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Old 11-12-2007, 06:59 AM   #26
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
http://www.aikikai.or.jp/eng/index.htm
"At the heart of Aikido is the Eastern concept ofハKi --the universal creative principle."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God
God (IPA: /ɡɒd/) most commonly refers to the deity worshipped by followers of monolatrist and monotheistic religions, whom they believe to be the creator and ruler of the universe.

Makes sense to me.
A good discussion, and an epitome of Chinese thought along those lines regarding Creativity-in-Itself (易即體 - 生生之謂易):
"Chinese Philosophy as World Philosophy" http://www.inbetweenness.com/Suncrates'%20Publications/CHINESE%20PHILOSOPHY%20AS%20WORLD%20PHILOSOPHY.pdf

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 11-12-2007, 10:06 PM   #27
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Folk kinda glossed over Charles' point earlier on and never really addressed it. Maybe it is because I have a musical background as well as a hobby of etymology in English. But my understanding of "harmony" would be simply as things that "come together" or "match up". FWIW I looked up the etymology of the term (I'm channelling Josh now I suppose) :

Quote:
harmony

c.1384, from O.Fr. armonie, from L. harmonia, from Gk. harmonia "agreement, concord of sounds," lit. "means of joining," related to harmos "joint, shoulder," from PIE *ar-ti-, from *ar- "to fit together." Musical sense is oldest in Eng.; that of "agreement of feeling, concord" is from 1588.
Isn't that what we're talking about?

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Old 11-12-2007, 10:43 PM   #28
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
... Maybe it is because I have a musical background as well as a hobby of etymology in English. But my understanding of "harmony" would be simply as things that "come together" or "match up".
Quote:
harmony

c.1384, from O.Fr. armonie, from L. harmonia, from Gk. harmonia "agreement, concord of sounds," lit. "means of joining," related to harmos "joint, shoulder," from PIE *ar-ti-, from *ar- "to fit together." Musical sense is oldest in Eng.; that of "agreement of feeling, concord" is from 1588.
Isn't that what we're talking about?
Say on.

Harmonic motion. Formed by two independent pendula in connection. Both separate pendula and doubled pendula exhibit complex harmonic motion.
The attached figure is a Lissajous (or Bowditch) curve of a major chord, i.e -- two sine waves intersecting at right angles, which is the geometric description of complex harmonic motion.

Kinda familiar lookin', ain't it? Yokomenuchi kaitennage ura waza anyone?

Your arm is a double pendulum. So is your leg. So is your body standing on two feet together hinged at the hips. So are two people joining in aiki, ... etc. etc. .
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Last edited by Erick Mead : 11-12-2007 at 10:46 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 11-12-2007, 11:30 PM   #29
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Folk kinda glossed over Charles' point earlier on and never really addressed it. Maybe it is because I have a musical background as well as a hobby of etymology in English. But my understanding of "harmony" would be simply as things that "come together" or "match up". FWIW I looked up the etymology of the term (I'm channelling Josh now I suppose) :

Isn't that what we're talking about?
Well I'm talking about "iiai", which doesn't mean "speaking in harmony". And "kiriai", which doesn't mean "cutting in harmony". Or "oshiai", which doesn't mean "pushing in harmony". Using words with the same character, 合戦 "gassen" doesn't mean "harmonious battle". 合併 "gappei" means "merger", and is used even of hostile take-overs.

In the great monster movie classic, Gamera 3, the bad guy monster, Iris, sucked in the young girl who had cared for it. The girl fought against this, trying to escape. When she was sucked in, another character's reaction was 合流した! Gouryuu shita! "They've joined!" It wasn't particularly harmonious.

This is what I mean by idiom. That's why "harmony" is a stretch. To make "harmony" fit into the above contexts, we have to contort the word "harmony", looking to its etymology, or relying on unique interpretations and contexts. Harmony, as it stands today, has connotations of peace, concordance, and agreement. 合 has more neutral connotations. "Matching." "Fitting." "Joining." Indeed, when many of the top practioners of aikido talk about it, they often use the word "blending", and not "harmonizing". So, when the question is, "What does the 'ai' of aikido mean?", I submit that "harmony" is a bad translation; it forces the student's understanding to certain, singular area. "Matching" is much better. It allows the student to tap into the bigger linguistic picture that Japanese speakers have. When a translation gives its readers/listeners the same (or as near as possible) understanding as the original gives to its readers/listeners, then that's a good translation.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 11-13-2007, 12:20 AM   #30
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Literally, Aikido translates as "the way of harmony with Ki".
So is this wrong are we only talking about the segregated jukugo "aiki"? Surely "aikido" itself is also a compound?

