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Old 08-15-2011, 01:00 PM   #26
DH
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Question Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

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Alec Corper wrote: View Post
Just for the sake of open discussion, and not as a statement of fact. Over the years I have heard the words spiritual and philosophical and ethical all used in relation to Aikido, generally by people meaning "roughly" the same thing. I believe that Ueshiba was quite probably a touch mad, in the way that most highly committed people are, but I also believe that he was technically very gifted. Many of his doka were dismissed, even by how own deshi, as being too "mystical" to understand, too "spiritual" etc. However, and I'm sure Mike will correct me if I am way off the mark, I have read many so-called Tai Chi poems which read like a cross between drunken Taosim and a romantic naturalist guidebook. BUT, on careful perusal they begin to make some sense, speaking about sunny side and shady side and seasonal or diurnal rotations as an allegory for how to utilize the mechanics of spiralling, or how to have part of the body full and another, balancing part, empty.
I begin to suspect that some of Ueshiba's spiritual ramblings were in fact technical allegory in the same way. I don't know whether it was intentionally so, or simply the orchestrated by-product of the imagery and language he was full of.
Even the endlessly misquoted idea that Aikido is all about establishing a "relationship" with an opponent, which contains echoes of a love and peace era that hadn't happened yet, becomes meaningful looked at as a technical indication of absorbing the energy and intention of an opponent to the point that control was established, a use of aiki as I understand it. Is it possible that he taught more than people thought and that his technical and "spiritual" sides were actually successfully joined in his art?
Alec Corper
Hi Alec,
With the Chinese or Japanese writings it is important to realize that the real experts debate and argue over the meaning of them. When you look at the Japanese classics you have just as much debate as the Chinese and this is evident in Kotodama and the Kojiki. It is probably wise to spend the time to research and talk with more knowledgeable people than consulting with and offering false expertise to amateur nobodies, or to get too involved debating with newbies, or arguing physics models with people with little skill as some sort of verification , validation or 'imagining" that it is leading to some sort of immutable and final understanding.
That is as stupid and as ignorant, as not reading them at all.

The people who claim to understand Ueshiba's spirituality have not done so in any methodology that is vetted by a peer review. Nor have those who claim a physical expertise been able to match his examples in an undisputed fashion. Mind/body is inexorably intertwined, but not in the ways many parties would agree to. Therefore, I am disinclined to give too much credence to either group. It's more data, and that is about as far as it will ever go. Some things are more obvious than others;
Young turks using muscle and cranking are clearly missing it,
So are airy fairies spinning around the room afraid to even use their arms lest they power up..

Another interesting look at this loss of understanding- which the founder understood how to fix -is in this translation
"In order to achieve the mysterious workings of ki based upon intent, first realize the appearance of the foundation that is the ki connection (ki musubi) between the left side of the physical body grounded in the martial and the right that receives the universe. If you can achieve this connection between the left and the right then you will be able to move with complete freedom."

There is far too much hubris and self imposed and unrecognized "expertise" of a complicated topic going on here. Moreover the people presenting are not offering an intellectually honest debate where they at least make it known that the tenants of some of their own arguments are debated within a given discipline. Instead they present as if it is all agreed upon. I will leave it up to the individual to determine if this is the result of ignorance, or arrogance, or both.

"In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king."

I am an advocate for research, but in budo at the end of the day, it is as it always was. The people who claim a deeper understanding needed to demonstrate it with competency up against those who actually do posses it. Everything is up for grabs as total BS, to partial understanding, on to a well played smoke screen.
Example:
Where are the holes in Mr A's game?
Mr. B's?
Most do not posses the competency to know the difference and will not know until later or maybe never at all. It's always been that way...always, even under master class teachers.

Non Aikido and Aikido.
With the current discussion of Ueshiba we have an interesting mix:
People claiming to have trained with him everyday who did not
People claiming they understood him when nothing they have written would support that
People claiming they understand him and nothing they physically can do would support that
People who claim they understand his spiritual leanings and how it produced power, yet no one else who did just that produced the same power
And of late we have some serious translation issues, which demonstrate that ...surprise, surprise...people outside of aikido more and more are the ones who understand many of the principles he was talking about after all. And more and more, we are seeing it was in fact not code, but actually known principles for budo movement that the aikido translaters didn't have a clue about.

There was no clear model set forth by the founder that all agree to. Only tid bits and hints that remain open for debate. So When is Non aikido....aikido? Maybe when non aikido people can understand many of the principles the inventor of the art actually meant when he spoke and can explain it and demonstrate power and aiki and teach it to the arts teachers...or maybe not.
Good luck in your training
Dan

Last edited by DH : 08-15-2011 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 08-15-2011, 10:14 PM   #27
JW
 
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

Yeouch, come on Dan, please don't get too cynical! Even those who aren't totally "missing it" are going to suck at first, right? Anyway I think your points are right on.. for me, I want to keep an open mind, keep on learning and try to not fall off the budo bus.

