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Old 09-04-2005, 10:38 PM   #21
Kevin Leavitt
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Dojo: Team Combat USA
Location: Olympia, Washington
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 4,376
Re: Aikido survivors (Voices of Experience)

Mr Goldsbury's post has elicited some thoughts from me. I will say upfront that I have no direct experience of japanese culture, only from the media, books, history etc. and what I have experienced in martial arts.

I find the delination between aikido as a "way of life" or as a "practice/general martial art" very interesting. I must be careful to choose the words that describe or label the art/practice.

To me the concept is more of a spectrum with "way of life" being on one ends (total commitment), to " practice/general martial art" (the existenial experience) on the other.

I wonder how much culture plays into the equation? Probably a great deal!

I think you get into the concept of monasticism when you start talking about this type of thing. Something we have never really established in the United States, and which fell from grace in Europe somewhere around the protestant reformation. (although, you can still see the remains of that societal order/tradition through out Europe today).

I recently listened to a lecture by Robert Thurman, (Uma's dad, and one of the leading tibetan scholars) who proposes the monastic model as a way for us to evolve into a more "civilized and peaceful" society. Won't go into it, but very interesting.

What is my point?

Well I think that the Japanese culture and the asian culture in general is more in line with monastic society than we are in the west. Therefore, it stands to reason that the model/order/hierarcy of aikido is centered around this model.

Basically in a monastic society, you have an organization that is sponsored by it's members, which is all of the society. Some will take vows and give their lives over to it in hopes of reaching a higher understanding, being closer to god, becoming enlightened, to better serve mankind...whatever the reason. The commitment is fulltime and complete.

Others will be lay people supporting those that represent the hope of the society.

I think we have this model in aikido...even in the U.S and throughout the rest of the world...even if it is somewhat unstructured and loose.

I think it is a good model.

Not everyone has to be Ushi Deshi, or a monk....the world needs good Aikido laypeople to!
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