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George S. Ledyard
02-01-2010, 01:58 PM
Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Shinkage ryu menkyo
Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
BTW - Mutoh Masao rather gleefully told me that he had a copy of Admiral Takeshita's diary and - here's a direct quote, "Everyone today talks about 'aikido is love, love, love.' But Takeshita sensei quoted Ueshiba-san as saying, "Aiki is a means of achieving harmony with another person so that you can make them do what you want."

Exactly. Think how much that would change Aikido practice if people simply understood that "Aiki" is part of all the demonstrations Ueshiba was fond of showing and was the basis of his art, "Aiki-do". However, many of the current "Aikido Teachers" are so invested in the "love" schtick that few of them would drop the schtick for what Aikido really is. The schtick is more important than the art and besides, it would take a lot of hard work to change over.

Mike Sigman

I made this a new thread because it certainly is about Aikido and not about any Non-Aikido Martial Tradition which is where the comment was made.

a) On all things related to Koryu, Japanese culture, language, history. etc. I defer to Ellis, Peter, Josh, and the rest of the amazing community of scholars posting here.

b) On issues concerning Internal Power, I absolutely defer to Mike S, Dan H, Ark and his long term students, and the small number of "fellow travelers" who have done such an important job of bringing awareness to the Aikido community of what O-Sensei had that post war Aikido failed to transmit.

However, when it comes to discussions of the Founder's vision of Aikido, there is a tendency amongst various folks who never so much as saw the Founder, certainly never trained with him, to engage in a sort of revisionism concerning the spiritual side of the art.

The direct students of the Founder were faced with a great challenge after the war. While many of them, and I would certainly place Saotome Sensei, my own teacher, amongst these, were deeply effected by the Founder's teachings, they were simply unprepared to understand his ideas precisely as he did. With the exception of Hikitsuchi Sensei, Sunadomari Sensei, and Abe Sensei, the majority of them did not have a "classical" education, much less a familiarity of things more esoteric like the Omotokyo practices.

However, these teachers spent extended periods of time with the Founder, periods in which the training was really a 24 hour a day affair. That is, of course, the whole point of a true uchi deshi experience, the direct transmission of knowledge. Often this transmission is made on a non-verbal level. These students of the Founder did everything the old man did when they were on deshi duty. They participated in his misogi practice, they assisted him when he did his calligraphy, they drew his bath, and they took his ukemi, all the while listening to his constant stream of instruction on the spiritual side of the art.

The inference that these guys all got it wrong, that Kisshomaru and Osawa, Arikawa, and the other seniors who created the post war form of modern Aikido fiddled around with the Founder's ideas to the point at which they really weren't representative of his true thinking is simply wrong. I think it is incredibly arrogant for people who never heard a word from the Founder's lips to claim some special understanding that these students who spent years in the company of the Founder didn't have.

As Ellis has pointed out in his latest book, Aikido during the life of the Founder was centered on him. O-Sensei himself thought of his place as being at the center of the practice. That his efforts, somehow bolstered by a community of practitioners, could on some cosmic level change the nature of the world.

The challenge faced by the inheritors of this art was to define an Aikido that would survive the Founder while preserving what was central to his presentation of the art. I think that various teachers did a better job of this than others. But the direct students of the Founder went forth and spread the message and it took hold all over the world.

The tone underlying phrases like the "love schtick" is dismissive and insulting. It also shows a lack of understanding of the fact that it was the Founder himself who was doing this "love" schtick. His ideas about Aikido as an art for Peace, that its practice could on some level harmonize our interactions in the world were pretty much all he talked about.

Now it is a fact that much of what he said, his students weren't able to understand as it was too esoteric. But I do not think they misunderstood the "gist" of it. They had to reinterpret what they had heard for a larger audience. The message had to be translated into modern terms and made comprehensible for people all over the world. But, I will maintain strongly that the message was the reason that Aikido spread all over the world in a single generation. And I do not believe that this message was at variance with the fundamental ideas the Founder had about the art.

It has been maintained that the Founder's statement the "no one is doing my Aikido" showed his dissatisfaction with the lack of understanding of internal power and "aiki" in the post war practice. On the contrary, I believe that on those occasions when he offered such pronouncements, it had to do with his students resorting to a merely physical Aikido practice that seemed to lack the larger, and more important, spiritual aspect which was so important to him.

As everyone has been so good in pointing out, "aiki" is a value neutral term describing what is essentially technical. Statements like the Takeshita quote bear this out. Which is precisely why the transmission of a deeper understanding of "aiki" as technique has been so murky, or even non-existent. It simply wasn't what the Founder focused on in his later years. What he focused on was the message, his "love" schtick, so to speak.

Any number of the Founder's students couldn't go there with him. They wanted the technique but didn't want the "trimmings". This was entirely at variance, I think, with the Founder's view that technique without the underlying spiritual connection was just empty, physical technique.

The problem with Aikido is not the teachers doing their "love" schtick. The problem is that there has been a progressive divide between the message and an understanding of how technique actually relates to the message. In order to make the "message" more accessible, the art has been opened up to a whole community of folks who, if they weren't doing Aikido, wouldn't be doing martial arts at all.

That doesn't mean there's a problem with the message. It's a problem with the practice. Our job as Aikido practitioners is to get the depth of the practice into accord wit the depth of the message. This whole schizophrenic split between the martial artists on the one hand and the "aiki bunnies" on the other is a distortion of the art. For the Founder it was both a martial art and a spiritual pursuit. Ignoring central tenets of the Founder's ideas, such as Budo is Love, while pursuing technical achievement, no matter how accomplished, simply isn't the Aikido of the Founder. Holding hands and singing "Kumbaya" with no actual ability to really manifest the principles of "aiki", even in a minimal way, isn't the Aikido of the Founder either.

If folks who have great skill wish to talk about how we can be better at our art, then fine, I have no problem with that. But when those folks start to rewrite Aikido's spiritual ideas based on little more than their own personal predispositions, ignoring the actual direct experience of the folks who trained under the Founder during the last quarter century of his life, then I have a problem with that. Making fun of the folks out there who spend every free moment of their time practicing this art, who put every spare dime into their training and their dojos, who love this art and its "love" schtick on a deep level just shows how so many folks didn't "get it" then, or now.

Fix the practice, yes. But the whole "love" schtick, is still the point, at least if one wants to do a Aikido as envisioned by the Founder.

Janet Rosen
02-01-2010, 02:23 PM
George, I find myself wishing for a moment this were Facebook and I could just click a "like" button. Thanks for so cogently expressing this.

jxa127
02-01-2010, 03:02 PM
Sensei Ledyard,

I get what you're saying, but in the end, I'm still confused. If I understand Peter's columns on "Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation," then O Sensei was talking about "love" in the very specific context of the Kotodama and Japanese seed syllables and creation myths. Check out Peter's 14th column, for instance, for specific references to love.

So, fundamentally, his use of "love" and the understanding that so many of us have/had when reading his statements in English are very different. For instance, I always thought of a brotherly love when reading translations of O Sensei, and that concept did influence my technique to a certain extent.

So where does that leave us? What is/are the meaning(s) of "love" in the context of modern aikido? Is it different from what O Sensei thought? Is it the same as what his post-war students thought? How should that concept influence our practice of aikido? Is is possible to lovingly drop somebody into a nasty gokyo pin?

I'm asking, frankly, in total ignorance. I used to think with great conviction that I knew what aikido was all about from the spiritual end of things. Now I realize I have no idea.

Regards,

bkedelen
02-01-2010, 03:18 PM
So very well put. This is my understanding of the "life giving sword."

Aikibu
02-01-2010, 03:20 PM
Aikido is not Aikido without the Love Shtick

Aikido is not Aikido without the Budo Shtick

Both are one and the same....and only together can it make Aikido a Martial Art...

My direct lineage is very clear to me... O'Sensei...Shoji Nishio...Micheal Fowler...Me...

I leave you Sensei with something from the Hagakure...

"It is said that something called 'the spirit of an age" is something to which one cannot return. That this spirit gradually dissipates is due to the worlds coming to an end. For this reason although one would like to change today's world back to the spirit of 100 years or more ago, it cannot be done. Thus it is important to make the best out of every generation."

Allot of us (including most importantly... you :) ) "get it" and we're just doing the best we can to pass it on.

William Hazen

Mike Sigman
02-01-2010, 03:50 PM
So we have Takeshita, with his credentials and knowledge of Ueshiba, giving a fairly explicit definition of aiki:

"Aiki is a means of achieving harmony with another person so that you can make them do what you want."

