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dps
05-19-2010, 09:47 AM
Not counting the spiritual side of Aikido, do think that there is anyone who was or is better at Aikido then O'Sensei was?

David

aikishihan
05-19-2010, 10:01 AM
Irrelevant and inapplicable question.

The Founder disavowed competition with others.

We should understand, and not compete with his legacy and his purpose.

O'Sensei was a "one of". So was his Aikido. Both he and his creation are now in the province of history, and well beyond the reach of lesser ambitions and misguided musings.

Let us take his true teachings to heart, and strive to make our own respective Aikido the best that we can make it, as he taught us to do.

RED
05-19-2010, 10:16 AM
Everyone has their own Aikido. I don't know if it is fair to grade between Aikidoka or not. Everyone has their own Aikido. I've seen students of the same teacher... not a one looks exactly alike in their Aikido.

ninjaqutie
05-19-2010, 10:23 AM
Everyone has their own Aikido. I don't know if it is fair to grade between Aikidoka or not. Everyone has their own Aikido. I've seen students of the same teacher... not a one looks exactly alike in their Aikido.

Martial arts in general changes. Each person in a dojo may be taught the same way, but each person adapts it to suit them. They each have their own distinct flavor. Each interprets their teachers lessons a bit differently. I mean, look at the differences between O'Sensei's uchideshi! There are major differences. Not to mention how O'Sensei's teachings evolved over time and his techniques softened. An early student of O'Sensei probably has "harder" aikido then one of his last students.

It is the same with my sensei. He continues to change and grow, and thus his teachings will change along with it. Different generations of students I guess you could say. Even in my dojo, you will see different ways of doing things. Some are more aggressive, others more passive (yet still positive). Some people take hard ukemi and others have this soft round ukemi.

That is what is so great about martial arts. No two are exactly alike, though they may be quite similar. :D To answer the original question as to who is better then O'Sensei, I would venture to guess no one, but that is just a guess.

Cliff Judge
05-19-2010, 11:41 AM
I couldn't imagine Aikido being as engaging or rewarding for me if I really thought it were possible to get to the final summit.

Adam Huss
05-19-2010, 11:48 AM
Question is a loaded one. Who is 'better' at aikido; the person who is a highly skilled technician with in-depth knowledge of the philosophical and guiding principles of aikido and budo but is kind of a jerk and lives a miserable life (because he feels entitled and superior due to his training and skill), or the person who is simply a good technician, but even better teacher who enriches the lives of everyone he/she touches and actually lives his in-depth knowledge of budo/aikido's guiding principles?

Adam Huss
05-19-2010, 11:53 AM
Cliff, I would argue that one can't ever reach the final summit of kata...let alone all of aikido (or the entirety of any martial art)! How boring would it be to master something by plugging yourself into a computer like in the Matrix? Growth is developed through struggles along the journey...not the technical knowledge received (in my opinion anyway). We have a saying at my dojo...growth can not come without some element of risk and persevering through something that is difficult. That would be eliminated if you just 'mastered' something off the bat.

Nice very intuitive comment!

A

RED
05-19-2010, 01:50 PM
Martial arts in general changes. Each person in a dojo may be taught the same way, but each person adapts it to suit them. They each have their own distinct flavor. Each interprets their teachers lessons a bit differently. I mean, look at the differences between O'Sensei's uchideshi! There are major differences. Not to mention how O'Sensei's teachings evolved over time and his techniques softened. An early student of O'Sensei probably has "harder" aikido then one of his last students.

It is the same with my sensei. He continues to change and grow, and thus his teachings will change along with it. Different generations of students I guess you could say. Even in my dojo, you will see different ways of doing things. Some are more aggressive, others more passive (yet still positive). Some people take hard ukemi and others have this soft round ukemi.

That is what is so great about martial arts. No two are exactly alike, though they may be quite similar. :D To answer the original question as to who is better then O'Sensei, I would venture to guess no one, but that is just a guess.

I was told once that martial arts can fall roughly in 3 divisions:

1-Living, in-use, or still developing arts.
2-Competitive sports based on martial technique.
3- Martial Traditions.(kendo, iaido etc.)

I have heard arguments that Aikido falls into the 3rd category. However, when I see how it is still growing and developing and evolving, I have to make some argument that it belongs to the 1st category.

mickeygelum
05-19-2010, 02:01 PM
Chuck Norris, of course !

RED
05-19-2010, 02:10 PM
Chuck Norris, of course !

:hypno:

CitoMaramba
05-19-2010, 02:42 PM
Chuck Norris, of course !

"Underneath Chuck Norris' beard is another fist!"
http://officialmancard.com/omc/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/chuck_norris_on_family_guy-2444.jpg

What did O-Sensei have underneath HIS beard?? :D

Jonathan
05-19-2010, 03:21 PM
I don't think O Sensei transmitted his Aikido well enough to be able to say, David. I'm pretty certain that the Aikido practiced today isn't what OSensei was doing. Consequently, it is impossible to assert that someone does Aikido better than the Founder of the art. We can't compare ourselves to the standard of OSensei's Aikido because we don't fully understand what it is.

L. Camejo
05-20-2010, 02:51 AM
Not counting the spiritual side of Aikido, do think that there is anyone who was or is better at Aikido then O'Sensei was?This would first require a clear definition of what "Aikido" is in the context of your thread, and then remove any "spiritual side" so that people can have a point of reference.

Over the years that I've been on Aikiweb one thing that has been constant is that there is no single, shared definition of Aikido.

Aside from that, to answer the question we would need some objective means of measuring "betterness" per se. Last time I checked this is not a very common practice either in Aikido.

Imho.

Best
LC

L. Camejo
05-20-2010, 02:55 AM
I was told once that martial arts can fall roughly in 3 divisions:

1-Living, in-use, or still developing arts.
2-Competitive sports based on martial technique.
3- Martial Traditions.(kendo, iaido etc.)
Where would Koryu fall into this list?

