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-   -   Can Aikido only be spiritual? (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=81)

Nick 06-30-2000 02:54 PM

I've been pondering this- is there a way that Aikido could be only a spiritual art, and less of a martial art, without changing its principles or practices too much?

I personally don't think so, but I'd like to hear your opinions.

-Nick

Mike Collins 06-30-2000 05:23 PM

I don't know, but if it can, I'm not interested.

Chuck Clark 06-30-2000 08:16 PM

NO!

They are the same thing.

Aiki1 07-01-2000 12:53 AM

To me, a lot depends on what one experiences inside. I know some Aikido practitioners (and instructors) who's approach is rather destructive in attitude, and their experience, and what they get from the art, as related by them, to me is limited. I know others who approach the art from a very different internal posture, and from what I know of them, these people get something very deep, transformative, and even transcendant out of Aikido. One might assume, if one saw it this way, that because of the nature of Aikido itself a practitioner could/would/should have a sense of spirituality from their practice, but it doesn't always seem to be the case.

Chuck Clark 07-01-2000 07:30 AM

My point is that each of us has to define spirituality.

Your person who has a "destructive" aspect to their practice may be experiencing the "destructive spirit" and may learn quite a lot at some point.

One person's spirituality may be another person's myth, dogma, or religion.

Aiki1 07-01-2000 08:57 AM

Quote:

Chuck Clark wrote:
My point is that each of us has to define spirituality.

Your person who has a "destructive" aspect to their practice may be experiencing the "destructive spirit" and may learn quite a lot at some point.

One person's spirituality may be another person's myth, dogma, or religion.

Without doubt. One example that comes to mind - Rickson Gracie (Brazilian jiu-jitsu) is an amazing fighter, who in his last bout in Japan beat the crap out of his opponant and choked him unconscious. At the same time, I have talked with him and he is one of the most spiritual people I know, and his experience while fighting, as he describes it, often would be described as same. On the surface this looks contradictory, but within the person, it is not. At the same time, the outward expression of his spirituality may change as he gets older - it seems to have done so in O Sensei's case, in a way.

Nick 07-02-2000 07:44 AM

Chuck Clark Wrote:

My point is that each of us has to define spirituality.

Your person who has a "destructive" aspect to their practice may be experiencing the "destructive spirit" and may learn quite a lot at some point.
-----------------------------------

Yes, but Aikido, taught in a destuctive spirit, would not be Aikido, neh?

-Nick

Chuck Clark 07-02-2000 08:33 AM

I think you've missed the point, Nick. Aikido is just energy. Intent must come from the person. Everything combines both negative and positive energy and the usage depends on the intent. If you want to change labels so you don't have to face the unpleasant, that's your choice.

If someone is dragging a young woman (just a hypothetical) into an alley where a van full of friends are waiting, and the woman feels life threatening intent from this group, she may decide to be "destructive." Aikido principles work in this situation well. If you don't want to call what happens aikido, each to his own.

Respectfully,

Nick 07-02-2000 09:48 AM

you're right, I did miss the point. I thought you meant Aikido taught to be used destructively, which in my opinion is not Aikido.

What you described would be more zanshin... not thinking, only fighting to the best of your abilities...

-Nick

Chuck Clark 07-02-2000 12:58 PM

Nick,

Zanshin means "remaining heart/spirit" and it refers to being alert or aware of what's going on around you.

Part of zanshin can be (if you train properly for a long time) mushin, which is often translated as "no mind." It doesn't mean 'no thinking', it means to make decisions with the intuitive, subconscious part of your brain that is not involved in fear or the worry if your decision is right or wrong. This is a simplification and there's lots more to it. Fudoshin or "immovable spirit" should also be included in these aspects of budo mind. This doesn't mean a "frozen" mind but one which functions without your attention getting "hooked" on things in your perception.


