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Old 12-12-2005, 01:09 PM   #1
bratzo_barrena
Dojo: Aikido Goshin Dojo
Location: Doral
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Quoting O'Sensei

Hello Ron
There's a big problem when quoting O'sensei, since people use to choose the quotes they like to make valid their own point of view.
Let me show you some examples. (I'll choose the one that are useful for me too)
These are 'quotes' from O'sensei taken from Aikiweb, that I will assume are true.
You will see that they are contradictory.

"The secret of aikido is to cultivate a spirit of loving protection for all things."

"Aikido decides life and death in a single strike"

love-for-all isn't contradictory to the ability to kill-with-one-strike?

another:

"It is important not to be concerned with thoughts of victory and defeat. Rather, you should let the ki of your thoughts and feelings blend with the Universal."

"Aikido is non-resistance. As it is non-resistant, it is always victorious."

So, don't be concern with victory and defeat, but by the way, non-resistans always wins. Contradictory statements? what do you think?

Another:
"Aikido is not an art to fight with enemies and defeat them. It is a way to lead all human beings to live in harmony with each other as though everyone were one family. The secret of aikido is to make yourself become one with the universe and to go along with its natural movements. One who has attained this secret holds the universe in him/herself and can say, "I am the universe.""

"Aikido is the way that teaches how one can deal with several enemies. Students must train themselves to be alert not just to the front but to all sides and the back"

So, Aikido is not for fighting enemies, is about harmony, but at the same time Aikido teaches you to deal with enemies? Contradictory? Very.

So 3 possibilities
1. O'sensei was crazy. I don't think so.
2. O'Sensei was stupid. I really don't think so.
3. O'Sensei did say all those things, but people take them out of context to valid their own personal points of view. I think this is the case (I just did it).
Obviously O'sensei made those statements refering to different aspects of Aikido (technical, spiritual, mental), so those statements must be interpreted in the context O'sensei was refering to, not as absoluts statements.

Now if you think, and use logic, Why would O'Sensei spend so many years and effort training and developing Aikido techniques? don't you see the self-defense aspect of his training? or you don't want to see it?
I don't think we should deny the spiritual aspects of the art, but why deny its physical practical applications? The beautiful thing about aikido (in its technical aspect) is the way it deals with physical conflict, without oppossing to it, but redirecting it. Giving the chance for a physically weaker person to defend against a stronger one. Isn't that great in itself? Why deny that? to feel you're a good person? what, good people don't have the right or need to defend themselves?

Bratzo Barrena
Instructor Aikido Goshin Dojo
Doral FL
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Old 12-12-2005, 01:59 PM   #2
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Quoting O'Sensei

In general I agree with the problems of quoting Ueshiba Sensei. Please see my response in the other thread.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 12-12-2005, 04:46 PM   #3
crbateman
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Re: Quoting O'Sensei

As we all know, O'Sensei's Aikido changed considerably over his lifetime. So might his views have changed. Without a timeline perspective, or even a frame of reference as to what was being discussed when the quotes were taken, such comparisons might be skewed. It also might be counterproductive to assume that what you think he meant was actually what he meant. He often spoke in terms difficult to understand. One must also allow that two statements, even if contradictory, might BOTH be of value. Just my opinion, of course.
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Old 12-12-2005, 04:47 PM   #4
sullivanw
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Re: Quoting O'Sensei

Cool subject! I am of the mind that contradictions or paradoxes invite further exploration - what is the underlying theme? Especially since words can be such a crude medium for conveying knowledge.
My knee-jerk reaction to the three contradictions that were presented are:

1. Love for all must accompany the ability to kill with a strike, lest one become callous and leave a wake of destrucion.
2. Focusing on victory will inhibit one's training.
3. There is a profound difference between fighting with someone and dealing with them. Cultivating awareness is critical.

I agree that it is a problem when people quote O'sensei (or anyone else) without any context and try to interpret his statements for others: "This is what he meant, because [ insert quote here ]." I guess that's what we're always doing to some extent (see 1,2,3, above!), so it's important to realize this and try to keep an open mind. Again, cool subject, thanks for starting it!

-Will
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Old 12-12-2005, 05:38 PM   #5
bratzo_barrena
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Re: Quoting O'Sensei

Quote:
"As we all know, O'Sensei's Aikido changed considerably over his lifetime. So might his views have changed."
Answer: of course O'sensei's Aikido changed over time, who said otherwise? But then what is valid? only the last thing he said about Aikido before? Does anyone know what would that phrase be? Would this phrase invalid all the things he said before?

"Without a timeline perspective, or even a frame of reference as to what was being discussed when the quotes were taken, such comparisons might be skewed. It also might be counterproductive to assume that what you think he meant was actually what he meant."

By the way, my point was exactly that, that there's no reference of context (timeline, subject of comment, etc) when quoting OSensei.

"He often spoke in terms difficult to understand. One must also allow that two statements, even if contradictory, might BOTH be of value. Just my opinion, of course."

No body said because they're contardictory they're not valid, ALL depends on CONTEXT, did you read the thread? read it again.

