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graham christian
01-19-2011, 01:15 PM
HI. Thought I might share with you a viewpoint of mine and equate it with Aikido as a whole. The reason I havn't posted it on an ongoing thread is that I believe it deserves it's own, we shall see.

I call it The Rope Theory and in it's simplicity it is this:

Imagine the whole of Aikido, all organizations, all styles, all individuals are all part of one rope called Aikido.

Now every individual is a strand of that rope.

That's the basic theory and it leads to fascinating questions.

As I see it you can then look at Aikido as a whole and see what makes it stronger and what makes it potentially a weak rope.
If the strands argue and fight each other for example then it is not good for the rope.

If a strand thinks it is the rope then it is deluded.

If a strand turns against other strands then it is banning itself from the rope.

So what makes the rope stronger?

My opinion is when a strand realizes it is a strand and all others are strands in their own right and then through sharing the rope itself gains strength and quality.

To me it's one of those analogies that the more you look at the more you see. For example you could look at all people in the world being strands of the same rope etc. etc.

Thus when one strand goes against others it is obvious from this analogy that it is defeating it'self. For example if a person decides they are against people with green eyes then that person has opposed millions, one verses millions. The thread thus destroys it'self and the rope becomes that much weaker.

I thoght in an Aikido context and indeed this Aikiweb Rope this analogy may help and even lead to some fun responses. Anyway got to go training in half an hour.

Regards. G.

Richard Stevens
01-19-2011, 02:00 PM
But what if the rope is made from nylon?

gates
01-19-2011, 02:02 PM
Think its definitely food for thought.

It reminds me of another similar analogy, it suggests that Aikido is like a tree.

Some Aikido takes the form of Roots - pure Iwama style
Some take the form of the trunk - mainstream yoshinkan, hombu style
Some take the form of branches - more stylized individual forms
Some take the form of leaves - "ki no michi"
(you can argue who is what part of the tree but it is a bit irrelevant, unless you think the trunk is better than roots or leaves are better than branches)

Importantly for the tree to survive it needs roots, a trunk, branches and leaves.

You don't see the branches of a tree fighting with the roots for survival. They exist as part of the same entity and need each other to form a big healthy strong tree.

I will think more about your analogy.
Thanks for sharing.
Keith

Mary Eastland
01-19-2011, 02:36 PM
I like both analogies...it reminds of the beautiful quote that starts Niall's blog.
Mary

guest1234567
01-19-2011, 03:15 PM
I like both analogies...it reminds of the beautiful quote that starts Niall's blog.
Mary

I also like them both, they mean the rope must hold together also the tree, each one is nothing without any part. And the Moon is always there even when we don't see it. By the way today we have a beautiful big round moon.

Demetrio Cereijo
01-19-2011, 03:22 PM
By the way today we have a beautiful big round moon.
QED
:D

phitruong
01-19-2011, 04:12 PM
you know, the japanese has a whole art on how to tie folks with rope which i believed is quite popular with the "tie me up, tie me down" culture. anyone know what sort of rope to use for that? just curious, mind you! and that's my story and i will stick to it! :D

still trying to understand how rope relates to aikido, unless they made from marijuana, which would give raise to the spirit and so on and so forth. :)

read somewhere "if everyone agrees on everything, there is something wrong with that."

SeiserL
01-19-2011, 04:24 PM
So the "rope theory" is like "string theory" but with a larger diameter?

guest1234567
01-19-2011, 04:37 PM
you know, the japanese has a whole art on how to tie folks with rope which i believed is quite popular with the "tie me up, tie me down" culture. anyone know what sort of rope to use for that? just curious, mind you! and that's my story and i will stick to it! :D

still trying to understand how rope relates to aikido, unless they made from marijuana, which would give raise to the spirit and so on and so forth. :)

read somewhere "if everyone agrees on everything, there is something wrong with that."

Elephant and the blid men
Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, "Hey, there is an elephant in the village today."

They had no idea what an elephant is. They decided, "Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway." All of them went where the elephant was. Everyone of them touched the elephant.
"Hey, the elephant is a pillar," said the first man who touched his leg.

"Oh, no! it is like a rope," said the second man who touched the tail.

"Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree," said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.

"It is like a big hand fan" said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.

"It is like a huge wall," said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.

"It is like a solid pipe," Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.

They began to argue about the elephant and everyone of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated. A wise man was passing by and he saw this. He stopped and asked them, "What is the matter?" They said, "We cannot agree to what the elephant is like." Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like. The wise man calmly explained to them, "All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features what you all said."

"Oh!" everyone said. There was no more fight. They felt happy that they were all right.

The moral of the story is that there may be some truth to what someone says. Sometimes we can see that truth and sometimes not because they may have different perspective which we may not agree too. So, rather than arguing like the blind men, we should say, "Maybe you have your reasons."
Maybe now you might understand it better. Each branch of aikido sees his line like the blind men each part of the elephant. So everybody is right and see his own truth

Demetrio Cereijo
01-19-2011, 04:46 PM
Do you know the story of the elephant, the blid men and the surgeon ophthalmologist?

Janet Rosen
01-19-2011, 04:50 PM
Rope, eh? ...If you think it's a matter of one sisal fit all ...

guest1234567
01-19-2011, 05:03 PM
Do you know the story of the elephant, the blid men and the surgeon ophthalmologist?

Maybe thats what we need a surgeon ophthalmologist...

David Board
01-19-2011, 05:42 PM
Rope, eh? ...If you think it's a matter of one sisal fit all ...

Twisted.

Janet Rosen
01-19-2011, 06:50 PM
Twisted.

Knot at all.

phitruong
01-19-2011, 06:51 PM
Knot at all.

bit of a stretch

graham christian
01-19-2011, 08:17 PM
So the "rope theory" is like "string theory" but with a larger diameter?

Ahhhh Grasshopper!!!

graham christian
01-19-2011, 08:24 PM
Think its definitely food for thought.

It reminds me of another similar analogy, it suggests that Aikido is like a tree.

Some Aikido takes the form of Roots - pure Iwama style
Some take the form of the trunk - mainstream yoshinkan, hombu style
Some take the form of branches - more stylized individual forms
Some take the form of leaves - "ki no michi"
(you can argue who is what part of the tree but it is a bit irrelevant, unless you think the trunk is better than roots or leaves are better than branches)

Importantly for the tree to survive it needs roots, a trunk, branches and leaves.

You don't see the branches of a tree fighting with the roots for survival. They exist as part of the same entity and need each other to form a big healthy strong tree.

I will think more about your analogy.
Thanks for sharing.
Keith

I like it. Thanks. G.

graham christian
01-19-2011, 08:35 PM
Elephant and the blid men
Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, "Hey, there is an elephant in the village today."

They had no idea what an elephant is. They decided, "Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway." All of them went where the elephant was. Everyone of them touched the elephant.
"Hey, the elephant is a pillar," said the first man who touched his leg.

"Oh, no! it is like a rope," said the second man who touched the tail.

"Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree," said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.

"It is like a big hand fan" said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.

"It is like a huge wall," said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.

"It is like a solid pipe," Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.

They began to argue about the elephant and everyone of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated. A wise man was passing by and he saw this. He stopped and asked them, "What is the matter?" They said, "We cannot agree to what the elephant is like." Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like. The wise man calmly explained to them, "All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features what you all said."

"Oh!" everyone said. There was no more fight. They felt happy that they were all right.

The moral of the story is that there may be some truth to what someone says. Sometimes we can see that truth and sometimes not because they may have different perspective which we may not agree too. So, rather than arguing like the blind men, we should say, "Maybe you have your reasons."
Maybe now you might understand it better. Each branch of aikido sees his line like the blind men each part of the elephant. So everybody is right and see his own truth

Very nice. I must follow the way of the tail.

Randall Lim
01-19-2011, 08:44 PM
HI. Thought I might share with you a viewpoint of mine and equate it with Aikido as a whole. The reason I havn't posted it on an ongoing thread is that I believe it deserves it's own, we shall see.

I call it The Rope Theory and in it's simplicity it is this:

Imagine the whole of Aikido, all organizations, all styles, all individuals are all part of one rope called Aikido.

Now every individual is a strand of that rope.

That's the basic theory and it leads to fascinating questions.

As I see it you can then look at Aikido as a whole and see what makes it stronger and what makes it potentially a weak rope.
If the strands argue and fight each other for example then it is not good for the rope.

If a strand thinks it is the rope then it is deluded.

If a strand turns against other strands then it is banning itself from the rope.

So what makes the rope stronger?

My opinion is when a strand realizes it is a strand and all others are strands in their own right and then through sharing the rope itself gains strength and quality.

To me it's one of those analogies that the more you look at the more you see. For example you could look at all people in the world being strands of the same rope etc. etc.

Thus when one strand goes against others it is obvious from this analogy that it is defeating it'self. For example if a person decides they are against people with green eyes then that person has opposed millions, one verses millions. The thread thus destroys it'self and the rope becomes that much weaker.

I thoght in an Aikido context and indeed this Aikiweb Rope this analogy may help and even lead to some fun responses. Anyway got to go training in half an hour.

Regards. G.

From an Engineering point of view, a multi-strand rope is much stronger & more flexible than a solid homogenous (single-core) rope of the same material & thickness.

Reason: Friction between each strand helps keep the rope together & make the rope stronger. While the ability for each strand to subtly slide along each other helps in the rope's flexibility.

From the Aikido point of view, instead of friction, it would be inter-club bonding that keeps the Aikido rope strong. While the ability for each club to subtly vary in approaches & styles to offer society a wider perspective of Aikido.

Each club or Aikidoka only percieves a small aspect of the wider Aikido. No one can claim that he knows & understands the whole of Aikido. Only O-Sensei can.

danj
01-19-2011, 08:46 PM
I'm a frayed knot ;)

More like a spiders web, with the great o'sensei arachnid in the centre. Sometimes the web grows more in one direction at the edges than another and inhabited today by many - sometimes cannibalistically so :)

dan

danj
01-19-2011, 08:50 PM
And for a sufficiently large web, many may claim to be closest ( or indeed reside at) the centre.

Which bothers those of us that think we are already there LOL

Carsten Möllering
01-20-2011, 03:13 AM
... So everybody is right and see his own truth
If you stay practicing, someday a time will come when you have to decide what your own truth is.
Not because someone urges you (at least I hope noone will do), but because you have to walk your own way, do your own ikkyo, you will have to choose from some given possibilities.
And when you do, you will know why you make this decision. And why you stay away from other possibilities.

Looking at aikido I don' tknow whether everybody is right. I sometimens think that some teachers (not styles) are "more right" than others. At least here Germany.)
But I do know that not everyone can go every way or live every truth.

Practicing aikido you have to choose your style, your dojo, your teacher, your way of practicing, of doing it.
At least after some time, when grow up, become more mature and more confident you will have to.
(To stay with your first dojo or your first teacher also is a decision. Not to seek other truths in seminars or in dojo far away on the mainland but "stay at home" also is a decision. [My teacher lives about 300 km ~ 190 miles from here. The teacher of my teacher lives in Japan. ...])

So "everybody is right" certainly is true in one sense.
But everyone has to live ones own specific, certain truths.
Whenever possible connected (atari ...) with those of the others.

Makes me think of the "Essence" thread: Practicing aikido also leads to "finding one's own truth" in some respects.

Nicholas Eschenbruch
01-20-2011, 03:36 AM
you know, the japanese has a whole art on how to tie folks with rope which i believed is quite popular with the "tie me up, tie me down" culture. anyone know what sort of rope to use for that? just curious, mind you! and that's my story and i will stick to it! :D

still trying to understand how rope relates to aikido, unless they made from marijuana, which would give raise to the spirit and so on and so forth. :)

read somewhere "if everyone agrees on everything, there is something wrong with that."

Phi, it's probably this rope you are thinking of....

"Dear Ellis,
Enclosed is the Mouldy Rope. You are hereby dubbed Knight of the Mouldy Rope. An ancient order it is not, a noble rectitude is not found among its members, thee and me, time-hallowed rituals have we none. The Mouldy Rope may be worn about the person to affix the trou, used as a trivet for hot vessels, for binding jaws of dragons slain or captive, for a little B & D action with the ladies. When lost, burned or otherwise irretrievably engaged, the MR may be substituted for by something else. New knights and ladies may be appointed subject to unanimous assent of all Knights of MR, but sparingly. Big tits alone, shall not constitute grounds fo admission, but certain levies, tithes and assessments shall be waived upon their presentation for inspection to the examination board.
Yours truly,
Terry Dobson, KMR"

It apparently plays a very important role in the oral traditions of Terry Dobson's lineage of Aikido...

(From Ellis Amdur, Dueling with O-Sensei, Seattle: Edgework 2000, p 189. For more touching iconoclast context, buy the wonderful book: http://www.ellisamdur.com/buy-books-on-martial-arts.html )

guest1234567
01-20-2011, 05:23 AM
Thank you Carsten, I'm now practicing almost 7 years and began with another teacher. I think I'll stay with my actual teacher, as long as he will teaching. The teacher of my teacher is in Tenerife and his teacher is in France,. My actual teacher is a great wise man who can deal with all kind of characters we have in our dojo, there is always good connection between all of us and that is the most important thing as well as we all are improving very good( said by our teacher Frank Noel in our last seminar)

shakou
01-20-2011, 05:23 AM
you know, the japanese has a whole art on how to tie folks with rope which i believed is quite popular with the "tie me up, tie me down" culture. anyone know what sort of rope to use for that? just curious, mind you! and that's my story and i will stick to it! :D

still trying to understand how rope relates to aikido, unless they made from marijuana, which would give raise to the spirit and so on and so forth. :)

read somewhere "if everyone agrees on everything, there is something wrong with that."

Ha ha, the art is Shibari and makes for interesting "artistic" photography and they use, or used to use, a hemp rope. This rope caused chafing which meant the oppressed (?) would struggle less. I read this somewhere, don't remember where :D

Carsten Möllering
01-20-2011, 06:26 AM
Sorry, OT
... our teacher Frank Noel in our last seminar Is he the teacher of your teacher?
So if you are connected with Frank Noel we are not so far apart from another. :)
We also belong to the line of tradition influenced by Yamaguchi sensei. With Christian Tissier and Endo Seishiro as our shihan.

