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Marc Abrams
06-05-2013, 10:10 AM
It never ceases to amaze me how people can take a snapshot in time and project that moment as representative of the totality.  Too many people look at Aikido as this nice, choreographed exercise in “peaceful, conflict resolution”, thinking that this rose-covered lens enables a person create a peaceful end to a violent experience.  For those naive, idealistic people, one can only hope that they never have to confront the manifestation of the expression “you get what you pay for.”  Our techniques contain within them, “options” and “alternatives” that can emerge as strikes, breaks, and chokes (to name a few possibilities) when the occasion calls for those endings to appropriately emerge.  These options/alternatives reveal the depth of the waza/kata that we practice.  If the student is not exposed to those possibilities, then they can easily and mistakenly assume that taught form is all that there is.  That to me, is dangerous, shallow teaching.  I have seen it expressed in countless videos of “real expressions of Aikido” where the Aikidoka is trying to get the attacker to grab them…..
One of the classic areas of “misunderstanding” is with the Kokyu-Nage.  Seriously folks, do you really think that it is a bright idea to throw an attacker far away from you in a manner that allows the person to be unharmed?  Do you really think that this attacker will be overcome by a sense of harmonious awe and not want to continue attacking you?  IF, I want to throw the person to the ground, you can rest assured that the person will end up on the ground right in front me so I can continue to maintain control over the situation.  IF, I need to “eliminate” the first aggressor, the nature of the movements lend itself very nicely into breaking the person’s neck and/or spine.  Maybe that movement can end up as a strike or a really nice choke.  It certainly provides me with a nice platform in which a variety of alternative ending can be created to match the necessity of the situation.  It is very important to be able to teach the nicest outcome possible, ergo, the throw.  It is a very important lesson to not reveal the intent of the ending and remain within the secure, controlled nature of the movements.
Shiho-nage provides the person with an opportunity to break several joints, throw the person on his/her head, or simply place the person on the ground in front of you.  Once again, a seemingly innocuous technique has within it, a variety of outcomes that may be necessary based upon the situation that you are confronted with.  The list of techniques and possible outcomes is quite extensive and should be taught in a safe, controlled manner.  I believe that it is very important that a platform (waza) be initially taught with the safest, least violent ending as possible.  This platform helps to develop a calm, peaceful and secure person who can allow the platform to find it’s necessary outcome without becoming overwhelmed with anger, fear and anxiety.
This month will be a month in which we will be practicing a variety of techniques with the end of the class finishing with an “alternative” ending that allows the person to safely experience the breadth of possible endings to a technique.   The choices come increased responsibility and a greater sense of appreciation for the depth of Aikido.
Practice Safely!
Marc Abrams Sensei


(Original blog post may be found here (http://aasbk.com/blog).)

kumachan
06-05-2013, 10:48 AM
I suggest that those folks participate in a seminar with Saotome Mitsugi sensei.

Marc Abrams
06-05-2013, 02:18 PM
I suggest that those folks participate in a seminar with Saotome Mitsugi sensei.

Stop by Shin-Budo Kai in NYC. Imaizumi Sensei never has any problem demonstrating some interesting variants....

Regards,

marc abrams

Mary Eastland
06-05-2013, 02:41 PM
This would be much easier to read with some breaks between the lines.

While I agree with some of what you wrote you seem to becoming from a place of fear. I think that the practice of Aikido creates a peacefulness within which in turn we can project to the world.

The issue of self-defense can also came from a place of self-acceptance and an acknowledgment of the conditions at hand, always alllowing room for adaptation, considering the circumstances.

morph4me
06-05-2013, 03:33 PM
While I agree with some of what you wrote you seem to becoming from a place of fear. I think that the practice of Aikido creates a peacefulness within which in turn we can project to the world.

The issue of self-defense can also came from a place of self-acceptance and an acknowledgment of the conditions at hand, always allowing room for adaptation, considering the circumstances.

I think it comes from a place of fear in the same way looking both ways before you cross the street does. It's not fear, it's awareness of possibilities that exist in reality, not fantasy

Marc Abrams
06-05-2013, 04:17 PM
This would be much easier to read with some breaks between the lines.

While I agree with some of what you wrote you seem to becoming from a place of fear. I think that the practice of Aikido creates a peacefulness within which in turn we can project to the world.

The issue of self-defense can also came from a place of self-acceptance and an acknowledgment of the conditions at hand, always alllowing room for adaptation, considering the circumstances.

Mary:

I would suggest that you leave psychological interpretations of where other people are coming from to the pro's. If you genuinely knew me or could accurately read where I am coming from, then it would simply be impossible for you to conclude that I seemed to be coming from a place of fear. Did you not read this part of my blog?
" I believe that it is very important that a platform (waza) be initially taught with the safest, least violent ending as possible. This platform helps to develop a calm, peaceful and secure person who can allow the platform to find it's necessary outcome without becoming overwhelmed with anger, fear and anxiety."

