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AikiWeb System
05-22-2005, 12:30 AM
AikiWeb Poll for the week of May 22, 2005:

Should spirituality play a part in an aikido curriculum?

I don't do aikido
Yes
No


Here are the current results (http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=273).

siwilson
05-22-2005, 02:00 AM
I vored no, as Aikido can be practiced as a physical activity with no spiritual aspects. There are many who do not believe in some magical force that allows us to do Aikido, but simply timing, distance and balance.

SeiserL
05-22-2005, 09:16 AM
IMHO, since Omoto spirituality played such a role in the evolutions from Daito-ryu to Aikido, I believe that spirituality play a part in Aikido training and curriculum whether its ever talk about or not.

So I guess that's a qualified yes vote.

siwilson
05-22-2005, 09:20 AM
As opposed to my qualified no? ;)

Chef CJ
05-22-2005, 08:34 PM
Certainly spirituality of Aikido is as varied as the individuals who participate and are students of this art. For myself, the spirituality implied by the very name Aikido is felt when training and especially when a technique is done correctly.

I can see the physical activity and timing could be learned without such a feeling but I, for one, feel that is goes beyond a learning process to a different level. I am at peace on the mat or when at home practicing more than just going thru the motions. If that was all it was to me I probably would not have much interest in it over time.

Secondly, it is my opinion that the spirituality of Aikido is the tie that binds the Aikidoka I have met and myself. That common ground that is more than just having done the same activity. We are a different breed for the most part.

This is my humble ranting and I thank you for your time.

Charles Hill
05-23-2005, 03:14 AM
Again, the word "curriculum." I guess that would mean overt spiritual practices would have to be part of practice, right?

Paul Kerr
05-23-2005, 04:04 AM
I voted no, for pretty much the same reasons as Si has said. You can bring 'spirituality' into your training in a myriad of ways if you so choose. I choose not to. Moreover, I am actively put off by teachers who insist one views aikido in this way.

Mary Eastland
05-23-2005, 06:06 AM
I voted yes because for me it does. But I don't like the "should" word I would be more comfortable with "could". I think it is up to the individual not the dojo.
Mary

deepsoup
05-23-2005, 12:11 PM
I'm with Si too.
As far as I'm concerned there is no spiritual element to my training, because I have no idea (or interest in) what "spiritual" is supposed to mean. I find physical training and mental discipline quite enough to be going on with.

Sean
x

Aiki Teacher
05-23-2005, 08:16 PM
I believe that spirituality can be an important part of ones Aikido, but I do not believe that spirituality should be taught by the instructor. It is each persons responsibility to find their own "way" in Aikido. I believe that this way is also tied up in the Spiritual aspect. I come to Aikido to study Aikido not to get spiritual training. Being a Christian, their are things I believe spirituality that do not agree with Buddhism, Zen, or Hinduism. I don't push my religion on others in my classes and I do not appreciate these other religions being pushed on me.

No the philosophical aspect of Aikido is okay to discus. Harmony in life, peace, self sacrifice and the defeating of oneself is great discussion material for class, but pressing ones religious beliefs are not. Of Course this is my belief!

gstevens
05-24-2005, 08:39 AM
What is the difference between Aikijujutsu and Aikido?

If there is no "spirituality" in our practices why are we on the AikiDO mat? Why not some other mat where the founder was a bad @$$ that thought killing the opponent was better than subduing them without injury?

I don't know about other people's dojo, but in ours we frequently discuss (are taught) the differences between methods in techniques that further escalate a potential conflict situation, and methods that will help defuse it. Why? Why not just make sure that we are the ones that instantaneously escalate the situation to a mortal one?

Could it be that one of the issues that we are struggling with in this discussion is the concepts that traditional western RELIGION has imposed on the world spirituality? The eastern concepts of spirituality as I am able to grasp them would think that this was a silly conversation, how can you do anything in life without your spirit being involved?

I don't' think that we can take the spirituality out of Aikido. It is there in the techniques, in the practice. It was put there by the founder and is carried through by most of the people that practice it, even when they aren't thinking about it. (There are Aikijujutsu dojos out there that are labeled Aikido, but that would seem to be another thread to me.) It would seem to me that the very things that make our art Aikido are the spirit of the practice.

I have trained with a few people that were there only for the workout, or the techniques, and I have found it difficult at times to work with them. The difference seems to me to be that between being a partner with them figuring out a spiritual and physical practice, and being a slab of meat that they want to throw around to prove to themselves how tough or bad ass they are. In the former any people of any two levels can work together and learn things about the art, both spiritually and physically. In the latter we should all make sure that those of us above third kyu bow to them before the white belts do.

Now if I walked into a Dojo and they were quoting Bible, or Koran verses I would not even take off my shoes before I headed back out the door. Religion is different for me than spirituality. I have never understood the draw to religion that some people have. For them it is fine, as long as they are fine with my refusal to practice it. (Most are not, which is why I am so uncomfortable with it!)

