View Full Version : Poll: How important is "faith" in your aikido training?

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02-08-2004, 01:01 AM
AikiWeb Poll for the week of February 8, 2004:

How important is "faith" in your aikido training?

I don't do aikido
Critically important
Very important
Somewhat important
Not very important
Not at all important

Here are the current results (http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=206).

02-08-2004, 12:44 PM
I have "faith" in Aikido. I have "faith" in O'Sensei and my Sensei. I have "faith" in my training community. I have "faith" that I can do this.

"Faith" is very important.

Anders Bjonback
02-08-2004, 05:08 PM
What do you mean by faith? I don't think you mean the religious kind of faith, or blind faith, but I could be wrong. Do you mean, you believe this stuff works out blindly without thinking about it and finding it out for yourself, or something else? It seems like a broad term that many people could interpret differently.

The very question of faith in aikido training doesn't even make sense to me, but maybe that is because I'm a beginner.

02-08-2004, 06:24 PM
Hello Jun,

I don't understand what you mean in this question; can you possibly either explain what you mean or rephrase the question?

Thanks, Rachel

Jamie Stokes
02-08-2004, 07:09 PM
Hi Guys,

I interpreted this as "Religious faith".

having been dissatisfied with Christianity since I was nine, Aikido has largely replaced it. With trappings from other beliefs that I steal and use as I best see fit ie Zen.

I still have a healthy respect for religions, but like everything else in the human sphere, is open to both brilliance and perversion ( and all shades in between)

So, I use my "religion" to polish myself. Thats hard enough, let alone start trying to change the world.



PS: I think this is a good question. you have to think about the question as well as the answer.:D

02-08-2004, 07:11 PM
There are a lot of ways you could interpret the question, so the most logical way to go about answering it is to find out the intentions of the person asking the question.

Jeanne Shepard
02-08-2004, 08:17 PM
I interpret it as "faith I won't break my neck during my latest attempt at a high fall."


Lan Powers
02-08-2004, 11:25 PM
Lots of faith in your partner ie: that the limits will be adhered to....

My interpretation, so a lot in this context.

Religous faith?...umm no


02-09-2004, 02:07 AM
Being of the non-native english speaker persuasion the complete meanings and implications of the word faith are not clear to me.

I do trust my teacher and my trainingspartners. I believe in me and I am convinced of the humanity of o sensei.

02-09-2004, 02:55 AM
If you do not believe in Jesus, then Mel Gibson will come to your house and personally kick your ass.

Amelia Smith
02-09-2004, 03:17 AM
As a student of religions, this is how I interpreted the question.

Aikido is a spiritual path and process. Do you have faith that this path leads towards spiritual realization/enlightenment/maturity?

I don't think it can be a question of theistic faith(relating to god/God/gods), but as means of spiritual development, sure.


Chad Sloman
02-09-2004, 08:07 AM
I'm not sure what this question is asking either, but....

if we mean faith as in trust, then I think trust is very important in aikido, trust in our partners, trust in our sensei, etc...

but if we mean faith as in religious faith, then I don't think that it has anything to do with it. Aikido can be practiced without regard to western or eastern orthodoxy (or orthopraxy for Islam). I can be atheistic, agnostic, or believe in my "taco bell burrito god", and still practice aikido just the same.

02-09-2004, 08:16 AM
Interesting that this question follows on the heels of whether Uke is ever "wrong". The most pertinent response to that question suggested that "right & wrong" in Aikido is likely related to whether there is injury in practice or not. Morality is therefore dependent upon whether the "result" is intentional or not. However faith might be the belief that whatever happens will always be "right" and never "wrong" result.

Ted Marr
02-09-2004, 08:16 AM
Faith is something I need to make a technique work sometimes, but never something I can afford to rely on. When I don't believe that a technique can/should work the way my teacher shows it, it doesn't work very well until I stop doubting and sincerely try it without reservations. At the same time, faith can blind you to problems with your technical execution, so often enough it's good not to have it. Doubt yourself constantly! Doubt your teacher! Question it all!

