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Old 02-12-2012, 02:09 PM   #1
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
Location: New York
Join Date: May 2006
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Integrity in our Aikido Community

I have not been posting for the last couple of days, because I was placed in the proverbial time-out room for a comment in response the Mary Eastland's attempt to portray me as a bully, that the moderator considered to be too sarcastic and patronizing to fit within his definition of civil communication. This post has come through several days of serious deliberation and discussion with a number of people, which was so clearly illuminated by Dr. Fred Little's response to her post:

Re: What kind of bullying is this?
________________________________________
Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Every time I read this kind of rhetoric it reminds of of a kind of bullying...but I can't think of the name of it...I see in this post and others like it techniques like: using assumed authority....big words, supposedly superior intellect, and the use of the group as if: many of us implies everybody.....does anyone have the name for what it is?

When everyone just sits and watches bullying it makes everyone who sits and watches a participant.
Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
Dear Mary,

As the old saying goes, we are all entitled to our own opinions, but we are not entitled to our own facts. When someone repeatedly posts counterfactual statements and attempts to hide behind a (mis)characterization of those counterfactual statements as perfectly valid personal opinions, it is not surprising that such a person should attract vigorous counterarguments.

There are some people who object to such vigorous responses, it is true. My primary objection to them is that they simply take a good deal of time to put together and have a limited effect when directed at those who are simply ineducable. As I grow older and more careful regarding how I choose to spend my limited time, increasingly, my choice with such individuals is to ignore them and to avoid situations where it is necessary to interact with them. For better or for worse, with an occasional exception (whether well- or ill-chosen) this means generally avoiding any interaction on Aikiweb but the most basic transfer of inarguably objective fact.

I'm hardly alone in this. Indeed, I know a number of very skilled and knowledgeable practitioners who simply don't post here at all because doing so exposes them to endless streams of mindless rejoinders from ill-informed, poorly trained, and notably unaccomplished practitioners who are suffering from meta-cognitive failure to such an extreme degree that the result calls to mind the old proverb about the inadvisability of wrestling pigs.

But I don't see this as a problem with Aikiweb alone. I see this as a fundamental problem with what, for lack of a better phrase, is termed "the aikido community." Having been trained to not only politely tolerate, but in some cases actually celebrate their own teachers' failings, there are a great many students of the art who have actively damaged not only their own critical thinking ability, but their capacity for moral reasoning. It may not be dead, but for many practitioners, it has certainly gone to sleep.

In that circumstance, the wake-up call often sounds harsh indeed; but like an alarm clock, hitting the snooze button only buys a few more minutes of restive dormancy. And that is, I think, about all I have to say about that.

Best regards,

FL
Our Aikido community is clearly in the throes of a significant struggle. A significant number of major figures in the Aikido and marital arts world have pointed out that our art is in danger of becoming predominantly a bad caricature of the level of martial arts that our founder and some of his major students represented. These people have identified the nature of the practice as a major source of this serious dilution of genuine skills within our art.

This situation is in many ways akin to what was happened in other arts such as Tai Chi. I applaud the manner in which the Tai Chi community has actively embraced and addressed a similar dilemma within their community so that the manner in which they addressed the issue actually helped the art. The Tai Chi community has absolutely no problem with recognizing that some teachers and "styles" are simply interested in the health aspects of that art. Those teachers (for the most part) make no false claims as to the martial abilities of the teacher and students. Those teachers speak glowingly as to the obvious, positive aspects of the practice for improving and maintaining one's health. This helps to spread the larger awareness of Tai Chi, which helps to insure a stream of new students. There are other "branches" of Tai Chi that promote the martial aspects of that art through the practice of the art. Those teachers and students have worked out a system in which their ideas and skills can be empirically validated. There are countless videos from parks in China in which we can observe them testing out their skills and ideas for all to see. This process is done in a atmosphere of mutual respect and camaraderie. It would be considered extremely odd for a Tai Chi instructor to make public claims and studiously avoid an opportunity to have those ideas and skills tested in a public venue. It is seen as a clear sign of respect and admiration when you are the person that people want to test out in those parks.

I find it to be very sad that our Aikido community seems to try and place ourselves as apart and above from the necessity and importance of empirically validating what we say and do. Historically, the access to and sharing of information about Aikido was strictly controlled by the leaders of the various Aikido organizations. Unless you attended events led by top instructors within those organizations, there was scant access to this information. The information that was provided was not expected to be questioned but accepted wholesale. The open questioning of this information was clearly frowned upon and typically led to negative consequences for the person who raised some questions. The ability to control the flow of information began to fall with the advent of the internet. People began to discuss their research and questions in venues that could not be controlled by the major Aikido organizations.

