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Old 04-04-2007, 12:56 PM   #3
R.A. Robertson
Dojo: Still Point Aikido Center
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 345
Re: the line between experience and fixed opinions

Alec Corper wrote: View Post
Hello all,

I've noticed a growing trend in the last years for people with some experience to have (and voice) very strong opinions, almost to the point of strident declarations that "my answer is the only right answer".[\]

Most of you guys seem to stay out of many discussions, (George being a current exception) I wonder why?
regards, Alec
Hi Alec,

Aikido is an evolving art. To have both passion and experience in something you love, without having strong opinions seems not only unrealistic, but counterproductive. The world of aikido could be a lot better for frank discussion on what's not working, how to make things better, and sharing of new discoveries. Of course, it's easy to overstep the bounds of civility, and fall into dogma. Unfortunately these errors do tend to dull the ears of those who would otherwise be eager to listen.

It would be completely dishonest of me if I did not declare that I have a way of practice that I believe is better than other ways. In fact, I believe it superior to every other method I've had the opportunity to survey. When we possess something good, it is right that we want to share it with others. That being said, I do realize it might not be right for you, or even the majority of those who do aikido. But I believe profoundly in what I am doing and where my path has led me.

As to your other point, I can't speak for others. I don't contribute much at all to AikiWeb forums, though I write a monthly column. I do hang out on Aikido-L and contribute there with some frequency. Being involved in the world aikido community is an important part of being a professional aikido instructor, in my opinion. But even doing this full time, I can't possibly be heavily involved in every venue.

Maybe some high ranking folk have themselves ensconced in an ivory tower. Maybe others aren't really good expressing themselves in writing. Some would rather do aikido than talk about it. Perhaps some are just genuinely busy. Some might feel their authority will dampen free discussion. Some don't speak English. I think the reasons are many, some valid, some not so much.

But I do think your question is an important one. Where are the top names in aikido? Why are they not more accessible? Why are the kancho of the major and lessor organizations not mixing with the crowd? Are they even speaking to each other? Can they not use a computer? Have they nothing to learn from each other? Will they not share with those of us outside their organization? Are they uninterested in the concerns of the aikido world at large?

You've given voice to something I've been grinding my teeth about for a while now. Sometimes I've really felt like rattling the cage a bit to see if any of those archons of our art will come down from the mountain.

Once I wrote an article that helped me process the teachings of someone I held in high respect. I made it clear I was working through some things, was very complimentary of the teacher and the teachings, but that the ideas in the article were in process and were my own thoughts, not meant to speak for anyone but me. Much later that teacher excoriated me for the article, called it garbage, said I knew nothing of aikido. This was done publicly, in front of my own students and guests, in my own house, where we were hosting a reception in his honor.

Sometimes there is a real cost involved in going public.

And that's a shame.

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