We have a pretty clear English-language-translated interview with Inaba Minoru saying pretty much the same thing:

Even though you focus the energy in your lower abdomen, you will not be able to move the energy to the area where you need it right away. You have to think about how you are going to move it. You have to think about two things, gathering and filling up the power, and then moving the power to where the opponent will attack. Also if you have a weapon, you have to project energy through the weapon. If you understand this point, you'll know how to train and what you need to develop. At the same moment you meet your opponent, you focus on your abdomen (hara) and project your ki where you need it. The result will be that you will shut down your opponent's power. I understand that as the power of "aiki."

A mutual friend of mine and Geoge's (with equal time and exposure to Aikido) discussed some of the divergence in Aikido today and why so much dominance of definition goes against what classically-trained Aikidoists of the past thought. His comment to me was that I was out of touch... there has been a war going on for control of Aikido and what it means, and the a...oles won, he said. Worth a thought.

The way I always handled these types of discussions about what "ki" or "qi" was (particularly in the "aiki" sense) was to say "show me your ki". Because these skills are certainly demonstrable (as Ueshiba showed Tenryu, as Tohei shows, etc.). I'm willing to accept that somehow "Aiki" means two things, but before I'd accept that someone knows this definitively as an expert knowledge, I'd want to see/feel the simple ki skills and make up my mind then.

As it stands, the other side of the problem is that people like Takeshita and Inaba don't also take the time in their explanations to say that aiki means "love". Is that problem simply that they aren't/weren't qualified enough in Aikido to know these things?

Nomex on. ;)

Mike Sigman

aikilouis
02-01-2010, 05:03 PM
After reading Hidden in Plain Sight, I re-read Duelling with O Sensei.

Ellis Amdur's essay Aiki: A State of the Union (published in DwOS) is specifically addressing Admiral Takeshita's quote.

I suppose Ellis Amdur might change a few things of his text, taking into account what he learned about internal technique after he wrote it, but the conclusions still seem relevant to me.

Chuck Clark
02-01-2010, 05:44 PM
Well put George. So many people hope to gain so much and so many lose so much over the many different definitions/interpretations of the word "love."

It's time for practice and fortunately, I love to practice...

Mike Sigman
02-01-2010, 06:12 PM
Well put George. So many people hope to gain so much and so many lose so much over the many different definitions/interpretations of the word "love.".I think that's true and I also think it's true what George' and my friend had to say. So I enjoy watching the debate over the meaning of "aiki" just as much as I enjoy reading the interesting misunderstandings of "aiki" translations in well-thought-of Aikido books (in English).

To me it's all fun to watch. I think that the idea of "steal this technique" had a lot to do with the same idea when some of my teachers showed me something and said, "Understand?". I.e., you get it or you don't. If you get enough people banded together who 'understand', you move forward. If you get enough people banded together who don't really understand but who become teachers, the real essence of an art dies even though the name continues as a Name Brand (tm).

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Kevin Flanagan
02-01-2010, 06:44 PM
George sensei,
You are so freakin' brilliant. No wonder I love training with you so much.

Buck Fuller once asked me," Kevin, which is more important to you, inhaling ... or exhaling?"

See you soon.
Kevin

Mike Sigman
02-01-2010, 06:51 PM
Perfect.

Rob Watson
02-01-2010, 07:23 PM
I always thought aiki and love were two completely separate things. I see no dissonance between aiki as making some one do what you want and the 'love schtick'. OSenseis message about harmony and love stands on its own without the budo aspect at all kind of like MLK and Ghandi but without the turn the other cheek part. Active pacifism in which peace is laid upon the aggressor.

Aiki is not aikido. Aiki with the intent of 'love' becomes aikido. Aiki with the intent of dispatching the enemy ... well that's another art, no?

Being able to manifest the 'loving intent' in the heat of battle (or even daily life) that takes active character building/development and thus the michi of aikido.

Works for me anyway.

Mike Sigman
02-01-2010, 07:58 PM
Aiki is not aikido. Aiki with the intent of 'love' becomes aikido. Well, the logical implication of that is that "Do" (Tao) means "with the intent of 'love'". Maybe that's worth a discussion on some level. I'm not sure. Whaddya think? Can you support that idea logically or scientifically or academically or whatever? ;)

Best.

Mike

dps
02-01-2010, 09:07 PM
Aiki is not aikido. Aiki with the intent of 'love' becomes aikido. Aiki with the intent of dispatching the enemy ... well that's another art, no?

Being able to manifest the 'loving intent' in the heat of battle (or even daily life) that takes active character building/development and thus the michi of aikido..

In the heat of the battle, you better make sure you have built your character with "that other art" or all your loving intent won't be of use to you.

David

Janet Rosen
02-01-2010, 11:24 PM
(sigh) I don't think OSensei posited aikido as a battleground m.a......

L. Camejo
02-02-2010, 12:01 AM
(sigh) I don't think OSensei posited aikido as a battleground m.a......
It depends on which O-Sensei and when in his lifetime we are referring I think.

Guys like Takeshita, Tomiki and all those high-ranking members of the military did not go to him to find out how to Love the Universe in the 1920s. He did not teach this in the 1920s either.

Having said that I think it is very possible that after understanding the aiki of "instantly disrupting your attacker's mind and body" it may be a bit easier to appreciate or develop the Aiki of "Universal Love" as well.

Just a thought.

LC

Peter Goldsbury
02-02-2010, 08:03 AM
QUOTE: BTW - Mutoh Masao rather gleefully told me that he had a copy of Admiral Takeshita's diary and - here's a direct quote, "Everyone today talks about 'aikido is love, love, love.' But Takeshita Sensei quoted Ueshiba-san as saying, "Aiki is a means of achieving harmony with another person so that you can make them do what you want."

Well, the Japanese for harmony is wa 和 and Morihei Ueshiba also uses this term in his published writings. the Japanese word for Japan is 大和 (great harmony). Throughout Japanese history, the preservation of wa was regarded as paramount, and in the Tokugawa era, the practice of ryoseiba(tsu): punishing both sides, arose in order to preserve the tatemae (outward appearance) of wa. (Of course, wa was determined by social standing. Punishing two samurai for fighting was one example of preserving wa; crucifying commoners for protesting about high taxes was another.) If we take Takeshita's quote of Ueshiba as it stands, largely 'fascist' Japanese governments demonstrated aiki all the time: they went to great lengths in preserving wa, as they compelled generally willing subjects to do what they wanted. The supreme example of preserving wa for a samurai was 切腹/腹切り seppuku/harakiri (ritual suicide). There is no evidence that Ueshiba understood wa 和 or 合 as fundamentally different in concept, as applied to aiki. Of course, 愛 would be a 'wonderful' homonym for both concepts.

I think the 'aiki is love' theme is largely based on the fact that (1) the ai of aiki 合 and ai 愛 = love, are homonyms. So it was very easy for someone like M Ueshiba to make a new word aiki (愛気) without worrying too much about the precise meaning of the combination, for it sounds 'wonderful' in Japanese. It is a generally recognized principle that if If you can combine Chinese characters to increase the 'wow' factor of a concept or message, the meaning will follow as a matter of course. So, obviously ai-ki 愛気 has a meaning--a 'wonderful' meaning. However (2), there is no evidence of M Ueshiba using such homonyms before he met Onisaburo Deguchi and studied kotodama-gaku, under Deguchi's tutelage. Ueshiba's time with Deguchi, especially after the first suppression in 1921, largely determined how he presented his view of budo.

The irony is that Deguchi might well have borrowed Christian ideas of love to create the complete structure found in Reikai Monogatari. The problem is whether he, and Ueshiba also, understood the cultural background of the term, especially the tension between eros and agape in Christian theology (beginning with the letters of St Paul).

Best wishes to all,

PAG

Rob Watson
02-02-2010, 11:26 AM
Well, the logical implication of that is that "Do" (Tao) means "with the intent of 'love'". Maybe that's worth a discussion on some level. I'm not sure. Whaddya think? Can you support that idea logically or scientifically or academically or whatever? ;)

Best.

Mike

Well, if I knew what 'aiki' and 'love' really were then I could begin ... I use michi (do) in the sense of a process in action (I totally just made that up) and the adjunct is ones purpose or intent on the path is for self improvement (all roads lead to Rome and all paths lead to hell notwithstanding). One hopes the intent is aligned with the 'greater way' or the will of the kami. And in the great reductionist mode I abrogate that all these terms are open to definition/debate modified by ones context - things are never as simple as they seem but then again it is pretty simple. That is what makes it so complicated.