I watched a video of Yamaguchi sensei just two days ago with Fank as one of his uke. And I attended seminars with him back in the late 1990s here Germany.

guest1234567
01-20-2011, 06:52 AM
You watched that videohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkLoSRxtM5k&feature=player_embedded
I went to 3 seminars with Ch. Tissier also in Wegimont, Koeln and Malaga.. Yes our Aikido is similar:)

phitruong
01-20-2011, 07:04 AM
"Dear Ellis,
Enclosed is the Mouldy Rope. You are hereby dubbed Knight of the Mouldy Rope. An ancient order it is not, a noble rectitude is not found among its members, thee and me, time-hallowed rituals have we none. The Mouldy Rope may be worn about the person to affix the trou, used as a trivet for hot vessels, for binding jaws of dragons slain or captive, for a little B & D action with the ladies. When lost, burned or otherwise irretrievably engaged, the MR may be substituted for by something else. New knights and ladies may be appointed subject to unanimous assent of all Knights of MR, but sparingly. Big tits alone, shall not constitute grounds fo admission, but certain levies, tithes and assessments shall be waived upon their presentation for inspection to the examination board.
Yours truly,
Terry Dobson, KMR"



thanks nicholas for this reminder. i remembered seeing terry dobson video teaching aikido with a twisted rope made out of leather which we called the whip. i think i have found another role model in terry dobson, much wisdom to found. :)

phitruong
01-20-2011, 08:02 AM
The moral of the story is that there may be some truth to what someone says. Sometimes we can see that truth and sometimes not because they may have different perspective which we may not agree too. So, rather than arguing like the blind men, we should say, "Maybe you have your reasons."[/I]
Maybe now you might understand it better. Each branch of aikido sees his line like the blind men each part of the elephant. So everybody is right and see his own truth

opinions aren't truth. like the blind men, each gave his/her/its opinion based on his/her/its experiences. every opinion is valid to that particular individual. truth can only be one (off with his head! :) ).

besides, there is no truth and that's the truth. :D

guest1234567
01-20-2011, 08:23 AM
opinions aren't truth. like the blind men, each gave his/her/its opinion based on his/her/its experiences. every opinion is valid to that particular individual. truth can only be one (off with his head! :) ).

besides, there is no truth and that's the truth. :D
Maybe you have your reasons.:)

Amir Krause
01-20-2011, 08:39 AM
Imagine the whole of Aikido, all organizations, all styles, all individuals are all part of one rope called Aikido.

Now every individual is a strand of that rope.

As I see it you can then look at Aikido as a whole and see what makes it stronger and what makes it potentially a weak rope.
If the strands argue and fight each other for example then it is not good for the rope.


You assume that there is an entity "Aikido" which has a general state.

In my view, Aikido is a skill belonging to people. My Aikido is only indirectly affected by yours. And there is no encompassing combined entity.

Therefore, I should not care for your Aikido, except for it's effect on mine, which may be related to the impression of Aikido by the genral public (or future sutdents) you provide, or, much more important - related to the ideas you write about, and which I could utilize.

Amir

jonreading
01-20-2011, 12:42 PM
Whenever I start to hear the ol' "let's stick together" thing, I always question, why? Why do you want to tie your aikido to my aikido?

In the analogy, the argument seems to be a advocation to create a stasis situation, removing frictional dialog between individuals, factions or dojo. Why is this desireable?

Aikido is a skillset. The integrity of the art is dependent upon the competency prevelant within it. I think it both healthy and natural that aikido should have frictional dialogue and a natural purging operation or else the strands of rope begin to constrict each other.

lbb
01-20-2011, 12:53 PM
Whenever I start to hear the ol' "let's stick together" thing, I always question, why?

When you consider that calls for unity are often followed by a generous offer (from the same source) to lead the unified masses, I think you have your answer.

graham christian
01-20-2011, 02:59 PM
Whenever I start to hear the ol' "let's stick together" thing, I always question, why? Why do you want to tie your aikido to my aikido?

In the analogy, the argument seems to be a advocation to create a stasis situation, removing frictional dialog between individuals, factions or dojo. Why is this desireable?

Aikido is a skillset. The integrity of the art is dependent upon the competency prevelant within it. I think it both healthy and natural that aikido should have frictional dialogue and a natural purging operation or else the strands of rope begin to constrict each other.

Hi Jon, interesting interpretation. As I see it I posed the question what would make it weaker and the question what would make it stronger? No stasis there that I can see.

In fact I would say that on chatsites that have lot's of abusive stuff on them etc. have 'threads' leaving them and avoiding them whereas ones that have more intertesting discussions are more successful and thus attract more 'threads.' Thus the rope becomes greater both in size and quality. Pretty obvious really.

In my experience it is the negative people who through their own paranoia say we must stick together whilst the more stable positive people wonder why we all can't just get along and respect each other.

Regards. G.

graham christian
01-20-2011, 03:12 PM
When you consider that calls for unity are often followed by a generous offer (from the same source) to lead the unified masses, I think you have your answer.

Think that's been done already. Some fella called O'Sensei.

lbb
01-20-2011, 03:14 PM
In my experience it is the negative people who through their own paranoia say we must stick together whilst the more stable positive people wonder why we all can't just get along and respect each other.

Hi Graham,

That's an interesting choice of words -- some people might say that "stick together" and "just get along" are pretty much the same thing, but clearly you see a significant difference between the two points of view. I think that's an interesting line of thought. Can you talk more about the distinction?

Thanks,

graham christian
01-20-2011, 03:52 PM
Hi Graham,

That's an interesting choice of words -- some people might say that "stick together" and "just get along" are pretty much the same thing, but clearly you see a significant difference between the two points of view. I think that's an interesting line of thought. Can you talk more about the distinction?

Thanks,

Hi Mary. Certainly.

I'll start with an analogy or two. Take a husband and wife who have reasons to present themselves as a happy couple or if you include the children as a happy family and yet theydon't get along at all. It's all a front.

Take a group of politicions who present the image of getting along in public yet in reality?

In both analogies they are sticking together yet in truth they don't actually get along or even respect each other.

For them I would say that's quite a 'sticky' and uncomfortable position.

Regards. G.

C. David Henderson
01-20-2011, 03:54 PM
Think that's been done already. Some fella called O'Sensei.

Really, when did he do that?

graham christian
01-20-2011, 04:01 PM
Really, when did he do that?

Is he not source of the rope called Aikido?

C. David Henderson
01-20-2011, 04:36 PM
First, that's not what you said -- you said he already "done" what Mary described as making a generous offer to lead the unified masses after making a call for unity.

Second, he is called O Sensei for self-evident reasons.

Third, his role in the international expansion of Aikido, as I recall it, was not a call to unify the aikido world. In fact, that expansion began when "aikido" was still fairly "unified." As often happens, with success comes bickering.

As for the rope analogy -- it's got a nice egalitarian ring to it, but you haven't addressed Jon's point about "integrity of the art" being "dependent upon the competency prevelant within."

That's why I see the tree metaphor as a bit different. If you cut a limb from a tree and stuck it in the ground, which do you think more likely -- that the tree will grow a new limb, or that the limb will sprout roots of its own (granted both are possible)?

Not that I'm saying one image is "truer" than another, btw.

lbb
01-20-2011, 05:13 PM
Is he not source of the rope called Aikido?

Graham, my comment was sort of tongue in cheek. What I was saying was that those who call for "unity" often have ulterior motives -- a common one being perhaps best expressed as, "Everybody get into line and follow me and do what I say!" In other words, those who want to take charge of others often call for "unity" as a way of creating a herd all marching in the same direction, and then try to take charge of the direction of the herd.

Demetrio Cereijo
01-20-2011, 06:04 PM
Or at least feel themselves validated because everybody does the same thing. A billion sheep can't be wrong. It's one of these "universal truths".

graham christian
01-20-2011, 06:56 PM
First, that's not what you said -- you said he already "done" what Mary described as making a generous offer to lead the unified masses after making a call for unity.

Second, he is called O Sensei for self-evident reasons.

Third, his role in the international expansion of Aikido, as I recall it, was not a call to unify the aikido world. In fact, that expansion began when "aikido" was still fairly "unified." As often happens, with success comes bickering.

As for the rope analogy -- it's got a nice egalitarian ring to it, but you haven't addressed Jon's point about "integrity of the art" being "dependent upon the competency prevelant within."

That's why I see the tree metaphor as a bit different. If you cut a limb from a tree and stuck it in the ground, which do you think more likely -- that the tree will grow a new limb, or that the limb will sprout roots of its own (granted both are possible)?

Not that I'm saying one image is "truer" than another, btw.

Hi David.

First, yes I did and that's what I meant. He did indeed make a call for unity and indeed the way of harmony many times after the second world war and then generously in my opinion offered Aikido as a way which he led.

O'Sensei title as being self evident? (not sure what you're getting at there)

As for answering that part of what Jon said then I take it you agree with it? Anyway, for both you and him I shall try.

Jons point on integrity of the art and being dependent on the competency prevalent within I agree with as it is a pretty self- evidential statement but frictional discourse? How about non-frictional? To differenciate here I mean debate rather than argument. Debate can get a little frictional but argument is completely frictional.

If Jon meant it this way then I agree. If he didn't then that's also good for it's just two different viewpoints, no big deal.

Hope this clears up your 'concerns'

To say one more thing here. If your style of cutting out and presenting sentences and bits of sentences is your way of getting an understanding of what was meant then it is welcome and maybe it reflects you are quite a good swordsman.(hee,hee)
If it is just a method to try and make wrong it's a waste of a good talent.

Regards. G.

graham christian
01-20-2011, 06:57 PM
Graham, my comment was sort of tongue in cheek. What I was saying was that those who call for "unity" often have ulterior motives -- a common one being perhaps best expressed as, "Everybody get into line and follow me and do what I say!" In other words, those who want to take charge of others often call for "unity" as a way of creating a herd all marching in the same direction, and then try to take charge of the direction of the herd.

Apologies Mary.

Regards.G.

C. David Henderson
01-20-2011, 08:30 PM
After he suffered a stroke, Ram Das talked about words being like a closet of clothes, but being unable to pick the right ones with which to clothe his thoughts. (I've been told this is not an uncommon kind of feeling for people who've had a stroke.)

When an idea is important enough to be debated, it is important enough to be clothed in words that fairly and accurately present it.

Well, that would be my argument, at least.

graham christian
01-20-2011, 08:37 PM
Well put David. I agree.
Regards.g.

jonreading
01-21-2011, 12:08 PM
Let me see if I can clarify what I said earlier...

My main point is that I become personally concerned whenever I hear dialogue that centers around removing differing opinion. Graham's initial post contains an advocation to remove argument and fighting from aikido; arguments that I assume include training curriculum, use of weapons, stylistic alterations, and fighting effectiveness, to name a few. While I may not agree with those who oppose my perspectives, I do not believe I have a right [ever] to remove that opposing perspective. Opposing parties may argue and debate issues in a positive and constructive manner; I do not think it fair to cite the poor presentation of an argument or the poor ethics employed during debate as a cause to remove the dialogue. As such, I also do not tend to support the "can't we all just get along" stuff either. As Graham cites, people tend to consolidate around those who share similar values, beliefs and opinions. Those who don't like what they read or see in one setting have the opportunity to change that setting to one more desirable. This is both an expression of freedom and an expression of prejudice.

Secondly, I do not believe "more is better" in aikido. I do not believe the art's integrity will perservere with more people practicing at a lower quality. Contigent upon my first point, the role of frictional debate and argument is to identify and purge those practices and practicioners ill-suited to the preservation of aikido. The pressure of accountibility, education, and evaluation helps to control the presence of poor aikido. Without pressure to maintain quality withing the art, eventually the art will become ineffective; some would argue that is currently happening. Ledyard sensei just posted a great thread (http://http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?p=273892#post273892)that touches upon the issue of balancing the essence of aikido with the expansion of student body.

Ultimately, I believe my training is my own and not subjective to a larger group; it is mine to pursue with the vigor and energy that I put into it and under the authority of the instructor under whom I wish to train. I am not training to make the rope bigger or smaller or stronger ro weaker, I am training to make myself better and preserve the intergity of the aikido I learned from my instructor. In this sense I think it less important to worry about what everyone else is doing and more about what I am doing. There is no rope if after 15 years I still cannot do aikido; it is no consolation to me that if after 15 years of aikido there are others who cannot do aikido either. I see no reason to tie my aikido to yours...

graham christian
01-21-2011, 12:47 PM
Jon, well put, and well articulated. I will only say this: As I see it in the analogy given I don't mean it as therefore ones Aikido encroaches on anothers in fact quite the contrary.

If you are a 'strand' then you are to do and progress and better youself and maybe even become a master in your own strand. I'm sure you must like the old kung fu movies where you got masters of the snake, eagle, drunkenfist etc and it gave the impression of all those different strands of the one 'rope' or umbrella of kung fu.

The wise masters were always compassionate and respectful towards other strands yet then along would come one arrogant strand and decide it was the rope or decide it was superior and had to prove it by getting rid of other strands.

Regards. G.

George S. Ledyard
01-22-2011, 06:21 PM
Jon, well put, and well articulated. I will only say this: As I see it in the analogy given I don't mean it as therefore ones Aikido encroaches on anothers in fact quite the contrary.

If you are a 'strand' then you are to do and progress and better youself and maybe even become a master in your own strand. I'm sure you must like the old kung fu movies where you got masters of the snake, eagle, drunkenfist etc and it gave the impression of all those different strands of the one 'rope' or umbrella of kung fu.

The wise masters were always compassionate and respectful towards other strands yet then along would come one arrogant strand and decide it was the rope or decide it was superior and had to prove it by getting rid of other strands.

Regards. G.

