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10-30-2002, 04:39 AM
Ueshiba said he wanted to build a golden (?) bridge between nations (as far as I can remember). And thus went over to Hawaii and introduced aikido. In my mind Ueshiba was on a mission of spreading a global peace movement. This may have been related to the end of WWII, but my question is:

Do we have an obligation to teach moral values in the dojo. And if so, what moral values should we be teaching? And where does moral education and indoctrination differ?


10-30-2002, 08:55 AM
Lead by example - it's always worked for me!

10-30-2002, 09:09 AM
Always lead by example and lead from the front.

IMHO, its more of a moral privledge than an obligation to teach nonviolent conflict resolutions, as well as personl and social response-ability.

Until again,


Jeff Tibbetts
10-31-2002, 11:23 AM
I think this is a great question. I find it odd that this is such a hotly debated topic, that of morality within Aikido. I think that the very heart of Aikido is the spirituality, and while it doesn't promote any particular religion or any particular belief system, there is a claer morality built into it. If it wasn't morally wrong in Aikido to punch someone in the face untill you break something, then we would be doing it because it's effective. The techniques of Aikido have a clear intention of blending with and removing agression in a hostile situation. This ties into all the philosophy involved, based on the idea that agression is undesirable, and that harmony should be promoted. If this isn't a moral statement, I don't know what is. War is agression, wether done to you or done by you, and the moral message is that it's desirable to harmonize as soon as possible with as little conflict as possible. There are real moral codes built in there, some people don't like to look at them for various reasons. Maybe they don't like being preached to, maybe they want to maintain the illusion that they think for themselves. Either way, it's there if you want it, but it's not always required to practice in the dojo. My opinion is that you have to come to it on your own, and the principles should be layed for you to take up when you're ready. Not too many westerners that I know would ever willingly give up their ego. I think we all have problem with this, it's something I struggle with every day, but it's something that I'm confident is a desirable goal. If we can all accept that we truly are all the same, and our differences are manufactured to keep the balance of power, then we will take great strides in progress the world over. It's a complicated subject that could stand a lot of debate, let's just try to keep an open mind about this.

10-31-2002, 11:31 AM
Good post Jeff,

Thank you for sharing this with us, you raise a number of good points.



10-31-2002, 01:25 PM
hi all. As I was about to reply to this post I noticed that over the last few days it has been the issue of morality and the moral code behind aikido that has really grabbed my attention (sorry if you feel like I am hounding you Jeff. It must be that you have been the most vocal and adamant in your views, which are pretty much diametrically opposed to mine. Obviously this is something that we both feel very strongly about ). :D Anyway, I personally think that any moral values taught in the dojo should be passed on to the students through the techniques themselves, not explicitly by lecturing etc. Just by reading the posts it is obvious that many of us have very very different moral values and very different views on what kind of morality is implied by aikido. If an instructor tried to explain the morality behind aikido in the terms Jeff uses in his post I would want to walk out of the dojo. I love discussing morality with my peers, but I don't believe that the dojo is a place for lectures on morality. I guess I see aikido as more of a tool that fits into my already established moral code. This code will surely grow and develop, and aikido will play a large role in this, but aikido is not, in my opinion, a philosophy in and of itself. If someone were to try to teach moral values in the dojo, I think it would end up being their own moral values that they would be teaching, not aikido.

Bruce Baker
10-31-2002, 06:05 PM
It is my understanding that the Golden Bridge refers to the physical, spiritual, and guidance that comes from center for learning and connects it to another place.

On the Golden Bridge time, space, and feeling of a connection to a master, or masters is easily felt in the body, mind and spirit.

Physical connections merely reinforce the masters attempt to connect to physical places that should contain the spirit and physical practice of an art, such as Aikido.

Although some of this is simular to the yoga and meditation practices of India, it is within the perview of the master to bring his spirit of practice to places other than his home, hence there becomes a spirit of the master that can not be explained in physical terms but connects in the learning with a golden bridge of understanding to the person, place, or thing within the practice of an art.

