PDA

View Full Version : Whose Aikido is it gonna be


Please visit our sponsor:
 

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


aikishihan
09-01-2009, 10:36 AM
In any discussion regarding the origin of Aikido, the intent of the Founder, and the message to any and all who choose to study its history and apply such lessons to their own agendas for growth, one fact remains clear. There is no standard from which to judge or verify the truths of anyone’s convictions.

I believe that the Founder of Aikido was just a man, whose actions and findings were made special, due to his extraordinary focus on his goals. Given the time frame in which he operated, it is inconceivable to me that anyone currently studying the Aiki principles and discoveries that resulted in O’Sensei’s Aikido, can truly appreciate what the Founder had to deal with. The privations he endured, the personal losses he absorbed, and the unique individuals and culture he was exposed to were key in helping him formulate his Aikido. We may have similar influences today, but not like those available to him at that time.

The Founder worked in essentially a vacuum, in contrast to the enormity of resources we enjoy today. The life discoveries we can now witness would have completely astounded Morihei Ueshiba, were he to be alive today. Doubtless, his Aikido would have taken paths unknowable to any of us, since who really knew the man himself. Such a discussion would be pointless to pursue.

Since we may never truly know or understand the forces that helped shape the Founder’s thinking, nor the manner in which he incorporated the various threads of his training, with others as well as himself, the awesome impact of his religious experiences and choices of expression, or even the unimaginable effect of dealing with pre and post war Japan, following his experiences in China undertook with Deguchi Onisaburo et all. These singular experiences were one of a kind, so to speak, and no matter how much scholars and well meaning researchers delve into such historical matters, who can say that they would know how to walk in O’Sensei’s actual footwear, and unknown pathways over the years.
For myself, I do not feel qualified to even begin to resurrect the time frames and the psychological examination of the Founder’s mind or his amazing decisions. Rather, I am more comfortable with examining at my pace and ability, those very same principles and truths he studied to create his own working “Ueshiba Aiki”, from the far greater pool of knowledge and experience called Aiki. These very same principles I find in daily training, whether on the mat, or in my mind as I work through my day, dealing with the core issues we all face in various forms and degree.

The late Doshu constantly reminded us that the path of Aikido is a daily one, where the intensity and purpose of our daily training remains ours alone. We are ultimately accountable for what we achieve, and not by comparing our results to that of the Founder, or any other imagined standard. Let us resolve once again, to treat each day as a fresh start on our continuing path towards Aiki understanding.

In Oneness

Rob Watson
09-01-2009, 10:45 AM
If we must recreate aikido on our own (each of us) then we would have to attempt to recreate the experiences of the founder (I don't particularly believe this to be true) which is impossible so such aikido is impossible.

If instead we simply have to learn aikido and not recreate it anew then there is hope.

Shall we operate on hope or rage against the impossible? Does it really matter?

The ultimate goal of aikido is the create heaven on earth and there are many ways to bring this about. The founder believed aikido was the quickest way to do this - not the only way. If we want to create heaven on earth why choose the impossible path when there are other paths to take?

aikishihan
09-01-2009, 12:21 PM
Hello Robert,

Thank you for your response.

I do not advocate "recreating" the Aikido of the Founder,or of anyone else.Neither would I suggest that one recreate the experiences of the Founder, as I believe I amply indicated otherwise.

Aikido is NOT an established phenomenon, nor is it a goal we must aspire to, although you are free to try. Rather, it is an example of what one can do with Aiki principles, persevering even as the Founder did, in terms of the challenges and options we have today.

If the Founder is no longer available, and his original deshi are either gone or dealing with their own humanity, whose Aikido is that you choose to learn and practice? Whose limited version of the original qualifies for another person to wholeheartedly place all faith in such a system? Where is your accountability to yourself?

The Founder did not want wannabees or those of incomplete self image to attempt to follow his example. He made it very clear that you had to earn the right to follow the path of Aiki all on your own.

Aikido is a concept well worth studying. It has no goal to do anything or to represent lofty dreams of peace and world accord. That job if for ALL humans to accomplish, working together to achieve such a result one solution at a time.

Let us not count on rage, or any other lessor emotion to guide our thinking to a higher level. We do have many excellent examples of genius and leadership in the communities we live in, the people we know and the friends and family that nurture us. Let us start there.

In Oneness

jss
09-01-2009, 12:57 PM
Aikido is NOT an established phenomenon, nor is it a goal we must aspire to, although you are free to try. Rather, it is an example of what one can do with Aiki principles, persevering even as the Founder did, in terms of the challenges and options we have today.
Could you explain what you mean by "Aiki principles"?
Without knowing how you'd explain those principles, I find it hard to evaluate the contents of your posts in this thread.

Rob Watson
09-01-2009, 03:43 PM
"Let us resolve once again, to treat each day as a fresh start on our continuing path towards Aiki understanding."

On the above we have complete agreement.



Emotion, like aikido, is judged by what one does with it.

As I read through the Takemusu Aiki lectures I read that aikido existed from the very beginning of creation and O'sensei became enlightened to its existence within himself. If we are to debate this point then there is no need to read further.

