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AikiWeb System
05-13-2007, 01:47 PM
AikiWeb Poll for the week of May 13, 2007:

Would you consider aikido without a physical practice component to still be aikido?

I don't do aikido
Yes
No


Here are the current results (http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=377).

SeiserL
05-13-2007, 01:57 PM
No.

Chuck Clark
05-13-2007, 02:18 PM
No.

Dirk Hanss
05-13-2007, 03:32 PM
While I cannot think of aikido without physical practice - aikido is budo and budo is going a spiritual way by practical exercises - it might be hard not to allow someone calling his non-physical art 'aikido'.

So if you train conflict management skills according to attack-tics ("Aikido in everyday Life"), you might call it aikido-communications. But to me it would not be just aikido, while the results are aikido in an other environment than in the dojo.

Nevertheless, I voted 'No' as well, so I am interested about why voting 'yes'.

Best regards

Dirk

aikishrine
05-13-2007, 04:04 PM
I believe that you can practice AIKIDO without the physical part of it and indeed call it AIKIDO. After all isnt it translated as the Way of Peace and Harmony or some derivative of that, and i do believe that you can practice both peace and harmony without any physical action at all, i believe that this is a great poll, should be some very interesting opinions about this one:)

Karen Wolek
05-13-2007, 05:04 PM
Nope.

Mark Uttech
05-13-2007, 05:24 PM
O Sensei used martial arts to demonstrate what he called "Aikido". Everything else that he did, he called 'Budo'.

In gassho,

Mark

senshincenter
05-13-2007, 09:43 PM
I would say yes, but only after a real reconciliation of fear has been cultivated via martial training. After said reconciliation, in fact, I would say the whole point is to move well beyond martial training - to areas that on the surface have nothing to do with that training but that in essence are all about the continuing reconciliation of our fears.

Dan Rubin
05-13-2007, 10:12 PM
After all isnt it translated as the Way of Peace and Harmony or some derivative of that, and i do believe that you can practice both peace and harmony without any physical action at all

There are many methods to practice peace and harmony. Without the physical component, how could you determine that the method you practice is aikido?

Edward
05-13-2007, 10:21 PM
No.

Carlos Rivera
05-16-2007, 08:22 AM
Can a bird fly without its wings?
:circle: :square: :triangle:

senshincenter
05-16-2007, 10:01 AM
Well, for those that have answered how important physical training is to something being "Aikido," let me ask you this:

- Are you not practicing Aikido when you are off the mat? Is the mat something that has some kind of electronic border-guarding system that prevents your Aikido from leaving? If yes, what is that border-guarding system? If not, when you are off the mat, what is that you practicing and how is it possible?

- Do you think the Founder felt he was not doing Aikido when he was praying before a shrine?

- If you got injured, such that your physical ability on the mat was seriously in question, would that mean you are in the midst of quitting Aikido? What about when you are older? Not moving so well. Not going to classes all that much? Does that mean you are quitting Aikido? If not, why not?

- How physical does your practice have to be to be qualified as Aikido? For example, if you train once a week here, thrice a week there, no classes that week there, are you still qualifying as an Aikidoka? The same way someone that trains three hours a day? If not, what is the deciding element and where does it start to function toward identifying the spectrum of Aikido practice? In other words, when are you only dabbling and thus not training? Additionally, how intense does your physical practice have to be to qualify? Does any intensity qualify? Can it really just be a matter of "as long as you are moving"? If not, on what basis are you going to say one level of training is Aikido, while another level is not and is thus more like not moving at all?

- a real-life scenario: I have two students. One is young, male, single, student, smokes, drinks, can't seem to stop using pot though he has seizures frequently from a unknown brain disorder. While he's scheduled (we use committed schedules in our training) to attend classes 6 days a week, he only actually shows up to about 2 or 3 classes per week. On those days he comes, he's always late, sometimes even 20 minutes late. Our dojo has a courtesy protocol in place, where students have to call in and give notice when they cannot make their intended class - he makes the courtesy protocol only about 10% of the time he is supposed to. When he trains, he uses a lot of muscle and pent-up aggression to do the techniques, so that he can feel "martial". Etc. Etc. He's been training with me for about 6 months. I got another student. She is not so-young, nearing 40, single mom, two kids, one kid just receiving a bi-polar diagnosis, she is full-time student, ex-husband on restraining orders, facing poverty, family not supportive, plagued by a neurological disorder (yet to be diagnosed but MS-like) that has it impossible for her to walk or move normally, has her eyes unable to function well/properly, and is likely to have her back go into convulsions, ones that force her to double-over and collapse to the ground. She's been training with me over six years now. When she started, she was married, very physically fit and athletic, and living comfortably in expensive Santa Barbara. Currently, she is scheduled to train 4 days a week, she comes to every one of those classes almost always. When she has to, because of her school schedule, she has scheduled to train only on Saturday and Sunday - she comes to those classes all the time. Should she ever have to miss a class, she never fails to address the courtesy protocol. When she trains, she has no concept of "martial" nor does she desire any bit of it. She just trains. My question is this: Which student is doing Aikido? If you answer "both," which student has a more legitimate Aikido practice and why?

dmv

senshincenter
05-16-2007, 10:03 AM
Can a bird fly without its wings?
:circle: :square: :triangle:

Is a bird that cannot fly no longer a bird?