One of the most courageous and outspoken researchers was Stanley Pranin. The information that he collected led him to raise some serious questions and concerns about Aikido. Stanley Pranin put his concerns into action when he put the Aiki Expo's together. This event was overtly boycotted by a number of organizations, including Aikikai and Ki Society. Those organization's myopic and petty positions could do nothing to silence what has proven to be a seismic impact upon our community. These events provided the opportunity for people to meet in an atmosphere of genuine respect and camaraderie, in order to empirically test out beliefs and abilities. These events had a positive influence in the Aikido world because Aikidoka of all levels of ability, from various organizations were exposed to a wealth of information from within the larger Aikido community and from within the larger martial arts community. It was both joyful and painful to experience larger truths that shattered some of our cherished beliefs, while providing hope for a better future for the art that we love so dearly. This event enabled people from within organizations that were not able to communicate (because of political issues!) to begin serious discussions and provide everyone with more complete knowledge that could only emerge from the open sharing of important information. Ikeda Sensei's emphasis on the building bridges within the Aikido and martial arts world, stands as a clear yard mark which we should measure our own efforts by.

The explosive growth of the internet provided the proverbial final nail in the coffin for those who sought to limit and control the amount of information available to everybody. People from around the world could now be exposed to information (written, video, etc.) about the various instructors, and organizations with the Aikido world. This growing wealth of information has proven to be a blessing and a curse. The Aikido Journal Forum and E-Budo were once the premier sites for access to information about our art and related arts. The attempts to control the information through moderators proved to be a very, very difficult task. It became an immense challenge to wade through the opinions in order to weed out the information that could not be substantiated or verified, while allowing the open discourse that could promote the development of information. The approach of controlling the information by those who were the gate keepers within certain communities did not work when they attempted to limit information and discount information that did raise genuine concerns. People were discounted and attacked, even though the information that they provided could be verified and substantiated both through written material and through training opportunities. This gatekeeper approach led to the downfall of the forums that utilized that approach. Another approach was to allow all opinions to be expressed without any attempt to weed out information that could not be verified or substantiated. This approach led to a cacophony of opinions that drowned out the sensible, experienced and knowledgeable people who posted. When those people stopped participating on those types of forums, those forums fell into relative disuse as well. The Aikiweb appears to be at a critical juncture point. It is well-known that many of the well-known, knowledgeable people who use to post on this forum stopped because they became tired of having address opinions and comments that represented information that could not be verified or substantiated. The people behind those far-afield opinions simply could not accept that they were off-base and steadfastly refused to have to back-up their opinions. To make matters worse, we then had to contend with apologists who could not understand that not all opinions were equal, and not all opinions can be verified and substantiated as factual, useful and relevant.

We can debate for eternity as to what Aikido should mean and should represent. At the end of the day, Aikido does not end up in the realm of philosophy, spirituality, nor is it confined to endless debates. Aikido is a martial art. There are many manifestations of our art that can exist within that umbrella categorization. It is immaterial as to what manifestation a person chooses to pursue. Any manifestation of our art should be entitled to respect. Those expressed ideas and abilities should be empirically tested both within and outside of that community. It serves as an invaluable feedback mechanism to remain anchored firmly within a consensual reality. It is the hallmark and foundation of mutual respect and a sense of camaraderie that exists within the martial arts world. This approach is the accepted standard in almost all areas of human endeavor. This self-policing approach is possible if we are open enough and honest enough with ourselves to admit that no one has all of the information and no one is the zenith of skill sets. This approach will work if we can all hold ourselves and those around us accountable to what we say and do. I consider this to be the foundation of respect within our community. None of us should be excused or held above being accountable to demonstrably verify and substantiate information and alleged abilities. If a person wants to put information out in our community, we should hold them accountable for the information put forward. If a person does not want to subject themselves to that legitimate scrutiny, then that person should recognize that this forum should not be place to make claims that are somehow immune to inquiry.

If you say that your expression of Aikido is focused on the spiritual aspects that O'Sensei held dear, then that is a fantastic way to pay tribute to the spiritual aspects of O'Sensei's Aikido. If asked, you should be well-versed in Shinto and Omoto practices and beliefs. It should strike people as odd, if someone would avoid responding to legitimate queries into these areas. It should strike people as odd, if a person responds in a manner that seems inconsistent and/or odds with clearly established practices and beliefs. It should strike someone as odd, if someone discounts discrepancies as a function of your lack of deeper (yet undefined) understandings, without the clear and rational explanation of the discrepancies. A reasonable person would think that it would be a mutual sign of respect for a person to query another person about this subject matter. If a person who claims a degree of knowledge, cannot demonstrate it, then it should be embraced by both people as an opportunity to share in the learning process. It is beyond obvious, that until someone points out gaps in our knowledge, we might not actually be aware of it and the opportunity to deepen our knowledge base.

If you say that your expression of Aikido is focused on the philosophical aspects Aikido that O'Sensei, then that is a fantastic way to pay tribute to the philosophical aspects of O'Sensei's Aikido. O'Sensei's philosophical believes were fully embedded within classic Chinese literature (which was the foundation of a education in Japan until Japan engaged in a nationwide path toward modernization) and his religious beliefs. His philosophies were expressed in manner of writing and speaking that was hard for many to understand, outside of the nature of education that he was exposed to. People are actively engaged in re-interpreting O'Sensei's writings because the earlier interpretations varied widely in accuracy. A person should reasonably expect someone to be able to articulate O'Sensei's philosophies with some degree of accuracy, while acknowledging certain limitations (e.g. cannot read Japanese, basing one's understandings upon "x's" interpretations of a specific writing).

