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Old 10-24-2006, 10:39 AM   #26
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
I think if you want a different answer from me (different from what I've already given) you are going to have to simplify your language. I'm just not getting what you are getting at...
In the variational model takemusu is shown right from the beginning by attention to connection, demonstrated in initally stopframe motion, and with emphasis on attention to the possible alternate endings of the movie. Takemusu is always there, in potential, but has not yet risen above the background "noise," although it comes closer and closer to the surface as training progresses.

The issue in the variational approach is one of degree, whereas in the rigorously systematic model it seems a difference of kind.

The answer seems to be "it happens" and if it doesn't then you just keep on having the teacher point out errors in the kihon until it does. If that is the case then I have my answer and need inquire no further. If I have got it wrong then I still do not understand your answers.

My disconnect is that I was looking for continuity in the method. If I am hearing you right, there may not be any continuity at this stage of the systematic or prescriptive approach to training. In which case, there is no prescribed systematic method for achieving the experience of takemusu in these systematic approaches to training. It just happens at some point. Which is fine, too. I simply would not have assumed so.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 10-24-2006, 10:46 AM   #27
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
The reason for my question is straightforward. Those normative systems developed particularly by Tomiki and Shioda have articulated their sense of training by devising some degree of prescribed progression. The same has not really been done (or at least I have not seen it) in any "systematic" way to describe the variational or "chaotic" approach.

To do so would require, not a prescribed progression of techniques, but a rubric for selecting root and branch patterns for each iteration of training. A rubric, while not prescriptive as to the variations for each stage of trainiing or class, would be a guage to see if a relatively complete coverage of concepts was adequately achieved over some period of time. This would give a consistent means to answer Takamura Sensie's valid criticism of the potential deficits of this approach, if done poorly.

The treatment of the "transition" is an important issue from your perspective, while the assurance that key concepts are not overlooked is an important one from mine. I like to learn from others how related problems are treated, since they may have related solutions. I see them as related teaching methodolgy problems.

Both are concerned with achieving a holistic whole at the end, and both have potential gaps that must be dealt with. On the one hand your approach has a substantial and somewhat continuous gap that must be filled in to move over from defined form to spontanaeity. The variational approach has many potentially smaller, scattered and discontinuous gaps that also need to be assured of "filling in."
Hello Erick,
Perhaps I can help give a perspective to your question.

I have trained/am training/continuing training in 3 different systems that branched from Tomiki, Shioda, and Tohei.

I would say that the Tomiki and Shioda branches are structured and that the Tohei branch style isn't.

Tomiki and Shioda:
Definitive basic building blocks that are set and have structure. As you said, there is a degree of progression.

Tohei branch:
More loosely held building blocks that tend not to have a degree of progression. As you said, a variational approach.


So, how does one go from basics to free-form?

In the structured environment, one learns prescribed movements to effect certain outcomes. As the building blocks are put into place and randori is initially engaged, one finds that a pattern can be held based upon the building blocks. However, as one progresses into randori, one finds the building blocks inadequate to a free-form environment. In other words, a classic, cut and dried kotegaeshi rarely happens in randori. So, one finds that by taking the basics of the building blocks, one can adapt them to a free-form environment. The basics are there, one need only smooth them out for a free flow environment.

In a variational approach, one learns multiple techniques in a non-structured way. A more free flowing approach is produced where one trains in techniques rather than a progressive building block. As one progresses from this to randori, or free form, one finds that this variational approach is inadequate. In this approach, one has the free form and finds that by truly understanding those free forms, that there is a basic underlying principle. As one understands the basics and underlying principles more and more, one finds that the free style can be adapted to the randori environment.

Does that make sense?

All my opinion,
Mark
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Old 10-24-2006, 10:47 AM   #28
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Take Musu Aiki: martial technique arises spontaneously out of the state of Aiki or, put another way, the state of aiki gives birth to martial technique.

This has less to do with some teaching methodology and more to do with what type of Aikido one is doing. To have take musu aiki one must be doing ones technique with aiki. The strength and tension that many people put into their technique precludes take musu aiki.

The whole basis of aiki is to set up a balance between the two partners / opponents in which any movement on the part of either one results in an exact balancing movement in the other. This is called Ittai-ka or "single body". It's like the Scales of Justice... no matter how much weight is on either side, if the scales are balanced, it takes almost no energy to move the whole thing and any change on one side is instantly reflected by an identical change on the other side.

