Welcome to AikiWeb Aikido Information
AikiWeb: The Source for Aikido Information
AikiWeb's principal purpose is to serve the Internet community as a repository and dissemination point for aikido information.

Sections
home
aikido articles
columns

Discussions
forums
aikiblogs

Databases
dojo search
seminars
image gallery
supplies
links directory

Reviews
book reviews
video reviews
dvd reviews
equip. reviews

News
submit
archive

Miscellaneous
newsletter
rss feeds
polls
about

Follow us on



Home > AikiWeb Aikido Forums
Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > Training

Hello and thank you for visiting AikiWeb, the world's most active online Aikido community! This site is home to over 22,000 aikido practitioners from around the world and covers a wide range of aikido topics including techniques, philosophy, history, humor, beginner issues, the marketplace, and more.

If you wish to join in the discussions or use the other advanced features available, you will need to register first. Registration is absolutely free and takes only a few minutes to complete so sign up today!

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 03-14-2007, 02:19 PM   #101
dps
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 2,155
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
and that has to come from within aikido.
Mark
Outside influences are necessary for changes to be made, but the changes come from within.

David
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-14-2007, 03:57 PM   #102
Pete Rihaczek
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 61
United_States
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Aikido is about opening up ones heart through practice. It involves understanding and embracing a set of values which often get demeaned by others because they make the individual look weak. O-Sensei used his martial skills to show people that he wasn't weak in order to have credibility when he talked about his spiritual ideas. Kokyu power, as both Dan and Mike have repeatedly stated is about proper technique. It is teachable and trainable. It should be part of good Aikido; no question there. But it's just technique! It isn't the goal, it's a byproduct of proper pursuit of the art.

This is why bringing every discussion back to these issues is futile. There are many more factors at work in Aikido aside from these. O-Sensei knew people, he knew that the way to get someone's attention was to show them the power. But just look at what he did once he got them enrolled, what he emphasized every time he was on the mat with his students. This constantly gets ignored by folks who just want to focus on the martial application side. This misses O-Sensei's whole point and was exactly why he said that "no one was doing his Aikido."
Hi George,

I think it's probably fair to say no one knows exactly what he meant; maybe he just didn't see Ki being used, or maybe things were too competitive. In the same way that we shouldn't assume we know what he meant, it may not be fair to make similar assumptions about the people talking about internal skills. I fully embrace the wisdom of non-resistance, of not trying to compete. Of course there should be something martial behind it, or else it's just philosophy and not warrior-philosophy. According to Tohei, one blow in Aikido is lethal enough to kill. Leaving aside that you don't see that kind of ability much, the way of the peaceful warrior carries the presumption that said warrior can actually do something serious if he has to. Otherwise just look to Ghandi, not Ueshiba. The idea that there should be something serious there often leads to people doing aggressive Aikido, or incorporating other arts to try to make it more "street ready", which I agree can be a mistake. I think the internal skills are needed, but that doesn't mean I think it changes the goal or philosophy of Aikido.

It's a fine line to walk, and part of the issue is that Ueshiba *was* a tough guy before he developed Aikido. He basically went around to every master he could find to train with, until he was the toughest man around. Then he started to question what it was all good for. Eventually his powers would fade with age, he would no longer be the baddest around, so what had he gained, what does it all mean? It's something that happens with age, we in the West call it a midlife crisis. As you get older you tend to look for the deeper meaning and purpose of what you do in life, and he had a revelation on the deep meaning of martial art. So here was a highly skilled, highly capable fighter, turning his mind in the direction of an encompassing spiritual and philosophical purpose for his skills.

Importantly, in his belief system, the Ki skills were actually a manifestation of Ki. The unbendable arm isn't just a mind-intent visualization that encourages proper body usage, it is an example of letting Ki flow. Point being, the only way you could dig him up, magically reanimate his corpse, have him look at what you do and then give your practice the thumbs up is if you 1) are on the same page philosophically as to the purpose of Aikido, 2) have the technical syllabus down, 3) have the Ki skills down (including sensing opponents' intention, not just internal body skill), and 4) believe that the things in (3) are manifestations of the Ki of the universe.

People of different backgrounds and mentalities fall variously into these areas. Let's try looking at a few common types for fun:

The Hippie New Ager Looking-for-the-Nearest-Cult-Leader-to-Follow

- Can be on board with (1) and (4) within minutes of his first lesson, will spend his life on (2) and believe he has (3) without ever really scratching the real surface of (3).

The Clueless Martial Newbie

- Likes the sound of (1), but thinks of (4) as an asian cultural thing. If (4) is taken seriously, will become Hippie New Ager. Will work on (2), probably never hear of (3) in a physically meaningful way, and will hopefully never have to actually use Aikido for real since it probably won't work. If concerns about the latter develop, could seek help from combative arts and become...

The Experienced External Stylist

- Likes the sound of (1) and stories of Ueshiba's prowess, doesn't put much stock in (4), and has a relatively easy time with learning (2). Believes Aikido can work if you're strong, fast, and use techniques from other arts if the Aikido ones don't work, and you back yourself up with MMA and powerlifting. Probably hasn't heard of (3) either, but if he does considers it core training like working on a stability ball.

The Internal Stylist Without a Clue About Internal Skills

- Hasn't been exposed to real internal goods even though he practices what should be an internal style, so usually comes to Aikido as the Hippie New Ager.

