PDA

View Full Version : The true purpose of Aikido?


Please visit our sponsor:
 

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!


aikishrine
08-08-2009, 11:08 AM
Martial Art or Spiritual? Whats your opinion of the main aim of Aikido as you see it and as O'SENSEI saw it. Or do you believe that it is supposed to be both?

dps
08-08-2009, 11:18 AM
Martial Art or Spiritual? Whats your opinion of the main aim of Aikido as you see it and as O'SENSEI saw it. Or do you believe that it is supposed to be both?

Both, the martial as as a way of developing the spiritual.

David

ChrisHein
08-08-2009, 11:57 AM
I think O sensei was into different things at different times in his life.

If your practice doesn't have martial elements to it, it's simply not a martial art. If your Aikido doesn't have spiritual/mental aspects to it, then it's not Aikido.

Abasan
08-09-2009, 02:35 AM
As I understand it, Osensei never ceased to remind his students that Budo is a way that kills. At the same time he endeavours that Aikido should bring about peace. So yes, intrinsicly Aikido is martial. Even in offering our hand to uke, we have every intent of an attack behind that, it acts as an atemi just as a punch might be considered atemi. Just so, that we do not carry out that attack but the intent is left within the psyche.

It is also spiritual, because in order to master Aikido, we have to learn to surrender our ego. Often repeated but often misunderstood. My understanding at this point in time is:

We start with the correct intention of learning Aikido. We choose aikido not for its techniques but because we agree with its philosophy that conflict can be better managed and violence is not the only way. We have every chance to take up another art that does not care for this philosophy and prefers to do away with the opponent with the greatest efficiency.

Once we are past the intent, we begin to learn aikido principles and waza and thus develop aikido power. We don't learn waza just for the theatrics, but we do it so we know how to use it well. As it is mostly derived from weapons, we begin with basic core of cutting in everything we do. The martial element is not lost but developed here. Still we do not also forget the principles underlying each waza. The key difference here is blending with the opponent and redirecting his force amongst other things. If we rely on pure mechanics and our strength/speed and etc, again we have now shied away from our intention of learning Aikido.

Before I rant on, I guess what I want to describe is that Aikido waza is martial but layered upon a spiritual intent. If you attack me, my presence into you is an atemi but I do not strike, instead I blend with you and lead your power to where it would go. I do not use aggression nor do I make you do what I want to. Its about letting go. Not easy when most of us are born as control freaks.

James Edwards
08-09-2009, 06:02 AM
If I may, this video might also shed some light on O'sensei's motivation behind Aikido and Chiba sensei's analysis.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnE8NHYVDmM

I think from the video and what I've been taught, Aikido is essentially very martial but later as O'sensei took a more spiritual path, it became a way for purification/misogi. Like Chiba sensei says in the video, he came out of just practicing a fighting art and made it into something transcendant. But of course when O'sensei used aikido as a tool for misogi, it was still very martial but also free at the same time. So you can say that aikido is both martial and spiritual but of course aikido is not a religion because O'sensei also said that a religion would complement the practise of an aikido student (or something along the lines). The spirituality of aikido probably comes from its underlying philosophy and its budo roots.

SeiserL
08-09-2009, 08:52 AM
IMHO, the question is what purpose/intent do you bring to Aikido not what purpose it brings to you? You will get out of it what you put into it. You will find what you are open to. Everything is everywhere.

Buck
08-09-2009, 12:28 PM
Because of the difficult nature of understanding the coded language of O'Sensei had for Aikido, never the less, to me it is pretty clear that it is both. The difficultly is understanding completely that spritituality. If you ask me, it seems, O'Sensei complicated this even more by interweaving the fabrics of both the spirtitual and martial together.

Anjisan
08-09-2009, 12:40 PM
I think O sensei was into different things at different times in his life.

If your practice doesn't have martial elements to it, it's simply not a martial art. If your Aikido doesn't have spiritual/mental aspects to it, then it's not Aikido.

Or in other words, if your Aikido doesn't have martial practicality to it-and trouble finds you--you may no longer be upright and breathing and if you are not, one may find it difficult to be spiritual.

RED
08-09-2009, 04:38 PM
**gives the randomly vague pseudo-intellectual response that's expected** :D

ChrisHein
08-09-2009, 04:57 PM
Or in other words, if your Aikido doesn't have martial practicality to it-and trouble finds you--you may no longer be upright and breathing and if you are not, one may find it difficult to be spiritual.

Not where I was going with that...

Shadowfax
08-09-2009, 08:47 PM
I think what I have been discovering lately is this. All humans have a deep need for spiritual connection. That is not necessarily to equate spiritual with religious though. I used to think that one had to be religious to be spiritual. I am discovering that aikido is giving me a deeper sense of the inner spiritual being that is connected to all things in a way I had not expected.

We are also all very physical creatures. The martial aspect of aikido connects us tot his physical need to affect things and people.

Bear with me as I think out loud....
Probably not making a whole lot of sense as this is a really new set of thoughts that is percolating through. But I believe that Aikido actually helps us to connect the two sides and brings us into balance, both spiritual and martial(physical). One cannot be balanced if we focus on one side or the other. And as I have discovered in this evenings class... technique simply wont work if one focuses on one and not the other. But if the balance between the two is found we can become centered.

eyrie
08-09-2009, 09:10 PM
The purpose of ALL martial arts is to develop physical, mental and "spiritual" unity, not mutually exclusive of one or the other, nor necessarily in any specific order....

Shadowfax
08-09-2009, 09:13 PM
lol you said it way better than I did. :)

lbb
08-09-2009, 09:41 PM
The true purpose of aikido is to inspire unresolvable internet debates couched in lofty language.

