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Ted Marr
12-12-2003, 10:01 AM
When O Sensei founded Aikido, part of his intent was that Aikido should be universal, and that people learning it would help bring peace and harmony to the entire world.
Now, this is a kind of cool goal as far as I'm concerned, but I wonder about its practicality, and what people think of this philosophy.
It really comes down to a question of eletism vs popularism. Is Aikido "for" everyone? Or rather, should it be?
On the plus side, I see a lot of people learning some self control, learning a little bit of self defense, and possibly obtaining (in some small way) the benefits that come with regular activity.
On the minus side, I worry about the art becoming "diluted" in order to broaden it's appeal, as has arguably happened in many other arenas of human endeavor, like (fast) food, (pop) music, and (Tae Bo, cardio kickboxing) "martial arts".
I would be really interested to see what other people think about this subject...

kung fu hamster
12-12-2003, 10:16 AM
I understood O Sensei to have had a directive not to teach these techniques to hooligans, or hoodlums (something like that), so as far as I can see, already he was making a separation, indicating that not everyone was to be taught aikido.

Jeff Tibbetts
12-12-2003, 10:17 AM
Wow. That's a heavy question. I think that the principles and the philosophy of Aikido are truly universal. The most effective way for me to learn the value of those principles is to practice the physical techniques. When someone talks about softness or pliancy overcoming strength, or about not opposing direct force but blending with it... it's hard to understand what that really means. Once you begin to train and see what happens when you try to oppose someone instead of blend with them you can see the idea. I think if you are talking about changing the way that we train to broaden it's appeal, well that's a tough one. My initial gut reaction is that that should not happen. However, how can the range and scope of Aikido grow if that doesn't happen? I think that as it has become more popular, it hasn't had to change all that much (certain obvious exceptions aside) so far. I think it may be that society is slowly changing and in so doing more people are finding the attraction of Aikido. I can see a possibility of it becoming very diluted, though, if people do not maintain the tradition to an extent. That would be very sad, indeed. In the meantime, I wonder what, if anything, we should be doing to spread the message of Aikido, with or without techniique?

Ted Marr
12-12-2003, 10:22 AM
Oh, one possibility that I excluded in my initial post... am I making a false dichotomy in saying "either dilute and popularize OR keep it pure and elite"? Is it possible to walk both roads, such that Aikido remains pure while it becomes widespread? I suppose I could also add the question of what "pure" or "undiluted" means, but that is a whole other can of worms.

fvhale
12-12-2003, 10:36 AM
Dear Ted,

You wrote "It really comes down to a question of eletism vs popularism. Is Aikido 'for' everyone? Or rather, should it be?"

There are many such questions, and I have found that framing them as "elistsm vs popularism" is perhaps not very useful.

Consider air, our atmosphere, for a moment. It is "for everyone," not out of popularism, but out of life. Anyone is free at anytime to stop enjoying air; but most cling desperately to their final attempts to continue partaking of air. Neither elitism nor popularism, but a matter of life (and death). Some do better, such as trained athletes with very efficient respiratory systems; some don't take are of their practice of breathing; that is a matter of life practice and training. But all who are alive partake of the air in some way, even if they don't believe it. We all enjoy it, and we all also damage it in some way by our living in it. Perhaps there is also something of our "pollution" of aikido in our very practice! Our living produces waste; it is unavoidable. Enough of this metaphor.

Peace to you.

ian
12-12-2003, 10:46 AM
Hi Ted,

I'm not sure what Ueshiba really meant. He also said when he was walking it was aikido. Maybe he meant aikido is for the whole human family he was talking in a more spiritual sense or the sense that the principles of aikido are the same as the principles of the universe.

Admittedly he did try to popularise it. I think he was actually trying to produce a peace movement on the back of aikido, and to a large extent he wasn't bothered about how effective it would be when it was spread. Basically Ueshiba did not teach people how to do what he was capable of doing.

Personally I see aikido as an important heritage which should be available to those who want to train, but should also be retained as a practical fighting art.

Personally I would like to see a university of self-defence and martial arts, where people can study the background, philosophy of martial arts as well as have a thorough training in different martial arts. In addition the research department would examine the psychology, practicality and other aspects of martial arts to improve them.

Ian

Greg Jennings
12-12-2003, 11:50 AM
Aikido simply cannot be for, literally, everone.

No matter where you set the bar, there will always be people for which aikido practice is too strenuous.

