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tarik
08-10-2007, 08:51 AM
Let's get this out of the way up front. It seems to me that I must I put the (to you) in there to remind people that one persons definition is not necessarily more valid than another persons and that losing civility in discussions leads to a fruitless exchange.

I do think that there are certainly more authoritative opinions than others, and I think the "Voices of Experience" should be carefully listened to before making a personal decision about these things.

A decision that necessarily must evolve as we train and change ourselves.

So back to the important questions:

What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

What makes it NOT aikido (to you)?

Basia Halliop
08-10-2007, 09:56 AM
How can we know what a thing is without defining it?


By looking at it?

Again, you seem to be looking at it the opposite way than me. It's like if I read somewhere that there's a concept called 'sploffing' that's really wonderful and amazing, I decide I want to do it since it's so wonderful, THEN I go around trying to figure out what it is, trying to find a definition or description for it, and try to find a place where I can truely 'sploff'.

I'd rather look at the world and find things I want to do, places I want to train, etc, and then at some point it might be convenient to slap a label on some of them, maybe. But I like 'aikido' because it's a name commonly used for something I like doing, rather than liking the training because I've decided it's 'aikido'.

If someone came around one day and told me some respected organization or the ghost of Ueshiba or whatever had decreed that what I was doing 'wasn't Aikido', it was really 'Kerplunking', then do you really think that would fundamentally change anything? Well, I'd have to update my family that it's actually called 'Kerplunking'...

tarik
08-10-2007, 10:13 AM
By looking at it?

And studying, sure.

Again, you seem to be looking at it the opposite way than me.

I think orthogonal might be a better description than opposite. I don't think we're even trying to address the same issues.


I'd rather look at the world and find things I want to do, places I want to train, etc, and then at some point it might be convenient to slap a label on some of them, maybe. But I like 'aikido' because it's a name commonly used for something I like doing, rather than liking the training because I've decided it's 'aikido'.

If someone came around one day and told me some respected organization or the ghost of Ueshiba or whatever had decreed that what I was doing 'wasn't Aikido', it was really 'Kerplunking', then do you really think that would fundamentally change anything? Well, I'd have to update my family that it's actually called 'Kerplunking'...

I actually don't disagree with any of this. I'm prepared to have what I study called "aikido" or "not aikido", it won't stop me from doing it, but what you're talking about has nothing direct to do with the questions. It just avoids them by saying that they're unimportant (to you).

What I'm asking is; what is that fundamental set of things that defines aikido for you?

Regards,

Mark Uttech
08-10-2007, 11:11 AM
The simple question: "What makes Aikido aikido to you?" really has a simple answer for me: "Wisdom." I found that generally, it begins to arise around 3rd dan.

In gassho,

Mark

MM
08-10-2007, 11:56 AM
If someone would have asked me that a year or so ago, I would have had at least some rough idea of what aikido makes Aikido (tm) to me.

But, now, I'm beginning to understand that it is a very hard thing to define Ueshiba Morihei's Aikido. Let me try to put my thoughts down on why.

1. The basics. Ueshiba Morihei had them. Got them from Takeda. Gave them to Tomiki, Shioda, etc. In fact, I think quite a few of his students got the very basics. I'm not talking about rote jujutsu, but more along the lines of aikijujutsu (Taking a guess, I'd compare this to pulling silk and some of the Aunkai basics.) However, not all the direct students taught this feature. Tohei tried to keep it intact in his school. I think that some higher levels in all aikido schools eventually get a good bit of this. But, this doesn't really define Aikido as a lot of other martial arts convey the same basics, including Daito ryu.

2. The Internal skill. Here is where things get more strict. This is the area where Ueshiba could not be pushed over, where his students said he felt like a ghost, where Dobson felt like he hit a wall when he body slammed the ukes trying to push Ueshiba over, etc. This would be aiki no jujutsu (I'd compare it to reeling silk). Not many of Ueshiba's students learned this. I'd venture Tomiki and Shioda had some measure of it. I really don't know about Tohei. However, as #1, this really doesn't define Aikido because you can find these skills in other martial arts, such as Ushiro's karate, Okamoto's Daito ryu, and some Chinese masters.

Now, before I move on to the next part, I'll make a disclaimer here. While #1 and #2 really don't "define" Aikido, per se, they *must* be present or you have no Aikido. In other words, you can have #1 and #2, but still be doing another martial art. If you don't have #1 and #2 in some measure, you aren't doing Aikido.

#3. Spirituality. There is a place one gets to when one has trained long enough that one understands that there are choices available for a martial outcome. Instead of mere self defense and living, there are options open that include breaking, damaging, killing, etc. But unless one has the skill level necessary, these options are theory only. I certainly am not at that point, so I go by theory alone. Ueshiba had that level and he chose options that were more attuned to discarding an opponent (NOTE: this doesn't mean peace and harmony and loving an attacker) rather than break/kill at his feet as the old jujutsu would have done. Being at this place doesn't necessarily define Aikido, because you can find this theory in a lot of spiritual areas. However, most lack #1 and #2 above, so they can't back up their theory and must use other means available (like peace talks.)

#4. Way out there. Yeah. Kami, neo-shinto, bridges between heaven and earth, channeling kami, divineness, etc. And let me be clear. You can not "find and replace" the word "kami" with the Christian "God". It doesn't work that way. Conversely, yes, the Christian God can be a kami. But, still, Ueshiba was really out there compared to most people. He did believe that you didn't necessarily have to trace his footsteps, but you could use other ways to get there. I believe that, too. But, I think you're still going to have to get to the edge to try to understand what he was doing, what he lived, and how all this intertwined with his martial ways. He didn't just live martially and belong to Omoto kyo. His whole life was a fully integrated mesh of them both, in a manner beyond other martial spiritual practices (such as studying Zen meditation while also studying karate.) As the first three, you can find people like this in other areas.

But, if you are working on having all four. Not 3 out of 4, not 2 out of 4, not 1 out of 4; but all 4, then, I think you are studying Aikido. And working to gain them is the path for what I believe makes aikido Aikido.

Working on #1 & #3 might be construed as Ueshiba Kisshomaru's aikido, but it isn't Ueshiba Morihei's Aikido. Doesn't mean it's wrong or bad, just that I don't believe it's the founder's Aikido. Depending on the school, working on #1 through #3 can be considered aikido, but it isn't the founder's Aikido. You might get close enough that the lines blur. I dunno. Everything is a theory and a work in progress. :)

All IMO,
Mark

tarik
08-11-2007, 10:23 AM
Mark,

If someone would have asked me that a year or so ago, I would have had at least some rough idea of what aikido makes Aikido (tm) to me.
_
_
_
Everything is a theory and a work in progress. :)

All IMO,


Thanks for the interesting thoughts.

Regards,

SeiserL
08-11-2007, 03:31 PM
IMHO, (1) the art as a lineage of O'Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, and (2) the art of blending and taking balance.

tarik
08-14-2007, 10:48 AM
Perhaps I took the juice out when I suggested that we should remain civil. ;)

My sense of aikido isn't far off what Mark Murray suggests above, but here's another take I have on it as well that extends the definition out into the philosophical realm a bit as well.

Let's define aiki as appropriate fitting. That's how I currently understand it anyway.

Aikido, to me, is about learning how to fit myself to my partner's attacks appropriately, such that I can achieve the outcome I desire.

A view, with which I disagree, often put on that interaction by many students of aikido is that the outcome must be non-violent. In my mind, the interaction itself is violence, and therefor cannot be non-violent. However, I do agree and believe that to be aikido, the outcome should result in the least possible harm to all involved, starting with myself and extending out as far as possible.

I don't believe that this means the least possible harm in that instant. I believe that this means the least possible harm for all time. This might necessitate serious injury or death in the process of doing what is necessary.

As someone who's been in street fights with and without weapons in the Middle East and the US, and held jobs as a bouncer and security at some rowdy music festivals, I think it unlikely that hurting people is always necessary, but I do not feel that it is automatically "not aikido" should it become necessary.

Each circumstance and situation dictates the appropriate action.

What we do when we train on the mat is mostly NOT aikido; it's training to learn how to DO aikido if and when the time comes.

Is (appropriate) sparring aikido? Training with (appropriate) resistance? Are ki exercises aikido? Is practicing randori to music aikido? Are solo movement exercises aikido? Are there groups of techniques that are or are not aikido?

I think we can all have legitimate feelings about these things for and against, but honestly, I find arguments against various training practices, no matter who innovated or did not innovate the idea are largely just silly because the arguments seldom explore the principles being taught by the idea and accept or discard the practice on that basis. Usually the argument is, "did O-sensei do it?" If the argument were how "this practice will instill the wrong principles" in us, then I think there is more basis to the discussion.

IMO, none of these exercises (which I took from various examples I am aware of rather than just my own practice) are aikido at all, they are merely tools to help us practice the principles of aikido if properly practiced. To me, the principles are what makes what we do aikido, and not the specific set of techniques, exercises, or rituals. These are just the pedagogy that do make up a critical part of the character of the system or approach being taught, but are not the thing itself.

Aikido is not the forms being practiced, but the principles.

In that light, I think that all too many in the aikido world do not do anything like what I would consider aikido when on the mat. Many people train to feel good when they should be training to feel uncomfortable and stretch themselves. We train to discover or reveal the principles and to inculcate them into our instinctive responses so that we can become practitioners of aikido, hopefully able to apply those principles in our everyday life or in moments of great stress.

If we're just getting on the mat and getting a workout, than I sincerely doubt the principles are being trained or consciously practiced in those moments. A workout is great, but shugyo to me is not simply a physically intense workout, but one that is intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically intense and has me sweating even if the training is going at glacial speeds and maybe no one is even falling down.

Many of us do not put the principles in practice in our daily lives no matter what we do on the mat. It is in putting the principles to practice that I, personally, consider to be aikido.

Regards,

Budd
08-14-2007, 11:08 AM
I think part of the issue as well is who has what at stake based on their definition of aikido being the correct one . . .

Though, personally, I like what Mark and Tarik have said.

G DiPierro
08-14-2007, 11:41 AM
A view, with which I disagree, often put on that interaction by many students of aikido is that the outcome must be non-violent. In my mind, the interaction itself is violence, and therefor cannot be non-violent. However, I do agree and believe that to be aikido, the outcome should result in the least possible harm to all involved, starting with myself and extending out as far as possible.

I don't believe that this means the least possible harm in that instant. I believe that this means the least possible harm for all time. This might necessitate serious injury or death in the process of doing what is necessary.Here again one could ask a similar question as before. Who has the right to determine what is "necessary?" If you give yourself this right, can you be sure you have enough wisdom or information to make this determination? If you decide that it is necessary to kill someone because you think that this will cause the least possible harm, how do you know that you have made the right decision? What if it turns out that you are wrong?

