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Being Committed to Aiki
Being Committed to Aiki
by Francis Takahashi
05-18-2012
Being Committed to Aiki

A commitment may be made without conditions. It can be made without being "subject to" to any reason or factor that would otherwise serve to condone or allow for any lapse in its application. As such, it is then intended to be good for "for the duration" of the commitment itself, and does not have a "shelf life".

Commitment can be said to be a fundamental habit of the psyche, entered into willingly and knowingly of the full impact of its onerous burden and absolute sense of accountability. In a sense, its purpose is to ceaselessly strive to fulfill the full terms of making that commitment to begin with way back when.

The commitment itself is not the goal. Rather, it is a key tool with which to strive for, and attain the intended goal. By its very definition, it has no end date, no sunset rule, and no termination clause beyond the full and satisfactory completion of the commitment itself.

To cease to remain committed, is to experience a death of sorts, a permanent loss of something beyond price or value, even though the body itself continues to function and exist. As such, it appears to be a loss to the spirit itself.

One may choose to make a new commitment, similar to, or even as a necessary ‘improvement" to the original one. This does not, however, justify or mitigate the fact that a commitment was indeed broken, or that the consequences of such a self betrayal would be any less felt, or inevitably absorbed by the betrayed party. In that case, a sincere and honest apology is in order.

The Japanese term "shugyo" may indeed be defined as "training, practice, an ascetic practice," or any example of a "thorough training". It also can mean "to train oneself". It is this last definition that I translate as a truly personal commitment. It is a solemn promise to the self, and what oath or primary declaration of intent can indeed be any less permanent, any less sacred, or any less total in its profound purpose and the inviolate need for completion?

Training in Aikido, or any other cultural art of choice, does not necessarily require such a commitment as outlined above. A sincere person may definitely want to train "conditionally", especially when they are aware that they may not have endless resources of time, energy, resources or support from family. Training "conditionally" then is most appropriate, as most students of Aikido do choose this method to become involved with Aikido training and its benefits.

Aikido, and the individual application of Aiki Principles to daily life situations remains an individual's right of choice. How strongly or how intently focused the interest should be exercised must remain open for the individual to choose.

Nonetheless, any and all who would declare themselves to be genuine "students" of the Aikido of the Founder, should examine carefully, after doing their honest "due diligence", and after carefully examining their fundamental reasons for choosing to create their own Aikido, and fully know why they have decided to align their growth and development with the Founder's theories, techniques and unique philosophy. Without this conscious and honest self affirmation, such a powerful commitment may be doomed before it is is begun.

For myself, I am content to train each day, knowing that no matter how often I fail, I can also choose to wake up the next day to try it one more time again.

In Oneness,

Francis Takahashi
Francis Takahashi was born in 1943, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Francis began his Aikido journey in 1953, simultaneously with the introduction of Aikido to Hawaii by Koichi Tohei, a representative sent from Aikikai Foundation in Tokyo, Japan. This event was sponsored by the Hawaii Nishi System of Health Engineering, with Noriyasu Kagesa as president. Mr. Kagesa was Francis's grandfather, and was a life long supporter of Mr. Tohei, and of Aikido. In 1961, the Founder visited Hawaii to help commemorate the opening of the new dojo in Honolulu. This was the first, and only time Francis had the opportunity to train with the Founder. In 1963, Francis was inducted into the U.S. Army, and was stationed for two years in Chicago, Illinois. He was the second instructor for the fledgling Chicago Aikido Club, succeeding his childhood friend, Chester Sasaki, who had graduated from the University of Illinois, and was entering the Air Force. Francis is currently ranked 7th dan Aikikai, and enjoys a direct affiliation with Aikikai Foundation for the recommending and granting of dan ranks via his organization, Aikikai Associates West Coast. Francis is the current dojo-cho of Aikido Academy in Alhambra, California.
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Old 05-18-2012, 07:47 PM   #2
niall
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Thank you Francis for another thoughtful column. It's an interesting question. In some of the koryu the commitment is very serious from the beginning. Prospective students might almost be discouraged from starting. But most people start martial arts without thinking too deeply about it. For some students aikido will resonate deeply and they will grow into the commitment naturally and imperceptibly.

Niall

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Old 05-19-2012, 06:29 AM   #3
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Osu, Francis Sensei,

I try to begin each day with a renewal of my commitments, whether they be to Aikido, my family, my business, or even to a single idea. I do not consider this "renewal" as evidence that my level of dedication has slipped (although that surely has been the case from time to time), but only as my taking a timely, introspective "inventory" to see that I am giving diligence to those commitments. This gives me some needed hope that I can maintain some measure of order to the chaos.

Thanks for another insightful article. You are a bellwether whose thoughts I truly look forward to reading each month.
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Old 05-19-2012, 07:03 AM   #4
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote:

Nonetheless, any and all who would declare themselves to be genuine "students" of the Aikido of the Founder, should examine carefully, after doing their honest "due diligence", and after carefully examining their fundamental reasons for choosing to create their own Aikido, and fully know why they have decided to align their growth and development with the Founder's theories, techniques and unique philosophy. Without this conscious and honest self affirmation, such a powerful commitment may be doomed before it is is begun.
How does a student of aikido complete "due diligence"?

