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David Orange
11-08-2012, 11:58 PM
Aikido has done a strange thing to its students' minds. It has given them a sense of great power, yet it has made them afraid of power. It's so strange to see people deride the quest to attain power, knowing that they, themselves, are actually motivated by the images of Morihei Ueshiba's incredible power. Why else would they train in aikido? It's portrayed as a devastating martial art that requires no strength, yet the founder was absolutely powerful, almost beyond human limits, we would think. So people sign on with this, yet they have to deny that they're seeking "power"--especially "power over others." But....you fling people around like rag dolls. Or...you pretend to?

Let's face it: aikido is a means of attaining power to dictate to evil, rather than having evil dictate to us. It is a way to have power to stand up to "bad people".

But at the same time, it's full of Ueshiba's humane philosophy of not hurting the attacker. And by focusing on this, people forget why they came to the art: to be able to stop violent people from doing violence to them. For that, face the truth, you need to have power. So many put a blind faith in a "lightning strikes" kind of event that is supposed to happen without their intending it, without their reaching for it, without there knowing it will happen. And this is just confusion. In original aikido, you have to first face the fact that the world is full of seriously evil people who will do cruel and incredible things to very nice people if they get the chance. Next, you have to face the fact that you need to prepare yourself in some way to be able to prevent such people from effecting such cruelty on you. Now, when you consider that such people have invariably led very cruel lives and undergone much miserable suffering, you realize that they are not push-overs. They're likely the grown-up versions of the bigger, tougher, meaner kids you faced in elementary, middle and high school. Only worse. Maybe they've already killed people. Or is your aikido only meant to somehow shame people who speak too forcefully? Is it not meant to save your life from killers?

So, face it: aikido takes toughness. Approached by a would-be student once, Ueshiba said, "Aikido is very tough. Can you take it?" Why else was his dojo called "the hell gym"? Why did one of the students from that era say that people who came without excellent references were often "crunched" by the established students? You had to be tough just to get in the door, much less stay long enough to learn the actual art.

I recently read someone's tag line quoting Yamada Sensei as saying something like, "The worldwide spread of aikido is accomplished. Now we must worry about the quality."

Well, the decline in quality is largely tied to this idea that "power" and "strength" are somehow evil in this world full of evil people and that good people should entirely eschew any effort to become strong or to have intentional power. Well, frankly, that's crazy talk. It's schizophrenic. Because everyone who comes to the art comes to learn how to throw people around like rag dolls. Deny it all you want, but if you were looking for pure pacifistic love on earth you could pick Gandhi or Mother Teresa or Sai Baba or any of the multitude of other teachers who never threw anyone anywhere. You chose aikido because you wanted to be able to throw people around. In the process of learning, you got indoctrinated with the idea that the desire to throw people around like rag dolls is antithetical to the art of throwing people around like rag dolls. It is not the power we are to seek, you have been instructed, but the grace, the gracefulness, the beauty and harmony of the motions. Seeking power, you have been told, will destroy that gracefulness and ruin the beauty of the art.

But Ueshiba was incredibly powerful, by choice, by devotion, by effort and intentional development. And it in no way detracted from the grace and beauty of his movement. Morihiro Saito was likewise beautiful in the vast strength of his movement. And Mochizuki Sensei was very similar to that.

Recently, I've been reading Melville's Moby Dick and I'm just amazed at this tour de force of American fiction, the heart and soul, the knowledge of so many broad and meaningful topics, the art and craft of a master storyteller. The inherent understanding of human nature and the nature of nature itself. This whole thread, in fact, originates with the chapter of Moby Dick entitled, The Tail, in particular, this passage:

"...in the tail the confluent measureless force of the whole whale seems concentrated to a point. Could annihilation occur to matter, this were the thing to do it.

"Nor does this--its amazing strength, at all tend to cripple the graceful flexion of its motions; where infantileness of ease undulates through a Titanism of power. On the contrary, those motions derive their most appalling beauty from it. Real strength never impairs beauty or harmony, but it often bestows it; and in everything imposingly beautiful, strength has much to do with the magic. Take away the tied tendons that all over seem bursting from the marble in the carved Hercules, and its charm would be gone. As devout Eckerman lifted the linen sheet from the naked corpse of Goethe, he was overwhelmed with the massive chest of the man, that seemed as a Roman triumphal arch. When Angelo paints even God the Father in human form, mark what robustness is there. And whatever they may reveal of the divine love in the Son, the soft, curled, hermaphroditical Italian pictures, in which his idea has been most successfully embodied; these pictures, so destitute as they are of all brawniness, hint nothing of any power, but the mere negative, feminine one of submission and endurance, which on all hands it is conceded, form the peculiar practical virtues of his teachings.

"Such is the subtle elasticity of the organ I treat of, that whether wielded in sport, or in earnest, or in anger, whatever be the mood it be in, its flexions are invariably marked by exceeding grace. Therein no fairy's arm can transcend it."

So...the presence of strength does not detract from the grace of movement, but powers it. While the removal of power creates something unnatural and unappealing (not to say that even Melville intended that the "feminine" should be found unappealing, but, applied to the Son of Angelo's robust "God the Father," reduces it from dominion over the universe to "submission and endurance" even though some see Christ's teachings as just that. I don't see it that way, myself.

But I do agree with Melville that, as the multitudinous movements of the tail of the whale may express many moods and intentions, the incredible power it embodies is always expressed with gracefulness. So, to me, aikido is rather like the movements of the tail of a whale: full of grace but made of unstoppable, devastating power.

My point here is just to request that everyone return to the truth of this nature and recognize that the attraction and beauty of aikido is rooted in the effortless flinging-away of powerful people, the tossing of the merely strong and evil by the powerful and righteous. But we cannot be righteous in denying the truth. As Mochizuki said of O Sensei, "Do you think I would have followed him if he were not strong?"

He was strong as the tail of the whale is mighty. His art is mighty. It has not changed. It is only the practitioners, promoting weakness, who have lost the way of nature. They have lost touch with nature through their fear of natural power. It's time we understood that power is natural and the development of power is the development of true nature, just as Zen leads us to our true self. Fear of our true self leads only to delusion and fear of power leads far from the truth of aikido.

Gassho.

David

Carsten Möllering
11-09-2012, 08:18 AM
... but if you were looking for pure pacifistic love on earth you could pick ...
This is one of the things that disturb me most when thinking about aikidō.

And other than historical, philosophical or techniqual question I don't have any clue how to ever get answer:
Why do people who deeply believe in pacifism practice a budō?
Why do people who do not want to hurt or injure another human being practice a martial art?
Why don't they learn one of the methods or ways that use and teach pacifistic ways to deal with aggressors or conflicts? There is so much to be learned if someone wants to. And it is really not an easy way to go. I myself think, it's much more chalenging than doing aikidō.

phitruong
11-09-2012, 08:38 AM
let me see if i can answer that with a story. true story. my relatives who shared the same genetics stock as I (you would thought that is so), we all have high cholesterol issue. actually, our cholesterol were high enough to kill the pig. i went and visit them. they served various food stuffs, mostly involved stuffs that make your arteries want to run for Mars. i asked them why they eat like that? they said, the doctors gave them cholesterol medicines so it's ok to eat these stuffs, because you can always drink the medicines afterward. how can you argue with such logic? so go ahead and pass the bacon over, along with the rest of the pig. i'll just drink my medicine later. :D

morph4me
11-09-2012, 09:03 AM
This is one of the things that disturb me most when thinking about aikidō.

And other than historical, philosophical or techniqual question I don't have any clue how to ever get answer:
Why do people who deeply believe in pacifism practice a budō?
Why do people who do not want to hurt or injure another human being practice a martial art?
Why don't they learn one of the methods or ways that use and teach pacifistic ways to deal with aggressors or conflicts? There is so much to be learned if someone wants to. And it is really not an easy way to go. I myself think, it's much more chalenging than doing aikidō.

I'll add a question. What makes anyone think that a technique done on someone intent on doing you harm, who hasn't learned ukemi, will leave them unharmed?

lbb
11-09-2012, 09:59 AM
Aikido has done a strange thing to its students' minds. It has given them a sense of great power, yet it has made them afraid of power. It's so strange to see people deride the quest to attain power, knowing that they, themselves, are actually motivated by the images of Morihei Ueshiba's incredible power. Why else would they train in aikido?

Well...this is the premise of your argument, that aikido students are so motivated, prima facie. If you're unwilling to entertain the possibility that at least some aikido students are not so motivated, there really isn't any basis for discussion, is there? It's not that hard to build an airtight case if you can dictate the premise. But is it a castle built on sand?

I'm not trying to derail your thread, and I'll step out of it at this point, because clearly it's not something I can speak to. Nevertheless, all your "you have tos" and "you need tos" derive from a different truth than mine. In your world, all aikido students are either consciously seeking power, or are deluding themselves that they aren't (somehow struggling and failing to be anti-power, whatever). Could it not be that you're oversimplifying things into a single dimension, a linear spectrum in which everyone is somewhere along the "power" line...and that the reality of human motivations is more complex than that?

Shadowfax
11-09-2012, 11:10 AM
If I was concerned about power and the ability t handle someone who was attacking me with intent to do harm I wold buy a go and spend my time learning how to use it. It is not why I study aikido. And seeing Ueshiba's power in videos is also not why I came to aikio. My choice to take up aikio had nothing to do with wanting to learn to kick ass or become powerful or to defeat a attacker. That is just what it is. That said. I'm not really afraid of the power I have gained or that which I will gain as I continue to train. The power is just a side effect of my training which is for an entirely differnt purpose which I am happy to say I am slowly beginning to accomplish.

So I think that as Mary pointed out you first need to drop the assumption that everyone is training in aikido for the same reason that you are.

Reading the classics does tend to incite me to do some pretty deep thinking on aikido and life and my own internal struggles as well. ;)

MM
11-09-2012, 11:38 AM
If I was concerned about power and the ability t handle someone who was attacking me with intent to do harm I wold buy a go and spend my time learning how to use it. It is not why I study aikido. And seeing Ueshiba's power in videos is also not why I came to aikio. My choice to take up aikio had nothing to do with wanting to learn to kick ass or become powerful or to defeat a attacker. That is just what it is. That said. I'm not really afraid of the power I have gained or that which I will gain as I continue to train. The power is just a side effect of my training which is for an entirely differnt purpose which I am happy to say I am slowly beginning to accomplish.

So I think that as Mary pointed out you first need to drop the assumption that everyone is training in aikido for the same reason that you are.

Reading the classics does tend to incite me to do some pretty deep thinking on aikido and life and my own internal struggles as well. ;)

Hi Cherie,

But, you are training in aikido for power. You don't care to "kick ass" but you do use aikido to make a horse behave. :) Or to make it do what you want it to. That's power. Horse wants to do one thing and you want the horse to do something else. It's a power struggle. You want to win. It's all about power and overcoming an "attacker". In this case, a horse that is being ornery.

Now apply that to people. What if it's a drunk relative that you don't want to harm? It's still all about power. Power to stop the person from harming either himself/herself or others and you.

People in aikido aren't there to "kick ass" and take names, no. But, they are there for power, even if they don't believe it themselves. Otherwise uke in every training session would overcome you. Every time. Uke's job is to disrupt and try to make you do things his/her way. Just because that doesn't happen in a supposedly "non-violent" manner (no breaking of bones, etc) doesn't mean there was no power involved. Uke is rerouted to another direction via harmonious blending, right? Harmonious for whom? Why? How? If uke's initial phase of the encounter was to disrupt you and that did not happen, then uke's will/focus/energy was completely altered. How can that be done without power? We are talking an actual physical encounter.

Where people start drifting is equating power with some bad kung fu movie villain, like Sho Nuff.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lnsg0jDbHk4

Beyond even that, when talking IP/aiki, it is all about the power within and how it changes you. I think you are coming to realize that, right? :) As you become the universe, other little planets don't matter so much. If they don't matter so much, you aren't affected by their actions as much. As you aren't affected as much, you live a bit freer in the world. All from the power of IP/aiki.

David Orange
11-09-2012, 11:54 AM
This is one of the things that disturb me most when thinking about aikidō.

And other than historical, philosophical or techniqual question I don't have any clue how to ever get answer:
Why do people who deeply believe in pacifism practice a budō?

Carsten, I don't find that a troubling question because I am a pacifist. I was a conscientious objector to war when I had the chance to go (though the government never accepted that status for me and I remained subject to involuntary induction, had they so chosen).

Mochizuki Sensei and others have been clear that you do only as much as it takes to stop the other guy. It's just that so many in aikido seem to think that making the attacker trip and bump his knee will stop him. And you get these smarmy, superior smiles from people who clearly couldn't work their way through wet paper, yet see themselves (black belts, after all) as able to stop a Hell's Angel in his tracks, and with love, no less.

Can't remember what master said it, but it boils down to, "You have to have the ability to utterly destroy the attacker, yet choose to save him, before you can really consider yourself a pacifist." Which I believe, as well.

And that brings us to the question of IP/IS/Aiki: where one has devoted decades upon decades to developing aikido technique, only find himself slowing and weakening as he ages--not attaining greater heights as Ueshiba did. To go further, we have to go to the truly fantastic levels of power and strength that Ueshiba accessed on the floating bridge of Heaven. But the mere mention of this sends so many people into frenzies, calling us "power mad" and "wanting to be the baddest and strongest."

Well, we (at least I) don't want to be "the baddest," but I want to be just enough "badder" than my attacker that I can stop him, preferably without doing him serious harm. But, with the technique of budo, I have to develop the ability to harm him, in case I must to save my own life or my child's, or a family member or friend. I don't see budo as anything counter to pacifism, but as "empowering" pacifistic thinking with real ability to live in peace.

Why do people who do not want to hurt or injure another human being practice a martial art?

That is a question, though. If they accepted the necessity of being able to hurt him enough to make him stop, it would make some sense, but we so often hear comments amounting almost to intentional self-weakening to the point of being literally unable to affect anyone else. The effortless and unintentional working of "aiki" is expected to do that for them, almost without their own involvement, other than pretending to throw and pretending to fall through thousands of hours in a "dojo..."

Why don't they learn one of the methods or ways that use and teach pacifistic ways to deal with aggressors or conflicts? There is so much to be learned if someone wants to. And it is really not an easy way to go. I myself think, it's much more chalenging than doing aikidō.

Yeah, but those ways don't grant black belts, and there's something about that black belt that they won't let go, even long after they've sacrificed the heart of the art to their self image as superior people.

I'm glad that there are folks like you, and schools like Edgar Kruyning's, where the truth has always lived.

Best to you.

David

David Orange
11-09-2012, 12:05 PM
Well...this is the premise of your argument, that aikido students are so motivated, prima facie. If you're unwilling to entertain the possibility that at least some aikido students are not so motivated, there really isn't any basis for discussion, is there? It's not that hard to build an airtight case if you can dictate the premise. But is it a castle built on sand?

Mary, I'm not stating that "all" aikido students think this way. There are plenty of people here who have clearly retained Ueshiba's motivations. But the vast majority, it seems, have bought only half the concept. They put peace above all else, but Ueshiba's entire life was an exercise in developing vast power for the purpose of living in peace. It's natural, in that sense. What is unnatural is expecting peace to be maintained by inability.

I'm not trying to derail your thread, and I'll step out of it at this point, because clearly it's not something I can speak to. Nevertheless, all your "you have tos" and "you need tos" derive from a different truth than mine.

Well, mine comes from the root of aikido. This was the way Ueshiba really thought and lived. What does your truth come from? So many follow a path based on "part" of what Ueshiba is thought to have said, when close examination of what he really said turns out to be instructions for developing fantastic physical/mental/spiritual power.

In your world, all aikido students are either consciously seeking power, or are deluding themselves that they aren't (somehow struggling and failing to be anti-power, whatever). Could it not be that you're oversimplifying things into a single dimension, a linear spectrum in which everyone is somewhere along the "power" line...and that the reality of human motivations is more complex than that?

That's a fairly good question, but my line in no way limits the spectrum of motivations. I'm just addressing this one aspect in detail because it's like the keel of the ship of aikido, or the roofbeam of the house. Everything attaches to and branches from that single concern. All values of aikido practice are derived from how truly one adheres to that main spar. Without that, the whole thing falls apart, so I've posted to bring people's attention to focus there at least long enough to recognize its centrality.

David Orange
11-09-2012, 12:24 PM
If I was concerned about power and the ability t handle someone who was attacking me with intent to do harm I wold buy a go and spend my time learning how to use it.

I learned all that when I was a wee little fellow. I was stripping and reassembling rifles and pistols in elementary school. As an adult, I've never owned or carried any firearm except for a short stint as a detective, which I hated. I've walked through some deep, dark streets alone with nothing but the spirit of God to defend me. But I have a picture of myself at the yoseikan hombu with Minoru Mochizuki doing a technique on me and in the background, the scroll in his kamiza is seen, and directly above my head the kanji for Heaven. So I only rely on God for my life and defense, but for some reason, God seems to have sent me to Minoru Mochizuki to learn the ways of budo--Minoru Mochizuki's budo. And he told me, "Always teach my budo." And I frequently feel his urgings, from the roots of aikido's dawn, before it was even called aikido. So I speak for aikido itself and for Ueshiba as Mochizuki spoke for him.

It is not why I study aikido. And seeing Ueshiba's power in videos is also not why I came to aikio. My choice to take up aikio had nothing to do with wanting to learn to kick ass or become powerful or to defeat a attacker.

Well, Carsten and I (and others) have openly wondered what inspired people to begin aikido. You tell us it wasn't for the power to throw people, but you don't say what it was. So please tell us why you chose that path?

I'm not really afraid of the power I have gained or that which I will gain as I continue to train. The power is just a side effect of my training which is for an entirely differnt purpose which I am happy to say I am slowly beginning to accomplish.

But from this two things remain unclear: are you really developing the power that aikido was intended to develop? and What was your purpose in beginning training?

So I think that as Mary pointed out you first need to drop the assumption that everyone is training in aikido for the same reason that you are.

I think it should be clear that I know very well that most aikido students are not training for the same reason I train. My major point is that most people are both "schizophrenic" in their motivations and in denial of that fact. They want the black belt very seriously or they wouldn't follow all the undeniable "mickey mouse" aspects of following a teacher's (and his organization's) idiosyncratic requirements year after year. Why? The black belt is a symbol of power, call it what you want: a symbol of accomplishment? That's a type of power. But the black belt specifically implies the power to overcome strong attackers. My purpose here is specifically to bring people to an exact examination of their own motivations, to address and acknowledge them in private if not in public. So what is your motivation (what was it at the very beginning) for training in aikido and following the requirements for rank?

Reading the classics does tend to incite me to do some pretty deep thinking on aikido and life and my own internal struggles as well. ;)

I see now why Melville is truly a classic, not at all unlike Ueshiba, not unlike Mochizuki or Shioda. They never lost the values that our society lost long before memory.

Very interested in your response.

David

David Orange
11-09-2012, 12:35 PM
Beyond even that, when talking IP/aiki, it is all about the power within and how it changes you. I think you are coming to realize that, right? :) As you become the universe, other little planets don't matter so much. If they don't matter so much, you aren't affected by their actions as much. As you aren't affected as much, you live a bit freer in the world. All from the power of IP/aiki.

The power to be free. I think that is where Ueshiba began. He saw his father beaten for his political views, according to a book I read (Kisshomaru's, I believe).

And another aspect of power, and the fear of power, is the natural necessity of it, which has been distorted by mistaken "aikido thinking".

What is power, after all, but capacity? Ability?

Many people would not wish "a more powerful car." I don't have any desire to drive a Mustang or a Porsche. I have no concern about the kind of car I drive or, really, what it looks like. I'm a poet at heart.

Yet, if my car could go further on a gallon of gas...still getting me to the same destination in the same amount of time...that's a kind of power.

I'd like my money to go further. That's a kind of power. I'd like to get more for the dollars I spend.

In IP/aiki, isn't that what we're really seeking? For our effort to achieve more?

Who could be against that? It's Bucky Fuller talk (less is more).

