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PeterR
01-06-2003, 04:21 AM
Ok I got a question.

I keep hearing the phrase "incorporating Aikido in daily life".

Perhaps its feeling a little worn to my ears but how exactly do individuals do this.

Personally. I pretty much am in the dojo as I am in real life and I don't think that my behaviour anywhere has changed because of my Aikido. I behave in a certain way depending on circumstance be it in the dojo, a concert hall or at work - but the underlying core remains.

In recent threads people have talked of conflict between Aiki and martial, between Aikido and fitness and frankly I don't see it. There seems to be a separation of various aspects whereas I see it all as a whole. There is no conflict, and no need to move the dojo lessons outside of the dojo. Aikido is part of my daily life because I do Aikido.

Perhaps it's time for a poll question.

I live Budo
I do Budo
I don't do Budo

happysod
01-06-2003, 06:02 AM
Thank goodness for this post, I thought it was just me.

I'd also like to add the "spiritual advancement" to the list, I'm afraid I haven't been able to separate getting older and changing from aikido and changing.

L. Camejo
01-06-2003, 06:26 AM
I think it comes down to one's approach to Aikido and life. If Aikido is treated as Budo - a way of life so to speak, then there is no difference between life on the mat and off the mat.

But if one takes their mat time as something separate from the rest of their daily life, as an extra curricular activity or something, it can be construed as separate because the perception is one of being "In Aikido mode" when doing Aikido and "going back to normal" when out of the dojo.

Some of my students raised similar questions about this.

Personally, I regard training as Budo. I'm an Aikido Lifer :) The world is my mat :)

L.C.:ai::ki:

MikeE
01-06-2003, 06:26 AM
I am a better person off the mat, because of my training on the mat.

I am a better Aikidoka on the mat, because of my training off the mat.

Maybe I look at Aikido as something more than an "in the dojo" thing. It has definitely effected my life in a fashion that extends to almost everything I do. The philosophy of Aikido has given me a doorway to improving myself as a person.

Peter, maybe your spirit and self were flawlessly forged through your life experiences. Me on the otherhand, I need the guidance and example of Aikido.

I apply aikido principles in my daily life. I practice to keep my one point when dealing with people or things that would take it. (Just like on the mat)

I try to convey myself to others (extend ki) in a positive friendly fashion. (Just like on the mat)

I try to stay aware of my surroundings at all times (Just like on the mat)

Etc., etc., etc.

In my meager 8 years of teaching, the students who were able to apply aikido principles were the ones who "got it" quicker on the mat.

Just my humble opinion.

Ghost Fox
01-06-2003, 06:41 AM
Wow, Aikido has changed my life in so many ways.

Physically:

*I now walk with a more rooted gait as oppose to my previous light on my feet TKD walk.

*My posture is more relaxed and yet my overall posture has improved.

Mentally:

*I am aware of my surroundings, but not mentally beating up people in my mind.

*I am more confident in my overall ability in life, and able to take charge more.

*I'm so busy with the present (breathing, posture, movement) that I don't spend as much time dwelling on the past or future as I once did.

Spiritually:

*I'm starting to develop a natural love and empathy for people.

*I'm more willing to share my feelings more with the people I love.

*I'm more willing to confront people who need to be confronted, and I do so in a calm and reasonable manner.

*I've learned that I'm not perfect and that's okay. The most important thing is to learn from my mistakes, and be willing to make the appropriate changes.

I also:

*Tenkan during the day when moving around the copier and people.

*Open doors by either extending ki with unbendable arm or stepping back as in Katatori Ikkyo.

*Drive with the idea of blending and flowing with traffic, as opposed to racing the other cars.

*Practice my Tai Sabaki for Randori in the NYC Rush hour crowd.

*Don't carry as many weapons as I used to.

Peace and Blessings.

Ghost Fox
01-06-2003, 06:43 AM
P.S.

Also if my wife is arguing with me, a quick Iriminage usually shuts her up.;)

Luv.

SeiserL
01-06-2003, 07:52 AM
IMHO, relax and breath more rather than being tense, blend rather than resist, flow rather than have a rigid plan, harmony in which we both win rather than a win/lose philosophy, enjoy the process/training/Keiko of living rather than the end goal, and read AikiWeb daily to keep reminding myself.

