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Old 09-22-2007, 08:40 PM   #48
Location: Greensboro North Carolina
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 370
Re: The Point of Aikido

Here is nice explanation of Aikido. Quote from Hiroshi Isoyama.

"Budo as the Undercurrent of Aikido
How would you say that your emphasis on the importance of budo in aikido developed?

Since I’m in the position of teaching aikido, I feel I have to keep myself oriented in one consistent direction. People practice aikido for a variety of reasons - to keep in shape or stay healthy or what have you - but it is clearly “budo” that is the undercurrent running beneath aikido. There’s no problem with people practicing aikido simply as a good way to stay in shape, but I think they still should also cultivate the kind of vigilance that strives constantly to avoid showing openings to potential opponents. This is an important underlying aspect of budo, and I think neglecting it or allowing it to become too minor a part of your training will result in a divergence from the real spirit of aikido.

The founder’s thinking changed over the years between the time he started teaching aikido and later in his life, so naturally the kinds of movements he used also changed. There are very few people who had direct contact with him over the span of several decades, so in many ways it’s like that old story of the three blind men all feeling different parts of an elephant and giving different descriptions of what an elephant is. In that sense, I wonder if there is anyone at all who understands O-Sensei’s greatness completely.

Some people were in contact with O-Sensei when he was spreading aikido purely as a budo; others only began learning from him once his thinking had evolved to emphasize aikido as “a way of harmony”; still others learned from him at various periods later in his life. All of these will have different viewpoints and interpretations, and I don’t think it’s possible to say that any of these is better than the others.

I also think there are differences depending on the age of the learner. Younger people naturally sought a stronger kind of aikido, while those who were older may have been drawn to aspects such as harmony and spirit, and so these are what each absorbed from O-Sensei. Issues like these make it very difficult to talk about aikido in clear-cut terms.

As you know, O-Sensei never wrote much about aikido in books, although some of this techniques are recorded in Budo. Sometimes I’ve wondered why he didn’t write more about aikido, but on the other hand, I think I might understand: his thinking gradually evolved, and he may have felt that anything he wrote in his younger years would potentially end up being contradictory to his thinking later on. The same is true of his techniques: if he had said anything definitive about them at any point, he might have ended up contradicting himself later on as he evolved.

Another difficulty is that different people have tended to interpret O-Sensei’s words in different ways, even though he may have actually said the same thing to all of them. People then end up expressing their own interpretation as if they had absorbed all of what he meant, leading in turn to small variances and eventually to misunderstandings.

When O-Sensei taught he never gave any particularly detailed explanations. One reason was that the many people who came to practice aikido under him were all individuals of a certain higher standing in society, for example military officers, politicians, high-ranking practitioners of other martial arts, people from the financial sector, the heads of private enterprises, and various others all well-established and respected in their fields. Giving too much detail to people like that, for example teaching them things like “this is the way you do a proper bow” and so on would have been regarded as condescending and offensive.

During practice O-Sensei often spoke in honorific language to individuals of higher social standing and us regular students alike. I was very moved by that attitude and way of interacting with people."
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