View Full Version : Article: Aikido as Spiritual Practice in the United States by Peter Boylan
03-25-2002, 11:11 AM
Discuss the article, "Aikido as Spiritual Practice in the United States" by Peter Boylan here.
Article URL: http://www.aikiweb.com/spiritual/boylan2.html
03-26-2002, 08:19 AM
Gosh. Fairly Tome there, now.
03-27-2002, 08:46 AM
Not as dry and concise as Donn Draeger's writings, but some interesting points about Americans?
There is still a misunderstanding of religion and the practice of Aikido, verses the dry teaching of martial arts that benefit from this style of jujitsu/jutjitsu which incorporates a gentler tone? The physical practice of Aikido being translated into religion ... hmm ... could that relate to someone obsessed with working more than forty hours a week also?
Some secrets not mentioned, eight points, triangle, square, circle, one-point projection, rooting, Iron body, and a whole host of adaptive cross training methods that directly lead to techniques of Aikido being compared to practice with sword and stick/ bokken and jo? Many of these crossing into a variety of empty hand, weapons, and various fighting arts around the world, the actual geometry of angles and logical conclusions from that math to actual movements within human capabilities are sometimes touted as creation of a certain MA?
(I guess my first teacher was very generous to relating his learning of different styles of training to his interest in various fighting styles? Unlike his teacher who demanded total loyalty to himself as the giver of new techniques and training methods, sensei Dave even took the time to check out different Aikido schools within an hours drive of our area before he introduced me to my present Aikido teacher. He even attended a two month session of classes, even though his balance and health were declining at that time.)
The social/ religious aspects of Aikido affecting strengthening of religious beliefs while not spurring exceptional attendance to each person's chosen religion, is an interesting fact. Is that the broader faith of coming closer to the social, moral, and environmental issues of our time, or merely the effect of learning that negative emotions bring negative results in more things in life than just fighting relate to the mind questioning religious doctrine that was previously unapproachable? Kind of like hearing the things your father and mother say actually have meaning and sense in the world ... coming out of your mouth to your children? Or is it the ironic justice of growing up?
Another minor point. People have fun doing aikido, as in, they laugh, they bounce, they come back for more with a joyful childish smile? At least in my classes, seminars, and experiences ... compared to the pain and torture of beating each other senseless in karate? Karate always left bruised bones, muscles, spirit, while aikido was tiring but extremely rare in injuries interfering in going to work hurt/injured?
If this article points out nothing else of importance, it touches on the creation/ separtation of students from teacher who find their own way in the world because they think differently, wanting to pursue another direction. Hey, that sounds like the other question, should Morehei Ueshiba be the inventor of Aikido? That would mean it depends on who told you the story, wouldn't it? He just answered his own question.
The fact that people who practice other martial arts find their way to Aikido, then stay with it, even after teaching in other MA, speaks volumes for the depth of Aikido as a MA. It also opens the Pandora's Box to just how applicable is Aikido to blending and including other MA within its teachings ... that could get a bit touchy as the very mindset for Aikido was not to delve into the dark areas of selfish means? Still, Aikido and Tai Chi could be two of the secret arts brought to the masses that have face value, and hidden values also.
Do yourself a favor and learn about the legends and stories of the Six Nations of New York. It is a beginning point, but it does have many stories as old as the Japanese legends ... some very clear on how to live on Turtle Island/North America. Some very close to what O'Sensei talks about.
03-28-2002, 07:18 PM
Originally posted by Bruce Baker
(I guess my first teacher was very generous to relating his learning of different styles of training to his interest in various fighting styles?
Interesting. What was his rank in Aikido?
What style and which shihan?
(this will give us all perspective as to your point of view)
Another minor point. People have fun doing aikido, as in, they laugh, they bounce, they come back for more with a joyful childish smile?
Seen that in Judo, Jujutsu, and Kung Fu classes. Depends on the teacher, mostly.
