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OwlMatt
07-20-2010, 09:26 PM
I have heard from many aikidoka (including one of my senseis) that aikido is "more than a martial art" or "not just a martial art". The explanation for this is often that aikido is a way of life and a spiritual discipline, not just a method for physical fitness and self-defense.

This is certainly true, in and of itself. But when used as a justification for setting aikido apart from other martial arts, it seems to imply that other martial arts are not spiritual disciplines or ways of life. And that is a sentiment which would sorely offend practitioners of kung fu, kenpo, iaido, and many other arts.

My question is this:
Virtually all traditional martial arts claim, like aikido, to be spiritual disciplines and ways of life, more than just fighting methods. When we say, then, that aikido is more than just a martial art, are we refuting those claims made by other arts? Or are these other arts equally worthy of being called "more than a martial art"? And if so, if the term "martial art" is one so widely transcended, why use it at all?

In short, (A) do we claim that spirituality, philosophy, and life lessons are exclusive to aikido in the martial arts world, and (B) if not, what is the basis for our claim that aikido is "more than a martial art"?

This figure of speech is often used but rarely explained at length and it's starting to confuse me.

niall
07-20-2010, 11:44 PM
Hi Matthew.

Martial art means technique for war. Not many people learn martial arts to use in war. Going to war means to going to win - if necessary by killing or destroying the enemy.

Aikido is different from other martial arts and martial ways and martial sports because it doesn't use concepts like win or opponent and it doesn't rely on destruction or damage or death. Aikido like many other martial arts can also be a philosophy or way of life if you want it to be.

But people who do aikido or any martial art sincerely don't look down on other martial arts or other martial artists.

Ketsan
07-21-2010, 07:31 AM
I've never had a single spiritual or philosophical teaching from any Aikido instructor. The entirety of my training has consisted of technical instruction with the aim of subduing an attacker.

For me therefore Aikido is just a martial art. I think we can settle all this with another question: "Would you go to your instructor for spiritual advice?" My money is that the vast majority of us haven't even considered the possibility of going to our instructor for spiritual advice.

That's not to say that Aikido doesn't have it's spiritual uses because it does; they're just the usual ones found in all arts.

Gorgeous George
07-21-2010, 08:12 AM
I've never had a single spiritual or philosophical teaching from any Aikido instructor. The entirety of my training has consisted of technical instruction with the aim of subduing an attacker.

For me therefore Aikido is just a martial art. I think we can settle all this with another question: "Would you go to your instructor for spiritual advice?" My money is that the vast majority of us haven't even considered the possibility of going to our instructor for spiritual advice.

I think that inherent in the technical instruction you have recieved, is vast spiritual/philosophical teaching.

chillzATL
07-21-2010, 09:06 AM
Nope, it's just a martial art, IMO. People try to make it more than that because Ueshiba Sensei was a spiritual man who had a very positive message. This also makes Aikido a good gateway into other practices (misogi, etc), but it inherently offers no more character building than any martial art, IMO.

OwlMatt
07-21-2010, 09:06 AM
Hi Matthew.

Martial art means technique for war. Not many people learn martial arts to use in war. Going to war means to going to win - if necessary by killing or destroying the enemy.

Aikido is different from other martial arts and martial ways and martial sports because it doesn't use concepts like win or opponent and it doesn't rely on destruction or damage or death. Aikido like many other martial arts can also be a philosophy or way of life if you want it to be.

But people who do aikido or any martial art sincerely don't look down on other martial arts or other martial artists.
So, your take is that aikido transcends martial art by transcending winners and losers, which you percieve to be an essential element of most martial arts? Assuming I am understanding you correctly, that makes a lot more sense to me than some of the other explanations I've heard.

I think that inherent in the technical instruction you have recieved, is vast spiritual/philosophical teaching.

I would agree with this. But I'm not sure that this by itself means that aikido transcends martial art.

Ketsan
07-21-2010, 09:26 AM
I think that inherent in the technical instruction you have recieved, is vast spiritual/philosophical teaching.

It could also be a recipe for noodle soup. Until someone explains it to me I'll never know.

I learned several technqiues in Jujutsu before I learned them in Aikido such as kote gaeshi, shiho nage, nikkyo and their use in Jujutsu predates Aikido by several hundred years and apparently the vast spiritual/philosophical teaching was missed by the several million people exposed to those techniques.

niall
07-21-2010, 09:33 AM
Yeah that's the first point - no winners and losers. In aikido your most difficult opponent is yourself.
You can compare kyudo say.

Next point - at the highest level of aikido - don't do any damage. Just show the attacker that it's foolish to continue attacking. I don't think there's anything you can compare to this. That's where aikido transcends jujutsu or judo or karate or kenjutsu or daito-ryu or anything else. For me anyway.

And the spiritual and philosphical underpinning of aikido was from O Sensei so it's not surprising noone knew about it before he introduced it.

SeiserL
07-21-2010, 10:24 AM
IMHO, Aikido is just a tool to be used.
Its what you bring to the training that makes the difference.

Is it more than a martial art?
It can be but it doesn't have to be.

Aiki1
07-21-2010, 10:35 AM
My thoughts on this are:

In the book The Art Of Peace, O Sensei is quoted as having written:

"The Art of Peace has no form - it is the study of the spirit."

This is, for some, the "secret or heart of Aikido." It seems to be interpreted very differently by many people in the Aikido community, and understandably so.

For me, the deeper truth in Aikido lies in where you are inside: what you are conscious of, what you are experiencing, what you are sourcing, and how you are externalizing and expressing that. I believe this was one of O Sensei's ultimate points.

In that light, someone once asked me:

"Does one need a strong spiritual life to "master" Aikido?"

My reply was:

"If one person finds the spirtitual depth and spiritual experience in Aikido, then yes.

If another does not, then no.

But between the two people, what they end up 'mastering', although it may at times look similar, may indeed be two very different things."

Just something to think about.

Ketsan
07-21-2010, 11:29 AM
If it's not in the curriculum it's not part of the art. I could say all the same things about Judo or Karate or any other art. In Judo are you defeating an opponent in randori or are you learning to harmonise with them?

