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abraxis
05-06-2011, 12:16 PM
As someone who is new to discussions of Aikido I get the impression that many discussions and questions center on what real Aikido is, how to do it properly,what is its true purpose, are we being faithful to the founder, what is the roll of skill versus spirit etcetera. Many aspects of these discussions appear to be attempting to define the indefinable or measure the unmeasurable. That doesn't keep many of us from using words, logic, reason, belief, and our practice of Aikido to help us answer questions we feel need to be asked and answered. But there doesn't ever seem to be universal agreement. Is this because Aikido is beyond logic, science, linguistics and the other disciplines we all find so useful in our daily pursuits?. From my brief experience, the rational and the empirical do not appear to offer much help in resolving these issues despite the most diligent attempts over many years by any number of scholarly and dedicated individuals who have achieved international recognition for their practice and teaching of Aikido. Is this because Aikido is beyond all these approaches? Is it because at its center Aikido is an Art Form and as such will not reveal itself or be defined by any of these methods?

tlk52
05-06-2011, 12:18 PM
I believe that, Yes, it is and Art form

lbb
05-06-2011, 12:45 PM
But there doesn't ever seem to be universal agreement. Is this because Aikido is beyond logic, science, linguistics and the other disciplines we all find so useful in our daily pursuits?.

No, it's because you just don't get universal agreement on anything, no matter how logical or scientific its basis. That doesn't mean that aikido is something that can best be described in logical or scientific terms; it just means that even if it were, that wouldn't be sufficient to get us to universal agreement. We humans are contrary critters!

SeiserL
05-06-2011, 01:04 PM
IMHO, it depends on the person.
For many its a hobby.
For some its a craft.
For a few its an art.

mathewjgano
05-06-2011, 01:09 PM
What Mary said. I think part of the difficulty is the approach Kaiso had. It would be one thing if Aikido were only a single set of specific movements, but it changed over time and was placed into such a large context that I think the limitations of human logic and understanding stand out like they do. For me it's like so much of the poetry of Emily Dickenson: it's compelling, it brings all kinds of possible meanings to the mind, but damned if I know exactly what she was talking about with any certainty. That said, I think it's definately an art form.

An analogous lecture by one of my all-time heroes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkhBcLk_8f0

dps
05-06-2011, 01:10 PM
IMHO, it depends on the person.
For many its a hobby.
For some its a craft.
For a few its an art.

It is what you want it to be and what you make it to be.

dps

guest1234567
05-06-2011, 01:54 PM
Hi Rudy,
Reading this forum you will find a lot of opinions of what aikido is, today I read a very nice description from a spanish Aikido teacher who wrote a few books for beginners, in the blog is a tool to translate the article http://aikidolarraona.blogspot.com/2011/05/conoces-el-aikido.html. I hope it can help you a bit.

graham christian
05-06-2011, 02:15 PM
Rudy.
What is art? What is an art form? For me the answer lies in these two questions.

When an artist is learning how to draw he is learning certain principles and practicing applying them to paper. During this process he or she learns more principles and practices applying them also until a certain level of skill is achieved.

After much study and practice the 'apprentice' learns many skills until he can put them together in a harmonious fashion and thus produce a picture. Aha! Art!!! Thus the picture is an art form and the painter is an artist.

I remember watching a plasterer doing a friends room with high ceilings and he was using stilts. Everything was so smoothly done and looked so darned easy that I remember thinking 'Wow, this guys turned plastering into an art form.'

Thus when I see a great sports star like Zinadine Zidane in football who has gone beyond the normal skill level and now turned his application into an art form I can but only admire the scene.

Regards.G.

Alberto_Italiano
05-06-2011, 02:15 PM
IMHO - regardless of the fact Aikido seems to lend itself too much to speculation (the complexity of a few techiniques is such, that you need a very accommodating uke to train with them - this may eventually lead to the consolidation of a "fictional" aikido, with the consequent misinterpretation of it as something highly speculative. But Aikido is not speculative: bad aikidokas like me can be).

Anyway - any Martial Art can become an Art.
To me, this expression has a meaning only if the Martial side is never forfeited in the process - which sadly often happens, and the "art" part of "Martial Art" takes easily (and cheaply) the lead.

So, what is, again IMHO, that makes _any_ Martial Art an Art?
The domination of the violent setting - and I can never emphasize enough the term: violence.

