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Old 02-19-2009, 04:56 PM   #201
sorokod
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I have actually joked with my students after doing a throw that I had just used that force that doesn't exist.
Would this trow "work" on people who never studied martial arts?

Last edited by sorokod : 02-19-2009 at 05:07 PM.

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Old 02-19-2009, 07:57 PM   #202
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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David Soroko wrote: View Post
Would this throw "work" on people who never studied martial arts?
I used to teach both Police Defensive Tactics and also did training for Club Security folks (Bouncers avg weight 250+). I have no problem putting people down who have never studied. Actually, they are easier because they typically resist and the tension makes everything work better.

Executing technique on someone who REALLY knows what he is doing is another thing. Then its more about who is better at the skills (coupled with a certain amount of deception in a real confrontation).

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Old 02-19-2009, 11:01 PM   #203
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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The same is true of O Sensei's wisdom that is given in strictly Japanese mythic imagery. If you do not understand it from the inside on its own terms uncritically first -- you cannot understand what it says, critically speaking -- and it says many useful things. And once its imagery is translated across the language barrier, there are available methods of construing that wisdom in terms of concrete practice, common in the West, that help make it accessible. For a start, I suggest James Hillman's A Terrible Love of War in considering the wisdom of O Sensei's summation of his Art -- "True budo is love."
Erick ,you have to clarify something for this hillbilly. It is my understanding that O'Sensei was the chairman of that organization that Onisaburo Deguchi was president at its core it shared ideas that came from the Hagakure a.k.a the bushido oat that in part basically translates as, show mercy to others and be good and do good to them. But, it translates differently in the Omoto organization O'Sensei chaired says instead of mercy they use the word love. I don't think O'Sensei means to hug and kiss type of love, or free love.

The time O'Sensei was at was about change in Japan and with in that is of course ethics. The Japanese didn't make up new ethics to replace the old, but rather edited the old ethics. Ethics/moral standards which came from the Hagakure/bushido. Thus, clearly the model for O'Sensei and all Japanese.

Confusing yes, in a nut shell, Budo being love is really Budo being what the Hagakure states it to be, show mercy to others and be good and do good to them. How does Hillman's use of western mythology to support his anti-violence and stuff?

O'Sensei wasn't anti-violence. He was a martial artist, which means and it is clearly evident he supported Bushido on many levels and ways as described by the Hagakure. He wasn't into the feudal Japan. Rather into the restoration of Japan. Basically, we wasn't on Haite and Ashbury streets. It was more about re-education of morals and ethics in Japan, a new Edict for the Japanese.

FWIW, I think that is that is the problem, that myth you mentioned. And it isn't a good one. Because it deigns the facts and all the information about O'Sensei. And we get a limited view of the complexity of O'Sensei and his life. From that myth we also can manipulate that myth to our own liking, to reflect ourselves. Myth is hard to pin down, and it isn't a constant. It is always susceptible to change and modification at will at anytime. That is not to say that myth doesn't do a good job at containing a constant level of information that is subject to anyone's interpretation- misinformation.

Whew...am I on a crazy train thing or what. But, myth can be damaging because of it's misinformation we see it when it comes to healing or caring for the human body both present and past. Or psychologically, how many kids are devastated by the truth or deign the truth because a myth is destroyed. For example, the beloved myth of Santa Claus. Or for Aikidokas the myths of O'Sensei.

Last edited by Buck : 02-19-2009 at 11:11 PM.
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Old 02-19-2009, 11:13 PM   #204
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

The thing with myth is that they are rarely created by the subject or object of the myth. In this case, O'Sensei. Myths are created by all those other people who are into the subject or object.

Myths appeal to our sense of wanting be informed in an entertaining way. Facts are dry and boring and really don't make for good stories or story telling.
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Old 02-20-2009, 03:28 AM   #205
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I have no problem putting people down who have never studied. Actually, they are easier because they typically resist and the tension makes everything work better.
I was not questioning your ability to "put people down", sorry if I made this impression. I was asking if that particular throw, the one that "used that force that doesn't exist" would have been effective on a person not trained in martial arts.