Projection onto the world is nice sounding idea as long as the attacker is willing to buy YOUR projection (good luck finding attackers who are willing to do so). If you move from a calm, secure center, you can acknowledge the conditions at hand and respond according to the needs that are created by the situation. If you cannot do what is necessary, based on the needs of the situation, then you are in for a lot of trouble. All of that person's projections will do precious little to help if that person is not capable of adapting the techniques to fit the needs of the situation. What does help is to be taught a variety of different expressions from our compendium of techniques that represent the spectrum of possible, necessary outcomes. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that few dojos allow students to experience to possibilities contained with our waza.

As to the paragraph spacing, they exist on my blog site. The transfer to this site seems to eat up the spacing.

Marc Abrams

Mary Eastland
06-05-2013, 07:14 PM
@Marc: You said:

I would suggest that you leave psychological interpretations of where other people are coming from to the pro's."

I am free to state my opinion. If my opinion is not in accord with what you see as the facts just state the facts and move on. There is no need to try to suppress other opinions by appealing to authority.

Demetrio Cereijo
06-05-2013, 07:26 PM
@Marc: You said:

I would suggest that you leave psychological interpretations of where other people are coming from to the pro's."

I am free to state my opinion. If my opinion is not in accord with what you see as the facts just state the facts and move on. There is no need to try to suppress other opinions by appealing to authority.

You are free to state your opinion, of course. But in this case you attempted a diagnosis while not being qualified for that. Not sure if 1st ammendment protects that.

Mary Eastland
06-05-2013, 09:10 PM
Fear is a diagnosis...give me a break.

kumachan
06-05-2013, 09:16 PM
Stop by Shin-Budo Kai in NYC. Imaizumi Sensei never has any problem demonstrating some interesting variants....

Regards,

marc abrams

Thanks, Abrams sensei, I used to stop by at Imaizumi sensei's old dojo to watch class, 20 years ago!

RonRagusa
06-05-2013, 10:52 PM
You are free to state your opinion, of course. But in this case you attempted a diagnosis while not being qualified for that. Not sure if 1st ammendment protects that.

Fear is not classified as a disease and therefore cannot be considered a diagnosis (which is defined as: Noun, The identification of the nature of an illness or other problem by examination of the symptoms.) in the context that you are trying to cast it. Your assertion that Mary was diagnosing anything is incorrect.

She ventured an opinion (which is defined as: Noun, A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.), in this case based on something that Marc himself wrote. Publishing on the internet for public consumption implicitly invites opinionated responses unless comments are explicitly forbidden or otherwise limited by the author.

Ron

Marc Abrams
06-06-2013, 07:40 AM
@Marc: You said:

I would suggest that you leave psychological interpretations of where other people are coming from to the pro's."

I am free to state my opinion. If my opinion is not in accord with what you see as the facts just state the facts and move on. There is no need to try to suppress other opinions by appealing to authority.

Mary:

Of course you are free to express your opinions in this country. You are also free to engage in a lot of different types of behaviors that leave people shaking their heads...... Just like you stating an errant opinion, based upon inadequate knowledge. You are entitled to what ever opinion you might want to have about any subject matter out there. When you express an opinion about another person, particularly when it is so far off from reality, do not be surprised when that person expressed his/her opinion about your opinion. In this matter, I will repeat myself:

I would suggest that you leave psychological interpretations of where other people are coming from to the pro's.

Marc Abrams

Marc Abrams
06-06-2013, 07:41 AM
Thanks, Abrams sensei, I used to stop by at Imaizumi sensei's old dojo to watch class, 20 years ago!

Gene:

Glad to hear that! We are located at the corner of 8th ave. and 14th st.. You are also welcome to stop by my dojo anytime in Bedford Hills!

Regards,

Marc Abrams

Cliff Judge
06-06-2013, 09:35 AM
While I agree with some of what you wrote you seem to becoming from a place of fear. I think that the practice of Aikido creates a peacefulness within which in turn we can project to the world.

I agree with this. You get scared of what might happen if you are walking down the street and suddenly____. You get scared that your Aikido practice is irrelevant and not valued.

Exploring the destructive aspects of Aikido seem like a fine thing to do in either case, IMO. This type of training can renew your respect for your own art and its potential, and the responsibility you have for your training partners who work with you on the mat.

There might be a danger if you manifest too much anger or will to harm another, I suppose. Though that would be because you have to deal with that anyway, in order to really find a peace within you that you can project to the world.

Worse is the danger that you may find yourself performing the harmful technique in a situation where your uke would not otherwise expect it and might not be ready for it. It is up to the instructor to teach his or her students to be respectful of what they are learning.

PeterR
06-06-2013, 10:18 AM
I have heard the statement that looking at the more destructive side of Aikido is an exercise in fear before.

I reject that based solely on my own reasons which is that I find that technical aspect fascinating and really don't wander down the street thinking about who is going to jump me clutching a [name your weapon here].

