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Old 03-01-2007, 11:57 AM   #773
Josh Reyer
 
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Location: Aichi-ken, Nagoya-shi
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Re: Baseline skillset

Erick,

This is quite simple. You questioned the aikido applicability of Mike's internal "baseline" skillset, arguing that it did not fit Ueshiba's idea of "non-resistance", using a quite narrow definition of non-resistance. I pointed out that Ueshiba never used the non-resistance, that he rather used the word 無抵抗, which, while it can be glossed/translated/calqued as "non-resistance", idiomatically it doesn't always match up, since what can be considered 抵抗 may not always be "resistance", and vice-versa. You asked for a source. I provided one.

You then suggested that 抵抗 meant "resistance" in a systemic sense, a wholly unsupported assertation. When I provided a dictionary entry to indicate this, you used it to then define 抵抗 as broadly as you did "resistance". When I suggested that your use of 抵抗 was not idiomatic of Japanese usage, you jumped on the 徹底 of Ueshiba's quote, linking it with 無抵抗 and justifying your very narrow definition of what "non-resistance" is. In doing so, you took it completely out of the context of the original quote.

Ueshiba never says "徹底した無抵抗". That phrase appears only in your posts. He says 徹底した無抵抗主義. I will categorically state now that the 徹底した modifies the 主義. There is no debate here. I don't care what Pranin's translation was (at the moment; see below), the Japanese is unequivocal. 無抵抗主義 is a compound, and 徹底した modifies that. You simply cannot, as you did, take the 徹底した無抵抗 and leave the 主義. Furthermore, this 徹底した...主義 expression is an idiomatic Japanese expression. The 無抵抗 is connected to the 徹底した only in as much as it is connected to the 主義.

So, after I explain that, now you come to me with Pranin's translation. This brings us exactly back to my original objection! A translation is never as reliable as the original! Okay, so what about Pranin's translation? I take back nothing that I said about it. I said it was capable and adequate for getting across the basic idea. I never said it was 100% perfect. I said that I agreed with Pranin's translation of non-resistance, and I'll thank you not to extrapolate that agreement to every word of the translation. No translation is perfect, and few are beyond quibble.

"Absolute" is one such quibble. Perhaps here Pranin, or his translator, was biased by what he already perceived the principles of aikido to be. 徹底 by itself carries more the meaning of "thorough". In the sense of 徹底した used here, "constant, consistant in thought and attitude". Lots of different ways to translate it. "Out-and-out" is sometimes seen. "Through and through". Now in translation we have to be aware of issues of tone. "A principle of non-resistance, through and through!" doesn't quite match the tone Ueshiba is taking here. I like "complete". Again, it's a very bad idea to take this word entirely literally, because it's a gloss, a calque, meant to convey general meaning, not precise semantic equivalence. So, "complete", I give a 90 on the acceptability scale, versus a 75 for "absolute". Here, any thoughts from other Japanese speakers would be greatly appreciated. I'm trying to illustrate the nebulous difficulty of translation, not say, "I'm right, Pranin's wrong."

Now, "complete principle of non-resistance" vs. "principle of complete non-resistance". Looks a lot like "six of one, half a dozen of another", does it not? The former is a literal translation. The latter more idiomatic English. Most people will get the same basic idea from both. I'm sure Pranin didn't exactly expect his translation to be taken apart literally to explain aikido mechanics. It's a nice translation (talking about the whole). It gives people with no knowledge of Japanese some insight into Ueshiba's ideas. But for God's sake, don't take it (or any translation) as gospel. A grain of salt or two is required.

Finally, both the original and the translation have a context, as you note. An interview, in which people asked specific questions, and Ueshiba was addressing those questions. I, personally, don't see how you could use that quote in a discussion of baseline skillsets and mechanics without taking it completely out of context, but I'll leave for others to decide for themselves whether you were justified in doing so.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
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