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PhilJ
08-30-2003, 11:31 AM
User [pointy] brought this to mind in the General forums.

I recalled several years back, my parents were worried for a bit that Aikido is a cult. I laughed at the idea, saying free will is involved, they're not 'stealing' my mind or money, not worshipping Brumrak the Eagle King, and so on.

I know this is an ugly question because I'm wondering about the negative form of the word, not a like a group of Rocky Horror show fans. :)

What do you folks think? How do we know aikido is or is not a cult that stealthily robs us of some things?

*Phil

Alec Corper
08-30-2003, 01:13 PM
Phillip, Are you kidding? Of course it is. A great guru, mysterious powers, hierarchical structure, weird rituals, and so on. Hey, come to think of it, it sounds like McDonalds, or maybe the American government.

grin, Alec

shihonage
08-30-2003, 01:28 PM
Yes.

PhilJ
08-30-2003, 02:41 PM
LOL guys

When I think of "cult", I think of those folks with the shrouds over their faces to get to the spaceship, etc. Are we that kind?

*Phil

mj
08-30-2003, 05:10 PM
Rocky!

J. David Geurkink
08-30-2003, 09:40 PM
Work for years and years for the privelege of wearing an item of clothing that would look rather odd outside of the meeting place? Sounds vaugely cult-ish;-)

Kung Fu Liane
08-31-2003, 04:17 AM
Yup, definitely a cult :)

i think its the endless bowing, together with the 'skirt' wearing that gives it away

MikeE
08-31-2003, 08:47 AM
Phil,

Please remember; we worship a head of cabbage named "Ralph"

Peter Malecek
08-31-2003, 01:37 PM
A cult, no way, wharever in the world put that silly idea in your head. Here have some koolaide.

JJF
09-01-2003, 01:36 AM
Defintately not.

Now to a non-relatede issue. I see you are way due with your annual hmm... 'gift' for the aiki-association so please make your deposit now, or you will be stripped of all mystical powers aquired during 'sessions'.

Later this year we will assign you a partner for your first annual mass-wedding, which will be held at the space needle in Seattle.

sorry - couldn't help it :D

PhilJ
09-01-2003, 09:23 PM
I love every last one of you jokers. :)

*Phil

SeiserL
09-01-2003, 10:26 PM
Beacuse Aikido does not incorporate many of the brain washing techniques common of cults, I would have to say no. Too bad, it just might be a cult worth belonging to.

mike lee
09-06-2003, 12:49 AM
How do we know aikido is or is not a cult that stealthily robs us of some things?

It seems to have robbed you of your intelligence.

jgros
09-06-2003, 03:58 AM
Aikido would be just an international exclusive club, but then again, we chant (or mutter) weird things in japanese, so it must be a cult(what group would do THAT except a cult? :D). My friends think its brainwashing me, since id rather go to practice than their parties. Not to mention me talking about extending Ki,(aforementioned "mysterious powers") all the time, that just freaks them out. Other secret super powers include: flying (across the room), tracking multiple ukes during randori and predicting their next moves by using our keen psychic abilities, being able to move large rocks with our ki (good luck with that one..), and just looking super cool with black hakama. Our dojo even makes pilgrimages to the AikiShrine in Japan...as well as the aiki-expo of course. Being able to visit chapters foreign and domestic alike is also a plus (just like a fraternity..or the KKK). How can it get any better than this? We are a global power!evileyes HAHAHA!

If you think about it, we are alot like jedi. We use a mysterious "force" from a mysterious "old religion". While our sabers arent made of light, steel is pretty close right? Not to mention the similarities in acrobatic feats. Like the jedi, we must practice for 20 years to become "proficient" and in another 20 well be invincible, just like the jedi!...Wow, and just thank whichever god you worship that there isnt a Dark Side to Aikido. Are you really sure that George Lucas didnt get some help with his story ideas? Makes you think doesnt it?

Jeff

mike lee
09-06-2003, 04:27 AM
Makes you think doesnt it?
Huuuuuh?

deepsoup
09-06-2003, 06:00 AM
and just looking super cool with black hakama.
You're right, Jeff, you have been brainwashed! :eek:

Sean

x

Wolan
09-20-2003, 02:15 PM
Reminds me of what I've read a while ago on AikidoFAQ. 'A group of people get together on a set hour, in a special place. They all put on weird uniforms. Then they go to a very big room and pair up. Each person in the pair starts doing very, very painful things to the other one. But the victim does not get angry, in fact he or she is very happy and pleased. Then the roles change and the person which first tortured the other now receives the same pain and also seems to be content with that. This continues for an hour or two. All of the people leave filled with joy and not only come back the next day, they actually PAY CASH to do it.' Is it clear now? We're no cultists, Pillip. We're just a happy bunch of sado-masochists. :D

Jim ashby
09-21-2003, 01:58 AM
As a masochist I feel that I am unfairly discriminated against. I mean, all I want from life is a fair crack of the whip.

