Thread: True Warfare
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Old 10-26-2011, 11:40 AM   #99
mathewjgano's Avatar
Dojo: Tsubaki Kannagara Jinja Aikidojo; Himeji Shodokan Dojo
Location: Renton
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Re: True Warfare

Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I still haven't quite figured out this thread, so I am going to simply address some points within the thread which I feel make a coherent point...

1. The old-school of thought here is in a fight, win immediately and decisively. I think this a is Daito Ryu point and I believe there is a quote from Takeda on this point. Beat your enemy's spirit before ever lifting your sword, blah, blah, blah. I think we are talking about a concept that implies you have defeated your partner at the point when you join (aiki).
2. The love stuff is something about which we can concern ourselves occurs after we have the connection part. I think the argument I consistently hear and see evidence of is that many of us are ignoring this order and skipping right into the love is all you need thing. As my math teacher used to say, reading the answers from the back of the book helps you find some solutions but eventually you get a problem that you can't cheat.
3. The duration in which we train aikido have no direct connection with our skill. Aikido is the only martial art of which I am aware where we promote by perseverance- "don't die and we'll promote you." I have heard senior after senior use this argument and I think "geez, this guy has been training x years and he can't even do y technique?" If I were a model railroader and you came to see my models and they sucked, what would you think if I told you I had been model railroading for 25 years?

These three points illustrate that our education process is flawed. I get upset because I need my seniors to know what is going on so I can learn from them and they can get everything from the deshi before they all pass on. I do not see that happening because too many students are being fed BS at a time when they are susceptible and not questioning the material. "I said this and one time I saw a video of sensei so I know what I am talking about." "I said this and I have been training for 20 years." I think many of these posts are trying to politely solicit some supporting evidence for posts.

Aikido is about facing confrontation. Somewhere we got this notion that we evade confrontation. Then we took out anything that could be ugly. Warfare is confrontation and it is ugly. So to some, their aikido cannot comprehend confrontation or ugliness. To others, the severity and resolution of committing to annihilate your partner is foreign. To yet others, the suddenness of absolute connection before your partner even touches your body is foreign. Be open about these lapses and justify why your aikido omits them, but don't pretend they don't exist in aikido. Or, if you advocate they do not exist, be prepared to step onto the mat with someone to share that conviction.

P.S. I wrote this post with more harsh language because some other posts have already addressed these issues in a more appropriate manner and were not met with a response. I respect good aikido and would be a fool to think any one person could have it all. I personally enjoy sharing experiences with peers about why their aikido feels different and how their convictions affect their aikido.
Nicely put. I think part of the problem, as usual, has to do with semantics. To the degree we have differing understandings (and we all do), we have different semantics to our words/concepts. I think this is at the heart of the doka referring to the inability to capture aiki with the brush/pen; where words fail to be adequate on their own, and where physical interaction becomes the crucial learning tool...and even that requires a degree of magnanimity on the part of the people involved to share all we have to share, never mind the humility to accept what the other is presenting and allow the other to process the information on their own they will no matter what anyway.
In the loosest sense, if someone practices Aikido, and some given behavior stems from that practice, it's sometimes referred to as "aiki" in the sense that it's in some way aiki-like (e.g. I do this a lot: "everything" I do is "aiki" because it reflects my understanding of aiki, very incomplete though I know it is). So the sense develops that whatever I do is "aiki" (aiki-like in some way). Someone else comes along and considers aiki as a very discrete thing (i.e. aiki-like necessarily isn't aiki). Then comes the issues of ownership: how can one ask me to redefine my practice; to accept the notion some central concept is essentilly flawed when they have little to no exposure to it? It's mine and I know it's not perfect, and because I understand the incomplete nature of my own understanding, it's not for other people to tell me what to make of what is essentilly mine. I relate this to a disstinction between concept and reality. The concepts, based in personal semantics, are individual in nature. Whether we like it or not, they are personal; we cannot escape the personal nature of discussing concepts, particularly when they have to do with life and death issues as budo concepts are apt to do. I personally have very very little problem being told I'm wrong. My ignorance is central to my personal way of life and has been for the better part of my short 33 years. It's the safest bit of information I have (I trust in it more than anthing else). Still, I find I have to check myself on it....and it's from these ideas that I get one of my personal catch-phrases I'm most proud of: knowledge obfuscates as much as it reveals. Metacognitive practices are hard if not impossible to be perfected because we're too close to see ourselves from an objective viewpoint. It's kind of the root of the human condition, my opinion.
One of the beautiful things of Aikido to my mind is the concept of musubi because it seems to imply an attempt at bridging this gap. The "au" and "n" (inspiration of "aun"kai, if I'm correct) guarding shrines reflects, I believe, this attempt at intuition of "true" understanding, of a "true" (instant with no lag) state of connection beween different people and things. It's a wordless understanding expressed in two sounds, which reflects someone starting to speak, and someone else instantly recognizing the meaning. Again, as I understand study has been wanting for some time now, so I appologize if I'm just adding to the proverbial noise in the signal.
Part of what Jon is describing above I think of in terms of my Public Education training and is why I like talking to martial artists despite my lack of training: testing. You can test in a variety of ways, but the most useful in my opinion is the kind which ideally happens at every instant of the learning process. Truly, if you're testing this way you do not really need formal, standardized testing so much because it's built into the learning process. It's also what I really like about my personal experiences with learning Aikido. In the past I've referred to it as the ability to play with technique. It allows a degree of spontaneous bouncing back and forth of ideas, expressed through the actions we take, and as long as our truest goal is to learn, evenually the interaction will settle in that regard. The problem comes when we start wanting other things, like asserting the validity of our own understanding. The intent becomes less pure and splits, creating results that are centered around something other than mutual understanding.
And now having read all this I can't help but feel my words fall terribly short, like perhaps I'm focusing too much on my own understanding and as a result am probably missing out on some bigger picture. It is whatever it is, and here it is for review.
For whatever it's worth, this is my take on True Warfare.

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