At the center of each shape lies the same immovable center.

Carlos Rivera
05-16-2007, 10:12 AM
Is a bird that cannot fly no longer a bird?

At the center of each shape lies the same immovable center.

Thanks for the discourse, perhaps training by other means could still be considered "in the spirit of Aikido." This was meant to emphasize the fact that there are many ways to achieve enlightenment. Not all manners would be considered Aikido, not everything can be labeled the same.

So, the "immovable center" is and at the same time may not be considered by the same name. True to your previous statements, one person may be doing Aikido and the other may not.

Thanks again.

"Caminante, no hay camino. . . se hace camino al andar."

happysod
05-16-2007, 10:33 AM
At the center of each shape lies the same immovable center. agreed, for aikido this would translate as physical practice in my opinion.

While I'm more than happy with your caveats with regard to the physical practice of aikido in the examples you gave, I would have to ask you one question - if someone had never actually practiced aikido in the dojo, would you consider them ever able to "do" aikido in the rest of their life?

For me, the answer would be no. Often, I read people claiming aikido does this for them and aikido principles teach us that, sometimes to the point that itís some sort of spiritual panacea for the world. Here, I disagree. Theses principles/effects attributed to aikido arenít unique to aikido, but one aspect where I do feel it has a claim to distinction (again, not uniqueness) is where it attempts to blend these ideas with martial practice. So, to cut a long answer short Ė no to the poll.

senshincenter
05-16-2007, 10:55 AM
Earlier, mention was made of Zen and its reliance on Zen practice, etc. Having done Zen practice, I can understand where one might be coming from when they want to point out the difference between actually engaging in the trials and/or ordeals (for example) of that practice and just reading about its philosophy in an Alan Watts book. Thus, I can understand how one might want to do the same here with Aikido practice. However, in Zen, in the Zen tradition, their are huge parts (huge because of their impact) of the discourse that uplift, admire, and place more value on the person that has no zen training but that has enlightenment. These folks, in fact, are not the ones seen as living in the "spirit of zen." They are Zen. In fact, the one's labeled with that kind of reducing descriptive are the one's in the temple, folks that have a practice but that show no real understanding. In these cases, these uplifted folks are used in the discourse to alert one to the obvious fact that the small self is more than likely to get stuck on the grossness of the practice itself, hiding its ego there, and in the end, as they say, "missing all of the heavenly glory for being stuck on the finger that points to the moon."

I am making no judgments here, but traditions the world over have always held that for the unenlightened there are many types of enlightenments; for the enlightened, there is only one. One of the reasons why this has been the case, as I said above, is that we as practitioners get our ego caught up in our own practice, where the practice actually comes to reinforce the small self rather than to purify it. For example, look at how we might want recognition for our trials and ordeals, for our small victories and hardships, etc., look how we contain in our efforts a strong sense of "defending" our art from what we want to call "impostors," etc. Look at our efforts to function within dualisms and to judge ourselves and others in terms of dichotomy. These things are all of ego, as they always are. As such, from this point of view, these things are not of Aikido, as the practitioner who practices them is not.

For me, when folks come in having read all about Aikido, or even when they come from other dojo, having practice what from our point of view is an Aikido lacking martial sense, I look to be able to see them as Aikido practitioners - not as non-Aikido practitioners. I look to be able to say to them, "Keep what you know and feel, let us continue to develop it here." Whenever I do this, I never feel threatened or that I am in need to protect something. I feel we are all on a Way, trying our best, making our mistakes and breakthroughs. Nothing is ever lost when I take this risk, when I understand it as no risk at all.

dmv

srjmsbnd
05-16-2007, 11:02 AM
As usual my best answer was eaten by the computer when I attempted to post it so here I go again.

As a strict materialist I can not find basis for anything human to exist outside of having a physical component, but:

In that the question was insufficent, it was was poorly written.

"Except for blending with the void, There is no way to understand The Way of Aiki.Morihei Ueshiba" as it was also stated that there was disappointment that some youngers did not spend sufficient time in meditation in which I derive great benefit.

This question is one that is in the center of many or most of the philosophical questions today, but where there are those that do not care for philosophical questions and merely approach life as a vulgar expression of survival, existing, success, accomplishment, and the ego of making money is a capitalist society, one can also ask weither Aikido would be Aikido with out the intellectual components to which I answer NO.

If the question was phrased differently to state that we already physically existing, and developed cognitively with full understanding of the basic principles of Aikido, that yes Aikido would exist outside of strict physical practice.

Physical practice implies physical existence so it incorporates all that implies by mere association.