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Old 02-20-2009, 06:01 AM   #206
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Respectfully, I don't think your distinction between "useful" and "real" accords with mainstream modern philosophy of science (by scientists)
Well, I think it does. "Real" means slightly different things, in different contexts. Some things are unquestionably real - there is sufficient evidence to convince anyone that polar bears are real, for example.

However, when applied to a model or theory, "real" really means "current best".

There are older, superseded models which are still useful. For example, Newtonian mechanics has, strictly speaking, been shown to be an approximation that only holds in certain conditions. But mechanical engineers still use it every day, because relativistic and quantum effects can largely be ignored in their work.

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although I suspect it aptly describes the implicit ontology of a great many (very smart) practicing scientists.
Some scientists are not very careful about explaining that absolute proof is not always possible, and some work in reasonably stable fields, where modifications to models are fairly esoteric, and the bit understandable to laymen has remained fairly constant for a while.

Astronomers are, IME, a lot more upfront about this sort of thing, and I think that anyone who wanted to find out how science works could do worse than read a history of astronomy.

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But when comparing "scientific knowledge" to "useful (non-sicence) models," I think this implicit reification of scientific knowledge is problematic.
I'm not sure I get your meaning. Do you mean it is better to believe things that have not been tested?
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Old 02-20-2009, 06:15 AM   #207
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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I don't think O'Sensei means to hug and kiss type of love, or free love.
Nor I.
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Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
Confusing yes, in a nut shell, Budo being love is really Budo being what the Hagakure states it to be, show mercy to others and be good and do good to them. How does Hillman's use of western mythology to support his anti-violence and stuff?
HIllman explains himself better than I can. Suffice it to say that love and war are not enemies, nor strangers, they are spouses.

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FWIW, I think that is that is the problem, that myth you mentioned. And it isn't a good one. Because it deigns the facts and all the information about O'Sensei.
I don't mythologize the man -- he chose mythology as one of this modes of communication -- in digesting what we train to do -- it is really the only way to have a conversation with him.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 02-20-2009, 06:56 AM   #208
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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I don't mythologize the man -- he chose mythology as one of this modes of communication -- in digesting what we train to do -- it is really the only way to have a conversation with him.
hmm....I don't known, but I see what you mean. I want to comment.

Though considering that mythology is deeply a part of all Japanese and Japan. I think O'Sensei was using Japanese mythology as a convention just as he was using ideas from Bushido. He wrote in a poetic standard to communicate, and used the common mythology that the Japanese understood and where use to. Granted, he did it in his own way which made it at points it was even hard for Japanese to understand what he was trying to communicate. I think that was because of his own deep need for spirituality, and the sense to help change Japan through Aikido; just as other martial artists used their new arts to help change Japan.

I think it isn't so much of accepting the Japanese mythology of Aikido as it is accurately understanding it and its purpose. That is why I asked you the question and thanks for the reply.
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Old 02-20-2009, 01:02 PM   #209
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

No,

I mean that earlier you were pretty rigorous in talking about the essentially negative quality of scientific explanation -- which you repeat here in terms of "best models."

kenetic energy, for example, is a classic Newtonian concept: Is it "real," or a "best model" for macro level, low energy physical interactions? I think you'd agree the latter is more accurate.

To say it's "real" as a concept, as opposed to say, "ki," is different than saying "kenetic energy, as a concept of Newtonian Physics, explains our observations and measurements of physical reality more closely than, say, Aristotle's physics." That's a byproduct of the practical logic that emerges, a la Eddington's exposition, when we look for explanation by measuring things.

The problem isn't that the concept of "ki" hasn't been "tested," it has been extensively tested. The problem with matching that concept with our scientific understanding of the world is that the practical context in which it has been "confirmed" by testing isn't in the laboratory.

