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Old 06-04-2007, 10:31 AM   #97
Erick Mead
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Re: Parsing ai ki do

Dan Harden wrote: View Post
Ellis Amdur wrote:
... that one achieves such organization within oneself that one can pervasively influence the other in spite of themselves, so that they are "templated" to what your will. Best
Hence the phrase Take Musu Aiki in which the martial technique arises spontaneously from the state of aiki. Or, said another way, the state of aiki gives birth to martial technique. [/i][/b] . The physical state of aiki is resolved in/yo ho- unified ki.

Ueshiba's Aiki was unchanged from all his years in Daito ryu. They remained aiki-no-jutsu. Precisely Daito ryu Aiki.

There is no "aiki as a set of principles and techniques." Those are martial arts. Principles and techniques....are not aiki. The difference between the two are in the trained body.
The physical and spiritual aspects of aiki are one. They are involved in unifying in/yo in yourself. And THAT is where he saw- as you said- "an accord with the divine will."
Unified Ki is unifying Ki.
In/yo (Yin yang) is the nature of the world. Takemusu aiki will only come from in/yo ho trained and attained in oneself, by oneself, in solo training.
A few points. Dan's contention is that few ( if anyone) practice (or seek after) Ueshiba's aiki. I think he is wrong, but let's leave that.

The Chinese proverb says that the first step to learning anything is to call it by its proper name. That is what this "parsing aikido" thread is exploring. What we are actually debating in discussing the "name" of anything is not the thing aimed at but the tutoring method.

Put this in Taoist terms to make the pedagogical point. The Nameless way begets the One, One begets Two, Two begets Three -- and Three begets the Ten Thousand Things. Dan is trying to teach people to learn the One -- directly. An awful big bite for many, many people. It is like the same terms of the Rinzai/Soto debate in different dress. Surely, a lot of "sleepy sitting" is just as useless as "mindless intellectualism" in paradox-wrestling, but the fault lies not in the method -- but the sincerity in doing either one of them

Problem is, most people are stuck on the phenomenal perception of events -- the Ten Thousand things. Dan criticizes the teaching of many, many techniques as a distraction from the direct route up the face of the cliff, going -- as he says -- the "wrong way."

His problem is in assuming that all people start the problem from the same position or with the same relative impediments to learning. That simply is not the case. He mistakes the purpose of techniques as embodiments (phenomena) as being about themselves. In fact, they are ultimately to be discarded, but are not useless per se, even if meant to be superseded along with the phenomenal perspective they represent.

The caterpillar does not become the butterfly by act of will but by cooperation in the process of its nature. Aiki, in other words. This includes cooperating with phenomenal processes even as we transform them into something else. Some are by nature more attuned to Oneness, and others are more attuned to the changes of the phenomenal world. Neither will progress except in accord with their nature. Neither is fundamentally distinct

The purpose of the techniques is not to multiply the forms of phenomena. It actually represents a tremendous simplification of the existing multiplied, uncounted, ineffective variations of habitual movements of people as they move about their lives. The waza method also rigorizes them (misogi). That makes the forms themselves more defined. (and therefore more fragile and boundaries more easily broken).

Misogi of practice also makes the mind more fluid. (Arbitrarily) defined forms create cracks in the bucket of the teaching floating in the stream of aiki. When the cracks are perceived -- the mind and training can pass beyond the vessel of the teaching into the wider stream. If thrown headfirst at the beginning most untrained people would likely perceive this as drowning -- with the equally predictable result of froth and flailing, or conversely, resigned sinking. (I've taught swimming, and seen both.)

Aikido as it is practiced (indeed all budo regimens) seem at first to have many, many (too many) techniques. But those represent the first step of reducing the number of perceived movements (phenomena) and the degrees of distinction between them. It is an approachable path from the phenomenal perspective, whereas Dan's cliff is forbidding. I know the mountain is a hoary old metaphor, but it is still repeated many thousands of years later -- because it is true and useful.

At a certain point the usefulness of distinguishing between the different modes of kotegaeshi, shihonage, iriminage or tenchinage merge into one concept of action. The trees thin out a certain elevation and the peak only intermittently seen up to that point -- comes into constant view. At another point -- that concept of action merges with one or two others. And eventually you arrive at your desired Singularity. Difference is the path -- Dan's traverse up the cliff face, or the switchback trail up the back of the ridge. Are their more places to become lost or lose sight of the singular goal on the less steep grade? Surely. Are those people necessarily lost merely because they are on it? Hardly. But when they stumble, the point of recovery is good deal closer or, at least, a great deal less precarious.

Point being, Ueshiba's aiki points even beyond that One ans singular poiont -- to the Numberless, the Nameless. Takemusu Aiki. The road from Ten Thousand to Three, and then Two and then One -- and then -- Not Then... Dan is correct that the One is a thing to be attained ( fr. L. attingere -- "to touch, to arrive at,"). Dan is wrong that it is to be attained in only one way - or that one way is necessarily better than another when it is not in accord with one's nature. Dan is wrong if he means that the One is a thing to be grasped, possessed, or a place in which to dwell. "I went to the rock to hide my face / But the rock cried out / No hiding place/ There's no hiding place / Down here." One must move on -- even from the One.

The Unnumbered Takemusu Aiki and the Ten Thousand techniques are not apart from one another -- but they are not the same, either. The mountain is again the mountain, the river again the river. But at a point it was both and This and Other, but neither of them. And then we moved on. This is the lesson of both Western Scripture and Fudo. At some point we all come down from the mountain. Even Moses came down from the mountain, and still was left to deal with the mess "down here" from which there is "no hiding."

That was and is Ueshiba's Aiki -- from the perspective of this particular One.


Erick Mead
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