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Old 06-30-2011, 07:27 AM   #26
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Bit of an aside here, but that really isn't true. I can't count the number of times I went into an experience and got something completely different out of it than what I went looking for. Martial arts training is only one of these.
But...you only support my statement. If you have an aspect to focus on during practise and during that you find something else that is more wrong you only shift focus to that aspect. This only shows flexibility and open mind.

When you practise for good fun and by accident you get something out of it, I do not consider that proper training/practise. You train purposefully to improve something.

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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Old 06-30-2011, 10:43 AM   #27
lbb
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

You're contradicting yourself, Tim. Almost nobody starts training (or, I guess we're not allowed to use that word if we're not sufficiently intentional, so let's just call it "starts taking martial arts classes", will that do?) with the mindset of "Oh, I'll just go into this with a totally open mind, no expectations or desires or even interests, and we'll just see what happens." People typically go in looking for something or with some idea of what might happen, but hopefully with a mind that is open to discovering new things and changing their reason for being there. You're very down on "fun", whatever...that's your value judgment. But I don't see a meaningful difference between "fun" and "self-defense" in this context. It's what brought you in the door, it's not necessarily the only thing you'll walk out with.
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Old 06-30-2011, 02:43 PM   #28
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
(or, I guess we're not allowed to use that word if we're not sufficiently intentional, so let's just call it "starts taking martial arts classes", will that do?)


It is hard to find the right words sometimes, sorry for that. I am afraid you have read something I am not trying to say. Perhaps I have stated things a bit black/white.

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
People typically go in looking for something or with some idea of what might happen, but hopefully with a mind that is open to discovering new things and changing their reason for being there.
But if you approach each exercise during practise with this mindset I would say that you are indeed practising/learning Aikido! So I completely agree with you on this.

Regarding the 'fun' part: first of all practise with a smile on your face. Aikido is fun. What I meant to say is that when you practise just for the fun of it (no deeper interest in Aikido) you are not likely to advance.

However, I do believe that when you want to advance (get better? improve?) you must know what to work on and do not leave that to chance.

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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Old 06-30-2011, 06:33 PM   #29
graham christian
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

Anything you do for the right reasons is fun. So fun is related to proper training. It's a result rather than a purpose.

With correct purpose you have fun.

On the other side of the coin if you are doing something for the 'wrong' reasons then for you it's harder, heavier going and not so much fun.

This applies to everything no? Remember being stuck in a classroom studying a subject you neither wanted to do or could see any use for in your life? Not much fun eh?

In fact I would say fun is a basic desire rather than a purpose.

Regards.G.
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Old 07-01-2011, 01:22 AM   #30
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

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Graham Christian wrote: View Post
With correct purpose you have fun.
Agreed.

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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Old 07-01-2011, 08:39 AM   #31
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

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Tim Ruijs wrote: View Post
But if you approach each exercise during practise with this mindset I would say that you are indeed practising/learning Aikido! So I completely agree with you on this.

Regarding the 'fun' part: first of all practise with a smile on your face. Aikido is fun. What I meant to say is that when you practise just for the fun of it (no deeper interest in Aikido) you are not likely to advance.
Sure, I see this -- if the attitude is, "I'm here for the fun, and I don't want all that other stuff"...well, then you won't get all that other stuff.

Quote:
Tim Ruijs wrote: View Post
However, I do believe that when you want to advance (get better? improve?) you must know what to work on and do not leave that to chance.
I'd agree with this. "Advance", after all, implies a direction -- toward something, which is by definition a goal, right? But it does bring to mind various sayings about the journey vs. the arrival. I'm fortunate to live in an area with lots of woods and a great many hiking trails. Sometimes, when I set out on a trail, I'm trying to get somewhere: to a campsite, to a pond, to the top of a mountain. Sometimes my goal isn't a place but a process: I've been sitting around all day and I want to get my blood moving. It's still a goal, though. But sometimes I'm walking just to walk, just because the act of walking down this trail is worthwhile for me not because of where it's going to get me, but because of what it is right now, in this instant. I am walking, I am moving forward in the sens of body mechanics, but I'm not moving "forward" in the sense of advancing on a goal.

My aikido training is frequently like this. I don't have a goal in aikido, apart from to keep training. That doesn't mean I don't have standards of how I do things, or that I try to do things well, to do them better than I did last time if possible. But there isn't a goal. I don't get to have goals. I have rheumatoid arthritis, and so far I've been lucky, but my ability to exist as an independently moving physical being could go away virtually overnight and stay that way permanently. Every New Year it seems we have a thread on Aikiweb where people articulate their New Year's resolutions: I will train x times a week, I will achieve such-and-such rank, I will master such-and-such technique, I will attend this seminar or summer camp. It's meaningless for me to "resolve" to do anything like that. So I don't go there. I don't try to "advance". That's for other people.
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Old 07-01-2011, 04:34 PM   #32
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I am moving forward in the sens of body mechanics, but I'm not moving "forward" in the sense of advancing on a goal.
I understand. It is exactly what I mean. You have described it much better than I could. Would progress be better than advance?