Partially rhetorical question: if it turned out that aikido had no "purpose" (or at least, none beyond the simple "doing of the thing"), would that be enough for you? Why or why not?

eyrie
08-09-2009, 11:32 PM
LOL.. equally partial rhetorical question: Would I be happy doing ANYTHING which had no real "purpose", like fomenting unresolvable internet debates, couched in lofty language? :D

gdandscompserv
08-10-2009, 02:07 AM
The Last Answer
by Isaac Asimov
In the story, an atheist physicist dies of a heart attack and is greeted by a being of supposedly infinite knowledge. This being, referred to as the Voice, tells the physicist the nature of his life after death, as a nexus of electromagnetic forces. The Voice then tells the physicist that he is to think, for all eternity, so as to amuse him. The physicist is appalled by the idea of thinking and discovering for no reason but to amuse a being capable of easily out-thinking him with a bit of effort. The physicist then wishes to be destroyed, but the Voice will not permit it; if the physicist disrupted the nexus, it would instantly be re-formed with that possibility of suicide removed. The physicist then decides that he will spend eternity devising a way to destroy the Voice. The Voice is pleased, as the physicist reaches the same conclusion that all others chosen before him have. It becomes apparent that the Voice is suffering the same fate of forced existence as the physicist and, like him, desires to learn how to end his own eternity. The Voice leaves the physicist to think upon this task.
:D

chuunen baka
08-10-2009, 11:23 AM
All humans have a deep need for spiritual connection.
I would like to disagree with this statement, hopefully without giving offence. Maybe it's just that people with a deep need for spiritual connection would agree with you and those without, would not.

d2l
08-10-2009, 11:56 AM
I think it is a little of both. I view it as you can't have one without the other.
We practice a "harder" style to which primadonnas tend to scuff at.
The "hardness" is the martial (Budo) side, but the Do is never ignored. The Do is needed to explain. Even used to give analogy's that are needed to understand.

Randy Sexton
08-10-2009, 12:43 PM
To me the purpose of Aikido is to provide a means to defend myself externally but in the process of learning the art internally changes will occur in my heart and spirit that changes how I view myself, others, and ultimately my place and sense of oneness in the universe teaching me to join in its loving harmony being one with the person in front of me and the tree beside me constantly living in the eternal now accepting and embracing change.

As Saotome Sensei has said to me, "The practice of Aikido will change you. It will change your life".

Food for thought.

Doc

Randy Sexton
08-10-2009, 12:45 PM
Now for the short version.

It is a cool martial art that helps me become a better person.

Doc:cool:

aikishrine
08-10-2009, 01:24 PM
Now for the short version.

It is a cool martial art that helps me become a better person.

Doc:cool:

I have to agree whole heartedly with this sentiment.

Anjisan
08-10-2009, 08:03 PM
Not where I was going with that...

OK OK........but perhaps there is some truth in my take none the less. As far as what you said, I agree with you.

Shadowfax
08-10-2009, 08:42 PM
I would like to disagree with this statement, hopefully without giving offense. Maybe it's just that people with a deep need for spiritual connection would agree with you and those without, would not.]

I guess it would rather depend on what your personal definition of spiritual is. ;) As I said in that post I'm not necessarily talking religious. Personally I am talking about the connection we all share with the creation around us and the universe as a whole. I believe that O sensei spoke of this connection himself.

But you may agree or disagree as you see fit. I was only expressing my own current thought process on the subject.:)

Suru
08-11-2009, 12:41 AM
Survival in today's jungle:

Self-absorption: no empathy or love, could lead one to the delusion that he is the only person with free will and emotion.

Altruism: pure empathy and love, dangerous mind state leads to manipulation from self-absorbed others. Feelings of weakness, learned helplessness, and a total external locus of control.

Invulnerable Altruism: The result of proper, consistent Aiki-geiko. A moderate, chronic euphoria that words cannot further describe.

Drew

aikishrine
08-11-2009, 08:32 AM
To me beng spiritual has nothing to do with religion at all. I know people who are religious and spiritual and i know people who are not religious and spiritual. As a matter of fact i know some people who are "religious" and dont know the first thing about spirituality, and i know a person or two that are not religious that are the most spiritual people i know.
It has been my experience in watching people transform over the years in Aikido, that has lead me to ask this question. I have seen some harden martial artist wanting to break people apart, transform into softer, gentler, more spiritual martial artist through there training, though they may not admit it.

Roy Balikpapan
08-11-2009, 08:14 PM
For me, aikido is a mean for a resolution to a conflict, bring peace to surroundings and showing true path of the way of harmony.

lbb
08-11-2009, 08:46 PM
It has been my experience in watching people transform over the years in Aikido, that has lead me to ask this question. I have seen some harden martial artist wanting to break people apart, transform into softer, gentler, more spiritual martial artist through there training, though they may not admit it.

But why place the label "spiritual" on this transformation? From Webster:

spiritual:

1 : of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit : incorporeal <spiritual needs>
2 a : of or relating to sacred matters <spiritual songs> b : ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal <spiritual authority> <lords spiritual>
3 : concerned with religious values
4 : related or joined in spirit <our spiritual home> <his spiritual heir>
5 a : of or relating to supernatural beings or phenomena b : of, relating to, or involving spiritualism : spiritualistic

So where's the "spiritual" part of the transformation? Did these people you're talking about develop a concern for the sacred or the divine? Is that the only way that anyone becomes "softer" and "gentler"? How about a simple pragmatic realization that being a hammerhead is just plain no fun and shortens the lifespan? No higher power needed for that one...

aikishrine
08-11-2009, 10:00 PM
:D But why place the label "spiritual" on this transformation? From Webster:

spiritual:

1 : of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit : incorporeal
2 a : of or relating to sacred matters b : ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal
3 : concerned with religious values
4 : related or joined in spirit
5 a : of or relating to supernatural beings or phenomena b : of, relating to, or involving spiritualism : spiritualistic

So where's the "spiritual" part of the transformation? Did these people you're talking about develop a concern for the sacred or the divine? Is that the only way that anyone becomes "softer" and "gentler"? How about a simple pragmatic realization that being a hammerhead is just plain no fun and shortens the lifespan? No higher power needed for that one...

