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senshincenter 03-05-2005 04:46 PM

Without this, No Aikido
 
What is mandatory for Aikido? What is it that we simply cannot do without? What thing or aspect, if it is absent, forces us to be unable to say, "We do Aikido?"

We can debate about technique, but if we our technique is void of "aiki" (i.e. harmonizing yin and yang, blending, non-resistance, utilizing opposing energies for own purposes, etc.), or if we outright say that we seek not to harmonize yin and yang, not to blend, not to employ non-resistance, not to utilize opposing energies for own purposes, etc., can we still say we are doing Aikido? I would say, "no." What do you all think?

Equally, can we not be concerned about Aikido's spiritual elements? Again, we can debate over what "spirit" might mean, and/or we can debate over the primacy and/or the percentage of training time that we should commit to spiritual matters vs. martial matters, or we can even debate over the position that there is no "vs." about it, etc. However, can we still say we do Aikido when we neither possess nor opt to seek to possess a cultivated state wherein we see a union of all things, where we understand that the spirit of Man as his/her most valuable aspect, where we experience a brotherhood of Man, where there is some sense of the Divine and/or some Great Center to everything and everyone? Can we still be doing Aikido when we have no relationship between our hope, our faith, ourselves, and some sort of moral experience that we are suppose to share socially? Again, I would say, "no." What do you all think?

If I were to press the issue and ask myself what then is one doing in such cases, I would answer the following: In the first case, one merely attempting to fight and/or defend themselves crudely -- where their chances for victory are greatly dependent upon them being stronger than their opponent and/or lucky. In the second case, I would say one is just practicing the same thing as in the first case. I say this because I feel that Osensei had a reason, a very good one, a very practical one, for equating the tactical application of aiki with the spiritual exploration of aiki. What do you all think? What do you get when you leave out these things, if you want to say that it would not be Aikido?


dmv

Rupert Atkinson 03-05-2005 05:29 PM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
I now see Aikido as The Way of Aiki, over and above The Way of Harmony or whatever else someone wants it to be. So, no aiki, no Aikido, in my opinion. Which begs the question - what is aiki :)

Mike Sigman 03-05-2005 06:15 PM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Quote:

Rupert Atkinson wrote:
So, no aiki, no Aikido, in my opinion. Which begs the question - what is aiki :)

Which brings to mind a question from me.... "what is Aiki, Rupert?" :p

Mike

NagaBaba 03-05-2005 07:42 PM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
I'll leave for our new age buddies all stories about energies, yin and yang, etc.

It is as always very simple: effectives physical techniques done with compassion for attacker.

Yokaze 03-05-2005 07:45 PM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Ahh, an immortal question.

It refers to an even older and more frequently asked question: What is aikido?

I've asked dozens instructors this question and gotten dozens of very different answers. Each answer gave me another facet of this wonderfully complex concept. My favorite answer is from my sensei, Dennis Tatoian, who looked at me and made a kokyu motion with his hand and wrist.

So my conclusion is this: Aikido, like any other concept, is what you want it to be. It is what you believe in. I believe that the concept of striking to gain control is against my concept of Aikido. The founder, however, made excellent use of Atemi and many instructors today claim that it is an integral part of awase technique.

The point is, if you want to make Aikido your religion, I say that is wonderful. If you want to believe that humans have no spirit, and you are in this purely for physical training, then I say have fun and train your body, while you have one to train with! Practice of Aikido has urged me into the path of a devout pacifist. I don't even kill bugs anymore unless I have to. Yet I say that my beliefs make me no more a follower of Aiki-budo than anyone else.

The beliefs and philosophies behind Aikido are as numerous as the people who practice. We know what that founder believed, but since his death his art has grown and evolved.

The meaning of Aikido, like the meaning of life, is subjective. To say one person isn't practicing Aikido because they don't believe in certain aspects of the philosophy would be an act of religious discrimination.

So, to each his or her own!

Just my thoughts. ^_^ Thanks for asking this question, it has helped me to think more clearly on my own beliefs. That, is the point, after all, right?

senshincenter 03-05-2005 07:50 PM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Rupert,

Or, if we can't or don't want to say what "aiki" is, perhaps, for this thread, it would be better to say what an example of not having "aiki" may be - please/thanks (just to keep the thread going). As for me, I think you can pull out what I would say "aiki" is and why it has to be part of Aikido. Plus, I too agree with your understanding - "The Way of Aiki" over "The Way of Harmony."