Until again,

Lynn

one4k4
01-06-2003, 08:21 AM
I also find that practice, albeit short for me so far, has affected my daily life greatly. Some of the bullets Damion has mentioned apply to me as well. I'll have to try the imininage on the wife. ;) But for the most part I'm still growing.

I have my ups and downs, like any normal person, but I find that I'm quietly slowing down my mental "beating up on people", and such. (Maybe I can't explain it right..) Just this past weekend I got in a verbal argument with the security guard at my apartment building here. The issue was regarding something as simple as moving my car so the plow can get through.. regardless of who was right, or wrong, I called him an ass and acted much louder (in words, not necessarily volum) than I should have. As soon as I hung up the phone, the 20/20 hindsight kicked in, and I promply went to apologize for shooting the messenger, shook his hand, and had quite the conversation with him about other things..

Six months ago I was a lot more confronting. Both in my head, and with my language. Flowing with traffic has replaced racing everybody to get there first.. wherever there may be. I've stopped arguing with people in my head, well maybe not stopped but I'm working on it. I've found that worrying about a possible argument leads to the argument itself.

Regardless, I think the Aikido practice has helped me become a bit more centered. I think about it a lot, think about the techniques we learn in class, and think about the day-to-day personal aspects as well. It's calmed me, indeed. It's also helped me with becoming more humbled, helped to talk about my feelings more. To do whatever will help the issue at hand, instead of mulling over it in my head. I guess I'm just less stubborn. ;)

Lyle Bogin
01-06-2003, 09:36 AM
As important as it is to incorporate aikido into daily life, I think it is just as important to incorparate daily life into aikido.

PhilJ
01-06-2003, 10:12 AM
There is no conflict, and no need to move the dojo lessons outside of the dojo. Aikido is part of my daily life because I do Aikido.
Peter, what a great perspective. It always intrigues me to hear from people who do something similar but yet have a different viewpoint. Like, having that extra pair of eyes helping me debug the computer program I'm working on. :)

A historical/vocab question. If you don't apply aikido to daily life, then isn't it aikijutsu? If your aikido training end when you walk out the door, how is that "do" and not "jutsu"?

I think it's hard to not integrate aikido into daily life. It's like breathing to me, there's always an exhale to an inhale (or vice-versa). But then, I guess it depends on how you practice -- no one wants to do hard stuff off the mat, it's too tiring.

I believe for off-the-mat to work, certain criteria needs addressing:

1. The art needs to be maintainable in daily life. If it's hard, you'll tire quickly.

2. Willingness to practice and make mistakes in front of non-aikidoka

3. Realism must pervade; nothing worse than hocus-pocus that doesn't work.

4. Maintaining center is important to keep your mental/emotional balance in check.

Am I way off? Or are you all asleep by now? :o

...and when I reach the count of 1, you will wake up feeling fully refreshed...

*Phil :)

Bronson
01-06-2003, 02:54 PM
If you don't apply aikido to daily life, then isn't it aikijutsu? If your aikido training end when you walk out the door, how is that "do" and not "jutsu"?

Phil, I may be wrong but I don't think this is what Peter was getting at. I think he was getting at the idea that if you consciously have to apply aikido to "daily life" then in your mind they are seperate. A fellow who used to do tai chi with me several years ago was an american indian medicine man/teacher. He once told me that the american indian languages he knew had no word for religion. The religious practices they followed were part of their everyday life. So in effect the "word" for religion would be "everyday life". That sounds really convoluted. I hope it makes sense.

Another example I use that is often taken the wrong way is this: "I am no longer excited about going to the dojo." Many people take this to mean that I don't like aikido anymore. What it really means to me is that aikido has taken a place in my life much like brushing my teeth, eating, bathing, or breathing. I don't get excited about any of these things but I do them everyday without fail. The things I get excited about are those things which are novel and not part of me or my daily life. Again, I hope that makes sense.

Bronson

MikeE
01-06-2003, 03:25 PM
Bronson,

That seems to be your interpretation of what Peter meant.

opherdonchin
01-06-2003, 03:35 PM
When I was in college, I was on the crew team. After a few years, it seemed like the metaphor of crew was everywhere in my daily life. I often thought or said things like, "this issue of focus / teamwork / intensity and relaxation / commitment / whatever reminds me a lot of the same sort of issue that we have when we row ..."

Now, after a fair number of years in AiKiDo, it is AiKiDo that keeps coming up as a metaphor. I often say, "I don't know what the answer to this is, but I know what sort of answer AiKiDo brings to mind."

One of the lessons that I started learning on the crew team and that AiKiDo has reinforced is that it's often better to notice things than to try to fix them. I would say that this lesson applies here: I get much more mileage out of noticing the ways that AiKiDo has affected my daily life than out of looking for ways to apply it.

If what you notice is that it really hasn't affected you very much, you may want to ask yourself what it is that you are getting out of all the time you put into it. I prefer to put my time into activities from which I learn and grow.

PhilJ
01-06-2003, 04:45 PM
Phil, I may be wrong but I don't think this is what Peter was getting at. I think he was getting at the idea that if you consciously have to apply aikido to "daily life" then in your mind they are seperate.
I see what you're saying, I hadn't thought of that perspective. It's hard to tell, so maybe Mr. Rehse will elaborate when he gets a chance. :)

I agree with the idea that oft times on-the-mat and off-the-mat are often treated as separate concepts, but I don't think that is a "bad" thing at all. I have to separate them in my mind still... but that's just because my level is not 'there' yet. If it were 'there', I doubt ANYone could understand what I say.

In my youth, I was quite unruly, and as such Aikido helped me learn to control myself and stabilize -- Aikido helped me do that. If I didn't change and work on my ego, I would simply stagnate. That is my point of contention.

*Phil

PeterR
01-06-2003, 07:31 PM
Please forgive my initial clumsy attempt to tie a few threads togeather and articulate something that was bothering me. I was happy to find that my feelings were being addressed.

Bronson is very close to what I intended to convey. As a quick qualifier in answer to Philip. A historical/vocab question. If you don't apply aikido to daily life, then isn't it aikijutsu? If your aikido training end when you walk out the door, how is that "do" and not "jutsu"?I take the "do" very seriously (its the main reason I returned to Japan) and without a doubt the practice of Aikido has changed me physically and mentally. With one exception though, these changes can best be described as passive.

And of course I was perfectly forged. :p

The exception was that my driving actually improved through adapting physical aikido principles and quite possibly that application improved my Aikido.

PhilJ
01-06-2003, 08:27 PM
Peter:

I thought this seemed odd coming from you. :)

Since I'm writing this on my iPAQ, I'll keep it short. You certainly brought up a good point. I'm just not that capable just yet. :)

Bronson
01-06-2003, 09:22 PM
I get much more mileage out of noticing the ways that AiKiDo has affected my daily life than out of looking for ways to apply it.

Boy, I wish I'd said that.

Thanks Opher that help me put some thoughts toghther about this. I rarely if ever think "ok, I'm going to apply aikido principle X in this situation." What does happen is exactly what Opher said, I do something or react to someone in some way and then later I think "hey, that's different from how I used to do it...hey! that was aikido principle X at work....COOL!" For some reason I just can't intellectually/consciously force this stuff into the way I am. I just have to wait for it seep out whenever it happens (that sounded funny but you know what I mean ;) ). This approach takes longer but it's the one that works for me.

Bronson

opherdonchin
01-06-2003, 11:53 PM
I take the "do" very seriously (its the main reason I returned to Japan) and without a doubt the practice of Aikido has changed me physically and mentally. With one exception though, these changes can best be described as passive.Either I don't understand you very well, Peter, or we are looking at this issue in very similar ways. I'm honestly not sure which it is. I have a hard time understanding how that last quote goes with the following one:Personally. I pretty much am in the dojo as I am in real life and I don't think that my behaviour anywhere has changed because of my Aikido.It makes me feel like I'm missing something in what you are trying to say.

PeterR
01-07-2003, 01:23 AM
Either I don't understand you very well, Peter, or we are looking at this issue in very similar ways. I'm honestly not sure which it is. I have a hard time understanding how that last quote goes with the following one:It makes me feel like I'm missing something in what you are trying to say.
Well I did say my expression was clumsy.

Firtly I don't see how the two quotes contradict each other. Both physically and mentally I am better at doing Aikido than when I started - this does not necessarily translate into changes of behaviour outside the dojo. Within the dojo there is a certain amount of learned behaviour but I don't think Aikido has transformed my core being. Like all experiences of which Aikido is only one - that core can be refined. I actually think the purpose of Budo is not to transform (it's not boot camp) but to refine. Moreover, the refinement may be guided but it is essentially self driven.