02-09-2004, 11:24 AM
I don't have "faith" in it...Aikido is simply not my religion.... "trust" it to work though.... is this question out of track??;)

02-09-2004, 02:51 PM
Something tells me Jun is being intentionally vague.

But since it doesn't say "how important is YOUR faith" I will interpret it as faith in what I am practicing.

The only faith I have is that if I keep training, certain things will be revealed to me. But that's faith based on experience which to me is really trust. I only trust based on history. I'm from the "show and prove" school. Prove it and I'll believe it. So in a general sense I have faith in the value of aikido training based on experience. Regarding individual aspects or interpretations of the art that I have not yet experienced or mastered, time will tell.

John Boswell
02-09-2004, 03:14 PM
If Jun IS being vague, then that means any and ALL interpretations are correct and thus... this poll serves only one purpose: to spark a good dialogue!
How important is "faith" in your aikido training?
Faith in my religious beliefs are often times touched by my training. Through training in aikido two years, I believe I now know what O'Sensei meant by becoming "one with the universe," though that doesn't mean I've achieved it or even tried to.

Faith is my instructor or sempai (teammates? I think that's the word) is more Trust than faith. I trust them all very well. It's trusting in my own ability that I need to work on more than anything.

Faith in the technique and physical dynamics of aikido goes without question in my mind. How many times do you need to see someone thrown into kotegeishi before you get that it is effective??? Duh!

So... take it as you will. I have many answers to chose from. Still, I'd like to hear from Jun on this one.

/poke Jun

/bonk Jun

/taps my foot in Jun's general direction

/taunts Jun a second time!! :D

02-09-2004, 06:36 PM
NO! Faith has nothing to do with a physical activity!!! :disgust:

02-09-2004, 06:41 PM
Interesting that this question follows on the heels of whether Uke is ever "wrong". The most pertinent response to that question suggested that "right & wrong" in Aikido is likely related to whether there is injury in practice or not.

No, it is not about the result, but the intent! IE: The difference between (1)murder and (2)manslaughter!

(1) I meant to throw you hard and hurt you!

(2) I meant to throw you hard, but not hurt you!


02-09-2004, 06:45 PM
/poke Jun

/bonk Jun
If I were Jun I would be worried!!! :freaky:

02-09-2004, 10:23 PM
If you mean faith in a religious sense, then personally it has no meaning at all.

One of the reasons I like Yoshinkan is that when I was first looking to start training, it was the only dojo I found that didn't spend half the class doing ki exercises or sitting around while Sensei read bits of books to people & discussed it.

I was there to train, not sit around & talk about training... lol

As for faith in the techniques themselves, I think you have to have faith in them. When you doubt your technique, you start to tense up & do unconsciously doing little things that cause your technique to fall to bits totally. It seems like a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Ghost Fox
02-10-2004, 07:50 AM
There are two kinds of faith, … Like Freedom there is the kind which is easily kept but proves not worth the keeping, and there is a kind which is hard-won.”
Michael Moorcock

I think Aikido depends very much on the latter.

In one case, as one begins to progress in the Way, one must begin to do a lot of “soul-searching” on the meaning of harmony, love and what is the true meaning of the art of peace, and the answer is different and personal for every artist.

In another case, I’m sure there are a lot of scholars (religious and secular) on this board who are more better equip to explain how’s one faith, disposition, intent, has an effect on involuntary muscular tension, posture, and demeanor. All of which have an effect on one’s performance.

Lastly, one’s faith, perceptual filters, has a strong influence in how we as individuals relate to the world, and interact with our partners.

For myself all of these things make up one’s faith, whether it is in Science, Allah or the Tao.

:triangle: :circle: :square:

02-10-2004, 08:35 AM
Yeah tho I shikko through the valley of hakama I shall fear no atemi, for I am the biggest baddest hara in the land…

There really are some interesting answers on this one, I just can't help being reminded of the "is aikido a cult" thread. As for trusting senseis, this is meant as a joke yes? Trusting their teaching, ok, within reason, but trust the little darlings...

