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

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Harden View Post
    Hello Raphael
    I was the first person I know of to discuss Mr. Harrisons mentioning of this on the old Aikido list server (actually Ellis and I argue over who noticed it first). It is mentioned here as well. Do a search on the AJJ forum. ........
    No clue as to the relevancy of this point. Harrison's work has been well known to judoka for many years. Noticing something does not conclude anything regarding its veracity. Harrison's works have many problems.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Harden View Post
    .....Personally, I don't care anymore. Of course many arts have secrets. Then, players go out and discover their arts secret was in another art, too. It's a twice told tale.

    There is no substantive debate over aiki that can be had on the net. (Emphasis added....)
    Dan
    While I wholeheartedly agree with the latter sentiment, unless we're talking about concrete, written examples of references to aiki in old Japanese texts, I have to ask, is this a recent revelation? If this is your belief, may I ask the purpose of starting this by your definition non-substantive debate?

    I personally think aiki/ki is a mystical term substituted for common sense and biomechanics, but I love the history of martial arts and how people develop MA capabilities.

    So, like you, instead of some possible discussion of aiki over the 'net, I would ask you for a measured response to Mr. Covington's question - (in my own words) do you have references to 'ancient Japanese arts' that refer to aiki? Anything beyond what Prof G posted? Because what I understand from his posts on the matter is not what I understand from yours (but certainly there's room for me to misunderstand).

    LGatling

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    Quote Originally Posted by LGatling View Post
    [
    Looking at the past and trying to decipher who had what training and their understanding could be interesting, but I can't see what could be decisively proven. In his excellent Transmission column in Aikiweb (incidentally, pretty much derailed by one of this forum's members) Professor Goldsbury cited a number of early 1800's mentions of aiki in old schools, with the clear note that aiki is used with a different meaning. He and very few others go to source documents, yet a lot of talk about this and that being known to come from 'ancient times'.

    I've seen text mistranslated, or taken out of context, etc. Ofttimes, there's simply no way for anyone to know what was meant hundreds of years on, particularly if you can't read the ancient texts. And that is really hard, even difficult to explain how hard.

    Lance Gatling

    知る者は言わず
    言う者は知らず

    - 老子
    Mr. Gatling, which edition of Professor Goldsbury's column are you mentioning here? I'm really interested in reading that.

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    Why bring it up?
    There was a raging debate on a recent thread here (now pulled from the forum) over who owns aiki. There have been countless threads in the AJJ forum over the same issue. I wanted to state how ridiculous the animus was and is and why there can be no consensus on the word or theory.

    Chris asked me to talk about references
    You ask me...to talk about references
    Here is the irony.
    Why not ask Chris?
    Chris is in two koryu. Chris is NOT going to represent or discuss his koryu here. But he would love to talk about others? Really?
    No one else will either.
    Neither has anyone...EVER...discussed Daito ryu aiki.
    Get the point?
    I had no intention of discussing it. I wanted to point out that; in the history of the entire internet, no one has ever discussed the inner teaching of their koryu or the details of Daito ryu aiki.
    And they never will.

    As I stated earlier, I am in rooms of Koryu and Daito ryu people, regularly. I just left a group Mon. with people from four Koryu and two schools of Daito ryu there. Nobody was asked, because no one would offer; information on their school. No one is mad about it. It's expected. Placing a post about it makes it more clear for people to see why the conversations go no where. For many it is a violation of their word, and or and understanding that they are as yet not qualified.
    Hence
    "Its okay to talk about Koryu
    Just don't talk about koryu."
    Just sit by and wait.....Nothing substantive is going to be said by anyone on the topic. Everyone can and will only talk around the subject. It's no ones fault, but it needed to be said.


    Oh...the Harrison thing. I didn't bring it up, but I didn't want to just blow off Raphael's comment. I just didn't care about repeating it all when it is here in the archives.
    Last edited by Dan Harden; 13th June 2014 at 15:27.
    Dan
    [url=www.bodyworkseminars.org][COLOR=#B22222][B]Ancient traditions * Modern Combatives[/B][/COLOR][B][/url] [/B][COLOR=#B22222][/COLOR]

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    Quote Originally Posted by LGatling View Post
    I personally think aiki/ki is a mystical term substituted for common sense and biomechanics, but I love the history of martial arts and how people develop MA capabilities. LGatling
    There are certain things outside of peoples own oaths or limitations that they can refer to. Some are more free than others.
    This is one of those talk around topics.
    Actually Aiki and ki were and are related to power development, real and whole and are not mystical/magical. The study of which has spanned cultures and eras when it mattered a hell of lot more than it does now. Warriors and Asian Martial artists didn't buy into something with no measurable results. It creates highly unusual dynamic stability against throws as well as power to hit and kick like a freight train. This is proven regularly in open rooms by various men to many doubters. Personally, if I can't use something to fight, I don't want to know. This...also is very good for the body and gets better with age.
    It has never been common and it is hard to learn.
    Dan
    [url=www.bodyworkseminars.org][COLOR=#B22222][B]Ancient traditions * Modern Combatives[/B][/COLOR][B][/url] [/B][COLOR=#B22222][/COLOR]

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    We have Takeda's Quote: The term aiki has been used since ancient times and is not unique to Daito-ryu.
    And an often quoted public comment from the east coast representative of the Kodokai. "Daito ryu doesn't own aiki."
    We can temper that by saying various branches of the Daito ryu *do* have their own ideas of aiki. But this is no more, no less credible, than saying art X has its own version of aiki.
    Again to my original points over the debate:
    Who, has truly established any credible proprietary rights over the term as a method? No one. And no one...can, without all showing their hand, and examining the methods. I don't see how that can ever happen.
    Obviously aiki is just a word. if you choose to apply it to the firmness of a matress, or the smokiness of a bourbon, that's between you and the people you are trying to communicate with.

    The point is that you are using the term to attract students for whom the word has a fairly specific referent. You capitalize on the use of this word - a use that is considered proprietary inside of systems you do not train in. Legally wrong? Clearly not. But it raises serious questions of ethics for us who train in traditional systems. All of these problems could be solved if you changed your messaging by talking less, being more open and forthright about your training background and relationship with your teachers, demonstrated humility, etc.

    (note to mods: I do believe that was a civil reply that was completely on-topic with regard to "why the fuss").

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    Cliff Judge writes: The point is that you are using the term to attract students for whom the word has a fairly specific referent. You capitalize on the use of this word - a use that is considered proprietary inside of systems you do not train in. Legally wrong? Clearly not. But it raises serious questions of ethics for us who train in traditional systems. All of these problems could be solved if you changed your messaging by talking less, being more open and forthright about your training background and relationship with your teachers, demonstrated humility, etc.
    (note to mods: I do believe that was a civil reply that was completely on-topic with regard to "why the fuss").
    You are wrong in thinking aiki is owned by an art form. Peter told Nathan in the other aiki thread that he essentially rejected that view point. I do as well. You disagree with me. You need to find a way to express it reasonably.

    My background
    I don't have to discuss anything with you. I am not teaching an art form of any kind nor claim to be. I tell people in open rooms around the world not to call me a sensei and since many are teachers I say "That's your job."
    I say I will offer something and I do. People come to me mostly by word of mouth and 98% of them stay, 2% don't. It has been wildly successful. Too successful. We are teachers and students of Daito ryu, Aikido, Karate, Koryu, ICMA and MMA. Whether they are gullible, just plain stupid, or wise will be decided on in the near future. In the interim, we really don't care what you think of what we are doing.
    FWIW, since most of my friends are in them, I send people to train in traditional arts all the time including Daito ryu.
    Last edited by Dan Harden; 13th June 2014 at 16:15.
    Dan
    [url=www.bodyworkseminars.org][COLOR=#B22222][B]Ancient traditions * Modern Combatives[/B][/COLOR][B][/url] [/B][COLOR=#B22222][/COLOR]

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Harden View Post
    No one is judging anyone Cliff. It is a fair attempt at describing where everyone is at; respecting of arts, ranks and or skills, affiliation, oaths and restrictions, and to help see why no one ...still...has as yet in the history of the net, to actually say anything about doing aiki.

    Say something distinctive about the performance and details of aiki in Daito ryu, Cliff (I'm not really asking or trying to put you on the spot, but rather to get you and others to see the dilemma it causes when asked). So...no discussion has ever been had on the net regarding these topics. I'm perfectly okay with that and see no need to insult you because of it.
    My point is that your "fair attempt at describing where everyone is at" could actually be insulting. If you don't see that, please consider. If you did understand hackles being raised and posted it anyway, then it is wrong to me that you take insult when I try to make my own fair attempt at describing where YOU are at.

