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Old 08-22-2012, 12:50 PM   #1
aiki-jujutsuka
 
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Aiki and the Law of Thermodynamics

I've been trying to understand from a physical stand point how aiki works. The definition of ki I found on the internet was "circulating life energy". Now energy takes many different forms such as chemical, electrical, heat and light. There are also two types of energy - potential and kinetic. Another internet definition of the two types is potential energy is stored energy while kinetic is moving energy.

Our bodies use bio-chemical energy that we get from the breakdown of nutrients. This bio-chemical reaction takes place as our bodies catabolise the nutrients. Catabolism and the energy produced by it is vital for our respiratory and circulatory systems as well as digestion.

How does this relate to aiki? Well the First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy cannot be destroyed only changed from one form to another. As aiki (generally speaking) is the harmonizing of energy then it complies with the First Law of Thermodynamics. The principle of blending and redirecting your attacker's energy so as to harmonize with the universe as found in Aikido is scientific as well as philosophical. Thus our potential energy as martial artists and practitioners of aikibudo is in correlation to the kinetic energy exerted by our attacker and consequently the kinetic energy used to defend ourselves will be equal to that of our attacker.

This may be old ground to many of you so forgive me if I am only repeating ideas that have been thoroughly debated before, but this has helped my understanding of the principles and practises of our aiki arts. If anyone can help me further to understand the dynamics of aiki I am eager to explore.

Last edited by aiki-jujutsuka : 08-22-2012 at 12:53 PM.
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Old 08-22-2012, 01:51 PM   #2
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Re: Aiki and the Law of Thermodynamics

Firstly I can't resist appropriating my favorite line from Homer Simpson "In this dojo we obey the laws of thermodynamics", of course he was referring to entropy.

Interesting thoughts, I've seen a number of physics based aikido analogies, the following came to mind that you might be interested in : http://www.stenudd.com/aikido/osensei-einstein.htm
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:02 PM   #3
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Re: Aiki and the Law of Thermodynamics

ki-netic energy

To speak ill of anything is against the nature of Aikido
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Old 08-23-2012, 01:06 AM   #4
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Re: Aiki and the Law of Thermodynamics

Quote:
Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
As aiki (generally speaking) is the harmonizing of energy then it complies with the First Law of Thermodynamics. The principle of blending and redirecting your attacker's energy so as to harmonize with the universe as found in Aikido is scientific as well as philosophical.
I'd be surprised if someone can give a scientifically sound explanation. I'm not trying to be negative, but I see several issues with this question.

In general, using conservation laws like the law of energy conservation to solve physical problems works so well because it enables one to ignore many details. One may not even know how it works in detail, but one can still calculate the numbers. That is the power of those laws. Statistical mechanics (most of the details) were only discovered after the classical conservation laws were discovered. And quantum statistics (the full details) were discovered even later.

Body mechanics is a complex subject. Of course one can calculate the numbers by leaving out details, by viewing the body as a simple object and then using conservation laws. But that doesn't tell you much about what goes on inside (see point 1).

I think that the validity of any scientific analysis depends on the validity of ones initial assumptions. But I don't think there exists full agreement on the definition of aiki that you give. Many may agree with that definition (it can be found on Wikipedia), but then again, I think that many who are actively seeking and studying aiki will disagree with it.

Even if someone is able to give you a satisfactory scientifically sound answer, what do you expect to gain by that knowledge? Learning about aiki is interesting indeed, but it's not the same as learning aiki.
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:15 AM   #5
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Re: Aiki and the Law of Thermodynamics

Quote:
Dave de Vos wrote: View Post
I'd be surprised if someone can give a scientifically sound explanation. I'm not trying to be negative, but I see several issues with this question.

In general, using conservation laws like the law of energy conservation to solve physical problems works so well because it enables one to ignore many details. One may not even know how it works in detail, but one can still calculate the numbers. That is the power of those laws. Statistical mechanics (most of the details) were only discovered after the classical conservation laws were discovered. And quantum statistics (the full details) were discovered even later.

