View Full Version : Aiki as "New Age"???

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10-31-2003, 07:05 PM
Hopefully this thread won't start up too much trouble, and I also hope I don't offend anybody either.

I picked up the Thomas Crum book "The Magic of Conflict", and while I haven't had the chance to read it yet, something struck me about the little back cover write-up. It says, "...Aiki - a uniquely effective New Age stress-reduction strategy." Now, maybe it's out of ignorance, but every time I hear "New Age", I think "Ohhhhhh, brother." Most of the time that I've encountered "New Age", as far as I can tell it's involved some disturbingly misinterpreted and bastardized concepts proudly and enthusiastically lived and preached by people who... well, I don't mean for this to come across as some canky tirade, but I can only describe them as appearing light-headed or strongly anesthetized. I remember once finding myself in the middle of a conversation in which people were discussing with a great deal of certainty how it was no wonder that a particular restaurant went out of business considering how it had mirrors placed in the enterance hallway, and mirrors are very bad things because they "reflect chi". I just barely refrained from contributing, "Of course!" :rolleyes:

Am I being a (rather young) cantankerous old man about this, or does anyone else here find themselves sort of wincing when Aiki is labeled as "New Age"? I hope this doesn't start any hostile conversations (some of the posts in the Steven Seagal threads seemed on the verge of using the lethal-witted "You big doody-head!!!"), but I'd never heard or read the two concepts associated with each other, and it just seemed out of place to me. Maybe this isn't exactly a high-quality thread for me to post, but I am curious about people's thoughts on it, so let's see what comes up (everybody duck...).

10-31-2003, 07:25 PM
There was another thread about the Westernization of Aikido - this is it.

Chuck Clark
10-31-2003, 08:02 PM
It's called "Marketing."

Neil Mick
10-31-2003, 08:41 PM
Count me in as one of those who wince when they hear the words "Aiki" and "New Age" in the same sentence.

I live in California, and so I hear the word "energy" bandied about a lot. I come from the E Coast, and so I wince when I hear this nebulous term used for so many references (don't get me started...). When I need to talk about "energy," I try to use another term for what I'm describing.

It seems to me that "New Age" falls into this "vague" fallacy: that of taking a mixture of beliefs and practices, grinding out the cultural bases of meaning (and oftentimes, origin), and spluttering out a bland, oatmeally-pap of philosophy that serves only to enhance one's fluffy-headed worldviews.

But, I don't have any axes to grind. :D if you believe that mirrors can cause a business to bankrupt, that "energy" is some invisible plasma that can be felt and transmuted, or that Aikido, in its discussion of harmony and flow is a component of this oatmeal-New-Ageism, then more power to you.

But: forgive me if I bring any "bad energy" into this thread--I'm just trying to heal my inner child. :D

Kevin Leavitt
11-01-2003, 11:52 AM
I recently have encountered the term "New Age" to be used by the conservative fundamentalist, evangelical christian sect to be a PC word for things they think are anti-christian.

I have to laugh when I go into the PX bookstores on the post in Germany and they have the "New Age" section and it is only full of wicaan material and it is right next to the "religion" section that is pretty much just full of Christian oriented readings.

I have seen the ancient arts of Yoga also thrown into new age.

I think new age means in the United States "Oh let me try that, I never heard of it before...it must be NEW!"

Anders Bjonback
11-01-2003, 02:42 PM
Hearing aiki described as new age makes me want to regurgitate my insides.

11-02-2003, 02:32 AM
if you believe that mirrors can cause a business to bankrupt
Only if they`ve been put in the wrong place ;), but Feng Shui really is new age, isn`t it? :D

11-02-2003, 03:12 AM
Am I being a (rather young) cantankerous old man about this, or does anyone else here find themselves sort of wincing when Aiki is labeled as "New Age"?
80% of the time = yes

20% of the time = no

The whole "new age" thing, (IMHO) despite being mostly a marketing ploy, has some useful elements within it.

It's not so much the New Age thing that's disturbing, but rather some of the

'New Age-rs'.

Regardless, I try to do my own thing and let folks do theirs. Hopefully we can occasionally meet in the middle.

11-02-2003, 05:01 AM
How did the term "New Age" come about?

All I see that the "New Age" stuff are actually ancient materials.

11-02-2003, 08:42 AM
How did the term "New Age" come about?

All I see that the "New Age" stuff are actually ancient materials.
IIRC (and maybe I don't)

It has something to do with the Age of Aquarius being the "New, enlighted Age"

(btw... I don't think were still in Aquarius are we? Didn't that culminate in the year 2000?)


