View Full Version : Poll: Does the philosophy of aikido need to be explicitly discussed during class for the training to be "aikido"?
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07-24-2005, 01:30 AM
AikiWeb Poll for the week of July 24, 2005:
Does the philosophy of aikido need to be explicitly discussed during class for the training to be "aikido"?
I don't do aikido
Here are the current results (http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=282).
07-24-2005, 01:37 PM
No, just followed and understood by the instructor/sensei. Probably the less said the better in most instances. Talk is cheap, actions are what counts. (which is why my post count is now over 600! :))
07-24-2005, 02:07 PM
I voted YES, while NO is as right as well, if there are no steps in between allowed.
Main exercise is action, learning by doing, or however you call it. Recently we had a special lesson about earth (gravity stability), water ("fill the vacuum", redirect instead of power against power), air (breath and "tornado-whirls"), fire and spirit.
Well on "fire" and "spirit", we mudansha just got told the idea,no lessons :yuck:, but at least it shows a different aspect ofthe aspect and although it is just another explanation for the physical and psychical logic, it is much easier to get and keep in mind for training. So I would say, it should not be too much, but from time to time you should talk about the philosophy. Another aspect is to bore those poeple who want to use aikido for stret fighting. They either quit - unfortunately they learn other efficient techniques, or they get a bit of the idea, which might improve their habit. ;)
07-24-2005, 02:14 PM
i think for the most part classes should be filled with doing techniques and practicing, but every once in a while i really enjoy when we all just have a sit down and talk about philosophy and the meaning of things behind the techniques.
07-24-2005, 05:09 PM
I could not answer this, because in order to teach, it requires a certain amount of both spoken, and physical teaching. Some of my students would never be able to grasp what their problems are, without some asistance verbally.
07-24-2005, 10:59 PM
Yes, for it is the philosophy and only the philosophy that distinguishes Aikido from other martial arts.
07-25-2005, 12:16 AM
It is by observing what the instructor is doing and following it that I think we show we understand.
07-25-2005, 03:48 AM
I voted "no" on the simple reason that there is no one Aikido philosophy that everyone can agree... Then again, there are no techniques that everyone agree are true Aikido... Then again, there is no such thing as true Aikido...
So, what would be the core of values that all styles of Aikido practice?....
07-25-2005, 04:20 AM
Voted no for the simple reason that I object to wasting valuable and limited mat time with talking - there's always time to talk outside the dojo
07-25-2005, 08:50 AM
I voted no for a number of reasons:
- no single, agreed upon definition of "aikido philosophy" within the aikido community
- too many half-baked interpretations around anyway!
- I go to the dojo to train technique. If I want to explore the philosophy it's incumbent upon me to investigate that in my own time
07-25-2005, 10:43 AM
I voted no. As a teenager i talked about how judo made the rest of life make sense to me. Some religious friends informed me my viewpoints were 'zen buddhism'. i had no idea what that was, but did not argue. my sensei taught us judo - the philosophy is implied and comes to us intuitively - 'from our feet'.
i bluster and spew and have an advanced education, so realizing the value of intuition that is common to all of us, is wonderful!
Yann Golanski ased "So, what would be the core of values that all styles of Aikido practice?...."
the only principle i feel i can hold onto (almost) all of the time is 'gentleness'.
07-25-2005, 01:44 PM
there is no one Aikido philosophy that everyone can agree... Then again, there are no techniques that everyone agree are true Aikido... Then again, there is no such thing as true Aikido.
I understand this and agree with it. However, there is the Founder's philosophy and techniques. To me, the is "true" Aikido.
07-25-2005, 07:43 PM
Every technique is an explicit discussion of Aikido philosophy.
I didn't actually vote because I don't know what philosophy we are talking about. To me there should be a thread that binds all the techniques together, but to me this thread is a list of principles like "Always push, never pull" and "Maintain your balance through every part of the technique" and "Don't overextend your arms" ... etc ... which are the principles/philosophy we should be practicing with every technique.
So....its explicit. But its not necessarily in any spoken language.
07-26-2005, 10:51 AM
I think aikido tends to be a little more than meets the eye, therefore a little explanation tends to help in the process, especially for us denser folks in the crowd.
07-27-2005, 06:27 PM
I voted no because, discussion on the philosophy can be done anywhere... such as the pub afterwards.
Aikido techniques can only be done safely in the limited time you have available on the mat.
07-27-2005, 08:57 PM
Yes, for it is the philosophy and only the philosophy that distinguishes Aikido from other martial arts.
