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Old 06-19-2009, 07:20 PM   #1
George S. Ledyard
 
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The Practice of Aikido

As I have started to develop a sense of how the principles function in Aikido and the other "aiki" arts, it has become increasingly clear to me that Aikido is a personal practice that has little to do with practical self defense or fighting. Aikido is the study of connection. The Aikido dojo is a laboratory in which the student investigates the infinite interaction of consciousness with the material realm of the body.

Human beings are alive energy systems. Aikido not only allows one to integrate ones own system (mind, body, spirit unification) but provides a method for developing an intuitive understanding of how there is no real separation between all conscious beings. We are all part of Great Mind. It's not that we have to learn to be "connected". We are already connected and nothing can change that. It is the illusion of separateness that causes us to act "as if" we were.

The practice of Aikido provides us with an experience that constantly forces us to recognize that we are fundamentally not separate from those around them. When one forgets this fact and attempts to do act ON the partner as if there were an actor and one acted upon, only the grossest physical technique is possible. Practice at this level requires vastly superior physical strength and dominant intention to be successful. But when one starts to accept connection as the default setting in ones mind and body, one can begin to operate on an entirely different paradigm. When one accepts connection, one stops fighting, there is no more dispute. One starts to understand that all conscious beings resonate. As one starts to connect rather than fight, one begins to realize that we all resonate together. If I change my own resonance, my partner's resonance changes.

This first realized on the physical level as one relaxes completely during practice. One realizes that to accomplish a technique one changes oneself rather than trying to change the partner. As one progresses to higher level technique the practice moves increasingly from the physical to the energetic. One begins to change the relationship with the partner / attacker before physical contact is even made.

Eventually, one comes to an understanding that "aiki" is what happens when we stop believing we are separate and start relaxing our mind and body to the point at which we exist mostly in a state of potential, that the effort to accomplish technique is a tiny fraction of what we once thought it required. Technique eventually reaches a point at which it feels effortless to the practitioner and almost incomprehensible to the partner. One moves and isn't sure why it happened.

Whereas the principles operating in Aikido are the same as those operating in other "aiki" arts, Aikido practice has purposely been changed to remove the practice from practical application for fighting. The Founder rightly believed that a practice that focused on fighting, winning as an outcome, would necessarily reinforce dualistic notions of separateness. Aikido technique is about meeting conflict expansively rather than defensively. The martial paradigm is there to keep ones investigations grounded in reality but the practice should not be mistaken asz some kind of preparation for combat or practical self defense. That is simply not the point of the training. If ones trains correctly, however, some degree of ability to apply the principles practically is a natural byproduct of proper training. But it isn't the point or the prime focus. When individuals attempt to shape the practice around their own unresolved issues and fears the result is a distorted practice. Either a very poor fighting system or an ethereal dance results. Neither one og these is transformative but rather the practice becomes a way of maintaining ones illusion of separateness rather than breaking it down.

If people can let go of what they think they want Aikido to be and let the practice reveal what it is, it will naturally start to change them. Aikido practice is this process. it requires courage and determination. Accepting that we are not who we have told ourselves we are is not easy.https://blogger.googleusercontent.co...t.blogspot.com


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Old 06-19-2009, 08:59 PM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

I realized the connection thing about 4 years into training (and just finalized The Mirror's July column including some stuff about it 2 days ago...) but had considered it more a personal issue (both practical and spiritual) than necessarily generalized or inherent in the art. Thanks for more to ponder.

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-19-2009, 09:12 PM   #3
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

Good article and agree with a lot of what you said. Major exception is,

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
If ones trains correctly, however, some degree of ability to apply the principles practically is a natural byproduct of proper training. But it isn't the point or the prime focus. ]
In Aikido, the ability to apply the principles practically is the measure of your progress. The greater the ability , the greater the progress.

What other way is there to measure your progress?

