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dps 08-13-2006 01:41 PM

Competition again!!!
 
In researching past posts I came across this on competition by Chuck Clark six years ago. Any new comments on this?



07-04-2000, 12:43 PM #1
Chuck Clark

'Hi everyone,

I was just reading some of the posts here on AikiWeb Forum and I see lots of folks using the words "competition or competitive" and I would like to kinda pick this word apart a bit because I think our society's usage is skewed. I would appreciate your thoughts after reading the following essay.

Competition
This article originally appeared in the Jiyushinkai Budo News and
then was reprinted in Furyu, The Budo Journal

I am a competitor. I grew up competing for grades in school and victories on the athletic field. Now I compete in the business world. At times it seems my whole life is a competition. So, what drew me to aikido? This is a noncompetitive martial art with no tournaments, trophies, or the other traditional trappings of competition. Am I trying to escape from competition?

My involvement in aikido has forced me to question my understanding of competition. I've always thought of competition as winning or losing. Where did I get this idea? As a kid I was told that it doesn't matter if I win or lose, but it's how I played the game that counts. As an adult, I was told that winning is everything, and the only thing worse than losing was failing to compete. This approach to competition seemed to produce a state of warfare in my life. Every situation became a confrontation resulting in either a win or a loss, and losing was unacceptable. Is competition reflected in this zero-sum view of life?

The word compete comes from the Latin competere, which is a compound verb formed from com that means 'together', and petere that means 'to seek'. Therefore, compete originally meant 'to seek together'. Webster's defines compete as 'to come together or to strive consciously or unconsciously for an objective'. These definitions appear more closely related to aikido than my zero-sum view of life as 'winning is everything'.

So, maybe aikido is competitive. It is a journey we take together, seeking an objective, and hopefully as we travel our journey moves from the unconscious to the conscious.

I believe that competition has become confused with combat, which is a zero-sum path. Combat comes from the Latin combattere, which means 'to fight together'. Webster's defines combat as 'fighting with and striving to reduce or eliminate'. These definitions appear to be more consistent with our society's understanding of competition. We like to view our activities in terms of warfare. Why else do we find Sun Tzu's The Art of War in the business section of our bookstore, or hear athletes talking about 'taking no prisoners'? Are these competitors or combatants?

Traveling along the road of competition is healthy, and it is only when we detour into the darkness of combat that we lose our way. Confusing the two roads has deprived many people of the chance to experience the lessons of competition. Some have become engrossed with the idea that winning is everything, and they only see life as a series of battles in a war. The only purpose to their life is winning, but they never question what they have won. Others are scared of losing, so they refuse to play the game. They become spectators, failing to participate in life, and losing by default. Neither of these groups understands that competition is part of our journey through life, not the final destination.

Life requires participation (getting your hands dirty; putting our hand in your partner's face; taking a fall), and participation involves the risk of failure. In The Art of Peace, O-Sensei says, "Failure is the key to success, each mistake teaches us something." How can we find failure or success if we confuse competition with combat?

Success and failure are 'mile markers' along the road during competition. We use them to gauge our progress. We should learn from both our successes and our failures, because neither are permanent nor final stops along the road. However, in combat, success is just a reprieve until the road ends in failure. Which road do you wish to travel?


Copyright by Roger Alexander 1996 All Rights Reserved

(Roger was a professional baseball pitcher and is now a teacher and coach as well as a sandan in aikido.)

Thanks,"


__________________
Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org]

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...do+competition
Thanks,
David

Roman Kremianski 08-13-2006 10:08 PM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
Wise words.

Brad Pruitt 08-13-2006 11:27 PM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
I believe you must know failure to succeed or how else would you know where it is you've gotten from where you've been.My success comes through my failures but is ultimately inside of me.

ian 08-14-2006 06:01 AM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
Yep - I think the practise of aikido requires constant competion with your self (always wanting to improve), as opposed to a passive prancing around through techniques thinking if I practise for 50 years I'll be an expert or thinking that you're great if you beat your school mate. I think you have to gouge out the eyes of self-delusion, bite off the ears of self-congratulation and wrench out the liver from sensei adoration - just focusing on one thing; improvement in the martial arts.

Mark Uttech 08-14-2006 07:23 AM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
That Aikido is "Michi" or a way, implies a type of internal competition, no different than the act of brushing one's teeth every morning. You don't brush your teeth to 'improve' them, but you still have to get yourself to do it.

deepsoup 08-14-2006 03:33 PM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
Quote:

David Skaggs wrote:
Any new comments on this?

Yes. Chuck Clark really is a bit of a star, isn't he? :)

Mark Uttech 08-14-2006 03:38 PM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
no he is not. and he would be the first to say so.

Charles Hill 08-14-2006 08:09 PM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
Hi Mark,

How does michi/way imply internal competition?

btw, the post seems to indicate Roger Alexander as the author, not Mr. Clark.
another btw, Mr. Clark's Jiyushinkan website is full of really nice, thought provoking articles, check it out!

