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Brion Toss
03-08-2005, 07:33 PM
Hello,
This is a spin-off from the "Equitable?" thread in the General category. For those of you who haven't been following it, it started out as an exasperated posting on how few women (2 out of 35, as I recall) will be instructors at the upcoming Aiki Expo, and quickly turned into a debate on whether or not gender diparity has anything to do with Aikido. Or at least that's how I saw it; if you want to form your own opinion, set aside an hour or two to read it all.
Meanwhile, as the thread evolved, I began to wonder just what does have to do with Aikido. It is pretty clearly more than just a series of techniques, but what else is there to it? The Founder seems to have been difficult to follow, both in terms of philosophy and martial ability, and we in the West are at a remove, due both to the vagaries of translation and to a significantly different set of cultural assumptions. On top of all this because of all this? the deshi diaspora that was taking place when I entered the art presented us with a wide variety of takes on the nature of the art.
On the other hand, in many years of visiting many dojo's, some things have remained fairly constant: compassion for the attacker; finding, and then moving from center; practicing being aware; and, with only a few notable exceptions, not just falling down for each other. But I know there's much more to it than that. And yes, I know that there are a lot of descriptions of what constitutes Aikido, but at the moment they don't seem sufficient.
Some would urge us just to 'practice the art that Ueshiba gave us." Right. If I'd been born in late 19th-century Japan, farmed remote outposts for years, fallen in with both a paranoid, highly-skilled fighter and a somewhere-to-the-left-of-Shirley-MacLaine cult leader, and lived through the buildup to, experience of, and aftermath of World War II, maybe I could practice that art. Since I can't, I have to wonder if what I've been consumed with for 30-some years has anything in common with Ueshiba's Aikido.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure it does, but also pretty sure that there've been some changes made. Here's an analogy:
I work in a large old wooden building. It was built in the 1930's, and in its life it has housed a bowling alley, movie theater, truck repair facility, fire hall, guitar maker, cabinetmaker, and currently is host to a sail loft, rigging loft, and a shop that builds and repairs wooden boats. In the course of accommodating all of these pursuits, the building has had to adapt, with walls being moved, floors put in and taken out, wiring rerouted, etc. But it has always been recognizably the same building, not just from how it looks from the outside, but how it feels inside (this from people who were here when it was new). There is something about its character that persists, no matter how much people mess with it.
It could have been otherwise; the place could never be, for instance, a welding shop, shooting range, balloon hangar, bank, or foundry, partly because some of those activities would probably destroy it in short order, but largely because it naturally tended to attract enterprises that didn't require too much fussing to fit in. The building has remained itself because it had a real, if difficult-to-define nature to begin with, and because it would be too much bother to make it into something entirely different.
That's how I've come to see Aikido, as a large, accommodating structure that is somewhat plastic, but you know when you've tried to make it into something that it isn't.
This might sound like the famous definition of pornography: "I know it when I see it." The difference is that we have a formal technical structure to draw on, plus a somewhat less formal spiritual structure. We can only recognize the real thing after significant amounts of study, and then we can point to the details that exemplify it. It's the spiritual side that makes things difficult, the philosophy that tangles me up. Just how does it relate to the techniques? How much, if any, philosophy belongs on the mat? If some does, how much, and how many related issues also belong there? Is it possible to let such issues in without detracting from the art? Is it possible to keep them out with detracting from the art?
Yours,
Brion Toss

Brion Toss
03-08-2005, 07:43 PM
PS,
Oops. I have been so enthralled with the 'Equable' thread that I didn't see the 'Without this, no Aikido' thread. It seems likely that the above is a parallel piece; if you think there's a useful distinction, I look forward to your response here. Otherwise, please consider this just as a misplaced post.
Thanks,
Brion Toss

Mary Eastland
03-08-2005, 07:58 PM
For me Aikido is my spiritual practice. I don't understand why and am open to the mystery. I have a dojo at my house and I train 4 times a week with others. Everyday I meditate, do ki excercises and weapons work. If other people view the Aikido we practice as a strange form of Aikido it is none of my business. Aikido has changed my life and helped me heal. Since I have been training I have not been attacked in my home or in the world. All the talk about philosophy and books really means little to me. I have seen and felt the transformation that dedicated, long term training brings to me and others in our dojo. I believe Aikido is a spirit rising to help heal the world.

Mary

RonRagusa
03-08-2005, 08:43 PM
Here's an analogy:
I work in a large old wooden building. It was built in the 1930's, and in its life it has housed a bowling alley, movie theater, truck repair facility, fire hall, guitar maker, cabinetmaker, and currently is host to a sail loft, rigging loft, and a shop that builds and repairs wooden boats. In the course of accommodating all of these pursuits, the building has had to adapt, with walls being moved, floors put in and taken out, wiring rerouted, etc. But it has always been recognizably the same building, not just from how it looks from the outside, but how it feels inside (this from people who were here when it was new). There is something about its character that persists, no matter how much people mess with it.


Excellent.

Your analogy coincides with my belief that Aikido moves outwardly from the student rather than being fed into the student. Each student, therefore leaves his or her indelible imprint on the art and through it all the art remains recognizable as Aikido. Since I believe that the study of Aikido is a student's process of self discovery and that the process is different for each practitioner, my conclusion is that there is no 'right' or 'wrong' Aikido; there's simply Aikido. The instructor provides the scaffold of basic principles and each student, through dedicated training, then adds to the edifice. As O-Sensei stated, Aikido is an art that encompasses all and embraces everything.

