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dapidmini 06-19-2011 12:59 PM

philosophical or practical martial art?
 
I hope this is an appropriate sub forum to post this topic.

the aikido I know has a very deep philosophical points such as: non violence, non ego/self, etc. but it's still an effective martial arts for self defense. I know we're supposed to train both but in dojo, which part should we be more focused on? philosophical or practical side?

DCP 06-19-2011 01:45 PM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
That depends on what you want from aikido. Find an instructor and dojo that fits what you want from aikido.

Where I train, philosophical/martial emphasis usually depends on Sensei's mood.

jester 06-19-2011 10:20 PM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
I don't really see martial arts as philosophical or non violent. You fight like you train.

If you get mugged and your family is at risk are you going to be philosophical or non violent?

-

Carsten Möllering 06-20-2011 01:56 AM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
Quote:

David Santana wrote: (Post 286061)
the aikido I know has a very deep philosophical points such as: non violence, non ego/self,
...
which part should we be more focused on? philosophical or practical side?

I don't think aikido or budo in general to be non violent.

I don't train and I don't teach any philosophical or religious issues during training. We just practice. But I train and try to teach reishiki/reigi.

Philosophical or religious aspects of aikido / budo I discuss with my teacher or students after practice. On the tatami we just train. This is one reason, why seminars are so important.

Tim Ruijs 06-20-2011 02:38 AM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
To properly train, it is important to understand what and why you practise.
Your mindset (and focus) is very important.
When you only practise for good fun, then that's what you will get: fun.

You can practise Aikido to (learn to) hold your own in a fight and at the same time become more philosophical outside the dojo.
There is a time to practise and a time to be philosophical. But to practise the latter in the dojo? I am not so sure.

In our style we stay close to aikijitsu to understand aikido and at many occasions I show how the (do) technique might become dangerous/martial jitsu. I guess you could say one is more philosophical than the other...and then yes you can practise both in the dojo. But my intention is not to teach philosophy but to make my students understand Aikido by showing (some of) its origin (e.g. Aikijitsu).

But can you elaborate on your statement "supposed to train both" and in what way you currently do that? I am curious...

Mario Tobias 06-20-2011 04:10 AM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
I think there is a misconception that aikido is a non-aggressive, non-violent martial art. Aikido is in the first place a martial art.

I had trouble understanding the concept initially as the phrase "non-aggressive martial art" seemed contradictory. How could this be?

In my understanding (pls forgive me if it may seem shallow) as a martial artist, you go through phases. The initial phases, as a beginner you cannot avoid the violent or aggressive phase that the martial art offers. This includes aikido. You start learning techniques mostly painful submission moves and throws to control your partner and this is the only way you know how to control your aggressors. As you start learning more and more techniques, and get more proficient at them, you slowly start to realize how easy/trivial it is to maim, injure, paralyze, and even take ones life or the opposite, how they can take your life. I think the ultimate purpose of aikido or any other martial art for that matter is to transcend the violent phase and challenge yourself to accept that there exists a phase of non-violence (compassion, also for legal reasons) as you now, have higher probability of "winning" over your aggressors using less aggressive BUT more efficient techniques. This non-aggressive principle may just be more pronounced in aikido I think but no matter what phase you're in, violence and aggression will still exist just much, much less to minimize the damage. I think we may have heard the phrase "winning without fighting" at one point in time and this is the ultimate goal for any art.

I think it is not in the art to be questioned if it is effective or not, but in the artist. The techniques themselves are battle tested. The onus is on the artist if they are.

Mario Tobias 06-20-2011 04:35 AM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
case in point re aggressiveness/violence.

chiba or isoyama senseis videos. being high ranking aikidoka, the techniques they employ look aggressive and violent to me.

Jauch 06-20-2011 04:54 AM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
Quote:

David Santana wrote: (Post 286061)
I hope this is an appropriate sub forum to post this topic.

the aikido I know has a very deep philosophical points such as: non violence, non ego/self, etc. but it's still an effective martial arts for self defense. I know we're supposed to train both but in dojo, which part should we be more focused on? philosophical or practical side?

Hello David :)

I'm not a "police officer" (or anything like it), so my answer is from a "pure civilian point of view". ;)

My "self defense" (practical) training is to avoid be in a place/situation where I my need to "defend myself/others". The day I believe this is not enough, I'll move to other place (like my parents did) or if this is not possible I will begin to carry a gun.

Because of this, my training is focused on learn to listen my body, my partners body and my surrounds. I think our "soul" (or intent, or will, or whatever) "talks" through our eyes, movements, etc. I training to become able to clear my mind from everything, so I can "feel" the others/universe. I try to not cause injury, no matter how "violent" my partner charges against me, because I "believe" that if you aren't able to avoid hurting someone (and I'm not saying that you will never have the need to do it...), you do not have "self-control". Without self-control, no one is able to really control the other. And despite the fact that I "believe" in the "aiki is love" idea and that the "universe/others" talk to us in a manner that you can't hear with your ears, for me, aiki, when there is a "physical conflict", is about control.

