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bindie32
06-08-2005, 11:35 AM
hello all,

The original reason iwas going to get into an MA was Shinkendo. i have always loved Samurai and the culture of Japan and my innder child has a desire to learn japanese sword, which is what first drew me to aikido. After all my research i am hooked and excited to finally start soon. I was just wondering how "Samurai" is aikido or is it more overall Japanese Bushido lifestyle and spirituality (which i guess is very Samurai) Hmmmm....


Thanks

Justin

Nick Simpson
06-08-2005, 11:50 AM
Not very.

Aikido is generally considered by most to be budo, which is something else.

Stefan Stenudd
06-08-2005, 11:54 AM
Oh, I wouldn't know. Maybe you should try narrowing the question down? There are so many meanings of the word samurai - especially in how it is used today, in the world of Martial arts.

And talking about words - Shinkendo strikes me as slightly amusing. The way of the real sword... Almost every advanced iaido teacher uses a shinken.

Just had to say that :)

Ron Tisdale
06-08-2005, 12:04 PM
Shinkendo strikes me as slightly amusing.
Hmmm....I'm sure Obata Sensei would be *real* amused... :) I just wouldn't say that in the same room with him.... :D

From www.dictionary.com:

The Japanese feudal military aristocracy.
A professional warrior belonging to this class.

What this doesn't mention is that said class was abolished in the 1800s. Sooooooo....since Aikido was created in the 1900s, I wouldn't be too quick to ascribe it some great 'samurai' status. Not without wincing a bit at the same time. That said, there are some customs loosely borrowed from that class which we see in aikido. I don't think we should deny that...just perhaps not make too much of it.

Best,
Ron

Kevin Leavitt
06-08-2005, 12:31 PM
Go watch Shogun or other period movies if you want to get the feel for feudal japanese warrior culture. Certainly aikido is well rooted in traditional japanese culture, ettiquitte, and the like, which is aligned with many aspects of samurai ethos.

I would think seriously about why I was studying martial arts, aikido in particular if this was a primary motivating factor though. Lots of money, time, and effort will be spent doing things that have very little to do with this. You could by lots of books, movies etc on the culture that would get you closer to it...and have the time to read and watch them, than studying aikido will bring!

Besides, you will probably find that the majority of people in the dojo will not be that interested in that stuff!

Ron Tisdale
06-08-2005, 12:43 PM
Shinkendo has a number of meanings depending on the calligraphy, or kanji, used to depict the various characters. Shinken is what a real Japanese sword is called; however, shin can also mean true or serious, as in your pursuit of life and training (therefore, the term "shinkendo" can also be interpreted as "the way of living your life seriously and fully".); shin can also mean mind and spirit, as the art affords you a way to forge both. Shin can mean god, in that we should respect our world and nature, and espouse world peace. Shinkendo does not have to stop at the door of the dojo, but can be thought of as a path to follow, and a strategy of mind to apply in your life and its day to day activities. That is how this art came about. I created the International Shinkendo Federation to promote those ideals, because the truth begets the truth...


Soke Obata Toshishiro, October 1996

Chuck.Gordon
06-09-2005, 01:42 AM
I was just wondering how "Samurai" is aikido or is ...


It's not. The founder of the art was a commoner, living in a time after the samurai as a class had already been abolished.

He was a student of a man whose family had been samurai, but after the Meiji Restoration, threre were no samurai, only dreams of the good (bad?) old days.

But ... neither are any of the other budo particularly more 'samurai' than aikido. Aikido is, however, a good budo, and you can learn a lot about yourself, about budo and about some of the mindset and practices of the Japanese warrior class in aikido.


... it more overall Japanese Bushido lifestyle and spirituality (which i guess is very Samurai) ...


Well, since 'bushido' is a pretty nebulous thing (there was never a single, unified code of bushido), and the ethical and moral behavior of the samuari as individuals ranged from santly to demonic, it'd be tough to ascribe to that class anything resembling an overarching legacy of behavior and attitudes that reflected the many and varied activities, beliefs and legacies of the class.

Look, if you want to learn about the samurai, there are plenty of good books (look up anything by Karl Friday, Ellis Amdur or Dave Lowry for starters, and get your hands on the 'Koryu Budo' trilogy edited by Diane Skoss).

If you want to learn budo, there are plenty of good (and way too many bad) schools around.

Living the samurai way is a fantasy. Learning budo can be a reality.

Chuck

AikiSean!
06-09-2005, 02:25 AM
I was wondering. After the authorities at the time said the way of the samurai was to be abolished, all samurai hung up their katanas and that was that? It was never practiced again even in secret?

deepsoup
06-09-2005, 03:38 AM
What "way of the samurai" ?
I suggest taking a moment to read Chuck Gordon's post again, slowly.
We all should, its a good 'un.