Perhaps it is my inner psychopath talking. ;D

Chris Li
06-06-2013, 10:25 AM
@Marc: You said:

I would suggest that you leave psychological interpretations of where other people are coming from to the pro's."

I am free to state my opinion. If my opinion is not in accord with what you see as the facts just state the facts and move on. There is no need to try to suppress other opinions by appealing to authority.

FWIW, it's not an appeal to authority - he is the authority, in this case.

Anyway, if everybody's free to state their opinion then why are you griping about Marc expressing his opinion?

Best,

Chris

George S. Ledyard
06-06-2013, 11:18 AM
While I understand completely what Marc is saying, I will say, in Mary's defense that fear is the underlying factor in much human interaction and is especially a factor in how folks get involved with martial arts. If you look at Buddhist psychology as outlined in the Vipassana system, one of the older systems of Buddhisms, most human disfunction at its base can be reduced to fear. At the most fundamental level it is fear of dying but it can often take a lot of work to get it broken down to that level.

Most martial artists started training as a result of some level of fear. Now, many folks in martial arts will claim that they aren't afraid. However, that just means they don't perceive that they are afraid of being physically injured. But that is only one kind of fear. Those same folks, tough as they are, may be quite fearful about allowing themselves to be vulnerable in their human interactions. They are quite afraid of being emotionally hurt. They can be fearful of not measuring up to some perceived notion of their own skill, fearful of being judged by others, fearful of "failing" whatever. Fear causes us to not be present, it causes us to distort the nature of our reality in order to make ourselves feel safe.

In my experience, some of the toughest people I know are quite fearful. I think that the whole purpose of Budo, and Aikido in particular, is to move the practitioner into a place in which he or she isn't fearful. Only by ceasing to be afraid can we move to a place at which we don't use agression to mask our fear. Our whole society is fear based at this point.

While I wouldn't presume to second guess a mental health professional about diagnosis or treatment in a medical context, I do think we all have to sense and deal with the fact that the folks we deal with are quite often coming from a position of fear when they are interacting with us in ways that we don't like. I think that understanding basic human fearfulness is the basis for why we even strive for a less than destructive outcome in our martial interactions. I think it is the whole basis for what the Buddhists would call Karuna" or compassion. And that is the reason we might choose to do Aikido as opposed to some other simpler, more easily learned, and in the short run, more "effective" martial art. Aikido provides us a way to protect ourselves at the same time it potentially provides us with options that also protect others against the outcomes of their aggressive behavior. We would choose to do this precisely because we understand that their aggression is misguided and comes from an underlying vulnerability that we all share as human beings.

Budo training should allow us to react to these thing in a way that is not motivated by fear. The outcome could still be destructive for an aggressor depending on the circumstance but ones own reactions are no longer coming from the same base level of fearfulness that the aggressor's actions are coming from.

So, I think discussions of fear and what makes people fearful and how training might take people past those fears (which I happen to think much Aikido training in particular fails to do) are just about always relevant and we can't leave those discussions just to the mental health professionals. I see myself as a "professional" in dealing with fear... it's just not a medical approach.

Marc Abrams
06-06-2013, 01:05 PM
While I understand completely what Marc is saying, I will say, in Mary's defense that fear is the underlying factor in much human interaction and is especially a factor in how folks get involved with martial arts. If you look at Buddhist psychology as outlined in the Vipassana system, one of the older systems of Buddhisms, most human disfunction at its base can be reduced to fear. At the most fundamental level it is fear of dying but it can often take a lot of work to get it broken down to that level.

Most martial artists started training as a result of some level of fear. Now, many folks in martial arts will claim that they aren't afraid. However, that just means they don't perceive that they are afraid of being physically injured. But that is only one kind of fear. Those same folks, tough as they are, may be quite fearful about allowing themselves to be vulnerable in their human interactions. They are quite afraid of being emotionally hurt. They can be fearful of not measuring up to some perceived notion of their own skill, fearful of being judged by others, fearful of "failing" whatever. Fear causes us to not be present, it causes us to distort the nature of our reality in order to make ourselves feel safe.

In my experience, some of the toughest people I know are quite fearful. I think that the whole purpose of Budo, and Aikido in particular, is to move the practitioner into a place in which he or she isn't fearful. Only by ceasing to be afraid can we move to a place at which we don't use agression to mask our fear. Our whole society is fear based at this point.

While I wouldn't presume to second guess a mental health professional about diagnosis or treatment in a medical context, I do think we all have to sense and deal with the fact that the folks we deal with are quite often coming from a position of fear when they are interacting with us in ways that we don't like. I think that understanding basic human fearfulness is the basis for why we even strive for a less than destructive outcome in our martial interactions. I think it is the whole basis for what the Buddhists would call Karuna" or compassion. And that is the reason we might choose to do Aikido as opposed to some other simpler, more easily learned, and in the short run, more "effective" martial art. Aikido provides us a way to protect ourselves at the same time it potentially provides us with options that also protect others against the outcomes of their aggressive behavior. We would choose to do this precisely because we understand that their aggression is misguided and comes from an underlying vulnerability that we all share as human beings.

