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Old 01-07-2010, 06:40 AM   #51
lbb
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
I'm not against discussing Aikido, but against no-kyu and 5th kyu shihans lecturing everybody what aikido is and how we should practice. They create the informational noise on the forum that suffocates valuable info that comes from experienced folks.
Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote: View Post
I sincerely disagree with your notion that people with less experience are not welcome in engaging in or initiating discussion here on AikiWeb.
Emphasis mine. At the risk of being chided for not taking this to the Feedback forum, I think there's a significant difference in what Szczepan actually said and Jun's interpretation.
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Old 01-07-2010, 07:24 AM   #52
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

I'll be honest. My impression of those statements matches Jun's.

This forum is often hard on new people. It was rough on me too at first. But lately I've been noticing a lot more frequently lower kyu's getting beat on for trying to share their thoughts.

This poor guy is excited about what he is learning. No doubt as he trains his understanding will get deeper as I have found mine is. Instead of bashing him over the head for saying something you disagree with you might try sharing your own insights without all of the condescension and insults. He might even be more inclined to listen to you that way. Lord knows those I see who act so ridiculously I tend to not bother to look to for information.

I have found great value in reading. Linda and I have read many of the same books. Can reading make my aikido good? No but it can help me have more understanding of what martial arts and budo is about and what aikido is about. Actually I like to read life experiences of martial artists. I avoid the technique books. Those things I learn in the dojo.
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:17 AM   #53
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

Quote:
Eugene Leslie wrote: View Post
.... I'm trusting in faith of the experienced to guide me in my new endeavor. ....
Usually I hope my seniors will deliver appropriate attacks so that I have the opportunity to learn something. You might have received some of those opportunities in this thread.

Appropriate defined as "Causing no unintended pain".

Regards,
Mark
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Old 01-07-2010, 05:45 PM   #54
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
*snip* until you define your terms, you cannot expect people to comply with them.
AI KI DO

Self-discipline is the chief element of self-esteem; and self-esteem the chief element of courage. Thucydides
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Old 01-08-2010, 01:27 AM   #55
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

Hi
Quote:
Eugene Leslie wrote: View Post
AI KI DO
I am not quite sure what do you want to expess by writing this?
Is this a definition of terms or ...?

I will try to ak some questions:

First: The way you arrange the syllables, representing the kanji of aikido, is different from the way I arrange them when writing them in romanji.
I understand our practice or the art of Ueshiba Morihei as Aiki Do.
And again aiki can be understood in different ways.

Next: Do you understand "ai" as "love" or do you understand it the way the original kanji of aikido means?
How can we being westerner/christians ... adapt terms of harmony/blending ... which are based in a shintoistic/buddhistic worldview?

Further on: How do you understand "ki"? It depends on the style of aikido you practice: Do you deal with "ki" the way it is done in Shin shin toitsu do/aikido or do you undertand/practice it in other ways?
What is ki in your eyes?

Finally: What concept of "do" do you have? Do you understand it as "dao". And if so, how can you connect/relate this to your western worldview?

In my eyes ai ki do is not a definition, but a question.

Greetings,
Carsten
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Old 01-08-2010, 02:21 AM   #56
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
Hi Phil,

As a beginner, you have no idea what you are talking about.For the moment you can only say : 'Yes, sensei!'. All your intellectual concepts are wrong. I strongly suggest go back to the dojo and train harder. 3 times a day. 20 years. Then come back here and tell us your thoughts on Aikido.

Don't take offence when you read it. Aikido taught me to be honest.
IMO, this "shut up and train" attitude is responsible for a lot of the ills that plague modern Aikido. You have a fairly sizeable portion of the "senior" generation of Aikidoka with wrecked bodies and mediocre technique despite decades of dedicated study because, in part, they weren't encouraged to ask the right questions.

No offence
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Old 01-09-2010, 03:40 PM   #57
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

Quote:
Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post
Hi

I am not quite sure what do you want to expess by writing this?
Is this a definition of terms or ...?