In closing I can not find reconciliation with many in their approach to life and living especially those consumerists typified by "industrial: society as they tactically rush to and forth without consideration of any long term strategy of an real nature beyond their own mere existence temporal and flighting.

senshincenter
05-16-2007, 11:03 AM
If someone had never actually practiced aikido in the dojo, would you consider them ever able to "do" aikido in the rest of their life?

Since that would be the whole point of training, I would answer that question, "no." However, I would answer that question the same for anyone that is training but that is not training daily, that is training but that is not training in intense live-training environments, that is training but that is not working to develop a connection or relationship with the Sacred/Divine, or that is training but that has not problematized their ethical self. Like the person that has never actually trained, this other type of person that is training but not as described above is only likely to practice the art under the more pristine conditions of life - not all conditions of life, and thus not in the "rest of their life." This will be true whether we are talking about defending yourself in a real life and death violent struggle for survival or whether we are talking about having a crappy boss or whether one's marriage is on the rocks, etc.

my opinion,
dmv

happysod
05-16-2007, 11:18 AM
...not all conditions of life, and thus not in the "rest of their life."David, beautiful reply as always, but I'm afraid you're guilty of thinking I'm bright enough to explain myself correctly :D . My question should have read - if someone never practices any physical aikido, can you claim they ever have done aikido? Being a rather simple person, this is how I read the thrust of the poll so amount/type/effectiveness of physical practice then happily falls out of the picture and prevents me getting confused again.

ChrisMoses
05-16-2007, 11:24 AM
Short answer, No.

Longer answer, I think very few people who go to Aikido dojos and pay dues actually DO aikido. It's a physical art. It has to be a physical art. The art teaches through the body. It's easy to read what aikido teaches us, but until I can see and feel someone apply those concepts, they're not doing aikido. I'm kind of draconian however, hell I don't even thing *I'm* really doing aikido anymore...

Chris Li
05-16-2007, 01:19 PM
Short answer, No.

Longer answer, I think very few people who go to Aikido dojos and pay dues actually DO aikido. It's a physical art. It has to be a physical art. The art teaches through the body. It's easy to read what aikido teaches us, but until I can see and feel someone apply those concepts, they're not doing aikido. I'm kind of draconian however, hell I don't even thing *I'm* really doing aikido anymore...

Is teaching method inextricably linked to goals? If I learn how to read with whole language methods am ending up with something different than if I had learned to read with phonetic teaching methods?

One of the interesting things about the essays in Morihei Ueshiba's "Take Musu Aiki" is the almost total lack of discussion of anything related to physical practice. He does, however, discuss his concept of what the goals for Aikido are, and none of them seem, to me, to be specifically dependent upon physical training. In fact, at one point he even admits that fact, although he was at a loss as to what other methods would be practicable.

Now, physical training is certainly the engine that drives intensity in standard Aikido training, but there are certainly other ways of creating intensity, at least in theory.

Best,

Chris

ChrisMoses
05-16-2007, 01:52 PM
One of the interesting things about the essays in Morihei Ueshiba's "Take Musu Aiki" is the almost total lack of discussion of anything related to physical practice.

He also states, "We have to enter the main gate through budo, protect humanity from destruction, and dedicate ourselves in order to bring peace to humankind." (emphasis mine)

Chris Li
05-16-2007, 02:17 PM
He also states, "We have to enter the main gate through budo, protect humanity from destruction, and dedicate ourselves in order to bring peace to humankind." (emphasis mine)

Of course, budo is a recurring theme in Take Musu Aiki. It is not gospel, however, and he does admit the possibility of other methods of achieving the same goals.

For that matter, would planning and directing a strategic campaign be classed as budo? It certainly would under the classification of such things in Japan, but does not involve any physical practice...

Best,

Chris

Ron Tisdale
05-16-2007, 02:35 PM
I like the points that Chris Li brings out. The study of Heiho is certainly not a physical one, is it?

I used to think the only way to keiko in aikido was the physical practice, and I still think that is usually the case...but I feel like I have seen exceptions to that rule.

One notable exception was a very fine gentleman named Ubaldo who used to post on Aikido Journal. I still miss him. I think he did aikido.

Best,
Ron

ChrisMoses
05-16-2007, 03:05 PM
For that matter, would planning and directing a strategic campaign be classed as budo? It certainly would under the classification of such things in Japan, but does not involve any physical practice...

Best,

Chris

And yet most sogo bugei only taught heiho towards the END of the curriculum after their members had been indoctrinated into the physical methods and strategies of a ryu-ha. :D

To be clear, I'm not saying that lessons from aikido can't apply off the mat, but I don't think you could call a non-physical activity "aikido". At one workshop I attended years ago with Kurita Minouru, he went so far as to say that aikido only happened within a dojo.

I've learned some valuable life lessons through snowboarding and motorcycling, real deep valuable stuff. I could even explain what I've learned to someone else, and rationalize why these lessons applied outside of those very specific environments, but they wouldn't be snowboarding or riding. And even if they believed everything I said, those lessons would not have come to them through their bodies, at the risk of injury or death.

