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Paula Lydon
08-26-2003, 01:26 PM
~~Greetings all!

Here's recent question that bubbled up in my mind the other week as I was bouncing between a few different dojos: When O sensei's spiritual view/philosophy of Aikido isn't present overtly or extensively in a dojo, how much will other spiritual disciplines influence the actual training?

1) Our dojo is in Boulder, CO and has a large percentage of students who are following Buddhist beliefs, then mostly the usual mix of Christians, some Jewish, Hindu, Muslem and Wiccan-- as well as those of no established religious training. Aiki is energy and energy is affected by mind/intent so, can the differing beliefs held by students at one dojo locale, with a similar style as another dojo located in a different demigraphic, vary the training itself because of different philisophical outlooks (harder, softer, larger, smaller, more defensive, more offensive, etc)? Particularily when there is little or no input as far as how O sensei viewed the art?

2) How important is it to try to teach O sensei's viewpoints? Would there be more cohesion throughout the Aikido realm?

3) Am I making any sense at all here? :)

siwilson
08-26-2003, 01:50 PM
Don't get hung up on specifics. The Aikido will always be different if you are short or tall, fat or thin, strong or weak, left or right handed, from London or New York, etc., etc!

Everyone is different as is everyone's Aikido. Everyone's Aikido is there own. You get taught your teacher's Aikido and then you grow to find your own.

As for teaching O'Sensei's Aikido, see above.

And number 3 - yes, but see above. :)

:do: :ki: :ai:

opherdonchin
08-26-2003, 03:47 PM
Hey Paula,

I've always found it most interesting when teachers could present (in or out of class) both their understanding of O'Sensei's ideas and their reservations about those ideas.

I think that, to a certain extent, a Sensei (or any teacher, really) has a responsibility towards the spiritual as well as the technical side of the material they share with students. Students may accept or reject this spiritual side (just as they may accept or reject the technical side), but they will notice it and respond to it regardless of whether the Sensei makes an explicit effort to express it. That is why the Sensei should also be noticing it and taking responsibility for what it is.

Now it's my turn to ask if I'm making any sense!

happysod
08-27-2003, 02:46 AM
Opher, I find myself in that rare state of total disagreement from you. I'm not a swami, religious teacher etc. I assume people who wish to develop their own philosophy on life should do so by both by their own research and by testing those lessons in life. The idea that by wearing a funny skirt I (or any other aikido teacher) becomes an authority on the way to live is not only humorous, but rank hubris. I also assume I'm teaching adults, it is up to them to take responsibility for themselves, my responsibility is to ensure they don't get too damaged in the dojo and hopefully learn something.

Peter Goldsbury
08-27-2003, 03:20 AM
I have heard aikido teachers, more than makes me feel comfortable, give lengthy discourses in the dojo concerning the spiritual aspects of aikido, whose own private lives outside the dojo left much to be desired. Thus, what they said might have been true, but it fell on deaf ears in this case. In having a sacramental system, the Catholic Church is saddled with the problem of unworthy priests, but I do not think we need anything similar in aikido.

In any case, the spiritual aspects of aikido are far less clear than the technical aspects and I think the best situation is when an instructor can combine the two in the way he/she trains.

I do not think I would willingly discuss such aspects of aikido unless I was asked to do so and then it would be on an individual basis.

Best regards to all,

Aristeia
08-27-2003, 04:47 AM
When I first started Aikido I was a philosophy student. I was dying for my teachers to spend more time on the philosophy. Talking after class one day on of my teachers said he thought that the philosophy was something personal that you get from the technique and there really wasn't any need to lecture on it.

At the time I was disappointed, now I couldn't agree more. Aiki is a tactic which can be very effective. There's been plenty of times I've thought about aikido and blending and aiki in non combat situations outside the dojo and applied those concepts where I could. But no amount of a teacher lecturing them to me could have taught me them as well as just training waza.

My feeling is if the teacher is teaching Aikido technique, any "responsibility" to pay attention to the spiritual aspects (if indeed there is such a responsibility) has been fulfilled.

