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mathewjgano
09-08-2008, 05:07 PM
evileyes ...ehem...:sorry: So here's an another thread you probably don't want to post in...maybe because you don't like me or you think I'm wierd. Don't worry, I'll be fine...I guess. I don't really have any friends to talk to about this topic so I was hoping someone wouldn't be bothered by talking to me enough to say a word or two...<cough, cough:yuck: >...
That is to say:
What say you on this Aikido-pervasive passive aggressive stuff that people are talking about? What's bad about it? Is there anything good about it? I mean...wasn't Gandhi passive aggressive? You're not saying you hate Gandhi are you? Are you?:rolleyes:
:D
M

gdandscompserv
09-08-2008, 05:58 PM
I think the term "passive-aggressive" gets way to much press.:D

mathewjgano
09-08-2008, 06:18 PM
I think the term "passive-aggressive" gets way to much press.:D

I'd have to agree.:cool: :D

Janet Rosen
09-08-2008, 06:41 PM
Ghandi was NOT passive agressive. Methinks you are misunderstanding the term.

It refers to indirect, underhanded actions in which the actual agenda is not referred to (even if everybody else knows exactly what it is) so the person can retreat in smug deniability if confronted with the actual issue at hand - in essence, a form of what an existentialist would call "bad faith.:
Ghandi always made his goals and methods very clear.

Janet Rosen
09-08-2008, 06:44 PM
An example of how it sets in in aikido dojos is something we discussed in a Mirror column (http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/themirror/2005_05.html) some yrs back. Relevant section copy and pasted:
So now we have a culture that tells the newbie he is special for training in this art, but the difference between what is preached and how he is actually learning to move and to interact with a partner creates a profound cognitive dissonance. Why are we surprised when the result is a group of people engaging in competitive struggle rather than cooperative exploration?
The student is learning tension that physically closes her off from her own body, not to mention her partner. In both body and mind, she is engaging in conflict with her partner. Attempting to follow the typical instructions to "relax" and "blend" is often ineffective. As uke, relaxation is likely to be perceived as vulnerability, particularly when one's partner believes that more effective technique requires more muscle. As nage, relaxation is often embodied as limply fading out and disconnecting from one's partner. In both roles, when "relaxation" clearly does not "work," the student reverts to more muscle and more conflict. She is not encouraged to think about, articulate or confront her tension and the negative buttons being pushed in her training. At the same time, the stated philosophy continues to be that everybody is being harmonious here. So this dichotomy is learned as normal.
In a person or a family we would call this passive-aggressive. Why are we surprised to see a passive-aggressive dojo culture?

gdandscompserv
09-08-2008, 07:16 PM
"The term "passive-aggressive" was first used by the U.S. military during World War II, when military psychiatrists noted the behavior of soldiers who displayed passive resistance and reluctant compliance to orders."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive-aggressive_behavior

Hebrew Hammer
09-08-2008, 11:25 PM
Matt have you considered getting a cat?

Keith Larman
09-08-2008, 11:44 PM
Well, "passive aggression" is a kind of catch-all phrase and while it may be somewhat controversial whether to call it a disease vs. behavior (or even to define exactly what they mean), the phrase has fallen into a sort of conventional usage in popular culture. Basically IMHO it's best defined as that ass who seems to enjoy being a total jerk all while ostensibly acting like a "nice" person. You get people like this everywhere but Aikido seems to attract more than its fair share IMHO due to the very nature of Aikido. "Toss them with loooooooove..." The blissed out nutcases who think they're the reincarnation of O Sensei who spend most of their time basically using it as an excuse to be intolerable asses. They seem to thrive on adulation and do whatever it takes to be seen as an enlightened Kwai Chang Cain wandering the world looking to spread peace and love.

http://www.summerchild.com/jules.jpg

Sorry, couldn't resist...

Or to be a bit more serious and as a stab at looking scholarly... Mostly people with narcissistic personality disorders. And they're not exactly rare in the martial arts world.

mathewjgano
09-08-2008, 11:52 PM
Matt have you considered getting a cat?

