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What Aikido is Not (IMHO)
What Aikido is Not (IMHO)
by Lynn Seiser
11-28-2007
What Aikido is Not (IMHO)

When I was a child, I believed in magic.
I hated people who burst my bubbles.
Aikido is many things to many people. I know that it is supposed to be the gift from O'Sensei Morihei Ueshiba to a world full of confusion, conflict, and chaos. I do get a lot out of training. Nevertheless, and in no offense to O'Sensei, there are many things that Aikido is not. Aikido is not magic, it is not a quick fix, and it is not an escape or retreat from the real world.
As I got older, I wanted to believe in magic.
I learned to appreciate the people who burst my bubble
so I could see and deal with reality.
Aikido is not the only, or even the best, martial art. Aikido is a martial art. If it matches your needs, then practice. If not, let it go. Do not feel you are better than others because you practice or worse because you do not. The reason there are so many styles and systems of martial arts is that each have their strengths and weaknesses, their application intent and context, and their personality matches. Aikido may be the best for you, but the worst for another.

Aikido is not psychological intervention and treatment. It is not counseling or psychotherapy. Aikido will not fix your mental or emotional problems. In fact, because of the intense interactions, you may become even more aware of them. Aikido is that type of arena. By being aware of your problems, you can consciously face, accept, and resolve them (but not on the mat please).

Aikido is not medical treatment. Aikido will not fix physical conditions or injuries. In fact, it has the potential, if you do not train wisely, to make everything physically worse. Wise training, slow, and steady, watching alignment and form, and progressing slowly, now that just may be of some benefit. What would the fun be in that?

Aikido is not a social life. While you can learn social skills in a dojo, it is not a substitute for, or sanctuary from, the real world and a need for real human interaction. The social interaction before, during, and after training is important. It is a way to realize you are not alone in your Budo journey. That is important. Though trying to find your social life, especially the dating or sexual aspects, can lead to loss of the exact thing you were looking for.

Aikido is not family. Aikido is a type of family where you can learn parental type roles, responsibilities, and affection by teaching. Aikido is a type of family where you can learn sibling roles, responsibilities, and affect for senior and junior (rank, not age) members. Aikido is a type of family in which you share a responsibility to contribute and participate in the family dwelling, the dojo where you study. However, to neglect your real family and not practice the same at home is to totally miss the spirit of Aikido.

Aikido is not parenting. Aikido is not substitute for actively aware and engaged parents. Most Aikido Dojos offer a children's program. Some have after school programs for working parents. They may provide safety, supervision, and study time, but the children do not want or need if from substitute parents. They need it from the real thing, the ones who gave them birth brought them home, and love them.

Aikido is not the answers to your questions about your purpose in life. It gives you a place to practice that purpose. A Zen Koan is an absurd question that defies intellectual analysis and understanding. The best way to find the answer to a Zen Koan is to drop the question and stay consciously aware in the present. You do not find a purpose in life; you put it there by the direction and choices you make. The answer is in the question. How do you stop yourself from having the life you want?

Aikido is not aerobic, resistance, or stretching exercise. It is not ballet, folk dancing, or disco. Aikido is not a spectator sport. Aikido is physical movement. It is graceful and rhythmic. It looks like a choreographed dance from the bleachers. It is only when you sign up, show up, suit up, shut up, and train as an actively engaged participant that you finally understand what Aikido offers. You will not be able to explain it to anyone who does not train and you will not have to explain it to anyone who does.

The physical practice of Aikido is not the mental or spiritual practice. The mental or spiritual practice is not the physical practice. To have body, mind, and spirit in harmony, you must train the body, mind, and spirit separately and in unity. It is not either/or and it is not sequential. It is both and it is simultaneous. That is the practice, everything pointed, and extending in the same direction at the same time.

Aikido is not magic, but people are. Aikido it is not a quick fix, but a tool of respect and discipline. Aikido is not an escape or retreat from the real world, but a safe place to practice how to be in it and what direction we already know we need to be heading.
As an old man, I believe in the magic of reality and discipline.
I have become that person who bursts bubbles.
However, I try to do it with positive intent and love.
Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!
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Old 11-28-2007, 07:41 PM   #2
Derek
 
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Re: What Aikido is Not (IMHO)

Lynn,

As usual, you have hit the nail on the head (IMHO). When I started training, I was jealous of the guy who was at the dojo all the time. He practically lived there. He could eat, drink, sleep and breathe aikido. His technique was great and he had a special relationship with the instructors because they knew him well, hell, he was there more than they were.

