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tarik
02-02-2015, 10:17 PM
Yamada sensei, in the linked interview (http://www.aikido-yamada.eu/index.php/sensei/interview/) states:


As I said before, what is good about aikido is also the problem of aikido. I don't call aikido ‘budo' anymore because what makes Aikido so popular is its flexibility, lack of competition, no physical requirements. Anybody can practice. That is a good part of aikido. I'm always happy to see people who have a physical problem that would prevent them from practicing other martial arts enjoying themselves with aikido. That is the beauty of Aikido. If Aikido were pure budo, it wouldn't be so popular. But unfortunately some people use aikido's popularity in the wrong way, to build their own power.


I tend to agree. Much of the aikido I've encountered and seen shared on youtube does not quality as a 'budo', at least according to my slightly more scholarly approach to budo (compared to when I started on my path).

I feel that way to the extent that, even though I love the people I started aikido with and feel that for a number of them they are seeking a budo practice, I left mainline aikido and switched to an aikibudo training curriculum and approach that I felt more closely modeled my growing understanding of budo.

It seems that Yamada (and a few other shihan I've both read and had private conversations with over the years) perceive the same, that aikido, for the most part, is NOT budo any longer, even though it came from budo. I personally feel that this is perfectly fine (even if not for me), but only if practitioners and teachers understand and communicate that about their practice.

But what do you think/feel? Is aikido a budo?

phitruong
02-03-2015, 06:29 AM
what is budo? can flower arranging or calligraphy be budo? or playing go (possibly went)?

Cliff Judge
02-03-2015, 07:56 AM
I agree that Aikido is a flexible, creative practice that allows for spontaneity and expression, and that its something that is for EVERYONE no matter what their age, physical characteristics, or background.

But this is totally in line with how I define budo, as long as the practitioner is willing to take the training seriously, and push themselves as much as they can. A budo is a system of self-refinement that is derived from systems of bujutsu. Those were also systems of self-refinement but they were geared towards very specific types of self-refinement and budo is more of a personal journey for the individual to be a better member of society.

The reason why I would argue that arbitrary, difficult endeavors like tea ceremony or drawing or playing music are not budo is that the point isn't simply that budo is difficult and you have to push yourself, it is that the dojo is a laboratory that sets up controlled stresses that evoke (but can never turly bring about, not even the older bujutsu systems) the moment of life or death during which the founders of the old systems really had their moments of enlightenment. That's sort of the topic which is "discussed" in budo training. But this is a path that should be available to anyone and everyone.

Cliff Judge
02-03-2015, 10:23 AM
Tarik, what do you consider a budo? And what do you think Yamada Sensei considers a budo?

tarik
02-03-2015, 03:47 PM
Tarik, what do you consider a budo?

A martial way. Bujutsu are the martial science or techniques. One cannot practice budo without bujutsu, IMO. One is being, one is doing.

I think that there is a dramatic difference between saying that this is a path that should be available to anyone and everyone and that anyone and everyone is actually capable of following it.

And what do you think Yamada Sensei considers a budo?

You'd have to ask him.

Janet Rosen
02-03-2015, 05:32 PM
I think that there is a dramatic difference between saying that this is a path that should be available to anyone and everyone and that anyone and everyone is actually capable of following it.

I nice distinction that seems to me to apply to many endeavors in life.

Cliff Judge
02-03-2015, 09:40 PM
A martial way. Bujutsu are the martial science or techniques. One cannot practice budo without bujutsu, IMO. One is being, one is doing.

I think that there is a dramatic difference between saying that this is a path that should be available to anyone and everyone and that anyone and everyone is actually capable of following it.


Interesting. In what way would one be incapable of following the path of budo?

Jonathan
02-03-2015, 10:13 PM
But what do you think/feel? Is aikido a budo?

Is there some objective definition of budo to which this discussion can be held, or is the definition of budo whatever the individual decides it is? If the latter situation holds, then I would suggest that the term "budo" is largely meaningless.

tarik
02-03-2015, 10:15 PM
Interesting. In what way would one be incapable of following the path of budo?

That's up the individual. I cannot imagine something that would stop me from practicing, even if I end up like my father (a quadrapalegic caused by a chronic illness we share). I think people are almost always capable of far more than they themselves believe, but it is entirely up to them to make the decision.

I recently had a prospective student (with past experience in the Yoshinkan lineage) decide after the first practice that he wasn't capable of the ukemi necessary to practice, even after I discussed the issue with him. His call.

I've also asked people to leave the mat because of their behavior (again, a choice) on more than one occasion. In some cases this involved drug use, in all cases it had to do with safety or inappropriateness. Some were allowed back, some were not. I don't think I need to go on.

But why would Yamada sensei himself (and he's not the first shihan by any means) say such a thing? Some shihan even dedicated their practice and leadership to "fixing" this issue, if it even needs fixing.

tarik
02-03-2015, 10:50 PM
Is there some objective definition of budo to which this discussion can be held, or is the definition of budo whatever the individual decides it is? If the latter situation holds, then I would suggest that the term "budo" is largely meaningless.

Well, I believe that there is a legitimate, scholarly body of work to demonstrate the concept of budo.

Many do seem to maintain that they can re-define it to suit them, which of course, means that discussion is fruitless.

Tim Ruijs
02-04-2015, 02:53 AM
Perhaps Yamada is getting 'softer' in the sense that learning to 'fight' is no longer his prime objective. But having fun and getting people to meet eachother is. Aikido evolves into dance, for lack of better word.
I am in a traditional lineage (Nobuyoshi Tamura, Alain Peyrache) and would say Aikido is Budo.
It depends on you, the practitioner whether you are someone doing Aikido, or want to become Aikidoka.
The Aikidoka does Budo...

