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Old 05-22-2005, 08:04 AM   #1
wendyrowe
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doka of the day translator?

I've been happily reading the Doka of the Day since I joined. Reading the "Basic Elements of Aikido" thread lead me to think more about them. They don't seem to be the John Stevens translations, but poking around the site I was unable to find out the source of the doka translations used here on AikiWeb. I generally prefer the flow of their language and the shades of meaning they invoke for me more than the John Stevens translations.

Jun or someone, can you please tell me who translated the AikiWeb "Doka of the Day"? Thanks!
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Old 05-22-2005, 08:35 AM   #2
Mike Sigman
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Re: doka of the day translator?

Quote:
Wendy Rowe wrote:
I've been happily reading the Doka of the Day
I've glimpsed a few of them when reading the forum, but suddenly I can't remember where they are or spot them. Can someone tell me where to look? Thanks.

Mike
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Old 05-22-2005, 09:49 AM   #3
Charlie
 
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Re: doka of the day translator?

Just hit the "home" link above and to the left...Doka comes up at the top of the page

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Old 05-22-2005, 12:28 PM   #4
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Re: doka of the day translator?

Quote:
Wendy Rowe wrote:
...Jun or someone, can you please tell me who translated the AikiWeb "Doka of the Day"? Thanks!
I've always assumed that Jun translated them. If Stevens or someone else translated them, you'd need a copyright notice.

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Old 05-22-2005, 04:00 PM   #5
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Re: doka of the day translator?

http://www.aikidofaq.com/doka.html

"Edited by Seiseki Abe
Under the general supervision of Doshu, Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei "

I think this is it.
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Old 05-22-2005, 04:13 PM   #6
wendyrowe
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Re: doka of the day translator?

I just looked at the link and compared those doka with some I'd saved from AikiWeb because I particularly liked their translations, and they're the same. So I guess I like Seiseki Abe's translations more than John Stevens' translations. Thank you for finding them for me.
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Old 05-22-2005, 04:22 PM   #7
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Re: doka of the day translator?

You're welcome.

The AikidoFAQ has some really great stuff. I've never read John Stevens translations of O'Sensei's doka. What are the differences and why do you prefer Abe Sensei's to those?

Thanks,

Mashu
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Old 06-26-2005, 11:29 AM   #8
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Re: doka of the day translator?

I don't think we've really solved this mystery yet. Note that the attribution says "Edited by Seiseki Abe", not translated. I have met Abe Sensei, even received instruction from him on the mat, and he never attempted to speak a word of English to me. Unless he was hiding it very well, I would say that he doesn't have any significant ability to write English. Perhaps one of his students did these translations, but they put sensei's name as the editor out of respect?

Dave

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Old 06-26-2005, 06:49 PM   #9
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Re: doka of the day translator?

I don't think it matters who translated it. As Stevens notes in his book, the doka are meant to have meaning on several levels. In other words, it's not the literal translation that's going to be important, it's the nuanced subtleties.... and as usual in Asian writings, you can understand the subtle implications only if you already know them. Because a certain translation *sounds* good or "flows" nicely, is sort of beside the point.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 06-26-2005, 07:28 PM   #10
wendyrowe
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Re: doka of the day translator?

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I don't think it matters who translated it. As Stevens notes in his book, the doka are meant to have meaning on several levels. In other words, it's not the literal translation that's going to be important, it's the nuanced subtleties.... and as usual in Asian writings, you can understand the subtle implications only if you already know them. Because a certain translation *sounds* good or "flows" nicely, is sort of beside the point.

FWIW

Mike
In your opinion, do John Stevens' translations better capture the subtle implications than Seiseki Abe's translations?
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Old 06-26-2005, 07:43 PM   #11
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Re: doka of the day translator?

Quote:
Wendy Rowe wrote:
In your opinion, do John Stevens' translations better capture the subtle implications than Seiseki Abe's translations?
I want to dodge that one, if you don't mind. It's obvious that John Stevens has excellent credentials, translating abilities, etc. However, Ueshiba was privy to some ancient methods of developing the ki which obviously Stevens was not. Since Stevens didn't know what these procedures were, he did his best job of translating and missed what some of the references were for. Nothing against Stevens for that.... it happens all the time in many translations.