A Martial Art is an Art when it can deal with brutality and violence, mastering them.

The challenges that a competent attacker intent indeed to the goal of seriously and badly injuring you, are incredibly complex and immensely difficult to be coped with.

Psychologically, facing a real & competent attacker will ignite immediately the whole set of our most atavic encephalic features: F-E-A-R, and LOTS of it. It may paralyze you, or may make you do the most unconsiderate movements.

You have to dominate that.

You have then to dominate the noise - it may seem immaterial, but some real fights may involve a lot of scaring noise - from verbalized threats to blasts to crashing objects to people screaming. It may include gunfire cracks. You need to be able to keep your focus also if stuff is going into pieces around you.

You have to dominate pain. It does not matter how good your techniques are, the chances a real attacker will hit you are consistent.
Breaking ons's lip is a matter of nothing, the most clumsy blow thrown WITHOUT boxing gloves at one's mouth is normally enough to make an upper lip go immediately asunder.

If you get blows on your chin, you will see flashlights (do you know the saying "seeing the stars?"...). If you get blows on your mandibula, you may feel your ankles fail in a funny and irresistible manner (that's why people can be knocked down...). If you get a blow on your ears, it causes an abrupt variation of pressure and you will feel a funny sensation as if a bell has rung into your head (do you know the saying "hearing bells?"...).
One blow on your eyebrows may cause significant bleeding, whose main concern is that it may blind one of your eyes, besides scaring you because you've no clear assessment of the damage endured.
Oh, and you can get a broken nose, of course. One lucky and unexpected blow may suffice.
So, you also neede to be able to take a LOT of punishment (for: it may happen!) and yet go on, being aware it's not over till it's not over.

Then you must be able to keep a visual of the whole situation: no closing your eyes under incoming hands.

Then you must be able, in Aikido, to vary your technical approach instantly, on the spot, following your opponent's movements.
You also need not to panic if a technique fails. Techniques should flow out of you like water from a tap.

And these, to mention just a few.

To be sure, I don't know how to do all these things.
It can come only with serious practice.

To me, IMHO, being able to do that, _is_ Art.
Quintessentially. And regardless of the name of the Art, be it Aikido, hapkido, Karate, or Boxing.

guest1234567
05-06-2011, 02:32 PM
Hi Rudy again,
According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art): Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items (often with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect.
Yes, Aikido is an Art Form.

abraxis
05-06-2011, 02:43 PM
....An analogous lecture by one of my all-time heroes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkhBcLk_8f0

Surely you're joking, Mr.Gano.

Demetrio Cereijo
05-06-2011, 03:38 PM
An analogous lecture by one of my all-time heroes:...

You don't cease to amaze me.

abraxis
05-06-2011, 04:01 PM
Hi Rudy again,
According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art): Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items (often with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect.
Yes, Aikido is an Art Form.

I agree completely with you Carina but a quick reading leads me to think the Wikipedia entry needs to be extensively revised.

abraxis
05-06-2011, 04:06 PM
...What is art? What is an art form? For me the answer lies in these two questions. ....Thus when I see a great sports star like Zinadine Zidane in football who has gone beyond the normal skill level and now turned his application into an art form I can but only admire the scene. Regards.G.

So Graham, you know it when you see it. I feel the same way.

abraxis
05-06-2011, 04:14 PM
IMHO, it depends on the person.
For many its a hobby.
For some its a craft.
For a few its an art.

True, Not all who practice are artists but for some it is their form of artistic expression.

Demetrio Cereijo
05-06-2011, 05:07 PM
Aikido is not an art. It has some commonalities with the religio-aesthetic tradition of Japan but is not an art in the western aesthetics sense of the word. .

BTW,

Is this because Aikido is beyond logic, science, linguistics and the other disciplines we all find so useful in our daily pursuits?. From my brief experience, the rational and the empirical do not appear to offer much help in resolving these issues despite the most diligent attempts over many years by any number of scholarly and dedicated individuals who have achieved international recognition for their practice and teaching of Aikido. Is this because Aikido is beyond all these approaches?
I'd say these attempts have been (a) not so diligent and (b) mediated with lot of agendas and politics. This is the cause of today's confusion.

Janet Rosen
05-06-2011, 05:41 PM
As a visual artist, and one who has pondered all sides of the art/artisan/craft issue for many years....I would say aikido is not an art in the sense that painting or dance or poetry are art.