Blowhardicus Aikidokus
- Believes that incessant talk increases (2), and even more talk makes (2) into (3).

The Made Man
- Part of the Aikido mob heirarchy, primarily interested in rank and social advancement and making anyone who undermines his credibility "sleep with the fishes". Does (2) as needed for rank advancement. Is scared by the idea of (3) because it sounds like it might be hard to fake. Sound of kissing noises gives away location of nearest higher-ranking Aikidoka in the heirarchy. Claims to believe (1), and (4) if necessary, but has far less spiritually lofty interests.

Jeckyll and Hyde
- Claims full belief in (1), peace, love, harmony for all - but if you disagree with him or say anything that might be remotely critical of Aikido, would love to rip out your eyeballs in a most un-Aiki way, or at the very least have you banished to the far side of the moon as you are not welcome in the perfect human family that is worldwide Aikido. Depending on rank and affiliation may actually be The Made Man.

And so on. OK the last few are drifting from my point for amusement's sake, but I am trying to make a serious point about internal skills. In my case, I have an external background, including typical Aikido, and I like (1), remember a decent amount of (2), and am mostly interested in pursuing (3) because I think it's one of the most interesting study areas in martial arts, particularly as you get older. I will probably never be on board with (4), so even if I had (1) (2) and (3) decently covered some day, the Spirit of Ueshiba would probably still wank on me for that reason. Maybe he'd think I have Ki, but from the Dark Side. Long story short, I don't think many people, especially in the West, will ever really do Ueshiba's Aikido in the full sense that he would completely approve of. So you really have to understand what you care about and are interested in, and pursue those aspects, and maybe not be overly concerned about what you hope he might think about it, or what other people think he might think about it. You mention him enticing people to Aikido with power demonstrations, well, that might be a good reason to be able to show those things to spread the art. In the current show-me MMA environment, what else will sell? The idea that hakamas look cool? Still I don't think anyone is trying to, or really can, dictate what the "right" path necessarily is. What is a fact though is that meaningful, down-to-earth, practical discussion of (3) is hard to find, because it was never taught openly. I think at least part of the reason for that is (4). To focus Western-style on what actually happens to the body so that you can really learn this stuff seems to deny Ki-as-mystical-energy. You're not supposed to look behind the Great Oz's curtain. Even if that isn't a fair dichotomy to create, I can imagine that if Ueshiba showed you the unbendable arm and talked about you projecting Ki, and you said something like "well gee, isn't it just stronger because I'm not fighting myself with tense biceps?" or some other pedestrian real-world explanation, he'd probably slap you upside the head and throw you out. He probably just didn't think that way, so seeing completely eye to eye with him from a Western perspective may not be possible in the first place, and all the post-mortem mindreading and channeling from Westerners is meaningless because we can't truly emulate his mindset.

Bottom line, it's hard to find good information on how to actually develop the ki skills, so the fact that it's being talked about and shown openly at all is a good thing, IMO. Some will ignore it, some will pursue it, some will use it for good, and some for evil (see The Made Man ). Doesn't mean anyone has to care, or agree with how some people think it fits into the grand scheme, but there it is.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-14-2007, 04:19 PM   #103
George S. Ledyard
 
George S. Ledyard's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,633
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
Hi George,

I think it's probably fair to say no one knows exactly what he meant; maybe he just didn't see Ki being used, or maybe things were too competitive. In the same way that we shouldn't assume we know what he meant, it may not be fair to make similar assumptions about the people talking about internal skills. I fully embrace the wisdom of non-resistance, of not trying to compete. Of course there should be something martial behind it, or else it's just philosophy and not warrior-philosophy. According to Tohei, one blow in Aikido is lethal enough to kill. Leaving aside that you don't see that kind of ability much, the way of the peaceful warrior carries the presumption that said warrior can actually do something serious if he has to. Otherwise just look to Ghandi, not Ueshiba. The idea that there should be something serious there often leads to people doing aggressive Aikido, or incorporating other arts to try to make it more "street ready", which I agree can be a mistake. I think the internal skills are needed, but that doesn't mean I think it changes the goal or philosophy of Aikido.

It's a fine line to walk, and part of the issue is that Ueshiba *was* a tough guy before he developed Aikido. He basically went around to every master he could find to train with, until he was the toughest man around. Then he started to question what it was all good for. Eventually his powers would fade with age, he would no longer be the baddest around, so what had he gained, what does it all mean? It's something that happens with age, we in the West call it a midlife crisis. As you get older you tend to look for the deeper meaning and purpose of what you do in life, and he had a revelation on the deep meaning of martial art. So here was a highly skilled, highly capable fighter, turning his mind in the direction of an encompassing spiritual and philosophical purpose for his skills.

Importantly, in his belief system, the Ki skills were actually a manifestation of Ki. The unbendable arm isn't just a mind-intent visualization that encourages proper body usage, it is an example of letting Ki flow. Point being, the only way you could dig him up, magically reanimate his corpse, have him look at what you do and then give your practice the thumbs up is if you 1) are on the same page philosophically as to the purpose of Aikido, 2) have the technical syllabus down, 3) have the Ki skills down (including sensing opponents' intention, not just internal body skill), and 4) believe that the things in (3) are manifestations of the Ki of the universe.