Glancing quickly at Stevens' translations and at the ones using Abe Sensei's interpretations (note they are not translations from Abe), Stevens' translations ring my bell quicker about what the original subject was (mainly because I'm familiar with the Chinese versions that have been translated to English). If I hadn't read Stevens' translations, I wouldn't have seen immediately that many of the doka are referring to old ki-development instructions and admonitions that derive from Shaolin Buddhism. It's important to note that these doka are vagaries that more often than not simply allow Ueshiba to mention classical references about ki development exercises, etc..... they do NOT give a specific-enough set of directions for them to be of any use to anyone in learning how, unfortunately. However, and this can't be emphasized enough, just knowing that these things are in the doka is enough of a pointer for anyone who is confused about which way to go.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 06-27-2005, 02:07 AM   #12
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Re: doka of the day translator?

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I don't think it matters who translated it. As Stevens notes in his book, the doka are meant to have meaning on several levels. In other words, it's not the literal translation that's going to be important, it's the nuanced subtleties.... and as usual in Asian writings, you can understand the subtle implications only if you already know them. Because a certain translation *sounds* good or "flows" nicely, is sort of beside the point. FWIW Mike
It should be noted that there is a danger here in the translation. Like Mike points out in his later post, O'Sensei was privy to some pretty heavy hitting cultural nuances that his interpreters were not. So you have to take the translation with a grain of salt. Some nuanced subtleties may be added to fit the translators personal agendas. I'm not implying that Mr. Stevens or Abe Sensei have some personal agenda for misrepresenting O'Sensei's words, but that you need to be careful about how the translation reads.
For example, Thomas Merton's translation of "Lao Tse" differs from others primarily because he was a catholic priest. So, Stevens and others who translate O'Sensei's Doka while having developed their own theories about Aikido Philosophy, will opt for translation that more readily reinforces their own philosophy. Thereby, proving themselves correct. You also have to realize particularly when analyzing ancient Chinese texts that there are great debates and even feuds over what exactly a "literal translation" would be as often there is no exact English equivalent for the idea being expressed.
This by the way is a natural inclination and happens all the time when translating philosophical works into English, so I'm not trying to dissuade you from reading Stevens, or anyone else for that matter. Jest, make as much an informed opinion as you care to make.
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Old 06-27-2005, 06:23 AM   #13
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Re: doka of the day translator?

Quote:
Joseph Bowen wrote:
I'm not implying that Mr. Stevens or Abe Sensei have some personal agenda for misrepresenting O'Sensei's words, but that you need to be careful about how the translation reads.
Well, just to be clear, we're apparently reading someone else's (Jun's, perhaps) English translation of Abe's interpretation of what Ueshiba said. Stevens is translating directly from Ueshiba's written words, as best he can. I agree that there is no deliberate misrepresentation... I think everyone is doing their absolute best to convey as accurately as they can what O-Sensei said. The problem is that the allegorical writing of O-Sensei references some little-known subject matter, so therefore all the translations tend to be skewed and miss the point of the subject-matter to which Ueshiba was referring. Once a bit of skew is introduced into the interpretations of O-Sensei's words, it compounds further down the line. Much of the current belief about what O-Sensei was talking about is, in my opinion, wrong or at least distorted... because of that skew that happens when the translators misunderstand the heavy allusions involving ki and ki development as a "harmonious" and important artifact in the workings of the universe.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 06-28-2005, 01:53 AM   #14
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Re: doka of the day translator?

I agree with the idea that once it gets skewed a lot is lost. But, if we assume all of the initial translations are skewed, how do we know that the references we are seeing in his translation are actually his? Perhaps the individuals translating the work put these elements in because they had no other reference to understand what he was saying. The only way to truly know would be to go back to the original writings and translate them ourselves. Unless, we possess the requisite skills necessary to do just that, we have to take on faith the assumptions that the original translators made. And as such, we are prone to see the translation we feel best reflects our own ideas, as the better of the translations available. I'm not a Japanese scholar, and interpreting someone's handwriting in Japanese is even more precarious then print.
Good luck with your scholarly endeavors........
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Old 06-28-2005, 08:05 AM   #15
Dennis Hooker
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Re: doka of the day translator?

I can't remember where I first got them but I still got the paper copy. Back before the big Internet craze when just a few universities had chat sites and everyone used phone lines I posted the doka one a day over a period of many days. I think that was back around 1985 or 1986 something like that. They have been out there every since.

I think it may have been Stan Pranin who published Abe's Sensei's translation but I don''t remember for sure.Dennis Hooker

Last edited by Dennis Hooker : 06-28-2005 at 08:10 AM.

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Old 06-28-2005, 08:10 AM   #16
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: doka of the day translator?

This is a very interesting topic and so I would like to raise some points that I believe are relevant to the issues being discussed here.