Gendai (modern) budo sometimes has an extremely repressive, punitive attitude which appears to be a holdover from American perceptions of military discipine and the personal needs of instructors for power and domination. Not to say koryu is free of it or gendai is controlled by it... exceptions abound, thank goodness.
At least in my classes, seminars, and experiences ... compared to the pain and torture of beating each other senseless in karate? Karate always left bruised bones, muscles, spirit, while aikido was tiring but extremely rare in injuries interfering in going to work hurt/injured?
I have never been severely hurt in any striking arts class. Bruised, contused, needed ice, but not hurt. On the other hand, I have crawled off the aikido mat at least twice and gone for Xrays. Experiences DO vary from yours.
It also opens the Pandora's Box to just how applicable is Aikido to blending and including other MA within its teachings ... that could get a bit touchy as the very mindset for Aikido was not to delve into the dark areas of selfish means? Still, Aikido and Tai Chi could be two of the secret arts brought to the masses that have face value, and hidden values also.
Ah, here, we agree. I found Aikido to be a macro-art which encompassed and blended with many things.
There is always a dark area of selfish means.
Do yourself a favor and delve into it.. kick at the darkness til it bleeds daylight (by another Bruce- Cockburn).
It's all in the attitude. Fear of darkness is fear of the Self.
Do yourself a favor and learn about the legends and stories of the Six Nations of New York. It is a beginning point, but it does have many stories as old as the Japanese legends ... some very clear on how to live on Turtle Island/North America. Some very close to what O'Sensei talks about. [/QUOTE]
Bruce, Peter has lived in Japan for years, has a Japanese wife, and this is his master's thesis. His "major" was religion and philosophy. He could relate the tales to YOU in Nihongo.
Peter is like a brother to me, I know him well. I don't defend him, he's MORE than able to do that himself. I just don't think you GOT IT, and I believe you are making assumptions that you cannot see or understand, based on your limited experience.
There are times to talk, and times to listen. Despite your being older than I, and perhaps of equal mat time, I most respectfully suggest that it is time for you to listen.
I spent much of my 10 years trying to listen, admittedly talking too much, many times, to listen properly. Now, sometimes, it is my time to talk, but only when I HAVE to.
03-29-2002, 05:35 PM
I think you missed the point of the whole project. It was not to provide a definitive description of aikido, nor to explore combat techniques and "secrets." There are a myriad of books describing Aikido, vastly more that explore combat techniques, and considering that humans have been using the same fundamental techinques since at least the age of the pharoahs, I really doubt that there are any truly secret techniques. One style's secret is another styles beginner class.
The goal of the project, which I hope I succeeded in to at least a limited degree, was to explore how Americans look at their Aikido practice, and what, if any, place it has in their religious life. I was rather surprised to find that for two-thirds of the people interviewed, Aikido was a form spiritual practice. It didn't form the basis for a "religion" for any of them, but they had incorporated it into their religious practice (chapter 4 if you want to skip directly to it).
Frankly, I'm rather confused by your post, since almost none of it has any relation or relevance to what I wrote.
Peter "the Budo says "HI" to the DFoH" Boylan
04-10-2002, 08:48 AM
I probably have missed your point, but then when you watch listen and learn from the ambiguous actions of most Americans who say one thing and do another, maybe not?
Physical evidence points to many aikido people embracing religion of western faith, but they do it at their own behest, as if it were a buffet?
My point in relating the Native concerns was to point out the simularities in the beliefs of those living here amongst us, verses the beliefs of the Japanese which many times becomes the buffet of Shinto, Buddhist, and Christian religions each in its own shrine, and acknowledged as its own deity. Those thousands of years to ward off demons with shrines were for social and religious reasons.
Even though we deny Caste System(lesser seen these days but still a lesson of history/ still seen in government circles), and separate acknowlegements of different gods for different themes, we do perform rituals of bowing, acknowledgement and interracial peace between religions in physical actions.
Damn thing about doing one thing and believing another, depending upon the peer pressure or your personal importance of what others think, you perform either out of politeness or knowledge that you are at peace with your religious beliefs.
