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Old 07-18-2006, 11:33 AM   #26
Basia Halliop
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Re: "Energy"

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Hey Neil,
Gaven DeBaeker talks about this whole area in The Gift of Fear. He describes the messages we take in from our subliminal mind that we routinely tend to ignore because we are now modern and rational and are embarrassed to pay to much attention to feeling. Except that it's there and it's a part of our survival mechanism which we ignore at our own peril.
Human beings are masters of body language. We take it for granted and don't realize how many thousands of tiny signals we're reading and sending until we meet someone who doesn't get it (autism or stroke or something). It's incredible how much non-verbal communication even a one-year old child understands, but maybe since small children can do it that fools us into thinking it's no big deal.

I have heard many many times that if you're genuinely concerned about personal safety, the best 'self defense' tools are more interpersonal than physical. Especially when you consider that extremely extremely few physical conflicts happen between total strangers with no history (at least a few seconds of history, usually much more). Knowing how to surround yourself with nice non-violent people who respect you, for example, or knowing how and when to use body language and posture effectively and to be assertive but neither foolhardy nor aggressive...

Some of these things are so hard to explain "precisely and literally" I'm not sure you don't often lose something in trying. Using 'vague' terms like "energy" sometimes gives people a real incling of what you mean, doesn't it?

E.g., I don't know what you mean by "absorb uke's energy." It's not a phrase I can remember being told, and it's unclear to me personally. But if you have a picture of what they're supposed to do in your mind, you say "absorb uke's energy", and your students do what you wanted them to do, then you've communicated your idea effectively to those students, haven't you? OTOH, if many of your students get more confused rather than less, then maybe you aren't communicating, in which case repeating it many times probably won't help .

Last edited by Basia Halliop : 07-18-2006 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 07-18-2006, 12:05 PM   #27
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Re: "Energy"

"Energy" is a real concept that plays a key role in aikido. I do believe word is used improperly by definition and I believe the use of the word has degenerated to a term too broadly applied to contain meaning without reference. For example, "Cool" by definition and "Cool" used in slang are two completely different concepts; if I were to describe my grandfather's christmas present as "cool," his response would be a disapproving glare and the phrase, "Cool is the breeze when you leave your drawers unbuttoned."

The literal concept of energy has a real purpose in aikido training. Want proof? Shoot a basket from a free throw line. You brain guesses the appropriate strength, speed, and elevation by which to throw a basketball into the air to fall through a hoop within a margin of about 3 inches. A good basketball player can "guess" the correct variables required to make a basket about 80% of the time. What would happen if the ball was heavier? or lighter? What if the player moved during the shot? What if the basket was mobile? Similarly, our brains make complex calculations to judge distance, timing, and strength required to perform a technique.
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Old 07-18-2006, 03:57 PM   #28
Nick Pagnucco
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Re: "Energy"

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
"Energy" is a real concept that plays a key role in aikido. I do believe word is used improperly by definition and I believe the use of the word has degenerated to a term too broadly applied to contain meaning without reference. For example, "Cool" by definition and "Cool" used in slang are two completely different concepts; if I were to describe my grandfather's christmas present as "cool," his response would be a disapproving glare and the phrase, "Cool is the breeze when you leave your drawers unbuttoned."
Personally, my own frustration with words like energy isn't about energy not being 'real', but rather they are over-used, often without context. I've heard energy used in vague ways where it could possibly mean inertia, intention, bio-mechanical force, or connection (which is also poorly defined, in and of itself). I agree that all of those things are important to aikido, though its the lack of rigorous terminology that sometimes gets me. As I said before, this thread to is less about whether something is real, and more about analytical categories & pedagogical techniques.
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Old 07-18-2006, 04:09 PM   #29
Upyu
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Re: "Energy"

Try doing the sumo squat about 300 times over continuously, no breaks for about 3 months daily, then maybe someone here will see what the hell most of the internal/aiki/tatsujin were talking about when talking about "energy. =D
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Old 07-18-2006, 07:05 PM   #30
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: "Energy"

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:

If a teacher exhorts his students to "extend positive energy:" what is s/he telling you to do? Raise your arms higher? Breathe more deeply? Focus on the infinite?

