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aikishihan
03-28-2011, 03:36 PM
It is mind boggling, and a bit disheartening for me to see the reams of questionable, and often grossly erroneous "facts" written about the Founder, his theories on Aiki, and on Aiki's constant role in shaping his Aikido over the entire period of his lifetime. It is especially so because I can recognize very few "experts" with proven knowledge, training experience, and research credentials sufficient for the task. Rather, I witness a boatload of suspect individuals who freely admit to having little or no respect for the history, tradition and values of the Founder's true purpose, and of his welcoming spirit of openness to all who study his creation. It is equally appalling to me that such unwarranted and misguided drivel continues without an equally vociferous and reasoned rebuttal and counterpoint from the seemingly established and very senior group of mainstream Aikido leaders, who appear comfortable in remaining mute and aloof. There are exceptions, of course, with stalwarts like George Ledyard, Peter Goldsbury, Nev Saghiba, David Lynch, and Stan Pranin, to mention a few, who have courageously, consistently and knowledgeably spoken out on Aikido principles, purpose and legitimacy as a genuine martial art and cultural phenomenon.

I have found that there is astoundingly little genuine and hard research and verifiable discoveries made to date by such smugly overly optimistic, marginally qualified, and seemingly authoritative individuals, who actually have no proven credibility or history of accurate, competent and relevant research. How can we justify such a dichotomy, and how can we honestly feel confident that we are doing real justice and proper honor to the memory of the Founder, and most of all, to our collective faith in the essence of his gift of Aikido to the world. Are we really ready to walk our own talk, and not act as mere recordings and parodies of the incomplete and insufficiently researched teachings of others.

Why do we tolerate the unfashionable emergence, and unquestioned authority of those who contribute unfounded and misguided drivel about Aikido training today, from "5th kyu shihans" to those self proclaimed experts on matters martial. Have we made these individuals accountable for demonstrating little honor, respect or even proven knowledge of the established traditions and time honored examples of Aikido teachings and practice? Why do many of these shadowy critics expectorate their vehement hostility unopposed by those in the know, as they denigrate unopposed the right of people to appreciate and practice the Aikido of their choosing. Isn't such a right for each person to choose their method of demonstrating their take on Aiki principles exactly what the Founder and the late Doshu constantly avowed, and established as the basis of legitimacy for Aikido expression and practice for the aikido world?

The Founder had no illusions that the vast majority of those who studied and practiced his creation would eventually understand his purpose to any large, or even minute degree. He was content, as were the late and the current Doshu, to simply enjoy what they could of the vast potential of training in Aikido. How many times did the Founder humbly admit to merely being in the "first grade" of appreciating the potential of Aiki, and viewing his Aikido as an unending work in progress. He knew that it would take future generations of faithful and diligent stewards of his original vision and design, to continue fulfilling their respective roles in its ongoing construction, expansion, via hard won discoveries and constant training, and to become a worthy resource to mankind that would keep on giving forward in every sense of the word.

What this signals to me is the existence and unintentional perpetration of a fundamental fallacy, a myth if you will, regarding Aikido's real identity and significance. Let's face the facts. Aikido is not a finished product, not even close. It represents, at best, the heroic and singular attempt by a flawed human carbon unit, to dare to dream the impossible dream of unconditional love for all things in the universe as he saw it. It represents the culmination of a lifetime of tragedy, travail and triumph in seeking to make sense of that burning ambition within his soul, to create a martial art perspective unlike any other fashioned to date. He did not, at any time, intimate or suggest that his was a fully developed template, an inviolate blueprint for what his dreams suggested or demanded of him. Therefore, it is not up to lesser folk like you and me to assume otherwise, and to inappropriately hold his creation up as an arbitrary standard against which to measure any other such creation or interpretation. His was, and remains a continual work in progress, one where the diligent and faithful students of his vision would do their part in turn to continue the inevitable refashioning, restructuring and refinement of the original model. It was his dream to have his Aikido become something more than he himself could ever visualize or conceive, and to rely on the fundamental truths of Aiki to guide this multi-generational project, and to ultimately validate the unending work of his successors.

I truly believe that the Founder would genuinely appreciate the dialogue taking place today of incorporating the invaluable lessons obtainable from careful and goal oriented cross training in parallel martial arts systems and philosophies. He would surely applaud, not the incomplete understanding, or the often misguided conclusions and misconceptions held by many who claim to follow his example, but the very courage, vision and persistence to even try.

Please make no mistake, I am not in any way discrediting or discounting the worthy and vital contributions of those qualified and invested individuals who respectfully, sincerely and with great talent and integrity, choose to correctly do the due diligence of proper research, to verify sources of information and provenance, and to accurately and humbly share their findings with the Aikido faithful and other interested parties. Many of these amazing adepts may, or may not ever be formally linked to the vast Aikido family. There is no question that the ongoing work of fulfilling Aikido's vast potential will depend mightily on the honest contributions of these same devotees of Aiki, along with other scholars and researchers we are privileged to encounter along the Way.

Even now, we are unwilling witnesses to the shallow, misguided and agenda driven attempts by some who portray the Founder, his creation, along with those very flawed but courageous students of his Aikido, in an unfavorable or misguided light. Perhaps they would choose to lighten up and give these folks a chance to add their efforts, perhaps found inadequate at times, to continue their respective training regimen, and perhaps develop unique applications of their incomplete but daring understandings of the Founder's message and vision. We must stop targeting these sincere "messengers", and strive to better understand the messages themselves, to the humble extent that we are individually and collectively able and willing to do. Aiki is about building connections, not about maintaining discriminatory separations and disconnects.

I do have faith in the Founder's vision, messages of compassion and hope for future generations, and the fundamental power of Aiki Principles to help anyone to survive, thrive and be truly alive through the practice of Aikido. I humbly invite those who feel the same as I do, to join me in making it so.
Francis Takahashi was born in 1943, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Francis began his Aikido journey in 1953, simultaneously with the introduction of Aikido to Hawaii by Koichi Tohei, a representative sent from Aikikai Foundation in Tokyo, Japan. This event was sponsored by the Hawaii Nishi System of Health Engineering, with Noriyasu Kagesa as president. Mr. Kagesa was Francis’s grandfather, and was a life long supporter of Mr. Tohei, and of Aikido. In 1961, the Founder visited Hawaii to help commemorate the opening of the new dojo in Honolulu. This was the first, and only time Francis had the opportunity to train with the Founder. In 1963, Francis was inducted into the U.S. Army, and was stationed for two years in Chicago, Illinois. He was the second instructor for the fledgling Chicago Aikido Club, succeeding his childhood friend, Chester Sasaki, who had graduated from the University of Illinois, and was entering the Air Force. Francis is currently ranked 7th dan Aikikai, and enjoys a direct affiliation with Aikikai Foundation for the recommending and granting of dan ranks via his organization, Aikikai Associates West Coast. Francis is the current dojo-cho of Aikido Academy in Alhambra, California.

crbateman
03-28-2011, 04:44 PM
A very heartfelt piece, Francis Sensei. I feel your angst, and share your concerns. There are many worms eating away at the fabric of Aikido history and its transmission. But it's nothing new. There have been efforts for decades to systematically sweep certain aspects of this fabric under the rug.

Just this week, Stan Pranin has an article on his site in which he speaks of the "future historians of Aikido". As I read that passage, I had to ask myself who these people might be. I really don't know. Fact is, many otherwise excellent aikidoka really have no use for the accounts of the past. They value only what Aikido is to them, and this is their way. There is no lesson for them to learn from the past, and today's training is their focus. It is their privilege to train as they wish. But it also means each generation will be further removed from what many feel is an important and largely irretrievable component; that what Aikido was is a big factor in what it is.

I know that some would say that the ease at which Aikido has "morphed" is an asset, rather than a weakness. It's a valid point. I suppose only time will tell. I try to be supportive of both sides of the issue, as I think both schools of thought have some merit, and being supportive of all rational points of view is perhaps the sincerest form of "blending" (that is, if you don't count the occasional creation of the perfect margarita... ;) )

Thanks for sharing, Sensei. Always a pleasure...

