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George S. Ledyard
03-23-2007, 02:54 PM
I think that there are many reasons people choose to do martial arts but perhaps the predominant one is fear of some sort. If one looks at the biographies of many of the martial geniuses of history, one finds quite a few who were sickly and weak as children or experienced some traumatic incident in the early life. I think that martial training was a way that they strove to be fearless, to lose that sense of vulnerability.

But really, there are two ways that people have chosen to go about this. The most common one is by focusing on power, the ability to defeat any enemy, bear any hardship, be stronger, tougher, better, than any enemy one might be presented with. While not an easy path I believe that it is the easier of the two. It is fundamentally based on papering over ones insecurities with the trappings of power.

One can see this in the endless discussions on-line dealing the martial arts and especially Aikido. Worries about whether Aikido is good on the street abound. Constant reference to mixed martial arts and competition showing that Aikido doesn't "work" can be found. It's all about conflict and competition. And it is fundamentally about "fear".

What is this fear that by doing an art like Aikido we can be beaten by someone doing mixed martial arts? Is this a worry that you live with on a daily basis? There'll you'll be at the grocery store when, suddenly, you are accosted by the local gang of MMA practitioners… Really, I can't honestly say that I know even one person who was ever in a fight with another martial artist on the street.

Constantly focusing on fighting, on beating others using ones skills is, in my opinion, symptomatic of martial power being used to hide from what makes one afraid. It ultimately fails in this as most of the things that make us afraid and make our daily lives so difficult are things which no amount of martial skill, no amount of toughness, no number of victories in competition can help us with.

So your lover tells you she's leaving, your child becomes ill, you get laid off, your business goes broke, you get cancer, the list goes on and on. Does anyone honestly think that being the most accomplished fighter in the country helps with any of these fears? Does anyone, at the moment of being presented with what one most fears, say to themselves, "I should have done mixed martial arts instead of Aikido." Or "Sure glad that I did my kokyu training and no one can throw me…"? This constant preoccupation with strength and power, the focus on prevailing over others is not particularly useful in regular life.

I see rough and tough martial artists who wouldn't hesitate to get on the mat with three attackers trying to hit them with big sticks but who will let their relationship fall apart rather than go to counseling. In counseling they'd have to be vulnerable again. So no one can lock you up? Great! Explain to me how that skill helps you when your 16 year old ADD son is addicted to nicotine and caffeine and his grades are tanking... All of the fighting skill in the world won't help you in the great crisis's of ones life.

Martial arts exist mostly for one reason; to make one a better person. The Japanese understand this perhaps better than anyone else in that they only relatively recently transitioned from a society in which the martial arts provided the tools used by the ruling class, the Bushi. With the Meiji Restoration and the abolishment of the Samurai as a class any real need for traditional martial arts was over. The traditionalists who opposed the guns of peasant converts all died glorious but futile deaths.

So what kept the martial arts going? The leaders of this emerging modern nation realized that there was something which traditional martial arts training provided which simply didn't come with acquisition of the most efficient means of killing ones enemies. Budo training offered something deeper. It developed character, it taught powers of concentration, it developed a warrior spirit, not for the purpose of winning over ones enemies but for winning over ones life.

That is the true purpose of training in the martial arts. Kano Sensei saw this clearly when he created Judo. Shiai, or competition wasn't for the purpose of winning over others but for winning over oneself. Competition was done for mutual benefit so that both practitioners could grow. Awa Kenzo understood this when he promoted what has become modern Kyudo. Morihei Ueshiba clearly intended this to be the purpose of the art which came to be named Aikido.

People seem to understand this when the training is in something clearly archaic like archery or the sword. When did you ever hear any discussion about whether a student of Katori Shinto Ryu could take on someone from BJJ? Or hear a serious suggestion that he might try himself against an attacker with a semi-auto? But when it comes to empty hand, people go right back to fighting. An art like Aikido, which is absolutely one of the most graceful and beautiful martial arts in the world gets compared to mixed martial arts competition which is certainly neither.

The essence of Aikido can be summed up in the term "masakatsu agatsu" or "true victory is self victory".
Physical technique is a means by which we elevate our soul. In common, everyday thinking, the word tenkamuteki (which the Founder used when speaking with me privately during my teens) refers to being "invincible" or being of such incredible strength that you have no contenders. However, (I interpret) the Founder's use of this word "tenkamuteki" to mean that we have no enemies under heaven. If you harbor animosity toward someone, he or she can feel it. By constantly training the techniques of Aikido in the spirit of harmonizing with your partner and extinguishing the animosity in your heart, you will eventually reach a point that you are able to feel within yourself that "enemies" do not exist. The Founder was a person of unparalleled physical strength, yet he became enlightened to this truth. The fact that a person who possessed such tremendous strength as the Founder came to spread such a teaching is really quite magnificent.
Sunadomari Sensei
Aikido Journal Interview Pt 3
O-Sensei said one should go past the whole idea of even having an external enemy… in the words of Pogo , "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Budo training is not about papering over ones fears with skills and power, using ones ability to defeat others to hide from what one doesn't wish to deal with. It is about losing ones fear entirely, healing what causes the fear, converting the energy of that fear to something other than destruction. This is what Aikido is all about.

Someone recently said that Aikido was really just Daito Ryu. They said it with great conviction and authority. But they are wrong, definitively wrong, and maintaining so ignores almost forty years of work done by the Founder after he stopped teaching Daito Ryu. It is true that the principles at work behind Aikido waza are the same as in Daito Ryu. But the techniques themselves are done differently, with different intent. They are not just badly executed Daito Ryu, they were created the way they were for a reason. Just as Kyudo isn't combat archery; Iaido isn't combat sword drawing; Aikido isn't combat empty hand…

Does anyone think that Aikido has spread all over the world because it was a great new fighting style? It would still only exist in obscurity in Japan if that were the point. People have responded to the message, more overseas even than in Japan itself. In spreading so far so fast, it lost some of its Budo aspect and its technique became watered down through lack of understanding on the part of many of the teachers of the art. I have no quarrel with looking outside the art for what it has lost in terms of the technical aspect of the waza. But we do not have to look outside the art for its essence; that is right in front of us.

But so may people seem to be so caught up in who can beat whom, which martial arts are superior, etc that I see a movement to devolve the art into something it was never intended to be. If one is so concerned with fighting, do a fighting style. One cannot have the mind of conflict, the intention to win, the fear of loss, the desire to prevail over another and do Aikido. It simply becomes something else at that point and a not very good version of whatever that would be.

Some form of martial skill is a by product of good Aikido training. But the entire structure of the art is about something different. It doesn't even reflect that concern. Attempts to get it back to some more effective past by changing the essential structure of the way we train will destroy Aikido. The people who propose that we do so simply do not understand what or why we do what we do. I would say that they probably do not have the temperament to even want to do what we do and look at us as folks doing something incomprehensible. To them the question is "Why would anyone want to do that?" To the folks who do understand, the question is "How do we do what we do better." These are not the same at all.

Jorge Garcia
03-23-2007, 08:31 PM
Ledyard Sensei,
Excellent article! I think that you have helped me tremendously with your statement that the desire to overcome others (what I have called a need for invincibility) is based in human fear. This is a real enlightenment. In our discussions on Aikiweb, I have been unable to convey why I am unconcerned with all the current talk. I just don't feel a need to "make sure" I am in the most unbeatable art and someone saying Aikido isn't won't make me change arts. I have many human fears and doing Aikido has set me toward dealing with those. Especially understanding that my problem is what is inside of me and not an enemy out there. I think we are all somewhere on the road to dealing with our fears. Thank you so much for your help.
Best wishes,
Jorge

aikidoc
03-23-2007, 10:20 PM
Great article. Your insights are right on in my opinion.

Aristeia
03-24-2007, 03:14 AM
Nice article. I often think alot of the "contention" between different camps would just evaporate if everyone just realised people training in different arts are likely doing so for quite different reasons. And that's all right. As long as everyone is being honest about what they're doing and why there is no argument to be had. Again, nice article.

