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Old 10-29-2013, 01:07 PM   #102
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Dojo: Taikyoku Budo & Kiko - NY, PA, MD
Location: Greater Philadelphia Area
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Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Actually I was referring to the early history of Aikido, primarily when Tohei was just rising in the organization and Kisshomaru was making his presence felt in the original organization. I think a good argument could be made along the lines of Hobsbawm's discussions that an awful lot of what most now take as "traditional" arose at this time. Bits of this, bits of that, some long standing traditions, but many others "created" along that time. These things allowed participants to feel "part of the group" or maybe better yet, part of an "elite" group. Hobsbawm goes in to a lot of this stuff in his introduction to his book on invented traditions. When I first read that a few years ago I kept smiling thinking about the "evolution" of Aikido. How much was done to "meet the needs" of the consumers at the time, all very necessary I think to keep Aikido afloat in a very difficult time in Japan. And the "repackaging" of some of O-sensei's stuff in the more mystical vein also fed in to the stereotype of "mystical oriental arts" that still attracts many. And then notions of being one with the universe, peace, love, understanding, and all that good stuff that really started to kick in during the 60's and 70's. The timing was incredible if you stand back and consider it all.

Anyway, the point of invented traditions is that many things are to some extent taken to be "tradition" that are on closer examination rather recent and to some extent "artificial". They can be more about inclusion (or exclusion), about group dynamics, about creating an identity, about yearning for the mythical days long gone (that often themselves didn't exist). I'm reminded of books like the Hagakure, and various things we still hear today with alarming frequency about "Bushido". Well, today we talk about "budo". But I think there is a tremendous amount of idealized and self-serving views of these things.

Anyway, not really my area, I'm just an amateur that loves to read stuff.

Oh, the pizza reference is about how you can go to Italy today and get a "traditional" pizza. And how people here will argue incessantly about what style of pizza is "truly authentic". All when pizza as we know it was a somewhat American thing that Italians now make for American tourists looking for the "real deal".

Or to put it another way... It's complicated.

Anyway, a lot of Mr. Boylan's threads lately have reminded me of all of that. So I just dusted off my copy of Invented Traditions for when I finish the book I'm on now. All interesting stuff so I'm sorry if I went a bit far afield.

Carry one as they say...
This is a great post, Keith. Pretty much a joy to read.
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