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Rabih Shanshiry
10-28-2010, 09:21 AM
shot to hell in a hand-bucket.

Never heard that variant of the expression but I like it. I think I'll trade my basket for your bucket. Sounds more manly. :D

Marc Abrams
10-28-2010, 09:36 AM
Never heard that variant of the expression but I like it. I think I'll trade my basket for your bucket. Sounds more manly. :D

Rabih:

Don't you realize that by trading your basket for my manly bucket, you have insulted someone, somewhere in this world! Have you no cultural sensitivity! Why must you be so intolerant and inflexible! :eek:

Marc Abrams

Demetrio Cereijo
10-28-2010, 09:42 AM
Funny, I have seen Strict Orthodox Jews bow to a Japanese person in the context of doing business. I guess that this Jew was a bad Jew.....


Cheap (no pun intended) jokes about Jews and bussines are allowed here?
:D

Flintstone
10-28-2010, 11:59 AM
Let me be clear on this, once again, Marc. Your dojo, your rules. Plain and simple. Will never argue that. What we are discussing is the wisdom behind some rules.

That "budo for the world" thinggy, is not mine, but O Sensei's. Feel free to argue with him. And that's not necessarily my thinking. Too.

Best.

RED
10-28-2010, 11:08 PM
Lets go to the training:) but in another thread

Sorry I got to replying to this a day too late... I was training :D

RED
10-28-2010, 11:11 PM
Well, see, you've just defined the terms of the argument and thus constrained the only possible answer to being the one you want. If training is indeed "the most important part" for someone, by definition, bowing or not bowing is a secondary consideration. But for someone who is considering training, who does not currently train, it is probably not "the most important part". If religion doesn't make sense to you, think about family obligations: someone wants to train but is responsible for the care of two young children. It would be a bit odd to expect training to be "the most important part" for this person, certainly not as they're just approaching aikido for the first time. Very few people have the luxury of setting all other considerations, obligations and principles aside in order to train; by far the majority of us who do train, still are accountable to these other considerations. Restrictions caused by matters of principle are surely as real as those caused by practical life obligations, don't you think?

Religions does make sense to me. Served as a missionary for years. Putting off having children so my body is in condition. My mother understands why I don't call a lot. <3

It isn't a luxury, it is a sacrifice. I'm accountable for other obligations, Aikido complicates other engagements, it's just worth the complications. Sort of like dating some one your mom hates. :D
Like anything, you can't get something for nothing. You will grieve the sacrifice of friends, or family, or free time, or job offers...but it has to be worth the sacrifice to you. It has to be worth grieving that sacrifice too, which is often harder than the initial sacrifice.

I will admit it however, I'm approaching the situation from a different mind-set. And if one think in your life is more important than Aikido, to the point it makes Aikido unpractical, then you must sacrifice Aikido and grieve that loss.

Personally, I never cared if some one bowed or not..so long as they were respectful, and a light-uke.

heathererandolph
10-28-2010, 11:12 PM
If I were running a dojo (which I never expect to do) I would probably not insist on the bow, but I also respect the decisions of dojo chos to do so in their dojos.

To me personally, refusing to train w/ another member of the dojo on gender or any basis other than personal safety concerns is outside the pale, because it directly effects the other dojo members. But the bow need not do so. YMMV.

I sort of agree with that statement, but in practice how to do it? There is a lot of bowing in Aikido. You could remove it from the class altogether, but what if this person doesn't stay in the dojo for long? Put it back in again? If he were to just not bow at all and all the other students were bowing, that would seem odd and well, give the impression of disrespect. If he were to step off the mat when everyone else bowed that wouldn't be good either. If other higher ranking black belts were to visit the school, and he didn't bow to them...:confused:

guest1234567
10-29-2010, 02:18 AM
I would post a reply to Maggie, but since Jun will ban me again for that, I won't address her comments. Carina, you don't want to understand that for 2.000.000.000 people in the world (a rough estimation) bowing in not acceptable. At all. And you are banning them to train in Aikido because "bowing equals Aikido equals bowing". For some this is a molehill. For said two thousand million people, it's a big, huge mountain.

But of course, your traditions show no respect for half the people in the world. And your traditions also equals Aikido equals your traditions.

I've being training with the Aikikai delegate in Indonesia for some time. Never bowed while in there. He was appointed by Kisshomaru Doshu. Guess both Doshu and Delegate were wrong. And all his students. And you (and some people I cannot mention under Jun's rule) are right. End of the story.

I repeat this here although it was answered already and think as most of us this thread is getting long and also hope like Alejandro always says Jun will not ban me for that,

http://i288.photobucket.com/albums/ll184/carinarei/bowing_griffith.gif

Randall Lim
11-04-2010, 07:56 AM
Dear all,

I have a query that I'd be happy to hear your thoughts on. Recently I've had a lovely student come to the dojo to practice; very enthusiastic and keen, sincere and good natured. He is a Muslim and will not, because of his precepts and faith, bow to the ground either at the Kamiza or to another when we greet in the Japanese way(In our dojo when in seiza we bow all the way down to the mat to another when we finish the session as a thank you). He will nod a small bow in respect to another.
We have had great open talks about religion and spirituality and we really understand each other to a great part.

Would you allow his freedom to follow his creed and forgo the standard dojo bow and just get on with training or not? For me it's not just that simple. We speak about it and find that we discover more things as we look at the issue. Very interesting and not a quick solution. Of course I could easily overlook this one incident and just get on with training (which I might do) and not bother about his rules of conduct. But how far do we open up the Japanese tradition to allow a varied standard?
I have 30 students and as many as 15 nationalities and all faith groups. We have a great relationship and it's a wonderful dojo.
Now I like this guy, but since I like to view my Aikido to be part of a spiritual discipline (not that I impose it on students but if they are interested I will speak my mind) I like to speak with him about the dynamics of being a guest and conforming to the standard of the host. A self surrender to another way of being if you like. Most people find no trouble in doing this but because of certain rules of conduct we find ourselves in these situations.