But when you describe that as "power," some people lose all perspective and think we want to be Bruce Willis in Die Hard or Bruce Lee in Fists of Fury.

Not I. I want to be like Morihei Ueshiba, who could stand effortlessly and be immovable, who could raise his hand effortlessly and the big man grabbing him would become weak while another person could strain all they wanted and still fall to the strong man.

Power, in fact, only means "capacity" or "ability." There's nothing evil except the intent of the one who gains the power. Why do they want it?

And that gets back to the motivations of those who claim that power is bad and seeking to become more efficiently powerful is somehow bad. Why are they training in a martial art and jumping through hoops to get a black belt? I just want people to examine that question honestly and comment on it here if they so desire. Because I'm interested.

Thanks.

David

Krystal Locke
11-09-2012, 12:47 PM
I'll add a question. What makes anyone think that a technique done on someone intent on doing you harm, who hasn't learned ukemi, will leave them unharmed?

My experience as a bouncer makes me think that it is extremely possible to do aikido on people intent on harming me in a way that leaves them unharmed, yet somehow out of the building. Sankyo is pretty useful stuff, but I'm only bouncing drunks, tweakers, disaffected college students, and pissed off cage fighters.

Shadowfax
11-09-2012, 12:49 PM
Hi Cherie,

But, you are training in aikido for power. You don't care to "kick ass" but you do use aikido to make a horse behave. :) Or to make it do what you want it to. That's power. Horse wants to do one thing and you want the horse to do something else. It's a power struggle. You want to win. It's all about power and overcoming an "attacker". In this case, a horse that is being ornery.

.

lol anyone who thinks they can MAKE a horse do anything it does not want to do is fooling themselves. My work with horses is not a power struggle and there is no wanting to win. Sometimes I want to do what I want to do and sometimes I let the horse tell me what it wants to do. Sometimes we compromise. Most ornery horses are just trying to protect themselves from a perceived threat or are responding to people based on humans having tried to use force to get what they want. Interestingly the thing I am learning the most and applying to horses that I am learning in aikido is that the less I try to make them do what I want and the less strength and power I use the more successful the outcomes. Even when the horse is standing on his hind legs trying to intimidate me into letting go of the lead rope or his foot. I work on a horse who previously took three people to get the job done using force and pain some whose previous farriers refused to come back because of how bad they were and another one whose trimmer left her sore and barely touched because she was so difficult. I get the job done with out drama and little to no stress for me or the horse or its owner. One key is to be willing to let things take as long as they take and not being in a big hurry.

[QUOTE=David Orange;318718
Well, Carsten and I (and others) have openly wondered what inspired people to begin aikido. You tell us it wasn't for the power to throw people, but you don't say what it was. So please tell us why you chose that path?

But from this two things remain unclear: are you really developing the power that aikido was intended to develop? and What was your purpose in beginning training?

Very interested in your response.

David[/QUOTE]

I am pretty sure I have answered those questions more than once in threads that asked that particular question or at least to the extent I am willing to share publicly. Will say again that part of it does have a lot to do with wanting to improve as a horseman. Not to gain more power over horses but to have a better relationship with them but mostly to become a more calm centered individual who can respond to stresses/conflicts in life without all of the drama/fighting.

Krystal Locke
11-09-2012, 12:56 PM
To the carpenter, every problem needs a hammer and a nail.

Folks come to aikido for a variety of reasons, and it isn't worth my time to worry about someone else's messed up relationship with their universe. Too busy dealing with my own.

Petitio principii.

David Orange
11-09-2012, 01:05 PM
To the carpenter, every problem needs a hammer and a nail.

Folks come to aikido for a variety of reasons, and it isn't worth my time to worry about someone else's messed up relationship with their universe. Too busy dealing with my own.

Petitio principii.

The problem is when people are teaching that aikido is this or that when, clearly, that was not Ueshiba's position at all.

Everyone, of course, has his own problems to deal with. Mine happens to be a charge from Ueshiba's uchi deshi and this happens to be the place for that.

And my point is that improper aikido teaching breeds an improper and unnatural fear of power that has spread throughout the sphere so that aikido leads further from nature and further from Ueshiba as we go. Of course, it's hopeless to expect that to change. Ueshiba himself was disappointed in where he saw things headed, as was Mochizuki. So it's just too bad, I suppose.

David Orange
11-09-2012, 01:07 PM
Not to gain more power over horses but to have a better relationship with them but mostly to become a more calm centered individual who can respond to stresses/conflicts in life without all of the drama/fighting.

Well...who said 'power over' anything or anyone? Power (especially in the IP/aiki sense) is power within oneself--capacity, ability. Misunderstanding of aikido leads to fear of nature, itself. Power over fear, however...that's another thing.

Rob Watson
11-09-2012, 01:16 PM
Can't remember what master said it, but it boils down to, "You have to have the ability to utterly destroy the attacker, yet choose to save him, before you can really consider yourself a pacifist." Which I believe, as well.

http://blog.aikidojournal.com/2012/06/11/shindo-yoshin-ryu-a-true-pacifist-is-able-to-kill-or-maim-in-the-blink-of-an-eye/

MM
11-09-2012, 01:27 PM
lol anyone who thinks they can MAKE a horse do anything it does not want to do is fooling themselves. My work with horses is not a power struggle and there is no wanting to win.


You "make" a horse do something every time you work on its hoof. Ever see a horse stand on three legs with its fourth one lifted and bent? Do they do that naturally? :) So, when you make the horse lift it's foot, you are, in essence, exerting a power over the horse to behave in a manner that is not natural to its being. It only takes that position because you make it do so. That is power. You accomplished the task (no matter how you did it) of getting that horse in a position it naturally does not use. (Yes, the natural function of the leg is such that it can be put into that posture, but the horse does not naturally stand on three legs with one bent back, upwards.) That is winning.


Sometimes I want to do what I want to do and sometimes I let the horse tell me what it wants to do. Sometimes we compromise. Most ornery horses are just trying to protect themselves from a perceived threat or are responding to people based on humans having tried to use force to get what they want. Interestingly the thing I am learning the most and applying to horses that I am learning in aikido is that the less I try to make them do what I want and the less strength and power I use the more successful the outcomes.


So, you are successful in your outcomes. Why is that? Did the horse stand on four legs and not let you do anything to it? You were successful in the outcome that you desired. That's the definition of winning. And you got the horse to do something which it does not naturally do (hold one leg bent with hoof upwards). That's power. Your successful outcome over the natural nature of the horse.

Now, *how* you accomplish that, as you stated, can make a world of difference. :)

Rob Watson
11-09-2012, 01:34 PM
Does the dali lama have power? Where is the evil (corruption of power) to enter under the lamas guidance? What are the attributes of a corrupted dali lama?

Krystal Locke
11-09-2012, 02:06 PM
Osensei himself said his aikido would die with him and that his students' mission was to spread the art of aikido through the world. I dont think he was actually all that hung up on making people be like him, and he clearly changed his spiel over time as he grew and developed. His reasons were not his deshis' reasons are not my reasons are not your reasons. Are you sure you're not projecting and using the projection as a springboard for judgement?

Oh, you are creating the problem of the ham sandwich with your highly flexible use of the word power. Hmmm, I have some nice black forest in the fridge. Too bad I am out of cheese.

lars beyer
11-09-2012, 02:09 PM
Does the dali lama have power? Where is the evil (corruption of power) to enter under the lamas guidance? What are the attributes of a corrupted dali lama?

A close friend of mine interviewed the Dalai Lama and asked him whether or not there is one or several ways to Bhuddahood. The reply was simple: "That´s the 1000 dollar question".

I´m not making a comment on "being corrucpted", because I have no authority in such matters,
but I guess the story tells it´s own secrets as such.

Regards
Lars

Chris Li
11-09-2012, 02:21 PM
Osensei himself said his aikido would die with him and that his students' mission was to spread the art of aikido through the world. I dont think he was actually all that hung up on making people be like him, and he clearly changed his spiel over time as he grew and developed. His reasons were not his deshis' reasons are not my reasons are not your reasons. Are you sure you're not projecting and using the projection as a springboard for judgement?

Oh, you are creating the problem of the ham sandwich with your highly flexible use of the word power. Hmmm, I have some nice black forest in the fridge. Too bad I am out of cheese.

If it died with him than what were they spreading? :D

Seriously, though, one-line out-takes can be kind of tricky. Of course, reasons vary - I'm sure that, somewhere, sometime, there are people who become Navy Seals as part of a fitness regimen (I actually knew someone who considered this) - but that doesn't mean that is true is a general case, or that it's impossible to state that people have other reasons as a general rule.

A number of people seem to think that IP is about power struggles with other people - but my experience is that there is far less of that than there is in conventional Aikido.

Best,

Chris

C. David Henderson
11-09-2012, 02:23 PM
I don't think I have much to add to the discussion of the larger issue, but this image resonated for me:



"...in the tail the confluent measureless force of the whole whale seems concentrated to a point. Could annihilation occur to matter, this were the thing to do it.

"Nor does this--its amazing strength, at all tend to cripple the graceful flexion of its motions; where infantileness of ease undulates through a Titanism of power. On the contrary, those motions derive their most appalling beauty from it. Real strength never impairs beauty or harmony, but it often bestows it; and in everything imposingly beautiful, strength has much to do with the magic.

******
[As] the multitudinous movements of the tail of the whale may express many moods and intentions, the incredible power it embodies is always expressed with gracefulness. So, to me, aikido is rather like the movements of the tail of a whale: full of grace but made of unstoppable, devastating power.



Nicely put and thought provoking.

For example: Is power, in Melville's sense, a sufficient cause of this physical grace (or martial efficacy) even if it is accepted as a necessary one? Metaphorically -- does the whale need to understand more than how to thrash its tail (powerfully) to glide through the ocean with grace and seeming effortlessness?

Krystal Locke
11-09-2012, 02:43 PM
This is one of the things that disturb me most when thinking about aikidō.

And other than historical, philosophical or techniqual question I don't have any clue how to ever get answer:
Why do people who deeply believe in pacifism practice a budō?
Why do people who do not want to hurt or injure another human being practice a martial art?
Why don't they learn one of the methods or ways that use and teach pacifistic ways to deal with aggressors or conflicts? There is so much to be learned if someone wants to. And it is really not an easy way to go. I myself think, it's much more chalenging than doing aikidō.

Carsten, does your training in aikido mean that you want to hurt or injure other people? Are you certain that the pacifist aikido folks aren't actually also sitting in conflict resolution classes or mediation training?

David Orange
11-09-2012, 02:48 PM
Osensei himself said his aikido would die with him and that his students' mission was to spread the art of aikido through the world.

Mochizuki Sensei said "No one did Ueshiba's aikido but Ueshiba." However, he was one of two people to get a teaching scroll from Ueshiba in daito ryu. So I just follow what he said and that's aikido for me.

I dont think he was actually all that hung up on making people be like him, and he clearly changed his spiel over time as he grew and developed. His reasons were not his deshis' reasons are not my reasons are not your reasons. Are you sure you're not projecting and using the projection as a springboard for judgement?

With a baseline of what aikido is about, you don't have to project. Mochizuki, however, was not one of those in the room when Ueshiba shouted "That's not my aiki!" He was the one Ueshiba sent Kisshomaru to live with after the war, for more training. He was one of Ueshiba's closest and longest students, so while there may have been some differences, of course, Ueshiba highly approved of his take on what aikido is. Whatever one's reasons for beginning or continuing to train, it shouldn't be hard to understand that a katana was not made for cutting toenails and aikido was not made as a ribbon dance. It was made to develop powerful people to stop violence. And the modern distortion has made power an evil idea. Yet, strangely, it retains the symbols of power in its form.

Oh, you are creating the problem of the ham sandwich with your highly flexible use of the word power. Hmmm, I have some nice black forest in the fridge. Too bad I am out of cheese.

Are you sure you're out?

I'm not being flexible in the use of the word power. It does mean the ability to do something. Those who oppose power are bending its meaning to be dominance over other people in general, which is a sad attitude since it leads to a preference for inability and incapacity.

David

Cliff Judge
11-09-2012, 03:11 PM
This is really getting ridiculous. Its like you people haven't watched a single one of the Star Wars movies.

ChrisHein
11-09-2012, 03:23 PM
I guess that initially "Power" is the motivator for training. Ueshiba seems mystical and powerful. This small man could defeat huge, powerful, younger martial artists. Then, as you start to get some "power" yourself, you test yourself outside of the Dojo, and you meet other very "powerful" people, you start to realize that power isn't really the goal, and never was.

The real goal is to be, for lack of a better word, okay. You want to no longer worry about who is going to take from you, who might beat you up, or who might make you feel stupid. You also realize that no matter how much "power" you have, you'll never have enough, there is always a situation bigger then you. At this point, once you feel accomplished, yet realize that your thirst for power was never really your desire at all, that you can finally get in touch with your real need; to be okay.

If you are okay, it doesn't matter how weak you are, you're still okay. It doesn't matter if anyone takes from you, or beats you, you're okay. It's not about your ability to influence others with your "power" it's about being able to accept, with great joy, any path that your life may take.

So I don't believe it's about "fear of power", it's about understanding that power was never the real goal. Easily said, but I'm sure not there yet.

Chris Li
11-09-2012, 03:29 PM
I guess that initially "Power" is the motivator for training. Ueshiba seems mystical and powerful. This small man could defeat huge, powerful, younger martial artists. Then, as you start to get some "power" yourself, you test yourself outside of the Dojo, and you meet other very "powerful" people, you start to realize that power isn't really the goal, and never was.

The real goal is to be, for lack of a better word, okay. You want to no longer worry about who is going to take from you, who might beat you up, or who might make you feel stupid. You also realize that no matter how much "power" you have, you'll never have enough, there is always a situation bigger then you. At this point, once you feel accomplished, yet realize that your thirst for power was never really your desire at all, that you can finally get in touch with your real need; to be okay.

If you are okay, it doesn't matter how weak you are, you're still okay. It doesn't matter if anyone takes from you, or beats you, you're okay. It's not about your ability to influence others with your "power" it's about being able to accept, with great joy, any path that your life may take.

So I don't believe it's about "fear of power", it's about understanding that power was never the real goal. Easily said, but I'm sure not there yet.

It may be power was never the goal, I don't necessarily disagree. However, I certainly don't think that the goal is being "ok" even if you're beat up or abused.

Best,

Chris

Tom Verhoeven
11-09-2012, 03:32 PM
I guess that initially "Power" is the motivator for training. Ueshiba seems mystical and powerful. This small man could defeat huge, powerful, younger martial artists. Then, as you start to get some "power" yourself, you test yourself outside of the Dojo, and you meet other very "powerful" people, you start to realize that power isn't really the goal, and never was.

The real goal is to be, for lack of a better word, okay. You want to no longer worry about who is going to take from you, who might beat you up, or who might make you feel stupid. You also realize that no matter how much "power" you have, you'll never have enough, there is always a situation bigger then you. At this point, once you feel accomplished, yet realize that your thirst for power was never really your desire at all, that you can finally get in touch with your real need; to be okay.

If you are okay, it doesn't matter how weak you are, you're still okay. It doesn't matter if anyone takes from you, or beats you, you're okay. It's not about your ability to influence others with your "power" it's about being able to accept, with great joy, any path that your life may take.

So I don't believe it's about "fear of power", it's about understanding that power was never the real goal. Easily said, but I'm sure not there yet.

That is a nice description of the real goal. Well said.

Tom

Tom Verhoeven
11-09-2012, 03:38 PM
Well...who said 'power over' anything or anyone?


Well, you said it. It's in the first sentence of your first post.

Tom

ChrisHein
11-09-2012, 03:42 PM
It may be power was never the goal, I don't necessarily disagree. However, I certainly don't think that the goal is being "ok" even if you're beat up or abused.

Best,

Chris

If you are happy with any path your life takes, why is that a bad thing? I'm not saying that you want to be abused, I'm saying that it's impossible to make you feel abused, you accept what happens to you with joy. That sounds like the best life anyone could live, if you ask me.

Chris Li
11-09-2012, 03:46 PM
If you are happy with any path your life takes, why is that a bad thing? I'm not saying that you want to be abused, I'm saying that it's impossible to make you feel abused, you accept what happens to you with joy. That sounds like the best life anyone could live, if you ask me.

Well, if somebody puts out cigarettes on my arm, then I'm abused, whether I feel that way or not. I suppose that I could be OK with not "feeling" abused, and I suppose that it's OK if somebody wants to go that way - but I don't think for a moment that's what Ueshiba was pointing towards.

Best,

Chris

ChrisHein
11-09-2012, 03:55 PM
Well, if somebody puts out cigarettes on my arm, then I'm abused, whether I feel that way or not. I suppose that I could be OK with not "feeling" abused, and I suppose that it's OK if somebody wants to go that way - but I don't think for a moment that's what Ueshiba was pointing towards.

Best,

Chris

I don't agree. Let's look at some extreme examples.

If everything always goes my way, I'm young, strong, rich, admired, I have every kind of "power" one could wish for (except, acceptance). Any slight to me would feel like an abuse. If someone flipped me off in traffic, I would feel like the whole world was upturned, and poor me.

The other end of this, is the kid who has no arms, no legs, and yet is happy as he can be to be alive. Even though he should be totally pissed that something took his arms and legs, he's happy, smiling and helping others deal with things like a "bad hair day".

It's not about getting what you want, it's about wanting what you got- some cheesy song lyric, but it fits. I think this is what the Buddha was getting at, the ability to accept life as it comes, joyfully. You don't need any "power" if you can do that. I think Ueshiba realized this. But even if he didn't it's still the path I'm trying to work towards.

Tom Verhoeven
11-09-2012, 04:11 PM
You "make" a horse do something every time you work on its hoof. Ever see a horse stand on three legs with its fourth one lifted and bent? Do they do that naturally? :) So, when you make the horse lift it's foot, you are, in essence, exerting a power over the horse to behave in a manner that is not natural to its being. It only takes that position because you make it do so. That is power. You accomplished the task (no matter how you did it) of getting that horse in a position it naturally does not use. (Yes, the natural function of the leg is such that it can be put into that posture, but the horse does not naturally stand on three legs with one bent back, upwards.) That is winning.

So, you are successful in your outcomes. Why is that? Did the horse stand on four legs and not let you do anything to it? You were successful in the outcome that you desired. That's the definition of winning. And you got the horse to do something which it does not naturally do (hold one leg bent with hoof upwards). That's power. Your successful outcome over the natural nature of the horse.

Now, *how* you accomplish that, as you stated, can make a world of difference. :)

For a horse it is quite natural to lift up its hoof. Just like it is natural to stand on three legs.
Making a horse lift up a hoof is not an easy task. If you try to use power to lift the hoof or to force the horse in any way (rope, chain, pully, whip, etc) the horse will only resist more and more. And next time he will remember what you did last time. He will have figured out new ways to resist you.

The true way to go with horses is what I practice in Aikido as well; connect with the other without fear and without exerting power.

Tom

ChrisHein
11-09-2012, 04:19 PM
The true way to go with horses is what I practice in Aikido as well; connect with the other without fear and without exerting power.

Tom

Nicely said!

Chris Li
11-09-2012, 04:22 PM
I don't agree. Let's look at some extreme examples.

If everything always goes my way, I'm young, strong, rich, admired, I have every kind of "power" one could wish for (except, acceptance). Any slight to me would feel like an abuse. If someone flipped me off in traffic, I would feel like the whole world was upturned, and poor me.

The other end of this, is the kid who has no arms, no legs, and yet is happy as he can be to be alive. Even though he should be totally pissed that something took his arms and legs, he's happy, smiling and helping others deal with things like a "bad hair day".

It's not about getting what you want, it's about wanting what you got- some cheesy song lyric, but it fits. I think this is what the Buddha was getting at, the ability to accept life as it comes, joyfully. You don't need any "power" if you can do that. I think Ueshiba realized this. But even if he didn't it's still the path I'm trying to work towards.