To do this one has to be completely relaxed in ones mind and project ones intention to the opponent creating the "mental irimi" or ki musubi. It the instant of physical contact one must create the "physical musubi" and give the attacker's energy re-direction. If one can accomplish this, one has acheived katsu hayabi or "instant victory".

However, one only controls ones own actions, not the actions of the attacker. So in take musu aiki, if one has established Ittai-ka with the attacker, any change in his energy will literally create a new technique instantly. But this can only happen if the mind is relaxed, in the instant, and not invested in a particular outcome. Also, the body must be completely relaxed. If there is tension, you are feeling you, not the attacker. Only through complete relaxation can the attacker's changes in energy, reflect themselves instantly in a new techhnique. This is take musu aiki. It is why O-Sensei talked about the the Kami creating technique. He didn't feel that he was doing the waza as an individual but that the waza arose out of the state of aiki when he and the attacker came together.

Some styles of Aikido emphasize a very physical, strength oriented waza. I do not feel that this can really produce take musu aiki, at least as I understand the concept. That kind of Aikido is a very "doing" kind of Aikido and take musu aiki calls for a very "not-doing" version of the art. I do not think that merely having a less structured type of practice a la Saotome Sensei (the way I was personally trained) will produce the ability to do technique on this level nor do I belive that training in a very sequential and structured system will necessarily interefere with getting to this level. It's about the "aiki" and how one approaches technique. That can theoretically be done either way, although I am currently moving towards a more organized presentation of the principles than what I was given.

This has some bearing on the Endo Sensei thread and its discussion of what is really the debate between the exponents of "hard" style and "soft" style Aikido. In my own opinion, it is not possible to have true take musu aiki if one is focusing on the power aspect of the art before one has understood the softer side of "aiki". Power oriented technique is merely imposing technique on the attacker, not allowing the technique to become what it wants to be. Power should be a natural by product of proper "aiki" rather than the focus.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 10-24-2006, 11:20 AM   #29
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

The sponteneity of take musu aiki makes it difficult to replicate, even in the vacuum of a dojo. Ultimately, training for me relates to the expression of instruction from teacher to student, the pinnacle of training being the complete divulgence and absorbtion of knowledge from teacher to student, and the preparation of the student to exceed the teacher.

I analogize aikido to chess when I evaluate my views on this topic. In chess, a foundation of rules govern play, a series of established techniques adhere to strategies of play, and each player creates a unique series of plays executed as a game. Without rules to govern play and established techniques to execute, the results of play would not resemble what I consider chess.

Take musu aiki is created spontaneously from the rules that govern the world and the principles and techniques we execute in aikido. I do not feel instruction is complete without the inclusion of take musu aiki, but I think far too often we fall on the side of creative expression and the foundation of techniques we are so eager to disregard in favor of "freedom." The ability to communicate, or teach, technique is a wonderful experience to assess how much you don't know about aikido. For example, I can effectively communicate ikkyo omote to a student using kihon waza (kata). If take musu aiki is truly part of the curriculum of training, then it must be reproduceable and measurable. rather, I believe take musu aiki falls beyond the role of curriculum and is expression. To me, the ability of a student to express take musu aiki is an indication of comprehension, not the study of curriculum.

Hooker Sensei has an expression that I like to paraphrase; Picasso can draw two circles and 4 lines and call the drawing a cow. He can do this because he knows what a cow looks like.
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Old 10-24-2006, 12:05 PM   #30
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
My disconnect is that I was looking for continuity in the method. If I am hearing you right, there may not be any continuity at this stage of the systematic or prescriptive approach to training. In which case, there is no prescribed systematic method for achieving the experience of takemusu in these systematic approaches to training. It just happens at some point. Which is fine, too. I simply would not have assumed so.
I think there is continuity...it may not be as rigid as what you are looking for, but it is there. I won't bore the readers with the methods again, since they are the same ones I mentioned earlier.

Many people expect a yoshinkan pivot to be 95 degrees when done as a basic movement. My teacher, however, has always stressed that it is ABOUT 95 degrees. The idea is how far do I have to pivot, to maximize my position while reducing uke's power (and the ability to express that power against me). That is not an exact degree of movement for every situation...not even for the same two people twice in a row.

Common misunderstanding about the yoshinkan basic movements, methodology, and spirit...in my opinion.