But what has been the most joyful thing coming out of this query is our talks that leads deep into the reasons and meaning of religious and spiritual understanding.

There are also the more sterner applications of faith rules as not allowing men to train with women etc. How do we deal with that? Open a men's only class? A Muslim class? A Christian class?

What do you think?

In my opinion, bowing just half-way is fine. Or if this is still not acceptable, then a warm hand-shake will do. What really matters is the heart, mind & attitude of the practitioner.

As for the emphasis of the Spiritual aspect, the practitioner must first be willing to believe in the concept of Ki, or it can never be cultivated. Then his Aikido training will merely be physical joint-locks & tumblings.

Sharing of the spiritual aspect should continue, but not forced upon the practitioner. The practitioner should be allowed to choose or filter out what he wishes to believe. It is his choice how much he wishes to get out of his Aikido training. But always make him feel welcome in your dojo.

Aikido is about love too.

graham christian
11-13-2010, 10:56 PM
Dear all,

I have a query that I'd be happy to hear your thoughts on. Recently I've had a lovely student come to the dojo to practice; very enthusiastic and keen, sincere and good natured. He is a Muslim and will not, because of his precepts and faith, bow to the ground either at the Kamiza or to another when we greet in the Japanese way(In our dojo when in seiza we bow all the way down to the mat to another when we finish the session as a thank you). He will nod a small bow in respect to another.
We have had great open talks about religion and spirituality and we really understand each other to a great part.

Would you allow his freedom to follow his creed and forgo the standard dojo bow and just get on with training or not? For me it's not just that simple. We speak about it and find that we discover more things as we look at the issue. Very interesting and not a quick solution. Of course I could easily overlook this one incident and just get on with training (which I might do) and not bother about his rules of conduct. But how far do we open up the Japanese tradition to allow a varied standard?
I have 30 students and as many as 15 nationalities and all faith groups. We have a great relationship and it's a wonderful dojo.
Now I like this guy, but since I like to view my Aikido to be part of a spiritual discipline (not that I impose it on students but if they are interested I will speak my mind) I like to speak with him about the dynamics of being a guest and conforming to the standard of the host. A self surrender to another way of being if you like. Most people find no trouble in doing this but because of certain rules of conduct we find ourselves in these situations.

But what has been the most joyful thing coming out of this query is our talks that leads deep into the reasons and meaning of religious and spiritual understanding.

There are also the more sterner applications of faith rules as not allowing men to train with women etc. How do we deal with that? Open a men's only class? A Muslim class? A Christian class?

What do you think?

Hi Bjorn. It seems we are neighbours. In response to the above may I offer you my opinion.

It is your space and if you like, your house, your universe. You therefore are responsible for the rules of entry and participation and behaviour.

If you visited anothers house and their rules were that all visitors must take off their shoes then is that not what you would do or else you would not visit them at their house. If you visited a mosque or a temple or a church or even a school classroom then you would act according to their rules for that visit as a matter of respect wouldn't you?

So I'm not saying here that you should ban the person I am merely breking it down into a simplicity of two parts:

1) That it is all a matter of respect.

2) That it is your responsibility to KNOW and adhere to the rules you personally put there. So if you decide that bowing to the ground is part of your way then all who want to learn from you should respect that or leave. On the other hand if you decide that all should bow to the ground unless their own religious beliefs prevent them from so doing then take responsibility for that as a rule of operation and then there is no problem.

Personally, by your brief description of the guy, he seems like a very respectful and honourable person and one you also respect so it would seem wise to me to do the latter and then all may know your new rule of conduct and all is back in harmony.

Quality is far superior to quantity. G.

Flintstone
11-14-2010, 05:36 AM
Graham, I thought we already settled that "your house, your rules" thing. What's being discussed here is the wisdom in some of said rules.

Otherwise, agreed.

graham christian
11-14-2010, 01:20 PM
Graham, I thought we already settled that "your house, your rules" thing. What's being discussed here is the wisdom in some of said rules.

Otherwise, agreed.

Hi Alejandro, well said. I hadn't followed through the thread and was just giving an answer to the original one and the situation it had caused.

However, on seeing that the various rules are being discussed as to their relevance I would still say it is just a matter of respect no matter what rules are there, in other words it is not a matter of if it's right or wrong.

I remember when a student of mine took me to visit another dojo, telling me there was a master there and for whatever reason thought I should go. I duly obliged and went to this dojo in burnt oak.

As we entered the building there in front of us was a hall with the doors wide open and with a training session in full flow. Not knowing the etiquette of the situation my student entered and proceeded to sit down quietly on one of the seats along the side of the dojo. The session carried on and all was well so he came back out and asked me why I hadn't come in. I told him to follow what I do and not to say a word.

I knelt down, seiza, and told him to do the same and just to observe from where we were at the entrance. Immediately he did so the Sensei looked over, we acknowledged each other and he immediately sent over a student who asked if we would like to come in. The sensei was Kanetsuka Sensei.

After class Kanetsuka and I had a good humoured chat and discussion and then we left. My student was confused and asked me if he was an old friend of mine and if it was me who was playing a joke on him. I told him no, I had never met Kanetsuka before but it was time that he learned the true meaning of respect.

You see for me, if I trained in another dojo and found for example that the students were all taught to throw themselves when different techniques were applied then I would follow suit even though I know better for I am not there to make anybody wrong or to prove myself, I am there with respect for the way they do their Aikido and if I come away having learned nothing then in truth I have learned something.

