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Ellis Amdur
08-18-2009, 01:12 PM
I started aikido in 1973 at the New Haven Aikikai. The head instructor was Bob Barrett, and Terry Dobson and Harvey Koenigsberg were once-a-week instructors.
The doctrine of the day was Ueshiba Morihei had magic powers. As best as I can recall, this was attributed to his enlightenment experience, which opened up a mysterious world of power beyond that of most mortal men.
Takeda Sokaku was Ueshiba's teacher -- the man he transcended. Said to be not a nice man. Everybody I knew who cared (not that many) believed that Daito-ryu was still in existence. But it was "old-fashioned" and "crude" and "hard." There was confusion about what hard meant: meant to maim or kill, violent, or without what Ueshiba Morihei had. For example, I recall Saito Morihiro stating in an interview that Daito-ryu "lacked kokyu."
Tohei Koichi split around that time, and I remember that everyone in his organization was issued a "little black book" of aphorisms, which, at least at the dojos I attended, were read at the beginning of each class, a rather uncomfortable parallel to Mao's "Little Red Book." One had the sense that if one joined with Tohei, you had to drink a little Koolade. "Aikido with KI" sounded oxymoronic, and the mainstream/Aikikai line was that talking about "ki" didn't teach you ki. Better to practice hard and an understanding would emerge as a product of training.
Aikido was described as a "soft" martial art, and this term associated the art with t'ai chi, bagua and xingyi, though nobody really explained how. It was a statement so obvious that it didn't need explanation.There was a man training at the New Haven Aikikai, very intense, with a close-cropped head, a long goatee and piercing pale blue eyes - sort of a cross between a hippy-biker-carpenter. He studied t'ai chi with Cheng Man Ching. He'd try to stop the teachers' techniques, and proved himself to be not very skilled, but he was superlatively obsessive. One night after practice, he got into a rant about how disappointed he was with aikido, because "you guys talk about tantien -- you call it hara or something -- but you don't train it at all. Not in any way that makes sense. Cheng Man Ching. . ." (followed by ten minutes of explanation which included the appearance of the "ball," his stomach swelling as a mark, he said, of internal training). Anyway, Terry Dobson replied a little and defended aikido as a "soft martial art," because it was about the resolution of conflict and deflecting forces. The heavy-metal t'ai chi man didn't buy it. My first experience of the aiki-chi wars.

So here we are in 2009. I can claim a little of the credit -- not most, by any stretch of the imagination, but a little -- for reigniting an interest in internal training in aikido, suggesting that it does not have to have been merely the possession of the Magic Ueshiba. People are actually retrofitting aikido to truly be an internal martial art. Others are stepping forward and claiming that, in their faction at least, they have maintained at least some of O-sensei's actual training methods for internal power.

Of those "retrofitting," some hearken to Daito-ryu, a fraught subject, because the public demos of most of the factions are stiff, muscular kata, showing little evidence of internal training. A few others appear to be "soft," but contingent on dive-bunny uke, that appear to be reacting in utterly unrealistic ways. (Is that enough caveats for the protective and the defensive?)

Other people hearken to Chinese martial training methods, this, too, being a fraught subject. Some assert that by mixing Chinese internal training methods with aikido will result in a bastardized martial art, and others asserting that whatever the Chinese are doing, it isn't what "aiki" is.

Of those claiming to have had "aiki" type training all along, some are members of closed organizations that state that they only present said skills among their initiated. Other folks, students of one or another aikido teacher, claim such abilities for their teacher, but not for themselves.

As Heraclitus said several millennia ago, "War is the father of all things." But war is also hell. And a little bit of that hell occasionally seeps into AikiWeb.

Let me say at this point that this piece is a result of some discussions Jun and I have recently had -- but everything here is my opinion, not necessarily Jun's. What is clear to me is that AikiWeb, Jun's creation, was intended to be an Aikido oriented website. But this leads to a number of questions:
It makes no more sense to discuss Aikido without reference to Daito-ryu than it would to discuss Christianity or Islam without discussing Judaism.
Aikido is far more than internal training skills -- even though it is clear that Ueshiba made them central to his own practice. Just taking Ueshiba's perspective, - equally important are his spiritual preoccupations, the techniques themselves, his method of teaching and practice, and his personal mission of assisting in setting in harmony the relationship between heaven, earth and man. There is no doubt that the techniques were, to Ueshiba, a kind of sketching out, in embodied form, both the proper resolution of conflict, and the workings of the cosmos, as well as building the "aiki body." This was his aikido even if it's not yours.
However, aikido is not just that of Ueshiba Morihei. Starting with his pre-war disciples, then his own son, and his post-war disciples -- and theirs in turn -- there are now many aikido(s). The statement, "That's not MY aikido" makes sense. "That's not aikido" often makes less.This new-old discovery of internal strength training has led to some friction. For some, the aikido they did is something they now consider to have been a waste of time. For others, the aikido they do is something to defend. Although the addition of internal training does not conflict, in my view, with anything in classic aikido, it can certainly cause conflict in a discussion on the internet. In person, you either must be able to do what you describe or you cannot. On the internet, every one can be an avatar.