David

Last edited by dps : 06-19-2009 at 09:20 PM.
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Old 06-20-2009, 01:11 AM   #4
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

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Good article and agree with a lot of what you said. Major exception is,

In Aikido, the ability to apply the principles practically is the measure of your progress. The greater the ability , the greater the progress.

What other way is there to measure your progress?

David
The dojo is a laboratory... in a lab one controls the conditions. There are people who can do absolutely amazing things in the lab. Their mastery of the principles is very high but their ability to apply those principles outside the lab is not necessarily the same. The reason is that the outer forms must change based on what the application is. If one has not trained specifically in the forms for application of the principles in a fighting context, then one is not going to be able to successfully apply the principles.

The outer form of Aikido is not particularly geared for fighting. It does a lot of things but fighting isn't one of them.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 06-20-2009, 05:29 AM   #5
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Their mastery of the principles is very high but their ability to apply those principles outside the lab is not necessarily the same.
Then the results,
Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Aikido not only allows one to integrate ones own system (mind, body, spirit unification) but provides a method for developing an intuitive understanding of how there is no real separation between all conscious beings. We are all part of Great Mind. It's not that we have to learn to be "connected". We are already connected and nothing can change that. It is the illusion of separateness that causes us to act "as if" we were.
can only be obtained inside the laboratory.

I am not saying to go out and get into a fight but the ability to apply the principles outside the lab is the measure of your progress.


David

Last edited by dps : 06-20-2009 at 05:41 AM.
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Old 06-20-2009, 06:32 AM   #6
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

I agree with much of what you wrote, but not so much with this part:

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Human beings are alive energy systems. Aikido not only allows one to integrate ones own system (mind, body, spirit unification) but provides a method for developing an intuitive understanding of how there is no real separation between all conscious beings. We are all part of Great Mind. It's not that we have to learn to be "connected". We are already connected and nothing can change that. It is the illusion of separateness that causes us to act "as if" we were.
We are all unified in the sense that we are part of the Universe (as opposed to being independent beings living in the Universe). But this makes us just as connected to inanimate objects as to other people. We are also connected to other people on a biological and social level and to the rest of the biosphere on an ecological level. No man is an island. But consciousness is, in my view, more of a side effect of having many neurons than having anything to do with something one would call a Great Mind (the fact that you feel the need to capitalize the term enforces my opinion). (For the record I don't believe in the existence of God, gods, spirits, kami or the human soul).

As such, I feel that building the connection is more an act of creating such connection than it is an act of eliminating an illusion. Our individual minds are individual, and our interests can be competing (though as social beings, humans are almost always simultaneously in competition with and dependent on everybody else around them).

Visualizing or creating the "feeling" that we are all connected through some kind of greater consciuosness may be a good way of geting oneself in the right frame of mind for creating the connection, but it doesn't make the seperateness less real.

I'm starting to feel the foolishness of this kind of philosophical debate. We can feel and act as if we are connected or as if we are separate. Without some distinction and clear definition of what makes these states different or how the Universe would act if one were true and the other false, there isn't much of a basis for saying one is more of an illusion than the other.

Jonathan Olson
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Old 06-20-2009, 11:31 AM   #7
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

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Then the results,

can only be obtained inside the laboratory.

I am not saying to go out and get into a fight but the ability to apply the principles outside the lab is the measure of your progress.

David
I simply disagree. The "practice" of Aikido is just that, a "practice". The form of Aikido derived from forms that were about combat and fighting. The form it was given was about "practice" as a means of personal transformation. If one feels that the practice is enhancing ones ability to connect, that it removes barriers, that one is increasingly less fearful, etc then so-called "progress" is being made.

You can have achieved this object and still get the crap beaten out of you by someone who knows what he is doing because the form we use to develop our understanding of principle is ill suited to the purpose of fighting.

As the forums indicate, all sorts of people have used Aikido to defend themselves successfully. But this is largely due to the fact that most violent attackers are not trained. They may be dangerous but they are not trained fighters.

