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Stephen Kotev
03-05-2009, 10:18 AM
So what does "Aikido is not about fighting really mean?" I know some of you may groan at reading this but please indulge me.

The definition of 'fighting' taken from: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fighting

1 a: to contend in battle or physical combat; especially: to strive to overcome a person by blows or weapons.

Recently George Ledyard wrote in this thread:
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15833&page=2 (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15833&page=2)

Aikido is definitely about not fighting but I don't mean that the way most folks mean it. Even when it is used for self defense, it is still about not fighting.

What exactly do you mean George? How can we define Aikido as 'not fighting' and still claim it is effective as a martial art? (I know, I know, not this topic again…) Forgive me if I am being pedantic but if we take this statement literally it contradicts defining Aikido as a martial art. (And yes, Budo is still considered 'a martial way' for those of you who were chomping at the bit to respond with "But Aikido is Budo!")

Earlier you in the same post you state:

So many people have no idea how they might go about applying their technique in a martial situation. If you point that out to them, they respond that Aikido isn't about fighting. Well, it isn't but that shouldn't be an excuse for not understanding your technique.

Which leads me to the same conclusion you presented:

The fact is that most folks cannot actually do their waza within the Aikido context if they get real committed attacks from ukes who aren't colluding. Forget about applying the techniques against other martial artists... they can't do their techniques against a proper katatetori, they can't actually do an irimi with a partner who is REALLY trying to hit them. This applies to many of the folks teaching as well as the average practitioner. This is particularly prevalent on the West Coast where people are trying so hard to do "spiritual Aikido".

So what does "Aikido is not about fighting really mean?"

Is it not resisting the incoming energy/attack? Something else? Even if we 'don't resist; or 'harmonize' with them isn't the expectation that they'll still end up on the ground or immobilized? How is that not "striving to overcome a person by blows or weapons"?

Why is MMA considered 'fighting' while Aikido is not?* What goes on within MMA that does not occur in Aikido? Atemi? What percentage of Aikido is Atemi again????

Is avoiding a punch in boxing or karate somehow intrinsically different from an evasion in Aikido?

Regards,
Stephen Kotev

*Please let's not bring out the 'super deadly' argument again. Do you really think you could have handled this guy?: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article5851343.ece (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article5851343.ece)

sorokod
03-05-2009, 11:18 AM
Maybe people who say that, would also say that tea ceremony is not about making tea, nor is it the most efficient way of making tea, but tea is still being made by the end of the day.

Just a guess though.

John Matsushima
03-05-2009, 11:26 AM
I think that Aikido is more akin to dancing, expect that my partner is trying to kill me.

lbb
03-05-2009, 11:34 AM
Why is MMA considered 'fighting' while Aikido is not?

What do you mean by "MMA"? Training in different martial arts, or (as I suspect) the competition known as "MMA"? If the latter, I don't consider MMA "fighting" -- it's a sporting contest with rules, not a fight -- but MMA fans would blow a gasket over that.

Budd
03-05-2009, 11:50 AM
It depends. What are you training to be able to do and can you reliably do it? Honest internal and external benchmarks can be critical in assessing your training.

Stephen Kotev
03-05-2009, 11:55 AM
I think that Aikido is more akin to dancing, expect that my partner is trying to kill me.

John,

I think you are joking but If I look you literally you would be "moving or seem to move up and down or about in a quick or lively manner." (taken from: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dance)

Yet someone is trying to still do you physical harm.

Are you just splitting hairs? How this this different from the definition of fighting?

Stephen

Stephen Kotev
03-05-2009, 12:06 PM
What do you mean by "MMA"? Training in different martial arts, or (as I suspect) the competition known as "MMA"? If the latter, I don't consider MMA "fighting" -- it's a sporting contest with rules, not a fight -- but MMA fans would blow a gasket over that.

Hi Mary,

I took this from George's original quote: My teacher, Saotome Sensei once said "Aikido people are most angry people in martial arts..." While I am not a fan of the way mixed martial arts has gone, we need to be realistic about our Aikido. Aikido really has a hugely passive - aggressive culture. We have an art that is fundamentally about the study of connection but the art attracts folks who do not want to really connect.

Which could be interpreted either way.

I think we sometimes delude ourselves; if we think that since we don't have rules or sparrning in Aikido we are 'uber deadly.' I agree that MMA sanctioned fights are entertainment yet they are also testable examples of skill. I so often read on this board "Aikido is not about fighting' in response to an effectiveness question. I really don't understand how that is an answer to that question. I can understand your line of thinking but I feel at times it is used as an excuse to coverup the shortcomings of Aikido.

Best,
Stephen

Cyrijl
03-05-2009, 12:07 PM
So mary, kids don't fight? Usually little boys when they fight have rules they abide by. This means it is not a fight?

Stephen Kotev
03-05-2009, 12:07 PM
It depends. What are you training to be able to do and can you reliably do it? Honest internal and external benchmarks can be critical in assessing your training.

Hi Budd,

Could you clarify your statement? Do you believe that Aikido is not about fighting?

Best,
Stephen

kironin
03-05-2009, 12:43 PM
I go into a MMA ring with the goal of defeating an opponent, to beat him to a pulp, make him bleed, cause his brain to shutdown from lack of oxygen, whatever I have to do within the rules to get him to submit. and I train in a MMA gym with this competitive purpose in mind. I am learning to fight the other till either he submits or I lose the ability to fight anymore and must submit to him. If he doesn't choose to fight, he is still going down and submitting. I won't stop fighting until he submits. Submitting is losing is death. In the game, submitting is the way of dying in the fight and coming back for another day. (and just like in chess which is a game of war, I can surrender when the battle is lost in the hope of mercy).

in Aikido, I train with the purpose in mind of improving myself so violent conflict with another human being will become less likely with time. If I fail in my awareness and verbal skills, and must use the physical skills, then it's still with the intention to de-escalate the conflict. To suck the air out of the confrontation. In all cases, I am not fighting them, I don't want to appear to be fighting, and I want them to be confused about what happened. I would prefer they be able to rationalize that it was just a slip, loss of balance somehow. I have no desire to be the focus, mano a mano. I would prefer that he not see me as someone that bested him or dissed him or anything that would lead to a desire for later revenge, etc. I am looking to open up a path for myself and others for escape and evasion to further reduce the possibility of lethal escalation, as I am not in a game, or a competition nor am I training to be in one. I am not fighting if I am not in the military in a war zone. If you say hi and walk on by, I smile back and say hi too and walk on.

Some of the physical and mental skill sets may overlap between the two, but the actual goals are quite different IMO.

Usually in self-defense, there is a low-expectation of mercy.

grondahl
03-05-2009, 12:49 PM
Is this your personal experience from training in a mma gym Craig?

I go into a MMA ring with the goal of defeating an opponent, to beat him to a pulp, make him bleed, cause his brain to shutdown from lack of oxygen, whatever I have to do within the rules to get him to submit. and I train in a MMA gym with this competitive purpose in mind. I am learning to fight the other till either he submits or I lose the ability to fight anymore and must submit to him. If he doesn't choose to fight, he is still going down and submitting. I won't stop fighting until he submits. Submitting is losing is death. In the game, submitting is the way of dying in the fight and coming back for another day.

Stephen Kotev
03-05-2009, 01:07 PM
in Aikido, I train with the purpose in mind of improving myself so violent conflict with another human being will become less likely with time. If I fail in my awareness and verbal skills, and must use the physical skills, then it's still with the intention to de-escalate the conflict. To suck the air out of the confrontation. In all cases, I am not fighting them, I don't want to appear to be fighting, and I want them to be confused about what happened. I would prefer they be able to rationalize that it was just a slip, loss of balance somehow. I have no desire to be the focus, mano a mano. I would prefer that he not see me as someone that bested him or dissed him or anything that would lead to a desire for later revenge, etc. I am looking to open up a path for myself and others for escape and evasion to further reduce the possibility of lethal escalation, as I am not in a game, or a competition nor am I training to be in one. I am not fighting if I am not in the military in a war zone. If you say hi and walk on by, I smile back and say hi too and walk on.

Craig,

If you don't mind I am going to play devils advocate.

So when you train in MMA you do not feel that you are: "improving myself so violent conflict with another human being will become less likely with time"? Are you sure?

So what specific physical skills do you practice in your Aikido Dojo? Just tenkan and escapes? No throws or joint locks? The way this is written one could assume that you are primarily focused on practicing non-verbal de-escalation skills and evasions. Is that correct? If so why call it Aikido?

Best,
Stephen

Randy Sexton
03-05-2009, 01:53 PM
Of course Aikido is about fighting!

It is learning how to fight by blending with and utilizing your opponents energy in a manner not allowing him to hurt you and in ideal situations keeping him from hurting himself. Aikido training allows this to be done by controlling the energy and allowing him to cool down; and if he is not able to calm down and not be a threat to restrain him till the police take him away.

IMHO O'Sensei meant this to be a very effective martial art but one that allows us to learn to view ourselves and our enemy with love and compassion. It is a means to teach us to master ourselves, not to become masters over others. We learn the greatest enemy is that which is in our own hearts and that our pride/ego can be brought under control. We fight, when we choose to fight, out of necessity to protect those we love from harm. We choose not to fight out of pride or ego and avoid feeding the competitive tiger within us. We fight in a style that allows us the greatest control to minimize harm to our beloved enemy.

To do Aikido without awareness of it as a martial art is fine if that it is what one wishes to do; but I do not want to delude myself if I am not able to use my Aikido to defend myself. I wish to correct all my training errors so that I can use my Aikido for both personal development and as a martial art for self and family defense.

Doc

mathewjgano
03-05-2009, 02:13 PM
I so often read on this board "Aikido is not about fighting' in response to an effectiveness question. I really don't understand how that is an answer to that question.
I think it displays where a person's priorities are. I know I've offered that as an explanation for why I might not be as worried with finding the absolute best fight-ability. Why is it this explanation is so often taken to mean a person is dodging the "question"?
In the fullest sense I think Aikido is both about fighting and about not-fighting since understanding of one implies information about the other.

megalotro
03-05-2009, 02:43 PM
Here is how I view the difference between 'fighting' and 'not fighting', written to the best of my admittedly limited ability.

To me, if someone tries to punch me and I escalate to bring a conclusion to the conflict, that's fighting. However, if someone tries to punch me and I neutralize that attack -pull the power on it, so to speak- then the conclusion is that there is no conflict. I am not striving to overcome the other person - I am striving to help them see that they don't want to attack me anymore. That's what not fighting means to me.

So when I train, the goal is to be able to 'not fight' in any circumstance. I'll be the first one to point out that I can't do that against a full speed attack right now - but that's part of what I'm training for. I'm not training to be able to beat someone in a fight.

Just my humble opinion.

-Tro

kironin
03-05-2009, 03:06 PM
Craig,

If you don't mind I am going to play devils advocate.


well, yes. I do mind. ;)


So when you train in MMA you do not feel that you are: "improving myself so violent conflict with another human being will become less likely with time"? Are you sure?


I don't train in MMA, while I do know some people who are seriously involved in MMA it's not where I wish to spend my time. I have had discussions with them but I don't speak for them. I was stating how I see it and it really is meant just for contrast. The focus of my answer is on aikido which is the focus of your post not on MMA or any other competitive fighting art (eg. boxing) and what an individual may or may not think they are doing in that art.


So what specific physical skills do you practice in your Aikido Dojo? Just tenkan and escapes? No throws or joint locks? The way this is written one could assume that you are primarily focused on practicing non-verbal de-escalation skills and evasions. Is that correct? If so why call it Aikido?


maybe you are just playing devil's advocate, but if not this just indicates to me you really aren't even in the right ballpark about what aikido is. So you think Aikido is the jujutsu waza you are learning ? There are already plenty of essays on this site and elsewhere that spell it out. If you are just a beginner, I apologize if I appear to lack the patience to engage in an endless back and forth but the point you are attempting to make is neither new nor interesting.

Stephen Kotev
03-05-2009, 03:13 PM
I think it displays where a person's priorities are. I know I've offered that as an explanation for why I might not be as worried with finding the absolute best fight-ability. Why is it this explanation is so often taken to mean a person is dodging the "question"?
In the fullest sense I think Aikido is both about fighting and about not-fighting since understanding of one implies information about the other.