No matter how simple you make it, there will always be people that are so uncoordinated that they just can't participate in a regular class.

No matter how on top of class the instructor is, there will be people with problems that render them a danger to the rest of class.

And, simply, no matter what you do, there will be people that find what you're doing unpleasant enough that they prefer to do something else.

FWIW,

otto
12-12-2003, 03:40 PM
Aikido in fact could be for everyone , certainly should be for everyone ,but sadly it isnt for everyone....

Does this make sense?

Also , wasnt O'Sensei who said "If you can walk , you can make/do Aikido" ?

Otto

akiy
12-12-2003, 03:49 PM
Just in case this interests anyone, I asked, "Do you think that studying aikido would be beneficial for everyone?" back in January, 2001:

http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=42

-- Jun

p00kiethebear
12-12-2003, 04:16 PM
I'm a pretty firm believer in that, everyone who wants to learn, can learn.

Most of you seem to be talking about aikido in the physical sense. But keep in mind, the techniques are really only one manifestation of a practice.

Conflict is everywhere.

Aikido is a way of dealing with conflict, whether it be mental, physical, or spritual.

Though someone may not be able to learn the throws / pins that manifest themselves physically, I believe that anyone can be taught the aikido mind.

Without the right mind / intent, the physical techniques are no more than a way to subdue an aggressor.

However, if we lose all techniques and leave the aikido mind, you still have something usefull / meaningfull that can be used when conflict arrises.

Am I making any sense at all?

When O Sensei said that aikido was for everyone, I believe what was meant by that, was the mental aspects of the art.

Without the mind, you have a way to hurt people.

But without the physical, you still have a mind which can heal.

Obviously some people are going to be incapable of throwing someone or taking ukemi, and obviously there are going to be people so mentally ill that they can't wrap their minds around the concepts taught. But they can still live and work in an aiki-mind society. Meaning that, if everyone else is doing it, and they're living well in this society, then aikido is still for them. Because it's giving to them.

As far as "diluting" techniques go. This is why we have Begining, intermediate and advanced classes. Didn't we all learn diluted techniques at one point?

In fact arn't the techniques in aikido ALREADY ancient techniques that were used to hurt people which have now been DILUTED so as not to harm our uke's / aggressors.

People who can't get any higher than a certain level will remain in the begining class untill they CAN get better, if that means an eternity of basic techniques, then they can choose to do that, aikido is still for them. Those who advance quickly and are more kinetic, will move on to higher classes, if their is a point where they can no longer improve anymore, then they will stay at that level for as long as they want to continue the art. Those who have limitless potential are the ones who can keep the art "pure", they become teachers and "shihan".

After you've been in martial arts for a while. (i'm told) You understand that the art is ALWAYS changing. What I used to know as kokyuo nage was changed to Irimi nage half a year into my aikido career.

Arts change over time whether it be a way of stepping or a way of grabbing uke. Keep in mind aikido is only about 70 - 80 years old, it's still in it's early years compared to ninpo, karate, shaolin gong fu etc.

Hopefully when arts change, they change for the best.

*Whew*

Did I make any sense in there?

-Nathan

Alfonso
12-12-2003, 04:41 PM
I recall reading O-Sensei didn't want ruffians/people of bad character learning aikido.

from the founder's Dojo regulation these days:

"The purpose of Aikido is to train mind and body and to produce sincere, earnest people. Since all the techniques are to be transmitted person-to-person, do not randomly reveal them to others, for this might lead to their being used by hoodlums.

"

:confused:

Nick Simpson
12-12-2003, 05:42 PM
It sucks, but there are some people that cant manage any form of physical aikido. I know of a student who trained once a week for a year, we loved him because he was the under dog and he turned up every week and he tried as hard as possible and we all tried to help him. But he couldnt even do tai sabaki right, sensei would have to move his feet for him etc etc. This student didnt even have the option of practising basic technique for eternity, he couldnt do tai sabaki or tai no henko, how was he supposed to do kihon waza?

