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edshockley
03-14-2011, 10:03 AM
My small production company, Mosaic Theatre Productions, is completing a short film focusing on the physical and spiritual health benefits of Aikido. Because I personally train at Aikikai of Philadelphia I am focusing primarily on that dojo and Henry Smith Shihan but would like two things from the Aikido community. First, I'd like to share the trailer and welcome comments and suggestions. (Is it clear, is it truthful, properly reverent etc.) Second, I welcome any comments about health impacts (good and bad) and practical applications (both spiritual and martial). Our hope is to complete the film at USAF summer camp with a final set of interviews and I'd like to identify the subjects in advance. The trailer can be seen on youtube under the title "THE ART OF PEACE TRAILER MOSAIC" or at mosaictheatreproductions.com. (Sorry, I couldn't figure out how to hyperlink the connection.)]

Ed Shockley
(San dan)

Gorgeous George
03-14-2011, 10:30 AM
Here you go:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_suHzeEc8zw

lbb
03-14-2011, 12:17 PM
My own belief is that aikido is not a spiritual practice and should not be promoted as such, but this opinion tends to enrage people who would believe otherwise. I'm sure it's a very spiritual sort of rage, though.

Russ Q
03-14-2011, 02:22 PM
Don't know what your budget is like but you might consider hiring a professional narrator. The flute music has been done to death for this kind of thing too....If you're aiming for an audience outside of aikido then you're on the right track...if you are thinking your audience are aikidoists then you should make sure you have lots of substance and ask pithy questions of your shihan and other higher ups.....

My two cents and good luck!

Russ

dave9nine
03-14-2011, 02:39 PM
My own belief is that aikido is not a spiritual practice and should not be promoted as such, but this opinion tends to enrage people who would believe otherwise. I'm sure it's a very spiritual sort of rage, though.

even if O-sensei promoted it as such?

dps
03-14-2011, 05:08 PM
How did O'Sensei's life before he met Takeda affect his spiritual/religious life.

How did WWII affect O'Sensei's teaching of Aikido?

dps

AsimHanif
03-14-2011, 05:32 PM
Very nice start Ed.

Asim

graham christian
03-14-2011, 06:35 PM
Nice intro. Like the background. I find nothing wrong with it, in fact it get's me interested. It's like the beginning of a flow and I want to see where it leads.

The only suggestion I could make is carry on and don't be put off by anything.

Regards.G.

Michael Hackett
03-14-2011, 06:42 PM
Ed,
Film is an art form and this film is your canvas. Follow your own muse to develop what you envision and the heck with what anyone else says. Be true to yourself. A camel is a horse designed by a committee. Best of luck with your project.

Shadowfax
03-14-2011, 06:47 PM
I kinda wished the preview had been a bit longer. It peaked my interest a little. Feels a little like it needs polishing but I suspect that is because it does, since it is not complete yet. I think I would like to see the finished film. :)

Tenyu
03-14-2011, 08:13 PM
even if O-sensei promoted it as such?

There's no difference between the material and the spiritual.

"Heaven is here on earth and men do not see it."

lbb
03-14-2011, 08:36 PM
even if O-sensei promoted it as such?

Based on what is taught today? Absolutely.

Mind you, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. I don't think that spiritual practices are a bad thing, I don't think that non-spiritual practices are a bad thing. I do think there's a certain baseline for something to qualify as a spiritual practice and a spiritual teaching, and I don't think aikido qualifies today, if it ever did.

Gorgeous George
03-15-2011, 09:55 AM
I do think there's a certain baseline for something to qualify as a spiritual practice and a spiritual teaching, and I don't think aikido qualifies today, if it ever did.

What do you mean?

ninjaqutie
03-15-2011, 05:58 PM
Not bad

Insane Duane
03-15-2011, 11:29 PM
Hello Ed, Looks good to me. Many people have their own take on what Aikido is and it's purpose, so my suggestion is go with your interpretation.