'in the heat of battle' is a euphemism for whatever struggle one is currently waging whether against internal demons or hoodside thugs, etc.

But, then, I really shouldn't be posting anyway ... what do I know.

Whatever OSensei was up to I can only say what I'm up to and with hubris admit to have called it aikido.

dps
02-02-2010, 11:30 AM
Don't discount the effect Japan's involvment in world affairs had on O'Sensei spiritual beliefs.

In 1918 Japan was on the winning side of World War I.
In 1945 Japan was on the losing side of World War II.

David

Chuck Clark
02-02-2010, 12:32 PM
QUOTE: BTW - ...

I think the 'aiki is love' theme is largely based on the fact that (1) the ai of aiki 合 and ai 愛 = love, are homonyms. So it was very easy for someone like M Ueshiba to make a new word aiki (愛気) without worrying too much about the precise meaning of the combination, for it sounds 'wonderful' in Japanese. It is a generally recognized principle that if If you can combine Chinese characters to increase the 'wow' factor of a concept or message, the meaning will follow as a matter of course. So, obviously ai-ki 愛気 has a meaning--a 'wonderful' meaning. However (2), there is no evidence of M Ueshiba using such homonyms before he met Onisaburo Deguchi and studied kotodama-gaku, under Deguchi's tutelage. Ueshiba's time with Deguchi, especially after the first suppression in 1921, largely determined how he presented his view of budo.

The irony is that Deguchi might well have borrowed Christian ideas of love to create the complete structure found in Reikai Monogatari. The problem is whether he, and Ueshiba also, understood the cultural background of the term, especially the tension between eros and agape in Christian theology (beginning with the letters of St Paul).


Peter,

I think these two paragraphs are extremely important in trying to understand Morihei Ueshiba's usage of these terms. Coming from different culture and trying to get into the heart/mind of another person is difficult to say the least. I, personally, think that the important thing we can do is to do our best with the tools at hand to create our own aiki - do as he suggested to his students.

We can not do his aikido, as he plainly stated, and we must find our own.

Thanks again for your work and contributions.

Allen Beebe
02-02-2010, 02:25 PM
I love you George.

I love you Peter.

I love you Chuck.

If you show me your Ki Mike I'll show you mine! ;)

Sincerely,
Allen

Allen Beebe
02-02-2010, 02:34 PM
or . . .

Some folks "love" their Shtick but I love my '40s Gillette Super Speed! Built to last, no gimmicks or hype, clear in purpose, does what it does well, clean and with high efficiency. (Plus the blades are cheap!)

David Board
02-02-2010, 02:56 PM
or . . .

Some folks "love" their Shtick but I love my '40s Gillette Super Speed! Built to last, no gimmicks or hype, clear in purpose, does what it does well, clean and with high efficiency. (Plus the blades are cheap!)

Two minutes for low schticking.

Allen Beebe
02-02-2010, 03:09 PM
Oh fine! :mad:
:D

Janet Rosen
02-02-2010, 05:43 PM
It depends on which O-Sensei and when in his lifetime we are referring I think.
LC

Larry, I understand it was a military thing... but in the koryu sense of going into battle - doing aikido on the battleground, even in the prewar era?

Janet Rosen
02-02-2010, 05:45 PM
Two minutes for low schticking.
Takes a licking and keeps on schticking...:)

Rob Watson
02-02-2010, 08:32 PM
... (1) the ai of aiki 合 and ai 愛 = love, are homonyms.

(2), there is no evidence of M Ueshiba using such homonyms before he met Onisaburo Deguchi and studied kotodama-gaku...

This just makes my head hurt. Homonyms and kotodama seem to be completely at odds with each other. Seems more like an inside joke - from the outside.

Peter Goldsbury
02-02-2010, 08:59 PM
This just makes my head hurt. Homonyms and kotodama seem to be completely at odds with each other. Seems more like an inside joke - from the outside.

Hello Robert,

Care must be taken here. There is a major difference between kotodama as such [the general belief in the power of language, when certain conditions are fulfilled, as evidenced in the Manyoshu] and the much more arcane 'science' of kotodama gaku, which can be seen from the writings of Japanese scholars like Yamaguchi Shido and Ogasawara. This is an aspect of M Ueshiba's preoccupation with kotodama about which virtually nothing is known outside some very limited circles in Japan. (This is partly why I devoted so much space to language and kotodama in my AikiWeb columns.)

PAG

Mike Sigman
02-02-2010, 09:34 PM
Hello Robert,

Care must be taken here. There is a major difference between kotodama My goodness. You appear to be tilting at windmills, Dr. Quixote! as such [the general belief in the power of language, when certain conditions are fulfilled, as evidenced in the Manyoshu] and the much more arcane 'science' of kotodama gaku, which can be seen from the writings of Japanese scholars like Yamaguchi Shido and Ogasawara. Personally, given the massive borrowing on all other fronts from the Chinese, Indians, etc., I doubt that the sounds of the Kotodama boil down to anything more (in essence) than the common idea that certain sounds affect the connective tissues (and congruent strength) of the body in certain ways. This belief is so widespread and so common in Asia that (given all the other borrowing) to think that rudimentary sounds in Shinto (which leans on Buddhism) somehow represent some different idea than the original... well, it's just too far beyond the pale. But that's probably a discussion in itself and OT for here.
This is an aspect of M Ueshiba's preoccupation with kotodama about which virtually nothing is known outside some very limited circles in Japan. (This is partly why I devoted so much space to language and kotodama in my AikiWeb columns.)
I suspect the "preoccupation" probably devolves to "what the ancients did", as does so much else. More interesting is to watch this brief interdiction of "love" and see how it will be flowed around and swallowed, like a rock on the beach, regardless of what you say and do. ;)

Best.

Mike Sigman

Erick Mead
02-02-2010, 11:09 PM
I doubt that the sounds of the Kotodama boil down to anything more (in essence) than the common idea that certain sounds affect the connective tissues (and congruent strength) of the body in certain ways.
Kotodama is more music than language. Ancients, eh? Hmmm.

Angelucci F, Ricci E, Padua L, Sabino A, Tonali PA. Music exposure differentially alters the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and nerve growth factor in the mouse hypothalamus. Neurosci Lett. 2007;429(2-3):152-155.

Mitterschiffthaler MT, Fu CH, Dalton JA, Andrew CM, Williams SC. A functional MRI study of happy and sad affective states induced by classical music. Hum Brain Mapp. 2007;28(11):1150-1162.

Iwanaga M, Ikeda M, Iwaki T. The effects of repetitive exposure to music on subjective and physiological responses. J Music Ther. 1996;33:219-230.

Gerra G, Zaimovic A, Franchini D, et al. Neuroendocrine responses of healthy volunteers to ‘techno-music': relationships with personality traits and emotional state. Int J Psychophysiol. 1998;28:99-111.

Grewe O, Nagel F, Kopiez R, Altenmüller E. Listening to music as a re-creative process: physiological, psychological and psychoacoustical correlates of chills and strong emotions. Music Percep. 2007;24(3):297-314.

Rickard NS. Intense emotional responses to music: a test of the Physiological Arousal Hypothesis. Psychol Music. 2004;32(4):371-388.

Name a classical army that did NOT have a musical tradition (pipes, horns, drums, etc.) associated with it. They weren't there for romantic effect. Neuro-hormonal response to sounds is the place to go look for any objective judgment on kotodama. I'll say it again -- oxytocin is the key (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17520) to understanding the objective connection between budo and love. It is not metaphorical or woo-woo bunny-think -- though subjective impressions are just as important to transmit ideas of "feel."

thisisnotreal
02-02-2010, 11:35 PM
Gerra G, Zaimovic A, Franchini D, et al. Neuroendocrine responses of healthy volunteers to ‘techno-music': relationships with personality traits and emotional state. Int J Psychophysiol. 1998;28:99-111.

do you know what they were listening to?

George S. Ledyard
02-03-2010, 01:25 AM
The irony is that Deguchi might well have borrowed Christian ideas of love to create the complete structure found in Reikai Monogatari. The problem is whether he, and Ueshiba also, understood the cultural background of the term, especially the tension between eros and agape in Christian theology (beginning with the letters of St Paul).

Best wishes to all,

PAG

This whole concept of Love is very complex. It certainly goes far deeper than what most Americans mean when they talk about it. My sense of the way in which O-Sensei used the term would be similar to something along these lines...

