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Old 01-18-2011, 08:30 AM   #26
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
Keith Gates wrote: View Post
... Aikido ... can be what you want it to be.
I think this way of thinking, misses what aikido can really give.
If you think aikido to be what you want it to be, you will always just get out, what you yourself can give.
This way of thinking won't help to break through your limits or personal "frontiers".

Quote:
... what really matters, ... is that you enjoy your training.
What means "to enjoy"?
aikido is or at least can be very hard work.
It questions the pracitioner existentially.
It hurts, aches body and soul.
It changes practicing the person.
Practicing aikido is a very demanding, hard way to find life. So what means "to enjoy" then?

Quote:
Most importantly it seems it is a time when you need not worry about ... or whatever.
This sounds as if aikido is just a way to calm down from the job or relax from family responsibilities or other obligations?
I think this doesnt't meat what aikido really has to give.

I wonder if practicing a budo really can be described in such a way? This to me sounds more like a hobby.
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Old 01-18-2011, 08:38 AM   #27
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Re: The Essence of Training

I agree with Keith. Maybe the difference is between teaching aikido or just training. I know it is hard work. But I made the experience that the more I train (for example in a seminar) and tired my body is, more relaxed is my mind and more positive are my thoughts, for me after hard training it is like coming back from holidays...
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Old 01-18-2011, 09:11 AM   #28
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Re: The Essence of Training

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"There are many paths to the top of Mount Fujiyama but only one summit"
But not all paths lead to the top of mount Fujiyama.
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:54 AM   #29
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
Carina Reinhardt wrote: View Post
Maybe the difference is between teaching aikido or just training.
No, don't think so.
There are just different ways of how practice. Different images of aikido, different aims. Different priorities in life.
Be it as teacher be it as student.
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:19 AM   #30
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post
No, don't think so.
There are just different ways of how practice. Different images of aikido, different aims. Different priorities in life.
Be it as teacher be it as student.
Maybe Carsten, but think that life is so short, you must try to enjoy aikido as well as your work and taking care of your family. So even if you train very hard aikido, you should enjoy it.
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:19 AM   #31
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
Well said. Different people have different priorities. It would be stupid to assume we all trained for the same reasons. Hell, I know a number of people who haven't even taken a martial art and somehow manage to not get thrashed at all in their whole lives. Some even kicked ass without a day on the mat. Go figure.
Point is, while I agree that people who want to learn serious body skills with regard to attack/defense should train very very (very) seriously, people who are content with something less should probably do less.
Wasn't there a famous karateka who lamented about how much good in the world he could have accomplished if he had taken his discipline and focus and applied it to something else?
And some of the toughest people I've known were marked as wussies. Life aint so simple. Yeah, pay attention and be sharp, but for gods' sake "enjoy yo'se'f."
Yours in wussiness,
Matt

Not necessarily, because you bring your character with you where ever you go. Bad mo-fos can do yoga, sip fruity drinks, wear spandex and take synchronized swimming classes: they're still bad mo-fos.
I quite like honest wussies....... I was a wussie once....... Only trouble was my wussiness kept getting me beat up and.... well you know the rest......
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:53 AM   #32
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
Carina Reinhardt wrote: View Post
Maybe Carsten, but think that life is so short, ...
I think the whole life lies in every given second. So life isn't short but it is now. It is in every moment.
And I don't think I have to or want to enjoy life but I have to and want to fill it, to live it.

Quote:
... you must try to enjoy aikido as well as your work ...
I'm doing neither my job nor aikido to enjoy them. But I chose both because I think it is the "right" way for me, to fill my live, to give it a sense, to not waist my time on earth ... to live my live.

Quote:
... and taking care of your family.
This is very interesting to me:
My "patchwork" family (does this term exist in english?) is like a network that holds me, gives me power, enrichens me. I always experienced "familiy" as people who take care of me and not the other way round. And because we all take care of another, there are a whole lot of possibilities for everyone of us.

Quote:
So even if you train very hard aikido, you should enjoy it.
Wel, hard training indeed is very enjoyable.
But when you live aikido for some time, a lot of conflicts emerge, there moments to cry because this or that happens, there are times when you have to make hard decissions, to leave someone or something behind.
I seldom see my now teacher, I have to take care for myself. There are questions among us higher graded students. and so on.
At the moment we try to get a dojo for ourselves, for our aikido-club.
My former teacher tried to make this dream come true in 1998 and the club split. Some years ago I left this teacher.
Now it is me to try to give our club a own dojo ...

