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Old 11-29-2004, 10:24 AM   #17
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Budo and Buddhism

In Japan the lines between different religions aren't distinctly drawn in ones life. A samurai's spiritual life could easily include elements and practices from Shingon, Zen, Shinto etc. While interesting from an historical standpoint, I think it is important for us as contemporary martial artists to reflect on the function that spirituality had for a professional warrior.

Michael Ryabko, of the Systema, said that his Orthodox Christian beliefs are crucial in balancing off the fact that they spend their time training to kill. Without a solid spiritual base behind their practice it would be too easy to fall prey to the "Dark Side" so to speak.

Toby Threadgill Sensei's teacher, Takamura Sensei placed a lot of stress on proper ettiquette and comportment when doing training such as Iai jutsu or tameshigiri. Failure to do so left ones spirit open to influence by various demons or malevolent influences which float around looking for human victims. He might actually perform a purification on someone whom he felt had not trained correctly before he'd allow them in his dojo.

In my opinion this is important for Aikidoka as well. Some sort of interior practice is important if the practice is to be something more than mechanical. I don't thnk this has to be erligious though. Even a serious internal practice such as those we would lump together as "therapy" could fill the bill.

If you read the threads on the various Aikido and even other martial arts websites, there is a difference in tone between the "secularists" who just focus on technique and don't care about anything else other than being able to defeat another fighter and those who look at their practice as a form of internal training and/or have done or are doing some other form of internal practice. I have met some very tough fighters who are incrdibly knowledgeable about combat related techniques and issues whom I wouldn't want to use for a role model in any way. They are just tough guys. In some cases, pretty nasty tough guys.

It is the spiritual component of ones practice which keeps one from devolving into just some fighter whose claim to faim is that he can demolish other human beings.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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