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PeterR
11-13-2001, 08:13 AM
Not sure where to put this but there is an article available on serious injuries and death during Aikido practice.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/cgi-bin/ubb/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=9&t=000956

I know the author, having read many of his articles, learned Aikido from two of his students and on occaision himself, and of course shared beer.

ian
11-14-2001, 04:42 AM
Thankyou Peter,

Definately recommend to everyone to read this.

as an instructor at a University I found this very important reading. I think many people who initially come to aikido come with a 'competitve' mind and try to do techniques very hard or try to resist, causing alot of injury for beginners. Also, particularly younger people, want to be very vigorous and tend to be less aware of the potenital to harm the other person.

I especially liked the quote;
"in the Sumo world, though butting practice is frequent, cerebral disorders are rare."

Ian

L. Camejo
11-14-2001, 07:26 PM
Hi Peter,

I was very alarmed at reading that report, being a University instructor also. I think it should be read by all of us as a reminder to be vigilant of the safety practices in our respective dojos.

I have a question though. What are those particular neck exercises referred to in the report? I would like to include them in our class warm ups also.

Arigato Gozaimashita
L.C.:ai::ki:

PeterR
11-15-2001, 07:24 AM
Basically the warm-up exercises related to the neck, done to an 8 count are:

hand to the left side of head - push against
hand to the right side - push against
hand to the front - push against
linked hands to the back - push against

rapid turn of head to the right
rapid turn to the left
tilting to the right
tilting to the left
tilting back and forth (head forward and back)
shaking the head tilted back
circular motion of head both ways

a series of progressive archings (hips only, back only, hips and back) ending up supporting the body with the head and feet only. Not recommended right away for beginners.

L. Camejo
11-15-2001, 01:17 PM
Thanks for the info Peter, actually the majority of this exercise is already done as part of our "official" warm up in Shodokan.

I'll put the rest to use immediately.

Arigato Gozaimashita
L.C.:ai::ki:

PeterR
11-15-2001, 01:31 PM
The isometric neck exercises are not done at Honbu - I learned them under Shishida's students and use them in my classes. I had a long skinny neck.

Jem8472
11-15-2001, 03:48 PM
Hello all,

from reading that report, the thing I get form it is not to do anything too much, if you look at the table, a lot of the deat or injuries cam from doing a lot of the same thing. One girl died after doing 1hour 20 mins of break falls, the on the 75th!! repetition of Iriminage she basically collapsed, she said she did 280 breakfalls that day. In my opinon that is far too much to do espically she was a beginner!

What do you all think of that do you think it is too much to do 280 break falls for a beginner?


anyway better go now.

Jem

Abasan
11-15-2001, 09:36 PM
After looking at the numbers and hours practiced by these ppl, I'm feeling quite inadequate. :rolleyes:

Can anyone tell me whats the normal practice like for their respective dojos?

Over at my place, we just about have time for maybe 8-12 repetitions of a single technique as nage and same as uke. But if people are doing it by the hundreds.... :eek:

guest1234
11-15-2001, 10:47 PM
Might not be the norm, but long stretches of one technique can occur in a class. In my first dojo one Saturday three of us showed up for a one hour class. Sensei demo'd shomenuchi irimi nage, and turn us loose as a three-some in a class that he stretched to over two hours. You were expected to give a very committed attack, get up immediately and attack again. Sensei would make comments as we worked but only once did he briefly stop us to correct a point, then just had us continuously do the technique for over two hours. Doesn't take that long to do irimi nage on a committed uke, and uke can pop right back up...after a while the other female in our threesome dropped out, the lone fellow and I continued on: I'd bet we got many hundred throws in two hours.

Abasan
11-16-2001, 01:28 AM
wow. i hope my sensei doesn't read this and get the same idea. :p

Chocolateuke
11-18-2001, 09:57 PM
CA thats kinda like how the yoshinkan do their teaching ( at least in my class)... well. gotta sleep

Richard Harnack
11-26-2001, 04:37 PM
Over the years I have heard of Aikidoka being paralyzed or killed while taking ukemi for particular techniques. The main one involved is Shihonage because if Nage jerks down very hard as Uke moves forward, Uke can flip up and come down on their neck.

I have never understood this type of training and most likely never will. In class it is Nage's RESPONSIBILITY to take care of Uke. Such behavior on the part of Nage is criminal, not to mention poor training.

In regards the situation where the woman died as a result of too many breakfalls in a short period of time, where was her instructor? Was the instructor qualified to be teaching? Given that the instructor had a student die under their tutelage, I would presume that the instructor really is not fit to be trusted with students.

Too many breakfalls over a period without sufficient rest and recovery and water, can lead to a bruising of the kidneys. Ultimatley, this bruising can lead to kidney failure.