If that is encompassed with learning about Chinese, Japanese, or Native American culture, myths, or legends, then so much the better to help you grow as a human being ... with or without truly believing in those religions.
I must judge upon those I encounter in the suburban context of the Eastern corridor, and those who stay with Aikido are enamoured with Japanese culture and religion, and they are buffet people who pick and chose as the need arises for their daily lives ... Only a small percentage are Zealous church going bible thumpers. Most of them, accept the peaceful principles of Aikido, and pursue their western religions as furverently as the eastern doctrine while practicing Aikido.
Of course, my circles of friends and acquaintences runs in the over 35 to 70 plus crowd, so I can't really say what younger people are doing?
Of course, those on the west side of the Applachian Mtns. do have manifest destiny in their minds and Native Americans are worse than junkies and wino's, and still better dead than alive by a few good ol' boys. No offense guys, but we did steal, kill, in a genocide manner from most Native Americans. In Fact ... Adolf Hitler based his genocide principle upon the extermination methods of the USA for the Native American Indignious people?
The Nazi and Jews have nothing over the good ol's USA? It doesn't hurt to learn about all the things of History, Natural harmony of nature, and Spiritual energy we posess here in the USA, and learning about some of the Natives who have been here thousands of years is one way to get in harmony with the land.
Whether it is the contention of being drawn into Shinto Buddhist religions of Japan, or understanding the harmony of where you live in the USA, I would say that is all part of your Aikido training to find peace, and harmony?
If by the GOOD STUFF you guys are referring to having practiced with Shihans, I am running our of fingers and toes as to how many have thrown me, or I have chanced to practice with at seminars ... they may be USAF, but they are all very nice people who have given me input to be gentle with my gorilla sized body.
Maybe it having the spirit of a Native American in a white body that becomes confusing in the European industrial society of the USA, but then again, spirit is the demon of the white man because its untouchable essence clouds his physical accomplishments, material gains which become his entire world.
Find the harmony of the USA. Many of our Japanese friends have come to America and they seem to find it quite easily, don't they?
04-10-2002, 09:11 AM
I went to the web site Peter, some nice books.
It is a pity I will probably never have that kind of disposable funds ($200) for a book.
Remove yourself from the environment of your training and your Aikido life, then compare what you have done to the relevence of never needing it, doing it, or as in my case of illness, never being able to actively pursue any intense-normal training beyond a class here and there or seminar now and then, then make the assessment of what Aikido or any Martial art is in comparison to your disabled life? It becomes eye opening!
So long as you have health, the world is a different place with infinite oppportunities, but without health, work, and money? I can only write from my own personal situation / experiences?
Rethink your position with these detractions then get back to me. It will be outside the Aikido circle, but then Aikido people are a minority within a minority, aren't we?
Originally posted by LOEP
Do yourself a favor and delve into it.. kick at the darkness til it bleeds daylight (by another Bruce- Cockburn).
The same fellow who yearned for a rocket launcher?
06-02-2009, 03:37 PM
Hey Budo Bum, is it Dr. Budo Bum now??? I hope you got your PhD after all that writing.
I like what you have to say but maybe it is just me or maybe it is the economy today, but I have to wonder how anything like a martial art, which is offered for sale a a fairly steep price for most Americans today can be considered a part of our spirituality? You make a strong case for it, but we all have to look at this in terms of wants vs. needs. Since most martial arts clubs/studios/ schools depend on sales to stay open, it is just one more thing that is all about the money and little else. Perhaps when things get better and there are more beneficial alternatives for the poor in there, it can be validly considered part of our Spirituality. For now it is just a nice but expensive hobby.
06-02-2009, 05:13 PM
Perhaps when things get better and there are more beneficial alternatives for the poor in there, it can be validly considered part of our Spirituality. For now it is just a nice but expensive hobby.
Don't plenty of churches ask for tithing and synagogues look for people to buy seats to the high holy days services?
Don't some dojos make provisions for sincere students who have financial problems?
How does somebody else's ability to pay dojo dues affect me defining aikido as my spiritual practice?
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