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Old 11-18-2005, 03:50 PM   #1
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Article: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes by Michael J. Hacker

Discuss the article, "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" by Michael J. Hacker here.

Article URL: http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/mhacker/2005_11.html
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Old 11-18-2005, 06:05 PM   #2
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Re: Article: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes by Michael J. Hacker

Very interesting.

I've also heard "kime" described as a the ability to gather energy into one point and direct it through (not just into) a target to generate some type of lasting effect or reaction. Like striking to the solar plexus (using body structure) and directing the strike through a person and toward their triangulation point.

And with "kotegaeshi," going by the literal translation of "forearm turn" it can be seen that the lock/throw really has very little with twisting or applying pressure to the wrist. And can actually be much more effective and direct (straight down, rather than throwing a person away from our own center) by controlling uke's forearm and elbow to sequentially lock up the elbow, shoulder, and uke's center.
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Old 11-18-2005, 10:34 PM   #3
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Re: Article: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes by Michael J. Hacker

Thanks Michael. This stuff is actually pretty helpful, especially for those of us too lazy to sit down and investigate words, and too uneducated to read the kanji.
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Old 11-22-2005, 12:44 PM   #4
Marc Kupper
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Kanji in language articles

I've been finding the articles interesting but one thing I miss are the kanji. It's frustrating when an article says something like "there are two different kanji for tori/dori," "there are two different kanji for kime," etc. but the actual kanji are not shown.

Marc
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Old 12-02-2005, 09:21 AM   #5
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Re: Article: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes by Michael J. Hacker

Quote:
Mike Haftel wrote:
Very interesting.
Thanks. It's nice to hear back from people whether the effort is worth their while.

Quote:
Mike Haftel wrote:
And with "kotegaeshi," going by the literal translation of "forearm turn"
Actually, that would be "forearm REturn," as in "to return a book to the library."
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Old 12-02-2005, 09:22 AM   #6
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Re: Kanji in language articles

Quote:
Marc Kupper wrote:
I've been finding the articles interesting but one thing I miss are the kanji. It's frustrating when an article says something like "there are two different kanji for tori/dori," "there are two different kanji for kime," etc. but the actual kanji are not shown.
I'm fine with adding the kanji, but it's up to the individual to do the necessary tweaks to their systems in order to read the characters. Jun's kanji charts are always there, but for me to convert everything to graphics for inclusion in the article is a bit much. If I'm going to do it, I'll do it in native Japanese encoding.

Additionally, most of these kanji are not "word-pictures" in the sense that looking at them will actually impart any meaning to the western eye. If you don't understand the characters, you won't get much out of them. That said, the only reason I can think of is to look further into them or, perhaps, to verify what I've said is true. You should be able to look this stuff up without me posting the kanji, actually.

Jun? Thoughts?

Last edited by mjhacker : 12-02-2005 at 09:24 AM.
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Old 12-02-2005, 09:25 AM   #7
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Re: Article: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes by Michael J. Hacker

Quote:
Mike Collins wrote:
Thanks Michael. This stuff is actually pretty helpful, especially for those of us too lazy to sit down and investigate words, and too uneducated to read the kanji.
My whole point in this was to make it a study of the language and its use in aikido, not of the kanji. Anyone who wishes to study the kanji for study's sake can find plenty of great books out there that will help.
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Old 12-02-2005, 11:15 AM   #8
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Kaesu

Quote:
Michael Hacker wrote:
Actually, that would be "forearm REturn," as in "to return a book to the library."
Actually, in this case it means "to turn over", as in the phrases te no hira wo kaesu 手のひらを返すor gumbai wo kaesu 軍配を返す.

Quote:
Michael Hacker wrote:
I'm fine with adding the kanji, but it's up to the individual to do the necessary tweaks to their systems in order to read the characters. Jun's kanji charts are always there, but for me to convert everything to graphics for inclusion in the article is a bit much. If I'm going to do it, I'll do it in native Japanese encoding.
FWIW, I think you should just go ahead and do that.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 12-02-2005, 11:33 AM   #9
Marc Kupper
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Re: Kanji in language articles