11-02-2003, 02:22 PM
I'm not sure where the term "New Age" came from, but yes, regardless of what its origins and original intent may have been, it does often seem to be most closely associated with concepts such as Wicca, Feng Shui, etc, and I really can't see Aiki being included in that group. I'll also agree that the "New Age" approach often appears tainted by commercialism and marketing considerations.

I think it's important to try to find out just how qualified and reliable a source of information is, particularly in areas that seem easily corrupted and diluted by the prioritization of commercialism and marketing concerns. I mean, you can interpret it and use it as you may, and you can believe what you'd like, but if you're genuinely interested in finding out about a set of beliefs or concepts or what have you, I think it's important to get that from authentic and reliable sources. Then, after listening to and reading the real deal, you can do with that what you'd like.

I suspect that there may be the danger of misinterpreting some of the points or aspects of the philosophies and ideas that we seem to be importing from areas such as China and Japan. Aside from the problem of it often being perceived (consciously or not) as exotic in a sense, therefore making it subject to becoming taboo and utilized as a set of gimicks within a fad, I imagine it's quite possible that the genuine ideas and meanings could get lost in the cultural translation as well. We can have enough difficulty understanding the ideas and purposes of belief systems within our own culture. Look at all the turmoil with the Catholic church right now, where people are condemning the set of beliefs for the terrible flaws within the organization (not to mention condemning the organization as a whole for the sick and misguided actions of individuals within that organization - like, "Several Aikido instructors have abused their students, and some administrators have covered that up, so all of Aikido is evil!"). And even outside of scandals, in the more ordinary question of good people trying to find and follow their beliefs, there's still confusion caused by the simple fact that different individuals will perceive and go about things in different ways.

So when we're receiving these ideas from another culture, which can complicate things even further when it comes to genuinely understanding what's going on, it's important that we're getting them from reliable sources that are capable of negotiating those translations, not just in the words but in their contexts and meanings.

Also, on a further musing, I wonder how these ideas, "ancient" as their often described, have held up in keeping intact over time when it comes to authenticity, even within their own cultures of origin, from generation to generation (like younger generations here mistakenly referring to Brian Setzer's music as "swing", for example) and just over time in general. I suppose that though some things never really change at their core, it could still be argued that times do change (at least in specifics), and so the manner in which beliefs are applied must adjust in how they're utilized within changing environments as new issues come up.

I guess when it comes down to it, we're all simply trying to find our way. But when you have to add to these concerns the apparently commercial approach of "New Age", where marketing considerations may actually be prioritized over questions of authenticity....

Kevin Leavitt
11-02-2003, 03:09 PM
Anything art or concept an average American has never heard of before is NEW AGE.

Kevin Leavitt
11-02-2003, 03:15 PM
link to CBN article on New Age (http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/linda%5Fbreitman%2Easp)

Here is a link to what Pat Robertson's fundamentalist evangelical christians think of the concept of new age.


Kevin Leavitt
11-02-2003, 03:20 PM
More good stuff from our Pat Robertson. They define new age. No need to look any further!

Definition of New Age (http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/evangelism/my%2Dnew%5Fage%5Ffriend%2Easp)

11-02-2003, 03:25 PM
i wrote & deleted this post the other day- lets see if i can approximate it.I did some of the new age thing in the 80s.What it seems to be to me is somebody taking what they want to from various traditions and making some kind of "ancient path" out of it.Like "My name is Crystal Star and i am a 25th generation native American Celtic Wiccan Shamaness and Voice of the entity 'BAH'"

Sorry. Never Happened.

Anyway i got very badly burned by one of these "facilitators" when it came out that she wasn't in it for the spiritual evolution of wimynkind but for the bucks.

Since then i will only participate in activities which have a clear and traceable history, tradition and Lineage.- aikido, yoga, tai chi, ballet,meditation,Renaissance Faire- i know where all these came from.I make it a point to know who my teacher's teacher is.

FWIW, real, true Feng Shui is absolutely nothing like what most "consultants" are selling but pretty common sense- build your house between a mountain and a stream- this gives you some measure of security and is (OK i gotta use a newageism here) a nexus of negative ionization, which tends to make one feel good...

having said this, i do admit to reading my horoscope, playing with Tarot cards and practicing small and harmless magics....

11-02-2003, 07:41 PM
And by enjoy, I take it you mean scream bloody murder at the monitor?

*sound of bob trying not to burst a blood vessel*



Neil Mick
11-03-2003, 12:49 AM
link to CBN article on New Age (http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/linda%5Fbreitman%2Easp)

Here is a link to what Pat Robertson's fundamentalist evangelical christians think of the concept of new age.