I can just pick the latter and suddenly my opponent becomes my partner and fighting becomes harmonisation. At the highest level I could bring someone down without hurting them and I could do it much easier than with Aikido.

If we stick to what is actually taught by instructors there is no philosophical or spiritual side.

lbb
07-21-2010, 03:26 PM
I think that inherent in the technical instruction you have recieved, is vast spiritual/philosophical teaching.

I'd like to believe that aikido is chock-full of all this great stuff, but unfortunately this is an unsupported assertion at best. Furthermore, Alex has the counterargument: if "vast spiritual/philosophical teaching" is inherent in what he's been taught, then it must also be inherent in the teaching of the same techniques under the label of "jujutsu". Make sense? :crazy:

I think the truth is that human beings often integrate experiences of all kinds in ways where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, or at least appears to be. In the course of being taught something, you may learn or grow or change in ways that are beyond the instruction. When this happens, I don't think this makes the activity either universal or unique: not everyone in aikido experiences this, nor do only aikidoka experience this.

In particular, it's misleading to say that such learning or experiences are part of aikido, because as Alex has pointed out, it is very rare that an aikido sensei will teach philosophy or spiritual practices -- I'm not talking BSing over beers, here, or the ten-second token "moku-so" at the beginning and end of class, but actual teaching. Those who practice aikido and who experience growth in some spiritual or philosophical or esoteric realm may have a mutual understanding of what it means for these experiences to be "part of aikido", but to an outsider, the statement would seem to imply that these things are part of the aikido curriculum -- and they're not. For one person, aikido may be one of many practices that can serve as a catalyst for positive change that goes beyond the practice itself -- such that they attribute this change to their aikido practice. Another person, who comes to aikido hearing these claims and believing that he/she will be taught spiritual or esoteric practices in the course of aikido instruction, will be greatly disappointed.

niall
07-21-2010, 10:17 PM
We all have different approaches and different exeriences. But the danger in saying something isn't there is that even if it is there you're probably never going to find it.

Ketsan
07-22-2010, 07:52 AM
We all have different approaches and different exeriences. But the danger in saying something isn't there is that even if it is there you're probably never going to find it.

I don't say it's not there because I don't want it to be there. I really do. I write for my dojo's website and I have written stuff which links Aikido in with taoism and buddhism.
That said I realise that it is me who is projecting my spirituality onto Aikido rather than Aikido providing me with spiritual teachings because I could write the same about any martial art you care to name and because when I discuss this with other people they have radically different ideas.
I'm sure you can find people from any spirtual or religious stance who find what they believe reflected in Aikido because we're all projecting.

lbb
07-22-2010, 08:46 AM
We all have different approaches and different exeriences. But the danger in saying something isn't there is that even if it is there you're probably never going to find it.

I can state with absolute confidence that meditation instruction, philosophical discussions, and teachings on spiritual practice are not there in my aikido instruction. I am not worried about the possibility that they may be happening right in front of my nose and that I'm simply unable to perceive them.

niall
07-22-2010, 09:23 AM
Just keep training. In ten years or twenty years if you're still doing aikido and you think all you've been learning is how to defend yourself - well hey that's something isn't it. Good luck.

jonreading
07-22-2010, 11:41 AM
In short, (A) do we claim that spirituality, philosophy, and life lessons are exclusive to aikido in the martial arts world, and (B) if not, what is the basis for our claim that aikido is "more than a martial art"?


A. Some do. I assert that aikido contains foundational principles on which to base moral, ethical, and spiritual beliefs. Most other martial arts also possess these foundations however so I do not believe they are unqiue to aikido.
B. My understanding is that we use the phrase "more than a martial art" as a tag line to promote aikido; I do not believe a significant percentage of aikido people training today follow the path of budo in their daily lives that aikido may substantiate that claim.

A friend of mine once described the high philosophical road of aikido as "...something you say to explain why you can't fight." Budo is self-education, self-governing, and self-imposing. It is also a time and effort committment that many of us do not undertake in it's entirety. So here we say aikido is a life philosophy...that we only follow two days a week while we dress up and pretend to play fight games... It sends a confusing message.

I think a better claim is to qualify the statement for those training that should they wish to transcend the physcial and martial compenents of aikido, there are spiritual and intellectual components as well. Not everyone is capable of participating in the physical training aspects of aikido. Not everyone can devote the time and energy to understand the strategic and intellectual facets of aikido. Not everyone is cut out to be a master of aikido. However, I think aikido is more than a martial art because we will not prohibit students from trying to be any of these things.

Steven
07-22-2010, 12:13 PM
IMHO, Aikido is just a tool to be used.
Its what you bring to the training that makes the difference.


Amen brother!

Janet Rosen
07-22-2010, 01:16 PM
One can find one's spiritual practice in aikido, doing the dishes, tending to the sick, contemplating the sea... or not. For me, it's there in aikido bbut I have had very wonderful training partners for whom it was "just" a martial art.

Buck
07-22-2010, 04:35 PM
Hi Matthew.

Martial art means technique for war. Not many people learn martial arts to use in war. Going to war means to going to win - if necessary by killing or destroying the enemy.

Aikido is different from other martial arts and martial ways and martial sports because it doesn't use concepts like win or opponent and it doesn't rely on destruction or damage or death. Aikido like many other martial arts can also be a philosophy or way of life if you want it to be.

But people who do aikido or any martial art sincerely don't look down on other martial arts or other martial artists.

This is how I look at it exactly. Niall said it well imo.

Gorgeous George
07-23-2010, 09:50 AM
If you spend a lot of time being relaxed; moving naturally; practicing non-resistance; looking to understand others and yield to them; etc. etcetera, then this will mould your character thus.
Hence philosophy is inherent in aikido practice.

From what little I know of Zen and Taoism, this is where they fit into it, too: they are about alignment with our natural selves, which is obscured by acting unnaturally; so if we start to act naturally - which is what we do in aikido, as the movements of aikido are natural movements - we will come to understand nature, and ourselves.
I accept that aikido will affect people on this level to varying degrees - but it's undoubtedly untrue that what we do has no effect at all on who we are, and how we act subsequently: as Aristotle says: 'Character arises out of habit'.