I will try to ak some questions:

First: The way you arrange the syllables, representing the kanji of aikido, is different from the way I arrange them when writing them in romanji.
I understand our practice or the art of Ueshiba Morihei as Aiki Do.
And again aiki can be understood in different ways.

Next: Do you understand "ai" as "love" or do you understand it the way the original kanji of aikido means?
How can we being westerner/christians ... adapt terms of harmony/blending ... which are based in a shintoistic/buddhistic worldview?

Further on: How do you understand "ki"? It depends on the style of aikido you practice: Do you deal with "ki" the way it is done in Shin shin toitsu do/aikido or do you undertand/practice it in other ways?
What is ki in your eyes?

Finally: What concept of "do" do you have? Do you understand it as "dao". And if so, how can you connect/relate this to your western worldview?

In my eyes ai ki do is not a definition, but a question.

Greetings,
Carsten
You seem very knowledgeable and I have read your post with a receptive heart. You bring up good points and they make me delve deeper and question things so I thank-you.
My view is not so deep and profound: I'm not writing a thesis.
I've been frustrated in trying to explain myself when "pressed" about my comment of joining Aikido for spiritual reasons.

I thought by just stating the name of the martial art I've recently become passionate about, I could explain and quell the barrage.

While we're on the subject I'll view this as an opportunity to learn and I will answer your questions best I can in the hopes of creating informative, friendly dialogue.

I know the definition of "kanji" and it's my understanding that not only can one kanji have multiple meanings but that they crossover into different oriental languages as well.

AI Harmony or blending. I think it's a bit presumptuous to peg me as a western christian (though you are correct) in this day and age of globalism and multi-culturalism.
As far as understanding the quiet, reflective, meditative world-view of Shintoism and Buddhism I think after all the warfare of our ancestors: your Teutonic Knight ancestors and my Anglo-Saxon forefathers (and I agree there wasn't much harmony); the world is finally realizing a modicum of understanding and peace to where we can understand these principles.

KI Spirit or energy. I won't even approach this one with a ten foot pole because this site isn't large enough for the arguement. Circulating life energy: anywhere from life-force to auras to midiclorians in the blood if you attend the church of Star Wars; but I have taken kung-fu (chi) and I have experienced the benefits of combining "it" with technique, thought and breathing; especially in "heavy" vs. "light" department. I've seen many demonstations of amazing feats so enough to say I believe and maybe if I train long enough and supplement with meditation I'll gain enough wisdom to descibe the definition of KI in my eyes. (Thanks for bringing Shin Shin Toitsu Do to my attention).

DO Path or Way. Not the "religion" of Daoism.

I'm practicing "rejecting" my "western" view and ego so I prefer not to connect or relate the two views of occidental and oriental; just self-discovery without the FEAR of governmental, religious and economic control

The following quote is from the Aikikai Foundation Website and it sums up what i've been trying to comment on from the get-go.

Sincerely; Gene...over and out.

"Since contemporary values stress respect for human life, Aikido is a highly relevant form of the Japanese martial arts. Aikido is popular not just in Japan but throughout the world because people accept and agree with the underlying philosophy of Aikido".

Self-discipline is the chief element of self-esteem; and self-esteem the chief element of courage. Thucydides
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Old 01-09-2010, 07:02 PM   #58
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

The original poster will likely never post to Aikiweb again...
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Old 01-09-2010, 08:01 PM   #59
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

Quote:
At the risk of being chided for not taking this to the Feedback forum, I think there's a significant difference in what Szczepan actually said and Jun's interpretation.
Ms Malmros and All,

I agree.

Case in point, two weeks ago this site was overrun, in my opinion, by neophytic opinion and assertions, now where are they?

Whether there was administrative intervention, or bowed out on their own really does not matter. I do know that two individuals, combined martial arts training totals 65 plus years, were chastised and punished. I was one of them.

