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Old 11-13-2011, 06:23 AM   #1
Mary Eastland
 
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why do people search outside Aikido for IS?

There seems to be a crisis on some people's path that they they are trying to fix. Its seems like some people having been training for a long time and have not grown strong. That must be disconcerting and discouraging. Maybe it is what causes the level of nastiness that seems to rise up on these threads. Are you angry because your Aikido is lacking something? Are you feeling cheated?

When the spiritual part of Aikido is missed, could it be that the internal part is missed also. Maybe there is more connection than you have been led to believe.

Every one of these threads turns into a discussion about Dan (no disrespect intended just an observation). I hear that Dan understands internal strength and can convey it. I am sure he can.

Does that make it okay for you (not you, Dan, others that speak for you) to disparage others' ways? With great strength comes great responsibility. Internal practice could cause internal inspection and responsibility for one's own thoughts and process.

Maybe as individuals you all think that you are expressing yourselves. But to me it comes across on here as lemmings repeating doctrine.

One of the reasons I am not interested in what Dan has to offer is because of how some people that train with him talk to others on here. Why would anyone want that? Real internal strength helps us think for ourselves. It helps us develop compassion and appreciation of diversity.

Ron and I trained with a man who was very strong. He taught us well. Now we are on our own path.

Our Path involves Ki development, Aikido waza and internal responsibility. We talk about it all the time on here. Yet when we have a seminar not one person from the Aikido world other than our own students come. And then on here we are told we don't know what we are talking about. Only Mike and Dan have the "goods". How could anyone possibly know because none has come to our dojo to find out.

I not writing for sympathy or empathy. I really want to know. Please try not to write back if you have nasty things to say. Let's discuss these ideas without being mean.

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Old 11-13-2011, 08:09 AM   #2
Lee Salzman
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

Mary, it is absolutely fantastic that you found a clear path towards your ultimate development and have stuck with it! Congratulations!

Now, some of us have not been quite so lucky. I trained in various ASU clubs. By all means, the instructors were generally great people, and some of them were even quite skilled in some inarticulable way. But generally even amongst the ones that impressed me with what they can do, they could not concisely pass on what made them so skilled to others.

So, I went out and explored, in part due to discussions here that happened to resonate with my own personal disillusionment. That exploration happened both within my organization, amongst recommendations here, and other things totally off the map. Lo and behold, I found some amazing things, they widened my conception of what I was trying to achieve in my training beyond what I believed was even possible through training.

And you know what? Those things did not come from inside aikido or the holy trinity of Mike, Akuzawa, or Dan. All the same, both Akuzawa and Dan impressed the hell out of me, and Dan in particular probably remains one of the biggest influences on my current thoughts, despite only a few opportunities to train with him as of yet, because of the clarity and conciseness of his teaching relative to what I had encountered within my aikido career. And you know what else? Dan is not the biggest influence or most impressive teacher I have seen in my perhaps admittedly short decade-long martial career, as I alluded. But had I not trained with Dan, I would not have seen the significance of what I was able to discover elsewhere for what it is.

But there is something really important Dan hammered into me, not through repetition, but through poignancy of the moment in which it was discussed. And this was later tattooed deep in my brain by current teacher, by his example and by the philosophical underpinnings of what he was teaching, and why I try to avoid talking about him. On Dan's part it was, "Don't tell, show." On my teacher's part, it was simply that our abilities stand on their own, and it doesn't really matter who shows us what or where it came from, because we're not in this for lineage or obeisance, we are in this for ability, for performance. Our goal in our training is not blind allegiance to tools because some guy said so, but having the ability to analyze our own performance, diagnose problems, and fix them.

Talking about our teachers, Dan or otherwise, is pointless, and not just pointless, it is dumb, it can achieve nothing. We can either understand it well enough that we can describe our own understanding, or we're not contributing anything to the pool of understanding that wasn't already there from someone else. So when I see all these people talking about what their teacher can or can't do in the third person, I feel an empathic embarrassment, because I think our teachers would much rather be proud of our ability, rather than us proud of theirs. The kool-aid aspect of it disturbs me as much as anyone else.

But on the other hand, another poignant thing my teacher said to me in conversation (yes, I know, the irony is burning me to a crisp right now), was that there is no use in proving ourselves right. We should be doing everything we can to prove ourselves wrong, that's the point of training. Except, in this case, it is not a euphemism, it defined every aspect of my training for top to bottom. Every single tool of the training was defined to make me fail, so that I could figure out how not to fail. And when I have not been failing, I have been utterly stagnating.

To have have my failings pointed out all the time, so definitively, is a wondrous gift, and it just wasn't there in aikido. Had I just stuck to aikido, I would have probably been mildly convinced that I just had to keep trucking along with same old-same old, waiting for some elusive, subconscious spark of transformation to hit. I would have believed that the problem was not the way I was training, that there was just something wrong with me. But I much prefer being shown my failings on a regular basis, so that I can work through the process of transformation gradually and methodically, rather than stagnation.

But hey, if you think you've got everything so figured out that you no longer need to test the boundaries of what you know and explore new possibilities, more power to you! If only we all could live with such certainty.
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Old 11-13-2011, 08:54 AM   #3
hughrbeyer
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

At least in my little part of the world, I don't think anyone thought something was missing from their Aikido. I don't think anyone was looking outside the Aikido world because they were dissatisfied, tho people did train outside of Aikido to broaden their knowledge as martial artists.

