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Old 08-15-2011, 11:14 AM   #23
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

Alec Corper wrote: View Post
Just for the sake of open discussion, and not as a statement of fact. Over the years I have heard the words spiritual and philosophical and ethical all used in relation to Aikido, generally by people meaning "roughly" the same thing. I believe that Ueshiba was quite probably a touch mad, in the way that most highly committed people are, but I also believe that he was technically very gifted. many of his doka were dismissed, even by how own deshi, as being too "mystical " to understand, too "spiritual" etc. However, and I'm sure Mike will correct me if I am way off the mark, I have read many so-called Tai Chi poems which read like a cross between drunken Taosim and a romantic naturalist guidebook. BUT, on careful perusal they begin to make some sense, speaking about sunny side and shady side and seasonal or diurnal rotations as an allegory for how to utilize the mechanics of spiralling, or how to have part of the body full and another, balancing part, empty.
I begin to suspect that some of Ueshiba's spiritual ramblings were in fact technical allegory in the same way. I don't know wether it was intentionally so, or simply the orchestrated byproduct of the imagery and language he was full of.
Even the endlessly misquoted idea that Aikido is all about establishing a "relationship" with an opponent, which contains echoes of a love and peace era that hadn't happened yet, becomes meaningful looked at as a technical indication of absorbing the energy and intention of an opponent to the point that control was established, a use of aiki as I understand it. Is it possible that he taught more than people thought and that his technical and "spiritual" sides were actually successfully joined in his art?
Alec Corper
There's a lot of depth in O-Sensei's doka. But one has to train up to a certain level to have them make sense. They aren't "how to" descriptions, they are simply descriptive of certain principles or ways of perceiving reality operating in his Aikido. The only way they make sense is to train, preferably with a high level teacher(s). If you periodically refer back to the Founder's writings, especially the doka, you'll find that each time, you have a better understanding of what he might have meant. I say "might" because no one actually knows precisely what he meant. But you will certainly develop your own understanding and things that seemed incomprehensible at one point will make some sense to you later. But only if one trains in a way that is designed to illuminate the deeper principles. A lot of Aikido training simply won't take one there.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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