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Peter Boylan
08-20-2013, 06:55 PM
This is a blog post I wrote in response to a question on another forum. What do you think?
http://budobum.blogspot.com/2013/08/is-it-still-aikido-iaidojodowhatever-if.html

HL1978
08-20-2013, 08:21 PM
Many japanese arts stress the importance of reiho, kendo for example begins and ends with rei. Kendoka will say... that without it, kendo is just hitting people with sticks.

While this is an aikido forum, I think a good basis for comparasion for your blog would be to contrast BJJ and judo given their common roots, as I'm not aware of aikido which has mostly abandoned many of the traditional practices.

Having practiced both judo and Brazillian Jujitsu (aka basically just judo), I would tend to disagree with your thesis. If one was to follow the same logic, BJJ could only be choking out your opponent and locking their joints as it lacks reiho as expressed in JMA. Judo shares the same etiquette as found in aikido, karate and kendo, however BJJ (as I have experienced it) lacks most of the etiquette, and in competition has both gi and no-gi divisions (different waza are appropriate to both as the lack of the gi changes the dynamics considerably).

Are BJJer's any less polite than judoka? No, not really. In any martial art, if you act like a jerk or if you have a habit of hurting people, others don't want to practice with you. If you aren't wearing a gi, are you no longer doing the same art? No, most of the techniques still work (that don't require the use of a gi, like a gi-choke). Do the elements of self improvement disappear? Nope, they're still there if that's your intent in training, or as a biproduct of training. Does the lack of japanese style ettiquite make BJJ less safe than judo? No, not at all, you still have to look out for your training partners and use proper control. Utilzing english terms rather than japanese ones (or portugese) doesn't change the training dynamic either.

If anything, I found people in BJJ (and MMA) acting more towards the principles idealized in most japanese martial arts and with very little ego which is totally the opposite of what I expected. I suspect this is because, in my opinion, reiho as practiced in the west is appears as "forced" sincerity/humility, as it is expressed via a foreign culture. In arts where there is a greater chance of accidental injury or higher levels of contact, you have to take greater care and think of others.

This also limits the "roleplaying element" which admittedly, is part of what draws some martial arts enthusiasts to japanese martial arts. Of course, adopting the costumes and some cultural elements can be taken to some amusing extremes, and may be in part what brings people in the door, but its hardly the main part of the practice.

Chris Li
08-20-2013, 08:42 PM
This is a blog post I wrote in response to a question on another forum. What do you think?
http://budobum.blogspot.com/2013/08/is-it-still-aikido-iaidojodowhatever-if.html

If anybody's interested, here's the original discussion: http://lnkd.in/f4hD3S

FWIW, I don't see any reason why you can't strip out all the Japanese stuff and still be doing Aikido.

OTOH, I can also understand that Japan's innate ethnocentric tendencies would probably lead many Japanese teachers to tell their students that such a thing is impossible.

Best,

Chris

Dave Gallagher
08-20-2013, 09:30 PM
BJJ is not a budo. It's just a series of techniques. It has no spiritual content. I am of the opinion that in Japanese arts everything has meaning and tradition. This includes the clothing and the protocol in the dojo. If you remove those things you might just as well go outside and roll in the dirt. Just my opinion.

phitruong
08-20-2013, 09:51 PM
don't see why one couldn't call it aikido. we usually practiced outside wearing street clothes. doesn't make it less aikido. isn't one of the meaning of aikido is the way of harmony? if you are out on the beach, the way to harmonize is to wear speedo thong and throw each other around in the waves. so if i take away all the clothes, then i would be a naked aikido man, with a pretty good looking rear end and shoulders, and would still do aikido, but naked aikido, if there is such a thing. however, i would draw the line at naked BJJ, unless my partner is as good looking as i am. :D

Chris Li
08-20-2013, 09:51 PM
BJJ is not a budo. It's just a series of techniques. It has no spiritual content. I am of the opinion that in Japanese arts everything has meaning and tradition. This includes the clothing and the protocol in the dojo. If you remove those things you might just as well go outside and roll in the dirt. Just my opinion.

So...if Morihei Ueshiba trained outside in normal clothing, as he was known to quite often, it wouldn't have been Aikido?

Best,

Chris

Hilary
08-20-2013, 09:55 PM
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

hughrbeyer
08-20-2013, 10:00 PM
don't see why one couldn't call it aikido. we usually practiced outside wearing street clothes. doesn't make it less aikido. isn't one of the meaning of aikido is the way of harmony? if you are out on the beach, the way to harmonize is to wear speedo thong and throw each other around in the waves. so if i take away all the clothes, then i would be a naked aikido man, with a pretty good looking rear end and shoulders, and would still do aikido, but naked aikido, if there is such a thing. however, i would draw the line at naked BJJ, unless my partner is as good looking as i am. :D

Jeez, Phi. This (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bigwhitehobbit/3592012336/lightbox/) what you have in mind?

(Click at your own risk. But it is classical art.)

Janet Rosen
08-20-2013, 11:06 PM
So...if Morihei Ueshiba trained outside in normal clothing, as he was known to quite often, it wouldn't have been Aikido?

Best,

Chris

It WAS at one time "normal clothing." It isn't anymore. It's funny: I love costumes, I sew a lot, and I tend to have different clothing for different things - at least for gardening and painting .... but somehow to me the keikogi is NOT intrinsic to the art. Whereas I DO think the bowing and other etiquette does add something to creating a mindset, I really don't think the clothes matter.

Janet Rosen
08-20-2013, 11:08 PM
Jeez, Phi. This (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bigwhitehobbit/3592012336/lightbox/) what you have in mind?

(Click at your own risk. But it is classical art.)

Um...is that what they call a friendly wrestling match?

Dave Gallagher
08-20-2013, 11:29 PM
Quote from Christopher Li
"So...if Morihei Ueshiba trained outside in normal clothing, as he was known to quite often, it wouldn't have been Aikido?".

....So he went out and they rolled in the dirt. I don't see a problem with that, but what is normal clothing for O Sensei? When they were outside did they do away with dojo protocol and Japanese culture?

ken king
08-20-2013, 11:43 PM
In my opinion the clothing doesn't matter so much as the attitude. I do however appreciate the lack of buttons, clasps, and rivets in the training uniform. Also, since they are white I can tell when someone forgot to wash their gi and avoid the stank :)

Chris Li
08-20-2013, 11:53 PM
Quote from Christopher Li
"So...if Morihei Ueshiba trained outside in normal clothing, as he was known to quite often, it wouldn't have been Aikido?".

....So he went out and they rolled in the dirt. I don't see a problem with that, but what is normal clothing for O Sensei? When they were outside did they do away with dojo protocol and Japanese culture?

Well, they wore street clothing (or whatever was for them) - not keikogi, was my point. No special clothes.

They were outside the dojo, and often practiced without dojo protocol, but they were still Japanese, of course.

Are you saying that it is necessary to pretend to be Japanese in order to do Aikido?

I've been in plenty of training sessions in informal circumstances with direct students of Morihei Ueshiba, without keikogi, dojo protocol or even Japanese etiquette/culture - is it your opinion that what they were doing was not Aikido?

I've asked a number of direct students of Morihei Ueshiba whether they thought that someone ought to be required to bow in order to train - none of them thought so, all of them were surprised that it would even be considered an issue.

What is it about Japanese customs (and Japanese customs will actually vary from place to place in Japan, so they are hardly monolithic) that makes them essential to Aikido?

I get that a lot of people enjoy pretending - look how popular civil-war reenactment is, but is it really necessary to any of the core goals of Aikido?

Best,

Chris

sakumeikan
08-21-2013, 01:04 AM
Jeez, Phi. This (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bigwhitehobbit/3592012336/lightbox/) what you have in mind?

(Click at your own risk. But it is classical art.)

Hugh,
Ouch, it looks painful, but fun. Joe.

Lorien Lowe
08-21-2013, 01:56 AM
I think that being In a different 'mode' on the mat helps me to treat my training as something special. Bowing to get on the mat, and then bowing to start practice, helps me to leave the trials and traviails of work/life/whatever behind, and concentrate on training. Bowing to the shomen feels like showing respect for the whole dojo, and there's not a handshake equivalent for that.

During flu season, I wish that I could bow rather than shaking hands all the time.

I probably don't bow the same way, and with the same mentality, as someone born and raised in Jajpan does, but it works for me anyway.

Chris Li
08-21-2013, 02:05 AM
I think that being In a different 'mode' on the mat helps me to treat my training as something special. Bowing to get on the mat, and then bowing to start practice, helps me to leave the trials and traviails of work/life/whatever behind, and concentrate on training. Bowing to the shomen feels like showing respect for the whole dojo, and there's not a handshake equivalent for that.

During flu season, I wish that I could bow rather than shaking hands all the time.

I probably don't bow the same way, and with the same mentality, as someone born and raised in Jajpan does, but it works for me anyway.

...is that different "mode" specifically tied to the act of bowing?

All cultures have customs that separate out various activities from each other.

The question is not whether or not some action of Japanese etiquette has a benefit or not, the question is whether that specific activity is necessary to the act of training in Aikido.

Let me say here that I have nothing against bowing, wearing funny clothes, or whatever - I do all of that on a regular basis (although there are plenty of times when I don't).

What I am saying is that there is no intrinsic requirement to perform those activities in order to be doing Aikido.

Best,

Chris

Gary David
08-21-2013, 08:15 AM
...is that different "mode" specifically tied to the act of bowing?

All cultures have customs that separate out various activities from each other.

The question is not whether or not some action of Japanese etiquette has a benefit or not, the question is whether that specific activity is necessary to the act of training in Aikido.

Let me say here that I have nothing against bowing, wearing funny clothes, or whatever - I do all of that on a regular basis (although there are plenty of times when I don't).

What I am saying is that there is no intrinsic requirement to perform those activities in order to be doing Aikido.

Best,

Chris

I am with Chris here.....if I am on the street and someone comes out of the dark at me with intent to do harm and I don't have time to bow or put on my funny clothes.......though I bring a peaceful conclusion to the situation after turning.....moving.....and applying what I learned in my 40 years of Aikido mat time......is that not Aikido?

Of course it is a given that some of the things I have learned over the years would also result in safe conclusions for me alone that some here might not consider Aikido.....but that doesn't change it for me.

Cliff Judge
08-21-2013, 08:26 AM
The clothes, manners, and rituals are key elements to Aikido as a culture and not a technology. Whether or not you believe Osensei cared about transmitting Aikido as a culture, I would still argue that these things are important for non-Japanese because we can't just take these elements for granted.

BJJ I believe uses competitions to foster a culture, but it is an emergent culture, a thing that comes about.

Dave Gallagher
08-21-2013, 08:54 AM
I don't know anyone who pretends to be Japanese. I do know that O Sensei wanted every student to wear hakama. There are stories about students who could not buy a training hakama so they borrowed expensive dress hakama from family members and ruined them in training. Was it not O Sensei who thought of the keikogi as underwear?

Keith Larman
08-21-2013, 09:34 AM
One part of my brain is screaming "run away you idiot!", but the philosophy geek just won't let me...

The problem here goes back, like many things, in to the definition of aikido. Obviously the OP feels that some of the traditions, rei, etc. are an integral part of what makes aikido "aikido". The problem is that since Aikido is a world-wide art studied by a diverse group and not some tightly knit, small koryu, the very definition of Aikido varies tremendously. So what I think of as Aikido can be quite different from someone else. Some see only fluffy aikibunny movements with collaborative partners exploring the energy of the universe. Others see a version of Daito Ryu with a certain type of power and distinctive body usage. Others see vestiges of culture and attitudes.

So for the OP the very definition they hold of Aikido seems to contain aspects like the rei, the uniforms, the traditions, etc. that were around/became part of/evolved from this thing that we do. So if you ask the question whether Aikido is still Aikido if you remove them, well, no, because your definition included them from the beginning. It becomes an obvious answer and for some the fact that anyone would disagree is almost inconceivable since it is basically a definition question.

So I really see no point in discussing it. Suffice to say some people train in sweats and t-shirts. Heck, on the other extreme I know a guy who for a long time would walk around his home and offices wearing geta. I was waiting for him to grow a top-knot, but his caucasian white-boy balding head wasn't giving him enough hair. He couldn't possibly have wanted to actually be Japanese more. And he was quite serious about all those things in his training much to the bewilderment of visiting Japanese sensei.

So carry on. I am perfectly happy with my internal definition of Aikido being different as I'm not as interested in some of the cultural artifacts. However, I bow when I enter any dojo. I sit and watch to see what the routine is and I gladly, happily and hopefully humbly try to do as they do.

More power to you all, even you silly fluffy aikibunnies...

PeterR
08-21-2013, 09:38 AM
All that means is that Ueshiba did not want to see underwear - we could wear pants and he would be happy. ;D

Its funny though when I first tried training in regular street clothes (in Japan) my Aikido felt far worse than it usually did. I never believed you needed to dress in a dogi to be doing aikido but perhaps deep down I was fooling myself.

Chris Li
08-21-2013, 10:24 AM
The clothes, manners, and rituals are key elements to Aikido as a culture and not a technology. Whether or not you believe Osensei cared about transmitting Aikido as a culture, I would still argue that these things are important for non-Japanese because we can't just take these elements for granted.

BJJ I believe uses competitions to foster a culture, but it is an emergent culture, a thing that comes about.

There's nothing wrong with studying the culture, I think that's important.

If I studied the culture of Rome (as many people do), I might try on a toga to experience what it's like (as many people also do). On the other hand, if I wore a toga on a daily basis while conducting my studies it would just be...odd, wouldn't it?

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
08-21-2013, 10:31 AM
There's nothing wrong with studying the culture, I think that's important.

If I studied the culture of Rome (as many people do), I might try on a toga to experience what it's like (as many people also do). On the other hand, if I wore a toga on a daily basis while conducting my studies it would just be...odd, wouldn't it?

Best,

Chris

Budo is not about "studying" a culture. It is about becoming a part of it. I don't think there is any other reason to study martial arts, in fact. If I wanted to get as deeply into the mindset of a Roman Senator as I could, you bet I would wear that toga around and I wouldn't give a fig whether people thought it was odd.

There are non-cultural systems which are purely self-defense oriented, purely combat oriented, purely competition oriented, purely health-oriented, purely delusional, and any combination you can imagine, which would better suit.

Chris Li
08-21-2013, 10:32 AM
I don't know anyone who pretends to be Japanese. I do know that O Sensei wanted every student to wear hakama. There are stories about students who could not buy a training hakama so they borrowed expensive dress hakama from family members and ruined them in training. Was it not O Sensei who thought of the keikogi as underwear?

Well, he talking to primarily Japanese students training in Japan. When I'm in Japan I generally bow and speak Japanese. When I'm in the US I generally speak English and shake hands. Isn't that the way that it usually is?

If someone's attending school in the US then I'd expect them to follow the normal customs of whatever US region they're studying in while they're here. I wouldn't expect them to go back to Japan and teach their students to shake hands with each other in order to study mathematics.

Best,

Chris

Dave Gallagher
08-21-2013, 10:43 AM
This is not to say that I have not trained outside in street clothers. I have. It can give a sense of what responding to an attack in real life could be like. When I was doing JKA Shotokan Karate, the JKA released a film of the practical application of the techniques. This was filmed outside in street clothes. I do however still believe in preserving tradition as it was handed down to me.
My original post was about the idea of removing the traditional aspects of Aikido or Japanese culture. If all these things were removed as the OP asked,would it still be Aikido? My feeling is, yes it can be depending on the person practicing it. If practiced as mere techniques it is not. One must practice with the same goal as the name Aikido infers.

jonreading
08-21-2013, 12:38 PM
Yes and yes. Yes, the instructional paradigm of aikido includes transmission from reiho. The etiquette happens to be Japanese and based upon a pre-modern Japan in many respects. Yes, aikido is still aikido without these alternative transmission devices. I think you can argue a need to replace those elements lost without the transmission device. I think you can argue aikido does not offer a complete education if it does not contain the elements. Of course if you argue this you need to consider the entirety of excluded curriculum as being damaging to aikido...

I think we should naturally strive towards a goal of expressing aiki in any surrounding, under any conditions. This is difficult enough, let alone placing constraints on what you wear or how you act...

I can appreciate the need for rei to help with all those lessons you learn by observation. I do not mean to discount their value and personally I belive that those lessons need learning. But I do not think removing them makes aikido less - it just places a creative burden on sensei to find a way to effectively teach those lessons.

I am glad that aikido was not developed in the US in the 90's. Can you imagine the balloon pants...? Please Hammer, don't hurt 'em.

HL1978
08-21-2013, 12:40 PM
So what exactly does the reiho teach? I don't think a lack of reiho means there is a lack of sincerity, or that you treat people poorly, or that you don't respect others.

On the other hand, are most checkout clerks sincerely happy that you shopped with them today, or do they say that because that is what is expected or required?

Rob Watson
08-21-2013, 12:52 PM
Maybe come from the other direction ... more japanese means better aikido? What ever "more" and "japanese" mean to you. Logically being untrue does not in turn make the opposite true. I guess that means nevermind.

Cliff Judge
08-21-2013, 02:12 PM
So what exactly does the reiho teach? I don't think a lack of reiho means there is a lack of sincerity, or that you treat people poorly, or that you don't respect others.

On the other hand, are most checkout clerks sincerely happy that you shopped with them today, or do they say that because that is what is expected or required?

I think reiho is actually crucial to a certain type of pedagogy where the student learns intuitively as opposed to analytically. This is probably more important than keeping calm and order in the dojo.

One thing I have noticed when engaged in kata-based training is that I will screw something up and then, rather than stopping, and fretting, analyzing, or asking for a do-over, I will simply proceed with the kata. I will complete the whole thing and move onto the next one if that is what I am supposed to do. I still analyze my mistake but that happens off-line, after the training session is over.

I can't tell you whether this is good or bad but I can say that training this way tends towards much higher mental intensity levels, and my offline analysis seems to lead to better insights than if I were to fudge around in the middle of practicing a technique.

It may be that reiho is not the only vehicle by which to inculcate this kind of training mentality but it seems to do it for me. It works to prevent people from standing around on the mat talking about training, and encourages them to train instead.

Chris Li
08-21-2013, 02:21 PM
Budo is not about "studying" a culture. It is about becoming a part of it. I don't think there is any other reason to study martial arts, in fact. If I wanted to get as deeply into the mindset of a Roman Senator as I could, you bet I would wear that toga around and I wouldn't give a fig whether people thought it was odd.

There are non-cultural systems which are purely self-defense oriented, purely combat oriented, purely competition oriented, purely health-oriented, purely delusional, and any combination you can imagine, which would better suit.

I think that there are much better ways to become a part of Japanese culture than just about any Aikido dojo I've ever seen in the United States. In my experience most people who try that come away with a somewhat delusional view of Japan and Japanese culture.

And what about Japanese people in Japan, are they still trying to become part of a Japanese culture?

If you're talking about "traditional" Japanese culture, then how did that work for Morihei Ueshiba, was he also trying to become part of some culture? If he wasn't - than what was he trying to do? Shouldn't that be where we're trying to go?

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
08-21-2013, 02:23 PM
I think reiho is actually crucial to a certain type of pedagogy where the student learns intuitively as opposed to analytically. This is probably more important than keeping calm and order in the dojo.

One thing I have noticed when engaged in kata-based training is that I will screw something up and then, rather than stopping, and fretting, analyzing, or asking for a do-over, I will simply proceed with the kata. I will complete the whole thing and move onto the next one if that is what I am supposed to do. I still analyze my mistake but that happens off-line, after the training session is over.

I can't tell you whether this is good or bad but I can say that training this way tends towards much higher mental intensity levels, and my offline analysis seems to lead to better insights than if I were to fudge around in the middle of practicing a technique.

It may be that reiho is not the only vehicle by which to inculcate this kind of training mentality but it seems to do it for me. It works to prevent people from standing around on the mat talking about training, and encourages them to train instead.

As I said, it's not whether or not reiho is useful - the question is whether that specific reiho is an absolute requirement.

Certainly, I don't see anything about the training example above that is exclusive to Japanese culture or etiquette.

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
08-21-2013, 02:46 PM
I think that there are much better ways to become a part of Japanese culture than just about any Aikido dojo I've ever seen in the United States. In my experience most people who try that come away with a somewhat delusional view of Japan and Japanese culture.

And what about Japanese people in Japan, are they still trying to become part of a Japanese culture?

If you're talking about "traditional" Japanese culture, then how did that work for Morihei Ueshiba, was he also trying to become part of some culture? If he wasn't - than what was he trying to do? Shouldn't that be where we're trying to go?

Best,

Chris

I am not talking about general Japanese culture...sorry, I thought you got that with your reference to togas. People didn't walk around ancient Rome wearing those.

Cliff Judge
08-21-2013, 02:50 PM
As I said, it's not whether or not reiho is useful - the question is whether that specific reiho is an absolute requirement.

Awesome, this comment wasn't directed towards you anyway. Is your name Hunter? :p


Certainly, I don't see anything about the training example above that is exclusive to Japanese culture or etiquette.

