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Old 12-12-2020, 03:59 AM   #1
StefanHultberg
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What is power?

Just read a few articles about "internal power", so disappointing. I wish those who are interested in aikido would search for wisdom, insight, or enlightenment rather than power. One of the stated purposes of aikido, according to the founder, is spreading love - seems forgotten sometimes. Yes, power indeed, but what about love, empathy, care, understanding, forgiveness, reconciliation etc. Aikido has so much good to give, but it seems a lot of people, even very high ranking aikidoka, seem to be content with the little shrimp entree rather than the main course - not to speak of the wonderful desert. Have we entered an age of aikido myopathy??

Raise your eyes, raise your expectations, aikido is so much more than right and left - and "internal power".

All the best
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Old 12-14-2020, 05:55 PM   #2
Ellis Amdur
 
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Re: What is power?

Quote:
Then he said, 'Before you go, is there anything you want to ask me?' So I simply said, 'O-sensei. What is aikido?' He responded by saying, 'Well, let me write it down for you and someday you can read it and understand.' What he wrote were the words: 'intellectual training, physical training, virtue training, ki training - these produce practical wisdom.' He added that it wouldn't do for even one of those to be missing, that lacking any one of them would render anything for naught, and inevitably slow one's overall development. One must, he told me, always maintain a harmonious balance among these.
Mariye Takahashi

O-sensei was very clear. Love was not all there is. Intellectual wisdom is the ability to think critically, in the sense of being able to evaluate truth, falsehood and nuance. Physical training is all the technique. Virtue training - morality - is that by which love could be expressed. [Putting aside all that I could write about what 'love' meant to a man such as Ueshiba]. And note the forth - by 'ki training,' he explicitly means internal power.

An intellectual, no matter how brilliant is not doing O-sensei's aikido.
A physical wonder is not doing O-sensei's aikido.
A wonderful person expressing, as you say, "love, empathy, care, understanding, forgiveness, reconciliation" Is not doing O-sensei's aikido.
A person obsessively pursuing internal strength to the exclusion of all else is not doing O-sensei's aikido.

Let me jump to a salient conclusion. A person of intellectual brilliance, with incredible waza, who expresses "love, empathy, care, understanding, forgiveness, reconciliation" is not doing O-sensei's aikido - if they lack skill in Internal Strength.

And furthermore, O-sensei emphasized the balance of these four.
So, A person who has all for components, but is overly intellectual, or is overly technically obsessed, or who is busy expressing "love, empathy, care, understanding, forgiveness, reconciliation" and not practicing enough, or who had not extensively trained the kind of KI, internal strength that O-sensei said was absolutely necessary, is not doing O-sensei's aikido.

Remember the stories of O-sensei storming in the dojo shouting "That's not my aikido." Knowing the Aikikai of the time, that would have been waza dominant. But I bet he would storm in a love and reconciliation dojo, that had anemic waza, or a lack of training in Daito-ryu derived aiki, and shout the same thing. In fact, after this overly intellectualized text, I expect Ueshiba to storm in here too and shout the same thing, slamming emoji's left and right.

Happy Vaccine Year to All

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Old 12-17-2020, 02:37 PM   #3
jonreading
 
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Re: What is power?

I am not sure how to read this, so I will just throw out a few comments that came to mind...

I am not sure how the alphabet soup of every positive trait was ascribed to aikido. Nor am I aware of some omnipotence who assigned a value to these traits by which to qualify one over the other. Finally, I am pretty certain those of us who train aikido are not inherently imbued with those desirable traits, anyhow. Myopathy, indeed.

To the question of the thread, What is power?... I am reminded of a kids say the darnedest things that goes something like this:
Q: What is a pacifist?
A: That's what you call yourself when someone takes your things.
Humorous and innocent, yet surprisingly astute. Without the power to stop someone from taking your things, how can you make a choice to let them? Power, in any form we choose to motivate our bodies, is a fundamental precondition of most [any] physical pursuit. Ignoring its importance is poor training at best.

So why is internal power training in a competitive marketplace with philosophy? Spirituality? How are the two not inclusive of each other, if not [actually] supportive? Why is your [external] power not in conflict with your spirituality?

Jon Reading
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Old 12-17-2020, 02:48 PM   #4
Ellis Amdur
 
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Pacifism

Hi John -

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I am reminded of a kids say the darnedest things that goes something like this:
Q: What is a pacifist?
A: That's what you call yourself when someone takes your things.
You bring to mind the only powerful pacifist I ever met in my life. He had been psychologically and physically tortured by his father throughout his childhood, until he escaped at the age of 15. He swore that he would never do anything to anyone like his father did to him, and he interpreted this as any act of violence or psychological aggression, whatever the provocation or cause - because, as he put it, "Everyone has a good excuse."