On the other hand if the sensei asked me to help in some way with something then and only then would it be respectful to do so.

So if the rule is you pick your nose and you want to learn from that Sensei then out of respect you do so for you always have a choice.

Anyway, thats my humble opinion.

Keep living it. G.

Flintstone
11-15-2010, 02:08 AM
So anything goes. Interesting.

makuchg
03-28-2011, 07:42 AM
1) That it is all a matter of respect.

That's the hard part, it is not about respect in this case, it is about faith. These are very different things. The rules of entry for Aikido once make it nearly impossible for Westerns to practice. Eventually O'Sensei saw this was wrong since Aikido is for all mankind, not just Japanese. How are we keeping to his ideas if we knowingly mandate requirements that force students to leave? Is the spirit of Aikido lost if one doesn't bow?

Josh Reyer
03-28-2011, 07:29 PM
That's the hard part, it is not about respect in this case, it is about faith. These are very different things. The rules of entry for Aikido once make it nearly impossible for Westerns to practice. Eventually O'Sensei saw this was wrong since Aikido is for all mankind, not just Japanese. How are we keeping to his ideas if we knowingly mandate requirements that force students to leave? Is the spirit of Aikido lost if one doesn't bow?
If one cannot make the simple adjustment to Japanese culture of bowing in a secular context of etiquette, how can one expect to really get the "spirit of Aikido"? A spirit born of Confucian, Buddhist, and Shinto beliefs?

lbb
03-28-2011, 09:42 PM
If one cannot make the simple adjustment to Japanese culture of bowing in a secular context of etiquette, how can one expect to really get the "spirit of Aikido"? A spirit born of Confucian, Buddhist, and Shinto beliefs?

Outside of Japan, though, I'll bet you that many senseis don't have a very good understanding of Japanese culture -- so it seems a bit hypocritical to demand that people do this and that in the name of a culture you don't yourself understand.

Fred Little
03-28-2011, 10:25 PM
Outside of Japan, though, I'll bet you that many senseis don't have a very good understanding of Japanese culture -- so it seems a bit hypocritical to demand that people do this and that in the name of a culture you don't yourself understand.

And yet, if the aim is embodied understanding, the only way to achieve such is to engage in the physical process by which the understanding is embodied, without regard to the fullness (or lack of fullness) of one's current embodiment of the understanding.

This remains the case, even if one accepts the high order probability that Sturgeon's Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturgeon's_Law) always applies, unless of course one is in Lake Woebegone.

Best,

FL

Flintstone
03-29-2011, 04:02 AM
If one cannot make the simple adjustment to Japanese culture of bowing in a secular context of etiquette, how can one expect to really get the "spirit of Aikido"? A spirit born of Confucian, Buddhist, and Shinto beliefs?
Maybe it's a "simple adjustment" for you. Surely not for others. Maybe it's a "secular context" for you. Surely not for others. Is it that hard to understand that not everybody lives by your standards?

And... what is exactly "the spirit of Aikido"? Did you really "got it"? Obviously not, in my opinion. Maybe yes in yours.

This is the kind of intolerance that Jun allows in the forum. Oh, because the wording is low tone. Is this the "spirit of Aikido" too? I call BS.

Carsten Möllering
03-29-2011, 05:49 AM
Outside of Japan, though, I'll bet you that many senseis don't have a very good understanding of Japanese culture ...
So this makes clear how important it is to have a teacher who is connected to Japanese culture in some way.
Be it by visiting Japan (hombu or the dojo of a teacher who is important to him) or studying with a Japanese shihan or teacher or ... . There are a lot of possibilities.

And yet, if the aim is embodied understanding, the only way to achieve such is to engage in the physical process by which the understanding is embodied, ...Yes. To me this seems to be the concept of learning by repeating kata over and over.
And this is also true for reishiki wich can also only be learned by doing kata.

Flintstone
03-29-2011, 06:51 AM
Japonisme vs. Aikido...

Carsten Möllering
03-29-2011, 07:59 AM
I think, aikido (as I know and learn it) is a form of japonisme
and can't be separated.

(Btw.: It took me two years until I started practicing aikido. Because I refused to bow to something or someone else except god. And because I thougth the Holy Ghost to be the only "life-energy" and didn't want to deal with something named "ki".)

Fred Little
03-29-2011, 08:43 AM
Japonisme vs. Aikido...

If what we have here is one of the most critically transformative movements in late 19th and early 20th Century Western Art vs. a 20th Century martial way dressed in a patchwork Wafu of Esperanto, Theosophy,New Age Universalism, Food Faddism, and a liberal dose of Japanese nativist theology, I'm betting on the former.

FL

Flintstone
03-29-2011, 09:01 AM
I think, aikido (as I know and learn it) is a form of japonisme
and can't be separated.
You stated it quite clearly: "I think...". And that's your opinion and not a fact.

(Btw.: It took me two years until I started practicing aikido. Because I refused to bow to something or someone else except god. And because I thougth the Holy Ghost to be the only "life-energy" and didn't want to deal with something named "ki".)
Quite sad, in my understanding. So you were not doing Aikido until you bowed to a picture and because you did not believe in qi/chi/ki... Well, these are the latest news: ki is all about physics and not at all about holy ghosts... and a picture is a picture is a picture. I believe I can do Aikido without saluting to a canvas and without thinking of ki as "the force".

But you believe I'm not doing Aikido. And that's exclusive and certainly not what (I believe) O Sensei was "preaching".

But it's all fine while your tone is low.

lbb
03-29-2011, 10:05 AM
Lather, rinse, repeat...