1. In Hiroshima University I teach a specialist class on the philosophy of language and this semester we are concentrating on metaphor. The set text is George Lakoff's "Metaphors We Live By" and the point of the class is to see how Lakoff's theories work in Japanese. Lakoff envisions a whole series of metaphor categories (e.g., in English, anger = heat rising in a container) and (a) argues that this is the way that humans order their experience, and (b) as a result suggests that metaphor categories are 'universal' in some way. However, there is a problem. In the Japanese translation of Lakoff's book, the editors go to great lengths to 'edit' Lakoff's examples and supplement the direct translation of the English examples with a translation more appropriate to Japanese: in other words they change the metaphors from English to Japanese, but this makes nonsense of Lakoff's thesis that the categories are 'universal'.

The issue relevant to this thread is how to translate the metaphors, once we know that the writer was using metaphors (and I know well that there is a Japanese tradition of literary metaphors that might also have relevance here).

2. Sidney Anglo, in "Martial Arts in Renaissance Europe", discusses Hans Lichtenauer's poem on medieval sword techniques and body arts. The poem was written in such a way that only those who knew the techniques of his school could understand it, i.e., it was written in some kind of code. Lichtenauer's poem is lost and so the only way we can (a) crack the code and thus (b) understand what Lichtenauer wrote is to make conjectures on the basis of the explanations that his disciples wrote.

The issue relevant to this thread is to gauge the extent to which OSensei used his discourses, and especially his douka, as a code, which can be cracked if you already know whjagt he was talking about.

3. M. Ueshiba followed in a tradition by (a) writing douka and also (b) giving discourses that fit a particular form, e.g., in "Aiki Shinzui".

(a) The douka were 'waka' and followed a particular literary form. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that Ueshiba followed the conventions of this form, in the way that, e.g., Shakespeare followed in his sonnets. The latter followed a fixed structure and the beauty of Shakespeare is to the see the creative tension between the poetic structure and the grounds of the metaphors Shakespeare uses.

(b) The lectures were also spoken, but I suspect that they followed a particular literary pattern, which is usually expressed in Japanese as KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU.

The issues of this thread involve the douka, but I suspect that the content of the douka will be illuminated by reference to the discourses, which, of course, might well be used as evidence by those who believe that O Sensei was using some kind of code.

In my opinion, the discussion in thread involves issues sketched above:

1. Given that the translator is translating a text, to what extent should the translator worry about the metaphor categories. For example, when O Sensei mentions 'Yamato-damashii', to what extent should the translator regard this as a metaphor for all that is good and wholesome in the human race?
2. If the text also embodies a 'code', known only to those who can crack the code, should the translation ALSO be a code-breaking device? Thus, to what extent should the translator make it known that that a particular phrase is REALLY a code word for something else entirely?
3. If the text is a poem, following in a particular poetic tradition, to what extent should the translator be aware of the poetic tradition, in order to translate the poem. Thus, if I did not know the literary conventions of the sonnet, would this affect the accuracy of my translations of Shakespeare? Would I need to know the sonnet conventions in order to translate 'bare ruined choirs' correctly?

I think that Mike Sigman's concerns, which are clearly very important, involve Item 2.

I must make a disclaimer here. I have no knowledge of Chinese and I have never trained in any Chinese martial arts. So I could never relate M Ueshiba's supposed Chinese allusions in the douka to my own training experiences. Were I ever to translate the douka, this might make a difference.

Best regards to all,

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Old 06-28-2005, 08:40 AM   #17
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Re: doka of the day translator?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
The issue relevant to this thread is to gauge the extent to which OSensei used his discourses, and especially his douka, as a code, which can be cracked if you already know whjagt he was talking about.
Obviously you're using "code" to indicate an obscured reference, Peter, not a systematic artifice containing a pattern or logic. Stevens, in one of his books (I think "The Essence of Aikido", but I don't have it by me), is pretty direct in saying something to the effect that doka are meant to be read and interpretted on several levels, so the idea of a "code", as you use the term, is already agreed upon by Stevens himself, in that regard.
Quote:
In my opinion, the discussion in thread involves issues sketched above:

1. Given that the translator is translating a text, to what extent should the translator worry about the metaphor categories. For example, when O Sensei mentions 'Yamato-damashii', to what extent should the translator regard this as a metaphor for all that is good and wholesome in the human race?
2. If the text also embodies a 'code', known only to those who can crack the code, should the translation ALSO be a code-breaking device? Thus, to what extent should the translator make it known that that a particular phrase is REALLY a code word for something else entirely?
(snip #3 for clarity)
I think that Mike Sigman's concerns, which are clearly very important, involve Item 2.
Well, in regard to Item 2, Stevens clearly annotates his translations with explanations, to a certain degree. I.e., he attempts to explain the references, so he is already entered into the fray. If he had made no annotations, I would have said something like "I wonder if he knows these are common references", or something along those lines.

