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Old 11-17-2007, 02:06 AM   #76
CitoMaramba
 
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

An effect of resonance:

Not exactly "peaceful" is it?

Inocencio Maramba, MD, MSc
Dangayan Singkaw Aikido Shinzui
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Old 11-17-2007, 03:44 AM   #77
dps
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Another effect of resonance:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...ch&pl index=5

David
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Old 11-18-2007, 07:06 AM   #78
Amir Krause
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

I wish to contribute my own 2 cents,
Though I do not speak nor read Japanese.

I think I can make some very minor contribution:

When a Korindo Aikido Shihan came to visit the dojo , he told me about the meaning of Aiki in a an analogy, which I must admit I do not understand still, and may distort it somewhat:
He talked of the AI of aikido more in the sense of matching, or somewhere along the line of finding the right key for a lock, but not exactly.
He talked of Ki as the essence that stays the same in a branch, even after being in a fire. (I am not sure I understood him)

The person I am talking about was a Japanese working as a traditional \ old Japanese language teacher in a Japanese university. Thus I guess it is worth it to give you my impressions of that conversation with him. Though one should be careful - we talked in English while I was driving, English is not the native language of either of us, and we clearly did not have the same cultural connotations.

Amir
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Old 11-19-2007, 12:40 AM   #79
Carl Thompson
 
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
Josh prefers this because of its "nicely vague" quality. That is precisely the opposite of what the process of definition is about -- to move toward precision -- not away from it.
Good point, but we all have different ideas of what aikido is, so in defining it, we have to use terms that can be applied broadly. Otherwise we have to explain why the definition doesn't apply across the board. Another thing is who are we defining aikido for? If it's for everyone, then it's not just the practitioners and linguists who need to be happy with the definition. For that reason, I favour keeping it simple.

Jim Breens now defines Aikido like this:

Quote:
合気道; 合氣道(oK) 【あいきどう】 (n) {MA} aikido
Aikido is aikido. So if that isn't enough, people can consult the entry in an English dictionary. These are some results from dictionary.com

Quote:
ai•ki•do
--noun
a Japanese form of self-defense utilizing wrist, joint, and elbow grips to immobilize or throw one's opponent.

[Origin: 1960--65; < Japn aikidō, equiv. to ai to coordinate + ki breath control + dō way (< MChin; see JUDO) ]
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Quote:
ai•ki•do
n. A Japanese art of self-defense that employs holds and locks and that uses the principles of nonresistance in order to debilitate the strength of the opponent.

[Japanese aikidō : ai, mutual + ki, spirit (from Middle Chinese khi) + dō, art (from Middle Chinese daw', thaw).]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Quote:
Aikido
Japanese art of self-defense, lit. "way of adapting the spirit," from Jap. ai "together" + ki "spirit" + do "way, art," from Chinese tao "way."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper
Quote:
Aikido
noun
a Japanese martial art employing principles similar to judo

WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.
However, I'm starting to waver back towards "harmony" being an okay definition again just based on a couple of conversations I had with some Japanese teachers of English. I haven't found any that disagree with the idea that the character 合 can mean harmony, even in isolation from the jukugo.

Going back to this statement…

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
Well, first, Kisshomaru was hardly an expert in English, let alone Japanese-English translation. I have no idea how involved he was in the editing process, and I doubt he had the bilingual knowledge necessary to comment authoritatively on various translations.
…I can't help but think that by now, there are enough bilingual people on the Japanese side who would know whether or not "harmony" is acceptable. The English version of the Aikikai Hombu website gets regular updates in competent English.

The "What is Aikido" section of the English version of the Yoshinkan Hombu website states…

Quote:
The principal of Aikido is not to resist the law of nature, but to harmonize without using physical strength.
..and then this comes from their Q&A section:

Quote:
Q: Why is Aikido called "The Martial Art of Harmony"?
A: Aikido techniques don't have unnatural movements.
For example, if your enemy pulls you, the action you take will not be to resist the pull, but to harmonize with the movement, and lead the attacker to a naturally unbalance position. Aikido always applies a harmonizing technique and that is the reason why Aikido is called "the Martial Art of Harmony".
Also for reference, this is a ki-society interpretation from their Ontario site.

Quote:
Aikido is a relatively new spiritual martial art that emphasizes the importance of harmony in the world. Aikido is a non aggressive form of self defense. The translation for Aikido is "Ai" meaning harmony, "Ki" meaning energy and "Do" means the way, thus it is the art of harmonizing energy.
I agree with the changing of Jim Breen's dictionary, simply because it isn't necessary to go any further than referring people to the exact same word in English. Also, I don't disagree with the other definitions ("matching" also sounds okay). Harmony is just one interpretation. I'm mainly concerned about the idea that the interpretation "harmony" is wrong.

