The Descent of Aiki
(I really consider this post to be about Aikido, but put it over here because it's about all that IS/IP/Aiki history nonsense.)
So I've been reflecting on the latest round of the Dan/Mike wars--thank you very much guys, take five, get yourselves some water--and thinking about what all this might imply about the transmission of the art, in particular of internal skills.
My understanding of Mike's position--taking out the value judgements--is that what Dan has a is mix of techniques and concepts shaken up in a bag, lacking certain fundamental principles that are widespread and well understood in CMAs.
Let's assume the basic theory laid out in HIPS, that Chinese internal methods came over to Japan and got assimilated and reworked in Takeda's Daito-Ryu. They become part of the underpinnings of that system, along with material from other sources and from Takeda's own genius. Some of the Chinese material might be downplayed or omitted altogether; other material would be transformed through synthesis with the other material. The result is a system that produces very impressive results in the people who train in it.
The question is: Suppose we now take the new system and show it to the original Chinese masters. Wouldn't they respond very much the way Mike did? There would be elements which were clearly the same, or at least congruent; there would be weird new stuff no one had seen before; and there'd be stuff that the CMA folks thought was basic that might be omitted.
And the next question: Can we interpret more about Takeda's (or his teachers') unique contribution by looking at the differences? Mike never seems to have heard of spiraling or elbow power as the IP/Aiki people use those terms. Does that suggest that this is a unique Japanese contribution? Dan has argued, by contrast, that some Chinese styles actually do incorporate spiralling in the sense that he understands it. Is this the source for its appearance in Japan, or was there parallel development?
Conversely, Mike has been laying out principles he considers basic to any kind of internal strength in CMA's. If they're so very basic they must have been introduced to Japan as part of the package. If they're not showing up in later Japanese arts, the Japanese must have made a deliberate decision to exclude them.
Why? Because the Japanese didn't understand them? --Unlikely, given the caliber of the Japanese in question. Because the Japanese didn't value them? --Why not? Are there alternative concepts that work better? That are more practical for martial applications? Or are they showing up, just with different vocabularies and visualizations?
Gentlemen: Start your engines.