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Old 02-11-2005, 05:47 PM   #28
L. Camejo
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Dojo: Ontario Martial Arts
Location: Mississauga, Ontario
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 1,423
Re: Competition in Aikido

Wynand van Dyk wrote:
Not having competitions is almost a point of pride in some Aikido institutions, what nonsense, how better to curb the growth of an ego than with a good butt-kicking now and then. The flipside to this argument is that Aikido is not competitive - sure, so just take part in the competitions without being competitive, its easy, you cancel the pyro guys who want to install fireworks around the mat for your "entry", you put a sensible pair of pants and shirt on, you give the audience their money back and tell them to go home and you go on and test yourself in honesty and humility against another Aikidoka.
Not a bad idea Wynand, except that the concept of "testing" is taken by many to mean "fighting", "getting an ego trip" or (God forbid) "being aggressive" - things that I hear are very "un-aiki" (whatever that means). As such they prefer the safety of the (often delusional) "assumption" that they are effective at what they do and don't need to test it. To these folks I really hope for their own sakes that they are correct in what they believe. It's part of why they are also met with shock and then severe pain and humiliation when they venture into other practicality-based styles with this attitude. In my world, better to honestly test something to the point of failure so that it can be made better each time. In competition this applies to one's inner fortitude, strength of will, ability to overcome weakness, perseverance, as well as physical challenges. Wasn't it Ueshiba M. who said something about constantly forging the warrior spirit through serious training? It would be nice if we had some of his quotes from earlier on during the hell dojo days and when he had just left Takeda S.

Wynand van Dyk wrote:
In Aikido, because of the lack of competition in most schools, there is no official "pecking-order" based off of skill, often this manifests as a competition for who can brown-nose sensei the most, who stays the latest and practices the "hardest" etc... The lack of clearly defined skill levels between ranks often comes up in the much maligned passive-aggressive behaviour of Aikidoka. There is no need for this kind of behaviour in a truly "non competitive art"
Yeah I've experienced this sort of passive-aggressive behaviour too and tend to laugh internally every time. I feel sorry for those sorts, well maybe just a little anyway. Being competitive is part of the nature of many human beings (more than most will ever admit) and wherever there are human beings there is always some sort of a hierarchy being developed, even if subtly hinted at and not solid enough to pin down. If it does not appear in the technical/skill level area it shows up in the brown nosing, the one who gives the most time, most money, buys the most beer etc. To be honest though Wynand, if Aikido hierarchies were to be defined by skill level in "effective technique" then many current instructors in many styles will be knocked to places in the ladder that their ego may be unable to handle. So as they say - "Let's not go there".

Wynand van Dyk wrote:
People often bring up that old chestnut of osensei whereby he declares competition absolutely verboten and taboo. I am utterly and completely convinced that osensei's notion of competition has nothing to do with "sparring" or "randori" and everything todo with the behaviours described in the previous paragraph.
To quote Tomiki K. "Those who understand, understand perfectly." If this sort of objective testing of your abilities is what you truly seek then I'd say make your way quickly to a Shodokan dojo. If you are not getting this experience in your current dojo an idea may be to take up someone with some very good ukemi skills who you trust and the 2 of you agree to go at it with some limitations at first and then opening up a bit as you learn more about each other's abilities. Some good guides to the method can be found in "Aikido: Tradition and the Competitive Edge" and "Aikido and Randori".

Hope this helps. Happy training.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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