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Old 03-28-2002, 12:16 PM   #26
Dojo: Loveland Aikido
Location: Ft. Collins, CO
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 8
Wow. That was impressive Chuck. Do you cook too? I'm always impressed with your insights.

Sort of a related story. I had a discussion with a friend once over whether or not he considered himself a warrior (He's an aikidoka as well). He told me yes. I asked him what was the point of his aikido.

He responded, (paraphrase) "to find a peaceful, nonviolent resolution to a conflict."

I told him he didn't seem to be practicing for war. After all, last time I checked, war didn't end with everyone walking away with only bruises.

I believe that a warrior is one who trains to kill, not to subdue (although in some cases, subdual is all that is needed). One who either looks for or avoids conflict. But one must strive for that perfection of death AND MUST RISK DEATH.

If you are training to subdue or to "not seriously" hurt someone, you're training for a sport, where every contestant walks away. Although we train for "self-defense", we look upon excess injury to an opponent as unnecessary and brutal.

Therein lies the fantasy. We who practice aikido are not warriors. We risk nothing on the mat where we are relatively safe.

Warriors risk their lives, i.e. military men and women. They truly deserve that moniker, not us martial artists wrestling around with one another in our pajamas.

So the next time we're in line ordering our double decaf caramel mochalatte with a twist of lemon with the patented Starbuck's hot cup protector sleeve, maybe it will occur to us to not take ourselves so seriously.
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Old 03-28-2002, 01:01 PM   #27
Location: Frederick, MD
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 509

Originally posted by sleepyshark
Wow. That was impressive Chuck. Do you cook too? I'm always impressed with your insights.
Yes, I'm quite a good cook, or at least my bride, Emily, tells me so!

Insights? Me? Hell, I generally just react to something I read and these things blurt out.

I'm guilty of not thinking things through too terribly deeply sometimes.

Too much talk, not enough training ...


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Old 03-29-2002, 11:38 AM   #28
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erikmenzel's Avatar
Dojo: Koshinkai Leeuwarden
Location: Leeuwarden
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 594
Re: Warriorship and aikido

Hi Chuck,

thank you for your long answer. Sorry for taking a couple of days to answer, but being of open mind meant thinking about your words, checking them with others I know and of course rechecking my own words (also for strange things that might have come in due to writting English, which is not my native tongue).

I hope I did not offend you by using some generalisations. I am just an ordinairy guy and have no desire in being better or above others. I however do believe in truth and this also means to take pride in that. Sometimes the truth may not be to someones (read mine) liking, it will still be truth.
I have the greatest respect for those men and women that put their lifes on the line to make sure that young smucks like me can live in freedom.

Still I stand by my original post and will again try to clarify it.
your comments struck me as being a bit elitist.
Yet by claiming to do Aikido we are claiming to be elitist. As was explained to me by a Japanese native speaker (and sofar I have had no reason to doubt her) the concept of aiki already holds some claim of elitism.

Hmm. I'd have to say that there are far more differentiations than those -- so many gradations, in fact, that the lines are blurry and grey rather than black and white -- but speaking broadly, I sort of see your point. If I read this right, you're saying foot soldiers can't be warriors and warriors aren't foot soldiers ... or no?
Well you are absolutely right about differentiations. However sometimes crude generalisations tend to offer a clear handle on the subject being discussed.
For the rest you got my basic point here, I hope. Indeed there is a difference between warriors and soldiers.

That studying aikido leads one to some sort of enlightened state of existence and that folks who aren't enlightened are more or less common thugs?
I hope not because then the human race would be in a pretty lousy state. More like growing trees. In the garden you can take care of them and protect them from diseases etc. This does not guarantee that it will be good trees, nor does it change anything about good trees outside the garden.

The fighter just needs to know how to fight. Give him a gun or a spear and some basic training and sent him into battle.

Sounds like the bulk of the warrior class of most societies for most of history. A few elite leaders (wealthy, land-owning, nobility, etc) and a mass of lesser folks who actually do the fighting and dying to accomplish the ends of those elite and their rulers.
I guess here words seem to cloud up the discussion. The farmer that is drafted for battle to protect the land of his lord is not the one that I would call warrior.

soldier. Basicly they are nothing more than an weapon to be used by others. (Maybe these are the reason people dont expect insight or great poetry from commandoes).

Haven't known many commandoes, have you?

