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Paula Lydon
12-24-2003, 08:10 AM
Hi All!

~~Many times I find the philosophical core of Aikido both intriguing and irritating. I have trained in other MA and they were fundamentally that, martial arts, nice and clean. My others schools taught us to use only the force necessary to control/end an attack, as does Aikido, and so all of that would appear similar. But the foundations that those arts and Aikido are built on feel, to me, strikingly different.

~~We rarely discuss any of O sensei's sayings or beliefs in my dojo, and yet the construct of the training itself, and tidbits dropped here and there, reflect a very divergent starting and ending point to a hypothetical agressive encounter than most other MA. It's like there's a schism, though, functional MA or philosophical study. You will all probably tell me to pursue both, which I guess is the ideal, but these two concepts feel quite different inside of me depending upon which one I am focused. It really alters my energy alignment and mindset in that instant of practice.

~~Training in Aikido to me is like trying to
understand a paradox. Or maybe the war is only in myself and these heavy concepts I'm dragging around. I am going on faith that there is a place where these two concepts can come together in peace, which also reminds me to hold faith that the world can. And maybe that's the real gift and truth of Aikido :)

Thalib
12-24-2003, 09:04 AM
You know Paula, I agree with you, it is a paradox.

But, as one learns and travels down that path, one will see that the paradox is actually "cause and effect".

As for me, like you, I still see it as a paradox. I haven't seen which is the cause and which is the effect.

tedehara
12-24-2003, 10:31 AM
I haven't had as much trouble integrating the philosophy and techniques of Aikido because of the style that I practice. The Ki Society integrates their philosophy with their style of Aikido. Sometimes they will change the technique to fit the principle; sometimes they will change the principle to more closely explain the technique. The philosophy is explained in Ki class. The application is practiced in Aikido class. For the last thirty years it’s been a dynamic style, with changes coming annually.

For most people who practice Aikido, this is usually done in two separate processes. You go to the dojo to train in Aikido, the martial art. You go home to study the various writings of Aikidoists to understand Aikido, the philosophy. Occasionally you might discuss what you've read with others or question what you've read about with your sensei.

The problem becomes integrating (blending?) the techniques with what you've read. How can you use Aikidothephilosophy to improve Aikidothemartialart? Conversely, how can you use Aikidothemartialart to verify the principles of Aikidothephilosophy? For all involved, it is part of the learning process.

:cool: cool

Ron Tisdale
12-24-2003, 11:49 AM
Hi Paula,

I was at your dojo last night and had a fantastic time! I have to say that there is a paradox in what is often presented as the philosophy of aikido and the idea of a MA. I don't mind though, since I feel that a lot of these paradoxes get sorted out through training. The only thing that really bothers me is that sometimes I feel aikido practice encourages my own somewhat passive agresive nature. But I have a feeling that's more my issue than aikido's...

I'm going to try to get to the BA again on friday...will you be there?

Best,

Ron

jxa127
12-24-2003, 12:34 PM
Hi folks,

For me, it all begins and ends with the physical technique. If somebody is trying to hit me, I don't meet force with force; block and strike back. Instead, I blend with/embrace/accept the energy, and turn it around (literally) so that I can come out on top (litterally [:)] )! If I can protect my attacker from harm during that process, I will. This is, as I understand it, the basic philosophy of aikido.

This physical reality, practiced hundreds of times a month, can serve as a good model for dealing with non-physical attacks. Blending during an argument means acknowledging the connection between yourself and the person you're arguing with. It may mean saying, "you may be right," or "I understand your frustration," (accepting their energy) instead of, "you're wrong," (meeting the energy head on).

I often try to maintain my center in an argument by expressing how I feel rather than telling the other person what they're saying is wrong. For example, saying, "I feel confused when you say ___" instead of "You're confusing me when you say ___". I think of the first as keeping my center and the second as giving up my center to the other person.

A really good book that goes into great depth on this subject is The Magic of Conflict by Thomas Crum.

Anyway, I think aikido is an effective martial art that works very well in physcial conflicts. I think it can also offer a good model for dealing with non-physical conflicts. It's not the only model, however. I have trouble applying it to conflicts where the other person is avoiding me or acting in a passive-aggresstive manner.

Just some thoughts.