If you say that your expression of Aikido is the physical expression of the ideas of connection and harmony of movements amongst people, then that is a wonderful way of expression some core components of Aikido that O'Sensei expressed. Providing people with the training paradigms in which these practices exist within is valuable information. It enables people to formulate reasonable questions so that people can seek to empirically validate the information. For example, I would be curious to know under which conditions we can replicate the abilities to harmonize and connect with the movements of others. Can it only happen in a mutually cooperative environment? Can it happen in a more combative environment? This kind of information informs and helps everybody to seek to deepen the knowledge and ability base defined within the stated parameters.

If you say that your expression of Aikido is an effective form of self-defense, then that is a fantastic way to pay tribute to the Aikido that O'Sensei represented. It is reasonable and informative to understand how a person defines the realm of self-defense and the training paradigms in which the Aikido is practiced. The stated parameters can allow people to empirically validate the stated abilities and skills. It provides everybody with a wonderful opportunity to realistically understand that which people claim to do.

I am going to use a recent series of exchanges to clearly highlight the need for our community to insist upon empirical validation as a necessary aspect of the mutual respect and camaraderie. Many, many people have openly questioned Graham Christian's ideas and claims of abilities. Many, many people have been stymied by his utter lack of respect for our requests by hiding away from and outright refusing to back up his claims. On the thread "Aikido Attacks", Demetrio Cereijo interjects some humor by referencing the comedy video posted by Sensei Danny Da Costa. CLEARLY NOTE GRAHAM'S RESPONSE.

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
I suggest to invite someone who has not been involved in aikiweb discussions about you (or aiki or ki), to provide a neutral unbiased opinion.

I'm thinking in someone skilled in aikido and with a good sense of humor, for instance Mr. Dacosta. I believe everybody around here would accept his opinion about your aikido skills.

Just an idea to consider.
Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
Ah, one of my old students. Well found.

G.
I, along with other people, directly asked Da Costa Sensei about this claim. The following is Sensei Da Costa's response to me (which he consented to having me put his response in this post): Hello Mark,
I have never met Graham Christian. I would make a comment on the Aiki Web Forum but it is not clear how to subscribe.
Regards
Danny Da Costa

Sensei Da Costa responded to other people and said that not only did he not know Graham, but that Graham was NEVER one of his teachers. Exactly what are we left to believe: One, Graham has been lying to us, in part or all of what he has been saying and claiming; Two, Graham may not be too grounded in reality, and might actually be delusional in some manner, shape or form; Three, a little bit of one & two. Four, Sensei Da Costa is mistaken, lying, etc., despite putting out information that has been verified by others. David Orange was placed in the proverbial time out room on this forum for saying that Graham was delusional. Now, if that was a true statement, was the moderator's actions unjust when David might have accurately described the situation? Mary Eastland had tried her best to frame as bullying (and other repugnant associations), my insistence that Graham empirically validate his claims regarding his ideas and abilities. I have just gotten back from the proverbial time-out room myself for responding to this cheap attack in a humorous manner. Does Mary Eastland offer an apology for trying to excuse the conduct of someone who has been less than candid with us? The moderator should not have to be placed in a situation to punish people who legitimately demand that a person lives up to a common standard of backing up claims. The moderator should not be placed in a situation of having to punish a person from responding strongly to those who attack legitimate efforts to see that information placed in our community is substantiated and verified. Once again, I will repeat the obvious. All opinions are not equal and can be honestly evaluated and weighed in terms of accuracy, relevance, etc. Opinions do not equal fact. Facts can be derived through empirical verification. All of this vetting can and should be done in a open and respectful manner.

We can go a long way to re-establishing this forum as one of the best, on-line forums in the martial arts world. This forum can once again be the place where we can read the contributions from some of the best martial artists out there today. It will take a group effort to achieve this goal. It will take us to agree upon a mutually respectable atmosphere where we can freely ask and provide the opportunity to empirically validate our ideas and abilities. We should expect nothing less from ourselves and others, nor should we allow others to excuse those who avoid and run away from opportunities to empirically validate claims. We should all respect the legitimate expressions that people have regarding their Aikido. We should all be honest in accurately describing and expressing what we do and how we do it. We should all be open to being asked to empirically validate all that we do and say. This only helps all of us to grow and deepen our understanding and appreciation of what we all do. We should all embrace the gaps in our knowledge and abilities that empirical explorations reveal. This path only leads us to higher levels. I demand that from myself, my teachers, my students and my fellow Aikidoka. I can only hope that we as a community demand more of ourselves so that we rarely have to deal with how to address the legitimate requests for the empirical validation of claims. This lies at the heart of maintaining a high level of integrity in our Aikido and in this forum so that it continues to attract the participation and contributions from many within the martial arts world. More importantly, we can expand the appeal of our art in a time of contracting student bases, by providing accurate information and various manifestations of Aikido that can meet a variety of needs and wants.