Accepting life as it comes is great - but I don't think Ueshiba meant that you ought to let people put out cigarettes on your arms and be "OK" with it.

In the abstract, maybe, but in reality - Ueshiba was a pragmatist.

I'd note that Kisshomaru maintained that his father was not a pacifist, and neither was he.

I also have in mind a number of situations in which Ueshiba specifically told students to be proactive and not "allow those cigarettes to be put out on their arms".

Best,

Chris

ChrisHein
11-09-2012, 04:29 PM
I don't think you understand, I'm not talking about pacifism. I'm not a pacifist, and can't ever see myself being one.

There is nothing wrong with choosing, and trying to accomplish something. If we get in a fight, I'm not going to let you beat me, I'm going to do my best to stop that. However if it happens, it's okay. Everything is just as it is, including my wants and desires, these things aren't bad, but my attachment to them is regretful. My need to make everything work the way I want it, and my attachment to it being that way. I'm not saying that it's wrong to be powerful, and live your life using that power as you see fit, I'm saying that when you really understand the world, you'll realize you don't need any power.

Brian Beach
11-09-2012, 04:29 PM
I may be over simplifying this but I think everyone is talking about Masakatsu Agatsu. We are learning to control ourselves. Through this control of ourselves we can control others. e.x. you can't throw someone if you have bad posture, first you correct your posture then worry about throwing. Put in the negative you can't control others if you can't control yourself.

Tom Verhoeven
11-09-2012, 04:42 PM
This is one of the things that disturb me most when thinking about aikidō.

And other than historical, philosophical or techniqual question I don't have any clue how to ever get answer:
Why do people who deeply believe in pacifism practice a budō?
Why do people who do not want to hurt or injure another human being practice a martial art?
Why don't they learn one of the methods or ways that use and teach pacifistic ways to deal with aggressors or conflicts? There is so much to be learned if someone wants to. And it is really not an easy way to go. I myself think, it's much more chalenging than doing aikidō.

Basically; because it is one path. The central theme of Taoisme, Shinto, Boeddhisme, Confucianism is about your true self and its connection with reality, the world, the universe. One way of finding that true self and that connection is through meditation, but there are other ways as well; from going on a pilgrimage to practicing the arts. One of those arts is Budo or in this case more in particular Aikido.

How could this possibly disturb you so much?

Tom

Chris Li
11-09-2012, 05:10 PM
I don't think you understand, I'm not talking about pacifism. I'm not a pacifist, and can't ever see myself being one.

There is nothing wrong with choosing, and trying to accomplish something. If we get in a fight, I'm not going to let you beat me, I'm going to do my best to stop that. However if it happens, it's okay. Everything is just as it is, including my wants and desires, these things aren't bad, but my attachment to them is regretful. My need to make everything work the way I want it, and my attachment to it being that way. I'm not saying that it's wrong to be powerful, and live your life using that power as you see fit, I'm saying that when you really understand the world, you'll realize you don't need any power.

Oh, I understand what you're saying - but I don't agree that it's what Ueshiba was pointing at.

As you say with the IP stuff - let's see some proof of a connection to Ueshiba.

Best,

Chris

James Sawers
11-09-2012, 05:15 PM
I gotta admit than when I first saw the title of David's post, "The Fear of Power", I thought it was (uncharitably) stupid. Now after seeing the various posts, I find myself agreeing, in most part, with David. Other posters, for whatever reason, seem to not want to understand what David means by "power". They keep skirting around the fact that whatever you do requires "power", even if it is picking up my latte, right now (I wouldn't recommend it!).

To get technical, in physics, power is the rate at which energy is transferred, used, or transformed. To get philosophical, power is frequently defined by political scientists as the ability to influence the behavior of others with or without resistance. These definitions come from Wikipedia. Power does not have to mean using force against others, be they human or not. Of course, it can be, but it can also mean to use influence to achieve something, sometimes very subtle influence, even if it is the power to just walk away.

Martial arts come in many forms, including the proper use of firearms. So, if it is power you want, a nice machine gun pointed, or fired, at you delivers a lot of power. But, that is not the issue here. We are actually not talking just about power, per se; but, of a particular type of power in aikido, whether you want to call it IP, or whatever. But really, if someone just wanted "power", they could just use the aforementioned weapons. I personally don't think IP could protect you from a full magazine, fired up close by someone who knows what he/she is doing.

So, for me, the driving force behind this struggle (yes, a sometimes decades, life time, long struggle!), is not a struggle to achieve power, but curiosity, with the added side-effect/benefit of personal power. A so-called normal life, for some of us, for some of us, is not good enough. We want to find out, and understand, if what O'Sensei had, and others, was real. This, if so, can open up whole new realms. So we go thru the personal struggle to achieve "power", without fear.

MM
11-09-2012, 05:37 PM
For a horse it is quite natural to lift up its hoof. Just like it is natural to stand on three legs.
Making a horse lift up a hoof is not an easy task. If you try to use power to lift the hoof or to force the horse in any way (rope, chain, pully, whip, etc) the horse will only resist more and more. And next time he will remember what you did last time. He will have figured out new ways to resist you.

The true way to go with horses is what I practice in Aikido as well; connect with the other without fear and without exerting power.

Tom

So, you see horses in this position all the time and its natural?

http://yellowcreekfarrier.com/about_us

They stand like that for hours and there are millions of pictures of horses being in that posture naturally?

Or does the horse put its leg back down on the ground when you let go of its leg? Why does anyone have to find ways of keeping a horses leg like they do to work on the hoof if its all natural to the horse?

So, again, you are making the horse do things that are not natural to its being. Power. Whether you use it or the horse gives it to you. And you are wanting the horse to put its hoof and leg in postures that it doesn't normally use. Who wins? You or the horse? Did you get the work done? You won.

And if you make the horse better then its a win-win. If you don't do the work because the horse was too much, you failed to do your job. Failure means a winner and loser. The horse won by keeping to its nature. It had the power to overcome a human trying to get it to do things it didn't want to do.

Contest between horse and man/woman playing out exactly like a contest between uke and nage in the dojo. Uke is pretending to have an aggressive nature and attack in some manner. Nage must alter that or be on the losing end of that attack. In aikido, the power is a means to appropriately match the attackers energy/attack and provide a win-win outcome. But it's still power and winning.

ChrisHein
11-09-2012, 06:19 PM
Oh, I understand what you're saying - but I don't agree that it's what Ueshiba was pointing at.

As you say with the IP stuff - let's see some proof of a connection to Ueshiba.

Best,

Chris

Christopher,
I have no better Idea of what Ueshiba thought, then you do. I never met him. I know what training in Aikido has outlined to me, and I speak for myself. As I said earlier, I think that Ueshiba was getting at this, but even if he wasn't, it's what I'm working for. It's a part of what my Aikido is about.

Good luck to you in your training.

Chris Li
11-09-2012, 06:33 PM
Christopher,
I have no better Idea of what Ueshiba thought, then you do. I never met him. I know what training in Aikido has outlined to me, and I speak for myself. As I said earlier, I think that Ueshiba was getting at this, but even if he wasn't, it's what I'm working for. It's a part of what my Aikido is about.

Good luck to you in your training.

I think that we (in the generic sense) have been laying out an increasingly detailed argument (with more to come) for the Ueshiba connection.

But, that aside, why do our arguments of what Ueshiba meant bother you when you yourself can give no substantiation for your statements as to the goals of Aikido?

Best,

Chris

phitruong
11-09-2012, 06:37 PM
Oh, you are creating the problem of the ham sandwich with your highly flexible use of the word power. Hmmm, I have some nice black forest in the fridge. Too bad I am out of cheese.

you don't need cheese for a ham sandwich. a bit of lettuce, butter, pickles and onions with a bit of humus would be fine. for a ham and cheese sandwich, then yes, you do need the cheese. have you consider some kimchee with black forest? :)

*sorry for side track. please resume the discussion on the nature of power and us human nature. *

ChrisHein
11-09-2012, 06:55 PM
I think that we (in the generic sense) have been laying out an increasingly detailed argument (with more to come) for the Ueshiba connection.

But, that aside, why do our arguments of what Ueshiba meant bother you when you yourself can give no substantiation for your statements as to the goals of Aikido?

Best,

Chris

Aikido has grown way beyond Ueshiba. If you're interested only in Ueshiba that is fine, but the Aikido community has grown and changed in the last 50 years or so. What you are saying is analogous to every painter trying to copy and continue what, say, Matisse did. Matisse was great, and showed us lot's of things, but he's not the end of painting. Proving what Ueshiba said or didn't say doesn't change anything. Aikido is not a Koryu, it is a living system.

Frankly I have no idea if what you think Ueshiba was getting at was right wrong or indifferent. I'll let you and the historians hash that one out. But the Aikido community outside of the internet, that I speak with, doesn't sound like the picture you are painting (pun intended).

Tom Verhoeven
11-09-2012, 07:17 PM
So, you see horses in this position all the time and its natural?

http://yellowcreekfarrier.com/about_us

They stand like that for hours and there are millions of pictures of horses being in that posture naturally?

Or does the horse put its leg back down on the ground when you let go of its leg? Why does anyone have to find ways of keeping a horses leg like they do to work on the hoof if its all natural to the horse?

So, again, you are making the horse do things that are not natural to its being. Power. Whether you use it or the horse gives it to you. And you are wanting the horse to put its hoof and leg in postures that it doesn't normally use. Who wins? You or the horse? Did you get the work done? You won.

And if you make the horse better then its a win-win. If you don't do the work because the horse was too much, you failed to do your job. Failure means a winner and loser. The horse won by keeping to its nature. It had the power to overcome a human trying to get it to do things it didn't want to do.

Contest between horse and man/woman playing out exactly like a contest between uke and nage in the dojo. Uke is pretending to have an aggressive nature and attack in some manner. Nage must alter that or be on the losing end of that attack. In aikido, the power is a means to appropriately match the attackers energy/attack and provide a win-win outcome. But it's still power and winning.

Clearly you have not much experience with horses and you have never worked on the hooves of horses. It does not take hours and hours to clean a hoof. Or even to put a new shoe on.
I do not need pictures of horses - I have them all day around me in a natural environment so I see their natural behavior on a daily basis.
I already explained why there is no contest between me and the horse.

Life is not about winners and losers. Life is not an ongoing contest. If you walk your dog or feed your cat would you see that as a contest? If you go out for dinner with someone do you see this dinner as a contest with the other person?

I see your description of Aikido as incomplete. If I understand you correctly you suggest here that there are only two options in Aikido? Either uke wins or nage wins (how is this a win-win outcome?).
In my practice of Aikido there are more possible outcomes.

Tom

.

David Orange
11-09-2012, 07:40 PM
For example: Is power, in Melville's sense, a sufficient cause of this physical grace (or martial efficacy) even if it is accepted as a necessary one? Metaphorically -- does the whale need to understand more than how to thrash its tail (powerfully) to glide through the ocean with grace and seeming effortlessness?

Well, if you read the whole chapter of that book, it goes into more detail as well as expanding on the subject. But in general, I understood that the strength and the grace are inseparable, as he says "Real strength never impairs beauty or harmony, but it often bestows it;"

Both the beauty and the strength are inherent in the nature of the whale. Real aikido also has both but it is possible to lose one or the other by excessive focus on the other. I think of the guy who does the "Real Aikido" videos on YouTube as an example of serious misunderstanding of the "strength" aspect, making his demonstrations not only violent but jerky and really uninteresting to me. However, we need not look outside this forum for examples of a denaturing of aikido through utter rejection of strength, resulting in something not only boring but embarrassing to watch. At least the Real Aikido guy, in wearing black belt, is consistent with that tradition. But, just as we can ask why a non-violent person would study a martial art, we have to wonder why they insist on wearing the black belt.

Thanks.

David

David Orange
11-09-2012, 07:44 PM
If you are okay, it doesn't matter how weak you are, you're still okay. It doesn't matter if anyone takes from you, or beats you, you're okay. It's not about your ability to influence others with your "power" it's about being able to accept, with great joy, any path that your life may take.

So I don't believe it's about "fear of power", it's about understanding that power was never the real goal. Easily said, but I'm sure not there yet.

All well and good for the individual human, but not to apply to the art that came down from Ueshiba. Aikido is powerful and much of its grace comes from its power. Those who denigrate power out-and-out, then try to neuter aikido by teaching that it should have no power...to be kind, they're on a seriously mistaken path.

David Orange
11-09-2012, 07:53 PM
Well, you said it. It's in the first sentence of your first post.

Tom

Not exactly, Tom. Those words are in the first paragraph, but are not posited as the purpose of aikido. I state "It's portrayed as a devastating martial art that requires no strength, yet the founder was absolutely powerful, almost beyond human limits, we would think. So people sign on with this, yet they have to deny that they're seeking "power"--especially "power over others." But....you fling people around like rag dolls. Or...you pretend to?"

What I refer to here is not the purpose, but the popular image of aikido. People see Ueshiba's power and are drawn to the art, but they then have to deny that they're seeking power, especially "power over others." But at base, they have to deny that they're seeing power when most, at heart, are really seeking power over others. Aikido is no more about having power over others than the whale seeks power over others: it doesn't have to seek what it has. Aikido has power. Training in aikido is to develop one's own personal power. It's a natural pursuit, inherent in the human heart.

I hope that makes it clearer.

David

David Orange
11-09-2012, 07:57 PM
You don't need any "power" if you can do that. I think Ueshiba realized this. But even if he didn't it's still the path I'm trying to work towards.

That would explain why Ueshiba spent untold hours training hard with powerful fighters and working alone in his garden, doing hours of suburi and spear thrusting. It explains why his muscles were so....what's that word?...powerful?

Afraid that one gets nowhere, Chris.

But it calls to mind something I noticed in your photograph recently: the kanji wall-hanging at the head of your dojo. Where did you get that?

David

David Orange
11-09-2012, 08:06 PM
I may be over simplifying this but I think everyone is talking about Masakatsu Agatsu. We are learning to control ourselves. Through this control of ourselves we can control others. e.x. you can't throw someone if you have bad posture, first you correct your posture then worry about throwing. Put in the negative you can't control others if you can't control yourself.

Well, but let's say you can control yourself beautifully...but you have no strength?

I remember discussing violence with some aikido students once and a guy proffered: "Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose."

However, deep reds and blacks are the colors of facts.

Make no mistake, when it comes down to red and black, budo is intended to produce people who can stop the violence. We can be philosophical and say, "That means stop the violence within our own hearts." And that, too, is true, on an abstract level, but if you have to run while saying it because you can't stop the other person who is being seriously violent...it's not budo. And aikido is budo. It develops power, and not unconsciously or unintentionally or accidentally. And if you deny the need to develop power in aikido, then what you're doing is not aikido.

Best wishes.

David

Chris Li
11-09-2012, 08:22 PM
Aikido has grown way beyond Ueshiba. If you're interested only in Ueshiba that is fine, but the Aikido community has grown and changed in the last 50 years or so. What you are saying is analogous to every painter trying to copy and continue what, say, Matisse did. Matisse was great, and showed us lot's of things, but he's not the end of painting. Proving what Ueshiba said or didn't say doesn't change anything. Aikido is not a Koryu, it is a living system.

Frankly I have no idea if what you think Ueshiba was getting at was right wrong or indifferent. I'll let you and the historians hash that one out. But the Aikido community outside of the internet, that I speak with, doesn't sound like the picture you are painting (pun intended).

And yet, you cited Ueshiba yourself in the very post that we are discussing:

I guess that initially "Power" is the motivator for training. Ueshiba seems mystical and powerful. This small man could defeat huge, powerful, younger martial artists. Then, as you start to get some "power" yourself, you test yourself outside of the Dojo, and you meet other very "powerful" people, you start to realize that power isn't really the goal, and never was.


None of the people that I'm working with are trying to duplicate Ueshiba in the manner you're discussing above - you must have us confused with somebody else.

On the other hand, that the thoughts and the methodology of the founder of the art are relevant to those training in that art (especially when direct students of the founder are still alive) seems, to me, to be a no brainer.

Best,

Chris

David Orange
11-09-2012, 08:23 PM
Basically; because it is one path. The central theme of Taoisme, Shinto, Boeddhisme, Confucianism is about your true self and its connection with reality, the world, the universe. One way of finding that true self and that connection is through meditation, but there are other ways as well; from going on a pilgrimage to practicing the arts. One of those arts is Budo or in this case more in particular Aikido.

How could this possibly disturb you so much?


I didn't perceive Carsten to be disturbed in that. You realize, of course, that the taoist fighting arts are seriously deadly and make no bones about their purpose? They're not like aikido in that regard, but more like serious ken-jutsu. Once unleashed, serious damage is bound to happen.

People need to understand that once a human being decides on a course of serious violence, it requires serious strength to stop him or her, and make no mistake: it requires extreme power to stop such a person without injuring them. So aikido gives us a better philosophical and spiritual base than say bagua or xing yi. But without serious power behind it, that philosophy amounts to BS. And the seriously powerful bagua or xing yi artist always has the choice to destroy or to show mercy, so it might be better, for practical purposes, to study xing yi. In any case, saying we show mercy to someone is a joke if we don't have the capacity to destroy them, and most aikido people I've met talking about being merciful to an attacker...they're just jokers, to tell the truth.

Now, speaking of philosophy and spirituality, Morihei Ueshiba also spent countless hours in prayer, but I don't hear much about that from aikido people. I once posted a thread here called "The Power of Prayer," I think it was. It's been a few years ago, I guess. No one responded at all, if I recall correctly. But if an aikido person uses Ueshiba's statements on power to show that there is no need for power, why do they follow his art of "making people do what you want them to do," but they don't follow his practice of praying for hours each day? I submit that it can only be that, subconsciously at the very least, they do have a great desire for power. At the same time, the have a conscious belief that power is wrong. So they and their aikido become seriously conflicted, but rather than work it out in physical struggle, they form organizations and build up that kind of power, expressed mainly in deciding which rituals will be used and who will get or be denied rank.

FWIW

David

David Orange
11-09-2012, 08:29 PM
I think that we (in the generic sense) have been laying out an increasingly detailed argument (with more to come) for the Ueshiba connection.

More to come? The waiting is painful! However, I know it takes a lot of effort to bring that material to light, so I won't rush you...but...please hurry!

:)

Thanks!

David

Cady Goldfield
11-09-2012, 08:37 PM
Power is not always an aggressive negative. That's how so many people interpret it -- as something completely "yang/yo." It is not. Power is simply a tool. When you know what the power of aiki is, then there is nothing to fear. It's all in how you choose to use it. Aiki can be a gentle power to deflect violence; it is not violence itself.

I see the point as being this: that having the tool -- power -- means having more choices than not having the tool.

David Orange
11-09-2012, 08:46 PM
I gotta admit than when I first saw the title of David's post, "The Fear of Power", I thought it was (uncharitably) stupid. Now after seeing the various posts, I find myself agreeing, in most part, with David. Other posters, for whatever reason, seem to not want to understand what David means by "power". They keep skirting around the fact that whatever you do requires "power", even if it is picking up my latte, right now (I wouldn't recommend it!).

Yes, James, I'm pointing at that and specifically saying that aikido is an art of power. And then I'm saying that what's being taught these days produces people who are (knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or unconsciously) seeking power while also having to deny that they are seeking it. Yet they are constantly expressing a need for power by criticizing those who frankly, consciously and unashamedly admit that they are seeking to develop power in aikido.

To Moshe Feldenkrais, one of most important problems for a human being was "crossed motivation," or trying to fulfill multiple aims at once--especially when those aims are in conflict. To him, direct and single-minded action was pure in both mind and body. But when one is attempting to perform an action while also having a separate intention, the main action will be seriously weakened and will likely fail.

Another of his most important concerns was compulsion, or feeling a serious need to do a given thing that's not really necessary. Some people get this way about training, some about bowing or using Japanese words or phrases. A person acting from compulsion will become increasingly uncomfortable, to the point of sickness, the longer he/she refrains from enacting the compulsion.