People talk about all sorts of aspects to aikido, spiritual, personal growth, etc etc. I agree that they are all there in varying amounts, (varying for the most part by what the practitioner is looking to get out of it), but I believe all of those benefits are derived from simply training waza in a martial way. Nothing else is necessary.

Alec Corper
08-27-2003, 05:28 AM
Paula,

I think everyone who teaches anything imparts a "spiritual" message through their behaviour and, more often than not, through the gap between their espoused values and their values in action. Often their "transmission" causes contradiction or confusion in their students, which for some can become a source of spirtul growth if they struggle to discard the shallow "either/or" views of superficial morality. For others it merely creates cynicism and contributes to the reality they already exist in.

No one can teach what O Sensei taught, unless they have the same background, life experience, and divine illumination (whatever that was!), they can only teach their version, which is mostly storybook stuff.

However, here's where I concur with what I think is your underlying question. Is Aikido without the moral, ethical and spiritual teaching which belongs to it still Aikido? Well,IMHO, if you view the Do as a ladder, then it depends which rung you are on, but it is still important to make sure you on the right ladder, before you ascend too far.

With respect, Michael, I most definitely disagree with the idea that everything comes through the waza. If that were true there would not be so many cases of high graded teachers and students whose charcters leave much to be desired, if measured against the yardstick of Budo and Aikido. the waza CAN be a vehicle for learning and embodying the spiritual aspects of an art, but there is no guarantee.

While we are at it, anybody out there care to venture a definition of what we are all talking about, this "spiritual" something or other, we are probably on a number of different pages.

regards, Alec

Paula Lydon
08-27-2003, 07:46 AM
~~Thanks all!

And, Alec yes, that was closer

to the question. I have performed all of these Aikido waza previously in my earlier aikijujitsu career--so what makes the difference in Aikido?

Also, if even a streamlined overview of O sensei's beliefs aren't presented then other philisophical matrixes will color the Aikido being taught at any given dojo, it seems. Just as the head instructors way of being influences so much.

Sorry all, I'm probably not being very clear here. Please keep sharing your views :)

opherdonchin
08-27-2003, 08:00 AM
I apologize if I sounded like I was advocating long lectures or a tendency by the Sensei to impose his philosophical or moral views on his students. What I meant was much closer to what Alec said. That is, we (as teachers) communicate a philosophical or moral message whether we like to or not; we should take responsibility for that fact. We should also, I think, notice the difference between the message we communicate and the message of O'Sensei (as we understand it), and it might be worthwhile to help students sort out the difference between the two.

jxa127
08-27-2003, 09:34 AM
Paula,

This is an interesting topic, thanks for starting it.

The whole concept of spirituality and its effect in our lives is difficult to talk about in a coherent fashion because the topic can encompass religious beliefs, ethics, cultural norms, etc. So, for instance, I'm a rather religious person, so my sense of ethics is rooted largely in my understanding of and belief in a certain expression of faith. But, there are atheists who would agree with me on many, if not most, of those ethics, and other people -- some within my church congregation -- who would strongly disagree with me. So, one's religious practice is not necessarily directly linked to one's ethics.

Where does this leave aikido in relation to my ethical, moral, and religious values?

I'm glad to see Peter weighing in on this discussion because his two essays on aikido and religion (found at the Aikido Journal web site) have been exceptionally helpful for me in answering the question above. Peter provided a lot of historical background to put O' Sensei's views on the topic in context. Three truths really hit me from the essays: (1) O' Sensei saw aikido as a religious practice, (2) he did not require his students to do the same, and (3) his son took the essence of his father's teaching, but placed far less emphasis on the religious underpinnings of those teachings. Much of this can be found in Kisshomaru Ueshiba's book, The Spirit of Aikido. But even second doshu's explanations are the spiritual side of aikido are a bit "out there" compared with much of what I read and hear today. For instance, the concept of ki seems different today than what appears in The Spirit of Aikido -- less an idea of the energy of the universe, and more a metaphor for body mechanics and physical energy (at least in my dojo).

Your first question asked if the students' religious beliefs could affect the training in their dojo. I guess it can, but in my experience, religion is never discussed on the mat, and the instructor has far more influence on the training than the students. Having said that, we do, at times discuss what might be called the "practical philosophy" of aikido in relation to technique. This is where O' Sensei's ideas come into play.