I think you like to be confrontational. Everything i have ever posted on here that you have responded to has been in opposition to what i think, have you noticed that:D

webster may have its definition of spiritual, but my definition has to do with working on my inner most self, to be a better person, and not by means of a higher power. As i stated in an earlier post spirituality can be completely separate from being religious. IMHO

Shadowfax
08-12-2009, 09:01 AM
I use that label because to me that is exactly what it is. I have had lots and lots of the religious kind but to me this is far beyond the limitations of religious spirituality. I suppose definition 4 in your post comes closest to what I mean. Spirit/energy/ki.... what is ai-ki-do without it? Again form my personal point of view. I can understand yours is not the same.

webster may have its definition of spiritual, but my definition has to do with working on my inner most self, to be a better person, and not by means of a higher power. As i stated in an earlier post spirituality can be completely separate from being religious. IMHO Brian and I are on the same page. :)

I came to aikido looking to explore and get to understand and improve me more not to have the ability to beat the snot out of someone.(not to say anyone here has come to aikido for that reason) I have the good fortune to have the influence of people who see martial arts as a way to improve the self. And to me, and to my knowledge to at least one of them, that is a spiritual journey.

lbb
08-12-2009, 09:29 AM
:D

I think you like to be confrontational. Everything i have ever posted on here that you have responded to has been in opposition to what i think, have you noticed that:D

I think putting a smiley on a statement like that doesn't make it any "softer" or "gentler".

webster may have its definition of spiritual, but my definition has to do with working on my inner most self, to be a better person, and not by means of a higher power. As i stated in an earlier post spirituality can be completely separate from being religious. IMHO

Sure, and that's what Webster says (or implies) too. Your definition of "spiritual", however, doesn't quite seem to be the consensus definition (which, I'm sure you'll admit, is fairly well represented by a mainstream dictionary). You're defining the word "spiritual" to mean anything having to do with your "inner most self". I think that's a bit broader than the consensus definition, and that there are any number of ways of "working on [one's] inner most self" that aren't necessarily "spiritual". I don't mean by this that your personal changes aren't spiritual changes, only that speaking generically, striving for self-improvement isn't always a process of spiritual transformation.

Also, as I pointed out using your example of the former hammerhead who becomes "softer" and "gentler", there are any number of ways that that transformation can come about that don't fall under the "spiritual" umbrella -- unless you're being very, very broad in your definition.

There are a lot of great descriptive words in the English language. "Spiritual" is one of them, but I think it does get overused a bit in the martial arts context.

mwible
08-12-2009, 09:30 AM
Both, the martial as as a way of developing the spiritual.

David

Agreed.

But Aikido is and always has been a MARTIAL art. That is how O'Sensei tought it, and that is how it should be practiced.

Kevin Leavitt
08-12-2009, 12:42 PM
Mary wrote:

). You're defining the word "spiritual" to mean anything having to do with your "inner most self".

I would submit that working on yourself with no attention to how you relate to the greater, however you define that. Social, Global, Universe....is...simply narcissism and not spritiuality.

lbb
08-12-2009, 01:27 PM
I would submit that working on yourself with no attention to how you relate to the greater, however you define that. Social, Global, Universe....is...simply narcissism and not spritiuality.

That's a bit of a false dichotomy though. If you're "working on yourself" in an effort to (for example) learn to master your temper, and your reason for doing so is because your temper keeps getting you into trouble, that isn't a spiritual exercise, but neither is it narcissism, really.

Kevin Leavitt
08-12-2009, 05:47 PM
Good point Mary...but I think it depends on your overall intent and paradigm.

If is is completely all about you..then it isn't spritiual. If it is about how to improve you relationship with others and the world and maybe a greater cause/good/concept...that is external to you..then I think it can be called spiritual.

Most folks I think want to fix things like temper because it has caused them problems with others and they want to fix that part of them.

Some might call it spirtual...some might want to label it something else...doesn't matter to me.

But I don't think it can be spiritual if it does not consider the external aspect of a relationship with something else.

That said, many of the spiritual practices such as silent retreats are by design meant to be very private and internal, which at surface value might appear to be very narrcisistic.

The Irony of it though is that I think in most cases the practice can lead to a greater understanding of self and which in turn helps you to better understand your relationship to the external world and /or ______.

gdandscompserv
08-12-2009, 06:07 PM
The true pupose of aikido is to make positive, constructive connections and relationships to our fellow men, women, and children.:cool:

phitruong
08-14-2009, 11:21 AM
The true pupose of aikido is to make positive, constructive connections and relationships to our fellow men, women, and children.:cool:

what about domesticated and non-domesticated animals? don't know about cats, but dogs should be ok, right? :)
what about foods and drinks? don't you want to make positive and constructive connections as well? there are times when i really like to make a good connection to a juicy steak. :p

Abasan
08-14-2009, 12:16 PM
One of my sensei's once mentioned this... in his 30 odd years training in aikido, he's never once had to use it in a real fight. He's also never been injured in class. Nor his students. He thought it really funny that in some cases, students get more injured in the dojo than they ever would outside class. He believed that the training should improve us as human beings, that's all really.

FWIW anyway.

Kevin Leavitt
08-14-2009, 01:10 PM
He believed that the training should improve us as human beings, that's all really.

FWIW anyway.

Just for sake of discussion...so you could really do anything in a class at any level of quality, call in aiki and be successful, and call it a day and label it mission accomplished.

So, this always begs the question for me...as asked in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance.

What is Quality? and how do we know when we achieve it?

Janet Rosen
08-14-2009, 01:36 PM
Re spirituality: to me it is not the same as "personal growth" per se. There are psychological issues, emotional issues, philosophical issues and spiritual issues; being humans, ie, being inherently sort of sloppy, of course there is going to be overlap between these things. But to me, what I wrote in an essay for the Mirror in 2004 holds true:"spirituality: that which connects me with the world." That's why I DON'T consider painting, which is in inward directed discipline that keeps me sane and helps me mediate reality, my spiritual process.

Now aikido doesn't HAVE to be a spiritual process. For some people it's a great workout, or a kinesthetic puzzle to solve, or whatever floats their boat. For me, it is. This is in no way separate from it being a martial art. It resonates for me because it is in the practice of the martial art, in refining via the regular physical training my abilities in the martial art, that I am also consciously working on how I relate to other people and how I exist in the universe.
YMMV and probably does :-)

Abasan
08-14-2009, 01:48 PM
Emm, I really wouldn't call anything aiki. I mean not as I understand it. If I read your meaning well, I would assume you mean peaceful resolution?