Certainly I spent a long time bouncing from dojo to dojo, dissatisfied with what I found. But then I found my current dojo and not only did Sensei knock my socks off, but all his students did too. I settled in there and was happy. Sensei has always been on a search for ways to improve his Aikido and is always mixing it up, but except in that general sense there was no feeling that we were missing something.

Then some guy came to one of my teacher's senior students and said, I met this amazing guy at a Tai Chi seminar, you should come train with him. And that student told my teacher the same thing. And my teacher told the rest of us.

So it was a recognition of something valuable that we wanted once we saw it, rather than a dissatisfaction with our existing practice that motivated pursuing the aiki training.

As for the language people use on the forum--well, this is a discussion forum. People do cross the line, sometimes. But think about it--if someone points out a flaw in your technique, are you insulted, or do you consider whether they're right? Howabout online? Are you going to refuse to listen because you don't like the way it's phrased? Sometimes truth hurts. Sometimes people are just being jerks. Sometimes the jerks are telling truths you need to listen to. What do you care more about, your art or your ego?

You may decide life is too short to deal with jerks, which is fine. But as Jesus said, the jerks will always be with you. Well, maybe not, but I think it was something like that. They're not going away no matter how often their failings are pointed out. So my take is that life is too short to fix the jerks. Take what they have to offer, enjoy their tirades, tolerate their failings. Walk away from the rest.
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Old 11-13-2011, 09:18 AM   #4
Janet Rosen
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

Mary, I don't think searching for excellence is a crisis. There are in aikido as in painting, cooking, all firms of human endeavor, different types of people:
There are people who find a the right teacher for them and never feel an urge to explore outside that home dojo - they love to dig in deeper and deeper within the teaching that nourishes them. There are people who find the right teacher for them, but still have a drive to explore the related tangents that they become aware of, some of which may meaningfully inform what they do at home, some of which may be blind alleys, some may just be pleasant diversions.

I started training in 1996 and as soon as I joined aikido-L the predecessor to Aikiweb I wanted to explore! So many different people doing so many things under the umbrella of aikido! It's like when I first went to studio art school: how could I know I wanted to do printmaking if I didn't also try drawing, painting and sculpture?
What I found is that there are many different definitions of what cobstitutes Good Aikido depending on ones goals, priorities, personality type, etc. I also found that whether one is using Tohei's ki exercises or Yoshinkan's curriculum or whatever other model or "form" there is no guarantee that the individual teacher is able to do it or to transmit it. So when somebody tells me they are using a particular methodology (as in we do Ki exercises) it is helpful insofar as if we meet I know what training paradigm to expect but not insofar as whether we are defining or using terms Jo mean the same somatic experience.
Why don't people visit you? Well, why should we unless we happen to be passing thru? Have you ever come out to public seminars to play with others? That's how people meet and find likeminded friends. So when I travel there are people who I try to visit along the way because we've played together and I know I will learn and have fun if I visit. So if I were ever in your neck of the woods, Mary, I'd be happy to visit just as I've done so many dojos around this country over the years.

there are not that many people Ive met who can actually DO consistently the devastatingly soft but irresistible stuff I consider real aikido. I will continue to happily explore those fields wherever they grow as long as I can just as I continue to explore in art and other areas of my life. It's who and how I am.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 11-13-2011, 09:56 AM   #5
gregstec
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
There seems to be a crisis on some people's path that they they are trying to fix. Its seems like some people having been training for a long time and have not grown strong. That must be disconcerting and discouraging. Maybe it is what causes the level of nastiness that seems to rise up on these threads. Are you angry because your Aikido is lacking something? Are you feeling cheated?

When the spiritual part of Aikido is missed, could it be that the internal part is missed also. Maybe there is more connection than you have been led to believe.

Every one of these threads turns into a discussion about Dan (no disrespect intended just an observation). I hear that Dan understands internal strength and can convey it. I am sure he can.

Does that make it okay for you (not you, Dan, others that speak for you) to disparage others' ways? With great strength comes great responsibility. Internal practice could cause internal inspection and responsibility for one's own thoughts and process.

Maybe as individuals you all think that you are expressing yourselves. But to me it comes across on here as lemmings repeating doctrine.

One of the reasons I am not interested in what Dan has to offer is because of how some people that train with him talk to others on here. Why would anyone want that? Real internal strength helps us think for ourselves. It helps us develop compassion and appreciation of diversity.

Ron and I trained with a man who was very strong. He taught us well. Now we are on our own path.

Our Path involves Ki development, Aikido waza and internal responsibility. We talk about it all the time on here. Yet when we have a seminar not one person from the Aikido world other than our own students come. And then on here we are told we don't know what we are talking about. Only Mike and Dan have the "goods". How could anyone possibly know because none has come to our dojo to find out.

I not writing for sympathy or empathy. I really want to know. Please try not to write back if you have nasty things to say. Let's discuss these ideas without being mean.
Hello Mary,

Lee brings up some very good and interesting points. First, I would just like to say that even though it may appear some of us are talking for Dan at times, that is really not the case - we are speaking for ourselves, and since we train with Dan, we generally have a like mind on the issues of IS so it appears we are saying the same thing. I also would like to say that for the most part, I do not think we disparage other ways (at least I try not to) but we do try to explain our points of view in a strong way sometimes, and some of us may not be as tactful as we could be at times doing that However, we all mean well and try to avoid confrontation when possible - but sometimes when pushed, we will push back - after all, we are martial artist you know, and we will defend when attack I know that can get ugly at times, and believe me, I do not like it as much as you and try to avoid it when I can, unfortunately, you can get sucked into it though.