Chris Li
05-16-2007, 03:22 PM
To be clear, I'm not saying that lessons from aikido can't apply off the mat, but I don't think you could call a non-physical activity "aikido". At one workshop I attended years ago with Kurita Minouru, he went so far as to say that aikido only happened within a dojo.

So...

What is Aikido?
What are the specific goals of Aikido?
Is it possible to seperate those goals from the pedagogical method, and if not, then why not?

Best,

Chris

ChrisMoses
05-16-2007, 03:34 PM
So...

What is Aikido?
What are the specific goals of Aikido?
Is it possible to seperate those goals from the pedagogical method, and if not, then why not?

Best,

Chris

Shoot, I asked this several years ago over on AikidoJournal's forum and got a bunch of stock responses.

Frankly, I don't know anymore. No one has been able to offer me satisfactory answers to "What is Aikido." All of the things that are brought up as unique, I've found in other unrelated systems. I generally think of it as an off-shoot of Daito Ryu now. Perhaps OSensei really did transcend all that, but since none of his senior students seem to have understood what he was talking about, how are we ever going to find out? The closest group would probably be Inoue's Shin-ei Taido, but they don't consider themselves aikido either...

Chris Li
05-16-2007, 04:12 PM
Shoot, I asked this several years ago over on AikidoJournal's forum and got a bunch of stock responses.

Frankly, I don't know anymore. No one has been able to offer me satisfactory answers to "What is Aikido." All of the things that are brought up as unique, I've found in other unrelated systems. I generally think of it as an off-shoot of Daito Ryu now. Perhaps OSensei really did transcend all that, but since none of his senior students seem to have understood what he was talking about, how are we ever going to find out? The closest group would probably be Inoue's Shin-ei Taido, but they don't consider themselves aikido either...

I thought that Morihei Ueshiba was really pretty clear in "Take Musu Aiki", that's what he spends most of the book discussing...

If you don't know what it is, or what the goals are, then how do you know that practice of it requires physical training methods?

Best,

Chris

CitoMaramba
05-16-2007, 04:17 PM
I voted no.
Then I remembered the essay by Terry Dobson, "A Soft Answer" (http://easternhealingarts.com/Articles/softanswer.html)
I asked myself, "Was the old man in the story doing Aikido?"

Cheers!

aikishrine
05-16-2007, 04:57 PM
A couple of quick thoughts here, one reread" The Art of Peace"
and see what your answers might be, also hasn't it been said time and again that Aikido is a lot like moving zen, also ask your selves this, has anyone other that O'SENSEI ever really done AIKIDO?

ChrisMoses
05-16-2007, 06:04 PM
I thought that Morihei Ueshiba was really pretty clear in "Take Musu Aiki", that's what he spends most of the book discussing...


Chris, how many people that you know and train with approach aikido in a similar fashion to that laid out in Take Musu Aiki? I don't know any. None. Perhaps, as others have said, no one is actually doing aikido anymore? Perhaps I haven't read the book in question, I'm familiar with a series of lectures complied into "Takemusu Aiki" on Aikidojournal.com, is that what you're referring to or is it something else that isn't in my library?

Perhaps you'd like to answer your own questions and explain how aikido can be applied and learned totally removed from the physical practice of aikido?

senshincenter
05-16-2007, 06:04 PM
David, beautiful reply as always, but I'm afraid you're guilty of thinking I'm bright enough to explain myself correctly :D . My question should have read - if someone never practices any physical aikido, can you claim they ever have done aikido? Being a rather simple person, this is how I read the thrust of the poll so amount/type/effectiveness of physical practice then happily falls out of the picture and prevents me getting confused again.

Hi Ian,

Thanks for replying.

You are right on target with what I'm asking, actually. I understand that we may want to keep amount, type, and effectiveness out of the picture, or beyond question, but my mind is wondering on what basis shall we justify their exemption when it comes to explaining ourselves when we are saying that training in waza is vital to something qualifying as Aikido. I think if we can answer that question we are going to get one thing at the cost of the other. Specifically, I think we are only going to be able to say that these things are irrelevant to the issues at hand if we reduce Aikido training to some very mundane and superficial elements. Alternately, from the other side of the same coin, it is going to be logically impossible for Aikido to claim spiritual aspirations at the same time that it wishes to say if you do not practice waza (i.e. train the body, be of the body) you are not doing Aikido.