Have fun.

PhilJ
09-21-2003, 09:24 PM
It seems to have robbed you of your intelligence.
Sorry, I didn't realize this was your bridge. There's your toll, and a hug to go with it. :)
We're no cultists, Pillip. We're just a happy bunch of sado-masochists.
I know, I was just wondering what it is that would differentiate us from other groups perceived as cults. Bathroom thinking, I suppose. ;)

*Phil

ChristianBoddum
09-22-2003, 04:46 AM
Society OK's us wearing and handling weapons - We must be the envy of all cults !!

ian
09-22-2003, 05:33 AM
Beacuse Aikido does not incorporate many of the brain washing techniques common of cults, I would have to say no.
This is probably the only time I've ever disagreed with you. Two main cult strategies:

i. you have an authority other than yourself which cannot speak yet is quoted and represented by the leader (sensei).[allows pretty much anything to be made up which cannot be directly questioned]

ii. students are made to look upwards towards the leader (students kneel during demonstration).[has a psychological effect, giving power to the leader].

iii. ritual words/movements (body/brain conditioning)

I would say there are definately features of a cult, and instructors could easily exploit this - that is why it is imperative for isntructors to be completely open and honest and never consider themselves 'better' than any one of their students.

Ian

ChristianBoddum
09-22-2003, 05:37 AM
Isn't meditation before and after class brainwashing ??

Nothing beats a good clean brain !

ian
09-22-2003, 05:37 AM
P.S. When you say 'robbing us of some things' surely you mean filling us with a satisfying nothingness?

P.P.S. At least we don't have to make a pledge of alligience to our sensei!

PhilJ
09-22-2003, 03:54 PM
P.S. When you say 'robbing us of some things' surely you mean filling us with a satisfying nothingness?
I have a negative view of cults, and I probably shouldn't -- I can't tell how the cake will taste just by looking at the ingredients.

So, I meant that cults rob you of things like 'free will' and 'independence', maybe stuff like that...?
P.P.S. At least we don't have to make a pledge of alligience to our sensei!
Shhh! Don't tell our students that!! ;)

*Phil

Kensho Furuya
09-28-2003, 01:36 PM
Hello, I just add my two cents here with the hopes of giving a little clarity to this issue. I am speaking now more from my occupation as an ordained priest, not so much as an Aikido teacher. Most Christian and Catholic priests have a book called, "The Books of Cults." This book is to aid priests when they are counseling members of their congregation. This is quite a few years ago and I don't know about today, but as of a few years back, Aikido was listed in this book as a cult. I don't think most priest abide by this book too closely but some may do. I think we, as the general public, are much more educated about things like Aikido today than maybe 20-30 years ago.

Why this book listed Aikido as a cult because a "cult" in this sense of the word refers to a group of people who "adore" a single person as an object of worship which is objectionable to the tenents of Christianity. In early days, Aikido was misinterpreted greaty as O'Sensei was often considered as a very "spiritual" person with many followers - and it was concluded by unknowing people that this "must" be a cult. Since the passing of O'Sensei, this attitude among the general public has changed.

Baseball players, movie stars and certain movies may get "cult" status, but in this case, in this specific sense of the word, cult refers to a group of "believers" giving a single or specfic person much too much of a "spiritual" or "religious" status or significance and/or making him an object of worship or reverence.

We very greatly respect O'Sensei as a great teacher and Founder of our Aikido. In Japan, it is quite customary and appropriate for such a great teacher to reach the final stages (or at any point) of his art or teaching by bringing into it, a deeply spiritual aspect or significance. In fact, this is quite true and common if you examine all types of the traditional Japanese arts. In Japan, Aikido is not considered or defined as a cult. Hope this bit of trivia info helps. Thank you.

PhilJ
09-28-2003, 11:49 PM
Thank you, Mr. Furuya. It does help clear my question up -- aikido is not meant to be a religious cult.

*Phil

Kensho Furuya
09-30-2003, 12:16 PM
Hello, you are quite welcome, indeed.