Quote:

Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
I'll leave for our new age buddies all stories about energies, yin and yang, etc.

It is as always very simple: effectives physical techniques done with compassion for attacker.

Wow - for my money this may be a lot more "esoteric" and/or harder to pin down than any other kind of religious/mystical term. To have compassion in the midst of violence - and though I would agree - wow - talk about a hard thing to pin down, let alone cultivate. It still opens the door for non-blending tactics though - wouldn't you say? Can non-blending tactics that are effective and done with compassion be Aikido? Are some of Karate's more identifying tactics then Aikido, as long as they are effective and the practitioner has compassion in their heart while doing them? Can Karate be Aikido?

Thanks in advance for replying,
d

senshincenter 03-05-2005 08:12 PM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Perhaps it may amount to the same question, but it is not unusual that we may gain more insight by posing things in the negative. A lot of traditions do this very thing when they want to speak of something that is both particular and universal - which is something I would say about Aikido. So would you say that when a person is not open to all interpretations of Aikido, then you would not have Aikido? Or is that just still more of the same for you - the wrong thing to ask or say? If so, why? (assuming I can ask).

Quote:

Rob Cunningham wrote:

So my conclusion is this: Aikido, like any other concept, is what you want it to be. It is what you believe in.

In your quote - see above - is this not too much of an open door? Basically, your position posits that anything can be Aikido. Such that, using the examples thus far, I could do without "aiki" and make use of ineffective technique while I am harboring destructive views in my heart/mind - is that Aikido (simply because I want it to be)?

I agree with your position that there are numerous expressions in Aikido - but it seems a jump in logic to go from there to saying that anything can be Aikido or that the definition of Aikido is at best always limited to the subjective. After all, a position that says that there is still some objectivity to what Aikido is and/or is not still allows for multiple views - only those views are broken down into degrees of correct and incorrect - not ALL CORRECT or ACCURATE. Why should we jump from the multiplicity of Aikido's expression to saying that we are dealing with an entirely subjective matter?

Out of curiosity, out of any of the instructors you asked, did any others say, "It's whatever you want it to be?"

I'm wondering, and this is for everyone, should we not be able to define the art we practice as part of our maturity in that art? Should we not be able to tell it apart from other things that we sense it is not or can never be? I would say "yes," and I'm not so sure that leaving things at a purely subjective level can allow for this to happen.

Thanks in advance for the reply,
d

Mike Sigman 03-05-2005 08:41 PM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Quote:

Rob Cunningham about what is Aikido wrote:
I've asked dozens instructors this question and gotten dozens of very different answers. Each answer gave me another facet of this wonderfully complex concept. My favorite answer is from my sensei, Dennis Tatoian, who looked at me and made a kokyu motion with his hand and wrist.

Out of curiosity, why is that your favorite and how is it an answer, other than as an existential non-sequitur reminiscent of Zen "enlightenment" anecdotes? :)
Quote:

So my conclusion is this: Aikido, like any other concept, is what you want it to be. It is what you believe in. I believe that the concept of striking to gain control is against my concept of Aikido. The founder, however, made excellent use of Atemi and many instructors today claim that it is an integral part of awase technique.
This is really an interesting thought. Morihei Ueshiba founded a martial style cum philosophy and called it Aikido. It contained certain elements. You practice something different. Why do you use the name of his style instead of making up another name?

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman 03-05-2005 08:59 PM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
What is mandatory for Aikido? What is it that we simply cannot do without? What thing or aspect, if it is absent, forces us to be unable to say, "We do Aikido?"

We can debate about technique, but if we our technique is void of "aiki" (i.e. harmonizing yin and yang, blending, non-resistance, utilizing opposing energies for own purposes, etc.), or if we outright say that we seek not to harmonize yin and yang, not to blend, not to employ non-resistance, not to utilize opposing energies for own purposes, etc., can we still say we are doing Aikido? I would say, "no." What do you all think?

I have a question about "non-resistance". Do you not believe in opposing a force as part of Aikido? Here's Gozo Shioda's comments about this area of "harmony":

Whether it is blending with your partner when he comes to grab you or strike you or, alternatively, striking him, whatever you do, timing is what gives it life. If your timing is late, you will be crowded out by uke; if you are too early, uke will see your movement and change his attack. You should apply your technique exactly at the moment that he commits himself to the attack -- this is proper timing.

Utilizing that split second is what is called "harmonizing". It would be correct to say that in aikido all techniques begin from this idea of "harmonizing".


So my question is whether you agree that resisting a force can also be "harmonizing" and "blending"?

Regards,

Mike Sigman

senshincenter 03-05-2005 10:01 PM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Hi Mike,

Thanks for the question. It is very interesting.

Let's see... I would say that the way I understand "harmony" has to do with establishing the proper relationship between yin and yang. In that sense, I would say that, yes, resistance has to be understood as part of harmony. Here are my two reasons why: 1. Yin and Yang must cover the entire spectrum of reality - resistance is part of reality - hence, if harmony is the proper corresponding of yin and yang, then at some level and to some degree, harmony may or will entail resistance; and 2. Each aspect of Yin and Yang always has some aspect of the other - therefore, even when I am NOT "resisting," even when I am "yielding," I am to some degree in possession of resistance.

Real examples of these two points could be the following:

1. Many Aikido waza make use of a fulcrum. Many simply believe the fulcrum to be an innate reality. However, the fulcrum in most cases is dependent upon the lever for it to act like a fulcrum. The lever itself is equally dependent upon the fulcrum, as it is equally dependent upon its own rigidity and/or its "resistance" to losing its shape as a lever. By this reasoning, whereas a lot of folks think that Aikido waza do not work and/or are difficult to get to work when an uke or an attacker is being resistant, since their body and/or a part of their body is often the lever in an Aikido waza, I would put forth that Aikido waza actually need resistance in the attacker in order to function as designed -- especially in the cases where a fulcrum is used. If you can imagine a see-saw. It has a fulcrum and a lever. The resistance of the lever allows the fulcrum to function -- which together allows the seesaw to see-saw. If by a miracle the lever of the seesaw would turn into a liquid, losing its resistance, the fulcrum would lose its capacity to function, and thus its nature, and nothing would see-saw. What we see when an Aikido waza is thwarted by resistance is not the antithesis of harmony but rather a failure on the part of the practitioner to place the fulcrum of the waza in relation to the resistance of the correct lever, which thus allows it (the fulcrum) to serve its purpose. For the fulcrum and lever to function in harmony with each other, resistance is not only wanted, it is mandatory.

2. Yin tactics must remain tactics -- that is to say, in most cases, Yin movements must possess a degree of structural integrity in their architecture. Resistance brings about this integrity. For example, when I am stepping back with Ushiro Tenkan, if I do not in some way resist the inertia that is traveling in reverse, and should my opponent continue his/her attack that pressed me to find harmony in going backwards, my step backwards (even if it is off the Line of Attack) will only work to further increase the momentum of my opponent's aggressive action, and thus I have only delayed the inevitable: being tactically overwhelmed. In other words, I cannot just go backwards, I cannot just go limp, and I cannot just retreat. I cannot yield 100%. I must have structural integrity to my movement and my architecture, such that even when I go backwards, I am still forward in my orientation. Resistance is what allows this to happen -- even though I am in a Yin tactic.

Yes, resistance is a part of Harmony.

Thanks,
david

Charlie 03-05-2005 10:45 PM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
If ya'll don't mind...in response to this thread I am posting a response that I made in a Yoshinkan group regarding Aikido and fighting. I think it is some what related to this topic

Charlie



From: charles burmeister <chuchucharlie@...>
Date: Tue Mar 1, 2005 6:10 pm
Subject: Re: Aikido in a fight


Sorry, this post is long!

I find this topic amusing in many respects. It seems that the majority of people responding to this topic have not been in an altercation since studying Aikido and or have never been in a altercation in their whole lives! I know that all the posters do not fall in this category, but there seems to be a lack of actual brawling experience...that is a good thing.

I have been in two "fights" since starting Aikido (Since I have discussed these situations previously with my sensei I don't think that they will cause him any embarrassment).

The first was when I was a lowly white belt and just started studying in Yokosuka, Japan. For those that don't know, Yokosuka houses a U.S. and Japanese Naval base. I am a former Marine from Chicago and at the time I was a civilian working for the Dept. of Defense. Most sailors had a certain amount of disdain for me for several reasons but mostly because I could come and go as I please, grow my hair any length, could halfway speak the language and..I was a former Marine. You could probably add quick wit and sharp tongue to that list as well ; )

Anyway, of course I found myself in a situation out on the "honch" (the bar district directly adjacent to the base). A disagreement between me and a sailor escalated and we decided to take it outside. As soon as I stepped out of that bar and went off to the sacred battle ground to quell this peasant uprising, I stopped applying Aikido. We all say that Aikido is not the techniques themselves but what we learn from the techniques, right? I disregarded any other avenues of approach I may have had and settled on what should have only been "my last resort". That is..to fight.

What started as a fight between me and one person quickly turned into me and 3 angry sailors! Now, I'm only a lowly white belt right? I definitely don't have techniques to fall back on other than street fighting from growing up in Chicago and Marine Corps training. I did have one other thing going for me as well...kihon dosa and atemi. I had a strong enough foundation at the time to be able to keep moving and not have my balance taken from me.....for a while! By
the time they got me off my feet, they where too tired to do any damage. They actually walked away looking the worst. However, I felt defeated...I lost control of the most important thing...me.

Just when you think you have learned a lesson, right...My second altercation! Now I am a Ni dan! Same "Honch", same bar, similar scenario. This time the sailors are from a visiting tender ship (repair ship). In my experience these ships, along with aircraft carriers, are the worst when in port because they have both women and men aboard! Young, male sailors become very territorial.

Me playing pool with a female sailor while her male consorts watch. They get jealous and start to chime in...me and my friend bait them with no real intention to fight, however, the situation escalates and I find myself taking that walk to the "sacred battleground"...again! This time is much different though. I offer the sailor a truce - a way out. He declines and takes a big 'ole
round house swing at me.

Aikido TRAINING helps out!

The punch seems to take an eternity to get to me. When it does, I get off the line of attack and apply a nice, crisp, backhand atemi right on the tip of his nose. He looks bewildered and strikes again. I do exactly the same thing right down to thumping him on the nose just like we practice during shihonage. He bleeds and eyes water and I say to him, "look I really don't want to fight. I just want to drink my beer with my friend and play some pool. Lets go back in."
He agrees and we went back in...to the amazement of everyone we where joking around and bought each other a round of drinks.

Again...I feel defeated. I lost control of me for a split second and allowed for it to go too far. Either way, I still feel that once I stepped out to the "battlefield" I stopped doing Aikido and was only applying physical techniques or movements. These were not situations where I had to fight. I disregarded the principles that Aikido teaches us.

These are the lasts fights I have been in since and I still learn from them today.

Cheers,

ruthmc 03-06-2005 09:12 AM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote:
Here's Gozo Shioda's comments about this area of "harmony":

Whether it is blending with your partner when he comes to grab you or strike you or, alternatively, striking him, whatever you do, timing is what gives it life. If your timing is late, you will be crowded out by uke; if you are too early, uke will see your movement and change his attack. You should apply your technique exactly at the moment that he commits himself to the attack -- this is proper timing.

Utilizing that split second is what is called "harmonizing". It would be correct to say that in aikido all techniques begin from this idea of "harmonizing".


So my question is whether you agree that resisting a force can also be "harmonizing" and "blending"?

What does split second timing have to do with resisting a force?

Just wondering,

Ruth

Chuck.Gordon 03-06-2005 09:38 AM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Quote:

Rob Cunningham wrote:
So my conclusion is this: Aikido, like any other concept, is what you want it to be. It is what you believe in.

In its original usage, I think aiki has probably bee fairly well defined in the literature of budo; though the definition of 'aiki' will very likely vary from ryuha to ryuha. My understanding is that 'aiki' references can be found in some of the older sword and weapon treatises, but mostly, it appears to be a fairly esoteric term that came more from religious and philosphical theory than from combat.

In aikido, the term became very fluid -- although I believe Ueshiba had a very clear vision of HIS 'aiki', he wasn't, unfortunately, a good communicator and left his students a fairly muddy set of ideas that each then built upon, expanded, altered or outright redefined it.

And THEN it came to the West and we deconstructed it, layered our own interpretations atop it, ried to fit it inot our own pet philisophies ... etc etc etc.

I do rather like Sczepan's definition though. Succicnt and clear. Reminds me of Kano's adage.

Quote:

I believe that the concept of striking to gain control is against my concept of Aikido. The founder, however, made excellent use of Atemi and many instructors today claim that it is an integral part of awase technique.
So, why is your concept of aikido so different from Ueshiba's? Or am I reading that wrong?

I'd say that for a concept such as 'aiki' to be valid, it most be applicable across a spectrum of physical/combative behaviors. So, if 'aiki' is a functional theory of human combtive activities, then it must apply to any level or approach to those combatives. YMMV, of course.

Quote:

The point is, if you want to make Aikido your religion, I say that is wonderful.
Really? Why would that be a Good Thing? Or am I, possibly again, misreading you?

I can't help but beleive that anyone who turns their budo into their religion is probably really deeply troubled and needs far more help than is available on the mat.

Quote:

Practice of Aikido has urged me into the path of a devout pacifist.
Good for you. Having been a soldier made me a pacifist. Although your defintion of pacifism and mine may vary a bit, I suspect.

Quote:

I don't even kill bugs anymore unless I have to. Yet I say that my beliefs make me no more a follower of Aiki-budo than anyone else.
So how would you differentiate aikido from aiki-budo? Or do you?


[quote]
We know what that founder believed, but since his death his art has grown and evolved.
[/quote[

I'd have to disagree. This is part of the problem with aikido,. Ueshiba did not leave an accessible set of core beleifs behind. What we see today in aikido are not HIS ideas, but rather those of his students (and theirs) that have been overlaid on a rather muddy foundation, I fear.

Chuck

Mike Sigman 03-06-2005 10:56 AM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Quote:

Ruth McWilliam wrote:
What does split second timing have to do with resisting a force?

As opposed to the idea of "blending" with a force. If someone attacks you forcefully, coming forward, Shioda is pointing out that the "harmonizing" has to do with timing in order to use the person's force (aiki) as part of the technique. You could also, for example, directly oppose the incoming force with a force or atemi of your own... the timing of your response being critical to the technique. But as I said, my main point is that "aiki" means "harmonizing with your opponent's force", not only through "blending" but also with using timing to control an incoming (or outgoing) force. To go along with David's latest point, there is a fulcrum also in the direct opposition of a force... it is the feet. There is also a circle using the middle and the lower back. There is also a straight release of power.

FWIW

Mike

p00kiethebear 03-06-2005 12:48 PM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Quote:

What is mandatory for Aikido? What is it that we simply cannot do without? What thing or aspect, if it is absent, forces us to be unable to say, "We do Aikido?"
"Budo begins and ends with respect"

senshincenter 03-06-2005 01:20 PM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
It seems to me that the ideas of "effective" and "compassion" - or understanding Aikido as such - leaves the door open just as much as "it's whatever you believe it to be." I am really hoping that folks that take on this view might share with us some sort of negative contrast by which we can come to know what this all might mean. As I said, for me, this understanding is way more "foggy" than any so-called spiritual understanding I might have heard, or employed.

For example:

- What is "effective"? Is it just marked by success? Am I effective just because I succeed in my tactic? Or, is "effective" marked by success AND a particular means by which success is achieved? Can I block and stop your strike, effectively stopping you from hitting me, or must I let it continue along its path of action but do so in a way that I am effective in preventing your strike from hitting me? I would say that the first example may very well be effective, especially if I'm stronger than you, but I would say that only the second example would be an example of "aiki" and thus of Aikido. For that reason, I at a loss over how "effectiveness" could mark delineation. Maybe you all that adopt this position could explain how that might happen -- show me what I am missing -- etc. - please/thanks.

- What is compassion within the martial application of technique? Am I being compassionate when I throw you and have you land on your head from at least three feet in the air and about 6 feet from me? Or do we want to say that such throws are not part of Aikido? I wouldn't want to say that? Or am I only compassionate when I choose to throw you (as described above) instead striking you, or instead of shooting you? (This is the real life understanding of the usual "doing as little damage as you can" rhetoric.) Is a boxer who has a firearm being compassionate when he pummels someone into submission rather than shooting them? Would this make him an Aikidoka? Are you all that adopt this view really ready to call any execution of violence that remains at its minimum escalation on the use of force continuum, and that remains effective, Aikido? Are smart bombs Aikido? I would say, "no." Smart bombs may be effective. Smart bombs may do a lot less damage than carpet-bombing, etc., but smart bombs are not Aikido and the pilot that dropped them is not an Aikidoka -- for me. Thus, for me, it seems that some other defining characteristic is necessary.

- The dictionary defines "compassion" as, "Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it." And the root words give the meaning of "sharing in the suffering of another." I'm not sure how "doing minimum damage" (which may not be what you all mean but is what a lot of folks understand about the aims of Aikido waza) makes sense in light of what compassion actually means and/or in light of what the root words may suggest -- unless you want to talk about the "compassionate" of putting someone out of their misery (but I still think that would be a stretch here because I would certainly like to draw a line between such "mercy" killings and Aikido). If we go on to consider what various spiritual and moral teachers have said about compassion, how and why we employ it, and how we cultivate it, even then I don't think we will meet its tenets by simply choosing option A over option B when it comes to defending ourselves via the martial engaging of another.

For me, and this is only my opinion, this idea of trying to keep things simple -- as with this definition -- only works to make things more muddy. It only appears to be simple because it hides more than it shows. It is not really simple, in my opinion. It is very complicated for a definition, and, in the end, it may actually prove itself to be totally useless since it cannot lend itself to any kind of orientation and/or delineation (which is not always a bad thing mind you) because it is just too open -- it lets in the things we know are intuitively from outside of Aikido.

In short, I got to ask it again: "Is a compassionate boxer an Aikidoka? If so, why?

Again, thanks in advance for the replies.
d

batemanb 03-07-2005 02:13 AM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
What is mandatory for Aikido? What is it that we simply cannot do without? What thing or aspect, if it is absent, forces us to be unable to say, "We do Aikido?"

A good question. For myself, I still haven't figured out what Aikido actually is. I've been to seminars with famous masters, I've lived and trained in Japan, I've read a lot of books about it, I've read a lot of posts on here and other forums, I've read blogs and hundreds of other web pages, I teach it in my own class, but I still can't claim to understand it.

The one thing that is most missing to me, is the spiritual aspect. I don't mean the "new age" stuff that sczecpan refers too, I mean the spiritual aspect that Kaiso spent hours and hours studying. He formulated this art by mixing aikijitsu with Omotokyo teachings, if we are not working on the spiritual side ourselves, then as others have said above, shouldn't we call what we do something else, because it surely can't be the same?

I've just finished reading a book by Kanshu Sunadomari - Enlightenment through Aikido. It's only a small paperback, but has taken me over 4 months to read, and I still haven't absorbed half of it. In it he does say though that if we only practice form, we will eventually hit a point that we will never progress past. I think that I agree with this, if we are not prepared to explore the spiritual side of the art, it minimizes the perspective with which we view Aikido, and indeed may mean that we are not in fact practicing Aikido.

The difficult thing is finding someone who does understand all this, and who is able to communicate it. There have been a few other books written, which I have read a few times, but reading doesn't help, my understanding is still extremely limited. The glimmer of hope is that if I keep looking into it, one day something may click into place.

rgds

Bryan

Peter Goldsbury 03-07-2005 03:44 AM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Hello Bryan,

Given the title of Kanshu Sunadomari's book, I would be interested to see what he takes for granted about Japanese concepts of enlightenment. For example, have you come across the phrase "sokushin joubutsu"? It has been translated as "enlightenment in this very body", e.g., the one you've got. I think the phrase was first used by Kukai and underpins the culture of 'shugyou' that goes right back to his time. As you know, shugyou and keiko are used in traditional arts that are much older than aikido. So one might wonder whether people like Zeami and Sen no Rikyuu thought the same way about enlightenment through training in their respective arts.

So, when someone comes along and talks about enlightenment through aikido, people like myself want to know how much of this tradition he is taking for granted. Which is why in almost every case, whenever a Japanese scholar has produced a work that has been translated, I have tried to locate the Japanese original, so I can see what he actually wrote. And Omoto-kyou―the Sunadomaris were believers―is even more eclectic and also uses Christian sources. I have profited much from discussing aspects of this question with David Valadez in other threads.

Another interesting aspect of this discussion is that of levels. K Chiba has an interesting article on SHU-HA-RI and this can be interpreted in a linear fashion―proceeding from one to the other, or a layered fashion―moving up and down. However, (1) the concepts is used in arts that have been influenced by Buddhism and (2) SHU-HA-RI is only one way among many others of distinguishing levels of proficiency or awareness. I am not aware that M Ueshiba ever used the term.

I find the notion of levels or layers very useful in understanding budo and aikido and I suspect that this is because I have been brought up in the Graeco-Roman/Judaeo-Christian intellectual tradition.