"Train hard" does not mean "train hard and stupid".

For me it is always "why" the student is training that determines "how" they train. Instructors also should be clear on their "why" they are teaching and "how" they are teaching. They should be clear to all of their students on both of these.

guest1234
11-26-2001, 05:34 PM
Hey Dallas,

Well, that explains it, I guess...Sensei got his first few dan degrees in Yoshinkan (Yoshinkai?), but then also studied under Chiba Sensei as well, before forming his own association, so especially since I was new to all this, I never knew if it was the former influence, the later, or just his personality that made our classes the way they were.:eek:

I do know that between his insistence on correct behavior and insistence on dedicated training, dojos have only seemed easier as I've moved around---but it's all good:D

Ghost Fox
12-04-2001, 09:37 AM
I think we are forgetting that we do train in budo, a martial way. These techniques can be fatal when applied correctly. Death can happen at any instant. Bad ukemi, failure to get out of the way of a bokken strike, pushing ourselves too hard, negligence and malice is not required for injury. The gods do as they will.

Aikido is oftentime preached as being the martial art that everyone can perform. I think this encourages a lot of people who probably should not train in budo to join an aikido dojo. Budo is hardwork; it is a method for spiritual warriors to forge their body, mind and spirt. It is not for everyone.

There are various paths a person can follow to The Way (e.g. yoga, shodo), but budo is the only path where we learn to kill as we undertake our spiritual journey. Death on the mat is a real possibility. Everytime I walk onto the mat I acknowledge that, as should everyone and pray that my uke and I walkaway unharmed. By living under the blade we learn that life is truly delicate and precious. Every moment is a gift from the Divine.

May the God and Goddess have mercy on those who died along the path, but it is better to die along the path then to have never walked it at all.

:triangle: :circle: :square:

PeterR
12-04-2001, 09:57 AM
Its a great post Damion. It speaks to the required mind set for any sort of Budo. The intensity of the training does not always have to be at the edge but the acknowledgement of the possibilities must be there.

I really do think Aikido is a martial art that anyone can practice, and the social aspect of a dojo is a major plus for me, but when you train you must have the martial focus.

Edward
12-04-2001, 10:52 AM
Aikido might have a false reputation of being soft and safe. I have practiced in the past Judo and Thai Boxing for many years and never witnessed or heard of a deadly or near dealy incident, untill I started up Aikido. In my understanding, Aikido is the only MA where someone gives himself willingly without resistance for another person to apply very dangerous throwing and arm/wrist locking techniques. During this year, I have witnessed a huge (1.90 meters and 100 Kgs) 2 Dan black belt throw a 7 Kyu (out of 10 kyu at our school) student with a Kokyu Nage and kept holding the arm untill Uke landed very heavily and almost vertically on the top of his head. We all feared for our friend's life, as he was unconscious for a few minutes. He went later to the hospital, had to wear a neck brace for 1 month, and ever since doesn't want to hear anything about Aikido. Of course the second Dan student is still throwing people around almost carelessly (I say almost because he has been reprimanded severely by Sensei, but some people are just mentally sick and cannot stop hurting others).

Anyhow, it would be interesting to know how many of this site's visitors have actually witnessed such accidents in order to establish some kind of pattern of frequency or severity of accidents.

Be safe,
Edward

davem
12-04-2001, 04:18 PM
Damion, I think you hit the nail right on the head. You have voiced what I have been trying to voice to myself. Thank you.

Ed, I believe you asked about accidents, as of yet, the only aikido accidents I have seen are the occasional cuts on the feet that come from nail scratches. It seems to be fairly common, having happened twice in my dojo in a one month period, is it common for others? Other then that, this ar and this dojo is probably the safest pairing I have ever been exposed to. Our sensei is great, cares for all his students, and as a result all of the students are relaxed, happy, and seemingly without ego. Previously in other arts I have seen many bad things, breaks, dislocations... one 'accident' in kenpo has damaged my left hand to the point where I can dislocate my fingers with little challenge.

What I am wondering is how important is the neck in keeping ukemi safe? And what steps can one take to strengthen the neck muscles?

PeterR
12-04-2001, 04:30 PM
Originally posted by davem
What I am wondering is how important is the neck in keeping ukemi safe? And what steps can one take to strengthen the neck muscles?
I suggest you take a look at the original message (mine by the way) and the article it points to. Also the early discussion in the thread revolved around the neck.

Richard Harnack
12-04-2001, 08:14 PM
Originally posted by Ghost Fox
...Aikido is oftentime preached as being the martial art that everyone can perform. I think this encourages a lot of people who probably should not train in budo to join an aikido dojo. Budo is hardwork; it is a method for spiritual warriors to forge their body, mind and spirt. It is not for everyone.

