Aiki Described Through Taiji

Tim's Discussion Board: Tai Ji Quan : Aiki Described Through Taiji

   By Timber on Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 10:45 pm: Edit Post

Martial arts is a hobby nowadays and is taught as so. Do soldiers practice sparring, combat drills, and gun firing or do they Sit around learning the art of war, book of changes, etc? Be realistic here, Robert.

When I studied ba gua there was no sparring at all and you didnt do push hands till you studied the basics for a few years.
We would learn a lot about ba gua philosophy and the teacher talked about the book of changes but there was a lack of urgency in the class to develop martial proficiency. You can't have it all. Martial proficiency and philosophy.

   By Timber on Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 11:37 pm: Edit Post

Robert, are you arguing that studying the yi Jing will make you a better fighter?

   By Kit Leblanc on Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 11:38 pm: Edit Post


"Martial arts is a hobby nowadays and is taught as so. Do soldiers practice sparring, combat drills, and gun firing or do they Sit around learning the art of war, book of changes, etc? "

The Marine Corps "Book of Strategy", Warfighting, is strongly based in Sun Zi's theory through John
Boyd....the average Marine may not study this or care, but the best of them read this kind of stuff on a regular basis as it conditions their strategic, tactical, and combative mindset....generals and leaders have read ancient treatises on strategy and combat for millenia - were they are unrealistic?

The overall point made here is valid - reading abstruse philosophy will do nothing for people who don't understand hard training and actual fighting. But be careful of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Folks must remember the people we are talking about often were NOT hobbyist martial artists - books of tactical and strategic theory were important to them because the martial arts to them were life and death pursuits. And they viewed them from various lenses - overall strategy, morality, "just" war, morale and beliefs of their men, when killing is justified, how much killing is justified, under what conditions that killing would be justified, how to conduct oneself as a leader of men going facing the potential of their own deaths....

It is not surprising that modern martial artists tend to dismiss this - by and large they don't do this anymore. This is not to say that the modern soldier will gain anything helpful to him in battle by reading the Yi Jing, but he may very well read Warfighting, Boyd, the Bible, poetry, or books of philosophy that he DOES feel help him in some way, shape or form.

Others not understanding how does not invalidate it. Doesn't mean they would understand it, or get the same thing from it either.

You very much can - and SHOULD - have both martial proficiency and philosophy, in particular if you are in a position to take life or have yours taken from you. Mutually supportive, not mutually exclusive.

Dare I point this out, but explore the very meaning of Shen Wu....

   By Kit Leblanc on Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 11:52 pm: Edit Post

"I think the problems start when certain conceptual "labels" are given to straightforward fighting systems, and then future generations of practitioners (most often not as skilled as their predecessors) set out to rearrange existing structures and techniques to fit the labels. That always spells trouble for practical efficiency."


I have to wonder if this is more a problem with Chinese pedagogy rather than the philosophy itself. Watching a teacher with a bunch of "celestial posturers" under his wing, talking to them in abstruse philosophical language, and nodding his head and smiling when they beam proudly their own "understanding"....and then seeing his -very few - indoor students who have taken the bai shi ceremony taught in a completely different manner, with that philosophy either dismissed or explicated in an utterly different, far more practical fashion.

I had a teacher once who had been teaching for years and had scores of students. I was with him for a while and noted that he did explain things to them, but most of them never really got any better. Another guy joined after me, and we just kept practicing and getting better and better. One day we were made this teacher's FIRST indoor students (this after decades of teaching), and the nature of our specific practice changed markedly from what everybody else got. Indeed, he referred to those people as his "customers" - he gave them what they wanted and what they paid for. We were his "students" - we got what we worked for.

THAT is the primary reason I think CMA pretty much sucks these days, same reason I think aikidoka can't fight - they never understood what their own teacher was saying, he didn't bother to teach it, and after him, no one continued sumo and the other skills training actual fighting. One just has to go "hmmm" when you read articles about the old days and all the guys in the dojo known as "fighters" had Judo, wrestling,and kendo backgrounds (at at time when kendo allowed grappling...) Same with CMA no doubt - the fighters fought in actual fights, leitai challenges, wrestled, etc.

Appending Chinese terminology to aikido, just as with the so-called internal arts, will essentially lead them down the same rabbit hole as CMA: some people will talk philosophy and think they have it; some people will at least work hard at individual exercises and power development but still never learn how to fight; and some people will "fight" only within their secluded groups, under their own rulesets, and find themselves outclassed and unable to do what they claim to do against someone not buying into their game (you told a story about that exact thing when you were up here...)

