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Old 03-25-2004, 09:00 AM   #1
jgrowney
Dojo: Rochester New York Aikido Club
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spiritual disciplines in relation to waza

I'm curious to know how any of the spiritual disciplines that people practice relate to their waza... in their personal experience.

I practice macrobiotics which has definitely had an effect on my intention, attitude, and end result when doing technique. It's enabled me to calm myself better and be less reactionary under the stress of an attack. It's helped me to let go of wanting to fight or use muscle in technique. I still use too much, but it's really helped me to progress in this goal.

I also practice misogi which has helped me to better control my breathing... or remembering to breathe when I'm really exhausted and start to use more muscle than I should.

I have been introduced to Chinkon Kishin, but have yet to begin practicing it on any sort of regular basis.

So I was curious to know what others experiences have been with the relationship between various spiritual disciplines and their technique.

Thanks,
Jim

Jim Growney
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Old 03-25-2004, 10:21 AM   #2
Mark Uttech
Dojo: Yoshin-ji Aikido of Marshall
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Hallo, I feel lucky that I stumbled onto Taisen Deshimaru Roshi's advice on breathing: "concentrate on breathing out" This seems to be the ukemi of breathing. Breathing out is a form of 'giving' and so we just concentrate on 'giving' and our practice naturally grows from that. In gassho, tamonmark

- Right combination works wonders -
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Old 03-25-2004, 10:54 AM   #3
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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I think aikido in general has much in common with the Christian doctrine of "unconditional love." As well as humility in the sense of not insisting on doing things your own way. Also, the phrase "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." reminds me of "purification" practices.

Generally speaking about aikido and religion (I assume that's what you mean by 'spiritual disciplines'), as I've heard it said: "aikido isn't a religion. If you happen to have a religion, though, it can make you better at it."
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Old 03-25-2004, 11:43 AM   #4
thatoldfool
 
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Although aikido isn't a religion, I think it definitely is a way of life - which may blur the lines a little.

For me, I find Zen, with its practice of Zazen meditation and generally non contending philosophy to fit right in with Aikido, and helps me a lot. Since I've started doing 25 minutes of zazen before each practice, I've felt much more peaceful on the mat.

Another thing that helps - is Taoism, which is conveniently mixed into zen. If I ever need to chill out, and training isn't an option, and I don't feel like zazen - then reading the Tao Te Ching does the trick. I'm going to quote my favourite passage from the Tao Te Ching, which I believe is very "Aikido," and is what I try to live by:

Best to be like water,

Which benefits the ten thousand things

And does not contend.

It pools where humans disdain to dwell,

Close to the Tao.

Live in a good place.

Keep your mind deep.

Treat others well.

Stand by your word.

Make fair rules.

Do the right thing.

Work when it's time.

Only do not contend,

And you will not go wrong.

-Tao Te Ching, chapter 8. Translated by Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo, with an opening by Burton Watson. Originally written by Lao Tzu.

"Best to be like water,
Which benefits the ten thousand things
And does not contend."
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Old 03-25-2004, 06:13 PM   #5
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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Wow. That's an excellent passage. Water imagery does seem to work well with aikido.

I've always thought First Corinthians Chapter 13 is very aiki. It's the one that begins:

(1) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

(2) If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

(3) If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

It reminds me in some ways of the discussion of 'ki', or at least the philosohpical principles in aikido. You can twist someone's wrist and make them fall down; you can even do this every day for years, but if the intent behind it isn't aiki, it's not really aikido.

In fact, you can (I would argue) do very smooth and flowing and impressive aikido, but do it, say, narcisistically. At a certain point, you have to let go of the ego, maybe, but my cynical side says you can fake it. The above passage also reminds me of something that I think I need to remember in my aikido training: it's not all about me. That is, aikido as a form of self-improvement can (I think) lead to a certain kind of arrogance, not unlike the fellow in the 'empty the cup' story. I recall Kierkegaard writing that if all you cultivate is your own individual power, that is all the power you will have. (Implicitly, you will not have 'divine' moral strength.) So to phrase it maybe less controversially, it reminds me that even if I build up my 'faith', and 'wisdom', and 'strength', and even 'compassion', if I view that in the context of all the ways I've made myself better, it's fundamentally arrogance.

One of my favorite aikido shirts is from a grand re-opening of Aikido of Berkeley (excellent seminar!). On the back is printed, "Aikido is a matter of the heart." I don't know whose words those are, but they are very well-chosen.

Last edited by Paul Sanderson-Cimino : 03-25-2004 at 06:27 PM.
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Old 03-25-2004, 11:50 PM   #6
Anders Bjonback
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I don't know if my spiritual practices influence my waza in any way. I've just noticed that I have the same sort of problems in both. I tend to space out--day dreaming in meditation, or missing what technique we're doing on the mat. I have problems letting go--in meditation, I have trouble letting go of arising thoughts and emotions, and on the mat, I have a problem with letting go of trying to force a technique, or trying to let go of trying to throw someone. The first (and perhaps only) true joining of my two practices was doing aikido with high school kids with problems. It was the first time I really was doing it for the benefit of others, so it was really a Mahayana ("greater vehicle" Buddhist) practice. Other times, it seems, aikido has only been for my own benifit and my own interests, so it's usually not what I would call a true "spiritual practice" for me. But then again, maybe it is. I'm not really sure.

Last edited by Anders Bjonback : 03-25-2004 at 11:57 PM.

"For peace and happiness are presences, not objects we can grasp and hold onto."
--Lilian Smith
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Old 03-26-2004, 08:15 AM   #7
jgrowney
Dojo: Rochester New York Aikido Club
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Paul Sanderson-Cimino,

Interesting comments. Particularly about the development of ego. So in what way has your religion changed or enhanced your waza?

Anders Bjonback,

In which scenario was your waza better; working for your benefit or for the benefit of the kids?

Mark Uttech,

Very interesting! My current understanding is that increasing and controlling the length/power of the exhale is one of the goals behind Chinkon Kishin. How exactly has your practice grown (in relation to waza) as a result of practicing Taisen Deshimaru Roshi's advice on breathing?

Sincerely,

Jim

Jim Growney
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Old 03-26-2004, 09:17 AM   #8
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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I think before I started aikido, I 'thought too much'. (Maybe this is still the case. ^_-) I recall hearing someone say once, "Christianity is a state of being, not doing." That stuck with me. I was very very 'in the head', and still am, thinking in terms of abstract moral situations that lack all the specific and sometimes petty pressures that make doing the right thing in the real world hard. When I first went into a dojo that first term of freshman year, I was imagining ridiculously complex techniques; I thought for real martial artists, time just conveniently went into slow-mo so they could deliberately think out each movement. Take the pressure off.

But this idea of "being, not doing" has been very useful in both life and waza, and its application in either often helps its application in the other. Obviously, you have to think it all through at first just to learn the movement, but once that's in my head, I find I can relax and try to be present rather than 'thinking'. A few times, I've had /wonderful/ moments of clarity where I really felt moment-to-moment. Each time that's happened, someone's made a remark about it afterwards, saying that my technique seemed to have improved. (At least during that run through...and then typically I'd fail to achieve that clarity the next several times.)

It's a very general concept, and I would hardly say that my religion is the only source of "being, not doing" thought. However, studying that concept in my religious context feels oddly like studying it in my aikido context.


You mentioned the ego. This comes out especially because it's something my instructor at Carleton mentions often. For instance, he'll frequently say, "Aikido is about letting go of the ego." One of his more eloquent remarks, I think, included a pause and reversal: "Aikido is about oneness with -...no, not /with/. Just oneness." I found early on that I would put my attention into myself. This often led to unsychronized technique, or muscled technique. When I started thinking more in terms of reaction - guiding when nage, following when uke, but with a sense of the two of us as a whole as well - my technique at once softened and began to develop aiki timing. I think that my study of Christianity is also centered around countering my natural arrogance and tendency to pat myself on the back. I think I had a delusion that I was some kind of saint going for years...

Last edited by Paul Sanderson-Cimino : 03-26-2004 at 09:20 AM.
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Old 04-01-2004, 02:27 PM   #9
Anders Bjonback
Dojo: Boulder Aikikai
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Quote:
James Growney (jgrowney) wrote:
Paul Sanderson-Cimino,

Interesting comments. Particularly about the development of ego. So in what way has your religion changed or enhanced your waza?