Budo training should allow us to react to these thing in a way that is not motivated by fear. The outcome could still be destructive for an aggressor depending on the circumstance but ones own reactions are no longer coming from the same base level of fearfulness that the aggressor's actions are coming from.

So, I think discussions of fear and what makes people fearful and how training might take people past those fears (which I happen to think much Aikido training in particular fails to do) are just about always relevant and we can't leave those discussions just to the mental health professionals. I see myself as a "professional" in dealing with fear... it's just not a medical approach.

George raises excellent points. The specific reason for the nature of how I teach is to help people NOT react from a place of fear. As a psychologist and martial arts instructor, I make a conscious and concerted effort to address the issues of fear, safety, anger, etc. in how I structure my classes and teach. My students can all talk about instances where I address these issues directly, when they emerge in class. This topic is certainly worthy of a thread.

The issue that I had with Mary's response (which I immediately and directly addressed) was in her errant assertion that I was somehow "coming from a place of fear." I work very hard in helping to teach students NOT to come from a place of fear. This is something that I am always addressing in my own training as well. My blog had absolutely NOTHING to do with me coming from a place of fear. This blog was addressing the issue of fear, anger, anxiety, and other negative emotional states that can emerge in training, particularly when the techniques are done in a manner that can result in grievous injury and death. Fear and anger in the students can easily result in people getting injured when training with potent techniques. As a responsible teacher, I am vigilant for signs of these problematic indicators, more so, when I teach very dangerous techniques.

Marc Abrams

Mary Eastland
06-08-2013, 08:19 AM
Interesting points, George.

The original blog contains words like dangerous, naive, idealistic, aggressor, breaking the spine, etc....words that lend to angry, fear based approach.

There is nothing wrong with this.

My approach is different....I tend to use words like connection, lose balance, Patience, tolerance...these words create a more peaceful approach.

A peaceful approach can address the core issue of Aikido which is self -defense just as a fear based approach does. Many paths...we all know... lead to the same place.

Marc Abrams
06-08-2013, 08:40 AM
Interesting points, George.

The original blog contains words like dangerous, naive, idealistic, aggressor, breaking the spine, etc....words that lend to angry, fear based approach.

There is nothing wrong with this.

My approach is different....I tend to use words like connection, lose balance, Patience, tolerance...these words create a more peaceful approach.

A peaceful approach can address the core issue of Aikido which is self -defense just as a fear based approach does. Many paths...we all know... lead to the same place.

Mary:

How many times do you have to hear that you are far off base before the message begins to sink in?

If words like dangerous, naive, idealistic, aggressor, breaking the spine, etc... LEAD YOU to ASSUME INCORRECTLY that this is an angry, fear based approach, then that issue rests solely with you.

At the end of the day, the words we use provide precious little as to how a person can or cannot defend themselves if that person were to be physically assaulted by another person (s). At the end of the day, it is the skill sets that a person has been taught to utilize (including how one manages one's own internal space) that will help to possibly make a difference. Even then, there are no guarantees.

I am happy that you are satisfied with "Mary's approach" towards teaching Aikido. Problems arise when you make inaccurate assumptions as to "other people's" approaches towards teaching Aikido that do not resonate with your approach. You might want to consider how your way of viewing things might distort your perceptions and conclusions regarding other people's ways. Then again, you might not.....

Marc Abrams

Mary Eastland
06-08-2013, 11:09 AM
"am happy that you are satisfied with "Marc's approach" towards teaching Aikido. Problems arise when you make inaccurate assumptions as to "other people's" approaches towards teaching Aikido that do not resonate with your approach. You might want to consider how your way of viewing things might distort your perceptions and conclusions regarding other people's ways. Then again, you might not....."



I doubt you are really happy....because you seem so angry when you respond....maybe you could listen and just maybe you might hear that what you think you sound like may not be coming across.

Now I will bow out.

hughrbeyer
06-08-2013, 03:27 PM
Just to muddy the waters a bit, it's been my experience that those using words like "connection, , patience, tolerance" can easily be as fear-based and aggressive as those using words like "break, strike, kill." "Patience" = "You are so unreasonable that I have to demonstrate my great patience to deal with you." "Tolerance" = "It's a good thing that I'm so tolerant because otherwise I'd tear you a new one."

NOT applying this to anyone here, obviously--I don't know Mary and I'm certainly not going to offer a psychoanalysis of her. :-) But I do think that those who use words like like "strike, kill" know they are playing with fire, whereas those who use softer language may have fewer triggers to remind themselves to examine the attitude beneath the language. On the flip side, don't assume that those who use stronger language aren't totally aware of what they're doing and what the implications are.