Sean
x

Chuck.Gordon
06-09-2005, 03:44 AM
After the authorities at the time said the way of the samurai was to be abolished, all samurai hung up their katanas and that was that? It was never practiced again even in secret?

Wasn't so much about practicing anything. It was more their station in society.

Being a samurai wasn't about being a warrior, exactly. In fact, for much of Japanese history, they were far more bureaucrats than soldiers ...

When the class was abolished, it was expressly forbidden to wear the daisho (paired long and short swords); other prohibitions were in place as well, and yes, there was some resistance and even armed conflict (the movie Last Samurai depicts this period, though not particularly historically ...).

Part of the fallout was that budo actually sort of got a kickstart. Lots of unemployed former samurai who had been sword (or other weapons and unarmed as well) teachers for a lord or family opened dojo publicly, or became itinerant budo teachers, traveling the land and giving demonstration, taking on all challengers, offering instruction.

It was pretty chaotic at times, and this was the world in which Kano's judo and Ueshiba's aikido (though it was more Takeda's jujutsu, then) were born and shaped.

Did the samurai just fade gracefully into the sunset? For the most part, yes, though tales of ancestral derring-do and such continue to be passed down in the old families, even in modern days and (IMHO) to have samurai blood in your family is sort of like an American having an ancestor aboard the Mayflower (or DAR or DAC or whatever group of semi-blueblooded immigrants tickles your fancy).

Chuck

bindie32
06-09-2005, 04:55 AM
Thank you Chuck, and everyone who has cleared things up it was exactly what i was looking for.

A few web sites for Shinkendo Dojos in town bill it as the "modern" Samurai style of MA, that is where i got confused. Same with Budo and Bushido i thought they where the same thing.

As for Aikido, I'm going to take it up and do my best to absorb the lifestyle the external and internal benefits really appeal to me

Nick Simpson
06-09-2005, 05:34 AM
Go for it, have fun.

Peter Goldsbury
06-09-2005, 06:16 AM
As for Aikido, I'm going to take it up and do my best to absorb the lifestyle the external and internal benefits really appeal to me

I would go for the training, as intensively as possible, but not worry too much about the lifestyle.

Chuck Gordon mentioned "Last Samurai". I would supplement his suggestion with two more: "Tasogare Seibei" (= Twilight Samurai), and "Kakushiken: Oni no Tsume" (= Hidden Sword: Devil's Claw, but I doubt whether it has been released in the US yet, so I do not know the English title). They are both 'samurai' films set in the late Tokugawa period, but are much more 'authentic' than Last Samurai.

The heroes embody samurai values (which can, up to a point, be translated into aikido 'values') more clearly than in "Last Samurai".

Chuck.Gordon
06-09-2005, 06:33 AM
suggestion with two more: "Tasogare Seibei" (= Twilight Samurai), and "Kakushiken: Oni no Tsume" (= Hidden Sword: Devil's Claw


I think Twilight Samurai is fairly widely available in the US and Europe, but haven't seen the other title you mentioned.

I've heard good things about Twilight, too.


Tokugawa period, but are much more 'authentic' than Last Samurai.


Heh! Twouldn't be too hard, that.

Chuck

ian
06-09-2005, 06:55 AM
A good film to watch is the famous 'seven samaurai' (origin of the idea for the magnificent seven). Not only is it a beautiful film, but it illustrates the exploitation of farming peasants by many of the wealthy ruling samurai, and the fact that the ideals of the samurai were not necessarily adhered to.

Samurai ideals revolve around serving your lord completely. Who is it you would intend to serve in such a way, in a moden society? 'Budo' seems much more suited to a society where clans aren't constantly fighting each other. However even then, it is better to think for yourself and make decisions based on the specifics of the situation than to follow set rules. (and if you are going to follow rules, why not follow the legal code of your own society?)

Although it's nice to idealise the past, it's only because we have the luxury of living in a society which is based on entirely different values. Killing people and worshipping your ruler like a deity, IMHO is not to be recommended.

AikiSean!
06-09-2005, 09:18 AM
Chuck, appreciate you clearing that up for me. Makes sense now, just seems odd that they did disapear so easily. From what I can tell in reading and such the samurai were such a strong willed people with much conviction, but I guess that could just be japanese culture at the time anyways!

Ron Tisdale
06-09-2005, 09:31 AM
:) In general, peasants with rifles beat strong willed samurai with swords. Its just the way of the world, don't you know...