Maybe the simplicity of traveling to seminars, and meeting the people who practice endows us with a golden bridge that allows us all to be friends within the practice of Aikido, and maybe it merely the practice that binds us as a loose family within our beliefs to make the world a better place, but in either case we take with us the connections of training partners to make the actions of practice into this mythological Golden Bridge.

Many of the spiritual aspects of our lives tie into physical actions that we perform as do the decisions we make ... what is really weird is how just being yourself, going to practice, and being the best you can be build this bridge of friendship that transcends all the diminutive flaws of those we meet in practice.

So although there is the physical presence of a teacher coming to practice, we also take with us the spirit of practice, the intent of making decisions that make the world a better place, and we stand in the way of those who would do harm to others. Simple, terms of being who you are, where you are, and having the tools, clarity of mind to make a difference.

If that is not connecting to a Golden Bridge, I don't know what is.

Of course, knowing how some Japanes think, he could have been saying that if you need to learn the essence of Aikido you must come to Japan where you will be welcome, but is the more materialisic view. Although it could be more true, in the logical sense of things, than my explanation, I would like to think O'Sensei didn't want 20 million practitioners swarming to Japan to train with him?

10-31-2002, 11:06 PM
Anyway, I personally think that any moral values taught in the dojo should be passed on to the students through the techniques themselves, not explicitly by lecturing etc. Just by reading the posts it is obvious that many of us have very very different moral values and very different views on what kind of morality is implied by aikido.I hate it when teachers lecture too much, but that's probably just me and my short attention span.

In the same way that a teacher can mention and discuss individual perspectives on a particular technique, I don't see a problem with a teacher mentioning the ways in which AiKiDo has affected their perspective on things outside the dojo. I don't have to agree with the teacher's politics in order to learn something from the way in which they do life-aikido.

I do agree, though, that it's really important to be sensitive to how different aikidoka really are from one another. That's true when you are talking about how they should live just as much as when you are talking about how they should do aikido.

Jeff Tibbetts
11-01-2002, 04:36 AM
hm©©© well, John, I think you said it best in that Aikido fits into our already existing morality© I think it did for me, too© That's actually tough to call, though, as I think I've been going through a lot of maturing and mental progress lately© This may or may not be because of Aikido, but it's certainly connected© I think that everything is connected and dealing with life is seeing all those connections for what they are and what they could be© I'm obsessed with Japan, I'm very interested in Aikido, I like vurtually anything to come out of Japan, etc© All these things are really all an extension of my love for Japan, but where that started I couldn't tell you© In some ways it seems like many people treat Aikido as a self-fulfilling prophecy, that is it becomes what they want it to© You could say the same about a belief in god or anything else, really, but in Aikido it seems people are quick to personalize it© I'm not really convinced that this is totally the way it was supposed to be, not that there's anything wrong with it having become that© I have heard lots of stories about O-Sensei's incomprehensible speaches, which were I think FAR more than many westerners are willing to swallow© Knowing very little of the principles behind Aikido means that we sort of have to "make it up" as we go© If we're not willing to accept the Kotodama, then we have to replace the spirituality with something else, usually other forms of spirituality that we're more familiar with© For most people I think that's Christianity, for those who want to fell more authentic it's Zen or other forms of Buddhism, but how many westerners relate to Ki and Aikido through it's real roots in Shinto and Omoto-Kyo religion© I'm not making any judgements, just remember that much of the way WE percieve and practice are not very similar to the way it was done in the beginning© Now, how this relates to the "Golden Bridge"©©© I think, if you read the life story or O-Sensei, you will find that he really thought the world would be a better place if everyone sort of melted all religions into one, which is kind of what Omoto-Kyo sounds like to me© If this is true than the way we're doing Aikido, mixing in other religions, is doing exactly what I think he may have wanted© The obvious pitfall is that one religion can't dominate the others, which may be difficult for some to swallow, from the hardline Christian to the Atheist in kind© I think that maybe it's become a more personal form as the proccess itself has become more beaurocratic and doesn't hold your hand as much© Maybe the Golden Bridge is simply the mind or the spirit of one person connecting to the next, and theirs to the next, and so on forever© If Aikido becomes more widespread it's not unthinkable to see a real mental connection through it to others© The end goal may be One Earth, wether we can see the benefit of any of this in our lifetime is of course highly unlikely© Man, sorry this is such a long post, this is a great topic©

