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Old 08-11-2011, 12:50 PM   #201
donhebert
Dojo: River Valley Aikido
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Hello Richard,

I tend to agree with your observations that Gracies have had a huge influence on the direction of martial arts in general and that Steven Segal and his movies have had an important impact as well. However, beyond that I think your generalizations are, well, too general.

For example, some Aikido teachers are arrogant and treat their students like crap. But there are many gracious and talented Aikido teachers out there are well. George, in particular is a thoughtful and considerate teacher who treats his students with a great deal of respect. So the arrogance argument doesn't explain the problems he has encountered.

Many people come to Aikido for self defense. But many who stay with the art become drawn into the O Sensei's larger vision. While many of O Sensei's direct students admit that they often did not understand his words, a good deal of O Sensei's main ideas have come through. I, for one, am much more interested in Aikido's potential for developing the human being than I am in practicing for some fight.

Aikido's future is in doubt not only because of the erosion of its martial brilliance, but also because of the diminishment of its spiritual potential. The good news is that are talented people in the Aikido community who working hard to address these issues. It is leaders like George who are helping to keep Aikido alive as living, breathing art.

Best regards,
Don Hebert

P.S . I can't remember the last time I was at an Aikido seminar that was full of arrogant, tense people. We must travel in different circles.
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Old 08-11-2011, 02:42 PM   #202
richardlowc
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

I would just like to clarify I am not directing this at George personally.

Thanks
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Old 08-12-2011, 12:02 PM   #203
Richard Stevens
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Richard Lowcock wrote: View Post
George,

I have stayed away from the Aikido forums for nearly 11 years for several reasons.

I talked with my friend ten years ago and I predicted exactly what you said in your first post.

I'll keep this simple as I can. I could go on but I won't.

When I read your statement that said "membership is at an all time low" in 15 years. There are several things you have not addressed. People may not agree with me but based on my prediction 10 years ago I believe I am right.

I don't think you or the "aikido world" have acknowledged, accepted and realized how the martial arts world was turned on its head the day the Gracie family introduced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to the world in the UFC. You had a skinny white boy from Brazil (Royce Gracie) who nobody thought would do much went on to single handily destroy almost every single martial art in one night to prove their art could beat anyone from any style.

It completely shook the martial arts world and the seed was sewn that night in Denver Colorado in 1994. The world was about to stand up and take notice of Gracie Jiu Jitsu. MMA today as we know it based on what happened that night. MMA is based on Gracie Jiu Jitsu/Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The explosive growth of this art has been nothing short of a phenomenon and whether you choose to accept it or not, it has been hugely responsible for the decline of other arts.

A lot of people take up martial arts for self defence not to hear religious quotes of love and peace from an old man they had never met or cannot relate to. Half the Japanese students had no idea what O'sensei was talking about

I hear you and other high ranking Aikidoka quote all these Japanese teachers and bitch about who was first, who was connected with who, who brought what first etc, it's stupid. You all fail to acknowledge the one person who was perhaps single handedly responsible for creating an explosion of new Aikido students to you and all the other Aikido dojos throughout the world over the last 15 years. I think you know who I am going to say. Steven Seagal. Maybe you don't want to admit a fellow American was responsible for the huge growth in the later 80's early 90s.

Seagal sensei kept it real. He kept it simple. You knew what you were going to get. I travelled to Japan last year and out of all the dojos I visited, his dojo in Osaka stood out head and shoulders above anyone else in my opinion. Seagal can't carry people any longer. He is not the same anymore. The glory days have gone.

A lot of Aikido teachers are arrogant. They treat the students like crap and they believe its ok to behave like it. They don't appreciate or they forget it's the students who keep the club going. The Gracie family said It should be us bowing to the students for allowing us to teach them. It says it all doesn't it. They strut around in their Hakama thinking they are it. They are not. They are far from it.

People just don't know what they are getting anymore when they come into Aikido. You change it when it suits you.

I don't know where Aikidos future lies anymore. It's quite worrying. The Aikido class I go to has dropped down to just 4 people now. I've only stayed because of Steven Seagal and I do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu anyway.

I hate going to Aikido seminars. It's full of arrogant people, it's too much of a tense atmosphere, it's not enjoyable and it's like a freaking institution. You all need to take a chill pill and stop thinking you are a cut above the rest.

