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*Aiki*Jimmy_yan
04-06-2004, 11:29 PM
Hey i recently skipped 8th kyu and now im 7th kyu... It is red belt with a black stripe. Hey does anyone else's dojo have black stripes on belts? and if so, how do u wash the belt without soaking the stripe?

taras
04-07-2004, 03:07 AM
I haven't heard of black stripes on a belt, but why do you need to wash a belt in the first place?

drDalek
04-07-2004, 03:48 AM
<cut> why do you need to wash a belt in the first place?
I regularly manage to soak my belt with sweat and some mats are dirtier than others, the fact that the belt is a piece of canvas which is folded over many times then stitched means that there is a lot of layering that can trap dirt and give a place for bacteria to grow.

I know many people believe that its the accumulation of dirt on a belt which has historically been the reason for the different rank colors but I would rather not play with any dirt-dans due to health concerns.

Richard Cardwell
04-07-2004, 06:33 AM
The dirt/belt thing is interesting- there was a debate here a while ago. The consensus seemed to be that while it was a nice enough story, it's unlikely that a culture so concerned with cleanliness would have encouraged it. Plus, the reliance on grading is something influenced more by the West as far as I've heard. I'm a newbie, so I'm open to correction!

GLWeeks
04-07-2004, 07:01 AM
Hehehe... In my dojo, we all are a white belt until Shodan. We don't wash our belts and we joke about our belts turning black.

DarkShodan
04-07-2004, 08:42 AM
Our dojo has 4th kyu as a yellow belt with a black stripe. I think it is taken after Judo ranks, but I am not sure.

I have also heard the 'black' comes from years of training without washing your belt.

I was also told it's bad luck to wash your belt. It may be an urban myth, but it works in my dojo.

I've washed my white belt once, due to a certain bathroom incident it was necessary. :blush:

Ian Rogers
04-07-2004, 09:54 AM
Don't wash away the Kami of the Belt!

Nourish it and feed it with the Ki you produce in practice. Then, when you grade, pass it on to someone else - they will benefit from the hard work that you have put in.

Well, that's my view, wonky though it may be.

Best wishes

Ian

PS I don't think you can catch anything too life-threatening from a mucky belt.

Janet Rosen
04-07-2004, 10:57 AM
Put me, the former public health nurse, as solidly in the "of course you wash your belt" camp. We sweat, we roll around on mats that people walk on, we aim to get on the mat with clean hands and feet and keikogi so why is it ok to wear a filthy belt?

willy_lee
04-07-2004, 11:56 AM
The only reason I don't wash my belt everytime I wash my gi is that I worry about it shrinking, and it doesn't seem to get nearly as sweaty/dirty as my gi.

The bit about the accumulation of dirt being the origin of colored belts has been well debunked, both here and other places. Please don't keep spreading this story around.

It's nice to have traditions regarding passing belts on, but please, wash them first. If "ki" can be washed out of a belt with soap and water, there can't be too much to it, can there?

=wl

p00kiethebear
04-07-2004, 05:29 PM
Our dojo has white and black.

I never wash my white belt. I let the dirt and sweat and blood build up on it. When the belt is black from all that. Then i will take my shodan test.
The only reason I don't wash my belt everytime I wash my gi is that I worry about it shrinking, and it doesn't seem to get nearly as sweaty/dirty as my gi.
If you hand wash it in cold water it should be fine. Let it air dry though.

thatoldfool
04-07-2004, 07:29 PM
I've had people from Japan tell me that the "myth" about belts turning dark from use isn't a myth. I believe them, and am not convinced that the belt colour story is something we made up.

Furthermore, in terms of "health" issues...i've been an avid camper for years, have spent numerous summers on farms, and once upon a time spent three years in cadets.

I live in the city at the moment, but all my country friends laugh at us city folk, who believe that all "dirt" is "dirty" - dirty, meaning somehow dangerous. If you've ever been camping, you know that you'll probably accidently have some dirt mixed in with your food sometimes - it's no big deal.

However:

Don't eat off your belt. Don't lick your belt. Wash your hands after training.

Voila, tradition is preserved, and you're just as clean (if not cleaner), than when you stepped onto the mat.

Exactly what health risks does a sweaty belt pose, anyway? Ok, bacteria - but what bacteria exactly?

willy_lee
04-07-2004, 07:52 PM
I've had people from Japan tell me that the "myth" about belts turning dark from use isn't a myth. I believe them, and am not convinced that the belt colour story is something we made up.Arggh....

Let me just say that just because someone is from Japan doesn't mean that they know the first thing about the history of Japanese martial arts -- and I am sure that Japanese people get just as much exposure to urban legends as anyone else.

Look up the various discussions that have already taken place, here and many other places, and make the decision for yourself.

As for the health risks, are you seriously suggesting that a white cloth belt that has turned black from accumulated grime is something that you would feel comfortable training with?

=wl

Noel
04-07-2004, 08:08 PM
I've heard enough stories from people who've trained in Japan about stinky belts. Mine is currently in the wash with the rest of my dogi.

If the darn thing shrinks too much, another 5 to 10 bucks isn't going to kill me. Besides, I worry more about my waist expanding than my belt shrinking, and with some reason, too :o

p00kiethebear
04-07-2004, 09:49 PM
I've had people from Japan tell me that the "myth" about belts turning dark from use isn't a myth. I believe them, and am not convinced that the belt colour story is something we made up.
I think that claim is reasonable. After two years of training my belt is absolutely filthy with a few blood stains on it to go along with the sweat. It's definitely a few shades darker than the white that it came as.

akiy
04-07-2004, 10:04 PM
Let me just say that just because someone is from Japan doesn't mean that they know the first thing about the history of Japanese martial arts -- and I am sure that Japanese people get just as much exposure to urban legends as anyone else.
Yup. Just because we're Japanese doesn't mean some of us can believe some silly things at times.

I throw my belt into the wash. If it gets too ratty looking, I'll just get a new one -- just like the rest of my dogi. I don't have any attachments to the thing, I guess; it's just a piece of cloth, after all. It's not like my aikido is any better or worse for wearing or not wearing it.

-- Jun, who wore a white belt from "lost and found" tonight since my usual belt was forgotten at home...

Largo
04-07-2004, 10:24 PM
I don't wash my belt. When I was in Karate, I didn't have any purple clothes to wash it with. (and my gf accidentally washed it with my gi once, making my training hell).

However, I do know a certain shodan who, upon getting his black belt immeadiatly washed it about 20 times to give it a "worn" look.

Personally, I'm with the guy who says that if you don't eat off it or lick it, you'll be fine.

willy_lee
04-07-2004, 10:43 PM
I think that claim is reasonable. After two years of training my belt is absolutely filthy with a few blood stains on it to go along with the sweat. It's definitely a few shades darker than the white that it came as.*throws hands up in despair*

Nathan, just because you plan to keep a grungy, filthy belt all the way to shodan, does not make the myth of the black belt being black from dirt a reasonable one. Just think about it for a minute and see if you can imagine Jigoro Kano or Morihei Ueshiba encouraging their students to wear the same filthy, ratty belt to class each day. Remember, Ueshiba was the guy who yelled at Saotome (IIRC) for daring to get on the mat in just his keikogi, without hakama.

=wl

*Aiki*Jimmy_yan
04-08-2004, 12:10 AM
so.. back to the subject... will the black stipe soak if i wash it?

Largo
04-08-2004, 12:23 AM
It should depend on the quality of the dye job. Some belts leave stains on gis and run. some don't. It could also depend on your washer setting and detergent. (I'd just leave it alone if I was you.)

*Aiki*Jimmy_yan
04-08-2004, 12:25 AM
um... the black stripe is a piece of very very very strong sticky tap hehe

Largo
04-08-2004, 12:27 AM
What! I thought it was dyed. If it is tape then it will either come off or lose it's stickiness in the machine.

Think about it like this. Do you wash a normal belt? (I don't)

Ian Upstone
04-08-2004, 02:16 AM
Hey Jimmy!

Unless you plan on wearing this same belt for the long term, washing it shouldn't be an issue, as by the time it gets too skanky, you should be onto another belt by then!

If you want or indeed need to wash the belt before you replace it, then perhaps you could hand wash only the middle section as that's the bit that gets sweaty? (I'm assuming the stripes are on the ends)

For the record I'm a non-belt washer, but after reading a few of these posts now, I'm starting to look at my belt with uneasy suspicion...

PeterR
04-08-2004, 03:35 AM
I've never washed my belt - I've had it for five years.

Oh sure - we've had the odd wrestling match - but its never won.

p00kiethebear
04-08-2004, 04:53 AM
Just think about it for a minute and see if you can imagine Jigoro Kano or Morihei Ueshiba encouraging their students to wear the same filthy, ratty belt to class each day. Remember, Ueshiba was the guy who yelled at Saotome (IIRC) for daring to get on the mat in just his keikogi, without hakama.
They way i heard it, it was only like that for karatedoka in okinawa O.o
um... the black stripe is a piece of very very very strong sticky tap hehe
If it comes off, then can't you just tape another one on or over it? Honestly ask yourself if it NEEDS to be washed.

Magma
04-08-2004, 07:53 AM
You don't wash your belt.

That's like taking your academic records home and burning them because eventually they might be a place for insects to nest otherwise.

*rolls eyes*

So long as the belt can dry out after a workout, there really isn't a problem/worry of bacteria, IMO.

Rather, for these places where the mats are described as "less clean than others," leading to the dirt and grime on the belt... um, I'd say that those dojo have *bigger* problems than what to do with their belts. The mats should be clean.

Anyway, I put washing one's belt right up there with putting one's belt on the floor. You just don't do those sorts of things.

DarkShodan
04-08-2004, 10:12 AM
I don't wear a belt. After my last test my instructor said I do not deserve to wear ANY belt. Ever wear a hakama with suspenders? It sucks.

:D

BC
04-08-2004, 12:12 PM
I wash my belt occasionally. Mainly because I sweat a lot during practice, and it starts to stink. When it starts to stink, I wash it. I don't lose any knowledge, abilities or "ki" after I wash it.

Stuart Mckay
04-08-2004, 12:21 PM
a belt is basically to hold ur gi closed, i threw mine in the wash every time after i trained to soften it up, now i just throw it in the wash every so often, ironing it helps soften it aswell.

In my dojo we all just where white belts till shodan so its nice to blined sensei with our dazzling bright white belts and gi's.

:p

Chad Sloman
04-08-2004, 12:47 PM
to attempt to answer the question...

in my aikido dojo all we have is white and black, but in my karate dojo we do have what you're talking about. I believe the easiest way (what most people do) is just to use black electrical tape. When you wash it, just throw the tape away and replace it when dry. Or other people will use a black magic marker to make the stripes on their belt which won't wash out so easily, plus you can always go back over it if it fades.

shihonage
04-08-2004, 01:39 PM
So many people with filthy belts :eek:

Hey guys I don't bathe because bathing is like discarding the entire 24 hours of accumulating dust and sweat on the surface of my body.

I wouldn't want the precious dust to go to waste. It develops character.

Also, people can tell I have strong character because they all seem to keep a long distance from me.

dan guthrie
04-08-2004, 03:58 PM
This used to work for me, soak the belt in straight, white vinegar before you wash it. The colors shouldn't bleed at all.

JiuJitsuka87
04-08-2004, 04:09 PM
If your mats and partners are clean, how does your belt get dirty other than a little blood and sweat. Don't worry, Love, the blood will dry and the sweat will evaporate. Just dry it. I haven't gotten ringworm yet :-D

Doka
04-08-2004, 05:46 PM
Put me, the former public health nurse, as solidly in the "of course you wash your belt" camp. We sweat, we roll around on mats that people walk on, we aim to get on the mat with clean hands and feet and keikogi so why is it ok to wear a filthy belt?
Spirit, tradition, honour!