Alec, I think you are right on:
Quote:
Alec Corper wrote: View Post
I begin to suspect that some of Ueshiba's spiritual ramblings were in fact technical allegory in the same way. I don't know wether it was intentionally so, or simply the orchestrated byproduct of the imagery and language he was full of.
My guess is your latter explanation here is at the heart of it-- though I also think he was completely aware of how his language was not mainstream and would need to be "decoded" by the rest of us. Really though it's true, using that kind of language is in keeping with tradition, not just him being weird.
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Old 08-15-2011, 10:33 PM   #28
Mike Sigman
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

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Dan Harden wrote: View Post
With the Chinese or Japanese writings it is important to realize that the real experts debate and argue over the meaning of them.
Not really and certainly not always.
Quote:
When you look at the Japanese classics you have just as much debate as the Chinese and this is evident in Kotodama and the Kojiki. It is probably wise to spend the time to research and talk with more knowledgeable people than consulting with and offering false expertise to amateur nobodies, or to get too involved debating with newbies, or arguing physics models with people with little skill as some sort of verification , validation or 'imagining" that it is leading to some sort of immutable and final understanding.
That is as stupid and as ignorant, as not reading them at all.
Right. Good luck to all your students, Dan. Just for informational purposes, tell us once again about where you learned to "imagine spirals", Dan, and where you became more than an "amateur" yourself in so few years. Give the money back. Let me re-state something I've said over the years: It's easy to fool beginners; it's hard to fool experts. On the other hand, if someone is too easily fooled, let them continue onward.

If you want to have a concrete debate, please take up the points I've tried to offer in the spirit of honest debate and study/discuss those; oblique and obscure shots at unnamed 'others' aren't a good way to start. A better place to start would be to tell us why qi/ki is different in Japan than in China and why people like Feng, CXW, and others don't really understand Asian martial-arts. Quotes or logic work much better than assertion and oblique character attacks (ad hominem).

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 08-15-2011, 10:47 PM   #29
Janet Rosen
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

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Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
Good luck to all your students, Dan. Just for informational purposes, tell us once again about where you learned to "imagine spirals", Dan, and where you became more than an "amateur" yourself in so few years. Give the money back. Let me re-state something I've said over the years: It's easy to fool beginners; it's hard to fool experts.....
Quotes or logic work much better than assertion and oblique character attacks (ad hominem).
That's it. I have never used the ignore feature on aikiweb but I just can't take this. I'm venturing into a world without Mike.

Janet Rosen
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Old 08-16-2011, 12:09 AM   #30
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

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Joe Curran wrote: View Post
Dear Yannis,
I do not know how you arrive at the conclusion that after O Senseis passing training in Jo/Ken , Batto Ho,suburi , kumi tachi, tachidori /jo dori went out the window.As a member of Birankai International I can safely say all of these disciplines[including Za Zen ]are practiced consistently within our group.
Why not take the time and effort to look at Biran online and see for yourself?Or contact me in Pm.and I can give you futher info.
Cheers, Joe.
Dear Joe,of course there are aikido dojos that are practicing the complete"menu" of aikido training and of course there are dojos that are training according to aiki and the basic aikido principles (and our dojo is one of them too), otherwise it would be an utter catastrophe for the future of the art.But unfortunatelly what i said are not mere personal conclusions.I have an awful lot of bad examples of people who have chopped aikido to pieces(and they still call it aikido), then chose to practice only some of them and then they are wondering what was o'sensei's amazing secret of proficiency, claiming that they can never reach his level because he was somehow unique with a...metaphysical meaning.It's easy to declare him a god as an excuse for our lack of skill.Of course that doesn't mean that all aikido practisioners are doing this.So the point of my post is actually that o'sensei didn't invent aikido waza he reached it by practicing and if one practices in the same manner and in the same spirit there is no limitation, he can reach any level.And once there(and only then), every technique, every improvisation every daily work, anything can be aikido as long as it is within its basic principles.Thanks for reading my post and for your reply.
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Old 08-16-2011, 02:02 AM   #31
Alec Corper
 
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

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Good luck in your training
Dan
Thank you, Dan, I need it. I hope i will manage to catch you in the Netherlands next time, In October I believe. I missed you last time due to injury.
regards, Alec Corper

If your temper rises withdraw your hand, if your hand rises withdraw your temper.
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:39 AM   #32
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

Hello Sensei Ledyard! Kind of an aside, but I find that I always enjoy reading whatever you write. You have the voice of a scholar, and of a reflective person, apart from being knowledgeable about aikido.

This leads me to two questions: (1) Have you written any aikido books? [Or are there other writings that you have done on-line or elsewhere, whether or not about aikido?]; and (2) If you had to pick three foundational ideas to convey to others about your own understanding and practice of aikido, what in your view is most important?

Michael Greenberg

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I think these discussions always get problematical because, as O-Sensei was frequently quoted as saying, "no one is doing my Aikido." Notice he didn't say, "No one is doing my Aikido any more" or "No one after 1942 is doing my Aikido."

For the Founder, there simply was no distinction between the various elements of his practice. Meaning his waza, his spiritual beliefs, his misogi training, even his farming, was all Aikido. The thirties deshi, especially his nephew Inoue sensei, were technically the closest in terms of waza but other than Inoue. none of them seemed the least interested in his spiritual practices, at least the ones who are famous because they started their own styles (Shioda, Tomiki, Mochizuki). Shirata Sensei was the only one of the thirties deshi of any great repute who stayed with the Aikikai.

