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Red Beetle 06-07-2005 08:51 AM

Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
When considering how to improve any Martial System it is necessary to take inventory, and examine if what is being taught is logically consistent and beneficial to the system as a whole.

Take for example the teaching of "Ki."

Lots of Aikido people run around talking about "ki", but the fact of the matter is that the teaching of "ki" is simply a mystical/magical teaching which conjures belief in superstitious nonsense. :p

Students attempt to clear their minds, chant words or syllables, breath a certain way, assume postures, and so forth in the attempt to grasp or develop a magical power that is about as real as George Lucas' "Force." :cool:

Students and Teachers would do better spending their time in the examination of, and actual practice of technical skills, rather than pretending to direct a make believe power from their bowels to their fingers.

Another example of the useless mysticism inherent in Aikido was the recent video that appeared on one of the forum threads. The clip did a nice job demonstrating technical skills that actually make up the system of Aikido. However, from time to time one would see something like: "Aikido is love." flash on to the screen. :crazy:

Aikido is love?
Please.

Why not say, "Baseball is love." , "Golf is love.", "Nascar is love", or whatever else someone decides love is to them.
The word 'love' quickly loses any meaning.
If a word can mean anything, then it simply means nothing.

Aikido is not love. :yuck:
Aikido is a Martial system.
Aikido class may be a place in which you can practice loving your neighbor, but Aikido is not love.

Just because a teacher, or a founder of Aikido was a nice guy, this is no basis for concluding that what he taught was the source of this kindness.

Just because a teacher, or a founder of Aikido claims that what he teaches will bring a moral harmony and love for mankind, this is no basis for concluding that what he taught actually accomplishes his claims.

If a person was not familiar with Aikido, and its mystical teachings, do you really think that such a person would conclude that Aikido was the way of peaceful harmony just by watching a demonstration of Aikido projections or neutralizations? Of course not.
They may be impressed, but no such moral assertion will be made from watching such a demonstration.

The reason it would be impossible to deduce a moral principal from a visual or tangible demonstration is because you cannot start with something you see (Aikido demo), and end up with something you cannot see (moral ideas).

One can practice ethics in Aikido class, but one cannot deduce ethics from Aikido.

If ethics are taught at Aikido class, then they did not come from Iriminage or kotegaeshi, but from Asian philosophy or religion. Since that is clearly the case, why should I pay homage to such Asian religious philosophy? Why not some other religion? Why not deontology? Why not utilitarianism?

If I want to go to church, why would I go to Aikido class?

If I want to learn how not to fight, couldn't I just ask an Amish person? Wouldn't that be easier than all that physical combat training? Aikido is combat training isn't it? The Amish manage not to fight without Aikido. The Amish manage to live in harmony without Aikido. Maybe Morihei Uyeshiba should have joined an Amish community instead of the religious school of Omoto-kyo.


If you don't need Aikido to live in harmony and peace with your neighbor, and clearly you don't, then maybe Aikido doesn't need Asian philosophy of religion in order to function. Maybe Aikido is simply a physical exercise that can be used in a self-defense situation.

RED BEETLE
www.kingsportjudo.com

Mashu 06-07-2005 09:32 AM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
You aren't talking about the mysticism itself but the mistaken/misinterpreted or incomplete views of Aikido that many of it's practitioners have. So your rant is like laughing at one of the blind men groping an elephant. They each think the part they have their hand on(or perhaps in) is the elephant but no matter how vehemently they argue their point they are wrong. Some of them aren't even touching the elephant ffs.

mj 06-07-2005 11:49 AM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
I'm afraid I have to agree.

You obviously have not trained indepth with Aikido so you are coming across as arrogant and insulting, which I am sure you do not intend to be Red.

The first lesson of Aikido, imo, is connection. There is no point discussing until you have this to give us a place to start communicating with each other.

btw I don't consider myself to be a nice guy...just nicer than before :)

Michael Neal 06-07-2005 12:14 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
No I think red made some very valid points.

Kevin Leavitt 06-07-2005 12:41 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
I actually disagree with alot of what he said. I certainly understand from his perspective that this may not be what aikido is to him, but it certainly is to many and I don't consider it to be a waste of time spending time on the "internal" aspects.

Why do you want to focus soley on the technical aspects of the art? What is it that you want to gain. "Combat effectiveness"? Your living in a world of romantic bullshido if you think that any martial art is going to give you skills that will make you combat effective in and of itself. Sure, you can get some good things like kotegaeshi, nikkyo etc...but failure to understand the underpinnings of principle will leave you lacking.

