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Old 02-16-2005, 08:45 AM   #89
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Competition in Aikido

This is an interesting thread. A few thoughts.

1. In his published discourses Morihei Ueshiba talks much about transcending the options of winning and losing. He often talks about aikido as ascetic training and of being in a situation of 'masakatsu agatsu katsu hayabi': 'real' winning\and in the instant. He compares this with the reverse side of the coin: that of 'arasou-kokoro': the spirit of disputing, fighting, competing. I believe that his vocabulary here is coloured very much by Omoto-kyo, with its beliefs in a new heaven on earth, permeated by love.

2. Morihei Ueshiba is very clear on the crucial importance of aikido as 'shugyou': ascetic training. He came from a part of Japan where 'kaihougyou': 100-day or 1000-day marathon running in the mountains, done by Buddhist monks, was a central part of shugyou. It is certain that he regarded aikido training as part of this tradition.

3. Morihei Ueshiba clearly expected aikido to 'work'. In the few places where he talks about techique, for example, when dealing with attacks from behind (in Budo Renshuu and Budo), he insists that the discernment of the attacker's whereabouts and intentions can come only from intensive and constant training. This is sometimes watered down in translation, but I think he really believed that training would yield a 6th sense.

4. Morihei Ueshiba had his own tried and tested training methods, which he regarded as appropriate for himself, but he did not expect his disciples to follow these in their entirety. I think he expected his disciples to do shugyou, and relate their shugyou to the rhythm of nature as a whole, but to work out appropriate methods for themselves.

5. I think the issue for M Mochizuki and K Tomiki\and also for K Ueshiba, in their own respective ways, was how to translate these lofty ideas into a methodology that would be authentic, that is, be (1) true to the Founder's aims, (2) have no internal contradictions\i.e., would work as a martial art, but (3) would be something that anyone could learn, especially in postwar Japan and also abroad.

6. I think the fact of history should not be underestimated. All of us are accumulations of events that make up our life histories. Martial arts are abstractions of real people with such life histories and there is always a creative tension between the martial art, understood as a complex of abstracted techniques, and the real people doing these techniques in particular situations, be it in a dojo, in the street, or on the top deck of a Boeing 747 during a hijacking.

7. I think a corollary of this is that any particular martial art, or variant, has to come to terms with the fact that it is essentially artificial\it never replicates the real world 100% every time, if at all. So I think that the issue is not whether competitive aikido 'works' more than non-competitive aikido, but whether either in their postwar form embody the Founder's Omoto-kyo inspired vision of a heaven on earth.

8. Competition has been around at least since the ancient Olympics and has embodied all the virtures and vices that come with winning and losing. Thus, talk of the 'Olympic Family' is just as much an ideal now as it was in ancient Athens. On the other hand, millions of people all over the world do competitive sports and are thereby enobled in various ways, just as much as the (fewer) millions who do martial arts. I do not think it is profitable to attempt 'objective' comparisons between sports and non-sports, according to whether one or the other more successfully achieves aims that enable practitioners to flourish as human beings.

Best regards to all,

P A Goldsbury
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