Ron

Bronson
06-09-2005, 12:55 PM
...just seems odd that they did disapear so easily. From what I can tell in reading and such the samurai were such a strong willed people with much conviction,

I'm currently reading "The Last Samurai: Tales and Battles of Saigo Takamori" (http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=CX0w9GcB1q&isbn=0471089702&itm=1). The samurai (more specifically the shogun) didn't go easily. The samurai were those things you mention. They were also deceitful, petty, vengeful, honest, loyal, lying, saintly, bastards....just like most people :D

Bronson

Sonja2012
06-10-2005, 12:51 AM
I actually wanted to post a new thread, but as we are discussing the samurai already Iīll post my question here.

I was told when I started aikido that the samurai had seven virtues (which is why the hakama has seven folds). Now, the other day somebody told me that after reading a lot about samurai she found out that some sources say that there were actually eight virtues. Does anybody know what is true here? I always assumed that this would be a rather clear thing, but from what my friend said it seems a bit more fuzzy :) ....
And if you do happen to know about the eigth one (if it exists), could you tell me what it is ? (Another friend of mine was wondering if maybe they added "not smoking" to the list or something ;) )

Thanks!
Sonja

batemanb
06-10-2005, 01:56 AM
Chuck Gordon mentioned "Last Samurai". I would supplement his suggestion with two more: "Tasogare Seibei" (= Twilight Samurai), and "Kakushiken: Oni no Tsume" (= Hidden Sword: Devil's Claw, but I doubt whether it has been released in the US yet, so I do not know the English title). They are both 'samurai' films set in the late Tokugawa period, but are much more 'authentic' than Last Samurai.


I second Peter on Tasogare Seibei, it was excellent, and starred Hiroyuki Saneda who was the chap that gave Tom Cruise a pasting in Last Samurai. I also recommend Mibu Gishi Den (When the last sword is drawn), which is also set at the same time as Last Samurai. I thoroughly enjoyed this http://www.kungfucinema.com/reviews/whenthelastswordisdrawn.htm

rgds

Bryan

eyrie
06-10-2005, 07:53 AM
Read Chuck's comments. "Samurai" was a class in a social hierarchy. Aikido is a martial way. Kinda like asking "how apples are like oranges".

Chuck.Gordon
06-10-2005, 08:07 AM
Sonja,

I think your friend may be confusing the 'seven virtues' for the Buddhist eight-fold path ...

I've only ever heard or read about seven virtues, as in the ones linked to the hakama pleats.

Chuck

Sonja2012
06-10-2005, 08:56 AM
Chuck,

thatīs also what I thought. Thanks!

Regards,
Sonja

bryce_montgomery
06-11-2005, 08:28 PM
I have a question...

How "samurai" is shinkendo?

Just looking to learn a little more about the style.

Thanks,
Bryce

Chuck.Gordon
06-12-2005, 04:29 AM
How 'samurai' is anything? I'm not even sure what exactly the question means. Are we talking about how authentic it is? How close to a (non-existent) samurai ideal it is? How effective/traditional/strict/expensive is it?

First, there are no samurai today. None. Haven't been for, what, 150 years or so?

We can study the broad tepestry that was samurai life -- spanning several centuries, cultural shifts, regions, definitions and lineages that are diverse and varied, but tend to get rolled up into a neat, if romanticized package that doesn't reflect reality any more than Marty Robbins' songs relfected the reality of life in the old west.

Samurai, in one era, might be farmers who took up arms and marched off to battle, surived and were rewarded with titles and lands (the very first shogun followed this path, more or less, commoner to shogun in one lifetime), or he might be a rough and uncultured professional soldier who live a short, exciting and bloodt life, or he might be a lifetime bureaucrat who was allowed to wear two swords, and was expected to attend regular sword training, but was never closer to combat than reading old stories and romantic fiction or looking at the staged battles on the No or Kabuki stages.

If we say 'samurai' we must realize that there was no ideal or archtypical 'Samurai', but there were many variations and deviations and interpretations of what the term, and the class, really signified.

If you want to study a budo that's really close to (at least one type/class/family) of samurai, look into Yagyu Shingan Ryu, or something similar. A koryu system that includes sword and spear, armed/armored/unarmed grappling and theory of fortification and armor, espionage and probably a touch of mystical Buddhism or Shinto for seasoning. There are old systems that have maintained and nurtured the arts of warfare as were practiced by samurai of a certain clan, area or era.

None of the gendai budo, however, are particularly 'samurai' ... in fact, most were designed specifically to appeal to and be taught to the common masses, consciously laying the samurai ethos and mythos aside.

Chuck

Kevin Leavitt
06-12-2005, 05:42 AM
This thought comes to mind:

Society of Creative Anacronism (SCA). Would they qualify as a "martial art"?