AikiTom 07-02-2000 09:58 PM

I agree with Chuck on mushin versus zanshin in this case.
However, the main point. I think they (the spiritual and martial) are the same too, and the real problem is caused by whoever insisted on first translating "budo" as "martial" art, in the sense of military or fighting.
I sure most have read ( but I write it here for those who haven't read) that "bu" is not "martial" in an offensive sense, but is really a defensive idea which literally (and pictorially in the original ideogram) means "to stop the spear." In that sense the English word "martial" is really wrong and limited. "Bu" in the correct sense is a protective action, aimed at protecting life rather than taking it.

akiy 07-02-2000 11:46 PM

As far as the character "bu" stemming from "stopping the spear" bit, I've heard this from people but I don't know how far it really gets you. I think it would be the same kind of logic to say that because the word "martial" came from "martialis" meaning "of or belonging to Mars" that we're all worshippers of thar Roman god.

Even if were to believe in that, what would be the first thing you would do to the person after they attacked you with a spear? Kill him.

"Bu" in my mind is the thin line between life and death. And aikido is a budo. Without the so-called "martial," it would cease to be such.

-- Jun

Nick 07-03-2000 08:56 AM

I couldn't agree more, Jun. Budo is the thin line between life and death, and it takes a lifetime of study to learn to even stand on it. Only the best of all warriors learn to balance themselves on it, and the greatest warriors, the legends, are the ones who learned to walk on it.

-Nick

Chuck Clark 07-03-2000 09:05 AM

Interesting topic...

I agree with the last few posts. What about this:

I think a good general translation for budo is "the way of stopping aggression."

Now, if it is during times of peace it doesn't show a "militaristic" side as much as disciplined practice which can be used as character development and individual spiritual pursuit. However, during times of large scale warfare, budo then fulfills the need for military use.

Offensive and defensive are just descriptions of the moral aspect of our intent. As M. Ueshiba (and many other teachers) have said, "Attack and defense are the same thing." That was drilled into me when I was on active duty in the Marine Corps. "The best defense is a good offense."

It's all the same thing and just energy. It is paradoxical, of course. It is our intent,needs, and decisions that give the principles the form they take at any given time. Softness and hardness are there at all times, it takes as much wisdom as we can develop to make the right choices. It is our responsibility.

Thanks,

[Edited by Chuck Clark on July 3, 2000 at 09:14am]

Nick 07-03-2000 09:07 AM

but then, what would the meaning of bujutsu be? "The art of smiting your opponent"?

-Nick

Chuck Clark 07-03-2000 09:22 AM

Nick,

In many cases and with many teachers in Japan, there is no real difference between the two terms. It's a case by case thing depending on the ryu or person.

"A rose by any other name..." No matter what you call it, it depends on the intent of the person or headmaster of the ryu.

Donn Draeger's writings were the first to really make such a clear distinction between "jutsu and do" and many authorities remind us that it was just his opinion. I think he had reasons for doing it that would take too much room for this forum. Do some research yourself and see what you think.

akiy 07-03-2000 09:56 AM

Quote:

Chuck Clark wrote:
"A rose by any other name..."
... still has thorns.

-- Jun

Nick 07-03-2000 10:55 AM

Whoa... this is totally OT, but when I read Jun's post I was listening to a song called "Every rose has its thorn."

That's just kinda weird...

-Nick

Erik 07-03-2000 09:40 PM

Quote:

Nick wrote:
I've been pondering this- is there a way that Aikido could be only a spiritual art, and less of a martial art, without changing its principles or practices too much?

I personally don't think so, but I'd like to hear your opinions.

-Nick

Emphatically yes, assuming I read the intent of your question correctly. There's absolutely no reason the concepts can't apply to dance or any other sport. Certainly, there's nothing magical about doing ikkyo or whatever. Many other martial styles do them.

One former instructor I know (a permanent shodan and I admire him for it) gave up Aikido for dance after 20+ years in the art. Dance scared him more. I see absolutely nothing that we do that couldn't be applied to dance while maintaining the spiritual component.