In aikido, many people train and speak compulsively but also with crossed motivations of wanting power yet having to deny that they want it. And this may be the source of their fear of power. I think we all, and the art of aikido, will be better off when everyone acknowledges the natural function and need of power and connects it more to grace and harmony (as with the tail of the whale) than to political (organizational and intellectual) control of others.

David

David Orange
11-09-2012, 08:49 PM
(to Chris Li)
I have no better Idea of what Ueshiba thought, then you do.

Sounds oddly like "You have no better idea of what Ueshiba thought than I do."

I think Chris Li has an unusually clear understanding of Morihei Ueshiba's ideas and his insights are always well above average, not only because of his translation work, but because of the wide range of top level aikido teachers he has met and trained with.

Brian Beach
11-09-2012, 08:57 PM
Well, but let's say you can control yourself beautifully...but you have no strength?

I remember discussing violence with some aikido students once and a guy proffered: "Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose."

However, deep reds and blacks are the colors of facts.

Make no mistake, when it comes down to red and black, budo is intended to produce people who can stop the violence. We can be philosophical and say, "That means stop the violence within our own hearts." And that, too, is true, on an abstract level, but if you have to run while saying it because you can't stop the other person who is being seriously violent...it's not budo. And aikido is budo. It develops power, and not unconsciously or unintentionally or accidentally. And if you deny the need to develop power in aikido, then what you're doing is not aikido.

Best wishes.

David

I didn't mean it in an aiki bunny sort of way. You can't hit or throw unless you are in the proper position, you can't get in the proper position unless you are in control of yourself. Everyday you train you gain more control of your own actions. That is power. You control your own structure so you can affect his.

gregstec
11-09-2012, 09:50 PM
you don't need cheese for a ham sandwich. a bit of lettuce, butter, pickles and onions with a bit of humus would be fine. for a ham and cheese sandwich, then yes, you do need the cheese. have you consider some kimchee with black forest? :)

*sorry for side track. please resume the discussion on the nature of power and us human nature. *

Just had some home made kimchee mixed in with potato salad - very interesting taste and very good as well :)

Greg

Cady Goldfield
11-09-2012, 09:55 PM
Just had some home made kimchee mixed in with potato salad - very interesting taste and very good as well :)

Greg

Try mixing a cup of kimchee into your sphagetti sauce. Yum. Oops. I just contributed to off-topica.:o

gregstec
11-09-2012, 10:03 PM
Try mixing a cup of kimchee into your sphagetti sauce. Yum. Oops. I just contributed to off-topica.:o

Oh, I have done that as well as other things like mixing in with mashed potatoes, topping on hamburgers, and in scrambled eggs - every thread needs a little intermission every once in a while :)

Greg

David Orange
11-09-2012, 10:21 PM
Aikido has grown way beyond Ueshiba.

What?

How do you define "beyond"?

Usually, it means "surpassed," but aikido certainly has never again attained the heights that Ueshiba expressed, much less surpassed him.

If you're interested only in Ueshiba that is fine, but the Aikido community has grown and changed in the last 50 years or so. What you are saying is analogous to every painter trying to copy and continue what, say, Matisse did. Matisse was great, and showed us lot's of things, but he's not the end of painting. Proving what Ueshiba said or didn't say doesn't change anything. Aikido is not a Koryu, it is a living system.

The main way I see "the aikido community's" having grown since Morihei is in numbers, certainly not in quality. What I advocate (and I think Chris Li and the IP seekers will concur) is not to mimic Morihei, as you imply with the comment about Matisse. We're not saying to copy and continue what Matisse did unless you simply mean "create original and powerful works of art." In fact, it's the general aikido community that continues to do the same 3,000 techniques (actually about fifteen variations each of about fifteen main techniques) over and over with no "live" quality and uke falling down no mater what happens. So, if that's what you mean by "grown," I'm afraid that's another serious fallacy.

What Ueshiba said was intended to free us of the need to "do aikido" within that limited number of set techniques and the unreal relationship between uke and nage. Takemusu Aiki is the spontaneous generation of technique based on the use's response to contacting someone with a "budo body." That's both doing what Ueshiba did and doing something he never did, rather than always looking like you're doing what he did...yet with something noticeably lacking.

Frankly I have no idea if what you think Ueshiba was getting at was right wrong or indifferent. I'll let you and the historians hash that one out. But the Aikido community outside of the internet, that I speak with, doesn't sound like the picture you are painting (pun intended).

It's sort of like having a "physics community" that has its own version of physics, though, isn't it? Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

ChrisHein
11-09-2012, 10:23 PM
All well and good for the individual human, but not to apply to the art that came down from Ueshiba. Aikido is powerful and much of its grace comes from its power. Those who denigrate power out-and-out, then try to neuter aikido by teaching that it should have no power...to be kind, they're on a seriously mistaken path.

Wait, are you saying that the main idea behind Aikido training is to get more power?

If you are saying that, then I can say unequivocally, we have night and day ideas about Aikido. I don't think that is what Ueshiba was saying, and even if he was, which I absolutely do not think he was, I don't think that is what today's Aikido community is about.

I believe Aikido is about learning how our "power" fits together, ideally in a mutually beneficial way.

ChrisHein
11-09-2012, 11:13 PM
Whoa,
I just went back and see that I missed a lot of what was said, there was an explosion of posts I didn't see.

After reading those posts, I resign from this conversation.

Janet Rosen
11-09-2012, 11:31 PM
Just had some home made kimchee mixed in with potato salad - very interesting taste and very good as well :)

Greg

Sez this kimchee maker: the best sandwich I ever had was after coming home from dojo the other night craving protein, sweet, savory and spicy:
peanutbutter, a thin layer of orange marmalade, a nice layer of my latest kimchee.
MDH sez in over 35 yrs he never saw me look so happy over a meal!:)
(sorry, Chris, for contributing to thread drift....)

David Orange
11-10-2012, 12:03 AM
Wait, are you saying that the main idea behind Aikido training is to get more power?

If you are saying that, then I can say unequivocally, we have night and day ideas about Aikido.

To put it politely....yes.

I don't think that is what Ueshiba was saying,

You haven't read the translations, have you? Do you know anyone who knew him? You couldn't get near him without being very strong, in the first place, and if you hung out with him, you had to get much stronger to keep up. It's a kind of dumb question, frankly, Chris. It's like saying, "You mean the Army is about fighting?" Read what he said. Look what he did. What were all those hours of solo suburi and spear thrusting about? He didn't have ribbons on his bokken or yari. Those were weapons for him. What do you think he was doing?

and even if he was, which I absolutely do not think he was, I don't think that is what today's Aikido community is about.

Will someone someday read this thread and be so obtuse as to say "What did David Orange mean when he wrote this? Was he really saying that aikido was about developing power?" Of course not. No one will care what I said. But I'm saying it as plain as day and you don't understand it? All I'm saying is what Ueshiba said. He sought and developed great power and those who followed him in aikido also developed great power--though none, apparently, as great as he did--only those who followed his teacher, Takeda Sokaku, reached his level.

And as for "today's aikido community...." well, you just don't get out much, do you? Much of my point here is that today's aikido community has lost the way.

I believe Aikido is about learning how our "power" fits together, ideally in a mutually beneficial way.

And some believe it's a ribbon dance. And some believe it's a place where, when you get good enough, you get to wear a skirt. But you admit that it still, at base, is a way to develop "power". You're so afraid of the word itself that you have to put it in quotes. Why is it so difficult to deal with natural facts? It's like saying, "Today's tigers don't eat meat anymore." But you only pretend to go into the cage with them....that should tell you something.

James Sawers
11-10-2012, 12:07 AM
Yes, James, I'm pointing at that and specifically saying that aikido is an art of power. And then I'm saying that what's being taught these days produces people who are (knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or unconsciously) seeking power while also having to deny that they are seeking it. Yet they are constantly expressing a need for power by criticizing those who frankly, consciously and unashamedly admit that they are seeking to develop power in aikido.

To Moshe Feldenkrais, one of most important problems for a human being was "crossed motivation," or trying to fulfill multiple aims at once--especially when those aims are in conflict. To him, direct and single-minded action was pure in both mind and body. But when one is attempting to perform an action while also having a separate intention, the main action will be seriously weakened and will likely fail.

Another of his most important concerns was compulsion, or feeling a serious need to do a given thing that's not really necessary. Some people get this way about training, some about bowing or using Japanese words or phrases. A person acting from compulsion will become increasingly uncomfortable, to the point of sickness, the longer he/she refrains from enacting the compulsion.

In aikido, many people train and speak compulsively but also with crossed motivations of wanting power yet having to deny that they want it. And this may be the source of their fear of power. I think we all, and the art of aikido, will be better off when everyone acknowledges the natural function and need of power and connects it more to grace and harmony (as with the tail of the whale) than to political (organizational and intellectual) control of others.

David

I have only limited experience with Moshe Feldenkrais, but I'ved used some of his exercises and found them helpful.

I remember when I was in school many years ago, some psychologist (Adler, I believe), thought that the drive to/for power was a basic human need. Don't know if that theory is still current, but if so....

Anyway, to me, doing aikido effectively, using IP or not, involves the use of "power". It's just silly to think otherwise.....What else are you using?

In good practice......Jim.

Tom Verhoeven
11-10-2012, 11:58 AM
Not exactly, Tom. Those words are in the first paragraph, but are not posited as the purpose of aikido. I state "It's portrayed as a devastating martial art that requires no strength, yet the founder was absolutely powerful, almost beyond human limits, we would think. So people sign on with this, yet they have to deny that they're seeking "power"--especially "power over others." But....you fling people around like rag dolls. Or...you pretend to?"

What I refer to here is not the purpose, but the popular image of aikido. People see Ueshiba's power and are drawn to the art, but they then have to deny that they're seeking power, especially "power over others." But at base, they have to deny that they're seeing power when most, at heart, are really seeking power over others. Aikido is no more about having power over others than the whale seeks power over others: it doesn't have to seek what it has. Aikido has power. Training in aikido is to develop one's own personal power. It's a natural pursuit, inherent in the human heart.

I hope that makes it clearer.

David

But those words are part of your premise, which basically consists of circular reasoning.

Besides that I do not think that people are drawn to Aikido because of Ueshiba's power. Most people that start with Aikido have never seen demonstrations of O Sensei - it is usually the more experienced aikidoka that know a bit more about him or have seen him on film. Recent polls have shown that Ueshiba is not even among the most welknown Aikido teachers - people are more familiar with names as Tissier or Seagall. People have various reasons to practice Aikido - "seeking power over others" is not one that I have ever heard of. Throwing people and being thrown is just part of the art of Aikido. From this you cannot conclude that people are looking for power.

Tom

ChrisHein
11-10-2012, 12:34 PM
Well, maybe I can't help but come back, my level of attachment is high! HA!

Saying that the main Idea behind Aikido is "power" is like saying the main idea behind studying Judo is winning randori matches. That is part of the practice yes, so is losing randori, so is learning humility, so is social interaction, so is a great principle of yielding.

Ueshiba, liked power, so do I. I lift heavy weights, train and compete in sport martial arts, own and train with modern weapons. But if anyone said my life, and my practice are about gaining more power, I would say that they are crazy.

I respect power, and I respect humility. To say that one excludes the other is fool hardy. To say that the practice of Aikido is "about power" is no less an oversimplification then saying Aikido is "about siting in seiza". It's a part of the practice yes, maybe even a very big part, but there is so much more to it. Saying "my study of Aikido is about power" might be a little more on track.

I had a really bad reaction to this thread because it was right in my face. I came to Aikido looking for power. I had a bad life, and wanted to stop having one via the ability to physically dominate others. My first Aikido teacher (Patrick Cassidy) saw straight through this, and began to show me another way to live, through Aikido. Aikido helped to take me off of a never ending path of "need power" to a path of learning how to be pleased right where I am at this moment. If you'd like to talk about power, I would say that is it.

This doesn't mean you become a pacifist and let people walk all over you. It simply means that power is far from the goal.

Tom Verhoeven
11-10-2012, 12:54 PM
I didn't perceive Carsten to be disturbed in that. You realize, of course, that the taoist fighting arts are seriously deadly and make no bones about their purpose? They're not like aikido in that regard, but more like serious ken-jutsu. Once unleashed, serious damage is bound to happen.

People need to understand that once a human being decides on a course of serious violence, it requires serious strength to stop him or her, and make no mistake: it requires extreme power to stop such a person without injuring them. So aikido gives us a better philosophical and spiritual base than say bagua or xing yi. But without serious power behind it, that philosophy amounts to BS. And the seriously powerful bagua or xing yi artist always has the choice to destroy or to show mercy, so it might be better, for practical purposes, to study xing yi. In any case, saying we show mercy to someone is a joke if we don't have the capacity to destroy them, and most aikido people I've met talking about being merciful to an attacker...they're just jokers, to tell the truth.

Now, speaking of philosophy and spirituality, Morihei Ueshiba also spent countless hours in prayer, but I don't hear much about that from aikido people. I once posted a thread here called "The Power of Prayer," I think it was. It's been a few years ago, I guess. No one responded at all, if I recall correctly. But if an aikido person uses Ueshiba's statements on power to show that there is no need for power, why do they follow his art of "making people do what you want them to do," but they don't follow his practice of praying for hours each day? I submit that it can only be that, subconsciously at the very least, they do have a great desire for power. At the same time, the have a conscious belief that power is wrong. So they and their aikido become seriously conflicted, but rather than work it out in physical struggle, they form organizations and build up that kind of power, expressed mainly in deciding which rituals will be used and who will get or be denied rank.

FWIW

David
Taoism is not a philosophy of exerting power - rather the opposite. It explains how nature / the universe operates and we as human beings can be one with it. This does not include exerting power or a sense of struggle. Going with the flow is the active principle. That means often being on the right place on the right time. Which we could see as a martial art strategy.
That could very well lead to a martial art that is seriously deadly, but it is not the basis of Taoist philosophy.

Norito is part of my Aikido practice. I think it deepens my understanding and helps me connect with nature / the universe / kami sama. But I do not think that it is for everyone, Ueshiba himself pointed out that it was not necessary to do this in his way, as he assumed that everyone would experience this kind of spirituality in his own way or in his own religion. It is really not a fair statement to use this now as a proof that people have a great desire for power. Praying or not praying proves nothing.

Ever considered that your thinking may be upside down? Your premise seems to start with people who want to become warrior, therefor need power, therefor need to realize that "once a human being decides on a course of serious violence, it requires serious strength to stop him or her". What about people who are already a warrior, who have crossed the line of violence, who are all too well aware of their own violent potentials. What has Aikido has to offer them? More power?
Or grace, peace of mind, a sense of being connected with nature and the community?
That is after all what Shinto is about, Buddhism, Taoism is about, even the Oomoto kyo is about. That is what O Sensei was talking about.

Tom

Tom Verhoeven
11-10-2012, 01:12 PM
David,
It just struck me that you might be thinking about a particular Chinese or Japanese word or kanji when you are talking about "power" and that this has a particular relevance in your training?
Tom

David Orange
11-10-2012, 01:59 PM
But those words are part of your premise, which basically consists of circular reasoning.

Besides that I do not think that people are drawn to Aikido because of Ueshiba's power. Most people that start with Aikido have never seen demonstrations of O Sensei - it is usually the more experienced aikidoka that know a bit more about him or have seen him on film. Recent polls have shown that Ueshiba is not even among the most welknown Aikido teachers - people are more familiar with names as Tissier or Seagall. People have various reasons to practice Aikido - "seeking power over others" is not one that I have ever heard of. Throwing people and being thrown is just part of the art of Aikido. From this you cannot conclude that people are looking for power.

Tom

I'm not reasoning circularly. I'm looking at all the people I've known in aikido and all I've heard about. I can understand people not being drawn to power if they didn't get their impressions of aikido from Ueshiba, but if they got them from Tissier or Seagal??? Surely you're not saying they saw that and thought that aikido was any kind of peaceful art?

Years ago, I was training on a kata with one of my students and someone passing by shouted, "Stop trying to hurt that guy!"

I think most people, seeing aikido by Tissier or Seagal would, with no other experience, think that aikido is extremely violent. Surely, few untrained people could take Tissier's technique without injury.

So...if they see Tissier or Seagal as their first glimpse of aikido and decide, from that, to join...??? What is their motivation?

More than almost anyone I can think of, except perhaps Gozo Shioda, those two project a feeling of "power over others."

But if I'm wrong, what are people seeing there that motivates them to join aikido?

I am sure it is the allure of power, and it is only after they get involved that they are indoctrinated with the idea that they are not seeking power, which immediately begins corrupting their practice with conflicted motivations and more than a trace of hypocrisy.

What do you think I'm missing?

David

David Orange
11-10-2012, 02:10 PM
Saying that the main Idea behind Aikido is "power" is like saying the main idea behind studying Judo is winning randori matches.

How so? They're unrelated ideas. However, it is probably true that most people's original motivation for judo training is to win matches. It certainly is not to be beaten up in real life.

Don't forget Ueshiba's original motivation was to become strong so that no one could beat him as they had beaten his father over his political views.

To try to rationalize anything else out of that is just denial of reality.

Ueshiba, liked power, so do I. I lift heavy weights, train and compete in sport martial arts, own and train with modern weapons. But if anyone said my life, and my practice are about gaining more power, I would say that they are crazy.

And, as I've said, this is because your training has indoctrinated you with a compulsion to consciously deny what you actually seek.

I respect power, and I respect humility. To say that one excludes the other is fool hardy.

I think you were the one who said it, so...

I had a really bad reaction to this thread because it was right in my face. I came to Aikido looking for power.

Excellent. That was my original point. Why have we had to go through all your paragraphs denying it, just to get to that point? Well...because you now deny it, but it remains in your heart, though you intellectually deny it. If you lift weights and think that aikido techniques are based on carrying a bladed weapon, you own and train with modern weapons, etc., you are training for power.

And what is wrong with that?

What is wrong with the fact that aikido is an art of developing tremendous personal power? It doesn't take a saint to tell you to be careful with power and that power is not the end purpose of life. But if we deny the basic nature of aikido, it only damages the art.

I had a bad life, and wanted to stop having one via the ability to physically dominate others.

So you wanted "power over others," as I said is the common motivation of people who begin training. Why do so many people need to deny that basic truth?

David Orange
11-10-2012, 02:20 PM
David,
It just struck me that you might be thinking about a particular Chinese or Japanese word or kanji when you are talking about "power" and that this has a particular relevance in your training?
Tom

No. I'm talking about physical human power. It's a necessary part of life and it's a necessary part of aikido. What I'm criticizing is people who are drawn to the power but have to deny that fact. And this confuses their practice and, if they teach, confuses their students. And if they present this to the world, it confuses potential students. That is, if they appear to have power. If they appear to be weak and then say that aikido is not about power, it just confirms people's image that aikido is weak.

If someone is already strong and comes to aikido to learn to be smooth and graceful, well, they already have power and they're not trying to lose it. They're simply trying to refine it.

It is only with those who deny the nature of power in aikido that I have any disagreement.

David Orange
11-10-2012, 03:42 PM
...are you saying that the main idea behind Aikido training is to get more power?

In case I expressed this less clearly before, it's inherent in the nature of aikido to develop power and it requires power to do aikido, so power is a central concern of aikido--both how to develop it and how to manage it, both in oneself and in other people. To try to conduct aikido without power is like trying to run a car without gasoline. Or electricity (also a form of power).

Without power, everything else in aikido is appearance and image.

David

morph4me
11-10-2012, 03:44 PM
My experience as a bouncer makes me think that it is extremely possible to do aikido on people intent on harming me in a way that leaves them unharmed, yet somehow out of the building. Sankyo is pretty useful stuff, but I'm only bouncing drunks, tweakers, disaffected college students, and pissed off cage fighters.

I have no doubt that it's possible. I just woudn't depend on it, there are too many variables

Tom Verhoeven
11-10-2012, 04:02 PM
I'm not reasoning circularly. I'm looking at all the people I've known in aikido and all I've heard about. I can understand people not being drawn to power if they didn't get their impressions of aikido from Ueshiba, but if they got them from Tissier or Seagal??? Surely you're not saying they saw that and thought that aikido was any kind of peaceful art?

