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IwamaRyuCole
12-08-2002, 05:32 PM
I've been doing Aikido for awhile, and i enjoy it alot, but the problem is that i dont really agree with alot with the whole 'spiritual' aspect of Aikido. I really like training from a techniqual standpoint but all this 'KI' stuff that I used to buy into is really starting to sound like more of a religion. I wanna do Aikido for a martial art, i already got a relgion, and for the most part i havent heard the word KI uttered in my dojo out of respect for people like me, but when i hear people talking about Aikido as a relgion it really turns me away from it. I just want to train in something that is really fun and effective, and in my time in Aikido i've found it to be both those things, but i really wanna ditch all this 'feel as one with the universe' stuff. Any thoughts on how to look at the whole spiritual stuff as something more down to earth so i dont feel like quiting would be appreciated.

Paula Lydon
12-08-2002, 06:28 PM
~~Sure, just don't go there if it's not for you. The 'spiritual' stuff, not the dojo. Even if you have to tell someone right out that you're not interested in that aspect. It's your business and your freedom of choice. Besides, no one but you knows about your true spirituality. So enjoy what you do from Aikido and blow off the rest and anyone who bugs you about it--like they know! ;)

Richard Elliott
12-08-2002, 06:30 PM
Hello Mr. Thornton

I would be interested in reading more specifically what "spiritual stuff" you may have in mind. I have listened in many classes, and read where Aikido is not ostensibly presented as religion, but it certainly seemed to me to be spoken or written "as if."

Many people have found, in Aikido, a way of thinking about life and a way of living that for whatever reason they haven't found in religion or other ideologies. Aikido does seem to provide these kind of "comprehensive"

insights of great depth and scope for people. I must admit I too am at a loss sometime when people talk about "being one with the universe" or 'universal KI", but I also know what difficulty many find with doctrines about the divinity of Christ, Trinity,etc., so mutual tolerance and respect has got to be the rule if you want to continue training for long. It sounds to me like you don't really have this problem in your dojo, so I'm assuming your post is of a more intellectual nature.

You wrote you used to "buy into" the KI stuff. Did something specific happen to change your view? Is KI used in your dojo as a principle? Do your techniques just "do" better without reference to this principle?

Chris Li
12-08-2002, 06:30 PM
I've been doing Aikido for awhile, and i enjoy it alot, but the problem is that i dont really agree with alot with the whole 'spiritual' aspect of Aikido. I really like training from a techniqual standpoint but all this 'KI' stuff that I used to buy into is really starting to sound like more of a religion. I wanna do Aikido for a martial art, i already got a relgion, and for the most part i havent heard the word KI uttered in my dojo out of respect for people like me, but when i hear people talking about Aikido as a relgion it really turns me away from it. I just want to train in something that is really fun and effective, and in my time in Aikido i've found it to be both those things, but i really wanna ditch all this 'feel as one with the universe' stuff. Any thoughts on how to look at the whole spiritual stuff as something more down to earth so i dont feel like quiting would be appreciated.
IMO, if you dump the 'feel as one with the universe' stuff then you would no longer really be doing Aikido. Morihei Ueshiba combined his martial arts experience (primarily Daito-ryu) with his spiritual experience (primarily Omoto-kyo) in order to create his new art. I would think that ignoring one or the other of the branches leaves you with something different than what he created. That's not necessarily bad, just different.

Best,

Chris

Erik
12-08-2002, 09:27 PM
Hi Cole!

Some comments below but first I wasn't aware that you guys were Iwama Ryu. Did something change or did I just misinterpret something? I know your current teacher and the prior one trained there but I thought they had made some minor shifts.
I really like training from a techniqual standpoint but all this 'KI' stuff that I used to buy into is really starting to sound like more of a religion.
Personally, I've got no use for religion and little more for ki as many see it.
I just want to train in something that is really fun and effective, and in my time in Aikido i've found it to be both those things, but i really wanna ditch all this 'feel as one with the universe' stuff.
I ran in those circles for awhile and I felt a lot of the same things you did. Unfortunately, no one I saw was ever one with the universe.
Any thoughts on how to look at the whole spiritual stuff as something more down to earth so i dont feel like quiting would be appreciated.
I did a lot of picking and choosing. I'm pretty comfortable that I know what you are talking about (although detail would help) and the way I dealt with it was by taking the parts I wanted and forgetting about the rest. I also supplemented it with a dose of folks who never looked at things spiritually. Not sure that is an option in Fresno but it was here and it worked for me.

