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Thread: Aiki as a concept- why all the fuss?

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    Chris,

    You continue to not only mis‐paraphrase, but mis‐quote me. Naturally, it is not appreciated. Again I encourage readers to compare what I originally wrote against how my statements have been re‐cast, and in addition the intentions of those statements have been mis‐represented. It is not productive to dissect this point by point, as that would likely lead to further unsavory and off‐the‐mark commentary. So again, nothing more to add regarding my previous statements, as they stand on their own merit, especially given I've provided sources with whom interested parties can take the initiative to do follow‐up.

    To help move the discussion along, and as has been further clarified by Dan, the internal skills we've been discussing fall along a continuum, and not all skills we've discussed will work, or are intended to work, on a fully resisting uke/opponent. That does not make them inherently bogus. Otherwise, if such were the floor for internal skills, that would for all intents and purposes largely invalidate Daito‐ryu and its descendants as martial arts, as well as the vast majority of legitimate internal Chinese martial arts.

    Dan is a proponent of, and a high‐level expert in, the martial efficacy end of the IP/IS spectrum; and as he stated in his opening post, he feels the bickering over provenance and ownership of terms should take a back seat to development of pedagogy and real skills that preserve the ability to transmit and give life to the concepts being debated. I wholeheartedly agree. I would hope that most folks reading this thread have an interest in attaining high-level skills vs. anachronism preservation in ritualized form and documentation only. Personally, I have a strong interest in what Dan's doing, as well as an interest in how the martial sublime skills relate to other aspects of Asian internal arts, including the healing arts (I study Hakkoryu, because it's logical that if you're gonna learn to tweak people, that you also be able to fix what you tweak). I offer up this account written by Stanley Pranin, who is deservedly recognized for his scholarship related to Daito-ryu and aikido, regarding his encounter with the healing side of internal skills within the Daito-ryu lineage: https://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=9 (see "Unsolicited Endorsement"). On this end of the spectrum, of course, the partners in the interaction aim to cooperate, as in the middle of the spectrum, but now outside of the martial context. I hope the preceding explanation further helps provide readers with a sense of why all is not B.S. in the internal scheme of things simply because it won't work against someone going after your lunch money at all costs. The Asian internal arts, as a whole, are about self‐development, with martial ability being one possible and worthy outcome. These skills, as Dan said regarding high-level martial ability, all fall within -- not beyond -- the range of human capability, and are worthy of study and preservation across the board.
    Last edited by Koshu; 17th November 2014 at 19:19.
    Mert Gambito

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    Koshu

    "you continue to mis-paraphrase and misquote me"

    A-Last time I posted on this thread was November 12--5 days ago, so how I could "continue" to do something when NOT posting is beyond me.

    B-I have asked you to present exactly where I have done either in SUBSTANTIVE fashion.

    As I stated prior---happy to offer a re-write/retraction, if warranted.

    But I would ask...again.....for the name, location, contact information and class time for the people that can use IP to "impair breathing" make people "nauseous"..."mess" with their vision. and "drop people with the "slightest touch." etc. etc.
    Last edited by cxt; 18th November 2014 at 03:07.
    Chris Thomas

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    Chris,

    Quote Originally Posted by Koshu
    It is not productive to dissect this point by point, as that would likely lead to further unsavory and off‐the‐mark commentary.
    I will also be clear on this point: given your choice of interaction style and tactics with me, I will not engage in discussion with you on this forum going forward. I reserve the right to change my position on this down the road, as I agree there is room for healthy and productive skepticism, as Dan has also supported over time. That's the camp in which I and many of us who're ardent supporters of IP started, after all. Other such skeptics, Dan being foremost, have been named in this thread. So on this topic as well, there is nothing else remaining to discuss, from my perspective.
    Mert Gambito

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    Koshu

    "given your choice of interaction style and tactics with me"

    Such as asserting:

    "You CONTINUE to mis-paraphrase and mis-quote me" (emp mine)

    When I have not posted in a 5 days.......again, how can I "continue" to do something when I have not posted in a week?