02-10-2004, 11:19 AM
Webster says, faith: 1. confidence or trust in a person or thing. 2. belief that is not based on proof.

According to 1, my answer stands that I have faith in Aikido, my Sensei, my training partners, and myself.

According to 2, I have no faith. I have proof.

IMHO, faith in each other is spiritual though it may not qualify for religious.

Maria Isabel Martins
02-10-2004, 04:44 PM
Could you please explain me what does "faith" mean? Is it different from faith with no comas? Or from Faith with a capital F? Does this question makes sense or we just have to have "faith" in it?

02-10-2004, 10:29 PM
I waited a while before voting so I could see if Jun would give us a hint as to what he meant. But since he's leaving it as an exercise for the reader, I'm with Lynn (post #2): without faith in my Sensei, myself, and my fellow students, I'd be lost.

02-11-2004, 08:50 AM
Sure faith is important.

I have faith in the training system and methodology. That is, I have faith that if I keep doing what I'm supposed to do, and pay attention to what I'm doing, I'll gain skill.

I have faith in aikido techniques. I believe that they are effective at dealing with violence. I also have some first-hand proof of this too.

I have faith in the ideals (or philosophy, if you like) expressed by O'Sensei and his followers. I believe aikido can provide a way of dealing with conflict that is neither fight, nor flight.

I have faith in myself; that I can do some of the seemingly impossible things that I've seen. So far, I've been able to, but the first time always takes faith.

I also have a healthy level of skepticism and a willingness to test myself, and the skills I'm learning.

My aikido practice oftentimes touches on my personal religious faith, but then, my religious faith touches all aspects of my life, so that's no surprising. By this I mean that I tend to evaluate much of what I do in reference to my religious beliefs. I doubt I would study aikido if I found it to conflict with my personal moral code.



Sara M
02-11-2004, 12:43 PM
yep faith in aikido... that it is what it is suppossed to be though I dont understand it. in my sensei it is very important i have faith in his intentions though i dont know what they are, so that when i learn what he has learnt, i can have faith in my opinions aswell as my aikido.

surely without faith in your attack/uke, and technique/nage your doubt would weaken its affect... isn't faith, belief? so without belief there would be nothing in the movement because you wouldnt believe in it, no confidence in the attack would mean there is nothing to defend against...?


02-11-2004, 01:37 PM
isn't faith, belief?
No. Faith is believing in something that in which you have no proof! If you need to have faith in your Aikido, and hence not true belief, I would change your Sensei, because you don't really believe in him!



02-11-2004, 01:40 PM

Last bit of last post is to be thought provoking, not offending anyone! Just there for ephasis!!!


Sara M
02-11-2004, 02:16 PM
well, I believe in my sensei... but i dont know him and i accept that, my faith is my belief in someone i dont know to teach my something i know nothing of...

perhaps everything begins with faith, because without it you wouldnt do anything... maybe, i mean, when you walk you have faith that your feet will touch the floor, but you dont know that until youve touched it do you...? and thats where i mean that the more tentative your step is, the less powerful the walk... you have to have faith that the path will be there to have a powerful stride. maybe if what you say is true, then maybe there is no such thing as this 'belief' - if it differs from faith so much, because it is merely an assumption of somthing that has happened or not and maybe isn't there anymore or never will be... an illusion...- isnt that dangerous, perhaps, what do you think?

my faith is just faith - not expectations like your belief seems to be

no offence taken


02-11-2004, 03:43 PM
Faith to me is a very loaded term with a lot of religious overtones resulting from my Roman Catholic upbringing. I don't consider it a big factor at all in Aikido.

However, I consider trust a big factor in my aikido training and is a definently required.

02-11-2004, 07:06 PM
maybe if what you say is true, then maybe there is no such thing as this 'belief'
If you cannot find proof within your Aikido, then it cannot work. If you have the proof within your AIkido and you know it works, so faith does not come in to it.

To prempt a question, I have always told my students that Aikido takes time and is not instant, but I always give them the "proof" of it!