Aikido idealistically "should" be for everyone but unfortuantely there are some individuals who no matter how hard they try will never be able to do it in the physical sense. Persoanlly I dont believe in the " aikido isnt just the physical techniques and can encompasse everything from walking to feeding your dog ". Aikido is a martial art, to practice its techniques in a controlled environment is to practice Aikido. To do the other stuff, such as blending with a possible opponent over an argument and neutralising a possible fight is aiki, not aikido, at least in my humble opinion. Otherwise were do the categorisations end? " I crossed the road and didnt get hit by a car today, I was in harmony with the traffic, I do aikido! "

For me it breaks down into two things, practising the martial art and having the spirit of aiki, not all people who practice aikido have the aiki spirit. Many more people do aiki on a regular basis, but dont realise it.

p00kiethebear
12-12-2003, 06:05 PM
"To do the other stuff, such as blending with a possible opponent over an argument and neutralising a possible fight is aiki, not aikido, at least in my humble opinion. Otherwise were do the categorisations end?"

THEY DON'T! Aikido is infinitely applicable EVERWHERE.

Yann Golanski
12-13-2003, 04:24 AM
Maybe we should ask ourselves: who would you teach Aikido to?...

John Boswell
12-13-2003, 04:58 AM
It sucks, but there are some people that cant manage any form of physical aikido. I know of a student who trained once a week for a year, we loved him because he was the under dog and he turned up every week and he tried as hard as possible and we all tried to help him. But he couldnt even do tai sabaki right, sensei would have to move his feet for him etc etc. This student didnt even have the option of practising basic technique for eternity, he couldnt do tai sabaki or tai no henko, how was he supposed to do kihon waza?

Aikido idealistically "should" be for everyone but unfortuantely there are some individuals who no matter how hard they try will never be able to do it in the physical sense. Persoanlly I dont believe in the " aikido isnt just the physical techniques and can encompasse everything from walking to feeding your dog ". Aikido is a martial art, to practice its techniques in a controlled environment is to practice Aikido. To do the other stuff, such as blending with a possible opponent over an argument and neutralising a possible fight is aiki, not aikido, at least in my humble opinion. Otherwise were do the categorisations end? " I crossed the road and didnt get hit by a car today, I was in harmony with the traffic, I do aikido! "

For me it breaks down into two things, practising the martial art and having the spirit of aiki, not all people who practice aikido have the aiki spirit. Many more people do aiki on a regular basis, but dont realise it.
Nick,

That story makes me truly sad. I'm being genuinely serious here.

The thought that someone can't get aikido, despite an hour or two worth of practice every week for a year, that just crushes my heart.

Is it more difficult? Obviously. But I think someone of such unusual circumstance would only strengthen my resolve to teach that individual how to do Aikido! As for you point of Aiki spirit and the martial aspect of Aikido... I think one is a state of being while the other is a practice derived from or toward said state.

O'Sensei has a well known quote of practicing aikido just walking. How simple is that? So, if you crossed the street and didn't get hit... big deal! It's still Aikido. Just because it was uneventful doesn't make it any less extraordinary. Can you stand in the middle of a road and accept the fact that you are Responsible for not being hit by a car or truck or lightning or anything else? That's a pretty big responsiblity. It might sound silly right now... but it IS in fact huge. Very huge. To be Cause is a very significant thing.

That Aikido IS so simple and has such a pure goal is humbling in itself. All the more reason to work on those underdogs who see it and just can't do it... yet.

paw
12-13-2003, 11:34 AM
I cast no aspirations about the people posting here, particularly because I've not met them face to face nor trained with them in any capacity.

That said, my experience has always been that the first person to cry out "that's not aikido" is the person who previously said that aikido is more than a collection of physical techniques and infinately applicable. And the context for their pronouncement is always based on a physical technique that is not in the general "aikido" collection of movements, not on attitude, mindset or intention.

Regards,

Paul

Don_Modesto
12-13-2003, 12:19 PM
When O Sensei founded Aikido, part of his intent was that Aikido should be universal, and that people learning it would help bring peace and harmony to the entire world.
Ya think? I'm not so sure. That's certainly the PR, I'll grant you.

First, we have to be very careful of what the founder MEANT(as no one seemed to understand what he SAID). Then, we have to take great care with the infelicities of translations and whatever agendas might slip in under that cover. That leaves us with what he actually DID.

Famously, it was his the founder's son Kisshomaru who popularized aikido, not the founder himself. Indeed, the second DOSHU had some difficulty persuading the his father that aikido could survive popularity (some say it hasn't). The founder himself demanded that applicants not only be of sound character, but have two letters of introduction from prominent citizens in addition to already having mastered another martial art (i.e., aikido was meant to be "advanced" martial art.) This would tend to winnow out the more casual practitioners now constituting the bulk of the aikido demographic.