Ok from that starting point, a peaceful resolution of a conflict properly done is what I think would be successful. Quality here would mean that the person achieved this resolution in way where he himself does not create conflict to achieve the goal.

Of course if students came into class and just danced with each other, then they really haven't done any peaceful resolution of conflict. The idea that they cooperate from the get-go means that neither has invested anytime in learning anything. I don't think my sensei means that.

But from a teacher's point of view, his goal is to create better people. Teaching people that harmony can be achieved in the face of violence. That strength does not equate to power. That 'winning' over others is not a goal to strive for, but winning over ourselves is. I don't think he set out to teach people how to kick ass or prove anything. There's enough of that going around don't you think? So wouldn't it be great that just a few hundred of people didn't come to class to fight better but to be better human beings?

Martial arts everywhere is showing the best punch, the immovable body, the force field ki, the fastest kick, the quickest knock out and so on so forth. All in the neverending quest of what? Finding a bad guy to destroy? Protecting innocents against a pack of evil ninjas?

Truth to be told, I've only encountered violence on the street thrice. In all the circumstances I avoided a fight, a mugging and a gang fight without once throwing a strike. It is unfortunate that I found myself in that situation at all. But sometimes you're just unlucky I guess. However, I was taught calmness. Calmness is not a technique. Yet I didn't need techniques in those situations, all I needed was calmness. Because I was calm, my body was relaxed. Because I was relaxed, I moved naturally and without aggression. My aggressors could not respond properly against this. (on hindsight mind you. I didn't analyse this as it happened).

During a fight (which I broke up by the way), the attacker just couldn't commit to the attack anymore. And all I did was just hold him calmly. During the mugging, the muggers just let me go as I released myself from their hold and walk across the street. Will this happen everytime I meet disaster on the road? I don't think so. But so far so good. I've not had to contend with breaking someone's neck and wounding my soul yet.

I'll be the first to admit, teaching no techniques and just meditating in class is a recipe for disaster. Pretty soon everyone is going to think its all a bed of roses out there and thinking happy thoughts is going to stop that guy with the baseball bat. But you can do all that fancy stuff like taisabaki, learning kuzushi, maai (or positional dominance as you like to call it) etc etc, and it won't really decide what's going to happen in a real situation. The other guy might be better and you get your ass creamed, or vice versa.

To wrap this long winded response, (I'm sorry I just don't know how to get my point across succinctly). I understand your concern for martial effectiveness. I agree we should learn that, since Aikido is budo. But I also subscribe to my teachers belief that learning Aikido should promote self development and not self hurt. Be it spiritually, psychologically or physically. If we create a tense atmosphere in class and hurt our partners and ourselves, we are only destroying the harmony. So, that should be a primary goal I suppose.

Anjisan
08-14-2009, 01:58 PM
I use that label because to me that is exactly what it is. I have had lots and lots of the religious kind but to me this is far beyond the limitations of religious spirituality. I suppose definition 4 in your post comes closest to what I mean. Spirit/energy/ki.... what is ai-ki-do without it? Again form my personal point of view. I can understand yours is not the same.

Brian and I are on the same page. :)

I came to aikido looking to explore and get to understand and improve me more not to have the ability to beat the snot out of someone.(not to say anyone here has come to aikido for that reason) I have the good fortune to have the influence of people who see martial arts as a way to improve the self. And to me, and to my knowledge to at least one of them, that is a spiritual journey.

I wholeheartedly agree that the martial arts are an excellent way to improve oneself and consequently, how one relates to the larger world. I have been fortunate enough to have been involved for 25 years and still (gratefully) going strong.

However, I had not encountered the dichotomy of martial application vs. self-improvement... discovery, until I began Aikido. In so many other arts (it will certainly vary to a degree) Budo is the perspective as well, but martial application/effectiveness is a given. In Aikido it often seems like a fork in the road-if you choose one you can't have or shouldn't want the other. One can actually become a better human being and yet, also defend themselves. It continues to baffle me why the dichotomy?

gdandscompserv
08-14-2009, 04:37 PM
what about domesticated and non-domesticated animals? don't know about cats, but dogs should be ok, right? :)
what about foods and drinks? don't you want to make positive and constructive connections as well? there are times when i really like to make a good connection to a juicy steak. :p
yes, yes! All those as well. Thanks for reminding me Phi.:D

Kevin Leavitt
08-14-2009, 04:41 PM
I think alot of the issue depends on your definition of Self Defense.

Most folks I think believe that self defense simply deals with that what you do AFTER someone attacks you.

Contrary to that, I firmly believe what is a better model is those things that you do BEFORE someone attacks.

No, that doesn't mean "pre-emptive strike" in the physical sense, but taking appropriate measures to shut down violence from even occurring.

That is, learning to recognize and identify threats, taking time to really understanding them. Separating irrational fear from reality, and then taking appropriate measures to mitigate things.

It begins with seeking to understand.

We do so many actions our of fear. In many ways fear is our primary motivator in life and it should not be.

Self Defense in the respect of how I like to study it comes from the basis of true strength. It allows you to reduce and eliminate fear, see things for what they really are, be strong, and to deal directly with the factors.

When we do things this way, we can embrace our enemy. Enter (Irimi) and off balance them.

I recommend reading the link that Janet gave a few days ago for a real life non-physical example.

From a Military standpoint, FWIW, I am spending two weeks going through a course on Irregular warfare which is all about this issue. That is, using non-kinetic means, from a position of authentic power and strength to solve real physical threats and to achieve peace.

Anyway, I think aikido is about this bigger picture if you want to look at it from a philosophical view, and not about the crappy little techniques that we do, which if you had to do them for real, are not trained in anyway the way we typically do in aikido necessarily. So, there must be something more than physcial self defense, as there are many more efficient ways to train this stuff.

crbateman
08-14-2009, 05:18 PM
This entire discussion seems to be a matter of semantics. I, for one, find it hard enough to speak for myself, much less the entire body of aikidoka, or the whole of humanity. We are taking issue with what our own perception of others' thoughts are, whereas even subtle differences in meaning do not mean differences of intent. An ad infinitum discussion may not lead to anything more than the realization that it may simply be better to agree to disagree.