Suppose, however, we were able to track the physics of a martial interaction well enough to create a physical description/explanation that a mainstream physicist would accept as a valid description, and that this description omitted entirely any reliance on the concept of "ki" (or kokyu, or jin, or gounding paths, or....) -- I suspect that explanation would be largely worthless as a guide to practice.

The "most useful model" formulation, i.e., a pragmatic definition of "truth" in terms of "usefulness," has the advantage of placing the contextual nature of the "truth" in the forefront.

To make a bare-minimum attempt to hook up this side bar with the OP (sorry Buck), when looking at O'Sensei's writings and expositions, obtuse as they are to our eye, I think its important to keep in mind that he was providing conceptual guideposts that not only articulated with his spiritual beliefs, but which he believed made sense of his own life and practice as a martial artist.

I think he "understood" Aikido better than a physicist, in the primary sense of being able to replicate and transmit the skill set of Aikido.

The "best model" for most of us as martial artists probably isn't going to be framed in terms of O'Sensei's concepts because of the cultural and historical gulf separating our practice and his.

The "best model" for many of us likely includes reference to concepts of western science -- like Erick's interesting past post about the physics of a chain or a whip and its suggestions about Aikido waza, or the discussion taking place elsewhere on this forum about fascia and internal strength. I'd put myself in that camp.

But that's not to say this model is "real," and the other is "unreal."

FWIW
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Old 02-20-2009, 07:31 PM   #210
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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I think it isn't so much of accepting the Japanese mythology of Aikido as it is accurately understanding it and its purpose. That is why I asked you the question and thanks for the reply.
You are correct, accurately understanding its purpose is key. Poetry and myth are both ways of describing essentially subjective impressions of reality in concrete or narrative terms. In combination with the practical training, the impressions drawn from the narrative of myth and the concrete imagery of poetry do yield comprehensible patterns that are plainly related in very fruitful ways to improving skill in the physical art.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 02-21-2009, 01:50 AM   #211
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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David Soroko wrote: View Post
I was not questioning your ability to "put people down", sorry if I made this impression. I was asking if that particular throw, the one that "used that force that doesn't exist" would have been effective on a person not trained in martial arts.
I wasn't referring to any particular throw distinct from others but rather the way I try to do all my technique. And yes, it works fine, and better on those who haven't trained.

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Old 02-21-2009, 10:23 AM   #212
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I wasn't referring to any particular throw distinct from others but rather the way I try to do all my technique. And yes, it works fine, and better on those who haven't trained.
That would echo my experience, as well.
But I'm one of those Shingu folks. And you know how we are.

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Old 02-22-2009, 09:51 AM   #213
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I wasn't referring to any particular throw distinct from others but rather the way I try to do all my technique. And yes, it works fine, and better on those who haven't trained.
You remarked on a technique to your students and then quoted this event in this forum. One can see why I thought that you were describing something out of the ordinary.

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Old 03-07-2009, 07:35 PM   #214
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

George brought up that myth is something we need to include in this discussion. George feels very strongly about mythology and its role. I don't disagree with it. I think science is the thing. To be fair I have played the devil's advocate because I have been reading the Devil's Dictionary. Therefore, the defination below combines both of our views.

MYTHOLOGY, n. The body of a primitive people's beliefs concerning its origin, early history, heroes, deities and so forth, as distinguished from the true accounts which it invents later.


Last edited by Buck : 03-07-2009 at 07:39 PM.
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Old 03-08-2009, 08:49 PM   #215
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

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Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
George brought up that myth is something we need to include in this discussion. George feels very strongly about mythology and its role. I don't disagree with it. I think science is the thing. To be fair I have played the devil's advocate because I have been reading the Devil's Dictionary. Therefore, the defination below combines both of our views.

MYTHOLOGY, n. The body of a primitive people's beliefs concerning its origin, early history, heroes, deities and so forth, as distinguished from the true accounts which it invents later.

This is an almost totally nineteenth century understanding of myth. Joseph Campbell, Karl Jung, Mercea Eliade, etc would offer a far better picture of myth and its function. One can spot the bias immediately in the term "primitive" which has seriously fallen out of use since people actually discovered that traditional societies were anything but primitive in their psychological and spiritual life.