He intervened in a violent assault in the Paris subway, where one man was beating another to a bloody pulp. He stepped between them. The man punched him in the face. He just looked at him. The man punched him again. He continued to look in his eyes. The man started yelling at him, "Fight me! Fight me!" He just looked in his eyes. The man punched him again (he had a broken nose by that point, and his mouth was bloody, the other man cowering on the ground). He just looked at him. The man raised his fist, trembling and then burst into tears and ran away.

I was truly moved by this story, but I asked him, "What would you have done if he had pulled out a knife and started to stab you. . . . . . .and, he raised an eyebrow, and looked in my eyes.

That's not me. I don't agree that what he does is the right choice. But I admire him more than I can say.

Ellis Amdur

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Old 01-04-2021, 12:49 AM   #5
StefanHultberg
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Re: What is power?

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Mariye Takahashi

O-sensei was very clear. Love was not all there is. Intellectual wisdom is the ability to think critically, in the sense of being able to evaluate truth, falsehood and nuance. Physical training is all the technique. Virtue training - morality - is that by which love could be expressed. [Putting aside all that I could write about what 'love' meant to a man such as Ueshiba]. And note the forth - by 'ki training,' he explicitly means internal power.

An intellectual, no matter how brilliant is not doing O-sensei's aikido.
A physical wonder is not doing O-sensei's aikido.
A wonderful person expressing, as you say, "love, empathy, care, understanding, forgiveness, reconciliation" Is not doing O-sensei's aikido.
A person obsessively pursuing internal strength to the exclusion of all else is not doing O-sensei's aikido.

Let me jump to a salient conclusion. A person of intellectual brilliance, with incredible waza, who expresses "love, empathy, care, understanding, forgiveness, reconciliation" is not doing O-sensei's aikido - if they lack skill in Internal Strength.

And furthermore, O-sensei emphasized the balance of these four.
So, A person who has all for components, but is overly intellectual, or is overly technically obsessed, or who is busy expressing "love, empathy, care, understanding, forgiveness, reconciliation" and not practicing enough, or who had not extensively trained the kind of KI, internal strength that O-sensei said was absolutely necessary, is not doing O-sensei's aikido.

Remember the stories of O-sensei storming in the dojo shouting "That's not my aikido." Knowing the Aikikai of the time, that would have been waza dominant. But I bet he would storm in a love and reconciliation dojo, that had anemic waza, or a lack of training in Daito-ryu derived aiki, and shout the same thing. In fact, after this overly intellectualized text, I expect Ueshiba to storm in here too and shout the same thing, slamming emoji's left and right.

Happy Vaccine Year to All
Dear Ellis Sensei

Thank you very much for taking the time to write this reply. I am so happy to see the word balance, showing the richness of "power". I think you are expressing my point I was trying to make - any aspect of power taken in isolation is not O-Sensei's aikido. En passant, though, it seems like several aspects of O-Sensei's aikido are either not understood or ignored by large swathes of the aikido community.

Power can be physical - right and left. It can be mental - how to handle a conflict with the chairman of the board. It can be social/spiritual - how do I forgive my enemy. Personally I think the power to be loving, to be forgiving is at least as important as the physical aspect of power. Power which is only physical is not worth a lot. Power which covers the wholeness is worth pursuing.

Thank you so much for your input!!!

Stefan
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Old 01-04-2021, 09:38 PM   #6
Peter Goldsbury
 
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Re: What is power?

Hello Ellis,

I do not think the Aikikai Hombu has changed very much. It is still waza dominant, but the different instructors might well emphasize certain aspects of the art and not others. Doshu, however, always does basic waza and he once told me directly that this was his mission as Doshu. He added that there were many waza that he would like to show--but never could.

I can see his point, for in my own dojo the oldest member is 88 and the youngest are two twins aged 9, who regularly come with their father. I have to cater for everybody, but also give everybody targets that they can pursue with profit. Is this spiritual? Is this internal training? Probably, but I do not really care. A very close friend of mine, who runs the dojo with me, recently told me that I sometimes do things that he can understand, but cannot do, but which other students told me that they do not understand. They are to do with kuzushi, the initial unbalancing of the opponent. However, there are certain waza that I cannot really do unless I split the class and have a separate dojo for yudansha.

I knew Kisshomaru Doshu and occasionally took his ukemi. There was a precision there, perhaps like a surgeon performing an operation. Incidentally, I can imagine Kisshomaru's reaction to his father's outbursts: "Ah. He's having a bad day today." (With the slightest hint of a shrug of the shoulders.)

Best wishes for 2021.

PAG

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 01-04-2021 at 09:41 PM.

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Old 01-04-2021, 09:42 PM   #7
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Re: What is power?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Is this spiritual? Is this internal training? Probably, but I do not really care.

PAG
I love this statement.
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Old 01-04-2021, 10:41 PM   #8
Ellis Amdur
 
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Re: What is power?

