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Old 12-23-2009, 08:46 PM   #1
akiy
 
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Aikido as a "Budo"?

Dear Voice of Experience members,

(Taking this opportunity to use the "question asking" feature of the VoE forum myself…)

How important is it to you to impart to your students that aikido is a "budo"?

If doing so is important, in what ways (e.g. physical, mental, spiritual) do you impart to your students that aikido is a "budo"?

Any other thoughts on this subject would be appreciated.

Thanks,

-- Jun

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Old 12-24-2009, 08:05 AM   #2
aikishihan
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Re: Aikido as a "Budo"?

Hello Jun,

Thank you for making an opportunity for VOE members to respond to important questions regarding Aiki and Aikido related topics.

Perhaps there is a way to preserve the integrity of the VOE process, and still split off a thread to be continued in the general section? It would be cool to be able to do so. I recall one instance where a "response to loyalty" was successful. That was great!

A Rose is a flower, but a Flower may not be a rose.

Beauty, and "Budo", may well be in the eyes of the beholder.

From the internet, unconfirmed sources indicate that, prior to Meiji, martial arts were commonly referred to as "Koryu Bujutsu". Martial arts introduced after Meiji, were referred to as "Gendai Budo", or "modern martial arts". I have no opinion either way.

The Founder supposedly called his Aikido, the "Budo of Love", and that he felt that his was the ultimate example of "Budo". Again, I have no opinion on these definitions.

For me, any name or title given to some phenomenon should give a readily recognized clue as to what that means to the speaker If not, it should be discarded quckly, as one would a recent rumor.

Words are far more powerful and permanently impacting than most of us realize.

In a court of law. "striking testimony from the records" does not eliminate the effect on those who heard it anyway, like the jury members.

The unseen and unpredictable impact that powerful events or words, spoken in haste to children, ultimately have on these young minds, may be devastating for a lifetime.\, with no one else the wiser.

When using words to describe something both parties are trying to reach agreement on, the responsibility is huge, and imperative that all parties do whatever it takes to get it right. or at least subject to continued discussion and future correction.

For me, I agree with the Founder that his Aikido is a form of Budo.
For the rest of us, the jury will remain out, as I cannot account for how people express and execute their own version of Aikido.

My best regards to all who use terms like "Budo" to explain what they believe in, and what they do. It is that important.

In Oneness,

Last edited by aikishihan : 12-24-2009 at 08:07 AM.
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Old 12-24-2009, 08:29 AM   #3
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Aikido as a "Budo"?

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Hello Jun,

Thank you for making an opportunity for VOE members to respond to important questions regarding Aiki and Aikido related topics.

Perhaps there is a way to preserve the integrity of the VOE process, and still split off a thread to be continued in the general section? It would be cool to be able to do so. I recall one instance where a "response to loyalty" was successful. That was great!

A Rose is a flower, but a Flower may not be a rose.

Beauty, and "Budo", may well be in the eyes of the beholder.

From the internet, unconfirmed sources indicate that, prior to Meiji, martial arts were commonly referred to as "Koryu Bujutsu". Martial arts introduced after Meiji, were referred to as "Gendai Budo", or "modern martial arts". I have no opinion either way.

The Founder supposedly called his Aikido, the "Budo of Love", and that he felt that his was the ultimate example of "Budo". Again, I have no opinion on these definitions.

For me, any name or title given to some phenomenon should give a readily recognized clue as to what that means to the speaker If not, it should be discarded quckly, as one would a recent rumor.

Words are far more powerful and permanently impacting than most of us realize.

In a court of law. "striking testimony from the records" does not eliminate the effect on those who heard it anyway, like the jury members.

The unseen and unpredictable impact that powerful events or words, spoken in haste to children, ultimately have on these young minds, may be devastating for a lifetime.\, with no one else the wiser.

When using words to describe something both parties are trying to reach agreement on, the responsibility is huge, and imperative that all parties do whatever it takes to get it right. or at least subject to continued discussion and future correction.

For me, I agree with the Founder that his Aikido is a form of Budo.
For the rest of us, the jury will remain out, as I cannot account for how people express and execute their own version of Aikido.