Then, like was already said, when on tatami, I just train. Or, at least, I try to do it. My philosophy is there, but I try to not be thinking on it. I just try to do what I believe is what I must in order to learn the things I think are important.

"Thinking", right or wrong, is a slower thing. :) So, I try to "internalize" the aiki concept (my believes) when I'm not practicing on tatami. On tatami, I train the ability to use aiki without the need to think on it.

Unsuccessfully until now, I must admit ;)

Hum... I said a lot and don't know if I really helped...
I can only say "Good luck" in your search! :)

SeiserL 06-20-2011 06:03 AM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
IMHO, train the body in the martial aspect and train the mind in the philosophical.

Mario Tobias 06-20-2011 07:31 AM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
Quote:

Lynn Seiser wrote: (Post 286101)
IMHO, train the body in the martial aspect and train the mind in the philosophical.

well said.

graham christian 06-28-2011 05:48 PM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
Hi David.
Philosophical or practical? Why in your mind are they different as if to be not connected?

Here's some data for you. Back in Japan in those 'old' days it was quite normal to recognise spiritual and zen was known as very spiritual yet disciplined and real.

Here in the western world when a teacher of such things gives spiritual rules which have physical effects it is generally pur down as philosophical.

Non-violence is an active thing as is non-resistance the effect of which is immediate. Very practical and effective. Hard to learn only because of our own unawareness.

Regards.G.

hughrbeyer 06-28-2011 11:03 PM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
When you're sharpening a sword, the first thing you do is sharpen the sword. You don't worry about the meaning of the sword, or the use of the sword, or the philosophical implications of owning a sword. You sharpen the sword.

Do all that other stuff off the mat.

Tim Ruijs 06-29-2011 03:25 AM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
Quote:

Hugh Beyer wrote: (Post 286715)
When you're sharpening a sword, the first thing you do is sharpen the sword. You don't worry about the meaning of the sword, or the use of the sword, or the philosophical implications of owning a sword. You sharpen the sword.

What would be the purpose of sharpening a sword, when you do not know why you need a sword in the first place?

hughrbeyer 06-29-2011 06:55 AM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
Sigh.

When you're sharpening a sword, you sharpen the sword.

When you're not sharpening the sword, do what you like.

phitruong 06-29-2011 07:13 AM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
Quote:

David Santana wrote: (Post 286061)
the aikido I know has a very deep philosophical points such as: non violence, non ego/self, etc. but it's still an effective martial arts for self defense. I know we're supposed to train both but in dojo, which part should we be more focused on? philosophical or practical side?

depends on the kind of person you are. if you are more philosophical and spiritual then you are more than likely will focus on those things. if you are a practical person, then that would be your focus. but it doesn't have to be either or. can be both. just because you are practical doesn't mean you are not philosophical about it, and vice versa. just because you are wearing a skirt, doesn't meant you are not a cross dresser. :)

phitruong 06-29-2011 07:18 AM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
Quote:

Tim Ruijs wrote: (Post 286721)
What would be the purpose of sharpening a sword, when you do not know why you need a sword in the first place?

someone pay you, perhaps? :)

read somewhere, that mentioned if you start to ponder on the meaning of life in the middle of a battle, you will have neither meaning nor life.

Tim Ruijs 06-29-2011 07:44 AM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
Quote:

Hugh Beyer wrote: (Post 286724)
Sigh.

When you're sharpening a sword, you sharpen the sword.

When you're not sharpening the sword, do what you like.

Sorry, I somehow missed that...

Agreed. Focus on what you do, live in the moment.

@phitruong
Agreed.

Cliff Judge 06-29-2011 08:32 AM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
If you take your Aikido training as a serious, life-or-death endeavor, you inevitably reach a point where you spend a lot of off-the-mat time thinking and worrying about how good you are and whether Aikido could ever work in a "real" situation.

It is in these moments that you have the opportunity to delve into the philosophy of Aikido. When you are staring at the ceiling unable to sleep, driving through rush hour traffic, or on a train having your head rocked back and forth.

That's part of shugyo. Budo training is supposed to change you, but the process of change takes place largely without conscious involvement of your brain. So intellectualizing the philosophical and spiritual side of Aikido is a generally useless endeavor without a storehouse of training experience "soaked in" to your self through hours of getting on the mat and giving it your all.

You can go to seminars and listen to shihan talk about what Aikido means and what it is and how it extends to your normal life, but the words won't mean much if you can't make an intuitive connection with them. The intuitive knowledge can only be formed through severe training.

philipsmith 06-29-2011 08:48 AM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
Quote:

Mario Tobias wrote: (Post 286097)
case in point re aggressiveness/violence.

chiba or isoyama senseis videos. being high ranking aikidoka, the techniques they employ look aggressive and violent to me.