I hear you all talk about how hard you all used to train back in the day. You should see how hard the BJJ training is.

I could say a lot more but I think you get my point.

Peace.
Love the inaccurate hyperbole.
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Old 08-12-2011, 12:04 PM   #204
Cliff Judge
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

BJJ and Aikido have largely different sets of things to offer. I cannot help but feel that anyone who Aikido has "lost" to BJJ was probably not a good fit for Aikido to begin with.
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Old 08-12-2011, 12:52 PM   #205
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Richard Lowcock wrote: View Post
George,

I have stayed away from the Aikido forums for nearly 11 years for several reasons.

I talked with my friend ten years ago and I predicted exactly what you said in your first post.

I'll keep this simple as I can. I could go on but I won't.

When I read your statement that said "membership is at an all time low" in 15 years. There are several things you have not addressed. People may not agree with me but based on my prediction 10 years ago I believe I am right.

I don't think you or the "aikido world" have acknowledged, accepted and realized how the martial arts world was turned on its head the day the Gracie family introduced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to the world in the UFC. You had a skinny white boy from Brazil (Royce Gracie) who nobody thought would do much went on to single handily destroy almost every single martial art in one night to prove their art could beat anyone from any style.

It completely shook the martial arts world and the seed was sewn that night in Denver Colorado in 1994. The world was about to stand up and take notice of Gracie Jiu Jitsu. MMA today as we know it based on what happened that night. MMA is based on Gracie Jiu Jitsu/Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The explosive growth of this art has been nothing short of a phenomenon and whether you choose to accept it or not, it has been hugely responsible for the decline of other arts.

A lot of people take up martial arts for self defence not to hear religious quotes of love and peace from an old man they had never met or cannot relate to. Half the Japanese students had no idea what O'sensei was talking about

I hear you and other high ranking Aikidoka quote all these Japanese teachers and bitch about who was first, who was connected with who, who brought what first etc, it's stupid. You all fail to acknowledge the one person who was perhaps single handedly responsible for creating an explosion of new Aikido students to you and all the other Aikido dojos throughout the world over the last 15 years. I think you know who I am going to say. Steven Seagal. Maybe you don't want to admit a fellow American was responsible for the huge growth in the later 80's early 90s.

Seagal sensei kept it real. He kept it simple. You knew what you were going to get. I travelled to Japan last year and out of all the dojos I visited, his dojo in Osaka stood out head and shoulders above anyone else in my opinion. Seagal can't carry people any longer. He is not the same anymore. The glory days have gone.

A lot of Aikido teachers are arrogant. They treat the students like crap and they believe its ok to behave like it. They don't appreciate or they forget it's the students who keep the club going. The Gracie family said It should be us bowing to the students for allowing us to teach them. It says it all doesn't it. They strut around in their Hakama thinking they are it. They are not. They are far from it.

People just don't know what they are getting anymore when they come into Aikido. You change it when it suits you.

I don't know where Aikidos future lies anymore. It's quite worrying. The Aikido class I go to has dropped down to just 4 people now. I've only stayed because of Steven Seagal and I do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu anyway.

I hate going to Aikido seminars. It's full of arrogant people, it's too much of a tense atmosphere, it's not enjoyable and it's like a freaking institution. You all need to take a chill pill and stop thinking you are a cut above the rest.

I hear you all talk about how hard you all used to train back in the day. You should see how hard the BJJ training is.

I could say a lot more but I think you get my point.

Peace.
The fundamental assumptions running throgh this miss the point entirely. And that serves to make my points for me.

Why do you assume that we didn't understand or ignored the effect that the Gracies had and how MMAas transformed the martial arts? I watched all of the early UFC fights avidly. I incorporated some BJJ ground work into my Aikido repertoire as a result. There's was combat ground work in the koryu I studied. I can do a shin kick that will put you on the ground, I know how to choke you out... So what? That's just waza not the art...

The idea that Steven Seagal represents some sort of pinnacle of modern Aikido development is absurd. I have nothing but respect for the guy's waza and I think he turned out one of the best up and coming teachers in American Aikido in the person of Matuoka Sensei. So kudos to him. But his stuff isn't any more or less martial than what I have been taught.

Graham being a major exception, I am quite amazed at how many of the folks from Britain seem to treat Aikido as some sort of street fighting art. What happened over there? The almost intentional lack of thoughfulness I see in many of the posts is really fascinating. Or is it just the folks who have chosen to post?