Hi Graham,
I think that it's always a good idea to try to remove the judgment and personalization that often attends these exchanges. But the "it's all ok" doesn't work for me either. I certainly don't think it was ever true that there was a large degree of tolerance for new ideas or new forms within the martial arts community. In the old days you absolutely had to back up your stuff, When O-Sensei started the Ueshiba Juku, he had all sorts of people come in and challenge him. In those days this was a survival issue. If a challenger came into your dojo and beat you up in front of your students, they'd leave. It would close your school. Look how many martial arts movies are based on the scenario. It was serious business.

I have a very inclusive view of many of these things. I have heard any number of teachers say "This is the proper way to do kotegaeshi". These same folks often have no agreement about what that is and believe that the others are wrong. Since my own teacher doesn't believe that Aikido has any set form and therefore no "style", I have almost always found that I have practiced the version being shown by a given teacher and found it worked fine. I alos find that the other teacher's technique worked as well. So these "thou shall do this, thous shalt not to that" are a bit silly. I actually had the experience of drilling a certain Japanese Aikido practitioner into the mat (after he couldn't do the technique on me) and having him get up and proceed to correct me on how to do it. He was personal friends with the current doshu and that seemed to mean he knew better than I did, despite the fact of his rapid descent to the mat when i did the technique.

But there is still bad Aikido. It is not "all good". Ropes or strands are great if they have value. They can actually be dangerous when they are false or too weak. Katatetori tenkan has to work if someone's "strand" is to be respected. When it doesn't work, it isn't worthy respect as a strand. The person should have respect if he's a good person, but good people do bad Aikido all the time.

This is martial arts. The bottom line is whether you can walk your talk on the mat. I'm not even saying on the street... simply within the dojo paradigm. And there is simply a lot of Aikido that doesn't function at that level. People are teaching who cannot do an irimi if you really try to hit them with shomen uchi or tsuki. They cannot do their kihon waza if you grab them and don't collude.

So, no, I do not think we need to just do the "it's all ok and it's all good" thing here. Some of it is and some of it isn't. Folks can work out for themselves which is which and if they can't from the discussions, they can by going to play with the folks who are posting and find out. The discussions serve to create movement in people's thinking. Sure folks will always gravitate towards the folks with like viewpoints. That is human nature and we are hard wired that way. But the process of listening to people going back and forth lets people think about what they themselves believe. I often find people who come away feeling that both parties in a given argument had a point, and that is great too.

The civility thing is important because folks leave the forums when things get too vituperous. But frankly, it's really suicide in the long run for folks who can't stay civil because if they are butt heads, on the internet, they are internationally known butt heads. There's one particular character who was actually thrown off Aikido Journal forums who is know throughout the whole English speaking world as a butt head. It's an amazing achievement and would never have been possible before the internet. So there is karmic pay back for folks who refuse to behave.

But it isn't uncivil or disrespectful to state that you think someone's opinion is wrong or that something he's put up on a video simply wouldn't work. I've put stuff up here and had folks not "get it". Some folks might and some folks won't. As long as folks stay basically polite, they are welcome to tell me it's bs in their opinion. I am fine with that. If they get rude, they get an invitation to come to my dojo and play. So far no one has shown up for that option. But I think that is the bottom line. For every great martial arts teacher I know, there is a line. Cross that line and they will show you that they can do what they say. Smart folks typically don't push it that far. For some teachers it takes a lot of dissing to get to that point. For others, any dissing at all will do it. There's a mix of each kind here on the forums. I suspect that everyone who posts here knows who these folks are.

Anyway, the inability to actually walk your talk on the mat is just a form of wishful thinking and it certainly isn't Budo. In martial arts it isn't what you don't know that gets you killed, it's what you don't know you don't know. If you know you don't know it you can work around it. But wishful thinking is deadly and it bad spirituality as well. So, no, I don't think all strands are worthy of respect, just the ones that are worthy of respect.

graham christian
01-22-2011, 07:11 PM
Hi George. Good meeting you again. I can't disagree with any of what you say for I understand where you're coming from and the only difference I see is based on one word.

The word is 'respect'. Let me explain why. For years I tussled with the concept as I had it as a principle which I was taught and it came from Tohei's principles and it was 'respect your partner's Ki'

I went from thinking I knew what it meant to seeing I didn't know what it meant to seeing it sometimes depending.......

Finally I saw what it meant and my view on the word itself changed, the power of respect took on a whole new meaning. You want to know what it meant? It meant repect your partnes' Ki.

As usual in these things it was back to the simplicity.

What I wasn't getting was that I thought if something was bad I couldn't respect it. It happened in two stages: First a reality of Ki and the fact that everyone, beyond the presented illusion has Ki and to 'see' it, know it and respect it. As Ki itself is good then it is also to see past the presented force or even negative energy as they are not Ki. So of course I could respect their Ki and link with it even if they didn't know they had it or was sure what they were using was it. On doing and practicing this It expanded out to why not respect what they are doing anyway whether bad or good for respect is an inherent part of my spiritual being so why let others make me give up part of my true self?

Now once again this doesn't to me mean I agree with or even should let it carry on, it's down to personal judgement. For example if someone wants to do Aikido in my space, in my dojo, and yet not according to the principles I teach then after showing them the difference and respecting where they are coming from they realize either this is the way they were looking for or they leave. I respect them either way. If someone is acting obnoxious towards others I can respect it and accept it and yet communicate through to the true them it is not allowed and if they persist they will have to go somewhere else.

In fact using the rope analogy I would say that when a thread is overtly disrupting or even covertly undermining or harming the rope(group) that generally in life the group or person in charge of the group takes appropriate action and this would be known as justice.

So that is what I meant by respect and once again I probably should try to articulate clearer sometimes.

Respect. G.

George S. Ledyard
01-22-2011, 09:05 PM
Hi George. Good meeting you again. I can't disagree with any of what you say for I understand where you're coming from and the only difference I see is based on one word.

The word is 'respect'. Let me explain why. For years I tussled with the concept as I had it as a principle which I was taught and it came from Tohei's principles and it was 'respect your partner's Ki'

I went from thinking I knew what it meant to seeing I didn't know what it meant to seeing it sometimes depending.......

Finally I saw what it meant and my view on the word itself changed, the power of respect took on a whole new meaning. You want to know what it meant? It meant repect your partnes' Ki.

As usual in these things it was back to the simplicity.

What I wasn't getting was that I thought if something was bad I couldn't respect it. It happened in two stages: First a reality of Ki and the fact that everyone, beyond the presented illusion has Ki and to 'see' it, know it and respect it. As Ki itself is good then it is also to see past the presented force or even negative energy as they are not Ki. So of course I could respect their Ki and link with it even if they didn't know they had it or was sure what they were using was it. On doing and practicing this It expanded out to why not respect what they are doing anyway whether bad or good for respect is an inherent part of my spiritual being so why let others make me give up part of my true self?

Now once again this doesn't to me mean I agree with or even should let it carry on, it's down to personal judgement. For example if someone wants to do Aikido in my space, in my dojo, and yet not according to the principles I teach then after showing them the difference and respecting where they are coming from they realize either this is the way they were looking for or they leave. I respect them either way. If someone is acting obnoxious towards others I can respect it and accept it and yet communicate through to the true them it is not allowed and if they persist they will have to go somewhere else.

In fact using the rope analogy I would say that when a thread is overtly disrupting or even covertly undermining or harming the rope(group) that generally in life the group or person in charge of the group takes appropriate action and this would be known as justice.

So that is what I meant by respect and once again I probably should try to articulate clearer sometimes.

Respect. G.

Ok Graham, I think I get where you are coming from... but maybe not as the discussion is a bit obscure. So let me take a more earthy and less intellectual example.

Last weekend I attended the Bridge seminar in San Diego conducted by Ikeda Sensei, Christian Tissier, and Doran Sensei. I had a wonderful time and found every single person I worked with to be a pleasure, with one exception.

I had a partner who chose to do a total passive aggressive number on me. It was Ikeda Sensei's class and he was as usual doing connection work. My partner gave me a grab with absolutely no energy in it, a completely uncommitted grab, and then proceeded to look away and watch everyone around me training. It was so monumentally disrespectful that it was clearly intentional. I have encountered guys who play this game before. They give you nothing until they feel you try to move to do what the Sensei did, then they counter you. So I just sat there looking at him. I could see it register that I wasn't even trying to do the technique, and he almost looked at me, but he caught himself and didn't react. So I started walking forward to get him to give me some energy but he simply refused to engage and he literally allowed me to back him into some other folks rather than give me anything to work with.

So, "little mind" George is telling me to knock this sucker cold for dissing me. He'd have never seen it coming because he was so busy not looking at me. But "big mind" George prevailed and took the "high road". It certainly wasn't my problem that this guy was such an "anal pore". He wasn't my student and not my responsibility although I cannot imagine what teacher tolerates such an idiot in his dojo. But, not my problem... So I did the proper thing and ignored him the rest of the weekend.

However, the next day I was happily training with someone and I looked over and saw one of my female friends on the side crying and holding her shoulder. I happened to know she had a very fragile shoulder from a previous accident and it had clearly been re-injured. So I went over and asked her if she was ok and what had happened. She said that someone had cranked her shoulder hard and re-injured it. This being after he was too rough and she had told him to go easier because she was hurt.

At that point I was pretty pissed. I decided to go out and train a bit with whomever had done it. At first she wouldn't tell me who had done it but I insisted and low and behold, it was my sphincter friend from the first day. Now this fellow as a very tall and pretty strong guy and my friend was a diminutive female of just over 100 lbs I would say with very fine bone structure. Certainly someone I would exercise the utmost care with under any circumstance.

Now, I am a fairly mellow guy normally. But there is one thing that is totally calculated to bring out what I call the Wrath of God George (some I keep deeply buried most of the time) and that is the kind of guy who when he trains with me, a big, senior guy, he gives me nothing and won't take the risk of even participating and then turns around and manhandles some virtually defenseless 6th kyu woman and actually injures her after being asked to go easier. That's not an accident at that point, that's intentional.

When I realized whom she had pointed out, I told her that I had wanted to go out and "play" with him, but because it was him in particular I didn't trust myself to do it. I was SO angry I could barely see straight. I came very close to full Wrath of God George and had I done so it would have been blood on the mat, broken bones time. So, I restrained myself. Instead I went to one of the hosts and told them what had happened. In talking to some other folks I discovered that virtually all the women who trained with him and felt that they had been manhandled. One of my female friends told me that she had come inches from attacking him herself.

Anyway, as far as I am concerned, two possible outcomes would have been appropriate. One was that I beat the crap out of this fellow... Good karmic payback within minutes of the offense and all that. The other would be that the seminar organizers had acted on the information I had given them and dis-invited him to any future events held by them. I think I would have felt ok about either one. In the end, to my knowledge, neither happened.

My wife was adamant that I should have taken the guy out, then and there. One of my other senior friends said he would have told the guy to meet him in the parking lot. I've spent some time thinking about why I ended up not nuking the guy. I'm pretty straight with myself that it wasn't because I was afraid of being hurt in getting into it. I am not saying that I couldn't have been, this guy was pretty strong. But I didn't think that possibility was what restrained me. I was actually afraid of being embarrassed on some level. I didn't want to create a scene, I didn't want to put out a lot of bad juju into an event that was so overwhelmingly positive. I think I didn't want people to see that not so wonderful party of me that I know is there but I keep hidden.

My wife, who comes from a rough tough Western martial arts background asked me what was wrong with Aikido people that they didn't protect their own? I have plenty of rational answers as to why I didn't but that's really all bullshit. I could have, I didn't and no one else to my knowledge did anything about the guy. He will almost certainly hurt someone else before he is done.

So, I don't feel at peace with the outcome. I don't feel that I did what needed to be done and I feel the system failed to do what it should have done. Justice was not done and someone else will certainly suffer for it.

So my question is, how does all this wonderful ki good stuff, treating people wonderfully, respectfully, etc which you seem to always do... How does that handle people who are simply not good people, who are victimizers and prey on the weak? Isn't it really the responsibility of the strong to protect those people who can't protect themselves? That's what I have always told my kids that martial arts is about. I feel like I failed to do that. I did what was civilized, I wasn't violent, I didn't disturb the "wa" of the event. But I feel like I failed in some elemental way.

So tell me, how does all of your good ki, mutual respect, perfect equanimity (which is impressive the way) handle bad stuff. Conflict resolution is easy when there's not much conflict. I am not happy with my efforts to be civilized in this case. I feel like I should have done Conan on this guy. Unless I am convinced otherwise, I think if I am ever on the mat with this guy again and I see him pulling this stuff again, I will not make the same choice at all.

Mary Eastland
01-22-2011, 09:38 PM
What would that help? You did what you could. I would make sure all my students knew about him. If I saw him training with one of my students I would join them.
Hurting him would hurt you in the long run.

Mary

RonRagusa
01-22-2011, 10:15 PM
So tell me, how does all of your good ki, mutual respect, perfect equanimity (which is impressive the way) handle bad stuff. Conflict resolution is easy when there's not much conflict. I am not happy with my efforts to be civilized in this case. I feel like I should have done Conan on this guy. Unless I am convinced otherwise, I think if I am ever on the mat with this guy again and I see him pulling this stuff again, I will not make the same choice at all.

The solution proposed by Mary is based on real life experience. We encountered just such a person at the camps we used to attend before we went independent. After a couple of our less experienced students complained about the treatment they received from him we made sure that whenever we saw him single out one of our students one of us would join them. Eventually he stopped seeking out our students and pointedly avoided both of us.

We never had to hurt anyone or let the situation escalate to the point where potential conflict became promoted to real conflict.

Ron

George S. Ledyard
01-22-2011, 10:29 PM
The solution proposed by Mary is based on real life experience. We encountered just such a person at the camps we used to attend before we went independent. After a couple of our less experienced students complained about the treatment they received from him we made sure that whenever we saw him single out one of our students one of us would join them. Eventually he stopped seeking out our students and pointedly avoided both of us.

We never had to hurt anyone or let the situation escalate to the point where potential conflict became promoted to real conflict.

Ron

Hi Ron and Mary,
I have done precisely what you suggested in the past. But that was always when someone appeared insensitive or was just such a stick that the needed a wake up call. I have put people on the floor and scared the shit out of them when they were stupid ukes. But I have never hurt any of these folks doing it.