Years ago, I was training on a kata with one of my students and someone passing by shouted, "Stop trying to hurt that guy!"

I think most people, seeing aikido by Tissier or Seagal would, with no other experience, think that aikido is extremely violent. Surely, few untrained people could take Tissier's technique without injury.

So...if they see Tissier or Seagal as their first glimpse of aikido and decide, from that, to join...??? What is their motivation?

More than almost anyone I can think of, except perhaps Gozo Shioda, those two project a feeling of "power over others."

But if I'm wrong, what are people seeing there that motivates them to join aikido?

I am sure it is the allure of power, and it is only after they get involved that they are indoctrinated with the idea that they are not seeking power, which immediately begins corrupting their practice with conflicted motivations and more than a trace of hypocrisy.

What do you think I'm missing?

David
1 People see Ueshiba’s power and are drawn to the art.
2 People deny that they seek power.
3 People at heart are really seeking power because they practice Aikido
That is circular reasoning.

That in itself is a fallacy, but I added a few counter-arguments. For some reason you just skipped them. You did respond on my counterargument that people in general do not know Ueshiba and have not seen any of his demonstrations. You tried to replace Ueshiba's name with that of others like Tissier. But the core of your premise is based on what you say about Ueshiba's power. It weakens your whole premise if you are willing to accept any other name.
It would then become something like "people are drawn to Aikido because of its great power". It seems to me that a lot of other martial arts look powerful or even more powerful - why would people choose in particular for Aikido if it is only about power?
My other arguments still stand and I am not going to repeat them here.

The problem with simplistic ideas is that they quickly turn into a circular reasoning. I think everyone is familiar with Freud's circular reasoning; every @ or # or 69 is about sex and that is just my qwerty keyboard.

Your notion that Ueshiba's power is the only thing that draws people to Aikido and that people who have other reasons are in denial is a similar kind of reasoning. Even if it was true, it would just be a tautology.

Tom

David Orange
11-10-2012, 04:05 PM
Taoism is not a philosophy of exerting power - rather the opposite.

Taoism does not exclude anything. It encompasses everything in its time and place.

It explains how nature / the universe operates and we as human beings can be one with it. This does not include exerting power or a sense of struggle.

It includes everything that is part of nature. Sometimes struggle is necessary just to survive--even for such a mighty creature of nature as the whale.

Going with the flow is the active principle. That means often being on the right place on the right time. Which we could see as a martial art strategy.
That could very well lead to a martial art that is seriously deadly, but it is not the basis of Taoist philosophy.

Taoism includes everything. And the taoist fighting arts were created by taoist priests--not amateurs with an interest in taoism. And taoist martial arts are lethal.

Ueshiba himself pointed out that it was not necessary to do this in his way, as he assumed that everyone would experience this kind of spirituality in his own way or in his own religion. It is really not a fair statement to use this now as a proof that people have a great desire for power. Praying or not praying proves nothing.

But if one is not developing power, but spirituality...why copy the powerful martial side of the man, but discard his whole spiritual way? In fact, modern aikido and most in "the aikido community" have discarded both.

Ever considered that your thinking may be upside down?

Mochizuki Sensei once told me, "Always look at everything backward," and I've always considered that one of the most important things he told me. So I look at everything frontward as well as backward and I think it's a lack in thoroughness to look at things only frontward.

Your premise seems to start with people who want to become warrior, therefor need power...

There's where you misunderstand me. I don't say they need power because they want to become warriors. I say they simply need power even to live. Their bodies naturally acquire power as they live (unless they're pure couch potatoes) and when it comes to martial arts, there are naturally going to be very strong people involved, so the need for power only increases, even as the practice of martial arts increases power.

However, I do say that people are drawn to the martial arts power of aikido. Otherwise, why don't they go into yoga or become priests or spend hours each day in prayer? Typically, they don't. But they do spend a lot of time training in martial art techniques. So they must have been drawn to the power. Otherwise, they would be praying.

But you say that most people were attracted by the likes of Tissier and Seagal --neither of whom is known for prayer--so...they were drawn to power. And then aikido training and "the aikido community" teaches them to consciously "not want" power...which is to "not want" nature.

David

Krystal Locke
11-10-2012, 04:12 PM
I have no doubt that it's possible. I just woudn't depend on it, there are too many variables

What do you suggest I depend on when it is my job to control and remove violent people without injuring them? I seriously train in a serious school in a serious art that is perfect for what I do. Do I have other tools at my disposal when I'm working an event? Sure. I've got a radio, the rest of my crew, I usually carry a knife for cutting zipties, some of the other people carry tasers.... Mostly, I have me, my brain, and aikido. I've only bounced for a handful of years, and have only stopped a couple hundred fights, maybe, but so far, what I've got has been enough. Am I saying I'm invincible? Nope. Am I saying I've successfully used aikido to keep me and my bad folks safe? Yup. This shit works and I'm sticking with it.

Tom Verhoeven
11-10-2012, 04:19 PM
No. I'm talking about physical human power. It's a necessary part of life and it's a necessary part of aikido. What I'm criticizing is people who are drawn to the power but have to deny that fact. And this confuses their practice and, if they teach, confuses their students. And if they present this to the world, it confuses potential students. That is, if they appear to have power. If they appear to be weak and then say that aikido is not about power, it just confirms people's image that aikido is weak.

If someone is already strong and comes to aikido to learn to be smooth and graceful, well, they already have power and they're not trying to lose it. They're simply trying to refine it.

It is only with those who deny the nature of power in aikido that I have any disagreement.

So we ARE talking about physical power, you have adapted your premise. As has been stated before on this thread there is a limit to physical power. That kind of power will peak at the age of 30 - 40. Ueshiba stated that their was a limit to his physical power and in addition admitted that he had lost more than once because he tried to overpower the other with physical power or with technique. So human physical power is not at the heart of Aikido - Aikido is about something else.

Personally I derive a lot joy in discovering and applying that something else.

And I can reassure - it does not confuse my students.

Tom

David Orange
11-10-2012, 04:35 PM
1 People see Ueshiba's power and are drawn to the art.
2 People deny that they seek power.
3 People at heart are really seeking power because they practice Aikido
That is circular reasoning.

No, it's not circular reasoning. It is a description of the mental contradiction that "the aikido community" which has replaced true standards is inflicting on its students. This was never a problem in Morihei Ueshiba's day. People knew what they wanted and Morihei taught them how to get it, but few understood what he was saying. Much of what he said that was interpreted as religious and peaceful was really direct instruction on how to harness and refine human power. And it was not primarily "power over others," but "power within oneself."

That in itself is a fallacy, but I added a few counter-arguments. For some reason you just skipped them. You did respond on my counterargument that people in general do not know Ueshiba and have not seen any of his demonstrations. You tried to replace Ueshiba's name with that of others like Tissier.

No, you substituted Tissier and Seagal for Ueshiba. I elaborated on that and pointed out that neither of them is known for prayer or particular spirituality and both project quite a violent power in demonstration (and Seagal, in particular, in movies). So people who are drawn to aikido by seeing such people as that don't even have an image of an old guy in prayer to balance the images of throwing someone around. They come to aikido because they see someone throwing people around. And you say they're not coming to attain power? Why else would they come to such examples?

But the core of your premise is based on what you say about Ueshiba's power. It weakens your whole premise if you are willing to accept any other name.

I only recently became aware of people like Tissier, though I have known of Seagal for decades. My only examples of real aikido, however, were Ueshiba, Mochizuki, Shioda, Saito and a few others. All known for tremendous power.

It would then become something like "people are drawn to Aikido because of its great power".

I say they are drawn by its image of power--sometimes expressed rather violently. And they see that before they know of its spiritual side at all.

It seems to me that a lot of other martial arts look powerful or even more powerful - why would people choose in particular for Aikido if it is only about power?

I was first attracted to aikido after some experience in kyokushin karate with a direct student of Mas Oyama, where I had a bull-killer as an exemplar. I saw an article in East/West Journal called Aikido and the Mind of the West, which focused mostly on the spiritual interests of Morihei Ueshiba and the tactic of using the attacker's energy and efforts to throw him. It was another approach to power--a trickier kind of power that also valued protecting the attacker (while kyokushin focused on knocking him out if not killing him). I wanted something that would let me not harm the attacker, but I would have considered it a waste of time if it did not pretty well guarantee the ability to completely dominate a violent attacker. So power was a major factor.

Now, I think most people see it similarly in the beginning. 1) they see an effective fighting art, then 2) hear that it uses the other person's power, then 3) hear that it values protecting the attacker. But they really want that power of an effective fighting art, first.

All this is fine and natural for human beings. In my case, I wound up in yoseikan aikido, where the naturalness of seeking strength and power have always been understood. We were taught not to use strength in technique and not to achieve technique by force; however, development of strength was natural in the process of training because much of the practice involved strength-building exercises as well as relaxation and sensitivity exercises.

However, for many people, a fourth point arises and creates the problem I am addressing here: 4) "the aikido community" teaches students that desiring to become strong is, more or less, evil and they shouldn't do it.

Now, the student is still the same person, with the same natural motivations and the same point of origin, which can never be changed. So they have to bury the motivation to develop power and express a conscious disdain for power and its development, which sets up a basic contradiction in their thinking, which is entirely as bad as the quest of attaining power. To be untrue to oneself is quite the opposite of "masakatsu agatsu".

Your notion that Ueshiba's power is the only thing that draws people to Aikido and that people who have other reasons are in denial is a similar kind of reasoning.

Sorry, Tom. You have circularized that reasoning, yourself. I did specify Ueshiba as the image of power, but there are many such images and I simply say that people are first drawn to the image of power in aikido demonstrations, regardless of who projects it. Of course, it's possible that some are drawn by the ribbon-dancing guy Henry Ellis loves so much...but I don't think that's a significant percentage.

David

David Orange
11-10-2012, 04:37 PM
What do you suggest I depend on when it is my job to control and remove violent people without injuring them? I seriously train in a serious school in a serious art that is perfect for what I do. Do I have other tools at my disposal when I'm working an event? Sure. I've got a radio, the rest of my crew, I usually carry a knife for cutting zipties, some of the other people carry tasers.... Mostly, I have me, my brain, and aikido. I've only bounced for a handful of years, and have only stopped a couple hundred fights, maybe, but so far, what I've got has been enough. Am I saying I'm invincible? Nope. Am I saying I've successfully used aikido to keep me and my bad folks safe? Yup. This shit works and I'm sticking with it.

Sounds pretty powerful. Would you keep it up if it didn't work?

David Orange
11-10-2012, 04:46 PM
So we ARE talking about physical power, you have adapted your premise.

???

Read the first post, Tom. I illustrate power with the crushing tail of the leviathan.

How could that be interpreted as anything but physical power?

I've been talking about physical power the whole time, along with whatever spillover emerges as intellectual and/or spiritual. People see aikido as a way to power. They join. They are then taught (in what has apparently become the mainstream of aikido today) that the desire for power is inherently evil. So, if they continue, they have to deny what is their real inner motive for training. I've said this same thing over and over.

As has been stated before on this thread there is a limit to physical power. That kind of power will peak at the age of 30 - 40. Ueshiba stated that their was a limit to his physical power and in addition admitted that he had lost more than once because he tried to overpower the other with physical power or with technique. So human physical power is not at the heart of Aikido - Aikido is about something else.

It's not physical power that declines. It's muscular power that is limited. Internal Power is physical/mental power not based on muscle, but it is a body skill. It will not work with the mind alone. But that is the center of "power" as Ueshiba taught. And many "regular aikido" people's resistance to this idea is that IP/IS/aiki proponents are doing a bad thing by trying to attain this power--that Ueshiba sought and developed. These people are afraid of "power"--any kind of power--though it is natural and necessary to life and its development is a natural human drive.

Takemusu Aiki is spontaneous creation of technique based on the attacker's contact with the "budo body" of the IP/aiki practitioner.

This is the point I've been making from the beginning of this thread.

David

ChrisHein
11-10-2012, 07:17 PM
David,

It seems to me like there is a tone of exclusivity to having power, that's why I asked "do you mean the main idea behind Aikido training is to get more power?". I didn't ask is having power a part of Aikido, or do some people who like Aikido like power. So you believe that the main motivation behind training in Aikido, for the vast majority of people who train in Aikido, is to gain more power?

I could make that same argument, and say that the main reason people train in Aikido is so that they can better sit in seiza.

Aikido is one of the few martial arts, and perhaps the only widely available martial art that does a lot of work from the seiza position. Everyone denies that this is why they are really training in Aikido, but why else train in this art that is all about seiza, it's because they want to sit more properly in seiza. They can see how well Ueshiba sat in seiza, Ueshiba was always talking about how important suwari waza is, and he looked so good sitting there. People pretend that this isn't the reason they train in Aikido, but otherwise why would they train in Aikido, the most seiza filled martial art. If they would simply supplement their Aikido training with some tea ceremony, they could get what they really want. Which is the reason they train in Aikido in the first place. Because Aikido is all about seiza.

That argument hits most of the main points you hit in your power argument. So is seiza the main reason people train in Aikido?

If people really want power, why train in Aikido at all? People who train in MMA, firearms and survival have much more civilian power, in terms of physical ability than any Aikido person who is not training in those things. Doctors, Lawyers, and politicians have much more social power than any Aikidoka who isn't one of those things. Members of the military have more military power than any Aikido person who is not in the military. Aikido is really pretty low on the list of things to give one power, if power is what you are seeking. It's really a much better way to learn how to sit more properly in seiza.

Tom Verhoeven
11-10-2012, 08:47 PM
No, it's not circular reasoning. It is a description of the mental contradiction that "the aikido community" which has replaced true standards is inflicting on its students.
- No, this is a contradiction that you have contrived, it is not something that the "Aikido community" experiences. And you may not see this as a circular reasoning, but you are using a premise to prove an argument that proves your premise. That is invalid reasoning.

If your premise is that people are drawn to Aikido because they seek power - could you prove that by giving some figures ? In how many schools is this happening? How many Aikido styles? How many Aikido organisations?
Referring to one person's friend is not sufficient

No, you substituted Tissier and Seagal for Ueshiba. I elaborated on that and pointed out that neither of them is known for prayer or particular spirituality and both project quite a violent power in demonstration (and Seagal, in particular, in movies). So people who are drawn to aikido by seeing such people as that don't even have an image of an old guy in prayer to balance the images of throwing someone around. They come to aikido because they see someone throwing people around. And you say they're not coming to attain power? Why else would they come to such examples?


-Now that is called cheating; I did not substitute Tissier and Seagal for Ueshiba. I mentioned their name as a counterargument to your premise on Ueshiba's power. You then went on substituting Tissier and Seagal for Ueshiba. With this kind of reasoning that you are expressing here, there is no real exchange of arguments possible.

If people are coming to Aikido with an image of Tissier or Seagal, would that not solve your issue? And therefor counter your argument? Or are they the people who are troubled with this contradiction?

I only recently became aware of people like Tissier, though I have known of Seagal for decades. My only examples of real aikido, however, were Ueshiba, Mochizuki, Shioda, Saito and a few others. All known for tremendous power.

I have trained with students of Tissier since the eighties. Never went to any of his classes though.

I say they are drawn by its image of power--sometimes expressed rather violently. And they see that before they know of its spiritual side at all.

Yes, but can you prove that? Why are they not drawn to Aikido for the beauty of it? I know I was.

I was first attracted to aikido after some experience in kyokushin karate with a direct student of Mas Oyama, where I had a bull-killer as an exemplar. I saw an article in East/West Journal called Aikido and the Mind of the West, which focused mostly on the spiritual interests of Morihei Ueshiba and the tactic of using the attacker's energy and efforts to throw him. It was another approach to power--a trickier kind of power that also valued protecting the attacker (while kyokushin focused on knocking him out if not killing him). I wanted something that would let me not harm the attacker, but I would have considered it a waste of time if it did not pretty well guarantee the ability to completely dominate a violent attacker. So power was a major factor.

Well, here at least we have something in common. I studied as well with a direct student of Mas Oyama. He was also a direct student of Sawai - Mas Oyama's teacher. At the time my teacher taught Kyokushin karate and Sawai's Taikiken. Although influenced by both Budo I had a bigger interest in Taikiken.

Now, I think most people see it similarly in the beginning. 1) they see an effective fighting art, then 2) hear that it uses the other person's power, then 3) hear that it values protecting the attacker. But they really want that power of an effective fighting art, first.

All this is fine and natural for human beings. In my case, I wound up in yoseikan aikido, where the naturalness of seeking strength and power have always been understood. We were taught not to use strength in technique and not to achieve technique by force; however, development of strength was natural in the process of training because much of the practice involved strength-building exercises as well as relaxation and sensitivity exercises.

I wound up practicing Shorinji Kempo - and I could say the same about it as you are saying about Yoseikan Budo. So your image of seeking power as a goal comes from this?

However, for many people, a fourth point arises and creates the problem I am addressing here: 4) "the aikido community" teaches students that desiring to become strong is, more or less, evil and they shouldn't do it.

Again, who is teaching that to become strong is wrong? Which teachers, which schools. Surely you cannot mean all aikido schools and all aikido teachers!

More as a general point; strength, becoming strong, having power, exerting power and over powering someone have not only different meaning, but also a different philosophical history. Not just in daily life, but also in the history of martial arts.

Now, the student is still the same person, with the same natural motivations and the same point of origin, which can never be changed. So they have to bury the motivation to develop power and express a conscious disdain for power and its development, which sets up a basic contradiction in their thinking, which is entirely as bad as the quest of attaining power. To be untrue to oneself is quite the opposite of "masakatsu agatsu".

Sorry, Tom. You have circularized that reasoning, yourself. I did specify Ueshiba as the image of power, but there are many such images and I simply say that people are first drawn to the image of power in aikido demonstrations, regardless of who projects it. Of course, it's possible that some are drawn by the ribbon-dancing guy Henry Ellis loves so much...but I don't think that's a significant percentage.

That is not much of a counter-argument. I gave a clear schema of how your circular reasoning works here. It is not my circular reasoning, it is yours. Even if you were to take away the image of Ueshiba's power, you still end up with the same kind of reasoning.



Tom

David Orange
11-10-2012, 09:17 PM
So you believe that the main motivation behind training in Aikido, for the vast majority of people who train in Aikido, is to gain more power?

Yes. I believe that that is naturally the original motivation for the vast majority of people who begin training in aikido and that it largely underlies all subsequently formed motivations. Further, I believe that they are taught that the natural desire to grow strong is somehow "evil" and that this peculiar teaching creates a conflict between their inner motivation and their consciously understood motivations, which consciously supplant their original motivation but cannot replace it at the deeper levels of their personalities. And this peculiarly instilled conflict of motivations weakens the character of aikido and creates a sort of duplicitous, dishonest element in the minds and characters of people so trained.

I could make that same argument, and say that the main reason people train in Aikido is so that they can better sit in seize.

Sure, you could. It just wouldn't hold water and it wouldn't fly, either. You might get some people to subscribe to it, but only if they also have that crossed motivation and have adapted with that subtle inner dishonesty which both seeks something and denies seeking it at the same time.

If they wanted to sit in seize, they could learn cha no yu, shod or many other pursuits that don't involve throwing people around (or appearing to). Why did they choose the one pursuit that emphasizes throwing people around (or pretending to)? And why the one that gives black belts, which are internationally recognized as signs of power?

Aikido is one of the few martial arts, and perhaps the only widely available martial art that does a lot of work from the seiza position. Everyone denies that this is why they are really training in Aikido, but why else train in this art that is all about seiza, it's because they want to sit more properly in seiza. They can see how well Ueshiba sat in seiza, Ueshiba was always talking about how important suwari waza is, and he looked so good sitting there. People pretend that this isn't the reason they train in Aikido, but otherwise why would they train in Aikido, the most seiza filled martial art. If they would simply supplement their Aikido training with some tea ceremony, they could get what they really want. Which is the reason they train in Aikido in the first place. Because Aikido is all about seiza.