There are various paths a person can follow to The Way (e.g. yoga, shodo), but budo is the only path where we learn to kill as we undertake our spiritual journey. Death on the mat is a real possibility. Everytime I walk onto the mat I acknowledge that, as should everyone and pray that my uke and I walkaway unharmed. By living under the blade we learn that life is truly delicate and precious. Every moment is a gift from the Divine.


Aikido is an art that anyone can learn and perform. What we are discussing is at what level particular people want to train. Obviously you take your training very seriously as evidenced by the "death on the mat" statement.

So be it.

However, the martial attitude is no excuse for dangerous and malicious behavior towards others, in fact it is a complete misunderstanding of "budo" to pretend otherwise.

"The way of the samurai is the way of death" is a statement often quoted from the Hagakure. The kicker to this statement is that it is your own death that one is confronting, not the inflicting on someone else death.

O' Sensei made many statements about Aikido giving life and being in tune with life. He also encouraged us to "practice in a vibrant and joyful spirit". Those persons who inflict injury on others in training are not practicing "budo" if we are to follow O' Sensei on this.

True there are many other paths to follow and all who desire to walk a path should be allowed to discover which for themselves. Those who choose Aikido should be encouraged whenever possible, not injured by some overly "serious" student who fails in their responsiblity to take care of their partner.

Edward
12-04-2001, 09:03 PM
I wonder what Mr. Goldsbury meant when he said on Aikijournal's bulletin board regarding this very subject, I quote:

"I think the matter of 'hazing' in Japan has to be seen in a certain context (and I am reminded of one of Ellis Amdur's pieces in AN/AJ about O Sensei turning a blind eye to obvious and wanton violence occuring under his very eyes. I myself have seen the late Kisshomaru Ueshiba do the same thing in the Hombu)."

I have seen a lot of footages of Osensei during which the training seems very intense but very relaxed in the same time. Not the kind of training which would cause serious unjuries. On the other hand, I know from first hand sources that one of Osensei's former Uchi Deshi's in France (not Tamura Sensei) used to force his students to do 500 to 1000 Zempo Ukemis non stop. I understand from the report that this could be fatal.
I would appreciate any comments.

unsound000
12-05-2001, 03:05 AM
I found a web site that says even the progressive arching using the head (or wrestlers bridge) can cause injury. Check it out.

http://www.indiana.edu/~preschal/resource/digests/december/dec99/digestdec992.html

Listed under exercise concerns.

I would recommend bridging without using the head.


Originally posted by PeterR
Basically the warm-up exercises related to the neck, done to an 8 count are:

hand to the left side of head - push against
hand to the right side - push against
hand to the front - push against
linked hands to the back - push against

rapid turn of head to the right
rapid turn to the left
tilting to the right
tilting to the left
tilting back and forth (head forward and back)
shaking the head tilted back
circular motion of head both ways

a series of progressive archings (hips only, back only, hips and back) ending up supporting the body with the head and feet only. Not recommended right away for beginners.

Ghost Fox
12-05-2001, 08:53 AM
Originally posted by Richard Harnack


Aikido is an art that anyone can learn and perform. What we are discussing is at what level particular people want to train. Obviously you take your training very seriously as evidenced by the "death on the mat" statement.
I don't believe aikido is an art that anyone can learn or perform. Some people just do not have the mental discipline to understand the metaphysical theories behind aikido and budo, while other don't have the physical dexterity or stamina necessary to learn the mechanical complexities.

I do believe that all people can benefit from the ideals that aikido preaches. That is peace, harmony, and non-confrontation, but the mat is a sacred ritual space. People confuse a dojo with a gym; a dojo is a place where people go to learn about The Way. Just like not everyone belongs in a Catholic Cathedral or Taoist Monastery, not everyone belongs on the mat.

Originally posted by Richard Harnack


However, the martial attitude is no excuse for dangerous and malicious behavior towards others, in fact it is a complete misunderstanding of "budo" to pretend otherwise.
I completely agree with you, if you read my post you will see that I state, "negligence and malice is not required for injury", budo is INHERIENTLY dangerous. Proper protocols and safeguards reduce the likelihood of injury, but they do not completely eliminate their possibility. Each year people are accidentally killed by firearms even though all the proper safeguards where in place. Things of a martial nature such as budo, firearms, knives can kill, it is intimately woven into their creation.