Well there are a couple strays around these parts...maybe I should start feeding them?
Wait a minute...are you saying I need a hobby? lol

mathewjgano
09-08-2008, 11:56 PM
Ghandi was NOT passive agressive. Methinks you are misunderstanding the term.

It refers to indirect, underhanded actions in which the actual agenda is not referred to (even if everybody else knows exactly what it is) so the person can retreat in smug deniability if confronted with the actual issue at hand - in essence, a form of what an existentialist would call "bad faith.:
Ghandi always made his goals and methods very clear.

...sometimes obstructionist resistance to following authoritative instructions in interpersonal or occupational situations.
This doesn't fit the description of Gandhi? I thought his goals were attained through obstructionist resistance.

Ron Tisdale
09-09-2008, 08:11 AM
The difference being that he was crystal clear about his goals, motives and objectives, rather than hiding them behind smarmy, peace-nic, bunny sounding, rhetoric. Or pretending to be one thing, all the while doing something quite different, with malicious intent.

Kinda like I'm doing here... :D

Best,
Ron (only as an illustration, of course) :eek:

lbb
09-09-2008, 08:26 AM
This doesn't fit the description of Gandhi? I thought his goals were attained through obstructionist resistance.

I think you'll be leading yourself astray by niggling at dictionary definitions. Forget about Gandhi -- Gandhi's form of civil disobedience, often referred to as "passive resistance", bears no resemblance to passive-aggressiveness, as Janet says. Likewise, as Keith pointed out, while the term "passive-aggressiveness" was originally coined to refer to a sort of noncompliance that could be considered similar to Gandhi's, that doesn't help you to understand what people mean when they use the term today. When people refer to a behavior as "passive-aggressive", they mean that the behavior is intended to do damage while at the same time showing the perpetrator in a positive light. It's not the same thing as, say, anonymously posting hurtful remarks about someone; a passive-aggressive person would instead offer these remarks very publicly, but would do so under the guise of trying to be helpful or kind.

Is aikido particularly prone to passive-aggressive behavior? I think the culture of aikido is such that it can provide a haven for such behavior, yes. In many martial arts, there are maxims of being peaceful or nonviolent or whatnot; in Shotokan karate, when the dojo kun is recited at the end of class, you'll have a roomful of people shouting, "Refrain from violent behavior!" But at least in my experience, there isn't this feeling in Shotokan that reciting the words absolves you of your actions. If you punch your partner in the head, people will see it for exactly what it was, whether it was an accident or carelessness or deliberate intent. In contrast, the language of aikido sometimes lends itself to a form of absolution: talk of using the opponent's energy against him, while technically accurate, sometimes takes on another dimension of blaming the victim. That's where the passive-aggressiveness plays out: I practice the Art of Peace, and if that person hadn't had all that violent and negative energy, he wouldn't be lying there on the ground right now clutching a broken wrist.

Demetrio Cereijo
09-09-2008, 09:22 AM
You're not saying you hate Gandhi are you? Are you?

"I have been repeating over and over again that he who cannot protect himself or his nearest and dearest or their honour by non-violently facing death may and ought to do so by violently dealing with the oppressor. He who can do neither of the two is a burden. He has no business to be the head of a family. He must either hide himself, or must rest content to live for ever in helplessness and be prepared to crawl like a worm at the bidding of a bully."
Who can hate Gandhi?
:)

mathewjgano
09-09-2008, 04:04 PM
(only as an illustration, of course) :eek:

Oh, I understand completely, Ron. I myself use that method of teaching all the time. :D

mathewjgano
09-09-2008, 04:34 PM
I think you'll be leading yourself astray by niggling at dictionary definitions. Forget about Gandhi -- Gandhi's form of civil disobedience, often referred to as "passive resistance", bears no resemblance to passive-aggressiveness, as Janet says. Likewise, as Keith pointed out, while the term "passive-aggressiveness" was originally coined to refer to a sort of noncompliance that could be considered similar to Gandhi's, that doesn't help you to understand what people mean when they use the term today. When people refer to a behavior as "passive-aggressive", they mean that the behavior is intended to do damage while at the same time showing the perpetrator in a positive light. It's not the same thing as, say, anonymously posting hurtful remarks about someone; a passive-aggressive person would instead offer these remarks very publicly, but would do so under the guise of trying to be helpful or kind.