My best regards to all who use terms like "Budo" to explain what they believe in, and what they do. It is that important.

In Oneness,
Hi Francis,
I think that almost everyone agrees that Aikido is a Budo. But the question is,,, what does Budo mean to people? For many Budo seems to have something to do with preparing oneself for confrontation with an external enemy. For others, the external enemy seems largely irrelevant and the focus is inwards. "We have met the enemy and he is us" - Pogo

How one defines the practice determines the focus of the training. That focus causes certain questions to be asked. What questions are asked generally determines what answers are received. So it is important how one decides to define the practice.

When the Founder stated that Budo is Love he was consciously redefining the term for his descendants. I think it is important that we keep this in mind when we define our practice for ourselves. It is easy, I think, to go back to older ways of thinking about Budo. But we have been given this great gift of Aikido, a new art with a new definition of Budo. If it seems difficult to get at the meaning, perhaps that's what the practice is about... discovering that meaning for yourself.

Anyway, we are coming into the New Year. It promises to be a great year in many ways. No matter what, this coming year should advance our understanding of Aikido, Budo and ourselves. Hopefully, by the end of the year, our current definitions of Budo will be different than they are now. That's the point of training.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 12-24-2009, 11:23 AM   #4
R.A. Robertson
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Re: Aikido as a "Budo"?

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote: View Post
Dear Voice of Experience members,
[\] How important is it to you to impart to your students that aikido is a "budo"? [\]
Jun,

I agree with the others who have said that it's not enough to assert that aikido is budo, but to say what we mean by these terms.

My interpretation of "budo," as "the way of war," is the simple recognition that existence has inescapable conflict. It's built into the nature of reality. It follows logically that we have to have a sensible way of coming to terms with this. Aikido is one amazingly good method.

Philosophy aside, I also see aikido as a combat art. This means that one's chance of survival in a hand-to-hand combat situation should be improved from the study of aikido. No guarantees, of course, but the practice of your chosen art should give you an advantage that wouldn't otherwise exist.

Tying these together (the philosophical and the practical) is essential. Aikido is really a remarkably different approach to combat. The "bu" in "budo" can be met with "aiki." Conflict may or may not be resolved, but this is irrelevant if no harm occurs. So I would agree with the opinion that aikido is the budo of love.

The discoveries we make about ourselves, our relationships with others and our world through training, through the intense encounters and problems we face on the mat, should address practical combat concerns, and by extension, give us a sensible universal approach to living.

This, to me, is budo.

Ross
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Old 12-25-2009, 08:17 PM   #5
akiy
 
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Re: Aikido as a "Budo"?

Hi everyone,

Thank you for taking the time to think about my questions and for answering them.

These questions have been in my mind as I think about the context within which we, as aikido practitioners, place our practice. Personally, without the understanding and cultivation of the qualities of "budo" within it, our practice becomes merely a repetition of physical exercises. Although there's nothing wrong with that in and of itself, I daresay that calling such as "aikido" would make the name a misnomer.

I am sure that all of you in your classes do repeat many physical movements and exercises. What do you do in your classes that elevate the training past just that? What do you infuse into your training that makes it into "budo"?

I appreciate your patience into my questions.

-- Jun

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Old 12-26-2009, 01:09 PM   #6
aikishihan
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Re: Aikido as a "Budo"?

Hi Jun,

Again, thank you for your patient maintenance of the quality, and the integrity of Aiki Web, in allowing for meaningful exchange of ideas!

As George correctly points out, we need to ask each student, what Aikido training means to them, not only at the outset of training, but throughout their connection with the group.

Then, each of the assistant instructors needs to check in with their respective chief instructors, on a consistent basis, and review their own motives, agendas, and critques of how they are assisting the students in their respective growths.

Notions like "Budo" are intensely personal to me, having my own history of gathering information, insights, exchanging of views with trusted peers, and having the courage and self honesty to adjust or even change my viewpoints on such key issues. In other words, to stay "green growing, instead of ripe and rotting".That's my responsibility.

Before I dare to inflict my limited knowledge and wisdom on my students, I need to know more about their innate, and acquired abilities to understand what I am talking about. This has to take place over time, and cannot be rushed. It is an ongoing mutual journey.