Originally posted by Richard Harnack


"The way of the samurai is the way of death" is a statement often quoted from the Hagakure. The kicker to this statement is that it is your own death that one is confronting, not the inflicting on someone else death.
Again I totally agree. The confrontation of death and our own mortality is an ecstatic experience that must be embraced by all. Most people choose to live their entire life avoiding thoughts of their own mortality, this is a prison. People who truly practice budo understand this, and choose to face death and by doing so they find liberation. When I face an uke on the mat, I realize that we are participating in a intensely passionate and sacred moment. Aside from sexual intimacy there is no closer experience two people can share. When uke and nage face-off, it is a ritualistic recreation of two samurai in a dual to the death. I embrace my aikido, and hopefully death, the way I embrace my lover. Two people consumed in a mutual carnal experience whose only goal is to blend their individual egos and for one perfect moment become one.

Originally posted by Richard Harnack


O' Sensei made many statements about Aikido giving life and being in tune with life. He also encouraged us to "practice in a vibrant and joyful spirit". Those persons who inflict injury on others in training are not practicing "budo" if we are to follow O' Sensei on this.
This is the goal I inspire to in my practice; it is my single motivation in aikido. Masters such as O'sensei are in such accord with the universe that their execution of technique is perfect. I make no such claims. I do my best to make sure my uke is unhurt during practice, and I have never seriously injured anyone on the mat. In my dojo we don't blame each other for the small bumps and bruises we obtain during practice. We don't even say sorry. We check to see if the other person is okay, but we all know pain is part of process. People often seek someone to blame, it has to be someone's fault, somebody has to have made a mistake, and who due I sue. This is the sniveling mentality that is destroying our culture, somethings just happen.

Originally posted by Richard Harnack


True there are many other paths to follow and all who desire to walk a path should be allowed to discover which for themselves. Those who choose Aikido should be encouraged whenever possible, not injured by some overly "serious" student who fails in their responsiblity to take care of their partner.
Serious, I don't think people are serious enough. I am a fanatic just like Ueshiba. O'sensei trained his student in Suwariwaza until they bled; he trained them rigorously for hours on end. They called his dojo at Ushigome the Hell Dojo. I love the people I train with and some of them have become like family to me. I would never do anything intentionally to hurt them, but I also know that some of them will be called upon to use their aikido to save their very lives. I would be hurting them even more if I didn't give them 100% of myself and demand the same in return. Someone on aikiweb has an excellent quote on their closing statement. "Iron sharpens iron so does a man sharpens the continence on their friend."

:triangle: :circle: :square:

Edward
12-05-2001, 11:02 AM
It has been proven that boxing is harmful to the brain. In a typical 1 hour Aikido training, we do fall at least a 100 times. This averages to maybe 600 times a week. I am sure that even though shocks are much less powerful than in boxing, there must be some damage which occurs....

Erik
12-05-2001, 05:16 PM
It's not always overtraining or excessive ukemi. One student I know of was kicked in the head during her 5th kyu test. She was leaning too much. It caused a blood clot which led to a stroke and brain damage. This happened in a very tame dojo by the way. Another student I know of was warming up doing back rolls when a beginner rolled into her. She wound up paralyzed. Another sad part of that one is that her husband is an Aikido instructor and may even have been teaching that class.

In my own case, I once wound up landing on the back of my neck. My neck went pop-pop-pop just like a chiropractor working on it. I still feel that injury a couple of years later and consider myself fortunate that I can still walk.

I also had a knife stuck in my shoulder in what I consider to be the stupidest thing I've ever been a part of. Not sure I could have avoided that one unless I'd walked out of the dojo and at the time wasn't grounded enough to have done so.

Sometimes, I wonder how people survive to old age.

Peter Goldsbury
12-05-2001, 05:41 PM
Originally posted by Edward
I wonder what Mr. Goldsbury meant when he said on Aikijournal's bulletin board regarding this very subject, I quote:

"I think the matter of 'hazing' in Japan has to be seen in a certain context (and I am reminded of one of Ellis Amdur's pieces in AN/AJ about O Sensei turning a blind eye to obvious and wanton violence occuring under his very eyes. I myself have seen the late Kisshomaru Ueshiba do the same thing in the Hombu)."

I have seen a lot of footages of Osensei during which the training seems very intense but very relaxed in the same time. Not the kind of training which would cause serious unjuries. On the other hand, I know from first hand sources that one of Osensei's former Uchi Deshi's in France (not Tamura Sensei) used to force his students to do 500 to 1000 Zempo Ukemis non stop. I understand from the report that this could be fatal.
I would appreciate any comments.

Edward,

You quoted one small piece from the various posts I have put on two threads in the AJ forum. I assume you read the rest of the material, especially the long post on the 'culture of hazing' in Japan.

As for Ellis Amdur, he has a great deal to say in AJ 103, 104, and 107, especially the quote from Terry Dobson on p.22 of AJ 107, though I think Terry's chapter in "Aikido in America" contains something similar (the book is in my office and I am at home, so I cannot check).