They don't seem to identify with MA, as far as I know. They dress up in costumes, they practice fighting tactics of knights of old, they have a code they follow, with a structure/hiearchy etc.

The guys I have talked to do it for many reasons, but they don't really consider themselves Martial Artist.

Where do you draw the line?

At what point does BUDO cease to be a martial art, and become something other than that? A cultural preservation society, or a historical club? These things are important for sure to a culture or society, they perserve a legacy and lessons learned from the past.

I am involved in several threads that argue both sides, that aikido should abandon the useless ritual and spiritual aspects and concentrate on the combat effectiveness. Others say that it is very important.

How important, for instance, is it to wear a hakama? Certainly not practical, nor modern.

It serves as a tool for awareness and legacy. to remind us, for us to draw from our arts roots.

The military does the same today. Many of our uniforms are not comfortable or pretty down right impractical. Look at the Marine Corps dress blues! I depise wearing my black beret! Ever try putting it on with your hands full when you walk out the door?

All military and martial organizations have deemed it important to preserve certain aspects of it's cultural past. It is important. You must, however, be careful in letting that drive the train, and loose focus on the other aspects. Balance is key!

In aikido, our BUDO heritage has us do certain things. Those things are a small but important part. They are not reasons for doing the art, but should be there all the same. Focusing on samurai culture is not one of them in my book.

O-Ren
09-03-2005, 03:48 AM
[QUOTE=Chuck Gordon]It's not. The founder of the art was a commoner, living in a time after the samurai as a class had already been abolished.
Thats not entirely true. O-sensei was of samurai lineage. "His Grandfather, Kichiemon, was the founder of the Ueshiba clan, once renowned throughout Japan for his size and prodigious strength. Morihei's mother, yuki-distantly related to the Takeda clan, one of the greatest samurai families".A quote from John Stevens, Invincible Warrior. Didn't Aikido come from Daito Ryu witch in turn was conceived in the unlikely case that a Samurai was to find himself without his sword? I could be wrong.

tedehara
09-03-2005, 09:20 AM
What "way of the samurai" ?
I suggest taking a moment to read Chuck Gordon's post again, slowly.
We all should, its a good 'un.

Sean
xAgreed! :)

Chuck.Gordon
09-06-2005, 02:33 AM
... O-sensei was of samurai lineage. "His Grandfather, Kichiemon, was the founder of the Ueshiba clan, once renowned throughout Japan for his size and prodigious strength.

The only place I've ever seen this was in Stevens' works, never from any other source. I'd be interested to see any verification from some of our Japanese-speakers, if any exists in original writings.

Didn't Aikido come from Daito Ryu witch in turn was conceived in the unlikely case that a Samurai was to find himself without his sword? I could be wrong.

Umm. Sort of. Daito Ryu has a somewhat disputed history, but most systems of jujutsu were born through the need for 'backup' methodologies, in the event of weapons loss, breakage or simply being in too close proximity for efficient weapons use.

Jujutsu systems actually were a fairly minor part of many ryuha for the most part, though there were a few exceptions. Most of the broader JJ systems really came to fruition in times of relative peace, and many only got kickstarted after Meiji, as lots of bujutsu teachers were trying to make a living after the samurai caste was eliminated.

cg

James Davis
09-06-2005, 10:26 AM
The only thing I've read that comes close to being a list of the rules of bushido is "Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai". It lists some examples of behavior that are supposed to epitomize samurai ideals of ediquette and valor. After reading this book, I would have to conclude that Aikido is pretty "un-samurai". While aikido has taught me to remain stoic when I'm in pain and how to effectively defend myself, there were some pretty horrific things that samurai did to their enemies that my sensei doesn't teach! evileyes

P.S. While it's a movie that goes against what would have been considered by a daimyo to be the samurai ideal, I really like "Samurai Rebellion". :D

Chuck.Gordon
09-08-2005, 02:33 AM
Hagakure has about as much to do with the ideal of the samurai as 'Fistful of Dollars' has to do with life in the Old West. Hagakure is a rant, basically, written by a frustrated mid-level bureaucrat who'd never had the opportunity to bloody his sword (or die) in battle, and who was denied the right to a 'glorious suicide' to follow his old boss into the afterlife. It details an enormous amount of misinformation about how s 'Real Samurai' (tm) was supposed to live. And it's all pretty much BS.

Evaluating aikido's 'samurainess' by a Hagakure yardstick is not useful. Heck, evaluating anything samurai through reading Hagakure is pretty pointless.

