Basic Principles-Oral traditions
I was first taught that the basic principles of aikido where
4. Weight Underside
Although not necessarily in that order.
Now I teach those as the basic principles of good ki, and
1. Takemusu aiki
2. Masakatsu agatsu as the basic principles of aikido.
Aside from what really are or aren't the basic principles of aikido, I am curious what the ORAL TRADITIONS are in your dojos.
1. What are the words that are verbally transmitted to you as the principles of aikido?
2. Is knowledge of this "dogma" included on tests?
:) Onegaishimasu :)
It would seem clear that the root of my original oral tradition is Tohei sensei. I don't know how much of it I have altered since with my own bias and human error, but it is always good to know where you come from.
How about an aikikai or other dojo? I am curious how dogmatic the oral traditions are out there? (I usually sound like a broken record, and I want to know if I am the only one.)
Although our oral tradition of 'move off centre line' is probably the thing said constantly in our dojo, I'm not into 'oral tradition'. To me understanding comes through training. Aikido can evolve through training, but too much talk can make it 'mystical'.
So I suppose the oral tradition is - learn through training.
P.S. knowledge of any 'dogma' is not assessed in gradings, however the attitude towards our uke and collegues, and the ability to blend and have strong centre etc is assessed indirectly through the performace of good and safe technique.
To me physical/social 'behaviour' should emenate from an understanding and although we could emulate the behaviour, it will be contrary to our own nature until we have gained a real (not verbal) understanding. e.g. it's easier to have empathy for someone who has been through the same problems as you.
The basics seem to be drilled into us a lot: kihon dosa, kihon waza. But above all, a good kamae is stressed the most - always, even to the most senior people (especially by uchi deshi of Kancho Shioda). Don't think I've heard the word Ki mentioned even once, although its been alluded to occasionally.
Not teaching enough verbally, and with a wide enough base, you have people that may only learn to chuck people around, and have manners, without the chance to really see how to apply aikido to their lives. Okay for some, a waste for those who would like more.
And you also get the soapbox mystics who babble incoherently about things longer than they actually practice them. Another not so useful thing. Trading verbal tradition like this often happened for me at McDonald's after practice. I still must insist that it is important, though. The context of budo is inseparable from its content. (we still learn shomen techniques. How many people have been mugged with a shomen strike??) The verbal aspect is a great chance to fill out that background...
just some thoughts.
wuhuu! I get to post the 20 000th post! (Sprinkles and flashes)
No in our dojo noone asks the oral teachings on exams. However they are usually the usual: keep the center, focus, etc etc.
However we sometimes when we see some student do something wrong we don't correct him at first but ask: Why didn't it work? If he answers "My hands lost touch with my center" or smth, then we feel pleased:)
P.S. Shomen is usually delieverd with a bottle or a stick in a hand. And yes yes in a bar fight it is very likely to appear.
Physical practice/oral traditions
Although there is a stronger format to study the lineage of martial arts teachers, how it is taught, why it is taught, and its developement through the years by many striking arts schools, it is less expected in the actual classes of Aikido, but expected to be dealt with by the individual as they continue their own training.
Most of my compatriots in Aikido, including teachers and friends in other dojo's, seem to individually adapt their beliefs to include the various lines and lineages of their own Aikido teachers, with a focus on the developement of Aikido by Ueshiba, Morehei sensei over his lifetime to refine the arts he practiced and learned over his lifetime into Aikido we practice today. Our fascination with passing on tradition Aikido oral teachings is to collectively be able to gather and practice, while keeping the spirit of Aikido alive. Most questions and fine points are discussed in coffee table groups, or at seminars when someone who knew O'Sensei has inside knowledge, or higher authoritys can provide clarity as to the direction we are headed in Aikido.
So ... most people I know are not forcing students to study and learn oral tradition, but somehow, someway, many of the principles of Aikido find their way into classes, or students reading materials. One of the few things that is difficult to record, or write down, is the spirit of practice that is both benevolent, yet disciplined. This tradition, must be experienced ... of course some details being explained as we practice is a big help for oral traditions?
I just love it when sensei's stop in the middle of a seminar, tell some embarrassing story about themselves or someone else, then tie it in to learning the meaning of a technique we are practicing.
Now that ... is one great oral tradition.
The principles of aikido:
Masakatsu agatsu (true victory is victory over oneself)
principle of range of effectiveness
principle of blending
principle of circular motion
principle of ki (allow ki to flow)
Also, the principles to unify mind and body:
maintain controlled relaxation
maintain your one point
keep weight underside
allow ki to flow
"Please tell us what the principles of aikido are." "And now the principles to unify mind and body."
"Please explain the principle of blending using a non-martial example."
We also have others that aren't exactly the principles of aikido (for us) but we are required to be able to talk about them eventually.
"the correct and proper usage of ki"
"take one step aside and cut immediately"
"shodo o seisu" (control the first move)
"the spirit of loving protection"
The questions change very little over time. Your answers however should change as your understanding deepens. I believe that's what my sensei is looking for. That you're gaining a deeper understanding as you train and are thinking about the principles more and trying to apply them to daily life.
My sensei also requires a pre-test interview essay to be written. We have a sheet with several questions that he wants answered as one long essay. Things like "why should you be considered for promotion?" and "what is your strongest aikido art or skill? What is your weakest?" What is the most significant thing you've learned since your last test?" "Have you used aikido outside the dojo, give an example" There's a couple more that I can't think of right now. This interview is required for every test. Again he's looking for the answers to change over the years as the understanding deepens (I think :freaky: )
Recently he announced that from now on for all dan tests he is also going to require a short research paper on some aspect of aikido history. Haven't seen one yet, no dan tests as of late.
That's what I get for studying with a doctor and ex-educator ;)
First I am from Whitehall MI, and so the next time I come home I would like to drop by.
There is also someone teaching in Zeeland MI to my knowledge now, as well as Grand Haven.
I am a student of David Rodriguez, and am currently teaching in rural Japan.
Next if you wouldn't mind explaining the principle of range of effectiveness, I was very curious what that is. Maai, perhaps?
And finally I teach Masakatsu Agatsu as bring the attacker to a higher truth is the only way that the defender can truly win. If the attacker is broken then the defender also loses.
I often see however, though, a more traditional MA thought in the idea that True victory can only be achieved over oneself. Is anyone out there taught the interpretation of Masakatsu Agatsu that I use?
To finish I will include a quote. By a dead author, because it makes me look smarter. :)
John Donne - From Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1623), XVII: Nunc Lento Sonitu Dicunt, Morieris
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
My knowledge of local geography is pathetic so I'm not sure where Whitehall is. It doesn't really matter though, you're always welcome to come and train with us (as is anyone who is ever in the area). When a visit home becomes imminent let me know and I'll send you directions to the dojo.
I have no knowledge of instructors in Zeeland or Grand Haven (doesn't mean they're not there, I just don't know about 'em) but there is a new place in Grand Rapids that opened recently called the Toyoda Center. Really a great bunch of people. We were invited to their grand opening and I was impressed. Not just with the facility they'd created but also with the friendly atmosphere. If you're back in the area you may want to give them a visit too.
Of course on tests when they ask what is range of effectivness we sometimes simply answer "the range in which you are effective". We aren't serious, we only say it because it bugs our dojo cho :D
The interpretation of masakatsu agatsu that we use is true victory is victory over oneself.
I've never heard the other one. It's good though.
Hope this answered your questions.
Stop in any time your around. We'd be tickled to have you train with us.
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