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  #26  
Old 03-28-2011, 03:36 PM
Francis Takahashi
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Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

It is mind boggling, and a bit disheartening for me to see the reams of questionable, and often grossly erroneous "facts" written about the Founder, his theories on Aiki, and on Aiki's constant role in shaping his Aikido over the entire period of his lifetime. It is especially so because I can...

Last edited by akiy : 03-27-2011 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 03-30-2011, 05:56 PM   #25
Chris Li
 
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
First of all, I do perceive that the original martial integrity of the Founderfs creation has been seriously diluted, and unfortunately dismissed by the Second Doshu, along with succeeding Hombu Shihan level leadership. I do not believe that this outcome was maliciously intentional, but just a highly questionable judgment call on teaching philosophy and standardization of curriculums.
I always saw it as a conscious recognition of the fact that Hombu hasn't, realistically, the power to impose a curriculum, and that an attempt to do so would result in even further fracturing of the organization. It seems to me that Moriteru Doshu, and Kisshomaru Doshu before him, decided to adopt an extremely neutral, bland approach and allow those on the outside to more or less do their own thing while still remaining under the general Aikikai umbrella. Whether that was wise or not, still remains to be seen...

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Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Second, it is my view that by sending ill prepared and marginally talented instructors in the earlier years, has resulted in the morass of mediocrity of supposedly high level training throughout the world. These initial pioneers should have had real training in business concepts, people skills, language competence, along with their skills in technique and loyalty to Ueshiba Aiki and the Founderfs mission.
True, although after the war that's pretty much what was available, wasn't it? A whole generation, including most of the top students were lost during the period of the war.

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Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Thirdly, the impact of the IAF has proven disastrous, not unlike the ill fated League of Nations, in attempting to consolidate authority in and obedience to exclusively Japanese nationals, without any plan to include the promising and proven leadership that naturally develop within and from the countries involved. The term gShihanh is a farce, as it is not awarded for excellence, but for conformity and obedience to an arbitrary Japanese model.

For years, I called myself, and select friends, SIWfs, shihans in waiting, as a kind of protest of the policy I just described. Even my moniker of aikishihan is my accepting of the probability that I will not obtain a Shihan certificate from Hombu. It is just fine with me, as I feel qualified to be an Aiki Shihan, and not an Aikikai Shihan. I also salute many others with the same courtesy.
I agree that the entire shihan policy is racially discriminatory - and probably intended to be that way. Worse, it's just silly.

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-30-2011, 06:47 PM   #26
JO
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

I don't think it makes sense to think of aikido as a product, unfinished or otherwise. It isn't some kind of structure that we're trying to build. I always think of it as a DO, a way, a path. It is a path I follow in an attempt to better myself with the hep of others on paths similar enough to have that same name of aikido. As far as the training, the physical art, is concerned, this only truly exists in the very bodies of aikido practitioners. The rest, the books, pictures, videos, discussions are not much more than pale and blurried reflections.

As far as the organisations and politics go, these should exist to bring us followers of the way together. All in all I find they manage this task most of the time, though people being people unpleasantness, badly thought out policy and even real conflict will arise from time to time. But I would never have been exposed to the large number of great teachers I have if it had not been for the work and dedication of people that I feel are being unfairly judged as blindly obedient conformists.

Jonathan Olson
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:19 AM   #27
aikishihan
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Greetings, Tisdale Sensei,

Thank you for your beautiful, respectful and well reasoned response to my rather terse reply to our friend Demetrio.

I am in full agreement with the valid points you make, and admire the honest humility you show in expressing them.

Yes, our work will always “be in progress”, and we must remain true to our own crafted formula and rationale for maintaining our focus. Of course, we must stay flexible and open to necessary shifts and changes we need to make whenever new knowledge and wisdom prompt us to effect at any moment.

And yes, we must always be appreciative and open to the work and guidance we receive from our mentors, teachers, peers and others that can and do benefit our own progress. Yet, as we are subject to changes, so are they. I would find it impossible to monitor changes in others while paying close attention to my needs and limitations. Thus, regardless of the perceived value I may have of any single source of inspiration or guidance, I must necessarily filter and reconstitute such input pursuant to my activity at the time.

Knowing what another teacher’s Aikido is at any time is fortuitous, yet is it reasonable? Since his or her development is in constant flux, what are we really looking at, and is it actually what we should be emulating? Khalil Gibran admonished us to neither follow nor lead one another. Rather, by walking in harmony with each other, we can rediscover and reaffirm our own rhythms and currents of creativity, while appreciating the same in our companion.