Charles

deepsoup 08-15-2006 02:50 AM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
Quote:

Charles Hill wrote:
btw, the post seems to indicate Roger Alexander as the author

Yes it does, but nevertheless it was a fine contribution to the thread. My comment was more general really.
Thanks for the tip, I checked that site out some time ago, but don't remember much about it, time for another look..

Mark Uttech 08-15-2006 08:34 AM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
Hi Charles, Michi implies internal competition for the very simple reason that it hard to do anything without some sort of internal dialogue (hence, the competition), should I get up? should I stay in bed? That type of thing. Should I go to class? Internal competition is a very natural pastime. On the other hand, external competition works with some need or desire to "prove oneself" to others, or, I should say, to prove oneself to oneself and others; but that type of victory passes so swiftly as to be "no victory."

happysod 08-15-2006 09:02 AM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
Quote:

On the other hand, external competition works with some need or desire to "prove oneself" to others, or, I should say, to prove oneself to oneself and others; but that type of victory passes so swiftly as to be "no victory."
Can't get behind this one Mark, I've known several people whose victory in a competitive venue have lasted them most their lives by being not only a cherished memory but also as part of how they have defined themselves. Also, how far do you take this dismissal of others for taking stock of your own achievements? A simple aikido kyu grading would qualify under this definition as the person grading has to prove themselves to others, anyone doing a demonstration is also depend ant on the viewpoint of others not their own for how it is received.

For me competition and winning aren't dirty words unless they're coupled with the need to denigrate or humiliate your opponent. People are by and large social animals, so I don't think you can fully separate "internal" and "external" competition. If you do, often this leads to strange theories tested only within your own mind which would never survive the light of anothers criticism.

Mark Uttech 08-15-2006 09:27 AM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
ha ha it certainly didn't survive the light of yours! In gassho,
Mark

Charles Hill 08-15-2006 10:44 PM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
Thanks for the reply Mark. What do you think about the idea in the original post that the original/real meaning of "compete" is "to seek together"? Surely we can all agree that "compete" means or at least has come to mean "struggle for victory." And that victory means "gaining mastery over opponents or gaining the highest score. This, I think, is the common usage. I, for one, find the seek together definition more useful.

Charles

Mark Uttech 08-16-2006 05:04 AM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
Since the original meaning of the word is not the standard reality, maybe we had better use a different word. I use the word 'awase' in my classes, as one translation of 'awase' is 'together'.
The use of the word 'musubi' also works, as it is about connection. In gassho

Mark

dps 08-17-2006 05:59 AM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
In ' The Spirit of Aikido' by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, is ' Reminders in Aikido Practice'. These are guidelines that OSensei gave to his students in response for dojo regulations. Number one says," Aikido decides life and death in a single strike, so students must carefully follow the instructor's teaching and not compete to see who is the strongest." These were written around 1935.
The part that says," ...not compete to see who is the strongest.", seems to be a qualification on the idea of competition in agreement with the definition of Roger Alexander's.
Do you think that OSensei changed this meaning later?

Also isn't ," Aikido decides life and death in a single strike.", an interesting remark about the lethality of Aikido?

Mark Uttech 08-17-2006 08:06 AM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
"Aikido decides life and death in a single strike" could simply mean that if you don't get off the line of the attack, well....

George S. Ledyard 08-17-2006 09:35 AM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
Quote:

David Skaggs wrote:

Also isn't ," Aikido decides life and death in a single strike.", an interesting remark about the lethality of Aikido?

For most of us doing Aikido, this is nothing more than a theoretical capability. Very few folks who started in post war Aikido have studied atemi waza to the extent that they could finish a confrontation with one blow, or even many blows. It's simply not been the focus of what has been passed down to the majority of folks who are training. I suspect the senior Yoshinkan practitioners have some capability in this regard as do the Yoseikan folks but not the majority of folks.

So while we can talk about how Aikido "could be" lethal, in reality it needs to be qualified that only "some people's" Aikido is potentially lethal.

Mike Sigman 08-17-2006 09:44 AM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
Quote:

George S. Ledyard wrote:
So while we can talk about how Aikido "could be" lethal, in reality it needs to be qualified that only "some people's" Aikido is potentially lethal.

I think that's an apt statement. Still, it should be emphasized that "universal harmony" implies a balance of all ideas... so some degree of competition, while not the focus, is part of the true ideal balance in the idea of true "harmony".

FWIW

Mike

dps 08-17-2006 10:05 AM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
Thank you George.

I was thinking along that thought since that was written in 1935. I would appreciate your opinion about the competition part.

In Kisshomaru's book he says that O'Sensei, "concluded that the true spirit of budo is not to be found in a competitive and combative atmosphere where brute strength dominates and victory at any cost is the paramount objective." Doesn't this define O'Sensei's meaning of competition as 'winning or losing' and not 'seeking together'?

Thank You
David

George S. Ledyard 08-17-2006 10:30 AM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
Quote:

David Skaggs wrote:
Thank you George.