Others may look at the philosophy in a way that gives them a different way to think about the skills they are developing in martial practice, thus giving them a deeper - albeit individual - understanding, or in terms of how they conduct their lives in a positive way. Chinese medicine is based entirely on a different view of the body, some would call it quackery, and yet I have found SOME elements of traditional medicine (bonesetting, accupuncture...) to directly be beneficial in maintaining me through injuries from practice and wear and tear. I don't think it because of my qi, I think its because it affects my muscles in specific ways - ways that the old school folks may have called "qi" and talked about the five elements in referring to - some of it was quackery, just as some Western medicine is, and some drug companies claim their pills do this and that and they actually don't once all the studies are in.

   By Kit Leblanc on Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 11:58 pm: Edit Post

That Rickson Gracie dude talks a lot about philosophy too - anyone think that is not a big part of how he became who he is?

   By robert on Monday, April 23, 2012 - 02:27 am: Edit Post


I understand what youre saying. You dont feel it was a waste of time, but that so much can be lost in translation? That it may not be practical to apply these philosophies to arts that are already effective as they are? I imagine it would take a certain degree of skill to even attempt such an endeavor.

Kit, im really curious as to what "indoor" students learn. Youre pretty lucky to have experienced it.

Timber, hows it goin?

take care guys:-):-)

   By Kit Leblanc on Monday, April 23, 2012 - 12:26 pm: Edit Post

Another take on it,from the Japanese perspective but along the same lines:

   By Kit Leblanc on Monday, April 23, 2012 - 12:31 pm: Edit Post

RE: indoor students

Basically in my experience the forms ceased being emphasized and much more zhan zhuang, detailed descriptions of how to move (even when standing still), introduction of spear/staff work (NOT forms, however). That kinda thing.

Students at large were taught to continually polish the body of the car.

Indoor students learn how to build the engine...

Frankly I still had to go elsewhere to learn how to FIGHT.

   By Timber on Monday, April 23, 2012 - 12:38 pm: Edit Post

What do you study, Kit?

   By robert on Monday, April 23, 2012 - 03:32 pm: Edit Post


Thanks for the link, im gonna check it out.

Interesting perspective on "indoor" training!

It seems that most of us "internal" martial artists need to go elsewhere to learn how to FIGHT. xD

Awesome and inspiring posts, thanks:-)

   By Kit Leblanc on Monday, April 23, 2012 - 04:38 pm: Edit Post

Jiujitsu with Tim, and occasionally get back to the Judojo.

I did a number of years in CMA, though, and that was just my experience as far as indoor student went...

IME Tim's teaching brings those two together toward a practical end.

   By Tim on Monday, April 23, 2012 - 08:22 pm: Edit Post

I think it is a problem with pedagogy rather than (original) philosophy, and I think whether or not it is helpful in transmission also depends on which type of philosophical principles people choose to identify and explain their art.

I believe things start off clear enough, and then (at least often with the CMA) get convoluted in an attempt to attach "philosophies" that are popular, yet not always relevant in any specific, or particularly helpful way.

Rickson does talk about the philosophy behind his technique, things like yielding to force, maximizing the use of leverage ...

If he ever starts trying to explain an arm bar as it relates to one of the saints in Santaria, I think the "philosophy" will no longer be helpful!

   By Kit Leblanc on Monday, April 23, 2012 - 11:02 pm: Edit Post

LOL, okay that's a good point - but it still would be interesting to ask him why he thinks that....

   By robert on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - 04:32 pm: Edit Post

Tim, LOL.

"I dont practice santaria! I aint got no crystal ball!" xD

   By chris hein on Saturday, April 28, 2012 - 05:02 pm: Edit Post

Understanding a concept and applying it are very different things.

The only real problem with those who study the martial arts for philosophical reasons is that they seldom put it into application.

People who do "Aiki" arts are a great example. They talk about Aiki a lot, and argue about what exactly it is, but it's a purely intellectual pursuit. They never try to apply it.

Once you start trying to apply it, you realize people don't actually "know" as much as it might first seem; because they can seldom demonstrate what they are talking about. So they just talk more.

Working with Aikido, I feel as if I've had to completely tear the system apart, trying and experimenting for years with lot's of things, just to get to where I was able to git with BJJ in less then a year. Because in BJJ you apply what you are learning philosophically constantly. And your teachers have done the same, so when they speak, they are speaking from a place of application as well as theory/philosophy.

   By Willis on Sunday, April 29, 2012 - 08:43 am: Edit Post

... And Heinie summons forth from the void to drop a few wordz of whizdom on us all... and then vanishes. The circle will be completed if Enforcer blurts out a few run on sentences about prison and gangbangers.

   By robert on Sunday, April 29, 2012 - 04:07 pm: Edit Post

willis.. lol..

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