There *are* analogies that can be made in terms of the process: most artists spend time learning a certain amount of technique or craft in order to have the technical chops to do decent creative work. In endeavors like aikido or golf, one works on the technical craft and eventually does something that is uniquely that person's own version of it.

But I don't think that personalized touch or style = "art."

A throw may be pretty, a swooping roll elegant, a person's randori termed "artfully done" because it was nice to watch..... but generally the goal of aikido is to do something with one's partner that has martial intent and outcome. If the goal going into the process of bowing onto the mat and moving towards one's partner is explicitly to create an experience for the benefit of others who are viewing it, we are viewing dance, so that might be art....but then I don't know that it's aikido anymore.

mathewjgano
05-06-2011, 06:18 PM
...ok maybe not. I was just trying to find something on uncertainty that I thought could relate.
Too much trying to see the world in a grain of sand maybe.

mathewjgano
05-06-2011, 07:21 PM
the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

I guess it probably can't be "art" in the sense of "gei" (http://japanese.about.com/library/bl50kanji2_geijutsu.htm )
but in a broader sense of the term maybe it still works. The individualized interpretations of what is of "more than ordinary significance" seems to imply an art quality doesn't it? Thoughts on that? Safer to say Aikido can be an art form, maybe.
At what point does a bunch of oil (or other items) on a surface cease/start being art? When someone finds it beautiful?
Take care,
Matt

RonRagusa
05-06-2011, 07:45 PM
Art is in the eye of the artist. What other people think is irrelevant. Aikido is an art form.

Ron

mathewjgano
05-06-2011, 07:50 PM
Art is in the eye of the artist. What other people think is irrelevant. Aikido is an art form.

Ron

This is irrelevant. :p But I agree.:D

abraxis
05-07-2011, 08:26 AM
Aikido is not an art....these attempts have been (a) not so diligent and (b) mediated with lot of agendas and politics....

Doesn't that depend on who was doing it? Do you feel this lack of diligence and excess of politics was the case for all 8th, 9th, and even 10th Dan Shihans? Were none of them artists? The impression I got from watching Mitsunari Kanai, Shihan, 8th Dan, was that he was a true artist.

Demetrio Cereijo
05-07-2011, 10:16 AM
Doesn't that depend on who was doing it?
No.

Do you feel this lack of diligence and excess of politics was the case for all 8th, 9th, and even 10th Dan Shihans?
I can't talk for all of them, but imho, and for various motives, politics, partishanship and poor scholarship has been (and still is) the norm in aikido community

Were none of them artists?
What if some of them were. That doesn't makes aikido itself an art, what it makes is some people practised aikido as an art, as others practised it as a budo, and others practised it as a business, and others practised it as a shugyo, others as a cult and so on.

The impression I got from watching Mitsunari Kanai, Shihan, 8th Dan, was that he was a true artist
But as he is not with us we can't ask him about if your impression is correct and if he viewed himself as an artist or not.

abraxis
05-07-2011, 10:27 AM
....But as he is not with us we can't ask him about if your impression is correct and if he viewed himself and artist or not.

My impression is based not just on what I saw but also on what I heard him say. "Aikido is an Art but it is a Martial Art"--Kanai Shihan, Cambridge, Masstts, 1976. I'm not making this up. I would only add, and this is, from what I can gather and that's not much I admit, it is in the category of Performance Art.

Best regards,

Rudy

Demetrio Cereijo
05-07-2011, 10:37 AM
Well, it seems Kanai Shihan was into Klens-Bigman's (or viceversa) but I'm not sure if I agree with that view or if I'm understanding you.

abraxis
05-07-2011, 11:00 AM
Well, it seems Kanai Shihan was into Klens-Bigman's (or viceversa) but I'm not sure if I agree with that view or if I'm understanding you.

Keeping in mind that I was a student of Kanai's for less than a year, and that was 35 years ago, and I never heard of Klens-Bigman until your post, I'm still gong to attempt an explanation.