But this guy really hurt my friend. I was conscious a bit afterward that I felt that everyone in the room was on some level my Aikido family. And I have to say I go a bit cave man when we are talking about family and friends. Me, I walk away, but something else goes on when it's my friends and family. And the feeling was so great at the Bridge Seminar. Every single person I trained with was so great. Leaving this idiot standing amongst them seemed wrong. Anyway, it is what it is now, but next time I don't think I''ll make the same choice. But thanks for the input...

Budd
01-22-2011, 10:30 PM
That situation that George describes - I used to go look for those kinds of guys - but unfortunately, I think the "system" gives them an easy place to hide. I don't have the answer for how to deal with them, either - other than if it's going to be some sort of hierarchical system, then you'd better make damn sure the people at the top have enough moral character to actively root out pieces of shit like that. Funny thing is I have encountered many more people like that in aikido, than in more competition based arts like judo/bjj, etc.

Again, don't know the answers - and in my brutish method of dispensing my own brand of justice to those that I felt deserved it - I'm sure that I did my own bit to further inappropriate behaviors, no matter how deserved they might have been.

David Orange
01-22-2011, 11:06 PM
...I understand where you're coming from and the only difference I see is based on one word.

The word is 'respect'. Let me explain why. For years I tussled with the concept as I had it as a principle which I was taught and it came from Tohei's principles and it was 'respect your partner's Ki'

I went from thinking I knew what it meant to seeing I didn't know what it meant to seeing it sometimes depending.......

Finally I saw what it meant and my view on the word itself changed, the power of respect took on a whole new meaning. You want to know what it meant? It meant repect your partnes' Ki....I thought if something was bad I couldn't respect it....As Ki itself is good then it is also to see past the presented force or even negative energy as they are not Ki. So of course I could respect their Ki and link with it even if they didn't know they had it or was sure what they were using was it. On doing and practicing this It expanded out to why not respect what they are doing anyway whether bad or good for respect is an inherent part of my spiritual being so why let others make me give up part of my true self?

Graham,

There is another word you should also remember and that is kichigai--(changed ki or "different" ki)--when a person's ki becomes unnatural because of a sick way that they use it because of a sick way that they use their mind.

In fact, ki is neither good nor bad. It simply is. But it can be made good or bad through its close association with a good or bad mind.

Say a person like the Dalai Lama constantly turns his mind to helping and loving others. His ki becomes like his mind.

Then let's look at that fellow who shot the Congresswoman in Arizona. Or better yet, consider a child molester and murderer. His mind becomes so fascinated with horrible ideas and fixations that his very ki becomes transformed into something completely inhuman: ki chigai (different ki). His very ki becomes sick and evil--much worse than an innocent animal like a wolf or even a jackal. It's worse than an animal spirit. It is unfit for any human or animal interaction.

George Ledyard just gave you the example of the jerk who was passive toward strong men but manhandled small women. That jerk is verging on kichigai as well. Who knows? Maybe he's already there. Maybe he uses his aikido skill to rape women between seminars. He certainly seems to have a sick attitude toward women. So maybe he is kichigai. You see the effect his ki had on Ledyard Sensei and on the women who had contact with him. And all the friends of the man who shot the Congresswoman commented on how strange the man had become in the years leading up to the shooting. And then look at that totally insane face in the mug shots.

So there is definitely a kind of ki that does not merit respect and it's wrong to simply treat such people as we would treat someone who works to refine himself and care for others.

Aikido is a martial art that involves serious interplay with the ki of others. It is meant to protect our own ki against that of evil people and it is meant to be effective against such seriously maniacal people as the Arizona shooter. This kind of aikido must be oriented to certain main principles to maintain this kind of healthy viability. And the first aspect of that is Truth, carefully followed by Martial Effectiveness. Without Truth, there is no martial effectiveness, and without martial effectiveness, aikido is False or even worse. But the "quality control" aspect of aikido is not quite what it was fifty or sixty years ago and now some very strange people can teach whatever kind of misguided garbage their disoriented minds conjure up and call it aikido. Learning from a kichigai teacher is very unhealthy and therefore dangerous. But being a bully is not the only result of kichigai. It can go in all kinds of directions and the results on one's aikido are also very clear. One way is to become obsessive about "samurai spirit" and "honor" and "martial effectiveness" to the point of losing the ability to relate to normal people so that only bizarre people will train with them, resulting in even more unfit people gaining the ability to teach.

Another bad direction of aikido is to lose the orientation to Truth and Martial Effectiveness, to begin teaching something so lacking in martial effectiveness that it departs completely from the arena of Truth, itself. And a main refuge for such people is to devolve into a driveling fantasy of universal love that O Sensei would find utterly creepy (kimochi warui)--sickening or disgusting.

It is not our right to redefine aikido to whatever kind of self-aggrandizing fantasy play suits us--even in the name of "respecting" other people's ki. If you don't first respect the standard of Truth in aikido that was well established long ago, then every move you make on the mat and every word you speak about aikido is a manifestation of utter disrespect for Truth. So how then can you claim to respect anyone or anything? You're simply infecting them with disrespect for the Truth of what aikido is and therefore disrespect for what they are and what Life really is.

If that's what you're doing, then you've already become very close to kichigai and you will never get better by continuing in the same way.

Murderer, molester, manhandler, or just a fantasy dancer, it's all heading in the same kichigai and kimochi warui direction. The only difference is a matter of degree. And to teach that same attitude to others is a bigger disservice to them and to oneself than being a heroin addict. And while I respect ki and love humanity, I don't respect that kind of attitude, nor will I accord it any dignity or recognition at all.

If you see what I mean.

David

David Orange
01-22-2011, 11:08 PM
The solution proposed by Mary is based on real life experience. We encountered just such a person at the camps we used to attend before we went independent. After a couple of our less experienced students complained about the treatment they received from him we made sure that whenever we saw him single out one of our students one of us would join them. Eventually he stopped seeking out our students and pointedly avoided both of us.

We never had to hurt anyone or let the situation escalate to the point where potential conflict became promoted to real conflict.


That's pretty cool.

Best to y'all.

David

David Orange
01-22-2011, 11:12 PM
...it is what it is now, but next time I don't think I''ll make the same choice. But thanks for the input...

I'd say you ought to put him in a serious yonkyo and whisper a word to the wise in his ear. And make sure he feels like sitting out a couple of hours after that--if not just getting the heck out of Dodge.

Best to you.

David

George S. Ledyard
01-23-2011, 01:54 AM
I'd say you ought to put him in a serious yonkyo and whisper a word to the wise in his ear. And make sure he feels like sitting out a couple of hours after that--if not just getting the heck out of Dodge.

Best to you.

David

I feel better now... I have taken some actions that may go some way towards taking care of the problem. I also found out some info that made me glad I didn't take the guy out on the spot... would have caused some other complications. So all in all, I feel like I have taken some action my effort at "Right Action" so to speak and I avoided creating any bad Karma by unleashing Wrath of God George, best he stays hidden where he belongs. But it had better not happen again any where while I am around or bad Karma or no, the guy is in terrible trouble.

Flintstone
01-23-2011, 03:56 AM
Is he not source of the rope called Aikido?
Is he?

gates
01-23-2011, 06:28 AM
I think the moment the senior instructors found out they should have stopped the class and either embarrassed, directly or indirectly, the hell out of the guy so much that he felt like an insignificant piece of crap.

Or at least pulled him to help demonstrate the next technique Ganseki-otoshi.

Amir Krause
01-23-2011, 06:52 AM
Is he not source of the rope called Aikido?

Not when all M.A. under this name are considered.

Amir

Amir Krause
01-23-2011, 07:20 AM
Let me see if I can clarify what I said earlier...

My main point is that I become personally concerned whenever I hear dialogue that centers around removing differing opinion. Graham's initial post contains an advocation to remove argument and fighting from aikido; arguments that I assume include training curriculum, use of weapons, stylistic alterations, and fighting effectiveness, to name a few. While I may not agree with those who oppose my perspectives, I do not believe I have a right [ever] to remove that opposing perspective. Opposing parties may argue and debate issues in a positive and constructive manner; I do not think it fair to cite the poor presentation of an argument or the poor ethics employed during debate as a cause to remove the dialogue. As such, I also do not tend to support the "can't we all just get along" stuff either. As Graham cites, people tend to consolidate around those who share similar values, beliefs and opinions. Those who don't like what they read or see in one setting have the opportunity to change that setting to one more desirable. This is both an expression of freedom and an expression of prejudice.

Secondly, I do not believe "more is better" in aikido. I do not believe the art's integrity will perservere with more people practicing at a lower quality. Contigent upon my first point, the role of frictional debate and argument is to identify and purge those practices and practicioners ill-suited to the preservation of aikido. The pressure of accountibility, education, and evaluation helps to control the presence of poor aikido. Without pressure to maintain quality withing the art, eventually the art will become ineffective; some would argue that is currently happening. Ledyard sensei just posted a great thread (http://http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?p=273892#post273892)that touches upon the issue of balancing the essence of aikido with the expansion of student body.

Ultimately, I believe my training is my own and not subjective to a larger group; it is mine to pursue with the vigor and energy that I put into it and under the authority of the instructor under whom I wish to train. I am not training to make the rope bigger or smaller or stronger ro weaker, I am training to make myself better and preserve the intergity of the aikido I learned from my instructor. In this sense I think it less important to worry about what everyone else is doing and more about what I am doing. There is no rope if after 15 years I still cannot do aikido; it is no consolation to me that if after 15 years of aikido there are others who cannot do aikido either. I see no reason to tie my aikido to yours...

Great Post !



But this guy really hurt my friend. I was conscious a bit afterward that I felt that everyone in the room was on some level my Aikido family. And I have to say I go a bit cave man when we are talking about family and friends. Me, I walk away, but something else goes on when it's my friends and family. And the feeling was so great at the Bridge Seminar. Every single person I trained with was so great. Leaving this idiot standing amongst them seemed wrong. Anyway, it is what it is now, but next time I don't think I''ll make the same choice. But thanks for the input...

Wow, that story of yours made me feel like :grr:
And I am just a Sempai of others, not their teacher...

We rarely have seminars with others, but as a Sempai, had I seen anyone starting such a thing with one of our beginners, I would have interveaned, preferbly in the "friendly" manner of joining the practice.

Amir

David Orange
01-23-2011, 09:44 AM
I feel better now... I have taken some actions that may go some way towards taking care of the problem. I also found out some info that made me glad I didn't take the guy out on the spot... would have caused some other complications.

Yeah. If you're not the head teacher at the gig, it would be a little presumptuous to snatch someone off the mat and order him out. But maybe a yonkyo and a word in the ear would have worked. I'm sure a lot of people would have just crunched him pretty hard without saying anything except, "Oops! You okay? Sorry about that."

Or maybe, "Oops! My mind was on that young lady whose shoulder you wrenched."

But it sounds like you had the best response, ultimately. Behind the scenes rarely makes a scene.

Best wishes.

David

David Orange
01-23-2011, 09:49 AM
I think the moment the senior instructors found out they should have stopped the class and either embarrassed, directly or indirectly, the hell out of the guy so much that he felt like an insignificant piece of crap.

Seems he already felt like that, but he mistook it for the feeling of being a big, tough guy with Samurai spirit.

He just forgot that the real samurai saw themselves as servants.

Best wishes.

David

George S. Ledyard
01-23-2011, 10:14 AM
Yeah. If you're not the head teacher at the gig, it would be a little presumptuous to snatch someone off the mat and order him out. But maybe a yonkyo and a word in the ear would have worked. I'm sure a lot of people would have just crunched him pretty hard without saying anything except, "Oops! You okay? Sorry about that."

Or maybe, "Oops! My mind was on that young lady whose shoulder you wrenched."

But it sounds like you had the best response, ultimately. Behind the scenes rarely makes a scene.

Best wishes.

David

I realized later what I should have done, was to walk and and stop the seminar right at that instant and tell the entire group what he had done. Shame him in front of everyone there. It would have served to warn everyone else and I suspect that after something like that, you wouldn't see him again at the seminar. It would have taken some Moxie to do it, but I think it would have been effective. Anyway, other avenues are being pursued...

aikishihan
01-23-2011, 10:33 AM
Hi George,

What a gift to us whenever you share your innermost thoughts that appear to reveal your vulnerability. Actually, your main strengths are revealed, confirming why we love, respect and follow your lead in all things Aiki, AikiGeorge!

You certainly did not fail in any elemental way in refraining from visiting the Wrath of God George on this clueless and miserable person. Your final decisions valid why Aikido practice is so valuable, correct for the times, and a model for all martial arts situations today.

Our mutual friend indeed was traumatized by the incident, but she is of sterner stuff than her sneaky and snarky assailant, and she assured me that she will learn from this and survive just fine, thank you. She is indeed a treasure, and we are fortunate to have people like her in our seminars and our dojos.

Thanks again for this eye opening revelation of how a Master Shihan of Aikido walks his talk.

lbb
01-23-2011, 10:35 AM
I realized later what I should have done, was to walk and and stop the seminar right at that instant and tell the entire group what he had done. Shame him in front of everyone there. It would have served to warn everyone else and I suspect that after something like that, you wouldn't see him again at the seminar. It would have taken some Moxie to do it, but I think it would have been effective. Anyway, other avenues are being pursued...

Yeah, that would have taken quite a bit of crust...and then, you would have had the opportunity to see what the rest of your "Aikido family" is made of. If the reaction was, "Wow, the nerve of George, disturbing this event in such a way," well, that would have told you something. FWIW, knowing none of the people involved, there's no doubt in my mind that some people would have reacted this way out of simple reflex. Decorum and convention serve many good functions, but if they become objects of worship in and of themselves, they also provide a skilled manipulator/bully with places to hide. When decorum is outraged for a good reason, some people will never get it. You'll never get 100% consensus backing you in your right action, in any situation -- so I guess it's always possible to see yourself as the source of discord, when at most you could be said to be its proximate cause.