Marc Abrams
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Old 02-12-2012, 02:42 PM   #2
graham christian
Dojo: golden center aikido-highgate
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

Wow! Regarding me and video from Demetrio. You actually think that's real. Wow......

Let's get this straight, you believe a spoof is real???

You believe humorous comments are reality?

At best I would say this is an hilarious misunderstanding, at worst, well.....

Regards.G.
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Old 02-12-2012, 03:07 PM   #3
Gorgeous George
Join Date: Sep 2009
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

Marc: this part

'As I grow older and more careful regarding how I choose to spend my limited time, increasingly, my choice with such individuals is to ignore them and to avoid situations where it is necessary to interact with them. For better or for worse, with an occasional exception (whether well- or ill-chosen) this means generally avoiding any interaction on Aikiweb but the most basic transfer of inarguably objective fact.

I'm hardly alone in this. Indeed, I know a number of very skilled and knowledgeable practitioners who simply don't post here at all because doing so exposes them to endless streams of mindless rejoinders from ill-informed, poorly trained, and notably unaccomplished practitioners who are suffering from meta-cognitive failure to such an extreme degree that the result calls to mind the old proverb about the inadvisability of wrestling pigs.'


...in particular, spoke to me.

I think I was banned for a few months, or something, for posting this clip in exasperation at what I perceived as repeated 'mindless rejoinders from ill-informed, poorly trained, and notably unaccomplished practitioner':

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAOxY_nHdew

The ban was good, to be honest, as it allowed me to see from the outside, how much many aikidoka like to talk, and 'ponce about' - and how little they like to actually do something of worth.

Many of them hide from questions of the effectiveness of their practice, behind mealy-mouthed excuses, and quotes from O'sensei - a man who proved the effectiveness of his practice, time and time again - because, I suspect, they have egos (the very thing they claim, with a high brow, not to possess) that are too fragile to bear the stress of any sort of actual challenge, that would give them the chance to improve (I actually contemplated issuing a challenge to one board member, ha).

So I wouldn't take it personally: 'A guilty dog barks the loudest.', as they say.
Good luck.

Last edited by Gorgeous George : 02-12-2012 at 03:07 PM. Reason: Too much quote.
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Old 02-12-2012, 03:15 PM   #4
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

Marc, I don't take any issue at all with your commentary on the various definitions of or approaches to aikido. I do wonder, however, if there's any point in talking about "the aikido community". I know that there are a lot of people out there who think that "the aikido community" would come together if all those people out there would just get their heads out and see the light, and maybe it's true in a sense, but it's a little like my sister's belief that world peace will come when all of Russia converts to Catholicism -- you might as well replace it with "when geese lay golden eggs", and it'll all come true at the same time.

I think that the word "community" is misused much more often than it's used correctly. It's got such a nice feel to it, with overtones of mutual support and mutual interest and all that. The problem is that, because of those positive associations, I think people are often tempted to use it on situations where it isn't merited, maybe as a sort of wishful thinking that whatever they're so labeling will indeed become a community if they just call it that. Or sometimes (and aikido may be a case of this), something that was once a community, truly isn't any longer. I don't think that there's a hard and fast definition of "community", but I do think that you can point to certain situations where community really isn't possible -- as when you've got a large number of people. Thus, communities can grow to a point...and then they can calve new communities, or they can decline due to attrition, or they can become bigger and keep calling themselves one community, but I can call myself a llama, and that won't make it true.

I don't think that there is, or can be, such a thing as "the aikido community", and that trying to create unity or consensus in this "aikido community" is destined to failure. We would do better to begin by recognizing what is, or what can be, and then going from there in deciding what we (as individuals and as entities that are more properly called "communities") want it to be. For some of us, the answer will be "nothing". I don't know that I want anything from the world entity of aikido, any more than I want anything from the world entity of, say, software development.
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Old 02-12-2012, 03:26 PM   #5
David Partington
Dojo: Reading Zenshin Aikido Club
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

Marc,

In response to Graham Christian wrote:
Ah, one of my old students. Well found.

I haven't read the thread you took Demetrio and Graham's posts from but my first thought when I read his comment in the context you have presented it here and an option you appear not to have considered was:-

5. That is an example of Graham's humour (humor!).
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Old 02-12-2012, 03:28 PM   #6
SeiserL
 
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

IMHO, integrity is in the person not the community.

Some people match my definition of integrity here and some do not.

I respond to some people and not to others.

I got no dog in this fight.

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 02-12-2012, 03:44 PM   #7
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

Graham ( & David)

Your response simply confirms the foundation of my message. In absence of indicating that you were saying something in jest, how would you expect people to understand your response, particularly with your evasive style of responding to people who ask for more substance from your responses and claims? All of the more reason to maintain the personal integrity to open yourself up to examination of what you say and claim.