People of different backgrounds and mentalities fall variously into these areas. Let's try looking at a few common types for fun:

The Hippie New Ager Looking-for-the-Nearest-Cult-Leader-to-Follow

- Can be on board with (1) and (4) within minutes of his first lesson, will spend his life on (2) and believe he has (3) without ever really scratching the real surface of (3).

The Clueless Martial Newbie

- Likes the sound of (1), but thinks of (4) as an asian cultural thing. If (4) is taken seriously, will become Hippie New Ager. Will work on (2), probably never hear of (3) in a physically meaningful way, and will hopefully never have to actually use Aikido for real since it probably won't work. If concerns about the latter develop, could seek help from combative arts and become...

The Experienced External Stylist

- Likes the sound of (1) and stories of Ueshiba's prowess, doesn't put much stock in (4), and has a relatively easy time with learning (2). Believes Aikido can work if you're strong, fast, and use techniques from other arts if the Aikido ones don't work, and you back yourself up with MMA and powerlifting. Probably hasn't heard of (3) either, but if he does considers it core training like working on a stability ball.

The Internal Stylist Without a Clue About Internal Skills

- Hasn't been exposed to real internal goods even though he practices what should be an internal style, so usually comes to Aikido as the Hippie New Ager.

Blowhardicus Aikidokus
- Believes that incessant talk increases (2), and even more talk makes (2) into (3).

The Made Man
- Part of the Aikido mob heirarchy, primarily interested in rank and social advancement and making anyone who undermines his credibility "sleep with the fishes". Does (2) as needed for rank advancement. Is scared by the idea of (3) because it sounds like it might be hard to fake. Sound of kissing noises gives away location of nearest higher-ranking Aikidoka in the heirarchy. Claims to believe (1), and (4) if necessary, but has far less spiritually lofty interests.

Jeckyll and Hyde
- Claims full belief in (1), peace, love, harmony for all - but if you disagree with him or say anything that might be remotely critical of Aikido, would love to rip out your eyeballs in a most un-Aiki way, or at the very least have you banished to the far side of the moon as you are not welcome in the perfect human family that is worldwide Aikido. Depending on rank and affiliation may actually be The Made Man.

And so on. OK the last few are drifting from my point for amusement's sake, but I am trying to make a serious point about internal skills. In my case, I have an external background, including typical Aikido, and I like (1), remember a decent amount of (2), and am mostly interested in pursuing (3) because I think it's one of the most interesting study areas in martial arts, particularly as you get older. I will probably never be on board with (4), so even if I had (1) (2) and (3) decently covered some day, the Spirit of Ueshiba would probably still wank on me for that reason. Maybe he'd think I have Ki, but from the Dark Side. Long story short, I don't think many people, especially in the West, will ever really do Ueshiba's Aikido in the full sense that he would completely approve of. So you really have to understand what you care about and are interested in, and pursue those aspects, and maybe not be overly concerned about what you hope he might think about it, or what other people think he might think about it. You mention him enticing people to Aikido with power demonstrations, well, that might be a good reason to be able to show those things to spread the art. In the current show-me MMA environment, what else will sell? The idea that hakamas look cool? Still I don't think anyone is trying to, or really can, dictate what the "right" path necessarily is. What is a fact though is that meaningful, down-to-earth, practical discussion of (3) is hard to find, because it was never taught openly. I think at least part of the reason for that is (4). To focus Western-style on what actually happens to the body so that you can really learn this stuff seems to deny Ki-as-mystical-energy. You're not supposed to look behind the Great Oz's curtain. Even if that isn't a fair dichotomy to create, I can imagine that if Ueshiba showed you the unbendable arm and talked about you projecting Ki, and you said something like "well gee, isn't it just stronger because I'm not fighting myself with tense biceps?" or some other pedestrian real-world explanation, he'd probably slap you upside the head and throw you out. He probably just didn't think that way, so seeing completely eye to eye with him from a Western perspective may not be possible in the first place, and all the post-mortem mindreading and channeling from Westerners is meaningless because we can't truly emulate his mindset.

Bottom line, it's hard to find good information on how to actually develop the ki skills, so the fact that it's being talked about and shown openly at all is a good thing, IMO. Some will ignore it, some will pursue it, some will use it for good, and some for evil (see The Made Man ). Doesn't mean anyone has to care, or agree with how some people think it fits into the grand scheme, but there it is.
Great post. I agree, we are all going to decide what we thought he meant and create our Aikido accordingly. I suspect that O-Sensei was a very complex guy and perhaps all of the various takes on him are true on some level. That's why it's good that there is an exchange and eve a bit of a debate about these things. Put it all together collectively and I think you might start to hit the truth of it somewhere. It's also true that, try as we might, we can't be him. O-Sensei was a particular guy who was the product of particular training in a given time and environment. So all that is left for us to use our Aikido practice to become more genuinely ourselves, since it is impossible for us to be someone else. Aikido needs to have room for all of that variation. It isn't one things or another, its probably got both... people will find the Aikido that speaks to them. I think it's a good idea if we try to accept the varying points of view.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 03-14-2007 at 04:21 PM.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-14-2007, 04:43 PM   #104
George S. Ledyard
 
George S. Ledyard's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,633
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

I think I need to restate something in a concise form here, as there is a possibility of misunderstanding.