David Orange
01-23-2011, 11:17 AM
I realized later what I should have done, was to walk and and stop the seminar right at that instant and tell the entire group what he had done. Shame him in front of everyone there. It would have served to warn everyone else and I suspect that after something like that, you wouldn't see him again at the seminar. It would have taken some Moxie to do it, but I think it would have been effective. Anyway, other avenues are being pursued...

That might really have been the best. But the "other avenues" is also very strong.

Best to you.

David

David Orange
01-23-2011, 11:19 AM
Thanks again for this eye opening revelation of how a Master Shihan of Aikido walks his talk.

All hear!

David

mathewjgano
01-23-2011, 12:57 PM
I feel better now... I have taken some actions that may go some way towards taking care of the problem. I also found out some info that made me glad I didn't take the guy out on the spot... would have caused some other complications.

Not knowing what that information was, I think this is probably a good example of why it's generally not a good idea to thrash people, even when they almost certainly have earned it on some level.
Speaking as a "nice guy" who is big on talking about how people ought be kind to each other, etc., I also think it's crucial to address issues like this. A) the person clearly needs to have greater respect for training partners B) unprepared people need to be protected from guys like that. That injury shouldn't have happened in the first place, and clearly that guy needed to have someone point out that the general concensus wasn't in his favor.
That said, whatever that reasoning was which makes you feel a little better for not having taken him out, THAT is the reason for the "kindness throughout" approach. To my mind the idea is to allow for as much information as possible before taking action. "Action-first" approaches lend themselves to rash behavior, even if well-intentioned. "Kill 'em with kindness" usually works best in my experience. As soon as anger enters the interaction, it's hard for the offending person to see much else and they shut down, sticking to their indefensible guns.
...Some quick thoughts, at any rate.
Take care,
Matt

graham christian
01-23-2011, 02:53 PM
Ok Graham, I think I get where you are coming from... but maybe not as the discussion is a bit obscure. So let me take a more earthy and less intellectual example.

Last weekend I attended the Bridge seminar in San Diego conducted by Ikeda Sensei, Christian Tissier, and Doran Sensei. I had a wonderful time and found every single person I worked with to be a pleasure, with one exception.

I had a partner who chose to do a total passive aggressive number on me. It was Ikeda Sensei's class and he was as usual doing connection work. My partner gave me a grab with absolutely no energy in it, a completely uncommitted grab, and then proceeded to look away and watch everyone around me training. It was so monumentally disrespectful that it was clearly intentional. I have encountered guys who play this game before. They give you nothing until they feel you try to move to do what the Sensei did, then they counter you. So I just sat there looking at him. I could see it register that I wasn't even trying to do the technique, and he almost looked at me, but he caught himself and didn't react. So I started walking forward to get him to give me some energy but he simply refused to engage and he literally allowed me to back him into some other folks rather than give me anything to work with.

So, "little mind" George is telling me to knock this sucker cold for dissing me. He'd have never seen it coming because he was so busy not looking at me. But "big mind" George prevailed and took the "high road". It certainly wasn't my problem that this guy was such an "anal pore". He wasn't my student and not my responsibility although I cannot imagine what teacher tolerates such an idiot in his dojo. But, not my problem... So I did the proper thing and ignored him the rest of the weekend.

However, the next day I was happily training with someone and I looked over and saw one of my female friends on the side crying and holding her shoulder. I happened to know she had a very fragile shoulder from a previous accident and it had clearly been re-injured. So I went over and asked her if she was ok and what had happened. She said that someone had cranked her shoulder hard and re-injured it. This being after he was too rough and she had told him to go easier because she was hurt.

At that point I was pretty pissed. I decided to go out and train a bit with whomever had done it. At first she wouldn't tell me who had done it but I insisted and low and behold, it was my sphincter friend from the first day. Now this fellow as a very tall and pretty strong guy and my friend was a diminutive female of just over 100 lbs I would say with very fine bone structure. Certainly someone I would exercise the utmost care with under any circumstance.

Now, I am a fairly mellow guy normally. But there is one thing that is totally calculated to bring out what I call the Wrath of God George (some I keep deeply buried most of the time) and that is the kind of guy who when he trains with me, a big, senior guy, he gives me nothing and won't take the risk of even participating and then turns around and manhandles some virtually defenseless 6th kyu woman and actually injures her after being asked to go easier. That's not an accident at that point, that's intentional.

When I realized whom she had pointed out, I told her that I had wanted to go out and "play" with him, but because it was him in particular I didn't trust myself to do it. I was SO angry I could barely see straight. I came very close to full Wrath of God George and had I done so it would have been blood on the mat, broken bones time. So, I restrained myself. Instead I went to one of the hosts and told them what had happened. In talking to some other folks I discovered that virtually all the women who trained with him and felt that they had been manhandled. One of my female friends told me that she had come inches from attacking him herself.

Anyway, as far as I am concerned, two possible outcomes would have been appropriate. One was that I beat the crap out of this fellow... Good karmic payback within minutes of the offense and all that. The other would be that the seminar organizers had acted on the information I had given them and dis-invited him to any future events held by them. I think I would have felt ok about either one. In the end, to my knowledge, neither happened.

My wife was adamant that I should have taken the guy out, then and there. One of my other senior friends said he would have told the guy to meet him in the parking lot. I've spent some time thinking about why I ended up not nuking the guy. I'm pretty straight with myself that it wasn't because I was afraid of being hurt in getting into it. I am not saying that I couldn't have been, this guy was pretty strong. But I didn't think that possibility was what restrained me. I was actually afraid of being embarrassed on some level. I didn't want to create a scene, I didn't want to put out a lot of bad juju into an event that was so overwhelmingly positive. I think I didn't want people to see that not so wonderful party of me that I know is there but I keep hidden.

My wife, who comes from a rough tough Western martial arts background asked me what was wrong with Aikido people that they didn't protect their own? I have plenty of rational answers as to why I didn't but that's really all bullshit. I could have, I didn't and no one else to my knowledge did anything about the guy. He will almost certainly hurt someone else before he is done.

So, I don't feel at peace with the outcome. I don't feel that I did what needed to be done and I feel the system failed to do what it should have done. Justice was not done and someone else will certainly suffer for it.

So my question is, how does all this wonderful ki good stuff, treating people wonderfully, respectfully, etc which you seem to always do... How does that handle people who are simply not good people, who are victimizers and prey on the weak? Isn't it really the responsibility of the strong to protect those people who can't protect themselves? That's what I have always told my kids that martial arts is about. I feel like I failed to do that. I did what was civilized, I wasn't violent, I didn't disturb the "wa" of the event. But I feel like I failed in some elemental way.

So tell me, how does all of your good ki, mutual respect, perfect equanimity (which is impressive the way) handle bad stuff. Conflict resolution is easy when there's not much conflict. I am not happy with my efforts to be civilized in this case. I feel like I should have done Conan on this guy. Unless I am convinced otherwise, I think if I am ever on the mat with this guy again and I see him pulling this stuff again, I will not make the same choice at all.

Hi George, thanks for the response. It's a shame there wasn't a woman there who could pretend she was 'weak' and then give him the fright of his life.
On the situation you found yourself in I think you handled it perfectly from the view of budo as we all must do what we consider the best action at the time and then later in review look over what we could have done better and what it would have been better for others to do. So well done is all I can say there.
I have been in similar situations and many years ago I had found there was an Aikido dojo near a friends house and she wanted her son to learn some Aikido to try and get him on the straight and narrow so I advised her to send him there.
Two weeks later I visited her expecting good news and to my horror found that he had returned home black and blue and basically had been beaten to a pulp as a demonstration by the teacher to the class of what to do with a thug. She was very upset and so was I as I knew his intention to improve himself was real.
The next day I went to the teachers house, my friend had been told by my girlfriend that I was pretty pissed off which was a bit out of charachter for me and so he said he would drive me there. I left him in the car and told him not to worry as all I wanted to do was find out what had happened.
On entering the house and meeting the guy I introduced myself and told him why I was there. He got offended as if to say who the hell are you questioning what I do. I proceeded to explain I just wanted to know if the boy had done anything untoward or if there was something I hadn't been told. He proceeded to tell me it's none of my business and said he would now teach me a lesson.
He told me to take his wrist and as I did so he did a fast Kotei Geishe which didn't work. This made him angry accusing me of resisting at which point he threw some chairs and table out of the way, his wife left the room in a hurry and he told me to try that again. I saw the rage in his eyes and recocnized he was actually quite mad and that only made me think he's the one who needs the lesson. Anyway I proceeded to grab his wrist and then with all the power he could muster he proceeded to do a Kotei geishe twisting the hand at the same time designed to rip out all the tendons. I went with it entering in to the center of the technique dropping my elbow and turning into him whilst thrusting my elbow straight through his sternum and acrooss the floor and pinning him to the wall. I was now seeing red and wanted to break his kneck and the thought of what budo meant prevented me from doing so. I left without a word more, got in the car outside with my friend saying 'what happened?' and all I could say was drive! It took a few minutes for me to regain my composure at which point I said 'owww!' as I noticed and felt my wrist had been damaged, I had indeed strained a few tendons.
Now in review I wondered what the hell had happened there and was it all my fault etc. etc. but in the end decided I had done the best I could do at that time and yet could learn a lot of lessons from that experience for the future.
One lesson I learned there, after much soul searching and put down of self was the realization that I had actually been Kind. I had been in a position where I found I was willing to cause seriouse harm and the other person knew it and thus by not doing so left him knowing that and me free of Karma so to speak. Hence my view of kindness changed. I also learned that I had more to learn and if I knew the type of kokyu that O'Sensei had then it would have been simple and super effective without any anger or rage etc. (that's my opinion anyway)
So what I'm basically saying here George is that in my experience I have found that each time it was due to my not knowing the depths and power of these things called love, kindness, goodness etc. or if you like Ki, kokyu, center, koshi etc. And what really annoys us? Our own lack of Wisdom if wisdom is seen to mean that which brings about an optimum solution, a solution where all win. The fact that we can't see it doesn't mean there isn't one. What's the point of learning non-resistance if you can't non-resist agresssion, badness, unfairness etc.? What's the point of then gaining ability if you don't use it to help in some way in those precise situations? For me both should be done as I believe that is part of 'the way'.
Regards. G.

graham christian
01-23-2011, 03:57 PM
Graham,

There is another word you should also remember and that is kichigai--(changed ki or "different" ki)--when a person's ki becomes unnatural because of a sick way that they use it because of a sick way that they use their mind.

In fact, ki is neither good nor bad. It simply is. But it can be made good or bad through its close association with a good or bad mind.

Say a person like the Dalai Lama constantly turns his mind to helping and loving others. His ki becomes like his mind.

Then let's look at that fellow who shot the Congresswoman in Arizona. Or better yet, consider a child molester and murderer. His mind becomes so fascinated with horrible ideas and fixations that his very ki becomes transformed into something completely inhuman: ki chigai (different ki). His very ki becomes sick and evil--much worse than an innocent animal like a wolf or even a jackal. It's worse than an animal spirit. It is unfit for any human or animal interaction.

George Ledyard just gave you the example of the jerk who was passive toward strong men but manhandled small women. That jerk is verging on kichigai as well. Who knows? Maybe he's already there. Maybe he uses his aikido skill to rape women between seminars. He certainly seems to have a sick attitude toward women. So maybe he is kichigai. You see the effect his ki had on Ledyard Sensei and on the women who had contact with him. And all the friends of the man who shot the Congresswoman commented on how strange the man had become in the years leading up to the shooting. And then look at that totally insane face in the mug shots.

So there is definitely a kind of ki that does not merit respect and it's wrong to simply treat such people as we would treat someone who works to refine himself and care for others.

Aikido is a martial art that involves serious interplay with the ki of others. It is meant to protect our own ki against that of evil people and it is meant to be effective against such seriously maniacal people as the Arizona shooter. This kind of aikido must be oriented to certain main principles to maintain this kind of healthy viability. And the first aspect of that is Truth, carefully followed by Martial Effectiveness. Without Truth, there is no martial effectiveness, and without martial effectiveness, aikido is False or even worse. But the "quality control" aspect of aikido is not quite what it was fifty or sixty years ago and now some very strange people can teach whatever kind of misguided garbage their disoriented minds conjure up and call it aikido. Learning from a kichigai teacher is very unhealthy and therefore dangerous. But being a bully is not the only result of kichigai. It can go in all kinds of directions and the results on one's aikido are also very clear. One way is to become obsessive about "samurai spirit" and "honor" and "martial effectiveness" to the point of losing the ability to relate to normal people so that only bizarre people will train with them, resulting in even more unfit people gaining the ability to teach.

Another bad direction of aikido is to lose the orientation to Truth and Martial Effectiveness, to begin teaching something so lacking in martial effectiveness that it departs completely from the arena of Truth, itself. And a main refuge for such people is to devolve into a driveling fantasy of universal love that O Sensei would find utterly creepy (kimochi warui)--sickening or disgusting.

It is not our right to redefine aikido to whatever kind of self-aggrandizing fantasy play suits us--even in the name of "respecting" other people's ki. If you don't first respect the standard of Truth in aikido that was well established long ago, then every move you make on the mat and every word you speak about aikido is a manifestation of utter disrespect for Truth. So how then can you claim to respect anyone or anything? You're simply infecting them with disrespect for the Truth of what aikido is and therefore disrespect for what they are and what Life really is.

If that's what you're doing, then you've already become very close to kichigai and you will never get better by continuing in the same way.

Murderer, molester, manhandler, or just a fantasy dancer, it's all heading in the same kichigai and kimochi warui direction. The only difference is a matter of degree. And to teach that same attitude to others is a bigger disservice to them and to oneself than being a heroin addict. And while I respect ki and love humanity, I don't respect that kind of attitude, nor will I accord it any dignity or recognition at all.

If you see what I mean.