Let me lead this next bit with two caveats -- First, I'm writing about what I find grating on this side of this issue. I deal with ad hominem attacks, bliss-bunnies who prefer pabulum to genuine thought, grandiose fantasists who have no idea of their (lack of) strength, hurt feelings when a faith-based, unfounded precept is questioned, and intellectualized incomprehensible tomes about things not experienced, but deducted from brain-power alone with a simple, wonderful tool -- THE IGNORE LIST. I can proudly state that my ignore list is in double digits now -- and I have the same affection for it that I do for my "spam blocker" in my email and "ad-blocker" for my internal. "La-la-la-la-lah. I can't hear you!" My second caveat? I'm deliberately going over the top in what follows, so please don't write to me, saying, "I didn't say that." Someone else did:
If someone opens a thread on sexism in the dojo, it is not really on to post that without internal strength, sexism is impotent
If someone wants to write about resolution of conflict through aikido, it's not really on to write that without internal strength, you will be too weak to resolve anything.
If someone wants to ask how aikido has changed your life, it's not really on to write "you don't have a life worth changing without internal strength."
If someone wants to rhapsodize about Ueshiba Morihei's power, it's not really on -- EVERY TIME -- to point out that all his power was from Daito-ryu -- or to claim, without any substantiation beyond anecdote, inference, or the viewing of a few moments of Ueshiba on film, that one or another of his peers in Daito-ryu was far superior. They are all dead! How do you know who was stronger? Film shows what people choose to show, not all they might have known. And as for anecdote, I remember a trip to Taiwan in which, after visiting a number of Chinese "masters," each one made a point of telling me that they had beaten Wang Shu Chin, or that his technique was no good. Which made me want to study with Wang Shu Chin -- if everyone needed to climb that mountain to prove they were tough, then that was the mountain I wanted to be.
If someone wants to rhapsodize about Shioda Gozo's power, it's not really on to point out -- ALMOST EVERY TIME - the possible, but unsubstantiated, supposition that he got a power-up from his few sessions from Kodo Horikawa, thereby discounting all the years of Ueshiba's tuition of Shioda, particularly when Tenryu, without any axe to grind and in another context entirely, asserted that Shioda was the closest of all the deshi in skill and technique to Ueshiba. (I know this seems like a small issue, but my point is that it is an almost knee-jerk response -- as soon as someone marvels at someone's aikido, there is often a response that, "if it's marvelous, it's not from the aikido.")
It isn't cool -- and it's wrong -- to assert that aikido is just a form of watered-down Daito-ryu. That's as insulting as to assert that Christianity is a watered-down Judaism, or Buddhism is watered-down Hinduism. Roots are important, but the branches grow in different ways.
It truly -- truly -- isn't cool to chime in a discussion about the power one can develop within aikido practice or a question about martial efficacy of a technique with a post -- "So-and-so is the most powerful person you will ever meet. Once you feel him, you'll never go back again. He knows the real stuff and what you do is pathetic." OR -- "Aikido waza is useless. So-and-so's internal strength makes all of that to be a complete waste of time." Shilling for someone else is worse than someone doing it for himself or herself. It comes very close to "Let's you and him fight."
It equally truly isn't cool -- and it's incorrect as well - in answer a question on technique to assert that "so-and-so can, of course, stop that technique." The technique is a manifestation of the degree of integrity of the body and is not necessarily divorced from internal strength. What if so-and-so is the one doing the technique? What if so-and-so is Ueshiba -- or Sagawa? (A friend of mine peeked in Sagawa's dojo one time and saw them practicing kaiten-nage for an hour. Akuzawa Minoru told me that they practice a lot of nikkyo at the Sagawa dojo.) All a technical discussion does is elucidate the pattern of movement -- what you put into it is another question entirely. To claim that "so-and-so" can "stop a technique" is denigrate aikido in toto. On an aikido website. Where one is a guest.I can sum this up easily. I visit a friend's house. I meet his wife. I'm not going to say to him:
"You know, it puzzles me that you are still married to her. She really is a lousy cook."
"Maybe you haven't heard, but I've seen some pictures of your wife en flagrante with the Caltech slide-rule club. Which not only is kind of sad for you, but it also makes her a lot older than you thought. Nobody does slide-rule anymore."Lest some of my readers are feeling under attack, let me put my cards on the table -- I'm carrying an inside straight, but not a full house. I have very little interest in aikido technique and do not enjoy discussions on the resolution of conflict in aikido. I really do not enjoy discussions on the spiritual merits of aikido. I read AikiWeb for the history - Hi Peter - and for discussions about internal training.

BUT -- how can AikiWeb function best as an aikido site, while including both the new/newly-made-available information regarding internal training, without the latter taking over too many threads -- so that we guests who are not aikidoka, as well as those who have radically changed their aikido practice due to their introduction of such training methods can fit in smoothly in this aikido house? Continuing the "wife, metaphor," my friend may have incredibly cogent reasons for continuing his marriage, despite her previous history with the Caltech slide-rule team, including a shortened hakama and duct tape and pancakes, as well as the mysterious Bengalese belly buster, which I believe I mentioned in another thread some time ago.

Jun tried to manage things with a "Non-Aikido Martial Traditions" section. This solved part of the problem, but not all. Truly, that is the best place to introduce a discussion on what people are doing in Indonesian silat or Persian zhoor khane, even if that includes information relating to that in aikido.

But Daito-ryu is more than a "Non-aikido Martial Tradition." It's too close. And although internal strength discussions should not dominate every discussion, it should be a central question in aikido. You can't escape it! Honestly, were not many of you drawn to aikido because of Ueshiba Morihei? I was. Did not many of you see the film or photo of the jo trick, or some other manifestation of power and you wanted to be able to do the same? Ueshiba Morihei's power was the advertisement. How strange that we have been so satisfied so long, believing it is beyond our reach?