Gary David
06-08-2013, 05:56 PM
So.......I should stay out of this because nothing will change........ In any case at my age I have had enough years around any number of types of people that it is not the words that spike my anger or my fear ( both anger and fear should be friends and part of your tool kit) rather the tone and presentation of the words that flavor the real meaning of the usage. I have been around the use of the work "patience" when it has meant that and when it has not. I have had folks tell me what I am doing is so marvelous when I can tell that they don't. I have been around people talking to another about a balanced life, about getting together, about working together while sticking the knife in the others back with one arm around their shoulders. If I feel anger or fear...they are indicators and I ask myself why....I look around to see why...to close the loop before acting...tools to be used as part of a complete set....coming from a full and connected self .

As for me....while most situations we tend to get ourselves in can be talked down, not every situation can be. The intention of the individual(s) placing themselves in your way can be determined at the moment, it has to be. If the intention is to do you harm in some fashion then you have to deal with that in the moment. At my age I can't afford to throw people away from me to have them get up and come back. If there are more than one it would be in my best interests to take one or more out of play quickly. This doesn't mean I am operating out of anger or fear....just doing what is needed to keep ME safe.
Gary

Marc Abrams
06-08-2013, 08:41 PM
"am happy that you are satisfied with "Marc's approach" towards teaching Aikido. Problems arise when you make inaccurate assumptions as to "other people's" approaches towards teaching Aikido that do not resonate with your approach. You might want to consider how your way of viewing things might distort your perceptions and conclusions regarding other people's ways. Then again, you might not....."



I doubt you are really happy....because you seem so angry when you respond....maybe you could listen and just maybe you might hear that what you think you sound like may not be coming across.

Now I will bow out.

Dear Mary,

I thought that you put me on your ignore list? ;) As to your attempts at "interpreting" or "believing" that you understand me, I once again suggest that you leave that to the pros. I genuinely support you bowing out of the discussion about this topic. As the old saying goes... If you have nothing useful to say, say nothing at all.........

Marc Abrams

Marc Abrams
06-08-2013, 08:59 PM
Just to muddy the waters a bit, it's been my experience that those using words like "connection, , patience, tolerance" can easily be as fear-based and aggressive as those using words like "break, strike, kill." "Patience" = "You are so unreasonable that I have to demonstrate my great patience to deal with you." "Tolerance" = "It's a good thing that I'm so tolerant because otherwise I'd tear you a new one."

NOT applying this to anyone here, obviously--I don't know Mary and I'm certainly not going to offer a psychoanalysis of her. :-) But I do think that those who use words like like "strike, kill" know they are playing with fire, whereas those who use softer language may have fewer triggers to remind themselves to examine the attitude beneath the language. On the flip side, don't assume that those who use stronger language aren't totally aware of what they're doing and what the implications are.

Hugh:

Great points. Many people who hide behind "nice sounding words" tend to be the ones with the greatest degree of difficulty in managing and dealing with overt anger. They are great at projecting their difficulties onto those around them who are much more comfortable in managing overt expressions of anger.

Real physical conflicts tend to be filled with a lot of anger. Very harsh and threatening words are typically used as weapons. Learning how to recognize the signals of fear and anger and learning how to use those signals so that you can respond in a centered, collected and effective manner is a hard thing to learn how to do. Learning how to effectively end a situation and remain safe (like Gary posted) is simply a good goal. There should be no more anger expressed in using words to de-escalate a situation than should be used in choking a person into unconsciousness. Each is simply a means to a safe end; nothing more and nothing less.

My experiences in conflicts has been that I was simply focused on ending the situation as quickly as I could by doing whatever it took to stay safe and keep someone else from harming me (or stopping them from harming someone else). There was no time to think about "peaceful words", fear or anger. There was only me acting in the space that I was in. Afterwards, the adrenalin rush and flood of emotions would be dealt with. These experiences informed me, and have shaped how I teach my students so that they don't have unrealistic expectations and beliefs. I try to provide them with useful skill sets so that if the statistically improbable situation occurs of them being in a real physical conflict, the skill sets might serve them well.

Hope to see you in New Hampshire this summer!

Marc Abrams

hughrbeyer
06-09-2013, 01:34 PM
Absolutely, wouldn't miss it, Marc. Let me know dates.

BAP
06-09-2013, 01:58 PM
We all come from different perspectives and approaches to our "aikido". The problem I have is when people want and claim the best of both worlds. There is the world of perfect harmony, balance, peace, cooperation, and brotherhood. All of which are fine and you can tailor your aikido practice toward those goals. More power to you and I do believe you can have a very rewarding aikido practice and experience based on that approach. You also can focus on the self-defense or "budo" aspect of the art focused on taking proper decisive action against an opponent who is actively trying to overcome you with physical force.

There can in some instances where both these approaches can be combined but that does take a great deal of effort and frankly there are not many who can really ever achieve a practical application and balance of both those simultaneously. The problem I see are the one's who focus the most on peace and harmony yet asset their style allows them to effectively deal with a serious aggressor. That very likely can be a formula for at a minimum a painful reality check.