I don't want to confuse this with conversations about 'the best' we all know what a path to hell that is. What bothers me is that these responses are not answers to the question posed. Why is something labeled as 'non-fighting' when what we are really talking about is the level of aggressive response and or force escalation we choose to take when attacked?

It seems so ironic that there is such an embrace of 'non-fighting' by the Aikido community but when someone comes to this forum and asks us to 'prove it' we tell them it's 'too deadly.' I think this also speaks directly to and wonderfully illustrates George's earlier comment about Aikido being very passive-aggressive.

So I say again, and I mean this in the most earnest sense, why do we call ourselves a martial art if what we are really about is non-verbal de-escalation skills and evasions?

I think this is a totally honorable and worthwhile goal. If that is what we are really about then let's publically embrace it.

Guilty Spark
03-05-2009, 03:17 PM
Hey Greg, good post. I'm just a little confused,

I go into a MMA ring with the goal of defeating an opponent, to beat him to a pulp, make him bleed, cause his brain to shutdown from lack of oxygen, whatever I have to do within the rules to get him to submit. and I train in a MMA gym with this competitive purpose in mind. I am learning to fight the other.....//


I don't train in MMA.

You're an MMA fighter who doesn't train in MMA?

Stephen Kotev
03-05-2009, 03:30 PM
well, yes. I do mind. ;)

I don't train in MMA, while I do know some people who are seriously involved in MMA it's not where I wish to spend my time. I have had discussions with them but I don't speak for them. I was stating how I see it and it really is meant just for contrast. The focus of my answer is on aikido which is the focus of your post not on MMA or any other competitive fighting art (eg. boxing) and what an individual may or may not think they are doing in that art.

maybe you are just playing devil's advocate, but if not this just indicates to me you really aren't even in the right ballpark about what aikido is. So you think Aikido is the jujutsu waza you are learning ? There are already plenty of essays on this site and elsewhere that spell it out. If you are just a beginner, I apologize if I appear to lack the patience to engage in an endless back and forth but the point you are attempting to make is neither new nor interesting.

Craig,

I see you too are playing devil's advocate. ;)

Thanks for the clarification on your perspective of MMA. As you mention in our response I could also refer you to many other posts on Aikiweb that would demonstrate that most in MMA would not hold your characterization of them as accurate.

I do not want to turn this into an MMA vs. Aikido thread. I agree we have had too many of those. It is being referred to in this thread in response to George's orginal posting in another thread. I could easily exchange the term for another martial art such as Judo or Karate if you wish.

I don't understand the tone in your reply.

So you think Aikido is the jujutsu waza you are learning? There are already plenty of essays on this site and elsewhere that spell it out.

I clearly stated that I was playing devil's advocate yet you seem willing to call me a beginner and state that this topic is neither new nor interesting. Do I need to reiterate again that I was playing devil's advocate?

FWIW I would be interested in you spelling it out for me.

Regards,
Stephen

NagaBaba
03-05-2009, 03:58 PM
So what does "Aikido is not about fighting really mean?"
It is really simple. There is no battle or physical combat during aikido class. The attacker works together with defender. He is doing prearranged attack, and his behavior right after the end of the attack is also a prearranged form. You can't call it a battle, rather some kind of theatre play.
Also, the intent of attacker is not to harm defender. Rather, attacker allows defender to learn.

What goes on within MMA that does not occur in Aikido?

Well, there is no cooperation in MMA and the intent of attacker is to harm defender in the limit of the appropriate rules.

That situation is a result of Founder realization that martial techniques can be used to change/improve ourselves (i.e. misogi) and not only for fighting.

Erick Mead
03-05-2009, 04:56 PM
So what does "Aikido is not about fighting really mean?" I know some of you may groan at reading this but please indulge me.

The definition of 'fighting' taken from: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fighting

1 a: to contend in battle or physical combat; especially: to strive to overcome a person by blows or weapons.

Recently George Ledyard wrote in this thread: 'Aikido is definitely about not fighting but I don't mean that the way most folks mean it. Even when it is used for self defense, it is still about not fighting.

Sun Tzu wrote this about 30 centuries ago:

Generally in warfare, keeping a nation intact is best, destroying a nation second best;
keeping an army intact is best, destroying an army second best;
keeping a battalion intact is best, destroying a battalion second best;
keeping a company intact is best, destroying a company second best;
keeping a squad intact is best, destroying a squad second best.
Therefore, to gain a hundred victories in a hundred battles is not the highest excellence;
to subjugate the enemy's army without doing battle is the highest excellence.
Therefore, the best warfare strategy is to attack the enemy's plans, ... [all other strategies = second best] Aikido is about attacking the enemy's plan. What is the enemy's plan? --Simply speaking -- to pick a fight. What is the strategy against that plan? To funnel aggression into not letting him have one -- divide him against himself -- because he won't give up wanting the fight.

Example: kiriotoshi. He wants to cut me. He is fighting with me. He wants to hurt me without getting hurt. I am just cutting. Not him -- not anything, particularly. I cut same way I cut when he is not there as when he is there -- I am not fighting him -- I am just cutting. If he means to continue his fight he'd best look to his position, because I am just cutting. If he does that, of course, he is divided between attacking and evading and his attack is destroyed, and -- I don't end up cutting him -- but of course in making him choose to divide his intent he was cut, without fighting. That's just fine, I don't care, I wasn't cutting him -- I just love cutting.

mathewjgano
03-05-2009, 05:38 PM
I don't want to confuse this with conversations about 'the best' we all know what a path to hell that is.
I completely agree.
What bothers me is that these responses are not answers to the question posed...It seems so ironic that there is such an embrace of 'non-fighting' by the Aikido community but when someone comes to this forum and asks us to 'prove it' we tell them it's 'too deadly.' I think this also speaks directly to and wonderfully illustrates George's earlier comment about Aikido being very passive-aggressive
I see what you mean, and yes I would agree indirect responses can be frustrating...and Aikido folks, being apparently prone toward passive-aggressive behavior, must almost certainly respond this way more often.
Why is something labeled as 'non-fighting'?

I think because "Aikido" can also include times when we're preventing fights, not just ending them. Basically, not-fighting equals not-conflicting, I think.

So I say again, and I mean this in the most earnest sense, why do we call ourselves a martial art if what we are really about is non-verbal de-escalation skills and evasions?

I'm confused...a fist to the face can fit this description in my opinion. Aikido is called a martial art because it's a collection of martial training. Apart from the simple physical meaning, the "not-fighting" rhetoric denotes a mindset more than anything else. It's a wide-open concept, which maybe makes it meaningless for some, but I've found some use for it.

JO
03-05-2009, 08:49 PM
Part of the confusion in this thread is that many people are equalling "fighting" with "physical conflict". However this confuses concepts as you can have a physical conflict that is not a fight and you can have a fight that is not physical. For example, there is a big difference between defending yourself from an attacker and fighting that attacker. The difference is largely in mental state and strategy. In self defense you do everything you can to survive, which can include physically disabling or subduing your attacker, but you never escalate and you take any opportunity to simply get away. This distinction is important as "fighting" someone can get you in jail, even if "he started it".

As to what aikido is, I'd start with what it isn't. It isn't an applied self defense system, it isn't sport fighting (which the UFC is) and it isn't a military combat system (though it is a distant decendant of old military combat systems). Of the above types I find aikido is closest to a self defense system in that the techniques, tactics and mind set of aikido would require much less modification to become part of a self defense system than to become a fighting system.

By the way, none of this really has anything to do about the effectiveness of aikido techniques or aikido being a martial art. Akido is about not fighting. It is because of that that we must strive to really connect with our partners, to really control their balance and to really throw them and to not have our cooperation turn into a ridiculous empty dance.

So Szczepan, don't get too cooperative on me. I've learned more in a few minutes of being frustrated with you than I have in hours of smooth flowing technique with dancing partner ukes. Not that I think you should actually be fighting with me or trying to kill me, just to be clear ;)

George S. Ledyard
03-05-2009, 08:53 PM
It is really simple. There is no battle or physical combat during aikido class. The attacker works together with defender. He is doing prearranged attack, and his behavior right after the end of the attack is also a prearranged form. You can't call it a battle, rather some kind of theatre play.
Also, the intent of attacker is not to harm defender. Rather, attacker allows defender to learn.

Well, there is no cooperation in MMA and the intent of attacker is to harm defender in the limit of the appropriate rules.

That situation is a result of Founder realization that martial techniques can be used to change/improve ourselves (i.e. misogi) and not only for fighting.

Hi Szczepan,
Very nicely said. I am in awe of how concisely you summed it up. Very impressive.
- George

Buck
03-05-2009, 09:10 PM
...theatre play.


FWIW. To be consistent in a very well "summing it up" way. I would use the word practice. When using "theatre play" that is a bit narrow. I don't disagree. I am sure there are some dojos out that where "theatre play" fits, but not all. You got to give credit to those Aikidoka that do seriously train. Not all dojos are stages.

*By practice I mean within the context of learning a skill.

Kevin Leavitt
03-05-2009, 09:44 PM
I always keep coming back to this video of Saotome Sensei for some reason. I think it displays what I see is the best example of the spectrum of aikido. Look at :26 sec in particular. We see very direct and violent action to that of hand shake. I feel very fortunate to have spent my time under Saotome Sensei and his senior students. It has been made very clear to me what we are doing (or should be).

Steve brings up some very good points I think and it is worth thinking about, maybe not necessarily worrying about answering directly, but at least thinking about it is important for sure.

As a Soldier this is a subject very near and dear to my heart. I practice a full spectrum of force when I am doing my "operational" job. It can be anything from building meaningful relationships with people in small villages, showing compassion to a child, to at a split second turning lethal force on an enemy combatant.

I understand that many (most) folks out there do not have a need or situation for this type of training, but I think it is valuable to understand and the core level what it is that we are indeed practicing, if we expect to truely understand violence, the application of it, and how to control it when things get really bad for us, if nothing else, to learn to identify it within ourselves, how to deal with the stress and emotion that rises in those situations.

I think it requires a certain amount of honesty of what violence really is and looking it in the eye at face value. Not some reframing of it to make it easier to swallow or to sweep under the rug.

This is not budo, imo. Budo is about dealing with it, looking it in the eye understanding things we may not like and learning how to correctly respond to them.

How do you learn that by learning to avoid violence, or forming a preconcieved notion about how we might respond, or studying a limited spectrum of responses such as studying "only those things which will resolve the situation with out harming our enemy"?

I personally think this is a narrow way to study, an incomplete way, and a way that may result in someone getting seriously hurt or killed if they ever do get involved in a physically violent encounter. I don't think from the time I have spent with Saotome Sensei and from watching the video above, that O'Sensei meant for us to study in such a narrow way.

Again, I understand that many study martial arts for many different reasons and alot out there are not concerned with the physicality of violence, but only the mental or spiritual aspects of it.

I appologize for being so blunt, but I think if you are sugar coating or reframing what it is that budo or aikido is meant to dissect and be about by not looking deep or honestly about what we are studying (violence) then you are simply going through the motions simply to feel good about yourself, and if you are an instructor, well I think you are failing your students by having them study something that is not budo.

Again, as a soldier, I take my study of budo very seriously. I have found that because I am physically, mentally, and spiritually strong, that I am able to present a formidible, strong, and confident presence when I deal with people that I am not really sure if they want to be my friend or to kill me. (the line can be very narrow sometime). I feel in my heart that because I have a good martial ability, the confidence gives me much room to open up and be compassionate, to give them room to expand, to talk and express. It allows me to listen and be sincere, and I hope it allows me to gain trust when I deal with people.

I feel if I did not understand so much how to handle myself martially it would show, I would feel it in the situation and I would have to "pull back" some to "protect" myself and it would prevent relationships from having as much meaning as they might otherwise.

It is only through learning how to fight, how to use the various "tools", how they work, the damage they can cause, when it is appropriate to use them, and when not, that allows me to skillfully engage in situations from meetings in the Pentagon, to meetings in some third world country, to walking into situations in which someone might be my enemy and I may not know it.

