Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Circular Or Linear? You Decide...

Our old buddy Pat over at Mokuren Dojo has an interesting post up titled "Pay attention; Aikido is not circular". Pat's contention is that there are no true circular (or linear) aspects in human movement. I say he is splitting hairs. That is in the context of, let's say a comparison to Shotokan Karate or Hsing-Yi, Both Aikido and Bagua are indeed composed of circular movement. Colin Wee made a good observation that perhaps a better distinction should be if the technique takes the opponent's center directly, or if it captures it and spins it off. The above video is one of my favorite Aikido demos, and I think it displays both linear and circular aspects beautifully.
Below is an example of Bagua circle-walking. The best example of circles-within -circles begins around two minutes in:

So perhaps Pat and I are BOTH splitting hairs, but I have been involved in far more linear martial arts, and they did not employ the amount of circular movement demonstrated in both videos above.
Click the link above to Pat's discussion for his views and the excellent comments that follow...


Patrick Parker said...

Thanks for the linklove, DR. I agree that you can separate arts into groups based on some construct. For instance, you can put shotokan, TKD, TSD, maybe hsingyi, etc... into one bag and in another bag you would put aiki, taiji, bagua, etc...

there are obvious similarities between arts within either of these bags and obvious differences between bags.

My contention is that 'circular vs. linear' isn't really an especially useful construct for putting arts into these two bags.

folks have tried 'internal vs. external', 'hard vs. soft', and sountless other ways to classift these things we do, and I don't really find any of them satisfactory. Colin's is probably close to the best (center-invading vs. center-avoiding) that i've seen.

anyway, I think Dave's comment on my post contains about the best advice - don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

Colin Wee said...

Forget about circularity, how about hilarity ... the music choice was absolutely magic for that Aiki video!

I use the definition of cog-displacement v cog-disruption to purely illustrate for my students what we are practicing and what we are not practicing. Certainly as a hard style school we do practice a stable of locks and throws that are used in conjunction with strikes and defenses. But if the opportunity does not present itself, we're not going to chase that lock down ... if you get my drift.

It's too dangerous for students who just don't train in locking/throwing techniques as often as I'd like. So the point needs to be made simply and often.

Thanks for the mention.

Traditional Taekwondo

Martial Development said...

The models we choose to approximate martial reality are extremely important, because they direct our attention, and attention is everything.

What is the specific benefit of classifying arts as circular or linear--that outweighs the cost of doing so?