I am glad you agree with the part of my post you quoted where i said i don't think this is the only way to have this type of training experience.

Chris Li
08-21-2013, 02:56 PM
Awesome, this comment wasn't directed towards you anyway. Is your name Hunter? :p


I'm sorry, was this a private conversation? :confused:


I am glad you agree with the part of my post you quoted where i said i don't think this is the only way to have this type of training experience.

Sure, my point is that a couple of people have started talking about the general benefits of certain practices, but I don't think that it's really relevant to the question of the OP.

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
08-21-2013, 03:42 PM
I'm sorry, was this a private conversation? :confused:

You were all "AS I SAID" as though it was only you and I talking. So I was like, "Excuse me is your name Hunter?" :D


Sure, my point is that a couple of people have started talking about the general benefits of certain practices, but I don't think that it's really relevant to the question of the OP.


Is it that these practices are not inside the logical container described as "japanese clothes, etiquette, and other things?" Because if they are, and they have some benefits which can be discussed, then I believe it is quite relevant to the OP's question.

Chris Li
08-21-2013, 04:00 PM
You were all "AS I SAID" as though it was only you and I talking. So I was like, "Excuse me is your name Hunter?" :D

Well, that was because I mentioned the same point earlier in the thread...


Is it that these practices are not inside the logical container described as "japanese clothes, etiquette, and other things?" Because if they are, and they have some benefits which can be discussed, then I believe it is quite relevant to the OP's question.

I don't think he's really discussing the benefits so much as he's arguing that certain specific practices are essential and cannot be omitted. Conflating benefits with that confuses the issue because it's possible to get the very same benefits with very different clothing, etiquette and whatever.

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
08-21-2013, 04:38 PM
Is it that these practices are not inside the logical container described as "japanese clothes, etiquette, and other things?" Because if they are, and they have some benefits which can be discussed, then I believe it is quite relevant to the OP's question.

I don't think he's really discussing the benefits so much as he's arguing that certain specific practices are essential and cannot be omitted. Conflating benefits with that confuses the issue because it's possible to get the very same benefits with very different clothing, etiquette and whatever.

That's fine but it is natural to look at the benefits a practice provides when examining why it has been maintained within a system of cultural transmission, because you assume some process of evolution would have eroded it otherwise. There are something like eight completely different types of eyeball in the animal kingdom but that doesn't nullify the argument (Darwinian or Lamarckian) that we Humans have eyes because they allow us to see.

Peter Boylan
08-21-2013, 06:18 PM
So it looks like for most people the clothing isn't terribly important, but the etiquette is very important. Actions over appearance.

This is pretty much a discussion that can only be had with gendai arts like Aikido. The koryu arts are pretty clear about how much change is acceptable (not much. You either adapt yourself to the system or go do something else).

I will note that as far as I'm concerned, modern IJF Judo is almost a completely different animal from the Kodokan Judo from which it was born. They still use the cloths and the formal etiquette and the Japanese terms, but the spirit of practice has been transformed. The complete focus on competition and making everything spectator and TV friendly has created a completely different beast with a totally different soul.

Chris Li
08-21-2013, 06:21 PM
This is pretty much a discussion that can only be had with gendai arts like Aikido. The koryu arts are pretty clear about how much change is acceptable (not much. You either adapt yourself to the system or go do something else).

That will change if the balance ever shifts, as it already has in Aikido, away from Japan (yes, I know that may involve splits - but those are common in Japan, too).

Best,

Chris

Peter Boylan
08-21-2013, 07:35 PM
Actually Chris, I doubt if that sort of change will have much impact on koryu. I'm not saying they won't continue to evolve and grow, they will. They are living arts rather than fossils.

First though, the koryu don't change to adapt to students. Students change to adapt to the koryu, or they leave. So there is no push here for them.

I don't know of any koryu that is trying to become widespread and attempting to garner large number of students. The fastest growing koryu are some of the iaido ryu and Shinto Muso Ryu. None of them are bent on becoming hugely famous. They grow organically, and sometimes they even inhibit growth because they do not support the idea that if you are the only student in an area then you should teach. They are usually pretty tough about waiting to teach until you're really ready for the role.

Second, learning is always with a senior uke. You don't train with a junior.uke, whether it is jujutsu, kenjutsu or something else. This means rising students don't have a chance to try changing things until they are well and truly embedded in the system.

As koryu become more available, they still aren't becoming common. When someone can open a dojo, they often do, but the dojo stay small. Because of their insistence upon students changing to suit the ryuha rather than the other way around, they don't attract a lot of students. There is no commercial push to make the ryuha popular by changing it (unlike the guys at the IJF and judo).

Most of the koryu absolutely require wearing a hakama for at least part of their training. This isn't a ritual or cultural requirement, but a technological one. You really need all the cords and obi of a hakama to properly wear a katana for iaido practice. I've tried it with a number different set-ups on occasions when I didn't want to bother changing or a hakama wasn't available. It just doesn't work.

And then, koryu are all about maintaining the traditions. I think the community would be exceptionally clear in letting anyone who tried to jettison the traditions that whatever they might be doing, it isn't iaido or kenjutsu or whatever. The gekkiken guys and the chambarra folks have had to develop their own outfits and systems because everyone has been quite clear that they aren't doing kenjutsu or kendo.

Unlike Aikido, the koryu tend to have exceptionally strong organizations. They may have splits, but there are always guys at the top where the buck stops. There isn't room in the koryu for the kind of innovation we're talking about here.

Chris Li
08-21-2013, 07:49 PM
Actually Chris, I doubt if that sort of change will have much impact on koryu. I'm not saying they won't continue to evolve and grow, they will. They are living arts rather than fossils.

First though, the koryu don't change to adapt to students. Students change to adapt to the koryu, or they leave. So there is no push here for them.

People leave - that's how things change, that's how it's always been - even in Aikido. I agree though, that with the limited number in most koryu means that change is usually quite slow.

Best,

Chris

Devon Smith
08-21-2013, 08:08 PM
No Japanese martial art techniques happening here...move along, move along.

http://home.comcast.net/~shinzan/Img00004.JPG

The topic made me remember this photo taken near Tokyo in the late '60's. I thought I'd share just for the irony. Western clothing, Roman alphabet. The cover doesn't make the book, so it would seem.

Devon

Cady Goldfield
08-21-2013, 09:02 PM
It's the Hakkoryu-Mobile!! :D
But it looks like a Japanese car, not an import...

Devon Smith
08-21-2013, 10:02 PM
It's the Hakkoryu-Mobile!! :D

It is!

And to make the whole scene even less Japanese, the fellow defending himself against the car jacking aggressor is the son of Hakkoryu's founder.

We're hosting Nidai Soke Okuyama next year in Michigan. I'm planning to tease him about this photo, then take him to the golf course in my '67 Buick (which does not have a Hakkoryu logo on the door, thank you very much). You're welcome to join us...golf, Buick ride etc. I won't be playing golf though because I'll be damaged goods after the week of training beforehand. I'll be ok at driving the cart and assuming the role of caddy.

Devon.

ChrisMikk
08-22-2013, 07:00 AM
No Japanese martial art techniques happening here...move along, move along.

http://home.comcast.net/~shinzan/Img00004.JPG

The topic made me remember this photo taken near Tokyo in the late '60's. I thought I'd share just for the irony. Western clothing, Roman alphabet. The cover doesn't make the book, so it would seem.

Devon

Mao tried to do away with the Chinese characters and adopt the Roman alphabet (that's the origin of Pinyin, I believe). I know the Japanese have discussed in the past adopting English as an official second language in Japan. Maybe they considered getting rid of the Chinese characters and kana as well.

ChrisMikk
08-22-2013, 07:25 AM
And what about Japanese people in Japan, are they still trying to become part of a Japanese culture?

The short answer to this question is "yes".

Obviously, in some sense Japanese people define what is Japanese culture. However, it is also true that, today, all cultures are disappearing into a monolithic modernity, and, from that perspective, there are many Japanese people who perceive "Japanese culture" as something antiquated and slightly foreign that requires study to understand.

For example, based on my experience here in Kyoto, I have no doubt that Japanese people do not see keikogi as simply training clothes. When they do training in non-budo of any kind, they wear western athletic wear indistinguishable from that seen in the US. Keikogi is for Japanese activities.

Most of the Japanese people I have met in my dojo here are essentially the same types of people you would find in dojos in the US. I have never been to a US dojo where there is a corporate ladder-climber, for example, and I haven't seen one in a dojo here in Kyoto, either.

As someone else has noted, the answer to the original question depends a lot on what you mean by aikido. If you think aikido is just a self-defense system or is a truly spiritual undertaking, then obviously the cultural trappings are not essential. However, I don't think most people fall into either of these two categories.

As for me, I probably wouldn't study aikido if it were done in street clothes and without etiquette. Many elements of the world outside the dojo are not to my liking, so I see studying any budo as a sort of... what?... meditation? I can turn off certain parts of my brain in the dojo that I couldn't if we were all wearing shorts and t-shirts with corporate logos or identity slogans.

This makes it sound like I have a social problem of some kind, but I don't think so. I don't get huffy over corporate advertising, it just isn't natural to me. Although the keikogi and etiquette probably seemed artificial, superficial, or forced to most people, I find they make the training experience more natural and visceral.

Cliff Judge
08-22-2013, 09:15 AM
Mao tried to do away with the Chinese characters and adopt the Roman alphabet (that's the origin of Pinyin, I believe). I know the Japanese have discussed in the past adopting English as an official second language in Japan. Maybe they considered getting rid of the Chinese characters and kana as well.

When it comes to putting writing on cars, they tend to use romanji instead of kana or kanji.

Cliff Judge
08-22-2013, 09:32 AM
Actually Chris, I doubt if that sort of change will have much impact on koryu. I'm not saying they won't continue to evolve and grow, they will. They are living arts rather than fossils.

First though, the koryu don't change to adapt to students. Students change to adapt to the koryu, or they leave. So there is no push here for them.

I don't know of any koryu that is trying to become widespread and attempting to garner large number of students. The fastest growing koryu are some of the iaido ryu and Shinto Muso Ryu. None of them are bent on becoming hugely famous. They grow organically, and sometimes they even inhibit growth because they do not support the idea that if you are the only student in an area then you should teach. They are usually pretty tough about waiting to teach until you're really ready for the role.

Second, learning is always with a senior uke. You don't train with a junior.uke, whether it is jujutsu, kenjutsu or something else. This means rising students don't have a chance to try changing things until they are well and truly embedded in the system.

As koryu become more available, they still aren't becoming common. When someone can open a dojo, they often do, but the dojo stay small. Because of their insistence upon students changing to suit the ryuha rather than the other way around, they don't attract a lot of students. There is no commercial push to make the ryuha popular by changing it (unlike the guys at the IJF and judo).

Most of the koryu absolutely require wearing a hakama for at least part of their training. This isn't a ritual or cultural requirement, but a technological one. You really need all the cords and obi of a hakama to properly wear a katana for iaido practice. I've tried it with a number different set-ups on occasions when I didn't want to bother changing or a hakama wasn't available. It just doesn't work.

And then, koryu are all about maintaining the traditions. I think the community would be exceptionally clear in letting anyone who tried to jettison the traditions that whatever they might be doing, it isn't iaido or kenjutsu or whatever. The gekkiken guys and the chambarra folks have had to develop their own outfits and systems because everyone has been quite clear that they aren't doing kenjutsu or kendo.

Unlike Aikido, the koryu tend to have exceptionally strong organizations. They may have splits, but there are always guys at the top where the buck stops. There isn't room in the koryu for the kind of innovation we're talking about here.

There aren't really koryu organizations - well, I suppose there are, Kashima Shinryu has a federation - what really happens is, usually everybody is a direct student of the teacher. It isn't like here is your instructor for the evening, and a couple times a year you go to a seminar with one of the big guys and he throws your instructors around. For the most part. So when the head guy dies, the dojo often splinters because suddenly many of these people who have trained with each other for years (decades) can't get comfortable under the new guy if there is one. That's the opposite of a strong organization.

The basic deal with koryu is that they are based on ideals that were defined in a bygone era, and they could not be defined in modern times. So there is no question of whether there is a better way to do something. You maintain the tradition because the tradition is the art itself.

Aikido could be like this, but we can't even agree on what it is. If you find a teacher or an organization you like and stick to that, you are probably on the best track, but you have to stop looking around to see if somebody else is doing something cooler or more magical.

Chris Li
08-22-2013, 10:13 AM
The short answer to this question is "yes".

Obviously, in some sense Japanese people define what is Japanese culture. However, it is also true that, today, all cultures are disappearing into a monolithic modernity, and, from that perspective, there are many Japanese people who perceive "Japanese culture" as something antiquated and slightly foreign that requires study to understand.

For example, based on my experience here in Kyoto, I have no doubt that Japanese people do not see keikogi as simply training clothes. When they do training in non-budo of any kind, they wear western athletic wear indistinguishable from that seen in the US. Keikogi is for Japanese activities.

Japanese people tend to be picky about what's acceptable - for example, people playing golf or tennis both have acceptable "uniforms" as well.

I'd note that the keikogi is a created tradition - not something that belongs to traditional budo, but something that was created by Jigoro Kano. It was created as...training clothes.

So..if Budo can't be practiced without keikogi, what did all those Budo guys before Kano do?


As for me, I probably wouldn't study aikido if it were done in street clothes and without etiquette. Many elements of the world outside the dojo are not to my liking, so I see studying any budo as a sort of... what?... meditation? I can turn off certain parts of my brain in the dojo that I couldn't if we were all wearing shorts and t-shirts with corporate logos or identity slogans.

That's your preference of course, but that doesn't mean that that it's impossible, we do it around here quite often. Once again, if Morihei Ueshiba taught outside without keikogi or etiquette (as he was known to do on many occassions), would it still be Aikido?

Best,

Chris

Cady Goldfield
08-22-2013, 10:19 AM
I wish I could find the hilarious piece that (I think) Jim Baker wrote, years ago, comparing dressing up and playing "cowboys" in Japan, to dressing up and playing "aikido" in the West.

Janet Rosen
08-22-2013, 10:41 AM
I wish I could find the hilarious piece that (I think) Jim Baker wrote, years ago, comparing dressing up and playing "cowboys" in Japan, to dressing up and playing "aikido" in the West.

Dang, not on the aikidofaq. :(

Cady Goldfield
08-22-2013, 10:44 AM
Shoot. I thought he originally put it on Aikido-L back in the day. I know it's online somewhere, prolly archived.

Peter Boylan
08-22-2013, 11:09 AM
Chris,
I think there is a focus here on the fact that sometimes we train without all the fancy clothes. I'm trying to look at the overall practice, not the occasional times when we do something unusual. What is the baseline? That's dressed in funny clothes. We can train without them, but the overwhelming majority of the time we wear the uniform.

I chuckled when you mentioned Kano Shihan and keikogi. In the circles I run around in in Japan, keikogi means the nice, traditional indigo uwagi worn for kendo, kenjutsu and related stuff. The thing Kano Shihan created is usually referred to particularly as a judogi. It may be because I spend so much time in the koryu world and so little time in gendai budo circles these days.

I do find it interesting that the group consensus falls on the side of etiquette and non-physical cultural aspects are necessary, but the particular clothing is not.

Chris Li
08-22-2013, 11:29 AM
I do find it interesting that the group consensus falls on the side of etiquette and non-physical cultural aspects are necessary, but the particular clothing is not.

Once you get to the question of whether a specific etiquette is required then I think that things get much cloudier.

The etiquette in Iwama is different than than in Tokyo, in many places I've trained in Japan there's barely any reiho at all. If we're requiring a specific type of reiho then one could make the argument that there's only one "correct" reiho.

I think that trying to make the argument that a specific reiho is required is going to be very difficult - and then you get to the point of where the crossover is.

A number of the direct students of Morihei Ueshiba told me flatly that it wasn't important if people didn't want to bow, for example. I know that there are some dojo where the entire practice of bowing has been eliminated - is what they're doing no longer Aikido?

I think that if you ask people "should etiquette be required?", then most will say yes. Once you get into the details I think that most will say "no".

Best,

Chris

Janet Rosen
08-22-2013, 11:47 AM
Once you get to the question of whether a specific etiquette is required then I think that things get much cloudier.....
I think that if you ask people "should etiquette be required?", then most will say yes. Once you get into the details I think that most will say "no".


I tend to agree, and I think this has to do with the human desire/need/preference for some kind of ritual, however brief, to separate disparate activities.
If I dash into the studio or out to the garden for just a two minute task, I don't bother; however, if I am planning on settling into either for a period of focused work, then there is a period of tidying up, preparing tools, etc that may or may not be 100% "necessary" but helps me prepare. Similarly when doing major cooking or arriving at the office.
I think much of what falls under the rubric of etiquette in the aikido dojo is simply THAT dojo's specific ritual norms that help separate being in the dojo from other activities and therefore aid in focus (as well as, being communal rather than individual, team-building).

OwlMatt
08-22-2013, 12:03 PM
BJJ is not a budo. It's just a series of techniques. It has no spiritual content. I am of the opinion that in Japanese arts everything has meaning and tradition. This includes the clothing and the protocol in the dojo. If you remove those things you might just as well go outside and roll in the dirt. Just my opinion.

First of all, both aikido and BJJ are as "spiritual" as the practitioner chooses to make them. It is entirely possible to practice BJJ spiritually, and entirely possible to practice aikido nonspiritually.

In terms of the specific traditional trappings of aikido, I have two stories that I think are very relevant to this thread:

1.
Ikeda Shihan visits my old club every year for a seminar. One year, his luggage did not arrive with him, and he therefore had no uniform for the Friday night class. Many students and instructors were falling over themselves to offer him their gis and hakamas, but he waved them all off politely and led the class in jeans and a tee shirt. I can assure you all that his aikido was just as real that night as any other night.

2.
Aikidoists from all over the Milwaukee area get together in the summer to train with weapons out in the park. There are no gis or hakamas, there is no sitting in seiza, and there is no kamiza to bow to, and our aikido is none the worse for it.

The more I train, the more I come to think of the uniform, the bowing, the etiquette, the kamiza, etc. as non-essential. I am happy to have them, and I am not suggesting we get rid of them, but I think it's dangerous to start imbuing trappings with some kind of pseudo-religious importance. The real essence of aikido, I think, is not in what we say or wear.

Edgecrusher
08-22-2013, 12:27 PM
I think sometimes it is important to train in your everyday clothes. If a situation escalated in a real life scenario would you be wearing a Gi? Aikido is Aikido no matter how you approach it. If you are granted permission to train in plain clothes, then etiquette will have to be there, along with everything else.

OwlMatt
08-22-2013, 12:34 PM
I wish I could find the hilarious piece that (I think) Jim Baker wrote, years ago, comparing dressing up and playing "cowboys" in Japan, to dressing up and playing "aikido" in the West.

http://www.aikiweb.com/humor/baker1.html

Imagine you're walking in a backwoods area of Japan.
There's a small college nearby and the gymnasium is right ahead. You hear strange noises and sneak in to investigate. You go up a stairway to what must be the Alumni booth overlooking the gym floor.

Down below there are dozens of Japanese men and women dressed up in costumes from America's Wild West of the 1800's. Some have ten-gallon hats; others have big fuzzy chaps; all are wearing holsters with wooden guns. They've paired off with "pardners" and stand 2.5 meters apart. The one on the left, called "varmint", says the traditional phrase, "This town has not sufficient size to contain two of us. You must depart." The person on the right, the "Good Guy", responds, "Reach for your shooting irons, you unclean rodent!" They both draw their wooden guns and yell, "Bang!", and the "varmint" falls to the ground; the "Good Guy" blows on the barrel of his wooden gun.

This is repeated four times. The "pardners" then switch sides. This goes on until the "Sheriff" stops class to demonstrate a new "draw."

Do these people seem silly? Would you laugh at them?

Cliff Judge
08-22-2013, 01:19 PM
but I think it's dangerous to start imbuing trappings with some kind of pseudo-religious importance.

That strikes me as funny because budo (and pre-budo bujutsu!) is inherently pseudo-religious. :)

Keith Larman
08-22-2013, 01:29 PM
Matthew beat me to it, I keep a copy of that on my computer just so I can repost it occasionally when discussions go this direction...

I know people who are dead nuts serious about their aikido training. But for some of these people it often strikes me that the focus is balanced on a shaky foundation in the first place. Some are just enamored with some Hollywood movie version of the inscrutable, mystical eastern philosophy. Hell, I know guys who I'm pretty sure are in reality more motivated in their focus on asian arts as a result of David Carradine's slow motion and often painful acting in Kung Fu than a result of anything more "real" or concrete.

The mistake, IMHO, is to try to compare this with koryu. It never really seemed to be anything like my understanding of koryu, even from the early history of whatever the hell it was we want to call what O-sensei was doing. Heck, Takeda himself was travelling about, teaching some this, teaching others that, charging by the lesson, and was generally an unpleasant man. And then with Ueshiba M, people came from all over the feel and train with this guy because he was doing stuff they couldn't quite understand but knew they wanted to be able to do. But it never seemed O-sensei was trying to transmit a curriculum of techniques, history, etc. as you see in most koryu. It was more O-sensei was teaching some sorts of body skills that he seemed to feel were intertwined with a series of spiritual ideas that he used to help organize them.