Anyway, the idea that we fail to understand or appreciate BJJ or MMA is simply not based on any accurate information on your part. Why would you think I don't appreciate how hard the MMA folks train? They train like maniacs... In fact these young men are succeeding in doing as much damage to their bodies in 7 or 8 years as I took 35 to do (here I mean MMA rather than true BJJ which I think is pretty healthy). No, I understand how hard they train quite well.

My generation of American Aikido practitioners were all of the Viet Nam War generation. Everyone I knew was involved, one way or another with the anti war movement. Many of my frineds were combat veterans. We found this new martial art, which espoused values that resonated with the times, The Founder's philosophy had a tremendous appeal. I absolutely believe that it was what we understood of that philosophy coupled with the beauty and power of the art itself that drew most of us to Aikido. We started Aikido long before any Steven Seagal movies.

I have been running an Aikido dojo for almost 25 years. In all that time, I can remember only a couple of folks who came in the door talking about Steven Seagal. I am not saying that his movies didn't help us grow the art... But all these years later, in my opinion, the folks who are still training aren't the folks who started because of his movies.

I belive that the young folks today are quite alienated and fairly angry. In my day we were as well, but we had the anti war movement to vent. We demonstated, lobbied against the war, got arrested, etc Today, there is no anti war movement worth the name, despite two wars going on. There's no political opposition movement of any consequence and I think that this fascination with "fighting" for its own sake, the "Fight Club" mentality, is the direct result of our current zeitgeist.

It's not just Aikido that's not of interest to our young men, it's all traditional forms. It's not just about whether it's realistic self defense... there's less interest in the koryu as well and those are 500 year old combat styles. No, it seems to be about "fighting" for its own sake and that has little to do with Aikido.

Anyway, I give it about ten years. When this generation of young men has totally trashed their bodies, which they are doing, but still wish to train, they'll be back, looking for something more sensible to do. I suspect that at that point, they'll be more reflective than they seem to be currently. They'll be tough, they'll know how to train, but they will be a lot more mature by then and I think that Aikido will potentially go through another growth spurt.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 08-13-2011, 05:46 AM   #206
richardlowc
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Hi George,

I think you are little out of touch with reality now.

You say give it ten more years and they'll be back to study something more sensible. There you go, your arrogance again.

Helio Gracie was 95 and still practicing. Age makes no difference in BJJ because it was founded on true principles of leverage.

Saying Seagal doesn't represents some sort of pinnacle of modern Aikido development is absurd. It's bit like saying Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't have some sort of pinnacle on Bodybuilding. Seagal was one of the biggest action movie stars of all time. He was on the same level as Stallone and Schwarzenegger. He was able to promote Aikido on a scale that nobody else could do but he did it right. There were lines outside the video shops on the day his films were released. People went to see his Aikido.

After watching your technique on Youtube it is nothing like Seagal sensei. I'm not disrespecting it though. In the clips I saw, it wasn't near enough to make an impression like the start of Above the Law. And that is what Seagal did. He made an incredible impression with his own unique style very quickly.

I have spoke to several people who trained with Seagal and some top Japanese such as Tohei and the interesting thing is that all of them said nobody was as good as Seagal sensei. When I was in Japan, I was told by a Japanese teacher that other Japanese instructors are now stealing Seagal's exercises.

Have you heard the interview with Seagal sensei where he talks about O'sensei? It's no wonder so many modern Aikidoka have got his teachings all scewed.

I don't know where you got the impression that us Brits think Aikido is a street fighting art. When did I say that? Aikido was meant to be a system of self defence. If it is not, what exactly is it then George?

I can sense jealously in your post, a bit of a know it all.

Rich
P.S I was out last Friday and got talking to someone in a restaurant. He was interested in martial arts. When I told him I practice BJJ and Aikido, he said Aikido, why do you do that for? "It's just based on silly cooperation. The only good thing about Aikido was Steven Seagal". And now you wonder why the numbers are dropping.
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Old 08-13-2011, 12:30 PM   #207
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Richard Lowcock wrote: View Post
Saying Seagal doesn't represents some sort of pinnacle of modern Aikido development is absurd. It's bit like saying Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't have some sort of pinnacle on Bodybuilding.
I think it's a bit absurd to say he was the pinnacle. At least Arnold was Mr. Universe, which is actually an example of what could be called "pinnacle." Popularity of movies has nothing to do with ability in Aikido...nothing against Segal's Aikido here. Simply that I disagree with your notion that popularity somehow equates to pinnacle of achievement.