Also, I may sweat into my Gi, but my Obi is not next to my skin. I have never washed any belt I have had in any of the arts I have practiced. No-one has ever commented of the filth of my Obi, or that it smells!!!

Why worry?

:ai:

PeterR
04-08-2004, 07:02 PM
Nothing about Spirit, tradition, honour - I just never bothered. ;)

As Mark said in the rest of his post.

I check last night my Obi doesn't smell.

*Aiki*Jimmy_yan
04-08-2004, 09:16 PM
If you want or indeed need to wash the belt before you replace it, then perhaps you could hand wash only the middle section as that's the bit that gets sweaty? (I'm assuming the stripes are on the ends)
:freaky: how do i wash the middle section without touching the stripes?

*Aiki*Jimmy_yan
04-08-2004, 09:19 PM
to attempt to answer the question...

in my aikido dojo all we have is white and black, but in my karate dojo we do have what you're talking about. I believe the easiest way (what most people do) is just to use black electrical tape. When you wash it, just throw the tape away and replace it when dry. Or other people will use a black magic marker to make the stripes on their belt which won't wash out so easily, plus you can always go back over it if it fades.
great idea!!! :D

*Aiki*Jimmy_yan
04-08-2004, 09:21 PM
I don't wear a belt. After my last test my instructor said I do not deserve to wear ANY belt. Ever wear a hakama with suspenders? It sucks.

:D
:freaky: woah your sensei is harsh! :eek:

willy_lee
04-09-2004, 11:05 AM
They way i heard it, it was only like that for karatedoka in okinawaNathan, karate adopted the belt system from judo. There was no tradition involving gradually dirtier belts, either in Okinawa, Japan, Korea, or China.

Look, this whole thing is pretty simple. Wash it if it's dirty, don't bother if it isn't. If you need to wash it and you're worried about dye running, vinegar and cold water wash should work, as DanG said. Cold water should help with shrinking also.

But don't go around thinking that there's some tradition or mystery around your belt; it's just a piece of cloth signifying rank.
Anyway, I put washing one's belt right up there with putting one's belt on the floor. You just don't do those sorts of things. What's wrong with putting your belt on the floor? It touches the mat, doesn't it?

=wl

shadowbrooke
04-10-2004, 09:43 AM
Ok, if you guys and gals are worried about not having your belt turn black with grime, loosing your Ki, depleting valuable skills in the washer/dryer, loosing the kewl blood stains and so forth - I have the sanitary solution:

PUT IT IN THE FREEZER!!!!!

You still kill all the germs and bacteria WHILE still keeping all the grime on there...don't know why you would want to keep it there but I am afraid to ask, some funky people here :confused:

Have a good one and don't forget to throw your pillow in there every so often, you would be supriced what hides in there!

Per

Jeanne Shepard
04-10-2004, 07:45 PM
I throw mine in the wash, otherwise I lose it at the laundromat.

Jeanne

Janet Rosen
04-11-2004, 12:10 AM
Realize the post was in humor, but for the sake of those who may be gullible: home freezers do NOT kill bacteria.

Magma
04-11-2004, 08:08 AM
Willy,

It seems that your main point is that there is no "magic" that would be washed out of the belt if we threw it into the washing machine.

I just want to make sure that you do not misinterpret my point. Just because I advocate not washing one's belt does not mean that I think that the magic and ability will wash out of the belt. That's silly, and poor arguing if you attribute viewpoint to me.

I oppose belt-washing simply on grounds of respect. Same with setting the belt on the floor... if you can't see the differences between wearing the belt when it touches the mat and taking the belt off and letting it *lie* on the floor, then I doubt whether in this medium I could explain the reasoning.

That someone would enter into an activity where out of respect or tradition certain sorts of clothes are worn... that someone would go *that* far but not take the next step and actually respect and be aware of that clothing... makes no sense to me.

Argue for washing the belt, or leaving it on the ground, saying that that tradition is silly, while going around in traditional japanese undergarments.

Right.

Janet Rosen
04-11-2004, 02:18 PM
I oppose belt-washing simply on grounds of respect.
Tim, I'm not Willy...but I'm really confused. How does not washing something show respect for it? In the 3 dojo I've been a member of, it was considered important to keep the mats, floors, and shomen clean, not to mention our bodies and our keikogi, and nobody in any of these places ever suggested or stated that somehow belts were in a different category. So, for the sake of clarity: Is this the case where you train? If so, please understand that what we have here is a simple case of YMMV and letting it be...

cuguacuarana
04-11-2004, 04:00 PM
I don't know whether the story is true or not. I don't really care for that matter. I think its kind of cool though. As for my belt, if it gets rank I'll probably wash it out of respect fot the people I train with. Otherwise, I'll leave it alone. In my dojo, we wear white until shodan and I like the idea of practicing so much that my belt turns darker. I will consider it something of an accomplishment. Homma sensei of nippon kan (one of O-sensei's last uchi deshi) once wrote an article about how it used to be considered an honor to have worn an unbleached hemp gi white with hours of practice. That is why I bought an unbleached gi. when it is tattered, and white with use, I will know I have been practicing for a while.

Robert Cowham
04-11-2004, 05:20 PM
I've always fancied one of those really tattered black belts, but reckon I'd better not shortcut the process by washing mine with rocks or similar, or I might suffer for it at a seminar!

These things never change. Reminds me of the story my grandfather told of his time in the navy in the first world war. He and 4 friends started a clay pipe club. The idea being that you started with a pristine pipe, and then smoked it until it aged nicely. The most gullible friend promptly smoked himself sick, whereupon the others confessed to soaking theirs in neat rum (those were the days of the rum ration), for the desired effect.

Robert

William Westdyke
04-11-2004, 07:09 PM
I am also a non-belt washer and to be honest it's just because I like the look of my belt with all the smudges and stuff on it. I don't think it helps my Aikido any, but when I take it off it and look at it, it reminds me of how hard I've worked to get to the point I'm at. I am also with Tim in that I don't put my belt on the floor. I really don't know why, it just seems kinda sac-religious. Like washing a belt.

Chris Li
04-11-2004, 07:50 PM
I oppose belt-washing simply on grounds of respect. Same with setting the belt on the floor... if you can't see the differences between wearing the belt when it touches the mat and taking the belt off and letting it *lie* on the floor, then I doubt whether in this medium I could explain the reasoning.
Would you oppose washing your gym socks out of "respect"?
That someone would enter into an activity where out of respect or tradition certain sorts of clothes are worn... that someone would go *that* far but not take the next step and actually respect and be aware of that clothing... makes no sense to me.

Argue for washing the belt, or leaving it on the ground, saying that that tradition is silly, while going around in traditional japanese undergarments.
Nothing "traditional" about them. Jigoro Kano devised the keikogi as a modern version of street clothing that could be practiced in easily - exactly the same reasoning behind the western sweatsuit. The current form of the keikogi is less than a hundred years old.

Best,

Chris

thatoldfool
04-11-2004, 09:16 PM
Would you oppose washing your gym socks out of "respect"?
False analogy.

Sports are sports, whose purpose is "sporting." Perhaps some have "lucky" uniforms etc, there is no history or tradition to value certain things, like socks or uniforms, in a spiritual or ritualized manner.

Although some Aikido styles might, i'd wager many if not most people do not consider aikido a sport, but a martial art.

For those that *do* treat it as something more than a sport, the objects of your trade/art/religion take on a special significance, and taken in that light, I don't think it's surprising at all that someone treat their belt, or their uniform, with respect.

As I have spent several years in contact with the militia, and in armories and on bases, I can tell you this is not some "new" idea - the same notions might be found associated to a Company's cap brass in terms of honour and respect, or a smartly starched and ironed uniform, that has permanent creases due to years of ironing - or simply a pair of boots someone has spent years polishing to perfection. As one warrant officer told me, your uniform represents what you stand for, the company, the corps, or the military as a whole - that's why you treat it with respect.

Same with aikido - as I mentioned before, I too am of the non-belt washing group, because to me, it represents both my martial art, and my personal progress. Out of respect for the art, and those who came before and built this amazing, worldwide, web of Aikido, I treat my uniform with respect.

Now you might retort that "if your uniform represents your art, isn't a used belt disrespectful?" It might be - if I went and smeared it with mud, for example. But since it is stained with the marks made by me, by my progress over the years, I think the situation is different.

To each his own - but a dirty pair of gym socks, and a worn obi, are not the same thing.

Chris Li
04-11-2004, 10:06 PM
False analogy.

Sports are sports, whose purpose is "sporting." Perhaps some have "lucky" uniforms etc, there is no history or tradition to value certain things, like socks or uniforms, in a spiritual or ritualized manner.

Although some Aikido styles might, i'd wager many if not most people do not consider aikido a sport, but a martial art.

For those that *do* treat it as something more than a sport, the objects of your trade/art/religion take on a special significance, and taken in that light, I don't think it's surprising at all that someone treat their belt, or their uniform, with respect.

As I have spent several years in contact with the militia, and in armories and on bases, I can tell you this is not some "new" idea - the same notions might be found associated to a Company's cap brass in terms of honour and respect, or a smartly starched and ironed uniform, that has permanent creases due to years of ironing - or simply a pair of boots someone has spent years polishing to perfection. As one warrant officer told me, your uniform represents what you stand for, the company, the corps, or the military as a whole - that's why you treat it with respect.
To borrow a phrase, "a false analogy" :). A belt is not a dress uniform, it's training gear. Training gear in the military is used in a practical manner, and not in the same was as, for example, "a pair of boots someone has spent years polishing to perfection".
Same with aikido - as I mentioned before, I too am of the non-belt washing group, because to me, it represents both my martial art, and my personal progress. Out of respect for the art, and those who came before and built this amazing, worldwide, web of Aikido, I treat my uniform with respect.
I keep my training gear clean. Other than that my training has little to do with what I'm wearing. My point was that the "tradition" of the training uniform is both recent and artificial. Keikogi have been around less than a hundred years - "traditionally" people trained in their regular clothing. I wonder if they refrained from washing that out of "respect" for their art.

Best,

Chris

PeterR
04-11-2004, 11:15 PM
As I mentioned I am of the lazy group. There just never has been a need - not like my gym socks.

However, for the life of me I can't understand how washing something, if I was so inclined, could be disrespectful. Proper care of your equipment - I do wash my dogi regularly but like my gym socks there definitely is a need.

To diverge a little bit from Chris' point of view - I would like to hold onto my obi for awhile. It was a personal gift from Shihan after the end of a trying period. I would be unhappy if I lost it but eventually it will be retired to my box of collectibles. Lots of washings would probably make that happen sooner than I would like.

Chuck Clark
04-12-2004, 12:08 AM
To diverge a little bit from Chris' point of view - I would like to hold onto my obi for awhile. It was a personal gift from Shihan after the end of a trying period.
I've had a couple of judo obi that I felt attached to for similar reasons. The last one was given to me by Isao Inokuma after he tore mine in half during newaza in 1969. I wore that obi for about 25 years before I retired it.

Now I wear an iaido obi under my hakama and wash it about once a month. I wore dogi out in the "old days" before I got attached to them. These days the washing machine wears them out faster than I do.

I respect my training gear because it serves me well and I take care of it because I was taught that many years ago and it's part of the practice. I don't go overboard with any "mystical" properties connected with it though.

In my own dojo I hang up my hakama so it'll dry and when traveling, I fold it (standing up with it on my chest) before I put it in the furoshiki or bag.

