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Old 01-12-2013, 06:09 AM   #3
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Morihei Ueshiba's Use of the Term "Aiki"

Quote:
Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Or it requires going to look. Bald assertions don't get anyone very far.
Absolutely.

Quote:
Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Related note, this one is for Chris H. From Aikido and spirituality: Japanese religious influences
in a martial art
:

'Tomiki Kenji, for instance, attributed Ueshiba's skill to "muscular training which is part of modern physical eductation [sic]. It's called isometrics". [Pranin (ed.), Aikido Masters, 58]'

LOL. Yeah, it's just isometrics. Part of any decent physical training regimen.
Hugh's quote is from Margaret Greenhalgh's MA thesis. In the book version, it appears on p. 36. Since Chris H and others might like to have the context, here it is.

"This failure to put Ueshiba's performance and experience into the context of Japanese spiritual traditions, however, has led scholars such as Guttmann and Thompson to treat accounts of his martial arts performance with disbelief. Such skepticism is not confined to scholars; some martial artists, both during Ueshiba's lifetime and in the present, have also doubted his achievement. Tomiki Kenji, for instance, attributed Ueshiba's skill to "muscular training which is part of modern physical eductation [sic]. It's called isometrics". Others, however, consider that Ueshiba's ability to throw his attackers with "what appears to be an ineffectual wave of the hand or a light, guiding touch to the attacker's body" were "eloquent testimony to his extraordinary spiritual and martial development".

Greenhalgh cites Stanley Pranin's Aikido Masters. Her quote is part of a lengthy response that Tomiki gives to a lengthy question.

The Question
"There's one thing I have a hard time explaining away even though I am skeptical person by nature. I have in my possession several films of O Sensei. In one he takes a jo [stick] about three-and-a-half feet long and extends it out to his side. Several students push at a right-angle to the jo and they are unable to move it. That's one phenomenon. Let me give another example. The founder sits with his legs crossed, his hands relaxed, and three student attempt to force him over by pushing against his head. They can't. Is this faked or is there some physical principle which can explain these feats?"

Tomiki's Response
"This is a matter of muscular training which is part of modern physical eductation. It's called isometrics. That is to say, we can train inner or outer groups of muscles by pushing or pulling. A person who is highly skilled at this form of training hardly exhibits any muscle movement at all during the exercise. When you can't see any movement the person is using his muscles very skillfully. But you are making a big mistake in the educational field if you demand a similar level of expertise from everyone. If a person trains sufficiently it is possible to do such things to some degree, but, of course, there are limits to what a human can do. Absoluteness is a problem of religious belief. I think we can call it religious faith. But if we have to disrupt our partner's psychological state through some hypnotic technique, it is not a matter of religion as I usually think of the word. I, for one, take the point of view that education appropriate for the general public is correct and I think aikido should be something normal as well."

The question and answer (with the spelling mistake corrected) appears in the revised version, Aikido Pioneers -- Prewar Era, on p. 44.

For AikiWeb students of Japanese, here is Tomiki's original response, with Romaji transcript. His Japanese is fairly straightforward. For ease of reference, I have repeated the translation, about which I have one or two reservations.

この問題は、現代体育学の、筋肉のトレーニングの事で、アイソメトリックスと言うんです。
Kono mondai wa, gendai taikugaku no, kinniku toreiningu no koto de, isometorikkusu to iun desu.
This is a matter of muscular training which is part of modern physical education. It's called isometrics.

それは、押したり引いたりすることによって、屈筋や心筋が働くわけですが、上手になると、筋肉が働くのが見えないんです。
Sore wa, oshitari hiitari suru koto ni yotte, kukkin ya shinkin ga hataraku wake desu ga, jouzu ni naru to, kinniku ga hataraku no wa mienain desu.
That is to say, we can train inner or outer groups of muscles by pushing or pulling. A person who is highly skilled at this form of training hardly exhibits any muscle movement at all during the exercise.

見えないところで筋肉をうまく使えるんです。しかし、それ(このような理論を隠しておいて、大道の安芸人のようなことをすることをさす)を教育の場にもってきたら、非常に おかしい事になってしまうんです。
Mienai tokoro de kinniku wo umaku tsukaerun desu. Shikashi, sore (kono youna riron wo kakushite oite, oomichi no akibito no youna koto wo suru koto wo sasu) wo kouiku no ba ni motte kitara, hijouni okashii koto ni natte shimaun desu.
When you can't see any movement the person is using his muscles very skillfully. But you are making a big mistake in the educational field if you demand a similar level of expertise from everyone.

 練習を積めばある程度できます。しかし、人間のやることには限界がありますよ。
Renshuu wo tsumeba aru teido dekimasu. Shikashi, ningen no yaru koto ni wa genkai ga arimasuyo.
If a person trains sufficiently it is possible to do such things to some degree, but, of course, there are limits to what a human can do.

絶対という事はこれは信念の問題でね。
Zettai to iu koto wa kore wa shinnen no mondai de ne.
Absoluteness is a problem of religious belief.

宗教的な信念とか、相手の精神状態を催眠術で狂わせるということになったら、普通の教育じゃないのです。
Shuukyoutekina shinnen to ka, aite no seishin joutai wo saiminjutsu de kuruwaseru to iu koto ni nattara, futsuu no kyouiku janai no desu.
I think we can call it religious faith. But if we have to disrupt our partner's psychological state through some hypnotic technique, it is not a matter of religion as I usually think of the word.

私は一般の、百万人の教育の立場をとって、合気道を普及しなきゃならんとかんと考えているのです。
Watashi wa ippan no, hyakumannin no kyouiku no tachiba wo totte, aikidou wo fukyuu shinakya naran to kangaete iru no desu.
I, for one, take the point of view that education appropriate for the general public is correct and I think aikido should be something normal as well.

I have quoted the whole exchange because I think it gives a necessary context to Greenhalgh's explanation of Tomiki's so-called skepticism about Ueshiba's skills.

Apologies for the thread drift (since this post does not strictly concern the definition of 合気).

P A Goldsbury
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