Quote:
Seagal was one of the biggest action movie stars of all time. He was on the same level as Stallone and Schwarzenegger. He was able to promote Aikido on a scale that nobody else could do but he did it right. There were lines outside the video shops on the day his films were released. People went to see his Aikido.
Not in my experience. I grew up watching his movies with my friends and nobody I knew knew about Aikido from him. Those lines weren't to see Aikido; they were to see him own dudes like a bad-ass. Yes he increased the popularity of Aikido, but that means very little.

Quote:
P.S I was out last Friday and got talking to someone in a restaurant. He was interested in martial arts. When I told him I practice BJJ and Aikido, he said Aikido, why do you do that for? "It's just based on silly cooperation. The only good thing about Aikido was Steven Seagal". And now you wonder why the numbers are dropping.
That's as pointless as this:
I was hanging out with my friend, who's been in a number of fights, and he said I did some Bruce Lee @#$% on him. Totally proves I, and by extension Aikido, are totally bad-ass.
I think you seem to be missing one of the points George was making, that many Aikido students should train more seriously, which applies to any number of factors, including physical potency.
Your remarks strike me as rather more arrogant than Ledyard sensei's, but what do I know, I'm just a deluded, high-falutin Aikidoist.
I think economy is just as big a factor (if not more so), though I would agree the popularity of BJJ and MMA are a big factor too.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 08-13-2011, 12:52 PM   #208
Belt_Up
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
I think you are little out of touch with reality now.
Come in pot, this is kettle, over.

Quote:
After watching your technique on Youtube it is nothing like Seagal sensei. I'm not disrespecting it though. In the clips I saw, it wasn't near enough to make an impression like the start of Above the Law.
Surely this is a joke. A poor joke, at that, but a joke.

Quote:
P.S I was out last Friday and got talking to someone in a restaurant. He was interested in martial arts. When I told him I practice BJJ and Aikido, he said Aikido, why do you do that for? "It's just based on silly cooperation. The only good thing about Aikido was Steven Seagal". And now you wonder why the numbers are dropping.
People in restaraunts know everything now. Amazing.

The majority of British Aikidoka are nothing like Richard Lowcock, I'm very happy to say. What a total embarrassment. We're not all like this, I swear.
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Old 08-13-2011, 01:12 PM   #209
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Richard Lowcock wrote: View Post
Helio Gracie was 95 and still practicing. Age makes no difference in BJJ because it was founded on true principles of leverage.
I have never said a bad word about BJJ or the Gracies. I have good friends who trained with some of the Gracies and others who trained with the Machados. If you read my post more closely you'll notice that I made a distinction between BJJ and what is being called MMA. The predominance of Muy Thai in MMA coupled with the heavy use of impact techniques on the ground make it quite a bit different than traditional BJJ. The Gracies and the Machados consider what they do to be health systems as well as martial arts. As I said, we actually do a bit of that in our dojo but it isn't a main part of the training. Aikido is a system primarily designed for multiple attackers and I think is based on the assumption that weapons are present, on the part of both of the folks training. That's the logic behind what we do. BJJ and MMA, while being great sports and fine for one on one are simply not applicable in the kind of environment Aikido was designed for. If folks want to do both, that's just great. But they are not interchangeable... one or the other leaves some gaps in your defensive system. Anyway, I am an Aikido teacher. There are plenty of folks around where one can develop ones ground work if one wishes.

Quote:
After watching your technique on Youtube it is nothing like Seagal sensei. I'm not disrespecting it though. In the clips I saw, it wasn't near enough to make an impression like the start of Above the Law. And that is what Seagal did. He made an incredible impression with his own unique style very quickly.
The YouTube clips are of me teaching class. I am demonstrating principles, not making an action movie. I am quite capable of making my Aikido look like Seagal's... but it's not what I am doing when I am teaching. I have film of Seagal Sensei actually teaching classes, with real students, not as drama in an action movie and guess what? He's showing the moves slowly, gently, with explanation because he's teaching class, not showing off for a movie audience.