Body mechanics is a complex subject. Of course one can calculate the numbers by leaving out details, by viewing the body as a simple object and then using conservation laws. But that doesn't tell you much about what goes on inside (see point 1).

I think that the validity of any scientific analysis depends on the validity of ones initial assumptions. But I don't think there exists full agreement on the definition of aiki that you give. Many may agree with that definition (it can be found on Wikipedia), but then again, I think that many who are actively seeking and studying aiki will disagree with it.

Even if someone is able to give you a satisfactory scientifically sound answer, what do you expect to gain by that knowledge? Learning about aiki is interesting indeed, but it's not the same as learning aiki.
And much like quantum mechanics simply knowing the equations does not help explain how to actually do something. For example, knowing the details of quantum tunneling does not particularly help in building a Josephson junction - takes more practical hands on experience in using vacuum deposition methods for that (depending on how you want to make your junction - and what you want to use it for).

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

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Old 08-23-2012, 11:26 AM   #6
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Re: Aiki and the Law of Thermodynamics

A law such as conservation of energy may be fixed. But a human being within her individual capabilities has many options for how much speed, strength or energy she chooses to use in any particular encounter. I may be missing something but am so far baffled by the implied connection of the two things. Can it be further explained? Thank you.

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Old 08-23-2012, 12:13 PM   #7
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Re: Aiki and the Law of Thermodynamics

Quote:
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I may be missing something but am so far baffled by the implied connection of the two things. Can it be further explained? Thank you.
I think it comes down to Aikido's first law of conservation of energy: The harder you attack me the harder you hit the mat.

Last edited by akiy : 08-23-2012 at 01:15 PM. Reason: Fixed quote tag
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Old 08-24-2012, 07:45 AM   #8
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Re: Aiki and the Law of Thermodynamics

some great points, I'm just exploring and trying to understand I recognise that definitions of aiki are contested and I also understand that theory and practice are two different things. I'm no scientist, I just found the idea interesting, hopefully over the years the gaps in my understanding and practice will decrease as I gain more experience.
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Old 08-24-2012, 11:36 AM   #9
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Re: Aiki and the Law of Thermodynamics

Well, obviously there's a pure physics dimension of anything, including a martial art. That will give you at least some part of the answer to the question "How does it work?" And, for some people, that's all the answer they care about, maybe. It explains a lot. But it doesn't explain much of "Why does it work?" or maybe "Why does it happen?"

As a practical matter, I'd consider Tony's "Aikido's first law of conservation of energy". Understanding how what you put in equals what you get out is much more useful than trying to find the manifestation of abstract laws of theoretical physics.
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Old 08-24-2012, 05:56 PM   #10
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Re: Aiki and the Law of Thermodynamics

Quote:
Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
I've been trying to understand from a physical stand point how aiki works. The definition of ki I found on the internet was "circulating life energy". Now energy takes many different forms such as chemical, electrical, heat and light. There are also two types of energy - potential and kinetic. Another internet definition of the two types is potential energy is stored energy while kinetic is moving energy.

Our bodies use bio-chemical energy that we get from the breakdown of nutrients. This bio-chemical reaction takes place as our bodies catabolise the nutrients. Catabolism and the energy produced by it is vital for our respiratory and circulatory systems as well as digestion.

How does this relate to aiki? Well the First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy cannot be destroyed only changed from one form to another. As aiki (generally speaking) is the harmonizing of energy then it complies with the First Law of Thermodynamics. The principle of blending and redirecting your attacker's energy so as to harmonize with the universe as found in Aikido is scientific as well as philosophical. Thus our potential energy as martial artists and practitioners of aikibudo is in correlation to the kinetic energy exerted by our attacker and consequently the kinetic energy used to defend ourselves will be equal to that of our attacker.