Our chosen teachers and mentors are undeniably valuable to us, but never more so than the healthy self image we must maintain for ourselves. The warrior’s journey is a solitary one, necessarily so since it is the finest expression we can make about our reasons for being genuinely alive.
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:43 AM   #28
aikishihan
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Greetings Demitrio,

Thank you for your interesting post that includes an apparent drawing of the Founder, along with words attributed to him. I wonder what the source is.

I would prefer to say that the Founder’s Aikido was, is, and always will be like no other. It is up to the serious students of his principles, teachings and examples to formulate their very own version, based on the very same Aiki Principles he constantly introduced us to, and admonished us to study and to utilize.

The melancholy tone of the passage shown simply does not seem appropriate, given the consistently upbeat, encouraging and inspirational quotes attributed to the Founder. If he did say something akin to these thoughts, I would interpret his lament to target the lack of attention to studying the same principles and findings he wanted us to take seriously. It simply does not compute with what I have read that he would have been disappointed with not having students who blindly copied him, and forsook their originality of purpose and design. All evidence I have uncovered points in the opposite direction, that is to create our very own Aikido using the Aiki principles he showed us, and demonstrated so magnificently throughout his life.

Last edited by aikishihan : 03-31-2011 at 12:45 AM.
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Old 03-31-2011, 06:33 AM   #29
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Quote:
Greetings, Tisdale Sensei,
Oh, I am not an instructor, or anyone's sensei...just Ron is fine.

Thank you for your response. I am chewing over both your response and the exchange with Demetrio, and may have some further thoughts in a bit...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 03-31-2011, 10:13 AM   #30
Diana Frese
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Revisiting this column, as I like to do from time to time, to reread the column and learn from the comments as well...today the words "welcoming spirit of openness to all who study his creation" rang a bell and a memory which returns from time to time came back again. It may have been midday, I remember the sun was shining and I was passing from Sixth Avenue towards Washington Square Park if I remember correctly on the way to where I lived at the time... There had been a note on the door of NY Aikikai that the dojo was closed because O Sensei had passed on.... Sensei must have been very sad, having been a real live in uchideshi for years, but as for myself I was sad too, but as maybe the stereotypical child of the sixties all I could think about there in the mild April day was, gee, I hope I get a little bit of his spirit (meaning that there would probably be some of that floating around when a great spirit passes (IMany years later I l read something to that effect when someone quoted Maya Angelou in a condolence note when my parents died in a car crash)

When the elderly pass, it is indeed sad for we miss them but also we want to retain or in my case in Aikido then obtain whatever we can of their spirit. I don't study spirituality much, but I am interested. After that day I just went back to the dojo and trained for about four more years before jumping ship from the tour group and staying in Japan for a year and a half. I figured I should take the opportunity because later in life I might be taking care of a family or my own parents ( though I'm sure they didn't like the idea of their lives being run by "the brat")

Thinking about the two kyodai deshi who we were very fortunate to have as our inheritance from the founder at the time.... they were young and really dedicated to passing on their teacher's Aikido. It was their sincerity and dedication that qualified them, and their martial arts skill was unquestioned as borne out by what is now Aikido history. Both developed tremendous skill, careful inspired and inspiring teaching methods although their methods were quite different each from the other... Well, I shouldn't make this post too long... From what I understand, O Sensei was much concerned with groups that were spiritually based vis a vis the entire world and so wanted to send his deshi's forth as his gift... Maybe my writing is getting a bit too flowery but i think it really was O Sensei's dream judging by many of the quotes, and his son tirelessly worked at the practical necessities...

I attended a few of the Annual Meeting and Seminar years ago and read the pamphlet of rules for shihan dispatched and I think it said to learn about the culture of the country where they will be teaching. These two former uchideshis, and I am sure many others made great efforts to understand the people here, each in his own way. They were relatively young in those days, and I think we would do well to recognize what it must have been like to adjust while at the same time imparting what they had learned and continued to develop....