SeiserL
03-28-2011, 06:20 PM
While I certainly do not know what Aikido truly is, I was fortunate enough to have early mat time with people who do.

If I continue in the direction and daily discipline they set for me, perhaps someday I will get a glimpse of what Aikido truly is.

Well said. Compliments and appreciation.

RonRagusa
03-28-2011, 09:30 PM
Let's face the facts. Aikido is not a finished product, not even close. It represents, at best, the heroic and singular attempt by a flawed human carbon unit, to dare to dream the impossible dream of unconditional love for all things in the universe as he saw it. It represents the culmination of a lifetime of tragedy, travail and triumph in seeking to make sense of that burning ambition within his soul, to create a martial art perspective unlike any other fashioned to date. He did not, at any time, intimate or suggest that his was a fully developed template, an inviolate blueprint for what his dreams suggested or demanded of him. Therefore, it is not up to lesser folk like you and me to assume otherwise, and to inappropriately hold his creation up as an arbitrary standard against which to measure any other such creation or interpretation. His was, and remains a continual work in progress, one where the diligent and faithful students of his vision would do their part in turn to continue the inevitable refashioning, restructuring and refinement of the original model. It was his dream to have his Aikido become something more than he himself could ever visualize or conceive, and to rely on the fundamental truths of Aiki to guide this multi-generational project, and to ultimately validate the unending work of his successors.

Hi Francis -

This paragraph evoked a vision of the Founder not as the artist who put brush to canvas, but as the weaver of the canvas itself. He provided the backdrop upon which the rest of us make our small contributions to the overall work.

I love the view of Aikido as a multi-generational project. Like other long view projects such as the Clock of the Long Now, built with a 10,000 year time horizon, Aikido and the principles of Aiki will burrow into the collective consciousness slowly but inexorably down through the generations. Evolutionary change works slowly and the dissemination of Aiki will proceed glacially, but as long as there are serious students willing to devote themselves to study and the sharing of their knowledge, the ideas of the Founder, expressed in his art, in all their various interpretations, will continue to spread.

Your post, while on the surface may seem an expression of heartfelt ache, nevertheless contains the seeds of optimism we can all nurture, grow and pass on to the next generation.

All the Best,

Ron

Chris Li
03-29-2011, 01:02 AM
Hi Francis,

I hope that you're well. So what would you say are the top three types of revisionism that you've observed?

Best,

Chris

Nicholas Eschenbruch
03-29-2011, 02:38 AM
Aikido is not a finished product, not even close. It represents, at best, the heroic and singular attempt by a flawed human carbon unit, to dare to dream the impossible dream of unconditional love for all things in the universe as he saw it. It represents the culmination of a lifetime of tragedy, travail and triumph in seeking to make sense of that burning ambition within his soul, to create a martial art perspective unlike any other fashioned to date. He did not, at any time, intimate or suggest that his was a fully developed template, an inviolate blueprint for what his dreams suggested or demanded of him. Therefore, it is not up to lesser folk like you and me to assume otherwise, and to inappropriately hold his creation up as an arbitrary standard against which to measure any other such creation or interpretation. His was, and remains a continual work in progress, one where the diligent and faithful students of his vision would do their part in turn to continue the inevitable refashioning, restructuring and refinement of the original model. It was his dream to have his Aikido become something more than he himself could ever visualize or conceive, and to rely on the fundamental truths of Aiki to guide this multi-generational project, and to ultimately validate the unending work of his successors.

Sensei, the above is a very beautiful and profound statement, thank you very much.

Yet, some of your article seems a little abstract and general to me personally. The vitality of my own research in aikido has benefitted a lot from what coould seem to be quite iconoclastic writing about it (and training); and I also believe there can be a stifling aspect to tradition and orthodoxy, especially in the light of the vision of the founder you describe. Then again, some orthodoxy is very inspiring and some iconoclasm totally out of place....

So when you write
What this signals to me is the existence and unintentional perpetration of a fundamental fallacy, a myth if you will, regarding Aikido's real identity and significance.
Are you referring to the idea that anybody knows what aikido truly is? Or are there other, more concrete, positions that you think are, well, not helpful?

Rather, I witness a boatload of suspect individuals who freely admit to having little or no respect for the history, tradition and values of the Founder's true purpose, and of his welcoming spirit of openness to all who study his creation.

What is your personal view on how to navigate the borders between openness and innovation on the one hand, and respect, tradition and history on the other? Or do you think there is no difference, and if so, how come?

Thanks you very much for your article!

AsimHanif
03-29-2011, 10:59 AM
!!
(...another world:-)

Thank you,
Asim

guest1234567
03-29-2011, 04:46 PM
Thanks Takahashi Sensei for your deep thoughts. We have all our life to try to find out what Aikido truly is and enjoy the way .

graham christian
03-29-2011, 07:51 PM
Hi Francis. A powerful piece from a powerful peace.

Remember, from an abundance of the muck of ignorance may the flower(s) grow. To those flowers the apparant ignorance in retrospect served merely as nourishment.

Faith.

Regards.G.

aikishihan
03-30-2011, 12:58 AM
Greetings Clark,

I have never had any illusions that Aikido, or any other valid system of thought and action, was for everybody. Rather, it is for anybody who is willing to pay the honest price of its pursuit. Therefore, I do not worry about the majority, saving my energies with the favored minority, such as yourself.

Aikido, and the Aiki from which it sprang, will be just fine, thank you. No need to worry over the inevitable changes that mankind appears to think is so important. They are not.

So, keep the faith, my friend, and keep on working on your unique masterpiece.

aikishihan
03-30-2011, 01:00 AM
Ola Carina,

Your blessed ability to share kind words with those who publish is most admirable. I look forward to reading your inner thoughts on Aikido, whenever you feel ready to share them.

in oneness,

aikishihan
03-30-2011, 01:03 AM
Hello Chris,

Thank you, Nagahisa Shihan, and the entire Ohana gang for your true Aloha spirit, and your warm welcome to me and O Connor Sensei at your dojo.

Most insightful questions appear to be based on an evident truth. If the definition of “revisionism” is meant to reconsider an accepted truth, then I am not able to respond accordingly. It is my humble opinion that the Founder’s teachings are still in the early days of research, examination and fundamental understanding. We simply do not know enough, and have not done our due diligence as a whole, and would do the Founder and his magnificent legacy, a huge disservice to think and believe otherwise.

Stan Pranin, in his “OSensei’s Spiritual Writings: Where did they really come from?”, astutely reminds us of the paucity of actual writings attributable to the Founder. Rather, we are placing huge gobs of faith and political capital in the interpretations of just a few, albeit noteworthy and esteemed direct students of the Founder. Besides the glaring lack of scholastic and research training skills, we may also have cause to question the personal agendas of these otherwise sincere and sometime eloquent writers of things Ueshiba inspired.

I will attempt to answer the perceived intent of your question as follows.

First of all, I do perceive that the original martial integrity of the Founder’s creation has been seriously diluted, and unfortunately dismissed by the Second Doshu, along with succeeding Hombu Shihan level leadership. I do not believe that this outcome was maliciously intentional, but just a highly questionable judgment call on teaching philosophy and standardization of curriculums.

Second, it is my view that by sending ill prepared and marginally talented instructors in the earlier years, has resulted in the morass of mediocrity of supposedly high level training throughout the world. These initial pioneers should have had real training in business concepts, people skills, language competence, along with their skills in technique and loyalty to Ueshiba Aiki and the Founder’s mission.

Thirdly, the impact of the IAF has proven disastrous, not unlike the ill fated League of Nations, in attempting to consolidate authority in and obedience to exclusively Japanese nationals, without any plan to include the promising and proven leadership that naturally develop within and from the countries involved. The term “Shihan” is a farce, as it is not awarded for excellence, but for conformity and obedience to an arbitrary Japanese model.

