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

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    [QUOTE=LGatling;501781]Yes, these concepts are ubiquitous. They do not originate in the martial arts, but rather in the 四書五経 the Four Books and Five Classics of Confucianism and their hundreds of later commentaries. These broad cultural philosophies were used to guide and enlighten everything from familial relations to tax policy. Adopted by the martial arts, they were modified to enlighten, explain and expand biomechanics, tactics and strategy.

    Mr. Sigman's intro to seems right.

    This is a selfish question, perhaps. Chinese grammar is not my forte, but I don't understand Mr. Bisio's use of the term 'triad' below. AFAIK a 'triad' is a Chinese criminal gang. There are many famous binary elements such as 陰陽 yin/yang 文武 civil/military 明暗 light/dark etc, and four- and more character idioms 成語 chéngyǔ (Japanese: yojijukugo 四字熟語). I just don't know if there's a specific name for a three-character idiom outside of 三字 san'ji (three characters), and have never seen the use of 'triad' in that context. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chengyu

    In this discussion, the idea of triads – groups of three – will be used to help understand the concept of ‘internal’. Triads are an important concept in Chinese thought. The most basic triad in Chinese philosophy is that of Heaven, Earth and Human Beings. This is often depicted with Heaven above, Earth below and Human Beings in the center. This Triad is the basis of San Ti Shi, the “Trinity” posture, or ‘Three Body Pattern’ in Xing Yi Quan (Form-Intention or Form-Image Boxing). From this fundamental triad, many other triads can be developed to explain internal arts and internal training. Heaven’s energy (yang qi) flows downward and is received by Earth. Earth’s energy (yin) flows upward. The two interact and co-mingle in living things. Earth manifests and upholds physical forms in response to Heaven’s movement and image. There is an interaction of form and intention, images and manifestations, qi and substance. [\UNQUOTE]

    Note I'm not questioning the basic introduction regarding the element 天地人tiān dì rén but rather the use of the term 'triad' only.

    I don't know enough about it to comment on the notion of Westerners developing their own 'triads', especially by people who don't understand Chinese and the culture behind the words.

    Lance Gatling
    I don't think it really matters whether it originated in Confucianism or not for our purposes. By "triad" I believe that he means just what he said - a group of three things, which is quite common (as he also says) in China (and also Japan, FWIW). I don't know of anybody who's making up their own "triads", although there must be someone, somewhere.

    Best,

    Chris

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    Default The Four Books and the Five (or Six...) Classics

    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Judge View Post
    ....
    I am not sure the best place for it would be this particular thread, but a general primer on these Chinese texts that are often referenced would probably be useful for e-budo. What the texts are, why they are considered important to Chinese martial arts, whether they are exclusively Chinese martial arts treatises, etc.
    That's a pretty tall order. Here's a primer:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Bo..._Five_Classics
    Note that there was a sixth classic, the Music Classic, lost forever, but mentioned in many other texts. There are tons of websites that go through them line by line. Note that interpretations change (sometimes dramatically) over time.

    The 易経 I Ching (Japanese: Eki Kyō) actually predates the basic Confucian and Taoist texts, and shaped and informs them both.

    (I've been defeated by the website formatting, so here's a cut and paste
    Chris Li wrote:
    I don't think it really matters whether it originated in Confucianism or not for our purposes. By "triad" I believe that he means just what he said - a group of three things, which is quite common (as he also says) in China (and also Japan, FWIW). I don't know of anybody who's making up their own "triads", although there must be someone, somewhere.
    Best,

    Chris
    ***
    Sure, it it works for you.

    I think keeping that keeping that in mind grounds the discussion in context; if nothing else, it provides a cultural perspective. (As Joe Svinth said, we're discerning the number of angels on a pinhead, so it helps to remember the context of Christianity. Or, in this case, Taoism and Confucianism, or for Ueshiba sensei, Omoto or whatever it was he ended up espousing, I dunno. I think Ellis Amdur's HIPS places Ueshiba sensei's later oral teachings, including Prof G's knee-killing endless lectures, into a persuasive spiritual / philosophic context.)

    I can find no other mention of 'triads' in this context on the net, so let's assume as you seem to that he made the term up to mean a three-character chéngyǔ set idiom. To me, Mr. Bisio using - the idea of triads – groups of three – ... to help understand the concept of ‘internal’ misses the point. That seems to change the discussion from the centrality of relationships - starting with the relationships of Heaven/Earth/Man, which just happens to be 三字 three characters - to mere numerology - the importance of 'three' versus four, five, etc. I think it that flaw mars the entire analysis, which although well written I could only follow it part way through.
    And he implies others are developing or can develop their own 'triads', not me: From this fundamental triad, many other triads can be developed to explain internal arts and internal training.

    I don't have a clue if anyone is doing that - could be standard practice in the IP community for all I know. My suspicion is there is a lot of it, people departing from the demonstrating ancient texts and making up new relationships and explanations. (To me it's kind of like a new Catholic convert that doesn't speak Latin or theology suddenly making up his own new Old Latin catechisms - don't plan for a great result, but hey! who's going to know anyhow? Just keep jabbering, no one speaks Latin anymore anyhow. )

    If the concepts being discussed have any significance or utility then their origin and context seem important. Otherwise, how would you know what is orthodoxy, novelty or heresy, or made up modern crap?

    Just me, perhaps reading too much into it, or I've missed something, which is why I asked the question.

    Lance Gatling

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    Quote Originally Posted by LGatling View Post
    Yes, these concepts are ubiquitous. They do not originate in the martial arts, but rather in the 四書五経 the Four Books and Five Classics of Confucianism and their hundreds of later commentaries. These broad cultural philosophies were used to guide and enlighten everything from familial relations to tax policy. Adopted by the martial arts, they were modified to enlighten, explain and expand biomechanics, tactics and strategy.
    You know the funny thing is, I can actually picture Osensei saying "this is how we do filial piety and tax policy….with aiki." It is just that I don't believe he would be referring to not moving when people pushed on him.

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    I've never had any problems or criticism with what you guys are doing. It is mostly the appropriation of the term aiki that I take issue with, I don't hear Ark use this term, the Systema guys don't use it. You guys discard any number of other traditional trappings, Dan describes his training methods as fairly revolutionary, so why insist on keeping the term?

    You say it is Aiki. I ask why you call it aiki, you reply that a great many things are and have been aiki, what you are doing fits into that general category that includes Daito ryu and Aikido. I ask for some examples (which seems to result in some feather ruffling), and you explain that the Chinese classics explain what Aiki is. We all seem to agree that the Chinese classics have had a deep, wide, pervasive influence on the philosophy of Asia. I ask, are all of these things aiki then? More feathers ruffled. So I make a lame joke about it. About where we were in the discussion, not about you directly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Judge View Post
    My clownish barb, which was probably in poor taste, was not really meant to refer to you (or y'all) nor to what you are doing. I sincerely apologize if you felt offended.

    In fact awhile after I posted that I realized that i most certainly could imagine Osensei demonstrating with a kokyu throw that "this is how we do tax policy with aiki."

    I've never had any problems or criticism with what you guys are doing. It is mostly the appropriation of the term aiki that I take issue with, I don'thear Ark use this term, the Systema guys don't use it. You guys discard any number of other traditional trappings, Dan describes his training methods as fairly revokutionary, so why insist on keeping the term?

    You say it is Aiki. I ask why you call it aiki, you reply that a great many things are and have been aiki, what you are doing fits into that general category that includes Daito ryu and Aikido. I ask for some examples (which seems to result in some feather ruffling), and you explain that the Chinese classics explain what Aiki is. We all seem to agree that the Chinese classics have had a deep, wide, pervasive influence on the philosophy of Asia. I ask, are all of these things aiki then? More feathers ruffled. So I make a lame joke about it. About where we were in the discussion, not about you directly.

    Again, sorry if I offended.
    Fair enough post. Let me see if I can provide some answers. While I am guilty of being blunt, I am rarely guilty of being vindictive or angry. Ask anyone who knows me. I'm probably laughing more than I'm serious.

    I used group terms to indicate more than one and in a timeframe more than just current. But the context stands. Let's frame it this way, if I were to say that I am doing Kondo's aiki ... it would be akin to a mid level aikido person saying he knows what a specific koryu inner secret is, what it is like, how to train it, etc. It just goes downhill from there. Especially if I ask for research from anyone who disagrees with me as I have provided none myself, nor do I have the necessary training background to uphold my claims. Then if anyone calls me on my posts and a senior moderator jumps on that person (of which this has been done more than once) ... can you see how much of conversation killers these become?

    As to aikido ... that's a different story altogether. I consider myself a mid level aikido person. However, I've had conversations with Bill Gleason, a shihan, who has stated that what we are training is aiki. Chris Li, another person who has a solid background in aikido, also states that this is aiki. Marc Abrams, who also has a solid background, states this is aiki. Meyer Goo, who has a solid background in aikido and trained with the founder, has stated this is aiki. Someone else whom I cannot name who trained with the founder has stated that this is aiki. I trained with another person who trained with the founder (sorry, can't mention a name) and I found that a lot of the training principles were the same. Gary Welborn, who has a solid training history in aikido, states this is aiki. Allen Beebe, who has a solid training history in aikido from Shirata, has said this is aiki. Those are top level aikido people. That doesn't even touch on all of us mid level people, some of whom do have extensive training records.

    The last time I checked, of the total shodan through 7th dan aikido people who have gone and trained this stuff ... I think 99.9% of them (there might be one, maybe) stated this is aiki.

    So, on the one side of the aisle, we have those people who haven't trained this stuff saying that there's no way it can be aiki, how can you call it aiki, etc. And on that side of the aisle, all those people have various definitions of aiki. On the other side of the aisle, we have the aikido people with 20 and 40+ years of training (some of which were with the founder) saying that what we're training is aiki in a 99.9% rate. On this side of the aisle, we all tend to have a common one, have a better understanding of what Ueshiba's lectures really meant, and can see similarities in other martial systems from Chinese to koryu. Either we've all drunk a whole lot of Kool-Aid (but remember, many of these people wanted to prove that this wasn't aiki prior to training in it. Some publicly posted they were wrong) or we all have a much greater understanding of what Ueshiba was doing with aiki.

    Finally, you ask for what aiki is from us. Except in a Daito ryu context, you have neither the basis nor training to actually say if what we do is Daito ryu aiki or not. Nothing against you personally. I don't have that context either. Until one is initiated and has the deeper teachings for the inner secrets, none of us can say. Kondo's Daito ryu is koryu to him and has its own inner teachings and secrets, aiki being one. In regards to your asking from an aikido background ... why is it that you have not had this conversation with Bill Gleason, a 7th dan shihan in your own organization? I would think that Bill would be a very good resource for getting answers and explanations. I've found him to be an excellent teacher who really does care if his students progress.

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    You are essentially making an argument from authority to justify the label. It may be that we all are. Why do you personally consider it aiki?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Judge View Post
    You are essentially making an argument from authority to justify the label. It may be that we all are. Why do you personally consider it aiki?
    Actually, no. That you don't understand that is a personal issue that could be addressed by one of your own shihan. But again, you ask and expect details, research, verifiable results while you have presented none to the contrary. It's a hollow endorsement. You expect the readers to take you at your word without any verifiable justification that your view of aiki is solid while pushing me for research and justifications on aiki.

    Just taking into account this thread, you have no foundational basis for the conversation. I have pointed to high level aikido people's hands-on experience (not their authority as there are shihan everywhere who do not have the real world experience with either Ueshiba or his deshi) in which they have determined from years of training that this is aiki.

    You have presented:
    ...

    I have presented:
    Ueshiba-Yamaguchi/Saotome-Gleason
    Ueshiba/Takeda-Shirata-Beebe
    Ueshiba-Imaizumi-Abrams
    Ueshiba-Meyer Goo
    Ueshiba- unnamed (and I apologize but the info was in confidence)
    Ueshiba - unnamed (again in confidence). This was only that certain IP/aiki training exercises/principles between Ueshiba and IP/aiki group were the same. Conversation didn't go further than that.

    These are years of hands on experience. It's the tip of the iceberg. But, then again, why should I keep going when all that's been given on the other side is ... silence.

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    I hesitate to get involved because on the practical matters of IP/IS I agree with Dan, Cady, etc. But I'm still on the fence in regards to the (purely intellectual) matter of defining Aiki as "the quality or state of harmonizing/unification of opposite forces (Yin-Yang/In-Yo) that we self-generate within our own bodies." I bring it up just to help clarify communication.

    Cady, Dan, Chris, or whoever---how do you respond to these statements:

    Sokaku Takeda: "Aiki is to remove power from the opponent, a technique for making them non-resistant."
    Tokimune Takeda: "Aiki is to pull when you are pushed, and to push when you are pulled."
    Yukiyoshi Sagawa: "Aiki is to make the power of the enemy into nothing, and to apply an attack with the focused power of Aiki to the enemy in that state."
    While I think Chris Li has made a pretty strong argument on his blog that Ueshiba's writings were getting at a definition of Aiki as the harmonizing/unification of opposite forces in the body, the above quotes by other Daito-ryu teachers still seem to place Aiki as a thing you do to to another person. (Of course you can ask, "how do you accomplish those things?", to which the answer is IS/IP, similar to CIMA, etc. But that's not how the above quotes seem to be framing the term "Aiki", to my ears at least.)
    --Timothy Kleinert

    Aikido & Qigongs

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    Quote Originally Posted by WVMark View Post
    Actually, no. That you don't understand that is a personal issue that could be addressed by one of your own shihan. But again, you ask and expect details, research, verifiable results while you have presented none to the contrary. It's a hollow endorsement. You expect the readers to take you at your word without any verifiable justification that your view of aiki is solid while pushing me for research and justifications on aiki.

    Just taking into account this thread, you have no foundational basis for the conversation. I have pointed to high level aikido people's hands-on experience (not their authority as there are shihan everywhere who do not have the real world experience with either Ueshiba or his deshi) in which they have determined from years of training that this is aiki.

    You have presented:
    ...

    I have presented:
    Ueshiba-Yamaguchi/Saotome-Gleason
    Ueshiba/Takeda-Shirata-Beebe
    Ueshiba-Imaizumi-Abrams
    Ueshiba-Meyer Goo
    Ueshiba- unnamed (and I apologize but the info was in confidence)
    Ueshiba - unnamed (again in confidence). This was only that certain IP/aiki training exercises/principles between Ueshiba and IP/aiki group were the same. Conversation didn't go further than that.

    These are years of hands on experience. It's the tip of the iceberg. But, then again, why should I keep going when all that's been given on the other side is ... silence.

    I was looking for something more along the lines of why you personally care about whether it is called aiki or not, Mark.

    That is a funny way to deny that you are making an appeal to authority by the way, to name a bunch of names like that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Judge View Post
    I was looking for something more along the lines of why you personally care about whether it is called aiki or not, Mark.

    That is a funny way to deny that you are making an appeal to authority by the way, to name a bunch of names like that.
    This is the last I'll say on this because it's way off topic:

    Appeal to Authority: Using an authority as evidence in your argument when the authority is not really an authority on the facts relevant to the argument. As the audience, allowing an irrelevant authority to add credibility to the claim being made.

    So, basically, you're saying that Bill Gleason, Meyer Goo, Chris Li, Allen Beebe, Marc Abrams, etc, are clueless and irrelevant? An "appeal to authority" is used when the "authority" is irrelevant. That is definitely not the case here, unless of course you really do believe these people don't have the necessary real-world experience and training? Good, now that we have that out of the way ...

    It's Ueshiba's aiki per your very own 7th dan shihan. Have you asked him about why he personally calls it aiki? Personally, I agree with Bill, Chris, Allen, Marc, Meyer, etc. Their combined experience has the necessary real-world training in aikido to give an extremely informed decision on what is or isn't Ueshiba's aiki.