a) I am in no disagreement with Dan or Mike about their level of expertise or that these teachers have a great deal to offer us; they are an asset to the threads here on Aiki Web

b) I wish to leave no doubt in anyone's minds that I believe that what these guys are talking about and teaching was part of the essential skill set which O-Sensei had and frequently demonstrated

c) I will go out of my way to train with these guys myself and would happy to have either one of them teach at my dojo so my students could benefit

d) I would recommend to any serious Aikido practitioner that they do the same

I do not want to be perceived as speaking for some hypothetical "opposition" as I do not see myself in opposition with these guys. I actually agree with them for the most part. What I have posted previously should be understood in this context. I have some different ideas but do not see these as standing I opposition to their ideas. At times I have tried to put the ideas of other folks who I know to be out there into form. But that should not be misconstrued as oppositional on my part. I am just trying to throw some more ideas out there. Especially when I know there are folks out there who are thinking those things but will not post them themselves.

I do most of any negative communication I feel necessary via private e-mail. I do not feel that I need to do that in a public forum. To do so creates little possibility for eventual movement in the relative positions. But, in case my attempts at communication privately didn't get through clearly enough, I wanted to be as clear as possible on this topic and do so in public.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-14-2007, 09:58 PM   #105
Erick Mead
 
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,479
United_States
Offline
Disgust Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
Pete Rihaczek wrote: View Post
...Still I don't think anyone is trying to, or really can, dictate what the "right" path necessarily is. ... To focus Western-style on what actually happens to the body so that you can really learn this stuff seems to deny Ki-as-mystical-energy.
He probably just didn't think that way, so seeing completely eye to eye with him from a Western perspective may not be possible in the first place, and all the post-mortem mindreading and channeling from Westerners is meaningless because we can't truly emulate his mindset.... Doesn't mean anyone has to care, or agree with how some people think it fits into the grand scheme, but there it is.
All we can do is take what is given us and place it honestly in our context. Any more than that is simple pretension. Grand schemes? Well, O Sensei did not seem to have any, at least in any directive sense. He left some hints about some important contexts that need to be addressed and he left to others to place his revelation into those contexts.
Quote:
O Sensei: "Budo Renshu" wrote:
.... if the human mind once takes charge of water and fire in accord with the prinicple of "Water-Fire, Yin-Yang" when your enemy attacks with water you strike with water, with fire then hit with fire. Today it is important to train thinking in terms of scientific warfare. (tr. Bieri/Mabuchi)
There is much more to the fire/water trope and it is worth reading. The significance of this quote is twofold on this point, however.

First, O Sensei had no doubts that his metaphorical (or alchemical) understanding of the operation of the art could eventually be described in Western scientific terms. Second, he firmly believed that it ought to be done by someone following him.

I look to go where he pointed. I do not dispute that he pointed other ways also. Kokyu expands in all directions simultaneously, so there is no conflict or contradiciton in that, at all. I just hope to find somebody farther along to make this particular path a little clearer.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-15-2007, 05:12 AM   #106
gdandscompserv
 
gdandscompserv's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,214
United_States
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
I look to go where he pointed. I do not dispute that he pointed other ways also. Kokyu expands in all directions simultaneously, so there is no conflict or contradiciton in that, at all. I just hope to find somebody farther along to make this particular path a little clearer.
Nice Erick.
I feel like a lost, wandering shodan. I don't feel ready to be a teacher. I'd much prefer to be a student. But what choice do I have. If I want to train I must teach. Simple as that. In the meantime I steal what I can from the "seminar" circuit. A poor substitution for a sensei but I do what I can.

Last edited by gdandscompserv : 03-15-2007 at 05:22 AM.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-15-2007, 06:07 AM   #107
MM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,996
United_States
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
There is much more to the fire/water trope and it is worth reading. The significance of this quote is twofold on this point, however.

First, O Sensei had no doubts that his metaphorical (or alchemical) understanding of the operation of the art could eventually be described in Western scientific terms. Second, he firmly believed that it ought to be done by someone following him.

I look to go where he pointed. I do not dispute that he pointed other ways also. Kokyu expands in all directions simultaneously, so there is no conflict or contradiciton in that, at all. I just hope to find somebody farther along to make this particular path a little clearer.
Hi Erick,

Reading your posts, I usually have one over-riding area of concern. When you talk about Ueshiba, or quote him, you translate/define/whatever his writings in a very definitive way as if you know 100% what they mean.

As with the above, "he had no doubts" and "he firmly believed". I find it hard to understand how you can know that he had no doubts or where his beliefs were firm. Maybe it's just a writing style that you use and I'm reading more into it than what's there, but ... as I said, it comes across to me as if you understand perfectly what Ueshiba said and wrote.