Carsten Möllering
03-29-2011, 10:17 AM
And that's your opinion and not a fact.
Sure: This is just the way I myself practice. And for me it is kind of natural because there are a lot of connections with japan through my teacher who lived there for a while and whose wife is japanese. Also through Christian Tissier and Endo sensei.
And in our federation
My teacher also is shibu cho of TSKSR in Germany, which is also very japanese.

This ist the aikido-world, I live in and which shapes the character of my understanding and feeling of aikido. And so this is the way aikido reveals itself to me.
We even don't have german graduations. We are graded directly by the hombu.

On the other side there are bad experiences of two german federations which have lost the connection with Japan long time ago. This "german aikido" has lost it's character completely, I think.

Quite sad, in my understanding. So you were not doing Aikido until you bowed to a picture ...I didn't start practice until I had at least a little idea of what I am doing when bowing to living people, rooms, kamidana, etc. .
Same with meditating, sitting in seiza.
I'm a lutheran pastor and it was important for me not to mix up the practice of shinto with my christian beliefs.

... and because you did not believe in qi/chi/ki... Well, these are the latest news: ki is all about physics and not at all about holy ghosts... grin: Yes. But this is what you and me think.
For my teacher - who is teacher of christian beliefs at school - it is identic. For the aikidoka who do aikido shinik rengo it is identic. Ueshiba Morihei thought it to be identic. ...
It's not that simpel. ;-)

... and a picture is a picture is a picture.
Bowing to the kamidana is much more then just nodding in front of a picture. (... or calligraphie or flowers or ....)
And when you train with people who practice shinto it becomes even more complicated.

But you believe I'm not doing Aikido.
Excuse me?
When or how did I say that you are not doing aikido?
(This is something I sometimes here myself. When stating that I just practice waza and nothing else ... And at least for this reason I would never judge anyone elses practice.)

I don't think I am able (or want) to judge anyone or anyones practice. This is not my job and not my authority.
You may have got a teacher. He is (in my eyes) the only one who might judge your aikido. (If you let him do so.)

And that's exclusive and certainly not what (I believe) O Sensei was "preaching".This I think is more difficult:
I think it was Kisshomaru, who openend up aikido.
O Sensei was kind of forced, to show aikido to the public and I think there where "two hearst beating in his one breast". (German proverb I can't translate: He wanted aikido to be for everyone, but at the same time wanted to aikido to be japanese. I think if there only had been Ueshiba Morihei we both wouldn't even know aikido. But that's just my thoughts.)

Janet Rosen
03-29-2011, 10:18 AM
Joshua Reyer wrote: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?p=280143#post280143)
If one cannot make the simple adjustment to Japanese culture of bowing in a secular context of etiquette, how can one expect to really get the "spirit of Aikido"? A spirit born of Confucian, Buddhist, and Shinto beliefs?

Maybe it's a "simple adjustment" for you. Surely not for others. Maybe it's a "secular context" for you. Surely not for others. Is it that hard to understand that not everybody lives by your standards?

And... what is exactly "the spirit of Aikido"? Did you really "got it"? Obviously not, in my opinion. Maybe yes in yours.

This is the kind of intolerance that Jun allows in the forum. Oh, because the wording is low tone. Is this the "spirit of Aikido" too? I call BS.

Alejandro, do you truly find there to be no difference between expressing an opinion about aikido or training or humanity, however distasteful an opinion you or I think it may be, and continually putting down and belittling or attacking individual people in such a way that is stifles the expression of opinion? Because I see a huge difference between the two.

Chris Li
03-29-2011, 10:22 AM
Joshua Reyer wrote: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?p=280143#post280143)
If one cannot make the simple adjustment to Japanese culture of bowing in a secular context of etiquette, how can one expect to really get the "spirit of Aikido"? A spirit born of Confucian, Buddhist, and Shinto beliefs?

Alejandro, do you truly find there to be no difference between expressing an opinion about aikido or training or humanity, however distasteful an opinion you or I think it may be, and continually putting down and belittling or attacking individual people in such a way that is stifles the expression of opinion? Because I see a huge difference between the two.

Well, he's a little rough, but he makes a valid point. That is, the "simple adjustment" is not so simple for many people of faith. I think that's hard to understand for many people.

Best,

Chris

makuchg
03-29-2011, 10:44 AM
Alejandro, your opinions reflect a very open and accepting human being and your comments are spot-on.

For those who believe in the "my house, my rules," here are a few quotes from O'Sensei:

“As soon as you concern yourself with the 'good' and 'bad' of your fellows, you create an opening in your heart for maliciousness to enter. Testing, competing with, and criticizing others weaken and defeat you.”

“The art of Peace I practice has room for each of the world's eight million gods, and I cooperate with them all. The God of Peace is very great and enjoins all that is divine and enlightened in every land.”

For me the key word is "cooperate," not mandate.

makuchg
03-29-2011, 10:54 AM
Sorry, just one more quote:

"The Art of Peace is the religion that is not a religion; it perfects and completes all religions."

How can Aikido perfect religions if the "rules" alienate the practitioners and instead of completing the religion, it conflicts with it?

Demetrio Cereijo
03-29-2011, 11:01 AM
Sorry, just one more quote:

"The Art of Peace is the religion that is not a religion; it perfects and completes all religions."


So Aikido is what, for instance, Roman Catholicism lacks to be a perfect and complete religion?

I'm paging Torquemada.

Josh Reyer
03-29-2011, 11:11 AM
Maybe it's a "simple adjustment" for you. Surely not for others. Maybe it's a "secular context" for you. Surely not for others. Is it that hard to understand that not everybody lives by your standards?
The problem is, they're not my standards. I'm a descriptivist, not a prescriptivist.