All that said, see my previous posts about samurai, aikido, budo and Hagakure for more of how I really feel ...

cg

James Davis
09-08-2005, 11:25 AM
Hagakure has about as much to do with the ideal of the samurai as 'Fistful of Dollars' has to do with life in the Old West. Hagakure is a rant, basically, written by a frustrated mid-level bureaucrat who'd never had the opportunity to bloody his sword (or die) in battle, and who was denied the right to a 'glorious suicide' to follow his old boss into the afterlife. It details an enormous amount of misinformation about how s 'Real Samurai' (tm) was supposed to live. And it's all pretty much BS.

Evaluating aikido's 'samurainess' by a Hagakure yardstick is not useful. Heck, evaluating anything samurai through reading Hagakure is pretty pointless.

All that said, see my previous posts about samurai, aikido, budo and Hagakure for more of how I really feel ...

cg
Can you suggest a better source? I haven't read that much about samurai, and you seem to know so much more than I do. Please help me! Please!

Savlu
09-08-2005, 08:34 PM
could any1 tell me what budo means?

jk
09-08-2005, 09:53 PM
While "Fistful of Dollars" is a decent ripoff of Kurosawa's "Yojimbo," which in turn is believed to be based on Dashiell Hammett's "Red Harvest," I much prefer "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" if you're looking to base your life on a spaghetti western. Tuco rocks!

Chuck.Gordon
09-09-2005, 02:49 AM
Non-Hagakure suggestions:

Koryu Books:
'Koryu Budo' trilogy (www.koryubooks.com), edited by Diane Skoss.

Ellis Amdur:
'Old School' (http://www.ellisamdur.com/martial_arts.html)

Karl Friday:
Legacies of the Sword: The Kashima-Shinryu and Samurai Martial Culture
Samurai, Warfare and the State in Early Medieval Japan (Warfare and History)
Hired Swords: The Rise of Private Warrior Power in Early Japan

Donn Draeger (if you can find 'em):
Classical Bujutsu
Classical budo
Modern Budo

Yagyu Muenori, trans. by Hiroaki Sato
The Sword and the Mind

For starters ...

Raphael asked: could any1 tell me what budo means?

Bu: martial, military, war, warlike
Do (Michi): Path, Way

Budo is simply 'Martial Way'. It CAN be used to describe, in Japanese, any martial art. I tend to use it more specifically, since I natively speak English and not Japanese, to describe any Japanese martial tradition. Budo and bujutsu are similar, the jutsu meaning system or science or art. Therefore, budo, being the way of war and bujutsu being the art or science of war are synonymous.

cg

jeff.
09-09-2005, 12:56 PM
this discussion seems to have gotten bogged down a bit in historical definitions of samurai, and missed some of the cultural-idealistic aspects.

from the first perspective, i totally agree with chuck.

but from the second, it seems to me that part of osensei's project was to redefine "samurai" (who's root meaning is merely "one who serves", just as "bushi"'s root meaning is merely "one who stops weapons from clashing") in a more fundamental way, in order to make warriorship viable in the 20th c. and beyond. i mean, osensei did, in fact, say "a samurai is one who serves and adhere's to the power of love" (trans from art of peace, the original source of this statement is, i believe, in the takemusu aiki lectures).

this statement by itself backs up a bit of what i'm saying, as well as providing some evidence of a japanese using the term samurai outside of the historical context and placing it within a more broadly cultural and ideal context.

so if we take the notion of samurai as being one who serves, and in particular, "serves and adhere's to the power of love", then aikido would seem to be intensely samurai.

add this to the fact that many aikido teachers, like saotome-sensei, teach the seven principals (abeit, in a way more in line with the modern world, and entirely outside of a class context), and we could argue that, at least for some, aikido is a way of updating and bringing into the modern world the way of the samurai in a more progressive and classless way.

and as long as we're talking history, "budo" and "bushido", from what i understand, were never considered seperate until much later. in fact, in many older texts "budo" is used as a short form of "bushido". they're only different by one kanji, the "shi", which is generally written quite small in "bushido". so, even in the titles of some texts the shi would be dropped. thus, in the classic by taira shigusuke, some versions have as the title "bushido shoshinshu", while other versions have "budo shoshinshu". (the thomas cleary trans code of the samurai uses the first, while the william scott wilson trans has as its title the second.)

from this we could extrapolate that, after the meiji restoration, the use of the term "budo" was a way of explaining the democratization of bushido into the japanese populace at large (particularly since "bushi" was the more accepted term for the class), and (post ww2) to the world at large.

The only place I've ever seen this was in Stevens' works, never from any other source. I'd be interested to see any verification from some of our Japanese-speakers, if any exists in original writings.

from my understanding, its a simple matter of public record (samurai family lineages are kept as a part of public records in japan, much like how are birth certificates are on record here in the states) and knowledge in japan. aside from this, i believe stevens-sensei's primary source for this was kisshomaru-doshu's bio of his father.