Anders Bjonback,

In which scenario was your waza better; working for your benefit or for the benefit of the kids?
My aikido is better when working with more advanced people, people with better ukemi who don't let me get away with doing stupid things. Because I was working with beginners when working with the kids, my waza was worse. But so what? It was a much more meaningful experience. I went though some psychological trouble in middle school, being in an uncaring system that was toatally unsympathetic with my learning disabilities, I was almost suicidal and my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder almost ruled my life; I had no friends whatsoever, and no real friends until I came to college, so I always felt alone. I'm glad there's something out there to help kids who have gone through way worse things than I did, and I was glad to participate in it. I found it healing in a weird way.

"For peace and happiness are presences, not objects we can grasp and hold onto."
--Lilian Smith
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Old 04-16-2004, 09:03 AM   #10
jgrowney
Dojo: Rochester New York Aikido Club
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Mark Uttech,

After reading your post and doing some searching on the net, I found this:

http://www.shotokai.com/ingles/filosofia/mondozen.html

I must say that it was a phenominal read. Moreover, his description of breathing seems to be the same (or at least pointing towards it) as Seiseki Abe Sensei. I really was able to identify with what I read.

Thanks,

Jim

Jim Growney
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Old 04-21-2004, 04:12 AM   #11
tedehara
 
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Re: spiritual disciplines in relation to waza

If memory serves me correctly, the Microbiotics Institute was close to the Hombu dojo in Tokyo. So several top instructors also practice Microbiotics.

In the Ki Society many of the traditional spiritual disciplines are taught in Ki development classes. These include ki meditation, breathing exercises, ki exercises, misogi practice and even a shiatsu method called Kiatsu-ho.

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 04-21-2004, 08:46 AM   #12
akiy
 
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Re: spiritual disciplines in relation to waza

Quote:
tedehara wrote:
If memory serves me correctly, the Microbiotics Institute was close to the Hombu dojo in Tokyo. So several top instructors also practice Microbiotics.
You probably mean macrobiotics...

-- Jun

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Old 04-22-2004, 08:10 AM   #13
jgrowney
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Re: spiritual disciplines in relation to waza

Ted,

So how do those practices (in your personal experience) relate to your waza?

I think on a very physical level macrobiotics (from a dietary perspective) is very low in animal protein. This naturally has caused (me) to lose a certain amount of muscle mass. This in turn has made me physically a bit weaker and therefore forced me to find another way to do technique.

Necessity is the mother of invention!
Jim

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Old 04-25-2012, 04:06 PM   #14
Kacuhajabi
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Re: spiritual disciplines in relation to waza

Is there anyone else doing macrobiotics? I started some months ago and it has huge impact on my training. Everything got much better. Like Jim said - I'm more relaxed, patient, flexible, got better balance, endurance, straighter posture and much better perception of techniques and reactions to the actual situation.

I haven't found the right plate yet. Does anyone have any tips?
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:37 PM   #15
mathewjgano
 
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Re: spiritual disciplines in relation to waza

Quote:
Johana Mullerova wrote: View Post
Is there anyone else doing macrobiotics? I started some months ago and it has huge impact on my training. Everything got much better. Like Jim said - I'm more relaxed, patient, flexible, got better balance, endurance, straighter posture and much better perception of techniques and reactions to the actual situation.

I haven't found the right plate yet. Does anyone have any tips?
I don't have any tips, but my teacher has been eating a macrobiotic diet for quite some time. If you look up Tsubaki America Grand Shrine, you might be able to get pointed in some good directions.
Glad it's workng so well for you!
Good luck,
Matt

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Old 04-26-2012, 06:23 AM   #16
Kacuhajabi
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Re: spiritual disciplines in relation to waza

Thanks a lot, Matt. I'll try it.
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Old 04-26-2012, 08:17 AM   #17
phitruong
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Re: spiritual disciplines in relation to waza

is macrobiotic diet involve macaroni and cheese? i am ok with the macaroni, but the cheese would be too much for my ki.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 04-26-2012, 12:13 PM   #18
Kacuhajabi
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Re: spiritual disciplines in relation to waza

There's nothing prohibited in macrobiotics. There just some things that are not recommended and cheese is unfortunately among them.
But pasta and tofu (cheese from soya) are eaten regularly. There are many varieties of tofu cheese: natural, smoked, fried, marinated, select, vegetable, with garlic etc.
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