I do not want to tell anyone what Aikido should be to them, or how to train. I only hope though, that many of you will reflect upon this topic and seriously consider, honestly what it is that we do when we do what we do, and maybe consider that aikido and/or budo should not be limited by your own perconceptions or paradigms about what you view as ideal or "comfortable".

Budo should study the full spectrum from the ugly to the beautiful and everything in between. It is from that study that we can form our own understanding about how to apply the lessons that we learn.

Erick Mead
03-05-2009, 09:50 PM
FWIW. To be consistent in a very well "summing it up" way. I would use the word practice. When using "theatre play" that is a bit narrow. I don't disagree. I am sure there are some dojos out that where "theatre play" fits, but not all. You got to give credit to those Aikidoka that do seriously train. Not all dojos are stages.By the same token UFC is also theater play, stage drama with real blood for scene dressing. WWF also (WWE now, I guess), as a specific case in point. Romans had some rather elaborate plays in the Colosseum -- where the players died in the scene. Very definitely fighting and stage craft -- they are not exclusive.

But acknowledging the general validity of the observation in our current taste for theater, what sort of work is aikido? -- There is some worthwhile analogizing to indulge.

I see it as a play of manners, sometimes tongue in cheek, sometimes Ibsenesque, in its layered revealing of a bitter reality beneath the care and courtesy of formal observance.

JO
03-05-2009, 09:52 PM
FWIW. To be consistent in a very well "summing it up" way. I would use the word practice. When using "theatre play" that is a bit narrow. I don't disagree. I am sure there are some dojos out that where "theatre play" fits, but not all. You got to give credit to those Aikidoka that do seriously train. Not all dojos are stages.

*By practice I mean within the context of learning a skill.

I'm not really sure you get what he is getting at.I'm not sure I get it either, but here's my take on the issue.

Aikido training isn't about learning a skill that you then go apply elsewhere. It's not that you don't learn skills or that they're not applicable in other contexts, you do and they are. But that really isn't the point. The point of aikido training is to work on yourself and to help your partner work on him(or her)self. As you advance, you then find that the training starts to follow you outside the dojo, it becomes part of who you are and how you live. I view it as a path of self improvement with no end or ultimate goal.

Also, if I were you I would hesitate to make too any assumptions about the seriousness of the training Szczepan is used to. And as long as "theatre play" includes forms of improv theatre, I think he has a point, even when applied to the most "martial" of aikido dojos.

Ketsan
03-05-2009, 10:35 PM
Umm. I'm confused. Might just be me, but to my way of thinking this discussion seems to be about training methods rather than about Aikido.

We talk about prearranged attacks with prearranged ukemi and no intent from the attacker and it's about developing spiritual goals yada yada and this is how we define Aikido, in contrast to say MMA which is about resistance, no spirtual goals and what not.

So if I'm going about my business tommorrow and some guy tries to hit me with the intention of doing me harm and I throw him with irimi nage learned in what I'll provisionally call an Aikido dojo, by a lot of people's defintions, I haven't used Aikido.
It wasn't prearranged, there was intention on the attackers part to do harm and the encounter wasn't for the purposes of self improvement. Ergo, no Aikido.

Aikido is the only art that defines itself by how it trains and seldom by how it's applied outside of the dojo. Of course I assume it has applications outside of the dojo.

See my dojo is all about self defence, a lot of people I know have used what we're taught for real and it's worked amazingly well. I know other people, including myself, that have used it to defeat people in sparring matches.
If Aikido i.e, the techniques we have and the physical lessons they teach, have no physical self defence application outside of the dojo then what my teacher teaches can't be called Aikido.

For me what happens in class is largely irrelevent in defining an art, just because you don't fight in class it doesn't mean the art is not about fighting. How much of koryu bujutsu does that wacky definition turn into "theatre play?"

Just a few random thoughts.

NagaBaba
03-06-2009, 09:36 AM
For me what happens in class is largely irrelevent in defining an art, just because you don't fight in class it doesn't mean the art is not about fighting. How much of koryu bujutsu does that wacky definition turn into "theatre play?"

Just a few random thoughts.
If you want to learn how to fight, you must actually fight, and as often as possible. Otherwise you are fooling yourself.
There is an old saying from Himalaya:
It is impossible to learn swimming in an empty pool by imitating the moves of swimmers.

lbb
03-06-2009, 09:38 AM
If you want to learn how to fight, you must actually fight, and as often as possible. Otherwise you are fooling yourself.

If I actually fought, as often as possible, I'd be spending my life in the hospital or in jail.

NagaBaba
03-06-2009, 09:43 AM
Hi Szczepan,
Very nicely said. I am in awe of how concisely you summed it up. Very impressive.
- George
Hello George,
This is a real disaster, you agree with me for the third time! If you continue like that, Jun will have to close this forum, from lack of discussion :p

NagaBaba
03-06-2009, 09:48 AM
Not that I think you should actually be fighting with me or trying to kill me, just to be clear ;)
Of course this clarification will not help you a lot :D

John Matsushima
03-06-2009, 10:09 AM
I look at it this way, let's say i'm faced with someone twice my size that wants to dismember me. If I try to overcome him with force and speed, I WILL lose. He may also be trained in martial arts, so depending on his training if I try to overcome him with martial strategy, I will probably still lose. So, any attempt by me to "overcome" him will probably result in my own dismemberment. That, I consider to be fighting. However, through Aikido, I believe it is possible to survive, I won't win, but I will survive. That's not fighting. If I am proficient enough, I can execute an Aikido technique well enough so that I don't receive his attack. Consider an irimi movement. Even if you practice against someone who is REALLY REALLY trying to hit you, it is possible to just move past them without getting hit. There, no fighting. So, to sum it up, I think that one can say that Aikido is not about fighting, because the focus is not on overcoming or subduing and attacker; that's kind of bonus.

When it's raining, you won't stay dry by fighting the clouds.

mathewjgano
03-06-2009, 11:03 AM
I always keep coming back to this video of Saotome Sensei for some reason. I think it displays what I see is the best example of the spectrum of aikido. Look at :26 sec in particular. We see very direct and violent action to that of hand shake...
As a Soldier this is a subject very near and dear to my heart. I practice a full spectrum of force when I am doing my "operational" job. It can be anything from building meaningful relationships with people in small villages, showing compassion to a child, to at a split second turning lethal force on an enemy combatant.
...I think it requires a certain amount of honesty of what violence really is and looking it in the eye at face value. Not some reframing of it to make it easier to swallow or to sweep under the rug.

This is not budo, imo. Budo is about dealing with it, looking it in the eye understanding things we may not like and learning how to correctly respond to them.

Again, I understand that many study martial arts for many different reasons and alot out there are not concerned with the physicality of violence, but only the mental or spiritual aspects of it.

I appologize for being so blunt, but I think if you are sugar coating or reframing what it is that budo or aikido is meant to dissect and be about by not looking deep or honestly about what we are studying (violence) then you are simply going through the motions simply to feel good about yourself, and if you are an instructor, well I think you are failing your students by having them study something that is not budo.

Again, as a soldier, I take my study of budo very seriously. I have found that because I am physically, mentally, and spiritually strong, that I am able to present a formidible, strong, and confident presence when I deal with people that I am not really sure if they want to be my friend or to kill me. (the line can be very narrow sometime). I feel in my heart that because I have a good martial ability, the confidence gives me much room to open up and be compassionate, to give them room to expand, to talk and express. It allows me to listen and be sincere, and I hope it allows me to gain trust when I deal with people.

I feel if I did not understand so much how to handle myself martially it would show, I would feel it in the situation and I would have to "pull back" some to "protect" myself and it would prevent relationships from having as much meaning as they might otherwise.

It is only through learning how to fight, how to use the various "tools", how they work, the damage they can cause, when it is appropriate to use them, and when not, that allows me to skillfully engage in situations from meetings in the Pentagon, to meetings in some third world country, to walking into situations in which someone might be my enemy and I may not know it.

Budo should study the full spectrum from the ugly to the beautiful and everything in between. It is from that study that we can form our own understanding about how to apply the lessons that we learn.

Which video, Kevin? I think I know which one you're talking about, but I'm not sure.
Also, I think we need soldiers like yourself to remind us of the "blunt" nature of conflict. If I hadn't seen some of the things I've seen by happenstance, I don't think I could have much to say on violence from a practical standpoint...and I certainly couldn't appreciate the stark severity it can bring. It's the blessing of a past curse, if that makes any sense, and I value those events for those lessons of unwavering severity. Frankly they make me appreciate peaceful things so much better than your "average" dude. That said, when I describe the need/desire to avoid conflict, I'm not saying a person should live a life of avoidance; quite the opposite in fact. It's more of a pull toward peace than a push away from violence...er, sorry, no push and pull in Aikido: an irimi toward peace happens to also make you leave the conflict...usually on the ground.
I think part of the problem with this topic is that we have two camps: idealists who describe things in terms of the end/idealized goal, and pragmatists who describe the "bumpy" process, and rarely the two shall speak the same language...despite disagreeing anyway. That's obviously a simplification, but I think it holds merit.
What do you think?
Take care,
Matt

Guilty Spark
03-06-2009, 11:10 AM
If you want to learn how to fight, you must actually fight, and as often as possible. Otherwise you are fooling yourself.
There is an old saying from Himalaya:
It is impossible to learn swimming in an empty pool by imitating the moves of swimmers.

Well said.

If I actually fought, as often as possible, I'd be spending my life in the hospital or in jail.

Perhaps not getting into bar fights eery week-end but if you're learning martial art swith the intention of surviving an actual fight you need to train in an environment that mimic's what you would find 'on the street' as cliche as that saying is.

Kevin Leavitt
03-06-2009, 11:23 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sp1WNUThJ9E

Sorry the link got dropped some how

Kevin Leavitt
03-06-2009, 11:47 AM
I look at it this way, let's say i'm faced with someone twice my size that wants to dismember me. If I try to overcome him with force and speed, I WILL lose. He may also be trained in martial arts, so depending on his training if I try to overcome him with martial strategy, I will probably still lose. So, any attempt by me to "overcome" him will probably result in my own dismemberment. That, I consider to be fighting. However, through Aikido, I believe it is possible to survive, I won't win, but I will survive. That's not fighting. If I am proficient enough, I can execute an Aikido technique well enough so that I don't receive his attack. Consider an irimi movement. Even if you practice against someone who is REALLY REALLY trying to hit you, it is possible to just move past them without getting hit. There, no fighting. So, to sum it up, I think that one can say that Aikido is not about fighting, because the focus is not on overcoming or subduing and attacker; that's kind of bonus.

When it's raining, you won't stay dry by fighting the clouds.

Hey John, I think I understand your definition of "fighting". thanks for defining it.

I would agree that if you are in a position of relative weakness to your opponent pushing back and pulling and trying to overpower, use strength, speed, and stress is not probably going to help you. I think that is what you define as "fighting". It is what I would call "struggling".

Semantics are always difficult on the internet.

How I look at fighting might be a little different. To me it is being involved in a situation of physical violence where someone or persons is intent on hurting or killing you physically.

We can discuss the "mental fight" and how aikido applies philosophically and conditions us to deal with the full spectrum of conflict resolution, and I sincerely believe that it does.

But, at the root of all of this martial arts really is about a physical practice of dealing with violent force...or fighting.

Absolutely, you need to develop skills and strategy to be successful.

Again, it may be semantics...you say "just survive", I say "win". IMM, "just surviving" is not a good mentality to adopt when you are concerned with fights of a physical nature...you pyschologically need to be prepared to win applying your skill as appropriate to the situation.

We can discuss the ethics of CR win/win, lose/win, lose/lose, win/lose and which one is ideal, but normally your opponent is not really concerned with the ethics of the situation (assuming that he made the choice to fight you and you are not a willing pariticipant and have no option.)

To me, you are either in a fight, or you are not. If you are not, then you are not. If you are, well then you are.

Up until the point that you have no choice you have choice. You have choice to disengage and negoitiate, walk away, are any other type of non-violent action you may choose.

However once you are in the fight, that choice has been taken from you, unless you choose to simply be a pacifist, which is an option, and continue to deal with the situation in a non-violent manner.

If you make this choice, which can be a good and noble one, then you will live or die within the will or desire of your opponent and he will make the choices concerning your well being.

