PDA

View Full Version : Should we hang on to tradition?


Please visit our sponsor:
 

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!


darin
01-11-2001, 03:24 PM
Aikido has many Japanese customs and traditions such as bowing, use of Japanese language, religion and teacher/ancestor worship. Is it necessary to have these in schools outside of Japan?

After having lived in Japan for a few months, I found it rather interesting watching martial arts classes in my own country. I would see students and teachers going through their various ceremonies. Do they really understand what they are doing? It makes sense for Japanese people to do these things because it is a part of their culture but for people in other countries isn't it rather pointless?

My questions are, should aikido schools ouside of Japan hang on to Japanese traditions? Are these traditions really necessary in our society? If not, can aikido survive purely on technique only? If they are necessary, how do we ensure that they stay true to Japanese traditions? Do Japanese traditions get students side tracked from their actualy goal which is to learn aikido?

PRapoza
01-11-2001, 04:48 PM
Darin,
This is an excellent question and I am eager to hear what others have to say about it. I feel that customs and traditions themselves are empty. It is the feeling or spirit within the rituals that are of value. It is the intangibles in the rituals that give them life. It sounds as though you have experienced some people performing "empty ritual". Performing some custom or tradition just because it's what they think they are supposed to do, yet they put little of themselves into it. There is nothing wrong with customs, traditions or rituals but they only have life when we put ourselves into them. As far as specifics such as bowing. It is a sign of respect. This is necessary in learning aikido. The bowing itself is just an outward signal of this feeling. Somehow a handshake just doesn't seem to fit.
___________
Paul

Russ
01-11-2001, 05:00 PM
I think it is a good idea to hang on to the culturally specific etiquette of bowing and showing respect for your partner. That is self defense. I would agree that is seems pretentious to speak Japanese in a class that has no Japanese speakers in it, however, knowing such basic things as counting (in Japanese)and the Japanese names of techniques is essential if you plan on travelling and visiting other dojo. Religion and ancestor worship really have no place in a western dojo as they can get in the way of training. Although one may argue these things would get in the way of training in a Japanese dojo too, I have no cultural perspective on that so I won't comment.
In your last paragraph you ask questions that seem to separate aikido from Japanese culture/tradition. Are the two seperable? Is aikido just a series of techniques. Most would agree not I think. Aikido is undeniably intertwined with Japanese culture and (spiritual/esoteric?)thought. Before I completely lose my train of thought I'll wrap it up by saying, I remember Mary Heiny Sensei told us at a seminar that aikido is a set of spiritual principles embodied in martial technique. Thought of that way one can perhaps use Japanese tradition/culture to forward that concept.

Hmmmm.....

Sincerely;

Russ

darin
01-11-2001, 08:22 PM
PRapoza wrote:
Darin,
This is an excellent question and I am eager to hear what others have to say about it. I feel that customs and traditions themselves are empty. It is the feeling or spirit within the rituals that are of value. It is the intangibles in the rituals that give them life. It sounds as though you have experienced some people performing "empty ritual". Performing some custom or tradition just because it's what they think they are supposed to do, yet they put little of themselves into it. There is nothing wrong with customs, traditions or rituals but they only have life when we put ourselves into them. As far as specifics such as bowing. It is a sign of respect. This is necessary in learning aikido. The bowing itself is just an outward signal of this feeling. Somehow a handshake just doesn't seem to fit.
___________
Paul

Thanks Paul,

Yes I have seen many aikido schools where "empty rituals" are performed. In reality I guess all schools have "empty rituals" to some degree. Maybe the degree to how empty these rituals are depends on the persons performing them. Some may find them intriging while others may find them quite boring and aimless.

From a marketing point of view, I think the culture, customs, language etc is what gets people into martial arts. Westerners are crazy about Eastern religions, mysticisms, myths etc. Eg: people going to India to follow some guru.

What do you think about people getting worked up over O Sensei? I feel that western students spend too much time talking about his teachings etc. They refer to him like some kind of god. This is rather funny as in Japan he is just considered as a teacher by Japanese practicioners of aikido. Do you think we in the west are taking things too far and getting too caught up in things we don't really know about?

darin
01-11-2001, 08:39 PM
Russ wrote:
I think it is a good idea to hang on to the culturally specific etiquette of bowing and showing respect for your partner. That is self defense. I would agree that is seems pretentious to speak Japanese in a class that has no Japanese speakers in it, however, knowing such basic things as counting (in Japanese)and the Japanese names of techniques is essential if you plan on travelling and visiting other dojo. Religion and ancestor worship really have no place in a western dojo as they can get in the way of training. Although one may argue these things would get in the way of training in a Japanese dojo too, I have no cultural perspective on that so I won't comment.
In your last paragraph you ask questions that seem to separate aikido from Japanese culture/tradition. Are the two seperable? Is aikido just a series of techniques. Most would agree not I think. Aikido is undeniably intertwined with Japanese culture and (spiritual/esoteric?)thought. Before I completely lose my train of thought I'll wrap it up by saying, I remember Mary Heiny Sensei told us at a seminar that aikido is a set of spiritual principles embodied in martial technique. Thought of that way one can perhaps use Japanese tradition/culture to forward that concept.

Hmmmm.....

Sincerely;

Russ

Thanks Russ,

The reason aikido is "intertwined with Japanese Japanese culture and (spiritual/esoteric?)thought" is because it is Japanese. The customs in aikido can be found in almost every aspect of Japanese life. They were not put there on purpose by Ushiba but rather a product of his environment. They were the customs and tradition of his time.

Chocolateuke
01-11-2001, 10:45 PM
so should we still bow to O-sensi??

Axiom
01-11-2001, 11:12 PM
I've been thinking about this very subject lately, especially since I've stopped attending Aikido. You see, my dojo is in St. Paul, and I live in Minneapolis. In the summer, I can bicycle there(~4 miles, not too far), but it being winter, the commute by bus is nearly an hour. I also prefer not to wait in the cold.

So, in lieu of Aikido, I've taken up ballet. And I've noticed something- even in ballet, they bow. Its not the formal bow from seiza that we practice in Aikido. But nonetheless, it's a show of respect to the teacher and the other students. Also, since I no longer do Aikido, I somewhat miss the tradition of bowing in and out of class.

In all of this- the transition from one art to the next, and the different traditions has brought to light how much I enjoy the ritual of bowing out. It, like most things in aikido, is very egalitarian. Except for lining up by rank, everyone bows, especially the instructor. The instructor then bows to the class, thanking them, and in exchange they are thanking him. It is at this time that I feel I can really express the respect I have for someone who can instruct such a difficult subject as aikido. Also, there is a lot of bowing that I think is important- bowing when you select a partner(and bowing to them after class), bowing to sensei when they point something out, and bowing in and out of the dojo. All of these express respect and I think that a full bow is one of the best ways to express respect in the dojo. A simple "thank you" doesn't seem sufficiently.

On the language issue, I think that its useful to have a standardized language for an activity. Again, this is a parallel between Aikido and ballet- they both are taught in another language, even when there are no native speakers of teh language. It helps, because it doesn't matter if you're in America, Turkmenikstan(sp?), Belize, Nigeria, if you're at a dojo that teaches in japanese, you'll be able to understand what a "yokomenuchi-iriminage" is. This is very valuable for standardization, and makes Aikido much more international.

I think that both of these things- bowing and language, are an integral part of Aikido, at least for me. I like rolling new words around in my head, and I think that when someone deserves respect, a bow is one of the best ways to express it(I find myself almost bowing to my teachers when they point something out especially interesting in school).

Anyway, my $.02. I woud comment on spirituality, but I don't think I've done aikido long enough to have learned terribly much about that(And my dojo doesn't really emphasize it)
Alexander Magidow
6 month Aikidoka with 2 classes of ballet, and a hard decision to make come summer.

darin
01-11-2001, 11:36 PM
Chocolateuke wrote:
so should we still bow to O-sensi??
Well, do you worship him? Do you think of him as some kind of deity?

I am just wondering if aikidoka really understand what they are doing and why they are doing it.

darin
01-12-2001, 12:08 AM
Axiom wrote:
I've been thinking about this very subject lately, especially since I've stopped attending Aikido. You see, my dojo is in St. Paul, and I live in Minneapolis. In the summer, I can bicycle there(~4 miles, not too far), but it being winter, the commute by bus is nearly an hour. I also prefer not to wait in the cold.

So, in lieu of Aikido, I've taken up ballet. And I've noticed something- even in ballet, they bow. Its not the formal bow from seiza that we practice in Aikido. But nonetheless, it's a show of respect to the teacher and the other students. Also, since I no longer do Aikido, I somewhat miss the tradition of bowing in and out of class.

In all of this- the transition from one art to the next, and the different traditions has brought to light how much I enjoy the ritual of bowing out. It, like most things in aikido, is very egalitarian. Except for lining up by rank, everyone bows, especially the instructor. The instructor then bows to the class, thanking them, and in exchange they are thanking him. It is at this time that I feel I can really express the respect I have for someone who can instruct such a difficult subject as aikido. Also, there is a lot of bowing that I think is important- bowing when you select a partner(and bowing to them after class), bowing to sensei when they point something out, and bowing in and out of the dojo. All of these express respect and I think that a full bow is one of the best ways to express respect in the dojo. A simple "thank you" doesn't seem sufficiently.

On the language issue, I think that its useful to have a standardized language for an activity. Again, this is a parallel between Aikido and ballet- they both are taught in another language, even when there are no native speakers of teh language. It helps, because it doesn't matter if you're in America, Turkmenikstan(sp?), Belize, Nigeria, if you're at a dojo that teaches in japanese, you'll be able to understand what a "yokomenuchi-iriminage" is. This is very valuable for standardization, and makes Aikido much more international.

I think that both of these things- bowing and language, are an integral part of Aikido, at least for me. I like rolling new words around in my head, and I think that when someone deserves respect, a bow is one of the best ways to express it(I find myself almost bowing to my teachers when they point something out especially interesting in school).

Anyway, my $.02. I woud comment on spirituality, but I don't think I've done aikido long enough to have learned terribly much about that(And my dojo doesn't really emphasize it)
Alexander Magidow
6 month Aikidoka with 2 classes of ballet, and a hard decision to make come summer.


The bowing in aikido and ballet is there because of tradition and culture.
But the same can be said for pomp and ceremony in military, educational institutions and religions. Why? because it teaches people humility, discipline, and respect to others.

I have been doing aikido for almost 10 years. I personally hate it when students bow to me as I don't consider myself better than them. A simple thank you is enough for me. I have never been in it for any butt kissing.

Regarding language, you did make a good point about standardization. But in reality many aikido schools have their own Japanese terms for each techniques. Without understanding Japanese, western students learn the names but don't know what they really mean.

Erik
01-12-2001, 02:24 AM
Think about it another way. Do you bow to your tennis instructor? Did you bow when you went to school? Do you bow when you step on the tennis court? Do you bow to your tennis instructor when he/she makes a suggestion? Sounds ridiculous in that context doesn't it?

But is it any different?

My questions are, should aikido schools ouside of Japan hang on to Japanese traditions? Are these traditions really necessary in our society? If not, can aikido survive purely on technique only? If they are necessary, how do we ensure that they stay true to Japanese traditions? Do Japanese traditions get students side tracked from their actualy goal which is to learn aikido

Aikido cannot survive solely on technique in my opinion. However, it can survive with it's spiritual component and the physical component. Aikido movements are not unique. What is unique, is the spiritual aspect combined with the technique. That needs to remain. Since the Japanese have proven themselves every bit as flawed as us degenerates in the West I don't see that part contributing anything special to the process. It can stay or go, doesn't matter to me.

akiy
01-12-2001, 09:22 AM
darin wrote:
Chocolateuke wrote:
so should we still bow to O-sensi??
Well, do you worship him? Do you think of him as some kind of deity?

I am just wondering if aikidoka really understand what they are doing and why they are doing it.
Inasmuch as I've understood it, bowing is not religious in nature. Its origin for the Japanese culture stems from budo and the inherent trust one would give in symbolically offering one's head and neck to the other party.

My feeling is that just because you're bowing towards someone doesn't mean you're worshipping nor deifying him or her...

-- Jun

darin
01-12-2001, 09:43 AM
Erik wrote:
Think about it another way. Do you bow to your tennis instructor? Did you bow when you went to school? Do you bow when you step on the tennis court? Do you bow to your tennis instructor when he/she makes a suggestion? Sounds ridiculous in that context doesn't it?

But is it any different?

My questions are, should aikido schools ouside of Japan hang on to Japanese traditions? Are these traditions really necessary in our society? If not, can aikido survive purely on technique only? If they are necessary, how do we ensure that they stay true to Japanese traditions? Do Japanese traditions get students side tracked from their actualy goal which is to learn aikido

Aikido cannot survive solely on technique in my opinion. However, it can survive with it's spiritual component and the physical component. Aikido movements are not unique. What is unique, is the spiritual aspect combined with the technique. That needs to remain. Since the Japanese have proven themselves every bit as flawed as us degenerates in the West I don't see that part contributing anything special to the process. It can stay or go, doesn't matter to me.

