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Old 08-31-2007, 05:17 PM   #51
tarik
 
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

Quote:
Mike Haftel wrote: View Post
I'm not sure what, exactly, you are asking here.

But, to me, it's like asking:

How is a spoon a spoon?
How is a spoon not a spoon?

Catch my drift?
Not really, no. I don't know anyone who find their lives changed because of their obsession with and/or practice of spooning.

It seems to happen a lot in aikido. Arguably, such obsession should be tempered, but that's a different thread.

Quote:
There just...is.
Define "is".

Quote:
Questions, like the one posed in this thread, can not be answered using written word or verbal communicaiton. The world must be experienced; it can not be abstracted or defined in terms.
I'd agree with you if you had inserted the word 'solely'.

Quote:
The only logical answer to the questions like, "What is Aikido? How is Aikido Aikido? How is Aikido not Aikido?" would be to demonstrate Aikido ON the person doing the asking.
I wouldn't rule it out and in fact believe that there's a lot that must be felt to make clear what we're talking about, but to say that there is no meaningful verbal or written communication that can be conveyed does not match my experiences.

Quote:
But, this is all just rehashed theories and thoughts from other studies like linguistics, semantics, pragmatics, Taoism, and the Ding an Sich.
And yet much of the commotion discussed on aikiweb.com and elsewhere around aikido is because people have trouble with identifying aikido, agreeing upon it's original intended purpose, agreeing upon other purposes to which it can be put.

Quote:
Go to an Aikido dojo, hop on the mats and find out.
I would hope that most of us do that.

Quote:
Anything anybody talks about, reads about, watches, or thinks about...is not Aikido.
My intent was not to get existential with my questions, but if you read it that way, that's cool. My intent was to find out why the heck so many people who practice aikido have a hard time with other people who practice aikido a little differently, but have no less legitimate a lineage.

That and it's interesting and informative (educational) to me to read how different people approach their practice, what defines it, and even whether the discussion of it is meaningful to them. It's all educational to me.

Thanks,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 08-31-2007, 05:32 PM   #52
tarik
 
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

Mr. Goldsbury,

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
I do not think it lies in the waza, so much as in the lineage. In terms of waza, what I am doing could just as easily be described as some form of Daito-ryu. But we know that what Ueshiba was doing received the name 'aikido' in 1942 and this is enough for me.
And me.

Quote:
So, to conclude, I have never searched for "that set of fundamental things that defines aikido" for me. Some people might have to do this and believe that they are not practising the art unless they have done this, but I have never had to do it.
I'm not so sure that I've ever searched for the definitions of aikido, but I have certainly searched for how to do it better. What I'm very curious about is understanding why there are such strange controversies in aikido. Of course, with some small understanding of human nature, I already know the answer to that question, I suppose.

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
This does not, of course, remove the need for study and I have found that periodically you have to go back to the beginning and recreate things, so to speak. Ecountering new teachers is a good occasion for this, since they invariably do things differently.
Invariably exposure to a new teacher should stir the pot.

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
I think there is a danger that by defining aikido too closely, too specifically, you will exclude much that is useful, even important.
How do we know aikido when we see it? Being specific has it's place, but there is certainly an implicit danger in being a fundamentalist, and that is not my intent.

Regardless, asking the question provided a fascinating view of my compatriots on aikiweb and offers some small insight into how they also approach their training.

Thank you for your thoughts,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 08-31-2007, 09:10 PM   #53
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

How do we know aikido when we see it? Being specific has it's place, but there is certainly an implicit danger in being a fundamentalist, and that is not my intent.

Regardless, asking the question provided a fascinating view of my compatriots on aikiweb and offers some small insight into how they also approach their training.

Thank you for your thoughts,[/quote]

How do we know Aikido when we see it? There seems to be a mentality among the Aikikai organization that stereotypies the Aikidoist methodology as one. This fundamentalist mindset, a sort of martial arts dogma, restrains progressiveness. It's time to change this mindset towards progressiveness, a continuation of evolving Aikido.
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Old 08-31-2007, 09:29 PM   #54
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
What I'm very curious about is understanding why there are such strange controversies in aikido. Of course, with some small understanding of human nature, I already know the answer to that question, I suppose.
Yes, it is human nature. The same thing has happened to Daito ryu, I think. And other martial arts. The only other alternative would be a structure similar to koryu. But, even then, the problems do not go away but are merely diminished somewhat.

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
How do we know aikido when we see it? Being specific has it's place, but there is certainly an implicit danger in being a fundamentalist, and that is not my intent.

Regardless, asking the question provided a fascinating view of my compatriots on aikiweb and offers some small insight into how they also approach their training.

Thank you for your thoughts,
There will invariably come a time when one must choose which "aikido" to follow. Some have already chosen and thus you see Tomiki "style", Shioda "style", etc. As Goldsbury sensei has mentioned in other posts, some people chose not to leave a legacy behind. Their "style" of "aikido" died with them. No one coming after has the choice to follow that aikido.