SeiserL
09-09-2005, 06:31 PM
IMHO, since the Samurai period ended in the 1870s and Aikido was founded in 1950, I would doubt that the two can be equated too much. Aikido is Budo not Bujutsu.

Peter Goldsbury
09-09-2005, 09:06 PM
We sometimes have discussions like this in my university classes (all my students are Japanese). The younger undergraduates are not really interested and in any case do not really know much about Japanese history.

The older graduate students in the evening class, all employed in Japanese companies or government departments, are much more interested and knowledgable. One of them made a presentation about whether there were any modern samurai in Japan. They equated samurai with what they believed was the real meaning of bushido.

When set the task of comparing Last Samurai with Tasogare Seibei, the undergraduates had to go off and research bushi, samurai, bushido, etc in the Japanese sources (including warrior tales like Heike Monogatari). Their findings were similar to those of my graduate students: 'bushi' had a wider meaning than samurai (which was more closely tied to the concept of service); bushido also had a double meaning; the basic meaning of what bushi were supposed to do, i.e., fighting arts; and a wider meaning associated with military virtues, similar to the concept of 'andreia' ( = manliness) in classical Greek. You will find this wider meaning of bushido in any monolingual Japanese dictionary and the virtures listed are the virtues symbolized by, e.g., the pleats of a hakama. They all thought that Katsumoto (K Watanabe) and Seibei (H Sanada) amply displayed these virtues.

My older graduate students, especially those employed as government officials, really believe that they are modern day inheritors of the samurai (who actually performed similar jobs in Tokugawa Japan) and that they have a duty to practise the same virtues. The would probably do this also in the aikido, judo or kendo dojo.

Part of the issue here is the extent to which these romantic notions were based on reality and this question is valid for Greek warriors as for Japanese. The recent movie Troy, for example, is only remotely based on Homer's epic, and so is not really 'historically accurate'. However, Homer's epic was not 'historically accurate', either. It was a good story, often retold and embellished in the retelling. Japanese warrior tales are very similar. The Hagakure is dull and pedestrian by comparison and equally questionable historically.

Best regards,

Kevin Leavitt
09-11-2005, 12:51 PM
What difference would any of this make in studying aikido or improving yourself as a aikidoka if it was directly related to being "Samurai"?

Just curious. We seem to spend a great deal of time trying to prove/disprove. The virtues are universal in nature and can be found in any organization that is aligned with decent core principles.

The fact that they might culturally emanate from Japan is good and all that...but I question the relevancy to how it would make you a better martial artist if it was "samurai" in someway...whatever that really means!

I think it is wonderful to study history, and much can be learned from history. The past holds the keys to understanding ourselves and where we come from. In this regard, I can appreciate wanting to understand and study Feudal Japanese history. What I question is why it is important to tie the link to modern day aikido in anyway? What value does it add?

John Matsushima
09-24-2005, 10:56 AM
A Samurai....

-lived by a code of moral integrity
-served faithfully and willingly gave his life for those he served
-studied many different arts of war
-self sacrifice and self discipline were common traits
-learned to kill, yet practiced not to kill
-improved himself mentally, physically, and spiritually

Sounds like the USMC !!!

Saturn
12-12-2005, 06:26 AM
As was said in Hagakure, "a masterless Samurai is no Samurai at all". Besides, nowadays the philosophy of "when faced with a choice of life or death it is better to choose to die" seems very unessecary. And there is no way authorities are going to allow anyone to practice by cutting the heads off of criminals. You could always do Aikido and join the armed forces, that would be as close as it could get i think.

Edwin Neal
01-11-2006, 12:15 AM
I may be seen as nit picky but i "think" from my studies that the samurai code or bushido was most firmly codified during the Tokugawa era ie before the Meiji Restoration. This is because the Tokugawa era saw the unification of the country under the rather iron fisted rule of the tokugawa shogunate. The samurai had no enemy to fight and their role degenerated from truly bloody warriors/soldiers to a more beauracratic role... thus many traditional jutsu were made into do again this is prior to the 1870's... sorry i don't know the exact dates ( too lazy to look them up), but this period begins loosely with the events recounted in the Movie/book Shogun i'd say about 200 years before the Last Samurai events...
just my 2 cents.

Josh Reyer
01-11-2006, 09:08 AM
Dates: The Edo (Tokugawa) Period began in 1600 when Tokugawa took power after the Battle of Sekigahara (1603 being the official date the seat of government was moved to Edo, modern Tokyo). Hagakure was written in 1716. Perry's "black ships" came in 1853. The Meiji Restoration is held to have officially occurred in 1868. The Last Samurai is loosely based on the Satsuma Rebellion, which occurred in 1877.