Is aikido spiritual? In what ways is it spiritual? Does your spiritualism refer to the good feelings you get out of practice and interacting with others? These feelings can also be found in sports and other social activities.

Is it possible to define spiritualism in aikido? Japanese spiritualism is not really spiritualism but rather creating a certain type of mental state that is supposed to make one a better person. There is a big difference between "zanshin" and "having a good time".

By the way, aikido movements are unique with or without spiritualism.

Aikidoka2000
01-12-2001, 10:20 AM
Aikido is an art developed in Japan by a Japanese person.
If we honor the art itself, so should we honor the traditions and values that it
encompasses.
On why we bow:
Bowing is the expression not only of respect, but teaches us to acknowledge one
another with compassion.
When you learn something that brings value to your life, or if someone has
facilitated your learning by assisting you in practice, certainly the correct thing to
do is to appreciate such a precious gift. We show our appreciation by bowing,
which clearly on many levels is the physical manifestation of appreciation,
humility, and as such respect.
Perhaps needless to say, a bow done without the thought or intent behind
it adds nothing. and is nothing other than the action itself.
Traditional and contemporary Japanese society is filled with other such complex
actions that are also set to express similar issues.
However, the tradition of bowing is not uniquely Japanese. There is without a
doubt, an existence of bowing to show appreciation or respect at one time or
another in almost every culture that has existed.

**The following is From Sensei Fred Philips**
http://omlc.ogi.edu/aikido/talk/phillips/etiquette.html
Any instructor will tell you that the martial arts begin and end with courtesy. Why is this?
One reason for rules of etiquette is that aikido has no rules! Its techniques are based on fundamental principles. But in action, the principles are
combined without pattern, premeditation, or rules. This requires great concentration! Behavior not directly related to waza (like how we enter the
mat, or ask the instructor for help) is standardized so that our fellow students are not distracted from what is really important in the training.

A greater reason is that courtesy is the outward form of respect, and we hope to develop respect for our partners in practice. When we respect
someone, we pay attention to his needs and wants, so that we can harmonize with them. Have you heard the phrase "to know her is to love her"?
By paying attention and knowing our partner, we learn compassion - and, if we are lucky, the universal love that is at the heart of aikido. We can't
see or enforce respect and love, but we can and do enforce courtesy in the dojo. Fred Phillips, dojocho

darin
01-12-2001, 10:29 AM
akiy wrote:
darin wrote:
Chocolateuke wrote:
so should we still bow to O-sensi??
Well, do you worship him? Do you think of him as some kind of deity?

I am just wondering if aikidoka really understand what they are doing and why they are doing it.
Inasmuch as I've understood it, bowing is not religious in nature. Its origin for the Japanese culture stems from budo and the inherent trust one would give in symbolically offering one's head and neck to the other party.

My feeling is that just because you're bowing towards someone doesn't mean you're worshipping nor deifying him or her...

-- Jun

I am not sure if bowing stems from budo but I will try to find out. I always believed that bowing is an emphasized lowering of the eyes as a symbol of respect meaning that I am not worthy or afraid of looking at you. Its probably the oldest gesture around. I asume that Japanese didn't invent it for their culture but was just something that came along with Chinese and Korean influences.

Yes bowing to a person doesn't have to mean an act of worship. In Japanese culture its a natural way of showing respect. But in Japanese culture, the bowing to kamiza, pictures of the dead, shrines, temples etc is a form of worship. My question is, is it necessary in aikido? I think most people do it because everyone else is doing it.

Matt Banks
01-12-2001, 11:05 AM
I would like to say Aikido is not a religion in any way. So what you said was incorrect. Osensei himself said in his autobiography 'abundant peace' , that Aikido is not a religion what is more, he specifically intended for there to be no conflict between aikido and any other religions.

this fact I thought was well known.





Matt Banks

Syniq
01-12-2001, 11:12 AM
We're discussing here two things--the use of Japanese tradition and language in Aikido classes outside of Japan and spirituality in Aikido classes.

I'll take the second part first. It seems to me that spirituality in Aikido is no different from spirituality in any other activity--be it Christmas, church, meditation or even dinner. One cannot (as in, "It is impossible to") force spirituality on another. Isn't that what Charlie Brown learned about Christmas? Yes, it's commercialized, but yelling about commercialization will not make the holiday more spiritual for others--or even yourself. Spirituality is something (I believe) that grows from the activity. Two people may drink the same cup of tea, but it could mean something entirely different to each. Two people may take the same Aikido class, but come away with seperate ideas. All a teacher can ever do is offer the information; it is the student's choice to assimilate the information into themselves and their world view.

Consider, for instance, the drilling of Bible verses praticed by some religions. Does memorizing passages, or even the whole Bible, teach one to be more religious? I wouldn't think so. It teaches one the verses of the Bible. It is hoped that this memorization will lead to contemplation and a deeper understanding, but the teacher has no control of this. It is up to the student to contemplate. Whether or not this contemplation and consideration leads to anything is an entirely personal experience.

There are certain ideas, tied to spirituality, that are inseperable from technique. As Aikido does not comprise an array of striking moves, it will, first, teach the student to deal with conflict in a less forceful manner (not to say that one cannot be forceful in Aikido; simply that it is less likely than, say, Muay Thai). Second, I think that the majority of moves are based on an initial attack by an opponent. As such, it teaches the Aikidoka to wait for "them" to make the first move. These facets, while not themselves spiritual, tend to conform to what many Westerners consider a "religious" or "spiritual" path: turn the other cheek, meekness and compassion.

However, the firm conviction that "Ki" is an ether-like material, surrounding and permeating all substances, is not necessary to make the moves "work" (See "Tekken: The Movie"--an instance (granted, an animated one) in which one must believe in "Tekken" to make the moves "work"...anyway...). If one adopts this view (that of Ki surrounding us) things may be easier, or the ideas may make more sense, but it is not absolutely necessary in the way that ukemi is. Is this making sense so far? Hang in there...

Okay...now--language and tradition. As others have said, the language that describes Aikido is Japanese, because the man who created Aikido was Japanese. As such, there are certain words that are necessary, from a purely linguistic stance, as they describe things for which no suitable substitute exists in English. "Morote dori" sounds a lot better--and is a more efficient name--than the English equivelent : Two hands grabbing one hand/wrist. As such, it makes sense to use the Japanese words describing techniques. Counting in Japanese, however, strikes me as a little silly, particularly if no one in class speaks Japanese.

To say that it is "tradition" that it be done a certain way brings two things to mind: 1) This (http://www.aikiweb.com/humor/baker1.html) article, and Linux. No, I have not just gone off my rocker. Consider, however, the state of the (geek)world if Linux, created by Linus Torvalds, were only described in his native language (Finnish?). Eek. Or if physics were largely described in German.

Now, certain arts carry over words from other languages, for the reasons I described above--they give us a term for a behavior that does not yet exist in English. There are many unique cooking terms in French; many of the terms for Flemenco guitar are in Spanish; many writing terms are in French and German. But again, only because they serve a purpose.

Whew!

I don't think that bowing to a picture of O Sensei makes any more sense (or shows any more respect) than bowing to a picture of Charles Babbage when we use an ATM, or to a picture of Einstein when we use our microwave ovens. There are other ways to show respect that make more sense in the West. For me, the way to show that respect is to be respectful within one's mind and heart, just as one shows respect for one's parents without bowing to them every time they enter the room.

I am not saying that bowing should be completely removed. The dojo which I attend is very relaxed, and I still find it a little strange to not bow every two minutes. However, when I do bow, the respect is accepted. If, at some moment I don't bow, the respect is understood because I am paying attention, asking questions respectfully, and doing as I am told--because that is how I was taught to show respect.

If anything above makes anyone angry (by it's tone, for instance) please know that I did not mean to offend. Please take every comment in the best possible way. Thank you for your time.

Sorry about the novel, but I am a novelist. ;o)

Cody

Russ
01-12-2001, 11:26 AM
darin wrote:


Yes bowing to a person doesn't have to mean an act of worship. In Japanese culture its a natural way of showing respect. But in Japanese culture, the bowing to kamiza, pictures of the dead, shrines, temples etc is a form of worship. My question is, is it necessary in aikido? I think most people do it because everyone else is doing it.

[/B]

I don't beleive you are necessarily correct when you say bowing to the kamiza, pics of the dead (I assume O'sensei), shrines, temples etc is a form of worship. Any Japanese person I've talked to about this seems to think it (bowing) is about respect and gratitude.

Maybe, Darin, the question is "Is it necessary for YOUR aikido?"

I know that proper etiquette, including bowing, is intergal to my aikido and the way I want practise.

In the end, aikido is a method, is it not? To me, a method to strip away ones ego so I can see clearly. Respect and gratitude, whether it be to my partner or the memory of O'sensei, is part of that method.

Sincerely;

Russ

darin
01-12-2001, 11:53 AM
Matt Banks wrote:
I would like to say Aikido is not a religion in any way. So what you said was incorrect. Osensei himself said in his autobiography 'abundant peace' , that Aikido is not a religion what is more, he specifically intended for there to be no conflict between aikido and any other religions.

this fact I thought was well known.





Matt Banks

Matt, have you been to Japan?

Despite what O Sensei may have said, Aikido is heavily influenced by Japanese religions. O Sensei himself was supposedly a religious fanatic! Do you think he would have allowed foreign student to put Jewish, Christian, Moslem or Hari Krishna objects in the kamiza or around the dojo?

Also todays Japanese teachers are still shinto and budhist. In Japan martial arts training is often conducted in temples and shrines. Even in the dojo there are still Japanese religious rituals which would definately clash with other religions.

From my understanding of the Japanese culture and what I have read about O Sensei, I doubt he would allow aikido to change to suit other religions. He was very strict on tradition, dojo ettiquite and rules.

What I was saying was, is it necessary to keep the Japanese religious element in schools outside of Japan as most non Japanese don't understand them. Actually many Japanese don't understand them either.

darin
01-12-2001, 12:42 PM
Russ wrote:
darin wrote:


Yes bowing to a person doesn't have to mean an act of worship. In Japanese culture its a natural way of showing respect. But in Japanese culture, the bowing to kamiza, pictures of the dead, shrines, temples etc is a form of worship. My question is, is it necessary in aikido? I think most people do it because everyone else is doing it.



I don't beleive you are necessarily correct when you say bowing to the kamiza, pics of the dead (I assume O'sensei), shrines, temples etc is a form of worship. Any Japanese person I've talked to about this seems to think it (bowing) is about respect and gratitude.

Maybe, Darin, the question is "Is it necessary for YOUR aikido?"

I know that proper etiquette, including bowing, is intergal to my aikido and the way I want practise.

In the end, aikido is a method, is it not? To me, a method to strip away ones ego so I can see clearly. Respect and gratitude, whether it be to my partner or the memory of O'sensei, is part of that method.

Sincerely;

Russ

[/B]

Hi Russ,

Ask your Japanese friends the real reason behind bowing to kamiza, pictures of ancestors, shrines and temples. Ask them why they throw money to the gods and wash their hands with the water in temples. Why school students write their names on small wooden blocks to be hung in temples. Why do they have all those festivals? It all comes down to religion.

Yes it is a gesture of respect but originally it would have been a kind of prayer. These days Japanese people do most religious activities out of tradition, custom and superstition.

Is it necessary for my aikido? The answer is no. I respect Japan, its culture etc but I am not Japanese. Even though I have been there many times and speak the language I feel that outside of Japan it is not necessary to be Japanese.

But from my experience western students learn aikido much faster and are less confused when they are tought in an environment free of all the ettiquite and customs.

I have been doing aikido for almost 10 years and have the rank of third dan. I was personally tought by a Japanese teacher so I have experienced the traditional way.

But hey, thats just my oppinion. I am not trying to tell anyone what to do.

Russ
01-12-2001, 01:28 PM
darin wrote:

But from my experience western students learn aikido much faster and are less confused when they are tought in an environment free of all the ettiquite and customs.

[/B]

Okay, I give due respect to your experience and perspective. I only have one last comment or question.

In the above quote you mention an environment "free of all the etiquette and customs." To me, as I mentioned in an earlier response, etiquette IS self defense. Showing proper respect, which I think is easiest done through the "traditional" etiquette found (generally) in the practise of aikido, is an efficient way of saying "I respect you, I thank you and I will do my best to not injure you during training together, please do the same for me.".

(Katsuyuki Kondo explains this concept well in an article written by Stan Pranin. Might be on his website, not sure.)

I'll assume that you mean western students learn faster in an environment free from culturally (Japanese) specific etiquette and customs rather than free of those concepts altogether.

Sincerely;

Russ

Magma
01-12-2001, 04:08 PM
Erik wrote:
Think about it another way. Do you bow to your tennis instructor? Did you bow when you went to school? Do you bow when you step on the tennis court? Do you bow to your tennis instructor when he/she makes a suggestion? Sounds ridiculous in that context doesn't it?

But is it any different?

My answer is, "Oh, my, yes!" I don't practice tennis-do. Nor did it seek to improve me as a person. To quote Seagal Sensei's video "Path Beyond Thought," the Japanese have a saying, "The development of the spiritual man and the physical man must happen together." Technique alone will only affect the latter. Humility, engendered by thoughtful performance of ritual and respect for those that went before - both teacher and student - is the first step to courtesy and the development of what may be called the "spiritual" man.