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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Old 07-05-2011, 09:41 PM   #33
Janet L.
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

I'm about as beginning a beginner as you'll find on here: I first went to the dojo about six weeks ago.

My sensei seems to tend more toward the philosophical bent, but that doesn't keep me from being incredibly tired and sore after a class session.

Also, I'm a pretty extreme example of an INTP personality, and believe right down to my very core that if the design/plan/theory is correct the rest will follow.

I've been kind of amazed: I've always been kind of slow picking up new physical skills, and I'm GETTING it! The last month I've been sounding about like a born again aikidoka telling EVERYONE how cool it is

- Janet.
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Old 07-26-2011, 11:43 AM   #34
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

I think the philisophical side of martial arts will take you further than will the self-defense side of it. The reason being that most people don't need self-defense skills in order to survive in the world. In addition, having a well developed Aikido-mindset means that you'll be able to avoid situations wherein you might normally need to fight.

Let's face it, combat training is very anti-climactic. We never seem to find ourselves in the dark alley surrounded by three assailants the way we trained for. All the cool weapons you train with amount to little more than abandoned toys at a certain point. So where does that leave the individual martial artist? How do we apply all these martial skills in a civilized world?

I've found that through training, I improve my physical health. I look better and feel better. It makes me smarter too, having to remember moves and terminology. It gives me confidence and has allowed me to meet others whom I'd normally never get to know. It allows me to more effectively explore spiritual insights as well. The physical and mental are often connected, but there is a clearly a mental/spiritual aspect of martial arts that is wholly separate from anything combat related.
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:03 PM   #35
graham christian
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

Quote:
Roger Flatley wrote: View Post
I think the philisophical side of martial arts will take you further than will the self-defense side of it. The reason being that most people don't need self-defense skills in order to survive in the world. In addition, having a well developed Aikido-mindset means that you'll be able to avoid situations wherein you might normally need to fight.

Let's face it, combat training is very anti-climactic. We never seem to find ourselves in the dark alley surrounded by three assailants the way we trained for. All the cool weapons you train with amount to little more than abandoned toys at a certain point. So where does that leave the individual martial artist? How do we apply all these martial skills in a civilized world?

I've found that through training, I improve my physical health. I look better and feel better. It makes me smarter too, having to remember moves and terminology. It gives me confidence and has allowed me to meet others whom I'd normally never get to know. It allows me to more effectively explore spiritual insights as well. The physical and mental are often connected, but there is a clearly a mental/spiritual aspect of martial arts that is wholly separate from anything combat related.
Except that the philosophical or spiritual base does not help you avoid. Avoidance, escaping from, getting out of etc. are based on fear. The spiritual base brings harmony to.

Regards.G.
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Old 08-16-2011, 04:05 AM   #36
Anita Dacanay
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

Why-oh-why must we break Aikido down in terms of "martial" VS. "philosophical"(or "spiritual")...

Are we so terribly dualistic in our thinking that we cannot conceive that Aikido is BOTH a spiritual practice and martially effective?

As far as what to focus on when one is training, I try to focus on Aikido! Aikido is Aikido. It is unique. If we just want to learn how to beat someone up in a bar brawl, there are a lot of other ways to learn that, and they take a lot less time to learn than "the spirit of loving protection for all."

One of my Senseis asked the other day, "Why do YOU practice Aikido, and not something else?" It is an important thing to contemplate! Therein we find our own clarity about what on Earth we are trying to accomplish at the dojo.
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Old 08-16-2011, 06:13 AM   #37
ryback
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

Quote:
Anita Dacanay wrote: View Post
Why-oh-why must we break Aikido down in terms of "martial" VS. "philosophical"(or "spiritual")...

Are we so terribly dualistic in our thinking that we cannot conceive that Aikido is BOTH a spiritual practice and martially effective?

As far as what to focus on when one is training, I try to focus on Aikido! Aikido is Aikido. It is unique. If we just want to learn how to beat someone up in a bar brawl, there are a lot of other ways to learn that, and they take a lot less time to learn than "the spirit of loving protection for all."