Mark
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-15-2007, 10:32 AM   #108
Erick Mead
 
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,479
United_States
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Reading your posts, I usually have one over-riding area of concern. When you talk about Ueshiba, or quote him, you translate/define/whatever his writings in a very definitive way as if you know 100% what they mean.
To clarify. I read what reliable translators have given as his meaning in English. I have some small amount of training in construing what words in English actually mean, and I trust reliable translators (whom I have no reason to doubt) to render the original into serviceable English. Those who have questioned my use of the translations have attacked the adequacy of the translations themselves (not, to my way of thinking, with any degree of persuasiveness on the essential points). However, I defend generally reliable translations and their ordinary meaning in English, with the thought that the words actually mean what they say.
Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
"he had no doubts" and "he firmly believed".
Lack of doubt and firmness of belief on the points I mentioned about the consistency of his understanding of Water-Fire priniciples with the results of eventual scientific inquiry into the action he represented in that fashion is shown, in an immediate sense by his linking the two statements -- without any qualifications. Moreover, I have never seen in any other recorded statements or writings, any other expression of his doubt about the usefulness of scientific (or any other) inquiry into the principles and training of aikido. If he had doubts about his own statement, I presume he would have expressed them in conjunction. And in the context of the entirety of his dicussion of kokyu and technique in Budo Renshu, he certainly expressed none.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-15-2007, 10:43 AM   #109
ChrisMoses
Dojo: TNBBC (Icho Ryu Aiki Budo), Shinto Ryu IaiBattojutsu
Location: Seattle, WA
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 906
United_States
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
To clarify. I read what reliable translators have given as his meaning in English. I have some small amount of training in construing what words in English actually mean, and I trust reliable translators (whom I have no reason to doubt) to render the original into serviceable English. Those who have questioned my use of the translations have attacked the adequacy of the translations themselves (not, to my way of thinking, with any degree of persuasiveness on the essential points). However, I defend generally reliable translations and their ordinary meaning in English, with the thought that the words actually mean what they say.
I not only suspect the majority of English translations of OSensei's writing, but the origin of those writings. I've heard from several sources, for example, that the doka were not so much written by OSensei, as written down as examples of things that he would/might say...

Chris Moses
TNBBC, "Putting the ME in MEdiocre!"
Shinto Ryu Iai Battojutsu
TNBBC Blog
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-15-2007, 04:06 PM   #110
Erick Mead
 
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,479
United_States
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
I not only suspect the majority of English translations of OSensei's writing, but the origin of those writings. I've heard from several sources, for example, that the doka were not so much written by OSensei, as written down as examples of things that he would/might say...
Source?

I t is always easy to disavow points one does not like by merely attacking their authenticity without actual attribution of a source of error in transmission. So why should you do that -- who says so?

More to the point -- why trust the Japanese either? Most of them were transcriptions of what he said, rather than his own writing. The entirety of the Takemusu Aiki lectures was transcribed stenographically as he gave it. Budo Renshu has the distinction of being one of his two major pieces of actual extended writing on the subject, so at least one source of error is removed. What basis do you have to question Bieri and Mabuchi's translation?

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-15-2007, 06:41 PM   #111
George S. Ledyard
 
George S. Ledyard's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,633
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
Source?

I t is always easy to disavow points one does not like by merely attacking their authenticity without actual attribution of a source of error in transmission. So why should you do that -- who says so?

More to the point -- why trust the Japanese either? Most of them were transcriptions of what he said, rather than his own writing. The entirety of the Takemusu Aiki lectures was transcribed stenographically as he gave it. Budo Renshu has the distinction of being one of his two major pieces of actual extended writing on the subject, so at least one source of error is removed. What basis do you have to question Bieri and Mabuchi's translation?
I don't think it is a matter of questioning the translations as much as the fact that any translation from Japanese into English is going to be essentially limited. You start with the fact that O-Sensei's usage was arcane even for the Japanese. Then you take that and try to translate it into a language that simply doesn't have the same concepts in its culture. Any translation is just an interpretation.

If you take a look at the Tao Teh Ching the Chinese is open to multiple levels of interpretation due to the nature of the language. If you don't read it in the original, you lose those multiple levels. However, the book is the single most translated text in Chinese (other than Mao's little red book which doesn't count as far as I am concerned). So if one, as a non reader of Classical Chinese, want to get some picture of what the original meant, you need to read a number of translations and compare them. Each one will convey some sense of what was meant.

O-Sensei's writings, such as they exist, have not been given anywhere near the same amount of scrutiny. There are not multiple translations for us to compare. So any translation is limited. Even a Japanese speaker not trained in the specifics of what O-Sensei was talking about would be interpreting when he described what he thought O-Sensei meant.

Therefore, all of this discussion of what O-Sensei meant or didn't mean is subjective. I might have a take on it based on listening to Saotome Sensei talk for hours about training with the Founder. That helps me create a context when I read the writings. But it's still not cut and dried at all. I believe certain things about what O-Sensei meant in his writings. It's my opinion. It may be an informed opinion, but it is essentially based on incomplete information. And there is no way around that.

Then, to complicate things further, it is a fact that when O-Sensei's lectures were translated into English, the translation was specifically tailored to make a certain presentation to a particular audience. What was translated was cherry picked and how the terms were translated was controlled to create a picture that fit what the folks running the show at the time wished to present. This was not translation done to exacting academic standards, it was translation to create an impression. This wasn't true of he Doka translations by Larry Bieri but it was true of some of the other material that shows up in books about Aikido in which O-Sensei is quoted.

