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Old 06-03-2009, 12:16 PM   #26
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
Sportsmanship, though -- what is that -- in budo terms?
I wasn't talking about budo specifically.
Sportsmanship in budo training would mostly be about respect for your training partner. The Dog Brothers may be a good example: they beat the sh*t out of each other, but they also say afterwards you should still be friends. Sportsmanship in budo itself, I don't know. Sportsmanship implies playing a game and budo is not about playing games.
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Old 06-03-2009, 01:51 PM   #27
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

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Erick Mead wrote: View Post
That is your sense of it -- but how can we know that unless you give us your definition?
See my original post in this thread.

Best,
Ron

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Old 06-03-2009, 01:54 PM   #28
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

Quote:
Joep Schuurkes wrote: View Post
I wasn't talking about budo specifically.
Sportsmanship in budo training would mostly be about respect for your training partner. The Dog Brothers may be a good example: they beat the sh*t out of each other, but they also say afterwards you should still be friends. Sportsmanship in budo itself, I don't know. Sportsmanship implies playing a game and budo is not about playing games.
We agree -- on all points. The idea of "sport" as such, is itself a peculiar and modern one -- budo, whatever else may be said, is decidedly "pre-modern." Most sports either were originally a peacetime practice for war or a form of penitential or substitute for conflict.

Shrovetide football and Mayan ball court games were good examples of half stages in the evolution. Sports at that stage were as much relief valve as preparatory exercise. One can see the advent of competitive martial arts in this mode, with some important qualifications -- Certainly some do qualify outright -- Muay Thai and Sumo being good examples of arts at the Shrovetide ball game stage -- where the religious element remains formally integrated to the practice.

Aikido strikes me as a different animal, even among the modern martial arts evolution -- on a number of grounds.

1) it eschews competition (Tomiki excepted), and in this sense is aligned with the koryu, which do likewise;
2) while it was originally envisioned as religiously integrated in a formal sense, that sensibility did not survive even the first generation of students, although in some respects the sublimation of the religious aspects then infused the sensiblity of the art as a whole instead of becoming a mere frame for the practice or competition, as in Sumo
3) Notwithstanding which, the art strives, as its primary purpose, not to sublimate or provide a less deadly substitute for release of the warlike urges but to transform them at a more basic level -- and
4) That goal state (it claims, whether you agree or not) is in fact closer to the roots of the warlike spirit itself.

This fits into my thought about the "desire for overcoming" as an aspect of power to be avoided (OK, I suppose this is now an "Are you good witch, or a bad witch?" type of question. Not that competition makes you a bad witch ... It would just be so much simpler if we could use a convenient bucket of water. (parenthetical to the parenthetical: Wizard of Oz film reference for the non-U.S. reader.) )

While Aikido is viewed by many as somewhat unique in its project in non-specific terms --- on these points considered together it is distinguished from all others, even its sister arts, whether more sporting and non-religious, like judo or modern jujutsu, or more traditional as well as more practically-minded, like DTR (which also eschews competition along with most koryu).

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 06-03-2009, 02:10 PM   #29
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
See my original post in this thread.

Best,
Ron
I had read that, but then, I thought you AGREED with my definition of the desire for power as the sensation of overcoming:
Quote:
... if there is are kinds of power that I seek, some would be the power to influence others without being physical (words, sounds, actions that do not encroach on physical bounderies). Or the power to sustain an assualt, absorb the power directed toward me, and then transmit that power back into a person. Or even to establish my own physical power in a situation that demands it.

So I don't see a neccesarily negative or positive connotation for the word power.
Granting that your desire is more subtle and sedate in its limits, it still remains a wish to make others do things that they might not actually do but for the exercise of aquired power. So as I said, my focus was whether there is a differnce in the nature of power that comes with a desire for it, and the nature of power that comes without that desire.

Put it this way, a growing plant does not exercise "power" over the opposing force of gravity, but it does what plants do in the context of experiencing gravity. Gravity does what it does. The plant grows as it grows, sways as it sways. We can call that a sort of "power overcoming gravity," but that is not the kind of power most people would state a desire for. It is just what a plant does. It is however the type of power (though a more dynamic sense) that I see premised as the goal of Aikido in relation to the attack of an opponent. Whether achieved in the specific case or more generally -- it seems to be the nature of the goal of the art as a whole.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 06-03-2009, 02:42 PM   #30
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

Quote:
but that is not the kind of power most people would state a desire for.
I don't know...maybe I'm just not most people???