For years, I called myself, and select friends, SIW’s, shihans in waiting, as a kind of protest of the policy I just described. Even my moniker of aikishihan is my accepting of the probability that I will not obtain a Shihan certificate from Hombu. It is just fine with me, as I feel qualified to be an Aiki Shihan, and not an Aikikai Shihan. I also salute many others with the same courtesy.

Still, I love O Sensei’s Aikido, I remain loyal to the Ueshiba line of heritage, and will continue to train with anyone with sincere intentions, regardless of rank, organizational credentials, and who place training in Aiki paramount to all other considerations.

Peter Goldsbury
03-30-2011, 01:36 AM
Thirdly, the impact of the IAF has proven disastrous, not unlike the ill fated League of Nations, in attempting to consolidate authority in and obedience to exclusively Japanese nationals, without any plan to include the promising and proven leadership that naturally develop within and from the countries involved. The term “Shihan” is a farce, as it is not awarded for excellence, but for conformity and obedience to an arbitrary Japanese model.

For years, I called myself, and select friends, SIW’s, shihans in waiting, as a kind of protest of the policy I just described. Even my moniker of aikishihan is my accepting of the probability that I will not obtain a Shihan certificate from Hombu. It is just fine with me, as I feel qualified to be an Aiki Shihan, and not an Aikikai Shihan. I also salute many others with the same courtesy.

Hello Francis,

Just for the record, I doubt whether I will ever receive the shihan title, either, for it seems not to operate in Japan. I am curious, however, why you include the term 'shihan' as part of a discussion of the IAF. The IAF does not have shihan and never has had.

Best wishes,

PAG

Demetrio Cereijo
03-30-2011, 04:54 AM
Hi Francis,

It is mind boggling, and a bit disheartening for me to see the reams of questionable, and often grossly erroneous "facts" written about the Founder, his theories on Aiki, and on Aiki's constant role in shaping his Aikido over the entire period of his lifetime. It is especially so because I can recognize very few "experts" with proven knowledge, training experience, and research credentials sufficient for the task. Rather, I witness a boatload of suspect individuals who freely admit to having little or no respect for the history, tradition and values of the Founder's true purpose, and of his welcoming spirit of openness to all who study his creation. It is equally appalling to me that such unwarranted and misguided drivel continues without an equally vociferous and reasoned rebuttal and counterpoint from the seemingly established and very senior group of mainstream Aikido leaders, who appear comfortable in remaining mute and aloof. There are exceptions, of course, with stalwarts like George Ledyard, Peter Goldsbury, Nev Saghiba, David Lynch, and Stan Pranin, to mention a few, who have courageously, consistently and knowledgeably spoken out on Aikido principles, purpose and legitimacy as a genuine martial art and cultural phenomenon.

Do we want to know what Aikido truly is?, probably not IMO, we're happier with the diluted (both martially and philosophical/spiritual) version.

Diana Frese
03-30-2011, 07:19 AM
There is much for me to study in this column and comments, but for now one phrase of Ron's keeps catching my notice for its beauty and wisdom: Aikido and the principles of Aiki will burrow into the collective consciousness slowly but inexorably down through the generations...

From my point of view as someone who trained years ago, but not much in the past couple of decades, it is heartwarming how many dojo there are, how many countries and how many individuals studying sincerely...

Francis, I understand your concerns, but to borrow a bit from Zoroastrianism (about which I know very little) you and people like you are doing a wonderful job of increasing the Light

aikishihan
03-30-2011, 09:27 AM
Hello Demetrio,

Of course we want to know what OUR Aikido truly is, or why continue to study it. It serves little purpose to study other formulas before we decide on our own.

aikishihan
03-30-2011, 09:28 AM
Dear Daian,

Also love Ron Ragusa’s poignant statement of faith in Aikido’s future.

Thanks again for your empathetic support, and feel free to share your thoughts after pondering them for so long.

aikishihan
03-30-2011, 09:30 AM
Greetings Peter,

Off the record, you and the majority of Aikikai 6th dans and higher have been bona fide shihans for as long as I remember. My understanding, verified by both Kobayashi Yasuo and Kanai Mitsunari, is that an Aikikai 6th dan, actively teaching, was automatically a shihan without any need for certification. Since I am “old school”, this definition works well for me.

Technically, Aikikai Foundation exclusively issues all shihan certificates. Yet, is there any doubt that the legitimacy and authority of the IAF has always been buttressed by the dominion of Japanese shihans, along with the Doshu? In spite of this fact, your tenure as President of the IAF for many years was both exemplary and constructive in my opinion. Thank you for your service.

aikishihan
03-30-2011, 09:35 AM
Hallo Graham,

Your Oliver Twist analogy, quite unintended I am sure, is consistent with your upbeat enthusiasm for Aikido's value to our communities.

Thanks for caring, sharing and enduring throughout all the drama that we often encounter along the Way.

Ron Tisdale
03-30-2011, 09:49 AM
Hello Demetrio,

Of course we want to know what OUR Aikido truly is, or why continue to study it. It serves little purpose to study other formulas before we decide on our own.

Hello Takahashi Sensei,

I think I must respectfully disagree. While I indeed DO want to know what my teacher's Aikido is, and also what my own is, I have found that for me *personally*, I needed to look at other forms of Aikido to even begin to really understand those two forms of Aikido. Please note, I used the word *begin*...the process is still very much underway.

The effort that goes into a compare and contrast exercise *for me* was necessary to start to get a handle on what it is I study, and even why.

The why keeps changing as I get older and less concerned with the immediacy of "martial".

The what has changed as I begin to realize how truly broad and deep Aikido can be, especially with the wide range of experience each teacher and practioner brings to it.

The combination of what and why keeps shifting and morphing as I get new input from practitioners, teachers, researchers, and even from things seemingly completely unrelated to Aikido. And I am not very confident that I will *ever* understand the founder's Aikido, let alone actually practice it. The gulf between our time frames, experiences, and cultures is truly very great. I hope that what I do glean from the various forms he left behind will inform what ever meager understanding I finally come to of *his* Aikido...but I don't really expect to measure myself by that. It was his after all...not mine, and I wonder if any of us can really understand another's Aikido (or perhaps anything else for that matter).

Maybe in the end, I will not ever *really* understand Aikido...I guess I can live with that, as long as I make the effort to get as close as possible for *me*. But I do thank all of my teachers, friends, mentors, and fellow practitioners for sharing this journey with me.

Especially the ones who knocked me down, as well as the ones who picked me up along the way.

Best,
Ron

aikishihan
03-30-2011, 10:40 AM
Greetings Nicholas,

I do apologize for my often wayward rhetoric, and invite any question or request for clarification.

Yes, the truths of Aiki are not to be found exclusively in Aikido intended writings. Bravo to you for daring to find such gems in your expanded search for meaning and authenticity.

I do not automatically trust or believe in tradition or orthodoxy, as these are merely points of clarity within time, and essentially only for that time. If they still resonate today, I will listen.

I grant that people will need working models of what aikido means to them, if only that they will commit to amend or exchange their perspectives when better ones prove themselves.

I find that concrete stifles growth and flexibility. Better to be immersed in the fertile and expansive soil of constant change, and the lessons that attend them.

I dare not speak for anyone else, or deign to expound without knowing what that person is really like. It would be most disrespectful to interfere with anyone’s right to choose, and to happily learn from such choices.

Tradition and history should be viewed with a jaundiced eye, as they are merely snapshots of both positive and negative examples of human choices. The real differences you may seek are in recognizing your true options, and being willing to bravely exercise them.

Best of luck to you

aikishihan
03-30-2011, 10:44 AM
Dear Ron,

Your amazing empathy for others, and for the principles that guide them, are truly appreciated and noteworthy. Your faith in Aiki Principles, and for those who uncompromisingly attempt to apply them on a daily basis, is what sets you apart.

