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Old 01-07-2013, 11:26 AM   #44
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Boston
Location: Peterborough, NH
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 653
Re: Morihei Ueshiba's Use of the Term "Aiki"

Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
People, (after I noticed the quote in Alan Ruddock's account) quote Ueshiba as saying that "you do not understand yin and yang" (actually, he said, Izanagi and Izanami, and it would be facile to assert that there are no nuances of difference here - it was changed to the former because the interlocutor decided that people wouldn't understand and they were, after all,in his opinion, the same).
I've heard this before, but what's the source? Is there original Japanese somewhere, and is that it?

I ask because as you say, I think it's important. So far as I can tell, when O-Sensei went off on Izanagi and Izanami he was talking about dual opposing spirals--a concept which includes yin and yang but adds layers of complexity, and makes this particular quote much more specific to the IS/IP skills.

Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Since Ueshiba apparently chose to apply a term to a number of apparently different, even contradictory experiences, thoughts, attitudes, I doubt very much that were he less bewildered, he might have called his spiritual ideas, for one example, by some other term. On the contrary, I think it's clear, despite others' wishes to the contrary, that for him, aiki had the same nature, despite its different forms and all his different assertions.
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
So when asked, all of the above examples would give an expansive wonderful and pithy commentary on their particular shtick being grand, multi-facted, multi-layered, and a deep and worthy life long pursuit. How many people want to say "I spent my life studying better ways to kill people."
Which doesn't necessarily make the spiritual insight irrelevant. Nor does O-Sensei's experiences in WW2--especially if he really was close to some of the more nationalistic elements in Japan before the war--mean that the spiritual insights he came to aren't valid. People are allowed to mature as they age.

But the point you raise about power is, I think, critical for considering the relationship between aiki the marital skill and aiki as spiritual enlightenment. The people you mention came to the spiritual insight through development of the body skill which led to physical power. Is that a coincidence?

There are all kinds of spiritual insight placing us in relationship to the divine, however you understand that. What's unique about this particular path? Does it matter that it's based on mastery over the self and the imposition of harmony on the self ("imposition" in that it doesn't happen naturally--you have to work at it), and the use of that organized, centered self to impose order on the world? ("Impose" in this sense being different from "force"--just as I can't force a technique, but have to allow it to happen through the use of my organized body and movement.)

And what about the converse? If you pursue a martial art which is centered on power but not aiki (karate, boxing), what spiritual insight comes from that? Looking at the top boxers in the US right now, I'm inclined to say, "not much." What's the difference in power from aiki?

And what if you pursue an art which basically doesn't care about martial effectiveness? Do you end up with an art which produces neither power nor spiritual development? Aiki-no-michi might be a counter-example--anybody have any experience with it?

My own attitude is that body and mind are trained together, and it matters how and with what intent you train the body. And that, I think, leads back to Ellis' point of view, and how O-Sensei could refer to these very different things as "aiki"--and why he could promote Aikido as an art of love--not because you could avoid the hard work but because through the hard work you got achieve spiritual enlightenment.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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