Brion Toss
03-12-2005, 09:40 PM
[QUOTE=Mary Eastland I have seen and felt the transformation that dedicated, long term training brings to me and others in our dojo. I believe Aikido is a spirit rising to help heal the world.

Mary[/QUOTE]
Hello,
Transformation brought about by training, yes. On the 'Without this, no Aikido' thread, the search seems to revolve around defining the art in terms of technical content, as perhaps modified in fact or supposition by cultural and historical considerations. David Valadez, in particular, speculates that there is nothing talismanic in the practice of Aikido waza that might result in enlightenment. But time and again I have seen the kind of transformation that you speak of, including, to some small extent, in myself, and I believe it was the result of that waza. Not easy to prove, of course.
So how can this be? How can the practice of a particular series of motions transform someone? Well, when I write it down like that, it seems obvious that such is often the case. I think of people spending long hours driving to work, then sitting all day in cubicles, then spending more hours driving home; with some form of compensatory activity/philosophy it's hard not to turn into a drudge, it seems. So if instead, or in addition, you are practicing an art that requires consciousness of yourself as well as those around you, that involves ongoing dynamic physical relationship with those people, that asks you to trust and to be trustworth, just to be in the class, some good must result.
This is not to say that there are any guarantees. Ken Kesey, speaking about the creative process, once said something like, "If you want to be inspired, you have to hang out in places that inspiration has been known to frequent." There are no guarantees that it will show up regularly, or at all. But you have to go there if you hope to find it. I think this accounts for all the great, though not entirely admirable teachers I have met in Aikido. They might be alchoholic, socially inept, abrasive, or worse, but that is not all they are; some aspects of Aikido's ideals is also present. And one has to wonder what they would be like if they hadn't practiced Aikido at all. So the absence of Perfect Masters in the art is not, on its own, evidence of its lack of transformative power. Rather, the evidence is available, in almost every dojo, that it has such power, enough to overcome, at least to some extent, huge psychological baggage, less than ideal training environment, and imperfect translation from the original.
So what is it about Aikido that can do this? Part of it may simply be its stated intent to transform the world, and to be a means of correcting oneself. If I founded a school for diesel mechanics, and over the door I inscribed the words, "Here we learn to bring peace to the world by repairing truck engines," and really meant it, and worked to demonstrate that every step of engine repair was in fact a metaphor for achieving peace, and if I could find anyone to suspend disbelief long enough to give it a chance, we could wind up with some good mechanics who could simultaneously adjust valve clearance and draw the attention of the Nobel committee. Intention is powerful.
Much more powerful, then, is coupling that intention with an art which exhibits specific, graphic, consistent concern with relating to conflict with some attempt at harmony.
Yours,
Brion Toss

Brion Toss
03-12-2005, 09:43 PM
Excellent.

...Aikido moves outwardly from the student rather than being fed into the student....

And for me, this was the clincher. This was a delight to read. I have long been toying with the idea that expertise in Aikido is not only a matter of concerted effort, the honing effects of long, careful practice, but that it is, at least as much, the result of getting out of the way of whatever it is that is preventing the expression of Aikido, but I never would have thought to say it as plainly as you. If I understand you correctly, self-discovery of the art is not the same as creating it by one's own notions; the art is already innate, and only awaiting its unique expression in that individual. Formal training surely is an essential context-provider, yes? I mean, perhaps convergent evolution would eventually lead someone to the same technical curriculum, but a solid framework, so long as it is actually the result of genuine, optimized motions, can sure cut out a lot of needless reinventing.
This morning, we were practicing good ol' shomen uchi/ikkyo. I was uke, and my partner was having a hard time blending. As why shouldn't she? It's clearly impossible to blend with a strike coming in and down on your head. I suggested she forget about the technique for a moment, and just dance by, as close as she could, with the sole proviso that she bring her arms up towards me at the start. We did that a few times, with me also dancing, not even attempting to strike. Then without warning her, I did strike. And she just danced by again, not even attempting to do ikkyo, and I landed on my knees, utterly bewildered. It was one of those perfect moments, and informed the rest of the class for both of us, I think. The trick was, of course, to turn that perfect blend into a technique, but that was pretty clearly gravy. In other words, studying technique is how we can get to the essence.
Yours,
Brion Toss

RonRagusa
03-14-2005, 09:12 PM
Formal training surely is an essential context-provider, yes? I mean, perhaps convergent evolution would eventually lead someone to the same technical curriculum, but a solid framework, so long as it is actually the result of genuine, optimized motions, can sure cut out a lot of needless reinventing.


Absolutely. There is no substitute for hard dedicated training. As I said, the instructor provides the framework. It's up to the student to burn through the blocks and preconceived notions about what Aikido is or should be and discover the Aikido that lies within. Aikido is not limiting, we place limits on the art by trying to define what it is and isn't. In doing so we clamp down on our own expression of Aikido and so limit our development.

