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Stefan Stenudd
01-22-2009, 10:48 AM
Aikido is non-competitive. That's easy to say. The practice is not about defeating an opponent, but about both participants being victorious by finding a truly peaceful solution and growing as human beings in the process. That, too, is easy to say.

Still, there's a lot of competing going on in aikido. Numerous aikido students hurry along the way in an effort to surpass their fellow trainees, in skills as well as grades, eager to take a teaching role when working with whatever partner, reluctant to learn as equals.

But it doesn't stop at the individual level. It happens that dojos compete as well, to attract more students from the streets, maybe even hoping to lure some over from the other dojos. And the rings on the water widen. Groups of dojos, connected by little more than a common organization or by their definition of a style of aikido, might also show the hostility of a porcupine towards other groups or the outside aikido world as a whole, insisting that none is closer to the truth.

There are no medals handed out in these kinds of competitions, but those involved race in order to call themselves superior and everybody else inferior. That's usually the bottom line, and it's not far at all from what takes place in just about any sport.

So, honestly speaking, there's a lot of competing going on in aikido -- although just about all of us happily and sincerely support the non-competition principle at the core of it. But it's easier said than done. Why?

http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/sstenudd/graphics/200901_darwin_ape.jpgSurvival of the fittest

What immediately comes to mind is the Darwinian idea of the survival of the fittest. In any species, its individuals compete to procreate. This, the biggest competition of them all, is supposed to promote the development and refinement of the species. Such a mighty force is likely to affect just about everyone, in spite of our individual preferences or convictions.

But we seem to have done away with a lot of those Darwinian instincts in our society. We not only allow the weak or disabled to live, but we put great efforts in assisting and supporting them. We insist that their lives should be just as fulfilling as everybody else's. Nor do we hurry to reproduce, but quite the contrary. Although welfare brings the possibility to support a lot of offspring, nativity rapidly decreases when welfare increases. That's true also for individuals who are very successful at attracting mates.

There are many anomalies to the Darwinian paradigm. Nowadays, biological science tends to place the urge of reproduction in our genes, and not our whole beings. I'm not sure to what extent that's a question of plain semantics, but it meets with just about the same anomalies.

Well, I'm not trying to redraw the map of zoology. I just have my doubts about the survival of the fittest being the root to our urge to compete with one another.

The meaning of life

Instead, I think it boils down to one frustrating circumstance in human existence: we are all going to die, and we know it. That's the koan implanted in our conscious minds. We will die, and we don't even know what that means.

So, we have an insatiable drive to do the very most we can of our lives, to reach the farthest and the highest, to gild our days in the hope of making them mean more, maybe even one day making us at peace with the unavoidable outcome.

It's not exactly what makes us compete, since winning over others has precious little to do with making our own lives full. But it's what makes us hate losing.

In the limited time span we have at our disposal, we don't want to waste it doing what's second best, or finding that others use their time better. We don't need to come first, but we don't want to come second, because it implies that we failed in making as much of our lives as could have been done. That would make the moment of death one of utter failure, an interruption before completion.

Practice makes perfect

If so, then what to do about it? There is no competition in aikido, but how to avoid competing?

Like everything else in aikido, it's a question of practice. We train the aikido techniques in order to perfect them, and thereby somehow also our minds. Non-competition is an attitude, not just the lack of fighting for medals, and should be trained as such. Only by diligent practice can we become non-competitive.

I believe that the aikido techniques are the keys. Their nature is such that they promote non-competitive thinking, and their solutions show the rewards of it. But then it's important not to practice them with an attitude of using them to defeat an opponent, but to find a solution that both participants find better than any one's victory.

Again, that's easy to say.

Stefan StenuddStefan Stenudd is a 6 dan Aikikai aikido instructor, member of the International Aikido Federation Directing Committee, the Swedish Aikikai Grading Committee, and the Swedish Budo Federation Board. He has practiced aikido since 1972. Presently he teaches aikido and iaido at his dojo Enighet in Malmo, Sweden, and at seminars in Sweden and abroad. He is also an author, artist, and historian of ideas. He has published a number of books in Swedish and English, both fiction and non-fiction. Among the latter are books about aikido and aikibatto, also a guide to the lifeforce qi, and a Life Energy Encyclopedia. He has written a Swedish interpretation of the Chinese classic Tao Te Ching, and of the Japanese samurai classic Book of Five Rings. In the history of ideas he studies the thought patterns of creation myths, as well as Aristotle's Poetics. He has his own extensive aikido website: http://www.stenudd.com/aikido (http://www.stenudd.com/aikido)

Joe McParland
01-25-2009, 01:56 PM
So true... But here is more to consider: In the view of some, we are looking for spontaneous and appropriate solutions to the situations in which we find ourselves---takemusu. This mindset is hampered whether we seek to win or not to lose (competition mindset) as well as when we seek not to compete---an aversion. It's a light paradox that viewing something through not-competing eyes fundamentally still gives rise to the competitive mindset. In a sense, everything we do, every choice we make, can be viewed or judged as competition: to eat in or dine out, for instance, though we may not think of it as such. What to do? I suspect it is best to recognize consciously when we (or those around us) find ourselves in a competitive situation and respond appropriately, without being swept away by the circumstances.

Thank you for your column!

R.A. Robertson
01-30-2009, 11:40 AM
Hi Stefan,

I see that we are wrestling with many of the same issues. I think Joe has some good insights. Are we at war with war? Are we competing with the idea of competition?

I've come to suspect that competition is inevitable, but in aikido we learn perhaps not to contend.

There are more and less aiki ways of competing. Cooperation and collaboration and symbiosis also give a Darwinian edge, and I think aikido is oriented accordingly.

Thanks for pondering on the difficult questions!

Ross

Stefan Stenudd
02-04-2009, 11:31 AM
The mind is a maze, so if we try to judge our actions by what in our minds may have triggered them, we are quite likely to get lost.

When I stuggle to succeed with my aikido technique - am I competing?
I guess that the problem is sort of the same as in trying to act without selfishness. If this is an ideal, one is selfish just by trying to realize it.
On the other hand, if others benefit from my act, I am sure that they don't mind if my reason can be questioned.
Similarly, maybe we don't compete as long as our partners don't feel like losers?

Kevin Leavitt
02-04-2009, 04:53 PM
Stefan wrote:

Similarly, maybe we don't compete as long as our partners don't feel like losers?

I think this is a good statement on the subject!

I compete in BJJ and Judo (an lose alot!), however, I don't feel like a loser when I lose because of the lesson I learn and the way the competitive process has motivated me to strive for a higher level of performance and excellence!

Joe McParland
02-05-2009, 11:40 AM
Zen folks have an expression, "do without doing." On some level, it's not different than Nike's "Just do it." Ideally, if you can maintain a state of equanimity, you will not be mentally / emotionally off-balanced---your "ki won't be drawn out." Finding and maintaining this state under stress both take practice.

Someone with a competitive mindset may be easily drawn into a competition. Someone who feels he must not compete can be held at bay with the mere suggestion that he would be competing to do otherwise. Someone who feels he must win can be drawn into a trap with the suggestion that victory is not yet his. Someone who is concerned with an adversary's feelings is easily manipulated and steered off his original course.

That said, the dojo is the place to work out those details. That means we struggle with techniques (competing with self), we sharpen each other's skills (perhaps competition with each other), and so forth, as we work toward the ideal practice.

L. Camejo
02-05-2009, 04:21 PM
I compete in BJJ and Judo (an lose alot!), however, I don't feel like a loser when I lose because of the lesson I learn and the way the competitive process has motivated me to strive for a higher level of performance and excellence!Very good point.I think when many refer to the negative effects of competition they often (but not always) refer to the situation of one-upmanship and the necessity of having a winner and loser. But do these particular negatives still exist if it is a win-win situation even if one "loses" (i.e does not emerge as dominant) in the actual encounter?

Kevin spoke about his encounters in Judo and BJJ, but is this situation different when applied to Aikido? If we "compete" in Aikido to "strive for a higher level of performance and excellence" such that the winner/loser situation is now a winner/winner situation, are we adhering to or moving away from its core tenets?

Just a thought.

Best.
LC

Kevin Leavitt
02-05-2009, 09:25 PM
Larry, I think as with any thing....moderation is the key. If you become so focused on winning and high percentage techniques that it consumes you, then I think you may have issues and have a hard time of "letting go" later on when you start to get old or can no longer compete like you used to.

You know, I have seen aikido folks who profess to not be competitive at all get very obsessive and serious about things in aikido to the point that I feel the lose the perspective of moderation.

True the may not be "competitive" in the since of sports tournaments etc, but they are competitive in a way that is not positive.

Joe McParland
02-05-2009, 11:36 PM
If I roll my dog on his back and hold him by the neck, there is a very primal response that goes well beyond words - presumably even if I could reason with the dog and explain that it is not my intent to dominate with this action.

At a very basic, primal level, in alternating between the roles of uke and nage, we condition *ourselves* not to be swayed with what instinctually appears as competitive threat and not to act dominantly in wanting to destroy a threat.

This balances the practitioner - victory over self.

Outside the dojo, I am now hopefully less likely to be drawn instinctually into conflict. My tendencies to assert my will, to need to be right, and so forth, can be controlled. Moreover, I know that I can brush off ocassionally yielding to get through the day, particularly when cornered in a fight or flight situation.

Once I am not ruled by the instincts, I am free. I can assert or yield as the situation demands to accomplish my own objectives. I can now compete without being swayed by competition - "do without doing."

I'm not at odds with Kevin here; we've hashed out our understanding in past threads. I'm just trying to reason through my own understanding a little more deeply.

Tony Wagstaffe
02-08-2009, 07:29 AM
To compete or not compete, This is the question?
I somehow get the feeling that 'Hu' man is hard wired to compete and would find it very hard not to ....
In some its stronger than in others and the instinct to survive and make the best for one's allotted time is going to happen naturally....
Nothing lasts for ever!! And if science has it right nor will this solar system!!
Religion, medicine, technology, compassion is what allows the not so strong to survive and make their way in the world. In other species that doesn't happen, so only the strongest and fittest do survive........
As the OP implies, the older and less firmer are now increasing as those coming into the world are beginning to decrease...... there is some evidence that sperm count is decreasing in young men now?
So maybe Darwin is essentially right and if we become too self important or complacent and allow defective DNA/Genes to continue maybe our species will die out to replaced by another?
Natural selection hhhmmm?

Alister Gillies
02-09-2009, 12:57 PM
Stefan paints an accurate picture of the Aikido world - ‘Divine techniques’ practiced by human beings!

The difficulty here is no different from the dilemma presented at all levels in human society and at all times in our cultural history: how are we to live in harmony with each other?