Best,
Ron (sorry, really hard day convincing clients to fix their d@mn networks...)

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Old 06-03-2009, 02:49 PM   #31
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

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Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Ron (sorry, really hard day convincing clients to fix their d@mn networks...)
"Use the Power, Ron .. use the Power. ..."

--- or failing that -- pull a Scarlett.

Hope there's a better tomorrow.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 06-03-2009, 02:50 PM   #32
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

LOL Thanks, I needed a good laugh!
Best,
Ron

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Old 06-04-2009, 06:55 AM   #33
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

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Does desire for power help or impair the learning or operation of Aiki as O Sensei understood it?
yes it helps.
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Old 06-04-2009, 08:45 AM   #34
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

Quote:
Frank Laubach wrote: View Post
yes it helps.
Fair enough. What do you make of this ?
(from Peter Goldsbury's translation of the 1940 vision account, here):
Quote:
Morihei Ueshiba wrote:
"My body was full of power, versatile, free of any obstacles and innumerable waza arose as if naturally. If we were to count them, they would be in the tens of thousands. If I had a sword, I could also freely teach people this way of the sword. Why so many and so powerful waza arose was, I supposed, a mystery. However, I also had the feeling that continuing in this fashion was not right."

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 06-09-2009, 09:32 AM   #35
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

Hi Erick,

What do you make of the quote? Sorry if you already have addressed this.
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Old 06-09-2009, 09:29 PM   #36
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

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David Henderson wrote: View Post
Hi Erick,

What do you make of the quote? Sorry if you already have addressed this.
Before the event he wanted power -- there seems little doubt. There are events that suggest other external factors prompting the realization to me, but those are speculative. After -- he seemed genuinely surprised and shocked at his ultimate realization. It is a chastening account -- calling for purification in place of desire for power, perhaps suggesting (without saying directly) that the desire for it may have kept him longer and further from it -- as well as further from its proper purpose. .

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 06-10-2009, 09:47 AM   #37
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

Erick,

Thanks for your thoughtful response. Thinking about it, I felt it would be useful to know, given the statement that "continuing in this fashion was not right," what he then did instead.

Also, I'm not certain why, from the statement, Ueshiba felt it was "not right' to continue with this period of unbridled creativity and expression of "powerful waza," even though he also felt he could teach the results of what he was experiencing to others.

Knowing such facts would help me, I think, see how the quote relates to this thread. To what end did he sublimate the sublime?

Regards,

cdh
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Old 06-10-2009, 11:42 AM   #38
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

Quote:
David Henderson wrote: View Post
Erick,

Thanks for your thoughtful response. Thinking about it, I felt it would be useful to know, given the statement that "continuing in this fashion was not right," what he then did instead.

Also, I'm not certain why, from the statement, Ueshiba felt it was "not right' to continue with this period of unbridled creativity and expression of "powerful waza," even though he also felt he could teach the results of what he was experiencing to others.
In context, it is not easy to say exactly what he thought "continuing in this fashion" represented:

1) this new sword training he perceived he could give to his (then mainly military) students in addition to his other teaching, or
2) the training efforts he had heretofore employed (vice this "divine technique" training and his latter emphasis on chinkon kishin and kotodama), or
3) his larger participation with a war effort that he seemed increasingly disillusioned by (which seems a significant thrust of that edition of Peter Goldsbury's ongoing critical exegesis).

Prof. Goldsbury did not unpack that aspect of the statement in a way to reveal which one was meant (if indeed the ambiguity was even intended to be resolved in the original), though perhaps he could do so from the original.

My speculations have to do with his seeming sudden conversion from avowed nationalist fervor to a critic ( --not only of the war, but in mythological terms a critic also of the preeminence of the Emperor himself) This change is associated, either coincidentally (or at least not provably, according to the good professor) or suggestively (in my view) with several trips to Manchuria at times and places where he was influential enough to have heard reliable reports of or witnessed aspects of atrocities then going on there ( -- notably, possibly those of Unit 731.) Whatever it was, his attitude toward the nature and purpose of budo seems to have altered significantly and over a period of a few short years even before the War was clearly lost.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 06-10-2009, 03:44 PM   #39
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

First I learned in HS AP psychology about Maslow's hierarchy of needs, of which power per se is not a rung. I may fit into the *self-esteem* rung, more for some than others. Then in a college management class, I learned of a different theory in which "need for power" is an utmost need. But, going back to everyone's intelligent comments about how power might have different meanings, to the point of opposing definitions for each individual, I have a true story to share about feeling weak (powerless) then conquering abusive power.