Quote:
I have spoke to several people who trained with Seagal and some top Japanese such as Tohei and the interesting thing is that all of them said nobody was as good as Seagal sensei. When I was in Japan, I was told by a Japanese teacher that other Japanese instructors are now stealing Seagal's exercises.
I am sorry... this sounds like it came out of some public relations ad copy. Seagal Sensei's ability to create a persona, much of which is highly fictionalized is legendary. Starting with his special ops work in Viet Nam to his learning the Blues at the feet of the old blues men in Detroit and now becoming a Tibetan Tulku, the man's ability both to market himself and to periodically reinvent himself is amazing.

I know quite a number of Japanese Shihan. As a group they were all supremely unconcerned with Steven Seagal. Now, I am on record as having repeatedly saying that I like his Aikido. His Aikido was closest in conception to what I learned from Saotome Sensei. But the idea that he is some major technical influence on contemporary Aikido is just silly. He had a really good dojo for a number of years and trained some good folks, many of whom I know and have trained with. Matsuoka Sensei is an absolute gem in my opinion.

But very few of these old students are still associated with him. He has largely moved on to other personas and projects and is not very present on the American Aikido scene. It is simply a fact that most of the folks doing Aikido over here have either been marginally influenced by him or didn't find his Aikido compelling from the standpoint that it was what they wanted to do.

While Seagal Sensei was running his small dojo and training some excellent folks, people like Frank Doran, Bill Witt, Bob Nadeau, Terry Dobson, Mary Heiny, and so on were the ones that were developing and spreading American Aikido here (along with the Japanese Shihan who came over here originally). Folks may have walked in to their dojos after seeing a Steven Seagal movie but it was other folks who ran those dojos, developed the Aikido community, grew the organizations, etc. He simply isn't that influential in the Aikido community. The idea that Aikido is shrinking because we aren't dong Seagal's Aikido is humorous at best. Most folks never were and weren't terribly interested.

Don't get me wrong... I love his Aikido. Always have. On-line I have always been one of the folks that publicly stated that I thought his Aikido was great. But I trained with a guy that trained under the Founder for fifteen years. There are other folks who trained with teachers who also trained with the Founder. Seagal never trained with the Founder. Forgive me if I don't take his word about the Founder's ideas about Aikido over the teachers who actually trained with him. Seagal Sensei is just one of a number of excellent Aikido folks here, not some Aikido demi-god, despite what his public relations folks would have everyone believe.

Quote:
I don't know where you got the impression that us Brits think Aikido is a street fighting art. When did I say that? Aikido was meant to be a system of self defence. If it is not, what exactly is it then George?
Well, I have written quite a lot about what I think it is. I do think that it is potentially a system of self defense. If one trains properly, some ability to defend oneself should result. But I also think that there is no evidence whatever that O-Sensei thought he was creating a new fighting style when he developed Aikido out of the Daito Ryu he started with. O-Sensei's presentation of Aikido was almost entirely as a spiritual practice. He hardly ever talked about how to do technique. Yet in the posts by many of the folks from the UK, not only is there seldom any consideration of the philosophical / spiritual side of the art but that aspect of Aikido is actively disdained and denigrated. If it isn't about fighting, they aren't interested.

There are certainly exceptions and perhaps my perception is colored by who is the most vocal. But it certainly has been my perception that the crowd as appearing here on Aikiweb is not terribly thoughtful. On the other hand, I'll be teaching over there next year and I suppose the folks that invited me did so for their own reasons so I can't assume everyone in the UK is of one mind any more than they are here.

As for being jealous? I can honestly say with complete and utter sincerity I am not "jealous" of Steven Seagal. I actually seldom even consider him, except when one of his movies shows up on cable. As I say, I love his Aikido... but other than that, well, I just don't think about him, nor do most of the Aikido teachers I know.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 08-13-2011, 01:37 PM   #210
Cliff Judge
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Richard Lowcock wrote: View Post

I can sense jealously in your post, a bit of a know it all.

Rich
P.S I was out last Friday and got talking to someone in a restaurant. He was interested in martial arts. When I told him I practice BJJ and Aikido, he said Aikido, why do you do that for? "It's just based on silly cooperation. The only good thing about Aikido was Steven Seagal". And now you wonder why the numbers are dropping.
What was your answer to this question?? I bet I am not the only one reading this who is dying to know.

