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Old 03-24-2007, 10:41 AM   #13
L. Camejo
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Dojo: Ontario Martial Arts
Location: Mississauga, Ontario
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 1,423
Re: The Point of Aikido

George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I am not in disagreement here. I think it funny that I am in danger here of being placed in opposition to the folks that cross train (which I have done and still do, as do my students) and am in danger of being seen as the representatives of some softer, easier Aikido. Any of the folks who know me would find it fairly amusing, I think.
Hi George,

Actually from speaking with you online over the years I know you are not an advocate of the soft and easy approach to Aikido. I am sorry if I may have indicated that but my post was also geared to those who may have some sense of ambiguity in this area.
George S. Ledyard wrote:
O-Sensei's focus changed over the years as his spiritual views changed. There has been quite a lot written about how the aftermath of WWII changed his thinking about things as well. When he started to put the finishing touches in what would be modern Aikido, I think he had certain things in mind. I don't not think that we have to go through everything the Founder did to follow the path he outlined towards the end of his life. If we were required to reinvent the wheel in each generation, we'd never make it.
I agree that we do not need to reinvent the wheel, but at the same time we need to remember that Ueshiba M.'s understanding of life came from his unrelenting pursuit of higher ideals whilst being immersed in expressions of human baseness. Fighting, WWII atrocities and the like were all around Ueshiba M. during his development of something more than mere rote human on human violence. Interestingly enough he chose a very paradoxical means to reach the state of controlling his fears, that of fear-driven martial practice. So I agree that the wheel need not be reinvented but if we at some point do not get to face our deepest fears in Aikido so we can understand who we become when in this state (a way of seeing the usually unseen self) then it would be hard to utilize the sort of insights Ueshiba gained that also assisted him in his own development. I think before one can transcend the self the total self must be known and this includes the truly dark, the truly light and everythign in between. Imho serious martial training helps us to keep the darker side in mind while the philosophy of Aikido and ultimate goals keep us focused on the higher ideals where we want to be in the end, which is not about being a "better fighter" at all. It is quite paradoxical - going through the Yin to find the Yang (or vice versa) and then true balance imho.
George S. Ledyard wrote:
I think that one of the absolute, fundamental purposes of Budo training is to help people lose their fear. Notice I say lose their fear, not simply overlay them with aggression and pretend they aren't there. Hard training is important in this regard. Many of the fears we have are about physical violence, being hurt, pain, etc. Aikido actually offers a really good way for people to deal with these issues in a way that is designed to be non-injurious. That doesn't mean sucking the life out of the training to make it user friendly. It means taking it right to the edge.
Absolutely. The question though is how many Aikidoka are truly training this way and really understand the competencies, goals and ideals of the art and how to achieve them.
George S. Ledyard wrote:
My article was merely trying to point out that we need to stop apologizing for what Aikido lacks. Some of what it lacks, we need to get put back in , no question, but some of what it lacks, it lacks on purpose. I strongly believe that if one looks at everything from a purely utilitarian view of what will work in a fight, what will make me the unbeatable martial artist, then the essence of the practice will be lost and we will be busy devolving our art into its antecedents. We don't need to remake Aikido into Daito Ryu. Daito Ryu still exists and if that is what people want, they can do it. A devolved Aikido wouldn't be good Daito Ryu, it would have ceased to be Aikido.
You and I are on the same wavelength it seems. Something I have realised with almost every "internal" CMA practitioner that I have come across is a fixation on "ki/chi/internal" abilities in its form of making oneself less vulnerable or being better in a fight. Most of them do not understand what Aikido is about and yet want to give pointers on how to improve Aikido by developing these skills. The folks online here were hardly the first I've seen do this sort of thing. Interestingly however I did come across one Chinese Wushu master who did not believe that chi should be used for these things, in fact he had a goal for the use of chi much like Ueshiba M.'s view for Aikido. This guy in fact left wushu behind (including the money and fame he had in doing it) and started teaching qigong instead. In this I saw that those who want to develop internal skills for combat alone have missed the higher ideal of the training. This is the same as those who only want to learn to fight. If we are fighting there is no Aiki. Transcendence of the need to fight is Aiki imho, which as you rightly said comes from the transcendence of fear.

Good thought provoking thread George, my compliments.


--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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