One of my Senseis asked the other day, "Why do YOU practice Aikido, and not something else?" It is an important thing to contemplate! Therein we find our own clarity about what on Earth we are trying to accomplish at the dojo.
Hi there Anita.Well said, very nice post!And i will take it a step further by saying that aikido is not only both spiritual and martial, but also these two virtues are merged, inseparatable and indistinguishable from one another.You are absolutely right when you say that aikido is aikido, you can't break it down and even if one would, he would find that it's actually more than the sum of its parts.It is martially effective (no doubt about it) without being violent or aggressive and that's the point of using a martial art in the first place.You blend with the attack, becoming one with the attacker,using your ki and the momentum of his own attack in order to take him down.So iam somehow surprised that some people seem to find it actually aggressive...
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Old 08-16-2011, 06:31 AM   #38
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

Quote:
Anita Dacanay wrote: View Post
Why-oh-why must we break Aikido down in terms of "martial" VS. "philosophical"(or "spiritual")...

Are we so terribly dualistic in our thinking that we cannot conceive that Aikido is BOTH a spiritual practice and martially effective?
While I would disagree with the use of the term "spiritual practice" -- my definition of it is more narrow than what most people seem to use when they apply it to aikido -- I was just thinking (as I noticed that this thread had come alive), "Why do people believe that philosophy is inherently impractical?" I think the opposite: you'd better have a functional, practical philosophy (which does not mean that it's all about details). Otherwise, what's the point? I think it's people who haven't really explored any philosophy who believe that philosophy is ethereal and impractical and irrelevant to daily living. IMO that's just exactly backwards.
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Old 08-16-2011, 06:51 AM   #39
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

Can you do the "philosophy" of Aikido without learning the martial art?

dps
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:09 AM   #40
ryback
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

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David Skaggs wrote: View Post
Can you do the "philosophy" of Aikido without learning the martial art?

dps
Hello David.In my opinion you can't.The peaceful way of dealing with every situation has to be backed with technique.Peaceful philosophy(in martial arts) doesn't mean vulnerable person but a warrior who is fighting his battles(literally and metaporically)without using resistance or force against force.But for that to be achieved tremendous skill is required in terms of waza in order for one to be able to defend himself without being aggressive,yet be effective.That's why i mentioned in my previous post that aikido's effectiveness, waza, esoteric ellements and philosophy are one and the same.A solid training that affects all aspects of life.
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:26 AM   #41
dps
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

Can you do the martial art without the "philosophy".

dps
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Old 08-16-2011, 04:56 PM   #42
Anita Dacanay
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

I like what Yannis said to your previous question, David. This time I will answer your current question also with - in my opinion, no. When it comes to Aikido specifically, I do not believe that you can separate the martial and the philosophical and still call it Aikido.

Mary, I understand that you might not want to use the term "spiritual" to describe your practice. Personally, for me, Aikido is absolutely a spiritual practice. It challenges me deeply on every level of my being, in such a profound and rigorous way that I would have to call it a spiritual practice or journey.
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Old 08-18-2011, 12:28 AM   #43
ryback
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
Can you do the martial art without the "philosophy".

dps
Hi there!By the way Annita, nice post!David in my opinion your question is identical to the previous one, but in a "negative-film-to-a photograph" kind of way.So the answer again is no, but the reasons are actually the same.In the case of aikido the peaceful philosophy springs from the way that the technique requires being relaxed and in harmony with the attacker in order for it to be effective.In that way the practical aspect of aikido, the waza, gives birth to the philosophy,so if your aikido is correct on a technical level the philosophy is already there.That means that if one would strip aikido of its philosophical aspect he would actually be performing joint manipulations and wrist locks using brute force, violence and a lot of...ignorance of ki and kokyu thus redusing to a fighting method that is no longer an art.And the magical thing is that it would also be less effective on a practical level, that's how aikido works,you have to be one physically, mentally and aware of your ki and the way to extend it.
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Old 08-18-2011, 01:58 AM   #44
dps
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

So Aikido is a martial art, spiritual path and a philosophical practice.

What is the Aikido spirituality and Aikido philosophy that you must practice to make your martial art Aikido?

dps

Last edited by dps : 08-18-2011 at 02:00 AM.
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Old 08-18-2011, 02:32 AM   #45
ryback
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
So Aikido is a martial art, spiritual path and a philosophical practice.

What is the Aikido spirituality and Aikido philosophy that you must practice to make your martial art Aikido?

dps
The answer to that is...aikido!You have to practice aikido in an aikido dojo.There, through training you learn aikido's basics such as posture, ballance, ukemi waza(how to fall in order not to be injured by the tori's technique), seiza(aikido's basic sitting position) and slowly through weapon's training and unarmed techniques(and every other possible combination) you learn how to apply aikido's basic principles using aikido techniques in order to be able to defend yourself without using force or violence.All of that is aikido training.Practical and esoteric aspects all one and the same.And as you keep on practicing they become second nature...
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Old 08-18-2011, 05:24 AM   #46
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

I no longer practice Aikido in a dojo, I do it at home. My spirituality comes from my religious beliefs and practices that I have had since a child. My philosophy about violence, peace, fighting, not fighting I got from my Dad when I was in grade school. He taught me how to box and when to fight that put an end to being bullied in grade school.