Ron Tisdale
03-24-2007, 07:29 AM
While I like the article, and respect the author greatly, I think there is still a great deal of misunderstanding why some of us look under the hood. And try to change, enhance, and improve the way we train. It has nothing to do with being better fighters. Oh well, life is full of misunderstandings.

Best,
Ron

FiuzA
03-24-2007, 07:48 AM
Mr. Tisdale, but where does Mr. Ledyard criticize that enhancement and improvement that you're talking about?

One thing is saying that Aikido its not meant to fight with some guys "out there" in the street, another is saying that we are not suppose to improve our technique and training (and Mr. Ledyard didnt exactly said this, right?)

Well, probably i misunderstood you :)

Mr. Ledyard, excellent, excellent article.

statisticool
03-24-2007, 07:48 AM
One thing I've noticed with MMA-stuff in general, is that the way it is advertised is 100% aggressive and fear-based. I really can't understand why, despite some high level skills, there is such insecurity in that genre.

I think the same thoughts when people claim taijiquan, for example, or other internal-ish martial arts, have 'power generation' as their main goal or their basis. I wonder why they would be about something so (essentially) thuggish as generating power, when the classics and other writing deemphasize the use of power.

I guess people like to 'revert' to power every now and then despite knowing better deep down.

gdandscompserv
03-24-2007, 08:03 AM
Ok...I know...I said I was gonna shut up, but George can draw me in every time. Now that's real aikido.

That article was so spot on for me on so many levels. I was physically and emotionally abused as a child. I'm not sure to what degree that drove to towards martial arts, but I've always felt it was significant. I was drawn to them from an early age not really knowing why. Even today I see that not many people are really interested in studying budo and wonder why I am one of the few weirdos.

Training in budo with a caring and compassionate sensei can be highly beneficial to traumatized children and adults. Aikido can truly be practiced by anybody of any age or gender, and through the study of aikido or other another budo, ones life can be enriched. I often think what a lovely world we would live in if we had Iwao Yamaguchi sensei's in every dojo. Even better, a duplex dojo with Yamaguchi sensei on one side and George Ledyard sensei on the other side. And in the barn for all you males, between the ages of 18 and 50??, who like to punch and roll, a "fight club" featuring the always RRrrough and RRrreeaaddy tooo RRuumble, Dan Harden. And who's that over on the grass? Oh that's Mike Sigman teaching that "internal" stuff he does so well, occasionally glaring at me out of the corner of his eye for some sarcastic comment I have made. Yes, I would like that.
Of course it is an odd dream. I'm sure if I shared it with my co-workers they would not understand and in fact would think I was quite completely out of my mind. Wouldn't I rather be in Vegas, or riding quads in the desert, they would ask? No I say, I'm going to an aikido seminar. Huh? How odd they say. They just don't understand.
Of course, who knew.
Not many...Not many at all.
http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b379/deserthippie/peace.gif

L. Camejo
03-24-2007, 08:33 AM
I think Ron has a point.

I think that martial training was a way that they strove to be fearless, to lose that sense of vulnerability.

But really, there are two ways that people have chosen to go about this. The most common one is by focusing on power, the ability to defeat any enemy, bear any hardship, be stronger, tougher, better, than any enemy one might be presented with. While not an easy path I believe that it is the easier of the two. It is fundamentally based on papering over ones insecurities with the trappings of power.I agree with the above quote except for one aspect. I don't think that truly training to become stronger, tougher or able to defeat perceived enemies is a "papering over of one's insecurities" in all cases. If that were so then Ueshiba M. would be a prime candidate for this reality. He did start training in Budo to become strong but somewhere along the way his training and his desire to transcend his own fears lead him to discovering the method we call Aikido. The key to avoid staying in the "better fighter" stage is to know that ones ultimate goal is to transcend the need for fighting itself, iow to transcend fear.

I find that it is critically important to first understand the deepest, most primitive nature of oneself if one can ever hope to reach any sort of personal evolutionary pinnacle of non-violence and peace. Imho Budo is about going through the process of dealing with the base, primitive, fear-driven self to truly understand one's nature when at its lowest. It is about forging the total self, to forge something one must face the fire so that the self can be objectively purified (mind, body and soul) and made stronger as a result. It is only then can we truly understand the goal we are trying to achieve by aiming to be exemplars of peace and love in the world. Without War there is no Peace, without Ego no Ego-less self, without Fear no transcendence of Fear etc. Peace, Ego-lessness and transcendence of fear among others have been indicated as higher goals of Aikido as Budo.

A major part of the problems seen in Aikido today regarding "fighting" come from papering over one's insecurities no doubt, but not by seeking to become truly stronger and better as a person by understanding the primitive human elements that drive warfare. Instead this papering over is found when people act as if conflict and banality do not exist in the universe and stick their heads in the sand (denial). This causes folks to create false and artificial structures in the their lives (the dojo included) to maintain "harmony" when in fact this is merely a facade. One of the most genuine forms of harmony one will find is among emotionally mature competitors where honest respect (another tenet of Budo) is engendered through the recognition of another's real and measurable abilities. There is no need for a facade of truth since one has experienced the truth in the other's abilities, no more proof is needed and one can move on to greater things.

This however cannot be said for much of Aikido practice where there is this false sense of harmony which also causes people to submit almost immediately to their baser selves whenever this "harmony" is challenged. Challenge brings honest truth and honest respect through humility. Respect and truth engender harmony (:ai::ki:). One can only transcend fear after looking it in the eye and not being taken by it. Avoiding it and refusing to deal with it head on is merely a form of denial. Aikido is the antithesis of denial.

Ueshiba M. did not became an illuminated being suddenly that day in 1925. His illuminations on the true purpose of Budo came as a result of his ongoing war with fear, his true desire to not only be strong over others but primarily over himself (true strength). He realised who the true enemy was and aimed to deal with that directly. But he first had to become strong and understand the true nature of the enemy and this was addressed by his martial training. Omoto Kyo provided the spiritual path for him to move beyond just being a good fighter (external expression of strength) and towards defeating the only true enemy, the ego (internal expression of strength). However he would fail in defeating the true enemy if he had not first met and understood this enemy through his martial training.

I think it quite interesting that although Ueshiba M. had to go through the hard, nasty, gruelling martial forging process of dealing with his own demons to get to where he arrived spiritually, that modern Aikidoka somehow think that they can start at the end where he left off without first gaining the same level of understanding of the true enemy that he had.

Gambatte.
LC:ai::ki:

George S. Ledyard
03-24-2007, 09:00 AM
While I like the article, and respect the author greatly, I think there is still a great deal of misunderstanding why some of us look under the hood. And try to change, enhance, and improve the way we train. It has nothing to do with being better fighters. Oh well, life is full of misunderstandings.

Best,
Ron

Ron,
You've read my stuff over the years... I am the FIRST (not literally) one to advocate doing other training to enhance one's skills. You and I were at the Expos, we both continue to seek out training which will make our Aikido better. But, unless I am mistaken, you are an Aikido man to the core. Outside training is to make your Aikido better. The same with me. I continue to get as much exposure as I can from folks who can show me things that will make my Aikido better.

But all along I have appreciated what Aikido has that none of the other arts has. Much of what folks from other arts make fun of in the impractical nature of much of our kihon waza is precisely what sets Aikido aside. It is misogi, it's a form of moving meditation, it's the pure joy of movement. The doing of it changes us in various positive ways. O-Sensei and his son, Kisshomaru understood this. Folks from other arts looking at what we do don't get it. Aikido folks who don't get it, leave and find something more appropriate to their temperaments. But after all these years, we are still here. Lately, after doing all sorts of other training, I have come to increasingly appreciate what Aikido has to offer. It is not in any way a rejection of what we could and should know that some folks from outside can offer. It's just an appreciation that we shouldn't lose what we have that is so unique, just to try and get to something else which will lose the essence of what Aikido is all about. Aikido should be better than it is, improving it will entail some help from outside, but we don't want to lose track of the point as we do this.

George S. Ledyard
03-24-2007, 09:32 AM
I think it quite interesting that although Ueshiba M. had to go through the hard, nasty, grueling martial forging process of dealing with his own demons to get to where he arrived spiritually, that modern Aikidoka somehow think that they can start at the end where he left off without first gaining the same level of understanding of the true enemy that he had.