This may be old ground to many of you so forgive me if I am only repeating ideas that have been thoroughly debated before, but this has helped my understanding of the principles and practises of our aiki arts. If anyone can help me further to understand the dynamics of aiki I am eager to explore.
It will be difficult to connect the two concepts of ki and physical energy, since ki isn't an energy in the same way that physicists talk about energy. We can see this because the movements of a given person can be wholly expressed purely in physical terms known to science, such as mass and kinetic energy, without invoking ki or an equivalent. Ki, in my opinion, is more-or-less a convenient way to express otherwise very complex physical processes.

I would also say here that the first law of thermodynamics applies only to closed systems - that is, a system from which energy cannot be lost or gained. When taking a 'system' of two aikidoka practising together, conservation of energy is not present as energy dissipates outside the system, for example into the ground, or as body heat lost to the atmosphere, etc. Aikdo does, of course, comply with the first law of thermodynamics, but this is because all known classical physical processes comply with the first law of thermodynamics.
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Old 08-25-2012, 04:25 AM   #11
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Re: Aiki and the Law of Thermodynamics

I think the great temptation is to treat Physics like we treat Ki, as a *cough* big tent. Many of the elements of science and physics just aren't so relevant except to what they are intended to study. Most frequently its jumping straight to quantum physics and the more esoteric (in the sense that its not so well understood) aspects of physics, when really as an aid to understanding aiki starting with the more mundane questions - such as where is my centre of mass?, where is the base of support? and some force diagrams can help a lot. I am sure the other stuff can help but KISS (keep it simple ) is the guiding though less attractive light.

Daniel James, Brisbane Aikido Republic: AikiPhysics, Aikido Brisbane news,
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Old 08-25-2012, 05:14 AM   #12
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Re: Aiki and the Law of Thermodynamics

Quote:
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I think the great temptation is to treat Physics like we treat Ki, as a *cough* big tent. Many of the elements of science and physics just aren't so relevant except to what they are intended to study. Most frequently its jumping straight to quantum physics and the more esoteric (in the sense that its not so well understood) aspects of physics, when really as an aid to understanding aiki starting with the more mundane questions - such as where is my centre of mass?, where is the base of support? and some force diagrams can help a lot. I am sure the other stuff can help but KISS (keep it simple ) is the guiding though less attractive light.
I can see now my comparison is flawed, however this thread has raised some really interesting points (at least to me). Would you mind elaborating on these force diagrams you mention? You also refer to 'mundane questions' could you enlighten me to the fundamental Aikido questions that all good Aikidoka should know in regards their practice.

Thank you
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Old 08-25-2012, 09:17 PM   #13
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Re: Aiki and the Law of Thermodynamics

I wouldn't say flawed, such physical systems as two people interacting are complex, but we often use concepts we understand as analogies for what we do. I'm sure we've all been given instructions in class such as: "pick up a boulder and lay it on your uke's chest". Such things help form an image in our mind of what we are trying to do. If you have a concept that helps you visualize what you're doing, I think go for it.

By the way Ewen, check out Daniels AikiPhysics link in signature block to see his articles on physics and Aikido, interesting stuff I think, and he has a few force diagrams.
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Old 08-27-2012, 01:04 AM   #14
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don't be aikido's Galileo

Dear aiki-jujutsuka,

Quote:
Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
I can see now my comparison is flawed, however this thread has raised some really interesting points (at least to me). Would you mind elaborating on these force diagrams you mention? You also refer to 'mundane questions' could you enlighten me to the fundamental Aikido questions that all good Aikidoka should know in regards their practice.
the only thing that all good aikidoka should know in regards to their practice is not to ask questions. in aikido, function follows form. by taking your line of inquiry, it is disrespectful and heretical to your senpai, sensei, shihan, association, organization and/or style.

if you want to know how techniques actually work, you're better off studying another martial art other than aikido. but if you want to become a better person who strives for personal development and growth, then study aikido.