If you choose to engage in the fight...then you are fighting. If you intent is to minimize damage to yourself, protect others, then they become your primary concern. You are fighting to prevail and to win...not "just to survive".

I suppose there could be an in between in which you try to control the situation to minimize damage to yourself and the other guy, but in reality I think this complicated as there are so many variables that you cannot control, and you are trying to apply ethics and "build the fight as you fight", which is not "no mind" really and puts you on the losing end, or at least I think the choice is in your opponents hands, which means you have no choice really!

So, I think it is important to strive to win.

Winning does not mean "at all cost". but I think it is more than "just surviving". Winning to me is me controlling the fight. I am calling the majority of the shots and I am protecting myself while controlling the actions of my opponent. I have a choice and an ethical responsibility to use appropriate force, but again, I am the guy making that choice....not my opponent for me.

Again, I understand it is semantics in many, many cases. I hope this explains the concepts I like to uses.

I think it is important to discuss and put in the proper perspective. Winning is not a dirty word and we don't need to relegate ourselves to "just enough to survive". I think that mentality will guarantee our choices will be taken from us.

Personally me, I WANT to overcome and overwhelm my opponent. I want to take away his options and dictate the rules of the fight. Once I am in control, I can choose to return to him whatever I deem necessary morally and ethically. Done right, we can show both strength, power, and compassion.

mathewjgano
03-06-2009, 11:47 AM
Perhaps not getting into bar fights eery week-end but if you're learning martial art swith the intention of surviving an actual fight you need to train in an environment that mimic's what you would find 'on the street' as cliche as that saying is.

It's an odds game. We cannot mimic "da street," so we approximate to the degree we see fit, based on a series of priorities, most of which have nothing to do with fisticuffs. Regardless of how well our physical training is, self-defense begins and ends with mind-set. An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of tested kokyu and for me that puts the physical training itself in a relatively less important light...though i don't want to diminish its relevancy. I've been in situations where prevention wasn't readily available and those moments certainly demand a lot (coincidentally i got lucky), so i understand where you're coming from I think.

CitoMaramba
03-06-2009, 01:29 PM
Sun Tzu wrote this about 30 centuries ago:

Aikido is about attacking the enemy's plan. What is the enemy's plan? --Simply speaking -- to pick a fight. What is the strategy against that plan? To funnel aggression into not letting him have one -- divide him against himself -- because he won't give up wanting the fight.



I have often thought that Aikido is an individual expression of the concepts contained in Sun Tzu's "Art of War"..

Erick Mead
03-06-2009, 03:19 PM
But, at the root of all of this martial arts really is about a physical practice of dealing with violent force...or fighting. ...

We can discuss the ethics of CR win/win, lose/win, lose/lose, win/lose and which one is ideal, but normally your opponent is not really concerned with the ethics of the situation (assuming that he made the choice to fight you and you are not a willing pariticipant and have no option.)

To me, you are either in a fight, or you are not. If you are not, then you are not. If you are, well then you are.

Up until the point that you have no choice you have choice. You have choice to disengage and negoitiate, walk away, are any other type of non-violent action you may choose.

However once you are in the fight, that choice has been taken from you, unless you choose to simply be a pacifist, which is an option, and continue to deal with the situation in a non-violent manner. Thanks for posting the video --my earlier point about the kiriotoshi is plainly shown in the video at :30- :45.

The point that I suppose that I disagree with in your above statement is this: You still have a choice and it can never be taken away. That choice is -- whether you respond physically or not -- to destroy or to allow the mind of contention to arise in yourself. One can easily kill with or without the mind of contention arising. But if the mind of contention does not arise, then you may not need to.

It is a question of the nature of the evils at issue and how to order them in proper relation. Violence is an evil without qualification. It can produce nothing that is objectively good. Good cannot destroy evil -- for good cannot destroy. Only an evil can destroy another evil -- for that is its nature. It is not unjust that a great evil should be destroyed by the lesser. The result is a lessening of evil. In this way an evil, such as violence may serve a just and useful purpose -- to defeat a greater evil. It may serve good by destroying an opposed evil, but an evil can never achieve any positive good itself, anymore than water can make something dry.

The goal in war is to defeat the will of the enemy, to destroy in him the mind of contention. People are never evil as such, only their will may be so. If necessary, destroying this will may entail destroying his body and his means of contending, but not necessarily. By first destroying through budo the mind of contention in myself, I am more likely to destroy it in my enemy by the least contentious means possible under the circumstances. If I succeed in this, only his contention -- and not mine -- will define the level of destruction we are about to engage in.

That is why, as I see it, Aikido is not "about fighting" -- but is about engaging with violence.

Kevin Leavitt
03-06-2009, 04:04 PM
Thanks Erick.

It kinda reminds me of the koan. Do no harm, stop harm.

I agree that you have choice of how you respond in a situation. You always have that.

What you don't have choice over is the fact that you are in the fight, nor can you choose the actions that your opponent will take.

So, okay....Aikido is not about fighting...for you...that does not mean that you won't be in a fight or face violence.

I am only hoping that folks are not using this budo philosophy as an means to reframe things martially into such an allegory that it loses the actual meaning of what it is we do.

I think this has happened alot in aikido though.

I think in many cases to the extent that we have alot of foks out there that believe they have an understanding of things that they really do not.

However, I want to point out that it is not my place to judge anyone. I am just stating an observation of what I have seen in aikido over the years.

graham
03-06-2009, 04:13 PM
I do not want to tell anyone what Aikido should be to them, or how to train. I only hope though, that many of you will reflect upon this topic and seriously consider, honestly what it is that we do when we do what we do, and maybe consider that aikido and/or budo should not be limited by your own perconceptions or paradigms about what you view as ideal or "comfortable". (Emphasis added)

Kevin, with respect, I wonder if it's not actually you who has limited or reframed aikido to fit your own perconceptions / paradigms.

That may actually be fine, but it seems to me that you have applied the core of aikido to meet your own needs.

Kevin Leavitt
03-06-2009, 04:38 PM
Actually Graham, that is a very good point. I think everyone does this and you are correct. I think there is nothing wrong with this at all...as long as you understand that this is what you are doing.

All of us have different goals and objectives and different learning abilities and learning curves.

I do think that it is a little more "honest" though to recognize that at the very core of irimi nage that we are in fact studying something that was designed to provide someone with some serious pain.

Certainly that is the far end of the spectrum. As I stated at least in one post...there is a full spectrum.

Any where from "break the wrist and walk away" to "blend with them and harmonize" If you will.

What I think is particularily dishonest and deluded is to visualize "picking flowers off the ground", or the fact that "we should always strive to not use full force or the violent end of the spectrum"

AND therefore, never study it..hence we never really understand it or possess the ability to use it AND do not really have the CHOICE to not use it...since we never could.

I can't pull up youtube at work to provide a link. But consider UFC 1 where Fred Ettish entered the ring and his only real ability to deal with what he was faced with was to go to the fetal position and protect himself.

Was that a choice he really had to use, or not use violence...or was that situation forced upon him by his opponent?

Ettish entered the ring with a paradigm and years of training as a black belt. I have to believe that he thought he would win or at the very least he had a fight plan. I don't believe it was the one he ended up invoking (Fetal fighitng).

The point is not really to discuss the UFC, or fightiing...only to use this as an example of why I think we need to be careful about the paradigms we establish for ourselves and constantly re-evaluate it.

I think aikido is particularly suspectable based on how we tend to practice and we have linked it to a philosophy as well.

There is nothing wrong with the philosophy and frankly it is why I study the art mainly.

However, it does lend us to develop a dogma that can cause us to choose to ignore certain things.

It's okay if you are not about develooping your martial skills to the point that you can enter the UFC.

Aikido has the goal of perfecting self and understanding the nature of violence I think through a very unique process.

However we have to be careful to look at the root of what it is that we are doing and to be honest as we can when we do that.

You can put lipstick on a pig.....

Kotegaeshi is about disarming and breaking. There is no way around it. It is a wonderful teaching tool to explore many principles. On one end we can practice being "martially effective" with it and uses quick force and power to break the wrist in a very brutal manner. On the other end, we can explore the principle of movement associated with uke's responses to avoid violence or to change it.

What we must do, I think is recognize the root of why we are practicing this, and to do it with no preconcieved notion of how or when we might use this in reality or not and simply explore the range of what it presents and can be.

That is all I am really saying. Don't get dogmatic and dismiss things simply because of your oaradigms...explore them.

graham
03-06-2009, 04:45 PM
Thanks for your response, Kevin.

I've gotta dash, because I've got a screaming baby. But I thought I'd mention that I just read your signature. Hmmm... maybe you've got me there! :D

Erick Mead
03-06-2009, 04:55 PM
What you don't have choice over is the fact that you are in the fight, nor can you choose the actions that your opponent will take.

So, okay....Aikido is not about fighting...for you...that does not mean that you won't be in a fight or face violence. True enough. And I agree that there does seem to be a certain level of delusion among those drawn to aikido and to martial arts generally in their more contemplative aspects well outside of aikido. "Not contending" in my own mind has no bearing on what the other guy is doing or will do. I think this common delusion to the contrary that somehow one will radiate peace and calm and fuzzy-bunny affection to quell the wicked into submission, is romantic, queasily saccharine --- and very, very wrong. But it is simply a confusion of means and ends -- causes for effects.

Who says the Japanese have all the good budo lines? My ancestors had a phrase-- "Cut and be damned!" Fight or no fight, win or no win, salvation or no salvation, above all -- cut. While I train to stop contending -- I never train to stop cutting. "Fighting" is a state of mind (and is present irrespective of actual physical confrontation and just as bad or worse in non-violent settings). The passive-aggressive types may be drawn to aikido because it speaks particularly to their needed corrective, though perhaps unconsciously. Heck, I even hear tell hospitals have sick people in 'em.

The purity of simple action once engaged in violence is something else, something done, but not really to be grasped at. There is a certain kind of joy in the purity of the destructive act that is unmediated by any prospect of "success." The world's dramatic literature is replete with recognition of its terrible beauty. Psychopaths want to possess it, always and wherever they go, as we would a painting or memento, which is a poison .

What I am trying to get at in my description, (very poorly, no doubt) is that the aspect of the art that I think we are speaking of is intended to improve a perception of that actual joy we find in the precision and elegance of the act -- without provoking the lust for its possession or repetition that exists in the temporary psychopathic mode of "fighting."

Kevin Leavitt
03-06-2009, 05:11 PM
Good post Erick! LOL, yes indeed hospitals do have sick people in them!

Buck
03-06-2009, 10:29 PM
By the same token UFC is also theater play, stage drama with real blood for scene dressing. WWF also (WWE now, I guess), as a specific case in point. Romans had some rather elaborate plays in the Colosseum -- where the players died in the scene. Very definitely fighting and stage craft -- they are not exclusive.

But acknowledging the general validity of the observation in our current taste for theater, what sort of work is aikido? -- There is some worthwhile analogizing to indulge.

I see it as a play of manners, sometimes tongue in cheek, sometimes Ibsenesque, in its layered revealing of a bitter reality beneath the care and courtesy of formal observance.

I agree. UFC and no insult intended is entertainment for the masses. I am just glad we are not like the Romans.

FWIW, Rolling around in my head while I was responding back to Szczepan Janczuk was maybe people didn't understand that I did know what he meant by "theater play." I think I do, anyway. I mean its rehearsing scenarios of attacks and responses to those attacks. While this is true, it is also true that there are Aikido dojo's that practice for the art its self. Their goal is like any craftsmen or artist and that is to refine their skill to the highest level of ability. They don't care about fighting scenarios or that stuff at all. I am one of those types of people. Aikido isn't a combat art. Yea, sure it comes from that and if changes where made it could that again. I ask, then what is the point of that? You might as well take others arts that would fit the purpose just fine.

I don't particularly care personally to have a fighters lifestyle or mentality. I see Aikido as an art in life style and practice in my life. I do appreciate (of what I understand ) the philosophy. I am intrigued by all the stuff that gave birth to Aikido and all that of what brought O'Sensei to be the person he was. I make him a study. That is want interests me, and not fighting in a ring or a bar etc. to prove something. It isn't what I want out of life, or want to be. I have only one life. I don't want to live it proving that I can defeat another man in a human cock fight. Any way that type of life has a very small window with high risks. I don't want to spend my life fighting and being challenged to fights. It isn't what I want to do with my time personally.

