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Old 07-25-2005, 03:38 AM   #54
Jorge Garcia
Dojo: Shudokan School of Aikido
Location: Houston
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 608
Re: ?? Exaggeration in Aikido ??

In reading this thread, it is somewhat surprising to me that some of those posting don't seem to recognize the history of Aikido or what the founder, Morihei Ueshiba taught about Aikido. We have heard from some that see Aikido as the best fighting art, others that like something else like BJJ and some that want to cross train. I guess I am wondering what happened to the philosophy of Aikido for those that claim to practice it? The founder of Aikido practiced many martial arts but came to a point where he realized the futility of trying to be stronger and better than others. He understood that every warrior will fall someday. There is no such a thing as personal invincibility when it comes to fighting. I am not saying that anyone on this thread thinks there is. I am making that point to establish the philosophical premise. If that point is true, then you have to look at Aikido the way the founder did. He saw it as a way to unite people in practicing an art of peace. He philosophically establishes its invincibility in it's refusal to engage in a "fighting" spirit or in competition. Aikido is a martial way rather than a martial art. I think though that there is a philosophical theory here. That would be that the person who loses the desire to win can't be defeated. I know how terrible this sounds to all those who are looking for the very best form of self defense. Again though, the truth is that the best form of self defense is finding ways not to fight. That way, you will never find the end of yourself. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be able to defend yourself. There's nothing wrong with cross training. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be the best you can be. I think though that there is something wrong with a perfectionist streak that tries to establish a peace in mind and heart that the person is now trained in the ultimate and very best possible way to withstand almost any assault. That I think is an unrealistic fantasy bordered by many contingencies and factors beyond any one individuals control. It's an unfruitful way to pursue your life.
Listen friends, you don't need to become the ultimate martial artist.I don't think there is such a thing. There will always be a hundred people within arms reach that can defeat you-no matter who you are. Unfortunately, that's the truth. In martial arts, you're working with percentages and it's true that the more you know and the better you are, you have improved your percentages in surviving an assault. It's just that there are also many other things you can do, that are common sense safety tips that have nothing to do with fighting or martial arts that will shoot your percentages way up there and save you years of falsely pursuing a fantasy of invincibility that will never actually come to pass.
I like what one famous practitioner said in a documentary. He said, "Like many young boys, I got into martial arts for all the wrong reasons."
In my dojo, we train hard and we train realistically. I have had as many as 4 dojo chos of different karate styles training with me. They are all plenty tough guys. We have trained with professional football players, Navy Seals, law enforcement people, fitness people, and one of my best friends in Aikido (a nidan) has even been doing BJJ for many years now. With my advanced people, if they want to rumble and let the techniques go and want to grapple with me, we go for it while the class watches. I'm not afraid to get physical. It's just that I realized a long time ago that I can't guarantee that I or anyone else will win "fights". I am not interested in that. I don't think that's what O Sensei was all about. Carrying a hand gun or even a shotgun would probably be a better form of self defense. It would be cheaper, more efficient and your percentages would shoot straight up (No pun intended).
I personally read Kisshomaru Ueshiba's book, The Spirit of Aikido once a year.It helps me stay grounded in what Aikido really is. I'll close with a quote from a man once called the scariest man at Hombu Dojo. When he was young, most people were afraid to train with him. I happen to know that he trained realistically in private training with people of almost every martial art. He has told me many stories about that and yet, look at what he says about Aikido.

"The strength of Aikido is in embracing others.

Interviewer: What do you think about strength in Aikido?
Kato: Strength is many things, isn't it? Taking other people down is one strength. But persistence in practice, and becoming good at dealing with others, are also strengths. It is holistic, I think. It may be easier to train the body to take people down. Showing strength in Wa (peace) and Musubi (connection) is very different from that. It is more difficult to attain and requires more strength. Unless strength is found in embracing others with a full-fledged humanitarian perspective, it is not pertaining to strength in Aikido. It is important to ask oneself "What is Aikido?" and develop one's own perspective. If you choose not to fight, then why don't you do that? Searching for ultimate answers like that is a necessity in doing Aikido.
Aikido is not Kumiuchi, traditional martial techniques for fighting. If Aikido were like techniques for fighting, the way of practice itself would be totally different. But Aikido practice consists of ways to develop ourselves and each other. Of course, it is not saying that being weak is acceptable-through our experience of strength we are not tempted to fight. Aikido is not about competition. A person who has true strength does not fight.
Again, going back to the regular meetings with Sensei, on one particular day, some writers who were specializing in Japanese tales of Samurai and Shogun came to see the Founder. The authors started to talk about the technique of Sen sen no sen (responding before an attack) and Ato no sen (countering an attack). And the Founder started to say, there are no such things. In Aikido, people win even before their fight starts. He had a view of winning that encompassed everything, that makes it into oneness, and a value system that transcends the concept of winning and losing.."

Best wishes,

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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