Yes, optimism has the same price as pessimism, but their respective costs are vastly different. Thank goodness for succeeding generations, that keep the faith moving ever forward.

graham christian
03-30-2011, 12:01 PM
Hallo Graham,

Your Oliver Twist analogy, quite unintended I am sure, is consistent with your upbeat enthusiasm for Aikido's value to our communities.

Thanks for caring, sharing and enduring throughout all the drama that we often encounter along the Way.

Hi Francis.
Thanks for the acknowledgement.

Your relating my comments to oliver twist has got me though for I am not up to speed on that story. It was however related to the buddhist story of the lotus blossoms journey.

As far as O'Sensei and Aikido go I can only say this: For me the singular most important fact I hold is that he was the FOUNDER of Aikido. Thus it is what he said and how he did it that I continue to work towards and therefore my path is set no matter what anyone else believes.

When that is achieved then a person can truly say they know what Aikido is. Up to then a person can say they are doing Aikido and thus are on the Aikido path towards greater understanding of it.

Meanwhile we can say, if we know, what our Aikido is from where we are at.

My Aikido at this point in time operates from the purpose of restoring what is missing in the attacker. Thus it's purpose is rehabillitation, realignment and restoration-a return to harmony.

May all sentient beings be free.

Regards.G.

Demetrio Cereijo
03-30-2011, 12:20 PM
Hello Demetrio,

Of course we want to know what OUR Aikido truly is, or why continue to study it. It serves little purpose to study other formulas before we decide on our own.

"Our" Aikido is not "Founder's" Aikido.

http://www.aikidosydney.com/stephen/osenseispath.jpg

Ron Tisdale
03-30-2011, 01:31 PM
Is it possible for me to do someone else's Misogi?

Is it possible for someone else to do my Misogi?

If Keiko is to remember the past, can I remember someone else's past?

Can they remember mine?

Best,
Ron (questions, just questions, they keep on coming...oh! for an answer)

Chris Li
03-30-2011, 05:56 PM
First of all, I do perceive that the original martial integrity of the Founderfs creation has been seriously diluted, and unfortunately dismissed by the Second Doshu, along with succeeding Hombu Shihan level leadership. I do not believe that this outcome was maliciously intentional, but just a highly questionable judgment call on teaching philosophy and standardization of curriculums.

I always saw it as a conscious recognition of the fact that Hombu hasn't, realistically, the power to impose a curriculum, and that an attempt to do so would result in even further fracturing of the organization. It seems to me that Moriteru Doshu, and Kisshomaru Doshu before him, decided to adopt an extremely neutral, bland approach and allow those on the outside to more or less do their own thing while still remaining under the general Aikikai umbrella. Whether that was wise or not, still remains to be seen...

Second, it is my view that by sending ill prepared and marginally talented instructors in the earlier years, has resulted in the morass of mediocrity of supposedly high level training throughout the world. These initial pioneers should have had real training in business concepts, people skills, language competence, along with their skills in technique and loyalty to Ueshiba Aiki and the Founderfs mission.

True, although after the war that's pretty much what was available, wasn't it? A whole generation, including most of the top students were lost during the period of the war.

Thirdly, the impact of the IAF has proven disastrous, not unlike the ill fated League of Nations, in attempting to consolidate authority in and obedience to exclusively Japanese nationals, without any plan to include the promising and proven leadership that naturally develop within and from the countries involved. The term gShihanh is a farce, as it is not awarded for excellence, but for conformity and obedience to an arbitrary Japanese model.

For years, I called myself, and select friends, SIWfs, shihans in waiting, as a kind of protest of the policy I just described. Even my moniker of aikishihan is my accepting of the probability that I will not obtain a Shihan certificate from Hombu. It is just fine with me, as I feel qualified to be an Aiki Shihan, and not an Aikikai Shihan. I also salute many others with the same courtesy.

I agree that the entire shihan policy is racially discriminatory - and probably intended to be that way. Worse, it's just silly.

Best,

Chris

JO
03-30-2011, 06:47 PM
I don't think it makes sense to think of aikido as a product, unfinished or otherwise. It isn't some kind of structure that we're trying to build. I always think of it as a DO, a way, a path. It is a path I follow in an attempt to better myself with the hep of others on paths similar enough to have that same name of aikido. As far as the training, the physical art, is concerned, this only truly exists in the very bodies of aikido practitioners. The rest, the books, pictures, videos, discussions are not much more than pale and blurried reflections.

As far as the organisations and politics go, these should exist to bring us followers of the way together. All in all I find they manage this task most of the time, though people being people unpleasantness, badly thought out policy and even real conflict will arise from time to time. But I would never have been exposed to the large number of great teachers I have if it had not been for the work and dedication of people that I feel are being unfairly judged as blindly obedient conformists.

aikishihan
03-31-2011, 12:19 AM
Greetings, Tisdale Sensei,

Thank you for your beautiful, respectful and well reasoned response to my rather terse reply to our friend Demetrio.

I am in full agreement with the valid points you make, and admire the honest humility you show in expressing them.

Yes, our work will always “be in progress”, and we must remain true to our own crafted formula and rationale for maintaining our focus. Of course, we must stay flexible and open to necessary shifts and changes we need to make whenever new knowledge and wisdom prompt us to effect at any moment.

And yes, we must always be appreciative and open to the work and guidance we receive from our mentors, teachers, peers and others that can and do benefit our own progress. Yet, as we are subject to changes, so are they. I would find it impossible to monitor changes in others while paying close attention to my needs and limitations. Thus, regardless of the perceived value I may have of any single source of inspiration or guidance, I must necessarily filter and reconstitute such input pursuant to my activity at the time.

Knowing what another teacher’s Aikido is at any time is fortuitous, yet is it reasonable? Since his or her development is in constant flux, what are we really looking at, and is it actually what we should be emulating? Khalil Gibran admonished us to neither follow nor lead one another. Rather, by walking in harmony with each other, we can rediscover and reaffirm our own rhythms and currents of creativity, while appreciating the same in our companion.

Our chosen teachers and mentors are undeniably valuable to us, but never more so than the healthy self image we must maintain for ourselves. The warrior’s journey is a solitary one, necessarily so since it is the finest expression we can make about our reasons for being genuinely alive.

aikishihan
03-31-2011, 12:43 AM
Greetings Demitrio,

Thank you for your interesting post that includes an apparent drawing of the Founder, along with words attributed to him. I wonder what the source is.

I would prefer to say that the Founder’s Aikido was, is, and always will be like no other. It is up to the serious students of his principles, teachings and examples to formulate their very own version, based on the very same Aiki Principles he constantly introduced us to, and admonished us to study and to utilize.

The melancholy tone of the passage shown simply does not seem appropriate, given the consistently upbeat, encouraging and inspirational quotes attributed to the Founder. If he did say something akin to these thoughts, I would interpret his lament to target the lack of attention to studying the same principles and findings he wanted us to take seriously. It simply does not compute with what I have read that he would have been disappointed with not having students who blindly copied him, and forsook their originality of purpose and design. All evidence I have uncovered points in the opposite direction, that is to create our very own Aikido using the Aiki principles he showed us, and demonstrated so magnificently throughout his life.

Ron Tisdale
03-31-2011, 06:33 AM
Greetings, Tisdale Sensei,

Oh, I am not an instructor, or anyone's sensei...just Ron is fine.

Thank you for your response. I am chewing over both your response and the exchange with Demetrio, and may have some further thoughts in a bit...

