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  #26  
Old 08-21-2012, 08:26 PM
Ross Robertson
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It Has to be Felt #0

Is what you are doing at this very moment the most worthwhile use of your time?

What is the difference between martial proficiency and thuggery?

In civilian self-defense, which is more important: damaging/apprehending the assailant, or liberating the prey and...

Last edited by akiy : 08-21-2012 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 09-19-2012, 07:47 AM   #25
Chris Knight
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

me? i cant do any of it - yet, just calling it as I see it

I suppose void could be a word to "describe" how it feels - dependant on how the practitioner "wants" you to feel it
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Old 09-19-2012, 07:48 AM   #26
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Can someone explain me why this column has got the same title like the series started by Ellis Amdur?
I don't get the connection or the intention of that? I simply was surprised when I opened it and found something completely different under the same title.

Also I can't connect to the questions:
They seem to point to a kind of "political/social" or "conflict-managing" or "peacemaking" Aikido? Is this existing in the US? This would be different from what I know and what I experience over here.

I hope, I don't offend anyone. I just wonder, what this is about.
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:02 AM   #27
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Quote:
Chris Knight wrote: View Post
me? i cant do any of it - yet, just calling it as I see it

I suppose void could be a word to "describe" how it feels - dependant on how the practitioner "wants" you to feel it
I was using 'you' in the 'y'all' sense.

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Old 09-21-2012, 08:30 AM   #28
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Quote:
Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post
Can someone explain me why this column has got the same title like the series started by Ellis Amdur?
I don't get the connection or the intention of that? I simply was surprised when I opened it and found something completely different under the same title.

Also I can't connect to the questions:
They seem to point to a kind of "political/social" or "conflict-managing" or "peacemaking" Aikido? Is this existing in the US? This would be different from what I know and what I experience over here.

I hope, I don't offend anyone. I just wonder, what this is about.
So far it appears that no one can explain to you why this column has the same title as the one which was started by Ellis Amdur. The person who wrote this column is the one who should know.

So why did you use the same title Ross?

Regards

Carl
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:37 AM   #29
Diana Frese
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Maybe I should wait for Ross to answer, but it appears to me as if Ross is mentioning several issues that are important to how different people feel about Aikido, their attitudes so the title of Ellis' column inspired him to a different track of the word "feeling".
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Old 09-21-2012, 04:13 PM   #30
R.A. Robertson
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

It's fair that I should explain myself.

First, I want to be clear: this column is not meant as an attack on Ellis or his columns.

It is, however, a response to a number of things that I've read in them, statements from various authors. Since we are not allowed to have dialogue with the authors in the context of those columns, I've opted to use my own soapbox (graciously provided by Jun) as a vehicle to let some of my feelings out in the form of questions.

Carsten writes:
Quote:
Also I can't connect to the questions:
They seem to point to a kind of "political/social" or "conflict-managing" or "peacemaking" Aikido? Is this existing in the US?
Yes. But it is not unique to the US. Aikido is not aikido if it is stripped of its politcal/social relevance, or its conflict-managing and peacemaking aspect. And, I will add, it is not aikido if it is stripped of its martial aspect.

As to the Void, I will (yet again) quote O Sensei, who reportedly (and in translation) said

Except for blending with the void
There is no way to understand
The Way of Aiki.

and

If you have not linked yourself to true emptiness,
you will never understand The Art of Peace.

I consider these things to be solid, practical recommendations by the Founder. I do not agree (or understand) everything O Sensei said, and I mistrust those who say they do. But in this case, I think there is something worthy of careful consideration.
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Old 09-21-2012, 05:03 PM   #31
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Quote:
Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
Aikido is not aikido if it is stripped of its politcal/social relevance, or its conflict-managing and peacemaking aspect. And, I will add, it is not aikido if it is stripped of its martial aspect.
I like this example of a "politcal/social relevance" and the "martial aspect" because it shows the considerable freedom one has in applying context

Quote:
"Ueshiba Sensei's techniques are genuine, you know. They can be applied to anything, including financial, political or military matters. For example, the air strike against Pearl Harbor was a method of irimi tenkan. Because the Japanese bombers flew there in front of the American Air Force, the men at Pearl Harbor thought that they were American troops. That was irimi tenkan. I heard that the Japanese headquarters talked about applying this irimi tenkan in their tactics."

