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Old 01-29-2007, 10:40 AM   #269
Brion Toss
Dojo: Aikido Port Townsend
Location: Port Townsend, Wa.
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 104
Re: Baseline skillset

George S. Ledyard wrote:
Since my own mathematical skills are abysmal to the point of practical no-existence, I don't find any of the mathematical discussion helpful at all. The question is what is happening with your body and what is happening with your mind in the training or martial interaction.

Mike can "do" what he says he can. I have felt it. He is also capable of explaining what he is doing in such a way that, in a fairly short period of time, one can begin to get the skills he is teaching into ones own body.

Erick is one of the smarter folks with whom I am familiar (and I know some pretty smart folks). I am sure that he can do what he thinks he can do. He isn't the type of fellow to content himself with what we not so fondly refer to as "wishful thinking" Aikido.

So where is the disconnect? I think that the first issue lies in trying to define some aspect of the energetics as "not Aikido". For me, as a student of Saotome Sensei, there is very little that would be described as "not Aikido". Certainly there are attitudes which O-sensei would have condemned which he would have felt were not consistent with the moral and ethical principles of the art. But he was careful to say that one should not show the techniques of the art to people of bad character. In other words, the principles which underly technique are value neutral and could be misused.

But when it comes down to describing those principles, there is very little that I was taught not to include in my Aikido. Aiki seemed to include both that which was creative and life affirming and that which was destructive and life ending. The application of these techniques would be deteremined by the aforementioned ethical and moral considerations. As far as I was taught, about the only thing that one can pretty much say "isn't" Aikido is the use of pure muscle power to overcome the strength of the opponent. Taht would not be considered 'aiki" and therefore would not be part of Aikido.

But being able to join with the intention of the opponent in order to enter intside his attack and end the confrontaion with one strike would be part of the art. the ability to neutralize the power of an attack simply by directing ones attention and intention in various ways would be part of the art. Understanding how to relax ones body completely to abosrhbg and redirect the power of the opponent would be part of the art.

The way I have been taught, it's all Aikido on some level. The art is infinite, the ways in which one can manifest the principles is not limited. So arguments which say that one very succesful way of doing a technique is Aikido but another successful way of doing a technique is not don't make much sense to me. And they don'y help me in any way learn what I want to know.

Sorry for the delay in replying. I've been on the road.
Personal experience at the hands of Tohei, Saotome, and others has shown me that the kind of forces that Mr. Sigman is talking about are real, and valuable. And information from people I know and respect, such as yourself, convince me that Mr. Sigman can do what he says he can, and I'm sorry if I seemed to indicate otherwise.
But the basis of this thread is basic skills, and that was what I was responding to. I believe that any formally organized activity, be it Aikido or baseball or English composition is expressed in terms of basic principles that are more or less unique, at least in how they are combined. That's how we can tell them apart. All of these arts allow skilled practitioners to move outside the envelope, to varying degrees, but I think that one must first become competent and comfortable inside the envelope. The question, then, is what is inside it, what is basic and fundamental and gives a specific form to that art?
I am right with you in thinking that there is very little that could not be called Aikido, but I believe that accretions must relate to the core forms, whatever those are. Otherwise we just up the noise-to-signal ratio.
Whether or not I find Mr. Sigman's math compelling is really a side note, especially since that is not a language that I am particularly skilled in, either. I am simply saying that, to the extent that I understand the basics of Aikido, and the exercises he is talking about, I find them in conflict with one another.
Now, it is very easy, as we know, to practice the kihon waza in a not-terribly-meaningful way; the form does not guarantee the elicitation and development of substance. It reminds me of something Ken Kesey once said, something like, "If you want to find inspiration, you have to hang out in areas that inspiration has been known to frequent. There's no certainty that it will show up, but if you want to see it, you have to go there." For Aikido, I think that, if inspiration is going to show up, it will show up in the kihon.If we're good, and if we're lucky, the ki/kokyu/etc. that we have been talking about will manifest. It is up to us --- and our instructors --- to do the work that will reveal the power in the practices. Then maybe down the line we can relate things like Kali and Kung Fu to the basics.
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