Erik
01-12-2001, 04:42 PM
darin wrote:
Is aikido spiritual? In what ways is it spiritual? Does your spiritualism refer to the good feelings you get out of practice and interacting with others? These feelings can also be found in sports and other social activities.


I won't argue this at all because in theory it could be accurate. There's no reason any other activity can't be used in the same way but interestingly no one talks about flow, blending or harmony in any of the other activities I've done. For me, aikido is an environment that provides me the opportunity to dig into and learn about myself. It's not unique to Aikido and could be found anywhere but usually isn't.

The closest I've come to this would be the inner game of golf or tennis by Michael Galloway.


By the way, aikido movements are unique with or without spiritualism.

You need to get out more. Our technical repetoire is far from unique, although it has it's moments. What is unique is the emphasis.

bones
01-12-2001, 06:15 PM
Is aikido just a set of techniques? The 'do' on the end says no.

This particular way in which practicing an art becomes a discipline for life is uniquely japanese. I would argue that practices such as bowing (as well described by Aikidoka2000 on the first page) are part of the greater discipline, conditioning the mind. Of course, just going through the motions accomplishes nothing. Notice I describe bowing as 'practice' not just an 'action'. Is this religous or an act of worship? I would say no.

The question of language is a little more interesting. First of all, I see no good reason why the 'technical' language need be translated into one's native language. Beyond that, some of the terms, 'zanshin' being a good example, would lose a lot of meaning if translated. While counting in japanese may not be necessary, i see no harm in it. Some may say it adds to the atmosphere, since it is after all a japanese art. Would you try practicing shodo (calligraphy) writing in the roman alphabet?

I think to really experience the 'do' part of Aikido one must to some extent have an understanding or 'feel' for japanese culture and the japanese way of doing things. Part of that way is respecting the history of the art. O-sensei did say 'Aikido is for everyone', and I think as long as it is earnestly practiced religion is not an issue.

[Edited by bones on January 12, 2001 at 05:18pm]

darin
01-14-2001, 01:25 AM
Erik wrote:
darin wrote:
Is aikido spiritual? In what ways is it spiritual? Does your spiritualism refer to the good feelings you get out of practice and interacting with others? These feelings can also be found in sports and other social activities.


I won't argue this at all because in theory it could be accurate. There's no reason any other activity can't be used in the same way but interestingly no one talks about flow, blending or harmony in any of the other activities I've done. For me, aikido is an environment that provides me the opportunity to dig into and learn about myself. It's not unique to Aikido and could be found anywhere but usually isn't.

The closest I've come to this would be the inner game of golf or tennis by Michael Galloway.


By the way, aikido movements are unique with or without spiritualism.

You need to get out more. Our technical repetoire is far from unique, although it has it's moments. What is unique is the emphasis.

I have been out long enough. I have done almost 10 years of Yoseikan (3rd dan), some classes in Tomiki, Yoshinkan and Aikikai as well as jujitsu, iaijutsu and kobudo. I have also run my own school.

I have been to Japan, trained in classes there, as well as met and talked to various Japanese teachers including Minoru Mochizuki and a former no. 2 of the Kyokushinkai.

Aikido is unique. No other martial art has the same training routines and syllabus of techniques. Some schools may have adopted some aikido techniques but those schools are not aikido. Even in aikido its possible to differentiate between Yoshinkan, Tomiki, Yoseikan and Aikikai. Actually this can be said for almost all martial arts systems.

The spiritualism in aikido is found in all aspects of Japanese society, arts, and traditions. Ask any Japanese martial artist, regardless of any style or art they do, why they train? They will answer "Seishin no tame ni" which basically means "to improve my spirit".
Flow, blending, and harmony? These are in all martial arts. Have you heard of timing, distance and execution? Punches, kicks, takedowns, pins and chokes all require flow, blending and harmony just like in aikido. Its only narrow minded western instructors who have read too many books that say their art is unique to only these three elements.

You should know that to most Japanese people, aikido is the same as karate, judo and kendo. Even my Japanese teacher says that the only difference is in the techniques.

You have used your martial art to dig in and learn about yourself. I won't argue with you here as I did the same. But so did people in karate, kung fu, tae kwon do etc. I suppose the question is did everyone get the same answers...

Cheers

Darin

crystalwizard
01-14-2001, 11:54 AM
so should we still bow to O-sensi??

Well, do you worship him? Do you think of him as some kind of deity?
I am just wondering if aikidoka really understand what they are doing and why they are doing it.[/B]

akiy worte:
Inasmuch as I've understood it, bowing is not religious in nature. Its origin for the Japanese culture stems from budo and the inherent trust one would give in symbolically offering one's head and neck to the other party.

My feeling is that just because you're bowing towards someone doesn't mean you're worshipping nor deifying him or her...

-- Jun [/B]

For those that would like to do a little reading, about.com has an EXCELLENT set of guides on japan. The language, culture and so on
Easiest way to find them is just go to about.com and click on J on the alphabet line

The section on culture, subsection bowing states:

BOWING

Bowing represents humility. You elevate, honour, and respect the
other person by humbling yourself or lowering yourself. The
lower you bow, the more you are honouring or respecting the
other party. As a Westerner, you are not expected to initiate a
bow, but a bow should always be returned (except from personnel
at department stores and restaurants who bow to welcome you,
and to whom you can nod in return if you like). To not bow in
return is similar to refusing a hand shake.

The person of lower status usually initiates the bow, bows the
lowest, and is the last one to rise. The most frequent bow is a
rather informal bow of about 15 degrees and is held for one or two
seconds. A deeper bow is used for a superior or for a formal
occasion such as a first meeting. It is usually about 30 degrees
and is held for about three seconds. Men usually leave their
hands at their sides while bowing, but women usually place them
together on their thighs with their fingertips overlapping or
touching. Heels should be together. If you rise from your bow and the other person hasn't risen yet, you should bow again. On
most occasions, especially when saying good-bye, there are
several bows by all parties.

USES OF THE BOW

FOR GREETINGS
AND PARTINGS
introductions
welcoming
acknowledgment of another's
presence (even across the room)
gaining attention
FOR SINCERITY
offering assistance, food,
presents, etc.
showing gratitude
congratulating
sympathy
FOR HUMILITY
requests
apology
respect
FOR CEREMONY
TO ACKNOWLEDGE OR
SHOW AGREEMENT


THE HAND SHAKE

Hand shaking is definitely a Western custom. Generally, the
Japanese are uncomfortable with any physical forms of contact,
however, they have become accustomed to this Western tradition
and often shake hands to promote good relations. You should
not judge the kind of hand shake a Japanese person returns nor
should you be too aggressive or excited shaking the hand of a
Japanese person.


====
The site has much much much more, quite indepth and informative for any who might be interested

darin
01-14-2001, 02:25 PM
crystalwizard wrote:
so should we still bow to O-sensi??

Well, do you worship him? Do you think of him as some kind of deity?
I am just wondering if aikidoka really understand what they are doing and why they are doing it.

akiy worte:
Inasmuch as I've understood it, bowing is not religious in nature. Its origin for the Japanese culture stems from budo and the inherent trust one would give in symbolically offering one's head and neck to the other party.

My feeling is that just because you're bowing towards someone doesn't mean you're worshipping nor deifying him or her...

-- Jun [/B]

For those that would like to do a little reading, about.com has an EXCELLENT set of guides on japan. The language, culture and so on
Easiest way to find them is just go to about.com and click on J on the alphabet line

The section on culture, subsection bowing states:

BOWING

Bowing represents humility. You elevate, honour, and respect the
other person by humbling yourself or lowering yourself. The
lower you bow, the more you are honouring or respecting the
other party. As a Westerner, you are not expected to initiate a
bow, but a bow should always be returned (except from personnel
at department stores and restaurants who bow to welcome you,
and to whom you can nod in return if you like). To not bow in
return is similar to refusing a hand shake.

The person of lower status usually initiates the bow, bows the
lowest, and is the last one to rise. The most frequent bow is a
rather informal bow of about 15 degrees and is held for one or two
seconds. A deeper bow is used for a superior or for a formal
occasion such as a first meeting. It is usually about 30 degrees
and is held for about three seconds. Men usually leave their
hands at their sides while bowing, but women usually place them
together on their thighs with their fingertips overlapping or
touching. Heels should be together. If you rise from your bow and the other person hasn't risen yet, you should bow again. On
most occasions, especially when saying good-bye, there are
several bows by all parties.

USES OF THE BOW

FOR GREETINGS
AND PARTINGS
introductions
welcoming
acknowledgment of another's
presence (even across the room)
gaining attention
FOR SINCERITY
offering assistance, food,
presents, etc.
showing gratitude
congratulating
sympathy
FOR HUMILITY
requests
apology
respect
FOR CEREMONY
TO ACKNOWLEDGE OR
SHOW AGREEMENT


THE HAND SHAKE

Hand shaking is definitely a Western custom. Generally, the
Japanese are uncomfortable with any physical forms of contact,
however, they have become accustomed to this Western tradition
and often shake hands to promote good relations. You should
not judge the kind of hand shake a Japanese person returns nor
should you be too aggressive or excited shaking the hand of a
Japanese person.


====
The site has much much much more, quite indepth and informative for any who might be interested [/B]

That website's description of bowing kind of reminds me of Sean Connery's speach about Japanese customs to Wesley Snipes in Rising Sun. hehehe

I sometimes think bowing is an art form in itself. Knowing how to bow, who to bow to, the different kind of bows, and when to bow really only come with the total Japanese experience. What I mean is that in order to perform bowing correctly you have to have a very good understanding of the culture. In theory it is not something you think "how deep should I bow..." it is a natural expression that compliments forms of communication. Have you ever seen Japanese people bow when they are talking to someone on the phone?

Interestingly, not all Japanese know how to bow "properly". Most are tought how to bow, serve tea and even talk correctly when they join a company.

So this brings me back to my question, are Japanese customs such as bowing necessary for aikido outside of Japan if we don't fully understand and perform them properly? I feel that if western schools are going to keep the language, bowing etc they should fully educate their students so they can understand what they are doing and perform everything correctly. I wonder if there are any teachers out there who are capable of doing this...

Erik
01-14-2001, 03:31 PM
darin wrote:
Aikido is unique. No other martial art has the same training routines and syllabus of techniques. Some schools may have adopted some aikido techniques but those schools are not aikido. Even in aikido its possible to differentiate between Yoshinkan, Tomiki, Yoseikan and Aikikai. Actually this can be said for almost all martial arts systems.

You are right, there can be big differences in my opinion. I was recently in an Iwama dojo and the instructor wasn't Iwama style. Most of the students (at least 2 sandans) struggled with what I considered fairly basic movement. I actually found myself wondering how they spent their time. Clearly, their day-to-day practice was significantly different than mine. Given the technical differences in that environment and based upon the idea that Aikido is a unique structure and syllabus either they don't do Aikido or I don't do Aikido, if I understand your argument correctly. I can guarantee I've spent my time in the art doing different things than they have. Not better, just different.

The spiritualism in aikido is found in all aspects of Japanese society, arts, and traditions. Ask any Japanese martial artist, regardless of any style or art they do, why they train? They will answer "Seishin no tame ni" which basically means "to improve my spirit".

Really! None of them would respond by saying "because I was picked on and didn't like it", "because I'm fat and want to lose weight", "that I enjoy the people or movements" or "my father signed me up." They are all out forging their spirit? We really are decadent over here.

Flow, blending, and harmony? These are in all martial arts. Have you heard of timing, distance and execution? Punches, kicks, takedowns, pins and chokes all require flow, blending and harmony just like in aikido. It's only narrow minded western instructors who have read too many books that say their art is unique to only these three elements.

Virtually all physical practices involve some component of flow, blending and harmony. Even offensive linemen in football will blend and flow with their opponents. But there's a difference between pancaking a linebacker because you were in the zone and what we do when we are in the zone. Guess you could argue that's a technical thing though.

You should know that to most Japanese people, aikido is the same as karate, judo and kendo. Even my Japanese teacher says that the only difference is in the techniques.

I figured they worshipped the ground we walked upon. Such a bummer that the typical Japanese doesn't have a clue about the martial arts. Just like here. Oh, you probably meant something else.;)

You have used your martial art to dig in and learn about yourself. I won't argue with you here as I did the same. But so did people in karate, kung fu, tae kwon do etc. I suppose the question is did everyone get the same answers...

Absolutely, why is it different, or is it different? By the way, this must be a mid-aikido-life crises thing. I've been pondering these same questions for some time.

[Edited by Erik on January 14, 2001 at 06:24pm]

JO
01-14-2001, 06:48 PM
For a little education on etiquette and bowing, check out Etiquette and transmission, Chap. 3. By N. Tamura sensei at
http://www.aikidoonline.com/

[Edited by JO on January 14, 2001 at 05:53pm]

darin
01-14-2001, 08:48 PM
Erik wrote:
darin wrote:
Aikido is unique. No other martial art has the same training routines and syllabus of techniques. Some schools may have adopted some aikido techniques but those schools are not aikido. Even in aikido its possible to differentiate between Yoshinkan, Tomiki, Yoseikan and Aikikai. Actually this can be said for almost all martial arts systems.