Spiritual
If anyone reads through the entire Aikido Journal back issues, you find that many of Ueshiba's students, in both pre-war and post-war settings, didn't understand what he was saying. Jump forward to the present time and if you start reading Chris Li's blog posts, you can find that some of what Ueshiba was saying can be correlated to older, known martial sayings. Jumping back to Kisshomaru Ueshiba's tenure as head of hombu, we find that there were many changes in what was disseminated to the world about the founder's spiritual message. Mention of the "kami" were gone. Mention of the actual names of the kami were gone. All replaced with generic terms more fitting to a world wide audience. A student of aikido would be lead astray thinking that all those replaced terms are what the founder, Morihei Ueshiba, actually believed. How would you suggest that aikido students examine and complete due diligence in this area?

Martial
If anyone reads through the entire Aikido Journal back issues, you find that Ueshiba was known for showing some amazing feats. His push tests are very well known. (I have a thread dedicated to just this subject here on Aikiweb for those wanting to do the research.) Ueshiba's power, even in his old age, was very well known. Mochizuki, a gifted and skilled man in the martial world, himself writes about Ueshiba's power. Which student in the aikido world can even begin to understand how to achieve those skills? If a beginning student does the research and then looks to their teachers and their teacher's teacher and does not see Ueshiba's skills being replicated after 40 years of training, how can that student complete due diligence? How would you suggest that aikido students examine and complete due diligence in this area?

Takahashi sensei, you bring up excellent points. I completely agree with you that aikido students should be doing their due diligence and examining carefully the founder's theories, techniques, and philosophy and that is why I have asked you how they should do that. They are tough questions but I agree with you that they should be asked, especially of our teachers. You have a long and distinguished background in aikido. The people I know speak highly of you, so don't take this post as anything negative or derogatory. There is no animosity behind my post. I'm asking you because you broached the subject in your column.

Thank you,
Mark
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Old 05-20-2012, 01:26 AM   #5
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Greetings Niall,
Not sure that there really is a way to adequately prepare a prospective student for the rigors, challenges and frustrations consistent with making a uncompromising commitment to train seriously. Neither does it seem to be within our abilities to understandably demonstrate the real joys, benefits and incredible self satisfaction their efforts can achieve. Perhaps it is enough for us, as dedicated instructors, to set and maintain the highest example possible, for as long as we can. This is how I view and appreciate the gifts from those who mentor me.
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Old 05-20-2012, 01:34 AM   #6
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Hi Clark,
The daily affirmation of your personal goals and priorities is just not the same as recommitting to them, I do not see any need for you to repeat the great work you have already done in making your hard commitments a long time ago.

I agree that we do need to be kind to ourselves on occasion, and seek respite from our shugyo, if only to better appreciate them for what they mean to us.

Thanks, as always, for your generous support and rare insights.
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Old 05-21-2012, 09:52 PM   #7
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Hello Mark,

"Due diligence" should be performed, not only prior to any major decision making, but throughout an entire lifetime of research, reassessment, and review of the study of choice. Otherwise, we may surely miss many an important discovery that will reveal itself without warning or lost forever due to inattentive neglect. History, like ocean bottom sedimentation, is remorseless in its accretion of invaluable and irrefutable evidence that creation and innovation are constant forces indeed.

As enticing as ongoing translations and "expert" opinions may appear, appropriate caution is advised, as history is replete with troublesome and unfortunate falsehoods that have resulted from such wholesale and naive acceptance of otherwise enticing "facts". No judgments intended, but we should all continue with our own "due diligence" whenever we encounter the additional conversations being offered, and to possible innuendos, specious theories and circular arguments that may and do arise. Again, perhaps we need to trust in our own individually crafted and supervised daily training, to provide the the constant stream of useful questions, answers, and understandings we all seek.

I love the Aikido Journal, and admire the editor Stan Pranin immeasurably. Again, much of the content are "stories", which remain largely unauthenticated, lacking accepted provenance, and absent the time consuming effort of legitimate scholastic scrutiny. We should enjoy these marvelous glimpses and recounting of the events and personalities of the past, without succumbing necessarily to the romance and idealism, and especially not without careful and thorough examination and honest scrutiny. Large tablets of salt suggested.

Mark, not only should serious students of Ueshiba Aiki do their requisite "due diligence" with the teachings, techniques and traditions of the Founder, but also to the similar contributions from all the great mentors and originators throughout navigable history. Further, we need to apply equally honest and intense scrutiny on our present teachers and historians, as well as to ourselves on a daily basis. After all, isn't the current crop of students, teachers and innovators the very source of future leaders and potential giants of Aiki?
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Old 05-22-2012, 04:27 PM   #8
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Hello Mark,

"Due diligence" should be performed, not only prior to any major decision making, but throughout an entire lifetime of research, reassessment, and review of the study of choice. Otherwise, we may surely miss many an important discovery that will reveal itself without warning or lost forever due to inattentive neglect. History, like ocean bottom sedimentation, is remorseless in its accretion of invaluable and irrefutable evidence that creation and innovation are constant forces indeed.

