YaskawaRobot2As part of Yasakawa Electric's 100th anniversary, the company decided to create a robot samurai named Motoman.  Motoman is a robot arm that is programmed to analyze and learn the sword movements of Isao Machii who is a famous Iaido sword practitioner in Japan.  Motoman and Machii Sensei were pitted against one another in a contest of cutting.  Machii Sensei has several incredible videos on Youtube and is a Guinness World record holder.  The results were very interesting and to some kind of scary. I personally found the experiment quite interesting but I wasn't that impressed with this samurai robot.  Motoman cut with a certain fluidity and efficiency and even the robots lack of hesitation made the martial artist in me jealous.  But, there was something that Motoman noticeably lacked.  After watching the video a few times, I realized that Motoman's sword cut lacked ki (氣).

Motoman is a machine programmed to cut and thus has no ki and no kokoro (心) or spirit or soul.  In all Japanese arts, one strives to put their ki into the pursuit and at the highest level we strive to become one with movement.  In shodo infusing one's ki into the brushwork is called bokki (墨氣).  In Aikido, when one's ki permeates the technique it is referred to as ki no nagare (氣 の流れ) or the flow of ki.  Motoman has no ki or kokoro and thus the movement has an empty quality to it.  Really look at the cut.  It is surgical and precise but one can almost feel the emptiness inside it.  Motoman is just a machine at work and cuts without discrimination.  In addition to looking at the actual cutting, look at the end result.  Watch how much Motoman disturbs what is being cut and how it is disturbed so little by Machii.  Also look at the formation at the end challenge and take note of how the Motoman's surroundings are sloppy and chaotic and how Machii's is uniform and pristine.  There is an old Japanese proverb, "Yaiba ni tsuyoki mono wa rei ni suguru" which means that the greatest warriors surpass all others in matters of etiquette and decorum.  It is not just the things one says or does, but in how they do them as well.  Motoman does not have any discrimination and thus does not understand decorum - Motoman just gets the job done.  

To be a swordsman is to study humanity.  Humanity dictates that our actions must have meaning.  In order for our actions to have meaning, they must be done with a sense of purpose, responsibility and discernment.  Motoman unfortunately is not human and thus cannot understand humanity and because of that Motoman is not a true swordsman.

The video is interesting nonetheless.