Appearances can be deceptive.

I remember Chiba Sensei once saying (to paraphrase) true compassion is having the ability to destroy but not destroying [your opponent] which sums up both practical and philospohical elements for me

sakumeikan 06-29-2011 12:44 PM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
Quote:

Philip Smith wrote: (Post 286736)
Appearances can be deceptive.

I remember Chiba Sensei once saying (to paraphrase) true compassion is having the ability to destroy but not destroying [your opponent] which sums up both practical and philospohical elements for me

Dear Philip,
Agreed. Cheers, Joe.

Cliff Judge 06-29-2011 01:44 PM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
Quote:

Philip Smith wrote: (Post 286736)
Appearances can be deceptive.

I remember Chiba Sensei once saying (to paraphrase) true compassion is having the ability to destroy but not destroying [your opponent] which sums up both practical and philospohical elements for me

For what its worth, this is pretty compassionate, but far short of "truly" compassionate. Lat met throw two principles at you:

1) Since action begins as thought, aggressive thoughts (to harm or hurt another) are, in some sense, as bad as the actions themselves.

2) The boundaries between one person and another are illusory.

if we are all one and the same, then allowing someone to harm you is as bad as harming another person. I.e. turning the other cheek is right out, you might as well mug somebody yourself.

Furthermore, allowing someone to THINK of harming you is as bad as harming them yourself. Bad karma that you will have to pay back at some point.

So true compassion would involve being a person for whom it is impossible to be "an opponent" in the first place.

Like when a swordfight ends before anyone makes a cut, because one guy realizes the other guy just has no openings. The state I am talking about is one where the thought of drawing a sword never even occurs...he's not even a would-be attacker.

I think that's true compassion. If I ever get anywhere near that state I'll let you guys know all about it.

Nicholas Eschenbruch 06-29-2011 02:16 PM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
Quote:

Cliff Judge wrote: (Post 286759)
So true compassion would involve being a person for whom it is impossible to be "an opponent" in the first place.

Thanks, I like that a lot.

For myself I would maybe add something along the lines of "... while maintaining one's own intergrity as much as possible." Somewhere in that direction is the goal of (my) practice. And at heart it is not validated or invalidated by winning or losing real or hypothetical violent encounters, as interesting and relevant as that may be.

mathewjgano 06-29-2011 03:58 PM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
Quote:

Cliff Judge wrote: (Post 286759)
For what its worth, this is pretty compassionate, but far short of "truly" compassionate. Lat met throw two principles at you:

1) Since action begins as thought, aggressive thoughts (to harm or hurt another) are, in some sense, as bad as the actions themselves.

2) The boundaries between one person and another are illusory.

if we are all one and the same, then allowing someone to harm you is as bad as harming another person. I.e. turning the other cheek is right out, you might as well mug somebody yourself.

Furthermore, allowing someone to THINK of harming you is as bad as harming them yourself. Bad karma that you will have to pay back at some point.

So true compassion would involve being a person for whom it is impossible to be "an opponent" in the first place.

Like when a swordfight ends before anyone makes a cut, because one guy realizes the other guy just has no openings. The state I am talking about is one where the thought of drawing a sword never even occurs...he's not even a would-be attacker.

I think that's true compassion. If I ever get anywhere near that state I'll let you guys know all about it.

Duuuude! I so totally dig it! To my mind, that's some practical philosophy!
Thank you for that.

JW 06-29-2011 10:12 PM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
Quote:

Cliff Judge wrote: (Post 286759)
if we are all one and the same, then allowing someone to harm you is as bad as harming another person. I.e. turning the other cheek is right out, you might as well mug somebody yourself.

Reminds me of the story of Tohei and the leather jacket. O-sensei chastised Tohei for having/flaunting something that inspired so much desire -- meaning his attitude and actions pushed the guy to be a thief! Bringing that jacket to Japan where it was rare contributed to the occurance of the transgression, so thanks to Tohei, the world has one more action of theft to stain its history.

For my answer to the OP question-- as I understand aikido, there is no aspect of philosophy that is not a direct metaphor for what you do on the mat. You should be living the philosophy with every movement.
In other words there is not techniques + philosophy, there is only the Way, which tells you 1) what to do on the mat, and 2) how to look at things off the mat.
If you look at the idea of this kind of progression:
unify your body--> unify yourself with what is around you (heaven and earth)--->unify yourself and your partner--->become the universe
it sounds philosophical but it is also a big project physically, which you just keep on working at.

lbb 06-30-2011 08:01 AM

Re: philosophical or practical martial art?
 
Quote:

Tim Ruijs wrote: (Post 286089)
To properly train, it is important to understand what and why you practise.
Your mindset (and focus) is very important.
When you only practise for good fun, then that's what you will get: fun.

Bit of an aside here, but that really isn't true. I can't count the number of times I went into an experience and got something completely different out of it than what I went looking for. Martial arts training is only one of these.


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