FYI, people reading your posts can sense quite a bit of something in them as well!
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Old 08-13-2011, 04:19 PM   #211
Dave de Vos
 
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Richard Lowcock wrote: View Post
Saying Seagal doesn't represents some sort of pinnacle of modern Aikido development is absurd. [...] He was able to promote Aikido on a scale that nobody else could do but he did it right. There were lines outside the video shops on the day his films were released. People went to see his Aikido.
I didn't even know that Steven Seagal was an aikidoist before I started aikido last year. And now that I know, I still don't think his movie aikido is a good example of what aikido is like. Sure, it is impressive to watch him fight with stuntmen, but it also portrays a very brutal image of aikido. I wouldn't want to do aikido if its pinnacle would be to be that brutal.
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Old 08-13-2011, 05:05 PM   #212
Janet Rosen
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Richard Lowcock wrote: View Post
People went to see his Aikido.
Um, no, they went to see his action movies.

Except for a couple of short clips here and there, I didn't see a S.S. movie until after training for well over a decade. People suggested I try his first one as being the one with the most aikido in it. It was so poorly written and acted I had to turn it off before any martial arts scenes - about par for the course for me and action/revenge fantasy movies.

I have visited dojos all across the USA and have yet to meet or train with anybody who came to aikido because they saw one of his movies.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 08-13-2011, 06:53 PM   #213
sakumeikan
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Dear Mr Ledyard,
As an aikidoka of over forty years and a Brit I take exception to your comment concerning your view that U.K Aikidoka are only interested in 'fighting Aikido 'and are not interested in the spiritual , moral side of Aikido.For what it is worth I have an library of philosophic books related to Aikido, Zen, Macrobiotics.I have also been an uchideshi in San Diego Aikikai where I was exposed to Za Zen.I have also attended lectures with Zen monks.To suggest that the Brits are just interested in fighting is certainly in my view incorrect.Just because we may not post about these subjects does not mean we do not practice /study these subjects.
We have regular visit from Zen priest, and last week at our Summer School in Worcester many of the attendees did early morning Zen training.Rather than generalise, why not seek information before making the comments?
Cheers, Joe.
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Old 08-13-2011, 07:26 PM   #214
graham christian
Dojo: golden center aikido-highgate
Location: london
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Joe Curran wrote: View Post
Dear Mr Ledyard,
As an aikidoka of over forty years and a Brit I take exception to your comment concerning your view that U.K Aikidoka are only interested in 'fighting Aikido 'and are not interested in the spiritual , moral side of Aikido.For what it is worth I have an library of philosophic books related to Aikido, Zen, Macrobiotics.I have also been an uchideshi in San Diego Aikikai where I was exposed to Za Zen.I have also attended lectures with Zen monks.To suggest that the Brits are just interested in fighting is certainly in my view incorrect.Just because we may not post about these subjects does not mean we do not practice /study these subjects.
We have regular visit from Zen priest, and last week at our Summer School in Worcester many of the attendees did early morning Zen training.Rather than generalise, why not seek information before making the comments?
Cheers, Joe.
Wow! Did he say that? Shame. Funny how when I mention all things spiritual and indeed philosophical he seems to question it or indeed ignore it or equate it with unreal. There again maybe he thinks I'm not British and am an alien. Yeah, that would make sense.

Anyway Joe, have a cuppa, stiff upper lip and all that. Plus remember.....'Pull yourself together man -- you're British!!! Ha,ha.

Regards.G.
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Old 08-13-2011, 07:29 PM   #215
Belt_Up
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Mr Ledyard did take pains to aim his comment quite accurately:

Quote:
Yet in the posts by many of the folks from the UK, not only is there seldom any consideration of the philosophical / spiritual side of the art but that aspect of Aikido is actively disdained and denigrated. If it isn't about fighting, they aren't interested.