We work from the basis that aikido is meant to be a way of resolving physical conflict in such a way that we harm our attackers as little as possible while still dominating the confrontation (and staying unharmed ourselves). An example of practical philosophy is with something like ikkyo or gokyo; we could break the elbow, but that would mean losing the connection with our attacker that allows us to control him an therefore control the confrontation. By protecting our attacker's vulnerable elbow, an act of compassion, we end up with more effective technique. I think these observations are consistent with O' Sensei's teachings.

But, I've not been in many physical confrontations, but I have been in a lot of non-physical ones. I think aikido can serve as a good model or metaphor for dealing with non-physical conflicts, but it's not the only model. I find the principles of being open, blending with an attack instead of clashing with it, and acting with concern for the attacker as good ways of dealing with both physical and non-physical attacks. Those concepts also complement my religious beliefs to a certain extent.

But, aikido has limits in the spiritual side too. For instance, aikido is good when you have somebody who is clearly oppositional, but what about somebody who is being passive-aggressive? They don't offer a clear attack, and while aikido principles may still come in handy, that's not what they're designed for.

Where we really get into trouble is when an instructor or student will extrapolate the spiritual lessons of aikido so that aikido becomes their only spiritual filter. I don't think O' Sensei had much to say about aikido's relationship to sex, drugs, and rock and roll, for instance (though I may be wrong). This is where an instructor can really get in trouble, especially if his or her personal life is in opposition to what he or she espouses.

For me, aikido is a tool for implementing what I consider to be right or wrong, but not for determining right or wrong. Aikido is a good tool for resolving all sorts of conflicts, but not the only tool. O' Sensei and second dushu's views on the spiritual aspects of aikido are very important to me -- especially in providing historical context -- but they are not the last word on the matter.

When I started this essay, I pointed out how an atheist and a Lutheran (me) could hold certain values in common. I think this is because those values (the injunctions against killing and adultery, for instance) have become a cultural norm or are seen as expressing a universal truth. I think the same can be said of aikido principles, but on a smaller scale. Regardless of their source, or the religious/ethical orientation of the practitioner, aikido principles provide a clean model for dealing with many kinds of conflict.

Regards,

-Drew

ian
08-27-2003, 10:28 AM
Hi Paula,

I think Ueshiba's spiritual beliefs has had only a small impact on aikido. I know very little about Omotokyo, I'm not a christian and I know little about Shinto. I think however aikido introduced me to taosim and buddhism (esp. zen). Just as aikido directed towards self-defence can help you think about correct body movement, I also think it makes people consider the different ethical problems in self-defence.

Personally I don't do self-defence because I get attacked frequently, I do it because I feel I should always try and help someone unfairly being attacked, and also stand up for equal rights. This can result in a necessity for self-defence which causes minimum harm.

I don't ever teach philosophical or ethical aspects of aikido in the dojo as I don't feel that I should impose my ideology on others. However I have come to reconsider this recently after hearing that one of my students had taken to carrying a knife around. A real martial art has to deal with death and ethics if appropriate responses and lack of fear is to be produced. However maybe social occasions, when people feel more open to give critical feedback, are more suited to this.

Ian

Aristeia
08-27-2003, 12:40 PM
Paula,



With respect, Michael, I most definitely disagree with the idea that everything comes through the waza. If that were true there would not be so many cases of high graded teachers and students whose charcters leave much to be desired, if measured against the yardstick of Budo and Aikido. the waza CAN be a vehicle for learning and embodying the spiritual aspects of an art, but there is no guarantee.
How do I explain it? Simple, Aikido isn't magic. There's no guarantees as you say. Do you think those people of undesirable character you refer to really would be any different if someone in a hakama had told them all early on "be more like me" or O'sensei. I frankly doubt it.