PeterR
04-12-2004, 12:38 AM
I respect my training gear because it serves me well and I take care of it because I was taught that many years ago and it's part of the practice. I don't go overboard with any "mystical" properties connected with it though.
Which is what I think Chris was getting on about. As you know, over here some wash their obi and some don't although I wonder if there are Aikido dojos or even other martial arts in Japan that consider these mystical properties or "respect" quite in the same way as one runs to in the West.

I really don't know. The extreme examples (and I am thinking about one Karate dojo in particular) I would think tend to be found elsewhere.

Basically what's important are clean well maintained equipement, and clean well maintained toe and finger nails.

Oh yeah and guys don't wear tee shirts - ever. ;)

Chris Li
04-12-2004, 01:12 AM
Which is what I think Chris was getting on about. As you know, over here some wash their obi and some don't although I wonder if there are Aikido dojos or even other martial arts in Japan that consider these mystical properties or "respect" quite in the same way as one runs to in the West.
My personal experience is that Japanese people, despite often waxing romantic, are basically fairly pragmatic. It wouldn't surprise me at all to hear a Japanese person ramble on about mystical respect for the belt and then go home and throw it in the laundry.
Oh yeah and guys don't wear tee shirts - ever. ;)
I trained at one dojo in Japan where all of the guys wore undershirts (actually, the cotton undergarment you wear under a kimono) in order to soak up the sweat. I didn't quite sneer at them though - the instructor was a regional champion in the Kyokushinkai before he started Aikido :).

Best,

Chris

willy_lee
04-12-2004, 12:03 PM
Willy,

It seems that your main point is that there is no "magic" that would be washed out of the belt if we threw it into the washing machine. My point was not just that there is no "magic", but that there is no deep, ancient tradition involving the belt, or the keikogi for that matter. As other people have now mentioned.

Personally I respect my training gear by keeping my gi clean, folding it neatly, and tying my belt neatly around it. I also sand any burrs off training weapons and rub beeswax on any made of wood or leather. As I said, I don't actually wash my belt very much. But I don't worry about it lying about on a clean floor while I fold my gi (also on the floor).

Regarding T-shirts -- I sometimes wear UnderArmour ones in hot weather, or when my upper arms have been rubbed raw.

=wl

Magma
04-12-2004, 12:49 PM
Willy, I think what you and others miss is that it does not matter if the tradition is ancient or not. If an aspect of training or an activity focuses you more and serves as a reminder of respect, duty, honor, and the betterment of the self, then we should suffer such things.

This really comes from the notion of how to treat a belt, starting with the fact that one never puts one's belt on the floor. That is a matter of respect, a new way we shape ourselves by not letting our minds be inattentive. In other words, *this* is (your/my) belt, keep it and treat it with respect. It is not so different from the analogy of military ranks given before... that such time and attention is given to polishing, etc.

This is not just an aikido notion. Having trained in other arts, I can tell you this notion is pervasive in many if not all of them: you simply do not put/lay/leave your belt on the ground.

I know you don't agree with that rule, but keeping a belt off the ground is only the first step, IMO. You are not ready to accept that rigor of training, that demand for mental discipline, but that is really up to you and what you are willing to accept out of yourself.

I do not lay my belt on the ground out of respect for it, my instructor and those that have gone before, and the art.

I do not wash my belt also because of respect, but also because I value that symbol of my training.

So, how important are symbols? Do we need them anymore? Apparently less and less if we are willing to treat our belts - tangible symbols of our rank and participation in this art that we tie on ourselves before every class - with as little regard as gym socks.

(I am sorry for the comment that was made regarding gym socks. To the person that said that, you and I value widely disparate aspects of our training, and I simply cannot compare my time on the mats with time in the gym. I am sorry if you can.)

If you do not think that symbol and metaphor are important parts of our learning and, indeed, of aikido, then I invite you to rethink your approach to the art and discover that the symbology and metaphor is already there. How many of us have actually used aikido in a fight? And of those, how often? The answer is, of course, a fraction of a fraction. And yet there is this notion of aikido-in-every-day-life, an evening of the keel, so to speak. What is that but a symbol? Aikido is a vehicle, carrying the message of unified effort and harmonious resolution into all the aspects of life. From interpersonal relationships to work to driving to life in general.

Aikido is a metaphor. We treat that metaphor with respect - we *learn* from it - if we are willing to apply it to our lives. How much more might we learn respecting the other metaphors that surround the art?

...it just happens that our belts are one of these other metaphors.

Chris Li
04-12-2004, 01:53 PM
(I am sorry for the comment that was made regarding gym socks. To the person that said that, you and I value widely disparate aspects of our training, and I simply cannot compare my time on the mats with time in the gym. I am sorry if you can.)
I would say that it's not that I can compare my time on the mats with time in the gym, it's that you can compare your training with a piece of cloth :).

I wouldn't put my belt on the floor if the floor were dirty, but I wouldn't put my t-shirt there either...

As I said there is no real basis for justifying this as a "traditional" custom historically. If you feel the need to make up and perpetuate modern "traditions" to show respect for your training then I wish you luck. I don't really see the need.

Best,

Chris

willy_lee
04-12-2004, 01:55 PM
Willy, I think what you and others miss is that it does not matter if the tradition is ancient or not. Ok, age of tradition doesn't matter. What about who started it? I mean, what if someone made up a "tradition" and told it to you as a gag? If you don't think that's ever happened, I've got a [obvious sucker's deal] right here.... :)

Look, it's obviously an important symbol/metaphor to you. To me it's just a cloth belt. It may have some symbolic baggage due to memories of training in it, who gave it to me, etc. But it has essentially no bearing on my training. Any special training on mindfulness regarding treatment of my belt could just as well be done on any other object -- in fact better to use mindfulness in treatment of all objects, especially those I come into contact with more often than my belt in daily life. But if you want to use your belt, that's fine with me. No need for a tall equine here.

=wl

Don_Modesto
04-12-2004, 02:25 PM
....I would like to hold onto my obi for awhile....Lots of washings would probably make that happen sooner than I would like.
Ya think?

But doesn't the salt in sweat crystalize turning every thread into sand paper if it remains unwashed?

Doka
04-12-2004, 05:49 PM
Funnily enough, I don't find that my obi gets sweaty! It is outside of my gi and mostly inside of my hakama!

I don't wash my belt, but then again if you don't hold any importance to not washing it, then fine. People get so worked up about people not doing things that they see as important. I know yudanska aikidoka that throw their obi, gi and hakama screwed up in their bag (has a few more than 7 folds :) ), and then others that obsessively fold, tie, etc.

Why don't I wash my obi? Well it gets used a lot, but it doesn't smell! Also, when I started judo way back, I was told about the "tradition" of not washing your obi, then again at karate dojo, and of course, aikido dojo. Really, I see my training as polishing my obi and washing it as tarnishing it. It might be silly to some, but washing it, to me, takes something away from it.

:ai:

PeterR
04-12-2004, 07:31 PM
Ya think?

But doesn't the salt in sweat crystalize turning every thread into sand paper if it remains unwashed?
Don Don you know I don't sweat in the dojo. I gracefully move around while playing cymbals but sweat - never.

My obi seldom gets damp - I think the double weave dogi takes care of that and besides salt crystals are nothing compared to the rigors of the modern washing machine.

My obi is very soft.

Josh Bisker
04-12-2004, 07:54 PM
I mean, what if someone made up a "tradition" and told it to you as a gag?

=wl
I'm sorry for not being exactly topical, but building off of this, has anyone seen pictures of the (please forgive me) hysterically funny-looking Imperial hats? The tall, weird, black bootlike things with the little chinstrap that the Emperor and the court wears (Shoguns too)? It's got no origin that anyone can account for, but is assumed to be another adopted relic of mainland tradition from the era of Shotoku Taishi; my Japanese History Sensei's theory is that the ambassadors from the mainland just tied their boots to their heads with the laces right before meeting with ol' Shotoku, just to screw with him, and that the Chinese Emperor has been laughing about it for centuries. Ahh, tradition.

willy_lee
04-12-2004, 09:07 PM
my Japanese History Sensei's theory is that the ambassadors from the mainland just tied their boots to their heads with the laces right before meeting with ol' Shotoku, just to screw with him, and that the Chinese Emperor has been laughing about it for centuries. Ahh, tradition.ROFL -- that's priceless, even if it turns out to be untrue.

When I got married, I was told to carry my wife on my back around the table three times; I was told it was part of an ancient traditional wedding. What the hell, I thought, I'm all dressed up in this funny suit anyway. Didn't think too much of the family friends cracking up hysterically in the front row, though.

=wl

Chris Li
04-12-2004, 09:21 PM
My obi seldom gets damp - I think the double weave dogi takes care of that and besides salt crystals are nothing compared to the rigors of the modern washing machine.
It varies, I think - my obi is almost always at least damp after class, and often quite wet (I'm not good at much, but I sure can sweat).

Actually, it's been my experience that most of the wear comes from the dryer - line dried dogi last much longer (but tend to chafe my baby soft skin).

Best,

Chris

akiy
04-12-2004, 09:54 PM
Funnily enough, I don't find that my obi gets sweaty! It is outside of my gi and mostly inside of my hakama!
Maybe I tend to sweat more than you, but I often have both layers of my belt soaked through after class. I've even had the koshiita in my hakama soaked through, too...

-- Jun

Magma
04-13-2004, 10:31 AM
Mark Dobro - very well stated regarding your training being the polishing and the washing being the tarnishing of your belt. I agree.

Willy, Chris Li -

As you say, we each value what we value. I cannot help that I see no value in the option you describe, however. It is as if you want to learn Aikido, but you do not want to use Aikido to learn.

Those two things are not the same.

As for the gym sock, your comparison was clear - equating your obi with a sock. Neither of greater value than the other. My comparison, of my training with a piece of clothing (my obi), still stands solvent, though. My belt is a metaphor for my training.

Can things be alike at all, or are all things different? One thing informs another, informs another, and informs another. We say someone is, "as sharp as a tack," or we say of someone, "she is a pistol."

Are these people really tacks or pistols? No, but this is the poetry of expression, getting at deeper things. This is like the other, and as I understand the other, so may I understand this.

On the mats we make a physical poetry. If that does not carry with us off of the mats, into interpersonal poetry, ethical poetry, visual poetry, etc., then our time training is wasted.

So there is your obi. Is there a lesson you can take from it? Is there someway for you to continue your aikido now that you are off the mats? Or is this world kept completely separate from the world on the mats? Yes, those worlds are separate in some ways, but built so that aikido can leak into the other, not the other way around.

There is value in treating your obi with respect (in not letting it lie on the ground), and as a metaphor (not washing it). You can, of course, choose not to. It is your own path. But discussions of carrying aikido beyond the threshold of the dojo then become silly, don't they?

Really, who would apply basketball-in-daily-life and afford their gym socks their due reverence?

(yes, that's tongue-in-cheek).

Chris Li
04-13-2004, 02:09 PM
Willy, Chris Li -

As you say, we each value what we value. I cannot help that I see no value in the option you describe, however. It is as if you want to learn Aikido, but you do not want to use Aikido to learn.

Those two things are not the same.
So, because I don't choose to follow a made up modern "tradition" (one that, I might add, was not commonly held to when I trained in Japan) I'm not using Aikido to learn? How do you reach that conclusion?
As for the gym sock, your comparison was clear - equating your obi with a sock. Neither of greater value than the other. My comparison, of my training with a piece of clothing (my obi), still stands solvent, though. My belt is a metaphor for my training.
I suppose that I could make my gym sock a metaphor for my training - there's as much justification for that historically as the "tradition" of the obi. There's nothing wrong with making up whatever metaphors you like, I just don't feel the need for it. Anyway, I prefer to wear clean clothing :).

