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Old 07-17-2003, 10:39 AM   #32
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Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,471
David Y, and others,

Not to keep patting ourselves on the back, but...

I do agree with your position on Shu-Ha-Ri. Thank you for the attachment. I am forwarding it to our dojo email list for my students to read as well.

I also think some of the "doubting" in some of these other posts, regarding your position, does not really address the issues you have raised. Obviously, it's not what a person calls it, as much as the process being present or not that is important. We are talking about substance here after all - so don't fret. I get your point.

And, one should realize, call it what you will but without a process that takes one from form to a reconcilation between form and non-form, and without some great deal of insight into traditions of thought like Confucianism, etc., Budo would be non-recognizable. Why?

To be simple, perhaps overly simple here, Budo delineates a deep process of trasnforming the self. In a way, it is the Shu-Ha-Ri pedagogy that marks this path of pentration. Another way of looking at it might be: It's the means by which you bring something from the outside to the inside - such that in the end no distinction between the outside and inside can be clearly drawn. Without this process, what is outside remains outside, and what remains outside can only ever be called "superficial". Superficiality is the very antithesis of Budo training. For example, please note above that those of us pushing this post along have used words like "real", "authentic", "sincere", etc. - and all of these words are nothing more than an attempt to deepin (be less superficial in) our Aikido.

Thank you again,


Here I've pasted some of the text from our training video. I think it's relevant to what we are saying here and hope you all might find it interesting.

Text starts here:

By what means am I subject to form and spontaneity? What is the nature by which the greater Self is both trapped in bondage and potentially set free? Wherein lies the bridge between theory and practice, thought and action? By what praxis is the mind unfettered so that it can at all times remain compassionate and wise - even in the midst of violence? These are some of the questions at the heart of Budo. These are the questions that are to be addressed in this video, "The Shu of Ri, Drill #1."

For centuries now the Budo traditions have entered this realm of apparent paradoxes via the training model of "Shu, Ha, Ri." It is through the codependent stages of Shu, Ha, and Ri that the martial artist matures from the novice to skilled. "Shu", or the construction of form, is the first step, Primary and mandatory is Shu. In Shu the budoka shapes the mind and body according to the Way of his/her tradition. It is followed by "Ha," or the deconstruction of form. It is in Ha, through Ha, and with Ha, that the budoka tweaks, twists, and warps his/her tradition, such that its borders come to be known, and all for the sole purpose of having its interior reach a sublime level of penetrability. The end of Ha is marked by a clarity. It is through this clarity that the distinction between the artist and his/her art, between the aikidoka and Aikido, between the subject and the object, begins to blur and fade into meaninglessness. This is "Ri". This s the space/time of spontaneity. This is the reconciliation of Form and Non-Form. And this is the first real time that the budoka has gained access to true Budo.

At Senshin Center, this ten thousand mile journey begins with this first step: Drill #1.

Drill #1 is in line with the ancient spiritual mystery of "Peace through Violence." For at the heart of a human being who is sublimely compassionate and loving stands a warrior who's mind is unfettered by Fear, Pride, and Ignorance. How this mystery comes to be solved is ultimately a matter of each practitioner's level of commitment and discipline toward the training, but solved it must be. We must realize that when dealing with the "spiritual" and the "martial" we are not to understand one as a metaphor for the other, nor one as a choice amongst another.

The division between the spiritual and the martial that today pervades the world of Budo is nothing more than a modern invention. It is a reduction born first out of the rarity of those people that were actually able to attain "shinbu," or "divine martialness," that is to say, "the harmonizing of the physical, ethical, and spiritual elements of the human being via martial arts training with the Way of God, or Nature." This division is a perversion reared in the absence of those who could actually both epitomize and yet transcend the problematic of human violence. Later, weaned on fascism and imperialism, the false division in the end matured in the prejudice the elite always make in the name of "mass consumption": "Things need to be simplified."

When we as aikidoka accept this division without the slightest protest, even when we use one side to critique the shortcomings of the other side, rather than being reflective, we remain dangerously passive - the opposite of any martial virtue if ever there was one. In our passivity we are only left to understand Aikido as metaphor, or as symbol. And as such, Aikido, Budo, the Way, has no potency for transformation. In this way, Aikido has become like the map we have mistaken for the territory. It becomes like the picture of food that offers us no nourishment. Here, Aikido is superficial as a transformative process and impotent as a technology of the Self. Our quest, each of us, every aikidoka, must be then to not merely train, but to reflect upon this history, to question it, to struggle with it, and in the end to deepen our Aikido.

Drill #1, as basic as it may be, or even as slow as it may be practiced, will nonetheless put one in a face to face position with the highest ideal of the art itself, namely, with the martial tactic of "aiki." This occurs because, in one way, access to the tactic of aiki can take place only when one begins a process of reconciliation with Fear, Pride, and Ignorance. Drill #1, when carried out properly, is a matter of facing our fears, our pride, and our ignorance. Try to win, and you will lose. Try to do a technique, and you will fail. Try to do Aikido, and you will fail. Try at all, and you will fail.

Here, instead, one will either face the tactic of aiki as a fulfillment of that principle, and thus one will learn to be the embodiment of calmness, grace, and awareness, or one will face the tactic of aiki as an absence of that principle, and thus one will be that which is void of harmony, presence, and power. In the former case, one will come to embrace the attack and the attacker; one will be void of mistakes, showing only a constant flow of adaptation; and one will have entered that paradox that is everywhere and nowhere. In the latter case, one is only intimidated, manipulated, and, ultimately, one is dominated.

As aiki is a psycho-physical principle, so too are the obstacles that keep us from cultivating it. One of the most common obstacles we come to face in our training is the obstacle of Resistance (or forcing, or muscling, etc.). For this reason, this video includes a section on Resistance. For we must realize that Drill #1, being a beginner drill, is one of the earliest times that the aikidoka comes to face some of the more spiritually and physically potent elements of the combative experience, namely: the impermanent and the unknowable. Now, in a sea of the ever-changing, rather than seeking to swim freely, the aikidoka often feels a great need to "not let go of the boat" - to instead cling to the delusions of the predictable, the knowable, and the constant. As a consequence then, resistance is both the resultant and that which is being further cultivated in the drill. This means, as Drill #1 has the potential to bring us into contact with the cultivation of aiki, it equally has the potential to forever keep it beyond our grasp if we are not mindful of what we are doing and/or not doing. In the end then, it is not enough to do the drill over and over.

No mirror comes from the polished brick.

David M. Valadez
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