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Old 06-08-2005, 12:49 AM   #36
Dojo: Finger Lakes Aikido
Location: Cortland, NY
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 980
Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward

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.

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."

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.
Look at the name of the art: Aikido. Whether or not ki exists, O Sensei certainly believed in it, and it's right there in the name of the art.

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.

Aikido is love?

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.
Aikido is a Martial system.
Aikido class may be a place in which you can practice loving your neighbor, but Aikido is not love.
Towards the end of his life, O Sensei thought of traiding the "Aiki" characters that mean "harmony" to "Aiki" that means 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.
Except that the martial artist who did that would be guilty of being grossly disrepectuful to the founder, and failing to to his job of preserving and passing on what was passed to him.

My Kali teacher, who also has permission to teach Pentjak Silat Serak, is constantly emphasizing his role as preserving the arts he is teaching. Martial arts is not just about teaching someone a skill -- it is about passing on part of a culture. That's even true of Jun Fan/JKD; that's why their terminology is in Cantonese. It may even be true of Western Boxing -- you just don't notice the culture becaue we're in it. WRT Serak, Andy always said, "It is very important to do things exactly the way I show you," in no small part to show proper hormat or respect to the founder of the art, Pak Sera, and his disciples.

I don't see why this doesn't apply to Aikido. You are not just teaching joint locks and throws -- you can learn those anywhere. You are getting a small part of Japanese culture that has been refracted through O Sensei's vision. And if the "mystical nonsense" is an important part of what O Sensei wants passed down, then you'd damn well better pass it down, or you are not doing your job as an Aikido student/teacher. Yet it is very odd/dsiconcerting to come to Aikido, supposedly a "traditional" art, and find people 180 degrees from someone in the "non-traditional" arts WRT the role of preservation. I've had that drummed into me for over a year: That part of what we do is to preserve what we are given so it doens't vanish from the face of the Earth. Aikido may have had fifty years to establish itself in the West, but that doesn't make that job any less important.

If you want to learn how to fight, don't go to anyone for formal training in anything. Just move to a bad neighborhood and get in fights every day. Martial arts is about more than that. And if you can't see that or refuse to accept it, then maybe you should ask yourself if you are doing the right thing with your disposable income.
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