What makes something "mythical" isn't whether it is true or false. What makes it "mythical" is that place the story holds for the people hearing it. So if we are talking about history, then myth simply means belief passed on which really weren't true.

But myth clearly has a function... and people clearly have a "need" to create and believe in myth. Otherwise we wouldn't keep creating new ones. O-Sensei as "mythical" figure and O-Sensei as historical figure figure are not clearly defined.The Founder could do things technically that are quite well documented but many people feel to be part of the myth rather than actual historical fact. Since there are plenty of people still alive who experienced these things directly, I think it is not terribly hard to believe in some of these extraordinary abilities. When there is no one left alive who experienced the Founder in person, I think more and more of his life will be consigned to the status of "myth" in the sense of "historically false" and therefore irrelevant to our practice.

I absolutely believe that this would be unfortunate and would make Aikido something less. I think that we need to investigate both aspects of what the Founder represents. What was he as "historical figure? What did he believe, what did he practice, how do we understand him in his historical context? I also think we need to understand what O-Sensei represents as iconic Founder of our art. How do each of us understand the Founder in our own training? How do we manifest what he intended for the art in our own technique on the mats of our own dojos?

I think it is far easier to approach the Founder from the standpoint of dismissing the "myth". But that ignores the fact that "myths" get created for a reason. Not everyone attains "mythical" status, in fact, most people will come and go in almost total obscurity. I don't think most folks will even get their "ten minutes of fame" before they pass on. So the "myth" is created out of very real achievement, at least in this case. So the importance of the "myth" lies in what we want or need the Founder to be. It has some function for many of us in how we motivate our own practice, how we define what we are doing and why. That's its power. Some of this may even be shown, as Peter G and others keep working at making the historical picture more accurate, to have been based on some misunderstanding. That's fine. We might find the historical information supports rather than denies the "myth". We might find the new information simply not at odds with the "myth".

And, in those cases where we find that historical research is simply at odds with the "mythical" Founder we've had passed on to us, we might find that we have to do some examination of ourselves to decide whether what we imposed of the Founder's "myth" was something important enough to us that we need to keep it for ourselves... making the jump from "the Founder believed this" to "the Founder didn't believe this but I do". Perhaps the "myth" helps us define what we want our art to be and if it isn't historically verifiable, then perhaps we have to decide to make it that ourselves because we know it could, and should be true even though it might never have been so in the past.

I absolutely believe that without some sense of the "mythical" imbuing our training with some greater meaning... Aikido will simply fade away. If it is just about the physical training, just about the technique, the art will not survive. If it is just about self defense or fighting, it will disappear.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 03-08-2009, 10:09 PM   #216
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

George I was making a joke. A little 1911 satirical ha...ha...at myth and science from Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary.

The issue I have with myth is the whole western myth sew on to Japanese fabric. O'Sensei's mythology is Japanese. The Japanese are really into their myths which are unique and play different roles, different design, different effects, etc. then what the west did with our myths. We can't start from the westerner's understanding and treatment of myths and apply to Japanese myths and to O'Sensei.

Japanese myths have different purposes and fabrics and all that. The big Japanese myth is it's birth. Who can debate the right to the existence of a nation and it's people if it comes from the gods?

Point being is we have to be in the context of Japanese myth and not western myth when talking about O'Sensei's myth. All because, O'Sensei didn't use western myths. He used Japanese myths.

As far as history, the Japanese treat history far different then how we treat history. I am not sure with the Japanese a verifiable history it isn't what ever fits their goals at that time.

Myth has a different effect on the Japanese then us westerners, as westerners maybe we should understand Japanese mythology as Japanese mythology and not in western terms. A step toward that goal is questioning, and not just accepting what we think we understand.
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Old 03-08-2009, 11:41 PM   #217
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

I hate going into detail and I assume everyone who reads what I write knows the details I don't go into. Though my crazy little voice in my head says, "Bra ya gottas lay it down as it is." Ok so I am going to lay it down.

