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Old 06-30-2009, 01:01 PM   #1
Erick Mead
 
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Pattern Decision, Kotodama & Purple Cows

First, some science:
http://www.physorg.com/news165584101.html
Quote:
"As human beings we spend much of our lives categorizing the world, and it appears as though we use the same brain areas for language that we use for categorizing non-language things like objects, said Blumstein, the Albert D. Mead Professor of Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences at Brown.
Cool. ( But no relation, as far as I know.) Moving on:
Quote:
Subjects were asked to listen to repetitive syllables in a row as they lay in the scanner. The sounds were derived from recorded, synthesized speech. Initially subjects would hear identical "dah" or "tah" sounds — four in a row — which would reduce brain activity because of the repetition. The fifth sound could be the same or a different sound.

Researchers found that the brain signal in the left inferior frontal sulcus changed when the final sound was a different one. But if the final sound was only a different pronunciation of the same sound, the brain's response remained steady.
Anyway. Sound and pattern recognition. Kotodama. What the heck is Kotodama FOR anyway? Sure, mystical-harmony-universe-commune-with-kami-thingy -- great, I'm down with that. But -- practically speaking -- what is it doing to the body-mind that somehow relates it to aikido training? This is not an obvious connection, I think even fairly long training teachers will fairly acknowledge ?And even those that do acknowledge its importance and closeness of its connection seem, almost to a man (or woman, ... ["Shut up, Stan!"] , to have little to offer in the way of rational explanation WHY it may matter or be connected.

Now some of my own work on what physical aikido training does to the body-mind (by no means exhaustive). Aspects of aiki action "trick" reflexive elements of the body's neuromuscular system into action (e.g. -- sankyo applied with the correct shaped-pulse in furitama rhythm causes involuntary extension reflex in the legs, so does ikkyo; kotegaeshi in the same rhythm does the reverse, triggering the flexor reflex, as does nikkyo). And it seems the body may be "tuned" to exploit our own reflexes in a related manner.

The reflexes of one's own body (from my experience, after much training) become much sharper, more focused and seemingly more carefully directed -- well before any really conscious input can even occur. Things like the muscle spindles, gamma motor-neurons, the monsynaptic spinal reflex arcs and the Golgi tendon organs all have some role to play.

But the interesting thing is in the fact of a definitive neuromuscular response to a particularly shaped pulse of vibration at a certain rhythm -- which is another way of saying: "an articulated sound" -- which is to say -- a "word."

Now back to kotodama -- the pattern of repeated and also varied shapes and rhythms of word-sounds is in the nature of kotodama training, as I understand it from those who have written of it (having no one with this particular background available to train with). <<Unburdened with experience or received wisdom on this point -- I therefore plow onward ... >>

However, the ambiguous syllabic nature of Japanese lends itself particularly well to this form of pattern recognition training -- with layers of difficulty in subconscious interpretation of sound patterns as patterns of secondary meaning.

Does not physical- aikido training do the same thing with the whole bodily structure? Teaching the decision-making discriminator of sound patterns in the brain to "hear" patterned movement and remote physical vibration with the same processing system as used for audible sound patterns? From the way my own body both expresses and reacts to types of movement (or does not react, more interestingly, in view of the study's conclusions) I judge this to be close to the mark. From the way I "see" the pattern of a persons structural defects when connected in doing kokyu tanden ho, I know I am doing some kind of pattern modelling to grasp that structural fact as a secondary meaning of a particular set of tangible sensations.

The result is an observation that immediate pattern recognition and unmediated neurological action from that pattern are nearly instantaneous -- And perhaps this is what kotodama is for ...

Similar to being told: DO NOT think of a -- [spoiler] BLUE CAMEL --


[/spoiler]
... ooh... Sorry. I really meant DO NOT think of a
[spoiler] RED ELEPHANT--


[/spoiler]
NO, no, sorry-- what was I thinking -- I cannot forget DO NOT think of the : [spoiler] PURPLE COW --


[/spoiler]

Please don't think of those ...

Last edited by Erick Mead : 06-30-2009 at 01:04 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 06-30-2009, 01:44 PM   #2
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Pattern Decision, Kotodama & Purple Cows

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
Please don't think of those ...
Think of what now? Sorry, just following orders.
Seriously though, interesting stuff. I'll have to read it several more times so I can feel like I understand it a bit (lot) better (if at all).
Thank you, Erick!
Take care,
Matt

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 06-30-2009, 02:35 PM   #3
crbateman
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Re: Pattern Decision, Kotodama & Purple Cows

William Gleason has a new book on it now. I also know Robert Nadeau uses it a lot on the mat, although I don't think he's written about it.
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Old 06-30-2009, 02:41 PM   #4
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Re: Pattern Decision, Kotodama & Purple Cows

So, in short, you suggest that the connection between physical aikido and kotodama is a type of synaesthesia (sounds processed/experienced as movements, movements processed/experienced as sounds)?