As one of my teachers answered the question of which martial art is best -- it's the one you are good at and love (paraphrasing horribly). So, it is with aikido. None of the "styles" or "schools" are better or worse than any other. The student is what matters. Sometimes, we lose sight of that. It's why good teachers are so important. They put us back on the path when we stray, not just for aikido training but for all Budo, of which reigi is a part.

Now, I'm straying a bit. I'll get back to the thread topic. The student matters. And at some point, the student will make a choice on which "aikido" to follow. Some will make that choice many times, some just once. But that choice is what will define what makes Aikido aikido to them.

A lot of Ueshiba Morihei's students chose to travel different paths in their Aikido. Very few tried to follow his vision. Even his son went a different way. Again, there is no good or bad, just different. And now there are a multitude of choices in aikido.

Lately, I've been trying to understand Ueshiba Morihei's Aikido. As Clark sensei posted a quote from Ueshiba, "You can't do my aikido; you must find your own." But how can you find your own "aikido" if you do not understand the aikido of those who came before? And understanding Ueshiba Morihei's Aikido seems to be the hardest. But I make no qualms about it anymore -- I don't want to come close to Ueshiba's skill, I don't want to be Ueshiba or equal his skill -- I want to be better than the skill level of Ueshiba Morihei.
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Old 08-31-2007, 11:35 PM   #55
G DiPierro
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

Quote:
Salim Shaw wrote: View Post
How do we know Aikido when we see it? There seems to be a mentality among the Aikikai organization that stereotypies the Aikidoist methodology as one. This fundamentalist mindset, a sort of martial arts dogma, restrains progressiveness. It's time to change this mindset towards progressiveness, a continuation of evolving Aikido.
As a yoga practitioner, I often read articles on yoga that I think apply equally to aikido. One of my all-time favorites in this regard is an article by Richard Freeman that discusses the danger of a fundamentalist approach -- "my school is the only legitimate style" -- on the one hand and the relativist approach -- "all schools are equally legitimate" -- on the other, encouraging a middle path between them. For aikido practitioners, try reading "aikido" when you encounter the word "yoga." I have made this substitution (in italics) in the text of the following excerpts:

"Rather than a direct experience of reality, an unconditional love and freedom, Fundamentalism often causes us to mistake the processes and symbols of aikido for the actual thing. This separates us from immediate experience of the openness of being and our aikido ironically becomes an escape from life, an avoidance of the present moment. Many have even adopted aikido as an obligatory set of self punishments, dutifully done in order to achieve a picture of virtue laid out in our or somebody else¡Çs mind. Other have made it a self indulgence used to conceal a lack of love and relationship, a badge of difference, for an isolated, insecure ego. Sometimes aikido creates competition, envy, loneliness and self righteous feelings. Many of us have found in aikido an exotic religion, a Shangri-la in which to escape unaware. Others still have used hard practice in an attempt to create the physiology of ecstatic trance, to bypass the heart of insight and love where the real ecstacy is. In the social realm differences of technique between schools can bring out anger, fear and competition between aikidoists. Even within the same school, slight differences in technique and interpretation between practitioners brings on painful jealousy and conflict. This not to say that all our aikido world is so bleak. But when we find suffering, clinging, closing of the mind and heart, we must ask, "why"?
...
"We so easily reduce ourselves and others to our theories. We fight for the flag, rather than the (less conceivable) whole of our nation. We cling to an aikido principle out of its context, resting on our beliefs and codes, rather than looking for ourselves with fresh unbiased eyes. We even reduce our aikido practice to theories and techniques, and are then afraid to expose those theories to a natural process of refinement. Real aikido, real relationship, consciousness are lost in this idolatry. Images, mirrors, theories and methods are essential (occasionally precise) tools of the martial art. But none of them can embody fully the thing-in-itself. Every technique, every spiral is an incomplete description, calling out for a context and a complementary counter-description.

"We align ourselves with a doctrine or a school or a myth, because it is efficient to do so, and because it is difficult to bear in mind what the whole school or myth is supposedly teaching. Yet, in aikido the whole teaching is vitally important: the de-coding of the signs and symbols back into the present moment, into our original inspiration. The flag, the name of the school, becomes essential for us. After all, it is only the sign that can be pinned on our ego like a badge [in aikido, there is also rank, which is even easier to attach to one's ego, and which is always linked with the school that issued it], while the whole of the teaching exposes the ego function. An aikido school stained with literalism naturally dislikes both the critical, secular world and other aikido schools. To avoid their own internal transformation such a school or individual creates stereotyped images of the others. When we are about to grow in insight we have to sacrifice both our present self image and the images to which we have reduced others.
...
"[On the other hand,] Relativism refuses all formula, endeavor and exploration to any depth. It reflects a kind of pseudo enlightenment, which crosses a sour-grapes attitude and an anti-form monism to produce an ineffectual, sucrose spirituality. The unity that exists in the unfathomable depths of the spirit is brought up and superimposed on the realm of diversity in such slogans as: "All is one. We need not try. All aikido is good. All teachers are good. All paths are the same!" As sweet and open minded as this may sound, it is actually insidious and dangerous. Consider relativism in other fields: "All music is beautiful. All political leaders are good. All medicines are the same. There is no need to try to communicate with your loved ones." ...any shared, objective reality is ultimately denied by "create your own reality" relativism. It becomes the ultimate rationale, the trump card of cop-outs, allowing us to conveniently forget relationships, responsibilities, communication and any need to work or inquire into deep or difficult subjects."

