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nikonl 03-24-2002 12:51 AM

Seiza
 
Is sitting in seiza position during training (when Sensei is demonstrating move..etc) important? What is actually behind it?

Just wondering, how many dojos have to sit in seiza and why?

Personally, i have to, during training, and i think its good for concentration and posture/balance.

What are your views?

Hope to get some good answers from the seniors :)

Mona 03-24-2002 02:19 AM

Re: Seiza
 
Hi Leslie,

Sitting in seiza while Sensei or a sempai is demonstrating is not only proper etiquette (to show respect for "those who came before"), but is also essential if you don't want to get injured accidentally standing too close to the "demonstration area".
You may sit cross-legged too, especially if you're injured or feeling uncomfortable, but you cannot sit with your legs outstretched.
It's also improper to stand up while Sensei is sitting; should you have to move across the dojo, only shikko is acceptable.
Naturally, these are the rules at my dojo, I wouldn't know if other dojos are more lineant. :p

As for the meaning behind sitting in seiza (which of course isn't proper to Aikido alone)...well, seiza is the formal Japanese sitting posture, not only in Budo but also in arts and crafts. "Sei" means "proper, true" and, yep you've guessed it, "za" means "sitting posture".
Proper seiza helps to naturally align your body and spinal column.

nikonl 03-24-2002 06:54 AM

Mona: hey,i like the url of your web. Harmony club...very nice. :)

Bruce Baker 03-24-2002 08:23 AM

Seiza ... ouch!
 
I can't say that seiza still doesn't hurt when my legs go to sleep after fifteen or twenty minutes, but then that is from lifetime of not doing it and having my muscles turn into stretched rubber bands? If you don't do seiza, it will take three or four years in your fortys to even touch your butt to your heels, as it did me. That is a lot of pain ... ouch!

The weird thing about doing seiza is that the more comfortable you are doing it the easier knee walking and deep knee bending becomes when doing techniques? If you practice standing and sitting, then getting up from odd falls becomes second nature. Although with age and 280 pounds to push up, I find I am using one hand more and more often to stand up?

So, even if you don't see the benefits of seiza, and you do it as being polite, or as part of your dojo's regimen, you will benefit from its basic premise.

Oh, don't do it if you have a bad injury? Your teacher will understand.

Eventually, as your legs strengthen from practice, and stretch in seiza, you won't have any problem in seiza ... especially if you don't wait till your muscles are tight as stretched rubber bands, over forty?

Maybe that is why they ask me if I eat trees? Go Figure?

Mona 03-24-2002 11:08 AM

Re: Seiza ... ouch!
 
Bruce,

:confused: why are you so fond of question marks, even in plain phrases?

:D

Krzysiek 03-24-2002 03:10 PM

rubber bands
 
....... except that if your knees are as tight as rubber bands....

When you sit in Seiza (or do any other kind of stretching) you should NOT feel the stretch in tendons or ligaments (i.e.-even in Seiza if you feel stretching behind the kneecap or on the sides of the knee, or pulling at tendons nearby the knees.... or if your knee is a little swollen and bending it a lot generates pressure inside the knee..... those are all BAD... it means you need to stretch differently, warm up more pre-stretching, and most likely ask somebody who knows about it.)

If you stretch tendons or ligaments you're most likely just making them weaker and destabilizing your joints.... which can lead to bad things.

My two cents...

Sincerely,
Krzysiek

Mares 03-25-2002 07:40 PM

Re: Seiza
 
Quote:

Originally posted by nikon
Is sitting in seiza position during training (when Sensei is demonstrating move..etc) important? What is actually behind it?

Just wondering, how many dojos have to sit in seiza and why?

I understand it to be a sign of respect for your Sensei and/or Sempai. I believe it is disrespectful and inappropriate to have your Sensei or Sempai look up at you. As kohai you should remain at the same level or below your Sensei, especially when being spoken to. Hence the need for shikko as well.

Something along those lines anyway.

Largo 03-25-2002 07:52 PM

I want to make one little tiny comment here. People need to understand the difference between being polite and using their brains. If you have a knee condition, don't sit in seiza for a long period of time. If you are in severe pain, you won`t be watching, listening, or learning. And THAT is what is seroiusly rude.