Later on with Morihei's son, Tohei, and the various other early deshi who went their own ways we see their take on what Ueshiba was doing but often then systematized in different forms with different focuses, mostly along the lines of the predispositions and abilities of the deshi themselves. Now each of those developed (or maybe better adopted) more formal traditions as they became systems on their own. Each with varied balances of ideas in areas such as reiho, underlying spirituality, etc. I've been in settings where they just practice. Others with bowing. Others with bowing and a variety of what are essentially adopted Shinto ritualistic practices, etc.

So this all goes back to my original post of saying it really depends on what you mean by "Aikido". To me it's like saying a Jeep isn't really a car because it's not as relaxing and comfortable as driving a Lexus on a day long drive on the interstate. Or that the Lexus isn't *really* a car because it can't 4-wheel-drive on the dirt back roads of Montana. Nah, they're both cars. Just different.

Me, I'm trying to figure out what the original old guy was doing. I come from a lineage that separated from Tohei, so the emphasis is there. And we have judogi, hakama, etc. But we don't line up according to rank nor do we clap 2 times after 2 bows. Just a bow to the shomen then a bow to the instructor. Some on the end. But would it be the same aikido as we practice it to remove the etiquette, etc.? Well, no, not really the same, but I would argue it is still aikido in some sense or another. But one could make the same argument about every single one of you reading this. Your aikido isn't the same as mine because, well, it's different on any number of levels. But I'd say on a higher level it is all still Aikido, at least in some sense of the word.

Whether the differences become important, then, depends on those differences and whether those differences are important to you.

A friend of mine was talking with Ono Yoshimitsu, one of the greatest living swordsmiths in Japan. His Yamatorige fully polished fetch over $60K and you've got years to wait. He was laughing about how a British Documentary team was doing a film on him and his work. He found it funny that they had him move his large power hammer out of his workshop. They wanted it out of view so they could film how he *really* makes swords, you know, the "traditional" way.

So I suppose my response to most of this is... Whatever. Seems like much of it is really a bunch of argument on semantics and reflects more about what people want to believe and what people choose to believe rather than any sort of certain truth about reality. Aikido is a fuzzy area trained in by a whole lot of people. Some folk are way out in the fringes doing either really amazing things or completely silly crap depending on your point of view. Is it all Aikido? Kinda. Sorta. Yes and no.

OwlMatt
08-22-2013, 02:51 PM
That strikes me as funny because budo (and pre-budo bujutsu!) is inherently pseudo-religious. :)
Even if you think budo is inherently religious/spiritual (that's an argument for another thread, I think) it's important to distinguish what is and is not budo. White uniforms, colored belts, bowing, seiza, the kamiza, Japanese phrases, even the dojo itself: to me, these things are not budo. They are the trappings that usually go along with budo, but I think budo would still be budo without them.

Kevin Leavitt
08-22-2013, 03:44 PM
Matthew and Keith. Great post. and great topic Peter!

FWIW, I know plenty of soldiers in the Army that wear a uniform everyday, but I would not consider them warriors. It isn't the clothes that makes the man, it's what is inside the man and what he is willing and prepared to do that makes him a warrior or a budoka.

Kevin Leavitt
08-22-2013, 04:05 PM
So it looks like for most people the clothing isn't terribly important, but the etiquette is very important. Actions over appearance.

This is pretty much a discussion that can only be had with gendai arts like Aikido. The koryu arts are pretty clear about how much change is acceptable (not much. You either adapt yourself to the system or go do something else).

I will note that as far as I'm concerned, modern IJF Judo is almost a completely different animal from the Kodokan Judo from which it was born. They still use the cloths and the formal etiquette and the Japanese terms, but the spirit of practice has been transformed. The complete focus on competition and making everything spectator and TV friendly has created a completely different beast with a totally different soul.

I don't think it is easy to say clothes are or are not important. My answer is "it depends". Spending my time in BJJ these days I have seen many variations of teaching styles. I have been to gyms that pump up there students with Angry White Boy music and others that play very relaxing euro beat music. Most don't play music at all. Some will bow in and out, some will not. Some only allow white gis, others you can wear a pink one with patches! However, the quality of the jiu jitsu tends to be decent regardless...so you might surmise that "it doesn't matter".

However, I'd argue that it does matter in some respect. I might play relaxing euro beat music and dim the lights and try and create an ambiance that relaxes the students and gets them to flow. Other times I might cut off the AC, play loud music and increase the stress.

It all depends on the students and teaching style of the teacher and how he uses the environment to connect and reach his students.

Customs and courtesies must be important as we have them in the military. They matter for what they are, but they are NOT everything. They help encourage "good order and discipline" for the masses, establish an identity, and create brotherhood and affinity. Outside of that, I don't think it matters much.

So, is it still aikido without all this. I think so. I think you most certainly can call your art Aikido if you are following the tenants of your methodology and are working successfully to achieve your end states.

Alas, "what is aikido?" "how do we know it when we see it". of course, we spend a great deal of time defining what this means as it is an elusive art that seems to escape the ability to objectify measurements of effectiveness!

I think sometimes putting on the hakama is a good thing. but it can also be a hinderance, just as a black belt can be a hinderance if we start believing the myth of our belt!

Cliff Judge
08-22-2013, 04:05 PM
Even if you think budo is inherently religious/spiritual (that's an argument for another thread, I think) it's important to distinguish what is and is not budo. White uniforms, colored belts, bowing, seiza, the kamiza, Japanese phrases, even the dojo itself: to me, these things are not budo. They are the trappings that usually go along with budo, but I think budo would still be budo without them.

You misquoted me quoting you! I distinctly said "pseudo-religious." :p

Budo is a process meant to change and strengthen a practitioner along the lines of character, spirit, mental endurance, etc. It has to be a process that you submit to. You don't get to choose what it is. That would be like a military boot camp where recruits were allowed to choose how many hours of sleep they would like each day and what activities they chose to sign up for.

Of course modern military training is not pseudo-religious, but of course it is not based on principals laid out in Chinese classics either.

OwlMatt
08-22-2013, 04:15 PM
You misquoted me quoting you! I distinctly said "pseudo-religious." :p

Budo is a process meant to change and strengthen a practitioner along the lines of character, spirit, mental endurance, etc. It has to be a process that you submit to. You don't get to choose what it is. That would be like a military boot camp where recruits were allowed to choose how many hours of sleep they would like each day and what activities they chose to sign up for.

Of course modern military training is not pseudo-religious, but of course it is not based on principals laid out in Chinese classics either.

Could you explain further what this means in reference to the post of mine that you are quoting? I'm not sure I'm following you.

Cliff Judge
08-22-2013, 04:36 PM
Could you explain further what this means in reference to the post of mine that you are quoting? I'm not sure I'm following you.

You seemed to be disregarding clothing and some other elements as trappings, and warning against imbuing them with psuedo-religious meaning.

This strikes me as funny because the entire traditional training process is a great example of a thing that is pseudo-religious....it is the product of thinking that is steeped in religious thought. The Japanese junction of Neo-Confucianism, Taoism, and esoteric Buddhism and Shintoism, to be precise (or not since it is quite a melange).

Even if you disregard the traditions established by Ueshiba's son and senior students, and don't understand or don't care about the link between what he was doing and how martial arts were transmitted classically, the link between Ueshiba's practice and the Chinese classics is something that a lot of people around here are currently pretty excited by.

Cady Goldfield
08-22-2013, 04:55 PM
Matthew,
You are THE MAN!! :)
Thanks for digging that out of cold storage. And it was right here under our noses on AikiWeb.
I guess more than a few people thought of that old post when, as Keith Larman put it, discussions go in "this direction."

http://www.aikiweb.com/humor/baker1.html

OwlMatt
08-23-2013, 11:05 AM
You seemed to be disregarding clothing and some other elements as trappings, and warning against imbuing them with psuedo-religious meaning.
Quick point of order: what I warned against was imbuing them with pseudo-religious importance. Of course these things have meaning. If they didn't have meaning they wouldn't still be around. I wasn't calling these things meaningless; I was suggesting they are not vitally important to the question of what is and is not aikido.

This strikes me as funny because the entire traditional training process is a great example of a thing that is pseudo-religious....it is the product of thinking that is steeped in religious thought. The Japanese junction of Neo-Confucianism, Taoism, and esoteric Buddhism and Shintoism, to be precise (or not since it is quite a melange).

Even if you disregard the traditions established by Ueshiba's son and senior students, and don't understand or don't care about the link between what he was doing and how martial arts were transmitted classically, the link between Ueshiba's practice and the Chinese classics is something that a lot of people around here are currently pretty excited by.

And there is no reason they shouldn't be excited by it.

But is the "thinking steeped in religious thought" you're talking about really contained in what we wear and how many times we bow? And what's more, can't someone who has no knowledge of or interest in Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and Shinto still practice real aikido?

OwlMatt
08-23-2013, 11:08 AM
Matthew,
You are THE MAN!! :)
Thanks for digging that out of cold storage. And it was right here under our noses on AikiWeb.
I guess more than a few people thought of that old post when, as Keith Larman put it, discussions go in "this direction."

I have Dave Whiteland (of Fudebakudo fame) to thank for that. He e-mailed that to me after reading one of my blog posts, so I had it sitting in my inbox.

KEM
08-23-2013, 11:17 PM
Newcomers ask 'do I have to buy a 'uniform.' In our dojo the answer is 'no.' We find that over time people choose to. I responded to a new inquiry with "we don't obsess over finery or nit-pick over obscure rules. It is obvious when someone is being disrespectful, not matter if they are well dressed and following the letter of the rules. Just come Play Aikido and over time you will learn the details through experience and observation."

OwlMatt
08-24-2013, 12:39 AM
Newcomers ask 'do I have to buy a 'uniform.' In our dojo the answer is 'no.' We find that over time people choose to. I responded to a new inquiry with "we don't obsess over finery or nit-pick over obscure rules. It is obvious when someone is being disrespectful, not matter if they are well dressed and following the letter of the rules. Just come Play Aikido and over time you will learn the details through experience and observation."

I think the gi is a pretty sensible garment for aikido practice, personally. You need something that is going to protect you from the mat and is going to give your training partners something to grab onto. The gi works really well for this; I've certainly never seen anyone come up with anything that works better. What's more, although I don't think this something essential to or definitive of aikido, I think there is some merit to the argument that our purpose in the dojo is to be part of a group rather than to declare our individuality, and that therefore we ought to dress accordingly. For these reasons, I don't have an issue with clubs that make their students wear gis; I think there is more to gis than just tradition for tradition's sake.

lars beyer
08-24-2013, 08:33 AM
If it ain┤t broke don┤t fix it !:rolleyes:
Lars

Mary Eastland
08-24-2013, 08:47 AM
I don't look at my Hakama as Japanese clothes. I wear it when I practice Aikido in the dojo. When I practice Aikido out of the dojo I don't wear it.

In response to Baker's anecdote. I would not laugh at them..I would hope they were having fun.

Carl Thompson
08-24-2013, 08:07 PM
As I learned it, the etiquette is a form of martial awase (blending), or more specifically, musubi (connection) to your training partners and environment. If the partners or environment change, the outer forms change too (e.g.: in your school or workplace), but the principle of connecting and always being in the right place, physically and mentally, seemed to be pretty important to Morihei Ueshiba. A lot of the forms the founder used, particularly in the handling of weapons, have clear martial meaning and even the more ügculturalüh practices (offering your head for decapitation as a sign of trust etc) have a martial theme to them. So while I agree that you can take away the uniform and polite language, I think what they represent is part of the training in Ueshibaüfs aikido at least and something that we can adapt and put into practice in daily life.

Regards

Carl

chillzATL
08-25-2013, 09:35 AM
Aikido is a fuzzy area trained in by a whole lot of people. Some folk are way out in the fringes doing either really amazing things or completely silly crap depending on your point of view. Is it all Aikido? Kinda. Sorta. Yes and no.

Brilliant!

Carsten M÷llering
08-26-2013, 04:14 AM
rei matters.

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/q74/s720x720/1234984_591066574269427_423320657_n.jpg

Cliff Judge
08-26-2013, 08:46 AM
Quick point of order: what I warned against was imbuing them with pseudo-religious importance. Of course these things have meaning. If they didn't have meaning they wouldn't still be around. I wasn't calling these things meaningless; I was suggesting they are not vitally important to the question of what is and is not aikido.

But is the "thinking steeped in religious thought" you're talking about really contained in what we wear and how many times we bow? And what's more, can't someone who has no knowledge of or interest in Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and Shinto still practice real aikido?

Aikido is a product of a martial culture which is a subset of an educational tradition where a student's interest in or knowledge of what they are actually doing is of little importance. Students are like seeds, the instruction and practice are like water and sunlight, and etiquette, dojo cleaning rituals, training attire, and the like are the soil.

ChrisMikk
08-26-2013, 10:35 AM
Japanese people tend to be picky about what's acceptable - for example, people playing golf or tennis both have acceptable "uniforms" as well.

I'd note that the keikogi is a created tradition - not something that belongs to traditional budo, but something that was created by Jigoro Kano. It was created as...training clothes.

Yes, I am aware of the history of keikogi from Inoue's article in Mirror of Modernity (http://www.amazon.com/Mirror-Modernity-Traditions-Twentieth-Emergence/dp/0520206371/), as I suspect are you. However, I think you miss the point of this article as it relates to modern Japan. Kano did not create special "budo" clothes, there was simply no training-wear at the time. If the Japanese thought of the keikogi as simply training clothes, they would have replaced it, just as they have replaced kimonos with tuxs and white wedding dresses as the "uniforms" for weddings. No, the Japanese connect the keikogi with budo because of its Japanese-ness, not because it is simply the right uniform when you go to aikido.

I agree that Ueshiba wore "regular" clothes for training, so what is my point?

As I said previously, if you think aikido is either (A) a purely physical and results-oriented self-defense system or (B) a spiritual pursuit connected with universal truths, there is no reason to see aikido as culturally nested. However, by almost any other definition of what aikido is, or any other goal of an aikido practitioner, aikido is at least partially a cultural pursuit. The argument against the keikogi is almost a straw-man argument because it is one of the least important cultural aspects of the practice, but it is one. For example, having clothes that wrap and tie give you a different feeling of movement from having clothes that pull over and have elastic.

To examine via reductio ad absurdum, we could make the same argument as is made against keikogi against suwari waza or against wrist grabs. That is, Ueshiba practiced what was in his daily life. He wore Japanese clothes because he wore them in his regular life. He did suwari waza because he sat in seiza in his regular life. He practiced wrist grabs because he grew up in a time when people were still familiar with and owned traditional weapons. Ergo, we should practice aikido in sweatpants, out of chairs, and against sucker punches. Etc. But if you start removing all these elements, you just end up with people practicing a type of gymnastics rather than a budo.

(Plus, you run the risk that when you get rid of element X from your practice, you haven't understood X's total importance and you lose the opportunity to learn from it.)

I think the fundamental problem with your position is that you are arguing against any static definition of a "traditional culture" while the reality is that, while "traditional culture" may have been different in 1600, 1800, and 2000, there were definite cultures at these times. Practicing aikido may not be touching a "traditional Japanese culture," but it is touching a past Japanese culture.

Of course, learning about 20th century Japan is not the purpose of aikido, and taking aikido for that purpose is probably a big FAIL, but if you take aikido in a classical dojo, you will learn something about it.

If you're talking about "traditional" Japanese culture, then how did that work for Morihei Ueshiba, was he also trying to become part of some culture? If he wasn't - than what was he trying to do? Shouldn't that be where we're trying to go?

The short answer is "no". Unless aikido is a cult. If aikido is a cult, then yes everyone should follow the master's path. But if not, then we can find our own meanings and goals in it. It may be that aikido has an "intelligent design" and a "teleology" to its practice, but that doesn't mean we need to follow it.

That's your preference of course, but that doesn't mean that that it's impossible, we do it around here quite often. Once again, if Morihei Ueshiba taught outside without keikogi or etiquette (as he was known to do on many occassions), would it still be Aikido?

Revisiting the problem of traditions, there is not a strict dichotomy between the existence of a single unbroken tradition and the absence of context. Ueshiba may have trained in something besides keikogi and without etiquette, but he did not train in nylon shorts, jeans, or sweat pants nor with students who would hold their own sidebar conversations, ask self-involved questions, or step away from training without asking leave.

Chris Li
08-26-2013, 10:50 AM
Yes, I am aware of the history of keikogi from Inoue's article in Mirror of Modernity (http://www.amazon.com/Mirror-Modernity-Traditions-Twentieth-Emergence/dp/0520206371/), as I suspect are you. However, I think you miss the point of this article as it relates to modern Japan. Kano did not create special "budo" clothes, there was simply no training-wear at the time. If the Japanese thought of the keikogi as simply training clothes, they would have replaced it, just as they have replaced kimonos with tuxs and white wedding dresses as the "uniforms" for weddings. No, the Japanese connect the keikogi with budo because of its Japanese-ness, not because it is simply the right uniform when you go to aikido.

I haven't read the article, and I wasn't referencing it. There are plenty of Japanese things that haven't been replaced by western counterparts. That doesn't mean that they have a special "Japanese" aura. You haven't done anything here except reassert your initial argument (which I still disagree with).

As I said previously, if you think aikido is either (A) a purely physical and results-oriented self-defense system or (B) a spiritual pursuit connected with universal truths, there is no reason to see aikido as culturally nested. However, by almost any other definition of what aikido is, or any other goal of an aikido practitioner, aikido is at least partially a cultural pursuit.

You're defining it that way certainly - but there are also many people who don't. None of the standard definitions of Aikido that I've seen included a cultural dimension.

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
08-26-2013, 10:55 AM
To examine via reductio ad absurdum, we could make the same argument as is made against keikogi against suwari waza or against wrist grabs. That is, Ueshiba practiced what was in his daily life. He wore Japanese clothes because he wore them in his regular life. He did suwari waza because he sat in seiza in his regular life. He practiced wrist grabs because he grew up in a time when people were still familiar with and owned traditional weapons. Ergo, we should practice aikido in sweatpants, out of chairs, and against sucker punches. Etc. But if you start removing all these elements, you just end up with people practicing a type of gymnastics rather than a budo.

Actually, Daito ryu was not extremely popular at the turn of the 20th century because it involved cultural elements that were commonplace at the time at all. It was popular because it gave students at that time the feeling that they were, in fact, participating in bygone traditions and culture of the preceding era.

So yeah, I think Ueshiba was in fact studying / attempting to emulate a culture that was not entirely his own. So for those of you who want to try to follow in his footsteps, maybe you should consider that!

ChrisMikk
08-26-2013, 11:08 AM
I chuckled when you mentioned Kano Shihan and keikogi. In the circles I run around in in Japan, keikogi means the nice, traditional indigo uwagi worn for kendo, kenjutsu and related stuff. The thing Kano Shihan created is usually referred to particularly as a judogi. It may be because I spend so much time in the koryu world and so little time in gendai budo circles these days.

The following link will take you to photos of an embu at Shiramine Shrine, near my home in Kyoto. The Shiramine embu has practitioners from koryu like HNIR kenjutsu and kusarigama-jutsu. Note from the photos that the koryu practitioners do not wear keikogi. I am (tabun) sure kendo's indigo uwagi is adopted from Kano's design. Kano designed a keikogi. If you wear it for judo, it is is a judogi. If you wear it for kendo, it is a kendogi. If you go into Tozando, they are selling different things for different arts, but the differences are recent and pretty insignificant, like where the seam is.

http://www10.ocn.ne.jp/~siramine/page041.html

ChrisMikk
08-26-2013, 11:13 AM
Imagine you're walking in a backwoods area of Japan.
There's a small college nearby and the gymnasium is right ahead. You hear strange noises and sneak in to investigate. You go up a stairway to what must be the Alumni booth overlooking the gym floor.

Down below there are dozens of Japanese men and women dressed up in costumes from America's Wild West of the 1800's. Some have ten-gallon hats; others have big fuzzy chaps; all are wearing holsters with wooden guns. They've paired off with "pardners" and stand 2.5 meters apart. The one on the left, called "varmint", says the traditional phrase, "This town has not sufficient size to contain two of us. You must depart." The person on the right, the "Good Guy", responds, "Reach for your shooting irons, you unclean rodent!" They both draw their wooden guns and yell, "Bang!", and the "varmint" falls to the ground; the "Good Guy" blows on the barrel of his wooden gun.

This is repeated four times. The "pardners" then switch sides. This goes on until the "Sheriff" stops class to demonstrate a new "draw."

Do these people seem silly? Would you laugh at them?

If this is how people were taught to shoot in the American west, then it would not seem silly at all to see the Japanese emulate that practice. That is a critical flaw. People did not shoot that way in the American west, but the Japanese did teach us to practice budo this way.