That argument hits most of the main points you hit in your power argument. So is seiza the main reason people train in Aikido?

No. It's the throwing-around of other people in dynamic poses and, of course...those black belts!

If people really want power, why train in Aikido at all?

Because real aikido, from the root--from Ueshiba and his uchi deshi (especially those from Ushigome)--is hellaciously powerful and it develops incredible power, much unlike the drivel that is churned out by most of the modern "aikido community" which is the main source of the myth that seeking power is inherently evil.

People who train in MMA, firearms and survival have much more civilian power, in terms of physical ability than any Aikido person who is not training in those things.

Well...that's a shallow view of what aikido is, you know. What did Mochizuki tell Abe? "What do you think Aikido is? Do you think it involves only the twisting of hands?" He said, "We use kicking techniques or anything else. I even used artillery. Martial arts, guns and artillery are all aikido."

I, myself, have not used artillery. But I was uchi deshi to this man who was deputy governor of three provinces in Mongolia during WWII. That's the kind of power produced by aikido. Of course...the modern "aikido community" probably won't' give you much along those lines. So your impressions are understandable. But Kevin Levitt has used artillery, I'm pretty sure, so his perspective on aikido is probably different from yours. It's a principle that underlies all human conflict and power is at its root.

Doctors, Lawyers, and politicians have much more social power than any Aikidoka who isn't one of those things.

Is it wrong for them to have such power? Power simply is what it is and in any situation that calls for any given kind of power, it's better to have more than needed than less.

Members of the military have more military power than any Aikido person who is not in the military.

Not all of them. A new graduate of basic training, a cook, a clerk or a supply corporal probably doesn't have much physical training. They may have more authority within the military than any non-military person, but why is it that so many martial arts guys have trained the Navy SEALS? I think it really depends on the military man and on the martial artist.

Aikido is really pretty low on the list of things to give one power, if power is what you are seeking. It's really a much better way to learn how to sit more properly in seiza.

Again, Chris, they kind of aikido you have learned from the "aikido community" you're involved in has apparently been pretty low in capacity, so I can see how you might think that way. I can only tell you that my aikido has been MMA from 1976 on. It's more than twisting hands and stepping. It is an art of global power. Maybe I should have realized...well, some of the readers here do have a pretty deep perspective, so I'm sure my efforts are not entirely wasted.

Best wishes.

David

ChrisHein
11-10-2012, 10:04 PM
David,
Your argument is really getting hard to understand.
So, you believe that people who train with modern firearms are not more physically powerful, in a fight, then someone with something they learned in Aikido, even the super Aikido you know about? In China's boxer rebellion I think we already saw what happens to expert martial artists, many of whom I would assume had what you call "IP" when they face men trained with firearms.

It's not wrong for politicians to have social power, I never said it was wrong, you did. But I am saying, that if you're interested in social power, you should work on being a politician and not an Aikidoka. I was trying to express how limited the study of Aikido is compared to other pursuits of social power. If people doing Aikido were focused on getting social power, if that was their primary interest, they wouldn't be wasting time with Aikido. Obama never studied Aikido (not to my knowledge anyways) yet he is the president of a powerful country. If seeking power, there are many better ways then Aikido training.

I find that it would be far more likely that people training in Aikido might come to Aikido thinking that they are looking for power, when in fact they are trying to discover something else. That is why they choose an avenue of study that might seem powerful, yet really isn't. The good one's who stick around, figure out that they were never looking for power in the first place, they evolve, and hopefully add to the Aikido community.

I can only tell you that my aikido has been MMA from 1976 on. It's more than twisting hands and stepping. It is an art of global power.

David

If your art is global power, I think you've chosen unwisely. Not because power is wrong, not because I am scared of it, or fear it. Simply because there are better ways to get it.

I think I can see where the rest of this conversation is going...

James Sawers
11-10-2012, 10:05 PM
Chris Hein wrote:
So you believe that the main motivation behind training in Aikido, for the vast majority of people who train in Aikido, is to gain more power?


Yes. I believe that that is naturally the original motivation for the vast majority of people who begin training in aikido and that it largely underlies all subsequently formed motivations. Further, I believe that they are taught that the natural desire to grow strong is somehow "evil" and that this peculiar teaching creates a conflict between their inner motivation and their consciously understood motivations, which consciously supplant their original motivation but cannot replace it at the deeper levels of their personalities. And this peculiarly instilled conflict of motivations weakens the character of aikido and creates a sort of duplicitous, dishonest element in the minds and characters of people so trained. David

All arguments aside here, the above quote from David looks like a good thesis for a paper.....???

David Orange
11-10-2012, 11:18 PM
Quote David:
No, it's not circular reasoning. It is a description of the mental contradiction that "the aikido community" which has replaced true standards is inflicting on its students.

Quote Tom- No, this is a contradiction that you have contrived, it is not something that the "Aikido community" experiences. And you may not see this as a circular reasoning, but you are using a premise to prove an argument that proves your premise. That is invalid reasoning.

No, it's not a contradiction that I contrived. I just haven't quoted the exact people who have been preaching this fallacy. But I've met it in teacher after teacher, both in person and online, most of them having no real skill, but lots of opinions. They want to wear the black belt and claim multiple degrees of it, and show "devastating" techniques in class that would only make a serious attacker laugh. Yet they are firm in claiming that "aikido is not about developing power". It's just a sort of hedge should they ever show up beaten up because they actually tried to use some of their stuff in an emergency. If they didn't really hope to attain power, they wouldn't have spent so much time in martial arts classes and they wouldn't show their naive students how nasty (and powerful) their beautiful techniques can actually be, if necessary. But they never fail to preach how bad it is to seek technique that will definitely be effective because seeking such things indicates a desire for power...which is bad. They are the ones who set up the Catch 22. I'm just pointing it out. I didn't make the circular reasoning: I'm illuminating it.

Quote Tom: If your premise is that people are drawn to Aikido because they seek power - could you prove that by giving some figures ? In how many schools is this happening? How many Aikido styles? How many Aikido organisations?
Referring to one person's friend is not sufficient

I can't tell you how many whales are left in the oceans, but I know it's far fewer than when Melville was writing. And of the aikido people who started because they wanted power...I can only guess.

Quote David
No, you substituted Tissier and Seagal for Ueshiba. I elaborated on that and pointed out that neither of them is known for prayer or particular spirituality and both project quite a violent power in demonstration (and Seagal, in particular, in movies). So people who are drawn to aikido by seeing such people as that don't even have an image of an old guy in prayer to balance the images of throwing someone around. They come to aikido because they see someone throwing people around. And you say they're not coming to attain power? Why else would they come to such examples?

Quote Tom-Now that is called cheating; I did not substitute Tissier and Seagal for Ueshiba. I mentioned their name as a counterargument to your premise on Ueshiba's power. You then went on substituting Tissier and Seagal for Ueshiba. With this kind of reasoning that you are expressing here, there is no real exchange of arguments possible.

I did originally say that people started because they saw Ueshiba's power and you pointed out that most people now haven't even heard of Ueshiba. Well, he was like my grandfather in martial arts (my teacher's teacher), so I can hardly imagine aikido people not holding him as the exemplar. But my point was, they saw a powerful demonstration of aikido from someone whom they were moved to emulate. You say it wasn't Ueshiba but Tissier or Seagal. Fine. The point is that they first saw power and their image of aikido was power. I don't insist that it had to be Ueshiba or anyone in particular, but that it was an impressive demonstration of aikido as a powerful martial art.

Quote Tom: If people are coming to Aikido with an image of Tissier or Seagal, would that not solve your issue? And therefor counter your argument? Or are they the people who are troubled with this contradiction?

I hope I made this clear above. If people came to aikido with an image of Tissier or Seagal, they came thinking that aikido is very powerful. That was my point: they saw aikido as a way to become powerful, so they joined: they joined to become powerful.

Quote David:
I only recently became aware of people like Tissier, though I have known of Seagal for decades. My only examples of real aikido, however, were Ueshiba, Mochizuki, Shioda, Saito and a few others. All known for tremendous power.

Quote Tom:
I have trained with students of Tissier since the eighties. Never went to any of his classes though.

Quote David:
I say they are drawn by its image of power--sometimes expressed rather violently. And they see that before they know of its spiritual side at all.

Quote Tom:
Yes, but can you prove that? Why are they not drawn to Aikido for the beauty of it? I know I was.

Well, what's beautiful about aikido? As Melville says in the quote in my original post, "...those motions derive their most appalling beauty from (strength). Real strength never impairs beauty or harmony, but it often bestows it; and in everything imposingly beautiful, strength has much to do with the magic." So I submit that the "beauty" that attracted you to aikido, the most important element was the power of the beauty--the strength expressed and bestowing the beauty and harmony of the movements.

That's why I went to the trouble to transcribe that rather lengthy passage from such an old book.

Quote David:
I was first attracted to aikido after some experience in kyokushin karate with a direct student of Mas Oyama, where I had a bull-killer as an exemplar. I saw an article in East/West Journal called Aikido and the Mind of the West, which focused mostly on the spiritual interests of Morihei Ueshiba and the tactic of using the attacker's energy and efforts to throw him. It was another approach to power--a trickier kind of power that also valued protecting the attacker (while kyokushin focused on knocking him out if not killing him). I wanted something that would let me not harm the attacker, but I would have considered it a waste of time if it did not pretty well guarantee the ability to completely dominate a violent attacker. So power was a major factor.

Quote Tom: Well, here at least we have something in common. I studied as well with a direct student of Mas Oyama. He was also a direct student of Sawai - Mas Oyama's teacher. At the time my teacher taught Kyokushin karate and Sawai's Taikiken. Although influenced by both Budo I had a bigger interest in Taikiken.

Quote David: Now, I think most people see it similarly in the beginning. 1) they see an effective fighting art, then 2) hear that it uses the other person's power, then 3) hear that it values protecting the attacker. But they really want that power of an effective fighting art, first.

All this is fine and natural for human beings. In my case, I wound up in yoseikan aikido, where the naturalness of seeking strength and power have always been understood. We were taught not to use strength in technique and not to achieve technique by force; however, development of strength was natural in the process of training because much of the practice involved strength-building exercises as well as relaxation and sensitivity exercises.

Quote Tom: I wound up practicing Shorinji Kempo - and I could say the same about it as you are saying about Yoseikan Budo. So your image of seeking power as a goal comes from this?

Exactly. Who undertakes such a hard practice to become weaker? Who goes to a job to end up with less money? Who puts gas in the tank of their car only to find that it went to someone else's car instead? We train for a benefit. They say "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger." But that which takes our time and money and doesn't make us stronger...well, it makes us weaker. Who would pay for that? And why wear a black belt because we got progressively weaker over several years of practice?

Quote David:
However, for many people, a fourth point arises and creates the problem I am addressing here: 4) "the aikido community" teaches students that desiring to become strong is, more or less, evil and they shouldn't do it.

Quote Tom:
Again, who is teaching that to become strong is wrong? Which teachers, which schools. Surely you cannot mean all aikido schools and all aikido teachers!

Well...who is objecting to my claim here? Read the posts on IP/Aiki. Who protests that there is something wrong with trying to gain power? There is a serious vein of this running through what Chris likes to call "the aikido community," which seems to be a body that can vote on what aikido should be, as American Christians have decided to make Jesus' teachings about the rich man entering Heaven actually mean "greed is good." I haven't named names just to be polite, but this is a response to (and a sort of a bait for) those who insist that we should not be trying to gain "power" from aikido training. They're the same ones who are confused about whether we should intend for an aikido technique to throw the uke. They are largely persuaded that it should happen almost accidentally. They post all over this forum...

Maybe my meaning is clearer now.

Thanks.

David

David Orange
11-10-2012, 11:47 PM
David,
Your argument is really getting hard to understand.

Well, I'm sure it's getting clearer and clearer, but knowing your tendency to blind yourself to things that are right in front of you by kicking up clouds of dust inside your head, I'm not surprised that you're getting more confused.

So, you believe that people who train with modern firearms are not more physically powerful, in a fight, then someone with something they learned in Aikido, even the super Aikido you know about?

Maybe. Maybe not. If they have trained only in firearms and not at all in h2h fighting, then no, they are not more physically powerful than someone trained in even fairly weak aikido. They only become powerful when they have their weapons in their hands. As long as it's in the holster (especially if the holster is not on their person), they remain as weak as their physical training. But even if they can get the weapon out, a skilled aikidoka has a chance to relieve them of the weapon before they can use it. I actually began my martial arts training at age nine with a manual on arresting techniques from the FBI Academy, which my father had attended the previous year. He brought home all these manuals, including the one on arresting techniques and another called Police Training Disarming Methods, which I'm looking at right now. It opens with this statement: "When a gun is drawn, anything can happen. It isn't necessarily the formidable weapon it may appear to be. Everything depends on who is holding the gun - and who is standing in front of it."

Remember, this is what the FBI was teaching its agents in 1963. In fact, this book is dated 1955--the year I was born. It is filled with page after page of methods of taking live weapons out of the hands of criminals. In the yoseikan hombu, with Mochizuki Sensei, we trained on taking rifles from attackers, including rifles with bayonets (jukendo), which was one of Ueshiba's favorite studies.

So what do you think?

In case you're still uncertain, Mochizuki Sensei relates a time when he was in China after WWII. Because of his work in Mongolia during the war, he had become a target for Mao Tse Tung and was once accosted by a man with a pistol. Now this was a wartime incident. The man was trying to force him to accompany him to another location and he pushed Sensei with the barrel of the pistol. Sensei grabbed the pistol and went to the floor, taking the other man down with him. He took the pistol and shot the man he'd taken it from. Then someone from outside the building began firing into it with a rifle. Sensei found a rifle nearby and returned fire, then escaped on horseback. This is a true wartime incident from a master of aikido. So you tell me what advantage the gun presented the man who faced the unarmed aikido master.

In China's boxer rebellion I think we already saw what happens to expert martial artists, many of whom I would assume had what you call "IP" when they face men trained with firearms.

That was not aikido, pal.

It's not wrong for politicians to have social power, I never said it was wrong, you did.

You'll have to quote that one. I'm not saying that any kind of power is wrong in itself. It's all in how you use it. We have to have police and they have to be strong, but they can misuse it. We've had Presidents who made grave misuse of our military and of their social power. Some politicians misuse their social power by refusing to do their constitutional duties--by doing nothing.

But I am saying, that if you're interested in social power, you should work on being a politician and not an Aikidoka.

Well, again, this just shows how little you really understand aikido. Your approach to aikido really explains to me that wall hanging you have in your dojo (the one reading 'michi'). It's so poorly done, I'm amazed that you would display it. The Chinese and Japanese both revere calligraphy and believe that the quality of the brushwork directly expresses the development of one's martial as well as personal development. That's why the saying "bun bu ichi" or "literary and sword are one".

Mochizuki Sensei was a firm believer that budoka are ultimately social educators. We are charged from ancient generations with the responsibility to pass on the superior values they held, to present examples of them in our actions and in our words. And much of the essence of this was to never work against nature. We don't train to replace our natural nature, but to cultivate and refine the best there is in it. So it's not a question of whether I seek social power: it's a question of how responsibly I use the social power that was entrusted to me. And part of that means to stand up to the "aikido community" when they show how little they recall these ancient values, how lightly they take the responsibility to understand and pass on those values.

I find that it would be far more likely that people training in Aikido might come to Aikido thinking that they are looking for power, when in fact they are trying to discover something else. That is why they choose an avenue of study that might seem powerful, yet really isn't.

Maybe you're thinking of the people who come to your school?

The good one's who stick around, figure out that they were never looking for power in the first place, they evolve, and hopefully add to the Aikido community.

The good ones don't stick around. They go and find the good teachers, who understand aikido.

If your art is global power, I think you've chosen unwisely. Not because power is wrong, not because I am scared of it, or fear it. Simply because there are better ways to get it.

Well...you think that because you have such a shallow experience of the real art. That's understandable.

I think I can see where the rest of this conversation is going...

Yeah...as long as you remain in the conversation, I'm concerned that it can't get far at all--not very deep, anyway.

Best to you.

David

Krystal Locke
11-11-2012, 01:26 AM
Sounds pretty powerful. Would you keep it up if it didn't work?

It depends on what you mean by "didn't work". Yes, I would probably still do aikido if it "didn't work" for me in a martial sense. I get a huge sense of community from my dojo, I get tremendous satisfaction in the having of a practice, and I like the way ukemi makes me sweat.

My reasons for doing aikido are very different from most people's reasons. The security work reason is distantly secondary to my primary reason for doing aikido. Sure, right now, aikido helps to put beans on the table and to keep me out of the hospital. However, the reason I took up the art in the first place is long in the past, and is far too personal for me to toss about here, but I can assure you it had virtually nothing to do with power. It was more about connection.

I do not deny my power, I work to increase my power, and I exercise my power frequently. I really like power and I am almost addicted to using it. I dont insist others cast themselves from my mold. We dont all take aikido for the same reasons, we dont all enjoy aikido in the same way, and I have plenty of room for that. I suppose that comes of having a really big mat.

ChrisHein
11-11-2012, 02:08 AM
Hey David,
Are you not a fan of the Aiki=IP theory?

Dave de Vos
11-11-2012, 07:24 AM
I started aikido because I wanted to do something interesting and challenging to keep myself fit. A friend suggested aikido and I liked it. My physical fitness has definitely improved from aikido practise.

I had never seen an impressive aikido demonstration when I started. I just had not been interested in martial arts between the ages of 15 and 40. I had never heard from O Sensei or Tissier and I didn't know Seagal was doing aikido. I had done some judo as a child and Japanese jiu-jitsu as a teenager. My first impression of aikido was that it was similar to jiu-jitsu, but while jiu-jitsu looked violent, aikido looked graceful. The dojo atmosphere and the gracefulness drew me, not power.

When I first saw aikido clips of Seagal and Tissier I didn't like them. They looked brutal to me, not like aikido. But in the mean time my opinion has changed. I learned that aikido is practised in many different ways and I've grown to appreciate that. When the opportunity arises I like to train in other lineages and styles. My 9 year old son started yoseikan aikido. Watching those classes is quite interesting, so now I train with the adult group sometimes. It's very diverse and practical. In my perception it is a bit closer to (Japanese) jiu-jitsu, but still it's clearly aikido.

Here on AikiWeb I became interested in internal training. They convinced me that O Sensei had great physical power and that he got it from internal training.
Still, one might ask why I would persue internal power if I'm not that interested in being strong.

I see it like this: being a dad, I sometimes play fight with my son. He's only 9 so I'm much stronger than him. The difference is big enough that I can take care of both our safety and I don't have to hurt him to "win".
As my opponent's strength approaches or surpasses mine, I might have to become more and more violent to have a chance of resolving the situation in a favourable way. Internal training could create a power differential and therefore potentially reduce violence.
Also, they convinced me that aikido techniques may not be very effective when your opponent knows how to fight. Aikido needs to be backed up by the body conditioning and movement resulting from internal training.
And I'm also curious of its effect. It's a long term experiment with my body.

But mostly, power is a means to me, not the goal.

P.S.: I don't see how the calligraphy in Chris's dojo has anything to do with this discussion. You may not care about my perception of you, but to be honest you lost some points there.

Tom Verhoeven
11-11-2012, 09:57 AM
I started aikido because I wanted to do something interesting and challenging to keep myself fit. A friend suggested aikido and I liked it. My physical fitness has definitely improved from aikido practise.

I had never seen an impressive aikido demonstration when I started. I just had not been interested in martial arts between the ages of 15 and 40. I had never heard from O Sensei or Tissier and I didn't know Seagal was doing aikido. I had done some judo as a child and Japanese jiu-jitsu as a teenager. My first impression of aikido was that it was similar to jiu-jitsu, but while jiu-jitsu looked violent, aikido looked graceful. The dojo atmosphere and the gracefulness drew me, not power.

When I first saw aikido clips of Seagal and Tissier I didn't like them. They looked brutal to me, not like aikido. But in the mean time my opinion has changed. I learned that aikido is practised in many different ways and I've grown to appreciate that. When the opportunity arises I like to train in other lineages and styles. My 9 year old son started yoseikan aikido. Watching those classes is quite interesting, so now I train with the adult group sometimes. It's very diverse and practical. In my perception it is a bit closer to (Japanese) jiu-jitsu, but still it's clearly aikido.

Here on AikiWeb I became interested in internal training. They convinced me that O Sensei had great physical power and that he got it from internal training.
Still, one might ask why I would persue internal power if I'm not that interested in being strong.

I see it like this: being a dad, I sometimes play fight with my son. He's only 9 so I'm much stronger than him. The difference is big enough that I can take care of both our safety and I don't have to hurt him to "win".
As my opponent's strength approaches or surpasses mine, I might have to become more and more violent to have a chance of resolving the situation in a favourable way. Internal training could create a power differential and therefore potentially reduce violence.
Also, they convinced me that aikido techniques may not be very effective when your opponent knows how to fight. Aikido needs to be backed up by the body conditioning and movement resulting from internal training.
And I'm also curious of its effect. It's a long term experiment with my body.

But mostly, power is a means to me, not the goal.

P.S.: I don't see how the calligraphy in Chris's dojo has anything to do with this discussion. You may not care about my perception of you, but to be honest you lost some points there.

All good points.

In my experience people have given similar motivations as yours for starting with Aikido and over time as they became more experienced, saw their motivations change and develop. I do not recall anyone who said that he or she was looking for power.

Just to add to it; internal training is founded just as much on physical training as it is on mental /spiritual training. Both are a part of traditional Aikido - but it is a way, a michi, a do - it is not the goal of Aikido. Physical power alone will bring one to the foot of the mountain, not to the top.

Tom

David Orange
11-11-2012, 10:30 AM
...the reason I took up the art in the first place is long in the past, and is far too personal for me to toss about here, but I can assure you it had virtually nothing to do with power. It was more about connection.

Well, as long as you know and understand why you are training. My point here is largely that people have either forgotten or have hidden from themselves the real reason they began training, that that reason was almost invariably to attain or increase their power (unless, as Tom mentions, the already have much power and want to somehow refine or tame it--which is a kind of power, as well). But if someone is claiming that power is bad, but they are unconsciously following an original motivation to gain more power, that can only result in alienation from oneself, which is opposite the purpose of aikido.

I do not deny my power, I work to increase my power, and I exercise my power frequently. I really like power and I am almost addicted to using it. I dont insist others cast themselves from my mold. We dont all take aikido for the same reasons, we dont all enjoy aikido in the same way, and I have plenty of room for that. I suppose that comes of having a really big mat.

It's good that you recognize and acknowledge this very natural human drive. For too many people, aikido's big mat is like a giant pillow top mattress, more suited to sleep than to work. To find someone who seriously seeks the power of aikido frightens them and disturbs their pleasant dreams. It's nice to find that some people are awake on the mat.

Best wishes.

David

Keith Larman
11-11-2012, 10:37 AM
I must be the simpleton of the bunch here... I train in Aikido because I enjoy it and I enjoy the fundamental contradictions contained therein. And I like to train with people who can stop me. So I try to learn what it is they're doing to stop this > 225 pound Norwegian who polishes swords all day and can usually crush folk at will... I have teachers in our org who can do that. I have seen it in guys like Dan, Mike, Toby, students of Ark and others. So I search them out.

To me the answer lies with me on the mat when I'm on my back wondering how the hell I ended up there. No more questions after that. Power? Aiki? IP? Um, sure, whatever. Haven't heard a really good explanation yet that satisfies my western sensibilities. Till then... I keep searching it out, whatever it is.

And some can transmit it a heck of a lot better than others. Shrug.

So how many angels can sit on the head of a pin? :)

Keith

BEleanor
11-11-2012, 11:43 AM
I started aikido because I wanted to learn to fall. It looked like fun (and it was). It was about mastery, which is I guess a kind of power. Like, dancers, other artists, great athletes - they are into power as well. The power to create, and of self control. So yes, its about power, but not necessarily about power to hurt or even to control others. I tend to feel grateful to my ukes for being part of my technique, actually. Otherwise it would be about as much fun as a car crash.

I went through a long period of enjoying of controlling others and working with that, and I think most people do. I am looking for a different kind of mastery now, a power to be in balance and awake. Like sailing, maybe - one does not have power over the wind, exactly - not that I know, I get horribly sea sick. But car crash aikido is kind of a bore, I think.

Violence is just violence, but I am not much interested in it anymore.

BEleanor
11-11-2012, 11:44 AM
Oh, nearly forgot, also the power to protect, and to heal. Those are important to me, too.

Tom Verhoeven
11-11-2012, 11:55 AM
I can't tell you how many whales are left in the oceans, but I know it's far fewer than when Melville was writing. And of the aikido people who started because they wanted power...I can only guess.


Guessing is not the same as proving.

Well, what's beautiful about aikido? As Melville says in the quote in my original post, "...those
motions derive their most appalling beauty from (strength). Real strength never impairs beauty or harmony, but it often bestows it; and in everything imposingly beautiful, strength has much to do with the magic." So I submit that the "beauty" that attracted you to aikido, the most important element was the power of the beauty--the strength expressed and bestowing the beauty and harmony of the movements.

I do not have any problem with Melville's description here. But I do object against the suggestion that beauty is the same as strength. Each expresses an other quality. Besides that - it is an invalid way of reasoning; pulling is not pushing, a horse is not a cow, taking a bath is not swimming.

Exactly. Who undertakes such a hard practice to become weaker? Who goes to a job to end up with less money? Who puts gas in the tank of their car only to find that it went to someone else's car instead? We train for a benefit. They say "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger." But that which takes our time and money and doesn't make us stronger...well, it makes us weaker. Who would pay for that? And why wear a black belt because we got progressively weaker over several years of practice?

Your bringing it back to your basic premise,"people are drawn to Aikido because they want power". But none of these examples prove your point.

Well...who is objecting to my claim here? Read the posts on IP/Aiki. Who protests that there is something wrong with trying to gain power?


There is no need to object to your claim. The burden of proof lies with you! And so far you have not succeeded !

There is a serious vein of this running through what Chris likes to calln " the aikido community," which seems to be a body that can vote on what aikido should be, as AmericaChristians have decided to make Jesus' teachings about the rich man entering Heaven actually mean "greed is good." I haven't named names just to be polite, but this is a response to (and a sort of a bait for) those who insist that we should not be trying to gain "power" from aikido training. They're the same ones who are confused about whether we should intend for an aikido technique to throw the uke. They are largely persuaded that it should happen almost accidentally. They post all over this forum...

There is no need to name names and I can imagine why you see this as being impolite - but if you say something like "everyone is drawn to Aikido because of power and is in denial about it" than you have to prove this by mentioning examples of people that this apply to, for instance name organisations, groups or dojo.

" the aikido community," which seems to be a body that can vote on what aikido should be, as AmericaChristians have decided to make Jesus' teachings about the rich man entering Heaven actually mean "greed is good." I haven't named names just to be polite, but this is a response to (and a sort of a bait for) those who insist that we should not be trying to gain "power" from aikido training.

On the one hand you do not want name names as you see this as impolite, on the other hand you have no problem with an insulting remark like this? And by no means is it any clearer who you are addressing here. For instance does the "Aikido community" include me? Or any of the other posters on this thread? Or do you let everyone decide for themselves? That would make it a "neat" way of insulting people.
Maybe my meaning is clearer now.

O, it is clearer allright.
But I do not agree with it.


Tom

ChrisHein
11-11-2012, 01:17 PM
Wow, it was great to read those reasons people started and do Aikido!

David,
I thought about this last night, and rehashed the conversation. I think we agree on a fundamental level, and I wasn't being open to that.

To use an analogy,
I look at Aikido as something like a big sturdy wooden sail boat. If we use that as our analogy. I think you are saying something like- Aikido is a boat, we shouldn't be putting in in a museum, we need to learn how to sail this boat. And we shouldn't be so scared of it that we never sail it, or it stops being a boat and is just something to look at, doing us no good.

I agree with that idea. If Aikido were a boat, I think it is very important to learn how to sail it properly, understanding how to handle it even in bad conditions. I'm even willing to entertain the idea of taking it out on long sails, maybe even travel across the ocean. I think that's great, if it's a boat, let's sail it and learn how to handle it! Let's not fear it, let's learn to use it. I'm totally on board for that idea!

I think where we start to drift apart, is, I think you picture Aikido as something like a modern supertanker. When I read the word "power" this is the kind of thing I think of. I also thought of Aikido as a "supertanker" when I first started. I thought supertankers were the best and only kind of important boats, and if anyone told me that Aikido was a silly wooden boat, I would have laughed at them. Then a teacher showed me, that it doesn't matter what kind of boat your on, you can enjoy the experience of being out on the water. And I realized that I was never after supertankers in the first place. That's not to say that I personally dislike supertankers, but I realized that being on the best boat in the sea, wasn't as important to me, as simply being on the sea was.

I would have replaced the word "power" with something like martial effectiveness. I do think that Aikido should be trained martially. We spar and train hard here. We train in the forms with very martial goals and motivations. But when you start to use the word "power", to me, you're not only looking in the wrong place, but you kind of missed the fun and enjoyment of what we have here. I think we agree more then I originally though,t even though I'm sure we still have some deep seated differences.

lbb
11-11-2012, 05:46 PM
Well, mine comes from the root of aikido. This was the way Ueshiba really thought and lived. What does your truth come from?

Not from trying to psychoanalyze and imitate a dead man. I'm not trying to disparage those who take a serious scholarly approach to studying Ueshiba's life and trying to figure out what he was all about, and certainly not criticizing his students who have tried to pass on their understanding of it. But it's all a game of telephone, where things get progressively more distorted with every step. Aikido fundamentalists, who claim that they're going back to the source, are really just like any other kind of fundamentalist, and prone to the same errors: believing that fundamentalism leads to truth is simplistic reasoning. My truth comes from understanding that I'm a blind person touching the elephant: I "know" what's within my reach. I understand that my reach doesn't encompass all there is. But not knowing everything, and knowing that I don't know everything, isn't going to make my head explode (I seem to be in the minority in that regard, at least on aikiweb). And I'm not inclined to accept without question the "knowledge" that comes from other sources, without at least some consideration of the quality of the source in question. I just don't feel a burning need to come up with a full, final version of The Truth, is all. No, I didn't start practicing aikido as a quest for power, and no, I'm not deluding myself about that, and anyone who wants to tell me about my own beliefs and motivations is cordially invited to put it where Paddy put the drum.

Shadowfax
11-11-2012, 09:11 PM
You "make" a horse do something every time you work on its hoof. Ever see a horse stand on three legs with its fourth one lifted and bent? Do they do that naturally? :) So, when you make the horse lift it's foot, you are, in essence, exerting a power over the horse to behave in a manner that is not natural to its being. It only takes that position because you make it do so. That is power. You accomplished the task (no matter how you did it) of getting that horse in a position it naturally does not use. (Yes, the natural function of the leg is such that it can be put into that posture, but the horse does not naturally stand on three legs with one bent back, upwards.) That is winning.

So, you are successful in your outcomes. Why is that? Did the horse stand on four legs and not let you do anything to it? You were successful in the outcome that you desired. That's the definition of winning. And you got the horse to do something which it does not naturally do (hold one leg bent with hoof upwards). That's power. Your successful outcome over the natural nature of the horse.

Now, *how* you accomplish that, as you stated, can make a world of difference. :)

If that is how you choose to see it I can't really help that. I however having 25+ years of hands on experience with the subject have a different point of view.

So, you see horses in this position all the time and its natural?

http://yellowcreekfarrier.com/about_us

They stand like that for hours and there are millions of pictures of horses being in that posture naturally?

Or does the horse put its leg back down on the ground when you let go of its leg? Why does anyone have to find ways of keeping a horses leg like they do to work on the hoof if its all natural to the horse?



For a horse to lift his foot due to some stimulus is not unnatural for it. Putting it down when the stimulus goes away is also natural. And on average a trim takes about 15-20 minutes and a horse never stand in these positions for more than 2-3 minutes at a time. Which I agree is still not natural, but nothing that we humans do with animals is really natural. However an animal can learn to accept and be comfortable with those things without having had to experience conflict and thus give in to power. Once again... coming from the point of view of having had many years of hands on experience working with these animals. Trying to use my power to "make" a horse lift his foot once in a moment of impatience very nearly got me killed. Interestingly aikido has helped me to find ways of accomplishing the job without the need to use power or to bend a horse to my will.

We must agree to disagree I guess... unless you prefer not.

At any rate I don't believe I have anything further insight that I wish to add to this discussion.

Krystal Locke
11-12-2012, 10:08 AM
Well, as long as you know and understand why you are training. My point here is largely that people have either forgotten or have hidden from themselves the real reason they began training, that that reason was almost invariably to attain or increase their power (unless, as Tom mentions, the already have much power and want to somehow refine or tame it--which is a kind of power, as well). But if someone is claiming that power is bad, but they are unconsciously following an original motivation to gain more power, that can only result in alienation from oneself, which is opposite the purpose of aikido.

It's good that you recognize and acknowledge this very natural human drive. For too many people, aikido's big mat is like a giant pillow top mattress, more suited to sleep than to work. To find someone who seriously seeks the power of aikido frightens them and disturbs their pleasant dreams. It's nice to find that some people are awake on the mat.

Best wishes.

David

Well, now that I have your approval.....

Keith Larman
11-12-2012, 10:28 AM
I'm sitting here thinking, wondering, pondering. We all tend to project our own beliefs, intents and goals on others. I am about the least fluffy of Aikido folk you would meet. I am firmly convinced by hand's on experience of the value of the IP training, but I understand that this conviction is based on what I'm looking for, what I want, what I'm pursuing. I don't need to project that on anyone else.

And I have very good friends and compatriots who are perfectly happy to do what they have always done. They find tremendous personal satisfaction and value in how they study and practice their Aikido. Nah, ain't for me, but that's cool. People talk about Aikido like it's some small koryu with 1 guy leading the charge and 20 "real" students. Nope. Hundreds of thousands doing all sorts of stuff that if you picked correctly might look like totally opposite things.

So to quote my old school mate, the late Rodney King. "Can't we all just get along?"

It's easy to dismiss others saying they're afraid of learning the "truth" that appears so obvious to yourself. Unfortunately many "truths" say a lot more about us than the world out there and it is often in no way applicable to anyone else.

Me, I don't need convincing any more. I'm pretty open about what I think on these topics. I just don't see why folk have a hard time seeing that aikido is a richly diverse thing today with so many different branches, threads, directions, philosophies, etc. that you simply can't speak generally without speaking trivially and that speaking on very fine details ends up meaning you're likely speaking to only a small slice of the population.

Find your place. Train with sincerity. Keep an open mind. And then train some more.

Shrug...

Jeremy Hulley
11-12-2012, 11:26 AM
Thanks Keith

I

Find your place. Train with sincerity. Keep an open mind. And then train some more.

Shrug...

ChrisMoses
11-12-2012, 12:18 PM
This thread is popcorntastic.

Great comments Keith. Thanks.

I would say that in my own experience many people I've met in Aikido were really genuinely not interested in developing power. Quite a few liked to talk about gentleness and compassion but were pretty addicted to developing power over others (through strength, politics, social structures, waza...). Some were actively seeking to develop power. I've come to the realization that everyone comes to the their arts looking for different things, and yes, sometimes the reasons we cite are other than we hold in our true hearts.

To David, it's really nice to hear you making the points you are these days. I look back on many of our attempts at conversation in the past and think we would have a better chance of talking about the same things today. Back then, it felt a lot like the conversation you're having with Chris H now. You are both using similar words but talking about different things. Drives you cray! :D

Chris H, just a clarification. No one (that I'm aware of) is making the claim that Aiki *is the same thing* as internal power. One can have internal power and not use/manifest aiki. Whether or not one can manifest aiki without internal power is a tricky conversation. With my current understanding/definition of aiki, I'd say, "no" but then there are degrees of aiki, just as there are degrees of internal power, so it's a pretty gray question.

ChrisHein
11-12-2012, 01:37 PM
This thread turned right around! Awesome.

Janet Rosen
11-12-2012, 05:51 PM
A lot depends on how one defines "power." Power to affect other people, either by coercion/force, is often how people automatically think of it, but of course there is a lot of other power: power over oneself, power by moral example or moral pursuasion, charisma, etc...
I took up aikido looking for physical exercise that wouldnt bore me to tears and ended up immediately hooked by two factors: (1) it engaged me to directly challenge my weaknesses in movement and proprioception in a way that no previous activity ever had, so that despite being incredibly frustrated by my limitations for the first couple of years it never occurred to me to quit and (2) something about working on the connection with another person spoke to a me deeply.
I have never been interested in dominance; by nature I'm an observer and negotiator despite also having very firm internal convictions and sense of self. In work situations I've tended to be the one who leads by example.
An in truth, while I've engaged in active self-defense when necessary, in the dojo when the opportunity arises to "play" disregarding role of nage/uke, I tend to stay in the exploring connection mode more often than the exploiting openings mode.

lbb
11-13-2012, 08:40 AM
I started aikido because I loved martial arts, I'd moved to a place where there were no good dojos of any style, and then this aikido dojo opened up. I didn't care two bits about aikido; I just wanted a good dojo to train in. I figured that if I just trained diligently, whatever this thing called "aikido" was would eventually reveal itself to me, bit by bit, but I wasn't in it for the revelation, I was in it for the process. I don't think any definition of power really figures into that.

Krystal Locke
11-13-2012, 11:39 AM
I started aikido because I loved martial arts, I'd moved to a place where there were no good dojos of any style, and then this aikido dojo opened up. I didn't care two bits about aikido; I just wanted a good dojo to train in. I figured that if I just trained diligently, whatever this thing called "aikido" was would eventually reveal itself to me, bit by bit, but I wasn't in it for the revelation, I was in it for the process. I don't think any definition of power really figures into that.

I am curious, how did you come to love martial arts? What made up a good dojo for you, despite your lack of direct interest in aikido?

lbb
11-19-2012, 10:11 AM
I am curious, how did you come to love martial arts? What made up a good dojo for you, despite your lack of direct interest in aikido?

I trained, I liked it, it grew on me, I'm an observant person, I understood what made it work for me...not much to tell really.

jonreading
11-19-2012, 01:11 PM
For me, power is the ability to exert my influence. Breathing is the power to move air into my lungs. Driving is the power to transport myself. Posting a comment is the power to express myself.

We started aikido for some reason on which our decision to train improved our reality. Maybe get stronger, maybe become better fighter, maybe fight inner demons. If you truly started aikido because you had nothing better to do with your time and money, I have no argument for you.

Yes, I think we are afraid to admit we enjoy power. I think we are afraid of the consequences of our power and the responsibility we assume in exerting power. When we exert power, we do so by projecting the responsibility elsewhere.

We are threatened by power because it may necessarily lead to power over us. Someone who can fight... can fight me. Many would rather that nobody be able to fight, than to have some empowered over others.

The problem is that aikido is an empowering tool...

lbb
11-19-2012, 02:24 PM
Jon, is it possible you're confusing power with autonomy?

Chris Li
11-19-2012, 02:48 PM
Jon, is it possible you're confusing power with autonomy?

Autonomy is power - just ask the Founding Fathers. :D

Best,

Chris

Cady Goldfield
11-19-2012, 06:16 PM
I have found it interesting that the Spanish verb "poder" means "to be able" and also can mean "power," as in "the power to do something." So, "power," in that sense, is all about ability.

poder. masculine noun. 1. power (mando, competencia). estar en/hacerse con el ... To be able, may or can, to possess the power of doing anything (capacidad).

