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Roman Kremianski
12-05-2007, 02:35 AM
I was walking in a subway station close to midnight after working late. As I was walking, I didn't realize it, but a big part of my Aikido was already not present. With some Xzibit pounding in my ears, I adopted my music listening habit of both hands in pockets with head straight down to the floor.

Mid verse, I felt something hard bump into me and the music abruptly stop. After working a 12 hour shift, I was pretty much zoned out at this point. I looked up mildly to see that a guy was briskly walking away from me holding my headphones. I thought it was a prank, so I began walking after the guy. While walking, my mysterious snatcher turned around and gave me a huge grin while speeding up at the same time. At this point, I became irritated. I increased my pace, with the intention retrieving my headphones via clinch and several knees to the body.

Suddenly I staggered backwards as I felt a hand grasp my backpack. Genuinely pissed off as someone has now twice touched my belongs, I heard a voice say "Not so fast" and wheeled around to find about 6 of the guy's homies around me. Scenarios started buzzing in my head like math equations. Many started out with snapping the arm holding my backpack, but almost all finished with me getting shit kicked on the ground or stabbed. Something in my head clicked, and I simply walked through the small crowd out into the street and home.

It's not really the $19.99 I lost on the headphones that bugs me, but the condition my awareness was in prior to the encounter. Despite no longer doing Aikido and pursuing MMA, my brain still managed to keep me in reality.

Amir Krause
12-05-2007, 05:33 AM
You did the smart thing.

And you should not be so dissapointed with yourself. Living in state red or yellow all the time does have a price too.

Amir

Mark Uttech
12-05-2007, 06:18 AM
Giving up awareness is always the first mistake.

In gassho,

Mark

crbateman
12-05-2007, 07:01 AM
Your problem actually started before your lapse in awareness. Fact is, a crowded subway station is not the best place to display your electronics gadgetry, as it leads others to temptation in a place where opportunity is good. On or off the mat, an ounce of forethought outweighs a pound of hindsight. Fortunately, your reasoning kicked in quickly enough to prevent a further problem and hasten your exit from the situation. Things can be replaced, lives cannot. You have learned a valuable lesson for what amounts to a bargain price: Put your valuables out of sight. Xzibit will understand.

dps
12-05-2007, 07:15 AM
I am glad that you survived the encounter with no harm done to you. I would say that your Aikido
. Something in my head clicked, and I simply walked through the small crowd out into the street and home.


got you out of a potentially lethal situation, whereas your MMA
. Scenarios started buzzing in my head like math equations. Many started out with snapping the arm holding my backpack, but almost all finished with me getting shit kicked on the ground or stabbed.

would not have.

The difference between Aikido and MMA?

David

DonMagee
12-05-2007, 07:34 AM
Do you really need any martial arts to know not to pick a fight with 6 guys in a subway?

Dewey
12-05-2007, 07:54 AM
...
It's not really the $19.99 I lost on the headphones that bugs me, but the condition my awareness was in prior to the encounter. Despite no longer doing Aikido and pursuing MMA, my brain still managed to keep me in reality.

Ah yes, zanshin.

All too often, it's just merely (as well as poorly) translated as "awareness." It's meaning is so much more complex that it defies adequate translation. More of a shame is that it's not frequently spoken of enough in dojos.

Zanshin is an essential survival skill...regardless of the art/style studied. It's more important in the real world than it is in the dojo. Perhaps in today's self-defense terminology, we can equate it to the self-defense or survival mindset.

FWIW

Marc Abrams
12-05-2007, 08:23 AM
This incident clearly illustrates the difference between self-protection and self-defense. I am currently putting together a self-protection course for women and will use this as a case example. One of the issues that I highlight is that if the person (s) have made contact and self-defense options arise, it may already be too late.

1) Proper preparation: Are we prepared to go and do what we are going to do/go in a manner that allows us to protect ourselves?

2) Situational Awareness: How aware are we in our environment? I personally think that the personal music devices are invitations for predators to seek us out.

3) Self-Protection: What tools do we have to be able to protect us from others entering our personal spaces?

4) Self-Defense: What tools do we have to be able to defend ourselves from others in our personal space.

The fact that you can talk about the incident, and do not have any physical reminders of the event, means that the outcome was in your favor. The real questions are:

1) What have you learned from this incident?
2) How can you prevent a similar incident from happening in the future?

Marc Abrams

Aikibu
12-05-2007, 09:18 AM
I am glad you're ok Roman...Martial Awareness should be the goal of any practice Aikido or MMA. Hopefully you'll keep your head up from now on and your "radar" on. I was at a shopping mall late last week and noticed small groups of young men scoping the late night crowd It looked harmless but you never know... and all that matters is I know and I am aware...Outstanding Judgement on your part not to sacrifice your being for a pair of headphones...

William Hazen

Mato-san
12-05-2007, 09:48 AM
Relaxation saved another life "WOW"

Amir Krause
12-05-2007, 10:29 AM
I am glad that you survived the encounter with no harm done to you. I would say that your Aikido got you out of a potentially lethal situation, whereas your MMA would not have.

The difference between Aikido and MMA?

David

Do you really believe that????

Somehow I bllieve every sensible person would have acted the same way once he realized the situation.

Amir

charyuop
12-05-2007, 11:14 AM
Dang, you missed a chance to try a real life Randori...how coward!!!

Kidding apart, I am glad those idiots where happy with what they got and didn't go for more.
True in the place you were and the time of night it was it would have require a little bit more of attention by your side. Anyway, I wouldn't want people who talk about Martial Art awareness to cross the border line. I was about to do it when I started Aikido and started reading books about Budo and MA in general.
Awareness is a good thing, but watch out coz the step between awareness and paranoia is not that big.

Roman Kremianski
12-05-2007, 11:17 AM
Your Aikido got you out of a potentially lethal situation, whereas your MMA would not have.

The first plan had nothing to do with MMA. If I were to do something with the arm holding my backpack, it would have most likely been a variation of shihonage practiced in the dojos thousands of times, rather then a strike. A big point of my post was to show that you don't need to be an Aikidoka to do Aikido in real situations. Any MMA guy would have done the same, even if they've never heard of Aikido.

Dewey
12-05-2007, 11:27 AM
...
Awareness is a good thing, but watch out coz the step between awareness and paranoia is not that big.

True enough. I completely agree. Martial awareness, zanshin, self-defense mindset...whatever you want to call it, can easily deteriorate into paranoia if one doesn't keep up with their required doses of reality.

It's one thing to prepare yourself physically and psychologically for the possibility of an attack/assault...it's another to expect it and even look for it around every corner. Obviously, this does not apply to law enforcement & military...who intentionally put themselves in harm's way.

I've met some self-defense "nutjobs" before...scary stuff. Luckily, many of them shy away from Aikido...it's not brutal enough of a martial art for them.

Erick Mead
12-05-2007, 11:33 AM
Scenarios started buzzing in my head like math equations. Many started out with snapping the arm holding my backpack, but almost all finished with me getting shit kicked on the ground or stabbed. Something in my head clicked, and I simply walked through the small crowd out into the street and home. O Sensei:

"A person who in any situation perceives the truth with resignation would never need to draw his sword in haste."

Mato-san
12-05-2007, 11:35 AM
put it in practise..... yes?

James Davis
12-05-2007, 11:59 AM
I didn't realize it, but a big part of my Aikido was already not present. With some Xzibit pounding in my ears, I adopted my music listening habit of both hands in pockets with head straight down to the floor.



That's how the werewolves get you! Don't you watch movies?!:D

Looking at the floor when we walk can sometimes lead predatory types to assume weakness on our part. Keep your head up, even when work has kicked your ass. It's not just yourself that you have to worry about. A lady, an elderly person, or a small child can be assaulted too. They may need you, if not to defend their life, then to be a witness at the very least.;)

Nice job adapting to the situation and getting home alive. I'm glad you're alraight.:)

gregg block
12-05-2007, 12:00 PM
Gianluigi Pizzuto wrote:
...
Awareness is a good thing, but watch out coz the step between awareness and paranoia is not that big.

The "step" isn't that small either. I think it's important to engage in awareness exercises on the street regularly. I try to pretty regularly and find it actually quite relaxing. Usually when I'm walking from the parking lot to my work place. I vary the path I take to my building. I focus on breathing and "feeling" my environment. I try to notice people before they notice me and sometimes go through some practice scenarios in my head. I't takes a little practice and discipline to be aware of whats going on around you with all the distractions we have in life. .

Aikibu
12-05-2007, 12:01 PM
but watch out coz the step between awareness and paranoia is not that big.

I disagree... The gap between awareness and paranoia is as big as the Grand Canyon and you can only cross it on the bridge of fear...

One thing Roman appeared not to do is panic...Although he got caught with his guard down he weighed his options and chose the best course of action givin his situation. There would appear to be a bit of luck involved as the gang did not want to escalate the encounter and Roman walked away. that being said a paranoid man would have freaked (or perhaps not left his hidden closet at home LOL :D) and perhaps overreacted. Roman had training and did not, and was nice enough to attribute it to Aikido though any good Martial Training would teach you about Martial Awareness.

A part of Martial Awareness is about knowing what to do with fear...Paranoia is all about fear and not knowing how to deal with it in a "healthy manner.":)

WIlliam Hazen

ChrisMoses
12-05-2007, 12:26 PM
Roman, I'm glad you made the smart decision and kept your head. I'm at a loss however as to how to shoehorn anything you've described into the term "Aikido".

George S. Ledyard
12-05-2007, 01:12 PM
Roman, I'm glad you made the smart decision and kept your head. I'm at a loss however as to how to shoehorn anything you've described into the term "Aikido".

Chris,
All Budo, Aikido and otherwise, is about being "present" and aware. 90% of "real world" self defense is not being caught by surprise. Being out on the street but lost in your own little world with your head phones on and paying no attention to anyone or anything is not good Budo.

When I lived in DC and was training at the dojo there, I had to take the metro home late at night and walk from Dupont Circle to my condo a few blocks away. I was always aware of everyone on the same block I was, who got on and off the train, etc. I was always amazed at how people would walk around at night there and have no idea what was going on around them. Sometimes on my way home, I would walk past people from behind and they would never have looked to see who was coming. Any decent martial arts training should be teaching you to pay attention.
- George

George S. Ledyard
12-05-2007, 01:16 PM
Gianluigi Pizzuto wrote:
...
Awareness is a good thing, but watch out coz the step between awareness and paranoia is not that big.



Actually, these are two totally separate things. Awareness is about how you reach out to the world and open yourself up to it. Paranoia is about resisting, closing off from, rejecting what you see there. Never is simply "paying attention" a form of paranoia. But being fearful of what you encounter often is.

ChrisMoses
12-05-2007, 01:27 PM
Chris,
All Budo, Aikido and otherwise, is about being "present" and aware. 90% of "real world" self defense is not being caught by surprise. Being out on the street but lost in your own little world with your head phones on and paying no attention to anyone or anything is not good Budo.



That's exactly why I didn't see anything like "aikido" or any other type of budo and I certainly wouldn't call the scenario a "partial sucess with Aikido". Roman let one guy pull his headphones right off of his head, then still didn't notice that he'd been surrounded by six other guys, one obviously close enough to restrain him by his backpack. That doesn't sound like someone doing Aikido, that sounds like a lucky victim. I don't see how this could be described as an example of how Aikido 'worked' in a real encounter.

Aiki1
12-05-2007, 03:24 PM
I feel differently than most of what has been said about this. Half of my Aikido training/teaching is about how to "find yourself" and "do Aikido" when you Are in fact taken by surprise, freaked out, have lost your center, and are about to be overwhelmed - which is just as likely to happen as anything else.

Awareness is most desirable, of course. But life can certainly be totally unexpected, and often is. To me, the "greater" facility or skill is to understand what to do when you "don't" have your "wits about you." We call it Chaos Aikido training, and to me, it's representative of what a huge part of understanding what "going with the flow (of life)" is all about. It's when the -unexpected- happens that one's true relationship with Budo and Aikido shows itself.

Dewey
12-05-2007, 03:30 PM
Gianluigi Pizzuto wrote:
...
Awareness is a good thing, but watch out coz the step between awareness and paranoia is not that big.

The "step" isn't that small either. I think it's important to engage in awareness exercises on the street regularly. I try to pretty regularly and find it actually quite relaxing. Usually when I'm walking from the parking lot to my work place. I vary the path I take to my building. I focus on breathing and "feeling" my environment. I try to notice people before they notice me and sometimes go through some practice scenarios in my head. I't takes a little practice and discipline to be aware of whats going on around you with all the distractions we have in life. .

Interesting! Sounds like my favorite game I do at work. I call it "radar." I work as a contractor at a major Midwestern aerospace manufacturer. In the assembly plant whenever there's people walking behind me, I like to guess: how many, what gender, their bodytype & weight, and especially their "mood"...all based upon their footfalls. Then I discreetly make a visual confirmation to see how accurate I was. Try it...it's fun and addictive! Another one is trying to focus on how many machines I can count running simultaneously based upon their distinctive sounds.

This is how I keep sharp.

I disagree... The gap between awareness and paranoia is as big as the Grand Canyon and you can only cross it on the bridge of fear...
[cut/edit]
A part of Martial Awareness is about knowing what to do with fear...Paranoia is all about fear and not knowing how to deal with it in a "healthy manner.":)

That's it in a nutshell. An essential aspect of real self-defense training that's often not talked about because us men don't like to admit that we get scared. It's a normal & very healthy human emotion. Learning what to do with it is where the work begins.