Is Aikido just another attempt at resolving our all too human condition, yet another sect that claims to resolve all our difficulties? For some it undoubtedly is, and all of the characteristics we commonly associate with cultism are often painfully evident. But we should not despair at this.

This is the human condition: the conflict ridden, the narcissitic, and the confused populate our dojos. The dojo is after all a microcosm of society at large. How can it be different? Aikido does not give you a free pass, and does not, if you are awake, locate you on some exalted level of consciousness. We should not be surprised by what we find in the dojo, but we should be careful about what we bring to it and what we take away.

In Aikido the subjective and the objective collide - often with illuminating results. Techniques, regardless of stylistic considerations, function like koans (public cases). Kata (objective)is designed to elicit understanding (subjective). Attributing absolute status to our undersatnding gives rise to rigidity and fosters egotism.

How we recognise this, break the cycle, and move on is a matter of practice. If your practice is unreflective, dogmatic and the ‘only’, ‘true’ way, then your practice will reinforce this attitude.

You are what you practice. Whatever is in your heart/mind will have an objective manifestation. If competition is at the heart of your practice, then you must be prepared to accept the consequences and experience what Shakespeare describes as “nature preying upon itself”.

Aikido offers us the opportunity of living in harmony with each other; contesting with disharmony seems counter productive. What are we to do?

The founder of Aikido often said “I look behind me and I don’t see anyone practicing Ueshiba’s Aikido”. Perhaps we should ask ourselves: what am I practicing?

Stefan Stenudd
02-10-2009, 04:54 AM
You are what you practice.
Eureka! That's the botttom line.
Aristotle insisted that character is shown by action. According to Montesquieu, we are what we eat, Vonnegut said that we are what we pretend to be, so in aikido we are what we practice.

ikkitosennomusha
06-22-2009, 04:39 PM
Sure, we let the inferior have equal rights in many facets of society but I disagree that the Darwin's theory is less prevalent today. It can be seen everywhere you go; the academic student trying to make better grades, the grocery store clerk trying to get promotion over someone else, etc. This is the attitude that drives society-"self comes first".

I don't like this kind of competitive nature and it is truly refreshing to selfless acts of kindness. Aikido teaches to compete with one's self, not against a fellow human. Through aikido, we can change aspects of Darwinism by helping the less fortunate while maintaining "the self".

Kevin Leavitt
06-22-2009, 05:08 PM
Competition is fine as long as the rules are fair and clear and everyone has a reasonable chance of success. It is when folks start breaking the rules or taking advantage of others, lie, cheat, stealing...when we get into problems with competition.

JO
06-22-2009, 08:11 PM
You can't "change aspects of Darwinism". Darwin's theory, in a an updated and much more thorough form, is at the heart of nearly all biology. But Darwin's theories have very little to do with social Darwinism, this idea that only the strong should survive and that head to head competition is at the heart of survival.

Evolutionary theory can and does allow for, and in fact can explain, much about how and why cooperative and other social or "selfless" behaviours come about. Humans are social creatures and cooperation of various types is just as central to our biological meakeup as is competittive behavior. We often want to place our selflessness as some kind of proof that we are better than our "base instincts", yet the universal placement of selfless behaviour as a virtue in just about all human cultures tends to indicate that this is one of our base instincts. Thus is not so surprising as we have been social for a lot longer than we have been human (the fact that all our closest primate relatives are social shows that this trait goes back very far to, at the very minimum, an early primate ancestor from which all monkeys and apes are decended. For the uneducated, we are apes, chimps are more closely related to us than they are to gorillas, for example.

So, what of aikido? Competition is a fact of life, but so is the need for a human to get along with others and to find ways to connect to those others. I have nothing against the competitive martial arts, and if one trains with fighting or combat in mind, competitive training is probably beneficial. But competition would be counter-productive to my aikido training and the absence of competition in the training is an important reason I train in aikido rather than something else. Maintaining the martial aspect of the art while simultaneously building a connection with the other and avoiding becoming aggressive is what I am aiming for. Competition, or any kind of fighting (whether, fair, good natured or not) would get in the way of that.

While I have never trained in a competitive martial art, I have competed in many sports. The competitive mindset is very different from that which I am trying to develop through aikido.

Kevin Leavitt
06-22-2009, 11:07 PM
Jonathan, I certainly respect your choices and outlook so please don't take this the wrong way.

I have NOT found competition to cause aggressiveness quite frankly I have found it to actually temper it and help me and those I train with manage it.

I have found many a student walk in the door of our BJJ school and be VERY aggressive trying to use both physical and emotional strength, power, and determination and avoid the listening to the situation, feeling it, and tempering it appropriately.

Those that remain with our "competitve" model find most honestly that they will not be successful in the long run unless they learn how to slow down and apply the right amount of agressiveness.

That is just for pure randori.

The other aspect is the day to day dojo training or "budo" environment. You also find that in order to improve and grow that you have to achieve interdependence on your fellow classmates. That you train hard, sweat together, and must take care of each other.

There is no difference really from competitive schools and non-competitive. If there is, I would actually say the competitive model has forced me to form deeper bonds of "brotherhood" with my "competittve brethren because we train in a much more intimate and honest way to accomplish our goals.

Again, I do not mean to be critical of you and your experiences and choices.

I do think though in many ways that my dojo mates in BJJ are more authentic or honest in many respects than many of the folks I have experienced in Aikido dojos. I think it is very easy to hide behind "protective" devices in the "non-competitive" model and adopt a "false presence" of "interdependence".

Not saying that it is true in all aspect and all dojos, but I also don't subscribe based on my experiences in both "non-competitve" dojos and "competitive" ones that "the competive mindset is different in the way you describe".

Of course, your mileage my vary, depending on your experiences etc...and I do totally respect that!

JO
06-23-2009, 06:47 AM
Kevin, don't worry about hurting my feelings. I'm a freethinker that doesn't consider this type of exchange worth having unless my beliefs are being challenged at least a little.

At any rate, nothing you wrote really surprised me. I have had some of my more interesting training periods doing jiyu waza with people who had some judo background. Managing techniques with someone that is that hard to throw without "fighting" with them is a great mental, as well as physical, challenge.

It's not that I think that training competitively creates bad people. But I do think it creates a dualistic mindset that I am trying to avoid. Also, the right level of aggressiveness I am aiming for is zero (haven't really achieved that yet, but have had little glimpses and I would say my sensei is one of the more relaxed unaggressive people I know). On a separate note, I definitely think that it is completely at odds with what aikido is about. I agree with the idea that aikido is not about fighting and that it is about not fighting. I therefore find it difficult to imagine how you can do aikido while sportfighting.

Personnally I think that the biggest "problem" with the absence of competition in aikido is not so much the "illusions" or lack of authenticity this can allow. It is more that it allows people to be lazy in their training.

BTW, the competitve arts and sports have to work on their PR if they want to convince me. I see the macho nonsense that accompanies all broadcasted sportfighting and the tears and crushing dissapointment of those that are merely second best in the world at their activity and I see things I want to stay clear of alltogether. (Note that I have experienced, observed and heard of a lot of bad behavior in the world of non competitive aikido, so you don't really need to remind me of it).

jonreading
06-23-2009, 11:56 AM
1. Competition is part of all things. The will to live is a competitive drive. I once heard a shihan say, "Life is [a] competition; we don't want to die." Everyday we do things that directly compete with others. We cut someone off in traffic on the way to work. We finish a report and give it to the boss first [in hopes] to recieve a reward (raise). We put our kids in the best school we can so they learn in a better environment that other children. When those children drive, we put them in the safest vehicle we can find so they might survive an accident. We watch sports teams compete for recognition, we listen to politicians compete for our vote, we read magazines which compare products against eachother. We live for competition.

2. Competition is a natural barometer for assessing your [relative] ability to succeed. When we compete against others, we naturally develop a hierachy within that competitive pool which predominates our actions. For example, if I play baseball better than 9 other kids in a pick-up ballgame, what kinds of predominating circumstances will arise? A. Those nine kids will prefer to play on the same team on which I play. B. Those kids will likely let me play the position of my choosing and bat in the order of my choosing. I will also likely play a greater part of the ball game.
These are just some of the likely circumstances under which my skill level affects a baseball game. Just imagine what kind of knowledge you can gain from correctly assessing your skill against others in aikido... or life. I believe healthy competition tells us things which we may use to better act in a situation.

3. We [aikido people] tend to perceive competition as a negative concept and we strive to remove competition from everything in aikido. But then we compete in life. How can I live aikido if on one hand I try to remove competition from aikido whilest keeping competition in my life? I believe that competition is neither positive nor negative; we choose that perception. I seek to use knowledge I gain from competition to make better and more informed decisions in my life. I compete in aikido to test my knowledge and my skills and improve my aikido, I compete in life to test and improve my ability to protect myself and my family and give my family the best chance to live healthy, happy, and successful lives.

Kevin Leavitt
06-23-2009, 02:06 PM
Jonathan wrote:

Personnally I think that the biggest "problem" with the absence of competition in aikido is not so much the "illusions" or lack of authenticity this can allow. It is more that it allows people to be lazy in their training.

Agreed. From my paradigm competition holds us accountable and does not allow folks to be lazy and therefore you acheive a certain degree of authenticity. of course, you also have to be cognizant that there are those that will focus solely on competition and neglect other areas as well. however, I think that is more about the dynamic and leadership of the dojo and less than the precieved evils of a competitive model.

It can go both ways if you ask me.

BTW, the competitve arts and sports have to work on their PR if they want to convince me. I see the macho nonsense that accompanies all broadcasted sportfighting and the tears and crushing dissapointment of those that are merely second best in the world at their activity and I see things I want to stay clear of alltogether. (Note that I have experienced, observed and heard of a lot of bad behavior in the world of non competitive aikido, so you don't really need to remind me of it).

I think there is a broad spectrum when we look at the definition of competitive. On one end you have MMA schools and folks that are solely about being the best they can be in the MMA ring and strive to work with this end in mind. A competitive venture for sure. Also one I don't subscribe or personally identify with as, I agree, it does not fit my goals for long term, personal development...much like you.

On the other side you have arts like BJJ and Judo. they have a mix of folks and focus, but for the most part they take a more long term, holisitic approach to training and focus. We base our training on competitive models, AND the dojo dynamic and leadership will vary...as it does in ANY dojo competitive or not.

However, for the most part, you will find these dojos tend to force a fair amount of authenticity, mutual respect, support, and honesty through hard and accountable training models that are less nebulous than others. Competitive? yes and no.

Finally, I think Jon Reading sums it up fairly well above.

Ron Tisdale
06-23-2009, 02:20 PM
http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/sstenudd/graphics/200901_darwin_ape.jpg

That's not MY culture and herritage...

From a rather good movie...I forget the name just now...