And how is making such a decision about someone else's fate in the context of aikido any different from making in the context of karate, military force, the criminal justice system, domestic violence, etc. Any of these forms of hurting or killing others can be rationalized or justified as being "necessary" and "good" in the long term, although obviously how necessary or good they actually are is a matter that can be debated. I think anytime you grant yourself the sole right or responsibility to determine that violence is necessary you put yourself on very questionable moral ground.

MM
08-14-2007, 11:47 AM
Perhaps I took the juice out when I suggested that we should remain civil. ;)


Well, with respect to Lynn and Mark U., I just found their posts lacking any answers for me. Wisdom can come from any martial art, so I didn't understand how that made aikido, Aikido to Mark U. And, how, Lynn, do you define, Ueshiba Morihei's lineage? We have sooo many different students of the founder and each one has their own way of aikido. The art of blending and taking balance can be applied to at least Judo, if not others. How does that make aikido, Aikido?


My sense of aikido isn't far off what Mark Murray suggests above, but here's another take I have on it as well that extends the definition out into the philosophical realm a bit as well.

Let's define aiki as appropriate fitting. That's how I currently understand it anyway.

Aikido, to me, is about learning how to fit myself to my partner's attacks appropriately, such that I can achieve the outcome I desire.


I'm still wrestling with the "aiki" demons. :) But, let's do a what if ...

What if aiki, as appropriate fitting, is fitting the partner's attack to you, rather than the other way around? Of being able to manage your body appropriately and in a way that the partner's energy of attack is automatically matched.

There comes two important aspects to the above. How is that accomplished? In this, I think is where Aikido diverges from Daito ryu. Ueshiba Morihei adapted to a more spiritual-based training regimen and how he accomplished his aiki was different than other student's of Takeda. The second part is what do you do after the above is accomplished. Again, this distinguishes Aikido from other arts in that it works to appropriately match an attack and then, for lack of a better word(s), let go. As opposed to break/kill of jujutsu and other arts.


A view, with which I disagree, often put on that interaction by many students of aikido is that the outcome must be non-violent. In my mind, the interaction itself is violence, and therefor cannot be non-violent. However, I do agree and believe that to be aikido, the outcome should result in the least possible harm to all involved, starting with myself and extending out as far as possible.


Ueshiba Morihei wasn't a pacifist. Aikido was a martial art to him. In regards to my teacher's teachings, yes, I do agree with you. :)

But, even when looking to the giants and following our teachers, we still must find our own way. And here, I think, one must have the skill necessary to be able to choose what level harm is involved in Aikido. I'm not there yet. One day, I will be close and I can revisit these ideals. Until then, I follow those who are closer.


What we do when we train on the mat is mostly NOT aikido; it's training to learn how to DO aikido if and when the time comes.

Is (appropriate) sparring aikido? Training with (appropriate) resistance? Are ki exercises aikido? Is practicing randori to music aikido? Are solo movement exercises aikido? Are there groups of techniques that are or are not aikido?


In looking at how Ueshiba Morihei viewed his students when he lived, how can we say that it isn't Aikido? Tomiki, Shioda, etc all started their own schools and for the most part, were allowed to continue. I think the argument isn't are they Aikido, but are they the founder's Aikido. In which case, one can do aikido in any number of variations. But, to do the founder's Aikido ... no, that is much harder and certainly a much narrower vision.


Aikido is not the forms being practiced, but the principles.


I agree. It then becomes the question, just what are the principles? :)


If we're just getting on the mat and getting a workout, than I sincerely doubt the principles are being trained or consciously practiced in those moments. A workout is great, but shugyo to me is not simply a physically intense workout, but one that is intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically intense and has me sweating even if the training is going at glacial speeds and maybe no one is even falling down.

Many of us do not put the principles in practice in our daily lives no matter what we do on the mat. It is in putting the principles to practice that I, personally, consider to be aikido.

Regards,

LOL, you should see the recent workouts I've been trying to do. While not exactly "physically" intense, they are physically intense. And intellectually, emotionally, psychologically. I try to keep the solo exercises slow. And then when I do partner training, I keep it slow because I can't do anything dynamically without losing some part of structure. It's intense and rarely does anyone fall down. It's frustrating at times, irritating at others. I fail and fail again. I put the "me" in mediocre for sure. :) But, I am trying to put the "aiki" into my training so that one day, I will be able to understand the "do" aspect of aikido.

And then, the most important question arises: Do I want to do Ueshiba Morihei's Aikido? Or do as his students did, and find my own way?

Mark

Ron Tisdale
08-14-2007, 11:48 AM
I think anytime you grant yourself the sole right and responsibility to determine whether violence is acceptable you put yourself on very questionable moral ground.

In normal societal circumstances, agreed, certainly...but...

What {who} has the right to determine what is "necessary?" If you give yourself this right, can you be sure you have enough wisdom or judgment to make this determination?

Nothing in life is sure. I have been sure in the past that I knew what aikido was...and was proved wrong. I'm sure it might happen again tomorrow night when I next hope to be on the mat.

If you decide that it is necessary to kill someone because you think that this will cause the least possible harm, how do you know that you have made the right decision?

You don't. When someone physically attacks you, they take that chance. When I defend myself or another, I take that chance as well.

What if it turns out that you are wrong?

Society exacts their price...and God exacts his. Such is life...

Best,
Ron

Adam Alexander
08-14-2007, 11:58 AM
Who has the right to determine what is "necessary?"

What if it turns out that you are wrong?


It's not a right as much as an obligation. If you stand still, it's just nature, the next person with a lesser value set might move up. You have to trust that you have the highest set. Otherwise, people who don't care about right or wrong are going to fill the void created by your failure to move forward in the way you considered right.

Then you'll really be up the creek.

If it turns out you're wrong, you accept responsibility, you regret your actions, you carry the guilt, and you be a better person for the next decision.


BTW: What makes Aikido to me is learning to be a man the best I can.

MM
08-14-2007, 11:58 AM
Nothing in life is sure. I have been sure in the past that I knew what aikido was...and was proved wrong. I'm sure it might happen again tomorrow night when I next hope to be on the mat.


Yeah, for me, too.


You don't. When someone physically attacks you, they take that chance. When I defend myself or another, I take that chance as well.


It isn't as if the defender is taking a moral road and determining life or death. An attacker, by their actions, narrows down considerably the responses a defender can execute. In such a conflict, where one's intent is a certain outcome while the other's intent is completely different, all predictability is gone. If the attacker's intent is fixated upon a certain outcome and has no compulsion about ending the defender's life ... then the defender has, at that point, had his options for appropriate actions taken from him/her. At that point, the attacker has actually decided, morally, on life or death -- the attacker's own life or death, not the defenders.


Society exacts their price...and God exacts his. Such is life...

Best,
Ron

Or "... and God exacts Hers." ;)

Seriously, though, all too true.

Mark

Budd
08-14-2007, 12:10 PM
So, the topic here is sort of verging on:

1) What is aikido to you?

2) What has aikido traditionally been, historically (and, to you, why not)?

3) What is aikido evolving into becoming (in the mainstream and/or, you guessed it, to you)?

My own little addition . . . how does any of the above impact your day-to-day training?

tarik
08-14-2007, 02:40 PM
I think part of the issue as well is who has what at stake based on their definition of aikido being the correct one . . .

Insightful. If one applies aikido to their philosophy of life, it can be threatening to have that foundation disrupted. Personally I find it uncomfortable, but refreshing when some error is pointed out in my beliefs and understandings that require me to rethink any inconsistencies.

Though, personally, I like what Mark and Tarik have said.

Now you're just being nice. :)

Regards,

tarik
08-14-2007, 02:56 PM
Here again one could ask a similar question as before. Who has the right to determine what is "necessary?"

I do. The participants in the encounter do. Frankly. they both have more than the right, they have the responsibility, it's just a matter that many refuse to take on.

If you give yourself this right, can you be sure you have enough wisdom or information to make this determination?

I don't give it, I take it. One significant reason I train is to develop the wisdom and information it takes to make an educated decision.

If you decide that it is necessary to kill someone because you think that this will cause the least possible harm, how do you know that you have made the right decision? What if it turns out that you are wrong?

As already mentioned, I take responsibility for it. If it's wrong, I'll willingly stand up and face the consequences and most importantly, learn.

Too many decisions are made today to follow rules (such as zero tolerance statutes) instead of judge each individual situation for itself, and I think it's because no one wants to be the resonsible party for making a decision. If the decision is wrong, they can point at the rules and say, 'I'm not responsible, I had to follow the rules and they didn't allow me any leeway." I think that it's a real problem.

And how is making such a decision about someone else's fate in the context of aikido any different from making in the context of karate, military force, the criminal justice system, domestic violence, etc. Any of these forms of hurting or killing others can be rationalized or justified as being "necessary" and "good" in the long term, although obviously how necessary or good they actually are is a matter that can be debated.

I think it's the province of another thread to discuss how aikido is or is not different than other forms of martial arts or actual civilian violence. However, it points out that perhaps there is no difference, except in the particularl philosophical and physical nuances that make aikido unique. I know some students of aikido who might prefer to insist that aikido is unique in this particular aspect, but I am not one of them.

I think anytime you grant yourself the sole right or responsibility to determine that violence is necessary you put yourself on very questionable moral ground.

The sole right? I do not exist in a vacuum, I exist with the context of other interacting individuals, a part of a community and a society and I believe that I have a responsibility to act when I deem it appropriate and not to wait for some authority figure to give me that responsibility.

As to moral grounds, there are no moral grounds that cannot be questioned, IMO, and any that are offered as such are questionable by that very assertion.

Regards,

MM
08-14-2007, 03:06 PM
Insightful. If one applies aikido to their philosophy of life, it can be threatening to have that foundation disrupted. Personally I find it uncomfortable, but refreshing when some error is pointed out in my beliefs and understandings that require me to rethink any inconsistencies.

Regards,

I've had the carpet pulled out from under me far too many times to ever get complacent enough to feel threatened when my foundation is disrupted. :) In fact, if I start to feel complacent, I think something is wrong with my foundation. lol.

Mark

tarik
08-14-2007, 03:28 PM
The art of blending and taking balance can be applied to at least Judo, if not others. How does that make aikido, Aikido?

Well, I do know of those who consider the only meaningful difference to be maai. ;)

What if aiki, as appropriate fitting, is fitting the partner's attack to you, rather than the other way around? Of being able to manage your body appropriately and in a way that the partner's energy of attack is automatically matched.

Is there a difference? I think how one achieves "appropriate fitting" might be or might not be a distinguishing feature of aikido. How's that for noncommital? I think the topic of how to appropriately fit is an interesting one, and in a certain sense, whatever works is the right answer.

There comes two important aspects to the above. How is that accomplished? In this, I think is where Aikido diverges from Daito ryu. Ueshiba Morihei adapted to a more spiritual-based training regimen and how he accomplished his aiki was different than other student's of Takeda. The second part is what do you do after the above is accomplished. Again, this distinguishes Aikido from other arts in that it works to appropriately match an attack and then, for lack of a better word(s), let go. As opposed to break/kill of jujutsu and other arts.

