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Old 08-29-2013, 10:56 AM   #141
jonreading's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido South (formerly Emory Aikikai)
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,068
Re: Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
You aren't saying that, because your understanding of these things has evolved, that you cannot accept anything about Aikido?

A minor point, but....because your understanding and opinion on these matters has changed, does not mean "we" were "wrong" about them.

We have some new and different translations available to us now, but they have not proven the older ones to be "wrong."
Several years ago I spoke with a friend of my brother. The friend hppened to be in residency at NCSU from Hokkaido for a joint project. In talking about aikido, this friend told me that several of the elements I raised in conversation were not necessaryily wrong, but coloquial. To praphrase his response, "If I started talking to you in old English, I would be speaking English, but not contemporary English." To his point, and my larger point, I am not confident that our aikido curriculum is adequate to claim a [functioning] cultural knowledge about Japan. There may be individual examples that could make this claim, but overall...

Second, I am specifically trying to avoid combining a ideologiocal belief with a practical fact. In some of my previous post I spent some time speaking about translations as an example of an evolution of understanding. I do not think there is a right or wrong here, except to say that we did the best we could with what we had, and now we can do better. I think as long as we keep the context of the issue, we can avoid rights and wrongs. After all, hindsight is 20/20. Hopefully, we are never disseminating "wrong"...

I am getting at a point where we could evaluate the reason why we would deliberately hold on to an understating that is outdated or improved upon. Why would we hold onto a translations, for example, which has been more accurately re-written? I advocate that we make these decisions because they align with our ideological beliefs, not necessary because they are technically more accurate. There is something to saying, "I like this quote because it resonates with me", and be comfortable acknowledging the inaccuracy of the quote.

We [our dojo] have recently been making light of the concept of "blending" because we are working on this yin/yang thing that is moving our entire bodies. The positivie result is something like throwing uke into a blender where they are tossed around failry effortlessly by nage. The joke is that O Sensei was mistranslated, he really meant "blend" as in a blender, not as in to blend with.

At some point, you can empirically argue correctness. At one point in time, the world was flat. At another point in time, the world is round. Taken within context, both "facts" are correct. Of course, we know one fact to be correct and the other incorrect. I think you can similarly argue the correctness of revised translations - the issue is deciding if the factual revision bears impact on the consumption of the translation. The male eye sees 8 colors, none of which is tourquoise. In interpreting the color of the sea, I may say blue/green. My friend may say green/blue. My wife may say tourquoise. All three are acceptible translations, which is most correct?

This is my point regarding tying the dissemination of aikido to a cultural reference. It oligates us to remain informed of the quality of our cultural education and understand and address the contemporary impact of the reference. We are practicing an art tied to a time period in Japan, romaticized beyond fact, and translated across world. I think those are some pretty tricky waters to navigate with accuracy...

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