Best,
Ron ;)

Stefan Stenudd
06-23-2009, 03:21 PM
http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/sstenudd/graphics/200901_darwin_ape.jpg
Ron, the discussion has grown, in every meaning of the word, so you may have missed that the illustration of Darwin as half-ape was what I used for my column above. It's from his days. There were many such caricatures published in the newspapers to mock his theory.
The press was just as cruel back then as it is now.

As for the long discussion, I read it with delight and can only say: I agree with you all :)
I have the impression that we are discussing the two sides of the same coin. I might be wrong.

JO
06-23-2009, 08:04 PM
1. Just imagine what kind of knowledge you can gain from correctly assessing your skill against others in aikido... or life. I believe healthy competition tells us things which we may use to better act in a situation.

3. We [aikido people] tend to perceive competition as a negative concept and we strive to remove competition from everything in aikido. But then we compete in life. How can I live aikido if on one hand I try to remove competition from aikido whilest keeping competition in my life? I believe that competition is neither positive nor negative; we choose that perception. I seek to use knowledge I gain from competition to make better and more informed decisions in my life. I compete in aikido to test my knowledge and my skills and improve my aikido, I compete in life to test and improve my ability to protect myself and my family and give my family the best chance to live healthy, happy, and successful lives.

I don't have much to comment about the first part of your post, but I have some questions about the above section.

And how do you incorporate competition into aikido? You say you compete in aikido, but from checking out the dojo you have listed in you profile I see that it is and Aikikai (ASU) dojo. I guess I had been expecting a Shodokan dojo or the like. What does it mean for you to compete in aikido?

I think one can "test" one's aikido without competing or completely letting go of the type of interaction aikido is about. That sense of creating a connection with the other. I personnally am a fan of increasing the focus and intensity of attacks, doing more jiyu waza and working with less cooperative and less predictable ukes. But I try to stay away from turning it into a competition, where, by definition, there is something to win and something to lose. Not because this will eliminate competition from my existence, but because I feel it will help me train myself in such a way as to make me more at peace with everyone and everything around me.

ikkitosennomusha
06-24-2009, 01:44 AM
I agree, you can't change Darwin's theory in evolution. One of my degrees is a masters in biology and I can't believe I worded it that way so, let me rephrase my point. You CAN change how Darwin's theory is observed and whether the theory is a socially implemented ideal in your lifestyle.

Remember, martial ways without realizing the mind is nothing but beastly behavior. Therefore the strong will survive. Realizing the mind will allow decision making with compassion regarded, therefore all humans can benefit through sensible solutions.....if possible :)

gdandscompserv
06-24-2009, 02:06 AM
Competition requires a referee. Without a referee things usually get out of hand.

dps
06-24-2009, 07:20 AM
What about competition as a way of being accepted socially? In Kevin's example,

I have found many a student walk in the door of our BJJ school and be VERY aggressive trying to use both physical and emotional strength, power, and determination and avoid the listening to the situation, feeling it, and tempering it appropriately.

The new aggressive student wanting to be a part of the group sees the outer form of BJJ tries to match or exceed that through competing hoping for acceptance as part of the group.

David

JO
06-24-2009, 07:58 AM
IOne of my degrees is a masters in biology and I can't believe I worded it that way so, let me rephrase my point. You CAN change how Darwin's theory is observed and whether the theory is a socially implemented ideal in your lifestyle.


That's two of us. I also have an M.Sc. in biology. My point, or one of them anyway, is that social Darwinists have a simplistic, superficial and flawed understanding not only of modern evolutionary biology, but also of Darwin's original theory. They really shouldn't be associated with his name in my opinion.

Ron Tisdale
06-24-2009, 08:00 AM
Ron, the discussion has grown, in every meaning of the word, so you may have missed that the illustration of Darwin as half-ape was what I used for my column above. It's from his days. There were many such caricatures published in the newspapers to mock his theory.
The press was just as cruel back then as it is now.

As for the long discussion, I read it with delight and can only say: I agree with you all :)
I have the impression that we are discussing the two sides of the same coin. I might be wrong.

Yes, I caught that, which is why I linked to it again. One of my sad attempts at humor. You may not have seen the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"...in one scene the KKK grand dragon is giving a speach and refers to Darwinism as "people who say we are descended from monkeys"...and then "That's not my culture and herritage...".

I guess if you have to explain it...:D

As to competition in aikido, well...I've seen some very competitive aikido (and played one myself at times) in supposedly non-competitive dojo. Sometimes I think we are just fooling ourselves. I don't think competition is all bad, and I don't think non-competition is all good. The middle road usually seems more comfortable to me.

Best,
Ron

jonreading
06-24-2009, 12:12 PM
I don't have much to comment about the first part of your post, but I have some questions about the above section.

And how do you incorporate competition into aikido? You say you compete in aikido, but from checking out the dojo you have listed in you profile I see that it is and Aikikai (ASU) dojo. I guess I had been expecting a Shodokan dojo or the like. What does it mean for you to compete in aikido?

I think one can "test" one's aikido without competing or completely letting go of the type of interaction aikido is about. That sense of creating a connection with the other. I personnally am a fan of increasing the focus and intensity of attacks, doing more jiyu waza and working with less cooperative and less predictable ukes. But I try to stay away from turning it into a competition, where, by definition, there is something to win and something to lose. Not because this will eliminate competition from my existence, but because I feel it will help me train myself in such a way as to make me more at peace with everyone and everything around me.

At Emory, we compete as a means of evaluating our ability to execute a technique, or priniciple, or whatever. In a more true definition, we are checking ourselves for competency executing a technique, or priniciple, or whatever. We may play judo, we may set up a sparring scenario or we may simply allow nage a number of techniques to apply against uke without uke's prior knowledge. All of these situations provide some means of critically evaluating technical skill executing a technique. I am convinced good aikido works in these scenarios, so if our aikido breaks down...keep training I suppose.
I love that kind of training because I get to see which students excel at striking, or grappling, or being obstenant, or being aggressive, or whatever - I learn something just watching...

Competition has a winner and loser because we choose to recognize those classes. Nobody ever got an award for 42nd place in anything, but it is a class distinction just as first, second, or third place. Competency is a descriptive quality which draws upon recognizing one's ability to [at minimum] adequately perform a qualitative function. I strive to achieve competency in everything I do; if I excel at something, I may choose to compete against others to evaluate my level of competency.

Who would ever want to be uke if we distinguished winners and losers in aikido? :)

salim
06-24-2009, 01:10 PM
At Emory, we compete as a means of evaluating our ability to execute a technique, or priniciple, or whatever. In a more true definition, we are checking ourselves for competency executing a technique, or priniciple, or whatever. We may play judo, we may set up a sparring scenario or we may simply allow nage a number of techniques to apply against uke without uke's prior knowledge. All of these situations provide some means of critically evaluating technical skill executing a technique. I am convinced good aikido works in these scenarios, so if our aikido breaks down...keep training I suppose.
I love that kind of training because I get to see which students excel at striking, or grappling, or being obstenant, or being aggressive, or whatever - I learn something just watching...

Competition has a winner and loser because we choose to recognize those classes. Nobody ever got an award for 42nd place in anything, but it is a class distinction just as first, second, or third place. Competency is a descriptive quality which draws upon recognizing one's ability to [at minimum] adequately perform a qualitative function. I strive to achieve competency in everything I do; if I excel at something, I may choose to compete against others to evaluate my level of competency.

Who would ever want to be uke if we distinguished winners and losers in aikido? :)

Jon,

You and Kevin are making too much sense for some people on this thread. The truth hurts and poor excuses to not have to feel a little discomfort is being overshadow with poor excuses. Apparently some are not into competency. That's what makes the difference between truth and falsehood. I agree with your statements, thanks for sharing.

Ron Tisdale
06-24-2009, 01:10 PM
Who would ever want to be uke if we distinguished winners and losers in aikido?

Me! I love the air time...
Best,
Ron (frequent flyer miles so rock!)

Erick Mead
06-24-2009, 03:03 PM
You may not have seen the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"...in one scene the KKK grand dragon is giving a speach and refers to Darwinism as "people who say we are descended from monkeys"...and then "That's not my culture and herritage...".

I guess if you have to explain it...:D

What's to explain ? 'Body's got-tuh-have som'at-dair deeeep-fryed Eye-Key-Dough Hoo--eee! :p

Everett: What'd the devil give you for your soul, Tommy?

Tommy : Well, he taught me to play this here guitar real good.

Delmar : Oh son, for that you sold your everlasting soul?

Tommy: Well, I wasn't usin' it.

JO
06-24-2009, 03:58 PM
Competition has a winner and loser because we choose to recognize those classes. Nobody ever got an award for 42nd place in anything, but it is a class distinction just as first, second, or third place.

Actually, having a winner and a loser is the definition of a competitve interaction. Without those "classes", it is not a competition. By definition for it to be a competiton, there has to be something you are competing for, food, a mate, a job, a trophy, bragging rights, whatever.

If I am doing some jiyu waza training and I ask my partner to attack strongly and try to counter my techniques, that doesn't mean I am competing with him. If I am sucessful at keeping him off or controlling him, I haven't won anything and he hasn't lost anything. Competition might make it possible to formalize and structure these interactions in some good ways, but it would also change the nature of the interaction, and in my opinion, the nature of that art itself.

BTW. This is not a value judgement of you or your dojo. The training you describe honestly sounds like a lot of fun.

Erick Mead
06-24-2009, 04:38 PM
Actually, having a winner and a loser is the definition of a competitve interaction. Without those "classes", it is not a competition. By definition for it to be a competiton, there has to be something you are competing for, food, a mate, a job, a trophy, bragging rights, whatever.

If I am doing some jiyu waza training and I ask my partner to attack strongly and try to counter my techniques, that doesn't mean I am competing with him. If I am sucessful at keeping him off or controlling him, I haven't won anything and he hasn't lost anything. Competition might make it possible to formalize and structure these interactions in some good ways, but it would also change the nature of the interaction, and in my opinion, the nature of that art itself. Dualisms are dicey. Like the goban or the chessboard -- those are games with two sides in opposition, but not in the sense of competition, exactly -- unless for other stakes, as you suggest. Chess and Go are like war -- one does not really win -- one survives, locally and globally. He who survives with the most, most often, and the longest, gets what's left when we are done.

The play is the thing that occupies our interest, not the result itself, for then the game is over, and if we wanted the game over, why did we decide to play? Delaying a result is part of the game -- mainly for learning how to know at any given moment on which side of the cusp of death or survival you are while the game is still on -- that is always the real lesson in games such as these -- Aikido included.

JO
06-24-2009, 08:41 PM
My earlier definition of competition is actually a little narrow. Competition is the interaction where two or more entities are vying for a limited resource.