Mary: I tend to agree with you since I'm in it mainly for its self defense aspect. That being said I believe a spiritual component shows itself after doing it for many years BUT that can be said for many things in life. Making music, ceramics... what ever. I suppose the spiritual aspect I am thinking of is becoming ONE with what you are doing, blending if you will. To sum it up, Zen.

lbb
03-16-2011, 09:47 AM
What do you mean?

I mean that a teaching does not become a "spiritual teaching" nor a practice a "spiritual practice" merely by virtue of an occasional vague feeling of something more than the immediate physical sensation. Proust's experience with the madeleine was that, yet it would be a hell of a stretch to call it a moment of spiritual insight. Spiritual teachings and practices are acts just like teaching someone carpentry or practicing carpentry: you aren't teaching carpentry if you occasionally show people a picture of a table or a house but never actually teach them how to create those things, and you aren't practicing carpentry unless you actually pick up tools and build something.

Gorgeous George
03-16-2011, 10:17 AM
I mean that a teaching does not become a "spiritual teaching" nor a practice a "spiritual practice" merely by virtue of an occasional vague feeling of something more than the immediate physical sensation. Proust's experience with the madeleine was that, yet it would be a hell of a stretch to call it a moment of spiritual insight. Spiritual teachings and practices are acts just like teaching someone carpentry or practicing carpentry: you aren't teaching carpentry if you occasionally show people a picture of a table or a house but never actually teach them how to create those things, and you aren't practicing carpentry unless you actually pick up tools and build something.

Isn't practicing aikido - the techniques - akin to picking up tools and building things in carpentry?
Isn't (one aspect of) the spiritual component of aikido the fact that by practicing natural movements - like those in yoga, for example - we bring about our natural state - i.e., do something analogous to building a table?
As a result, we follow natural principles in our daily lives - as a consequence of abstraction, and habituation.

Tony Wagstaffe
03-16-2011, 04:14 PM
What do you mean?

It means you go to church and pray to god if you want spiritual healing and the "I feel god is my friend and saviour"
Tell that one to all those suffering at the moment around the world....

Gorgeous George
03-16-2011, 04:47 PM
It means you go to church and pray to god if you want spiritual healing and the "I feel god is my friend and saviour"
Tell that one to all those suffering at the moment around the world....

HAHAHAHA!
What the fuck are you talking about, you lunatic?

Also - I know it's tedious - but pay attention to what you say; you might recall saying this, if you did:

..all those who have friends
and relatives out there our deepest thoughts and
prayers .. . . .'

Mental.

lbb
03-16-2011, 04:48 PM
Isn't practicing aikido - the techniques - akin to picking up tools and building things in carpentry?

That is correct. When you practice aikido, you are practicing aikido, which is a martial art. You are practicing its techniques. When you teach aikido, you are teaching aikido techniques.

Isn't (one aspect of) the spiritual component of aikido the fact that by practicing natural movements - like those in yoga, for example - we bring about our natural state - i.e., do something analogous to building a table?

I think that by practicing the movements of aikido, we get to be better at practicing the movements of aikido. I don't really see evidence that doing so brings about our natural state, whatever that is. More to the point, though, I don't think it's typical for an aikido sensei to say to his/her class, "The point of what we're doing here is to bring about your natural state." A carpentry instructor tells you that you're going to be learning how to join wood or whatever, and then proceeds to teach you the specific techniques that do exactly that. I see no analogous activity in the teaching and practice of aikido.

As a result, we follow natural principles in our daily lives - as a consequence of abstraction, and habituation.

I don't know, Graham. You may feel that this has been the result of your practice, but do you truly believe that this is a universal or even typical experience? And, insofar as this was your experience, can you truly say that you were taught this? Not every lesson learned is a lesson taught, after all.

Gorgeous George
03-16-2011, 09:57 PM
That is correct. When you practice aikido, you are practicing aikido, which is a martial art. You are practicing its techniques. When you teach aikido, you are teaching aikido techniques.

