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Old 08-20-2012, 01:34 PM   #115
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
Location: New York
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,302
Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Nicholas Eschenbruch wrote: View Post
Hi Marc,
I think what you write is on some level true, and I deplore a lack of accountability in many aspects of aikido as well. But I think just calling people out for testing is not helpful considering the purpose of more constructive discourse.

For one, there is no inbuilt right to ask for a reality test in internet conversation on anybody's specific terms. That is just not part of the medium, and I doubt it will ever be. As a consequence, if somebody is deluded about what they do, well, all evidence will be interpreted that way. After all, we are not even sure these other people exist under the names they give here in many cases. So conversation that is just about calling people out to whatever reality test is unhelpful unless that person wanted somebody to. Repeating it n times is mostly pointless.

Second, I think talk about testing is really a veiled definition trap: what is tested, which rules, who is the judge, etc. We will not get any agreement. This is not MMA or power lifting.

Third, I think there are few, if any, people on the IS side - except Dan, who does not do aikido and does not intend to or want to do aikido either - who can yet walk the talk regarding the promises of IS. (You may be an exception, we have not met.) I hope that is going to change. But I think that a lot of zeal is invested into this debate that curiously implies to a bright IS future we imagine.



I do not think that anybody simply call someone out for "testing" for laughs and giggles. We listen and think about ideas that people have put forward and some of them resonate to a point that we want to see how they translate into what we think that we do.

The limitations with the internet as a means of communication regarding tangible entities (such as martial arts) are obvious. I think that it is important to challenge and ask questions to things that seem far fetched. I do not believe that delusions should be allowed to flourish as "legitimate" ideas.

The "testing" of ideas in person is never perfect, but far better than not doing so. The testing of ideas and getting people to see a larger consensual reality was really at the heart of what the Aiki Expos were. Mini experiences like that are now becoming more common place. My experience has been that these types of encounters have led to bridges being created, respect being deepened and an appreciation of our own limitations in context of the myriad of learning experiences that are out there. I frankly went into my first training with Dan expecting little positive. I walked into a room of dedicated, honest martial artists from many different arts. We all walked away excited by how much more we can learn to improve ourselves. It is typically those who have not gone out of their way to have those experiences (or have walked away from them with minds as closed as when they entered in the first place) who seem to try and discount the importance of these types of encounters.

I think that the convenient tendency to "blame" the IS group/ crowd, etc. has more to do with people's difficulties with owning up to their own shortcomings, than with the actual comments from some within that growing community. I even think that the label is limiting in ways that are not necessarily helpful. I also study with Ushiro Sensei, who would not be considered part of the IS group. My main teacher, Imaizumi Sensei, is certainly not part of that group. Placing me in that group (as some on the Aikiweb would like to do) is simply immature and misleading. I am not concerned about the future of "IS". I am simply concerned about trying to improve myself in all aspects of my life, including budo. I work harder than many to try and become a teacher who can pass down a legacy that resembles the legacy that has been passed down to me by my teachers. It would be a lot easier to not have stepped outside my comfortable world of what I thought that I knew and could do. That is not the path that I have chosen for myself. I will have flown over 50,000 miles this year alone in pursuit of my training (not including driving miles of course). The hours and costs could never be recovered in running a serious school. This is about trying to be the best that I can be, in absence of self-serving delusions.

More constructive discourse will not happen through words alone. Asking someone to do what they say in person is actually a sign of respect. It is not about our egos, but about our art. If we fail to do what we say we can do, then we should have the self-respect to acknowledge that and seek to improve. If we can find those who can do what they say, then they garner the added respect and admiration from those eager to learn. If we can do what we say, can we not claim ownership to it, but seek to pass it on to others so that the respect is about our art.

I hope we do meet some time soon. It has nothing to do with us trying to "live up to our talk." It has everything to do with meeting people on a similar path and helping each other move forward together. The respect that I have gained from these fellow travelers throughout the world has deepened my life and has enabled me to share this greater depth to my students.


Marc Abrams
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