With regard to one of the concerns Francis stated, Yamada Sensei has increasingly emphasized in his editorials in USAF online news, leadership for the future, and there are non Japanese shihans here now, sixth and seventh dans, and some designated shihans if I remember correctly from what I read. In respect to Francis' statements, maybe it took too long for these people to be recognized and given the rank, designation, etc. I just know that after many years of myself not training I was gratified to note that so many of my former practice partners had continued and were obtaining these ranks and designations. I just hope that in a small way having me as one of many of their training partners made me a participant in Aikido of today,( even before I get back to a dojo)

Sorry to be so long winded, but I'm trying to show respect to the other writers by letting you all know this is just my personal experience and perspective .... from many years ago.
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Old 03-31-2011, 10:43 AM   #31
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Greetings Demitrio,

Thank you for your interesting post that includes an apparent drawing of the Founder, along with words attributed to him. I wonder what the source is.
John Stevens: Invincible Warrior, p. 165

But this sequence of Ueshiba is cited in several books, I think?
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Old 04-01-2011, 08:12 AM   #32
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Dear Francis:
Of course we know what Aikido truly is...Aikido is uke and nage on the mat... in the moment.
Thank you for your thoughts.
Mary
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Old 04-01-2011, 02:03 PM   #33
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Thank you Takahashi Sensei, for this thought provoking article.
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Old 04-01-2011, 02:19 PM   #34
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Daian,

Thank you for sharing your important references to the importance of solid student-teacher relationships. Indeed, as we learn from the past, a key source will always be that of our elders' examples.
No doubt, you have positively impacted the training of your myriad partners, even as they have positively influenced your own.

Carsten,

Thank you for the bibliographical note, which is always good to have.
Love your commentaries, both informative and cogent.

Mary,

You are ever so correct. Keiko truly is the answer.

Jamie,

Much Aloha, bruddah, as always.

Mahalo,

francis takahashi
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Old 04-04-2011, 01:00 PM   #35
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Hi Francis,

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
I would prefer to say that the Founder’s Aikido was, is, and always will be like no other. It is up to the serious students of his principles, teachings and examples to formulate their very own version, based on the very same Aiki Principles he constantly introduced us to, and admonished us to study and to utilize.
But I think we should ask ourselves if our version, based on our understanding of aiki principles, is still aikido or something different that looks like aikido.

Quote:
The melancholy tone of the passage shown simply does not seem appropriate, given the consistently upbeat, encouraging and inspirational quotes attributed to the Founder.
Well, there's a lot of inspirational quotes attributed to O Sensei. However, I'm a bit skeptic about if these are really from him, the translations, the interpretations given and the context of his words.

Quote:
If he did say something akin to these thoughts, I would interpret his lament to target the lack of attention to studying the same principles and findings he wanted us to take seriously. It simply does not compute with what I have read that he would have been disappointed with not having students who blindly copied him, and forsook their originality of purpose and design. All evidence I have uncovered points in the opposite direction, that is to create our very own Aikido using the Aiki principles he showed us, and demonstrated so magnificently throughout his life.
I agree with O Sensei not being interested in students blindly copying him, but I doubt he accepted as aikido any personal interpretation of his art.

As Shimizu Kenji stated in this interview, when asked: Was O-Sensei irregular about coming to the dojo?, his answer was:

Yes, he was. When I was actively practicing there he often came and went. When he showed up everyone immediately sat down. At first, I thought that people were being courteous toward him. However, it wasn’t only that. It was also that the practices we were doing were different from what O-Sensei expected us to do. Once he lost his temper at us. No one realized that he had come and he shouted: “What you people are doing is not aikido.” His shout was so powerful it felt like the earth was trembling. He was then in his seventies but his voice nearly pierced our ear drums. Everybody just became quiet and looked gloomy.

(bold mine)

Thoughts?

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Old 04-04-2011, 03:34 PM   #36
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

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I do have faith in the Founder's vision, messages of compassion and hope for future generations, and the fundamental power of Aiki Principles to help anyone to survive, thrive and be truly alive through the practice of Aikido. I humbly invite those who feel the same as I do, to join me in making it so.
Your statement rings true, especially in the aftermath of Aikido Celebration 2011. What can the next generation of Aikido practitioners do to delve deeper into understanding what Aikido truly is?

Quote:
The combination of what and why keeps shifting and morphing as I get new input from practitioners, teachers, researchers, and even from things seemingly completely unrelated to Aikido. And I am not very confident that I will *ever* understand the founder's Aikido, let alone actually practice it. The gulf between our time frames, experiences, and cultures is truly very great. I hope that what I do glean from the various forms he left behind will inform what ever meager understanding I finally come to of *his* Aikido...but I don't really expect to measure myself by that. It was his after all...not mine, and I wonder if any of us can really understand another's Aikido (or perhaps anything else for that matter).
Thank you Ron for this statement. I am a beginner and I feel it really captures how I feel about Aikido also.
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Old 04-05-2011, 02:07 PM   #37
RonRagusa
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
The combination of what and why keeps shifting and morphing as I get new input from practitioners, teachers, researchers, and even from things seemingly completely unrelated to Aikido. And I am not very confident that I will *ever* understand the founder's Aikido, let alone actually practice it. The gulf between our time frames, experiences, and cultures is truly very great. I hope that what I do glean from the various forms he left behind will inform what ever meager understanding I finally come to of *his* Aikido...but I don't really expect to measure myself by that. It was his after all...not mine, and I wonder if any of us can really understand another's Aikido (or perhaps anything else for that matter).
Hi Ron -

