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Old 01-08-2013, 06:25 PM   #5
Ellis Amdur
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Location: Seattle
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 895
Re: religious terminology in martial arts and implication

Phi -

does the "religious" related practice allows the practitioner access the various subconscious states of mind to enhance one's ability/martial prowess? and would that more closer to shamanistic type of practice? or more closer to western, hypnotize oneself for performance/action enhancement?
It is, in essence, a kind of shamanistic practice, and that is, surely hypnosis of a kind. As with anything, the mindset - ideology - context that one puts oneself in a mental state can profoundly affect the experience.

does it also provide the mind a moral compass so one can deal with PTSD? sort of "physician heal thyself" kind of thing? since in the older days where psychological fields didn't exist, so warriors tend to turn to religion, i.e. talking to your priest/priestest for mental counseling?
Let's start by removing "moral compass." Although an individual make experience profound guilt for one's acts, not all trauma is guilt related. On a fundamental level, trauma is a change in how the brain functions. For example, EMDR is a modern therapeutic intervention that seems to show particular benefits for PTSD. It changes the way the brain functions. A particular Shingon ritual, for example, may also change the way the brain functions. This may enable the person, untraumatized, to once again, functionally enact immoral actions. So a whole other area of the ryu's curriculum includes moral teachings (this is often rooted in Confucian ideology). (I'm actually writing an entire chapter on this in my new edition of Old School, so I'm not going to go into too much detail). But the way one dealt with PTSD was primarily rituals to alleviate a sense of being "haunted" and "debriefing" with one's peers. One would almost surely NOT do anything resembling talk therapy or debriefing with a priest.

which bring us to the misogi and kotadama practices that O Sensei did, would that sort of relate to the practice you mentioned in koryu?
I'd refer you back to HIPS because I believe I've done a fair amount of writing on this. But chinkon-kishin, specifically, is a related practice. One difference, however, is that the mikkyo version attempted to create such experiences of shapeshifting/possession to see their fundamental unreal nature - and on a larger level, the unreal nature of all concrete reality. The Neo-Shinto version, as far as I understand, gave it reality. In other words, one really did call up a spirit, was possessed. I am aware of one swordsman who would, before a fight with someone from another ryu, would use a ritual to call up the founder of that ryu and find out the gokui. He was thereby, already prepared when the duel occurred. One can scoff, but he never lost.
Osensei was actually far more religious than most classical warriors, who saw spiritual practices as vehicles to strength, to a considerable degree. Ueshiba, I think it is fair to speculate, lived in a world where everything had immediate spiritual import. It is for this reason that Takuma Hisa explicitly stated that Ueshiba had created a new martial art. (The quote I'm referring to will be in a revised version of a previously published essay, which will be published again on Aikiweb in the near future).


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