Quote:
Michael Hacker wrote:
I'm fine with adding the kanji, but it's up to the individual to do the necessary tweaks to their systems in order to read the characters.
Yes, those tweaks and the multiple standards plus browsers involved are a hassle meaning a page would need to get added somewhere to explain aikiweb's practices. People have included kanji in message board posts, articles, etc. though I have no idea if everyone surfing aikiweb can see them and is seeing the same pictograph. Maybe a test page should be set up to see if someone can see a common word like aikido - 合気道.
Quote:
Additionally, most of these kanji are not "word-pictures" in the sense that looking at them will actually impart any meaning to the western eye. If you don't understand the characters, you won't get much out of them. That said, the only reason I can think of is to look further into them or, perhaps, to verify what I've said is true. You should be able to look this stuff up without me posting the kanji, actually.
I usually do look them up but what brought up my request was when people will write something like "there are two different kanji for tori/dori" and when I look it up I'll see perhaps one of the kanji in the aikiweb/aikidofaq dictionaries and half a dozen in a general Japanese dictionary. Thus I still don't know which two specific kanji someone was writing about which does not help at all when I'm struggling with understanding the language. "A picture is worth a thousand words..."
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Old 12-02-2005, 05:44 PM   #10
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Re: Kaesu

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote:
Actually, in this case it means "to turn over", as in the phrases te no hira wo kaesu 手のひらを返すor gumbai wo kaesu 軍配を返す.
Actually, a lot of that depends upon how your system does things. Some styles "turn over" the wrist. Some "return" it. We have to be careful how much English flavor we impart to the original Japanese.


Quote:
FWIW, I think you should just go ahead and do that.
Maybe you'd be interested in doing the articles?
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Old 12-03-2005, 11:05 AM   #11
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Re: Kaesu

Quote:
Michael Hacker wrote:
Actually, a lot of that depends upon how your system does things. Some styles "turn over" the wrist. Some "return" it. We have to be careful how much English flavor we impart to the original Japanese.
Well, I can't say what every style does with the wrist, but every style I've seen turns the kote over.

Of course, Ki Society calls the technique "koteoroshi": "fore-arm take-down". Looks much the same, though.

Quote:
Maybe you'd be interested in doing the articles?
Well, I just wanted to provide some of my knowledge; I wasn't looking to steal anyone's thunder.

Josh Reyer

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Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 12-04-2005, 09:11 AM   #12
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Re: Kaesu

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote:
Well, I can't say what every style does with the wrist, but every style I've seen turns the kote over.
My intention wasn't to get into a technical discussion, but I can see may need to happen in order to clarify my point.

I used to train in styles that do this technique exactly as you described; I no longer do. I think the "turning over" is the wrong place to focus. I believe that emphasizing the "turning over" leads people to think that they need to crank on the kote; this alone will generally not work without pain, threat of injury, or brainwashing.

The way I do it, "turning over" the kote is a byproduct of the technique. I don't turn over uke's kote; I set up a situation in which he pulls back and turns it over himself, then I follow, returning it to him. The key is not in the turning over of the kote, but rather in "returning" of it to a triangulated point just outside the little toe or heel, depending upon circumstances.

Try doing kotegaeshi with only your index fingers... the exercise has proved enlightening to me. It's nearly impossible to use excessive force or grab when doing it this way. It makes it easier, actually.

Ultimately, as speakers and translators of Japanese, I think we need to be very careful about attributing English meanings to Japanese words. Additionally, the way one phrase is translated into English does not necessarily hold true to how others should be handled.

For example, I have no real problem with translating 軍配を返す as "turn over (the) fan," although I'd probably choose to say "turn around (the) fan" instead. (Actually, I'd most likely translate it as "the referee signalled the start of the match.") I would not, however, choose to translate 図書館員に本を返す as "turn over the book to the librarian." I would, instead, say "return the book to the librarian," since the emphasis isn't on giving it to them, but on giving it back to them. Additionally, I don't have to physically turn the book end-over-end to accomplish my task.

To me, the hardest part of translating Japanese into English is not the Japanese; it's the English. My boss once laughed at me for translating 敵は本能寺にあり as "the enemy is in Honnou Temple," instead of simply "ulterior motive." It reminded me of the Star Trek:TNG episode where Picard meets a race of people who speak entirely in historical references. Good times.


Quote:
Of course, Ki Society calls the technique "koteoroshi": "fore-arm take-down". Looks much the same, though.
Looks can be greatly deceiving. There's a reason they changed the name, and I agree with it. From what I know of the reason behind renaming the technique, the emphasis needed to change to get people away from cranking.

I personally wouldn't call koteoroshi a "take-down" but rather a "drop." To my ears, "take-down" has a significantly different flavor of meaning than "drop" does. I do believe that all it takes is to drop an inch (or less) at the right time and with the right target to make the technique work beautifully. Any more is too much.