Edwin Neal
01-12-2006, 04:09 PM
thanks joshua ...

Nick Simpson
01-12-2006, 04:49 PM
I havent read this thread, so im just replying to the title, to give you some context. I would say: Not very. It being a post - samurai MA. Ok, It has it's roots in jujitsu and some styles of iaijutsu/kenjutsu/koryu arts, but really it has little to do with the samurai class. The samurai were generally expected to kill and die, is this a part of aikido? Not really, you do not learn how to practise/commit seppuku, how to perform kaishaku etc etc. It has elements of feudal japanese culture, such as the wearing of hakama, ettiquette, sensei/sempai/kohai relationships, use of the bokken and jo and more. But it isnt a 'samurai art'. In my humble opinion.

Edwin Neal
01-12-2006, 05:15 PM
if it has roots in those styles then it is a continuation of the traditional samurai arts, the real difference is that after the meiji restoration, and abolition of the samurai class these arts began to be taught to non samurai and non japanese whereas before they MA were forbidden to any but the warrior class...

Josh Reyer
01-12-2006, 06:53 PM
It has elements of feudal japanese culture, such as the wearing of hakama, ettiquette, sensei/sempai/kohai relationships,

Um, those are elements of modern Japanese culture as much as feudal Japanese culture...

Edwin Neal
01-12-2006, 07:19 PM
so true joshua!!! sniff sniff i'm homesick for Japan...

Nick Simpson
01-13-2006, 06:26 AM
'Um, those are elements of modern Japanese culture as much as feudal Japanese culture...'

Um, yes? However they originated before the modernisation of japan, before/during japans feudal period. By continuing these traditions, modern japanese are upholding their countries feudalistic past. Just as in England we have such things as 'knighthoods' etc etc.

Josh Reyer
01-13-2006, 08:39 AM
'Um, those are elements of modern Japanese culture as much as feudal Japanese culture...'

Um, yes? However they originated before the modernisation of japan, before/during japans feudal period. By continuing these traditions, modern japanese are upholding their countries feudalistic past. Just as in England we have such things as 'knighthoods' etc etc.

I actually agree with the thrust of your previous post, i.e., that aikido has little to do with actual samurai. The point I'm making is that etiquette/hakama/sempai-kohai relationships are not as feudal as knighthoods (which have shifted in purpose going from feudal England to modern England), but rather as feudal as, say, keeping dogs as pets, or going to church. These are things that were present in feudal England, but they are too prevelant in modern England to be considered elements of feudal England. Your examples of bokken and jo I have no problem with, as they are tied to the martial traditions of feudal Japan, and aren't seen outside that context. But hakama is routinely used as formal wear, sensei/sempai/kohai relationships permeat every aspect of society, and etiquette, well, that's a universal for every culture. Those aren't elements of feudal Japan, just of Japan.

Probably semantical nitpicking, but there's a whole lotta cultural misconceptions out there, so I just wanted to clarify things.

Alec Corper
01-13-2006, 10:44 AM
A Samurai was a retainer of a daimyo pr provincial lord, who function was to a a soldier and to be prepared to die for his master at any moment. Thus the word can best be summed up as "servant". The code of bushido ascribed to them did not exist in any structured form until it was printed in a little book by Inobe entitled "bushido" in which many qualities were ascribed to these warriors, most of which are innaccurate historically for the majority of Samurai. Previous to that there are scattered writings such as "The Unfettered Mind" and "Hagakure: which contain elements of thought that were gradually assimilated. One of the most succinct quotes from "Hagakure" is "The business of the samurai is to die!". Does any of this sound like the Aikido we do.
As an insructor of Shinkendo and a student of Obata kaiso, I can only agree with Ron Tisdale, Steffan, I think that Obata would not be thrilled, nor with your rather trite observation that Iado practitioners, however senior know how to handle a live blade.
Alec

Hagen Seibert
01-13-2006, 01:14 PM
I would like to rephrase the original post:
Instead of:
"How samurai is Aikido"
I would ask:
"Can you embrace samurai spirit through training of Aikido ?"
as this seems to be rather the point of interest within practical relevance to most people.

Whatever you might think "samurai spirit" might be,
I think many people like to imagine they can,
though they live in decicivly different life situation.