I have no qualms with Aikiweb or its' administration, but at what point do we not stand and tell the truth.

Respect to All,

Mickey
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Old 01-10-2010, 12:17 PM   #60
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Ai symbol Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

This has been a very interesting discussion, with a lot of food for though from many points of view. Thank you to everyone who has posted. I've got a lot from hearing your thoughts, and especially from going over them again this morning.

Here's something relevant I read last night, from "The Secret Teachings of Aikido" by Morihei Ueshiba (O Sensei) - which coincidentally arrived about the time this thread was getting started. I have not started to read the book yet, but in the preface Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba says:
"...
Although the practice of Aikido has become widespread, however, misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the philosophy of the art have occurred. It is our responsibility to present the true spirit of Aikido, not just its physical aspects, in order to further, and correctly advance, the cause of Aikido in contemporary society.
...
I will be very happy if those who are engaged in heartfelt Aikido training make this book of the Founder's lessons their daily companion and study his words often. This was also the sincere hope of the Founder and the second Doshu Kisshomaru, who are surely please by the publication of this international edition of The Secret Teachings of Aikido."
Doshu makes no reference to any level of proficiency or number or years' training one should achieve before reading the Founder's words, or for that matter before presenting the true spirit of Aikido. He doesn't specify which ranks he means when he says "It is our responsibility..."

Perhaps the more experienced students among us here could offer guidance on these matters for those of us who have only started on this path recently?

Also, regarding the advice to "train harder," specifically what is meant by that? My initial banal and probably incorrect interpretation would be to train with more force, more aerobically, for more hours. I'm guessing something more (or entirely different) is implied.

Domo.

Last edited by Linda Eskin : 01-10-2010 at 12:19 PM. Reason: Corrected a typo.

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Old 01-10-2010, 03:47 PM   #61
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

Quote:
Linda Eskin wrote: View Post
Doshu makes no reference to any level of proficiency or number or years' training one should achieve before reading the Founder's words, or for that matter before presenting the true spirit of Aikido. He doesn't specify which ranks he means when he says "It is our responsibility..."
A while back, I told myself that I had had my say on this thread and that I was done with it, that anything else I said would only be repeating myself...but the persistent misunderstanding of the comments about reading, such as the comment quoted here, have gotten me to renege on that promise. The message isn't, "Don't read", and it certainly isn't, "You may only read when you've trained x years and achieved y rank." The message, as I see it, is that when you are a beginner, reading isn't going to help you, and may in fact only serve to confuse or mislead you. Once again, as with my most recent comment, I see a significant and nontrivial difference between these two points. It's necessary to paraphrase in order to address one another's points; however, in doing so, we need to be very careful not to alter the core meaning of each other's statements.
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Old 01-10-2010, 05:57 PM   #62
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

Thank you Mary. I value your experience, and really appreciate your jumping back into the conversation.

I told myself the same thing (about being done with this thread), but then came across that preface by Doshu, which led me to revisit the posts. I did not want to leave the impression here that I had been asked to leave, or had bowed out on my own either.

I didn't intend to paraphrase anything you had said. It was someone else who responded to me directly, saying "What arrogance!" for suggesting reading, and went on to add that "No, Linda, as you can see, reading books doesn't do any good."

It was an author whose words led me to begin practicing Aikido, and I feel I've benefitted from the variety of reading I've done. So when another beginner, Eugene, asked "Can someone direct me to a website or literature..." my reply was to suggest to him what worked for me "... find any books that sound interesting to you, that get decent reviews on Amazon, and read them. Get a lot of points of view. It helps me learn to learn - what to look for, questions to keep in mind - if that makes sense."

I can see your point about how for some people, reading could be confusing or misleading, especially (my thoughts only, not intending to tag this onto your words) if one has little life experience, or poor critical thinking skills. Of course the same could be said for reading what people post here, watching videos, or for that matter choosing a dojo and sensei. In every case one has to make some judgment about whether the information is sound, and whether the source is to be trusted.