Gambatte.
LC:ai::ki:
I am not in disagreement here. I think it funny that I am in danger here of being placed in opposition to the folks that cross train (which I have done and still do, as do my students) and am in danger of being seen as the representatives of some softer, easier Aikido. Any of the folks who know me would find it fairly amusing, I think.

Your post brings up a good question... it has to do with what one needs to do to follow after someone like O-Sensei. It's true that to duplicate his knowledge, which would be pretty much impossible to do completely, one would have to try to do all of the various things he did. That would include the life experiences as well as the training.

O-Sensei's focus changed over the years as his spiritual views changed. There has been quite a lot written about how the aftermath of WWII changed his thinking about things as well. When he started to put the finishing touches in what would be modern Aikido, I think he had certain things in mind. I don't not think that we have to go through everything the Founder did to follow the path he outlined towards the end of his life. If we were required to reinvent the wheel in each generation, we'd never make it.

I think that one of the absolute, fundamental purposes of Budo training is to help people lose their fear. Notice I say lose their fear, not simply overlay them with aggression and pretend they aren't there. Hard training is important in this regard. Many of the fears we have are about physical violence, being hurt, pain, etc. Aikido actually offers a really good way for people to deal with these issues in a way that is designed to be non-injurious. That doesn't mean sucking the life out of the training to make it user friendly. It means taking it right to the edge.

Somehow I seem to have given the impression that I am advocating some sort of Aikido that is in contrast to severe, hard training. I am not at all. I am not questioning in the least the folks who look outside Aikido for things that we are not very good at in our own art; I am constantly doing that myself.

My article was merely trying to point out that we need to stop apologizing for what Aikido lacks. Some of what it lacks, we need to get put back in , no question, but some of what it lacks, it lacks on purpose. I strongly believe that if one looks at everything from a purely utilitarian view of what will work in a fight, what will make me the unbeatable martial artist, then the essence of the practice will be lost and we will be busy devolving our art into its antecedents. We don't need to remake Aikido into Daito Ryu. Daito Ryu still exists and if that is what people want, they can do it. A devolved Aikido wouldn't be good Daito Ryu, it would have ceased to be Aikido.

tarik
03-24-2007, 09:38 AM
I think that there are many reasons people choose to do martial arts but perhaps the predominant one is fear of some sort.

I agree. Mine was fear of myself and my anger.

Some form of martial skill is a by product of good Aikido training. But the entire structure of the art is about something different. It doesn't even reflect that concern. Attempts to get it back to some more effective past by changing the essential structure of the way we train will destroy Aikido. The people who propose that we do so simply do not understand what or why we do what we do. I would say that they probably do not have the temperament to even want to do what we do and look at us as folks doing something incomprehensible. To them the question is "Why would anyone want to do that?" To the folks who do understand, the question is "How do we do what we do better." These are not the same at all.

This is a 'sticky wicket'. I don't happen to believe that because the structure and goal of our training isn't about martial effectiveness means that we can eliminate martial effectiveness from our training and say we can achieve our separate goals without it.

I don't believe that the internal problems I learn to solve are very relevant if my buttons aren't being pushed and the somewhat arbitrary external standard of 'martial effectiveness ' is one that certainly pushes buttons and exposes personal fears.

If I allow my practice on the mat to become less specific because it makes me or my partners uncomfortable, I am no longer directly facing the issues of "Masakatsu Agatsu". Indeed, I am altering my practice to make it easier and more enjoyable simply because "it isn't my goal to become martially effective" and this change in mental discipline subtly changes the entire meme of my training.

I guess this is fine if you're honest with yourself and your training partners. Don't pretend you practice budo, and don't suggest that self-defense or martial skill will result. Then, at least, the shock one experiences if they are ever tested on the street will be lessened and/or potentially more pleasant if the encounter is successful.

Of course, "on the street" is a nearly meaningless measure anyway and also leads one in a direction I have little interest in. I have seldom been attacked as an adult, even as a bouncer and it's my personal observation that almost everyone I know who has been in frequent altercations really went looking for them.

IMO, martial effectiveness is not the goal, but it is an absolute consequence of my training if my training is correct. It is one standard (among many) that I use to measure my progression.

I do not want cooperative uke's except in the sense that they are helping me to polish myself (nor do I want resistant uke's). Almost all aikido training uses very cooperative uke's and the result is an increase in suki in the techniques as practiced without an awareness of those suki. How does that not impact the integrity of what we study?

If I have to change the essential structure of how we train to achieve that, I will willingly do so. If my partners in aikido find what I'm doing too real, then I will find different partners and we can pleasantly part ways.

I would suggest, however, that it is not the reality of the training that is the sole issue, but the sense of vulnerability that is raises in us. I have one training partner who, deliberately or otherwise, has entirely stopped training with me after the following encounter.

http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/thegrindstone/2006_07.html

The irony is that the only person who was hurt in that encounter was me, and yet I was never the person in a truly vulnerable position. Now, I'm not suggesting injury should EVER result, I was pushing boundaries that I perhaps should not, however, if one does not feel as vulnerable in their training as he felt at the end, than one is not pushing their boundaries or practicing in a way that I would call juicy or interesting.

I do understand why many of my training partners and acquaintances train the way they do and I would even say that their goals are similar, but I believe that they wish to make their path easier and that they believe that it's ok to do so because "we're all on the same path" or "we're all climbing the same mountain". I don't believe that. I believe that some of us are climbing different mountains, or perhaps are even on different planets (views being so far apart).

That's ok.. everyone should train the way they want to and that is what I intend to continue doing. If it destroys aikido, then aikido had nothing worth saving. Somehow, though, I doubt aikido is in danger from the way I practice and share my practice. In fact, I suggest the opposite.

L. Camejo
03-24-2007, 10:41 AM
I am not in disagreement here. I think it funny that I am in danger here of being placed in opposition to the folks that cross train (which I have done and still do, as do my students) and am in danger of being seen as the representatives of some softer, easier Aikido. Any of the folks who know me would find it fairly amusing, I think.Hi George,

Actually from speaking with you online over the years I know you are not an advocate of the soft and easy approach to Aikido. I am sorry if I may have indicated that but my post was also geared to those who may have some sense of ambiguity in this area.O-Sensei's focus changed over the years as his spiritual views changed. There has been quite a lot written about how the aftermath of WWII changed his thinking about things as well. When he started to put the finishing touches in what would be modern Aikido, I think he had certain things in mind. I don't not think that we have to go through everything the Founder did to follow the path he outlined towards the end of his life. If we were required to reinvent the wheel in each generation, we'd never make it.I agree that we do not need to reinvent the wheel, but at the same time we need to remember that Ueshiba M.'s understanding of life came from his unrelenting pursuit of higher ideals whilst being immersed in expressions of human baseness. Fighting, WWII atrocities and the like were all around Ueshiba M. during his development of something more than mere rote human on human violence. Interestingly enough he chose a very paradoxical means to reach the state of controlling his fears, that of fear-driven martial practice. So I agree that the wheel need not be reinvented but if we at some point do not get to face our deepest fears in Aikido so we can understand who we become when in this state (a way of seeing the usually unseen self) then it would be hard to utilize the sort of insights Ueshiba gained that also assisted him in his own development. I think before one can transcend the self the total self must be known and this includes the truly dark, the truly light and everythign in between. Imho serious martial training helps us to keep the darker side in mind while the philosophy of Aikido and ultimate goals keep us focused on the higher ideals where we want to be in the end, which is not about being a "better fighter" at all. It is quite paradoxical - going through the Yin to find the Yang (or vice versa) and then true balance imho.I think that one of the absolute, fundamental purposes of Budo training is to help people lose their fear. Notice I say lose their fear, not simply overlay them with aggression and pretend they aren't there. Hard training is important in this regard. Many of the fears we have are about physical violence, being hurt, pain, etc. Aikido actually offers a really good way for people to deal with these issues in a way that is designed to be non-injurious. That doesn't mean sucking the life out of the training to make it user friendly. It means taking it right to the edge.Absolutely. The question though is how many Aikidoka are truly training this way and really understand the competencies, goals and ideals of the art and how to achieve them.
My article was merely trying to point out that we need to stop apologizing for what Aikido lacks. Some of what it lacks, we need to get put back in , no question, but some of what it lacks, it lacks on purpose. I strongly believe that if one looks at everything from a purely utilitarian view of what will work in a fight, what will make me the unbeatable martial artist, then the essence of the practice will be lost and we will be busy devolving our art into its antecedents. We don't need to remake Aikido into Daito Ryu. Daito Ryu still exists and if that is what people want, they can do it. A devolved Aikido wouldn't be good Daito Ryu, it would have ceased to be Aikido.You and I are on the same wavelength it seems. Something I have realised with almost every "internal" CMA practitioner that I have come across is a fixation on "ki/chi/internal" abilities in its form of making oneself less vulnerable or being better in a fight. Most of them do not understand what Aikido is about and yet want to give pointers on how to improve Aikido by developing these skills. The folks online here were hardly the first I've seen do this sort of thing. Interestingly however I did come across one Chinese Wushu master who did not believe that chi should be used for these things, in fact he had a goal for the use of chi much like Ueshiba M.'s view for Aikido. This guy in fact left wushu behind (including the money and fame he had in doing it) and started teaching qigong instead. In this I saw that those who want to develop internal skills for combat alone have missed the higher ideal of the training. This is the same as those who only want to learn to fight. If we are fighting there is no Aiki. Transcendence of the need to fight is Aiki imho, which as you rightly said comes from the transcendence of fear.

