Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Think out of the box by speaking out of the box

Because of this whole Conversation of Ideas thing, it used to be a requirement for admission to all grad schools to be proficient in languages other than your mother tongue.  For some grad schools this is still a requirement.  In some fields the languages are specified - for instance in Christian theology programs it is common to require proficiency in Hebrew, Greek, and sometimes in Latin.  This makes sense, because it is assumed that if you are getting into graduate studies, that you are going to have to communicate with scholars from other nations, and you're going to have to read original documents.
If we were to operate our aikido organizations like classical colleges, then we would need either a common language (Japanese) or proficiency in the various languages (Aikikai, Tomiki, etc...) used in aikido circles.  I have done two or three articles comparing Tomiki terminology with Aikikai terminology, but it goes deeper than just knowing that some folks call ikkyo by the name oshitaoshi - that sort of translation by vocabulary list only goes so far.
See, these terms are like boxes that we put ideas into, and the set of ideas that Aikikai guys throw into their box labeled, "ikkyo" is not quite the same set of ideas that Tomiki folks throw into their "oshitaoshi" box.  They are similar and there is some overlap between those sets, but they are not 100% synonymous.  What's more, Daito guys have an "ikkyo" box and its contents are different from both the Tomiki "oshitaoshi" box and the Aikikai "ikkyo" box.  We won't even get into Yoshinkai - those guys label their box, "ikkajo osae."
Learning the other guys' language would require us to immerse ourselves in their world, just as language acquisition happens in the real world, but it would allow us to think about aiki outside of the boxes that our first sensei put things into for us.

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Patrick Parker

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