For myself, I agree with much that Damion Lost has stated, especially his last post. Aikido really is a Way, and the moral 'benefits' of the art are not obvious. Two points are relevant to this: one is that the Founder, also, did not regard aikido as a martial art for everybody. He cautioned against showing the techniques to people who would misuse them. The second point is that no one would deny the general principle that one should not injure people during practice. But this principle is not understood by everybody in the same way.

Thus the Aikikai Hombu instructor who is the subject of the Terry Dobson quote, mentioned above, freely acknowledges that he has very few students because his aikido is very hard. He practises budo and he certainly does not interpret this in any 'western' sense. Thus to train in his classes requires a certain commitment. This instructor is now 71, but he is a direct disciple of the Founder and the late Kisshomaru Doshu.

Some of you might hink that I am delicately skirting around a taboo subject. Far better to confront the insructor about the injuries he has caused because of his rough practice.

But O Sensei never did this (to my knowledge) nor did Kisshomaru Doshu. This instructor never proselytises his aikido. He has never written anything, despite the urgings of people like Stanley Pranin and myself. He came to Hiroshima last month and spent five hours showing and explaining the intricacies of the footwork and handwork which result in ikkyo. It was a splendid course, but his ukes were certainly put through the mincer. For those of you who are wondering who he is, the instructor is Sadateru Arikawa shihan.

Incidentally, I myself have suffered some injuries, one of which happened while taking an ukemi from 2kyo at the hands of certain Japanese shihan (not Arikawa Sensei). It put me in hospital for 2 weeks. Should he have injured me? Probably not. But I have always believed that he trusted me and that my ukemi was not good, that is, it was largely my fault. Perhaps I am rationalising about the causes, but the injury happened nearly 20 years ago and I am still practising. Actually, the thought of stopping aikido as a result of the inury never entered my head.

Finally, on looking at this post to check the spelling etc, I see that I have not said much about the cultural aspects. But it is curious that both Terry Dobson and Ellis Amdur spent a lengthy period training in Japan and I myself live here. I think the experience of practising Japanese budo in the 'home' culture forces an examionation, if not a revision, of 'western' cultural values and this also includes the concepts of illness and injuries.

Best regards to all.

[Censored]
12-05-2001, 06:56 PM
I have practiced in the past Judo and Thai Boxing for many years and never witnessed or heard of a deadly or near dealy incident, untill I started up Aikido. In my understanding, Aikido is the only MA where someone gives himself willingly without resistance for another person to apply very dangerous throwing and arm/wrist locking techniques.

Perhaps there is some value in learning to protect your own body first, as they do in the other 99% of the world's martial arts? Perhaps Aikido practice is flawed in this respect, and the result is an unusually frequent occurrence of serious, needless injury?

Nah, that's impossible. Aikido is just too deadly. Aikido ROOLZ!

Edward
12-05-2001, 07:38 PM
Dr. Goldsbury,

I have read with great interest all of your posts. I just wanted to know Osensei's and late Doshu's position regarding violence.

Thanks for the information.

Best regards,
Edward

unsound000
12-06-2001, 05:21 AM
Where the hell do you train, Eric? I live in the Bay Area..Your description sounds more like boot camp than aikido. I would feel safer boxing (and i do) than training somewhere with all that going on.

Sometimes, I wonder how people survive to old age. [/B][/QUOTE]

Richard Harnack
12-06-2001, 10:20 AM
Thank you Peter for expounding a bit more on the culture of hazing in Japan. It represents one of the more negative aspects of Japanese culture at large, even within the context of the same culture.

Over the years it has led to students committing suicide be cause they were "not strong enough" to put up with it. It has led to injuries in the martial arts which are needless.

Attempting to provide such hazing with a cultural rationale does not work. The rationale is some version of the "samurai code" as enunciated in Nitobe's book and other 19th century samurai writings. The fact the many of these writings were intended to justify the establishment of the Meiji Emperor, is often left out. There were very political reasons for the enforcement of such a code across the nation.

However, I was not aware that martial artists, especially high ranking ones were exempt from general codes of civilized conduct. Training is dangerous enough, as evidence by some of the examples cited above, without persons posturing on about "death on the mat" as an rationale for poor behavior.

Sorry, the culture issue does not wash in this day and age. A martial artist who refuses to take responsibility for their partner's safety is dangerous and probably should not attempt to train with anyone but themself, that way they can limit who they might hurt.

Lest we get caught up in solely the martial arts, ask yourself this question:
"Does the thought that driving on the highways brings on the possibility of death at any moment excuse the driver to drive unsafely for the road and traffic?"

