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Old 11-19-2006, 10:51 PM   #117
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,619
Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Gernot Hassenpflug wrote:
Eric, regarding "natural", I cannot find any reason why you would call learning and adaptation any more "natural" than walking.
I meant to express my view that one is not more natural or unnatural than the other. Call it what you will, human beings learn walking without being affirmatively taught how (other than by example). The only "natural" thing from one point of view is the capacity to observe and learn -- the rest is an artifact of that process.
Gernot Hassenpflug wrote:
As far as I can gather, this kind of "natural" is a fluke, something that comes to certain people without their knowing the process of having come to this point.
Which I suppose underlines my point -- the thing has a reality quite indepedent of the process we may select to teach it. More than one proces can encode and decode knowledge of that thing.
Gernot Hassenpflug wrote:
To all other people (and to them if they try to teach it) there needs to follow a step-by-step process of training and improvement (self-realization). This applies equally to walking (whose differences in the minute useage of the body differ widely between individuals) as to learning the use of the mind for reasoning. IMHO.
What you have described is the difference between pre-conscious or unconscious learning and adaptation and a conscious programmattic form of it. My point, and I take it to be David's as well, and with no small amount of authority, O-Sensei's too, is that under the right conditions human beings learn because they have an innate nature to do it. Takemusu aiki is possible because we all have it in us to do it "naturally."

A seed grows into a tree, naturally; that does not negate the importance of certain absolute preconditions at every stage of that that natural process which set limits on its commencing, continuing and completing its course. These are limits on what it means to be a tree, not limits on how to go about understanding what a tree is.

Programmatic forms of teaching that depart from these conditions usually get in the way of the learning, because they intentionally obscure certain real connections that exist, all in the service of conscious "simplification." I have discussed this with several others in the thread on systematic teaching and its proper role and benefits.

I have no brief against that form of teaching, although I do not use it. It works for many; it does not work for all. so long as it is addressed ot the preconditions of what aikido is, as opposed to how we understand what that is. Unavoidably, the latter tends to sever the teaching, in part, from the reality that it is there to try and represent. It sets an intentional limit on the ability of the far-ranging learning faculty of the mind to make a real connection, because that connection has been disallowed at that stage of the programmattic training.

It is a tenet of natural learning that the mind learns faster without many boundaries. It also learns in a manner that is not linear, and thus comes in for criticism from a linear perspective that without a program to follow, it is not getting to the "important" learning soon enough, or not at all, yet.

When you have a limited set of goals in learning, unstructured learning is inefficient. When your goals are not limited because you seek to teach an art with universal aspects of its applicaiton, then unstructured learning is in fact more efficient, because many more connections are formed by the inituitive exploration of the space of that knowledge without concrete barriers against making such connections as they come up. It will offend any preconceived notion about the particular path that learning is "supposed" to take.

The typical admonition along these lines in most dojos I have been in is simply this: "Keep training."


Erick Mead
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