I have mentioned before a conversation I had with Saotome Sensei and Stan Pranin about which of O-Sensei's students tried hardest to understand Aikido the way the Founder understood it. The answer was Hikitsuchi, Abe, and Sunadomari. Notice that none of these are early thirties deshi.

It is clear that the early thirties deshi did Daito Ryu. As has been discussed at length elsewhere, they did various forms of "internal power" development exercises that largely seemed to drop out of Aikido after the war. But I think it would be a huge mistake to say that their Aikido was any closer to O-Sensei's Aikido than the post war folks. From the standpoint of the Founder, I think their Aikido was just as out of balance as much of what came later.

In addition to the three teachers I mentioned who pursued their Aikido as a balanced technical / spiritual practice, there were many students of the Founder who incorporated aspects of his practice into their own. Some studied kototama, some tried to get outside martial arts experience (as the Founder had), some, like my own teacher, Saotome Sensei, tried very hard to understand what the Founder was talking about when he taught as obscure as it was, and then translate it into ideas that would be meaningful to modern Japanese, and later American practitioners.

When you hear that O-Sensei yelled at people for not doping technique "right" are we talking about particular stylistic details not being correct? Or are we talking about the difference between what works and what doesn't? My take on O-Sensei was that as he developed his Aikido, he progressively became less and less concerned with exactly how one did a given technique and more and more with whether it embodied the proper principles.

I have direct experience of this myself with my own teacher. While students focus on how they think Sensei did such and such a sword form on his video, my experience is that he cares not one whit that my form is a bit different than his. As long as it embodies the principles he was striving to teach via the form, he isn't that concerned with the actual form itself, in fact he often has trouble remembering the exact forms, even though he made them up.

It was the students of the Founder who were so concerned with form, and naturally so. They had to distill the massive amount of teaching they received from the Founder into something they could digest themselves and then in turn, pass on to another generation of students. I see no evidence that O-Sensei was the least interested in "form" as he developed his art. Saito Sensei was really the last deshi to get a lot of detailed technical training because it was with Saito that O-Sensei worked out what would become the foundations of post war Aikido.

Whether you go back to the thirties or read the accounts of the post war deshi, it is clear that what O-Sensei thought was important about Aikido was its balance between the spiritual and the technical. When he taught, he talked about spiritual principles and then demonstrated how those principles were embodied in technique. That's just a fact. It is also a fact that the majority of his students simply couldn't go there with him.

I think it has always been the case the Aikido was about finding your own Aikido. O-Sensei presented his ideas about what that might be but never developed any systematic method for passing it on. I still believe that, in the end, the one student whose Aikido was probably the closest to that of the Founder, both technically and philosophically was Inoue Sensei, who had very little following in Japan and almost none overseas.

To the extent that one seeks "O-Sensei's Aikido" it is rather like the research required to reconstruct the original texts of Buddhism. The original texts in Sanskrit are lost, destroyed by the Islamic invaders of Northern India. To get an idea of what was in the originals, one has to look at the Pali, the Chinese and the Tibetan texts and compare them. Anything that appears in all three versions is assumed to have been in the original.

So we can look at various teachers from different time periods and derive pieces of the Founder's Aikido. But no one, whether it's pre-war or post-war, was either technically or spiritually doing exactly what the Founder had done. That's a fact. We can get over it and move on with our Aikido or we can keep trying to set up our own "Jurassic Park" of Aikido using various strands of Aikido DNA left behind in other practitioners.

It's not O-Sensei's Aikido that we are striving for. It's our own Aikido that perhaps O-Sensei might have recognized and hopefully, approved of. No one duplicated his Aikido when he was alive and they could train with him on a daily level. There is zero chance we can duplicate it for ourselves. But I do think he had an intention about what the art should be as a transformative practice. I do think that he expected that what one could express from a spiritual point of view one should be able to express on the mat technically. Aikido is fundamentally a marriage of the material and the spiritual. It is meant to be an art which unifies these two realms. If it is not, then we can with certainty say it isn't O-Sensei's Aikido. If this isn't something we are at least striving for, I don't think it's Aikido.

The folks who simply say they aren't interested in the spiritual side of the art, that the Founder isn't really relevant to their practice are not doing Aikido, in my opinion. The focus on mere effectiveness, the obsession with application and the almost complete lack of any thoughtfulness regarding the art simply isn't Aikido. Most of the time it's just bad jujutsu.

In contrast, the wonderful sentiments expressed by many people about peace, harmony, personal transformation etc. coupled with a sort of "it's all ok" sentiment regarding technique is equally missing the point. Beautiful ideas with absolutely no understanding of how those ideas are grounded in the physical realm of reality, with no ability to really connect the spiritual with ones waza in a way that actually is real is not Aikido either.

It is the great tragedy of Aikido that there are so few people who seem to be able to bring these elements together. All concepts in Aikido are grounded in waza. As you start to really get a handle on "aiki", you can see exactly how the Founder developed his ideas about how waza and the spiritual come together. It is then that one can start taking ideas from the spiritual realm and allowing them to inform our waza. This process is Aikido, as far as I can see.
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:14 AM   #33
Eric Winters
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

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Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
Not really and certainly not always. Right. Good luck to all your students, Dan. Just for informational purposes, tell us once again about where you learned to "imagine spirals", Dan, and where you became more than an "amateur" yourself in so few years. Give the money back. Let me re-state something I've said over the years: It's easy to fool beginners; it's hard to fool experts. On the other hand, if someone is too easily fooled, let them continue onward.