(of course, make sure your sensei knows about this...it'll stop the glares before they start)

Krzysiek 03-26-2002 09:28 AM

Amen Largo!

:D

Mona 03-26-2002 02:21 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by Largo
I want to make one little tiny comment here. People need to understand the difference between being polite and using their brains. If you have a knee condition, don't sit in seiza for a long period of time.

Paul, Paul, Paul...The point has already been made.

Allow me to quote myself:

"You may sit cross-legged too, especially if you're injured or feeling uncomfortable."


:p :p :p :p :p

Largo 03-26-2002 07:43 PM

Quote:

The point has already been made.
Sorry about that...knees are kind of an issue for me. Despite being 22, a few years of Muay Thai has already ruined my legs to the point where it's hard to walk on rainy days. I've been chewed out at a number of dojos (only in america, ironically) by a lot of people who feel that they must do everything "like they do in Japan". (sadly, before my knees gave out, I was one of that type too)

PeterR 03-26-2002 09:10 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by Largo
I've been chewed out at a number of dojos (only in america, ironically) by a lot of people who feel that they must do everything "like they do in Japan". (sadly, before my knees gave out, I was one of that type too)
And of course in Japan allowances are made for those that can't.

guest1234 03-26-2002 09:39 PM

I've been in some pretty traditional/strict dojos, and they all let you sit cross-legged if your knees hurt too much in seiza, except the few brief moments of bowing in and out of class. And if your knees hurt too much for that, you might question if you shouldn't be taking a break from Aikido for the moment, as most movements will be harder on your knees than seiza. This is no to say that seiza can't hurt your knees, if you have a weakness in the lining of your knees. But the old war wounds thing, that would hurt with movement more than seiza.

On the subject of bad knees, most 'my knees hurt too much' statements I've seen are not associated with any trouble with the knees in any other way, and often seem more related to tight muscles/tendons that the individual is not overly interested in stretching. I think senseis can figure out when that is happening, as they see through the I'm-stopping-practive-to-tie-my-gi-or-because-I'm-dizzy, rather than out of shape excuse. Sharp fellows, those senseis...

I think the only time I've seen anyone reprimanded is when they are sitting with their legs out straight, or just casually laying around. That is not only rude, but dangerous.

nikonl 03-27-2002 01:20 AM

I've seen many Aikido pictures and clips where the students in the background are casually laying around as what ca said and some of them are actually shodans(as the hakama shows)

And it isn't only a few, i'm sure there aren't many people with knee problems right? :D that's what made me start this thread. :)

erikmenzel 03-27-2002 02:36 AM

Hi,

I agree with everybody that if your knees really hurt you should in the first place take care of yourself and sit crosslegged.

I also would like to voice a slightly different opinion.
I have 1 really bad knee (been operated on it twice), yet I can feel for myself there is a difference between my bad knee hurting because it is bad and my legs hurting for some other reason. Most of the time when my legs hurt it is because I feel my muscles being (overly) strechted.
This feeling will improve with time and practice!
IMHO to many people confuse pain because their not use to it with pain because of bad knees. This holds for seiza, shikko and suwari waza !

Another point to make is that there is a proper way to sit in seiza where the force is evenly distributed. This way there is less stress on the knees and the feet. (Please dont ask me to explain it, because I think I will fail horrorably trying to explain it in writing, better to ask and observe closely someone how can easily sit in seiza).

PeterR 03-27-2002 02:58 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by erikknoops IMHO to many people confuse pain because their not use to it with pain because of bad knees. This holds for seiza, shikko and suwari waza!
Very good point - its not necessary to play a game of all or nothing. Back off a little bit if you are uncomfortable.

Chuck.Gordon 03-27-2002 07:29 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by Largo

I've been chewed out at a number of dojos (only in america, ironically) by a lot of people who feel that they must do everything "like they do in Japan". (sadly, before my knees gave out, I was one of that type too)

Oh, that's just silly. Not you, the practice of being more Japanese than the Japanese.

Sigh.

(donning asbestos armor)

Many of the older-generation Japanese have a huge military-school hangover. It was beaten into them before and during the war. It has remained present in the attitudes and practices in many schools and universities and in many business ... sadly, in many dojo as well.

