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Old 09-21-2006, 11:59 AM   #1
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Article: What is Aiki? by George S. Ledyard

Discuss the article, "What is Aiki?" by George S. Ledyard here.

Article URL: http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/gledyard/2006_09.html
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Old 09-21-2006, 03:34 PM   #2
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Article: What is Aiki? by George S. Ledyard

Excellent, clear approach to the manifestation of psychology in physical movement for aiki and ki musubi. Thanks.

Several of the images you used are very resonant, although I have not heard them put quite that way before. The "seam" image particularly, has rich possibilities. There is something related to that on the tip of my tongue -- but I cannot articulate it at the moment. It will come to me.

There is one image you did not touch on, but which relates particularly to a point you made on the engaged movement of aiki: "Rotation Resolves Conflict"

I have been pondering for a while now the image of "juuji" 十 the cross shape. (O-Sensei even called the art "juujido" in one Doka.)

My reasons for this contemplation are, in part, concerned with spiritual matters, because of the obvious ecumenical aspects of that image. But I equally wish to understand how O-Sensei saw its imagery as fundamentally depicting Aikido technique, since -- as I understand his meaning -- spirit and practice are coextensive.

A couple of serious points on imagery and then a bit (a very tiny bit) of a joke:

The juuji figure 十 symbolizes (in Japan, also) the union (Tenchi) of Heaven (the vertical) and Earth (the horizontal). One connotation of juu 十 is therefore "complete, or sufficient."

The cross is self-similar at all scales; the arms can extend from center to infinity without altering its shape (or its center). This is the irimi dimension of aiki.

It is also self-similar by rotation of ninety degrees. This is the tenkan dimension of aiki.

Movement directly toward the center (irimi) while the cross rotates about its center (tenkan), is a spiral.

Happo undo (eight directions) is the cross crossed (or "squared," yet another image) in saltire (diagonals, suggesting shikaku).

Soooo ...

The attacker represents the vertical and the defender, the horizontal.

By entry and rotation (irimi-tenkan) the defender becomes vertical and the attacker ... horizontal.

ba-dum-pum. Here all week ...

I will leave on a bit of the ecumenical note that also interests me -- apropos of the joke and the image for its application in aikido:

"But many that are first will be last, and the last first." Matthew 19:30; Mark 10:31.

Thanks again.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 09-22-2006, 12:27 PM   #3
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Re: Article: What is Aiki? by George S. Ledyard

A good article. Thanks. It's given me some things to think about and build upon what I've already been thinking about.

Just to touch upon this part,

"If the defender is "blending" with the energy of the attacker, and the attacker is blending with the energy of the defender, who controls the interaction?"

I guess this ties in with the theory of leading in aikido. Where you lead but you really aren't leading. At the point where you are defender and using all your concepts and moving along the seam, you are somewhat leading (or guiding) the attacker. This is because the attacker is going somewhere he/she didn't specifically want to go. But you aren't really leading the attacker because you, as defender, aren't taking him/her where you specifically want him/her to go.

But, when the situation is like the quoted above where the "blending" is done by both ...
I don't know. Maybe someday.

Mark
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Old 09-22-2006, 12:42 PM   #4
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Re: Article: What is Aiki? by George S. Ledyard

Very well done, Sensei. All aikidoka should allow themselves to think this deeply into principles. These principles manifest themselves best on the mat, but are important elsewhere as well. Thinking in these terms opens one's eyes to the scenery during the trip. It is plain to see that this article has required much effort on your part. Please keep them coming.
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Old 09-22-2006, 01:29 PM   #5
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Re: Article: What is Aiki? by George S. Ledyard

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
A good article. Thanks. It's given me some things to think about and build upon what I've already been thinking about.

Just to touch upon this part,

"If the defender is "blending" with the energy of the attacker, and the attacker is blending with the energy of the defender, who controls the interaction?"

I guess this ties in with the theory of leading in aikido. Where you lead but you really aren't leading. ... But you aren't really leading the attacker because you, as defender, aren't taking him/her where you specifically want him/her to go.
...
But, when the situation is like the quoted above where the "blending" is done by both ...
I don't know. Maybe someday.
I can see one possible restatement of the aiki koan Ledyard Sensei proposed that is very much in line with your comment:

"Nage leads wherever uke follows."