Best,
Ron

Diana Frese
03-31-2011, 10:13 AM
Revisiting this column, as I like to do from time to time, to reread the column and learn from the comments as well...today the words "welcoming spirit of openness to all who study his creation" rang a bell and a memory which returns from time to time came back again. It may have been midday, I remember the sun was shining and I was passing from Sixth Avenue towards Washington Square Park if I remember correctly on the way to where I lived at the time... There had been a note on the door of NY Aikikai that the dojo was closed because O Sensei had passed on.... Sensei must have been very sad, having been a real live in uchideshi for years, but as for myself I was sad too, but as maybe the stereotypical child of the sixties all I could think about there in the mild April day was, gee, I hope I get a little bit of his spirit (meaning that there would probably be some of that floating around when a great spirit passes (IMany years later I l read something to that effect when someone quoted Maya Angelou in a condolence note when my parents died in a car crash)

When the elderly pass, it is indeed sad for we miss them but also we want to retain or in my case in Aikido then obtain whatever we can of their spirit. I don't study spirituality much, but I am interested. After that day I just went back to the dojo and trained for about four more years before jumping ship from the tour group and staying in Japan for a year and a half. I figured I should take the opportunity because later in life I might be taking care of a family or my own parents ( though I'm sure they didn't like the idea of their lives being run by "the brat")

Thinking about the two kyodai deshi who we were very fortunate to have as our inheritance from the founder at the time.... they were young and really dedicated to passing on their teacher's Aikido. It was their sincerity and dedication that qualified them, and their martial arts skill was unquestioned as borne out by what is now Aikido history. Both developed tremendous skill, careful inspired and inspiring teaching methods although their methods were quite different each from the other... Well, I shouldn't make this post too long... From what I understand, O Sensei was much concerned with groups that were spiritually based vis a vis the entire world and so wanted to send his deshi's forth as his gift... Maybe my writing is getting a bit too flowery but i think it really was O Sensei's dream judging by many of the quotes, and his son tirelessly worked at the practical necessities...

I attended a few of the Annual Meeting and Seminar years ago and read the pamphlet of rules for shihan dispatched and I think it said to learn about the culture of the country where they will be teaching. These two former uchideshis, and I am sure many others made great efforts to understand the people here, each in his own way. They were relatively young in those days, and I think we would do well to recognize what it must have been like to adjust while at the same time imparting what they had learned and continued to develop....

With regard to one of the concerns Francis stated, Yamada Sensei has increasingly emphasized in his editorials in USAF online news, leadership for the future, and there are non Japanese shihans here now, sixth and seventh dans, and some designated shihans if I remember correctly from what I read. In respect to Francis' statements, maybe it took too long for these people to be recognized and given the rank, designation, etc. I just know that after many years of myself not training I was gratified to note that so many of my former practice partners had continued and were obtaining these ranks and designations. I just hope that in a small way having me as one of many of their training partners made me a participant in Aikido of today,( even before I get back to a dojo)

Sorry to be so long winded, but I'm trying to show respect to the other writers by letting you all know this is just my personal experience and perspective .... from many years ago.

Carsten Möllering
03-31-2011, 10:43 AM
Greetings Demitrio,

Thank you for your interesting post that includes an apparent drawing of the Founder, along with words attributed to him. I wonder what the source is.
John Stevens: Invincible Warrior, p. 165

But this sequence of Ueshiba is cited in several books, I think?

Mary Eastland
04-01-2011, 08:12 AM
Dear Francis:
Of course we know what Aikido truly is...Aikido is uke and nage on the mat... in the moment.
Thank you for your thoughts.
Mary

jamie yugawa
04-01-2011, 02:03 PM
Thank you Takahashi Sensei, for this thought provoking article.

aikishihan
04-01-2011, 02:19 PM
Daian,

Thank you for sharing your important references to the importance of solid student-teacher relationships. Indeed, as we learn from the past, a key source will always be that of our elders' examples.
No doubt, you have positively impacted the training of your myriad partners, even as they have positively influenced your own.

Carsten,

Thank you for the bibliographical note, which is always good to have.
Love your commentaries, both informative and cogent.

Mary,

You are ever so correct. Keiko truly is the answer.

Jamie,

Much Aloha, bruddah, as always.

Mahalo,

francis takahashi

Demetrio Cereijo
04-04-2011, 01:00 PM
Hi Francis,

I would prefer to say that the Founder’s Aikido was, is, and always will be like no other. It is up to the serious students of his principles, teachings and examples to formulate their very own version, based on the very same Aiki Principles he constantly introduced us to, and admonished us to study and to utilize.

But I think we should ask ourselves if our version, based on our understanding of aiki principles, is still aikido or something different that looks like aikido.

The melancholy tone of the passage shown simply does not seem appropriate, given the consistently upbeat, encouraging and inspirational quotes attributed to the Founder.

Well, there's a lot of inspirational quotes attributed to O Sensei. However, I'm a bit skeptic about if these are really from him, the translations, the interpretations given and the context of his words.

If he did say something akin to these thoughts, I would interpret his lament to target the lack of attention to studying the same principles and findings he wanted us to take seriously. It simply does not compute with what I have read that he would have been disappointed with not having students who blindly copied him, and forsook their originality of purpose and design. All evidence I have uncovered points in the opposite direction, that is to create our very own Aikido using the Aiki principles he showed us, and demonstrated so magnificently throughout his life.


I agree with O Sensei not being interested in students blindly copying him, but I doubt he accepted as aikido any personal interpretation of his art.

As Shimizu Kenji stated in this interview (http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=140), when asked: Was O-Sensei irregular about coming to the dojo?, his answer was:

Yes, he was. When I was actively practicing there he often came and went. When he showed up everyone immediately sat down. At first, I thought that people were being courteous toward him. However, it wasn’t only that. It was also that the practices we were doing were different from what O-Sensei expected us to do. Once he lost his temper at us. No one realized that he had come and he shouted: “What you people are doing is not aikido.” His shout was so powerful it felt like the earth was trembling. He was then in his seventies but his voice nearly pierced our ear drums. Everybody just became quiet and looked gloomy.

(bold mine)

Thoughts?

jamie yugawa
04-04-2011, 03:34 PM
I do have faith in the Founder's vision, messages of compassion and hope for future generations, and the fundamental power of Aiki Principles to help anyone to survive, thrive and be truly alive through the practice of Aikido. I humbly invite those who feel the same as I do, to join me in making it so.
Your statement rings true, especially in the aftermath of Aikido Celebration 2011. What can the next generation of Aikido practitioners do to delve deeper into understanding what Aikido truly is?

The combination of what and why keeps shifting and morphing as I get new input from practitioners, teachers, researchers, and even from things seemingly completely unrelated to Aikido. And I am not very confident that I will *ever* understand the founder's Aikido, let alone actually practice it. The gulf between our time frames, experiences, and cultures is truly very great. I hope that what I do glean from the various forms he left behind will inform what ever meager understanding I finally come to of *his* Aikido...but I don't really expect to measure myself by that. It was his after all...not mine, and I wonder if any of us can really understand another's Aikido (or perhaps anything else for that matter).



Thank you Ron for this statement. I am a beginner and I feel it really captures how I feel about Aikido also.

RonRagusa
04-05-2011, 02:07 PM
The combination of what and why keeps shifting and morphing as I get new input from practitioners, teachers, researchers, and even from things seemingly completely unrelated to Aikido. And I am not very confident that I will *ever* understand the founder's Aikido, let alone actually practice it. The gulf between our time frames, experiences, and cultures is truly very great. I hope that what I do glean from the various forms he left behind will inform what ever meager understanding I finally come to of *his* Aikido...but I don't really expect to measure myself by that. It was his after all...not mine, and I wonder if any of us can really understand another's Aikido (or perhaps anything else for that matter).

Hi Ron -

Very insightful. The idea that we should all be trying to replicate the Founder's Aikido strikes me as being at odds with the fact that our Aikido is a product of all "our time frames, experiences, and cultures" plus a host of other factors related to us as individuals. Demanding that, for reasons as yet unclear, we must be doing the Founder's Aikido completely ignores the fact Aikido is, in many ways, a vehicle of personal expression.

It also begs the question of which of O Sensei's forms of Aikido we should be doing. Should we be striving to emulate early Aikido that looked very much like Daito-Ryu? Perhaps we should be doing the Aikido of O Sensei's later years when he demonstrated a lot of no touch throwing? Something in between?