Last edited by G DiPierro : 08-31-2007 at 11:44 PM.
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Old 09-01-2007, 12:10 AM   #56
tarik
 
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

Quote:
Salim Shaw wrote: View Post
How do we know Aikido when we see it? There seems to be a mentality among the Aikikai organization that stereotypies the Aikidoist methodology as one. This fundamentalist mindset, a sort of martial arts dogma, restrains progressiveness. It's time to change this mindset towards progressiveness, a continuation of evolving Aikido.
Honestly, Salim, my experience does not match yours. I don't think this is an "Aikikai" attitude, per se, although I'll agree that I've seen it there. I have also seen a 'fundamentalist' mindset concerning aikido outside of the Aikikai just as much as I've seen it inside the Aikikai. If there is more inside the Aikikai, I would imagine that it's because the Aikikai is pretty much the largest organization worldwide, with the most different styles. That actually suggests to me that, in general, and with perhaps notable exceptions, they are trying to be progressive and inclusive rather than vice versa.

I've read your thread on Aikibudo/Yoseikan Techniques and found it amusing and ironic that most of the people who tried to offer their different perspective and understanding of history that you disagreed with were not Aikikai members themselves. Did you catch that?

IAC, I've seen good and bad aikido in every [aikido] organization that I've encountered. It's to be expected at varying levels.

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 09-01-2007, 12:23 AM   #57
tarik
 
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

Quote:
Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
As a yoga practitioner, I often read articles on yoga that I think apply equally to aikido. One of my all-time favorites in this regard is an article by Richard Freeman that discusses the danger of a fundamentalist approach -- "my school is the only legitimate style" -- on the one hand and the relativist approach -- "all schools are equally legitimate" -- on the other, encouraging a middle path between them. For aikido practitioners, try reading "aikido" when you encounter the word "yoga."
It was so good I wanted to quote all of it, but it's already right there. I particularly like this part, a behavior which saddens me, particularly when I see it taught. I sincerely believe that damage is done in the name of the 'good' that is being taught.

Quote:
Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
"[On the other hand,] Relativism refuses all formula, endeavor and exploration to any depth. It reflects a kind of pseudo enlightenment, which crosses a sour-grapes attitude and an anti-form monism to produce an ineffectual, sucrose spirituality. The unity that exists in the unfathomable depths of the spirit is brought up and superimposed on the realm of diversity in such slogans as: "All is one. We need not try. All aikido is good. All teachers are good. All paths are the same!" As sweet and open minded as this may sound, it is actually insidious and dangerous. Consider relativism in other fields: "All music is beautiful. All political leaders are good. All medicines are the same. There is no need to try to communicate with your loved ones." ...any shared, objective reality is ultimately denied by "create your own reality" relativism. It becomes the ultimate rationale, the trump card of cop-outs, allowing us to conveniently forget relationships, responsibilities, communication and any need to work or inquire into deep or difficult subjects."
I do, however, believe that this expresses an extreme that most people who live this don't follow completely. I think that such relativists sincerely believe that they are trying, that they are doing the work and inquiring into deep and difficult subjects; but when they don't have at least working answers after 10 or 20 years of training, something important is missing.

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 09-01-2007, 03:31 AM   #58
Christopher Gee
 
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

For me (IMHO)

Shisei
Awase Ho
Kuzushi
Tenuchi

But this is by no means unique.... literally the fact that Ueshiba created it make it unique in that respect.

Osu
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Old 09-04-2007, 06:11 AM   #59
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
Mr. Goldsbury,

I'm not so sure that I've ever searched for the definitions of aikido, but I have certainly searched for how to do it better. What I'm very curious about is understanding why there are such strange controversies in aikido. Of course, with some small understanding of human nature, I already know the answer to that question, I suppose.
Well, the phrase I quoted, "that set of fundamental things that defines aikido", was your phrase, used in one of your posts and so I thought that this was what you were searching for. I think that searching for what aikido is and searching for ways to do it better are rather different. I have never had to search for what aikido is, for it has always been shown to me as aikido. As for controversies, my own opinion, expressed in the series of columns I am writing, is that Morihei Ueshiba never cared to define the art in such a way that satisfies the logical requirements of a definition, as understood in the western (= Graeco-Roman) intellectual tradition. And so, others who have no affiliation to either Ueshiba or the organizations created by his deshi can rightly claim to be practising 'aikido', in the sense in which the name was chosen by the Dai Nippon Butokukai in 1942. I think we need to think more carefully what happened in 1942 and this has some relevance to another thread entitled ‘A New Breed of Aikido'.