It's pretty obvious to me that what we do, makes us who we are: if we spend a lot of time competing with others, then we will become competitive people; if we spend a lot of time ignoring others, then we will become ignorant; if we are very kind to others, we will become kind people; and so on.

OwlMatt
07-23-2010, 04:32 PM
I think it's fair to say that there is more to aikido than martial techniques. Any martial art with do in its name at least claims to be a path rather than just a method. The intent of this thread was not to raise the question of whether or not there are deeper truths to be found in aikido than martial techniques; for me, there certainly are.

My question was whether or not these deeper truths justify the popular assertion that aikido somehow transcends martial art, since my perception is that deeper truths can be found in any martial art and are not exclusive to aikido.

Aiki1
07-23-2010, 05:52 PM
I think it's fair to say that there is more to aikido than martial techniques. Any martial art with do in its name at least claims to be a path rather than just a method. The intent of this thread was not to raise the question of whether or not there are deeper truths to be found in aikido than martial techniques; for me, there certainly are.

My question was whether or not these deeper truths justify the popular assertion that aikido somehow transcends martial art, since my perception is that deeper truths can be found in any martial art and are not exclusive to aikido.

In a sense, this is a complicated subject, but to start, I would say, to anyone, look at any art and look at the desired outcome, and the process they teach to get there. Then define for yourself what "more than a martial art" means. What "levels" of experience and consciousness are you addressing. Then ask, how does it all fit together....

Benjamin Green
07-23-2010, 09:06 PM
When you're fighting a war you don't use hands or feet against someone directly very much, even in relatively ancient times. You use guns, or in the past spears, bows, swords - that sort of thing. And you're generally wearing armour that would render a lot of the strikes and techniques in martial arts completely pointless at best and more commonly simply suicidal.

Aikido may be a martial art but martial arts does not mean techniques for war. Martial means warlike and arts means something like a practised skill. Warlike skills. Many of the body skills are easily transferred to weapons use, (although the differences are still significant.) And they provide a formalised container for a lot of the hostility and intention to mess the other guy up that war does without the weapons and killing.

It's that without bit that's important to this discussion I think, the bits of wartime knowledge that are absent. Martial arts are a compromise, keeping a certain level of pre-requisites for practical wartime techniques available within a society without people killing each other during the time it's not needed.

There are other words that can be substituted in on the side of threat relationships to conceal the underlying intention to take from others, but I don't seriously believe aikido doesn't trade in those concepts. The attacker has an objective, the defender has their objective, whoever attains theirs wins and in doing so cause the other person to lose what they wanted.

Of course in training you have mutually compatible goals, but that goes for many arts. Wrestling isn't about having someone's arm off either, in karate you partner up for pairs work and there isn't a winner and a loser. But only inside the dojo. Just as aikido is only undamaging inside the dojo. Falling onto concrete isn't exactly a comfortable experience, (your average untrained person isn't going to roll out of something.) Even joint locks rely on the fact that if the other person pushes into it they're going to break the joint.

Can aikido be used for more than tearing someone a new one? Yes. But that doesn't make it more than a martial art since martial arts are formalised systems for managing the tensions between the chaos of undirected violence and the long-term interests of society. Hence the excessive formalism in the MA world perhaps. :p

Gorgeous George
07-23-2010, 09:31 PM
My question was whether or not these deeper truths justify the popular assertion that aikido somehow transcends martial art, since my perception is that deeper truths can be found in any martial art and are not exclusive to aikido.

I think that everything we do, as I said in my other post, has connotations for the character we build: hence competition in judo, say, fosters a competitive attitude/character in a person, and this is very deliberately why there is no competition in aikido - the thinking being that competition and separation from another is what leads the world into disorder, war, etc.
So there's a good example of how the practice of aikido transcends a martial art in the sense I think you mean it - i.e., a means of harming others, defending yourself, etc.

I recently read a book by Mitsugi Saotome, and in it, he said something that gave me an insight into what aikido, as a budo, is intended to be: I think that budo - 'the martial way' - as understood by o'sensei, is a way of protecting, and helping society/the human race; this is why we are exhorted to have compassion for others. There was also a switch in ethos during the times of feudal Japan(?) from 'the sword that takes life'(?), to 'the life-giving sword': and my understanding of this is that budoka should not look to kill - to harm - others through the martial arts; but rather, to help others through the martial arts.

And that's why we seek harmony, sensitivity, connection, and co-operation in aikido techniques: understanding of these principles is what aikido is practiced for the sake of - the martial techniques are only a guide/means to help us achieve this understanding.

I don't know much about aikido, though - and i'm even less good at doing it, so if any of that makes any sense...if it doesn't: sorry for wasting your time.

Aiki1
07-23-2010, 09:44 PM
martial arts are formalised systems for managing the tensions between the chaos of undirected violence and the long-term interests of society. Hence the excessive formalism in the MA world perhaps. :p

My experience is different. Perhaps Judo, and in some instances maybe Aikido can be viewed this way, but in everything else I have studied (or am fairly familiar with): various forms of karate, Hapkido, BJJ (not only for sport), knife work etc. - all were specifically training for hard-core self-defense application where the opponant/attacker is disarmed, disabled, or left dead - not to socialize, channel, or re-direct violence, violent tendencies, or tension etc. And I believe that is pretty common. To be sure, sometimes people enroll in a martial art to release these feelings or learn options in dealing with them, but even then, the process is still grounded in violence, for the most part.

Aikido is not grounded in violence (at least mine isn't.) That is one thing that begins to set it apart from at least a good number of other arts.

The rest probably depends on how one defines Aikido, an "age-old" argument, and beyond the scope of this discussiion, although it is at the heart of it.

OwlMatt
07-24-2010, 04:45 PM
Point of order:
Both Benjamin and Niall brought up the definition of "martial art" here and both said that aikido is not martial in the sense of its techniques being intended for war. The truth of the matter is that aikido's techniques are largely derived from aikijujutsu, whose techniques most certainly were intended for war.

This doesn't really apply directly to the thread, but since others brought it up, I thought I'd point out that aikido is, in the most literal sense, more martial than most modern martial arts.