Quote:
Does not physical- aikido training do the same thing with the whole bodily structure? Teaching the decision-making discriminator of sound patterns in the brain to "hear" patterned movement and remote physical vibration with the same processing system as used for audible sound patterns?
Or rather, both the sound patterns and the movement/vibration patterns are at some point processed by the same area in the brain, specialized in detection of patterns (or vibration patterns). Recent neurocognitive research seems to indicate that the separate modalities may be not as separate as previously thought, so your idea sounds plausible.

Now, in the spirit of scientific investigation, how easy do you think it will be to convince our shihans to get under an fMRI and very hard imagine performing ikkyo?

Karo
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Old 06-30-2009, 04:04 PM   #5
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Pattern Decision, Kotodama & Purple Cows

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote: View Post
William Gleason has a new book on it now. I also know Robert Nadeau uses it a lot on the mat, although I don't think he's written about it.
FWIW: this excerpt of his new book was given here. I have read his earlier book "Spiritual Foundations of Aikido." It was good. Not so practically-minded, however. Even so, there are things in the approach the new book seems to be taking that seem in keeping with my thoughts here -- though with less in the way of some functional anatomy.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 06-30-2009, 04:18 PM   #6
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Re: Pattern Decision, Kotodama & Purple Cows

I think that any vibrational sound can be helpful when used in a certain type of meditation. The Hindus use OM, and that probably suffices. I really like chanting like Stevens Sensei and his switching it up of different Japanese vowels (out of order) and Aikido-related words. I'll try to find the link...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fs53G4hsMwk

It's almost magical how this can return me to the Source, at least while I'm chanting and maybe for a minute after.

Drew
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Old 06-30-2009, 04:46 PM   #7
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Pattern Decision, Kotodama & Purple Cows

Quote:
Karolina Owczarzak wrote: View Post
So, in short, you suggest that the connection between physical aikido and kotodama is a type of synaesthesia (sounds processed/experienced as movements, movements processed/experienced as sounds)?
Perhaps more fundamental than that. People have a strong preference for oral communication. Hearing did not evolve initially as a communication system but as a spatial sensory syetem -- bats and dolphins have taken that aspect out to one end of a bell curve between sensory optimization and signalling optimization (us). But the same basic architecture is in place. I have even analogized in class that the kokyu tanden ho sensation is akin to a subconscious "sonar."

When I feel a structural opening in kokyu tanden ho it feels not like a synaesthetic experience at all. Instead, it just feels much more like simple orientation in kinesthetic terms -- like a combination of knowing where my own hand is and knowing which side of my head and how high in elevation a sound is coming from. I don't "feel" location, I just "know" it because I heard it. I only heard the sound -- the location is a secondary meaning from the way in which the sound pulse reached me and the "shape" of the sound pulse as it was received. Some types of sounds are easier to place than others for this reason.

Since language begins as representational -- a shape in place of thing, then a relationship between sound and shape is hardly odd. On one end of the bell-curve spectrum bats and dolphins can perceive shape through modulated sound -- we, on the other end of that curve display shape through modulated sound. Doesn't seem that unlikely that the two ends may curve back on each other in places.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 06-30-2009, 05:24 PM   #8
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Pattern Decision, Kotodama & Purple Cows

Quote:
Drew Gardner wrote: View Post
I think that any vibrational sound can be helpful when used in a certain type of meditation. The Hindus use OM, and that probably suffices. I really like chanting like Stevens Sensei and his switching it up of different Japanese vowels (out of order) and Aikido-related words. I'll try to find the link...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fs53G4hsMwk

It's almost magical how this can return me to the Source, at least while I'm chanting and maybe for a minute after.

Drew
Yes, I really found that enlightening when I first saw it about a year ago. "Classical Aikido Kotodama" -- in an Episcopal Church. No, it really was good to see and hear. It illustrates a couple of things that I hear, acoustically --

1) a "carrier' fundamental
2) continuous and discontinuous modulations over the fundamental
3) distinct overtones as the modulations are shifted

Acoustically, an overtone is actually a secondary reverberation at a different frequency in the same sound cavity as a harmonic with the fundamental It is resonant with the fundamental, in this case with transient harmonic pulses. Or, as O Sensei might say -- "Yamabiko."

Kinesthetically, I would relate the fundamental to the action of furitama -- which is at the precise resonance frequency of the human body (~10 hz -- try it -- you can count it out, and you know it is right when you can bounce your heels without direct muscular action merely by the jiggling of the hands at the hara). Resonance does that.

I would relate the modulations to the various pulse-shaping movements in the aiki- taiso: funetori, ude furi, tekubifuri, etc. and also seen the typial way in which Iwama weapons training, particularly, focusses on that "shaking" aspect of the finishing strikes.

The forms of things like tegatana or asagao are really merely the static analogue of the waveforms -- frozen --a potential or a transform waiting to be released rather than an active dynamic.

