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Old 11-17-2008, 07:37 PM   #9
bdwilliamscraig's Avatar
Dojo: Free Aiki Dojo, Golden Bears Aikido, Aikido of Berkeley, Aiki Extensions
Location: Berkeley
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 9
Re: Extending Aiki and Aiki Extensions

Professor Goldsbury,

It was my great pleasure to meet and train near you during the first Aiki Expo in 2002. I was there to participate in Kayla Feder Sensei's demonstration and help Stan Pranin as a volunteer.

I hear your concern that a
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
questioner always assumes that [a] Yes indicates support for whatever the pressure group is supporting.
If by this you mean that it is common to use the rhetorical device that assumes support for less obvious assumptions following a difficult to dismiss opening question, e.g. "Do you value aikido", followed by "then clearly you'll be giving me money to teach orphans aikido in Ethiopia", then I acknowledge not only the widespread use of the technique but also the occasional indulgence of it in Aiki Extensions. Since the rhetorical choices of individuals can seldom be accurately portrayed as encompassing the will of an entire organization, it is unlikely that you had an unpleasant experience with Aiki Extensions, as such. On the other hand, individual's tend to characterize in some part the gestalt of groups wherein they choose to roost and I would be very interested to know more about the unpleasant interaction on the Aikiweb forums. One of my challenges has been to shift some of the ways AE asks for what it wants in the world - from making assumptions about aikidoka as a group to a focus on clarifying differences and seeking behavioral consensus before moving forward.

I am open to being questioned about my ideological assumptions but not to beginning with the idea that anyone is clear about them without having first allowing me the chance to clarify. I
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
proceed from 'individual callings towards peace-making with integrity'
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
seek to establish 'an inclusive training community, by whatever name, that works together in service toward that end'
because these seem to follow logically in my own life. I am fascinated by aikido and require a dojo in which to train. I feel a call to peace-making and immediately desire partnership in order to practice. Their could be an agency that is both central and intelligent, but this is by no means guaranteed. Certainly, there is a danger when humans get together that they will become secretive and power-mad, but that is not a dilemma unique to martial artists. Indeed, at least in a peace-practice community, figuring out ways to avoid this is an explicit requirment for authenticity, whereas it tends to sneak up on those overtly dedicated to things like "Security". I am not qualified to express an opinion if AE is anything like the groups you know in Hiroshima, only to say that during my tenure it has struggled openly to assure structural power distribution and transparency. This is not CIA stuff even when we assume, because we are convinced of it, that the connection between practicing aikido and working for peace are identical in everyone's mind. This is a maturity of thought problem in the mind of the person making the case, not a dilemma inherent in every person who believes the world may be improved in some measure while working together.

Aikido is essential and unique, in my opinion, because it was designed, explicitly and from the ground up, to foreground and make explicit that multi-level, bodymind, martial practice with and responses to conflict are identical with the making of peace. It is a direct-experience methodology with a built-in pedagogy that is super-accessible to almost anybody (one can make a clear beginning and grok the metaphors) in a very short period of time. Aiki Extensions, by extension, is essential because it is the only organization I know of that exists to make this obvious and available to everybody.

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
In the third paragraph, [i] want an 'exchange of ideas here that could lead to more extensions of aiki principles beyond the mat'
But you'll need to let me know where "elsewhere" I wrote that "nothing has really happened since June", since my entire impact has landed from that month till this one. A HUGE amount has been done at every level since June and there is indeed a connection. AE has channelled $10k to work with kids in the slums in Sao Paolo, supported a US fundraising tour by our Ethiopian contingent and brought that country's first home grown yudansha for training up to shodan, opened doors via wiki and listserve to all members so they may be in direct communication without going through an administration, contributed to the success of Teaching Aikido to Kids and Aikido in Higher Education seminars, and the list goes on. Our primary failing during this period is being too slow to change our collective habit of pushing all money and energy out, such that we had a first chance to fund the next step into a professional administration and may have missed it. We'll see.

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
note the title of the thread and suggest that [i] might think that Extending Aiki more or less automatically leads to Aiki Extensions. After all, [I am the] executive director of the latter organization.
Damn straight. But I only assume people believe similarly when they invoke metaphors and draw clear public parallels to aikido like
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
"in aikido there are several important principles which govern the encounter between uke and tori and some of these can be applied to negotiation practice: for example, flexibility and a readiness to change tactics; an awareness of the strengths, weaknesses and openings of your opponent; and also the very important aspects of the strengths and weaknesses in one's own attack." - Goldsbury
I hear that the issues raised by your earlier negative experience were not really resolved to your satisfaction and am ready to go whatever way might lead to a more favorable outcome for you. No apologies needed for your "negative tone". I believe you would be more than an asset to AE and the work I believe O'Sensei intended us to create in both the dojo and the world beyond its walls. Hit me with whatever objections you might have because I believe there is a chance, if the responses suit, that you will consider doing work with me that makes the lives of real people measurably better, whatever universal dilemmas exist in working together.

I am, of course, biasedly yours,

Brandon WilliamsCraig
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