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Dom_Shodan
06-26-2006, 08:48 PM
Hi all, my personal belief is that as an Aikidoka, you must look at all aspects of Aikido. The Spiritual, and the Physical. An understanding of the spiritual and philosophical Aikido, is just as important as learning the physical technique. I say this because I see many students and Dojo's with an emphasis on technique using force and speed, almost forgetting about form and the spirit behind the technique. Does anyone else believe this to be true?

shadowedge
06-27-2006, 01:07 AM
I agree....

I was such a "hot head" when I started trainning years ago... I was pretty arrogant and felt like no one could mess with me... But as I was moving up in Kyu, my sensei gave me a gift, a book on O-Sensei's teachings...

I indulged in a lot of the principles that O Sensei taught...
(though I must admit, I have yet to internalize everything, I have a whole life time of studying, and learning to continue on with)

With this in mind, understanding the "Aiki" and the principles behind our art, (and history for that matter) is just as important as the physical techniques we learn....

Mark Freeman
06-27-2006, 04:23 AM
With this in mind, understanding the "Aiki" and the principles behind our art, (and history for that matter) is just as important as the physical techniques we learn....

IMO the physical thechniques are a path to understanding the principles of aiki. Aikido is not solely a phyisical pursuit, it is a practice for mind, body and spirit. We use the body to train the mind, and through the mastery of both we find the spirit of aiki.

regards,

Mark

villrg0a
06-27-2006, 04:25 AM
IMHO, I think this order would be more appropriate.

Form + Balance + Focus + Breath + Spirit
___________________________________ = Technique
and E n e r g y

Kevin Leavitt
06-27-2006, 09:13 AM
Yes, if you are doing aikido I think you need to consider all aspects, especially the philosophical and the spiritual aspects. Otherwise you are simply doing another form of stylistic Jiujitsu.

hapkidoike
06-28-2006, 07:32 AM
I don't buy into it. I do aikido (and hapkido) because I dig the science of brutality. Not that I necessarily wan to be brutal with people, it is just fun to train. Anyway I did enough philosophy in college, got my undergrad degree in it. I don't think I am missing anything by not looking "at all aspects of Aikido". Some folks do aikido merely for the "philosophical" reasons. I don't sweat that, as long as they don't sweat me about it, but i do get pissed when people start pushing philosophy down my throat at the dojo, which happened a fair deal in the states. Now that I'm living in Korea, and given that my Korean is so atrocious, I can't understand what the hell they are talking about, which is fine with me. I will stick to reading Nietzsche, Marx, Rousseau, Locke, etc. (and a lot of what Ueshiba was talking about is just war theory).

jonreading
06-28-2006, 11:36 AM
Spirit and philosophy are tools to understanding the inticate design behind aikido technique. They are very important to excelling at aikido. I usually use an analogy to explain this relationship:

When does an art student become an artist? An art student is capable of replicating art with talent, an artist is capable of creating art.

At some point in training, you will know all of the techniques on your testing requirements; your geometric and mechanical instruction will peak. Your spiritual and philosophical training will help you understand and accept this fact and expand your knowledge of aikido beyond physical technique.

Kevin Leavitt
06-28-2006, 01:52 PM
I don't buy into it. I do aikido (and hapkido) because I dig the science of brutality. Not that I necessarily wan to be brutal with people, it is just fun to train. Anyway I did enough philosophy in college, got my undergrad degree in it. I don't think I am missing anything by not looking "at all aspects of Aikido". Some folks do aikido merely for the "philosophical" reasons. I don't sweat that, as long as they don't sweat me about it, but i do get pissed when people start pushing philosophy down my throat at the dojo, which happened a fair deal in the states. Now that I'm living in Korea, and given that my Korean is so atrocious, I can't understand what the hell they are talking about, which is fine with me. I will stick to reading Nietzsche, Marx, Rousseau, Locke, etc. (and a lot of what Ueshiba was talking about is just war theory).

I draw a parallel to the philosophy of aikido to that of physics of gravity. It doesn't require you believe in it, recognize it, accept it, or discuss it...it will still be there and it affect you.

The fact remains that there is a certain structure and methodology that surrounds aikido that makes it unique and identifiable as aikido. it is not the techniques as they are universal in all forms of jiujitsu. The structure is based on the philosophy and spiritual beliefs/practices of the founder. So it is implicit within the art and you are affected by it if you want to acknowledge it or not.

As Jon states, I think you are limiting your ability to understand aikido and grow if you don't go down that road, but it is not an imperitive, nor is it required to progress.