So I would propose the addition of two sections.
"The History of Aikido" -- which could include discussions on Daito-ryu as well as early days of aiki-budo, etc.
"Aikido and Internal Strength" - which, by necessity, would include discussions of Daito-ryu and internal strength training as well. Even for those who assert that there is something fundamentally different about aikido's "aiki" from that of Daito-ryu. However, if the question veered off into a central discussion of Chinese martial arts, for example, it should be moved or directed to the Non-aikido Martial Tradition."I would further suggest that there is the following understanding among us all. Let us say that there is a discussion in the General Section, or the Technique section, in which one or another poster feels would be better addressed by introducing a discussion about internal strength training. Of course, such discussion, in brief, might be absolutely appropriate to said section. But when the focus on the internal training would lead to "thread takeover," move it! For example, a poster asks about how one best to effect shihonage. And gets thirteen various posts on angle of execution, straight or curved arm, foot placement, etc. And in post #14, someone wants to write: "Shihonage is a manifestation of using the ground to effect aikiage and aikisage in one circle. You transfer power in spirals up the legs through the hara, using windings of ground force, etc." (I just made that up -- and I don't know what it means). What I suggest is that the writer starts a NEW thread in the Internal Strength section, with a preface, "In a recent discussion on shihonage (link) in the Technical section, etc., etc. It is a manifestation of using the ground . . . . ."

The point is that those who are not interested in internal power discussions, those who truly are asking about aspects of aikido apart from internal training (as most do), those who find such discussion to be incomprehensible gibberish, and those who find themselves squeezed out as soon as the subject is introduced do not have drop out of the thread or even decide to drop out of the forum. Now, all too frequently, a few familiar posters post post after post, rehashing the same arguments with each other. This is due, in part, to the push and pull that naturally occurs in trying to steer a discussion in one direction or another, while it's going in two or more directions at the same time.

It is my belief that introducing these two new sections will go a long way to allow discussion to proceed in a more collegial and informative way. Ellis Amdur is a licensed instructor (shihan) in two koryu: Araki-ryu Torite Kogusoku and Toda-ha Buko-ryu Naginatajutsu. His martial arts career is approximately forty years -- in addition to koryu, he has trained in a number of other combative arts, including muay thai, judo, xingyi and aikido.

A recognized expert in classical and modern Japanese martial traditions, he has authored three books and one instructional DVD on this subject. The most recent is his just released Hidden in Plain Sight: Tracing the Roots of Ueshiba Morihei's Power.

Information regarding his publications on martial arts, as well as other books on crisis intervention can be accessed at his website: www.edgework.info (http://www.edgework.info)

Thomas Campbell
08-18-2009, 01:51 PM
Well-thought-out and well-presented proposals. Thanks. They make eminently good sense to me--although (obviously) it's up to everyone individually to take responsibility for the spirit as well as the content of their posts, in any forum.

By the way, I saw those pictures of the Cal-Tech Slide Rule Club. Absolutely shocking!! I'm glad you refrained from posting them . . . certainly not suitable for a family forum like this.

:D

Marc Abrams
08-18-2009, 01:53 PM
So Ellis,

How do you REALLY feel about the tenor, topics, etc... on the Aikiweb :D .

Marc Abrams

Ron Tisdale
08-18-2009, 02:14 PM
Thanks Ellis...

I'll try to behave from now on!

Best,
Ron

NagaBaba
08-18-2009, 02:27 PM
These are very good suggestions, but I don’t have too much hope it will be realized successfully.

I remember in old good days when BJJ has been doing it first steps, there were a lot of fresh converts from aikido who came to some aikido forums to behave exactly like today’s converts to internal training. We can call their reaction overenthusiastic, or rude, depends of emotional filter. Today, when BJJ folks are more mature and don’t need to prove around they are ‘the best’ we can have interesting discussion with them. How many years it will take for the ‘internalists’ to be mature enough? I’d guess 10 years. So from experience I think next 10 years they still will hijack any discussion about aikido.

They talk badly about aikido, but they still need aikido audience. Go figure.

Fresh ‘internal’ convert is always trying to be more aiki then Takeda himself LOL

Ron Tisdale
08-18-2009, 02:50 PM
Ten years! God forbid. I think we can grow up faster than that.

Best,
Ron

jxa127
08-18-2009, 03:04 PM
Excellent suggestions, Ellis.

With the work that Stan Pranin, Peter, you (and others) have done over the years, the history of aikido section could be a real treasure.

Having a dedicated spot for aikido and internal training would also help smooth out the discussions, but my hope is that a specific sub-forum won't be necessary. A few years ago, aikido and cross-training was a huge debate. In some ways, the ongoing, multi-faceted internal strength conversation is a continuation of the cross-training debate. Basically, some people have over time have looked for something more out of their aikido training. The previous debates centered on aikido people not striking/attacking well, etc. Now we're not throwing well either. :) That's not to say that people weren't right about the cross-training issue. They're seemingly right about the aiki issue too.

However, I'm either optimistic enough or naive enough to think that given a little more time people on this board will figure out how to address the issues without devolving into a rant about internal strength in every single topic.

To put it another way, there are still a lot of folks who think that cross-training with karate or BJJ, or whatever is exceptionally valuable to one's aikido. There are plenty of others who think that aikido is all they need. But, there's no need for a separate "aikido and cross-training" sub-forum. Hopefully that will be true of aikido and internal strength.

Regards,

-Drew

Alfonso
08-18-2009, 04:08 PM
another vote for the "History" and "Internal Training" forums.

:)

dps
08-18-2009, 04:22 PM
another vote for the "History" and "Internal Training" forums.

:)

Dittos.

David

Keith Larman
08-18-2009, 04:50 PM
No votes from me. It is Jun's sandbox and I'll respect whatever decision he makes.

But great article on the underlying topics. I found myself getting pulled into one of those discussions and wish I could have just pointed to this column instead of repeatedly trying to clarify myself. The only end result was me walking away in disgust and avoiding the place for a while.

I had to remind myself that ignore lists are your friend.

SeiserL
08-18-2009, 05:22 PM
Osu Sensei,
Always a pleasure.
Rei, Domo.

