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markwalsh
10-28-2006, 07:01 PM
In a few years the top aikidoka in Europe and America will have been training as long as the best in Japan - to me this is an interesting new situation.

How do you think aikido will change as a result of this, if at all?

I've noticed culturally specific movement patterns on my travels, and of course the average Euro/ US Sensei has a different body type to the Sensei that we all grew up with.

Thoughts?

batemanb
10-29-2006, 01:57 AM
I don't think wearing stetson's and doing taisabaki in the guise of John Wayne is going to help it much...................:D

Sorry Mark, couldn't resist :D

Gernot Hassenpflug
10-29-2006, 04:13 AM
Considering the difference in physique between Japanese and Westerners there may well be a different emphasis on how to perform techniques, since Westerners need to bend their legs more to get into a lower position versus a Japanese of similar size. On the other hand, Japanese are changing in body type rapidly form generation to generation as a result of the Western diet, so perhaps the truth is closer to modern techniques differing from ones of 50 years or more ago. And at the end of the day, the external isn ot the part that makes the technique work. The breath and body work remains the same, and is just as difficult to get access to now as it was 50 or more years ago.

DonMagee
10-29-2006, 09:25 AM
As long as people keep testing their technique then their goal should be finding solid principles that work on all body types. Everyone is built slightly different so their technqiue should look different. But the principles on what the technique works should be the same.

Unless of course by change in physique you are refering to a growing trend of people being overweight and out of shape.

markwalsh
10-29-2006, 11:47 AM
Accept point of changing Japanese bodytype - have several young friends there over 6 foot.

I've heard there was a study comparing the minor differences in anatomy that exist between races (hard to explore this scientifically as can get on dangerous racist ground quickly). Anyone have details of this paper?

The way cultures are educated (mainly unconsciously) to move is interesting to me. Here in Brazil for example people are generally more alive in the hips than in my native England (think samba). Koshi nage seems easier for people here for example.

Gernot Hassenpflug
10-29-2006, 08:49 PM
Hi Mark, I agree, lifestyle differences probably lead to different training of the body. One of my favourite instructors, Matthew Holland, used to chastise us for having "lazy hips". We at that time had no idea what the non-lazy ones were like, until I ended up in Japan and saw at up close one culture that is radically different. I see lots of things that they are doing that I would say they should improve on, but hip movement it seems is more practiced in young people. Nowadays I keep a personal slogan that goes "sitting is the root of all evil".

ian
10-30-2006, 04:20 AM
I'd heard orientals tend to have stronger ligaments in their knees due to it being a traditional seating method for many years (not sure if its genetic).

Many of the people who trained under Ueshiba left Japan as well, and live in the US/Canada or Europe. Also, I have seen some quite large orientals (Saito was pretty heavily built) so I'm not sure that the differences within a country are aren't bigger than between countries (even though mean body form may be different).

I think the main change in aikido is different perspectives on martial arts and greater mixing between people doing different arts. I think it may be difficult to seperate the cultural aspect from that. I get the impression that many Japanese instructors in Japan do a 'tradtional' way, in that they would think there is a certain way to do a technique and thats it (no evolution). Never trained there, but have trained with Japanese instructors who teach in Japan and Japanese instructors who teach elsewhere and I would say there may be a difference in approach.

Dazzler
10-30-2006, 04:43 AM
Aikido cannot change.

It is what it is.

Westerners have already been training as long or longer than the longest training japanese.

Training methods will differ, Professional Modern teaching theory may influence practice. Great Shihan may be measured on how good they are at teaching Aikido rather than how good they are at displaying it.

Some of the "japanese" culture may be lost.

But Aikido will not change.