Is aikido particularly prone to passive-aggressive behavior? I think the culture of aikido is such that it can provide a haven for such behavior, yes. In many martial arts, there are maxims of being peaceful or nonviolent or whatnot; in Shotokan karate, when the dojo kun is recited at the end of class, you'll have a roomful of people shouting, "Refrain from violent behavior!" But at least in my experience, there isn't this feeling in Shotokan that reciting the words absolves you of your actions. If you punch your partner in the head, people will see it for exactly what it was, whether it was an accident or carelessness or deliberate intent. In contrast, the language of aikido sometimes lends itself to a form of absolution: talk of using the opponent's energy against him, while technically accurate, sometimes takes on another dimension of blaming the victim. That's where the passive-aggressiveness plays out: I practice the Art of Peace, and if that person hadn't had all that violent and negative energy, he wouldn't be lying there on the ground right now clutching a broken wrist.

Well, the Gandhi remark was meant more as a joke than anything else, but I have to admit my understanding of the phrase has felt a little weak after hearing about how wide-spread it supposedly is...which is why I opened this thread. I can see how the strictest definition of the phrase wouldn't include someone who makes their intent very clear. I could and did look it up, but I wanted to also flesh out something about how the folks here tend to mean it. Coincidentally, using the idea that people would offer damaging analysis publically to "help" the target...doesn't that sound a lot like folks who might describe Aikido as being highly passive aggressive? Or at the least it certainly makes it very hard to tell the difference between sincere impressions and insincere ones...not to mention the sincere ones which the passive aggressive person isn't even aware of (apparently that's a common trait to passive aggressives as well).
My impression has always been that passive aggressive behavior only works when the target of that behavior falls for it. Learned helplessness, for example, requires that others will help the passive aggressive person. So I've often wondered what the big deal is...I've never felt threatened by passive-aggressives I've encountered because of that passive nature of their aggression.
At any rate...there's my jumble of thoughts on it for now. I can see why a lot of folks wouldn't find this topic interesting...or more to the point, how they might simply be burned out on this sort of thing, but I think that because it's a part of our training experience (social issues are pertinent to budo in this regard) it's probably useful to talk about it.
Thank you folks for commenting so far. I always appreciate getting others' perspectives.

mathewjgano
09-09-2008, 04:40 PM
"I have been repeating over and over again that he who cannot protect himself or his nearest and dearest or their honour by non-violently facing death may and ought to do so by violently dealing with the oppressor. He who can do neither of the two is a burden. He has no business to be the head of a family. He must either hide himself, or must rest content to live for ever in helplessness and be prepared to crawl like a worm at the bidding of a bully."
Who can hate Gandhi?
:)

I love that guy. In my opinion, his spirit embodies everything that it means to be a real tough guy. So much of what he's said (that I recall reading) has put things into such a beautiful and succinct perspective.
Nice quote. Thank you.
Take care,
Matt

Keith Larman
09-09-2008, 06:23 PM
"You know, honesty is always the best policy. And I believe in honesty. The reason you haven't found true love is that you have a hideous face and of course your butt is gigantic. I say that with love of course."

"Ah, see, I am one with the universe. Now as he grabs my wrist I apply nikyo. See how I'm using his energy to cause him to fall to the ground in pain? And as I keep moving to adjust to his attempts to make the pain go away it just intensifies his pain. And see how he keeps trying to escape the control but everything he does just makes it worse? Even him slapping his leg or the mat doesn't help because I can sense he isn't in tune with the universe like I am. It is all his fault for attacking me in the first place. Okay, let me call someone else up. What, no one volunteering? Are you all so out of tune with the universe that you don't want to improve yourselves by training with me? What's wrong with you people..."

After telling a particularly ugly racial joke to a person of that race the person says "Hey, lighten up, its only a joke..."

A student consistently misses class. Or avoids seminars and camps. Doesn't attend seminars that cover required arts for his next testing level. Then complains that he isn't asked to test.

Or a classic... "Honey, what's the matter, you haven't said a word to me for hours." -- COLDLY -- "Nothing, I'm FINE. Leave me alone."