Cliff Judge
08-26-2013, 11:22 AM
The following link will take you to photos of an embu at Shiramine Shrine, near my home in Kyoto. The Shiramine embu has practitioners from koryu like HNIR kenjutsu and kusarigama-jutsu. Note from the photos that the koryu practitioners do not wear keikogi. I am (tabun) sure kendo's indigo uwagi is adopted from Kano's design. Kano designed a keikogi. If you wear it for judo, it is is a judogi. If you wear it for kendo, it is a kendogi. If you go into Tozando, they are selling different things for different arts, but the differences are recent and pretty insignificant, like where the seam is.

http://www10.ocn.ne.jp/~siramine/page041.html

I always thought the dogi was just a thicker samue.

Chris Li
08-26-2013, 11:22 AM
Actually, Daito ryu was not extremely popular at the turn of the 20th century because it involved cultural elements that were commonplace at the time at all. It was popular because it gave students at that time the feeling that they were, in fact, participating in bygone traditions and culture of the preceding era.

So yeah, I think Ueshiba was in fact studying / attempting to emulate a culture that was not entirely his own. So for those of you who want to try to follow in his footsteps, maybe you should consider that!

Well, there was a general tend towards westernization in Meiji - but I can't think of any of Sokaku Takeda's students who were actively or primarily interested in the cultural elements. In fact, Sokaku taught mostly short workshops with people who were primarily interested in the practical martial elements.

In any case, I think that if people think really think that they are learning Japanese culture in Aikido class - then they ought to think again. :)

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
08-26-2013, 11:40 AM
Well, there was a general tend towards westernization in Meiji - but I can't think of any of Sokaku Takeda's students who were actively or primarily interested in the cultural elements. In fact, Sokaku taught mostly short workshops with people who were primarily interested in the practical martial elements.

In any case, I think that if people think really think that they are learning Japanese culture in Aikido class - then they ought to think again. :)

Best,

Chris

I have not meant "Japanese culture." I am referring to "budo culture" or perhaps "warrior culture." This is something that many Japanese themselves are interested in today. I find it hard to believe there was a single student of Takeda's for whom this was not their essential motivation.

ChrisMikk
08-26-2013, 12:03 PM
I haven't read the article, and I wasn't referencing it. There are plenty of Japanese things that haven't been replaced by western counterparts. That doesn't mean that they have a special "Japanese" aura. You haven't done anything here except reassert your initial argument (which I still disagree with).

I didn't use the phrase "special 'Japanese' aura," and I think it is unfortunate. At the risk of misinterpreting what you mean by that phrase, I will point out that you are arguing that Japanese things are not especially Japanese, which I think it is safe to say is objectively wrong as a virtual self-contradiction. As a matter of fact, there is almost nothing left in Japan that hasn't been replaced by a western counterpart. The things are left are most definitely thought of by the Japanese as being Japanese... e.g., chopsticks, Japanese food, Shinto shrines, the Japanese language, futons. Those are examples of things that used in daily life. There are some few cultural artifacts still bumping around like tea ceremony and budo. These are also most definitely thought of by the Japanese as being Japanese. You asserted that the keikogi is chosen by the Japanese for training in aikido because of Japanese pickiness about having proper clothes. That is most definitely not why the keikogi has survived in dojos. The Japanese think of keikogi and budo as complementary parts of traditional Japanese culture, and that is why the keikogi has survived in the dojo.

You're defining it that way certainly - but there are also many people who don't. None of the standard definitions of Aikido that I've seen included a cultural dimension.

You are missing my point, which was that unless you specifically define aikido as something that is based on universal principles like spiritualism or combat efficiency, your definition of aikido must contain an element of cultural study whether you recognize it or not. Even just calling it "aikido" contains rudimentary language study.

jonreading
08-26-2013, 12:42 PM
I would be hard-pressed to find an aikido book that does not glorify, if not misrepresent, the Japanaese cultural, including linguistic translation. In promoting the art, it is not inappropriate - I am fine with the PR campaign. If I am consuming the material as fact... Well...

I tend to avoid cultural labels in aikido because so much of what we "know" is not accurate. Most of what I have redefined in my "knowledge" of aikido has actually come from other historical books and non-aikido material. I think if we are going to claim aikido provides a sound foundation of Japanese cultural or socio-historical information, we have a lot of work in front of us.

I think there aikido people who have a working knowledge of Japanese culture they may not have pursued without training aikido. I am not sure all aikido people have taken to increasing their cultural awareness beyond what is required in their training. I think part of the interest of Japanese martial arts is the close ties to a romaticized war class. There is an attraction to the cultural period that we have decided to remain part of. Wearing one-size-fits-most scratchy undies is undoubtably a decision based upon the culture period in which we want to stay rooted. I can buy $10 worth of workout clothes from Walmart that are more comfortable, more effective, and more appropriate for a variety of training conditions... especially down South.

I think tying ourselves to a "exotic" culture with extreme etiquette gives us validation and authority over those who know less. It sets an image for those around us to inquire, "what are those people doing in with those wooden sticks and outlandish clothes?" In saying this, I am not criticizing the value of this decision; I think identifying with a period and a culture can often provide a context in which we are able to act.

Cliff Judge
08-26-2013, 01:14 PM
I tend to avoid cultural labels in aikido because so much of what we "know" is not accurate. Most of what I have redefined in my "knowledge" of aikido has actually come from other historical books and non-aikido material.

Like what do you mean specifically? Could you list some examples?

OwlMatt
08-26-2013, 02:02 PM
Aikido is a product of a martial culture which is a subset of an educational tradition where a student's interest in or knowledge of what they are actually doing is of little importance. Students are like seeds, the instruction and practice are like water and sunlight, and etiquette, dojo cleaning rituals, training attire, and the like are the soil.

So what if we put them in different soil? What does that change, really?

OwlMatt
08-26-2013, 02:10 PM
If this is how people were taught to shoot in the American west, then it would not seem silly at all to see the Japanese emulate that practice. That is a critical flaw. People did not shoot that way in the American west, but the Japanese did teach us to practice budo this way.

My (admittedly limited) experience has taught me that the Westerners who try the hardest to be Japanese often end up creating a cartoon-like caricature of the way the Japanese really train and teach. I'm a big fan of karate blogger Rob Redmond, who spent two years training in Nagoya, Japan. When he arrived in Japan, he discovered that what his American instructors had taught him was the "Japanese" way of doing things was comical to many of his Japanese training partners.

Cliff Judge
08-26-2013, 02:34 PM
So what if we put them in different soil? What does that change, really?

Point is, you need soil.

OwlMatt
08-26-2013, 03:36 PM
Point is, you need soil.
I don't understand how that answers my question.

Cliff Judge
08-26-2013, 04:07 PM
I don't understand how that answers my question.

Well what do you suggest replacing "clothes, etiquette, and other things" with?

There are differences in these from organization to organization in Aikido...

IvLabush
08-26-2013, 05:19 PM
Aikidoka's reduces hakama, start to do sparring and becomes sambo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARGsQZ16it8) fighters. :) Joke only.
It's near by self-definition as for me. If you take all ideas so you will be aikido guy but if you ask: "Why I had to bow this old man photo?" you need something different. Maybe the motto of japanese martial arts is: "All or nothing".

OwlMatt
08-26-2013, 05:34 PM
Well what do you suggest replacing "clothes, etiquette, and other things" with?

There are differences in these from organization to organization in Aikido...

Aikidoka's reduces hakama, start to do sparring and becomes sambo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARGsQZ16it8) fighters. :) Joke only.
It's near by self-definition as for me. If you take all ideas so you will be aikido guy but if you ask: "Why I had to bow this old man photo?" you need something different. Maybe the motto of japanese martial arts is: "All or nothing".

Yesterday, I was in the park, training aikido weapons with friends from several different aikido clubs. There was no dojo. We were in shoes and on hard ground, so there was no seiza. There was no kamiza with a picture of O Sensei to bow to or raise our weapons to. We did not wear gis or hakamas. Were we still training aikido, or had we invented something else?

mathewjgano
08-26-2013, 07:46 PM
Yesterday, I was in the park, training aikido weapons with friends from several different aikido clubs. There was no dojo. We were in shoes and on hard ground, so there was no seiza. There was no kamiza with a picture of O Sensei to bow to or raise our weapons to. We did not wear gis or hakamas. Were we still training aikido, or had we invented something else?

Aikido-based jujutsu? While I make no assertions as to what :ai: :ki: :do: is, I can see how removing the etiquette might make it something else.
...Bearing in mind I tend to take the approach that whatever people want to call something makes little difference beyond communication needs (i.e. call it what you like; conversation is for ironing out individual semantics).

Cliff Judge
08-26-2013, 07:57 PM
Yesterday, I was in the park, training aikido weapons with friends from several different aikido clubs. There was no dojo. We were in shoes and on hard ground, so there was no seiza. There was no kamiza with a picture of O Sensei to bow to or raise our weapons to. We did not wear gis or hakamas. Were we still training aikido, or had we invented something else?

My personal take on it, honestly, is that that was an extracurricular special study session, where you practiced some forms that will help you do them better when you are in the dojo, where, being aiki weapons, they are themselves a kind of sidebar study of Aikido.

What if you lost your mat space and all you could do was get together in the park and practice weapons in street clothes? How long before you decided it was pointless? :)

OwlMatt
08-26-2013, 09:08 PM
My personal take on it, honestly, is that that was an extracurricular special study session, where you practiced some forms that will help you do them better when you are in the dojo, where, being aiki weapons, they are themselves a kind of sidebar study of Aikido.

What if you lost your mat space and all you could do was get together in the park and practice weapons in street clothes? How long before you decided it was pointless? :)

But that doesn't really answer the question with regards to the subject of this thread. Suppose the ground had been soft enough for us to train taijutsu: would that have been aikido?

IvLabush
08-27-2013, 12:50 AM
Yesterday, I was in the park, training aikido weapons with friends from several different aikido clubs. There was no dojo. We were in shoes and on hard ground, so there was no seiza. There was no kamiza with a picture of O Sensei to bow to or raise our weapons to. We did not wear gis or hakamas. Were we still training aikido, or had we invented something else?
Ueshiba had been practiced in western clothe also. He had been practiced open air. And as far as I see he had been practiced all the time not on the training sessions only. I mean that it's normal to practice somewhere out of dojo. But if the goal is to change training uniform or some rituals it will ruin aikido.

OwlMatt
08-27-2013, 07:36 AM
Ueshiba had been practiced in western clothe also. He had been practiced open air. And as far as I see he had been practiced all the time not on the training sessions only. I mean that it's normal to practice somewhere out of dojo. But if the goal is to change training uniform or some rituals it will ruin aikido.

1. I don't think that is the goal.
2. How would it ruin aikido?

jonreading
08-27-2013, 08:08 AM
Like what do you mean specifically? Could you list some examples?

Since starting aikido, I have revised my pronunciation of the spoken terminology, I have refined the definition of many of the terms themselves (life-taking sword, connection, "aiki", "Sensei" to name a few), I have added terms from judo, karate, and jujitsu, I have taken teaching concepts and exercises from other arts, I even wear my gi differently than when I first started. In these few examples, most of the original content was not the "best" and has since been refined. That does not necessarily mean it was wrong, only that I have worked diligently to improve my understanding and in that effort changed my information.

To be more elaborate, I think some of the new pieces published by Ellis, Chris, and others that are reworking some of the original translations from O Sensei are improving our understanding of aikido. This are/should be natural learning evolution points as we increase the depth and breath of our knowledge.

To my point, I am advocating caution in accepting cultural and historical lessons in aikido as fact. I think for example, John Stevens made some translation mistakes in his works, many of which I own and have read multiple times. Some more grievous than others and some that changed the way I thought about aikido. Same thing for Pranin sensei. I think even these two individuals have remarked than given what they know now, their translations from earlier were not the best. But, they did the best they could at the time and I am grateful for what they did.

Hope that clarifies things.

Cliff Judge
08-27-2013, 08:13 AM
But that doesn't really answer the question with regards to the subject of this thread. Suppose the ground had been soft enough for us to train taijutsu: would that have been aikido?

Actually no. You would have been training taijutsu. Particularly of this was a long term thing without son periodic Aikido training.

IvLabush
08-27-2013, 08:15 AM
How would it ruin aikido?
IMHO aikido practice has few goals. It's like a tool to do something. If someone uses aikido to reach different goal it near by ruin the tool. For example it's like to cut steal bar with chain saw. One of it breaks faster.

Cliff Judge
08-27-2013, 09:14 AM
Since starting aikido, I have revised my pronunciation of the spoken terminology, I have refined the definition of many of the terms themselves (life-taking sword, connection, "aiki", "Sensei" to name a few), I have added terms from judo, karate, and jujitsu, I have taken teaching concepts and exercises from other arts, I even wear my gi differently than when I first started. In these few examples, most of the original content was not the "best" and has since been refined. That does not necessarily mean it was wrong, only that I have worked diligently to improve my understanding and in that effort changed my information.

To be more elaborate, I think some of the new pieces published by Ellis, Chris, and others that are reworking some of the original translations from O Sensei are improving our understanding of aikido. This are/should be natural learning evolution points as we increase the depth and breath of our knowledge.

To my point, I am advocating caution in accepting cultural and historical lessons in aikido as fact. I think for example, John Stevens made some translation mistakes in his works, many of which I own and have read multiple times. Some more grievous than others and some that changed the way I thought about aikido. Same thing for Pranin sensei. I think even these two individuals have remarked than given what they know now, their translations from earlier were not the best. But, they did the best they could at the time and I am grateful for what they did.

Hope that clarifies things.

You aren't saying that, because your understanding of these things has evolved, that you cannot accept anything about Aikido?

A minor point, but....because your understanding and opinion on these matters has changed, does not mean "we" were "wrong" about them.

We have some new and different translations available to us now, but they have not proven the older ones to be "wrong."

jujutsu

Janet Rosen
08-27-2013, 11:36 AM
I'm confused. Sincerely. Cliff and maybe a couple of others seem to be saying that if we are training outdoors in street clothes it isn't aikido but some kind of jutso.

Does this mean that the intent and principles are not important, but the clothing and the building are? I cannot accept that.

I've participated in aikido camps and seminars where the weapons training and even some of the empty hand training was done outdoors. I think the shihans and other instructors would be very surprised to discover they were not teaching or doing aikido.

And I've been at one seminar where a high ranking instructor taught in street clothes because his luggage was lost. He would be very surprised to discover that he was not teaching or doing aikido.

And if I were to do Tohei Sensei's 8 basics, exactly as I do in the dojo, in a city park in street clothing, and then have a little randori and a little of Saito Sensei's jo practice, I would be very surprised to be told that what I'm doing is not aikido.

So I would like to know precisely HOW and WHY this is not aikido.

Cliff Judge
08-27-2013, 11:54 AM
I'm confused. Sincerely. Cliff and maybe a couple of others seem to be saying that if we are training outdoors in street clothes it isn't aikido but some kind of jutso.

Does this mean that the intent and principles are not important, but the clothing and the building are? I cannot accept that.

I've participated in aikido camps and seminars where the weapons training and even some of the empty hand training was done outdoors. I think the shihans and other instructors would be very surprised to discover they were not teaching or doing aikido.

And I've been at one seminar where a high ranking instructor taught in street clothes because his luggage was lost. He would be very surprised to discover that he was not teaching or doing aikido.

And if I were to do Tohei Sensei's 8 basics, exactly as I do in the dojo, in a city park in street clothing, and then have a little randori and a little of Saito Sensei's jo practice, I would be very surprised to be told that what I'm doing is not aikido.

So I would like to know precisely HOW and WHY this is not aikido.

Do you practice this way all the time? Did Kuroiwa Sensei continue to teach and train in a suit from that point on?

Peter Boylan
08-27-2013, 11:55 AM
The following link will take you to photos of an embu at Shiramine Shrine, near my home in Kyoto. The Shiramine embu has practitioners from koryu like HNIR kenjutsu and kusarigama-jutsu. Note from the photos that the koryu practitioners do not wear keikogi. I am (tabun) sure kendo's indigo uwagi is adopted from Kano's design. Kano designed a keikogi. If you wear it for judo, it is is a judogi. If you wear it for kendo, it is a kendogi. If you go into Tozando, they are selling different things for different arts, but the differences are recent and pretty insignificant, like where the seam is.

http://www10.ocn.ne.jp/~siramine/page041.html

Actually in those photos only the karate and aikido people are wearing judo dogi. I will say that I know a lot of HNIR folks who train in neither judogi no hakama. They like samue.

Janet Rosen
08-27-2013, 12:25 PM
Do you practice this way all the time? Did Kuroiwa Sensei continue to teach and train in a suit from that point on?

1. It was a different instructor.

2. You have not answered my direct question: at what defined point in time, would it no longer be aikido, and WHY?

Cliff Judge
08-27-2013, 01:13 PM
1. It was a different instructor.

2. You have not answered my direct question: at what defined point in time, would it no longer be aikido, and WHY?

The point at which it became your standard way to train, because that's the point where you severed your link to the cultural transmission of Aikido.

Cliff Judge
08-27-2013, 01:32 PM
Actually in those photos only the karate and aikido people are wearing judo dogi. I will say that I know a lot of HNIR folks who train in neither judogi no hakama. They like samue.

The jujutsu guys on the bottom row of embu pics look to be wearing judogi and hakama.

Janet Rosen
08-27-2013, 01:51 PM
The point at which it became your standard way to train, because that's the point where you severed your link to the cultural transmission of Aikido.

While I have no intention of traing that way ongoing, clearly we are going to have to agree to disagree.

RonRagusa
08-27-2013, 02:07 PM
Usehiba, M. - "One does not need buildings, money, power or status to practice the Art of Peace. Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train." The Art of Peace, John Stevens, p. 14

I haven't seen anything related to Aikido as a vehicle for the transmission of Japanese culture. In 25 years with Maruyama sensei he never once indicated that cultural transmission was in any way relevant to our training. The dojo, clothing and rituals provide a cultural context in which training takes place but I don't see how they contribute, or their lack detract, substantively from one's ability to coordinate mind and body and get on with the business of studying Aikido.

Ron

Cliff Judge
08-27-2013, 02:35 PM
While I have no intention of traing that way ongoing, clearly we are going to have to agree to disagree.

Why?

Cliff Judge
08-27-2013, 02:39 PM
Usehiba, M. - "One does not need buildings, money, power or status to practice the Art of Peace. Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train." The Art of Peace, John Stevens, p. 14

I haven't seen anything related to Aikido as a vehicle for the transmission of Japanese culture. In 25 years with Maruyama sensei he never once indicated that cultural transmission was in any way relevant to our training. The dojo, clothing and rituals provide a cultural context in which training takes place but I don't see how they contribute, or their lack detract, substantively from one's ability to coordinate mind and body and get on with the business of studying Aikido.

Ron

I agree that Aikido would be a poor vehicle for the transmission of Japanese culture.

Hmmm...25 years is a really long time to train under a teacher. Question: can you bring to mind everything you have learned from training under Maruyama Sensei?

Peter Boylan
08-27-2013, 03:00 PM
The jujutsu guys on the bottom row of embu pics look to be wearing judogi and hakama.

The only ones I see doing that are labeled are an Aikido group.

Janet Rosen
08-27-2013, 03:03 PM
Why?

Our positions are irreconcilable.
I do NOT believe that the cultural issues of indoor dojo and keikogi are in and of themselves essential to Aikido.

Cliff Judge
08-27-2013, 03:03 PM
Why?

I posted this, then i was like, wait, that is really sneery and I don't really want to have a conversation with that kind of tone. And then I lost power and the edit timer ran out!

So when I say "Why are we going to agree to disagree" I mean...to what extent do you think the traditions of Aikido (your Aikido) can be changed by students without transforming the practice into something else?

Cliff Judge
08-27-2013, 03:06 PM
The only ones I see doing that are labeled are an Aikido group.

These guys?

http://www10.ocn.ne.jp/~siramine/img159.jpg

They are not labeled as anything, but they are in the Kobudo section of photos, and I'm thinking they are one of the Takenouchi ryu descended schools.

RonRagusa
08-27-2013, 03:43 PM
Question: can you bring to mind everything you have learned from training under Maruyama Sensei?

Specifically? No. The gist of his message as to what Aikido is and how to train, especially how it relates to the topic of this thread? Yes.

Ron

Cliff Judge
08-27-2013, 03:57 PM
Specifically? No. The gist of his message as to what Aikido is and how to train, especially how it relates to the topic of this thread? Yes.

Ron

Well if you went and changed things drastically from the way you were taught, there is a good chance you'd fail to transmit a lot of stuff you learned.

Mary Eastland
08-27-2013, 05:42 PM
Well if you went and changed things drastically from the way you were taught, there is a good chance you'd fail to transmit a lot of stuff you learned.

So?

Peter Boylan
08-27-2013, 06:24 PM
These guys?

http://www10.ocn.ne.jp/~siramine/img159.jpg

They are not labeled as anything, but they are in the Kobudo section of photos, and I'm thinking they are one of the Takenouchi ryu descended schools.