Building character, perception, and the ability to read a situation and people around you is much more important aspect of studying martial arts than any limited technical skills you may learn. The art of awareness, posture, breathing, the ability to keep calm under pressure are much more important to my overall combat effectiveness. I've used all those things in "combat" , rarely have I ever used any of my technical skills.

sure, there are those that I do not consider warriors or "martial artist" that study aikido, but that does not mean that aikido is not meant for them. They get something out of it. I get much of the same that they do.

Aikido can be an allegory for peace and can be a physical manifestation of resolving conflict. I think that is a wonderful thing. What is wrong with that? I don't consider it a waste of time.

If you want simply the "external" things that make you "combat effective". Get yourself a stick, some pepper spray, a gun, and take some classes and learn how to use them the right way. I guarantee you will be miles ahead of anyone who studies TMA or any empty hand art at all.

Please spare me all the "what if" scenarios dealing with why you need to study empty hand while you are alone in a sterile environment. I consider that to be a waste of time for 99.9% of the time.

Don_Modesto 06-07-2005 12:41 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
Quote:

Monty Collier wrote:
....Lots of Aikido people run around talking about "ki", but the fact of the matter is that the teaching of "ki" is simply a mystical/magical teaching which conjures belief in superstitious nonsense.

Either that or a problem of translation (and thus, lazy student: study more.)

Quote:

Students attempt to clear their minds, chant words or syllables, breath a certain way, assume postures, and so forth in the attempt to grasp or develop a magical power that is about as real as George Lucas' "Force."
People who took UKEMI from Osensei have a different opinion, of course.

Quote:

Students and Teachers would do better spending their time in the examination of, and actual practice of technical skills, rather than pretending to direct a make believe power from their bowels to their fingers.
Assuming there's a contradiction here... Shaun Ravens has some interesting things to say about the "mysticism" of these practices...

Quote:

Another example of the useless mysticism inherent in Aikido was the recent video that appeared on one of the forum threads. The clip did a nice job demonstrating technical skills that actually make up the system of Aikido. However, from time to time one would see something like: "Aikido is love." flash on to the screen. :crazy:

Aikido is love?
Please.
Why not say, "Baseball is love." , "Golf is love.", "Nascar is love", or whatever else someone decides love is to them.
From the founder himself. But in Japanese it's a pun. "AI", written with different Ch. characters means both "harmony" and "love".

Quote:

The word 'love' quickly loses any meaning.
If a word can mean anything, then it simply means nothing.
Yes. A complaint of my own, actually. But read into mysticism a little bit and you find that this is a feature, not a bug.

Quote:

Just because a teacher, or a founder of Aikido was a nice guy,
Not sure he was.

Quote:

this is no basis for concluding that what he taught was the source of this kindness.Just because a teacher, or a founder of Aikido claims that what he teaches will bring a moral harmony and love for mankind, this is no basis for concluding that what he taught actually accomplishes his claims.
Valid point. See essays of Ellis Amdur for a nicely fleshed out argument on this.

Quote:

If a person was not familiar with Aikido, and its mystical teachings, do you really think that such a person would conclude that Aikido was the way of peaceful harmony just by watching a demonstration of Aikido projections or neutralizations?
Yup. People see what they want to see and often what they're told to see.

Quote:

The reason it would be impossible to deduce a moral principal from a visual or tangible demonstration is because you cannot start with something you see (Aikido demo), and end up with something you cannot see (moral ideas).
Crick saw snakes and imagined DNA; Einstein saw himself on a light beam and saw Relativity.

Quote:

If I want to go to church, why would I go to Aikido class?
UPAYA/HOBEN/Skilful Means

Quote:

If I want to learn how not to fight, couldn't I just ask an Amish person? Wouldn't that be easier than all that physical combat training?
Read Saotome--Aikido and the Harmony of Nature.

Quote:

Aikido is combat training isn't it?
Precisely, no.

Quote:

If you don't need Aikido to live in harmony and peace with your neighbor, and clearly you don't, then maybe Aikido doesn't need Asian philosophy of religion in order to function. Maybe Aikido is simply a physical exercise that can be used in a self-defense situation.
Sounds like jujutsu. Aikido has a specific history and purpose. You don't know it, so aikido plays nail to your only tool, the hammer.

Fun post, though. Reminds me of myself. Thanks.

Mashu 06-07-2005 12:56 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
Quote:

When considering how to improve any Martial System it is necessary to take inventory, and examine if what is being taught is logically consistent and beneficial to the system as a whole.
O'Sensei would agree:

"The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace. Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment. Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter"

Quote:

Another example of the useless mysticism inherent in Aikido was the recent video that appeared on one of the forum threads. The clip did a nice job demonstrating technical skills that actually make up the system of Aikido. However, from time to time one would see something like: "Aikido is love." flash on to the screen.
愛 or 合? Maybe they were mistaken.

Quote:

Just because a teacher, or a founder of Aikido was a nice guy, this is no basis for concluding that what he taught was the source of this kindness.
I believe O'Sensei was not particularly wrapped up in the western concept of good and evil but I could be wrong. I think he was more interested in what was appropriate.

Quote:

If a person was not familiar with Aikido, and its mystical teachings, do you really think that such a person would conclude that Aikido was the way of peaceful harmony just by watching a demonstration of Aikido projections or neutralizations? Of course not.
They may be impressed, but no such moral assertion will be made from watching such a demonstration.
You can't know it until you are in it. Even then it is difficult. An outsider drawing conclusions about what it is and what it isn't is probably doing himself a disservice.

Quote:

The reason it would be impossible to deduce a moral principal from a visual or tangible demonstration is because you cannot start with something you see (Aikido demo), and end up with something you cannot see (moral ideas).
Aikido techniques are supposed to be very solution oriented with just the right thing with nothing more and nothing less. From this you could find that this principle is useful in other areas.

Quote:

If I want to learn how not to fight, couldn't I just ask an Amish person? Wouldn't that be easier than all that physical combat training? Aikido is combat training isn't it? The Amish manage not to fight without Aikido. The Amish manage to live in harmony without Aikido. Maybe Morihei Uyeshiba should have joined an Amish community instead of the religious school of Omoto-kyo.
Amish people don't fight back as far as I know. This would leave them very vulnerable. They may appear non-violent but the self-violence they potentially open themselves to seems to make them rather violent in a way. This is against Aiki principles and therefore being Amish has nothing to do with Aikido.

Anyway, I hope I haven't stuck my head in the elephant too deeply.

ChrisHein 06-07-2005 01:10 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
The Problem with mysticism, is that it's mysterious. If you lose the mystery (not knowing what's going on) then it's no longer mysterious, however if you don't lose the mystery, then you can never learn what you are doing. Mystery is for the ignorant. If you know what "ki" is (or rather what others refer to as being "ki"), it's not mystical anymore. Most people in Aikido are trying to become masters of something that they want to stay in the dark about.

It's very hard to pin Aikidoka (I'm generalizing here) down when it comes to asking them what they want. I think the main reason for this is because they want to keep everything a mystery. They don't want to come to the conclusion that Aikido's syllabus isn't good for everything. They don't want to conclude that Aiki is basically rhythm, and reading of intention. They don't want to discover that "ki" is just alignment and energy exchange that any high school physicist could explain to you. If they came to a conclusion on any of these things they would loose their mystical system. Unfortunately by doing this they limit themselves to mediocrity. By never admitting to yourself that a something is normal, dependable, and useful, you can never master it.

This isn't a sickness limited only to Aikidoka, it's an infection you see in the whole traditional martial arts community. They would rather not understand the reason for something, so they can live in the hope that it will never be just "normal". People want fantasy, and mystery. Thetas all fine and well Intel you attempt to learn, master, and teach something. I've often said that most traditional martial artists should join a reenactment group, or theater company and not a dojo.

The only problem with this non-mystical thinking is that it tends to close down openness to new things. Which is what I'm always looking for. If there is some new way to do something (even if I have to dance around in a funny dress, and yell vowels to find it) I want to learn it, this however doesn't mean I should turn a blind eye to what I already know, and be afraid to admit what I have learned.

-Chris Hein

Mary Eastland 06-07-2005 03:33 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
I don't think there is anything mystical about training to become stronger and then less likely to become a victim.

Ki is not magic....... it is just co-ordination of mind and body.

Looking at conflict as a way to create peace is a good idea.

Mary

MitchMZ 06-07-2005 04:22 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
I would have to disagree with the statement that Ki is not a real thing. In every culture, there is a way to define this natural occurrance. Westerners tend to define in it a secular way, whereas I think Easterners tend to explain it in a spiritual way....either way, it makes sense.