Chris,
All Budo, Aikido and otherwise, is about being "present" and aware. 90% of "real world" self defense is not being caught by surprise. Being out on the street but lost in your own little world with your head phones on and paying no attention to anyone or anything is not good Budo.


Amen!

Makes me think of that famous scene in Kurosawa's Seven Samurai when the lead samurai, Shimada Kambei, conducts the interviews to recruit the remaining members of the group...with his apprentice hiding inside the doorway ready to club the interviewees over the head as their one and only test.

Pierre Kewcharoen
12-05-2007, 03:35 PM
Now what happens when they don't want the headphones or your backpack, but to beat the crap out of you because its gang intiation night?

Aikibu
12-05-2007, 04:33 PM
Now what happens when they don't want the headphones or your backpack, but to beat the crap out of you because its gang intiation night?

This post belongs in the same catagory as the "Nuke Luur" Threat from Iraq errrrr ahhhhh Iran ooohhhh ahhhhh North Korea or uuuummmmmm Russia...

Oh geeez it's all hypothetical. :D

William Hazen

Aikibu
12-05-2007, 04:42 PM
I feel differently than most of what has been said about this. Half of my Aikido training/teaching is about how to "find yourself" and "do Aikido" when you Are in fact taken by surprise, freaked out, have lost your center, and are about to be overwhelmed - which is just as likely to happen as anything else.

Awareness is most desirable, of course. But life can certainly be totally unexpected, and often is. To me, the "greater" facility or skill is to understand what to do when you "don't" have your "wits about you." We call it Chaos Aikido training, and to me, it's representative of what a huge part of understanding what "going with the flow (of life)" is all about. It's when the -unexpected- happens that one's true relationship with Budo and Aikido shows itself.

Agreed. As I have said many times...This is the true nature of Martial Awareness and our Dear Friend Roman passed with flying colors...Budo only really becomes Budo when it's applied dispite fear, surprise, and physical exhaustion whatever the circumstances or degree"

William Hazen

mathewjgano
12-05-2007, 04:42 PM
A big point of my post was to show that you don't need to be an Aikidoka to do Aikido in real situations. Any MMA guy would have done the same, even if they've never heard of Aikido.

I guess I'd have to agree...people don't really need to study any martial art in order to exhibit like behavior. You took the path of least resistance...sounds aiki to me; all kinds of people do this all the time. In fact, part of what attracted me to Aikido was that it taught some things I was already applying on my own.
I can see how some folks might not see it as Aikido, though...obviously the physical techniques weren't present. And if you want to get real idealistic, the doka of the day says that you wouldn't have been messed with in the first place had you been practicing Aikido. No pressure there:eek:
It's hard to say if being more aware would have kept you out of the situation to begin with. It's hard to speculate, but they probably would have just walked up to you and demanded your stuff instead of taking the time to hide behind some corner to surprise you.
At any rate, it sounds like you made the right choice.
Take it easy,
Matt

Roman Kremianski
12-05-2007, 07:16 PM
That's exactly why I didn't see anything like "aikido" or any other type of budo and I certainly wouldn't call the scenario a "partial sucess with Aikido". Roman let one guy pull his headphones right off of his head, then still didn't notice that he'd been surrounded by six other guys, one obviously close enough to restrain him by his backpack. That doesn't sound like someone doing Aikido, that sounds like a lucky victim. I don't see how this could be described as an example of how Aikido 'worked' in a real encounter.

Don't put me in a bad light here...I normally walk calmly, with my head up. Sometimes when I have music on, I stare at the ground and get lost in some visualization in my head. At the time of the event, I was working full-time during busy Christmas rush, going to school full-time during term exams, and was basically on my way home to pull an all-nighter and finish some projects. I wasn't in the greatest shape mentally, and even worse physically.

I have recently been experimenting with awareness tips said here and do agree that I find it very close to paranoia. Sometimes I wanna forget scoping out everything in the vicinity and just give various pedestrians the benefit of the doubt and assume they won't jump me or stab me. Living in a big city, including working and going to school in the heart of downtown makes it extremely hard.

Marc Abrams
12-05-2007, 07:37 PM
Speaking as a psychologist, paranoia is very different from hypervigilance. Paranoia is a disturbance in thinking. There is a saying in the mental health world that there is no such thing as a dumb paranoid. Someone who is paranoid takes an idea and it is subject to a tremendous amount of internal distortion, which is then applied to how the person perceives the world.

Most people in this thread are mistaking hypervigilance for paranoia. Many times, hypervigilance is the product of a person having been chronically exposed to a dangerous and frequently unpredictable environment. This is a perceptual process that is frequently fueled by fear, which is abated by trying to stay on top of events and interactions.

Vigilance is one important aspect that we strive for in our budo training. Roman's description of his state of mind should have led him to assess that he was at greater risk of not being as vigilant as he typically would. Based upon that assessment, he should have applied more energy, not less, towards staying aware and alert to what was occurring around him. In many respects, he was simply lucky. Some gangs require that prospective members must first kill somebody in order to join the gang. Others demand lesser degrees of violence. Had those people wanted to harm him, it would have been too late for Roman to respond.

I always have on me both tools for self-protection and self-defense. My wife even jokes about how careful I am regarding certain situations. Some people may call that hypervigilance or even paranoia. I just call it being aware and safe. At the end of the day, I want to go to bed at night and wake up to be there for my wife, children, grandchild and friends. An ounce of protection is worth it's weight in platinum!

Marc Abrams

Nikopol
12-05-2007, 08:03 PM
One of the best things about Aikido is that no-one nicks my headphones or backpack in the dojo.

If we did not have a place to collect ourselves, how could we remember ourselves in times of peril?

Of course you did the right thing and did it well. I agree with the comment above that you must stay aware not only for your own sake but to help others.

Who knows, you may run into that bunch again. A thought: It is held, even among those with no martial arts experience, that if you neutralize the instigator, the cronies will lose their steam. Might be something to practice in Randori : special attention to identifying and neutralizing the "ranking" member of the attack.....

just a thought... ??

ChrisMoses
12-05-2007, 09:12 PM
Don't put me in a bad light here...I normally walk calmly, with my head up.

Please believe me that I'm not trying to bag on you. I was however taking exception to what you chose to describe as 'aiki'. Given the situation you found yourself in, I think you made a very adult decision. A pair of headphones can be replaced. I don't think however, that what you described should be considered aiki in any way. Perhaps you would like to offer some kind of exposition relating how what you did fit into the frame of aikido? How were your actions the embodiment of irimi for example?

Roman Kremianski
12-05-2007, 10:34 PM
If avoiding an entire group of people clearly intended to fight for amusement not aiki, then I'm really, really looking forward to reading what you would consider aiki.

It's the "embodiment of irimi" because I made several irimis towards the exit doors.

Aikido to me has nothing to do with physical technique, but merely a philosophy. If I needed physical techniques, my body would naturally respond with muscle memory from wrestling and muay thai. This was a case where it was not necessary, and obviously would not be effective.

ChrisMoses
12-05-2007, 11:14 PM
If avoiding an entire group of people clearly intended to fight for amusement not aiki, then I'm really, really looking forward to reading what you would consider aiki.

It's the "embodiment of irimi" because I made several irimis towards the exit doors.

Aikido to me has nothing to do with physical technique, but merely a philosophy. If I needed physical techniques, my body would naturally respond with muscle memory from wrestling and muay thai. This was a case where it was not necessary, and obviously would not be effective.

Aikido is not about avoiding a confrontation, it's about entering into they eye of the storm. Aikido is not and never has been about avoidance. And an advance towards the rear is still a retreat. Sometimes a retreat is the best option, but Aikido is not about avoiding confrontation. Watch video of OSensei or Shioda or Mochizuki or even Tohei for that matter and really look for how much they avoid their attacker. They don't, they may avoid being injured from a specific attack, but always as they simultaneously enter into the attacker's space. OSensei was not a pacifist, nor was the nidai doshu. Aikido is not pascifism.

Let me reiterate, that I think you made the right decision in what you did. I do take exception to your likening it to aiki. It is not the aiki that I study.

Roman Kremianski
12-06-2007, 12:10 AM
We must study different aiki then. There's different definitions to suit different lifestyles. Avoiding fights for me is aiki, because I don't like violence, and instead enjoy competition in a safe and controlled environment.

Josh Reyer
12-06-2007, 12:45 AM
Awareness need not (perhaps even should not?) be about looking for threats, checking your "six", or sizing up anyone who looks at you. It can be, instead, looking for friends, pretty girls/guys, and similar opportunities. A comprehensive and universal engagement with the world around you. The key is to be perceptive and receptive.

On the subject of "aiki", I'm very much with Chris Moses. Roman made a good call and the right decision, but if we call that "aiki" then the term because too diffuse and universal to be of any use as a concept.

Nikopol
12-06-2007, 01:46 AM
Aw give Roman a break already. He had the experience, and he shared it with us.

I'll tell you one thing, nitpicking sure aint aiki.

I'm off to the dojo.

gdandscompserv
12-06-2007, 06:41 AM
Now what happens when they don't want the headphones or your backpack, but to beat the crap out of you because its gang intiation night?
Something different.

gdandscompserv
12-06-2007, 06:49 AM
Aw give Roman a break already. He had the experience, and he shared it with us.

I'll tell you one thing, nitpicking sure aint aiki.
Especially given that almost every person here has a little bit different definition of aiki. Oh my, which is the correct one?

charyuop
12-06-2007, 07:18 AM
Aiki= Spirit Of Love.
I practice Aiki every now and then with my wife. To practice awareness too along with Aiki we tend to practice in the dark (unless my 2 yo daughter wakes and asks "what u doing?", than Aiki is all gone LOL).

dps
12-06-2007, 09:16 AM
One summer night at around 11pm I started walking to a local grocery store about seven blocks away. Before I got to the store I noticed that the same car had passed me three times then stopped about a block ahead of me and the passenger got out and was walking toward me. He did not look anywhere else, he was looking only at me as he and I walked toward each other. I immediately crossed the street and went into a gas station and stayed there until he got back into the car and left.
Should I have ignored him and kept walking? Was I paranoid? Was I a coward? Did I practice Aikido?

David

Will Prusner
12-06-2007, 09:39 AM
WWMD? (What would Morihei Do?)

mickeygelum
12-06-2007, 10:03 AM
WWMD? (What would Morihei Do?)
.....:freaky:

ChrisMoses
12-06-2007, 11:11 AM
Should I have ignored him and kept walking? Was I paranoid? Was I a coward? Did I practice Aikido?

David

I'll bite.

It sounds like you did the right thing.
I don't think you were cowardly or paranoid.
Did you practice Aikido? That's harder. Personally I just don't like calling things like this "Aikido." I recall something Kurita Minouru said at a seminar a long time ago (translated and paraphrased), "Aikido only happens in a dojo. Everything outside is fighting." I believe Aikido is (or can be) a tool to help shape people into budoka. I think a better question than "Was I doing Aikido?" would be, "Did I act in a way that was worthy of a budoka?" In which case, I would say, "yes." A budoka doesn't look for violence, or feel compelled to fight no matter the situation. A budoka does have an awareness and a vigilance that separates them from the average person. They act decisively with a goal in mind, and do their best to preserve whatever tactical advantage they may have. In that context, I think your actions were in keeping with those of a budoka. You were aware of your surroundings enough to perceive a potential threat (noticing a car behaving oddly in a time and place that made it more likely that odd behavior implied you were in some peril). When something happened that gave weight to your suspicions (the car stopping ahead of you and someone got out and began approaching you) you moved quickly and decisively to a place that was tactically advantageous (a well lit, populated and video recorded gas station) in order to achieve your goal (not being victimized). All of those things seem to be in keeping with the actions of a budoka. I do not think that they amounted to doing aikido per se however, and I don't think they need to in order to be considered wise or good.

For the sake of argument however, I'll go one step further and put aside my own preference to leave "Aikido" in the dojo. If Aikido is about being joined with the Ki of the universe, becoming one with it and as a byproduct of that unification defeating or otherwise thwarting those forces that are out of harmony with you/universe, then the argument could be made that your actions were Aikido. It was the fact that you were actively living in the world around you that made you first aware of a possible danger. Perhaps it was that very harmony that put you in close proximity to a place of relative safety? In any event, the flow of events, locations and awareness all came together to thwart an event that we can presume was out of harmony with Ki of the universe. In that way, it would be possible to say that what you did was Aikido. I don't personally think like that, but the argument certainly could be made.

Ron Tisdale
12-06-2007, 11:26 AM
Still with Chris on this one.

I don't think he means anything negative at all when he says it.

Best,
Ron

Will Prusner
12-06-2007, 11:28 AM
.....:freaky:

Very vague response. Feel like elaborating?

I immediately crossed the street and went into a gas station and stayed there until he got back into the car and left.
Should I have ignored him and kept walking? Was I paranoid? Was I a coward? Did I practice Aikido?

I don't know if you were practicing Aikido. However, it seems that you most definitely applied at least one of the fundamental principles of Aikido, maintaining proper maai. Just as there is different maai between two empty handed persons vs. two persons with swords, the maai between an unarmed person and a potential attacker with a gun opens up quite a bit. For me, proper maai with a potential attacker with a gun is at least 50 yards and preferably behind a stout barrier. However in a pinch I suppose a well lit gas station works equally well.

Aikibu
12-06-2007, 12:26 PM
Should I have ignored him and kept walking? Nope Was I paranoid? Nope Unless you were tweaking on Crystal Meth Was I a coward? Nope...Not even if you pissed your pants and cried out for momma Did I practice Aikido? Yup You had Martial Awareness IMO... aka Your "Spidey Sense" was tingling...