Secondly, let me take another stab at expressing what I was trying to say. I used the term "passive" to express the effect of my Aikido practice on my outside dojo life. Perhaps a better term would be mushin. I just don't find myself "actively" applying Aikido concepts to situations. I also don't do Aikido because of some perceived personal short comings. In the latter case there are usually much more direct paths. If Aikido practice has a long term effect fine but to take the thread full circle - I still have difficulty with the idea of taking Aikido specific concepts as practiced in the dojo and "applying" them to daily life.

Peter Goldsbury
01-07-2003, 02:27 AM
It is interesting that our training histories differ in so many ways, but that I tend to see eye to eye with Peter R. on a wide variety of topics, this one included. So I am looking forward to meeting him in person this weekend.

Looking back on my own training history, I think that the question of "applying aikido in daily life", i.e., outside the dojo on occasions that one could specify, was a live issue in only one dojo. This dojo was in the USA. In that dojo there was a general feeling/ethos that (a) practice had to have tangible results on one's life, preferably the sooner the better, and (b) there were discoverable aikido 'principles' which were of value in a moral or ethical way. What is of interest is that this ethos did not originate from the (Japanese) instructor, but from some of the senior students.

I shall shortly have completed my 23rd year here and I have never come across this way of thinking among my Japanese dojo colleagues. If it exists, it is kept firmly in the private domain. I do not deny that 30-odd years of training has affected me in many ways (I cannot comment on my driving habits, but my friends in the UK say they have deteriorated: this might be because I live in Hiroshima, a city notorious in Japan for gangsters and bad driving), but it is hard to state what these effects are and to be clear that they are the effects of aikido training and of nothing else.

So, I do not say that it is wrong to look for practical applications of one's aikido "in daily life", but I would stress that not doing this does not in any way diminish the value of training. In my opinion aikido is an activity which contains its own end: in this respect it is like happiness as Aristotle conceived it.

Best regards to all,

opherdonchin
01-07-2003, 09:57 AM
Both physically and mentally I am better at doing Aikido than when I started - this does not necessarily translate into changes of behaviour outside the dojo.Maybe we are using the word behavior differently, but at least the movement skills I pick up in the dojo translate immediately into better posture and a greater emphasis on relaxed, efficient movement in my daily physical activities. I don't think Aikido has transformed my core being. Like all experiences of which Aikido is only one - that core can be refined. ... Moreover, the refinement may be guided but it is essentially self driven.I'm with you on this one. I'd add, just by the way, that after a certain point my AiKiDo also had a core and that it's improvement has been a matter of refinement and not transformation, and self-driven with only light guidance.I just don't find myself "actively" applying Aikido concepts to situations. I also don't do Aikido because of some perceived personal short comings. In the latter case there are usually much more direct paths.I can identify with most of this. I do find value, occasionally, in actively applying ideas from AiKiDo in other places (although AiKiDo isn't unique in this and sometimes I find value in applying ideas from other places to AiKiDo). Isn't your use of mushin to describe your daily activity an example of this?In that dojo there was a general feeling/ethos that (a) practice had to have tangible results on one's life, preferably the sooner the betterIn the Seidokan dojos where I trained in Israel, we were asked a 'personal question' on each of our tests from 6th kyu and up. Often, it was some form or another of 'how do you see AiKiDo being relevant to your life.' The answers to these questions were often very interesting and thought provoking.I do not deny that 30-odd years of training has affected me in many ways ... but it is hard to state what these effects are and to be clear that they are the effects of aikido training and of nothing else.I certainly don't see any changes in myself as a product of AiKiDo and nothing else. On the other hand, AiKiDo has certainly played a role which I think is interesting and inspiring. And, of course, just because something is hard doesn't mean that it isn't worth the effort, right?So, I do not say that it is wrong to look for practical applications of one's aikido "in daily life", but I would stress that not doing this does not in any way diminish the value of training.In some senses, each activity contains and is its own end. In other sense, not noticing what is there to be noticed is turning your back on the beauty of the world.

I'm really enjoying this discussion. I appreciate the thoughtful approach that people (especially those who disagree with me) are taking, and I hope I'm not becoming tiresome or starting to repeat myself.

Chuck Clark
01-07-2003, 10:05 AM
Good discussion.

When I read Peter's question my first thought was, "I breath in and then I breath out..."

That may seem rather facetious, but it's not meant that way.

