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Old 03-05-2001, 11:37 PM   #9
Dojo: Jiyushinkan
Location: Mesa, AZ
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 199
Competition is Necessary

"What is Tomiki Aikido" and "Is competition contrary to the aims of Aikido" are two very large questions to answer, mainly because they are so misunderstood. I practice Aikido in the Jiyushinkai, which is a derivative of Tomiki Aikido, and I believe that more study of Tomiki Sensei and what he intended would be good for the Aikido community at large. I am not going to go into that, there are a lot of other better resources than me. I want to express my opinion and bring to light something my teacher told me not too long ago.
Competition is necessary. It is a fundamental of human interaction. Most of us equate competition with winning Olympic medals, in other words, sports applications. The sports mentality is slowly killing Kodokan judo and other martial arts that are "sportified". This is understood. But this is not necessarily competition. This is only promoting the value of winning at any cost while keeping the crowds entertained, i.e. sports. Should Aikido become a sport? Never. Should Aikido be competitive? Yes, understanding the definition of competition. My Merriam Websters shows that the word "compete" comes from the Latin and means "to seek together", with the implied meaning that I couldn't find what I am looking for without you helping me go to it.
Under the greater blanket of cooperative learning and growing together, competition at the right stages of development and in the right dosages have been key to some of the personal breakthroughs I have had on the mat. It pushes me into territory that is dark and scary and stretches my understanding beyond the merely academic. I can do aikido really well at home lying on the couch, in my head. This becomes a totally different story bowing in with a sempai during randori. Competition is a feedback tool that we use along our path to examine and realize our true nature, and I feel that without it, Aikido will eventually devolve into empty repetition of form without any true understanding.
A lot of people read what O-Sensei said but forget who he was as a person. He was intensely competitive in some respects. I really think that what O-Sensei meant was that to really use the principle of Aiki, the person using it never competes. They always cooperate (look that one up), and somehow use the attacker against himself. After the Second World War, he could not go back to teaching the same style of Aikido he did while Occupational Troops were watching all aspects of Japanese budo and bujutsu for signs of "military" behavior. Maybe I'm wrong. But how can uke attack you and mean it if he doesn't compete?

Hope this doesn't upset too many people.

Jim Vance
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