Anyway, with that said, back to your questions. As Lee said, it is great that you have identified your path and are satisfied with the vehicle you have chosen to travel down that path - most people truly envy you because they are not that fortunate and are still looking for that special thing that will do the same for them.

Our backgrounds are very similar (Tohei) and I have had some private PMs with Ron on a couple topics and I am with him on his views and approach to most things. However, the thing that got me still looking was that I kept running across folks that said they had IS but really did not have anything special, so I kept looking. Started Daitoryu with Howard Popkins and some more things started to click with IS than I ever experienced in any Aikido dojo - and then I hooked up with Dan where even more things opened up. Sorry, I don't want this appear as a Dan commercial, but it is hard to talk about IS today and not mentioned him.

Now here is the part that I think will surprise a lot people - Dan's training is NOT all about the hard rock strong physical stuff that it appears to come across as - it is soft and mostly mental. And this is where I think the connection comes in that can relate to your internal training. Most folks think Dan does not believe in ki and does not teach it - WRONG! He just does not talk much about it in open forums because of the obvious potential to get out of hand

IMO, this is where his stuff has a true advantage to those that have a strong belief in ki and a coordinated mind and body - it gives you a head start in leaning more about how to use your control of ki to do more with your body, which will facilitate enhancement of any body movement within or outside of martial arts. Tohei's stuff provides a good foundation to build on but there is much more that can be added to that, and that is where Dan and others like him can come in.

As to why folks don't seek out you and Ron for your IS? Well, IMO, most folks look at you as just another Ki Society shop, and unfortunately, the Ki groups have gotten a bad reputation over the years, some deserve it and some don't. FWIW, I always recommend someone going to a Ki Society dojo to get started with mind and body coordination (which is the absolutely first step to IS) if they can not get to a Dan or Howard Popkin seminar - of course I tell them to make sure it is connected with an old well established Ki organization like the NJ Ki group or the VA Ki group - or if they want, they can come see me for a start (commercial disclaimer: I do NOT charge for training )

Well, I hope I did not insult in any manner and that you may find what I had to say useful. I truly wish both you Ron continued success in your endeavors.

Greg
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Old 11-13-2011, 09:56 AM   #6
Nicholas Eschenbruch
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Re: why do people look outside Aikido for IS?

Hi Mary,

Just went running in the blackforest hills, blazing yelow giving way to more subtle red and brown, a hint of autumn mist, thinking of your seasonal posts.

I do not mean to be brusque but people look outside because they cannot find everything they are looking for inside - now there are so many different reasons people do aikido that what exactly their reasons are will be very individiual. And aikido being such a varied discipline in the first place, there we go...

I am not angry; I do consider my practice "deficient" in the one sense that I strive for excellence in all ways that are open for me. In another sense, it is not deficient at all, it is just there.

There were some things about soft power that I always believed and was told were part of aikido, but those aspects which my teachers at the time had (and they did have some) they could or would not explain well. Dan and Mike cannot only explain, but also display broader, deeper and more nuanced skills in that area, that's why I find their work fascinating and do it in my own limited way. In a similar vein, I go to meditation retreats, and so on.

People in passionate search processes in their diciplines - as Janet points out - go through "crises" (in the original sense: urgent decisions...) all the time. I do. I consider it part if the creative process. There is not something ideal that needs to be fixed. Of course, I guess there are learning types who go through a lot of drama in their search for exellence, others who develop steadily and quietly, and others again of whom the drama gets the better and the excellence falls by the wayside. I disagree with the missionary streak of some IS posters, but hey, they love what they have found - I wish there was such passion in more aikidoka!

Its wonderful that you have found that you want to do. I believe there are lots of dojos like the one you have, where people are happy with what they do. I regularly train with people who would have a lot to say but think aikiweb is just too negative. I guess that's the internet. Also, disclosure about personal transformation is a very private thing that tends to sound tacky when put in writing, and is not for everybody's eyes anyway, so discussions about techniques and methods are a lot easier.

That you perceive "us" as lemmings I find highly amusing. I have met few networks of people that are as independent minded as people who go to Dan's course, and few teachers who are so open to being challenged in whatever way. I mean, lemmings dont go outside their dojos and organisations, risk the criticism of their teachers and students, and travel large distances to meet challenging teachers without really knowing what they are in for??