Graham Jenkins:

Your highlighting that section was very relevant. The sad thing will be when people like that are the only ones who post things on this forum. Imagine what the new people to Aikido would have to fill their heads with. That is why it would be nice to engage in some type of self-monitoring of ourselves on this forum so as to keep informed opinions involved with this forum.

Mary:

Our Aikido community is made up of a wide array of diverse sub-communities. All of them should be accorded our respect and welcomed. Integrity to what we do and say within our own realms of Aikido should be a solid foundation for all of us to thrive in together.

Lynn:

You are absolutely spot-on about integrity being a personal trait. A community made up of people with high degrees of integrity is always looked up to. I can hope that of our community and work my own part in that equation and hope for the best.

To Everybody:

What would people consider to be some standards of integrity that we should expect of people who contribute on this forum?

Marc Abrams

ps.- thank you to everybody who has responded on this thread, via e-mail and via phone. i think that this is an important discussion that we should all share in.
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Old 02-12-2012, 04:01 PM   #8
RonRagusa
Location: Massachusetts
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Marc, I don't take any issue at all with your commentary on the various definitions of or approaches to aikido. I do wonder, however, if there's any point in talking about "the aikido community". I know that there are a lot of people out there who think that "the aikido community" would come together if all those people out there would just get their heads out and see the light, and maybe it's true in a sense, but it's a little like my sister's belief that world peace will come when all of Russia converts to Catholicism -- you might as well replace it with "when geese lay golden eggs", and it'll all come true at the same time.

I think that the word "community" is misused much more often than it's used correctly. It's got such a nice feel to it, with overtones of mutual support and mutual interest and all that. The problem is that, because of those positive associations, I think people are often tempted to use it on situations where it isn't merited, maybe as a sort of wishful thinking that whatever they're so labeling will indeed become a community if they just call it that. Or sometimes (and aikido may be a case of this), something that was once a community, truly isn't any longer. I don't think that there's a hard and fast definition of "community", but I do think that you can point to certain situations where community really isn't possible -- as when you've got a large number of people. Thus, communities can grow to a point...and then they can calve new communities, or they can decline due to attrition, or they can become bigger and keep calling themselves one community, but I can call myself a llama, and that won't make it true.

I don't think that there is, or can be, such a thing as "the aikido community", and that trying to create unity or consensus in this "aikido community" is destined to failure. We would do better to begin by recognizing what is, or what can be, and then going from there in deciding what we (as individuals and as entities that are more properly called "communities") want it to be. For some of us, the answer will be "nothing". I don't know that I want anything from the world entity of aikido, any more than I want anything from the world entity of, say, software development.
+1

R.

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Old 02-12-2012, 04:03 PM   #9
Gorgeous George
Join Date: Sep 2009
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
Graham Jenkins:

Your highlighting that section was very relevant. The sad thing will be when people like that are the only ones who post things on this forum. Imagine what the new people to Aikido would have to fill their heads with. That is why it would be nice to engage in some type of self-monitoring of ourselves on this forum so as to keep informed opinions involved with this forum.
To be honest, i've tired of the numerous posters here with chronic verbal diarrhea; for all the supposed faults of BJJers, and MMAers, at least they are humble enough to put what they say on the line, and accept defeat - a true example of humbleness.

I've been really reflecting, during my ban here, on the nature of many of those in the aikido community: their insistence on etiquette based around subservience to 'masters', and unwillingness to ever accept challenges (of any kind), and truly risk failure; they're an embarrassment, and I find less egotism, and more effective ability in the BJJ community (a martial art I have been studying for some five months now), where you aren't as good as you delude yourself you are - because when you experience failure of your martial ability, you are in no doubt about it: it's undeniable.

As bad as certain elements are on forums such as Bullshido, at least they've put themselves on the line at some point - and know what a resisting opponent feels like, and how to subdue such a person; certain commenter/s on this thread couldn't subdue a six month veteran of BJJ, in spite of decades of 'aikido' training, and understanding on a par with O'sensei.
Some tribute to the man's life, and creation!

Well done for speaking up, Marc.
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Old 02-12-2012, 04:18 PM   #10
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

Quote:
David Partington wrote: View Post
Marc,

In response to Graham Christian wrote:
Ah, one of my old students. Well found.

I haven't read the thread you took Demetrio and Graham's posts from but my first thought when I read his comment in the context you have presented it here and an option you appear not to have considered was:-

5. That is an example of Graham's humour (humor!).
I took the "Ah, one of my old students. Well found." as literally as it was written.

There was not the usual Graham's "ha, ha", no funny smiley nor any kind of hint about he trying to be humorous.

As far as I'm concerned, he lied to me expecting his claims would remain unchecked.