    That kind of "interaction style and tactics?"

    Or when repeatedly asked for the names, locations, class times and contact info of the people that can perform previously claimed IP abilities......you have steadfastly refused to do so.

    That kind of "interaction style and tactics?"
    Chris Thomas

    "While people are entitled to their illusions, they are not entitled to a limitless enjoyment of them and they are not entitled to impose them upon others."

    "Team Cynicism" MVP 2005-2006
    Currently on "Injured/Reserve" list due to a scathing Sarcasm pile-up.

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    Please move away now from the personally directed criticisms and either debate the topic itself, or cease from posting. This is the final warning.
    Cady Goldfield

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    Default What's in a name?

    Had one of my interesting thoughts. I've been glancing at the posts here as they come up--and today went back to Dan's OP. And one of the complaints about his post, as well as other's that bear the same focus, is that Daito-ryu aiki is a gokui skill, requiring unique and specialized training, and that it's outcomes are also unique--with an intimately related issue of legacy, lineage and initiation. Whereas the "homogenizers" would assert that DR aiki is a particular manifestation of a more universal set of skills. Shall we say that Internal Strength is classical music and Daito-ryu aiki is Mozart. (however, many within DR assert that their form is unique, leading DR aiki to have subsets of Duscek, Kuhlau Mozart and Hummel . . .. with each and everyone claiming to do the Mozart version).
    Which leads then to a complaint of what could be considered "brand-name," aiki being a term that is associated with DR and aikido, and without initiation, one cannot understand it's essence, and it is arrogance to assert that one is doing the same thing when not initiated. AKA: composing "in the style of Mozart" isn't Mozart. Have I summed this up without doing too much harm to things.

    Anyway, I don't care to participate in this debate again and I've posted in many places what my beliefs are about lineage, initiation and the like. But two thoughts come to mind:
    In my research on my revised version of Old School - which will be out in a few weeks I write about a great mid-Edo martial artist, Honma Sengoro, who is described as doing a feat very similar to that of DR, but perhaps at a higher level. He was pinned face-up by five retainers of a daimyo. Not the same ryu or dojo. And he easily stood up, with five people unable to stop him. He was rechallenged and eventually did it five times. The salient point is that in the commentary of the history, it states something like, "This showed his exemplary skill at kumiuchi." Kumiuchi is a generic term for body-to-body grappling. What is significant here is that Honma is described as being at the top of the heap in a skill that was commonplace, so to speak. In other words, to the Japanese, it was a given that grappling had components of IS. It was a matter of course. (I also take this on in Hidden in Plain Sight, of course, discussing such schools at Kito-ryu and Yoshin-ryu, but the signal point here is that a generic word that was used by everybody sufficed to describe a form of IS).
    Second point: The first known written reference of Daito-ryu aiki is in Sagawa the elder's training notebook in 1913, I believe. At the time, Takeda was teaching Daito-ryu jujutsu (of course, he was teaching what people now call aiki, but the point is that he was a great teacher of something people referred to by a generic term). So Takeda visits his student, Ueshiba, and meets with Onisaburo, who urges him, so the story goes, to change the name of his art to aikijujutsu or aikijutsu - I cannot remember which. I'm guessing that there were two reasons: 1) these skills were now so rare that as they were no longer a commonplace, they deserved an "uncommon" name 2) marketing
    Which leads to this question: if Takeda hadn't changed the name, Dan could have posted, "Jujutsu as a concept--why all the fuss." Linguistically speaking, we'd be talking about a continuum--or a nodal point, with all kind of ramifications, rather than something alleged to be unique (unless DR was included in the title).
    To be sure, if one asserts that s/he is teaching Daito-ryu and is not initiated or has been made hamon, that is wrong for specific reasons. But my point is that aiki is a "trademark" almost by an accident--A paranoid, unlettered guy was influenced by the whacky guru of his, then, leading student to change the name of what he's teaching. Wonder what our debates would be like if that hadn't happened?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellis Amdur View Post
    ......Which leads to this question: if Takeda hadn't changed the name, Dan could have posted, "Jujutsu as a concept--why all the fuss." Linguistically speaking, we'd be talking about a continuum--or a nodal point, with all kind of ramifications, rather than something alleged to be unique (unless DR was included in the title).
    True. I don't need to say much as you know my talking points already.
    1. No one in DR is qualified to debate either their own art or the skills of others- according to the rules they themselves set.
    2. There is no proven history of the Aiki arts, their histories are strangely fuzzy, with no proven ownership of the term aiki.
    3. We see the Daito ryu Menkyo's and seniors stating aiki was everywhere in Japan.
    4. We see the aiki guys quoting Chinese and Tibetan internal strength training methods.