Best,

Chris

Doka
04-13-2004, 02:25 PM
Maybe I tend to sweat more than you, but I often have both layers of my belt soaked through after class. I've even had the koshiita in my hakama soaked through, too...

-- Jun

Actually, I don't sweat much. I can train (either in the dojo or the gym) until I throw up, but I am never "very" sweaty. I am quite fit too, so it is not just not putting in the effort! :)

I guess I am just lucky? :)

:ai:

willy_lee
04-13-2004, 10:09 PM
I *think* this will be my last post on this thread.
As you say, we each value what we value. I cannot help that I see no value in the option you describe, however. It is as if you want to learn Aikido, but you do not want to use Aikido to learn.Um, you can do what you want, I know I will. Can we do this without the condescending tone, however?
Can things be alike at all, or are all things different? One thing informs another, informs another, and informs another. We say someone is, "as sharp as a tack," or we say of someone, "she is a pistol."Yes. We call these "metaphors". Or "figurative language".
On the mats we make a physical poetry. If that does not carry with us off of the mats, into interpersonal poetry, ethical poetry, visual poetry, etc., then our time training is wasted.Personally I find physical poetry to be a pretty decent result in itself. Certainly not everyone wishes to glean non-physical benefits from aikido.
There is value in treating your obi with respect (in not letting it lie on the ground), and as a metaphor (not washing it). You can, of course, choose not to. It is your own path. But discussions of carrying aikido beyond the threshold of the dojo then become silly, don't they?There is value in treating most things with respect, certainly objects you train with. Anything can be treated as a metaphor. I really don't see how me not treating my obi according to your personal metaphor has anything to do with me carrying aikido out of the dojo.

=wl

Alan Lomax
04-14-2004, 01:51 AM
Wow!!!

This has been a very an interesting rehash of a great deal of previous threads. The new aspects of the analogies and metaphors used have been outstanding. The sincere tone of most of the thread has had me captivated. I just can't help but throw in a bit more input for consideration as this whole thread has me just about to bust a gut. I'll just apologize right up front and explain that my mood is tempered by the news I will be redeployed very soon.

The original question posted has been answered in enough detail. Some of the analogies and metaphors really beg for comment. Not to allow your belt or hakama to touch the mat out of respect, hmm? What about your hands, feet, butt, face, hakama and belt when you are wearing them? If you aren't wearing them, I don't want to practice just at that time with you. In the short time I spent in Japan, I never saw anyone trying to avoid their belt or hakama from touching the mat before, during or after practice. I have heard of such people.

The gym sock analogy, which is what really got me laughing. Again I apologize but every time I saw a reference to the gym sock, I couldn't help but wonder why not a happy sock analogy? I think it would be important to keep the happy sock very clean but maybe that is just me. I suppose if one did not wash the happy sock, it would most certainly develop character of it’s own. It would probably change colors over time as well.

About the military uniform analogies; from 1979 up to today I wash or dry-clean all of my uniforms, often. On the good counsel of some well intentioned training partners, I began to clean my dogi's, belts, hakamas and other neat stuff I use to train with, often. When items are too worn, I replace them. Folks in uniform, who don't pay close enough attention to personal and uniform hygiene are not regarded as models by most others. Although there is the allowance for funk in the field, hygiene at home is normally the order of the day.

Some of the other creative inputs kept me with this thread all the way through. I especially enjoyed the freezer method (happy sock?) and the reverse analogy of not only never wash your gear but don’t wash period.

Regards

Magma
04-15-2004, 08:54 AM
Chris Li wrote:

"So, because I don't choose to follow a made up modern "tradition" (one that, I might add, was not commonly held to when I trained in Japan) I'm not using Aikido to learn? How do you reach that conclusion?"

I reach that conclusion because of the sort of revelation that you make even here in this brief excerpt: you seem more concerned with the *age* of the tradition and *who* keeps it (that it wasn't kept in Japan) than you are about *what* it can teach you.

It really doesn't matter to me if it was started last week by a crazy lady who thought her belt talked to her. Does it have value? Can it teach us something?

I say that it does, and I have touched on part of the meaning and how it can help already... I will more so by the end of this post.

Chris Li wrote:

"I suppose that I could make my gym sock a metaphor for my training - there's as much justification for that historically as the "tradition" of the obi. There's nothing wrong with making up whatever metaphors you like, I just don't feel the need for it."

Here, again, you give away the fact that you're more concerned with the historical authenticity of the tradition than with the benefit it can give you.

Further, no time in the gym that I am aware of profers a complete philosophy of living as aikido does. As I said before, there is no real "basketball-in-every-day-life" on which to base your metaphor of the gym sock.

That being said, I do not mind if someone disagrees with me or holds a different viewpoint. I will talk to them and try to understand them and where they are coming from. However, if their viewpoint or opinion is internally inconsistent, if their personal "truth" simply cannot be true because of an inherent fallacy, then I will challenge that viewpoint.

Therefore, if you *do* walk a basketball-in-every-day-life sort of path, if you truly take the principles of the court and apply them in other areas of your life, then I say that your gym-sock-as-metaphor argument has merit.

In fact, I would say that the metaphor *itself* would have merit in that case. This is a point that you cannot win:

If you *do* live your gym-lessons out in real life, then the metaphor has merit and I would applaud it;

If you do *not* live those lessons, then your ersatz metaphor is spurious, disingenuous, and insincere.

In aikido we find a philosophy of mind-body unity, a unity of the self that, once attained, can be extended to a unity of the self to the world. Through whole-body/mind focus and application, uke's attack can be dissipated and balance returned to the world. But that is the absolute lowest level of this notion of resolution. Greater applications are found off the mat.

In other words, aikido is an attempt to breakdown the duality of our existence. Body/mind, nage/uke, me/you, male/female, human/god, human/nature.

And yet, at the end of a workout, you (impersonal) so willingly inject that duality back into your life. Your time on the mats is demarcated by the threshold of the dojo. This world and that world are completely separate, and that separation is expressed in the disregard for your belt, putting it on the floor.

Just as we train to be completely aware on the mats, not "cutting [our] mind" between techniques (as Hatayama Sensei recently said) but always focused on uke as they get up and attack again, we should not allow our minds to become 'cut' as we step off the mats. Our training continues in our treatment of our belt and training gear... then our training continues as we leave the dojo... our training continues at home... our training continues...

Chris Li wrote:

"I wouldn't put my belt on the floor if the floor were dirty, but I wouldn't put my t-shirt there either..."

It is not just a matter of cleanliness, Chris. Looking at this as a metaphor, the belt is a symbol of my training and time on the mats - a symbol of something I value. The floor is a symbolic place of low or no value. Symbolically, putting your belt on the floor, then, devalues your training. I don't know that I can state it more simply than that.

So, I have explored this metaphor even more deeply having been challenged on it. Can you do the same with your gym sock? If so, GOOD. It has meaning and helps you learn. All that I am saying is that *this* is the way we use aikido to learn, going beyond just simply the learning of aikido on the mats - taking principles with us into other aspects of our lives.

There is value in treating the belt with respect, if you're only willing to see the metaphor. Even if Crazy Edna started the tradition because her belt told her to.

Willy Lee wrote:

"Um, you can do what you want, I know I will. Can we do this without the condescending tone, however?"

Willy, my tone has been simple and straightforward. The portion of my post that you quoted has been addressed more fully in this post now, so I hope that I cleared up my statement.

Willy Lee wrote:

"Yes. We call these "metaphors". Or "figurative language"."

Yes, thank you for keeping up, Willy. ;)

(just kidding)

However, even here I'd say don't get attached to the 'thingness' of the metaphor, labeling it, categorizing it, and putting it aside. Metaphors were not meant to be categorized but explored.

Willy Lee wrote:

"Personally I find physical poetry to be a pretty decent result in itself. Certainly not everyone wishes to glean non-physical benefits from aikido."

Um, this may be a completely different topic if linked, to be sure. However, these people who desire only to learn the physical movements of aikido will never turn those machinations into physical poetry. And, what's more, I tend to place these people barely one step above the thugs that caused O-sensei to be originally protective of aikido, issuing a "rule" of practice that the techniques should not be taught to just anyone, to those who would simply steal the techniques and not apply the deeper principles.

So, this discussion starts on the pre-existent notion that the principles of aikido are as important as the physical techniques.

Willy Lee wrote:

"There is value in treating most things with respect, certainly objects you train with. Anything can be treated as a metaphor. I really don't see how me not treating my obi according to your personal metaphor has anything to do with me carrying aikido out of the dojo."

It is on one level silly to say, and yet on another a simple wisdom to realize: certainly, a metaphor has to have meaning for the person in order for the metaphor to have meaning. That is like saying that in order to learn, you must learn, and in order to do, you must do.

So, here is an aspect of our lives (our treatment of our obi) where we can apply aikido (and martial) principles of awareness, respect, and honor. Do you *do*? Or do you *don't*? If the value is there - value that I have tried nine ways from sunday to explore and relate - then why not do?

paw
04-15-2004, 09:21 AM
Tim,

Having just read the last page bit of this thread I offer the following:
Further, no time in the gym that I am aware of profers a complete philosophy of living as aikido does. As I said before, there is no real "basketball-in-every-day-life" on which to base your metaphor of the gym sock.

Actually, I know of several and encounter them far more frequently than I do any aikido based philosophy.

For example, many of my managers at work have played or do play sports and often use sports examples as metaphors to promote what they believe to more moral or spiritual behavior. And yet none of them treat gym socks as "special" in any way.

As far as other martial arts go, neither bjj nor judo have any rules about belts on the mat of which I am aware. In the clubs I have trained, it's not uncommon for belts to come undone during hard randori and they are often discarded and tossed to the side. I haven't found judoka or bjj'ers to be less moral or less spiritual than aikidoist, but I suppose YMMV.

I find myself agreeing with Willy, when he wrote:
There is value in treating most things with respect, certainly objects you train with. Anything can be treated as a metaphor. I really don't see how me not treating my obi according to your personal metaphor has anything to do with me carrying aikido out of the dojo.

Regards,

Paul

Magma
04-15-2004, 10:24 AM
Paul -

As I said in my previous post, if the metaphor is sincere and has meaning for you, then I applaud it. So, for your example of sports-analogies I just smile and nod, having heard these myself.

However, these analogies do not approach the whole of life, IMO, only certain aspects or situations. Maybe it is better to say that those analogies speak of ways of operating and managing certain events whereas the tenets of budo deal with self-improvement and perfection.

And, again, I don't care if judo or bjj practitioners follow this tradition. I care if the tradition has merit. It is, after all, *my* art. I can't lower myself to another's standard. Personally, I have two thoughts if your belt comes undone in the middle of randori:

1) You did not tie it properly, nor tight enough, which is likely indicative of a cut-mind again (see, another metaphor... they're everywhere if you look for them)

and

2) In the middle of personal survival, you take care of yourself; as *soon* as the randori is over, however, you get that belt up off the ground.

That is just simple respect.

The lessons are there in the tradition, and that gives the tradition its value. One must invite perfection into one's life if one wishes to know truth. Subscribe to metaphor, to this metaphor, and if it has meaning for you then you have found a truth.

Ron Tisdale
04-15-2004, 11:28 AM
It really doesn't matter to me if it was started last week by a crazy lady who thought her belt talked to her. Does it have value? Can it teach us something?
I don't know how to say this without it being a little condescending...but I think this is kind of sad. It reminds me of a certain teacher, who when questioned about the historical inaccuracies of a lecture during an aikido class, told me 'you're not looking deeply enough'.