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    I was asking why the whole thing matters to you persoanlly. Why does it matter whether we call all of these interal power modalities "aiki" or not? I think those of us who don't like to see the label applied everywhere have offered some explanation for why.

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    Wait a minute, both of you. I think you are talking past each other, as so often happens in discussions such as this. I think it is becoming a good discussion, but it might be useful for someone else, not directly involved, to see where you are both going. Timothy Kleinert posed some interesting questions in his post (Post #76) and responding to these would be good.

    I have been around for a long time, but the only persons out of all those who Mark cited, whom I myself have met, are Allen Beebe and his own teacher, Rinjiro Shirata. The others are names, well-known names, but names nonetheless and of people I am probably unlikely to meet. So I have to go on what they write in books or in forums such as this. Of course, you can argue that you need to go and 'feel' these people to understand what they are doing -- and thus what they are saying, but this argument is of only limited value, for until this happens -- if it happens, it is still a matter of words in books or discussion forums.

    I have never met Mr Gleason, but his name stands out for me, since I have read his books and, more importantly, I was also taught for many years by his own teacher. Mr Judge has the advantage or training in aikido and also in a koryu under the guidance of Dr David Hall, the author of the encyclopedia I discussed earlier. So I think the questions he asks about aiki are different questions from the ones I would ask, for instance. I think this difference in viewpoint has to be recognized and acknowledged -- but this also means that any discussion has to be conducted with a certain care.

    Mr Judge asks why it matters whether 'we call these internal power modalities "aiki" or not' and this is an important question. For me, one who practices aikido, it matters because Morihei Ueshiba himself used this term, quite freely, as it happens. However, it is still a moot question for me whether 'these internal power modalities' can be identified with what Morihei Ueshiba called "aiki".

    There are several other issues here, one major issue being, 'How would we find out?'

    1. One way would be to approach Morihei Ueshiba through his published discourses. I have stated before that these have not been adequately studied, but this lack is now being remedied to some extent. It has to be recognized, however, that Ueshiba's published discourses are difficult to deal with, one reason being for what they take for granted in terms of assumed knowledge, and another reason being the way they were edited and put together. In this connection, the Aikikai itself is of little use, since the art they claim to be teaching is aikido and, to my knowledge, no one from the Aikikai is officially teaching 'aiki'. Individual teachers might well do this unofficially, but it will be up to the individual to find these teachers.

    2. Another way would be to practice some form of Daito-ryu, the supposition being that Morihei Ueshiba himself practiced this and that this is what he was 'really' doing all his life. The Aikikai is seen as the villain here, since they have presented Ueshiba in such a way as to diminish the importance of his links with Takeda Sokaku, but this argument tends to ignore the fact that Ueshiba himself distanced himself from Takeda and became increasingly aware that he was practicing another art. Thus the move to diminish the connection came from Ueshiba himself, but was taken up by the Aikikai for its own reasons. The very close connection between Kisshomaru Ueshiba and his father is also a moot question here.

    3. Another way would be to combine this approach with some practical hands-on training and this has the advantage of being what Ueshiba's own students appear to have done. The question then would be who to train with or under. Someone like Akuzawa Minoru, who is independent of any koryu or gendai art, but who does something that is clearly effective and important, but which he does not call aiki and which he claims is valid for any bujutsu? Notice that it is quite possible in this case to combine this (admittedly severe) personal training via Akuzawa, while still training in aikido. However, it is likely that one's aikido training would be affected by this -- and that this would not necessarily be a bad thing.

    4. Another way would be to stop aikido altogether, for the supposedly pernicious effects aikido might have on the new way of training, and do something that is recognizably IP / IT, perhaps with a teacher from a lineage in CMA. It has been stated many times that IP / IT training is quite different from traditional aikido training and any mutual interaction can be an obstacle: the longer the aikido training, the greater the obstacle. I think the only way to test this hypothesis is to try it.

    We are still left with the question whether any of these four ways will bring us closer to understanding what Morihei Ueshiba himself meant by 'aiki' and for me this is the point of the whole discussion here.