People are so concerned about fighting... Folks who are serious about this soon realize that there are shortcomings in their Aikido practice. Pretty soon the are seeking out various instruction from outside so that they can adapt their Aikido to what is practical. Maybe they seek out someone who can help them develop internal power, maybe they study another system of aiki. They start working on alternative attacks like boxing or karate. In the end they realize that to fight the form needs to be different. It may be the same principles but it is not the same form.

If you do not practice a form that is appropriate for the task, i.e. whatever form of fighting you think you need to prepare for, you can have the nicest aiki in the world on the mat and you will not be able to fight. You want to apply principle against a mixed martial artist? Then you need to study the form that principle needs to take in that context. Doing that will not be Aikido, it will be something else.

I am not saying don't do this... I have done this myself. I have messed about with Karate, Kali, Escrima, Police Defensive Tactics, classical combat forms, boxing, etc. Each of these areas of study offer an opportunity to apply the principles we learn in Aikido. But that application is not Aikido itself. The ability to make that application is a separate study for a different purpose.

People who study a style of mainstream Aikido and think they are learning to fight are a) wrong and b) distorting their Aikido to be something it isn't and therefore are missing out on what it is. We need to get past this Samurai-wanna-be mentality and really look at what we have as a practice. We have a practice that is unlike any other practice I have seen. Yes, it isn't mixed martial arts, it isn't judo, it isn't Systema, it isn't anything but what it is. As much as we can learn from other systems, we need to stay in touch with what we have that no one else has. The outer form of Aikido is unique. The doing of it can be and should be a transformative practice in a way that most other forms are not. We need to get past this worry about it not being "practical". It was never supposed to be "practical" in that manner.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 06-21-2009, 11:18 AM   #8
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

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People who study a style of mainstream Aikido and think they are learning to fight are a) wrong and b) distorting their Aikido to be something it isn't and therefore are missing out on what it is.
Exactly what aikido "is" continues to be the great question of life in these forums. I agree with much of what you say about aikido and its practice and martial arts functionality. As far as aikido being developed as the ultimate system of martial functionality probably it is not, I agree. The principles of connectedness and blending which aikido emphasizes is unique from the approach that many other martial arts teaches and has some distinct advantages in handling situations before some actual physical confrontation occurs and even when it does provides a systematic approach in meeting and overcoming a attack. I remember from reading a number of your earlier posts that you have been a major proponent of respecting the budo aspects of aikido "practice" I don't think you are refuting that proposition at this point (though I would never suppose to speak for you). I'm supposing the intent of this post is merely to put greater emphasis on the philosophical/spiritual nature of aikido in the larger general practice objectives.

Each of us have to decide what aikido is. Some without doubt have a deeper knowledge through their study, background, and longevity of experience in the art to speak to this subject. However the answer to the question still must be reached by each individual practitioner. Aikido in functional reality is what each of us want it to be, and allow it to become in our life, whether it is a method of self-defense, a relaxation/exercise activity, an area of philosophical study or a method of completely ordering and structuring our life. When all the emphasis is turned predominately to the metaphysical and universal connectedness aspects, the art of aikido begins to be more closely associated with some form of yoga practice modern dance, or meditation.

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Old 06-22-2009, 12:36 AM   #9
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

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I remember from reading a number of your earlier posts that you have been a major proponent of respecting the budo aspects of aikido "practice" I don't think you are refuting that proposition at this point (though I would never suppose to speak for you). I'm supposing the intent of this post is merely to put greater emphasis on the philosophical/spiritual nature of aikido in the larger general practice objectives.
Of course, this is the conundrum... People tend to fall one way or the other and the essence, in my opinion, is lost.

Aikido is a form of Budo. It is a personal practice with a martial paradigm. In my opinion the martial paradigm provides direct and immediate feedback as to ones level of understanding. I am a big believer in training not being false from an energetic standpoint.