The "Philosophy of Aikido" is the Neo-Classical Philosophy of the Samurai. The "Life-Giving Sword" and "Budo is loving protection" are not new concepts in Japanese martial arts, and you could also expand that to include some non-Japanese martial arts. Aikido is a great martial art, beyond any doubt, but it has other characteristics that distinguish it other than its philosophy. The best way to transmit philosophy is through example. How you act and live speaks volumes more than what you say. The best methodology IMHO is to utilize the mat time for practice and practical explanations of technique and save the philosophical discussions for social opportunities after or before class.
07-27-2005, 09:27 PM
Aikido is a great martial art, beyond any doubt, but it has other characteristics that distinguish it other than its philosophy.
I respectfully disagree. Part of my realization of this came from reading Karl Friday's book, Legacies of the Sword. A lot of what I though were technical properties of Aikido are also found in Kashima Shin Ryu and probably a lot of other "ryu" that I don't know about. I also found a book with 400 year old Dutch prints depicting people doing Ikkyo, Iriminage and Shihonage. It has become clear to me that what differentiates Aikido is why we practice and the results O'Sensei hoped we might have.
I don't think that what is commonly thought of as Aikido philosophy is actually part of O'Sensei's thought. In my personal definition, aikido philosophy is Morihei Ueshiba's thought. This needs to be discovered in the books, Takemusu Aiki and Aiki Shinzui. These are incredibly difficult to understand, so I have found John Stevens' books very helpful. However, what I have found even more helpful are the lecture and practice sessions given by Stevens Sensei, Endo Seishiro Sensei and the current Doshu.
I realize that this is just an opinion. Also, my opinions change, to tomorrow I may think differently. However, my answer to the poll is an emphatic "yes." Otherwise, in my opinion, people won't understand why they are supposed to be practicing. Of course, my whole argument is based on my opinion that the whole focus of Aikido practice is to understand the founder's teachings. Most people don't seem to think that way and to them, talking is probably a waste of time. Perfectly understandable.
Sorry about the length,
07-28-2005, 08:01 AM
"In my personal definition, aikido philosophy is Morihei Ueshiba's thought." - Charles Hill
I balk at this. I think OSensei found universal truths, and encourages us to do the same. I'm not Japanese, was a non combatant in the military, but I can discover the same truth OSensei did. But if I cling to 'his thoughts', I won't be able to see past them.
Clear as mud I trust, but I tried.
07-28-2005, 08:53 AM
Morihei Ueshiba's thoughts and Aikido changed over the years. In hell dojo and in Iwama, Ueshiba was practicing two very different arts.... So, if he had the Truth, which time was that?... Just when he died? Before he went senile? After or before hell dojo?... Does it even matters?
07-28-2005, 09:33 PM
Aikido to the individual is different for each of us but as with all things, the foundation must be firmly instilled before anything else can be accomplished. Aikido is not just a physical technique, it also requires at least some further more philosophical understanding to grasp the entire foundation. Examples of this would to me include ki extension, sincerity in the uke/ nage relationship, etc. etc.
These are not tangble or necessarily easily learned and require more than just good physical movement.
That is my bit on the subject. Thanks for the time to join in.
07-28-2005, 09:55 PM
Aikido is not just a physical technique, it also requires at least some further more philosophical understanding to grasp the entire foundation. Examples of this would to me include ki extension, sincerity in the uke/ nage relationship, etc. etc. These are not tangible or necessarily easily learned and require more than just good physical movement. CJ
Good points CJ, but I have to disagree with the assessment that ki extension, and sincerity in the uke/nage relationship are philosophical and not physical. Sure you can say that you have to define the parameters in which we operate on the mat, but is this necessarily philosophical? Some people get rather good extensions without even knowing what ki is.
Physical manifestations of the philosophical ideal in aikido can be duplicated without extensive knowledge of the philosophy. Does it lose something? Perhaps. But, on the mat you practice the physical, and if you're serious, and your students are serious, you will gasp snatches of the philosophical which ought to prompt more serious discussions after class.
07-28-2005, 09:59 PM
Please call me Charles. If you say Mr. Hill, I look around for my dad. Two points. the first and most important is that my whole post is my opinion, there is no reason to balk. Second is, I would like to ask you and Yann for where you got your information. What are these universal truths that O'Sensei found and where does it say that he encouraged us to do the same? I have noticed that a lot of things are put in his mouth that if you read material directly quoted from him and documented the other stuff rings false. Also, Yann, my study has shown me that O'Sensei really didn't change much over the years. aikido Journal has some great stuff, interview and articles showing that the "hell dojo" and Iwama were not that different. does it matters? well, it does to me, but I'm known to be a little weird.