Hagen Seibert
01-13-2006, 01:35 PM
By the way: Nice Tsuba, Todd

James Smithe
01-15-2006, 10:03 AM
I don't consider myself a samurai because I'm not a tool to be used by a master.

rottunpunk
01-17-2006, 04:05 AM
heyo. im new here, and i dont know that much about aiki, so i dont want to speak out of place.

i too share your enjoyment for the samurai culture.
however, have you tried kendo and iaido? they are much more closely linked to sword work than aikido.

i often get told that the moves are just like cutting with a sword, but the shape is all wrong. however, using hara etc helps alot

i agree though, in order to progress to further levels one has to follow the budo way.
in mjer there are three levels, the first being the basic phsical shape (shoden) then the grasp of metsuke and hara etc (chuden) and then the spiritual level (okuden) one cant move on to the next level unless they have grasped fully the concepts of the previous.

perhaps reading book of the five rings and hagakure?
:p

Nick Simpson
01-17-2006, 04:35 AM
Fair enough, the reason I was using hakama as an example is that it is the practise of aikidoka wearing hakama that is generally one of the things that seem to make people think of aikido as a 'samurai art'. I know plenty of other japanese arts use the hakama (Iaido, Kyudo etc etc) but aikido (along with kendo) is possibly the most widespread and common of these MA outside of japan. The other more popular arts (Judo and karate) do not usually wear hakama ( I have never seen or heard of this, although I imagine some karate practitioners might do/have done so). So people make a distinction that the hakama in aikido, is what makes aikido a samurai art. Or whatever it is that they think.

Peter Seth
01-17-2006, 06:06 AM
Hi all.
After a cursory glance over this thread it seems that generally everyone is focussed on the 'samurai spirit' its ethics/lack of them? etc. Obviously a natural choice to use to compare aikido as an ostensibly japanese art to.
But, to think 'out of this box' a little - can not everyone where/who ever they are display this spirit in times of (for a better word) challenge in their lives. From little children, right through the age range, at times many individuals show great courage in the face of life threatening adversity. The so called samurai spirit has been shown throughout history by soldiers and civilians from all countries in times of conflict. An example would be the spartans - very warlike - very brave, stoic and fatalistic with regards to life, (also regarded as a cruel people)? (samurai/spartan spirit).

Aikido and samurai spirit? - Aikido - to harmonise - create harmony/natural balance with the correct use of energy??
Samurai spirit - unswerving/unquestioning loyalty, the embracing of death if required, etc? Balance?
Who knows the answer - it depends on your viewpoint. I suppose certain elements of the 'Human Spirit' /(samurai spirit) are necessary to any 'human' activity - so I would say probably 'a little' would be a reasonable answer.
What do you think?? :)

koz
02-07-2006, 01:51 PM
To quote from the famous Hagakure "The Way of the Samurai is found in death."

Good luck with that.

deepsoup
02-07-2006, 04:23 PM
How Lumberjack is Bonsai?

Mark Freeman
02-11-2006, 06:28 AM
How Lumberjack is Bonsai?

Just a little?

Chuck.Gordon
02-11-2006, 11:54 AM
I'm a budoka and I'm OK
I sleep all night and I work all day.

Chorus:
He's a budoka and he's OK
He sleeps all night and he works all day.

I cut down ukes, I eat my lunch
I go to the lavatory.
On Wednesdays I go the dojo and have buttered scones for tea

Mounties:
He cuts down ukes, he eats his lunch
He goes to the lavatory.
On Wednesdays he goes to the dojo and has buttered scones for tea.

Chorus:
He's a budoka and he's OK
He sleeps all night and he works all day.

I cut down ukes, I skip and jump
I like to press wild flowers.
I put on funny clothing and hang around in bars.

Mounties:
He cuts down ukes, he skips and jumps
He likes to press wild flowers.
He puts on funny clothing and hangs around in bars?!

Chorus:
He's a budoka and he's OK
He sleeps all night and he works all day.

I cut down ukes, I wear hakama
Keikogi and tabi.
I wish I'd been a sensei, just like my dear papa!

Mounties:
He cuts down ukes, he wears hakama?!
Keikogi ... and tabi?!

... He's a budoka and he's OK
He sleeps all night and he works all day.

Ketsan
02-11-2006, 12:26 PM
I'd say that training in any martial art is unlikely to be able to give you samurai spirit, all it can do, perhaps is give you the same kind of skills as a samurai. That said it can help you develop your character in any way you so wish. The simple facts of training mean that you will face failure and pain and if you wish to keep on training you will have to develop ways of dealing with this and perhaps you could take this in a direction which could be called "the samurai spirit".
To me samurai spirit has always meant being tough, resourceful, compassionate (although compassion wasn't something historical samurai could always be accused of having) and pragmatic, always looking for a way to win no matter what the situation is and often winning means simply getting out of the situation in one piece rather than pulling off a glorious victory.
Certainly I have seen people come into the dojo and through learning have become mentally and physically tough, developed resourcefulness, compassion and learned to be pragmatic, although since not everyone does I can't claim that this is due to the art, but certainly the art is the vehicle. You just have to choose to get on board. :D