I went to a few summer camps at the Miami Museum of Science as a kid. I took a school bus there in the morning, and one back home in the afternoon. This bigger kid decided to begin slapping other kids at random in the face on the way home one day. He didn't hit me, so I just sat there feeling horrible for the victims. The next day on the way home, he slapped a kid and then me. I pulled him onto the floor, pinned him with my lower body, and twisted my fist into his sternum. My older brother and I, during hardcore play fighting had called this excruciating but otherwise innocuous technique "puncturing the heart." So, I had felt it before from my brother many times, and I knew this bully's agony. I continued driving my fist in as he screamed, cried, and begged. I believe knowing his pain made me shed several tears myself.

I got onto the bus the next morning, and the driver was clapping. Other kids were cheering me on like I was some kind of hero. On some level, I suppose I was. The bigger kid didn't get on the bus nor go to camp again that session, or - for all I know - ever again. The bus driver was so glad she didn't have to put up with that kid anymore, that she praised me in front of the other kids as we set off for science camp.

Drew

I am including a song/video that really chills me out; hopefully some of you will click the link and like it. This song has such a beautiful humility to it, perhaps the opposite of some of the sheer power-tripping found in some other music:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Bnklb3WDTY
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Old 06-10-2009, 04:22 PM   #40
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

If it helps, here is the translation of the same passage from the English version of Kisshomaru Ueshiba's biography:

"I could not understand where this power and creative energy were coming from, but I know that I could not simply stop there."

Sumasu has the sense of settle, make do, manage (in the sense of continue in a particular situation).

Immediately after this passage, Ueshiba had the vision recounted.

PAG

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Old 06-10-2009, 05:12 PM   #41
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

Considering Erick's Post #38:

The Japanese text of the sentence is:

「しかしこのままで済ましてはいけないという気分になったのです。」

Shikashi konomama de sumashite wa ikenai to iu kibun ni natta no desu.

The interpretation of the sentence will depend on the force given to the verb '済ます' (sumasu), which has a wide variety of meanings, mainly with the sense of finishing, settling, leaving something as it is, managing, making do with.

It does not mean 'stop', in the sense of not continuing with one's present activity.

So, for example, after marking a batch of examination papers, each examiner would write 済 (sumi) on the cover page, in indicate that marking was completed.

So O Sensei is negating the force of sumasu in the above quote. "I knew I could not simply stop there" (to me) has the force of remaining, cruising along, in a certain condition. The vision then comes as a justification of this feeling (kibun).

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 06-10-2009, 09:13 PM   #42
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
isn't desire a form of power? a couple of thoughts (I can't count). "power tends to corrupt,...." is it power that corrupt or is it the human that wields power corrupt? is gun kill or the person who pulls the trigger kill? gun represents power, is the person who hold the gun has more power than the gun or less? which leads to some other thoughts, to control a power required a great power, to control a greater power, required a greater still power, and on and on. can power be control with less power? or is power an illusion?
Hi Phi,
I know what you are getting at but I'd put it differently...

Desire is an emotion, it is the thought that motivates action. It isn't nor can it be power.

Power is the ability to act on a desire. When one does not have the capability of acting we call that power-less. When one can act fairly freely in accordance with ones will, we call that power-ful.

However, power can be dangerous or self defeating without control. What is interesting is that control can apply equally to both desire and capability.

Aikido should develop control. It is supposed to develop self control i.e. masakatsu agatsu commonly translated as "true victory is self victory". It also teaches how to control our power.
We train to become masters over our selves and our desires, to bring our desires into accord with the the kannagara no michi or way of the Kami.

The process of doing this gives us great power but this power contains within itself the ability to control that power.

So whether our power is creative and benign or destructive and malevolent depends in the underlying motivation. As Erick has been discussing, we all have the light and the dark within us. Do our motivations i.e. desires come from fear or do they come from love and compassion? O-Sensei said that his Budo was the Budo of Love. Clearly he meant Aikido to be a martial art of the "light" so to speak. The Budo of mere destructive capability was of the dark. Like all humans, Aikido as an art has both sides, light and dark, but as a practice it is meant to take us towards the light.