Kevin Leavitt
08-14-2009, 05:58 PM
Ahmad,

Thanks for taking the time to respond!

Ok from that starting point, a peaceful resolution of a conflict properly done is what I think would be successful. Quality here would mean that the person achieved this resolution in way where he himself does not create conflict to achieve the goal.

Just some thoughts....I think we sit folks up for failure in an unintentional way when we define what the endstate should look like. Thtat is, anything short of peaceful resolution is failure.

I think the best we can do is to properly train them to understand violence and their own shortcomings as best we can. They have to decide for themselves how much is enough. Some folks want to get very deep and very physical with training. This is fine and we should when possible allow them to explore this realm. That way they might have a better understanding, if nothing else "Oh crap, I am in big trouble if something happens!".

On the other side of the coin, as you state, they might also better understand how to avoid trouble, recognize it, have awareness of it and be able to deal with it as well.

As far as the ethics of "HOW" the situation ends, well I think that is personal and each individual has to live with the karma they create and they will know if they feel the acted in a just manner.

I believe the best we can offer them in budo is the opportunity to explore and experience. I think we'd better serve our folks if we didn't inject a perception of what is appropriate and what is not within the sphere of martial study.

But from a teacher's point of view, his goal is to create better people. Teaching people that harmony can be achieved in the face of violence. That strength does not equate to power. That 'winning' over others is not a goal to strive for, but winning over ourselves is. I don't think he set out to teach people how to kick ass or prove anything. There's enough of that going around don't you think? So wouldn't it be great that just a few hundred of people didn't come to class to fight better but to be better human beings?


Better people? well I think we can only give them a safe place to train that is non-attributional and non-judgemental. A good teacher is able to look at a student, give them a framework in which to experience budo. Better people? Well, I am not sure how you do that, I think each individual is the judge of their own character.

Harmony in the face of violence? Maybe it is semantics, but I don't think this is a good thing to espouse personally. I think what happens again is that we set people up for failure with this. One either they think they can actually do this and get hurt or killed. Two, I don't think it is obtainable in the face of violence.

I think we do our best not to be violent, but when faced with it...well it is present if you like it or not and you are a part of it. The only thing you have is choice on how to respond...but you cannot bring harmony to a violent situation necessarily.

So, with that, again, I think we can only teach our students how to face violence, that it is real, ugly, and we need to do our best to increase our experiences and skills, which hopefully expands our choice range to deal with violence as skillfully as possible.

I submit if we really care about our students and physical violence is a real threat then we should place them in very stressful situations that are mean and ugly. That would be more compassionate and more sincere and honest than dancing around a dojo espousing that "Love is great!".

So sure, I think there is already enough violence in the world, but I also think the irony of the situation in budo is that we just might have to teach them to be better fighters!

However, I will caveat that by saying that "better fighter" is a big, big subject and it does not always mean walking around with a big club knocking the crap out of everything that seems threatening...that is low skill and what we want is high skill!

Thanks again for the response!

Kevin Leavitt
08-14-2009, 06:03 PM
This entire discussion seems to be a matter of semantics. I, for one, find it hard enough to speak for myself, much less the entire body of aikidoka, or the whole of humanity. We are taking issue with what our own perception of others' thoughts are, whereas even subtle differences in meaning do not mean differences of intent. An ad infinitum discussion may not lead to anything more than the realization that it may simply be better to agree to disagree.

Chuck,

I agree, but also these semantics also begin to turn into perceptions, which become paradigms, which become predjudices which can also turn into "clutter" that lead us from being able to see what is really going on.

It really sucks to be on one end of the stick thinking one thing and have your opposition not agreeing to yours...and then find out that your perception of reality is on the losing reality!

So I really think it is good to have ad infinitum discussions if it leads people to consider other perspectives. Agreeing to disagree is simply being polite and "PC" and we then go on about our business.

I think budo is really about having the same discussion over and over. If we learned ikkyo on the first night of aikido practice, then why do it again?

crbateman
08-14-2009, 08:21 PM
So I really think it is good to have ad infinitum discussions if it leads people to consider other perspectives. Agreeing to disagree is simply being polite and "PC" and we then go on about our business.Some might be doing this, while others are simply arguing a point. Agreeing to disagree is not necessarily an attempt to placate or patronize, but possibly an earnest attempt by one or more of the participants to recognize that opposing views may exist, and be unresolvable by further beating of the horse. "What is Aikido?" is one of those paradoxical questions that always results in this very same discussion.

Kevin Leavitt
08-14-2009, 08:47 PM
Some might be doing this, while others are simply arguing a point. Agreeing to disagree is not necessarily an attempt to placate or patronize, but possibly an earnest attempt by one or more of the participants to recognize that opposing views may exist, and be unresolvable by further beating of the horse. "What is Aikido?" is one of those paradoxical questions that always results in this very same discussion.

I agree!

Abasan
08-14-2009, 08:57 PM
Kevin,

I think you're right in that we should not define what is the 'right way' or the 'only way' to solve something. Life is a puzzle that has many ways about it. So we shouldn't say do this and do that to someone. I believe Aikido is one way of doing things. Perhaps, that is in itself framing Aikido into one aspect. But surely, if Aikido is everything and anything, it no longer can be categorised or understood?

Maybe I just understand it a bit too simply at times. If Aikido is meant to strive for harmony and love, than what we do with it reflects our skill in it. Don't you think?

As to how someone deals with violence happening to him. I totally agree it is up to him. No teacher can teach every single response to an encounter. Ultimately, the teacher guides 20% (or thereabouts) of the students knowledge into the art and the student achieves the balance through his own training, experience and understanding. So in this, I believe teachers are responsible for getting the students to be aware of the principles behind aikido's philosophy and techniques. Not only to be aware, but the teacher must demonstrate it so that the students may feel it working or happening. Its no use saying, yes there is a way out of this situation without giving in to the conflict or creating your own, but also to be able to do it at that point in time. Definitely and most assuredly, the student wouldn't be able to achieve that level of sophistication overnight but he now knows that the possibility exists should he maintain his dedication to train and achieve that level of skill and knowledge.