I looked up the kanji 合 on Chuck Muller's CJK Dictionary and came across this definition
Quote:

Meanings
• To unite, or combine two things. [同一] For two things to become one body. To gather, collect. To harmonize; [和] to fit, to match, to meet. [會] To mix with. [混]
• To marry. [婚]
• A partner, a spouse; the other half of a pair.
• To agree, to accord with.
• A unit of volume= 1/10 of a [升]
• To close, to shut.
(Note: To view it yourself log in as "guest" and leave the password blank)

Yoroshiku

Carl
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Old 11-19-2007, 01:26 PM   #80
Dan Rubin
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

For what it's worth (which may be nothing), the following from the WikiPedia entry for "hapkido":

The spelling of hapkido (합기도) in Chinese characters is exactly the same as the pre-1946 rendering of aikido, 合氣道, the Korean pronunciation of 合 being hap (while in Japanese kun'yomi it is au). 合 hap means "harmony", "coordinated", or "joining"; 氣 ki describes internal energy, spirit, strength, or power; and 道 do means "way" or "art", yielding a literal translation of "joining-energy-way", but it is most often rendered as "the way of coordinating energy" or "the way of coordinated power."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hapkido
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Old 12-05-2007, 09:50 AM   #81
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

just put your hands on someone that has aquired "aiki" and forget this thread

Before you drive or steer your vehicle, you must first start the engine, release the brake and find gear!
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Old 12-05-2007, 09:58 AM   #82
Mato-san
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Articulate Aikido from a keyboard I dare you !
put your hands on mine and then we can talk!

Before you drive or steer your vehicle, you must first start the engine, release the brake and find gear!
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Old 12-05-2007, 10:24 AM   #83
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Mathew McDowell wrote: View Post
Articulate Aikido from a keyboard I dare you ! put your hands on mine and then we can talk!
So, taking this position about the validity of non-personal knowledge to its conclusion -- do you believe that death is not real, simply because you have never actually experienced your own death? In fact, more philosophically, no one EVER actually experiences their own death. That does not mean that there is not a definable fact of death, or that it may be safely disregarded, because I have not experienced it.

Wisdom is the fruit of sad experience. Only narrow masochistic minds insist on their own personal experience as the only basis of useful truth. The wiser course is to be exceedingly glad to merely hear tell of it, and then govern ourselves accordingly. I can tell you a hundred errors I have made in performing aikido, and I have heard tell of thousands more. There is defined wisdom there. Errors -- being specific events -- have specific causes, and are reducible to analytic form easily communicated in this way. Regardless how little we can say in this mode about doing it consistently correctly we can at least say how to not do it as poorly as we know we did on a given occasion. Via negativa is as definitional as affirmative proposition, it's just not as simplistic.

After all, doing it correctly on any given occasion might just be sheer dumb luck.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 12-05-2007, 10:31 AM   #84
Mato-san
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

have you ever been close to death?..... anyhow respect the input!

Before you drive or steer your vehicle, you must first start the engine, release the brake and find gear!
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Old 12-06-2007, 07:48 PM   #85
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Articulations will never beat the actual experience of the thing being explained, but we need to refer to things somehow. If someone asks what aikido means, they might not appreciate an on-the-spot lesson.

I bought a smart new electronic dictionary in Akihabara on the weekend (Sharp's Papyrus PW-LT300). When I looked up the word 合う I got this as the first line of the definition:



Quote:
あう[合う]
1. {調和}
Harmonize (with); agree (with); (色などが) match (with)
It seems to me that all the styles, organisations, dojo and sensei defining the "ai" in "aikido" as "harmony" are not mistaken. Perhaps they should add a clause that there are other meanings too, but for me at least, there are too many native speakers and dictionaries telling me that it is okay. But I'm no expert and I would welcome further opinions.
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Old 12-06-2007, 07:56 PM   #86
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Mathew McDowell wrote: View Post
have you ever been close to death?..... anyhow respect the input!
I used to fly helicopters for a living. It is the business of the helicopter pilot to coax a tangle of parts to defy a fundamental law of the universe while maintaining a loose formation, and to imaginatively and incessantly contemplate the many ways they would all be immensely pleased to kill him -- and coming to love this exquisite form of abuse. If that's not "aiki," I don't know what is.

There are errors I deeply value other people having made, and that I , happily, do not have to experience to benefit from.

So, unless you consider "close" to be landing on a ship in the North Pacific in thirty foot seas on a deck barely the size of your rotor diameter -- with ten feet of clearance between a fifty-foot rotor arc and the hangar face -- no, not really "close," no.