Best
LC

dps
05-20-2010, 07:47 AM
This would first require a clear definition of what "Aikido" is in the context of your thread, and then remove any "spiritual side" so that people can have a point of reference.

Over the years that I've been on Aikiweb one thing that has been constant is that there is no single, shared definition of Aikido.

Aside from that, to answer the question we would need some objective means of measuring "betterness" per se. Last time I checked this is not a very common practice either in Aikido.

Imho.

Best
LC

Can we then say that no one does Aikido better than anyone else? For example; do you do Aikido better than Maggie?

lbb
05-20-2010, 10:06 AM
Can we then say that no one does Aikido better than anyone else? For example; do you do Aikido better than Maggie?

Where are you going with this, David? What's your purpose in asking an unanswerable, angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin question in the first place, and in asking this very personal question to follow on? What are you trying to establish?

dps
05-20-2010, 10:24 AM
Where are you going with this, David? What's your purpose in asking an unanswerable, angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin question in the first place, and in asking this very personal question to follow on? What are you trying to establish?

Just a question to generate thought and discussion.

Not necessarily an unanswerable question. Is that your answer, that it is unanswerable?

Are you better than O'Sensei? Are you better than your sensei? Are any of your students past or present better than you?

David

dps
05-20-2010, 10:34 AM
Irrelevant and inapplicable question.

The Founder disavowed competition with others.

We should understand, and not compete with his legacy and his purpose.

Yes, but lack of competition does not mean you cannot judge ones ability against another.

O'Sensei was a "one of". So was his Aikido. Both he and his creation are now in the province of history, and well beyond the reach of lesser ambitions and misguided musings.

O'Sensei was human and a mere misguided mortal like the rest of us.

Let us take his true teachings to heart, and strive to make our own respective Aikido the best that we can make it, as he taught us to do.

Which in my understanding there was no restriction on striving to be better than him.

David

dps
05-20-2010, 10:35 AM
Everyone has their own Aikido. I don't know if it is fair to grade between Aikidoka or not. Everyone has their own Aikido. I've seen students of the same teacher... not a one looks exactly alike in their Aikido.

But can you say that one person's Aikido is better ( in a martial sense ) than another's?

David

dps
05-20-2010, 10:37 AM
I couldn't imagine Aikido being as engaging or rewarding for me if I really thought it were possible to get to the final summit.

Is O'Sensei the final summit?
David

Garth Jones
05-20-2010, 10:57 AM
I don't see a good way to quantify 'better' even 'better in a martial sense.' 'Martial sense' sort of implies the ability to win fights. Then we would have to agree on what sort of fights (cage matches, duels at dawn, fighting off a surprise attack from three ninjas, etc.).

So in order to decide if I am a 'better' aikidoist than Maggie (sorry to pick on you Maggie!) we would each have to fight a statistically significant number of opponents (say, MMA fighters of various experience levels) tally the results, and then we would know which of us was 'better.' IMHO that's a pretty silly thought experiment.

What I think we can do is compare levels of experience and depth of understanding, but only where the differences are really obvious. Thus I safely say that Saotome Sensei's depth of understanding vastly exceeds mine and that my understanding (after 22 years of training) vastly exceeds that of the 6th kyus in my dojo. After that the differences get much harder to describe. I have trained with sempai that do not have the understanding of some technique or movement that I do but are still overall 'better' and I learn new aspects of aikido from gifted kohei all the time.

In the end I the that Takahashi Sensei said it just right - all we can do is strive to make our aikido the best it can be.

Can that 'best' rival O'Sensei? Sure. It won't for most of us - he was an extraordinary individual, but I don't see why it isn't possible.

Cheers,
Garth

chillzATL
05-20-2010, 11:10 AM
I've never understood why Aikido people have such a hard time answering a question like this, but the simple fact is no, nobody has come close to being as good at Aikido as the founder was. Jonathan's post does a perfect job of explaining why, IMO, that is too.

RED
05-20-2010, 11:12 AM
Where would Koryu fall into this list?

Best
LC

I suppose martial tradition. Unless it is still heavily in use for training officers or modern military, then the first.

RED
05-20-2010, 11:20 AM
But can you say that one person's Aikido is better ( in a martial sense ) than another's?

David

I don't think so.
I mean we are all learning. O'Sensei admittedly said he was still learning.
We can have favorites. We can have teachers that we think are superb and want to learn from...and we can have Aikidoka that doesn't impress us. But to grade it seems decisively not Aiki.
My dislike of one guys Aikido is my own prejudice. I'm Aikikai, I like Aikikai. Thus I love Aikidoka that use soft ukemi, wide movements, and exaggerated entrances. With that said, with those sets of preferences, I've never been impressed with Suenaka style, or Yoshinkan. And it isn't because those styles, or practitioners have bad Aikido...it is my because of my prejudices and preferences.

Now objectively does a 6th kyu have bad Aikido...maybe, they technically don't have any Aikido yet.

But I was told something once that I'm thinking is true these days, "The Shodan test simply means that you now know enough of the basics to start training in Aikido." I believe you aren't really training in Aikido until Shodan..you are just trying to get down the fundamentals. And you are most likely not even starting to really develop "your Aikido" until after Shodan... my federation doesn't consider you to have your own "Aikido" as a complete student until sandan. :eek:

aikishihan
05-20-2010, 01:03 PM
Hi David,

Thank you for responding to my rather terse statements.

It is my perspective that, while imminently human and fallible, the Founder of Aikido represented a most unique example of individual effort and accomplishment in his lifetime. He never apologized, or rationalized his "work in progress" that lasted until he died. Rather, it was for the very reason you gave that he "was human, and a mere misguided mortal like the rest of us" that drove him to excellence.

In life, there is no lack of competition for anything we seek to attain or accomplish. It verily appears to be a constant scenario of "survival of the fittest", where the victor gets to write history.

