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#178781 - 08/18/05 08:23 AM Re: "Identity Crisis" [Re: glad2bhere]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA are over my head now. I have very little time in studying MA. I think this thread is tapped out at this point.

#178782 - 08/18/05 09:05 AM Re: "Identity Crisis" [Re: harlan]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
I think the points that Bruce raises are interesting ones, but as harlan has pointed out, it is way too intellectual for this board - generally. But that's not to say that the standard shouldn't be raised, or lowered to accommodate the wishes of the majority or minority.

I, for one, enjoyed the intellectual exercise that this thread provoked.

I think the broader one's experience is, the broader the perspective that one can avail themselves of. In terms of communication, it enables the individual to establish a common semantic language, paradigm and/or framework.

Communicating movement OTOH is a very different kettle of fish. I do not know the answer. Communicating by the "feeling" of 1-to-1 teaching is one way (the way I was shown by many of my teachers), but it too has its shortcomings.

The implication of Bruce's question for me, is how does one convey meaning in teaching. The questions he raises are the same ones I wrestle with in attempting to explain movement to my students.

Am I just rambling or am I making any sense?

Maybe this should be taken to the learning and teaching forum?

#178783 - 08/18/05 09:18 AM the failure of language [Re: eyrie]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
Makes sense to me. Videotaping something, and mailing it to someone is no different than saying 'watch me'. It fails to communicate with words a physical activity. No famous person ever said 'I learned how to run, jump, dance, play the piano...etc. from a book.' You can look at a diagram and step through a kata...but can you learn about 'koshi', or Millstone technique, undulation...the whole 'gears' thing without a teacher? The first time I ever saw 'that'...I had no concepts or words to ask about it. I had never seen a person 'move' that way. Even a teacher needs to be able to explain movement to a student.

"Just do as I do, figure it out on your own, and we'll call it something esoteric like 'Fudoshin in Heaven'."

#178784 - 08/18/05 10:14 AM Re: "Identity Crisis" [Re: eyrie]
glad2bhere Offline

Registered: 08/11/00
Posts: 663
Loc: Lindenhurst, Illinois USA
Dear Eyrie et al:

I have to agree that the demands of such a conversation may be above the interest level of most folks here. My hope is that maybe people may get to thinking about looking at the material they are studying through eyes other than those of the art with which they are familiar. Currently I am having some fun with a Chinese form called WU SONG BREAKS MANACLES. On my Hapkido level I have uncovered some intersting things that are not mentioned in the Chinese material on that form. Bumping the ssame form against what I know about Indian traditions has produced yet a couple of other very interesting insights. And yet aginst, thinking about the form from a purely historical viewpoint there are a number of things that are immediately called into question. When people are trained to be "hammers" I think they see everything as a "nail". I'd really like to see some of that thinking change. Thoughts?

Best Wishes,


#178785 - 08/18/05 10:25 AM Re: "Identity Crisis" [Re: glad2bhere]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
I wholeheartedly agree - on all counts.
Changing the way we think, changing the perspective, changing the communication paradigm, changing the way we speak, changing the way we view and approach a situation.

Changing the word "changing" to "elevating"....

It still doesn't address the issue (at least for me) how to communicate movement other than to "watch me do, feel me do".

BTW, I think this is how dance and music is taught...still.

The best we can do (at the moment) is say "do it like this, this is what is looks and feels like" or "it should look like this or feel like this" and hope the other person finds it for themselves. ("This" being whatever appropriate contextual framework the other person is familiar with and understands).

How do we change (elevate) this to another level? I think this is more a teaching and communication issue than a "kata" issue, although I do understand what you are saying.

So in terms of comparing one form to another, and allowing for cultural bias, I think it would be hard to escape from the existing paradigm of ... "this is what it looks like, what I feel is this, what do you see/feel/think".

It's late and the only place I'm stepping out of my box is into bed...

Edited by eyrie (08/18/05 10:40 AM)

#178786 - 08/18/05 12:43 PM Re: "Identity Crisis" [Re: eyrie]
glad2bhere Offline

Registered: 08/11/00
Posts: 663
Loc: Lindenhurst, Illinois USA
"....It still doesn't address the issue (at least for me) how to communicate movement other than to "watch me do, feel me do"....."

Yes... absolutely. When teaching my students, the easy part is the gross motor skills which are pretty much "monkey see; monkey do". As I begin to shape in the finer and finer motor skills the work begins to be more like "here feel do that to me". I honestly believe that when one is teaching a traditional MA this is the only way a person can learn authentically. It requires time, and requires that the teacher be hands-on and willing to take falls (ukemi?) for one's students time and again until the result feels correct. Most teachers I am familiar with teach by directing two partners from outside of the two-some.

The reason that I did not raise this discussion in the teaching area is that I think we are challenged on the Internet to confront the limitations of language in communicating about what we do. True enough, there are a growing number of sites where people have posted clips of techniques in order to be able to identify what they are talking about. But these clips fall short of identifying what one feels, what impressions a technique produces or in grounding more esoteric discussion in practical terms people can identify with. I notice a number of us have been using the "empty jacket" term and I sense this is because it somehow captures what is being discussed in a way that transcends individual arts or techniques. In the best of all possible worlds I would like to see some real hard work done to produce more of this kind of language. Thoughts? Comments?

Best Wishes,


#178787 - 08/18/05 12:49 PM falling teachers [Re: glad2bhere]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
Oh, yes...I agree with the teacher taking a fall! Of course, I know the point is that I am supposed to 'feel' the mechanics, but I get wrapped up in the evil joy of seeing him rolling on the floor!

#178788 - 08/18/05 02:14 PM Re: "Identity Crisis" [Re: glad2bhere]
Kintama Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 2724
Loc: Massachusetts
I can guess how all of this about communicating form has come up...I suppose it would be difficult learning a form from a Chinese 'robin-hood' novel (ref: "Outlaws of the Marsh") ...but I imagine it is fun, and thats the important thing.

#178789 - 08/18/05 04:34 PM Re: A call for civility [Re: harlan]
BuDoc Offline
The doctor will see you now

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 1067
Loc: USA and Abroad
Uh, um, what does cerebral mean?

Medical Advisor for the Somolian National Sumo Team

#178790 - 08/18/05 04:42 PM Re: "Identity Crisis" [Re: glad2bhere]
MonkeyLegs Offline

Registered: 07/19/05
Posts: 27
Loc: Ontario, Canada

...if I am studying an Okinawan Kata and I use a Southern Chinese Boxing posture to describe the method under study don't I pre-dispose the conversation towards Southern Chinese applications?...

I think you might find yourself falling into that no matter what you tryed to explain it with because if the recipient has experience with that posture they will fall back to what they already know.
Using a chinese or japanese term to explain a posture or movment is just an auditory way to convey what your thinking.
I agree that there is a multitude of applications for a posture, and because one culture or art has it dosnt mean another dose not. I feel having a multi-functional posture from a form or kata is of great advantage.


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