But that doesn't mean we change the outer form. The outer form is what makes it Aikido. The art as practice involves both partners acting within that form. That doesn't mean they are colluding... if the principle inside the form isn't there, the technique shouldn't work.

But the outer form was designed by the Founder to point our attention inward and not outward. I think that the inappropriate-ness of the basic form of Aikido for applied fighting was intentional. The "lessons" that one might have had by doing another martial art are meant to be contained in Aikido but from a whole new perspective and for a whole new purpose. The martial paradigm is necessary but it isn't about fighting, in my strongly held opinion.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 06-22-2009, 04:37 AM   #10
Mark Freeman
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
This first realized on the physical level as one relaxes completely during practice. One realizes that to accomplish a technique one changes oneself rather than trying to change the partner. As one progresses to higher level technique the practice moves increasingly from the physical to the energetic. One begins to change the relationship with the partner / attacker before physical contact is even made.

Eventually, one comes to an understanding that "aiki" is what happens when we stop believing we are separate and start relaxing our mind and body to the point at which we exist mostly in a state of potential, that the effort to accomplish technique is a tiny fraction of what we once thought it required. Technique eventually reaches a point at which it feels effortless to the practitioner and almost incomprehensible to the partner. One moves and isn't sure why it happened.
Excellent post George, thanks.

I clipped the quote above as this is the area of practice that I try to focus all of my efforts on trying to convey to my students. I have no interest in whether aikido would be 'effective' in a fight, however, the more I practice with this state of mind, the more I find myself thinking that if it came to the crunch, it probabaly would be. That said I don't have a wishy washy approach to practice, I love the martial roots of our art and am aware during practice of where and when strikes and blows would have been executed. They are not necessary to achieve the connection you are talking about.

My fascination is with the fact that when you can achieve proper aiki, performing aikido is unbelievably easy and what makes it so hard for the student to achieve, is precisely this total lack of effort needed. When I watch students perform and can see where they are making a mistake, 9 times out of 10 they are doing too much rather than not enough. The act of 'not doing' is a much more difficult act to master than 'doing'.
I'm sure this quest alone will keep me amused for many more years.

Anyway, thanks and keep the good articles coming, you stimulate and provoke, always a good combination, cheers,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 06-22-2009, 06:28 AM   #11
dps
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
... if the principle inside the form isn't there, the technique shouldn't work.
And vice versa. What I am saying is if the technique doesn't work the principle is not there and this applies inside and outside the dojo for the technique and principle.

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
The martial paradigm is necessary but it isn't about fighting, in my strongly held opinion.
. Not everyone who disagrees with you is taking Aikido to go out and kick ass.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
If one feels that the practice is enhancing ones ability to connect, that it removes barriers, that one is increasingly less fearful, etc then so-called "progress" is being made.

You can have achieved this object and still get the crap beaten out of you by someone who knows what he is doing because the form we use to develop our understanding of principle is ill suited to the purpose of fighting.
If you got the crap beat out of you wouldn't that make you more fearful and be a barrier to your progress.

O'Sensei had a burning ambition for power, strength and martial ability and he achieved it. I bet he did not have a barrier or fear about getting the crap beat out of him even in his later years. His martial ability was intact inside and outside the dojo.

I understand what O'Sensei said about competition and winning but in the 24 years since I started Aikido I have never read or heard where he said that your Aikido should not be practical or effective.

David
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Old 06-22-2009, 09:37 AM   #12
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
But the outer form was designed by the Founder to point our attention inward and not outward.
This sentence summarizes quite nicely the central point about which this discussion revolves. The realization that Aikido is an emergent process doesn't, IMO, manifest itself until later in one's Aikido life. Whether this is a result of a gradual erosion of our physical capabilities as we age or some other less obvious cause I can't say. But I think that every practitioner, given enough time in dedicated practice of the outer form, passes thru a threshold that leads to the inner awakening of one's true "Aikido spirit". From that point Aikido practice becomes less about what I can do and more about who I am.