But I soon realized that living in the dojo is not living in the world. The live-in guy was not brave to practice aikido all the time, he was a coward for not seeing the world and interacting. He had a family in the dojo, because he had no other life.

I don't know how good a samuari I would make with a family and a job. I know that aikido can still be an important part of my life, without being my whole life.

Thanks again. See you on the mat.

Derek

Derek Duval
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Old 11-29-2007, 03:47 AM   #3
deepsoup
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Re: What Aikido is Not (IMHO)

Quote:
Derek Duval wrote: View Post
The live-in guy was not brave to practice aikido all the time, he was a coward for not seeing the world and interacting.
Why would he have to be brave or a coward? Maybe he was just doing what he wanted to do at that time.
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Old 11-29-2007, 04:45 AM   #4
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: What Aikido is Not (IMHO)

Great Article Lynn.

Monastic type cultures are very important in our society. IMO, we need more dojos/organizations that support and have uschi deshi.

Monks face the same issue. Many take criticism for remaining in the monastery, living a sheltered life.

Many leave the monastery and return to secular society to lead an "engaged" practice.

The fact is, we need both.

Robert Thurman makes some good arguments in many of his speeches for a return to a monastic culture and sees these types of practices as being a positive step toward our societal evolution.

I tend to agree. I think we could use more ushi deschi.

Can a U.D. be escaping reality and be a coward by hiding our and avoiding society? Yes most certainly!

However, I think mostly it serves a valuable role, and in many cases that individual has committed an act of bravery by sacrificing other things to serve in that capacity.

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Old 11-30-2007, 06:47 AM   #5
SeiserL
 
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Re: What Aikido is Not (IMHO)

IMHO, some people are fear based and retreat to or run away from the monastery/dojo. Others are love based and move towards the monastery/dojo or the world. Intent matters a lot to me.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 12-05-2007, 09:20 AM   #6
Katie Parsoneault
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Re: What Aikido is Not (IMHO)

Even more than usual, Lynn's column this month and Ross's column this month seem to complement each other. Thanks for two very nice interlocking "takes" on the value of aikido for those who train -- on and off the mat!
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Old 12-06-2007, 06:48 AM   #7
SeiserL
 
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Re: What Aikido is Not (IMHO)

Katie,
Yes, ever since I noticed that some people have been seen headed in the same direction I am, I have wondered about them. (Its a Groucho things.)

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 12-08-2007, 07:01 AM   #8
Erik Jögimar
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Re: What Aikido is Not (IMHO)

Gah, i need to read posts here more often!

A very interesting read, Lynn, and just a few things that came up while reading. For me, aikido, and the world as large is a mysterious and magical place. I chose to see things as magical, becuase those resonate within me as person. To an extent, so do i see aikido. But seeing things from "off-the-wall-perspective" doesnt make a person fluffy bunny idiot or disillousioned.

"Aikido is not psychological intervention and treatment. It is not counseling or psychotherapy. Aikido will not fix your mental or emotional problems. In fact, because of the intense interactions, you may become even more aware of them. Aikido is that type of arena. By being aware of your problems, you can consciously face, accept, and resolve them (but not on the mat please)."

I was diagnosed with autism (asperger syndrome) in fourth grade primary school. It has a tendency to mess with my hearing (auditory overload), motorskills and perception. If i could only put into words how much aikido practice has helped in improving those things. Hell, before i started i could barely wear clothes made in certain materials becuase it was actually painful to feel against skin. Now i can get thrown quite a bit and it's enjoyable. Social interaction has, although limited, improved from the pre/post training hanging out in our dojo. A few friendships formed, which is incredible difficult, at least for me.

So, in a positive light, mental issues have been resolved ON the mat

It has only been three months, but aikido is a life changing experience. It's almost frightening to think of what it'll do to me
in 5-10 years. Or even one year.

a most enjoyable reading, thank you!

Erik Jögimar

Last edited by Erik Jögimar : 12-08-2007 at 07:03 AM.

