View Full Version : Poll: Does aikido make its practitioner into a "better" person?

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03-07-2004, 01:01 AM
AikiWeb Poll for the week of March 7, 2004:

Does aikido make its practitioner into a "better" person?

I don't do aikido

Here are the current results (http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=210).

Roger C. Marks
03-07-2004, 05:16 AM
Difficult one this. Define 'better'. Perhaps 'different' is more applicable.

03-07-2004, 05:20 AM
I voted no.

It may help you realize certain goals but a good person will remain good and a bad person will not be transformed into something different. The core remains.

03-07-2004, 10:24 AM
now we need definitions of "good person" and "bad person".

Robert Jackson
03-07-2004, 12:15 PM
In general yes, without worrying about good or bad. A person gains knowledge through life experience, school, martial arts, or any other number of things has grown. So yeah studying aikido and growing mentally, physically, or spiritually make you a better person...

Jeffrey A. Fong
03-07-2004, 12:28 PM
Wonderful question. I think Susan Perry's editorial on this in a recent, past ATM edition addressed this very well. Perry-san noted that Aikido can and often does have transformative powers, but that an individual polished by the practice of Aikido can be - how can I put it? - personally flawed, despite the exquisiteness of their "technique." As a mentor of mine once said, the map is not the territory. :do:

03-07-2004, 01:08 PM
"O-Sensei was interested in cultivating sincere human beings.

Although he had this purpose, he never forced others to act one way or another, as he understood that different people think differently. He never ordered anyone to do anything. He said that each of us must make ourselves sincere Ė that, while he could introduce us to the path, we would have to walk it for ourselves."

from an interview of Hikitsuchi Michio Sensei (1923-2004)

Nuff said.

Jessie Brown
03-07-2004, 01:15 PM
I said yes.

I don't believe, however, that Aikido drastically and fundamentally alters someone. Something to keep in mind is that Aikido is self-selecting. The people who have an affinity with Aikido, practice it with dedication, and continue to practice for many years, clearly already have some qualities. I would argue that these qualities include a desire for self-improvement, patience, belief to at least some degree in Aikido's principles (harmony, musubi, etc.), inner composure, and an openness to other people. Granted, these are goals. I'm certainly not claiming to possess all of these qualities myself. The point is that we're already looking at a very specialized group of people when we look at Aikidokas.

I would further argue that self-improvement is one of the primary reasons we do Aikido. Surely it's not ONLY for self-defense, physical grace, social connections, or stress relief! Those may be the reasons someone starts, but not why they stay. Speaking for myself, comprehensive (physical, spiritual, mental) self-improvement is the primary reason why I'm still doing Aikido. Do we not strive to harmonize mentally, physically, and spiritually with others and within ourselves? I have trained with very advanced Aikidoka and you can see the difference in their demeanor. It's not mere physical movements that improve over time. I've only been training about a year and a half, but my family, friends, and I have already observed changes. Whether those changes are improvements and make me a "better" person is an impossibly subjective question.

I hesitate to say that Aikido makes someone a better person because that claim seems vague and open to different interpretations. I would claim wholeheartedly, however, that Aikido polishes and improves what is already there. Over years, I think this gradual transformation often has results so that the person seems entirely different. Based on my philosophical beliefs, I would say that self-improvement and "polishing the mirror" does result in a better and more harmonious person.

03-07-2004, 03:04 PM
Are aikidoka "better" than non aikidoka

-either through correllation (the self selecting thing) or causation?

If yes, then why do we all see so many muppets in the aikido world, if no then why do we bother with all the hard work?

Personally I would rather have a beer with the average aikidoa, than a random member of the world (even if no aikido conversation).

Anyone out there just given birth to identical twins? We could do a study.

No offence to Mr Henson btw.



Jessie Brown
03-07-2004, 03:57 PM
Mark, you've posed some really interesting questions in your post. It's very very tricky to say whether any person is "better" than another, mostly because each person's definition of "better" varies greatly.

That said, an Aikidoka usually has more of the qualities that I value than another random person. The people I admire are not exclusively Aikidokas, however. There are other ways to develop the same qualities and achieve the same goals. Aikido never pretended to be the only path, much less the only "right" or "true" path.

This generality does not account, however, for differences of personality. For example, I could find someone's sense of humor obnoxious or their manners could grate on my nerves. There are an infinite number of reasons why one person doesn't personally mesh with another.

I would have to agree that there are less than admirable people in Aikido. Some people I may not like because of their personality, but some I don't like because of something more substantial. Here I can only say that it's possible to do Aikido for many reasons. Someone else's reasons may not be the same as mine. If that person thinks that the principles of Aikido are ridiculous and acts accordingly, then chances are that I wouldn't like him. I generally believe, however, that you can only go so far in Aikido without believing in the principles somewhat (:ai: :ki:). So, a short response to your answer would be that I find a higher percentage of admirable people the more they do Aikido (duration and quality of training), although I still don't get along with some of them personally.


Jessie Brown
03-07-2004, 03:58 PM
Oops! That :ai: :ki:) was supposed to have been :ai: :ki:

Ghost Fox
03-08-2004, 06:56 AM
I voted no. I think Aikido can make you more introspective as you try to realize why certain techniques are eluding you, but what you do with this knowledge is up to the individual.