Some essentials I will consistently review with them are concepts such as proper and appropriate (1) Ma ai: the distance to personally maintain and interpersonally to monitor; 2) Shisei: the maintenance of proper physical posture to maximize my body's ability to respond to whatever it encounters; the maintenance of mental shisei, or attitude, to ensure a positive and sensible mindset, whether dealing with a confrontation, or simply keeping my head on straight; 3) Hanmi" the ability to gauge angles, maintain ma ai, and to execute the appropriate kuzushi at the proper moment; 4) Shii kaku, or blind spot, being in that of the opponent, and not him in mine; 5) kuzushi, both executing it, and following up with appropriate technique; 6) metsuke; the ability to take in all before one's sight, without being taken in by any one aspect; 7) Te gatana, the proper use of hand blade, using hachi no ji concepts correctly, just to name a few.

These, and certain notions of ethics and morality are the bulk of what I try to share with my students, tailoring my presentation a little for each one. I finally finish by placing the onus of responsible self image and self defense squarely on their shoulders, emphasizing that they must never relinquish the right to choose life or death answers for themselves. After all, I am merely their assistant instructor.

I remain reluctant to discuss what "Budo", or any other fundamental term we use, as a separate and distinct reality, apart from the entire Aikido experience. I prefer a more "holistic" approach, tying the major concepts, as I see them, together in a woven fabric to wear at all times.

Hope this is closer to what you are looking for.

In Oneness,

Last edited by aikishihan : 12-26-2009 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 12-30-2009, 03:21 AM   #7
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Aikido as a "Budo"?

Hello Jun,

Having read through all the posts so far, I tend to agree with Francis.

Bear in mind that I am training and teaching in Japan, so everything is done in Japanese. However, I am very reluctant to explain 'the meaning of budo' to any of my Japanese students and if any of them ask me, I point them to one of the books that circulate round the dojo, or send them off to the bookstore, where they can easily and cheaply buy the discourses of O Sensei in Japanese.

One thing that is important here is that I am hardly ever asked such a question and so I hardly ever need to attempt to explain 'the real meaning of budo'. I am much more often asked why I started training--I am never asked why I continue training: this is judged to be obvious.

Once I had a long session in the Hombu Dojo with Tada Hiroshi Sensei and Okumura Shigenobu Sensei. The point of the session was to explore why O Sensei forbade competition in aikido and this, of course, led to lengthy discourses about 'the real meaning of budo'. Doshu was actually quite alarmed about the meeting, because he thought I was attempting to raise a western-style question about competition, which might lead to 'competitive' demonstrations in the IAF.

In a way I was attempting to raise such a question, because as Chairman of the IAF, I was attempting to find a rationale for aikido-as-non-competitive-budo, that would be understood by sports organizations such as Olympic Committees, and also give due weight to the undeniable moral values of sport.

Why did I choose Okumura and Tada Shihans to ask? Okumura Sensei's teacher in Manchuria was Kenji Tomiki and Tada Sensei was a student at Waseda University when Tomiki Sensei was a professor there. They would be in the best position to know what Tomiki Sensei meant by competition in aikido and also why Morihei Ueshiba disagreed with his ideas.

Best wishes,

PAG

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 12-30-2009 at 03:24 AM.

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Old 01-01-2010, 12:06 PM   #8
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Re: Aikido as a "Budo"?

Hi Jun et al.,

I would say that in my world, Budo is an aspect of Aikido, in that, what Aikido is to me expresses itself in the practice and manifestation of Budo.

For me, Budo implies two fundamental aspects: one, what I call Martial Responsibility, and two, a positive sense of "generative development" or "refinement" of one's body, one's character, and one's "spirit."

Martial responsibility involves the understanding of physical, technical, relational, and strategic principles that allow for safe and successful self-defense. People have different ideas about how this is achieved, and in my experience, some more successfully than others.

At any rate, this context of self-defense is mitigated by the sense that Aikido adds the ideas of compassion and of not specifically intending to do harm, but to engage the notion of Aiki and "work" towards a more benevolent conclusion, coming out of interpretations of O Sensei's spirituality and "Budo is love" etc.