And the tradition of the soldier-poet is alive and well and has been a part of both eastern and western civilization for many centuries.
I consulted my literature profesor at the university to ask about this. Soldier-poetry is indeed an important aspect in literature. Striking however is that the amount of soldier-poetry per soldier (if such a measure would make any sense at all) is very very low as where the volume of poetry and writing of warriors of the higher classes is relatively high. Of course there might be a strong age bias in this comparison.

The warrior-savant is the one that trains not only physical skill but other things as well, among which strategy and compasion. He is the one that decides, that chooses.

Sorry, this, to me, smacks much of the archetypes of the Iron John men's movement sort of thinking (Warrior-Healer-Artist-Sage-etc).

A warrior is a person who makes war. A savant is a learned person. That describes MANY of the common soldiery I've known.
This is just playing with words. It is like claiming that the meaning warrior-savant is covered by the separate words of warrior and savant. Just like claiming a cake would taste like the sum of its ingredients.

As whether the ideal of warrior-savant is easy or realistic to achieve is another problem. Still I strongly believe this is what we strive for.

Does the study of aikido (or ANY budo) lead us to a spiritual evolution that sets us apart and above the common man? I don't know. I believe it can, but I also believe it is only one path among many.
Hopefully it does lead people to evolution, but as already is indicated in many stories (some japanese, some western) there are several ways to achieve evolution. Still all seem to focus on sincerity, pride and compasion.

And then we have to examine and dal with the reality of the folks who study aikido (or other budo) for a lifetime and who are still bullies, criminals, liars, cheats, frauds, etc. It happens. Sad, but true. Why didn't the process work for them?
Is the process flawed or are there some people who simply cannot be redeemed?
Claiming the process is flawed?? I think the process is perfect. Unfortunatly at some places the process is changed, adapted or improved in such a manner that no knowledge or understanding of the actual goals is maintained. Another thing is that some people cannot be redeemed simply because they dont want to be redeemed. In the old days this problem was solved (a bit) by having rather elitistic (??) standards about acceptance of students. Nowerdays in the western world the idea of "it should be open and allowed to everyone" seems to be more accepted.
I do know that some of the best people I know are budoka. And some of the worst I have known have been budoka. It's not a silver bullet.
I know, some are nice people, some really suck. Although in my experience people that are older and trained for at least 10 years got a pretty good chance of being in the clear.

To set ourselves above our peers simply because we study aikido/budo is arrogant at worst and self-delusional at best.

It's a great fantasy to think that we're studying the Way of the Warrior and that we are sealing unto ourselves some greater ideal. However, the truth of the evolution spawned by budo lies in the individual, I think, and not in the practice of a particular art.
Still, if one talks about history and makes claimes about how it should be in modern world it is necessary to have a good an descent understanding of that history.
In this process one might find out that some aspects were not as nice as one had hoped for. This does however not mean that the goals and benefits should also be dismissed.
Do I want Aikido to set me above my peers?? NO.
Does it happen anyway?? With some peers it does, others accompany me on my road of improvement.
The differents between these concepts can be found at different places. Even in western history there was a huge difference between soldiers and knights.

Yes, usually the knights were the landed gentry and nobility and the foot soldiers were the poor schmucks who were forced to fight the battles and die so the nobility could keep or add to what was already theirs.
And those who thinks things are better nowerdays because some countries claim to be democraties are maybe a little misguided .
***Erik puts on asbestus flameprotection suit and ducks***

Kisshomaru Ueshiba quotes in his book "The Spirit of Aikido" Guy Bonnefond, who says:

Yes. Great marketing that! Seems to have worked quite well!
Marketing, or just another example of how the feeling of Japanese superiority translates into communucation??

So where does come into the equation, one might ask.
The connection is made between the savant part of the warrior-savant and .

And herein, once again, we must examine the root of what DO means in regards to budo (and thus aikido) and likewise, examine its relationsiup to jutsu.

Many excellent martial scholars have delved into this (I refer you to Karl Friday, Meik and Diane Skoss, Joseph Svinth and Ellis Amdur, among others) and the concensus seems to be that there is little or no real difference in jutsu and do.
Hmmm, last time I said something like that to a Japanese friend, she almost attacked me for my blasphemy, from which I conclude there might very well be an essential difference, maybe one western people miss out on completely. I got the same feeling from explanations I got from Kono Sensei, Tamura Sensei, Ruddock Sensei and some others. Then again maybe their all baised. (Darn, still so much to find out!)