Gorgeous George
07-24-2010, 05:43 PM
Point of order:
Both Benjamin and Niall brought up the definition of "martial art" here and both said that aikido is not martial in the sense of its techniques being intended for war. The truth of the matter is that aikido's techniques are largely derived from aikijujutsu, whose techniques most certainly were intended for war.

Mitsugi Saotome makes a great point regards this: he says that soy sauce and cola both look the same, but they are different; so you wouldn't use cola to season food, and soy sauce to quench thirst...

niall
07-24-2010, 06:01 PM
Well I was about to say this discussion was about aikido, not aikijujutsu, but Graham's soy sauce comment says it better.

An art that has as its aim harmony and that protects the attacker wouldn't be any use for war really. So the sooner politicians and generals learn the principles of aikido the better. Because humans shouldn't have any use for war either.

It's an interesting concept - aikido as a tool of international diplomacy.

OwlMatt
07-24-2010, 09:18 PM
Forget my bit about aikijujutsu. I was trying to make a semantic point, but it's not really on the topic of the thread.

Kevin Leavitt
07-24-2010, 10:46 PM
Well really if you study the way we are trying to fight the counterinsurgency these days, I see many parallels in the principles I believe in and they are imbedded in the philosophy of Aikido.

It is not easy to do so and not everyone may agree, however, I believe we are finding that in order to obtain peace and stop violence requires something more than technology and bombs.

it requires a holistic approach that runs the spectrum of having the skills and ability to kill and the ability to have compassion and reach out and help people learn to be strong and help themselves.

Sounds like Aikido to me.

Kevin Leavitt
07-24-2010, 10:52 PM
Sorry, probably should have added this.

My point is, that I would consider Aikido a martial art as it explores what I consider to be some of the most important aspects of the spectrum of conflict or violence.

While it may not be so direct in it's approach to dealing with particular fighting strategies or combatives, I do believe that the skills that are learned in aikido to actually be very useful and in most ways probably more widely used than direct tactical application.

niall
07-24-2010, 11:58 PM
Great point Kevin. I agree completely.

Benjamin Green
07-25-2010, 12:07 AM
My experience is different. Perhaps Judo, and in some instances maybe Aikido can be viewed this way, but in everything else I have studied (or am fairly familiar with): various forms of karate, Hapkido, BJJ (not only for sport), knife work etc. - all were specifically training for hard-core self-defense application where the opponant/attacker is disarmed, disabled, or left dead - not to socialize, channel, or re-direct violence, violent tendencies, or tension etc. And I believe that is pretty common. To be sure, sometimes people enroll in a martial art to release these feelings or learn options in dealing with them, but even then, the process is still grounded in violence, for the most part.

Aikido is not grounded in violence (at least mine isn't.) That is one thing that begins to set it apart from at least a good number of other arts.

The rest probably depends on how one defines Aikido, an "age-old" argument, and beyond the scope of this discussiion, although it is at the heart of it.

If you want to define martial arts in terms of what's involved in learning the techniques, stripped of the formalism surrounding that, Aikido doesn't come with a unique ideology: Perhaps especially so in the case of more damaging arts. If someone just gives free reign to their violent tendencies in pairs work or sparring they're going to end up taking the other guy apart and then no-one will want to train with them. Yet if they can't bring out that intent at all then they're going to hesitate. In order to learn how the little old man can take your head off you've got to exercise conscious control over it. You need trust too, because you're going to have to partner with people who if they screw up are going to hurt you. Restraint, trust, control, consideration of others those sound like skills for managing violence to me.

I don't imagine too many people come to martial arts with the intent to learn that sort of thing, I think most people come to martial arts because they're afraid of losing fights and that relatively few of them ever get over that fear; but that they end up learning that sort of thing regardless. Whether they choose to make use of them in their day to day lives on the other hand.... *shrug*

Point of order:
Both Benjamin and Niall brought up the definition of "martial art" here and both said that aikido is not martial in the sense of its techniques being intended for war. The truth of the matter is that aikido's techniques are largely derived from aikijujutsu, whose techniques most certainly were intended for war.

This doesn't really apply directly to the thread, but since others brought it up, I thought I'd point out that aikido is, in the most literal sense, more martial than most modern martial arts.

Assuming that aikijujutsu was intended for use in war: simply asserting a lineage doesn't endow something with the virtues of its forerunners. Vaccines are derived by weakening more destructive pathogens but I don't consider an MMR jab to be useful as a biological weapon.

OwlMatt
07-26-2010, 11:44 AM
Assuming that aikijujutsu was intended for use in war: simply asserting a lineage doesn't endow something with the virtues of its forerunners. Vaccines are derived by weakening more destructive pathogens but I don't consider an MMR jab to be useful as a biological weapon.

I agree with all of this. I was asserting a lineage to show how aikido fits a term, that's all. My point did not extend beyond semantics.

Ketsan
07-26-2010, 12:30 PM
Well I was about to say this discussion was about aikido, not aikijujutsu, but Graham's soy sauce comment says it better.

An art that has as its aim harmony and that protects the attacker wouldn't be any use for war really. So the sooner politicians and generals learn the principles of aikido the better. Because humans shouldn't have any use for war either.

It's an interesting concept - aikido as a tool of international diplomacy.

Aikido really badly fails to protect the attacker. Judo protects the attacker much better; no Judoka has to jump over their own wrist to protect their joints. No Judoka can execute a technique while smashing someone in the face with their elbow. Judo has been refined to remove all the nasty techniques.

Break someones arm or leg in competition and that technique will quickly be banned in competition and practiced less as a result. Judo has evolved under selective pressures that make it very nice on the attacker.

There's nothing like that in Aikido. Two thirds of our techniques are joint breaking techniques by my reckoning.

So has Aikido been shaped by a desire to protect the attacker? No not really. There may have been an intention to do so but it never worked out that way. Again as I've said before, what are we actually doing on the mat? Well we're punching each other in the face followed by jerking one anothers joints with as much as our body and as much power as we can.

That's Aikido. Whatever the intentions of the founder, that's what was passed on. What this thread is really about is "What was Aikido intended to be and is that what we're doing?"

niall
07-26-2010, 08:45 PM
Two thirds of our techniques are joint breaking techniques by my reckoning.

Well we're punching each other in the face followed by jerking one anothers joints with as much as our body and as much power as we can.