MRoh
02-04-2015, 04:15 AM
But what do you think/feel? Is aikido a budo?

O Sensei called it a Budo.

He said: Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow.
But which way works for one, must not be the best for each other individual.

tarik
02-04-2015, 08:00 AM
O Sensei called it a Budo.

And I agree with him, but he is no longer with us and it's up to us to define our practice.

He said: Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow.
But which way works for one, must not be the best for each other individual.

I guess it was touched on earlier in the thread. What is a budo, and what makes something a budo or not a budo?

Apparently there is enough of a scholarly definition that exists that even high level practitioners are beginning to state that aikido may not match that definition any more. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

[Note: I've heard plenty more of this in private conversations than in public, except for the usual putting down of aikido by some.]

Jonathan
02-04-2015, 09:15 AM
Well, I believe that there is a legitimate, scholarly body of work to demonstrate the concept of budo.


Can you summarize what that body of scholarly writing indicates is budo? I have my own ideas about what budo is, but they would not, I think, be exactly "scholarly." I would be content to defer to a well-researched and well-reasoned definition of the term "budo." I suspect that if you can't offer such a definition, this thread may end up, as many do on Aikiweb, with endless quibbling over terms. Mind you, you're likely to get people who will question and argue about it regardless.

Many do seem to maintain that they can re-define it to suit them, which of course, means that discussion is fruitless.

Yes. Essentially, you're asking for at least a partial definition of what Aikido is, which people on Aikiweb, perhaps overly-influenced by the all-pervading postmodernism of western culture, are loathe to do.

I don't think that Aikido, as it is practiced generally, can rightly be described as budo.

Regards,

Jon.

NagaBaba
02-04-2015, 09:22 AM
I think it is pretty easy – simply maintain martial principles in your practice, otherwise it becomes McDojo.

Example – when an attacker strikes a punch to the face, it must be a strike (with power adapted to the level of the partner) but still a strike with some power that not only reaches physically an opponent, but actually creates a physical and psychical threat. If defender does not move, a punch should be able to move his head back at least an inch. The same goes for various grabs, shomen uchi and yokomen uchi (that should move defender physically from his position). Each attack has his own martial goal to achieve.

Other example would be breaking balance before a throw. And not only pretending it (by extending his arm), but physically affecting the center of attacker in the way, that nage becomes his only point of support. If nage removes himself suddenly, uke should helplessly fall down.

From martial point of view it is not correct to simply present your arm (or any other part of your body) as a gift to your partner so he can do a technique. If an attack is not changing state of nage, it is meaningless and defender doesn’t have to do anything, there is nothing to defend against.

That’s how McDojo is created.

Erick Mead
02-04-2015, 09:57 AM
What is a budo, and what makes something a budo or not a budo? Literally, a budo is a way of war. More expansively -- it is an approach to engaging any type of violent conflict. Historically, aiki developed as a practical art applied in warfare. Aikido engages conflict in a way that is designed to eliminate collision, force on force, and similar impact-type mechanics (even though those options should always be presently available in the application, even if this is not the purpose nor the result) -- That does not make aikido any less warlike or effective, and thus no less a budo for all that. Of course, any art of budo not taken seriously, and not practiced seriously, is deficient -- but that just makes it bad budo -- it does not mean the art is no longer budo.

Aikido is different in its strategic thrust than most other forms of budo, This much is very true. Aikido is not really interested in destroying the enemy's body or strength -- but in actively denying them any possible offensive application.

I indulge some of Sun-Tzu's observations:
-- "Therefore, a hundred fights and a hundred wins is not the best; [to win] and not fight the enemy's force, that is best."
-- "What is best is attacking the enemy's plan."
-- "Anyone sees the shape of my tactics in victory; no one sees my strategy that shapes it.

Put another way -- my attacker wants a fight -- and I mean not to give him any .. just not in the way that he expects ... and that is a very good budo...

Apparently there is enough of a scholarly definition that exists that even high level practitioners are beginning to state that aikido may not match that definition any more. Do tell ... I'd be interested in what that definition might be.

Erick Mead
02-04-2015, 10:06 AM
If an attack is not changing state of nage, it is meaningless and defender doesn't have to do anything, there is nothing to defend against.

That's how McDojo is created.

"When in danger, or in doubt,
Run in circles, scream and shout;
And when threatened, or called out,
Just start flailing, all about."

:D

Conrad Gus
02-04-2015, 10:25 AM
If Yamada Sensei (or anyone) wants to practice Aikido as something other than a budo, that's fine by me. Personally, I lose interest if the martial aspect is not a priority (but not the only priority).

I think the answer is that some groups will practice Aikido as a budo and some won't. Mine will. :)

Robert Cowham
02-04-2015, 04:26 PM
For me there is a mental budo and a physical budo. Ideally the two are connected. But there are people who cannot do physical budo (for whatever reason), but who mentally are very capable.

MRoh
02-05-2015, 02:26 AM
Apparently there is enough of a scholarly definition that exists that even high level practitioners are beginning to state that aikido may not match that definition any more. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?


A budoka trains and mostly has no interest in scholarly definitions.

What I wanted to say is, that a budo is not the best way for everyone, there might be other ways to train the body or to refine the spirit, that suit better.
So if aikido is budo, maybe it's not for everyone.