As an Aikido instructor: I am trying to achieve realizable goals.
I don't disagree with you at all. When there is something which can be described precisely, by all means do it. Your example of "move the hips" rather than a more explicit explanation is good.

The problem is that much of the interaction between two partners / opponents is on the psychological / spiritual level. There isn't much in the way of concrete terminology to describe what is going on; at least not in the sense that a description would allow someone who didn't train to understand it.

This is why the emphasis on personal transmission from teacher to student has always been so important. The teacher says "project your intention out to your partner". In itself that is a meaningless statement for most folks. To give the statement meaning for a student, I must demonstrate what I mean by that and let my student feel it. He then attempts to create the same feeling. After some repeated interaction the student should at least know what I mean when I use the phrase, even if he can't yet do it very well. In other words he knows what he is shooting for. After that, the phrase becomes a useful phrase that allows me to remind the student about the concept without having to go through the whole explanation process once again.

The way I was trained, no one used these terms. Saotome Sensei just did stuff. No one attempted to isolate the principles and explain them. For this you need to develop a terminology. In Japanese martial arts there is quite an extensive terminology for talking about this stuff that comes from sword. As Americans, Japanese terms are sometimes cumbersome so we substitute our own terminology. Sometimes this makes things easier for the student and other times it muddies the water. Often, we do best to leave the Japanese term alone and simply teach our students what the term means through direct experience.

I have been trying for some time to impress upon my students that there are no pushing or pulling movements in Aikido. In fact the arms don't generate power at all, they simply give direction to the energy generated by the hips. Anyway, I co-opted a phrase from the matrix to remind my students of this fact. If I walk by and say "There is no spoon", they all know precisely what I mean. They know that they are pushing or pulling on their partner, using their upper bodies. I don't have to spell the problem out each time, I just use that phrase and the know what I am talking about.

If you are talking about the less tangible aspects of the art, terms like "energy" can serve to describe something to the students but it is up to the teacher to make it clear what they mean by the term. If the students don't develop a clear picture of what is meant, at least being able to know when their teacher is doing it even if they can't yet do it themselves, then the term is pretty useless and only serves to mystify the process and make the teacher sound very "deep". But that is a misuse of such terminology.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 07-18-2006, 08:09 PM   #31
James Kelly
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Re: "Energy"

Quote:
Basia Halliop wrote:
Just an aside, but GOOD scientists don't say that . The joke was that the scientists in question assumed a bumblebee flew like an airplane, gliding along using lift and aerodynamics. It doesn't, of course, it flies like a helicopter, using the rapid movement of its wings to raise it up.
Off topic I know, but I'm sorry to say that helicopters do use lift and aerodynamics to fly. And so do bumblebees: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bumblebee
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Old 07-18-2006, 08:36 PM   #32
James Kelly
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Re: "Energy"

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
No we don't. I, for one, refuse to divert this thread into a discussion on the reality/unreality of ki. That's not what this is about...it's why I posted it in the Language section.

If others want to try to hijack the thread into that 50-page debate, that's their business. But, that is not the point of this thread.
Ok -- keeping this thread on language:

I'm the first to agree that the word energy is overused, but from your initial post, you seem to be equating the physical meanings of the word with the literal meanings. This is incorrect.

from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/energy:

1. The capacity for work or vigorous activity; vigor; power. See Synonyms at strength.
2.
--1. Exertion of vigor or power: a project requiring a great deal of time and energy.
--2. Vitality and intensity of expression: a speech delivered with energy and emotion.
3.
--1. Usable heat or power: Each year Americans consume a high percentage of the world's energy.
--2. A source of usable power, such as petroleum or coal.
4. Physics. The capacity of a physical system to do work.

Look at 2.2. -- 'Vitality and intensity of expression' is a literal meaning of the word energy. It is not a figure of speech or a metaphor. It's what the word means. It may not me measurable, as in definition 4, but it is no less valid. No less literal.