All that said:
Yes, you are right!
I enjoy very much living live this way.

Last edited by Carsten Möllering : 01-18-2011 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 01-18-2011, 12:27 PM   #33
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Re: The Essence of Training

Of course Carsten, if our dojo would split or our teacher would leave us, it would be very bad for us.
About the shortness of life: in 2009 died a collegue almost 52 y. with whom I had worked for 26 years seeing him every day 8 hours in 3 month, last year my aunt and she knew her disease a year before and enjoyed her last year traveling, these experiences makes you think a lot and so who cares about small things in life you don't like?? As you said we must live the moment..
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Old 01-18-2011, 01:03 PM   #34
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Re: The Essence of Training

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Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
I quite like honest wussies....... I was a wussie once......
Know thy self. I suppose one could say the essence of training has to do with that kind of honesty. Sincerity and recognizing the fact that "tough" is situational. I grew up with folks who looked at tough as the ability to dish out the pain, but I always viewed it as the ability to endure. I've known a number of tough guys who couldn't cope the moment they were shown their own weakness. In my experience, the wusses usually knew their shortcomings better than the toughies and as such always seemed to be better prepared when the "truth" of their world-view suddenly "bloody hurt" like hell.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 01-18-2011, 03:18 PM   #35
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Re: The Essence of Training

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Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
Know thy self. I suppose one could say the essence of training has to do with that kind of honesty. Sincerity and recognizing the fact that "tough" is situational. I grew up with folks who looked at tough as the ability to dish out the pain, but I always viewed it as the ability to endure. I've known a number of tough guys who couldn't cope the moment they were shown their own weakness. In my experience, the wusses usually knew their shortcomings better than the toughies and as such always seemed to be better prepared when the "truth" of their world-view suddenly "bloody hurt" like hell.
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Old 01-18-2011, 05:14 PM   #36
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
I quite like honest wussies....... I was a wussie once....... Only trouble was my wussiness kept getting me beat up and.... well you know the rest......
Isn't a wussie the same as bunny?

David
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Old 01-18-2011, 05:39 PM   #37
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Re: The Essence of Training

Yet another interesting thread degenerating to a bunny/hardass dichotomy. Bored and outta here!

Best in training to you all!

Russ
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Old 01-18-2011, 06:17 PM   #38
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
Isn't a wussie the same as bunny?

David
Not sure David.......

Ask a bunny.....
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Old 01-18-2011, 06:40 PM   #39
mathewjgano
 
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
Russ Qureshi wrote: View Post
Yet another interesting thread degenerating to a bunny/hardass dichotomy. Bored and outta here!

Best in training to you all!

Russ
It's somewhat inevitable. Why not post something more along the lines of what you're hoping to see then? Rather than posting on how bored you are with it, why not redirect the conversation in a way you see as more positive?
What were the parts of the conversation you found most interesting?

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 01-18-2011, 07:46 PM   #40
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
It's somewhat inevitable.
Well, no, it isn't. People choose to go there. Don't make excuses for them.
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Old 01-18-2011, 08:15 PM   #41
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: The Essence of Training

Hello Mr Suter,

Do you have an aikido teacher, or do you run your dojo by yourself? If so, have you had any conversations about the 'essence of training'?

One of the problems with forums such as Aikiweb is that aikido teachers seem to post comparatively rarely. For example, absolutely none of my own teachers ever posts here (but some of them have their own websites and even have accounts on Facebook).

Many of my teachers were/are quite approachable and I was able to discuss such an issue as this. (I use the present and past tense because some of them have passed away.) All of them had/have families, but not all are professional aikido teachers. So balancing training and family is also an issue for them--and they coped with it in different ways and, I might add, with varying degrees of success.

One way of seeing whether training has an essence is to look at other activities that need it, such as painting, calligraphy, or playing a musical instrument. There are several Japanese words for training, but the central term is shugyo (修業 / 修行) and the term has a very long history. Renshu 練習 is also used. Both denote many, many repetitions of prescribed activities. The end ot goal, of course, depends on the activity.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 01-19-2011, 12:34 AM   #42
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Mr Suter,

Do you have an aikido teacher, or do you run your dojo by yourself? If so, have you had any conversations about the 'essence of training'?