I thought they were all wearing hakama, but I could be wrong.

Janet Rosen
08-27-2013, 06:29 PM
Well if you went and changed things drastically from the way you were taught, there is a good chance you'd fail to transmit a lot of stuff you learned.

Cliff, again, not meaning to be snarky in my questioning but sincerely asking - I believe there is room for a variety of opinions:

Do you think we each owe it to our students to be mere transmitters of what came before?

I don't and the reason became manifestly clear to me many years ago:
After returning to training after a long break from knee injury/surgery/rehab, I decided to check out a small independent dojo pretty close to home. They were very welcoming, they seemed technically sound, but....something was lacking. And what it was: the man who founded the dojo had died some years ago and his sr. students felt obligated to teach only what he taught, as he taught it. They may or may not have gotten out to the many other dojos and seminars available in the SF Bay Area, but nothing else was permitted to affect the training inside.

Frankly it was stifling. It was Aikido as a museum piece, not as a living thing. Even the koryu change - not from below, of course, but via the head of the ryu continuing to think and learn and refine things. And certainly the other dojos I've been part of (I only lasted a month and a half at this one) have been continually cross-pollinated as dojocho and sr. students keep learning, train with others at seminars, etc.

I don't have advanced rank but do have a lot of yrs and pretty wide experience (aiki-mutt) and when I lead my Low Impact Aikido I bring in a variety of things I've learned from different teachers, within and without aikido, plus things that come to me spontaneously in training, as long as they are congruent with the principles adhered to within the dojo I'm a member of.

Janet Rosen
08-27-2013, 06:30 PM
I posted this, then i was like, wait, that is really sneery and I don't really want to have a conversation with that kind of tone. And then I lost power and the edit timer ran out!

So when I say "Why are we going to agree to disagree" I mean...to what extent do you think the traditions of Aikido (your Aikido) can be changed by students without transforming the practice into something else?

Thank you for clarifying.

I probably don't have time to address this right now - I gave a long reply to another post and my work break is now over :D - but your longer question here merits a reply and I will get to it. Thank you for maintaining a cordial tone!

OwlMatt
08-27-2013, 08:30 PM
Usehiba, M. - "One does not need buildings, money, power or status to practice the Art of Peace. Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train." The Art of Peace, John Stevens, p. 14

I haven't seen anything related to Aikido as a vehicle for the transmission of Japanese culture. In 25 years with Maruyama sensei he never once indicated that cultural transmission was in any way relevant to our training. The dojo, clothing and rituals provide a cultural context in which training takes place but I don't see how they contribute, or their lack detract, substantively from one's ability to coordinate mind and body and get on with the business of studying Aikido.

Ron

I think this is spot-on. When Ueshiba himself explains what aikido is all about, he doesn't say anything about clothes, buildings, or rituals -- at least as far as I have read. These things are nice to have as a cultural context, and I'm certainly not suggesting we get rid of them, but they are not aikido.

RonRagusa
08-27-2013, 09:11 PM
Well if you went and changed things drastically from the way you were taught, there is a good chance you'd fail to transmit a lot of stuff you learned.

The most important thing Maruyama sensei taught me was to not try to be a cookie-cutter version of him. He showed me that Aikido is an emergent phenomenon and that in order for me to continue growing I had to make it mine and let it take me where it would. Beyond transmitting the basics of technique/Ki development and my own ongoing story, I generally leave students to their own devices in order that they may find Aikido for themselves.

And I haven't changed (as in on purpose) much at all. Whatever changes have crept into my teaching have done so as a result of my continued growth and the evolution of my Aikido.

Ron

Carsten M÷llering
08-28-2013, 06:15 AM
IWhen Ueshiba himself explains what aikido is all about, he doesn't say anything about clothes, buildings, or rituals -- at least as far as I have read.
As far as I know he spoke about wearing hakama? Wasn't he also strict about rituals?

But, maybe he did not emphasize those things because a lot of it was just self-evident for him?
I sometimes have made the experience that the behaviour of Europeans in a d˘j˘ can be a real culture-shock for Japanese teachers. I remember End˘ sensei lecturing at length about the correct use of zori when leaving the tatami about three years ago. :blush:

On the other hand I experience Japanese to be much more uncomplicated regarding rules of correct behaviour and clothing. But I think this is because they dont't have to think about it. They behave intuively and know the fine line between "free" and "wrong".

Regarding the question of this thread:
Throughout our whole life we wear different clothes matching different occasions, situations or places. And we behave corresponding to these settings.
So I think wearing hakama, observing proper etiquette and other things are important as far as practicing in a d˘j˘ is concerned. The setting of the d˘j˘ needs those things. And they also teach something in this situation.
But aikid˘ is not only practiced in a d˘j˘. One of the most important lessons I ever got from my teacher happenend in pub near a d˘j˘. No etiquette, no dogi, nothing of that.
Finally, I think there are certain aspects constituting aikid˘ that have to be practiced in the formal setting of a d˘j˘. If you would take them away you would loose parts of the core of what at least I belive aikid˘ to be.

OwlMatt
08-28-2013, 10:17 AM
As far as I know he spoke about wearing hakama? Wasn't he also strict about rituals?

I believe you are correct. These kinds of things were clearly important to Ueshiba, but the question at hand is not whether or not they are important, but whether or not they are essential to the definition of aikido. And nothing I've ever read from Ueshiba indicates that he believed they were.

Cliff Judge
08-28-2013, 11:10 AM
I believe you are correct. These kinds of things were clearly important to Ueshiba, but the question at hand is not whether or not they are important, but whether or not they are essential to the definition of aikido. And nothing I've ever read from Ueshiba indicates that he believed they were.

But the thing is, you might not see him say specifically "the hakama and dogi, as well as clapping and bowing, are essential to Aikido." Because for this to be remarkable at all would require that he thought of them as distinct things at all, and not part of a larger gestalt of cultural transmission.

If he is quoted as saying the hakama is important at all, that really does tell you something.

In general I think the thing would be to look for cases where he tells students they need to attend to details, keep themselves clean, not be lazy, not be sloppy, stuff like that.

Janet Rosen
08-28-2013, 11:27 AM
So when I say "Why are we going to agree to disagree" I mean...to what extent do you think the traditions of Aikido (your Aikido) can be changed by students without transforming the practice into something else?

Good question. To me it's important to differentiate values and traditions that are specific to the dojo I'm part of, as they are different from those of other dojos.

However...dojos at times experience massive changes. My current dojo is a good example: it started as part of Aikikai, went with Tohei Sensei after the split into Ki Society, left to become independent, affiliated with Pacific Aikido Federation, left to become independent, is currently independent but loosely affiliating with an Aikikai dojo with Iwama lineage. Each time, though certain core values of our dojo culture remained intact (philosophy of inclusion, roots in rural community) there were changes in the pedagogy, how certain techniques were taught, etc. There were huge changes but they were still Aikido.

To me Aikido is at its essence a martial art that involves a defined partner practice of a technical curriculum (the definition of the partner training contract and the curriculum may vary dojo to dojo) that embodies the principles laid down by OSensei (as interpreted by the high level instructors within each organization or by the dojocho of an independent dojo).

I have seen dojos that do Saito Sensei's 31 jo kata counting aloud in Japanese, counting aloud in English, and not counting aloud at all. Is there a point at which it is wrong or not properly transmitting Japanese culture?

Again, I have no argument against wearing keikogi...but that's purely because I don't think it's important either way and don't see any reason to not wear one in regular practice. In a koryu, it's different because of the way a ryu operates on a centuries old lineage, along with designated spiritual practices that are part and parcel of an overarching tradition. In a modern art, I'm not buying it as that important.

I agree that etiquette plays an important role in establishing the dojo's cultural norms and promoting harmonious relations between members - smoothing being the role of etiquette outside of m.a. anyhow - but the FORM it takes is less important to me than that there is some recognized formal etiquette.

My 2 cents for now....back to work

OwlMatt
08-28-2013, 11:30 AM
But the thing is, you might not see him say specifically "the hakama and dogi, as well as clapping and bowing, are essential to Aikido." Because for this to be remarkable at all would require that he thought of them as distinct things at all, and not part of a larger gestalt of cultural transmission.
My understanding of history is that, by the time Ueshiba had established his own dojo in the 1940s, Kano and Funakoshi had already popularized budo that were practiced without hakamas. Furthermore, many of Ueshiba's students came to aikido after first training these budo. It doesn't make sense to me to believe, in that context, that it went without saying that budo and the hakama were inseparable.

In general I think the thing would be to look for cases where he tells students they need to attend to details, keep themselves clean, not be lazy, not be sloppy, stuff like that.
Those are all very vague things. I think it would be a stretch to consider them evidence of a specific assertion about a specific garment or practice.

Mary Eastland
08-28-2013, 02:27 PM
I say, yes, it is still Aikido.

2 situations happened this week. I wasn't wearing a gi and or a hakama for either yet I like to think I was practicing Aikido during each one.

1. Drunky guy came up on my 2 grandsons, my daughter and I while we waiting for the balloon clown to make a red balloon dog for Tony at Summerfest. Drunky guy slurs..."Hi Mary. How are ya?.. and moves in for a hug. I extended my arm and said "NO Hugs."...with a smile. He bounced back before touching my extended hand..."NO Hugs?" he mumbled looking astonished. I said firmly, "No hugging." while still smiling...he said, " I will be in to pay soon". I said, "Okay, nice to see you." and he shambled away. My daughter said," Who was that?" I said, "Storage customer." and she said, "Wow, you handled that well.

2. Angry storage customer starts swearing and cursing at me because his unit is over-locked. I turned on my heel and started to walk away. He yelled "What I am going to @#$#@ do? I said that it was not okay to cuss at me or yell at me and that I would help him when he stopped. He cussed and yelled some more and I continued walking away. He came towards me. I stopped and turned to face him and said I would check his account and get back to him. He followed me. I told him he could not come in my office if he continue to cuss and yell. He chose to stay outside. I told him his balance. He handed me a credit card outside. I ran his card and handed it back to him. I then removed his lock and thanked him. When he cussed again and said, "Why are you thanking me?"...I walked away. His anger and problems didn't hurt me.

To me...both of these incidents were Aikido. No hakama, no etiquette...just Aikido.

Carsten M÷llering
08-28-2013, 03:14 PM
I agree that etiquette plays an important role in ... promoting harmonious relations between members I think etiquette in the context of a d˘j˘ or in bud˘ in general in the first place is about your relation to yourself and your place to place you are and the bud˘ you practice. See, even when you're alone in the d˘j˘ the etiquette stays the same.

To me...both of these incidents were Aikido.
I think I get, what you mean. And if you understand Aikido the way you do, you are right.
I don't want to argue against your understanding of what Aikido is. Just want to say that my understanding is different. And maybe whether one "needs" hakama, etiquette etc. to call it aikid˘ or not depends also on our image of what aikid˘ is?

Cliff Judge
08-28-2013, 03:47 PM
To me...both of these incidents were Aikido. No hakama, no etiquette...just Aikido.

Hmmm very good point. Were these incidents training or application? (Or something else?)

Mary Eastland
08-28-2013, 05:33 PM
Application.

ChrisMikk
08-29-2013, 08:44 AM
My (admittedly limited) experience has taught me that the Westerners who try the hardest to be Japanese often end up creating a cartoon-like caricature of the way the Japanese really train and teach. I'm a big fan of karate blogger Rob Redmond, who spent two years training in Nagoya, Japan. When he arrived in Japan, he discovered that what his American instructors had taught him was the "Japanese" way of doing things was comical to many of his Japanese training partners.

Hi Matthew,

I used to train in Shotokan and corresponded with Rob Redmond. Right now, I am training in Japan!

It is important to keep in mind that Redmond's experience is only one person's. For example, I had the impression from reading his forums that only Americans said "osu". But actually, not only is "osu" used in my dojo, but it is used by lots of Japanese who play western sports, etc. So the "mistaken" Americans who "osu"ed to everyone at every opportunity weren't really wrong. Go figure!!

Just like America, you can find dojos in Japan doing all kinds of different things. Some of them are relaxed, some formal. Some teach strict forms, some teach budo-yoga fusion stuff. It takes all kinds.

ChrisMikk
08-29-2013, 08:58 AM
Actually in those photos only the karate and aikido people are wearing judo dogi. I will say that I know a lot of HNIR folks who train in neither judogi no hakama. They like samue.

Yes, I also know HNIR people who also like samue. When he does demonstrations, however, the soke wears traditional Japanese clothes, not uwagi. The same is true of many other koryu. This is contrasted with kendo, where demonstrations will be performed in uwagi. My point is that uwagi is not "traditional training clothes," otherwise it would be worn by koryu for demonstrations. So if it is not traditional, where is it from? It comes from Kano, who started a trend away from wearing regular clothes to wearing specialized training clothes. The karate and aikido people are not wearing judogi, they are wearing keikogi. The karate ones and the aikido ones are different from the judo ones, and all of those are different from the kendo, jukendo, naginatado, etc ones. But they are all keikogi, and all have their roots in Kano's design.

ChrisMikk
08-29-2013, 09:08 AM
My understanding of history is that, by the time Ueshiba had established his own dojo in the 1940s, Kano and Funakoshi had already popularized budo that were practiced without hakamas. Furthermore, many of Ueshiba's students came to aikido after first training these budo. It doesn't make sense to me to believe, in that context, that it went without saying that budo and the hakama were inseparable.

Yes, also both Funakoshi and Ueshiba sent teachers to the army's secret services school, where I believe MI and civilian spies trained in their own clothes. See the movie "Kuro-Obi" (should be available on YouTUbe) for a dramatization of army practicing karate.

Cliff Judge
08-29-2013, 09:17 AM
My point is that uwagi is not "traditional training clothes," otherwise it would be worn by koryu for demonstrations.

Demonstrations are not training. I think it is fairly obvious that you would dress up for an embu.

OwlMatt
08-29-2013, 10:31 AM
Hi Matthew,

I used to train in Shotokan and corresponded with Rob Redmond. Right now, I am training in Japan!

It is important to keep in mind that Redmond's experience is only one person's. For example, I had the impression from reading his forums that only Americans said "osu". But actually, not only is "osu" used in my dojo, but it is used by lots of Japanese who play western sports, etc. So the "mistaken" Americans who "osu"ed to everyone at every opportunity weren't really wrong. Go figure!!
I don't think Redmond's issue was with the use of osu as much as the misunderstanding of it. As you say, osu is a sportsman's word, not a sacred word with a great deal of religious or ritual significance. What Redmond is explaining with osu, I think, is something that happens over and over again: some Japanese say, "This is how we practice budo," and Westerners hear, "This is how budo must be practiced, otherwise you are committing sacrilege."

Just like America, you can find dojos in Japan doing all kinds of different things. Some of them are relaxed, some formal. Some teach strict forms, some teach budo-yoga fusion stuff. It takes all kinds.
That is definitely true. But I think the existence of "all kinds" only lends more credence to the idea that one doesn't have to be one particular kind to be authentically Japanese.

jonreading
08-29-2013, 11:56 AM
You aren't saying that, because your understanding of these things has evolved, that you cannot accept anything about Aikido?

A minor point, but....because your understanding and opinion on these matters has changed, does not mean "we" were "wrong" about them.

We have some new and different translations available to us now, but they have not proven the older ones to be "wrong."

Several years ago I spoke with a friend of my brother. The friend hppened to be in residency at NCSU from Hokkaido for a joint project. In talking about aikido, this friend told me that several of the elements I raised in conversation were not necessaryily wrong, but coloquial. To praphrase his response, "If I started talking to you in old English, I would be speaking English, but not contemporary English." To his point, and my larger point, I am not confident that our aikido curriculum is adequate to claim a [functioning] cultural knowledge about Japan. There may be individual examples that could make this claim, but overall...

Second, I am specifically trying to avoid combining a ideologiocal belief with a practical fact. In some of my previous post I spent some time speaking about translations as an example of an evolution of understanding. I do not think there is a right or wrong here, except to say that we did the best we could with what we had, and now we can do better. I think as long as we keep the context of the issue, we can avoid rights and wrongs. After all, hindsight is 20/20. Hopefully, we are never disseminating "wrong"...

I am getting at a point where we could evaluate the reason why we would deliberately hold on to an understating that is outdated or improved upon. Why would we hold onto a translations, for example, which has been more accurately re-written? I advocate that we make these decisions because they align with our ideological beliefs, not necessary because they are technically more accurate. There is something to saying, "I like this quote because it resonates with me", and be comfortable acknowledging the inaccuracy of the quote.

We [our dojo] have recently been making light of the concept of "blending" because we are working on this yin/yang thing that is moving our entire bodies. The positivie result is something like throwing uke into a blender where they are tossed around failry effortlessly by nage. The joke is that O Sensei was mistranslated, he really meant "blend" as in a blender, not as in to blend with.

At some point, you can empirically argue correctness. At one point in time, the world was flat. At another point in time, the world is round. Taken within context, both "facts" are correct. Of course, we know one fact to be correct and the other incorrect. I think you can similarly argue the correctness of revised translations - the issue is deciding if the factual revision bears impact on the consumption of the translation. The male eye sees 8 colors, none of which is tourquoise. In interpreting the color of the sea, I may say blue/green. My friend may say green/blue. My wife may say tourquoise. All three are acceptible translations, which is most correct?

This is my point regarding tying the dissemination of aikido to a cultural reference. It oligates us to remain informed of the quality of our cultural education and understand and address the contemporary impact of the reference. We are practicing an art tied to a time period in Japan, romaticized beyond fact, and translated across world. I think those are some pretty tricky waters to navigate with accuracy...

Peter Boylan
08-29-2013, 12:06 PM
Yes, I also know HNIR people who also like samue. When he does demonstrations, however, the soke wears traditional Japanese clothes, not uwagi. The same is true of many other koryu. This is contrasted with kendo, where demonstrations will be performed in uwagi. My point is that uwagi is not "traditional training clothes," otherwise it would be worn by koryu for demonstrations. So if it is not traditional, where is it from? It comes from Kano, who started a trend away from wearing regular clothes to wearing specialized training clothes. The karate and aikido people are not wearing judogi, they are wearing keikogi. The karate ones and the aikido ones are different from the judo ones, and all of those are different from the kendo, jukendo, naginatado, etc ones. But they are all keikogi, and all have their roots in Kano's design.

I'm a little confused. Uwagi are just the top garment, your shirt or jacket. It's a more general term than keikogi. The standard blue keikogi is what most of the koryu people I train with demonstrate in. At the Budosai in Kyoto every May all the koryu weapons demonstrators are in keikogi, most indigo, a few in white or undyed. The fancy clothes come out for the iai demonstrations after the koryu weapons demonstrations are finished. The blue keikogi goes back to some point at least in the Edo period when indigo was a common color for workers and cloths that would get dirty (training gear). Historically, the Aikido people who don't wear hakama wear judogi. The things being sold as "aikidogi" are very new. I could go back though my collection of Meirin Sangyo catalogs and tell you exactly when they started selling them, but it was less than 10 years ago. And most aikido people just buy judogi. Calling it an aikidogi is 98% marketing. They change a couple of seams so they have something to sell.

OwlMatt
08-29-2013, 06:26 PM
I'm a little confused. Uwagi are just the top garment, your shirt or jacket. It's a more general term than keikogi. The standard blue keikogi is what most of the koryu people I train with demonstrate in. At the Budosai in Kyoto every May all the koryu weapons demonstrators are in keikogi, most indigo, a few in white or undyed. The fancy clothes come out for the iai demonstrations after the koryu weapons demonstrations are finished. The blue keikogi goes back to some point at least in the Edo period when indigo was a common color for workers and cloths that would get dirty (training gear). Historically, the Aikido people who don't wear hakama wear judogi. The things being sold as "aikidogi" are very new. I could go back though my collection of Meirin Sangyo catalogs and tell you exactly when they started selling them, but it was less than 10 years ago. And most aikido people just buy judogi. Calling it an aikidogi is 98% marketing. They change a couple of seams so they have something to sell.

I was under the impression that the "aikidogi" is just a judogi with shorter sleeves.

Cliff Judge
08-29-2013, 10:33 PM
I was under the impression that the "aikidogi" is just a judogi with shorter sleeves.

Sometimes there are reinforced knees as well.

Cliff Judge
08-29-2013, 10:37 PM
Second, I am specifically trying to avoid combining a ideologiocal belief with a practical fact. In some of my previous post I spent some time speaking about translations as an example of an evolution of understanding. I do not think there is a right or wrong here, except to say that we did the best we could with what we had, and now we can do better. I think as long as we keep the context of the issue, we can avoid rights and wrongs. After all, hindsight is 20/20. Hopefully, we are never disseminating "wrong"...

I am getting at a point where we could evaluate the reason why we would deliberately hold on to an understating that is outdated or improved upon. Why would we hold onto a translations, for example, which has been more accurately re-written? I advocate that we make these decisions because they align with our ideological beliefs, not necessary because they are technically more accurate. There is something to saying, "I like this quote because it resonates with me", and be comfortable acknowledging the inaccuracy of the quote.