Chuck Clark
08-18-2009, 06:25 PM
Thanks Ellis... I keep forgetting the ignore function. I sorta do it automatically anyway. The two new forums seem to be a good idea to me. I also really appreciate the information shared on AikiWeb that helps us broaden our views of history. It's important.

Best regards,

Robert Cowham
08-18-2009, 09:35 PM
Bravo Ellis - pointed, refreshing, enlightening and entertaining, and yet with an appropriate reminder of etiquette.

So did Mark Twain do aikido?!

rob_liberti
08-22-2009, 10:33 PM
I recall the old BJJ taking over aikiweb craze. Aikido folks studying aiki getting treated like those folks is just so bizarre.

A couple years ago, I actually responded to some technique thread talking about kotegaeshi from a more internal stand point thinking - you know in a forum everyone could have a voice. And I was shocked that my post was moved to a place called "non-aikido whatever..." So I got annoyed and took about a year or so off from aikiweb.

It's one side of the coin to be dominating every discussion about internals. But it's quite another to be told that what you do in your own AIKIDO dojo is now non-aikido because you want to do aikido more like O-sensei. :crazy:

So, years go by and we finally had a thread in the general section about IT. I said everything I wanted to say. I tried to take it further about how to best put aiki back into aikido and didn't get too much traction. I don't think enough people are ready. That time will come, and it won't have much to do with _my_ maturity.

I would love to have some of the forums that Ellis suggests. Otherwise, unless asked, I'll probably not post all that often about aiki unless I get interested in one of my hot buttons like:

posts about TRUE Internal Strength or TRUE aiki, or true shihonage, etc. (If you have an alternative context, state it or be subject to questioning)
posts about how just showing up to the dojo to basically masterbate as a client is just as valid as showing up to actually be a student (annoyed me way before I had any idea about aiki)
-or my new favorite- posts that say things like "I've got a secret, and the VALUES of that secret are also a secret". Can't help it; that one gets my interest every time.


Rob

Mike Sigman
08-23-2009, 04:42 PM
Harking back a few (very few) years, I can remember asking a number of Aikido experts about the ki skills in relation to the fact that at a minimum both Ueshiba and Tohei demonstrated those skills repeatedly as part of their Aikido. Ueshiba and Tohei never demonstrated MMA or Systema or other "arts that will help your Aikido improve". But for a limited number (as a start) of people to begin understanding how intrinsic these skills that Tohei and Ueshiba demonstrated are a part of Aikido is a pretty good start.

The problem is that (in my opinion) these skills are so intrinsic to Aikido that it's impossible (or absurd) to relegate them to "other" types of discussions. Ultimately, as more people become aware of the obviousness of the conclusions, I think the "internal" problem will go away. If the skills become understood in the full context of not only the abilities, but also the derivations and the breadth of the relationships in the cosmology and quasi-religious, then the "IT" will expand into the forums on 'spiritual', 'training', and so on. I.e., all we're watching is a work in progress, not a static situation.

My 2 cents.

Mike Sigman

Rabih Shanshiry
08-25-2009, 08:39 PM
Respect!

dps
08-26-2009, 05:17 AM
Guest are welcomed and can make you realize some things that you have ignored. Guests should not abuse or overstay their welcome. They can always be asked to leave. How they behave determines if they are asked or allowed back.

Always treat guest nicely because you may be a guest in their house someday.

We are all guests at Jun's website.

David

Larry Cuvin
08-26-2009, 10:28 AM
Sublime.

Thank you very much.

akiy
08-27-2009, 01:11 PM
Hi folks,

Any other thoughts on Ellis's column? I want to encourage the discussion as I welcome everyone's thoughts on this matter, as the discussion may impact some future decisions I may make for these forums.

Thanks,

-- Jun

Ron Tisdale
08-27-2009, 01:18 PM
I'm personally trying to heed Ellis's advice. Instead of commenting on a thread that already has "issues", taking a relevent post and using that as a spring board for a new thread. And leaving the other stuff behind, without even commenting on it. I think if we do that at the beginning of "those" threads, it will help the signal to noise ratio greatly, and allow everybody to enjoy the site and the discussions.

Best,
Ron

MM
08-27-2009, 01:29 PM
Hi folks,

Any other thoughts on Ellis's column? I want to encourage the discussion as I welcome everyone's thoughts on this matter, as the discussion may impact some future decisions I may make for these forums.

Thanks,

-- Jun

I hadn't thought of it as an open discussion type of thing. Thanks for soliciting our thoughts, Jun. Not sure what mine are, but now that I understand better, I'll try to get something together.

NagaBaba
08-27-2009, 03:49 PM
Hi folks,

Any other thoughts on Ellis's column? I want to encourage the discussion as I welcome everyone's thoughts on this matter, as the discussion may impact some future decisions I may make for these forums.

Thanks,

-- Jun
As there is only very limited number of users hijacking any topic with their 'internal' ideas you may introduce a new tool, that is used only by admin - warnings.
I.e.
3 warnings = interdiction of writing for 1 month.
5 warnings = ban(no read, no write) for 3 months.

It shouldn't be a lot of additional work for you. I know some version of software offers this functionality.

gdandscompserv
08-27-2009, 04:15 PM
Well, there is the Marine Corps alternative. When any one of us gets out of line, Jun could make us all do 20 virtual push-ups.:D

Dan Rubin
08-27-2009, 04:19 PM
It seems to me that the problem is with argumentative posters. Some time ago Ellis criticized posters who felt obliged (or compulsive/obsessive) to have the last word. In fact, one of them justified his relentless arguments by asserting his duty to prevent the other poster from having the last word, because that would leave the rest of us with incorrect information.