The ramifications are interesting, but I just don't know enough to have a strong opinion on these historical issues. While I'm very curious, enough to have followed most of the published writings and online speculation for almost 10 years, I still don't feel like I have enough information to express a very meaningful opinion beyond "I don't know", and I don't think anyone else does either (for sure), although they might have a stronger opinion than I do.


Ueshiba Morihei wasn't a pacifist. Aikido was a martial art to him. In regards to my teacher's teachings, yes, I do agree with you. :)

But, even when looking to the giants and following our teachers, we still must find our own way. And here, I think, one must have the skill necessary to be able to choose what level harm is involved in Aikido. I'm not there yet. One day, I will be close and I can revisit these ideals. Until then, I follow those who are closer.

I'm not really there yet either, except that.. on occasion, I have had encounters where I realized that even with my miniscule level of skill and understanding, I could completely dominate others in certain situations, and so the choice was there, ready or not.

In looking at how Ueshiba Morihei viewed his students when he lived, how can we say that it isn't Aikido? Tomiki, Shioda, etc all started their own schools and for the most part, were allowed to continue. I think the argument isn't are they Aikido, but are they the founder's Aikido. In which case, one can do aikido in any number of variations. But, to do the founder's Aikido ... no, that is much harder and certainly a much narrower vision.

I think here, you are hitting a core issue. I don't think that anyone can do the founder's aikido. It's gone, not even accurately recorded for a real reference, mere momentary glimpses offered for us to explore it ourselves.

Appeals to precisely what he did and what he said are diffcult to make relevant since another person can offer counter statements and actions to support their own viewpoint. Only a comprehensive study can really reveal his intent to us, and few are able to entirely agree with the somewhat detailed results offered already.

This is no different really than what has happened in religion, with Jesus Christ, with Mohammed, with Buddha, and numerous other prominent figures. Even with orthodox groups offering the accepted interpretations, there are many who do not agree.


I agree. It then becomes the question, just what are the principles? :)

Oh, you move quick. :)

I think that's what we're exploring in this thread, neh? Some of it. It's rather difficult to explore the physical principles of kuzushi, tskuri, kake, kokyu, etc. online, as we've seen evident in other threads. You have to feel things to begin to understand them.

LOL, you should see the recent workouts I've been trying to do. While not exactly "physically" intense, they are physically intense. And intellectually, emotionally, psychologically. I try to keep the solo exercises slow. And then when I do partner training, I keep it slow because I can't do anything dynamically without losing some part of structure. It's intense and rarely does anyone fall down. It's frustrating at times, irritating at others. I fail and fail again. I put the "me" in mediocre for sure. :) But, I am trying to put the "aiki" into my training so that one day, I will be able to understand the "do" aspect of aikido.

This sounds exquisitely familiar, the training and the partner practices. The greater my (perceived) comprehension grows, the more mediocre I perceive my skill set, physically and mentally.

And then, the most important question arises: Do I want to do Ueshiba Morihei's Aikido? Or do as his students did, and find my own way?

Is M Ueshiba's aikido even relevant to todays practictioner? Maybe and maybe not. We each determine that for ourselves, and I believe that ultimately, it must adapt to remain relevant to those who practice, even as we try to maintain the principles we perceive to be the core of the teaching.

I think, as perhaps described Mr. Goldsbury's recent series of articles, that M. Ueshiba's aikido died with him, and the best we can do is find our own way, using his and our own teachers examples as signposts along the way.

Regards,

trailbuster530
08-14-2007, 03:38 PM
I am new to Aikido but have other arts behind me including wrestiling thru high school so my perspective might be a little green and will probably change but it's pretty basic in my opinion.

The path of least resistance to achieve a acceptable outcome.

Erick Mead
08-14-2007, 04:16 PM
Mark is taking the genealogical approach with his item 1. He takes the functional approach with his item 2. And then the conceptual approach with his items 3) and 4). over all it is not bad as an approach . However, I think items 1 and 2 lack grounding in failing to explain what O Sensei changed, removed, added and why, and so the comparative dimensions definition is not really adequate.

As to item 2), the "internal skills" debate has not produced much in the way of generally agreed objective defining characteristics of what "it" is, how it may be concretely recognized or measured. Despite useful explorations along the way in near 1500-plus posts, spawning its own subforum, those debates (with some notable exceptions), have mainly boiled down to disputes over labelling or bona fides. Added to this is a general agreement (deeply mourned in some quarters) that O Sensei did not feel the need to teach "it" explicitly, whatever "it" may be deemed to be in objective terms. So that may not be the best basis for definition since everyone will likely read into it what they bring to it.

My definition is more addressed to the principal premises of the art as expressed by O Sensei. This leaves drawing concrete conclusions from them as a practical exercise for the teacher and student.

Straying very little from O Sensei's own words, I see them as follows

1) Love is THE true budo.

Love is the supremely effective basis for martial arts. As a low order statement it may be said to surpass both rage and calculation (the most readily identifiable alternatives) in its power and efficacy. As a high order statement, one could maintain that no other basis for martial action is effective (individually or collectively) without the presence of love in some regard, (even if most minimally as self-love).

2) Correct victory is self-victory. Masagatsu agatsu.

True love removes distinction between oneself and the other. Thus the first condition of true victory is to love the enemy as yourself.

3) Katsu hayabi. Victory is instantaneous.

Joining wholeheartedly with the expressed will of the enemy. The opponent cannot effectively oppose his own will -- without defeating himself. He attacks, I welcome him; he withdraws, I send him on his way. There is absolutely no resistance in aikido.

4) Takemusu Aiki. Conflict and creativity joining in spirit.

Love embraces all equally -- the form of the sphere. Energy is received and returned in a sphere. Attacking energy is in the form of line or point -- directed at the center point of the target; withdrawing energy flows directly back to the center point of the attack.

The characteristic dynamic shape of the art thus relies on tangents, centripetals, and rotations for gathering and releasing the energy of attack. The manner of articulating the body in gathering and releasing dynamic energy is also characteristic of offering, opening, and embracing. It is embodied in certain exercises intended to train it. Between the center point and the extreme limits of the sphere and anywhere along its surface, paths following the shape of the art and articulating the body in the characteristic manner provided for the art are infinite and free everywhere -- saving only the line of immediate attack.

5. Aikido also uses some Daito-ryu and weapons forms selected to organize its practical training and as illustrations of the operation of these definitional principles in controlled constraints.

Chuck Clark
08-14-2007, 04:21 PM
I think, as perhaps described Mr. Goldsbury's recent series of articles, that M. Ueshiba's aikido died with him, and the best we can do is find our own way, using his and our own teachers examples as signposts along the way.


I seem to remember a quote from M. Ueshiba, "You can't do my aikido; you must find your own."

Powerful words that surely require a lot of courage even after we begin to understand what "aikido" is.

jennifer paige smith
08-14-2007, 04:52 PM
Mark is taking the genealogical approach with his item 1. He takes the functional approach with his item 2. And then the conceptual approach with his items 3) and 4). over all it is not bad as an approach . However, I think items 1 and 2 lack grounding in failing to explain what O Sensei changed, removed, added and why, and so the comparative dimensions definition is not really adequate.

As to item 2), the "internal skills" debate has not produced much in the way of generally agreed objective defining characteristics of what "it" is, how it may be concretely recognized or measured. Despite useful explorations along the way in near 1500-plus posts, spawning its own subforum, those debates (with some notable exceptions), have mainly boiled down to disputes over labelling or bona fides. Added to this is a general agreement (deeply mourned in some quarters) that O Sensei did not feel the need to teach "it" explicitly, whatever "it" may be deemed to be in objective terms. So that may not be the best basis for definition since everyone will likely read into it what they bring to it.

My definition is more addressed to the principal premises of the art as expressed by O Sensei. This leaves drawing concrete conclusions from them as a practical exercise for the teacher and student.

Straying very little from O Sensei's own words, I see them as follows

1) Love is THE true budo.

Love is the supremely effective basis for martial arts. As a low order statement it may be said to surpass both rage and calculation (the most readily identifiable alternatives) in its power and efficacy. As a high order statement, one could maintain that no other basis for martial action is effective (individually or collectively) without the presence of love in some regard, (even if most minimally as self-love).

2) Correct victory is self-victory. Masagatsu agatsu.

True love removes distinction between oneself and the other. Thus the first condition of true victory is to love the enemy as yourself.

3) Katsu hayabi. Victory is instantaneous.

Joining wholeheartedly with the expressed will of the enemy. The opponent cannot effectively oppose his own will -- without defeating himself. He attacks, I welcome him; he withdraws, I send him on his way. There is absolutely no resistance in aikido.

4) Takemusu Aiki. Conflict and creativity joining in spirit.

Love embraces all equally -- the form of the sphere. Energy is received and returned in a sphere. Attacking energy is in the form of line or point -- directed at the center point of the target; withdrawing energy flows directly back to the center point of the attack.

The characteristic dynamic shape of the art thus relies on tangents, centripetals, and rotations for gathering and releasing the energy of attack. The manner of articulating the body in gathering and releasing dynamic energy is also characteristic of offering, opening, and embracing. It is embodied in certain exercises intended to train it. Between the center point and the extreme limits of the sphere and anywhere along its surface, paths following the shape of the art and articulating the body in the characteristic manner provided for the art are infinite and free everywhere -- saving only the line of immediate attack.

5. Aikido also uses some Daito-ryu and weapons forms selected to organize its practical training and as illustrations of the operation of these definitional principles in controlled constraints.

I should start sending you money for writing the posts that i would have hired my best self to express. And I'm not just being nice; although it is nice to feel this way.

DH
08-14-2007, 05:19 PM
I seem to remember a quote from M. Ueshiba, "You can't do my aikido; you must find your own."

Powerful words that surely require a lot of courage even after we begin to understand what "aikido" is.

Hi Chuck
I liked that. And courage is perhaps the right word. Budo sometimes saddens me, or more simply- people in it do. When they step out to take their place in the dance, it sometimes seems to call to the worst in men, instead of the very best. For that reason it's sometimes a priveledge and honor to see men stand in the face of lies and half truths. And in the face of challenge- it can be very surprising to watch just who's integrity fails them and who's remains. So in the end, I think you were spot on with choosing courage as a requirement. I think "forged" is a good word too. For our skill is not given, and when we are standing alone, it cannot be forged. For we will be known. Because there is only way to -truly- posess it, it has to -be- forged.
And if Aikido was meant to be love, then it needs no explanation, requires no defense and should be looking for the best in all. Where does technique and personal forging meet spirit? That takes...tremendous courage as well.
Hope all is well.

salim
08-15-2007, 07:18 AM
I'm a huge advocate for post WWII Aikido. To me Aikido that is combat ready, self defense ready, insures a readiness for life is Aikido. I admire the warrior roots of Aikibudo and one of it's greatest students Mochizuki Minoru. He was direct student of Morihei Ueshiba and kept alive the original roots of Aikido.

