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Old 05-30-2003, 10:01 AM   #51
George S. Ledyard
 
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Quote:
Erik Haselhofer (Erik) wrote:
I wasn't aware that was a Western concept.

How is it that we can successfully produce boxers, wrestlers, tennis players, golfers and everything else? You'd think we would really suck at sports with such a severe handicap.
Well, actually we didn't have any sense of these things being integrally connected. The biggest thing that has happened in the last 25 years or so in world class competitive sports is the introduction of techniques that came out of the human potential movement of the sixties and seventies. The use of techniques which originally came from Eastern spiritual traditions has given birth to the whole field of Sports Psychology. At this point very few, if any, athletes at the very top of international competition do not use techniques which came out of this movement which first introduced the radical notion that things need to be dealt with holistically.

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Old 05-30-2003, 10:54 AM   #52
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Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
techniques that came out of the human potential movement of the sixties and seventies....the whole field of Sports Psychology
I get Timothy Gallwey on the Inner Game of Tennis, George Leonard, of course, and maybe Susan A. Jackson and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's Flow in Sports. What are some other names here, George? And concepts? (I'm not so up on this stuff that I can separate out the "human potential" stuff from its forebears.)

Thanks.

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Old 05-30-2003, 11:21 AM   #53
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Not my field

Quote:
Don J. Modesto (Don_Modesto) wrote:
I get Timothy Gallwey on the Inner Game of Tennis, George Leonard, of course, and maybe Susan A. Jackson and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's Flow in Sports. What are some other names here, George? And concepts? (I'm not so up on this stuff that I can separate out the "human potential" stuff from its forebears.)

Thanks.
Other than what I have picked up over the years by watching the profiles of the athletes and their training on TV, I can't say that I know much about the specifics. I am sure that there are people who are considered to be at the top of this field that most of us have never heard of.

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Old 05-30-2003, 12:07 PM   #54
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I'm argumentative this morning so I might be prompted to say weight training has done more but I won't do that.

Just kidding, really!

Seriously, I don't mean to devalue this stuff. I've read a ton of books on the subject and it's a longstanding study of mine, but it's not so cut and dried as many make it seem. Every top athlete from just about anytime probably had a sense of the value of mind body integration. They just didn't know it was mind body integration, nor, did they have any methods to structure or verbalize it in the way we think of it. So, in one sense, it was new as these guys came along and structured, codified, created terminology, found converts and brought it out into the open. The concept, however, goes back as long as sports have been around.

It's not really Eastern in that sense.

I've also found that a lot of what passes as Eastern mind/body integration is very much a head game and artificial as well. Aliveness just is.

Last edited by Erik : 05-30-2003 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 05-30-2003, 12:09 PM   #55
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Don, you might check out Thomas Tutko as well. He's kind of mundane by today's standards but he was one of the first sports psychologists that I know of.
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Old 05-30-2003, 02:47 PM   #56
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Erik wrote:
They just didn't know it was mind body integration, nor, did they have any methods to structure or verbalize it in the way we think of it.
And here we get to the root of the 'science' issue. The value of a word (like Ki) is in the power it gives us to structure and verbalize (sigh) our thinking. Much of the power of science is in the development of structures for codifying and generalizing the vague understandings of different individuals. By introducing a consistent, reproducible terminology that is more-or-less the same across practitioners, we do more than just label. We allow for the development of a field, for improvement of technique, and standardization of teaching.

Yours in Aiki
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Old 05-30-2003, 05:04 PM   #57
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Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
By introducing a consistent, reproducible terminology that is more-or-less the same across practitioners, we do more than just label.
If I respond to this in a discussion on ki all hell is going to break loose.
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Old 05-30-2003, 05:45 PM   #58
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Quote:
Craig Hocker (kironin) wrote:
"Ki" is a specialized term in Aikido. I seriously doubt your students understand that specialized meaning without some teaching.

best regards,

Craig
Yes, I suspect this is where we differ. I have read some of what Mr Tohei has written on the subject in English and also what Morihei Ueshiba and his son Kisshomaru have written in Japanese.