I guess you don't necessarily have a winner or loser in the sense that if there are sufficient resources they can be split more or less evenly in a "draw". Though I can't think of any competitive martial arts/sportfighting systems that allow for ties.

L. Camejo
06-24-2009, 11:13 PM
Interesting discussion.

Imho competition is a mirror - it reflects certain truths about those involved in it.

By its very nature one is placed under varying levels of pressure that requires one to perform at levels that one may never achieve if not for the effects of said pressure.

The thing is that pressure can have different effects depending on characters of the persons involved - some become selfish, others become selfless, many are somewhere in between. There are those who may be willing to cheat or injure his opponent to ensure victory, another may use the opportunity to develop a level of skill where the destructive approach is not necessary.

To me the self-development aspect of Aikido is all about improving the quality of the entire reflection in the mirror (i.e. the total self). It is up to me to decide whether I become selfish or self-less under pressure; or whether I destroy or create when challenged out of my comfort zone.

To some, breaking the mirror may serve their purpose equally well as the actual image is no longer seen and they can then create whatever reflection they want in their own mind. This becomes their personal truth, but it is not an objective truth and may become undone when met with certain challenges. The result is insularity.

I like Kevin's earlier post regarding accountability and authenticity. I think it is very apt in this context.

Just my 2 cents.
LC

Ron Tisdale
06-26-2009, 07:47 AM
Though I can't think of any competitive martial arts/sportfighting systems that allow for ties.

Boxing: Known as a draw
UFC: Known as a draw
Kickboxing: Known as a draw

I'm trying to remember back to my wrestling days if they had draws in collegiate wresling. I don't think so, but hey, that was a long time ago. I'd have to check if olympic freestyle and grecco roman allow for draws.

Best,
Ron

JO
06-26-2009, 09:34 AM
Boxing: Known as a draw
UFC: Known as a draw
Kickboxing: Known as a draw

I'm trying to remember back to my wrestling days if they had draws in collegiate wresling. I don't think so, but hey, that was a long time ago. I'd have to check if olympic freestyle and grecco roman allow for draws.

Best,
Ron

Just goes to show how little I know. It always seems to me the judges usually find some reason to decide on a winner. (I'm guessing you don't tend to get draws decided by KO, TKO or submission though I suppose a a mutual knockout is technically possible).

JimCooper
07-01-2009, 07:33 AM
There seems to be an obsession with the idea of "not competing" in aikido circles, that I think goes beyond what Ueshiba had in mind.

Competition is not an evil thing. I was brought up in a culture where it was (and is) considered character building to play competitive sport. I would argue that team sports offer opportunities for aspects of character improvement that are totally absent in martial arts practice.

It is true that weaknesses in some people's characters will be exposed - bullying or cheating for example - but equally it can test how you react under pressure and whether you have a bit of guts and determination.

It is also true that some professional sports people do not readily display those aspects of behaviour that we would perhaps like. But I have worked with several that have been some of the most positive people I've ever met, and that do exemplify the best that competition can bring out in a person.

Obsession over the word is counterproductive, IMO. Get out there and test yourself.

Peter Goldsbury
07-01-2009, 07:45 AM
There seems to be an obsession with the idea of "not competing" in aikido circles, that I think goes beyond what Ueshiba had in mind.

Hello Mr Cooper,

So what do you think Morihei Ueshiba had in mind?

I have read all the texts in Japanese (and I actually believe that Ueshiba's view was misguided), but I am curious to hear what your general impression is of Morihei Ueshiba's view on competition in aikido.

Best wishes,

PAG

JimCooper
07-02-2009, 07:24 AM
So what do you think Morihei Ueshiba had in mind?


Hard to be sure, because he was a pretty weird bloke :-)

But I don't think he meant that techniques should not be tested. A lot of aikidoka obsess over this "non-competition" stuff (aka "not fighting", which was another thread a while back), with the result that uke always cooperates, and they end up doing "happy dance" aikido.

If that makes the people doing it happy, then OK, but it is no longer a martial art, IMO. Going the other way, I also believe that turning a MA into a competitive sport (eg judo, karate, TKD) diminishes the art (and Ueshiba may have thought that too).

The only stuff of Ueshiba's I've read (always in translation, as what little Japanese I once had is long gone) that seems different from what other MA masters of the same period (Kano, Funakoshi, etc) had to say is this "budo is love" business.

I'm not quite sure how to take that, myself (although I suspect it would help to be a highly skilled, weird little Japanese bloke <g>).

I don't think it's the same thing as "not competing", though. All the old guys say the same stuff about not meeting force with force[1], hitting something hard with something soft[2], mushin/not focussing on winning, etc as well as character development. I think it's more likely Ueshiba meant (at least mostly) the same things.

[1] Karate people tend to forget this one :-)
[2] Aikido people tend to forget this works both ways. And also about the hitting part :-)

MM
07-02-2009, 07:57 AM
I have read all the texts in Japanese (and I actually believe that Ueshiba's view was misguided)

Best wishes,

PAG

Hello Peter,

English can be such a hard language to understand at times. If you wouldn't mind, would you please clarify it for me? From the bold part (my contribution), do you mean:

A) that you believe that Ueshiba's view was misguided in that you are referring directly to Ueshiba?

or

B) that you believe from reading the texts that others have a misguided sense of Ueshiba's views?

Maybe I'm just being dense, but I had a hard time deciding which you meant. Literally, I'd have to go with A. But, in an overall sense, you are talking about reading the texts, so B is possible.

Thank you,
Mark

MM
07-02-2009, 08:14 AM
Hard to be sure, because he was a pretty weird bloke :-)

But I don't think he meant that techniques should not be tested. A lot of aikidoka obsess over this "non-competition" stuff (aka "not fighting", which was another thread a while back), with the result that uke always cooperates, and they end up doing "happy dance" aikido.

If that makes the people doing it happy, then OK, but it is no longer a martial art, IMO. Going the other way, I also believe that turning a MA into a competitive sport (eg judo, karate, TKD) diminishes the art (and Ueshiba may have thought that too).

The only stuff of Ueshiba's I've read (always in translation, as what little Japanese I once had is long gone) that seems different from what other MA masters of the same period (Kano, Funakoshi, etc) had to say is this "budo is love" business.

I'm not quite sure how to take that, myself (although I suspect it would help to be a highly skilled, weird little Japanese bloke <g>).

I don't think it's the same thing as "not competing", though. All the old guys say the same stuff about not meeting force with force[1], hitting something hard with something soft[2], mushin/not focussing on winning, etc as well as character development. I think it's more likely Ueshiba meant (at least mostly) the same things.

[1] Karate people tend to forget this one :-)
[2] Aikido people tend to forget this works both ways. And also about the hitting part :-)

Well, from training in internal skills, which I call aiki, I find that once I start thinking about uke and the effect uke is trying to have upon me, I lose. In other words, once my mind starts defining me and my actions in relation to another person, I have competition and I lose. Let me define that a bit more. When I say "competition", I do not mean it in the very strict sense of the word as used in Judo Competition, UFC Competition, etc. I'm defining it in a very ego centric sense in that it is related to me only.

Once my mind lets go of uke and uke's actions upon me, I find that things work. (In the limited sense that I'm not very skilled at aiki yet.) In push tests, the more I am focused on uke or uke's push, the less I am stable. That internal competition is a type of thinking that disrupts aiki. There must be no competition within me. And when I am fully vested in what I'm doing with aiki (internal skills), then uke disappears and there is only one body. I liken it to Ueshiba when he talks about being the bridge between heaven and earth. If my intent is strong upwards, then I can be the heavens over uke. If my intent is strong downwards, then I can be the earth under uke. I become the bridge between both and since uke now becomes a part of me, he/she then becomes the person/spirit traveling the bridge.

The bonus to all that is that I'm also not meeting force with force. I'm using aiki to split, redirect, store, ground, etc all the incoming force. On the opposite side, once I start thinking of uke and what uke is doing, I start to meet force with force.

Now, tactically, there is also a version of no competition that I think is being used. There is a thread at another board that someone posted some very useful information about this idea.


The idea is that you never receive on a straight angle.
You are receiving along points on the arc. No arc? Make one. Therefore there is always a tangential meeting where you can receive and feed along any point on that arc. You can even make it appear to be linear-eve though it isn't.

and


If you think of a straight line hitting an arc at any point it may help. The contact point becomes the pivot point or nuetral point. lets say it's the middle of the forearm. If the elbow moves negatively, then the wrist or hand moves positively proscribing the arc around the person.

In essence, you're creating no competition by using circles. You don't meet force with force. Sound familiar? In one way, it's very good tactical jujutsu skills when you move the body around physically. Add in aiki and you suddenly have a very strong, powerful skill set like Ueshiba had. All the while espousing no competition, never meet force on force, etc.

Erick Mead
07-02-2009, 08:55 AM
Hard to be sure, because he was a pretty weird bloke :-)

But I don't think he meant that techniques should not be tested. A lot of aikidoka obsess over this "non-competition" stuff (aka "not fighting", which was another thread a while back), with the result that uke always cooperates, and they end up doing "happy dance" aikido. FWIW, this problem (quite real) and the problem of competing are from one and the same cause -- mistaking effects for causes. In the case of happy dance, because good aiki seems nearly effortless, there is an innate desire to ape the effects -- in olden days this was called "sympathetic magic." In competition, because the effect of good aiki is devastating to a committed, powerful attack, similarly, the one trying to compete is trying to muster the same devastating effect in displayed power -- and so is also committing the same mistake.

I liken aiki to a scene in a play. The characters are set and the scene is staged and all the props are in their places and as the the two combatants begin to engage, one of them turns and breaks the plane of the action and begins a conversation with the audience -- "breaking the fourth wall." Action becomes "out of plane." It is not so much that the other character's role has changed, or that the scenery is other than what it was, but all that is now background to a completely different interaction, in which what was seemingly primary and real becomes background and almost irrelevant.

I don't think it's the same thing as "not competing", though. All the old guys say the same stuff about not meeting force with force[1], hitting something hard with something soft[2], mushin/not focussing on winning, etc as well as character development. I think it's more likely Ueshiba meant (at least mostly) the same things.

[1] Karate people tend to forget this one :-)
[2] Aikido people tend to forget this works both ways. And also about the hitting part :-)

In physical terms, it is taking two counter-leverages that are pinning one another in a plane and releasing the developed shear between them -- out of plane. It is not making the combined, competing structures "do work" against one another -- it is allowing the conjoined structure to fail from that shear at critical junctures where it is not supported (on his side of the connection) and then riding the shape of the failure of all the successive supports. Like the controlled demolition of a building -- good aiki is not competing to throw the building down, but to progressively shear off its facility of standing up -- it is assuming the command of some of the opponent's support -- statically or dynamically, and then collapsing it -- but cleverly.