Regards,

-Drew

SeiserL
12-24-2003, 02:17 PM
IMHO, war and peace are only a paradox if you see them both as mutually exclusive. When you accept they co-exist and are inter-related and inter-dependent, the koan slips away and you just train.

Michael Young
12-24-2003, 03:50 PM
QUOTE

"Training in Aikido to me is like trying to

understand a paradox. Or maybe the war is only in myself and these heavy concepts I'm dragging around."

-Paul Lyndon

Mr. Lyndon, I think you've pretty much hit it on the head. Just like me, (and everyone else) you bring your own inner struggles into Aikido. Its one of the big things that keeps me coming back. Aikido is a tool for helping me explore and resolve (eventually if I'm lucky and keep practicing) these inner struggles. It is a true art, in that the longer you practice sincerely, the more you reveal your inner self and then are given the opportunity to improve it..."polishing the mirror" as the saying goes.

Quoting further...

"I am going on faith that there is a place where these two concepts can come together in peace, which also reminds me to hold faith that the world can. And maybe that's the real gift and truth of Aikido."

Couldn't have said it better myself, although, I think the longer you train in Aikido, the less you have to "go on faith" about it. The philososphy and ideals of "peaceful" or "non-damaging" resolution to conflict and the restoration of harmony are not only the ultimate goals, but are the very essence of its daily practice, and are manifested in every correct application of the techniques...through sincere practice under good instructors (you're at Boulder Aikikai, so no problem there...I envy you), this eventually becomes part of the personality of the practitioner. I've seen other threads on this forum dedicated to "what is it that makes Aikido different from other MA's?" or "is there anything unique in Aikido as opposed to other MA's?" and I think there is, at least in my experience. I don't know of another martial art where the ideals of "peaceful" or "non-damaging" resolution to conflict are not only the ultimate goal, but are the very essence of its daily practice. Of course Aikido techniques can be done with the goal being the devestation of your partner, and the techniques we do are derived from other MA's. There are also other MA's that are concerned with internal developement and spiritual advancement of its practitioners, just as Aikido is. But, the difference to me, is in the very process of how we choose to perform the physical movements and their application, and, most importantly to me, the fact we are able to make those choices in a very concrete sense. We don't just have to avoid conflict, we can choose to engage and embrace it, and change it for the better. We must interact with others and our environment, both in life and on the mat. Aikido is a great tool for learning how to do that, and not let go of our ideals in the process. Peace (both external and internal) cannot necessarily be achieved without confrontation and conflict...it is the process of, and the end product of, how the conflict is resolved that is important.

My two cents...great post BTW.

Happy and Safe Holidays,

Mike

Paula Lydon
12-24-2003, 04:05 PM
~~Ron T., I do plan on training off some of my holiday cheer Friday night; will keep an eye out for a fellow I don't know...yet :)

Thalib
12-24-2003, 04:17 PM
Suddenly I remember what I read on a bumper sticker:

Peace is my business

War is just a hobby

Michael Young
12-24-2003, 04:19 PM
OOps, Sorry I wrote Paul and Mr. Lyndon in my post...bad obsevation skills Ms. Lyndon, my apologies.

Mike

Paula Lydon
12-24-2003, 11:00 PM
~~No problem, Mike. Thanks for your thoughts

;)~~

Bronson
12-25-2003, 10:34 AM
OOps, Sorry I wrote Paul and Mr. Lyndon in my post...bad obsevation skills Ms. Lyndon, my apologies.
I'm sorry, it's just too ironic for me to let go. If you look you'll find you've added an extra "n" to Paula's last name :D

Happy Holidays

Bronson

Goetz Taubert
12-25-2003, 11:32 AM
Maybe this book may help a little bit:

AU: Blaize, Gérard

TI: Aikido. Des paroles et des écrits du fondateur à la practique

ISBN: 2-9508907-0-9

It's written in french and there is no translation.

There is a chapter about the descriptions of Ueshiba about aikido and his priciples of practice (so there you may find a little synthesis of philosphy and practise).

Another chapter deals with "chinkon kishin no hoo" as preparing exercises.

The third chapter deals with movements and the technical application (description and photograph).