Quote:
Harry Reasoner wrote:
The thing is, helicopters are different from airplanes. An airplane by its nature wants to fly, and if it is not interfered with too strongly by unusual events or a deliberately incompetent pilot, it will fly. A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other, and if there is any disturbance in this delicate balance, the helicopter stops flying, immediately and disastrously. There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter.
This is why being a helicopter pilot is so different from being an airplane pilot, and why, in generality, airplane pilots are open, clear-eyed buoyant extroverts and helicopter pilots are brooders, introspective anticipators of trouble. They know if something bad has not happened it is about to.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 12-07-2007, 07:58 AM   #87
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
So, unless you consider "close" to be landing on a ship in the North Pacific in thirty foot seas on a deck barely the size of your rotor diameter -- with ten feet of clearance between a fifty-foot rotor arc and the hangar face -- no, not really "close," no.
LOL...closer than I need to be.

Fact is, we are all close to death right now...we might not realize it though.

Best,
Ron

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Old 12-07-2007, 09:17 AM   #88
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
But I'm no expert and I would welcome further opinions.
Carl, if you responded to every "What does 'Aikido' mean?" question with a string of definitions from J-E dictionaries, you'd get no protest from me.

Josh Reyer

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Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 12-07-2007, 09:37 AM   #89
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
Carl, if you responded to every "What does 'Aikido' mean?" question with a string of definitions from J-E dictionaries, you'd get no protest from me.
Excepting only his own "Devil's Dictionary" in which the definition appears, Ambrose Bierce defined "dictionary" as:

"A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic."

For bilingual dictionaries, I would say that applies double (or is it squared?)

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 12-07-2007, 10:04 AM   #90
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

I have a copy of that Devil's Dictionary somewhere...gotta find that!

Best,
Ron (one of my favorites)

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Old 12-07-2007, 10:30 AM   #91
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
For bilingual dictionaries, I would say that applies double (or is it squared?)
Given that I am not wont to quote bilingual dictionaries when discussing the Japanese language, and have always argued for contextual, idiomatic understanding of it, an interesting question to ask might be why I would so heartily approve of Carl's quoting strings of definitions from J-E dictionaries.

Regardless of that, insomuch as Mr. Bierce's statements about dictionaries in general may be true, I'm afraid that bilingual dictionaries by their nature have absolutely zero effect on their constituent languages.

Josh Reyer

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Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 12-07-2007, 11:16 AM   #92
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
Regardless of that, insomuch as Mr. Bierce's statements about dictionaries in general may be true, I'm afraid that bilingual dictionaries by their nature have absolutely zero effect on their constituent languages.
L' Academie Francaise is holding for you -- Line two ... Monsieur Larousse would like a word... several, in fact.

Dictionaries have uses, but it is mistake to become overly devoted of the scholastic perspective, so says the most influential of English lexicographers. There are number things useful to recall from him.

Samuel Johnson: "I am not so lost in lexicography as to forget that words are the daughters of earth, and that things are the sons of heaven."

And as to the need for examining literary usage to derive meaning : "Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language."

Toward a further definition of Aikido then let me offer the following drawn from Dr. Johnson's rich observations:

".. the excellence of aphorisms consists not so much in the expression of some rare or abstruse sentiment, as in the comprehension of some obvious and useful truth in few words."

More modernly: "aphorism : A short phrase conveying some principle or concept of thought."

Aikido, as an art, may be defined: "a physical aphorism of budo."

As Dr. Johnson would say: "Example is always more efficacious than precept."

And a curiously Aiki-like sentiment: ''Attack is the reaction; I never think I have hit hard unless it rebounds."

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 12-10-2007, 12:45 AM   #93
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
...an interesting question to ask might be why I would so heartily approve of Carl's quoting strings of definitions from J-E dictionaries.
I imagine I might not like the answer, but thanks again for your comments Josh.

I am sorry if my badgering is becoming tiresome. I posted the Japanese-to-English dictionary quotes (and other references too please notice) because (since I am "no expert") I have to rely on the work of others in my attempt to understand this matter.

Although I'm well aware that dictionaries are only one tool in understanding a language, I think it is pretty relevant when so many of them on both sides of the language divide are saying more or less the same things. There is a variation in definition, but even those which do not explicitly mention "harmony" at least have meanings like "join," and "match" listed under the nuance of chowa 調和 -- "harmony". As Keith Larman pointed out, "harmony" in English derives some meaning from "join" or "fit together".