Love is the affinity which links and draws together the elements of the world... Love, in fact, is the agent of universal synthesis. - Tielhard de Chardin

In the martial arts one finds some very interesting usage. Ushiro Sensei talked about "striking with Love". The Systema folks have some very similar ideas. This is an area which is definitely above my pay grade so to speak. I suspect that O-Sensei would have had common ground with these folks but for most of us, there's quite a ways to go in our training before we have much of a clue what these folks mean.

Personally, I find the quest towards understanding of questions like this to be far more interesting than how to "thwow thomeone to the gwound wuffly". Who is waughing? Is that you Mike?

Peter Goldsbury
02-03-2010, 02:52 AM
Hello George,

Well, yes. Two points.

1. Teilhard was a very interesting character and his writings were not without controversy. In fact, they were severely attacked by his colleagues. So much so that when I was a Jesuit novice, I was denied permission to read his works and had to appeal to higher authority. I received permission, but was bound to silence: I could not discuss his writings with my fellow novices.

I think the reason why the Jesuits and others were so chary of Teilhard was his tendency to pantheism. If everything converges to the Omega Point anyway, and this is love, there is no place for the moral activities that Christianity has regarded as essential to the agapistic concept of love (which is at the root of the Christian concept. The tendency to pantheism is what places Teilhard's thinking very close to Omoto theology. I think if Teihard had lived a century earlier, he and Deguchi would have been soulmates.

There has been little written about love in a western concept, apart from Bible commentaries. Have you come across the writings of Denis de Rougement, Anders Nygren, or Martin D'Arcy. All three wrote on the subject.

2. As for Ushiro Kenji's reference to 'striking with love', there is a cultural context to this phrase with far less pleasant overtones. 愛の鞭 ai no muchi (the rod of love) was a common phrase used by, among others, Japanese army officers in the 1930s for the systematic beating, hazing--and worse--of their subordinates and, of course, their foreign captives (who did not really deserve the attention that ai-no-muchi implied, since they had surrendered and so were worthless, but were given it anyway).

I have just been studying Ellis's treatment of Takeda Sokaku in HIPS. There is a great danger that his discussion of Takeda's treatment of Tokimune will be dismissed as wanton cruelty, because the cultural context has not been recognized. Kant's ethical theories have had far more influence on western attitudes than is commonly realized and I am quite confident that Takeda would have justified his remorseless training of Tokimune on similar grounds: what he was giving him was beyond value, and given the Confucian attitudes common even then, Tokimune's own opinion was never an issue.


Best wishes,

PAG

Mark Peckett
02-03-2010, 06:50 AM
So we have Takeshita, with his credentials and knowledge of Ueshiba, giving a fairly explicit definition of aiki:

"Aiki is a means of achieving harmony with another person so that you can make them do what you want."


I suspect that making someone doing what you want isn't necessarily harmonious. In order to achieve harmony, the act must be in the best interests of yourself and the other person. Now it might be that what you make the person do doesn't to them appear to be in their best interest e.g. taking a child into care, when the child clearly loves its mother, but the mother is at the present time incapable of taking care of the child. Further actions in that case are also required to enable the mother to care for her child effectively.

Merely making someone do what you want, particularly if what you're making them do is solely in your interest and benefits the other person not all at, or even harms them is not aikido - it is BULLYING.

jxa127
02-03-2010, 07:39 AM
Mark,

While what you're describing could be bullying, it does not have to be. If somebody is attacking me, I want that person to stop. If I "achieve harmony" to get that person to stop, then I am doing so to get the person to do what I want. There is no bullying.

I have a four-year-old son. My wife and I must both discipline him and encourage/praise him. We perform both tasks in ways that "achieve harmony" to get him to do what we want (acknowledging his feelings, giving time outs, etc.). Still no bullying.

In peer to peer relationships or subordinate to boss relationships as at work, one can still achieve harmony to get what one wants. I facilitate a lot of meetings, and I always have goals or set of priorities that is important to my organization. There's definitely something that I want other people to do, and often they are reluctant to do it, even though we all work in the public sector and are trying to do what is in the public good. When I facilitate the meetings I try to "first understand, then strive to be understood." This is, I think, still a way of achieving harmony to get somebody to do what I want. It is also still not bullying.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
02-03-2010, 08:29 AM
I suspect that making someone doing what you want isn't necessarily harmonious. In order to achieve harmony, the act must be in the best interests of yourself and the other person. Now it might be that what you make the person do doesn't to them appear to be in their best interest e.g. taking a child into care, when the child clearly loves its mother, but the mother is at the present time incapable of taking care of the child. Further actions in that case are also required to enable the mother to care for her child effectively.

Merely making someone do what you want, particularly if what you're making them do is solely in your[i] interest and benefits the other person not all at, or even harms them is [I]not aikido - it is BULLYING.Er, when someone attacks and you cause them to do ukemi... that's a bit more in line than that panic about "bullying". As I said to Peter, his words, Takeshita's, Inaba's, etc., will simply be ignored and trivialized so that "love" may triumph. Looking at the last 10 posts, it's fun to watch the process in action. ;)

Mike

Nicholas Eschenbruch
02-03-2010, 09:07 AM
As I said to Peter, his words, Takeshita's, Inaba's, etc., will simply be ignored and trivialized so that "love" may triumph. Looking at the last 10 posts, it's fun to watch the process in action. ;)

Mike

Once again, an intial reminder that Ueshibal Morihei might have had a spiritual intent for most of his life will simply be trivialised until only semantics remains and a cynical outlook may triumph. Looking at the hole thread, it's sad to see the process in action.

George S. Ledyard
02-03-2010, 09:50 AM
2. As for Ushiro Kenji's reference to 'striking with love', there is a cultural context to this phrase with far less pleasant overtones. 愛の鞭 ai no muchi (the rod of love) was a common phrase used by, among others, Japanese army officers in the 1930s for the systematic beating, hazing--and worse--of their subordinates and, of course, their foreign captives (who did not really deserve the attention that ai-no-muchi implied, since they had surrendered and so were worthless, but were given it anyway).

This is interesting... it fits with some of the behaviors I have seen between teachers and their direct students. These teachers can be incredibly wonderful, generous people with folks who are merely guests but ar total terrors with their personal students.

However, my admittedly limited understanding of the way in which Ushiro used the phrase and how the Systema people us similar concepts has to do with changing the intention behind the strikes. Changing the intention by removing the very powerful intention to destroy actually makes the strikes almost impossible to anticipate. You don't realize just how much your intuition plays a part in picking up incoming strikes until you play with someone who has changed the intention or removed the intention behind the strikes. It seems like you just get hit with no warning and little ability to respond.

I need to comb through Ushiro Sensei's books again to see, but I think that the sense of Love as an "attractive" force (in the way that Teilhard de Chardin or O-Sensei might have used the term) as opposed to normal striking which is certainly "repulsive" in its energy. I've done some rudimentary striking training with the Systema folks and they do some very interesting on creating a truly comfortable feel between the fist and the target, not just for the striker but the "strikee" as well.

Anyway, I will probably have to train for quite a few more years before I can add to this. I do believe that I have a slightly better perspective on this idea via Aikido and how O-Sensei may have perceived Love as the force of attraction which makes it possible to join wi9th the partner in the Aikido interaction. I have played with the idea of how changing the intention effects ones ability to perform irimi when attacked with strong intention and it definitely changes things completely. It is tangible to both partners in the interaction. As I said, more to come in a few years.

What you say about Teilhard de Chardin's relationship to the Church doesn't surprise me. He always felt like he had a distinctly Asian flavor to his Chrstianity. Probably why I liked him so much.

No, I had not encountered those other writers. I will do some more reading, thanks!

Mark Peckett
02-03-2010, 09:53 AM
Mike and Drew, you agree with me.

If you had read the middle paragraph of my post carefully you will see that I said it is sometimes necessary to do something that is not apparently in someone else's interest in order to restore harmony. Obviously to defend yourself if attacked in an unprovoked manner, you are actually dealing with bullying, not creating it; if you are defending your family against an assualt, you are not bullying. You are taking the first steps in restoring harmony, which may be the assailant facing up to the consequences of their actions, possibly in a court of law.

It is not enough, however, to say aikido is a means of achieving harmony to get another person to do what you want, unless you place it in a broader moral context ... which I attempted to do in my post.

If you simply want to get people to do what you want, take up hypnosis and go on stage. You can get people to bark like a dog and get paid for it.

