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Old 05-13-2004, 05:21 PM   #16
Dojo: Chicago Aikikai
Location: Chicago, IL
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 78
Re: Poll: In your opinion, what ratio of "martial" and "art" is aikido?

I wouldn't call myself a hammer, maybe "chisel" would be more apt...

Maybe the question here is less one of content and more one of causality. Certainly, the "martial" and the "art" in Aikido feed off each other, in kind of the same way chickens lay eggs that hatch chickens that lay eggs, etc.

This still doesn't answer the question of which comes first. As I'm only 1st kyu and have been training for 3 years (summers excluded), I don't know what Aikido looks like from the great heights of a 3rd or 5th or 7th degree blackbelt. That said, I think the martial tends to precede the spiritual, at least initially. I do not intend to say that the spiritual stuff (mumbo jumbo I've heard some call it) is unimportant; in fact, I would say that without it the martial aspects don't really work all that well. At the same time, there is no way anyone can experience the spirit of aiki without training long enough to become comfortable with the basic physical or martial movements.

So, I would say the ratio of martial to spiritual varies according to the length of time spent training. Hypothetically, you could say that up until shodan the aikidoka focuses primarily on the martial: if you can get the technique to "work" without injuring yourself or uke, you've got something. After a few more dan rankings, the purely "martial" begins increasingly to feel like child's play and you start focusing more and more on the spiritual aspects of the art.

So, if my theory is correct, it'd be 90% martial 10% spiritual for beginners, 10% martial and 90% spiritual for shihan, and somewhere in between for everyone else.

Yours in ukemi,

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