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Old 01-26-2007, 08:31 AM   #256
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,619
Re: Baseline skillset

Ignatius Teo wrote:
My own instructor was very "strong", but no one within the group seemed to be able to replicate his strength, and nor was he telling how to...
Which I suspect is not from a desire to hide it but from a fundamental lack of vocabulary to describe the intensity of duality (Western thought) that goes right down together to form the essential unity at the indivisible center (Eastern thought). That duality allows one to "walk" the student in to the central solution, like "too hot," "too cold." The holistic mode expands the indivisible unity to encompass and blend the duality at large scale. The reduction mode finely divides the duality until there is nothing left to divide and unity is realized at the central limit.

The traditional modes rely on metaphors such as "sourcing" because, while they can reconcile opposites holistically, they do not have a way good way to relate the two aspects together in rigorous detail for arbitrary interactions. Finer and finer degrees of "hotness/coldness."

It is as though saying that the hands should come together to make one fist, which is fine, but the detail in the interlacing of the fingers of the two different hands in becoming "one" is not captured in that entirely valid traditional prescription. That is not a criticism, merely an observation about the limitaitons of a given form of knowledge.

This results, in my view, in two perspectives, that on occasion diverge in understanding when the realization that they are merely perpectives of one reality is lost (or not gained to begin with). So tradition tends to default in teaching from one pole or the other (very loosely and way overbroadly) by example -- Ki Society approach versus Aikikai and the mix between the two poles is achieved by creative unifying imagery and the repetitive "feel" of practice.

It works, in both perpectives, and very well. I am not faulting either one, and the latter practice aspect can never be dispensed with. It is the former conceptual exposition (from both sides) that I am addressing.
Ignatius Teo wrote:
OK, I get where you're coming from now.... I think this is the problem with how aikido is taught. Essentially, a follow an example, try to copy it, learn by discovery....
The problem is, people follow the motions without understanding the basis for motion. ... So when faced with a strong, resistant uke, the natural tendency is to force the motion to conform to the demonstrated model, with more physical strength. Which leads us further and further away from what Raul described Kuribayashi did to him.

Obviously, some minute (or even overt adjustment) in motion is required, to find the correct path - for the average person. But if taught and shown correctly how to source the power for the motion from the ground, using the structure, it doesn't take long before a student can find the correct path to uke's center consistently, with and without following the prescribed motion and/or rotations. How well they can do it, then becomes a matter of degree and practice.... LOTS of practice.

Which is the reason why we're having this discussion in the first place. IMO, the motion is NOT what I'm talking about when I refer to baseline skill.

It is the "source" of that motion, and how motion is given impetus (i.e. powered) that I'm talking about.

Can you see where I'm coming from?
I do. And "source" of power is fine in the holistic mode. But to break it down -- which Japanese and Chinese traditional knowledge are not designed to do, some other approach is helpful. Substance without form is a shapeless goo, form without substance is a dessicated shell. That is why I put the point on two inseparable poles.

First -- the form of the essential movement -- which is in the kokyu tanden ho, and in the waza -- and it is essentially one form -- of endless variations.

Second, the substance of the connection which is sensed (best for me) in the tekubi furi exercise (and in furitama and torifune and funakogi undo and others).

They are fundamentally the same thing -- but again two perspectives, and they must be unified.

Making the form with that sensibility throughout the movement -- that is the essence of kokyu. If the same sense is there and the necessary form of movement is understood, that sense -- precisely followed -- in one small flick of the underlying form accomplishes the purpose entirely.

The endlessly fascinating thing for me is that the paths of that form and the sense of the interaction in a particular engagement are both so varied (and ultimately unique) and yet each instance is so fundamentally similar to every other.

The kind of detail to see both parts in their interaction simultaneously (thus showing their essential unity), requires a breakdown into constituents to see where the parts (the fleshy "substance" and the form-giving "bones") fit and nestle together. That kind of reduction approach is not really native to Japanese and Chinese traditional forms of knowledge.

It is intended not to irrevocably divide them or prioritize them, but to allow one to relate the two very different poles of understanding in a one fundamentally concrete way -- and at very fine detail of interaction.

I certinly do not have it all "right" yet -- but I think I have shown the possibilities of the fine detail that can be described.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 01-26-2007 at 08:41 AM.


Erick Mead
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