I am not sure I understand those that do it purely for the philosophical reasons. I have never met anyone that has isolated that as a reason. You can read about it on the internet all day long if it is simply a mental exercise for you. A huge commitment of time and energy if this is someones only pursuit.

That said, I don't really see any other reason to pursue aikido if you are not into it for the spiritual/philosophical reason. I would see it as a waste of time, it is not the most effective way to learn to fight, it is not the most effective way to build fitness. It is only fun so long before it grows old from "tumbling and rolling". So why do it? because it "feels good". You can get that same feeling from some drugs at a much less personal investment of time, energy, and money!

You'd have to elaborate of your "Ueshiba is just simply war theory" I don't follow. To me at first glance it seems like an over simplification. It's like saying Nietzche was simply about nilhilism, or Rosseau was simply about "people are good"!....which I think is actually more accurate than O'Sensei simply regurgitated "war theory".

O'sensei as a philosopher actually went further I believe than many philosopher have...he did not simply write and lecture about the topic. He lived his life according to his beliefs, and he developed a method upon which others could implement his philosophy in their lives.

Big difference between him and many other philosophers if you ask me.

ChrisMoses
06-28-2006, 01:53 PM
Spirit and philosophy are tools to understanding the inticate design behind aikido technique. They are very important to excelling at aikido.

Your spiritual and philosophical training will help you understand and accept this fact and expand your knowledge of aikido beyond physical technique.

Care to lay out what those philosophical lessons are and how they relate to your aikido? Then if you would be so kind to point me towards I could read where OSensei laid these philosophical principles out that would be great too. (Yes I'm being a bit facetious here, but I'm asking a real question too.)

Kevin Leavitt
06-28-2006, 11:08 PM
Christian,

there are many books out there that have either been written by Ueshiba, translated by stevens, Ueshiba K., Saotome sensei, and others.....

How much more documentation concerning the philosophical lessons do you need.

Implemented and discovering the lessons in individual and personal in nature, and implicitly tied to aikido....it is not about the preaching but about the doing and the knowledge (or better term, self discovery), gained through daily practice.

Not sure that it is scientifically quantifiable or measureable in anyway.

Go to google or amazon and do a search on books on aikido, tons of them out there.

Ron Tisdale
06-29-2006, 07:42 AM
I think Christian's point is that even with the information available, scholars and deshi both still have disagreements about what Ueshiba Sensei meant aikido to be for others. Some tend to take a world religeon view, some shinto, some zen, some the physical practice (eshewing any spiritual connotations or connections). It's a real mixed bag.

So to make a blanket statement (as Jon did) can be very problematic. Unless you want everyone to take what you say on faith.

Best,
Ron

ChrisMoses
06-29-2006, 09:07 AM
Christian,

there are many books out there that have either been written by Ueshiba, translated by stevens, Ueshiba K., Saotome sensei, and others.....

How much more documentation concerning the philosophical lessons do you need.

Implemented and discovering the lessons in individual and personal in nature, and implicitly tied to aikido....it is not about the preaching but about the doing and the knowledge (or better term, self discovery), gained through daily practice.

Not sure that it is scientifically quantifiable or measureable in anyway.

Go to google or amazon and do a search on books on aikido, tons of them out there.


I own and have read most of them, often two or more times. Have you read the compilation of interviews called "Aikido Masters"? I'm struck with how many 3rd, 4th, 5th... generation students of Aikido can succinctly sum up the "Philosophy of Aikido" when hardly any of the uchideshi said they could understand what he was even talking about most of the time. The one student who probably had the best opportunity to really understand what he was saying and doing (Inoue Sensei, Ueshiba Sensei's nephew) left to found his own art (shin ei tai do). Just look at the doka. How many people can even reach agreement about what they mean? Surely those who have been immersed in the philosophy of aikido for decades should understand what he was trying to say right? And what about Ellis Amdur's "Aikido is Three Peaches" article which lays out the thesis that ukemi and not waza is the 'sacrament' of Aikido? How then does that relate to the often quoted "I cannot perform a lie before the Emperor" which is taken to mean that in the pure form of aikido, the attacker is completely destroyed? Going to factor in all of the pro Imperial language used pre-war, or the golden-bridge post-war comments? Maybe, like some, you tend to gloss over his pre-war writings since he 'perfected his art' in Iwama in the early 50's... But wait, most of us trace our teachers back to either pre-war uchideshi or 'uchideshi' who had fairly limited exposure directly to OSensei (since he was all but retired in the post-war period), but were actually students of pre-war shihan (Doshu and Tohei to name but two).

