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Old 06-25-2008, 01:37 PM   #11
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 498
Re: Aikido™ and Aiki…do. Where are we at?

Gernot Hassenpflug wrote: View Post

Assumption: I've seen and trained the commonly-taught misogi under Abe Seiseki shihan and his deshi, and pretty much the same thing physically under direction of both the of the Italian Aikikai and the British Aikido Federation. So I think I'm talking about the mainstream-taught and commonly-known misogi here. Therefore I merely ask the readers to refer to Aikiweb threads discussing misogi for a general overview.

Any comments most welcome.
Hi Gernot,

Hmmmm, I guess a good place to start here is by asking a few simple questions to level the playing field.
  1. Given the three sources you mention, would you say that the methodologies were basically the same?
  2. Given the same three methods, are the "stated" goals for the practice basically the same?
  3. In your opinion, or from what you have been told (please specify) what are the phase one goals of Misogi-no-Gyo
  4. If you care to speculate, or speak from your own experience, (seperate from the first few phase changes) what is/are the long time goal/goals of Misogi-no-Gyo?

Gernot Hassenpflug wrote: View Post

I think that they are too indirect and can only deliver real results once the first stage has been passed.
what is the first stage to which you are referring?

Gernot Hassenpflug wrote: View Post
I do not think---at this stage---that misogi were or are the first stage of penetrating to the heart of aikido.
I can't really speak to the totality of your point until I am clear about what "at this stage" means. However, I would like to be clear about what I mean when I say "understanding the art of the founder." For the sake of simplification (and this is very over-simplified) the art of the founder has two basic components - one that is physical and another that is non-physical. I am not going to get specific at all as to what I mean by non-physical, but I will say that it is not "spiritual" in nature as Westerner's minds might understand it. I am not saying that Aikido is not spiritual, or doesn't have a spiritual component, just that spirituality is not part of the basic elements I am describing here. Let's face it, anything can be spiritual, and at some level, everything is. As in any math problem, if all parts have one element in common, that element can be divided out from the equation. So, spirituality, for all that it is worth will not be part of this explanation.

My sense is that every person who steps into a dojo starts off with the physical aspect of the art. This is how it should be. From a physical perspective we have techniques (waza) and various sorts of movement (sabaki - te, tai, ashi, koshi... etc.) These are the outer forms, or empty forms of Aikido. Misogi, too, has an outer form - all of the specific practices (gyo) from which it is comprised. The gyo are, in an of themselves empty. They are often seen as spiritual, or even worse, religious in nature. Religion is also an outer form, in and of itself empty, but that is another thread in another forum so I will not address that here. I do not believe that practicing misogi as a spiritual or religious form is either needed, desired or will assist someone to understand the art of the founder. I say this because the founder said it, and also because in the manner in which it was taught it was entirely devoid of those elements. However, I think we can safely say that a person can practice techniques for decades and be as far off from discovering even the deeper physical aspects of Kokyu, moving with Kokyu, and throwing with Kokyu, but again these things are all (mostly) physical in nature. They are not what lies at the heart of Aikido because, just as the sign says, "There are no techniques at the heart of Aikido." This is where misogi-no-gyo comes in. However, I believe it important to say that I don't think misogi is, or should be used as a substitute for training, rather it is a supplement to the training, and in this manner should be approached at the very beginning of one's path in order to both augment and deepen it in a way that would not be otherwise possible.

Gernot Hassenpflug wrote: View Post
I think this has become clear from past posts that some people have developed very rapidly using misogi practice once they had broken through a certain barrier. I think that barrier is a purely physical one (regardless of what mental development might also be associated with the practice of aikido and misogi).
Again, I am not sure what "barrier" it is to which you refer, but I am wondering if there is an assumption that someone must run into the wall over and over before they realize that there is and that they should use the door... There is no reason someone must struggle to find peace, nor must they suffer to find enlightenment. There is a Sanskrit word "Anupaya" which literally means, "no means" and can be interpreted to mean, "spontaneous self realization without effort" This is Takemusu Aiki achieved through the process of Masakatsu-Agatsu-Katsuhayahi. Interestingly, katsuhayahi may also be interpreted as "spontaneous self realization without effort." perhaps you are saying that one needs a fair level of understanding, say 5 years of training in the physical elements along with a similar depth of experience in the transformative aspects of misogi in order to properly integrate the two over some period of time. If that is what you meant, then I would tend to agree. I would be curious to hear Kinoshita Sensei's opinion on that, so much so that I will ask him when I next have the honor and opportunity.

Gernot Hassenpflug wrote: View Post
I further think that stage one is more in the stance and posture used in training---for example, Abe shihan had us stand with arms and legs straightened---and more direct, but not direct enough. In particular, I think the vertical axis should be emphasized more, so that greater benefits can accrue to be used in the standard posture, and later in the practice of the misogi exercises where the hands are held horizontally or lower. Otherwise, I doubt that proper development of the connections of the arms to the back via the shoulders will take place in ordinary students who are forced to work in poor postural circumstances for many hours a day and have perhaps one or two hours a day maximum to devote to martial arts practice. Perhaps, on the other hand, it was sufficient in the past, and perhaps even now sufficient for those who do professionally spend many hours each day practicing and/or teaching the art.
Hmmm, here I could say a lot, but I feel I might lose anyone, okay everyone else who may still be reading along. My investigation of the outer form of both Aikido waza and misogi waza lasted about 10 years. It was at that point that both Abe Sensei and Kinoshita Sensei individually began breaking my form after not having made one point about it verbally. I guess about two years later into my training I realized why - THERE IS NO FORM! However, and this must be said, you can't start out that way, without form I mean. Then again, there is all this effort to try and raise the "vertical axis" (no pun intended) and its relation to a ground path to be the pinnacle of internal focus. While I am sure that these are very important elements, they are basic elements at best. I believe that ground path becomes (mostly) irrelevant at some point. I say this because of some of the things I have been able to experience first hand, things I won't go into here. I definitely agree that these things take years to develop and decades to master.

Gernot Hassenpflug wrote: View Post
Additionally, I speculate that such direct teaching was expected to have been manifested in the student before their joining in aikido practice, since originally students needed to have gained experience, which implies certain body development, in other arts. If the bodily basis is the same at a low level, then they will thus have the necessary foundation and can use the misogi and breathing exercises, perhaps something special in aikido, to advance to a much higher level.
I would say yes, but... Yes, in that any prior training will be helpful to a point, but could just as easily get in the way of advancing to the next level, forget about a much higher level. In my case, I truly thought Aikido was supposed to hurt, so much so I concentrated strictly on how to make each and every movement as painful as possible on Uke. As you might imagine, I was not really appreciated at that time. My senpai adjusted my sense of things, but I really couldn't see their point. I mean I understood that they didn't want me hurting them, or worse, beginners, but I didn't, couldn't, wouldn't see that Aikido is not wrist twisting and body throwing. Had I not sought out Misogi I do not think I would have changed my focus, and probably would have hurt a lot more of my training partners. There are many people on this very board who think they have come a long way on their aikido/martial path. However, it is quite obvious from an outsiders perspective that they can't see that they haven't moved forward at all from a beginner's level understanding of either. Oops! Did I just say that out loud? Its okay, I'm not talking about anyone who actually read this far in my post. No, really, I'm not...


I no longer participate in or read the discussion forums here on AikiWeb due to the unfair and uneven treatment of people by the owner/administrator.
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