How we practice Aikido, how we learn about Aikido, and what we gain from that practice and study are all questions that interest me. I'm grateful for your thoughts, and I am keen to hear what others have to say, too.

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Old 01-10-2010, 06:46 PM   #63
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

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Michael Gelum wrote: View Post
Ms Malmros and All,

I agree.

Case in point, two weeks ago this site was overrun, in my opinion, by neophytic opinion and assertions, now where are they?

Whether there was administrative intervention, or bowed out on their own really does not matter. I do know that two individuals, combined martial arts training totals 65 plus years, were chastised and punished. I was one of them.

I have no qualms with Aikiweb or its' administration, but at what point do we not stand and tell the truth.

Respect to All,

Mickey
Those darn varmits!

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Old 01-10-2010, 07:01 PM   #64
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

Quote:
Linda Eskin wrote: View Post
I can see your point about how for some people, reading could be confusing or misleading, especially (my thoughts only, not intending to tag this onto your words) if one has little life experience, or poor critical thinking skills.
Well...I had a jodo sensei once who said, to a student who was intellectualizing his experience, "Don't think -- do!" I think that was good advice -- yeah, it was a "shut up and train", and it was absolutely appropriate. Furthermore, I think that that's advice that applies very widely -- almost universally. I don't think it's just "some people", but the large majority of people -- as close to "everyone" as makes no difference -- who need a lot of doing to anchor a very little thinking, and that if you don't keep the proportion of doing to thinking waaaaay high, that's where the confusion comes in.

That's why I don't read aikido theory, and I avoid esoteric-sounding metaphors like "extend your ki" in favor of very concrete descriptions of mechanics. Of course the mechanics aren't all there is to it, but aikido is performed by physical bodies, and if we can't understand the mechanics -- if we aren't firmly grounded in the mechanics, by virtue of a great deal of practice -- what hope do we have of using the metaphors in a meaningful way, instead of just parroting them because they sound like the right thing to say? I'm not against books; I love to read. But aikido is a physical practice, not an esoteric practice, and I've only got a few years at it. I might be able to suck up some theory now and not be confused by it, but OTOH I don't need it, at least not at this point -- my practice is continuing to progress without it just fine. That being the case, I guess I'm just disinclined to mess with something that's working.

p.s. Now, of course, would be the time for you (or anyone reading) to point to the example of martial artists of the past who went off and meditated and thought and searched for answers until they had some brilliant revelation that made them All That. One good example that I know about is the legend of Muso Gonnosuke, who founded the Shindo Muso-ryu after meditating on his defeat by Musashi and receiving a vision that led to the creation of the jo and jojutsu. If you just read that part of the story, it sounds like meditating is a shortcut to martial arts prowess...except that leaves out all the years that Muso trained prior to his period of seclusion. In addition, if you believe the legend, Muso's seclusion wasn't all chanting and meditation and other esoteric practices -- he spent plenty of time training as well. So, yes, maybe it's the case that if you meditate real hard, a kami will come and, like Muso, tell you to "know your opponent's solar plexus with the round stick" -- but I have a feeling that throughout history, revelations like these have come to those who had a framework of past experience that allowed them to put the revelation to some useful purpose.

Pardon the ramble...
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Old 01-10-2010, 07:01 PM   #65
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

Mr. Wood,

That's is truly funny...thanks for the laugh..

Train well,

Mickey
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Old 01-10-2010, 07:15 PM   #66
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
...That's why I don't read aikido theory, and I avoid esoteric-sounding metaphors like "extend your ki" in favor of very concrete descriptions of mechanics...

Pardon the ramble...
Thank you for the ramble. It is much appreciated.

I agree entirely on the issue of not trying to learn how to *do* Aikido from books. That would be like trying learn to sing or dance from a book.