YoungIn Park
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Old 08-27-2012, 01:47 AM   #15
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Re: don't be aikido's Galileo

Quote:
Young-In Park wrote: View Post
Dear aiki-jujutsuka,

the only thing that all good aikidoka should know in regards to their practice is not to ask questions. in aikido, function follows form. by taking your line of inquiry, it is disrespectful and heretical to your senpai, sensei, shihan, association, organization and/or style.

if you want to know how techniques actually work, you're better off studying another martial art other than aikido. but if you want to become a better person who strives for personal development and growth, then study aikido.

YoungIn Park
Of course, since you can't ask any questions, how do you know that Aikido actually gets you to personal development and growth?

Also, by your line of reasoning, how do you figure that Morihei Ueshiba wasn't disrespectful and heretical to his senpai, sensei, shihan, association, organization and/or style?

I'm sorry, but if you believe the above then you're in a cult, IMO.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-27-2012, 03:46 AM   #16
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Re: don't be aikido's Galileo

Quote:
Young-In Park wrote: View Post
Dear aiki-jujutsuka,

the only thing that all good aikidoka should know in regards to their practice is not to ask questions. in aikido, function follows form. by taking your line of inquiry, it is disrespectful and heretical to your senpai, sensei, shihan, association, organization and/or style.

if you want to know how techniques actually work, you're better off studying another martial art other than aikido. but if you want to become a better person who strives for personal development and growth, then study aikido.

YoungIn Park
Imitate or innovate..its a tricky one

Daniel James, Brisbane Aikido Republic: AikiPhysics, Aikido Brisbane news,
ph 0413 001 844, 1593 Logan Rd, Mt.Gravatt, Brisbane, AUSTRALIA
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Old 08-27-2012, 07:26 AM   #17
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Re: don't be aikido's Galileo

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Of course, since you can't ask any questions, how do you know that Aikido actually gets you to personal development and growth?

Also, by your line of reasoning, how do you figure that Morihei Ueshiba wasn't disrespectful and heretical to his senpai, sensei, shihan, association, organization and/or style?

I'm sorry, but if you believe the above then you're in a cult, IMO.

Best,

Chris
Thank you, that comment unnerved me alittle.

@ Daniel James I loved the aikiphysics articles, they were very informative and thought provoking
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Old 08-27-2012, 08:47 AM   #18
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Re: don't be aikido's Galileo

Quote:
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Imitate or innovate..its a tricky one
Looking back on my Aikido recently, this is a question that has occurred to me. I was reminded of my first sensei, his attitude was: his sensei spent many years on the mat with O'sensei, and he has copied what every movement his sensei did, we should observe and copy exactly everything movement that our sensei does, that way we learn the aikido O'sensei taught.

In someways this can make sense, but I'm reminded of a Michael Keating film where he copies himself, and they copy themselves, and Michael asks whats wrong with that one, and they answer, "you know when you make a copy of a copy of a copy it doesn't turn out right".

Don't get me wrong I still consider my first Sensei an excellent Aikido-da and his Sensei (Saito) amazing, I just feel that Aikido is more than body position, and the angle you fingers are spread apart. So any ideas or insights we can gain to what going on can only help.

On the innovation front, I think that's a natural and unavoidable part of any art. I remember seeing a video of Saito saying he taught what he learnt from O'sensei and other are teaching what they learned and they all took different thing out of it. I think its natural of O'sensei students, many of whom are masters in their own right, to be maybe 80% of what O'sensei taught and 20% of their own personality/style (all statistics are made up ). We know Saito doesn't look like Shioda, doesn't look like Tohei, doesn't look like Nisho ... etc.

Personally I'm still at the learning stage. Still so much to learn and a long time, if ever, before I'd have a tool chest big enough to think of innovating, but I love learning from those that do.
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Old 08-27-2012, 09:39 AM   #19
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Re: don't be aikido's Galileo

Quote:
Tony Mills wrote: View Post
Looking back on my Aikido recently, this is a question that has occurred to me. I was reminded of my first sensei, his attitude was: his sensei spent many years on the mat with O'sensei, and he has copied what every movement his sensei did, we should observe and copy exactly everything movement that our sensei does, that way we learn the aikido O'sensei taught.