Well if you're happy training like that Alex and your dojo trains like that it's cool but that doesn't describe any aikido I've ever seen in Japan. Aikido techniques are not joint-breaking techniques and there are no jerking techniques in aikido. Judo has rules because of shiai. And even allowing for differences in teaching styles and personalities and abilities too most teachers I know more or less try to follow the aims of O Sensei.

Gorgeous George
07-26-2010, 09:45 PM
Aikido really badly fails to protect the attacker. Judo protects the attacker much better; no Judoka has to jump over their own wrist to protect their joints. No Judoka can execute a technique while smashing someone in the face with their elbow. Judo has been refined to remove all the nasty techniques.

Break someones arm or leg in competition and that technique will quickly be banned in competition and practiced less as a result. Judo has evolved under selective pressures that make it very nice on the attacker.

There's nothing like that in Aikido. Two thirds of our techniques are joint breaking techniques by my reckoning.

So has Aikido been shaped by a desire to protect the attacker? No not really. There may have been an intention to do so but it never worked out that way. Again as I've said before, what are we actually doing on the mat? Well we're punching each other in the face followed by jerking one anothers joints with as much as our body and as much power as we can.

That's Aikido. Whatever the intentions of the founder, that's what was passed on. What this thread is really about is "What was Aikido intended to be and is that what we're doing?"

'Protect the attacker' in what sense, though? I mean, breaking the wrist can protect someone from being killed, for instance...

Isn't what you're talking about competitive judo - i.e., a sport/game, rather than a martial art, like aikido?
Correct me if i'm wrong, but aren't judo throws intended to land people on their heads?

If somebody tries to stab you (to death), and you break their wrist, are you not protecting your attacker (from more serious injury, or death?)?

There was a thread here a while ago called 'Deadly Techniques' that might interest you:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17813&highlight=deadly+techniques

I think the conclusion was that O'Sensei removed deliberately deadly techniques from aikido because his conception of budo was that it is a means of protecting society, and not merely of taking life.

The distinction made earlier in the thread between coke and soy sauce is interesting, too: irimi-nage (say) in aiki-jujutsu is a means of destroying another, because aiki-jujutsu is wholly martial in nature (that is, aiki is understood/pursued only insofar as it has direct application to harming others); in aiki-do it is a means of practicing a philosophical outlook - abandoning the individual will in order to align ourselves with the universal will (in one sense, anyway).
If the techniques of aikido were designed purely to cultivate a martial attitude/ability, then they would just be those of aiki-jujutsu - having the sole intention of the destruction of another; however, they are different, and this is because they have a different purpose; hence, the practice of aikido is the practice of a particular philosophy.

A bit of a tangent; my apologies.

Ketsan
07-27-2010, 01:23 PM
Well if you're happy training like that Alex and your dojo trains like that it's cool but that doesn't describe any aikido I've ever seen in Japan. Aikido techniques are not joint-breaking techniques and there are no jerking techniques in aikido. Judo has rules because of shiai. And even allowing for differences in teaching styles and personalities and abilities too most teachers I know more or less try to follow the aims of O Sensei.

The orginal name of rokkyo is "elbow smashing". You do do rokkyo don't you? Do you do ude kime "nage" also? Again lots of pressure on the elbow. Nikyo, sankyo, yonkyo, gokyo, lots of pressure on joints. Kote gaeshi, same thing. Originally these are all joint breaking techniques.

Judo ends up doing by accident what we struggle to do deliberately, that's my point.

Ketsan
07-27-2010, 01:31 PM
'Protect the attacker' in what sense, though? I mean, breaking the wrist can protect someone from being killed, for instance...

No doubt but in how many self defence situations do you really need to break someones wrist or elbow?


Isn't what you're talking about competitive judo - i.e., a sport/game, rather than a martial art, like aikido?
Correct me if i'm wrong, but aren't judo throws intended to land people on their heads?

I've never heard that. My point about Judo is that by being more competative they've ended up with an art which is kinder than the art that refuses to compete because it fosters an uncompassionate spirit. Irony?


If the techniques of aikido were designed purely to cultivate a martial attitude/ability, then they would just be those of aiki-jujutsu - having the sole intention of the destruction of another; however, they are different, and this is because they have a different purpose; hence, the practice of aikido is the practice of a particular philosophy.

A bit of a tangent; my apologies.

Great then someone still has to explain how kote gaeshi, a staple of Jujutsu for 1000+ years suddenly becomes a way of teaching philosophy and why that philosophy which we're informed is at the heart of Aikido practice, is never taught.

Gorgeous George
07-27-2010, 07:59 PM
No doubt but in how many self defence situations do you really need to break someones wrist or elbow?

I've never heard that. My point about Judo is that by being more competative they've ended up with an art which is kinder than the art that refuses to compete because it fosters an uncompassionate spirit. Irony?

Great then someone still has to explain how kote gaeshi, a staple of Jujutsu for 1000+ years suddenly becomes a way of teaching philosophy and why that philosophy which we're informed is at the heart of Aikido practice, is never taught.

'how often...'?

Well, the way I interpret aikido training (the strikes in particular, such as shomen-uchi, and tsuki) is that you are preparing yourself for a worst-case scenario: in training, somebody tsukis, or delivers shomen-uchi, with an empty hand - but the basis of those strikes is the pre-occupation with defence against weapons: knives, broken bottles maybe, etc...

It's the same thing with irimi, multiple opponents, etc. - it's derived from a need to end encounters, in which you are in a really bad position, as soon as possible, with the minimum energy expended. This is also why the pins in aikido are done with the minimum contact, as opposed to using your full body as you would in a one-on-one fight in the UFC or something: so that you can stay mobile and aware of your surroundings/other people.
From what little I know of karate, and it's 'one strike, one kill' ethos, this seems to have developed for a similar need to deal with situations quickly.

But to answer what I think you meant by your question: I think that if you can control someone in order to apply kote-gaeshi, then you can either 'safely' apply it, so that they go down without any injury; or you can safely apply another technique to safely immobilise them.
I mean, I think that whenever I train with a senior grade - particularly fifth dans - they can apply kote-gaeshi so quickly that I haven't caught up yet, and so my wrist is broken; they don't, but they still control me very easily, and I am still subdued.