-- http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=394
As to "conflict-managing and peacemaking". I suppose it's there too as long you are OK with living in the greater co-prosperity sphere

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Old 09-21-2012, 05:25 PM   #32
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Wonderful reference. Thank you, David.
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Old 09-21-2012, 08:44 PM   #33
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Quote:
Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
It's fair that I should explain myself.

First, I want to be clear: this column is not meant as an attack on Ellis or his columns.

It is, however, a response to a number of things that I've read in them, statements from various authors. Since we are not allowed to have dialogue with the authors in the context of those columns, I've opted to use my own soapbox (graciously provided by Jun) as a vehicle to let some of my feelings out in the form of questions.
Thank you for the clarification.

For my part, I don't necessarily disagree with your feelings, it was more how they were targeted. As I understand it, there is no problem regarding discussing the columns on a separate thread. Perhaps you could quote some of the relevant parts that you have these feelings about?

Regards

Carl
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:28 AM   #34
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Hya Ross

A really nice post and a very important one imho...so much said and not said too : )...a difficult subject.

For sure it's very easy to go wrong even when you think you're going in the right direction.....and how will you know until you get there? here's hoping everyone stays in the light...
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Old 09-23-2012, 05:15 AM   #35
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Thank you Ross for your detailed answer!

Quote:
Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
Aikido is not aikido if it is stripped of its politcal/social relevance, or its conflict-managing and peacemaking aspect.
And thank you for being this clear!
I was a bit baffled. In all those years I've practiced with a lot of different people. I never heard someone state so firmly that what I learn and teach would not be aikidō. So I was unsure about how and what to reply.
I decided to just take note of your statement. If this is your truth it's fine with me. I myself will simply go on learning, practicing, teaching what I know as aikidō. For me it has got it's worth/merit in itself, no matter you call it.
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Old 09-23-2012, 08:57 AM   #36
Ernesto Lemke
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2jSi...e_gdata_player

Ernesto
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Old 09-23-2012, 09:08 AM   #37
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Can't see the video in Germany ...
... but can read the title.
:-)
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Old 09-28-2012, 01:01 PM   #38
R.A. Robertson
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

First, I want to observe with real gratitude that people have kept comments and disagreements civil. I knew this column could become contentious, and I'm relieved that is has not. I don't mind being occasionally provocative, but it never serves my aim to muckrake and sow discord.

Aikido is, as a friend of mine once said, a deep well. So deep that none of us limited beings can take it all in. Nevertheless, I am always perplexed by those who take a decidedly limited view of aikido and dismiss or denigrate the rest.

Two common extremes are the hard-assed militant macho types, and the new-age psychobabble types. If ever there was a left hand in need of a right hand (and vice versa), we see it here.

In order for aikido to be socially relevant, in order for it to be meaningful as a transformative way, it has to have hard physical discipline. It has to confront, in the body, life and death. It has to embrace conflict and lessons learned in combat, and find creative and constructive outcomes.

In order for aikido to be valid as a combative art, it has to offer something worth fighting for. It has to bring something new to the equation that does not merely recapitulate millennia of human degradation and environmental pissing. It has to find its heart, and rise to the challenge of O Sensei's realization of budo as love.

Can we do our sincere best to see the grand picture that is aikido, and still say "this is aikido, and this is not?" I think we have to try. We may fail, or miss the mark, but if so it should not be because we refuse to even look at the immensity that is aikido.

I won't cite specific authors or columns in the "It Had to be Felt" series. And to repeat, I do think they are a valuable repository of experiences. But I find it especially troubling when senior aikido instructors, veterans with formidable experience, relate with barely disguised pride in the number of broken bones in the dojo or the number of bar brawls one has engaged in to "test" their mettle.

Doing so conveys a certain kind of toughness. But it's of a limited sort, and one that too easily serves to hide the weakness and fear behind the bravado. Discipline in aikido does require us to be tough, physically and mentally in proportion to our means. But toughness is not the same as brutality.

