Thread: Bowing...
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Old 02-07-2005, 08:46 AM   #38
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
Location: Phila. Pa
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 4,614
Re: Bowing...

Ian Hurst wrote:
Michael and Ron, OK I admit, this subject has hit one of my "ON" buttons, so may have been more abrupt than was necessary, apologies for that.
No need to appologize, I do understand your perspective, and I've seen some things in the kinds of environments we're discussing that give me pause. Thanks for keeping the tone civil...its one of the hallmarks of this site.

It may be different in the US, but my feeling is that the UK still has enough of a class system to use this type of training as a means of promoting status, purely and simply, to the aggrandisment of the teacher while being to the detriment of the dojo.
In the US too...but where I see a crucial difference in my own experience, is in having a japanese instructor who views aikido as something more than a martial is a study of culture as well. And as such, some of the things Michael mentioned come into play in interesting ways. If my teacher was not japanese, maybe some of the ettiquite would turn me off more. But I happen to enjoy learning about other cultures (hopefully not just for the role playing benefit ). I think it takes a special person to be able to bring a microcosm of a society that doesn't really even exist to any large extent anymore and replicate it outside of the country of its origin. Its a difficult task, fraught with many dangers. The koryu face an even tougher challenge than aikido...and yet we see teachers like Ellis Amdur and the Skosses doing it. And they are not even japanese.

Also, while I can understand people defending the use of menial tasks in the dojo as part of their training towards the philosophy behind aikido, I have to hold my hand up to being a total atheist on this. My own aikido practice (and interest) is limited to the physical, admittedly with it's emphasis on blending and non-escalation with regard to violence, but not as a path to live my life by, so our views will probably diverge quite dramatically.
I can understand what you are saying here...personally, the more esoteric(?) parts of any practice I find hard to speak can you measure them? What is the test for harmony in life?

I've heard John Stevens say quite often that 'Aikido is not easy'. It really isn't easy...there are many pitfalls (too soft, not enough form, falsely non-competitive, too hard with a cooperative uke, no real way to measure spiritual/philosophical progress, adults playing japanese dress up, etc. etc.). We can all go on and on about these and other issues. Its hard to avoid these pitfalls, to train honestly, to make your best effort even though you're 43, don't train enough, smoke too much, have bad knees and have to go to work tomorrow. So getting on the mat alone is hard enough...then you have to practice shikkoho, kokyu dosa, and after ten years, you still don't do it right. Technique grounded in a foreign culture (what possible use is it today??).

But I enjoy it. Just like the ettiquite, I find it adds something somehow to my life, that I can deal with adversity in new ways, that I can get in sync with people I would have beaten to a bloody pulp before, that I feel better about my life after a good hard keiko.

But it isn't easy...

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 02-07-2005 at 08:49 AM.

Ron Tisdale
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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