The Art of Winning Blog

Friday, August 26, 2011

Translations, Teachings, and Amazements


I recently travelled to Vancouver, BC for some teachings with HH the Sakya Trizin. Over the next few weeks, I will post some of my thoughts and musings from the trainings. It’s amazing to me how a teaching can elicit thoughts on such a multitude of levels, from marketing to the construction of the human psyche (and the realization that these are perhaps the same). I hope you enjoy these posts and, as always, I’d love your comments.

One of the major disorienting factors of the trip was the foreign nature of it, from geographic location and unusual weather patterns (it was 95F in Vancouver) to the mix of languages (English, Tibetan, Sanskrit, and a smattering of Japanese). This mix of languages had me thinking about the nature of translation. I came up with three types of translations: Literal, Cultural, and Energetic.

Examples

Literal

Sensei Ni Rei: “teacher to bow”. This is a very technical response that preserves the original grammar and structure. I think of this as the ‘above reproach’ approach where it is so technically accurate it cannot be argued with, but loses some of the meaning in its accuracy.

Cultural

Sensei Ni Rei: “please bow to the teacher”. This is a very managed approach that strives to keep as much of the original words but redefines in them for the grammar and constructs of the native audience. I think of this as the ‘middle management’ approach where the translator works to keep everyone happy and satisfied.

Energetic

Sensei Ni Rei: “can I have your attention please?” This is a more free-wheeling approach that strives to capture the intent, not just the meaning. In the dojo, we say Sensei Ni Rei to lead off a class, to alert people that important information is coming, and to encourage focused attention.

How these translations relate to To-Shin Do®

As I contemplated these translation methods, I realized they also apply to teachers. From our first grade math teacher taking a literal approach to addition to our seventh grade history teacher who wants us to take a broader look at the world to our freshman composition teacher who wants us to break-through all barriers, we’ve encountered teachers who capture these personifications. So of course, I thought of my teacher, An-Shu Stephen K. Hayes and I had a profound realization (it’s lucky that you can’t really fall off a cushion). An-Shu is a master of all three of these categories and it’s part of what makes him an amazing teacher. From the different gi/belt he wears in videos depending on what kind of point he is making (literal) to his development of a western teaching method for these ancient teachings (cultural) to his modern adaptations of the classical kata to modern self-defense (energetic), his depth of understanding has created a truly unique and complete martial art practice.

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