As enticing as ongoing translations and "expert" opinions may appear, appropriate caution is advised, as history is replete with troublesome and unfortunate falsehoods that have resulted from such wholesale and naive acceptance of otherwise enticing "facts". No judgments intended, but we should all continue with our own "due diligence" whenever we encounter the additional conversations being offered, and to possible innuendos, specious theories and circular arguments that may and do arise. Again, perhaps we need to trust in our own individually crafted and supervised daily training, to provide the the constant stream of useful questions, answers, and understandings we all seek.

I love the Aikido Journal, and admire the editor Stan Pranin immeasurably. Again, much of the content are "stories", which remain largely unauthenticated, lacking accepted provenance, and absent the time consuming effort of legitimate scholastic scrutiny. We should enjoy these marvelous glimpses and recounting of the events and personalities of the past, without succumbing necessarily to the romance and idealism, and especially not without careful and thorough examination and honest scrutiny. Large tablets of salt suggested.
It is hard to sometimes separate fact from fiction in regards to Morihei Ueshiba. However, when you have a multitude of various students who are speaking from first hand experience state certain things, it is very hard not to accept these things. For example, Ueshiba and push tests. There are many instances of people talking about this. Tanahashi does so in a Youtube video. Tenryu, over six feet tall and 240 pounds, talks about it.

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14991

Do we take all the first hand accounts of people pushing on Ueshiba as being "stories" and discount them because they have not gone through "legitimate scholastic scrutiny"? We should disregard Tanahashi, on video, talking about pushing on Morihei Ueshiba as merely a story of romance and idealism?

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Mark, not only should serious students of Ueshiba Aiki do their requisite "due diligence" with the teachings, techniques and traditions of the Founder, but also to the similar contributions from all the great mentors and originators throughout navigable history. Further, we need to apply equally honest and intense scrutiny on our present teachers and historians, as well as to ourselves on a daily basis. After all, isn't the current crop of students, teachers and innovators the very source of future leaders and potential giants of Aiki?
I agree and am glad that you believe this way. Can you have a six foot tall BJJ wrestler who weighs 240 pounds push on you and fail to move you? As you said, we need to apply honest and intense scrutiny on our teachers. Can any teacher in Modern Aikido perform these feats of push tests that Morihei Ueshiba was renowned for? Shouldn't the students of aikido be asking their teachers why they can not? Shouldn't those teachers be asking their teachers why not? Otherwise, how does one complete due diligence in regards to training in Morihei Ueshiba's aiki? Was it not Ueshiba himself who stated that Tenryu could not push him over because he (Ueshiba) knew the secret of aiki?

Mark
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Old 05-23-2012, 10:32 AM   #9
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

It is well documented that martial artists, as a group, are incorrigible romantics and idealists, perhaps more interested in pursuing dreams over accomplishing realistic and more pragmatic tasks on a daily basis. Perhaps too they are viewed with envy, and even a bit of child like jealousy by normal folk who wish they could also “be like Mike”.

It is so natural to fall in love with stories of “derring do”, impossible feats of physical prowess, mind boggling techniques, and the romance tinged exploits of our favorite heroes and heroines. If they happen to be historical figures as well, hell, all the better.

The fictional accounts by the renowned historical novelist Eiji Yoshikawa, of the legendary “kensei”, Miyamoto Musashi, are further enhanced by Musashi having actually existed, and those same battle scenes historically plausible. And who can easily forget the “Last Samurai”, depicting the exploits of the Satsuma patriot Takamori Saigo, who along with 40 like minded samurai, ushered in the death of the 400 year old feudal system in 1701, along with their glorious own.

The word “story” has its origins in what historically were “myths”, recounting in spoken form what could not easily be preserved in other ways. As such, the retelling of these stories inevitably fell prey to embellishments, poetic license, and the need for vivid imaginations to be feed even more lurid and fantastic versions of the original.

Despite the denigration by Koichi Tohei of the Founder’s personal epiphany, enhanced by a “golden” moment, wherein he chided “Why gold? Everyone knows that diamonds are more valuable!”, we can fully appreciate the exquisite moment as if we too were there. Of course, we all loved the stories of the same Koichi Tohei, who bested American Judo players, and even kid handled beefy Honolulu policemen. Why not Tenryu and O Sensei, enjoying their special moment of interpersonal enlightenment?

Yes, myths, legends and titillating accounts of superhuman exploits will always have their appeal, and rightly so. Not by facts alone can a man live, as one might say.

Nonetheless, let us not be haplessly tied to dubious “factual” accounts, and feel forever “second class”, as we could probably never hope to duplicate such events. Reality has much better “stories” in store for those who actually follow through with their honest pursuit of pragmatic, and even idealistic goals. History is replete with such accounts, although not quite with as much fanfare. Not for nothing do “Medals of Honor”, “Silver Crosses” and the “President’s Medal” exist for real life heroes we have all heard about, and possibly know personally.