The overtones I would see as the sensory bits -- the waves that travel along the carrier fundamental wave and give ranging (maai) information to the discontinuities in the structure which reflect waves rather than allowing them to flow through without impedance.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 07-02-2009, 04:06 AM   #9
Charles Hill
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Re: Pattern Decision, Kotodama & Purple Cows

Quote:
Drew Gardner wrote: View Post
I really like chanting like Stevens Sensei and his switching it up of different Japanese vowels (out of order) and Aikido-related words.
Hi Drew,

It is my understanding that this is the order which Morihei Ueshiba used which corresponds to how the Universe began and continues.

Charles
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Old 07-02-2009, 11:01 AM   #10
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Re: Pattern Decision, Kotodama & Purple Cows

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
I would relate the modulations to the various pulse-shaping movements in the aiki- taiso: funetori, ude furi, tekubifuri, etc. and also seen the typial way in which Iwama weapons training, particularly, focusses on that "shaking" aspect of the finishing strikes.
Eric, could you say a bit more about the "shaking" aspect of the finishing strikes in Iwama weapons.

Thanks,
Jeff
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Old 07-02-2009, 03:10 PM   #11
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Pattern Decision, Kotodama & Purple Cows

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Jeff Black wrote: View Post
Eric, could you say a bit more about the "shaking" aspect of the finishing strikes in Iwama weapons.

Thanks,
Jeff
Better, I'll show you:

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

The physical reason for the "shake" is that the rotational momentum of the strike reaches the discontinuity at the end and then reflects back into the body -- it is a reverberation -- an echo inbound of the strike outbound. It may also be turned outbound again to let the reverberations continue, until the energy is used up. "Yamabiko."

Some who practice purely sword arts have criticized this terminal "shaking" aspect of Saito's weapons work, because in a strike that hit a target this energy would not reflect, nore would you neceessariyl wish it to. ( And to be clear, the reflection of rotational momentum (wave refelcting off a beach) is different from linear action-reaction, or "bounce"). Their point is true. But when there is no target struck, this is what happens, if your body is well-connected -- and to a proportionately lesser extent also occurs when the target is struck only a glancing blow. In aiki interaction the sliding, shearing, rotating contacts make glancing interactions tend to predominate. To force a complete dampening in the strike does different things to the dynamic --not necessarily better or worse, but different.

Here: at 1:22-1:45 O Sensei can be seen in what appears ot be using that post-strike reverberation to drive a series of subsidiary strikes to the chest, throat and hands, bearing on the blade, and in some, the throat again. These all seem to be, quite literally, echoes of the initial striking energy -- taking the inbound echo and reflecting it again and again until it is used up. The action is seen in driven form in funetori, and felt when we perform tekubi-furi overhead, or furitama at the hara, driving the heels on and off the ground -- just as O Sensei is driving strikes into the target again and again from the conserved energy of the initial strike.

Several oscillations are ocurring at the same time. To have a good sense of this -- find a radio tower guy wire some place and take hammer with you -- Hit it and see what happens. First there is a eerily pitched tone (used by Ben Burtt for the "blaster" sound in Star Wars, FWIW) The initial sound pulse is easily audible from only the very slightest tap, with very little displacement impulse from the hammer. This is the overtone.

Second, underneath the "blaster" overtone pulse you will hear the "low growl" of the fundamental, which carries on long after the high pitched pulse has dissipated (in the Doka this seems to be spoken of: "The Spirit of Bees." This is analogous to furitama.

Then (which you can't hear) there is a displacement impulse wave that travels up the wire and back down again and it will reflect back and forth for quite awhile. This is analogous to the shaped pulses we form in funetori, tekubi-furi and ude furi. If you grab the wire between pulses, and wait for the next reflection to arrive, it will hit your hand rather uncomfortably with a good bit of the impulse your hammer gave to the wire. This seems also to be spoken of in the same Doka -- the "Demon Snake."

One purpose of ken and jo suburi, and various awase done in this manner in the training regimen for aiki, I have concluded, is to provide the sensation of these same things that are occurring when in kokyu tanden ho I perceive a discontinuity in my opponent's structure, which I may then enter and turn. Discontinuities "feel" different in a non-articulable way when at the wrist, or the elbow or the shoulder and on into the torso.

It will also locate and display discontinuities in the striker's structure, such as poor upper body posture resulting in a sudden forward pitch, poor connection in the lower body leading the lower body to rise and becoming unstable or being "dragged" forward. Bad disposition of the arms results in chaotic movement of the blade, and distinct stress in the elbows and forearms or in the shoulders.

If I were to hit someone with a discontinuity in my structure my energy would "leak" out -- reflecting in proportion to the degree of the disjunction, and come back to me, destructively interfering with a good bit of the outgoing energy. Conversely, if my opponent has a discontinuity in his structure, I can enter very that disjunction small and become massive -- like a tiny leak breaking a dam.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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