One of the problems with forums such as Aikiweb is that aikido teachers seem to post comparatively rarely. For example, absolutely none of my own teachers ever posts here (but some of them have their own websites and even have accounts on Facebook).

Many of my teachers were/are quite approachable and I was able to discuss such an issue as this. (I use the present and past tense because some of them have passed away.) All of them had/have families, but not all are professional aikido teachers. So balancing training and family is also an issue for them--and they coped with it in different ways and, I might add, with varying degrees of success.

One way of seeing whether training has an essence is to look at other activities that need it, such as painting, calligraphy, or playing a musical instrument. There are several Japanese words for training, but the central term is shugyo (修業 / 修行) and the term has a very long history. Renshu 練習 is also used. Both denote many, many repetitions of prescribed activities. The end ot goal, of course, depends on the activity.

Best wishes,
Thanks for the reply Mr Goldsbury.

I have a teacher who I routinely train with. He stepped away from aikido to bring up his two boys. In fact, I started aikido under one of his senior students and only began training with him when his boys were older, and family life was less demanding for him. So I guess I'm attempting to remain training through the 'early days' of my two girls' upbringing. This means that my time on the mat is very important to me.

Also, I have started a small off-shoot class at the High School I work at, so I am, in a way, a teacher of my own 'club'. This has lead me to really question my training and seek the truth of what I am doing. In doing so I hope to maintain my integrity as a teacher of this art.
This has lead me to be more active on this forum because I stumble upon some very useful pieces of information amongst the other...material...written here.

Anyway, I will bring this issue up with my teacher, as I have never talked about it candidly.

Thank you.

Dean.

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 01-19-2011, 12:57 AM   #43
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Well, no, it isn't. People choose to go there. Don't make excuses for them.
No, it isn't exactly inevitable. I intended the "somewhat" to show I understand it's a choice. My point was that over time we're somewhat bound to come across it...particularly online.
Given that, it just seems like a shame for a conversation that's being enjoyed to stall because something someone else said that happened to be disagreeable. If someone finds the topic interesting and it is inspiring thought, I really want to hear about it.
Take care,
Matt

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Old 01-19-2011, 06:46 AM   #44
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
Dean Suter wrote: View Post

Anyway, I will bring this issue up with my teacher, as I have never talked about it candidly.

Thank you.

Dean.
Hello Mr Suter,

You should do so. I had the benefit of long sessions with some of my own teachers and these discussions are something I will treasure just as much as the training.

The impression I have from some posts in this forum is that very few Aikiweb members have heart-to-heart sessions about their training with their Sensei. 'Sensei' is often put on a pedestal, because of superior technical ability, and this superior ability is sometimes extended to everything else in human experience. So 'Sensei' becomes a life guru. I saw this very clearly when I trained in the New England Aikikai in the early 1970s. At the time, I had great sympathy for the late Kanai Mitsunari Shihan, because he was sometimes put into a position he could not possibly fulfill--and this had to do with the reasons why some of his students trained. They wanted to grasp the essence of aikido, if possible by the first practice--and this understanding had to deepen with each successive practice, or else something was seriously amiss.

I am very happy that in my own dojos here in Hiroshima, my students (all Japanese, with ages varying from about 8 to 70) do not come to practice aikido because they want to understand the essence of training or to become better people: as far as I can see, they are very good already. They come for repeated practice of exercises and waza and are very happy when they can do these to my satisfaction. And that is it: they do not have--or they never talk about--their ulterior motives for doing this: and I would never ask them.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 01-19-2011, 06:47 AM   #45
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: The Essence of Training

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
There are several Japanese words for training, but the central term is shugyo (修業 / 修行) and the term has a very long history. Renshu 練習 is also used.
Could you please describe how keiko けい古 relates to shugyo and renshu?

Last edited by Carsten Möllering : 01-19-2011 at 06:58 AM.
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Old 01-19-2011, 06:58 AM   #46
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: The Essence of Training

[quote=Carsten Möllering;273645]
Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
There are several Japanese words for training, but the central term is shugyo (修業 / 修行) and the term has a very long history. Renshu 練習 is also used. /QUOTE]Could you please describe how keiko けい古 relates to shugyo and renshu?
Please give me a few days, for I am struggling to finish TIE 19 (which deals with a very difficult and controversial subject) within Jun's deadline and your request will involve much research into Japanese usage. If Josh Reyer sees your post, he might give you a sound answer.

