View Single Post
Old 02-16-2010, 12:36 AM   #3
Dojo: aikido academy/alhambra,california
Location: Los Angeles, California
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 371
Re: Hard to Stay in Seiza

According to Wikipedia and certain Japanese dictionaries, the definition, role and advisability of proper seiza varies quite a lot.

Seiza, per Sanseido Dictionary, literally means "sitting quietly", or "sitting upright".

According to Wikipedia, seiza is normally performed on tatami, although done on wooden floors for such cultural occasions as martial arts training, tea ceremony, flower arranging, etc. In other words, it is a cultural phenomenon, practiced in Japan, and often adopted by cultural groups and systems outside of Japan.

I believe that "pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional". If one can avoid unnecessary pain and suffering, the correct choice is to do so. It makes little sense to injure or cripple oneself for a concept that has an apparently arbitrary and dubious applicability, simply because it "has always been done this way".

Even in the Japanese culture, options are both available and encouraged for those who have physical limitations, medical conditions, and for the aged and otherwise uninitiated, such as non-Japanese persons.

Seiza stools are widely used, especially for those in meditation groups, and similar cultural programs requiring sitting in seiza. Depending on the circumstance and permissibility, there is the option of Agura, sitting crossed legged, or for Kiza, sitting on one's raised heels in any otherwise seiza position.

Those folks who are raised with horses, have little problem with riding them, with or without saddles. For those who first attempt to do so as teenagers or adults, will probably have quite an adjustment to endure. For such people, it is their choice to expose themselves to such challenges, and judge for themselves if it is worth the effort and risk of permanent injury and embarrassment.

For those who wish to adapt and fit in to a cultural bias towards maintaining such seemingly arcane traditions, I can only wish you good luck. Choose wisely, as the consequences may be severe.

I personally leave sitting in seiza as an optional exercise in my dojo, even as I do knee walking, hanmi handachi training and suwari waza. The student is never required to knowingly and reluctantly subject themselves to the potential of injury, suffering or embarrassment. It remains their choice to try it, and judge for themselves how much of such challenges they wish to accept.

I have no argument with instructors, and stewards of those systems that continue the requirement of such practices as seiza. It is their right to maintain whatever traditions they are comfortable with, and believe are necessary for themselves, their students, and their organizational goals..

I guess it is my commitment to maintaining a "No Harm" policy for those I supervise in training, and in determining for themselves what works best for them.

Last edited by aikishihan : 02-16-2010 at 12:40 AM.
  Reply With Quote