If you want to have a concrete debate, please take up the points I've tried to offer in the spirit of honest debate and study/discuss those; oblique and obscure shots at unnamed 'others' aren't a good way to start. A better place to start would be to tell us why qi/ki is different in Japan than in China and why people like Feng, CXW, and others don't really understand Asian martial-arts. Quotes or logic work much better than assertion and oblique character attacks (ad hominem).

Regards,

Mike Sigman
Wow, everything is not always about you dude.

Eric
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Old 08-16-2011, 09:13 AM   #34
DH
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

Hi Alec
You're welcome. I read your Bio. That's a good way to go. All I'm saying is to remain neutral and check the information and these pundits out. All of them. I recommend it all the time. The Hawaii group is a good example. I recommended all those people, instead of just sticking with me. Never settle for one view. If you think the subject is always about you it's rather revealing. When you live in a small world, you have a small view. We need a broad exposure for a more educated view. I've very much enjoyed moving outside of the Japanese arts and meeting with and testing with ICMA teachers as well. Nothing like real experts opinions of your skills instead angry debates with amateurs. In time I see an ever growing group of us 'Japanese style" artist doing the same as you have Alec.
I am also greatly enjoying making friends with so many senior Japanese style teachers and sharing. The internet...can work after all.

I've enjoyed the debates here and on other forums, and I am enjoying reading some of the newer translations of old works, as well reading the experts arguing over what is supposedly all settled and agreed upon. Both the Japanese and Chinese have translation issues but more importantly that even with native speakers within the arts... they argue over meaning and much more with skill in use. I've lost track how many times I have read books (by experts) and when they get to important concepts the caveat; "Many people think this meant that, but......." Then they outline a different view,
So it is truly comical watching people try to set themselves up as the Rosetta stone for all things internal or aiki, when the subject itself is debated by real experts. It's a fools game and I want no part of it. It's going to bite them in the ass...well...it already has, hasn't it? It's rather embarrassing to over-reach with their writing then be found out when people see and feel them, read reviews of their movement by real experts and get more knowledgeable about the topic only to discover things were not as "fixed" as they were told.

Here? It's smarter that people recognize their place and be respectful of other opinions, show what they know and more importantly what they can actually do and move from there. Maybe some have good information, maybe they don't. Maybe they have some power but really can't teach well, what have you. but the level of hubris and now outright animosity is amateur hour all the way. I'm guessing it comes from their bluff being called... an over played hand.

I also say go see and test the experts. See what you can do up against them. It's a good combination. At least it lets you see who is full of it...or full of themselves, and who has information that people can actually use instead of just talking a good game.

Netherlands
That seminar Date is fluid right now due to scheduling conflicts.
There probably will not be an announcement here. Less than a third of these get togethers get to be publicly announced, they are already full before a posting.
Stay in touch via PM or dojoseminars@gmail.com
All the best
Dan

Last edited by DH : 08-16-2011 at 09:28 AM.
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Old 08-16-2011, 09:44 AM   #35
DH
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

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Eric Winters; [ wrote: View Post
writing to Mike:
Wow, everything is not always about you dude.
Eric
Indeed...fixation!!
I had so many personalities and different debate topics from here and Ebudo and RSF running through my head in my two posts, including debates of the Taiji classics, the Kojiki, Kotodama, and Ueshiba's words, and then actual skills. Not the least of which was the OP's idea of "When is Aikido a Non aikido martial art".
I was thnking of how many angry posts by amateurs I have read, on the Net....
Then meeting with senior aikido teachers who later tell me ....This is Aikido!! And Daito ryu teachers saying "This is Daito ryu," and Master class Taiji teachers saying "this is silk reeling." The funniest being one Taiji teacher who said in broken English "No taiji?" and later when doing push hands, again a rather confused and sort of unbelieving repeat, with a tone like he would have used in English "Seriously dude, No taiji?"
Only to return to the Net and ........
More angry post by amateurs about what is or isn't internal or aiki.
Likewise, I have lost track of how many Aikido teachers have told me they have met Taiji teachers, Bagua or Daito ryu teachers, or some Karate teachers who were "Doing aiki.'
I suspect it's always been this way in Budo.
Oh well
Dan

Last edited by DH : 08-16-2011 at 09:58 AM.
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Old 08-16-2011, 10:26 AM   #36
DH
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

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Dan Harden wrote: View Post
Hi Alec
You're welcome. I read your Bio. That's a good way to go. All I'm saying is to remain neutral and check the information and these pundits out. All of them. I recommend it all the time. The Hawaii group is a good example. I recommended all those people, instead of just sticking with me. Never settle for one view. If you think the subject is always about you it's rather revealing. When you live in a small world, you have a small view. We need a broad exposure for a more educated view.
All the best
Dan
Gees, I forgot another premier group; George Ledyard's who are doing the same thing....gulp. Sorry George!!
Cheers
Dan
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Old 08-16-2011, 10:34 AM   #37
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

Sensei Ledyard writes...
Quote:
In contrast, the wonderful sentiments expressed by many people about peace, harmony, personal transformation etc. coupled with a sort of "it's all ok" sentiment regarding technique is equally missing the point. Beautiful ideas with absolutely no understanding of how those ideas are grounded in the physical realm of reality, with no ability to really connect the spiritual with ones waza in a way that actually is real is not Aikido either.

