Dojo: Tidewater Aikikai
Join Date: Sep 2002
Well, umm, first of all, what does your name mean anyway?
Secondly, and to the point, I do not recall using the word "ancient." As a matter of fact, it was someone's else's reply that used that word, and not even in reference to aikido.
What is the measure that you and other people here use to determine what is old enough to be tradition? Certainly 60 some years cannot qualify as ancient history. But seems quite enough time to be classified as tradition. Of course, this is also an Asian cultural perspective; Asians in general value tradition much more than Westerners. For good reason: compare 200 some years of US history to over 5000 years of Chinese history. Although I don't know the exact number off the top of my head, a couple millenia of European history does not compare either.
Before I can answer why I feel it is important to "blindly" follow tradition, first I need to know why is is blind to do so? Part of the answer I am sure lies simply in different cultural values.
But let us look specifically at aikido. Will anyone here say that aikido has improved or flourished beyond its form left immediately after O'Sensei died? Is aikido getting "better?" Are people getting closer to attaining the level that he did? And when I say people, I mean those quite far removed from O'Sensei. Not his uchideschi. They perhaps are close themselves, but even so, would never admit it, even if they really believe it. Or will you say that aikido has declined? Most replies I have read have implied that evolution, in the negative form, is inevitable. That is human nature, the nature of change, so people have said. I agree. Such is the case with all things humans get their hands on. Other's have implied that aikido IS flourishing. Thus growing in a positive manner? How is this so? because of the "selection" we have now of all the types of aikido to choose from? "Martial" aikido, dance aikido, aikido for self-defence, ki aikido tai-gi's, "new-age" aikido.... Soon won't we see Billy Blanks types of aikido tapes out there? Or is it too late?
This is the dilution. This is not flourishing. Because of our desire to "make it our own", we have separated this budo into too many entities, all missing the point of aikido if not integrated. Case-in-point: you pick your favorite martial art (well, I guess aside from aikido) and tell me how many types there are that exist. Sport, cardio, meditative, exhibition. Same instance, same process, same dilution.
Direct result: lack of martial attitude in practice, lack or deficiency in martial effectiveness, loss or deemphasis in spiritual development, pre-mature so-called "understanding" of ki, argument and bickering as to whose style/system/dojo/affiliation is better.
THIS is why we need to follow tradition. Because, aikido was not meant to change anymore. When O'Sensei died, after he gave us the aikido characterized as "post-war" it was "perfected", changed enough. It was, it is already something that we need to work with and study, NOT study how we can make it characteristic to ourselves. This is tradition. The proof obviously shows what happens when we don't follow it. I am biased, that is evident especially when you all read this: who are we to think we can start modifying this art until we reach the level that we first found it at? Mastered the art? Fine, then you get to start changing it. And face it, mastery of aikido is an unfathomable task to us mere humans. Or maybe herein lies another problem: those people out there that do think they are attaining mastery.
I have not mentioned at all that this is an epidemic only in the US or the West in general. It's happening in Japan too. I would venture, and I may be wrong, but that the severity is less in Japan than in the West, especially the US ("We are colonizers, Pilgrims, forgers of a new path in the America's").
Asia, and Asian culture is not perfect. Following tradition is not perfect. The socioeconomic muck plagueing China plainly shows this. But that is another story, for another forum, another website.
But, WE WERE GIVEN A WORKING MODEL. Not a prototype. It worked, in EVERY aspect. Not everyone could make it work, but the one guy that figured it out made it work. That is why we need to follow tradition. It is not blind, we are blind from our own ambitions.