Do I want to add other skills to my Aikido? No. I think Aikido is complete in the area of skills. Aikido techniques are based in techniques born out of some pretty fierce life and death combat. Aikido is an art that can be developed. Aikido is a plastic art. If I need to fight on the ground all I have to do is look at Aikido for that, because it is there. That isn't to say if I neglected that area of ground fighting then my Aikido would would fail if I found myself in a ground fight on the street with a person who wanted to wrestle me rather than stand there and kick the hell out of me with steel toed boots. More than likely most people I would face are not people who have wrestling skills. Instead it would be those who don't have such skill and make quick of the situation by kicking me, if they didn't shoot me first.

That would be true also if I neglect any other area of Aikido. All arts have soft areas, to cover those areas I would have to train in a dozen different sports, systems and arts. That isn't realistic for me. And isn't my philosophy of a well-rounded fighter. A well rounded fighter isn't just skilled in physical arts but the mental arts too. Such a person would put allot of effort in avoiding a fight, or not-fighting to win a fight- with a look, carries themselves etc. Street fighting also is an art. It is also a mental game.

For self-defense, Aikido is better than nothing , even if I am realistic about it or not. I take responsibility for my own skill and abilities. And there are other things that work for self-defense and self-protection, that are more current and specific to self-defense than Aikido. Aikido is good for self-defense technique wise, but it is how it is practiced etc. that is out-dated. Point is there are other systems that address the current issues and stuff, so Aikido doesn't have to something just for self-defense.

Aikido for me is an art. An art I practice as an art. I have no interest in using it to fight or use it as self-defense. My interest is in the process and benefits that result in all arts when you take them seriously.

Ketsan
03-07-2009, 10:37 AM
If you want to learn how to fight, you must actually fight, and as often as possible. Otherwise you are fooling yourself.
There is an old saying from Himalaya:
It is impossible to learn swimming in an empty pool by imitating the moves of swimmers.

So basically if it works in a fight then it's not Aikido.:D
Which solves my problem because I now know I'm not studying Aikido.

gdandscompserv
03-07-2009, 11:02 AM
So basically if it works in a fight then it's not Aikido.:D
Which solves my problem because I now know I'm not studying Aikido.
As you wish.:D

Kevin Leavitt
03-07-2009, 11:51 AM
Buck wrote:

That would be true also if I neglect any other area of Aikido. All arts have soft areas, to cover those areas I would have to train in a dozen different sports, systems and arts. That isn't realistic for me. And isn't my philosophy of a well-rounded fighter. A well rounded fighter isn't just skilled in physical arts but the mental arts too. Such a person would put allot of effort in avoiding a fight, or not-fighting to win a fight- with a look, carries themselves etc. Street fighting also is an art. It is also a mental game.

I agree that martially, there is much, much more than the physical, the mental and spiritual aspects are equally important.

Buck, how do you train for the mental aspects?

Buck
03-07-2009, 05:43 PM
Kevin,

The mental aspects the adrenaline dump, etc. I got my butt kicked allot by bullies as a kid. Later I got harassed and targeted by more intense bullies in all sorts of places. I guess it is experience. You experience something enough you get use to it. You adjust to it and then you can function in it. Hard Knocks? Or what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. :)

lbb
03-07-2009, 09:00 PM
The best training I ever got for stressful situations was a wilderness EMT course. That was one tough course. The instructors worked hard to create realistic scenarios, and the students were all pretty serious, with the result that when you got into a scenario, you really had that horrible sinking feeling in your stomach and thoughts of, "Omigod this person has bilateral femur fractures and he's all crumped up and maybe a spinal injury and he's screaming bloody murder and I have to DO SOMETHING and all I've got is a pocketknife and a pair of ski poles and I'm scared to death and I don't know what the hell I'm doing." There were a few specific techniques that they taught us for getting through the scenarios, but the number one thing was just doing that stressful training, over and over again. It was not a fun week.

I never got to where I didn't feel the stress -- I don't think anyone did, and I don't think that was the goal. The goal was to become familiar enough with functioning in a stressful environment that we could feel the stress, but not let it affect our performance. When the course finished, I still had a lot of doubts about whether I'd be able to function well in a real scenario, but our lead instructor -- the guy who had been ramrodding us all week, criticizing us, picking out every little fault -- said to the class with utmost confidence, "When you need to use it, you'll know what to do, and you'll be fine." As it turns out, he was absolutely right.

marlon10
03-10-2009, 08:25 AM
As a new student of Aikido who was drawn to this art because the very essence of the art was about tackling the issues required of a modern citizen, like conflict resolution, harmony with one’s self, our place in society, etc, It really surprises me how when I get on this forum how much time is dedicated to whether Aikido works or not in a real fight. Inevitably even if the thread starts out with good intentions it always regresses to this old argument.

I’m sorry but most of us do not have to deal with what Kevin have to deal with. I would say 90% of us have never been touched by “Real Violence”, like rape, muggings, pointless attacks. So to devote so much time to preparing for something that may never ever happen in your lifetime is really crazy. Now please hear me out with the point I am trying to make.

Aikido should be about character and spiritual development through the vehicle of learning how to perform technical motor skills that can be used to defend one’s self in the case of an attack. This self-development should be every Aikido students primary goal. Period.

Learning how to fight or defend yourself for that purpose alone will get you killed. Has anyone here heard of the word retaliation? It happens all the time in the inner cities all around this great country of ours.

So you may be the best Mixed Martial Artist in the world but if you defend against Joe Schmo today then his fellow gang member Bill Schmo will get you tomorrow. Now of course this is oversimplifying conflict but the point I am trying to make is that fighting and combat is a very complicated thing that cannot be solved in the confines of any system or style. Or for that matter a mixed system of styles.

Your best defense is awareness. So many people lack it and so it constantly gets overlooked. Aikido is about the development of self using the Martial Arts as a vehicle of self coordination.

Instead of spending so much time on whether Aikido works in fights or not why don’t you all talk about things that you know works like avoiding dark streets alone or learning how to recognize an impending attack. What about learning how to spot someone at the bar who is sizing you up for an ambush when you walk outside at the end of the night just because your having a ton of fun and he is depressed because life isn’t going well. Believe me these things happen, but so many people wouldn’t recognize that because their idea of a fight is two people squaring off taking your favorite Bruce Lee stance.

Demetrio Cereijo
03-10-2009, 08:48 AM
Very good point.
Aikido should be about character and spiritual development through the vehicle of learning how to perform technical motor skills that can be used to defend one's self in the case of an attack. This self-development should be every Aikido students primary goal. Period.

But....

If you are not learning how to perform technical motor skills that can be used to defend one's self in the case of an attack, are you practising Aikido as a method for character and spiritual developement or are you practising another thing that doesn't lead to character and spiritual developement?.

If Aikido is misogi (I think it is), then you have to put yourself under cold water waterfalls, not into a warm jacuzzi.

NagaBaba
03-10-2009, 09:10 AM
If Aikido is misogi (I think it is), then you have to put yourself under cold water waterfalls, not into a warm jacuzzi.
Misogi training is not limited to cold water waterfalls, it is only one, and not most important possibility(form). In fact, ideally you practice misogi in every minute of your life, in different forms of course :)

philippe willaume
03-10-2009, 09:39 AM
Hello
Why is it that there has to be an absolute truth? I would propose that aiki-fluffy and uruk-aiki are not mutually exclusive.

If one is so inclined to train in a martial way, it does not prevent another to train in a spiritual way.
There is really no need for a single way that will save us all
Practicing one way or the other will not really lead any of us to have to play bridge with Asmodeus, Lieviathan and Lilith every Friday night until the ends of time or cancel our reservation at Odin’s banquet, will it?

I believe that not practicing with either camp is detrimental as either side has something to bring to the other.
So as long as no child or animal is harmed during the making of the movie, “chacun son gout”.

Phil

lbb
03-10-2009, 12:59 PM
Misogi training is not limited to cold water waterfalls, it is only one, and not most important possibility(form). In fact, ideally you practice misogi in every minute of your life, in different forms of course :)

IIRC misogi means cleansing or purification; it doesn't mean stoicism or suffering or even denial, per se. Water is considered a purifying element, so naturally standing under a cold waterfall could be misogi; on the other hand, it could not be, if done in the spirit of, "Wow, see how tough I am," or "I bet I can last longer than those other people!" or "Jeez I hate this, this is stupid, but everyone else is doing it so I guess I gotta." Likewise, there are obviously many other actions that can be misogi, and discomfort is not a required element.

I would disagree, though, that it's possible to "practice misogi in every minute of your life". To be in a state of constant purification seems like a contradiction in terms to me.

Kevin Leavitt
03-11-2009, 12:17 AM
Good points Mary! Not everything needs to be a huge suckfest or gut check, although I think a certain amount of hardwork, blood and sweat needs to be shed to understand misogi.

I think Yoga is a good example. If practiced correctly it can be challenging and hard and be a misogi without having to be a pointless hazing gut check.

Kevin Leavitt
03-11-2009, 12:29 AM
Marlon wrote:

Aikido should be about character and spiritual development through the vehicle of learning how to perform technical motor skills that can be used to defend one's self in the case of an attack. This self-development should be every Aikido students primary goal. Period.

Sure, I have no issue with that.

However, in my observations, I have also seen the philosophy of aikido, which is the endstate (harmony/peace) to be interpreted as also the means to get there. We allow that to overtake our day to day practice and only practice those things that we think fit that purpose...the things that we feel good about.

It also becomes an excuse to allow us to accept less out of our training than we should, IMO.

Why can't aikido (good aikido) be holistic and comprehensive? With good instructors and leadership, students should be guided and challenged and provided a good, high quality training.

I consider myself a fairly spiritually and harmony driven person. Alot of that, I feel has come from the fact that I have trained hard, realistic, and I have sought to constantly challenge myself. I see the same in the people I study and work with and respect.

IMO, I think alot of this spiritual/harmony talk/philosophy that is offered up in aikido is simply used as a crutch that permits us to practice a form of mediocrity in many cases.

JimCooper
03-11-2009, 08:15 AM
So what does "Aikido is not about fighting really mean?"

I think you're getting a little hung up on definitions here :-)

There are a number of issues about the "aikido is not fighting" idea.

1. There are multiple definitions of the word, not just the one you chose

2. The idea comes from Ueshiba (and presumably further back than that), and he was this wacky old Japanese guy, who (a) spoke Japanese, not English, and the translation may therefore be not all that literal, and (b) tended not to speak in the clearest possible way at all times anyway

3. As you will have noticed from this thread, people tend to interpret his idea in a multitude of ways.

FWIW, my own view is that George is pretty much right on this. It's a technical instruction about what to do in a self defence situation.

Other martial arts say very similar things - don't meet force with force, sayings about being in a state of "no mind" etc.

If you have ever had coaching at a reasonably high level in any sport you will hear the same sorts of messages from coaches there too.

In any competition (be it a self defence situation or a game), the goal is to win. But you can't perform well if that is the focus you have in your mind while you're doing it - it's too abstract. You need to pay attention to the chair coming at your head, or where the ball is, and so on, and that's a totally different mindset.

So you need to have your mind in the fight, but not be thinking about the fact that you're fighting, if you see what I mean. You haven't got time for that.

I think it also means that relying on force to overcome force is a bad idea - especially if you're a wacky little old Japanese guy :-)

I don't think it is a licence to avoid training for self defence, as then I don't think you're really doing a martial art. However, almost all dojo for any art pay little attention to self defence, IME.


Do you really think you could have handled this guy?:


Scary, huh?

But fear of situations like that shouldn't mean you focus only on self defence. How often is that sort of thing realistically going to happen to you?

There are other benefits to martial arts training besides handling violence, and they shouldn't be neglected either. And perhaps Ueshiba meant that too.

Bob Blackburn
03-11-2009, 08:31 AM
IMO, I think alot of this spiritual/harmony talk/philosophy that is offered up in aikido is simply used as a crutch that permits us to practice a form of mediocrity in many cases.

I second that.

One of my favorite quotes is "Only a warrior can choose pacifism, all others are condemned to it."