You know that you don't know which translations are more accurate, right? And so your point is, that you pick the translations that most accurately reflect your own biases. It is hard to argue with that if you are upfront about it.

OwlMatt
08-29-2013, 10:39 PM
Sometimes there are reinforced knees as well.

Don't all judogis have reinforced knees?

Carsten M÷llering
08-30-2013, 08:47 AM
ahem eh ...

Do there really specific aikid˘ gi exist in "your world"?
Is there a supplier where you can by a 170 jud˘ gi and a 170 aikid˘ gi and they are different?
Maybe bujin offered special gi?

Wow, I've never heard of this here in my context. So I'm really interested to learn something about that.

Whether the arms are more or less short and which way the knees are reinforced here in "my world" depends on the certain supplier and the different patterns of the gi he provides. But it's all jud˘ gi.

ChrisMikk
08-30-2013, 08:57 AM
Demonstrations are not training. I think it is fairly obvious that you would dress up for an embu.

Do kendo practitioners wear kimono for embu, or does anyone besides koryu? Why?

ChrisMikk
08-30-2013, 09:45 AM
I don't think Redmond's issue was with the use of osu as much as the misunderstanding of it. As you say, osu is a sportsman's word, not a sacred word with a great deal of religious or ritual significance. What Redmond is explaining with osu, I think, is something that happens over and over again: some Japanese say, "This is how we practice budo," and Westerners hear, "This is how budo must be practiced, otherwise you are committing sacrilege."

I'm not sure. I haven't read 24FC in a while. It changed several times, and Redmond's thinking seems to have as well. He definitely went through a phase of wholesale rejection of "Japanese" practices, however. That is how I remember "osu"--it's not budo, it's for stooges. That's definitely not true.

That is definitely true. But I think the existence of "all kinds" only lends more credence to the idea that one doesn't have to be one particular kind to be authentically Japanese.

I've lost the thread of the argument now. Plus, I am tired and inebriated...

(A) Contra Chris Li, I believe in the existence of "Japanese" things. I also believe that "non-Japanese" things exist and are practiced in Japan by the Japanese people. Japanese people can tell the difference, and, so, so can westerners.

(B) I believe the dogi, while not a traditional garment, is fundamentally more Japanese than sweatpants, etc. I also believe because of its structural relationship with traditional Japanese clothes, it may/probably imparts a kinaesthetic understanding of body mechanics that is different from elastic, pull-overs, nylon, and short-sleeves, etc.

(C) I believe that people who demand an "explanation" of why dogi are necessary for aikido training are making bad arguments, be they straw-man, red herring, or some other type. The reason is that aikido is not defined by these people. Aikido can only be defined in two ways: (1) as an activity that is fundamentally universal, i.e. subject to analysis of fighting efficiency, spiritual truth, etc.; (2) as an activity that is not fundamentally universal, i.e. has a cultural context to be understandable. UFC is an example of 1--quality is judged on objective basis such as win-loss records. Tea ceremony is an example of 2--quality is judged on subjective basis that requires some cultural immersion to be accessible. I do not believe most people are willing to define aikido as a universal activity. If they did, then aikido's lack of training against kicking, for example, would lead aikidoka to say, "we should change aikido to include X% defenses against kicking," and if it could be shown that acting like an aggressive bullying a--hole was a better way to stop fights from happening, then aikidoka should say, "we should change to be aggressive bullying a--holes." And if aikido were shown to be fundamentally at odds with other objective things like a scientific understanding of the basis of mind or a utilitarian understanding of the social good, then people would give it up entirely. These types of things do not happen. Exhibit A in this line of argument is the posters who say "last weekend, we trained outside with boken but no dogi, were we doing aikido?" Why the hell were you training with boken? Boken are a culturally contextualized tool, so you should figure out what boken training aims to teach you, isolate that, get rid of the boken, and move on. But nobody wants to do that. Why? Because, in the final analysis, aikido is what people want it to be, and people want it to be culturally contextualized. It makes it more non-mundane, and this is a big reason that people choose aikido. So, I agree entirely with the poster who says that it stops being aikido when your standard of practice is without dogi or etiquette, not when you train in streetclothes a few times a year.

Demetrio Cereijo
08-30-2013, 09:50 AM
My point is that uwagi is not "traditional training clothes," otherwise it would be worn by koryu for demonstrations. So if it is not traditional, where is it from? It comes from Kano, who started a trend away from wearing regular clothes to wearing specialized training clothes.

Kano adapted the jackets used in Cornish/Gouren styles of wrestling. Judogi is european in origin. There's no collar & elbow grip tradition in japanese jujutsu.

Chris Li
08-30-2013, 10:45 AM
(A) Contra Chris Li, I believe in the existence of "Japanese" things. I also believe that "non-Japanese" things exist and are practiced in Japan by the Japanese people. Japanese people can tell the difference, and, so, so can westerners.

Is it still Japanese food if you eat it with a fork? :D

Best,

Chris

OwlMatt
08-30-2013, 11:04 AM
Is it still Japanese food if you eat it with a fork? :D

Best,

Chris

I like this analogy a lot.

This has been a strange thread for me. I'm agreeing with Ron and Chris and disagreeing with Cliff; usually it's the other way around.

ChrisMikk
08-30-2013, 11:05 AM
I'm a little confused. Uwagi are just the top garment, your shirt or jacket. It's a more general term than keikogi. The standard blue keikogi is what most of the koryu people I train with demonstrate in. At the Budosai in Kyoto every May all the koryu weapons demonstrators are in keikogi, most indigo, a few in white or undyed. The fancy clothes come out for the iai demonstrations after the koryu weapons demonstrations are finished. The blue keikogi goes back to some point at least in the Edo period when indigo was a common color for workers and cloths that would get dirty (training gear). Historically, the Aikido people who don't wear hakama wear judogi. The things being sold as "aikidogi" are very new. I could go back though my collection of Meirin Sangyo catalogs and tell you exactly when they started selling them, but it was less than 10 years ago. And most aikido people just buy judogi. Calling it an aikidogi is 98% marketing. They change a couple of seams so they have something to sell.

I was just at the Butokuden here in Kyoto this May. Koryu demonstrators were wearing a mix of garments. Some in indigo keikogi and some in kimonos.

This is kind of a fruitless argument since it's just about terminology.

In this video of early kendo practitioners (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WN9SDF05nX0), they seem to be wearing shitagi, over half of them light-colored. I say shitagi instead of uwagi because of the way they seem to move, like pressable cotton rather than the textured, heavy style of kendogi and judogi we are used to today, which I think is based on sashiko weaving pattern.

Please note that in the Jim Breen (http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1C) dictionary, if you click on the "Search using romanized Japanese" and search for "keikogi," the first example is a judo practice uniform.

WHen I say that Kano was responsible for the indigo keikogi uniform, what I mean is that I think Kano designed the white keikogi for judo, then the top half was adopted into kendo and koryu. The make of it is fundamentally similar to the keikogi top used for judo. Indigo may have been popular as a dye in the past, but it was by no means universal. Even today, you see some people wearing white keikogi tops in kendo, etc.

Also note that the indigo keikogi top does not seem to have been worn by schools of jujutsu, etc or adopted as the practice uniform for modern budo. I think it would be very strange if there were a standard practice uniform used by all the weapon arts that was not used for jujutsu (not that there was a clear distinction in the past anyhow). Likewise, if a standard training uniform existed already, why wouldn't Kano have simply created some indigo pants for it and adopted it into judo? I think the most likely explanation for both these is that causation went the other way--first Kano's white keikogi, then the adoption of his keikogi top for use by schools that traditionally wore a random collection of other normal Japanese clothes but still wanted to use hakama.

Unless I see a credible reference telling me otherwise, I am sticking with my own impressions of the situation.

ChrisMikk
08-30-2013, 11:08 AM
Kano adapted the jackets used in Cornish/Gouren styles of wrestling. Judogi is european in origin. There's no collar & elbow grip tradition in japanese jujutsu.

I am open to this idea, but would like a reference.

ChrisMikk
08-30-2013, 11:17 AM
Is it still Japanese food if you eat it with a fork? :D

Yup, and if you eat kaiseki off styrofoam with Coca-Cola sitting on your couch watching Jerry Springer, it is still Japanese food. And the point of it will be less and less accessible to you the more random unrelated elements you add.

... and that may or may not be applicable to aikido.

Chris Li
08-30-2013, 11:31 AM
Yup, and if you eat kaiseki off styrofoam with Coca-Cola sitting on your couch watching Jerry Springer, it is still Japanese food. And the point of it will be less and less accessible to you the more random unrelated elements you add.

... and that may or may not be applicable to aikido.

It's an analogy, and I don't think that it's unrelated at all. The substance of Aikido as described by Morihei Ueshiba (and he discusses it in great detail in "Take Musu Aiki") has nothing to do with being specific physical cultural activities, just as the substance of Japanese food has nothing do do with what you use to scoop it into your mouth.

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
08-30-2013, 11:42 AM
I've lost the thread of the argument now. Plus, I am tired and inebriated...

(A) Contra Chris Li, I believe in the existence of "Japanese" things. I also believe that "non-Japanese" things exist and are practiced in Japan by the Japanese people. Japanese people can tell the difference, and, so, so can westerners.

(B) I believe the dogi, while not a traditional garment, is fundamentally more Japanese than sweatpants, etc. I also believe because of its structural relationship with traditional Japanese clothes, it may/probably imparts a kinaesthetic understanding of body mechanics that is different from elastic, pull-overs, nylon, and short-sleeves, etc.

(C) I believe that people who demand an "explanation" of why dogi are necessary for aikido training are making bad arguments, be they straw-man, red herring, or some other type. The reason is that aikido is not defined by these people. Aikido can only be defined in two ways: (1) as an activity that is fundamentally universal, i.e. subject to analysis of fighting efficiency, spiritual truth, etc.; (2) as an activity that is not fundamentally universal, i.e. has a cultural context to be understandable. UFC is an example of 1--quality is judged on objective basis such as win-loss records. Tea ceremony is an example of 2--quality is judged on subjective basis that requires some cultural immersion to be accessible. I do not believe most people are willing to define aikido as a universal activity. If they did, then aikido's lack of training against kicking, for example, would lead aikidoka to say, "we should change aikido to include X% defenses against kicking," and if it could be shown that acting like an aggressive bullying a--hole was a better way to stop fights from happening, then aikidoka should say, "we should change to be aggressive bullying a--holes." And if aikido were shown to be fundamentally at odds with other objective things like a scientific understanding of the basis of mind or a utilitarian understanding of the social good, then people would give it up entirely. These types of things do not happen. Exhibit A in this line of argument is the posters who say "last weekend, we trained outside with boken but no dogi, were we doing aikido?" Why the hell were you training with boken? Boken are a culturally contextualized tool, so you should figure out what boken training aims to teach you, isolate that, get rid of the boken, and move on. But nobody wants to do that. Why? Because, in the final analysis, aikido is what people want it to be, and people want it to be culturally contextualized. It makes it more non-mundane, and this is a big reason that people choose aikido. So, I agree entirely with the poster who says that it stops being aikido when your standard of practice is without dogi or etiquette, not when you train in streetclothes a few times a year.

^^^this

Yeah this is largely what I have been ineffectively arguing by saying that Aikido is a culture.

Cliff Judge
08-30-2013, 11:47 AM
Is it still Japanese food if you eat it with a fork? :D

Best,

Chris

Ahhh...the food may be the same, but the MEAL would probably not be.

Chris Li
08-30-2013, 11:52 AM
Ahhh...the food may be the same, but the MEAL would probably not be.

Sure, the experience would be different. For that matter, your training under Mitsugi Saotome is vastly different than the experience that you would have had training in Iwama with Ueshiba - even the etiquette was quite different. Does that mean that what you do in D.C. is not Aikido?

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
08-30-2013, 11:53 AM
Do kendo practitioners wear kimono for embu, or does anyone besides koryu? Why?

Do kendo groups actually do embu, per se? It seems like the kind of thing that nobody would pay attention to because they are there for the matches.

I think I was just saying that, just because a group dresses up for embu (have you seen the Shumpukan at embu?? Or Yoshin ryu naginata??), doesn't mean they dress up for training....and doesn't mean that the way they dress during training isn't subject to the traditions of that dojo.

It's all culturally contextualized....

Cliff Judge
08-30-2013, 11:57 AM
Sure, the experience would be different. For that matter, your training under Mitsugi Saotome is vastly different than the experience that you would have had training in Iwama with Ueshiba - even the etiquette was quite different. Does that mean that what you do in D.C. is not Aikido?

Best,

Chris

it MIGHT NOT be if the instructors at my dojo all decided to start conducting class exactly as they do in Iwama.

More relevant, it might not be Aikido at our dojo anymore if we began restricting hakama to yudansha!

Chris Li
08-30-2013, 12:22 PM
it MIGHT NOT be if the instructors at my dojo all decided to start conducting class exactly as they do in Iwama.

More relevant, it might not be Aikido at our dojo anymore if we began restricting hakama to yudansha!

I'm sorry, I may be missing your point. Are you saying that what they're doing in Iwama isn't Aikido? Or is it that dojo where only yudansha wear hakama is not Aikido? Both?

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
08-30-2013, 12:28 PM
I'm sorry, I may be missing your point. Are you saying that what they're doing in Iwama isn't Aikido? Or is it that dojo where only yudansha wear hakama is not Aikido? Both?

Best,

Chris

It's a cultural transmission, dude.

James Sawers
08-30-2013, 12:56 PM
If circumstances forced someone to utilize their aikido training on the street (and, of course, you are not wearing a gi), are you saying then that it would not be aikido?

jonreading
08-30-2013, 01:02 PM
You know that you don't know which translations are more accurate, right? And so your point is, that you pick the translations that most accurately reflect your own biases. It is hard to argue with that if you are upfront about it.

Ultimately, your choice to inherit information and internalize it makes the accuracy of the information irrelevant. This is the foundation of belief. In this sense, it would not matter which translation is more accurate, only which one I choose to believe. Regardless that the facts point to Nolan Ryan as the greatest pitcher in baseball, I believe the interpretation of facts to be that Nolan Ryan is the greatest pitcher in baseball.

To go down the slippery slope... if you choose to empirically clasify a translation as more correct than another... would that affect your decision to internalize the information? I would say no if that translation conflicted with your ideological belief structure. You are going to turn a blind eye to that which rocks your ideological world... even if it means you are "less" accurate.

Chris Li
08-30-2013, 01:17 PM
It's a cultural transmission, dude.

My point was - which culture? Any culture, as long as it's Japanese? Because if it's a specific culture - say, the culture of O-Sensei's personal dojo, then you ain't got it.

Even in Japan, the culture, etiquette and customs vary widely from dojo to dojo - which ones aren't practicing Aikido?

Best,

Chris

Dan Richards
08-30-2013, 01:28 PM
Judogi is european in origin.

Yes it is, Demetrio. Thank you for adding that fact to this thread. The Japanese school uniform is also of European origin. It's also interesting to see how close the aikidogi and hakama are to the school uniforms. White naval-inspired shirt with pleated-dark skirt.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_school_uniform

Aikido is not a Japanese art. It is a world art.

From there, we could adjust the question in this topic, because the clothes really aren't Japanese.

Is it still Aikido if you add clothes, etiquette and other things from other parts of the world.

And the answer is, absolutely, because aikido, as it was established, was, and is, an ever-evolving, international confluence of influences.

Cliff Judge
08-30-2013, 01:44 PM
My point was - which culture? Any culture, as long as it's Japanese? Because if it's a specific culture - say, the culture of O-Sensei's personal dojo, then you ain't got it.

Which personal dojo?


Even in Japan, the culture, etiquette and customs vary widely from dojo to dojo - which ones aren't practicing Aikido?

Any one that has broken cultural transmission with Osensei.

Cliff Judge
08-30-2013, 01:48 PM
Kano adapted the jackets used in Cornish/Gouren styles of wrestling. Judogi is european in origin. There's no collar & elbow grip tradition in japanese jujutsu.

You should have put a smiley on this - some people think you are being serious.

Chris Li
08-30-2013, 01:57 PM
Which personal dojo?

The only one that he had after 1942 was Iwama.


Any one that has broken cultural transmission with Osensei.

You mean, like the way that Mitsugi Saotome has because his etiquette is different than that practiced by Morihei Ueshiba?

FWIW, I'm not an Iwama guy (although I've trained there), and I'm perfectly fine with the thought that what Saotome is doing is Aikido. But if if changing the etiquette means that you're not practicing Aikido then he isn't. And neither is almost all Aikido today.

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
08-30-2013, 02:06 PM
The only one that he had after 1942 was Iwama.

So...they weren't practicing Aikido at the Asahi Shimbun or at the Kobukan?


You mean, like the way that Mitsugi Saotome has because his etiquette is different than that practiced by Morihei Ueshiba?


Oh yeah? How is Saotome Sensei's etiquette different than that practiced by Osensei, exactly?

OwlMatt
08-30-2013, 02:10 PM
(C) I believe that people who demand an "explanation" of why dogi are necessary for aikido training are making bad arguments, be they straw-man, red herring, or some other type. The reason is that aikido is not defined by these people. Aikido can only be defined in two ways: (1) as an activity that is fundamentally universal, i.e. subject to analysis of fighting efficiency, spiritual truth, etc.; (2) as an activity that is not fundamentally universal, i.e. has a cultural context to be understandable. UFC is an example of 1--quality is judged on objective basis such as win-loss records. Tea ceremony is an example of 2--quality is judged on subjective basis that requires some cultural immersion to be accessible. I do not believe most people are willing to define aikido as a universal activity. If they did, then aikido's lack of training against kicking, for example, would lead aikidoka to say, "we should change aikido to include X% defenses against kicking," and if it could be shown that acting like an aggressive bullying a--hole was a better way to stop fights from happening, then aikidoka should say, "we should change to be aggressive bullying a--holes." And if aikido were shown to be fundamentally at odds with other objective things like a scientific understanding of the basis of mind or a utilitarian understanding of the social good, then people would give it up entirely. These types of things do not happen. Exhibit A in this line of argument is the posters who say "last weekend, we trained outside with boken but no dogi, were we doing aikido?" Why the hell were you training with boken? Boken are a culturally contextualized tool, so you should figure out what boken training aims to teach you, isolate that, get rid of the boken, and move on. But nobody wants to do that. Why? Because, in the final analysis, aikido is what people want it to be, and people want it to be culturally contextualized. It makes it more non-mundane, and this is a big reason that people choose aikido. So, I agree entirely with the poster who says that it stops being aikido when your standard of practice is without dogi or etiquette, not when you train in streetclothes a few times a year.

I think there is a false dichotomy here. Accepting a non-universal definition of aikido does not necessarily require acceptance of a definition that hinges on certain traditional practices derived from a particular cultural context. I think it is perfectly possible to derive a non-universal definition of aikido from aikido's lineage, physics, and technical curriculum. If what I am training has a lineage to Daito-ryu through Ueshiba; contains fundamental movements like irimi, tenkan, etc.; and is built on aikido kihon waza, I think it's aikido, wherever and with whatever cultural trappings it is practiced.

And in reference to the specific point about the bokken, aikido's physical and technical roots in swordsmanship are a perfectly good non-cultural reason to include sword training in aikido.

Chris Li
08-30-2013, 02:12 PM
So...they weren't practicing Aikido at the Asahi Shimbun or at the Kobukan?

Those were before 1942.

Oh yeah? How is Saotome Sensei's etiquette different than that practiced by Osensei, exactly?

Talk to Saito, or rather, any of the old time Iwama guys. Saotome's etiquette isn't even quite the same as the etiquette practiced at Aikikai Hombu. Not that I care about it, but some people seems to think that breaks the transmission.

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
08-30-2013, 02:15 PM
I think there is a false dichotomy here. Accepting a non-universal definition of aikido does not necessarily require acceptance of a definition that hinges on certain traditional practices derived from a particular cultural context. I think it is perfectly possible to derive a non-universal definition of aikido from aikido's lineage, physics, and technical curriculum. If what I am training has a lineage to Daito-ryu through Ueshiba; contains fundamental movements like irimi, tenkan, etc.; and includes aikido kihon waza and more advanced techniques derived from these kihon waza, I think it's aikido, wherever and with whatever cultural trappings it is practiced.

Lineage from Daito ryu and technical curriculum are both totally culturally contextual!

"Physics" is either universal, or also culturally contextual.

Cliff Judge
08-30-2013, 02:18 PM
Those were before 1942.

What does that have to do with it?


Talk to Saito, or rather, any of the old time Iwama guys. Saotome's etiquette isn't even quite the same as the etiquette practiced at Aikikai Hombu. Not that I care about it, but some people seems to think that breaks the transmission.


Howso? What is different about Saotome Sensei's etiquette exactly?

Chris Li
08-30-2013, 02:31 PM
What does that have to do with it?

Do I really have to go through this?

I said "Because if it's a specific culture - say, the culture of O-Sensei's personal dojo, then you ain't got it."

You said "Which personal dojo?"

I said "The only one that he had after 1942 was Iwama."