FWIW

Ron
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Old 06-22-2009, 09:58 AM   #13
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

Ledyard Sensei,

It is clear from I think every post I've read of yours that you have dynamic, profound, and novel philosophies pertaining to Aikido. Add these to your level of experience, and I wonder if you've written a book. If not, do you plan on it someday?

Drew
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Old 06-22-2009, 12:33 PM   #14
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

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I understand what O'Sensei said about competition and winning but in the 24 years since I started Aikido I have never read or heard where he said that your Aikido should not be practical or effective.

David
Ok. I need to clarify.

O-Sensei said that Aikido is formless. Saotome Sensei has gone out of his way to reinforce that notion in his students. So to that extent, anything I do which has "aiki" at it's heart is Aikido. So, to Saotome Sensei, if you attack me and I step in and knock you out with one blow, that is still Aikido. I agree with him. That is a practical application of principle.

However, if that were the main focus of ones practice i.e. striking in various forms, I do not think that anyone would think it was Aikido. It would be close to what Ushiro Kenji is doing if that were the case and we consider that a style of Karate.

So we have a set of forms which virtually all Aikido styles share to one extent or another. They do not look like anyone else's forms. Our essential form is large by martial arts standards. It involves more movement than most other martial art arts. (There are styles of Aikido in which this is less true. They tend to be early styles founded by teachers who trained with the Founder when the art was still Daito Ryu, they tend to have a lot of Judo in them as well.)

But the Aikido that was put forth from Saito Sensei onward was large and was characterized by a lot of movement both on the part of the nage and the uke. This is the art that most people are studying. This is the reason that we have the interminable discussions about the martial effectiveness of Aikido. People keep on trying to make a form that was not designed for fighting apply for fighting.

When folks encounter opponents not as skilled as they are, they are successful and then believe that Aikido can be effective for fighting. When they encounter people more skilled than themselves from other styles, they fail miserably and fall into the camp of folks who don't think Aikido works. So we have thousands of posts on the subject that never get anywhere because they are based on faulty premises on both sides.

If one wanted to verify that the essential set of forms we use for our Aikido training is not designed for fighting imagine a controlled experiment... Take an Aikido 5th or 6th Dan who has trained only in Aikido for the 20 to 30 years required to get to that rank. But him up against any martial artist of commensurate experience from kali, silat, jeet kun do, wing chun, chin na, karate, mixed martial arts, whatever...

Now what form do you think this will take? I don't think the Aikido practitioner would be likely to succeed in an encounter against any f these people. Why? Because the forms they use in their arts are simply not the forms that an Aikido practitioner, doing straight Aikido is likely to use. Do you think you could ever get a nikkyo on a kali practitioner? Can you imagine getting a shihonage on a mixed martial artist?

The Aikido practitioner would fare better or worse directly in proportion to how similar or how different the form of his opponent. In my view, the well trained Aikido person would fare best against a judo man or the chin na practitioner and would pretty much get eaten alive by the kali or silat practitioner.

Now all of this is dependent on how one trains. If you put a lot of emphasis on martial application in your practice then a) you will get some experience in other styles so you understand their form and b) you will have to practice your Aikido against attacks using those forms and adjust the form of your Aikido accordingly.

If this became the prime focus of your practice, in my opinion you would dispense with the standard outer forms shared by almost all Aikido styles and adjust your practice accordingly. The practice would then become something else. It would no longer have that outer form which make it recognizable as Aikido. And when that outer form is lost, the inner practice changes accordingly. The art would not then offer the same lessons for the practitioner because the form has changed.

Ellis Amdur Sensei once pointed out to us that most martial arts have basics which one studies, not in the expectation that one would actually apply them on an opponent, but simply to understand them well enough that no one could apply them on you.