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Old 02-12-2012, 04:44 PM   #11
Fred Little
Dojo: NJIT Budokai
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
This post has come through several days of serious deliberation and discussion with a number of people, which was so clearly illuminated by Dr. Fred Little's response to her post:

Marc Abrams
Dear Marc,

Although I did defend the dissertation in November, the degree will not be posted until May. A small point, but you know how academics are about small points.

Best,

FL

Last edited by akiy : 02-12-2012 at 04:50 PM. Reason: Fixed quote tag

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Old 02-12-2012, 04:48 PM   #12
Marc Abrams
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
Dear Marc,

Although I did defend the dissertation in November, the degree will not be posted until May. A small point, but you know how academics are about small points.

Best,

FL
Fred:

Oh boy do I know what you are talking about...... In my book (particularly since we are not interacting in an academic sphere at the moment) you have earned the right to be called "Dr.". Just consider it my psychological intervention to help desensitize you to the upcoming joy when you hear somebody say "Dr. Little....." .

Cordially,

Marc Abrams
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Old 02-12-2012, 05:05 PM   #13
Chris Li
 
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

Quote:
Graham Jenkins wrote: View Post
I think I was banned for a few months, or something, for posting this clip in exasperation at what I perceived as repeated 'mindless rejoinders from ill-informed, poorly trained, and notably unaccomplished practitioner':

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAOxY_nHdew
No I've been feeling dumber lately !

Anyway, I already Liked Marc's blog post on Facebook, but I'll say again that I agree. Whether or not there is a formal "community", or whether a "community" is even possible, I think that there ought to be a responsibility for people to speak up and speak out.

Best,

Chris

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Old 02-12-2012, 06:05 PM   #14
gregstec
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

Factual Information, like water, will eventually find its own level of substantial existence - no amount of moderation or censorship will stop that; of course, it can slow it down, but never stop it - truth is truth and it will remain that way regardless of how the disillusioned may want it not to be.

Sad thing is that the process can take longer than most can tolerate

Greg
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Old 02-12-2012, 07:21 PM   #15
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

I see the internet as a little like the open street. People are free to make whatever claims they want. The best we can do to insure integrity is to speak eloquently about our views; to address the underlying motivations of those we wish to communicate with; to not let the truth/virtue of our remarks get drowned out by other stuff. Beyond that I cannot see what else can be done. We cannot prevent people from speaking lies or accidental untruths. All we can do is demonstrate and articulate to the best of our ability and hope the validity is, or in time becomes, self-evident.
And for the record I think Graham made a joke without realizing the greater context involved...namely, that the guy was actually a seriously accomplished martial artist.
And, if for the sake of argument we prove that someone is full of BS...what will we have actually accomplished? Very little. For example, we will not likely have changed the opinions of those who already train with them...if they even read what we have to say here. I'm not saying we shouldn't address the things we believe are false or otherwise detrimental, but there does seem to be a lot of redundancy. For the amount of energy that goes into these kinds of topics, I'm beginning to think I should adopt a new language style when I have a question I'm hoping to have answered. The odds seem seem slightly better that making assertions is a quicker way to get answers than asking questions. That may be a misinformed view, but it's the one I'm getting.
Anyhow...All we can do is our best to engage sincere people to the best of our ability.
Take care,
Matthew

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 02-12-2012, 08:42 PM   #16
dps
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

While I see that anyone who calls what they practice Aikido may be a part of an Aikido Community, I am puzzled by the thought that the community has integrity.

inĚtegĚriĚty
noun \in-ˈte-grə-tē\
Definition of INTEGRITY
1
: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility
2
: an unimpaired condition : soundness
3
: the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/integrity



Integrity is at its best as an individual trait. When looking at groups, organizations and communities, integrity is diluted at an exponential rate as more people are included.

dps

Last edited by dps : 02-12-2012 at 08:46 PM.
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Old 02-12-2012, 09:09 PM   #17
gregstec
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post

Integrity is at its best as an individual trait. When looking at groups, organizations and communities, integrity is diluted at an exponential rate as more people are included.

dps
I am not sure about that exponential factor - I think the integrity of a community is a reflection of the overall integrity of the individual members; and that the community, not an individual, has the responsibility to determine its own profile.

Greg
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Old 02-12-2012, 10:00 PM   #18
gates
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

A couple of well known internet personality types taken from: http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/war...igdogmetoo.htm

Forums often contain one or more unacknowledged sub-societies, but everyone except the most clueless know that these groups exist and constantly feel their influence. Such alliances congeal because of similarities in ideas and attitudes, or for the desire for power and influence within the forum. Since human beings are hierarchical creatures each of these these little mafias always have a Godfather who is surrounded by a cadre of loyal henchmen. Unlike Rebel Leader, Issues, Furious Typer and other noisy Warriors, Godfather only occasionally deigns to enter into discussions, but when he does everyone listens to him respectfully and his pronouncements have an air of finality. Though Godfather himself never engages in battle, it is commonly understood that his utterances should not be challenged, and when an unsuspecting Newbie or ambitious wannabe mounts a challenge to his authority Godfather’s henchmen viciously silence or drive away the attacker.