Hard training improves the physical, mental and spiritual aspects.

lbb
03-11-2009, 08:57 AM
Good points Mary! Not everything needs to be a huge suckfest or gut check, although I think a certain amount of hardwork, blood and sweat needs to be shed to understand misogi..

I guess I'd go with "hard work" in one sense, and "sweat" in a metaphorical sense. Misogi is purification; purification is ridding oneself of that which is undesirable. That may be sloth, in which case you're talking literal sweat; it may be the habits of a lazy and undisciplined mind, in which case you're talking about turning off the idiot box. I see it as a process of self-examination, challenge and change (and commitment to change). I don't see that blood has to come into it, ever; that's a side effect, not a core ingredient.

Erick Mead
03-11-2009, 10:01 AM
Do you really think you could have handled this guy?: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article5851343.ece
Scary, huh?

But fear of situations like that shouldn't mean you focus only on self defence. How often is that sort of thing realistically going to happen to you?

There are other benefits to martial arts training besides handling violence, and they shouldn't be neglected either. And perhaps Ueshiba meant that too.

Not only handling violence once enacted, but minimizing or avoiding its wholly predictable occurrence. I reread the story thinking about this, actually, and the simple fact is that I doubt that the poor victim realized what "fighting" really meant -- whereas the signs to one who has carefully considered what "fighting" and "not-fighting" mean in a martial context would instinctually have been getting cues of much greater caution with this guy -- his attitude was not subtle -- nor remotely concealing in what he was about. It is not the victim's fault -- but he was plainly utterly unaware of the danger his minor provocation was highly likely to create... Bishop, ... habitually carried knives, lashed out in revenge after an earlier incident. ... refused to return to court to [face accusers] ... swaggered into court smiling ... was heard to giggle. ... stood impatiently in the dock and smirked as he was sentenced ... ...told to take him down, Bishop, ... bowed his head in acknowledgement and left. ... "His body language was disgusting... Psychologically brittle, brash, and overcompensating people are by far the most dangerous to the careless and untrained -- and the easiest to avoid for those with only a modicum of training and care. Remotely attentive third or fourth kyus under competent instruction should see this guy a mile off and never let him engage -- or allow themselves to provoke him.

It is very sad, but the lack of martial awareness in this setting prevented a step-down from a predictable escalation in a meaningless personal conflict that could have just as easily been seen and avoided. The martial solution in this setting was, plainly, NOT fighting, but instead, not-fighting -- which is still very much a form of active, martial engagement, but the opponent is not aware of, nor reactive to it.

Buck
03-11-2009, 03:45 PM
I don't know Erick if it is that easy to spot. :) One guy was stab in England in a stair-well , and the killer was masked, waiting for the victim. I understand there is truth to what you are saying. But, I guess in England there is a real problem with youth using knives to kill and stab. To me, it sounds like the killers are pretty sophisticated with there attacks.

A situation where criminals hone their malicious craft. I think you got to look at that too, take that also into consideration. Basically, am adding that you got to keep your awareness sharp and on game.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article4318934.ece

mathewjgano
03-11-2009, 05:35 PM
IMO, I think alot of this spiritual/harmony talk/philosophy that is offered up in aikido is simply used as a crutch that permits us to practice a form of mediocrity in many cases.
I feel sure it is...just as I feel sure the "fight-ability" rhetoric does the same for many other people. On its own, the not-fighting rhetoric certainly takes emphasis away from the concept of "fight-ability." It is up to the individual to find a balance that fits with his or her goals in life. I get why so many people caution against naive idealism when the topic of not-fighting comes up, but I do wonder sometimes why some folks seem to think the warning against this kind of rhetoric is automatically more important than the rhetoric itself.

Jeffrey Tanaka
03-11-2009, 07:02 PM
I've been lurking on this website for years but only now, as a relative newbie, have gotten the courage to post. So here it goes. My first post.

I once read that one of the qualities of Mystics is a grasp of paradox, paradox being a concept which seems contradictory yet is true. I believe O Sensei had a grasp of one particular paradox, learning to fight to learn not to fight.

Aikido for me IS a system for fighting (per Sensei Leavitt). It is a system to deal with conflict at the time conflict is happening using specific physical techniques and mechanics. Because of my adversity to getting smacked, I currently concentrate on the mechanics of these techniques more than any philosophy.

However, even as a beginner, I recognize there are higher concepts contained within each of these techniques and Aikido as a whole. One of these concepts being non-resistance and harmony.

There are some who may be able to learn both technique and philosophy at the same time. Myself being a remedial Aikidoka and an even worse philosopher, it takes ALL my energy to not get punched, thrown or kicked and leaves very little energy to think about non-conflict and extending Ki.

I'd like to think however that it's a process. That hopefully one day I might have grasped technique enought to concentrate on these other aspects. I study form to one day be formless. I think constantly about Aikido so that one day I don't think. I learn to fight to one day learn not to fight. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. Oops, sorry, wrong Mystic.:)

Well, you get my point... although a point is actually a small circle which is an infinite number of points, which really has no one point, which brings me to my original point, which is I have none.:)

Gotta love them paradoxes.

Jeff

Erick Mead
03-11-2009, 07:32 PM
I don't know Erick if it is that easy to spot. :) One guy was stab in England in a stair-well , and the killer was masked, waiting for the victim. I understand there is truth to what you are saying. But, I guess in England there is a real problem with youth using knives to kill and stab. To me, it sounds like the killers are pretty sophisticated with there attacks. Not the guy described in the story. He was a slouching, lurching mass of screaming tells. He was "provoked" or his fragile ego deemed himself so, and he wanted EVERYBODY to know it.

I don't diminish the risk of the ambush attacker in a basically disarmed society -- but that was not the story. Moreover, the attitude of "not-fighting" makes one MORE aware of incipient threat than not.

The question of disarming law-abiding citizens and the consequences to polite society of a legally disarmed society is a conversation for another thread.

Erick Mead
03-11-2009, 07:38 PM
I feel sure it is...just as I feel sure the "fight-ability" rhetoric does the same for many other people. On its own, the not-fighting rhetoric certainly takes emphasis away from the concept of "fight-ability."To me they are not different. "Not-fighting" attitude is essentially fudoshin, a mind unmoved by threat. One cannot fight well without fudoshin.

Kevin Leavitt
03-11-2009, 10:41 PM
I think Stephen Covey actually describes my philosophy quite well, and I think it sums up aikido very well in western terms.

We have a circle of concern and a circle of influence. Our circle of influence is smaller and contained within our circle of concern. We can only control those things that are within the circle of influence. If we try and control those things in our circle of concern, we ignore the things that are within our circle of incfluence and we will have problems.

However, if we take care of our circle of influence and let go of the things that we are also concerned about, we can EXPAND our circle of influence gradually and skillfully. Therefore, (hopefully) decreasing our concern.

He also talks about stimulus, response and choice. We cannot always control the stimulus, but we do have a choice, regardless of how small it may be. It may be so small that we cannot even see or identify it, but it is there. through gaining skill we can increase the choices that we have. Once we recognize that we have choices, then usually their is also peace and accord that will come with that, a calming of the mind.

So, to me it is clear that we owe it to ourselves to train hard, realistic, and to gain real skill. As we grow to understand our skill and get to know ourselves and what we can and cannot do, we can begin to expand our circle of influence.

It really has nothing to do with self defense outright, IMO, but simply skill. That skill maybe applied in many ways to include self defense.

I think fudoshin speaks to this as once we can look at things honestly well then we can truely see it for what it is and approach the situation in a more skillful way that may also be done with no mind as well (mushin).

oh, yea, that is the first time any ever called me sensei. Sorry but I really don't identify or have the right to that title, please call me by my name if you don't mind. Thanks and welcome to aikiweb!

mathewjgano
03-11-2009, 10:48 PM
To me they are not different. "Not-fighting" attitude is essentially fudoshin, a mind unmoved by threat. One cannot fight well without fudoshin.

I agree the attitude is much the same...and fudoshin does sound a lot like what I'm trying to describe when I use the "not-fight" terminology. I'm assuming you mean something other than simply being fearless.
Aikido is many things to many people so I hope I don't sound too pretentious, but I would say the "Aikido is not about fighting" language can be rephrased to "Aikido's basic ideal is about not-fighting." When a superior force is enacted upon us, we act in accordance with it rather than waste energy working against it, ideally, but we also do so with purpose, exerting our own superior forces in equally undeniable ways.

Kevin Leavitt
03-11-2009, 11:01 PM
Hey Matt, to follow up on the concept of fear and how I kinda see it.

We typically fear those things that are in our circle of concern that we cannot control. In that since fear is pretty irrational when you look at it that way.

But of course, as humans that think, we believe if we worry about something, think about it enough, then we can fix it.

What that fear does is drive us to do the most irrational things, eat till we get fat, lose sleep, lash out wildly etc.

These things adversely impact our circle of influence and may even cause it to shrink rather than grow.

What we need to do is recognize those things that we cannot control. Let go of them and work on expanding our inner circle.

Sleeping, eating right, taking care of ourselves, spending time doing the things we can do..well they all cause us to grow and therefore we increase our abilities to expand our circle, which in effect lessens are fears and calms our mind more.

Erick Mead
03-12-2009, 12:17 AM
I agree the attitude is much the same...and fudoshin does sound a lot like what I'm trying to describe when I use the "not-fight" terminology. I'm assuming you mean something other than simply being fearless.Fudo Myo-o is the Immovable Wisdom King. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/26/Okunoin_FudoMyoo.JPG

The image is a being, angry at delusion, yet seated calmly amongst rising flames, with a rope to bind passions and a sword to cut off material attachments.

mathewjgano
03-12-2009, 10:59 AM
Hey Matt, to follow up on the concept of fear and how I kinda see it.

We typically fear those things that are in our circle of concern that we cannot control. In that since fear is pretty irrational when you look at it that way.

But of course, as humans that think, we believe if we worry about something, think about it enough, then we can fix it.

What that fear does is drive us to do the most irrational things, eat till we get fat, lose sleep, lash out wildly etc.

These things adversely impact our circle of influence and may even cause it to shrink rather than grow.

What we need to do is recognize those things that we cannot control. Let go of them and work on expanding our inner circle.

Sleeping, eating right, taking care of ourselves, spending time doing the things we can do..well they all cause us to grow and therefore we increase our abilities to expand our circle, which in effect lessens are fears and calms our mind more.
Nicely said! This certainly matches my own experiences with fear. Whenever I have focused on treating myself well (not simply indulging in pleasurable/fun/whatever things to cover the fear), those have been the times I saw my fears suddenly evaporate. It's very Aikido-like in that in many cases I had to look past the point of contention in order to find a solution. Fear is that proverbial finger pointing to the moon, except that sometimes, for some of us, it's a flashing neon finger so it's damned hard to look past it to what it's pointing toward.
One of the biggest fear relates I have has to do with my experiences learning to ski. I remember a very vivid experience where I decided to try my first black diamond run. From the chairlift the hill didn't look so bad, but once I was over the lip into the chute itself, I became suddenly afraid. What happened? I put my skis perpendicular to the fall-line and stopped skiing and started slowly sliding sideways down the hill. My uncle pointed out that my fear was causing me to hesitate (the few turns I tried were very awkward, reinforcing my fear) and what I needed to do was simply point my skis down hill and focus on skiing. I did it. I did not fall once down the rest of that hill and ever since, that has been the memory that comes to mind when I see myself hesitating. It's not the fear that causes problems, it's the frantic or hesitating state of mind it can produce.
On a personal side-note, it's interesting how new fears arise too. I'm going to be a dad this summer and all I can say is the immensely happy excitement I'm feeling has definately been punctuated by serious fears. Fortunately, as you described, I've been working on tying up some loose ends in my life so those moments of fear are more rational than I suspect they would be otherwise. In these cases the fear serves as motivation to grow instead of hesitation to act (and thus hesitation to grow).

mathewjgano
03-12-2009, 11:05 AM
Fudo Myo-o is the Immovable Wisdom King. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/26/Okunoin_FudoMyoo.JPG

The image is a being, angry at delusion, yet seated calmly amongst rising flames, with a rope to bind passions and a sword to cut off material attachments.

I like that. The imagery is right up my alley too, so I may have to have a new avatar soon! Thanks for the reference, Erick.