In the meantime, should he encounter violence, then what should he do? Then, I fully subscribe to what you have stated as well. The student whilst aware that there are better ways to resolve this, should first and foremost respond to his best ability in ensuring that him and his loved ones are protected first. The essence of budo is to protect something you love or are responsible for. Be this is achieved by using a gun or a conversation, at the end of the day the objective is what it is. As his level of skill develop, his ability to resolve conflict increases. However, the frame of mind he has is important. We hope that he understands violence in itself is not desirable. We hope that his training makes him a better person by teaching him not to be attracted to violence but also to not shirk his responsibility if forced into it. An example is this. A fight is about to happen because some bullies are forcing you into a corner and insulting you. They are not harming you physically yet but are gagging for a fight. Do you give in and let em have it or do you swallow that wounded pride and try to placate them the best way you can? I believe Terry Dobson related a nice story about the drunken man in Tokyo who created a ruckus in the train he was riding in. Terry wanted to use his aikido skills to take care of this guy, yet at the end, an old man brought the drunken man to tears just by his use of kind words. Can we say that this will bring down anyone who stands in our way? Well, I don't know the answer to that. Perhaps, and perhaps not but our mentality should have that as part of our arsenal anyway. We shouldn't just gear up for a physical fight. Even if it escalates into a physical fight, mentally we should frame our minds that we can be better than this.

Most of us here probably have learned something else besides Aikido. I still do actually. The other art I'm learning is really really violent. Of course the teacher forbids us to go look for a fight, but when it comes to defending ourselves, we have to let everything go. Its something I learned that really opened my eyes. I've done 7 years of taekwondo and about 11 years of aikido. I didn't have an answer to what this guy showed me 3 years ago. But I never became comfortable with the results. At the end of it, using this art will ultimately injure seriously or kill the attacker. Although preferable to your own injury or death, and at that time I thought (well they asked for it anyway), at the end of it all causing them hurt will hurt me in the end if not physically, psychologically. No matter how much I hate the thugs out there who hurt others weaker than they are, if we hurt them when we don't have to, we will become something like them. I don't want that. I don't want my kid to see that happen either.

That is why after learning the other art, I actually turn back to look at aikido from a different perspective. Could this art give me a better answer. And this is after I deduced that aikido couldn't offer me a better fighting technique compared to the other art I was learning. In the end, it wasn't technique that I was looking for. It was a 'way'. And that 'way' can be used through any means, even in the art I loosely called ultra violent. I found the way from Aikido after looking at it the 2nd time. But I don't have to use Aikido 'techniques' to apply it.

I hope that clarifies my position in this. Its personal. And I do believe, what we make out of aikido is also personal. Osensei may have wanted his students to achieve something with Aikido, but he certainly didn't force them to be like him. Make aikido your own, and look at all the different teachers of aikido out there. His first generation students who do things so differently from each other. If Osensei had the wisdom to allow this, why should any younger teachers feel that they can define what is and what is not the only way of doing things?

Kevin Leavitt
08-14-2009, 09:24 PM
Ahmad wrote:
But surely, if Aikido is everything and anything, it no longer can be categorised or understood?

Maybe I just understand it a bit too simply at times. If Aikido is meant to strive for harmony and love, than what we do with it reflects our skill in it. Don't you think?

I think this is a tough one to answer. I think the best we can do is offer the framework of what we consider to be appropriate and good practice to foster the environment we would like to create for ourselves and others. (I know, not much of an answer!)

That is why after learning the other art, I actually turn back to look at aikido from a different perspective. Could this art give me a better answer. And this is after I deduced that aikido couldn't offer me a better fighting technique compared to the other art I was learning. In the end, it wasn't technique that I was looking for. It was a 'way'. And that 'way' can be used through any means, even in the art I loosely called ultra violent. I found the way from Aikido after looking at it the 2nd time. But I don't have to use Aikido 'techniques' to apply it.

I understand what you mean. I spent yesterday learning some new Training, Tactics and Procedures (TTPs) for using a knife in military combatives and for "effective fighting". Very enlightening and very specific for engaging and killing in the heat of a close quarters battle. Applicable in self defense. Most definitely, but also I think you'd have some hard explaining to do if you did what I learned yesterday in a civilian setting! That and the scenarios are very agressive and "forward". Not something I believe really would be very appropriate in a "civilian" setting for self defense really.

So, I think when you are looking at techniques there are alot of factors that must be considered.

Aikido I think offers a good framework for teaching martial principles, which actually apply to what I was doing yesterday, but applied in a much different way than might normally be done.

So as long as aikido is taught with the correct martial principles (physical) minus the TTPs, then that is good for a framework.

From there you can open it up to add military applications, police applications, or self defense applications..all of which may have their own flavor of timing, use of force etc.

I think sometimes we get this aspect confused. that is, confusing the study of AIKI with the study of TTPs.

In studying military tactics for close quarters fighitng, we operate on a much narrower set of parameters of skill. In aikido we have a much larger set of parameters when we study the principles.

So do we venture into the realm of scenario based training? Well I think that depends on the dojo and the individuals.

What I don't like is when we try to synthesize the two. That is, teach principles of aiki then proceed to then say "well this is how you would use it in self defense." When in all actuality it probably is not, the students are never exposed to the level of stress and non-cooperation, nor are the use of force rules or situational conditions ever discussed.

The instructor may understand the distinction, but what the student sees and hears is "Oh cool, I can use this in a real situation and I can blend with my attacker to neutralize it".

I think it is better to stick to the princple based framework to teach, and then teach a separate block of instruction on self defense skills that would help the student tie in the principles.

Hope this makes sense! Thanks for the discussion!

rob_liberti
08-14-2009, 09:32 PM
No teacher can teach every single response to an encounter
and
That is, teach principles of aiki then proceed to then say "well this is how you would use it in self defense." When in all actuality it probably is not, the students are never exposed to the level of stress and non-cooperation, nor are the use of force rules or situational conditions ever discussed.