In the Cambridge dojo in 1976 there were several, maybe more, players who were aspiring professional dancers. A few who I practiced with were dancers with Twyla Tharp who, according to Wikipedia was "born in 1941 on a farm in Portland, Indiana, and was named after Twila Thornburg, the "Pig Princess" of the 89th Annual Muncie Fair in Indiana" and went on to be a highly renowned dancer and choreographer. Now these dancers very often liked to gloss over the "martial" aspects of Kani's instruction which, I believe, caused him to make comment on the differences between dance and the martial arts. I also remember once in sword practice he corrected my partner, a dancer, who objected to making cutting gestures with the sword which Sensei insisted be aimed, as he had demonstrated, with precision and at specific vulnerable points on the body. I hope this clarifies what I said earlier.

Best regards,

RT

Janet Rosen
05-07-2011, 12:05 PM
Interesting thread!
It has me trying to hone my thoughts to better articulate them ... So please bear in mind these are musings and not criticisms aimed at any particular other poster(s)...
When I make a weapons bag or a garment, however artful the results are (and the sight of a well-turned collar or a row of topstitching is still a lovely thing to me) my goal and intent is fully on the end product and it is a very different feeling or process than when I paint or sew a picture.
In the latter, my intent is to explore the process itself in order to find a way to express something. The expression, which may at different times have a metaphorical, political, metaphysical or purely esthetic goal, is the thing of primary importance; the product comes into existence to serve/express it.
So to me in those two things lies the difference between my craft and my art. Clearly YMMV, this is just me.
Now where aikido fits for me.... for me to view my aikido as art - say, as performance art - it would have to fit me criteria as above. I would be bowing in explicitly in order to present a statement - metaphorical, aesthetic, political, etc- to the room. And that's not how or why I train. For me it is a conversation between me and my partner, a very literal and exposed and intimate, in the moment interaction that besides being martial in nature helps teach me how to be in the world with The Other. This is why I find aikido to be my spiritual practice (which I also understand it is not for many people).

So those who have different understanding or operating definitions of "art" may well define their aikido as an art, just as I define mine as a martial and spiritual practice....

abraxis
05-07-2011, 12:18 PM
....So those who have different understanding or operating definitions of "art" may well define their aikido as an art, just as I define mine as a martial and spiritual practice....

Point well taken. Then for certain people "the martial and spiritual practice" are just that and not rehearsals for a demonstration or a performance which is the way I have come to think about Aikido. I should emphasize that I practiced in Kanai Sensei's dojo for less than one year. In that time I never once heard him or any of his senior instructors say Aikido is a dance or a performance art. These are just my own misguided musings made decades after the fact by someone struggling to remember the past while trying to fathom what Aikido has become.

Demetrio Cereijo
05-07-2011, 01:06 PM
I'm still gong to attempt an explanation.

In the Cambridge dojo in 1976 there were several, maybe more, players who were aspiring professional dancers. A few who I practiced with were dancers with Twyla Tharp who, according to Wikipedia was "born in 1941 on a farm in Portland, Indiana, and was named after Twila Thornburg, the "Pig Princess" of the 89th Annual Muncie Fair in Indiana" and went on to be a highly renowned dancer and choreographer. Now these dancers very often liked to gloss over the "martial" aspects of Kani's instruction which, I believe, caused him to make comment on the differences between dance and the martial arts. I also remember once in sword practice he corrected my partner, a dancer, who objected to making cutting gestures with the sword which Sensei insisted be aimed, as he had demonstrated, with precision and at specific vulnerable points on the body. I hope this clarifies what I said earlier.

Best regards,

RT
Thanks.

I understand your theory of "Aikido as a performance art" is more yours than Kanai's, even if it has its origins in your exposure to his teachings.

abraxis
05-07-2011, 02:18 PM
Thanks. I understand your theory of "Aikido as a performance art" is more yours than Kanai's, even if it has its origins in your exposure to his teachings.


Hi Demetrio,

I don't mean to perseverate on this, but: Kanai's teaching in the days when I took some training with him, Yamada Sensei, Saito Sensei and Chiba Sensei never implied Aikido should be viewed as anything other than a true Martial Art in the traditional sense of that term. I always have thought of these teachers as traditional teachers of Budo and much more akin to Samurai than to performers. If, years later, I am stating my impression that Aikido has become a Performance Art it is the result of my own misguided perceptions as a perpetual and mediocre beginner and is in every likelihood in contradiction to what Kanai and these other esteemed teachers had intended. Blame the student not the teachers for any mistakes. That said, it looks mostly like what is being done by many akidoka today is Performance Art.

Best,

RT