I see no need to artificially invent "competition" where, for me, it is not needed or appropriate, nor when it is beneficial to no one except one who is in desperate need of a "win". I believe that we can use our powers of judgement for far better uses, such as who our elected leaders should be, and be doing for us.

The Founder made it abundantly clear that he himself was on a personal journey towards excellence, and that he remained woefully behind in his quest. Nonetheless, he fought the good fight, and did not go gently into that good night.

HIs, along with other great mortals we can name, was a lifetime of extraordinary achievement, not for us to attempt to 'better", but to honor by doing our own level best as we see fit to do. It was always his wish that his students would reach their own respective levels of achievement, not in competition against one another, but in competition for the betterment of themselves, and of manknd.

Yes, you are correct in your viewpoints regarding fallibiity, ambition and opportunity. Perhaps we would all would do better by comparing our own respective progress, not against an eminent and enigmatic historical figure, but with that unlimited potential that lies dormant within ourselves, needing only the courage, vision and energy to try.

lbb
05-20-2010, 02:23 PM
Just a question to generate thought and discussion.

Not necessarily an unanswerable question. Is that your answer, that it is unanswerable?

Absolutely. Why not discuss how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Because it's unanswerable, that's why.

Are you better than O'Sensei? Are you better than your sensei? Are any of your students past or present better than you?

...and at this point, it starts to sound kind of like a feces-agitating question. Why are you asking people whether they're "better" than someone else? I don't buy that it's to "generate thought and discussion"; what "thought and discussion" would it generate?

Rabih Shanshiry
05-20-2010, 02:56 PM
It's easy enough to say one person's aikido is better than another's if the difference in skill level is apparent:

My instructor's aikido is better than mine. His sensei's aikido is better than his.

I'm not sure why so many on this forum seem to talk around the issue. It's bizarre. We're not passing judgement on individuals as a whole - we're making assessments about a skill set. Whether it is polite to name names and compare individuals of similar rank/experience is another matter. In most cases, it is not.

Regarding the OP, is there anyone who's "aikido" is better than O'Sensei's?

If we use the term "aikido" loosely, then perhaps an argument could be made that Sokaku Takeda's aikibudo was superior (perhaps Sagawa's as well?). But this is pure conjecture, and I don't think there is anyway to truly know.

...rab

Basia Halliop
05-20-2010, 03:13 PM
It's so hard to judge such a thing without practicing with the people involved, and having a pretty high level of skill yourself. I've seen a few videos of O-Sensei but although they're interesting, for me a few videos weren't enough to really see much. Instead I believe he was extremely good basically because people whose judgment I respect tell me that people whose judgment THEY respect thought he was extremely good. But comparing people who are dead who you've never trained with, with people in other countries that you've also never trained with and who may have never trained with the dead person either, etc...

I think it would be a pretty hard question to answer. Even neglecting all the subjectivity issues and how we judge this (I think it might be easier to tell a good person from a bad person than to distinguish the level of skill of two already quite excellent people).

dps
05-21-2010, 03:40 AM
Sensei Takahashi,

The people who were the best at teaching or instructing that I have known were the selfless ones that wanted their students to become better than they were. They were foundations to build upon not summits that were unreachable.

If we view our senseis as standards that we can never best, then our personal best will always be less than we can achieve. We have limited our growth before we get started.

David

Adam Huss
05-21-2010, 04:06 AM
I, too, have often heard the phrase "the indication of a great teacher is someone who can teach their students to be better than they are."

Carl Thompson
05-21-2010, 05:22 AM
I think the Founder (http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=641) was well aware that "good" and "bad" are merely relative terms. The "self" of the observer is an inherent part of either adjectival usage. Consider "big" and "small". It really depends on your experience of a phenomenon to say where it is big or small and in an infinite universe you will always get trumped by something bigger or smaller than what you have experienced.
Both good and bad people are part of the family of World Harmony.

aikishihan
05-21-2010, 11:31 AM
Hello David,

Thank you for this ongoing discussion, which I find informative, invigorating and inspiring.

Your obvious respect and high regard for the role of an instructor or teacher is to be commended and honored.

Yet, do we have the right, or even the rationale to judge them so absolutely and with such unintentional arrogance? Do we dare to state that we know their "summits" , or that they really wanted their students "to be better than they were"?

I could never remotely fathom considering a fallible and flawed human being, however accomplished and deserving of high respect, to be a "foundation" for anything or for anyone.The world's history is too full of examples of extraordinary human achievement, with new ones occurring as I write, to seriously consider any one having more impact than another. Such a judgement would be subjective indeed. To label any such a person as a "standard" would be a grave injustice, and dismissive of that individual's true impact.

I do not believe that the Founder, the late Doshu, or any of the fine former uchideshi become shihans that I have had the privilege to know, would ever limit themselves as either "summits" or "foundations" in regards to their respective students,. Rather, I consistently saw them preoccupied with their own ongoing research and development in improving their craft and understanding of the principles of Aiki. Their level of constant growth trumped any notion that another person could adequately judge where they were at any given moment, or where they would eventually arrive when their respective journeys were at an end.

No, I do not buy the argument that a teacher's primary goal is to have his/her student surpass them. In What? How? and Why? Isn't the teacher likewise dedicated to constant growth and improvement without considering any "cap" on their own ambitions for excellence? Why would we even think that they would!

My mentors never quit in their individual quests. I could never reach the levels where they are, nor do I have any desire or reason to attempt to do so. I am preoccupied myself with my own definitions of excellence and ambitions for accomplishing my goals, which change constantly as my knowledge and wisdom grows.

Let us not limit the memory or legacy of our worthy mentors by unintentionally placing artificial and arbitrary prejudgments on their worth and relevance, to us and to history.

Let us also resolve not to limit our individual goals, our private ambitions, and the constantly improving images of ourselves as well.