When speaking of Japanese myth it doesn't work inside the model Campbell and other's in the west create. Even their models are not identical but are more like opposing teams that can play baseball in the same ballpark. The Japanese haven more of a unified look with less models and argumentation at their purpose etc. for myths. We don't plop a sumo fighter smack down into a baseball field and told to play ball. That is the same thing with Japanese myth.

For example, Japanese democratic ruling process was model after a myth. Decision making is not done by one person, but by a group. Where does idea this come from? It comes from Japanese myth. A myth that says, Japanese deities got-together to discuss things in a river bed. That myth was so powerful as a model it prevented the idea of Japanese dictatorship, it modeled "right" decision or getting to the "right" conclusion. A process followed by Japanese monarchs.

The myth of deities having a get-together in a river bed, shaped the Japanese leadership model of group consultation instead of individual decision making (for the big important issues, where as the small matters being of less importance where made by the individual). Hence why organization exist and as they do in Aikido, and other things. It is the Japanese way because of that myth. Which is a different myth structure from the west.

The Japanese myth structure really doesn't fit in Campbell's model or any other such people. In the case of the Japanese they felt group decision was better then a single person making decisions, packaged in a myth about the gods that people couldn't argue. What greater power is there then how the gods do things. How can you argue against the gods. By doing so, the Japanese use myth as a means of simple and powerful persuasion, and to end any and all arguments and squelch the dissenters on how things will be done. Myth was the nicely wrapped pundit.

What we see here is simply a different purpose and structure for the Japanese. For them this myth is a way of persuading the people to get on board with the program with little resistance. The Japanese myth's structure was not that of the western myth's structure. The Japanese myth structure was not of historical truths or falsies of the existence of this or that to be. Rather a more concrete and undisputable support for the existence and compliance of civil and social laws.

We have to take Aikido mythology at its Japanese origins, function and purposes, and not at the west's. For example, Onisaburo Deguchi (correct me if I am wrong on the name) created an Omoto organization that had a Japanese mythology based structure with O'Sensei as chair. You know the one, the myth of deities getting together at a river bed. And not how Campbell sees the origins, function and purposes of myth.

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Old 03-09-2009, 01:02 AM   #218
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

I think we need to be very careful here. Equating O Sensei with myth--and leaving it at that--is insufficient. We are dealing here with two conflicting definitions of myth.

1. A traditional story, either wholly or partially fictitious, providing an explanation for or embodying a popular idea concerning some natural or social phenomenon or some religious belief or ritual: specifically one involving supernatural persons, actions or events.

2. A widely held, (especially untrue or discredited popular) story or belief: a misconception; a misrepresentation of the truth; an exaggerated or idealized conception of a person, institution etc; a person, institution etc widely idealized or misrepresented.

3. Myths collectively or as a genre; the technique or habit of creating myths.

These definitions can be found on p.1876 of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary.

I have in my library three books dealing with myth in Senses 2 and 3:
The Myth of Japanese Uniqueness; Japan's Modern Myth (which is a critique of theories about the Japanese language); Japan's Modern Myths (which is a well-regarded scholarly account of how the Meiji Restoration made use of conceptions about the culture that were important, necessary, but not wholly true.

The problem here is that the 'mythical' aspects of O Sensei's life and activities are covered by Senses 1 and 2, but these aspects work in completely different ways. I think it is very important not to lump these aspects together under one idea of 'myth'. I should add that the clearest picture of myth in Sense 1 as applied to O Sensei are the biographies written by Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Kanemoto Sunadomari.

Best wishes,

PAG

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 03-09-2009 at 01:07 AM.

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Old 03-09-2009, 12:27 PM   #219
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Peter,

I don't know if your post is a result of my posts. I am reading what you saying as a way of keeping relationship of O'Sensei and myth from going feral. Maybe, I don't know. Anyway, you got me thinking that possibly have to nut shell my opinion.