Regards

D

Gernot Hassenpflug
10-30-2006, 05:30 AM
Ian, thanks for the input, the variation in one country is huge too. At the risk of being shown up as totally wrong, let me state that Japanese have different leg/hip/upper body proportions to Westerners. This manifest in that their legs appear shorter. I love it when gorgeous girls I barely know say to me "wow, you really are a Westerner. Your legs just keep on going on and on" LOL (it's true, I should have recorded it! Reply censored). This is obvious if you sit down in seiza in a confined space such as a tea ceremony room. Immediately it is clear that no-one can pass behind you without stepping on you unless you shift your knees about 20.3cm (8 inches) in front of everyone else, breaking the line. Not good. And then bowing without knocking over the tea, oh man. So, probably there are several underlying differences in the way Westerners look when they do techniques, even though the inner-body connections maybe functioning the way they ought to.

deepsoup
10-30-2006, 07:01 AM
Westerners have already been training as long or longer than the longest training japanese.

I don't think that is very often the case.

For example, I know of one individual in the UK who regards himself a peer to a certain Japanese shihan because he's been training 'as long as he has'.

What he neglects to mention is that his training consists of a couple of hours 2 or 3 times a week, whereas the shihan in question trained for the best part of a decade as uchideshi to a couple of shihans before settling down to life as a full time professional aikido instructor, researching, practicing and teaching aikido on a full time basis ever since.

Obviously there are a few exceptions, but they are few indeed.

Dazzler
10-30-2006, 07:26 AM
I don't think that is very often the case.

For example, I know of one individual in the UK who regards himself a peer to a certain Japanese shihan because he's been training 'as long as he has'.

What he neglects to mention is that his training consists of a couple of hours 2 or 3 times a week, whereas the shihan in question trained for the best part of a decade as uchideshi to a couple of shihans before settling down to life as a full time professional aikido instructor, researching, practicing and teaching aikido on a full time basis ever since.

Obviously there are a few exceptions, but they are few indeed.

Well Sean, I think that it will always be the case that it comes down to the individual.

Nevertheless there are now throughout Europe and the States a band of 50 year plus aikidoka.

Some will have walked the walk, some will have talked the talk.

I have met and trained with some who have lived and breathed Aikido throughout these years, and personally do not have any issue accepting the status of some of them as equal to similarly ranked japanese Aikidoka.

In fact I do not even consider japaneseness in the equation - I either like what they do or teach or I don't.

I do find the converse situation interesting where high ranking 'new kids on the block' japanese instructors are in terms of mat longevity, outranked by western counterparts and wonder how they feel about accepting the westerners as seniors.

anyone ever seen this cause problems?

Regards

D

odudog
10-30-2006, 09:58 AM
The Japanese body is not changing because of the diet in my opinion. My wife is tall, she is just slightly shorter than me {6 ft.} yet her brother is taller than me. Looking at her elementary school pictures, you can always find her easily when she is standing so most of the time she is kneeling to make the picture look more even. Her mom and dad were/are also pretty tall for Japanese. I met some of her extended family {aunts, uncles, etc..} and all of them are not short. It's just a family trait.

Concidering on how Aikido will change, I find a lot of differneces when looking at Westerners on youtube. A lot of them start each technique sideways. I used to do this as well until I was literally yelled at by a Sensei who I think was a Shihan when I practiced at Aikikai Honbu during vacation several years back. Ever since then, I've change my kamae and I notice all of my books and videos which are Japanese Senseis start in my improved kamae as well.

Kevin Wilbanks
10-30-2006, 10:28 AM
The Japanese body is not changing because of the diet in my opinion. My wife is tall, she is just slightly shorter than me {6 ft.} yet her brother is taller than me. Looking at her elementary school pictures, you can always find her easily when she is standing so most of the time she is kneeling to make the picture look more even. Her mom and dad were/are also pretty tall for Japanese. I met some of her extended family {aunts, uncles, etc..} and all of them are not short. It's just a family trait.


"Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology compiles a yearly report on the health of schoolchildren, based on data collected from health checks conducted regularly at all Japanese schools. The first report was issued in 1900, and so although the war created a gap in data collection, the reports now represent a 100-year record of the physical development of school-age Japanese children.
According to the latest report, the average height of 17 year-olds for the year 2000 was 170.8 centimeters for males, and 158.1 centimeters for females. The same figures for 1900 were 157.9 and 147 centimeters, which means that in the space of 100 years, the height of Japanese teenage boys has risen by 12.9 centimeters, and of Japanese girls, by 11.1 centimeters. This is a remarkable increase when one considers that the height of Japanese of the Jomon and Yayoi periods increased by only five to eight centimeters over the space of some 10,000 years."

- Sumitomo Group Public Affairs Committee

http://www.sumitomo.gr.jp/english/discoveries/special/84_03.html

odudog
10-30-2006, 11:02 AM
Kevin, interesting post. However, that doesn't mean that the body was changed due to diet. If the right people get together then the outcome will be better hopefully. Both my wife and I look much younger that our age, long legs, and I have a small but high and tight butt {don't have to work on it all do the distain of my wife - jealousy will get her nowhere}. Our kids look like they are going to be long legged as well, they got my butt which she is happy about, look Japanese which the Asian in-laws are happy about, and we'll have to wait and see about looking their age.

markwalsh
10-30-2006, 12:35 PM
"Aikido cannot change." - Aikido IS change IMO - flow, adaption, evolution. These principles do not change perhaps...

"Westerners have already been training as long or longer than the longest training Japanese."
Very few, and fewer still at the same intensity, - but this is changing. Aikikai Shihans now be sent abroad do indeed sometimes have less years now than their hosts - and I've seen at least two be very respectful of this...but again, may have had greater intensity and quality of tuition if Hombu deshi, so see continued value here.

Re. the physical stuff - appreciate the stats and request info on further scientific studies - anecdotal evidence isn't so useful and can deteriorate into racism in either direction really easily in my experience.

Cheers to East and West,
Mark

Kevin Wilbanks
10-30-2006, 03:18 PM
I'm not going to do everyone's research for them, google and libraries are freely available. Basically, it's relatively non-controversial that average height changes in populations over time are largely due to nutrition, and perhaps secondarily to factors like sleep patterns and exposure to microbes. In Europe, average heights decreased during the middle ages during periods of disease and famine, and increased afterwards. Average heights increase anywhere when industrialization makes greater amounts of calcium and protein cheaply available for the average person's diet. In the case of Japan, it isn't difficult to correlate height increase to the increased availability of milk and dairy products during their rapid process of industrialization.

As a competing theory, Mike's appears to be a non-starter. To start with, it appears to have been developed based on observing a few personal acquaintances rather than looking at any demographic or statistical information whatsoever. Furthermore, he seems to be hypothesizing an evolutionary mechanism, rather than the simple, observable mechanism of developmental nutrition and health conditions. To say it has to do with 'the right people getting together' sounds like a suggestion that there is a process of breeding selection going on whereby tall people are having way more babies than short people... If this were the case, the situation of discrimination against short people in Japan would be as world-famous as apartheid.

Dazzler
10-31-2006, 03:18 AM
"Aikido cannot change." - Aikido IS change IMO - flow, adaption, evolution. These principles do not change perhaps...


Exactly Mark.

The term Ai Ki Do effectively defines the component parts.

Man , Ki and the harmony of the Tao.

If you accept this definition of Aikido then how have men, ki and the principles of the Tao changed in the last 50 years.

How can they change?

Positive and negative, light and dark are facts.

They cannot change.

Every person produces their own Aikido whether they like it or not. This was true 50 years ago and is still true today.

But each version will adhere to the underlying principles if it is Aikido.

Whether people are fatter, thinner and have bigger feet matters not a jot.

Regards

D

odudog
10-31-2006, 09:51 AM
....To say it has to do with 'the right people getting together' sounds like a suggestion that there is a process of breeding selection going on whereby tall people are having way more babies than short people... If this were the case, the situation of discrimination against short people in Japan would be as world-famous as apartheid.