The older folks grew up with military training being mandatory in school; schools run by the military, in many cases. And the martial arts programs in schools that everyone attended were often run by military officers.

Most of the militaristic BS folks cling to in the dojo is a holdover from those days. Yes, instilling a sense of order and discipline in students is sometimes needed, especially if you're teaching a roomful of kids or teens.

However, amongst adults, all of the shouting, constant bowing, exaggerated postures and oh-so-proper-formality are just not necessary.

If you have a large class, it's important to maintain discipline, but it isn't necessary to do so by treating the dojo like boot camp.

To paraphrase one very senior koryu teacher, speaking to a couple of gendai folks sitting in rigid seiza and spouting badly accented Japanese phrases (and going Osu! to his every word), "Relax, boys. This is koryu. We don't need to beat discipline into you, we practice self-discipline; the discipline of warriors, not the discipline of schoolchildren."

If you're knees are bad, being forced to sit in seiza ain't a good thing. Heck, even with mostly decent knees, sitting seiza for long stretches can be pretty daunting for folks who aren't quite as limber.

Quote:

Originally posted by Colleen

I've been in some pretty traditional/strict dojos

This is another facet of that same stone. Traditional doesn not necessarily mean strict.

Students are expected to behave, to pay attention, to be respectful, but in many traditional dojo, in many koryu dojo, no one stands over you with a stick, waiting to whack you if you fidget or scratch.

Strict, in that folks are expected to show self-restraint, self-discipline, show up, train hard, share the knowledge and learn? Yes.

Strict in that everyone walks around like it's a church and geneflucts every time the teacher farts? No.

Some of the most relaxed and casual training I've done has been with an old Japanese koryu guy. He held 7th dan ranking in a handful of gendai budo, too, but ran the class in koryu style. He was patient, careful, precise and attentive, but he was not a drill sergeant waiting for someone to break ranks so he could chivvy them back into proper order.

Discipline doesn't have to be shouting and traditional doesn't mean boot camp.

Back to the knee thing.

Stretching, as Colleen pointed out, is essential for good knee health. So is proper exercise.

I've never known anyone (absent real knee probs, such as torn meniscus, etc) who couldn't do seiza, at least long enough to bow in and out and do a short meditation, after some training. Sitting there for a 45-minute lecture? That's a different critter.

Seiza is 'seated properly' -- but it's not really that big a deal. Other seated postures -- tate-hiza, iai-goshi, anza, etc -- are just as proper in their place.

In the end, common sense and safety are far more important than some artificial code of conduct.

But that's just my opinion ...

Chuck

Chuck.Gordon 03-27-2002 07:34 AM

Re: Re: Seiza
 
Quote:

Originally posted by Mares

I understand it to be a sign of respect for your Sensei and/or Sempai. I believe it is disrespectful and inappropriate to have your Sensei or Sempai look up at you. As kohai you should remain at the same level or below your Sensei, especially when being spoken to. Hence the need for shikko as well.

Hmm. Interesting idea. I'll have to look into that. I've heard it before, but never heard it really substantiated.

I do know that some of my teachers have been shorter than my own six-foot-plus and have had no problems with me standing as they taught.

On a practical note, getting down in seiza or anza (if we're playing high-formal in my dojo, we do iai-goshi) helps clear the line of sight so folks can see what's going on.

It's less a matter of respect than of practical classroom manners.

Chuck

Edward 03-27-2002 10:33 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by LOEP


Many of the older-generation Japanese have a huge military-school hangover. It was beaten into them before and during the war. It has remained present in the attitudes and practices in many schools and universities and in many business ... sadly, in many dojo as well.


Sorry to ask a silly question here, but it is Martial Arts that we're doing, right?

So basically these are military arts, old-fashioned military arts.

I myself don't find anything wrong about being military-like. I respect very much the military and feel that we really lack a lot of their discipline and sacrifice. I'm not saying that we should have military discipline at the dojos but at least it should be stricter atmosphere than say regular sports training.

But maybe I'm wrong....

Cheers,
Edward

erikmenzel 03-27-2002 10:47 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by Edward
Sorry to ask a silly question here, but it is Martial Arts that we're doing, right?

So basically these are military arts, old-fashioned military arts.
Yet by claiming to be training aikido we are claiming to be above the ranks of the traditional common footsoldier.