There are certainly exceptions and perhaps my perception is colored by who is the most vocal. But it certainly has been my perception that the crowd as appearing here on Aikiweb is not terribly thoughtful. On the other hand, I'll be teaching over there next year and I suppose the folks that invited me did so for their own reasons so I can't assume everyone in the UK is of one mind any more than they are here.
Given comments like this:

Quote:
I've only stayed because of Steven Seagal and I do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu anyway.
I wouldn't blame him if he did generalise it to include all Brits. Truly cringeworthy.
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Old 08-13-2011, 07:43 PM   #216
graham christian
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Geoff Byers wrote: View Post
Mr Ledyard did take pains to aim his comment quite accurately:

Given comments like this:

I wouldn't blame him if he did generalise it to include all Brits. Truly cringeworthy.
I suppose if you look at things and relate them to nationality then you are not very smart. If you're talking about cultures etc. then that's different. Why defend the indefencible? Do you see that quote as representing Brits or as a persons opinion?
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Old 08-13-2011, 07:54 PM   #217
Belt_Up
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
I suppose if you look at things and relate them to nationality then you are not very smart.
Then the human race as a whole is not very smart. Every single person, at one time or another, has generalised about a person based on their nationality.

What I pointed out was that Mr Ledyard's comment was not aimed at all British aikidoka, merely some of the small percentage on Aikiweb, but faced with what I consider to be, quite frankly, arrogance and rudeness from a totally uninvolved party who cannot possibly understand the factors involved, I personally would forgive him tarring us all with the same brush, as such spectacular negativity would wipe out considerable positivity from others. This is related to the concept of negativity bias, where bad or negative things draw the attention of humans much more powerfully than good or positive things.

It's bringing things like confirmation bias into play when that eyebrow-raiser of a comment from Lowcock ("I've only stayed because of Steven Seagal and I do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu anyway.") merely confirms what Mr Ledyard has just opined ("...not terribly thoughtful.").

Last edited by Belt_Up : 08-13-2011 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 08-13-2011, 08:10 PM   #218
graham christian
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Geoff Byers wrote: View Post
Then the human race as a whole is not very smart. Every single person, at one time or another, has generalised about a person based on their nationality.

What I pointed out was that Mr Ledyard's comment was not aimed at all British aikidoka, merely some of the small percentage on Aikiweb, but faced with what I consider to be, quite frankly, arrogance and rudeness from a totally uninvolved party who cannot possibly understand the factors involved, I personally would forgive him tarring us all with the same brush, as such spectacular negativity would wipe out considerable positivity from others.

It's bringing things like confirmation bias into play when that eyebrow-raiser of a comment from Lowcock ("I've only stayed because of Steven Seagal and I do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu anyway.") merely confirms what Mr Ledyard has just opined ("...not terribly thoughtful.").
Agreed, we tend to be not very smart.

So Mr Ledyard was led by rudeness? I fail to see the connection. I have and so have many others been led by various forms of rudeness but the responses have never then been to the effect of Americans or Dutch or whatever nationality.

Mentioning nationality at all is not very smart. I suggest he apologises. Not for my sake but for his own. I don't see him as a lesser person but I do see his error.

As I said, why defend the indefensible. Be neither for nor against the person but politely point out the error that's all.

Regards.G.
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Old 08-13-2011, 08:22 PM   #219
Belt_Up
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

The error? I see a pretty big error here, and it's not from Mr Ledyard, nor is he the one that should be apologising. He did not generalise his comment to include all Brits, merely some of the very few British aikidoka that post on Aikiweb, and from what I can see, he was entirely correct to do so.

There is an excellent example of just that minority Mr Ledyard mentioned in Lowcock, there.
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Old 08-13-2011, 08:37 PM   #220
graham christian
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Geoff Byers wrote: View Post
The error? I see a pretty big error here, and it's not from Mr Ledyard, nor is he the one that should be apologising. He did not generalise his comment to include all Brits, merely some of the very few British aikidoka that post on Aikiweb, and from what I can see, he was entirely correct to do so.

There is an excellent example of just that minority Mr Ledyard mentioned in Lowcock, there.
I didn't say he did. I said the mention of Nationality. Why do it?

I dare you to find some arrogant or stupid posts from a few who happen to be from one country and then for you to group them in terms of nationality.

You wouldn't do it I am quite sure. Why? Because you KNOW it may cause offence and is actually irrelevant let alone irreverent.

If I was to say I notice some Yoshinkan or some Daito ryu folks on this forum seem to be more interested in fighting don't you think I would have a lot of Yoshinkan and daito ryu folks complaining?

We are responsible for the words we use. Or not.