Chad Sloman
12-25-2003, 02:20 PM
I often think about these things and especially when I train in different MA. When I try to explain to other martial artists about the philosophy behind aikido, I often get a pretty crazy look. But that's what makes aikido special, and also it's what makes an aikidokan special. Aikido requires a level of maturity that many other arts do not. You can look at it in the Judeo-Christian point of view as "love thine enemy" or in the Buddhist point of view of preventing suffering. Either way works for me. I believe that keeping a compassionate heart makes my life easier and more enriching. Maybe if I was a soldier I'd have a different perspective but as an every-day man, I don't have to kill or maim anybody. I can defend myself without going to that extreme, and at the same time bring forth order from chaos. I've also talked to others in my dojo about aikido techniques in the way of dealing with others. "Irimi" people are straigt forward and "lay it out" so that there isn't any confusion in communication. People will say "at least I know where I stand with JoeBob." "Tenkan" people let others take their emotions and ideas where they want but just manipulate them to their liking. "Tenkan" people accept others' communications and just redirect them. I know all of this sounds pretty crazy but I have a lot of time to think about it. I have an irimi personality, maybe too much sometimes, and I don't like to beat around the bush. If I have a problem with something, I'm straightforward about it. I feel like I can be like Mushashi and go straight for the jugular. But I'm also the first to admit my own mistakes. Anyways, which trait do y'all have?

Hanna B
12-25-2003, 02:45 PM
Aikido requires a level of maturity that many other arts do not. You can look at it in the Judeo-Christian point of view as "love thine enemy" or in the Buddhist point of view of preventing suffering. Either way works for me.
Umm... if, so what happens if the individual practitioner does not reach this level of maturity?

Chad Sloman
12-25-2003, 03:02 PM
If I may expound... I believe that it takes a mature person to respond to an attack in such a way that does not maim or kill an opponent. It would be easy to fall prey to emotions and do major damage to somebody if they meant to do you harm. But it is the difficult way to go to extra lengths to ensure that your attacker is not harmed. And if somebody practicing aikido does not have the level of maturity to understand this then it is very unfortunate for them. They are missing out on something very profound and great. This to me is a major difference between daito-ryu aikijutsu and aikido--the intent. When somebody throws me a left hook and I perform shihonage, do I break their arm at the elbow for trying to harm me or do I take the extra step to their rear and let them fall down? Violence begets violence. My attacker will understand that I can do him major harm but choose not to, and if he does not then he will be immobilized.

AsimHanif
12-26-2003, 04:59 PM
Hanna,

I have been thinking about Chad's line of thought and your questioning here. I think you bring up a valid point. But instead of using the word "maturity" suppose we use the phrase "different thought process"? After all, I don't think we as aikidoists would dare say that we are more mature or more enlightened than other martial artists. There are many qreat masters in many different MA's. Many other arts including karate, tai chi chuan, etc, are practiced by many devout Buddhists, Taoists, Christians, etc, all who love life. Chad so much as implied this in his reply refering to Buddhists and Judeo-Christian ethics.

A karate man might conclude that by "smashing" his enemy he is protecting life - his own as well as others.

The other aspect is this - although our intent may be to proctect all life including that of the attacker - when %$it hits the fan, you don't know how you will react. You can only hope to respond in a manner in which you have been trained.

So saying it takes a "mature individual" may be a misleading word to use. Disagreeing with the aikido philosophy does not imply immaturity. We all seek a path based on individualism. So the seeming paradox between aikido practice and philosophy is in the individuals "jihad" or internal war. I think if you focus on training it all works out in the end.

Hanna B
12-26-2003, 06:19 PM
Asim, I like your post.

AsimHanif
12-26-2003, 06:28 PM
Thx. I enjoy your comments as well.

Erik
12-26-2003, 07:33 PM
If I may expound... I believe that it takes a mature person to respond to an attack in such a way that does not maim or kill an opponent.
Would you say BJJ folks are more mature than anyone else? While they will break the occasional bone they have managed a lot of submissions in MMA competitions without maiming or killing.

And, be wary the Daito Ryu tact for aiki demons lie therein and all may not be as ye grand olde story tellers hath sayeth unto the world.