I guess your response has to be commensurate with the attack - as the law states - i.e., if you break someone's neck for trying to grab your arm and tell you you dropped something, you've over-reacted; if you break someone's arm because they're trying to stab you to death, then that's fine.

Regards judo: my knowledge of it is very limited, so I apologise to anyone who does it if I am mistaken about anything....
My teacher - who did judo for ten years - told me the throws have the aim of landing people on their heads; plus:

http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100104113130AABMN2w

'One of my first instructors had studied Judo. He would always tell us that there were two kinds of judo throws. Those that were for competition, and those designed to drop the opponent/attacker on his head or neck.'

http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=11872

It seems that they've eliminated a lot of techniques in order to be able to have competitions, yes (like you need to know how to breakfall in order to do aikido: there's no point in injuring your partners, because you'll have no-one to trrain with) - but then, they're competing with each other, so I don't know how compassionate that is.
I'm not sure, but I think there's sport judo, and martial art judo...

Is judo really kinder than aikido?:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YOKtMsF5ds

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dzr0Hx8H_Wg

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

I've also seen a clip where a guy was being thrown in the olympics, and because the other guy only wins if he lands on his back or whatever, he put his arm out to try and forestall this; his arm ended up breaking, though, like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6p3FIWKEBI

EDIT: Here's the clip -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NE1JIyAcFIo

In that sense, anyway, judo is a sport, and not a martial art: as I once heard a great aikidoka say: 'In judo there are rules; in aikido - as in real fights - there are not' - or words to that effect.

I was recently talking to someone who used to train in taekwondo: he said he quit because he was sick of hearing parents shouting encouragement to their child while they were having competition: 'Kick him in the head!' etc.

I don't know: i've not got the statistics, but i'm under the impression that injuries in (sport) judo are a lot more common - and serious - than in aikido.

'kote-gaeshi...'

- Well...after you apply kote-gaeshi in aikido, and uke is subdued, you don't practice ending that person's life, do you? I mean, I don't.
So you're not applying it in order to kill another; you aren't killing someone who is no threat to you - who you have pinned.
Like when you move circularly, or apply a joint lock - you are moving naturally, like in yoga; so you're saying that natural movements are to be encouraged, and are superior.
The philosophy of aikido is thus implicit in the practice of it.

My understanding of budo/aikido - as envisioned by O'Sensei - is that it is a means of preserving life - not a means of taking it; it is easy to kill, but it is harder - and more important - to preserve life and care for others.
I'm sure we're all familiar with the horrors which competition has led to...

My apologies for being verbose, and for any errors regarding judo/aikido.

Ketsan
07-28-2010, 06:19 PM
'kote-gaeshi...'

- Well...after you apply kote-gaeshi in aikido, and uke is subdued, you don't practice ending that person's life, do you? I mean, I don't.
So you're not applying it in order to kill another; you aren't killing someone who is no threat to you - who you have pinned.



This isn't exactly profound philosophy is it? It's based on one situation most people have never been in and will never be in. In fact I doubt you need to even do martial arts to realise that hurting someone you have subdued isn't exactly moral.

OwlMatt
07-29-2010, 09:32 AM
This isn't exactly profound philosophy is it? It's based on one situation most people have never been in and will never be in. In fact I doubt you need to even do martial arts to realise that hurting someone you have subdued isn't exactly moral.

You'd be surprised how many martial artists (even young ones) are taught to apply "finishing" strikes to downed opponents, despite the fact that this would be entirely illegal outside the dojo, even in self-defense.

That said, I don't think that aikido's morality is unique. Aikido's morality is certainly more obviously manifest in technique than that of most other martial arts, but that's not enough, in my opinion, to justify the assertion that is the topic of the thread.

Benjamin Green
07-29-2010, 12:11 PM
Well, the way I interpret aikido training (the strikes in particular, such as shomen-uchi, and tsuki) is that you are preparing yourself for a worst-case scenario: in training, somebody tsukis, or delivers shomen-uchi, with an empty hand - but the basis of those strikes is the pre-occupation with defence against weapons: knives, broken bottles maybe, etc...

While how people attack is obviously shaped by their training, if any, and what they intend to achieve in the attack - whether they're there to kill you, cut you up a bit, steal from you, scare you, whatever: The body mechanics for edged weapons tend to be very different to the sort of strikes found in aikido. Mainly because you don't need to stick a lot of force behind a knife so you don't need to ground as much. Knives let's you play the room more easily.

If you want an interesting exercise get a couple of long-sleeve shirts you don't care about and a big red marker (one that sticks a decent distance out of your fist) and go at it with some mates. No formalism, no set strikes or defences, no stop start signal.

There are some obvious dissimilarities: It's just a simulation of one context of knife use, more similar to duelling than anything else. It highlights none of the edge control issues that a knife has. It does reproduce many of the issues of distancing, timing, angle and footwork that are the main concern of messing around with sharp pointy things though. So it's still worth a gander. :)

mathewjgano
07-29-2010, 09:20 PM
Judo ends up doing by accident what we struggle to do deliberately, that's my point.
I don't think it's so simple as this. My view is that careful/dangerous is as careful/dangerous does, regardless of the art. I've never really struggled to not-harm my partners.

Gorgeous George
07-29-2010, 09:49 PM
You'd be surprised how many martial artists (even young ones) are taught to apply "finishing" strikes to downed opponents, despite the fact that this would be entirely illegal outside the dojo, even in self-defense.

Yes, I quite agree. I've practiced with people from (I guess) karate backgrounds, and in shiho-nage, when i'm restrained, they have applied a 'finishing' punch to my face (although, I was recently watching some clips of an aikido style where they did this, come to mention it...), and when they've got me turned around, so I have my back to them, they have kicked me in the back of my knee: totally uncalled for, and unnecessary.

You could justify beating someone you have at your mercy by, for instance, saying that they attacked you, and revenge/punishment is the correct response.
In aikido, you are obviously explicitly displaying a much more forgiving attitude than this.