Aiki1
05-21-2010, 01:30 PM
.......I do not buy the argument that a teacher's primary goal is to have his/her student surpass them. In What? How? and Why? Isn't the teacher likewise dedicated to constant growth and improvement without considering any "cap" on their own ambitions for excellence? Why would we even think that they would!

Hi Francis - I don't think continuing one's own growth and process of exploration, and desiring to pass on to one's students one's Aikido to the extent that they become at least as proficient in skill and understanding, are mutually exclusive. After 28 years, I continue to learn from every class I teach, every interaction I have. At the same time, if I don't strive to induct and impart everything I have to my students, the art of Aikido that I teach will never be fully passed on. Aikido is a huge part of my life, on and off the mat, and, I also want my style to be passed on fully, so I try to embody both.

aikishihan
05-21-2010, 01:40 PM
Hello Larry,

I am in full and enthusiastic agreement with your viewpoint!

It seems that there appears from time to time, a kind of passive abjugation of personal responsibility to strive for more. My response is intended, in part, to remind everyone, myself foremost, that individual accountability cannot be delegated, dismissed, or denigrated by simply claiming to be a student of an icon.

I am glad that you are finding the balance of teaching and being taught, not only by your avowed mentors, but by every opportunity that the Aiki gods present to you.

This is my path as I see it today.

In Oneness,

Aiki1
05-21-2010, 01:53 PM
Hello Larry,

I am in full and enthusiastic agreement with your viewpoint!

It seems that there appears from time to time, a kind of passive abjugation of personal responsibility to strive for more. My response is intended, in part, to remind everyone, myself foremost, that individual accountability cannot be delegated, dismissed, or denigrated by simply claiming to be a student of an icon.

Ah, I completely agree.

I am glad that you are finding the balance of teaching and being taught, not only by your avowed mentors, but by every opportunity that the Aiki gods present to you.

This is my path as I see it today.

That is my path as well. I have no embodied mentors anymore, but I again completely agree, as the opportunities, teachings, and guidance are truly abundant.

In Oneness,

Truly, my friend.

mathewjgano
05-21-2010, 02:37 PM
Not counting the spiritual side of Aikido, do think that there is anyone who was or is better at Aikido then O'Sensei was?

David

My short answer is that it's impossible to know.
Speaking purely in terms of technical ability, I think it's probably very difficult to attain the level of mastery O Sensei likely had so his peers would probably be somewhat few and far between.
Talking about the possibility of surpassing him in that regard, then I think it's almost certain that it will happen if it hasn't yet. Hard to say though. Maybe that little old fellow was some kind of perfect storm of aiki genius, we have no way to know...that I know of!:D Also, it's hard for me to know exactly what the ceiling is for human potential in physical aiki prowess. I'm guessing we have physical limits which implies a cap on ability, but I have no idea what that might be.

Dan Rubin
05-22-2010, 11:28 AM
David

You must be a fan of the Spike TV show, "Deadliest Warrior." Who do you think was the deadlier warrior: a Nazi SS or a Viet Cong? Jesse James or Al Capone? William Wallace or Shaka Zulu? An Apache or a Gladiator?

Evidently these questions can be answered, because the show does so with science!! So surely the question you pose must be answerable.:rolleyes:

Dan

RED
05-22-2010, 05:37 PM
David

You must be a fan of the Spike TV show, "Deadliest Warrior." Who do you think was the deadlier warrior: a Nazi SS or a Viet Cong? Jesse James or Al Capone? William Wallace or Shaka Zulu? An Apache or a Gladiator?

Evidently these questions can be answered, because the show does so with science!! So surely the question you pose must be answerable.:rolleyes:

Dan

Without ballistic-jelly we'll never know. :rolleyes:

ChrisHein
05-22-2010, 05:49 PM
Depends.

I think Ueshiba understood what he was doing. I think that perhaps no one has gotten the full picture as to what he was up too. So he's the best at that: understanding his direction and what Aikido is.

Movement wise, several of his students were pretty close to moving like him. And I think there are several Aikidoka alive today who move better then Ueshiba.

Application of technique, I couldn't say, I never felt his technique.

Ueshiba was FAR better then anyone since at creating an aire of mystery around what he was doing. He had an ability to get people super interested in what he was doing. He had a charisma, that has, likely to date, not been matched.

Anita Dacanay
05-23-2010, 04:53 AM
Hi David,

Thank you for responding to my rather terse statements.

It is my perspective that, while imminently human and fallible, the Founder of Aikido represented a most unique example of individual effort and accomplishment in his lifetime. He never apologized, or rationalized his "work in progress" that lasted until he died. Rather, it was for the very reason you gave that he "was human, and a mere misguided mortal like the rest of us" that drove him to excellence.

In life, there is no lack of competition for anything we seek to attain or accomplish. It verily appears to be a constant scenario of "survival of the fittest", where the victor gets to write history.

I see no need to artificially invent "competition" where, for me, it is not needed or appropriate, nor when it is beneficial to no one except one who is in desperate need of a "win". I believe that we can use our powers of judgement for far better uses, such as who our elected leaders should be, and be doing for us.

The Founder made it abundantly clear that he himself was on a personal journey towards excellence, and that he remained woefully behind in his quest. Nonetheless, he fought the good fight, and did not go gently into that good night.

HIs, along with other great mortals we can name, was a lifetime of extraordinary achievement, not for us to attempt to 'better", but to honor by doing our own level best as we see fit to do. It was always his wish that his students would reach their own respective levels of achievement, not in competition against one another, but in competition for the betterment of themselves, and of manknd.

Yes, you are correct in your viewpoints regarding fallibiity, ambition and opportunity. Perhaps we would all would do better by comparing our own respective progress, not against an eminent and enigmatic historical figure, but with that unlimited potential that lies dormant within ourselves, needing only the courage, vision and energy to try.

Such a well-written post, and rings very true to me.