David

Hi David. I do indeed see what you meanbut I put it to you that still there is a discrepancy as to the use or even the truth of respect.
As you point out 'different' types of Ki I would say then that to that degree you have differenciatedwhich takes respect and that you acknowledge and respect the existence of both yet you do not agree with one. I am saying first and foremost it actually takes respect in order to see the difference without which a person would replace respect with denial or something else.
Now on to the point of passive aggressive. Then from that viewpoint you could call that negative Ki as well as your description of the fellow who shot the congressman. So yes I understand that and you could then go into all the different types of negative Ki. O.k. Understood.
So before you equate this view of mine with airy fairy or rose tinted glasses etc. let me give you an example. Through respect a person can differenciate and thus see the man who shot the congressman was mad and deluded and following some negative path with negative Ki. Through respect they can see that. Through sympathy you get people saying it wasn't his fault maybe. Thus there is no respect in sympathy. They are disregarding the horror of it, the harmfulness of it which makes them in agreement with it.
Those who arrogantly say that the congressman probably deserved it also have no respect for they are not seeing it either. Lack of respect equals blind to that degree. In true respect there is neither agreement nor disagreement there is merely the differenciation and acknowledgement of what is. THis can then be followed by appropriate action.
Finally, as you mention the word truth so often then I put it to you that when you come to terms with the truth of Ki in action you will have a better understanding.
Thanks for your input. G.

lbb
01-23-2011, 04:40 PM
I went with it entering in to the center of the technique dropping my elbow and turning into him whilst thrusting my elbow straight through his sternum and acrooss the floor and pinning him to the wall.

Really. That must have made quite a mess, with your elbow straight through his sternum. What did you do with the body?

graham christian
01-23-2011, 05:15 PM
Really. That must have made quite a mess, with your elbow straight through his sternum. What did you do with the body?

Your cheek must be getting quite a lot of exercise.(heh, heh)

lbb
01-23-2011, 05:19 PM
Your cheek must be getting quite a lot of exercise.(heh, heh)

You set 'em up, I knock 'em down.

danj
01-23-2011, 06:14 PM
Thanks George for the gift of continually sharing 'taboo topics' with or without answers, sometimes raw and touching. Its great encouragement for those of us a bit further down the path wondering at times if we are alone.

Andrew Macdonald
01-23-2011, 09:22 PM
He proceeded to tell me it's none of my business and said he would now teach me a lesson.

ah when aikidokas attack

and I thought all this time that a wrist grab would never happen in a real situation, I never thoguht of using the technique of asking the guy to grab my wrist.

sigh, i guess, there is always another mountain to climb

as for the rope theroy, i think there is something in what you say, but there is a danger of strecthing the analogy too far, like saying strands of rope are deluded. i think the analogy of the tree is a little more accurate from one root come many things, becasue the tree is growing and changing just like aikido

graham christian
01-23-2011, 09:51 PM
ah when aikidokas attack

and I thought all this time that a wrist grab would never happen in a real situation, I never thoguht of using the technique of asking the guy to grab my wrist.

sigh, i guess, there is always another mountain to climb

as for the rope theroy, i think there is something in what you say, but there is a danger of strecthing the analogy too far, like saying strands of rope are deluded. i think the analogy of the tree is a little more accurate from one root come many things, becasue the tree is growing and changing just like aikido

Hi Andrew, This may surprise you but I like that one better too. As a funny aside I'll tell you of another situation many moons ago.
A guy asked me, knowing what I did, what I would do if he smashed me over the head with the metal bar he was holding. As usual these charachters are partly sincere and partly just trying to prove something or other. I told him I didn't have a clue what I would do. To my amazement he then showed me what I would do, he said I would raise my hand up to protect myself and so he grabbed that wrist wiyh his free hand to show me how that removed my defence. A big mistake and actually amusing internally so to speak at the time, like manna from heaven.
So who knows what surprises life may bring.

jonreading
01-24-2011, 09:41 AM
While getting a little off subject... Respect is a great topic and one that I believe is central to the cultural differences between East and West.

We use the words and wear the pajamas, but I think the Western concept of dojo respect in the US is screwed up. I hope some of our Eastern friends join in on this but my observation here is that much of Eastern respect is set about establishing boundaries of class, culture and interaction. One of the Eastern uses of respect helps set boundaries for class interaction; i.e. the hierarchy of social order. Instances Like what Ledyard describe happen far too often in aikido. Very simply, we have an abuse of social order in aikido and our Western "civility" allows for that abuse, possibly because the abuser's parents did not love him enough, or too much, or in the wrong way.

What's worse, the current level of skill in aikido precludes the establishment of an "enforcer group" to keep these abusers in check. It is not appropriate for our shihan and leaders to embroil themselves in these lowly power plays. What George sensei really needed was a couple of ninja to drop from the sky and take care of business. Once upon a time, dai sempai took care of most of these individual matters before the students became accomplished martial artists; this was a trait ideally left at the door when you entered a dojo or beaten out of you soon after. Nowadays we have far too few 2, 3 and even 4 dans who cannot actually take care of business for sensei. We are also far too polite in allowing this behavior to persevere.

As that comment relates to the rope... Well these are the people making the rope bigger. I do not believe aikido needs these individuals and no, we cannot all get along. These people do not deserve respect because they do not care about respect outside of the confines of the tool used to insulate their actions. I don't want these people in my rope, do you?

lbb
01-24-2011, 11:49 AM
A guy asked me, knowing what I did, what I would do if he smashed me over the head with the metal bar he was holding. As usual these charachters are partly sincere and partly just trying to prove something or other. I told him I didn't have a clue what I would do. To my amazement he then showed me what I would do, he said I would raise my hand up to protect myself and so he grabbed that wrist wiyh his free hand to show me how that removed my defence.

It sounds like what he actually showed you was what you would do if he didn't smash you over the head with a metal bar, but grabbed your wrist instead. If he'd smashed you over the head with a metal bar, you'd have fallen to the ground and spent some time unconscious.

George S. Ledyard
01-24-2011, 12:00 PM
Well, Graham's original post triggered all this in my mind... Aikido is do identified with "conflict resolution" and "non-violence" but often in a very naive way that I think everyone doing the art should think hard about what these ideas mean in Aikido in particular and for a martial artists of any persuasion.

I sure everyone virtually anyone who has done Aikido for any length of time must have heard Terry Dobson's subway story about the aggressive drunk harassing folks on the train. Because an old man reacted to this aggressive behavior with compassion and kindness the guy ended up with his head in the old man's lap crying his eyes out.

This story is the "Gold Standard" for many Aikido folks in terms of their belief that a) man is fundamentally good and b) that if we just act nicely with each other, pretty much everything will be ok.

However, Ellis Amdur had a variation on the same story in which a predatory type approached him on the subway in Japan, showing every sign of attacking him just for the pure twisted joy of beating someone to a pulp. Ellis's response of mindful presence without an "opening" precluded the attack and this violent fellow decided Ellis was cool. Another victory for conflict resolution and non-violence, right?

Except that, in this instance we weren't talking about a drunk frustrated by his life who ends up crying like a baby. This fellow reacted to Ellis's warrior composure by inviting him to come along and find some girl to rape. Just what guys do for recreation on a Saturday night. So that left Ellis with the dilemma, did he do the right thing? Ellis actually had the skills to have removed this fellow from the gene pool. In the isolated instance, he acted impeccably. But in the larger sense would the world have actually been a substantially better place if he had just taken the guy out? This fellow was a predator. These guys don't often meet up with people who have the skills to deal with them. Predators who are successful develop the ability to find the weak prey. The amount of harm they do before their Karma catches up with them is enormous.

In another instance, the consequences of such a choice are actually known. A police friend and former student, with the King County Sherrif;s office up here in the Seattle area got a call from one of the local mental health facilities. The dispatcher said the a subject had show up and told the staff that he was feeling like going downtown and shooting people. That was all the info my friend had when he showed up. As he entered the building he found that the staff had talked the guy into giving them his car keys. Now the subject had pulled a knife and was demanding the keys back. It reaches the point at which this fellow was walking straight down a hallway towards my friend with my friend having drawn down on him.

My friend had actually gotten to the decision point and had mentally drawn a line at which he would shoot the subject who was continuing to ignore all his verbal instructions to drop the knife etc. My friend had actually stopped indexing and placed his finger on the trigger, and was one more step away from shooting when the subject sensed the shift in intention and dropped the knife and submitted. J.R. had done everything by the book, acted professionally, with clear intention and no fear. The outcome was praised by the department and the media. He did everything he should have done and the end result was a life saved.

The only problem here was that this fellow, who had been in the sights of J.R.'s gun, two months later was the guy that went into a Jewish community center in LA and shot some children. J.R. had to deal with the reality that his restraint, while totally correct in the circumstances, meant that a horrible crime was later committed. That's a hell of a dilemma.

Ellis never found out what the consequences were of his restraint. J.R. was faced with knowing that he had had it in his power to have prevented later violence perpetrated by this Neo-Nazi nut case.

So, in the Aikido case I described, after the fact, I have found that virtually everyone knew this fellow was a problem. He had gone through the whole event person by person and hardly anyone would train with him after their initial exposure. The big strong boys just decided he was a jerk and not worth working with. It was the smaller folks, especially the females who got manhandled until he finally hurt my friend.

Now one could say that those of us who chose not to take this guy out had taken the high road. That's the violence doesn't solve anything paradigm. Since there has to be a mechanism for dealing with things like this, one might maintain that the seminar organizers should act to ban this fellow from future events. Good solution for us, maybe we never see him again. But that doesn't mean he doesn't go to other events held by other organizations and hurt other people. It just means that we don't have to be aware of it. Is that really the correct thing? Isn't that just a way of passing the responsibility to deal with the problem, to protect the people who need protection, off to someone else. And how many folks get hurt before someone decides to render this guy incapable of hurting anyone else?

So, I am still ambivalent. I almost certainly have the ability to have ended this fellows aggression but chose not to. There will almost certainly be consequences for this fellow but not any that will keep him from hurting other people in the future, I just won't be seeing him do so. Is that really the correct result here? I have always believed that martial arts training was only partially about self defense. A more important responsibility was that those with the power to protect the folks who weren't empowered to protect themselves had an obligation to do so. Did I do that? I don't feel as if I did...

Saotome Sensei, who really does believe that Aikido is a trans-formative practice that really is about fostering peace on some level also is quick to point out that sometimes conflict resolution involves terminating one of the persons in the conflict, then there's no conflict. I am not saying that there is any easy answer to this issue, but it's one that I am interested in how the folks that think about Aikido as conflict resolution, as a way towards world peace, etc think about these things. I am somewhat in between on this; I do see Aikido as a transformational process which can by extension make the world a better place but at the same time, on issues like this, I tend to come down more on the "Crush your enemies, see them flee before you, hear the lamentation of their women" side of things. A tendency that I pretty much keep in check. But what are the instances in which I should not have. Is this one of them?

Basia Halliop
01-24-2011, 12:47 PM
It's so hard to know...

For one thing, it's not clear to me what exactly your options were where, or rather what consequences they would have had, if we're talking about violence.

You or someone else could have beat him up or frightened him badly. Would this have stopped him from bullying or beating up on smaller people (far away from you) again once he recovered? That's a psychology question really... Honestly, I doubt it... maybe he would have learned that it's stupid to beat up on smaller people where there's a large friend close by, but I personally doubt that would change his basic attitude or behaviour towards people smaller than him.... If he learned to respect you, it would be your ability to beat him up that he respected... so I would not expect him to develop any sudden respect for people HE can beat up, if they are vulnerable (which might include relatively friendless or unlikely to ask for help). If this offered any solution, IMO it would be a short-term, narrow, one.

If you had literally killed him, OK, he would be gone. (You would be in prison for life which would probably have effects for your family and others, etc, but that's another story).
But can one person really make the decision to kill another person, without trial, on the spot, because they frighten someone or give them a broken arm? What is 'bad enough' to merit instant death? What if he WAS treatable in this case? Or might there be larger ramifications to other people? Or what if you learned things the next day that made you realize this was a totally wrong decision? To me this isn't right either.... Nor is it a precedent I'd like to see accepted.

It's a more serious possibility if he was clearly trying to murder your friend or something, but...

I don't know, it's not an easy solution either way. On the one hand, it's unrealistic to assume that love and kind words can fix every single person or situation, on the other hand, just 'dealing with them' is most often not as simple or clear-cut option an option as it seems either.

I know it's a cliche, but isn't the complexity one of the reasons societies have systems in place like the legal system, police, social services, etc? So that people can be supervised and monitored, treated where possible, restrained where necessary, etc? And so that decisions made are made fairly based on agreed-upon principles, and to limit the mistakes of one person's judgment?

They clearly don't always work, but when is it a fault of the basic premise, and when is it a question of the particulars of the system?

lbb
01-24-2011, 01:07 PM
The only problem here was that this fellow, who had been in the sights of J.R.'s gun, two months later was the guy that went into a Jewish community center in LA and shot some children. J.R. had to deal with the reality that his restraint, while totally correct in the circumstances, meant that a horrible crime was later committed.

No. That isn't what his restraint meant. It wasn't even something that happened because of his restraint. It is something that would likely have been prevented had he not shown that restraint, but that's not the same thing.

So, in the Aikido case I described, after the fact, I have found that virtually everyone knew this fellow was a problem. He had gone through the whole event person by person and hardly anyone would train with him after their initial exposure. The big strong boys just decided he was a jerk and not worth working with. It was the smaller folks, especially the females who got manhandled until he finally hurt my friend.

Now one could say that those of us who chose not to take this guy out had taken the high road. That's the violence doesn't solve anything paradigm. Since there has to be a mechanism for dealing with things like this, one might maintain that the seminar organizers should act to ban this fellow from future events. Good solution for us, maybe we never see him again. But that doesn't mean he doesn't go to other events held by other organizations and hurt other people. It just means that we don't have to be aware of it. Is that really the correct thing? Isn't that just a way of passing the responsibility to deal with the problem, to protect the people who need protection, off to someone else. And how many folks get hurt before someone decides to render this guy incapable of hurting anyone else?

How would you render him incapable of hurting anyone else? By crippling him to the point where he could no longer use his arms and legs? That would probably do the trick. it would also most likely result in your going to prison for a long time.