Does anyone out there think that if I, for some reason I can't imagine, were stupid enough to attack Saotome Sensei with real intention, that one would see a nikkyo or a sankyo? A fight at this level would be virtually all atemi and I would almost certainly be knocked cold on the first pass. If not, the reverse might be true. If a throw or a lock were executed, it would only be after someone was seriously discomfited by one or more atemi.

Most folks doing Aikido do not train that way. Those that do are often busy devolving their art back into something that came before. It is devolution not evolution.

I was actually trained this way. Saotome Sensei put more emphasis on martial application than most. He encouraged all of us to train as broadly as possible and most of us continue to do so. In my case I have done some kali, some escrima, some classical combat arts, a bit of grappling, a bit of systema, lots of workshops in other styles with top level teachers. I have, at various times, played with how the form of my Aikido would apply in interaction with various other forms.

But the vast majority of the time Saotome Sensei's classes do not involve this side of the training. He calls it the "dark side" of the art. We have been trained ti understand it but what does Sensei focus on mosty of the time? Connection. And he uses the outer form of Aikido, recognizable to all as Aikido, to teach that.

At some point I came to the conclusion that application of "aiki" principle in any kind of real confrontation would inevitably involve going straight to the center and striking the opponent. Having come to that conclusion, if I were serious about pursuing that direction, my next step would necessarily be making acquisition of internal power my first and foremost priority. I would need to develop the kind of understanding of power that would make me capable of ending a confrontation with just one blow.

I have not chosen to make that my first priority. It is something I am working on and I intend to keep seeking out folks who can teach me, but my first priority is on investigating, developing, and teaching the art of Aikido with its incredible, beautiful, grace intact. I am uninterested in devolving my art to make it practical. I am interested in how the doing of it can serve to transform the individual in ways that make his life better. That is what the form is for. That is why O-Sensei crated the form he did for the art. The world had plenty of fighting styles, I do not think he saw himself as creating another. In fact he flat out stated he wasn't.

People are so worried about fighting, application, practicality, that they miss what is really there and unique to Aikido. Saotome Sensei always said, "If you are worried about fighting, by a gun." Training is meant for something else. If you get in touch with that, you will both attain some level of ability to defend yourself and perhaps make needing to do so less likely. Certainly, the lessons derived from your training will apply far more widely in your life than the ability to whip an iriminage on someone attacking you... I've trained for 33 years now and I have yet to apply a single technique on someone off the mat. Yet, I find my Aikido continues to change my life and my perceptions of the world around every day.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 06-22-2009, 12:38 PM   #15
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

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Drew Gardner wrote: View Post
Ledyard Sensei,

It is clear from I think every post I've read of yours that you have dynamic, profound, and novel philosophies pertaining to Aikido. Add these to your level of experience, and I wonder if you've written a book. If not, do you plan on it someday?

Drew
You know, I have contemplated that idea for some time. Certainly, I have had a number of folks say that they would like me too... But then I talk to Ellis or Bill Gleason and hear how much work it takes to get one published and I find my will to do so weakening accordingly. For the time being, I think I will stick to making dvds. They let my get my ideas across and be able to do so dynamically in a way that might be more clear to folks than a book would be.

But thanks for the interest... it's not out of the question. Possibly when I am a bit older and not so busy traveling etc.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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Old 06-23-2009, 06:31 AM   #16
dps
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
... if the principle inside the form isn't there, the technique shouldn't work.

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David Skaggs wrote: View Post
Good article and agree with a lot of what you said. Major exception is,
In Aikido, the ability to apply the principles practically is the measure of your progress. The greater the ability , the greater the progress. As you progress your technique will progress and this is the measure of your ability to apply the principles you have learned.

What other way is there to measure your progress?

David
The practice of Aikido is through techniques to learn the principles, the focus is not on learning the techniques or fighting, but the principles. As you progress in learning the principles your application ot the principles will improve and will be the measure of your progress.

