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Old 12-04-2006, 11:31 PM   #40
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,619
Re: opening the joints

Michael McCaslin wrote:
Even as I am typing this, I don't know why... I guess it's because you wouldn't be taking the time to prepare these detailed mathematical descriptions if you didn't have a love and appreciation for this stuff, and I respect that.
Fair enough. I'll leave the manual on the desk tonight.
Michael McCaslin wrote:
....skills ...martial knowledge worth sharing. .... hashed out an informal language for talking about these things. .... a metaphor that helps ... a conceptual model ... that allows them to transmit information about the finer points.
Doubtless. Chinese traditional knwledge has been passed on in just this essential way for thousands of years. But then, the West also went to the Moon first. We have adopted and adapted aikido to a greater degree than even in the place of its birth -- apparently as its founder intended, if Saotome and some others are to be believed. So, there is something to the Western approach that bears dwelling upon more deeply in its own terms when it comes to aikido.
Michael McCaslin wrote:
If I recall correctly, Takeda didn't write. Maybe not writing or reading freed up a lot of training time!
Not generally a point advocated by O Sensei, or any proponent of the deeper concepts, in either tradition -- East or West. Even the system advocated by these gentlemen, and as much as I enjoy the sparring, I respect what they are doing, requires ultimately a willingness to embrace that tradition of depth,subtlety and complexity on its own terms. And that system at its heart, like that of the West, also requires confronting what is neither familiar or comfortable.

The mind leads the body. I think there is truly no disagreemnt on that point here. Training also provokes the mind. It too must be attended or it will do mischief. O Sensei had his kotodama, mandalas, and other means to encompass the complex activity of his mind provoked by his training. Taking the time to work through his efforts there is worhtwhile activity, arcane though they may seem. And your training provokes that activity also, or else you wouldn't be here. You will find need to attend to it, and look for your own version of things like mandalas and other means to encompass the play of knowledge in your head. My training has. I do not work through these concepts out of choice, but necessity.

And truly, having some significant background in both systems of knowledge, neither is less complex than the other, they are just structured and oriented differently in how they comprehend how "knowing" and "doing" relate to one another. I find the two systems of thinking more complementary than exclusive of one another, but maybe that's just me.
Michael McCaslin wrote:
At this point, I feel safe saying the model is good enough for people to use to communicate their ideas about how to really "do" aikido the way the great masters did.
And that is where I respectfully leave the train, because that contention is, quite simply, not proven. The fact is that O Sensei knew a great deal about these concepts. He indisputably used them to demonstrate again and again that in budo it is utterly pointless to contend in strength. Having got their attention by these means and shown the reason why contention in strength (subtle or overt) was not the answer, he then offered to teach people aikido -- and notably -- did not teach these things for the purposes that they seeem to be offered here. I have pointed this out from his own history and statements. That set of facts cannot be got around. But why would he not teach them?

Someone out there is stronger. Very likely sooner than later, strong as anyone may become in these skills of kokyu/jin and relying on their application in the way discussed here, you will find yourself gravely weakened and still under threat. This revelation, spoken of in a deeply personal manner by my first teacher, very much informs all my practice and all my thinking on these points.

The manner in which these kokyu skills are being offered here emphasize things and lead in directions that are quite away from the aikido described by O Sensei, taught by him, from all accounts and in the tiny unfolding package of aikido first given to me. It still opens further, everytime I step on the mat or lend my attention to the thought of doing so.
Michael McCaslin wrote:
Techniques and strategy are easy to understand.
Would that it were so.
Michael McCaslin wrote:
What is hard is developing a body that has the fundamentals so deeply ingrained that the techniques create themselves and the strategy happens spontaneously. ...
.... kokyu is not a basic condition which assists in the performance of the technique. It *is* the technique. It's the root.
... Maybe you know that, in which case I'd appreciate it if you'd find a way to express your ideas in the prevailing model, so that I (and others) can wrap my head around it. No martial art advocates force against force (at an advanced level), and to say that evasion and leading are what makes aikido unique misses the point.
In whch case, I have failed to communicate indeed. Kokyu is a much broader tool of effective work (pneg-jin or qi gong for Mike) than its uses in aikido. Aikido also has a much broader field of action than kokyu skills. I have used aikido to more and greater effect in legal practice than in any physical confrontation.

When I do it properly, I do not evade, I do not lead. Aikido is fundamentally ukewaza. I receive what is offered, and in the spirit with which it is given. This is what my first teacher taught me, from my beginning and until quite lately now. How I receive it matters very much, but fundamentally I must receive it completely

What is advocated by some here in regard to kokyu is a facility, like flexibility developed in yoga. It is a facility in not being affected, in holding, dissipating and counterpoising offensive action against you. Daito ryu (and other arts) have developed a remarkable suite of tactics from the intensive development of that facililty. The threshold questions of rooting, grounding and neutralizing that have so absorbed discussion among us, are among the applications of this kokyu power. But hidden power is still power and power is that which does what those who possess it desire to do.

Aikido is not senjutsu -- tactics. It is, still less, mere facility in movement or intergration of body. It incoporates those things, but to say that you then have aikido is truly to have the trees for the forest. Aikido is heiho -- a strategic paradigm that commands all those other things toward a certain purpose and approach to the conflict.

Kokyu application in what I understand as aikido distingushes it from what is spoken of here. I do not exercise power, because I do not do that which I desire in the midst of conflict. I do not stop my enemy or render his action ineffectual. I do what the enemy very much desire desires, and I very much give his desire effect -- but with a twist.

It is a curious thing that most people are utterly unprepared to get just what they always thought they wanted. The conception of aikido my teachers have given of the "skills" and whole-body movement ensures that when my attacker seeks to take a part of me -- he in fact gets the whole of me -- and nothing less.
Michael McCaslin wrote:
If you agree to talk about these things in the terms others have, there can be a meaningful exchange of information. As a bonus, you might find your frustration level decreases.
Nah, when I get mad I get real quiet. It's the Irish.
"I come not to bring peace but a sword.... my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." The pair of paradoxical Gospel verses I am called to live up to.

Terms set assumptions before they communicate anything. Unspoken assumptions are dangerous, and ultimately it is more unfriendly to be surprised by them later than to challenge them up front.
Michael McCaslin wrote:
To not see pages of people talking past each other in the middle of productive threads.
And as you can see, there is some major questioning on those assumptions, or at least, dire need to ensure we clarify or make them expressly clear . That is the cause of much of the "talking past" and it is worthwhile, even so, if you take it in those terms.

The terminology used has suggested things (stopping, "not moving", rooting, grounding, resisting) that are departing the topic of the thread, but more so, moving away from, rather than reaching deeper into aikido, as I have been taught it, and as it has come to make sense to me physically, intuitively and in my own inchoate intellectual way.


Erick Mead
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