In the end, it is something within each of us which determines our potential for enlightenment. Through the medium of budo, we can attain great heights, but we are not guaranteed to so excel. Unless it's in the heart and spirit and mind of the practitioner to take the lessons we learn and make them a living part of our being, then it's just physical and mental exercise ...
Woow, that is nicely said.

Just as a loose question at the end: Why do we dress up in cloth of the japanese noblese and do we pretend to wield the horrorably expensive weapons of the elite??

I like to thank you again for your post and the ideas you offered.

**Erik bows**

Last edited by erikmenzel : 03-29-2002 at 12:02 PM.

Erik Jurrien Menzel
kokoro o makuru taisanmen ni hirake
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Old 03-29-2002, 01:28 PM   #29
Location: Frederick, MD
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 509
Re: Re: Warriorship and aikido

Hi, Erik!

I'll post a more complete answer later, but here are a couple of thoughts:

Originally posted by erikknoops
strange things that might have come in due to writting English, which is not my native tongue).[/i]
I wish I spoke German or Dutch as well as you write English!

Just as a loose question at the end: Why do we dress up in cloth of the japanese noblese and do we pretend to wield the horrorably expensive weapons of the elite??

The 'standard' dogi aren't necessarily the clothes of the noblesse. Kimono and hakama were the 'sunday-go-to-meeting' dress-up clothing for anyone who could afford them.

The current judogi most aikido folks wear is actually an adaptation of everyday dress and western-influenced (remember that Kano was a western-educated teacher outside the dojo) exercise pants.

The hakama appeared in all classes, all strata and all kinds of places during Japanese history.

And I wield the weapons of the samurai because I like to whack things.

More later!


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Old 04-09-2002, 06:18 PM   #30
Gopher Boy
Dojo: Takemusu Aiki Sydney City Dojo
Location: Australia
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 36
Hi all,

I am quite new to Aikido but am naturally very flexible.

Despite this, seiza can be quite uncomfortable for me. My knees hold out just fine but my problem lies in some truly shocking circulation. I find that after any more than 10 minutes, my legs are almost aching for want of blood and I have to move to a cross legged posture. In my dojo (as with so many others it seems,) this is no problem and infact, many people as high as 1st kyu often sit soley cross legged.

My question is this - does anyone else suffer from bad circulation and has seiza helped them to improve?

I also have a rather bad back (due to bad ankles,) and find that seiza helps immensley in keeping it relaxed and in a more correct posture. I seem to find myself sitting in seiza regularly outside the dojo too! Not for to long though

There has been a lot on the ettiquite of sitting in seiza and this is something I am not too well versed in. I think though, from a practical point, it is far easier to move or get up when in seiza than cross legged so it is a backlash of Samurai needing to be constantly on their guard, which is good practice for everyone - not allowing openings and all that! Additionally, when in the dojo, height varies greatly, with many Japanese being shorter than the average western person. Sitting (in any fashion) means that everyone can see eye to eye (more or less), thus making it easier to teach.

Personally, I enjoy sitting in seiza, which is good as we all have to for suwari-waza!

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Old 04-11-2002, 06:12 PM   #31
Dojo: trad
Location: UK
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 69
Seiza Challenge.........

One of my sensei's told me a story about a visiting Japanese instructor who came over to the UK. This Instructor sat down in Seiza at the start of the class & didn't move. After about 5 minutes one person stood up to stretch his legs and was asked to leave the mat. One by one people stood up & were again asked to leave to mat. After a few hours there were only 3 student left on the mat. My sensei said that it was one of the hardest & rewarding sessions that he ever had.
He then suggested that we might like to try sitting in seiza for one hour when we had nothing better to do at home. Leaving the decision up to the individual if they wanted to take it up or not. I did it once and it was very very hard. At the end I was glad that it was over. However it gave me a real buzz and I was extremely please that I had complete it. Even now number of years later I still find seiza painful but I am comforted and relaxed by the thought that I can manage at least an hour.
( If any of you also crazy enough to try this be very carefully about getting up. Bow forward first and let some blood back into your legs. Then roll over & sit on your backside and massage your legs & toes. Make sure your have the feeling completely back in your legs & feet before you even attempt to stand. If you try to get up too fast your are likely to either break some toes or fall over & hurt yourself. Also don't do it on the bare floor, sit on a couple of towels folded in half .... good luck!!!)

Last edited by JPT : 04-12-2002 at 02:37 PM.
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