Finally, you have actually been on my list of dojos I would like to visit on a yet imaginary "New England Aikio trip" - I hope I will be welcome.
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Old 11-13-2011, 10:42 AM   #7
Gary David
 
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
There seems to be a crisis on some people's path that they they are trying to fix. Its seems like some people having been training for a long time and have not grown strong. That must be disconcerting and discouraging. Maybe it is what causes the level of nastiness that seems to rise up on these threads. Are you angry because your Aikido is lacking something? Are you feeling cheated?
Mary I am not in crisis, not disconcerted or discouraged, nor angry that my Aikido is lacking something, but it does. It lacks development to the highest level that I as an individual can achieve. This is for many reasons, some physical (i.e., my body just can move that way, couldn't when I was 20 either), some perception....limits on what I can understand...the biggest one now being age....and I accept these limits and work within them. These are all limits I control. What gives me pause are the external limits, these being what is actually allowed to be passed on to us and what our teachers actual can display and teach. I have been told by a number of folks that limits exist. We are likely getting Aikido 101A/B and maybe some to Aikido 201A/B....no one is getting Aikido 301A/B or 401A/B and not the graduate work for sure. If you want you have to go find it. I don't feel most of the imported teachers here are much beyond 301. Please don't take this as rap on these individuals as I know many of them, like them with only a few have the kind of personifies that make them hard to like. As I noted on another thread I have be told by some one outside of Aikido that at some point if you continue to seek you will reach the level were your teacher can no longer provide growth and you will need to move on if you want to continue.

Quote:
When the spiritual part of Aikido is missed, could it be that the internal part is missed also. Maybe there is more connection than you have been led to believe.
Aikido is not my spiritual path, it is rather another set of tools in my tool kit. As such I want these tools to be effect and available when needed. This does not mean I am not spiritual.

Quote:
Does that make it okay for you (not you, Dan, others that speak for you) to disparage others' ways? With great strength comes great responsibility. Internal practice could cause internal inspection and responsibility for one's own thoughts and process.
Again not everyone sees Aikido as a spiritual path, have different priorities and approaches. Everyone should have an internal practice for self-inspection and take greater responsibility when dealing with others. It seems to me that you yourself can be quite adamant about your positions at times. I do have some envy of where you live....would love to see the Berkshires.

Quote:
Maybe as individuals you all think that you are expressing yourselves. But to me it comes across on here as lemmings repeating doctrine.
Actually I am no one's mouth piece though I have been called a useful idiot for speaking up for Dan in the past. I am no one's lap dog to jump down an defend or any of the other things that might imply that one is tied thoughtlessly to someone or some approach. I have been called a "crazy Uncle" the kind everyone likes...and mostly because I do speak up in a local Aikido dojo setting that I have been connected to since the 70's......just not much in this forum.

Quote:
One of the reasons I am not interested in what Dan has to offer is because of how some people that train with him talk to others on here. Why would anyone want that? Real internal strength helps us think for ourselves. It helps us develop compassion and appreciation of diversity.
All the folks I know that have trained in his workshops are for the most part good folks and are thinking for themselves, they would have to be to go some of the distances they travel to explore what Dan is offering. Some of the discussion here on this forum are shaped to drive people into groups...the for and the against when all most folks want who go to Dan's workshops are insights and skills that are not being offered to them, that can not or will not be offered through their current teachers or organizations. Be really clear that Dan is not offering a new martial art or trying to replace Aikido with what he offers. What Dan does augments the technical skill developed through Aikido waza

Quote:
Our Path involves Ki development, Aikido waza and internal responsibility. We talk about it all the time on here. Yet when we have a seminar not one person from the Aikido world other than our own students come. And then on here we are told we don't know what we are talking about. Only Mike and Dan have the "goods". How could anyone possibly know because none has come to our dojo to find out.
Why folks don't come I can't answer, only you can analyze that. Maybe you need to get out more. For me I would drop by just to check you folks out if I didn't live 3,000 miles away.

Quote:
I not writing for sympathy or empathy. I really want to know. Please try not to write back if you have nasty things to say. Let's discuss these ideas without being mean.
Not sure any of what I have said helps.....just saying

Gary
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Old 11-13-2011, 12:13 PM   #8
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

Thank you all for you responses. My question was not meant to imply that you should not go outside aikido...it really was to ask why?

And my lemmings comment was really meant as how it seems to me...that doesn't mean that is the way it is. I got a lot our of your posts. Thanks again.

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Old 11-13-2011, 03:40 PM   #9
hughrbeyer
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

If I understand Mary's OP correctly, you're really trying to understand the inner experience that leads someone to look for this kind of training.

Y'know, people say it takes years of all these solo exercises to really develop this stuff and I'm sure that's true. But it doesn't take years to start to see the benefits. Some pictures:

Your teacher says, do this exercise. You do it. Interesting exercise, extending the spine up and down simultaneously, but pretty esoteric. But your teacher says it's important so you practice it every day .

Then a few weeks later, your teacher says, "Remember that exercise? When uke attacks you, do it. Then do the technique."

This is pretty silly. Extending the spine doesn't have anything to do with handling an attack. It doesn't even counter the power uke is putting into the attack. But you do it anyway.

And uke's on the mat.

What? But I didn't do anything!

Or:

Katate dori. You're practicing the IS skills.

"You're pushing," says your teacher.

Damn. Drop tension, drop resistance.

"You're still pushing."

Damn again. Where's the tension? There it is. Drop it, let it go.

"Now you're pushing the other way. Relax."

I am relaxed, already! There, let that piece of tension. Connect this to that. Hey, I'm moving naturally--all that tension I didn't know was there is gone. And my teacher is flying across the room.

Huh? But I didn't do anything!
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Old 11-13-2011, 04:27 PM   #10
Eric in Denver
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

Quote:
Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
If I understand Mary's OP correctly, you're really trying to understand the inner experience that leads someone to look for this kind of training.

Y'know, people say it takes years of all these solo exercises to really develop this stuff and I'm sure that's true. But it doesn't take years to start to see the benefits. Some pictures:

Your teacher says, do this exercise. You do it. Interesting exercise, extending the spine up and down simultaneously, but pretty esoteric. But your teacher says it's important so you practice it every day .