02-12-2004, 04:20 AM
Whatever, faith is such a wimpy word. Faith is for people who go to go church and just listen. Faith just sits in the background and lounges around. All action coming from faith is ultimately tied to whatever thing is believed in...leaving us poor mortals out of the equation.

Now, devotion is a better word. Devotion demands bold love, active compassion, tolerance, and ACTION. An increase in devotion always brings out real results.

So, no, I don't think faith is important at all. There is a trust that I have when I enter the dojo, but that is built upon history of having a good lesson every time. My teachers are good, but they are human, not make believe creatures that hide their lucky charms at the end of rainbows. And O'Sensei, well, he's dead, never knew the guy. I prefer to honor the dead by practicing rather than talking or 'feeling.'

02-12-2004, 02:24 PM

One thing I will say following that is that faith does not require proof!!! We MUST look for proof!!!

With out the search for proof, we can have no knowledge or wisdom! The road to which is questions! Why? How? What? Where? When?

Faith can be very dangerous and destroy our MARTIAL art!


Sara M
02-12-2004, 05:51 PM
i think I understand you mark... but wouldn't you also say that concentrating on getting results (proof) rather than just training and getting the technique right, can create tension if you dont get what you expect?... considering aikido takes so long to even begin to get a true feel for the basics...??

this is the point at which you have to have faith that you are progressing isn't it?, because more often than not, i dont think you see yourself advance even though you are... i think maybe, asking so many questions like you say can help... but then i think asking and searching frantically can also block you from what is already there, your just not realising your feeling it already... or have i got the wrong end of the stick here?:)

considering this `proof` that you know you have... surely you have to have faith that its still there?? - have faith that you know what you believe in is truly proof...?


02-13-2004, 04:20 PM
"Getting the techniques right" - how do you know you are getting them right? Because they work! Proof!

To be honest, faith is an excuse for either not trying to find the proof or blocking others from trying to find the proof. A la the church, which used faith to control the people.

Faith can be very dangerous!!!


02-14-2004, 09:59 AM
Hi folks,

I just wanted to pipe up and say that it's been quite interesting reading everyone's interpretation on "faith"! Yes, I left it mostly as an exercise to the reader rather than imposing a single "definition" to the term... We had a pretty good discussion about this topic on Aikido-L so I thought I'd bring it over here.

For me personally, faith is a very important part of my aikido training. Although it's not religious in nature for me, it's more philosophical and/or spiritual.

Many people here have talked about "proof" and such being contrary to "faith." For me, I've felt many things in aikido from a lot of experienced people that I personally can not reproduce myself. Yet, I keep training in the hopes that I will, some day, through training in a manner laid down by these people, be able to do at least some of them. That, to me, is a sense of "faith" in my training. To this date, I may not have any proof that I personally will be able to do something, but I keep training.

Lastly, I wrote the following on Aikido-L so I'll just copy and paste the whole paragraph:

I believe one of the principles that Ki Society folks use is (in English), "Perform with confidence." Putting aside the semantics of the word "perform," I like the word "confidence" there. From what I understand, its etymology comes from confidere, from com- + fidere (to trust, have faith in). This sense of moving with trust/faith in oneself is important, I think, after a while. I don't see many shihan out there who are questioning their own abilities, after all.

Thanks to everyone for an interesting discussion (so far)!

-- Jun

02-14-2004, 10:40 PM
My teachers are good, but they are human, not make believe creatures that hide their lucky charms at the end of rainbows.
I'll have you know that one of your teachers is a leprechaun with a glandular disorder.
"Getting the techniques right" - how do you know you are getting them right? Because they work! Proof!

To be honest, faith is an excuse for either not trying to find the proof or blocking others from trying to find the proof. A la the church, which used faith to control the people.

Faith can be very dangerous!!!
The responses of both you and Jesse struck a chord and, minor differences aside, are essentially the same. I found myself nodding vigorously and then I read Jun's post regarding confidence.

I guess faith is not so bad after all.

BUT ....

