Thread: Aiki Extensions
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:33 AM   #11
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
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Re: Aiki Extensions

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Kisshomaru Ueshiba was a transitional figure, but the younger deshi, like Chiba, Yamada and Saotome were most definitely 'postwar'. A moral dimension is perhaps something that western aikidoists can give the Japanese, but I am not sure that this moral dimension is best represented by Aiki Extensions.
I think I would agree... It seems to me that the bottom line in Aikido is still a deep, really deep understanding of what is happening in the interaction between two or more live energy systems that are human beings.

There are so many levels on which "connection" exists. Often, people like the idea of everything being connected but simply have not trained enough to have really understood it on the mat, in their bodies and in their minds. There is a tendency for these folks to feel a bit "ersatz" when they talk about applying "aiki" principles in the world.

I think it is the path of some folks to take the ideas of Aikido and apply them in the world. It is the path of others to master those principles on a deep level on the mat. One inspires the other... I don't usually see these talents combined in a single person. Getting deeply into ones training is such an individual effort, the folks I know who have gone the farthest in this direction are not terribly social beings for the most part.

For Americans, or any foreigners, to give something back to the Japanese that would be in a form that they would take in and make their own, it will have to be, first and foremost, grounded in a deep understanding of technique. That is the common language we share. If someone with exceptional technical skill could then connect that skill with insights that would apply off the mat, it would make sense and might be something the Japanese could digest.

In my opinion, the Aiki Extensions concept is profoundly American, or at least Western, in its fundamental outlook. To the extent that they refer to "aiki" principles, I think it is not the understanding of those principles that the Japanese would have. It's not that the Japanese might not see their efforts as positive or valuable... it's that they simply wouldn't necessarily see the connection with what they understand Aikido to be.

Anyway, there was some discussion a while back with Stan Pranin about what and how the West could give back to Japan now that Aikido has been flourishing over seas for over a generation. I told him that such a discussion was purely academic as I saw no sign that Japan had even the slightest interest in anything flowing back to them from abroad. Francis Takahashi has actually discussed the issue with Hombu, to little or no avail.

So whatever we "might" be able to give Japan, there would need to be a mechanism for doing so and that doesn't exist right now. And Aiki Extensions is not the vehicle.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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