But I heard also, that Ueshiba said, who can pick up chopsticks, can practice aikido.
His definition of a budo did not have unconditional support from the members of other koryu, so what budo is and what not, there are different approaches not just since yesterday.

I just read an interview with Fujimoto Sensei, in which he explains that when he became older, his thinking about this point changed, same a Yamada Sensei.
Maybe when poeple have mastered budo aspects of an art and have done it for a long time, the point of interest changes. Tohei, who was bored by "throwing people to the left and to the right" or Noro Sensei, who created kinomichi, and went a way apart from budo deliberately, although in every moment he was able to act in a budo manner, are other examples for such changes.

NagaBaba
02-05-2015, 08:34 AM
A budoka trains and mostly has no interest in scholarly definitions.

What I wanted to say is, that a budo is not the best way for everyone, there might be other ways to train the body or to refine the spirit, that suit better.
So if aikido is budo, maybe it's not for everyone.

But I heard also, that Ueshiba said, who can pick up chopsticks, can practice aikido.
His definition of a budo did not have unconditional support from the members of other koryu, so what budo is and what not, there are different approaches not just since yesterday.

I just read an interview with Fujimoto Sensei, in which he explains that when he became older, his thinking about this point changed, same a Yamada Sensei.
Maybe when poeple have mastered budo aspects of an art and have done it for a long time, the point of interest changes. Tohei, who was bored by "throwing people to the left and to the right" or Noro Sensei, who created kinomichi, and went a way apart from budo deliberately, although in every moment he was able to act in a budo manner, are other examples for such changes.

I agree with you, in long term there is no interest to practice locks and throws just for locks and throws. One has to practice it many years as a way of purification his mind and forging his body to be able to achieve his spiritual journey. This kind of practice must be very austere, to eliminate all superficial elements. And austerity is possible only when you include martial aspects in your techniques. Martial aspects will lead you towards the purest state of mind and simplest and most efficient body use.

Otherwise your practice becomes some kind of healthy gymnastic or mutual admiration society where everybody taps each other shoulders saying: you are good! You are so so good….

Cliff Judge
02-05-2015, 10:18 AM
Dr David A. Hall has a decent entry on budo/bugei/bujutsu in his Encyclopedia of Japanese Martial Arts, but it is too lengthy for me type in here.

The basic idea is that budo emerged in the Edo period and marked a shift in focus away from combative skills towards spiritual enlightenment/refinement as the goal of martial training. This is in line with how Draeger broke things down. Dr. Hall cautions about the general Japanese tendency to use terms more elastically than we analytical Western types might prefer, though.

He marks one Abe ryu, which emerged in the late 16th century, as perhaps the first koryu to overtly focus on spiritual aspects.

So IMO, if Aikido is a practice that is available to all people to work on goals of spiritual development and refinement of themselves, then it is a very advanced form of budo indeed, and its martial efficacy doesn't really enter into this analysis. In fact, if the requirements of martial efficacy restrict the types of people who can participate, that makes it weaker as a budo, and Yamada has it backwards.

NagaBaba
02-05-2015, 11:30 AM
Dr David A. Hall has a decent entry on budo/bugei/bujutsu in his Encyclopedia of Japanese Martial Arts, but it is too lengthy for me type in here.

The basic idea is that budo emerged in the Edo period and marked a shift in focus away from combative skills towards spiritual enlightenment/refinement as the goal of martial training. This is in line with how Draeger broke things down. Dr. Hall cautions about the general Japanese tendency to use terms more elastically than we analytical Western types might prefer, though.

He marks one Abe ryu, which emerged in the late 16th century, as perhaps the first koryu to overtly focus on spiritual aspects.

So IMO, if Aikido is a practice that is available to all people to work on goals of spiritual development and refinement of themselves, then it is a very advanced form of budo indeed, and its martial efficacy doesn't really enter into this analysis. In fact, if the requirements of martial efficacy restrict the types of people who can participate, that makes it weaker as a budo, and Yamada has it backwards.

Spiritual development is not happened because of theoretical fantasy and divagations. One needs to completely transform his mind and body in very particular way. Aikido practice provides one of opportunities to do so with condition to include martial efficacy, otherwise no transformation is possible. One must be faced with the problem that is impossible to solve with actual Cartesian mind and weak body. He has to develop completely new tools to solve it – this is a needed transformation.
I.e. Some Buddhists use a koan for the same reason.

Cliff Judge
02-05-2015, 11:48 AM
Spiritual development is not happened because of theoretical fantasy and divagations. One needs to completely transform his mind and body in very particular way. Aikido practice provides one of opportunities to do so with condition to include martial efficacy, otherwise no transformation is possible. One must be faced with the problem that is impossible to solve with actual Cartesian mind and weak body. He has to develop completely new tools to solve it -- this is a needed transformation.
I.e. Some Buddhists use a koan for the same reason.

Iaido is a classic example of budo though. However you may evaluate their martial efficacy - I have my opinions but I certainly respect their cuts - they believe in it, and they achieve it totally through theoretical fantasy (maybe not divagations).

And koans are actually short cuts in the same vein!

NagaBaba
02-05-2015, 12:18 PM
Iaido is a classic example of budo though. However you may evaluate their martial efficacy - I have my opinions but I certainly respect their cuts - they believe in it, and they achieve it totally through theoretical fantasy (maybe not divagations).

And koans are actually short cuts in the same vein!