I think that by practicing the movements of aikido, we get to be better at practicing the movements of aikido. I don't really see evidence that doing so brings about our natural state, whatever that is. More to the point, though, I don't think it's typical for an aikido sensei to say to his/her class, "The point of what we're doing here is to bring about your natural state." A carpentry instructor tells you that you're going to be learning how to join wood or whatever, and then proceeds to teach you the specific techniques that do exactly that. I see no analogous activity in the teaching and practice of aikido.

I don't know, Graham. You may feel that this has been the result of your practice, but do you truly believe that this is a universal or even typical experience? And, insofar as this was your experience, can you truly say that you were taught this? Not every lesson learned is a lesson taught, after all.

Well, in the sense I used it, our 'natural state' refers to the way our body is intended to move; obviously if you use something the right way, it works; the wrong way: and it breaks....

You don't have to say 'This is what the techniques are doing.' - because it's implicit in the techniques.
When I go to a Muay Thai class, for example, and i'm doing the punching and kicking etc., I haven't been told, and i'm not thinking 'This will increase your fitness.' - but it does.
And that's why a key challenge for educators is to make learning - for children - 'fun': because if it's fun, then their focus won't be on the learning aspect (which is present, however).

In carpentry you might learn to make a table, for example - but you don't learn to make every table, or every chair, do you?
No: you learn examples of carpentry, and then you extrapolate. Can you imagine learning mathematics by learning specific sums, and numbers? You would fail as soon as your memory did, or you encountered a new number.

I think I am probably a rare example: I practice aikido, and everything else, in order to be consistent. I practice with people whose aikido I think is excellent, and I respect a great deal; however, we then go out somewhere, and they're eating the corpses of murdered innocents...if I had that attitude to life, i'd do a martial art that was all about destruction, and not one about compassion, and harmony - because I want to be consistent.
Likewise: I try to keep good posture, for example, when not 'on the mat' - not to do so would be counter-productive, in my eyes.

I think aikido is something you feel with your body (through techniques: hence the means of teaching aikido) - and you come to understand it, on an unconscious, or conscious level - or one then the other, or whatever; and this is a better understanding than you can ever gain through being taught verbally.

I absolutely take your point that the individual dictates what the experience tells them - and that's why there are so many schools of aikido, and people prefer different teachers, etc.
Listening - at great length - to the resident troll here, I can see that aikido extends no further than the mat, for some - although: does he practice aikido even there...?

lbb
03-17-2011, 09:04 AM
Hi Graham,

I think there is a difference between a teaching and a side benefit. If you train diligently in Muay Thai, you will most likely get to be pretty fit, unless the rest of your life works against that, which is certainly possible. But it is a side effect. Muay Thai is not fitness training, it is not designed to optimize fitness of any kind. Teachers of Muay Thai may know something about fitness training, and may even choose to incorporate some of what they know into their Muay Thai classes -- but if that happens, it's a happy accident. I don't think anyone would say that someone is not qualified to teach Muay Thai if they can't expound on exercise physiology or design a workout program whose goal is optimum fitness.

I believe the relationship between aikido and spiritual development is the same. If you train diligently in aikido, you are likely to develop some skills that will also aid you if you choose to pursue the study of various spiritual traditions. One example is the skill of focus, of "being here now". In aikido we learn some form of this by trial and error, without really being taught: we struggle with a technique, we overthink it, our heads fill with thoughts like "Ugggh, why did I have to get stuck working with him? He always tries to mess me up, and I'm having such a hard time with this!" We worry about an upcoming test, and experience anxiety because we're just not getting this technique right. We feel bored and wonder what's for dinner, or start planning a meeting at work tomorrow. Eventually, we learn the hard way to find our way back to the present moment. This skill is helpful when brought to various practices such as Zen meditation, but it is not the same thing as Zen meditation. It is not a spiritual practice, it is not a spiritual discipline, and our trial-and-error acquisition of this skill does not constitute a spiritual teaching. Nor does an aikido sensei's brief moment of "meditation" before and after class constitute a spiritual teaching. An aikido sensei may practice any spiritual tradition or none at all; of those who do, few are qualified to teach it, and fewer still bring it into the dojo. And, mercifully, of the many who are not qualified to teach spiritual practices, the large majority don't have the arrogance to attempt it.