It is the great tragedy of Aikido that there are so few people who seem to be able to bring these elements together. All concepts in Aikido are grounded in waza. As you start to really get a handle on "aiki", you can see exactly how the Founder developed his ideas about how waza and the spiritual come together. It is then that one can start taking ideas from the spiritual realm and allowing them to inform our waza. This process is Aikido, as far as I can see.
Perfect...Thanks Sensei and in the spirit of Aikido I am going to steal this and quote you all over the darn place! I agree with the other posters here... I hope you (and Dan Harden too) write a book someday.

WIlliam Hazen
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Old 08-16-2011, 10:57 AM   #38
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

Quote:
Michael Greenberg wrote: View Post
Hello Sensei Ledyard! Kind of an aside, but I find that I always enjoy reading whatever you write. You have the voice of a scholar, and of a reflective person, apart from being knowledgeable about aikido.

This leads me to two questions: (1) Have you written any aikido books? [Or are there other writings that you have done on-line or elsewhere, whether or not about aikido?]; and (2) If you had to pick three foundational ideas to convey to others about your own understanding and practice of aikido, what in your view is most important?

Michael Greenberg
Thanks Michael for your kind words. No, I have not written any books... Folks have asked but I have to say after talking to Ellis and Bill Gleason about how they worked on their books, I am reluctant... Huge effort for not a lot of return, really. It is far easier to reach people through my videos and, at least in terms of talking about waza and principles, I think videos are more effective as an instructional device. Communicating ideas is another matter... but I have so far limited myself to writing on-line. If you search here on aikiweb and on Aikido Journal you'll find that I may have exceeded my son's time on World of Warcraft writing about Aikido.

I don't think I can really pin down a set of key ideas. I think it depends on whether we are talking about Aikido technique or Aikido as a transformational process, whether we are talking about Kihon waza or martial application.

I guess these days my main focus with people is to emphasize practice that should focus on relaxing the mind and the body. That's common to any aspect of Aikido one wants to talk about. The work I am doing with Dan Harden, Howard Popkin, and my own teachers is helping me understand a lot more about what "connection" really is. It is far more complex than anything I had ever had explained.

Anyway, relaxing is the big focus. The only way to really start relaxing is to stop being fearful. There are so many ways that we exhibit fear. As we start to transform fear into something more positive, it changes everything about how we do technique and how we relate to the world. There is huge power that comes with not being afraid all the time. But it is a constant process, I think. The easy part is not being afraid of being hurt, of being fearful of the physical contact. The harder part is not being afraid of really connecting with people. One has to allow oneself to be vulnerable to do that. There are all sorts of folks you can see who are really scary powerful physically but scared to death to be vulnerable and their interactions are all tinged wit fear, their martial power being used to cover that up. I think Aikido is supposed to help address that. Whether it does or not depend on how folks train. I am still trying to work out what I think the proper balance is.
- George

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Old 08-16-2011, 11:03 AM   #39
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

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Yeouch, come on Dan, please don't get too cynical! Even those who aren't totally "missing it" are going to suck at first, right?
The great thing about working with Dan is that he'll look at you and say "Wow! That really sucked..." Then he laughs and shows you how to do it better. He's one of the few people I know who can make you feel like a bozo and you enjoy it. It's a talent...

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Old 08-16-2011, 11:41 AM   #40
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

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The great thing about working with Dan is that he'll look at you and say "Wow! That really sucked..." Then he laughs and shows you how to do it better. He's one of the few people I know who can make you feel like a bozo and you enjoy it. It's a talent...
LOL! I've spent almost every moment of my years in training feeling like (as I described it back around 5th kyu) "a happy idiot"

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Old 08-16-2011, 12:06 PM   #41
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

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"a happy idiot"
Guilty, m'lud.

Most of my training time is filled with a sense of bafflement and wonder, coupled with amusement and amazement whenever I manage a technique which I cannot understand or follow mentally, but which I can physically perform.
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Old 08-18-2011, 04:55 PM   #42
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

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Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
Ueshiba was pretty darned irrascible, according to most of the records, so where the "spiritual" focus comes from, without caveat, is sort of dumbfounding.

Ueshiba's reputation was made on his martial prowess, not on his spirituality.

Mike Sigman
The part about his reputation - agreed.

However Aikido was "created" as a development of his prior martial arts experience, and his spirituality, I think it would be accepted that that was the case.

If you believe the story of O'Senseis "enlightenment" do you think this was "caused" by his prior martial arts, or his spirituality? I suggest more by his spirituality.

Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't this enlightenment key in his development of Aikido.

Therefore what was more important in the creation of Aikido? His spirituality? Or his prior martial arts experience?

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Old 08-18-2011, 05:22 PM   #43
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

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Sensei Ledyard writes...

Perfect...Thanks Sensei and in the spirit of Aikido I am going to steal this and quote you all over the darn place! I agree with the other posters here... I hope you (and Dan Harden too) write a book someday.