Even Jim Breen's has it down as harmony.

Quote:
合気道; 合氣道(oK) 【あいきどう】 (n) {MA} aikido; way of harmony with the universe
Carl
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Old 11-13-2007, 05:32 AM   #31
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
So is this wrong are we only talking about the segregated jukugo "aiki"? Surely "aikido" itself is also a compound?
It is. But are we talking Ueshiba's aikido? Hirai's aikido? Nihon Goshin aikido? In Japan it's not uncommon for books regarding Daito-ryu to use "aikido" in their title.

Quote:
Even Jim Breen's has it down as harmony.
No doubt because new submissions to edict are automatically added to the server. I'll raise the question on sci.lang.japan and see what the good folk there (including Jim Breen) have to say. The entry will likely be edited.

Last edited by Josh Reyer : 11-13-2007 at 05:40 AM.

Josh Reyer

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Old 11-13-2007, 07:35 AM   #32
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
In the great monster movie classic, Gamera 3 ... This is what I mean by idiom. That's why "harmony" is a stretch. To make "harmony" fit into the above contexts, we have to contort the word "harmony", looking to its etymology, or relying on unique interpretations and contexts. Harmony, as it stands today, ...
The unquestioned authority of monster genre, notwithstanding, the question you did not answer is the historical usage. Aiki as a term predates modern usage. The appropriate way to interpret its use in the traditionalist-minded schools of budo is to look to its usage in its time of origin, which is intedned to be preserved in those traditions. This is particularly important when the term is used descriptively and intensively by a proponent of a concept who has access to,and preferential respect for, ancient writings and a desire to apply his view of their original understanding modernly.

Dictionaries record usage -- they do not dictate it. Modern general dictionaries do not do justice to terms of specialized use, or preserved use in a traditional setting, when modern usage in other contexts may have moved on. "Harmony" is not a definition pulled from thin air. It just so happens to accurately describe the physics of a physical art, with a concept that has been known since ancient times. It has a older linguistic basis shown in the Chinese that is consistent with that physical understanding in uses of the terminology well prior those you are referring to in the admittedly hallowed Gamera literary canon.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 11-13-2007, 08:43 AM   #33
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Gotta go with Josh again on this one.

I'm once more surprised that folks can't see the logic of his arguements. Oh well...

Best,
Ron (as my instructor is wont to say, "what is this blending???")

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Old 11-13-2007, 08:53 AM   #34
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
Harmony, as it stands today, has connotations of peace, concordance, and agreement.
Well, I think that is part of the point I am trying to make. Connotations. As you know quite well every word can have multiple connotations. Those connotations, however, do not always apply to every usage of a word. Hence the multiple definitions most every word is given in dictionaries. So while a word may have multiple connotations not all connotations apply in all contexts. It is a common pitfall in all translation since connotations are almost always the things that screw up translations. And obviously it happens on both sides of the equation. But do we toss out a word because some decide to take certain connotations absolutely? That's more a lack of deeper understanding than a limitation of the words used. The words are always limited and often connotations that don't transfer well are a major reason for it.

As a comparison, the organization I'm with (Seidokan -- Rod Kobayashi) has makoto figured quite prominently (obviously). Having had the good fortune of knowing my late sensei's family quite well I've had the opportunity to discuss sensei's choice of makoto with Mrs. Kobayashi (thankfully her English is a bit better than my Japanese and I hope I get it right). He had picked makoto for a variety of reasons *including* the organizational connotations of makoto in Japanese. So, we translate makoto as "sincere, earnest" and that's what sensei had written down for us. No problems there. But after sensei passed away some began to cite a spirit of makoto as their rationale for being overtly critical of decisions, overtly questioning authority within the new organizational structure, etc., Something really big was lost in translation there. I don't want to discuss the behavior or appropriateness of it (I wasn't involved directly and I'm sure everyone was being "sincere"), the irony was the use of "makoto" as a justification for being critical and difficult within an organization. It makes no sense at all if you understand the "larger meaning" of sei or makoto. Sincere with all the American connotations it may have isn't quite right. But in many ways it is a very good translation as well. The problem is that if we look for a "short and sweet" translation we will lose many subtleties. So the only way to really "get it" is to have long, drawn out discussions like we're having now. It doesn't mean the short and sweet isn't correct, just not quite enough to really "get it".

