discourses, done by John Stevens. He wanted a translation that was not inaccurate, but which was shorn, as much as possible, of technical apparatus and footnotes, and which was in a style that the ‘average reader' (meaning the people that marketing surveys have shown typically buy Kodansha publications) can read.

Though this is not directly connected with issues of translation so much as interpretation, have you ever read Peter Heath's The Philosopher's Alice or Martin Gardner's The Annotated Alice? Both are editions of the stories with extensive explanations and annotations. Heath, for example, goes through all the philosophical questions that Dodgson was concerned with and suggests that the idea that he wrote books for children is a popular myth. In the same vein, I can see someone in future producing The IP Morihei Ueshiba, with a translation specially geared to IP training. Later still, when IP ceases to be a fad, I can imagine a future translator saying, 'Well, Ueshiba might well have meant this, but he meant other things as well and a translation has to take this into account.'

Ernesto Lemke wrote: View Post
- Can it be that this specific body method was not passed on "successfully" to the aikido world?
PAG. Well, assuming that it is a specific body method, it would certainly appear so, but again, this depends on other factors, such as the importance of "success" for those who are supposed to be doing the "passing on".

Ernesto Lemke wrote: View Post
- If not a specific body, then how is Aiki defined and does this present a problem? (Aiki extensions comes to mind).
PAG. You assume here what we do in fact need to define it. I occasionally hear statements that aikido is indefinable and you have the added problem, alluded to above, that AIKI is a Japanese term that is usually left untranslated.

Ernesto Lemke wrote: View Post
- If rephrased or adopted differently or maybe perhaps even historically incorrect, in what sense is this a problem for a discussion format such as Aikiweb?
PAG. Well, as I suggested earlier, a general discussion forum imposes certain communication constraints. In another thread the topic is the decline of online discussion forums and it seems that there is a general tendency for texting and blogs. Blogs allow the presentation of detailed information in a concentrated form, but without the complexity and academic paraphernalia (footnotes etc) of an academic text, and without the detailed discussion in a forum—as the information is being presented. I myself prefer columns, which are really long essays, but I am well aware that these make heavy demands on the reader.

Ernesto Lemke wrote: View Post
- The skills, as been claimed by "the IP crowd", are presented as physically superior to nearly every method within "conventional" (some say Modern) Aikido. The IHTBF argument seems to be a bone of content for some people who wish to discuss, even question the existence of these skills. IOW can these skills, without actual exposure be discussed on Aikiweb?
PAG. The points you make, I think, are quite correct, but I also think that problems actually start at this point. Even with the IHTBF argument, there is still a need for a very careful analysis of what is actually happening, and in a common language, shorn of metaphor, homonymy and word-play. I think this is much more difficult for ‘intentional' concepts and actions than for ‘external' movements.

Ernesto Lemke wrote: View Post
Some random questions….
PAG. In my opinion they are not particularly random. The questions are interconnected and the answers to one will directly influence the answers to others. Of course, this is not meant in any way as a criticism.

Best wishes,


P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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