Bratzo Barrena
Instructor Aikido Goshin Dojo
Doral FL
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Old 12-12-2005, 05:41 PM   #6
MaryKaye
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Re: Quoting O'Sensei

It's also worth remembering that unless you speak Japanese, you are dealing with a translation between two very dissimilar languages and cultures. My dojo has been comparing two English translations of Tohei sensei's "Ki Sayings" lately and they differ quite a lot.

I am not fond of the practice of quoting 1-2 lines from someone's life's work and saying "This is the conclusion X reaches about Y." Generally it's just a debating tactic; there's no room for nuance or shades of meaning, for context, for development over time, or for someone to just plain change his mind. And if you have enough text to pick over, you can come up with support for almost any view you please, as Bible interpreters frequently demonstrate.

Mary Kaye
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Old 12-12-2005, 06:12 PM   #7
bratzo_barrena
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Re: Quoting O'Sensei

Mary,
agree 100%
translating from japanese to english, without context can be very unreliable, and people do it anyway to make their point valid. That's the reason of the thread.
As there's no way to ask O'sensei what he meant, so we just can interpret him, but the problem of that is that any conclusion would be "valid", but necessarlly correct. (I'm not saying mine are correct, I'm talking in general terms)
I think the only tangible we have are his Aikido techniques. And from studiying them it is logical to come to the conclusion that they were created for self-defense. That's why I can't understand that a lot of Aikidokas deny the self-defense aspect of aikido, and JUST advocate its phylosophical/spiritual aspects (I'm not refering to you especifically) based on O'sensei's sayings (as when he refered to LOVE, ARMONY, PEACE) and make of Aikido something more like a religion or cult than what it is, a martial art that goes beyond self-defense (but do not excludes it) with it's philosophical concepts, and I'm not taliking about personal reasons for studiying Aikido, I'm talking about people that consider that self-defense is not a fundamental part of Aikido in general.

Bratzo Barrena
Instructor Sikido Goshin Dojo
Doral FL
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Old 12-12-2005, 10:55 PM   #8
Mike Haftel
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Re: Quoting O'Sensei

The same thing happend in a recent discussion about atemi. Ueshiba Sensei had been quoted as saying something to the effect of, "atemi is 90% of aikido." But at the same time he also said that "the secret to aikido can be found in a single technique," or that "irimi is the essence of aikido."

The fact of the matter is that all of these quotes are taken out of context, out of time, and out of their original language. Meaning will be and has been lost due to this.
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Old 12-13-2005, 03:08 AM   #9
Yann Golanski
 
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Re: Quoting O'Sensei

Quote:
Bratzo Barrena wrote:
So 3 possibilities
1. O'sensei was crazy. I don't think so.
All I have heard about him leads me to believe that he was crazy, or more likely utterly crazy. Erdos -- one of the best mathematicians of the 20th century -- was crazy too. Does not mean that they were not utterly brillant at what they did.

"Everything is true"
"What even lies"
"Yes"
"How can that be?"
"I don't man, I didn't make this up!"

/quoth
//bonus point to whoever knows the source.

The people who understand, understand prefectly.
yann@york-aikido.org York Shodokan Aikido
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Old 12-13-2005, 03:54 AM   #10
xuzen
 
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Re: Quoting O'Sensei

Quote:
Bratzo Barrena wrote:
Hello Ron So 3 possibilities
1. O'sensei was crazy. I don't think so.
2. O'Sensei was stupid. I really don't think so.
3. O'Sensei did say all those things, but people take them out of context to valid their own personal points of view. I think this is the case (I just did it).Doral FL
Some of O'sensei's great pre-war students also did not buy into his mystical hocus-pocus. Tomiki Kenji-sama and Shioda Goza-sama are two very prominent aikido person who did not seem to buy his mystical ki stuff as well, and they seem to be doing not too bad a job of using aikido when situation dictated.

I shall also be more adventurous today and venture to say that many of the first generation students of O'sensei also think that O'sensei is a bit cuckoo. But they all agree to over-look that little idiosyncrasies and learn the physical aspect of O'sensei's teaching.

I remember in one passage of his autobiography, Aikido Shugyo, Kancho Shioda stated that somewhere when O'sensei was around his late fifties, told Kancho Shioda that his physical training has ended and that he must now train in the more esoteric stuff. That is also the same time when Kancho Shioda left O'sensei's Kobukan and started on his own martial journey, separate from O'sensei's more spiritual path.

Maybe it could also be that O'sensei was just a schizophrenic-mania patient and all his mumbo-jumbo is due to his neurotransmitter in his brain causing havoc. Gasp!

OK OK OK, I am sorry for being sacrilegious... I will do 200 push up using my pinky now. Sorry

Boon.

SHOMEN-ATE (TM), the solution to 90% of aikido and life's problems.
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Old 12-13-2005, 07:44 AM   #11
eyrie
 
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Re: Quoting O'Sensei

There is no question that O'Sensei was eccentric, as was Onisaburo Deguchi.
The fact that the quotes are paradoxical comes as no surprise. If you look past the obvious paradox, you'll see that they are 2 sides of the same coin....

Ignatius
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