Peter's sense 1. Agreed. The danger in that is the myths are seen as fact, can explode into the supernatural, and stuff like that. That is the danger of myth and that is where science can steps in.

Now, I understand George's use of the importance of myth. Myth is part of the fabric of Aikido. It exists, and plays a useful part. Without it, Aikido is less. Basically, in a nutshell is my understanding for the heck of it.

What am saying is yes, Aikido has myth. It is a part of Aikido. But not in the way we might think, and we have come to expect, in our western way.

I think to understand how myth functions in Aikido we have to look at the way the Japanese create myth, its purpose, and function which is different then from the west. I used the Japanese deities at the river bed myth because how it is used in Japanese thinking. And because of that myth being a relatable and well known example in O'Sensei's life and Aikido.

Sure with any popular figure you are going to have myths/stories created about such people that sense 1, 2, and 3 applies. But, here is sense 4, not in a dictionary, but how myth in senses 1, 2, 3, is used as a tool to persuade in absence of fact/proof to get a collective agreement or behavior resulting in law. In this case, the structure for Japanese laws and other things like decision making. Come to think of it, we see the same thing of how to shape society with Moses and his relationship and role. One example that fits with what I am saying is the whole Ten Commandments things. Moses uses the myth of God as a persuasive tool as a leader of a nomadic people to enforce new that are intended to structure a society, nation, etc. That is the same pervasive purpose we see in the Japanese and their myth that I keep referring to. We see myth being used then not to bolster the status of an individual like as with a hero etc, (which was not the case with Moses being a hero) but rather to establish a greater purpose and function beyond what we commonly understand or treat myth as being.

The Japanese had seen early on the power myth in their own way as a means to shape society. The power of myth is in its effectiveness to establish laws and leadership structures, and decision making upon society. It is that greater use of myth I feel plays a more factual role in Aikido. Rather than the smaller role of exaggerated stories of O'Sensei's live and feats, etc. that grow into mythic proportions. Myth serving the smaller role of myth where little facts exists stresses the credibility of Aikido. Where as if we focus on the greater role of myth, where its role is as historical fact, the result is greater credibility.

We all draw on different sourses of inspiration and strenght, and we find different motivation for doing what we do. That is understandable.

Last edited by Buck : 03-09-2009 at 12:30 PM.
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Old 03-09-2009, 12:48 PM   #220
Buck
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Japanese have a strong connection to nature, because of their gods and other myths. And by extension all that plays a large part in Aikido's spirituality. I understand that FWIW. But, I don't think that it is all of it, or thought to be so. The action of questioning then becomes important.
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Old 03-09-2009, 01:08 PM   #221
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
I think we need to be very careful here. Equating O Sensei with myth--and leaving it at that--is insufficient. We are dealing here with two conflicting definitions of myth.
Lewis said that Myths are "lies and therefore worthless, even though breathed through silver."

Tolkien replied that "There are truths, that are beyond us, transcendent truths, about beauty, truth, honor, etc. There are truths that man knows exist, but they cannot be seen - they are immaterial, but no less real, to us. It is only through the language of myth that we can speak of these truths."

I hold to the latter -- with due respect for the very real risks of the former.

I gather that Morihei Ueshiba did, too -- with, perhaps in his case, a bit more laxity on the former point than was entirely healthy, at times.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 03-09-2009, 02:19 PM   #222
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Who knew that a slow day at work and a few brain farts I had would create stuff like this.

I think we also have to understand the greatest power of myth is to misinform and cause harm because myths are so easily accepted.

No mechanism exists to test unbaisy the validity of the myth. It is all up to the person upon hearing the myth to accept or denying the truth of the myth. In the west it was a long held myth the earth was flat. An effective tool of persuasion often over-looked is myth.

The threat of the extinguishing a myth, proving it is not true is very threatening to those who uphold the myth. But yet, the threat itself makes the myth more resistant, provides validity, and its shelf life, and makes it stronger because we want to believe the myth. We want to perpetuate the myth without giving thought to its validity. In fact we want to continue the myth and make it stronger by adding to it, and that is its power.