I want to add this also: the statement that aikido is not a spiritual practice does not diminish it in the least. It is what it is, it is a part of one's life, and it's a matter of opinion how life should be lived. Various spiritual traditions have strong opinions on this, of course, and if you follow one of these, that has implications for how you do your aikido, or anything else. But the what of the "how", so to speak, isn't implicit in aikido somehow, isn't uniform or omnipresent for aikido practitioners.

Gorgeous George
03-17-2011, 07:46 PM
Hi Graham,

I think there is a difference between a teaching and a side benefit. If you train diligently in Muay Thai, you will most likely get to be pretty fit, unless the rest of your life works against that, which is certainly possible. But it is a side effect. Muay Thai is not fitness training, it is not designed to optimize fitness of any kind. Teachers of Muay Thai may know something about fitness training, and may even choose to incorporate some of what they know into their Muay Thai classes -- but if that happens, it's a happy accident. I don't think anyone would say that someone is not qualified to teach Muay Thai if they can't expound on exercise physiology or design a workout program whose goal is optimum fitness.

I believe the relationship between aikido and spiritual development is the same. If you train diligently in aikido, you are likely to develop some skills that will also aid you if you choose to pursue the study of various spiritual traditions. One example is the skill of focus, of "being here now". In aikido we learn some form of this by trial and error, without really being taught: we struggle with a technique, we overthink it, our heads fill with thoughts like "Ugggh, why did I have to get stuck working with him? He always tries to mess me up, and I'm having such a hard time with this!" We worry about an upcoming test, and experience anxiety because we're just not getting this technique right. We feel bored and wonder what's for dinner, or start planning a meeting at work tomorrow. Eventually, we learn the hard way to find our way back to the present moment. This skill is helpful when brought to various practices such as Zen meditation, but it is not the same thing as Zen meditation. It is not a spiritual practice, it is not a spiritual discipline, and our trial-and-error acquisition of this skill does not constitute a spiritual teaching. Nor does an aikido sensei's brief moment of "meditation" before and after class constitute a spiritual teaching. An aikido sensei may practice any spiritual tradition or none at all; of those who do, few are qualified to teach it, and fewer still bring it into the dojo. And, mercifully, of the many who are not qualified to teach spiritual practices, the large majority don't have the arrogance to attempt it.

I want to add this also: the statement that aikido is not a spiritual practice does not diminish it in the least. It is what it is, it is a part of one's life, and it's a matter of opinion how life should be lived. Various spiritual traditions have strong opinions on this, of course, and if you follow one of these, that has implications for how you do your aikido, or anything else. But the what of the "how", so to speak, isn't implicit in aikido somehow, isn't uniform or omnipresent for aikido practitioners.

Hello Mary,

I see what you're saying...it would be somewhat ridiculous for somebody else to tell you what you're doing is 'spiritual' - as absurd as it would be if they told you it was heretical, for instance.

I guess the dispute arises because aikido is - by definition - about harmony: being like the rest of the universe, etc.
Just because I view that as somewhat 'spiritual' doesn't make it so - indeed, different people have different ideas of what 'spiritual' is/means, so even if we both saw it that way, we might see 'spiritual' as meaning somethig else.

Although aikido stresses remaining centred - like Zen meditation - in zen meditation, you are deliberately being spiritual; whereas in aikido, you might not be - you might be centred for the sake of keeping fit, having fun, learning to kill people in the best way possible, etc.

I think, however, that it - like all things - is character-building: as Aristotle said (to paraphrase) 'By doing good things we become good, by doing bad, we become bad.'.
But aikido doesn't - by definition - make you good: some people who were really good at aikido were real psychopaths.

RonRagusa
03-17-2011, 08:11 PM
My spirit is my bond with the totality of existence. Before I began Aikido training I had no awareness of this side of myself. The progression of hours to days to weeks to months to years to decades of training has awakened me to the fact that I possess spirit and that with continued practice I am able to strengthen the body/mind/spirit connection.