You are putting something into my arguement that I said nothing about. I said nothing about breeding selection such that only tall people are having more kids than short people. It is all in the genes and we are unable to determine what will happen. I'm just saying that by chance, the "right" people got together and a positive outcame came about. That's it. A hall of fame NBA player who was a 7 footer, mom was less than 5 feet tall and his dad was only about 5' 5". Yet he came out extremely tall. I don't think it was because of the diet.

ViciousCycle
11-05-2006, 07:12 AM
During the 16th century when guns were first introduced into Japan, the Japanese who worked with the guns did not dress in European-style clothing or use lots of European language phrases when they worked with the guns. Yet there are many Americans/Europeans who dress in period-piece Japanese clothing and use lots of Japanese phrases when they practice martial arts. So long as one does not allow the clothing and the language to become a distraction from putting one's self fully into one's training, this is harmless. But because aspects of Japanese culture can seem exotic, the clothing and language can sometimes be a distraction. i.e. Time spent adjusting and re-adjusting one's gi and belt might be better spent practicing ukemi. Time spent trying to remember Japanese-language courtesies might be better spent expressing etiquette in one's own language. I sometimes wonder if American aikido will recognize that practicing the principles of aikido does not depend on looking and sounding Japanese.

When Japanese gun makers made their own version of the European matchlock gun, they improved on the design. European matchlocks could not be used in the rain, whereas the Japanese developed a waterproof cover for the fuse. This spirit of practical adaptation is one that an American martial artist can learn from.

Gernot Hassenpflug
11-05-2006, 08:14 AM
Um, Tim, I'm not following if you're trying to be ironic in your description, since you seem to be advocating that Japanese have some spirit that is to be aspired to. I'm sure the pinoeer spirit in the US is somewhat equivalent, but since I've never been there I couldn't say. One of my favourite stories concerns the ruling in WW2 by the Japanese government to outlaw the use of English (so effective was the indoctrination that into the 1950s there were incidents of stabbings of people who uttered English phrases in public). This ruling affected the de facto national soprt - baseball - and all technical enterprises, including the critical war effort industries such as the aero industry. Engineers and pilots got fed up with having to give up the perfectly useful foreign terminology and invent Japanese terms for them. By that stage Japanese had ceased to be viewed as a code language which should never be taught to foreigners, something that might have influenced the decisions in your story. How does that apply to aikido? 1) we don't need to use Japanese words where English suffices; 2) we can stick to Japanese for the terminology that exists in Aikido and has no direct Western counterpart in common use among practitioners of aikido. Related to point 2 is that these words are often not unique to aikido, but relate to other kobudo/koryu, a relationship (and clue to the meaning) that would be lost if someone decided to simply replace the word with one of their own consideration. I believe that the martial tradition we see in aikido is not something so simple that it can be translated. I applaud those who seek to make the art more accessible, and of course language barriers are enormous, but the risk of misinterpreting the art through incorrect translation is something already borne out by 50 years or experience.

tedehara
11-26-2006, 08:51 PM
In a few years the top aikidoka in Europe and America will have been training as long as the best in Japan - to me this is an interesting new situation.

How do you think aikido will change as a result of this, if at all?...

Thoughts?Perhaps western aikido practitioners will stop using superstition and mysticism to base their behavior on and begin using rational thought. They might even use it to investigate aikido.

See .pdf document below:
Problems in Romanticism in Transpersonal Psychology: A Case Study of Aikido (http://www.eurotas.org/Articles/AikidoTHP.pdf)

Nick Pagnucco
11-26-2006, 10:29 PM
See .pdf document below:
Problems in Romanticism in Transpersonal Psychology: A Case Study of Aikido (http://www.eurotas.org/Articles/AikidoTHP.pdf)

Ooo...
Sorry, its rare that I get to read an academic article on aikido. Its got me all tingly inside ;)

I see a lot of essentializing going on. "Aikido" is not a thing with objective characteristics, but a label used to describe & make sense of various social practices. "Whose aikido do you mean?" Is an important question to ask here. So is, "What do you think of that aikido?"