The quote in the original post on this thread claimed that Aikido roughly translates as "the way of harmony with ki". Not accurately, not satisfactorily, just roughly. It was claimed that this was a bad translation by one poster and as a mistake by another. Josh gave some very convincing reasons for why we should not translate the character "ai" as "harmony"

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
"Ai" by itself indicates a joining and/or matching. It is not at all "harmonious"…
I'm also inclined to avoid the lovey-dovey harmony word myself but it is important to be objective. I was particularly intrigued by the notion that the character "ai" interpreted as "harmony" is not only bad, but also an actual mistake. This has fairly important implications. I have no problem with people having their own preferences about how to explain what the word "aikido" means. However, when I am effectively being told that almost every dojo and organisation I have ever trained in has been using an incorrect English definition, you'll forgive me for being curious and playing Sherlock.

It seems like some of us think "harmony" and are conjuring up cheesy images of angels all singing together and that it jars with their own vision of what a martial art like aikido is. That's fair enough. Just don't use the "harmony" definition. It's the claim that others who are using that definition are mistaken that concerns me.

Personally, I can't help but think of this from an art and design perspective. Look at a woodblock print by the likes of Hokusai, Kuniyoshi or Hiroshige and you can see harmony and correct fitting! Just joining and fitting alone can be mere symmetry or lining things up on the page. You need to join and fit things together in harmony to make a design function well - the quality artists and designers call composition. As a designer, I try to match things in harmony with an awareness of how the viewer's eye will be led.

The image can be a Musashi killing a giant nue or a beautiful mountain scene. Both can have visual harmony.

Regards

Carl

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Old 12-10-2007, 03:44 AM   #94
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Quote:
Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
I imagine I might not like the answer, but thanks again for your comments Josh.
I can't imagine you wouldn't like the answer.

My position has always been that the statement "'ai' means 'harmony'" was misleading, and that things like "Way of Harmony with Ki" are bad translations. Certainly not bad interpretations to use in one's own practice, but very bad when talking general. My objection has always been idiomatic. "Ai", because of it's meanings of matching, joining, and uniting, can be used to refer to harmony in certain contexts. A prime example being 和合 wagou. Wa = peace, good relations, harmony, and gou = matching, joining, uniting - it's all one big nice things in perfect harmony.

But is the verb "au" used in any of the same kinds of context as the verb "harmonize"? Not particularly. Is harmony a common translation for many words that include 合? Only a precious few, and those with other kanji that have strong contextual links to English "harmony". (Notice that the words I'm using here are context and idiomatic. That "harmony" has etymological associations with "joining" means little, as few people, if any, say things like "I harmonized with my local neighborhood watch" or "I harmonized those two pieces together." Etymology means very little when it comes to translation.)

So, if someone asks, "What does "ai" mean?", I don't care for the single word "harmony" as an answer. But now, if you provide a list of definitions, "It means 'matching', 'joining', 'harmonizing', 'uniting'," then the person doesn't have an imperfect understanding of the word, now they have a grasp of the word's myriad meanings, connotations, nuances, and contexts. And that's the best kind of situation.

As for many dojos translating aikido as "Way of Harmony of/with/and Ki", well, it's a meme. It gives the newbie a little indication of the philosophy of Ueshiba aikido, at least. "Aikido" would be better explained than pithily translated, but people can't resist, as evidenced by the many replies of this thread and others.

The thing that gets me is that I'm not trying to have "harmony" stricken from the "ai(ki)" discussion. I'm for adding more information, providing more context, a better understanding of the word in the native Japanese idiom. But people are tenaciously attached to that H word.

Josh Reyer

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Old 12-11-2007, 12:22 AM   #95
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Re: Defining "Aikido"

Thanks Josh

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
So, if someone asks, "What does "ai" mean?", I don't care for the single word "harmony" as an answer. But now, if you provide a list of definitions, "It means 'matching', 'joining', 'harmonizing', 'uniting'," then the person doesn't have an imperfect understanding of the word, now they have a grasp of the word's myriad meanings, connotations, nuances, and contexts. And that's the best kind of situation.
I fully agree and support you in that. If we give the impression that the "合" in "aikido" 合氣道 or "gassho" 合唱 only means harmony, it misrepresents the language. At the same time, if someone says the "合" in gassho has absolutely no meaning of harmony whatsoever then that would be misrepresentative too. People aren't "joining chants," "fitting yells" or "matching recitations". There is a strong connotation of the harmony definition. My concern was just the idea that the H word was not linguistically possible. I don't care if people think it's bad, but it seems important if they're saying that something is absolutely wrong when technically, it isn't. It's just potentially misleading. Aikido is still young and memes are probably the best we're going to get.

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
"Aikido" would be better explained than pithily translated, but people can't resist, as evidenced by the many replies of this thread and others.
Unfortunately, people will take words and use them.

Carl
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