Mark Uttech
08-16-2007, 03:43 PM
I'm repeating myself here, but to me, it is 'wisdom' that makes aikido aikido. In a recent seminar, Saotome Shihan taught that you cannot expect your attacker to be aware of 'your' intention. So, somehow, you must wrestle with the modern-day koan of protecting yourself 'and' your attacker.

In gassho

Mark

Budd
08-17-2007, 06:30 AM
That's interesting. What specific steps do you recommend taking to wrestle with this koan?

arderljohn
08-17-2007, 09:16 AM
way back when im not aikido practitioner, im just a guy with a hot blooded person. Now, everything is in the row. Must have dicipline and with full of determination. embracing other people with smile full of love. :)

Mark Uttech
08-17-2007, 09:31 PM
That's interesting. What specific steps do you recommend taking to wrestle with this koan?
You have to practice. With a wide variety of ukes. Try a wide variety of techniques. You have to get to know yourself. Your strengths. Your weaknesses. When you think you know something, you must be able to look again. Buddhism teaches to practice as though your hair is on fire. Terry Dobson taught an aikido class where he told me to practice as though uke's hair was on fire. There's a good lesson here.

In gassho,

Mark

statisticool
08-19-2007, 09:04 AM
What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

What makes it NOT aikido (to you)?

Hi Tarik,

Aikido to me is Ueshiba lineage and lineage of high-ranking Ueshiba students, relaxed subtle movement, focus on flow, smooth transitions, whole body movement, not forgetting martial applications, intelligent, attention to details, global, applied to non-martial endeavors, peaceful, improves the whole person, and safe to practice.

mjhacker
08-19-2007, 02:51 PM
The path of least resistance to achieve a acceptable outcome.
Nicely put.

But acceptable to WHOM?

dalen7
08-19-2007, 02:57 PM
Aikido to me...is what it is to me at the time Im doing it.
If its stressful and complicated, then it is that.

If its peaceful and spiritual, then it is that.
Its no more or no less then what I do with it at the time I work with it.

And subtly as time goes on even the 'form' of the title may change to suit a 'better' purpose. ;)

Peace

dAlen

MM
08-19-2007, 07:10 PM
You have to practice. With a wide variety of ukes. Try a wide variety of techniques. You have to get to know yourself. Your strengths. Your weaknesses. When you think you know something, you must be able to look again. Buddhism teaches to practice as though your hair is on fire. Terry Dobson taught an aikido class where he told me to practice as though uke's hair was on fire. There's a good lesson here.

In gassho,

Mark

You made me laugh. I was thinking, hair on fire? What in the world does that mean? Would I be screaming and jumping and flapping my hands on top of my head, trying to put out the flames? Then I realized, hey, wait a minute. I'm bald. I don't have hair to catch on fire. :)

Mark

Budd
08-19-2007, 08:34 PM
Then I realized, hey, wait a minute. I'm bald. I don't have hair to catch on fire. :)


Mark - there's always your chin . . . . :hypno:

Daniel Ranger-Holt
08-26-2007, 02:25 PM
Aikido to me is blending, redirecting force, to halt a basic but powerful attack, from whatever angle and walking away from it. Hoping the attacker will see sence. I don't follow the spiritual side of it. A lot of what O Sensei said went over my little brain, but that's just me. It's the "agreement" aspect to the conflict that fascinates me about Aikido. Yeh, i'd say Aikido is blending.

MM
08-27-2007, 07:20 AM
I find that a lot of answers here can be applied to a variety of martial arts.

Blending? Judo, karate, BJJ, etc.

Redirecting force? Judo, karate, BJJ, etc.

Wisdom? Judo, karate, BJJ, etc.

Get to know yourself? Pretty much all good Budo

Combat ready, self-defense, readiness for life? Many martial arts.

Path of least resistance? Judo, BJJ, karate.

So, for the most part, a lot of the answers may have helped define some part of Aikido, those answers also define other martial arts.

The question of what makes it NOT aikido is left unanswered. How is it that these answers given apply only to Aikido to you and not other martial arts?

Lynn's post provided answers to both questions. Kudos to him. He did it in one sentence. :)

Jennifer agreed with Erick. While I disagree with their translations and approach (something for another thread perhaps), I think they answered both questions.

Mike Haftel
08-27-2007, 05:42 PM
What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

What makes it NOT aikido (to you)?

I'm not sure what, exactly, you are asking here.

But, to me, it's like asking:

How is a spoon a spoon?
How is a spoon not a spoon?

And, I guess I'd answer it by saying that a spoon is only a spoon if you use it as such and that the word "spoon" is not the thing "spoon."

Aikido is Aikido as long as it IS Aikido. The same could be said for anything and everything in the world. But "Aikido" is not Aikido. Aikido (and everything else, ever) just IS. There is no "Aikido." There just...is.

Catch my drift? :)

Erick Mead
08-27-2007, 07:25 PM
Jennifer agreed with Erick. While I disagree with their translations and approach (something for another thread perhaps), I think they answered both questions. Domo. Do tell. Start one. I'll follow.

MM
08-28-2007, 07:42 AM
I'm not sure what, exactly, you are asking here.

But, to me, it's like asking:

How is a spoon a spoon?
How is a spoon not a spoon?

And, I guess I'd answer it by saying that a spoon is only a spoon if you use it as such and that the word "spoon" is not the thing "spoon."

Aikido is Aikido as long as it IS Aikido. The same could be said for anything and everything in the world. But "Aikido" is not Aikido. Aikido (and everything else, ever) just IS. There is no "Aikido." There just...is.

Catch my drift? :)

Well, it's like saying, okay, you have silverware. What makes a spoon a spoon to you and what makes it not a spoon?

I see answers like:
I can eat with the spoon.
The spoon is a spoon.
The spoon picks up food.
The spoon fits in my hand.
The spoon is a utensil.

While all well and good and do define a spoon, they also define all other silverware. And they aren't really answers to the second question.

Examples:
A spoon catches food in the curvature better than a fork.
A spoon will ladle while a fork will sift.
A spoon can be used to cut but depending on the user, it might not cut as well as a knife.

So, if someone says that aikido is aikido to them because it is a path of least resistance, then that is exactly what judo does. So, how is that definition not judo to them? And, what makes it NOT aikido? What defining limits are there that do not spill over to judo in path of least resistance. If you look at Mifune, he could have done aikido easily. Yet, all can tell that he isn't doing aikido. He's doing judo. But, most answers that I saw here apply equally well to what Mifune does as they do to aikido. How then, does that replied answer define what makes Aikido aikido to them?

Am I making any sense at all?

eyrie
08-28-2007, 05:41 PM
Yup, aikido = spoon, judo = fork. Can't eat soup with fork... can't eat spaghetti with spoon. Gotcha. :D

MM
08-28-2007, 06:21 PM
Yup, aikido = spoon, judo = fork. Can't eat soup with fork... can't eat spaghetti with spoon. Gotcha. :D

LOL!

Well, I eat ice cream and soup with a fork sometimes. And I've been told that you aren't "properly" eating spaghetti if you aren't using a spoon. :)

Mark

G DiPierro
08-28-2007, 06:45 PM
LOL!

Well, I eat ice cream and soup with a fork sometimes. And I've been told that you aren't "properly" eating spaghetti if you aren't using a spoon. :)

Mark

You might want to ask someone else (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9F07E1DA1238F93AA25756C0A964948260): "As to the use of a fork plus a spoon for eating pasta, all those at the table were adamant. Spoons are for children, amateurs and people with bad table manners in general."

Seems to me like if Ueshiba's vision of aikido was that of a fine sterling spoon, most of what is called aikido today is closer to a cheap plastic spork. Yes, you can eat a wide variety of things with it, but it isn't really well suited to any of them.

Erick Mead
08-28-2007, 08:44 PM
Seems to me like if Ueshiba's vision of aikido was that of a fine sterling spoon, most of what is called aikido today is closer to a cheap plastic spork. Yes, you can eat a wide variety of things with it, but it isn't really well suited to any of them. Sterling? Just sterling? My good lady wife, silver afficionado, begs to differ. Do you mean a place spoon? Dessert spoon? Baby spoon? Berry spoon (small and large)? Bon-bon spoon? Ice cream spoon? Jam spoon? Salt spoon (master and individual) ? Ice spoon? Egg spoon? Cracker spoon? Nut spoon? Cream soup spoon? Bouillon spoon? Sugar spoon? Tea spoon? Coffee spoon? Demitasse spoon? Gumbo spoon? Citrus spoon? Olive spoon (short and long) ? Chocolate muddler (individual and master)? Stuffing spoon? Vegetable spoon? Pea spoon? Salad spoon? Claret spoon? Mote spoon? Tea caddy spoon?

Just a spoon?

Best to stop. You'll get her started on forks, if you are not careful. She's dangerous with forks.

Peter Goldsbury
08-28-2007, 09:25 PM
What I'm asking is; what is that fundamental set of things that defines aikido for you?

Regards,

I do not think it lies in the waza, so much as in the lineage. In terms of waza, what I am doing could just as easily be described as some form of Daito-ryu. But we know that what Ueshiba was doing received the name 'aikido' in 1942 and this is enough for me.

I must admit, though, that I have never spent much time looking for the fundamental things that would figure in a definition of what I am doing. I suppose that this is because (1) I have been trained in Greek philosophy and can see the problems involved in defining anything, and (2) all my teachers have had a very clear link with M Ueshiba and so it has not mattered very much.

Since what I am doing is a practice: a complex, habit-forming activity that does not have a specific objective other than the activity itself, the only way I can learn how to do it properly is by doing it and learning to do it better by imitating those who can do it better than I can. Sporting activities are similar, of course, and one of the reasons why I took up aikido is that it is not a sport. But this, of course, still leaves the field wide open.

My teachers have almost always been Aikikai, mainly because when I moved from place to place, the previous teacher recommended another one. But this was still rather arbitrary and if I had found a good Tomiki or Yoseikan teacher at some point, I would almost certainly have followed them.

So, to conclude, I have never searched for "that set of fundamental things that defines aikido" for me. Some people might have to do this and believe that they are not practising the art unless they have done this, but I have never had to do it.

This does not, of course, remove the need for study and I have found that periodically you have to go back to the beginning and recreate things, so to speak. Ecountering new teachers is a good occasion for this, since they invariably do things differently. A few weeks ago we had a joint session in my dojo with Nakao Shihan from Kobe. This was a good occasion for going back and looking again at how Seigo Yamaguchi used to practise.

I think there is a danger that by defining aikido too closely, too specifically, you will exclude much that is useful, even important.

Best wishes,

jennifer paige smith
08-28-2007, 10:09 PM
LOL!