Good thought provoking thread George, my compliments.

LC:ai::ki:

gstevens
03-24-2007, 10:46 AM
Great Essay:

I agree with everything in it. As a matter of fact I am trying to set up a trip to Seattle in the near future to train with Ledyard sensei. I may even bring along a couple of friends.

There is definitely a group that starts training with the idea that they are going to keep themselves safe from anything that the world can dish out, by learning a marshal art. For me, no matter what the art, this fails the logic test. (I know O Sensei could dodge bullets cause he could see them coming.... I am not, nor have I met anyone in my reality that could do that).

Yeah occasionally marshal art X helps in a physical confrontation. One of my sempies used it to control his 80+ year old father in law that was suffering from dementia, and tried to punch him in the head. He did it gently, without anger, and without even bruising pops. All in an instant! Was that a marshal situation? (pops was no lightweight).

Every day though I hope that Aikido keeps me from hurting the world. If we all did this, where would the conflict be. Like Ledyard sensei says, when outside of TV land have you heard of two trained marshal artists going at it?

Part of keeping the world safe from me is my getting rid of my violent fantasies. You know the ones, I can take on the whole street full of ninjas that attack when my car breaks down in the bad part of china town kind of thing. :freaky: Training is for ME, not for THEM, for NOW not WHEN or IF. I don't train in dark alleys while I am in the dojo. (I don't think that I have ever actually been in a dark alley thinking about it.....) I know some of my training partners that do, it is one of the situations that I allow myself to speak to my partner while on the mat, without them asking me a question. "Hi Frank, I am Guy, we are here in the Dojo. I will do my best not to hurt you, are you ok with the level of our training, or do we need to slow down?"

Maybe this is wrong. Maybe I should work on trying to kick everyone's butt in the world..... Wait, I did that once, it was highly frustrating and isolating... Nah..... Oh look time to go to the seminar..... Mary McLain sensei today. I love her posture!!! :-)

Guy
:-)

Ron Tisdale
03-24-2007, 11:25 AM
Ron,
You've read my stuff over the years... I am the FIRST (not literally) one to advocate doing other training to enhance one's skills.

Absolutely. One of the reasons that I respect you so much is because you have had excellent students, who cross-trained, and then decided to leave aikido to pursue those arts. And you didn't abuse, discourage, or disconnect from them. You encouraged them instead. It is a rare instructor who incourages his students even when they leave. That is the measure of the aikidoka and instructor you are.

You and I were at the Expos, we both continue to seek out training which will make our Aikido better. But, unless I am mistaken, you are an Aikido man to the core. Outside training is to make your Aikido better. The same with me. I continue to get as much exposure as I can from folks who can show me things that will make my Aikido better.

Again, spot on. I won't be leaving aikido any time soon I think.

Aikido should be better than it is, improving it will entail some help from outside, but we don't want to lose track of the point as we do this.

I don't think we will. And I also don't think that some of those from outside are expecting that. Mike for instance, speaks of training for health...the power is part of it, but I think a lot of his focus is the health benefits. Dan has a lot of different goals I think...but what I see anyway is a focus on being the best Dan he can be. I take seriously the goals you have stated, and the ones they have conveyed to me. I may be mistaken about them, but that is what I see.

For me:

the body is the bow
the heart/mind is the arrow
the arrow flies straight and true

what of the target?
there is no target
all is one.

Best always,
Ron (just finished an absolutely fantastic class with Garret Fuller...you have some superb guys in the ASU...)

DH
03-24-2007, 05:38 PM
Dan has a lot of different goals I think...but what I see anyway is a focus on being the best Dan he can be. I take seriously the goals you have stated, and the ones they have conveyed to me. I may be mistaken about them, but that is what I see.

Best always,
Ron
To be clear-and Ron you may have missed this-but I have said to everyone but Mark Murray and Rob Liberti"

"Stay in Aikido. As far as I'm concerned, don't even tell anyone you're training with me. Just make yourself better and make Aikido better."

Why?
1. What I can instill in them will, beyond any doubt, create in them a more powerful Aikido, without exception, if they do the work.
2. It's more important WHAT is right...not WHO right.

Why was it different with Mark and Rob?
Sorrintino's "challenge as invitation." Which most of you considered very rude as well as the rude commmentary surrounding it from many, resulted in an agreement. It was agreed to publicly that Mark and Ron were to come "test me" and report back. Ron could not make it so I agreed to Rob. Those two I asked to write back into Aiki-webb
Since that time I have been besieged by Aikido and some Daito ryu people. Two more back to train today. Most of whom don't write.
And all of this is, for my guys. a new and quite unexpected turn of events. One we don't quite know what to do with. Two of my own guys who train MMA with me have quit because of it.To quote them "Call us when you are going to get serious again." Others are enjoying the personalities and the idea that they can actually help others.

More than many- Ron, Tim and Jun know I always, without exception, refused to teach anyone from outside for years. That mindset runs deep in me. I quit a promising position at a public Dojo with no prior notice. My guys are wating for me to do it again! My dojo is called Shugyo Dojo for reason.
Now my "goals" are being discussed? What "goals?" We never -planned- for this to happen. :cool: Yakin here never constituted a wish to teach the public. It was just yakin.
Now I am helping some very sincered people-the best I can. But I only have time to help a few.
I charge nothing. I gain little.
I don't even know where this is leading yet.
That's a straight-up from the heart direct answer.
Best
Dan

SeiserL
03-24-2007, 06:25 PM
To make Aikido better.
To make ourselves better.
Not mutually exclusive.
Ahhhh...

George S. Ledyard
03-24-2007, 07:08 PM
Now I am helping some very sincere people-the best I can. But I only have time to help a few.
I charge nothing. I gain little.
I don't even know where this is leading yet.
That's a straight-up from the heart direct answer.
Best
Dan
None of us know where this is leading. I personally feel a shift going on that may turn into something major. Part of these discussions are simply giving some direction to where we would like things to go. I, for one, would not doubt your sincerity for a moment... you are nothing if not straight forward. We are all going to be mucking around with each other for a while now and it will be interesting to see what comes out of it.

Jim Sorrentino
03-24-2007, 10:36 PM
Dan,To be clear-and Ron you may have missed this-but I have said to everyone but Mark Murray and Rob Liberti"

"Stay in Aikido. As far as I'm concerned, don't even tell anyone you're training with me. Just make yourself better and make Aikido better."

Why?
1. What I can instill in them will, beyond any doubt, create in them a more powerful Aikido, without exception, if they do the work.
2. It's more important WHAT is right...not WHO right.