Let us reserve our very best stories, for the actual accomplishments, possibly being enacted right now, by our own yet undiscovered “Best of the Best”. Those impossibly brave families dealing with Cancer afflicted kin, or of Alzheimer relatives. Those resolute firefighters, who braved the Twin Towers, and who unflinchingly march into blazing infernos of forest fires started by our lesser folk, on an annual basis.

We really do not need to primarily look to myths, legends and “stories” from the past to inspire us to make Aiki Principles come alive, and to make true differences in our own precious lives, and the lives of those we love. The best remains within us, and the best truly is still yet to come.
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Old 05-23-2012, 10:58 AM   #10
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
The fictional accounts by the renowned historical novelist Eiji Yoshikawa, of the legendary “kensei”, Miyamoto Musashi, are further enhanced by Musashi having actually existed, and those same battle scenes historically plausible. And who can easily forget the “Last Samurai”, depicting the exploits of the Satsuma patriot Takamori Saigo, who along with 40 like minded samurai, ushered in the death of the 400 year old feudal system in 1701, along with their glorious own.
Minor quibble - Saigo Takamori, of course, was born in 1828...

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Nonetheless, let us not be haplessly tied to dubious “factual” accounts, and feel forever “second class”, as we could probably never hope to duplicate such events. Reality has much better “stories” in store for those who actually follow through with their honest pursuit of pragmatic, and even idealistic goals. History is replete with such accounts, although not quite with as much fanfare. Not for nothing do “Medals of Honor”, “Silver Crosses” and the “President’s Medal” exist for real life heroes we have all heard about, and possibly know personally.
Of course, many of the stories are from people who are still alive and accessible. And of course, experiencing some of those things for yourself would change your perspective on the stories quite a bit, wouldn't it?

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-23-2012, 11:40 AM   #11
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Hi Chris,

Thank you for the correction. I was unsure of including a segment on the 47 Ronin example as well, and got historically dyslexiac.

Question. How much of "experiencing some of those things for yourself" applies to your first hand experience?

I personally did interact with O Sensei, Kisshomaru Doshu, Osawa Sensei, Kanai Sensei, Fujita Sensei, as well as a host of others.
I actually was present when Koichi Tohei uttered those fateful words.

Be clear, or steer clear.
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Old 05-23-2012, 12:15 PM   #12
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Hi Chris,

Thank you for the correction. I was unsure of including a segment on the 47 Ronin example as well, and got historically dyslexiac.

Question. How much of "experiencing some of those things for yourself" applies to your first hand experience?

I personally did interact with O Sensei, Kisshomaru Doshu, Osawa Sensei, Kanai Sensei, Fujita Sensei, as well as a host of others.
I actually was present when Koichi Tohei uttered those fateful words.

Be clear, or steer clear.
Well, everyone on your list except for O Sensei - and I have a rather interesting list of my own. Is this going to be the "my supposition must be right because I've met more important people" argument?

I'm not sure what your point is, except for comparing accounts from Eiji Yoshikawa, which makes no pretensions to be anything other than a novel about someone who's been dead for almost 500 years, with eyewitness accounts from people who are alive now or who have been alive until recently.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-23-2012, 03:58 PM   #13
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
It is well documented that martial artists, as a group, are incorrigible romantics and idealists, perhaps more interested in pursuing dreams over accomplishing realistic and more pragmatic tasks on a daily basis. Perhaps too they are viewed with envy, and even a bit of child like jealousy by normal folk who wish they could also "be like Mike".

It is so natural to fall in love with stories of "derring do", impossible feats of physical prowess, mind boggling techniques, and the romance tinged exploits of our favorite heroes and heroines. If they happen to be historical figures as well, hell, all the better.
Let me see if I can sum this up:

1. Aiki News Issue 025 - Tenryu wrote:
Sensei, with that small physique ... I couldn't budge him no matter from what angle I would push or pull once he was seated.

2. Aiki News Issue 063 - Shirata Renjiro wrote:
Other officers came saying they would like to see his strength since they heard that he was very strong. At that time we had already finished training and Ueshiba Sensei and I had finished dressing and were about to go home. Sensei stood at the very edge of the tatami of the dojo and told us to push against him using our whole bodies. First, one, then two and then three of us pushed against him but he didn't move at all. Then, the officers said they wanted to try pushing him. Even though they were students they were about 30 years old. About ten of them pushed against us from behind with all their might but Ueshiba Sensei didn't move at all. The tatami on which we were standing on started to slip backwards, but the tatami on which Ueshiba Sensei was standing didn't move.

3. Aiki News Issue 99 - Interview with Takafumi Takeno wrote:
That was only shortly after I had begun practicing aikido so I didn't really understand the high level of what O-Sensei was demonstrating. I remember that he told his students to push and pull him, but try as they might he remained unmoved, impervious to their efforts.

4. Aikido Journal 106 - Seishiro Endo wrote:
I remember one time when O-Sensei was standing there explaining something and he told me to try pushing his knees from the side. I was amazed at how soft they were. But they were soft in such a way that they seemed to defy pushing altogether, like if I tried to push further I would fall into some sort of void.