Mike Sigman
03-19-2005, 12:19 PM
(snip) But it has always been recognizably the same building, not just from how it looks from the outside, but how it feels inside (this from people who were here when it was new). There is something about its character that persists, no matter how much people mess with it.
It could have been otherwise; the place could never be, for instance, a welding shop, shooting range, balloon hangar, bank, or foundry, partly because some of those activities would probably destroy it in short order, but largely because it naturally tended to attract enterprises that didn't require too much fussing to fit in. The building has remained itself because it had a real, if difficult-to-define nature to begin with, and because it would be too much bother to make it into something entirely different.
That's how I've come to see Aikido, as a large, accommodating structure that is somewhat plastic, but you know when you've tried to make it into something that it isn't. I'll counter your assertion that "you know when you've tried to make it into something that it isn't" by saying you first have to really do Aikido before you can change it. I'd say you have to be one of the recognized experts (by the peer uchi-deshi of Ueshiba) of Aikido before you can claim your grasp of "Aikido" is such that you couldn't do anything counter to the essential intent of Aikido. I'd say a lot of people do or easily can do absolutely bogus stuff and claim that it's really Aikido. Until they have the go-ahead from the Do-Shu, they have no legitimacy and are just assumptive amateurs. And that's not just my view, either... that's the traditional view. If you have support for your position that counters that traditional view, I'd like to hear it.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

mj
03-19-2005, 12:35 PM
Brion - excellent posts :)

Brion Toss
03-20-2005, 06:01 PM
I'll counter your assertion that "you know when you've tried to make it into something that it isn't" by saying you first have to really do Aikido before you can change it. I'd say you have to be one of the recognized experts (by the peer uchi-deshi of Ueshiba) of Aikido before you can claim your grasp of "Aikido" is such that you couldn't do anything counter to the essential intent of Aikido. I'd say a lot of people do or easily can do absolutely bogus stuff and claim that it's really Aikido. Until they have the go-ahead from the Do-Shu, they have no legitimacy and are just assumptive amateurs. And that's not just my view, either... that's the traditional view. If you have support for your position that counters that traditional view, I'd like to hear it.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Hello,
In my earlier post, just after the "you know when you've tried to make it into something that it isn't" line, I added, "This might sound like the famous definition of pornography: 'I know it when I see it.'" Are you saying, then, that in order to recognize pornography, I must first do it? Would I need to be accredited by Johnny Wadd?
Of course, it's not a direct analogy, which is why I then added,"The difference is that we have a formal technical structure to draw on, plus a somewhat less formal spiritual structure. We can only recognize the real thing after significant amounts of study, and then we can point to the details that exemplify it." Perhaps I should have added that there should be an imprimatur on our practice, from someone recognized as knowing the real deal. No guarantees that Hombu's blessing only falls on those who practice "real" Aikido; it does tend to improve the signal-to-noise ratio, but is that blessing really your sole determinant of whether someone knows what real Aikido is?
Yours,
Brion Toss
ps
Mark, thanks for the kind words.

Mike Sigman
03-20-2005, 06:38 PM
In my earlier post, just after the "you know when you've tried to make it into something that it isn't" line, I added, "This might sound like the famous definition of pornography: 'I know it when I see it.'" Are you saying, then, that in order to recognize pornography, I must first do it? Would I need to be accredited by Johnny Wadd?
Of course, it's not a direct analogy, which is why I then added,"The difference is that we have a formal technical structure to draw on, plus a somewhat less formal spiritual structure. We can only recognize the real thing after significant amounts of study, and then we can point to the details that exemplify it." Perhaps I should have added that there should be an imprimatur on our practice, from someone recognized as knowing the real deal. No guarantees that Hombu's blessing only falls on those who practice "real" Aikido; it does tend to improve the signal-to-noise ratio, but is that blessing really your sole determinant of whether someone knows what real Aikido is? Sorry, but you haven't made any case to support your idea that you "know" what Aikido is. At best, you're going down the logic-path of "Acceptable Aikido is what people want it to be" without acknowledging that some things are not Aikido. Not everything is Aikido; you have shown no support in credentials, acknowledgement from experts, etc., that you are qualified to make your assertions, Brion. Do me a favor and address the basic idea of why anyone should accept your assertions... I.e., using some factual support and not your feelings.

I am not prudish about the definition of what is Aikido or any other martial art, but there must be some beginning definition and that beginning definition is taken into account in Asia by the lineage and the acknowledged standard-bearer of a specific martial art (the "Do-shu", in the case of Aikido). It is not determined by what every wannabe decides it to be.

I am also not nitpicky enough to want to break the rice-bowl of every wannabe-teacher who makes an income from teaching their take on what a particular martial art is.... but on the other hand, I think that sincere, dues-paying students who are paying for a particular "name-brand" martial art should rightfully expect that a "teacher" is honest enough to make clear the differences, how much personal take is in what they teach, etc. You may not think that it is important to be really clear with students that there may be differences in a school from the original art, but I do. I am not prudish, but I do have a bottom-line definition that starts with complete honesty.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

RonRagusa
03-20-2005, 07:07 PM
Aikido practitioners fall into two categories: archivists and innovators. Archivists seek to preserve the form of the art at a given point in time and hence maintain the structure and form of Aikido principles and techniques that reflect the the era of their interest. Innovators are looking to broaden the scope of Aikido beyond the boundaries of their schooling and so are willing to introduce new concepts and ideas into the body of Aikido knowledge.

It's interesting that there exists tension between the two camps. Adherents of either view fail to see the contributions of their opposites are necessary for the preservation of Aikido as a living evolving martial art.

Archivists insure that the history of the art is maintained and provide a continuity to Aikido's growth and evolution. It is through the archivists careful preservation of form and function that a student is able to trace the history of Aikido back to it's beginning without having to rely on books or other media. The whole history of Aikido is present 'in the flesh' for anyone to see and/or experience.

Innovators strike out on paths previously unmapped by their teachers. They seek to expand the envelope and broaden Aikido's horizons. Innovators are essential if the art is not to wither and eventually die out.

The cycle is never ending; archivists spawn innovators who in turn spawn archivists of their own who in turn spawn other innovators...
Archivists provide the raw material for growth, innovators process the raw material and push the art onward.