Jeff Tibbetts
11-01-2002, 04:44 AM
sorry about the double post, I just reread the first post and I remembered a point I forgot to make© It's actually very likely that when He said things like wanting to build a Golden Bridge, that we're making much more of it than was intended© One thing that you must remember about O-Sensei, and Japanese culture in general, is that very often the words you choose are for aesthetic appeal more than what meaning they convey© A good speach is meant to work on many levels, while a clear meaning is often expressed, it's very often laced with subtle under and overcurrents of other meanings© He may have simply wanted to give people a mental picture, or it could be a total allegory for something else© Most likely both© I think it's a fun thing to think about, but remember that sometimes Japanese like to say things just to make you think©©© which is certainly true of O-Sensei©

thanks and sorry again for the double-post

11-01-2002, 10:44 AM
I was very interested in your reply Lynn
IMHO, its more of a moral privledge than an obligation to teach nonviolent conflict resolutions.
Does this mean that we can only talk about being less-aggressive if we have the power to protect ourselves like this without personal harm i.e. you need to be prepared to be more violent if needs be?

If this is correct do you think we should avtually teach more violent and simple techniques initially (so that less experienced people can protect themseleves) and then become more 'aikido' like as they progress - maybe this is how many martial artists develop; maybe it is a mistake to assume that a student of 1 year could effectively defend themselves without being quite ruthless (not that all situations necessarily involve a faceless attacker threatening your life).

I'd also agree that example is better than preaching, and in my experience people tend not to follow your preaching as much as follow your example (if they value it).


Bruce Baker
11-05-2002, 10:07 AM
In all the seminars I have been to, the Golden Bridge was best explained as the ability to get along because I am alligned with my God, you are alligned with your God ... so with this peace we enjoy from this allignment, we just have to get along.

The love of our God, the peace of our being is , in effect, the Golden Bridge that connects us together and allows us to be friends.

I believe this bridge will eventually show us the creation of man's religion verses the truth of the universe teaching us what we need to know. When we find this connection to a universal truth, we will begin to understand the faults of each other, accept them, and realize our own human flaws that keep us from connecting with a Golden Bridge.

Maybe that is too deep, or shallow for seeking to live in a heaven beyond earthly life, but we all are one of kind, having the fear of a limited life span until our body and energy rejoins the universe.

Maybe the notion of heaven is not so outrageous as we are generators of energy connecting to the energy of the universe, leaving the body upon death.

The Golden Bridge is just a way to connect with the energy of heaven?

Never mind me ... it is just my way of coming to grips with inevitablity of the human life span.

mike lee
11-05-2002, 10:42 AM
Do we have an obligation to teach moral values in the dojo. And if so, what moral values should we be teaching? And where does moral education and indoctrination differ?

I think that in the dojo it's very basic — that is, "what you see is what you get." The format is generally well established. The student's job is to adapt to what is often for them, a new environment. At first, the environment may seem to be a little cruel. But, little by little, through hints from fellow students and the instructor, they begin to see the reasons behind most of things that we do. But the hints help.

It's not education or indoctrination — it's a :do: .

The other day after class we all sat in a circle and had a short meeting. I told the students that rank was basically irrelevant — the only thing that matters is improving ourselves as human beings and skill. That's about all I said.

The reason I said it is because I hope they will all stay on the right path and not get too distracted or hung-up about promotions and rank. I hope that in their minds, the real point of training will be clear.

If someone suddenly promoted you to 10 dan, what would you do? Would your skill suddenly become better? Would your ego suddenly become massive? Or would you simply just return to the dojo and practice the way you've always done? What would change?