In 1942 the Pacific War was moving to a climax and the Japanese military government was using the Dai Nippon Butokukai, created much earlier, to organize the martial arts on a war footing. I think that Ueshiba really had no choice but to have the art he created recognized by the military government. The assistance of Minoru Hirai was sought and I think that Hirai and Ueshiba moved for a while on parallel lines, so to speak. So Hirai became the Soumu-buchou of the Kobukai and represented the Kobukai's interests on the Dai Nippon Butokukai. Much has been made of this relationship, but I have my doubts that it was very close.

I think that it is important to understand that, based on the evidence we have, ‘aikido' was a general name applied to a certain type of art that was defined negatively: it was marked off from other arts. In other words, certain arts could be called ‘aikido' because they were not like, e.g., judo, or kendo, not because they had any positive qualities that signified the essence of aikido. It was not the name of a particular ryu, nor was it the intellectual property of one particular family. I think there is no avoiding this conclusion, based on the evidence we have, and the only way of gaining more knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the naming of aikido is to search through the military archives, if these exist. Perhaps this will be one of my post-retirement projects.

However, it has to be stated that in the public mind the name ‘aikido' after the war came to be associated with Morihei Ueshiba and Minoru Hirai became a ‘deshi' of Ueshiba. Was he really a deshi? I can think of a parallel development after the war. My predecessor as IAF General Secretary was a man named Seiichi Seko. I never saw him practise aikido, but I was told that he was a ‘deshi' of Morihei Ueshiba before the war (though his name does not appear in any dojo lists). After the war he became a strong supporter of Kisshomaru Ueshiba. Was he a deshi of Kisshomaru? In a very extended sense, Yes. But only in the sense that I, too, am a ‘grandchild' deshi of Morihei Ueshiba (whom I never met) because I practise aikido at the hands of his direct deshi.

I think it is undeniable that Minoru Hirai was pursuing his own martial interests long before he met Morihei Ueshiba and continued to pursue these interests after 1942. For a while he became associated with Ueshiba and gave crucial assistance at a time when the Kobukai needed it. Then their paths separated, but I suspect that Hirai had very good grounds to insist that the art he named after his relationship with Ueshiba largely ceased could be called ‘aikido'.

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
How do we know aikido when we see it? Being specific has its place, but there is certainly an implicit danger in being a fundamentalist, and that is not my intent.
I think that Morihei Ueshiba's general laxity in failing to define more exactly what he was actually doing, especially for future generations living outside Japan, has caused problems for his successors, especially the Aikikai. After World War II Ueshiba really became a kind of aikido 'Emperor', as this personage is conceived here. He largely lived in a world of his own, appeared in the dojo from time to time and on these occasions either taught or delivered lectures or pronouncements. Whenever he appeared, everything stopped and people dropped to their knees and waited to see what he would do. Whatever he said, of course, had to be of immense significance and every word was excavated to extract every last vestige of meaning. So it would never have made sense to ask him to define what he had created. It was all there anyway.

The organization he created had a problem, however, and I would love to have been a fly on the wall during the conversations between Morihei Ueshiba and Kisshomaru, especially in the immediate aftermath of Japan's defeat in 1945. There are over ten years in question here, since Ueshiba stayed in Iwama from 1942 to 1955. Morihiro Saito became his deshi in Iwama and we know that Kisshomaru Ueshiba divided his time between the Tokyo Dojo and Iwama. But nothing has come from this period except the reminiscences in Saito Sensei's earlier books and Kisshomaru's own (untranslated) autobiography. For example, Kisshomaru kept his postwar job in Tokyo a secret for as long as he could and all hell broke lose when Dad found out. For me, thinking of the relationship I had with my father (which, I think, was no different from other father-son relationships, as I have discussed these with my own schoolmates etc), this is hard to imagine. But Kisshomaru quietly stood his ground and continued working there until he became head of the Aikikai in 1955.

The fact that Kisshomaru Ueshiba took a job to make sure that he could feed the deshi whom his father had accepted speaks volumes, in my opinion, of Kisshomaru's commitment to the art. I mention Kisshomaru here because it was he who was responsible for defining the essential features of aikido, especially for non-Japanese. He had a big problem with Koichi Tohei, but both saw the need to break away from the old prewar Shinto/nationalist mindset and present aikido as a modern, efficient martial art, which could be understood and practiced by anybody, but which admitted of the same degree of commitment as its prewar predecessor aikibudo.

With respect to the defining characteristics of aikido, I would like to recount some of the issues relating to this question that I experienced on my recent trip to Malaysia and Brunei. (I hope that if any members of the Aikikai Malaysia Association who participated in my seminars read this, they will contribute, if only to make sure that my perceptions are not mistaken.)

My reason for visiting Malaysia and Brunei was to educate myself about the circumstances of an IAF member federation; it was not to give training courses as an aikido shihan. However, I have 6th dan rank and I was expected to give classes. Of course, I did so and afterwards some senior yudansha began to talk to me: they had been training for several years under the direction of a Japanese shihan, but had never before seen the waza that I was showing them (waza which I have been practicing for nearly 30 years in Hiroshima). They had been told that only certain waza were Aikikai waza and that only certain types of training were approved by the Aikikai (weapons training was specifically excluded). I could see the reason for the shihan's concern. I believe (I may be wrong) that Penchak Silat is a Malayan martial art and I know that many of the yudansha were also experienced in this art. I think the shihan, who had some knowledge of the Japanese sword, wanted to mark off very clearly the area of aikido from the indigenous art, but in doing so had deprived his senior yudansha of a way of broadening their own training horizons. The yudansha were looking for ways of testing aikido against PK and so my classes were a breath of fresh air. Was what I was doing aikido? Of course. My training lineage is very clear. Was it Aikikai? Of course, for the same reasons.