You are right, there can be big differences in my opinion. I was recently in an Iwama dojo and the instructor wasn't Iwama style. Most of the students (at least 2 sandans) struggled with what I considered fairly basic movement. I actually found myself wondering how they spent their time. Clearly, their day-to-day practice was significantly different than mine. Given the technical differences in that environment and based upon the idea that Aikido is a unique structure and syllabus either they don't do Aikido or I don't do Aikido, if I understand your argument correctly. I can guarantee I've spent my time in the art doing different things than they have. Not better, just different.

The spiritualism in aikido is found in all aspects of Japanese society, arts, and traditions. Ask any Japanese martial artist, regardless of any style or art they do, why they train? They will answer "Seishin no tame ni" which basically means "to improve my spirit".

Really! None of them would respond by saying "because I was picked on and didn't like it", "because I'm fat and want to lose weight", "that I enjoy the people or movements" or "my father signed me up." They are all out forging their spirit? We really are decadent over here.

Flow, blending, and harmony? These are in all martial arts. Have you heard of timing, distance and execution? Punches, kicks, takedowns, pins and chokes all require flow, blending and harmony just like in aikido. It's only narrow minded western instructors who have read too many books that say their art is unique to only these three elements.

Virtually all physical practices involve some component of flow, blending and harmony. Even offensive linemen in football will blend and flow with their opponents. But there's a difference between pancaking a linebacker because you were in the zone and what we do when we are in the zone. Guess you could argue that's a technical thing though.

You should know that to most Japanese people, aikido is the same as karate, judo and kendo. Even my Japanese teacher says that the only difference is in the techniques.

I figured they worshipped the ground we walked upon. Such a bummer that the typical Japanese doesn't have a clue about the martial arts. Just like here. Oh, you probably meant something else.;)

You have used your martial art to dig in and learn about yourself. I won't argue with you here as I did the same. But so did people in karate, kung fu, tae kwon do etc. I suppose the question is did everyone get the same answers...

Absolutely, why is it different, or is it different? By the way, this must be a mid-aikido-life crises thing. I've been pondering these same questions for some time.

[Edited by Erik on January 14, 2001 at 06:24pm]

I don't know if it is a mid-aikido-life crisis thing hehehehe. I think I was just bored one night and decided to start a forum.

I am right about the reason Japanese train martial arts. "Seishin no tame ni" is a very common phrase. Of course its not the reason why people join up. My teacher joined up because his brother was beating him. But if asked why he has kept going he will answer "seishin no tame ni" or something of similar meaning. Its a very common saying. It probably includes self defence, physical fitness etc... I guess anything that makes them feel better. I should note that I did ask them in Japanese not English. And I asked why they train not why they joined up in the first place. Also saying you are training your mind or polishing your spirit sounds educated and wise. Who wants to be thought of as a thug? Besides nobody wants to talk about their fat or other personal problems.

No you were right about the Japanese not having a clue about aikido etc. Its only a minority in Japan that actually do these traditional arts. Most young people are only interested in western style activities. Kind of a shame isn't it... Apparently a lot of the really old schools are funded by the Japanese government because they have few students and are on the verge of becoming extinct.

I can relate to you about different aikido in aikido. When I went to Japan I noticed major differences in the hombu dojo and mine. It was like night and day! But every aikido school I have been to or seen on video etc has the same basic aikido techniques and movements. But I know what you are saying. If teachers throw away a lot of techniques are radically change their aikido into something else is it still aikido?

crystalwizard
01-14-2001, 11:46 PM
darin wrote:
[QUOTE]
I am right about the reason Japanese train martial arts. "Seishin no tame ni" is a very common phrase. Of course its not the reason why people join up. My teacher joined up because his brother was beating him. But if asked why he has kept going he will answer "seishin no tame ni" or something of similar meaning. Its a very common saying. It probably includes self defence, physical fitness etc... I guess anything that makes them feel better.

Same could be said of most readers of this forum i'm guessing. They started for all kinds of reasons....but why do they keep going? I've heard answers such as 'I can't imagine life without it' .



No you were right about the Japanese not having a clue about aikido etc. Its only a minority in Japan that actually do these traditional arts. Most young people are only interested in western style activities. Kind of a shame isn't it...

The grass is always greener etc. Yeah it's a shame but how many traditional arts from your own neck of the woods are you personaly intersted in? (you meaning eveyrone not just the person I quoted). Live in Texas...square dancing is traditional. Do you practice it or is something from far away more interesting (and so on)

andrew
01-15-2001, 06:04 AM
darin wrote:
[QUOTE]
No you were right about the Japanese not having a clue about aikido etc. Its only a minority in Japan that actually do these traditional arts.

It's only a minority anywhere. I believe you'll still find that Japanese martial arts are more popular in Japan than elsewhere.

I must go now and actually read the _rest_ of the thread. seeya,
andrew

Nick
01-15-2001, 12:30 PM
I agree, we shouldn't hang on to tradition. We should rename aikido to Bubba's Throwin' system, wear purple uniforms, and use all english terminology... no problem, the Japanese wouldn't mind since they don't know what aikido is, we could probably get away with it as long as the techniques looked the same...

Tradition is the core of Aikido. They add a dimension to it that is missed by many other activities because they don't have any...

Nick

Erik
01-15-2001, 02:04 PM
crystalwizard wrote:
The grass is always greener etc. Yeah it's a shame but how many traditional arts from your own neck of the woods are you personaly intersted in? (you meaning eveyrone not just the person I quoted). Live in Texas...square dancing is traditional. Do you practice it or is something from far away more interesting (and so on)


I've always been under the impression that Texas has maintained close ties with it's martial traditions.

Am I wrong about that?

darin
01-15-2001, 08:14 PM
Nick wrote:
I agree, we shouldn't hang on to tradition. We should rename aikido to Bubba's Throwin' system, wear purple uniforms, and use all english terminology... no problem, the Japanese wouldn't mind since they don't know what aikido is, we could probably get away with it as long as the techniques looked the same...

Tradition is the core of Aikido. They add a dimension to it that is missed by many other activities because they don't have any...

Nick

Tradition isn't the core of aikido. The core is the techniques and training. If you only had tradition, aikido would be a ceremony not a fighting art.

Names, colors of gi etc are all superficial. They don't make an art. Art is about human expression. By sticking to tradition this human expression is restricted. If aikido is a martial art then it should be brought up to date with today's environment. Art is life and life is art. Life is about moving forward, making new discoveries and change.

It should be known that the Japanese have changed much of western culture to suit their own. Is it so bad that they call baseball yakyu?

Well, would the Japanese have any say in the matter? There are plenty of high ranking western instructors around. Most of them have enough autonomy to do what they want anyway.

What I am asking is, should aikido be allowed to evolve to suit western society. Why can't we use our own traditions and customs? Why should we adopt the Japanese ones especially since we don't truely understand them?

ian
01-16-2001, 07:43 AM
I remember talking to someone who did ju-jitsu, and they seemed to like the idea that they did not do any bowing to partners or kamiza during their training and it was more sport/athletic orientated. I considered whether this was appropriate in our class but decided it was not for several reasons:

1. bowing to our partner is a sign of respect which I believe reduces the incidence of people trying to compete and test each other, as well as violent outbursts. [interestingly people now think road rage could be due to the fact that you cannot see the body language of other drivers and what is interpreted by you as aggresive, may have just been a mistake by the other driver, but lack of body language stops us realising this]. The same in aikido - bowing shows that you respect your partner and are not there to harm them.

Shaking hands is just too time consuming and is easily manipulated into a strength/dominance contest!

2. Bowing to sensei enforces a militaristic style of training. People might not like this, but it means that students are more likely to do what sensei says, and it is easier to control a large group of people.

3. Bowing to kamiza: I always bow very slowly at the end of the class - it helps me to relax and gather my thoughts. Bowing to kamiza also helps us to focus on the spiritual dimension of aikido and to me is definately an 'internal' feeling.

Bowing to kamiza is a physical illustration that the training group is bigger than just your own group and Aikido groups around the world are showing respect for the founder and for the spiritual aspects of aikido.

For me the use of japenese language allows you to go to a dojo anywhere in the world and do a specific technique.

Ian

ian
01-16-2001, 07:51 AM
Saying all the above, I think there is a tendancy to not want to change anything in Aikido. I think Aikido should evolove to be the best martial art and self defence it can be, incorporating any new knowledge into it.

However many aikido techniques are done in certain ways for certain reasons and things that appear to be better/easier early in training can be a mistake when you realise more specific ideas about the technique (i.e. the way it protects your body and moves you to an advantagous position, the dangerous application it derives from, the pressure point strikes or further techniques it sets you up for). It is very unfortunate that Ueshiba was not more forthcoming and specific in explaining the techniques - and maybe the we would have ended up with less 'styles'.

Ian

darin
01-16-2001, 10:53 AM
ian wrote:
I remember talking to someone who did ju-jitsu, and they seemed to like the idea that they did not do any bowing to partners or kamiza during their training and it was more sport/athletic orientated. I considered whether this was appropriate in our class but decided it was not for several reasons:

1. bowing to our partner is a sign of respect which I believe reduces the incidence of people trying to compete and test each other, as well as violent outbursts. [interestingly people now think road rage could be due to the fact that you cannot see the body language of other drivers and what is interpreted by you as aggresive, may have just been a mistake by the other driver, but lack of body language stops us realising this]. The same in aikido - bowing shows that you respect your partner and are not there to harm them.

Shaking hands is just too time consuming and is easily manipulated into a strength/dominance contest!

2. Bowing to sensei enforces a militaristic style of training. People might not like this, but it means that students are more likely to do what sensei says, and it is easier to control a large group of people.

3. Bowing to kamiza: I always bow very slowly at the end of the class - it helps me to relax and gather my thoughts. Bowing to kamiza also helps us to focus on the spiritual dimension of aikido and to me is definately an 'internal' feeling.

Bowing to kamiza is a physical illustration that the training group is bigger than just your own group and Aikido groups around the world are showing respect for the founder and for the spiritual aspects of aikido.

For me the use of japenese language allows you to go to a dojo anywhere in the world and do a specific technique.

Ian

From my experience bowing doesn't make students better behaved or show respect to their training partners.Have you heard the expression bad teacher bad student? The way a teacher conducts a class determines what kind of students he or she will have. Even with all the bowing etc there still are arrogant, ignorant, stupid instructors out there.Imagine what kind of poor mislead students they have!

But in general I would say that most aikido schools are friendly because the teacher instills confidence and teaches how to safely train with one another. This is what gets people coming back.

The more aggressive people train the more chances tempers will be raised.I have seen people start things over unintentional injuries, intentional injuries, loss of ego, and jealousy.A disorganized dojo can even lead to mutiny where the students complain to superior instructors in the style, lose faith in the art itself, or just walk out and never do budo again.

Some schools proclaim they are the best. Even though they bow etc they always have something to prove. Not much harmony there don't you think?

In the end its how you train that makes a difference. If your students enjoy the class, are learning techniques and basically getting what they want then it doesn't matter what customs and traditions you have.

Bowing is only an extra part of aikido. It's a ritual. It doesn't guarantee that any aikidoka is kind, sincere or respectful to others.

I speak Japanese fairly well and have found that non speakers of Japanese have real trouble learning the aikido terms.

Not all schools use the same Japanese terms for each technique. For example our style uses robuse for ikkyo, kote kudaki for nikkyo and mukai doshi for irimi nage. Now, those who understand Japanese can get an idea what they mean.
If you don't understand Japanese its all Greek (no offense to any Greeks out there).

Japanese language isn't so important in aikido. Everything is tought by demonstration and application. Many karate schools use English terms most of the time. Eg: round house kick, front kick, inside block. Its easier for westerners to learn. What's wrong with wrist twist or four direction throw? Hey you could use cool names like the ones in Tekken or pro wrestling! hehehe Of course everything will have to be standardized for English aikido classes. Thats asuming everyone will go to everyone elses classes or agree on one system...

Another reason is that most western instructors can't pronounce the names of techniques properly. Its really only useful if you are training in Japan or learning under a Japanese teacher who has a poor command of English.

JJF
01-25-2001, 04:35 AM
Erik wrote:
Think about it another way. Do you bow to your tennis instructor? Did you bow when you went to school? Do you bow when you step on the tennis court? Do you bow to your tennis instructor when he/she makes a suggestion? Sounds ridiculous in that context doesn't it?

But is it any different?

Hi Erik

Just wanted to say: Yes in my opinion it is. Though you may have a very powerfull back-hand in Tennis it is seldom used for fighting, apart of in the battle on the tennis court. Aikido is basically about fighting - though primarily about how to solve the conflict, but Tennis is a sport and therefor has a very different area of attention. If you practice what is potentially lethal techniqes a certain amount of discipline is required. In Aikido we have inherited this discipline from Japan, the same way boxing has got rituals based on western traditions.

Just my 2 cents.