Then a few weeks later, your teacher says, "Remember that exercise? When uke attacks you, do it. Then do the technique."

This is pretty silly. Extending the spine doesn't have anything to do with handling an attack. It doesn't even counter the power uke is putting into the attack. But you do it anyway.

And uke's on the mat.

What? But I didn't do anything!

Or:

Katate dori. You're practicing the IS skills.

"You're pushing," says your teacher.

Damn. Drop tension, drop resistance.

"You're still pushing."

Damn again. Where's the tension? There it is. Drop it, let it go.

"Now you're pushing the other way. Relax."

I am relaxed, already! There, let that piece of tension. Connect this to that. Hey, I'm moving naturally--all that tension I didn't know was there is gone. And my teacher is flying across the room.

Huh? But I didn't do anything!
I've not practiced with Dan, and don't know if I ever will, but this narrative is exactly why I started aikido, why I have continued with it, and why I have looked outside of the aikido tradition I was "raised" in.

From my first shihonage, the whole thing has felt like one big puzzle. And every time I get an answer, then I find out there are a whole different set of questions, and then when I get a grip on those, another whole set comes to light. . . trying to get a grip on the Internal Stuff has been about the biggest puzzle I have encountered.

I honestly don't understand why someone would want to stay in just one dojo. Why wouldn't you want to practice with someone that might be able to show you something that is completely different?
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Old 11-13-2011, 06:05 PM   #11
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

Hello,

I have stayed out of the other threads, mainly because I would be repeating what others have already stated. I am responding here because I have a different view of the so-called ‘crisis' you talk about. If you will bear with me, I have made a few comments, below, marked PAG.

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
There seems to be a crisis on some people's path that they they are trying to fix. It seems like some people having been training for a long time and have not grown strong. That must be disconcerting and discouraging. Maybe it is what causes the level of nastiness that seems to rise up on these threads. Are you angry because your Aikido is lacking something? Are you feeling cheated?
PAG. Like you, I have been a member of AikiWeb for a long time. I have no one on my ignore list. I read everything that is written here. In your post, you go straight from the ‘crisis' to the ‘nastiness' on the threads and suggest that one might be causing the other, but I do not think there is such a close connection. I have occasionally been surprised to meet in person people who contribute to AikiWeb and discover that their abrasive writing style is not at all matched by an abrasive personality. As for a ‘crisis', I think that aikido is much more of a private activity than is conveyed by discussions on forums like AikiWeb. Thus I do not believe that you can talk of a ‘crisis' purely on the basis of the threads concerning Mr Harden.

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
When the spiritual part of Aikido is missed, could it be that the internal part is missed also. Maybe there is more connection than you have been led to believe.
PAG. I think there is an ambiguity in your use of the term ‘internal'. It could mean something quite specific and demonstrable; or it could be a much vaguer term—the counterpart of something that is ‘external', that can be connected with the ‘physical'. I have used quotation marks because I am not sure that I understand what you mean by ‘spiritual' or ‘internal'. Part of the problem is that both are highly metaphorical, or metonymic, in English and so the meaning can sometimes made clear only with examples.

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Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Every one of these threads turns into a discussion about Dan (no disrespect intended just an observation). I hear that Dan understands internal strength and can convey it. I am sure he can.

Does that make it okay for you (not you, Dan, others that speak for you) to disparage others' ways? With great strength comes great responsibility. Internal practice could cause internal inspection and responsibility for one's own thoughts and process.
PAG. As I see it, there is an unfortunate tendency on AikiWeb to regard all opinions expressed as having the same value in terms of content, simply because they are opinions expressed. To disagree with this tendency can lead to accusations of disparagement of the views expressed, or of the person who holds the views, simply because the views are different. However, in this case, serious and honest criticism of someone's view becomes very difficult and silence is sometimes the only option.

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Maybe as individuals you all think that you are expressing yourselves. But to me it comes across on here as lemmings repeating doctrine.
PAG. I do not see it this way. There are people on these threads, whom I have met and whose views I respect very much, who speak very highly of Mr Harden and how he trains. I have never met Mr Harden, but the argument from induction as I am using it here carries some weight.

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Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
One of the reasons I am not interested in what Dan has to offer is because of how some people that train with him talk to others on here. Why would anyone want that? Real internal strength helps us think for ourselves. It helps us develop compassion and appreciation of diversity.
PAG. Here I draw the opposite conclusion. The fact that people talk about Mr Harden so much, not just here, but in other, private conversations, leads me to think that what he does is of major importance. If I may mention just one name, I have never met Mr William Gleason, but the fact that he trained with my own teacher, Seigo Yamaguchi, and also regularly trains with Mr Harden, is very significant for me. As is the fact that, on the basis of what I read here on AikiWeb, he is trying to incorporate what he is learning with Mr Harden into his own aikido training.

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Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Ron and I trained with a man who was very strong. He taught us well. Now we are on our own path.
PAG. So did I, and so did they, and so am I. My dojo is formally attached to the Aikikai, but we are well off the beaten track and we can get on with what we want to do.