5. Aikido Journal 109 - Tohei wrote:
His posture was as solid as a rock and you couldn't budge him no matter how you pushed or pulled; yet he would toss me effortlessly without ever letting me feel that he was using any strength at all.

6. Aikido Journal 116 - Masando Sasaki wrote:
Sometimes O-Sensei used to hold out a jo and have two or three people push against it. I once had the chance to be one of those pushing, and it was really very strange the way all of our pushing effort seemed to just evaporate away.

7. Kazuaki Tanahashi talks about trying to push Ueshiba. He mentions Saito trying to push Ueshiba over, too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpWY58LWaRE

So, we can either believe Tenryu, Shirata, Takeno, Endo, Tohei, Sasaki, and Tanahashi (this is by no means the complete list either) as not being able to push Ueshiba over ... or we believe you that they are all romanticizing their accounts and it was all "derring do".

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Nonetheless, let us not be haplessly tied to dubious "factual" accounts, and feel forever "second class", as we could probably never hope to duplicate such events. Reality has much better "stories" in store for those who actually follow through with their honest pursuit of pragmatic, and even idealistic goals.
Because you cannot do what Ueshiba did, because you cannot begin to understand how he did it, then it must not be "realistic"?

This is our due diligence to the teachers of aikido who state they are doing the founder's art. Can you replicate his skills? Why not? Other people have replicated some of his skills.

Ueshiba started training in aiki in 1915 and met Tenryu around 1940 (not sure of exact year). 25 years of training. And Tenryu could not push him over because Ueshiba knew the secret of aiki. Who in aikido with 25 years of training can replicate this? Why not? Shouldn't aikido students ask this question of their teachers?

Why is it that so many students of Ueshiba talked about trying to push him over and failing? Why can't Modern Aikido teachers replicate this after 30-40 years of training?

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
We really do not need to primarily look to myths, legends and "stories" from the past to inspire us to make Aiki Principles come alive, and to make true differences in our own precious lives, and the lives of those we love. The best remains within us, and the best truly is still yet to come.
Myths and legends? Shioda, Shirata, Tohei, Tenryu, Tanahashi, Endo are all making up myths and legends about their training with Ueshiba. This is what you actually want us to believe? This is the "due diligence" you would give to us?
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Old 05-24-2012, 10:15 AM   #14
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

When I first conceived the basis for this article, I had the best of intentions. Then, I remembered that most apropos of reminders, “when Man plans, God laughs.”. Shoulda, woulda, coulda, who knew?

I accept that, while the word “Aiki” may have fresh interpretations and more recent manifestations , its emergence as a valid, genuine and all encompassing value concept for mankind began a long time ago. It is my conviction that the Founder of Aikido was the latest in a long line of geniuses, who focused on its essential merits, incorporated its lessons on an ongoing basis for his entire life, and was never satisfied that he had indeed “got it” at anytime. Even at his last demonstration at Hibiya Park in Tokyo, he is remembered to proclaim that he was “still in the first grade of Aikido”, and that there was so much more for succeeding generations to explore, appreciate and to share. His Silver Bridge was not only his to cross, but for the entirety of mankind, and for as long as we all believed in, and upheld Aiki Principles.

I truly believe as well that he would scoff at the amazing stories of his legendary prowess, his prescient sense of Ki extension to his environment, and to the adoration of his disciples then back in the day, and now, holding him up on a pedestal from afar. His was not the legacy of “stories”, firsthand accounts of his brilliance, nor of being the paragon of Aiki virtue from which all other similar accomplishments flowed, and owed their existence, or even relevance. If he could, he’d return to say “stop all this nonsense already! I did what I did for me, and me alone in my quest for excellence. If others choose to follow my lead, they are more than welcome to do so. The caveat is, and always will be, you must first take full ownership of whatever you find and accomplish, just as I did. You may not credit me for your success, or blame me for your failure. My Aikido is my own. It will cease to exist, the moment I too cease to exist. Take these same Aiki Principles, if you will, and create your own Aikido!”

I have nothing against giving due credit and attention to the recorded accounts of the Founder’s talents, or his abilities to amaze and to astound. I do not scoff at the almost deification of his achievements by those who trained with him, or are now trying to “capture lightning in a bottle” from later generations. Have at it to your hearts’ content. Make a cult of it if you like, and proclaim pre-eminence from the highest street corner. I simply do not care. Those accounts are stories to me, and will always remain so. I care not a fig for any veracity, authenticity or undeniable link to their “truth” to make my Aikido any more genuine. To my mind, it is futile and irrelevant to define our collective sense of the Founder’s vision and purpose upon events from the past, whether fictional or provenanced.

Past deeds do not ultimately matter, when there is so much to accomplish today, and well into tomorrow. We are meant to be innovators, not mere copy cats, or to simply function as wannabe clones of an impossible idea.

Aikido is not a one time accomplishment by a now gone genius. It is a word, a concept of what each and every person who is willing to pay the price of appropriate “due diligence” now, and for the rest of their lives, to make their own, and to share new findings with others of similar ambition and resolve.
Aikido is, and will always be about what more can be done to help lift the human spirit, to give it fresh and truly affirmative energy to realize the reasons why we too were born.