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
Lanaguage is supposed to define, not blur. An overused word means nothing, and conveys less.
Yes, overusing a word dilutes its meaning (though to say that 'energy' has no meaning strikes me as not true), but language is NOT supposed to define. It's supposed to communicate what the speaker wants. If a speaker wants to blur an issue (for example to make you think about it on your own a bit more) then by all means, he should make vague word choices.

I'm not saying that this is what's going on most times in the dojo when people use the word energy. I agree that there's a certain amount of linguistic laziness at play. But imho, when it comes to aikido, there's very little you can say about it that will help or hinder your practice. In my experience, the language of aikido is secondary to the physical practice. Terry Dobson used to say (paraphrasing) 'I can talk at you all day, but what's most important is that I touch you. That you feel what I'm doing and take it home with you.' Or something like that. It's hard to remember everything he said. He talked a lot...

Last edited by James Kelly : 07-18-2006 at 08:38 PM.
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Old 07-18-2006, 09:01 PM   #33
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Re: "Energy"

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
If a teacher exhorts his students to "extend positive energy:" what is s/he telling you to do? Raise your arms higher? Breathe more deeply? Focus on the infinite?
Without being glib,
Extend positive energy= confidence, smiling, laughter, humor.
Extend negative energy= fear, frowning, anger, too serious.

To do techniques properly you need to relax your body, to relax your body you need to relax your mind, extending positive energy ( confidence, smiling, laughter, humor) relaxes your mind.

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events not of words. Trust movement. --Alfred Adler
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Old 07-18-2006, 09:48 PM   #34
Neil Mick
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Re: "Energy"

Wow! The responses were awesome! Enough material to chew on for a week!

I'll try to answer each in turn, but I got to sleep at 4:30AM last night (insomnia), so it may take a bit...

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Hello Neil,

I think you need something a bit more more substantial than Lakoff. Frames are very important in negotiation theory, as in Roy Lewicki Negotiation 5th edition. Try also: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/research/mmet...es_primer.html - 17k -

Best wishes,
Thanks! Great stuff!

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
Any language used that helps the body move more effectively in aikido is well, helpfull I'll try to use any weird and wonderfull mental image I can to help people internalise the concept that is being practiced.
True enough, Mark. I often use the metaphor of a "ship," with an "anchor" (the hand placed near the head), and a "rudder" (for the shoulder-arm used to roll) to help students understand the mechanics of rolling.

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
It's a very interesting and wide enquiry Neil, one that I'm sure you are aware has massive political ramifications. Note most of the great historical leaders tend to use 'big chunk' artfully vauge generalisations, which get large numbers of people nodding in agreement without really understanding exactly what is being meant by what is being said.

regards,

Mark
Yes, the Republican's are masters of the frame. George Lakoff talks about Bush's intended use of frames when he talks about the "war on terror," "gay marriage," etc.

Quote:
Basia Halliop wrote:
But then other times, in many of the quotes you guys are giving it's obviously not meant in this literal classical physics sense. But if you find using a metaphor helps you do it better, is that bad...?
No, not at all. I just get nonplussed when a teacher uses a metaphorical term, literally. For instance, "I sensed the attacker's negative energy" makes my eyes involuntarily go , because I have yet to encounter someone who can show me that they REALLY "sense" energy.

Metaphors, as I mentioned, are fine: but I draw the line when they are expressed as physical, literal manifestations.
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Old 07-18-2006, 09:49 PM   #35
Neil Mick
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Re: "Energy"

Quote:
Basia Halliop wrote:
But then other times, in many of the quotes you guys are giving it's obviously not meant in this literal classical physics sense. But if you find using a metaphor helps you do it better, is that bad...?
No, not at all. I just get nonplussed when a teacher uses a metaphorical term, literally. For instance, "I sensed the attacker's negative energy" makes my eyes involuntarily go , * because I have yet to encounter someone who can show me that they REALLY "sense" energy.

Metaphors, as I mentioned, are fine: but I draw the line when they are expressed as physical, literal manifestations.