Folks again Martial Awareness is not the sole domain of Aikido...If you practice Aikido exclusively then yes you were practicing Aikido...But It was a part of my training looooooong before I walked into an Aikido Dojo. To Aikido's credit I think it goes along way towards refining Martial Awareness but they even teach it outside of the Martial Arts in such places as the US Military (The heart of the OODA Loop is "Combat Awareness".) and Law Enforcement.

William Hazen

dps
12-06-2007, 12:51 PM
I recall something Kurita Minouru said at a seminar a long time ago (translated and paraphrased), "Aikido only happens in a dojo. Everything outside is fighting."

How you train in the dojo influences your reactions outside the dojo. If I had been training in TKD at that time my reaction would have been to meet the perceived attacker head on as that was the way we trained when I was in TKD.

David

ChrisMoses
12-06-2007, 01:02 PM
How you train in the dojo influences your reactions outside the dojo. If I had been training in TKD at that time my reaction would have been to meet the perceived attacker head on as that was the way we trained when I was in TKD.

David

I see what you're getting at, but I think you're missing my point about aiki/aikido and how it is often used as a metaphor in the outside world. In your aikido classes, are you taught to avoid an attack or an attacker entirely (as you describe in your 'street' scenario)? I doubt that you are. It's hard to do kotegaeshi from the changing rooms. People seem to miss that aikido practice is about entry and connectedness, not complete avoidance. Even the older definitions of aiki imply a coming together and joining with an attack. Why then does avoiding an encounter entirely, or choosing not to act somehow come to represent the lessons of aikido?

Aiki1
12-06-2007, 01:20 PM
I see what you're getting at, but I think you're missing my point about aiki/aikido and how it is often used as a metaphor in the outside world. In your aikido classes, are you taught to avoid an attack or an attacker entirely (as you describe in your 'street' scenario)? I doubt that you are. It's hard to do kotegaeshi from the changing rooms. People seem to miss that aikido practice is about entry and connectedness, not complete avoidance. Even the older definitions of aiki imply a coming together and joining with an attack. Why then does avoiding an encounter entirely, or choosing not to act somehow come to represent the lessons of aikido?

To me, you are describing possible techniques and usages of Aikido, not AIkido itself. Many arts have something akin to kotegaeshi - are they all Aikido then, because they execute it in a similar manner? Of course not, because to some people at least, Aikido is a philosophy, a strategy, a way of approaching things (not just a physical attack), a constellation of certain principles that can be applied to many venues - grounded in the martial practice. Entry, for instance, is only one part of the approach, and not applicable or even desirable in every situation, in a literal sense. There are other tenets that also might come into play, equally as appropriate, depending on the situation. In this context, we are now approaching Aikido....

ChrisMoses
12-06-2007, 01:55 PM
To me, you are describing possible techniques and usages of Aikido, not AIkido itself.
I think it's pretty clear that's not what I'm doing here.

Of course not, because to some people at least, Aikido is a philosophy, a strategy, a way of approaching things (not just a physical attack), a constellation of certain principles that can be applied to many venues - grounded in the martial practice.

OK, so tell me this. What principles do you feel Roman exemplified in his scenario and where do you find these principles rooted in the words of the founder or in the physical techniques of Aikido? How are they grounded in the martial practice of Aikido sufficiently that they would (like your example about movements like kotegaeshi being found in numerous arts) be unique enough to distinguish them as distinctly Aikido?

Aiki1
12-06-2007, 02:01 PM
I think it's pretty clear that's not what I'm doing here.

In my world, you are. Or at best, you are isolating one or two aspects of Aikido and making them the "whole." There are many differences in the way different people look at Aikido.

OK, so tell me this. What principles do you feel Roman exemplified in his scenario and where do you find these principles rooted in the words of the founder or in the physical techniques of Aikido? How are they grounded in the martial practice of Aikido sufficiently that they would (like your example about movements like kotegaeshi being found in numerous arts) be unique enough to distinguish them as distinctly Aikido?

I will think this out as soon as I finish work. It's certainly a valid question. But to begin, arts overlap in reality, so the answer might not be that it is Just Aikido, but perhaps, included in Aikido....

Ron Tisdale
12-06-2007, 02:07 PM
In many styles of aikido, it is said to be necessary to enter, even to turn...even if that entry is psychological, or just about connection.

I kind of like the idea of keeping the term "Aiki" linked to physical practice. It's kind of easy to get all woo woo without that. At the same time, I do believe in "connecting at a distance" with your opponent / partner, having experienced it many times on the mat, and at least once outside of the dojo where it seemed to provide a major benefit to me.

http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?p=201800&highlight=North+Philly#post201800

I don't know whether this incident is "aikido" or not...but it does seem to fit what some describe as the "strategy" of aikido, if you accept that there is strategy in aikido.

In my present thinking, I would not call what I did above Aikido...but I would say that I utilized my Aikido keiko and it's lessons to get through that experience.

Best,
Ron

dps
12-06-2007, 02:21 PM
In your aikido classes, are you taught to avoid an attack or an attacker entirely (as you describe in your 'street' scenario)?

Why then does avoiding an encounter entirely, or choosing not to act somehow come to represent the lessons of aikido?

At the time of the incident I described ( 18 years ago) we were taught that at any time you can walk or run away do so. Sensei Cycyk said" "It is better to watch the 11 o'clock news then to be on the 11 o'clock news."
I understand what you are saying.
I am not saying that I was practicing Aikido during the incident. I'm saying that my Aikido practice influenced my reaction.

The connection was him staring at me while approaching me. I then moved off the line of attack into the gas station.

David

Demetrio Cereijo
12-06-2007, 03:48 PM
Glad to see nothing happened to you, Roman.

If what you did was aikido or not really..... who cares?.

What you did worked, isn't it? This is the only thing that matters in the street. Funcionality and results.

mathewjgano
12-06-2007, 06:13 PM
Why then does avoiding an encounter entirely, or choosing not to act somehow come to represent the lessons of aikido?

This may have already been suggested, but avoiding a conflict isn't necessarily the same as being disconnected from it. My understanding of Aikido is that it essentially teaches to connect to the world around you; this includes physical as well as non-physical things. This means a person can avoid a fight through inaction and still be "aiki." Ki refers to emotional energy as well as kinetic, doesn't it?

George S. Ledyard
12-06-2007, 07:21 PM
That's exactly why I didn't see anything like "aikido" or any other type of budo and I certainly wouldn't call the scenario a "partial sucess with Aikido". Roman let one guy pull his headphones right off of his head, then still didn't notice that he'd been surrounded by six other guys, one obviously close enough to restrain him by his backpack. That doesn't sound like someone doing Aikido, that sounds like a lucky victim. I don't see how this could be described as an example of how Aikido 'worked' in a real encounter.
Well yes, it's more of a "failure to follow the basic tenets of your art" kind of story.

I think that the idea that exercising some sort of common sense by not getting into it with a group of thugs who already had the drop on you is Aikido is definitely faulty; you are right, it is not an example of a partial success of Aikido.

Marc Abrams
12-06-2007, 07:53 PM
We can dress this story up or dress it down anyway we would like. The truth, according to Roman-> He was mentally and physically exhausted. He compounded that condition by focusing in on music through his headsets. The hunters saw this and honed in on their prey. He is simply lucky to be alive and in one piece. Dressing this up as "partial success of Aikido" sounds nice. I agree with George in that Roman is human and made a mistake. He survived the mistake. The importance lies in where he goes from here. I frankly am glad that Roman has the time to reflect on this encounter without any permanent injuries or scars. Too many people have not been so fortunate.

Marc Abrams

Nikopol
12-06-2007, 07:53 PM
In your aikido classes, are you taught to avoid an attack or an attacker entirely (as you describe in your 'street' scenario)? I doubt that you are. It's hard to do kotegaeshi from the changing rooms. People seem to miss that aikido practice is about entry and connectedness, not complete avoidance. Even the older definitions of aiki imply a coming together and joining with an attack. Why then does avoiding an encounter entirely, or choosing not to act somehow come to represent the lessons of aikido?

Older definitions? Aiki in Japanese means one thing: :ai: joining + :ki: energy, and is rendered in English quite well by the expression blending. Atemi is not aiki. Force upon force is the antithesis of aiki, crashing into problems rather than successfully moving around them.

Why in the world would you need to apply a kotegaeshi on someone who can not touch you?

Those of us who think we are in the dojo so that we can apply nikkyo to hoodlums in the streets are missing quite a bit.

ChrisMoses
12-06-2007, 10:16 PM
Older definitions? Aiki in Japanese means one thing: :ai: joining + :ki: energy, and is rendered in English quite well by the expression blending. Atemi is not aiki. .

Well unless you asked OSensei, and then he is quoted on several occasions that it is at least 90% of Aikido. By older definitions, I'm talking about how the term aiki was used in kenjutsu and other weapon based ryuha where aiki was a term that implied something a bit more specific from a strategic standpoint than "becoming one with the energy of the universe."

Force upon force is the antithesis of aiki, crashing into problems rather than successfully moving around them.

I never said or implied force on force.

Why in the world would you need to apply a kotegaeshi on someone who can not touch you?

So why have people attack you at all in an Aikido class? Why not sit around in a big circle singing songs and feeling one with the universe? That's not a rhetorical question by the way.

Those of us who think we are in the dojo so that we can apply nikkyo to hoodlums in the streets are missing quite a bit.

That also is not something that I said or implied. Even in my sword art, we realize that we don't go to the dojo to learn mad killin' skillz. We go there to polish ourselves and become better human beings. Rocks however are not polished in the air, they need water and other abrasive materials to bring out their luster. What happened to:

"Not a weakness anywhere-
brighten up the world
and make the Path of the Sword
manifest in the bodies and souls
of all people."

or

"Warriors!
Rally around and brandish the
Universal Sword.
Shine brightly and
reveal it to the world."

or

"The appearance of an "enemy" should be though of as an opportunity to test the sincerity of one's mental and physical training, to see if one is actually responding according to divine will. When facing the realm of life and death in the form of an enemy's sword, one must be firmly settled in mind and body, and not at all intimidated; without providing your opponent the slightest opening, control his mind in a flash and move where you will- straight, diagonally or in any other appropriate direction. Enter deeply, mentally as well as physically, transform your entire body into a true sword, and vanquish your foe." (emphasis mine, Budou, p. 30-31)

Nikopol
12-06-2007, 10:38 PM
[QUOTE=Christian Moses;195222]Well unless you asked OSensei, and then he is quoted on several occasions that it is at least 90% of Aikido. ."

I am not going to spend a lot of time responding to a list of baiting points here.

We are all more than familiar with the 90% comment, which was often repeated by Shioda Sensei, who actually said that atemi was '90% of a fight," not "of Aikido." Now those who need to can argue about which rendering is accurate, and dig up the original quotes, but lets not hijack this thread for that purpose, because in either case, what I said is that atemi is not Aiki, not that it is not a part of Aikido or the Aikido system. Try to follow along.

Aiki and Aikido. Which are no more the same thing than Rei and reiho. Of course some of you hardliners will want to throw in a head-butt and call that a practical application. Lighten up. :D

ChrisMoses
12-06-2007, 10:55 PM
am not going to spend a lot of time responding to a list of baiting points here.



Since when was quoting OSensei, or at least text that is commonly attributed to OSensei a baited point? I was being completely genuine in my inquiry. Personally I no longer consider what I study to be Aikido, since I think my own explorations, interests and religious thinking has taken me too far from what OSensei had in mind. I don't think that we all have the right to call whatever we do "Aikido". But I did not come to that realization lightly, or without much thought. In other words, I don't have a horse in this race. Lighten up yourself.

Roman Kremianski
12-07-2007, 12:14 AM
I think people need to live up to the fact that taking in translated Japanese quotes will not actually allow them to fully understand aiki or budo. As I said earlier, there's no point in arguing, as there will never be a universal meaning of budo among westerners.

Everyone should just branch off and experience their own journey...there should not be any right or wrong interpretations, and no one should be saying "No, that's now what aiki is, here is what aiki is..." If all goes well, everyone will one day end up along the same path closer to the end.

George S. Ledyard
12-07-2007, 01:09 AM
Well unless you asked OSensei, and then he is quoted on several occasions that it is at least 90% of Aikido. By older definitions, I'm talking about how the term aiki was used in kenjutsu and other weapon based ryuha where aiki was a term that implied something a bit more specific from a strategic standpoint than "becoming one with the energy of the universe."

I never said or implied force on force.

So why have people attack you at all in an Aikido class? Why not sit around in a big circle singing songs and feeling one with the universe? That's not a rhetorical question by the way.

That also is not something that I said or implied. Even in my sword art, we realize that we don't go to the dojo to learn mad killin' skillz. We go there to polish ourselves and become better human beings. Rocks however are not polished in the air, they need water and other abrasive materials to bring out their luster. What happened to:

"Not a weakness anywhere-
brighten up the world
and make the Path of the Sword
manifest in the bodies and souls
of all people."

or

"Warriors!
Rally around and brandish the
Universal Sword.
Shine brightly and
reveal it to the world."

or

"The appearance of an "enemy" should be though of as an opportunity to test the sincerity of one's mental and physical training, to see if one is actually responding according to divine will. When facing the realm of life and death in the form of an enemy's sword, one must be firmly settled in mind and body, and not at all intimidated; without providing your opponent the slightest opening, control his mind in a flash and move where you will- straight, diagonally or in any other appropriate direction. Enter deeply, mentally as well as physically, transform your entire body into a true sword, and vanquish your foe." (emphasis mine, Budou, p. 30-31)

We have to look at the audience O-Sensei was speaking to when we look at these various quotations. The majority of the ones we have are from pieces he wrote in the 30's. He was addressing people who had some strong degree of likelihood that they would actually use their training in real combat. The Japanese were gearing up for war all through the early thirties and were actively at war in the later 30's. His focus on application as well as spirituality comes through everywhere. He was clearly teaching students whom he saw as warriors in the literal sense.