Very insightful. The idea that we should all be trying to replicate the Founder's Aikido strikes me as being at odds with the fact that our Aikido is a product of all "our time frames, experiences, and cultures" plus a host of other factors related to us as individuals. Demanding that, for reasons as yet unclear, we must be doing the Founder's Aikido completely ignores the fact Aikido is, in many ways, a vehicle of personal expression.

It also begs the question of which of O Sensei's forms of Aikido we should be doing. Should we be striving to emulate early Aikido that looked very much like Daito-Ryu? Perhaps we should be doing the Aikido of O Sensei's later years when he demonstrated a lot of no touch throwing? Something in between?

And how does one define O Sensei's Aikido in objective terms? Might as well try to define Beethoven's music, Dame Margot Fontaine's dance or Hemingway's writing.

I guess I just don't understand all the hand wringing and angst around trying to shoehorn ourselves into a mold that was fashioned by a man to fit his own personal unique style of training and living; a mold that was broken when he passed on.

Best,

Ron
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Old 04-05-2011, 02:27 PM   #38
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Hi Ron,

Then why don't drop the "O Sensei said", the "O Sensei did", "O Sensei wanted", the "O Sensei message", the "O Sensei spirituality", the "O Sensei vision" and the "O Sensei this and that" as means of justification and validation?

Maybe it is time to do whatever we want, and call it aikido.

Last edited by Demetrio Cereijo : 04-05-2011 at 02:32 PM.

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Old 04-05-2011, 02:46 PM   #39
RonRagusa
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Hi Ron,

Then why don't drop the "O Sensei said", the "O Sensei did", "O Sensei wanted", the "O Sensei message", the "O Sensei spirituality", the "O Sensei vision" and the "O Sensei this and that" as means of justification and validation?
Hi Demetrio -

I don't have a problem with that. We should drop the appellations and, instead of looking for justification and validation, just get out on the mat, train and discover those things for ourselves.

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Maybe it is time to do whatever we want, and call it aikido.
From an article posted on FindLaw.com, Movie Day at the Supreme Court or "I Know It When I See It": A History of the Definition of Obscenity
By Judith A. Silver of Coollawyer.com

"In 1964, Justice Potter Stewart tried to explain "hard-core" pornography, or what is obscene, by saying, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced . . . [b]ut I know it when I see it . . . "

To paraphrase: I won't attempt, today, to further define what constitutes Aikido, but I know it when I see it, I know it when I feel it and I know it when I do it.

Best,

Ron
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Old 04-05-2011, 05:21 PM   #40
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Takahashi sensei,

Thanks for your good post. The two links below may support some of your points.

"Kisshomaru Ueshiba's stamp on modern aikido," by Stanley Pranin at http://www.aikidojournal.com/blog/20...tanley-pranin/
and this talk of Morihiro Saito sensei http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siA9JKSMSnc

Ting
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Old 04-05-2011, 05:23 PM   #41
Charles Hill
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Thank you for your interesting post that includes an apparent drawing of the Founder, along with words attributed to him. I wonder what the source is.
Robert Nadeau
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Old 04-06-2011, 03:27 AM   #42
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Quote:
Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
To paraphrase: I won't attempt, today, to further define what constitutes Aikido, but I know it when I see it, I know it when I feel it and I know it when I do it.
So you know what aikido is.

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Old 04-06-2011, 04:41 AM   #43
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

"Do we know what Aikido Truly Is?"

Interesting question. What defines "knowing", "Aikido" or "truth"? I have found that the more people you meet the greater the variance in the definitions. Defining any one of the words above often ends up in a never ending discussion online.

In my understanding, Ueshiba M. used the foundation of Daito Ryu along with elements of his own physical, mental and spiritual training to manifest his own unique expression of "Aiki" which we generally refer to as Aikido today. This expression changed and evolved as he developed as a human being and martial artist.

I think that since there are so many subjective definitions of what is "Aikido" floating around, no one will ever know what Aikido truly is in a way that is universally acceptable. So that only leaves a personal understanding and expression, much like Ueshiba M.'s situation.