Your understanding and use of the Japanese language in budo appears to be slightly different than mine. Perhaps that has caused our understand of technique to be a little different as well. Or perhaps it is the other way around. My understanding of the language has strongly colored my understanding of technique and vice-versa.


Quote:
Well, I just wanted to provide some of my knowledge; I wasn't looking to steal anyone's thunder.
I have none to steal. I was inviting you to write articles.

Last edited by mjhacker : 12-04-2005 at 09:24 AM.
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Old 12-04-2005, 06:39 PM   #13
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Re: Kaesu

Quote:
Michael Hacker wrote:
My intention wasn't to get into a technical discussion, but I can see may need to happen in order to clarify my point.

I used to train in styles that do this technique exactly as you described; I no longer do. I think the "turning over" is the wrong place to focus. I believe that emphasizing the "turning over" leads people to think that they need to crank on the kote; this alone will generally not work without pain, threat of injury, or brainwashing.

The way I do it, "turning over" the kote is a byproduct of the technique. I don't turn over uke's kote; I set up a situation in which he pulls back and turns it over himself, then I follow, returning it to him. The key is not in the turning over of the kote, but rather in "returning" of it to a triangulated point just outside the little toe or heel, depending upon circumstances.

Ultimately, as speakers and translators of Japanese, I think we need to be very careful about attributing English meanings to Japanese words. Additionally, the way one phrase is translated into English does not necessarily hold true to how others should be handled.
I agree with the very last paragraph: it's the cardinal rule for translators. However, (and this is with all due respect), I don't feel "return" is the proper translation here, even though I also agree entirely with your description of a proper kotegaeshi.

You "return" the wrist; the kote necessarily turns over in the course of the technique. That you allow uke to turn over it himself is irrelevant; the technique name makes no such fine distinctions. It simply says that someone turns over the kote.

I can understand concerns about someone hearing a translation and thinking they have to crank it. Unfortunately, people often think that just seeing the technique demonstrated. It's up to the instructors to properly explain the technique, as you have here. The thing is, a Japanese person is just as likely to think they have to crank the elbow hearing "kotegaeshi" as an English speaker would hearing "forearm turn (over)". That's the nature of technique descriptions. They are glosses, quick-and-dirty appelations, not subtle descriptions.

Actually, I have no problem with "forearm return" as just such a gloss. If I were to create an English name for the technique, I might put it as "forearm reverse", for much the same reasons as you chose return. But when explaining what the Japanese means, I don't think "return" (as in to return a book to a library) is right. The Japanese in this case is idiomatic. A Japanese person hears (or reads) 小手返し, they see it performed, they understand it as in the phrases 手のひらを返す and 軍配を返す, not 本を棚に返す or 借金を返す.

Quote:
For example, I have no real problem with translating 軍配を返す as "turn over (the) fan," although I'd probably choose to say "turn around (the) fan" instead. (Actually, I'd most likely translate it as "the referee signalled the start of the match.") I would not, however, choose to translate 図書館員に本を返す as "turn over the book to the librarian." I would, instead, say "return the book to the librarian," since the emphasis isn't on giving it to them, but on giving it back to them. Additionally, I don't have to physically turn the book end-over-end to accomplish my task.
Using turn over in the librarian case would be wrong. Just because "turn over" is the meaning in this case doesn't mean it's the meaning of it in every case. The Koujien dictionary lists 4 primary definitions of 返す, each with 3 or 4 sub-definitions. For most of those subdefinitions, a different English translation would have to be used.

Quote:
Looks can be greatly deceiving. There's a reason they changed the name, and I agree with it. From what I know of the reason behind renaming the technique, the emphasis needed to change to get people away from cranking.
I wouldn't be surprised. But as I suggested above, it would seem that the Japanese name led to Japanese people cranking as well, since they changed the name and not just the translation. IMO, though, kotegaeshi/oroshi just leads to cranking, particularly in beginners. I don't think that'll change whatever it's called.

Quote:
I personally wouldn't call koteoroshi a "take-down" but rather a "drop." To my ears, "take-down" has a significantly different flavor of meaning than "drop" does. I do believe that all it takes is to drop an inch (or less) at the right time and with the right target to make the technique work beautifully. Any more is too much.
I actually don't have a problem with "drop" (again, in the quick-and-dirty appelation sense). This is a tough one to get the nuance across. Oroshi has such a nuance of control that just won't seem to translate to English: "drop", "take-down" "bring-down", they all seem a bit too harsh. Perhaps "forearm-lower"?