For the OP - I do not really understand how one takes the spiritual aspect out of the equation where Aikido and O Sensei are concerned. After just reading "A Life in Aikido", it seems pretty clear to me that Aikido was, to the Founder, by definition a spiritual path. If you take that away, it is not Aikido anymore. It may be some sort of martial art or sport, but it is not his Aikido - according to O Sensei's own definition.

Then again, I'm not even 6th kyu yet so what do I know?

Anita Dacanay
05-23-2010, 05:21 AM
Sorry for the double post, but I thought maybe I should provide a quote. To underscore my point, here is a passage from "A Life in Aikido" by the second Doshu quoting O Sensei's writings:

"Aikido is a path to truth, and Aikido training should be understood to have the goal of finding that truth. In the discipline of Aikido, when you train hard, practice wisely, and analyze what you are doing, kami-waza will arise.

In Aikido, when one trains in the following manner, one's body will absorb the power of unchanging truth:

1. Train to harmonize one's mind with the movements of the universe.

2. Train to harmonize one's body with the movements of the universe.

3. Train to harmonize the ki that connects mind and body with the movements of the universe.

Only those who are able to train in these three ways at the same time, not as a theory but in the dojo and in their daily life, can be called practioners of Aikido."

So... how can we have a hypothetical discussion regarding O Sensei's finesse as a martial artist removed from or aside from his spiritual development? It seems to me that the two were so totally intertwined as to be inseparable.

Gorgeous George
05-23-2010, 04:07 PM
Ueshiba was FAR better then anyone since at creating an aire of mystery around what he was doing. He had an ability to get people super interested in what he was doing. He had a charisma, that has, likely to date, not been matched.

O rly?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tib2Urowsdc

dps
05-24-2010, 09:37 AM
Sensei Takahashi,

We don't need to know their summits to learn from them, just that they are better and know something we don't.

Did O'Sensei know Takeda's summit. Did he need to in order to learn. He knew that he was better then he was after challenging him and losing which is what he did throughout his life to learn from those who knew something he didn't. He used Takeda and the others as foundation for his Aikido.

David

dps
05-24-2010, 09:40 AM
Hello Anita,

....with the movements of the universe.

What does this mean?

Does it mean the physical laws of the universe?

David

dps
05-24-2010, 09:47 AM
Absolutely. Why not discuss how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Because it's unanswerable, that's why.

...and at this point, it starts to sound kind of like a feces-agitating question. Why are you asking people whether they're "better" than someone else? I don't buy that it's to "generate thought and discussion"; what "thought and discussion" would it generate?

No,

Just a question to generate thought and discussion.

David

aikishihan
05-24-2010, 10:51 AM
Hi David,

In full agreement that "we don't need to know their summits in order to learn from them,.....". It is also important to be open to learn from anyone at anytime the lessons that enrich our lives, and help us with our improved behavior and more efficient performance.

The Founder's life stream of accomplishments dovetailed inseparably with his intake and assimilation of instructions, inspirations and input from his environment and peers.

We can and should do no less.

Frankly, I would not have the faintest idea of how to determine another person's "summit", nor would I care to if I could. For me, it is the journey itself that is invaluable, and not merely any rest stops or scenic points along the way.

In Oneness,

Anita Dacanay
05-24-2010, 11:52 AM
Hello Anita,

What does this mean?

Does it mean the physical laws of the universe?

David

Hi David,

I will not presume to know precisely what O Sensei meant by these statements, but I think I can ascertain that he was talking about achieving a greater consciousness. My guess is that this would include expanded awareness and greater understanding of both physical and spiritual laws of the universe.

When I reach my own enlightenment, I'll let you know! ;)

Best,
Anita

dps
05-24-2010, 12:21 PM
Hi David,

In full agreement that "we don't need to know their summits in order to learn from them,.....". It is also important to be open to learn from anyone at anytime the lessons that enrich our lives, and help us with our improved behavior and more efficient performance.

The Founder's life stream of accomplishments dovetailed inseparably with his intake and assimilation of instructions, inspirations and input from his environment and peers.

We can and should do no less.

Frankly, I would not have the faintest idea of how to determine another person's "summit", nor would I care to if I could. For me, it is the journey itself that is invaluable, and not merely any rest stops or scenic points along the way.

In Oneness,

We are on common ground.

One of the main purposes of our existence is to learn.
What you learn or who you learn from is not as important as the process of learning.
You should always be prepared to learn.
One could argue that there is no summit to learning.

David

Gorgeous George
05-24-2010, 05:28 PM
Hello Anita,

What does this mean?

Does it mean the physical laws of the universe?

David

Hello,

not presuming to answer for Anita...but i think this whole 'Aikido means the way of harmony with the universe' thing, means that we should become what we are meant to be.
You should probably read some Zen philosophy, as that has this has its focus.
It talks of us having a nature, just as a fish and a bird have - 'The bird flying as a bird, the fish going as a fish' - and that we should look to realise:

'Water, when exposed to cold, freezes, hardens, and becomes ice, and though its nature does not change, it loses complete freedom of movement.
So through illusion of ignorance, the human neing sets and hardens, and although his Buddha-nature does not change, he is debarred from the limitless freedom of the Buddha.'.

I hope that makes sense.

Anita Dacanay
05-25-2010, 04:26 AM
Please, George - go ahead and presume to answer for me, as when I answered for myself, I got no response! (I am smiling here - please don't take offense, David.) I like your answer, George: "we should become what we are meant to be."

In any event, the only point I was trying to make with that quote was that, to my understanding, one cannot take the spiritual aspect of Ueshiba's Aikido out of the equation and still call it Aikido. It seems to me that that would be rather like taking the ice cream out of an ice cream sundae!

However, trying to understand and articulate precisely what O Sensei meant by "the movements of the universe" might make for a compelling discussion.

Gorgeous George
05-25-2010, 08:29 AM
Please, George - go ahead and presume to answer for me, as when I answered for myself, I got no response! (I am smiling here - please don't take offense, David.) I like your answer, George: "we should become what we are meant to be."

