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Old 01-06-2011, 02:23 PM   #1
Gorgeous George
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Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

So I know that this has been discussed - quite heatedly - in the past, here.
And I know that there have always been people saying that there is ambiguity, on account of translation from Japanese to English, about O'Sensei's opinion.

But I got this book for Christmas:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Aikido...4343973&sr=8-1

...it's the translation, and organisation of a series of lectures O'Sensei gave to a religious organisation, and while I understand the author (John Stevens) has no doubt got his own interpretation, and outlook, etc., there is a passage which is very detailed, and so, I think, near-impossible to be mistaken about:

'True budo can never be a sport. In budo we strive to refine and perfect our characters. If we can perfect our characters, we can accomplish anything; in that spirit we as human beings can protect the environment from harm.

Our country never developed Western-style competitive sports, but these days there are those among us who are glad that martial arts are becoming sports. That, however, is a gross misunderstanding of the true nature of budo. Sports are games and a form of play, They are games played by physical entities, not matters of the spirit. In other words, they involve mere competition. Budo, however, is a means to maintain and promote harmony'


(Morihei Ueshiba and John Stevens, The Heart of Aikido: The Philosophy of Takemusu Aiki (Kodansha International Ltd, 2010), p. 52)

Opinions, interpretations, insights...?

Last edited by Gorgeous George : 01-06-2011 at 02:26 PM. Reason: Bold the quote!
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Old 01-06-2011, 02:50 PM   #2
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Like any other translation, I'd want to get additional comments regarding the original Japanese texts. Otherwise, don't care.
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Old 01-06-2011, 04:09 PM   #3
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

So you got the book finally. Santa was comprehensive
I also got a nice gift, nothing material although..
Nice post, thanks Graham
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Old 01-06-2011, 04:50 PM   #4
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Quote:
Carina Reinhardt wrote: View Post
So you got the book finally. Santa was comprehensive
I also got a nice gift, nothing material although..
Nice post, thanks Graham
Haha. I wasn't really expecting it - even though it was on my Amazon wish list; I was hoping for this, though, and got it:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Enlightenmen...4354054&sr=8-1

The Heart of Aikido: The Philosophy of Takemusu Aiki - is beautifully bound; I highly recommend it. It gives great insight into O'Sensei's view of what aikido is.

What did you get...?
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Old 01-06-2011, 05:27 PM   #5
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Quote:
Graham Jenkins wrote: View Post
So I know that this has been discussed - quite heatedly - in the past, here.
And I know that there have always been people saying that there is ambiguity, on account of translation from Japanese to English, about O'Sensei's opinion.
There really is no ambiguity. I haven't read the English version yet, but in the original Japanese Kaiso states quite clearly at one point that competition (specifically, "shiai") is strictly forbidden.

Whether or not you agree with him that this is desirable is a completely different issue, of course.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-06-2011, 08:33 PM   #6
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

I'd like to introduce a sidebar to this thread. Not only did O Sensei have this view of aikido and sport - even Jigoro Kano the founder of judo had a similar view about judo and sport...

Quote:
I have been asked by people of various sections as to the wisdom and possibility of Judo being introduced with other games and sports at the Olympic Games. My view on the matter, at present, is rather passive. If it be the desire of other member countries I have no objection. But I do not feel inclined to take any initiative. For one thing, Judo, in reality, is not a mere sport or game. I regard it as a principle of life, art and science. In fact it is a means for personal cultural attainment. Only one of the forms of Judo training, so-called Randori or free practice, can be classed as a form of sport. Certainly, to some extent, the same may be said of boxing and fencing, but today they are practised and conducted as sports. Then, the Olympic Games are so strongly flavoured with Nationalism that it is possible to be influenced by it and to develop 'Contest Judo,' a retrograde form as Ju Jutsu was before Kodokwan Judo was founded.
Jigoro Kano, 1936
http://ejmas.com/jcs/2004jcs/jcsart_svinth_0504.htm

Last edited by niall : 01-06-2011 at 08:36 PM.