Without the kind of emotional toughness that impels us toward compassion, aikido is not aikido. A broken bone, deliberately or wantonly inflicted, and well outside of the necessity of medical healing, is not a victory, but a clear loss. It is a loss for the recipient, it is a loss for the community, and it is a special kind of loss for the one who inflicted it and who carries forward the delusion that they've done something special.

Dang. I think I just wrote another article. Thanks again for your patience in hearing my views, and for the respectful points of both agreement and disagreement.
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Old 09-28-2012, 01:13 PM   #39
R.A. Robertson
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Quote:
Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post
Thank you Ross for your detailed answer!

And thank you for being this clear!
I was a bit baffled. In all those years I've practiced with a lot of different people. I never heard someone state so firmly that what I learn and teach would not be aikidō. So I was unsure about how and what to reply.
I decided to just take note of your statement. If this is your truth it's fine with me. I myself will simply go on learning, practicing, teaching what I know as aikidō. For me it has got it's worth/merit in itself, no matter you call it.
To be clear, are you stating that your aikido as you know and teach it is by design devoid of social or political relevance? Are all elements of conflict-management and peacemaking absent, or for that matter, forbidden? I want to be sure I'm not misunderstanding you.

How would you describe the basis for the worth/merit of your art in itself? In what way is aikido meaningful to you and your students?
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Old 09-28-2012, 01:37 PM   #40
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Quote:
Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
Yes. But it is not unique to the US. Aikido is not aikido if it is stripped of its politcal/social relevance, or its conflict-managing and peacemaking aspect.
I think that Hiroshi Tada addressed this point a little bit in part 5 of the "Budo Body" interview, when he discussed the difference between ethics, or morals, and Budo.

Isn't political relevance a little tricky? Would political relevance to a conservative Republican mean the same thing that it does to a liberal Democrat? Doesn't social relevance, if we're talking about values, have the same problems?

Or am I misunderstanding what you mean by political/social relevance...

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-28-2012, 05:20 PM   #41
R.A. Robertson
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
[\] Isn't political relevance a little tricky? Would political relevance to a conservative Republican mean the same thing that it does to a liberal Democrat? Doesn't social relevance, if we're talking about values, have the same problems? [\]
Yes. Very tricky. And yes, many divergent interpretations and agendas. Always a plurality of competing values and world views. Thankfully!

It would be a loss if aikido could magically and miraculously make all this disappear, to unify human thought into a single monolithic dogma. Naturally I would oppose this.

However, I think it should be productive to ask if aikido training has anything to offer how we approach such differences. If, in the United States, Republicans and Democrats, or liberals and conservatives everywhere, could dialogue in aikido's particular brand of constructive adversity? Can we get fundamentalists and secularists to work together on worthy charitable causes?

The world and its many paths can get there without what we explicitly call "aikido." But if aikido does not actively and self-consciously participate in this social process -- not so much to take sides, but to bring factions together to make something larger and more coherent -- then I can't for the life of me see it as something to brag about.

Thank you for the article reference by the way, and your work as translator. These are the things that enrich us, individually as well as socially.
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Old 09-28-2012, 05:56 PM   #42
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Quote:
Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
However, I think it should be productive to ask if aikido training has anything to offer how we approach such differences. If, in the United States, Republicans and Democrats, or liberals and conservatives everywhere, could dialogue in aikido's particular brand of constructive adversity? Can we get fundamentalists and secularists to work together on worthy charitable causes?

The world and its many paths can get there without what we explicitly call "aikido." But if aikido does not actively and self-consciously participate in this social process -- not so much to take sides, but to bring factions together to make something larger and more coherent -- then I can't for the life of me see it as something to brag about.
So you're thinking of Aikido as a negotiation technique? Something along of Terry Dobson's "Giving in to get your way"?

Personally, I don't see much of a real track record for that in Aikido - not even from Morihei Ueshiba himself...

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-28-2012, 08:35 PM   #43
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Quote:
Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
However, I think it should be productive to ask if aikido training has anything to offer how we approach such differences. If, in the United States, Republicans and Democrats, or liberals and conservatives everywhere, could dialogue in aikido's particular brand of constructive adversity? Can we get fundamentalists and secularists to work together on worthy charitable causes?

