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Old 08-21-2013, 09:34 AM   #20
Keith Larman
Dojo: AIA, Los Angeles, CA
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,604
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

One part of my brain is screaming "run away you idiot!", but the philosophy geek just won't let me...

The problem here goes back, like many things, in to the definition of aikido. Obviously the OP feels that some of the traditions, rei, etc. are an integral part of what makes aikido "aikido". The problem is that since Aikido is a world-wide art studied by a diverse group and not some tightly knit, small koryu, the very definition of Aikido varies tremendously. So what I think of as Aikido can be quite different from someone else. Some see only fluffy aikibunny movements with collaborative partners exploring the energy of the universe. Others see a version of Daito Ryu with a certain type of power and distinctive body usage. Others see vestiges of culture and attitudes.

So for the OP the very definition they hold of Aikido seems to contain aspects like the rei, the uniforms, the traditions, etc. that were around/became part of/evolved from this thing that we do. So if you ask the question whether Aikido is still Aikido if you remove them, well, no, because your definition included them from the beginning. It becomes an obvious answer and for some the fact that anyone would disagree is almost inconceivable since it is basically a definition question.

So I really see no point in discussing it. Suffice to say some people train in sweats and t-shirts. Heck, on the other extreme I know a guy who for a long time would walk around his home and offices wearing geta. I was waiting for him to grow a top-knot, but his caucasian white-boy balding head wasn't giving him enough hair. He couldn't possibly have wanted to actually be Japanese more. And he was quite serious about all those things in his training much to the bewilderment of visiting Japanese sensei.

So carry on. I am perfectly happy with my internal definition of Aikido being different as I'm not as interested in some of the cultural artifacts. However, I bow when I enter any dojo. I sit and watch to see what the routine is and I gladly, happily and hopefully humbly try to do as they do.

More power to you all, even you silly fluffy aikibunnies...

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