Bong: Is it just you or does this guy seem to babble on and on without making any sense whatsoever? Does he lurch from one non sequitur to another? Are you baffled by his obscure metaphors? Are there so many typos you think that maybe he was typing while wearing a catcher's mit? Can he really MEAN what he just said? What in the hell is hey talking about, anyway? Is this guy smoking something? Well, yes...in fact he is, and lightly tethered in orbit high above the Earth Bong remains far beyond the grasp of the even the most powerful of Warriors.

For Coffee Klatch the discussion forum is a social gathering - like Mah Jong or Wednesday morning canasta club. Coffee Klatch prefers a friendly, chatty environment and almost always limits her participation to non-technical forums. Whether inadvertently or by design, Coffee Klatch prepares the battlefield in her favor by making it soggy with pleasant, but vapid messages - her favorite phrase often being, "thanks for sharing". This renders the battlefield rather slow going for swifter and more powerful Warriors. CAUTION: If war does break out she will shed her benign facade and attack mired Warriors without remorse.

Big Dog is a bully who doesn't hesitate to use his superior strength to intimidate other combatants. Big Dog may be smart, articulate or just plain mean, but in any case he is a remorseless fighter, brutally ripping into even the weakest of combatants. Once Big Dog securely fastens his powerful jaws on a hapless victim, Me-Too will join the attack. Me-Too is far too weak and insecure to engage in single combat, and must ally himself with Big Dog or a pack of other Warriors to bring down his quarry.

Rottweiler Puppy is clumsy, marginally articulate, unsteady in his often playful attacks, but anyone who cares to notice will see that one day he will be a fierce and powerful Big Dog. HINT: By showing some patience and kindness to Rottweiler Puppy in his formative stages prudent Warriors may gain a steadfast and formidable ally.

Eagle Scout is a positive, constructive Warrior who endeavors to submit original articles which contain useful content and relevant information with supporting citations and links, thus initiating meaningful discussion threads. Eagle Scout regards the internet as an uplifting, egalitarian, worldwide arena for the exchange of ideas among intelligent, thinking individuals. He does not openly attack, but will (ever tactfully) chastise disruptive comments, gratuitous insults and cretinous insipidity. He is always kind and helpful to Newbie, and will shrug off even the most egregious insults. Eagle Scout is loathed with a poisonous intensity by Evil Clown, Jerk, Enfant Provocateur and Ego.

Enjoy the journey
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Old 02-12-2012, 10:15 PM   #19
dps
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

Quote:
Greg Steckel wrote: View Post
I am not sure about that exponential factor - I think the integrity of a community is a reflection of the overall integrity of the individual members; and that the community, not an individual, has the responsibility to determine its own profile.Greg
For smaller groups putting that responsibility in action is more likely to work. The smaller the group the better chance of it working.

The integrity of a community as large as the Aikido community cannot be measured by the overall integrity of the individual members because it is impossible to know all the members let alone their integrity. There is a perceived communal integrity based on who we have direct contact with or have heard about.

As for Marc's lament, I will go with Epictetus,

"Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them."

and Dr.Fred Little,

"As I grow older and more careful regarding how I choose to spend my limited time, increasingly, my choice with such individuals is to ignore them and to avoid situations where it is necessary to interact with them."

dps
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Old 02-13-2012, 02:12 AM   #20
hughrbeyer
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

I appreciate the OP. Props to you, Marc.

Re "community," let's not argue semantics. AikiWeb is a community by virtue of being a place where people gather (virtually) with common norms and expectations, enforced by Jun, peace be upon him, and by other posters as well.

Any community needs a way to police its norms. I know at least one web forum that does no moderating at all, but they are just brutal as a community on information they consider misinformed or uninformed. We probably don't want to go that way, but in an online forum shunning doesn't really work. The uninformed individual can always post more drivel, and there will always be enough people who don't know it's drivel to keep up the conversation.

I think if we're to survive as an art, and if we're to measure up to the Founder's vision, we have to be willing to hold ourselves to a certain standard. Tohei came to the US and took on five judoka at once; O-Sensei attracted some of his best students by defeating them in "contests." I don't expect I'll ever operate at that level, but if I'm not willing to put myself on the line at my own level, what am I doing here? I should be playing tiddlywinks.
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Old 02-13-2012, 02:27 AM   #21
Stephen Nichol
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

I would like to think that I understand where Marc is coming from.

I question my understanding of what I think I know about Aikido several times a day and acknowledge my many short commings in it and that recognition is foremost in my mind when I am trying to help out new people at our dojo. 'As far as I understand, this is how to do Aikido in this technique' is what I try to say to them. I try not to delude myself about it, my ability or level of comprehension and understanding of 'it' especially when talking about or 'trying' to do Aikido with a technique. If I cannot do the technique correctly because I am not using Aikido correctly in it... I am the first to laugh at myself and point out 'that is not how to do it' and then go find Sensei and ask for further instruction.