This is where the two realms overlap (the martial and the developmental), which to me is a lot of what makes Aikido rather unique. The process of "refinement" is reflected in the actuality of the intention and execution of the art, which for me involves the redefinition of martial principles into a more subtle process of conscious response and intentionality.

Specifically, we can speak of this in terms of Musubi, Tsukuri, Kuzushi, and Waza.

One may speak of Musubi (or Ki Musubi), as the process of joining oneself to an attacker's physical and energetic intention and movement - perhaps an integral aspect of Aiki in-and-of-itself. To bring this more into the realm of "do" and not "jutsu" I think of it in terms of not only tracking my partner properly, but also expanding that connection from my center to something "higher" or "larger than myself" thus bringing in the notion of being guided by something more than my own personal limitations of experience, knowledge, and understanding of reality at any given moment.

Tsukuri can be looked at different ways, but traditionally it is often thought of as putting yourself into an optimal position to apply technique. I think of this, superficially, as a combination of Maai, Tai Sabaki and Shikaku, but beyond that, in the transformational process into Budo, I redefine it as movement and relationship that allows for the release of energy that naturally leads to Kuzushi, thus allowing for a generative conclusion to unfold.

Kuzushi refers of course to the process of unbalancing an opponent, and here the notion of transformation can be seen the most, I think, if we redefine it to carry more of a sense of allowing someone to lose their balance, instead of breaking their balance, or executing/doing something to them so they lose their balance. This changes how I go about the process, and makes me far more sensitive to the moment, rather than what I think or want to moment to be or become.

Finally, although it is very important to understand the actual movement and functional elements of technique fully, we can redefine Waza from the perspective of not doing something to someone, but allowing something to happen out of the mutual process described above (something that I have been taking about for almost 30 years) instead of applying a technique to someone. I think this what O Sensei referred to as Take Musu Aiki: creative higher expression through an unfolding martial process, or the spontaneous creative experience of Aiki made conscious through the martial process.

This difference in "thinking" or perspective, leads to a difference in intent, and therefore in experience and consciousness, which is the key to this refinement and development. Aikido, then, is where I engage in a mutual process that has positive intent, higher aspirations and influences, and safe, responsible martial response - not me doing something to someone that involves intentional violence and references that may be reacted against or countered, within a context of polarization and duality of purpose and intention.

This, for me, is what Budo is more about, and this is what I teach on the mat. It's not necessarily for everyone, but I like it.

Happy New Year.

Larry Novick
Head Instructor
ACE Aikido
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Old 01-04-2010, 12:01 PM   #9
akiy
 
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Re: Aikido as a "Budo"?

Hi everyone,

Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with me. You've all given me much to think about.

Happy new year to all of you! I hope I get the chance to see or train with each of you again this year.

-- Jun

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Old 01-04-2010, 12:26 PM   #10
R.A. Robertson
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Re: Aikido as a "Budo"?

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote: View Post
Hi everyone,
[\]
I am sure that all of you in your classes do repeat many physical movements and exercises. What do you do in your classes that elevate the training past just that? What do you infuse into your training that makes it into "budo"?

I appreciate your patience into my questions.

-- Jun
[smiles]
It's sifting through our answers that requires real patience...

There are, predictably, a number of levels to your question. Now, I'm not a zen guy, but some might say the point of sitting in zen is the sitting. Nothing more beyond that. In that spirit, we could say that there is no point to our movements in aikido beyond the movements.

However, in both cases I believe that a certain mindfulness is necessary in order for sitting or moving to be meaningful, even in and of themselves. Perhaps by paying attention, we learn to pay attention.

Having said that, I do include a number of exercises specifically designed to facilitate attentiveness, for both solo practice and partnered. It's important to be able to state clearly what it is we are paying attention to and why it matters.

Nothing special needs to be done to infuse aikido with the spirit of budo if we are really paying attention. The spirit of budo is unavoidably there.

If we look closely, we will see that there is conflict and the potential for conflict everywhere. This, in turn, provides the opportunity to realign forces so that relationships are less at odds, and more in accord.

We can find this in the movements of aikido, both problem and solution. But only if we are looking. The motions truly are sufficient unto themselves, but not if we are only going through the motions.

Does this make sense?

Ross
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