RonRagusa
06-09-2013, 02:31 PM
There can in some instances where both these approaches can be combined but that does take a great deal of effort and frankly there are not many who can really ever achieve a practical application and balance of both those simultaneously.

How can one practice Aikido and not achieve a harmonious balance between your two "approaches", since they both grow naturally from the practice of a single art?

Ron

PeterR
06-09-2013, 04:01 PM
I think defining what is harmonious is as difficult as defining what is Aiki.

RonRagusa
06-09-2013, 06:39 PM
I think defining what is harmonious is as difficult as defining what is Aiki.

Harmonious as "in accord".

Ron

hughrbeyer
06-09-2013, 08:13 PM
There can in some instances where both these approaches can be combined but that does take a great deal of effort and frankly there are not many who can really ever achieve a practical application and balance of both those simultaneously. The problem I see are the one's who focus the most on peace and harmony yet asset their style allows them to effectively deal with a serious aggressor. That very likely can be a formula for at a minimum a painful reality check.

Agreed. But the name of one of those few was Ueshiba. So we're sort of stuck with the task of trying to reconcile them ourselves, if we're serious about practicing his art.

He left us clues in his life and words--simultaneously the art that kills on first contact, and the art of peace. Omit the first, and you have vapor. Omit the second, and you have thuggery. Engage both and you might at least be on the path.

Carsten Möllering
06-10-2013, 05:54 AM
How can one practice Aikido and not achieve a harmonious balance between your two "approaches", since they both grow naturally from the practice of a single art?
I understand that you practice Ki-Aikido? (Or an offshoot of it?)
In the Ki-Aikido that is taught in Germany and follows Yoshigasaki dōshu (his nomenclature) the waza are explicetly designed to not harm the attacker. (For example kote gaeshi was transformed into kote oroshi, other techniques underwent a comparable process aswell.) In the Ki-Aikido of Yoshigasaki dōshu this goes so far that there is even no kuzushi, because breaking balance could cause bad feelings.

In this way of practice the peacefullnes, whatever that means in detail, is direct part of what you practice and do, it is part of the waza itself.

In the (aikikai) aikidō I did for more then ten years with french teachers, waza were and are explitely designed to harm the attacker. The techniques clearly had and have hat potential and it was part of the teaching.
During my very first seminar, nearly 20 years ago now, I learned that everything starts with atemi to the larynx of uke by tori. And that the waza develop from uke's reaction to tori's atemi. Same with other situations: tori does atemi, intending to knock out uke. If this works, no more aikidō technique is needed.

In this way of practice the peacefulness, whatever that means in detail, is not part of the waza itself but has to be added by tori due to his personal development. ( I want to make clear that all teachers I worked with until now where very spiritual, peacefull and humble persons.)

So different ways of practice, different ways of understanding one's practice.
A lot of things that you or Mary seem to find self-evident when practicing AIKIDO have never been a part or an issue of my practice.
What grows naturally from practice seems to differ depending to the understanding of one's practice.

RonRagusa
06-10-2013, 07:24 AM
I understand that you practice Ki-Aikido? (Or an offshoot of it?)

No and no. While Maruyama sensei was originally affiliated with KI society he split with Tohei not too long after I started studying. His Aikido is uniquely his own and as of a decade or so ago (the last time I saw him) bore little resemblance to Ki-Aikido.

In the Ki-Aikido that is taught in Germany and follows Yoshigasaki dōshu (his nomenclature) the waza are explicetly designed to not harm the attacker. (For example kote gaeshi was transformed into kote oroshi, other techniques underwent a comparable process aswell.) In the Ki-Aikido of Yoshigasaki dōshu this goes so far that there is even no kuzushi, because breaking balance could cause bad feelings.

Sensei never espoused these views and neither do I.

In this way of practice the peacefullnes, whatever that means in detail, is direct part of what you practice and do, it is part of the waza itself.

Again, I can't relate to this since it's not part of my experience as a member of Kokikai or as an independent practitioner. Our choice not to harm, or do as little harm as is necessary, to the attacker is a matter of choice, not built into the waza. I have written about this in more detail here (http://ron-aikidothoughts.blogspot.com/2013/04/two-hundred-and-twenty-eight.html).

Ron

MRoh
06-10-2013, 08:40 AM
By practicing a Budo we naturally should come to an attitude, that deprecates fighting ore harming people.
But I think there are some issues, that shouldn't be mixed
One is, how Aikido should be trained on the mat.

From my teacher I heard all the years: "on the mat, we don't fight". The way of aiki or non-resistance can't be learned in a setting, in which a spirit of fighting is predominant.
But I never heard anything about love, harmony or peace in any of his classes.

Another issue is the "victory over the enemy in ouerselfes", but this has nothing to do with harming an opponent or not, but it also concernes the state of not-fighting.
The statements about world peace and things like that, come from O Sensei's religious side, but I think they often were missunderstood.