PAG

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Old 01-19-2011, 07:04 AM   #47
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: The Essence of Training

Thank you!
No need to hurry!
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Old 01-20-2011, 03:41 AM   #48
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: The Essence of Training

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
... in my own dojos here in Hiroshima, my students ... do not come to practice aikido because they want to understand the essence of training or to become better people... .
They come for repeated practice ... .
This is also true for the way of practicing aikido as I learned it from my teacher and try to do it myself.
Just practice ... .

Christian Tissier once said, being asked why he holds on to praticing aikido, that he feels it is "simply the right thing to do for him". (cited from heart)
My teacher after practice just asks with a smile : "Did you move yourself?" (Don't know how this sounds in english. There are some connotations in German I can't transfer.)
That's our "purpose" of training.
Just do, just repeat, just get what the teacher tries to show, try to do it. And do it again ... .
Or I think of Endo sensei: "Practice means kneading body and mind."
(I think this way of practice just works when having a teacher who has to give something.)

For me it's like breathing: You just have to do it. That's all. I know how it works, but usually I just do it. All the time.

So we do aikido today, tomorrow, day after tomorrow, next week, month, on and on.
This I think is the essence of training as I or my teacher and a lot of the students I know understand it. And this I think will give everything, aikido can give and will form the practioner. (When really having a teacher.)

But this way needs to train and train and train. Overandoveragain.

So I tried to give training a very high priority in my daily life because I think aikido only reveals itself when practiced most often. It's just that.
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Old 01-20-2011, 12:36 PM   #49
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Re: The Essence of Training

I think it is worth considering what Aikido was when it started and what it has become...

When the Founder taught, Budo was a serious pursuit. To train directly with the Founder, you had to apply and be accepted. Someone he knew and respected had to vouch for you. You had to be serious, not just for yourself, but also because not to be serious would embarrass the person who had been your sponsor.

Aikido was not taught publicly. O-Sensei would occasionally do demonstrations and these were considered historic events in terms of Aikido history. They were not commonplace.

After the war, things changed. Kisshomaru Ueshiba became the Nidai Doshu and the senior members of the Tokyo Aikikai like Osawa and Arikawa Senseis helped him create an art that would be taught to the public. O-Sensei continued to teach wherever he was at the time. He traveled between Tokyo and Iwama, stayed in Osaka for extended periods, etc. His focus was still on training his personal deshi although now his classes were mostly open to all levels and included the general membership of whatever doho he was visiting at the time.

So how did he view this art? I can see nothing that would indicate that he ever dreamed that this art would become a part time hobby for a bunch of middle class folks in Europe and the US. Yes, he felt that Aikido had the potential to transform the world. But that is the operative concept... Aikido would transform, the world! not the world would transform Aikido.

If this were a koryu, there wouldn't be these discussions. There would be a set curriculum that had to be mastered. You might progress or not depending on the effort you put in. But you wouldn't even be having the discussion of whether this amount of effort or that amount of effort was fine. No one would say that your koryu was whatever you chose to make it. The art is what it is. You adapt yourself to the requirements of doing that art; the art isn't going to change for you.

Aikido on the other hand is changing constantly. It has gone from an extremely exclusive activity requiring total commitment to a part time hobby done by people for whom it is, at best, a third priority after family and career. What does this mean for the art? Does what a nice middle class professional with a family training a couple times a week have anything in common with the art that the Founder created as a transformational practice?

There is a vast difference, I think, between an art that the practitioner must figure out how to adapt his life to pursue and an art that is adapted to fit the circumstances of the majority of the practitioners. In my Blog I recently expressed my issues with folks who show up to train with my teacher year after year and never get any better, wasting his time and the time of the serious students who should be soaking Sensei for everything he's worth while he is still around. Why do they keep showing up not having progressed? because they simply do not put the effort into doing so.

In the old days the choice was to train or not. No one forced anyone to train... but if you decided to train you were serious. The discussion here is largely about what Aikido is for the practitioner, what does training mean to the practitioner. I think that the question might be rephrased as what to do you think Aikido really is and are you willing and able to step up and make the commitment to do it? Each of us has some relationship with an organization or a teacher(s) who define the parameters of the art for us. Why not look at those parameters and decide if one is willing to do what is necessary to master those elements?

