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Old 12-07-2006, 03:31 PM   #13
Michael McCaslin
Dojo: aikijujitsu, unaffiliated
Location: New Orleans
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 35
Re: Why are you here on this forum?

I know my posts have not been as contentious as others, but I think that is largely because I do a lot more lurking and learning than posting.

However, I do fit into the category of someone who does not train in Aikido, yet who is here, and I can tell you why.

I train in an unaffiliated aikijujutsu school. Kokyu is given short shrift in our dojo-- we just train for "efficient body mechanics" and trust that the rest will take care of itself. Whenever we have trouble making something go, the answer is often "atemi." (While we're on the subject, yes, I am a believer in atemi. I think the ability to hit and hit hard should figure into anyone's self defense repertoire.)

Allow me to outline why I'm here. I don't expect everyone to agree, but maybe it will help shed some light on my motivation:

1. I believe aikido, aikijujutsu, hakko ryu, (insert art here) share a common "engine," that being kokyu/internal strength.
2. I believe that while the flavor may differ, the Chinese and Japanese arts share common principles and mechanics.
3. I believe that the vast majority of people who practice these arts do not understand how to use internal strength.
4. I believe that the majority of people who practice these arts do not have access to teachers who can and will show them.
5. I believe that anyone who studies very seriously in *any* of these arts will eventually run into the issue of how to use these skills.

So, my theory is that I should be able to have discussions with any serious practitioner of an art that uses internal strength and find some common ground. We should have things to discuss and share. All of us, in any art, should fear the day the last person who has real internal skill passes away. We all owe it to our arts to learn as much as we can while it's still possible.

I trained in aikido for a while, and I remember feeling a great deal of cognitive dissonance comparing how it is trained to how it could be. This is true of every art. I think it's fine if most train one way and a few grasp the real truths, but increasingly it looks like a day is coming when the real truths will pass from knowledge.

Call it greed or hubris if you want, but I don't want to connect myself with any art and fail to become an example of that art's full potential.

I think some of the people here share information in the true hope that they are helping others to learn. Some people share information as a way of "seeding" discussion, hoping to get information in return. Most, like me, are reading a lot and benefitting from the knowledge of people they would never have access to were it not for forums like this one. I try to contribute as best I can but the truth is I'm getting a lot more than I am giving right now, and I am truly greatful for that. (Thanks!)

Knowledge about this stuff is scattered and fragmented. Who knows who in what art will have a little piece of the puzzle, or some history that isn't widely known?

So here I am. I'm sorry if I offend anyone by not showing the deference he feels he or his teacher deserves, or if something that comes off my keyboard kills one of his sacred cows. I am here with the best of intentions: to learn and to share. I think George Ledyard's advice to gloss over the delivery and give the content careful consideration is spot on. I forget who said offense can never be given, only taken, but there is some wisdom there. Really, we all train in arts that claim ego loss is a goal and that too much ego is a barrier to progress. How many of us are setting good examples in this respect?

One thing that draws people here is the high signal to noise ratio. Are there arguments? Yes, everyone here is heavily emotionally invested in what they do, and not all of us see things the same way. But there are more mature, level-headed people on this forum than I've seen in one place in a long time. On the whole, there is a decent collection of folks here. I lurk on all of them I can find, but this is the only one I've bothered to register for. I hope we will all be able to check our ego's at the door and continue to share information. It's best for us as individuals, and best for us as a collective. Really, how hard is it to read what's out there, work with what is useful, and leave the rest for others to make their own decisions about?

Thinking back on the last year, a truly staggering amount of information has been presented here. Like many of you, I have a bookshelf full of martial arts books of every description at home. If I had to choose between them and what has become available to me online, it would be a hard decision but I know I would keep the online interaction. I won't name names, since some names seem to cause people to clamp their minds shut, but THANK YOU to those of you who take time to share the knowledge you've worked for here. I will do my best to be able to make your efforts worthwhile.

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