In the post-war period he was substantially older... his spiritual concerns dominate his teachings. To the extent he saw his students as warriors it was, I believe it was as "spiritual warriors" rather than as people he anticipated would be in combat.

There is a lot of argument about the effect of Japan's role in the war and subsequent defeat had on O-Sensei. Personally, based on my readings and the stories told me by Saotome Sensei, I come down on the side that maintains that O-Sensei was profoundly changed by the war. I think it started before their loss, probably as it became more and more clear that they were headed for a disastrous defeat.

Anyway, it is clear that the Aikido that he put forth after the war was almost entirely designed to be a type of trans formative spiritual practice.

I have tried as much as possible to understand the Founder and his Aikido. The reason I have tried to keep him as a model is that he carried both aspects, the martial and the spiritual, simultaneously. Most folks tend to gravitate more towards one than the other, usually based more on which aspect fits who they think they are rather than the one which will cause them to change the most.

Just look at the posts on this forum... the majority of the folks who post constantly with concerns about Aikido's effectiveness etc. usually have very little to say about the spiritual / philosophical side. The folks who are more interested in what I call the spiritual / energetic / philosophical / social aspect of the art seldom have much to say where technique is concerned. There are very few people who can hold both aspects in their Aikido at the same time. But the ones that manage to are on the path to discovering an Aikido that has the great depth the Founder always intended and I hope that there will always be people like that because otherwise Aikido will become a shell of what it could have been.

Part of what needs to happen is for people of opposite temperament to listen to and learn from each other. This Red state - Blue state attitude when applied to our art simply causes an increasing dichotomy in the thinking about Aikido that shouldn't be there at all. Relegating a whole segment of the Aikido community to a state of disregard by calling them "aiki fruities" or deciding that the folks who actually care whether technique works or not didn't really understand O-Sensei's vision... Well they are all missing the true picture. The reality is that O-Sensei was clearly an "aiki fruity" himself, but he was an "aiki fruity" that understood Budo and could physically manifest his "fruity" ideas on the mat quite effectively. If we can make our Aikido like O-Sensei's we'll have really accomplished something.

Josh Reyer
12-07-2007, 01:55 AM
Here's where I think Chris is coming from.

I assume many have read this story (http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC04/Dobson.htm) by Terry Dobson? Or read a similar account in Ellis Amdur's Dueling with Osensei? In both cases, I would say the old man (in Dobson's story) and Amdur (in his story) demonstrated aikido, even though neither performed a technique, or even used the threat of a technique. The distinction I would make between those stories, and the stories of Roman and David is that in Dobson's and Amdur's stories, the "practioner" engages the threat. Not in a fight, or in physical contact, but on a human, emotional level. And through that engagement, they bring the conflict to resolution.

Had Roman turned the tables on his opponents by good-naturedly joking with them, making friends with them, and possibly even getting his headphones back, I for one would call it an exemplary example of aikido. I'm not saying he should have done that, mind you. In this case, walking away may indeed have been the best option. But knowing "when to walk away, and know when to run" is not just a trait of all martial arts traditional and modern, it's even in a Kenny Rogers song. I like to think that there's something else that needs to be there, something distinctive about aikido, particularly if we're going to use "aiki" as an adjective. Matching, blending, engaging with the physical/emotional/spiritual energy of the opponent in order to restore the harmony of the universe fits the bill for me.

darin
12-07-2007, 02:29 AM
The first plan had nothing to do with MMA. If I were to do something with the arm holding my backpack, it would have most likely been a variation of shihonage practiced in the dojos thousands of times, rather then a strike. A big point of my post was to show that you don't need to be an Aikidoka to do Aikido in real situations. Any MMA guy would have done the same, even if they've never heard of Aikido.

If anything an MMA dude would probably make a better assessment of the situation due to practical training as opposed to an aikidoist who has never tested his techniques. Anyway regardless of what art he was doing and decisions he made, this situation could have easily gone bad. Fortunately he was able to walk away without being hurt or hurting someone else.

Marc Abrams
12-07-2007, 08:04 AM
Darin:

Personally, I doubt that a MMA, under similar conditions described by Roman would have faired any better. This was not about what martial art a person studied, this was about situational awareness and the lack thereof. Roman had the winds on fortune blowing on his back. He made a correct decision and the thugs were not interested in causing another person bodily harm.

Marc Abrams

darin
12-07-2007, 08:26 AM
Marc,

The reason I believe an MMA guy would possibly do better (in theory) is because they are used to fighting, used to being hit and hitting others, and used to resistant partners unlike majority of aikidoka. Therefore, it creates a different mindset and may be the reason he didn't panic. But yeah, totally agree with you on the winds of fortune thing. Doesn't matter what you know if your stabbed, shot or clubbed to death...

Darin

ChrisMoses
12-07-2007, 08:54 AM
Here's where I think Chris is coming from.

I assume many have read this story (http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC04/Dobson.htm) by Terry Dobson? Or read a similar account in Ellis Amdur's Dueling with Osensei? In both cases, I would say the old man (in Dobson's story) and Amdur (in his story) demonstrated aikido, even though neither performed a technique, or even used the threat of a technique. The distinction I would make between those stories, and the stories of Roman and David is that in Dobson's and Amdur's stories, the "practioner" engages the threat. Not in a fight, or in physical contact, but on a human, emotional level. And through that engagement, they bring the conflict to resolution.


Bingo! I was hoping someone else would draw that distinction. Thanks.

Marc Abrams
12-07-2007, 09:07 AM
Darin:

I respectfully disagree with you on this one. If Roman had reacted in a fighting manner in that situation, the outcome would have been decidedly different. Just because somebody is "use to fighting" in a set arena does not always translate into being able to replicate this in real-life situations. I have seen countless examples over several decades of "good martial artists" getting their asses handed to them by street-wise fighters.

Having come from a history of "hard arts" and wrestling, I am a much better fighter now, thank to My Aikido. I can remain relaxed, not giving away information through tensions. In that relaxed state, I can receive more information in from the environment. When I do make my move, I typically do so in a manner that the attacker perceives too late. I am very comfortable in what Aikido has done to make me better at not fighting, and also to respond to aggression in a much more efficient and effective manner.

Once again, Roman's situation (IN MY MIND) had precious little to do with his martial arts training. His experience was a classic example of the need to remain alert to one's surroundings. Nothing anybody has said, has led me to another conclusion. The outcome was happen-chance and fortuitous and the same time.

Marc Abrams

George S. Ledyard
12-07-2007, 09:39 AM
If anything an MMA dude would probably make a better assessment of the situation due to practical training as opposed to an aikidoist who has never tested his techniques. Anyway regardless of what art he was doing and decisions he made, this situation could have easily gone bad. Fortunately he was able to walk away without being hurt or hurting someone else.

Oh, please... mixed martial arts is rife with testosterone driven alpha males... the idea that they would somehow be better at threat assessment and more reasoned in their response than anyone else because of the way they train is simply a joke. There was one killed this past year because he intervened when someone was boosting his car; he was shot dead.

Brian Griffith
12-07-2007, 10:16 AM
Oh, please... mixed martial arts is rife with testosterone driven alpha males... the idea that they would somehow be better at threat assessment and more reasoned in their response than anyone else because of the way they train is simply a joke. There was one killed this past year because he intervened when someone was boosting his car; he was shot dead.

yes...seems to me the more one "thinks" they can handle, the more trouble they may put themselves in needlessly...you are no good to anyone dead or seriously injured...Egos cannot prepare you like common sense can. IMO (i am not bashing any MMA just stating an observation, egos come from all stlyes.)

Keith Larman
12-07-2007, 10:20 AM
Bingo! I was hoping someone else would draw that distinction. Thanks.

Well, yes, but sometimes walking away quickly is one very good means of resolution of a conflict among many. And having gone to a rather, um, less than pleasant high school I would say that trying to pull the thing Dobson saw on a train when surrounded by a group of young men out looking for trouble would be a good solid beating (or worse) waiting to happen. So would attacking. So would posturing. So would most anything *other than* walking away and letting it go.

FWIW I understood what the OP meant when he wrote it. Not terribly precise, but I got it. What if he had written "Lessons learned from Aikido" instead. And said he took the aikido approach of diffusing the situation by simply walking away. Of course that isn't exclusive to aikido, but it *is* part of the philosophical discussions that usually go on within it. Shodo-o-seisu is sometimes taking the initiative by walking away. That becomes controlling the situation. Masakatsu agatsu can be simply letting it go and realizing that a cheap set of headphones isn't worth a physical confrontation with a gang of young men no matter how your pride is hurt or offended you may be.

I don't see the big deal.

ChrisMoses
12-07-2007, 10:25 AM
George, I wanted to make it clear that I agree with much of what you wrote there. I think that all of the writings, actions and agendas of those who relate these things to us need to be taken into consideration when we try to wrap our heads around what Aikido is. I do however think that the text that I quoted is relevant and useful at helping to understand how OSensei understood the budo/warrior ideals. Even if later in life, if the goals for his art shifted to that of a spiritual warrior (something that I think is entirely possible) it would seem to me that he would apply that same determination and bravery to that end. I am reminded of a seminar a number of years ago where Motomichi Anno Sensei repeated over and over the ideal of "shinken" training and how important that kind of training was for the Aikidoka to approach the level of skill (and insight) that OSensei had achieved. He was not talking about literally training with shinken, but rather with the seriousness and intensity that using a real weapon creates, and how beneficial that kind of intensity and clarity would be to ones open hand training. I still remember how my batto training shifted when I went from using an iaito to using a shinken every class. It is just a different headspace.

Will Prusner
12-07-2007, 10:29 AM
The reason I believe an MMA guy would possibly do better (in theory) is because they are used to fighting

Darin,
I gotta disagree with this statement. In my admittedly limited experience, I've never seen a practitioner of MMA as we know it take on any more than one opponent at a time. Videos of Aikidoka training for a multiple opponent scenario are widespread and readily available. In this situation there were six guys (probably with at least a couple blades, brass knuckles, etc.) who were down to fight given proper provocation. I hate to think what the other five guys would be doing to a person who tried to put one of their group into a submission hold. I don't want this thread to become another Aikido v. MMA knockdown dragout. The only reason I feel this is valid is because Roman mentioned both arts in the original post.

Demetrio Cereijo
12-07-2007, 11:27 AM
Oh, please... mixed martial arts is rife with testosterone driven alpha males...
Compassionate and equanimous statement. Pure Aiki.
:)

Aiki1
12-07-2007, 11:38 AM
Compassionate and equanimous statement. Pure Aiki.
:)

Yea but he's completely right.... :)

Josh Reyer
12-07-2007, 11:59 AM
Darin,
I gotta disagree with this statement. In my admittedly limited experience, I've never seen a practitioner of MMA as we know it take on any more than one opponent at a time. Videos of Aikidoka training for a multiple opponent scenario are widespread and readily available. In this situation there were six guys (probably with at least a couple blades, brass knuckles, etc.) who were down to fight given proper provocation. I hate to think what the other five guys would be doing to a person who tried to put one of their group into a submission hold. I don't want this thread to become another Aikido v. MMA knockdown dragout. The only reason I feel this is valid is because Roman mentioned both arts in the original post.

I've never seen video of an aikidoka training for a multiple opponent scenario. I've seen lots of videos of aikido randori/kakari-geiko, wherein multiple uke take turns giving vague, unfocused kinda grabbing/kinda punching lunges at tori, and then fall down when tori makes some kind of kokyu-nage type movement. I've seen some wonderful demonstrations of aikido, but they always lose me when the randori starts. If anyone knows of some video that shows really good randori, let me know. So far, Ueshiba's 1936 film is the best I've seen.

Incidently, while grappling is of course part of MMA, there's a reason it's called mixed. It includes throws, strikes, and kicks. MMA matches sometimes end by knockout. An MMA practitioner would hardly have to expose himself to attacks from five other guys so he could choke out one.

To keep this relatively on-topic...
Well, yes, but sometimes walking away quickly is one very good means of resolution of a conflict among many. And having gone to a rather, um, less than pleasant high school I would say that trying to pull the thing Dobson saw on a train when surrounded by a group of young men out looking for trouble would be a good solid beating (or worse) waiting to happen. So would attacking. So would posturing. So would most anything *other than* walking away and letting it go.

FWIW I understood what the OP meant when he wrote it. Not terribly precise, but I got it. What if he had written "Lessons learned from Aikido" instead. And said he took the aikido approach of diffusing the situation by simply walking away. Of course that isn't exclusive to aikido, but it *is* part of the philosophical discussions that usually go on within it. Shodo-o-seisu is sometimes taking the initiative by walking away. That becomes controlling the situation. Masakatsu agatsu can be simply letting it go and realizing that a cheap set of headphones isn't worth a physical confrontation with a gang of young men no matter how your pride is hurt or offended you may be.

The problem is, here the young men let him walk away. What if they didn't? Was the situation diffused when Roman walked way or when the six guys decided not to pursue things further, and perhaps take his walkman/mp3 player, etc? And my comparison to the Dobson story was not to say that that's what Roman should have done, but simply that that's an example of utilizing uniquely aiki principles in a conflict.