Best,
Ron

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Old 10-24-2006, 02:23 PM   #31
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
The sponteneity of take musu aiki makes it difficult to replicate, even in the vacuum of a dojo.
Hence the question for exploration. Hi, Jon. How's the finger? Had fun with Dan and the gang while you were out.
Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
I analogize aikido to chess when I evaluate my views on this topic. In chess, a foundation of rules govern play, a series of established techniques adhere to strategies of play, and each player creates a unique series of plays executed as a game. Without rules to govern play and established techniques to execute, the results of play would not resemble what I consider chess.
I have tried the chess problem analogy in thinking through the variational approach to teaching, and generally, I think the idea has much to recommend it, but I think the elements are simpler and their evolution more complex.

Go, for instance: black-white | irirmi-tenkan. Of course, that may too limiting. After all, what can one do with only 1's and 0's ?
Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
Take musu aiki is created spontaneously from the rules that govern the world and the principles and techniques we execute in aikido. If take musu aiki is truly part of the curriculum of training, then it must be reproduceable and measurable.
If it can be done -- it can be reproduced; if it can be done -- it can be measured. It just can't be done exactly the same way twice-- that's the chaos -- in a mathematical sense. If we can do it it can be reproduced (not replicated or duplicated, there is HUGE difference).

A reproduction is faithful interpretation -- and a true work of art in its own right. A forgery is a perfect copy -- and a lie. My children are (barely) tolerable reproductions of me and my wife, not copies. Copies are dead, reproduction is about giving somtheing a life of its own.

The degree of technically parsed fidelity in duplicating movement in the systematic approach is what troubles me, not its ultimate precision in application (which is indispecnsable).

I think that it must be reproducible and measureable, and it's mainly coming from the ukemi side of practice. The one thing this discussion has notably lacked is any discussion of how the ukemi relate to the development of takemusu aiki. Ledyard Sensei addresses it somewhat in his post and in his other teaching that takemusu is not something that is "done" or imposed, i.e. -- it is informed by ukewaza, not nagewaza, even in applying nage technique. Hooker Sensei has made much of this aspect of ukewaza also.

The development of consistent connection and the feel for the downhill line, more than anything, lead me there. When I realize I have done it, after the fact, I have usually felt at the time as if I were wondering, without words, "Which way am I falling now? Ah, THAT way. Well..., come along now."
Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
Rather, I believe take musu aiki falls beyond the role of curriculum and is expression. To me, the ability of a student to express take musu aiki is an indication of comprehension, not the study of curriculum.
I generally agree, but I disagree that it cannot be part of curriculum. I like the term "rubric" better for this purpose. It is a term originally from the liturgy, text marked in red (hence the name), that gave guidelines for actions to be done or certain things to be said -- but without giving specific words or movements for doing them. It was taken from Roman law texts where the red ink indicated comments, explanations, or asides from the black-letter law. A famous legal maxim is "Lege rubrum si vis intelligere nigrum" Read the red if you would understand the black. The legal term originally came from the red ocher traditionally used to mark cuts for timber joinery to be fitted together. A very appropriate word, in my opinion, on many levels.

A rubric does not require an linear progression, but provides a generalized form within which actions can be done in a degree of freedom. That degree of freedom within accepted constraint is the beginning of the image of takemusu aiki for me. Applied more broadly across a training regimen, a rubric approach may allow one to start anywhere and finish anywhere - the particular rubric ensures you have covered all the ground it is intended to address.
Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
I do not feel instruction is complete without the inclusion of take musu aiki, but I think far too often we fall on the side of creative expression and the foundation of techniques we are so eager to disregard in favor of "freedom." ...
As I said before, creativity is individual, and wisdom collective. Budo is not a place for individuality - it is a wisdom tradition, and cannot be practiced except in reference to an opponent, real or imagined.

But O-Sensei was well-reputed to strongly dislike the kata form of training. Two of his chief students differed with him very strongly on that point, and their criticisms are still with us. I don't agree with them, but I do not diregard them either. They have laid out a linear system of training to meet their goals. As is noted in Takamura's quote, the variational method needs its own rigor too -- it simply does not need fixed linear forms of sequenced training.

That's what I am working on, to get a sense of what such a rigorous non-linear system of training would look like, that is not dependent on the rigorous personality of the teacher. If there is one thing I learned from Hooker Sensei when I started down this road, it is a deep love of rigor ( whetehr I liked it or not.... ). He's gotten to be a big cuddly, softie now, of course, but please don't anybody tell him I said that (nobody else will read this, right?)

The key thing is seeing how the "systematic" approaches that are in existence now, even though they are ill-fitted to adapt per se to the variational approach, deal with the development of takemusu aiki in training, since by all accounts it is regularly achieved there as well.