Marc Abrams
02-03-2010, 10:04 AM
This is interesting... it fits with some of the behaviors I have seen between teachers and their direct students. These teachers can be incredibly wonderful, generous people with folks who are merely guests but ar total terrors with their personal students.

However, my admittedly limited understanding of the way in which Ushiro used the phrase and how the Systema people us similar concepts has to do with changing the intention behind the strikes. Changing the intention by removing the very powerful intention to destroy actually makes the strikes almost impossible to anticipate. You don't realize just how much your intuition plays a part in picking up incoming strikes until you play with someone who has changed the intention or removed the intention behind the strikes. It seems like you just get hit with no warning and little ability to respond.

I need to comb through Ushiro Sensei's books again to see, but I think that the sense of Love as an "attractive" force (in the way that Teilhard de Chardin or O-Sensei might have used the term) as opposed to normal striking which is certainly "repulsive" in its energy. I've done some rudimentary striking training with the Systema folks and they do some very interesting on creating a truly comfortable feel between the fist and the target, not just for the striker but the "strikee" as well.

Anyway, I will probably have to train for quite a few more years before I can add to this. I do believe that I have a slightly better perspective on this idea via Aikido and how O-Sensei may have perceived Love as the force of attraction which makes it possible to join wi9th the partner in the Aikido interaction. I have played with the idea of how changing the intention effects ones ability to perform irimi when attacked with strong intention and it definitely changes things completely. It is tangible to both partners in the interaction. As I said, more to come in a few years.

What you say about Teilhard de Chardin's relationship to the Church doesn't surprise me. He always felt like he had a distinctly Asian flavor to his Chrstianity. Probably why I liked him so much.

No, I had not encountered those other writers. I will do some more reading, thanks!

I would venture to say that George's views around what Ushiro Sensei is trying to say is on target. Not only is the intent not to destroy as an act of striking, but I view the energy contained in the strike as "in" (in-yo) energy.

Marc Abrams

George S. Ledyard
02-03-2010, 10:19 AM
Hello Robert,

Care must be taken here. There is a major difference between kotodama as such [the general belief in the power of language, when certain conditions are fulfilled, as evidenced in the Manyoshu] and the much more arcane 'science' of kotodama gaku, which can be seen from the writings of Japanese scholars like Yamaguchi Shido and Ogasawara. This is an aspect of M Ueshiba's preoccupation with kotodama about which virtually nothing is known outside some very limited circles in Japan. (This is partly why I devoted so much space to language and kotodama in my AikiWeb columns.)

PAG

I think that there is a range throughout various cultures world wide that covers everything from the power of sound as vibration all the way to the power of words and continuing all the way to the power of the words in a very specific language. On the latter, no one went deeper than the Japanese I think.

In the Western traditions I see a bit less of the power of sound or language but quite a bit more of the same kind of thing only with numbers (Greek numerology or the Kabala). It all seems to have culminated in the alchemical traditions that continued until Newton's time and then morphs into modern science, losing its spiritual / mystical content.

Anyway, as you have done such a wonderful job showing, O-Sensei's version of this was arcane even for his own culture. Not surprising that this would be so as it is an incredibly complex way of looking at the world. Just listening to Gleason Sensei talk about how the kototama connects directly to actual technique in Aikido is enough to make my head feel full to bursting. It's amazing to me that anyone could hold so much in his head. As Ron Weasley in Harrry Potter said "No one could think all those thoughts at the same time... his head would explode."

mathewjgano
02-03-2010, 11:51 AM
I That doesn't mean there's a problem with the message. It's a problem with the practice. Our job as Aikido practitioners is to get the depth of the practice into accord wit the depth of the message. This whole schizophrenic split between the martial artists on the one hand and the "aiki bunnies" on the other is a distortion of the art. For the Founder it was both a martial art and a spiritual pursuit. Ignoring central tenets of the Founder's ideas, such as Budo is Love, while pursuing technical achievement, no matter how accomplished, simply isn't the Aikido of the Founder. Holding hands and singing "Kumbaya" with no actual ability to really manifest the principles of "aiki", even in a minimal way, isn't the Aikido of the Founder either.
...Fix the practice, yes. But the whole "love" schtick, is still the point, at least if one wants to do a Aikido as envisioned by the Founder.

Thank you, Ledyard Sensei, I really enjoyed reading your post! It's interesting how folks do often seem to fall on one "side" or the other of the love-power dichotomy. Most folks agree both are important, but most folks also seem to be a little more ready to support one and not the other. Interesting to me is that this fits with my running impression of people in general since most folks I've known seem to fall in one camp or the other and rarely seem to appreciate both equally...or at least seem far more inclined to imply one is more important than the other while professing both to be equals.
Of course, I reserve the right to be wrong in my impressions.:D
Thanks again (to you and everyone else here for the great discussions).
Take care,
Matt

jxa127
02-03-2010, 12:45 PM
It's interesting how folks do often seem to fall on one "side" or the other of the love-power dichotomy. Most folks agree both are important, but most folks also seem to be a little more ready to support one and not the other.

It's going to be years before I have George Ledyard's experience and insight -- if ever. There's a whole world of nuance that is getting lost; maybe even because some of us are seeing this as a love-power dichotomy.

But here's the problem: when I started training in '99, I read The Spirit of Aikido, Budo: Teachings of the Founder of Aikido, Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere, and The Magic of Conflict, etc. -- you know, the standard English language texts. So I thought I had a good idea of what aikido was about, it's spiritual meanings, and how I was supposed to perform techniques based on that understanding.

Then, over time, I read more at Aikido Journal about the history of Aikido. And then I read Ellis's Dueling with O Sensei. In the past few years, I've ready Peter's Transmission, Inheritance, and Emulation essays and Ellis's Hidden in Plain Sight. The stuff from Stan Prannin, Peter Goldsbury, and Ellis Amdur have completely turned my previous understanding of aikido's "spiritual" side completely on its head!

How can I claim to know what O Sensei meant when he wrote or talked about love, when it turns out that he was talking about love in the context of kotodama and seed syllables of power? To my mind, the kotodama context changes the whole discussion on "love"! We seem no longer to be talking about compassion, brotherly love, of the love of God for his people. We're talking about being a conduit for the power of the Gods and using that power to (and perhaps even force people to) unify in "harmony."

Or at least that seems to be what O Sensei was doing, although he did not seem to expect his students to do the same thing.

To me, then, the logical conclusion is that my earlier understanding of aikido's spiritual aspects was partially, or even mostly, mistaken.

Finally, I don't think this is anything new. I recall a Q&A session at a seminar in Kenosha, WI in the summer of 2000. Yasuo Kobayashi was the guest instructor and he shared his reminiscences of being a direct student of O Sensei with us after training one evening. One of the students asked him about O Sensei and kotodama. Kobayashi shihan answered that he and the other students did not understand what O Sensei was talking about. As I recall, he also said that started studying aikido because he had studied judo and was pretty good at it. However, when he saw O Sensei demonstrating aikido and thought that O Sensei's uke were just falling for him. After taking ukemi for O Sensei, though, Kobayashi was amazed and decided to train with O Sensei.

It seems to me that if even the direct students were confused by O Sensei's spirituality, but impressed by his power, that it is presumptuous for me to assume that I understand the spirituality -- especially if I don't have the power.

Erick Mead
02-03-2010, 12:52 PM
do you know what they were listening to?The abstract doesn't say (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T3M-3TCVPHW-1B&_user=10&_coverDate=01%2F01%2F1998&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=0ec46da081bdb5f12fdcb4bcda98fda9): Pretty powerful across a broad hormonal spectrum though: it raised beta-endorphins, norepinephrine, adrencortocotrophin, growth hormone, and cortisol.

Mosh injuries would be hardly noticeable with THAT cocktail a-brewin' ... The classical music control was generally calming but with no hormonal effect noted (There is a"Mozart effect" noted in other literature as to increased spatial reasoning and learning ability).

Not a lot of social coordination to that kind of adrenal-driven violence. To be martially useful, you want something both capable of promoting the same types of "peak" physiological commitment but which does not have the socially negating adrenal dominance Berserkers are the obvious historical problem to be avoided.

Highland pipes, though -- now we're talking serious mayhem ...:D

There are other interesting things I have not yet followed up on in this area, but I have them noted for further looking (http://asunews.asu.edu/20080926_musicmood):
Most studies out now are focused on the soothing aspects (http://ulricanilsson.se/RA2009.pdf) of oxytocin and not as much on the arousal and physiologically protective effects (http://www.martinandshan.net/userimages/Emotional_power.pdf) -- and aspects of oxytocin-mediated aggression (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050718062645.htm) which are just as powerful if not more so -- and have more interest for our bailiwick -- since oxytocin will govern and drive the HPA (adrenal) system -- but not the other way round.