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Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Our Path involves Ki development, Aikido waza and internal responsibility. We talk about it all the time on here. Yet when we have a seminar not one person from the Aikido world other than our own students come. And then on here we are told we don't know what we are talking about. Only Mike and Dan have the "goods". How could anyone possibly know because none has come to our dojo to find out.
PAG. Well, I am not really expecting a major rush of AikiWeb members to turn up at my dojo in Hiroshima on the basis of my posts in this forum. Equally, I am not likely to turn up at your dojo or at Mr Harden's door (in Massachusetts, I believe) any time soon. We are on opposite sides of the world. I state this to emphasize that AikiWeb is run by a Japanese, from Kobe, who is living in the US and is supported by people like myself, a Brit who is living in Japan. The international dimension of AikiWeb tends to be forgotten sometimes.
On the other hand, because I am unable to meet them myself, I will be very much looking forward on my next trip to Europe to see what my aikido friends there have learned at the hands of Mr Harden and Mr Akuzawa and to teach me what they have learned.

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Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
I not writing for sympathy or empathy. I really want to know. Please try not to write back if you have nasty things to say. Let's discuss these ideas without being mean.
PAG. Well, the way you have put this makes it rather easy for you to accuse me of being nasty or mean if I disagree with you.

Best wishes,

P Goldsbury

P A Goldsbury
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Old 11-13-2011, 06:59 PM   #12
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

Hello Peter:
Disagreement is not the same as meanness.
Maybe the true nature of a person shows up behind the keyboard rather than in person. Maybe not.
Thank you for your response.
Mary

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Old 11-13-2011, 07:27 PM   #13
Shadowfax
 
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

While I have not had the pleasure to attend one of Dan's seminars I have had the pleasure of training with one of his students and have found it beneficial. The IT exercises have helped me find another way to work on certain aspects of my aikido. Largely having to do with posture and being able to remain in balance while in motion.

I was happy to step outside of aikido into a class on basic bellydancing excercises and this helped me to gain a better understanding of muscle isolation. This understanding helped me quite a lot at the past weekends seminar with Heiny sensei in which we worked on things very much related to this. And added to that mix, this weekend, the kotodama and chanting in order to inform our aikido. I have been finding that incredibly useful. It was an amazing seminar.

I step outside of aikido again when I work with my horse and look for ways in which I can use what I know of riding and horsemanship and interaction with large animals to inform my aikido.

And I stepped outside of the horse world into aikido in order to make me a better horsewoman. And it has enhanced that in ways far greater than I had expected.

I really don't understand why it should be seen as wrong or bad to look into other worlds in order to find new ways to inform the one you live the most within. I believe that being open to seeing seemingly unrelated things and finding ways to learn from them is very useful and beneficial in so many ways. To shun and avoid such seems to me a way to limit your own potential.

I don't know anything of a crisis in aikido relating to people looking to other resources in order to deepen their training. But I must say I am very glad I train in a dojo where such experimentation and exploration is not only allowed but encouraged.

If this is not the road someone wishes I don't see why that should be a problem either. But it seems that perhaps if someone protests so very loudly ,that they do not want any part of it, instead of just continuing about their business, that perhaps that person is actually really very interested in learning more but perhaps a little afraid to step out of their comfort zone in order to find out for themselves.
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Old 11-13-2011, 08:09 PM   #14
Joe McParland
 
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

I love this thread. Maybe they can't be moved by cracking a baseball bat over their heads, but Mary offers her wrist and they throw themselves all over the place... Brilliant!

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Old 11-13-2011, 11:14 PM   #15
kewms
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

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Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Thank you all for you responses. My question was not meant to imply that you should not go outside aikido...it really was to ask why?
I didn't. "Outside" came to me, because my teachers invited it in. They have been as public as they are likely to be about their own reasons, so I'm not going to speculate.

Writers are always told to read widely. Read the genres and authors you like, but also the ones you don't, if only enough to understand why you don't like them. Every writer I know has enough books to stock a small library, and a to be read stack that threatens to overwhelm their reading chair.

This is the same idea. Every teacher (and every art) focuses on a different piece of the elephant. There is much value in seeing the other pieces, even if your primary attention remains on a single teacher's approach.

As for lemmings, well... I think there's been plenty of vitriol on both sides, as well as within some of the factions. Certainly the Daito Ryu - Aikido debate is very much like an ongoing family feud, with both sides arguing about who Grandpapa Sokaku (Or Papa Morihei) loved best. In all the sound and fury, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that we really are all branches of the same family, and have a lot to learn from each other.

Katherine

Last edited by kewms : 11-13-2011 at 11:17 PM.
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Old 11-14-2011, 01:45 AM   #16
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

Why would anyone search outside Aikido for anything?

I guess that really depends on what a person is looking for. One might expect something from Aikido that Aikido is not/does not offer. One might 'only' be in the wrong lineage/style. One might have the right teacher, but not (yet) realise it.
There are so many reasons why people will not stick to Aikido in their search.

I think it really all starts by them (those searching outside Aikido, not the IS practisioners!) not really knowing what they are looking for.

In class I too sometimes compare what we do with other styles, but ALWAYS say it is not correct for us to it that way, never that they are doing it wrong only different (immediately followed by: "depends what you are looking for"). Students watch vids on youtube and have questions, rightfully so. I explain, show the differences. As for IS I am not so sure. Some have referred to vids of Ueshiba that show 'his' IS. All I see is good posture, good ma ai, kimusubi, kino nagare, etc. But that is just me, no judgement here (again to each his own).