See what I'm getting at here?

It's my belief that if there are lessons to be had in Aikido, that they exist within the correctly exectued waza and that too much talk about the philosophy artificially colors that waza and leads to the further deterioration of the art.

dps
06-29-2006, 09:43 AM
It's my belief that if there are lessons to be had in Aikido, that they exist within the correctly exectued waza and that too much talk about the philosophy artificially colors that waza and leads to the further deterioration of the art.
" all the theory in the world is NOTHING like the Real Thing."
C. M. Shifflett

The answers are on the mat.

Ron Tisdale
06-29-2006, 10:15 AM
Good points Chris.

Best,
Ron

Kevin Leavitt
06-29-2006, 10:16 AM
all good points Ron and Christian...I see where you are coming from. I don't think there is any one right answer or absolute. It is all about the journey to self understanding or enlightment however you define that (happiness???).

I think David Skaggs sums it up well. All the answers are on the mat. Either the dojo or the "mat of life". How broad is that!!!! wow. :)

Christian wrote:

It's my belief that if there are lessons to be had in Aikido, that they exist within the correctly exectued waza and that too much talk about the philosophy artificially colors that waza and leads to the further deterioration of the art.

Yes I agree with that 100%.

That said, I think that is a far cry from saying philosophy or spirituality is not important. I believe it is implicit, but you don't need to talk about it ad nausem for sure to practice aikido and learn the lessons, but at some level we do need to discuss and share our perspectives and experiences....this is why I think aikiweb is so important.

Good discussion!

Lyle Bogin
06-29-2006, 10:40 AM
I recall one of my teachers emailing me years ago...."we mostly practice techniques, you are free to explore the meaning of the universe on your own time."

ksy
07-03-2006, 02:39 AM
I recall one of my teachers emailing me years ago...."we mostly practice techniques, you are free to explore the meaning of the universe on your own time."

what happens when the meaning of the universe only floats by in front of you when you practise your techniques ?

dps
07-03-2006, 06:01 AM
what happens when the meaning of the universe only floats by in front of you when you practice your techniques ?
That would be a distraction from practicing your technique. Ignore it. :)

Mark Freeman
07-03-2006, 07:01 AM
what happens when the meaning of the universe only floats by in front of you when you practise your techniques ?

count yourself lucky, and remember it ;)

Peter Goldsbury
07-03-2006, 08:08 AM
I count myself fortunate that I never encountered aikido 'philosophy' until I came to Japan, after ten years of training with people like Chiba Sensei (who never mentioned philosophy at all, on the mat). We talked often enough off the mat, but the discussion and the training never came into conflict, which is as it should be. Thus, I think I had a good foundation for placing the philosophy in its proper context. When I did encounter aikido philosophy, the encounter was from the Japanese side, via the writings of the Founder and discussions with his close students.

I can't help feeling that discussions on aikido 'philosophy' have flourished as a result of the Internet. As a result, we have posts to the effect that, "Hello, I have been trainng for a month now and my sensei has not mentioned philosophy even once. Am I in the right dojo?" I think that appreciation of the philosophical aspects of a subtle martial art like aikido comes from many years of hard physical training. Put in 'western' terms, it gives the 'body' a very good foundation to appreciate the extra benefits that the 'mind' brings.

My problen with the original post is that it is too disjunctive. First there is 'spirit' (easily definable), then there is 'form' (ditto) and the result is 'technique'. In aikido, aikido 'technique' is a translation of waza or Z, but they are never explained in these terms. Of course, you can think of shiho-nage as a combination of 'spirit' plus 'form', but if you do, I think you need to identify each component separately.

I do not want to criticise the original poster, beyond stating that "Physical + Spiritual = Aikido" is perhaps not the best way to discuss the art. If you have to think in these terms, my own belief is that you should totally immerse yourself in the 'physical' (within the limits that age permits) and ignore the 'spiritual' until it manifests itself.

However, if you regard the physical and the spiritual as identical, two sides of the same coin, then ordinary training will manifest both, given that you have a teacher who can reveal both to you.