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Old 01-07-2011, 12:09 AM   #7
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Quote:
Niall Matthews wrote: View Post
I'd like to introduce a sidebar to this thread. Not only did O Sensei have this view of aikido and sport - even Jigoro Kano the founder of judo had a similar view about judo and sport...

http://ejmas.com/jcs/2004jcs/jcsart_svinth_0504.htm
And it's not only Judo - Gichin Funakoshi also held a fairly dim view of sport and competition.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-07-2011, 02:03 AM   #8
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Quote:
Graham Jenkins wrote: View Post
Haha. I wasn't really expecting it - even though it was on my Amazon wish list; I was hoping for this, though, and got it:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Enlightenmen...4354054&sr=8-1

The Heart of Aikido: The Philosophy of Takemusu Aiki - is beautifully bound; I highly recommend it. It gives great insight into O'Sensei's view of what aikido is.

What did you get...?
Ok Graham it does not fit in that thread but to replay to you..
You know the best gifts are the ones you cannot get with money.
This year my older son came for his Christmas holidays from the 19thDec to the 31st, he wanted to celebrate New Years eve with his girlfried, but both decided that he should prolong, so he bought a new ticket to return to Madrid yesterday the 6th of Jan, that was my best gift having my son 6 days more here, the whole family together
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Old 01-07-2011, 11:26 AM   #9
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

I don't see how else martial arts as an entity can exist without some form of competition, otherwise it becomes a mere dance and nothing else......
Life is competition .......
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Old 01-07-2011, 12:08 PM   #10
Chris Li
 
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Quote:
Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
I don't see how else martial arts as an entity can exist without some form of competition, otherwise it becomes a mere dance and nothing else......
Life is competition .......
True, but there is some difference between general competition (as for resources, or in battle) and sport, which is what all three of them were really talking about.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-07-2011, 12:14 PM   #11
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

I dont suppose this matter will be resolved any time soon; but considering that the forms of martial art which forbid sport competition used to be taught in the context of sending people off to war to kill people, the proof would be in the pudding. I suppose the more often you survive using the art, the better you are at it. Which leaves plenty of room for potential non survivors.

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 01-07-2011, 12:35 PM   #12
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Quote:
Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
I
Life is competition .......
It is not very stressful to think that life is competition, against who do you must compete? Of course it is your opinion. But I don't agree I do not compete against anybody, just enjoy every day...the same as in aikido, we do not compete in our dojo, our teacher doesn't like it and all the collegues who train with us have the same opinion..
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Old 01-07-2011, 12:57 PM   #13
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Quote:
Carina Reinhardt wrote: View Post
It is not very stressful to think that life is competition, against who do you must compete? Of course it is your opinion. But I don't agree I do not compete against anybody, just enjoy every day...the same as in aikido, we do not compete in our dojo, our teacher doesn't like it and all the collegues who train with us have the same opinion..
Those that do not compete at all, whatever walk of life you are in, are carried by those who do......
Everything is in competition. It's in evolution as Darwin saw it and I see it to...
To me, to say that we are not, the world is not, the universe is not, is again delusional..... It's been going on since "creation" or the big bang if you like.....
Competition is reality, To say we are not in competition is a cop out......
The strongest and fittest survive..... everything dies eventually, but the strongest strain carries on....
Technology has to some extent allowed the less strong, physically weak to live, but even that is a form of competition to see who has the best?.....

Many people who have lived "competitive lives" have also lived full lives to....
to say that competition is harmful or should be forbidden is like saying oh lets not compete to find the best....?
How the world would be if we still remained as slime.......????