I think the relevance of this has to be considered in the long background of martial arts in Japan, and maybe the switch of ethos (in the 17th century...?) from the death-dealing sword, to the life-giving sword: the crude view of the martial arts is that they are a means to cause death and destruction - to destroy; but the warrior - samurai, budoka, what have you - uses martial arts as a means of creating/protecting society.
That's my understanding of it, anyway.

There's also the fact that In Japan, in feudal times, the samurai could legally cut a peasant's head off if they didn't bow to him (not 100% on this...), and that all crimes had one punishment: death. Then there's what the Japanese did during World War II...so it's obvious that what is regarded moral is an entirely subjective matter, and not a cut-and-dry case at all.

Ketsan
07-31-2010, 09:59 AM
I don't think it's so simple as this. My view is that careful/dangerous is as careful/dangerous does, regardless of the art. I've never really struggled to not-harm my partners.

I've never had to pause mid throw in Judo to allow the other guy to take ukemi. In fact in Judo I've never really had to worry about the other guys ukemi, if I'm throwing him correctly there isn't much he can do so there's nothing to worry about. If the guy is half way though uchi mata he can't exactly say "Hang on, stop, lets do this more slowly; I'm unsure of the ukemi." It's a nonsensical thing to say in a judo context, which bit of "tuck head in, try to breathe out" does he not get?

In Aikido though I'm always having to adjust my technique to the abilities of my uke. I can go as hard and as fast as I like with people my level and above but I can't do that with people who are junior to me because I end up hurting them.

Ketsan
07-31-2010, 10:19 AM
Yes, I quite agree. I've practiced with people from (I guess) karate backgrounds, and in shiho-nage, when i'm restrained, they have applied a 'finishing' punch to my face (although, I was recently watching some clips of an aikido style where they did this, come to mention it...), and when they've got me turned around, so I have my back to them, they have kicked me in the back of my knee: totally uncalled for, and unnecessary.



Aikido assumes multiple attackers; throwing a guy just to let him back up makes no sense. The guy is still a threat, the threat needs to be taken care of.

That said if you do a technique with power on someone that doesn't know the ukemi a finishing strike shouldn't be needed.

mathewjgano
07-31-2010, 02:26 PM
I've never had to pause mid throw in Judo to allow the other guy to take ukemi. In fact in Judo I've never really had to worry about the other guys ukemi, if I'm throwing him correctly there isn't much he can do so there's nothing to worry about. If the guy is half way though uchi mata he can't exactly say "Hang on, stop, lets do this more slowly; I'm unsure of the ukemi." It's a nonsensical thing to say in a judo context, which bit of "tuck head in, try to breathe out" does he not get?

In Aikido though I'm always having to adjust my technique to the abilities of my uke. I can go as hard and as fast as I like with people my level and above but I can't do that with people who are junior to me because I end up hurting them.

I think I see where you're coming from, but have you never had to practice Judo technique slowly? I practiced with a Judo guy one time and he nearly tore my arm out of its socket. At the time I felt that if I had been much of a stiff-bodied person I could have easily been hurt. I've never practiced judo though, so I definately cannot compare the two very well.
My very brief experiences in the Shodokan style reminded me somewhat of a bit of the Judo I've seen online, so I tend to infer a little from that. The waza that utilized relatively less joint manipulation seemed to fit what you describe about Judo. The ukemi seemed to be more straight down to the ground which didn't give uke much time to stop and think...which also seemed to make ukemi just sort of happen as a result.
This relates to my more ki-oriented experiences where my sense was that often I needed to keep a very positive pressure on uke to make the ukemi more obvious. I remember backing off a bit with newer students, but not in a way that allowed them to really adjust a whole lot. For many there was that moment where you could feel them trying to disengage "to take ukemi," and if I allowed them to do that they didn't seem to get better at it. The movement became disjointed and neither of us got the most out of it...again, as I perceived it. So I began to get the sense that I could move slowly to allow uke to feel more of what was going on, but with enough pressure that I still had enough control of their center/body, forcing their ukemi to just happen.
Of course I was never particularly good, so I couldn't always keep the movements smooth enough, but that's where I kind of left off in my approach to "teaching" ukemi to newer students who didn't already feel comfortable being thrown/pinned.

As it relates to "finishing moves," I've the sense that it's just another exercise in continuing the movement. In shiho nage for example I've often done a shomenuchi after uke is pinned, but my feeling was that it wasn't necessarily a strike since it could also be a good transition for switching hands, or extending the elbow back a bit more for stronger uke. Also, in multiple attackers, sometimes you might have to hit a guy while he's down to keep him down longer to afford more time to deal with other people.
I imagine it's also a great way to get the attacker's attention. You don't necessarily have to actually hit them to draw their mind to the atemi-like finishing move.
...Some rambling thoughts about that, anyway.
Take care!

Gorgeous George
07-31-2010, 10:07 PM
Aikido assumes multiple attackers; throwing a guy just to let him back up makes no sense. The guy is still a threat, the threat needs to be taken care of.

That said if you do a technique with power on someone that doesn't know the ukemi a finishing strike shouldn't be needed.

Exactly: you would make the technique count, if you had to. In comparison with a throw, a punch to the face isn't much, and with other attackers...

Gorgeous George
07-31-2010, 10:09 PM
I've never had to pause mid throw in Judo to allow the other guy to take ukemi. In fact in Judo I've never really had to worry about the other guys ukemi, if I'm throwing him correctly there isn't much he can do so there's nothing to worry about. If the guy is half way though uchi mata he can't exactly say "Hang on, stop, lets do this more slowly; I'm unsure of the ukemi." It's a nonsensical thing to say in a judo context, which bit of "tuck head in, try to breathe out" does he not get?

In Aikido though I'm always having to adjust my technique to the abilities of my uke. I can go as hard and as fast as I like with people my level and above but I can't do that with people who are junior to me because I end up hurting them.

...but then you get this, surely?:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NE1JIyAcFIo

Kevin Leavitt
08-01-2010, 04:29 PM
"Finishing" strikes, IMO, are not necessarily illegal. It depends on the situation. I believe they could be justified say after you take him down, especially in a multiple opponent situation where it is vital and necessary to ensure that he stays down while you move to the next guy.

Using words like "assumes", "shouldn't" are words that should not really be in a martial artist vocabulary. You should not assume that a throw or takedown will disable, kill, or imoblize your opponent, and it just might be necessary to do something else.