Why was it different with Mark and Rob?
Sorrintino's "challenge as invitation." Which most of you considered very rude as well as the rude commmentary surrounding it from many, resulted in an agreement. It was agreed to publicly that Mark and Ron were to come "test me" and report back. Ron could not make it so I agreed to Rob. Those two I asked to write back into Aiki-webb
Since that time I have been besieged by Aikido and some Daito ryu people. Two more back to train today. Most of whom don't write.I have not responded to any of your writings for some time, because it seemed to me that you were more interested in lecturing than in engaging in a dialogue. But I have grown tired of your continued statements on AikiWeb that my invitation to you, almost a year ago, was rude, and that my intent was hostile (and when someone does not even take the time to spell my name correctly, well... :) ) My open invitation (which still stands) was neither rude nor hostile. It was blunt and skeptical --- two qualities which you seem to admire and espouse. Readers may judge for themselves: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10287.

I believe that you have demonstrated your skills to Rob Liberti, Mark Murray, Ron Tisdale, etc. I have spoken with each of them (and corresponded with others) at length. I do not doubt their testimony. Nevertheless, my invitation to demonstrate and teach, outside your own venue and with a group that you do not select, still stands.

You have often stated that the skills are more important that the particular person teaching them. ("It's more important WHAT is right...not WHO [is] right.") I agree with you. So, apart from Akuzawa/Rob John, Mike Sigman, and you, who do you know of who currently teaches these skills? I'm sure you wouldn't mind if those of us with an interest sought them out as well.

Sincerely,

Jim

Thomas Campbell
03-25-2007, 12:22 AM
[snip] My open invitation (which still stands) was neither rude nor hostile. It was blunt and skeptical --- two qualities which you seem to admire and espouse. Readers may judge for themselves: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10287.

[snip]

"Blunt and skeptical"? Perhaps the initial invitation was. But your post on page three of that thread was rude and hostile. You invite readers to judge. Here it is:

"Greetings All,

I had an interesting experience last weekend that has led me to resurrect this thread: I attended one day of a two-day seminar on Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu with Roy Goldberg-sensei. Goldberg-sensei is a 6th dan and a member/representative of the Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu Kodo Kai. The seminar was hosted by the Kim Studio, a tae kwon do school founded in 1964 by Ki Whang Kim (see http://www.kim-studio.com/). The studio has hosted Goldberg-sensei many times, and on one occasion, has hosted Goldberg-sensei's teacher, Kiyama-sensei.

The day I attended, practice ran from 12:00 to 4:00, with a short break around 2:00. There were about 30 participants, ranging from tae kwon do beginners to seasoned jujutsuka from Virginia, New York, an Massachusetts. Tim Anderson and Steve Kotev also attended, so I wasn't the only aikidoka there. Goldberg-sensei brought one of his students, Gino, who took most of the ukemi.

[snip]

During the course of the afternoon, someone (not me) asked Goldberg-sensei about Dan Harden. Goldberg-sensei's first response was. "If you come to tomorrow's session, you will have spent as many hours on the mat with me as Dan has." And he recommended that when Dan posts on aikido Internet forums, we should ask Dan: 1) what is his rank in Daito Ryu? 2) who gave him that rank? and 3) what is his present relationship to the Kodokai? Dan, if you're out there, I'm asking.

[snip]

Sincerely,

Jim Sorrentino"

That was a set-up of Dan Harden, under the guise of a seminar review. If you're seeking to learn training insights or experience real skill from someone who's worked long and hard and passionately to cultivate them . . . that's just a stupid way to go about it.

Edwin Neal
03-25-2007, 04:44 AM
To make Aikido better.
To make ourselves better.
Not mutually exclusive.
Ahhhh...

i agree with the not mutually exclusive, but i would probably have said "one with the universe", and "baddest ass fighter i can be"... lol

DH
03-25-2007, 07:16 AM
None of us know where this is leading. I personally feel a shift going on that may turn into something major. Part of these discussions are simply giving some direction to where we would like things to go. I, for one, would not doubt your sincerity for a moment... you are nothing if not straight forward. We are all going to be mucking around with each other for a while now and it will be interesting to see what comes out of it.
I dunno George. I don't see it changing AIkido much at all. If we can get a small group training their skills will go through the roof no doubt but the time of Takeda and Ueshiba is long past.
I argue on two fronts
Aiki arts-MMA
Old world-NEW
With all their skills-which were truly profound and substantial- in their day the level of attack was not as severe as today. I believe even they could be taken apart by a good MMA fighter today, staying outside picking their shots. More on that in a minute.

So in that light Aikido has a two pronged assault to face.
1.The pressures of the public, now measuring effectiveness on a different level.
2. The pressures of being able to deliver Aiki-with some now openly challenging even that. And whats more- with them being able to deliver with on the spot undisputed surperior-level Aiki skills.

For those teachers who can respond to the challenge it's bound to a plus for themselves and the art. But changing the huge machine that is now become Aikido? With so many "groups" out there? I dunno.......I wouldn't expect anything anytime soon.

While I think the internal skills were always in the Asian arts as a basic-I donl tever thingk they were wide spread. The superior skills are trained by just a few. I suspect it's always been that way.

Again "The Fighting Spirit of Japan."
Judo man astonshed at feeling this for the first time.
"Sensei how many men in Japan know this?"
"Very, very, few. These things are not openly taught."

What's changed?
We still have just a few and now even some of those "few" are incorporating an MMA style of training. So you have the finest skills in the world being combined with the finest training in the world. Its a pretty heady combination of pressures on the arts.

Dan

DH
03-25-2007, 07:43 AM
Edit ran out
The point I wanted to make in closing
Aikido never existed "outside" of the extent martial arts. Ueshiba proved its superiority over them. I wonder if anyone would like to step up in today's environment and say the same thing.

Now it appears that many choose to "opt out" of martial challenges and "claim" superiority of vision while openly stating they don't care about the martial aspects. I find that to be a different statement altogether from Ueshiba's vision. And I think they can be joined again.
Dan

George S. Ledyard
03-25-2007, 11:01 AM
And I think they can be joined again.
Dan
This was the way I was trained and I am in total agreement with you here.

Mike Sigman
03-25-2007, 02:11 PM
My article was merely trying to point out that we need to stop apologizing for what Aikido lacks. Some of what it lacks, we need to get put back in , no question, but some of what it lacks, it lacks on purpose. I'm pretty mechanical (thinking) about this. The ki and kokyu stuff is a given... it belongs in Aikido, just as it belongs in almost all Asian martial arts (the ones that haven't become diluted). The philosophy, violence, ability to "kick butt", and all that other stuff.... I couldn't care less how people choose to do their particular brand of Aikido. But without kokyu/ki powers it is not Aikido, regardless of whether they can kick butt or whether they're doing a love-fest and calling it Aikido.

These skills are the whole essence of Aikido, Taiji, Karate, ju-jitsu, and so on. If someone doesn't have those skills in their Aikido, they don't have to apologize to anyone, but they need to get to work.

If someone does Aikido with those skills, but they don't want to fight or they form some other philosophy, I wouldn't have the vaguest quarrel, as long as they have demonstrable ki/kokyu skills. If they have those core skills their Aikido skills, techniques, etc., are compleat; anything else is their business.

My 2 cents.

Mike

Edwin Neal
03-25-2007, 02:54 PM
hey mike could you be a little more specific about the "The ki and kokyu stuff"... give some examples, how is it different from the ki developement and Ibuki that many of us already include in our practice? How does one demonstrate them? It is my belief that just practicing the waza will naturally develop Ki over time, without any other "practices"... please give me a little more info on this...