Spirituality is separate from religion, the spirituality of a dojo is not something that is preached, or attempts to convert someone to something, it permeates the place like the air, or the sounds of people training. The way that techniques are discussed, practiced, the way that new people are greeted and welcomed. It is apparent in the ways that we train with each other, a good indicator for me is a question; "Am I afraid in this place?"

Guy
:-)

Chuck Clark
05-24-2005, 09:01 AM
Nice post. Thanks.

Chef CJ
05-24-2005, 07:23 PM
Well said guy.

ShugyoSystems
05-24-2005, 11:31 PM
Another cheer for Guy, well said.

I wonder... The difference in vote between this and the last poll is remarkable...

So what's the difference?

Guy says "Spirituality is separate from religion"... How's that?

deepsoup
05-25-2005, 03:47 AM
Spirituality is separate from religion, the spirituality of a dojo is not something that is preached, or attempts to convert someone to something, it permeates the place like the air, or the sounds of people training. The way that techniques are discussed, practiced, the way that new people are greeted and welcomed. It is apparent in the ways that we train with each other, a good indicator for me is a question; "Am I afraid in this place?"

I agree its a nice post, but i just don't buy it. It comes down to what 'spirituality' means, and to me you don't need the concept of spirituality to talk about this, its just the culture of the dojo.

For me, this is not spirituality, its just people.
"Are these good people? Do they treat each other kindly?" These are simple questions about human behaviour, you don't need the concept of spirituality to find the answers.

Sean
x

Paul Kerr
05-25-2005, 04:28 AM
If there is no "spirituality" in our practices why are we on the AikiDO mat?

I know a lot of JuDOka. I've rarely heard any of them say that "spirituality" defines their art.

"Are these good people? Do they treat each other kindly?" These are simple questions about human behaviour, you don't need the concept of spirituality to find the answers.


Well said.

beanchild
05-25-2005, 01:09 PM
i agree with Guy.
spirituality (not in a religious sense) is inherent in practising aikido.

Paul Kerr
05-25-2005, 01:46 PM
i agree with Guy.
spirituality (not in a religious sense) is inherent in practising aikido.

How, specifically?

Charles Hill
05-25-2005, 06:57 PM
I, too, like Guy`s post. Here are just a few comments;

The Japanese word for "spiritual" is seishin. Seishin has a bit of a different nuance than spiritual. To my mind, seishin means spiritual, psychological, and mental attitude. For example, "mental illness" in Japanese is "seishin byo" seishin sickness. I think something like, "You`re in good spirits today" reflects a good parallel between the two words. It seems that the word spiritual is divorced from everyday life in the west. So, not just "religious" but also "spiritual" has a different meaning between east and west.

I don`t think a lack of seishin is a defining point of "jutsu" arts. Respecting the seishin of one`s partners is close to essential in developing superior martial skills, in my opinion. (However reading Sugino Sensei`s (KSR) comments on a demonstration of Takeda Sokaku`s, I realized that it may not be 100% essential.)

We have to remember that the Founder did "preach" constantly during practice sessions and in fact quoted the Bible. He didn`t overtly attempt to convert people, but he did say things like, "you guys can`t understand Aikido because you don`t read the Kojiki," which to him had specific religous meaning.

Charles

siwilson
05-26-2005, 01:34 AM
I, too, like Guy`s post. Here are just a few comments;

The Japanese word for "spiritual" is seishin. Seishin has a bit of a different nuance than spiritual. To my mind, seishin means spiritual, psychological, and mental attitude. For example, "mental illness" in Japanese is "seishin byo" seishin sickness. I think something like, "You`re in good spirits today" reflects a good parallel between the two words. It seems that the word spiritual is divorced from everyday life in the west. So, not just "religious" but also "spiritual" has a different meaning between east and west.

I don`t think a lack of seishin is a defining point of "jutsu" arts. Respecting the seishin of one`s partners is close to essential in developing superior martial skills, in my opinion. (However reading Sugino Sensei`s (KSR) comments on a demonstration of Takeda Sokaku`s, I realized that it may not be 100% essential.)

We have to remember that the Founder did "preach" constantly during practice sessions and in fact quoted the Bible. He didn`t overtly attempt to convert people, but he did say things like, "you guys can`t understand Aikido because you don`t read the Kojiki," which to him had specific religious meaning.

Charles

Charles,

Excellent post and a really good reference to Sokaku Takeda Sensei too.

The exact same could be said of O'Sensei too, though. He was asked to demonstrate Aikido for the Crown Prince of Japan and refused, saying he would have to kill someone, but later agreed to a "demonstration". He trashed his first Uke with the first technique, who was unable to continue and was carried away! Another Uke came forward, Gozo Shioda Sensei, who lasted the demonstration, but was bed ridden for 6 weeks!