I often feel that O Sensei was misquoted when he said there is no competition in aikido. What he really said was, “There is no competition in aikido; leave that for AikiWeb!”

It’s not what you do that matters, it’s how you do it, and that goes for just about everything, including posting on AikiWeb.

Perhaps certain posters could be limited to no more than three posts per thread. They could be put on “3X3 probation”: three posts for three months. It might force them to present their arguments more succinctly (or it might result in three posts that go on forever).

Anyway, those are my thoughts on what I think is the subject of this thread.

Peter Goldsbury
08-27-2009, 05:54 PM
Jun,

The version of the V-Bulletin software used over at E-Budo has a system of Warnings and Infractions built into it. The scale of penalties is decided by the Administrator and used by the moderators. It is automatic and easy to use. I have used it occasionally (and have always followed this up with a PM to the transgressor). I have not had to use it for many months.

As with E-Budo, so with AikiWeb, there is a small group of posters whose grasp of the rules and conventions for productive discussion seems limited. Attempts at education or training are the only recourse here, it seems to me, but this involves some individual interaction with the offending posters. I think moderators are the ones who should do this, not other posters.

Of course, it goes without saying that such moderating has to be scrupulously fair and even handed.

Best wishes,

PAG

Mike Sigman
08-27-2009, 08:33 PM
The version of the V-Bulletin software used over at E-Budo has a system of Warnings and Infractions built into it. The scale of penalties is decided by the Administrator and used by the moderators. It is automatic and easy to use. I have used it occasionally (and have always followed this up with a PM to the transgressor). I have not had to use it for many months.
My problem with the assuaging comments about E-Budo's moderation is that E-Budo is moderated by people with "expertise" that is quite similar to the "expertise" that has been exhibited by many other western-expert dominated forums... what the moderators deem appropriate seems to be determined mostly by their own view of what they think they know. As has been shown on AikiWeb and other forums, often the 'experts' are really simply the established hierarchy protecting their own view of their expertise.

In the case of AikiWeb there has been a noticeable change in what some of the onboard 'experts' viewed as correct, over a period of time. In the case of E-Budo, I never saw any indication that the 'experts' who were moderators were in any way willing to indicate that there was anything in which they were not already experts. The fact that some of the moderators, notably Nathan Scott, but others also, were willing to use their position rather than factual argument as a final factors in determining what was 'correct' has done a lot to damage the overall reputation of E-Budo. Thus goes the glory of all earthly things.

Based on their own whimsey and self-styled expertise, I've seen E-Budo toss a lot of people off their forum (me included). Of what use is such a forum if arbitrary whim trumps factual debate? Very obviously, such a forum is going to guide what is said on the forum by what the experts think they know, rather than putting the 'experts' into the situation of having to defend their positions with factual and 'how-to' commentary. In other words, as a forum of value, I think that E-Budo fails completely in the ultimate test.

In the case of AikiWeb, Jun is basically doing a form of solo-pilot... he can change the flight-course at whim. In the comparison with what has happened on E-Budo with its many self-congratulatory moderators and what has happened on solo-piloted AikiWeb, Jun is far ahead of the 'experts' on E-Budo... he's shifted course as need be.

Personally, I don't like or recommend E-Budo; I think the moderators are partisan to their own supposed expertise and therefore they potentially lead people astray. I don't say that lightly. I think E-Budo has a danger-potential built into it and should be avoided.

I would suggest that if some moderator or titled-position on E-Budo wants to debate a point, they should both argue the facts and, if they are a moderator, pull their position out of the debate and then also argue the facts... and (most importantly) the 'how-to's'.

All that being said, I think Jun is picking his way the best that he can, based upon what he knows, his wisom, and his expertise.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
08-27-2009, 08:47 PM
Incidentally... as a passing thought. Many people caught my inviting Nathan Scott onto Aikido Journal one time to debate a point. Please bear in mind that I only did that trivially, to point out that when he is not the moderator and thus able to wield power, he should be able to factually rather than trivially argue what he knows. At best, he seems to fall back onto the old trope that he is guarding the secrets of a koryu while not seeming to know the basics of the discussion at hand... how to do internal strength.

I had no axe to grind when I did that; I simply wanted to make an archived point. The vararies of established internet forums are often easily available to people who want to search the archives. In a number of case, including the JudoForum and E-Budo, my impression (and the impression of others) is that uncomfortable archives are deleted.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Peter Goldsbury
08-27-2009, 08:56 PM
Well, as a moderator on E-Budo, I disagree on quite a number of points you raise, but I do not plan to rebut these points here.

My point in mentioning E-Budo was not to discuss the moderation in that forum, but to point to the system of Warnings and Infractions that the V-Bulletin software has.

I think the fact that I stated earlier that any moderation here has to be scrupulously fair and even-handed indicates my own views on moderating forums.

Mike Sigman
08-27-2009, 09:10 PM
Well, as a moderator on E-Budo, I disagree on quite a number of points you raise, but I do not plan to rebut these points here.My contention would be that the archives of E-Budo (what hasn't been deleted) support my point fairly clearly. If, similarly, you look at the positions on AikiWeb a few years prior, you'll see the same sort of awkward point being made: what is "known" assertively by experts can come back to haunt at later times. Ipso facto.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Buck
08-27-2009, 09:20 PM
My 25 satrang is that Ellis has really worked things out well. It shows how much of a concentrated effort there is on his part. I see it as a mix of good advice and a S.O.P. (standard operating procedure) that in itself if implemented in part or whole would be very beneficial goal.

The issue is that each individual would have to voluntarily refrain from and contain their own behavior illustrated by Ellis to work 100%. This, for some would require a great effort to use tolerance, refrain, understanding and seeing the big picture in refrain from such behavior illustrated by Ellis. This is the most difficult variable to control, but the most important in achieving the overall goal. Any thing that is said on this board is a reflection upon all of us.

