Uechi-Ryu.com

Discussion Area
It is currently Sat Nov 01, 2014 4:05 am

All times are UTC




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 14 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2000 2:04 am 
Offline
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Wed Sep 16, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 6021
Location: Mount Dora, Florida
J.D. and I were discussing this issue on the phone a couple days ago.

At what point must we stop talking/discussing sensitive subjects where common sense does not enter the equation.

Religion comes to mind as the best example.

Now lets say someone begins a martial art discussion involving "Chi". To some, Chi represents something as simple as energy. To others, it represents a lot more. People talk about it with spiritual reverence.

Anyone questioning it's presence or asks for proof must do so very carefully or an argument develops.

Is it possible to try defining commonly used martial art terms in a way that will allow us all to discuss specific and unique aspects of a style without getting into a religious-type of argument?

I'd really like to deveop a model for discussing what we do that is expressed by Chinese or Japanese terms that have absolutely no meaning in English and for which no one has ever attempted to scientifically define.

Perhaps this forum is the place to begin such a dialog.

------------------
GEM


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2000 1:28 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Sep 27, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 317
People get so hot under the collar when discussing these things because they care so much about them. The ideas and feelings they invoke are so close to the core that we feel we have to defend them so strongly.People who do not study our arts cannot understand why we get so passionate about small differences. I have observed this phenomenon in my professional life as well... psychologists and psychoanalysts get all worked up in discussions with colleagues about relatively minor theoretical differences. Ego's get injured. People gossip behind each others' backs, people have been known to boycott conferences or even to walk out in a huff over a disagreement on some fine point of dogma. Schisms develop and whole schools of thought split off from one another over issues that an outsider would hardly even notice. Again, this is because of how passionately the practitioners hold to their views... because they are so strongly identified with their art or science. I have sat in psychoanalysis conferences and smiled inwardly at the similarity to the karate-world arguments. I have sat in karate arguments and thought 'where have I seen this before?'. The commonality is the degree to which the participants hold their views as something almost sacred, not to be messed-with... the very definition of the self. (Just imagine a Uechi-ryu teacher admitting "Shohei-ryu is a better style" or "Tai Chi is a superior art" or "Your teacher is wiser than mine")... would be like admitting to extreme mediocrity, something our ego's usually prevent us from doing.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2000 2:01 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2000 6:01 am
Posts: 69
Location: Huntsville, Arkansas, USA
I've been dropping by for a few minutes each day to get a feeling for where this forum is headed -- getting my feet wet, as it were. I'm glad to see this thread started, but warn you that it's one of the hardest subject you could possibly take up.

I'll be back tomorrow with answers to the questions, and will do my best to say something useful.

Suzette


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2000 1:39 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2000 6:01 am
Posts: 69
Location: Huntsville, Arkansas, USA
The question was: "Is it possible to define commonly-used martial arts terms in a way that will allow us all to discuss specific and unique aspects of a style without getting into a religious-type argument?" Followed by the accurate observation from another respondent that these "religious-type" arguments arise in every field and discipline. It is proposed that this is because people care so much about the terms in question.

Certainly people care about the terms, and that's part of the problem (although it's not the case that people only fight about things that really matter to them). I don't think that's the best end of the string to pull in order to straighten out this knot, however. When a term is well and truly and explicitly defined, "religious-type" arguments about it almost never happen. _Arguments arise because a term is so vaguely defined that everybody feels free to assign his or her own personal meaning to it._ English is the language of "deniability," which is why it's so popular for business and diplomacy; we speakers of English get almost no training in definition of terms. When I was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago in the 1950s, we students were expected -- required, in fact -- to shout "Define your terms!" at lecturers whenever they failed to be explicit; we were penalized for failing to do so, especially if we had failed because we thought the lecturer was such an Eminence that we didn't dare question him or her. Lecturers were warned in advance that this was to be expected. (The shouting was because the lectures were in enormous auditoriums, and shouting was the only way to be heard.) We did get trained in that process, but such instruction is rare.

If you want to be able to discuss "chi" -- or any other term in martial arts -- without having the discussion degenerate into a brawl, you will have to work out an explicit definition which everyone can understand. People can then say that they do or do not agree with the definition, and everyone will know what agreement or disagreement means. Constructing such a definition is _extremely_ hard work. Not constructing it, and keeping things murky, is a classic technique for powerful individuals within a discipline to use to maintain their power, even when "power" in their case means only that they are able to yell louder than anyone else.