"It happens" is hardly satisfying; maybe it's what I am stuck with, utlimately, but still not satisfying.

Their solution is less important to me than the means by which they arrived at it. I am not about debating relative or absolute efficiencies in this regard. Maybe their insights will have bearing on this problem, maybe not, but that's what I wanted to examine more closely.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 10-24-2006, 02:28 PM   #32
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Many people expect a yoshinkan pivot to be 95 degrees when done as a basic movement. My teacher, however, has always stressed that it is ABOUT 95 degrees. ... Common misunderstanding about the yoshinkan basic movements, methodology, and spirit...in my opinion.
Yep. That is just about precisely the degree of fuzziness I have come to associate with Yoshinkan.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 10-24-2006, 02:58 PM   #33
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

LOL....

Now That was Funny...

Best,
Ron

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Old 10-25-2006, 06:11 AM   #34
ian
 
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Budd Yuhasz wrote:
3) Is the instructor able to reproduce their skills in their students?
Good post Budd. Interestingly I believe Ueshiba failed to produce students of similar or better quality than himself, and having met some of them, I would not believe for a second this is because the students were not diligent enough in their practise.

I think its all quite basic. You start off simply, learning the forms and basic movements and over time you actually get to understand these techniques and why you move a certain way (the principles). These principles have to be learnt by the body before you can then progress (and not the mind). Thus strong foundations are required, though the 'real' aikido is the bit that falls between the gaps.

Basically we're trying to explain something limitless with words (which Ueshiba said was impossible). The best way to teach students is not to tell them all that you know (because they won't really learn anything), but to guide them on a path to their own understanding of the art. A good teacher recognises when a student is ready for new understanding.

I think simple and systematic teaching is essential but the difficulty arises when someone teaches systematically without understanding why that system was created like that in the 1st place; and only sees a set of routines (just like karate kata lost many of their real applications - this is not the fault of the kata, but the fault of poor instructors who were just repeating what their master did without understanding).

Given my finite existence I always have this goal in my mind when teaching 'how can I make them as effective as possible in the shortest possible time, without compromising future development'. With this in mind, I feel there is a tendency to start off with hard, routine trained technique. Once this is incorporated only then can the understanding of why and how to blend occur (otherwise I believe symptoms of weak rather than blending aikido start to occur). This was how it worked in aiki-jitsu, this is how Ueshiba developed, and many many good instructors also went from 'hard' to 'blending' (I hate the word 'soft'!)

Last edited by ian : 10-25-2006 at 06:20 AM.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 10-25-2006, 06:29 AM   #35
ian
 
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
...That's what I am working on, to get a sense of what such a rigorous non-linear system of training would look like, that is not dependent on the rigorous personality of the teacher
I have the same feelings myself. Although I only have a few years teaching experience I believe Ueshiba was trying to do that. I've heard that he would teach ikkyo first, and if someone new started he would start back again at ikkyo until everyone could do it. Indeed I have adopted this myself to some extent so that when I discuss other techniques I can say 'it's just like ikkyo' - by which I don't mean its the same technique, but the principles required to achieve ikkyo as a technique are exactly the same.

Also Erik, I think it is dependent on the personality of the teacher and cannot be too thoroughly systemised, as teaching is about fulfilling the learning needs of the students rather than an externally imposed discipline. (this makes me sound like I'm against systemisation, which I'm certainly not - just think we have to understand the purpose of it; when the lobster's been caught the lobster pot is forgotton...and all that!)

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 10-25-2006, 07:47 AM   #36
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

I was once told that to be a true artist (Takemusu Aiki),
first you must be a true craftsman (systematic training).

Before you write a great novel, learn to spell.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 10-25-2006, 11:38 AM   #37
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

I think my trepidation about take musu aiki is the fact take musu aiki is difficult to reproduce and therefore difficult to communicate. To me, the instruction of take musu aiki is reserved for shihan and yudansha to teach on the seminar circuit, who are in a better position to teach students. Which leads to my exclusion of take musu aiki from general curriculum. However, I do believe this concept in vital to training and so I urge students to attend seminars and I love when guests stop by and share their thoughts (thanks for stopping bye class last week Erik!).