From The Art Of Peace by John Stevens:

'The techniques of the Way of Peace change constantly; every encounter is unique, and the appropriate response should emerge naturally. Today's techniques will be different tomorrow. Do not get caught up in the form and appearance of a challenge. The Art of Peace has no form -- it is the study of the spirit.'

L. Camejo
03-20-2005, 08:49 PM
I'd say you have to be one of the recognized experts (by the peer uchi-deshi of Ueshiba) of Aikido before you can claim your grasp of "Aikido" is such that you couldn't do anything counter to the essential intent of Aikido. I'd say a lot of people do or easily can do absolutely bogus stuff and claim that it's really Aikido. Until they have the go-ahead from the Do-Shu, they have no legitimacy and are just assumptive amateurs. And that's not just my view, either... that's the traditional view. If you have support for your position that counters that traditional view, I'd like to hear it.

Uhhh...

It depends on who's tradition imho. Did the first Doshu actually learn Ueshiba M.'s Aikido at Hombu or someone else's? There were in fact many uchideshi who were more technically proficient (and senior) than him during his coming up as Doshu. It is also noted that during a sizeable portion of that time, Ueshiba M. was absent from teaching in Tokyo and when he did, dealt with things of a more philosophical nature than technical. (http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=34)
LC:ai::ki:

Mike Sigman
03-20-2005, 09:08 PM
Aikido practitioners fall into two categories: archivists and innovators. (snip) You could say the same thing about mathematics... as long as you understand that there are basic principles that you cannot really change.

Mike

Mike Sigman
03-20-2005, 09:11 PM
Uhhh...

[URL=http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=34]It depends on who's tradition imho. Did the first Doshu actually learn Ueshiba M.'s Aikido at Hombu or someone else's? There were in fact many uchideshi who were more technically proficient (and senior) than him during his coming up as Doshu. (snip) Granted, that's true. But if someone wants permission to teach lineage Aikido, they don't go to those uchideshi, they go to the Doshu, don't they? In other words, the idea of orderliness in order to preserve a line is entrusted to the Doshu for a reason going back a long, long way. Wouldn't you agree?

Mike Sigman

Lorien Lowe
03-20-2005, 09:27 PM
...currently is host to a sail loft, rigging loft, and a shop that builds and repairs wooden boats.

Oh, I am soooooo jealous!

Tom Read Sensei, the dojo-cho where I train, was formally authorized to teach by Hikitsuchi Shihan after training with him in Shingu; Hikitsuchi Shihan trained with O'Sensei. Tom talks about how things were at Shingu, and from my perspective tries to keep his taijutsu fairly pure wrt what he learned there.
We are, however, an unaffiliated dojo; furthermore, Tom's stickwork is very unorthodox.

Are we doing aikido? absolutely.
Are we doing O'Sensei's aikido? Probably not. Tom has never claimed to have been enveloped by a golden mist, and to my knowledge no one besides O'Sensei (even the doshu) has ever claimed that either.
Are we doing Hikitsuchi's aikido? Probably not. Not being Japanese, there are aspects of his training and spirituality that we just won't get.

Are we even doing Tom Read's aikido? No. We're trying our best to learn the philosophy and the laws behind what Tom does, but even those of us who, like him, are over six feet tall and built with legs like telephone poles, can't climb inside his head and be him.

The idea that *anyone,* anywhere, can somehow transmit anything to future generations in its absolute pure form is bs, doshu or no. But is the current Doshu doing Aikido? Of course he is!

It's tempting here to post my list of aikido foci, but really that's not very worthwhile. Trying to define aikido is like trying to define zen; the guys in japan doing sesshin with their 'compassion sticks' probably are doing some form of zen; the stuff that's sold in avon probably has noting to do with it, despite being labeled as such. Everything else either is or isn't, to varying degrees, but without examining it in person it's pretty hard to say.

-LK

Chris Li
03-20-2005, 11:57 PM
Uhhh...

It depends on who's tradition imho. Did the first Doshu actually learn Ueshiba M.'s Aikido at Hombu or someone else's? There were in fact many uchideshi who were more technically proficient (and senior) than him during his coming up as Doshu. It is also noted that during a sizeable portion of that time, Ueshiba M. was absent from teaching in Tokyo and when he did, dealt with things of a more philosophical nature than technical. (http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=34)
LC:ai::ki:

Well the first doshu was Morihei Ueshiba, so he was probably around most of the time that he was teaching :).

The second doshu (Kisshomaru) wasn't doshu until 1969, at which time Morihei wasn't around all that much...

Kisshomaru took over the Kobukan in 1942 after training with nobody but his father and some Kashima Shinto-ryu instructors. There were people around after the war who were senior to him (that doesn't include Koichi Tohei), but he didn't spend much time training with them - he did spend time training with his father in Iwama (where one of his early students was Morihiro Saito) and Tokyo. Whose tradition did he represent, if not his father's? Certainly, he spent much more time training under his father than his father spent training under Sokaku Takeda, but nobody disputes the fact that Morihei was Sokaku's student.

Did some things change? Sure. Even in the most archival of the archival arts I can show you places where things changed. The real question is whether or not you believe that such changes are in line with the scope of the transmission.

Best,

Chris

Mike Sigman
03-21-2005, 07:57 AM
[QUOTE]We are, however, an unaffiliated dojo; furthermore, Tom's stickwork is very unorthodox.