I noticed just now that you are from Minnesota. Although this is not related to Aikido, but maybe an interesting sidenote for you - my associate teaches Zen in Minnesota and one issue came up many, many years ago. There are many devout Catholics in Minnesota and some had an interest to join the Zen meditation class but were concerned that this may be frowned upon by their Catholic Church. This issue was investigated and these members had approached some superior office in their local Catholic Church. They made an inquiry to the Vatican who then gave their approval saying that it was considered that Zen was a good practice to develop mental well-being and encouraged. This is how, I think, attitudes have changed and how we have become more broad-minded in recent times and educated in our attitudes with each other. I don't think many people remember this incident many years ago but I thought you might enjoy this in relation to your question.

Best wishes always,

Pretoriano
09-30-2003, 09:28 PM
I think this Kensho Sensei you wrote here about Vatican approving Zen practices for well being is very important I didint know about this. Aplausses (for Vatican) at least some recognise other realities exist apart from their dogmas.

Pretoriano

David Yap
09-30-2003, 10:20 PM
<snipped> Most Christian and Catholic priests have a book called, "The Books of Cults." This book is to aid priests when they are counseling members of their congregation. This is quite a few years ago and I don't know about today, but as of a few years back, Aikido was listed in this book as a cult. I don't think most priest abide by this book too closely but some may do. <snipped> Why this book listed Aikido as a cult because a "cult" in this sense of the word refers to a group of people who "adore" a single person as an object of worship which is objectionable to the tenents of Christianity. In early days, Aikido was misinterpreted greaty as O'Sensei was often considered as a very "spiritual" person with many followers - and it was concluded by unknowing people that this "must" be a cult. <snipped>
Interesting. I was told that one of the founding fathers of aikido in Malaysia actually distanced himself from the art when he decided to become a pastor. He went to the extent of destroying his dan certificates from Aikikai & others. A couple of years, one of the instructors here (the aikido community in Malaysia is so small is like we are living next door to each other)was actually counseled by his pastor to give up teaching aikido. He did the same thing, destroyed his certificate, give away his gi and sold his hakama and collections of books and video tapes to his students (ex-students). How some cannot differentiate between an art/trade and ones religion is beyond my logic - unless the trade is morally unacceptable (e.g. flesh trading, illicit drugs trading/peddling, etc.)?

I wonder how many talented instructors out there have to been "forced" to choose this route of thoughts?

Suzanne Cooper
09-30-2003, 11:44 PM
I've been following this thread with great interest.

My initial observations:

Aikido has a uniform, but not a habit. Aikido has a pronounced mental aspect, but it's not prayer. Aikido requires faithful practice and insight into the integral value of humanity, but not worship of the founder.

The mental aspect of aikido seems unrelated to the practice of religion. Extending ki seems to involve visualization of the sort that Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods do--but it doesn't seem to be any form of prayer.

David, keep in mind that if by chance the local practice of aikido made a habit of equating extending one's ki with manipulating one's soul, no correct-thinking religious hierarchy would approve. No church would approve of substituting Zen or ki exercises for worship.

Before frowning on the church, I'd love to see the situation in broader context.

I can speak to this: following Christian theology requires self-denial--we "sell all we own, take up our Cross, and follow Jesus," as it were--even if we do so spiritually instead of temporally. One of the best self-denial exercises is to give up those things that set us above others, such as awards, citations, and even dan certificates, if need be--symbols of superiority that might make us prideful.

I almost wonder if that wasn't the point of the exercise of the pastor you mentioned? Not so much asking him to forget the knowledge he had gained as to remind him of what the church really respects in local pastors? 'Detachment' is what we call it in my little Order. I wonder if his hierarchy observed him to be more attached to aikido than he should have been? Maybe he was putting it before the church?

Maybe not, but I had the thought...maybe I should stop thinking so much and go train some more... ;)

Suzanne Cooper
09-30-2003, 11:59 PM
The word I was looking for was 'ascetical'--the practice of mystical Chritian theology contains ascetic practices such as detachment exercises.

Removing the reminders of aikido might have been a type of ascetic exercise.

Our word this week at our dojo is 'ascetic training.'

David Yap
10-01-2003, 05:09 AM
The word I was looking for was 'ascetical'--the practice of mystical Chritian theology contains ascetic practices such as detachment exercises.

Removing the reminders of aikido might have been a type of ascetic exercise.

Our word this week at our dojo is 'ascetic training.'
Thanks, Suzanne, for the valuable insight.