    There hasn't been any credible push back on these points.

    ....my point is that aiki is a "trademark" almost by an accident--A paranoid, unlettered guy was influenced by the whacky guru of his, then, leading student to change the name of what he's teaching. Wonder what our debates would be like if that hadn't happened?
    Actual skill? Which rarely seems to be a debate point....face to face.
    I respect the traditional arts for many, many reasons. But, I remain more interested in aiki (or jins in Chinese terminology) I.S. in general as broad-spectrum, cross-platform, results rather than single art forms.
    Last edited by Dan Harden; 18th November 2014 at 20:37.
    Dan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellis Amdur View Post
    Had one of my interesting thoughts. I've been glancing at the posts here as they come up--and today went back to Dan's OP. And one of the complaints about his post, as well as other's that bear the same focus, is that Daito-ryu aiki is a gokui skill, requiring unique and specialized training, and that it's outcomes are also unique--with an intimately related issue of legacy, lineage and initiation. Whereas the "homogenizers" would assert that DR aiki is a particular manifestation of a more universal set of skills. Shall we say that Internal Strength is classical music and Daito-ryu aiki is Mozart. (however, many within DR assert that their form is unique, leading DR aiki to have subsets of Duscek, Kuhlau Mozart and Hummel . . .. with each and everyone claiming to do the Mozart version).
    Which leads then to a complaint of what could be considered "brand-name," aiki being a term that is associated with DR and aikido, and without initiation, one cannot understand it's essence, and it is arrogance to assert that one is doing the same thing when not initiated. AKA: composing "in the style of Mozart" isn't Mozart. Have I summed this up without doing too much harm to things.

    Anyway, I don't care to participate in this debate again and I've posted in many places what my beliefs are about lineage, initiation and the like. But two thoughts come to mind:
    In my research on my revised version of Old School - which will be out in a few weeks I write about a great mid-Edo martial artist, Honma Sengoro, who is described as doing a feat very similar to that of DR, but perhaps at a higher level. He was pinned face-up by five retainers of a daimyo. Not the same ryu or dojo. And he easily stood up, with five people unable to stop him. He was rechallenged and eventually did it five times. The salient point is that in the commentary of the history, it states something like, "This showed his exemplary skill at kumiuchi." Kumiuchi is a generic term for body-to-body grappling. What is significant here is that Honma is described as being at the top of the heap in a skill that was commonplace, so to speak. In other words, to the Japanese, it was a given that grappling had components of IS. It was a matter of course. (I also take this on in Hidden in Plain Sight, of course, discussing such schools at Kito-ryu and Yoshin-ryu, but the signal point here is that a generic word that was used by everybody sufficed to describe a form of IS).
    Second point: The first known written reference of Daito-ryu aiki is in Sagawa the elder's training notebook in 1913, I believe. At the time, Takeda was teaching Daito-ryu jujutsu (of course, he was teaching what people now call aiki, but the point is that he was a great teacher of something people referred to by a generic term). So Takeda visits his student, Ueshiba, and meets with Onisaburo, who urges him, so the story goes, to change the name of his art to aikijujutsu or aikijutsu - I cannot remember which. I'm guessing that there were two reasons: 1) these skills were now so rare that as they were no longer a commonplace, they deserved an "uncommon" name 2) marketing
    Which leads to this question: if Takeda hadn't changed the name, Dan could have posted, "Jujutsu as a concept--why all the fuss." Linguistically speaking, we'd be talking about a continuum--or a nodal point, with all kind of ramifications, rather than something alleged to be unique (unless DR was included in the title).
    To be sure, if one asserts that s/he is teaching Daito-ryu and is not initiated or has been made hamon, that is wrong for specific reasons. But my point is that aiki is a "trademark" almost by an accident--A paranoid, unlettered guy was influenced by the whacky guru of his, then, leading student to change the name of what he's teaching. Wonder what our debates would be like if that hadn't happened?
    The term is irrelevant. If someone claims not to be teaching ono ha itto ryu or tatsumi ryu or whatever but that they ARE teaching the gokui (inner teachings) of that ryu in seminars (which are the really important parts that are only worth learning anyway according to them) but they won't declare who taught them and to what level they are exposed to these teachings, well what are you to make of that?