Moreover, we have to consider the times and pressures of that milieu. Much of aikido "spirituality" was jettisoned to placate the occupation. The transformation of militarists into pacifists was an everyday occurence in post-war Japan where many of those familiar with the exercise of power had, inconveniently, been convicted as war criminals. That the founder spent his career hobnobbing with admirals, rightists, plotters, spies, and assassins probably didn't look to good on his resume. Accomodations to the ugly realities of the world ill-behooves golden sages' images, but there it is, and thus (perhaps, don't want to be too cynical here) "aikido is meant to purify the world!"

I think he was actually trying to produce a peace movement on the back of aikido, and to a large extent he wasn't bothered about how effective it would be when it was spread.
"Peace movement"...Cf. Amdur at http://143.207.8.139/cgi-bin/ubb/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=18&t=000088 :

"Osensei as Pacifist?

"I recall a presentation 2nd Doshu gave to the Japan Martial Arts Society in the 1980's, and someone raised his hand as asked just when it was that Osensei became a pacifist. After the translation, Doshu looked rather puzzled, and asked for clarification, and the question was asked again. Doshu seemed to be suppressing giggles, and said, in effect that his father was never a pacifist, nor was aikido a pacifist practice. "After all, it is a martial art," he said. He then continued on to say, vaguely but accurately that his father created something new, that was outside the dualism of violence and non-violence."

Nick Simpson
12-14-2003, 07:01 AM
Interesting points John, I'll certainly think about them.

As for the guy I know, yes, it is a sad story, but we honestly tried our best with him. we have 3 sensei and each of them spent a great deal of time with him one on one, teaching him how to how to roll etc etc. I spent a lot of time teaching him basic technique, somtimes he would begin to get it, but by the next session he was back to sqaure one. He was just a totally uncoordinated individual who had problems running during the warm ups. After one year he had began to get a little better at rolling but unfortuantely he stopped coming and was involved in a car crash in september and has a pretty bad case of whiplash. Ive seen him around a couple of times and asked him if he would like to come back but so far he hasnt been to training for 6 months.

I would seriously love it if he came back, he could show some of our beginners a thing or two about spirt and persevarance.

kOmm
12-14-2003, 09:53 AM
Just a quick one: when O Sensei refers to hoodlums, he says that "we shouldnt teach them RANDOMLY", because from my point of view, if a "hoodlum" joins a dojo, trains, accepts the discipline, and tries to understand, he then ceases to be a hoodlum, or else he wouldnt be training aikido.

To make it short, Aikido is, among many other things, an activity to cleanse ones mind and body, and by training its arts, we are united with nature, and differences between people don't matter so much...

Its no that short but i think its clear...

Taliesin
12-15-2003, 06:50 AM
Maybe Aikido is for everyone prepared tolearn it!!!

SeiserL
12-15-2003, 07:58 AM
IMHO, Aikido is not for every one. At least not yet.

I was interested in Aikido for years before I actually studied. The mental model of Aikido was so far from my "bashing" model that it was too large a leap. As I aged and mellowed, I finally found a Sensei who could make it work. When the student is ready the teacher appears type of thing.

Is Aikido for everyone? No, not yet.

p00kiethebear
12-15-2003, 09:28 AM
Here is another way of looking at the question.

"Is aikido FOR everyone?" The answer is yes. Aikido IS for everyone in the sense that it was GIVEN to the world by a great teacher.

Just because my grandmother gives me a shirt that I can't fit into for christmas doesn't mean that the shirt wasn't for me. The shirt is still for me. It just doesn't fit right, yet.

The question you should be asking is "Can everyone do aikido?" or something along those lines. Because aikido was and is certainly FOR everyone, and the world.

Sparta
12-15-2003, 06:06 PM
you know the story of how O Sensei was challenged by the navy officer and faced him unarmed... and exhausted the officer by simply avoiding his attacks? Your initial question made me think of this story. Immediately afterwards, O Sensei had a spiritually lifechanging enlightement experience... but you don't ever hear what happened to the officer. Simply put, I think that aikido IS literally for everyone... ukemi learns from nage... whether in a friendly dojo environment or in the throes of war. Since aikido's source is love, (just as the techniques in aikido are initiated from your center) the lessons aikido can teach can be emparted to ukemi and nage simultaneously... however, it is up to the state of mind and attitude of the individual how well the lesson is learned and how sincerely it is taken to heart.

:ai: