Open Letter on Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu
On the AikidoJournal website:
I was at the Expo and di several session with Kondo Sensei. Truly excellent. I look forward to more time in Daito-ryu training when I can. I also agree that at time we forget the "martial" and mostly train in the "art". Thoughts to ponder.
Re: Open Letter on Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu
I have practiced the soft forms of aikido (got a shodan in Seidokan) and also trained with students of Don Angier and Shoji Nishio. As a woman with some experience of violence in my past, I have never been able to train without some level of earnest sincerity. I have gotten in trouble for this, however, I have never harmed anyone in practice.
First, how do we define "martial"? lining up and shouting? no.
Do we define it in how much pain techniques cause? no.
Do we define it in rank and organization? no.
So first let us find out what "martial" is... perhaps something taught to soldiers and fighters? well, that would be jujutsu and the related arts. Include marksmanship, riding, etc.
How to vanquish your opponent.
No doubt, Ueshiba was all about that. No one could touch him.
I don't think enough people have asked themselves WHY that was, or how he got there.
I think people have taken certain points of myth and turned them into history, when more careful research and reading is called for.
Another question, at what point did Ueshiba start becoming "one with the Universe"? long after he had progressed to a point where he didn't have to fight any more.
It also had to do with some re-marketing of aikido, formerly aiki-budo, formerly aiki-jujutsu, after the war when martial arts were outlawed for the Japanese.
Consider also that perhaps playing Samurai Pajamas is as martial as some folks can comprehend... be compassionate of other's comprehension, share what you can and try to learn what you can.
I'm simply happy that people try to keep the traditions alive, try to improve themselves. I like aikido (Shoji Nishio and Chuck Clark are big faves of mine) and I like the dark evil koryu stuff.
I'm glad there's something for everybody, and if I don't like it, I don't have to do it. And I'm certainly not in a position to pass judgement.
blathering too much tonight but hoping to lend perspective
I think Emily asked a good question. And I've been wondering this myself. What is "martial"? Also what is "art"? Are the two really different? Are they really the same?
I don't believe I have to learn Daito-Ryu to learn Aikido. They are two different things now. I'm sure there are people who forget about the "art" as much as there are people who forget about the "martial." Whatever those two words mean.
I really don't see this as a dilemma. People will take from the martial art they train in what they need from it. Some people don't need the martial, others do. Who's to dictate what aikido is to mean to us? I respect the "artist" as much as the "martialist".
One very small, probably insignificant thing bugged me about the article: The author always capitalized Daito Ryu Aikijujitsu, with capital D, capital R, and capital A. The only time he capitilized "Aikido" was at the begining of a sentance. A subtle indicator as to the author's opinion of the two arts? (probably not)
As to the actual content of the article, I think it has quite a bit of merit. Looking at the roots of Aikido, martial or spiritual can be nothing but a good thing(tm). Keeping in mind that O Sensei transformed the old into somthing new.
Isn't it lovely when you can just look at things like an editor and smile?
*thanks to Chuck who came up with this, I just typed it*
Hormone Shots Anyone? (i'll have the testosterone)
To begin, after reading Ted Howell's (bombastic) letter, I came to a couple of conclusions:
A.) He really likes what he does, replete with the hero worship and the "my dad used to beat up your dad" scenarios.
B.) He really disapproves of fluffy anything, soggy corn flakes, chick flicks, etc.
That said, I just have to say: each to his own. I am glad he feels so strongly, at least I know where he stands. I agree with what he has to say, just don't know why he said it. Nuff said.
I thought that what Emily and Anne gleaned from it was interesting.
Martial means something about Mars (the Greek god of war, not the planet). He was red, blood-thirsty, angry a lot. Deep in my heart, when I say I do "martial arts", I cringe. This is because I don't associate budo with Mars.
There were a lot of Greek gods who were worshipped by warriors, including Heracles (Hercules), Apollo, Artemis (Diana), and notably, Athena (Minerva). And aside from all the corny mythology lessons we read in school, I think this has some sort of bearing on how we perceive fighting, killing and war. The United States is in the midst of a national debate concerning Mars energy vs. Athena energy, if you get my point.
I personally like Athena, she is the best of the Greek pantheon to embody "bunbu ichi", the union of wisdom and action. Mars is the "Lord of the Flies" in some respects, delighting in the twilight between life and death, involved in the process from one side to the other (it is a one way street last time I checked). He is more reptilian and cold-blooded than humane. He embodies a beserker rage, while the Japanese ideal is one of appropriateness and "shibumi", refinement or restraint.
So when I hear that we need to improve the martial quality of our practice, I wonder how much blood must be spilled. To kill and to kill well is martial. I find this an interesting sentiment coming from a law officer who lives and works in a "peaceful" country.
Re: Hormone Shots Anyone? (i'll have the testoster
I attended all of Kondo Sensei's classes at the Aiki Expo. I thoroughly enjoyed the classes and found him to be a sincere and enthusiastic teacher. I told Stanely Pranin as much at the banquet. I even bought the excellent DVD that was available that he had produced in Japan to add to my video library.
Many of the techniques teach you how to control and effectively damage the attacker. You can see why some things might be changed. However, did I discover in Daito Ryu something martially superior to how I have been practicing Aikido ? At least for me the answer was no.
What I found was an art with somewhat different goals than Aikido. There are reasons I practice Aikido that would not be met for me by Daito Ryu.
So to each his own.
Ki Society but I do cross-train.
Maybe it is just the awakening of Mr Howells mind when being introduced to Mr Pain that awakened him to the more obvious prods of movement than the subtle gentleness of Aikido?
There is hidden meaning to many of the basic movements you do in Aikido, but most of the practitioners are so enamored with the results they attain they do not look any farther than what they are taught.
Let me tell this, it's in there!
For many, many years kata's were not used correctly in either training or in application, but the secrets of martial arts were in there.
Should we crank our ukes into submission for each step of a technique, or should we leave a little room for less pain or use stretches to replace throws? Babyish, or safety in learning martial arts, you decide.
I do agree, that we all should experience other martial arts, even if we choose Aikido as our greatest love, and train primarily in Aikido. However, the touting of any particular art should be our own personal choice of practice, in that we must seek to attain a gratification of our own wants and needs.
If that is not to be a warrior, but have a practice that is fun and educational, then so be it.
Every generation has to adapt to bring other types of defensive/offensive capabilities in their training , and although some arts may have more than others, as of today, I know of no one art that encompasses all the training you will ever need to be soldier, statesmans, politician, or peaceful civilian. We take what we need and leave the rest to training.
Hopefully our training will also allow us to be more inspirational, and kind towards all of our fellow human beings, be they training in martial arts, or not.
hard asses can be short-sighted
I noticed that Ted used the word "severe" repeatedly in his essay.
I once met a teacher in Hawaii who underwent "severe" aikido training under a certain Japanese shihan who now teaches on the US west coast, and that teacher can hardly bend his arms at the elbows because the athritus is so bad. He directly attributes the problem to "severe" training in the early days of aikido.
I've met several other shihans from Japan, and they all attribute cronic elbow pain to "severe" aikido training when they were young, many to that same west coast teacher.
Wiser teachers realized that such training was not worth the price. If you want to enjoy your old age, look before you leap.
There are proper ways to train in modern aikido that keep the training safe, yet intensive, and still continue to make it a highly effective martial art.
It's good to train seriously, and intensively. "Severe" is not in my training manual. I save "severe" for life and death situations.
Great post, Mike. Thanks.
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