    Best wishes,
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

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    Quote Originally Posted by TimothyKleinert View Post
    I hesitate to get involved because on the practical matters of IP/IS I agree with Dan, Cady, etc. But I'm still on the fence in regards to the (purely intellectual) matter of defining Aiki as "the quality or state of harmonizing/unification of opposite forces (Yin-Yang/In-Yo) that we self-generate within our own bodies." I bring it up just to help clarify communication.

    While I think Chris Li has made a pretty strong argument on his blog that Ueshiba's writings were getting at a definition of Aiki as the harmonizing/unification of opposite forces in the body, the above quotes by other Daito-ryu teachers still seem to place Aiki as a thing you do to to another person. (Of course you can ask, "how do you accomplish those things?", to which the answer is IS/IP, similar to CIMA, etc. But that's not how the above quotes seem to be framing the term "Aiki", to my ears at least.)
    Like Takeda Sokaku before him, Morihei Ueshiba taught by way of using waza 業/技 for practicing which he needed an uke. So I think you cannot get away from the matter of the other person. I think the issue is how you focus on the waza. If you regard effective accomplishment of the waza as the main aim -- which is quite plausible given that aikido is regarded as a self-defence art, you might be tempted to ignore the other aspects and this will have consequences for how you conceive of the art and the importance of aiki within it.

    Best wishes,
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

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    Timothy,
    My belief is that what Ueshiba was saying (via Chris Li's translations) and what Sokaku Takeda and Yukiyoshi Sagawa were saying, are just different aspects of the same thing -- with Ueshiba speaking of the tangible nature of aiki (the state itself; not the training or actions one can do to achieve this state), and Sokaku and Sagawa speaking of its effect in application -- the products of aiki. But, Tokimune Takeda... I'm not sure of his intention with the pull-when-pushed/push-when-pulled, because that seems like a very narrow tactical application that is not limited to aiki arts. The first time I read that in the original (translated) interview, it felt like a dodge or deflection to avoid providing any substantial hints as to the nature of aiki. But, that may have been something lost in the translation, or perhaps there are writings that go into greater detail of what his meaning was.

    Quote Originally Posted by TimothyKleinert View Post
    I hesitate to get involved because on the practical matters of IP/IS I agree with Dan, Cady, etc. But I'm still on the fence in regards to the (purely intellectual) matter of defining Aiki as "the quality or state of harmonizing/unification of opposite forces (Yin-Yang/In-Yo) that we self-generate within our own bodies." I bring it up just to help clarify communication.

    Cady, Dan, Chris, or whoever---how do you respond to these statements:

    Sokaku Takeda: "Aiki is to remove power from the opponent, a technique for making them non-resistant."
    Tokimune Takeda: "Aiki is to pull when you are pushed, and to push when you are pulled."
    Yukiyoshi Sagawa: "Aiki is to make the power of the enemy into nothing, and to apply an attack with the focused power of Aiki to the enemy in that state."

    While I think Chris Li has made a pretty strong argument on his blog that Ueshiba's writings were getting at a definition of Aiki as the harmonizing/unification of opposite forces in the body, the above quotes by other Daito-ryu teachers still seem to place Aiki as a thing you do to to another person. (Of course you can ask, "how do you accomplish those things?", to which the answer is IS/IP, similar to CIMA, etc. But that's not how the above quotes seem to be framing the term "Aiki", to my ears at least.)
    Cady Goldfield

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    Default Earliest English definition of aiki?

    What if the original meaning was not much more than that push / pull?

    I give you the words regarding aiki from one of Ueshiba Morihei sensei's earliest and most accomplished students, Tomiki Kenji shihan, the first aikido 8dan, a personal student from around 1922, and a co-instructor of aiki-bujutsu coordinated and sometimes paired with Ueshiba for years.