Eek! This (http://www.goingfishing.org/store.html) is what I got when I google'd the woman's name (Linda Breitman). Brr! Scary! :eek: (but, you have to wonder about a woman who claims to "feel" the power of "occult forces")

To reiterate: Many of the beliefs from the New Age mishmash have basis in their original belief-systems, IMHO. The term New Age came around in the '70's, I think. And, as Jo says: Feng Shui in whole cloth has a basis in common sense--a lot of religious/spiritual practices do (the proscription againt pork for both Jewish and Muslim religions, for example).

11-03-2003, 04:21 AM
FWIW, real, true Feng Shui is absolutely nothing like what most "consultants" are selling
IIRC, Most of the Feng Shui you'll see in bookstores and whatnot is something called Black Hat Sect. It's a very simplified, sanitized version. Kind of a dumbed down Feng Shui for the unwashed masses :D


11-04-2003, 07:47 AM
I think hard style* Aikido practioners should go around dojo breaking, not only will this attract a more gung-ho crowd that will be willing to test their mettle against practioners of other styles.

It will also shake this fruity new-age baggage Aikido seems to have accumulated from soft teachers, employing soft** teaching methods and raising soft yet surprisingly arrogant generations of Aikidoka.

* Hard style not in the sense of Yoshinkan or Shodokan but rather hard style as in taught in a martially effective way.

** Meaning never realistically tested or challenged.

Kevin Leavitt
11-04-2003, 11:37 AM
I don't really think "dojo busting" is the answer.

I have studied with many so called realist that teach "combat" ju-jutsu etc. I found many of them to be lacking much more than many of the soft teachers that do not have a chip on their shoulder.

I think many things come with age, experience, and true self realization. One of those things is a health esteem, which does not require you to prove your worth to anyone. These are the guys I want to study with.

I believe what you are illuding to is hard in the sense of harding your character or your mental toughness. I certainly think that aikido is not strong in that area, but I am not sure that is necessarily a weakness of aikido as a teaching methodology as much as it is a characteristic that should be picked up in other forms of martial arts or other pursuits in life.

I will tell you that my biggest weakness in aikido comes from years of hard mental training and self punishment and I have spent much time trying to soften that side of me so to speak so I can open up and do aikido.

As an internal art I don't believe it is necessary to be "Hard" to grow from the heart and learn to love yourself and be compassionate to other people.

As I get older and wiser, I hope, I find it takes much more courage and discipline to learn this so called fruity stuff.

If we had much more of this idealism in the world, then we would have a lot more peace and love and Aikido would be working wonders!

I think respect is something each individual earns and that applies to aikido and martial arts. We try to personify aikido and make it take on a life of it's own like it can be judged solely on it's merits as a martial art.

Martial artist and aikidoka are what it is all about, and that respect is applied on an individual basis.

That said, there are many aikidoka i respect many that are very soft and I could kick their ass...but that has nothing to do with respect. If it did then I think you are missing the point.

Do you call the guy that does Aikido from a wheel chair ineffective as a martial artist cause he can't go around busting dojos effectively proving the worth of aikido as an art???

No, you look at him as a individual and look in his eyes and see his determination and spirit trying to realize HIS own potential as a human being and an aikidoka! THAT is what I call a TRUE budoka!! It has nothing to do with combat effectiveness.

Each of us have our own challenges our own demons, short comings, and paths. What is important is that we are true to them and do our best every day to improve.

I think aikido, even the so called fruity stuff offers a wonderful environment for this to happen.

If you go around dojo busting and trying to prove who is better or who has the best effective art. You may win the battle, but I believe you are missing the real point of budo and you will eventually loose to someone who is bigger and better! Don't see the point.

Frankly I do not wish to train with the gung ho type that are looking for a quick fix.

Also, an individual is free to study with anyone that they choose. So I submit that the free market keeps each art efficient already. That is, the loose baggage, so to speak, is constantly being shook out.

Maybe it is those that are dissatisfied with Aikido that should be shook out and not the "fruity" teachers that many people seem so willing to pay for their knowledge!

11-04-2003, 12:36 PM
Reminds me of something I read, I think it was an old kung fu master. He was saying how many times he's been asked, with all the many forms of kung fu, which one is the best or most effective. He mentioned in response how there had been much rivalry with that over the years, and sometimes one style would win, and sometimes another would win, and it ended up basically proving that it's not so much about the martial art but the martial artist, and that it's really about the individual and the individual pursuit.

11-05-2003, 12:08 PM
I picked up the Thomas Crum book "The Magic of Conflict", and while I haven't had the chance to read it yet, something struck me about the little back cover write-up.
If you thought the cover was bad just wait until you read it! In all fairness, it is a very good book from a content and concept standpoint but you had better have some crackers on hand to go with all the cheese! :D