Or one from personal experience...

me: "Makoto as used in Seidokan refers to the Japanese notion of sincerity. However, you need to understand the term means much more and includes notions of fitting into a group and making sure to accomplish your role within the organization. So the translation as "sincerity" may not always jibe with the original intent sensei had when he selected the term. I spoke with sensei's widow about this and she agreed that this was something he felt very strongly about."

senior fella: "Well, that's fine but we don't live in ancient Japan and sincerity means I have to point out things that I think others are doing wrong or could be doing better. All in the spirit of Makoto of course..."

me: "Um, okay, it's not exactly a controversial point but it really isn't my place to be arguing it with you. You outrank me and I should just stick to training."

senior fella: "Well, if your *only* goal is just to train then I guess you have a pretty low set of goals..."

me: "grumble..."

tobiasfelipe
09-10-2008, 07:47 AM
Or one from personal experience...

me: "Makoto as used in Seidokan refers to the Japanese notion of sincerity. However, you need to understand the term means much more and includes notions of fitting into a group and making sure to accomplish your role within the organization. So the translation as "sincerity" may not always jibe with the original intent sensei had when he selected the term. I spoke with sensei's widow about this and she agreed that this was something he felt very strongly about."

senior fella: "Well, that's fine but we don't live in ancient Japan and sincerity means I have to point out things that I think others are doing wrong or could be doing better. All in the spirit of Makoto of course..."

me: "Um, okay, it's not exactly a controversial point but it really isn't my place to be arguing it with you. You outrank me and I should just stick to training."

senior fella: "Well, if your *only* goal is just to train then I guess you have a pretty low set of goals..."

me: "grumble..."

why you dont say "Dude, grab my wrist" ? evileyes

lbb
09-11-2008, 09:22 AM
Coincidentally, using the idea that people would offer damaging analysis publically to "help" the target...doesn't that sound a lot like folks who might describe Aikido as being highly passive aggressive? Or at the least it certainly makes it very hard to tell the difference between sincere impressions and insincere ones...not to mention the sincere ones which the passive aggressive person isn't even aware of (apparently that's a common trait to passive aggressives as well).

I'm not sure what you're saying here. are you saying that describing aikido as passive aggressive, is passive aggressive?

My impression has always been that passive aggressive behavior only works when the target of that behavior falls for it. Learned helplessness, for example, requires that others will help the passive aggressive person. So I've often wondered what the big deal is...I've never felt threatened by passive-aggressives I've encountered because of that passive nature of their aggression.

I think the effectiveness of passive-aggressive behavior stems from two things: the skill of the passive-aggressive person as an emotional manipulator, and the social conventions that label behaviors as "good" or "bad" depending on the presence or absence of certain key indicators. We are trained, for example, to view a smile as a sign of friendliness and non-aggression. When someone smiles, speaks in a soothing and moderate tone, and offers socially accepted disclaimers and misdirections ("Some people think that," "I know you've worked VERY HARD on this," "I know you want to get better," etc.), it makes it harder for people to identify their actions as hostile -- or to call it out as such publicly, even though they can feel in their gut that it's so.

As you say, if you understand what's going on, or you've been through this mill before, you're a lot less likely to be fooled by it. In the hands of a skilled practitioner, however, passive-aggressive behavior is amazingly effective against those who aren't armored against it.

gdandscompserv
09-11-2008, 09:57 AM
Is the Japanese culture itself "passive-aggressive?" I mean with all that tatamae and honne stuff.

mathewjgano
09-11-2008, 03:42 PM
I'm not sure what you're saying here. are you saying that describing aikido as passive aggressive, is passive aggressive?
No. I'm saying it's usually difficult to tell when people are actually being passive aggressive...particularly in the snap-shot world of internet communication. Assuming I'm understanding correctly, if criticizing/attacking someone with the guise of "helping" them is passive aggressive, then it seems pretty hard to tell when people are being passive aggressive.
Using Keith's "low set of goals" example: hypothetically speaking, if that person sincerely just has that opinion and is being up front about it and not simply trying to "win" the conversation and isn't trying to look good while being critical, I don't see how it would necessarily be passive aggressive, though in all likelihood it was. It just seems to me that label is a little too convenient, based on what my understanding (a term I use loosely here) of passive aggression is.