Mike Sigman
03-25-2007, 03:13 PM
It is my belief that just practicing the waza will naturally develop Ki over time, without any other "practices"...Hi Edwin:

If you believe that just doing techniques will develop ki and kokyu (a subject in itself which has been beat to death in numerous threads on AikiWeb) then you make my case for me. If just doing waza developed some things called "ki and kokyu" there was really no need for millions of Asians over thousands of years to make such a big, near-religious deal of it all unless they were incapable of envisioning simple "expertise" by any means other than making up exotic words. Rather than divert this column with yet another discussion, why not look at the "Baseline Skillset" and previous threads for you answers. The short answer would also be for you to take a look at Tohei and Ueshiba's ki-tests-demo's and see if you can do them easily.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

statisticool
03-25-2007, 03:55 PM
These skills [what Mike labels "kokyu/ki powers" and others might label 'tricks in static demonstrations with play-nice rules, reminescent of the Magnetic Girl'] are the whole essence of Aikido, Taiji, Karate, ju-jitsu, and so on.

Nope, they are not the "whole essence". They are just a single, limited part.

statisticool
03-25-2007, 04:07 PM
If just doing waza developed some things called "ki and kokyu" there was really no need for millions of Asians over thousands of years to make such a big, near-religious deal of it all unless they were incapable of envisioning simple "expertise" by any means other than making up exotic words.


Of course, we've seen millions of people (Asians even Mike!) practice techniques. I think they make a big deal out of it like anyone makes a big deal out of anything they love, respect, and enjoy doing. That says nothing about 'how to get ki/kokyu', however.

They also probably made a big deal out of ki-stuff because ki is huge philosophical underpinning in many areas of their culture, martial or otherwise. Thus, they consider it important in many areas.

Of course, we've also seen people claim that the method to get ki/kokyu is also to practice techniques; techniques that they claim will get them ki/kokyu, so I'm not sure why 'waza' becomes a bad word in these debates.

But turning the 'if you question me you are calling millions of people dumb' counter-arguement around, if the ki/kokyu stuff was so important, why did any of these millions of Asians who practiced thousands of years not provide a direct explanation like

Start
Goal: to get ki/kokyu
Steps:
a)
b)
c)
...
z) You now have ki/kokyu powers
End

, and we had to wait to be enlightened to this process by Westerners, many who have much much much less experience in aikido (for example) than all those Asians?

It truly makes one think.

Edwin Neal
03-26-2007, 12:44 AM
[/QUOTE]If you believe that just doing techniques will develop ki and kokyu... then you make my case for me. [/QUOTE]

sorry i don't follow... what case? i have learned that there are 6 methods of Ki developement in aikido... the actual practice of the waza being one, along with Ibuki and seiza ho and a few others

[/QUOTE]If just doing waza developed some things called "ki and kokyu" there was really no need for millions of Asians over thousands of years to make such a big, near-religious deal of it all unless they were incapable of envisioning simple "expertise" by any means other than making up exotic words. [/QUOTE]

What? what do exotic words have to do with developing Ki... doesn't execution of the waza, demonstrate these qualities and their level of development?

[/QUOTE] Rather than divert this column with yet another discussion, why not look at the "Baseline Skillset" and previous threads for you answers.[/QUOTE]

i will, but the "short" answer would be appreciated...

[/QUOTE] The short answer would also be for you to take a look at Tohei and Ueshiba's ki-tests-demo's and see if you can do them easily. [/QUOTE]

those tests are required on every test i have ever taken except for my first "yoshinkan" test... so i can do them, "easily" is subjective, but i don't seem to find it difficult. While i will agree that some aikidoka focus less on Ki development than others... my initial belief that the practice of the waza is itself a method to develop Ki means that to some degree Ki/internal power is being practiced/developed by all aikidoka... as i believe was Osensei's intent...

billybob
03-26-2007, 06:53 AM
Having offended most of you at one point or another I feel almost too shamed to speak. I will try, since that's the point.

When I came back to the martial ways I could not remember the abuse I had suffered. Now I remember, and I'm getting the medical, and emotional treatment I need.

Having awakened from the nightmare of trauma I see a wake of damage and hurt behind me.

Now, I turn to you who lead the way on this path. Unable to bow in the past, I bow now. It is because of your efforts that I have a PHYSICAL way to address my healing, and it seems to be the only way that has helped me.

Sensei Ledyard - you know me, and I have offended you as well. Pardon the fool who was the last to know he was wrong, and let me learn from you.

Thank you.

David

Paulo Barreto
03-27-2007, 03:22 AM
Thank you for an excellent and heart touching column and for taking the time to write it.

dps
03-27-2007, 03:49 AM
Hi Edwin:

(a subject in itself which has been beat to death in numerous threads on AikiWeb)
By you mostly.
David

dps
03-27-2007, 03:51 AM
Hi Edwin:

If you believe that just doing techniques will develop ki and kokyu(a subject in itself which has been beat to death in numerous threads on AikiWeb)
By you mostly.
David

tedehara
03-27-2007, 09:22 AM
Why compare aikido to mixed martial arts (MMA)?

It is just a matter of time before MMA develops its true potential to become a major entertainment like professional wrestling. Stadiums filled with screaming fans, DVDs and pay-per-view shows; they already do that now. The only things missing are the fight scripts and outside-the-ring dramas.

Give them time...

This is not a martial art. It's $howbiz!

:cool: kewl
U herd it here furst.

Cady Goldfield
03-27-2007, 10:43 AM
Ted,
I think you're mixing up commercialized MMA with more traditionally-attuned martial artists who master useful methods from a variety of backgrounds to become their personal best at fighting arts and skills. These latter individuals are also MMA, but I wouldn't dump them in the same pot as the jamokes who tussle for $ as sport-style competition on TV.

Jim Sorrentino
03-27-2007, 06:44 PM
Cady,Ted,
I think you're mixing up commercialized MMA with more traditionally-attuned martial artists who master useful methods from a variety of backgrounds to become their personal best at fighting arts and skills. These latter individuals are also MMA, but I wouldn't dump them in the same pot as the jamokes who tussle for $ as sport-style competition on TV.I agree with you. Ironically, the same thing happens with respect to aikido: people see one or two Japanese shihan (or their students, or their students' students), often in a seminar rather than in daily training, and draw broad conclusions about the art. As some sage said, "All generalizations are false."

Sincerely,

Jim

da2el.ni4na
04-13-2007, 08:26 AM
For those people with whom the idea of aikido "training as a transformative experience" (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?p=171834#post171834) resonated, here is an article that resonates for me more recently, despite some of the "airy" language: Aikid¸«Ō and Self-Inquiry (http://homepage3.nifty.com/aikido_sakudojo/Shihan16E.html) - particularly, "it is necessary to have strength that will hold up against competition and can continually embrace paradox."

Considering the context of these forums, I wonder if it would be make for a robust topic to discuss the paradox between facing and even cultivating/encouraging potency, negation of others, or danger within oneself and one's dojo/community and the endeavor of becoming "higher", more peaceful, in sync with the universe, etc.

I have also been thinking on the value of the possibilities to be found in weakness, and so this statement was also interesting: "The Founder was a person of unparalleled physical strength, yet he became enlightened to this truth. The fact that a person who possessed such tremendous strength as the Founder came to spread such a teaching is really quite magnificent (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12221)."

tedehara
04-14-2007, 08:00 AM
It seems that some have taken my flippant remarks seriously. The fact is there were/are some very good wrestlers who have participated in professional wrestling. Just as there are some very good martial artists who do mixed martial arts (MMA). Their performance is no reflection of their actual fighting skills.

However everyone has expenses. If people can capitalize on their skills by performing them, personally I am all for that. What will transform MMA into an entertainment sport like professional wrestling is the development of an audience/market. Not internet chatter.

tedehara
04-14-2007, 08:49 AM
While this is an interesting article, it does miss The Point of Aikido.

THE POINT OF AIKIDO IS:
:ai:
:ki:
:do:

Translated it means the way (path) to harmony (or union) with (universal) ki. In other words, the reason for doing aikido is:
Becoming One with the Universe.

And as Rabbi Hillel noted, "... All the rest is commentary. Now go and learn."

gyudien
04-14-2007, 11:39 AM
Very interesting article. I've passed it on to other members of my dojo.

Something caught my attention, though. You say,

"In common, everyday thinking, the word tenkamuteki (which the Founder used when speaking with me privately during my teens) refers to being 'invincible' or being of such incredible strength that you have no contenders."

Can you say something more about your experiences with O Sensei? Thanks!