Of course, many folks have their way out of this pickle. They say or lean toward the position that Aikido should have no spiritual aspiration or that said spiritual aspirations are not necessary for Aikido to be Aikido - but from my perspective this too is just another reduction. If we look at the Founder's practice, using it here since most folks here are more familiar with it than we are with each others' practice, we can see that he sought not to reduce the art via either of these two options, and thus that it is possible to have a different kind of Aikido that does not all open itself to either of these reductions and/or to what these reductions often try to fight against (e.g. being flaky, self-deluded, etc.). As Chris pointed out, in his main writings, Osensei never makes a reference to anything remotely close to either of these two reductions (which is why I call them reductions and not just "positions"). In fact, he is always suggesting otherwise. I'm not stating this because I'm saying "Osensei said." I'm saying this because, as I just said, it demonstrates that there is another possibility here. With that other possibility, the "obviousness" of the two reductions just isn't so obvious anymore.

thanks,
dmv

senshincenter
05-16-2007, 06:22 PM
Now, physical training is certainly the engine that drives intensity in standard Aikido training, but there are certainly other ways of creating intensity, at least in theory.

Best,

Chris

Chiba Sensei said he uses the zafu toward this end. His reasoning was that the mat could never get intense enough, after a while, because it must always remain a partially controlled environment. In my experience, I not only feel the mat cannot get intense enough but that the cushion cannot either - for the same reason. For this reason, I try and look for two other areas of application/cultivation: law enforcement applications (which can get very intense, but not that often) and everyday relationship with those around me (which is by far the most intense training areas around). Don't get me wrong, it's always going to be easy to practice various forms of ignorance, alienation, and apathy, with our spouses, our children, our aging parents, our co-workers, our friends, and those that are strangers to us. But, if you commitment yourself to a broader application of Aiki, where wisdom, intimacy, and openness have to be present in everything you do, say, and think, then your day-to-day encounters with others are going to make the mat, any mat, feel like a break from it all.

dmv

senshincenter
05-16-2007, 06:24 PM
Of course, budo is a recurring theme in Take Musu Aiki. It is not gospel, however, and he does admit the possibility of other methods of achieving the same goals.

For that matter, would planning and directing a strategic campaign be classed as budo? It certainly would under the classification of such things in Japan, but does not involve any physical practice...

Best,

Chris

I think I would read this the same way, were Budo is not a restriction to martial techniques or the practice of martial technique. I think if such a restriction was ever understood to be necessary, there would have been no reason to borrow burgeoning Zen praxis to make martial practice a Way.

dmv

senshincenter
05-16-2007, 06:26 PM
I voted no.
Then I remembered the essay by Terry Dobson, "A Soft Answer" (http://easternhealingarts.com/Articles/softanswer.html)
I asked myself, "Was the old man in the story doing Aikido?"

Cheers!

This is a good point.
Thanks,
dmv

Chris Li
05-16-2007, 06:30 PM
Chris, how many people that you know and train with approach aikido in a similar fashion to that laid out in Take Musu Aiki? I don't know any. None. Perhaps, as others have said, no one is actually doing aikido anymore? Perhaps I haven't read the book in question, I'm familiar with a series of lectures complied into "Takemusu Aiki" on Aikidojournal.com, is that what you're referring to or is it something else that isn't in my library?

The part that you're talking about is just a section of the beginning of "Takemusu Aiki".

I know a couple of people who try to approach Aikido in a similar fashion. Few with the exact same religious perspective, but Kanshu Sunadomari comes fairly close in that respect, I think.

Perhaps you'd like to answer your own questions and explain how aikido can be applied and learned totally removed from the physical practice of aikido?

First you'll have to tell me what you mean by "Aikido" - if you mean the spiritual/philosophical goals espoused in "Take Musu Aiki" than take a look around - there are any number of training systems that don't involve physical practice of a martial art.

Best,

Chris

statisticool
05-16-2007, 06:51 PM
No, but it is certainly better than sitting watching TV or doing absolutely nothing.

Ron Tisdale
05-17-2007, 07:35 AM
Agreed Chris M. But somehow I still think there are exceptions, like with every rule...

Best,
Ron

ChrisMoses
05-17-2007, 08:24 AM
First you'll have to tell me what you mean by "Aikido" - if you mean the spiritual/philosophical goals espoused in "Take Musu Aiki" than take a look around - there are any number of training systems that don't involve physical practice of a martial art.

Best,

Chris

Now we're getting into a "you first" thing...

I think one of the areas of confusion here is that (as I've stated elsewhere)I believe the goal is not a defining feature of a budo. Most true budo aim to achieve the same higher goals, so therefore I consider the path (michi) to be the defining characteristic of any art. It names a road, not a town.

ChrisMoses
05-17-2007, 08:29 AM
Perhaps I should pose this question, (particularly to David and Chris).

How would you react if your teacher promoted someone who had never set foot into an aikido dojo, or examined the physical side of the art for a minute over you in your own dojo? Do you think that that person would be capable of preserving the art? How would you fell about that promotion?

If it's possible to practice aikido without any physical component whatsoever, it should be possible to master aikido along those same lines.

Chris Li
05-17-2007, 08:40 AM
Perhaps I should pose this question, (particularly to David and Chris).

How would you react if your teacher promoted someone who had never set foot into an aikido dojo, or examined the physical side of the art for a minute over you in your own dojo? Do you think that that person would be capable of preserving the art? How would you fell about that promotion?