Aristeia
08-27-2003, 12:47 PM
I apologize if I sounded like I was advocating long lectures or a tendency by the Sensei to impose his philosophical or moral views on his students. What I meant was much closer to what Alec said. That is, we (as teachers) communicate a philosophical or moral message whether we like to or not; we should take responsibility for that fact.
I very seriously doubt that any of my students look to me for any moral message. And unless I'm teaching children why should they. They came into the dojo with their own moral framework. Exploring technique can shift that framework a little, nudge it in a certain direction, but I have no moral authority over them and nor should I. And I'm pretty sure they recognise that.
We should also, I think, notice the difference between the message we communicate and the message of O'Sensei (as we understand it), and it might be worthwhile to help students sort out the difference between the two.
O'sensei was a complex man. He gave us the martial art of Aikido, he also was heavily involved in a religious cult. I don't believe you need to follow him on both paths, and I don't think he was necessarily particularly clear in distinguishing the two. In other words if I take it that I have a responsibility to espouse O'Sensei's moral teaching, am I now promoting Aikido or Omoto Kyo? If people want to know about Ueshiba's philosophy there's plenty of good books that they're more than welcome to borrow from me. But if the philosophy of Aikido isn't contained within the techniques, it's not the philosophy of Aikido at all, just the philosophy of the person that founded it. And that's not the same thing.

Aristeia
08-27-2003, 12:53 PM
~~Thanks all!

And, Alec yes, that was closer

to the question. I have performed all of these Aikido waza previously in my earlier aikijujitsu career--so what makes the difference in Aikido?
~~



Also, if even a streamlined overview of O sensei's beliefs aren't presented then other philisophical matrixes will color the Aikido being taught at any given dojo, it seems.
As well they should. We are not in the business of trying to make clones of O'Sensei. People take from the training the principles and those principles mix with their existing beliefs and they end up with a unique cocktail. If that's not the case, if we need to spell things out to people, and have fireside chats, then there really is no difference between aikido and other arts, other than the talk we tack on the end. Were the waza you did in aiki-jujitsu identical to the ones you do in Aikido? If so it should be no surprise that there is no difference. If not then that allows for a difference in strategy and in turn philosophy.

Lyle Bogin
08-27-2003, 01:28 PM
I remember when I first joined Shin Budo Kai I asked Bob Tullman, 5th Dan, by email whether I'd would be subjected to religious aspects of training (I was dead set against it at the time). His response, to paraphrase, was "we ponder the meaning of the universe on our own time :)".

Personally, I find that I have drawn a great deal of spiritual inspiration from my aikido practice, but indirectly. I believe that is part of the beauty of the art. It affords you the opportunity to develop yourself in this way without shoving it down your throat.

Kevin Leavitt
08-27-2003, 01:42 PM
I think religion is a postive thing if it allows you to open your mind to possibilities.

I think it is a negative thing when it closes doors and keeps you from experiencing life and all that it offers.

The wonderful thing about aikido to me is the fact that it has no issues with any religion. However, many people/religions can sometimes have issues with aikido.

To me it is nearly impossible to separate the mind, body, and spirit into three distinct enities. Therefore, whatever the body experiences physically through aikido can and will influence your spirit.

It may not be overt of intentional on your part, but it will!

opherdonchin
08-27-2003, 04:35 PM
we (as teachers) communicate a philosophical or moral message whether we like to or not
I very seriously doubt that any of my students look to me for any moral message.As you can see, I didn't say they did. I just said you communicate one. Your responsibility, I'm claiming, is to the message you communicate, whether or not your students look to you.

You make a distinction between children (who are still being morally formed) and adults (who can only be nudged). I'm not comfortable with that distinction. I believe people change and grow throughout their lives, learning from new things they encounter. The ideas in Aikido changed my view of the world, and so I know they may change the views of others, adults and children alike. That doesn't mean that I have to preach or to try to turn out carbon copies or to try to turn my students into anything at all. It does mean, to me, that I should be aware of what someone would be learning from me if they, for some reason, chose to do so.
We should also, I think, notice the difference between the message we communicate and the message of O'Sensei (as we understand it)if I take it that I have a responsibility to espouse O'Sensei's moral teaching, am I now promoting Aikido or Omoto Kyo? If people want to know about Ueshiba's philosophy there's plenty of good books that they're more than welcome to borrow from me.Again, I didn't say you needed to espouse O'Sensei's philosophy or any other philosophy. What I'm saying is that you should be aware of differences if they exist, and accept the possibility that those differences may raise questions for your students.
But if the philosophy of Aikido isn't contained within the techniques, it's not the philosophy of Aikido at all, just the philosophy of the person that founded it.I guess I would say that a martial art, per se, doesn't have a philosophy. Instead, only people have philosophies, and those philosophies can be expressed (or learned) through the practice of the martial arts. How Aikido expresses your philosophy, or how your philosophy has been shaped or changed through your practice, are essential aspects of the Aikido you teach. Perhaps you feel that it is best not to discuss them, but that's a different issue, I think.