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 09-22-2006, 02:20 PM   #6
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Re: Article: What is Aiki? by George S. Ledyard

You know, thinking about the heaven-earth-man phraseology and then juji, it makes me think O'Sensei was talking about the cross in the upper chest/back.
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Old 09-24-2006, 11:12 AM   #7
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Re: Article: What is Aiki? by George S. Ledyard

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote:
You know, thinking about the heaven-earth-man phraseology and then juji, it makes me think O'Sensei was talking about the cross in the upper chest/back.
Me, too. In fact, all the discussions by O-Sensei about the cross, heaven-earth, 8 powers, etc., present such a common cross-section to the ancient terminology of the so-called "internal" skills, that it becomes impossible to either gloss over or to reconcile as some form of coincidence.

Here's the "cross", BTW:
http://www.neijia.com/cross.jpg

Until someone meaningfully reconciles these fairly obvious factors with "aiki", we'll never have a complete discuss of "Aiki" in the way that O-Sensei meant it, because these are the terms that he used.

My 2 cents.

Mike Sigman
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Old 09-24-2006, 04:11 PM   #8
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Re: Article: What is Aiki? by George S. Ledyard

Very useful diagram. I never knew where my little finger was before, but now I do!

Very nice article in the OP!!

A secret of internal strength?:
"Let your weight from the crotch area BE in his hands."
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Old 09-24-2006, 10:46 PM   #9
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Re: Article: What is Aiki? by George S. Ledyard

Thanks guys! This wasn't really meant to be an article. It started as an outline for a block of instruction I was preparing on the Principles of Aiki. It has morphed into what will probably be the basic outline for a book. Each of the principles I talked about could easily be fleshed out into a whole chapter. With some diagrams and some more info on practical training exercises to help people understand each principle, it would be a whole book.

Anyway, this isn't meant to be an explanation of how O-Sensei understood these things. This is how I understand them. These are the principles which I use when I am doing my Aikido. Most people have read various books on Aikido and have heard many of these Japanese terms used but most folks have no actual idea what these terms mean in the practical sense of how they actually operate in technique and how they would go about training to develop this understanding. So this material is actually the lesson plan for a very practical block of instruction that I have been working on which should make many of these principles mush more clear for people from any style of Aikido.

I'll be covering much of this material in two of the seminars I am doing this Fall.

Next weekend 9/29 - 10/1 I'll be at Redlands Aikido in CA
Seminar Flyer

Also, November 17 - 19th I'll be in Bozeman, MT
Bozeman Aikido

If anyone can come I'd love to see you there!

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
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AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 09-25-2006, 07:57 AM   #10
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Re: Article: What is Aiki? by George S. Ledyard

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Thanks guys! ...
Anyway, this isn't meant to be an explanation of how O-Sensei understood these things. This is how I understand them. These are the principles which I use when I am doing my Aikido. Most people have read various books on Aikido and have heard many of these Japanese terms used but most folks have no actual idea what these terms mean in the practical sense of how they actually operate in technique and how they would go about training to develop this understanding.
The task of our day is to make aikido plain-spoken, but still inspiring in its choice of words. (I know for a fact that I fail on both counts.) This is how I think O-Sensei originally meant to be understood: plainly and with much feeling. He meant there to be no intellectual or emotional barriers to the art at all.

O-Sensei spoke of difficult things, but in terms of fairly common usage -- when he developed them. Even Omoto was popular precisely because it was a teaching of common language and feeling, not a comprehensive ideology. Even training in Japan today will hardly expose one to the same cultural environment in which aikido was understood when it was developed.

A Westerner would have to look very hard for such opportunities. Today, anything less than an graduate-level education (or better) in the underlying cultural history makes O-Sensei's original descriptions of aikido far more esoteric than he meant it to be -- or than it is.

This article is exactly what we need: the interpretation of ideas, not just more translation of them. It is a direction that I hope will be promoted more widely. I hope that book will get written.

It is a very good start.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 09-25-2006, 08:57 AM   #11
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Re: Article: What is Aiki? by George S. Ledyard

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
This article is exactly what we need: the interpretation of ideas, not just more translation of them.
I agree with Erick. George, well done. More and more of this sort of authentic and authoritative display of real aiki from those who can do it and describe it is needed. Views from as many different perspectives as possible of the real stuff...

Thanks for your gift of your attention, time, and passion.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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