And how does one define O Sensei's Aikido in objective terms? Might as well try to define Beethoven's music, Dame Margot Fontaine's dance or Hemingway's writing.

I guess I just don't understand all the hand wringing and angst around trying to shoehorn ourselves into a mold that was fashioned by a man to fit his own personal unique style of training and living; a mold that was broken when he passed on.

Best,

Ron

Demetrio Cereijo
04-05-2011, 02:27 PM
Hi Ron,

Then why don't drop the "O Sensei said", the "O Sensei did", "O Sensei wanted", the "O Sensei message", the "O Sensei spirituality", the "O Sensei vision" and the "O Sensei this and that" as means of justification and validation?

Maybe it is time to do whatever we want, and call it aikido.

RonRagusa
04-05-2011, 02:46 PM
Hi Ron,

Then why don't drop the "O Sensei said", the "O Sensei did", "O Sensei wanted", the "O Sensei message", the "O Sensei spirituality", the "O Sensei vision" and the "O Sensei this and that" as means of justification and validation?

Hi Demetrio -

I don't have a problem with that. We should drop the appellations and, instead of looking for justification and validation, just get out on the mat, train and discover those things for ourselves.

Maybe it is time to do whatever we want, and call it aikido.

From an article posted on FindLaw.com, Movie Day at the Supreme Court or "I Know It When I See It": A History of the Definition of Obscenity
By Judith A. Silver of Coollawyer.com

"In 1964, Justice Potter Stewart tried to explain "hard-core" pornography, or what is obscene, by saying, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced . . . [b]ut I know it when I see it . . . "

To paraphrase: I won't attempt, today, to further define what constitutes Aikido, but I know it when I see it, I know it when I feel it and I know it when I do it.

Best,

Ron

PhillyKiAikido
04-05-2011, 05:21 PM
Takahashi sensei,

Thanks for your good post. The two links below may support some of your points.

"Kisshomaru Ueshiba's stamp on modern aikido," by Stanley Pranin at http://www.aikidojournal.com/blog/2011/03/27/kisshomaru-ueshibas-stamp-on-modern-aikido-by-stanley-pranin/
and this talk of Morihiro Saito sensei http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siA9JKSMSnc

Ting

Charles Hill
04-05-2011, 05:23 PM
Thank you for your interesting post that includes an apparent drawing of the Founder, along with words attributed to him. I wonder what the source is.

Robert Nadeau

Demetrio Cereijo
04-06-2011, 03:27 AM
To paraphrase: I won't attempt, today, to further define what constitutes Aikido, but I know it when I see it, I know it when I feel it and I know it when I do it.

So you know what aikido is.

L. Camejo
04-06-2011, 04:41 AM
"Do we know what Aikido Truly Is?"

Interesting question. What defines "knowing", "Aikido" or "truth"? I have found that the more people you meet the greater the variance in the definitions. Defining any one of the words above often ends up in a never ending discussion online. :)

In my understanding, Ueshiba M. used the foundation of Daito Ryu along with elements of his own physical, mental and spiritual training to manifest his own unique expression of "Aiki" which we generally refer to as Aikido today. This expression changed and evolved as he developed as a human being and martial artist.

I think that since there are so many subjective definitions of what is "Aikido" floating around, no one will ever know what Aikido truly is in a way that is universally acceptable. So that only leaves a personal understanding and expression, much like Ueshiba M.'s situation.

The problem with "personal expression" however is that without some sort of objective validation or qualification method, delusion and illusion can easily appear to be "knowledge". We see this all the time in the "effectiveness of your aikido" type of threads. What you think you know may be much less than what you actually know.

When Ueshiba M. started teaching Daito Ryu on the way to Aikibudo and Aikido one of his validation methods was that he could physically handle most martial challenges. As the word of his prowess spread he did not need to prove this aspect of his knowledge so much, it was a given. His knowledge in this area was verified and qualified by outside observers, which is often easy when we're dealing with a physical expression.

As he evolved towards a more "spiritual" approach in his training, one can say that the exercises of Chinkon Kishin and Misogi became methods of verification, allowing him to use the unification of his mind/spirit with the divine as a means of checking his knowledge or development. In a way, it is a comparative analysis of ones own spirit vis a vis the divine itself.

So I agree with Ron T's statement here:
The effort that goes into a compare and contrast exercise *for me* was necessary to start to get a handle on what it is I study, and even why.

Imho the subjective concept of "I feel" does not automatically mean that something is true or valid from an objective standpoint. As we say in Project Management - "Without facts and evidence you are just another person with an opinion."

So imho it is important to have mechanisms that keep us on track towards hopefully one day understanding "What Aikido Truly Is". But if we look at the Founder who made this his life's work, even he admitted that he had only scratched the surface of the concept.

Just some thoughts.

LC

Demetrio Cereijo
04-06-2011, 05:08 AM
Hi Larry

The problem with "personal expression" however is that without some sort of objective validation or qualification method, delusion and illusion can easily appear to be "knowledge".

What kind of objective validation would you suggest?

RonRagusa
04-06-2011, 07:06 AM
So you know what aikido is.

In the same sense that Justice Stewart knew what pornography is, yes. Can I provide you with a verifiable definition of what Aikido truly is? No. Nor do I have any interest in attempting to do so. That task is better left to those whose knowledge of the Founder runs a whole lot deeper than what I possess.

Best,

Ron

Demetrio Cereijo
04-06-2011, 10:58 AM
Hi Ron

In the same sense that Justice Stewart knew what pornography is, yes.
Respectfullly: Have you considered the possibility of being wrong or deluded?

You know, like the experienced meditators in this study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2637372/) who tought they were more aware than non meditators, but they weren't?

Sometimes we confuse belief and knowledge.

Can I provide you with a verifiable definition of what Aikido truly is? No. Nor do I have any interest in attempting to do so.

I dont' remember asking you (or anyone in this thread) for a definition of what aikido truly is.

Regards.

Erick Mead
04-06-2011, 12:17 PM
I think that I know; then I feel something that feels like maybe I do not.

Then I sometimes find myself doing things I have never really thought about before; and wonder what I was thinking.

Then I think I was doing aikido.

Often the feel of it seems like I know; then I think of something that makes me think maybe I do not.

I sometimes find myself feeling things I have never quite felt before; and wonder how I missed that.

Then I feel like that was aikido.

I sometimes find myself acting with little thought and little to feel at all; and then sometimes I think and feel like I have no idea what I am doing, though I seem to be doing it.

Then I am fairly certain that I know I am doing aikido.

RonRagusa
04-06-2011, 12:18 PM
Respectfullly: Have you considered the possibility of being wrong or deluded?

Hi Demetrio -

I'm always in the question. But no, I'm not wrong or deluded. Aikido is a martial art. And while the art has many layers and avenues available for exploration, there's nothing magical or mysterious to it. Aikido is a path that enables me to explore mind/body coordination within the context of technique and Ki development. That's what I've devoted 34 years of study to and I'm looking forward to another 30 or so years of training, if I live that long.

Francis originally posed the question: "Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?" Is it really necessary to go beyond the simple answer: Aikido is a martial art of Japanese origin, founded and developed by Morihei Ueshiba? If so, I'd like to know just what it is that folks are looking for in terms of an answer.

Best,

Ron

Erick Mead
04-06-2011, 12:24 PM
I dont' remember asking you (or anyone in this thread) for a definition of what aikido truly is.
Regards. Ok. But to take a step back from the elephant we first need to have a firm grasp on our part --

Could you please define what you know aikido to be?

Demetrio Cereijo
04-06-2011, 12:40 PM
Could you please define what you know aikido to be?
I do not know what aikido is.

However, I believe aikido is a technology of the self developed by Ueshiba Morihei, built on both martial techniques derived mostly from DRAJJ and religious/spiritual techniques derived from a personal mix of japanese mithology, Oomoto cosmology and kotodama.