Are we doing aikido? absolutely.
Are we doing O'Sensei's aikido? Probably not. "Absolutely"? Do you mean "absolutely" literally, or is this simply a hyperbolic opinion? Either way it appears to simply be assertion of fact. Do you think you could give some support other than just your opinion, please? The idea that *anyone,* anywhere, can somehow transmit anything to future generations in its absolute pure form is bs, doshu or no. But is the current Doshu doing Aikido? Of course he is! You're better than me... you appear to be arguing all sides of the argument simultaneously, but you're still simply arguing only by assertion/insistence. Take one example and use either logic or evidence to support it. How about this.... is a dojo in which everyone "takes a dive" for every throw doing legitimate Aikido? I.e., is this Aikido that would fit O-Sensei's definition of Aikido or is it something else?

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
03-21-2005, 07:59 AM
The real question is whether or not you believe that such changes are in line with the scope of the transmission. If the Doshu feels that such-and-such a dojo has gone too far and is not really doing Aikido and announces such, what do you think would be the outcome?

Regards,

Mike Sigman

CaseyD
03-21-2005, 08:42 AM
Ok, so you're (Mike) saying that Doshu is the only person in the world who can define what true Aikido is, and that can be no deviation from his Aikido? How about the uchi dechi who learned directly from O'Sensei?

Mike Sigman
03-21-2005, 09:46 AM
Ok, so you're (Mike) saying that Doshu is the only person in the world who can define what true Aikido is, and that can be no deviation from his Aikido? How about the uchi dechi who learned directly from O'Sensei? He gets to make the call. He is the doshu. Generally, I admit, this will never come up, particularly among the uchi-deshi, however, we weren't talking about the uchi-deshi per se, we were talking about the right of people to take anything they want to do and to then call it "Aikido". Do you understand that they don't really have the right to do that, regardless of any silence by the Doshu? If some dojo has nothing but throw-puppies doing dives for every poorly-done technique, you're not going to argue that it's real and traditional Aikido, are you?

Mike

Chris Li
03-21-2005, 09:59 AM
If the Doshu feels that such-and-such a dojo has gone too far and is not really doing Aikido and announces such, what do you think would be the outcome?

Regards,

Mike Sigman

They split off and do their own thing - happened before and will happen again, no doubt.

Best,

Chris

CaseyD
03-21-2005, 10:09 AM
If some dojo has nothing but throw-puppies doing dives for every poorly-done technique, you're not going to argue that it's real and traditional Aikido, are you?
I would probably agree with you if I saw something like that, however, you and I dont have the right to decide if that is Aikido or not.
There is good and bad everything in the world, Aikido included, and yes Doshu has the ultimate authority, but he is not the only person who does "True Aikido"
Just like aikido is not linear, neither is its transmission. O'sensei is the center and aikido's knowledge radiated outward from that center.
Here is a question for you,
Do you think that O'sensei intended for Aikido to evolve and grow, or that it should remain identical to his own?

Mike Sigman
03-21-2005, 10:12 AM
They split off and do their own thing - happened before and will happen again, no doubt. Sure... and best-case scenario is that they distinguish their "Aikido" (actually this happens in a lot of arts besides Aikido) by altering the name. "Tomiki Aikido" would be an example of a change that involves some modification from the original practices. Or "So-and-so Dojo Aikido". You don't just "split off and do your own thing" and still indicate that you're doing "traditional Aikido" at the same time. That's called misrepresentation or "fraud" in polite society. If you're manly (or womanly) enough to make changes to the base art, you need to be manly enough to step up and say so up front, rather than start the BS about how all things can be considered "Aikido", yada, yada, yada,... at least that's the traditional approach.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
03-21-2005, 10:19 AM
I would probably agree with you if I saw something like that, however, you and I dont have the right to decide if that is Aikido or not. Really? You would recognize that it's not right, but you're too polite to call a spade a spade?
There is good and bad everything in the world, Aikido included, and yes Doshu has the ultimate authority, but he is not the only person who does "True Aikido" I didn't say he was the only person who does "True Aikido", though, did I? I said he is the person who can make the call. He's also the person who guards the "Way"... that's why he is the "Do Shu". Just like aikido is not linear, neither is its transmission. What? Source? Cite? Here is a question for you,
Do you think that O'sensei intended for Aikido to evolve and grow, or that it should remain identical to his own? Am I supposed to guess what O-Sensei (I assume that's the same Irish guy you were talking about. ;) ) thought? Why don't you tell me what he thought and give me a source where it mentions "evolve", etc.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

CaseyD
03-21-2005, 10:29 AM
You contradict yourself. Doshu "makes the call" but you can "call a spade a spade"
I notice a pattern with you, after a few posts to get people sucked in to a discussion you start arguments. I dont see you citing any of your sources whenever you want to throw out an opinion. Would it have been ok with you if I had ended my post with "IMHO"?

Mike Sigman
03-21-2005, 11:37 AM
You contradict yourself. Doshu "makes the call" but you can "call a spade a spade"
I notice a pattern with you, .... (snip) I noticed a pattern with you immediately, but since personalities aren't the subject of the discussion I overcame the impulse to drag the conversation to that level. Shall we agree to dispense with the personal observations?

Regards,

Mike Sigman

CaseyD
03-21-2005, 11:52 AM
What's the matter? Truth hurt?

L. Camejo
03-21-2005, 01:15 PM
Does the Ueshiba family (or the Doshu) have any sort of copyright or legal documentation giving them the legal right to ownership of the term "Aikido" and therefore determine its usage? If not this is a moot point. The Doshu's only real power then would be the ability to say what is "Aikikai" Aikido or the Aikido of Ueshiba Morihei's Hombu Dojo and those who follow that particular training method. He would have no place in trying to define what "Aikido" is across the various training systems and methodologies that exist. All he could define is his own Aikido, which is that of the Aikikai Hombu I guess.