We need to recognize how it has already changed. O-Sensei's understanding changed substantially while he was alive. His students seem to have varied opinions and versions of aikido, both in terms of philosophy, technique, and principal. We have already seen things change based on who practices and why, how are concepts like ki, harmony, & martial arts interpreted, and how are they taught. This change and fragmentation will continue (and probably accelerate), especially as the 'original' sources of aikido decrease in relative power to other organizations in other locations.

There are schools of aikido that aspire to be a kind of moving yoga, while others want something that works 'in the street.' Others wish to do both, with varying degrees of success & delusion. How "Japanese" the art must remain (and whether that will be romanticized) will also be an issue (as this thread has already displayed).

Biological, dietary, and philosophical issues will all be important. However, the driving force behind any change will be social in nature. I will now stop before I go in a bizarre rant that will go into the bowels of social theory, and probably end up linking aikido to globalization. ...Yeah, I'm tired.

markwalsh
11-27-2006, 04:13 AM
Core question for me and others at the moment, is does aikido continuously change and evolve - or should we be trying to preserve or replicate the founder?

Great article Ted thanks - have passed on to Aiki Extensions who keep a record of all the academic research on aikido see - aiki-extensions.org Nicjolas for more tingles :-)

raul rodrigo
11-27-2006, 05:12 AM
Core question for me and others at the moment, is does aikido continuously change and evolve - or should we be trying to preserve or replicate the founder?

How are we supposed to replicate the founder when his teaching methodology was so unstructured, intuitive and incomplete? Ellis Amdur makes a good case that Morihei kept the most important things hidden (sometimes "hidden in plain sight"), and so his top deshi such as Tohei, Tada and Yamaguchi had to go outside (to the Tempukai, to kenjutsu schools, etc) to replicate (or create some facsimile of) their teacher's waza. It may be that only Hoken Inoue and perhaps Morihiro Saito had waza that was like the founder's. Everyone else seems to have gone off in a different direction, taking the founder's teaching as the starting point, but in the end creating their own versions of aikido. IMO

DonMagee
11-27-2006, 05:59 AM
Um, Tim, I'm not following if you're trying to be ironic in your description, since you seem to be advocating that Japanese have some spirit that is to be aspired to. I'm sure the pinoeer spirit in the US is somewhat equivalent, but since I've never been there I couldn't say. One of my favourite stories concerns the ruling in WW2 by the Japanese government to outlaw the use of English (so effective was the indoctrination that into the 1950s there were incidents of stabbings of people who uttered English phrases in public). This ruling affected the de facto national soprt - baseball - and all technical enterprises, including the critical war effort industries such as the aero industry. Engineers and pilots got fed up with having to give up the perfectly useful foreign terminology and invent Japanese terms for them. By that stage Japanese had ceased to be viewed as a code language which should never be taught to foreigners, something that might have influenced the decisions in your story. How does that apply to aikido? 1) we don't need to use Japanese words where English suffices; 2) we can stick to Japanese for the terminology that exists in Aikido and has no direct Western counterpart in common use among practitioners of aikido. Related to point 2 is that these words are often not unique to aikido, but relate to other kobudo/koryu, a relationship (and clue to the meaning) that would be lost if someone decided to simply replace the word with one of their own consideration. I believe that the martial tradition we see in aikido is not something so simple that it can be translated. I applaud those who seek to make the art more accessible, and of course language barriers are enormous, but the risk of misinterpreting the art through incorrect translation is something already borne out by 50 years or experience.

I was of the same mind that the language was useless to learn. Until I had to train with this kid from spain who spoke almost no English. My judo Japaneses names allowed me to communicate to him what we were doing in bjj. It actually rekindled my desire to learn the language. I would say keep the language, but codify the techniques so the names are consitant.