Considering this, I do not do aikido.

RonRagusa
04-06-2011, 01:52 PM
I do not know what aikido is.

However, I believe aikido is a technology of the self developed by Ueshiba Morihei, built on both martial techniques derived mostly from DRAJJ and religious/spiritual techniques derived from a personal mix of japanese mithology, Oomoto cosmology and kotodama.

Considering this, I do not do aikido.

Hi Demetrio

So do you think that in order to do Aikido a student must duplicate in detail the training regimen and life style that O Sensei practiced? Accordingly, can you point to anyone who does Aikido? Does this extend to other martial arts as well? If I claim to practice Kyokushinkai Karate must I emulate Mas Oyama's life style in every detail? Do I actually have to go out and kill bulls with my bare hands? :D

I'm wondering if we need to be that rigid in what constitutes the practice of Aikido.

Best,

Ron

Erick Mead
04-06-2011, 02:40 PM
I do not know what aikido is.

However, I believe aikido is a technology of the self developed by Ueshiba Morihei, built on both martial techniques derived mostly from DRAJJ and religious/spiritual techniques derived from a personal mix of japanese mithology, Oomoto cosmology and kotodama.

Considering this, I do not do aikido. Hm. A fair effort at definition, I would say.

I would not agree with "technology" -- in the way he either stated it or demonstrated it -- much to the frustration of many who want there to be much more of an "owner's manual" or under-the-hood approach to physical principles or actions, and much less so in my eyes for the psycho-spiritual aspects.

To analogize: a sacrament in Christian understanding is an act that signifies and which effects what it signifies. I don't mean to draw the comparison too far or too closely, but I think Morihei's Ueshiba's idea is much more "sacramental" in that operative sense of "what Aikido truly is."

It is a Budo -- which is a way of war. As such, a definition may bear comparison and contrast to other ways. War is not technological; though it may use technological methods. It is not essential to its effectiveness as a way of war. What does it matter if I kill the village by swords or guns, or asphyxiating each of them individually in their sleep, or merely by poisoning their well, or burning their ripe fields? Dead is dead , does it matter how? As ways of making war -- each may be equally effective, though not equally moral -- and morals become odd things in war.

Aikido sees a way of war in which "moral" is not a separate category from "effective," but not subject to trivial rule-making either. -- as with stating that in aikido there is no attack while he starts demonstrations of aikido with repeatedly initiating an atemi to the face -- which now I understand, but before was mystifying... It signifies moral, by doing moral, in effectively entering into -- rather than avoiding, and yet not escalating --- violent action. But the action is not justified by the consequences (or lack thereof) but by the mind and heart of the action which effects what it signifies.

It is just as much error to eschew "effective" aspects of the violence, as it is to cabin off "moral" concerns over the nature of violence.

We are violent.

We must deal with it.

Aikido accepts that violence in others and seeks to avoid the trap of our own imitative escalations in response to it -- both positively, by the bigger, faster, badder approach, and negatively, by the passive-aggressive lure and pounce approach. The one side prefers bombs, the other poisons -- and both make a false distinction in their moral categories.

Deterrence and evasion are simply flip-sides of the same coin, in otherwords -- to forestall the violence until it can be even MORE destructive and in favor of their side of the conflict. Modern aikido has tended to the latter error, IMO, physically and spiritually. The present fad for certain "correctives" tends to the former, and both because they are trapped in their respective categories -- and which are more alike than they are different.

Aikido is meant to be neither. There are no sides; there is only one conflict -- Aikido continually enters conflict and turns it.

Demetrio Cereijo
04-06-2011, 02:43 PM
Hi Demetrio

So do you think that in order to do Aikido a student must duplicate in detail the training regimen and life style that O Sensei practiced?
Only the relevant aspects of his training, lifestyle and belief system. If these are not available, you can look for equivalent ones.

Accordingly, can you point to anyone who does Aikido?
No, I can't.

Does this extend to other martial arts as well? If I claim to practice Kyokushinkai Karate must I emulate Mas Oyama's life style in every detail? Do I actually have to go out and kill bulls with my bare hands? :D
Only the relevant parts of his training.

I'm wondering if we need to be that rigid in what constitutes the practice of Aikido.
Probably not, but I think being too flexible in what constitutes aikido practise can take us to practise a different art without noticing it.

Following your Kyokushin example, Daido Juku (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqxwBNrum5c) (Kudo), for better or worse, is not Kyokushin anymore but its practitioners are conscious they're not doing Oyama's Kyokushin.

guest1234567
04-06-2011, 03:24 PM
How interesting all the replys! Reading and translating( it is worth) this afternoon the great article Jun shared with us in the home page Article: "Aikido female master of disabled kids (http://english.vietnamnet.vn/en/society/6061/aikido-female-master-of-disabled-kids.html)" ,we should maybe ask what aikido truly is for Ha Thanh for example...

Demetrio Cereijo
04-06-2011, 03:40 PM
I would not agree with "technology" -- in the way he either stated it or demonstrated it -- much to the frustration of many who want there to be much more of an "owner's manual" or under-the-hood approach to physical principles or actions, and much less so in my eyes for the psycho-spiritual aspects.

I wrote "technology of the self", as in

As a context, we must understand that there are four major types of these "technologies," each a matrix of practical reason: (I) technologies of production, which permit us to produce, transform, or manipulate things; (2) technologies of sign systems, which permit us to use signs, meanings, symbols, or signification; (3) technologies of power, which determine the conduct of individuals and submit them to certain ends or domination, an objectivizing of the subject; (4) technologies of the self, which permit individuals to effect by their own means or with the help of others a certain number of operations on their own bodies and souls, thoughts, conduct, and way of being, so as to transform themselves in order to attain a certain state of happiness, purity, wisdom, perfection, or immortality.
http://foucault.info/documents/foucault.technologiesOfSelf.en.html

Erick Mead
04-06-2011, 05:26 PM
I wrote "technology of the self", as in

As a context, we must understand that there are four major types of these "technologies," each a matrix of practical reason: (I) technologies of production, which permit us to produce, transform, or manipulate things; (2) technologies of sign systems, which permit us to use signs, meanings, symbols, or signification; (3) technologies of power, which determine the conduct of individuals and submit them to certain ends or domination, an objectivizing of the subject; (4) technologies of the self, which permit individuals to effect by their own means or with the help of others a certain number of operations on their own bodies and souls, thoughts, conduct, and way of being, so as to transform themselves in order to attain a certain state of happiness, purity, wisdom, perfection, or immortality.
http://foucault.info/documents/foucault.technologiesOfSelf.en.htmlI was not criticizing the concept -- just the application. FWIW "sacramental" thinking in the operative sense I applied it here would encompass all four types at once, which makes it a category breaker right off the bat.

More to the point however, Aikido does not really seem, to me at least, to be a "matrix of practical reason." It seems more a subverter of the commonly accepted forms of "practical reason" about how to deal with conflict.

RonRagusa
04-06-2011, 06:50 PM
However, I believe aikido is a technology of the self developed by Ueshiba Morihei, built on both martial techniques derived mostly from DRAJJ and religious/spiritual techniques derived from a personal mix of japanese mithology, Oomoto cosmology and kotodama.

So do you think that in order to do Aikido a student must duplicate in detail the training regimen and life style that O Sensei practiced?

Only the relevant aspects of his training, lifestyle and belief system. If these are not available, you can look for equivalent ones.

Hi Demetrio -

Fair enough.

I'll only speak for myself and my training here. I don't share O Sensei's religious/spiritual belief systems but I do know that my practice contains elements of martial and spiritual techniques as you have noted above. The martial techniques are pretty much the same as Aikido techniques practiced anywhere. The throws, locks, immobilizations and pins as I practice them are easily recognizable by anyone who practices Aikido.