Suppose you wanted to construct a set of definitions that would eliminate the "religious-type" arguments in your discipline. You would start by agreeing on a set of terms to be defined -- a small set that you could agree upon as the core of the discipline. Not more than a dozen, and the fewer the better. Then you would work together to define them until you reached a point at which -- when someone said "I agree with the definition of X" or "I disagree with the definition of X" -- everyone in your group would know precisely what that meant. Those who disagreed would then be free to propose their own definition in opposition to yours, using the same process. That might mean that in the end there would be two (or more) proposed definitions, both (or all) clear to everyone. That might mean ending up with martial-arts counterparts of "Euclidean physics" and "Newtonian physics" and "quantum physics" -- but it would put an end to the "religious-type" arguments that are such a waste of everyone's resources, so that you could get on with your work in the discipline.

Suzette


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2000 7:17 pm 
Offline
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Wed Sep 16, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 6021
Location: Mount Dora, Florida
I propose we make Suzette's post required reading before a "Guppy" graduates to "member"! Image

Think of all the hurt feelings and senseless arguments we could have avoided by following Suzette's common sense protocol.


------------------
GEM


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2000 10:33 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2000 6:01 am
Posts: 383
Would this work under these guidelines? Chi will hereafter be recognized as a chinese word to symbolize flow of energy, with the implicit understanding that the concept of energy is acknowledged by Western/Eastern, analytical/abstract cultures worldwide, and also that no one person has personally figured out all there is to know about the possible permutations and configurations of energy and matter in the universe. Image

------------------
sean


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2000 5:35 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Nov 08, 1999 6:01 am
Posts: 1070
Bravo.

student


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2000 7:18 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2000 6:01 am
Posts: 32
Very interesting discussion forum. I enjoyed your post, Suzette. I took courses a few years ago in NLP and Systems Theory and found similarities to my Martial Arts training very intriguing. Perhaps even more intriguing was the Systems Theory class. The fact that System Theory, in general, considers the mind to be a process rather than a "thing" and that everything and everyone can only exist in relation to something or someone else had very eastern philosophical overtones. But in light of this discussion forum, definition can only exist in relationship to the persons involved in it's definition. Considering that it has been stated that all communication is 99% non-verbal, it's amazing we can communicate at all through text-based interactions. But I suppose that there is an inherent obstacle that this provides that cannot be completely overcome but only minimized to the extent to which we can cooperate. Just my two rubels worth. Image


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2000 1:49 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2000 6:01 am
Posts: 69
Location: Huntsville, Arkansas, USA
The following definition of "chi" was suggested by Sean C: "Chi will hereafter be recognized as a Chinese word to symbolize flow of energy, with the implicit understanding that the concept of energy is acknowledged by Western/Eastern analytical/abstract cultures worldwide, and also that no one person has personally figured out all there is to know about the possible permutations and configurations of energy and matter in the universe."

Good for you for trying to propose an actual definition. It won't do -- but that's all right. You have to start somewhere, and someone has to have the courage to go first. The first thing that makes your proposal suspect is its _length_. When it takes that many words to define something, it's very unlikely that it has been properly defined. Let's take the definition apart and look it over.

"Chi will hereafter be recognized as a Chinese word..." That's true; however, it tells us nothing about meaning.

"Chi will hereafter be recognized as a Chinese word to symbolize flow of energy..." That tells us how the word is to be used, but the definition is now in serious trouble -- because the definition itself contains at least two terms which are not defined: flow, and energy. The fact that "chi" is often used as if it were synonymous with "energy" makes the murk even thicker. Whenever a term inside a definition is itself undefined, the definition will be useless.

"...with the implicit understanding that the concept of energy is acknowledged by Western/Eastern analytical/abstract cultures worldwide, and also that no one person has personally figured out all there is to know about the possible permutations and configurations of energy and matter in the universe." None of this is part of a definition; it is a set of proposed rules for _using_ the definition. Those rules might be perfectly correct and appropriate, but until the definition exists to be examined there's no way to tell.

Again -- thank you for trying. Defining terms is difficult; it's much easier just to rant.

Suzette

=====

My thanks to Wu Wei for the posting on February 7th, the one about "definition can only exist in relationship to the persons involved" and stating that because "all communication is 99% non-verbal" we're going to have a very hard time creating consensus definitions with written text alone. First, a minor adjustment: The usual claim is that more than 90% of all _emotional_ communication is non-verbal (that is, is carried by body language, including the tone and intonation of the voice, rather than by the words spoken) and that 65% of all information communicated is non-verbal. I believe that claim to be accurate. However, it is a hypothesis. Like the existence of fairies (a topic I had not expected to encounter here) it has been neither proved nor disproved. Second: The claim is made only for English. It's important to remember that. If it holds for other languages, it's a coincidence.