By the way, doing that produces a seemingly funny mix. I'm too spiritual for some and not enough for others. It's always interested me that how this area polarizes folks.

Bruce Baker
12-08-2002, 09:43 PM
Touchy feely stuff?

It's more like "... how did you throw me so hard?"

The teacher answers, "I used my Ki."

So you try to find out why they are using so little effort with this thing called ki, and it turns out to be a combination of self hypnotism, and being able to properly use the forces of their body.

The big question about Ki is "what the heck is it?"

Maybe it is the same unbridled strength you find in your religion, or religious icon ... be it Jesus, Allah, The Great Spirit, or even your pet rock. It is the magic strength of not thinking an pure belief that connects the body and mind, and yet it is also the knowledgable use of bodily forces used in tandem with this state of mind.

Don't matter how you consider it, but sometimes you can't get there from here because you are not in the proper frame of mind to connect body and mind.

Don't get all touchy feely, or even hardcore bent out of shape, because there are so many ways to get there from here.

Most of the time, I think it is the accentuation of movement without thinking about it. Most people relate that as connecting to Ki, the life force or energy of life within our universe.

Maybe finding Ki is the result of being absolutely exhausted with no strength and yet you will yourself to have strength and cause yourself to move with your will?

I found my Ki by forcing myself to move until my body physically collasped into near unconsciousness. Can't say how you will find how to tap into your willpower to strength, but that is just about what descibes the way to link body and mind into another strength beyond muscular strength.

Good luck.

DanD
12-08-2002, 09:51 PM
Sounds like a "self - atemi" to me. Why don't you try a Tenkan instead ?;)

Blend with what you learn and adopt what you like. IMHO It's a religion only if YOU make it one.

chadsieger
12-08-2002, 10:48 PM
Hey Cole,

I hope it doesn't feel like people are coming down on you. They really aren't.

The overrinding principle of Aikido as Ueshiba saw it goes something like,

"Peace/Love is ultimatly the most powerful, beneficial, and constant force in the universe."

I assume your religion says something along thoses lines as well. No conflict. :D

As far as ki; Ki is used to describe many "grey" aspects of what we do. Some of these are metaphysical, yet some are quite physical. If you need some physical examples, as your sensei. The physical examples don't have to be attributed to "ki" per se, so feel free to find your own way of describing/explaining them.

Regardless, there shouldn't be any conflict. It is Aikido after all!

Sieger

Williamross77
12-08-2002, 10:49 PM
try to think of KI as Koichi Tohei explaines.

As far as i know he was quoted as saying about O'Sensei, "As far as the gods turnning into purple smoke and entering his body... he was the most relaxed martial artist i ever worked with but i never saw any purple smoke".

well i see it personally like a way to view the "universe" or all of you and the things that are not you. not religion spirit but like a big sports fan type of spirit and will power. As far as your soul is concerned you can use KI as another gift of what ever God you subscribe to, but it does not have to be the golden calf for you. more like Binoculars for the body and "MIND".

aikigreg
12-09-2002, 09:42 AM
Aikido IS Spiritual

Aikido IS NOT religion

Some people can't differentiate between the two, but I think if you just go and train the rest will sort itself out. It has for most of us who train spiritually yet have a different religion from the founder/shihan/our sensei.

MikeE
12-09-2002, 11:20 AM
A caveat for Greg:

Aikido does not have to be spiritual.

But, it can be depending on your definition of "spiritual".

If you think of the term "spiritual" as something more secular and less religious. I have people of many different faiths in my schools, for the people who are looking for "religious grounding" I think they can find it in Aikido, if they want to. For the people not interested in that; I think they can use the physical analogy provided by aikido as a way of looking introspectively at themselves (without religious connotation). Practicing Aikido inherently means you are trying to improve some aspect of your life that is lacking. This can be construed as a spiritual or non-spiritual quest.

I really like the way Bill Ross paraphrased it from Tohei Sensei.

In Aiki,

PhilJ
12-09-2002, 12:43 PM
Cole,

As you progress, you might find your needs changing. Right now, as Mike implied, you simply don't have those needs. No big deal, right?