Of course, it has often been stated that the Aikikai is not a particular way of doing aikido. I this is why attempting to produce a set of defining characteristics for ‘Aikikai aikido' is doomed to fail.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 09-04-2007, 08:19 AM   #60
Allen Beebe
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

Hi Peter,

I really enjoyed your post. I can really empathize with your statement:

"Was what I was doing aikido? Of course. My training lineage is very clear. Was it Aikikai? Of course, for the same reasons."

I don't know how many times I heard, "That isn't Aikido!" So often that I began to wonder if others were right . . . but in the end, it is as you say.

I sent the following to George some time ago and never bothered to post it, but maybe it will be of use to somebody here.

Thanks again for sharing your insights here. (And thanks to Jun for the opportunity.)

Best,
Allen Beebe

Allen,
I didn't mean to ignore this. I REALLY appreciate your thoughts. I think you
should post this, it's excellent. I've just been so busy. Just got back from
DC and Saotome sensei's 70th birthday bash and seminar. Been booking my
flights for my tow East Coast trips coming up in May and July... Anyway,
thanks for this and stay in touch.
- George

-----Original Message-----
From: kodokanaikido@comcast.net [mailto:kodokanaikido@comcast.net]
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2007 4:42 PM
To: aikigeorge@aikieast.com
Subject: Beebe's Babble

Hi George,

I wrote a bunch of crap and decided not to post it. Still, maybe you might
find parts interesting.

All the best,
Allen

After reading the comments by George here and elsewhere, it made me think of
a post I had made on my own organization's website in order to better define
for my students what our school's vision of Aikido is. I did this in the
hope that it would help my students keep the "big picture" in view while we
focus on the minutia (developing the physical/mental/tactical
characteristics and skills required to efficiently function in a hostile
environment) that is often the substance of our day-to-day practice. This
is our (Kodokan Aikido's 光道館合気道)
view of Aikido, and I'm not trying to sell it to anyone. I share it here in
the sincere hope that it may prompt some thoughtful reflection, even if the
result is a better defining of why your personal or organization's
respective interpretation of Aikido is different from ours.

It seems to me important to know where one intends to go if one
realistically expects to be able to get there, even if one's intention is to
be here now.

[As an aside in relation to George's "The Future of Aikido" piece, when I
first met Shirata sensei I was in the process of "burning out" of my former
Aikido organization of which I had been a member for about 5 years. I was a
bit reluctant to jump right in and join another organization so I waited a
year before deciding that it would be 'OK' to join Shirata sensei's
organization, the Aikikai. When I mentioned this to my sempai at the time
his response was, "Why would you want to?" I decided to let it "ride" for a
while to see if anybody would mention anything, most particularly Shirata
sensei. He never did. In fact almost a decade passed where we trained,
regularly corresponded, and he sent a message, and two pieces of calligraphy
to my dojo opening (he was terminally ill at the time) signed with his name
and title, but no mention was ever made of any of the organizations to which
he belonged and in which he held high positions.

To this day, two decades later, I have the rank that was given to me 20
years ago by my former organization but no rank from the organization to
which my most beloved and respected teacher belonged. And for this I am
most particularly grateful. You see, not only did he give me wonderful
teachings, words of encouragement and an example to aspire to, he also gave
me the freedom to study and learn what he taught. I strongly believe he
knew that, being the nobody that I was and am, if I had come under the
purview of his (or any other large organization) I would be forced to
conform to their norms in order to exist within that organization. He could
get away, to a greater or lesser extent, with what he wanted. He lived and
taught out in the "sticks" (Yamagata.) Besides, he was SHIRATA SENSEI, his
only real constraint was his devotion to his teacher and consequent
allegiance to his family. Even the 2nd Doshu said as much in his eulogy for
Shirata sensei:

"I would like to make it clear that the Aikikai is an organization to spread
a fine Way, yet Shirata Shihan devoted himself not to the organization, but
to the Way. He was devoted to the founder and the Way that the founder had
established. Because of this, he did much for me and for aikido."

Shirata sensei understood Ueshiba Morihei's Aikido to be a Budo AND a
spiritual path AND both should be, and can be, real. I've had students
suggest that I change the name of what I teach to Aiki Budo, or whatever, to
differentiate it from other Aikido schools but I think that this would be
wrong. I teach the best that I can what I learned from my teacher and what
he taught was Aikido . . . maybe different from others, but Aikido
nonetheless.

The strength that I see in George's teacher, IMHO, is his willingness and
confidence in his students. It appears that he trusts them as a conduit of
the teaching passed on by him to the degree that he is not threatened by,
but rather encourages, their drive to seek further insights and
understandings via other sources into the art that they strive to further
comprehend and pass on. With leadership such as this certainly they will,
like the willow and bamboo, weather the storms of change.