Aristeia
08-27-2003, 05:43 PM
You make a distinction between children (who are still being morally formed) and adults (who can only be nudged). I'm not comfortable with that distinction. I believe people change and grow throughout their lives, learning from new things they encounter. The ideas in Aikido changed my view of the world, and so I know they may change the views of others, adults and children alike. That doesn't mean that I have to preach or to try to turn out carbon copies or to try to turn my students into anything at all. It does mean, to me, that I should be aware of what someone would be learning from me if they, for some reason, chose to do so. [\QUOTE]

Here's where I think we differ. I agree that people change and that Aikido can change people. I don't think though that whatever changes Aikido may have made on me personally is something that is explicit during class, and nor should it be.
[QUOTE]Again, I didn't say you needed to espouse O'Sensei's philosophy or any other philosophy. What I'm saying is that you should be aware of differences if they exist, and accept the possibility that those differences may raise questions for your students. [\QUOTE]

What questions do you mean? I find it difficult to believe that my students will pick up a difference in my and O'Sensei's approach to the cosmos based on how I teach irimi nage.

[\QUOTE]

I guess I would say that a martial art, per se, doesn't have a philosophy. Instead, only people have philosophies, and those philosophies can be expressed (or learned) through the practice of the martial arts. How Aikido expresses your philosophy, or how your philosophy has been shaped or changed through your practice, are essential aspects of the Aikido you teach. Perhaps you feel that it is best not to discuss them, but that's a different issue, I think.
Maybe we're quibbling over symantecs. A martial art expresses a certain philosophy certainly and different arts can be said to be philosophically different. That can tell you something about the people that practice some arts. Certainly I'd accept that my Aikido is unique, as is everyone's and that you may be able to deduce something about me from that, although it's arguable how much. I'm less convinced that you can tell how Aikido has or has not changed me via my technique.

At the end of the day my point is this. Aikido has an underpinning philosophy which is inherent in the nature of it's techniques. Practicing Aikido can have the effect of taking that philosophy and starting to embed it in other areas of your life. But that is a personal thing. It's not something that can be taught, if it happens it just happens. And it's not necessarily evident on the mat. I do not believe that my technique and the way I teach conveys enough about my moral world that I need to be mindful of how I am influencing others in the dojo.

Aristeia
08-27-2003, 05:45 PM
oops, screwed up the quoting somewhat in that post.

opherdonchin
08-28-2003, 12:41 AM
Michael,

I'm not sure exactly where we disagree. Here's a stab at it. I think your main point is that if your teaching is only technique, then it is hard to find a personal philosophy within that technique. On the other hand, you do think that there is a philosophy to be found within those techniques, what you call Aikido's philosophy. To me, it seems that in the same sense Aikido philosophy is 'in' the techniques, your philosophy is 'in' your particular take on those techniques and your particular version of them.

However, I would also say that your teaching inevitably goes beyond demonstration of techniques. It extends to the way you handle tests, to the way you deal with students that frustrate you, to the way you deal with students you particularly like or admire, to the emphasis you place on ritual and ceremony on the mat, and so on and so on.

'So what?' you might ask. Well, I'm not exactly sure except that I feel the need to consider how my own personal take on both 'teaching style' and technique interacts with traditional or classic approaches to either.

Another way of highlighting the difference between us is that it seems like you feel like when you teach what you are primarily offering your students is Aikido. I feel like when I teach what I'm primarily offering my students is myself. Your way seems more humble to you because it seems arrogant to you to push yourself on to other people. My way seems more humble to me because I'm never really sure I know or understand Aikido well enough to offer it, but no matter how little I know I bring my self to class whenever I teach.