BC
01-26-2001, 12:09 PM
I actually like the various traditions which our dojo practices. To me, bowing is a sign of gratitude and respect, and you will not convince me otherwise. However, the only Japanese terminology we use in the dojo is for techniques, and "onegaishimasu." Before I began aikido, I praciced an American kenpo, in which we used no foreign languages. However, we still bowed to our instructors, partners and the front of the school. It was not religious in any way, shape or form. By the way, here is a good article by David Lynch relating to this very topic:

http://www.aikidojournal.com/articles/ajArticles/lynch_111.asp

Regards,

Erik
01-26-2001, 04:22 PM
JJF wrote:
Hi Erik

Just wanted to say: Yes in my opinion it is. Though you may have a very powerfull back-hand in Tennis it is seldom used for fighting, apart of in the battle on the tennis court. Aikido is basically about fighting - though primarily about how to solve the conflict, but Tennis is a sport and therefor has a very different area of attention. If you practice what is potentially lethal techniqes a certain amount of discipline is required. In Aikido we have inherited this discipline from Japan, the same way boxing has got rituals based on western traditions.

Just my 2 cents.


I believe the Japanese bow during or before baseball games. We don't. Why? It's a cultural norm. My understanding is that the Gracie's don't bow to each other, yet they seem to be mostly respectful sorts. The same thing would apply in other venues which are easily just as dangerous. I'd rank professional football as more dangerous than what we do for instance. While I sort of agree with the point, I think respect comes from something more substantive than bowing.

crystalwizard
01-26-2001, 05:26 PM
interesting replies. I'm curious now. For me (and no I'm not japanese) bowing just seems way more natural than shaking hands. Always sorta done it without thinking and then felt selfconcious and had to stop myself. Starting Aikido was great for lots of things but especialy since I didn't have to feel self-concious about this at least at the dojo.
anyone else in the same boat?

Jim23
01-26-2001, 05:39 PM
I don't really mind the bowing, shoes off, no chewing gum, etc.

Not too crazy about bowing to O-Sensi, but that's not a big deal.

What drives me crazy is overuse (in my opinion) of the Japanese language. Words for techniques may be necessary (I think), but I think some instructors tahe it to the extreme.

I have no problem respecting the art and the Japanese people, but I speak English. Let's not add another layer of difficulty to aikido.

I feel that when the Japanese, in japan, play soccer, baseball, do boxing - whatever, they should use only English!

Aikido if difficult enough to learn!

Jim23

crystalwizard
01-26-2001, 11:30 PM
Jim23 wrote:

I have no problem respecting the art and the Japanese people, but I speak English. Let's not add another layer of difficulty to aikido.

If you speak american english, then you already speak a mixture of a number of languages. Because a fairly large number of 'english' words used in america are in fact not english at all....they're spanish, german, celtic, etc. Words that were absorbed into the language and have become common place enough that the people using them dont realize they're speaking something other than english. words are words. unfamilure terms are unfamilure terms

If I tell you that a technique is called the whopass move does it mean anything to you till you've heard it called that a few times? no. If I tell you the same technique is called the bojomo move does it mean anything more or less than the other unfamilure term? no. I think you'll have a lot less difficulty retaining the terms and remembering what they mean if you stop being angry that they're not in the language you prefer to speak.

Jim23
01-27-2001, 09:44 AM
FEWER WORDS - MORE UNDERSTANDING

“No, no, no, that’s the wrong technique!”

“All right you two, sit down, and let the next pair stand up!”

“No, not there, kneel down over there!”
“OK, now you do the technique!”

This was the scene I witnessed at an aikido grading examination. It all seemed fairly normal, except for one thing--the commands were all in Japanese, even though there were no Japanese people present, the instructor himself was not Japanese and the dojo was many thousands of miles away from Japan ...

--------

I have no problem with using Japanese words where appropriate, it's taking it to the extreme (or should I say being ridiculous) that I have a problem with.

I've actually found an instructor who feels the way I do.

http://209.15.100.149/articles/ajArticles/lynch_111.asp

Jim23

Jim23
01-27-2001, 09:49 AM
Sorry, the address doesn't seem to work. Go to http://209.15.100.149/ then to Articles, then to David lynch, then to the article.

Jim23

Matt Banks
01-27-2001, 12:34 PM
Darren, if you get rid of tradition you lose the tecniques with it. There are so many examples of this. Judo, tecniques practically irradicated to keep up with modern sporting times, kendo etc etc. Tradtion gives what you do meaning. Helio Gracie himself expressed his consern in the amount of competion that was arising in GJJ, he felt that the art was diluting, like all arts that lose there traditional roots. When you start getting rid of tradtion in an art you start getting rid of stuff that one person doesnt like...where do you draw the line. It is true that the practicailty of an art decreases when you lose tradtion. Plus I assume that you dont care about the many sides of aikido about from the practical side of it. You will always be in the minority, most people love the tradition.

Keeping tradition prevents corruption and dilution.



Matt Banks

giriasis
01-27-2001, 04:15 PM
I think the key to "tradition" is to understand why we do it. In understanding, we gives the "tradition" worth, thereby, adding more depth to our practice.

If someone doesn't have an interest in learning the tradition, then they should find a group/dojo that does not focus on tradtion. (I've been to dojos that teach aikido and use English for a lot of terms.) And if you don't find worth to the tradition, then don't do it.

Personally, as soon as I started aikido, I took the effort to understand the Japanese language. As a former foreign language major and student of anthropology, I have an interest in learning about different cultures and ways of life. Plus, I find learning the different aspects of the language interesting. I, also, find the traditionally Japanese practices of interest to me. I am aware of the religious connotations involved in bowing, but I am also aware of the secular reasons as well. I know in some way the bowing to Ueshiba has a religious connotation. But that is not the reason we pracitice in my dojo. In my dojo, we bow to show our respect and appreciation to Ueshiba for Aikido. It is also done for the purpose of putting the student in the proper state of mind. At least on my part and in my dojo, it is done with meaning -- meaning derived from the secular reasons of bowing not the religious. But this meaning does provide depth to our practice.

(Oh and this is what was taught to my sensei from Yoshimitsu Yamada)

Because we bow for secular reasons, does this some how mean we don't understand the purpose to bowing? I don't think so. It just means my dojo has chosen it's meaning for the bow. And given our American nature we can separate the religious from the secular.

Plus, if I didn't want the religious connotations involved, I would have found a dojo without the kamiza, that only does the techniques and that finds a secular way of keeping a student's mind focused. However, I am also interested in learning the heart of aikido as well. And I believe learning this heart begins with paying tribute to its Japanese origins. Yes, the religious connotations are there just because of the spiritual nature of the art. But it is up to the student in my dojo to decide whether they put a spirituality in their practice. And since we bow for secular reaons, they are not forced to practice a religion against their beliefs.

I have no problem with doing this. And if you choose otherwise, that is fine.

So in general, I don't believe that the traditions found in Aikido should be down away with. But I do believe that there is enough room is this aikido world to allow those who find the "traditions" objectionable to practice aikido.

Sincerely,
Anne Marie Giri

[Edited by giriasis on January 27, 2001 at 03:21pm]

Gerardo A Torres
01-27-2001, 05:30 PM
Here is a link to an article about etiquette and tradition in budo. It is part of a work written by Nobuyoshi Tamura Shihan (9th dan). Tamura sensei ("O'Sensei's favorite uke") has a lot more experience in aikido than most people in this forum, so maybe we should listen to what he says.

http://www.aikidoonline.com/

One only has to read a few lines to understand that etiquette is fundamental to budo training. Rei, and all the expressions and customs are for the purpose of providing a proper environment for training. The expressions we use, and the way we sit, bow, and handle items in the dojo come from a martial tradition, and changing them would make aikido less of a martial art. A lot of the mental training in aikido comes from practicing proper etiquette. Budo etiquette is self-defense.

crystalwizard wrote:
For me (and no I'm not japanese) bowing just seems way more natural than shaking hands... anyone else in the same boat?
I feel the same way. It feels natural to me, mostly because these expressions allow us to accurately express our gratitude, respect, etc, to anybody from any culture within the aikido community.

About the burden of learning all the Japanese terms, I must say that learning these allow all aikidoka to have a common language.

When I started aikido we didnít have videos or books available where I lived, but after showing a technique my teacher would say the Japanese name for the attack and the technique. On the way home, I would sit in the bus and write down the Japanese names together with a little drawing of what the technique looked like. After a year I had learned every common aikido term and a lot more, and I never forgot them. If I had spent my time complaining I would have never learned the names.

I see aikido as my education, and not just a physical/recreational activity. I see aikido training similar to studying to become a doctor, a soldier, or a priest, where ranks, traditions and etiquette also apply (for a good reason). If I didnít agree with aikidoís customs and etiquette, I could always do something else --people do it all the time when they grow tired of a certain career or study. Aikido is no less than any other type of study, and should not be changed just to satisfy certain personal philosophies.


[Edited by gerardo on January 27, 2001 at 04:42pm]

Jim23
01-27-2001, 05:43 PM
I don't know why when I pasted the web address, spaces were added where they shouldn't have been.

One more time:

http://www.aikidojournal.com/articles/ajArticles/lynch_111.asp

Jim23

crystalwizard
01-27-2001, 06:25 PM
Jim23 wrote:
I don't know why when I pasted the web address, spaces were added where they shouldn't have been.

One more time:

http://www.aikidojournal.com/articles/ajArticles/lynch_111.asp

Jim23

so were you on the receiveing end of the instruction in all japanese or are you just upset because david mentioned it and is upset?

Jim23
01-28-2001, 09:58 AM
Neither, really.

I just feel that the language part of aikido is usually overdone. I understand about tradition, etc., but let's exercise a little common sense here.

I watched a karate class (Okinawan) a few weeks ago, which took the Japanese language to the extreme. At the end of the class, the teacher even had students clean the wooden floors with some sort of Japanese brushes (straw?), on their hands and knees in what looked like a traditional ritual. Sheesh!

In an earlier post, I mentioned that years ago I had a high ranking Korean teacher (Taekwondo) who came straight from Korea to teach. Although he did use Korean words (dubbock for gi, etc.), He gave instructions, even names for punches, etc. in English. He was just being practical, as the students spoke English.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not against tradition. I actually enjoy the Japanese culture. Love the food. Make tempura on a regular basis (I have a fantastic receipe, if anyone's interested). But I have no desire to become fluent in Japanese (or Korean for that matter).

Jim23

crystalwizard
01-28-2001, 09:42 PM
Jim23 wrote:
Neither, really.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not against tradition. I actually enjoy the Japanese culture. Love the food. Make tempura on a regular basis (I have a fantastic receipe, if anyone's interested). But I have no desire to become fluent in Japanese (or Korean for that matter).

Jim23

Well then, since you're not in a class that's taught in all japanese, or being asked to scrub the floor with straw brushes then I really dont understand why you are having a problem. now if you were stuck in such a class and were not permitted to leave the class and go some where else, then I could understand. I'm pretty sure that any of the students in such a class aren't forced to be there either? Chances are pretty good that they all have the ability to walk out the door and go some where else for instruction too.

My point I guess is, I do understand you not wanting to go to what you feel is an extreme but if the people involved who are going to those extremes are not overly bothered by them, and they're not forcing it on you, it's really not something for you to be all upset about.

darin
01-29-2001, 01:30 AM
Matt Banks wrote:
Darren, if you get rid of tradition you lose the tecniques with it. There are so many examples of this. Judo, tecniques practically irradicated to keep up with modern sporting times, kendo etc etc. Tradtion gives what you do meaning. Helio Gracie himself expressed his consern in the amount of competion that was arising in GJJ, he felt that the art was diluting, like all arts that lose there traditional roots. When you start getting rid of tradtion in an art you start getting rid of stuff that one person doesnt like...where do you draw the line. It is true that the practicailty of an art decreases when you lose tradtion. Plus I assume that you dont care about the many sides of aikido about from the practical side of it. You will always be in the minority, most people love the tradition.

Keeping tradition prevents corruption and dilution.



Matt Banks

People are captivated with foreign traditions because they are exotic. There is nothing wrong with this. It gets people more aware in Asian cultures therefore breaking racial barriers and ignorance.
But how many instructors really understand the traditions they are teaching? Most of them have never been to Japan let alone speak the language. What you get is an Americanized or whatever country influenced aikido. How traditional is that?

You say that if we lose tradition we lose the techniques. This is true. But, if you look at history you will find it's been happening for a long time. Ueshiba changed Daito Ryu to suit himself. Then his students changed aikido to suit themselves. They never worried about tradition. They all wanted to be unique, to stand out from the pack. Helio Gracie has complaints but so did Sokaku Takeda, Ueshiba and his students.

Not everyone will agree with you that judo, kendo and aikido have been irradicated over time. Yes they have changed but they have been changed to suit today's society. In Japan, budo is a form of education. They have changed it to make it easier to teach and accessible to a wider audience.

I agree that the practicality of an art can diminish with tradition. In most cases it improves as ancient traditions are not applicable to modern times. But practicality is sometimes second to business and personal power. It depends on the person/s doing the changing.

Remember that martial arts are art and a form of education. Education is research and art is about freedom of expression. Tradition is just doing something because everyone else has been doing it for years.

andrew
01-29-2001, 04:41 AM
Jim23 wrote:
I have no problem respecting the art and the Japanese people, but I speak English. Let's not add another layer of difficulty to aikido.

