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Old 01-19-2013, 06:29 AM   #1
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

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Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
The idea of conflict resolution is one of the core underpinnings of East-Asian martial arts. Many martial traditions, developed many centuries before aikido, have stories about a teacher elegantly subduing an attacker with a writing brush, a twig or a turn of the wrist. The meaning of radicals within the Japanese character, 武 ("bu") is "to stop the spear." It is legitimate, therefore, to ask how well the pedagogy of aikido, be it that of Ueshiba Morihei, or the versions of his successors, supports that goal. One cannot "stop a spear," unless one is more skillful than the attacker wielding it. Beyond that, the means deemed legitimate to resolve conflict are not apart from the social context within which they reside. Therefore, if we consider conflict resolution for people in any modern civil society, what would be the most effective and useful martial art: 1) An apparently chaotic amalgam of neo-Shinto, esoteric Buddhism and shamanistic rites, with a complex and detailed technical corpus as well as sophisticated training methods that may take years of dedication to master, all of which is taught within a closed dojo environment to only a few individuals with whom the instructor has a deep personal relationship; or 2) A martial practice that eschews the spiritual rituals for a more general metaphoric stance based on ethics, with a less demanding system of physical culture/martial arts practice, accessible to millions, a practice in which one can achieve a fairly high level of skill with only a few years? Which really fulfills the goal of 武 in the world within which we live?[xi]
Ellis Amdur
Hello Ellis,

Well, you are in good company, for Morihei Ueshiba himself states much the same thing in Aiki Shinzui.
「宇宙万生の現れの根元は魂の現れであり、愛の現れである。その根元の最も純粋な現れは合気道である。宇宙、全人類を大きく和し、一体とうなすべき本来の道で ある。
 全人類を大きく和合包摂し、総合渾一化して神人一体(合気の理)を傷つけないようにするところに、宇宙や万物の無限の発展完成が約束されている。これを成しとげる役割は 武、すなわち、戈の争いを止めさせる真の武人にこそ負わされて使命である。
真の武人、すなわち武道家は宇宙より賦課されたこの有意義な大使命を果たすことによって聖い世界を形成させることができる。これは和合であり、小さな人間の固体の内に宇宙 そのままの姿が表現されている。」(『合気神髄』, pp. 35-36.)
John Stevens gives the following translation.
“All living beings originate and are manifested by love. Aikido is the purest expression of that love. It is a means to bring all people of this world together. In order to bring people together, to unite human beings with the divine, to co-evolve, we need to tap into the unlimited creative power of existence. Bu helps us do this. Etymologically, bu means “to stop the spear,”and that is what a true warrior strives to do. A true warrior is always conscious of his noble duty to create an enlightened world. This is harmony. A single tiny human being contains the immense universe.” (The Secret Teaching of Aikido, p. 30.)

The relevant statements are in bold and you will see that Stevens does not give a precise translation. I have given the context to stress the strong Omoto flavor of the passage and to suggest that the ‘peaceful’ interpretation of BU fits the postwar idea of aikido. The discourses in Aiki Shinzui were first published in the Aikido newspaper and I have heard Hombu shihans stressing the ‘peaceful’ nature of aikido, in comparison with other martial arts, by stressing the unique meaning of Morihei Ueshiba’s ‘budo’ and pointing to the radicals as evidence of this.

Your connection of the bu radicals with conflict resolution reminded me of a discussion in E-Budo. Since E-Budo is not available and it is unclear whether there are any archives, I have found the relevant entry in Kadokawa’s Gendai Kanjigo Jiten.

「武 会意。「止」(人の足跡)と「戈」(ほこ・武器)とからなり、武器を持って進軍することを表す。もとは「戦争」の意。引いて「勇気」の意味に使われる。
古くは、「戈」(武器)の使用を「止」めるのが真の「武」(勇気)である、とする説があったが、「止」の意味を取り違えた誤りである。」
“BU Kaii (= a character formed from meaningful components). Combining 止 (a person’s footprint) with 戈 (hoko – a weapon), shows military advance holding a weapon. The original sense is ‘warfare’. A derivative meaning is ‘courage’. In the distant past, there was the explanation that ‘stopping by the use of a weapon’ was the base meaning of BU ( = courage), but this was a mistake based on a different interpretation of the meaning of 止.” (『現代漢字語辞典』, p. 1279.

There was some discussion in the E-budo thread as to when the different interpretations were made, of course, by the Chinese. But this discussion would have to have happened well after the character became a word in the language, with a definite meaning. To see the fragility of the reasoning here, consider another example.

In the passage by Morihei Ueshiba, quoted above, another term appears, which is composed of the same radicals as BU. The compound word is 賦課 FUKA and the dictionary definition is ‘levy’ or ‘assessment’. So we should be able to give a similar analysis to the first character, FU, which contains the BU combination of radicals, 戈 and 止, plus one other, 貝, which means ‘shellfish’ or ‘shell’. FU means ‘tribute’, ‘payment’, ‘installment’. But how do we analyze the combination of radicals? Shellfish stopping spears? Stopping spears with shellfish? The character appears on p. 1278 of the same dictionary, but, alas, there is no analysis comparable to the one I quoted for BU.

Best wishes,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 01-19-2013 at 06:35 AM.

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Old 01-19-2013, 07:52 AM   #2
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
「武 会意。「止」(人の足跡)と「戈」(ほこ・武器)とからなり、武器を持って進軍することを表す。もとは「戦争」の意。引いて「勇気」の意味に使われる。
古くは、「戈」(武器)の使用を「止」めるのが真の「武」(勇気)である、とする説があったが、「止」の意味を取り違えた誤りである。」
“BU Kaii (= a character formed from meaningful components). Combining 止 (a person’s footprint) with 戈 (hoko – a weapon), shows military advance holding a weapon. The original sense is ‘warfare’. A derivative meaning is ‘courage’.
In the distant past, there was the explanation that ‘stopping by the use of a weapon’ was the base meaning of BU ( = courage), but this was a mistake based on a different interpretation of the meaning of 止.” (『現代漢字語辞典』, p. 1279.
EDIT. There is a surplus 'by' in the above passage, which should read ‘stopping the use of a weapon.’ In other words, the revised base meaning of BU, and courage displayed, is stopping the one who is using the weapon.

However, as the second example shows, all you have are two (or three) radicals, with a hypothesis on the logic of the combination, but the logic behind the combination of the radicals is not identical to the meaning of the word in the language.

PAG

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Old 01-19-2013, 10:18 PM   #3
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Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

Peter - this is a very interesting point - and thank you for bringing it up.

The Chinese military pioneered formation spear fighting in Asia, and I can readily visualize the stepping of spearmen to be an archetypal image.

However, the statement among Japanese about Bu being composed of stopping hoko is a truism, cliche - and I heard it over and over. (no idea if the Chinese also do this).

As Karl Friday, among a number of newer historians of the bugei have pointed out, what are now referred to as koryu were not primarily military training, almost from their inception. The "blood oaths" upon entry are all about <not-fighting> - rather than fighting. The bugei were as much means of social control as they were combative training.
Somewhere, I believe, in Japan at least, this cliche developed because it suited the image of training of bushi for social control: which had two components - control of society and control of self.

I am actually reminded of Donn Draeger. When he inaugurated his re-development of the field of hoplology, he took delight in inquiring of his audiences who did a "martial art" and when people would raise their hand, he'd ask, "what?" And upon the reply of karate, he'd say, "that's a civilian peasant art." And kung fu - "those are merchant peacetime combatives." And on and on and then he'd assert that as martial was a word derived from the god Mars - the Roman god of warfare - only an art geared for the battlefield and practiced by hereditary warriors qualified. He refused to accept that the word changed its meaning (and in fact, マルシアル アーツ , when he was in Japan, meant kick boxing, MMA to the Japanese, which I delighted in pointing out to him).

I used to irritate Donn immensely when I would suggest that he needed to refer to such ryu as Maniwa Nen-ryu, which assert to be purely defensive, as Athenic-arts or Minervic-arts, because she, in both her Greek and Roman incarnations, was the goddess of defensive warfare. He was not amused, particularly when I insisted how essential accuracy in terminology needed to be.


And in point of fact, Donn was incorrect on a lot of levels. First of all, by the mid-Edo period, what we call koryu were full of non-bushi. And considerable evidence continues to be amassed that bugei were not primarily battlefield training, anyway. Rather, they were originally created as avocations of perfection by the warrior class to imbue certain values, increasingly to prepare for duels, and to maintain a level of combative readiness.

Anyway, Ueshiba and myself as well were, if incorrect in actual etymology, voicing a cultural shibboleth held in common by most.

I believe, by the way, that when kanji were first developed, cowrie and other shells were actually media of exchange - in this sense, 賦 - as shells and war = tribute or levy actually makes sense.

Best
Ellis

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 01-19-2013 at 10:22 PM.

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Old 01-20-2013, 03:43 AM   #4
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

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Anyway, Ueshiba and myself as well were, if incorrect in actual etymology, voicing a cultural shibboleth held in common by most.
Yes. I have had many such discussions with Japanese colleagues and without exception they stressed the eminently peaceful nature of 武, even if they did not always voice the common belief about the relationship between the radicals that make up the character. One of the clearest expressions I have read about the peaceful nature of 武 is the section entitled 「武の精神」, Bu no seishin, in the wartime Kokutai no Hongi tract (p. 52 in the text I have). It contains the same noble aspirations about the peaceful nature of warfare and the ethical obligations incumbent on the warrior as Morihei Ueshiba states in the text I quoted.

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Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
I believe, by the way, that when kanji were first developed, cowrie and other shells were actually media of exchange - in this sense, 賦 - as shells and war = tribute or levy actually makes sense.
The ancient meaning of the character 貝 is given as 子安貝 koyasugai, cowrie, and the explanation given is that the character was derived from a direct pictograph of the shell, with the following explanation of its provenance, which is more or less as you stated (hence, no translation).

古代中国では南海に産する子安貝が貴重視され、貨幣としての役目よも果たしたことから、広く「財産」また「宝物」の意を表す。

However, 貝 itself is not used to mean 'money' etc and the radical itself has gone through what William G Boltz calls the ‘determinative' stage, when semantic items were added, in order to specify the meaning, as in 財 (ZAI, wealth), 貢 (KOU, KU, tribute), 貨 (KA, goods), 費 (HI, expenses), 貿 (BOU, exchange) etc.

For me the issue is more strictly an issue of linguistics and the relationship of 貝 and 武 in the character 賦 seems less controversial than that between 戈 and 止 in 武 itself.

As for conflict resolution, I once conducted a simulation exercise in one of my cross-cultural negotiation classes and asked the students to describe the unexpressed ‘frame' with which they entered the negotiations (which were diplomatic negotiations over a controversial issue). The Chinese students quoted Sun-Tzu and unanimously stated, ‘Know your enemy.' The American students stated, ‘Enter a courtship' and stressed the importance of ‘win-win' in the negotiations. The Japanese students stated, ‘See which way the wind is blowing and then decide acccordingly.'

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:09 AM   #5
Tore Eriksson
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Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

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Hello Ellis,
In the passage by Morihei Ueshiba, quoted above, another term appears, which is composed of the same radicals as BU. The compound word is 賦課 FUKA and the dictionary definition is ‘levy’ or ‘assessment’. So we should be able to give a similar analysis to the first character, FU, which contains the BU combination of radicals, 戈 and 止, plus one other, 貝, which means ‘shellfish’ or ‘shell’. FU means ‘tribute’, ‘payment’, ‘installment’. But how do we analyze the combination of radicals? Shellfish stopping spears? Stopping spears with shellfish? The character appears on p. 1278 of the same dictionary, but, alas, there is no analysis comparable to the one I quoted for BU.
Deriving from 漢字源:

武 is running (止) around wielding a halberd (矛), looking for enemies.
賦 is running (止) around, presumably still wielding a halberd (矛), looking for money (貝).

A character slightly more difficult to explain would be
鵡 (tinplate)
which was apparently made up from scratch from the sound of dutch blik...
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:55 AM   #6
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Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
As for conflict resolution, I once conducted a simulation exercise in one of my cross-cultural negotiation classes and asked the students to describe the unexpressed ‘frame' with which they entered the negotiations (which were diplomatic negotiations over a controversial issue). The Chinese students quoted Sun-Tzu and unanimously stated, ‘Know your enemy.' The American students stated, ‘Enter a courtship' and stressed the importance of ‘win-win' in the negotiations. The Japanese students stated, ‘See which way the wind is blowing and then decide acccordingly.'
,
Excuse me for butting in and I do not want to distract from the excellent niveau of this thread.