And... what is exactly "the spirit of Aikido"? Did you really "got it"? Obviously not, in my opinion. Maybe yes in yours.
I really have no idea, which is why I used quotations marks. I seriously doubt I "get it". Don't much want to, either.

This is the kind of intolerance that Jun allows in the forum. Oh, because the wording is low tone. Is this the "spirit of Aikido" too? I call BS.
Asking a pointed question is hardly intolerance. Sure, I question whether someone who can't make the cultural leap to bowing in the dojo can understand the more esoteric aspects of aikido, or indeed any martial art. That doesn't mean I give a damn what anyone does in their training.

Well, he's a little rough, but he makes a valid point. That is, the "simple adjustment" is not so simple for many people of faith. I think that's hard to understand for many people.
I stand by my statement. It is an unequivocal fact that bowing in Japan has no inherent religious meaning. That doesn't mean that it can't have that meaning in certain contexts, only that it is so ubiquitous, it has all the inherent religious meaning of clapping one's hands. Which, incidentally, can also have religious meaning in certain contexts here in Japan, and yet Christian people clap all the time.

So it comes to, either one sees bowing in the dojo as not inherently religious, and thus not a sin. Or despite the large number of Japanese atheists and Christians who bow like madmen throughout their daily lives, even in dojo, one believes that the act of bowing is inherently religious, and thus a sin against God/Allah. For the latter, I have my doubts that they'll come to understand the deeper concepts of aikido in specific and Japanese budo in general. But I don't mind being proven wrong; hence my question. I'd like to know how they could do it. Maybe they don't care; maybe for them all they want from aikido is some technical skill and the platitudes common to pretty much all traditional martial arts. More power to them. Heck, there are plenty of people who do bow, but never explore aikido deeper than that, as Mary suggested earlier. I personally think they are missing out on a lot of interesting stuff. But then, my girlfriend deplores my simple, basic tastes in food, and unwillingness to try new dishes. Different strokes.

Edit: Let it not be thought that I'm singling out Christians as the non-bowers here. The same goes for Muslims clapping, bowing in everyday life, etc.

Hanna B
03-29-2011, 11:12 AM
Ikeda Sensei of the ASU has bad knees and cannot sit in seiza at all. He opens the class at the kamiza with the standing rei. It seems to me (though I am no expert) that having this student do the standing rei would allow him to keep some aikido tradition without comprimising his beliefs.

I'm surprised that we got to post no 236 in this thread before someone said "standing rei". For someone whose main concern is rei towards shomen/kamiza/kamidana, I think standing rei should be a compromise working for most people.

During class standing bows before and after training with someone might work or be an obstacle, depending on the local dojo behaviour.

Flintstone
03-29-2011, 11:36 AM
Sure: This is just the way I myself practice. And for me it is kind of natural because there are a lot of connections with japan through my teacher who lived there for a while and whose wife is japanese. Also through Christian Tissier and Endo sensei.
And in our federation
My teacher also is shibu cho of TSKSR in Germany, which is also very japanese.
Congratulations! You do look so Japanese now!

This ist the aikido-world, I live in and which shapes the character of my understanding and feeling of aikido. And so this is the way aikido reveals itself to me.
We even don't have german graduations. We are graded directly by the hombu.
Congratulations! That makes you so more genuine!

On the other side there are bad experiences of two german federations which have lost the connection with Japan long time ago. This "german aikido" has lost it's character completely, I think.
And I'm sure that's because they lost connection with Japan. There is no other reason German Aikido has lost it.

I didn't start practice until I had at least a little idea of what I am doing when bowing to living people, rooms, kamidana, etc. .
Same with meditating, sitting in seiza.
I'm a lutheran pastor and it was important for me not to mix up the practice of shinto with my christian beliefs.
So how is your practice of Shinto then? Maybe I didn't understand correctly; sorry about my poor English.

grin: Yes. But this is what you and me think.
For my teacher - who is teacher of christian beliefs at school - it is identic. For the aikidoka who do aikido shinik rengo it is identic. Ueshiba Morihei thought it to be identic. ...
It's not that simpel. ;-)
Well, it's not about thinking or believing, but about universal laws.

Bowing to the kamidana is much more then just nodding in front of a picture. (... or calligraphie or flowers or ....)
And when you train with people who practice shinto it becomes even more complicated.
Sure it is! And that's why it should interfere with your lutheran faith. If it doesn't interfere, then something's laking somewhere. Anyway, for some faiths that interference is unacceptable. Plain as that. If lutheranism accepts it, good for you! Bravo.

Excuse me?
When or how did I say that you are not doing aikido?
(This is something I sometimes here myself. When stating that I just practice waza and nothing else ... And at least for this reason I would never judge anyone elses practice.)
Well, I don't mean specifically you, you know.

I don't think I am able (or want) to judge anyone or anyones practice. This is not my job and not my authority.
You may have got a teacher. He is (in my eyes) the only one who might judge your aikido. (If you let him do so.)
I certainly let him (them, actually) do so.

This I think is more difficult:
I think it was Kisshomaru, who openend up aikido.
O Sensei was kind of forced, to show aikido to the public and I think there where "two hearst beating in his one breast". (German proverb I can't translate: He wanted aikido to be for everyone, but at the same time wanted to aikido to be japanese. I think if there only had been Ueshiba Morihei we both wouldn't even know aikido. But that's just my thoughts.)
So if he wanted it to be for everyone, what are we discussing here? Also... do I infere that all Japanese are Shintoist? Conficianist? Buddhist? No.

The problem is, they're not my standards. I'm a descriptivist, not a prescriptivist.
Again, I do not mean you like in Joshua Reyer.