Why limit yourself and your training based on what you envision as the ethical or ideal outcome you desire? Why not practice the full spectrum so you understand the implications, pitfalls, trigger points..etc that may come into play in reality?

We can talk theoretically all day about what we'd like to aspire to and how we'd like to resolve a situation with as high as skill as possible...and I am not saying we should settle for less in our practice or default in all cases to a finishing blow/technique as the optimal/efficient solution...that is definitely a "Low Skill" practice when we look at what we are trying to practice in Aikido. I agree!

But, lets not rule it out either because we have an ethical issue or feel that it is illegal ALWAYS. That mode of thinking can get you hurt or killed.

Just saying...that we need to consider everything in our practice and how things might play out if we are really concerned about such things in reality.

Janet Rosen
08-01-2010, 04:49 PM
Just saying...that we need to consider everything in our practice and how things might play out if we are really concerned about such things in reality.

yep.. because when you fight reality .... you lose every time.

Kevin Leavitt
08-01-2010, 07:30 PM
lol...very good point Janet. That is awesome! didn't catch that!

niall
08-01-2010, 08:34 PM
A few days ago I met an Indian guy who was doing some stretching exercises. I asked was it yoga and he said no, just breathing exercises. He told me real yoga had a spiritual dimension and that the real meaning of yoga was UNITY WITH REALITY. Wow - cool definition! Sounds like aikido to me...

Kevin Leavitt
08-02-2010, 10:54 AM
Yoga has many layers to it. Hatha yoga is what most people think as yoga. Prana yoga deals with breathing. I forget what the spiritual part is called. It can become very holistic if practiced completely.

C. David Henderson
08-02-2010, 02:36 PM
"8 Limbs:"

http://yoga.about.com/od/theyogasutras/p/eightlimbs.htm

Ketsan
08-03-2010, 11:35 AM
...but then you get this, surely?:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NE1JIyAcFIo

Irony is he wouldn't have broken his arm if he hadn't tried to take ukemi, if he'd have done precisely nothing he would have been fine no matter how hard he was slammed into the mat. Kinda proves my point really.

Ketsan
08-03-2010, 11:43 AM
Exactly: you would make the technique count, if you had to. In comparison with a throw, a punch to the face isn't much, and with other attackers...

Again here's this compassionate art where if you slightly change the technique you end up ripping someones arm out or breaking their elbow and you were complaining about a punch to the face or a kick in the back of the knee being unacceptable?

David Board
08-03-2010, 11:53 AM
Yoga has many layers to it. Hatha yoga is what most people think as yoga. Prana yoga deals with breathing. I forget what the spiritual part is called. It can become very holistic if practiced completely.

The Bhagavad Gita is a warriors tale, discourse on a battlefield.

Gorgeous George
08-04-2010, 07:12 PM
Again here's this compassionate art where if you slightly change the technique you end up ripping someones arm out or breaking their elbow and you were complaining about a punch to the face or a kick in the back of the knee being unacceptable?

As I previously said: your technique has to be commensurate with the situation; killing a man for grabbing your shoulder to tell you you've dropped something is not.
If you choose to break somebody's wrist instead of killing them (when they were trying to kill you), then you are showing them compassion - not to mention the fact that the essence of aikido is to yield to this person.

The purpose of budo in O'Sensei's thought, to the best of my knowledge at least, is to protect people - not to hurt or kill needlessly, or for its own sake: you take up a martial art to help people/society, not to harm people.

Ketsan
08-04-2010, 07:40 PM
As I previously said: your technique has to be commensurate with the situation; killing a man for grabbing your shoulder to tell you you've dropped something is not.
If you choose to break somebody's wrist instead of killing them (when they were trying to kill you), then you are showing them compassion - not to mention the fact that the essence of aikido is to yield to this person.

The purpose of budo in O'Sensei's thought, to the best of my knowledge at least, is to protect people - not to hurt or kill needlessly, or for its own sake: you take up a martial art to help people/society, not to harm people.

And again Judo fits that much better than Aikido does. In Judo the goal is to improve yourself to better society as a whole and the techniques are such that you can defend yourself without the need for any fancy ukemi on your attackers part.

Judo fits Aikido's mission statement better.

jonreading
08-05-2010, 12:19 PM
As I previously said: your technique has to be commensurate with the situation; killing a man for grabbing your shoulder to tell you you've dropped something is not.
If you choose to break somebody's wrist instead of killing them (when they were trying to kill you), then you are showing them compassion - not to mention the fact that the essence of aikido is to yield to this person.

The purpose of budo in O'Sensei's thought, to the best of my knowledge at least, is to protect people - not to hurt or kill needlessly, or for its own sake: you take up a martial art to help people/society, not to harm people.

And again Judo fits that much better than Aikido does. In Judo the goal is to improve yourself to better society as a whole and the techniques are such that you can defend yourself without the need for any fancy ukemi on your attackers part.

Judo fits Aikido's mission statement better.

I believe there is a strong similarity between the [stated] mission of Judo, and the [verbal] goals of aikido, as espoused by leading aikido people such as O'Sensei. We see this not only in writings, but also through the strong relationship between early judo and aikido. There are several paths to the mountain top and I think while aikido and judo are similar in their journey, there still remains enough to differentiate each as a unique martial art.

Second, I think that these similarities allow judo a unique perspective to comment on some aspects of aikido inconsistent with its philosophy. It is sometimes unpleasant to hear about fallibility in our martial art but that gives us the opportunity to address those issues. Other [Japanese] martial arts share components with aikido as well and each have perspective on those components.

I think aikido is a fighting art, compassionately administered. We should not shrink the principles of aikido to meet the dojo environment in which we train today. I recognize that we have modified our techniques and training to maximize safety, minimize injury, and expand the art. However, we need to also recognize the principles of aikido are larger than what we see in the dojo today. I Aikido has an image problem because we are constricting the message of aikido to how we train on the mat because we are unwilling to pursue the art on a greater level (or unknowledgeable about where to pursue more knowledge).

Ketsan
08-05-2010, 06:40 PM
The Bhagavad Gita is a warriors tale, discourse on a battlefield.

Just bought that, really enjoying it!