Hogwash.

Inaccuracies are just that...crazy ladies are just that...made up traditions (kwanza comes to mind) are just that. Made up.

And before anyone pitches a fit, I'm african american myself, and I still say, hogwash. If it floats your boat, that's just fine...but please do not look down on us that look for a little truth in advertising as if we are 'less spiritual'. We just happen to like our heads a little below the level of the clouds.

Ron Tisdale

paw
04-15-2004, 11:31 AM
Tim,
However, these analogies do not approach the whole of life, IMO, only certain aspects or situations. Maybe it is better to say that those analogies speak of ways of operating and managing certain events whereas the tenets of budo deal with self-improvement and perfection.
Anything can deal with self-improvement or perfection if approached sincerely. Budo is not unique in this.
And, again, I don't care if judo or bjj practitioners follow this tradition. I care if the tradition has merit. It is, after all, *my* art. I can't lower myself to another's standard.

Are you suggesting that bjj/judo has lower standards? I suspect that is ultimately what Willy, et al are objecting to. If someone has the same right to call an art theirs, you cannot say your standards are inherently better, per se.
Personally, I have two thoughts if your belt comes undone in the middle of randori:

1) You did not tie it properly, nor tight enough
It's impossible to tie a belt so that it does not come off during an hour's worth of hard randori, particularly in bjj on a consistent basis.
2) In the middle of personal survival, you take care of yourself; as *soon* as the randori is over, however, you get that belt up off the ground.

That is just simple respect.

I disagree. Picking up the belt, is an arbitrary rule at most or a personal preference. If I trained somewhere and that was the rule, I would follow it. But it wouldn't have any meaning beyond that.

For example, let's suppose a school had randori as 5 minute rounds and at the end of a round, you immediately get another partner and start with no breaks --- or you sit out the round. Given a choice between retying my belt and sitting out the round, or setting it aside and training the next round....I'm training (and just about everyone I know would do likewise).

Regards,

Paul

Chris Li
04-15-2004, 01:18 PM
I don't know how to say this without it being a little condescending...but I think this is kind of sad. It reminds me of a certain teacher, who when questioned about the historical inaccuracies of a lecture during an aikido class, told me 'you're not looking deeply enough'.

Hogwash.

Inaccuracies are just that...crazy ladies are just that...made up traditions (kwanza comes to mind) are just that. Made up.

And before anyone pitches a fit, I'm african american myself, and I still say, hogwash. If it floats your boat, that's just fine...but please do not look down on us that look for a little truth in advertising as if we are 'less spiritual'. We just happen to like our heads a little below the level of the clouds.

Ron Tisdale
Well, that says it better than I ever could have.

Best,

Chris

Magma
04-15-2004, 02:48 PM
I have fallen into the trap of attempting to explain. To tell. There is no telling for these sorts of things, only experiencing.

Some people are ready to venture out to the deep end of the pool and see the beauty there. No description on my part (or anyone's part, for that matter) will give them that experience.

So, I've said my peace. If I have connected with some people, good. If not... eh. I will say this before I go:

You say my head is in the clouds... but I ask you, how better to see heaven?

Doka
04-15-2004, 02:58 PM
Errr, I am kind of in the middle ground on this and I hope I can put together what I am thinking properly here.

Paul,

I first heard about the "tradition" concerning the Obi over 20 years ago in my old judo dojo. That is not to wash it! I have since then always tret my belt with tender respect outside of training. If it fell off in training then it falls off! I do not adjust my Gi or Obi during practice, as worrying about the state of your clothing shows your mind is not 100% on your Aikido. "Is that a Yoshinkan thang, Ron?" :)

Tim,

Chill. It is good that you have a focus of respect and learn from that. The other guys have different focus of respect and learn from them. Just because they don't do what you do does not mean that they disrespect it!

It can come across in these threads the attitude of, "If you disagree with me tell me why, and I will tell you why you are wrong and I am right!"

Just throwing thoughts around. Hope I didn't hit anyone! :D

Ron Tisdale
04-15-2004, 03:11 PM
"Is that a Yoshinkan thang, Ron?"
Yes, it is. :)

As to seeing heaven, if you believe in it, there are many ways...Jacobs ladder, for instance.

I hope I didn't come across too harsh...but I really get frustrated by some of these made up things that get passed down so much they are told as truisms. Then they get this life of their own, and the true believers tout them as gospel. Sorry, but I just don't buy it.

And believe me, if my instructor came into the dressing room and saw someone's belt on the floor (especially a yudansha's belt), they'd catch heck. After all, he gave them the belt, so they earned it, and he'd want that effort and its symbol respected. That's a fine tradition IN THAT DOJO. To make too much of it though, can get to be rather silly. Belts hold your pants up, or your dogi jacket closed. Tie it properly so you don't end up naked during keiko. Now move along...nothing to see here...

Ron

pcallen
04-15-2004, 03:47 PM
I am very new to Aikido, I have only been training for two years. IMHO this is a question best left up to one's teacher.

My teacher is of the "don't wash" school. The reason is practical - if working with someone, a bright clean white belt suggests a person that is very new to Aikido and may not have the ukemi skills of a more experienced partner. I assume that this would be the case in many organizations that have students wear the white obi through multiple kyu ranks.

Personally, I find the blood, sweat and tears argument gives me satisfaction. The state of my belt reminds me that I've come a long way. There are probably many people out there who, like me, get down on themselves from time to time about technique and movement. We beat up on ourselves and realize that we have a long way to go (a life time). Looking at my belt lets me put that trip into perspective.

In reply to the post suggesting that the time that they have spent in the military that they have kept all of their equipment and uniforms clean-

"Folks in uniform, who don't pay close enough attention to personal and uniform hygiene are not regarded as models by most others."

- yes but it's not always the case. In World War II PT Boat officers would soak the braid on their caps to tarnish the thread so that people would know them at a glance. Submarine officers would grow beards on their cruises for the same reason.

We come up with lots of traditions, including Kwanza, for many reasons. You buy in or not - it's always personal preference.

I've enjoyed the thread - lots of great discussion. It would be great to work out with you all. It's easy to recognize me - I'm the sweaty guy with the dirty belt.

willy_lee
04-15-2004, 03:51 PM
You say my head is in the clouds... but I ask you, how better to see heaven?Heh, if you want to stick with that metaphor... I would say, that if your head is in the clouds, you probably can't see much of anything, 'cept clouds :)

Paul, Ron, I was wondering when you guys were going to get in on this thread... :)

(I know, I know, this is really my last post, I promise),

=wl

Chris Li
04-15-2004, 04:30 PM
My teacher is of the "don't wash" school. The reason is practical - if working with someone, a bright clean white belt suggests a person that is very new to Aikido and may not have the ukemi skills of a more experienced partner. I assume that this would be the case in many organizations that have students wear the white obi through multiple kyu ranks.
A nice idea, but I wouldn't rely on it too much if I were you - I've worked with too many people wearing shiny new white belts who turned out to have, say, 30+ years of Judo or Karate, or even 30+ years of Aikido in a different organization.

Best,

Chris

Doka
04-15-2004, 05:02 PM
A nice idea, but I wouldn't rely on it too much if I were you - I've worked with too many people wearing shiny new white belts who turned out to have, say, 30+ years of Judo or Karate, or even 30+ years of Aikido in a different organization.

Best,

Chris
:D

LOL!

I was that person!

I went along to a Jujutsu seminar, and although I have trained Jujjutsu quite a bit, I have never been graded in jujtsu, so I wore a white belt! "You know a lot for a white belt!" :)

I did the same with Judo. It had been a lllllloooooonnnnnngggggg time since I had done any Judo, so I put on a white belt! Similar thing, but the rules screwed me up. The Judo Sensei running over when he thought I was about to Atemi one of his dan grades!!!!! :D

I have another reason why I honour my Obi! It came from my teacher who has now passed on.

:ai:

pcallen
04-15-2004, 05:06 PM
Chris,

You are definitely right about the fact that the person may have many years in a different art. However, assuming a karateka knows how to take ukemi can cause a serious "owie". The bright white belt is just there as a signal - assume nothing. Thanks for the reply and giving me something to think about!

Phillip Allen:do:

Doka
04-15-2004, 05:07 PM
Yes, it is. :)
:)

I remember being slapped round the back of the head for adjusting my Gi! Definitely a Yoshinkan thang!!! Punishing yourself, AND your Sensei punishing you at the same time!!! :D

Doka
04-15-2004, 05:12 PM
Chris,

You are definitely right about the fact that the person may have many years in a different art. However, assuming a karateka knows how to take ukemi can cause a serious "owie". The bright white belt is just there as a signal - assume nothing. Thanks for the reply and giving me something to think about!

Phillip Allen:do:
Philip,

I know people who change their belt when it gets worn. I also know a 30+ years Aikido teacher who wears a white belt and is a published author on Aikido!!!

What is it about books and covers???? :D

:ai:

skyetide
04-15-2004, 05:19 PM
Forgive me, but how can “looking deeply” be hogwash? What is sad to me is the thought “…not everyone wishes to glean non-physical benefits from Aikido.” Huh? That gives me a new perspective, thank you.

And I think it has already been said that wearing a belt/hakama during practice, allowing it to obviously touch the ground is very different from tossing it to the ground after training. But I am a neophyte in Aikido and come from a TKD school where it was expected of students to have a clean ironed uniform and belts that hang perfectly even (again, a metaphor for balance/dualities of the universe). These habits are ingrained in me and are carried over to my Aikido. As I iron my uniform before class it is a sort of meditation/preparation of my mind to train. When I check to make sure my belt hangs even it is a reminder to me that my mind and body must function together. It is much like the many ritual preparations in a Japanese tea ceremony or Sumi-e painting. Of course it is just ritual, but it has meaning to me and helps to center myself before I train. So, I use it. I mean, a car is just a car, but where can it take you? Where would you go? How far? I don’t think it is egotistical to want, to desire to know more and look deeper and go far.

Metaphor is a poetic language to speak to each other about the intangible mysteries of the world. I think, perhaps, some of us simply speak a different language. Aikido is an art. As Tim was saying, it can be brought into every level of our life—spiritual, interpersonal, etc. Art and metaphor are nearly impossible to separate (take this from a painter). But if Aikido is not an art to you and metaphor is not a language that you speak, then what Tim has said will not be of value to you.

But that’s just me…searching, willingly looking deeper.

skyetide
04-15-2004, 05:45 PM
Ha! Did I use a metaphor to describe metaphor? Would that be a meta-metaphor?

Chris Li
04-15-2004, 06:18 PM
Forgive me, but how can “looking deeply” be hogwash?
When it's used as an excuse for a factual error?

Best,

Chris

skyetide
04-16-2004, 07:21 AM
Looking deep into a shallow pool reveals nothing but your own reflection, I suppose.

May this thread rest in peace. ;)

Ron Tisdale
04-16-2004, 08:58 AM
Looking deep[ly] into a shallow pool reveals nothing but your own reflection, I suppose.
This is exactly the type of attitude my post refers to. You assume because we like a pool filled with factual matters, that the pool is shallow, and that our own reflection is the only thing we can see.

That is an obnoxious, condescending, patronizing attitude. Apparently, you are the one who only sees their own reflection.

I have no problem with others having their own views, just a problem when they make unfounded assumptions about mine.

Ron

skyetide
04-16-2004, 01:02 PM
Ron,

:( Forgive me. Yes, it is my own reflection. I assume nothing.

Be well.

Ron Tisdale
04-16-2004, 01:27 PM
Tonya,

It was a short lived tantrum, all is well. Thanks for your words, and pardon the harshness of mine.