The “due diligence” I constantly refer to is the essential accountability for each serious student of the Founder’s example to create and fashion his own aikido from the clay of current resources, just as the Founder did, with what he himself had available. Hey, his lemonade was pretty good, wouldn’t you say?

Back finally to “Being committed to Aiki”. It is everyone’s right to choose how, when and why they define their own aikido, and the levels of commitment and intensity needed to pursue that quest. It can even be seen as a “holy grail” to discover, not in the past, or from someone else’s dreams, but within.
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Old 05-24-2012, 10:33 AM   #15
Chris Li
 
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
His Silver Bridge was not only his to cross, but for the entirety of mankind, and for as long as we all believed in, and upheld Aiki Principles.
What precisely are the Aiki Principles, and how are they manifested?

I could say, for example, that I am the inheritor of the Ballet Principles of Mikhail Baryshnikov. But if I can't explain what those principles are, how they apply, or demonstrate them at some level, then that would seem somewhat odd, wouldn't it?

I could dismiss all those stories of him leaping through the air as irrelevant past events (even though many people saw them), but wouldn't that then be just an attempt to justify my own inability?

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Make a cult of it if you like, and proclaim pre-eminence from the highest street corner. I simply do not care.
If you didn't care then...why are you writing about it?

Mostly, what you're seeing is an anti-cult - groups of people who are trying to test basic assumptions and demonstrate the conclusions for themselves.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-24-2012, 10:41 AM   #16
Conrad Gus
 
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
When I first conceived the basis for this article, I had the best of intentions. Then, I remembered that most apropos of reminders, "when Man plans, God laughs.". Shoulda, woulda, coulda, who knew?

I accept that, while the word "Aiki" may have fresh interpretations and more recent manifestations , its emergence as a valid, genuine and all encompassing value concept for mankind began a long time ago. It is my conviction that the Founder of Aikido was the latest in a long line of geniuses, who focused on its essential merits, incorporated its lessons on an ongoing basis for his entire life, and was never satisfied that he had indeed "got it" at anytime. Even at his last demonstration at Hibiya Park in Tokyo, he is remembered to proclaim that he was "still in the first grade of Aikido", and that there was so much more for succeeding generations to explore, appreciate and to share. His Silver Bridge was not only his to cross, but for the entirety of mankind, and for as long as we all believed in, and upheld Aiki Principles.

I truly believe as well that he would scoff at the amazing stories of his legendary prowess, his prescient sense of Ki extension to his environment, and to the adoration of his disciples then back in the day, and now, holding him up on a pedestal from afar. His was not the legacy of "stories", firsthand accounts of his brilliance, nor of being the paragon of Aiki virtue from which all other similar accomplishments flowed, and owed their existence, or even relevance. If he could, he'd return to say "stop all this nonsense already! I did what I did for me, and me alone in my quest for excellence. If others choose to follow my lead, they are more than welcome to do so. The caveat is, and always will be, you must first take full ownership of whatever you find and accomplish, just as I did. You may not credit me for your success, or blame me for your failure. My Aikido is my own. It will cease to exist, the moment I too cease to exist. Take these same Aiki Principles, if you will, and create your own Aikido!"

I have nothing against giving due credit and attention to the recorded accounts of the Founder's talents, or his abilities to amaze and to astound. I do not scoff at the almost deification of his achievements by those who trained with him, or are now trying to "capture lightning in a bottle" from later generations. Have at it to your hearts' content. Make a cult of it if you like, and proclaim pre-eminence from the highest street corner. I simply do not care. Those accounts are stories to me, and will always remain so. I care not a fig for any veracity, authenticity or undeniable link to their "truth" to make my Aikido any more genuine. To my mind, it is futile and irrelevant to define our collective sense of the Founder's vision and purpose upon events from the past, whether fictional or provenanced.

Past deeds do not ultimately matter, when there is so much to accomplish today, and well into tomorrow. We are meant to be innovators, not mere copy cats, or to simply function as wannabe clones of an impossible idea.

Aikido is not a one time accomplishment by a now gone genius. It is a word, a concept of what each and every person who is willing to pay the price of appropriate "due diligence" now, and for the rest of their lives, to make their own, and to share new findings with others of similar ambition and resolve.
Aikido is, and will always be about what more can be done to help lift the human spirit, to give it fresh and truly affirmative energy to realize the reasons why we too were born.

The "due diligence" I constantly refer to is the essential accountability for each serious student of the Founder's example to create and fashion his own aikido from the clay of current resources, just as the Founder did, with what he himself had available. Hey, his lemonade was pretty good, wouldn't you say?

Back finally to "Being committed to Aiki". It is everyone's right to choose how, when and why they define their own aikido, and the levels of commitment and intensity needed to pursue that quest. It can even be seen as a "holy grail" to discover, not in the past, or from someone else's dreams, but within.
It sounds a lot like you are describing the "do" part of "aikido". I think the reason your posts lately have been resonating with me is that it is the way that I find personally beneficial, over and above some elusive set of skills or abilities that may or may not be the goal.