Last edited by Tony Wagstaffe : 01-07-2011 at 01:02 PM.
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Old 01-07-2011, 01:00 PM   #14
Gorgeous George
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Quote:
Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
I don't see how else martial arts as an entity can exist without some form of competition, otherwise it becomes a mere dance and nothing else......
Life is competition .......
I think the idea is that the mentality of 'Life is competition' might make sense in terms of Darwinism - Survival of the Fittest - but it is untenable when considering the human race: this mentality was what led to the Nazis nearly exterminating the Jewish people.

I believe that many prominent aikidoka, who were members of the Aikikai, fought in WWII - and survived.

Last edited by Gorgeous George : 01-07-2011 at 01:05 PM. Reason: Corrected spelling
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Old 01-07-2011, 01:02 PM   #15
Gorgeous George
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Quote:
Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
Those that do not compete at all, whatever walk of life you are in, are carried by those who do......
Everything is in competition. It's in evolution as Darwin saw it and I see it to...
To me, to say that we are not, the world is not, the universe is not, is again delusional..... It's been going on since "creation" or the big bang if you like.....
Competition is reality, To say we are not in competition is a cop out......
The strongest and fittest survive..... everything dies eventually, but the strongest strain carries on....
Technology has to some extent allowed the less strong, physically weak to live, but even that is a form of competition to see who has the best.....

Many people who have lived "competitive lives" have also lived full lives to....
to say that competition is harmful or should be forbidden is like saying oh lets not compete to find the best....
How the world would be if we still remained as slime.......????
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leviathan_%28book%29
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Old 01-07-2011, 01:03 PM   #16
Gorgeous George
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Quote:
Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
How the world would be if we still remained as slime.......????
'If you try to imagine, as nearly as you can, what an amount of misery, pain and suffering of every kind the sun shines upon in its course, you will admit that it would be much better if, on the earth as little as on the moon, the sun were able to call forth the phenomena of life; and if, here as there, the surface were still in a crystalline state.'

- Arthur Schopenhauer

Last edited by Gorgeous George : 01-07-2011 at 01:05 PM. Reason: Schopenhauer says it better.
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Old 01-07-2011, 01:11 PM   #17
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
True, but there is some difference between general competition (as for resources, or in battle) and sport, which is what all three of them were really talking about.

Best,

Chris
To compete in battle is to live or die.... win or lose....
To compete in "sport" shiai is to experiment and find out something within the bounds of humanitarian boundaries....
How do you know if your "technique works" in "reality" ?
We cannot if we do not have something to measure it by....
We would not have the Olympics if was not for competition....
I think this planet/world would be a very boring place if we did not have competition......

But many prefer woo woo instead.......

Last edited by Tony Wagstaffe : 01-07-2011 at 01:16 PM.
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Old 01-07-2011, 01:15 PM   #18
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

I think it is a pity that for our children there is so much competition, they must go the the best university, finish one or two carrers, and if they can do even a master to compete with others, very stressful.. Also in technology you buy a computer today and tomorrow it is already old. Where are we going to ? I must not compete at work, I'll do my job as good as ever. So no competition at work, not in aikido, maybe a simple life, but I like it.
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Old 01-07-2011, 01:16 PM   #19
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Quote:
Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
T
to say that competition is harmful or should be forbidden is like saying oh lets not compete to find the best....?
How the world would be if we still remained as slime.......????
In the original Japanese, Kaiso used the word "shiai", which is really a sporting competition. A little bit different than competition in the general sense of competing to survive.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-07-2011, 01:38 PM   #20
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Quote:
Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
I don't see how else martial arts as an entity can exist without some form of competition, otherwise it becomes a mere dance and nothing else......
Life is competition .......
Well, to use an example from the real "internal martial arts" (the "neijia" styles), there is no competition for some years because you can't honestly re-train the body to use internal strength while at the same time you're using your old-style of movement to do techniques, applications, sparring, etc. I have no doubt this was the reason why Ueshiba blocked competitions... it just means that you'll never really learn internal strength.

