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Old 10-03-2006, 08:52 AM   #108
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,619
Re: What is "Aikido"?

Mike Sigman wrote:
Riddle me this.... regardless of the simple lever classes, depending on muscle-bone attachments, we could be silly and argue about whether "push" and "pull" have rotational components all day. But why would we take some fairly obvious movement and obscure it from the lay public by splitting hairs over simple "push" and "pull"???? You're the one saying that you're trying to put things into western terms, but if you're going to analyse all pushes and pulls for their rotational components, you and David Skaggs will have to do it alone. Why would anyone else want to join in such a needless exercise?
Because "obvious" perception can cause dangerously illusory disconnects from physical reality. Ask any pilot how to tell which way is up. If you think you know, try deciding in an overbanked (>90 degree) turn on a hazy day. If you judge "up" by what you think you perceive, you will make a lovely scorched hole in a pasture someplace.

A more everyday example is the fact that though for all the world it looks like the pencil turned to rubber when I wiggle it between my fingers, it remains happily rigid.

I come from a background where three axis orientation and control is not the difference between ukemi or kaeshi waza, but life and death. That is my introduction to the true root of budo. Life-death. Altitude control or uncontrolled impact. No middle ground.

I therefore take this aspect of the budo rather seriously, as should any one in an art so firmly found on sword work. One such serious applicaiton of this sensibility is that if my kumitachi partner performs the waza poorly, I very often show him how to take the offered ukemi safely -- and cut him with the very motion of my fall. It aids him in understanding why his "obvious" win -- I fell down -- does not remain so obvious.

Perception can be fooled because our perceptual systems are imperfect (and our conscious and unconscious motivational systems responding to those perceptions are also imperfect). Buddhism calls this general tendency maya. Our perceptions are not wrong, but our assumptions about what they tell us may be.

The same is indisputably true of our sense of balance, in terms of visual, vestibular and kinesthetic cues. This vulnerability is exploited with some degree of subtlety in aikido. I would not have thought the point that "obvious" perceptions of movement and balance and the underlying assumptions that frame responses need to be critically studied would be so controversial in this regard.


Erick Mead
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