George S. Ledyard
03-12-2009, 12:28 PM
Ok, I will make another attempt at this. It may or may not make sense to people. What I will say is this... don't let your own level and your own experience define what you think the art is. Get out and train with some folks who operate on the highest levels.

Aikido is not about "fighting" it is about "joining". O-Sensei was quite clear about this. There is no separation between you and your "opponent". In fact, if you really get this, there is no opponent. O-Sensei specifically said that in the instant you think about "fighting" you are defeated already.

In the thread about 'speed" I talked about Saotome Sensei. Sensei doesn't "fight" with you. He does not "contend", he does not "defend". He accepts an attack. He joins with it. This takes place before the attacker even starts moving. On a psychic level, Sensei is ALREADY in before the physical attack commences. This is precisely what Ushiro Sensei talked about at length.

Training in Aikido is fundamentally about ridding ourselves of the "mind of contention". It is only by doing this that you can get to the highest levels of martial skill. "Fighting" is relatively low level. You have to reset your Default Settings to get beyond that.

Aikido is about the study of connection. It is the job of our training to delve deeper and deeper into this study. "Fighting" and the "fighting mind" are essentially separating concepts, they push things apart. The mind of connection, the mind of no contending brings things together.

The fighting mind is totally limited. After a certain point you cannot continue to progress with that kind of thinking. And certainly, if you want to consider the benefits to ones own life that accrue from training, the "fighting" mind offers little useful application in daily life. The mind of connection and non-contention is far more useful in human relationships than fighting.

People often attempt to reevaluate the Founder and his art, leaving out those things which they don't understand. His believe that Budo is Love is quite simply the paradigm from which most people operate. Because they don't understand what is meant, they tend to reduce the art to the level of their own understanding rather than work to develop a training that raises them up to the level shown by the Founder.

I have trained with teachers who so amazing that in a previous time they'd have been burned at the stake as minions of Satan. What they can do is not magic but it certainly is "magical". Not a single one of them thinks that the point of what they are doing is "fighting". In fact each of them specifically says that what he is doing is NOT "fighting".

If you don't get this, then think of it as a Koan that your training will help you understand rather than staying at such a limited and fear based level as "fighting". Try to change your training to reveal this truth rather than structuring your training simply to make you a better fighter.

"Fighting" isn't transformative normally. It is how we are programmed already. To change ourselves we need to shift the paradigm. Aikido was designed to do that but you have to want it to be that and train with that in mind. Otherwise the art simply assumes the limitations of its practitioners and ends up being nothing like what the Founder intended.

mathewjgano
03-12-2009, 01:07 PM
Ok, I will make another attempt at this. It may or may not make sense to people. What I will say is this... don't let your own level and your own experience define what you think the art is. Get out and train with some folks who operate on the highest levels...Otherwise the art simply assumes the limitations of its practitioners and ends up being nothing like what the Founder intended.

That's a good point, and also a bit of a paradox since it's somewhat impossible to view the art through something other than my own current understanding of it. Still, it's necessary to try for all the reasons you described above.
One point I would like to make too is that I have a hard time finding terms that everyone can agree with. Anytime I use the word "fight" to describe something I'm trying to do in Aikido, I'm uncomfortable with my own language, but I use it because I think it's more straightforward to some people. I suppose that's a form of laziness on my part though, because truely I'm not interested in the ability to fight, even when in the middle of being attacked. I'm interested in reaching my goals without having to contend for them.
Thank you Ledyard Sensei. As usual, very nice post.
Take care,
Matthew

observer
03-12-2009, 01:32 PM
Aikido is not about "fighting" it is about "joining". O-Sensei was quite clear about this. There is no separation between you and your "opponent". In fact, if you really get this, there is no opponent. O-Sensei specifically said that in the instant you think about "fighting" you are defeated already.
So far, for me, aikido is still a Martial Art and is about dodging and killing in a blink of an eye. It is obvious that we do practice techniques dedicated to do it. Just judo development proved that it is possible to perform deadly techniques (throw on the head) in a safe way, by protecting a fall (throw on the back). Morihei Ueshiba created an art based on it - Power To Stop Violence.

kironin
03-12-2009, 02:29 PM
Aikido is not about "fighting" it is about "joining". O-Sensei was quite clear about this. There is no separation between you and your "opponent". In fact, if you really get this, there is no opponent. O-Sensei specifically said that in the instant you think about "fighting" you are defeated already.

In the thread about 'speed" I talked about Saotome Sensei. Sensei doesn't "fight" with you. He does not "contend", he does not "defend". He accepts an attack. He joins with it. This takes place before the attacker even starts moving. On a psychic level, Sensei is ALREADY in before the physical attack commences. This is precisely what Ushiro Sensei talked about at length.

Training in Aikido is fundamentally about ridding ourselves of the "mind of contention". It is only by doing this that you can get to the highest levels of martial skill. "Fighting" is relatively low level. You have to reset your Default Settings to get beyond that.

Aikido is about the study of connection. It is the job of our training to delve deeper and deeper into this study. "Fighting" and the "fighting mind" are essentially separating concepts, they push things apart. The mind of connection, the mind of no contending brings things together.

The fighting mind is totally limited. After a certain point you cannot continue to progress with that kind of thinking. And certainly, if you want to consider the benefits to ones own life that accrue from training, the "fighting" mind offers little useful application in daily life. The mind of connection and non-contention is far more useful in human relationships than fighting.


In his early books that focus on Aikido, Tohei Sensei discusses what he calls the "principle of non-dissension" at length for a reason.

I like your essay and grok what you are pointing out but I doubt it will get through to anyone that has not trodden down the road a ways. You are pushing at the limits of what a forum like this can communicate IMHO.

Niccolo Gallio
03-12-2009, 03:33 PM
So far, for me, aikido is still a Martial Art and is about dodging and killing in a blink of an eye. It is obvious that we do practice techniques dedicated to do it. Just judo development proved that it is possible to perform deadly techniques (throw on the head) in a safe way, by protecting a fall (throw on the back). Morihei Ueshiba created an art based on it - Power To Stop Violence.
I'm curious about what are the techniques in aikido that so obviously can "kill in the blink of an eye" and if O-Sensei or Tohei Sensei ever used the term "martial art" describing what they did.
To me "martial" means something related to Marte, and if we agree that Marte is the god of war then Aikido must be something war-related.
Marte was, in the beginning, also the god of fertility, so it may also be that Aikido is the art of love..

Keith Larman
03-12-2009, 03:35 PM
I remember watching a sensei of mine doing jiyuwaza years ago. I was out with a bad knee injury just watching from the sidelines. As I watched I realized that he was just smiling, moving, and seemed almost, well, "laissez faire" about it. He wasn't attacking, he wasn't reacting, he was just "there". No wasted movement, no extraneous fluff, just moving and the other fellas going down each and every time. The lines between action and reaction had gone away. And as I watched I realized he had each of the students attacking him completely controlled before they even moved -- they just didn't realize it yet. So action and reaction didn't seem sufficient to describe what I was seeing.

When it was his turn to attack his look changed dramatically. Strong, committed and highly focused attacks with a completely different feel. Fighting mind.

Then when it was his turn to throw again, voila, back into a weird altered state of consciousness. I remember thinking it was like he expanded somehow and filled the room.

Aiki.

I'm still trying to get a tiny glimpse of that myself.

observer
03-12-2009, 03:46 PM
I'm curious about what are the techniques in aikido that so obviously can "kill in the blink of an eye"
ikkyo
nikyo
sankyo
yonkyo
irimi-nage
kote-gaeshi
shiho-nage
juji-nage
kaiten-nage
ude-kime-nage
tenchi-nage
koshi-nage

Kevin Leavitt
03-12-2009, 04:25 PM
Ledyard Sensei (George),

I understand what you are saying. What I struggle with is the reductive thinking that occurs when you say budo=love.

I mean, how do you get to there without recognizing the holisitic process of conflict?

I mean if budo = love then why not just love? Why budo? With that reasoning there is no need for budo as I can reach this endstate through something like say yoga?

What essentially would be special about aikido as a form of budo that gets to love?

How do you see us working through this from your perspective?

I hope that makes sense!

I agree though that we must eliminate the "fight", but at some level we have to recognize and work with it and confront it...otherwise we are reducing it down way too early in the process and in my mind what is the point of budo as a way of transformation?

Niccolo Gallio
03-12-2009, 06:03 PM
ikkyo
nikyo
sankyo
yonkyo
irimi-nage
kote-gaeshi
shiho-nage
juji-nage
kaiten-nage
ude-kime-nage
tenchi-nage
koshi-nage
Ok thanks,
didn't know you can die from wrist pain..

philippe willaume
03-12-2009, 07:18 PM
Hello
Doe we need to have a single truth?
Yes the idea behind aikido is making you a better man and transcends the martial aspect, that being said it is as well maximum amount of damage for minimum effort.

Personally, I am not sure you can get one without the other, it is a little bit like the tea ceremony done with coffee because you don't like tea or may be horse riding on rocking horse because the actual animal is too scary.

Phil

George S. Ledyard
03-12-2009, 08:51 PM
Ledyard Sensei (George),

I understand what you are saying. What I struggle with is the reductive thinking that occurs when you say budo=love.

I mean, how do you get to there without recognizing the holisitic process of conflict?

I mean if budo = love then why not just love? Why budo? With that reasoning there is no need for budo as I can reach this endstate through something like say yoga?

What essentially would be special about aikido as a form of budo that gets to love?

How do you see us working through this from your perspective?

I hope that makes sense!

I agree though that we must eliminate the "fight", but at some level we have to recognize and work with it and confront it...otherwise we are reducing it down way too early in the process and in my mind what is the point of budo as a way of transformation?

That's what the practice is all about, I think... figuring out what he meant. Ushiro Sensei, the last time I trained with him, was saying something similar when he talked about striking. he said that you should have the feeling of love in the strike or something to that effect. The Systema folks talk about this as well. So when I read these words from the Founder, then I hear them directly from people who are light years ahead of me on the path, I fgure I should pay attention and not just write them off. I have no idea if what Ryabko is talking about is identical to what O-Sensei meant. Or if what Ushiro means is precisely the same thing. I'll leave that to folks who have the academic tools to make the comparison. But I hear what I take to be very similar themes repeating cross art, even cross culturally, coming from people whose skills are outrageous and whose characters are impressive and I figure I'll put some focus on it. I absolutely think that for us this is a Koan that we each solve individually through our practice. But I also think that a practice must be given that direction if it is to yield an answer to this kind of question. The folks who can't let go of the "fighting" paradigm will simply get good at that and that kind of practice won't ever yield an understanding of what O-Sensei and these other teachers mean.

Peter Goldsbury
03-12-2009, 09:08 PM
George,

I suspect that with Morihei Ueshiba, quite a lot hangs on the fact that the Japanese words 合 and 愛 both have the same sound: ai. So his discourses are full of 合気 and 愛気: both aiki. Whether this is a mere coincidence or a fact of deep spiritual significance will depend on what one thinks of the Japanese language.

In my experience, the closest I have been to what you are discussing is being uke for the late Yamaguchi Seigo.

PAG

George S. Ledyard
03-12-2009, 09:16 PM
Ledyard Sensei (George),

I understand what you are saying. What I struggle with is the reductive thinking that occurs when you say budo=love.

I mean, how do you get to there without recognizing the holisitic process of conflict?

I mean if budo = love then why not just love? Why budo? With that reasoning there is no need for budo as I can reach this endstate through something like say yoga?

What essentially would be special about aikido as a form of budo that gets to love?

How do you see us working through this from your perspective?

I hope that makes sense!

I agree though that we must eliminate the "fight", but at some level we have to recognize and work with it and confront it...otherwise we are reducing it down way too early in the process and in my mind what is the point of budo as a way of transformation?