When I started training again after a 12 year break... which meant I was essentially starting all over. I had my memories of 'what I thought I remembered' and I quickly found that none of that was really important, nor did it add up to a whole lot at this new dojo. I was starting over from stratch even with a generous offer from our shihan to grade for 3rd kyu if I so desired. I came to these forums almost immediately after starting up again to glean whatever I could from the people here.

I hold myself accountable for what I try to take away from each class I attend. I do not try to find an excuse in my Sensei when I feel that my understanding, my expectation to perform Aikido is not translating through the technique at hand. I know it is me who is failing to grasp the lesson at hand and I strive to learn from my failures.

What I am trying to say is that it is very noble to have the 'Aikido' communities best interests at heart and mind, especially in consideration to the new person who may find themself here looking for information. However you are going to have to give that individual some credit and trust that they will be able to read through the threads of their interests and all the posts and figure out what seems logical and what does not. They will hopefully be able to consider the source and do their own leg work and fairly quickly determine who's post are worth their time to read and who's are not.

I find all kinds of usefull information here. Perspectives, ideas, concepts that do help me out and directions to try to go during my next class while incorporating that with what my Sensei is trying demonstrate. I also find some ideas that make me roll my eyes and think 'here we go again'.

So I suppose at the end of the day we have to be honest with ourselves first. Ask what we want from Aikido, train for that goal and be honest about our progress and have others 'check' us on it. (Interestingly I find this happens equally from complete new people as much as it does from my Sensei or sempai's. Trying to connect with a complete beginner who does not have a conditioned 'Aikido shape' will generally show just how far one has to go with showing 'Aikido' in their technique(s).)

I completely agree with (paraphrased):
If you are attracted to and are praticing Aikido for whatever your reasons are [martial effectiveness, spiritual oneness with the universe, aiki-dance flowing energy (a little of everything or some of this and some of that...] Just be honest with it and those you converse about it with. So if it is martial effectiveness you will have to test yourself by asking others to be honest and test you. If spirtual oneness, you will have to place yourself in the places you would last like to be and see if you can hold it togther when you have to embrace the fear and pain within. If it is aiki-dance class... challenge yourself to whatever happens there... I honestly have nothing to say in this area... sorry.. not even a witty or snide remark. I will say that people I have seen and know that prefer 'aiki-dance' are honest and do not claim to have, nor are they interested in any martial aspects of what it 'could be'. They are aware and like it very much where they are. And they are wonderful people to be with.

Last edited by Stephen Nichol : 02-13-2012 at 02:30 AM.
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Old 02-13-2012, 06:10 AM   #22
Alic
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

I think with things like this, there's usually only one way to know for sure...

This calls for a duel!

Basically, we're martial artists. In both ancient times and recent times, whenever someone makes a claim regarding their skills, it has always resulted in being tested by other martial artists. Ueshiba sensei and his top students all had to deal with challengers when they were setting up their dojos, and they all performed admirably. I see no reason why it should be any different today.

We, as martial artists, need to do two things right: one, we must be humble, so as to enable learning, and two, we must be skeptical, and test all claims to ascertain its validity.

Post videos, invite folks over, accept challenges... whatever. Do something to prove yourself in the eys of your peers, or you won't be taken seriously.

Not only that, by proving yourself you can both gain valuable experiences and learn more about your strengths and weaknesses, and at the same time, you may gain support as a result of your potential victories.

I know that Aikido is the budo of peace and harmony, but if we never accept our challengers and never challenge each other, we'll never be able to ensure a high quality within the Aikido community and won't be taken seriously by the rest of the martial arts world as a school.
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Old 02-13-2012, 06:39 AM   #23
graham christian
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

I think this is more Aikido and more about integrity than many things written on the subject.

http://youtu.be/ayWIpJP7BOc

Regards.G.
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Old 02-13-2012, 07:12 AM   #24
phitruong
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

Joe talked to his friend Bob on his latest experiment.

Joe: after many experimentation, i have found that buttered toast always land with the buttered side down.

Bob: really? show me!
Joe takes out a sliced bread, toast it, and put butter on one side and drop the buttered toast on the floor. the buttered side was up.

Joe: hmm..... let me try that again.

Joe did the same thing again, and as before, the buttered side was up. he did it again and same result. after some considerable thought, Joe exclaimed, "I know what wrong! I buttered the toast on the wrong side!"

in every large group gathering, be it on the internet or in person, there will be a person who buttered the toast on the wrong side and an angry wife who yelled "who messed up my kitchen floor!" sometimes, ya just gonna stop wasting butter and floor cleaner.

do you know that peanut buttered toast always land on the peanut side down? try it on your kitchen floor and let me know if that's true.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 02-13-2012, 09:07 AM   #25
dps
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Re: Integrity in our Aikido Community

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
do you know that peanut buttered toast always land on the peanut side down? try it on your kitchen floor and let me know if that's true.
Plain or Chunky?

dps
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