Monday, January 08, 2007

Japanese vs. English

Subcultures are defined in large part by their specific use of jargon. The martial arts world is rife with this and aikido is probably worse than other martial arts, because it has at least two different commonly-used systems of terminology for naming techniques(Aikikai and Tomiki).
I realize that one of the best ways to irritate my readers is to use terms that only a select few of the in-crowd understand. But the problem with not using the Japanese is that often a complex thing has been given a name that happens to be Japanese. In some cases, I can give the English in parentheses, like when talking about the oizuki (lunge punch) technique, but in other cases, like when referring to gyakugamaeate, there are several potential English translations ranging from literal (reverse-posture striking) to loose (the outside face push), none of which convey the idea of what is being discussed. To stop in each post and write the paragraph that it would take to give an approximate meaning of gyakugamaeate would be onerous.
So, to help out all those who I have irritated by using Japanese terminology, here are a few guidelines that I will attempt to follow from now on when posting on here:
  • When something has a widely-used English term that is both concise and evocative, I will use the English, maybe followed by the Japanese in parentheses. For instance - the guard (dojime gatame)
  • When the concise, evocative English term does not exist, I'll use the Japanese terminology, often followed by a loose English translation in parentheses. For instance - yama arashi (one-armed shoulder throw combined with a leg sweep).
  • When I'm specifically talking about Aikikai techniques or when I think the topic might be particularly interesting to my Aikikai buddies, I'll use both naming systems as I understand them. For instance - gyakugamaeate is roughly the same thing as sokumen irimi nage.
  • When I can, I'll provide links to pictures or video to clarify especially problematic terms, like gyakugamaeate .

Thanks to my friends who have told me that my use of Japanese terms bugs them. Please keep reading and leaving comments and let me know if I get better or worse ;-)

1 comment:

  1. Seeing the aikikai terms just fuzzes my mind at the moment. I need to work up a post that does equivalences for me aikikai/tomiki so I have a reference when reading blogs of people doing other styles.


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