Yet being at that level does not mean less discipline/strictness, it means that discipline and strictness are applied by choice. This resembles in my opinion the training atmosphere in a good dojo, strict and disciplined, but by choice of the practionars and not enforced by some drillsergeant or other authority.

Erik 03-27-2002 12:13 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by LOEP
To paraphrase one very senior koryu teacher, speaking to a couple of gendai folks sitting in rigid seiza and spouting badly accented Japanese phrases (and going Osu! to his every word), "Relax, boys. This is koryu. We don't need to beat discipline into you, we practice self-discipline; the discipline of warriors, not the discipline of schoolchildren."
Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Somehow the air is so much cleaner now.

Chuck.Gordon 03-27-2002 12:58 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by Edward

Sorry to ask a silly question here, but it is Martial Arts that we're doing, right?
So basically these are military arts, old-fashioned military arts.

No silly questions. Only occasionally some silly answers. Yes, I'm guilty of that ...

However ... in all seriousness:

Yep. The critical part of that phrase being 'old style' ... koryu. Budo was originally a tool of the warrior (military) class. The military/martial refers to THAT and not to the pre-war hysteria (psychopathy?) of Imperial Japan and the Co-Prosperity Sphere. Where did the Japanese, BTW, learn the kind of rigid military structure they imposed in the buildup years of the 20s and 30s? From the WEST! Yep. After Meiji, most of Japanese culture fought tooth and nail to get more like the west, including the military.

So, when we talk about 'old style' budo, we're really talking about the pre-westernization of Japan, wherein the warrior class knew their discipline, were born to it and raised in it. They didn't need boot camp tactics, they didn't need rigid rank heirarchies. They KNEW where everyone fit and how to behave.

Quote:

Originally posted by Edward

I myself don't find anything wrong about being military-like. I respect very much the military and feel that we really lack a lot of their discipline and sacrifice.

Good for you! I'm an old soldier and I am now a pacifist. I've tasted the other way and prefer the way of peace. However, that doesn't mean I don't believe in fighting for what's right, or in defense of the innocent and helpless. Just that I prefer peace over war ...

Quote:

Originally posted by Edward
I'm not saying that we should have military discipline at the dojos but at least it should be stricter atmosphere than say regular sports training.
Hmm. I can't, without some qualification, agree here. In SOME cases, yes, there needs to be a strict hand at the helm. When I've taught youth/teen classes, for instance. I implemented a more rigid system of discipline. Now, I have chosen not to teach kids and only deal with adults. As I interview and get to know prospective students, I let them know what I expect and what the standards are. They know how to behave -- maybe not the intricacies of our reishiki, but they know to shut up, listen and watch and learn. I don't need to make them jump up and down every time I have something to say, don't need them to treat me like they're my servants. They're my students, most become my friends and a few become part of my family. I don't want fawning sycophants. I want eager, alert, bright individuals.

Chuck

Chuck.Gordon 03-27-2002 12:59 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by erikknoops


Yet by claiming to be training aikido we are claiming to be above the ranks of the traditional common footsoldier.


Really? How so? And what does DO have to do with ANY of that?

Just curious about your thought process here.

Chuck

erikmenzel 03-27-2002 02:30 PM

Quote:

Loep wrote:
Really? How so? And what does DO have to do with ANY of that?

Just curious about your thought process here.
Well, there are two different concepts:
1. The fighter
2. The warrior or warrior-savant

The fighter just needs to know how to fight. Give him a gun or a spear and some basic training and sent him into battle. Nothing else is expected of this common soldier. Basicly they are nothing more than an weapon to be used by others. (Maybe these are the reason people dont expect insight or great poetry from commandoes).

The warrior-savant is the one that trains not only physical skill but other things as well, among which strategy and compasion. He is the one that decides, that chooses.

The differents between these concepts can be found at different places. Even in western history there was a huge difference between soldiers and knights.

Kisshomaru Ueshiba quotes in his book "The Spirit of Aikido" Guy Bonnefond, who says:
Quote:

We believe that it is only natural that aikido, representing a highly developed form of martial art and containing the noblest of legacy of Japanese culture and spirituality, should be well received in Europe with its high civilization and tradition of knighthood. (...)
.