I think that one needs to ask the question whether Aikido as the third priority, spare time activity that folks seem to want is really Aikido, the Budo founded by Morihei Ueshiba. Is it Budo at all? If one trains without any expectation of eventual mastery of the principles, conceding that only the small group of teachers at the top of the Aikido pyramid, what is the point?

Of course, I am a professional instructor. I make my living doing this. So, having a large group of folks out there supporting me is great. But I didn't get into this so that I could support myself (thank God, because it is a wretched way to make money). I became a teacher so I could spend more time on my own training and to be an integral part of the transmission from the Founder, to may own teacher, Saotome Sensei, and through me to as many students as possible.

So, despite the fact that I really appreciate the support I get ever time a student shows up at one of my seminars, or joins my dojo, or even purchases some of my dvds, the fact remains that I cannot do what I have worked so hard to be able to do without students who will make enough commitment that I am able to pass on what I have been taught.

A teacher cannot teach without students. He or she cannot teach what it took them thousands and thousands of hours to master to folks who only want to give it hundreds of hours of effort. It's that simple. When folks decide to train but drastically reduce the time and effort they are willing to put into the training from what had been done before, they make the transmission impossible and actually effect the art itself. Time and time again, I ask, is there something fundamentally valuable about doing mediocre Aikido?

I know that some folks are quite conscious of this. They see themselves as "patrons of the art". They know they won't train enough to be good at it. But they see supporting the teacher and the dojo as a "good" in itself. They don't see themselves so much as "doing" Aikido but more as "supporting" Aikido. Frankly, I couldn't get by without folks like this, so I am not demeaning this attitude at all. But I think these folks are clear about what they are doing.

But, if the vast majority of folks in an art are not really intending to master the fundamentals of the art, could you say they are really training? And can any art that is largely composed of practitioners who have no expectation of mastery, who will not make the commitment to allow the transmission to take place, survive over time still possessing any depth and breadth? Or will it necessarily shrink to a size which allows "success" for the majority of folks training. Will it inevitably be deemed unnecessary to master everything ones teacher understood but rather will be sufficient merely to attain a level of skill attainable by the effort and commitment folks are willing to make?

Of course, in any activity there will always be someone at the top of the pyramid. Someone will always be more talented, more committed. But is there not a floor below which one could say that it really isn't Aikido any more? Do we keep expecting less of our students because they are unwilling to give more?

My own dojo is at a fifteen year low in membership... I have already made accommodation to the fact that that almost all my students are career folks with families. There are large blocks of instruction I was given by my teacher which I have never taught to my students because that would simply take away from what I consider more central to their development. I trained every day and a serious student at my dojo trains three times a week plus occasional weekend events. I made my "container" large enough to hold what my teacher offered. Now I find that I cannot put what is in my "container" into the smaller "containers" of the typical current day practitioners. I feel ok about what I am able to give my students. I think it has depth and some breadth. I do not feel as if I have been faced with having to dumb down what I am passing on below that minimum level that in my mind still represents my own baseline which keeps it still being Aikido as I have known it.

So, I guess what I am saying is, perhaps what is needed is a "discussion" with oneself of what Aikido really is? Is it a transformational practice? What kind of effort is required to make it so? Is it a functional martial art? How much work will it take to make it so? Or is the art just a hobby with no real depth or efficacy? Then clearly whatever commitment one is willing to make will be enough... Is there an art called Aikido that has some defined dimensions? Or is Aikido defined by each individual based on whatever he or she feels like doing? Most importantly, I think one has to ask if taking the time, money, and effort to do Aikido at less than minimal level is worth doing? Is there something important happening or is the art for you merely something you find "fun"? An activity you "enjoy".

I guess I would submit that folks pursuing the art with less than the minimum amount of commitment required to at least make it the transformation practice the Founder intended or to work hard enough to have some level of actual functionality in a martial sense, are hurting the art. They are bringing this amazing pursuit down to the mundane level of a cross between video games and going to the gym. Video games are fun and going to the gym is healthy. Is that all Aikido really is? I think it is far more than that. I think we need to stop telling everyone that what they want to give the art is all fine and start talking about what it really takes to do Aikido. Folks need to decide whether they are willing to do Aikido or the commitment to do so is too much. That's the way it used to be and I think it needs to be again or Aikido will keep degenerating to the point at which no one even remembers when it was something more. I just don't see the point in doing something less.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 01-20-2011, 12:56 PM   #50
Demetrio Cereijo
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 2,081
Spain
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Re: The Essence of Training

Great post.
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