Have you ever practice Iaido? Me I did it 15 years, 3 times a week. If you have proper instructor, I can guarantee you that your body and your mind will be totally transformed, with the help of a lot of pain and suffering. Sur thing, there is a visualization part, but it is may be 1% of the practice, 99% is a very hard physical work and tons of sweat.

I disagree that koan is a shortcut; it is a simple helper tool. What you do to solve it, transforms you, but not before your body and mind are ready.

So pattern is everywhere the same.

Cliff Judge
02-05-2015, 12:49 PM
Have you ever practice Iaido? Me I did it 15 years, 3 times a week. If you have proper instructor, I can guarantee you that your body and your mind will be totally transformed, with the help of a lot of pain and suffering. Sur thing, there is a visualization part, but it is may be 1% of the practice, 99% is a very hard physical work and tons of sweat.

I disagree that koan is a shortcut; it is a simple helper tool. What you do to solve it, transforms you, but not before your body and mind are ready.

So pattern is everywhere the same.

Okay great. So how many times did you get cut by the other guy when you were practicing solo iaido kata? :D

Keith Larman
02-05-2015, 02:24 PM
Stephen Fry had a great quote. "If you're the kind of person who insists on this or that 'correct' use... abandon your pedantry as I did mine. Dive into the open flowing waters and leave the stagnant canals be... Above all, let there be pleasure!"

And on that note I'm going back to counting the number of angels on this pin head. "One, two, three..."

Or to put it another way... To answer the question -- kinda, sorta... It depends.

You're welcome.

dps
02-05-2015, 02:49 PM
Spiritual development is not happened because of theoretical fantasy and divagations. One needs to completely transform his mind and body in very particular way. Aikido practice provides one of opportunities to do so with condition to include martial efficacy, otherwise no transformation is possible. One must be faced with the problem that is impossible to solve with actual Cartesian mind and weak body. He has to develop completely new tools to solve it -- this is a needed transformation.
I.e. Some Buddhists use a koan for the same reason.

Agree 100%.

dps

phitruong
02-05-2015, 02:54 PM
Okay great. So how many times did you get cut by the other guy when you were practicing solo iaido kata? :D

i got stab many times. the other bugger, went by the name phi (bastard actually used my good name.... and not my bad name!) was viscious and drew blood. i took the bugger outback and beat him with a steak and some uggly looking veggies. that's how we do it in budo! :D

Rupert Atkinson
02-06-2015, 12:58 AM
Some Aikido is not Budo. Dare I venture that a lot of MMA is not Budo at all.

tarik
02-10-2015, 09:09 PM
Sorry.. was busy training all weekend at a clinic with my teacher. Two of my students made shodan. Good weekend.

Personally, I think it's pretty tough (and academic) to define budo, because, as with aikido, not because the definition is loose, but because there are so many definitions being used in practice.

The suggestion made in several statements that hoplogical research isn't relevant just because so many people is, to me at least, rather like saying that an understanding of engineering principles by DIY makers isn't relevant. Yes, there are many many makers who don't study engineering and just muddle through and have fun and learn lots of good stuff.. at their level. Many of them learn enormous amounts and a few even break through and become amazing engineers.

I think many of us agree that the process that makes the study of a martial way so popular is the self-realization and discovery that we go through. In my experience, the degree available in such a study is much higher when the assumptions and knowledge we attain is constantly tested. I know that many of the famous people I've had hands on and watched over the years almost never test themselves in their practice and it shows. Note: by testing I am in no way suggesting shiai or combative training.

The saddest thing I've encountered (more and more) over the years is watching people I respect and whose skill I once found impressive change and improve very little and in some cases get worse. To me, it's a sign that they are not testing their knowledge and assumptions even though they are supposedly engaged in a practice that is supposed to challenge them on their way. I suspect it has to do with comfort levels.

IAC, I think the conclusion I can draw is that the question and answer is apparently mostly an 'academic' one and if one cares about such a level of pedantry, and Keith so aptly describes it, one should seek out those of a similar bent.

kewms
02-11-2015, 12:23 AM
In your dojo, what happens if someone hits the instructor? Or reverses his technique?

If it never happens, or if the person is reprimanded, you are probably not studying a budo.

(There are exceptions. It's possible for the chief instructor to recover from unexpected situations quickly enough to keep the class from noticing, or to be so much better than most students that mistakes are extremely rare and difficult to exploit. But what happens when a junior instructor blows a technique?)

Katherine

dps
02-11-2015, 01:04 AM
" As I said before, what is good about aikido is also the problem of aikido. I don't call aikido ‘budo' anymore... "

This part of the quote from Yamada is very significant. The fact that he can decide if Aikido is a budo or not tells me that it is not the Aikido but Yamada's frame of mind that determines if he is doing a budo or not.

I can call anything I do a budo as long as it fits within what my what is decided a budo is.

dps

Cliff Judge
02-11-2015, 07:31 AM
I don't get the brushing off of this topic at all. Each of us has our own practice, and our dojos have distinct culture, but your understanding of what Budo is and your ability to explain it and what you do affect your ability to continue improving as you keep training. And also affect your ability to understand someone who is on a slightly different page if you talk or train with them.

Jonathan
02-11-2015, 07:41 AM
Stephen Fry had a great quote. "If you're the kind of person who insists on this or that 'correct' use... abandon your pedantry as I did mine. Dive into the open flowing waters and leave the stagnant canals be... Above all, let there be pleasure!"