As that source is still present in its pure form it simply awaits our discovery. There are many paths to discovery so it behooves us to believe that we can also discover aikido from the pure source otherwise there is no hope. Even if all the writings and video and deshi and disciples and students of the founder are all gone it is still possible to recover and rediscover aikido because it exists from the time of creation.

Once discovered this pure aikido is not Ueshiba aiki but is the one true aikido as discovered by O'sensei.

The real question is once discovered what does one do with this aikido? O'sensei clearly said to unify the three realms (divine, earth and man) and thereby realize heaven on earth.

I'm perfectly happy to be completely wrong but as I've stated it it sounds pretty good to me.

George S. Ledyard
09-01-2009, 05:11 PM
"Let us resolve once again, to treat each day as a fresh start on our continuing path towards Aiki understanding."

The real question is once discovered what does one do with this aikido? O'sensei clearly said to unify the three realms (divine, earth and man) and thereby realize heaven on earth.

I'm perfectly happy to be completely wrong but as I've stated it it sounds pretty good to me.

"Tat Tvam Asi", thou art that. From the Upanishads, this is one of the earliest known statements that the microcosm contains the macrocosm. I see Aikido practice as being about attaining balance.

If you manage to start bringing all the components of your body and mind into some sort of equilibrium, so that you stop essentially being at war with oneself, you naturally reflect that balance in relation to what is outside you. This would be socially, spiritually, whatever...

So Aikido training is a process of looking inward, bringing all the pieces gradually into some sort of balance, the attainment of which will change how you interact with and perceive the world.

O-Sensei spelled out what the goal was in terms that he understood. But my take on what Francis has been saying is that, while the Founder serves as inspiration for many of us, attempting to recreate the circumstances of his life's training is impossible. I would agree with this. Human beings have not changed one iota from an evolutionary point of view for tens of thousands of years. What is to be discovered by looking inward is the same as it has been throughout history. If one can structure ones practice to focus on balancing the myriad elements of the body, the emotions, etc. I think one can and will, on some level, discover the Aikido about which the Founder talked so much. This was why he created Aikido. It was why his son did not try to mirror the father in the art but looked to create a vehicle that could attain this goal in the populace at large.

So often, Kisshomaru Ueshiba gets short shrift for his contribution. When folks focus solely on the martial skills of the Founder and how they were not passed on in the art, we get a distorted picture, I think. I think that the Nidai Doshu saw a way to make Aikido accessible in a way that actually has the potential to make our world better. That would never have happened if a dozen practitioners attained some fabulous level of martial skill, which was what the training was about before the war.

Perhaps, the goal originally was more Taoist in nature... Perhaps by only training the leaders of society one could harmonize the whole on some level... If that was the thinking before the war, it changed after the war, certainly. The training was opened up to the masses, not just reserved for an elite who could pay the high price of training. The post war teachers like Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Osawa Sensei, Arikawa Sensei, etc. had to decide what form the art could take when opened to the world and how that form would stay true to the Founder's goal of making the world a better place. Kisshomaru stated explicitly that this was O-Sensei's big concern when they decided to make the art public.

I think we have been given a tool for this purpose. We can look at the Founder and the teachers who came after as sources of inspiration and as technical models but the practice is individual. Each of us needs to define and discover Aikido for himself. The history of the art can inspire us, our teachers can help us, new sources of technical instruction can be sought out that weren't readily available previously, but the practice of the art is individual. It is a gift that has been given to us and we can't look to others to define what it is for us.Each individual has to discover what Aikido is and the answer will not look precisely like anyone else's.

Basically, if the art isn't helping one feel more balanced physically and mentally, if it isn't developing a sense of connection with those around you, if it isn't building community on some level. than I don't think it's Aikido. The rest of it is technical... how good at the art do you wish to become? Is your technique using external power or internal power? Do you care if you can handle a mixed martial arts practitioner? The sky is the limit technically.

But I think that Francis is trying remind us all to keep our eye on the prize, so to speak. Don't get so lost in trying to better understand technique that you lose the raison d'etre for the whole art. I have had many conversations about this with Francis... if there was ever a person who attempted to walk his talk on this it is him.

Rob Watson
09-01-2009, 08:08 PM
George Ledyard posted

"But I think that Francis is trying remind us all to keep our eye on the prize, so to speak. Don't get so lost in trying to better understand technique that you lose the raison d'etre for the whole art."

Francis Takahashi posted

"Aikido is a concept well worth studying. It has no goal to do anything or to represent lofty dreams of peace and world accord."

I'm confused. Forget for the moment the technical side and look to aikido as a tool to accomplish a goal. That is how I see it posed by O'sensei in the Takemusu Aiki lectures. If there is "no goal to do anything" and yet one should "keep our eye on the prize" I am at a loss to reconcile this predicament.

"raison d'etre" and "no goal" are quite a pickle to stuff in the same barrel.