I feel like I'm floating off to heights of abstraction where the air is too thing.

Aristeia
08-28-2003, 05:09 AM
I'm not sure we do really disagree, we're maybe just meaning different things by "philosophy". Certainly my students know more about me than my techniques, and you've listed some very valid examples of that. Personally I'd charactarise that as personal style, or even personality. You may call it philosophy which under a certain definition holds I guess.

But if we look at the original post, I think we've moved a fair distance from the "philosophy" that was talked about there. Initially the conversation was around what was chracterised as "spiritual" philosophy, which is a little more esoteric than such easily observable things as how one teaches a class or conducts a test.

What constitutes a "spiritual" philosophy? Well that's a tricky one we could go back and forth on. But there's probably a moral component, some sort of hypothesis on our role in the world and our obligations to our fellows etc etc. Some of this may be inferred from an individuals day to day behaviour but the details of it can only ever be hinted at by observation. This is the sort of area I am claiming the practice of Aikido can influence, but doesn't need to be taught explicitly.

And for the record i agree that all any teacher can offer is their own personal slant on aikido rather than Aikido itself. As with all areas of endeavor the best teachers I think are those who don't attempt to hide their own limitations. :-)

Alec Corper
08-28-2003, 09:59 AM
We are all still trapped by the paucity of language and the cyberworld of superficial discussion. Are religion and spirituality two words for the same thing? Not in my mind. Philosophy is not the same as following a religious creed, which presupposes the existence of a deity, or deities, who have issued a proscribed behavioural code for humans to follow. Philosophy can be interesting, but behavioural change is ancillary, it may or may not follow.

Spirituality is a state of being which precedes religious behaviour, the said behaviour usually being an attempt, consciously or otherwise to occupy the spiritual state from which the teaching originated. This is all poorly stated, both from impatience and the shortfall of the medium we are all using, sp please acceppt my apologies for any unclarity.

If an Aikido teacher espouses the moral philosophy of Aikido, for example, use atemi to disrupt center and acheive kuzushi, rather than use atemi to break bones and damage internal organs, then he or she is advocating a moral view of the use (or abuse) of violence. Do they do this because they are soft-hearted, or because they wish to believe O Sensei's philosophy that we are all part of one universe and that the reconciling of conflict is the action of a more conscious human being. (By the way this is not original to O Sensei, it stems from Hinduism, entered Chan Buddhism, then entered Zen, and showed up in such teachings as Katsujinken/ Satsujinken)Is our desire to hold such a belief the same as an actual experience of this unity? Who can say? After all, if I claim to have had this experience, can anyone else prove it untrue? The only thing we as humans can do is look for signs. I know that Peter Goldsbury Sensei, with his background in Jesuit knowledge, would have a lot to say about the history in religion about trying to define and describe the measurements used to check if spiritual revelation is genuine, a serious business for all churches, since their revenue is based on what was taught, not what may be taught in the future if there are new revelations.

What has all this to do with Aikido? Is Aikido a philosophy, a religious teaching, a martial art, a path to direct spiritual experience of universal unity, or all of these things (and plenty others).Does it even matter? Well yes, to those to whom it matters, it matters. To those who are unpurturbed by these questions, no problem.

with respect to all, Alec

jxa127
08-28-2003, 11:19 AM
Alec,

Your post was great right until the end!
What has all this to do with Aikido? Is Aikido a philosophy, a religious teaching, a martial art, a path to direct spiritual experience of universal unity, or all of these things (and plenty others).Does it even matter? Well yes, to those to whom it matters, it matters. To those who are unperturbed by these questions, no problem.
Aw, come on and take a position. :D Does it matter to you? What do you think?

By the way, I like your distinction between religion and spirituality.

Regards,

-Drew

Alec Corper
08-28-2003, 11:48 AM
Actually Drew, that is my position, although maybe I could be clearer. It matters to me a great deal. I try to practise Aikido as a Do through the vehicle of Jutsu, but that also means that I do not think I have the right, or the responsibility to preach to others, nor do I think that people can receive spirituality from others.