    ******
    EXPLANATION OF AIKIDO* TECHNIQUES
    (According to the Principles of Judo)

    SECTION I. FUNDAMENTALS OF AIKIDO

    ....
    Of all jujutsu schools continuing up to the present day, the aiki-jujutsu of the Daito school is perhaps the best in respect of atemi-waza and kansetsu-waza. According to den-sho (manuscripts of instruction and records of the secrets of the martial arts), the aiki-jujutsu dates as far back as the Kamakura period (1185-1336). It was found by Yoshimitsu Minamoto (d. 1120) and handed down in the Minamoto family for generations, and then was taken over by the Takeda family in the Aizu clan. After seven generations the legitimate successor of the art is now Mr. Moritaka Ueshiba. A man of profound religious beliefs, he made many additions to the art, and it is now known as aikido. It consists of a large number of techniques, 2,664 in all, including offensive and defensive techniques to be applied in sitting or standing positions, or with the use of a weapon, such as the sword, spear, or club. There is no rationally laid down method of training in this art. Pupils have to acquire skill in the techniques one by one under the instruction of the master. It requires many years to become versed in the principles of the techniques and well trained in them, so the art is regarded as difficult for the general public to learn.
    *******

    * The meaning of "aikido". The old saying goes, "It is the spirit that carries the mind and controls the body." The people of ancient time believed that the man's mind and body and consequently his strength were under the control of the spirit. Aiki means making your spirit "fit in" with your opponent's. In other words it means bringing your movements into accord with your opponent's. After all it means the same thing as the "principle of gentleness," for it is an explanation of the principle from within.

    (emphasis added. The footnote at * is Tomiki's.)

    Tomiki Kenji. Judo: Appendix Aikido. Japan Travel Bureau: Tokyo, 1956, pp 101-102

    NOTES:
    - Tomiki knew Ueshiba from before he changed his name from Moritaka to Morihei
    - Tomiki calls aiki simply an explanation of the principle of flexibility "from within", while making it clear there is an external explanation, too
    - 柔 can be read jū or yawara, and means flexibility or gentleness  
    - 柔の理 jū-no-ri, the principle of flexibility, is one of the fundamental principles of jūdō, jū being the first syllable of jūdō, hence literally 'the way of flexibility'
    - see my earlier post on the Huáng Shígōng Sān Lüè, the Three Strategies of Huang Shigong, for the apocryphal origins of jū-no-ri (Kano shihan himself once wrote he had doubts about that origin but never offered a reasonable alternative origin. Tomiki discusses some of this, see below)
    - by 1956, Tomiki had been teaching aikido for over 20 years, yet still notes 'There is no rationally laid down method of training in this art.' He had rationalized (and recorded) the aiki-bujutsu he taught to the Japanese Imperial Manchurian Army, because they required it, being the bureaucratic warriors they were.

    COMMENTS:
    - Note that Tomiki does not cite Daitō ryū as primarily known for aiki, but rather for atemi-waza (striking techniques) and kansetsu-waza (joint techniques); those techniques are the focus of this section of his book. While he does not specifically cite a lack of ability of aiki or jū in Daitō ryū, of which he was very aware, he reserves his praise for superb command of jū-no-ri for Kitō ryū, the most esoteric jūjutsu school, now essentially extinct, long ago absorbed into Kōdōkan jūdō.
    - The Koshiki no kata (ancient form) of jūdō is about all left of the school, once a complex sōgō bujutsu with multiple armed and unarmed forms. BTW, Koshiki no kata is almost never performed well, much less correctly, for a number of reasons, so unless you've seen it performed correctly, don't bother pointing out that most examples suck. I know.
    - Tomiki's comments make it clear that aiki or jū is not a 'state' (although I am not sure what that means, really), and certainly not a static 'immovable object' exercise, but an appropriate, measured physical response to an opponent's attack. If an opponent does not move, move around them and keep going. That, too, is jū.
    - If weasels do not rip my flesh*, some day I will post Tomiki's (rather long) exposition of the physical and philosophic details, which draws on jū, wa, ancient Japanese history, the Analects of Confucius, describes appropriate responses, and how to win in randori.
    - What is seen today in postwar jūdō is not the jūdō that Tomiki shihan knew, so don't bother pointing that out, either.

    Lance Gatling

    * apologies to Mr. Zappa

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