Asking a pointed question is hardly intolerance. Sure, I question whether someone who can't make the cultural leap to bowing in the dojo can understand the more esoteric aspects of aikido, or indeed any martial art. That doesn't mean I give a damn what anyone does in their training.
That cultural leap is impossible for 50% of the world population. And I think your reasoning is not that valid. Do I need to make a cultural leap to Ancient Greece to study algebra (an arab word, wtf). Do I need to make a cultural leap to England to play football? Do you follow me?

I stand by my statement. It is an unequivocal fact that bowing in Japan has no inherent religious meaning. That doesn't mean that it can't have that meaning in certain contexts, only that it is so ubiquitous, it has all the inherent religious meaning of clapping one's hands. Which, incidentally, can also have religious meaning in certain contexts here in Japan, and yet Christian people clap all the time.
But it is an unequivocal fact that bowing in Japan has inherent religious meaning if you are a Christian, a Muslim, a... Flawed again.

So it comes to, either one sees bowing in the dojo as not inherently religious, and thus not a sin. Or despite the large number of Japanese atheists and Christians who bow like madmen throughout their daily lives, even in dojo, one believes that the act of bowing is inherently religious, and thus a sin against God/Allah. For the latter, I have my doubts that they'll come to understand the deeper concepts of aikido in specific and Japanese budo in general.
Well, you have your doubts. I have my doubts. That doesn't mean you or I are right about it. But we're not discussing the deeper concepts of koryu, but Aikido. A gendai budo.

makuchg
03-29-2011, 11:45 AM
So Aikido is what, for instance, Roman Catholicism lacks to be a perfect and complete religion?

I'm paging Torquemada.

Please note that I'm not trying to start a theological debate over which religion is the perfect or complete religion. I think the idea here is that Aikido is not in conflict with organized religion. It preaches peace, love, cooperation, and harmony in line with organized religious doctrine. One does not worship in Aikido, one practices. Practitioners of Aikido are not asked to adopt new religions beliefs and Aikido should not challenge their existing beliefs. If bowing challenges their beliefs, change that so that the practice of Aikido can continue.

For Roman Catholics, Aikido does not challenge God, Jesus, or any other aspects of Catholic belief. It does not ask you to put any god before God. In fact, it puts into practice that which is taught by the religion: turn the other cheek, love thy neighbor, those without sin cast the first stone (non-aggression), etc. In addition it reinforces the idea of a universal god for all man kind. Isn't practicing these principles in everyday life, above and beyond church, how one becomes complete in the eyes of God? Hearing the words are not enough, one must practice them.

That is what I believe is meant by perfects and completes religion as this reinforcement applied universally.

Chris Li
03-29-2011, 11:56 AM
I stand by my statement. It is an unequivocal fact that bowing in Japan has no inherent religious meaning. That doesn't mean that it can't have that meaning in certain contexts, only that it is so ubiquitous, it has all the inherent religious meaning of clapping one's hands. Which, incidentally, can also have religious meaning in certain contexts here in Japan, and yet Christian people clap all the time.

It doesn't for you, but my point was that bowing has, for some people, a religious meaning in any context, and that turning that off is not such a simple matter.

Best,

Chris

Demetrio Cereijo
03-29-2011, 11:57 AM
Please note that I'm not trying to start a theological debate over which religion is the perfect or complete religion.

Not a kind of debate I find interesting, btw.

However, what irks me is the all-purpose "fortune-cookie" decontextualized Ueshiba quoting aikidoka are prone to.

Regards.

Diana Frese
03-29-2011, 12:23 PM
This is an old thread I have glanced at before and found fascinating, however, I haven't studied it enough to give everyone's post the proper study and consideration. But what Chris just said is very important to me because I know a bit about other religions, in fact, someone had called when I was no longer teaching but the listing was still in the book or on the internet. The man was Orthodox Jewish and had some questions. Unfortunately I wasn't in a position to give lessons as an intro before recommending the local dojo, but I sort of knew where he was coming from. Another woman from my dojo in NY and I had been guests in an Orthodox Synagogue and had read some books...

I would have called him back to see how the dojo visit went, but the notepaper got lost among the piles of paper in our home office, which I feel bad about ....

So here's my opinion, I agree with Chris in that some people have very strong beliefs about actions, customs and behaviors and I for one would feel obligated to try to work something out with the person that wouldn't go against his or her beliefs. But I haven't had this situation in my own dojo, which was at a Y years ago.

lbb
03-29-2011, 12:29 PM
However, what irks me is the all-purpose "fortune-cookie" decontextualized Ueshiba quoting aikidoka are prone to.


Digression: this is why I could simply not get with "The Art of Peace". An annotated version, perhaps, but as it is..."decontextualized" is the precise term for it.

Diana Frese
03-29-2011, 12:41 PM
To be honest, I have to say that at one point I did teach a form of short Shinto chant that went with the breathing exercise and the furutama and funakogi undo that we had learned at a seminar with Hikitsuchi Sensei. The seminar was at a local dojo in New Haven, after a public demo at one of the gyms at Yale. So I can't say I never attempted to pass on anything Shinto in the YMCA class I taught. But the topic didn't come up as far as I was aware, of anyone having a problem with any of the purification exercises, and the chant that goes with them that Hikitsuchi Sensei taught us. For those who don't know him, he was a Shinto priest who had studied with O Sensei since childhood when O Sensei visited the Wakayama area in south Japan . He just taught us a few things and we were grateful for his generosity. Many non-Japanese went to Japan to study with him from various parts of the US.

Janet Rosen
03-29-2011, 12:45 PM
Well, he's a little rough, but he makes a valid point. That is, the "simple adjustment" is not so simple for many people of faith. I think that's hard to understand for many people.