As for dressing up, I still don't understand the hakama and it's purpose. However I have still not found a more rugged piece of clothing then a good gi. My fight shorts, and grappling shirts that cost 40-50 each wear out very quickly. My gi however lasts and lasts. I have the option of not wearing a gi where I train. I choose to simply because it holds up.

Gernot Hassenpflug
11-27-2006, 06:09 AM
Hi Don, good point having common reference words. Also, that's exactly what specialist words are for, so that you don't have to go and explain stuff over and over at great length. As for gi, I've heard that's the equivalent of Westerners taking off their jackets and practicing in shirt sleeves: the gi was what was worn underneath (shita-gi). I've heard something like the fundoshi was also in common use. Hakama, well, that's ceremonial wear, demonstrations are made by lords/samurai and often at ceremonies with lords and ladies present. Can't go around without the spiffy clothing with the family crest and all. Maybe some Japanese experts will chime in with some real knowledge :-)

Nick Pagnucco
11-27-2006, 08:06 AM
How are we supposed to replicate the founder when his teaching methodology was so unstructured, intuitive and incomplete? Ellis Amdur makes a good case that Morihei kept the most important things hidden (sometimes "hidden in plain sight"), and so his top deshi such as Tohei, Tada and Yamaguchi had to go outside (to the Tempukai, to kenjutsu schools, etc) to replicate (or create some facsimile of) their teacher's waza. It may be that only Hoken Inoue and perhaps Morihiro Saito had waza that was like the founder's. Everyone else seems to have gone off in a different direction, taking the founder's teaching as the starting point, but in the end creating their own versions of aikido. IMO

I have a similar opinion. Ueshiba Morihei didn't leave a set of simple. And even if he did, drift would still occur. However, I think its worth figuring out how O-sensei figures into one's aikido. Partially because he died less than 40 years ago, his role in aikido is a big thing. I think its a valid goal to do one's best to recreate O-sensei's aikido, which was what many of his senior students strived to do. They had to look other places, and they knew it wasn't exactly it, but they knew there were a few pieces missing, and they knew the general shape of those pieces, so they looked for them.

The only question, for me, is why the %^$# did O-sensei do that. He didn't even pass the stuff onto his son, for goodness sakes.

And as for aiki-extensions... heh.

Bronson
11-27-2006, 09:29 AM
Core question for me and others at the moment, is does aikido continuously change and evolve - or should we be trying to preserve or replicate the founder?

Methinks it should be both.

I think it's necessary and great that there are teachers out there who are trying to faithfully preserve what/how they learned. I think it's just as necessary and great that there are people using what they've learned as a jumping off point for developing in a new direction. There is room for both types of training in the aikido community.

Bronson

tedehara
11-28-2006, 12:39 AM
How are we supposed to replicate the founder when his teaching methodology was so unstructured, intuitive and incomplete? ...
...The only question, for me, is why the %^$# did O-sensei do that. He didn't even pass the stuff onto his son, for goodness sakes...
In his own training Ueshiba Sensei mastered the art of mind and body unification, was able to relax completely and lead his opponent's Ki. This was how he was able to develop the techniques of Aikido, which had seemed so mysterious. This was a tremendous achievement.

However with all due respect, for some reason Master Ueshiba believed that he was uniquely gifted with this ability from the Universe. For this reason he prayed to the Universe day and night. When he taught Aikido he told his students that as young men they should hold with strength. Never did he teach to relax in order to lead the opponent's Ki. This made it impossible for a student to grasp his true essence. "The Way to Union with Ki" pgs. 118-119

Core question for me and others at the moment, is does aikido continuously change and evolve - or should we be trying to preserve or replicate the founder?...

