AikiWeb Rules of Conduct
Dear AikiWeb Members,
My intention with AikiWeb has always been to create a community where all aikido practitioners, regardless of training level, location, background, affiliation, or interests feel welcome in coming together to share their thoughts, experiences, and opinions. However, in recent times, some of the topics of discussions and ways of discussing the topics have become unacceptable and must be changed if my intention is to remain on track. To this end, I have made some general forum rules of conduct, which go into effect immediately.
First and foremost, I expect everyone to be civil and respectful with each other.
AikiWeb is a large community with many differing opinions, experiences, and ways of thinking. No matter what your position is on anything in particular, someone else will inevitably have a different take. By all means, be passionate in expressing your own thoughts and feelings, but, at the same time, conduct yourself with civility and respect for others.
With that said, the rules I give below will be both general and specific. My intention with being specific is to call out some specific arguments and discussions that must be discontinued.
1) Do not define "aikido" by using only a subset of its aspects. Do not disparage or dismiss people for their choice of training methods or teachers. Do not disparage the perceived "shortcomings" of other training methods.
All aikido training approaches emphasize one aspect or other of Morihei Ueshiba's art over the others. I do not know of any one approach that truly encompasses them all in a complete, balanced package. Hence, all approaches are limited in some respects and putting down some aspect or other due to these differences is entirely unproductive.
In years past, I have witnessed and taken part in many "style" wars in which people tried to prove that the training methods espoused by Aikikai, Yoshinkan, Tomiki, or Ki Society produced the "best" aikido practitioner; people even declared that "if you're not practicing ABC in your aikido training, you're not a serious/real aikido practitioner."
Typically, some devotees of a particular training method question the wisdom of those who do not pursue their method. One example that is particularly problematic on AikiWeb at present is the dismissal of the "cooperative" training methods commonly found in aikido by calling them "useless" or "nonsense" -- despite the fact that the vast majority of practitioners worldwide (including almost all of the leading instructors) follow such a training method and despite the fact that this training method has both enhanced the lives of millions and literally saved the lives of many people when faced with violence.
To be clear: I do not want to hear people state or imply that if one does not pursue a particular method of training, they're not doing "real" aikido or "Ueshiba's aikido." Nor do I want to hear people state or imply that if one does not pursue a particular method of training, they're not doing a valid martial art. I do not want to see people set up a "straw man" of their own "interpretation" of another training methodology and then knock it down in comparison to one's own. Engaging in these arguments is quite rude and entirely unnecessary.
Instead of putting down other approaches, focus on presenting what your approach actually does -- in other words, present what you do rather than putting down what others do (or don't do).
2) Do not use physical effectiveness as a measure for the legitimacy or non-legitimacy of any training method.
This is almost a corollary to #1 above. For example, some devotees of a particular training method contend that because their training methods will make people unstoppable or unthrowable, other training methods are less legitimate. Furthermore, claiming that someone's attempt at an explanation of that methodology is flawed because that person surely could not withstand the power of one practitioner or another is bullying, not logic (any more than a boxing coach's critique is flawed because the boxer can beat up the old man).
As a corollary, the same could be extended to include references to the physical effectiveness of certain people throughout aikido history, whether that person is Shioda, Shirata, Mochizuki, Tomiki, or even Ueshiba. A discussion of their training methodology is one thing, but using their abilities to delegitimize other approaches is neither useful nor constructive.
Using physical effectiveness as a bar to measure legitimacy of a training method is not an argument I want to see. If you feel what you do allows people to become more "effective," present information regarding your method (e.g. "When we're presented with the issue on making ABC physically effective in this context and within these parameters, we do XYZ") without aiming to delegitimize the approach of others.
3) Do not point towards what one does "on the mat" as a replacement for discussion.
Folks, this is a discussion forum. I am seeing discussions in which the now age-old adage "it has to be felt" replaces actual dialogue; instead, the poster refuses to explain things, saying, in essence, that "if you want to understand, you need to go to XYZ's seminar or class."
If you're not willing to take the time and effort to advance the discussion through your writings on AikiWeb, then please leave the discussion to those who are willing to do so.
4) Do not require "on the mat" experience as being necessary for discussion.
Although personally experiencing everything that is being discussed would certainly facilitate discussions, not everyone has the means or the ends to do so. Discussions criticizing those who are either unable to experience what you are writing about or those who choose differently are non-constructive as well as personal and do not belong here. And certainly, any suggestion that an individual not choosing to meet a teacher or go to a seminar is due to cowardice, that one is afraid that one's treasured beliefs will be shattered, or that one's position of authority or expertise will be diminished once one is "defeated" is absolutely out of line.
5) When making posts, do not write, "I've already posted that, so go find it in the archives."
Take the time to clearly write it again, even in summary; or, give a direct link to the previous post in the archive (e.g. "Here's something I wrote on the subject HERE"). Another option would be to simply not say anything and leave people to their discussion.
6) When making posts, do not give a huge data-dump of everything even slightly related to the topic.
Some folks post a vast array of quotes, links, and anecdotes regarding a topic, simply overwhelming the inquirer and killing all discussion. This no more facilitates a dialogue than jumping up in a conversation, demanding silence, turning on a PowerPoint presentation, and putting up seventeen slides. If you think it would be helpful, make an organized wiki/blog of your own that you can refer people to with a single click (e.g. "Here's a collection of data that I compiled HERE").
7) Do not point towards how someone conducts him/herself "in person" as a mitigating factor for their conduct on AikiWeb.
I have no doubt that some of the most sharp-tongued posters are amiable and sweet in "real life." Posting that they are "really nice people" in person while their online persona does not convey the same tone doesn't excuse or really have any bearing on what goes on here on AikiWeb.
8) Do not use a battery of rhetorical questions as a part of a discussion.
This does not mean that people are unwelcome to ask questions to have something clarified.
Rather, repeated rhetorical questions are merely a device for the questioner to make an assertion of knowledge -- and of ignorance on the part of those who cannot answer the questions.
If you know the answers to these questions, then just explain what you know.
~ * ~
I will end this by saying that the above list is incomplete. There are, of course, many other specific behaviors that I want to see changed here on AikiWeb, and I will update these rules as I decide them. With that said, I hope this list will help guide people to conducting themselves in a manner more conducive to civil discussions.
Just so there is no confusion -- these are rules, not requests; they are not points of discussion. If these rules are broken, I will be simply deleting the posts which break the rules and will be handing out more moderation actions (especially to those with an already existing moderation history) which will include revocation of posting privileges, either temporary or permanent.
My sincerest hope is that we all help create and cultivate a culture that facilitates a meaningful and respectful exchange of ideas, experiences, thoughts, and opinions here on AikiWeb. I invite and welcome you to join me, please, in continuing to make that hope a reality.
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