You said "So...they weren't practicing Aikido at the Asahi Shimbun or at the Kobukan?"

I said "Those were before 1942."

Which was answering your question.


Howso? What is different about Saotome Sensei's etiquette exactly?

Never heard anybody clap when they bow into class at Hombu (for one example). There are others, none of which are important, IMO.

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
08-30-2013, 02:43 PM
Do I really have to go through this?

I said "Because if it's a specific culture - say, the culture of O-Sensei's personal dojo, then you ain't got it."

You said "Which personal dojo?"

I said "The only one that he had after 1942 was Iwama."

You said "So...they weren't practicing Aikido at the Asahi Shimbun or at the Kobukan?"

I said "Those were before 1942."

Which was answering your question.


Actually that's begging the question.

What is the significance of 1942? Did Osensei not have a personal dojo before that?


Never heard anybody clap when they bow into class at Hombu (for one example). There are others, none of which are important, IMO.


None of these unspecified items would constitute a break in cultural transmission anyway.

Dan Richards
08-30-2013, 02:44 PM
Lineage from Daito ryu and technical curriculum are both totally culturally contextual!

"Physics" is either universal, or also culturally contextual.

Yes. The "daito" sword - which is the longer katana - is certainly uniquely Japanese. Daito Ryu and Aikido movements as not just based on universal swordmanship, but specifically the katana, and more specifically the daito katana. Daito Ryu....sorta adds up...

Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese Daito Katana?

Evidently, the daito katana can and has been, in some cases - even with Ueshiba - replaced with a bokken. And more specifically, the daito bokken.

Another question: Is it still aikido if you take away the daito - whether katana or bokken - as the initial framework for aikido techniques. In my opinion, and certainly the opinion of Nishio and others, no. If there is not an understanding and execution of movements that are based on the daito sword, then, no, it's not aikido.

OwlMatt
08-30-2013, 02:46 PM
Lineage from Daito ryu and technical curriculum are both totally culturally contextual

"Physics" is either universal, or also culturally contextual.
Everything is culturally contextual. That doesn't really address what I'm saying, though.

What I am saying is that, contrary to what Christian asserted, it's possible for a definition of aikido to be non-universal without using setting, mode of dress, or social customs as criteria. A definition of aikido based on lineage, physical principles, and technique is still functional and still non-universal.

Chris Li
08-30-2013, 03:08 PM
Actually that's begging the question.

What is the significance of 1942? Did Osensei not have a personal dojo before that?

I never said that he didn't, whats your point?

None of these unspecified items would constitute a break in cultural transmission anyway.

Sure they do. The culture and customs at your dojo are different than the ones that were used when O-Sensei was instructing. That's a break. That you consider the break to be insignificant doesn't eliminate that point, if your position is that a change in the reigi constitutes a "break in transmission".

FWIW, I spoke to Saotome about more than twenty-five years ago, and at that time he didn't care whether people bowed or not, didn't think that it was an important question to consider, and seemed sort of puzzled that anybody would even worry about it.

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
08-30-2013, 03:26 PM
Everything is culturally contextual. That doesn't really address what I'm saying, though.

What I am saying is that, contrary to what Christian asserted, it's possible for a definition of aikido to be non-universal without using setting, mode of dress, or social customs as criteria. A definition of aikido based on lineage, physical principles, and technique is still functional and still non-universal.

I am just pointing out that setting, mode of dress, social customs, lineage, and technique are all entirely of the same class of thing that Christian was talking about. I.e. its Fujis to Galas here. These are all things that are apt to be local to a dojo and handed from teacher to student. Their existence will be, for the most part, not due to a critical process but are more of "that's just how we do it." They are cultural.

Physical principals are possibly not on that list because you haven't defined them - and depending on how you define them, they are also going to be cultural, or they are not going to help you establish a non-universal definition of Aikido.

OwlMatt
08-30-2013, 03:38 PM
I am just pointing out that setting, mode of dress, social customs, lineage, and technique are all entirely of the same class of thing that Christian was talking about. I.e. its Fujis to Galas here. These are all things that are apt to be local to a dojo and handed from teacher to student. Their existence will be, for the most part, not due to a critical process but are more of "that's just how we do it." They are cultural.
And I don't disagree. This is a very good explanation of why these thing are a part of aikido, and perhaps even a case for keeping them in aikido. But neither of those things, I think, answer the central question of the thread.
Physical principals are possibly not on that list because you haven't defined them - and depending on how you define them, they are also going to be cultural, or they are not going to help you establish a non-universal definition of Aikido.
I think this is another false dichotomy. Physics are universal. They are independent of culture. But that doesn't mean that particular ways of utilizing physics cannot help us identify a martial art.

Cliff Judge
08-30-2013, 03:44 PM
I never said that he didn't, whats your point?

Well, Osensei taught different students differently. You seemed confused about that.


Sure they do. The culture and customs at your dojo are different than the ones that were used when O-Sensei was instructing. That's a break. That you consider the break to be insignificant doesn't eliminate that point, if your position is that a change in the reigi constitutes a "break in transmission".


Well, you don't want to get into detail about how you think etiquette and such are different with my teacher than with Osensei, so we won't delve into that. But in general, culture and customs change all the time without there being a break. It is a matter of how drastic they are, the relative standing of the person or persons initiating the change, and in what faith the change is wrought.

Cliff Judge
08-30-2013, 03:46 PM
And I don't disagree. This is a very good explanation of why these thing are a part of aikido, and perhaps even a case for keeping them in aikido. But neither of those things, I think, answer the central question of the thread.

I think this is another false dichotomy. Physics are universal. They are independent of culture. But that doesn't mean that particular ways of utilizing physics cannot help us identify a martial art.

To the extent that they do, you are talking about something that is a cultural contextualizer.

Demetrio Cereijo
08-30-2013, 03:58 PM
You should have put a smiley on this - some people think you are being serious.
I'm totally serious.

Cliff Judge
08-30-2013, 06:05 PM
I'm totally serious.

So...you know it sounds really crazy to say that a garment that has plenty of identical antecedents in Japan is an import from the West, right?

And your comment that there are no elbow or collar grips in jujutsu is so easily shown to be wrong by a quick youtube browse that I must be misunderstanding it.

So do you have a citation you can share?

Dan Richards
08-30-2013, 06:34 PM
So...you know it sounds really crazy to say that a garment that has plenty of identical antecedents in Japan is an import from the West, right?

Cliff, he's right. Look into trousers. The hakama is Japanese in origin. That's Japanese pants.

The pants on the judogi/karategi/aikidogi are not. They are European.

In AIkido we wear Japanese pants (hakama) over European pants (gi pants).

Look into the history of trousers and pants. Horses are figured into that, too. Learn more about how and why some civilizations moved from wearing robes to pants.

Keith Larman
08-30-2013, 06:46 PM
Well, in the loving memory of the horse that has been beaten to death repeatedly in this thread (or would it be the pin-head dancing angels?) I do solemnly swear to wear my rainbow thong under my hakama tonight along with my hello kitty t-shirt. Hold on, wait a minute, I could wear a Japanese school girl outfit under the keikogi and hakama -- that would be "truly" Japanese. So my Aikido will be real! Ooooh, and I can still wear the thong! Yay? Real Aikido because lord knows I've seen a lot of that stuff in true Japanese publications! At least the ones I find when I search for "Japanese Schoolgirl Clothing". But I'm not sure those girls are truly doing Aikido... Wrong costume, eh?

Sorry, back to the angel counting...

All you guys aren't doing it right. Only *my* aikido is the real Aikido (tm, patent pending, etc.) because my wife is genetically Japanese... So there.

Funny how many people have told me I can't polish japanese style swords because I wasn't raised in Japan. So I suppose the japanese kid I met last week with the rainbow hair and body piercings visiting from Tokyo probably has some sort of genetic/collective consciousness of all things Japanese sword. Yeah, I'm sure if I asked him for the difference between okarasu and shinogi zukuri he'd pop right up with an answer... Hmmm, maybe if he's in to anime he would. Ah, hell, I give up... Obviously I need to do something else... Something American. Like making pizza... No, wait, then we'll be arguing New York vs. Chicago style...

"But everyone knows Chicago style is real pizza because that's what I like and have in my area..."

Keith Larman
08-30-2013, 06:48 PM
But is it really Aikido if you don't wear geta outside the dojo? Because you have to know how to walk properly in geta to truly appreciate Japanese movement... And the restriction of them traditional robe thingies you guys are always arguing about...

Dan Richards
08-30-2013, 07:06 PM
Keith, are you channeling Ueshiba?

OwlMatt
08-30-2013, 09:06 PM
To the extent that they do, you are talking about something that is a cultural contextualizer.

Yes, but it still helps us create a non-universal definition of aikido without using setting, clothes, or social customs as criteria, which is my point.

It seems to me that what you are arguing is that cultural context is essential to aikido. I don't think anyone is disputing that point.

Cultural context is inseparable from aikido; it is built right into the technique. And that's kind of my point: even if you take away the dojo, the gi, the bowing, and the clapping, shomenuchi ikkyo is still chock full of cultural context, both generally Japanese context and specific Ueshiba context.

Cliff Judge
08-30-2013, 09:23 PM
Yes, but it still helps us create a non-universal definition of aikido without using setting, clothes, or social customs as criteria, which is my point.

It seems to me that what you are arguing is that cultural context is essential to aikido. I don't think anyone is disputing that point.

Cultural context is inseparable from aikido; it is built right into the technique. And that's kind of my point: even if you take away the dojo, the gi, the bowing, and the clapping, shomenuchi ikkyo is still chock full of cultural context, both generally Japanese context and specific Ueshiba context.

And if you take away the shomenuchi ikkyo, the dojo, gi, and bowingclapping are too.

OwlMatt
08-30-2013, 09:45 PM
And if you take away the shomenuchi ikkyo, the dojo, gi, and bowingclapping are too.

Yes, but a building, an outfit, and a set of social customs do not constitute a martial art in the absence of a technical curriculum.

Peter Boylan
08-31-2013, 12:31 PM
Watching this lovely thread, what I am taking away from the discussion is that maybe there isn't an "Aikido" anymore. It looks like the different lines may have drifted far enough apart that "Aikido" as a proper name doesn't work, and you have to shift to "aikido" as a broad, general class.

Chris Li
08-31-2013, 12:57 PM
Watching this lovely thread, what I am taking away from the discussion is that maybe there isn't an "Aikido" anymore. It looks like the different lines may have drifted far enough apart that "Aikido" as a proper name doesn't work, and you have to shift to "aikido" as a broad, general class.

That's probably been true for longer than many of the folks here have been alive.

OTOH, this thread isn't really about anything fundamental, or even important, IMO.

Anyway, it happens in all martial arts, even the koryu, except there they usually change the name. :D

Best,

Chris

OwlMatt
08-31-2013, 02:07 PM
Watching this lovely thread, what I am taking away from the discussion is that maybe there isn't an "Aikido" anymore. It looks like the different lines may have drifted far enough apart that "Aikido" as a proper name doesn't work, and you have to shift to "aikido" as a broad, general class.

I'm with Chris; I think this is true and has been true for a long time, maybe even going all the way back to Ueshiba's lifetime.

observer
08-31-2013, 02:40 PM
When I read you, I think that the question you are answering can be replaced, "When coming to an opera theatre in shorts instead in a tuxedo, the opera is still an opera or something else?

OwlMatt
08-31-2013, 03:41 PM
When I read you, I think that the question you are answering can be replaced, "When coming to an opera theatre in shorts instead in a tuxedo, the opera is still an opera or something else?

Speaking as a former classical voice student, I can assure everyone that opera is still opera, even when it is watched -- and even performed -- outside of an opera house and in casual clothes.

Peter Boylan
08-31-2013, 05:04 PM
Regarding the development of the judogi, Wayne Muramoto has this to say:

"When I was researching the origins of the white keikogi for an article in Furyu, I found scant historical resources. No one really knows its exact origins, although itĺs pretty clear that Kano Jigoro, the founder of Kodokan judo, was probably involved in its development. He standardized the white cotton, thickly woven practice outfit used by judo players when he developed judo in the late 1800s, early 1900s. Like his own judo, the judogi was probably an amalgam of what he thought were the best, most logical and most practical points of traditional Japanese wear and Western athletic wear. Instead of hakama, he opted for a simple pair of pants and a jacket that could be grappled and pulled and yanked without tearing apart. The simple white outfit was practical as well as philosophically compatible with his concept of modern judo: a Western-style athletic endeavor that nevertheless contained some elements of traditional Japanese style shugyo, or austere mental, spiritual and physical training."

The whole essay is at http://classicbudoka.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/3-the-keikogi-do-clothes-make-the-budoka/

Peter Boylan
08-31-2013, 05:08 PM
Yes. The "daito" sword - which is the longer katana - is certainly uniquely Japanese. Daito Ryu and Aikido movements as not just based on universal swordmanship, but specifically the katana, and more specifically the daito katana. Daito Ryu....sorta adds up...

Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese Daito Katana?.

This should really be a different thread, but I'll bite here. I have never seen any convincing evidence that Aikido movement is based on any style of kenjutsu. If there ever was a connection, I think it was lost a long time ago. I think Aikido movement is based on what works well with the human body at the ranges that Aikido is practiced.

Keith Larman
08-31-2013, 08:24 PM
This should really be a different thread, but I'll bite here. I have never seen any convincing evidence that Aikido movement is based on any style of kenjutsu. If there ever was a connection, I think it was lost a long time ago. I think Aikido movement is based on what works well with the human body at the ranges that Aikido is practiced.

I'll bite as well because I think there is something really odd about the original comment about daito ryu and swords.

The word daito in sword parlance simply means, well, large sword. Dai or O (ya know, O-sensei) means "big or large or great". The kanji for To here means "sword". It is often used if you're referring to the large sword in a daisho (meaning long and short sword "set"). So the katana is a daito while the tanto or wakizashi of a set is the sho (or shoto).

My understanding is that daito in Daito Ryu refers to a different kanji entirely for To. Something along the lines of "Great East". Same dai, different to.

Peter Boylan
08-31-2013, 08:37 PM
I'll bite as well because I think there is something really odd about the original comment about daito ryu and swords.

The word daito in sword parlance simply means, well, large sword. Dai or O (ya know, O-sensei) means "big or large or great". The kanji for To here means "sword". It is often used if you're referring to the large sword in a daisho (meaning long and short sword "set"). So the katana is a daito while the tanto or wakizashi of a set is the sho (or shoto).

My understanding is that daito in Daito Ryu refers to a different kanji entirely for To. Something along the lines of "Great East". Same dai, different to.

Keith, you are quite correct. The "daito" of Daito Ryu is 大東 (great south) while the the other is 大刀 (big sword). 大刀 is a pretty uncommon usage. Usually they go with 太刀(big sword) or just katana 刀. I will add however that usage rules in kanji are a mess, and I don't ever expect to fully understand them.

Devon Smith
08-31-2013, 09:02 PM
Correction: 東 = East.

Devon

Cady Goldfield
08-31-2013, 09:07 PM
Speaking as a former classical voice student, I can assure everyone that opera is still opera, even when it is watched -- and even performed -- outside of an opera house and in casual clothes.

You don't have to be a fat lady with a shield and horned helmet?! :cool:
There still is a universal terminology for music, and a subset of that for opera, no?
The terminology, and music itself, allows opera singers and musicians from around the world to speak the same language, whether their native tongue is Japanese, English, Khmer or Italian.

But, would you perform an Italian opera in Nordic attire? Or Wagnerian works dressed as the cast of "Carmen"? Wouldn't something be missing, graphically, if you just did these works in street clothes? How would you be able to tell who the characters were, or where they were, or their stations in life? Opera is opera with or sans attire or opera hall, but it's even more so when it is dressed in the trappings that its composers had in mind when they wrote the pieces.

With martial disciplines, we can learn just the physical skill set, or we can incorporate a cultural and historic context to what we're doing as a way of stepping from the workaday world into a training environment in which our adherence to rei, specialized terminology and dress become a form of meditation that enhances our focus. That's how I see it, at least, and in that context it is not outdated or ludicrous at all.

OwlMatt
08-31-2013, 09:50 PM
You don't have to be a fat lady with a shield and horned helmet?! :cool:
There still is a universal terminology for music, and a subset of that for opera, no?
The terminology, and music itself, allows opera singers and musicians from around the world to speak the same language, whether their native tongue is Japanese, English, Khmer or Italian.

But, would you perform an Italian opera in Nordic attire? Or Wagnerian works dressed as the cast of "Carmen"? Wouldn't something be missing, graphically, if you just did these works in street clothes? How would you be able to tell who the characters were, or where they were, or their stations in life? Opera is opera with or sans attire or opera hall, but it's even more so when it is dressed in the trappings that its composers had in mind when they wrote the pieces.

With martial disciplines, we can learn just the physical skill set, or we can incorporate a cultural and historic context to what we're doing as a way of stepping from the workaday world into a training environment in which our adherence to rei, specialized terminology and dress become a form of meditation that enhances our focus. That's how I see it, at least, and in that context it is not outdated or ludicrous at all.

Your opera analogy breaks down in light of the way opera is often performed. Many modern opera companies (even world-class ones like the Lyric in Chicago) got bored with traditional costumes and sets a long time ago. I've seen Pagliacci performed in a post-apocalyptic wasteland and The Barber of Seville performed in a dream world where furniture floats near the ceiling.

Next, I don't think anyone in this thread is arguing that anything is outdated or ludicrous. The question at hand is: if you take certain things away from aikido that are not part of the physical, technical practice of the art, is it still aikido? And when you say, "Opera is opera with or sans attire or opera hall," it sounds to me like you think the answer is yes.

In regards to your specific point about terminology, I think most activities that are widely practiced internationally have a language that serves as their international medium. Russian tennis players know English tennis terminology, German fencers know French fencing terminology, and I, an American musican, know Italian musical terminology. International terminology is a useful thing to have. We keep it around, I think, because it's useful, not because it is sacred or essential.

Keith Larman
08-31-2013, 11:02 PM
Keith, you are quite correct. The "daito" of Daito Ryu is 大東 (great south) while the the other is 大刀 (big sword). 大刀 is a pretty uncommon usage. Usually they go with 太刀(big sword) or just katana 刀. I will add however that usage rules in kanji are a mess, and I don't ever expect to fully understand them.

Actually daito is used rather often in the world of those interested in the history of the Japanese sword and/or collecting of nihonto. If it's any more clear, daito is a generic term for long sword. Tachi refer to the earlier swords worn edge down slung from hangers. The "daito" of this period are called tachi in specific because of both their shapes and also their functional mode of wearing. Tachi will have the smith's signature on the "other" side of the nakago as compared to katana of later history (worn edge up). Many tachi were shortened from their originally very long and graceful shapes in to shorter versions more amenable to the "new style" of wear. So given that context collectors will tend to refer to any blade longer than a wakizashi as a daito especially if they're trying to avoid making any assertion as to more specifics about its provenance. So a marvelous suriage'd Go Yoshihiro I was quite honored to have spent time studying a few years ago was a tachi shortened at some point and remounted as an uchi katana. It is a daito as it was still longer than a wakizashi. Is it a tachi still? Is it a katana? It depends on how you look at it. It was originally a tachi suriage'd (shortened) into a size amenable to wearing as a katana. But still a daito.

As I said it is also quite commonly used when you have sword either forged as a set with a long and short blade *or* you have a long and short sword *mounted* to go together as a matched set. Both together are considered a daisho with the daito being the long sword, the shoto being the short one. The daito could be a katana or tachi. The shoto could be a wakizashi or tanto.

So in the collecting/studying nihonto crowd daito is a rather generic term simply meaning "long sword". There are more specific words for specific examples of long swords.

Yeah, it's that kanji thing again. And not to mention a greater than 1000 year history with all sorts of terms going in and out of vogue. You can go nuts keeping track of the various terms that often refer the bloody near the exact same thing.

Attached is one of my favorite pictures ever. There is a kanji that looks *similar* to the kanji on his shirt that is pronounced the same that means "samurai". Unfortunately the kanji he has actually means hemorrhoid.

Janet Rosen
09-01-2013, 12:18 AM
When I read you, I think that the question you are answering can be replaced, "When coming to an opera theatre in shorts instead in a tuxedo, the opera is still an opera or something else?

:) exactly!

Janet Rosen
09-01-2013, 12:21 AM
Your opera analogy breaks down in light of the way opera is often performed. Many modern opera companies (even world-class ones like the Lyric in Chicago) got bored with traditional costumes and sets a long time ago. I've seen Pagliacci performed in a post-apocalyptic wasteland and The Barber of Seville performed in a dream world where furniture floats near the ceiling.

Next, I don't think anyone in this thread is arguing that anything is outdated or ludicrous. The question at hand is: if you take certain things away from aikido that are not part of the physical, technical practice of the art, is it still aikido? And when you say, "Opera is opera with or sans attire or opera hall," it sounds to me like you think the answer is yes.