Are you familiar with the movie "Sling Blade"? The central character is a man with mental issues who has spend most of his life in a mental institution after murdering his mother and her lover when he was still quite young. It's not made clear, but it sounds as if he was abused and neglected prior to that. After being institutionalized for decades, he is "de-institutionalized" -- put out on the street, not to put too fine a point on it. He ends up making friends and getting himself into a stable if unconventional situation. One of his friends is a single mother who is in an abusive relationship. It becomes clear throughout the movie that many people know, or can figure out, that her partner will eventually do serious harm to her or her child or both, quite likely killing them -- he's that out of control. Our main character can see this, too. He kills the abusive partner, and is sent back to the mental institution.

It is a hard, hard movie to watch, and one that I wish every person who ever gets self-righteously vengeful would be forced to watch. Everyone knew what was going to happen; nobody could act, because they knew what the consequences would be. The main character knew, too. He sacrificed himself and what had become for him a happy life, on his simple and undemanding terms. But no one would ever call him a hero for it, and he'd never see the light of day as a free man again. But there's more to be taken away from this movie than "he did the right thing". He did the best he could, with the tools that he had -- and those tools were so very, very limited. His reasoning and intellect were hampered, he had no money, no resources, no powerful friends. He didn't know how to work the social services machine. All he knew how to do was pick up a sling blade.

So, I am still ambivalent. I almost certainly have the ability to have ended this fellows aggression but chose not to. There will almost certainly be consequences for this fellow but not any that will keep him from hurting other people in the future, I just won't be seeing him do so. Is that really the correct result here? I have always believed that martial arts training was only partially about self defense. A more important responsibility was that those with the power to protect the folks who weren't empowered to protect themselves had an obligation to do so. Did I do that? I don't feel as if I did...

Maybe not, but maybe it's not over. You chose not to use the sling blade. Do you have only one tool to use, and only one opportunity to use it?

My ideal solution, in a case like this, would be for the offender to make things right. I don't really understand why, but it seems like this is always dismissed as a possible solution...that it's so much "common wisdom" that this can't possibly work, that no one ever tries it. But I wonder what it would be like. So you've hurt someone's shoulder? Fine. They can't mow their lawn; you must go to their house and mow it for them. They can't lift heavy objects; you must do all their fetching and carrying. They can't drive their car; you must transport them anywhere they need to go. You must pay their medical costs, in full, up front. You must compensate them for lost work time. If/when they are ready to resume training, you must curtail your training to accommodate their needs. If they do not feel comfortable with you as a partner, you may not bow to anyone when it's time to choose partners. You must sit out until your victim has a partner to work with, and if that means you sit out period, then you sit out. If they do not feel comfortable in the same class as you, you may not be in the dojo when they train. You must, in short, experience their loss and inconvenience as fully as it is possible to do so, short of being in their skin. You must do whatever is possible to mend the damage.

I can't think of a better way both to help the victim mend, and help the offender really understand the magnitude of his offense -- and that experience is the only thing that can really teach someone like this not to do it again, because it shows him both sides of the consequences. If some third party tees off on the guy, it may be necessary in the situation...but it seems to me that it won't really address either of the problems I just named. It will also not solve the problem of the guy going down the road and doing harm to someone else. I'm a pragmatist too; I look on the statement "Aikido is love" with great skepticism. But I know, as a matter of fact, that we (society, the right-thinking people, the cops, the Aikido community) will never, never be able to restrain people as well as they can restrain themselves. That's where the biggest win is, teaching restraint. It won't work every time, but it's better than having your only tool be a sling blade.

jonreading
01-24-2011, 03:14 PM
As an aside to the direction of the thread, I'll start by saying, who ever said the life-taking sword was bad? It is an ideal situation to apply the principles of katsujinken, but why did we decide taking life was bad? Isn't it situational?

We like to hide behind the morals of our society. "it's not my business", "I'd go to jail", "he'll stop soon". Isn't the truth of it that we don't value another's life above our own? By saying, "Well, I would've hurt this fellow, but I didn't want to go to jail," aren't we really saying, "this person's safety is less valuable than the chance I might be convicted of inappropriately acting?" Faced with the consequence of our actions, aren't we just a little cowardly when it comes to acting? How do we stand and talk to a battered wife (or husband)? What about seeing the fear in a child's eyes whose parents hurt her? Conflict resolution indeed. Most of use are more noble in word than we ever are in action.

Basia Halliop
01-24-2011, 04:21 PM
It is an ideal situation to apply the principles of katsujinken, but why did we decide taking life was bad?

Isn't the truth of it that we don't value another's life above our own?

Uh, no... it's exactly the opposite. I must not be getting your point, because to me it's too obvious a statement to understand how one could come to that conclusion.

Taking life is bad because we value life.

So far in the examples I've read it wasn't even a question of choosing one life over another (i.e., protecting someone, whether ourself or another person, who was going to be killed). At least there there is a real moral question.

Even in that case, I would argue that killing a human being is not exactly 'good'. I can accept that it might be less bad than any of the other alternatives available....

Demetrio Cereijo
01-24-2011, 05:25 PM
Taking life is bad because we value life.

Taking life is bad because we value our own life, and we are not wired to coldly take take another human life.

George S. Ledyard
01-24-2011, 06:44 PM
What is interesting to me is looking at how complex our discussion of the one on one scenario(s) described has been, with a wide variety of viewpoints, every one of them a perfectly valid take on the issue, how is it that the discussions of use of force on the macro level, i.e. war, seem so much more simplistic?

It seems to me that human beings seem to make hold a different set of opinions when an issue is manageable like the one on one scenarios described here and tend to hold often contradictory beliefs as soon as we are talking about groups, societies, or countries. One would think that given the consequences folks would be doubly and triply resistant to larger scale conflict when actually it seems that, often, the very same person who on and individual level would praise restraint, promote the rule of law over use of violence, and be very critical of non-proportional reactions to conflicts will simultaneously be willing to use force on the macro level much more readily than at the individual level.

We went into Viet Nam simply because Kennedy was terribly embarrassed by the Bay of Pigs fiasco and was looking for someplace he could show the Right that he was tough on Communism and wasn't a whimp. The American public which largely had no idea where Viet Nam even was on a map at that time, simply went along with the whole thing. There was very little if any debate of the kind that we seem to be able to generate over responses to a one on one situation. Is it merely because the one on one seems comprehensible to people but the macro issues seem too complex?

I am not saying that no one generates this kind of discussion. But it seems like there is a huge disconnect between the way most folks in our society treat the individual and his interactions and how they think about the society, which is merely made up of lots of individuals, think about these same issues.Just something that occrred tro me while rereading the various takes on the thread.

graham christian
01-24-2011, 07:51 PM
No. That isn't what his restraint meant. It wasn't even something that happened because of his restraint. It is something that would likely have been prevented had he not shown that restraint, but that's not the same thing.

How would you render him incapable of hurting anyone else? By crippling him to the point where he could no longer use his arms and legs? That would probably do the trick. it would also most likely result in your going to prison for a long time.

Are you familiar with the movie "Sling Blade"? The central character is a man with mental issues who has spend most of his life in a mental institution after murdering his mother and her lover when he was still quite young. It's not made clear, but it sounds as if he was abused and neglected prior to that. After being institutionalized for decades, he is "de-institutionalized" -- put out on the street, not to put too fine a point on it. He ends up making friends and getting himself into a stable if unconventional situation. One of his friends is a single mother who is in an abusive relationship. It becomes clear throughout the movie that many people know, or can figure out, that her partner will eventually do serious harm to her or her child or both, quite likely killing them -- he's that out of control. Our main character can see this, too. He kills the abusive partner, and is sent back to the mental institution.

It is a hard, hard movie to watch, and one that I wish every person who ever gets self-righteously vengeful would be forced to watch. Everyone knew what was going to happen; nobody could act, because they knew what the consequences would be. The main character knew, too. He sacrificed himself and what had become for him a happy life, on his simple and undemanding terms. But no one would ever call him a hero for it, and he'd never see the light of day as a free man again. But there's more to be taken away from this movie than "he did the right thing". He did the best he could, with the tools that he had -- and those tools were so very, very limited. His reasoning and intellect were hampered, he had no money, no resources, no powerful friends. He didn't know how to work the social services machine. All he knew how to do was pick up a sling blade.

Maybe not, but maybe it's not over. You chose not to use the sling blade. Do you have only one tool to use, and only one opportunity to use it?

My ideal solution, in a case like this, would be for the offender to make things right. I don't really understand why, but it seems like this is always dismissed as a possible solution...that it's so much "common wisdom" that this can't possibly work, that no one ever tries it. But I wonder what it would be like. So you've hurt someone's shoulder? Fine. They can't mow their lawn; you must go to their house and mow it for them. They can't lift heavy objects; you must do all their fetching and carrying. They can't drive their car; you must transport them anywhere they need to go. You must pay their medical costs, in full, up front. You must compensate them for lost work time. If/when they are ready to resume training, you must curtail your training to accommodate their needs. If they do not feel comfortable with you as a partner, you may not bow to anyone when it's time to choose partners. You must sit out until your victim has a partner to work with, and if that means you sit out period, then you sit out. If they do not feel comfortable in the same class as you, you may not be in the dojo when they train. You must, in short, experience their loss and inconvenience as fully as it is possible to do so, short of being in their skin. You must do whatever is possible to mend the damage.

I can't think of a better way both to help the victim mend, and help the offender really understand the magnitude of his offense -- and that experience is the only thing that can really teach someone like this not to do it again, because it shows him both sides of the consequences. If some third party tees off on the guy, it may be necessary in the situation...but it seems to me that it won't really address either of the problems I just named. It will also not solve the problem of the guy going down the road and doing harm to someone else. I'm a pragmatist too; I look on the statement "Aikido is love" with great skepticism. But I know, as a matter of fact, that we (society, the right-thinking people, the cops, the Aikido community) will never, never be able to restrain people as well as they can restrain themselves. That's where the biggest win is, teaching restraint. It won't work every time, but it's better than having your only tool be a sling blade.

Wow! Had to comment on this Mary because it's so well put and even a touch emotional. Loved the make things right examples.
Regards.G,

graham christian
01-24-2011, 09:35 PM
Hi George. May I share some thoughts of mine with you that may or may not help in your diliberations for it is this type of looking and wondering that I have been doing since I started Aikido because I believed the answers I was looking for were in this field.
I'll start with the two analogies of the drunk in the train and the predator one.
I have been accused of being too simplistic in what I say sometimes but what I do is look at something and search for a basic simplicity to do with something and then test that simplicity to see if it works, if it applies and thus discern how near the truth that simplicity is. It is then like a seed which grows ands expands to new understandings, hence that is my general way of teaching and studying etc.
The reason I say this is because I hold one as true and that is that all people are BASICALLY good and loving. Thus to the degree they are not being so or acting so is to the degree they are not being their true self. So in the example of the drunk on the train I see the wisdom of the man reaching past the 'mask' and drama of the drunk and connecting with that basic individual.
In the second example you gave of the threatening predator I think this brings us to a new look based on the same simplicity. He not only calmly reached through to the person, it was the case of doing exactly the same thing with a more dangerous person.
This takes courage and discipline, but discipline in what?
When I look at these type of charachters be they bullies or predators or gangsters etc I once again look for the simplicity which brings more understanding and sense into the thoughts. Thus I see that they all rely on fear which brings me to an important point here. If you can reach them with no fear then they have no 'power' so to speak, no game, they get scared and back off or try to be friendly or whatever but the game has changed.
Another important point here is to look at the person who is confronting without fear in fact I would say the person who has learned to face things with no negative emotion and that to me is all part of budo and the 'no mind' concept.
So I believe that when you learn to act let's say in a martial art where you are continually put in positions representing someone trying to harm or control or dominate you then it is the perfect situation for learning bit by bit how to let go of negative emotions when the situation triggers them.
And what is left when you let go of those negative emotions? Your true self, your loving self, your good self, complete with immovable mind, Ki, connection, calmness yet a willingness and readyness to act etc. etc. This is my view and where I see it pertinent for me in Aikido.
Unfortunately in life and films we are shown that this state of being equates only with the warrior or samurai if you like ready to kill. Well to me the person who learns to suppress all feeling in order to be 'calm' and focussed in order to harm or kill is kind of at the other end of the scale, cold.
O.k. so then that leads us to understand why we don't like to see or allow harmful actions, because we are basically good. So what should we do in the situations like you were in?
The best non-harmful action possible for us at that time I believe.Thus remaining true to ourself.
Now having said that I would say that when you had that situation and did what you did most people who responded admired it for you didn't give in to the negative emotion and still carried on to try and not only make others aware or the situation but to try and get something done about it. That's all you can do.
What I believe then happens is your actions, your budo if you like has communicated and reverberated through the apathy and although the result isn't instantanious it will nonetheless have woken some others up and thus will lead to a desired result somewhere along the line.
Finally may I give you my view on how from where you are in your life, acting with budo in all that you do, without anger and fear etc, it itself is noticed, it itself brings others to want to know how you handle things so calmly, so definitely etc yet with consideration and thoughtfulness and thus it spreads out to others doing the same thing in their walks of life, organically so to speak.
Of course that is put very simplistically but think about it. If you wonder about areas out of your control like politics, war etc I ask you is it really? For if a military man or a politition or someone in charge of justice or whoever sees how you act and handle things and is drawn to learn from you then the door opens to teach them true budo and a more enlghtened way of looking at things in their area and thus......
Of course many yeah but what ifs can come up but the thing to me is do I let them take me away from my true self?
More food for thought if nothing else. Thanks for listening.
Regards. G.

Andrew Macdonald
01-24-2011, 09:37 PM
I remember being in a simlilar situation to the ones that are under discussion. A visiting student came to the dojo and he was doing a different more flashy style of aikido than what we were used to. he started going hard on a few of the smaller people and a few of the women. so i went to train with him for the rest of the night, not to go hard on him and teach him a lesson, but to protect others fromhim, I am a little bigger and stronger than most of the people i train with.
we trained he went strong on me so i matched his verocity, but with no aggression. if he took advantage when he was pinning me i told him it wasn;t needed and we continued.