Regards.G.
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Old 08-14-2011, 12:06 AM   #221
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Joe Curran wrote: View Post
Dear Mr Ledyard,
As an aikidoka of over forty years and a Brit I take exception to your comment concerning your view that U.K Aikidoka are only interested in 'fighting Aikido 'and are not interested in the spiritual , moral side of Aikido.For what it is worth I have an library of philosophic books related to Aikido, Zen, Macrobiotics.I have also been an uchideshi in San Diego Aikikai where I was exposed to Za Zen.I have also attended lectures with Zen monks.To suggest that the Brits are just interested in fighting is certainly in my view incorrect.Just because we may not post about these subjects does not mean we do not practice /study these subjects.
We have regular visit from Zen priest, and last week at our Summer School in Worcester many of the attendees did early morning Zen training.Rather than generalise, why not seek information before making the comments?
Cheers, Joe.
Well Joe,
I was merely referring to an impression that I had from reading aikiweb. As I said, it was from reading certain folks posting and I actually said I assumed it wasn't a general trait as I had been invited to teach over there next year. I doubt I would have been had my generalization really applied widely.

My mis-perception could be easily corrected... I have no particular investment in it... You list all sorts of areas you guys are pursuing related to your practice. Without anyone writing about that, how would I know?

Anyway, I sincerely apologize to any and all folks who felt that I was unfairly referring to them. I understand that the folks I am exposed to via Aikiweb are a tiny subsection of the Aikido public and I would be wrong to draw any broad conclusions from the posts of the few. Too heavy a dose of Waggstaffism, it made me irrational.

So, no more over generalizations.... not fair to the folks who they shouldn't apply to. I will direct my frustrations individually as they occur to me.

Se really, I am sorry to whomever I offended. I have trained with some very nice folks from the UK and I am sure most of the folks who post here would actually find we had a lot in common if we could actually train together rather than talk about it. I think folks end up with opinions about people that are sometimes wide of the mark when you actually get to meet them.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 08-14-2011, 05:07 AM   #222
Nicholas Eschenbruch
Dojo: TV Denzlingen
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

To be fair, and without implying judgement, I think it can safely be said that a lot of aikido in Britain is somewhat more hands-on and attracts a different audience then in other places I have trained (Germany, France, Switzerland, a little US and Italy).

Also, it is my experience from two two years intensive training in Britain in two different organisations that the crowd somehow seems to be more muscular, have more tatoos, more previous judo and more bar room brawl experience than at least over here in Germany. Great people though! (Or maybe it was just because I was in the North East...)

I remember getting a coaching certificate over there from a gentleman who had his wrist broken testing Chiba Sensei, twice: apparently he believed the first time was a one-off and tried testing him again... and from what I hear from my British friends, stories like that are not unusual at all for the early days of Chiba Sensei in England.

So I can see where George's statement comes from...

Joe, you were probably there, weren't you? Maybe what was the norm for you people was not the norm elsewhere... but as I said, no value judgement intended, I throughly enjoyed my training in England.
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Old 08-14-2011, 05:42 AM   #223
Mark Freeman
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Graham being a major exception, I am quite amazed at how many of the folks from Britain seem to treat Aikido as some sort of street fighting art. What happened over there? The almost intentional lack of thoughfulness I see in many of the posts is really fascinating. Or is it just the folks who have chosen to post?
Hi George,

Most likely, the folks who choose to post.

I train with one of the largest federations in the UK (separate from all other governing bodies) under the first Brit to be taught aikdo here. The focus of all of our practice is based on ki development, co-ordination and technical profficiency. The reason for doing this is to develop the self and to apply the principles we learn on the mat to our daily lives. In all the years and people I have practiced with, none have been there to improve their fighting skills or see aikido as a street fighting art.

So maybe, you have unfairly focussed on a few vocal Brits and tainted the rest of us. My reading of things here are that those in the UK are similar to elsewhere, some at the extremeties and most from the centre ground.

I am interested to see that you may be coming here next year, where and when will you be?

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 08-14-2011, 06:18 AM   #224
Nicholas Eschenbruch
Dojo: TV Denzlingen
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote: View Post

I am interested to see that you may be coming here next year, where and when will you be?
Thanks for pointing that out Mark - I just checked George's diary on his website, it says Coventry, May 4t-6th. George, that would be awesome, will it be a public event?

Nicholas
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Old 08-14-2011, 07:06 AM   #225
graham christian
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Credit to George. Showing a touch of class and humility.

Regards.G.
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