It occurs to me that Stephen Fry is doing here the very thing he insists one ought to abandon doing. He is asserting a course of action and a philosophy that one ought to follow - just like those other pedantic folk who insist on the correct way to do things. ;)

jonreading
02-11-2015, 10:41 AM
For me, budo is a commitment to reform and refine the self using a militaristic pedagogy, specifically from the Japanese culture. I think this commitment exists for physical, mental and spiritual aspects of self-improvement with some argument as to which represents the highest order of development. I think budo must contain a military tie and it should have a austere efficiency, a hierarchy of authority, a specification of application and fidelity to the pedagogy. Ultimately, budo is capitulation to the process. You use an external mold to create a desirable form and into the mold you place yourself - thus assuming the desired shape. I evaluate budo as a qualitative mold - better mold, better product. When I hear about elements that dojos remove from their pedagogy, I think about how that decision effects the quality of the mold. Capitulation to the process is both a large part of the culture and the training. "doing what I want" is not exactly capitulation... coming from a fighting class devoted to servitude. Not doing weapons because I don't like weapons is not exactly capitulation to the process of learning what weapons can teach.

To be sure, there are some dojos that have removed so many elements from their training, using Japanese vocabulary and wearing Japanese attire are about the only elements of budo that exist in the dojo. Does that make the dojo teachings a budo? I would argue, "no." At some point, I think you have enough elements missing from training that the definition shifts to be exclusive of a training environment. Sometimes we talk more about a michi than a budo, which is fine but different.

tarik
02-11-2015, 03:04 PM
In your dojo, what happens if someone hits the instructor? Or reverses his technique?

The instructor changes the technique or falls down.

If it never happens, or if the person is reprimanded, you are probably not studying a budo.

Yep.

(There are exceptions. It's possible for the chief instructor to recover from unexpected situations quickly enough to keep the class from noticing, or to be so much better than most students that mistakes are extremely rare and difficult to exploit. But what happens when a junior instructor blows a technique?)


A good system of training requires that all partners in the training are tested frequently.

tarik
02-11-2015, 03:15 PM
Missed this last night.

Dr David A. Hall has a decent entry on budo/bugei/bujutsu in his Encyclopedia of Japanese Martial Arts, but it is too lengthy for me type in here.

It's a good reference to read, though.

The basic idea is that budo emerged in the Edo period and marked a shift in focus away from combative skills towards spiritual enlightenment/refinement as the goal of martial training. This is in line with how Draeger broke things down.

One interesting flaw that I've heard discussed about how Draeger broke things down is that he took it too literally (and analytically). In a certain sense, what we do on the mat is bujutsu, what we do in our lives and how that is affected by what we learn doing bujutsu, is budo.

Dr. Hall cautions about the general Japanese tendency to use terms more elastically than we analytical Western types might prefer, though.

Of course, the problems in budo practices are not limited to non-Japanese. There are plenty of arts that are caricatures of budo practice in Japan as well as outside.

So IMO, if Aikido is a practice that is available to all people to work on goals of spiritual development and refinement of themselves, then it is a very advanced form of budo indeed, and its martial efficacy doesn't really enter into this analysis. In fact, if the requirements of martial efficacy restrict the types of people who can participate, that makes it weaker as a budo, and Yamada has it backwards.

I think that spiritual development and self-refinement are much more limited when martial efficacy is sacrificed (especially when unintentional) as perceptions and analogies are misinformed by incorrect assumptions. It's kind of amusing but tiring to explain to a new student exposed to other lineages why atemi or effective attacks are not against the spirit of the art.

I don't believe that martial efficacy limits the availability of budo practice much, but it is a perception that, IMO is one of the first obstacles to be overcome. In that sense, I disagree with Yamada sensei's analysis, because I don't think the budo nature has to be sacrificed, but I do think that, in many cases, it is..

Erick Mead
02-11-2015, 03:48 PM
For me, budo is a commitment to reform and refine the self using a militaristic pedagogy, specifically from the Japanese culture. Not a bad definition, but a few quibbles. Budo is literally the "way of war." I don't think a commitment to becoming the "Compleat Warrior," schooled in 10,000 methods of defeating human beings in a physical conflict defines a budo -- but a commitment to attaining a certain mastery of at least one substantial aspect of such art or arts is necessary for there to be a credible claim to being part of budo. Archers are not infantry, nor cavalry, artillery.

Also, I would not limit the concept of budo merely to Japanese culture -- I think the Japanese concept of budo is useful in other cultural contexts. Things like the Roman discplina and integritas, or U.S. Marines "adversative" training mode all plainly relate -- but remain distinct in sensibility. These are less encompassing than the deeper Japanese concept and few other cultures have a semantic field quite as broad and deep as the Japanese idea of budo -- so it achieves relevance well outside its cultural origin.

But that is a far cry from saying that anything and everything is budo. Some firearms training IS budo -- and some is just havin' fun plinkin'. Some non-physical study is also budo, and some is not. The question is both the immediate and ultimate purpose of the study or training -- and the resulting increase in effectiveness of the application of the training or study in the area or kind of conflict to which it is aimed. An observation -- budo is aimed at doing something that might decisively and efficiently end a conflict. No wasted action.

Not even all military encounters are necessarily examples of budo. My Lai was not, nor Rwanda '94 - nor much of anything George McClelland did with the Army of the Potomac. Operation Barbarossa in WWII was not -- as the General Staff overwhelmingly agreed, until the remaining professional elements that resisted Gleichschaltung in the Wehrmacht were removed after Rommel's suicide and the July 20 plot. The July 20 plot was budo -- failed, contrary to military order and discipline, and even formally treasonous at the the time and place -- but definitely budo, nonetheless. Kinda Germany's 47 Ronin ...