    Explaining it away that someone of a previous generation made the whole thing up is irrelevant (as well as being speculation in this case).You could make that statement about the founder of ANY ryu. There are ethical issues involved here IMO. But most people involved in this have made their own decisions on this at this stage. So if people are happy to strip mine what they believe to be the core of an art for their own personal benefit, that's something they'll have to deal with.

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    Oisin - I said I wouldn't get involved in that debate (yet again). I am very clear on my views about membership in a koryu, lineage, keppan and the like.

    It seems, however, that too many in this debate conflate Daito-ryu and aiki - and that's my point. Also, I believe that skills that some in DR assert are unique that may have been generic, once upon a time. (I'm quite willing to believe that a particular application of IS -Daito-ryu aiki- may have some unique qualities (Mozart rather than just "classical music"), but it is also my understanding that each faction of DR describes something that is somewhat different from each other when they use the term).

    Anyway, here's my proof that DR doesn't own the "trademark." The attached photo is from my transcription of a makimono from 1858 - Toda-ha Buko-ryu.Name:  KusarigamaAikinoKoto.png
Views: 534
Size:  37.8 KB To my knowledge, this is the oldest makimono that contains aiki within the text. So I'm a little uncomfortable about all these jujutsuka using a term that clearly was first associated with kusarigama.

    Truth be told, were it me I'd ignore the subject of DR in discussions unless we are talking about a) history b) specific DR training techniques and methodology. I'm inclined not to use the term aiki myself, because it has absorbed such a tincture of DR and aikido in everyone's minds, and that is accompanied by a lot of baggage I have no desire to carry. I have proven to my own satisfaction that IS (and manifestations/applications, such as what DR and aikido call "aiki,") were once widespread in Japan. They were lost due to modernization, vitiation and judo. Takeda Sokaku was remarkable because he was an endangered species.
    Anyway, as far as training for myself, I'm in high-level kumiuchi, not anything where the major training style is arms-length grabs of the limbs.
    Ellis Amdur