What is Kodokan Aikido's Goal?: Kodokan Aikido's ultimate goal is Aikido's
ultimate goal, to make our world a better place by making ourselves better
people. In other words, "Masa Katsu, A Katsu."

How does it work?: The underlying idea is that when we truly recognize our
absolute inter-connectedness with all beings and things, we think, speak and
act from that experience. When our thoughts, words and actions accurately
accord with a balanced view of reality they naturally lead to balanced and
beneficial outcomes.

How do we realize this inter-connectedness?: Our means to this understanding
is paradoxically martial shugyo. The realizations gained from physical
practice can and must, in Aikido, be extended to our life as a whole. If one
hopes to gain real insights one must risk engaging reality. Conversely, if
one wishes to develop and/or maintain their hypothetical/theoretical
conceptualizations one should only practice hypothetically/theoretically, as
reality tends to unsympathetically point out contradictions between our
conceptions and what is actual.

What is the process to gain this realization?: The process is, again, Masa
Katsu, A Katsu, Katsu Hayabi. Yes, the process of Aikido IS the goal of
Aikido!

In order to attain realization via martial shugyo, that shugyo must openly
and honesty accept the hardships and heartache that normally occur as a
consequence of recognizing the differences between what we perceive or wish
to be and what actually is. Shugyo is the process of working hard to
disclose these discrepancies and accord one's self with the lessons derived
there from. This is a practice of honesty and sincerity. This kind of
honesty relies upon one sincerely desiring to change and improve oneself.
This kind of sincerity produces the courage required to face and accept the
pain and discomfort that inevitably accompanies the process of change.
Courage in turn helps to produce the zeal and fortitude necessary to endure
the rigors of the process of according ourselves with our new realizations,
rooting out our habitual tendencies and remaining ever vigilant so as to not
fall back.

What are Aikido's values?: Honesty, Sincerity, Courageousness,
Compassion/Kindness, Openness, Humility, Zeal and Fortitude

Is Aikido a set of techniques? No. Aikido is a way of self-realization via
martial shugyo. Aikido contains a compendium of techniques (largely
inherited from Daito-ryu) that illustrate principles that, when seriously
and sincerely perused as such, can lead one to understandings that can
prompt efficacious behaviors in both martial engagements and in life.

Is Kodokan Aikido better than X?: Kodokan Aikido, nor any other school or
art, has a patent on reality. What works works regardless of name or origin.
The more important question is, "Is YOUR martial/life practice working for
YOU?" Are you achieving in actuality what you desire and/or your art claims
to deliver? If the answer is 'Yes' then consider yourself lucky and carry
on. If the answer is, "No" then it is time for a change. It matters little
what 'brand' of improvement one uses. What matters is whether it is working!

What are the technical traits of Kodokan Aikido: It works well for the
situations for which it was intended. It doesn't require cooperation,
collaboration or prior knowledge on behalf of Uke. It assumes multiple
opponents with lethal intent and the involvement of bladed weaponry.
Therefore it is proactive and decisive both mentally and physically.

What are the pedagogical traits of Kodokan Aikido: Kodokan Aikido curriculum
reflects a logical progression of physical development and technical
understandings. Progression is both linear with one level building upon
another and cyclical each stage possessing multiple layers of sophistication
and understanding.

What are the stages of Kodokan Aikido practice: The stages of Kodoakan
Aikido practice are: Jujutsu, Aiki Jujutsu, Aiki no Jutsu. These correspond
to Gen (Manifest), Rei (Hidden), Shin (Devine).

Does Kodokan Aikido differ from Aikido as taught by Ueshiba Morihei and/or
Shirata Rinjiro? Yes and No. Yes, in that every individual's understanding
and practice is unique. No, in that Kodokan Aikido has a direct
correspondence to all of the oral, written and physical teachings of both
Morihei Ueshiba and Shirata Rinjiro. Ultimately what made these teachers
unique was what they did was 'real.' They walked their talk physically and
with their lives as a whole. Were they perfect? They were perfectly human.
Members of Kodokan Aikido are encouraged to do the same. Strive to walk your
talk martially and spiritually.

*real is defined by the "is it working" principal. In other words, when the
rubber hits the road, does your martial technique work in actuality or only
hypothetically? When the rubber hits the road, is your spiritual life
working in actuality or only hypothetically? In order to honesty determine
the answers to these questions one must regularly, honestly and openly ask
oneself these questions and strive to rectify any discrepancies. This is
Masa Katsu, A Katsu, Katsu Hayabi and the 'practice' of Aikido.

~ Allen Beebe
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Old 09-04-2007, 10:29 AM   #61
Budd
 
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

Mr. Beebe, that was wonderful to read.