In someways this can make sense, but I'm reminded of a Michael Keating film where he copies himself, and they copy themselves, and Michael asks whats wrong with that one, and they answer, "you know when you make a copy of a copy of a copy it doesn't turn out right".

Don't get me wrong I still consider my first Sensei an excellent Aikido-da and his Sensei (Saito) amazing, I just feel that Aikido is more than body position, and the angle you fingers are spread apart. So any ideas or insights we can gain to what going on can only help.

On the innovation front, I think that's a natural and unavoidable part of any art. I remember seeing a video of Saito saying he taught what he learnt from O'sensei and other are teaching what they learned and they all took different thing out of it. I think its natural of O'sensei students, many of whom are masters in their own right, to be maybe 80% of what O'sensei taught and 20% of their own personality/style (all statistics are made up ). We know Saito doesn't look like Shioda, doesn't look like Tohei, doesn't look like Nisho ... etc.

Personally I'm still at the learning stage. Still so much to learn and a long time, if ever, before I'd have a tool chest big enough to think of innovating, but I love learning from those that do.
I have just finished watching Katsuyuki Kondo's What is Aiki? dvd and in it he mentions the fact that one day his younger brother will take over the hombu of Daito Ryu AJJ and that his brother's interpretation of aiki & his teaching of Daito-Ryu AJJ will be slightly different from his. He concedes this is natural and said nothing was wrong with it.

I think it's only natural, especially as aiki arts are internal arts that we interpret things slightly differently from our teachers, we know how our body mechanics work and which techniques suit our bodies and abilities better than others. Most of my instructors are thicker set men than I am and shorter too, they are also considerably older than I am so their bodies are not as agile as they used to be. One of my instructors used to box and so atemis are very important to his AJJ, another likes to keep things very simple and stresses the small circle movement of our kata, still another loves experimenting with henka waza and coming up with different solutions to hypothetical attacks. They all offer something different and help me with the different aspects to AJJ.
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Old 08-27-2012, 08:08 PM   #20
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drinking the Kool-Aid

Dear Mr. Li,

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Of course, since you can't ask any questions, how do you know that Aikido actually gets you to personal development and growth?

Also, by your line of reasoning, how do you figure that Morihei Ueshiba wasn't disrespectful and heretical to his senpai, sensei, shihan, association, organization and/or style?

I'm sorry, but if you believe the above then you're in a cult, IMO.
I know I achieve personal development and growth when my sensei tells me I have achieved enlightenment. The most tangible metric of my personal development and growth is my rank in aikido. instead of ranks based on technical proficiency in the art, i've voluntarily subordinated myself to a system where rank is rewarded on the basis of sycophantic actions towards the sensei, shihan, dojo, association, organization and/or style.

i've heard the argument in aikido that its disrespectful not to do exactly what the sensei is doing and that it is very important to do preserve the lineage by faithfully following the instructional methodologies as you've learned them. and yet Ueshiba clearly took a divergent path than that of Takeda and Daito-ryu, the technical basis of aikido. however, any student of Japanese history knows that inconvienent inconsistencies should be overlooked in order to promote the outward image of the senpai, sensei, dojo, shihan, association, organization and/or style.

Personally, I don't care for your opinion that I'm in a cult. "[Civility] is claiming and caring for one's identity, needs and beliefs without degrading someone else's in the process." I would appreciate it in future communication that you conduct yourself in a more civil and respectful manner.

trying to maintain the wa,
YoungIn Park
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Old 08-27-2012, 08:16 PM   #21
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Re: drinking the Kool-Aid

Quote:
Young-In Park wrote: View Post
Dear Mr. Li,

I know I achieve personal development and growth when my sensei tells me I have achieved enlightenment. The most tangible metric of my personal development and growth is my rank in aikido. instead of ranks based on technical proficiency in the art, i've voluntarily subordinated myself to a system where rank is rewarded on the basis of sycophantic actions towards the sensei, shihan, dojo, association, organization and/or style.

i've heard the argument in aikido that its disrespectful not to do exactly what the sensei is doing and that it is very important to do preserve the lineage by faithfully following the instructional methodologies as you've learned them. and yet Ueshiba clearly took a divergent path than that of Takeda and Daito-ryu, the technical basis of aikido. however, any student of Japanese history knows that inconvienent inconsistencies should be overlooked in order to promote the outward image of the senpai, sensei, dojo, shihan, association, organization and/or style.