I like the way you characterize it as open-ended and continually evolving. This may not provide the structure and security that some people crave, but I think you are correct in your assertion that it is a truer characterization of what O-Sensei was trying to teach in the big picture.

As a suggestion, maybe the whole ("aikido") is actually greater than the sum of its parts ("aiki" + "do").
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Old 05-24-2012, 04:48 PM   #17
Nicholas Eschenbruch
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Quote:
Conrad Gustafson wrote: View Post
As a suggestion, maybe the whole ("aikido") is actually greater than the sum of its parts ("aiki" + "do").
That's somehing to ponder, thanks. Helps me to focus some of my own thoughts and feelings on the matter.
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Old 05-24-2012, 05:24 PM   #18
Chris Li
 
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Quote:
Conrad Gustafson wrote: View Post
As a suggestion, maybe the whole ("aikido") is actually greater than the sum of its parts ("aiki" + "do").
Sure, but what does that mean...

Also, "more than the sum of its parts" assumes that the parts are all in place.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-24-2012, 06:39 PM   #19
MM
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
When I first conceived the basis for this article, I had the best of intentions. Then, I remembered that most apropos of reminders, "when Man plans, God laughs.". Shoulda, woulda, coulda, who knew?

I accept that, while the word "Aiki" may have fresh interpretations and more recent manifestations , its emergence as a valid, genuine and all encompassing value concept for mankind began a long time ago.
I would say that it is exactly the opposite. That aiki was a concept from long ago and that it only recently, beginning with Kisshomaru, was changed with "fresh interpretations" for a world wide audience. That can be historically upheld, but I find very little historical analysis to support your view.

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
I truly believe as well that he would scoff at the amazing stories of his legendary prowess, his prescient sense of Ki extension to his environment, and to the adoration of his disciples then back in the day, and now, holding him up on a pedestal from afar. His was not the legacy of "stories", firsthand accounts of his brilliance, nor of being the paragon of Aiki virtue from which all other similar accomplishments flowed, and owed their existence, or even relevance. If he could, he'd return to say "stop all this nonsense already! I did what I did for me, and me alone in my quest for excellence. If others choose to follow my lead, they are more than welcome to do so. The caveat is, and always will be, you must first take full ownership of whatever you find and accomplish, just as I did. You may not credit me for your success, or blame me for your failure. My Aikido is my own. It will cease to exist, the moment I too cease to exist. Take these same Aiki Principles, if you will, and create your own Aikido!"
So, you want us to believe your fantasy story over the historical record by direct students of Morihei Ueshiba? You would have us believe that all those direct students of Ueshiba, when talking about their direct first hand experience, are merely spinning stories ... wait, let me quote you directly:

"The word "story" has its origins in what historically were "myths", recounting in spoken form what could not easily be preserved in other ways. As such, the retelling of these stories inevitably fell prey to embellishments, poetic license, and the need for vivid imaginations to be feed even more lurid and fantastic versions of the original."

So, you want us to relegate those direct first hand experiences as stories and myths while you tell us the above quoted fantasy and want us to believe you? Really? Are you seriously trying to tell us this? Disregard Shirata's direct words and believe your version of what you dream Ueshiba would say? Disregard Tenryu and believe you? Shioda? Etc, etc, etc?

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Aikido is not a one time accomplishment by a now gone genius. It is a word, a concept of what each and every person who is willing to pay the price of appropriate "due diligence" now, and for the rest of their lives, to make their own, and to share new findings with others of similar ambition and resolve.
Aikido is, and will always be about what more can be done to help lift the human spirit, to give it fresh and truly affirmative energy to realize the reasons why we too were born.

The "due diligence" I constantly refer to is the essential accountability for each serious student of the Founder's example to create and fashion his own aikido from the clay of current resources, just as the Founder did, with what he himself had available. Hey, his lemonade was pretty good, wouldn't you say?
Due diligence in regards to Morihei Ueshiba? How about Ueshiba's 99% influence in his martial career was Sokaku Takeda and Daito ryu. His lemonade recipe was straight from Takeda and yes, it was exemplary. Due diligence for the serious student of the founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, would be to search for the aiki that created the giants: Takeda, Ueshiba, Horikawa, Sagawa, Kotaro, etc.

But, I speak only to the assembled aikido students, for you have yet to answer any of my questions. IMO, worse yet, you have not shown any of us that you, yourself, have done due diligence.

Mark
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Old 05-24-2012, 08:15 PM   #20
graham christian
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Quote:
Conrad Gustafson wrote: View Post
It sounds a lot like you are describing the "do" part of "aikido". I think the reason your posts lately have been resonating with me is that it is the way that I find personally beneficial, over and above some elusive set of skills or abilities that may or may not be the goal.

I like the way you characterize it as open-ended and continually evolving. This may not provide the structure and security that some people crave, but I think you are correct in your assertion that it is a truer characterization of what O-Sensei was trying to teach in the big picture.

As a suggestion, maybe the whole ("aikido") is actually greater than the sum of its parts ("aiki" + "do").
Reminds me of an article I read lately. A guy who was invited to join the monks going up a mountain to a pool and waterfall to do their meditation. He was told to bring a walking staff.