*P.S.> OTOH, I try to keep an open mind, and reserve judgement when a shihan talks about energy in the midst of class. After all, what do I know?
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Old 07-18-2006, 09:52 PM   #36
Neil Mick
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Re: "Energy"

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
Do you believe ": it was all physics and perfectly explainable".
I keep an open mind. But, I do not believe people who say that they "sense" energies; or that I am "extending positive energy," except as a metaphorical demonstration. In other words, it's a useful teaching tool, but as an explanation of some mysterious ball of force, it falls flat.

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
If you believe ": it was all physics and perfectly explainable", then to teach them "you ARE absorbing energy from uke and transforming it into something else" is being dishonest with your students and detrimental to them.
Why, what a judgemental statement! If I were being cheeky, I'd say that that statement is filled with negative energy!

Quote:
Do you want to be surrounded by students that you taught your pet peeve to
I want my students to leave my classes with a slightly better understanding of Aikido. I tend to leave my pet peeves at the door (almost none of my students know my political beliefs, for instance: unless they read it, here).

Quote:
Mikel Hamer wrote:
Alright, alright, sorry, but you've gotta understand where I was coming from.
My motto is: if it works for you, great.
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Old 07-18-2006, 09:53 PM   #37
Neil Mick
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Re: "Energy"

Quote:
Trish Greene wrote:
Yes, energy is not literally leaping off the screen, but the experience that the person had while watching the movie of O'sensei gave him a feeling of energy leaping off the screen and that was the only word that the person could come up with to describe to you his experiences. Have patience with us figurative people.

Just my thoughts.
Sorry, but agree to disagree. Words are meant to define, not blur. What, precisely, does "watching the movie of O'sensei gave him a feeling of energy leaping off the screen" mean, exactly? That the viewers felt exhiliarated? Inspired? Overwhelmed?

And, this statement implies that O Sensei had some indirect involvement with the "energy transfer." With the deepest respect to the spirit of O Sensei, I have no evidence that his conscious/unconscious being is present, in any definable way, when we watch movies of him, or look at his picture.

We, as Aikidoists, are the physical manifestation of O Sensei's work. Once Aikido was expressed in one person; now it is blossomed to millions, and growing.

Is he still somehow around to see it? I dunno, but I look skeptically at those who claim that they know, that he is.
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Old 07-18-2006, 09:56 PM   #38
Neil Mick
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Re: "Energy"

Quote:
James Davis, Jr. wrote:
If my uke is moving toward me, and goes "smack" into my huge, huge belly, I've just absorbed his kinetic energy.

Scientists say that the bumblebee shouldn't be able to fly...

...but it does.

Just be happy that your students are able to get the technique right, regardless of the teacher's method. Do what works. I agree that ki can be explained with physics, but "energy" is easier for someone to visualize than mathematical equations when someone's about to whack 'em on their cabeza.
Very cheeky, James. And sure, I have no problems with the physicist's use of "energy." In fact, I use the term in this context all the time when I teach.

But, I am talking about the more vague, fuzzier usage of the term. Different animal.
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Old 07-18-2006, 10:21 PM   #39
Neil Mick
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Re: "Energy"

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Hey Neil,
I am anything but a New Age guy but I use the term all the time.
We use "energy" largely to describe the intuitive aspect of of the human interaction. There are all sorts of areas in which we sense what are probably a whole host of complex signals, many of which we couldn't concsiously describe. "Energy" is an easy way to talk about it.
George,

I'm going to tread carefully, here: because I don't want to come off as critical of your usage of the term. To do so would be, IMO, disrespectful.

But, IMO, your quote above is the source of the problem, for me. "Energy" IS an easy way to talk about the host of complex signals going on. It fuzzes the dynamics of the interaction.

Perhaps I am being too nitpicky, but shouldn't we strive, as Aikido instructors, to clarify, rather than obscure?

Quote:
Gaven DeBaeker talks about this whole area in The Gift of Fear. He describes the messages we take in from our subliminal mind that we routinely tend to ignore because we are now modern and rational and are embarrassed to pay to much attention to feeling. Except that it's there and it's a part of our survival mechanism which we ignore at our own peril.
Thanks for the reference. I'm going to have my reading list expanded into 2008 (right after I finish plowing through Greg Palast's "Armed Madhouse").