Think of aikido as a complement to a religion. The training, at some point if not now, will help you be a better Christian/Muslim/Wiccan/etc.

Until then, do what everyone does -- we get out of aikido what we want to get. :)

Good luck,

*Phil

Judd
12-09-2002, 02:42 PM
I don't think the concept of Ki is religious at all. In Tohei's book, Ki in Daily Life, he explains many examples of Ki, and it is certainly not religious. In one section, he speaks of the ability for people to heal themselves with a positive frame of mind, or posistive Ki. This is not magical or spiritual in the least. Being positive and relaxed in your mind, in turn, opens blood vessels wider, carrying nutrients and filtering toxins faster to promote general health. Being tense, or having "stagnant ki" restricts blood flow, causes the muscles to produce lactic acid, etc.

He continues by telling a story of a Zen monk who has teburculosis (sp?) in a time when is was certain death to have the disease. The monk decided that he would at least die in a Zen stance, so he gets up, clears his mind and meditates that day, expecting death. Day after day he does this until his illness goes away and he lives to 75. It's all about mind and body, ki is just a way of describing it, his religion had nothing to do with it.

I'm quite atheist, by the way, and I tend to stay clear of religion, I personally do not need it. That's why I like Aikido, in particular, Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido. It emphasizes Ki, which, unlike a religion that worships a higher power, is the about the power of self, unified.

MikeE
12-09-2002, 05:48 PM
So, as my able assistant stated:
[QUOTE=

Until then, do what everyone does -- we get out of aikido what we want to get. :)[/QUOTE]I have a good friend (who is a Bujinkan instructor) that is an atheist, also. I love to get into intellectual scraps on how it seems he defends his lack of religion with such "religious zeal"

Just being chippy. :)

On the "ki" aspect of things. I know Tohei Sensei was able to frame Ki into something he could get his mind around and grasp. His interpretation, while helping me very much, does not take away some of the mysticism of Ki. (Perhaps, if I ever reach his level, *doubtful* I will have the concept of ki in the palm of my hand).

In Aiki,

opherdonchin
12-09-2002, 06:38 PM
Aikido IS Spiritual

Aikido IS NOT religion

Some people can't differentiate between the twoI can't. Want to help me out?

Less flippantly (although I really would like to know what the difference is, Greg):

Many people have said that it is 'legitimate' (by whatever standards) to take away from AiKiDo only those things that speak to you and that you can understand in a particular moment. I've always found this to be sort of a 'saving grace' of the philosophical side of AiKiDo. I felt like the philosophical aspects weren't something I was required to believe in, although I did think about them a lot and with time came to see that I had adopted many attitudes that used to trouble me.

I guess the really interesting question to ask

Cole (from my perspective) would be which aspects of the philosophy were particularly difficult for him to accept, and whether there were other parts that he found easier to come to terms with. I'm curious, in general, whether people generally fall into two camps (touchy-feely vs. fight-to-win) or whether there are some aspects of the philosophy that come more easily to most people.

IwamaRyuCole
12-09-2002, 07:10 PM
thanks for all the comments and views, they are helping me see if i still wanna pursue aikido or if another art (BJJ for instince) would be more suited for me.

DanD
12-09-2002, 07:12 PM
Oh Oh,

I see that we’re on a crash course (again !!!) to a religious debate :eek: .

Oh well… Just a quick note to Cole – see the fact that people from so many ethnicities and religions are practicing Aikido. How about seeing the universal in the “Universal…” ?

I’m with Opher on the spiritual issue. Take the spiritual from Aikido and IMHO you took it spirit of it.

As for the level and balance between your religion and Aikido’s "spiritual" side, I think it’s up to you. In some schools of Aikido, mainly in Japan, people don’t ask questions. The just practice until getting to the level when things make sense and it all(well, never all :) ) ties.

My 2 cents are to practice and get into depth of things before making a judgment. Unless you’re involved with an "overly spiritual" Sensei/school I’m sure one can live with that.

Good luck

ralphbecket
12-09-2002, 07:30 PM
I'm a newcomer to Aikido, but for my money ki refers to achieving a physical and mental state that maximises the efficiency of one's aikido.

Apart from that, it's physics all the way down (there are, no doubt, people who train at my dojo who believe there may be something metaphysical about the whole thing, but the end result seems to be the same.)