Best regards,

batemanb 03-07-2005 04:31 AM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Hello Peter,

Thanks for your reply. The book is still a little above me I'm afraid, as are the other "spiritual" books that I have read :( . I have no idea how much he is taking for granted, I don't even know that what he says is correct per se <shrugs shoulders>. It seems that he mostly makes observations on old quotes and teachings from Kaiso based on his (Sunadomari sensei) experience. It was an interesting book though, one that I will no doubt read again, and certainly food for thought.

rgds

Bryan

Peter Goldsbury 03-07-2005 05:57 AM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Quote:

Bryan Bateman wrote:
Hello Peter,

Thanks for your reply. The book is still a little above me I'm afraid, as are the other "spiritual" books that I have read :( . I have no idea how much he is taking for granted, I don't even know that what he says is correct per se <shrugs shoulders>. It seems that he mostly makes observations on old quotes and teachings from Kaiso based on his (Sunadomari sensei) experience. It was an interesting book though, one that I will no doubt read again, and certainly food for thought.

rgds

Bryan

Hello Bryan,

I have the book, but not the Japanese work of which it is a translation. I do not think you need to worry about whether he is correct(!); I am sure he is.

For me, the question is how much he takes for granted that we probably wouldn't, and one could pose the same question of M Ueshiba's douka and other lectures. It is a serious question for me because I have studied Japanese for many years now and have learned how to read older Japanese texts. Perhaps this is because I studied Classics at school and university and was taught that to understand what Homer, Plato and Aristotle really meant, you had to read Greek.

I think the question of what is taken for granted is important. For example, in anorther thread David Valadez mentioned that in Omoto-kyou the works of John of the Cross were read and, presumably, studied. When I was an S.J., we studied John of the Cross and his compatriot Teresa of Avila, almost certainly because Ignatius of Loyola was part of the same tradition. However it was study based on practical training, in the sense that our meditations and spiritual exercises were undertaken in the light of what Ignatius and his two compatriots taught.

So what would Onisaburo Deguchi have made of John of the Cross and can we find any influences in, for example, "Reikai Monogatari"? I have no idea: I have not even begun to look. However, when I was a novice, the general question of the compatibility of Christianity and Zen was a matter of serious debate. The crucial question in the debate was: to what extent could one achieve enlightenment by means of self-directed training? The answer given our superiors was: one couldn't. Enlightenment was a gift and the only way one could receive it was to live a life of heroic virture and even then, this could never be a guarantee. Those who embraced Christian Zen were not happy with this kind of answer. I could go on and explain why, but the post would become intolerably long. We might discuss it further when we meet in April.

As I said, all these are serious questions for me because this is how I have come to approach aikido and this is where I am at present.

In terms of David's original question, in my opinion the parallels with Christianity are so striking. If one is a member of an aikido church, the answer will depend on what the church teaches. If the church is Catholic, i.e, Aikikai, this will be what the Pope (Doshu) says it is. In this connection, I remember a discussion I had with the present Doshu. I had asked for the Japanese original of O Sensei's "Budo" manual. Doshu took me up to the 3rd floor of the Hombu, unlocked the case where the book was kept, took it out and gave it to me to look at. There were just the two of us and Doshu talked for a while. What he said, basically, was: 'Read the text; study it; but be aware that aikido has changed since my grandfather produced it. Aikido is a living tradition and I have inherited it from my father, who inherited from the Founder. My son will inherit it from me. It is my job to transmit the essence, as I understand it.' I was somewhat chastened, for Doshu had revealed his heart and I felt for him. However, his answer was classic 'iemoto' thinking, in the sense that the understanding of the art is based not on the relationship between individual student and individual master, but on the organization.

If one is not a member of an aikido church, one's belief as to what aikido actually is can depend on many things: a textual canon, or one's teacher, or oneself―in varying combinations. Thus some aikidoists are very happy to 'just train', regardless. Others look at O Sensei's words in English, via Mr Stevens' translations or Jun's weekly quote, and use these as a training guide. Yet others do not really care about what O Sensei said, since it is too remote, and prefer to believe that aikido is what their sensei says it is.

Anyway, I have gone on for too long. In Hiroshima we train on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and also on occasional Sundays at a different location. Since there will be a large number of you, we should probably train on a Sunday in Hiroshima. Perhaps you shoul discuss this with Carolin. I think you should know her from trainiing in Kobe and I will send you her e-maiol address via PM.