I don't see the big deal.

That's because there is no big deal. Just some folks interested in aikido respectfully hashing out some thoughts on aikido. No one's demanding that Roman change the title of the thread, or apologize or anything like that. We're just talking about aikido.

Aikibu
12-07-2007, 12:16 PM
Not again....

Where can I buy the popcorn and milkduds...

I'll take a seat in the back row too... I have seen this movie quite a few times. :)

William Hazen

ChrisMoses
12-07-2007, 12:20 PM
I'll take a seat in the back row too... I have seen this movie quite a few times. :)

William Hazen

I suppose there are a few similarities to Rashomon! :cool:

Keith Larman
12-07-2007, 12:41 PM
The problem is, here the young men let him walk away. What if they didn't? Was the situation diffused when Roman walked way or when the six guys decided not to pursue things further, and perhaps take his walkman/mp3 player, etc? And my comparison to the Dobson story was not to say that that's what Roman should have done, but simply that that's an example of utilizing uniquely aiki principles in a conflict.


No argument from me, but given how the situation came about once the OP realized he was in a really bad situation he remained calm and collected enough to simply walk away. He didn't stand there like a deer in the headlights like most would. He didn't escalate the situation either by puffing up and trying to intimidate. He didn't stand there and try to make friends with 6 fellas who very likely would have simply seen that as a sign of weakness and escalated the attack to include more property/personal injury. He walked away and got out of harm's way. Something that I would say was quite a sensible thing to do given the situation.

The point I think he was trying to make is that his training in aikido helped him deal with the situation. Calling all that "aiki" is a bit of a stretch, but I've had sensei talk about "aiki" in a very large sense of "oneness" with everything around you to encompass taking in the full gist of a situation. Sure, we can call that situational awareness or whatever, but in the larger context of aikido training including all those philosohpical ideals we talk about we hope that we and our students develop that sort of mindset. And remain calm, centered, and "at one" with the situation so they see it for what it is without too much distortion from ego, anger, surprise, whatever.

Anyway, I mostly just wanted to say I thought he did the right thing and if his aikido training is what it is he credits with being able to stay clear and focused and get out of the situation, more power to him.

Will Prusner
12-07-2007, 12:59 PM
I've never seen video of an aikidoka training for a multiple opponent scenario. I've seen lots of videos of aikido randori/kakari-geiko, wherein multiple uke take turns giving vague, unfocused kinda grabbing/kinda punching lunges at tori, and then fall down when tori makes some kind of kokyu-nage type movement.

But, randori is training for a multiple opponent scenario, so if you've seen a video of randori, then you've seen an aikidoka training for that scenario. In your opinion, the Randori you have observed is inadequate, inferior and unrealistic training for that type of situation, but that doesn't change what it is. It may not be the perfect way to train for this type of thing, but it's got to be better than not training with multiple attackers at all, however. As far as I can tell, randori is alot about strategy and generalship, distance and positioning which is more important than individual techniques when fighting a group than when fighting an individual one on one.

Marc Abrams
12-07-2007, 01:26 PM
Hey William:

They put too much salt in my popcorn! If only they had the aiki-spirit at the popcorn stand, then I wouldn't have to ask to have it my way, they would already know. Do you know what the vegas odds are on the outcome of this movie? :D

Marc Abrams

Will Prusner
12-07-2007, 01:40 PM
Hey William:

They put too much salt in my popcorn! If only they had the aiki-spirit at the popcorn stand, then I wouldn't have to ask to have it my way, they would already know. Do you know what the vegas odds are on the outcome of this movie? :D

Marc Abrams

oh boy, I guess i'm asking for it, but here goes anyhow...

huh? :confused:

Aikibu
12-07-2007, 01:58 PM
oh boy, I guess i'm asking for it, but here goes anyhow...

huh? :confused:

The thread is/was starting to gravitate into another forum death match between the League of MMA Viking Gods and the Aikido Samurai Ninja Clan. :D

William Hazen

Demetrio Cereijo
12-07-2007, 02:09 PM
Yea but he's completely right.... :)

Can i be compasionate, equanimous and completely right, too?
(Hint: I'm watching some interesting video clips hosted in your website) :)

Respecting other people's approach to martial arts practise won't hurt you and can also can lead to have your approach respected also, even if there are disagreements about what is martial arts practise about.
(fill here with a lot of friendly smilies)

Aiki1
12-07-2007, 02:24 PM
Can i be compasionate, equanimous and completely right, too?
(Hint: I'm watching some interesting video clips hosted in your website) :)

Respecting other people's approach to martial arts practise won't hurt you and can also can lead to have your approach respected also, even if there are disagreements about what is martial arts practise about.
(fill here with a lot of friendly smilies)

I spent several years studying BJJ, and before AIkido I did Hapkido and other arts, intermixed with other stuff, some of it pretty nasty.... I was around the BJJ world earlier on and met a lot of the early UFC fighters here and there - I've seen the whole thing evolve - simply put, my experience matches what George said. I wasn't commenting on what you said per se just affirming what he did.

For what it's worth, I didn 't say alll....

:)

Keith Larman
12-07-2007, 02:26 PM
Can i be compasionate, equanimous and completely right, too?
(Hint: I'm watching some interesting video clips hosted in your website) :)

Respecting other people's approach to martial arts practise won't hurt you and can also can lead to have your approach respected also, even if there are disagreements about what is martial arts practise about.
(fill here with a lot of friendly smilies)

Just fwiw I have a few friends who are seriously into MMA. One or two *are* a bit overloaded on the testosterone side and do have a very bad habit of looking for trouble -- can't waste all that training, right? They're young and stupid IMHO. The MMA doesn't have a monopoly on that either, btw.

But on the other hand most of them are *fully* aware that a big honking fight isn't all that pleasant physically and a lot can go wrong (which I think was the original point, ya?). And as such tend to be a bit more cautious about getting into unnecessary scuffles than those with the sort of enlighted confidence in their martial prowess who've never actually been on the receiving end of a good, solid cheap shot... :P

Most experienced martial artists regardless of style who've ever really tangled with another person tend to stay out of trouble if they've got any brains at all. I've been hit very hard a few times, once or twice in really bad situations many years ago. I found that can deal with it, I can continue to function, but I *really* don't like it and *really* don't want to get hit like that. That insight is not an exclusive insight to any one group.

Roman Kremianski
12-07-2007, 03:02 PM
I appreciate all the advice and feedback I've received here, though I must admit I am disappointed an a bit let down at how members of the community I respect have switched to the now repeating trait of commenting on mma in a bad manner. It seems with today's popularity of mma, it is impossible to have a thread where mma will not be bad mouthed out of ignorance or some other cause, in some way. Once again, Aikido is thrown out as the "superior" art because they "train" for multiple opponents.

People are not controlled by thier martial arts of choosing...and all people are a work in progress, especially young people. I have been lucky to have met and trained with MMA guys who were all kind and peaceful guys. And the guys that weren't didn't stick around for long. (I even have trouble re-calling any at all in the first place)

If someone noticed my posting has stopped lately, it's because of the growing attitude problem on this forum.

Demetrio Cereijo
12-07-2007, 03:16 PM
Don, you... who is next?
:D

Ron Tisdale
12-07-2007, 03:17 PM
Hi Roman,

I for one disagree with some of the characterizations of MMA. I too think we should be very carefull about how we categorize the participants in that sport / art. I enjoy watching their events, and even training with the odd person or two who find their way into an aikido dojo who have exerience with that skill set.

Please have a little patience with us as we grow up... ;)

Best,
Ron

Will Prusner
12-07-2007, 03:40 PM
I for one disagree with some of the characterizations of MMA. I too think we should be very carefull about how we categorize the participants in that sport / art. I enjoy watching their events, and even training with the odd person or two who find their way into an aikido dojo who have exerience with that skill set.

Please have a little patience with us as we grow up...

I second that.

Pierre Kewcharoen
12-07-2007, 04:02 PM
I personally enjoy and respect MMA. Every martial art has its good points and bad points. The only way to be the best at it is to learn them all. The UFC/Pride guys just put their knowledge to the test. But I do see why aikido folks put it down since the basis of the art is to maintain peace and harmony. Why do you think there is no such thing as aikido sparring or aikido matches?

James Davis
12-07-2007, 04:30 PM
Anyway, I mostly just wanted to say I thought he did the right thing and if his aikido training is what it is he credits with being able to stay clear and focused and get out of the situation, more power to him.
I agree. I think that he feels his aikido training helped him. That's it and that's all. I, for one, know that my training helps me to deal with angry people in a completely different way than before I started training, whether they have their finger in my face or they're yelling at me over the phone.

Regarding MMA, I do have a problem with the hotheads that talk trash about the guys they're going to compete against. I also take issue with the people that do this in boxing, tennis or anything else under the sun. If competitors show good sportsmanship, there will more than likely be screaming parents on the sidelines.:rolleyes: I've even met a jerk or two in my years of aikido.:eek:

Kevin Leavitt
12-07-2007, 04:54 PM
Peace and Harmony is always an interesting subject!

For it to happen, it requires people with different agendas, goals, expectations etc....to take the time to understand and appreciate the differences and variations in how others choose to live their life and spend their time.

It requires overlooking the differences and finding the common thread amongst people, not judging them based on our own preconceptions and limited experiences to what we see on TV, experience through brief observations or limited encounters.

We certainly don't judge whole categories based on our exposure and experiences to a small subset!

I always find it quite interesting that there are so many in the art of aikido...an art that supposedly has a high affinity toward acheiving that goal....

Yet will make such bold, over arching and categorical assumptions about what is and isn't right or wrong...based on the precieved value system that somehow places all that is aiki on a higher moral ground!

I typically find that those that make statements about people that align themselves with that which is lumped together as MMA as being too narrow focused, sport and game focused, that it does not deal well with multiple opponents...have never spent much time in that art...and have spent most of their time in aikido!

I think it is very easy to close off your world in the art of aikido, start looking at yourself detached from everything else that is not aikido...and then judge everything through that filter!

It is the very thing that aikido SHOULD be breaking down!

I think to be aiki...is to go out and embrace the world, experience it, and figure out how to reconcile those experiences!

I have been following this thread for the past couple of days.

Roman,

Appreciate your honesty and being open to share a time in your life when you were not "on your game" and share the lesson of keeping your ego in check at a critcal point!

I am glad you did not get hurt.

I am glad that you made a mistake, shared it with us, and learned a lesson.

In this, I find much that is aiki!

Nikopol
12-08-2007, 12:32 AM
Lighten up yourself.

Hey, I don't blend so well myself most of the time!

I will do as you suggest and

Lighten up myself,
and not be no drag,
lighten up myself,
cause Aiki is another bag!...

:o

gregg block
12-08-2007, 08:02 AM
How you train in the dojo influences your reactions outside the dojo. If I had been training in TKD at that time my reaction would have been to meet the perceived attacker head on as that was the way we trained when I was in TKD.

David

I'm 4th DAN in TKD and trained in it 4 20+ years prior to starting Aikido. I'm confident in my skills, but i'm not stupid. I, like Roman, would have walked(or ran) away if I had the opportunity. Martial awareness is not limited to Aikido and to suggest that TKD's philosophy is to meet all treats or attackers "head on" is inaccurate IMHO.

Marc Abrams
12-08-2007, 08:27 AM
I second Ron's comments:

I LOVE watching MMA on tv. As an ex-wrestler, if it had existed when I retired from wrestling, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have picked that sport up. I love playing on the mats with people from any fighting sports or arts. I appreciate the positives and negatives that all of them have to offer.

Roman's incident had precious little to do with martial arts. No one art or sport is "complete." "Do" means "a path", not "THE PATH".

Marc Abrams

ps.- William, tell the guys in the back row to shut-up, they are ruining our movie watching experience.

ChrisMoses
12-09-2007, 12:51 PM
I will think this out as soon as I finish work. It's certainly a valid question. But to begin, arts overlap in reality, so the answer might not be that it is Just Aikido, but perhaps, included in Aikido....

You must work some wicked hours Larry! I've been to work and back several times already, not to mention a couple parties! Or are you demonstrating the aiki of avoidance that I've been reading about in this thread? ;)

(that was meant to be light hearted by the way, not mean spirited, sometimes my amazing wit is misinterpreted on teh interw3bs) :yuck:

L. Camejo
12-09-2007, 04:35 PM
Interesting thread.

Roman: Glad to hear that all turned out ok and that you got out without physical injury.

This thread shows that a lot of folks are unable to separate self defence/self protection from martial arts. They are two very different things.

Regarding the thread in general I agree with Chris Moses, Sensei Ledyard and Marc Abrams among others. Imho Roman exhibited some good self defence skills (escaping an unfavourable, dangerous encounter alive by whatever means he had), but I don't think it was an exhibition of Aiki or Aikido at all.

In self defence and Aikido situational awareness is a critical, foundational element. Initially, this was lacking by Roman, giving the attackers their avenue to strike, but he soon recovered well enough to find himself out of the situation which was good imho. An Aiki/Aikido response imho would have resulted in the situation being averted from the outset imho, similar to David Skaggs' example above.

Just some thoughts.

Mattias Bengtsson
12-09-2007, 07:12 PM
As I'm currently reading the book Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa..
Even the renowned Miyamoto Musashi knew when to back away from a fight he couldnt win.

Kevin Leavitt
12-09-2007, 08:30 PM
Musashi also talked alot about being prepared for the fight and recognizing it very early on before even the first physical action took place.