Regardless of language, aikido practitioners worldwide still use virtually identical terminology, making training with each other much simpler. Why not just call it "The martial way of harmony" if you find japanese so inconvienient?
Do you really think calling it "four direction throw" will make shihinage easier to perform?
andrew

darin
01-29-2001, 07:00 AM
andrew wrote:
Jim23 wrote:
I have no problem respecting the art and the Japanese people, but I speak English. Let's not add another layer of difficulty to aikido.

Regardless of language, aikido practitioners worldwide still use virtually identical terminology, making training with each other much simpler. Why not just call it "The martial way of harmony" if you find japanese so inconvienient?
Do you really think calling it "four direction throw" will make shihinage easier to perform?
andrew

It will make it easier to say. By the way its shihonage not shihinage. Besides do you know enough Japanese to understand what all techniques mean?

Jim23
01-29-2001, 08:08 AM
Darin,

I like the points you make.

Everyone else, don't be so defensive. Try to be objective. All I said was let's not take things to the extreme (is that bad?), lets be practical (bad?).

I find that every time an observation is made - boom! Everyone attacks (or should that be defends) - harmonize.

Jim23

andrew
01-29-2001, 08:34 AM
darin wrote:

It will make it easier to say. By the way its shihonage not shihinage. Besides do you know enough Japanese to understand what all techniques mean?

I know the techniques by name. I understand what they are by practiscing them, not because their names are descriptive. If you used enough english to "understand all techniques" you'd be talking for hours without ever describing it.
Putting english names on techniques would serve no purpose other than isolating the english speaking aikido community from the (larger) non-english speaking community. A good teacher doesn't need to speak much of your language to teach you aikido. (There's a dozen stock phrases that seem to be suifficient.)
If you think you can put standardised translations on all the aikido techniques without confusion springing up between different organisations then go ahead, but simply put you can't. If learning twenty or thirty foreign phrases per year of aikido practice is really all that difficult though, I guess you have no choice.
andrew

andrew
01-29-2001, 08:36 AM
Jim23 wrote:



I like your animated .gif, btw.
andrew

darin
01-29-2001, 08:55 AM
Jim23 wrote:
Darin,

I like the points you make.

Everyone else, don't be so defensive. Try to be objective. All I said was let's not take things to the extreme (is that bad?), lets be practical (bad?).

I find that every time an observation is made - boom! Everyone attacks (or should that be defends) - harmonize.

Jim23

Thanks Jim. At least one person is open minded. The reason people are so defensive is because they understand very little about aikido and its connection with Japanese traditions. Bruce Lee always talked about how the traditions in martial arts limit its development.

People are categorizing aikido by its ettiquite and customs. The traditions are not unique to aikido but are found throughout all aspects of Japanese life. In order to fully understand them one has to be basically Japanese! Of course there are those that have travelled to Japan and learnt the language and immersed themselves in the culture. But they are a minority, they are more Japanese than western! Most people don't want the burden of having to live up to those standards.

Take away all the language, ettiquite etc and you will still have aikido.

I don't think there is a definate style of aikido today. Everyone is doing their own thing even if they say they aren't. So where is the tradition?

The point of this forum: is the Japanese ettiquite, language etc necessary for aikido in the west? Is there a point having it if its not going to be the real thing?

Its amazing how many schools I have been to where the teachers and students fail terribly trying to be like Japanese. Its crazy. What's wrong with our own culture and language! Why bow to pictures and kneel in front of others? Surely we don't live in a class structured society like ancient Japan. Aikidoka only do these things because they have seen some Japanese teachers or people in a video do it. Do they really understand what they are doing? Blind leading the blind.

darin
01-29-2001, 09:17 AM
andrew wrote:
darin wrote:

It will make it easier to say. By the way its shihonage not shihinage. Besides do you know enough Japanese to understand what all techniques mean?

I know the techniques by name. I understand what they are by practiscing them, not because their names are descriptive. If you used enough english to "understand all techniques" you'd be talking for hours without ever describing it.
Putting english names on techniques would serve no purpose other than isolating the english speaking aikido community from the (larger) non-english speaking community. A good teacher doesn't need to speak much of your language to teach you aikido. (There's a dozen stock phrases that seem to be suifficient.)
If you think you can put standardised translations on all the aikido techniques without confusion springing up between different organisations then go ahead, but simply put you can't. If learning twenty or thirty foreign phrases per year of aikido practice is really all that difficult though, I guess you have no choice.
andrew

I know several jujitsu and karate schools that have changed the names of techniques into English.

In my experience, even 2nd to 4th dan western black belts don't remember the Japanese terms or understand what they mean. The terms they are familiar with they pronounce very poorly. Eventually they just make up nick names for the techniques.

In my style the terms are in different Japanese. We use robuse for ikajo, kote kudaki for nikajo, ikichigai for sankajo. How about that?

Magma
01-29-2001, 10:22 AM
Jim23 wrote:
I have no problem respecting the art and the Japanese people, but I speak English. Let's not add another layer of difficulty to aikido.

I feel that when the Japanese, in japan, play soccer, baseball, do boxing - whatever, they should use only English!

Aikido if difficult enough to learn!

Jim23

A lot of people have quoted this post and concentrated on the first paragraph. I want to concentrate on the second. You are saying that though we practice a Japanese art where you want the ability to speak only our own language, if the Japanese practice anything that is inherently western, they should not have the ability to speak their own language. I don't see the logic in that.

I think the fact remains that budo (and especially aikido) is about self-growth. It is a sad part of western (or maybe just modern) thought that we have tried to find the easiest way to do everything. Is it easier for an English speaker to speak english? Of course. Is it better? Self-improvement is not always painless; it involves sacrifice and hard work.

Imagine this discussion dealing with removing tanto dori from the waza-con of aikido. Why? "Because it's too hard to do. It adds a complexity to aikido that doesn't need to be there. Why can't I just face open hand attacks and know that there is a knife application there?" It's not exactly the same, but the thought process does follow.

I find it incredibly pompous on our part to think that we have a right, the authority, or whatever else to change a tradition simply because it would make things easier on us.

One thing I learned in my training to be a writer: you have to know the rules first in order to break them.

But that's just me talking.

Tim

giriasis
01-29-2001, 10:26 AM
Darin and Jim:

First, people get defensive when across the board assumptions are made such as aikido practitioners don't understand the Japanese culture or practices. Then people say, "Whoa, wait a sec. That's not true." Setting up such an oppositional arugment only begets defensive behaviour.

Second, you are correct that taking the whole Japanese thing to an extreme is not a good thing. But conversely, taking everying solely to english and soley with American customs is just as bad.

Third, Jim cites an article from Aikido Journal. This is just one person's experience at one dojo. Plus, I really did not read that article as some sort of "all inclusive" problem in aikido. It is just one person's opinion and observation. With such an opinion, we can choose to agree and disagree. Then you have people who practice aikido who say that is not necessarily, true. People are merely stating their own points of view from their limited experience.

Fourth, I am sorry just because you lived in Japan does not make you an expert on Japanese society, culture, and norms. Are you an anthropologist? What is your authority -- other than personal experience ?

Debates are great. They force us to think about the positives and negatives of our opinions which forces us to reconsider our opinions if we concede a point the opposing side makes.

But remember, if you start a debate please expect people to debate you. If you start with blanket statements based on your own personal expereince, expect people to state their contrary opinions based on their own person experiences. That's the nature of the beast.

Also, consider if so many people are saying otherwise to what you state, then perhaps you need to state that your blanket statement is not a valid statement. Perhaps you need to modify your statement to: "only in a few cases do dojos, take the langugage and etiquette to an extreme." You might be surprise that more people will agree with you then.

In the end, I agree that extremes are wrong, but your argument is in itself extreme. From my personal experience, most people are moderate in their practices and beliefs and few take things to the extreme.

So what is the solution? Use English when it makes sense and use Japanese when it makes sense. That's how its done where I'm at.

In the spirit of aiki,
Anne Marie Giri

[Edited by giriasis on January 29, 2001 at 09:38am]

Magma
01-29-2001, 10:27 AM
Jim23, unless you mean to point out the folly of Japanese baseball players having to use the english language to describe their equipment, field, uniform, etc. I agree that that is foolish, but then again, that's a sport. The argument was already made with Tennis, and it doesn't hold. There is no comparison between sport and a true MA.

Tim

bones
01-29-2001, 11:16 AM
darin wrote:

Take away all the language, ettiquite etc and you will still have aikido.


This seems to be the heart of the argument here. Im my opinion:

If you take away the language and ettiquite etc from tea cerimony, is it still chado? No, you are just making tea.

If you take away the language and ettiquite etc from calligraphy, is it still shodo? No, you are just writing.

BUT- do I think everyone must behave like they're in O-sensei's dojo to practice aikido? No. The art must adapt to the cultures of its practitioners and it must adapt with time. I think the ettiquite is central to aikido, but the specific practices may change. An acknowledgement and respect for the past history of an art is an important aspect of any '-do'. There must be change, but there must be continuity.

As I said before, I think the use japanese language is a secondary issue, which should not be a big deal either way.

-e preston

Jim23
01-29-2001, 01:20 PM
Magma wrote:
[QUOTE]

You are saying that though we practice a Japanese art where you want the ability to speak only our own language, (yet) if the Japanese practice anything that is inherently western, they should not have the ability to speak their own language. I don't see the logic in that.

Tim

I won't even attempt to respond to the above statement. YOW!

This is getting out of control. People are getting defensive over things that weren't even said (not by me, at any rate). Read what I said, not what you think I said.

Jim23

giriasis
01-29-2001, 01:53 PM
Preston,

I have to disagree with you. I do belive that the some of the Japanese cultural customs such as bowing, should be maintained in Aikido. Why? Because it is a way to show respect to the founder, and it is a way to instill a studious mindset in the student. I have experienced places where they don't practice such etiquette customs, and there was a difference. In the school with etiquette, I found more serious students wanting to train and learn aikido. I found a depth and heart of the practice that did not exist at the other school. In the dojo without it, it was like you were at recess in school, or it was performed in half-hearted, meaningless, or misunderstood way. Of course to understand this depth you need to be properly taught. And the proper attitude can only come from the sensei. If the sensei has a negative attitude towards etiquette, then that will translate into either it not being done at all or done half-heartedly.

And, if it is done half-heartedly, it should not be done at all. But if you eliminate etiquette, I hope it is replaced with an equivalent that can instill the same kind of respect and heart.

I have also practiced in Tae Kwon Do, and their idea of etiquette was pretty bad. "Etiquette" to them was a means of instilling discipline. It was done under the guise of tradition. To me that is neither etiquette nor tradition. Etiquette is about respect for yourself and the others you practice with. Etiquette, like another person said, is also self-defense. By showing a person, even an opponent, some basic decent respect from the beginning, we will have an easier time of resolving conflict.

Now, I will agree if people take etiquette to an extreme edge and pervert the cultural customs (as in my TKD school), then, yes, in this case it is useless. But where I train, I do believe that my sensei was trained and taught appropriately to understand the etiquette. And it is not perverted.

Also etiquette is necessary to establish the proper mindset to train in martial arts. The concepts of mushin and zanshin come to mind. The concept of Budo as it is derived from the Japanese martial art systems come to mind. Mushin, zanshin, budo are NOT Western concepts. The ARE eastern. In joining an art that has roots to the "East," I know I will be performing those "Eastern" practices.

Also, if all aikido is to you is technique and self-defense then I can understand wanting to eliminate the Japanese roots. Then in someway, it "technically" is aikido. But to those of us who find other aspects of aikido as important as technique, we will preserve those roots.

As I stated in my first post in this thread, there is enough room in this aikido world for both views and approaches.

In the spirit of aiki,
Anne Marie Giri

Jim23
01-29-2001, 02:10 PM
Anne Marie,

Well said. And I'm glad you said it in English. Just a joke!

Anybody want an authentic recipe for Tempura?

Jim23

giriasis
01-29-2001, 02:18 PM
Is it in English? :D

;)

Anne Marie Giri

Jim23
01-29-2001, 02:25 PM
That would be more like Fish n chips.

It tastes very Japanese.

Jim23

Magma
01-29-2001, 03:07 PM
My point was simple, Jim, I'm sorry you missed it. For you I will attempt again:

You cannot have it both ways. By that I mean you cannot expect to be able to speak English while performing a Japanese art if the Japanese cannot speak Japanese while performing a western "art".

As far fetched as that sounds, you wrote that. Now, if you intended to point out the folly of that sort of statement then I am with you:

you cannot have those expectations.

My point is that we should not feel it necessary to remove the Japanese from the aikido in order to facilitate learning. No, Jim, I am not saying that you said this. Please don't fixate on that statement and miss the true direction of this post. This is just in general. Opening with "Onegeishimasu" and closing with "Arigato Gozaimashita," as well as bowing to open or close class does not mean that we are trying to be Japanese. Nor is it too much to ask. These things mean that we are serious aikidoka. By doing less we only serve to create the "Tae Bo" version of aikido. Watered down, pre-packaged, marketed, slapped on a lunchbox, and completely devoid of art.