Best wishes,

Luc X Saroufim
07-03-2006, 09:50 AM
I own and have read most of them, often two or more times. Have you read the compilation of interviews called "Aikido Masters"? I'm struck with how many 3rd, 4th, 5th... generation students of Aikido can succinctly sum up the "Philosophy of Aikido" when hardly any of the uchideshi said they could understand what he was even talking about most of the time.


a while back i picked up a book on the Tao, and after my 5th time reading it, i'm still trying to understand what's happening, who's talking, and just what i'm supposed to get out of it. but i've learned something new all 5 times, and the 6th time i read it, i will learn something else. my point is that Aikido, like many philosophies, leaves a lot of things open to interpretation. your understanding of Aikido is your own. that's a reason to celebrate it, not discard it.


It's my belief that if there are lessons to be had in Aikido, that they exist within the correctly exectued waza and that too much talk about the philosophy artificially colors that waza and leads to the further deterioration of the art.

hypothetical situation: two men fighting with swords. the Kendo swordsman strikes his opponent down.

the Aikidoka performs iriminage, and his opponent is left staring at the tip of his blade, but not dead. not even scratched.

are you saying the differences between these two lie purely in the waza?

dps
07-03-2006, 10:21 AM
Christian Moses wrote:
It's my belief that if there are lessons to be had in Aikido, that they exist within the correctly exectued waza and that too much talk about the philosophy artificially colors that waza and leads to the further deterioration of the art.

hypothetical situation: two men fighting with swords.

the Kendo swordsman strikes his opponent down.
(or)
the Aikidoka performs iriminage, and his opponent is left staring at the tip of his blade, but not dead. not even scratched.

are you saying the differences between these two lie purely in the waza?
Real life situation: the lessons to be had are on the mat during practice. Through practicing waza do you understand the philosphy .

Luc X Saroufim
07-03-2006, 10:47 AM
Real life situation: the lessons to be had are on the mat during practice. Through practicing waza do you understand the philosphy .

the techniques are nothing new, we can all agree on that. i would like your opinion on why it is considered independent from the martial arts it is based on.

dps
07-03-2006, 10:56 AM
Luc i would like your opinion on why it is considered independent from the martial arts it is based on.
Do you mean by it the philosophy?
Why is the philosophy independent of the art?

ChrisMoses
07-03-2006, 11:20 AM
that's a reason to celebrate it, not discard it.

hypothetical situation: two men fighting with swords. the Kendo swordsman strikes his opponent down.

the Aikidoka performs iriminage, and his opponent is left staring at the tip of his blade, but not dead. not even scratched.

are you saying the differences between these two lie purely in the waza?

I'm having trouble following your question/arguement here but I'll try.

1) I never said to discard it, I am implying that too many people think they understand the philosphy but can't even do the techniques. How can you claim to know the philosophy if you don't even really know the waza yet?

2) I study a dedicated sword art and have to say that your hypothetical situation is a bit off. There are three outcomes possible in a 'real' sword match that come to blows. One: person A dies, two: person B dies and three: both A and B die. Some records show that in areas that kept track of these things, as many as fifty percent of duels resulted in aiuchi. I'm not some great master of kenjutsu by any stretch of the imagination but I've trained with maybe two people who I thought might possibly be able to disarm me if I attacked even remotely honestly. Tachidori is a nice way to study some principles but it just isn't happening. Which brings me to an interesting point: if the waza you're studying doesn't actually work, what does that say about the philosophy that it supposedly represents? Is that philosophy also flawed or are we simply asking far too much of aikido?

3) Finally a question back to you, even if I give you your hypothetical scenario, how do you reconcile that with the 'cannot perform a lie...' quote?

Luc X Saroufim
07-03-2006, 12:59 PM
Do you mean by it the philosophy?
Why is the philosophy independent of the art?

sorry, what i am meaning to ask is: why do you think the waza can be completely separated from the philosophy?

IMO they cannot be, because without the philosophy, Aikido is not unique at all. it's the philosophy, and the intent, that makes Aikido special.

Luc X Saroufim
07-03-2006, 01:22 PM
1) I never said to discard it, I am implying that too many people think they understand the philosphy but can't even do the techniques. How can you claim to know the philosophy if you don't even really know the waza yet?


oh, ok. i understand what you're saying now, but i will rest on my previous argument that your Aikido is your own. i'm sure we can both agree that the philosophy leaves A LOT of room for interpretation. some people need to oversimplify it because they can't admit they don't understand. some people will take your stand. i feel that it is best to let each individual decide whether they understand the philosophy or not. no two people will ever agree.