Finally, I don't understand at all the part of the posting having to do with definition existing only in relationship, etc. I'd welcome an explanation, so that I could comment.

Suzette


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2000 2:27 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2000 6:01 am
Posts: 32
I got the "99% communication is non-verbal" from my instructor that taught the NLP class. It was such a high number it has stuck in my head, although I don't know if I personally agree with it. After having taken the class though, I was much more convinced.

The classes I took in Systems Theory were more interesting to me. Systems Theory is, in a sense, the opposite of Psychoanalysis (please forgive me if I'm boring you with stuff you alreay know). In Systems Theory, the only "real" things that exist are relationships. The "Mind," as traditionally understood in psychoanalytic terms, doesn't exist as a "thing" but as a process. Everything (including the Mind) exists only as it is defined by the relationship among the participants involved. For instance, in this discusssion forum, Chi may be well defined so that the participants can discuss it. Of course, the definition only exists in relation to our use of the term in this discussion forum. I've heard it defined many different ways (e.g. energy, bio-electricity, breath, etc.).

I practice both Karate and Aikido. I've found the concepts in NLP and System's Theory to be remarkably similar in theory to my martial arts practice (especially Aikido). It's been a couple years since I've taken the classes and the concepts are all fading now. Maybe I should get out my old research papers. I always wanted to articulate, in some way, the way a "confrontation" is communicated, dealt with, and either escalated or de-escalated in terms of martial arts practice utilizing research and concepts found in NLP and/or Systems Theory (positive / negative feedback loops from Systems theory and expansion / contraction from Aikido and Karate) (maybe an idea for a new discussion topic?).

This thread has a great deal of interest for me and Verbal Self Defense sounds very interesting. I enjoy your posts, Suzette. Please keep them coming.

Just to tell you a little more about me. I finished my Masters degree in Education (General Counseling) January of '99 with an emphasis in Marriage and Family counseling. I was planning on becoming a marriage and family counselor and decided to take an opportunity to change my career path to Management Information Systems. My wife is a counselor and we just had a baby and one of us is going to have make a decent income. Unfortunately, the mental health profession is not one of adequate financial compensation.

Hope I answered your question, Suzette. I apologize if I got too long-winded. This whole discussion forum thing is new to me also. I welcome any comments and feedback.



[This message has been edited by Wu Wei (edited February 14, 2000).]


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2000 7:28 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2000 6:01 am
Posts: 1
Location: Dallas TX USA
Ah ha

Another interesting thread. I am really starting to enjoy this board.
Just a pity it interferes with my work...

This notion of relative meaning -- I have seen it in the deconstructionist arguments, and my wife (who has studied this to MA level -- unlike me) has described its prescence in Buddhist thought also.

As she describes it (and here I must apologise to her in absentia for any misrepresentation), the deconstructionist idea is essentially that of the construction (or perhaps highlighting) of binary opposites, and the assigning of implied value to either of those poles. Buddhism (in particular Nagarjuna) treats this question of meaning with a similar notion of texts, but describes a continuum of interaction, rather than a binary opposition.

We had huge arguments about deconstructionism, and eventually it seems that the corpus of knowledge refers not to an absolute, but to the political power vested in interpretation. That seems relevant to me in context of this board.

Something else that might be interesting -- I remember reading that at some point, one of the better mathematicians, perhaps Gauss, perhaps ... I don't know, I'm pretty sure he was German, conceived of the idea a complete, unambiguous language. Sort of an Esperanto of reality. Nothing really came of it, perhaps because of the size of the project, although the idea is directly still under attack at some Italian university, and it did lead Boole to Boolean algebra -- a much more limited domain.

As Suzette pointed out in the discussion on the definition of chi, it is not sufficient to define one entity in terms of others which are themselves incompletely defined. We then see ourselves burrowing deeper and deeper into the substrate, in an attempt to reach some acceptable common point.

But people -- this is what philosophers have been trying for many, many years, and they still don't have coherent and defensible answers. As an example, Descartes claimed the point was 'Cogito ergo sum' -- 'I think therefore I am'. But my wife marshalls a dissenting opinion (Nagarjuna), and states that the act of recognizing thought does not imply a self -- it simply implies the existence of something capable of recognizing thought. Thus 'Something thinks'.