Even the term "traditional" Aikido may not be as set in stone as some may think. Since it depends on who is the person teaching the tradition in many ways. For example, had Tomiki's ideas been viewed favourably by those at the Kobukan during the time that he was an Instructor there, it is very possible that what is seen as a different style today may have become "traditional" Aikido when Tomiki was a teacher at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo.

In the end I think it's important for each individual to know what their Aikido is, regardless of the politics. Is the name so important, or the connection one has with the word? If tomorrow our Shihan and Directors decided to change the name of what we do to something else, I'd gladly concur.:) In the end it depends on if what you are studying is working for you. If it doesn't, then no amount of "tradition" will change the fact that you may be happier doing something else.

Just 2 cents.
LC:ai::ki:

Mike Sigman
03-21-2005, 01:32 PM
Does the Ueshiba family (or the Doshu) have any sort of copyright or legal documentation giving them the legal right to ownership of the term "Aikido" and therefore determine its usage? If not this is a moot point. In moral relativism, everything is a moot point. There is no right or wrong.

Moral relativism is the consequence of accepting Moore's "naturalistic fallacy" as true, for if good is indefinable and inexplicable in the objective terms of natural science, it is meaningless to base actions on anything but subjective or cultural preferences :) In the end it depends on if what you are studying is working for you. The problem with these sorts of arguments is that they never acknowledge the side of the argument that there are things that are wrong, incorrect, etc. In fact, no definition of anything really works in relativism because there are no definitions. There is no such thing as ethics, either. If anything is Aikido, why dress up and pretend to do anything, Larry? No one can do any wrong movement in your dojo, as far as I can tell, and have it not be Aikido. ;)

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Chris Li
03-21-2005, 01:34 PM
Does the Ueshiba family (or the Doshu) have any sort of copyright or legal documentation giving them the legal right to ownership of the term "Aikido" and therefore determine its usage? If not this is a moot point.

Trademark rights arise from prior usage and don't require any type of registration or legal documentation. What registration does do is help you to establish prior usage if it comes to a conflict. Some arts in Japan have actually gotten legally registered because of court disputes (Kyokushinkai Karate and Daito-ryu come to mind), but so far as I know the Aikikai has neither gone to court over that kind of thing nor formally registered the name "Aikido". Now, what happens once you get into a courtroom is often hard to predict, but it seems to me that the Aikikai would likely have a strong case, if they ever went to court, which doesn't seem very likely to me. In any case, simple politeness in the Japanese martial arts usually calls for some kind of a name change - ie, it's impolite to teach Billy-Bob Ryu if you're not actually Billy-Bob, but it's usually acceptable to teach Bubba-Ha Billy-Bob Ryu if you go out on your own.

Best,

Chris

Bill Danosky
03-21-2005, 03:07 PM
In moral relativism, everything is a moot point. There is no right or wrong.


Just wanted to advance this idea and see how it stands up in the light of day:

IMHO, (yes, I do qualify every statement I make this way) If an act is selfish in it's nature or intention, this defines it as morally wrong. If it's selfless or unselfish, it is moral. ??

Brion Toss
03-21-2005, 03:53 PM
Sorry, but you haven't made any case to support your idea that you "know" what Aikido is. At best, you're going down the logic-path of "Acceptable Aikido is what people want it to be" without acknowledging that some things are not Aikido. Not everything is Aikido; you have shown no support in credentials, acknowledgement from experts, etc., that you are qualified to make your assertions, Brion. Do me a favor and address the basic idea of why anyone should accept your assertions... I.e., using some factual support and not your feelings.

I am not prudish about the definition of what is Aikido or any other martial art, but there must be some beginning definition and that beginning definition is taken into account in Asia by the lineage and the acknowledged standard-bearer of a specific martial art (the "Do-shu", in the case of Aikido). It is not determined by what every wannabe decides it to be.

I am also not nitpicky enough to want to break the rice-bowl of every wannabe-teacher who makes an income from teaching their take on what a particular martial art is.... but on the other hand, I think that sincere, dues-paying students who are paying for a particular "name-brand" martial art should rightfully expect that a "teacher" is honest enough to make clear the differences, how much personal take is in what they teach, etc. You may not think that it is important to be really clear with students that there may be differences in a school from the original art, but I do. I am not prudish, but I do have a bottom-line definition that starts with complete honesty.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Hello again,
I believe we are talking about at least two things here: transmission of lineage; and definition. The former is, by tradition, at least, only possible by way of the Doshu. I like and accept that tradition, as it gives me a formal basis for relating to the art, as well as to other practitioners of the art. My own teacher, for example, is certified through Hombu, was taught primarily by teachers (some of them shihans) who studied directly with O-Sensei, as well as by others (some also shihans) who studied with his deshi. My place in the formal hierarchy is well-defined enough for me, at least.
Definition, however, is another matter entirely. Just because some people go down the path of saying, "Acceptable Aikido is what people want it to be" doesn't mean that all speculation is invalid, and I certainly don't recall implying or stating anything of the sort. I am not writing definitions for the Doshu's consideration (Dear Mr. Ueshiba, thought you might like to get straight on the stuff your grandad put together, so I'll lay it all out for you...); I am working to come to a personal realization on the nature of an art that I am only marginally qualified to claim comprehension of, and am doing so, in part, by having instigated a conversation on this web site. I did not title the thread, "Here is a formal definition of Aikido, no matter what the Doshu might think". For you to indicate, based on the entries thus far, that I should keep quiet unless the Doshu says it's okay reeks of the worst excesses of orthodoxy.
Why do you assume that I want, as you put it, that "anyone should accept [my] assertions"? For that matter, what assertions have I made? And even if I were to hazard anything like a definitive statement, for crying out loud this is an Internet discussion, not the Council at Nicea.You keep saying that you are "not prudish", but everthing else you say tends to belie that statement (Prude: One who is excessively concerned with being or appearing to be proper, modest, or righteous).
On what basis, by what credentials, do you take it upon yourself to attempt to stifle open discussion? On what basis, by what credentials, do you seek to impugn my ethics ("You may not think that it is important to be really clear with students that there may be differences in a school from the original art, but I do"), in the absence of any evidence supporting your words?
I agree that formal transmission of lineage is important. I agree that, as you noted, "...there are basic principles that you cannot really change." I am asking, "What are those principles?" At the outset, I said, "I know that there are a lot of descriptions of what constitutes Aikido, but at the moment they don't seem sufficient." If you disagree, I can relate to that; I cannot and will not refuse to ask the question.
Yours,
Brion Toss