All because we see ourselves in that myth do we will earnestly fight not to extinguish it. We reflect ourselves in that myth. We want to immortalize what that myth is about. Because it is myth that and be shaped and manipulated in a way that will explain what we need to ear and share. Because it gives us comfort, hope, inspiration, explanation, entertainment, etc. Power it has over others. A way to hide the truth. To keep things alive, for fear of being lost. Because there is nothing that proves myth to be other wise, i.e. the earth is flat, or it is the center of the universe. Etc. All such things so powerful to themselves that provides the validation and existence for and of myth.

Myth isn't all good, it is the great propaganda. I know Campbell and others show myth in a different light. But that isn't the only light. And when it comes down to looking for truth there are better ways then myth. It is best to understand the power of myth, and not just accept the myth. In that way, truth is easier to find. Without the truth, then want is it that we are believing in?
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Old 03-09-2009, 02:34 PM   #223
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
I think we need to be very careful here. Equating O Sensei with myth--and leaving it at that--is insufficient. We are dealing here with two conflicting definitions of myth.

1. A traditional story, either wholly or partially fictitious, providing an explanation for or embodying a popular idea concerning some natural or social phenomenon or some religious belief or ritual: specifically one involving supernatural persons, actions or events.

2. A widely held, (especially untrue or discredited popular) story or belief: a misconception; a misrepresentation of the truth; an exaggerated or idealized conception of a person, institution etc; a person, institution etc widely idealized or misrepresented.

3. Myths collectively or as a genre; the technique or habit of creating myths.

These definitions can be found on p.1876 of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary.

I have in my library three books dealing with myth in Senses 2 and 3:
The Myth of Japanese Uniqueness; Japan's Modern Myth (which is a critique of theories about the Japanese language); Japan's Modern Myths (which is a well-regarded scholarly account of how the Meiji Restoration made use of conceptions about the culture that were important, necessary, but not wholly true.

The problem here is that the 'mythical' aspects of O Sensei's life and activities are covered by Senses 1 and 2, but these aspects work in completely different ways. I think it is very important not to lump these aspects together under one idea of 'myth'. I should add that the clearest picture of myth in Sense 1 as applied to O Sensei are the biographies written by Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Kanemoto Sunadomari.

Best wishes,

PAG
Hi Peter,
Yes, thanks... I really skated between different definitions depending on the point I was trying to make at the time.

In terms of the original discussion which had to do with whether or not O-Sensei had some sort of insight or knowledge (Technical and / or Spiritual) that set him apart or in some sense above us, I was most interested in what people have chosen to belive and how that might be important.

It has been pointed out that mythological structures are culturally specific and O-Sensei, being Japanese, should be understood in that context. But these myths, perhaps created in your Sense 1 by people like Sunadomari Sensei and the Nidai Doshu traveled outside the culture. People all over the world have their own interpretations of these same myths. It has been my feeling that the Aikikai leadership has never quite understood how many foreigners felt about the figure of the Founder. The "Sense 1 Mythology" has ended up being interpreted quite differently than it was understood at home.

Anyway, it is my feeling that, as we get better and better information about the historical Founder, we may find (already are finding) that the myth doesn't totally square with known fact. Then what happens?

I think that when one stops to consider the power of an idea, in this case various ideas about the Founder, and those ideas may be shown to be be a mixed bag of fictions, misinterpretations, edited truths, and fact, then one gets to the point at which he or she might decide "Well, it might not have been true in the way I had understood it, but that way was really valuable and quite powerful. So, now that we can't put all that onto the Founder, maybe we need to take it on ourselves."

Aikido spread rapidly around the world after the war. I am firmly of the belief that a good part of the art's popularity was due to the figure of the Founder and his (perhaps or perhaps not) ideas about what the art represented (as understood by the people hearing of the Founder from hugely divergent sources).