However when I teach I try to hold a level of consciousness which I believe can assist people to find their own way to the Way. Some of this is summed up in O Sensei's original dojo rules, two of which I find very important: Remember one blow in Aikido can kill, train seriously, and, train in a spirit of joy. Trying to do both at the same time in a way encapsulates one of the fundamental dichotomies of all Budo practise and also highlights a central life struggle: to be fully in the world but not of the world. There are no nice, neat religious instructions or formulae to cover this conundrum, even though the teaching of Krishna to Arjuna comes close. Do your best, but don't be attatched to the results.

Sound familiar? Rather like the advised state of Mu Shin for the Samurai, but maybe a thousand years earlier. Aikido can be a way to reach this, not the only way, and not for all, it is big enough to encompass all manners of practise without being spoiled.

regards, Alec

Aristeia
08-28-2003, 12:41 PM
If an Aikido teacher espouses the moral philosophy of Aikido, for example, use atemi to disrupt center and acheive kuzushi, rather than use atemi to break bones and damage internal organs, then he or she is advocating a moral view of the use (or abuse) of violence. Do they do this because they are soft-hearted, or because they wish to believe O Sensei's philosophy that we are all part of one universe and that the reconciling of conflict is the action of a more conscious human being.
Great post Alec. My point, which I think Alec has just made more clearly is that as he states above, is that althought you can draw some general conclusions by watching someones technique the actual details of motives and belief systems remain internal. If in Alec's examply you believe in the philosophy attributed to O'Sensei, and if indeed it is the practice of Aikido that got you to that belief, there is no need to make it a part of class. Others may come to the same belief just through traiing. Or to a different belief. The important thing is that they come to it themselves, and this is what will make it powerful

opherdonchin
08-28-2003, 02:12 PM
A couple of thoughts:

Even the notions that preaching as a teacher is annapropriately arrogant or that the philosophy of Aikido is contained within its techniques are notions that express values. When I think of ways that my training in Aikido affected my view of the world, one of the things that springs most to mind is my teachers reluctance to offer too much feedback and his (usually implied but occasionally acknowledged) insistence that each person finds his own way.

There is no doubt, as Michael says, that "Others may come to the same belief just through traiing. Or to a different belief." At the same time, I, as a teacher, may be rather uncomfortable with some of the beliefs my students come to. Of course, Alec would probably point out that this my discomfort and my issue, not the students. On the other hand, it is my discomfort and it may well be a reason for me to re-examine my teaching and see how it may have played a role. Is there room for this sort of examination?

Aristeia
08-29-2003, 01:56 AM
A couple of thoughts on your thoughts.

Firstly, and I probably should have made this more clear earlier, please understand that I don't necessarily think that "preaching philosophy" is arrogant. It's just that I don't think it's particularly useful or effective.

In regards to your last point, I think I'd have an easier time understanding where you are coming from if we talk in the concrete. What sort of beliefs would you be uncomfortable with your students coming to? How could your teaching have played a role? Are you able to give a hypothetical?

opherdonchin
08-29-2003, 09:17 AM
I agree that preaching is often neither useful or effective. I guess that I think of it in a sort of Seidokan way. One of the interesting attitudes in Seidokan Aikido is that, often, it is possible to become more and more effective (technically) by doing less and less. However, unsurprisingly, the techniques stop working if you actually do nothing at all. Riding this razor edge of doing as little as possible and no less is, I think, the right place to be in terms of 'preaching.'

As far as coming to beliefs that I'm uncomfortable with: I guess that if I found myself at the head of a school where visitors were not welcomed or where advanced students gave the feeling that they did not value working with beginners, I would want to re-examine the message I was conveying. Here's another which is more personally relevant to me: I think that part of the 'philosophy' I see in Aikido regards concern and regard for your surroundings. Personally, I'm a bit of a slob and also don't put as much into the dojo as I should. I can easily see my students, if I have my own dojo, reflecting that. I'm sure preaching wouldn't make a difference, but I do think it would be time to examine what I thought might make a difference.

Aristeia
08-29-2003, 12:15 PM
Agreed on all counts. Move along people, there's no argument to see here....