Lorien Lowe
03-21-2005, 06:05 PM
How 'pure' does aikido have to be to still be called aikido?
(rhetorical).
If someone learned for years from O'Sensei, or from O'Sensei's uchi deshi, and was formally authorized to teach aikido, and remains true to what they were taught as best they can, I would say that they are doing aikido regardless of whom they pay or do not pay fees for recognition.
If that person's students can go to Japan to train and be recognized as doing aikido, then I think that the teacher has been succesful at teaching aikido regardless of who signed their dan certificates. When that person's students are frequently chosen as ukes when they go to Japan, or when they visit other dojos in the states, I think that person has been succesful at teaching aikido.

I am reminded of Protestants saying that Catholics aren't 'real Christians' because they regard Mary too highly, or Mahayana Buddhists saying that Theravada Buddhists aren't really Buddhists because they don't take the boddhisattva vow.

As for dojos where everyone 'takes a dive,' I have no idea; I've never been in one.

Question for Mike: given your emphasis on 'tradition,' do you consider non-aikikai organizations to be teaching aikido in any form or none at all?

-LK

Mike Sigman
03-21-2005, 06:31 PM
How 'pure' does aikido have to be to still be called aikido?
(rhetorical). Would you posit that Aikido has a certain number of basic principles? Would you agree that if the basic principles of a discipline are missing, it is not correct? If so, I easily agree that if the basic principles are there, THEN variations don't matter much. It is when the basic principles are not there (and way of movement is one of them) and people claim they have met the requirements for the discipline that I object. And I think that's what many other people also object to, even within the Aikido community. I am reminded of Protestants saying that Catholics aren't 'real Christians' because they regard Mary too highly, or Mahayana Buddhists saying that Theravada Buddhists aren't really Buddhists because they don't take the boddhisattva vow. Perhaps you think along these lines of "belief" because your Aikido is based more on belief than on substance? As for dojos where everyone 'takes a dive,' I have no idea; I've never been in one. Then you just impressed a lot of people with your naivete'. ;) Question for Mike: given your emphasis on 'tradition,' do you consider non-aikikai organizations to be teaching aikido in any form or none at all? -LK I have never paid any attention to "organizations"... I follow the art. If the basics are there, I appreciate a dojo. If not, I don't call it Aikido (or whatever art). I'm all for dojo equality. ;)

Mike

Mike Sigman
03-21-2005, 06:36 PM
For that matter, what assertions have I made? And even if I were to hazard anything like a definitive statement, for crying out loud this is an Internet discussion, not the Council at Nicea. Go back and look for the declarative sentences in your posts, Brion, if you're not sure what an assertion is. I pointed out a couple, like in what you "know". And yes... this is an internet discussion forum, hence both you and I are commenting.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

L. Camejo
03-21-2005, 07:44 PM
No one can do any wrong movement in your dojo, as far as I can tell, and have it not be Aikido. ;)

Well that depends. What is your definition of Aikido?

I know what mine is and what I am looking for when I say so and what is done by me and others who train with me conform to our organisation's view of what it is. Beyond that, I could not care what others believe or say it to be or not be, if it resembles what I think it is we have a good time training and I stay around, if not, you never see me again. I don't pretend to know anything about anything, but if there is something to learn, regardless of what it is called, I am there.

This is why I think it is up to the individual to define what the general term "Aikido" is to his or her self, the particular "Aikido" however can be specifically defined, qualified and quantified and by extension one can determine what it is and is not. The thing is, the particular definition of what constitutes Aikido practice is not the same across the board, hence the various styles and methods.

As I indicated in my last post, it really does not matter to me at all who believes what is "traditional" or "true" etc. When you step on the mat and get to the training all that fades away. In the end either you stay or go. If the name of what I do changed tomorrow I'd still be doing it the way we do it until instructed to do otherwise from those higher up within the system.;)

Gambatte.
LC:ai::ki:

Mike Sigman
03-21-2005, 08:19 PM
This is why I think it is up to the individual to define what the general term "Aikido" is to his or her self, the particular "Aikido" however can be specifically defined, qualified and quantified and by extension one can determine what it is and is not. Ah. So I assume that you can specifically define, qualify, and quantify what "Aikido" is, since you are using the name and claim to teach it? How about defining it for me?

Regards,

Mike Sigman

L. Camejo
03-21-2005, 08:47 PM
Ah. So I assume that you can specifically define, qualify, and quantify what "Aikido" is, since you are using the name and claim to teach it? How about defining it for me?

Well that depends. What is your definition of Aikido?