    For example, I said your appropriation of the term aiki to describe what you teach "raises ethical concerns for those of us who practiction traditional arts."

    For you that is equivalent to me "challenging your ethics and calling you a fraud." But I am not actually accusing you of anything, i am tal;king about MY ethical concerns.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Judge View Post
    Obviously aiki is just a word. if you choose to apply it to the firmness of a matress, or the smokiness of a bourbon, that's between you and the people you are trying to communicate with.

    The point is that you are using the term to attract students for whom the word has a fairly specific referent. You capitalize on the use of this word - a use that is considered proprietary inside of systems you do not train in. Legally wrong? Clearly not. But it raises serious questions of ethics for us who train in traditional systems. All of these problems could be solved if you changed your messaging by talking less, being more open and forthright about your training background and relationship with your teachers, demonstrated humility, etc.

    (note to mods: I do believe that was a civil reply that was completely on-topic with regard to "why the fuss").
    If you feel that the ethics of the system that you are training in don't permit you to discuss something then that's fine, but that has nothing to do with the ethics of someone who's using a term that Tokimune Takeda himself said was not proprietary to Daito-ryu.

    Suppose we put that aside, suppose we assume that the term was, at one point, proprietary to Daito-ryu - didn't Morihei Ueshiba let that cat out of the bag in the 1930's? If we assume that you think that Ueshiba was in the wrong, why do you call that other art you do "Aiki-do"? Are you complaining to Mitsugi Saotome about his ethics? What about his ethics when he broke off from the Aikikai and was no longer affiliated with the Ueshiba family? Will you tell him that you believe that he was wrong to be using the term then?

    It can well be argued that there are dozens of splinter groups in Daito-ryu and no real central lineage anymore. Did you complain to Oisin about his use of the term, since he comes from one of those splinter lineages? What about Nathan, who comes from another?

    What about me, who comes out of yet another? I have, certainly, more time in formal training in a clear lineage than you have, and my teachers (former teachers now, but we keep in touch) have no problems at all with our usage the term "Aiki" - so what business is it of yours?

    Dan, FWIW, has never been less than straightforward about anything concerning his training background or his relationship with his teachers. If I ask him (nicely) he answers. It only becomes frustrating for those who believe that personal information ought to be public information for anybody who asks. Now, if he said that he were teaching Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu in a recognized lineage, advertising that and charging fees, then I would expect him to be more public about those details. But he's not, in any way shape or form, saying that, so who he shares the details of his personal life with are entirely his business as far as I'm concerned. If you want to know more, then I suggest that you go meet him and try asking nicely.

    Best,

    Chris

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    Hi Chris
    Along with Peter and myself very good points. It does raise another aspect of questionable ethics:
    Since the soke (and other teachers who outrank them all) of their own art says THEY don't own the term, who are they and what rights do they actually have in pursuing ownership? Under who's authority?
    Dan
    [url=www.bodyworkseminars.org][COLOR=#B22222][B]Ancient traditions * Modern Combatives[/B][/COLOR][B][/url] [/B][COLOR=#B22222][/COLOR]

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    That's a good question to ask your teachers Chris. I'll ask Howard Popkin and other people I know in the art. Just "who" says this is the orthodox view in the art? I've never heard it accept on e-budo. Maybe it's a personal opinion they share. maybe it's a private in-house view they aren't even supposed to be sharing.
    Like you, I have heard and been told that Daito ryu didn't own the term and concept from teachers more qualified to make that assessment. This included Kondo on his first visit here as well as the words of the soke.
    Now... Actual teaching methods? Of course like koryu or all methods- that's a completely different story and rightfully so.
    Dan
    [url=www.bodyworkseminars.org][COLOR=#B22222][B]Ancient traditions * Modern Combatives[/B][/COLOR][B][/url] [/B][COLOR=#B22222][/COLOR]

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    I'd edit an early post but can't on this forum.

    I incorrectly wrote that PAG wrote of the history of aiki in his 'Transmission...' column in AikiWeb, but it was Mr. Josh Reyer, quoted below.