When we have to start from this low down, and build in the flexibility needed to encompass so many dimensions of dissonant experience, can we really believe in an absolute accord? I think not. It may be possible to derive, as Suzette says, definitions relative to a particular frame of reference, but this simply shuffles the disagreement to a central location -- i.e believer's chi versus skeptic's chi roots the difference in believer's framework versus skeptic's framework. Thus leaving as much misunderstood as before.

SK.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2000 4:23 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2000 6:01 am
Posts: 69
Location: Huntsville, Arkansas, USA
I understand the recent postings and I thank you for the explanations; everything is now clear. I appreciate the comment about the struggles of philosophers, which is particularly relevant. One of the things applied linguists (I am one of those) try to do is develop practical tools with which to tackle the problems that philosophers (and theoretical linguists) handle in a manner that is often useful but is not practical. An analysis that is available only to individuals who are willing to struggle through a nine-hundred-page book written with complete disregard for the reader is not practical. (It is far more difficult to write one page that can be understood by any literate adult than to write nine hundred pages accessible only to a determined specialist. As you martial artists know, moves that are flashy are usually much easier to master than moves that are simple.)

I would like to suggest abandoning philosophy for the moment and doing something quite basic. There are four techniques that I teach for constructing definitions. Often the most productive ways to proceed is to try all of them, moving from one to another at will. I'll describe them very briefly here and leave it to you; if I'm not clear, please ask for an explanation.

1. Use semantic features.

Theoretical linguists today consider semantic features quaint; that makes semantic features no less useful in the real world. Suppose that you're discussing the realm of living creatures and you want to define "bird." You could say that birds are [+TWO-LEGGED] and [+EGG-LAYING] and [+NEST-BUILDING]; you would then discover that although those semantic features apply to birds accurately they do not exclude non-birds. With a bit of work you would discover that among living creatures the only feature you need to define a bird and exclude non-birds is the feature [+FEATHERED]. That's obvious, but it takes a bit of work to get to it.

2. Use reality statements.

A reality statement is a fact about reality that is agreed upon within a culture and represents a consensus; it may or may not be "provable." Example: "Birds have feathers." Sometimes a language has no word that can be used for a particular semantic feature; we call that a "lexical gap." In that case, you may have to use a reality statement. It's usually helpful in definition construction to try to convert your reality statements to semantic features and your semantic features to reality statements; that exposes weaknesses, brings gaps to light, and helps the brain access the necessary information in longterm memory.

3. Find a metaphor.

Often a metaphor is the best definition, especially when the language resists you fiercely. Metaphors are the most powerful linguistic mechanism available to us. You can lecture all day about how a business should be run, but with a single sentence that accesses a metaphor you can accomplish far more than the lecture would. For example: "It's time to stop driving this business and start _sailing_ it." That links to the metaphor THIS BUSINESS IS A SAILBOAT as opposed to THIS BUSINESS IS A CAR. [I apologize for the capital letters, which bring flaming to mind; it's customary to write metaphors in all caps to make clear that they are being presented as a formal object.]
One way of finding a metaphor is to set up a list of semantic features and/or reality statements and then solve for X -- that is, answer the question, "What is it that meets these specifications?" It's not easy.

4. Use a mindmap.

There are various versions of mindmaps, from various theorists. They are particularly helpful when the other methods don't seem to be working. I teach mindmapping like this. (a) Write the term you're trying to define -- "chi" -- in the middle of a big sheet of paper; draw a box around it. (b) Around the box, draw seven circles. In each one, as quickly as you can -- and without struggling -- write a word or phrase that "chi" brings to your mind. If you can't fill all the circles without struggling, just move on; you can go back at any time when something new occurs to you. (c) Around each of the circled words, draw seven more circles. Proceed as you did in (b), filling the circles with words or phrases that come quickly to your mind. (d) Stop and look at your mindmap. Where you can see connections between or among items, draw lines linking them. (e) If you can now construct a definition, stop; otherwise, go on to yet another level. (f) Repeat until you've succeeded or it's clear that success is impossible; don't give up too quickly.

There's nothing sacred about squares or circles; any system you use that keeps the various levels of your analysis clearly separate is fine. I recommend using a different color ink for each level and drawing the connecting lines with yet another different color. And I recommend leaving plenty of space. I've seen people working -- very productively -- on mindmaps that stretched over the entire floor of a conference room, either individually or as teams. Any number of levels you need is fine; the point is to reach your goal of constructing a definition. Looking at someone else's mindmap for the same term is almost always helpful. It's important not to struggle as you do this. It's like learning to fall properly in a physical martial art; the harder you "work" to fall properly, the less you're likely to succeed. To do mindmapping you have to let your "right brain" take over; you have to get out of its way. [Note: Any time I talk about "left brain" and "right brain" I am speaking metaphorically. Most of what you read/hear about left brains and right brains is either false or distorted; it's best to take it as metaphor.]