Best Regards,

Ron

Magma
04-16-2004, 01:55 PM
Ron & Chris -

The difference is that while we all can and *do* live in a factual world (knowing this and that, and able to quantify and qualify, understanding that the belt-washing and belt-off-the-floor tradition may be more recent creations), while we all can and do experience and draw meaning out of facts, we can also take great meaning, lesson, and beauty out of metaphor and symbol.

We do not all do that, as you have said, but perhaps that is the source of the condescension you think you hear... it is not condescension but a simple statement of fact: if we all live in a factual world, yet some of us also appreciate and learn from metaphor, is that not more than facts alone?

Peace.

Ron Tisdale
04-16-2004, 02:12 PM
yet some of us also appreciate and learn from metaphor, is that not more than facts alone?
I think the misunderstanding is the belief that folks like Chris and I do not 'appreciate and learn from metaphor'.

As an example, check out the following link:

http://www.netaxs.com/people/kinokawa/kingdom.html

Best,

Ron

bogglefreak20
04-17-2004, 03:46 AM
Hehehe... In my dojo, we all are a white belt until Shodan. We don't wash our belts and we joke about our belts turning black.
We are also all white-belt until shodan.

We wash our belts with our gi.

We don't joke. Ever.

(just kidding) :)

I wouldn't worry about the belt shrinking. I wash it with my gi every time. The gi didn't shrink at all (though I actually hoped it would, because it's a bit too big for me) and neither did the belt.

Magma
04-17-2004, 06:07 AM
Ron -

That statement (re: learning from metaphor) comes simply from what I have read here. That though I have tried to explain the value of the metaphor of a belt ('explaining a metaphor'... an oxymoron, I know), it is not the interpretation but the historical veracity of the tradition that is challenged or attacked.

The value is in the metaphor - regardless of challenge of age, source, or anachronism - if the person is willing to engage it. There is no either-or about debunking it and learning from it. We can do both: I accept that the tradition may be more recently contrived, but I also accept that it has value.

Qatana
04-17-2004, 08:56 AM
And can you accept that for _some_ people, a belt is just a belt?

Hanna B
04-17-2004, 10:05 AM
Realize the post was in humor, but for the sake of those who may be gullible: home freezers do NOT kill bacteria.
Not?

I accidently put a vial of pretty expensive lab bacteria in the freezer. They died. :D

Chris Li
04-17-2004, 11:54 AM
Ron -

That statement (re: learning from metaphor) comes simply from what I have read here. That though I have tried to explain the value of the metaphor of a belt ('explaining a metaphor'... an oxymoron, I know), it is not the interpretation but the historical veracity of the tradition that is challenged or attacked.

The value is in the metaphor - regardless of challenge of age, source, or anachronism - if the person is willing to engage it. There is no either-or about debunking it and learning from it. We can do both: I accept that the tradition may be more recently contrived, but I also accept that it has value.
I'm sure that everybody understood the metaphor, it's not that hard, really. So what's the point - because it's a metaphor it must be profound?

What most people seem to have had a hard time accepting is your apparent insistence that if we don't recognize that particular metaphor as valuable than we are therefore somehow deficient in our Aikido practice. It may have value for you, and that's fine, but that doesn't mean that it necessarily has value for anybody else, or ought to dictate their actions.

As to "debunking", one of the first posts in the thread (long before the "metaphor" thing came up) brought up the historical question, so I would say that such a discussion is entirely appropriate.

Best,

Chris

PeterR
04-17-2004, 07:09 PM
Of course that deep pool can be obscured by all those metaphors.

Magma
04-17-2004, 11:00 PM
Jo -

Yes I can accept that for some people a belt is just a belt.

I'm not arguing that.

I'm saying that there is value to treating the belt as a symbol, and that this is a way of continuing their training that they miss if they do not themselves make use of it.

Chris -

"So what's the point - because it's a metaphor it must be profound?"

Nope.

Profundity is in the eye of the beholder; not all metaphors are profound. And yet, this one could be if one would step out of one's box and experience it.

Peter -

"Of course that deep pool can be obscured by all those metaphors."

Of course. This is part of the very personal nature of metaphor. But does this mean that we should abandon metaphor as a tool of understanding and insight? Run from it? Hardly. Metaphor is the sonar by which the depths of this pool (called existence and experience) are sounded and mapped.

Specifically, there is no obfuscation in the metaphor of the belt.

Chris Li
04-17-2004, 11:56 PM
Chris -

"So what's the point - because it's a metaphor it must be profound?"

Nope.

Profundity is in the eye of the beholder; not all metaphors are profound. And yet, this one could be if one would step out of one's box and experience it.

And yet, you were able to judge other people's Aikido training without any idea of what they have already experienced...

Best,

Chris

Magma
04-18-2004, 10:54 AM
Chris -

Again, no.

I can only judge what I read here, seeing an unwillingness to experience a metaphor or tradition for fear of its historical authenticity.

Peace.

PeterR
04-19-2004, 01:50 AM
I'm saying that there is value to treating the belt as a symbol, and that this is a way of continuing their training that they miss if they do not themselves make use of it.

In my opinion nothing is missed considering the great effort required to toss away preconceptions and the like. Adding extra layers when the whole idea is to strip them away just seems counter intuitive. Metaphors do help I suppose - I use them all the time at work and play - but they are tossed at the earliest possible convenience.

Look at it this way - if you truly concentrated on an aspect you wouldn't need the metaphor. It's like a crutch when you are perfectly capable of walking unaided. <--- metaphor alert.


Profundity is in the eye of the beholder; not all metaphors are profound. And yet, this one could be if one would step out of one's box and experience it.

One could easily argue that Chris has stepped outside of the box and does understand the place of metaphor in his personal training.

Hardly. Metaphor is the sonar by which the depths of this pool (called existence and experience) are sounded and mapped.

:D Personally I would just jump in and swim to the bottom. <-- another metaphor alert.

Cheers

Chris Li
04-19-2004, 01:58 AM
Chris -

Again, no.

I can only judge what I read here, seeing an unwillingness to experience a metaphor or tradition for fear of its historical authenticity.

Peace.

You may say "no" now, but you did make clearly judgemental statements regarding the practice of more than one of the posters here. If you look back, you'll see that, while I have argued with issues and interpretations, I have never made a statement judging the state of another person's training - since that would be impossible to do without actually meeting them. The fact is, you have no idea of whether or not we have experienced a particular metaphor or tradition - all you know is that we were not in favor of that particular metaphor or tradition.

Best,

Chris

Magma
04-19-2004, 01:20 PM
Peter -

Metaphor, treated properly, is no preconception. There are no layers between you and the thing. Metaphor is more of a *post*conception... looking at something in a new way. You still know the thing as well as you did before, but now you also see it in a different way, too, with new insights. This is what I mean by people missing out on a great deal if they do not entertain metaphor and choose just a factual existence. Yes, the fact may be true, but it is no less true after the metaphor helps you understand it more fully.

So, metaphor is no crutch. It is like stopping along a path to look at a stone you have known about for sometime, only today you take the rock and turn it over, finding out more about it. You do not hold the metaphor as the truth of the experience but rather the knowledge you gained from it. However, next time you come to a stone in the path, you will remember the metaphor again and perhaps turn this one over to gain something new there, too.

Postconceptual, and not at all a substitute for truth or fact.

As for swimming to the bottom of the pool, feel free. I'm sure you will discover some notion of its dark depth and shape. But then again, if you took a light along with you, you would know and see far more, and you would take that knowledge with you even if you left the light behind.

Chris -
In my opinion, if someone refuses tradition out of hand and refuses to entertain metaphor, then their training does suffer. They will only know the thing in one way. If they only seek the physical and do not go beyond that, taking nothing with them off the mats, their training does suffer. I will stand by those statements; if you feel they apply to you then I guess we should just let the matter drop.

Treating the belt with respect as a symbol of your time on the mats is a way to continue training even after our time in class, and it has value inspite of all sorts of wild anachronisms.

Ron Tisdale
04-19-2004, 02:30 PM
In my opinion, if someone refuses tradition out of hand and refuses to entertain metaphor,

I'd be currious as to who you think has done that...

The people I've been reading have simply been pointing out the historical flaws in some budo 'myths'. Doesn't mean they don't live aikido in their extra dojo life, doesn't mean they don't explore metaphor (as evidenced by myself). Everything that you claim this myth can do can be done in other ways, that are not based on a myth. Its not a matter of refusing to go beyond the physical...its having (what I would consider) a solid basis to do just that. Again, your words sound like "you must buy into this myth, or you're not spiritual". I just don't see how anyone can say that with a straight face.
Ron

Chris Birke
04-19-2004, 02:44 PM
I just walked in on this, it hadn't really thrilled me at first but now it's up to 5 pages.

So, you guys are arguing over whether to wash a belt, right?

Just checking.

Magma
04-19-2004, 02:56 PM
Ron -

"Again, your words sound like "you must buy into this myth, or you're not spiritual". I just don't see how anyone can say that with a straight face."

Good thing that's not what I'm saying.

Doka
04-19-2004, 02:58 PM
Hi Chris,

Yes they are! :D

:ai:

Bronson
04-19-2004, 08:06 PM
Personally I would just jump in and swim to the bottom.

Just don't wear your obi...wouldn't want to get it wet ;)

Bronson

PeterR
04-19-2004, 08:20 PM
:p

The horror - just to be clear I am not arguing for or against washing the thing. I don't wash because I am a lazy swine - not for any other reason.

Bronson
04-19-2004, 08:48 PM
The horror - just to be clear I am not arguing for or against washing the thing. I don't wash because I am a lazy swine - not for any other reason.

I don't wash mine either, but I fully support those who wish to. Personal preference imo.

This thread just seems to be gettting a bit silly now...like a bad Saturday Night Live skit that's gone on too long.

Bronson

Magma
04-19-2004, 09:42 PM
*hits the button for the "Laughter" and "Applause" lights*

*waits for the response*

Alan Lomax
04-22-2004, 01:00 AM
PeterR wrote: Personally I would just jump in and swim to the bottom.

Bronson wrote: Just don't wear your obi...wouldn't want to get it wet

If Peter did jump in and swim to the bottom of the metaphorical pool, would that be a metaphore for him washing his belt even though he doesn't care to wash his belt?

Could one use Tim's metaphorical rocks along the path to either wash the belt or keep it off the ground while swimming in the pool?

I think there may be a metaphore in the form of the happy sock which could be metaphorically in the shallow end of the pool. :hypno:

Magma
04-22-2004, 06:04 AM
*stands on side doing semaphore to guide alan back from his metaphor*

:)

PeaceHeather
04-22-2004, 03:49 PM
Exactly what health risks does a sweaty belt pose, anyway? Ok, bacteria - but what bacteria exactly?

Um, I have a number of friends who train hard and sweat up their practice armor, which may be made of cloth, leather, or both. The bacteria aren't an issue so much as the salt deposits, which will wreck leather and shorten the life-span of fabric, especially if it's fabric that sees a lot of wear.

There is also mold to consider, especially if you do as some of my friends, and store your armor in a large duffel bag. The duffel isn't the issue -- it's putting it away wet and not taking it out again to air-dry when you get home.

Mold can be nasty stuff to breathe, depending on the species and your sensitivity.

Was told a story that the teller swore was true, about a guy who never washed his gambeson (padding worn under armor) until he got married, and his wife said it wasn't allowed into the house until he cleaned it. I mean this thing had stiffened up so much from sweat and salt that it could literally stand on its own, it was *years* old and had never ever been washed. So, he plopped it into the washer -- basically a full, sleeved quilted coat -- and when the rinse cycle was complete, he opened the washer and it was GONE. All that was left were some bits of wet lint and a couple ties!