Just give me your wrist!
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Old 12-08-2007, 11:10 AM   #9
SeiserL
 
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Re: What Aikido is Not (IMHO)

Quote:
Erik Jögimar wrote: View Post
It has only been three months, but aikido is a life changing experience. It's almost frightening to think of what it'll do to me in 5-10 years. Or even one year.
Oh yes (after only 13 years), be afraid, be very afraid. LOL ;-)

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 12-17-2007, 07:47 AM   #10
roadster
 
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Re: What Aikido is Not (IMHO)

Quote:
Derek Duval wrote: View Post
But I soon realized that living in the dojo is not living in the world. The live-in guy was not brave to practice aikido all the time, he was a coward for not seeing the world and interacting. He had a family in the dojo, because he had no other life.
May I suggest some reading?

http://uchi-deshi.blogspot.com/
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Old 12-17-2007, 04:30 PM   #11
Derek
 
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Re: What Aikido is Not (IMHO)

Thanks for the blog link.

IMHO there are people who feel the need for immersion in aikido and an uchi deshi program is great for that. I also think that there are people who replace "normal" life with dojo life and don't have any contacts outside of the dojo. Sometimes this is an avoidance behvavior and those people can not/will not fare well in the "real" world. I am not maligning uchi deshi programs or people who immerse themselves in aikido. All I am saying is that I have known people who spent every waking hour at the dojo for 2 years, and then stopped aikido and have never been back to the dojo.

The brightest flames burn the hottest? or maybe at some point they realized that all of life was not enclosed without the dojo walls.

I am not saying that I would not enjoy more immersion in aikido either. I have been in the dojo for 15 years and I am still at it.

Derek Duval
Yondan
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Old 12-19-2007, 11:43 AM   #12
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: What Aikido is Not (IMHO)

The cow says, "moo". LOL

well written and wonderful.
Jen

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Old 12-19-2007, 12:10 PM   #13
ChrisMoses
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Re: What Aikido is Not (IMHO)

Quote:
Erik Jacobson wrote: View Post
May I suggest some reading?

http://uchi-deshi.blogspot.com/
From the link, "Sometimes, my wife visits me at the dojo. I love it when she spends the night, but the occasions are infrequent."

That's just weak. Time to grow up and go home to your wife. Live in the world, Aikido isn't that important.

Chris Moses
TNBBC, "Putting the ME in MEdiocre!"
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Old 12-19-2007, 01:38 PM   #14
SeiserL
 
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Re: What Aikido is Not (IMHO)

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
Time to grow up and go home to your wife. Live in the world, Aikido isn't that important.
While O'Sensei spent a lot of time away from home, I believe he was a major supporter of social involvement and responsibility. Perhaps, if practiced with a broader perspective, Aikido is living in the world and outside the Dojo.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 12-20-2007, 11:04 PM   #15
roadster
 
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Re: What Aikido is Not (IMHO)

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
From the link, "Sometimes, my wife visits me at the dojo. I love it when she spends the night, but the occasions are infrequent."

That's just weak. Time to grow up and go home to your wife. Live in the world, Aikido isn't that important.
No different than a sabbatical. Additionally, Aikido means more to some than others.

BTW great post Lynn.

Last edited by roadster : 12-20-2007 at 11:06 PM.
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Old 12-21-2007, 05:11 AM   #16
SeiserL
 
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Re: What Aikido is Not (IMHO)

I heard that the grass isn't greener on the other side of the fence, its greener where you water it.
Water the grass where ever you go.
Water, water, water.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 12-24-2007, 01:16 PM   #17
Ryan Sanford
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Re: What Aikido is Not (IMHO)

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
I heard that the grass isn't greener on the other side of the fence, its greener where you water it.
Water the grass where ever you go.
Water, water, water.
Wow, that's really great. Did you nab that from somewhere, or if you thought it up yourself, can I quote that from you?
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Old 12-24-2007, 02:23 PM   #18
SeiserL
 
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Re: What Aikido is Not (IMHO)

Quote:
Ryan Sanford wrote: View Post
Did you nab that from somewhere, or if you thought it up yourself, can I quote that from you?
Not that intelligent.
Just pass it on.
Wisdom is like that. Yea, it is.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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