    I find this sort of analysis very useful to remind people that the definitions of aiki et al has changed dramatically over time, and applying an absolute statement along the lines of 'I teach the aiki of the ancients' is simply unsupportable.

    http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12008

    Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

    Quote:
    Shishida Fumiaki by way of Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
    「合気の概念
     合気武道という名辞が他の武道と識別されるのは、「合気」という概念にある。合気という言葉は、日本の江戸時代の武術伝書、例えば、一七六四年の起倒流 柔術書「灯火問答 」に見ることができる。そこでは、「あいき(相気)」を、技の攻防の際に相手と気筋が合って闘うのに困難な状態になる意味で用いている。「合気」という用 語の使用は、一八 〇〇年代の多くの武術伝書にも見いだすことができるが、これらの意味も「灯火問答」と同義である。こうした意味内容を転換させたのは一八九二年の「武道秘 訣合気の術」であ り、ここで、「合気」の意味は武道の奥義であり、「敵より一歩先んずる」こととしている。ここには、「先んずる」前提として「敵人読心の術」と「掛声の合 気」が説明されて いるが、具体的内容について記していない。
     大東流柔術において合気の意味をどのように定義付けていたのは、現在ではあまり明確に伝えられていない。それは同流中興の祖武田惣角が、日本武術の秘密 主義の伝統に従っ てその内容を書物として残さなかったことによる。しかしながら、高弟の一人佐川子之��は一九一三年のノートに「合気をかける (Mark, notice that Shishida writes aiki in kanji. The katakana reference clearly means little to him.) としばしば記しておる、大東流柔術おいて合気という言葉や技法が大東流合気柔術改称以前から指導されていたことが知られる。合気という言葉のこうした不明 確性が、大東流合 気柔術教授代理・植芝の合気の解釈に曖昧さを生んだ。
     しかし、植芝流が大きくなるにつれて、植芝の門下生や後継者たちはその曖昧さを補うように、合気道における合気という言葉に次ぎのような解釈を行った。 つまり、「合気」 が 「合」と「気」からなる文字の構成から「天地の気に合わせる道」という解釈や、体験的悟境から生まれた自然の動きや、動きのリズムに合わせるという 「天人合一」の解釈 などである。」

    The Concept of Aiki
    The term "aiki budo" is distinguished from other budo by the concept of "aiki". The word "aiki" can be seen in Edo period martial arts texts, for example Kito-ryu Jujutsu's "Touka Mondou" (Lamplight Dialogue) of 1764. There, "aiki" (相気) is used to refer to the difficult state of engaging in attack and defense when in the same kisetsu* as the opponent. The use of "aiki" (合気) can be found in many martial arts writings of the 1800s, with the same meaning as in the Touka Mondou.** The shift away from this meaning began with the 1892 "Budo Hiketsu Aiki no Jutsu" (The Secret Budo Techniques of Aiki); here "aiki" is an inner teaching of budo, with the meaning of "being one step ahead of the enemy" (敵より一歩先んずる). Here, "techniques of reading the mind of the enemy" (敵人読心の術) and "the aiki of battle cries" (掛け声の合気) are explained with "being ahead" (先んずる) as a presupposition, but specifics are not noted.

    It has not currently clearly been communicated what kind of meaning "aiki" has in Daito-ryu Jujutsu. The reviver of this ryu, Takeda Sokaku, left no writings on that subject, in accordance with the secretive practices of Japanese bujutsu. However, one of his top students, Sawaga Nenokichi, often wrote in some 1913 notes, "apply aiki" (合気をかける) [Here Professor Goldsbury draws attention to Shishida's use of kanji - JAR], so we know that the word aiki and instruction thereof was in Daito-ryu Jujutsu before the name change to Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu. This non-specificity of the word "aiki" led to the vagueness of the interpretation of "aiki" used by Ueshiba, a Kyouju Dairi of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu.

    However, as Ueshiba-ryu spread, and as Ueshiba's students and successors sought to compensate for this vagueness, interpretations such as this came about: as "aiki" is made up of the characters for "ai" and "ki", it is interpreted as "a way of joining with the energy (ki) of heaven and earth", or alternatively, a "unity of the heavenly and the human" through the matching of rhythm of movement, or natural movement born of an experiential state of understanding.
    ----------------------

    * kisetsu 気節 is one of those words that lends itself better to explanation than pithy translation. It is a compound of "ki", in this case meaning "feeling, intention", and "setsu", which carries a sense of both "time/rhythm" and "joint/break". In this context, it refers to the ebb and flow of intention and timing between attack and defense. 気節が合う, then, is talking about both opponents engaging in attack, or both opponents engaging in defense, or matched in permutations thereof, creating a stalemate.