But this clearly points to the fact, how difficult an intercultural exchange about what at first sight may have appeared to be a common idea ( e.g. internal training) can get. And it's certainly not all and only about semantics.

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Old 01-20-2013, 07:00 PM   #7
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Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

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Tore Eriksson wrote: View Post
A character slightly more difficult to explain would be
鵡 (tinplate)
which was apparently made up from scratch from the sound of dutch blik...
Really?

A variation of 鵡 is 鸚. This time, instead of 武 on the left side you have 嬰, which brings us back to 貝 again, this time with 女. (Also from 漢字源, p. 1742.)

(Ellis, apologies for the thread drift.)

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 01-20-2013 at 07:03 PM.

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Old 01-20-2013, 07:41 PM   #8
Ellis Amdur
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Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

Peter - no worries - cultural memes, even small ones, are salient points in any discussion such as this one. I'll be correcting the original essay to take this into account.
Ellis

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Old 01-20-2013, 08:33 PM   #9
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Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

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Bernd Lehnen wrote: View Post
Excuse me for butting in and I do not want to distract from the excellent niveau of this thread.

But this clearly points to the fact, how difficult an intercultural exchange about what at first sight may have appeared to be a common idea ( e.g. internal training) can get. And it's certainly not all and only about semantics.
In my opinion -- this is a source of the problems in finding consistent and common conceptual grounding on these issues. Eastern traditional concepts of physical nature -- do not map well onto the Western concepts of physical nature.

The Chinese and Japanese have adopted and deployed Western idioms in technical fields to great (and even quite creative) effect. Their traditional concepts, which of course, for them need no translation at all, seem, by and large, to present them with no notable urge to make their traditional understandings intelligible in Western physical terms.

Hence, in their settings, the two systems live in parallel, almost not even affecting one another in terms of how people communicate what they mean. For a cultural native -- it is seamless to move between them. For a non-native it is very difficult even to frame intelligible questions to get at a distinction that is little noticed by natives. Like trying to ask a colorblind person to understand how they perceive the difference between green and red -- whatever differences they perceive are not the difference you are trying to get at. Worse even, the native may see the distinction raised as being purely situational, such that trying to compare them seems almost nonsensical. One does not need to wonder what relation the day's baseball line-up has to the daily train schedule -- even though both are ways of scheduling things on the same day. For our purposes, however the distinction is acute.

For this very reason -- I find much to be gained from O Sensei's poetical Doka -- and his reliance on mythic figures drawn from Kojiki. The poetic work relies on concrete images -- which offer a consistent patterns or relationship and action to interpret. Mythic images give similar descriptions of natural forces in operation -- seen in traditional culture as the acts of the kami. Much of value is to be found there when they are read in this light -- looking for the pattern in the concrete images and actions.

These concrete things and actions and their relationships -- when extracted from the matirix of their phrasing in poetical and mythic imagery -- can neverthless be captured and considered directly in Western physical terms. This dispenses with the need of the intervening cultural translation to discern how the two systems would consider the same thing (and which has a further problem in the perhaps unwarranted assumption that they necessarily are considering the same thing in the first place).

FWIW.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 01-20-2013, 08:42 PM   #10
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Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

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Tore Eriksson wrote: View Post
Deriving from 漢字源:

武 is running (止) around wielding a halberd (矛), looking for enemies.
賦 is running (止) around, presumably still wielding a halberd (矛), looking for money (貝).

A character slightly more difficult to explain would be
鵡 (tinplate)
which was apparently made up from scratch from the sound of dutch blik...
Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Really?

A variation of 鵡 is 鸚. This time, instead of 武 on the left side you have 嬰, which brings us back to 貝 again, this time with 女. (Also from 漢字源, p. 1742.)

