View Full Version : What are we seeking?

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10-04-2002, 11:21 AM
I am glad for the oppurtunity to post my opinions for others to see, to read about other's experiences and opinions, as well as to share in discussion about aikido.
When I read through some of these posts, I wonder what motivates us to bring up some of the topics that come up. The question of how well an aikidoist would fare in the "Octagon" or related competitions. The question of what techniques are useless in a fight. The question as to whether it is a good idea to separate the sexes in training.
I ask myself, "Why do people think of these things?"
I have come up with one answer (to which I expect some very angry responses), which I also grapple with (no pun intended) daily:
We seek to validate our practice in aikido. It is infinitely easier to "do" aikido on the mat or on the street vs. in our hearts and minds, and so we choose to find comfort in knowing that our technique can "work", or that aikido can "work." We seek proof of this, or the possibility of proof, by wondering how aikido will fare in the ring/cage, how we as individual aikidoka will fare in the real world, how our technique fares against big strong men, little tiny women, big strong women, little tiny men, etc, etc.
As I said before, I battle with myself in seeking this validation. On a different level, I wish I could have been alive to have been uke for O'Sensei. I wish I could have been witness to his many superhuman feats that I read about. I wish that I could take ukemi for all the shihans (alas, but I am just a lowly nobody.) This is my search for validation, for proof that the hours I spend on the mat are really "doing something" for me. And, the idea of "false sense of security" is always in the back of my mind. This is all part of the same argument.
How can I (we?) overcome this?
In aikido, we must strike a balance between technical effectiveness and spiritual learning. Without one, the other is somehow lacking. Granted, technical effectiveness can come in the absence of spiritual training (or can it???) but what would it mean? Why not study simple self-defence tactics then, and concentrate on the physical aspect?
Although I believe this, I still can't even answer my own question: how to overcome?
Because at the end of the day, asking this question is nothing more than the desire to feed our egos.

Roy Dean
10-04-2002, 12:58 PM
What a great post. Introspective and honest.

We all seek validation for what we invest ourselves in. The training method in Aikido allows for a lot of questions: Could I really blend if I needed to on the street? What if he resisted? Etc, etc...

One way to answer your questions is to cross-train. Taste the truth of other arts. Experience their training methods, philosophies, and tactics. Many martial artists refuse to do this, insisting that their style is the best, that they know THE TRUTH, etc. If they know they truth then, there should be nothing to fear in experiencing other perspectives. Cross-training will show you the respective strengths and weaknesses of Aikido. All arts have them. It does not indicate "deficiency", it simply points out their emphasis.

The fact that these questions are coming up is healthy. I wrestled with these issues strenuously for quite some time, and still do, although considerably less these days.

You see, I was a "true believer" in the invincibility of Aikido. Disillusionment was the next major stage (this was a long and painful process, in my case). Now, I believe I'm achieving acceptance of what Aikido is... and what it isn't.

Aikido has changed my life. From the aesthetic beauty of techniques, to the philosophy of non-violence and the friends I've made within the dojo... I am a different person for having trained. It also continues to shape my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu "game". Aikido is not an art to be underestimated in its transformative power. It is more heavily weighted towards moral education and spiritual development than martial techniques (the techniques are physical metaphors for Ueshiba's philosophy). Of course, schools vary, so what I've stated is surely not definitive...

In short, don't try to overcome. Work with your curiosity, work with your uncertainty. Questioning is not necessarily egoic, it's rational.

Good training to you,