Finally a question back to you, even if I give you your hypothetical scenario, how do you reconcile that with the 'cannot perform a lie...' quote?

i also believe that O Sensei's teachings contradicted themselves as the years went by. let's go to the end of his life, when he claimed Aikido was about love, about ki, and he generally didn't stress the martial aspect of it so much. IMO though, the fact that he was, at times, a ruthless warrior, only validifies his opinion that Aikido would be about peace. he had experienced everything, learned from his mistakes, and in the end, made a final conclusion on what Aikido should be. to me that is more credible than taking a single point of view and sticking to it.

hapkidoike
07-04-2006, 08:54 PM
I meant to respond to this a long time ago, but I am a slacker.

I draw a parallel to the philosophy of aikido to that of physics of gravity. It doesn't require you believe in it, recognize it, accept it, or discuss it...it will still be there and it affect you.

This may be true, but when we are dealing with gravity we are dealing with a law of nature. I do not think it is wise, nor do I feel it is appropriate to elevate the philosophy of aikido to laws of nature.
The comparison between philosophy of aikido and gravity merely confuses the issue.

The fact remains that there is a certain structure and methodology that surrounds aikido that makes it unique and identifiable as aikido. it is not the techniques as they are universal in all forms of jiujitsu. The structure is based on the philosophy and spiritual beliefs/practices of the founder. So it is implicit within the art and you are affected by it if you want to acknowledge it or not.

This may be the case, that one is "subconsciously" affected by the philosophy of aikido simply because they practice it, but is this not the case in everything that one persues. I am sure, that even though I do not buy into the idea of Kant's categorical imperative or the utilitarianism of Mill I have somehow been affected by it, because of the work that I have done in philosophy. It is not that I do not acknowledge that it affects me, of course it does. But merely by it affecting me does not mean that I modify my belief or my behavior to fit into said 'philosophy'. And is there one unified philosophy of aikido?

As Jon states, I think you are limiting your ability to understand aikido and grow if you don't go down that road, but it is not an imperative, nor is it required to progress.

Maybe I am, but I don't drive my motorcycle in excess of 160kmh, which it is capable of. Am I limiting my experience of my motorcycle? I would say not.

I am not sure I understand those that do it purely for the philosophical reasons. I have never met anyone that has isolated that as a reason. You can read about it on the internet all day long if it is simply a mental exercise for you. A huge commitment of time and energy if this is someones only pursuit.


That said, I don't really see any other reason to pursue aikido if you are not into it for the spiritual/philosophical reason. I would see it as a waste of time, it is not the most effective way to learn to fight, it is not the most effective way to build fitness. It is only fun so long before it grows old from "tumbling and rolling". So why do it? because it "feels good". You can get that same feeling from some drugs at a much less personal investment of time, energy, and money!

It is true, it is not the best way to learn to fight, it is not the best way to build fitness, but I also train in hapkido which is decent at those things. Tumbling and rolling has never grown old to me, that is one of the main reasons I really dig martial arts. Simply put, martial arts are fun for me. I get off on it. Some people get off on playing jazz, making spam sculptures, or carpentry. Why do people get off on whatever they get off on? Who knows. Anyway, training is really cheap in Korea, compared to the states, and there are not any good drugs here anyway.


You'd have to elaborate of your "Ueshiba is just simply war theory" I don't follow. To me at first glance it seems like an over simplification. It's like saying Nietzsche was simply about nilhilism, or Rosseau was simply about "people are good"!....which I think is actually more accurate than O'Sensei simply regurgitated "war theory".

What i said was "and a lot of what Ueshiba was talking about is just war theory" not "just simply war theory". I apologize in that it was worded poorly. Not merely war theory, but the tradition just war theory. This mainly deals with jus ad bellum, when it is appropriate to go to war, and jus in bello, proper conduct while engaging in warfare. This stuff goes back to Aquinas, not that I am arguing Ueshiba stole anything from him or anybody else, I am just saying that it is similar and I don't feel the need to hash it out again. Anyway all of those guys are just arguing about what is appropriate anyway.

O'sensei as a philosopher actually went further I believe than many philosopher have...he did not simply write and lecture about the topic. He lived his life according to his beliefs, and he developed a method upon which others could implement his philosophy in their lives.

Maybe so, doesn't really concern the fact that I don't buy it.

Big difference between him and many other philosophers if you ask me.

I would say so, given that I would not call him a philosopher as such. Not that I am dissing him, he was a martial badass, maybe one of the greatest the world has ever seen, but he was not a philosopher to the degree that I have not seen a body of work that he has produced like that of Marx, Hegel, Rousseau, etc. I would argue that he did some work in normative ethics, but this alone does not make him a philosopher.