In any event, the only point I was trying to make with that quote was that, to my understanding, one cannot take the spiritual aspect of Ueshiba's Aikido out of the equation and still call it Aikido. It seems to me that that would be rather like taking the ice cream out of an ice cream sundae!

However, trying to understand and articulate precisely what O Sensei meant by "the movements of the universe" might make for a compelling discussion.

Well what's fundamental for me in my understanding of aikido is that it is concerned with 'natural movements'.
The techniques/movements of aikido, to me, are the same as those of yoga: by performing them/having them applied, your body is freed from constraints - your muscles etc. are stretched, and blood, and what have you can freely move around your body: if you wrap string around your wrist, cutting off the blood supply to your hand, your hand will literally wither and die; we should bear that in mind when thinking about like, applying nikkyo, for example, and it is stimulating the unstimulated areas of your wrist, getting blood, and y'know, antibodies and all that stuff, there.
There's a saying from possibly O'Sensei, which is along the lines of 'When you're born, you're very relaxed, but as you get older, you stiffen up, and eventually you die, so we should look to stay relaxed'.

I don't know about anybody else, but after doing yoga or aikido, i feel much better - i don't know if it's from the 'ki' flowing more freely, and around more of my body, or just the blood (the two are probably the same?), but i think it's because i'm in more accord with the universe: i am in accord with nature - moving as a human being should - and what is natural feels the best, of necessity.

Anita Dacanay
05-25-2010, 08:46 AM
Well what's fundamental for me in my understanding of aikido is that it is concerned with 'natural movements'.
The techniques/movements of aikido, to me, are the same as those of yoga: by performing them/having them applied, your body is freed from constraints - your muscles etc. are stretched, and blood, and what have you can freely move around your body: if you wrap string around your wrist, cutting off the blood supply to your hand, your hand will literally wither and die; we should bear that in mind when thinking about like, applying nikkyo, for example, and it is stimulating the unstimulated areas of your wrist, getting blood, and y'know, antibodies and all that stuff, there.
There's a saying from possibly O'Sensei, which is along the lines of 'When you're born, you're very relaxed, but as you get older, you stiffen up, and eventually you die, so we should look to stay relaxed'.

I don't know about anybody else, but after doing yoga or aikido, i feel much better - i don't know if it's from the 'ki' flowing more freely, and around more of my body, or just the blood (the two are probably the same?), but i think it's because i'm in more accord with the universe: i am in accord with nature - moving as a human being should - and what is natural feels the best, of necessity.

That all makes good sense, George; and is for me a big part of my motivation for continuing to practice - I feel better afterward! In essence, I suppose it does not really matter if the feeling better is simply because my blood is flowing through my veins more vigorously or because my ki is flowing more freely - or both. There is practical good sense in doing what makes us feel invigorated and more balanced.

The whole "natural movement" idea always makes me think of watching a dolphin swim or an eagle soar. Sometimes I get these images when I watch someone particularly adept practicing Aikido.

dps
05-25-2010, 09:19 AM
Hi David,

I will not presume to know precisely what O Sensei meant by these statements, but I think I can ascertain that he was talking about achieving a greater consciousness. My guess is that this would include expanded awareness and greater understanding of both physical and spiritual laws of the universe.

When I reach my own enlightenment, I'll let you know! ;)

Best,
Anita

I can understand the physical laws of the universe but could you explain the spiritual laws of the universe?

David

dps
05-25-2010, 09:50 AM
I am familiar with Zen philosophy but to my understanding O'Sensei did not study Zen. The religions that were primary in developing his spiritual beliefs were Shinto and Omoto-kyo.

O'Sensei's spiritual beliefs were O'Sensei's. Many if not all of his direct students did not share O'Sensei's beliefs.

Many Aikido students practice Aikido without a spiritual component.

Anita and George do believe that your Aikido can be as good or better than O'Sensei's.

David

Gorgeous George
05-25-2010, 12:17 PM
I am familiar with Zen philosophy but to my understanding O'Sensei did not study Zen. The religions that were primary in developing his spiritual beliefs were Shinto and Omoto-kyo.

O'Sensei's spiritual beliefs were O'Sensei's. Many if not all of his direct students did not share O'Sensei's beliefs.

Many Aikido students practice Aikido without a spiritual component.

Anita and George do believe that your Aikido can be as good or better than O'Sensei's.

David

Yes, i know that he didn't study Zen...what i was meaning to express, not knowing much about his religion, is that throughout Eatern philosophy/religion there is this belief - through Zen, Tao, and i think Shinto, too - that there is this underlying reality with which we can all connect.
It's one of those 'there are many ways to get there, but it's the same summit' kind of things, i think.
There is a very good article by Chiba sensei on the subject of philosophy/religion in aikido; it's very long, so here are a few relevant excerpts:

'Aikido has been regarded as "moving Zen" which defines the character of Aikido well.
[...]

I would like to describe how I began Zen training which, in a passive way, was due to my teacher, Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido. What I mean by a "passive way" is that he taught me the importance of spiritual discipline along with martial discipline.
[...]

the Founder always emphasized the importance of spiritual discipline ("religious faith", in his exact words) and the practice of farming along with martial discipline, if one wished to achieve one's goals. I had no problem with following the practice of farming and martial discipline (I still do both even up to today). However, I could not avoid the increasingly strong internal resistance that, as time went on, built up within me toward the Founder's spiritual discipline. I suffered from an internal split and feared the loss of unity between the physical art and spiritual discipline which was supposed to be the underlying principle of the art.

[...]
Zen, on the other hand, is a profound discipline bringing about a confrontation with one's own original face and man's fundamental living principle, so-called "Honrai-no-Memboku" through engaging in the most direct, simple and primordial physical act of sitting. When Aikido, as a martial art, is defined as a way to deal with one's subjectivity in relation to others, as I have attempted to define it above, Zen can be viewed as a premise or precondition for martial discipline, and this is where one can find a strong connection between the two. Thus, Aikido can be called a "moving Zen".