I am quiet sure he learnt nothing from that session, but in my own little way i feel that i protected the smaller people in my dojo from an over zealous student.

of course this wasn;t the best answer to any situation, I have also seen myself step out of acceptabl;e behaviour and dropping someone in the dojo with a punch for being an ass. but every situation, needs its own answer

I like to feel that I at least learn something along the way

graham christian
01-24-2011, 09:59 PM
Mary, your post made me remember something I saw on t.v. a couple of years ago but unfortunately I don't remember the womans name or even the name of the program but it was about a woman in the U.S. (I think it was in new york) who came up with an idea and put it to work and it was actually hugely successful.
She presented her idea as a very simple thing. She said she believed many of the people in prison were the victim of their own wrong view and choices in life and said to look at it like a set of scales where the karma of their own wrongdoings far outweighed their useful good deeds and thus that's why they end up where they are.
The idea she gave to the powers that be was that she was willing to put her theory to the test that if any prisoner agreed with this point of view (I don't think this included all kinds of prisoners by the way) then she would set up what she called a second chance. A chance to redress the balance. So she got in touch with various businesses from restaurants to warehouse etc and set up a syatem whereby prisoners were given to her and she got them into work and set the rules and thus they had to work constructively for I think it was two years without straying in order to redress the balance. It was a fantastic success and I'm sure it must still be going now.
Not as direct as the idea you were saying but one that is in operation somewhere in theU.S.
Regards,G.

lbb
01-25-2011, 08:17 AM
Hi Graham,

I have heard of victim restitution, and I believe it is at least theoretically available as part of a judgment in US courts, but I can't think of an actual case where I've seen it practiced...which is a shame. I suspect the reason why it isn't practiced more is because it's messy, it's not simple, so it doesn't appeal to a bureaucracy that is just trying to get things to move along. And, to get more fuzzy about it, because it is a practice that (even in its most bureaucratized form) is done in the spirit of openness that you talk about above, it is vulnerable. People become vulnerable when they practice it, both those making restitution who must truly admit their fault, and those accepting restitution who must let go of their grudge. And the practice itself is vulnerable to attack because it is messy and the accounting is never perfect. People will always attack it, saying that the restitution does not fully measure up to the harm.

But a perfect accounting is never possible. In Rwanda, following the genocide of 1994, the new government was faced with a seemingly impossible task: hundreds of thousands of prisoners who had committed horrible crimes, and a court system that was more than decimated, as so many judges had been murdered in the genocide. Trying all these criminals by the conventional means was clearly impossible. Rather than attempt it, the Rwandan government instituted the gacaca court, a community-based system of public trials in which the victims or their survivors confront the accused, members of the community speak for or against the defendant, and a judgment is reached by a panel of judges who are also community members. The gacaca court can sentence defendants to prison terms, but also can sentence them to community service ("work in the general interest" it's called) and can fine them for restitution.

The ins and outs of the gacaca system aren't the point I'm trying to make, though -- the point is that it isn't perfect. It tries to strike a balance between making things right for the victim, helping a community that was harmed, and when necessary, removing a dangerous person from the community. It does what it can in all these areas. It does not pretend to be perfect justice. But it accomplishes more than an insistence on a perfect solution would. It accomplishes far more than would be accomplished if everyone concerned insisted on older-style formal trials.

I'm not proposing a gacaca court for the Aikido community. I'm using the gacaca court as an example of finding a third way. The more I think about George's story, the more "third ways" occur to me: none of them perfect, none of them comprehensive. But they're also mostly not mutually exclusive. If you claim that your solution offers Justice-with-a-capital-J, then it has to be the end of things: once your solution has been implemented, no further attempts at justice can be made, and if your justice turns out to not be perfect (shh, not supposed to say that), then nobody can do anything to fix the harm that is left. But if you claim instead that your partial solution is just one of many, then it can be useful. In this case, for example, you've got an injured person. We tend to focus first and foremost on the person who did the harm, and to put all the responsibility on them -- and ideally that's where the restitution would come from. But in the meanwhile...you've got an injured person. What can others in the community do to help her? How can they make it possible for her to continue training? What can they offer in the way of patience, guidance, willingness to practice, encouragement? Is there a medical professional or bodyworker in the dojo community that can help? What can the community do so that she doesn't have to go through this alone?

Basia Halliop
01-25-2011, 09:06 AM
What is interesting to me is looking at how complex our discussion of the one on one scenario(s) described has been, with a wide variety of viewpoints, every one of them a perfectly valid take on the issue, how is it that the discussions of use of force on the macro level, i.e. war, seem so much more simplistic?

For one thing, things that are further away from us just tend to seem simpler... Most of us have never actually been to the countries our countries tend to get into conflicts with. They're almost more abstract ideas than real places.

Also most of us are not personally involved in the use of force in those situations, and most of us have never personally killed someone in front of us so our imagination is not as vivid as in the more local, one-on-one scenarios. Even the military has found for some time that remote weapons have a lot of pyschological advantages in addition to the practical ones.

Of course when there are more individuals involved really it's a more complex situation, not a simpler one. But the human mind can't really comprehend such large numbers of people, I don't think... beyond a few dozen people almost any group starts to seem like a mass rather than individuals, IMO.... IMO the increased complexity overwhelms our processing power.

The other thing that makes the discussions often seem simpler, IMO, is simply that there are more people involved in the discussion... Get two people together to debate something that concerns them both and they will often (not always) have quite nuanced complicated discussions (both for and against, BTW - I'm not suggesting it's just the people who say go to war that get oversimplistic -- everyone tends to). Get a few million people together to debate something and the shared discussion often tends to get simpler and simpler until it's reduced to a few bullet points.

Basia Halliop
01-25-2011, 09:13 AM
Regarding restorative justice, I don't know about the states, but here it exists in certain limited circumstances, if both parties want it... Primarily it's associated with aboriginal communities at this point.

http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/prg/cor/res_justice-eng.aspx
http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/pi/pcvi-cpcv/res-rep.html

Amir Krause
01-27-2011, 09:23 AM
Well, Graham's original post triggered all this in my mind... Aikido is do identified with "conflict resolution" and "non-violence" but often in a very naive way that I think everyone doing the art should think hard about what these ideas mean in Aikido in particular and for a martial artists of any persuasion.

I sure everyone virtually anyone who has done Aikido for any length of time must have heard Terry Dobson's subway story about the aggressive drunk harassing folks on the train. Because an old man reacted to this aggressive behavior with compassion and kindness the guy ended up with his head in the old man's lap crying his eyes out.

This story is the "Gold Standard" for many Aikido folks in terms of their belief that a) man is fundamentally good and b) that if we just act nicely with each other, pretty much everything will be ok.

However, Ellis Amdur had a variation on the same story in which a predatory type approached him on the subway in Japan, showing every sign of attacking him just for the pure twisted joy of beating someone to a pulp. Ellis's response of mindful presence without an "opening" precluded the attack and this violent fellow decided Ellis was cool. Another victory for conflict resolution and non-violence, right?

Except that, in this instance we weren't talking about a drunk frustrated by his life who ends up crying like a baby. This fellow reacted to Ellis's warrior composure by inviting him to come along and find some girl to rape. Just what guys do for recreation on a Saturday night. So that left Ellis with the dilemma, did he do the right thing? Ellis actually had the skills to have removed this fellow from the gene pool. In the isolated instance, he acted impeccably. But in the larger sense would the world have actually been a substantially better place if he had just taken the guy out? This fellow was a predator. These guys don't often meet up with people who have the skills to deal with them. Predators who are successful develop the ability to find the weak prey. The amount of harm they do before their Karma catches up with them is enormous.

In another instance, the consequences of such a choice are actually known. A police friend and former student, with the King County Sherrif;s office up here in the Seattle area got a call from one of the local mental health facilities. The dispatcher said the a subject had show up and told the staff that he was feeling like going downtown and shooting people. That was all the info my friend had when he showed up. As he entered the building he found that the staff had talked the guy into giving them his car keys. Now the subject had pulled a knife and was demanding the keys back. It reaches the point at which this fellow was walking straight down a hallway towards my friend with my friend having drawn down on him.

My friend had actually gotten to the decision point and had mentally drawn a line at which he would shoot the subject who was continuing to ignore all his verbal instructions to drop the knife etc. My friend had actually stopped indexing and placed his finger on the trigger, and was one more step away from shooting when the subject sensed the shift in intention and dropped the knife and submitted. J.R. had done everything by the book, acted professionally, with clear intention and no fear. The outcome was praised by the department and the media. He did everything he should have done and the end result was a life saved.

The only problem here was that this fellow, who had been in the sights of J.R.'s gun, two months later was the guy that went into a Jewish community center in LA and shot some children. J.R. had to deal with the reality that his restraint, while totally correct in the circumstances, meant that a horrible crime was later committed. That's a hell of a dilemma.

Ellis never found out what the consequences were of his restraint. J.R. was faced with knowing that he had had it in his power to have prevented later violence perpetrated by this Neo-Nazi nut case.

So, in the Aikido case I described, after the fact, I have found that virtually everyone knew this fellow was a problem. He had gone through the whole event person by person and hardly anyone would train with him after their initial exposure. The big strong boys just decided he was a jerk and not worth working with. It was the smaller folks, especially the females who got manhandled until he finally hurt my friend.

Now one could say that those of us who chose not to take this guy out had taken the high road. That's the violence doesn't solve anything paradigm. Since there has to be a mechanism for dealing with things like this, one might maintain that the seminar organizers should act to ban this fellow from future events. Good solution for us, maybe we never see him again. But that doesn't mean he doesn't go to other events held by other organizations and hurt other people. It just means that we don't have to be aware of it. Is that really the correct thing? Isn't that just a way of passing the responsibility to deal with the problem, to protect the people who need protection, off to someone else. And how many folks get hurt before someone decides to render this guy incapable of hurting anyone else?

So, I am still ambivalent. I almost certainly have the ability to have ended this fellows aggression but chose not to. There will almost certainly be consequences for this fellow but not any that will keep him from hurting other people in the future, I just won't be seeing him do so. Is that really the correct result here? I have always believed that martial arts training was only partially about self defense. A more important responsibility was that those with the power to protect the folks who weren't empowered to protect themselves had an obligation to do so. Did I do that? I don't feel as if I did...

Saotome Sensei, who really does believe that Aikido is a trans-formative practice that really is about fostering peace on some level also is quick to point out that sometimes conflict resolution involves terminating one of the persons in the conflict, then there's no conflict. I am not saying that there is any easy answer to this issue, but it's one that I am interested in how the folks that think about Aikido as conflict resolution, as a way towards world peace, etc think about these things. I am somewhat in between on this; I do see Aikido as a transformational process which can by extension make the world a better place but at the same time, on issues like this, I tend to come down more on the "Crush your enemies, see them flee before you, hear the lamentation of their women" side of things. A tendency that I pretty much keep in check. But what are the instances in which I should not have. Is this one of them?

You do know there is a few additional very simple solutions for this case:
* Has anyone confronted this guy, verbally. Anyone put the mirror to his face?
* You are writing in one of the strongest tool of the modern world - social networks. You and the others could write the story of that seminar and others, with the names of all involved, in multiple places that would keep appearing whenever anyone looks around. That would make it much harder for this aggressive person to appear in almost any seminar.

I remember being in a simlilar situation to the ones that are under discussion. A visiting student came to the dojo and he was doing a different more flashy style of aikido than what we were used to. he started going hard on a few of the smaller people and a few of the women. so i went to train with him for the rest of the night, not to go hard on him and teach him a lesson, but to protect others fromhim, I am a little bigger and stronger than most of the people i train with.
we trained he went strong on me so i matched his verocity, but with no aggression. if he took advantage when he was pinning me i told him it wasn;t needed and we continued.

I am quiet sure he learnt nothing from that session, but in my own little way i feel that i protected the smaller people in my dojo from an over zealous student.

of course this wasn;t the best answer to any situation, I have also seen myself step out of acceptabl;e behaviour and dropping someone in the dojo with a punch for being an ass. but every situation, needs its own answer

I like to feel that I at least learn something along the way

Actually, I believe you did choose the best solution for that situation.
As you described it, your visitor was used to practice in that way, in his mind, he just acted as he would have in his regular dojo. He was not aggressive in his mind, and he did act the same way towards both you and smaller people.
This is an example of styles differing. Very far from the situation described before.

Amir

Amir Krause
01-27-2011, 10:01 AM
What is interesting to me is looking at how complex our discussion of the one on one scenario(s) described has been, with a wide variety of viewpoints, every one of them a perfectly valid take on the issue, how is it that the discussions of use of force on the macro level, i.e. war, seem so much more simplistic?

It seems to me that human beings seem to make hold a different set of opinions when an issue is manageable like the one on one scenarios described here and tend to hold often contradictory beliefs as soon as we are talking about groups, societies, or countries. One would think that given the consequences folks would be doubly and triply resistant to larger scale conflict when actually it seems that, often, the very same person who on and individual level would praise restraint, promote the rule of law over use of violence, and be very critical of non-proportional reactions to conflicts will simultaneously be willing to use force on the macro level much more readily than at the individual level.

We went into Viet Nam simply because Kennedy was terribly embarrassed by the Bay of Pigs fiasco and was looking for someplace he could show the Right that he was tough on Communism and wasn't a whimp. The American public which largely had no idea where Viet Nam even was on a map at that time, simply went along with the whole thing. There was very little if any debate of the kind that we seem to be able to generate over responses to a one on one situation. Is it merely because the one on one seems comprehensible to people but the macro issues seem too complex?

I am not saying that no one generates this kind of discussion. But it seems like there is a huge disconnect between the way most folks in our society treat the individual and his interactions and how they think about the society, which is merely made up of lots of individuals, think about these same issues.Just something that occrred tro me while rereading the various takes on the thread.

I have often heard people talk about the difficulty in human perception of the big-picture when more then very few people are were harmed. We can easily identify with one person, or two, but once thousands or more are involved, we loose the personal identification and sympathy.

Yet, around here, I recall lots and lots of discussions on the reactions of the Govt. with regard to "similar issues". You would be surprised at the variety of opinions suggested, even from a single person regarding very similar situations, with different history and connection.
But I think the above principle does hold, in the sense that people often discuss such issues from a logical preceptive, or from their group POV, but fail to think of the other groups feelings.

Amir