The world and its many paths can get there without what we explicitly call "aikido." But if aikido does not actively and self-consciously participate in this social process -- not so much to take sides, but to bring factions together to make something larger and more coherent -- then I can't for the life of me see it as something to brag about.
In view of Christopher Li's response to this, on aikido as a form of negotiation, I think I need to come in here. Negotiation is one aspect of communication, which is also one aspect of a wider frame of discourse, commonly called rhetoric. In terms of rhetoric, Japan and the USA are at opposite ends of the spectrum and it would not be surprising if this opposition were not also found in an art like aikido, which is fundamentally based on Japanese culture and values. Yes, I know that postwar aikido can be called ‘international' in some sense, but this is ex post facto, so to speak.

I believe the models of rhetoric commonly found and taught in the US are based on Greek models and a very good example of this is Lincoln's address at Gettysburg, which is based on the oratory of Pericles. The Greek model was fundamentally adversarial, since the speeches were aimed at an audience, of jurors or electors, who would eventually vote. It was in no way ‘win-win', as the publications of the Harvard Business School might suggest. The rhetorical and logical tricks actually used during debate were originally catalogued by Aristotle in his Topics and Refutations Against the Sophists. The model of negotiation taught by those such as Howard Raiffa or Roy Lewicki is an American development of the original Greek model and parallels the later history of western rhetoric. This rhetorical tradition was based on Aristotle's Organon and his Rhetoric & Poetics.

This rhetorical tradition has some very interesting parallels with the Chinese rhetoric that flourished at the time of the Mohists. However (1) Chinese rhetoric followed its own path after this date and (2) these are not the only rhetorical traditions that exist. Ancient Egypt, ancient Mesopotamia and ancient India also had their own traditions of rhetoric that were certainly not Greek, but—and this is very important—these traditions were not seen as distinct subjects with their own internal structure and rules. Indian rhetorical forms, for example, were seen as a part of general ethical discourse and this is certainly true of Buddhist rhetoric. These traditions were overwhelmed by the Greek / western model, but certainly did not disappear.

It is a subject of great interest that Japan does not have a tradition of rhetoric and there are very few books on rhetoric, especially on negotiation, for example, written by Japanese scholars. Those that are tend to follow the postwar American dialectical models of ‘win-win' etc, but in my experience the Japanese do not actually follow these models in practice and 'win-win' is certainly not a model in aikido.

So when we talk of aikido as a martial art that is essentially an art of negotiation or conflict resolution, I think there is some anachronism here, for I believe that neither the Founder himself nor his son Kisshomaru ever saw the art in these terms.

Best wishes,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 09-28-2012 at 08:39 PM.

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Old 10-02-2012, 06:44 AM   #44
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Quote:
Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
To be clear, are you stating that your aikido as you know and teach it is by design devoid of social or political relevance?
Yes.

Quote:
Are all elements of conflict-management and peacemaking absent, ...
Yes.

Quote:
... or for that matter, forbidden?
There are no restraints or proscriptions in the aikidō I know. Nothing is forbidden. The aspects you mentioned are just not topic of our practice. They just do not occur.

Quote:
I want to be sure I'm not misunderstanding you.
I think, you got me right.

Quote:
How would you describe the basis for the worth/merit of your art in itself?
To make a very, very long story very, very short:
To me aikidō in the first place is a certain way of body work that helps to connect my body and helps to connect me myself to my own body. Kneading and connecting the body, polishing the mind, developing the self, growing. It's a way of individualistic personal growth using a certain form of body work.

Because aikidō is a definite form of bodywork of a certain person, there is no way it can "get outside", no way to play a role on the pollitical or social stage. Connecting your toe to your thumb is very interesting, maybe helpfull for the person doing it. But it is in no way of political or social relevance.

The outcome of this bodywork is designed to be martially effective. It is designed to defend against bodily - not verbal! - attacks. To manage bodily - not intellectual - conflicts. There exist beautyfull methods of conflictmanagement and peace making. I very much recommend the Non-Violent-Communication of Marshall Rosenberg. Because aikidō is body work it is not needed as long as talking is possible.