You mean, like Masao Tonedate :) ? It doesn't much matter to me what rank anybody has.

If you're talking about instruction, I wouldn't expect somebody not trained in certain things to be instructing in those things, no matter their rank. Just as I don't like it when Aikido people not well trained in a weapon teach that weapon, regardless of their rank. Other than that it really doesn't matter much does it?

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
05-17-2007, 08:46 AM
Now we're getting into a "you first" thing...

Well, I can't comment on a question unless you ask it - and you say that you don't really know what Aikido is, so I'm not sure what you're asking...

I think one of the areas of confusion here is that (as I've stated elsewhere)I believe the goal is not a defining feature of a budo. Most true budo aim to achieve the same higher goals, so therefore I consider the path (michi) to be the defining characteristic of any art. It names a road, not a town.

Maybe that's a difference in concept with Morihei Ueshiba.

So in your view, Nishio, Saito and Yamaguchi all practiced different martial arts?

Best,

Chris

ChrisMoses
05-17-2007, 09:48 AM
Well, I can't comment on a question unless you ask it - and you say that you don't really know what Aikido is, so I'm not sure what you're asking...

Maybe that's a difference in concept with Morihei Ueshiba.

So in your view, Nishio, Saito and Yamaguchi all practiced different martial arts?

Best,

Chris

Here's the deal, I genuinely don't know what makes Aikido Aikido. Here's my working definition, "Japanese Martial art based on the teachings of Morihei Ueshiba based on the technical syllabus of Daito Ryu." I can't put any more specifics on it than that because, as you kind of point out with your sample Sensei, it varies so incredibly much after that. The only thread I can find is a general similarity in techniques and a cult of personality around the founder. If Aikido is supposed to create a golden bridge, then it's failed. There are more people doing aikido now than ever before, and the world is no better off. Tensions are rising between cultures. If it's supposed to make you a better person, why are so many of the senior shihan so despicable? Womanizers, alcoholics, abusive to their students. One minute someone is the shining light of aikido, writing books about the deep moral lessons of the art, then it comes out that he's been sleeping with underage students, or maybe just 1/2 of the women in his own dojo. Perhaps it's a physical metaphor for conflict resolution (this is a very popular view here in the NW). Why then are there so many organizations? Peter Goldsbury has even stated that in his view (and I'm paraphrasing) that the nature of aikido (at least in Japan) does not even really allow for a resolution of conflict between members of the same organization. Bernie Lau has talked about how his teachers in Hawaii settled some of their differences, they locked the door to the dojo and punched and kicked each other until one cried unkle. If the ideas presented in books and lectures like the ones you bring up are so central to the art that they could be approached without ever doing the physical side of aikido practice, why have they been nearly completely dropped by the Aikikai?

So I'll again turn the questions around to you, "What is Aikido?" Would you say that Nishio, Yamaguchi and Saito are all doing Aikido, and if so, what is the common thread that makes aikido unique and distinct from other martial practices?

Chris Li
05-17-2007, 11:25 AM
So I'll again turn the questions around to you, "What is Aikido?" Would you say that Nishio, Yamaguchi and Saito are all doing Aikido, and if so, what is the common thread that makes aikido unique and distinct from other martial practices?

I would say that Aikido is the quest to meet the goals defined in "Take Musu Aiki" by Morihei Ueshiba. Yamaguchi, Nishio and Saito all worked towards those goals in their own ways - and I have never seen those goals stated in that way as the primary focus of any other martial art.

That it hasn't solved all of the worlds problems doesn't make the ideal any less valuable, any more than violence in India negates Ghandi, or racial violence negates Martin Luthar King.

Best,

Chris

ChrisMoses
05-17-2007, 11:37 AM
I would say that Aikido is the quest to meet the goals defined in "Take Musu Aiki" by Morihei Ueshiba.

So would you say that ANY practice which strives to meet those goals should be considered Aikido?

Edit: Unless I'm mistaken, this text still has not been translated into English. If this is indeed the clear and rational explanation for what we've all been studying, why is it still largely unavailable to English speaking practitioners? Why wasn't this THE priority for the Aikikai and other groups. Please note, I'm not saying it isn't as central and important as you insist, but since I have no access to it, I'm at a loss to comment on it in a meaningful way. If I'm mistaken and it has been translated, point me the way, and I'll gladly order and read it.

Chris Li
05-17-2007, 12:04 PM
So would you say that ANY practice which strives to meet those goals should be considered Aikido?

Basically speaking, yes, although I'm sure that someone will come up with exceptions and caveats.

Edit: Unless I'm mistaken, this text still has not been translated into English. If this is indeed the clear and rational explanation for what we've all been studying, why is it still largely unavailable to English speaking practitioners? Why wasn't this THE priority for the Aikikai and other groups. Please note, I'm not saying it isn't as central and important as you insist, but since I have no access to it, I'm at a loss to comment on it in a meaningful way. If I'm mistaken and it has been translated, point me the way, and I'll gladly order and read it.