All language is like that and translations are always approximations as you so well know. Both sides will often have connotations that just don't transfer well. Which makes perfect sense given different cultures, social norms, etc. So I agree with you completely that many totally misunderstand the kanji and their usage of harmony along with its connotations of peaceful, happy, "getting along so nicely" goes hand in hand with that misunderstanding.

But in my training I've heard terms like match or blend in terms of application of the concept. Which to me really cemented the intended meaning of "harmonize". So when I hear someone say "harmony" I have no problem with it because I personally don't think of harmony as *automatically* meaning pleasing or peaceful as well. I think of matching up, sliding into the void, finding the opening, that kind of thing. And I think that it also has very useful connotations when we talk about the integration of mind and body of the practitioner. And when we talk about things like fudoshin, fudotai. Those are (in part) concepts of harmony in a similar sense to me.

So this is my long winded and rambling way of saying I agree with you in most ways. If we say that "Harmony may not be an optimal means of translating 'ai' because many give too much weight to certain connotations of the word harmony that are not relevant in this case" then I agree. But connotations are funny things and we are focusing in hard on one aspect while leaving all the rest out. So like reading the passage "That handsome man over there is certainly quite gay this morning" in a a book written 25 years ago, I have no problem understanding that the writer meant the man was in a somewhat energetically good mood. Context.

Shrug. I'm hesitant to toss out "harmony" as I think it is like tossing out the baby with the bathwater. But I feel like I'm talking in circles now... But it is a subtle point and a good discussion. Heck, to give you more ammo I think of some of the old kenjutsu techniques that involve ai-uchi -- "harmonious cuts". You both die. The movement is harmonious. And given the Japanese love for pattern and order even aiuchi has a "beauty" of sorts on a higher level. The aftermath, however, is rather messy...

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Old 11-13-2007, 09:00 AM   #35
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Gotta go with Josh again on this one.

I'm once more surprised that folks can't see the logic of his arguements. Oh well...
Tis the nature of discussion to discuss... Fleshing out tiny details is often what helps folk understand things better otherwise we should just have a FAQ with definitions and no discussions at all.

Of course at this point maybe I'm just counting how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

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Old 11-13-2007, 09:11 AM   #36
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

I should also add that I very much enjoy and look forward to Josh's posts. I learn quite a bit from each one.

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Old 11-13-2007, 09:42 AM   #37
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

As I look forward to your's Keith. You tend to know so much more about this stuff we do than I. Always a pleasure.

My comment was more pointed in a different direction...but your point is well taken there too.

Best,
Ron

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Old 11-13-2007, 09:46 AM   #38
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

I think personal definitions that have more to do with belief and desire often have more importance than historical context. I suspect this applies to both the modern definitions and practice of aikido. In addition, it's likely that too many people are too invested in being "right" about their defnitions and practice to accept that an alternate view may be more "correct" based on objective criteria.
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Old 11-13-2007, 10:22 AM   #39
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
I think personal definitions that have more to do with belief and desire often have more importance than historical context. I suspect this applies to both the modern definitions and practice of aikido. In addition, it's likely that too many people are too invested in being "right" about their defnitions and practice to accept that an alternate view may be more "correct" based on objective criteria.
And I think that is partly why these discussion are so important. One of my favorite quotes of Nietzsche is

Quote:
"For me all truths are soaked in blood"
Meaning we need to discuss, fight within our own knowledge systems and be willing to rebuild our beliefs. Of course some will not be convinced. Others will find reinforcement. But some will think deeply about what they think they know and there will be adjustments to their "web" of beliefs. It's all good.

