Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Refuting the Teacher?

I have been fascinated by the intricate working of the universe. I have been digesting as many physics documentaries as I can get my hands on. On of the fascinating quotes I pulled out from one of the films was something to the effect of, "In physics you achieve status often by refuting your teacher, what other field of study is like that?"

I propose that other field of study is budo. Maybe refuting is too strong a term, maybe breaking or changing methodology. Maybe it is just finding your own path.

Let's look at my own lineage. Takeda was a powerful artist. Eventually his great student Ueshiba learned to forge his own path. Ueshiba's student Kenji Tomiki studied under the great teacher for many years until he learned to think for himself. Mr. Geis took Tomiki's work in bold new directions, further polishing the mirror to see his own reflection. Russell Waddell and Nick Lowry learned from their teacher and forged their own path based on their preferences when the time was right. I learn from, yet challenge the work and ideas of all the great men who came before me.

Like I said in field of Budo 'refuting' might be too strong a word. The process might even be really friendly. We can morph to expose the weakness in previous methodology, or simply to find a personal prefernce in training. I do believe every student of the way has the right to become their own artist. While some believe in the feudal notion of following and copying is budo, I believe budo is something deeper. Budo is taking the art of your teacher and molding it with practice, science, artistry and insight into your own sculpture.

Budo is owned by no one person. Every person that touches it molds the result. Truth and perfection was not found by some master of old. It is found in the here and now - one practice session at a time.



  1. Hi Eric,
    I am not sure I agree with the analogy here. In the science you talk about the next generation really were refuting the ideas of the previous. They actually proved their masters wrong.
    I think that in the budo examples you give, with the possible exception of Ueshiba, it is much more about putting ones own take on the same system. I don't think you could say that Tomiki refuted the ideas of Ueshiba. Really he just changed the method by which the same ideas were taught.

  2. Pete,

    Thanks for commenting. I feel like that is what I pretty much said in the conclusion of my article.

    Anyhow I do not feel Ueshiba was an exception. Every one of these teachers has found differing methods and achieved differing results.

  3. Yes, looking back you did come to this conclusion.

    I do still feel that Ueshiba's work is qualitatively different to those that have followed him. He took what is essentially a collection of fairly serious and effective techniques for defeating an opponent, from Takeda and others, and changed the whole point of the process. From one of victory over an opponent Ueshiba moved to victory over oneself.

    What changes have subsequent teachers, such as those you mentioned, made that are as significant as this?

  4. Hey Einstein, why don't you test your "advancements" in the presence of a living master like Geis and Co and see how well your "refutations" go over?

    ...Crafty magician, you call Karl's research sour grapes because you're too little attain any of the fresh fruit of those manifold orchards!

  5. attain the heights of being a having lineage worth writing about requires a greatness of spirit, a humble receptivity, a beginners mind.

    Masters don't transit shit to shit-ass refuters. And no real student would suffer a fool long before discovering he's covering delusions/disabilities/insecurities. No that student and that teacher would walk on you Eric (or kick your ass) before you forged a link in the lineage....

    No - Eric you're not even a footnote to Geis or Tomiki, much less a link our lineage. Yes, we're all connected in the subtle sense when we serve the teacher, but you're work is at best derivative -more accurately you've regressed since you've started following other refuters.

    Ironically, it's a classic example of the blind leading the blind.... So it is. So it will be.

    Doubt it? Make an appointment to visit Karl in person in Houston (seriously, call/email ahead first, for your own safety), and experience the general relativity of your subtlety. Test your own metal and see if you have what it takes to be the next link that future posers will pretend they were beyond.

  6. Wow! I don't think I understood a word of what "Anonymous" said! Beautiful diatribe though.

    @Nick - I guess you are saying that there is always a process of copying followed by moving on in budo. I agree but I was questioning the use of the word "refute" in describing what teachers of aikido have done with what Ueshiba left us.

  7. Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't the typical scientific "refutation" nowadays refute only 2-3% of a field's accepted wisdom? I mean, are we still putting up 50-year-old pictures of Einstein because that is how often a real refutation takes place, only once every 50+ years?

    It is easy to take our agreements for granted. And WRT martial arts especially, very hard to know if our "innovative approach" is actually following in the footsteps of someone we just haven't met.

    Do you think that every generation of martial artists SHOULD be more powerful than the last? If so, is that happening now, and why or why not?

  8. Mr anonymous,

    Perhaps you did not read clearly and you jumped to incorrect conclusions. I have a deep love for my teachers and I highly honor the lineage and men I have never met. I think all my teachers and teacher's teachers are outstanding men. I could never hope to beat any of them while they live. That is why my teachers show me their secrets so I might one day grow to be a fraction of the technicians they are. By the way I called no one's research 'sour grapes'. I would never put any of these fine teachers down in any way. I have never had the honor of meeting Geis Sensei but I hear he is one of the best technicians in the world. IN fact i hear that from every person that has met him. Fear not, the honor of the great teacher has not been stained by this lowly commentator!

    Am I a footnote? No of course not. It's ok I can live with that. I can also happily live in my pseudo art of delusion. There are a lot of nice folks here in my art and that is what matters most to me. Hence that is why it is my path. I have chosen it for myself, and my own teachers have not chosen it for me.

  9. Anonymous,

    You defend your point by attacking Eric.

    Attack as defense = Aiki ????

  10. FOR anonyMOUSE,

    I have met and played with Eric over the past few years and Since I have met him we have both in the interest of progressing our personal studies taken many different paths to further our studies... Some good, some bad.
    Personally I think one of my "regressive paths" was playing with Karl. Yes he is definitely a Master Teacher. But from experience can tell you that Karl does not do when under even a small amount of pressure on the mat do what he teaches... To really learn from him you have to shut your ears off and just feel what he is actually doing... Karl is great on the mat.. His students that have only studied with him have a very predictable response pattern however.. Just as yours was here. When you are finally ready to find your own personal aiki you will discover things happen in a different light or pattern that doesn't fit into a box or link of chains if you will... You have to experience both good and bad to know the difference.
    That being said I really do appreciate my time with Karl as I learned a great deal about Aiki on a non-physical level while with his Org. You see I have signed my name and listed my personal dojo. Feel free to drop by anytime and discuss the matters of budo in person where there can be a more personal and honest flow than in this media.

  11. Wow, what a group of master-baters!
    ...still I don't feel tempted to get defensive, and justify my privacy. Nope.

    Eric, master-teachers aren't interested in blithering, butt-kissing or refutations.

    Deeply listening, all pain and error are erased....

  12. ... and we agree with Chris from Martial Development on how rare true refutation is in academia, and would go a step further to suggest that Einstein's general theory of relativity is best understood not as a refutation that light doesn't travel in a straight line, but in the realm of space-time the straightest line is geodesic. Thus, Einstein successfully predicted that light waves traveling across our solar system would dip towards our sun like marbles would sink towards a bowling ball on a mattress.

    Einstein's theory of general relativity has direct implication for walking, but to go into that would be casting pearls based on the predictable defensive reaction by bloggers, most of which is fueled by self-resentment/doubt by those who no longer can manage to blend with KEG in person, or through "personal and honest media." Not many people really want to be confronted with (albeit KEG's perspective) of the truth.

    Being a student takes too much energy. Most folks would rather get a buzz on than do the work to stand up for appropriate boundaries, even to the master-teacher. It's true, few have the courage to tell truth to power. And even fewer have the courage to humble themselves and command themselves to do as is truly required to fit in and elevate the paradigm. like now, time for me to go to work. no more blithering. me first!