If we decide that the ideals contained in the myth of the Founder were so powerful that large numbers of people were so strongly inspired that it caused them to devote huge effort to pursuing an art like ours, then perhaps we need to make that "myth" reality on our own training regardless of whether it was historically true. In other words, if we so wanted the myth to be true, it was because it should have been true, and maybe it is our job to make it true in our own practice. This is something we can choose to do, I think. At that point it becomes true for the individual, not due to some imputed authority given to some figure from the past but because of a reality we have created for ourselves. If that happens I would say the myth served its purpose well.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 03-09-2009, 06:28 PM   #224
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

George,

I think that one of the issues concerning 'myth' that relates to O Sensei is that he is the center of myth in both senses 1 and 2. I should add that my thinking on these issues has radically changed since I came to live here; I have became far more skeptical of the myths that have grown up--or have been propagated--concerning O Sensei (in Sense 1). Hence the columns. Remember that it was the desire to find out more about this mythical figure--the great Sensei of the senseis who taught me--that led to my decision to come and live here.

For example, the book entitled Japan's Modern Myth, referred to in my earlier post, attempts to demolish two 'myths': the 'myth' of the kokutai (Japan's national essence) and the 'myth' of kotodama. I have a copy of the 1937 Kokutai no Hongi (Fundamental Principles of the National Essence), of which millions of copies were made and which was ordered to be studied in all schools colleges. The book uses the Kojiki myths (Sense 1) to create two other myths (Sense 2): kokutai and kotodama, to build the ideology that underpinned World War II. I think that the reason why kotodama was dropped from aikido after the war is that too many wartime memories are still fresh.

A similar 'myth' (Sense 2) is the myth of the Emperor System, which derives from that of the Kokutai. Irokawa's book, cited in earlier columns, is a critical analysis of this myth from a certain viewpoint. Nevertheless, it is true that these 'myths' contribute to the 'dark shadow' hypothesis in Japanese history, which attempts to absolve ordinary Japanese people from any war responsibility ("It was not us; it was the military. We were brainwashed").

Now, questions inevitably arise about the impact of the war (and the myths--Sense 2--that led to it) on O Sensei and on aikido, since the 'golden age' of the Kobukan was almost contemporaneous with this war (1931 to 1945).

The myths of the Kojiki (and Homer and Tolkien and J K Rowling) are myths (Sense 1) because they serve a function. However, myths (Sense 2) also serve a function, which in the case of Japan has has also involved myths (Sense 1). It is undeniable that O Sensei was a part of this and this accounts for my skepticism and reluctance to use myth in aikido at all, unless it is seen to play a necessary role. There is still too much baggage connected with the term here.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 03-09-2009, 10:16 PM   #225
Buck
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Re: Who Sez O'Sensei Was Wise!

Another thing I would like to introduce to this discussion that I feel important is Tenrikyo, and its parallels to Aikido. Why do I want to do this, well because it is my firm belief what we think unique about one of O'Sensei's life experiences isn't. An experience of O'Sensei's that was similar to a previous experience of Nakayama Miki (1798-1887) the founder of Tenrikyo.

O'Sensei's religious experience shifted Aikido towards shaping, forming, its spirituality. An experience of O'Sensei's deeply rooted in Shinto, as means of validation. A similar spiritual experience of Nakayama Miki which was also rooted in Shinto. She experienced a divine revelation in form of a permanent possession by a kami. via a trance gave validity to a religion/spirituality. Miki event was also rooted in Shinto.

My point is, is that often we see O'Sensei as an island unconnected to what all Japanese are connected too. It is as if the building bricks for Aikido and what created Aikido are unique unto themselves and not connected to anything. That those bricks are not taken from anything else to build Aikido. We see O'Sensei too much like ourselves and not like who he was and what he was connected to beyond some Budo and Japanese words, hakamas, gis, and dojo design. Because of this, it causes allot of misunderstanding and misinformation concerning O'Sensei and Aikido. We have to equally put in the same effort to do the research, find the facts, etc. as we do in practice and enjoying Aikido, and not depend on that single one sourse for that information.

Last edited by Buck : 03-09-2009 at 10:19 PM.
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