I submit that this is no different than training in the dojo. Why then woudl such behavior be excuseable in one instance and not another?

Erik
12-06-2001, 10:34 AM
Originally posted by unsound000
Where the hell do you train, Eric? I live in the Bay Area..Your description sounds more like boot camp than aikido. I would feel safer boxing (and i do) than training somewhere with all that going on.


Actually, it's not that bad. Really! The first two injuries I had no part in. They are just things that I know have happened and a number of years ago at that. One got a lot of play as there were seminars that donated proceeds to the cause. The other was handled very quietly as far as I know.

The knife was asinine and I've talked about it before, besides, I see there's a live blade thread going where someone is probably going to say, "I practice with live-blades and it's perfectly safe".

The neck landing, is a bit tougher. It was at a seminar, and to be honest, I still haven't reconciled that one. Part of it is clearly my fault and other parts of it are not. I may have to live with ambiguity there.

Peter Goldsbury
12-06-2001, 03:55 PM
Originally posted by Richard Harnack
Thank you Peter for expounding a bit more on the culture of hazing in Japan. It represents one of the more negative aspects of Japanese culture at large, even within the context of the same culture.

Over the years it has led to students committing suicide be cause they were "not strong enough" to put up with it. It has led to injuries in the martial arts which are needless.

Attempting to provide such hazing with a cultural rationale does not work. The rationale is some version of the "samurai code" as enunciated in Nitobe's book and other 19th century samurai writings. The fact the many of these writings were intended to justify the establishment of the Meiji Emperor, is often left out. There were very political reasons for the enforcement of such a code across the nation.

However, I was not aware that martial artists, especially high ranking ones were exempt from general codes of civilized conduct. Training is dangerous enough, as evidence by some of the examples cited above, without persons posturing on about "death on the mat" as an rationale for poor behavior.

Sorry, the culture issue does not wash in this day and age. A martial artist who refuses to take responsibility for their partner's safety is dangerous and probably should not attempt to train with anyone but themself, that way they can limit who they might hurt.

Lest we get caught up in solely the martial arts, ask yourself this question:
"Does the thought that driving on the highways brings on the possibility of death at any moment excuse the driver to drive unsafely for the road and traffic?"

I submit that this is no different than training in the dojo. Why then woudl such behavior be excuseable in one instance and not another?

Richard,

I have struggled with this issue for many years, ever since I actualy confronted a very eminent Aikikai instructor and demanded to know why his violence on the tatami was reflected in the fear with which he carried on his social relationships. There he was, an eminent shihan who had trained with the Founder himself, but just what had aikido taught him? Unfortunately, the confrontation resulted only in slight modification of his behaviour.

My short answer to you is that you are playing God and judging the moral conventions of one culture in the light of another which you believe is superior. I am not saying this is wrong: most westerners do this anyway. But it has taken me a long time to realise that the Japanese simply do not have a system of abstract moral principles which are universally valid and which they apply in all situations regardless. I am not the first person to have realised this, of course. The writer Karel van Wolferen also states this in his blistering critique of Japanese culture called The Enigma of Japanese Power. Have you read this book?

Attempting to give a cultural rationale for such behaviour actually works very well, here in Japan where I live. And bad driving is not a counterargument. No one would deny the general principle that it is wrong to cause death by dangerous driving. But when an accident actually happens, the situation sometimes changes, as I discovered.

Actually, with Arikawa Sensei, people do in fact vote with their feet. One class is usually enough and, 'This is fine, but not for me", is usually the result. For those who vote to stay, however, there are also immense benefits.

Now you might say, Times have changed. Sokaku Takeda, Morihei Ueshiba, Kisshomaru Ueshina, Sadateru Arikawa were men of their times, but the kind of behaviour which they practised and condoned is no longer acceptable. But these people were/are the products of a certain martial culture. I am not saying that this culture is properly described in Nitobe's book. What I am saying is that I am not on the moral high ground and do not have the right to condemn it because it leads to excesses such as hazing.

Best regards,

Peter Goldsbury
12-06-2001, 07:02 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Richard Harnack
[B]

However, I was not aware that martial artists, especially high ranking ones were exempt from general codes of civilized conduct. Training is dangerous enough, as evidence by some of the examples cited above, without persons posturing on about "death on the mat" as an rationale for poor behavior.

Sorry, the culture issue does not wash in this day and age. A martial artist who refuses to take responsibility for their partner's safety is dangerous and probably should not attempt to train with anyone but themself, that way they can limit who they might hurt.

Richard,

I had to cut off my last post before finishing it, since I had to go and teach a class. But I should raise a final point.