Well, I eat ice cream and soup with a fork sometimes. And I've been told that you aren't "properly" eating spaghetti if you aren't using a spoon. :)

Mark

I'm amused that your signature quote is about a spoon.

eyrie
08-28-2007, 10:26 PM
And I've been told that you aren't "properly" eating spaghetti if you aren't using a spoon. Nah... spoons are for... wu.. uh... what's that Giancarlo? Ah yes... children, amateurs and people with bad table manners.

Chopsticks... now there's an interesting and challenging (for some) utensil... but it's really a karate (kid) thing isn't it?

I think Aikido is kinda like that... a kind of general, vague and non-specific utensil (I think cheap plastic spork is a good analogy, btw, but I;m sure chopsticks would do fine as well). But, presumably you'd want to use the right utensil for the right type of cuisine, or depending on the formality of the occasion, you might want to familiarize yourself with the different types of utensils in Erick's veritable list - lest you be labeled amateurish or ill-mannered.

Mike Haftel
08-28-2007, 11:06 PM
Well, it's like saying, okay, you have silverware. What makes a spoon a spoon to you and what makes it not a spoon?

I see answers like:
I can eat with the spoon.
The spoon is a spoon.
The spoon picks up food.
The spoon fits in my hand.
The spoon is a utensil.

While all well and good and do define a spoon, they also define all other silverware. And they aren't really answers to the second question.

Examples:
A spoon catches food in the curvature better than a fork.
A spoon will ladle while a fork will sift.
A spoon can be used to cut but depending on the user, it might not cut as well as a knife.

So, if someone says that aikido is aikido to them because it is a path of least resistance, then that is exactly what judo does. So, how is that definition not judo to them? And, what makes it NOT aikido? What defining limits are there that do not spill over to judo in path of least resistance. If you look at Mifune, he could have done aikido easily. Yet, all can tell that he isn't doing aikido. He's doing judo. But, most answers that I saw here apply equally well to what Mifune does as they do to aikido. How then, does that replied answer define what makes Aikido aikido to them?

Am I making any sense at all?

Yes, I understand.

Questions, like the one posed in this thread, can not be answered using written word or verbal communicaiton. The world must be experienced; it can not be abstracted or defined in terms.

The only logical answer to the questions like, "What is Aikido? How is Aikido Aikido? How is Aikido not Aikido?" would be to demonstrate Aikido ON the person doing the asking.

It's like trying to describe what salt tastes like to somebody who has never had it, or someone who has no taste buds, or someone who has no concept of taste, itself.

But, this is all just rehashed theories and thoughts from other studies like linguistics, semantics, pragmatics, Taoism, and the Ding an Sich.

"What is a spoon?" *hols up a spoon*
"How is a spoon, a spoon?" *uses a spoon for its original, intended purpose*
"How is a spoon not a spoon?" *uses it for some other purpose* Also, a thing can be defined by what it is not. For example, the thing...*spoon*...is a "spoon" because of the lack of *spoon* where the concave area is.

So...what is Aikido? How is it Aikido? How is it not Aikido?

Go to an Aikido dojo, hop on the mats and find out.

Anything anybody talks about, reads about, watches, or thinks about...is not Aikido.

Kind of reminds me of:

"The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao;
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery."

I'm not trying to get all mystical and esoteric here. It is simple. A thing is what it is. Nothing more; nothing less.

I don't really know what Aikido is, though. I don't think I've ever really experienced it before.

G DiPierro
08-29-2007, 01:52 AM
So...what is Aikido? How is it Aikido? How is it not Aikido?

Go to an Aikido dojo, hop on the mats and find out.

This doesn't really answer the question, unless your position is that any dojo that claims to be doing aikido is doing aikido.

Budd
08-29-2007, 05:42 AM
This doesn't really answer the question, unless your position is that any dojo that claims to be doing aikido is doing aikido.

This is a good point and I think there are two things at play, that I can see off the top of my head - not yet having had any coffee (caveat culpa):

1) Where did you get your stuff/transmission, in other words, if you're doing Ueshiba's aikido, what connection do have back to him? Who authorized you to teach? That kind of thing.

2) What are the stated goals for a dojo's practice and how does the training prepare one to meet or exceed those goals?

Ron Tisdale
08-29-2007, 07:06 AM
Peter, very good post, especially for this thread.

Please give Nakao Sensei my best if you see/train with him again. He was a real pleasure to train with.

Best,
Ron

tarik
08-31-2007, 05:17 PM
I'm not sure what, exactly, you are asking here.

But, to me, it's like asking:

How is a spoon a spoon?
How is a spoon not a spoon?

Catch my drift? :)

Not really, no. I don't know anyone who find their lives changed because of their obsession with and/or practice of spooning.

It seems to happen a lot in aikido. Arguably, such obsession should be tempered, but that's a different thread. :)

There just...is.

Define "is". ;)


Questions, like the one posed in this thread, can not be answered using written word or verbal communicaiton. The world must be experienced; it can not be abstracted or defined in terms.

I'd agree with you if you had inserted the word 'solely'.

The only logical answer to the questions like, "What is Aikido? How is Aikido Aikido? How is Aikido not Aikido?" would be to demonstrate Aikido ON the person doing the asking.

I wouldn't rule it out and in fact believe that there's a lot that must be felt to make clear what we're talking about, but to say that there is no meaningful verbal or written communication that can be conveyed does not match my experiences.

But, this is all just rehashed theories and thoughts from other studies like linguistics, semantics, pragmatics, Taoism, and the Ding an Sich.

And yet much of the commotion discussed on aikiweb.com and elsewhere around aikido is because people have trouble with identifying aikido, agreeing upon it's original intended purpose, agreeing upon other purposes to which it can be put.

Go to an Aikido dojo, hop on the mats and find out.

I would hope that most of us do that.

Anything anybody talks about, reads about, watches, or thinks about...is not Aikido.

My intent was not to get existential with my questions, but if you read it that way, that's cool. My intent was to find out why the heck so many people who practice aikido have a hard time with other people who practice aikido a little differently, but have no less legitimate a lineage.

That and it's interesting and informative (educational) to me to read how different people approach their practice, what defines it, and even whether the discussion of it is meaningful to them. It's all educational to me.

Thanks,

tarik
08-31-2007, 05:32 PM
Mr. Goldsbury,

I do not think it lies in the waza, so much as in the lineage. In terms of waza, what I am doing could just as easily be described as some form of Daito-ryu. But we know that what Ueshiba was doing received the name 'aikido' in 1942 and this is enough for me.

And me.

So, to conclude, I have never searched for "that set of fundamental things that defines aikido" for me. Some people might have to do this and believe that they are not practising the art unless they have done this, but I have never had to do it.

I'm not so sure that I've ever searched for the definitions of aikido, but I have certainly searched for how to do it better. What I'm very curious about is understanding why there are such strange controversies in aikido. Of course, with some small understanding of human nature, I already know the answer to that question, I suppose.

This does not, of course, remove the need for study and I have found that periodically you have to go back to the beginning and recreate things, so to speak. Ecountering new teachers is a good occasion for this, since they invariably do things differently.

Invariably exposure to a new teacher should stir the pot.

I think there is a danger that by defining aikido too closely, too specifically, you will exclude much that is useful, even important.

How do we know aikido when we see it? Being specific has it's place, but there is certainly an implicit danger in being a fundamentalist, and that is not my intent.

Regardless, asking the question provided a fascinating view of my compatriots on aikiweb and offers some small insight into how they also approach their training.

Thank you for your thoughts,

salim
08-31-2007, 09:10 PM
How do we know aikido when we see it? Being specific has it's place, but there is certainly an implicit danger in being a fundamentalist, and that is not my intent.

Regardless, asking the question provided a fascinating view of my compatriots on aikiweb and offers some small insight into how they also approach their training.

Thank you for your thoughts,[/QUOTE]

How do we know Aikido when we see it? There seems to be a mentality among the Aikikai organization that stereotypies the Aikidoist methodology as one. This fundamentalist mindset, a sort of martial arts dogma, restrains progressiveness. It's time to change this mindset towards progressiveness, a continuation of evolving Aikido.

MM
08-31-2007, 09:29 PM
What I'm very curious about is understanding why there are such strange controversies in aikido. Of course, with some small understanding of human nature, I already know the answer to that question, I suppose.


Yes, it is human nature. The same thing has happened to Daito ryu, I think. And other martial arts. The only other alternative would be a structure similar to koryu. But, even then, the problems do not go away but are merely diminished somewhat.


How do we know aikido when we see it? Being specific has it's place, but there is certainly an implicit danger in being a fundamentalist, and that is not my intent.

Regardless, asking the question provided a fascinating view of my compatriots on aikiweb and offers some small insight into how they also approach their training.

Thank you for your thoughts,

There will invariably come a time when one must choose which "aikido" to follow. Some have already chosen and thus you see Tomiki "style", Shioda "style", etc. As Goldsbury sensei has mentioned in other posts, some people chose not to leave a legacy behind. Their "style" of "aikido" died with them. No one coming after has the choice to follow that aikido.

As one of my teachers answered the question of which martial art is best -- it's the one you are good at and love (paraphrasing horribly). So, it is with aikido. None of the "styles" or "schools" are better or worse than any other. The student is what matters. Sometimes, we lose sight of that. It's why good teachers are so important. They put us back on the path when we stray, not just for aikido training but for all Budo, of which reigi is a part.

Now, I'm straying a bit. I'll get back to the thread topic. The student matters. And at some point, the student will make a choice on which "aikido" to follow. Some will make that choice many times, some just once. But that choice is what will define what makes Aikido aikido to them.

A lot of Ueshiba Morihei's students chose to travel different paths in their Aikido. Very few tried to follow his vision. Even his son went a different way. Again, there is no good or bad, just different. And now there are a multitude of choices in aikido.

Lately, I've been trying to understand Ueshiba Morihei's Aikido. As Clark sensei posted a quote from Ueshiba, "You can't do my aikido; you must find your own." But how can you find your own "aikido" if you do not understand the aikido of those who came before? And understanding Ueshiba Morihei's Aikido seems to be the hardest. But I make no qualms about it anymore -- I don't want to come close to Ueshiba's skill, I don't want to be Ueshiba or equal his skill -- I want to be better than the skill level of Ueshiba Morihei.