WIlliam Hazen
The only thing stopping Dan from writing a book is a technology short coming - they have not invented a spell checker efficient enough to handle the volume -

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Old 08-18-2011, 05:29 PM   #44
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

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Thanks Michael for your kind words. No, I have not written any books... Folks have asked but I have to say after talking to Ellis and Bill Gleason about how they worked on their books, I am reluctant... Huge effort for not a lot of return, really. It is far easier to reach people through my videos and, at least in terms of talking about waza and principles, I think videos are more effective as an instructional device. Communicating ideas is another matter... but I have so far limited myself to writing on-line. If you search here on aikiweb and on Aikido Journal you'll find that I may have exceeded my son's time on World of Warcraft writing about Aikido.

I don't think I can really pin down a set of key ideas. I think it depends on whether we are talking about Aikido technique or Aikido as a transformational process, whether we are talking about Kihon waza or martial application.

I guess these days my main focus with people is to emphasize practice that should focus on relaxing the mind and the body. That's common to any aspect of Aikido one wants to talk about. The work I am doing with Dan Harden, Howard Popkin, and my own teachers is helping me understand a lot more about what "connection" really is. It is far more complex than anything I had ever had explained.

Anyway, relaxing is the big focus. The only way to really start relaxing is to stop being fearful. There are so many ways that we exhibit fear. As we start to transform fear into something more positive, it changes everything about how we do technique and how we relate to the world. There is huge power that comes with not being afraid all the time. But it is a constant process, I think. The easy part is not being afraid of being hurt, of being fearful of the physical contact. The harder part is not being afraid of really connecting with people. One has to allow oneself to be vulnerable to do that. There are all sorts of folks you can see who are really scary powerful physically but scared to death to be vulnerable and their interactions are all tinged wit fear, their martial power being used to cover that up. I think Aikido is supposed to help address that. Whether it does or not depend on how folks train. I am still trying to work out what I think the proper balance is.
- George
The only true to way to not be afraid is to be absolutely insane - I have been working on that for a while - just ask those that know me

Greg
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Old 08-18-2011, 05:33 PM   #45
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
The great thing about working with Dan is that he'll look at you and say "Wow! That really sucked..." Then he laughs and shows you how to do it better. He's one of the few people I know who can make you feel like a bozo and you enjoy it. It's a talent...
Yes, it is a talent and we actually thank the SOB for it and then buy him a drink - for an insight reference, please look at my post that mentions insanity

Greg
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Old 11-12-2011, 11:25 AM   #46
Ken McGrew
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

Sense,

It is difficult to reconcile this quote, which I agree with entirely, with your praise of Dan who is opposed to everything you say below.

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I think these discussions always get problematical because, as O-Sensei was frequently quoted as saying, "no one is doing my Aikido." Notice he didn't say, "No one is doing my Aikido any more" or "No one after 1942 is doing my Aikido."

For the Founder, there simply was no distinction between the various elements of his practice. Meaning his waza, his spiritual beliefs, his misogi training, even his farming, was all Aikido. The thirties deshi, especially his nephew Inoue sensei, were technically the closest in terms of waza but other than Inoue. none of them seemed the least interested in his spiritual practices, at least the ones who are famous because they started their own styles (Shioda, Tomiki, Mochizuki). Shirata Sensei was the only one of the thirties deshi of any great repute who stayed with the Aikikai.

I have mentioned before a conversation I had with Saotome Sensei and Stan Pranin about which of O-Sensei's students tried hardest to understand Aikido the way the Founder understood it. The answer was Hikitsuchi, Abe, and Sunadomari. Notice that none of these are early thirties deshi.

It is clear that the early thirties deshi did Daito Ryu. As has been discussed at length elsewhere, they did various forms of "internal power" development exercises that largely seemed to drop out of Aikido after the war. But I think it would be a huge mistake to say that their Aikido was any closer to O-Sensei's Aikido than the post war folks. From the standpoint of the Founder, I think their Aikido was just as out of balance as much of what came later.

In addition to the three teachers I mentioned who pursued their Aikido as a balanced technical / spiritual practice, there were many students of the Founder who incorporated aspects of his practice into their own. Some studied kototama, some tried to get outside martial arts experience (as the Founder had), some, like my own teacher, Saotome Sensei, tried very hard to understand what the Founder was talking about when he taught as obscure as it was, and then translate it into ideas that would be meaningful to modern Japanese, and later American practitioners.

When you hear that O-Sensei yelled at people for not doping technique "right" are we talking about particular stylistic details not being correct? Or are we talking about the difference between what works and what doesn't? My take on O-Sensei was that as he developed his Aikido, he progressively became less and less concerned with exactly how one did a given technique and more and more with whether it embodied the proper principles.

I have direct experience of this myself with my own teacher. While students focus on how they think Sensei did such and such a sword form on his video, my experience is that he cares not one whit that my form is a bit different than his. As long as it embodies the principles he was striving to teach via the form, he isn't that concerned with the actual form itself, in fact he often has trouble remembering the exact forms, even though he made them up.

It was the students of the Founder who were so concerned with form, and naturally so. They had to distill the massive amount of teaching they received from the Founder into something they could digest themselves and then in turn, pass on to another generation of students. I see no evidence that O-Sensei was the least interested in "form" as he developed his art. Saito Sensei was really the last deshi to get a lot of detailed technical training because it was with Saito that O-Sensei worked out what would become the foundations of post war Aikido.