Similarly the flipside of what George suggests as to losing the desire to harmn in actually striking -- when intuiting of the behavior of others oxytocin plays a powerful role (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T4S-4MFTVS9-1&_user=10&_coverDate=03%2F15%2F2007&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=bd294574cee82178c81871527dd20622) as well

Rob Watson
02-03-2010, 02:58 PM
Hello Robert,

Care must be taken here. There is a major difference between kotodama as such [the general belief in the power of language, when certain conditions are fulfilled, as evidenced in the Manyoshu] and the much more arcane 'science' of kotodama gaku, which can be seen from the writings of Japanese scholars like Yamaguchi Shido and Ogasawara. This is an aspect of M Ueshiba's preoccupation with kotodama about which virtually nothing is known outside some very limited circles in Japan. (This is partly why I devoted so much space to language and kotodama in my AikiWeb columns.)

PAG

Besides your columns (many thanks and please keep them coming - I'm definately buying the book as well when it comes) I have two works by Nakazono and whatever can be gleaned from OSensei on the kotodama so I'm way out in left field due to the lack of good info. Even the 'gist' is slightly less substantial than mist. Your previous comments re Nakazono are in mind in this regard.

This whole concept of Love is very complex. It certainly goes far deeper than what most Americans mean when they talk about it.

I find a great deal of resonance between what I think OSensei was talking about and the work of Martin Buber "Ich und Du" (in english anyway 'I and Thou'). The idea of intimacy and love (between people) as a microcosimic simulacrum of the kind of ecstatic relationship one can have with the divine veers close to the mark in my mind.

"No one could think all those thoughts at the same time... his head would explode."

I feel I'm dangerously close to reaching this point on a great many occasions of late.

Rob Watson
02-03-2010, 03:06 PM
This whole concept of Love is very complex.

SNIPS

Personally, I find the quest towards understanding of questions like this to be far more interesting than how to "thwow thomeone to the gwound wuffly". Who is waughing? Is that you Mike?

Brings to mind the scene from Lord of the Rings in which Cate Blanchett turns down the ring offered by Frodo and says "..all shall love me and despair". Opposites inextricably entwined ... recurrent theme?

Janet Rosen
02-03-2010, 04:10 PM
One aspect of love, I think (thinking/speaking as one who has been happily married for over 30 yrs & has good relationships w/ parent/sibling as well as longtime friends), is not necessarily "liking" all of the other person's traits, but accepting and respecting the reality that is the other person.

And to me this also speaks to the presence I try to bring to that intimate on-the-mat relationship with my training partners: trying to deal with open mind, eyes and heart with the in the moment reality of that other person, his attack, his possible different agenda from mine, etc rather than to predefine, prejudge, preconceive what will happen or what either of us should do.

Don't know if I'm articulating this correctly but I think I'm getting the gist of it across....

Erick Mead
02-03-2010, 04:52 PM
One aspect of love, I think ... is not necessarily "liking" all of the other person's traits, but accepting and respecting the reality that is the other person.
...
Don't know if I'm articulating this correctly but I think I'm getting the gist of it across....If I get it right, it seems to me that "love your enemies" means getting over the impediment to immediate action caused by the concern that he actually means to kill me.

Training is more concerned with controlling the partner than with hurting him, though the attention to every possibility of hurting him needs always to be uppermost in the intent -- not merely to avoid -- but ALSO to approach as closely as possible. If not, can it be a real budo ?

Obviously, I love my daughter. But if she is in danger of being hit by the oncoming car, I full willingly will dislocate her shoulder, and casue her severe laceratison when she hits the sidewalk I threw her to -- so I can get her out of harms way. I intentionally did her harm -- to protect her from yet greater harm -- that she she did not see.

The attitude toward an actual enemy must be of a recognition of moral harm, I suppose, to protect him from doing an evil that will do himself harm (' what profit to gain the world, yet lose his own soul,' etc.) -- that he does not see -- I must be no less resolute in my full willingness to do him harm -- in that same sense --- and with the same motivation -- that seems to me close to a budo ideal.

Janet Rosen
02-03-2010, 06:36 PM
If I get it right, it seems to me that "love your enemies" means getting over the impediment to immediate action caused by the concern that he actually means to kill me. .

Yes, if by "concern" we mean letting the mind play over that so it creates paralysis or confusion, which I think is likely.

The attitude toward an actual enemy must be of a recognition of moral harm, I suppose, to protect him from doing an evil that will do himself harm (' what profit to gain the world, yet lose his own soul,' etc.) -- that he does not see -- I must be no less resolute in my full willingness to do him harm -- in that same sense --- and with the same motivation -- that seems to me close to a budo ideal.

I don't think I disagree... but I think more what I was trying to express was not even recognition of moral harm or protecting him (notwithstanding the "loving protection" quote we all know) but that morality IN THE MOMENT doesn't matter and is also a distraction from the immediate reality of the attack. I think the morally grounded and mindful person is apt to automatically factor those things in without having to ponder them in the moment.
Open to discussing this further as its really interesting to me AND I'm still not sure I've cogently expressed myself :)

Erick Mead
02-03-2010, 06:44 PM
I don't think I disagree... but I think more what I was trying to express was not even recognition of moral harm or protecting him (notwithstanding the "loving protection" quote we all know) but that morality IN THE MOMENT doesn't matter I think that is right. I do not view love itself as moral in the programmatic sense -- though it does lead to morals if rightly ordered (tail-chewing, I know, but oh well) -- Love is a force of nature -- quite literally -- elemental and dangerous stuff. The problem is always in rightly ordering things -- and that why we train -- so that the elemental fire and water stuff flows in safe channels -- or at least I think that is why we train -- instead of, say, picking fights in bars. :p

CitoMaramba
02-03-2010, 08:19 PM
St. Paul's description of agape or "selfless love" from the First Epistle to the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 13: 1 - 13
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful;
5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect;
10 but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.
13 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Thomas Campbell
02-05-2010, 03:46 PM
St. Paul's description of agape or "selfless love" from the First Epistle to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 13: 1 - 13
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.


It's sometimes difficult to give the benefit of the doubt to the gongs and cymbals.

thisisnotreal
02-05-2010, 09:52 PM
It's sometimes difficult to give the benefit of the doubt to the gongs and cymbals.

granted.
it is unfortunately oftentimes hard to separate the work of the master playwright from the bad acting of the fool on the stage.

L. Camejo
02-06-2010, 04:10 AM
... folks do often seem to fall on one "side" or the other of the love-power dichotomy. Most folks agree both are important, but most folks also seem to be a little more ready to support one and not the other. Interesting to me is that this fits with my running impression of people in general since most folks I've known seem to fall in one camp or the other and rarely seem to appreciate both equally...or at least seem far more inclined to imply one is more important than the other while professing both to be equals.
I think this is exactly as it should be. In my experience there is a time and situation where a particular type of love is most applicable based on the situation at hand and personalities involved. At times an open heart is the best response, at others a closed fist is the best response. Both are very powerful. Often we need the right combination of the two - is not takemusu aiki the ability to instantly manifest the correct response for a given situation to bring about an end result of restoring "harmony"? Communication is as much about oneself as who one is trying to communicate with imho. Training should foster the centredness to apply the right amount from either category imho.

Just a thought about the love schtick. :)

LC

Johann Baptista
02-11-2010, 06:48 PM
Much of this talk about the Kotodama and the meaning of the word "Aikido" is a little over my head. Personally, I like my theory that O'Sensei got the word from Portuguese. You say :eek:!? Let me explain:

Aikido with an "R" at the end means "Oh what pain!" In Portguese:D . Sounds like a good description of Aikido to me, at least right now with my bruised shoulder.

Humor aside: Since everyone is different, Aikido is different for everyone. But Aikido was created with a vision to promote love, and without that, it is not Aikido. Regardless, Aikido is a fighting art, and its emphasis on peace does not prevent the Aikidoka from cultivating martial effectiveness. Those that claim Aikido is only for philosophy are forgetting O'Sensei's skill. It is a wonderful tool, through which we can express love through fighting, harmonizing through conflict, Yin and Yang. Like the Daoist symbol, Aikido is not complete without both extremes. A true warrior must expound both values, like the ideal Jo (Just read the weapons article:D). A good Jo must not be too hard, or it will be brittle, or too soft, for it will dent.