Now, if we merge the study of Ki/Chi with realistic training methods and techniques, I think an art becomes very effective. The only flaw I see with Aikido is the way some people practice it. The techniques have their validity, as does Ki. Applying them effectively comes down to how much we want to train and how we train. Don't confuse your personal failures and the effectiveness of an entire system.

That being said, I think there are a few things most dojos could do occassionally to solidify the effectiveness of their technique.

Keith_k 06-07-2005 04:28 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
Red Beetle,

According to your website, you don't practice aikido.
Neither do I.
Although I share your opinions on the role of ki and mysticism in the martial arts, I find it rude that you wish to impose this view on others. Mysticism is an integral part of Aikido. Those who practice Aikido gravitate to it for this reason, and those like you and me choose other arts with less emphasis on mysticism. If Aikidoka want to feel that they are in harmony with the universe and act with love and compassion as they inflict horrible pain (be it temporary or not) on an attacker, that is their business. I'm sure they have equally disdainful opinions about my willingness to strike an attacker full force in the face. I do not wish them to impose their philosophy on my art, as I do not impose mine upon theirs.

Keith

edited to correct spelling

tony cameron 06-07-2005 05:02 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
"better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."

jss 06-07-2005 05:27 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
Quote:

Monty Collier wrote:
If I want to learn how not to fight, couldn't I just ask an Amish person? Wouldn't that be easier than all that physical combat training? Aikido is combat training isn't it? The Amish manage not to fight without Aikido. The Amish manage to live in harmony without Aikido.

Someone, I think on Aikiweb, had (or has?) a signature which came down to this:
True pacifism is having the ability to kill someone and then choosing not to.

I think that definition of pacifism is more in line with aikido than the Amish way of turning the other cheek. (As has been stated by Matthew Zsebik in post #7, btw.)

Michael Neal 06-07-2005 05:34 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
Quote:

I find it rude that you wish to impose this view on others
How is he imposing his views on others? He is just stating his views just like everyone else here.

ChrisHein 06-07-2005 05:43 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
Quote:

Joep Schuurkes wrote:
Someone, I think on Aikiweb, had (or has?) a signature which came down to this:
True pacifism is having the ability to kill someone and then choosing not to.

I think that definition of pacifism is more in line with aikido than the Amish way of turning the other cheek. (As has been stated by Matthew Zsebik in post #7, btw.)

Well.....
Most Aikidoka don't know if they are capable of defending themselves or not. Atleast the Amish arnt' pretending.

-Chris Hein

jss 06-07-2005 06:11 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
Quote:

Chris Hein wrote:
Well.....
Most Aikidoka don't know if they are capable of defending themselves or not. Atleast the Amish arnt' pretending.

Touché! :D

akiy 06-07-2005 06:26 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
Quote:

Keith Kolb wrote:
Mysticism is an integral part of Aikido.

That's an interesting statement, one with which I'm not too sure if I personally agree.

But, to make sure we're on the same starting page:

How would you define "mysticism" in the context of your thoughts in this thread?
Quote:

I'm sure they have equally disdainful opinions about my willingness to strike an attacker full force in the face.
Interestingly, perhaps, at dinner last night, a friend of mine from the dojo said something to the effect of, 'I guess I have no qualms about hitting people." We then exchanged some stories of people hitting aikido shihan in the face (purposefully as opposed to accidentally) when training with them...

-- Jun

Ketsan 06-07-2005 06:36 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
Quote:

Kevin Leavitt wrote:
Building character, perception, and the ability to read a situation and people around you is much more important aspect of studying martial arts than any limited technical skills you may learn. The art of awareness, posture, breathing, the ability to keep calm under pressure are much more important to my overall combat effectiveness. I've used all those things in "combat" , rarely have I ever used any of my technical skills.

Agree totally.

Don_Modesto 06-07-2005 06:45 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
Keith Kolb wrote:
"Mysticism is an integral part of Aikido."

Quote:

Jun Akiyama wrote:
That's an interesting statement, one with which I'm not too sure if I personally agree.

There's always that infinite regress, "What is aikido?"

But I think mysticism was the air the founder breathed and so an integral part of aikido. Interested in your take, Jun.

Mike Sigman 06-07-2005 06:57 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
Quote:

Joep Schuurkes wrote:
Someone, I think on Aikiweb, had (or has?) a signature which came down to this:
True pacifism is having the ability to kill someone and then choosing not to.