Repost: the 15 minute editing rule, whose function I don't get, kept me from adding to my post above so here it is:

Hi Kevin,
That's what the practice is all about, I think... figuring out what he meant. Ushiro Sensei, the last time I trained with him, was saying something similar when he talked about striking. he said that you should have the feeling of love in the strike or something to that effect. The Systema folks talk about this as well. So when I read these words from the Founder, then I hear them directly from people who are light years ahead of me on the path, I figure I should pay attention and not just write them off. I have no idea if what Ryabko is talking about is identical to what O-Sensei meant. Or if what Ushiro means is precisely the same thing. I'll leave that to folks who have the academic tools to make the comparison. But I hear what I take to be very similar themes repeating cross art, even cross culturally, coming from people whose skills are outrageous and whose characters are impressive and I figure I'll put some focus on it. I absolutely think that for us this is a Koan that we each solve individually through our practice. But I also think that a practice must be given that direction if it is to yield an answer to this kind of question. The folks who can't let go of the "fighting" paradigm will simply get good at that and that kind of practice won't ever yield an understanding of what O-Sensei and these other teachers mean.

That said, I think that there is nothing wrong with attention to martial effectiveness. That is part of the checks and balances. If you think you understand something, you have to be able to do it or you don't understand it. I now you train with Ikeda Sensei and Saotome Sensei with some frequency. Both of these men are ferocious martial artists. But they don't "fight". The closest thing you'll get to is when Saotome Sensei does his "dark side" work which is pretty much all about going to the center and destroying the attacker. But of course, even when we are doing that practice, the intention is different. We aren't fighting, we are facilitating each others learning. I've done whole classes with him in which the technique was all potentially destructive in the extreme but the end effect was exhilarating, providing a heightened state of awareness and connection and no one was hurt at all. I mean, I am doing this with my friends...

So it's interesting to see that it is not necessary or even desirable to have the "fighting mind" even when practicing techniques that would be of use in fighting. As I mentioned before, not one of the teachers with whom I have trained has said that "fighting" was the point of the art. Not Ushiro, not Kuroda, not Saotome, not Vasiliev or Ryabko, not one. Their teachings are remarkably similar to those of the Founder on this issue. And these guys are off the charts skill wise. So maybe we should listen and perhaps find that the highest level of fighting skill doesn't come by "fighting" but rather by getting past our limitations which cause us to have the fighting mind.

PS Ushiro Sensei talks about the need to "spar" in order to develop a deep understanding in ones body of the principles discovered through kata training. I think it is useful to think about what he means by sparring, because I am quite sure it isn't "fighting" in the way we usually mean it.

In Aikido we don't normally "spar" as a formal practice. It would be my take on it that Randori work with multiple attackers fills that bill to a large extent if done well. Anyway, it's just my thought on it.

George S. Ledyard
03-12-2009, 09:35 PM
George,

I suspect that with Morihei Ueshiba, quite a lot hangs on the fact that the Japanese words 合 and 愛 both have the same sound: ai. So his discourses are full of 合気 and 愛気: both aiki. Whether this is a mere coincidence or a fact of deep spiritual significance will depend on what one thinks of the Japanese language.

In my experience, the closest I have been to what you are discussing is being uke for the late Yamaguchi Seigo.

PAG

Actually, Peter, the shade of meaning this word has seems. across the board, to mean some sort of attractive rather than repulsive energy. O-Sensei made various statements about "AI" being the energetic force that tied things in the universe together. When I have trained with Ushiro Sensei he specifically talked about the energy of a strike with "love" and my impression was that this also was meant in the same way as an attractive rather than repulsive force. Of course the experience of being struck might not feel so lovable. But my impression from training with him and reading his book is that "connection" isn't just neutral but rather a positive force and O-Sensei's use of Ai in his writings on martial technique seems to fit with this.

The Systema folks also play with this idea when they do their work. "Connection" at least at the level these guys are talking about, seems to require a positive, if not benign aspect rather than destructive emotional state. Of course, the "Koan work" gets a bit challenging when Vlad hits you with "love", smiling all the time, and you feel as if you got nuked... It definitely creates a weird disconnect in your mind. But the difference between that and when someone hits you with the normal intention of a standard punch is so dramatic, it makes you think...

Buck
03-12-2009, 09:49 PM
George,

I suspect that with Morihei Ueshiba, quite a lot hangs on the fact that the Japanese words 合 and 愛 both have the same sound: ai. So his discourses are full of 合気 and 愛気: both aiki. Whether this is a mere coincidence or a fact of deep spiritual significance will depend on what one thinks of the Japanese language.

In my experience, the closest I have been to what you are discussing is being uke for the late Yamaguchi Seigo.

PAG

Peter if you would provide your expertise please on this. Ya know, tell me if I am on or off target. 1. 合気 is the standard way of aiki frequently used in Japanese martial arts writings from way back to today? Is it specific to general budo writing? 2. 愛気 How is this used and how frequent and in what time of writings/publications does this come up in outside of Aikido? Is this the standard often use in budo general? And what is the difference in definition between 合 and 愛 ?

observer
03-13-2009, 01:05 AM
Ok thanks,
didn't know you can die from wrist pain..
Actually, I am serious, and I just have a different point of view on the subject. By the way, you perform a wrist pin not to cause a pain, but to change your opponent's focus (ki). It will let you finish the technique, and every technique has the same meaning - "up" and "down". You see, there is no fighting if your opponent is incapacitated within the first few seconds of the altercation. In a real life situation If you are attacked, you are supposed to evade, until the moment that physical contact is imminent. The perfect way to practice it is randori.

Niccolo Gallio
03-13-2009, 02:53 AM
Actually, I am serious, and I just have a different point of view on the subject. By the way, you perform a wrist pin not to cause a pain, but to change your opponent's focus (ki). It will let you finish the technique, and every technique has the same meaning - "up" and "down". You see, there is no fighting if your opponent is incapacitated within the first few seconds of the altercation. In a real life situation If you are attacked, you are supposed to evade, until the moment that physical contact is imminent. The perfect way to practice it is randori.
Thanks for the answer Maciej,
It is still not very clear to me when the actual killing takes place.
It is when you say that you "finish the technique"?
And what does it mean when you say that "there is no fighting if your opponent is incapacitated within the first few seconds of the altercation"? When do you feel it is the beginning of an altercation, when verbal aggression has escalated or when the first blow it struck?
Please excuse if my previous post was semi-serious, I just never thought Aikido was meant for killing and now I'm kind of curious..

niccolo

observer
03-13-2009, 03:54 AM
I just never thought Aikido was meant for killing and now I'm kind of curious..
I am sorry Niccolo, this forum has certain rules and answers to your questions are off topic.

Erick Mead
03-13-2009, 08:12 AM
Peter if you would provide your expertise please on this. Ya know, tell me if I am on or off target. 1. 合気 is the standard way of aiki frequently used in Japanese martial arts writings from way back to today? Is it specific to general budo writing? 2. 愛気 How is this used and how frequent and in what time of writings/publications does this come up in outside of Aikido? Is this the standard often use in budo general? And what is the difference in definition between 合 and 愛 ?Peter will correct me I am sure :) but this (合 and 愛) seems illustrative of kotodama in functional terms and in positive application. This is part of how Norinaga proposed to "read" the "original" Japanese meaning from the Chinese script of the Kojiki -- essentially ringing changes on homophones for the full layering of connotative meaning. These articles may be helpful, although they leave one with lingering impression that the Japanese live in mortal fear of the unintended pun ...

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/_/print/PrintArticle.aspx?id=81136203
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/_/print/PrintArticle.aspx?id=83677628

Buck
03-13-2009, 12:44 PM
Thanks Erick.

I liked the pun joke...:D

Dan Rubin
03-13-2009, 12:53 PM
I mean if budo = love then why not just love? Why budo? With that reasoning there is no need for budo as I can reach this endstate through something like say yoga?

What essentially would be special about aikido as a form of budo that gets to love?

Kevin

Your post made me thing of the following excerpt from There Are No Secrets: Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing and his Tai Chi Chuan by Wolfe Lowenthal, pp. 80-81:

"Professor spoke of 'getting it': 'Encourage the best among you,' he often said, 'because if one of you gets it, he will bring you all along.' Also, 'I have about 60% of it; the very best students here have only 5%.'

"What was this 'It' that we were supposed to be getting and were so far away from?....

"The general implication was that if 'It' was not an overtly martial quality, it definitely had to do with the power of Tai Chi Chuan. 'The difference between yoga and Tai Chi,' he once said, 'is that even if you get it studying yoga, there's nothing you can do if someone tries to knock you off your cushion.'"

Dan

Aikibu
03-13-2009, 04:01 PM
Kevin

Your post made me thing of the following excerpt from There Are No Secrets: Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing and his Tai Chi Chuan by Wolfe Lowenthal, pp. 80-81:

"Professor spoke of 'getting it': 'Encourage the best among you,' he often said, 'because if one of you gets it, he will bring you all along.' Also, 'I have about 60% of it; the very best students here have only 5%.'

"What was this 'It' that we were supposed to be getting and were so far away from?....

"The general implication was that if 'It' was not an overtly martial quality, it definitely had to do with the power of Tai Chi Chuan. 'The difference between yoga and Tai Chi,' he once said, 'is that even if you get it studying yoga, there's nothing you can do if someone tries to knock you off your cushion.'"

Dan

Oustanding example of the the Bodhisattva way...Reaching back into my studies of the writings of Joseph Campbell I again refer to what he called the thin silver thread of connection that underlies man's pursuit of spiritual meaning....Bodhidarma who is generally acknowledged as the founder of the Asian Martial "Way" (and Chan/Zen) thought that the Martial Way was another "physical" vehicle to travel the Dharma Path...Kind of like Yoga!!! :)

Although the teachings of the Martial Arts are timeless and portable achieving peace/harmony (aka enlightment) appears not to be and... is not so easily passed on...My hope with Aikido is that by following the path O'Sensei laid out... I will experiance a little bit of what he did and perhaps the light in my eye will inspire others to try it. :)

So Practice Practice Practice. :)

William Hazen

Kevin Leavitt
03-13-2009, 06:22 PM
Ledyard Sensei, thank you for your post. I appreciate you taking the time to explain the above. It is very helpful to see your perspective as a long time student of Saotome Sensei.

It explains alot of what I have experienced when I have trained with Sensei and what he talks about every time he is on the Mat.

No issues from me on this!

Kevin Leavitt
03-13-2009, 06:25 PM
FWIW, here is the excerpt taken right out of the Army Combatives FM. While not directly related to aikido. I think it is an interesting read from an Army Perspective about what we consider to me the purpose of Combatives training.

Soldiers must be prepared to use different levels of force in an environment where conflict may change from low intensity to high intensity over a matter of hours. Many military operations, such as peacekeeping missions or noncombatant evacuation, may restrict the use of deadly weapons. Hand-to-hand combatives training will save lives when an unexpected confrontation occurs.

More importantly, combatives training helps to instill courage and self-confidence. With competence comes the understanding of controlled aggression and the ability to remain focused while under duress. Training in combatives includes hard and arduous physical training that is, at the same time, mentally demanding and carries over to other military pursuits. The overall effect of combatives training is-

The culmination of a successful physical fitness program, enhancing individual and unit strength, flexibility, balance, and cardiorespiratory fitness.

Building personal courage, self confidence, self-discipline, and esprit de corps.

JimCooper
03-16-2009, 11:15 AM
I'm curious about what are the techniques in aikido that so obviously can "kill in the blink of an eye"


Me too - that seems a little excessive as a description for the empty hand techniques :-)

However, all martial arts have a range of responses intended as discouragement or controlling techniques at one end, up to lethal responses at the other. Aikido dojo tend to train at the less violent end of the spectrum, but as a karateka, I can see openings in many techniques to up the vioelence level if I needed to. Often times that requires using the 70% of aikido (atemi) that aikido dojo rarely practice (IME, at least). Also, almost all throwing techniques that get uke's feet off the floor are potentially lethal.


and if O-Sensei or Tohei Sensei ever used the term "martial art" describing what they did.


"Budo" literally means martial art, but what "martial art" means is open to discussion. Traditionally, karate is classed as a budo, but it was not intended to be used by soldiers on a battlefield. So it's not a martial art in that sense of the word.


To me "martial" means something related to Marte, and if we agree that Marte is the god of war then Aikido must be something war-related.


It can trace its lineage back to truly martial arts (ie practised by soldiers), so it, or its ancestor arts, were originally martial in that sense. Such arts tend these days to be regarded as jutsu rather than do forms, but even then, the line is quite blurred, and few of the old bujutsu of Japan are still required learning for modern soldiers :-)