Since beginning budo practice at age six, my experience has gone through many levels. Approaching my fifty-sixth birthday next month, I find the only thing that really makes sense to me about my practice is that I breath in and breath out. My life is no different in the dojo or outside the dojo.

Life is the dojo.

Dennis Hooker
01-07-2003, 10:29 AM
I live and breath same as Chuck. There is no me and Aikido anymore. It is no longer something I do. At this stage of my life I believe Aikido defines me more than I define it.

Dennis Hooker

www.shindai.com

opherdonchin
01-07-2003, 01:15 PM
One more thing about those personal questions on the seidokan tests: I feel like one thing people really got out of them was that it helped them understand that each person's AiKiDo would be different, just as each persons answer on those questions would be different. There was no right answer and there was no right way of doing the technique. Instead, there was just your exploration and reality as your teacher.

Bronson
01-07-2003, 01:32 PM
One more thing about those personal questions on the seidokan tests:

In our dojo, also seidokan, we have to do a pre-test interview. There are questions such as what is your best/worst aikido art or skill, why should you be considered for promotion, what's the most significant thing you've learned since your last test, have you used aikido outside the dojo-if yes give an example. The questions never change. They are the same on your nidan test as they were on your rokkyu test. But it's interesting to go back and look at your old ones and see the changes.

Bronson

MikeE
01-07-2003, 01:47 PM
Being a member of the IAA, I have sat in on my share of Seidokan tests.

The only thing I don't like about it is; that many times it seems that the testee just says what he/she thinks the tester wants to hear.

When I test someone. I tend to ask questions of them before training, or even outside the dojo well before their test. Sometimes I even employ a spy (another student) to get into conversation with them and then give me the gist of their thought process.

Bronson
01-07-2003, 02:01 PM
that many times it seems that the testee just says what he/she thinks the tester wants to hear.

I've seen that too. I've also seen sensei know when this is happening and keep asking questions of the person until he gets an honest answer.

Bronson

PhilJ
01-07-2003, 02:59 PM
Okay gang, got a little Norwalk virus here, so wash your hands after reading this. :)

Bronson & Opher, Seidokan doesn't have a great influence in my state, but its where 99% of my training is from (Duluth, MN). I concur with Bronson that my instructor always knows when he's hearing an answer and when he's hearing a "line". He makes sure you know what you're saying rather than let you be a parrot mimicking words from a book. I definitely appreciate that.

For higher-level students, however, I do expect them to begin to at least examine how aikido applies outside the dojo. This is because they (most, anyway) simply don't know how to until much farther down the road. They don't "have" to do it, that will come when they're ready.

In that regard, I tend to follow MikeE's line of thought, that I prefer to check students with more understanding outside the dojo. Even if its just before or just after class... I don't try to be tricky, but just real and help them maintain their one-point after talking with me. :)

*Phil

opherdonchin
01-07-2003, 04:03 PM
that many times it seems that the testee just says what he/she thinks the tester wants to hear.I can imagine how this might be an issue. It's sort of the same as having ukes who are overly generous during a test. A lot of the problem is dealt with by the teacher 'properly' explaining their views on testing and its role and place.

Peter Goldsbury
01-07-2003, 04:59 PM
P Goldsbury wrote:

"In that dojo there was a general feeling/ethos that (a) practice had to have tangible results on one's life, preferably the sooner the better..."

To which Opher Donchin replied:

"In the Seidokan dojos where I trained in Israel, we were asked a 'personal question' on each of our tests from 6th kyu and up. Often, it was some form or another of 'how do you see AiKiDo being relevant to your life.' The answers to these questions were often very interesting and thought provoking."

PG. I am sure they were. There were no such question and answer sessions during tests held at the dojo I referred to. A brief 'essay' was required for shodan, but (a) I have always had doubts about this practice, since virtually none of the answers I have ever read rang true: people usually resorted to bouts of intense--and completely unverifiable--introspection, or gave answers about how 'amazing' or 'difficult' aikido was, (b) I have never had to this as part of any dan grading requirements and have come to believe that articulating coherently the effects of aikido, particularly the 'spiritual' effects, is as difficult, if not more difficult, than actual training. Here we expect kyu grade students to be able to execute the techniques, with increasing degrees of proficiency, but further questions about the significance of training and its applications are regarded as private; unless, of course, a person's motivation for training were clearly seen to be unusual.