I agree about strikes. Good strikes in Aikido have that sort of progressive collapsing-building character about them. Like getting hit by a sheet of lead chain mail, it is hard to isolate and shrug off, because it progressively envelops everything.

Peter Goldsbury
07-02-2009, 09:02 AM
To Jim Cooper, Mark Murray,

The more I read Morihei Ueshiba, the more I am coming to believe that the English translations of his discourses fall short of transmitting what he actually stated--and also what he meant--to those who cannot read him in Japanese. Hence my question to Mr Cooper.

In his discourses, Ueshiba uses two Japanese terms and both are usually translated in English as 'competition'. However, the terms are quite different in meaning and the translations do not make this clear. The terms are 競争 (kyoso) and 試合 (shiai).

Shiai is competition in the sense of a tournament, such as those held at the Olympics, with referees & judges, who have flags or hold up score cards. Ueshiba was adamant that this sort of thing was totally incompatible with aikido as he understood the art.

Kyoso is something far less structured and is best translated as rivalry. It is what Toyota, Nissan and Honda do to increase their market share. It is the state of mind that lies behind rivalry between sportsmen. It can be quite nasty, but it can also be quite friendly and constructive.

Since Ueshiba always stated that aikido was not about winning and losing, his obvious approval of the desire to excel, always to be better than the next man, is usually left unexamined. However, although he never competed in tournaments (which he equated with western sports and thus with a complete lack of understanding of Japanese budo culture), Ueshiba's entire life embodied the importance of kyoso. If the biographies are to be believed, he practised kyoso all his life. He took on all comers and he beat them.


To Mark Murray,

Why do I state that Ueshiba himself was misguided (which is what I actually mean)? I think his view of western sports was far too negative. In the Takemusu Aiki discourses, there is evidence of a very narrow view of western sports, which he believed was dominated by excessive individualism, and a desire to win that would certainly diminish the human personality.

Do not forget that Ueshiba saw himself standing on the Floating Bridge of Heaven as a messenger from the divine world. As such, his mission was to achieve harmony among the three worlds (divine, human, and the world in between) via AIKI, understood as aikido.

Ueshiba constantly talks of aikido as developing the upper part of the soul (which would go to heaven after death) and not the lower part (which would go to the lower world). He complained that the Japanese military trained the martial arts in the wrong way (which favored the lower part of the soul). Western sports were way below even this way.

So I believe that his view of western sports was completely wrong. Misguided was the term I used because I suspect that Ueshiba lacked the information needed to make a balanced judgment. But he also had a clear view of the differences between western sports, as he understood this, and Japanese budo (even though the latter involved kyoso).

Best wishes,

PAG

dps
07-02-2009, 09:47 AM
Kyoso is something far less structured and is best translated as rivalry. It is what Toyota, Nissan and Honda do to increase their market share. It is the state of mind that lies behind rivalry between sportsmen. It can be quite nasty, but it can also be quite friendly and constructive.

Since Ueshiba always stated that aikido was not about winning and losing, his obvious approval of the desire to excel, always to be better than the next man, is usually left unexamined. However, although he never competed in tournaments (which he equated with western sports and thus with a complete lack of understanding of Japanese budo culture), Ueshiba's entire life embodied the importance of kyoso. If the biographies are to be believed, he practised kyoso all his life. He took on all comers and he beat them.

YES !!! :D
Excellently stated.

David

MM
07-02-2009, 09:51 AM
To Jim Cooper, Mark Murray,

The more I read Morihei Ueshiba, the more I am coming to believe that the English translations of his discourses fall short of transmitting what he actually stated--and also what he meant--to those who cannot read him in Japanese. Hence my question to Mr Cooper.

In his discourses, Ueshiba uses two Japanese terms and both are usually translated in English as 'competition'. However, the terms are quite different in meaning and the translations do not make this clear. The terms are 競争 (kyoso) and 試合 (shiai).

Shiai is competition in the sense of a tournament, such as those held at the Olympics, with referees & judges, who have flags or hold up score cards. Ueshiba was adamant that this sort of thing was totally incompatible with aikido as he understood the art.

Kyoso is something far less structured and is best translated as rivalry. It is what Toyota, Nissan and Honda do to increase their market share. It is the state of mind that lies behind rivalry between sportsmen. It can be quite nasty, but it can also be quite friendly and constructive.

Since Ueshiba always stated that aikido was not about winning and losing, his obvious approval of the desire to excel, always to be better than the next man, is usually left unexamined. However, although he never competed in tournaments (which he equated with western sports and thus with a complete lack of understanding of Japanese budo culture), Ueshiba's entire life embodied the importance of kyoso. If the biographies are to be believed, he practised kyoso all his life. He took on all comers and he beat them.

To Mark Murray,

Why do I state that Ueshiba himself was misguided (which is what I actually mean)? I think his view of western sports was far too negative. In the Takemusu Aiki discourses, there is evidence of a very narrow view of western sports, which he believed was dominated by excessive individualism, and a desire to win that would certainly diminish the human personality.

Do not forget that Ueshiba saw himself standing on the Floating Bridge of Heaven as a messenger from the divine world. As such, his mission was to achieve harmony among the three worlds (divine, human, and the world in between) via AIKI, understood as aikido.

Ueshiba constantly talks of aikido as developing the upper part of the soul (which would go to heaven after death) and not the lower part (which would go to the lower world). He complained that the Japanese military trained the martial arts in the wrong way (which favored the lower part of the soul). Western sports were way below even this way.

So I believe that his view of western sports was completely wrong. Misguided was the term I used because I suspect that Ueshiba lacked the information needed to make a balanced judgment. But he also had a clear view of the differences between western sports, as he understood this, and Japanese budo (even though the latter involved kyoso).

Best wishes,

PAG

Thank you for posting more of your thoughts and clearing up my confusion. But, please, for my sanity, call me Mark. When I see my full name up there, I find it weird. Almost as weird as being called Mr. Murray. :) While the Internet is certainly no substitute for a live environment, it still seems weird that after a certain point to still be called by my whole name or by Mister. I'm sure that in person, I would use formalities since we really don't know each other, however, here on the Internet, it creates a different atmosphere of sorts. I hope by using Peter, I'm not going too far.

As to kyoso, I find it apt. It is certainly something I have been doing with my peers. I find myself wanting to be better than them as I train, but not in a nasty or hostile way.

I've been part of the U.S. Military in two separate branches, Army Guard and active Air Force. I think that I would agree with Ueshiba in that the U.S. military doesn't train in a martial arts manner. Training is on killing the other person and staying alive, but in a more regimented, follow superior's orders kind of manner. I would classify that kind of training as below martial arts.

As to sports venues. Yeah, I guess I agree with Ueshiba. It's below the military training. I don't see Olympic Judo or UFC as being near military training in regards to martial arts. At least in the U.S. military, you learn group tactics, military strategy, tactical use of current weapons, some unarmed combat, demolitions, etc. Whereas, sport competition is extremely limited and strictly regulated. In the U.S. military, you learn to live and yes, die, for your country. It's an ideal and a way of life. What does western sport have that compares? Gold medals for your country?

I don't know exactly what Ueshiba's views were since I have to rely too much upon previously translated material. But, I do know that I am very, very grateful to your insights and posts. They mesh a whole lot more with what I'm learning and understanding about aiki/internal skills.

Thank you,
Mark

JimCooper
07-03-2009, 10:41 AM
Sound familiar?

Yep. Like I said, AFAICT all (the older, anyway) martial arts say almost identical things about "competition/fighting" in that sense (as do a number of sports, because it's just good application of physics).

JimCooper
07-03-2009, 10:54 AM
Shiai is competition in the sense of a tournament

I'm familiar with that term, but not kyoso, so thanks for the explanation. The shiai form of competition can diminish a martial art, IMO, as it removes the aspects that differentiate it from a sport.

However, I come from a culture where competitive sport has always been seen as character building (although some professional athletes may not demonstrate that <vbg>). And I would argue that team sports provide opportunities in that regard that are missing from the martial arts.

Competitiveness can get out of hand though, and Ueshiba wasn't the only MA master of his generation to have reservations about it. Towards the end of his life, Funakoshi (introduced karate to the rest of Japan from Okinawa) was concerned he had done the wrong thing in introducing competition into karate, too.

Personally, I don't really have an issue with competitive "martial arts", although I'm not interested in them myself. But I don't think they should really be called "martial arts" anymore (martial sports, maybe).

JimCooper
07-03-2009, 11:03 AM
What does western sport have that compares? Gold medals for your country?

I think it's a mistake to evaluate sport by only looking at the very highest level. Almost nobody competes there, and in professional sports, I'm not sure that's always where you would find the best role models either :-)

Also, I think you have touched on 3 different things - military training, martial arts training, and sport. (The MAs that we practice today are no longer military, in general - IMO - although they may have that in their heritage somewhere.)

I believe that classing these pursuits as "higher" and "lower" is misleading.

I don't believe any of them necessarily make you a better (or worse) person, although they all have that potential.

Erick Mead
07-03-2009, 11:45 AM
I think it's a mistake to evaluate sport by only looking at the very highest level. Almost nobody competes there, and in professional sports, I'm not sure that's always where you would find the best role models either :-)

Also, I think you have touched on 3 different things - military training, martial arts training, and sport. (The MAs that we practice today are no longer military, in general - IMO - although they may have that in their heritage somewhere.)

I believe that classing these pursuits as "higher" and "lower" is misleading.

I don't believe any of them necessarily make you a better (or worse) person, although they all have that potential.Here' (http://www.forbes.com/2009/06/21/cricket-pakistan-shahid-afridi-twenty20-opinions-columnists-taliban.html)s a thought on that point -- worth thinking about in terms of social value beyond mere pleasure, but also I think, in agreement with Mark, those are purposes distinct from the means or purposes of martial arts.

Stefan Stenudd
07-08-2009, 04:13 AM
The difference between kyoso and shiai is subtle in my eyes, and I guess that what I discussed in my column is how to avoid both.

Whether competition is to win a contest or sell more cars, it has its narrow limitations. In the martial arts we know that there is none as challenging to defeat as oneself. In business, setting your standards just to better the competition is making yourself dependent on it.
Competing with others to further one's own professional or social career may bring some rewards, but at a tremendous cost to one's character.

I think it's about time we learn how to win by joining instead of competing. The win-win thing.
Actually, I think that's one of the major attractions in aikido - even to those who claim to do it for self defense or to learn the ultimate martial art. Whatever we say, we love aikido because it allows for everyone to be a winner.

MM
07-08-2009, 08:43 AM
I think it's a mistake to evaluate sport by only looking at the very highest level. Almost nobody competes there, and in professional sports, I'm not sure that's always where you would find the best role models either :-)

Also, I think you have touched on 3 different things - military training, martial arts training, and sport. (The MAs that we practice today are no longer military, in general - IMO - although they may have that in their heritage somewhere.)