The difference seems to be you saying this is only true in the dojo,
I am saying this is true in and outside of the dojo.

Can you show me anywhere in this thread where I said that the focus of practicing Aikido is fighting?

David

Last edited by dps : 06-23-2009 at 06:38 AM.
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Old 06-23-2009, 09:37 AM   #17
Janet Rosen
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

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Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
This sentence summarizes quite nicely the central point about which this discussion revolves. The realization that Aikido is an emergent process doesn't, IMO, manifest itself until later in one's Aikido life.
um....how old were you when you started training, Ron? Not asked in a snarky way, but I started in middle age and I and many of the middle aged beginners I've met over the yrs come to or stay with the art explicitly because of this.

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-23-2009, 10:33 AM   #18
RonRagusa
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

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Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
um....how old were you when you started training, Ron? Not asked in a snarky way, but I started in middle age and I and many of the middle aged beginners I've met over the yrs come to or stay with the art explicitly because of this.
Hi Janet -

I started Aikido when I was 29. I'll be 62 in two days.

Ron
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Old 06-23-2009, 12:46 PM   #19
Janet Rosen
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

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Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
Hi Janet -
I started Aikido when I was 29. I'll be 62 in two days.
Ron
That's a nice long journey in the art, Ron! Congratulations!

Reason for my question is that based on talking with a lot of folks in and out of aikido, I find that things I am exploring in aikido are close to issues that some non-aikido folks in my peer group are having. The depth and richness inherent in the art MAY speak more to the older student from the start. A generalization to be sure....

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-23-2009, 01:19 PM   #20
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

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Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
The depth and richness inherent in the art MAY speak more to the older student from the start.
That's a good point. It may be that "Aikido training" starts, for some people, before they ever see the inside of a dojo.

Ron
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Old 06-23-2009, 04:33 PM   #21
Kevin Karr
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

Good post George. Why is it good? Because it makes me re-evaluate my perception of Aikido and helps me gain a clearer overall understanding of the practice.

Ellis Amdur wrote a great article on this very same idea titled "Aikido is Three Peaches." In a nutshell, he put forth the argument that O-Sensei's purpose behind Aikido practice was so that one may become an Avatar of the Kami who would then be able to maintain the harmony between Heaven and Earth, or Heaven and Hades, to become that bridge between the two. He stressed a point about that idea of "harmony," saying that it wasn't meant as harmony between two individuals on the mat or on the sidewalk but between the Kami of Heaven and Hades. He also mentions in his article/book "Hidden in plain sight" that O-Sensei said Aikido practice is to open up/ soften up the joints so that one may, If I remember correctly, be able to better channel the Kami through their person (sorry if I messed this one up). I thought he did a very good job in making these points and I found it very interesting.

I believe that one of the things that keeps me intrigued with Aikido (besides just being fun) is that it encompasses so much. It can almost be all things to all people. As you mentioned, and as I have heard from Saotome Sensei as well, Aikido principles can be applied to the fight situation (because "it is all Aikido" so to speak) but that is indeed the "dark side" of Aikido. That is not the purpose for which it was intended, but it can be there and be used if one has properly achieved some level of mastery over the basics. Admittedly, I am one of those people who thinks Aikido can be an effective self-defense method to a certain degree and I think it can be if that martial paradigm is stressed but, on the other hand, I essentially agree with you. Aikido practice, as O-Sensei understood it by the end of his life, is something entirely different and has nothing to do with fighting or self-defense, it is about becoming that bridge between Heaven and Earth and Heaven and Hades.