I was thinking along that thought since that was written in 1935. I would appreciate your opinion about the competition part.

In Kisshomaru's book he says that O'Sensei, "concluded that the true spirit of budo is not to be found in a competitive and combative atmosphere where brute strength dominates and victory at any cost is the paramount objective." Doesn't this define O'Sensei's meaning of competition as 'winning or losing' and not 'seeking together'?

Thank You
David

In O-Sensei's original context, it was pre-war (or at least before our entry into the war that had been going on in Asia for years). I don't think his thinking about the competitive mind had changed yet to his post-war viewpoint. I belive that he meant this in the way that it would have been meant in any of the combat oriented jiu jutsu arts. If you train with someone in the combat arts with a competitive mind set you will be injured, perhaps severly. This is why training was done in Kata and there would be little or no competition.

I believe that O-sensei was as effected by the devastation of WWII as most Japanese were, perhaps even more so because of his spiritual beliefs about the uniqueness of the Japanese spirit and the Way of the Kami. I think that he saw that Japan had been led astray by its notions of conquest and that this oppositional thinking had produced its own destruction. At that point, I think his notion of not competing started to have more of the sense of not having the competing mind because it didn't fit with the spiritual lesson he felt the art should be imparting.

Howver, I do not think that he felt that shiai, competition in the sense of competing to perfect oneself was wrong, It was just that to do so would require rules and regulations that would change the martial nature of the art and he wasn't willing to do that. If one looks at the whole issue from his point of view, he saw an essential connection existing between all things that made it fundamentally inappropriate to talk about winning and losing. If the two opponents are really one, how can one win over the other? This is where he gets to the idea that the real conflict with is with oneself and he talks about masakatsu agatsu, tuer victory is victory over oneself.

dps 08-17-2006 10:43 AM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
Thank You,
David

Mike Sigman 08-17-2006 10:44 AM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
In really traditional Taiji, a person is not allowed to start the 2-hand engagement called "push hands" for a number of years. The idea is that until you have trained your body to have the qi and jin skills, competition will only serve to keep you in the normal-muscle mode. If you look at most western "push hands", it's easy to see that it's mostly disguised wrestling and a little judo at best. Few westerners ever develop qi and jin skills, just like few westerners in Aikido, karate, etc., ever developed ki and kokyu skills. Competition is a no-no for that reason. I wonder if that might not also have been part of Ueshiba's reasoning?

FWIW

Mike Sigman

George S. Ledyard 08-17-2006 11:17 AM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote:
In really traditional Taiji, a person is not allowed to start the 2-hand engagement called "push hands" for a number of years. The idea is that until you have trained your body to have the qi and jin skills, competition will only serve to keep you in the normal-muscle mode. If you look at most western "push hands", it's easy to see that it's mostly disguised wrestling and a little judo at best. Few westerners ever develop qi and jin skills, just like few westerners in Aikido, karate, etc., ever developed ki and kokyu skills. Competition is a no-no for that reason. I wonder if that might not also have been part of Ueshiba's reasoning?

FWIW

Mike Sigman

That's another excellent take on this as well. Competition too soon just creates tension which is the enemy of aiki.

dps 08-17-2006 11:30 AM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
Is competition in Tai Chi of the 'win or lose' or 'seeking together'.
What was the purpose of the origin of Tai Chi? My limited understanding of Tai Chi was that it was a style of Chinese Martial Arts that was adapted for the purpose of creating a form (kata) for health and spiritual development.

Mike Sigman 08-17-2006 11:42 AM

Re: Competition again!!!
 
Quote:

David Skaggs wrote:
Is competition in Tai Chi of the 'win or lose' or 'seeking together'.
What was the purpose of the origin of Tai Chi? My limited understanding of Tai Chi was that it was a style of Chinese Martial Arts that was adapted for the purpose of creating a form (kata) for health and spiritual development.

Well, it's best to think of the preliminary learning of a Taiji form as "learning to move in a different way that involves using jin/kokyu and ki/qi." That's why a form is so slow... it's supposed to be an intensive re-learning of how to move (although most westerners think it's something similar to a moving magical incantation that looks cool). ;)

Once you have learned to develop some of your own jin/kokyu/ki power, you can progress onward to doing restricted pattern motions with a partner where each of you is trying to move/respond using only the lightest qi/jin/kokyu, whatever, using only one arm. Once you can do that, you progress to a pattern using 2 arms and a series of movements (stylized attacks and responses). As your personal acquisition of the jin/kokyu skills increases, you can add moving-step push-hands and more freestyle push-hands. Here in the West, most people have not even the foggiest idea of what jin is, few can do even an elementary pattern and they prefer to do "freestyle", which is just wrestling/scrabbling in a fairly safe environment. Naturally, all this wrestling is usually accompanied by conversation about the "Tao", "harmony", etc. ;)

So the answer to your question is basically that most of the stuff you're bound to encounter being done by westerners is going to be a bit of a parody of the traditional study of Taiji... so keep an open mind.

Regards,

Mike


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