As you say, if you understand what's going on, or you've been through this mill before, you're a lot less likely to be fooled by it. In the hands of a skilled practitioner, however, passive-aggressive behavior is amazingly effective against those who aren't armored against it.

Very true.

Ron Tisdale
09-12-2008, 09:39 AM
It is a little too convenient, and it is probably used by passive aggressives quite a bit to defend their own behavior. ;) I can think of two individuals in particular who throw the term around quite a bit...but they are in fact two of the most passive aggressive posters I have ever seen.

Myself being number 3 of course... :D

Best,
Ron

Keith Larman
09-12-2008, 01:58 PM
Using Keith's "low set of goals" example: hypothetically speaking, if that person sincerely just has that opinion and is being up front about it and not simply trying to "win" the conversation and isn't trying to look good while being critical, I don't see how it would necessarily be passive aggressive, though in all likelihood it was. It just seems to me that label is a little too convenient, based on what my understanding (a term I use loosely here) of passive aggression is.

but that is precisely the point of it in most cases. Another is the example of the back-handed compliment -- i.e., "Those pants look great. You look a lot less fat in them." The person saying it has a sort of plausible deniability. Sure, in isolated cases it is virtually impossible to determine whether the comments are passive aggressive or not. But over time with experience with a person it usually becomes very obvious. The deniability created becomes a veneer they hide behind all while their true intention is one of spite. In the case I used that gentleman really didn't like what I was pointing out. And since he really couldn't argue anything with the substance of what he said he took one of my comments totally out of context (no one is that stupid to misunderstood what I said) and used that as a means of trying to insult my commitment to training. And all while "acting the role" of an enlightened sensei. It was petty and small. But it wasn't the first nor the last time similar things happened with this person.

As with most behaviors the issue isn't one of isolated behaviors, but of overall patterns over time. The most annoying aspect for me of passive aggressive behavior is that it is so very hard to call them on any individual thing. Their "attack" is subtle and well hidden inside apparently "passive" acts.

mathewjgano
09-12-2008, 07:28 PM
but that is precisely the point of it in most cases. Another is the example of the back-handed compliment -- i.e., "Those pants look great. You look a lot less fat in them." The person saying it has a sort of plausible deniability. Sure, in isolated cases it is virtually impossible to determine whether the comments are passive aggressive or not. But over time with experience with a person it usually becomes very obvious. The deniability created becomes a veneer they hide behind all while their true intention is one of spite. In the case I used that gentleman really didn't like what I was pointing out. And since he really couldn't argue anything with the substance of what he said he took one of my comments totally out of context (no one is that stupid to misunderstood what I said) and used that as a means of trying to insult my commitment to training. And all while "acting the role" of an enlightened sensei. It was petty and small. But it wasn't the first nor the last time similar things happened with this person.

As with most behaviors the issue isn't one of isolated behaviors, but of overall patterns over time. The most annoying aspect for me of passive aggressive behavior is that it is so very hard to call them on any individual thing. Their "attack" is subtle and well hidden inside apparently "passive" acts.

Well said. I particularly liked what you said about plausible deniability.
Coincidentally, I had a very similar experience with a Navy recruiter when I told him I wanted to think a bit more about entering into a 4-year contract/commitment. I was a physics major (that tea-cup has long since been emptied) so they were eager to get me on a sub. I said I wanted to be sure I wouldn't change my mind once I entered into it. His reply was basically, "why would you ever want to be a quitter?" Not that I was ever keen on being a submariner, but he certainly didn't help his cause.

Hebrew Hammer
09-17-2008, 10:47 PM
As with most behaviors the issue isn't one of isolated behaviors, but of overall patterns over time. The most annoying aspect for me of passive aggressive behavior is that it is so very hard to call them on any individual thing. Their "attack" is subtle and well hidden inside apparently "passive" acts.

And sometimes its not so subtle...smiling through clinched teeth comes to mind when I think of passive aggressive behavior. Outwardly pleasant, inwardly with disdain or contempt.