Quote:
Writers are always told to read widely. Read the genres and authors you like, but also the ones you don't, if only enough to understand why you don't like them.
very good point...everyone has something useful to tell, even the ones you do not 'like'. Aikido sharpens your judgement.

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
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Old 11-14-2011, 02:57 AM   #17
Lee Salzman
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

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Tim Ruijs wrote: View Post
In class I too sometimes compare what we do with other styles, but ALWAYS say it is not correct for us to it that way, never that they are doing it wrong only different (immediately followed by: "depends what you are looking for"). Students watch vids on youtube and have questions, rightfully so. I explain, show the differences. As for IS I am not so sure. Some have referred to vids of Ueshiba that show 'his' IS. All I see is good posture, good ma ai, kimusubi, kino nagare, etc. But that is just me, no judgement here (again to each his own).
Let me dissect a little microcosm you pointed out there, good posture. Let's say that, a couple years ago, I too would have said there is such a thing as good posture. I would look at just about any high level martial artist, notice something about their movement, and call it posture.

But now, after acquiring a certain different perspective, I no longer see posture where I once did, or rather, I see (forgive my embelishment) bad martial artists using posture, and good martial artists completely lacking it. I now see posture representing a fixation that can't adapt or move, it's a mind that is dead and a body that is dead. Before I trained to have a posture, now I train to have none but instead to move, everything, in unity of purpose, at every moment, with that purpose constantly changing, never stuck.

But from an outside perspective, what I used to label my posture now seems to look better to me, if only I take an artificial snapshot of my movement. But even that mental snapshot is an illusion, solely an artifact of the limited view - Shroedinger's posture, maybe there, maybe not, or perhaps Heisenberg's posture, if you know its shape, it is not moving, or if it is moving, you don't know its shape. Viewed across the totality of the movement, there are an infinite number of postures, so no need to pick any one out and give it signifiance, there are plenty more where those came from. But yet it is not something that just happens, it requires deliberate practice to happen.

Maybe you found a more enlightened perspective on posture in aikido than I did, but well, I never found it until I ventured outside, but that is another reason I did venture outside. It was a thing staring me in the face all along, I just did not know how to see it, until I was shown how.

Last edited by Lee Salzman : 11-14-2011 at 02:59 AM.
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:14 AM   #18
SeiserL
 
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

IMHO, its not a crisis only an opportunity.

Its is not what is lacking/missing (implied that it was there or should be there) only that there may be more.

In FMA we often say that the art is complete but not finished.

But, I have been a cross-trainer and perpetual-student my whole life.

Each person gives/shares what they have; some will appreciate it, some will reject it, and most will complete ignore it.

So it goes.

Thoughts?

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:27 AM   #19
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

Posture (shi sei) is good when it is harmony with your every movement. It is not an isolated aspect of Aikido. There moments in some techniques where posture is a more important ingredient than another, but always present. Same for ma ai, kimusubi, kino nagare. It is about finding the right mix for a given situation: harmony.
Like I said: people venture outside Aikido because they might not know what they are looking for. perhaps your technique can be improved by better shi sei, but if you do not know that, if your teacher does not point that out...

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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Old 11-14-2011, 08:18 AM   #20
Chris Li
 
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Thank you all for you responses. My question was not meant to imply that you should not go outside aikido...it really was to ask why?
Well, before the war Morihei Ueshiba brought instructors from Kashima Shinto Ryu into the Kobukan to teach Kisshomaru and some of the others sword.

Sometime after the war Ueshiba ran into Yoshiyuki Sagawa (the Daito-ryu instructor) and invited him to go up to hombu as an instructor. It fell through before he actually went, but the invitation was made.

Why would you go "outside" for anything? Because that person has something to offer you. Clearly Ueshiba had no problem with it, why would anybody else?

Best,

Chris

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Old 11-14-2011, 08:23 AM   #21
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

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Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Are you angry because your Aikido is lacking something?
Everybody's aikido is lacking something. It's just a question of whether you feel that something is anything you want, need or care about. Whether it's of value is indisputable -- of course it is, because someone values it -- and yet, we continue to dispute that, or profess disingenuous surprise at the fact that other people value it. Oh, other people and their messed-up priorities!
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Old 11-14-2011, 08:48 AM   #22
Mark Freeman
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

Hi Mary,

I come from a similar aikido background to you, with ki development exercises occupying nearly half of all my practice time. I am very happy with this training arrangement, but remember in the early days that although I enjoyed them I was alway keen to get onto the waza and the throwing and being thrown. I thought that that was where the real aikido was. I am older and I think a bit wiser now. I realise that the goods I am searching for are in the principles and in the basics of co-ordination of mind and body.

My nearly 20 years in aikido have been happily spent with an exceptional ki-aikido teacher (Sensei Ken Williams). I certainly don't feel like there is anything lacking or needing fixing in what I have learnt so far.
However, coming to Aikiweb 6 or so years ago, sparked my interest in the wider world of aikido and its variety of strands. Back then, Mike and Dan were making some pretty bold claims and provoking quite a bit of heated debate. I remember being a bit put out by them, in that neither of them was a highly graded aikidoka, but they were both claiming to have what is missing from most modern aikido.