;)
LC:ai::ki:

Bill Danosky
03-22-2005, 03:30 PM
It seems like there would be a scale of credibility decending from the current Doshu, on down through the rankings of the Uchi deshi, including well-reviewed authors, the accredited instructors and so on. At some point on that scale, most individuals will find a point where their faith wavers.

A general consensus could probably be reached and may already be established. In Yoshinkan Aikido, for instance, this is a pretty strict and formalized list.

rob_liberti
03-23-2005, 10:42 AM
By the way, about taking a dive:

According to Henry Kono, when he was at Hombu dojo (O-sensei was there at that time) if people resisted a technique in anyway before they were 3rd degree black belts they would be sent to the side of the mat to practice rolling.

I've heard directly and indirectly from several sources, including uchi deshi of O-sensei, that O-sensei said that you should not resist techniques before sandan. So, I can see where someone might get confused about how to practice - as they might take that to mean total evasion and just falling for people. It should be noted that those same teachers have some students who are beyond sandan that do not seem to have suffered from that methodology.

Rob

Lorien Lowe
03-23-2005, 02:15 PM
Then you just impressed a lot of people with your naivete'.

Oh, wow, Mike. I didn't know that when I said 'I have no idea,I've never been in a dive dojo' that no one but you would recognize that that meant that I'm naieve to dive dojos. Thank you so much for clearing that up for everyone. I would hate for my point not to come across for lack of clarity.

I have never paid any attention to "organizations"... I follow the art. If the basics are there, I appreciate a dojo. If not, I don't call it Aikido (or whatever art).

That's not what you said in post #8: "Until they have the go-ahead from the Do-Shu, they have no legitimacy and are just assumptive amateurs..."

So which is it? Formal recognition from the head of Aikikai makes aikido, or basic elements makes aikdo? Is everyone in the Ki Society, and everyone in an unaffiliated dojo, etc. an assumptive amateur who shouldn't say that they are doing aikido? Just asking for an opinion.

-LK

Mike Sigman
03-23-2005, 02:34 PM
That's not what you said in post #8: "Until they have the go-ahead from the Do-Shu, they have no legitimacy and are just assumptive amateurs..."

So which is it? Formal recognition from the head of Aikikai makes aikido, or basic elements makes aikdo? Is everyone in the Ki Society, and everyone in an unaffiliated dojo, etc. an assumptive amateur who shouldn't say that they are doing aikido? Just asking for an opinion. Er, what has the fact that I don't get involved in organizations (Ki Society, Aikikai, Yoshinkan, etc.), keeping my eye on the essences, got to do with people making up their own arts and calling them "Aikido"? Certainly I believe in basic elements and I don't think a name should be used for an art if the art you practice has different elements. If the practice of a martial art has the basics, then I don't care whose organization it belongs to... I don't do organizations.

Mike

rob_liberti
03-25-2005, 08:39 AM
I'll bite. What do you think the basics are?

(I don't mind "personal observations" becuase I'm standing on solid ground. I say a forum is a forum, and if you call attention to something about your personality, someone might comment on it. If you want to avoid it, stop trying to make an arbitrary rule about it, and try not calling attention to such things in the first place. Just my 2 cents - because it is in fact a forum. )

Rob

Ketsan
03-27-2005, 10:24 AM
Is it not also the case that each Doshu has subtly changed how Aikido is done. I know, for example, that we're taught two different ways of taking ukemi for nikkyo which apparently come from the 2nd and 3rd Doshu.

Aristeia
03-27-2005, 01:23 PM
Er, what has the fact that I don't get involved in organizations (Ki Society, Aikikai, Yoshinkan, etc.), keeping my eye on the essences, got to do with people making up their own arts and calling them "Aikido"?

You've nicely sidestepped Lorien's point, so let me make it again. You've previously indicated that to be Aikido, you need to be recognised by the Doshu as doing such. This is an organisational matter. How do yo explain that apparent contradiction.
How about a hypothetical, what if after the current Doshu's death, his son on taking office issues notice that he no longer considers Ki Society to be doing Aikido? Does that make it stop being Aikido or would that make the Doshu wrong?

DustinC
04-22-2005, 01:41 PM
There is a quote on the back of John Stevens Invincible Warrior...
"The secret to Aikido is not how you move your feet it is how you move your mind. I'm not teaching you martial techniques, I'm teaching nonviolence." -Morihei Ueshiba

MM
04-25-2005, 09:29 PM
Granted, that's true. But if someone wants permission to teach lineage Aikido, they don't go to those uchideshi, they go to the Doshu, don't they? In other words, the idea of orderliness in order to preserve a line is entrusted to the Doshu for a reason going back a long, long way. Wouldn't you agree?

Mike Sigman

Guess I don't agree here. Especially since at this point in time, there are various schools that have legitimacy with Hombu. In other words, people are studying under those uchideshi and are learning Aikido. They have different grading syllabus but Hombu recognizes their ranks.

Mark

jss
04-26-2005, 09:48 AM
I get the impression this thread suffers from the two different perspectives of the participants: some are speaking from a practical/technical/... perspective and others from the philosophical/emlightened/... perspective.

Example:
No one can do any wrong movement in your dojo, as far as I can tell, and have it not be Aikido.
When I have the intention to practice aikido, everything I do is aikido. It might be good aikido, bad aikido, deluded aikido, but it IS aikido, it is part of my aikido-path. From this follows that no matter what I do on the mat, it won't be aikido, because with my limited experience in aikido, the principles that make up aikido will be not be sufficiently present in what I do. And since for all of us there is some room for improvement, no one does aikido.

So everybody is right. Rejoice! ;)