The reading I have found most helpful and interesting has been about martial history and culture, lineages, various people's personal experiences of discovering and practicing Aikido, what it's like to be an uchi deshi, the meanings of items and activities in the dojo environment, and so on.

Thanks again, Mary. (And Ricky, that was hilarious. )

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Old 01-11-2010, 10:48 AM   #67
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
The message isn't, "Don't read", and it certainly isn't, "You may only read when you've trained x years and achieved y rank." The message, as I see it, is that when you are a beginner, reading isn't going to help you, and may in fact only serve to confuse or mislead you.
There are a couple of aspects of "beginner" that are relevant here, IMO.

The aspect of being a beginner that I think Mary was focused on is spelled out very clearly in her next post.

To me, being a "thinker" on the mat is like relying on physical strength in learning Aikido -- the individual has come to believe that a certain quality they perceive in themselves is an asset in dealing with life situations, and habitually rely on that quality even when it does not serve them well.

It can sound equally paradoxical when a thoughtful or physically strong person begins training in Aikido and hears "don't rely on your understanding," or "don't rely on your strength." I think the apparent paradox stems from the unrealized need to break from old patterns. (Relevant disclosure: I still hear both messages myself).

Just as practice ought to offer a different and more supple kind of "strength" over time, so too ought it offer a different, arguably more supple and immediate, way to "understand." And just as the strong person repeatedly will discover their pre-existing way of using "strength" is a handicap, the intellectualizing person repeatedly will find themselves stuck in a perceptual well and trying to react to a moment that already has, for practical purposes, swept on by.

Another aspect of being a beginner applies to the student "of" aikido as an intellectual subject. We all start learning the corpus of what has been written about Aikido from an arbitrary point, and our partial knowledge may well be different and/or appear more certain than it would from the vantage of having read (or practiced) for a longer time (preferably, I believe with the kind of ratio of practice-to-thought that Mary described).

Compared to many who post here, I consider myself still a beginner on both levels on most issues. As for the value of these forums, one for me lies in a wealth of detailed information provided by those who have spent many years studying and practicing. Another is a greater appreciation for the multiplicity of legitimate meanings Aikido may have either as a practice or as an intellectual subject.

That said, I'm afraid my ratio of practice-to-thought just went askew....

FWIW

cdh
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Old 01-16-2010, 11:07 AM   #68
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Well...I had a jodo sensei once who said, to a student who was intellectualizing his experience, "Don't think -- do!" I think that was good advice -- yeah, it was a "shut up and train", and it was absolutely appropriate. Furthermore, I think that that's advice that applies very widely -- almost universally. I don't think it's just "some people", but the large majority of people -- as close to "everyone" as makes no difference -- who need a lot of doing to anchor a very little thinking, and that if you don't keep the proportion of doing to thinking waaaaay high, that's where the confusion comes in.

That's why I don't read aikido theory, and I avoid esoteric-sounding metaphors like "extend your ki" in favor of very concrete descriptions of mechanics. Of course the mechanics aren't all there is to it, but aikido is performed by physical bodies, and if we can't understand the mechanics -- if we aren't firmly grounded in the mechanics, by virtue of a great deal of practice -- what hope do we have of using the metaphors in a meaningful way, instead of just parroting them because they sound like the right thing to say? I'm not against books; I love to read. But aikido is a physical practice, not an esoteric practice, and I've only got a few years at it. I might be able to suck up some theory now and not be confused by it, but OTOH I don't need it, at least not at this point -- my practice is continuing to progress without it just fine. That being the case, I guess I'm just disinclined to mess with something that's working.
That was a great post. I've been on this forum for a bit now and it's easily deduced by alot of your posts that you are an opponent to the thought of anything that would make Aikido anything but physical movements. The above quote sums up some good points but I have been around the block on my tricycle, have been in fights and USED to watch MMA, was critically pragmatic....but I know that Aikido does offer an underlying philosophy or (insert word here) that other forms of self-defense do not have. I agree that one should put in the time before seeing a golden fountain in the garden.
You made it clear that the opinions are yours so I really respect that which is why I read your posts with a receptive attitude.
I guess it comes down to why one is studying Aikido...a personal path or choice in the hopes of gaining something...
If it's only about mechanics...get a firearm....they're a wonder of physical mechanics......