In several cases he misses the total reference and mentions some part of it, so I assumed it a pretty safe bet that Stevens didn't know what the mixing of heaven and earth, and a number of other things, meant and that they were common qigong references and directions. The suggestion that the whole collection of the same or similar sayings is somehow a sort of coincidence, particularly in light of all the discussions and demonstrations of ki things by Aikido higher-up, is an eye-brow raiser. However, I'd rather avoid any debate at that level and say that I meant no personal disrespect or denigration of Stevens (*nobody* can know everything and I certainly don't)... I was simply pointing out that the lack of his mention of standard ki-training references in his annotations indicates, at least to me, that he missed a potentially valuable clue.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 06-28-2005, 09:03 AM   #18
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: doka of the day translator?

Hello Mike,

In my last post, I was not particularly interested in the ways that John Stevens' translations of the douka did or did not make the grade. I was more interested in seeing how any translation could or could not take account of the issues you raised in this thread.

Best regards,

PAG

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Old 06-28-2005, 09:49 AM   #19
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Re: doka of the day translator?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
In my last post, I was not particularly interested in the ways that John Stevens' translations of the douka did or did not make the grade. I was more interested in seeing how any translation could or could not take account of the issues you raised in this thread.
Sorry, Peter, I didn't realize that you were speaking that generally and I assumed we were still discussing the possibility of Stevens "missing the point" on a particular issue.

In answer to your particular point (although I'm possibly not seeing your question clearly, again), I dunno.... in a way, any translator is to some extent responsible for the accuracy of his translations, wouldn't you say? Take the classic example of how "jin" was translated as "energy" by so many translators, giving us the New Age "energy" syndrome. In actuality, in the vast, vast majority of cases, "jin" should probably have been translated as "trained force skill/vector" or something like that. Translating between the qi-paradigm and the western-science-paradigm is tricky...it is NOT a matter of one-to-one. Regardless, the translators did not justify why they chose the word "energy" as a translation other than it was a legitimate one-of-many definitions in the dictionary. They didn't have the physical skills in "jin" to justify their translations, so it became a matter of choice. Should the translators have given their reasoning (i.e., "code-breaking" assistance) in an appendix... in most cases, I would say yes. Most of the better-written translations (including Stevens') include annotations to that effect, as you're doubtless aware. Yes, I feel it is the responsibility of a translator, particularly in obscure and "new" fields, to provide that sort of information. But that is just my personal opinion.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 06-28-2005, 11:42 AM   #20
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Re: doka of the day translator?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
2. If the text also embodies a 'code', known only to those who can crack the code, should the translation ALSO be a code-breaking device? Thus, to what extent should the translator make it known that that a particular phrase is REALLY a code word for something else entirely?
Peter, it dawns on me that you may be broaching the subject of whether someone "in the know" has any obligation to tell what he knows. You've touched on this idea somewhere before, so in case you're interested, let me give my views:

The subjects we're talking about are specifically the ki, kokyu, etc., subjects, not an unlimited field of information. The knowledge of how to do these things is spread across many martial arts, qigongs, neigongs, etc. I think that Stevens (using him as an example for this particular subject within the martial arts) could easily have indicated generalities without having spilled any beans, etc. If he is going to present an annotated translation, which he did, then yes I think he should divulge general information. In this case, I think it's pretty obvious that Stevens simply doesn't know the references and that's neither good nor bad.

This discussion is so general that I'm not sure we can glean all that much useable information from it. I did a quick Google for "qi of heaven" and had a number of hits (it might be worthwhile for people to look at some of the hits). One of the hits was Jarek Szymanski's excellent website with a portion on Zhang Nai Zhou (whose sayings the mythical Wang Tsung Yueh seems to have borrowed): http://www.chinafrominside.com/ma/ot...s/CNZbook.html

Notice once the translation begins it gets very explicit about how the qi is used and moved. However, if you don't understand what is meant by qi and jin (ki and kokyu, essentially) and how it works, what the "qi of heaven" is, etc., none of this will make any great sense. When you compare this explicit information with the very, very general terms involved in the Stevens translation of the doka, you can see that he, or any author in a similar situation, should have no problem and may have an obligation in revealing this limited but important information.

FWIW

Mike
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