I believe that classing these pursuits as "higher" and "lower" is misleading.

I don't believe any of them necessarily make you a better (or worse) person, although they all have that potential.

Actually, I would classify them as higher to lower. :)

Let's take the middle one, military. The kind of training you can receive is hand-to-hand or close quarters combatives. You can get training in rifles and pistols and their tactical usages. You can get training on military tactics and strategies. Training with machine guns, rocket launchers, etc, etc, etc. Sound familiar? If not, then just replace the rifle with the sword. Replace all the current weapons with older weapons, like spear, naginata, bow, etc. Basically, it's a newer version of Japanese koryu.

The differences, however, are greater. In the military, you aren't training for the betterment of yourself, but rather for the overall organization. Your life for the U.S. In the martial arts, quite a bit of your training is about *you*. The military only cares about you in regards to you being a part of a unit, part of a command, and part of a force to use.

In terms of the betterment of *you*, the military falls far short of the martial arts.

Now, let's jump to the lowest on the list: sports. There is an overinflated sense of self that is not only trained, but bolstered. From the Olympics down to little league tee-ball. It's about winning and losing. Sportsmanship means either he has a strong striving spirit to win or that he is a gracious loser. No one wants to be the person who drops the ball and lets the other team win. That person's emotional state is not very good.

Course, I lump the McDojo Karate/Taekwondo school that has its window full of trophies in the same category as sports. But, any martial art worth its name not only teaches you to be "strong" (budo strong, not physically strong), but also has the same notions that Ueshiba had. Ueshiba embodied these ideals of strength, harmony, and self-betterment. From the few bits and pieces I've read, Kodo had it, too. I think Chuck Norris is quoted about how the ideal is to be so good that you don't *have* to fight. Might have been someone else, though.

No matter what you're doing, you train to have that base of "power" or being "strong" (again, these are from a budo definition) so that you have the options and opportunities of choosing harmony. That's what builds the better *you*.

You won't find that in the military or sports. In fact, it is directly opposed to sports ideals. You might have a chance of finding it in the military, but orders from superiors will over-rule it.

Still, after all that, none of it means that you can't have a form of "competition" in the martial arts. As Peter Goldsbury noted, Ueshiba took on challengers. There was a winner and a loser in them. Tenryu could not get the better of him. IMO, it was the aiki that had changed Ueshiba so that he didn't view these people as competitors. As Ueshiba said, "I am aiki!". Not the "win-win" view of modern day defined "aiki" or the harmony of joining view of modern day "aiki", but the complete body skill aiki that he learned from Takeda.

IMO, the aiki skills changed Ueshiba so that he did not need any form of competition because he was at a place of being "strong". Competition hindered his martial progression because it focused too much on winning and by doing so, the focus on aiki skills was diminished. Diminishing aiki skills equates to not being "strong" which then degrades the ego when coming into contact with other people (in this case, this means all the challengers). Degraded ego means aiki skills not functioning well because the mind isn't "pure". Vicious cycle that feeds upon itself. Quit focusing on competition and start focusing on building aiki skills and all that goes away.

One other factor brought to my attention is that building aiki skills in oneself, possibly causes a change in one's demeanor. The better you get at aiki skills, the more "strong" you get, the less you view the world in a fearful manner.

Competition? In certain defining terms, yeah. In a sports-like venue, no.

jonreading
07-08-2009, 11:28 AM
Actually, having a winner and a loser is the definition of a competitve interaction. Without those "classes", it is not a competition. By definition for it to be a competiton, there has to be something you are competing for, food, a mate, a job, a trophy, bragging rights, whatever.

If I am doing some jiyu waza training and I ask my partner to attack strongly and try to counter my techniques, that doesn't mean I am competing with him. If I am sucessful at keeping him off or controlling him, I haven't won anything and he hasn't lost anything. Competition might make it possible to formalize and structure these interactions in some good ways, but it would also change the nature of the interaction, and in my opinion, the nature of that art itself.

BTW. This is not a value judgement of you or your dojo. The training you describe honestly sounds like a lot of fun.

Then according to the the definition above, would "haves" and "have nots" be more appropriate competitive classifications? Erick has a good point - I think we want to differentiate dualism from competition. Competency is a singular evaulation of a qualitative ability. Competition is a hierarchy of competency.

For example: In high school, I participated in a spelling B. Did I win against the word if I spelled it correctly? Of course not, spelling the word qualified my spelling skill as competent; the number of words that I spelled correctly ranked my competency against other competent spellers in a hierarchy.

In aikido, I may engage in jiyuwaza. If I cannot control my partner, I nave not demonstrated comptency. If I can successfully control my partner I demonstrate a minimum level of competency. If I can control and pin my partner I demonstrate an advanced level of compentency. If I can control multiple partners, I demonstrate a high competency level and so on.

As a side note: Competition already exists in aikido - we call it the belt system. The ranking system was designed to allow strangers to evaluate the [relative] expected skill level of their partner. I don't remember fighting anyone for my belts, but I sure remember tests that pushed me to the limit of my skill. The belt I was given placed me within a hierarchy of aikido people. Unfortunately, poor instruction, microtesting environments, nepotism, and other factors have degraded the reliability of the skill level of the individual as represented by the belt.

TANGENT
I remember a seminar where I overheard two black belts training. Technique got physical and as nage was preparing to throw uke koshinage, uke said, "I don't take breakfalls." Nage said, "Are you injured? would you prefer ukemi?" uke said, "I don't like to fall." After a second of bewilderment nage looked at uke and said, "I understand. Thank you." and chose another partner. After class I approached the black belt (nage) and asked him what was the deal. He said (tongue and cheek), "Anyone would is so good they don't have to fall if they don't wanna is way outta my league so I chose a different partner." Brilliant. The truth of the situation was that the other black belt was senior and did not want to be thrown because he took poor ukemi.

aikilouis
07-08-2009, 03:09 PM
The difference between kyoso and shiai is subtle in my eyes, and I guess that what I discussed in my column is how to avoid both.
As described by Prof. Goldsbury, the difference is very clear.
Shiai gives a frame to the opposition between contestants, for the benefit of one and the defeat of the other. Success is relative to the other's strength, it isn't measured by how well you performed in the absolute. There is also another fundamental aspect : modern sports always include an element of publicity. A sporting event is a show with spectators. Without them it becomes meaningless in the strict sense of shiai. This is why, the way I interpret O Sensei's thought as explained by Prof. Goldsbury, it detracts people from the more essential goal of striving for excellence, improving oneself, pushing one's personal limits (not just according to the rules), and achieving an improved connection with the world.

Whether competition is to win a contest or sell more cars, it has its narrow limitations. In the martial arts we know that there is none as challenging to defeat as oneself. In business, setting your standards just to better the competition is making yourself dependent on it.
The way I see it, kyoso is a trick of the mind. One uses consciously the human impulse to measure up with others, keeping in mind that it is only a way to push oneself further towards excellence. If you don't like the car industry analogy, imagine musicians from the same era, reaching summits of their art, motivated by the challenge of the other's excellence.

Competing with others to further one's own professional or social career may bring some rewards, but at a tremendous cost to one's character.
Well, not everyone can afford to live by the principles of the high philosophers.

I think it's about time we learn how to win by joining instead of competing. The win-win thing.
Please allow me to recommend the book Co-opetition (by A.M. Brandenburger and B.J. Nalebuff), where the authors exploit the discoveries of game theory to explain how the need for competition and cooperation between agents can be articulated in business. In one sentence : cooperation to create a bigger business pie, competition to divide it up.

Actually, I think that's one of the major attractions in aikido - even to those who claim to do it for self defense or to learn the ultimate martial art. Whatever we say, we love aikido because it allows for everyone to be a winner.
I do aikido out of an insatiable curiosity, being a winner doesn't have anything to do with it.

Erick Mead
07-08-2009, 10:04 PM
Then according to the the definition above, would "haves" and "have nots" be more appropriate competitive classifications? Erick has a good point - I think we want to differentiate dualism from competition. Competency is a singular evaulation of a qualitative ability. Competition is a hierarchy of competency. ... TANGENT
... uke said, "I don't like to fall." ... "Anyone would is so good they don't have to fall if they don't wanna is way outta my league so I chose a different partner." Brilliant. The truth of the situation was that the other black belt was senior and did not want to be thrown because he took poor ukemi. O Sensei loved poetic forms of truth, so I will point out this wonderful line in the theme song to Casino Royale by Chris Cornell, "You Know My Name" :

"If you think you've won
You never saw me change
The game that we have been playing ... "

That incident was a marvel of aiki and faux-aiki in action -- the game to begin was a simple training game with a throw as the programmed "win" and the fall as the "loss." The senior thought he changed to the status game to "win" by avoiding the "loss" of the fall (which is a "loss" on both games, in plain training (where there is no shame), and in the status game (where the fall is a loss of status), because his ukemi is poor, which is because of his inordinate concern on "winning" a programmed training game where the fall is an ordinary and expected element. So far, faux-aikido, and very bad training, and very shameful on many levels.

Junior guy -- good aiki, when the game changed and training could not happen, and the status game came into play, he did not "win" but instead forfeited the pointless status "win" to the senior, which of course, is no "win" at all , but a shameful "gift." He walked and neither lost the status game (which could not be won as structured), nor lost the training game as he got good training. No shame.

Underlines the proper measure of the victor in any martial engagement -- the guy walking away -- by whatever means, without shame.

L. Camejo
07-08-2009, 11:00 PM
I think I see a lot of people here placing a lot of human failings on "competition" as if it were a sentient being unto itself.

Imho the need for publicity, myopia in training to win an event, ego-gratification, furthering ones career at another's expense etc. are all Human characteristics associated with competition.

Competition itself is without these shortcomings. It merely defines a context where one or more people meet and test particular skills which are based on a ruleset. Interestingly enough, one of the major reasons that rules in competition exist is to mitigate the lengths some Humans may go to for the the sole purpose of winning.

If one competes for a job, client or sale and wins then it is up to that person to belittle his competitors and engage in creating publicity, gratifying his own ego etc. This is a quality of the person, not the competition for a job, client or sale.

The same goes for the person who wins an event and gets a gold medal. How he or she chooses to celebrate or not celebrate that victory is a personal thing. There are many who compete and simply leave with the knowledge gained through testing the self, not overly concerned with trinkets and prizes. These people are rare, but then what is of value usually is.

So imho one can easily blame "competition" for ones own egocentric needs and drives, and convince oneself that "it's not me, it's the game" for ones behaviour after winning or losing at something...

Or one can assume responsibility for ones actions, choices and behaviours inside and outside of a contest, as a winner or loser and strive to improve behaviour and self beyond the rules of a contest or the expectations of a crowd or the demands of a public.