Quote:
If you and I stood across from one another with swords, the most important elements of the fight would take place before I ever moved to cut you. I would dominate you with my spirit before anything else happened. By the time I attacked, you would not be able to effectively counter the attack. That's all done on the "energetic" level. You may not be able to measure it on some machine but it's there.
Is it? Or, are you relying on a series of subtle signals and cues--partly instinctive, partly societal--to "psyche me out...?"

You see, even my own vocabulary fails me!

Quote:
And you can't do Aikido at a really high level without understanding it. The trick is to make your students aware of it and train it.
I suppose that what I am searching for is a way to more clearly verbalize this interaction.

Quote:
"Energy" is essentially the way O-Sensei looked at everything he did. Kototama is the study of the power of sound. It describes the various building blocks of the Universe in terms of vibration. All of the input you get from your sensory system is in terms of energy. You take in light through the eyes, sound through the ears, etc. It is a fact that the quality of what you take in effects your mindset. That's "energetic".
I was afraid that you were going to get all Kotodama, on me.

I have no answer, for that. From my limited understanding of Kotodama, there IS something going on. But, I don't want to get too inveigled in the discussion of the power of sound, etc, as I am not referring to this aspect, in this thread.

Does ki exist/not exist? I dunno: this is not my concern, here. What I am considering is the usage of the term, and how it sometimes (note...sometimes) gets "fuzzied" up, in vagueries.

I live in probably the fuzziest city on the planet. My partner's best friend slings the term around like hash-browns in a greasy spoon. "Good energy" this; "bad energy" that, ad nauseum.

But, when I ask her for clarification: I get a lot of dogmatic, New Age mishmash. And, I have sometimes heard the same nonsense spouted within an Aikido class, in my travels.

Now, to be fair: my dojo just hosted Clint George Sensei at the Summer Retreat, and he talked about "taking uke's energy." In one class, he had us punch, and then he (as nage) drew out uke, so that the power of his strike dropped dramatically.

And then, he entered with a powerful counterstrike. It was quite dramatic.

I suppose I'm trying to say that I have no answers. Just, there are some moments when the usage of the term is a vague, fuzzy obscurement (and I am not talking about Clint George Sensei, here).

Quote:
Our art is about Mind Body Spirit unification. Actually, our art is really about realizing that the unification is a fact already. In reality one can't separate the Mind-Body-Spirit aspects of ourselves. Our fundamental mistake is to act as if we could. Trying to remove the concept of "energy" (or whatever substitute term you wish to use) from the art would reduce the art to mere mechanics. That would take all the Aiki out of the Aikido.

I understand the reaction against the New Age types who talk about "energy" all the time and don't understand it at all in it's Aikido context. But that's just bad Budo, not a reason to ignore elements that are there in all human interactions and which are crucial to understand and utilize in the martial interaction.
Yes, you may have provided the answer I'm seeking, here.

Quote:
Just as an aside, it's funny that all of the things which are most important to human beings are not material, measurable concepts: Love, honor, friendship, fulfillment, etc can't be touched or measured but they are some of the strongest motivating factors in human existence.
But...

the more often a word is used, IMO, the more vague the meaning gets. "Love" is an excellent example. Once upon a time, the Greeks had 3 distinct meanings for it. Simple, clear, direct.

Now, it's used in so many contexts, that people often get confused over the meaning, the connotations, and the contexts.

"Marriage" is another example, but I acknowledge that the Right misuses the contexts for their own narrow agenda's.
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Old 07-18-2006, 10:25 PM   #40
Neil Mick
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Re: "Energy"

Quote:
Nicholas Pagnucco wrote:
The more I read threads like this, the more I want to re-read Rorty's Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature ....
Ah! Another book to add to the list!

Quote:
For me, this thread is about 2 things. How good a vocabulary one has to describe phenomenon (an analytical issue), and how effective one is at using that vocabular for instruction (a pedagogical issue).
Yes, exactly.