Faith/confidence in your own abilities comes with experience. I would even say that some people are just naturally more confident in themselves and get past that waffle stage quicker. The proverbial Shihan passed through long before.

We also have faith/confidence in our teachers and training partners - but as Jesse pointed out that too comes from experience.

Damm you Jun for confusing the question with etymological derivations.

I'll think I'll go back to the Jesse/Mark concept of faith being belief without proof. In that regard it has no place in Aikido.

02-15-2004, 10:32 AM
When i started training i had Hope. And Desire.And Fear.

While i still have no Proof, i most definitly now have Faith.

02-16-2004, 01:20 PM
Interesting the differing contexts that faith is being used in.

I would say that the belief in being able one day to do the technique you saw your teacher do is not faith, as you have proof that it is possible. You saw your teacher do it! You are simply striving to improve and achieve.

The discusion on this word is quite analogous really - like, "How do you do Kokyu Nage?"


02-16-2004, 02:17 PM
Hi Mark,
I would say that the belief in being able one day to do the technique you saw your teacher do is not faith, as you have proof that it is possible. You saw your teacher do it! You are simply striving to improve and achieve.
So, in other words, you may have "proof" that something can be possible, but you have to have "faith" that the training process will work for you to achieve that goal.

For example, I am currently able to juggle only three clubs. However, I have personally seen people juggling seven clubs. There is nothing that proves that I personally will be able to juggle seven pins even with the "proof" that I saw someone else do so.

Say I join this master juggler's school in order to learn how to juggle seven clubs. I see him doing so every day and I work at the exercises that he provides, but I am still stuck at three clubs. Of course, there is proof that the master juggler is able to juggle seven clubs, but is there any proof that the exercises that he provides will lead me to juggling seven clubs? Heck, even if little 14 year old Anthony were able to learn seven clubs studying under this juggling master, does that mean that I personally will?

In other words, there is no proof that I will, one day guaranteed, attain the ability to do my teacher's iriminage. Moving forward on that path, to me, requires faith. That is where my "faith" in my aikido training lies -- that the training process will get me somewhere, even if it doesn't seem like it will.

-- Jun

02-16-2004, 06:55 PM
Now we are entering the realm of possibilities - and again faith is based on experience.

Picture Jun on his first day in Juggling class - picking up and then dropping one club. The teacher is effortlessly juggling the seven clubs while sipping tea and humming Wagner. Jun is no way fathoms he could ever get so close but that student over there with three clubs - now I could do that.

A few months later (Jun is a fast learner) he's able to juggle three clubs and although not quite managing Wagner - the theme from Born Free works nicely. He hates tea. Now he might have hit a plateau (its the tea Jun) based on experience he can form a belief that he can eventually get to where he wants to go.

If as a beginner he set his sites on the Master Juggler the development of belief would probably have failed and he would have done something else - just as silly- like Aikido or something.

02-17-2004, 02:40 PM

Nice Peter. I enjoyed that, even if I am at home nursing the shoulder that went this morning when I yawned!!?? :freaky: A nearly 20 year old injury from Judo!!!

Jun, I see what you are saying, but I see that as wild fantacy! My Master threw me about effortlessly and I could never get near him - he felt like stone to touch, although he was not muscly. Maybe one day, but I have many more steps to tred before I can reach for that one with belief.

You see, you can aim for the stars, and beyond, but believing that it is possible and believing that you will get there are worlds apart.

"To see is to believe!", to not see and still believe - that is faith!



02-17-2004, 02:44 PM
I hope I made it clear that I was trying to re-iterate Peter!


04-07-2004, 10:17 AM
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary states:

"Etymology: Middle English feith, from Old French feid, foi, from Latin fides; akin to Latin fidere to trust -- more at BIDE

1 a : allegiance to duty or a person : LOYALTY b (1) : fidelity to one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions

2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust

3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs"

Personally, I stick to 1 b(1), meaning making the effort to keep my promise of practicing three times a week, and (2), meaning I try to be as sincere as possible, either as uke or nage.

No religious beliefs at all.