[...]
I believe the important message is that one should not look at things through a filter of dualistic views, but with a unified view of the mind and body as one.

[...]
all acquired conditions, learned behavior patterns which make up the underlying perception of self-identity must be put aside'

http://www.aikidoonline.com/articles/shihankai_articles/chiba/Chiba_Zen_Aikido.php

I agree that there are many - most, in fact - who do not engage in aikido on philosophical/religious grounds, and never have much interest or understanding of them; my own view/understanding of aikido's creation is that this religious man, O'Sensei, practised martial arts, and came to realise (after he dodged all of that kendoka's thrusts, and went to wash himself?) that when he was practising them, he was also practicing his religion - hence he created aikido: a direct means of acting out his religious beliefs, and that his entire life was aikido: he moved as he did on the mat in his life.

(What i find interesting here, as an aside, is that there are these Chinese martial arts where they have 'monkey style', 'crane style', ('doggy style'?), etc., which have as their intent to move like these animals, and thus, through effective natural movement, win fights, whereas aikido has as its intent to move like a man (or woman: i meant nothing by it) should - that is the most effective way for a man (or woman) to move.)

Is there the capacity for us to be as good as/better than O'Sensei? Possibly. Is it likely? No.

Anita Dacanay
05-25-2010, 01:09 PM
I am familiar with Zen philosophy but to my understanding O'Sensei did not study Zen. The religions that were primary in developing his spiritual beliefs were Shinto and Omoto-kyo.

O'Sensei's spiritual beliefs were O'Sensei's. Many if not all of his direct students did not share O'Sensei's beliefs.

Many Aikido students practice Aikido without a spiritual component.

David

Well, personally I am not a religious person, but I am a spiritual person. That is, I don't follow any one specified religion, but I have been seeking spiritual truth since I was a teenager. I believe that spiritual truth is spiritual truth, whether it is conveyed through a particular religious figure or writing, or by some other means.

In other words, I don't think that I have to follow the same religion as O Sensei in order to benefit from or learn from his spiritual journey and/or teachings. For me, Aikido inherently conveys a "spiritual component".

To be clear, however, we may be defining "spiritual component" in very different ways.

For me, it is spiritually significant to realize that I often don't take up my space as I should, or assert my presence when it is appropriate. In a physical sense, this may mean that I don't enter in thoroughly enough, that I'm not standing close enough to my partner, that I don't give appropriate atemi, or that I "hang up the phone" on my partner when I am being Uke. In order to change this movement, I may have to change my psychology first; or I may find that by changing my physiology, my mental state changes. This goes beyond merely physics or psychology when I realize that I am not being true to my inner self if I do not assert myself when appropriate. Working through this unhealthy pattern or way of relating takes me closer to balance, closer to that state of being who I was meant to be, as I was meant to be.

In regards to your question about whether or not I think I could surpass O Sensei in my Aikido practice, I would have to answer as George did. Theoretically, I guess so; but in my estimation it is highly, highly unlikely. But then again, my goal is not to be better than O Sensei, my goal is to be better than I was last week.

Aiki1
05-25-2010, 03:05 PM
Sorry for the double post, but I thought maybe I should provide a quote. To underscore my point, here is a passage from "A Life in Aikido" by the second Doshu quoting O Sensei's writings:

"Aikido is a path to truth, and Aikido training should be understood to have the goal of finding that truth. In the discipline of Aikido, when you train hard, practice wisely, and analyze what you are doing, kami-waza will arise.

In Aikido, when one trains in the following manner, one's body will absorb the power of unchanging truth:

1. Train to harmonize one's mind with the movements of the universe.

2. Train to harmonize one's body with the movements of the universe.

3. Train to harmonize the ki that connects mind and body with the movements of the universe.

Only those who are able to train in these three ways at the same time, not as a theory but in the dojo and in their daily life, can be called practioners of Aikido."

So... how can we have a hypothetical discussion regarding O Sensei's finesse as a martial artist removed from or aside from his spiritual development? It seems to me that the two were so totally intertwined as to be inseparable.

To me, Aikido ultimately emerged from, and was an expression of, O Sensei's spirituality, not necessarily, in a sense, his spiritual path. That being said, I think his development lead him to shape Aikido into something that reflected his realization of the "true nature of things", and can provide people with clues into what he actually experienced, and, if one looks carefully, even perhaps an understanding of how to pursue it themselves.

O Sensei's practice was grounded in Shinto, which at it's heart is Shamanism. Looking at his teachings in that light, we can interpret the spirituality of Aikido in terms of connection to the greater Spirit and Will of the Universe, and connection to the Kami, or in other terms, disembodied Higher Guides and Helpers (in Native American spirituality, the Spirit Guides), that communicate with us and help us align with and manifest our highest human and spiritual truth (in Buddhism, our personal and spiritual Dharma.)

On a practical level, through understanding how to open one's being and energy (Ki) to the energy and consciousness of the Universe/Spirit (through fully knowing one's center and one's Ki), and through knowing the process through which one can connect and listen to the Kami/Guides, and then, through allowing these experiences of consciousness to manifest in and through our bodies and beings, alignment and harmony with Spirit and highest good and the best possible outcome occur - the loving protection of all things.

These processes train one's mind, body, and Ki to be in harmony with the movements of the Universe, which are the natural unfoldings of Spirit/Universal Consciousness in it's perfect form.

My Shamanic mentor uses the term - Centered in the Sacred Presence - in all of body, mind, and spirit. Bring all that through in the moment into your Aikido and life, and you have what, to me, O Sensei was talking about.