And true BS is to say things like this when someone's younger sister can beat your butt. :)
Quote:

I think that definition of pacifism is more in line with aikido than the Amish way of turning the other cheek.
Unfortunately, the Amish have been in the news this last week, via a book by a born and raised insider talking about physical and sexual abuse within the Amish community being much greater than perceived.

Mike

ChrisHein 06-07-2005 07:10 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote:
Unfortunately, the Amish have been in the news this last week, via a book by a born and raised insider talking about physical and sexual abuse within the Amish community being much greater than perceived.

Mike


I think we're starting to get off track when we talk about the sexual tendencies of the Amish........

I would agree that mysticism is an integral part of Aikido, I had never really thought of it that way, it's an interesting thought.

-Chris Hein

akiy 06-07-2005 07:20 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
Quote:

Don J. Modesto wrote:
But I think mysticism was the air the founder breathed and so an integral part of aikido.

Yes, that's a very good point.
Quote:

Interested in your take, Jun.
My thought is that mysticism is one manifestation of the spiritual aspects of aikido. I like the definition of "mysticism" that I just found on dictionary.com: A belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension that are central to being and directly accessible by subjective experience.

I'm sure there are many people out there who will say that they are not interested in anything but the physical "put your partner's butt onto the ground" part of aikido. For them, I wouldn't necessarily say that any sort of mysticism. That is why I said that I do not necessary agree that mysticism is an integral part of aikido.

-- Jun, off to the dojo to have my butt put onto the ground

Keith_k 06-07-2005 07:35 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
Quote:

Michael Neal wrote:
How is he imposing his views on others? He is just stating his views just like everyone else here.

"Imposing" may have been too harsh a word, but in effect Mr. Red Beetle is saying that the idea of ki, and the philosophy behind aikido, is rubbish. It is one thing to comment of the effectiveness of technique, but philosophy is neither right nor wrong. For him to say that a certain philosophical approach to martial arts is wrong, is...well wrong. I feel that it would be analogous to going to a dedicated Christian forum and starting a thread that says there is no way that a person could rise from the grave and come back to forgive all your sins and you are are fools for believing it. It just seems out of place in a bad way.

Quote:

Jun Akiyama wrote:
That's an interesting statement, one with which I'm not too sure if I personally agree.

But, to make sure we're on the same starting page:

How would you define "mysticism" in the context of your thoughts in this thread?

I don't believe in the concept of "ki." The idea that there is some form of energy inside us and all around us that we can project from our bellies to our fingertips is a bit mystical to me. I may be wrong, but I think the idea of "ki" is integral to Aikido. "Ki" being a mystical concept, mysticism is integral to Aikido. IMHO of course.

As for striking with the intent to do damage: I will concede that there are aikidoka who have no problem with my willingness to beat the crap out of my attacker if you concede that that are many who would have a problem with it.

Mike Sigman 06-07-2005 07:40 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
Quote:

Jun Akiyama wrote:
My thought is that mysticism is one manifestation of the spiritual aspects of aikido. (snip)
I'm sure there are many people out there who will say that they are not interested in anything but the physical "put your partner's butt onto the ground" part of aikido.

My two cents is that there is some "mysticism" via Ueshiba in Aikido because of Shinto (animism), but there's a misconception about the "heavenly views" in Asia among many westerners, particularly the New Age. The strong undercurrent that Ueshiba was drawing on was the Asian (read "Chinese", since they were the dominant power whom so many emulated) idea of there being a rationality to all things in the universe. In other words, there is an order, starting with the Yin-Yang explanation and developing in a logical progression. What many are interpreting as "spirituality", "mysticism", and "religious call to love" is actually more of an assurance that from the chaos there is an order of rationality. The Asian "religions" are justifying themselves on ORDER (read "HARMONY"), so "mysticism", in the western sense, is probably not quite accurate.

My opinion.

Mike

Mike Sigman 06-07-2005 08:01 PM

Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
 
Quote:

Chris Hein wrote:
I think we're starting to get off track when we talk about the sexual tendencies of the Amish........

WE aren't talking about it... it was in a book that just made the bookstores. The point is that you can't point out the Amish as being exemplars of "peace and love" without taking into account the whole picture. It's just like I pointed out to Craig Hocker... you can't writhe and moan about Tohei and Ki while trivializing his habit of drinking. A saint is a saint... a man is a man. ;)

Mike


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