G DiPierro
08-31-2007, 11:35 PM
How do we know Aikido when we see it? There seems to be a mentality among the Aikikai organization that stereotypies the Aikidoist methodology as one. This fundamentalist mindset, a sort of martial arts dogma, restrains progressiveness. It's time to change this mindset towards progressiveness, a continuation of evolving Aikido.As a yoga practitioner, I often read articles on yoga that I think apply equally to aikido. One of my all-time favorites in this regard is an article by Richard Freeman (http://www.yogaworkshop.com/Reading_details/philosophy_articles_fundamentalism.html) that discusses the danger of a fundamentalist approach -- "my school is the only legitimate style" -- on the one hand and the relativist approach -- "all schools are equally legitimate" -- on the other, encouraging a middle path between them. For aikido practitioners, try reading "aikido" when you encounter the word "yoga." I have made this substitution (in italics) in the text of the following excerpts:

"Rather than a direct experience of reality, an unconditional love and freedom, Fundamentalism often causes us to mistake the processes and symbols of aikido for the actual thing. This separates us from immediate experience of the openness of being and our aikido ironically becomes an escape from life, an avoidance of the present moment. Many have even adopted aikido as an obligatory set of self punishments, dutifully done in order to achieve a picture of virtue laid out in our or somebody elseˇÇs mind. Other have made it a self indulgence used to conceal a lack of love and relationship, a badge of difference, for an isolated, insecure ego. Sometimes aikido creates competition, envy, loneliness and self righteous feelings. Many of us have found in aikido an exotic religion, a Shangri-la in which to escape unaware. Others still have used hard practice in an attempt to create the physiology of ecstatic trance, to bypass the heart of insight and love where the real ecstacy is. In the social realm differences of technique between schools can bring out anger, fear and competition between aikidoists. Even within the same school, slight differences in technique and interpretation between practitioners brings on painful jealousy and conflict. This not to say that all our aikido world is so bleak. But when we find suffering, clinging, closing of the mind and heart, we must ask, "why"?
...
"We so easily reduce ourselves and others to our theories. We fight for the flag, rather than the (less conceivable) whole of our nation. We cling to an aikido principle out of its context, resting on our beliefs and codes, rather than looking for ourselves with fresh unbiased eyes. We even reduce our aikido practice to theories and techniques, and are then afraid to expose those theories to a natural process of refinement. Real aikido, real relationship, consciousness are lost in this idolatry. Images, mirrors, theories and methods are essential (occasionally precise) tools of the martial art. But none of them can embody fully the thing-in-itself. Every technique, every spiral is an incomplete description, calling out for a context and a complementary counter-description.

"We align ourselves with a doctrine or a school or a myth, because it is efficient to do so, and because it is difficult to bear in mind what the whole school or myth is supposedly teaching. Yet, in aikido the whole teaching is vitally important: the de-coding of the signs and symbols back into the present moment, into our original inspiration. The flag, the name of the school, becomes essential for us. After all, it is only the sign that can be pinned on our ego like a badge , while the whole of the teaching exposes the ego function. [I]An aikido school stained with literalism naturally dislikes both the critical, secular world and other aikido schools. To avoid their own internal transformation such a school or individual creates stereotyped images of the others. When we are about to grow in insight we have to sacrifice both our present self image and the images to which we have reduced others.
...
"[On the other hand,] Relativism refuses all formula, endeavor and exploration to any depth. It reflects a kind of pseudo enlightenment, which crosses a sour-grapes attitude and an anti-form monism to produce an ineffectual, sucrose spirituality. The unity that exists in the unfathomable depths of the spirit is brought up and superimposed on the realm of diversity in such slogans as: "All is one. We need not try. All aikido is good. All teachers are good. All paths are the same!" As sweet and open minded as this may sound, it is actually insidious and dangerous. Consider relativism in other fields: "All music is beautiful. All political leaders are good. All medicines are the same. There is no need to try to communicate with your loved ones." ...any shared, objective reality is ultimately denied by "create your own reality" relativism. It becomes the ultimate rationale, the trump card of cop-outs, allowing us to conveniently forget relationships, responsibilities, communication and any need to work or inquire into deep or difficult subjects."

tarik
09-01-2007, 12:10 AM
How do we know Aikido when we see it? There seems to be a mentality among the Aikikai organization that stereotypies the Aikidoist methodology as one. This fundamentalist mindset, a sort of martial arts dogma, restrains progressiveness. It's time to change this mindset towards progressiveness, a continuation of evolving Aikido.

Honestly, Salim, my experience does not match yours. I don't think this is an "Aikikai" attitude, per se, although I'll agree that I've seen it there. I have also seen a 'fundamentalist' mindset concerning aikido outside of the Aikikai just as much as I've seen it inside the Aikikai. If there is more inside the Aikikai, I would imagine that it's because the Aikikai is pretty much the largest organization worldwide, with the most different styles. That actually suggests to me that, in general, and with perhaps notable exceptions, they are trying to be progressive and inclusive rather than vice versa.

I've read your thread on Aikibudo/Yoseikan Techniques and found it amusing and ironic that most of the people who tried to offer their different perspective and understanding of history that you disagreed with were not Aikikai members themselves. Did you catch that?

IAC, I've seen good and bad aikido in every [aikido] organization that I've encountered. It's to be expected at varying levels.

Regards,

tarik
09-01-2007, 12:23 AM
As a yoga practitioner, I often read articles on yoga that I think apply equally to aikido. One of my all-time favorites in this regard is an article by Richard Freeman (http://www.yogaworkshop.com/Reading_details/philosophy_articles_fundamentalism.html) that discusses the danger of a fundamentalist approach -- "my school is the only legitimate style" -- on the one hand and the relativist approach -- "all schools are equally legitimate" -- on the other, encouraging a middle path between them. For aikido practitioners, try reading "aikido" when you encounter the word "yoga."

It was so good I wanted to quote all of it, but it's already right there. I particularly like this part, a behavior which saddens me, particularly when I see it taught. I sincerely believe that damage is done in the name of the 'good' that is being taught.


"[On the other hand,] Relativism refuses all formula, endeavor and exploration to any depth. It reflects a kind of pseudo enlightenment, which crosses a sour-grapes attitude and an anti-form monism to produce an ineffectual, sucrose spirituality. The unity that exists in the unfathomable depths of the spirit is brought up and superimposed on the realm of diversity in such slogans as: "All is one. We need not try. All aikido is good. All teachers are good. All paths are the same!" As sweet and open minded as this may sound, it is actually insidious and dangerous. Consider relativism in other fields: "All music is beautiful. All political leaders are good. All medicines are the same. There is no need to try to communicate with your loved ones." ...any shared, objective reality is ultimately denied by "create your own reality" relativism. It becomes the ultimate rationale, the trump card of cop-outs, allowing us to conveniently forget relationships, responsibilities, communication and any need to work or inquire into deep or difficult subjects."

I do, however, believe that this expresses an extreme that most people who live this don't follow completely. I think that such relativists sincerely believe that they are trying, that they are doing the work and inquiring into deep and difficult subjects; but when they don't have at least working answers after 10 or 20 years of training, something important is missing.

Regards,

Christopher Gee
09-01-2007, 03:31 AM
For me (IMHO)

Shisei
Awase Ho
Kuzushi
Tenuchi

But this is by no means unique.... literally the fact that Ueshiba created it make it unique in that respect.

Osu

Peter Goldsbury
09-04-2007, 06:11 AM
Mr. Goldsbury,

I'm not so sure that I've ever searched for the definitions of aikido, but I have certainly searched for how to do it better. What I'm very curious about is understanding why there are such strange controversies in aikido. Of course, with some small understanding of human nature, I already know the answer to that question, I suppose.

Well, the phrase I quoted, "that set of fundamental things that defines aikido", was your phrase, used in one of your posts and so I thought that this was what you were searching for. I think that searching for what aikido is and searching for ways to do it better are rather different. I have never had to search for what aikido is, for it has always been shown to me as aikido. As for controversies, my own opinion, expressed in the series of columns I am writing, is that Morihei Ueshiba never cared to define the art in such a way that satisfies the logical requirements of a definition, as understood in the western (= Graeco-Roman) intellectual tradition. And so, others who have no affiliation to either Ueshiba or the organizations created by his deshi can rightly claim to be practising 'aikido', in the sense in which the name was chosen by the Dai Nippon Butokukai in 1942. I think we need to think more carefully what happened in 1942 and this has some relevance to another thread entitled ‘A New Breed of Aikido’.

In 1942 the Pacific War was moving to a climax and the Japanese military government was using the Dai Nippon Butokukai, created much earlier, to organize the martial arts on a war footing. I think that Ueshiba really had no choice but to have the art he created recognized by the military government. The assistance of Minoru Hirai was sought and I think that Hirai and Ueshiba moved for a while on parallel lines, so to speak. So Hirai became the Soumu-buchou of the Kobukai and represented the Kobukai’s interests on the Dai Nippon Butokukai. Much has been made of this relationship, but I have my doubts that it was very close.

I think that it is important to understand that, based on the evidence we have, ‘aikido’ was a general name applied to a certain type of art that was defined negatively: it was marked off from other arts. In other words, certain arts could be called ‘aikido’ because they were not like, e.g., judo, or kendo, not because they had any positive qualities that signified the essence of aikido. It was not the name of a particular ryu, nor was it the intellectual property of one particular family. I think there is no avoiding this conclusion, based on the evidence we have, and the only way of gaining more knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the naming of aikido is to search through the military archives, if these exist. Perhaps this will be one of my post-retirement projects.

However, it has to be stated that in the public mind the name ‘aikido’ after the war came to be associated with Morihei Ueshiba and Minoru Hirai became a ‘deshi’ of Ueshiba. Was he really a deshi? I can think of a parallel development after the war. My predecessor as IAF General Secretary was a man named Seiichi Seko. I never saw him practise aikido, but I was told that he was a ‘deshi’ of Morihei Ueshiba before the war (though his name does not appear in any dojo lists). After the war he became a strong supporter of Kisshomaru Ueshiba. Was he a deshi of Kisshomaru? In a very extended sense, Yes. But only in the sense that I, too, am a ‘grandchild’ deshi of Morihei Ueshiba (whom I never met) because I practise aikido at the hands of his direct deshi.

I think it is undeniable that Minoru Hirai was pursuing his own martial interests long before he met Morihei Ueshiba and continued to pursue these interests after 1942. For a while he became associated with Ueshiba and gave crucial assistance at a time when the Kobukai needed it. Then their paths separated, but I suspect that Hirai had very good grounds to insist that the art he named after his relationship with Ueshiba largely ceased could be called ‘aikido’.

How do we know aikido when we see it? Being specific has its place, but there is certainly an implicit danger in being a fundamentalist, and that is not my intent.

I think that Morihei Ueshiba's general laxity in failing to define more exactly what he was actually doing, especially for future generations living outside Japan, has caused problems for his successors, especially the Aikikai. After World War II Ueshiba really became a kind of aikido 'Emperor', as this personage is conceived here. He largely lived in a world of his own, appeared in the dojo from time to time and on these occasions either taught or delivered lectures or pronouncements. Whenever he appeared, everything stopped and people dropped to their knees and waited to see what he would do. Whatever he said, of course, had to be of immense significance and every word was excavated to extract every last vestige of meaning. So it would never have made sense to ask him to define what he had created. It was all there anyway.

The organization he created had a problem, however, and I would love to have been a fly on the wall during the conversations between Morihei Ueshiba and Kisshomaru, especially in the immediate aftermath of Japan's defeat in 1945. There are over ten years in question here, since Ueshiba stayed in Iwama from 1942 to 1955. Morihiro Saito became his deshi in Iwama and we know that Kisshomaru Ueshiba divided his time between the Tokyo Dojo and Iwama. But nothing has come from this period except the reminiscences in Saito Sensei's earlier books and Kisshomaru’s own (untranslated) autobiography. For example, Kisshomaru kept his postwar job in Tokyo a secret for as long as he could and all hell broke lose when Dad found out. For me, thinking of the relationship I had with my father (which, I think, was no different from other father-son relationships, as I have discussed these with my own schoolmates etc), this is hard to imagine. But Kisshomaru quietly stood his ground and continued working there until he became head of the Aikikai in 1955.

The fact that Kisshomaru Ueshiba took a job to make sure that he could feed the deshi whom his father had accepted speaks volumes, in my opinion, of Kisshomaru's commitment to the art. I mention Kisshomaru here because it was he who was responsible for defining the essential features of aikido, especially for non-Japanese. He had a big problem with Koichi Tohei, but both saw the need to break away from the old prewar Shinto/nationalist mindset and present aikido as a modern, efficient martial art, which could be understood and practiced by anybody, but which admitted of the same degree of commitment as its prewar predecessor aikibudo.

With respect to the defining characteristics of aikido, I would like to recount some of the issues relating to this question that I experienced on my recent trip to Malaysia and Brunei. (I hope that if any members of the Aikikai Malaysia Association who participated in my seminars read this, they will contribute, if only to make sure that my perceptions are not mistaken.)

My reason for visiting Malaysia and Brunei was to educate myself about the circumstances of an IAF member federation; it was not to give training courses as an aikido shihan. However, I have 6th dan rank and I was expected to give classes. Of course, I did so and afterwards some senior yudansha began to talk to me: they had been training for several years under the direction of a Japanese shihan, but had never before seen the waza that I was showing them (waza which I have been practicing for nearly 30 years in Hiroshima). They had been told that only certain waza were Aikikai waza and that only certain types of training were approved by the Aikikai (weapons training was specifically excluded). I could see the reason for the shihan’s concern. I believe (I may be wrong) that Penchak Silat is a Malayan martial art and I know that many of the yudansha were also experienced in this art. I think the shihan, who had some knowledge of the Japanese sword, wanted to mark off very clearly the area of aikido from the indigenous art, but in doing so had deprived his senior yudansha of a way of broadening their own training horizons. The yudansha were looking for ways of testing aikido against PK and so my classes were a breath of fresh air. Was what I was doing aikido? Of course. My training lineage is very clear. Was it Aikikai? Of course, for the same reasons.

Of course, it has often been stated that the Aikikai is not a particular way of doing aikido. I this is why attempting to produce a set of defining characteristics for ‘Aikikai aikido’ is doomed to fail.

Best wishes,

Allen Beebe
09-04-2007, 08:19 AM
Hi Peter,

I really enjoyed your post. I can really empathize with your statement:

"Was what I was doing aikido? Of course. My training lineage is very clear. Was it Aikikai? Of course, for the same reasons."

I don't know how many times I heard, "That isn't Aikido!" So often that I began to wonder if others were right . . . but in the end, it is as you say.

I sent the following to George some time ago and never bothered to post it, but maybe it will be of use to somebody here.

Thanks again for sharing your insights here. (And thanks to Jun for the opportunity.)

Best,
Allen Beebe

Allen,
I didn't mean to ignore this. I REALLY appreciate your thoughts. I think you
should post this, it's excellent. I've just been so busy. Just got back from
DC and Saotome sensei's 70th birthday bash and seminar. Been booking my
flights for my tow East Coast trips coming up in May and July... Anyway,
thanks for this and stay in touch.
- George

-----Original Message-----
From: kodokanaikido@comcast.net [mailto:kodokanaikido@comcast.net]
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2007 4:42 PM
To: aikigeorge@aikieast.com
Subject: Beebe's Babble

Hi George,

I wrote a bunch of crap and decided not to post it. Still, maybe you might
find parts interesting.

All the best,
Allen

After reading the comments by George here and elsewhere, it made me think of
a post I had made on my own organization's website in order to better define
for my students what our school's vision of Aikido is. I did this in the
hope that it would help my students keep the "big picture" in view while we
focus on the minutia (developing the physical/mental/tactical
characteristics and skills required to efficiently function in a hostile
environment) that is often the substance of our day-to-day practice. This
is our (Kodokan Aikido's 光道館合気道)
view of Aikido, and I'm not trying to sell it to anyone. I share it here in
the sincere hope that it may prompt some thoughtful reflection, even if the
result is a better defining of why your personal or organization's
respective interpretation of Aikido is different from ours.

It seems to me important to know where one intends to go if one
realistically expects to be able to get there, even if one's intention is to
be here now.

[As an aside in relation to George's "The Future of Aikido" piece, when I
first met Shirata sensei I was in the process of "burning out" of my former
Aikido organization of which I had been a member for about 5 years. I was a
bit reluctant to jump right in and join another organization so I waited a
year before deciding that it would be 'OK' to join Shirata sensei's
organization, the Aikikai. When I mentioned this to my sempai at the time
his response was, "Why would you want to?" I decided to let it "ride" for a
while to see if anybody would mention anything, most particularly Shirata
sensei. He never did. In fact almost a decade passed where we trained,
regularly corresponded, and he sent a message, and two pieces of calligraphy
to my dojo opening (he was terminally ill at the time) signed with his name
and title, but no mention was ever made of any of the organizations to which
he belonged and in which he held high positions.

To this day, two decades later, I have the rank that was given to me 20
years ago by my former organization but no rank from the organization to
which my most beloved and respected teacher belonged. And for this I am
most particularly grateful. You see, not only did he give me wonderful
teachings, words of encouragement and an example to aspire to, he also gave
me the freedom to study and learn what he taught. I strongly believe he
knew that, being the nobody that I was and am, if I had come under the
purview of his (or any other large organization) I would be forced to
conform to their norms in order to exist within that organization. He could
get away, to a greater or lesser extent, with what he wanted. He lived and
taught out in the "sticks" (Yamagata.) Besides, he was SHIRATA SENSEI, his
only real constraint was his devotion to his teacher and consequent
allegiance to his family. Even the 2nd Doshu said as much in his eulogy for
Shirata sensei:

"I would like to make it clear that the Aikikai is an organization to spread
a fine Way, yet Shirata Shihan devoted himself not to the organization, but
to the Way. He was devoted to the founder and the Way that the founder had
established. Because of this, he did much for me and for aikido."

Shirata sensei understood Ueshiba Morihei's Aikido to be a Budo AND a
spiritual path AND both should be, and can be, real. I've had students
suggest that I change the name of what I teach to Aiki Budo, or whatever, to
differentiate it from other Aikido schools but I think that this would be
wrong. I teach the best that I can what I learned from my teacher and what
he taught was Aikido . . . maybe different from others, but Aikido
nonetheless.

The strength that I see in George's teacher, IMHO, is his willingness and
confidence in his students. It appears that he trusts them as a conduit of
the teaching passed on by him to the degree that he is not threatened by,
but rather encourages, their drive to seek further insights and
understandings via other sources into the art that they strive to further
comprehend and pass on. With leadership such as this certainly they will,
like the willow and bamboo, weather the storms of change.

What is Kodokan Aikido's Goal?: Kodokan Aikido's ultimate goal is Aikido's
ultimate goal, to make our world a better place by making ourselves better
people. In other words, "Masa Katsu, A Katsu."

How does it work?: The underlying idea is that when we truly recognize our
absolute inter-connectedness with all beings and things, we think, speak and
act from that experience. When our thoughts, words and actions accurately
accord with a balanced view of reality they naturally lead to balanced and
beneficial outcomes.

How do we realize this inter-connectedness?: Our means to this understanding
is paradoxically martial shugyo. The realizations gained from physical
practice can and must, in Aikido, be extended to our life as a whole. If one
hopes to gain real insights one must risk engaging reality. Conversely, if
one wishes to develop and/or maintain their hypothetical/theoretical
conceptualizations one should only practice hypothetically/theoretically, as
reality tends to unsympathetically point out contradictions between our
conceptions and what is actual.

What is the process to gain this realization?: The process is, again, Masa
Katsu, A Katsu, Katsu Hayabi. Yes, the process of Aikido IS the goal of
Aikido!

In order to attain realization via martial shugyo, that shugyo must openly
and honesty accept the hardships and heartache that normally occur as a
consequence of recognizing the differences between what we perceive or wish
to be and what actually is. Shugyo is the process of working hard to
disclose these discrepancies and accord one's self with the lessons derived
there from. This is a practice of honesty and sincerity. This kind of
honesty relies upon one sincerely desiring to change and improve oneself.
This kind of sincerity produces the courage required to face and accept the
pain and discomfort that inevitably accompanies the process of change.
Courage in turn helps to produce the zeal and fortitude necessary to endure
the rigors of the process of according ourselves with our new realizations,
rooting out our habitual tendencies and remaining ever vigilant so as to not
fall back.

What are Aikido's values?: Honesty, Sincerity, Courageousness,
Compassion/Kindness, Openness, Humility, Zeal and Fortitude

Is Aikido a set of techniques? No. Aikido is a way of self-realization via
martial shugyo. Aikido contains a compendium of techniques (largely
inherited from Daito-ryu) that illustrate principles that, when seriously
and sincerely perused as such, can lead one to understandings that can
prompt efficacious behaviors in both martial engagements and in life.

Is Kodokan Aikido better than X?: Kodokan Aikido, nor any other school or
art, has a patent on reality. What works works regardless of name or origin.
The more important question is, "Is YOUR martial/life practice working for
YOU?" Are you achieving in actuality what you desire and/or your art claims
to deliver? If the answer is 'Yes' then consider yourself lucky and carry
on. If the answer is, "No" then it is time for a change. It matters little
what 'brand' of improvement one uses. What matters is whether it is working!

What are the technical traits of Kodokan Aikido: It works well for the
situations for which it was intended. It doesn't require cooperation,
collaboration or prior knowledge on behalf of Uke. It assumes multiple
opponents with lethal intent and the involvement of bladed weaponry.
Therefore it is proactive and decisive both mentally and physically.

What are the pedagogical traits of Kodokan Aikido: Kodokan Aikido curriculum
reflects a logical progression of physical development and technical
understandings. Progression is both linear with one level building upon
another and cyclical each stage possessing multiple layers of sophistication
and understanding.

What are the stages of Kodokan Aikido practice: The stages of Kodoakan
Aikido practice are: Jujutsu, Aiki Jujutsu, Aiki no Jutsu. These correspond
to Gen (Manifest), Rei (Hidden), Shin (Devine).

Does Kodokan Aikido differ from Aikido as taught by Ueshiba Morihei and/or
Shirata Rinjiro? Yes and No. Yes, in that every individual's understanding
and practice is unique. No, in that Kodokan Aikido has a direct
correspondence to all of the oral, written and physical teachings of both
Morihei Ueshiba and Shirata Rinjiro. Ultimately what made these teachers
unique was what they did was 'real.' They walked their talk physically and
with their lives as a whole. Were they perfect? They were perfectly human.
Members of Kodokan Aikido are encouraged to do the same. Strive to walk your
talk martially and spiritually.

*real is defined by the "is it working" principal. In other words, when the
rubber hits the road, does your martial technique work in actuality or only
hypothetically? When the rubber hits the road, is your spiritual life
working in actuality or only hypothetically? In order to honesty determine
the answers to these questions one must regularly, honestly and openly ask
oneself these questions and strive to rectify any discrepancies. This is
Masa Katsu, A Katsu, Katsu Hayabi and the 'practice' of Aikido.

Budd
09-04-2007, 10:29 AM
Mr. Beebe, that was wonderful to read.

Thank you for sharing that.

G DiPierro
09-04-2007, 10:44 AM
I do, however, believe that this expresses an extreme that most people who live this don't follow completely. I think that such relativists sincerely believe that they are trying, that they are doing the work and inquiring into deep and difficult subjects; but when they don't have at least working answers after 10 or 20 years of training, something important is missing.My experience training in various aikido dojos has been that fundamentalism is a worse problem than relativism, but both seem to be in force in the internet forums. Apparently, 16% percent of respondents (that's almost 1 in 6) to a recent poll (http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=389) here adhere to the belief that there is no such thing as bad aikido. For more yogic perspectives on the dangers of such a relativist approach to spirituality, see here (http://ashtangasantabarbara.com/blog/2007/05/30/the-shadow-of-the-yogi/) and here (http://xzaryoga.blogspot.com/2007/08/facing-shadow.html).

One distinction that I think is important to make in a thread such as this is between the question of what aikido is and that of what good aikido is. I agree with the position, outlined in this thread by Peter Goldsbury and in others by Amir Krause, that aikido is a generic name that anyone can use without respect to lineage or affiliation. It stands to reason that if Morihei Ueshiba wanted to create an exclusive art, then he would have followed the traditional koryu protocol and called his style something like Ueshiba-ryu or Ueshiba-ha Daito-ryu. He expressly did not.

However, I still have a very specific idea of what constitutes good aikido, just as I have clear opinions of what constitutes good iaido, taijiquan, or capoeira, to name a few examples of arts with generic names that are nonetheless clearly identifiable regardless of the specific details of lineage. Naturally, in the arts in which I have more experience and knowledge my standards are more developed and exacting. In the case of aikido, my opinion happens to be that much of what is practiced in the big organizations with solid lineage through Morihei Ueshiba is not what I would consider particularly good from either a martial or spiritual perspective.

Martin Goodyear
09-04-2007, 04:35 PM
Hello everyone, this is my first contribution.

When I started aikido, a dan grade said to me "If you want to know what aikido is all about, ask a blue belt!"

More practically, like what (I think) Ledyard Sensei said in an interview - about moving someone's mind in order to move their body. This isn't a definition, but I sometimes find that philosophically-loaded technical points are more enlightening.

For me, I like how the techniques have opportunities where you COULD do something quite nasty, usually an atemi, but you don't, and the end result leaves both partners buzzing and unharmed. Naturally, in a live situation, you might not feel that you "have your partners mind" to the extent that you don't have to hurt him, but the fact that we physically train this ideal strikes me as beautiful and possibly unique. The rough stuff's fun too, but lets face it, making the loving-protection stuff work on a committed uke is more difficult, and perhaps a defining quality of aikido.

Martin.

Allen Beebe
09-07-2007, 01:11 PM
Mr. Beebe, that was wonderful to read.

Thank you for sharing that.

Thank you Budd!

Allen

MM
09-14-2007, 10:37 AM
Well, the point I was making in my previous post must have been overlooked, since the post got its own thread space. :)
(http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13239)

I'll detail it a bit more on what I meant in that post ...

Watching the video, there is a definite look about the techniques to what some people do in aikido. Very, very close. So, what makes aikido Aikido must go beyond mere techiques. Even more so, Aikido must go beyond mere use of aiki in a jujutsu fashion. After all, one of the founders of these arts was filmed doing demos that had "internal" principles. Which then brings up the question again of what makes aikido Aikido?

Mark

ChrisMoses
09-14-2007, 10:58 AM
Well, the point I was making in my previous post must have been overlooked, since the post got its own thread space. :)
(http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13239)

I'll detail it a bit more on what I meant in that post ...

Watching the video, there is a definite look about the techniques to what some people do in aikido. Very, very close. So, what makes aikido Aikido must go beyond mere techiques. Even more so, Aikido must go beyond mere use of aiki in a jujutsu fashion. After all, one of the founders of these arts was filmed doing demos that had "internal" principles. Which then brings up the question again of what makes aikido Aikido?

Mark

I've struggled with this question for years. Personally I've found a definition of "aiki" that I'm comfortable with, a group I like to train with, and principles that I can understand. This clarity has come with greater understanding of what I think "Aikido" actually is, and I'm afraid that I have rejected it. My view of aiki is much more closely aligned with the older understanding from kenjutsu, Daito Ryu and Yanagi Ryu. This change in the meaning of aiki is specifically what I feel makes Aikido actually different from the arts that came before it. Therefore, if you dont' believe in that change, and it is the defining feature of the art, I do not believe you can consider what you are doing to be the same. I refer to what I do now as "aikibudo" or just "jujutsu" because I don't really think what I'm doing is Aikido. But then, I don't think many people are actually doing Aikido as I would define it. For a bit more in depth discussion, see this thread. (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12803)

MM
09-19-2007, 11:48 AM
I've struggled with this question for years. Personally I've found a definition of "aiki" that I'm comfortable with, a group I like to train with, and principles that I can understand. This clarity has come with greater understanding of what I think "Aikido" actually is, and I'm afraid that I have rejected it. My view of aiki is much more closely aligned with the older understanding from kenjutsu, Daito Ryu and Yanagi Ryu. This change in the meaning of aiki is specifically what I feel makes Aikido actually different from the arts that came before it. Therefore, if you dont' believe in that change, and it is the defining feature of the art, I do not believe you can consider what you are doing to be the same. I refer to what I do now as "aikibudo" or just "jujutsu" because I don't really think what I'm doing is Aikido. But then, I don't think many people are actually doing Aikido as I would define it. For a bit more in depth discussion, see this thread. (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12803)

Thanks Chris,
I reread your thread. And then I reread another article and I think I may have come to a personal understanding of an answer. :)

MM
09-19-2007, 12:01 PM
It seems Tomiki keeps on surprising me. It's like Amdur's phrase of hidden in plain sight. Tomiki was a genius and he knew the giants of his time: Ueshiba, Kano, and Mifune.

From this article by Tomiki:
http://www.judoinfo.com/tomiki2.htm

There's a small excerpt that I'll quote.


It was during this time of general decline that Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu was revived, first by Takeda Sogaku (1860-1943) and then by Morihei Ueshiba,who was Takeda's leading disciple and the man who would succeed Takeda as the head of aikido. Daito-ryu was a school of jujutsu that had been handed down for many generations in the old Aizu prefecture and was justly praised by Master Kano. Kano's praise was natural, as it takes genius to see genius. Indeed, the achievements Kano and Ueshiba are, in the annals of Japanese budo, stupendous. Kano's work as a martial artist is more well know, but Ueshiba, who was an especially pious person, expanded our understanding of the limits of enlightenment and of the unity of god and man. He also changed the name of the art from aikijujutsu to aikido, established a dojo in Tokyo in the first years of the Showa period (1925-1989), and propagated aikido both in Japan and around the world.


Ueshiba took Takeda's Daito ryu and/or aiki and transformed it. As Tomiki wrote, Ueshiba "expanded our understanding of the limits of enlightenment and of the unity of god and man." But, he didn't do that by softly blending with the Universe and stepping into golden lights. He did that by long, hard work at Daito ryu's aiki skills. You can't have Aikido without that long, hard work and you can't have Aikido without that expanded spirituality. Both are needed. With only one, you have aikido, the generic term. Not Aikido, Ueshiba's art.

IMO anyway.

Mark

ChrisMoses
09-19-2007, 02:36 PM
Thanks Mark.

If you get a chance to read Tomiki's "Judo, Appendix Aikido" (damn, that's a catchy title!) it's well worth the time. I found it interesting that he seemed to consider Aikido to be the place for budo and martial efficacy and judo the place for sport and all the personal development that has to offer. Different methods to explore common principles and methods (that's my reading of it anyway). That article you link is one of my favorites. It's simple, well written and doesn't make any wild claims.

Vincent Munoz
09-27-2007, 04:46 PM
common guys, be practical.

My opinion when attacked, if i still have room to run, i will. If not, then it defends on the level of attack. If it looks the attacker is going to kill me, I will defend myself whatever it takes, whatever the outcome. When you're in real-world situation, it is difficult to control. It can be easy in the Mat.

For me harmony in aikido doesn't mean harmony. What it means to me is to harmonize your movements with the movements of your attacker (ki-musubi - to blend). To have em out of balance so it's easy to control.

Stop making things complicated. What we can do is practice whenever possible. Polish each movement and techniques in accordance with the principles of aikido so we will have the control when attack. And, Be good.

vincent

Stefan Stenudd
09-28-2007, 03:58 AM
What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?
What makes it NOT aikido (to you)?
Wonderfully fundamental questions :)

My former teacher Ichimura sensei told me that one should read the name of a martial art backways, to understand it. For example, karatedo would be do-te-kara, that is "the way through the hand to emptiness". Judo would be "the way to softness", and so on.
So, :do: :ki: :ai: makes "the way through ki to joining/harmony".
Aikido is the way in which to use our ki to join. The ki of uke as well as tori. The goal is joining, agreeing, making peace if you like.
So, in the practice, the techniques, the solutions, the strife: when joining is not the goal, then it is not aikido.
Putting it very simply: having fun together, everybody enjoying it :D

jennifer paige smith
10-02-2007, 08:50 AM
Wonderfully fundamental questions :)

My former teacher Ichimura sensei told me that one should read the name of a martial art backways, to understand it. For example, karatedo would be do-te-kara, that is "the way through the hand to emptiness". Judo would be "the way to softness", and so on.
So, :do: :ki: :ai: makes "the way through ki to joining/harmony".
Aikido is the way in which to use our ki to join. The ki of uke as well as tori. The goal is joining, agreeing, making peace if you like.
So, in the practice, the techniques, the solutions, the strife: when joining is not the goal, then it is not aikido.
Putting it very simply: having fun together, everybody enjoying it :D

Nice.