Because it's so difficult to read, even in Japanese? Or maybe the copyright is still owned by the Byakko Shinko-kai. Or maybe it's the fact that good translation costs a bundle and there's a somewhat limited market for this kind of work.

I don't know but it's really the only text in which the founder speaks at length, in his own words, on the goals and purposes of Aikido, so I would consider it fairly important for anyone studying the "Japanese Martial art based on the teachings of Morihei Ueshiba". FWIW, there is another collection of essays by Morihei Ueshiba published in "Aikido Shinzui" (this one by the Aikikai), but that one hasn't been translated either. How many years was it before the Gospels or the Tripitika were translated into common languages?

Best,

Chris

ChrisMoses
05-17-2007, 12:20 PM
Basically speaking, yes, although I'm sure that someone will come up with exceptions and caveats.



Well at least that explains some of the confusion here. Since you're asking me to read something which I have no access to to appreciate where you're coming from, I cannot speak intelligently on your comments. I must say that I disagree however, that a goal or end result defines a path. All types of psychotherapy have the goal to improve the mental health of the patient, yet there are very real and meaningful differences between say Existential Phenomenological Therapy, Jungian Analysis and Behavioral Therapy (for example). Same goal, different thing. Since most people will never achieve the goal in question, the path walked is by far the more meaningful point of discussion.

senshincenter
05-17-2007, 12:30 PM
At one level, I have to agree with Chris Li - on all his points. On another level, I do get where you are coming from Christian, but perhaps your position is based in large part upon the preservation of a training paradigm and this has you asking certain questions (coming up with certain answers) that someone else whose position is based upon the achievement of a goal wouldn't ask (or answer the same). For example, if Aikido is found within the training of Ikkyo, and only there, then one is going to ask, "How can you say you are doing Aikido, if you have never done Ikkyo." The obvious answer is going to be: "You can't." But, if you understand Aikido to not be limited to things like Ikkyo, all you are going to do is wonder how anyone could be thinking that doing Ikkyo is practicing Aikido.

For me, I like to make use of Ikkyo (i.e. Aikido's training paradigm), but I do not limit myself to Ikkyo because I hold Aikido to more than Ikkyo - in the same way that Spirit is more than religion, in the same way that an arm-bar is more than Ikkyo, etc. To borrow a metaphor again, Ikkyo is the vessel; Aikido is the other shore. Some might be threatened by this, or some might feel that there is a lot at risk in such a view, particularly over the LOSS OF IKKYO. Additionally, some might think this is crazy since there is nothing beyond Ikkyo (which leads one to a very difficult time in defining and contrasting Aikido with other arts). However, for me, this is not the case. That vessel is pretty damn important, as it can get me to the other shore. I do not need it to be the only boat in the world for me to keep it important and/or for me to make use of it. So, I talk like I talk, but I do a hell of a lot of Ikkyo.

dmv

George S. Ledyard
05-17-2007, 08:21 PM
I wrote a piece a while back about whether there was really anything we could really call Aikido. It might be relevant to the discussion on some level...

http://www.aikidojournal.com/index?id=259

L. Camejo
05-18-2007, 05:38 AM
I voted no.

Can one express the non-physical principles of Aikido without a physical practice? Of course.

Can one express the particular physical mind/body coordination practice method founded by Ueshiba M. called Aikido without a physical practice? No imho.

This reminds me of something I read on Judo recently. In the specific sense Judo is the method founded by Kano J. in the broader sense of principles and human development Aikido and Judo have the same goals. Kano called Aikido "true Judo" I believe. So if we are doing Aikido are we automatically doing Judo? Where do we specify the definition?

I think if we become too general in our definitions in the end we define nothing.

Imho.

happysod
05-18-2007, 06:20 AM
...I think if we become too general in our definitions in the end we define nothing nice post Larry, although I'd claim only shodothugs should qualify wrt judo as they're the nasty types who embrace external competition.

I'd actually go one stage further here. If you never practice the physical aspect of aikido, why bother calling what you're doing aikido?

I can understand people using examples of non-physical interactions to promote aikido, even using the term "that's true aikido" as a high compliment (if somewhat biased and a bit arrogant to my mind). However, why anyone who embodies such a "spiritual summit" would want to be associated with a bunch of badly dressed trannys is a bit beyond me. Anyway, if I didn't get to hit someone (in a nice harmonious way of course) my own spirit would reach a very great nadir rather quickly.

L. Camejo
05-18-2007, 07:13 AM
only shodothugs should qualify wrt judo as they're the nasty types who embrace external competition.Oh yeah, well your hakama looks funny.:p :D

LC:ai::ki:

Dirk Hanss
05-18-2007, 08:08 AM
I wrote a piece a while back about whether there was really anything we could really call Aikido. It might be relevant to the discussion on some level...

http://www.aikidojournal.com/index?id=259

Thank you George,
I like the essay, while I wondered, what it helps us inthis particular question.