CitoMaramba
04-14-2007, 01:56 PM
Very interesting article. I've passed it on to other members of my dojo.

Something caught my attention, though. You say,

"In common, everyday thinking, the word tenkamuteki (which the Founder used when speaking with me privately during my teens) refers to being 'invincible' or being of such incredible strength that you have no contenders."

Can you say something more about your experiences with O Sensei? Thanks!

If you read the article again carefully, you will see that Ledyard Sensei was quoting Kanshu Sunadomari Sensei in the paragraph you referenced. So it is Sunadomari Sensei who was talking about his personal experiences with O-Sensei.

jennifer paige smith
04-18-2007, 08:50 AM
Great Essay:

I agree with everything in it. As a matter of fact I am trying to set up a trip to Seattle in the near future to train with Ledyard sensei. I may even bring along a couple of friends.

There is definitely a group that starts training with the idea that they are going to keep themselves safe from anything that the world can dish out, by learning a marshal art. For me, no matter what the art, this fails the logic test. (I know O Sensei could dodge bullets cause he could see them coming.... I am not, nor have I met anyone in my reality that could do that).

Yeah occasionally marshal art X helps in a physical confrontation. One of my sempies used it to control his 80+ year old father in law that was suffering from dementia, and tried to punch him in the head. He did it gently, without anger, and without even bruising pops. All in an instant! Was that a marshal situation? (pops was no lightweight).

Every day though I hope that Aikido keeps me from hurting the world. If we all did this, where would the conflict be. Like Ledyard sensei says, when outside of TV land have you heard of two trained marshal artists going at it?

Part of keeping the world safe from me is my getting rid of my violent fantasies. You know the ones, I can take on the whole street full of ninjas that attack when my car breaks down in the bad part of china town kind of thing. :freaky: Training is for ME, not for THEM, for NOW not WHEN or IF. I don't train in dark alleys while I am in the dojo. (I don't think that I have ever actually been in a dark alley thinking about it.....) I know some of my training partners that do, it is one of the situations that I allow myself to speak to my partner while on the mat, without them asking me a question. "Hi Frank, I am Guy, we are here in the Dojo. I will do my best not to hurt you, are you ok with the level of our training, or do we need to slow down?"

Maybe this is wrong. Maybe I should work on trying to kick everyone's butt in the world..... Wait, I did that once, it was highly frustrating and isolating... Nah..... Oh look time to go to the seminar..... Mary McLain sensei today. I love her posture!!! :-)

Guy
:-)

I am glad to hear you say this (all of it). I personally started Aikido to save my own life from the most destructive person to me; me. There is so much profile assumption about who and why people train in aikido.
I personally kicked 5 kinds of ass when I started. I was also a very spiritual person. The two coexist. Because I am from CA and because I know the harmony of nature I'm frequently thrown in online with New Agers (another character assasination branding). I support physical inquiry, so I'm not a 'purist'. Many of the 'effectiveness' conversations are so purely 'male agrressor' that I can't even relate to what they have to do with me except I know I'm done with coddling fantasies about what they would do in a fight . Bah! If you haven't had to do it yet......find a good reason to train. Train the violence out of yourself.
I was so appalled at the recent lack of honor among men on this site (' no, you didn't ask if you could come to my dojo.'' No, you can't call me C_ark, I didn't give you permission.'). Embarrassing to say the least. I personally would not trust someone with those current attitudes to protect or represent my being. And the gang up online of any person is a demonstration of fighting mind and points to the deficiencies in training of everyone involved.
I heard someone say in that forum they don't want to be treated like a child. Really?

When we're in our training we don't come up with this kind of s#*+. We turn it over to our practice and we get to be innocent children who respect their parents (aikido). We get the relief of having something greater than ourselves guide our actions and our speech (online or off).

So, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I should just go back to 2x4's and to curb jobs so I have an 'event' to point to that confirms my 'effectiveness' in life. But maybe I can learn to be a beautiful parent to my children through the model of Aiki therefore potentially saving them from harm or harming in the future. Maybe, maybe, maybe. But that's my fantasy. For now:

Let's walk with purifying intention (misogi) toward the source (musu) in friendship (aiki).
Jen:triangle: :circle: :square:

This beautiful appearance
Of Heaven and Earth
Everything is One Family
Created by the Lord

All blessings of this Great Universe are manifested, without exception, in all deities and buddhas, all nature, animals, birds, fish, and even in insects. Aikido means receiving all blessings into ourselves and performing our duties as human beings. On the subject of religions, I think that each religion should become an ubuya (house of childbearing~ see Takemusu Aiki in AJ116) to impart this same teaching. Morihei Ueshiba O'Sensei

tarik
04-19-2007, 02:48 AM
Hi Jen,

I am glad to hear you say this (all of it). I personally started Aikido to save my own life from the most destructive person to me; me. There is so much profile assumption about who and why people train in aikido.

I started for similar reasons. I don't personally know anyone who makes assumptions about why other people train, do you?


I was so appalled at the recent lack of honor among men on this site (' no, you didn't ask if you could come to my dojo.'' No, you can't call me C_ark, I didn't give you permission.'). Embarrassing to say the least. I personally would not trust someone with those current attitudes to protect or represent my being.

I am a bit puzzled by your comment here. It's not a good example of your points to my understanding. I'm familiar with those people and those posts and as such I doubt you have all the information to form a truly educated opinion about everything that took place.

I can say that not only do I trust the honor of the individuals involved, I have literally put my life and my baby daughter's life in their hands and will again soon. It's an experience like no other in the world, and I've felt some well known people.


I heard someone say in that forum they don't want to be treated like a child. Really?


Depends on what you mean. I still have a great deal of respect for my father, but it was his disrespectful treatment of me that damaged lot of respect I held. His choices of actions with primary concern for himself and his rigid beliefs without the flexibility or allowance for those around him to be respectfully different did more of the same.

For 10 years I've born witness to the same in a lot of Aikido and discussions of Aikido.

The way that I treat my child is always measured by the fact that I am her parent and have a duty to educate and guide her in life. But it is tempered by the understanding that I have to also respect her integrity and guide her attempts to become an independent free thinking individual; albeit with respect for others. Her behavior dictates how I need to treat her, not my fantasy of what I want her to accomplish or become or what I wish her to believe.


When we're in our training we don't come up with this kind of s#*+. We turn it over to our practice and we get to be innocent children who respect their parents (aikido). We get the relief of having something greater than ourselves guide our actions and our speech (online or off).

I want my training to be real and to cause me real problems. Not because I want to be 'effective', but because I don't believe that I accomplish anything otherwise except perhaps some fun exercise. If my buttons aren't getting pushed when I train, I am not forging myself, polishing, or otherwise enforcing change upon myself.

I don't respect aikido or consider it my guide. I have met too many people over the years of my training for whom 'aikido' does not mean the same thing that it means to me.

Instead I respect my partners and teachers, old and new, and allow them to shape me, help me to stand on their shoulders, and show me the path that they have walked. Then I walk my own path and respect that others may or may not follow in my exact footsteps.


But maybe I can learn to be a beautiful parent to my children through the model of Aiki therefore potentially saving them from harm or harming in the future. Maybe, maybe, maybe. But that's my fantasy. For now:


I think good intentions are only a start and not enough. Harm is not just a physical thing. A lot of damage is done in the name of good intentions.

I think we need to understand the implications of all our actions and instead of just allowing things to happen to us, to choose the actions that will cause the least harm to the most people all the time.

To me that requires something quite different; it requires specific attention to how and what I'm training; hence my current practice.

Regards,

smellott
05-18-2007, 11:14 AM
Dear George,

Thank you for this well-written and thought-provoking article. My husband and I run a small dojo and we were discussing this very topic just last night so it was very timely for me to just happen to get on Aikiweb today and read this.