P Goldsbury wrote:

"I do not deny that 30-odd years of training has affected me in many ways…but it is hard to state what these effects are and to be clear that they are the effects of aikido training and of nothing else."

To which Opher Donchin replied:

"I certainly don't see any changes in myself as a product of AiKiDo and nothing else. On the other hand, AiKiDo has certainly played a role which I think is interesting and inspiring. And, of course, just because something is hard doesn't mean that it isn't worth the effort, right?"”

PG. Yes. I used the word "training" twice in the part you quoted and the late Kisshomaru Ueshiba has much to say in "The Spirit of Aikido" about the 'spiritual' value of training. But I think his words need to be understood in a Japanese context, where any kind of training has a 'spiritual' value. Generally speaking, the "harder" the activity, the greater the value thought to accrue.

P Goldsbury wrote:

"So, I do not say that it is wrong to look for practical applications of one's aikido "in daily life", but I would stress that not doing this does not in any way diminish the value of training."

To which Opher Donchin replied:

"In some senses, each activity contains and is its own end."

PG. Perhaps, but I think Aristotle was making a different point and this is why I mentioned him. In his "Nicomachean Ethics" he distinguishes activities where the end is contained in the activity itself (like perceiving) and activities where the end is separate, an identifiable product like a house. To me, aikido is like the first activity, where any further further specifiable product, over and above training itself, is of less value than the activity itself. In this respect aikido is similar to a whole host of traditional Japanese arts.

Opher Donchin wrote:

"In other sense, not noticing what is there to be noticed is turning your back on the beauty of the world."

PG. Yes, of course, but this would hold true whatever view one takes of the question being discussed in this thread.

Best regards,

opherdonchin
01-07-2003, 11:18 PM
Peter Goldsbury,

I'm starting to feel like, largely, we understand each other, even if we do not entirely agree. It seems to me that the central thrust of your thoughts on this issue are two fold. First (but perhaps not foremost) is your feeling that "articulating coherently the effects of aikido, particularly the 'spiritual' effects, is as difficult, if not more difficult, than actual training," and that, as a result, it should certainly not be required as part of the official curriculum of a dojo and perhaps should not even be encouraged in students as a private pursuit.

The second major idea that I get from reading your posts is the idea that AiKiDo is lessened by trying to turn it into a tool for solving other problems in ones life. Perhaps, you are willing to grant, AiKiDo could be helpful in many parts of my life, but by focusing on this I 'miss the point' in an important way.

To me, the difficulties that many students have in articulating their understanding of AiKiDo would almost be an argument for giving it more emphasis and not less emphasis. It is certainly something at which people can improve, even if they never get 'good' at it. Like I said before, the fact that it is difficult is certainly no argument against working to learn it.

Even an argument that many students seem to be practicing AiKiDo succesfully without it doesn't strike me as particularly strong. There are many variations in style in AiKiDo and things that seem fundamental in one style are simply not emphasized in another. It becomes a 'many paths up the mountain' thing. Which isn't to say that there aren't advantages and disadvantages to each path, and we could discuss them without necessarily claiming that one path is really better than another.

The second point is very interesting to me. I hadn't really thought about it from this perspective, and its certainly an interesting way to think about it.

PeterR
01-08-2003, 12:33 AM
During Dan grade exams at Honbu there is always a question and sometimes an essay is required. During my last Dan grade I was asked to describe Ido Ryoku, a Shodan candidate was asked to describe what Aikido was to them. I really don't think whether or not a question is asked, or how truely meaningful the answer, is that important.

What Peter G. hinted at is something I have noticed repeatedly. There are some aspects to some peoples Aikido that are quite foriegn to the way Aikido is perceived in its country of origin. I do think the need to apply "Aiki" principles to daily life is one of them.
the late Kisshomaru Ueshiba has much to say in "The Spirit of Aikido" about the 'spiritual' value of training. But I think his words need to be understood in a Japanese context, where any kind of training has a 'spiritual' value. Generally speaking, the "harder" the activity, the greater the value thought to accrue.
The need to link spirituality with a particular moral outlook is not unique to the west but I think one of the difficulties those raised in the West have is allowing spirituallity to stand by itself. This is a little further away from what I intended with the first post (I remember specifically moving it out of the Spirituallity section) but just as you don't hear "applying Aikido to your daily life" you also don't hear "that is not the Aiki way".