To achieve the goal isn't going to be easy. It will take a lot of effort from all of us. Especially in the natural discourse of disagreement. But the goal is achievable, IMO. The bottom line is if Aikiweb is a more harmonious place, people like me will be more willing to be supportive and contributing members. We will not see it as risk.

And honestly, my initial behavior when I first started this board was a result of the board. I thought that was the house rules to be the way I was. I now realize that was a misconception on my part. As a result I am working very diligently on a more positive approach. I ask people to understand that I am not a writer and my writing is rough, awkward, and that kind of stuff and can lead to unwanted misuderstandings. Basically, I am saying I am practicing what I am preaching. Thus, my way of showing a serious effort on my part to contribute a positive effort here.

akiy
08-28-2009, 12:46 AM
Hi Peter,

Thank you for your thoughts regarding the infractions system. As some folks here know personally, I do use it on occasion.

As far as e-budo.com goes, let's please keep the discussion "local" and focused on AikiWeb. If you feel the need to talk about the moderation policies of other websites, please do so elsewhere -- not here.

Thank you,

-- Jun

MM
08-28-2009, 07:32 AM
My problem with the assuaging comments about E-Budo's moderation is that E-Budo is moderated by people with "expertise" that is quite similar to the "expertise" that has been exhibited by many other western-expert dominated forums... what the moderators deem appropriate seems to be determined mostly by their own view of what they think they know. As has been shown on AikiWeb and other forums, often the 'experts' are really simply the established hierarchy protecting their own view of their expertise.

In the case of AikiWeb there has been a noticeable change in what some of the onboard 'experts' viewed as correct, over a period of time. In the case of E-Budo, I never saw any indication that the 'experts' who were moderators were in any way willing to indicate that there was anything in which they were not already experts. The fact that some of the moderators, notably Nathan Scott, but others also, were willing to use their position rather than factual argument as a final factors in determining what was 'correct' has done a lot to damage the overall reputation of E-Budo. Thus goes the glory of all earthly things.

Based on their own whimsey and self-styled expertise, I've seen E-Budo toss a lot of people off their forum (me included). Of what use is such a forum if arbitrary whim trumps factual debate? Very obviously, such a forum is going to guide what is said on the forum by what the experts think they know, rather than putting the 'experts' into the situation of having to defend their positions with factual and 'how-to' commentary. In other words, as a forum of value, I think that E-Budo fails completely in the ultimate test.

In the case of AikiWeb, Jun is basically doing a form of solo-pilot... he can change the flight-course at whim. In the comparison with what has happened on E-Budo with its many self-congratulatory moderators and what has happened on solo-piloted AikiWeb, Jun is far ahead of the 'experts' on E-Budo... he's shifted course as need be.

Personally, I don't like or recommend E-Budo; I think the moderators are partisan to their own supposed expertise and therefore they potentially lead people astray. I don't say that lightly. I think E-Budo has a danger-potential built into it and should be avoided.

I would suggest that if some moderator or titled-position on E-Budo wants to debate a point, they should both argue the facts and, if they are a moderator, pull their position out of the debate and then also argue the facts... and (most importantly) the 'how-to's'.

All that being said, I think Jun is picking his way the best that he can, based upon what he knows, his wisom, and his expertise.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

I think that's a fairly accurate summation, Mike. Between the two, I have no doubts that Jun has handled Aikiweb far better than how E-Budo has been handled. Although, I'd guess Jun has had more headaches doing so.

I have had differences of opinion with both E-Budo moderators(To be fair, I don't include all moderators at E-Budo) and Jun. I left E-Budo because of how things were handled. I've been a sponsor of Aikiweb.

Sorry to get slightly off-topic, Jun. But I think it illustrates a point not made. That adding moderators to handle things isn't always the best way to go. And as we've seen, using an infraction system isn't always the best way to go, either. Comparing both usages, I'd have to say Aikiweb has fared significantly better.

I certainly don't have many answers for the situation. I think Ellis' suggestions are fair. I particularly liked the idea of a history section. As for DR, aiki, IS, etc, ... I just don't know. It seems kind of redundant to call it Aikido and Internal Strength. Aikido is literally the way of aiki. Aiki is internal strength. :)

But, then again, you can't just call it aiki because that word is defined differently amongst the various schools/systems.

Failing to come up with any measurable suggestions, I find a newly created forum Aikido and Internal Strength much better than Non-Aikido Martial Traditions.

Or perhaps, since the main forums have an understood essence of Aikido (training, spiritual, history, etc), we just call it Internal Strength with the understanding that Ellis has suggested?


which, by necessity, would include discussions of Daito-ryu and internal strength training as well. Even for those who assert that there is something fundamentally different about aikido's "aiki" from that of Daito-ryu. However, if the question veered off into a central discussion of Chinese martial arts, for example, it should be moved or directed to the Non-aikido Martial Tradition.

Mike Sigman
08-28-2009, 09:40 AM
As far as e-budo.com goes, let's please keep the discussion "local" and focused on AikiWeb. Well, the e-Budo example illustrates a rule that applies to many forums, including AikiWeb, and it can be used to illustrate a common problem: On most forums, discussions about the ki-related skills is moderated in a manner that reflects the moderators own knowledge of the subject. Since most moderators currently have little or no knowledge about the topic, moderation decisions suffer.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

akiy
08-28-2009, 10:53 AM
Thank you, Mark and Mike, for your thoughts. Let's move on from discussing E-budo.com's moderation policies now, as I will again request.