I do not believe the term is specialized in aikido, in the sense that it is used with any other meaning than those given in, say, the Kojien or Kokugo Daijiten. This is why I do not think I need to explain it to my Japanese students.

Best regards,

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Old 05-30-2003, 05:48 PM   #59
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Quote:
Erik Haselhofer wrote:
I wasn't aware that was a Western concept.

How is it that we can successfully produce boxers, wrestlers, tennis players, golfers and everything else? You'd think we would really suck at sports with such a severe handicap."
Dear Erik..

First of all i associated this thought of mind-body separation to western culture basically because if originated from the French Philosopher/Mathematician Rene Descartes , as I remember.

And more than its roots or origin , is western in application as i understand this way of thinking about your own being is basically a Western thing.

a Misconception of mine??..please enlighten me.

In any case i just posed a couple of questions not did i made any statements on the subject.

Do i think we're handicapped by this on the sport arena??..well there is certainly little space to think there , with all the sports competitions worldwide that takes places today matching man against man from any conceivable origin...i would say we're even on that field.

But why take my post out context and just question me about what i think of the products of western culture on the sports?..what about our performance in the arts?? or sex??

I would say we're even too...althought that would be a long and fruitless discertion i'm pretty sure.

By keeping my questions circunscribed to the Teaching/Learning of the martial Art of Aikido i was hoping to get some thoughts on a fact i've clashed with while I walk that path...and that is that sometimes you're much better just forgetting about excesive rationalization or trying to find logical explanations to everything...and just DO.

Why better in "my experience"??..because you waste a precious time on a search of answers that most of the time wouldnt make your experience any better , assuming your reach a aconclusion at all.

I guess in this matter , i'm on the same sidewalk with Jeff R.

Now everybody WAKE UP! , and have my apologies for the long ramble..

Plus KI!.

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Old 05-30-2003, 06:14 PM   #60
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Well actually, I just remembered this quote:

"I do not need you to believe in order for me to believe."

I wonder who said that...

When I have to die by the sword, I will do so with honor.
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Old 05-30-2003, 06:34 PM   #61
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Quote:
Ottoniel Ojeda (otto) wrote:
Dear Peter G. , Jun and board.

The fact than the KI term is commonly used and understood for the Japanese , makes it easier to teach and grasp the basics of Aikido to the new student??

Does thats gives a better disposition to learn?

Could it be that the western concept of Separation between mind and body , proves to hamper aikido learning/development for us , at least on the early stages??

If that's the case....thanks Descartes

What are your thoughts?

Plus KI!
Well, if you express it as a bald separation between mind and body, the distinction goes back a lot further than Descartes, in 'western' thought probably to Plato and early Greek ideas of the soul.

But, when I speak of a 'bald' separation, I am implicitly suggesting other ways of describing it. Much of English assumes what Reddy called the 'conduit metaphor' and I would not be surprised if much of how we express dynamic mind-body relationships made implicit use of similar structural metaphors.

This talkof structural metaphors can be found in Lakoff's writings and one question is whether the way we express a dynamic relationship metaphorically has any effect on actual performances which assume this relationship.

Another interesting thing for me is to see whether whether Japanese language has similar structural metaphor categories to English. From what I have discovered so far, it would seem not and this might well be of some relvance in considering Japanese concepts like KI, used in English.

Best regards,

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Old 05-30-2003, 09:42 PM   #62
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Hey Peter,

That sounded interesting, but I think I only understood about half of it. Could you elaborate a little more?