Best,

Chris

Chris, I agree the point is valid. (I see valid points on both sides of the equation, which to some degree is why my own position is: its up to the dojocho to make the rules that work for his/her own dojo).

My question had to do with appearing to equate what one considers a wrong or bull-headed or silly or even intolerant opinion with an actual attack.

Fred Little
03-29-2011, 01:14 PM
For those who don't know him [Hikitsuchi SenseI], he was a Shinto priest who had studied with O Sensei since childhood when O Sensei visited the Wakayama area in south Japan .

Hi Diana --

I've had occasion to ask a number of individuals who trained with Hikitsuchi S. in Japan about the question of whether or not he was a Shinto priest. Each of them told me essentially the same thing: while he was a devoted Shinto practitioner, he was not a formally ordained priest.

That said, the whole "formal ordination as a Shinto priest" business in its present form is closer to one century old than two, and Shingu is in Wakayama, a part of the country where traditions of folk-practice seem to run comparatively strong in many respects, so you can make of that what you will.

Best,

FL

Diana Frese
03-29-2011, 01:35 PM
Thanks, Fred, I appreciate your adding information, it's very interesting and all the more inspirational.

I guess I thought Hikitsuchi Sensei was a Shinto priest because he gave a ceremony at the Japan Society in honor of the tenth anniversary of O-Sensei's passing and invoked the spirit of O Sensei for the hono embu when he and his group gave the exhibition as part of the ceremony.

I guess it's the sincerity which was the most impressive aspect, it was his devotion to O Sensei which prompted him to make the US tour, whether or not he was an official Shinto priest.
I guess there are official regulations, government registrations etc. for that and maybe to be connected with a particular shrine, but I thought at the time he was connected with one of the shrines.

But the exhibition was years ago and I am very happy to learn something new from your post. The "traditions of folk practice" phrase you mentioned is heart-warming, that regular people are involved, it's not just something formal, although I have respect for formalities too. Especially these days, I feel it is important to learn something more about Japan, especially for those of us who have already been interested in the beliefs and customs.

makuchg
03-29-2011, 01:46 PM
Not a kind of debate I find interesting, btw.

However, what irks me is the all-purpose "fortune-cookie" decontextualized Ueshiba quoting aikidoka are prone to.

Regards.

The quotes were simply meant to show that these greater problems, and many others were being considered by O Sensei as he delved deeper into his own spirituality. Those who were fortunate enough to study directly under him recalled many a times he never even taught technique, just walked on the mat and talked philosophically about Aikido. His quotes were often difficult to place in context as he was often referring to humanity in general or life as a whole. So my quotes were not to validate one position as right or wrong, they were to demonstrate the compexity and simplicity which coexist within this discussion. On the complex end of the spectrum we have function, form, tradition, habit, ritual, etc. On the simple end we have compassion and understanding. I prefer to stay on the simpler side of things.

So Demetrio, no irking intended sorry if that was the result.

Carsten Möllering
03-30-2011, 08:26 AM
Congratulations! You do look so Japanese now!
...
Congratulations! That makes you so more genuine!
I feel a bit sad when reading this part of your answer: I just tried to describe my context of practicing aikido:
The persons who teach aikido in my context are strongly connected with Japan or certain dojo or teachers in Japan (mostly Yamaguchi sensei but also Endo, Sugino and some ohter) through their (aikido-)biographie. Or they just are Japanese. Or they practiced with Japanese teachers here in Europe. In my context there just is no aikido without connection to Japan.
The Yamaguchi Line came to us from France.
But also the aikido in Germany has a Japanese center in Asai sensei since 1965.
So in Germany there is nearly no way to experience aikido seperatde from the connection with Japan.
It's just the way it is.
And this is true also for friends in France, Sweden, ...

And I'm sure that's because they lost connection with Japan. There is no other reason German Aikido has lost it.No, not really: They wanted to be affiliated with the national Olympic committee and so they had to give up the connection to Japan, because an Japanese teacher couldn't lead this federation. The chairman had to be a German.
And for similar reasons (which I don't really understand) they didn't invite teachers from "outside" and just learned from themselves and graded themselves up to 8th dan.
So there was no input, no real teacher, noone who could make this aikido grow.

I don't know whether aikido always looses it's character when cut off Japan. But in my universe this simply is what I experienced.

So how is your practice of Shinto then? Maybe I didn't understand correctly; sorry about my poor English.I don't practice shinto. ? I learned that bowing or reishiki in general is not practicing shinto.
I learned also that a standing bow in church or kneeling (to which I was used then) on the other hand is not essential part of christian belief.

Well, it's not about thinking or believing, but about universal laws.Don't you think that universal laws as far as they concern religious questions are about thinking or believing?
For Ueshiba "ki" was sort of connection with the divine.
IFor me ki is something secular.

Sure it is! And that's why it should interfere with your lutheran faith.After all those years with a lot of praciticing and thinking and academic (theological) research I don't see what element of reishiki would interfere with my christian/lutheran faith?
Bowing truly not.

Anyway, for some faiths that interference is unacceptable. Plain as that. If lutheranism accepts it, good for you!
Hm, there ar some lutheren pastors I know, praciticing aikido. Also some roman-catholic priests. Some friends are muslims. Some are jews.
I never met someone on a tatami, who didn't bow for religious beliefs.

But this is just my experience.
I know that yours seem to be different.

Well, I don't mean specifically you, you know.Ok, fine. I became angry when I read this, because I wouldn't dare to judge someone and to say something like this.

makuchg
03-30-2011, 08:49 AM
Hm, there ar some lutheren pastors I know, praciticing aikido. Also some roman-catholic priests. Some friends are muslims. Some are jews.
I never met someone on a tatami, who didn't bow for religious beliefs.