Imho Budo is all about taking responsibility for oneself and ones actions - one can use competition as a tool towards higher development and control of egocentric actions associated with winning and losing, or one can use competition as a scapegoat for actions and behaviours that have and will always be products of the human condition.

Just a thought.

LC

JimCooper
07-09-2009, 08:18 AM
Actually, I would classify them as higher to lower. :)


Then we're always going to disagree on this.


In the military, you aren't training for the betterment of yourself


From what my brother tells me, it was an important element in his (non-US) Navy training.


Now, let's jump to the lowest on the list: sports.


It was taught to you badly then. My culture is not that of the US, so things may well have been different for me. There is nothing that MAs offer from the POV of character building that cannot potentially be found in sport as well, but team sport offers things that MA cannot.


I think Chuck Norris is quoted about how the ideal is to be so good that you don't *have* to fight. Might have been someone else, though.


Yes, it might have been quite a few people quite some time before him :-)


You won't find that in the military or sports. In fact, it is directly opposed to sports ideals.


Like I said, if that's the way you think, someone taught you the wrong way to play sport. If that's normal in the US, then that's great shame.

JimCooper
07-09-2009, 08:29 AM
Here's a thought on that point


Cricket is traditionally associated with much the same ideals that good MAs are associated with (in reality it's sometimes not that obvious). And that's how I was taught it.

BTW, that competition was in the very short (3 hour) version of the game that is somewhat controversial in that it doesn't allow the full range of subtleties inherent in the full (5 day) game.


but also I think, in agreement with Mark, those are purposes distinct from the means or purposes of martial arts.


There are reasons to do MAs apart from building character, but sport *should*, in principle, do it just as well, and do it better if you're talking about what you can gain from team sports.

Sadly, neither MAs or sports are always taught with that in mind :(

Ron Tisdale
07-09-2009, 08:56 AM
Ditto what Larry said.

Competing with others to further one's own professional or social career may bring some rewards, but at a tremendous cost to one's character.

Oh? Can you describe how so? This doesn't jive with my own personal experience, at least not in every case. Can you define the "tremendous cost"?

Best,
Ron

MM
07-09-2009, 09:40 AM
Then we're always going to disagree on this.


It'd be a weird world if no one ever disagreed with me. :)


From what my brother tells me, it was an important element in his (non-US) Navy training.


Perhaps, I didn't explain that enough. To some degree you are training for the "betterment" of yourself in the U.S. military. You do get better at a lot of things. However, that "betterment" in the end, isn't for just yourself. That "betterment" is used in the military by a chain of command. You go where you're ordered, you do what you're ordered, and if that goes against your personal inner teachings, too bad. Follow orders or get a court martial. It's really that simple.


It was taught to you badly then. My culture is not that of the US, so things may well have been different for me. There is nothing that MAs offer from the POV of character building that cannot potentially be found in sport as well, but team sport offers things that MA cannot.


Well, from the overall picture of sports to the detailed distinct reason of sports, it's different than martial arts. Overall picture of sports includes being a part of a team that competes in front of an audience. And that's not always a good thing:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Sports_riots

http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/10416

When is the last time that you saw an aikido training session break out in riots? A koryu embu break out in riots?

How about why you're actually playing that sport? What's the end goal? Isn't there always some trophy or award? There are always winners and losers. Someone always defeats someone else.

And how many sport fights have their been by team players? Way too many to count.

When was the last time you saw that kind of mentality in an aikido dojo? I really beat you with that kotegaeshi? Then uke gets up and starts fighting with nage for real? Even Tomiki competition was created with something else in mind besides win-lose.

The martial arts (at least the good ones) are there to teach you to be martially, budo strong so that you can live without fear, without doubt about effectiveness, without resorting to a crush the other person mentality, so that, like the saying goes, the highest quality is to choose not to fight.

There is no life and death in sport. There is no martially, budo strong to change/alter your mentality. Sure, you better yourself to a point and be a great sportsman, but then again, by the very definition of the word, you're still winning-losing in a non life threatening environment. There is no life-death in sport.

We can disagree on this, I'm fine with that. But, I find myself agreeing with Ueshiba. Martial Art, then Military, then Sport.


Yes, it might have been quite a few people quite some time before him :-)


:D Yeah, I was lazy and didn't want to look it up.


Like I said, if that's the way you think, someone taught you the wrong way to play sport. If that's normal in the US, then that's great shame.

I dunno. I see sports teams the world over with just one goal in mind, beating the other team or person. Never life-death, just a game with rules. When has one person or one team, in the history of sports, deliberately lost so that some higher ideal could be reached by the opposing person/team? That happens each and every practice in the martial arts. One person takes the "losing" side of practice, but in reality, it's never a "losing" side.

Sure, you can try to be above it all and be a great person, striving to do the best or be the best that you can. But, in the end, it is still in a limited venue with the mindset of winners and losers.

Ever hear or see a really good British Soccer player in a game, coming down to score a goal -- know that he can score because he is that good -- but decide to dial down his skill level so that the opposing team's goalie can learn to block better, thereby letting the opposing team win the game and the championship? Won't happen in sports. And if it ever does, it'll be so rare that it's statistically insignificant, or likely that bribes were involved.

Yet that very same mindset happens in good martial arts all the time.

Stefan Stenudd
07-09-2009, 10:50 AM
I do aikido out of an insatiable curiosity, being a winner doesn't have anything to do with it.
So you win knowledge.

Stefan Stenudd
07-09-2009, 10:56 AM
"Competing with others to further one's own professional or social career may bring some rewards, but at a tremendous cost to one's character."

Oh? Can you describe how so? This doesn't jive with my own personal experience, at least not in every case. Can you define the "tremendous cost"?
Certainly not in every case, but the dog-eat-dog world has its drawbacks. It is sad that in the professional world, people often advance by stepping on others.

Ron Tisdale
07-09-2009, 11:27 AM
Yes, but like Larry said, that is not competition...that's people.

When was the last time you saw that kind of mentality in an aikido dojo? I really beat you with that kotegaeshi? Then uke gets up and starts fighting with nage for real? Even Tomiki competition was created with something else in mind besides win-lose.

Actually, I do know of places/events where that has happened. It usually follows this format:

Nage tries to throw uke with kotegaishi nage and fails. Uke says "that won't work on me if you do it like that." Nage get's upset, tries again, but harder and still fails...and maybe tries to punch uke in the mouth. Uke prevents this, but both end up on the floor rolling around. Instructors come over and separate them.

This exact scenario HAS happened. There are people on this board who witnessed it. At an aikido seminar.

Best,
Ron

MM
07-09-2009, 12:43 PM
Yes, but like Larry said, that is not competition...that's people.

Actually, I do know of places/events where that has happened. It usually follows this format:

Nage tries to throw uke with kotegaishi nage and fails. Uke says "that won't work on me if you do it like that." Nage get's upset, tries again, but harder and still fails...and maybe tries to punch uke in the mouth. Uke prevents this, but both end up on the floor rolling around. Instructors come over and separate them.

This exact scenario HAS happened. There are people on this board who witnessed it. At an aikido seminar.

Best,
Ron

Hi Ron,

I believe you. However, it's a rare exception rather than common or even somewhat common. Out of all the dojos that are running (good ones, not McDojos), how often does that kind of incident happen? Yet, try googling either "sport riots" or "sport fights" and you'll find that it's somewhat common -- around the world. If a fight doesn't break out in a hockey game, it's not considered a good game. How many unsportsmanlike conduct flags in one football game? Fans rioting or throwing bottles onto the field. Etc, etc, etc.

The fact is that competition brings that out in people way, way more often than the martial arts do. That's the whole point. Sports are not even close to training the "spiritual" (I don't mean the new age kind of spiritual) component that a good martial art does. And the military has a structured training to it that rioting and fighting during games is rare.

And from what I can tell so far, I agree with Ueshiba.

Timothy WK
07-09-2009, 01:17 PM
When has one person or one team, in the history of sports, deliberately lost so that some higher ideal could be reached by the opposing person/team? That happens each and every practice in the martial arts. One person takes the "losing" side of practice, but in reality, it's never a "losing" side...

Ever hear or see a really good British Soccer player in a game, coming down to score a goal -- know that he can score because he is that good -- but decide to dial down his skill level so that the opposing team's goalie can learn to block better...

Yet that very same mindset happens in good martial arts all the time.
I don't completely disagree with you, but you're comparing apples and oranges here. Keiko is training, and a sports match is competition. Training vs competition has different purposes.

If you look at sports training, rather than competition, you will see similar behavior to Keiko. Athletes will tone down their plays so that the other person/team can practice and get better, and depending on how the specific sport works (like with something like wrestling for example), you will also see individuals purposely take the "losing" side so the other person can practice/experience "winning".

And if you're talking about the "spirituality" of sports, the exact sport in question is a factor. Some sports are much more "team based" then others. Take Football, for example---you have the quarterback and the receivers who get all the glory, but their success is largely dependent on the actions of the linebackers or whoever. Those guys don't exist for their own glory, their role is totally to support the needs of the team. Or take a Nascar racer's mechanics, it's easy to forget that they even exist.

Those types of "team" sports are certainly a minority, but for this type of discussion, I think it's problematic to lump all sports together.

Ron Tisdale
07-09-2009, 01:43 PM
Hi Mark, well, I don't know...the rolling around on the floor only happens when someone doesn't want to do the role playing...in other words, the hierarchy in aikido often simply masks the competitive natures of the people involved. If people simply allow the rank of the parties to settle the dispute, there is no rolling around. BUT if one of the parties elects not to play by that rule...all hell breaks loose.

Point being, the competitiveness is still there...it's just being masked.

Best,
Ron

MM
07-09-2009, 02:16 PM
I don't completely disagree with you, but you're comparing apples and oranges here. Keiko is training, and a sports match is competition. Training vs competition has different purposes.

If you look at sports training, rather than competition, you will see similar behavior to Keiko. Athletes will tone down their plays so that the other person/team can practice and get better, and depending on how the specific sport works (like with something like wrestling for example), you will also see individuals purposely take the "losing" side so the other person can practice/experience "winning".

And if you're talking about the "spirituality" of sports, the exact sport in question is a factor. Some sports are much more "team based" then others. Take Football, for example---you have the quarterback and the receivers who get all the glory, but their success is largely dependent on the actions of the linebackers or whoever. Those guys don't exist for their own glory, their role is totally to support the needs of the team. Or take a Nascar racer's mechanics, it's easy to forget that they even exist.

Those types of "team" sports are certainly a minority, but for this type of discussion, I think it's problematic to lump all sports together.

and

Hi Mark, well, I don't know...the rolling around on the floor only happens when someone doesn't want to do the role playing...in other words, the hierarchy in aikido often simply masks the competitive natures of the people involved. If people simply allow the rank of the parties to settle the dispute, there is no rolling around. BUT if one of the parties elects not to play by that rule...all hell breaks loose.