Personally, I think the martial part gets in the way of things. There becomes a real tendency to do things right; to throw the person; to make sure your the one standing when it's over. None of which is invalid given the choices but it does get in the way of some things.

If you can do jiu waza with a person open to discovery you can find a dance without the martial component and if things work right you might have a jiu waza that goes on for several minutes without anyone being thrown. It's a really fascinating experience and much more spiritual in my opinion than a good whatever that lands your partner on the ground.


Chuck Clark 07-03-2000 09:59 PM

Some time ago, Noro sensei, a famous aikikai shihan who has been teaching in France for many years broke from aikikai, formed his own system and called it "Ki no Michi" or the Way of Ki.

He took the budo aspects out and left what I think of as "aiki yoga" or something similar. It's very beautiful, great exercise, wonderfully meditative, fun, etc.

However, make no mistake, it isn't aikido and isn't budo. Nothing wrong with that as long as you understand the nature of what you're doing.

Erik 07-03-2000 11:00 PM

Quote:

Chuck Clark wrote:
However, make no mistake, it isn't aikido and isn't budo. Nothing wrong with that as long as you understand the nature of what you're doing.
With the disclaimer of not having seen what Noro does I'd almost certainly agree with the comment that it's not budo based on your description. But that it's not Aikido well I just don't know anymore. The more I see of this stuff the less sure I get as to what it is.

AikiTom 07-04-2000 12:04 AM

The more you see, the better you should understand.
As many have said, some in this forum, in Aikido there is really only one technique - the more you see, watch, and bounce it around in your head, the more likely you are to understand the statement. And, then in the future sometime, you will actually view it as when in a jiyu waza series, you do a technique that feels exactly as an aikido technique should, and you suddenly realize, it's nothing you have a name for, or have done before. It was that one technique, one time, in one moment.

Keith 07-04-2000 08:24 AM

Quote:

Erik wrote:

Personally, I think the martial part gets in the way of things. There becomes a real tendency to do things right; to throw the person; to make sure you're the one standing when it's over. None of which is invalid given the choices but it does get in the way of some things.

Yes, it does, but I think that's why it's important to keep it there. It brings up something in you and shows that it needs to be worked on. Leave it out and you leave out a tool for overcoming yourself. I'm reminded of an interview in the book Women in Aikido (a crappy book that probably should have been called Women Who Practiced for a Year or Two Out in California, Most of Whom Don't Even Practice Anymore. Women in the Martial Arts was a much better book). One of the interviewees who was actually still practicing and even (shudder) teaching said she didn't teach anything working with a strike because she "didn't want to increase the negativity in the world." So instead she eliminated a tool for responding in a compassionate, transformative manner to the negativity in the world.

Personally, I believe Aikido cannot be only spiritual, nor can much of anything else, because the seperation of mind, body, and spirit is an illusion.

Keith


[Edited by Keith on July 4, 2000 at 08:36am]

AikiTom 07-04-2000 08:52 AM

Keith, good explanations, and ditto on both books, the first title could be added to "...and the very weird things that many of them have going on in their heads, and the resulting antagonisms to what they see as the cause." This is not to put do individual philosophies (for those who haven't read the book); we're talkin' some real "issues" there that these people have.
The "faults" Erik mentions are mistakenly being identified as faults of Aikido, when really they are faults of the person doing those things in aikido. I've done real strong martial things with a person that I have also done some extended jiyu-waza things as well, so they're not mutually exclusive. Interestingly, this person moved out of our area to become a doctor, and recently visited our dojo. He had become really wooden, and almost injured me in forcing techniques that he wanted to work by using muscle. We had a short discussion where I contended that in higher practice nage doesn't pick the technique used on uke, rather uke does, because the attack of the moment really gives you the technique to do if you watch and sense the direction the energy is going. He said he thought you could determine the technique. I don't like that, because I think you then have to physically, artificially move uke into position to do "your" technique. But, I could be wrong. :)

Chuck Clark 07-04-2000 10:12 AM

Bravo, Guys!

I agree with you. Good posts.

Happy 4th of July!!



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