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Martial Art Falsifiability

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    Martial Art Falsifiability

    Hopefully I'm posting this in the right forum.

    I recently came across an Aikido forum post that put into words what I've been thinking about off and on since I left the Bujinkan. I've included a link to the thread and an excerpt from the post below, followed by a comment connecting it to my experiences with Bujinkan practitioners.

    It is a generally held principal of logic and philosophy that if a statement is not falsifiable it has little epistimilogical value. Which is what's happening here.

    Your claim seems to be based on two premises
    1. you cannot make statements about what Aikido can or cannot do until you fully understand Aikido
    2. no one fully understands Aikido.
    None can make claims about what Aikido cannot do.

    My contention is that your thesis is not falsifiable. In other words the end result is exactly the same as the counter claim - that there are things that aikido cannot do.
    When my baloney detector was finally activitated during my time as a Bujinkan member I got in quite a few arguments with high ranking Bujinkan practitioners. Each discussion would take on the form described above, meaning that the practitioner would present an argument about the Bujinkan that was not falsifiable. These informal arguments would arise from questions or criticisms about Bujinkan training methods.

    Have you experienced similar kinds of arguments in your explorations?

    All the time. Pointing out the falsifiability factor is awesome for saving MA nerds who have a basic grasp of logic&epistemology but somehow have avoided confronting the hole in their behavior.

    Good post.


      I think that's part of the essence of Aikido (atleast, that's been my experience). You're only told as much as is required to get you to advance a little. However, reinventing what everyone else has done is a part of Aikido as I understand it.

      That may be another point of disagreement. I've mentioned my belief on several occasions that the instructors who explain things to you are the instructors who stifle understanding.
      I just found this on the first page of that thread, I couldn't read anymore. All I got out of that is that Aikido has all the answers but you have to find them on your own.


        I used to do bujinkan and we had these arguments after almost every session.


          "Hello. I'd like to have an argument."


            No, jkdbuck, you wait for them to start talking about how MMA is weak and their chun is the deadly, then you say "Hey, you took philo 210 right? remember...." this keeps the tone of the talk out of argument and into rational discussion. Pavlovian conditioning from philosophy courses. verbal aikido ftw! Of course, this only works on those who've taken philosophy.


              Originally posted by Blue Negation
              Pavlovian conditioning from philosophy courses. verbal aikido ftw! Of course, this only works on those who've taken philosophy.
              No, verbal Aikido would be:

              Bullshidoka: "Hey, I think MMA sucks."
              Verbal Aikido Guy: "Really. Is your argument that [insert strawman here, offering verbal wrist to grab]"
              Bullshidoka: "No, that's not my argument."
              Verbal Aikido Guy: [stunned silence, wishes he'd trained debate-fu alive].

              What you're describing is more like verbal judo.


                1. You can not make arguments about Fred Ettish's fighting style can or can not do if you do not fully understand it.
                2. No one can fully understand Fred Ettish's fighting style.
                Therefore, no one can say what Fred Ettish's fighting style cannot do.


                  If this thread was started before UFC1 Fred Ettish might still be alive... wait..
                  More human than human is our motto.


                    First off -- falsification is a scientific, not a philosophical, principle.

                    Second, it is used by Popper as a criterion for distinguishing science from pseudoscience. If a claim cannot be falsified, it is pseudoscientific because there is no evidence which would cause one to reject that claim.

                    Third, really, all evidence underdetermines theories... there is never a "sufficient" quantum of evidence to compel acceptance of a theory, because it doesn't conclusively establish it, and no theory ever need be rejected upon the simple finding of contrary evidence, as long as fundamental assumptions within the theory can be changed.

                    Now, as to the claim that no one can make claims about what "aikido" can or cannot do unless they comprehend the whole of aikido is just a false claim. It's easily shown thus once you clarify just what the fuck you mean. When someone says this, they mean, "I can make general statements about what aikido practitioners are physically capable of based on empirical evidence." Aikido, itself, isn't a thing. It doesn't "do" anything. It's just a set of teachings. The general training methods of aikido make it horribly, badly suited toward training one to competently defend onesself in a violent confrontation.

                    This doesn't mean anything about the teachings of aikido itself, because, all empirical evidence outstanding, we can always modify a pre-theoretical statement. We might say, "it's not the techniques of aikido but the training methods that cause it to suck ass."

                    Luckily, science works in the following fashion: all of the evidence available points to the theory that bad training methods produce incompetent fighters. That's the most likely explanation why most aikidoka are wussies. It may not be true, but that's just fine with me. It's what the evidence supports.

                    This has been your daily philosophical education. Go read "Logik Der Forschung," in the original German. If you do anything less, you're a pussy.


                      Just respond "Your art sucks."

                      When they try to argue, say "In comparison to nuclear weapons, your art is ineffective. Ineffectiveness equals suckage. Therefore your art sucks big donkey dicks."

                      Falsifiable? I think not.



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