Whether you go back to the thirties or read the accounts of the post war deshi, it is clear that what O-Sensei thought was important about Aikido was its balance between the spiritual and the technical. When he taught, he talked about spiritual principles and then demonstrated how those principles were embodied in technique. That's just a fact. It is also a fact that the majority of his students simply couldn't go there with him.

I think it has always been the case the Aikido was about finding your own Aikido. O-Sensei presented his ideas about what that might be but never developed any systematic method for passing it on. I still believe that, in the end, the one student whose Aikido was probably the closest to that of the Founder, both technically and philosophically was Inoue Sensei, who had very little following in Japan and almost none overseas.

To the extent that one seeks "O-Sensei's Aikido" it is rather like the research required to reconstruct the original texts of Buddhism. The original texts in Sanskrit are lost, destroyed by the Islamic invaders of Northern India. To get an idea of what was in the originals, one has to look at the Pali, the Chinese and the Tibetan texts and compare them. Anything that appears in all three versions is assumed to have been in the original.

So we can look at various teachers from different time periods and derive pieces of the Founder's Aikido. But no one, whether it's pre-war or post-war, was either technically or spiritually doing exactly what the Founder had done. That's a fact. We can get over it and move on with our Aikido or we can keep trying to set up our own "Jurassic Park" of Aikido using various strands of Aikido DNA left behind in other practitioners.

It's not O-Sensei's Aikido that we are striving for. It's our own Aikido that perhaps O-Sensei might have recognized and hopefully, approved of. No one duplicated his Aikido when he was alive and they could train with him on a daily level. There is zero chance we can duplicate it for ourselves. But I do think he had an intention about what the art should be as a transformative practice. I do think that he expected that what one could express from a spiritual point of view one should be able to express on the mat technically. Aikido is fundamentally a marriage of the material and the spiritual. It is meant to be an art which unifies these two realms. If it is not, then we can with certainty say it isn't O-Sensei's Aikido. If this isn't something we are at least striving for, I don't think it's Aikido.

The folks who simply say they aren't interested in the spiritual side of the art, that the Founder isn't really relevant to their practice are not doing Aikido, in my opinion. The focus on mere effectiveness, the obsession with application and the almost complete lack of any thoughtfulness regarding the art simply isn't Aikido. Most of the time it's just bad jujutsu.

In contrast, the wonderful sentiments expressed by many people about peace, harmony, personal transformation etc. coupled with a sort of "it's all ok" sentiment regarding technique is equally missing the point. Beautiful ideas with absolutely no understanding of how those ideas are grounded in the physical realm of reality, with no ability to really connect the spiritual with ones waza in a way that actually is real is not Aikido either.

It is the great tragedy of Aikido that there are so few people who seem to be able to bring these elements together. All concepts in Aikido are grounded in waza. As you start to really get a handle on "aiki", you can see exactly how the Founder developed his ideas about how waza and the spiritual come together. It is then that one can start taking ideas from the spiritual realm and allowing them to inform our waza. This process is Aikido, as far as I can see.
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Old 11-12-2011, 11:26 AM   #47
Ken McGrew
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

Here he is undermining what you have stated.
Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
Hi Alec,
With the Chinese or Japanese writings it is important to realize that the real experts debate and argue over the meaning of them. When you look at the Japanese classics you have just as much debate as the Chinese and this is evident in Kotodama and the Kojiki. It is probably wise to spend the time to research and talk with more knowledgeable people than consulting with and offering false expertise to amateur nobodies, or to get too involved debating with newbies, or arguing physics models with people with little skill as some sort of verification , validation or 'imagining" that it is leading to some sort of immutable and final understanding.
That is as stupid and as ignorant, as not reading them at all.

The people who claim to understand Ueshiba's spirituality have not done so in any methodology that is vetted by a peer review. Nor have those who claim a physical expertise been able to match his examples in an undisputed fashion. Mind/body is inexorably intertwined, but not in the ways many parties would agree to. Therefore, I am disinclined to give too much credence to either group. It's more data, and that is about as far as it will ever go. Some things are more obvious than others;
Young turks using muscle and cranking are clearly missing it,
So are airy fairies spinning around the room afraid to even use their arms lest they power up..

Another interesting look at this loss of understanding- which the founder understood how to fix -is in this translation
"In order to achieve the mysterious workings of ki based upon intent, first realize the appearance of the foundation that is the ki connection (ki musubi) between the left side of the physical body grounded in the martial and the right that receives the universe. If you can achieve this connection between the left and the right then you will be able to move with complete freedom."

There is far too much hubris and self imposed and unrecognized "expertise" of a complicated topic going on here. Moreover the people presenting are not offering an intellectually honest debate where they at least make it known that the tenants of some of their own arguments are debated within a given discipline. Instead they present as if it is all agreed upon. I will leave it up to the individual to determine if this is the result of ignorance, or arrogance, or both.

"In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king."

I am an advocate for research, but in budo at the end of the day, it is as it always was. The people who claim a deeper understanding needed to demonstrate it with competency up against those who actually do posses it. Everything is up for grabs as total BS, to partial understanding, on to a well played smoke screen.
Example:
Where are the holes in Mr A's game?
Mr. B's?
Most do not posses the competency to know the difference and will not know until later or maybe never at all. It's always been that way...always, even under master class teachers.