Quote:
Incidentally, I can imagine Kisshomaru's reaction to his father's outbursts: "Ah. He's having a bad day today." (With the slightest hint of a shrug of the shoulders.)
And this, Peter, is the statement that I love

Happy 2021 to you too, my friend

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Old 01-05-2021, 03:25 PM   #9
StefanHultberg
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Re: What is power?

Dear all

So what IS power, true power?

Anyone

All the best, thank you for the feedback !!!

Stefan
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Old 01-05-2021, 09:05 PM   #10
Peter Goldsbury
 
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Re: What is power?

Quote:
Stefan Hultberg wrote: View Post
Dear all

So what IS power, true power?

Anyone

All the best, thank you for the feedback !!!

Stefan
I think you answered your own questions above, in Post #5.

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Old 01-06-2021, 03:08 AM   #11
StefanHultberg
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Re: What is power?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
I think you answered your own questions above, in Post #5.
😇😉

All the best!!

Stefan
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Old 06-03-2021, 05:27 PM   #12
mathewjgano
 
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Re: What is power?

Power is work done.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 06-05-2021, 09:26 AM   #13
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: What is power?

Power is not so important...blending is the answer.

Mary Eastland

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Old 06-07-2021, 04:14 PM   #14
Bernd Lehnen
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Re: What is power?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Power is not so important...blending is the answer.
To what?
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Old 06-08-2021, 07:48 PM   #15
Eric Jones
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Re: What is power?

I think she means using their momentum against them.
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Old 06-10-2021, 06:26 PM   #16
mathewjgano
 
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Re: What is power?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Power is not so important...blending is the answer.
I think it depends on how we look at it, Mary.

In my opinion power is work done; another way of thinking of that phrase is that it is a matter of what we accomplish. Meeting energy can mean I still take control in net effect.

Blending can mean attenuating our own effect or it can mean empowering ourselves further. I'm sure it can mean more than I've thought of there.

What do you mean?

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 06-11-2021, 04:53 PM   #17
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Re: What is power?

What I mean, is that in the aikido that I practice I seek not to over power uke but to use the energy offered and blending with it to resolution.

Mary Eastland

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Old 06-13-2021, 09:33 AM   #18
Bernd Lehnen
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Re: What is power?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
What I mean, is that in the aikido that I practice I seek not to over power uke but to use the energy offered and blending with it to resolution.
This is also a very nice description of good judo ...

Best,
Bernd
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Old 08-09-2021, 12:44 AM   #19
Chris Li
 
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Re: What is power?

There's really nothing to feel sad about, unless you're feeling sad about Morihei Ueshiba, since he often used the word "power" to talk about physical manifestations of power in his art, all the way through the 1960's.

Actually, the internal arts, the ones that often talk about internal power, are also often associated with various forms of personal development, so the whole point in the OP is really a straw man, IMO.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-10-2021, 06:43 AM   #20
Bernd Lehnen
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Re: What is power?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
There's really nothing to feel sad about, unless you're feeling sad about Morihei Ueshiba, since he often used the word "power" to talk about physical manifestations of power in his art, all the way through the 1960's.

Actually, the internal arts, the ones that often talk about internal power, are also often associated with various forms of personal development, so the whole point in the OP is really a straw man, IMO.

Best,

Chris
Hello Chris,

So true.
In the texts that you have made available to us and which I recognize as authentic, there is neither a pacifist nor a wimp, but a consistency of the position of strength. It's always about power and when someone like him says: "Get them before they get you", then that is not what some, even many, would like to see in him here.
If a profound change has occurred in Aikido in order to make everything more digestible for the general public and also better accessible to a broader public and at the same time to correspond to the post-war zeitgeist, then I think it starts more with his son Kisshomaru and also Tohei, to name just about two developers of today's trademark Aikido.

If OSensei had been a German of the Third Reich, he would not have been forgiven for much of his past (quite rightly) to this day. Therefore, his deification as an unattainable moral model for the world IMHO is completely inappropriate, but this should not diminish his extraordinary development and achievements.

As can be seen from your texts and if I have understood it correctly, he has given very clear instructions on how to optimally develop your own body and the effectiveness associated with it, apparently using ancient traditions.
I can only recommend everyone to read your Sangenkai block carefully.
I myself am still gaining new knowledge from this, especially now in times of pandemics, when personal contact with the few who are familiar with this area is so limited.
So far I have met the only contemporary in Dan who was able to convey to me credibly and practically through direct physical contact that this path is also viable for us.

Best,
Bernd
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Old 08-10-2021, 04:48 PM   #21
Craig Moore
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Re: What is power?

Quote:
Bernd Lehnen wrote: View Post
"Get them before they get you"
I know there's debate with translation with some of the doka poems, but there's at least one if not a few that pop up in our "Doka of the Day" where it takes mental gymnastics to justify an interpretation in any other way than the statement above.
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Old 01-05-2022, 02:16 PM   #22
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Re: What is power?