I think at this point it is important to know as much about the Founder as possible but we will ultimately arrive at our own understanding of what he meant through practice. I hope we can avoid a Council of Nicocea at some point in the future at which some orthodox interpretation becomes written in stone. The discussion and the personal discovery are everything as far as I am concerned.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-15-2007, 07:10 PM   #112
Fred Little
Dojo: NJIT Budokai
Location: State Line NJ/NY
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 611
United_States
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I
If you take a look at the Tao Teh Ching the Chinese is open to multiple levels of interpretation due to the nature of the language. If you don't read it in the original, you lose those multiple levels. However, the book is the single most translated text in Chinese (other than Mao's little red book which doesn't count as far as I am concerned). So if one, as a non reader of Classical Chinese, want to get some picture of what the original meant, you need to read a number of translations and compare them. Each one will convey some sense of what was meant.
Robert Henricks' translation of the work in question was published by Ballantine in 1992.

Working from the oldest extant manuscript, in which the order of the two sections of the work are opposite the order more familiar from later manuscripts, Henricks retitled the work "Te Tao Ching."

In this older version, the shorter, pithier executive summary on how to rule comes first -- after all, the prince is a busy man and you can't expect him to read very long or very deeply -- the more philosophical section comes second.

All of the translations we have other than Henricks' started with a fundamentally incorrect assumption: that the work was primarily a work of philosophy and secondarily a work of practical statecraft.

Even in the case of Budo Renshu, there is evidence that the work was constructed from the notes of students and approved by Ueshiba for distribution to yudansha. And as George notes, everything else was cherrypicked and then massaged in the process of reorganization and translation.

In such a circumstance, the only definitive statement that is reasonably sound is that no definitive statements are terribly sound.

Best,

FL
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-15-2007, 07:15 PM   #113
George S. Ledyard
 
George S. Ledyard's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,633
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
Robert Henricks' translation of the work in question was published by Ballantine in 1992.

Working from the oldest extant manuscript, in which the order of the two sections of the work are opposite the order more familiar from later manuscripts, Henricks retitled the work "Te Tao Ching."

In this older version, the shorter, pithier executive summary on how to rule comes first -- after all, the prince is a busy man and you can't expect him to read very long or very deeply -- the more philosophical section comes second.

All of the translations we have other than Henricks' started with a fundamentally incorrect assumption: that the work was primarily a work of philosophy and secondarily a work of practical statecraft.

Even in the case of Budo Renshu, there is evidence that the work was constructed from the notes of students and approved by Ueshiba for distribution to yudansha. And as George notes, everything else was cherrypicked and then massaged in the process of reorganization and translation.

In such a circumstance, the only definitive statement that is reasonably sound is that no definitive statements are terribly sound.

Best,

FL
I picked up a copy of the new translation recently. It was a kick to see a newly discovered manuscript that was older than the ones I studied in school. Sort of like the Taoist Gnostic Gospels... Those were the days, back when I could just sit around all day and read cool stuff like that...

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-15-2007, 11:38 PM   #114
Josh Lerner
 
Josh Lerner's Avatar
Location: Renton, WA
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 80
United_States
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I picked up a copy of the new translation recently. It was a kick to see a newly discovered manuscript that was older than the ones I studied in school. Sort of like the Taoist Gnostic Gospels... Those were the days, back when I could just sit around all day and read cool stuff like that...
Hi George,

If that's the kind of thing you are interested in, I suggest getting a copy of Harold Roth's translation of the Neiye chapter of the Guanzi. It's called "Original Tao: Inward Training and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism." The text he translates is the oldest extant Chinese text on internal meditative training, and probably comes from the same lineage of practices that later produced the Daodejing. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in archaic Chinese mysticism.

Josh

http://www.amazon.com/Original-Tao-F...4023219&sr=8-1
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2007, 07:41 AM   #115
George S. Ledyard
 
George S. Ledyard's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,633
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
Josh Lerner wrote: View Post
Hi George,

If that's the kind of thing you are interested in, I suggest getting a copy of Harold Roth's translation of the Neiye chapter of the Guanzi. It's called "Original Tao: Inward Training and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism." The text he translates is the oldest extant Chinese text on internal meditative training, and probably comes from the same lineage of practices that later produced the Daodejing. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in archaic Chinese mysticism.

Josh

http://www.amazon.com/Original-Tao-F...4023219&sr=8-1
Thanks Josh,
I ordered it today. I don't know if they have even finished cataloging all the documents they found at the Dun Huang caves. There was so much stuff there it will keep a couple generations of scholars busy. Did this volume come out of that find or did it come to light elsewhere?

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2007, 10:14 AM   #116
Josh Lerner
 
Josh Lerner's Avatar
Location: Renton, WA
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 80
United_States
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Thanks Josh,
I ordered it today. I don't know if they have even finished cataloging all the documents they found at the Dun Huang caves. There was so much stuff there it will keep a couple generations of scholars busy. Did this volume come out of that find or did it come to light elsewhere?
It's been around since it was written, but it got put into a larger collection of works (the Guanzi) during the Han dynasty. For most of the last several millenia, the Guanzi was considered a Legalist collection of texts on politics and economics, so the Neiye chapter, and a few others buried in there, were ignored. Kind of "Hidden in Plain Sight". What the more recent discoveries (like the "Four Classics of the Yellow Emperor" from Mawangdui) *have* done is give a different context for classifying early texts like the Guanzi.

One interesting thing about the text is that it describes the physiological center for the body's energies as being in the center of the chest, not the lower abdomen as in later Daoist works. Very interesting for those with an interest in Akuzawa's excercises . . .

But now back to our chewy center. Apologies to Chris for the thread drift.