    ** This meaning of "aiki" matches with the one reference to 合気 I've found in all of Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, indeed, in a document dating to the early 1800s. There it refers to a state of stalemate created by both opponents embodying 攻防一致, a unity of attack and defense.

    Quote:
    The question then becomes, why did Sagawa's father write aiki in katakana and not kanji?

    Generally, when one wanted to keep things secret in historical budo writings, one did not write in kana, but used ateji; different kanji that would be read with the proper pronunciation by those in the know, but would make little sense to those who had not received the proper oral instructions. (I could list several examples of this in Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, but then I'd have to kill you.) The most likely reasons for writing in kana would be 1) emphasis, 2) to make clear the pronunciation of an unusual term, or 3) to utilize the existence of homonyms by not pinning down the word to any particular kanji, which carry some semantic meaning. And example of this can be seen in Yagyu Munenori's Heiho Kadensho, where he writes the word "utsusu" in kana, so that it can mean both "move" and "reflect", without being restricted by the meanings inherent in the kanji normally used to make that distinction.

    Just as personal speculation, in this case I expect it's mostly 1) with a dash of 2).

    Edit: Actually, I just thought of another common reason for writing in kana, one that is probably most likely in this case. If these are Sagawa Nenokichi's personal notes, and given that Takeda was not keen on writing much down, it's possible that Nenokichi simply wasn't sure what kanji were best used for "aiki" 相気 or 合気, and so merely wrote the word in kana as an expedient.


    Last edited by Josh Reyer : 01-05-2011 at 10:52 PM.

    Josh Reyer

    *********

    Lance Gatling

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    Quote Originally Posted by LGatling View Post
    I'd edit an early post but can't on this forum.

    I incorrectly wrote that PAG wrote of the history of aiki in his 'Transmission...' column in AikiWeb, but it was Mr. Josh Reyer, quoted below.

    I find this sort of analysis very useful to remind people that the definitions of aiki et al has changed dramatically over time, and applying an absolute statement along the lines of 'I teach the aiki of the ancients' is simply unsupportable.

    Lance Gatling
    I'm not sure what the point is here except that words change over time. If I say "I cook lamb like the ancient Greeks" the fact that they would have used a different word for "lamb" is immaterial to whether or not we are cooking the same thing in the same way.

    In any case, there are some interesting theories floating around as to how that terminology got started, and some of the more interesting ones (and not from anyone associated with Dan, BTW) hook into some of the things that Dan was talking about before. But that's another discussion.

    Best,

    Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Li View Post
    I'm not sure what the point is here except that words change over time. If I say "I cook lamb like the ancient Greeks" the fact that they would have used a different word for "lamb" is immaterial to whether or not we are cooking the same thing in the same way.

    In any case, there are some interesting theories floating around as to how that terminology got started, and some of the more interesting ones (and not from anyone associated with Dan, BTW) hook into some of the things that Dan was talking about before. But that's another discussion.

    Best,

    Chris
    The point is not that words change over time, which is self evident, but that the very concept of aiki, the topic of this thread, has changed dramatically over time.

    My thesis is that what I understand to be a definition of aiki used by Mr. Harden today has about as much to do with the old definitions of aiki as his saying 'I'm cooking lamb like the ancient Greeks' while microwaving salmon.

    Sort of a stretch to me.

    Lance Gatling

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    Quote Originally Posted by LGatling View Post
    The point is not that words change over time, which is self evident, but that the very concept of aiki, the topic of this thread, has changed dramatically over time.

    My thesis is that what I understand to be a definition of aiki used by Mr. Harden today has about as much to do with the old definitions of aiki as his saying 'I'm cooking lamb like the ancient Greeks' while microwaving salmon.

    Sort of a stretch to me.

    Lance Gatling
    I don't think that Shishida has shown that at all, but that's just me.

    Best,

    Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Li View Post
    I don't think that Shishida has shown that at all, but that's just me.

    Best,

    Chris
    It seems to me that if one were to argue that they have the right to use the term aiki to describe what they do based on the fact that the term has been used elsewhere and in other contexts than those that are strictly proprietary, then one bears the burden of argument that the wider / older usages of the term have anything to do with what one is actually using the term to refer to. But that's just (G1).

    And thanks to Lance Gatling for clarifying which post he was referring to. Reyer-san. Shinkage ryu. Good stuff.
    Last edited by Cliff Judge; 14th June 2014 at 03:08.

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