All of this being said, I agree with George. The founder would only have chosen the direct students he did, if he trusted that they understood the message he was trying to deliver.

Also, it pains me to think that so many people have lost faith in the spiritual. Aikido simply isn't worth following only for its physical techniques. O'Sensei would lecture his students for hours on the spiritual properties of Aikido.

:ai:
:ki:
:do:

- Johann

Mike Sigman
02-11-2010, 07:19 PM
Aikido is different for everyone. But Aikido was created with a vision to promote love, and without that, it is not Aikido. Well, if you look at O-Sensei's writings, he very obviously references the basis for Aikido against the classiscal Chinese theories. I.e., Aiki-do is not unique or he would not have made all of those references.

Think of a Christian, Jew, or Islamist discussing the flood of Noah without understanding the Flood in the background of Gilgamesh or in the current understanding of how the Mediterranean was created by a natural dam bursting after the Ice Age (a huge natural catastrophe). If you look at the writings of Ueshiba about Aiki, you can see very easily that they represent at least an artificially dressed-up version of standard Chinese cosmology, in much the same way that the "flood" stories represent a much more ancient and standard mythology (based on real happenings or not).

"Aiki" is about as unique as Noah and the Flood is, in actuality, it turns out. The "unique sounds" within the Kotodama fall into the same realm. To pretend otherwise is to pretend that Noah's flood was unique and Gilgamesh and all the rest never happened. Fairly provincial.

Try this:
Various sounds or "pithy" phrases (Kou Jue) may be used to vibrate various parts of the internal organs of the body. This will cause the Qi to move through blockages and therefore cure illness. The sound "shee" is used to reduce fire in the liver and release pent-up emotions. The sound "hai" produces movement in the intestines or stomach and will relieve internal pain that is commonly expressed with a groan. Extending out the tongue, while making the long sound "deng," serves to regulate the pumping action of the heart. The "ha" sound is useful for reducing internal heat. The sound "en" is used to press the diaphragm downward, which induces the bowels to move. The sounds "heng" and "ha" are used in martial arts training and applications, with heng coordinated with inhalation and ha with exhalation. Qi Gong doctors use specific sounds for different treatments. Buddhists use the pithy phrase "um ma ni ba mi heng"to exercise the internal organs.
The truth shouldn't be confused with strength of belief. The real truth is to be found in the spectrum of information, not in the isolated focuses.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

lbb
02-11-2010, 08:34 PM
Think of a Christian, Jew, or Islamist

I believe the proper (and polite) term is "Muslim", Mike.

Mike Sigman
02-11-2010, 08:40 PM
I believe the proper (and polite) term is "Muslim", Mike.In English, Arabic, or what language, Mary? Thanks for the heads-up.

Best.

Mike

CorkyQ
02-14-2010, 05:25 PM
These kinds of discussions always seem to be rooted in the aikido practitioner's perspective of what he is doing, but try examining the question from the perspective of the non-aikidoist attacker.

First, put yourself in the role of attacker. Surely you feel justified attacking or else why would you put yourself at risk to do so?

Your target tries some airy, magical ki flowing movement that has no connection to what you are doing and gets his head removed. No harmony in that - it is brute force and the "aikidoist" lost. You've "won" but this is just the beginning of your trouble. History will back that up. Here is one example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntFJT8NVzrg, and here is another: http://www.weau.com/home/headlines/39323062.html Blame your target for not fighting back with better skills, it's still your problem and "the way of harmony with ki" is a dream.

This time your target deftly avoids your strikes and breaks your balance. He controls you, perhaps by pain compliance techniques, perhaps by just taking advantage of your over extended attack, but he allows you to crash to the ground, be pinned, or otherwise be "made to do what he wants." In other words, you are controlled. Was harmony achieved? Do you now feel that your justification for attacking is wrong simply because your target has superior martial skills? Do you feel anything resembling harmony? Or might you just wait until you can shoot the aikidoist who bested you in the back from twenty yards away? Here's a fun example of subsequent retaliation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFoR612mLdU . Think about which aikido techniques throw the driver of a truck who is determined to run over you instead of grabbing your wrist or striking you upside the head with a yokomenuchi... better gain an additional set of skills... Hey, bomb shelters can work... maybe.

This time your target deftly avoids the impact of your strike and rather than treating you like an a-ho' for feeling justified in striking out, compassion rules his state of mind (true victory being victory over himself, and all that) and he treats your attack as an error, protecting you as your attack brings you to the ground. From your vantage point on the ground, feeling as if you put yourself there because there was no resistance to your attack, and even feeling supported through your mistake instead of slammed to the ground or controlled, are you then in a state of mind to escalate your attack?

Bearing in mind that "insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result", if you are sane enough to realize that the person you are attacking is really less than a threat, actually more like a friend because his response to your attack is rooted in love, where would your justification be in finding a more insidious way to get around his defense in order to destroy him?

From the attacker's point of view, which aikidoist is going to create something from his actions that is the closest to harmony, conflict resolution, making the world a better place, etc.?

Each aikido practitioner has the opportunity to look at aikido as he sees fit, and one can judge Osensei to be a fool or a liar for making any and every one of the proclamations he made about love being the essence of aiki. You can also believe that underneath all his empty "love" talk (or simple misinterpretation) was Osensei's true belief he developed Aikido to simply "make (other people) do what you want." If you believe that, why not carry a firearm? It works a lot faster and takes a lot less training than controlling someone with a joint lock or dashing them to the ground.

L. Camejo
02-14-2010, 06:39 PM
This time your target deftly avoids the impact of your strike and rather than treating you like an a-ho' for feeling justified in striking out, compassion rules his state of mind (true victory being victory over himself, and all that) and he treats your attack as an error, protecting you as your attack brings you to the ground. From your vantage point on the ground, feeling as if you put yourself there because there was no resistance to your attack, and even feeling supported through your mistake instead of slammed to the ground or controlled, are you then in a state of mind to escalate your attack?This is interesting. A comment and a question if you will:

1. - Unless the attacker attacks with the initial intent of ending up on the ground in a "protected" manner he will realize that something was done by the Aikidoka to get him there. In this case he has still done "what the Aikidoka wanted" if he did not then his attack would reach its intended target, unless of course he never intended on reaching his target, which is something very different.

2. - How exactly do you train the ability to deal with the attacker while keeping him "protected"? Does this training work even when the attacker has a severe advantage in power, skill, mindset and intent over the Aikidoka? Or is it limited to situations where the power/skill gradient is advantageous to the Aikidoka?You can also believe that underneath all his empty "love" talk (or simple misinterpretation) was Osensei's true belief he developed Aikido to simply "make (other people) do what you want."Ueshiba M. developed many things, but Aiki is a concept that predated him - he learned it from someone else. His concept of what Aikido is on the other hand depends on who you speak to imho.

Just some thoughts.

LC

Erick Mead
02-15-2010, 12:23 AM
2. - How exactly do you train the ability to deal with the attacker while keeping him "protected"? Same way you might wrench your daughters shoulder out of socket, bruise her ribs and lacerate one side of her face --to get her out of the path of a truck. The key to her understanding is in her realizing the truck might have hit her. If she did not see the truck -- well you have a problem to resolve in your relationship. Seems to me the same analogy applies here... if you really care about the attacker you will keep it up, until he maybe sees the truck this time.

In training -- there is no truck -- so one must come as close and as carefully as you can and your partner can bear -- to showing him a decent outline of a truck. Does this training work even when the attacker has a severe advantage in power, skill, mindset and intent over the Aikidoka? Or is it limited to situations where the power/skill gradient is advantageous to the Aikidoka? Seems to me that if it does not -- it is not aiki. The best aiki I have seen or done makes the attack(s) an irrelevancy. "Power" is generally seen as an increase in leverage advantage. But aiki is the inverse -- shear -- un-levering. "Power is calculably destructive and thus predictive ( not consciouly or rationally so , but still, linear -- aiki is chaotically destructive and defies prediction -- once the opponent has seen it applied he cannot calculate further expression into his sensibility on any balance of "power" .

I see aiki as an application of shear -- moving the center of action at will. The simplest example of this is a the classical lever, a long beam,short fulcrum, and pushing on the beam trying to lift the resisting load. So, the beam is sprung between the inertia of the load and the application of the push on the beam end. Classically, the contest is between increasing the resistance of the load or increasing the push on the beam. At some point the push is exhausted, the load is lifted or the beam fails at the fulcrum by breaks.