I think budo must contain a military tie and it should have a austere efficiency, a hierarchy of authority, a specification of application and fidelity to the pedagogy. Ultimately, budo is capitulation to the process. You use an external mold to create a desirable form and into the mold you place yourself - thus assuming the desired shape. I evaluate budo as a qualitative mold - better mold, better product. Which, while I agree ("...to a point, Lord Copper, to a point ..." ) it is kind of hard to continue uniformly in that mode past a certain point if we see the ultimate objective of form to be formlessness. Sanchin no kata is extremely rigid in form -- despite (and perhaps even because) its true application is absolutely NOT so.

Capitulation to the process is both a large part of the culture and the training. "doing what I want" is not exactly capitulation... coming from a fighting class devoted to servitude. Not doing weapons because I don't like weapons is not exactly capitulation to the process of learning what weapons can teach. "What if he comes at us with a pointed stick?" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piWCBOsJr-w)
;)

jonreading
02-12-2015, 07:25 AM
Not a bad definition, but a few quibbles. Budo is literally the "way of war." I don't think a commitment to becoming the "Compleat Warrior," schooled in 10,000 methods of defeating human beings in a physical conflict defines a budo -- but a commitment to attaining a certain mastery of at least one substantial aspect of such art or arts is necessary for there to be a credible claim to being part of budo. Archers are not infantry, nor cavalry, artillery.

As a point of education, one should learn technical aspects of the military education, implying some level of competency over and above peers who do not participate in the education. Much like graduating college with a degree in writing but unable to write better than your peers... I think one could argue that some dojos do not actually present a competent education, but that is another argument. I do not think tactical knowledge [alone] is a satisfactory component - there are plenty of people who fight well but have no intention of using that tactical ability as a method of development.

Also, I would not limit the concept of budo merely to Japanese culture -- I think the Japanese concept of budo is useful in other cultural contexts. Things like the Roman discplina and integritas, or U.S. Marines "adversative" training mode all plainly relate -- but remain distinct in sensibility. These are less encompassing than the deeper Japanese concept and few other cultures have a semantic field quite as broad and deep as the Japanese idea of budo -- so it achieves relevance well outside its cultural origin.

It's their word, so I limit my definition to the culture especially with the strong cultural ideology of servitude through the fighting class and the style of combat present in the culture. You're not just inheriting a technical instruction, but a culture that often acts as a codex to understanding the education. I think Japanese combat and the training to conduct that combat is unique enough as not to be lumped into other cultural combat styles. Not is not to say that other military education formats do not integrate a mental or spiritual education into their physical education.

But that is a far cry from saying that anything and everything is budo. Some firearms training IS budo -- and some is just havin' fun plinkin'. Some non-physical study is also budo, and some is not. The question is both the immediate and ultimate purpose of the study or training -- and the resulting increase in effectiveness of the application of the training or study in the area or kind of conflict to which it is aimed. An observation -- budo is aimed at doing something that might decisively and efficiently end a conflict. No wasted action. Not even all military encounters are necessarily examples of budo. My Lai was not, nor Rwanda '94 - nor much of anything George McClelland did with the Army of the Potomac. Operation Barbarossa in WWII was not -- as the General Staff overwhelmingly agreed, until the remaining professional elements that resisted Gleichschaltung in the Wehrmacht were removed after Rommel's suicide and the July 20 plot. The July 20 plot was budo -- failed, contrary to military order and discipline, and even formally treasonous at the the time and place -- but definitely budo, nonetheless. Kinda Germany's 47 Ronin ...

Knowledge and action are not necessarily interchangeable. We do things all the time that we know to be poor decisions but we act upon them anyway. Budo is a process to apply an education outside of its original purpose. I think a modern day comparison is far closer to veterans finding how to apply the skill sets they learned in the military to civilian purposes. The tactical purpose originally taught is not applicable to civilian landscape. Military campaigns still may/[should] contain elements to which a military training applies. Remember, the emergence of budo was only after the fighting stopped and the culture had to figure out what to with an entire class of people who only knew how to fight. It gave the bushi class the ultimate puzzle to occupy their time and energy and in some cases give comfort to a lifetime of atrocities, some of the class taking that challenge to wondrous levels of genius.

I think sometimes we forget most of the samurai class did terrible things that our culture would not only consider illegal, but probably unforgivable. Often times those actions were ordered by their superiors, meaning they were just following orders. I think we all know what the world thinks of people who were just following orders. I think sometimes were look through rose-colored glasses at budo and apply it romantically to things in which budo has no place.

phitruong
02-12-2015, 07:43 AM
Not a bad definition, but a few quibbles. Budo is literally the "way of war." I don't think a commitment to becoming the "Compleat Warrior," schooled in 10,000 methods of defeating human beings in a physical conflict defines a budo -- but a commitment to attaining a certain mastery of at least one substantial aspect of such art or arts is necessary for there to be a credible claim to being part of budo. Archers are not infantry, nor cavalry, artillery.


ok, i am short by 9,999 methods. this is going to mess with my partying life style... i meant practicing aikido.

[When you meet a swordsman/ meet him with a sword\\ Do not offer a poem to anyone but a poet]
— Was I a swordsman then? Or a poet?
[Yes\\ There is never one without the other] - The Fall of Hyperion

Erick Mead
02-12-2015, 11:19 AM
It's their word, so I limit my definition to the culture especially with the strong cultural ideology of servitude through the fighting class and the style of combat present in the culture. ... except that is not remotely true of modern Japan -- outside the VERY few MA hobbyists in Japan. The most of martial arts most Japanese know or see is in manga, film and anime.