I hear they are coming out with a pill soon, so we won't even have to go to aikido class! (yes, that's sarcasm).

Look, I even kept my sentences short so there could be no confusion!


Or I could just be talking.

All in fun.

Tim

[Edited by Magma on January 29, 2001 at 02:10pm]

bones
01-29-2001, 03:10 PM
giriasis wrote:
Preston,

I have to disagree with you...


Actually, what you said pretty much echoed my opinion.

-efp



[Edited by bones on January 29, 2001 at 02:13pm]

Jim23
01-29-2001, 03:43 PM
Magma wrote:

You cannot have it both ways. By that I mean you cannot expect to be able to speak English while performing a Japanese art if the Japanese cannot speak Japanese while performing a western "art".

As far fetched as that sounds, you wrote that. Now, if you intended to point out the folly of that sort of statement then I am with you:


Hey Tim,

You caught on! It was meant to be ridiculous, to emphasize the point I was making.

Of course they should speak Japanese. Why on earth shouldn't they? If they choose to say "bat" or "strike three, you're out", that's fine also.

When Japanese play soccer, should they say "I say old chap, that was rotten of you" in a British accent? Or in cricket "LBW"?

Jim23

giriasis
01-29-2001, 03:56 PM
bones wrote:
giriasis wrote:
Preston,

I have to disagree with you...


Actually, what you said pretty much echoed my opinion.

-efp



I guess we mostly agree then. :)

In the spirit of aiki,
Anne Marie Giri

Magma
01-29-2001, 04:06 PM
Hi Jim,
No, the Japanese they should not have to speak foppish english to play soccer, rugby, baseball, or throw curling. But all of these are sports. And I don't buy the comparison between them and a MA.

On the other hand, I don't think that the Japanese language of aikido is nearly as stringent on translation as a Muslim's belief concerning the Arabic language of the Koran (where you cannot translate the Koran without diluting and making the message impure). Class can be taught in the local language, but where we have a lack of a name, use the Japanese. This is the normal process of language aquisition.

For example, do we have an "iriminage-type" thing in our culture? No. Ok, call it iriminage. Did the Japanese have a "bat-like" thing before baseball? No? Then maybe they call it a "bat". But I bet that they did have "uniform-type" things, so they don't use the western "uniform" to describe their apparel.

Basically, I see no reason to remove the Japanese language or traditions from aikido, but neither should a street-fluency in the language be a requirement, either.

...Or I could just be talking.

Tim

Jim23
01-29-2001, 04:38 PM
I think we're all starting to agree.

What I was getting at earlier was that when instructors/senior students overuse the Japanese language, I think it in some way makes them feel superior to the great unwashed out there in non-aikido land. And that's fine, I suppose, as it takes all types. However, let's try to be sensible and not overcomplicate our lives.

When I studied Taekwondo (ITF), I had the pleasure of meeting the founder General Choi. Surprisingly, he did his communicating in English. Smart man. He was trying to spread the gosple worldwide, so to speak, and was concerned with unnecessarily hindering the process (they did bow, use Korean and English names for stances, etc.). Taekwondo is now the most praticed MA worldwide, love it or hate it.

Anne Marie, your experience must have been the exception and not the norm.

Jim23

giriasis
01-29-2001, 04:59 PM
Jim23 wrote:
I think we're all starting to agree.

Anne Marie, your experience must have been the exception and not the norm.

Jim23

That is most definently true. And also that is my point. That old TKD school I went has been out of business for over 10 years now. And at my last testing with that school, all the red belts failed because they could not break the boards properly. The master was so embarrased that he let us all try again. But guess what the black belts handed out the weaker boards to every body. After that, we got out and changed schools.

later,
Anne Marie Giri

darin
01-29-2001, 08:18 PM
giriasis wrote:
Darin and Jim:

First, people get defensive when across the board assumptions are made such as aikido practitioners don't understand the Japanese culture or practices. Then people say, "Whoa, wait a sec. That's not true." Setting up such an oppositional arugment only begets defensive behaviour.

Second, you are correct that taking the whole Japanese thing to an extreme is not a good thing. But conversely, taking everying solely to english and soley with American customs is just as bad.

Third, Jim cites an article from Aikido Journal. This is just one person's experience at one dojo. Plus, I really did not read that article as some sort of "all inclusive" problem in aikido. It is just one person's opinion and observation. With such an opinion, we can choose to agree and disagree. Then you have people who practice aikido who say that is not necessarily, true. People are merely stating their own points of view from their limited experience.

Fourth, I am sorry just because you lived in Japan does not make you an expert on Japanese society, culture, and norms. Are you an anthropologist? What is your authority -- other than personal experience ?

Debates are great. They force us to think about the positives and negatives of our opinions which forces us to reconsider our opinions if we concede a point the opposing side makes.

But remember, if you start a debate please expect people to debate you. If you start with blanket statements based on your own personal expereince, expect people to state their contrary opinions based on their own person experiences. That's the nature of the beast.

Also, consider if so many people are saying otherwise to what you state, then perhaps you need to state that your blanket statement is not a valid statement. Perhaps you need to modify your statement to: "only in a few cases do dojos, take the langugage and etiquette to an extreme." You might be surprise that more people will agree with you then.

In the end, I agree that extremes are wrong, but your argument is in itself extreme. From my personal experience, most people are moderate in their practices and beliefs and few take things to the extreme.

So what is the solution? Use English when it makes sense and use Japanese when it makes sense. That's how its done where I'm at.

In the spirit of aiki,
Anne Marie Giri

[Edited by giriasis on January 29, 2001 at 09:38am]

No Anne I am not an anthropologist nor do I desire to be one. But I did study Japanese in a Japanese university and took classes on Japanese culture, history and business. Yes you are totally right, I am no way an expert on Japan. I just have some experiences.

The question is do aikido people understand what they are doing? Are the Japanese customs, traditions, language and ettiquite necessary in schools outside of Japan?

giriasis
01-29-2001, 08:38 PM
darin wrote:
The question is do aikido people understand what they are doing? Are the Japanese customs, traditions, language and ettiquite necessary in schools outside of Japan?


To answer your first question...
My experience in my dojo is that the aikido people do understand what they are doing.

To answer your second question...
For me, yes, it is necessary to hold on to some of the Japanese customs, traditions, language, and etiquette to get the full benefits of aikido.

My reasoning for my above two answers can be found in my first and third posts on this thread.

In the spirit of aiki,
Anne Marie Giri

darin
01-29-2001, 10:02 PM
Magma wrote:
Jim23, unless you mean to point out the folly of Japanese baseball players having to use the english language to describe their equipment, field, uniform, etc. I agree that that is foolish, but then again, that's a sport. The argument was already made with Tennis, and it doesn't hold. There is no comparison between sport and a true MA.

Tim

You forget that Japan has adopted far more from the west than we have from Japan. Everyone in Japan learns English at school.

How is there no comparison between sport and a true MA? Where is your proof?

darin
01-29-2001, 10:36 PM
bones wrote:
[/B]
Im my opinion:

If you take away the language and ettiquite etc from tea cerimony, is it still chado? No, you are just making tea.

If you take away the language and ettiquite etc from calligraphy, is it still shodo? No, you are just writing.

-e preston

[/B][/QUOTE]

The point of these two arts is the perfection of movement and creating the right state of mind. For what reason I don't know... its a ceremony and impractical.

What is unique to martial arts is the element of life and death. It too requires perfection of movement and a right state of mind. But it must be practical.

Erik
01-30-2001, 02:17 AM
Magma wrote:
Jim23, unless you mean to point out the folly of Japanese baseball players having to use the english language to describe their equipment, field, uniform, etc. I agree that that is foolish, but then again, that's a sport. The argument was already made with Tennis, and it doesn't hold. There is no comparison between sport and a true MA.

Tim


I've got to agree with Darin here. I never saw anyone disprove this argument. I remember being lectured about this being a martial art and because of that, for some unclear reason, we needed Japanese etiquette. Yet, there are lots of martial arts doing just fine without Japanese etiquette. Many of them with a lot more history than Aikido or other Japanese martial arts. China has a rich martial tradition and can be down right loose when it comes to this sort of thing. At least such has been my limited experience with the Chinese arts.

As to the language I give you one word--sensei. If ever a word needed to be redone into it's English equivalent it is this word. Think about all the BS that has been heaped upon this word, probably by yourself, and then read the following:

http://www.aikiweb.com/language/sensei.html

The Japanese must find great humor with us.

[Edited by Erik on January 30, 2001 at 01:54am]

crystalwizard
01-30-2001, 04:36 AM
darin wrote:
Aikidoka only do these things because they have seen some Japanese teachers or people in a video do it. Do they really understand what they are doing? Blind leading the blind.
[/B]

speak for yourself but not everyone else here. I personaly spent a great deal of time researching exactly what the reasons for the different traditions in aikido before I joined my first class. I'm pretty sure that plenty of other people have done just as much if not more research. The are probably some that just do 'x y z' because they are told to but not all Aikidoka are sheep as you seem to suggest or stupid either for that matter.

What's wrong with our own culture you asked...let me ask this. This is a website on the internet. There are viewers here from all over the world. Who's culture are you refering to when you say 'our own culture' ?

Matt Banks
01-30-2001, 05:12 AM
Yes we do need to hold on to it. Gozo Shioda 9th dan founder of yoshinkan aikido said it best. He explained that people will always do what is comfortable for them thus there needs to be set postures etc and correct etiquette. When you start getting rid of tradition you start throwing everything else away and knowone knows where to draw the line.

e.g. we stop bowing before we get on the mat, we stop doing suwari tecniques as their traditional thus our hip movements are no longer strengthened in the same way. We stop going into posture before tecniques, eventually it will turn into diluted rubbish. If you get rid of the japenese language, the next thing you do is get rid of kiaing etc etc more is lost. The next thing you know your practicing a self defence class not an all round art.

Jim 23 im not being defensive, but from the way you are writing it seems your trying to provoke aikidoka. Some comments you make are needless.

What Im about to say, is in know way trying to be rude, but I heard from a Karate instructor that TKD is no longer officially defined as a martial art, but a martial sport. Yet this is not true with judo, karate etc etc, why do you think this is.....tradition.


Matt Banks

Nick
01-30-2001, 06:15 AM
darin wrote:

The point of these two arts is the perfection of movement and creating the right state of mind.

[/B]

Than what is Aikido?

Nick

Magma
01-30-2001, 08:27 AM
darin wrote:
You forget that Japan has adopted far more from the west than we have from Japan. Everyone in Japan learns English at school.

How is there no comparison between sport and a true MA? Where is your proof?

...and...
Erik wrote:
I've got to agree with Darin here. I never saw anyone disprove this argument.

Hey guys, let me try to explain...
Compare sports and martial arts. In each the goal is simple: to win. But that is the goal of a board game, too, so we haven't proved anything. The difference comes in the fact that there is no life and death consequence to a sport. Because of this, there is no effort to shape the person, only to craft the body. In budo, it is the awareness of how precious and precarious life is that drives martial artists to seek to improve themselves - both to make life the best it can be, and to have the skills to protect it if the need arises.

Therefore, my point is this: because
1)the purpose of etiquette and tradition is ultimately to cultivate the inner person, and
2)sport does not also seek to cultivate this inner person
then it follows that
3)there is no valid comparison that one has etiquette and another does not because they are not pointed at the same target. These two pursuits (MA and sports) have different goals, and different means to that goal. To hold up the archetype of sport development as a model for MA practice (no bowing, no formality, etc.), will lead that MA to a place where the goal of developing the person has been supplanted with a goal of simply "winning." That could be manifested in looking at a MA as only a set of techniques to be mastered, or ranks to chase, or competitions to win. And none of these things is budo.

...Or I could just be talking.

Tim

Jim23
01-30-2001, 08:42 AM
Matt Banks wrote:


What Im about to say, is in know way trying to be rude, but I heard from a Karate instructor that TKD is no longer officially defined as a martial art, but a martial sport. Yet this is not true with judo, karate etc etc, why do you think this is.....tradition.


Hey Matt,

No offence taken.

In Taekwon-do there is the ITF and WTF. WTF is the sport version/style that is in the Olympics.

I'm just trying to wake people up a bit and help them realize that sometimes it's good to look outward.

Jim23

JO
01-30-2001, 09:16 AM
I think etiquette and signs of respect, for the art, for the sensei, for the other students are very important, particularly in an activity which is potentially dangerous.

Now. Aikido is a japanese art, I consider normal to use japanese forms of etiquette. Some will say that, yes aikido is japanese, but you are not in Japan. True, but as a member of a dojo affiliated to the aikikai, training with people from all over the world (at least 4 continents so far), I find it useful to have a common etiquette, and a common terminology, it makes it easier when travelling and helps remind us that we are all learning the same art.
If someone from this list visits the dojo I train at and comes from a traditional oriented dojo, the japanese names of the techniques may be the only words they understand, since the instruction itself is in french.

Frugal
01-30-2001, 09:28 AM
Erik wrote:
Think about it another way. Do you bow to your tennis instructor? Did you bow when you went to school? Do you bow when you step on the tennis court? Do you bow to your tennis instructor when he/she makes a suggestion? Sounds ridiculous in that context doesn't it?