Carsten Möllering
06-10-2013, 09:07 AM
Our choice not to harm, or do as little harm as is necessary, to the attacker ...
Ok, so even while my assumption was wrong - thank you for putting that right - this sentence seems to show that the outcome is the same:

Although the waza in your aikido are not designed to not hurt, nevertheless "not to harm or to do as little harm as is necessary" seems to be an aim that is inherent to your aikidō?

This is not the case in my practice. I have never heard that aikidō is about "not to harm, or do as little harm as is necessary, to the attacker" in my context. This has never been part of the teaching of aikidō in my biography. The aikidō I learned is simply not concerned with the physical health of an attacker.

While it is very concerned about how to deal with uke as someone who lays his physicall health in tori's hands and allows him to use his body as a feedback. So the intention of practice on the tatami is to help each other grow.
But uke is not an attacker.

Gary David
06-10-2013, 09:58 AM
............Our choice not to harm, or do as little harm as is necessary, to the attacker is a matter of choice, not built into the waza. I have written about this in more detail here (http://ron-aikidothoughts.blogspot.com/2013/04/two-hundred-and-twenty-eight.html).

Ron

Ron
In this life time I have been in very few fights......none in the last 40 years, but it is very clear to me that against a determined (and worst yet a skilled) opponent the choice to not harm is really not available..... Your choice is how to get out of the situation with as little harm to your self as possible. Maybe the choice of tools ( weapons) can effectively result in more or less damage to you or to the attacker.....but in the moment you just deal and check the results later.

Your choice of tools and how you choose to use them may effect less damage and the targets you choose may also......but you have to train that into the body/mind. As for myself these days I always target the body, I expect to have to fight the attackers weapons....his hand and feet....before I can physically enter...if I do.

And in the end I would never set myself up before hand, in the moment, by saying to myself I choose not to harm this person........
Gary

Marc Abrams
06-10-2013, 10:08 AM
Ok, so even while my assumption was wrong - thank you for putting that right - this sentence seems to show that the outcome is the same:

Although the waza in your aikido are not designed to not hurt, nevertheless "not to harm or to do as little harm as is necessary" seems to be an aim that is inherent to your aikidō?

This is not the case in my practice. I have never heard that aikidō is about "not to harm, or do as little harm as is necessary, to the attacker" in my context. This has never been part of the teaching of aikidō in my biography. The aikidō I learned is simply not concerned with the physical health of an attacker.

While it is very concerned about how to deal with uke as someone who lays his physicall health in tori's hands and allows him to use his body as a feedback. So the intention of practice on the tatami is to help each other grow.
But uke is not an attacker.

Carsten:

We seem to have similar experiences and beliefs in regards to our Aikido experiences. Preconceived ideas as to what we seek to do, or what our waza can do, can be potentially dangerous if the conditions of a conflict dictate far different outcomes. The breadth of outcomes contained within the depth of our waza can hopefully enable us to be able to utilize what is necessary, based upon the immediate situation at hand.

The true beauty of Aikido (to me) is contained in your statement " So the intention of practice on the tatami is to help each other grow. " That is precisely why I study and teach Aikido. Whereas we may never know if our teachings enable a person to be able to successfully defend him/herself, we can see the how Aikido has enabled us and our students to grow as people. To me, it is this growth than enables us to create a more connected, loving community - which does make us safer. I believe that the authenticity in what I try to teach, helps to create an atmosphere that enables real and positive changes to occur in the lives of my students (and myself).

Cordially,

Marc Abrams

RonRagusa
06-10-2013, 10:25 AM
Although the waza in your aikido are not designed to not hurt, nevertheless "not to harm or to do as little harm as is necessary" seems to be an aim that is inherent to your aikidō?

No Carsten, it's not an aim or goal, it's a choice. "not to harm or to do as little harm as is necessary", runs the full gamut of responses to an attack, up to and including the use of lethal force if necessary.

This is not the case in my practice. I have never heard that aikidō is about "not to harm, or do as little harm as is necessary, to the attacker" in my context. This has never been part of the teaching of aikidō in my biography. The aikidō I learned is simply not concerned with the physical health of an attacker.

Well different strokes for different folks and all that...

While it is very concerned about how to deal with uke as someone who lays his physicall health in tori's hands and allows him to use his body as a feedback. So the intention of practice on the tatami is to help each other grow.
But uke is not an attacker.

Yes, practice on the mat is to foster the growth of all parties. And I agree, on the mat uke is not an attacker.

Ron

RonRagusa
06-10-2013, 10:28 AM
...but it is very clear to me that against a determined (and worst yet a skilled) opponent the choice to not harm is really not available.....

Gary -

Please refer to my response to Carsten as regarding the range of response options that are included in "not to harm or to do as little harm as is necessary".

Ron

RonRagusa
06-10-2013, 10:41 AM
Your choice of tools and how you choose to use them may effect less damage and the targets you choose may also......but you have to train that into the body/mind. As for myself these days I always target the body, I expect to have to fight the attackers weapons....his hand and feet....before I can physically enter...if I do.