Non Aikido and Aikido.
With the current discussion of Ueshiba we have an interesting mix:
People claiming to have trained with him everyday who did not
People claiming they understood him when nothing they have written would support that
People claiming they understand him and nothing they physically can do would support that
People who claim they understand his spiritual leanings and how it produced power, yet no one else who did just that produced the same power
And of late we have some serious translation issues, which demonstrate that ...surprise, surprise...people outside of aikido more and more are the ones who understand many of the principles he was talking about after all. And more and more, we are seeing it was in fact not code, but actually known principles for budo movement that the aikido translaters didn't have a clue about.

There was no clear model set forth by the founder that all agree to. Only tid bits and hints that remain open for debate. So When is Non aikido....aikido? Maybe when non aikido people can understand many of the principles the inventor of the art actually meant when he spoke and can explain it and demonstrate power and aiki and teach it to the arts teachers...or maybe not.
Good luck in your training
Dan
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Old 11-12-2011, 05:28 PM   #48
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

Ken, it's clear that Dan's gotten up your nose, but would you drop it? Screw Dan. Who's he? Some nobody with a low-level degree in Aikido and a bunch of opinions.

You don't have a problem with Dan. You have a problem with all the Aikidoka, some very senior, some less so, who have taken up what Dan has to offer and made it a problem in the Aikido world. If it weren't for us he'd still be a voice crying in the wilderness.

He's a tar baby. Everyone who's taken a swing at him ends up not only stuck hard, but getting tar on everybody around them. Very annoying to those who wish to keep their hakama clean, I understand that.

Keep clear of him--and the rest of us with tar on our gis--or engage, and risk the tar. Battle at a distance is not likely to get you anywhere.

[Posting under the influence of Sam Adam's Double Bock today. Highly recommended as a cure for bland and information-heavy posts.]
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Old 11-12-2011, 06:44 PM   #49
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

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Yannis Mousoulis wrote: View Post
The way i see it after o'sensei died some of his close students chopped aikido in piecies each claiming his own style rather than concentrating on creating a next generation of capable aikidoka of high level.They considered o'sensei a...god, they spread around incredible stories of his exploits and his "magical"powers and when the time came they served their ego instead of the art, giving priority on who is affiliated with whom, who is flying under whose wing, and o'sensei's vision of uniting the world under aikido became an echo in the distance.When aikido came to the west it was chopped to even more pieces with instructors who teached selectively bits and parts of aikido according to their...taste.So there goes weapons training(suburi, kata ,kumi-tachi, kumi-jo e.t.c), there goes advanced tai-jutsu such as ganseki otoshi or gaeshi waza,there goes fast, effective technique not to mention iai-do as a suplemental training.Ki, kokyu and other important esoteric elements were either not mentioned at all or were twisted into a new age type of religion with very few exceptions.And then came that tall, american guy with his pony-tail and at last we had a healthy image of real and effective aikido through his teachings and, why not, through his movies.As he insisted that there is only one aikido the majoriy of the aikido world found him not good enough because he was too...effective.Once again people remembered o'sensei's "soft" legacy, forgetting of course that o'sensei had saved his own life many times using aikido back in the day before it got stripped of its fundamental parts of its training menu in favour of a ballet-like practice.Aikido's roots are in daito-ryu, o'sensei didn't invent the aikido techniques.He created a modern way of teaching a true martial art in a world where the classic bushi and the samurai warrior had become extinct.So there is only one aikido, there can be no other "style".All we have to do is practice it.That is i think the "secret" of o'sensei's abilities and that is the legacy he left behind.And if at a very advanced level one wants to be creative, as long as it is within aikido's basic principles it is aikido...
Dear Yannis,
I think you are incorrect when you state that weapons, iaido/batto ho , kokyu etc , meditation techniques have been [in your opinion] neglected.Perhaps this is the case in some places?I can assure you that we here in the U.K ,
continue the study of such disciplines .Of course not everyone in our group wants to practice these [its not mandatory-personal choice ] but we do have many students who indeed do so .I rarely do Za Zen since my knees are a bit rusty.Cheers, Joe.
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Old 11-12-2011, 07:02 PM   #50
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Re: When is Aikido a Non-Aikido martial art?

Quote:
Joe Curran wrote: View Post
Dear Yannis,
I think you are incorrect when you state that weapons, iaido/batto ho , kokyu etc , meditation techniques have been [in your opinion] neglected.Perhaps this is the case in some places?I can assure you that we here in the U.K ,
continue the study of such disciplines .Of course not everyone in our group wants to practice these [its not mandatory-personal choice ] but we do have many students who indeed do so .I rarely do Za Zen since my knees are a bit rusty.Cheers, Joe.
Dear Yannis,
I apologise for my comments.I reread the thread and noticed I had given you the same answer/info before.Thanks, Joe.
Regarding whether we are doing O Senseis Aikido .The answer hhas to be no.Each of us can only do our OWN aikido.Since we are each unique individuals it stands to reason we cannot have the identical physical/mental/spiritual make up.We are not clones of anybody.So why be a clone of any teacher?As long as we try and utilise the elements inherent in Aikido to the best of our ability, each person should gain from Aikido training.For me personally I prefer to train in BIG aikido.So much more rewarding than simply spending time in a dojo.
Cheers, Joe
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