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    Sorry - that last line, misspelled, reads arrogant: What I meant to write was: "Anyway, as far as training for myself, I'm interested in learning high-level kumiuchi, not anything where the major training style is arms-length grabs of the limbs."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellis Amdur View Post
    Had one of my interesting thoughts. I've been glancing at the posts here as they come up--and today went back to Dan's OP. And one of the complaints about his post, as well as other's that bear the same focus, is that Daito-ryu aiki is a gokui skill, requiring unique and specialized training, and that it's outcomes are also unique--with an intimately related issue of legacy, lineage and initiation. Whereas the "homogenizers" would assert that DR aiki is a particular manifestation of a more universal set of skills. Shall we say that Internal Strength is classical music and Daito-ryu aiki is Mozart. (however, many within DR assert that their form is unique, leading DR aiki to have subsets of Duscek, Kuhlau Mozart and Hummel . . .. with each and everyone claiming to do the Mozart version).
    Which leads then to a complaint of what could be considered "brand-name," aiki being a term that is associated with DR and aikido, and without initiation, one cannot understand it's essence, and it is arrogance to assert that one is doing the same thing when not initiated. AKA: composing "in the style of Mozart" isn't Mozart. Have I summed this up without doing too much harm to things.
    One of the issues for me in this thread -- and I think you discussed this at length in Hidden in Plain Sight, concerns Morihei Ueshiba. Ueshiba mentions aiki a number of times in his discourses and insofar as he defines this term at all, he does so within a cultural context that he appears to have assumed was known to his hearers. Or if it was not, then it was up to them to work out what he meant. Which they appear to have done, but only to varying degrees. Whether his use of the term was an issue then, or is an issue now, is not something that can be deduced from his discourses.
    Peter Goldsbury,
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    I think your comments on what Ueshiba stated regarding aiki are confined to his discussions after his retirement. Other than handing out Daito ryu scrolls, little is known of what he taught during his actual teaching career.
    That said he was pretty consistent in defining aiki as opposing forces- in you- via the manipulation of in/yo.
    *Aiki is the joining of the two ki's, as opposing forces, in you. This is best expressed in Heaven/earth/man.
    *The working of the attraction point between yin and yang, this... Is my Takemusu aiki.

    *Drawing a circle:
    Aiki is opposing forces (in you)
    *The mysteries of aiki are revealed in dual opposing spirals, one rising on the right, one descending on the left. In the midst a friction is created giving birth to in/yo. Once you move this way, no one can stop you.
    *Aiki is yin yang. The dance of the Gods

    While twirling a stick ( this is a deep teaching).
    *Sensei why can't we do what you do?
    It is because you do not understand yin yang
    .
    Someone thinking that his commentary is reduced to only the aiki arts simply expresses a poor education- to include many of the greats who sat at his feet.
    As previously noted: Ueshiba along with many Daito ryu teachers were often found using well known Chinese internal strength terms and methods. It seems only some.. of the western mid level students found here, have a problem with that in the.... aiki belongs to Daito ryu mantra of the true believers as their very own seniors continue to quote taiji classics!!
    Dan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Harden View Post
    I think your comments on what Ueshiba stated regarding aiki are confined to his discussions after his retirement. Other than handing out Daito ryu scrolls, little is known of what he taught during his actual teaching career.
    I think this would depend on the date of his retirement. Even after his move to Iwama in 1942 he still did a lot of teaching and some disciples would argue that he remained teaching right up till his death. Didn't Stan Pranin place the 'transformation' from Daito-ryu to aikido during the years at the Kobukan, from 1931 to 1942?
    Peter Goldsbury,
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    Quote Originally Posted by muden View Post
    The term is irrelevant. If someone claims not to be teaching ono ha itto ryu or tatsumi ryu or whatever but that they ARE teaching the gokui (inner teachings) of that ryu in seminars (which are the really important parts that are only worth learning anyway according to them) but they won't declare who taught them and to what level they are exposed to these teachings, well what are you to make of that?