So yeah, fabric life really *is* shortened by salt deposits; they're abrasive and wear the fibers down until they can disintegrate under their own weight when wet.

Makes for a funny story, though.
Heather

PeaceHeather
04-22-2004, 04:00 PM
The first time I participated in a martial art, many years ago, we were taught not to let our belts touch the floor. Questions like, "what about when you throw us?" were met with dirty looks from the sensei. :cool:

I was taught that it's a matter of respect for the belt, and the work you put in to earn it. Kinda like, in the Scout Manuals, we're taught not to let the American flag touch the floor (don't know about the traditions in other countries). It's a respect thing.

I can't remember if we were taught anything about washing the belts, though; I was never involved in that particular art long enough for mine to even soften up. *shrug*

Heather

PeaceHeather
04-22-2004, 04:19 PM
Look at it this way - if you truly concentrated on an aspect you wouldn't need the metaphor. It's like a crutch when you are perfectly capable of walking unaided. <--- metaphor alert.


Pssst... that's a simile, not a metaphor.

Heather, not be a smartaleck at ALL, no really... :p

gasman
04-25-2004, 09:40 PM
Bacteria Schmacteria...
I never wash my belt. And I'd eat a sandwich that had accidentally fallen to the floor. Mind you, I served one year conscription in the infantry...

deepsoup
04-26-2004, 02:23 AM
Like Peter, I can't just replace my belt when it wears out, so I don't wash it more often than I have to. But it does soak up a little sweat, it does get stinky eventually, and when it needs a wash, out of respect for myself and my training partners it gets one.

This unwashed belt "tradition" is bogus, pure and simple. Its nothing more than a magic feather. (That is a metaphor, by the way.) Dumbo found out eventually that he didn't actually need his magic feather, and all you folks with the stinky belts: you can fly without yours too!

Sean
x

Magma
04-26-2004, 05:48 AM
Sean -

The tradition is nothing like the feather. I don't need to respect my belt (not washing it, nor letting it touch the floor), to be able to do the physical techniques of aikido. Nor is my aikido made better in a causative fashion by having the belt on when I throw uke. Rather, it is indirect. Because treating my belt with this sort of respect continues my awareness and sensitivity training well beyond the time on the mat, that means that such awareness and sensitivity comes back to enhance what I do *on* the mats.

And off.

Even that is a horribly emasculated and pragmatic exploration of *part* of the tradition's value, but one must start somewhere, I suppose.

deepsoup
04-26-2004, 06:32 AM
Because treating my belt with this sort of respect continues my awareness and sensitivity training well beyond the time on the mat, that means that such awareness and sensitivity comes back to enhance what I do *on* the mats.

So the gist of your argument is that you don't need it, it doesn't make a difference, but actually yes it does, and therefore you do. Still sounds a lot like a magic feather to me.

Honestly, if this was in print, I'd send a copy to Private Eye for inclusion in Pseud's Corner.

When I treat things with respect, one of the ways I express it is by keeping them clean. If you use it, you've gotta maintain it. Knives need to be sharpened, pianos need to be tuned, and clothes need to be washed. (Unless of course you don't cut with them, don't play them, and don't wear them.)

Where I train, anyone who wants to deify their belt is very welcome to, as long as they keep it at home in a glass case and wear a clean one to training.

Sean
x

Magma
04-26-2004, 07:01 AM
Sean wrote:
"So the gist of your argument is that you don't need it, it doesn't make a difference, but actually yes it does, and therefore you do. Still sounds a lot like a magic feather to me."

Nope. You can understand the difference between direct and indirect application, right? Perhaps you would have seen that this was the "gist" of my argument had you included the sentence before where you began your quote. The previous sentence said simply:

"Rather, it is indirect."

That is, not causative.

It is very much like a general who as a young Lt. led his men into an ambush and was shot by the enemy as they made an escape. He is given the bullet by the doctors after they patch him up. He realizes that he might have made mistakes in leading his men as he did, that he might have been less than he could have. He wants to be better. So he determines that the bullet is a reminder for him to always consider and think before charging in blindly. He also determines that the bullet will not leave his person, so that it will constantly be with him to serve as the reminder.

The bullet does nothing causatively to make him more mindful and a better leader, but indirectly, it is a reminder.

Indirectly.

Not direct.

Non-directo effecto.

Sean:
"Where I train, anyone who wants to deify their belt is very welcome to, as long as they keep it at home in a glass case and wear a clean one to training."

Nice strawman. Just who, exactly, is deifying their belt? Excuse me if I hear your answer with Homer Simpson's terrified tone as he says, "Aaaiigh! BOOGEY MAN!!"

deepsoup
04-26-2004, 09:09 AM
He also determines that the bullet will not leave his person, so that it will constantly be with him to serve as the reminder.
The bullet does nothing causatively to make him more mindful and a better leader, but indirectly, it is a reminder.

If the bullet serves to remind him, then it causes him to remember. By causing him to remember, it causes him to be more mindful.

Causative.

Not not causative.

Nothing "nothing causative" about that.

Like your style, hope you don't mind my copying.
(Did you read a lot of Dr Seuss as a kid? :))


Perhaps you would have seen that this was the "gist" of my argument had you included the sentence before where you began your quote.

If its not causative of anything, its not having any effect. (Directly or otherwise.) Occams razor sliced away the sentence before where I began my quote, and therefore so did I.
The reason I don't get it, is that it seems to me to be self contradictory. You're saying it doesn't cause anything to happen, but it does have an effect. Thats not how it is with cause and effect, directly or indirectly the cause causes the effect.

Nice strawman. Just who, exactly, is deifying their belt?
Um.. Well, you are!
To a sceptic like me, thats how irrational behaviour towards an inanimate object out of respect for some intangible mystical influence it may have over ones life looks.
Its certainly superstition, but if you don't like 'deify' then call it 'kami', make it 'mojo', blame it on the boogie.
Whatever its called, all I was trying to say in that last paragraph was that where I train, we prefer our clothes (all of them) to be clean.
In short we respect the dojo more than the mojo.
If its whiffy and it ain't getting washed, its welcome wears out fast!

Sean
x

Magma
04-26-2004, 09:38 AM
"If the bullet serves to remind him, then it causes him to remember. By causing him to remember, it causes him to be more mindful."

Perhaps I should not take for granted that we are on the same page of:
direct *cause*
and
indirect *cause*

My point has always been that treating the belt with a mindful respect is an indirect cause for better aikido. Why? Because it makes you think, remember, and apply your training off of the mat. In this way, it also makes you a better person.

It is not mojo or magic.

However, notice this... as I explained the connection between mindfulness with the belt to mindfulness with technique (and life off the mat) - expressing a concrete method of improving our aikido and ourselves - you did not challenge the value of the metaphor, only my method of making my point (whether we can consider it causal or not). The example I gave clearly demonstrated a value to the notion of treating a belt with respect, yet still fell *far* short of any sort of deification, magic, or mojo.

You mean we can have metaphor without magic?

Yep.

And that means that this:

"quote: Nice strawman. Just who, exactly, is deifying their belt?

Um.. Well, you are!
To a sceptic like me, thats how irrational behaviour towards an inanimate object out of respect for some intangible mystical influence it may have over ones life looks."

...patently false. No intangible, save for the respect and mindfulness that it creates in me. And you have called these things causal, creating a benefit on and off the mats (and I agree: indirect causality), so which is it? Causal? Or mystical? You can't have it both ways.

So, I'll take your argument calling mindfulness-remembrance-betterment causal, and figure that the rest of these strawmen are just an unwillingness to let go of the argument. You can see the value, it's just easier to distort tradition into mysticism than it is to require more of one's-self.

Here's a thought, too. Look at the other places in your training where you pay respect to an inanimate object. Maybe you bow to the shomen wall at the opening and close of practice. If so, what's different about that?

Qatana
04-26-2004, 05:28 PM
Uh, pardon me Tim but did you just say Sean's opinion was false?

Magma
04-26-2004, 11:01 PM
No, I did not. Not so long as by "opinion" you mean his stance on the value of the tradition.

However, "patently false" refers to his claim that I deify my belt. That is absurd.

I simply pointed out that he is now arguing my point for me (so then how could I say that he was wrong, anyway?). ;) I appreciate other people championing my points, as I cannot always be checking the board.

deepsoup
04-27-2004, 08:11 AM
Maybe you bow to the shomen wall at the opening and close of practice. If so, what's different about that?

Since you ask:
It's a genuine tradition, with some historical basis other than urban myth. Also it doesn't involve leaving something dirty that could do with a good wash.

Sean
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Magma
04-27-2004, 09:16 AM
Sean -

"It's a genuine tradition, with some historical basis other than urban myth."
***
My point on this whole thread is that the value of a tradition is not determined by the "genuineness" of it, nor its historical authenticity. Its value is determined by its value. You recognized the value above in the tradition of respecting a belt (how it can be a reminder to us on the mats), so I know you see the value in it. You were arguing my point for me, so you see the value. Arguments of authenticity have no bearing on the potential value one can take from a tradition, ritual, or metaphor.
***

"Also it doesn't involve leaving something dirty that could do with a good wash."
***
None of my belts, for any of my arts have ever been washed, and neither are they dirty. They do not stink, they are not crusted, and they are not discolored. In short, they have never needed to be washed. Before you say that I need to work harder or that I must not sweat, let me assure you that a workout for me *is* a workout, and I sweat more than most people, I think.

No, if one's belt is getting dirty because of the mats or the workout, then I posit that one's dojo is more of an immediate concern than washing the belt. The dojo should be clean. If it is, then washing one's belt will be as unnecessary as I have found it to be.

Then again, an awareness of the dojo and its state of cleanliness or order is just the sort of mindful-awareness that might be engendered by subscribing to the tradition of treating the belt as a symbol of your training. So, treating the belt with less respect might lead to the mats getting treated with less respect (leaving them dirty), leading to a belt that gets dirty...

...ahh... it's just a vicious circle then, isn't it?

skyetide
04-27-2004, 01:57 PM
"It's a genuine tradition, with some historical basis other than urban myth"

Sean, Sean. We already dealt with this issue. *yawn*

If some of us find value in treating our belts with mindful respect…if metaphors and similes and analogies help us to speak to the intangible…to remind us of something we can value even beyond simple physical technique in Aikido, in our lives, what is the problem? You’re just playing with words and not really taking a stance.

I don’t think Tim is forcing his opinion or calling the opinion of others invalid. I think he is just stating that this is his reality, that this is where he finds value and then defending it when people are saying no, there is no value in that.

I know it's hard to imagine what others are like on the mats just through reading threads, but I have had the chance to see Tim do Aikido. As I remember, he does sweat, he doesn’t smell and his technique is amazing. Whatever he is doing, if it will help me become better, well, I’m willing to listen. :D

Cheers...and be well.

:dead: Will this thread never end? *sigh*

PeterR
04-27-2004, 05:55 PM
"
I don’t think Tim is forcing his opinion or calling the opinion of others invalid. I think he is just stating that this is his reality, that this is where he finds value and then defending it when people are saying no, there is no value in that.

Rightly or wrongly Tim was jumped on exactly because he came across as being judgemental about other (those that don't believe as he does) peoples training.

And I must say that tradition relies completely on "genuineness" of it, nor its historical authenticity. That is what tradition is. The further a tradition goes back the more weight it has. The not washing a belt maybe a very local tradition in one or two dojos but has no weight in Aikido tradition.