The changing of technique over time is the essential nature of Aikido. "Enlightenment through Aikido" pg. 161
Aikido in the West
Well you know, I have to say when I was just a beginning Aikido student, many years ago, I was at a party in Honolulu with Tohei Sensei, and somehow I was lucky enough to be sitting next to him. And I asked him about Aikido, and he told me a few stories about the meaning of Aikido. And in the end of our conversation, the last thing he said to me was, " Young man, the future of Aikido is in the west!" I thought that was very interesting that he said that, and I never forgot it. In those days I didn't know what he meant by that. But I think that he didn't mean to the exclusion of Japan, but he had a strong feeling that, western culture needs to have a method of tying together, some transition between, eastern spiritual traditions and western scientific tradition, and that Aikido could provide that. Ok, that doesn't mean there haven't been spiritual traditions in the west. And it doesn't mean that there is no scientific tradition in the east. But primarily in the West, Europe and America, man has given himself over to the pursuit of scientific and technological expertise. And we see where that has gotten us! Because of irresponsibility, we are in danger of destroying our whole environment. This is not, in any way, to descry the wonderful improvements to daily life that this technology provides. I wouldn't give up modern dentistry for anything. I wouldn't want to have rotten teeth! I am very grateful for the vast good state of health in the western world today. Personally, western doctors once saved my life. I would have died if it had not been for modern technology. I would not be even here to say this. So I am grateful for that, and I am grateful that I have a healthy set of teeth: And I am grateful to be able to fly here to Europe, in a short period of time. And meet all you wonderful people, and teach Aikido, and share Aikido with you. So these things are all wonderful. But, in themselves, as I was saying, they don't ultimately satisfy a thing. And if we don't use them properly, as I said, we are seeing now that we might destroy the very environment that we are existing in. So, I think the future of Aikido in the west means that Aikido has a very significant role to play. This role can be in showing this simple mind body connection, this simple connection between the inner world and the outer world, in an observable, western way. Tohei Sensei describes it like an iceberg. He says," We look at ourselves like we look at an iceberg. We see the tip of the iceberg sticking out of the water. And we basically think that's the iceberg". But the truth of the matter is, the part exposed above the water, is the very smallest tip of the iceberg. The iceberg in fact contains a huge globe of ice that hangs beneath the surface of the ocean. So we know that about an iceberg. And if you look at the human condition, the tip of the iceberg can be seen as our ego oriented self, that part of us which identifies only with the world of the senses. The inner world though, that which is hidden, can be compared to the part of the iceberg beneath the surface. Except that in the human being the inner world is not just larger than this small tip of the iceberg, but it is infinite in size. Because this inner world is the direct experience of Original Mind, Universal Mind, or the Universal Reality. Interview in Denmark with Chris Curtis Sensei (http://www.aikido-duisburg.de/curtis/intv_curt.htm)

jonreading
11-28-2006, 10:56 AM
I think two striking differences between western and Japanese aikido present themselves on a regular basis:
1. Form. Westerners are statistically bigger than Japanese. Size and strength affects technique form, application, and development. I expect new aikido to come from larger aikidoka.
2. Entitlement. Westerners are demand more from instruction than Japanese. I expect aikido to become more transparent as instructors directly share training secrets with students.

I cannot say whether these influences are good or bad for aikido.

Stefan Stenudd
11-29-2006, 02:33 PM
No doubt, aikido is growing at a higher pace outside Japan than within. The number of western teachers with many years of experience grows. In a decade or so, it will be easier to find western teachers with 50 years behind them, than to find Japanese teachers with that experience.

Normally we would conclude that in the near future, there will be more advanced teachers to be found outside Japan. But then there's the Japanese origin.
Until recent years, a lot of Japanese aikido seniors regarded aikido as something so uniquely Japanese that non-Japanese persons could never learn it. I've heard it said by several of them at international gatherings.
It's only a few years ago that Aikikai Hombu started to officially appoint westerners to shihan. The title implies profound understanding of aikido.

Oddly, a lot of westerners seem to have been convinced of the same - that you need to be Japanese to understand aikido in a profound way.
If that were true, why should westerners pursue this path at all?

At the same time, I hope that aikido is not diluted into something completely western, where its Japanese origin becomes invisible.