Quote:
People often use a platitude to short circuit giving a good explanation. "extend ki," and "Its just physics," and "its just human anatomy" are by themselves not descriptive, but rather generic catchwords that are almost as bad as "its smurf". It pretends to be an explanation, but it leaves the student to guess the 'real' meaning based on the context (including watching/feeling how the instructor does things).

Now, sometimes, context is enough to make a meaning clear, so its always good to have a few terms with flexible meanings (like energy)... but if one only has those, and no specific terms for fundamental basics, then there's gonna be a problem.
Couldn't have said it better, myself.
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Old 07-18-2006, 10:37 PM   #41
Neil Mick
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Re: "Energy"

Quote:
Basia Halliop wrote:
Human beings are masters of body language. We take it for granted and don't realize how many thousands of tiny signals we're reading and sending until we meet someone who doesn't get it (autism or stroke or something). It's incredible how much non-verbal communication even a one-year old child understands, but maybe since small children can do it that fools us into thinking it's no big deal.
Human beings are the masters of spoken language, perhaps...IMO, it is our greatest single invention. Animals are just as good as humans at reading body-language, if not better.

My cat likes and I enjoy a little game of "pounce the scratchy-noise," when I scratch near my chair. But, before she pounces, she takes pains to make eye-contact, just to gauge my reaction. I've tried holding a book before my face to see if she'll pounce without eye-contact, and it is comical to watch her go into contortions, to peer around the book.

Quote:
I have heard many many times that if you're genuinely concerned about personal safety, the best 'self defense' tools are more interpersonal than physical. Especially when you consider that extremely extremely few physical conflicts happen between total strangers with no history (at least a few seconds of history, usually much more). Knowing how to surround yourself with nice non-violent people who respect you, for example, or knowing how and when to use body language and posture effectively and to be assertive but neither foolhardy nor aggressive...

Some of these things are so hard to explain "precisely and literally" I'm not sure you don't often lose something in trying. Using 'vague' terms like "energy" sometimes gives people a real incling of what you mean, doesn't it?
Yes, sometimes it does. But, there's a linguistic theorem (law? statement?) that states that language is thought. How you express something is directly correlated to how you think, and conceptualize the world around you. Eskimo's, for instance, have scores of terms for "snow." Conversely, if you only have, say, only a few terms for all 4-legged animals: it reveals the lack of differentiation between them, in your thinking.
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Old 07-18-2006, 10:54 PM   #42
Neil Mick
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Re: "Energy"

OK, the lack of sleep is catching up...so one more, for now.

Quote:
James Kelly wrote:
Ok -- keeping this thread on language:

--2. Vitality and intensity of expression: a speech delivered with energy and emotion.

Look at 2.2. -- 'Vitality and intensity of expression' is a literal meaning of the word energy. It is not a figure of speech or a metaphor. It's what the word means. It may not me measurable, as in definition 4, but it is no less valid. No less literal.
OK, let's take my example of the dizzy-headed co-worker complaining about the "bad energy" hovering about the front desk.

Where does this fit in definition 2.2?

Or, what if someone says that they respond well to the energy put out by Sensei So-and-So? What, exactly, does this mean?

It means nothing. It's empty words pasted onto a sentence to give emphsis.

When I was in college, I had an art teacher once describe most works with the words, "quite nice." What, exactly did that mean?? Really, in the end, I surmised that it meant "inoffensive." I sat in the back of his classes and chortled whenever he used that term (and he used it, almost all the time). Somewhat later, I was told that he came to a drawing (when I wasn't there) and he almost tripped out "quite nice" in response to a drawing. He stumbled, and strove to critique the work with some other term.

"Nice," for him; served the same purpose, as "energy" does, for some Aikido instructors...and some New Ager's.

Quote:
but language is NOT supposed to define. It's supposed to communicate what the speaker wants.
Language is not supposed to define: but words are.

Quote:
If a speaker wants to blur an issue (for example to make you think about it on your own a bit more) then by all means, he should make vague word choices.
But that is not the example that I am talking about. A teacher is supposed to make clear, not muddy. If someone asks me how I am feeling, and I say, "Yucky:" OK, that's fine. I am expressing a generic state of un-wellness.