Erik
01-08-2003, 02:23 AM
I think Iíll take a stab at this one seeing as Iíve played in places that specifically saw the practice as extending into their daily life.

My interpretation of the process, and the goal, is that in a certain way you become what you practice. For instance, and stepping outside of our realm, in American football there is an element of aggression, strength, power and winning at all costs. While football may be played as something more than this, assuming these elements may exist there is the propensity for them to bleed over into oneís daily life. I can well imagine a highly competitive athlete having to defeat his wife in a knitting contest or some such. Also, as such an endeavor favors power, force and strength itís possible that the same approach is brought to business and life. For instance, you might see bullying or aggression on a verbal level in terms of personal and work relationships.

On another level, if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

The approach Iíve seen and found some value in at times takes the other direction. By learning to blend, open and flow under stress, these same feelings and practices may manifest themselves into your daily life. For instance, instead of always fighting with your wife you instead become open and receptive to her anger and through that process come to understand her better. The process and practice bleeds over from one into the other.

One story Iíve heard involved a guy who attended an Aikido seminar. On the way home he got into it with some guy in another car. Iím sure most of you have been there at least once. This time, part way through it, the guy caught what he was doing, waved the guy down, apologized and they wound up having coffee together. He says that it was precisely because of the seminar that he considered such a thing.

He now carries a screwdriver in his tool kit along with the hammer.

That is what I perceive as incorporating Aikido into oneís life. That the ideas and concepts practiced in the dojo change how you react and interact with the world. I donít believe that raw Aikido practice, as such, really does this. I think it does a little bit because the practice is so counter-intuitive to what most people are taught that by itself it opens eyes. Still, I think that if you really seek to change how you interact with the world through your Aikido practice, then that practice should probably incorporate things that will help you see the world in new ways oriented towards that goal.

If I totally missed the intent of the original question then please let me know.

One final thought is that I have very little doubt that this is not a Japanese way of thinking. I would say that initially this was largely the work of a few specific individuals. Foremost would be Terry Dobsen, but other people like Bob Frager and Robert Nadeau would also have had some influence. Right or wrong, the pervasiveness of this concept and the way it is presented, is probably an American invention.

Peter Goldsbury
01-08-2003, 04:54 AM
Opher Donchin stated:

"I'm starting to feel like, largely, we understand each other, even if we do not entirely agree. It seems to me that the central thrust of your thoughts on this issue are two fold. First (but perhaps not foremost) is your feeling that "articulating coherently the effects of aikido, particularly the 'spiritual' effects, is as difficult, if not more difficult, than actual training," and that, as a result, it should certainly not be required as part of the official curriculum of a dojo and perhaps should not even be encouraged in students as a private pursuit."

PG. This was not a central thought at all. In my original post I alluded to the fact that only for 2 years of the 34 that I have practiced aikido was I in a dojo where 'aikido in daily life' was considered an important matter. This dojo was in the USA, but I purposefully did not draw any conclusions. I was in the US for only 2 years, against over 20 that I have spent here. You yourself brought up the matter of questions at grading examinations. I do not think such questions are necessary, but this opinion was a response to you, not one of the "central thrusts" of my thoughts in relation to this thread.

Opher Donchin stated:

"The second major idea that I get from reading your posts is the idea that AiKiDo is lessened by trying to turn it into a tool for solving other problems in ones life. Perhaps, you are willing to grant, AiKiDo could be helpful in many parts of my life, but by focusing on this I 'miss the point' in an important way."

PG. I think there is some misinterpretation here. I did not articulate such ideas in any of my posts in this thread. What I did state I will repeat:

"So, I do not say that it is wrong to look for practical applications of one's aikido "in daily life", but I would stress that not doing this does not in any way diminish the value of training."

In other words, looking for practical applications, or not looking, is up to the individual student. It is not something I stress either in my own training or in how I teach my students here in Japan. I repeat that for my students here application of aikido "in daily life" is a highly private matter and one on which I will not obtrude unless I am asked for advice. Thus I am interested in the "variety of paths up the mountain" only when, and to the extent that, my own students have difficulties in finding their own individual paths for themselves. Some students, particularly those outside Japan, do seek advice, but this is a private matter between us.

So, answering the question with which Peter R. began this thread, I do not "incorporate" aikido in "daily life". I train and show my aikido to my students. Thus, the question "how" does not arise.

Best regards,