I think these events remind us that O'Sensei was a hard and extreme martial artist. Remember his dojo was known as Jigoku Dojo (Hell Dojo). This is contrary to the strange gentle opinion that so many people have come to develop of Aikido.

Thanks, Charles. I liked that post.

Si

Pauliina Lievonen
05-26-2005, 02:16 AM
Are you using the above example of Ueshiba as an example of a lack of spirituality, Si? I don't see it.

I don't think it's necessary to equate spirituality wih gentleness.

BTW I'm always a bit confused by the word as well, it can be translated into Finnish with two different words one of which has more of a "mental" flavor and the other a "religious" one, so I never know quite what English speaking people mean...

kvaak
Pauliina

Marc Pieniazek
05-26-2005, 07:11 AM
I agree with Guy on this.

Spirituality is too often confused with religion. I believe someone commented that Guy's post wasn't spirituality but just examples of good natured people.

On the contrary, to me, your moral and ethical nature is core to your spirituality.

Another difference to me is; spirituality isn't spread the way (Western) religions are: mostly through fear.

gregstec
05-26-2005, 08:42 AM
Ditto on what Guy said - his insight on the issue must come from the 'spirituality' of trimming the sails on his boat in order to harmonize with the ki of the wind and the waves :)

Spirituality can mean many thing to many people - here is a link to some of those definitions. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&rls=GGLD,GGLD:2004-40,GGLD:en&oi=defmore&q=define:Spirituality

To me, I see spirituality in all things and I am probably the most non-religious, down-to-earth individual you may ever meet. Of course, there is spiritually in Aikido and it should be included in the curriculum - without it, there would be no 'life' to the techniques.

Greg Steckel

rogerw
05-26-2005, 09:45 AM
Hello!
Spirituality is a personnal path. I beleive Morihei Ueshiba created Aikido in harmony with some unusual or 'divine' paterns. It is also a very effective and technical martial art.
Considering this, one could practice Aikido for 30 years without even thinking to the word 'spirituality'. But another one could also find a way to develop his spirituality and getting another part of O-Sensei's teaching.
For example, Saito Sensei had a great Kokyu power, Hikitsuchi Sensei developped the power of Ki; each of them took a part of the founder's teaching. Every Aikido practicioner can express Aikido in the way he understands it.
Aikido is a tool to become who you really are, and spirituality is a tool to help you.
''Know who you are and you'll know your opponent.''
But this a personnal choice, not an obligation.
:ai: :ki: :do:

Qatana
05-28-2005, 10:06 AM
Since OSensei was taught aikido by the Kami, and the Kami are Spiritual Beings...

MM
06-07-2005, 06:21 PM
What is the difference between Aikijujutsu and Aikido?

If there is no "spirituality" in our practices why are we on the AikiDO mat? Why not some other mat where the founder was a bad @$$ that thought killing the opponent was better than subduing them without injury?

I don't know about other people's dojo, but in ours we frequently discuss (are taught) the differences between methods in techniques that further escalate a potential conflict situation, and methods that will help defuse it.


Here, I think is one of the differences between spirituality and religion. In Aikido, we learn blending, harmony, and redirection in relation to energy that is used in an aggresive manner. At some point in one's training, this learning influences and changes one's state of mind. One becomes more attuned to people, to their intent, to conflict resolution, and how to achieve a calm, relaxed state of mind in dealing with people. That's spirituality. And learning Aikido slowly progresses you towards that goal.

Religion would be where one would hold Ueshiba up in high esteem and use him, his sayings, and his views in dealing with people and events. Ueshiba would become a focal point, rather than the individual being the focal point. Religion has to do with using external people, ideas, things, etc as a way to hopefully better oneself. Spirituality deals with oneself and how one deals internally with the environment. Religion is rarely 24 hours a day, but spirituality is usually 24 hours a day.


Could it be that one of the issues that we are struggling with in this discussion is the concepts that traditional western RELIGION has imposed on the world spirituality?


Oh, man, that's a definite yes.


I don't' think that we can take the spirituality out of Aikido. It is there in the techniques, in the practice. It was put there by the founder and is carried through by most of the people that practice it, even when they aren't thinking about it.


I agree. What makes aikido so spiritual is the "aiki", not the "do." You can have any "do" but that won't necessarily create a spiritual aspect. But, when you start learning about how to neutralize aggression without returning it, or by redirecting energy to dissapate it, then you are learning to view the world in a way that says, hey, here's someone who is trying to hurt me, but I'm going to not escalate my level to his/hers, but rather I will remain calm and relaxed and protect myself. Should things escalate even further, then I will still remain calm and relaxed. If in protecting myself, I can protect my attacker, that's fine. If not, that's fine. I will still remain calm, relaxed, and centered. That's learning to be spiritual.

Mark