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 05-30-2003, 11:07 PM   #63
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Quote:
Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
Hey Peter,

That sounded interesting, but I think I only understood about half of it. Could you elaborate a little more?
Well, for the past ten years or so I have been teaching a seminar here on metaphor. Metaphors are difficult to deal with in linguistics and tend to be relegated to literature: they are important when writing poems etc. I think this is due to a misreading of Aristotle's "Poetics" & "Rhetoric". In any case, both linguistics and literature tend to treat metaphors as being essentially language based.

This view has been countered by a number of people like Reddy, and also Lakoff & Johnson in "Metaphors We Live By" and other subsequent works. Basically, they argue that we speak in metaphors because we think in metaphors, which they regard as categories implicit in thought. Thus, the sense of a sentence like, "His anger exploded in a stream of expletives", for Lakoff, relies on a complex metaphor which regards emotions as objects moving in a kind of space. In fact, the whole distinction between the literal meaning of a word and the metaphorical meaning is itself based on a theory of naming which is also a metaphor: that names are labels for physical objects.

Lakoff bases his thesis on English and gives hundreds of examples taken from English, but he argues that his thesis is universal: humans think in metaphors because they are embodied minds. Now the interesting thing for me is that my course here is taught bilingually, in English and Japanese, with a Japanese translation of Lakoff's book, as well as the English original. Many of his examples do not work in Japanese.

This does not necessarily mean that his thesis is wrong, only that it is more difficult to specify truly 'universal' categories of metaphor.

You might ask what practical relevance this has. Well, some work has been done with patients suffering from cancer, AIDS and other incurable diseases, to see whether the metaphor framework in which they see their disease has any effect on how they react to it—and it does.

Now you can apply Lakoff's ideas to the discourse of martial arts, especially aikido, which has retained Japanese for its central concepts. Of course, the reference point for any discussion of the metaphorical categories underlying aikido discourse in Japan has to be Japanese. When you do this cross-culturally, as with a discussion of ki in English, problems can arise.

Best regards,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 05-30-2003 at 11:10 PM.

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Old 05-30-2003, 11:31 PM   #64
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Thanks, that was very helpful.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 05-31-2003, 05:13 AM   #65
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Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury (Peter Goldsbury) wrote:
Now you can apply Lakoff's ideas to the discourse of martial arts, especially aikido, which has retained Japanese for its central concepts. Of course, the reference point for any discussion of the metaphorical categories underlying aikido discourse in Japan has to be Japanese. When you do this cross-culturally, as with a discussion of ki in English, problems can arise.

Best regards,
Hi Peter!

If you take a group of students in Japan and one in the US, do you think that many years of essentially the same physical practice begins to develop a shared sense of a word like Ki?

In other words, your Japanese students begin with a sense of the meaning of Ki as it is part of the language. I would imagine that their real understanding of the term in an Aikido context changes as they train over the years. When I started Aikido Ki was a foreign term for which I was given a rather simplistic definition. Now, after almost thirty years, I have a very different "sense" of it.

So does the shared experience of the physical practice begin to develop a kind of shared metaphor despite the cultural differences? Or is that common Japanese belief that a foreigner can never understand Aikido (as they do) perhaps really true unless one immerses oneself in the language and culture.

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Old 05-31-2003, 06:32 AM   #66
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George S. Ledyard wrote:

Hi Peter!

If you take a group of students in Japan and one in the US, do you think that many years of essentially the same physical practice begins to develop a shared sense of a word like Ki?

PAG. Only in the sense that both groups could well develop a set of shared values in training which, other things being equal, could be construed as a shared sense of ki. I think this is somewhat different from understanding the word in the same way.

----------

In other words, your Japanese students begin with a sense of the meaning of ki as it is part of the language. I would imagine that their real understanding of the term in an Aikido context changes as they train over the years.

PAG. Now why would this be? Do you think it is because the term really is used in aikido in a different sense from its ‘ordinary' Japanese meaning? I can see no reason why their understanding would need to change, because in aikido ‘ki' is being used in its ordinary Japanese meaning. They might feel their ‘basic' understanding is ‘deepened' or validated in some ways from training, but I do not see this understanding as being different.