Funny, this has been exactly what I have been discussing lately. How to work towards exactly that...

Rob

Kevin Leavitt
08-14-2009, 09:55 PM
Rob, I have been down in Florida learning how to do that all week!

That is, how do you train to innoculate the stress of fighting while maintaining a degree of realism balanced by safety.

It has been an eye opening experience working with one of the subject matter experts on this.

There are several issues though that I see.

1. Physical conditioning. students need to be in good shape and not have any real injuries. This is probably the number one thing folks can do to improve their ability to defend themselves.

2. student to instructor ratio. Qualified and trained instructors.

3. Developing the scenarios.

4. finding the time to train. It takes a concentrated effort and a fair amount of time to train adequately. You can't do it in just one weekend.

5. Do folks really want to put themselves through this much stress?

6. Will the students understand how much stress will actually be induced...can they handle it not only physcially, but mentally.

7. How do you bring them along if they are not there physically and mentally?

The funny part is that it kinda goes back to the same thing with internal skills. You gotta put in the physical practice, the hard work of doing lots of gorilla drills, sprawls, push ups, and flutter kicks, etc...in order to be in the proper condition to subject yourself to the level of stress for this type of training.

rob_liberti
08-15-2009, 05:13 AM
Kevin, the internal skills should make things a whole heck of a lot less stressful than trying that without them. A lot of the problems about appropriate level of response take care of themselves in that in actively maintaining all of the lines of intent, what you do to people attacking you is mainly determined by how they are attacking you. So you are not trying to decide which waza to do - but instead your internal windings manifest as spiraling (which is mainly beyond my skill level) which gives birth to spontaneous waza.

You just have to concentrate on your first choice being an attempt to neutralize. If you can't - I assume the attacker's MMA skills and/or anti-aiki skills are really good, and then you are probably in the fight of your life. But you still have some important shades of grey where you can pick a strike to the ribs to disable someone (that you couldn't instantly neutralize) as opposed to the throat.

And I suppose I just intend to work towards that level of stressful attack. Where stepping it up to that level would be extremely hard to train safely. I haven't thought through how to get that far. I do not believe that Aikido as a martial art was ever pressure tested at the level I'm thinking about, so it's kind of uncharted territory.

Rob

observer
08-15-2009, 11:44 AM
I do not believe that Aikido as a martial art was ever pressure tested at the level I'm thinking about, so it's kind of uncharted territory.
I don't think is needed. Aikido for me is just a final challenge. If you do not have a self-confidence it is not worthy to try. The confidence comes from a skill. Just look at your college or school experience. If you are not prepare for an exam there's a small chance to pass (sometimes miracles do happen). Even if you remain calm.

tarik
08-15-2009, 01:23 PM
The true purpose of aikido is the same as the true purpose of life. Answer one and you have answered the other.

Regards,

tarik
08-15-2009, 01:29 PM
:D

I think you like to be confrontational. Everything i have ever posted on here that you have responded to has been in opposition to what i think, have you noticed that:D


You should thank her. That is what the best training partners do. Anything less is a wasted breath.

webster may have its definition of spiritual, but my definition has to do with working on my inner most self, to be a better person, and not by means of a higher power. As i stated in an earlier post spirituality can be completely separate from being religious. IMHO

If you insist upon going against the commonly accepted definitions, you must be explicit or expect to be misunderstood. Even when there are multiple commonly accepted definitions, explication remains necessary.

Regards,

tarik
08-15-2009, 01:33 PM
This entire discussion seems to be a matter of semantics

The implication here is that semantics are not important, when, in fact, aren't they critical?

I, for one, find it hard enough to speak for myself, much less the entire body of aikidoka, or the whole of humanity. We are taking issue with what our own perception of others' thoughts are, whereas even subtle differences in meaning do not mean differences of intent. An ad infinitum discussion may not lead to anything more than the realization that it may simply be better to agree to disagree.

Is that a worthless or a worthwhile exercise?

Regards,

aikishrine
08-15-2009, 03:27 PM
You should thank her. That is what the best training partners do. Anything less is a wasted breath.

If you insist upon going against the commonly accepted definitions, you must be explicit or expect to be misunderstood. Even when there are multiple commonly accepted definitions, explication remains necessary.

Regards,

No i wont thank her, she is just trying to be difficult.

And i believe i have explained myself quite well, but if you need me to simplify things better i will. Just let me know;)

tarik
08-15-2009, 03:31 PM
No i wont thank her, she is just trying to be difficult.

That's certainly your prerogative.

And i believe i have explained myself quite well, but if you need me to simplify things better i will. Just let me know;)

Do you believe that this isn't a confrontational statement?

Regards,

Kevin Leavitt
08-15-2009, 04:44 PM
Kevin, the internal skills should make things a whole heck of a lot less stressful than trying that without them. A lot of the problems about appropriate level of response take care of themselves in that in actively maintaining all of the lines of intent, what you do to people attacking you is mainly determined by how they are attacking you. So you are not trying to decide which waza to do - but instead your internal windings manifest as spiraling (which is mainly beyond my skill level) which gives birth to spontaneous waza.

You just have to concentrate on your first choice being an attempt to neutralize. If you can't - I assume the attacker's MMA skills and/or anti-aiki skills are really good, and then you are probably in the fight of your life. But you still have some important shades of grey where you can pick a strike to the ribs to disable someone (that you couldn't instantly neutralize) as opposed to the throat.

And I suppose I just intend to work towards that level of stressful attack. Where stepping it up to that level would be extremely hard to train safely. I haven't thought through how to get that far. I do not believe that Aikido as a martial art was ever pressure tested at the level I'm thinking about, so it's kind of uncharted territory.

Rob

I don't know about all that obviously right now so can't really comment on it.

What I am looking at is getting suprised, overwhelmed, then either maintaining or regaining structure and then trying to override your opponents by interrupting his attack and/or moving to a better position. Finding or using weapons etc.

I am sure internals work wonderfully and there are some guys out there that can demonstrate how they apply and frankly I am interested.