Plus, we speak English. English appropriates any word of any language we darn well please if suits us and our purposes. ... :D And English is the lingua franca (high irony there), and almost ubiquitously so in public communications on world conflict situations (http://academicwrite.blogspot.com/2014/02/english-global-language-of-protest.html). Budo captures a field of meaning that few languages have. Even "martial arts" is a poor and narrow aspect of the full scope of what is meant by budo. So we steal it. :cool: (OK, borrow. Its not like they can't still use it too.)

You're not just inheriting a technical instruction, but a culture that often acts as a codex to understanding the education. Except it doesn't -- actually. "True budo is love" and "Aiki is intersection of fire and water" these expressions have meaning -- but the general Japanese "cultural codex" provides almost no assistance on these esoteric concepts. Even in Japan, conceptual terms of martial consequence were coded so as NOT to be readily deducible from ordinary cultural cues. Koryu were notoriously secretive, Takeda not least among them.

Ueshiba and his Aikido affirmatively sought to break out of that mode of transmission -- and despite inheriting that vocabularly -- aikido was not meant to perpetuate its intentional obscurity, despite being hostage to the already obscure inheritance. In addition, aikido thought and praxis are no longer trapped within a single cultural milieu -- and iemoto notwithstanding, aikido -- and budo, for that matter -- belong to the world at this point.

I think Japanese combat and the training to conduct that combat is unique enough as not to be lumped into other cultural combat styles. Budo as a concept is larger than both "combat," or any aggregation of "styles" of combat.

Knowledge and action are not necessarily interchangeable. The Oyomei-gaku line of NeoConfucian philosophy underlies much of what we ascribe as budo from the beginining of the Tokugawa period through the end of WWII. Oyomei holds that knowledge and action are one, and that mind is itself the principle of action, rather than the premise that mental principles arise from the accumulation of investigating things ('external' or accumulated knowledge). It is clasically phrased in this way: if you claim to know, then you must act; if you do not act, then you do not truly know.

This was much abused as an excuse to precipitous disturbance by the many young nationalist political coups and attempted coups in early modern Japan. But they ignored the corrollary: If you merely act to effect change externally, but do not truly know "internally" (a concept of significance in discussion of aiki), then your action cannot be effective, since it does not flow from innate knowledge. In other words, however much you simply alter external appearances or conditions -- really changes nothing essential about the situation, or yourself. More prosaically: "Here comes the new boss, same as the old boss."

Oyomei-gaku is a principle of personal and moral development inseparable from principles of practical action. It proposes that improvement comes from removing the impediment of selfish desires so that intuitive understanding (liangzhi = innate knowledge) can flourish, and which REQUIRES intensive training -- but NOT to frame the mind and body by the addition of external knowledge or methods. Oyomei-gaku seeks to free the body/mind of external limitations to what it is already inherently capable of -- as the acorn contains the oak.

This is the source of the "polishing the mirror" concept. The mirror is already within the plate of rough brass. All it takes is sufficient grinding and polishing away the non-mirror elements obscuring it, and once these are removed, it shines forth and reflects perfectly everything in the world -- just as it is. (A somewhat comparable Western observation is Michelangelo's famous statement of his sculpting process: the statue is already in the rough stone; he simply has to remove the stuff that keeps other people from seeing it.)

The difference of concept from the external principles model is profound. Yet, as history notes above, and you note below, it is also subject to much abuse, misunderstanding, and even invitation to lazy self-congratulation. But it is not really removable from what we know of the concept of budo as it developed, and budo has a deep debt to this school of thought on innate knowledge and the unity of knowledge and action. In budo there is rightly speaking no "plan of action": the plan is never really distinct from the action, nor the action from the plan. It all comes from someplace deeper than that, as Oyomei taught.

I think sometimes we forget most of the samurai class did terrible things that our culture would not only consider illegal, but probably unforgivable. Often times those actions were ordered by their superiors, meaning they were just following orders. I think we all know what the world thinks of people who were just following orders. I think sometimes were look through rose-colored glasses at budo and apply it romantically to things in which budo has no place.Two excellent films set in the late Edo period examine this ugly vs. romantic sensibility from two quite different but complementary perspectives. I highly recommend "13 Assassins" (the newer one especially) and "Twilight Samurai." These are explorations of both what budo means -- and the dangers that it's misunderstanding and misapplication poses.

jonreading
02-12-2015, 01:12 PM
I would argue that pointing to a general populace to demonstrate that most people don't know martial arts is not that compelling. I am also not necessarily pointing to a contemporary general culture but rather a very specific culture in which budo was originated. This is important because my later comments were directed at the understanding of how things worked as some earlier point in history. I am an advocate of studying that culture as a means of unlocking the context in which the education was developed. In my lifetime alone I read from history books in Illinois that taught a different perspective than history books I read at Vandy...

I could argue several occurrences of poor translation that not only were simply incorrect, but actually damaged the transmission of aikido instruction in other cultures. What I am saying is that in a rush to "do it ourselves" we are removing elements we have no idea have value. What's worse, I don't speak or read Japanese, so I am dependent on others who do - it is frightening to re-read some of the "revised" translations that 25 years ago would have been considered gospel. At best, it's learning using the "telephone game" with as twist to change the language at some point during the game. That anyone can learn within that environment is something of a miracle, let alone become proficient at it.