I see Aikido as a subset of a much the larger collection of ideas, strategies and tactics that comprise "self-defense". Therefore, Aikido for self-defense is not a priority for me. Mary delved very deeply into self-defense in the fifteen years she spent teaching it and as a result we have both come away with a greater appreciation for the options available to us in the unlikely chance that we are ever assaulted.

The study she undertook has freed us from having to rely on Aikido as a primary tool for defending ourselves and enabled us to train with other goals in mind.

And in the end I would never set myself up before hand, in the moment, by saying to myself I choose not to harm this person........

Can't disagree with that sentiment.

Ron

phitruong
06-10-2013, 02:01 PM
i think it's not so much as protecting our attacker(s), but more so in protecting ourselves. protecting the after trauma, post action if you will, of hurting/maiming/killing another human being. protecting our moral compass, for those who have them, from the after action.

question, if one doesn't embrace one's darkside, the anger, the rage, the fear, the hopelessness, and so on, then wouldn't that makes one incomplete? sort of yin yang, in yo, hi ho kinda of thing? just wondering. personally, i liked my darkside; other bugger is alot of fun. :)

MRoh
06-11-2013, 03:57 AM
Preconceived ideas as to what we seek to do, or what our waza can do, can be potentially dangerous if the conditions of a conflict dictate far different outcomes.

But its just an idea.

The idea of being able to harm or to kill people as a basis for the practicing of Aikido does not neccessarily find an expression in the "real" skills that somebody has.

Mary Eastland
06-11-2013, 07:17 AM
Exploring what one is willing to do to defend oneself is essental. The time to do it is in quiet meditation not during a conflict situation.

During conflict it is so important to have mind and body co-ordinated and to be able to trust the ideas that surface from our inner selves.

Gary David
06-11-2013, 09:40 AM
But its just an idea.

The idea of being able to harm or to kill people as a basis for the practicing of Aikido does not neccessarily find an expression in the "real" skills that somebody has.

Exploring what one is willing to do to defend oneself is essental. The time to do it is in quiet meditation not during a conflict situation.

During conflict it is so important to have mind and body co-ordinated and to be able to trust the ideas that surface from our inner selves.

Folks
I think that we are talking around the same ideas.....the question is what are you willing to program into your "tool" set that will be available in the moment to be used dependent upon the situation, with the situations differing and utilizing different tools (responses and respond levels)?

I think that the problems we get into here is, as the old song goes...."....what to leave in and what to leave out...." Many here preclude the use of some responses and tools, never train them or program them in. If you need a rope and didn't provide for one it is not there if needed.

Having said that everyone is free to train at whatever level they choose and to include what they choose.

Gary

MRoh
06-11-2013, 10:13 AM
Having said that everyone is free to train at whatever level they choose and to include what they choose.


I agree.
But I doubt that an Idea of what techniques can do is crucial for what is programmed in.

In the main, the way of training aikido doesn't differ so much from dojo to dojo, most people don't practice in a real "martial" way, but there are many which talk about the martial aspects of aikido and the "deadly" potential of there techniques.
If I look behind, I see classical training like everywhere else, no special-forces drills ore something, that would burn in another "program".

Gary David
06-11-2013, 01:00 PM
I agree.
But I doubt that an Idea of what techniques can do is crucial for what is programmed in.

It is my understanding that technique is the bottom rung of the ladder....and even it has rungs within the rungs. Technique is visible and results can be seen easily. The same can't be said about principles of movement, of internal strength and of Aiki...which are little known, little taught and little explored...and then only by a few to an effective level.


In the main, the way of training aikido doesn't differ so much from dojo to dojo, most people don't practice in a real "martial" way......

If they did would there be more than 4 or 5 still training after a while?


but there are many which talk about the martial aspects of aikido and the "deadly" potential of there techniques.

Again as I have been taught technique is just the beginning and most of us never get by that or get pulled back to it.....


If I look behind, I see classical training like everywhere else, no special-forces drills ore something, that would burn in another "program".

Again only the few will go out looking for more, to add to, fine other keys to understanding...... it is what it is.....

Gary

JP3
06-15-2013, 07:45 PM
We really should tell new students something about it, or maybe put one of those dangerous substances warnings on the first uniform/gi a new students obtains, buys, or is given, or place some sort of disclaimer at the bottom of their waiver they sign at the beginning of the first class.

How about:

DANGER: Aikido techniques look very pretty, flowy and sometimes "fake." Do not assume this is the actual truth. A change in hand position, body movement, grasp, or even the intensity of the technique's performance can lead to intense pain, joint disruption/destruction, lifelong maiming, and death.

...hmm...

Then again, let's just keep talking about it in class, just saying "When you get to this point, you ... Could ... just go over here instead..."

*collective gasp of student body **

I forgot to mention that I agree with Marc's original post, if that wasn't clear from the above.

The discussion of "fear" was enlightening, too, and I also agree witht he analogy of the concept of awareness being fear-linked. I always look both ways, sometimes twice.