Dojo: Aikido Center of Los Angeles
Location: Los Angeles
Join Date: Apr 2002
Many thanks, I really appreciate your generous thoughts. My students do a lot because these tapings usually take a good 4-5 hours and often longer (a whole day and sometimes two or three) and a few of my assistants have to take a day-off from work just to participate. It is really a great sacrifice for them to lose a day's pay, they have my sincere gratitude.
The film crew, of course, have no idea of the importance of the tatami mats for our training, so we have to be constantly aware and very careful that our mats are not damaged in any way by the equipment and by so many people trampling around all over the place. This gets to be a lot of tiring work after several hours for my students to monitor. For the film crew, it is just a "floor" so what is the big deal? This is how non-practitioners usually think.
Of course, within this taping time, we cover a great deal of territory, such as the warm-up exercises, ukemi, breathing exercises, the full range of Aikido techniques and we usually include Aiki-ken, Kumitachi, Jo and a great deal of Iaido because we have a very good group of Iaido students here. In a long, arduous two-hour interview, I cover a great many areas of Aikido and I prefer to especially emphasize the philosophy of O'Sensei and Aikido as a non-violent, non-competitive art. It is difficult to encourage them to understand that Aikido is not, like many other disciplines, a sport or simply another combative fighting system. Of course, from the look and atmosphere of the dojo itself, they begin to feel that Aikido is something more traditional and something much more profound than what they are accustomed to seeing. The beauty of the dojo helps to convey the spirit of Aikido as a more refined art, I am happy to say, and I use it as a good lead in here.
I wish they would have included more of the information I gave about O'Sensei and Aikido as a great martial art. I would have liked them to include more Iaido as well, but we have no control over this.
As an example, you might be unaware of this but the interviewer in the final product you see aired on tv or cable is not the person who interviews me. There is first a writer or researcher with his ideas, then there is an interviewer who talks to me and he has his own ideas, slant and impressions and than all of this goes to the editor who cuts out and leaves in whatever he chooses to make the show. They get another interviewer (the voice), sometimes a celebrity or someone I have never met, to talk and ask the questions according to what the editor has provided as a rough draft of what will be shown. Then, my answers and responses are added in last to coordinate with the final questions posed. Many times, what I say, has really nothing to do with what is asked on the show. These shows go through some many different hands and numerous editings so what is taped originally is often completely lost.
In other words, I am talking to a totally different person and whatever I say is taped and later edited in to match the final questions and dialogue and made to fit what they finally decide as the end product. This is why occasionally my responses do not seem to really match what is being said or asked. By clever editing, they can give your words any slant they choose. For someone who has never seen Aikido before or to someone who is not familiar with how these shows are made, never realize that the final product is, by far, very different from what was actually said and done. For me, personally, I often do not even want to see the final product because I know it is not even "me!"
I don't want to criticize these programs too harshly because they do serve a very useful and welcome purpose to help get Aikido out into the public - we rarely have this kind of opportnity - we do not share the same "type" of popularity as Tae Kwan Do, combat or contact fighting, wrestling or Ninjutsu or Kung Fu which we see very often in the mass media. Their original intention, of course, as they say, is to show a more "true" or "realistic" depiction of what the martial arts are. However, the final product is always decided with the intent to make money and show a profit - they are a business as they tell me and they need to sell their product. These stations often do not make all of the programs they show themselves. There are many small production companies to create these programs in a format which they hope these stations will buy up. Ultimately, the fact that the program airs means that it was successfully sold to the station programing director. This is generally how it all works. I should also like to say that when these film crews leave the dojo, they are always so complimentary of Aikido and tell me how impressed they are with the art. They are very, very nice people and they are all just doing their jobs as best they can. Many thanks again,