This is what Roman is pointing out, that he let his guard down in that manner and learned a lesson about not doing it in the future.

Amir Krause
12-10-2007, 09:03 AM
Here's where I think Chris is coming from.

I assume many have read this story (http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC04/Dobson.htm) by Terry Dobson? Or read a similar account in Ellis Amdur's Dueling with Osensei? In both cases, I would say the old man (in Dobson's story) and Amdur (in his story) demonstrated aikido, even though neither performed a technique, or even used the threat of a technique. The distinction I would make between those stories, and the stories of Roman and David is that in Dobson's and Amdur's stories, the "practioner" engages the threat. Not in a fight, or in physical contact, but on a human, emotional level. And through that engagement, they bring the conflict to resolution.

Had Roman turned the tables on his opponents by good-naturedly joking with them, making friends with them, and possibly even getting his headphones back, I for one would call it an exemplary example of aikido. I'm not saying he should have done that, mind you. In this case, walking away may indeed have been the best option. But knowing "when to walk away, and know when to run" is not just a trait of all martial arts traditional and modern, it's even in a Kenny Rogers song. I like to think that there's something else that needs to be there, something distinctive about aikido, particularly if we're going to use "aiki" as an adjective. Matching, blending, engaging with the physical/emotional/spiritual energy of the opponent in order to restore the harmony of the universe fits the bill for me.

I agree.

Well, yes, but sometimes walking away quickly is one very good means of resolution of a conflict among many. And having gone to a rather, um, less than pleasant high school I would say that trying to pull the thing Dobson saw on a train when surrounded by a group of young men out looking for trouble would be a good solid beating (or worse) waiting to happen. So would attacking. So would posturing. So would most anything *other than* walking away and letting it go.
As can be seen in the Terri Dobson story quated above, doing AiKi in such a situation is finding the right way to do something which is above and beyond the common sense.


FWIW I understood what the OP meant when he wrote it. Not terribly precise, but I got it. What if he had written "Lessons learned from Aikido" instead. And said he took the aikido approach of diffusing the situation by simply walking away. Of course that isn't exclusive to aikido, but it *is* part of the philosophical discussions that usually go on within it. Shodo-o-seisu is sometimes taking the initiative by walking away. That becomes controlling the situation. Masakatsu agatsu can be simply letting it go and realizing that a cheap set of headphones isn't worth a physical confrontation with a gang of young men no matter how your pride is hurt or offended you may be.
I don't see the big deal.

That is the common sense.

Musashi also talked alot about being prepared for the fight and recognizing it very early on before even the first physical action took place.

This is what Roman is pointing out, that he let his guard down in that manner and learned a lesson about not doing it in the future.

True, yet Roman himself knew his errors. And I am sure none here is not aware of his surounding 100% of the time (just caught myself in a similar state on my way to work this morning, luckily to me, there was no aggressor around).

I won't participate in the Aikido Vs MMA argument here. I do not train MMA, yet I pointed out my disagreement with the first poster who tried being "Pro-Aikido".
This is just fulish. The discussion here is about typical human failure (people get tired and lose focus, machines don't until it breaks), which ended without any injuries (escept for the headphones). I am sure no MA could claim non of its students would ever fail this way.

Amir

dps
12-10-2007, 09:27 AM
Do you really believe that????

Somehow I bllieve every sensible person would have acted the same way once he realized the situation.Amir

Many started out with snapping the arm holding my backpack,
Wit all due respect to you, I don't think every sensible person after realizing the situation would have started with this thought.

David

Demetrio Cereijo
12-10-2007, 10:00 AM
Wit all due respect to you, I don't think every sensible person after realizing the situation would have started with this thought.

David

I agree, these kind of thougts only happen to those who have seen a lot of Steven Seagal Sensei flicks.

ChrisMoses
12-10-2007, 10:40 AM
At the risk of appearing to pick nits and beat dead horses...

Musashi also talked alot about being prepared for the fight and recognizing it very early on before even the first physical action took place.

I don't think anyone here has a problem with this idea, that it's foolish to enter into a fight you have little chance of winning, particularly if you have a chance of avoiding one. But Musashi wasn't doing Aikido or discussing Aiki either. ;)

This is what Roman is pointing out, that he let his guard down in that manner and learned a lesson about not doing it in the future.

Actually, I don't think that was his point at all. I would not have a single problem with that. I do not however feel that he's saying, "Hey guys, I let my guard down and it almost really cost me..." Rather, I feel he is presenting his choice not to engage an overwhelming force that already had the drop on him as "Aikido". Thus the title of the thread. I think Aiki and Aikido are often mis-understood as an alternative to conflict, rather than an alternative kind of conflict. Even if one were to accept some of the more esoteric lines of thought (such as, "Through aiKi, I am one with the universe and therefore there is no conflict") this does not imply that one goes with the flow even to their own detriment. The universe is unmoved by external forces because there are no external forces to itself, therefore the idea of yielding becomes absurd. I take exception to the presentation of Roman's scenario as an example of Aikido, not Roman's choices. Again, to be perfectly clear, I am discussing the use of the term Aikido and the concepts of aiki, not the wisdom or correctness of Roman's actions/decisions.

Roman Kremianski
12-10-2007, 10:59 AM
I didn't say I intended on doing it, what I saw were opportunities for various techniques practiced on the mat. I am sure anyone who has trained diligently would see these same opportunities. Going through with it is a totally different game.

MM
12-10-2007, 11:04 AM
Actually, I don't think that was his point at all. I would not have a single problem with that. I do not however feel that he's saying, "Hey guys, I let my guard down and it almost really cost me..." Rather, I feel he is presenting his choice not to engage an overwhelming force that already had the drop on him as "Aikido". Thus the title of the thread. I think Aiki and Aikido are often mis-understood as an alternative to conflict, rather than an alternative kind of conflict. Even if one were to accept some of the more esoteric lines of thought (such as, "Through aiKi, I am one with the universe and therefore there is no conflict") this does not imply that one goes with the flow even to their own detriment. The universe is unmoved by external forces because there are no external forces to itself, therefore the idea of yielding becomes absurd. I take exception to the presentation of Roman's scenario as an example of Aikido, not Roman's choices. Again, to be perfectly clear, I am discussing the use of the term Aikido and the concepts of aiki, not the wisdom or correctness of Roman's actions/decisions.

I find myself agreeing with the above. :)

Mark

Amir Krause
12-10-2007, 11:08 AM
Do you really believe that????
Somehow I believe every sensible person would have acted the same way once he realized the situation.

Amir

...Many started out with snapping the arm holding my backpack...

Wit all due respect to you, I don't think every sensible person after realizing the situation would have started with this thought.

David

I agree, these kind of thougts only happen to those who have seen a lot of Steven Seagal Sensei flicks.

Wow, talking of misunderstandings.
I thought it was obvious I meant to the response Roman has actually taken – walk away. Not to the bizarre idea of engaging multiple enemies for something worth 20$
I believed my intention was obvious given the first post I wrote about survival.

I also think your taking such a partial quote of Roman is unfair. He did continue the sentence about the scenario and explained he expected it to get him in trouble.

Amir

Kevin Leavitt
12-10-2007, 12:27 PM
Personally I think part of the real issue here is that there is an attempt to focus on naming what is and isn't aikido.

This is...that isn't.

That is really not what should be discussed IMO.

Nothing is aikido...and all is aikido on the philosophical side of the house. Aikido encompasses ALL.

However, to me, on a reality side. Aikido is a methodology and a philosophy so to speak.

You learn things from it which allow you to make skillfull choices, hopefully!

Those choices you make are simply choices...good or bad. Just like in practice!

However it really is pointless to argue which choice was an "Aiki" choice and which one was not!

Sure, we can discuss and debate the quality of the choice, or other options (which Roman very honestly pointed out!)

Again, they are all simply choices..just like in the dojo..some are good, some are bad....but they are all choices within the sphere of aikido!

This also goes along with my contention that you never fight with aikido...you fight with your mind, body, spirit, and environment around you...but never with aikido...

Because Aikido is a methodolgy...something that cannot be used except in concept!

ChrisMoses
12-10-2007, 12:45 PM
Personally I think part of the real issue here is that there is an attempt to focus on naming what is and isn't aikido.

This is...that isn't.

That is really not what should be discussed IMO.

Given the level of confusion about what Aikido is or isn't, this actually seems like one of the most appropriate uses for forums like these. I can't tell someone why their kotegaeshi doesn't feel right over the internet, and no matter how many times a beginner asks about ukemi, they still need to get on the mat with someone who can help them.

Nothing is aikido...and all is aikido on the philosophical side of the house. Aikido encompasses ALL.

Hmm, I can't go with you there. Aikido has to be something. If Aikido was everything and everywhere, then OSensei would not have needed to show his students how their kenjutsu kata (from other ryuha) would be done 'in aikido'. That implies that there are valid martial systems that are not in keeping with Aikido, at least in the view of the founder. Honestly, if OSensei found it worth his time to analyze things and if they are Aikido and how, if they weren't, they could be adjusted to fit into the paradigm of Aikido, I think it's perfectly reasonable for us to do the same.

However, to me, on a reality side. Aikido is a methodology and a philosophy so to speak.

So I'll pose the same question to you as I have to Larry. What aspects of Aikido's methodology and philosophy do you feel were exemplified by Roman's *actions*? How are these identifying fingerprints indicative of Aikido's philosophy and methodology and what makes it unique? What physical clues to these principles can we find in the waza of Aikido?

Kevin Leavitt
12-10-2007, 01:38 PM
Mine is a more macroscopic vice microscopic view of the situation.

He had a problem, he identified it, he learned from the situation, put it in his bag of "experience", and will probably adopt the lessons he learned from it in his life.

To me, this is aikido and if you take this view toward aikido..there is nothing that can lay outside of the boundaries of the methodolgy of aikido.

I think the problem we have many times in aikido training is we get too focused on the little bits and pieces instead of looking at the whole of the situation, increasing our awareness of a bigger scope.

We worry about hand position or focusing on the wrist during kotegaeshi and discussing if it is a D.R. Kotegaeshi, or BJJ Wrist lock, or if it was done in an aiki manner.

What is important from an aikido or budo standpoint is what we take away from the encounter/experience...not so much what we actually did. That is, the overall endstate.

In this case, of Roman's experience, it was not how he responded or engaged them in the moment...but the fact that he walked away and said..."hey I learned something today!" About myself!

Ron Tisdale
12-10-2007, 01:41 PM
Yikes....sorry Kevin. Way too broad for me.

Best,
Ron

Kevin Leavitt
12-10-2007, 01:45 PM
Chris,

I agree that this is the purpose of these forums, to discuss various aspects and concepts of aikido. I don't mean to imply that the conversation or your point of view is invalid. Mine is simply another view point of what I think is another way of looking at things. the 100,000 foot view vice the 1 foot view.

I will rarely discuss technique on the forums for the very reasons you mention. I agree.

I see the whole "this is aiki" and this is "not aiki" disussion in the same light as discussion of technique.

I think we can discuss philosophy, ethics, norms, values, or clarify perspectives on things for sure.

Again, no issue with the discussion of this issue...just think that there is a bigger picture that often gets lost in the emotion of a particular situation!

Marie Noelle Fequiere
12-10-2007, 02:03 PM
I understand Roman's feeling of frustration because he failed to be aware of his surrounding, but we are all humans, and he ultimately made the right decision by deciding that his life was more valuable than a pair of headphones.
But this story reminds me of what happened to the mother of one of our young students. Let's call her Jane.
One fine day, our Jane was stepping out of a store, in her summer blouse and her hight heels shoes, and, at the same time, she was fishing for her car key in her purse. She was thinking happy thoughts, totally unaware of her surrounding. In other words, she was the perfect prey. As she was about to reach her car, she raised her head to see a guy running toward her. Before she knew what she was doing, she raise the hand holding the car key in front of her, and the guy's adam apple made a bee line te the tip of the key. Next thing she knew, she was alone on the sidewalk, still holding her key in front of her, and wondering what in the world had just happened. She has never practiced any martial art in her life.
Maybe, without knowing it, Jane had achieved the "no mind" state Sensei always urges us to have during randori. Or was she just lucky? Or did her gut feeling suddenly snapped open at the right time? Did any of you have an experience like that?

ChrisMoses
12-10-2007, 02:05 PM
I think we can discuss philosophy, ethics, norms, values, or clarify perspectives on things for sure.


That's all I'm trying to do. Draw out what philosophy it is that is represented by the encounter. So far, a number of people have talked about how the specifics of what Roman did may not be considered "Aikido", but that it somehow fit within the philosophy of Aikido. I don't recognize the particular philosophy or principle that would be demonstrated by his actions. So far, no one has really been able to offer a principle or philosophy that it represents. I find that curios that a number of people feel that his actions were in keeping with the philosophy of Aikido, but can't or won't actually say what that philosophy is. If someone could do that, I think we could have a fairly interesting discussion, because we could say something a bit more specific than, "Yes it is,", "No it isn't". I've offered a few principles that I feel are central to the identity of Aikido (entry/irimi, awareness of the environment, meeting/connecting with a threat (aiki) and ownership of an interaction) that I feel are specifically not exemplified by Roman's description. Contrary to some poster's comments, I'm not implying these are the only possible principles relevant, but so far no one has really offered any others that might support the premise that what was described was Aikido.

Ron Tisdale
12-10-2007, 02:33 PM
Nicely stated Chris!
Best,
Ron

ChrisMoses
12-10-2007, 04:09 PM
I was quote mining one of my favorite Osensei Interviews (http://www.aikidofaq.com/interviews.html) earlier for an email with a former student/training partner. Found this and thought it was interesting given this thread:

B (interviewer): I have heard a story about how you were involved with a fight with about 150 workers.