The light and the dark are meant to be in a dynamic balance. They don't exist without each other. Aikido is the study of that balance and its practice is supposed to take us, as individuals towards that balance. The goal is to bring ones desires into accord with the Will of the Kami i.e. control over ones desires while attaining mastery over principles that can give one tremendous power.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:57 AM   #43
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

Very nice post George,
Thanks,
Ron

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Old 06-12-2009, 09:28 PM   #44
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

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"desire for power," So what is the aspect of our nature from which that inquiry springs?
I have thought about this in all different ways,one way is in terms of those who seek careers to have power over others, as it is the greatest aphrodisiac as I am told. To having power of other in other situations, like with the sexes, or in families. I have come up with having power must come in it's original form from humans being in a ferrel state. It must be a simple mechanism resulting or stemming from need to survive. Like in infancy, a pure mechanism to survive.

I am thinking, we desire power initially as a survival mechanism, and it plays out differently depending where we are at in life. If we become ferrel (or never leave that state of being) where our fundamental needs are not met we seek power to get those needs. Once those needs are met and things get more integrated and complex as other needs are met, our desire for power equally gets complex and takes different forms beyond the obvious at the survival level. For example, as are needs are met we may desire power over others because of something more complex like resulting in psychological harm, or an ideal. Or, we desire power for personal gain, ego, or survival at the office. And l the other stuff that comes after getting our basic needs met. Basic needs see Maslow hierarchy of needs.


The higher you go or off Maslow's model, the more perverted and complex the need for power is. We see that just in what has happened in the last nine years. Or on the other hand, there is the positive result is the complex need, like being creative in positive ways, being inventive for the greater good, competition for the improvement of society, saving other people, and that kind of stuff.

We also out of our own need for safety and species survival and preservation, I think, we want power. Power over the elements and other things we can't control. Relating to the things we can't control can morph into things like aggressively attacking others resulting in blood shed and war.

The

Over all, I think that need for power may be a ferrel survival mechanism that we don't abandon when our basic needs are not met usually or universally in our lives. That we pervert into something that results different forums of violence to wanting people to think and believe the way you want them- there are tons of other examples. When we are not self-aware of such things we tend to continue carry that ferrel need and warp it, pervert it, bringing it into other levels and areas of our lives.

Solution, rare but true, a solution kind of . And that is awareness. Being aware and understanding that as our needs are met we really don't need that ferrel power. The hard thing is, that would lead to idealized utopia that doesn't or can't exist. Because there has and always will be people who will keep that ferrel survival instinct and pervert as their needs are met and new ones created. Not being aware of this and abandoning it I would say impairs aiki, as well.

Last edited by Buck : 06-12-2009 at 09:40 PM.
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Old 06-13-2009, 11:29 AM   #45
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

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Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
It must be a simple mechanism resulting or stemming from need to survive. Like in infancy, a pure mechanism to survive.
I agree with this, since the survival instinct could well be the most fundamental instinct in the world of flora and fauna, including people. Wouldn't it be something else if we all loved and trusted each other? But no, we often sense hostility in strangers, and even in acquaintances, "just in case." This is a safety mechanism, with the next step yearning to feel powerful over them. From the translated Sanskrit in Enigma's "The Child In Us," "[The goddess who is of smiling face, bestower of all fortunes, whose hands are ready to rescue anyone from fear.]" I've met some people like that, but not nearly enough.

Drew
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Old 06-21-2009, 01:15 PM   #46
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

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Erick Mead wrote: View Post
Does desire for power help or impair the learning or operation of Aiki as O Sensei understood it?
We should never forget that O Sensei began his martial quest when he saw his father beaten by a group of men because of his political views. O Sensei's original martial motivation was to become so strong that not even a group of men could suppress him.

Go too far from that and you can get into some pretty stinky thinking.

Of course, after he became incredibly strong, he realized that the true nature of budo is love an protection for all things.

But when I think of some of the aikido sensei I have met and envision their trying to protect anyone or anything (including themselves) by any means other than calling 911 and shrilly screaming for help, it's clear to me that the real meaning of "aiki" is often misunderstood.