For me Aikido is much more than just a bunch of techniques that I learn and then spend years perfecting. The whole notion strikes me as patently absurd. It's like saying Michelangelo spent his life perfecting his art in order to become a helluva chisel on stone man or a great painter of ceilings.

The spiritual side of Aikido isn't taught; it's found... or not.

Tony Wagstaffe
03-19-2011, 06:26 AM
HAHAHAHA!
What the fuck are you talking about, you lunatic?

Also - I know it's tedious - but pay attention to what you say; you might recall saying this, if you did:

..all those who have friends
and relatives out there our deepest thoughts and
prayers .. . . .'

Mental.

Emotional.... not spiritual, even animals have that....:hypno:

Tony Wagstaffe
03-19-2011, 06:44 AM
I can see Graham that you are very spiritual.....

And I am a very rational lunatic

Nicholas Eschenbruch
03-19-2011, 08:32 AM
Mary, Graham, Ron,
thanks for that civil and interesting exchange. FWIW, I have actually met one or two aikido teachers who I would consider spiritual teachers even in Mary's stricter delineation of the term - but then again for none of them aikido is their only practice.

Have a nice day!

edshockley
03-19-2011, 09:32 AM
I'm sorry to have been absent for so long from the postings. Many wonderful suggestions. Some, like the music, I have already explored. The current score is generic for the rough edit until we can have a score composed. The biggest thing that I am taking away from this so far is that I may need to expand the film to explore this debate of Aikido as a spiritual journey or a martial art. It is of course both but there seems to be such strong feelings about this issue that it may be a mistake to ignore it entirely?

Nicholas Eschenbruch
03-19-2011, 10:22 AM
I'm sorry to have been absent for so long from the postings. Many wonderful suggestions. Some, like the music, I have already explored. The current score is generic for the rough edit until we can have a score composed. The biggest thing that I am taking away from this so far is that I may need to expand the film to explore this debate of Aikido as a spiritual journey or a martial art. It is of course both but there seems to be such strong feelings about this issue that it may be a mistake to ignore it entirely?

I think ignoring it is the only wise thing to do, really. Especially if you already believe it is both anyway.

I think the strong feelings are typical cyberspace feelings that may not be shared by a significant proportion of practitioners at all. But then I may be wrong.

lbb
03-20-2011, 08:15 AM
I think ignoring it is the only wise thing to do, really. Especially if you already believe it is both anyway.

I think the strong feelings are typical cyberspace feelings that may not be shared by a significant proportion of practitioners at all. But then I may be wrong.

Eh. Ignore it. My opinion is one person's opinion. I think that if you claim in your film that aikido is a spiritual practice, you need demonstrate why you believe this is so, and not merely assert that it is...but you don't need to demonstrate it to any particular person's satisfaction.

edshockley
03-20-2011, 09:14 AM
I have done several dramatic films but never a documentary before so this is largely new territory for me. Rev. Okimura Shihan had already advised me to "follow my heart" and that is indeed the best path but I have the luxury of screening a rough edit and soliciting feedback from the audiences. It seems a good way to proceed. Also, there is quite a bit of interesting footage that I have not used that this forum has inspired me to reconsider. I will contact some of you individually for permission to use some of your statements in the film as well. Thank you all.

mickeygelum
03-20-2011, 09:54 AM
What the fuck are you talking about, you lunatic?


I wish I could getaway with that, not in this thread but in a whole lot of others...You go girl!!!!:D

Janet Rosen
03-20-2011, 10:56 AM
Make the film YOU want and believe in..it's one thing to ask for input but a mistake to make or present art via focus groups :-)

Gorgeous George
03-20-2011, 11:00 AM
I wish I could getaway with that, not in this thread but in a whole lot of others...You go girl!!!!:D

Ha. I bet you do.
Perhaps start a poll petitioning to have a smiley added which expresses that...?

edshockley
03-31-2011, 10:43 AM
If any of you are in Philly we are screening the rough edit of the complete digital film on Friday April 8th at the CEC (Meetinghouse Theatre) at 7:15pm. You can call Mosaic Theatre Productionsfor more info. (215564-4000