----------

When I started Aikido Ki was a foreign term for which I was given a rather simplistic definition. Now, after almost thirty years, I have a very different "sense" of it.

PAG. Yes, when I started aikido, ki was explained to me along with all the other terms we use. However, my understanding of the word has changed, not from 30+ years of aikido training, but from living here and seeing the concept as it works in daily life, so to speak. My understanding has been given depth and a certain validation. I am not joking when I state that in my entire aikido career to date, the only major discussions of ki I have taken part in have happened in the past couple of years, in web forums such as Aikiweb, AJ and E-Budo. And the discussions in this forum lead me to feel I am an orc among elves.

----------

So does the shared experience of the physical practice begin to develop a kind of shared metaphor despite the cultural differences?

PAG. I do not know, but this is a very interesting line of thinking. But I would think that the shared metaphor would be shaped by a shared language.

----------

Or is that common Japanese belief that a foreigner can never understand Aikido (as they do) perhaps really true unless one immerses oneself in the language and culture.

PAG. Well, in Hiroshima, some Japanese probably have a hard time with the idea that foreigners cannot understand aikido because there are several on their own doorstep teaching aikido to Japanese students, who appear to be making the same progress as they would be with Japanese teachers.

I remember a training course in Boston in 1975 (I think) with Kisaburo Osawa. After training, we had a party and were allowed to ask questions. I asked Osawa Sensei if it was easier for Japanese people than non-Japanese to learn aikido, because Japanese had an established conceptual framework available. There was much private discussion among the Japanese shihans present, but after 10 minutes Osawa Sensei answered No: the important point for aikido was daily training, which was important for Japanese and non-Japanese alike. In the circumstances, a gathering of non-Japanese aikidoists in Boston, it was a good answer. Osawa Sensei was a hardened aikido politician, a close friend and ally of Kisshomaru Doshu from before the war, like Koichi Tohei.

I think the common Japanese belief that a foreigner can never understand aikido rests on a different set of assumptions than shared/unshared metaphors. The belief is usually reinforced, not changed, as a result of immersion in language and culture on the part of foreigners.

I think the only way you could make a comparison is if you yourself in your own dojo taught Japanese students about ki, as expressed in English, and studied if this process changed their own understanding of the term.

So it seems to me,

Best regards,

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Old 05-31-2003, 08:43 AM   #67
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Now why would this be? Do you think it is because the term really is used in aikido in a different sense from its ‘ordinary' Japanese meaning? I can see no reason why their understanding would need to change, because in aikido ‘ki' is being used in its ordinary Japanese meaning.
I guess that I would think it were possible simply because for the Japanese students the central metaphor for this ordinary meaning might become the physical metaphor for Aikido. For instance, I don't think we use the word 'relaxation' differently in Aikido than we do in standard English. On the other hand, after years of Aikido, the physical sensations of Aikido are the first that spring to mind when I think of relaxation. In a sense, Aikido has sort of taken over my metaphor for relaxation. If a similar thing happened to Japanese students and the 'meaning' of Ki (where meaning is understood to be the central metaphors we use to understand something) and those physical experiences are also my central metaphor for Ki, then perhaps they would really get closer.

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Old 05-31-2003, 10:32 AM   #68
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I am not joking when I state that in my entire aikido career to date, the only major discussions of ki I have taken part in have happened in the past couple of years, in web forums such as Aikiweb, AJ and E-Budo. And the discussions in this forum lead me to feel I am an orc among elves.

It sounds like I heard more about ki in my first 2 weeks on the mat.
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Old 05-31-2003, 10:48 AM   #69
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Ottoneil, I read your post as a statement on the superiority of the East over the West. It's kind of implied in the statement, or, at least by most who say that sort of thing. If it wasn't then I misunderstood your post.