I presuppose to accept the idea that aikido existed since creation (as asserted by O'sensei in the Takemusu Aiki lectures). Certainly we can debate whether the aikido manifest by O'sensei is simply Ueshiba aikido or is actually the "primordial" aikido. Each of us expresses our own aikido in the manner we are capableand can frrely say "this is my aikido" and such is clear. This is entirely besdies the point because let's assume for the moment that we 'get it' and are expressing perfect aikido - what is the point? What do we do with this expression of aikido?

When I read "eye on the prize" and "raiso d'etre" I read that as being the point. The point is, as expressed by O'sensei in the Takemusu Aiki lectures, is to join the three realms and realize heaven on earth. So "no goal to do anything" has me stuck in the pickle.

I'd love to hear what others think is the "eye on the prize" and "raiso d'etre" because as much as I love the training I do it with purpose and want to make sure I'm not just wasting my time because "eye on the prize" and "raiso d'etre" I'm striving for is all wrong (and/or not well aligned to what many esteemed shihan have to say on the matter). If I'm not doing aikido I really want to know what I'm doing.

P.S. I just need to step back and take a deep breath because where else can a schlub like me capture the attention of esteemed shihan. How to express appropriate thanks to Jun Akiyama and my fellow threadmates?

George S. Ledyard
09-01-2009, 08:37 PM
George Ledyard posted

"But I think that Francis is trying remind us all to keep our eye on the prize, so to speak. Don't get so lost in trying to better understand technique that you lose the raison d'etre for the whole art."

Francis Takahashi posted

"Aikido is a concept well worth studying. It has no goal to do anything or to represent lofty dreams of peace and world accord."

I'm confused. Forget for the moment the technical side and look to aikido as a tool to accomplish a goal. That is how I see it posed by O'sensei in the Takemusu Aiki lectures. If there is "no goal to do anything" and yet one should "keep our eye on the prize" I am at a loss to reconcile this predicament.

"raison d'etre" and "no goal" are quite a pickle to stuff in the same barrel.


If you focus on just that statement and not take it in context with the rest of Frances' post, it may seem to be at odds. But look at what he said here...

Rather, I am more comfortable with examining at my pace and ability, those very same principles and truths he studied to create his own working "Ueshiba Aiki", from the far greater pool of knowledge and experience called Aiki. These very same principles I find in daily training, whether on the mat, or in my mind as I work through my day, dealing with the core issues we all face in various forms and degree.

The late Doshu constantly reminded us that the path of Aikido is a daily one, where the intensity and purpose of our daily training remains ours alone. We are ultimately accountable for what we achieve, and not by comparing our results to that of the Founder, or any other imagined standard. Let us resolve once again, to treat each day as a fresh start on our continuing path towards Aiki understanding.

It may be that Frances and I have slightly different ways of talking about the art but I think that what Frances has said here is the whole point of doing the art. So I don't really see a difference. It may also be the case that I am reading more into what he said than he stated here, since I know him and we have talked a lot about we each think the whole practice is about. Personally, I think Aikido does have a "larger" goal and that O-Sensei was fairly clear about what he thought that was. On the other hand, one can't really practice the art with the "larger" goal in mind all the time. The practice is self directed, the larger goal can only happen if people do their individual practices.

Rob Watson
09-01-2009, 10:05 PM
For some reason multiquote does not work for me …

George Ledyard posted
“Personally, I think Aikido does have a "larger" goal and that O-Sensei was fairly clear about what he thought that was.”

I would dearly like to hear what you think that goal is and more particularly how this is to be achieved.

George Ledyard posted
“On the other hand, one can't really practice the art with the "larger" goal in mind all the time.”

Agreed. But if we don’t know where we are going it is kind of pointless…kind of like driving a car it is really important to watch the road but ultimately one wants to get to home and hearth for yummy dinner and loved ones warm embrace. Driving around in circles, albeit with a high level of technical acumen, is just silly (sorry NASCAR, but it is).

George Ledyard posted
“The practice is self directed, the larger goal can only happen if people do their individual practices.”

I got that and I totally agree. We are personally responsible for our own practice. I certainly hope the larger goal is something we all have in common.

Also, “Aikido is a concept well worth studying. It has no goal to do anything or to represent lofty dreams of peace and world accord.” Well, technically I agree in the sense that I see aikido as a tool and the tool does not build the house but the craftsman does wield the tool (in this case the craftsman must also build the tool).

At a ‘meta’ view I see a progression: 1) Learn the principles of aiki 2) train the trinity (body, mind & spirit) steeped in the active expression of the principles of aiki 3) realize (make actual) aikido (let’s not quibble just yet exactly what that means) 4) use aikido as a means to achieve the goals espoused by the founder (unify the three realms and make heaven on earth is my understanding). Most of us are lucky to get to 1, most will admit to being at 2 and maybe someday a handful of us reach 3 because without a critical mass at stage 3 we cannot reach 4. This is my aikido today.

I’m not trying to argue and I don’t particularly disagree with the thought put forths. I’m just looking to clarify my own understanding (as I may have said before , I’m selfish that way).

Thanks

Charles Hill
09-01-2009, 11:53 PM
his original deshi are either gone or dealing with their own humanity

A slight thread sideslip perhaps, but I really like this sentence.