Take care,
Susan Mellott

Albert Oktovianus
05-20-2007, 09:55 PM
Dear Ledyard Sensei,

Thank you so much for the article.
I've been training in Aikido for around 7 years now, but I just pass the exams for Kyu 5 only last week. Some of my friends are wandering why it took so long to take the exams. Sometimes I just tell them that it's because I changed around Dojo so many times and I trained Aikido unofficialy with my friend (who was a trainer for Keijitsukai Aikido) so I don't have the certificates.
To be honest, some of my reasons are true, but deep down inside I knew that there is something else. That something is 'fear'. :blush: Yup...I have the fear of taking my trainings to the next level, because I'm afraid that I won't be as good as anyone else in Aikido (or other Martial Arts). I'm afraid that Aikido is really not the one for me (I've practiced Pentjak Silat also for a couple of years). I'm afraid that I will let down my previous Sensei (who is also my best friend). I know that it's stupid to be afraid of those things after training for years and I hope by taking the exams I have gained control over my fears. So here I am now with the understanding that Aikido is so much more just being stronger or better or trying to prove myself to others. With your article, I have found the realization of my condition in writings and I hope my resolutions also.:D

Peace & Respect,
Albert. O

Hebrew Hammer
09-22-2007, 12:23 AM
Sensei Ledyard,
I'm late to this party but thats not unusual. Another brilliant column, and for me, you are one of the most intellectually stimulating posters on the web and a Sensei I would surely like to meet. Most of my life I've been an admirer of the Martial Arts and just dabbled in a few...perhaps its my fear of commitment! :D I have recently decided to give Aikido another try, not because of the art but because of the caliber of the people in it.

Thank you for your leadership and you commitment to helping others to discover themselves.

Good Training Ladds....

Don
09-22-2007, 08:18 PM
I like to offer some slightly divergent thoughts....and perhaps it speaks to the problems enunciated by Ledyard sensei. I agree with Ledyard sensei as to the ultimate desirable outcome of training in aikido, but is that not the desired outcome of continued study of all martial arts. Anectdotal examaples....the recent "Human Weapon" series on History Channel has had several instances of sensei from other arts stating ultimate outcomes similar to what Ledyard sensei has stated. George's article itself uses Kano's judo as that example.

However, when Tohei came over to the US did he advertise aikido for its philosophical and self-improvement ideals? Perhaps he did, but surviving photos and antecdotes highlight the martial aspects.

There are articles that suggest that many of the now senior aikidoka that first came to the U.S. downplayed the spiritual aspects both during their training with O'Sensei and when they came to the US.

I suppose what this all leads toward is that our culture in the US and the natural desire to get inital converts as aikido spread in the US (and perhaps elsewhere) would seem to have conspired to emphasize for a generation or more the martial (fighting) aspects of aikido. I'd venture to say that other martial arts experienced the same "adulturation" when they came to the US. In karate and judo however, there is the additional outlet of sport that does not exist in aikido. So in another sense "we have met the enemy and he is us" is true as it applies to what is being discussed about the true purpose of aikido. Perhaps its the commercial culture we live in. Maybe Jun has (or could) run a poll something like "why did you first start aikdo? Self Defense? Self-Improvement? For a good workout? I don't do aikido. I've been in aikido long enough and am old enough to have seen a bunch of students come and go in our dojo, and none of them come in seeking self improvemnt....They come in because aikido is a Japanese martial art and they have preconceptions of being able to learn self-defense techniques, or at best they have been in another martial art, usually a striking art, and have gotten too old or just wanted another art. These students at least might have a clue as to what might result if they stay with it long enough. I'm sorry I was wrong....we did have one student who came in and liked the idea that aikido was totally defensive. This presented a problem because that student had trouble with anything that looked like irimi. But you see my point....externally the techniques are martial...and we have fed that aspect of it. Now if you stay with it long enough (or any martial art) you (hopefully) start integrating the deeper parts with the external techniques. I think we are a product of what we have done. How do you fix it? Do you fix it? I dunno. Perhaps more importantly, if aikido is forced to compete against other martial arts in our commercial culture, will it survive as is? My guess is some practitioners will "devolve" it back to something more like Daito Ryu and some will evolve it to something more like tai chi (yeah yeah I know tai chi can be martially effective)....Well these are just slightly less than random thoughts....any other suggestions?

salim
09-22-2007, 08:40 PM
Here is nice explanation of Aikido. Quote from Hiroshi Isoyama.

"Budo as the Undercurrent of Aikido
How would you say that your emphasis on the importance of budo in aikido developed?

Since I’m in the position of teaching aikido, I feel I have to keep myself oriented in one consistent direction. People practice aikido for a variety of reasons - to keep in shape or stay healthy or what have you - but it is clearly “budo” that is the undercurrent running beneath aikido. There’s no problem with people practicing aikido simply as a good way to stay in shape, but I think they still should also cultivate the kind of vigilance that strives constantly to avoid showing openings to potential opponents. This is an important underlying aspect of budo, and I think neglecting it or allowing it to become too minor a part of your training will result in a divergence from the real spirit of aikido.

The founder’s thinking changed over the years between the time he started teaching aikido and later in his life, so naturally the kinds of movements he used also changed. There are very few people who had direct contact with him over the span of several decades, so in many ways it’s like that old story of the three blind men all feeling different parts of an elephant and giving different descriptions of what an elephant is. In that sense, I wonder if there is anyone at all who understands O-Sensei’s greatness completely.

Some people were in contact with O-Sensei when he was spreading aikido purely as a budo; others only began learning from him once his thinking had evolved to emphasize aikido as “a way of harmony”; still others learned from him at various periods later in his life. All of these will have different viewpoints and interpretations, and I don’t think it’s possible to say that any of these is better than the others.

I also think there are differences depending on the age of the learner. Younger people naturally sought a stronger kind of aikido, while those who were older may have been drawn to aspects such as harmony and spirit, and so these are what each absorbed from O-Sensei. Issues like these make it very difficult to talk about aikido in clear-cut terms.

As you know, O-Sensei never wrote much about aikido in books, although some of this techniques are recorded in Budo. Sometimes I’ve wondered why he didn’t write more about aikido, but on the other hand, I think I might understand: his thinking gradually evolved, and he may have felt that anything he wrote in his younger years would potentially end up being contradictory to his thinking later on. The same is true of his techniques: if he had said anything definitive about them at any point, he might have ended up contradicting himself later on as he evolved.

Another difficulty is that different people have tended to interpret O-Sensei’s words in different ways, even though he may have actually said the same thing to all of them. People then end up expressing their own interpretation as if they had absorbed all of what he meant, leading in turn to small variances and eventually to misunderstandings.

When O-Sensei taught he never gave any particularly detailed explanations. One reason was that the many people who came to practice aikido under him were all individuals of a certain higher standing in society, for example military officers, politicians, high-ranking practitioners of other martial arts, people from the financial sector, the heads of private enterprises, and various others all well-established and respected in their fields. Giving too much detail to people like that, for example teaching them things like “this is the way you do a proper bow” and so on would have been regarded as condescending and offensive.

During practice O-Sensei often spoke in honorific language to individuals of higher social standing and us regular students alike. I was very moved by that attitude and way of interacting with people."

semantik
10-03-2007, 11:02 PM
Great article... I just started my journey into Aikido a few weeks ago, but this helps a lot.

Mark Oosterveen
10-04-2007, 05:17 PM
Dear mr. Ledyard,

Thank you for writing this excellent article. It summarizes a lot of issues that have been troubling me for quite some time. I think that you are absolutely right in your assessment of the point of Aikido. It is to become a better person, not to be the best martial artist in the word.

The problem embedded within Aikido is however that it is a martial art, not just an art. The martial portion of it somehow seems to evoke competition. Wanting to win, wanting to be the best.

The founder himself was no stranger to this concept. It seems that in his younger years (and even when he was not that young any more) this was his ultimate goal. To beat them all. No matter how young, no matter how big. Even if the opponent was a summo wrestler. And apparently he could and did.

For a lot of people who start training, this is the allure of Aikido. To be able to learn all of Morihei Ueshiba's skills (preferably by training Aikido twice a week for two hours).

Maybe the most difficult part of Aikido, for anyone who starts Aikido with this idea in his or her mind, is to let this go and just practice. Practice hard, honestly, kind, to the best of your ability, without judging your training partner, without wanting to be better than anyone, just having fun and becoming a better person.

Thanks again,

Mark