(Ellis, apologies for the thread drift.)
Aggrevating the thread drift...
My mistake, I copied-and-pasted the wrong kanji. It was supposed to be 錻, not 鵡.
Sorry for writing incomprehensible drivel, I promise to stop now!
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Old 01-20-2013, 10:23 PM   #11
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

Well, I did wonder what tin plates had to do with parrots...

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Old 01-21-2013, 09:41 AM   #12
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Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

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Peter - no worries - cultural memes, even small ones, are salient points in any discussion such as this one. I'll be correcting the original essay to take this into account.
Ellis
Ellis, just to make it clear to me.
Did you mean memes to be the plural of meme, a tonening imitation of the ancient Greek mimea which in itself means imitation, or rather, what is to be passed on and achieved by imitation, like cultural behaviour or traditional behaviour, all of which is not innate behaviour?

If so, this might well become the starting point for a completely new column, unless you or Peter Goldsbury decide, that this as a topic in itself has already been discussed elsewhere in abundance. Then, I would be interested in the wheres. Anyway, it will be no less interesting to see you incorporating these memes more explicitly into the existing essay and see them discussed in this context.

I'll be looking forward to it.

Bernd
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:55 AM   #13
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Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

A meme is an idea that spreads from person to person within a culture - For example, I first heard the idea about Bu as "stopping the spear" in a meeting of the Kobudo Shinkokai, in a little speech given by Kuroda Ichitaro, of Shindo Muso-ryu jo. He spoke about the question on whether it was "self-defense" (stopping another's spear) or "forbearance" (withholding the action of one's own spear). After hearing this, I began to pass on the idea, as exemplified in my essay. See Wikipedia for more on memes.

I would like to continue this discussion in the language section, so I'll be starting a new thread there.

Ellis Amdur

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Old 01-21-2013, 11:06 AM   #14
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Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

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Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
A meme is an idea that spreads from person to person within a culture - For example, I first heard the idea about Bu as "stopping the spear" in a meeting of the Kobudo Shinkokai, in a little speech given by Kuroda Ichitaro, of Shindo Muso-ryu jo. He spoke about the question on whether it was "self-defense" (stopping another's spear) or "forbearance" (withholding the action of one's own spear). After hearing this, I began to pass on the idea, as exemplified in my essay. See Wikipedia for more on memes.

I would like to continue this discussion in the language section, so I'll be starting a new thread there.

Ellis Amdur
Thank you, Ellis.
Although a little m literally slipped into my keyboard, we touch on the same idea.
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:19 AM   #15
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

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Ellis, just to make it clear to me.
Did you mean memes to be the plural of meme, a tonening imitation of the ancient Greek mimea which in itself means imitation, or rather, what is to be passed on and achieved by imitation, like cultural behaviour or traditional behaviour, all of which is not innate behaviour?

If so, this might well become the starting point for a completely new column, unless you or Peter Goldsbury decide, that this as a topic in itself has already been discussed elsewhere in abundance. Then, I would be interested in the wheres. Anyway, it will be no less interesting to see you incorporating these memes more explicitly into the existing essay and see them discussed in this context.

I'll be looking forward to it.

Bernd
Hello Mr Lehnen,

I did my academic training in the US before Dawkins wrote his book and before the concept was popularized at the hands of Hofstater and Dennett. (When I was at Harvard, Dennett had written only Content and Consciousness and he used this text in his course.) So memes, whether selfish or altruistic, never penetrated as far as the Department of Classics, where I was.

So I regard the concept as a hypothesis or a metaphor that might have some explanatory value. However, I am not convinced it has any ‘cash value' as a ‘scientific' term and to call a certain way of thinking a meme (perhaps another example might be the phlogiston theory), is not to endow that thinking with any particular qualities, other than that it occurs: some people think in this way, in the same way that some people buy a particular kind of dog food or wear a particular brand of jeans.

Anyway, if Ellis creates a new thread, I suppose that Jun will move this post there, along with all the other interesting stuff about shells, tin plates and parrots.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 01-22-2013, 06:10 AM   #16
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Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

Thank you, Professor Goldsbury.

How do you do?