My perspective and focus I think is on a different part of this. Again, no doubt if you have built an instinctive internal body, then by all means apply it! But there are some other elements as well that need to be trained I believe too.

lbb
08-16-2009, 08:45 PM
Do you believe that this isn't a confrontational statement?

Why, it couldn't possibly be. It has a smiley, doesn't it?

Erick Mead
08-16-2009, 09:15 PM
webster may have its definition of spiritual, but my definition has to do with working on my inner most self, to be a better person, and not by means of a higher power. As i stated in an earlier post spirituality can be completely separate from being religious. IMHO Depends on what you mean by religion? If you need to be a better person (who doesn't) does it not take a power better, or shall we say higher, to perhaps assist in that? I find it is never the length of the bootstrap that is the problem -- but the length of my arm ...

Lyle Bogin
08-17-2009, 08:33 AM
Isn't the purpose to discover it's purpose?

Aikido's meaning changes as we change.

jonreading
08-17-2009, 12:16 PM
At this point in my training, I suspect aikido is a tool through which one conditions the body and fortifies the soul to face conflict in life with courage and resolve.
1. Aikido is a martial art requiring discipline, testing and revelation in order to condition my body. My training helps to keep my body healthy, my reflexes quick and my mind sharp. Training empowers my body to do what my mind commands.
2. Aikido is a spiritual anvil. My training helps my to fortify my beilefs, morals, and character because I believe in a thing other than my body which has value...my soul. Training empowers my soul to have courage when it is tested.

I limit my definition to these specifics because there are many things in this world which make us better people. However, I contest that aikido is a crucible in which we should test and refine our humanity. Use whatever term with which you define your humanity...

However, related to my comments, I must observe:
1. How vigorous is your conditioning if you have never been injured in training? Heck, I've broken toes warming up for class...
2. How intense is your spiritual development if you are never willing to test your courage and resolve? Believe in yourself or don't, but why excuse yourself for not believing in yourself?

mathewjgano
08-17-2009, 01:18 PM
At this point in my training, I suspect aikido is a tool through which one conditions the body and fortifies the soul to face conflict in life with courage and resolve.
1. Aikido is a martial art requiring discipline, testing and revelation in order to condition my body. My training helps to keep my body healthy, my reflexes quick and my mind sharp. Training empowers my body to do what my mind commands.
2. Aikido is a spiritual anvil. My training helps my to fortify my beilefs, morals, and character because I believe in a thing other than my body which has value...my soul. Training empowers my soul to have courage when it is tested.

I limit my definition to these specifics because there are many things in this world which make us better people. However, I contest that aikido is a crucible in which we should test and refine our humanity. Use whatever term with which you define your humanity...

However, related to my comments, I must observe:
1. How vigorous is your conditioning if you have never been injured in training? Heck, I've broken toes warming up for class...
2. How intense is your spiritual development if you are never willing to test your courage and resolve? Believe in yourself or don't, but why excuse yourself for not believing in yourself?

I really liked that, thank you, Jon. It's funny, but I was just thinking a very similar set of thoughts in similar terminology, only a little less concise, so I really appreciated reading that.
Take care,
Matt

CarlRylander
08-20-2009, 05:13 AM
I don't do Aikido, yet but from what I have read and seen, the purpose is to resolve the situation with the minimum amount of violence.

Anjisan
08-20-2009, 01:14 PM
I don't do Aikido, yet but from what I have read and seen, the purpose is to resolve the situation with the minimum amount of violence.

I would hope that would be the perspective of anyone who practices a martial art, regardless of what art it happens to be--that is certainly how the law sees it. However, you are completely correct in that is how Aikido is portrayed and one of the very appealing aspects for me when I began.

Occasionally, I wonder if there is more of a disconnect in the Aikido world because of just that ideal. By that I mean that in the dojo strikes may not be the focus, but the techniques we do use performed on the street could severely injure or kill someone perhaps even more quickly than kicks and punches. I mean if one is on concrete--smack one's face or hit one's head... OUCH!

Therefore, I think that sometimes as Aikidoka we can fool ourselves (I am sure there those who take it to the point of being self-righteous)that we are LESS violent because that is what we as practitioner of the art aspire to and NOT because of the realistic results if we performed the art---in the fog of defending oneself--on the street.

Lulu
08-20-2009, 01:32 PM
I agree completely with Lyle - everything is always changeing, life and Aikido is not static, but always in motion.

lbb
08-20-2009, 03:12 PM
Therefore, I think that sometimes as Aikidoka we can fool ourselves (I am sure there those who take it to the point of being self-righteous)that we are LESS violent because that is what we as practitioner of the art aspire to and NOT because of the realistic results if we performed the art---in the fog of defending oneself--on the street.

"Sometimes"? Just about all the time, I'd say. Unlike a striking style, aikido inflicts injuries that are much more likely to have a permanent effect. As I've said before, I've had a broken nose and I've had a dislocated shoulder, and I know which I'd rather recover from. So much for the holier-than-thou "peaceful" attitude.

Suru
08-20-2009, 11:49 PM
Or in other words, if your Aikido doesn't have martial practicality to it-and trouble finds you--you may no longer be upright and breathing and if you are not, one may find it difficult to be spiritual.

I am fascinated by your wording here, Jason, albeit concise. I have never heard it put this way or pondered Aikido in this sense. To add to your words, not to rephrase, perhaps the goal here is to live and love, sometimes with tough love, and this cannot be accomplished by someone who can be easily defeated by a mental, physical, or spiritual aggressor. And they exist.

Thanks again, Jason. I feel like you shined light on our art that otherwise seems paradoxical to so many non-Aikidoka, and at least some Aikidoka.

Drew

Suru
08-20-2009, 11:59 PM
I would like to disagree with this statement, hopefully without giving offence. Maybe it's just that people with a deep need for spiritual connection would agree with you and those without, would not.

Needs: water, rice, shelter.

When it comes to needs for living a life of gladness, spiritual connection, i.e. to love and be loved are pretty basic.

So, there is a distinction between human needs to stay alive and human needs to reach a good level of enjoyment of life. I am generally a fan of Maslow's Hierarchy, but I have found his pyramid to be more complex than at first glance.

Drew