I don't disagree that there are ideological and philosophical perspectives that seek to unify knowledge and action. I prefer to stick with the good ol' fashioned,
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Again, I don't think there is anything new about this, if only to say it is actually very difficult to accomplish that feat. That budo has their own variation of that philosophical goal is to put it in line with some large number of philosophies and ideologies.

Erick Mead
02-12-2015, 09:28 PM
I would argue that pointing to a general populace to demonstrate that most people don't know martial arts is not that compelling. I am also not necessarily pointing to a contemporary general culture but rather a very specific culture in which budo was originated. This is important because my later comments were directed at the understanding of how things worked as some earlier point in history. I am an advocate of studying that culture as a means of unlocking the context in which the education was developed. In my lifetime alone I read from history books in Illinois that taught a different perspective than history books I read at Vandy... Judging from Ueshiba's effort, which though unburdened by any commitment to koryu secrecy -- was still hamstrung by an obscure conceptual vocabulary from that tradition (plus his own eccentricities), I'd say the prospects are not great in proceeding in that way. The history of effort so far seems to bear that out. On the other hand, objective physiology and mechanics can be both understood and applied, and thus unified through rigor in training and knowledge. Don't get me wrong -- we have much yet to mine in that tradition -- but we do it best by applying what WE already know to it... which is what Oyomei taught -- through and through.

I could argue several occurrences of poor translation that not only were simply incorrect, but actually damaged the transmission of aikido instruction in other cultures. What I am saying is that in a rush to "do it ourselves" we are removing elements we have no idea have value. What's worse, I don't speak or read Japanese, so I am dependent on others who do - it is frightening to re-read some of the "revised" translations that 25 years ago would have been considered gospel. At best, it's learning using the "telephone game" with as twist to change the language at some point during the game. That anyone can learn within that environment is something of a miracle, let alone become proficient at it. You are actually paraphrasing a point of criticism of the external principles schools made by Oyomei. Yomei also asserted the primacy of Qi as origin of patterns or form (Li) was the plain teaching of the classical texts and that the earlier schools had just read their own conceptual prejudices of the primacy of Li (form over substance, basically) into the classic texts.

The doctrine of innate knowledge and 知行合一 : the unity (or "harmony") of knowledge and action are antidotes to conceptual traps such as those you note. The human being must walk on two legs -- mind and body -- which are never separated -- We learn all new knowledge through applying knowledge we already possess and in no other way. I point this out in class so often -- that what we are doing is really things so simple that we already do -- we just think that in applying them in some new way they must be something radically new and different -- when they are not. Tonight for instance we did ushiro-waza, and I pointed out that for all the seeming flourish in the mutual interaction -- the basic tai sabaki was really nothing more than pacing the floor: step, step, step, turn, step.

"Innate knowledge is to minute details and varying circumstances as compasses and measures are to areas and lengths. Details and circumstances cannot be predetermined, just as areas and lengths are infinite in number and cannot be entirely covered."

I don't disagree that there are ideological and philosophical perspectives that seek to unify knowledge and action. Again, I don't think there is anything new about this, if only to say it is actually very difficult to accomplish that feat. That budo has their own variation of that philosophical goal is to put it in line with some large number of philosophies and ideologies.
The point of my summary of Oyomei is that it is actually THE underlying philosophical system of what we now know and practice as budo that developed in the Edo era. It therefore has far more salience to the problem that just some ad hoc philosophical choice of mine or anybody else's. For instance the entire corpus of "internal" arts -- both Chinese and Japanese -- with focus on "intent" in driving action is vocabulary drawn DIRECTLY from this system of concepts. It is certainly an aid in trying to properly translate them into other cultural contexts -- not least because Oyomei-gaku was itself an adoption from the Chinese (Oyomei = Wang Yangming) in the first place.

ToyodaCenter
02-24-2015, 09:54 AM
Perhaps Yamada is getting 'softer' in the sense that learning to 'fight' is no longer his prime objective. But having fun and getting people to meet each other is. Aikido evolves into dance, for lack of better word.
That's an interesting observation/question Tim, and one I've often pondered myself. The question I have regarding it though is, if somebody like Yamada Sensei, or Ikeda Sensei, or any of the other well known Shihan, get 'softer' as they age, do you think it is because of some wisdom or enlightenment they have had about life, fighting, values, priorities, or simply the physical limitations that tend to follow aging?

kewms
02-24-2015, 11:58 AM
I think once you've learned to "fight," which someone at Yamada's level almost certainly has, you realize that it's just not that interesting or valuable a skill. Opportunities for cracking skulls are pretty limited, especially if you'd prefer to stay out of jail. Opportunities for connecting with one's fellow humans are nearly infinite.

I don't have any personal experience with Yamada Sensei, but from what I've seen of other senior teachers this change in focus tends to happen long before anyone (except maybe themselves) would notice any decline in physical skills.

Katherine

nikyu62
03-11-2015, 11:28 AM
Cut the Gordian knot…….O Sensei said "Aikido is Budo"…..there you have it.

phitruong
03-11-2015, 12:00 PM
…..there you have it.

oh dear god! you used the word "it"! now there will be violent and mayhem. there will be looting and plunder and pillage. dog and cat. bad things will happen to good people. good things happen to crazy people. aikido folks singing kumbaya with MMA folks. :D

nikyu62
03-11-2015, 09:30 PM
I said it, not "it" , it's different…..now get your dog off the cat. :)

tarik
03-12-2015, 09:32 PM
Cut the Gordian knot…….O Sensei said "Aikido is Budo"…..there you have it.

He also said "you are not doing my aikido".