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Old 03-17-2009, 08:42 AM   #22
Location: Harrisburg, PA
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 420
Re: Finding our own way in and out of Aikido

Blair Presson wrote: View Post
At least on the superficial level many of them correspond to what Christians understand and believe and many of the teachings and examples in the Bible. However I do not feel that on the deeper most fundamental aspects of my beliefs allow for a deep journey derived from the teachings of aikido's own founder, though again I am sure there are many principles and "teachings" which themselves would not be objectionable and in fact correspond to my own Christian beliefs regarding how to handle conflict generally.

The question still arises how deep into the training of aikido beyond the learning of technique or form it is possible to go and still call what I practice truly "aikido".
I have several thoughts on this issue, but first I recommend checking out Peter Goldsbury's series of articles on this site titled, "Transmission, Inheritance, and Emulation":

Those articles are a wonderful history of aikido and really get at a lot of the issues of training, intent, religion, cultural context, and how aikido has changed over the years.

The evidence seems to be that aikido for O'Sensei was a religious practice, but that he did not intend for it to be the same thing for his students, and they did not practice it as religion. His son and his students, did however, promote aikido in conjunction with a bunch of moral lessons regarding the nature of conflict. These moral lessons are based on things that O'Sensei wrote and said, but are largely presented without the religious underpinnings from O'Sensei.

With all that in mind, I don't see any conflict between my religious beliefs and studying aikido -- and I do see a lot of benefits in the study of conflict and how to handle in the best way possible. As a Lutheran, I have no interest in practicing Shinto or Ōmoto-kyō -- although I'm happy to learn more about them to better understand aikido's historical context.

It is also worth noting that spiritual truth revealed through budo is nothing new in aikido. "The Life-Giving Sword" is a work from the 17th century that has a lot of the same feel to it as the "aiki-hug" aikido stuff.

Finally, the bowing and other forms of ritual polite actions and respect can bother some Christians and Muslims (at least), but that topic has been dealt with extensively on this board before.


-Drew Ames
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