So for me, the only way to really know how to take them was to set out to meet both men. Fortunately for me, they both came over this side of the pond, and I got to spend some time with them. Both are good teachers, both explain things in a very clear understandable way. Which is probably their greatest contribution to this debate/issue. It may not always seem that way in print, but hands on, they make it come down to, what you do, what you think, how you think it and what you feel when you think it. Which I found enormously helpful in translating what I do in my own aikido to my own students.

My meeting with both men has given me a greater appreciation of my own teacher and his mastery of aikido,. It has also given me a more open mind as to where I need to go and what I need to do, from here on in.

I just want to clip a quote from Greg's post to you:
Quote:
Now here is the part that I think will surprise a lot people - Dan's training is NOT all about the hard rock strong physical stuff that it appears to come across as - it is soft and mostly mental. And this is where I think the connection comes in that can relate to your internal training. Most folks think Dan does not believe in ki and does not teach it - WRONG! He just does not talk much about it in open forums because of the obvious potential to get out of hand

IMO, this is where his stuff has a true advantage to those that have a strong belief in ki and a coordinated mind and body - it gives you a head start in leaning more about how to use your control of ki to do more with your body, which will facilitate enhancement of any body movement within or outside of martial arts. Tohei's stuff provides a good foundation to build on but there is much more that can be added to that, and that is where Dan and others like him can come in.
In my experience this is true, the exercises Dan offers are compatible with Tohei's methods, it took me a while to realise this, at first I was mentally kicking against them, as I thought - my way is the right way.

The most valuable thing for me on the seminars that I have attended, is going in with a beginners mind, feeling like a beginner, making mistakes, and being a complete sponge to what is on offer.

It has enhanced my effectiveness as a teacher (my students tell me this), mainly because I now have a greater understanding of where and how the real power in aikido is generated, which is reward enough for me.

Anyway, I look forward to visiting you and Ron in the spring of next year, I know I will enjoy the practice.

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 11-14-2011, 09:09 AM   #23
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

What an interesting thread...thanks everybody..I have been able to see my closemindedness in a new way. I love it when a little light seeps in and I can think differently about something.

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Old 11-14-2011, 09:54 AM   #24
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

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Mark Freeman wrote: View Post
Hi Mary,

I come from a similar aikido background to you, with ki development exercises occupying nearly half of all my practice time.
I forgot to note that Tohei went "outside" as well, to Tempu Nakamura. Many other people went "outside" as well, while Ueshiba was alive, and with his knowledge.

Best,

Chris

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Old 11-14-2011, 09:54 AM   #25
Keith Larman
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

There's a line from the old movie "Wargames" where down-to-earth general says "I'd piss on a spark plug if I thought it would help." Yup, that's me.

I've taught my daughter aspects of Aiki as I understand it to help her with her club soccer play. She's defense and a bit on the shorter side. But she's incredibly powerful and with the small bit of daily training with daddy ever since she started walking about "internal stuff" she's like running in to a fire hydrant for opposing players. She loves to push on me to try to shift my balance, often when I'm not looking. So we have that game and have been playing it for years. So these bigger, stronger girls are often confounded by this shorter, lean girl who can simply run right through them. Or spiral off when they lean on her leaving them face down in the turf. When she has an over 200 pound daddy pushing her around constantly as a game, those big 80 pound girls don't seem quite so imposing.

In my training in sword polishing I remember being told about how the gripping of the blade in each bare hand with the correct tenouchi allows you to connect through your body in a spiral so each stroke on the stones is precise, perfect, powerful and delivered from your hara. I found tremendous inspiration (and good solo training) there.

Hell, I've learned a lot now from my severe spinal stenosis. I get some good feedback sometimes from that pain about what i'm doing right or wrong.

And don't get me started on inspiration from yoga. Then consider Tohei's expressed debt to yoga.

In other words, I think Aikido can be a complete, comprehensive art is true, but only as a general but abstract proposition. To get complete as an individual practitioner is something else entirely. And I believe one should not hesitate be thankful for inspiration and enlightenment from wherever it comes. I find it interesting that some will say "How can you possibly go outside the dojo?!?!" right after talking about how Aikido should apply to your daily life." That seems to imply this stuff is "out there" and glimmers of it are everywhere. And if our goal is to become "aiki" within ourselves, well, it should manifest everywhere. It *should* change all that we do. And we shouldn't be surprised to find it elsewhere as well. Ueshiba didn't have a monopoly on this stuff.

So we have to realize that there are many different viable pedagogy for transmitting "knowledge" of this type.

We can make the general claim that some are better than others but that no individual pedagogy is best for all. And that to me is "the rub".

Each pedagogy usually has inherent weaknesses that are also sometimes signs of their greater strengths in other aspects. Dan isn't teaching Aikido. He says that explicitly. That's up to us fools who've been learning all those techniques for all these years.

Me, I spent a lot of time getting where I'm at. I suppose I could sit back like so many of my peers and say "Now it's just about refining." Nah, for me I keep thinking about how you have to completely destroy prior progress to solve some puzzles like the Rubic's cube. Solving part of it isn't enough. It is more that you have to learn to solve part of it, then destroy it to move forward again. I don't want to be finished. I don't want to be "content". I want to keep improving. Some of what I've learned from Dan, Toby, Mike, students of Ark, Ushiro, et al have helped me greatly refine and reform many things I do. Making for what I think is better Aikido *in* me.

So I'll piss on a spark plug if I thought it would help... And I go to anyone who I think might help me better understand what I'm doing. I don't necessarily suggest it to everyone. But for me it works.

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