In regards to your specific point about terminology, I think most activities that are widely practiced internationally have a language that serves as their international medium. Russian tennis players know English tennis terminology, German fencers know French fencing terminology, and I, an American musican, know Italian musical terminology. International terminology is a useful thing to have. We keep it around, I think, because it's useful, not because it is sacred or essential.

Thank you for saying what I was thinking, and saying it better than I would have.

Keith Larman
09-01-2013, 10:33 AM
And after going off on that *long* tangent about daito, kanji, and the inherent danger of reading in to things via translation, I forgot to mention the one thing that was more relevant to this thread (although I think it all is relevant, actually, and symptomatic of the thinking that causes debate where none is really necessary). If you look at the history of the Japanese sword it was a history that constantly morphed, shifted, and at a few times was almost completely lost. Floods ravaged Bizen at one point wiping out a lot of sword making "technology". The relative peace of the Tokugawa era actually ushered in a great deal of changes in swords, some of which many complain resulted in inferior swords (hence the prized status of Koto (the old sword era) as compared to "Shinto" (the new sword era). And of course there was the Meiji restoration, the prohibition on wearing swords, and then of course WWII which almost completely decimated the craft. However, things went on, things changed, and new stuff emerged. Meaning for anything that is alive in a new day and age is touched in some manner by the time. Even koryu arts see subtle changes over time -- the real difference is that they've been around longer. Swords *were* influenced by foreign imports such as foreign steel (the so-called "Namban steel") as an example. And the transition from wearing swords as tachi, slung low from hangers to wearing as uchigatana (thrust through the obi edge up) didn't happen overnight. It took over a century (or maybe longer) for the "style" to complete the change. And I would bet you could find someone who still slides on all the old armor and wears a tachi hung from the belt instead. The point I'm making is that every change probably generated the same debate we're seeing here, with the "traditionalists" saying "it's just not swordsmanship anymore" or whatever. And they'll list the reasons why including how it's tradition, how doing it this way rather than that way teaches different lessons.

So they quibble about what to call this new fangled thing. But over the long term, well, whatever evolves and whatever sticks ends up being whatever it is called. Sure, the debate can be important if we're concerned with losing important things or if we feel that something critical to the very "soul" of the art is being lost -- The introduction of mass produced blades in WWII followed by the allies banning weapons, swords included, was almost the death of the traditional sword craft (thank God IMHO exceptions were eventually made for traditional craft). And yet even today in the traditional craft the very exceptions that allowed the traditional craft to survive the aftermath of WWII are the things modern smiths often push up against, bristling at what they see as stagnating rules preventing creativity and experimentation, all critical for the survival of an art.

Anyway, things evolve. Things do what they do. Heck, the analogy of a river flowing is used to describe traditional ryuha as it is. It flows, it changes slowly, it sometimes takes a hard left turn. It is the nature of the beast. And saying "oh, that's not *really* this or that" strikes me as short sighted and a narrow point of view. History will decide in the long run. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be extremely careful about shifting too much too fast -- of course. I've got stories about that problem as well in Japanese swords. Mistakes, omissions, losses of critical information due to those who really shouldn't be innovating deciding they know what they're doing. Heck, there is no shortage of examples of people like that on this forum IMHO.

But enough rambling for me for today. Have a great day everyone!

Peter Boylan
09-01-2013, 01:47 PM
Correction: 東 = East.

Devon

Thanks Devon. I have once again proven that I am directionally impaired in all the languages I speak.

Peter Boylan
09-01-2013, 01:51 PM
Actually daito is used rather often in the world of those interested in the history of the Japanese sword and/or collecting of nihonto.

<snip>

So in the collecting/studying nihonto crowd daito is a rather generic term simply meaning "long sword". There are more specific words for specific examples of long swords.

Yeah, it's that kanji thing again. And not to mention a greater than 1000 year history with all sorts of terms going in and out of vogue. You can go nuts keeping track of the various terms that often refer the bloody near the exact same thing.
.

Ok, I'll take your word for it. I mostly hang out with sword swingers and a few smiths in Japan. I don't really do much with the collecting crowd. Amongst the sword swingers I know, I haven't run into the term much at all.

Keith Larman
09-01-2013, 05:00 PM
Ok, I'll take your word for it. I mostly hang out with sword swingers and a few smiths in Japan. I don't really do much with the collecting crowd. Amongst the sword swingers I know, I haven't run into the term much at all.

I haven't heard it used often in the sword swinger crowd myself. I hear it conversationally occasionally among collectors, however.

OwlMatt
09-01-2013, 05:46 PM
Thank you for saying what I was thinking, and saying it better than I would have.

Aww, shucks. :)

IvLabush
09-02-2013, 03:13 AM
Anyway, things evolve. Things do what they do. Heck, the analogy of a river flowing is used to describe traditional ryuha as it is. It flows, it changes slowly, it sometimes takes a hard left turn.
What a lovely comparison! Traditions changes to fit modern times and the most important factor of it is people IMHO. Something that can't adapt to modern times near by oblivion. But it's still question: is traditions itself changes or traditions gets new shape only?
Have practice aikido in clothe other than keikogi influence on aikido traditions? Seems to me it's personal attitude more than rule.

Scott Harrington
09-02-2013, 12:50 PM
Long Thread, some meandering.

On the comparison on Koryu and Western Gun Shooters (generally 19th century American.)

There is an organization SASS -- Single Action Shooters Society, that involves dressing in period costume of the west, complete with gamblers, whores (excuse me -- prostitutes), ladies, cowboys, lawmen, and shootists. Good for some history, TV show history, some fiction, and some laughs. BUT they compete with something called LIVE AMMO for accuracy and speed in matches (against targets, of course). So they are very capable in shooting Shotguns, Winchesters, and Colt six gun revolvers. Very Competent. Some koryu do not even cut things. Some do.

Aikido is a late 20th century construct derived from a late 19th century Jujutsu derived from much earlier sources. It is a pleasant mix of philosophy, body movement, smattering of Japanese culture, on occasion weapon works, and jujutsu techniques with several different operating systems (ki, flowing, muscular, technique driven, aiki (supposedly) and a veritable mix of the previous.

From NLP (neuro linguistic programming), we get the theory that as we eliminate various big and small factors you should be able to distill the actual operating principle. What you do with the remnant is up to you.

Japanese culture / clothing is just as applicable as Western Clothing. Example - six gun shooting depends on single action mechanical firing system which requires a certain kind of holster and loading pattern (holds six, load five).

Modern pistol shooting have gone to automatics with magazines and has its own peculiarities -- some applicable to the street, police, and military -- some not so.

Most Martial arts are attracted to an art, not just by its techniques / operating system but also its cultural roots. Some end up being Japanopiles / Sinophiles / Whateverphiles. Some do not.

Back to NLP, it is rare for a martial art to be taught without certain rules (damage usually results in impromptu or unorganized practice). Cultural roots usually provide this in some manner (bowing, partner practice, etc.)

On a side note, "the 2 reps on a side, let's change" to me is the WORST training method out there. No coach or music teacher or circus trainer would EVER follow this system.

In closing, on the Western gun fighting draw competition, Takeda ryu actually does this in a competition form with drawing swords. Go figure.

In double closing . Statement by Demetrio Cereijo "There's no collar & elbow grip tradition in japanese jujutsu." -- This is wrong on so many levels.

Scott Harrington

Lorien Lowe
09-05-2013, 01:54 AM
A couple of people have mentioned school or military uniforms, but I didn't see anyone really get into *why* schools and the military require uniforms (it's late, I'm tired, I might have missed it). Part of the reason that schools require uniforms is that it makes all of the students look similar, regardless of their backgrounds. A person could wear pants with the crotch at their knees and their underwear showing outside the dojo, but when they put on the dogi they're just another student, no different from the guy who wears a business suit outside of the dojo. The military uniform is an extension of that, with internal rank added: the guy who usually wears the baggy pants might be a sandan, and the business man a gokyu, and their relative ranks in the dojo are broadcasted as different from their relative ranks outside of the dojo in part because of their training uniforms. For most humans, hierarchy matters even if it's not as overtly observed as in the dojo. Some other ranked, universal exercise clothing would also work... but, as someone else already said, why fix what ain't broken?

Another thing that people are touching on but haven't (as far as I have picked up on) completely elucidated is that what we do every day in the dojo isn't necessarily the same thing as what we do 'in real life' or 'on the street.' If we execute a technique on a drunken guy at a party without bowing to him, it might or might not be 'aikido' but whether or not it's aikido doesn't have much to do with the presence or absence of a bow in that case. On the other hand, if you *almost always* or *almost never* bow while training in aikido, I think that will impact your overall practice and whether or not you should consider it 'aikido.'

apologies if I'm rehashing things that have already been discussed.

Demetrio Cereijo
09-05-2013, 05:18 AM
In double closing . Statement by Demetrio Cereijo "There's no collar & elbow grip tradition in japanese jujutsu." -- This is wrong on so many levels.

I'm not even going to dignify that with a response.

Cliff Judge
09-05-2013, 07:00 AM
I'm not even going to dignify that with a response.

I am just going to assume it is a language barrier thing that makes you seem to be confidently asserting erroneous facts when in reality you have no idea what you are talking about.

Demetrio Cereijo
09-05-2013, 07:44 AM
Language barrier, ignorance or awareness about traditional jujutsu having been developed in (and for engagements in) a weapons culture (where collar & elbow gripping the opponent Judo style meant being gutted), you can assume what you want... or provide koryu jujutsu densho to show how Judo style gripping was common and widely used before Kano and how I have no idea about what I┤m talking about.

Cliff Judge
09-05-2013, 08:39 AM
Yagyu Shingan ryu:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzTCQk2KHyQ

Takenouchi ryu:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3ijOM7wxeo

Techniques from eri dori are extremely common among armored systems. They are so prevalent, in fact, that grabbing an opponent by the collar and throwing them down was clearly a standard battle tactic.

As for sode dori, quite common among the jujutsu systems that accomodated plains-clothes situations, such as Tenshin shin yo ryu:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_9MtlLsrjU

(nice one at 3:48).

Daito ryu has a number of kata with sleeve grabs as well.

lbb
09-05-2013, 08:43 AM
I wear a hakama.

It is made of a blended permanent-press fabric.

Debate. Discuss.

(or better yet...eh, never mind)

Demetrio Cereijo
09-13-2013, 10:59 AM
Yagyu Shingan ryu:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzTCQk2KHyQ

Takenouchi ryu:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3ijOM7wxeo

Techniques from eri dori are extremely common among armored systems. They are so prevalent, in fact, that grabbing an opponent by the collar and throwing them down was clearly a standard battle tactic.

As for sode dori, quite common among the jujutsu systems that accomodated plains-clothes situations, such as Tenshin shin yo ryu:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_9MtlLsrjU

(nice one at 3:48).

Daito ryu has a number of kata with sleeve grabs as well.

There's no collar and elbow gripping in these clips.

Cliff Judge
09-14-2013, 09:35 PM
There's no collar and elbow gripping in these clips.

Oh. Well then I agree with your whole thing. :D

BEleanor
09-14-2013, 09:52 PM
When I put on a hakama and bow, does it mean the same thing to me as it does to someone whose culture that belongs to? I doubt it. I doubt it would even if I became fluent in Japanese and lived in Japan (though I might get closer). It means something but what I am not sure. If aikido is not techniques, nor clothing, nor manners....maybe it's practice. Maybe it's empty.

B

jonreading
09-16-2013, 11:52 AM
There's no collar and elbow gripping in these clips.

To be fair, I do not think I can recall seeing a judo match where uke grabs tori with a classic lapel/sleeve grab. I have only seen that classic grab when performing kata. Usually, I see a single grab that works its way into a sleeve/lapel right before a throw. I cannot advocate for a point of origin, but I feel sorry for the poor sucker that grabs with two hands without kuzushi.

This is one of our judo guys, Mark Fletcher:
http://youtu.be/QkZfwvAfyv0
For those of you that know Mark, he is scary.

You can see him work his grab in this clip; he actually breaks back to a single grab to advance to a back grip, too.

I bring this up to illustrate 2 things:
1. While judo is commonly thought of a Japanese, it is a world sport that has been influenced in tradition by countries other than Japan Just look at how badly the Olympic Committee can screw up the sport... So does that mean it is not Judo? Notwithstanding sport v. kodokan
2. I think we can (and do) mistake tradition with instruction. Both of them get screwed up with application. For example, if I do not teach striking in aikido, does that mean:
A. There is no striking in traditional aikido
B. Your basic knowledge of striking is sufficient to exclude that instruction
C. If performed correctly, waza in application rarely needs striking
D. I do not know striking and have excluded it from the curriculum
I have heard all three options expressed by aikido instructors at some point, even recently. Option D is unfortunate, but true.

lars beyer
09-16-2013, 12:53 PM
For me, dressing like I do and like the others do when practising is a gesture showing my connection to a certain group. So whether we chose to stick with etiquette or not is all the same I believe.
It┤s a matter of choosing whether to stay inside or outside a certain context.
Maybe.

On a personal level, I believe putting your heart in whatever you do is important, even when it comes to dressing up. Sort of like the inside being projected on the outside I guess..
Anyway I never liked to show up at a wedding reception all dressed up in beachwear and like so I don┤t like to show up for practise in my pajamas.

Cheers
Lars

hughrbeyer
09-18-2013, 06:07 PM
The dress (and etiquette) of Aikido is just part of the ritual. According to the adage, dreams are how our unconscious mind speaks to the conscious; ritual is how the conscious mind speaks back. As humans, we create ritual around everything we do that matters to us. As Zen master John Daido Loori used to say, there's ritual to everything, even a baseball game.

The key aspect of ritual is you don't have to believe it, or mean it, or think it--you just have to do it. The meaning comes from the doing. Every Christmas you can fuss over putting up the snow village--it's a hassle and it never comes out quite right. Then one year you declare you're not going to do it--and your children all tell you it won't be Christmas without the snow village. The meaning was in the doing, not in your attitude towards it.

So in Aikido. It doesn't really matter what you think about the pleats on your hakama or your bow to the shomen--they're part of the ritual you have made of your Aikido (if you use them). They are their own meaning.

But that's *your* Aikido. Or mine, anyway. Saying they define Aikido is like saying if you don't speak with an Arkansas accent, you're not speaking English.

---
This post brought to you by a Dark & Stormy or two drunk while sitting in the sun on San Francisco's Embarcadero. The poster reserves the right to disavow the contents upon sober reflection.

CitoMaramba
09-19-2013, 09:03 AM
Is this aikido?

6r_d8rLNFlI

Cliff Judge
09-19-2013, 09:12 AM
Is this aikido?


It is certainly a demonstration of the techniques used in Aikido training.

NTT
10-17-2013, 04:09 AM
To the question is this aikido? I would not answer that a demonstration of technique is aikido. In the same way I don't think aikido exists outside training.
I remember seeing at an exhibition at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, France, a picture from Ancient Egypt that was definitely ikkyo. How many ways are there to do an arm lock on a down coming sword? Not that many.
So aikido shares its technique with many other arts through time and space.
To come back to the initial subject, I believe that aikido without the Japanese layers would be most of the time a reflection of one's self in the mirror. We need to go out of our way to really study otherwise we end up searching for comfort and habits.
So what would be classical French fencing without "panache" and leather and all the bowing? Self satisfied technique.

ryback
10-19-2013, 11:59 PM
Well, in my opinion, if you strip aikido from it's etiquette, protocol and dressing it wouldn't be aikido anymore, it wouldn't even qualify for a true budo.
Aikido is not a matter of personal definition but a complete martial art. There are people who are making convenient choices based on their personal opinions, so we have schools that practice no weapons because it seems useless, schools that don't adopt the proper etiquette, because they see no point in it but then these choices are showing badly on their technique.
You can make, serve and drink tea without performing the tea ceremony, it would taste the same. But you cannot call it "tea ceremony" anymore it would be mere "tea drinking". In the same manner you can practice kote gaeshi effectively without the etiquette or hakama. It can be a good disarming technique and combat method. But it wouldn't be a martial art anymore.
Studying the culture of any country by reading books is a very different thing from practicing a martial art as a way of life. Stripping it from any of it's core elements out of convenience would only leave your practice poorer...

Chris Li
10-20-2013, 12:51 AM
Well, in my opinion, if you strip aikido from it's etiquette, protocol and dressing it wouldn't be aikido anymore, it wouldn't even qualify for a true budo.
Aikido is not a matter of personal definition but a complete martial art. There are people who are making convenient choices based on their personal opinions, so we have schools that practice no weapons because it seems useless, schools that don't adopt the proper etiquette, because they see no point in it but then these choices are showing badly on their technique.
You can make, serve and drink tea without performing the tea ceremony, it would taste the same. But you cannot call it "tea ceremony" anymore it would be mere "tea drinking". In the same manner you can practice kote gaeshi effectively without the etiquette or hakama. It can be a good disarming technique and combat method. But it wouldn't be a martial art anymore.
Studying the culture of any country by reading books is a very different thing from practicing a martial art as a way of life. Stripping it from any of it's core elements out of convenience would only leave your practice poorer...

Morihei Ueshiba, of course, changed all kinds of things - including etiquette, protocol and dressing, and it still seems to have remained budo. For that matter, if you can't change things without Aikido dissapearing then it has already dissapeared, because nobody, not even the Iwama folks, trains just the same way that Morihei Ueshiba did.

All budo, for that matter has changed, and continues to change, over time. People don't wear quite what they used to wear, they don't behave quite the way that they used to behave. Things move on.

Practicing a martial art as a way of life has very little, IMO, to do with funny clothes that people didn't even wear 100 years ago anyway.

Best,

Chris

Budd
10-20-2013, 01:23 PM
Chris, not that I have any entitlement nor means to do so - but I'd like to award IPPON to this post. :)

Morihei Ueshiba, of course, changed all kinds of things - including etiquette, protocol and dressing, and it still seems to have remained budo. For that matter, if you can't change things without Aikido dissapearing then it has already dissapeared, because nobody, not even the Iwama folks, trains just the same way that Morihei Ueshiba did.

All budo, for that matter has changed, and continues to change, over time. People don't wear quite what they used to wear, they don't behave quite the way that they used to behave. Things move on.

Practicing a martial art as a way of life has very little, IMO, to do with funny clothes that people didn't even wear 100 years ago anyway.

Best,

Chris

hughrbeyer
10-20-2013, 04:28 PM
This gets back to the question of what ritual is. People get attached to particular ritual because of the meaning they've assigned to it, which comes from the context they learned it in. All those elements of proper attitude, intentional practice, shugyo and misogi--which are, of course, valuable in themselves--become associated with the ritual in which they are embedded. It's perfectly reasonable to ask, if you throw out the ritual, how do you ensure you maintain the qualities the ritual points you towards. And I think it's fair to say that if you *don't* maintain those qualities, you have a nice sport but not a martial art.

aikidark
10-21-2013, 07:54 AM
Is it still the military (as in martial) if you take away the weapons, saluting, rank, training system, uniforms, structure, discipline, rituals, rites, and honor? Now can you do aikido if you strip these things away,sure, but doing a martial art and practising a martial art are two different things.

Keith Larman
10-21-2013, 08:35 AM
Is a banana split still a banana split if you don't put on peanuts? Then how many peanuts, exactly, should be on one banana split in order for it to still be banana split?

Ooooh, or even more controversial, what if you use pistachios instead? Is it still a banana split?

Oh, and do we have to use Cavendish bananas, or are some of the less common varieties okay too. You know that 99.9% of all banana splits are made with Cavendish bananas. But what about the seeming apropos named "ice cream" bananas? They of course smaller so it changes the look and feel of the banana split. And it is still a banana... But it looks different. And the banana itself tastes different, has a different consistency... And virtually no one uses them.

aikidark
10-21-2013, 12:21 PM
Interesting analogy, Kieth: "How martial arts is like a banana split..."

I also practice BJJ, which comes from judo, but I can tell you I am not practicing judo ;-)

Demetrio Cereijo
10-21-2013, 01:22 PM
I also practice BJJ, which comes from judo, but I can tell you I am not practicing judo ;-)

BJJ = Basically Just Judo

:D

Budd
10-21-2013, 01:26 PM
BJJ = Basically Just Judo

:D

I thought it was originally BJJK and they dropped the K

~Basically Just Judo (Kosen)~

:cool:

Kevin Leavitt
10-21-2013, 02:24 PM
Is it still the military (as in martial) if you take away the weapons, saluting, rank, training system, uniforms, structure, discipline, rituals, rites, and honor? Now can you do aikido if you strip these things away,sure, but doing a martial art and practising a martial art are two different things.

Yes we call it Special Forces! :)

Demetrio Cereijo
10-21-2013, 02:36 PM
I thought it was originally BJJK and they dropped the K

~Basically Just Judo (Kosen)~

:cool:

IIRC, kōtō senmon gakkō was still not implanted when Maeda left Japan. Anyway, Kosen judo was kiddy Judo. :)

aikidark
10-21-2013, 02:53 PM
Yes we call it Special Forces! :)

Really? There is no discipline, uniforms, training system, rituals, rites or honor, weapons, rank or saluting in Special Forces? Where do I sign up?