Whatever it is, I can attest to its effectiveness when training with people who seem to have got the hang of it!

- Ralph

thomasgroendal
12-09-2002, 09:02 PM
just a thought.

O sensei did all sorts of purple smoke religious stuff. He didn't make his students do it. Sometimes I might teach a technique as think about your lunch the whole time you do it. People do this and their center of gravity is in their stomach. Easier to focus on than oneness with the universe, for a beginner, and less offensive for the anti-religious modern Japanese.

It is metaphoric language for a level of combat and spatial relationship that your body and spirit deal with more effectively than your conscious mind. Too much technique and you will need your conscious to translate decisions between your body parts.

Not a good idea when doing techniques or for that matter, driving your car. Take it with a grain of salt, and test whatever you hear for validity in your technique. If it describes a state of heart/mind, an attitude, that makes your aikido 10X as effective. Restate it in less dogmatic language and go with it. Otherwise, it is probably someone showing off their fuzzy metaphysics, and brilliant vocabulary...

The funny thing is that no one around me (japan) EVER mentions the religious, spiritual or MORAL implications of Aikido at all. The students just think it is a thing to do. I know a few black belts who didn't know who Morihei Ueshiba was! I think they thought that the local shihan had made aikido.

IwamaRyuCole
12-09-2002, 09:19 PM
i think what its finaly boiling down to is this... when i start to think about all the spiritual aspects they start coming off too heavy.:straightf i think i'll take the advice most of you were giving and just take what i want of it now, and leave that other stuff for when i feel like i want/need it:) As for the "buying into" comment i had, that comes from the fact that i used to be really into KI, i would read books and stuff, but iam really into western philosophies and politics as well as aincent Rome and stuff now, so it is swaying my beliefes from more towards eastern to a median between the two, and with that all of the metaphysical idea's of KI. well, iam sure i'll work it all out, thanks folks.

YEME
12-09-2002, 09:49 PM
I will admit that some of the students in my first class displayed cult follower characteristics. But then any group of people dressed the same and trying to achieve same goal will look like that.

... the occasional speech we get on life is weird. Is that part of the 'religious' thing?

Are my classes just not in tune with the

spiritual side of aikido?

should i be reading daily zen quotes or summin???

Maybe I haven't been paying enough attention.

Erik
12-10-2002, 12:35 AM
Cole, I sent you a private message. Or was it an email? I'm pretty sure it was one of those at least. :)

aikigreg
12-10-2002, 10:08 AM
I can't. Want to help me out?

Less flippantly (although I really would like to know what the difference is, Greg):

Many people have said that it is 'legitimate' (by whatever standards) to take away from AiKiDo only those things that speak to you and that you can understand in a particular moment. I've always found this to be sort of a 'saving grace' of the philosophical side of AiKiDo. I felt like the philosophical aspects weren't something I was required to believe in, although I did think about them a lot and with time came to see that I had adopted many attitudes that used to trouble me.
Smartarse ;)

You know what a religion is, of course. Worship of some higher power - the Creator, God, Odin, Gaia, whatever you want to call it.

But spirituality doesn't need religion to operate necessarily. It's that bit of soul inside us that makes us what to be part of something bigger than ourselves. It's our attempt to walk a path of self-improvement. It's the connection we make with other people - Musubi. It's these things, and more.

When I started Aikido, I was a complete atheist, but after a couple years of going through the motions of the martial art, and after having those connections with people I found I was still developing spiritually without the context of a religion. Like a tree's root had found the cold hard place inside me and started putting cracks in it.

Wow. None of this makes a lick of sense, and sounds way more new agey and touchy feely than I actually am. I don't think about this stuff on a day to day basis - I just go and train. In training I connect with other people on a deep level. Because of this I grow somehow that has nothing to do with religion.

That's why it's different. Do with it what you will. And stop questioning me :freaky: :p

Bruce Baker
12-10-2002, 10:15 AM
Listen to what I am telling you.

Ki is achieving a state of mind that connects you mind to the physical body in a way that by passes normal physical strength.

Thought ... but no thought.

Directing force beyond the immediate so that the mental thoughts are almost like a hypnotism of reaching across the room to grab or push an item far out of your reach as if your wanting to grab or push the item could make it move.