I lived and trained in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and they do not bow due to their faith (of course this is the center of Islamic law.) I did, but I was the only one. When asking someone else to train with them, instead of bowing they touched their heart and extended their arm toward an area of the mat. This was a sign of open heartedness, a request from the heart. Bowing or the lack thereof was not significant and yet the Aikido was spiritual and powerful.

Walter Martindale
03-30-2011, 08:53 AM
Well heck. This is an old thread and I haven't re-read it. Life's too short.
The bow (rei) in Japan is roughly equivalent to the handshake in Europe and the Americas. Not religious.
I take my hat off when I go indoors, manners in a western context.
I bow when I enter a dojo - manners in a Japanese context.
Sure, I think it's a little silly to do a real low kowtow to the photo of a guy who developed Aikido and died more than 40 years ago, but it's not religious, it's manners - in the dojo context.
Yes, bowing to Mecca, bowing in church, and all that other stuff is an outward and visible show that you've bought into/been indoctrinated to that religious thing. People could have all that spirituality in their hearts/minds without doing all the bowing but they'd be chastised by the rest of the bible/koran bashers who do actually do the bowing, so they join the throng.

In the dojo it's manners.
IMO - and that's what counts for me...
W

Marc Abrams
03-30-2011, 01:35 PM
Imagine that you are a strapping lad in Australia and you are in a bar and you ask if anybody has a fag. A slight-built, rather effeminate man walks up to you and hands you a cigarette.......

Imagine you are a strapping lad in Chelsea district in New York City and you are in a bar and you ask if anybody has a fag. A slight-built, rather effeminate man walks up to you and hands you a cigarette........

Stories sound the same, but the word in one cultural milieu has one meaning and a very different meaning in another cultural milieu. Successful interactions within a specific cultural milieu tend to be strongly based upon your knowledge of cultural norms, customs, terms, expectations.....

Aikido is a Japanese martial art. Within that cultural milieu, the bow has a certain meaning with a host of attached expectations, perceptions, etc.. In my own opinion, it is rather rude for me to expect others to use my cultural norms, terms, expectations, etc. within the confines of their cultural milieu. In other words, if the dojo-cho requires that bowing is an integral part of the cultural milieu of that dojo, then that person is simply following standard traditions within that milieu. The dojo-cho is not discriminating against anybody, religion, etc. by insisting on bowing as an integral part of the Japanese dojo culture.

Funny that my opinion has not changed throughout the course of this long thread. I guess I still do not have a problem respecting and utilizing the practices of another culture when I am in their milieu. Kind of like when I eat with my hands when I use to eat dinners at my old Saudi friend's house.

Marc Abrams

Demetrio Cereijo
03-30-2011, 01:52 PM
Imagine that you are a strapping lad in Australia and you are in a bar and you ask if anybody has a fag. A slight-built, rather effeminate man walks up to you and hands you a cigarette.......

In Australia?

There are not slight-built, rather effeminate men in Australia.

Marc Abrams
03-30-2011, 02:27 PM
In Australia?

There are not slight-built, rather effeminate men in Australia.

:D :D :D :D

Do tell us more...

Marc Abrams

Ron Tisdale
03-30-2011, 02:35 PM
Oh man, now you've done it...

Hmmm, weren't there a few (???) football players who came "out"? I think they were neither slight, nor effiminate...nor would I call them so to their face!
Best,
Ron

Marc Abrams
03-30-2011, 02:38 PM
Oh man, now you've done it...

Hmmm, weren't there a few (???) football players who came "out"? I think they were neither slight, nor effiminate...nor would I call them so to their face!
Best,
Ron

Ron:

You're not talking about manly men who play with balls are you? ;)

Great to read your posts again! hope life is smoother these days!

Marc Abrams

Ron Tisdale
03-30-2011, 02:58 PM
Ditto (on the reading) and yes, somethings are up, others are down. Life goes on... :D
:freaky:
B,
R

Garth Jones
03-30-2011, 04:00 PM
To me, the big picture is that the bow serves as a non-verbal polite way of beginning and ending training (either as a whole class or during class with a partner). That asking for training and saying thank you for training is part of the fundamental etiquette of most martial arts.

It could be a bow, or a handshake, or a hand over the heart, or a bump of boxing gloves, but it's there. Because aikido comes from Japan and many of the folks who study the art are interested in more about Japan than just aikido, we bow. There is no reason that a group, if it has some problem with bowing, couldn't adopt another form of the ritual. I think the hand over the heart they do in Mecca is really elegant - they have replaced the bow with something that has the same meaning and doesn't conflict with their other beliefs. I think that's great. We've had a few Muslims in our dojo and none of them have minded bowing. If somebody ever does, I'll suggest that to them.

Even MMA fighters do it - they bump fists before the fight and then hug (even if they've just beaten the tar out of each other) after. The feeling is a little different, but even in the ring that little bit of tradition persists.

My $0.02 anyway....

Garth

Ba2m
06-14-2011, 03:07 PM
Knowing there are many Aikido instructor/black belts in many area who can't/don't bow regardless the reason, i wonder what would you do if your sensei at your dojo don't bow to O sensei picture, while you actually don't mind to bow down. Will you bow to O sensei picture to show respect on the founder's teaching?

Anyway, if we don't bow, is there any other way to show that you respect o sensei and his teachings?

Is "using aikido in a good way" enough to show that we respect the founder and appreciate his decision of opening opportunity for non japanese to learn his precious art?

Or actually those bowing things are only unimportant, unessential, and flexible-to-be-modified japanese tradition?