Erick Mead
11-19-2012, 11:24 PM
My experience as a bouncer makes me think that it is extremely possible to do aikido on people intent on harming me in a way that leaves them unharmed, yet somehow out of the building. Sankyo is pretty useful stuff, but I'm only bouncing drunks, tweakers, disaffected college students, and pissed off cage fighters.

http://www.clevelandskyline.com/Movie_Napoleon_Dynamite_mpc23_large.jpg

Krystal Locke
11-20-2012, 12:56 AM
http://www.clevelandskyline.com/Movie_Napoleon_Dynamite_mpc23_large.jpg

Jon Heder actually moves pretty well. But he claims no training. Huh.

lbb
11-20-2012, 09:43 AM
Autonomy is power - just ask the Founding Fathers. :D

I think, if they weren't all gone to dust and you were able to ask them, the Founding Fathers (of anything) would tell you that autonomy is one form of power. One, and only one.

Chris Li
11-20-2012, 09:47 AM
I think, if they weren't all gone to dust and you were able to ask them, the Founding Fathers (of anything) would tell you that autonomy is one form of power. One, and only one.

Well, sure, but what's your point? It's still a form of power.

Best,

Chris

jonreading
11-20-2012, 10:28 AM
Mary-

As Chris indicated, I believe autonomy (or rather, autonomous) is a form of power. In particular, it is a form of power expressed with a freedom from control; a power independent of external influence. So in answer to your question, no, I am not confusing power with autonomy. More precisely, I would say autonomy is just a type of power.

As it would happen, I believe this power to be the core of my aikido - the power to act under my own authority without external influence affecting my actions. Right now, I think the lingo is "independent movement".

lbb
11-20-2012, 11:31 AM
As Chris indicated, I believe autonomy (or rather, autonomous) is a form of power. In particular, it is a form of power expressed with a freedom from control; a power independent of external influence. So in answer to your question, no, I am not confusing power with autonomy. More precisely, I would say autonomy is just a type of power.

Exactly so. The distinction matters. I think it's clear that some are failing to make that distinction in this discussion. Whether one fails to grasp that distinction or willfully ignores it, it still enables one to assert that those who are not seeking "power" in their aikido training are either 1)in denial or 2)incapable of exercising autonomy. That's the problem with using language as a blunt instrument: you tend to be wrong more often than not.

Erick Mead
11-24-2012, 12:06 PM
As Chris indicated, I believe autonomy (or rather, autonomous) is a form of power. In particular, it is a form of power expressed with a freedom from control; a power independent of external influence. So in answer to your question, no, I am not confusing power with autonomy. More precisely, I would say autonomy is just a type of power.Exactly so. The distinction matters. I think it's clear that some are failing to make that distinction in this discussion. Whether one fails to grasp that distinction or willfully ignores it, it still enables one to assert that those who are not seeking "power" in their aikido training are either 1)in denial or 2)incapable of exercising autonomy. That's the problem with using language as a blunt instrument: you tend to be wrong more often than not.
Autonomy is not power. Autonomy is the result of having power -- to refuse the dictates of those who seek power over you. But it is dangerous to seek power -- for either purpose-- whether to exercise it over others, or to refuse its exercise over you.

Exercising power over others is an evil -- perhaps necessary -- but necessity tends to makes such evils into virtues. "Seeking power" is a moral question -- and really, what we do is not for the purpose of "seeking power.' We seek to engage the exercise of power without succumbing to its brutal logic. Those who seek power over others ultimately become its victims.

Don't believe me?

One hundred men -- the most powerful in the country -- gathered together. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR1X3zV6X5Y) They quickly found out that their collective seeking of power did not matter one bit when faced with someone who understood the true logic of power -- and cared not one whit about its evil. He -- and they -- all wanted to have power over others. He, too, did not end well. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Execution_of_Saddam_Hussein)

The Unabomber, on the other hand, was also obsessed with the logic of the power process (http://cyber.eserver.org/unabom.txt)-- but with its lack of opportunity for "real autonomy" in the nature of commonplace modern threats and conditions. Autonomy as power can be quite as dangerous an outgrowth of power-seeking as megalomania.

Human beings have a need (probably based in biology) for something
that we will call the "power process." This is closely related to the
need for power (which is widely recognized) but is not quite the same
thing. The power process has four elements. The three most clear-cut
of these we call goal, effort and attainment of goal. (Everyone needs
to have goals whose attainment requires effort, and needs to succeed
in attaining at least some of his goals.) The fourth element is more
difficult to define and may not be necessary for everyone. We call it
autonomy ... most people are not in a position to pursue their goals
AUTONOMOUSLY. ... the power process is disrupted in our society through a
deficiency of real goals and a deficiency of autonomy in pursuit of
goals. ... The modern individual on the other hand is threatened by many things
against which he is helpless; nuclear accidents, carcinogens in food,
environmental pollution, war, increasing taxes, invasion of his
privacy by large organizations, nation-wide social or economic
phenomena that may disrupt his way of life.

I don't need martial art to obtain power. Any number of far easier technical means would suffice. I need martial art to be able engage the evil logic of real power-- whether to dictate (Hussein) or to refuse dictates (Unabomber) -- without becoming a part of it -- acting in violent circumstance without becoming infected with the contagion of the spirit of violence.

O Sensei did not vainly put Aikido into terms of Harae -- and the purification of violent spirit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harae)-- which can restore the world.

David Orange
05-21-2013, 11:39 PM
But mostly, power is a means to me, not the goal.

P.S.: I don't see how the calligraphy in Chris's dojo has anything to do with this discussion. You may not care about my perception of you, but to be honest you lost some points there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vJ7rfoR3ng&list=UUDfRG5l6SpsgdATNQLXoDIw&index=17

It matters because there's a real way to do it and to show the wrong way centrally and proudly calls question to other things.

I just saw this calligraphy and remembered this line in this thread.

Best to all.

David

ryback
05-22-2013, 08:01 AM
"Nobody can take away my strength because I do not use it."
O'sensei Morihei Ueshiba

The goal of taking up martial arts has always been clear to me: to be able to defend oneself and to develop every aspect of the human being, physical, mental, spiritual, esoteric simultaneously. Of course this has nothing to do with wanting to impose your will by using force, neither with having any fear of power.
Many people confuse the way aikido works without relying merely on brute force with teaching the absence of any power, but nothing could be further from the truth. We use power in aikido or else nobody would go flying around or be imobilized, but that doesn't mean that we use it the way body builders do.
In aikido our power comes by redirecting the attacker's power, by using the combination of our tai sabaki and ki power, by being able to make the transition from hard to soft, by using hard and soft at the same time or the combination of all the above acording to the attack one faces. So we are far from using mere brute violent strength against the attack, yet we have absolutely no problem with being powerful.
Aikido is a martial art and a martial artist is a warrior first and foremost. However he is also the preserver of peace. There is nothing non pacifistic about being a martial artist. On the contrary it gives the chance to be actively in peace instead of simply talking about it.
Most people nowadays are full of anxiety and stress, leading lives that get them further and further from being one with themselves and nature. Practicing aikido leads people to get in touch with their selves, with human nature and if they practice seriously it leads them to be calmer, more realised persons, with higher self esteem. So they become peacefull inside and that changes also the way they interact with others.
Even in a self defence situation, it is the martial artist that can react more peacefully. He will either use his martial arts perception to avoid getting in trouble or (if that is impossible) he will use his self defence techniques to defend himself while being in complete control of himself, not causing unnesessary damage, hurting his attackers only as much as is needed to save his own life. So even though he has unwillingly entered a fighting situation, the martial artist can be in peace with himself during the confrontation and restore peace to his environment by neutralising his attackers. A theoretically pacifistic person, with no martial arts training, facing the danger he could either lose his life or lose control of himself and save his life by seriously hurting or killing his attackers even if that could have been avoided.
There is no inconsistency in being an aikidoka and being a powerful one as long as that power comes by using the aikido principles to apply aikido tachniques.
There is no inconsistency in being an aikidoka and being a peaceful one. Only the people that have the power to hurt are living in peace consciously. The others simply have no choice.

observer
05-23-2013, 03:27 PM
Only the people that have the power to hurt are living in peace consciously. The others simply have no choice.
It is true, but just a dream, especially if you practice only aikido.

RLW
05-23-2013, 05:18 PM
It has been stated many times, by many people, that non-violence without the ability to defend oneself is just wishful thinking. I think that history would indicate that something else entirely is required for non-violence, or pacifism. The practitioners of Gandhi's satyagraha had no martial skills. They were ordinary people from various walks of life yet few would deny that they were peaceful warriors of the first order. The Freedom Riders of the 1960's had no fighting skills nor would they have used them if they had had them.

What is required to be non-violent is depth of character. What is required to be a pacifist is the ability to over come the fear of death. The followers of Gandhi and King walked unhesitatingly into situations in which they KNEW they would be beaten, perhaps killed, and they marched anyway; without the back-up of great destructive martial skill or weaponry of any kind other than their moral force.

From http://aikieast.blogspot.com/2009/09/aikido-martial-arts-fighting.html

What George Ledyard sensei points out here are two very effective examples of non-violence that each had many realized goals, or morphed beyond dreams.

I don't understand pacifism as exactly equaling passive. If peace were on a spectrum, then, depending on the assault or injustice in question, it's possible that making a non-violent engagement does mean making a concious choice to move further away from peace; maybe for however long is neccesary to achieve a more secure position toward it, maybe for the rest of your suddenly truncated life. In any case what's going on is that, rather than physicaly attempting to effect an oppressive or threatening entity, you alter yourself, and then your relationship with said entity must change if it choses to remain fixated... hmmm, this is beginning to sound alot like another thing I practice.
Pacifism is relevant as a way to carry ourselves within or outside of conflict, or as ways to achieve civil rights or oust an occupying military, the latter or which *can not* be done without suffering many many casualties. For personal protection of course it does absolutely nothing when a club is descending on you or for stopping bullets or protecting you from automobile injuries or losing your job but Aikido won't do any of these things either.

There was some discussion here about Ledyard sensie's blog http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16795
There are counterarguments that certainly make me think, but I just like to bring up this whole point now when I hear the bit about pacifism and choice because it's a comment that gets around alot and I do think it's important for people to think about it.

-Richard

graham christian
05-23-2013, 05:33 PM
"Nobody can take away my strength because I do not use it."
O'sensei Morihei Ueshiba

The goal of taking up martial arts has always been clear to me: to be able to defend oneself and to develop every aspect of the human being, physical, mental, spiritual, esoteric simultaneously. Of course this has nothing to do with wanting to impose your will by using force, neither with having any fear of power.
Many people confuse the way aikido works without relying merely on brute force with teaching the absence of any power, but nothing could be further from the truth. We use power in aikido or else nobody would go flying around or be imobilized, but that doesn't mean that we use it the way body builders do.
In aikido our power comes by redirecting the attacker's power, by using the combination of our tai sabaki and ki power, by being able to make the transition from hard to soft, by using hard and soft at the same time or the combination of all the above acording to the attack one faces. So we are far from using mere brute violent strength against the attack, yet we have absolutely no problem with being powerful.
Aikido is a martial art and a martial artist is a warrior first and foremost. However he is also the preserver of peace. There is nothing non pacifistic about being a martial artist. On the contrary it gives the chance to be actively in peace instead of simply talking about it.
Most people nowadays are full of anxiety and stress, leading lives that get them further and further from being one with themselves and nature. Practicing aikido leads people to get in touch with their selves, with human nature and if they practice seriously it leads them to be calmer, more realised persons, with higher self esteem. So they become peacefull inside and that changes also the way they interact with others.
Even in a self defence situation, it is the martial artist that can react more peacefully. He will either use his martial arts perception to avoid getting in trouble or (if that is impossible) he will use his self defence techniques to defend himself while being in complete control of himself, not causing unnesessary damage, hurting his attackers only as much as is needed to save his own life. So even though he has unwillingly entered a fighting situation, the martial artist can be in peace with himself during the confrontation and restore peace to his environment by neutralising his attackers. A theoretically pacifistic person, with no martial arts training, facing the danger he could either lose his life or lose control of himself and save his life by seriously hurting or killing his attackers even if that could have been avoided.
There is no inconsistency in being an aikidoka and being a powerful one as long as that power comes by using the aikido principles to apply aikido tachniques.
There is no inconsistency in being an aikidoka and being a peaceful one. Only the people that have the power to hurt are living in peace consciously. The others simply have no choice.

Yes, I like your quote at the beginning. I also like this one:

“If all you think about is winning, you will in fact lose everything. Know that both you and your opponents are treading the same path. Envelop adversaries with love, entrust yourself to the natural flow of things, unify ki, body and mind, and efface the boundary between self and other. This opens unlimited possibilities.

Those who are enlightened to these principles are always victorious. Winning without contending is Masakatsu-Agatsu-Katsu-Hayabi. Masakatsu, - True Victory, is to unify self and other, to link yourself to the Divine, to yoke yourself to Divine Love, to become one with the universe itself. Masakatsu represents the masculine fire element of the left; Agatsu stands for the feminine water element on the right; Katsu-Hayabi is the perfect combination of both that creates the technique.”

O-Sensei.

Peace.G.

ryback
05-25-2013, 10:46 AM
It is true, but just a dream, especially if you practice only aikido.

What is that even supposed to mean? Perhaps "practice only aikido" will turn out to mean something different for me than it does for you. The way i practice has a practical self defence application as well as esoteric and self discovery aspects which anyway are one and the same for any serious practitioner. There are many examples around us of aikidoists who have acomplished all that i mention in my previous post. Some of them are well known and other are independant basement dojos with no care for affiliations and rank, only practical aikido.
In my experience, people who cannot achieve the things i said in my post by applying aikido, are simply people who are not good in aikido, period. It is not the art's fault if they are too busy making theoretical excuses instead of trying to practice and get better...

observer
05-25-2013, 04:54 PM
In my experience, people who cannot achieve the things i said in my post by applying aikido, are simply people who are not good in aikido, period.

I do not know what are you talking about. Just try to perform any aikido technique without your partner cooperation.

ryback
05-26-2013, 02:02 AM
I do not know what are you talking about. Just try to perform any aikido technique without your partner cooperation.

I have, many times. Against very strong resisting people who were trying to prove something, against people who have a fighting sports background and even against aikidoists who were resisting using their kokyu as part of our training and it works every time.
I have also been on the receiving end of technique while i was resisting or trying my best to punch or kick real fast and ended up flat on my backside, so i also know how it feels when it works.
Aikido is a martial art and if one is training seriously it works.
So I think that I agree with you on that one: You obviously don't know what I'm talking about and unfortunatelly you are not the only one.
On the other hand there are a lot of aikidoists out there who know what they are doing and are able to understand my point, so there is still hope for the future of the art.

observer
05-26-2013, 02:52 PM
You obviously don't know what I'm talking about and unfortunatelly you are not the only one.
Unfortunately, you did not understand my point. I haven't had in mind a pathology in dojo as dealing with 'very strong resisting people who were trying to prove something'. I am talking about a partner not willing to cooperate. It means, not moving if is not necessary. For example, in judo, you are able to perform techniques as many as you wish with a partner who is just standing and doing nothing. Obviously, you do not expect that a person is loosing his balance with every punch?

So, if you are saying that aikido is a martial art, there is still a misunderstanding among us. 'Martial' means war. Same with 'bu' from a two-syllable japanese word "budo". What does it mean: "Aikido is a martial art and if one is training seriously it works"? Do you hurt each other?

Carsten Möllering
05-26-2013, 03:19 PM
I am talking about a partner not willing to cooperate. It means, not moving if is not necessary. For example, in judo, you are able to perform techniques as many as you wish with a partner who is just standing and doing nothing. I experienced this to be a very interisting, and what's more, a very usefull way of practice.

'Martial' means war. Same with 'bu' from a two-syllable japanese word "budo". What does it mean: "Aikido is a martial art and if one is training seriously it works"? Do you hurt each other? The old japanese budō also don't hurt their partner during training. It was importnant to not do the job of the maybe enemy at home while preparing for battle. ;-)
I think it's crucial whether you actually could hurt or not an opponent?

iron horse
05-26-2013, 03:30 PM
Interesting thread. Looks like the aiki bunnies have been safely locked in the closet for awhile. Now that people are beginning to recognise that power can be useful, how do you go about developing it?
How do you develop your Soft Power and how do you develop your Hard Power and do you or don't you distinguish.

observer
05-26-2013, 05:35 PM
I think it's crucial whether you actually could hurt or not an opponent?
You are right Carsten, definitely it is. My question about performing aikido techniques was a little tricky. I do not have problem with understanding Morihei Ueshiba's art. It is simply not about throwing people. All the techniques, he selected, serve absolutely different purpose. Today, in all the dojos, they are trying hard to adopt them for some kind of entertainment, I presume. Unfortunately, it doesn't work without partners' cooperation.

And, Morihei Ueshiba's art is a martial art. The best and most unique. It is about killing people in the blink of an eye. Practice supposed to be based on judo development for safety.

graham christian
05-26-2013, 07:56 PM
Once again seems all backwards to me. Training to handle someone completely in the blink of an eye without hurting them is ten times harder than training to hurt them in the blink of an eye. Thus twen times easier to hurt them too if needs be.

In my experience people actually scared to train this way. Very unmartial.

Peace.G.

observer
05-27-2013, 01:24 AM
"In the blink of an eye" - it's just a phrase.

ryback
05-27-2013, 02:57 AM
Unfortunately, you did not understand my point. I haven't had in mind a pathology in dojo as dealing with 'very strong resisting people who were trying to prove something'. I am talking about a partner not willing to cooperate. It means, not moving if is not necessary. For example, in judo, you are able to perform techniques as many as you wish with a partner who is just standing and doing nothing. Obviously, you do not expect that a person is loosing his balance with every punch?

So, if you are saying that aikido is a martial art, there is still a misunderstanding among us. 'Martial' means war. Same with 'bu' from a two-syllable japanese word "budo". What does it mean: "Aikido is a martial art and if one is training seriously it works"? Do you hurt each other?

You don't have to really hurt your fellow practicioners in order for aikido to qualify as a true martial art. If that was the case, no samurai in feudal Japan would be left to fight or die in the battlefield. They would have killed each other off in the dojo.
Even in a real confrontation, hurting or not hurting your opponent can be a matter of choice if one is an advanced aikidoka, although sometimes your choices are limited by other factors during one fight. The aspect of any aikido technique that shows whether your aikido works or not is that of control. If one is able to control his opponent regardless of any attack, then his aikido works. He can kill him, hurt him bad, or even harmlessly imobilize him according to the situation, but taking control of the attack comes first.
As i have mentioned in my previous post I have applied techniques to people who didn't move because they wanted to prove something, and also to trained aikidoists who were using their experience to stay statical as part of our training. It is very important to be able to do any technique without your opponent surrendering his balance at your feet and as I said before it works. It works if one is trying to hit you without overextending his attack with every punch, it even works if one is simply trying to statically grab you and hold you there without giving you any direction.
After the tori has taken control by using a technique, then and only then the uke rolls or breakfalls in order to avoid his arm getting broken, his head getting injured or worse because during fast advanced practice it can get very dangerous.
Now if you are saying that there are dojos that practice a danceform where everybody is overextending their attack, the tori simply...caresses their wrist and the uke are flying acrobatically around the technique, you are absolutelly right, I completely agree with you on that one. My point was that there is nothing wrong with aikido as a true budo, only with the way these people are training. This is not aikido no matter what the inscriptions outside their schools have written on them.
So in order to avoid that, one does not need to stop practicing aikido or start a parallel training in another art. Simply train hard and seriously in a true aikido dojo.

ryback
05-27-2013, 03:04 AM
Once again seems all backwards to me. Training to handle someone completely in the blink of an eye without hurting them is ten times harder than training to hurt them in the blink of an eye. Thus twen times easier to hurt them too if needs be.

In my experience people actually scared to train this way. Very unmartial.

Peace.G.

I agree 100% Graham. Controling a fast realistic attack without hurting the opponent is much more difficult than causing damage. So if you are forced to cause damage in a life or death situation then becomes easier. And if one is training like that, he also maintains the choice of hurting or not his attacker.
Yes it is very difficult to control without hurting and that's why aikido takes so long. But if you have this ability in any level you start to feel the real spirit of budo...And nothing compares to that.