I've been studying Aikido for 7 years now, and in that time a lot of my flaws have come to the surface, anger, self doubt, disassociative tendencies, etc... All these flaws show up in my technique, lack of Aiki, posture, lack of connection, etc... As I to improve my technique, hopefully Iím improving my spirit. Iím a better person for practicing Aikido, I donít know, I hope.

I do think Aikido could benefit from more Chinkonkishin, Misogi and Zazen, as well as more instructors dedicated to the Aikido as a spiritual path, but thatís just my opinion.

03-08-2004, 08:22 AM
I voted no.

It may help you realize certain goals but a good person will remain good and a bad person will not be transformed into something different. The core remains.
Hi Peter,

I would rather say that aikido makes a good person even better, and turns bad persons into monsters :)

In some persons aikido seems to cultivate humility and humane qualities while in others it seems to exacerbate their greed, megalomania and lust for power.

I can give many examples of the second category.



03-08-2004, 09:01 AM
No. Aikido provides an opportunity to "better" one's self, but it does not in and of itself make its practitioners in a "better" person.

Janet Rosen
03-08-2004, 11:52 AM
oh, jeez, Lynn, I seem to be following you this morning--guess I better get up earlier. I was scrolling down the page in order to say: I voted no because we become better people because of things inside us/work we do. Aikido is simply a process some of us use to work it. So aikido has that possibility, but only if the person wants to take advantage of it.

Michael Neal
03-08-2004, 02:15 PM
If the question was worded

CAN aikido make its practitioner into a "better" person?

rather than

DOES aikido make its practitioner into a "better" person?

I would have said yes, but no to the original question.

03-08-2004, 07:24 PM
I would rather say that aikido makes a good person even better, and turns bad persons into monsters :)
I would kill for a smiley with fangs right about now. evileyes

Very true.

Jamie Stokes
03-09-2004, 01:09 AM
Greetings all,

After reading the postings, and a few moments quiet thought, i would vote no.

Just because somebody is an aikidoka for any Length of time doesn't mean they have become a better person.

While someone may be polite and respectful on the mat, doesn't mean they aren't an a**hole in traffic, or have those little struggles and emotions that all humans have ie pettiness, jealousy, selfishness, plain old pigheadedness and so forth.

Does (insert sport of choice) make them a better person?

Like, say tiddly winks, or water ski-ing?

You are what you choose to be.

My 4.56 yens worth.

warmest regards,


Hanna B
03-10-2004, 05:56 PM
Better than what? Better than non-aikido people, or better than you yourself were a year ago?

I think aikido can be a way of growing, but so can horse riding.

Aikido can be used to develop into a better person. Aikido can be used for the opposite. It has no magic powers in itself.

So, my vote is a big fat no.

Ghost Fox
03-11-2004, 06:51 AM
Has Aikido made you personally into a better person?

Hanna B
03-11-2004, 08:27 AM
Has Aikido made you personally into a better person?How could I know, what parts of my developments the last years are due to my aikido training, and what is not! How could you know, about yourself?

As long as people are preaching that aikido makes you a better person, then some people will happily say that how they've grown as individuals are due to their aikido training. Who knows, maybe they had become even better people if they did casting instead?

I have met enough of mean and single-minded people in the aikido world. Interestingly, most of them like to lecture on personal development through training in aikido.

04-06-2004, 09:27 AM
Let's stick to the origin.

O Sensei was very, very stict when deciding which candidates to allow into his Dojo (they even had to be recommended by at least two known honorable persons).

He himself said he was concerned aikido could fall into the hands of villains.

04-06-2004, 07:36 PM
Let's stick to the origin.

O Sensei was very, very stict when deciding which candidates to allow into his Dojo (they even had to be recommended by at least two known honorable persons).

He himself said he was concerned aikido could fall into the hands of villains.
True but a few villains got in anyway.

Charles Hill
04-07-2004, 03:50 AM
I think it depends on how one defines "Aikido." Most people seem to use the word to describe a certain way of doing martial techniques. If that is your definition, then I definitely think that it is highly unlikely to improve your life.

In reading the Founder`s words or listening to his lectures, I think it is clear that he meant for the art to help people better themselves. I also think that it can be logically argued that if one does not become a better person, that person is not doing Aikido.

All of the "do" arts have at their core the intention to develop better people. Terry Dobson, a live in student at the Aikikai Honbu Dojo while the Founder was alive, wrote that Aikido saved his life, meaning that he definitely became a better person through Aikido. His book "It`s a lot like dancing.." has been very inspiring to me.

Charles Hill

04-07-2004, 08:44 AM
True but a few villains got in anyway.

dan guthrie
04-07-2004, 08:57 AM
Yes. It has reminded me of the manners and respect my Mom and Dad tried to instill in me as a child. Let's just say I've embarrassed myself like fart in church but I'm learning.

I also believe Aikido attracts a specific anti violent type of personality, whether the individual is a jerk or not.

"Associate not with evil men, lest you increase their number." I believe this statement also works in it's opposite form.

Clark Elliott
07-18-2004, 04:07 AM
If someone believes that Aikido is a spiritual discipline, a Path to Enlightenment (as I feel the Founder believed) then being Awake is 'better' than being asleep!