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Hello Mr Lehnen,

I did my academic training in the US before Dawkins wrote his book and before the concept was popularized at the hands of Hofstater and Dennett. (When I was at Harvard, Dennett had written only Content and Consciousness and he used this text in his course.) So memes, whether selfish or altruistic, never penetrated as far as the Department of Classics, where I was.
As I was brought up in one of the late Humboldtian Humanistic Gymnasiums, I had to keep up with some ancient Greek, a long time ago.
Anyway, somehow, the outer similarity of meme with mimema clicked in. I thought it funny that "meme" should be kind of acoustic imitation of an ancient Greek word "mimema" which in itself contained the idea of "imitation", and the whole thing didn't even seem to be too fare fetched.
To my mind, Ellis's reply doesn't sweep it completely off the table

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So I regard the concept as a hypothesis or a metaphor that might have some explanatory value. However, I am not convinced it has any ‘cash value' as a ‘scientific' term and to call a certain way of thinking a meme (perhaps another example might be the phlogiston theory), is not to endow that thinking with any particular qualities, other than that it occurs: some people think in this way, in the same way that some people buy a particular kind of dog food or wear a particular brand of jeans.

Anyway, if Ellis creates a new thread, I suppose that Jun will move this post there, along with all the other interesting stuff about shells, tin plates and parrots.

Best wishes,

PAG
I have to agree, but am I to perceive a subtle dig here?

Really, I'll be happy to go on reading there.

Bernd
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:46 AM   #17
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

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Bernd Lehnen wrote: View Post
Thank you, Professor Goldsbury.

How do you do?

As I was brought up in one of the late Humboldtian Humanistic Gymnasiums, I had to keep up with some ancient Greek, a long time ago.
Anyway, somehow, the outer similarity of meme with mimema clicked in. I thought it funny that "meme" should be kind of acoustic imitation of an ancient Greek word "mimema" which in itself contained the idea of "imitation", and the whole thing didn't even seem to be too fare fetched.
To my mind, Ellis's reply doesn't sweep it completely off the table.
Of course. The term has become too well established to be swept off the table. To my mind, it is like the concept of metaphor. The term has a rather different meaning in Japanese from the way it is used by, for example, Lakoff and Johnson. In fact, the Japanese translation of Metaphors We Live By is an interesting example of how translation does not quite succeed. Metaphors are brilliant devices, but it is rather hard to explain how they actually work.

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Bernd Lehnen wrote: View Post
I have to agree, but am I to perceive a subtle dig here?
No. I read with profit J T Burman's essay, which is cited in the Wikipedia article Ellis refers to.

Best wishes,

PAG

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 01-22-2013 at 06:49 AM.

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Old 01-22-2013, 12:07 PM   #18
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Re: On Kanji, 「武」, and Memes

Peter, first of all, I've revised that passage in the essay, making conditional what was absolute.

More generally, one of my favorite quotes from Maurice Merleau-Ponty is "words are sublimated flesh." Sublimation is originally a term from alchemy, meaning something that is dried - all moisture removed - so that only the essence remains. This is certainly applicable to a discussion on kanji.

To cite an example, we have a kusarigama kata in Toda-ha Buko-ryu (THBR), washigaeshi - 鷲返. Nitta sensei misread the first character as Ougaeshi 鸚返, which means "parrot reversal." I do not recall if the document she was reading was a blur, or if she was simply careless that day, but for many years, ougaeshi it became. We retained the correct kanji, but misread it and misunderstood it.
THBR kata names have encoded (sublimated) images that help understand the meaning of the kata, how it is executed, etc. This, however, was bewildering. The character is Chinese in origin, to be sure, but there are no native Chinese or Japanese parrots. There are parrots in the South Pacific, where China traded. At any rate, there are no logical connections between parrot behavior and the kata that we could see, and given how unusual such a bird was, what a strange choice for a kata name!

Our oldest scroll in the Tokyo line of THBR, is clearly 鷲返. The first character means "black eagle" or "vulture" in Chinese, and simply, eagle in Japanese.

Years later, I researched all of our remaining makimono - and looked carefully at those from the Chichibu line of THBR, where the ryu was born. Here is the actual writing in one of the oldest makimono we have. Here's a more modern transcription. I could not find it in any Japanese or Chinese data bases. A scholar of old Japanese informed me that it was probably a variant on Kiji And the closest kanji we could find was 鷕, which in Chinese means, "The cry of the female pheasant." (NOTE: We've had a female pheasant visiting daily - actually a ring-neck, which are from Japan, and I've been studying it. Very cautious, but when harassed by a squirrel, chases it away, and suddenly blasts upwards into flight).