Only after Larry's comment, that I see, it matches perfectly.

Ueshiba M. called his first book about techniques Budo, not aiki(ju)jutsu, not aiki-budo, not aikido, as that name was invented later. While he taught some, probably a lot of techniques, I do not heard him telling his students, that specific techniques are not aikido or that whatever one does is not aikido unless you do a specific technique (except ikkyo probably, but that could be just have been taken as one example).

If there is only "budo" and not different types of budo (I refer to the little part I understood from Saotome's lectures), and budo is the Path of Protection, where is exact border to call something aikido or not. If we cannot find it in technique, can we find it beyond technique - with or without?

Nevertheless there are things out there, I would not call something I could see aikido in. That are paths, which use the same techniques, we do, and paths without techniques. And while something without physical training could be some optional complement to physical aikido, it would not be sufficient for "my aikido".

best regards

Dirk

George S. Ledyard
05-18-2007, 10:44 AM
Aikido is all about connection. Training is about realizing the essential connectedness of all human beings and beyond that, all elements in the universe. But one of the things that makes it Aikido is the we should be able to manifest that understanding in our bodies as well as on an emotional and intellectual level. It's fundamental goal is Body Mind Spirit unification.

Doran Sensei told me that he had once done some training for a group of fairly senior Zen practitioners. These were folks who had a fairly deep understanding of the true nature of things from their training. Doran Sensei said that it was really funny though, because when it came to their bodies, they made all the same mistakes that any beginner makes. Their training hadn't focused on what I would call "body centered" wisdom.

To be Aikido there has to be some physical practice that focuses on manifesting ones understanding through the body. I am not at all sure that O-Sensei actually cared about what form that took. He was always doing things like giving some master dance teacher rank in Aikido. I think for him it was the wholeness of understanding on the Body Mind Spirit that made it Aikido, not just some great insight, no matter how profound, that left the body out.

On the other hand, I think that O-Sensei would have looked at Systema as a form of Aikido that someone from another culture had come up with. It's purpose is precisely the same as Aikido, it is body centered practice, has a deep spiritual underpinning, and its focus is on Body Mind Spirit unification. I could easily envision O-Sensei whipping off a certificate of achievement in Aikido and giving it to Michael Ryabko if he had had a chance to see him.

Qatana
05-18-2007, 11:26 AM
Both yes and no. The Energy Pracitce of Bob Nadeau and Wendy Palmer's Concious Embodiment both incorporate physical practice, but entirely Non-martial. However both of these practices are clearly aikido, to me.Connection, extension, center, circle,protection, compassion ;principles all identical.
And i have mentioned before, when looked at with aiki eyes, Tango is aikido, though possibly not budo. I do other things which probably are budo but also, entirley non-martial...

senshincenter
05-18-2007, 11:55 AM
Doran Sensei told me that he had once done some training for a group of fairly senior Zen practitioners. These were folks who had a fairly deep understanding of the true nature of things from their training. Doran Sensei said that it was really funny though, because when it came to their bodies, they made all the same mistakes that any beginner makes. Their training hadn't focused on what I would call "body centered" wisdom.

As I said, I do understand this point of view, but the kink, for me, is that it kinds of lends itself to the position that once we are old, too old to train anymore, for example, that we are done practicing Aikido. I'm not sure what kind of "life practice" that would be if it was something as temporal as our physical selves. Or, is it enough that we were once able to express Aikido with our bodies? Is that what is supposed to count? If it is, for me, that re-raises the issues I raised before: On what basis could we support such a position? There seems to be something faulty with the notion that it's enough to have at least embodied it once - for example.

On another note: I too have had this experience with folks that are quite expert on the cushion, only I understood it differently. For me, as an instructor that looks to the spiritual reasons behind the physical, when I saw these "awakened" masters come to the mat and look like any other beginner, I didn't just see, for example, a lack of physical coordination, or an inability to manifest their insight physically. This was because it wasn't like they just couldn't tell their right from their left or because they had no physical conditioning or sense of balance. They had these things, of course, but when they didn't know their right from their left, or when they got pre-exhausted, or when their feet were all over the ground, they also had their breathing stop, their shoulders tense, etc. In other words, they were reacting to the fear. Thus, what I saw was not an inability to transfer an insight from the mind to the body. What I saw was a more keen view into what the cushion had not yet touched - master or no master on the zafu. In other words, from another post I made, the mat was more amplifying than the cushion, as a marriage is more amplifying than the mat, etc. The mat is more revealing and all we are seeing is the spiritual immaturity that remains unreconciled. If it was otherwise, we would not see the same habitual reactions to fear - for example - as it is possible to train without fear and to learn differently (particularly a lot faster) when we are not burdened by fear. I am thinking mostly of my kids in my children's class. For the most part, they can pick something up within fifteen minutes and train with it at level that would take my average adult member about three weeks (with 3 to 4 classes per week) to learn.

fwiw,
dmv