But there is another possibility -- move the fulcrum with a rotation and the push becomes progressively disadvantaged, and the stress on the beam is progressively lessened, and the effective load resistance becomes progressively greater -- without pushing back. Done dynamically the change in rotations by moving the center of action (in-yo ho) reflects the push back on itself and catastrophically disrupts it out of phase. THAT is aiki.

Ueshiba M. developed many things, but Aiki is a concept that predated him - he learned it from someone else. His concept of what Aikido is on the other hand depends on who you speak to imho.Not if we think in concrete terms as he did. Aikido flows from not merely using an incident of aiki in conjunction with another set of tools (yawara for instance) but aiki and aiki only. The physical model involves zero additional effort to accomplish the result -- just a willingness to enter fully driving the center of action toward the opponent (the center showing there is a rotation in driving in -- i.e. - irimi-tenkan) -- but one must drive in without negating the attack -- The correct attitude for that is one driven by only one state of mind and body , which exists in one and only one circumstance, the same one where you will, without an moment's hesitation or concern, willingly and severely injure your kid -- to save her from that truck.

Love ain't teddy bears-- or a box of chocolates.

Aiki depends on the physics, and so can be applied in isolation where it has rational advantage, with other methods -- But Aiki is the physical consequence of that "mama tiger" motivational disposition achieving a correct concrete connection -- the coinciding of those two is the proper business of Aikido. -- As I see it. There have been failures of degree on both counts -- too numerous to list.

George S. Ledyard
02-17-2010, 02:48 AM
Does this training work even when the attacker has a severe advantage in power, skill, mindset and intent over the Aikidoka? Or is it limited to situations where the power/skill gradient is advantageous to the Aikidoka?Ueshiba M. developed many things, but Aiki is a concept that predated him - he learned it from someone else. His concept of what Aikido is on the other hand depends on who you speak to imho.

Just some thoughts.

LC

Hi Larry,
First, I think the whole doing ones Aikido with a "spirit of loving protection" has more to do with the manner in which we train rather than some self defense outcome based wishful thinking.

As someone who has taught police and security defensive tactics I would say that the most difficult thing in martial arts is to restrain someone who is fighting you and not hurt them. In my opinion, it takes a great deal of skill to do so. If the opponent's skill is commensurate with yours, I do not think it is possible.

There is something along the lines of a "conservation of the quality of the energy" in a martial encounter. If someone has a really strong intention to hurt or maim you, that will be what comes back to them in the encounter. For example, there was the story about the swordsman who challenged O-Sensei. He attacked with real intent to kill or injure. The Founder didn't even do a technique but just entered off the line and the attacker careened into him, bounced off and crashed into the wall, with sever injuries.

As I said, exceptional skill makes it possible to handle a wider range of aggressive subjects while exercising restraint. But only if you have far more skill than they do or simply have a lot more power (as with a juvenile).

I think that the idea that you can defend yourself on the street against a serious attacker without harming him is wishful thinking. Now, one could say that knocking them out or dislocating a joint might be a great alternative to shooting someone. But the idea that we all go home happy after an encounter isn't realistic.

cguzik
02-19-2010, 10:31 AM
Ledyard Sensei,

A lot of this discussion seems related to a topic you have focused on quite a bit -- that of projection of intent.

Takeshita's description of aiki as a method to use empathy in order to manipulate puts us in a position where the best we can hope for is what has been called plausible deniability. But there is still intent in this case. And someone with skill can still detect this intent and use it.

It seems like what you describe feeling from the systema folks' strikes is the absence of intent. But when most people try to do that, they end up unfocused and unconnected (at least this is what happens to me at this point in my training).

In your mind, is it hiding intent, or putting your intent in a different place, or something else? Is aiki-do perhaps a continuous (iterative) process of sharpening the edge of our intent, resulting in the need to put less and less "effort" into how we "use" it?

Thank you,

Chris

dps
02-19-2010, 01:49 PM
Hi Larry,
First, I think the whole doing ones Aikido with a "spirit of loving protection" has more to do with the manner in which we train rather than some self defense outcome based wishful thinking.

As someone who has taught police and security defensive tactics I would say that the most difficult thing in martial arts is to restrain someone who is fighting you and not hurt them. In my opinion, it takes a great deal of skill to do so. If the opponent's skill is commensurate with yours, I do not think it is possible.

There is something along the lines of a "conservation of the quality of the energy" in a martial encounter. If someone has a really strong intention to hurt or maim you, that will be what comes back to them in the encounter. For example, there was the story about the swordsman who challenged O-Sensei. He attacked with real intent to kill or injure. The Founder didn't even do a technique but just entered off the line and the attacker careened into him, bounced off and crashed into the wall, with sever injuries.

As I said, exceptional skill makes it possible to handle a wider range of aggressive subjects while exercising restraint. But only if you have far more skill than they do or simply have a lot more power (as with a juvenile).

I think that the idea that you can defend yourself on the street against a serious attacker without harming him is wishful thinking. Now, one could say that knocking them out or dislocating a joint might be a great alternative to shooting someone. But the idea that we all go home happy after an encounter isn't realistic.

Excellent post, I agree 100%.

Ledyard Sensei,
In your mind, is it hiding intent, or putting your intent in a different place, or something else? Is aiki-do perhaps a continuous (iterative) process of sharpening the edge of our intent, resulting in the need to put less and less "effort" into how we "use" it?

Thank you,

Chris

My opinion would be that in your mind you have no intent.

Just as you are using your opponent's strength against him, you are using your opponent's intent against him also.

David

L. Camejo
02-19-2010, 10:06 PM
Erick - good post. Good stuff to think about.

Hi Larry,
First, I think the whole doing ones Aikido with a "spirit of loving protection" has more to do with the manner in which we train rather than some self defense outcome based wishful thinking.Hello Sensei, does this mean that Ueshiba M.'s concept of loving protection for all living things is limited to our dojo practice or can this ideal be extended to all living things? Why not engage someone who might hurt us with an aura of "love" and "protection"? Would this not create the potential for a different outcome than the Winner/Loser - Good/Evil - Victor/Vanquished dichotomy that often acts to propagate the cycle of violence?

As someone who has taught police and security defensive tactics I would say that the most difficult thing in martial arts is to restrain someone who is fighting you and not hurt them. In my opinion, it takes a great deal of skill to do so. If the opponent's skill is commensurate with yours, I do not think it is possible.Agreed. The time, dedication and desire to achieve what is required to accomplish this makes it very hard to achieve by the majority of LEOs. And even when the skill level is achieved it may still be of limited use in certain situations.

I think that the idea that you can defend yourself on the street against a serious attacker without harming him is wishful thinking. Now, one could say that knocking them out or dislocating a joint might be a great alternative to shooting someone. But the idea that we all go home happy after an encounter isn't realistic.Imho what is realistic and what is possible is determined by ones personal power. Power being any skill sets, knowledge, technology, tactics, strategies, tricks etc. that place one in a position to choose or influence the outcome of a situation or circumstance instead of having the choice made for them by outside factors.

This brings into question the limitations of human power, which I've found has more to do with perception than reality. Although to some the possibility of defending oneself against a serious attacker without harming him is wishful thinking, I think this is more to do with a person's acceptance of his/her limitations rather than an absolute statement of what is humanly possible. I have been in those situations and have come out without anyone being hurt so to say it is impossible goes against my personal experienced reality. This is not to say that the outcome of mutual protection will always be realized. It depends on many factors, not the least of which is personal power in a variety of ways that may have nothing to do with technique or other aspects of training. The specific situation decides the best tools to be used. Imho the more tools you have, the better their quality and the more skilled you are in using them the better your odds at bringing about the result you want.

How does this relate to the "Love" thing? I think Ueshiba M. developed a very high and diverse level of personal power that gave him the ability to reach a place in himself where he could see the loving protection of all things as a practical reality and not a theoretical concept limited to the dojo. I think he manifested that power in his own way and was able to maintain that gradient of proficiency in his favour in most situations so he could control highly resistant opponents without harm. I say most because there is the story of Shioda who brought the marksman to the dojo whose bullet Ueshiba M. could not dodge - this revealed one of his limits at that time. The result was that he could not choose the outcome in his favour had he allowed the marksman to make his shot.

In the end my point is that Ueshiba M. trained, meditated and prayed severely and as a result he realized a level of skill, awareness and connectedness to life that most people will not achieve in their lifetime. The question for the practitioner is - do I want to embark upon this particular path and maybe experience what he did... or do I want a different experience?

They are merely different choices, but the reality of one does not make the other one impossible.

Imho.

Best
LC