The kata we are concerned with is part of our betsuden, sets of kata that were revived after a hiatus of perhaps 100 years. (For those curious how this was done, see my essay, "Renovation and Innovation in Tradition," in KEIKO SHOKON, V. 3) Because these kata were revived, we had to make an "executive decision" on which kanji reading we should use. A close examination of the kata showed that what was required was a rapid plunging downward attack, rather than an explosion upwards. We act like an eagle rather than a pheasant. Therefore, we retained the reading from our Tokyo line - 鷲返 - "Eagle reversal."

Some might find this quite pedantic - and I suppose it is, though I personally find it all quite fascinating. However, beyond that, the image "enlivens" the kata, by a method that I refer to as "shapeshifting," in which one attempts to embody the image. From the experience of practitioners within the ryu, the names are truly sublimated flesh, holding vital information on execution.

NOTE: It is a fair assumption - though we will never know - that the kata of the Chichibu line, kijigaeshi, was different in execution. However, one may cavil that it is quite possibly the result of a misreading of the kanji. If Nitta sensei could see "washi" and read "ou," then it's certainly possible that all this is merely an error. However, just as 武 has attained an errant life of its own as "stopping a spear," so too, it is possible that the error in reading that led to the kata becoming washigaeshi created the waza in its current form. In short, technique evokes imagery, but imagery becomes form, just as the sublimated powder of the alchemist, moistened, takes substance based, not only on the alchemist's intent, but also due to the impurities within the substance.

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Old 01-23-2013, 05:44 AM   #19
Bernd Lehnen
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Re: A Consideration of Aikido Practice within the Context of Internal Training

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In my opinion -- this is a source of the problems in finding consistent and common conceptual grounding on these issues. Eastern traditional concepts of physical nature -- do not map well onto the Western concepts of physical nature.

The Chinese and Japanese have adopted and deployed Western idioms in technical fields to great (and even quite creative) effect. Their traditional concepts, which of course, for them need no translation at all, seem, by and large, to present them with no notable urge to make their traditional understandings intelligible in Western physical terms.

Hence, in their settings, the two systems live in parallel, almost not even affecting one another in terms of how people communicate what they mean.
What with tinplates and parrots.

(Caveat: I'm neither too deep into Japanese, nor any language, and I'm far off any linguistic expert.)

Even a simple sound as "ai" can have many connotations all over the world. This can range from a soothing, soft-spoken "ai" to a more pronounced "ai!" (here with the attribute of a first "meme" in the form of the exclamation mark) which may be an expression of surprise, a reaction to something that hurts or even may express anger or denial.

In the context of a cultural thing as aikido we may also use it for ideas ranging from, say, to meet, fit in, up to harmony and even for taking the long road to love.
Adding in the use of Kanji, which are, if you like, also "memes" or metaphoric, we will see that, the sound not changing, the pictograms or kanji will change. Moreover, depending on context and while other kanji/memes are added, to create related or completely new ideas, even the original sound may now change.

Enough of this. It's getting fussy.

But perhaps we can see how a process like this may contribute to and undermine our discussions in the context of aikido and its related topics. May be, hence an all too frequent undercurrent of subliminal misunderstanding.

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
In fact, the Japanese translation of Metaphors We Live By is an interesting example of how translation does not quite succeed. Metaphors are brilliant devices, but it is rather hard to explain how they actually work.
Maybe, this thread is going to allocate tinplates and parrots their place.
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:19 AM   #20
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: On Kanji, 「武」, and Memes

I am putting this here, although it relates to the thread on Kenji Tomiki and isometrics. The issue is the correct reading of kanji. In an earlier post I referred to Tomiki's mention of 大道芸人, but the precise phrase he used was 大道の安芸人. The reference has nothing to do with 安芸人 and the correct reading is daidou no yasugeinin: street performers who resort to, not just tricks, but cheap and tawdry tricks (an acceptable term being 安っぽい: yasuppoi).

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