Ultimately, the question still confounds me. How do you ask Michael Jordan how he made the shots he made? How you do ask Tiger Woods why he hits the ball so far?
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Old 10-25-2006, 03:18 PM   #38
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
Ultimately, the question still confounds me. How do you ask Michael Jordan how he made the shots he made? How you do ask Tiger Woods why he hits the ball so far?
Many top athletes will tell you that though they can't explain it (yet some actually can), that it comes after years of competent instruction and practice.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-02-2006, 07:52 AM   #39
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
I think my trepidation about take musu aiki is the fact take musu aiki is difficult to reproduce and therefore difficult to communicate. ... Ultimately, the question still confounds me.
A thought occurred to me in a response to a point made in another thread. It seemed to have relevance to this discussion and so I thought I would quote myself (exceedingly vain though that may be): The context was trying to translate O-Sensei's sometimes impenetrable (even in Japanese) oral teaching and relate it to his physical training instruction:
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
... Ueshiba spoke very much in terms of in myth. ... To grasp O-Sensei's meaning you have to unfold the ideas and concepts embodied in those myths into an immediate given circumstance. That particularized expression will then point to other meaning in the myth that you did not see going in at first. Then you find particular application or expression of that new meaning, and then see new meaning in the myth from that expression, etc. etc. ...

Takemusu aiki, it seems to me is much the same process in physical form. Thus, O-Sensei's mythic model of teaching, his mode of physical instruction, and his ultimate goal in training were really all of one piece -- implicate [enfolded] information, holographic, in a sense.
A branching cascade of unfolding, both in learning and of actual application of techniques in response to changing situations, seems to mimic the process of mythic understanding that O-Sensei's scheme of oral teaching (or any mythic learning) requires. Takemusu aiki is a perceptual process as much as anything, that to my way of thinking depends on faithfulness to the form of training, whatever it may be. In mythic teaching the approach to learning and the learning itself are one and the same thing -- in both Western and Eastern traditions:

Non-anticipation (shoshin) (vedana);
Calm observation (fudoshin)(samjna),
Intuitive action (mushin)(rupa),
Reflection on action (zanshin)(samskara)
Iteration (shugyo)(vijnana).

These properly describe what I have been taught as the proper process of training in budo -- what I have come to perceive as the application of takemusu aiki that is developed in that training -- the integration of the elements of self in Buddhism -- and also, among other things -- the scientific method. One large unspeakable thing with many phenomenal aspects that unfold into actual experience.

In short, I find that wrestling with the form of the training is as much a part of the teaching as the things being taught. Hence, my initiation of this discussion, for that purpose, and the point of much, if not all, of the discussion in settings like this.

All learning begins in an admission of fundamental error. The humility to be corrected, either by a teacher or a concrete reality, is the ticket to being taught. This should be true whether the initial approach chooses its acknowledged error on the side of "too loose" or "too tight" as a step on the road to "just right."

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 11-02-2006, 09:55 AM   #40
Jorge Garcia
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
A thought occurred to me in a response to a point made in another thread. It seemed to have relevance to this discussion and so I thought I would quote myself (exceedingly vain though that may be): The context was trying to translate O-Sensei's sometimes impenetrable (even in Japanese) oral teaching and relate it to his physical training instruction:
A branching cascade of unfolding, both in learning and of actual application of techniques in response to changing situations, seems to mimic the process of mythic understanding that O-Sensei's scheme of oral teaching (or any mythic learning) requires. Takemusu aiki is a perceptual process as much as anything, that to my way of thinking depends on faithfulness to the form of training, whatever it may be. In mythic teaching the approach to learning and the learning itself are one and the same thing -- in both Western and Eastern traditions:

Non-anticipation (shoshin) (vedana);
Calm observation (fudoshin)(samjna),
Intuitive action (mushin)(rupa),
Reflection on action (zanshin)(samskara)
Iteration (shugyo)(vijnana).

These properly describe what I have been taught as the proper process of training in budo -- what I have come to perceive as the application of takemusu aiki that is developed in that training -- the integration of the elements of self in Buddhism -- and also, among other things -- the scientific method. One large unspeakable thing with many phenomenal aspects that unfold into actual experience.

In short, I find that wrestling with the form of the training is as much a part of the teaching as the things being taught. Hence, my initiation of this discussion, for that purpose, and the point of much, if not all, of the discussion in settings like this.

All learning begins in an admission of fundamental error. The humility to be corrected, either by a teacher or a concrete reality, is the ticket to being taught. This should be true whether the initial approach chooses its acknowledged error on the side of "too loose" or "too tight" as a step on the road to "just right."

There are a lot of interesting ideas here Eric.

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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