Thread: Shu Ha Ri
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Old 07-11-2004, 09:56 PM   #20
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Re: Shu Ha Ri

Hi Giancarlo,

Thank you for replying.

I think I need more clarification to reply properly. I do not think I understand you correctly.

You said:

"I have seen it used to change behaviors and reactions that, while "spontaneous" in a certain sense, reflect an attachment to a way of perceiving the world and one's place in it that is not consistent with the principles of aikido. But these behaviors and reactions are not necessarily replaced with the ability to effectively apply the physical techniques of aikido. "


- If I can fill in your pronouns -- are you saying that you have seen the shu-ha-ri model used at seminars and other types of instructions to modify people's behavior into something that is antithetical to Aikido principles/ethics? If so, can you give me an example of what this might exactly look like? What kind of class was that? What kind of training are we talking about? How exactly was the shu-ha-ri model being utilized in such training? What behavior was being produced and how is it antithetical to Aikido principles? Etc.?

You said:

"Of course, all arts, even extremely formal koryu, are arts of principle rather than technique, so the way I framed that point is somewhat confusing. My intent was to say that in aikido, techniques play a very different role than in other arts. I think we can agree, along with several others, that mainstream aikido, unlike most other arts, does not intend to teach the effective application of physical aikido techniques to real conflicts. It does, however teach something, and I believe that it does so through the process of shu-ha-ri, as you described it. "


- Are you saying, while conceding that all arts are about something more/different than waza, Aikido's difference from these arts is that it is not (even) about the spontaneous application of tactical principles and/or concepts, etc. (e.g. martial applications)?

- Are you saying that Aikido, unlike other arts, uses the shu-ha-ri model of personal transformation to establish a particular type of being that has little to no concern with martial matters and/or questions? Are you willing to make and hold the assumption that shu-ha-ri can remain spiritually potent outside of martial issues within Aikido praxis? I ask this latter point because you used the phrase "as you (me) described it," and I do not think that the way I described the model would allow for such an assumption. In other words, there are very concise motors for self-transformation that must be present for shu-ha-ri to occur -- one of them being the martial element.

You said:

"What that "something" that mainstream aikido teaches is rather hard to pin down. Yet if you attend seminars, visit dojos, or even read discussion boards such as this one on the Internet, you will see examples of it. It is an approach to conflict that assumes that things will never reach the point of a real physical attack."

- Do we recognize this "it" by its difficulty to pin down alone? Are you saying that there is some consensus in the Aikido world concerning the nature of this "it?" Are you suggesting that consensus in someway adds to or determines the validity of this "it?" Does this "it" fit into the grand scheme of things in this way: (summarizing in reverse) "We can see that mainstream Aikido training does indeed produce changes in Being -- an "it". We can see therefore that there must be a mechanism of change -- one that produces this change in Being and which thereby makes up this consensus. We can call this mechanism "shu-ha-ri." For various reasons (which you did not mention), this shu-ha-ri is used to produce a type of behavior that is antithetical to Aikido principles in most cases."

As you can imagine I am very much at odds with such a summary, so I would very much like to know if it is accurate or not concerning your position. All of my issues are centered on the reasoning of attaching what you are describing to the traditional model of shu-ha-ri. While I can note some of the things you note, I cannot note that to be shu-ha-ri or its proper application. Assuming for the moment that I might be summarizing your position correctly, I think there are several things that are difficult to accept. Here's why: 1) Ri is marked by rarity and not commonality -- it has always been this way and I imagine it will always be this way; 2) I do not think that the "it" at the base of Aikido's consensus represents any kind of real change in the lives of most people. I think ego attachment is what folks had coming in, and I think that is what most continue to work with throughout their training. By tradition, it is this ego attachment that is in itself (and as the source of all behavior that is) antithetical to Aikido principles -- not Ri; 3) Ri is not marked by a spontaneity that is a result of an attachment to form. It is marked by a spontaneity that is a result of a non-attachment to form; 4) Though I have said in point number two that no real change actually takes place in most cases, allowing for such a possibility for the moment, it is quite a jump in logic to associate this "change in behavior" with shu-ha-ri since Ri is defined by two major elements. Ri is marked by a non-attachment to form (as was said in point number three), and Ri is marked by a quality of consistency with a given art's principles. In other words, Ri is not synonymous with habit and/or spontaneity in and of itself, and this is true no matter how many other similarities may be present between all three types of body/mind.

- On your last statement, "It is an approach to conflict that assumes that things will never reach the point of a real physical attack." Are you suggesting that folks actually hold this position or are you stating that this is your interpretation of what you see them doing? I am asking because shu-ha-ri as a traditional model for transformation requires a great deal of conscious effort and insight on the part of the teacher -- as I mentioned earlier in this thread. Therefore, if this is your interpretation of what most folks are unknowingly doing, I do not see how we are looking at an application of the shu-ha-ri model. True, there may be a shared behavior, and to some degree that behavior is either cultivated and/or reinforced by training, and to some degree folks are of course "spontaneous" with that behavior, but this is not shu, ha, or ri, nor an application of shu-ha-ri. We are just looking at precisely what I said we are looking at: shared behavior that is grounded in one's personal history (training in Aikido being a part of that personal history) and by which has become habitual.

Or, if you are trying to identify something that folks are consciously accepting and/or deciding upon (e.g. "We are altering are behavior and our perceptions of the world and ourselves through our training in such a way that we "defend" ourselves by utilizing this behavior and perception to not place us in violent encounters in the first place."), I do not think that many folks would openly hold this position. In other words, while there is some logic to it, since it is the classic "violence begets violence" position being used proactively, I would hold that most of the folks that would make up your consensus of "it" do not hold up this "violence begets violence" position, and thus (most importantly) neither do they hold up the position that there waza is useless, martially speaking.

Without a doubt, mainstream Aikido is indeed heading down the way of having techniques that have no martial purpose whatsoever. And, again without a doubt, in some complicated way, this is being combined with and supported by Budo's classic position that waza are not the end-all of training. However, regardless, we are nowhere near that point where most aikidoka believe that their waza is totally useless (for good reason) in a martial situation. For this reason, and again assuming I am understanding you correctly, I find it very hard to accept that we are dealing here with the shu-ha-ri model as you are proposing. There is no consensus and/or current majority of aikidoka that firmly believes and/or expects their waza to be martially useless and/or 100% tactically invalid. Aikido's martial degeneration is happening not because of conscious decision-making to be such. Rather it is occurring because of lack of mature reflection regarding Aikido's own truths, discourses, institutions, and practices. This is how most are able to hold that they are indeed being martial, or on their way to being martial, as they firmly embrace all of Aikido's truths, discourse, institutions, and practices without question, and thus thereby nevertheless continue more and more to make Aikido an irrelevant element in the world of martial arts training.

So, please, before I can respond more succinctly, can you further explain your position by answering the questions posed above -- many thanks.

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