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Old 03-01-2007, 12:19 PM   #774
Dojo: Kodokan
Location: Portland, OR
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 54
Re: Baseline skillset

Brion Toss wrote: View Post
As for your assertion that physics and engineering analysis is a waste of time and silly, I continue to be stupefied. Perhaps an example from another field would help.
I had a father-in-law, now sadly gone on, who was a P-47 pilot in "War 2", as he called it. The basic (please stop calling them "baseline"; that's another word) skills required to fly a P-47 were definitely teachable, and those teachers, according to Curtiss, who understood the plane best tended to turn out fighter pilots who were less likely to get shot down. So no question, teachable, hands-on skills were valuable, as I am sure they are today. But Curtiss also often spoke of the exhaustive --- and exhausting --- time spent in classroom study over the years, where the physics of flying were imparted, to whatever degree possible, to aspiring pilots as well as senior ones. Without what he learned there, including how to think about problems, he said, repeatedly, that the hands-on stuff would be less valuable. He was definitely inclined to be a seat-of-the-pants fighter jock, but he understood the value of concepts. One of the consequences of those concepts was the addition of the characteristic "spine" that ran from the aft end of the cockpit to the base of the tail in later models of the P-47. This spine, which he suggested to a Repuplic engineer, helped prevent spin in certain situations, especially steep dives.
Now I'm no physics major either. In fact I have a hard time reading and digesting Mr. Mead's posts, and I'm sure I'm missing a lot. But what I derive is informing my practice, as knowledge tends to do. His attempts at describing the mechanics of Aikido, and how they relate to learning have, as I recall, been dismissed as attempts to use simple mechanical principles to describe extremely complex actions. Well let me clue you in: so far it is ONLY by use of simple mechanical principles that we can hope to describe extremely complex actions. The trick is to apply the correct principles, the ones that actually correspond to the actions. You might not find this approach useful in your practice. You might think that all you need is to touch the right teachers. And you might be right. Notice, please, that I am not dismissing your approach as useless and silly.
Hi Bryon-

I liked your anecdote. I tend to concur with Curtiss on the subject of hands on and class room skill sets, particularly as a carpenter-turned-engineering student.

We indeed use simple mechanical principles to describe complex actions, (though personally I don't think that's the only "tool in the kit.") There are some things we can't explain using these simple mechanical principles. For example, I can describe, using mechanical principles, how aiki age is used in kokyu-dosa to lock up your skeletal structure and give me access to your spine. I can not use mechanical principles to explain why it works better when I breathe, or why I get different effects depending on where I place my intent but I have tangible, visceral evidence that it does work.

That's all well and good, but here's the rub with Mr. Mead. Several posters here have suggested that he's applying the wrong set of mechanical principles or that possibly this can't be explained using said principles. I myself suggested that, through my own experimentation and knowledge of said principles, the latter was indeed the case. Mr. Mead said I was wrong because.....he saw a video.....of someone an event he didn't attend.

I have no problem with people who don't believe it until the see (feel) it, but the physical sciences (physics, chemistry, etc) and by extension, engineering, are laboratory sciences, fundamentally based on experimentation and tangible results. This implies not only finding an answer, but all answers. So, for Mr. Mead to expound mechanical theory while refusing to enter the lab to test all the theories presented is indeed a waste of time and silly.

Tom Wharton

Kodokan Aikido - Puttin' the Harm in Harmony,
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