    Explaining it away that someone of a previous generation made the whole thing up is irrelevant (as well as being speculation in this case).You could make that statement about the founder of ANY ryu. There are ethical issues involved here IMO. But most people involved in this have made their own decisions on this at this stage. So if people are happy to strip mine what they believe to be the core of an art for their own personal benefit, that's something they'll have to deal with.
    I don't know who you are referring to here. The majority of people involved with training IP and aiki have remained in their traditional arts, have never violated any oath where they may apply, and never offered any kind of oath or promise to a teacher in DR or Aikido that I am aware of (and I know quite a few practitioner of that art who trained here in the States, in Japan and in Europe).
    As for secrets and being defensive over some supposed higher level stuff?
    Another case in point: Aiki in yo ho, being kept secret in one branch, with another branch teaching it across the board to white belts. Yin/yang to make aiki age, the use of dantian, development of an aiki body (internal strength) the applied working principle of Fure aiki being everyday working models in taiji, a family Indonesian art, and two forms of Karate. Again proving that one arts secrets are another arts everyday working model. That said, the training modalities being used by the IP crowd are from a series of Japanese, Chinese and indonesian arts. Therefore anyone from DR being protective of stolen information is an overstatement. It is only the few here in DR who continue to think their art has some super duper secret. There are dozens of practitioners in Daito ryu who I know who disagree with you and the few others here. Like them, I simply don't see what the fuss is all about. As Kiyama (A DR shihan) once said. "Aiki is very difficult to achieve. Once someone has it, they have it and they deserve it." The only comedy is that no one agrees who has it!!! Group 1 thinks group 2 and 3 doesn't have aiki, and group 2 thinks the same of group 1, and even those in group 1 think others in their own group don't have aiki. If anyone ever published the behind closed doors commentary of the various DR branches on each others aiki and training it would blow people away. I simply don't care. I have better things to do with my time.

    Higher level training
    It is simply stunning to have met, formed relationships, which then revealed basically the same higher level material being trained across the board in arts throughout Asia. I know this seems odd to many who through lack of exposure and teaching, were unaware that these things existed both whihin their art, and outside of their art in amny other places. This is perhaps why the lower and mid level students are typically so parochial and divisive in their views.. They can't imagine there even being a broader, common understanding of high level skills that can be trained "outside" of an art and that has existed across the board in Asia. This, even with their very own founders and seniors quoting all the same foundational work and models that have existed even longer than their own art forms.

    This of course lends credence to my opening commentary about why there is such a fuss over such a broad training model.
    Also worthy of note is not just what the fuss is, but who the few people are who are causing it.
    Last edited by Dan Harden; 19th November 2014 at 15:23.
    Dan
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    Quote Originally Posted by P Goldsbury View Post
    I think this would depend on the date of his retirement. Even after his move to Iwama in 1942 he still did a lot of teaching and some disciples would argue that he remained teaching right up till his death. Didn't Stan Pranin place the 'transformation' from Daito-ryu to aikido during the years at the Kobukan, from 1931 to 1942?
    Peter
    I don't separate the drivers behind what he was doing pre and post war. What I meant in my previous post you responded to was that we only have him discussing methods on tape and in written form....later in his career. However, the source (DR) never changed. His many quotes are well known power building methods, still practiced today in DR, in ICMA etc.. It was what he was taught by Takeda.
    Of course, as I stated, since the material is not singular to DR and is referenced in so many places in Japanese and Chinese literature, Ueshiba like so many other Aiki men (and Takeda students) who first learned solo and aiki-body methods evolved/changed/individualized and went on to get a broader education, but the driver that gave them all soft power...to whatever degree they want to argue about...is the same.

    Ueshiba is a DR sourced man, from start to finish.
    * I have stated and debated, for decades now that Ueshiba and DR were using the same high level methods. His opinions and views on aiki and power are straight out of the box Daito ryu.
    * Some strongly argued on the net he got more from Chinese exercises later in life.
    * I held the course and argued back that those supposed Chinese influences... were IN DR!!. We now know the shared Shingon origins.
    * What I had originally stated continues to be validated by an increasing number of Daito ryu teachers now being quoted and showing Chinese training modalities which also appear in other Japanese ryu.

    So, today as in the past, I contune to state that the drivers behind the aiki arts are the same, and they share a pedagogy with many other Asian arts; past and present.
    Last edited by Dan Harden; 19th November 2014 at 15:53.
    Dan
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  5. Name for a concept
    By CaptR in forum Budo no Kokoro
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 21st September 2000, 16:19

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