-- Jun

Dan Rubin
08-28-2009, 01:03 PM
A point I tried to make in my previous post is that the problem (in my opinion) is not with the subject of posts, whether the subject is ki or jin or whatever, but the tone of some posts, the arguments and challenges and insults and the inability of some posters to accept that their truth may not be my truth and the inability of some posters to just let it go.

So (in my opinion), it doesn't matter whether a moderator understands the subject matter, it's a matter of whether the moderator understands posting etiquette and whether posters will accept the moderator's rules of etiquette and state their opinions within those rules.

jxa127
08-28-2009, 01:13 PM
Jun,

I'll reiterate what I said above in a much wordier way: I think the aikido history forum is a great idea. I hope the internal strength forum won't be necessary.

Regards,

Drew

Ellis Amdur
08-29-2009, 11:52 AM
I don't see a sub-section of Internal Strength and Aiki as "ghettoizing" the subject. We have a separate section called "Spiritual," for example, where one can highlight anything from Ueshiba's spiritiual intentions to such subjects as Omotokyo, Mitake-kyo, Shin Shin toitsu, etc. To be sure, such a discussion could also occur in the General section - a point I also made in the article. But having separate sections allows one to focus on that aspect of training.

I agree with Mike and Mark that, truly, Ueshiba's aikido, at least, was always imbued with internal strength - and my opinion is that everyone else's should have been. That said, there are both other aspects of aikido and "other aikido's" that have developed. Just as aikido is not DR, many aikidos are not Ueshiba's, and many DR are not Takeda's. (There's a whole other story of concealment and HIPS there).

My idea was simply that a history and IT section would enhance discussion, just as a spiritual and a technique section already do. I think that the other subject that people have raised here - posters that people find obnoxious, irritating, won't shut up, etc., is best served by the ignore button and a moderator casting out, if a person is egregiously offensive. That was NOT the focus of my original article, which is how to make discussions on Aikiweb most productive, not how to deal with Mr. A or Ms B., who are easily ignored.
Best

Kevin Leavitt
08-29-2009, 12:13 PM
I agree with the separate area that Ellis proposes. Personally I break my own practice down into separate areas. I study Jiu Jitsu Skills as Jiu Jitsu Skills. When I do IT, I don't do the same type of things since this is a particular type of training with a different emphasis. Same with Spiritual stuff. Diet and Nutrition as well. All important areas in budo, but they do need to be looked at indepth in isolation in order to understand them I believe.

There is a synthesis at some point that needs to occur, putting all the pieces back together, but that is another subject I think.

So, I think it is better to have an IT section where we concentrate on just those things related to that area of tralning.

I do see how many view IT and Aiki as being the same. Personally I feel it is that way too, but the reality of it is that many view AIkiDO as a holistic system of synthesis fusing Jiu Jitsu and IT, Spiritual etc together...so I think it better to break this out for this reason.

Dan Rubin
08-29-2009, 12:40 PM
The “General” forum has accumulated 4,808 threads, far, far more than any other forum. So that itself might indicate that more forums might be helpful, perhaps several more. I agree that History and Internal Strength/Training forums would be good ones.

I don’t know if additional forums would make Jun’s work more or less difficult.

Amir Krause
09-01-2009, 06:13 AM
Great post

Bravo for expressing something many here feel.

Amir

thisisnotreal
09-01-2009, 11:30 AM
re: annoying posters /gadflies

can we have a self-moderating system in threads whereby you can nominate the turkey; and if they get 'seconded' too many times they are locked out from posting on that thread topic?
(may require scripting or software?)

Buck
09-01-2009, 09:35 PM
re: annoying posters /gadflies

can we have a self-moderating system in threads whereby you can nominate the turkey; and if they get 'seconded' too many times they are locked out from posting on that thread topic?
(may require scripting or software?)

Wouldn't that be an unfair and a dangerous system, wholly subjective to ruling elite and/or influencial elite, squelching debate due to disagreement or fancy. And inhibiting expression, dialogue, intellectual exchange of ideas, free speech, censorship, and to mention profiling? Heck, I get that enough at work! :crazy: :D

Ron Tisdale
09-02-2009, 07:19 AM
Hi Josh, unfortunately, that rarely seems to work. Even the most obnoxious often have their supporters.

Not only that, but when Stanley gave up on the open forum he ran at aikidojournal.com, and started moderating very strictly, the quality of the discussions dropped sharply. I'm not all together sure why...I believe I supported the move at the time, but the end result was not quite as hoped for.

In the long run, we have to moderate ourselves...each one of us indiviually. In spite of others who do not. I think Ellis's suggestions are the best addition to that.

Best,
Ron

Demetrio Cereijo
09-02-2009, 07:37 AM
re: annoying posters /gadflies

Irimi and atemi. No holds barred.

Rob Watson
09-02-2009, 07:59 PM
re: annoying posters /gadflies

can we have a self-moderating system in threads whereby you can nominate the turkey; and if they get 'seconded' too many times they are locked out from posting on that thread topic?
(may require scripting or software?)

Instead of a cake next the names on birthdays instead a ranking indicating how many folks have you on their buddy/ignore list? Somebody with 0/100 (zero buddies and 100 ignores) might tend to get the message.

Seems like nobody posts over on that other aikido web site anymore ...

tarik
09-07-2009, 01:28 AM
Good thoughts.

I guess I forget about the ignore features because I tend to filter people I'm not interested in hearing from simply by skimming past their posts. I never used them even back in rec.martial-arts (or other forums).

FWIW, I think the history and IT forums are appropriate ways to organize discussions and I'd love to see them.

Regards,

DH
09-08-2009, 01:12 PM
The "history" and "IT" forums will not work. Why? It ties in with Ron's query and confusion as to why Aikido journal died and why E-budo more or less is dead to the quality of discussion compared to it's past.
Lack of dynamics in the discussion.