Best regards,

batemanb 03-07-2005 06:23 AM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Hello Peter,

I will better enjoy discussing this in person. I fear I am not as eloquent when writing on these subjects, I miss too much out in my posts.

I remember Carolin very well (in fact saw her in some video footage only last week), although she may not remember me :).

regards

Bryan

George S. Ledyard 03-07-2005 06:31 AM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Quote:

David Valadez wrote:
1. Many Aikido waza make use of a fulcrum. Many simply believe the fulcrum to be an innate reality. However, the fulcrum in most cases is dependent upon the lever for it to act like a fulcrum. The lever itself is equally dependent upon the fulcrum, as it is equally dependent upon its own rigidity and/or its "resistance" to losing its shape as a lever. By this reasoning, whereas a lot of folks think that Aikido waza do not work and/or are difficult to get to work when an uke or an attacker is being resistant, since their body and/or a part of their body is often the lever in an Aikido waza, I would put forth that Aikido waza actually need resistance in the attacker in order to function as designed -- especially in the cases where a fulcrum is used. If you can imagine a see-saw. It has a fulcrum and a lever. The resistance of the lever allows the fulcrum to function -- which together allows the seesaw to see-saw. If by a miracle the lever of the seesaw would turn into a liquid, losing its resistance, the fulcrum would lose its capacity to function, and thus its nature, and nothing would see-saw. What we see when an Aikido waza is thwarted by resistance is not the antithesis of harmony but rather a failure on the part of the practitioner to place the fulcrum of the waza in relation to the resistance of the correct lever, which thus allows it (the fulcrum) to serve its purpose. For the fulcrum and lever to function in harmony with each other, resistance is not only wanted, it is mandatory.

David,
This is VERY interesting. I have been playing around with this myself. I have several students who are doing Sytema as well as Aikido. What I have found is that my technique works just fine inthe sense that when they attack me I can defend myself and control their centers. But I can't use them as ukes when I am teaching Basics because the complete lack of resistance in their ukemi makes it difficult if not impossible to produce a particular technique "at will". In other words, to produce specific Aikido techniques I need Aikido ukemi which is the tension you are talking about.

My current thinking about Aikido technique is that it is all ikkyo. And Ikkyo is simply defined as running a spiral that allows you to rest your body weight on top of your partner when he is out of alignment. If I stay with that idea I have no problem handling the Systema boys but it is difficult to produce many Aikido basic techniques and even then when they happen, they just seem to happen on their own, not due to some intention on my part. If I try to execute a particular technique rather than just keep connection and allow the technique to happen on it own they can escape.

batemanb 03-07-2005 06:36 AM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Hello Peter,

I will better enjoy discussing this in person. I fear I am not as eloquent when writing on these subjects, I miss too much out in my posts.

I remember Carolin very well (in fact saw her in some video footage only last week), although she may not remember me :).

regards

Bryan

George S. Ledyard 03-07-2005 06:40 AM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Quote:

Bryan Bateman wrote:
Hello Peter,

Thanks for your reply. The book is still a little above me I'm afraid, as are the other "spiritual" books that I have read :( . I have no idea how much he is taking for granted, I don't even know that what he says is correct per se <shrugs shoulders>. It seems that he mostly makes observations on old quotes and teachings from Kaiso based on his (Sunadomari sensei) experience. It was an interesting book though, one that I will no doubt read again, and certainly food for thought.

rgds

Bryan

Hi Bryan,
I don't know if there are any Shingu folks over there but if you get a chance to train with Anno Sensei I would recommend it. He is one of Hikitsuchi Sensei's senior deshi and has been visiting the States (at least the West coast where most of the former Shingu folks are like Jack Wada, Linda Holiday, Tom Read, Mary Heiny, and Clint George)

Anyway, the feeling I get from being around him is very much the same type of feel I got from reading Sunadomari Sensei's book. Anno Sensei's basic message (highly distilled here) is that Aikido is really about opening up your Heart. He feels like he engulfs the whole dojo with his spirit when he teaches.

If you get a chance go out of your way to train with him.

batemanb 03-07-2005 07:00 AM

Re: Without this, No Aikido
 
Thanks George, I'll be sure to keep my eyes out.


Ooh, not sure how I got duplicate posts above, either side of George??:confused:


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