I personally tend to focus mostly on how to do basic kokyu/jin and ki/body-breath-training for that same reason. Doing dramatic demonstrations or focusing on applications that require internal-strength basics that the students don't really have yet is counter-productive. It's a good debate, but I'll stick with Ueshiba and traditional CMA that say that competition is counterproductive for the reasons I stated.

YMMV

Mike Sigman
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Old 01-07-2011, 01:41 PM   #21
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Quote:
Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
To compete in battle is to live or die.... win or lose....
To compete in "sport" shiai is to experiment and find out something within the bounds of humanitarian boundaries....
How do you know if your "technique works" in "reality" ?
We cannot if we do not have something to measure it by....
We would not have the Olympics if was not for competition....
I think this planet/world would be a very boring place if we did not have competition......

But many prefer woo woo instead.......
Well, sports competition is hardly reality. I've seen plenty of top kendo competitors who couldn't cut their way out of a paper bag.

There are certainly advantages to sports based competitions - but there are just as clearly downsides as well. All of which is beside the point that I was making - which is that Kaiso clearly condemned sports based competition, and that even Kano and Funakoshi had some rather major reservations about it.

That doesn't mean that it's wrong, it just means that was what their opinion was.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-07-2011, 01:53 PM   #22
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Quote:
Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
Those that do not compete at all, whatever walk of life you are in, are carried by those who do......
Everything is in competition. It's in evolution as Darwin saw it and I see it to...
Social darwinism is made up sh*t based in not having a clue in biology nor in social sciences.
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Old 01-07-2011, 02:03 PM   #23
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Well, sports competition is hardly reality. I've seen plenty of top kendo competitors who couldn't cut their way out of a paper bag.

There are certainly advantages to sports based competitions - but there are just as clearly downsides as well. All of which is beside the point that I was making - which is that Kaiso clearly condemned sports based competition, and that even Kano and Funakoshi had some rather major reservations about it.

That doesn't mean that it's wrong, it just means that was what their opinion was.

Best,

Chris
I have also seen top karateka who could not punch there way through a paper bag....? Iiado "experts" who cannot cut through a tatami straw mat.....?
Competition does not mean we have to compete against some "body" to measure.....
Shiai in the way Tomiki Shihan saw it was as a laboratory on the tatami to experiment and improve with our technique, not to destroy one another....
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Old 01-07-2011, 02:05 PM   #24
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Social darwinism is made up sh*t based in not having a clue in biology nor in social sciences.
I don't .....
But you obviously have.......
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Old 01-07-2011, 02:12 PM   #25
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Re: Aikido as Sport: Did O'Sensei Condemn It?

Quote:
Niall Matthews wrote: View Post
I'd like to introduce a sidebar to this thread. Not only did O Sensei have this view of aikido and sport - even Jigoro Kano the founder of judo had a similar view about judo and sport...
Quote:
I have been asked by people of various sections as to the wisdom and possibility of Judo being introduced with other games and sports at the Olympic Games. My view on the matter, at present, is rather passive. If it be the desire of other member countries I have no objection. But I do not feel inclined to take any initiative. For one thing, Judo, in reality, is not a mere sport or game. I regard it as a principle of life, art and science. In fact it is a means for personal cultural attainment. Only one of the forms of Judo training, so-called Randori or free practice, can be classed as a form of sport. Certainly, to some extent, the same may be said of boxing and fencing, but today they are practised and conducted as sports. Then, the Olympic Games are so strongly flavoured with Nationalism that it is possible to be influenced by it and to develop 'Contest Judo,' a retrograde form as Ju Jutsu was before Kodokwan Judo was founded.
Jigoro Kano, 1936
http://ejmas.com/jcs/2004jcs/jcsart_svinth_0504.htm
From my perspective, I'm pretty sure that Kano's comment is pretty darn close to the philosophy surrounding "Ki" that Koichi Tohei uses (it's not a unique viewpoint and has existed for a long time in Asia, from things that I've read over the years).

FWIW

Mike Sigman
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