So where does :do: come into the equation, one might ask.
The connection is made between the savant part of the warrior-savant and :do:.

Hope this clarifies it a bit.

Chuck.Gordon 03-28-2002 10:23 AM

Warriorship and aikido
 
Quote:

Originally posted by erikknoops [/b]
Hi Erik,

Thanks for taking time to respond. I'm not trying to be belligerent, but I guess -- me being on old enlisted foot soldier -- your comments struck me as being a bit elitist.

;)

Note that I did like your comments about self-applied discipline rather than external discipline!

Now, I'll don my crusty old grunt suit and address your comments about fighters and warriors.


Well, there are two different concepts:
1. The fighter
2. The warrior or warrior-savant


Hmm. I'd have to say that there are far more differentiations than those -- so many gradations, in fact, that the lines are blurry and grey rather than black and white -- but speaking broadly, I sort of see your point. If I read this right, you're saying foot soldiers can't be warriors and warriors aren't foot soldiers ... or no?

That studying aikido leads one to some sort of enlightened state of existence and that folks who aren't enlightened are more or less common thugs?

I hope I'm wrong in interpreting what you're saying ...

The fighter just needs to know how to fight. Give him a gun or a spear and some basic training and sent him into battle.

Sounds like the bulk of the warrior class of most societies for most of history. A few elite leaders (wealthy, land-owning, nobility, etc) and a mass of lesser folks who actually do the fighting and dying to accomplish the ends of those elite and their rulers.

soldier. Basicly they are nothing more than an weapon to be used by others. (Maybe these are the reason people dont expect insight or great poetry from commandoes).

Haven't known many commandoes, have you?

And the tradition of the soldier-poet is alive and well and has been a part of both eastern and western civilization for many centuries.

The warrior-savant is the one that trains not only physical skill but other things as well, among which strategy and compasion. He is the one that decides, that chooses.

Sorry, this, to me, smacks much of the archetypes of the Iron John men's movement sort of thinking (Warrior-Healer-Artist-Sage-etc).

A warrior is a person who makes war. A savant is a learned person. That describes MANY of the common soldiery I've known.

Does the study of aikido (or ANY budo) lead us to a spiritual evolution that sets us apart and above the common man? I don't know. I believe it can, but I also believe it is only one path among many.

And then we have to examine and dal with the reality of the folks who study aikido (or other budo) for a lifetime and who are still bullies, criminals, liars, cheats, frauds, etc. It happens. Sad, but true. Why didn't the process work for them?

Is the process flawed or are there some people who simply cannot be redeemed?

I don't know. Not nearly enough wisdom in this old heart to ascertain the truth of that.

I do know that some of the best people I know are budoka. And some of the worst I have known have been budoka. It's not a silver bullet.

To set ourselves above our peers simply because we study aikido/budo is arrogant at worst and self-delusional at best.

It's a great fantasy to think that we're studying the Way of the Warrior and that we are sealing unto ourselves some greater ideal. However, the truth of the evolution spawned by budo lies in the individual, I think, and not in the practice of a particular art.

The differents between these concepts can be found at different places. Even in western history there was a huge difference between soldiers and knights.

Yes, usually the knights were the landed gentry and nobility and the foot soldiers were the poor schmucks who were forced to fight the battles and die so the nobility could keep or add to what was already theirs.

Kisshomaru Ueshiba quotes in his book "The Spirit of Aikido" Guy Bonnefond, who says:

Yes. Great marketing that! Seems to have worked quite well!

;)

So where does :do: come into the equation, one might ask.
The connection is made between the savant part of the warrior-savant and :do:.


And herein, once again, we must examine the root of what DO means in regards to budo (and thus aikido) and likewise, examine its relationsiup to jutsu.

Many excellent martial scholars have delved into this (I refer you to Karl Friday, Meik and Diane Skoss, Joseph Svinth and Ellis Amdur, among others) and the concensus seems to be that there is little or no real difference in jutsu and do.

In the end, it is something within each of us which determines our potential for enlightenment. Through the medium of budo, we can attain great heights, but we are not guaranteed to so excel. Unless it's in the heart and spirit and mind of the practitioner to take the lessons we learn and make them a living part of our being, then it's just physical and mental exercise ...

Chuck


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