Personally, I don't care for your opinion that I'm in a cult. "[Civility] is claiming and caring for one's identity, needs and beliefs without degrading someone else's in the process." I would appreciate it in future communication that you conduct yourself in a more civil and respectful manner.

trying to maintain the wa,
YoungIn Park
Honestly, I have no idea what you're trying to say.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-27-2012, 11:52 PM   #22
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Re: don't be aikido's Galileo

Quote:
Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
Thank you, that comment unnerved me alittle.

@ Daniel James I loved the aikiphysics articles, they were very informative and thought provoking
Thanks Ewen and glad they were of some use, To be sure they are incomplete and probably only a first order approximation (at best ) of understanding. Whilst somewhat autobiographical they have also allowed/facilitated conversation and dialogue. I hope to get better....

Daniel James, Brisbane Aikido Republic: AikiPhysics, Aikido Brisbane news,
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:38 AM   #23
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Re: drinking the Kool-Aid

Quote:
Young-In Park wrote: View Post
Dear Mr. Li,

I know I achieve personal development and growth when my sensei tells me I have achieved enlightenment. The most tangible metric of my personal development and growth is my rank in aikido. instead of ranks based on technical proficiency in the art, i've voluntarily subordinated myself to a system where rank is rewarded on the basis of sycophantic actions towards the sensei, shihan, dojo, association, organization and/or style.

i've heard the argument in aikido that its disrespectful not to do exactly what the sensei is doing and that it is very important to do preserve the lineage by faithfully following the instructional methodologies as you've learned them. and yet Ueshiba clearly took a divergent path than that of Takeda and Daito-ryu, the technical basis of aikido. however, any student of Japanese history knows that inconvienent inconsistencies should be overlooked in order to promote the outward image of the senpai, sensei, dojo, shihan, association, organization and/or style.

Personally, I don't care for your opinion that I'm in a cult. "[Civility] is claiming and caring for one's identity, needs and beliefs without degrading someone else's in the process." I would appreciate it in future communication that you conduct yourself in a more civil and respectful manner.

trying to maintain the wa,
YoungIn Park
Is there some sort of sarcasm tag that should be around this? I'm a bit confused by the latter parts and can only make sense of the first part if it is meant in jest.

Ars longa, vita brevis, occasio praeceps, experimentum periculosum, iudicium difficile
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Old 08-28-2012, 06:32 AM   #24
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jun 2006
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Re: Aiki and the Law of Thermodynamics

Maybe one day we can have a thread that doesn't go toxic PDQ.

But that is not this day, nor any day soon, I'm thinking.

More and more and more discouraged about this forum,
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Old 08-28-2012, 07:58 AM   #25
Keith Larman
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,497
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Re: Aiki and the Law of Thermodynamics

Ignore list...

On the topic... I met a guy recently, a metallurgist, who told me all sorts of stuff about how it is that what I do gets the results I get. He then brings out a blade he bought and "polished" himself with natural stones he found that he felt worked great. I stood there looking at a horribly shaped, rounded, partially dull blade with virtually nothing brought out in the finish. Everything from point A to point Z was "wrong".

I have no doubt he knows tons more than me about metallurgy. He apparently doesn't know jack about polishing it in the traditional style, however... And the fact that he apparently sincerely believed he did a good job showed how very little he knew about actually doing it. You often can't see what you don't already know. Sometimes you need to see it over and over again until it "pops" in to view. Then you're ready to see the next thing. Funny how that works...

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