I do not believe that practicing Aikido with a stress on that martial paradigm means that one is doing "wrong" or "bad" Aikido but it certainly is not O-Sensei's Aikido as he intended it to be later in his life. However, O-Sensei started in much the same way in the Aiki arts. Aiki manifests itself in many variations. I think that O-Sensei had to go through the years of practicing hard style in order to achieve the vision he did later in life. One cannot fly without first learning to walk. But what I am trying to wrap my head around is, why did O-Sensei think it was so important that we become these Avatars of the Kami in order to pacify them as the Three Peaches pacified the Kami of the Underworld? I don't now comprehend how our physical training with each other makes the Gods happy. Is it just because when we practice, we are happy (or, happier, anyway) so, therefore, we put off "happy energy" into the Universe and hopefully this will stop World War III? That sounds like too much hippy wishy-washy stuff to me.

Regardless of what *I* think, this is what O-Sensei thought and he tailored the practice of his Aikido accordingly. It appears to me that he trimmed his Aiki art down to the very basic or essential movements. This made things easier, or harder, depending on one's viewpoint of the practice. As a means of "softening the joints" this probably makes things easier. As a means of "self-defense" it makes things harder. So, your point about the "outer form" is well taken, it is apparent that O-Sensei's later practice of Aikido had nothing to do with "self-defense" so why try to fit a square peg into a round hole? Regardless, O-Sensei's Aiki took on many forms throughout his life and knowledge of the harder style is still out there, passed down through his students (pre and post war) who went after it, and, I think, is still an acceptable part of the Aiki way.

Some of us may someday attain a vision of what O-Sensei did regarding the Kami, but maybe for most of us, we should just concentrate on practicing to the point that "we leave no trace of ourselves."

KK
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Old 06-23-2009, 06:31 PM   #22
dps
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Re: The Practice of Aikido

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Kevin Karr wrote: View Post
ce.

I believe that one of the things that keeps me intrigued with Aikido (besides just being fun) is that it encompasses so much. It can almost be all things to all people. As you mentioned, and as I have heard from Saotome Sensei as well, Aikido principles can be applied to the fight situation (because "it is all Aikido" so to speak) but that is indeed the "dark side" of Aikido. That is not the purpose for which it was intended, but it can be there and be used if one has properly achieved some level of mastery over the basics. Admittedly, I am one of those people who thinks Aikido can be an effective self-defense method to a certain degree and I think it can be if that martial paradigm is stressed but, on the other hand, I essentially agree with you. Aikido practice, as O-Sensei understood it by the end of his life, is something entirely different and has nothing to do with fighting or self-defense, it is about becoming that bridge between Heaven and Earth and Heaven and Hades.

I do not believe that practicing Aikido with a stress on that martial paradigm means that one is doing "wrong" or "bad" Aikido but it certainly is not O-Sensei's Aikido as he intended it to be later in his life. However, O-Sensei started in much the same way in the Aiki arts. Aiki manifests itself in many variations. I think that O-Sensei had to go through the years of practicing hard style in order to achieve the vision he did later in life. One cannot fly without first learning to walk. But what I am trying to wrap my head around is, why did O-Sensei think it was so important that we become these Avatars of the Kami in order to pacify them as the Three Peaches pacified the Kami of the Underworld? I don't now comprehend how our physical training with each other makes the Gods happy. Is it just because when we practice, we are happy (or, happier, anyway) so, therefore, we put off "happy energy" into the Universe and hopefully this will stop World War III? That sounds like too much hippy wishy-washy stuff to me.

Regardless of what *I* think, this is what O-Sensei thought and he tailored the practice of his Aikido accordingly. It appears to me that he trimmed his Aiki art down to the very basic or essential movements. This made things easier, or harder, depending on one's viewpoint of the practice. As a means of "softening the joints" this probably makes things easier. As a means of "self-defense" it makes things harder. So, your point about the "outer form" is well taken, it is apparent that O-Sensei's later practice of Aikido had nothing to do with "self-defense" so why try to fit a square peg into a round hole? Regardless, O-Sensei's Aiki took on many forms throughout his life and knowledge of the harder style is still out there, passed down through his students (pre and post war) who went after it, and, I think, is still an acceptable part of the Aiki way.

KK
Thank you Kevin, I completely agree with you.

David
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