It's also a misperception, in my opinion, to say that Western athletes (and I used athletes because it's the closest model to us) didn't have any concept of mind body integration. Athletes have understood, as long as there have been athletes the value of 'being focused', 'having their head in the game', 'not letting the other guy get inside their head','playing their game', etc. Someone else might say things like 'lead their ki','keep one point', 'take their ki' or 'extend ki'.

Same understanding, different words.
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Old 05-31-2003, 06:38 PM   #70
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Ki Symbol

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury (Peter Goldsbury) wrote:
Yes, I suspect this is where we differ. I have read some of what Mr Tohei has written on the subject in English and also what Morihei Ueshiba and his son Kisshomaru have written in Japanese.
I suspect so, because my knowledge does not rely on reading the books but on the direct training of Tohei Sensei and his son Shinichi and those of his senior teachers some of who also trained under Morihei Ueshiba. That is what shapes my understanding of the term "Ki" as it is used in Aikido (Ki Society anyway).

I have all the books old and new too. I am not a big fan of the English versions except with a few choice paragraphs that seem to get it right. Some stuff is left out. Not surprising as most martial arts text fail in some way.

May sound presumptious, but it's pretty common for science texts to not quite succeed either even though the author might be quite at the top of the field.
Quote:
I do not believe the term is specialized in aikido, in the sense that it is used with any other meaning than those given in, say, the Kojien or Kokugo Daijiten. This is why I do not think I need to explain it to my Japanese students.

Best regards,
and since I think you are wrong in your belief,

I guess it is best that we just respectfully agree to disagree. I am not hear to tell you what to teach your students but just to offer a different perspective.

I do think probably it is not a specialized term in the Aikikai, but the Aikikai is not the whole world of aikido. For many groups that do use the term, there is a specialized meaning that does require explanation regardless of nationality.

best regards,

Craig
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Old 05-31-2003, 07:04 PM   #71
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Quote:
Ottoniel Ojeda (otto) wrote:
Dear Erik..

First of all i associated this thought of mind-body separation to western culture basically because if originated from the French Philosopher/Mathematician Rene Descartes , as I remember.

And more than its roots or origin , is western in application as i understand this way of thinking about your own being is basically a Western thing.

a Misconception of mine??..please enlighten me.

...Plus KI!.
As part of the neuroscience community, I might interject that western science in the 20th century flushed any lingering notions of a mind-body dichotomy as the nervous system became better understood.

This has certainly filtered into sports. In the 1970's competitive swimmers such as myself were using techniques for peaking performance based on science before I ever heard of eastern/wholistic approaches. The latter not being in vogue till later except in perhaps in some isolated cases on the east and west coast.

The judeo-christian western culture does retain this dichotomy in the general language and religious beliefs. However, top athletes

will use anything that gets them an edge.

Craig

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Old 06-01-2003, 12:54 AM   #72
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Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury (Peter Goldsbury) wrote:
I am not joking when I state that in my entire aikido career to date, the only major discussions of ki I have taken part in have happened in the past couple of years, in web forums such as Aikiweb, AJ and E-Budo. And the discussions in this forum lead me to feel I am an orc among elves.
Nah Peter - there are a few proud orcs running around keeping things interesting. You are not alone.

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Old 06-01-2003, 03:15 AM   #73
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After that last little quip (slightly over the 15 minute time limit for edits) I started musing and then wishing I could draw.

Orcs in a gi - not the uber-orcs seen in the recent Lord of the Rings movies but the kind I have in one copy of the hobbit. Clumsy, out of place, slightly comical - even though they are nasty, cruel and enjoy Hobbits for breakfast.

Craig - I am sure you didn't mean it that way - but I have found Peter G. to be extremely fair to points of view outside of his particular affiliation. What he has to say might not make comfortable hearing but I would never make the but the Aikikai is not the whole world of aikido cop out with him. Trust me, as a Shodokan heathen, I've learnt much about my own heresy from him..

Last edited by PeterR : 06-01-2003 at 03:23 AM.

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