Chad Sloman
12-27-2003, 08:21 AM
I agree with Asim that "mature" may not be the correct word, perhaps "different mindset." I don't know what kind of philosophy is at the core of BJJ. The only BJJ I see is on tv in different MMA competitions which is not exactly applicable to aikido. The conflict of competition is different than the conflict of life and death. To me, the physical use of aikido in the real world will only be applicable in a life/death situation. In that somebody will have to be really committed to hurting me in order for me to engage them. And I couldn't have put it better than Asim to say that the aikido paradox is about the "greater jihad", not unlike Fudo Myo-o slaying the inner demons.

paw
12-27-2003, 06:45 PM
I don't know what kind of philosophy is at the core of BJJ.

I wouldn't say it's correct to subscribe to either bjj or aikido one and only one core philosophy. While one could take a broad enough statement that everyone would agree with say, "the peaceful resolution of conflict" as Asim pointed out the devil is in the details.
The only BJJ I see is on tv in different MMA competitions....

Full stop. Speculation about bjj based on seeing a bjj'er in MMA competion is about as accurate as speculating about aikido having only seen an aikido class bow in.

Regards,

Paul

L. Camejo
12-27-2003, 07:14 PM
It's like there's a schism, though, functional MA or philosophical study.

~~Training in Aikido to me is like trying to

understand a paradox.
Hi all,

Great posts on the topic so far. Personally though, I think the philosophy is integrated in the practice in most cases, at least in the places I've trained.

Functionality as a martial art or philosophy study depends on the individual's choice and focus in training. One can chose to learn to be primarily physically effective, but without understanding and applying the philosophy as well, the range of martial functionality in some situations may become limited.

In the same sense the philosophy student may be highly trained in that aspect, but unable to utilise the martial elements to manouver and apply the principles of the philosophy in a conflict/competitive setting, like a debate for example.

If philosophy and practicality are viewed as separate aspects of the training there will be a paradox. To me, one is mainly for the mind, one is mainly for the body - the human being is an amalgamation of both, so we need to train both equally and at the same time.

It's been always interesting to see the similarities in certain concepts quoted in the book "The Art of Peace" which is supposed to have some info about M. Ueshiba's idea of using combat concepts as a means of achieving peace, and other titles such as "The Book of Five Rings" and "The Art of War" which are based primarily on utiliarian act of winning at individual or mass combat.

Like attack and defence, I see no difference/conflict between martialiality and philosophy in Aikido training.

Just a few thoughts.

L.C.:ai::ki:

Hanna B
12-28-2003, 06:18 AM
This can surely be completely denied in Shotokai, the sad truth is that it is not possible to deny in general. There are actually many groups that do create aggressive, impulsive and dangerous people, but this can be traced to the fact that they have been guided by people of a low level of education or people that themselves were misguided by so-called "masters".

Why does Shotokai not create aggressive people? This could be due to the fact that the training objectives are never external (for example: "to win" or "beat" the opponent), rather they are internal: to search for self-excellence, to conquer and surpass your weaknesses, become a better human being, all other things can be judged secondary and even superficial if this is taken into consideration.

We all like to believe this about ourselves, don't we.

sanosuke
12-29-2003, 01:41 AM
I do still believe what Minoru Mochizuki said. "Too much karate will make you aggressive, too much judo will make you passive, too much aikido will make you arrogant."

L. Camejo
12-29-2003, 08:07 AM
the training objectives are never external (for example: "to win" or "beat" the opponent), rather they are internal: to search for self-excellence, to conquer and surpass your weaknesses, become a better human being, all other things can be judged secondary and even superficial if this is taken into consideration.
Sounds a bit similar to the following, taken from Sean Flynn of Berkeley Tomiki Aikido from this website -http://www.tomiki.org/rules.html
In a tournament, one is pitted against a smart, trained player who is not giving you an inch--who, in fact is doing his or her best to plunge a Styrofoam "knife" into your chest. It is full speed, and as close as one can safely get to combat. And, what gives it its ultimate value is that it forces one to make one's Aikido work: One has to apply techniques that subdue, but that do not injure the other player. One has to deal Justly, Kindly, Harmoniously, and in the True Spirit of Aikido--and do it under the harshest of circumstances. It is for that reason that shiai is valuable, for it is as much a test of spirit as of skill.

What is more, it constantly forces the player to deal with a poor mind set. For the temptation is always there in a tournament--as it is in life--to be fixated upon winning, upon the ego, upon petty and worthless thoughts. As one plays more and more Randori and Shiai, however, one learns to reject these illusions, to become one with the moment, and to enjoy and experience true Aiki.
I agree with Hanna that we may like to believe certain things about ourselves, especially the "more evolved" things:). Of course, for those of us who are not too delusional about what we would like to believe and what is the hard reality, there are ways to train the mind/body to achieve these levels, and I think when one embarks upon this type of training any gap between philosophy and martial effectiveness/application narrows or even disappears.