Of course my quote from Nietzsche is itself a paraphrasing of my memory of a translation from the German... So who knows, maybe I got that wrong for all the same reasons...

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Old 11-13-2007, 11:21 AM   #40
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
I think personal definitions that have more to do with belief and desire often have more importance than historical context. I suspect this applies to both the modern definitions and practice of aikido. In addition, it's likely that too many people are too invested in being "right" about their defnitions and practice to accept that an alternate view may be more "correct" based on objective criteria.
It's not about being right in the abstract. It's about being useful in reality. In this context, the historical understanding is part and parcel of the personal understanding of O Sensei framed by his beliefs and desires (which is my aim). Even when he chose to deviate from an historical usage or understanding, his departure was still defined by it.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 11-13-2007, 11:58 AM   #41
Fred Little
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

I am reminded of a box of imported couscous I once bought.

The instructions appeared on the box in Arabic, French, and English, and the English language instructions seemed to have been translated from French which seemed to have been translated from Arabic.

After a great many steps, the final instruction read "join the companions in a large vessel and serve."

More generally, as long as I'm blathering about food, I can "mix, blend, or join" in a variety of ways, depending on the ingredients and the desired product.

Folding in, gently stirring, and vigorous whisking will all mix the ingredients.

The following example requires all three:

In a double boiler, gently stir chocolate, cream and butter together over heat until you have a smooth consistency. Remove from heat and stir in egg yolks.

In a non-reactive bowl, vigorously whisk egg whites until you have soft peaks. Add sugar and continue to whip until you have stiff peaks.

Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold egg whites into chocolate mixture.

Add the mixture to ramekins that have been buttered and coated with a light sprinkling of sugar. Do not fill more than 3/4 full.

Bake at 375 in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes.

(Kuden: quantities of ingredients)

But if the instructions just say "blend" and you haven't been given more specific directions, there's a strong possibility that your souffle will fall flat and your uke won't fall at all.

Best,

FL
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Old 11-13-2007, 12:12 PM   #42
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
In this context, the historical understanding is part and parcel of the personal understanding of O Sensei framed by his beliefs and desires (which is my aim).
I think that's a noble goal, but sometimes the line seems fuzzy between the beliefs and desires of O-Sensei and those trying to explain or interpret them
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Old 11-13-2007, 12:13 PM   #43
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Fred, I am both amused and hungry. Nicely done!
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Old 11-13-2007, 12:24 PM   #44
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Any post from Fred...

Priceless...

B,
R (what the heck is a ramekins?????)

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Old 11-13-2007, 12:27 PM   #45
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
In a double boiler, gently stir chocolate, cream and butter together over heat until you have a smooth consistency.
MMMmmmmmm. Chocolate.....

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 11-13-2007, 12:28 PM   #46
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Any post from Fred...

Priceless...

B,
R (what the heck is a ramekins?????)
Baby rames, of course. What a silly question.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 11-13-2007, 12:53 PM   #47
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

LOL! Good one, Erick!

B,
R

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Old 11-13-2007, 03:15 PM   #48
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
... But if the instructions just say "blend" and you haven't been given more specific directions, there's a strong possibility that your souffle will fall flat and your uke won't fall at all.
Of course it also depends if I'm blending over his forehead with a wimpy wire whisk or my commercial grade Kitchenaid...

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Old 11-13-2007, 03:32 PM   #49
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Of course it also depends if I'm blending over his forehead with a wimpy wire whisk or my commercial grade Kitchenaid...
Very much so.

One of my co-workers at a pizza parlor once once reached into the not-quite-stopped Hobart running the dough-hook attachment.

Inexorable kotegaeshi with compound fractures. Ugly business.

On the plus side, we can be reasonably sure that the Hobart had no malicious intent.

Best,

FL
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Old 11-13-2007, 03:44 PM   #50
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
Very much so.

One of my co-workers at a pizza parlor once once reached into the not-quite-stopped Hobart running the dough-hook attachment.

Inexorable kotegaeshi with compound fractures. Ugly business.

On the plus side, we can be reasonably sure that the Hobart had no malicious intent.

Best,

FL
Yes, but was the Hobart using aiki? Or just ki?
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