Quote:
Your understanding and use of the Japanese language in budo appears to be slightly different than mine. Perhaps that has caused our understand of technique to be a little different as well. Or perhaps it is the other way around. My understanding of the language has strongly colored my understanding of technique and vice-versa.
I would say that I don't use the Japanese language in budo, I simply use the Japanese language. By which I mean, my philosophy in any kind of translation (or in this case, commentary) is that I want the audience to have the same kind of understanding as a Japanese person. This means, as Alfred the Great so eloquently put it: "hwilum word be word, hwilum andgit of andgiete" "At times word for word, at times sense for sense." As a translator, I try to be a mediator, and impart as little of myself into the translation as possible. So while I understand that kotegaeshi is not about cranking the wrist nor the elbow, when telling someone what kotegaeshi means I would restrict myself to "turning over the forearm". Because a Japanese person doesn't derive any greater insight from the name than that (and I don't believe the sense of 返す as in "return a book" would occur to them here). There's translating the language, and then there's teaching the technique: I tend to keep those separate.

I was originally taught aikido in English, without any particular emphasis on what the words meant in English. I mean, we had access to glosses, but instruction wasn't beholden to them. I learned early on not to focus on the wrist in kotegaeshi, and not to crank. (That doesn't mean I didn't crank, but when you're a beginner there's always a gulf between theory and practice...)

Fast forward 11 years, 11 years that were all about the Japanese language, and not at all about aikido. Now I'm starting over again in a Japanese environment, where there's no English at all. But yet again, the names are just glosses to the technique, and the real instruction is what is shown and felt, rather than the names.

I'm ambivalent about the use of Japanese terms in an English aikido context. On one hand, I have great difficulty talking about sumo in English without using Japanese terms for techniques and kimarite. That's because I watch sumo in Japanese, I read sumo in Japanese, and often talk about sumo in Japanese. Sumo is tied into the Japanese language centers of my brain. And when I read the English glosses for kimarite (e.g., "frontal force out" for yorikiri), I find them lacking in the elegance of the original Japanese. So I can understand why the Japanese shihan prefer the Japanese terms, and why the early non-Japanese aikidoka do as well (as their instruction was in Japanese). Heck, at this point now, I probably feel the same way about aikido as I do about sumo.

On the other hand, too often I think things are done a little too fast and loose on the linguistic front; knowledge without understanding. Things get lost in translation, and then someone working off the translation further perpetuates the misunderstanding. And that's how you get things like kotegaeshi being called "wrist turn". Even the AikiWiki calls it a "reverse wrist". And let's not even get into the question of "ki"!

Of course, it's too much to ask people to become fluent in Japanese just to take aikido. Heck, I focused so much on Japanese that I stopped doing aikido, which is certainly not what we want. So I heartily applaud and support articles such as yours, or the articles in the Language section by Jun Akiyama. The more perspective the better.

Quote:
I have none to steal. I was inviting you to write articles.
Well, I'd be happy to contribute in any way I can.

Josh Reyer

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Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 12-05-2005, 03:47 PM   #14
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Re: Kaesu

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote:
However, (and this is with all due respect), I don't feel "return" is the proper translation here, even though I also agree entirely with your description of a proper kotegaeshi.

You "return" the wrist; the kote necessarily turns over in the course of the technique. That you allow uke to turn over it himself is irrelevant; the technique name makes no such fine distinctions. It simply says that someone turns over the kote.
I are not a expert, but...

I don't think this technique requires the wrist to turn over at all. It is optional.

I also do think it is entirely relevent (to aikido, though not the name) whether or not uke does the work, regardless of the technique name.

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote:
I can understand concerns about someone hearing a translation and thinking they have to crank it. Unfortunately, people often think that just seeing the technique demonstrated. It's up to the instructors to properly explain the technique, as you have here.
I've heard this translated as "wrist twist", so I think it's entirely relevent to offer a better translation that might help people to reinterpret it, because I'm hear to tell you that there a lots of people around who are offering a translation in part to define how to practice the technique.

Heck, I've read articles right here about why the ikkyo -yonkyu series are named ikkyu-yonkyu. You call it something, people ARE going to interpret it, so be very careful about what and why you use naming.

Some schools are ALL about choosing names that best describe HOW the techniques fundamentally work in their style... as a subtle (or not so subtle) teaching of the fundamentals.

Some aren't.

Tarik

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