Going back to the initial focus of the thread and the quote by Sean Flynn above, it is often easy to put into practice the philosophy of harmony and love for our fellow person when they are also trying to maintain that harmony, especially in an artificial environment like the dojo. In the real world however, we tend to have to dig deeper to find that place where we can still maintain our "moral high ground" in the face of anger, resentment, disdain for our philosophy and beliefs and all out resistance to any sort of harmony or mutually beneficial exchange. In these cases the desire to "get dirty" and "hurt someone" may be strong. It is here that we see the level that our own training has reached, at the point where we are ready to abandon it for something that may appear to be easier or simply more ego gratifying. Whether the threat be physical or not, the philosophy/belief system (cause) is what determines the subsequent action (effect), which will determine whether we bash the person's brains in, control them with a technique or walk away.

Apologies for the length of the post all.

Hope this adds to the discussion.

L.C.:ai::ki:

Don_Modesto
12-29-2003, 03:20 PM
I do still believe what Minoru Mochizuki said. "Too much karate will make you aggressive, too much judo will make you passive, too much aikido will make you arrogant."
Huh! Interesting.

Where'd you see/hear this quotation?

Thanks.

sanosuke
12-29-2003, 08:00 PM
Huh! Interesting.

Where'd you see/hear this quotation?

Thanks.
my sensei said it, and if i'm not mistaken Mr. Peter Rehse have heard about this too. That quote actually comes from an interview with Patrick Auge sensei, the full sentence comes like this;
After judo practice, I was so drained physically and mentally that the only thing I wanted to do was eat and sleep. After karate practice, I felt washed out physically but aggressive mentally to the point that I had difficulty controlling my emotions, and would easily get involved in arguments. On the other hand, after aikido practice, I felt physically tired but comfortable. Mentally, I felt stimulated. I could have interesting conversations with other people; I could stay focused while writing or reading. One of my sempai (seniors) said once: "If you are not careful, judo will turn you into a stupid person, karate will turn you into a mean person and aikido will turn you into an arrogant person!"

no offence intended to all judoka, karateka, and aikidoka...:)

Don_Modesto
12-30-2003, 12:43 PM
my sensei said it, and if i'm not mistaken Mr. Peter Rehse have heard about this too. That quote actually comes from an interview with Patrick Auge sensei, the full sentence comes like this;
Interesting!

Thanks for taking time to upload it.

Anecdotally, I've noticed this with the higher level students at the JKA and those at the Ueshiba Honbu. There's a whole difference in demeanor. (But then, there's a difference in demeanor between JKA and Wado players and Ueshiba Honbu and Yoshinkan Honbu, too.)

'One of my sempai (seniors) said once: "If you are not careful, judo will turn you into a stupid person, karate will turn you into a mean person and aikido will turn you into an arrogant person!"'

In Japan, the judobu in high schools are thought to have "warm hearts", a Jpn euphemism for "stupid person," perhaps. My experience at a Jpn high school showed the expected range of brights in the judo demographic. I don't know how the researchers operationalized "warm heart", but some empirical results seem to support it. Relating Pyecha's research, Kim Taylor writes

"When the first Judo class was compared to 8 weeks of badminton and 8 weeks of handball, the Judo class showed a different set of personality changes. Judo I was higher than the controls on factor A. The Judo students were more sociable, good natured, easygoing, cooperative, attentive, softhearted, kindly, trustful, adaptable and warmhearted. A lower score on factor A implies a personality more aggressive, grasping, critical, obstructive, cool, aloof, hard, precise, suspicious, rigid and cold." @ (http://www.uoguelph.ca/~kataylor/mapsy2.htm)

(I know I'm taking this beyond the intent of the quote, but I'm personally interested in seeing whether the MAs' pretty hifalutin' claims are born out when submitted to rigors greater than those necessary to produce a dojo flyer. For a superb summary of pertinent research, see Brad Binder, 1999 @ http://userpages.chorus.net/wrassoc/articles/psychsoc.htm . )