These are skills and experiences that one has to be inducted into, not just taught about through the repetitive practice of techniques that relate to them, or point to them. Beyond technical expertise, "Kami-waza" then becomes Aikido manifesting as a result of "higher guidance." And as O Sensei intimated, perhaps to be doing, or relating to, Aikido as he did, one needs to include a relationship with this deeper dimension of spiritual reality in one's awareness, experience, and consciousness. To me, this doesn't mean following Shinto etc., it means keeping open to the clues that lead one to one's own deeper path. Again, as my mentor often says:

"Seek not to follow in the footsteps of the Ancient Ones,
seek instead what they sought."

Anita Dacanay
05-26-2010, 04:31 AM
These processes train one's mind, body, and Ki to be in harmony with the movements of the Universe, which are the natural unfoldings of Spirit/Universal Consciousness in it's perfect form.

My Shamanic mentor uses the term - Centered in the Sacred Presence - in all of body, mind, and spirit. Bring all that through in the moment into your Aikido and life, and you have what, to me, O Sensei was talking about.

These are skills and experiences that one has to be inducted into, not just taught about through the repetitive practice of techniques that relate to them, or point to them. Beyond technical expertise, "Kami-waza" then becomes Aikido manifesting as a result of "higher guidance." And as O Sensei intimated, perhaps to be doing, or relating to, Aikido as he did, one needs to include a relationship with this deeper dimension of spiritual reality in one's awareness, experience, and consciousness. To me, this doesn't mean following Shinto etc., it means keeping open to the clues that lead one to one's own deeper path. Again, as my mentor often says:

"Seek not to follow in the footsteps of the Ancient Ones,
seek instead what they sought."

Thanks for your explanation, Larry. You make a lot of good points. I have only recently become aware of the shamanic nature of Omoto.

I am wondering if you think that the movements in Aikido are designed to facilitate or elicit greater sensitivity to the spiritual realm? I used to practice Kundalini yoga years ago, and had very powerful experiences of feeling my energy flowing and feeling my consciousness altered. I could literally feel the exercises working on me on both the physical and spiritual level.

As of now I have not had that sort of experience during Aikido practice. I definitely feel better after practicing Aikido: more balanced and relaxed; but in the moment I have yet to truly get past my worry about how badly I am executing the technique! It's one thing for me to be centered and relaxed whilst meditating in my own quiet little corner; quite another to remain so when being confronted with an attack.

Aiki1
05-26-2010, 12:32 PM
Thanks for your explanation, Larry. You make a lot of good points. I have only recently become aware of the shamanic nature of Omoto.

I am wondering if you think that the movements in Aikido are designed to facilitate or elicit greater sensitivity to the spiritual realm? I used to practice Kundalini yoga years ago, and had very powerful experiences of feeling my energy flowing and feeling my consciousness altered. I could literally feel the exercises working on me on both the physical and spiritual level.

As of now I have not had that sort of experience during Aikido practice. I definitely feel better after practicing Aikido: more balanced and relaxed; but in the moment I have yet to truly get past my worry about how badly I am executing the technique! It's one thing for me to be centered and relaxed whilst meditating in my own quiet little corner; quite another to remain so when being confronted with an attack.

This is just my take on things, based on my own experience, but I think you ask a really important question.

I think many people feel good after Aikido practice, myself included, for many reasons, a big one being the spiraling, circular/spherical "harmonious" movements. This in-and-of-itself tends to bring a certain centered, exhilarating experience, which is a powerful thing. Along with that, the flowing nature of the movements and practice brings positive feelings and sensibilities that are very different than if one were doing techniques etc. that feel "more linear, confrontive, and in conflict." To me this is "physical Aiki" and can be a great experience. I personally think that this is a lot of what people get from Aikido practice.

But as much as I enjoy that, for me it is not nearly enough. It is really important to me How Aikido is practiced Internally, because it is more about the feeling and consciousness that I approach each moment and interaction with, the things I am paying attention to inside myself, and how I am then literally externalizing those things in the moment. That, to me, brings another dimension to Aikido and Aikido practice that I think O Sensei was addressing.

For me Aikido is an externalization of a subtle experience that is cultivated by learning to pay continual attention to the basic internal principles of center, Ki, connection, and ultimately guidance, that I touched on above. In my experience, it is then that one enters into, as you nicely call it, a "greater sensitivity to the spiritual realm" that for me is very important (I would add to that the "energetic realm" as well.) The internal principles need to be specifically and properly learned, addressed, and paid attention to all the time, otherwise Aikido is an external practice that in my opinion, likely won't move into the deeper realms, or at least not that far.

And of course you're right about it being easier to be centered etc. while meditating rather than actually facing a dynamic attack. It is how we develop the ability to do so, that I am really addressing. For me, the two subjects - the spiritual dimension of Aikido and the actuality of how one manifests Aikido, are integrally related.

Kudalini yoga is designed specifically to have an affect on one's internal (spiritual) experience. In Aikido, perhaps the same is true at some level, but how deep that really goes depends on how one approaches it and practices it.

Anita Dacanay
05-27-2010, 03:59 AM
Kudalini yoga is designed specifically to have an affect on one's internal (spiritual) experience. In Aikido, perhaps the same is true at some level, but how deep that really goes depends on how one approaches it and practices it.

Yes, I was wondering about that because of the circle, triangle, square business, and how physically manifesting these shapes with our bodies in practice might affect us on various levels. I hear your assertion that what one gets out of Aikido practice depends upon the focus or intention that one puts into it. That is true of many things, I suppose, or everything!

Thank you again for a thoughtful response, Larry. Your posts have helped me to clarify several points regarding what Aikido means to me and why I practice.

Aiki1
05-27-2010, 07:20 PM
Yes, I was wondering about that because of the circle, triangle, square business, and how physically manifesting these shapes with our bodies in practice might affect us on various levels. I hear your assertion that what one gets out of Aikido practice depends upon the focus or intention that one puts into it. That is true of many things, I suppose, or everything!

Thank you again for a thoughtful response, Larry. Your posts have helped me to clarify several points regarding what Aikido means to me and why I practice.

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss this stuff. :)