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Old 09-22-2004, 08:33 PM   #43
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,219
Re: Lack of spirituality

Jop den Daas wrote:
Greetings fellow Aikidoka .

Is it just me, or is the spiritual essense of Aikido oftenly ignored by those who teach it? I have an Aikido instructor (I dare not to call him Sensei) which totaly niglects the spiritual aspects of Aikido, can this man even be labeld an Aikido teacher? The oneness, is that not where Aikido is truely about?

How is that at your Aikido dojo, is the spiritual side of Aikido also niglected there?
There are several types of response to a question like this.

One way is philosophical. I noted the Cartesian way in which Mr den Daas initially set out the problem. Descartes spent much time trying to prove that his essence was thinking. Since his very next step was to prove that God existed, presumably Descartes would have agreed that this thinking essence was also spiritual. Personally, I think approaching aikido through philosophy raises more problems than it solves. However, if I did, I would start with Aristotlefs Ethics, not Descartes.

Another way is more practical. Let take an aikido technique, irimi-nage, for example. Does this technique have an essence? If so, is it spiritual? If it does, and it is, should this be clear at the outset? In other words, I am suggesting that it is possible to see irimi-nage done in complete silence, very effectively, but where seeing this supposed spiritual essence requires some awareness on the part of uke or those who are seeing it demonstrated. Equally, it is possible to see irimi-nage practiced rather less effectively, but accompanied by much talk about how spiritual aikido and/or irimi-nage is. How does irimi nage yield its supposedly spiritual essence? I know that the technique is a joint production of two people, including a willing uke, but this at the level of technique and you would still need this even if your aim was the supposedly non-spiritual one of killing your opponent. The technique is practiced in a dojo and is thus artificial, but the fact that your partner takes ukemi and then gets up to do the technique again does not necessarily make it spiritual.

Another way is more historical. When I myself started aikido, I did not set out to look for essences. I was studying philosophy and had quite enough of these in my lectures and tutorials. In any case, all my aikido teachers without exception have been Japanese, so having explanations given in English about the essence of aikido was never a priority for them. Before I started, I had been told by someone that, eAikido is a martial art based on love.f Having my acute skepticism gradually turn to less and less grudging acceptance of the truth of this statement has taken many years of constant training and practice. Additionally, an essential part of this process has been discovering what O Sensei really meant, for it was he who said it, during his lectures\and hardly any of his students understood his words. Basically, this way involves training for several decades and leaving the spiritual aspects of aikido to reveal themselves through the training. However, it is not so satisfying to someone who wants answers, preferably as early as possible.

I am aware that Mr den Daas is not a native English speaker, but he has expressed his opinion quite strongly, even though they are in the form of questions. Not only does aikido have a spiritual essence, or sides, or aspects. Its true essence is oneness and anyone who totally neglects this cannot be called a Sensei. One person who does totally neglect this is Mr den Daasfs own instructor. If I were this person\and I do read the Dutch aikido forums quite regularly (so I often read what my students in the Netherlands think about their aikido), I would have a problem, for I would think I had been totally misunderstood.

Best regards to all,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 09-22-2004 at 08:35 PM.

P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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