07-29-2005, 03:56 AM
Second is, I would like to ask you and Yann for where you got your information.
I got my information from books on Aikido, mainly Nariyama's, Albright's and Ueshiba's. Plus things that I have gathered over the years on this board. talking to other Aikidoka and articles. Sadly, I don't have the time to do proper references for all the post I write.
Also, Yann, my study has shown me that Osensei really didn't change much over the years. aikido Journal has some great stuff, interview and articles showing that the "hell dojo" and Iwama were not that different.
Are you telling me that a man in his 30s and a man in his 70s can do the same level of physical training? Or are you saying that Ueshiba never changed anything from day one when the Kami enlightened him with Aikido? ...
Evolution is a good thing. Otherwise, we still would be in caves hitting eachother with clubs -- Now, we live in big concreeted steel block and have M1 Abrams tanks to blow the hell of out each other. COOL!!! *grins evilly*.
Okay, seriously now. The only core value of Aikido I have seen between all the people who practice it is: Blend with the attacker and thrown or pin said attacker so that no harm is done to either parties. I'd add that there are maybe 20/25 Aikido techniques (with hundred of application) and that this makes "Aikido". Different styles have different emphasis, that's all.
Of course, anyone can define Aikido to be exactly what they are doing for whatever reasons. *shrugs* I don't really care.
07-29-2005, 10:35 AM
Yann did a good job describing aikido.
To answer your 'what is my source' question, my position is a bit more tenuous. I get the universal truths from my own heart. A universal truth can be "be nice to uke - it's his turn next".
So, when OSensei writes a poem describing the 'flying bridge' in the 'cross-shape' and says it is compassion - i take him to mean that truth transcends rational discussion - and if you are gentle with uke - you can throw him much more easily!
My position may be nastiest ego you ever heard. But maybe not.
07-29-2005, 06:25 PM
Yes, I definitely think that O'Sensei did not change all that much from the time of his first enlightenment experience. Recently there was an interesting interview featured at aikidojournal.com with one of the hell dojo members. What she said of the founder at that time exactly paralleled what his post-war students said. Also, photos and films show that his technique did not change, except for allowing for the inevitable effects of old age. This, for Morihei Ueshiba, was in his 80's, so yes, I think he moved similarly in his 70's as in his 30's, perhaps better.
David, when O'Sensei wrote or said "floating bridge," it had specific philosophical meaning. (Probably stretching the meaning of the word, philosophical) It is not so easy to understand, and requires knowledge of Japanese creation myths and how they were thought of by people belonging to groups such as Omoto Kyo and Misogikai. I do not think that one can just read them and expect to understand them. Then there is the problem of how that idea relates to practice. I believe that that needs to be addressed during practice. Remember, O'Sensei, devoted large amounts of practice time to lecturing about esoteric matters, not just when he was old, but throughout his life.
07-29-2005, 07:39 PM
I am quite surprized by the results of this poll. I know I am doing Aikido because of its philosophy, not because I am afraid to walk on the streets (I'd buy a gun then). I see techniques as a path to understand the philosophy on deeper level. Sometimes the connection is not clear, so some talking is necessary. Physical fitness is a bonus, important, but still secondary.
Of course, just an opinion.
07-30-2005, 09:04 AM
More simply put I think that all of us have the same teacher OSensei did - the society, world and universe around us. I like seeing each tree, but I think it is wise to also see the forest. An interesting article on this website quoted OSensei when he was asked what to call the his aikido techniques. He was reported to answer "I don't care, call them what you like."
I think he was more interested in the journey than the names of the trees along the way.
07-30-2005, 12:43 PM
Speaking frankly, I do the same techniques in Ju-jitsu as I do when I'm at Aikido and in largely the same way. So this element of the philosophy is something I find quite confusing. I don't see the link between O-Sensei's philosophy and ordinary every day practice.
If by philosophy you're talking about defending yourself without hurting your opponent, especially if you define hurting as causing perminent damage then I think you're probably talking about a philosophy common to many martial arts.
07-30-2005, 12:48 PM
I got my information from books on Aikido, mainly Nariyama's, Albright's and Ueshiba's.
Sorry to hijack the thread just to be pedantic, but...
If you're going to refer to just one author of "Tradition and the Competetive edge", it would be more accurate (and fairer) to call it "Shishida's" book rather than "Nariyama's"
Ok, back on topic. :)
07-30-2005, 09:36 PM
I voted that the philosophy doesn't have to be explicitly discussed. For me, the philosophy is inherent in the practice of aikido not the talk of it. It's easy to talk the talk, but actually walking the walk is a whole different story.
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