Josh

Last edited by Josh Lerner : 03-16-2007 at 10:18 AM. Reason: added content
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2007, 10:36 AM   #117
Erick Mead
 
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,479
United_States
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
Even in the case of Budo Renshu, the work was ... approved by Ueshiba for distribution to yudansha.
So, if this report is accurate, he was editor and reviewer of their notes of his own statements. He adopted them by approving them for publication. How is this evidence, on the specific point I laid on the table, that he did NOT believe that scientific inquiry was warranted, or that it was, in any way, incompatible with his more classical, metaphorical view of describing their operations?

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
In such a circumstance, the only definitive statement that is reasonably sound is that no definitive statements are terribly sound.
Respectfully, that's a cop out. Knowledge can never be perfect. We should not therefore abandon the hope of its relative perfection or to disregard information that fails to meet some pre-conceived arbitrary test of validity.

The evidence is what it is, and until better evidence comes along we are all stuck with it in drawing our conclusions from it. Challenge the conclusions drawn form the evidence, certainly, but the evidence you have is all you have, regardless of its provenance, and stating that one would hope for better evidence does not rebut a valid conclusion from the evidence that you do have.

Giving all due weight to your concern, his students took definite meaning from what he said and preserved it. He reviewed their understanding of his meaning and approved it for purposes of informing and directing his successors in their defintion of the art. The translators should similarly not be impeached without some reason. It does nothing to change my conclusion on that basis. The statement itself was definitive -- I take it definitively.

Regardless of that quibble-- I concur whole-heartedly that nothing which is not useful in practice or demonstrable through practice survives an empirical test of its relevance to Aikido.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 03-16-2007 at 10:41 AM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2007, 11:55 AM   #118
cguzik
Location: Tulsa, OK
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 166
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Well, if we take the argument that content and context are inextricably linked to its logical conclusion, where we end up is that for me to fully understand anything you say, I need to be you. Perhaps I can partially understand what you say, based on how similar our contexts may be.

If our contexts are sufficiently different, the bandwidth required to transmit a translation of the background may be significantly larger than that required to transmit a translation of the foreground in question. Where do we draw the line? To admit that wherever we draw it is not good enough is a cop out?

Last edited by cguzik : 03-16-2007 at 11:59 AM.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2007, 12:06 PM   #119
George S. Ledyard
 
George S. Ledyard's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,633
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
Chris Guzik wrote: View Post
Well, if we take the argument that content and context are inextricably linked to its logical conclusion, where we end up is that for me to fully understand anything you say, I need to be you. Perhaps I can partially understand what you say, based on how similar our contexts may be.

If our contexts are sufficiently different, the bandwidth required to transmit a translation of the background may be significantly larger than that required to transmit a translation of the foreground in question. Where do we draw the line? To admit that wherever we draw it is not good enough is a cop out?
I think that you are actually right here. I do not think it really is possible to understand someone. Not exactly as they mean it, not once you are talking about something complex, anyway. May be it's the difference between understanding someone and reaching an understanding. Through my training I have reached an understanding of O-Sensei's words. That isn't definitive and it doesn't mean that your understanding is the same as mine. If we share our thoughts and experiences we could be able to reach an understanding between ourselves. That still leaves room for each of us to have our own version of the understanding.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2007, 12:39 PM   #120
Erick Mead
 
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,479
United_States
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
Chris Guzik wrote: View Post
Where do we draw the line?
In practice. The only lines that really count for Aikido are found in practice. The line is very definite there.

Two words are used for practice -- renshū 練習 and keiko 稽古(a whole thread exists on this one). Keiko 稽古 connotes replaying knwon engagements (literally -- "old quarrels"), which allows for study of principles in concrete action. Kihon dosa, and kata as examples. The concept of the physical line is fundamental there.

Renshū 練習 "polish/refine learning" plays a part also. Kokyu dosa as example. That allows work on a different aspect of principles -- where the lines are intentional, attentional or conceptual. There are valid lines that exist in those areas, too, and which it is just as dangerous to cross ill-prepared as the physical line. All the better to be drawing those those lines with the same spirit and as closely as in physical practice.

Not all renshū happens in the dojo, some of it can happen here. Some of it can even be written down.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2007, 12:45 PM   #121
Fred Little
Dojo: NJIT Budokai
Location: State Line NJ/NY
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 611
United_States
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
So, if this report is accurate, he was editor and reviewer of their notes of his own statements. He adopted them by approving them for publication. How is this evidence, on the specific point I laid on the table, that he did NOT believe that scientific inquiry was warranted, or that it was, in any way, incompatible with his more classical, metaphorical view of describing their operations?

Giving all due weight to your concern, his students took definite meaning from what he said and preserved it. He reviewed their understanding of his meaning and approved it for purposes of informing and directing his successors in their defintion of the art. The translators should similarly not be impeached without some reason. It does nothing to change my conclusion on that basis. The statement itself was definitive -- I take it definitively.
Erick --

With all due respect, you are resorting to classic straw man arguments and infelicitous double-think.

I did not make any comment about the utility or inutility of scientific inquiry. Any assertion that I did is categorically false.

With regard to the "compatibility" of metaphorical versus empirical description, I assert that the two modes depend on two utterly different sets of descriptive symbols with utterly different rules of operation and thus, are not directly comparable. Each can accord quite well with the phenomenon it is describing while according not at all with another description. To this extent, discussion of "compatiblity" or "incompatibility" of metaphorical or empirical descriptions is of less relevance than the possible complementary utility of the descriptions, which is a rather different matter.