Work done...also a delusion of self.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 01-28-2022, 09:27 PM   #23
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Re: What is power?

"One must, he told me, always maintain a harmonious balance among these."

Maintaining a "harmonious balance" is a like juggling bowling pins, focusing on one pin at a time to keep the flow going.

That's power.

dps

Last edited by dps : 01-28-2022 at 09:29 PM.

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Old 06-03-2022, 10:22 AM   #24
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Re: What is power?

As a physicist I have a very good definition of power. The term power, when used in a martial context is another thing entirely. In general, it is used to describe a state of ineffectively “I was powerless…” as opposed to a rate of energy delivery. One can feel powerless due to: speed, strength, training, perception, aggression, mental manipulation, health condition, distraction, inebriation just to name a few. The term power when used in a non-physics context, and particularly in this thread, is about a precise as the word Ki.
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Old 07-10-2022, 04:58 PM   #25
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Re: What is power?

I think there have been many efforts made to provide information on what is meant by internal strength (and it's worth noting that not all martial arts leverage all of the pieces the same way). Generally speaking there's three main areas of development in what's often described as "internal strength" or "ki" in Japanese arts or "qi" in Chinese arts - furthermore, I'd be remiss if I didn't caveat that some arts have it so embedded in their taxonomies, histories, techniques, etc. that over time the level in which people continue to talk about it versus actually practice and embody it can be somewhat murky - that said, I'll once again highlight the three primary areas of focus (and that in a complete system these are blended together and trained at a very high level along with the applications):

1) Subconscious force-management and balance training - often called Jin (with various flavors) in the Chinese arts whereas it tends to get bundled into the overall "ki" paradigm in Japanese arts. It tends to refer to the ability to mentally (consciously but increasingly less "think" then "do" directing as you train the skill over time) manage incoming forces between the two constants of gravity pulling you down and the ground pushing you up - can be referred to as the qi of "Earth" in some paradigms.

2) Body conditioning to optimize the mental direction of ground gravity paths. When you first begin, it's a different type of strength training (but it is strength training) that one undergoes in order to optimally manage the forces of gravity and ground through you. As you do various exercises (8 brocade is popular in Chinese arts, as is standing visualizations - I'd wager that Ueshiba meant for Aiki Taiso to be a mechanism for these) you create mental maps that have physical manifestations in how your body handles and directs forces. This training in concert with Jin/Ki training from number 1 enables you to more optimally receive incoming forces from another person, blend with their incoming forces in a way that is not perceived by them as "resisting" yet makes it so their forces are either nullified before or on contact - or - (and this is where I'd argue the high level "aiki" from Daito ryu that Ueshiba insisted be part of Aiki-Do) the force is redirected through a conditioned body's force management optimization such that the issuer defeats themselves without realizing how. Caveat here is that as both parties are training these skills and conditioning - it's important to realize that there are points in which both must be the uke and nage to provide appropriate training to enable each others' learning, but the initiation of these skills should come from someone that can already exhibit them. (Often called the qi of "Man" in that the conditioned person with the right skills effectively bridges the powers of "heaven" and "earth")

3) The last area of training in the basic suite of skills is the qi of "heaven". Simplistic physical description would be that as you're conditioning the body in area 2 - you create natural synergies of how the bone, muscle, and tissue of the body work together to a) Handle force loads b) store and release power (much more of an "elastic" kind of strength and when combined with the legs and spine creates a very different sense of how power is received, stored, and issued). This takes significant time, focus and dedicated training to develop, and to be fair - isn't an optimal path for those just seeking to fight in combat sports near term. Because it's about how you pressurize the breath in the body - creating the elastic pulls against the bone muscle tissue, then mentally directing them with a core issuance of "internal dantien force" - there's a sequencing that often gets lost or left out in many transmissions over time - whether intentionally or accidentally. Practically speaking, I like to compare these types of strengths to a combination of a net, a bow and arrow, a catapult, and a stun bolt gun when you've developed them enough.

These skills are pretty great and I find a lot of value in training them - but also from a practical standpoint, they also require a pretty decent delivery system in your martial practice (that balances grappling and pugilism) to most effectively be applied if that's your objective.

From a pure physics standpoint of mathematically defining work, power, force, etc. - we aren't there at as the lingua fraca hasn't evolved enough and so much of the transmission requires a degree of "stealing" rather than being told (it's offered to be stolen but must be taken by the student rather than imprinted by the teacher - shared responsibility for sure - and the truth is not all have the talent to do it). But like any high level skill, there will always be nuances and variations. To some degree, though, most will have some of the fundamentals from above.

Best,

Budd

Last edited by Budd : 07-10-2022 at 05:06 PM. Reason: clarity

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