Self-discipline is the chief element of self-esteem; and self-esteem the chief element of courage. Thucydides
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Old 01-16-2010, 01:52 PM   #69
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

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That was a great post. I've been on this forum for a bit now and it's easily deduced by alot of your posts that you are an opponent to the thought of anything that would make Aikido anything but physical movements
"easily deduced", hmm? That brings to mind the saying, "It ain't what you don't know that will get you, it's what you know that just ain't so."

I'm not an "opponent" to any way of thinking. I just think that some are more useful than others for a person in a given situation. Part of it is just the old saying about crawling before you walk and walking before you run. Saying that a six-month-old child would be better off doing some crawling does not make one an opponent of running, but when a six-month-old child tries to run and it ends in tears, no one should be very surprised.

The other part is what David Henderson said above (thanks for that post, by the way, David -- it was really well put). You've heard the expression "empty your cup", and clearly you understand what it means, at least in the same sense that I've always understood it, of setting aside previous knowledge so that new knowledge can take hold -- but I think David is pointing to an even deeper "emptying of the cup", in which you set aside your very way of learning. This is very difficult for adults, who feel the urge to demonstrate competence (even as beginners), or at the very least to try to categorize and systematize what it is they're learning, in ways that have been successful for them in the past. But David's right, just as old facts can get in the way of new ones if you insist on holding on to them and trying to make them relevant to the new information, so can old ways of learning completely prevent the adoption of new ways that are better ways to learn the new stuff. And yes, it is a new way of learning, although I don't think I'm going to convince you of that.
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Old 01-16-2010, 02:10 PM   #70
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

Actually, you know what? Cancel all that (I just took a good look at you wrote and what I wrote, had a good laugh, and tried to delete it, but I'm beyond the 15 minute limit so I couldn't). I guess I'll just say that I'd love to show you your post in five years or so, and see what you think about it then.
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Old 01-16-2010, 03:25 PM   #71
mathewjgano
 
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Dojo: Tsubaki Kannagara Jinja Aikidojo; Himeji Shodokan Dojo
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Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Well...I had a jodo sensei once who said, to a student who was intellectualizing his experience, "Don't think -- do!" I think that was good advice -- yeah, it was a "shut up and train", and it was absolutely appropriate. Furthermore, I think that that's advice that applies very widely -- almost universally. I don't think it's just "some people", but the large majority of people -- as close to "everyone" as makes no difference -- who need a lot of doing to anchor a very little thinking, and that if you don't keep the proportion of doing to thinking waaaaay high, that's where the confusion comes in.
Well said, Mary! I can attest to what gets the most accomplished in "training" between thinking and doing: definately the doing. The mind organizes input and can help us to re-evaluate older, pre-existing sets of experience. However, without that experience, the mind is essentially blind.
For me the bottom line to learning Aikido has to do with the fact that to physically act well people pretty much always have to practice acting well ("doing things good," as one friend of mine would say). You can use insight to cut to the chase, but you still need to develop the muscle memory so you can perform the action without thinking it through. For a strong mind-body you have to have both mind and body as engaged as possible, and focusing on only one generally takes away from the other.

As it relates to vague phrases like "extend your ki," I come from a somewhat constructivist stance on learning coupled with a strong affinity for immersion tactics so I have no problem when people start telling me to do things I have little understanding of. It's demanding, but that's the beauty of the teaching tactic: it demands greater engagement which in turn promotes greater returns...theoretically. It does often require strong "scaffolding" to keep the student engaged and progressing (it's amazing how many people, when after thinking, "I don't get it," simply stop trying).

Gambarimashyo!
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