Am I practicing Aikido even though I do not practice Aikido philosophy or Aikido Spirituality?

dps
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Old 08-18-2011, 06:20 AM   #47
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

Quote:
Anita Dacanay wrote: View Post
Mary, I understand that you might not want to use the term "spiritual" to describe your practice. Personally, for me, Aikido is absolutely a spiritual practice. It challenges me deeply on every level of my being, in such a profound and rigorous way that I would have to call it a spiritual practice or journey.
Anita, my disagreement with the prevalent use of the term "spiritual practice" is that almost nobody can define what they mean by that term -- or if they do, it's a nonsensically vague definition having something to do with kinda feeling good and, you know, spiritual (self-referential definition fail). I don't think that it's valid to call anything that makes you kinda feel good a spiritual practice; more rigor would seem called for, and most people who call aikido a spiritual practice are decidedly unwilling to bring rigor into the discussion.
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Old 08-18-2011, 08:15 AM   #48
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

Quote:
Anita Dacanay wrote: View Post
When it comes to Aikido specifically, I do not believe that you can separate the martial and the philosophical and still call it Aikido.
Hi Anita,
Strictly speaking, I think I disagree. I look at the variety of Aikido practice that I've seen, which spans from being almost entirely physical in emphasis to almost entirely mental/"spiritual," and I think all can call it "Aikido," because they're derived from the lineage of the same name.
I look to my experiences with Jinja Shinto as an analogy. My sense is that individuals will pick up different meaning and that on some level this reflects the individualized nature of one's connection to spirituality/kami. Similarly, I see Aikido as an expression of nature and that different groups of people will naturally connect to different aspects of that whole. This isn't to say no one can be wrong in their understanding...and indeed I think on some level no one can be absolutely right...probably. Hence the path of learning being one for a lifetime, a continual process of applying new information and refining the old, through focused interaction. As a I get the sense it ultimately has to do with how to understand the broader nature of things and I think that demands a little individual wiggle-room or it risks becoming a kind of faded photocopy.
...My two bits.
Take care,
Matt

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 08-18-2011, 03:02 PM   #49
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

In thinking about this some more, I'm a little more unsure of my remarks. So rather than say I disagree, I think I'm more comfortable with suggesting that, because almost none of us shares the same exact philosophy as O Sensei, it starts to beg a lot of question when we ourselves start imposing our own standards on other folks. So someone like David, who feels his philosophy or spirituality comes from other places, can be said to be still doing Aikido. (I hope you don't mind my using your example directly, David)
...Two bits.

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Old 08-18-2011, 04:02 PM   #50
Anita Dacanay
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Re: philosophical or practical martial art?

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
In thinking about this some more, I'm a little more unsure of my remarks. So rather than say I disagree, I think I'm more comfortable with suggesting that, because almost none of us shares the same exact philosophy as O Sensei, it starts to beg a lot of question when we ourselves start imposing our own standards on other folks. So someone like David, who feels his philosophy or spirituality comes from other places, can be said to be still doing Aikido. (I hope you don't mind my using your example directly, David)
...Two bits.
Matt, I appreciate your remarks and think I understand where you are coming from. I do think it is completely possible to practice Aikido principles or philosophy off the mat; in fact, I certainly try to do just that.

I only know that from my experience, I could only attempt to do that after having had the actual Aikido instruction on the mat. It is as though I could not actually take those concepts and apply them until I had certain experiences in my body.

David, I really don't want to spend my time telling you what experiences you are or aren't having, and labeling them for you! I'd much rather hear you just talk about your own experiences from your own point of view. Sometimes I think it is easier to speak from a sort of distance about what other people do or say or experience, but perhaps our discussions can be richer when they are focused on sharing our own experiences with sincerity and some of that rigor that Mary mentioned.

Aikido has often left me feeling very sort of exposed in an often uncomfortable way. I have come to find that gee, you know, sometimes I don't feel like being a nice girl. Sometimes I have so much anger I just want to bash someone in the face. Gee, maybe I'm not that peaceful! Maybe I hold way too much tension in my shoulders and neck pretty much all of the time, and why is that? Maybe I approach much of my life as though I am just white-knuckling through my experiences, and why is that? If I truly do want to be peaceful, then what are the barriers within which need to be dissolved for me to get there? For me, it's definitely a rigorous process, and very intertwined with the performance of certain techniques and habitual difficulties that I might have with said techniques.

SO: Personally, I see the philosophical and martial aspects of the art of Aikido as being very bound to one another. I would not wish to separate them. Personally, I see my Aikido journey as a spiritual practice, for some of the reasons I have mentioned, and more. Personally, learning martial applications on the mat has brought a whole new level of awareness regarding my own body movement both on and off the mat. Those are my experiences. I am interested in hearing about other people's experiences.
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