But, if I am talking to a doctor/acupuncturist/etc, you can bet that they are going to ask for clarification (ESPECIALLY the acupuncturist!) "Yucky" just won't cut it!

Quote:
But imho, when it comes to aikido, there's very little you can say about it that will help or hinder your practice. In my experience, the language of aikido is secondary to the physical practice.
Of course. But, the relevance of language over practice is not the issue.
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Old 07-18-2006, 11:33 PM   #43
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: "Energy"

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
Is it? Or, are you relying on a series of subtle signals and cues--partly instinctive, partly societal--to "psyche me out...?"
Sure. I am doing just that! But we have to develop our own terminology to describe what we are doing if we are to teach it (rather than the old way of simply showing it and expecting the student to "steal" it.

The very term you used "psyche me out" is just such an example. Someone, in fairly recent times, came up with that term to describe something fairly complex. Now, most people would know what you were describing if you used that term. So if you were involved in teaching someone how to "psyche someone out" you could use that term rather than having to describe all of the complex components that are the result and simply focus on the elements of how to do it. That would almost certainly involve the need to develop further unique terminology to describe what you were doing.

But, assuming that you were for real as a teacher, you would be able to show by demonstration what you meant when you used those terms nad over time your students would begin to understand the "meaning" of the terms in the way that you had taught them.

I had the experience of looking at a couple of guys who had come in to the store where I worked and having the strongest realization that these two were REALLY bad people. Like the kind of guys who would waste you and not consider it to be a noteworthy event in their lives. I couldn't tell you why I knew but I absolutely knew. That was "energy", probably the opposite of what those people meant when they commeneted on O-Sensei's "energy".

I just bought a sword from my friend David Goldberg Sensei who is a fantastic sword maker as well as an Aikido teacher. I had not intended to buy the one I did. I was at Summer Camp and David had a display of wares for sale. I tired several of the swords and then picked this one up. I drew it and I knew that I had to have it. It felt alive. There was a tangible difference between that sword and the other swords he had there. I watched all week as people looked at his swords. Over and over again they came to pick that one up. Saotome Sensei kept coming back and holding it, day after day. Now I couldn't tell you what it was that made it special. Only once before have I felt a blade that was "alive" like that way. It was tangible and other people reacted to it, often without quite knowing they were. That is "energy" of some sort...

I once had a student walk in to the dojo for class. I was on the other side of the dojo. I took one look at her and I knew something was wrong. It was tangible at a distance yet I couldn't begin to tell you how I knew.

We experience these things all the time in our lives. The martial arts have specific manifestations that we study. We need terms to describe what we are talking about in order to properly direct our training but we have to actually tarin in order to understand the meaning of the terms. They will mean something to the average person and something totally different for the person who has trained extensively. Unlike scientific terms which should have the same meaning to everyone, the terms that describe the "energetics" of the martial interaction will change in their meaining for each individual as his experience changes.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 07-19-2006, 06:46 AM   #44
Basia Halliop
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Re: "Energy"

Quote:
James Kelly wrote:
Off topic I know, but I'm sorry to say that helicopters do use lift and aerodynamics to fly. And so do bumblebees: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bumblebee
They don't use it to glide like airplanes, which was my point. I have heard different versions of what the original false assumption was; maybe this one is more accurate (it sounds more likely, since I always thought it was kind of dumb that someone would assume a bee glided like an airplane).

All I meant to point out was that they fly differently than was assumed, and that the proof was wrong because the basic assumption or model used to describe how they fly was wrong, rather than because bumblebees use some kind of magic force or something. Surely you knew what I was getting at?
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Old 07-19-2006, 10:42 AM   #45
creinig
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Re: "Energy"

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
Sorry, but agree to disagree. Words are meant to define, not blur. What, precisely, does "watching the movie of O'sensei gave him a feeling of energy leaping off the screen" mean, exactly? That the viewers felt exhiliarated? Inspired? Overwhelmed?
I doubt that person could have given a more precise description in a 2-page essay. That's why we use metaphors, figures of speech etc -- because we want to express some feeling, impression or so but don't have clear words for it. And often (between people with shared culture, experiences etc) such a metaphor can express that better than a huge thesis using only "exact" terminology.