When O Sensei asked the champion, Abbe, to try to break his finger, he showed that he was stronger in his little finger than Abbe, the great champion, was in his entire body. When he bested Tenryu through Tenryu's own grasp, it showed much the same thing.

The ultimate point is that, whether you "desire" power or not, unless you have power, all talk of "aiki" might as well be done over mint tea and delicate pieces of cake with sugar flower icing.

And once we establish that aiki is fundamentally about development of power, then we have to question whether that consists mainly of avoiding the opponent's power and hitting him where he's weak, or if it mainly consists of driving his power directly back into his own body so that he literally overcomes himself.

At this point, I'm pretty well convinced that it's really the latter.

David

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Old 06-21-2009, 01:29 PM   #47
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

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...not only does desiring power impair Aiki, but reliance, possession, and use of power is an obstacle to aiki. Of course, there is a minimal level of power needed, but only the amount needed to do the action; anything more is wasted.
Only the amount needed to do the action?

Against whom?

Pee Wee Herman or Arnold Schwarzenegger?

You have to have the power to work against Arnold, even if you only end up facing Pee Wee. In that case, the extra power is not wasted unless you slam it into Pee Wee without cause. Ideally, you would have the power to handle Arnold, but only use enough to handle whomever you need to handle.

David

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Old 06-21-2009, 01:46 PM   #48
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

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Does desire for power help or impair the learning or operation of Aiki as O Sensei understood it?
If a car has somehow landed on top of your child, won't you "desire" the "power" to get the car off your child?

Is it wrong to desire that power?

Like all budo, aikido is meant for instant victory in the time of need--whatever the need may be.

If you could have had the power to save your child but you chose to eschew it because you abstractly decided the power was "bad," and your child dies because you abstractly dithered over what to do, then after that fact, you will not have to be told that you were wrong.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

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Old 06-21-2009, 04:54 PM   #49
Suru
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKWVCv8uWDI

The preceeding link is more humorous the better you know Star Wars.

I've read George Leonard Sensei's Mastery, as well as The Way of Aikido: Life Lessons from an American Sensei. I'm pretty sure it was in the latter work that he hopes for "heterarchial networks" to replace hierarchies. While philosophically I agree with him, in a Utopian sense, I just don't know how we could go from one to the other.

I've noticed that no one likes to be power-tripped on, unless he realizes he deserves it. Even then, it's unpleasant. Most people know the line. If someone crosses that line, that person needs to be placed back in-line, usually with some assertion of power, verbal more often than physical. People who express power for the sake of feeling strong instead of weak, regardless of whether another needs to be put in line, are the dangerous ones.

Drew
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Old 06-21-2009, 06:15 PM   #50
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Does Desiring Power Impair Aiki ?

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
If a car has somehow landed on top of your child, won't you "desire" the "power" to get the car off your child?

Is it wrong to desire that power?
That was the reason for the question. Obtaining power is one thing, desiring it is something else, or so it seems to me. I know it seems a bit of a paradox at first glance, but not necessarily. Power one obtains in desiring power as such for oneself, seems to me materially different from power obtained for reasons -- such the protection of others -- which is an other-directed, instead of self-directed, desire. The episode you rightly cite in O Sensei's initial motivation seems right on point with this inquiry.

The lift-car-off-child scenario, a favorite citation of 'supposed' urban legend -- actually does happen.

It is interesting to look at the fascial tissue studies discussed occasionally in the"internal strength" discussion and to note that the myofascial contraction of structural tissues (the same ones that fix your hands in clenched position after repetitive work like raking or shovelling) are activated by oxytocin -- the "love" hormone (but, even more interestingly, NOT by adrenaline, the "self-protection" hormone). So the nature of the motivational desire in power terms seems to also matter biomechanically.

It is among the class of forbidden experiments, of course, so it is hard to imagine testing empirically, but the biomechanical mechanism seems fairly straight forward -- 1) loved one trapped, 2) oxytocin surges, 3) under muscular contraction, myofascia clench in position; 4) muscles continue contraction contract, 5) oxytocin (a positive feedback system) surges again, 6) myofascia contract, clenching a new position 6) repeat

If childbirth labor be any guage, this can go on for quite a long time, actually, gaining continual incremental lift under oxytocin inducement. Human hydraulic ratchet lift under hormonal mediation.

True budo is love...

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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