The problem with "personal expression" however is that without some sort of objective validation or qualification method, delusion and illusion can easily appear to be "knowledge". We see this all the time in the "effectiveness of your aikido" type of threads. What you think you know may be much less than what you actually know.

When Ueshiba M. started teaching Daito Ryu on the way to Aikibudo and Aikido one of his validation methods was that he could physically handle most martial challenges. As the word of his prowess spread he did not need to prove this aspect of his knowledge so much, it was a given. His knowledge in this area was verified and qualified by outside observers, which is often easy when we're dealing with a physical expression.

As he evolved towards a more "spiritual" approach in his training, one can say that the exercises of Chinkon Kishin and Misogi became methods of verification, allowing him to use the unification of his mind/spirit with the divine as a means of checking his knowledge or development. In a way, it is a comparative analysis of ones own spirit vis a vis the divine itself.

So I agree with Ron T's statement here:
Quote:
The effort that goes into a compare and contrast exercise *for me* was necessary to start to get a handle on what it is I study, and even why.
Imho the subjective concept of "I feel" does not automatically mean that something is true or valid from an objective standpoint. As we say in Project Management - "Without facts and evidence you are just another person with an opinion."

So imho it is important to have mechanisms that keep us on track towards hopefully one day understanding "What Aikido Truly Is". But if we look at the Founder who made this his life's work, even he admitted that he had only scratched the surface of the concept.

Just some thoughts.

LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
http://www.mushinkan.ca
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Old 04-06-2011, 05:08 AM   #44
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Hi Larry

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote: View Post
The problem with "personal expression" however is that without some sort of objective validation or qualification method, delusion and illusion can easily appear to be "knowledge".
What kind of objective validation would you suggest?

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Old 04-06-2011, 07:06 AM   #45
RonRagusa
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
So you know what aikido is.
In the same sense that Justice Stewart knew what pornography is, yes. Can I provide you with a verifiable definition of what Aikido truly is? No. Nor do I have any interest in attempting to do so. That task is better left to those whose knowledge of the Founder runs a whole lot deeper than what I possess.

Best,

Ron
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Old 04-06-2011, 10:58 AM   #46
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Hi Ron

Quote:
Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
In the same sense that Justice Stewart knew what pornography is, yes.
Respectfullly: Have you considered the possibility of being wrong or deluded?

You know, like the experienced meditators in this study who tought they were more aware than non meditators, but they weren't?

Sometimes we confuse belief and knowledge.

Quote:
Can I provide you with a verifiable definition of what Aikido truly is? No. Nor do I have any interest in attempting to do so.
I dont' remember asking you (or anyone in this thread) for a definition of what aikido truly is.

Regards.

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Old 04-06-2011, 12:17 PM   #47
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

I think that I know; then I feel something that feels like maybe I do not.

Then I sometimes find myself doing things I have never really thought about before; and wonder what I was thinking.

Then I think I was doing aikido.

Often the feel of it seems like I know; then I think of something that makes me think maybe I do not.

I sometimes find myself feeling things I have never quite felt before; and wonder how I missed that.

Then I feel like that was aikido.

I sometimes find myself acting with little thought and little to feel at all; and then sometimes I think and feel like I have no idea what I am doing, though I seem to be doing it.

Then I am fairly certain that I know I am doing aikido.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 04-06-2011 at 12:20 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 04-06-2011, 12:18 PM   #48
RonRagusa
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Respectfullly: Have you considered the possibility of being wrong or deluded?
Hi Demetrio -

I'm always in the question. But no, I'm not wrong or deluded. Aikido is a martial art. And while the art has many layers and avenues available for exploration, there's nothing magical or mysterious to it. Aikido is a path that enables me to explore mind/body coordination within the context of technique and Ki development. That's what I've devoted 34 years of study to and I'm looking forward to another 30 or so years of training, if I live that long.

Francis originally posed the question: "Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?" Is it really necessary to go beyond the simple answer: Aikido is a martial art of Japanese origin, founded and developed by Morihei Ueshiba? If so, I'd like to know just what it is that folks are looking for in terms of an answer.

Best,

Ron

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Old 04-06-2011, 12:24 PM   #49
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Do We Know What Aikido Truly Is?

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
I dont' remember asking you (or anyone in this thread) for a definition of what aikido truly is.
Regards.
Ok. But to take a step back from the elephant we first need to have a firm grasp on our part --

Could you please define what you know aikido to be?

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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