He turned up with a jo and the leader of the monks recognized it and tild him it was an aikido jo and not a walking staff and proceeded to tell him how to walk up the mountain properly. Even the way to do so was fascinating as it involved pressing your big toe down on each step to serve as a reminder in every step to be here spiritually in the present. He also found that the monks blew these konchos on the way but actually each time they did it they were in a certain posture. The same as the stance in Aikido.

Anyway, later, after the meditations the monk proceded to hive him a lesson in the jo. Turns out he was taught by Hikitsuchi Sensei. Funny thing is, and the whole point of this post, that the monk told him how once if Hikitsuchi thought Aikido would benefit the other monks. Hukitsuchi told him that It was merely a spiritual path where the techniques were just an added bit of fun so to speak and that's why others didn't understand O'Sensei. He also said that the monks were already doing it for they were already on the same path.

Peace.G.
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Old 05-24-2012, 09:14 PM   #21
Tom Verhoeven
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
What precisely are the Aiki Principles, and how are they manifested?

I could say, for example, that I am the inheritor of the Ballet Principles of Mikhail Baryshnikov. But if I can't explain what those principles are, how they apply, or demonstrate them at some level, then that would seem somewhat odd, wouldn't it?

I could dismiss all those stories of him leaping through the air as irrelevant past events (even though many people saw them), but wouldn't that then be just an attempt to justify my own inability?

If you didn't care then...why are you writing about it?

Mostly, what you're seeing is an anti-cult - groups of people who are trying to test basic assumptions and demonstrate the conclusions for themselves.

Best,

Chris
Funny example. Baryshnikov is well-known as a dancer and choreographer that gives no relevance or importance to high leaps. Even though, not being a tall person, he was very good at it. He emphasizes simplicity and genuineness rather then skill in technique. A sincere attempt has always been more important to him then a success.
His philosophy of life is not that distant from the philosophy of Aikido. Sincerity is to be found in the effort, not in the result.

Tom
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Old 05-24-2012, 10:19 PM   #22
Chris Li
 
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Quote:
Tom Verhoeven wrote: View Post
Funny example. Baryshnikov is well-known as a dancer and choreographer that gives no relevance or importance to high leaps. Even though, not being a tall person, he was very good at it. He emphasizes simplicity and genuineness rather then skill in technique. A sincere attempt has always been more important to him then a success.
His philosophy of life is not that distant from the philosophy of Aikido. Sincerity is to be found in the effort, not in the result.

Tom
Really not important. If it matters that much then replace Baryshnikov with Nijinsky.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-25-2012, 03:15 AM   #23
Tom Verhoeven
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
Reminds me of an article I read lately. A guy who was invited to join the monks going up a mountain to a pool and waterfall to do their meditation. He was told to bring a walking staff.

He turned up with a jo and the leader of the monks recognized it and tild him it was an aikido jo and not a walking staff and proceeded to tell him how to walk up the mountain properly. Even the way to do so was fascinating as it involved pressing your big toe down on each step to serve as a reminder in every step to be here spiritually in the present. He also found that the monks blew these konchos on the way but actually each time they did it they were in a certain posture. The same as the stance in Aikido.

Anyway, later, after the meditations the monk proceded to hive him a lesson in the jo. Turns out he was taught by Hikitsuchi Sensei. Funny thing is, and the whole point of this post, that the monk told him how once if Hikitsuchi thought Aikido would benefit the other monks. Hukitsuchi told him that It was merely a spiritual path where the techniques were just an added bit of fun so to speak and that's why others didn't understand O'Sensei. He also said that the monks were already doing it for they were already on the same path.

Peace.G.
Hello Graham,
Like this story! Not many people seem to be aware of the relation between Aikido and Shugendo. And there is not much written about it either, as far as I know.
Is that article that you are quoting still available or to be found on the internet?
Greetings from the Auvergne!
Tom
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Old 05-25-2012, 07:50 AM   #24
chillzATL
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post

But, I speak only to the assembled aikido students, for you have yet to answer any of my questions.
Mark
that's ironic!
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Old 05-25-2012, 08:14 AM   #25
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Being Committed to Aiki

Thank you, Francis for this column. It made me think of my choice to let go of teaching self-defense.

When I first started training in Aikido I was very weak and vulnerable. I had crazy ideas about what was right and what was wrong. I thought I was a victim in most circumstances.

After training for about a year I started seeking out self-defense classes. I took a lot of different classes and started reading and writing about self-defense. I eventually started teaching self-defense, giving seminars and teaching part time at a local community college. I did this for 14 years thinking it was my path. And it was my path for that time. All this time I continued to train daily in Aikido. One day I woke up and knew I was healed. My issues that needed self-defense had passed into the wind. I was free to let go of fear-based training. Now I train to become more peaceful and free. I train only in Aikido. I let go of my job teaching self-defense because it was not my path anymore.

For me, Aikido training is daily, special and sacred. Others may tread their own paths. Sometimes my head turns at what they say or do but it really has nothing to do with me. It is just a distraction from the truth that happens on the mat. Thanks again, for making me think.

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