How about trying one or more of these strategies with "chi" as your target term?

Suzette

PS: On my way out the door, I should mention that these techniques are extremely useful for resolving disputes of every kind. When you and someone you respect disagree, defining your terms -- like "lazy," or "fair share of the housework," or "too much debt" -- is the first step toward resolution.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2000 11:37 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2000 6:01 am
Posts: 1
Location: Dallas, Texas
One technique I have used for dealing with concepts that have many, many meanings, is to:

1) deal with subsets of the concept
2) give each of them a different name.

So, instead of arguing about "souls" one might discuss anima, numus, etc.

With chi, there are a number of sub-meanings, each of which can be discussed separately without having to get into an argument about "you have the wrong definition for chi" or without having to accept the presuppositions most definitions bring with them.

I am reminded of Tai Fan Chen's comment about Chi (before he pretty much left the martial arts to sell herbs). He felt it was interesting, but irrelevant to most training. (Note, in this context, calling "chi" by the name "chi" is appropriate even if we are discussing "energy" [??still not defined enough] or biomagnetic/bioelectric fields or similar things because I am side tracking from "what is it" to "is it relevant for most people").

Definitional modes are especially important in areas where most definitions are developed from a combination of oral tradition (my instructor said), myths (other students said) and personal experience (I felt) and thus are in many ways personal gnostic moments.

Chi is one of those areas, since most definitions are created from a combination of experiences and traditions.

In comparison, consider discussions of "auras" -- and the question of "well, what kind of texture did that aura have?" interjected into a conversation about colors of auras (subsuming the question of whether or not auras exist, whether or not they are related to "chi" and other definitions, etc.).

And realize that this discussion is different than just changing the word choice (i.e. saying Nishiyama has great personal force, instead of saying "Nishiyama's chi was so great I could feel it across the room when he knocked Brad Webb down from a distance" -- using the term force instead of chi doesn't add much or change the ambiguity).



------------------
Regards,

Stephen
http://adrr.com/bengoshi
http://adrr.com/living/
http://adrr.com/lingua/


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2000 8:13 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2000 6:01 am
Posts: 32
Scatha,

The theory behind the deconstructionist binary opposites sounds very similar to the yin / yang concepts in Taoism. I haven't read much on Buddhism and even less on deconstructionism, but I am familiar with Taoism. Perhaps the idea of opposites is the only way meaning can come about. Only by substanting a relational context with opposing / complementary definitions, can there be meaning. I'm afraid I'm beginning to write the 900 page book Suzette was discussing. But this all relates to the practice of Martial Arts. Uechi Ryu came from a system called Painganoon meaning Half hard Half soft (if my recollection is correct). Goju is similar in meaning. Aikido has ura and omote. It's a context in which meaning is derived from the relationship among the participants / opponents. The interesting facet about Martial Arts is that you see the results immediately. Something either works or it doesn't (certainly with various degrees). A technique will either assist in diffusing an attack or aid in escalating it (which may not necessarily be a bad thing as long as control is maintained). The idea of escalating being useful is called a positive feedback loop in Systems Theory. Suzette - Is this type of concept addressed in Verbal Self Defense? Systems theory talks about how Change comes about (Watzlewick wrote an excellent book on this). Diffusing an attack is one way of changing it. The other relational direction to creating change would be moving in the opposite direction, escalating it, or moving with the attack (as explicitly applied in Aikido). This is also seen in the Martial Arts. Taking the opponent's balance is a way of escalating his opposing force to it's apex or threshhold. Only then can you direct it and decide which direction to go in (positive or esclating / negative or diffusing). Diffusing is a direct way of moving against a hard attack from the start. Utilizing "soft" against "hard." If an individual yells at you, you can either approach with a "hard" (ie: yell back) or soft (respond in a soft tone) response. Although the "soft" response will generate change, the "hard" response can also generate change. Applications of this technique in counseling involve the use of paradoxical injunctions and double bind positioning. By putting an individual in a double bind, you meet "hard" against "hard" but, all the while, keep control over the avenues out of the situation. The idea that, yes you can move toward me violently, but I will decide where the violence will lead and direct it the way I see fit.

This is page 1 of the 900 page booklet. Maybe this is getting out on a limb or should be included in another thread. Oh well, a few more ruples worth, nonetheless.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 14 posts ] 

All times are UTC


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group