With this mental picture, which is the basis of iron arm or iron body, you are able to increase the force of movements so they feel as if there is no effort at all.

You are mentally connecting your body and mind to attain the mystical manifestation of ki, which is merely this connection that manifests in results beyond normal strength when not using this method.

Anyone can learn it. Anyone can use it.

You must a variety of rooting, unrooting exercises, and you must learn about transition and flow between the physical techniques of practice without using individual pieces of your body, but be able to call up your entire body to focus upon one point.

It is not mystical, but a practical application mind, body, and practice.

The most difficult task is to get your affairs of in order, in your mind that is, so that you are not troubled by mentally distracting thoughts of your everyday life.

Be here, now.

It is a simple statement with many complex steps to attain ... some almost impossible with youth, sex, drugs, and wanting to physically rock and roll rather than clearing your mind so it can connect to the physical body in the use of force named Ki/Chi.

Enough of the disertation.

Try the mental picture of reaching across the room without stopping the energy in any part of your arm or hand ... as if it were coming out of your fingertips and could actually reach across the room when you do techniques in practice.

If you can get that simple exercise, then you will have begun your journey to finding the appication people call ki/chi energy. Use it in your Aikido practice and see if you do reach a higher level of practice.

Too simple?

Most efficient uses of energy are.

Thalib
12-10-2002, 10:26 AM
Mushin... Emptiness of thought...

But, this does not mean one becomes a drooling idiot.

Act, not react...

MikeE
12-10-2002, 10:43 AM
Once again. I can't wait till I have it all figured out like our friend Bruce.

It's just that easy.

;)

Jappzz
12-12-2002, 05:46 AM
I dont see the problem. What's so mysterious about ki. We've all seen it work for proficient Aikidoka, and that would prove it's existenceas a concept. If its a paranormal phenomenon or just the end result of diligent training seems unimportant.

As for the "religious" aspects of aikido i can't understand what's so threatening about them.

As i see it they'r just mere expressions of very fundamental human concepts like harmony(the art itself or possibly meditation), greatfulness(bowing and other courtios acts) respect and compassion for your fellow man(the non-violent aspect of Aikido) etc.

Integral parts of most religions.

If you can love "thy fellow man" in the name of god or allah then why should that have to change when we walk into a dojo? Is it just because the means of expressing these concept are Japanese??

You're not a lesser christian just because you say "thanks" in japanese or label your "go-with-tha-flow" with a holistic asian koncept called KI.

Just my two cents

Jesper Arenskogh

opherdonchin
12-12-2002, 12:26 PM
Thanks, Greg. That actually helped a lot.
You know what a religion is, of course. Worship of some higher power - the Creator, God, Odin, Gaia, whatever you want to call it.
I actually would have probably called this a theology.

When I think about it, I think you're saying that if you 'recognize the existence' of something bigger than you than that is spirituality whereas if you 'worship' that something, then that would be religion. That's an interesting way to divide it up that I hadn't thought about before.
When I started Aikido, I was a complete atheist, but after a couple years of going through the motions of the martial art, and after having those connections with people I found I was still developing spiritually without the context of a religion.I deeply identify with this statement except that I'm willing (if pushed) to call this same thing a religioun.

Not that this discussion goes anywhere, really. It's just about the words.

aikigreg
12-13-2002, 10:03 AM
Thanks, Greg. That actually helped a lot.

When I think about it, I think you're saying that if you 'recognize the existence' of something bigger than you than that is spirituality whereas if you 'worship' that something, then that would be religion. That's an interesting way to divide it up that I hadn't thought about before.

I deeply identify with this statement except that I'm willing (if pushed) to call this same thing a religioun.
:cool: Something I said made sense for a change! What you think I'm saying is pretty close, except I would also add that connection/musubi with other beings is an important part of that, as is personal growth. Those people that you see that never change, never grow, and never tap into their potential I would call non-spiritual.

But I'd never call it a religion, though I think they can mesh very well together if you want them to. I think an Aikidoka who applied the concept of doing as little harm as possible is more suited to become a Spiritual Warrior than the Crusaders were.

jaime exley
12-13-2002, 10:20 PM
It seems that there are as many versions of Aikido's spirituality as there are ways to do Shomenuchi Ikkyo. I won't bore anyone with my version of either in this forum, but I will share an interesting story with you.