O Sensei: I was? As I remember. . . Deguchi Sensei went to Mongolia in 1924 in order to accomplish his goal of a greater Asian community in line with the national policy. I accompanied him on his request even though I was asked to enter the Army. We traveled in Mongolia and Manchuria. While in the latter country, we encountered a group of mounted bandits and heavy shooting broke out. I returned their fire with a Mauser and then proceeded to run into the midst of the bandits, attacking them fiercely, and they dispersed. I succeeded in escaping danger.

:D

mathewjgano
12-10-2007, 04:13 PM
I've offered a few principles that I feel are central to the identity of Aikido (entry/irimi, awareness of the environment, meeting/connecting with a threat (aiki) and ownership of an interaction) that I feel are specifically not exemplified by Roman's description.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately because quite a few people who I've come to look at as being considerably more knowledgeable than me seem to be disagreeing with my assessment. I thought the idea that Roman followed the path of least resistance was in keeping with the concept of Aiki as I think I understand it. I also didn't think his quick departure necessarily equated to inaction or a disengagement from the situation. In my mind, the ability to walk through a group of hostile people implies something more than ordinary. Granted, my application of the aiki label is very broad, too. Having read Terry Dobson's book, I've come to view aikido as being present in any interaction which has conflict, but which resolves itself relatively well. In this case, the conflict was several dudes taking property and possibly threatening Roman's wellfare. The aiki was in his going with the flow and more or less calmly walking away. Assuming for a moment the "attackers" weren't willing to harm Roman, I'm not sure I could call it Aikido. My use of the label assumes the guys were willing to do more, but his decisive action didn't give them the time to collectively deliberate or act on it. Sometimes a good look is all that's need to stop an attack.
In other words, my perception of the "aiki-ness" of this situation is based on certain assumptions, including that of an alive mindset by Roman (after a certain point in time). In my understanding, a situation like his was bad bad bad. He was wide open; they baited him; he fell for it. The people I've known who did things like this would have in all likelihood not been content with headphones and a backpack. They wouldn't have let him simply walk away; they would have demanded his wallet and maybe still tried to beat him down for fun. If his manner in any way prevented something like this, then it seems it was an "aiki moment"...if for no other reason than by not resisting their efforts. Engaging the moment could very well have necessitated complete acceptance of their superior position and a departure from the "attackers" and their new-found spoils...seemed analogous to good ukemi to me.
So if I had to guess at some principles of aikido I would start off with non-resistance. Perhaps the irimi was simply moving resolutely forward, out of the sphere of their influence. Or, perhaps a mental irimi tenkan occured when the "attacker" saw his angry desire to respond turn into total acceptance and yielding.
Again, my view of this being "Aikido" is based on certain assumptions which are in turn based on my own preconceptions about the likelihood of the mindframe of those "attackers," but walking away as opposed to outrunning them seems to imply ownership of the situation, even if it included their allowance (a blending of wills?). He made a choice in actions which wasn't exactly evasive...walking away is easy to counteract, particularly when you've got 6 of your buddies around to give chase. It seems to me there was more present than simply evading a situation...and he certainly didn't freeze up.
The thought I had when I first read it was "what if the guys were playing a bad joke and intended to give everything back?" In that case their intention wouldn't have been to harm Roman and his leaving wouldn't have solved anything other than making him feel safer...so much of what is aiki here is subject to conjecture because it's the kind of aikido which is applied to intangibles like intention...it's all one big "what-if" when it comes to guessing at intentions, but in situations like this, it seems to me that's the point around which the issue of whether or not this was aiki or not hinges.
I dunno...i can't claim authority on knowing what Aikido is beyond the kind of training I try to do. At my dojo Aikido is about searching for a way to reconcile things meaningfully. This expands the concept into some very ambiguous and metaphysical territory and I know not everyone views Aikido or "aiki" to apply to such things, but that's how it still seems to me.

Keith Larman
12-10-2007, 04:14 PM
Principle: Masakatsu Agatsu -- self-victory is true victory.

Once he realized the full scope of the situation he kept his wits about him, didn't react instinctively with a technique, didn't stand there like a deer in the headlights (which many do in these cases), but quickly realized that he was in a bad situation and got out of there. He didn't react automatically to the theft of his material goods but instead maintained a degree of calm that allowed him to find a quick and efficient means of getting out of danger. His reaction was measured and appropriate given the overwhelming odds he faced. He kept control of his emotions, his pride, and his natural instinct to react to having his property stolen. He didn't freeze. He didn't strike out in anger. He didn't break down and cry. He didn't scream and run in a panic. He controlled himself and solved the situation. Self-victory. Self-control. He sized up the situation quickly and realized he had made a mistake and was in the wrong place. And he got out.

Good for him.

I agree completely that being unaware going in wasn't a great idea. But very few are constantly "on" no matter what. But once he realized the gravity of his situation he did act. And acted in a positive way to ensure his own safety and well being, a thing precious few do under stress.

Of course you can learn that skill in any number of ways outside of aikido or martial arts for that matter, but it *is* a skill we hope to instill in students in Aikido, neh?

It seems to me that it is *really* easy to second guess from a distance. That was a *really* bad situation. And I'm not going to second guess him and only congratulate him on finding some inspiration in his aikido training that allowed him to function well enough to get the heck out of it.

I know what you guys are saying. But I think you're just being too pedantic about it.

dps
12-10-2007, 04:25 PM
Question from William Prusner:

WWMD? (What would Morihei Do?)

Answer to question?


I was quote mining one of my favorite Osensei Interviews earlier for an email with a former student/training partner. Found this and thought it was interesting given this thread:

Quote:
B (interviewer): I have heard a story about how you were involved with a fight with about 150 workers.

O Sensei: I was? As I remember. . . Deguchi Sensei went to Mongolia in 1924 in order to accomplish his goal of a greater Asian community in line with the national policy. I accompanied him on his request even though I was asked to enter the Army. We traveled in Mongolia and Manchuria. While in the latter country, we encountered a group of mounted bandits and heavy shooting broke out. I returned their fire with a Mauser and then proceeded to run into the midst of the bandits, attacking them fiercely, and they dispersed. I succeeded in escaping danger.

David

ChrisMoses
12-10-2007, 04:35 PM
I thought the idea that Roman followed the path of least resistance was in keeping with the concept of Aiki as I think I understand it.

So if I had to guess at some principles of aikido I would start off with non-resistance.

Well, interesting you bring up that principle, that was what I was talking to my friend about when I was looking for quotes. I think that what OSensei meant by "nonresistance" is pretty generally misunderstood by Western Aikido students. Here's an excerpt from the email I mentioned above, it relates both to the idea of aikido being a path of least resistance and what nonresistance actually meant in the context of OSensei's Aikido.

I'd like to draw your attention to a few seemingly contradictory comments.

"Interviewer: Then, in that sense, there is Aiki in Judo, too, since in Judo you synchronize yourself with the rhythm of your opponent. If he pulls, you push; if he pushes, you pull. You move him according to this principle and make him lose his balance and then apply your technique.

O Sensei: In Aikido, there is absolutely no attack. To attack means that the spirit has already lost. We adhere to the principle of absolute nonresistance, that is to say, we do not oppose the attacker. Thus, there is no opponent in Aikido. The victory in Aikido is masakatsu and agatsu; since you win over everything in accordance with the mission of heaven, you possess absolute strength."

OK, so that sounds about like what you hear in Aikido. "We adhere to the principle of absolute nonresistance…" So far sounds like what you were getting at in your blog and what most people in Aikido think of. But what was it that he meant by that? What did he mean by nonresistance? Look what he says immediately after this quote:

OSensei: "Even if you have an opponent, he becomes a part of you, a partner you control only."

What what? A partner you control only??? Ok, so that's not exactly what I think of when I hear the word "nonresistance". Let's look even further in the text for some more clues as to what he meant.

OSensei: "There was a handsome looking man at the party and many people prodding him on with such comments as, "This Sensei has tremendous strength. How about testing yourself against him?" I asked someone at my side who this person was. It was explained to me that he was the famous Tenryu who had withdrawn from the Sumo Wrestler's Association. I was then introduced to him. Finally, we ended up pitting our strength against each other. I sat down and said to Tenryu, "Please try to push me over. Push hard, there's no need to hold back." Since I knew the secret of Aikido, I could not be moved an inch. Even Tenryu seemed surprised at this. As a result of that experience he became a student of Aikido. He was a good man."

Ok, so the "secret of Aikido" prevented a championship wrestler from being able to move OSensei "an inch". It didn't prevent him from throwing him, or grabbing him, or anything that could be described as non-invasive or evasive. It enabled him to be *unmovable* against a sumotori. He goes on to recount several other similar events:

"Kisshomaru Ueshiba: Also there was an incident involving a certain Mihamahiro.

Interviewer: Was he the same Mihamahiro of Takasago Beya Sumo Wrestling Association?

O Sensei: Yes. He was from Kishu Province. When I was staying at Shingu in Wakayama, Mihamahiro was doing well in the Sumo ranks. He had tremendous strength and could lift three rods which weighed several hundred pounds. When I learned Mihamahiro was staying in town, I invited him to come over. While we were talking Mihamahiro said, "I've also heard that you, Sensei, possess great strength. Why don't we test our strength?" "All right. Fine. I can pin you with my index finger alone," I answered. Then I let him push me while I was seated. This fellow capable of lifting huge weights huffed and puffed but could not push me over. After that, I redirected his power away from me and he went flying by. As he fell I pinned him with my index finger, and he remained totally immobilized. It was like an adult pinning a baby. Then I suggested that he try again and let him push against my forehead. However, he couldn't move me at all. Then I extended my legs forward, and, balancing myself, I lifted my legs off the floor and had him push me. Still he could not move me. He was surprised and began to study Aikido. "

So again, we have OSensei himself relating stories that he felt exemplified his mastery of Aikido that involved hugely strong accomplished wrestlers (sumotori) who were unable to move him at all, and one who was thrown across the room. Now keep in mind that in the second example, OSensei didn't send him flying across the room from a running charge (what most folks think of as how aikido works) but rather, he *accelerated* him across the room from a static interaction. I also find it interesting that he says that he redirected his opponent's power. He didn't ‘lead' him, he directed him.

These are all quotes that I feel are hugely important at really appreciating what OSensei actually meant when he said things like "nonresistance". Remember, this is not comparing interviews between ‘pre-war' and ‘post-war' aikido, this is during the same interview. *I* think that what OSensei meant by "nonresistance" was that he was not reacting against an opponent, nor was he responding to that opponent in the traditional sense. Because he could move in a manner that was nearly unstoppable it was as if he moved with the force of the universe behind him ("I am the universe" remember?) and therefore he simply directed his attackers/partners at will wherever *he* wanted them to go ("a partner you control only.").

And before anyone starts talking about 'post-war' mindsets and whatnot, the interview was published in 1957...

mathewjgano
12-10-2007, 05:33 PM
Well, interesting you bring up that principle, that was what I was talking to my friend about when I was looking for quotes. I think that what OSensei meant by "nonresistance" is pretty generally misunderstood by Western Aikido students. Here's an excerpt from the email I mentioned above, it relates both to the idea of aikido being a path of least resistance and what nonresistance actually meant in the context of OSensei's Aikido.

And before anyone starts talking about 'post-war' mindsets and whatnot, the interview was published in 1957...

I've read those and I agree they illustrate the profound nature of Aikido. As I understand it, by "harmonizing" with uke's behaviors, we can get "inside" those movements and begin to manipulate them purposefully; the homonyme "Ai" implying some mutually benificial or altruistic intention on the part of the aikidoka. I've begun to assume non-resistance means not working against the behaviors of our opponants, but rather channeling them harmlessly around you, through you, or even adding to them from some "inside" position (ie-shikaku or other entrypoint). I would have called it very good Aikido had he gotten his headphones back; or disarmed the guys and then make friends with them, perhaps even getting them to buy him a beer (super-exceptional Aikido:D ); while Roman's situation was "adequate" Aikido. I'm definately assuming a few things about the situation that I have no way of really knowing about though...and the behavior (specific technique or method) nage uses to generate the desired outcome almost seems moot to me, as long as nage is mentally engaging the situation and actively responding to its demands and that those behaviors generate success. Granted, my training is still quite new (5th kyu with sensei Barrish) so I have to admit I'm no expert. I know I have a lot to learn about Aikido and that makes me pretty unsure about myself on this topic, but even after reading that passage (assuming i understand it properly), Roman's encounter seems to fit as Aikido, albeit in a minimalist sort of way.

Mattias Bengtsson
12-10-2007, 07:04 PM
Maybe you should've called the thread "Total success with Sun Tzu on "the street" Roman.

Specifically "When your opponent are superior, evade him" :D

George S. Ledyard
12-10-2007, 07:11 PM
Well, interesting you bring up that principle, that was what I was talking to my friend about when I was looking for quotes. I think that what OSensei meant by "nonresistance" is pretty generally misunderstood by Western Aikido students. Here's an excerpt from the email I mentioned above, it relates both to the idea of aikido being a path of least resistance and what nonresistance actually meant in the context of OSensei's Aikido.

And before anyone starts talking about 'post-war' mindsets and whatnot, the interview was published in 1957...

Well, I hate to get into this again, but it does bring up the fact that almost no one in Aikido is developing skill like this now. As Dan and Mike have pointed out, there is a conditioning aspect to this that Aikido folks do not seem to be doing any more.