Point being, the competitiveness is still there...it's just being masked.

Best,
Ron

No matter how you look at the training, whether from beginning to end, sports has one end goal -- winning or losing. You'd rather not be the latter.

No matter how you look at the training, whether from beginning to end, the military has one end goal -- safety of the nation, even at the cost of your life.

No matter how you look at the training, whether from beginning to end, martial arts has one end goal -- how to live your life.

Throughout training in sports, that end goal of winning is always present. Training encompasses that aspect always and in all ways. Competition is the underlying bedrock of sports.

Throughout training in the military, that end goal of winning is always present. Training encompasses that aspect by drilling to follow orders without hesitation and without fail, even to the cost of your life.

Throughout training in the martial arts, that end goal of how to live your life is there in overcoming the competitive nature, to be budo strong and not live in fear, to get to a point where fighting isn't a fantasy/dream, etc, etc.

All three are very different and I find that a good martial arts school encompasses much higher ideals than the other two. And while incidents do happen because of competitive natures, the martial arts are about coming to terms with that nature.

All sports are competitive. You are that nature no matter whether you play singularly or within a team. That underlying spirit of competitive nature is oppositional to the spirit of good martial arts. Or do you think that those quality martial arts (Like Ueshiba's Aikido) didn't want competition for some personal dislike? Just didn't want to be showy? Didn't understand the nature of true sports or sportsmanship?

IMO anyway,
Mark

Ron Tisdale
07-09-2009, 03:35 PM
Perhaps if you go back and read Peter's post on the different types of words used for competition, our perspective will make more sense.

I have seen good competition and bad competition...in sport and in martial art. But hey, I suck, so what do I know? :D ;)
Best,
Ron

C. David Henderson
07-09-2009, 04:14 PM
Just two cents:

I don't think its necessarily true that sports are different from budo in lacking an aspect of "life or death." In some sports people risk and sometimes lose their lives in competition.

In some sports, deaths are more or less freak accidents -- like when somebody breaks their neck or dies of a heart attack playing American football.

In other sports, the risk of death is more inherently part of training and competition Take cycling:

If you've ever descended off a mountain on a road bike at speeds over 50 mph, on tires about 25 cm wide, you likely understand in your bones and in your gut that if you crash you well may die. Deaths and career-ending injuries do occur in European road racing from riders going down on the road or off the tarmac on mountain stages. Mountain biking -- lower speeds, but more dangerous terrain.

I used to race on a pretty informal basis, and trained on mountain roads. I once had my front brake cable snap during a descent in the middle of a curve; on another occasion, a bee flew into my shoulder while descending.

Both times, I came really close to crashing, and I was afraid for my life. And my experiences in these and other situations are not that unusual.

Or consider going for a really long swim in open water without a boat to spot you.

Or take sports like hang gliding; free diving; free climbing....

Whatever benefit is to be derived from overcoming the kind of fear those situations and experiences engender is inherent in these sports.

Two cents.

regards,

cdh

Erick Mead
07-10-2009, 12:10 AM
I dunno. I see sports teams the world over with just one goal in mind, beating the other team or person. WAIT! Somebody WINS at cricket ?!?... How do they tell??

I thought they just played until they ran out of tea, (... or was it gin?) :D

JimCooper
07-13-2009, 07:34 AM
Perhaps, I didn't explain that enough.


You did, I just have a different opinion. I really do mean they attempted to build his character, and not just so he would follow orders. Mind you, this was officer training in a very small Navy, so it was probably different to your experience.


Well, from the overall picture of sports to the detailed distinct reason of sports, it's different than martial arts.


Well, yes and no. Some MAs have drifted into being sports, really. And of course there is a difference between a MA and a sport, but that's to miss the point.


Overall picture of sports includes being a part of a team that competes in front of an audience.


Well, sometimes. There are non-team sports, and I very rarely had an audience when I played sport :-) I'm **not** talking mainly about professional sport, but that which nearly 100% of people playing sport play. (Although I have met a few top class sportspeople - representatives of their countries - and they have been the nicest people, very positive, always seeing problems as challenges to be overcome)

Of course there will always be overly-competitive people who are a PITA, both in sport and in a dojo.


And that's not always a good thing:


Ditto for martial arts. This is why people used to be screened before they were taught. You can learn a MA purely to be a more effective thug.


When is the last time that you saw an aikido training session break out in riots?


I've never played in any game that broke out in riots.


How about why you're actually playing that sport? What's the end goal? Isn't there always some trophy or award? There are always winners and losers. Someone always defeats someone else.


Well, no. There are draws and ties as well (they're actually different things in cricket).

I think this is the crux of the problem. If you were taught to play sport purely in order to win, then you were taught badly, and you've missed out on a great deal.

The point of sport is to **strive** to win.


And how many sport fights have their been by team players?


How many wars have been fought by martial artists?


There is no life and death in sport.


I'm not so sure. Some sports are terrifyingly dangerous. And how much "life and death" is there in a modern dojo?

Like I said, it seems I was taught sport differently than you, and it *should* have many more benefits than you think. I'm sorry that has not been your experience

JimCooper
07-13-2009, 09:48 AM
No matter how you look at the training, whether from beginning to end, sports has one end goal -- winning or losing.

<snip>

No matter how you look at the training, whether from beginning to end, martial arts has one end goal -- how to live your life.


You keep saying these things, but neither one is true. Sport does have more to it than that. You personally may not have experienced it, but that doesn't make it any less true.

Martial arts pay a lot of lip service (some don't even bother with that) to your supposed "one end goal", but it doesn't actually happen a whole lot, IME. And there is more to a MA than that one thing, too.

But in neither is any sort of character building going to happen automatically. It all depends on how you're taught. Professional sports people may or may not provide a good role model, ditto for martial artists - they're just less high profile. I could name some high grades who are pretty poor in that regard, as I'm sure we all could.


Didn't understand the nature of true sports or sportsmanship?


The old masters had some different thoughts on the subject. Kano thought it was a good idea, Ueshiba didn't. AFAIK, Kano had some exposure to sport (and was a big supporter of the Olympics), Ueshiba didn't (dunno about the Olympics, but he was pretty racist up until WW2). Nobody's perfect :-)

JimCooper
07-13-2009, 09:53 AM
WAIT! Somebody WINS at cricket ?!?... How do they tell??


Exactly the same way as they do in baseball. The only difference is that sometimes they run out of time to finish all the innings (which is a draw).


I thought they just played until they ran out of tea, (... or was it gin?) :D


At least it's not chewing tobacco :-)

And anyway, it's beer. Gin is strictly for those (English) spectators who want something stronger than Pimms. And we never run out of beer. Preparation is the key here.

Dusko Bojic
07-25-2009, 06:06 AM
I didn't even start Aikido yet so I would like to apologise in advance to all which might take me for a wise-guy :)

Correct me if I am wrong please :)

The reason I am to join my local Aikido Dojo is to help me develop my own discipline.
At this stage of my life I became very aware of my Ego and what powers my Ego has over my life. I became aware of how Ego talks through me via Fear, Anger, Procrastination, Doubt, Competition, Pride, etc ... I became aware of me being owned by my Monkey Mind.
I realised the importance of silencing my Ego Monkey Mind and teaching it Humility.
I need a Teacher to help me during this break in period of change since my Ego is resisting and trying to put me back into the status quo. I need consistency and Dojo will help me with this.

In my every day life I find that Ego has many faces in order to deceive me and stay in the "protected" status quo. Ego doesn't like changes. Ego loves to compete and to win, to be the best of them all. Some Egos love to loose to punish them selves and these Egos usually tend to self-sabotage. I have a good friend of mine which is very good at achieving things, but he tends to self-sabotage at the end of each (almost) successful realisation (catch that).

I am yet to see someone winning a gold medal and refusing to take it :) Someone so humble "knowing" the real truth of the Universe which Is that I am unable to win by crushing down my opponent/enemy, I am part of the One Ki and my opponent/enemy is also the part of the One Ki, how can I be the winner if my opponent/enemy Is Down.

There is One thing which I wish to achieve and that is the real reason behind me willing to practice the art of Aikido; According to the founder, true victory is the victory one achieves over oneself!
And that Oneself is entangled most of the time in Ego based Monkey Mind schemes and one of them is Pride and Competition, proving to oneself and others that I AM the best or among the best.
I AM is our worse opponent and the best Teacher (I believe)

I see Aikido as being a Spiritual Mirror in which the attacker can see it self and learn the truth. I attack (to compete, to be better than ... ) and my own Ki is joining the Aikidokas Ki and suddenly my Ki is working against my intent of bringing down my opponent. I continue in a stubborn way to attack again and again until I fall down physically exhausted and this is the part when Ego falls a sleep and I realise the truth ... I was never attacking the Aikidoka but my own self.
Aikidoka's purpose was/Is to help me realise this truth (this is how I "see" Aikido)

In my belief Aikido is there to help us realise that we all are part of the One Ki. Meaning if I am to attack another being I am disturbing the peaceful flow of the Universal Ki which is in all of us.
Native Americans believed that there is no true happiness if even one of our relatives/relations is suffering.
Hence the Lakota saying Mitakuye Oyasin (all of creation Is my relatives).

I know it is difficult to live Spiritually in a Ego-based world where "I want For Me" is accepted readily than "I want For All of Us". How do I know this, well, I am in the middle of the battle where my Ego is constantly competing with my Spirit (even though an exhausting experience at least I became aware of it which is a "half way there")
Through Aikido practise I am willing to become my Ego's Mirror and let my Ego "see" the absurdness of the self. Ego will attack and my Spirit (Ki) will pin it or throw it (but gently) ... and again, and again ... and again if necessary for the rest of my life.

Here is where I apply the Samurai saying "Cry in the Dojo - Laugh in the battlefield" just the battlefield is within my self.

Once again, very helpful column and discussion and I apologise in advance to all which might take me for a wise-guy, it was not my intent.
Just in a case I sound strange please understand that I started discovering Ki through Reiki :) and Aikido is to become my extended Path.

p.s. my wife and her family can not play any game without putting some money in or just making the looser go and wash the dishes after the dinner (just so the game would be interesting they say). My wife sais that it is boring playing against me since I don't express competitive attitude like acting with triumph if I win or score or being disappointed if I loose or miss. That is why I prefer fishing without a hook ... just focusing on the red top of the floater on the wavy water surface. Pointless you might say ... we all have different experiences which make us believe what we believe and only time might change that believe or maybe it will be an Aikidoka which I as Ego will attack again and again and again and again ... until I as Ego collapse in this absurd competitive pursuit.

Thank you for reading :)

Kind regards, Dusko