There is a teacher in Japan for whom I have a great deal of admiration and affection. At the front of his dojo there is a scroll. The top two thirds of this scroll are filled with the Kanji for the words "Ai" and "Ki" while the bottom third (where the "do" would go) has been left blank. When asked about this scroll and the absense of the third word, Sensei has been known to reply... "this is the part you must discover for yourself".

I must admit that I am someone for whom Aikido is intensly spiritual, but if you ever catch me talking too much about it, please shut me up with a good strong kotegaeshi.

SeiserL
12-14-2002, 10:24 AM
IMHO, I think there are a lot of schools that teach more technical profiency and alignment over the philosphical jargon. If the school you train at has a different focus than what matches for you, try a different school.

OTOH, you can always reframe the words so that your personal meaning is less universal or spiritual. Or, learn that the spiritual has soemthing to offer you too.

Until again,

Lynn

opherdonchin
12-14-2002, 12:15 PM
But I'd never call it a religion, though I think they can mesh very well together if you want them to.
At the risk of scaring away the original poster (who seems to have made up their own mind already):

My thinking about AiKiDo, spirituality and religion changed one day when I had the following thought. Let's pretend that I scrupulously followed Jewish religious law. I kept kosher, kept the sabbath, went to synagogue on Saturday and laid tefillin twice a day. In fact, let's make it easier and just say that I go to synagogue every Saturday and participate in the service. However, in this hypothetical, I don't believe in 'God' (whatever that means), I just get something of spirituality and connection from the whole thing or maybe I just like the people.

I may be justified in saying that I'm not religious, but I would be foolish to ignore the fact that I'm actively engaged in religious practice. As far as AiKiDo goes, I recognize that I spend some 8 to 12 hours a week actively engaged in what is really a religious practice. My own feelings about it aside, it seems right to keep this in mind.

siwilson
12-14-2002, 02:16 PM
Hope this makes some sense:

http://www.shudokan.org.uk/about/ki/index.htm

Bruce Baker
12-14-2002, 03:07 PM
Really, don't quote me. I am but the mouse that roared.

Most of the time I am butting my head with the voices of experience who get irate because I haven't been training for upteen years, and stay strickly within the measured doctrines of Aikido. Every so often, I do refer to things hinted at by people who have been there and done that, and they have left crumbs for me to follow,just as I do to you.

So, come on guys and girls, take stock of the special times when you are ...

In the groove...

Can do no wrong ...

Having the best day or practice of your life ...

Able to see what is happening three of more moves ahead while being here and now ...

Tapping into that second wind that seems to be twice as strong as your normal first wind ...

These are all ways that begin to tap into the edges of Ki/chi power.

Everyone has had some type of moment when they were stronger than usual, able to think clearer than usual, and most of us blow it off as readily as giving a dollar to a bum on the street.

Don't blow it off, find out why it works so well, or at least catalogue it in your mind for a later reference.

Listen to what people tell you, but find the practical applications for this power of ki you seek.

It may not even touch upon any religious context, ever. Then again, you might plant a seed that cracks your perception of what you though was religion, and open up to the practicallity of why we need it to balance our mind and spiritual well being in some shape or form.

On two levels of physical practice, and spiritual well being, the mind and body must be clear of most turmoil to work together to find this magic we call ki.

Only, it ain't nothing but a coming to grips with your problems thing.

So, get a grip.

Work out the problems in your mind that hinder your practice, or at least the ability to connect body and mind. For some people it is a distraction that allows this connection, for others it is no distraction that allows it to happen.

If you read all the writings of O'Sensei you will either get it, or your head will explode!

Just Kidding ... no exploding head, headache maybe.

Get a small sample of how efficiently less works more, and that is the road to finding the mystical ki.

No Kidding. No special religion. No confusing demands of practicing five days a week.

About practicing five days a week, if you are truly cognizant of what you are learning in Aikido, three days a week, with three or four seminars a year is more than enough practice, at least it is for me.... But that is another can of worms.

opherdonchin
12-14-2002, 07:32 PM
Bruce, a lot of your posts are difficult to follow, but this one left me completely befuddled. I don't know who you are responding to or how what you are saying relates to any of the threads within this thread. Probably my own oafishness :) Not that it matters much, of course.