Thank you for sharing that.
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Old 09-04-2007, 10:44 AM   #62
G DiPierro
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
I do, however, believe that this expresses an extreme that most people who live this don't follow completely. I think that such relativists sincerely believe that they are trying, that they are doing the work and inquiring into deep and difficult subjects; but when they don't have at least working answers after 10 or 20 years of training, something important is missing.
My experience training in various aikido dojos has been that fundamentalism is a worse problem than relativism, but both seem to be in force in the internet forums. Apparently, 16% percent of respondents (that's almost 1 in 6) to a recent poll here adhere to the belief that there is no such thing as bad aikido. For more yogic perspectives on the dangers of such a relativist approach to spirituality, see here and here.

One distinction that I think is important to make in a thread such as this is between the question of what aikido is and that of what good aikido is. I agree with the position, outlined in this thread by Peter Goldsbury and in others by Amir Krause, that aikido is a generic name that anyone can use without respect to lineage or affiliation. It stands to reason that if Morihei Ueshiba wanted to create an exclusive art, then he would have followed the traditional koryu protocol and called his style something like Ueshiba-ryu or Ueshiba-ha Daito-ryu. He expressly did not.

However, I still have a very specific idea of what constitutes good aikido, just as I have clear opinions of what constitutes good iaido, taijiquan, or capoeira, to name a few examples of arts with generic names that are nonetheless clearly identifiable regardless of the specific details of lineage. Naturally, in the arts in which I have more experience and knowledge my standards are more developed and exacting. In the case of aikido, my opinion happens to be that much of what is practiced in the big organizations with solid lineage through Morihei Ueshiba is not what I would consider particularly good from either a martial or spiritual perspective.

Last edited by G DiPierro : 09-04-2007 at 10:49 AM.
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Old 09-04-2007, 04:35 PM   #63
Martin Goodyear
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

Hello everyone, this is my first contribution.

When I started aikido, a dan grade said to me "If you want to know what aikido is all about, ask a blue belt!"

More practically, like what (I think) Ledyard Sensei said in an interview - about moving someone's mind in order to move their body. This isn't a definition, but I sometimes find that philosophically-loaded technical points are more enlightening.

For me, I like how the techniques have opportunities where you COULD do something quite nasty, usually an atemi, but you don't, and the end result leaves both partners buzzing and unharmed. Naturally, in a live situation, you might not feel that you "have your partners mind" to the extent that you don't have to hurt him, but the fact that we physically train this ideal strikes me as beautiful and possibly unique. The rough stuff's fun too, but lets face it, making the loving-protection stuff work on a committed uke is more difficult, and perhaps a defining quality of aikido.

Martin.
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Old 09-07-2007, 01:11 PM   #64
Allen Beebe
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

Quote:
Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
Mr. Beebe, that was wonderful to read.

Thank you for sharing that.
Thank you Budd!

Allen

~ Allen Beebe
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Old 09-14-2007, 10:37 AM   #65
MM
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

Well, the point I was making in my previous post must have been overlooked, since the post got its own thread space.
(http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13239)

I'll detail it a bit more on what I meant in that post ...

Watching the video, there is a definite look about the techniques to what some people do in aikido. Very, very close. So, what makes aikido Aikido must go beyond mere techiques. Even more so, Aikido must go beyond mere use of aiki in a jujutsu fashion. After all, one of the founders of these arts was filmed doing demos that had "internal" principles. Which then brings up the question again of what makes aikido Aikido?

Mark
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Old 09-14-2007, 10:58 AM   #66
ChrisMoses
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Well, the point I was making in my previous post must have been overlooked, since the post got its own thread space.
(http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13239)

I'll detail it a bit more on what I meant in that post ...

Watching the video, there is a definite look about the techniques to what some people do in aikido. Very, very close. So, what makes aikido Aikido must go beyond mere techiques. Even more so, Aikido must go beyond mere use of aiki in a jujutsu fashion. After all, one of the founders of these arts was filmed doing demos that had "internal" principles. Which then brings up the question again of what makes aikido Aikido?

Mark
I've struggled with this question for years. Personally I've found a definition of "aiki" that I'm comfortable with, a group I like to train with, and principles that I can understand. This clarity has come with greater understanding of what I think "Aikido" actually is, and I'm afraid that I have rejected it. My view of aiki is much more closely aligned with the older understanding from kenjutsu, Daito Ryu and Yanagi Ryu. This change in the meaning of aiki is specifically what I feel makes Aikido actually different from the arts that came before it. Therefore, if you dont' believe in that change, and it is the defining feature of the art, I do not believe you can consider what you are doing to be the same. I refer to what I do now as "aikibudo" or just "jujutsu" because I don't really think what I'm doing is Aikido. But then, I don't think many people are actually doing Aikido as I would define it. For a bit more in depth discussion, see this thread.