Would you include the Founder himself and his son Kisshomaru among the high-ranking martial artists, for aiding and abetting the breaking of the rules of civilised conduct? As I think you would need to, since they were Arikawa Sensei's teachers and actually ran the dojo where such posturing about death on the mat actually took place. This issue is implicitly raised by Terry Dobson and Ellis Amdur in the issues of AJ I referred to in previous post.

Best regards,

Richard Harnack
12-06-2001, 08:09 PM
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
Would you include the Founder himself and his son Kisshomaru among the high-ranking martial artists, for aiding and abetting the breaking of the rules of civilised conduct? As I think you would need to, since they were Arikawa Sensei's teachers and actually ran the dojo where such posturing about death on the mat actually took place. This issue is implicitly raised by Terry Dobson and Ellis Amdur in the issues of AJ I referred to in previous post.

Best regards, [/B]

Without going too far down this particularly slippery slope of how far back do we go, I do believe that instructors are responsible up to a point for their student's behavior. However, once the student is sufficiently along in their training, especially those who are standing in front of a class and teaching, then that student is now responsible completely for their behavior.

However, my point is that even within the context of Japanese culture, this practice does not meet with universal acceptance and approval. But beyond that, within the various codes of conduct enunciated by different schools of budo, there usually is an injunction to take care of those with less experience or who are "weak".

The type of hazing described in the article specifically mentioned dealt with events leading to injury and death. I doubt that even in the context of Japanese culture this is acceptable any more.

There is a common practice here (US) for gang initiations to involve beating up the prospective "new member" so that they understand that they will not necessarily be able to leave the gang alive or unscathed. Just because this reinforces group conformity does not make it right or acceptable

No, Peter, it is not a matter of "western" vs "eastern" culture. It is a matter of respect and honor between student and teacher. Teachers who violate this by brutal behavior dishonor themselves. I think this might have meaning in Japan.

unsound000
12-07-2001, 02:38 AM
Wow, you guys are great. I learned a lot reading what you said. I have to agree with Richard though, even though Japanese culture may have a tendency towards bullying behaviour for socio/historical reasons. These reasons do not excuse or make judgement wrong.
We need to point out right and wrong. Much the same, in America we may have a religous sense of right and wrong that leads to prejudice against other religions, races, gays etc. It just means we got a long way to go. I do not have so much hero worship of Master Ueshiba that I will not say that he was still human and maybe could have done more on the hazing thing. Good discussion!

-Jon

Peter Goldsbury
12-07-2001, 07:03 AM
Hullo Richard,

A few more points.

Originally posted by Richard Harnack


Without going too far down this particularly slippery slope of how far back do we go, I do believe that instructors are responsible up to a point for their student's behavior.

PAG. Up to a point? I can understand your reluctance to point the finger at the Founder and the late Doshu. After all, they were largely responsible for aikido as we know it and some would even say its their art... But their behaviourin the Hombu is precisely the point made by Terry Dobson, for example. There was the kind of practice going on which made Terry fear for his life, but not only did O Sensei do nothing about it; he went up and said, "Good, good. Carry on".

However, once the student is sufficiently along in their training, especially those who are standing in front of a class and teaching, then that student is now responsible completely for their behavior.

PAG. I do not agree entirely here. The deaths and injuries which were the subject of Fumiaki Shishida's article summarised in Aiki News/Aikido Journal occurred in school and university clubs, where it is common practice for the students themselves (usually 1st dan with no more than two or three years of practice) to teach. Thus, I think that in Japan, especially, the chief instructor, or dojo-cho, has a great measure of repsponsibility. This is not, of course, to deny that the students are in great measure responsible; their instructors are in great measure responsible, also.

However, my point is that even within the context of Japanese culture, this practice does not meet with universal acceptance and approval.

PAG. Absoulutely. The problem is what to do do about it when it occurs.

But beyond that, within the various codes of conduct enunciated by different schools of budo, there usually is an injunction to take care of those with less experience or who are "weak".

PAG. Again, yes, but this is the whole problem. There are various ways of "taking care of the weak", and the film "A Few Good Men" has much to say about how this could happen in the US military. I am currently using this film in one of my university English classes. Have you seen it? It is all about 'Code Reds' etc.

The type of hazing described in the article specifically mentioned dealt with events leading to injury and death. I doubt that even in the context of Japanese culture this is acceptable any more.

PAG. Agreed. I have stated in my earlier posts that no one denies that such behaviour is unacceptable. The problem is that there are cultural differences with respect to where the line should be drawn between 'hazing' and 'hard practice', and also how to deal with hazing which is 'structural' or 'institutional' in nature.

There is a common practice here (US) for gang initiations to involve beating up the prospective "new member" so that they understand that they will not necessarily be able to leave the gang alive or unscathed. Just because this reinforces group conformity does not make it right or acceptable.

PAG. No comment.

No, Peter, it is not a matter of "western" vs "eastern" culture.

PAG. My only reason for referring to 'westerners' is that it is the latter who tend to believe in abstact moral principles which are applicable in any situation, and in any culture. Oh, and it is westerners (Americans, in fact) who have told me and still tell me on bulletin boards such as this that my experience and insights gained by living in Japan are somehow 'false'. As I said earlier, I do not believe that cross-cultural comparisons can be entirely objective. And as the elected head of an international aikido federation, I must be scrupulously neutral with respect to how aikido 'manifests' itself, so to speak, in a particular country or culture.

It is a matter of respect and honor between student and teacher. Teachers who violate this by brutal behavior dishonor themselves. I think this might have meaning in Japan.

PAG. Absolutely. I agree entirely.



Finally, it might interest you and other members of this forum to know that I am presently involved with a case where an instructor is alleged to have caused serious injury in an aikido dojo. I cannot comment on this particular case, but generally in such cases my advice would be: prosecute. Get a good lawyer, build a case and take it before a judge. The abstract moral principles which westerners tend to support should also include the principle of the rule of law: a summons, a trial, a verdict, and appropriate punishment.

Best regards,

Erik
12-07-2001, 10:55 AM
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
but generally in such cases my advice would be: prosecute. Get a good lawyer, build a case and take it before a judge. The abstract moral principles which westerners tend to support should also include the principle of the rule of law: a summons, a trial, a verdict, and appropriate punishment.


There once was a sensei (you would know the name) who injured a student. The student retained an attorney and pursued justice, so to speak. When it was discovered that the sensei lacked liability insurance the case was dropped. No money, no justice.

The conclusion that was reached was that it was a bad idea to carry liability insurance because it might get you sued.

unsound000
12-09-2001, 12:52 AM
I can see that happening but I think that if I was hurt, then I would want to put him out of business and not collect a wad of cash.




Originally posted by Erik


There once was a sensei (you would know the name) who injured a student. The student retained an attorney and pursued justice, so to speak. When it was discovered that the sensei lacked liability insurance the case was dropped. No money, no justice.

The conclusion that was reached was that it was a bad idea to carry liability insurance because it might get you sued.

Erik
12-10-2001, 09:49 PM
Originally posted by unsound000 I can see that happening but I think that if I was hurt, then I would want to put him out of business and not collect a wad of cash.

How would you do that? The dojo is a martial environment. Unless he does this regularly, and even then, you would be hard pressed to find people who will stand up in a court of law and testify against them. Most deshi will back the sensei even in cases much worse than a student's injury. Then you would have to make the case that you did not understand what you were in for or that you were hurt intentionally. Good luck!

unsound000
12-11-2001, 02:49 AM
I'll admit that it would be impossible in Japan. In America though, I don't see why ex students would not testify. God Bless our horrendous legal system ;)

Originally posted by Erik


How would you do that? The dojo is a martial environment. Unless he does this regularly, and even then, you would be hard pressed to find people who will stand up in a court of law and testify against them. Most deshi will back the sensei even in cases much worse than a student's injury. Then you would have to make the case that you did not understand what you were in for or that you were hurt intentionally. Good luck!

guest1234
12-11-2001, 04:52 AM
I think Erik was pointing out that in our legal system, the lawyers are $ motivated: no big insurance to carve out a nice fat fee, no lawyer willing to take on the case. No one testifies unless the case goes to court, and the number of lawyers willing to work for wages that you could pay in order to see justice done might be very, very few.

shihonage
12-11-2001, 10:50 AM
I'm disappointed.
I thought this thread was about some new Seagal film.

Erik
12-11-2001, 11:09 AM
Originally posted by ca
I think Erik was pointing out that in our legal system, the lawyers are $ motivated: no big insurance to carve out a nice fat fee, no lawyer willing to take on the case. No one testifies unless the case goes to court, and the number of lawyers willing to work for wages that you could pay in order to see justice done might be very, very few.

I think in this case you would need to get the DA to prosecute. If there was a history at the dojo, maybe. Even then getting someone shut down will be no small task. How do you draw the line between intentional injury and consentual hard practice that results in injury? It's got to be a hard line to draw and the dojo will be filled with people who saw it as good hard practice. Maybe someone out there is a lawyer who could set us clear on this.

The individual I mentioned has hurt other people but so have a lot of sensei's. Whether they were hurt due to intent or just simple percentages from throwing a lot of students I can't say. It's easy to assume the worst.

Erik
12-11-2001, 11:13 AM
Originally posted by shihonage
I'm disappointed.
I thought this thread was about some new Seagal film.

It would fit, wouldn't it.