I guess given a choice for/of "detachment", I would rather choose Aikido than leaving my wife & kids to go into the Amazon jungle to teach some lost tribes the art of Aikido ;) Hey, the 2nd choice is not a bad idea, I might even start a cult there :)

Warm regards & happy training

David

Ron Tisdale
10-01-2003, 12:17 PM
Hi Suzanne,

Did you used to train in Phila.?

Ron

MikeE
10-01-2003, 01:18 PM
I just thank the good Lord I'm Buddhist.

;)

Suzanne Cooper
10-01-2003, 05:13 PM
Hi Ron--

Nope--life-long southern belle here.

I had forebearers in Philadelphia about 250 years ago.

No family history of martial arts interest, though.

Ron Tisdale
10-02-2003, 07:20 AM
There's a Susan Cooper I believe, who used to train with Utada Sensei (yoshinkan) in Phila. (I don't know, she may be back again). When I checked your website, and saw the yosh connection, I just had to ask...

Ron

SeiserL
10-02-2003, 09:42 AM
IMHO, almost everything that is the establishment now, was at one time considered a cult.

If Aikido is a cult, its a good one. I am glad I joined.

aikifish
10-02-2003, 10:39 AM
I prefer the term "sub-culture".

Erik
10-02-2003, 11:36 AM
Do any groups ever refer to themselves as a cult? It's always the other group isn't it.

Kevin Leavitt
10-04-2003, 05:23 PM
I suppose to some it can be a cult, it just depends on your paradigm, perspective, and socio-religious make up.

In someways Catholicism can be practiced as a cult, it just depends on who and where you are.

Reminds me of a great, but strange movie (had to watch it twice). Holy Smokes with Harvey Keitel. Recommend watching it, you begin to wonder who is really in the cult.

As a Buddhist I am constantly thinking about the paradigms around me and the things that control my thinking.

It wasn't until a couple of years ago when I WOKE UP as the zen folks would say, that I realized that my thinking and way of life is dictated to me by all the things around me. It is sometimes hard to find the truth out there.

So, I guess my point is, in some ways all of us live in one kind of cult or another be it Aikido, the Catholic Church, Capitalism, the television...you name it!

How would you ever really know if you where in a cult to begin with???

Ghost Fox
10-06-2003, 06:36 AM
The Advanced Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Frame (http://www.neopagan.net/ABCDEF.html)

Jeanne Shepard
10-09-2003, 07:49 PM
I'd rather it was referred to as a "cult" than "that dance thing you do", which is how my father refers to it.

Jeanne

Ghost Fox
10-10-2003, 06:14 AM
I'd rather it was referred to as a "cult" than "that dance thing you do", which is how my father refers to it.

Jeanne
Ouch!!:(

Suzanne Cooper
10-11-2003, 08:57 PM
Oooo! 'That dance thing'!

You must be graceful at it. Someday, I hope to be graceful! Until then, I'll just be faithfully attendent.

Jeanne Shepard
10-11-2003, 10:51 PM
My dad attened my ballet recitals for years, so to him, everything I do is "dance" even though I don't wear toe shoes to Aikido.

Jeanne

Mary Eastland
10-12-2003, 05:19 PM
I don't think Aikido is a cult. I do think some students give their power away to their instructors in a cult like way.

Mary

bca333
10-12-2003, 06:18 PM
There is no way I would EVER subject myself to an organization suspected of brainwashing!!!!!

Brad (Catholic, Boy Scout, US Army)

Kevin Leavitt
10-18-2003, 04:10 AM
Well Brad I guess I am two steps ahead of you! Was Episcopalian (Catholic lite), was a boy scout, but since they as a private organization seem to be somewhat pig headed on legislating morality based on one religion I disowned them!

Well still doing the Army thing!

p00kiethebear
10-26-2003, 11:53 PM
These day's aikido is soooo dynamic and diverse. There are thousands of styles that have evolved from the original taught by ueshiba. Yoshinkan, Ki, Ki Shin Tai just to name a few. All of them are different in some way. and they don't all have the same values. Some schools it's all about taking the enemy down with whatever it takes, in others it's about protecting yourself as well as the person who's attacking you from physical harm. They're all so different. Some may seem cultish.

websters defines cult as: "A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader."

Some aikido's are extremist. some may be considered "false". But aikido is not unconventional. However it WAS at one point under the guidence of a charismatic leader = P.

So it just depends on the dojo, who the sensei, and what you interperate aikido to be.