I know it's hard to imagine what others are like on the mats just through reading threads, but I have had the chance to see Tim do Aikido. As I remember, he does sweat, he doesn’t smell and his technique is amazing. Whatever he is doing, if it will help me become better, well, I’m willing to listen. :D

Well Sean sweats, I'm really glad he washes, and his technique is pretty damm good - what's the point.

Will this thread never end? *sigh*
God no - this is a forum where everyone and their dog can spout off. Threads go on, they die and are resurected. Nature of the beast.

skyetide
04-27-2004, 06:35 PM
"And I must say that tradition relies completely on "genuineness" of it, nor its historical authenticity. That is what tradition is. The further a tradition goes back the more weight it has. The not washing a belt maybe a very local tradition in one or two dojos but has no weight in Aikido tradition. "

I understand your point, Peter. But can you think of some new traditions that carry weight, that are genuine? You are saying that a tradition is more genuine if it has a longer history? As a woman, I can think of a few historical traditions that I can do without, and a few new traditions that are more genuine and meaningful for me.


"Well Sean sweats, I'm really glad he washes, and his technique is pretty damm good - what's the point."

Good for Sean! (applause) I'm not attempting to compare...I would not dream of it. :blush: My point is that we have to rely on words only in this forum. I wonder if we (myself included) would be more accepting or open to one's point of view if we could see him/her perform and grow a respect for their work? Just thinking outloud.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have slippers to fetch, dinner to cook and a job to quit....he-he-he. :crazy: Just kidding, Peter.

PeterR
04-27-2004, 07:09 PM
Traditions are tossed all the time - old is not necessarily good just as new is not necessarily bad.

It's simply that there is no basis in calling the non-washing of a belt an Aikido tradition OR that those who treat their obi as they would any other article of clothing somehow have a lesser understanding. To be fair to Tim he has backpeddled a bit from his initial statements. I doubt very much that his ability has anything to with an unwashed obi and more to the point physical ability does not negate incorrect ideas. Now of course if you and he wish to continue your tradition - by all means.

Get thee to the kitchen woman. :D

deepsoup
04-27-2004, 08:13 PM
Sean, Sean. We already dealt with this issue. *yawn* We did? Oh, ok then, sorry to bore you. I did intend that to be my last post on this thread, but I can't resist adding just a bit more in reply to you. After this, I'll really try to just let it lie, I promise.
If some of us find value in treating our belts with mindful respect…if metaphors and similes and analogies help us to speak to the intangible…to remind us of something we can value even beyond simple physical technique in Aikido, in our lives, what is the problem? No problem, I'd prefer it if people wouldn't pretend things are long standing, or widespread traditions which simply aren't, but it really doesn't bother me all that much.
Please bear in mind though, that you don't have to refuse to wash something to treat it with 'mindful respect'. As I said before, I really think its much more common for people to express their respect for a thing by keeping it clean, or whatever. Like sharpening a knife.
I also treat my belt with mindful respect, it was a gift from the shihan to whom I look for inspiration and as such it is irreplaceable. I just happen to express that respect by carefully washing it when it needs a wash. I get very sweaty and if I didn't do that it would stink, no way to respect my Shihan, my partners or myself.
You’re just playing with words and not really taking a stance. I think my stance is pretty clear on this issue, I really cant make it any clearer.
And I do think my analogy with the magic feather stands: by treating his magic feather with mindful respect, Dumbo was able to fly. It had value for him, but ultimately he discovered that he didn't really need it.
I see Tim's belt as his magic feather. It undeniably has value for him, but in truth I don't believe it offers him anything that he doesn't already have within himself.

Ok. Thats me done. If you'd care to reply, I'm happy to let your reply be the last word. (Unless of course the whole thread suddenly lurches off in a different direction altogether, but hey, thats what we're here for! :)

Sean
x
ps: Peter, you're too kind, really. :)

Magma
04-28-2004, 07:19 AM
Peter -

"And I must say that tradition relies completely on "genuineness" of it, nor its historical authenticity. That is what tradition is. The further a tradition goes back the more weight it has. The not washing a belt maybe a very local tradition in one or two dojos but has no weight in Aikido tradition."

All traditions had their start at some point, why do they have more value now? A tradition that does not speak to the person performing it is just empty ritual. THAT is the measure of a tradition, not age. I don't follow tradition because everyone who came before me did the same. That is the nature of dogma and stagnation.

Length of observance - the age of the tradition - is hardly the way to measure the value of a tradition, as Tonya pointed out above.

Regardless of age, if the tradition can help the person, what is better: to engage the tradition, or to reject it? Ultimately, it is participation in the tradition that reveals its value... and that is a personal choice. Is one willing to go a step beyond and require that extra bit from themselves?

"It's simply that there is no basis in calling the non-washing of a belt an Aikido tradition OR that those who treat their obi as they would any other article of clothing somehow have a lesser understanding. To be fair to Tim he has backpeddled a bit from his initial statements."

Peter, the only thing that I have backpeddled from is an understanding of how widespread the tradition is. Never in my training in various martial arts and in various schools - nor in friends I knew who also trained in yet different arts and schools - has there been any question on this. Belts are not washed and they are not allowed to rest against the ground. However, that does not mitigate the other discussion about the relative value of the tradition and its symbolism.

And honestly, I have never said that someone who treats their obi as they would any other piece of clothing has less understanding (especially to say that they have less than me; this is not about comparisons like that). I have said that they are missing out on - and perhaps willingly disregarding - a tool that could help them gain greater understanding.

So, discussions of physical ability in this context have some merit: not comparing Sean to me or some silly notion like that, but the me-of-yesterday to the me-of-today. There is no magic to the belt. Even Sean acknowledged this, though he now stalwartly defends his flag planted to the contrary. An extra measure to the belt leads to another remembrance of our training away from the mats... leads to a reminder when we're back *on* the mats, impacting our training. In other words, I am made better for my awareness and respect of the belt in this way. Tonya has been more than kind in her compliment to me, but I also do not doubt that Sean has "pretty damn good" technique, as you say.

All that I have been saying for this whole thread, and all I am saying now is that even that "pretty damn good" technique can be made better for this respect and mindful awareness. *That* is the value of the tradition, not its age, and *that* is why it is quite widespread in the martial arts world.

It is still one's own art, though. One can choose to not make use of this tool.

Sean -

"I'd prefer it if people wouldn't pretend things are long standing, or widespread traditions which simply aren't, but it really doesn't bother me all that much."

Really, how many times do I have to say that I am not arguing that the tradition...
1) is widespread
2) is long standing
3) takes its value from *being* widespread, or
4) takes its value from *being* long standing

In my experience, the tradition is at least widespread in the martial arts world (and the poll on the main page seems to reflect that), but that discussion is COMPLETELY separate from the discussion of the tradition's value... which is what is being debated currently.

"Please bear in mind though, that you don't have to refuse to wash something to treat it with 'mindful respect'. As I said before, I really think its much more common for people to express their respect for a thing by keeping it clean, or whatever."

First, it isn't "refusing" to wash the belt. Secondly, washing the belt treats it no differently than any other piece of clothing, with nothing of a reminder towards mindfulness. Thirdly, while it might be common to respect something by washing it, not every common thing is or can be treated as a symbol, and certainly not as a symbol of something so directly related to self-improvement as one's training.

"And I do think my analogy with the magic feather stands:"

Hardly. Let me see if I can show why not.

"by treating his magic feather with mindful respect, Dumbo was able to fly."

Nope. Dumbo was able to fly because of his ears. Now, he might have believed that he needed the feather to fly, but then I don't believe that you need to treat your obi with respect to do aikido, so already the analogy has broken down. Further, there is no discussion in the Dumbo-myth of if Dumbo's flight-abilities were enhanced for some sort of awareness of the feather, which is really what I'm talking about here: *enhancing* one's aikido and self. Finally, there is no "mindful awareness" of the feather on Dumbo's part; in the Dumbo-myth, the feather was, for him, simply magic. Again... and again... I claim no magic, only an indirect chain of events that begins once someone begins treating their obi with respect and mindful awareness. Dumbo had neither of these things for his feather.

"I see Tim's belt as his magic feather. It undeniably has value for him, but in truth I don't believe it offers him anything that he doesn't already have within himself."

In every way this analogy can collapse it has. There is no magic. There is no echo of Dumbo's unfounded credit to the feather that he could fly. My aikido - and my self - is made better because of a mindfulness that comes from the mindfulness (respect) I pay to my obi. If I must play the part of dumbo in today's analogy, then know that if I stopped respecting my obi, I could still fly... but I would not fly so well nor so high - that is, I would I improve so much in the future - as I would respecting that obi. That's not really in the analogy, though, which is why the analogy is pretty useless to understanding this tradition.

But you accepted the causality (indirect causality) of the belt-respect to better aikido, Sean. In that case, I don't know why you continue with this analogy.

I have said my peace. In the end it comes down to a personal willingness to enter into the metaphor in order to see what value is there. For some metaphors, that might be nothing. However I, and many others in the martial arts world, know that there *is* value in this particular metaphor, and so suggest it for any serious artist.

paw
04-28-2004, 08:29 AM
Tim,

I suspect what people are objecting to is your constant referral that people are either knowingly or unknowingly missing out on a tool to improve their training (the "unwashed belt" tradition) and implying that by not subscribing to the tradition, they are "missing out". However, you acknowledge that traditions only have value to those who ascribe value to the tradition. Could it be that this tradition holds no value for us, however illogical you may personally find such an attitude to be?

In short, I cast no aspirations on your aikido abilities based on the manner you treat your belt. Kindly grant me the same courtesy.

As to if the tradition of the "unwashed belt" is a useful tool for improving aikido, let's see some evidence.

Regards,

Paul

skyetide
04-28-2004, 03:03 PM
Get thee to the kitchen woman. :D

One moment, kind sir, let me just remove my shoes... :p


(Sean wrote)"Ok. Thats me done. If you'd care to reply, I'm happy to let your reply be the last word. (Unless of course the whole thread suddenly lurches off in a different direction altogether, but hey, thats what we're here for! "


All this mumbo-dumbo has me thinking....isn't Dinsey world just a giant people trap run by a mouse? :D

Doka
04-28-2004, 04:18 PM
All this mumbo-dumbo has me thinking....isn't Dinsey world just a giant people trap run by a mouse? :D

And the bait is sickly sweet! Give me Warner Bros. any day!!! :D

Back to the obi....

This tradition must have come from somewhere! I first heard it over 20 years ago when I started Judo. I have heard it in Karate dojo, and then in Aikido dojo, and I have never washed my belt - it is greying nicely!!! :)

I have never really asked people if they wash their belt, as it doesn't really matter to what they do on the mat. I am much happier if people treat each other with respect, not just their belt!

I fold my hakama and hang it up, but I know people who screw it up and sling it in their bag, but it doesn't really matter to what they do on the mat.

By the way, when I fold my hakama it is on the floor!!!!

Hmmmmm!!!!!!

:ai:

deepsoup
04-29-2004, 09:05 AM
This tradition must have come from somewhere!
Probably has similar origins to other urban myths and old wives tales. This website (http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Urban%20myths) looks interesting about that.
I have never really asked people if they wash their belt, as it doesn't really matter to what they do on the mat. I am much happier if people treat each other with respect, not just their belt! Agree completely. If you can't tell whether they wash it or not, it obviously isn't a problem.
The gentleman on the other thread though, whose belt was in an accident with an incontinent cat, and he *still* didn't wash it? Ewww! :yuck:

By the way, when I fold my hakama it is on the floor!!!! We don't have hakama at my dojo, so I'm not sure, but how easy would it be to fold it without putting it down? Is it the sort of thing you could sell tickets for? Is it disrespectful to hold it in your teeth? :)

Sean
x