Then again, do you salute your Commanding Officer? Do you reply 'Aye' to your skipper. Do you cry out 'Sir, Yes, Sir!' for your Drill instructor? Different arts, hobbies, lifestyles, careers all demand different actions and responses.

As well as this the bowing in at the start and out at the end of the lesson formalises it. It delineates it from the outside world and emphasises you are now training.

Bowing before and after a technique indicates to your partner that you are paying attention and are ready to practice. This is important for safety, otherwise you might end up with a Shomen to the forhead when you were not expecting it...

Magma
01-30-2001, 09:51 AM
I completely agree with Frugal. Higher etiquette does not exist in our daily lives, and it's presence in our training reinforces the gravity of what we are doing.

...Or I could just be talking.

Tim

darin
01-30-2001, 10:01 AM
Nick wrote:
darin wrote:

The point of these two arts is the perfection of movement and creating the right state of mind.



Than what is Aikido?

Nick [/B]

Aikido is self defence. Its not a dance but a fighting art.

Magma
01-30-2001, 10:13 AM
darin wrote:
Nick wrote:
darin wrote:

The point of these two arts is the perfection of movement and creating the right state of mind.



Than what is Aikido?

Nick

Aikido is self defence. Its not a dance but a fighting art. [/B]

Then what I see, Darin, is that you view Aikido as only aiki-jutsu - the techniques - rather than as aiki-do. Aikido is a way. Chado is a way. Both seek to cultivate the mind and body. This is the trap that waits for us if we forget the etiquette and tradition: the way is lost, the growth of the inner person is lost, and we become technique chasers.

...Or I could just be talking.

Tim

Nick
01-30-2001, 10:54 AM
darin wrote:

Aikido is self defence. Its not a dance
but a fighting art.

Who says it can't be both? Watching two yudansha "go at it" is a sight to behold, and indeed looks like dancing, but is 100% efficient... if you only wish to learn how to fight, perhaps you've chosen the wrong art.

Nick

Jim23
01-30-2001, 12:11 PM
Aikido is great, that's why we're all here.

But, come on, it's not the only way.

There are many other martial arts out there that claim to be the way also. They are all beautiful to watch, if done properly, and all can be done poorly as well. Most even claim to have traditions and etiquette.

Train smart.

Jim23

Suru
01-30-2001, 09:38 PM
I'm not sure if the formalities and etiquitte of the dojo should exist or not. Sometimes I find it awkward bowing to O'Sensei, and being carefull not to bow with my back to his picture. After reading the dojo regulations as described in Mitsugi Saotome's "Aikido and the Harmony of Nature", I've found some of the rules and disciplines difficult to understand. I follow the rules whether I understand them or not, because I figure there must be some justified reasons for them.

I am much happier training in more relaxed, "lenient" dojos because I go to class to ease my day-to-day stresses, not to create more stress. I really can't stand the hyper-militant dojos where I can't even leave the mat to oshikko (pee) until class is over. I am discouraged by the drill sergeant sensei who fail to provide a lighthearted atmotsphere in the dojo. Some sensei have a need to rigidly control their students' behavior. This is unhealthy. A student should be able to leave the mat whenever he or she wants to, to use the bathroom, drink some water, or catch his or her breath. If more dojos were as comfortable as home, I think more aikidoka would be better able to--as the Founder seems to have desired--"practice in the spirit of joy." Without extraneous, strict, hassle-inducing rules in aikido, I would still feel like I'm part of something special.

--Drew

Jim23
01-30-2001, 09:50 PM
I agree, although I love aikido, some of this rubbish should go.

Or, wait, some of this rubbish should stay. Which sounds better?

Let's be pratcial, this is the year 2001.

Jim23

Magma
01-31-2001, 08:31 AM
Two images come to mind when I hear people complain about dojo regulations and etiquette (and, let's face it, it is complaining pure and simple).

1) That of a lobster in boiling water exclaiming, "This is rubbish. Don't we live in a more enlightened age? Get me out of this pot... don't you know who I am?" Yeah, you're dinner, and so far down the food chain from the cook that your complaining is laughable.

and

2) In the movie "Amadeus," when the King/prince decides that there are just "... too many notes ..." in Mozart's latest piece, and Mozart responds, "Which would you have me remove?"

Also, I never said Aikido is "the" way. I said it is "a" way. The more important word there being "way," because without the tradition and etiquette and formality of our training, aikido no longer continues to be a way; it becomes only exercise, or sport, or a diversion. It becomes anything but a vehicle for self-growth.

Letting a student decide what rules and etiquette he or she will follow is like letting the lunatics run the asylum. Even if that lunatic is you. Or me. (And even if you are 3rd, 4th, 5th dan, etc., you are still a student... or, at least, you should be).

...Or I could just be talking.

Tim

Jim23
01-31-2001, 05:43 PM
Tim,

Yep, you are just talking. But, are you growing?

I'll say it again:

Jim23 wrote:
Although I love aikido, some of this rubbish should go.

Or, wait, some of this rubbish should stay. Which sounds better?


Jim23

Nick
01-31-2001, 06:24 PM
You're right, all of this tradition, respect, discipline garbage has really got to go... we should shake hands before we work out, take O'sensei's picture down from the wall, and stop talking about this 'ki' garbage... as long as we can toss someone to the ground, who cares if we move from our hips? Big arms are better to show off anyways...

Aikido is a Japanese art, not an american one... if there was a dojo claiming to teach "American Aikido" it would be laughed out of business... stop trying so hard to "improve" it and just enjoy the ride....

Nick

Jim23
01-31-2001, 07:16 PM
Nick,

Sorry if I gave the wrong impression, but it was these comments that I found silly:

Magma wrote:

1) That of a lobster in boiling water exclaiming, "This is rubbish. Don't we live in a more enlightened age? Get me out of this pot... don't you know who I am?" Yeah, you're dinner, and so far down the food chain from the cook that your complaining is laughable.

and

2) In the movie "Amadeus," when the King/prince decides that there are just "... too many notes ..." in Mozart's latest piece, and Mozart responds, "Which would you have me remove?"


And you don't want to upset a MA.

Jim23

Nick
01-31-2001, 08:00 PM
still, calling it "rubbish" is a bit strong... not sure you would enjoy me calling your opinions and anecdotes "rubbish"... plus, IMO, they made sense...

Nick

Erik
01-31-2001, 09:05 PM
Nick wrote:
still, calling it "rubbish" is a bit strong... not sure you would enjoy me calling your opinions and anecdotes "rubbish"... plus, IMO, they made sense...

Nick

Didn't he call us complainers?

By the way, there is such a thing as American Karate and I seem to recall that Jeet Kun Do broke with it's traditional roots as well. They seem to have done just fine.

Nick wrote:You're right, all of this tradition, respect, discipline garbage has really got to go... we should shake hands before we work out, take O'sensei's picture down from the wall, and stop talking about this 'ki' garbage... as long as we can toss someone to the ground, who cares if we move from our hips? Big arms are better to show off anyways...

What does any of this have to do with tradition? Virtually every athletic discipline on the planet understands where power is generated. Doesn't mean they do it but the concept is clearly not unique. I once had a surprisingly intelligent conversation on center with a Yugoslavian basketball player. He very clearly understood the concept and he didn't need a picture of O'Sensei.

What's wrong with having big arms?

Jim23
01-31-2001, 09:31 PM
Hey Nick,

I actually had to go back and look at previous posts to understand how we got to this point.

Originally, I was commenting on the overuse of the Japanese language in dojos, not about tradidion, per se.

The "rubbish" comment was due to my frustration reading posts by people who completely disregarded previous posts.

I still think the rubbish should go. Rubbish meaning the "overemphasis" of tradition. I found this afterwards and was quite amazed http://www.aikiweb.com/language/sensei.html

Now please don't think that I'm suggesting anything by this link.

Jim23
Never surprised, but always amazed.

Erik
01-31-2001, 10:01 PM
Jim23 wrote:
I still think the rubbish should go. Rubbish meaning the "overemphasis" of tradition. I found this afterwards and was quite amazed http://www.aikiweb.com/language/sensei.html

Now please don't think that I'm suggesting anything by this link.


Since I brought that to this table, I will suggest something by it. If the word sensei were done away with, a lot of people would get a better perspective on what their teacher is. A teacher.

[Edited by Erik on January 31, 2001 at 09:27pm]

Tony
01-31-2001, 10:27 PM
A teacher is just that, a teacher.

Whom are we to negotiate wisdom unusually from entirely unknown aikidoki that disengage absolutely from any real opportunity that manifests itself from without itself, even though no one cannot escape from the expression that it's unusual grasp of persuing that which isn't obviously known to most people, and don't understand anything except that which clones itself to the misunderstanding of others.

Now I ask you. Whom are youm?

Others cannot under-stand. I over-sit.

Some are upp-ressors. Others are down-pressors.

O-Sensi and Jah should comnine as one!

Tony
01-31-2001, 11:14 PM
I am oh so very sorry about my misinterpretation of unusually intrepid calculation of wrong technique. You see, the king's language cannot change due to fashion and unusual jokes regarding whatever people think might be changing times. Uke and nage should be in the place where they feel that outside influences are inconsequential due to the negative impact of duplicities from outside of our world of impact - unless it matters!

Does it? Ask another. If it does, find out why. If it doesn't, find out why not.

unless we take the approach of cross-representation, who are we to say yes or no?

Aikido is about harmony. Is it not? Then why don't we do that which isn't unusual? Take the high road. Jump up to the right level. What's wrong with that?

I say nothing's wrong with that!

Am I wrong? I think not. Press on. Go forth! We know that we are right.

The process of enduring the worst is the way to defeat those who feel that they are going into the jungle of undisclosed relief. If relief is what you seek in your aikido, consider this: not all do. The teacher, or sensi, is the answer that many feel could be the low road of understanding or perhaps the high road. right?

Maybe not. We all want to be noticed for things we know or do not know, whether we find comfort in education or not!

And who is right? You? Me? Everyone?

Methinks not! How can we all be right together in disunity. Especially on the day we question as being THE day of all days (or months?). Time marches on with or without the followers or the leaders. Regardless of whether we agree or disagree with those whom we may agree, we are never sure if we are right. Or are we?

That is the special question. It's not really nage or uke, is it?

I thought not!

Understandably so, until we think and find commonality in our persuits we will not necessarily win or lose, we will be the final consideration of all our fascination in this unusual, but happy place that we find ourselves just doing what we do, until someone interferes and we surge forward to undenieable friendly spaces that we didn't know existed. Until now.

I could go on, but you probably wouldn't understand anyway.

Why can't I be understood? I am not too far from being misunderstood. Am I not? Unless if it's mid-week and you aren't too hung up on formalities or similarities, or other strange opinions.

Umgaway!

Magma
02-01-2001, 08:20 AM
Hey Jim,

Be careful there, Jim, if you just make this personal rather than responding on point to my arguments it will look like you have nothing to stand on.

Regardless, I don't think that this thread is going to settle anything or convince anyone. In short:

Worms everywhere.
Big can.
Now empty.

BTW, Tony, where are you from?

...Or I could just be talking.

Tim

Frugal
02-01-2001, 09:34 AM
Magma wrote:
I completely agree with Frugal. Higher etiquette does not exist in our daily lives, and it's presence in our training reinforces the gravity of what we are doing.

...Or I could just be talking.

Tim

I know this has digressed from the initial comments, but I feel I should say it anyway...

Maybe we are asking the wrong question. Maybe the question shouldn't be 'Why do we need this etiquette and formality in our training', but 'why don't we have this etiquette and formality in our daily lives'?

Magma
02-01-2001, 10:16 AM
Interesting, Frugal...
my initial shoot-from-the-hip response is that our daily lives are governed by a different set of rules and etiquette than is our training. Not better or worse, just different. It is up to each of us how much respect we show in our daily lives. Do we hold the doors for other people? Let drivers merge into our lane? Are we polite? All of these things come down to respect - which is a little different than etiquette. The respect inside the dojo should be the same as without: though we practice a potentially devastating art in class, we know that that training may be called upon at any time in the real world. What changes in the dojo is just the etiquette, to show a mutual understanding with our training partners that we are putting ourselves into each others hands that we may better learn. It is because we need this trust that the special etiquette of class reinforces "this is different than the outside world"

...Or I could just be talking.

Tim

auskodo
09-16-2004, 11:54 PM
Darin
If you think Bowing is "kissing butt" im afraid you need to do more of it, like any other aspect of your art only by putting your self aside and practicing will you come to an understanding. If you accept your student thanking you verbally then your problem would seem to be not with "kissing butt" but with how it done - specifically you want it on your terms only - conscequently you turn thanks into "kissing butt".
Theres nothing 'mystic' about bowing you just do it, express yourself body and mind understanding of yourself, make the connection Darin, your art will grow through it.
if you dont then I'm afraid bowing and all the other traditions including your techniques (which are not something seperate from Ritsu) will remain as dead to you as they are now.

Dean

Visit us sometime at Jizoan Zen centre, just ring the Hyogo centre in Perth you know where that is Darin.