Having been at the Akuzawa seminar with you, it was interesting to see the results of doing that conditioning. You can see this in Systema as well. Akuzawa was quite relaxed at all times because he had both correct body alignment and had done the "internal" conditioning required to give his body structure without using muscle tension.

It is clear that when O-Sensei said absolute non-resistance, he meant a completely relaxed mind that didn't "contend" and a body that had no resistive tension. As Dan has pointed out, whenever O-Sensei wanted to show off his art, he would more often than not, show the power of this relaxation by neutralizing the conventional power of the person he was trying to impress. Then he might end by redirecting the energy and a throw would result.

You see the same thing in the Systema... the conditioning regimen leads to an incredibly strong structure. People are fooled by the fluid movement and what they see as "non-resistance" but at the heart of what they do is an internal power that allows that lack of tension.

It is a good thing that the Aikido community is now getting access to some of this training. It makes me hopeful that things will get better as long as people do not fall into the trap of thinking that not being movable and not getting thrown is the "point" of the training. That would surely wreck Aikido just as fast as having a bunch of folks who think aiki is just a way to avoid power through movement.

ChrisMoses
12-10-2007, 09:41 PM
It is a good thing that the Aikido community is now getting access to some of this training. It makes me hopeful that things will get better as long as people do not fall into the trap of thinking that not being movable and not getting thrown is the "point" of the training. That would surely wreck Aikido just as fast as having a bunch of folks who think aiki is just a way to avoid power through movement.

Totally agree, it's easy to become obsessed with the tools as if they were the end result. The push out, and other 'tests' like aiki-age/kokyu-ho are all ways of guaging our process in a very controlled environment. For most of us, that all falls away when we try to apply it, particularly with an uke that doesn't feel like cooperating.

You comments also echo something I was saying here. (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=194717&postcount=14) :)

Aiki1
12-10-2007, 11:34 PM
You must work some wicked hours Larry! I've been to work and back several times already, not to mention a couple parties! Or are you demonstrating the aiki of avoidance that I've been reading about in this thread? ;)

(that was meant to be light hearted by the way, not mean spirited, sometimes my amazing wit is misinterpreted on teh interw3bs) :yuck:

Haha - very funny.... :)

I've lost interest in that aspect of the discussion, because it just seems to end up going nowhere I think - but I am always interested in "non-resistance...." my whole style of Aikido is based on what we call "kinesthetic invisibility" where uke ideally cannot feel anything from nage. It's quite achievable, but it's a different internal (and external) process than how the Systema guys do things, although the result sometimes looks a little similar.

MM
12-11-2007, 08:09 AM
George and Chris wrote better than I could have done.

Just another "I agree" post.

ChrisMoses
12-11-2007, 11:04 AM
Principle: Masakatsu Agatsu -- self-victory is true victory.



Thanks for your comments Keith. I was curious what you thought about the definition of "Masakatsu Agatsu" that OSensei offers in that same interview I quoted earlier:

O Sensei: The essential points become masakatsu, agatsu, and katsuhayai. As I said previously , masakatsu means "correct victory" and agatsu means "to win in accordance with the heavenly mission given to you." Katsuhayai means "the state of mind of rapid victory".

If I read that correctly, Masagatsu Agatsu could be translated as "Correct victory in accordance with the heavenly mission" rather than simply "victory over the self". Or, perhaps it is an addendum, that victory over the self doesn't really mean to suppress our baser instincts, but to give ones ego over to the divine teachings of Aikido irregardless of our own inclination? This is more like a spiritual take on the traditional ryu-ha paradigm (where the ego or personality of the member is gradually infused with the character and principles of the ryu-ha).

Any thoughts?

Aikibu
12-11-2007, 11:55 AM
Totally agree, it's easy to become obsessed with the tools as if they were the end result. The push out, and other 'tests' like aiki-age/kokyu-ho are all ways of guaging our process in a very controlled environment. For most of us, that all falls away when we try to apply it, particularly with an uke that doesn't feel like cooperating.

You comments also echo something I was saying here. (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=194717&postcount=14) :)

A excellent exchange between you and George Thanks!

Shoji Nishio's only book "Yurusu Budo" explains most of this clearly...The wrist grabbing branch of Hombu Aikido and the Atemi branch of Hombu....so to speak...He lamented the fact the the 'Wrist Grabbers" were diluting the art to the point where it looks like a dance and without a Strong Martial Base Aikido the Martial Art of O'Sensei would eventually disappear.

It's up to us to ensure that does not happen.

William Hazen

Ron Tisdale
12-11-2007, 11:57 AM
Some thoughts by Peter Goldsbury on that phrase...

http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15895&highlight=Masakatsu&page=2

Best,
Ron

L. Camejo
12-11-2007, 12:06 PM
Lol. When I saw WWMD I instantly thought "What Weapon of Mass Destruction."

:D Oh well...

Joseph Madden
12-11-2007, 01:31 PM
I think what may have happened to Roman may have nothing or everything to do with aiki or what Gavin de Becker refers to as "The Gift of Fear"(an excellent read if you get the chance).Human beings, like most animal life forms, are programmed with a flight or fight response mechanism. For most people, this ability, as we have evolved, has become not dormant as many believe, but merely ignored. The feeling you get in the pit of your stomach is usually trying to tell you something. As martial artists it is our job to cultivate this feeling (call it heijoshin, mushin, fudoshin, aiki etc) in order to understand what the universe may decide to throw at us at any given time. Roman, by paying attention to those feelings, saved himself from being injured. I've had the opportunity to use the same feeling, where the outcome was different but the opportunity to use the feeling was the same. No harm, no foul. You survived. Congrats!

Osu

Michael Douglas
12-11-2007, 01:41 PM
I've just read through the first page, and these three struck me as sensible comments;
Do you really need any martial arts to know not to pick a fight with 6 guys in a subway?
Somehow I bllieve every sensible person would have acted the same way once he realized the situation.
That's exactly why I didn't see anything like "aikido" or any other type of budo and I certainly wouldn't call the scenario a "partial sucess with Aikido". Roman let one guy pull his headphones right off of his head, then still didn't notice that he'd been surrounded by six other guys, one obviously close enough to restrain him by his backpack. That doesn't sound like someone doing Aikido, that sounds like a lucky victim. I don't see how this could be described as an example of how Aikido 'worked' in a real encounter.
Just giving credit where it's due, and forgotten six pages back ...
now back to reading all the other stuff ...

Will Prusner
12-11-2007, 01:57 PM
Response to David's answer from post #122:

That's more along the lines I was thinking. I just have a hard time seeing "the man, himself (in his prime)" walking away from such an encounter.

Thanks.

Michael Douglas
12-11-2007, 01:58 PM
Finished reading the thread, and I had to include this comment too ;
Well yes, it's more of a "failure to follow the basic tenets of your art" kind of story.
I think that the idea that exercising some sort of common sense by not getting into it with a group of thugs who already had the drop on you is Aikido is definitely faulty; you are right, it is not an example of a partial success of Aikido.

Keith Larman
12-11-2007, 09:39 PM
Thanks for your comments Keith. I was curious what you thought about the definition of "Masakatsu Agatsu" that OSensei offers in that same interview I quoted earlier:

SNIP

If I read that correctly, Masagatsu Agatsu could be translated as "Correct victory in accordance with the heavenly mission" rather than simply "victory over the self". Or, perhaps it is an addendum, that victory over the self doesn't really mean to suppress our baser instincts, but to give ones ego over to the divine teachings of Aikido irregardless of our own inclination? This is more like a spiritual take on the traditional ryu-ha paradigm (where the ego or personality of the member is gradually infused with the character and principles of the ryu-ha).

Any thoughts?

Yup, I have thoughts and mostly because of some digging I've been doing lately within my own style.

I've been taught a variety of things about this quote. One is from some ancient Japanese mythology. I don't recall the details (nor all the gods and details of things like swords and beads being chewed up and spit out if I remember correctly) but the bottom line was it was a story in the Kojiki. The translation of the names of the deities that sprang forth from one of these events included masakatsu agatsu.

I've read and been told by a few people that this expression became something of a war cry at various times and places. The notion came to mean a sort of higher order of victory by being so "in tune" that there was no battle at all.

Or, perhaps it is an addendum, that victory over the self doesn't really mean to suppress our baser instincts, but to give ones ego over to the divine teachings of Aikido irregardless of our own inclination? This is more like a spiritual take on the traditional ryu-ha paradigm (where the ego or personality of the member is gradually infused with the character and principles of the ryu-ha).

I think you're reading a lot into it that isn't really there. The feeling is of instantaneous victory due to being in accord with the universe. To the extent that what you called the teachings of the ryu-ha are in accordance with that, well, sure, but I would hazard to guess that he had a much bigger context he was thinking of and wouldn't have been so limited.

O-sensei often spoke in aphorisms with grand, sweeping and poetic phrasing. This phrase is a great example as it has both deep, cultural meaning from early mythology but also because of the ripe symbolism of the kanji itself. So getting the context "correct" is a dicey proposition as you have to balance all those things out.

FWIW I was recently reading some writings of Seidokan's late Sensei (Rod Kobayashi) on the doka and have asked his family if I could help put together more of what Kobayashi-sensei had written. Kobayashi-sensei was intensely interested in O-Sensei's writings and as a matter of fact we have a lovely scroll of masakatsu agatsu I believe by O-sensei on our wall which was a very precious gift to Kobayashi. Kobayashi had been working on translating a number of them up until his untimely death and I'm hoping to get a look at some of things that haven't been made public.

One thing Kobayashi-sensei wrote before his death:

The principle of shodo-o-seisu helps one have a deeper understanding of O'Sensei's teaching of masakatsu agatsu or "true victory is victory over oneself." If you calmly maintain control over yourself, you will not only find a way to control the opponent but will also be able to control the situation before drastic action is necessary. There will be no need to consider winning or losing, since there will be no contest. Both sides will be winners — the would-be attacker who didn't need to attack and the would-be defender who didn't need to defend.

So again I think the point here is a notion of victory as a sort of higher order victory. Not victory in the sense of beating them down but the idea that by being "one" with the situation you are able to stop it from happening at all. Hence the notion of "instantaneous" victory. "Victory" in this sense becomes a higher order notion of "winning" by being so in tune that you don't have the conflict at all... Hence Kobayashi's discussion of shodo-o-seisu helping understand the idea. The idea isn't that it is "just" victory over yourself, but that being one with the universe and not "perturbed" is a part of it. I think the "self-victory" aspect is overemphasized but that doesn't mean it isn't part of it at the same time.

This would also be the time to talk about concepts like fudo-shin, fudo tai. And then discussions of Fudo-Myoo exhibiting many of the qualities we're trying to talk about. That sort of "self-victory" is more how I take the concept. Sort of the goal of many philosophical systems of trying to see the world "as it is" (or the "world in-itself" or seeing the world "authentically" to borrow terms from the western philosophy). "Cutting through the illusions" allow one to see things as they are. And acting in accordance, fully aware, fully integrated, allows you the greatest power.

But I'm tired now and I spent way too long helping out in a first grade classroom. Lord knows working with 7 year olds is tougher is more tiring than reading Kierkegaard...

ChrisMoses
12-12-2007, 10:37 AM
I've been taught a variety of things about this quote. One is from some ancient Japanese mythology. I don't recall the details (nor all the gods and details of things like swords and beads being chewed up and spit out if I remember correctly) but the bottom line was it was a story in the Kojiki. The translation of the names of the deities that sprang forth from one of these events included masakatsu agatsu.



Thanks for your comments Keith. I think some of what you are referencing is from the discussion on e-budo that Ron linked to above. I had missed or forgotten that exchange and it was a really good read. Thanks Ron for posting it.

Keith Larman
12-12-2007, 11:03 AM
Ah, yes, that was the thread -- I missed Ron's link. That thread years ago got me asking questions of various folk I am acquainted with, some of whom had been training in Japan through the 50's and 60's with varying experiences with O-sensei. Others who are historians. It also spurred me to talk with Kobayashi-sensei's family about the topic and what he'd written since he was fluent in English and Japanese and studied O-sensei's writing quite a bit. Interesting stuff. It does somewhat change the "casual" definition of the term, or at least places it in a different light I think. My *current* take on it revolves around a sort of "symbolic" meaning of instantaneous -- i.e., the victory is "instantaneous" because there was simply no "event". You won before it started *because* you were so totally in tune that nothing could happen that you couldn't easily deal with. So the idea of two swordsmen circling each other but never drawing because they realize that they are completely and totally matched. Or one not choosing to draw because they see there is no opening and they cannot possibly win. Both are in this sense "instantaneous" victories (victories at the speed of light, etc.). So a higher order understanding of the notion of victory.

So.... Back to Roman's post... I think walking way quickly and calmly once aware of the situation can be a higher order of victory, especially if there was little chance of any other sort of "victory" if he had engaged them. It wasn't the best situation to get into (which is absolutely *not* the right approach) but once he "tuned in" I think things changed. So it depends on when you start counting whether he gets credit... ;)

But, of course, all this is just my own current take struggling through the translations and what I've been taught. Ask me again in 2 years and I'll probably give you a different answer... ;)

Ron Tisdale
12-12-2007, 11:41 AM
:D No worries....just skip over the bruceb posts... :D

Best,
Ron

ChrisMoses
12-12-2007, 11:45 AM
:D No worries....just skip over the bruceb posts... :D

Best,
Ron

But are you...

sure?

That's...

wise???

After all, you'll all...

come around.

Someday.

;)

(appologies for being off topic and snarky, sometimes I can't help myself.)