Chris Moses
TNBBC, "Putting the ME in MEdiocre!"
Shinto Ryu Iai Battojutsu
TNBBC Blog
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Old 09-19-2007, 11:48 AM   #67
MM
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
I've struggled with this question for years. Personally I've found a definition of "aiki" that I'm comfortable with, a group I like to train with, and principles that I can understand. This clarity has come with greater understanding of what I think "Aikido" actually is, and I'm afraid that I have rejected it. My view of aiki is much more closely aligned with the older understanding from kenjutsu, Daito Ryu and Yanagi Ryu. This change in the meaning of aiki is specifically what I feel makes Aikido actually different from the arts that came before it. Therefore, if you dont' believe in that change, and it is the defining feature of the art, I do not believe you can consider what you are doing to be the same. I refer to what I do now as "aikibudo" or just "jujutsu" because I don't really think what I'm doing is Aikido. But then, I don't think many people are actually doing Aikido as I would define it. For a bit more in depth discussion, see this thread.
Thanks Chris,
I reread your thread. And then I reread another article and I think I may have come to a personal understanding of an answer.
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Old 09-19-2007, 12:01 PM   #68
MM
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

It seems Tomiki keeps on surprising me. It's like Amdur's phrase of hidden in plain sight. Tomiki was a genius and he knew the giants of his time: Ueshiba, Kano, and Mifune.

From this article by Tomiki:
http://www.judoinfo.com/tomiki2.htm

There's a small excerpt that I'll quote.

Quote:
Tomiki wrote:
It was during this time of general decline that Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu was revived, first by Takeda Sogaku (1860-1943) and then by Morihei Ueshiba,who was Takeda's leading disciple and the man who would succeed Takeda as the head of aikido. Daito-ryu was a school of jujutsu that had been handed down for many generations in the old Aizu prefecture and was justly praised by Master Kano. Kano's praise was natural, as it takes genius to see genius. Indeed, the achievements Kano and Ueshiba are, in the annals of Japanese budo, stupendous. Kano's work as a martial artist is more well know, but Ueshiba, who was an especially pious person, expanded our understanding of the limits of enlightenment and of the unity of god and man. He also changed the name of the art from aikijujutsu to aikido, established a dojo in Tokyo in the first years of the Showa period (1925-1989), and propagated aikido both in Japan and around the world.
Ueshiba took Takeda's Daito ryu and/or aiki and transformed it. As Tomiki wrote, Ueshiba "expanded our understanding of the limits of enlightenment and of the unity of god and man." But, he didn't do that by softly blending with the Universe and stepping into golden lights. He did that by long, hard work at Daito ryu's aiki skills. You can't have Aikido without that long, hard work and you can't have Aikido without that expanded spirituality. Both are needed. With only one, you have aikido, the generic term. Not Aikido, Ueshiba's art.

IMO anyway.

Mark
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Old 09-19-2007, 02:36 PM   #69
ChrisMoses
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

Thanks Mark.

If you get a chance to read Tomiki's "Judo, Appendix Aikido" (damn, that's a catchy title!) it's well worth the time. I found it interesting that he seemed to consider Aikido to be the place for budo and martial efficacy and judo the place for sport and all the personal development that has to offer. Different methods to explore common principles and methods (that's my reading of it anyway). That article you link is one of my favorites. It's simple, well written and doesn't make any wild claims.

Chris Moses
TNBBC, "Putting the ME in MEdiocre!"
Shinto Ryu Iai Battojutsu
TNBBC Blog
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Old 09-27-2007, 04:46 PM   #70
Vincent Munoz
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Re: What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?

common guys, be practical.

My opinion when attacked, if i still have room to run, i will. If not, then it defends on the level of attack. If it looks the attacker is going to kill me, I will defend myself whatever it takes, whatever the outcome. When you're in real-world situation, it is difficult to control. It can be easy in the Mat.

For me harmony in aikido doesn't mean harmony. What it means to me is to harmonize your movements with the movements of your attacker (ki-musubi - to blend). To have em out of balance so it's easy to control.

Stop making things complicated. What we can do is practice whenever possible. Polish each movement and techniques in accordance with the principles of aikido so we will have the control when attack. And, Be good.

vincent
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Old 09-28-2007, 03:58 AM   #71
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Ai symbol The DO of KI to AI

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
What makes Aikido aikido (to you)?
What makes it NOT aikido (to you)?
Wonderfully fundamental questions

My former teacher Ichimura sensei told me that one should read the name of a martial art backways, to understand it. For example, karatedo would be do-te-kara, that is "the way through the hand to emptiness". Judo would be "the way to softness", and so on.
So, makes "the way through ki to joining/harmony".
Aikido is the way in which to use our ki to join. The ki of uke as well as tori. The goal is joining, agreeing, making peace if you like.
So, in the practice, the techniques, the solutions, the strife: when joining is not the goal, then it is not aikido.
Putting it very simply: having fun together, everybody enjoying it

Stefan Stenudd
My aikido website: http://www.stenudd.com/aikido/
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Old 10-02-2007, 08:50 AM   #72
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: The DO of KI to AI

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote: View Post
Wonderfully fundamental questions

My former teacher Ichimura sensei told me that one should read the name of a martial art backways, to understand it. For example, karatedo would be do-te-kara, that is "the way through the hand to emptiness". Judo would be "the way to softness", and so on.
So, makes "the way through ki to joining/harmony".
Aikido is the way in which to use our ki to join. The ki of uke as well as tori. The goal is joining, agreeing, making peace if you like.
So, in the practice, the techniques, the solutions, the strife: when joining is not the goal, then it is not aikido.
Putting it very simply: having fun together, everybody enjoying it
Nice.

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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