Which isn't exact by the way. Natural language is by its nature quite fuzzy. That's why we invented mathematics, programming language and the like.
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Old 07-19-2006, 10:54 AM   #46
Mike Sigman
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Re: "Energy"

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
[[snipsky]] The way I was trained, no one used these terms. Saotome Sensei just did stuff. No one attempted to isolate the principles and explain them. For this you need to develop a terminology. In Japanese martial arts there is quite an extensive terminology for talking about this stuff that comes from sword. As Americans, Japanese terms are sometimes cumbersome so we substitute our own terminology. Sometimes this makes things easier for the student and other times it muddies the water. Often, we do best to leave the Japanese term alone and simply teach our students what the term means through direct experience.

I have been trying for some time to impress upon my students that there are no pushing or pulling movements in Aikido. In fact the arms don't generate power at all, they simply give direction to the energy generated by the hips. Anyway, I co-opted a phrase from the matrix to remind my students of this fact. If I walk by and say "There is no spoon", they all know precisely what I mean. They know that they are pushing or pulling on their partner, using their upper bodies. I don't have to spell the problem out each time, I just use that phrase and the know what I am talking about.
I tend to go both ways on this. I use a lot of subjectively descriptive terms when I'm showing something... it tends to be an artform to try and convey in the quickest way the "foot-in-the-door" idea that will get someone into an area of understanding. I think that's the natural learning method of the human animal. However, some people, once they "get it", can go much further with an in-depth analysis that opens the doors further to future usages, complexities, relationships, etc.

For instance, I think the comment about the hips is a helpful start indeed, but there are potential expansions of this idea that get quite complex, so a helpful start would be, IMO, a careful analysis of exactly what is involved in powering things with hip movement. It's this sort of thinking and approach that ultimately led to the whole "move from the hara", "acupuncture meridians", "kokyu power", and so on.

Since both approaches have their plusses, it gets tricky if too-unrealistic terms are used in the subjective entre's to the teaching/showing and because of that, I tend to avoid words like "energy". Besides, many of the people I work with in martial arts tend to be in the physical sciences and they tend to take words literally, even when a subjective presentation is being made.

I liked your post, George.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 07-19-2006, 03:12 PM   #47
markwalsh
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Re: "Energy"



Ha-ha - Energy! I used to hate that word when I was in California!



I see it as being used to describe a broad number of very real phenomenon, but that it's often employed very loosely by those without vigorous training, or depth of understanding. That's what irks me more than the word itself. I personally try not to use it as there are usually clearer alternative. I think like most people who do aikido I feel and employ "energy." though

Re framing. I've been taught that the negative isn't "heard" by the unconscious,so positive action language is more effective. A practical example: When teaching archery classes I learnt that if I gave the instruction "Do not cross the safety line" around twice as many children would cross the line than if I said, "Stay behind the line."

Re "body language" and communication. I'm of the opinion that the majority of communication that happens between people is unconscious and expressed bodily. This communication is very quick and normally accurate (as discussed in the Gift of Fear). By learning to recognize what your body is doing one can actively develop this skill. Both Wendy Palmer and Richard Strozzi Heckler teach aspects of this. As someone who is constantly meeting new people, often in potentially dangerous situations I really value the little bits I've learnt from them.

Lastly: I'd like to celebrate the fact that there is a thread on AikiWeb titled "Energy" that is being conducted in an aiki, nonflamtastci kinda way. Hope I haven't jinxed it :-)

Anyway - gotta go hug a tree. Later.
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Old 07-20-2006, 12:28 AM   #48
Mike Hamer
 
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Re: "Energy"

I love you all

To speak ill of anything is against the nature of Aikido
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Old 07-20-2006, 06:33 AM   #49
dps
 
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Re: "Energy"

Quote:
Mark Walsh wrote:
Anyway - gotta go hug a tree. Later.
Watch out for sap.

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events not of words. Trust movement. --Alfred Adler
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