New information
Many times the ones with information are prompted by reading the nonsense from the unknowing (even when the unknowing are the supposed experts). Particularly when you see more "popular support" for incomplete and generally wrong information and direction (I feel that way about the latest turn with just Kokyu as a focus in aikido here lately ) leading to a lowest common denominator type of discussion.

If you get a whole bunch of people with the same interests moving in the same direction there will never be the same dynamics- therefore, less prompts. And the popularity of even bad information reduces the denominator anyway.

Challenging the accepted standard
Judo forum, E-budo, AJ, are all examples of the reducing the dialogue to topics that do not challenge the status quo. E-budo -(particularly one moderator who's behavior I later discovered has become well known across other forums) has allowed hard-line censoring of information, with threads disappearing and even internal editing and rewriting of peoples posts!!. A perfect example for killing a forum.
Were Aikiweb to confine the topic of internal training for aiki by placing into a very narrow parameter and leave the rest of the site for discussing popular aikido-it will all but kill many of the prompts that lead to "IT" discussion. That might prove to be a very good idea for many people; as it will solve the majority of "problems" people see.
It's a question of perception. I see "IT" as everything in aikido from it's spiritual underpinnings, to its waza, to its ukemi, to its aiki. Others see it as only a part, others do not see it at all and want it to go away and return to the peace of shared dialogue in what the majority know.
I happen to think those "problems" are the best thing that has ever happened to aikido since its founding.

Martial arts-left to the natural flow of organizational evolution diminish or die.
1. Entrepreneurial energy and creativeness
2. Creating the industry standard
3. Resting on its laurels (lack of drive to keep up with new information and change)
4. Eventual decline in market (already happening in aikido across the globe)
5. Out of business

In the absence of physical challenge for veracity and intellectual challenge for methodology that leads to soundness in physical expression- "group think" in martial arts always wins out. It is the singular reason why most martial arts and those in them are so bad at them.

The web as an instrument of change
Aikiweb has remained open to these challenging ideas and the difficulties in presenting them-and has become one of the premier sites for Martial Arts on the web. IMO, these discussons are a very sigfnicant reason for that. In other words, becasue of the receptiveness to discuss these difficult topics and also in being patient with the weaknesses and "failings" of those trying to forward them. Jun has not only made a venue for aikido to grow, he is lifting the receptivenss for others artists (Chinese and judo and BJJ) to reconsider the art of aikido that they all but wrote off in the past! That's my observation of talking with people from those arts in person and on the web from what they were told to come here and read, and their subsequant changed opinions for having read these pages!

Whether my idea that this change will greatly diminish the promptsthat forward discussion- remains to be seen.
I think I used up my alloted time for the day.
Cheers
Dan

.

Mike Sigman
09-08-2009, 01:29 PM
I more or less agree with Dan's premises. Personally, I think there are only a limited number of people who will chase the "IT"; the "IT" is actually what is traditionally part of the "self cultivation" of the Tao, Buddhism, Confucianism, etc., and very few people seriously will follow a "Do" (Tao). Of course everyone says a Tao/Do is what they want to do, but that's like the same way everyone says they want to go to Heaven someday.... just not yet. ;)

I think Aikido is at the beginning of a trip, so there's no rush to set up the infrastructure, etc., until the direction becomes clearer. When the dust settles, I suspect that a lot of people will grab little bits and pieces and some incomplete skills; few people will actually go for the Full Banana.

YMMV

Mike Sigman

Ellis Amdur
09-08-2009, 01:55 PM
Dan and Mike - as far as your perspective is concerned - I agree with both of you.
And/But - I think some of Dan's concerns regarding creativity resulting form the collision of opposing viewpoints are covered in the sense that I suggest that a lot of IT comments/discussions can and should be placed in the General/Technical sections, but that if something "threatens" do take the thread too far off course, one starts a new thread in the specific section.
For example - let us say that someone wants to start discussing kaitennage, and some bright fellow notes that kaiten-nage is a sumo technique, and it is particularly used when you've pushed someone up to the edge of the ring and as they counter push, you open up, push down their head and wringingly twist their belt and throw them. And then someone says, "Wow, and Daito-ryu is supposed to come from sumo," and sumo history, blah, blah blah. Logical, is it not, to start a thread in the history section and continue the discussion on kaitennage in the original thread?
I do NOT believe that any mention of IT should start in an IT section or immediately be placed in that ghetto as soon as it raises it's shaggy head.
Best
Ellis Amdur

thisisnotreal
09-08-2009, 02:31 PM
Amazing posts. Wow.

From the cheap seats, a few more ideas
1) Perhaps suggest to have ‘lounge' or relaxed off-topic discussion area
2) Allow the author to be able to set threads to ‘unbumpable'. This would mean that posting to one of those threads does not result in the thread title being bumped up to the top-level. I was thinking that this may be conducive to some more long-term and subtle conversations; as each post would not necessarily elicit the same level of in-your-faceness. The thinking here is that at present, and in general, each thread is imbued with a relatively short life-cycle. The subtle increase in granularity here by marking a thread (or even posts) as ‘unbumpable' may be conducive to allowing some threads to settle somewhere slightly below the surface allowing for more open and long-term discussions…using already existing member tools such as ‘subscribe to thread' make this easy.

m2c

Mike; you wrote: ""IT" is actually what is traditionally part of the "self cultivation" of the Tao". May I ask, does that then mean that pursuing IT ultimately becomes a ‘way' (i.e. like in a religion; or .. only makes sense in the context of a religion)? Sorry if too OT, but a fascinating point you raise, nonetheless.

I also just wanted to express my gratitude for Aikiweb, and all those here.
With respect,
Josh