While Ueshiba is supposed to have reviewed and approved the text, the apparent fact that it was approved with the stipulation that it be distributed only to yudansha may be taken to indicate that the work was intended as an outline or detailed mnemonic of lessons already imparted through oral and kinesthetic instruction, which was regarded as primary. Thus, not only would the role of the text and drawings be secondary, tertiary, or quaternary, not primary, but I would also suggest that the distribution was restricted because the text might be regarded as misleading to an individual who had not received individual oral and kiinesthetic instruction. To put a fine point on it, my assertion is that it can not be shown that the authorial or editorial intention was to approach the "definite" or "definitive," much less that such an intention was successfully realized.

Your position that Ueshiba's language was, on the one hand "metaphorical" and on the other hand so "definite" that you can reify that "definite" meaning into a "definitive meaning" is heremeneutically suspect as anything other than a statement of faith.

Your suggestion that anyone has "impeached" the translators is overblown hyperbole. At best, it betrays a series of fundamental confusions about the nature of languague, the nature of metaphor, the relationship between language and mathematics, and the fundamental nature of translation that would take a total change of viewpoint to redress. I have reached a point in my life where I rarely go for the "at worst" half of the proposition because experience has taught me that reality has more resourcefulness on that count than my imagination has ever manifested.

Not that any of the above has jack to do with actual practice, which remains primary.

Best,

FL
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2007, 12:56 PM   #122
ChrisMoses
Dojo: TNBBC (Icho Ryu Aiki Budo), Shinto Ryu IaiBattojutsu
Location: Seattle, WA
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 906
United_States
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
Source?
Numerous, many in person. However if you read between the lines by those who would know you get clues. You might also find the "Pillars of Aikido" lecture series by Stan Pranin interesting...

Chris Moses
TNBBC, "Putting the ME in MEdiocre!"
Shinto Ryu Iai Battojutsu
TNBBC Blog
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2007, 01:10 PM   #123
Erick Mead
 
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,479
United_States
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
If we share our thoughts and experiences we could be able to reach an understanding between ourselves. That still leaves room for each of us to have our own version of the understanding.
The understandings I am not so concerned about. It is the misunderstandings that cause far more trouble. Finding a clear line eliminates (at least) one source of that misundertstanding. Of course, then the line always changes again, I realize that.

But the same process of doing this over and over is present in working the aiki mind as well as the aiki body. We cannot gain musubi unless we know where the attack truly lies. Mushy aikido is as bad as mushy thinking. One way to define the line is simply to do it, on an honest basis, thereby inviting (thank you, Fred) the very attack we contemplate and then deal with it, or define a different line.

Quote:
Chris Guzik wrote: View Post
Well, if we take the argument that content and context are inextricably linked to its logical conclusion ...
If we take any argument to its "logical conclusion" we end up in an all out war with other truths that are not rational, nor can they be arrived at rationally. Some contradictions cannot be resolved -- mostly, the important ones. Logic is sharp weapon -- use carefully. Scalpels unavoidably wound what they hope to heal.

That was part of the point I take from O Sensei's placing the two ways of addressing the principles involved in conjunction. They are not incompatibel and neiterh one is complete. And noone has shown he didn't - so that's the line of attack until somebody makes it different. (Hold on Fred, I'll get to you in a minute.)

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2007, 01:22 PM   #124
Erick Mead
 
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,479
United_States
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
Numerous, many in person. However if you read between the lines by those who would know you get clues. You might also find the "Pillars of Aikido" lecture series by Stan Pranin interesting...
Fascinating. I should not rely on a reasonably authoritative translation of a textual record at some point taken from spoken or written words of O Sensei, and at least approved by himself to be publsihed, but I should "read between the lines to get clues by those who would know." Hmmm.

Let me get this straight. Why then should I believe what Prof. Pranin says these people say, after all, he just made notes of conversations that were then approved for publication by these persons after his editing (or was that massaging and cherrypicking) Sauce for the goose ...

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2007, 01:26 PM   #125
Fred Little
Dojo: NJIT Budokai
Location: State Line NJ/NY
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 611
United_States
Offline
Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
(or was that massaging and cherrypicking) Sauce for the goose ...
At the risk of self-a-gander-izement, might I ask that you kindly refrain from beating others with a rhetorical stick you've wrenched from my hands?

FL
  Reply With Quote

Please visit our sponsor:

Budo Bear Patterns - Sewing pattern for Women's (and Men's) dogi.



Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward Red Beetle General 358 10-10-2006 11:43 AM
Philippine ranking and other stories aries admin General 27 06-27-2006 04:27 AM
Proposta organização do Aikido Portugal kimusubi0 Portuguese 0 05-03-2004 03:26 AM
Propostarganização do Aikido em Portugal kimusubi0 French 0 05-01-2004 02:30 AM


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:30 AM.



vBulletin Copyright © 2000-2014 Jelsoft Enterprises Limited
----------
Copyright 1997-2014 AikiWeb and its Authors, All Rights Reserved.
----------
For questions and comments about this website:
Send E-mail
plainlaid-picaresque outchasing-protistan explicantia-altarage seaford-stellionate