As for the spiritual side, except to say that for me Aikido has become a spiritual practice insofar as my training has enabled me to recognize and develop a side of myself that I didn't know existed until I began my study, I won't go into in any more detail. If you're interested to examine that side of my practice you can, as they say, read all about it, in my blog, Being, Essence & Motion.

In light of our discussion to date I'll stand by my statement that answered the question "Do you know what Aikido is?": "In the same sense that Justice Stewart knew what pornography is, yes."

Interesting discussion, thanks.

Ron

graham christian
04-06-2011, 07:34 PM
Hi Ron -

Very insightful. The idea that we should all be trying to replicate the Founder's Aikido strikes me as being at odds with the fact that our Aikido is a product of all "our time frames, experiences, and cultures" plus a host of other factors related to us as individuals. Demanding that, for reasons as yet unclear, we must be doing the Founder's Aikido completely ignores the fact Aikido is, in many ways, a vehicle of personal expression.

It also begs the question of which of O Sensei's forms of Aikido we should be doing. Should we be striving to emulate early Aikido that looked very much like Daito-Ryu? Perhaps we should be doing the Aikido of O Sensei's later years when he demonstrated a lot of no touch throwing? Something in between?

And how does one define O Sensei's Aikido in objective terms? Might as well try to define Beethoven's music, Dame Margot Fontaine's dance or Hemingway's writing.

I guess I just don't understand all the hand wringing and angst around trying to shoehorn ourselves into a mold that was fashioned by a man to fit his own personal unique style of training and living; a mold that was broken when he passed on.

Best,

Ron

Hi Ron.
I'm taken by your statement in the first paragraph above.

Aiming to replicate the founders Aikido I do not personally find at odds with with incorporating our own experiences and indeed developing our own expression of Aikido. I'll explain why.

As with any subject or any art the the only way to fully duplicate and understand it as given by the master of that art is by learning and duplicating and understanding the principles being taught. It's nothing to do with the physical. The 'basics' are not physical.

So it is necessary from this point of view to differenciate between basic principles as given compared to added data. When someone understands the principles of drawing, thus the technology, and can also apply those principles with pen on paper then they are free to express drawings according to their own purposes in their own way.

Only those who look at things physically alone and thus copying being their modus operandi would say that you or anyone else doing and expressing Aikido in a proficient way is not the founders Aikido. For obviously it is.

It is precisely for this reason that I have always told my students that one day I expect them to teach their own students but tell them they must develope their own way, their own style. Same principles-different style.

As an additive may I take the opportunity here to say how I apply or test my Aikido objectively as I have seen that word banded about quite freely.

All my students are learning what I teach and so how they get on in life using those principles is my objective study. For instance a lady who came and who I found out was trying to handle an abusive, both physically and mentally, son. Well, if someone comes to me it is because for whatever reason they need what I am teaching. So seeing not only the transformation in her but the subsequent handling of the situation is all I need as objective testing. So I would say Life gives you the true objective answers.

I say all this because I believe you are indeed doing the founders Aikido and are also expressing it in your way.

Respectfully.G.

RonRagusa
04-06-2011, 09:08 PM
Hi Ron.
I'm taken by your statement in the first paragraph above.

Aiming to replicate the founders Aikido I do not personally find at odds with with incorporating our own experiences and indeed developing our own expression of Aikido. I'll explain why.

As with any subject or any art the the only way to fully duplicate and understand it as given by the master of that art is by learning and duplicating and understanding the principles being taught. It's nothing to do with the physical. The 'basics' are not physical.

So it is necessary from this point of view to differenciate between basic principles as given compared to added data. When someone understands the principles of drawing, thus the technology, and can also apply those principles with pen on paper then they are free to express drawings according to their own purposes in their own way.

Only those who look at things physically alone and thus copying being their modus operandi would say that you or anyone else doing and expressing Aikido in a proficient way is not the founders Aikido. For obviously it is.

It is precisely for this reason that I have always told my students that one day I expect them to teach their own students but tell them they must develope their own way, their own style. Same principles-different style.

As an additive may I take the opportunity here to say how I apply or test my Aikido objectively as I have seen that word banded about quite freely.

All my students are learning what I teach and so how they get on in life using those principles is my objective study. For instance a lady who came and who I found out was trying to handle an abusive, both physically and mentally, son. Well, if someone comes to me it is because for whatever reason they need what I am teaching. So seeing not only the transformation in her but the subsequent handling of the situation is all I need as objective testing. So I would say Life gives you the true objective answers.

I say all this because I believe you are indeed doing the founders Aikido and are also expressing it in your way.

Respectfully.G.

Hi Graham -

Interesting. If you're noting the invariance of Aikido principles with respect to stylistic interpretation of Aikido forms then I'd have to say I agree with you. I do feel, however, that the Founder's Aikido taken in its entirety as an integrated, principle based art was uniquely his. As we adopt the principles he laid down and give them form based on our own uniqueness as individuals our Aikido emerges as a natural consequence of our study.

While we may all share the principles that form a common foundation of our arts, the forms will be substantially different in their appearance and application. This, I think, is where the divisiveness begins to arise. People see only the form and the application of the form and, failing to discern the inner experience of the practitioner, decide that it's not the Aikido of Ueshiba. It's a shame, really, for I think Aikido was designed from the outset to be an art of inclusion rather than exclusion.

Best,

Ron

graham christian
04-07-2011, 01:14 AM
Hi Graham -

Interesting. If you're noting the invariance of Aikido principles with respect to stylistic interpretation of Aikido forms then I'd have to say I agree with you. I do feel, however, that the Founder's Aikido taken in its entirety as an integrated, principle based art was uniquely his. As we adopt the principles he laid down and give them form based on our own uniqueness as individuals our Aikido emerges as a natural consequence of our study.

While we may all share the principles that form a common foundation of our arts, the forms will be substantially different in their appearance and application. This, I think, is where the divisiveness begins to arise. People see only the form and the application of the form and, failing to discern the inner experience of the practitioner, decide that it's not the Aikido of Ueshiba. It's a shame, really, for I think Aikido was designed from the outset to be an art of inclusion rather than exclusion.

Best,

Ron

Ron.
I thoroughly agree. The way you put it made me think of this:

The founder did indeed lay the foundations. The different forms that arise from it is both envisioned and natural. No different in analogy from life it'self and the various life forms.

So in answer to the original question I would like to offer the following:

Any principle laid down by the founder which you understand and can apply in your Aikido shows you know some Aikido. Any principle you can apply on anyone no matter who they are shows you truly know that part of Aikido. Which leads us to another question which is 'How much Aikido do you truly know?'

Either way the resultant forms will look different for each individual and indeed group. I've never seen anyone do funakogi undo exactly the same as someone else let alone anything else. Externally different yet intrinsically the same.

Regards.G.

L. Camejo
04-09-2011, 09:11 PM
Late reply I know but:
Hi Larry
What kind of objective validation would you suggest?
The validation one seeks depends on ones training objectives imho. First one must have clear objectives and understand the critical skill sets required to achieve those objectives, then work on developing them. The final aspect is the evaluation or qualification method.

If the goal is effective physical waza (effective meaning that a technique should have the desired effect even if the attacker is uncooperative), then one can use testing in the form of sparring with varying levels of resistance and unpredictability. When ones techniques start failing regularly or the attacker's attacks start landing regularly it is time to stop and evaluate what is happening, where the breakdown is occurring and look for a method to fix or improve the area that's lacking. When the failings are addressed, keep increasing intensity and expanding the scope of attacks and aggression until your response fails again. Then repeat the analysis of the problem to find a new solution within the Aikido paradigm.

A similar approach can be used for different aspects of training depending on the goal of the practitioner.

Just my 2 cents.

LC

topgunc6
04-20-2011, 01:59 PM
Excellent word's Sensi. I will remind you of the trials and tribulations that Buddha lived to discover enlightenment. Most notably that all lessons came from suffering and only that suffering would allow each individual to learn those lessons. This suffering I refer to is the growth of Aikido. Mistakes will be made, but the true path will be discovered.