Finally: What I know as aikidō, what I learn for nearly 19 years now, what I try to teach since six years now is a Japanese budō.
We have a lot of people here who know more than I do about both parts of this term: Japanese and budō. Much more than I do. But I think that it is obvious that a japanese budō is just different ... ?!
budō is just not designed to solve problems or fit into the schemes of the questions of our culture, isn't it?
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Old 10-02-2012, 07:47 AM   #45
Diana Frese
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Though I am still reading around in this excellent thread, which has attracted so many great posters and their posts, I am going to jump in again, because perhaps my advanced age (cough, cough) and lack of much training in recent decades, makes my early training and learning stand out in my memory.

Among my teachers in those early years were Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei, Mitsugi Saotome Sensei, and Terry Dobson Sensei. Many continued to study with them, I ended up changing jobs and getting married and staying connected with my birth family and my in-laws, which took a lot of time and focus, though I always wanted to get back to practicing Aikido. Like so many others I have read about on Aiki Web!

I was fortunate to learn from all three, and others, so that is why this thread and the OP and all the other posts are so fascinating to me. Frankly it didn't really bother me, I just accepted it as different "takes" on what Aikido meant to each teacher, and their ways of transmitting it. Terry was known to take educators, business people, and use the physical metaphors of Aikido to teach conflict resolution at special workshops at their schools or offices. He was a pioneer in this and I was very fortunate to be at that time and place, partly due to the fact my small YMCA dojo at the time was affiliated to the larger New Haven Aikikai, which went to seminars at Bond Street Dojo.

But I also had ties to my original dojo, which was New York Aikikai. I find it hard to accept the notion that just because Yamada Sensei did not speak about conflict resolution in societal terms, that it was not a strong basis of what was taught, how to "neutralize" the attack, how to "divert" it or whatever word is appropriate, I can't think of the perfect description here, but I guess that's okay too. What crossed my mind back then, during those days, is that it must be doing something to a person's deeper consciousness and attitude to life to, in the time and space of an Aikido class, be attacked, with, say, shomen uchi, dozens of times and (usually!) not be struck and not feel resentment.

It's not that every problem in life will roll off our backs like water off a duck's back (I often refer to the "duck oil" that some people seem to naturally have that keeps them from getting annoyed at small things)... But I do remember one of the New York Aikikai flyers at the time that said something about "In our frenetic world....." although I can't remember the exact words. Also the phrase "Have you ever felt that there must be a better way?" Please excuse any inaccuracies, but I'm sure I'm correct in remembering some of the basic themes of those little advertising flyers from the late 1960's and early 1970's.

Saotome Sensei was chosen, and accepted the request of Peter Shapiro, now teaching in France from what I read on Aiki Web many months ago, because he had focused on much of the Shinto teaching that O Sensei had spoken about. Peter was also a student of Michio Hikitsuchi Sensei, who was a Shinto Priest, whether or not officially registered as such with the Japanese government. Although, as has been stated elsewhere on Aiki Web, only the foreign student special classes had weapons training, and that was what was taught in those classes, Japanese culture and Shinto were discussed after training in the little coffee shop around the corner and across the street from Aikikai Hombu.

Sorry to be so long winded, but I wanted to explain at least a little of the spectrum that was available even in those comparatively early years. I don't think I'm qualified to post in Voices of Experience, if one counts actual months trained in each year, but maybe a report from the old days will further this discussion, which is a good one and I hope it continues. In closing, I'd like to mention that Saotome Sensei emphasized that the meaning of the word Samurai had within it the concept of Protection.
Anyway, these teachers are still around, thankfully, and anyone can look them up. Even in the case of Terry, who unfortunately for us, passed on, his books and his students are still around.

Whew! Now I've said a mouthful, but I hope I've added a little perspective on the background of these different points of view mentioned on this thread. Some are from the lineages, and some are from the individual backgrounds and other studies of the individual posters and are very fascinating to me. Thanks, everyone!

Last edited by Diana Frese : 10-02-2012 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:15 AM   #46
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Just a note, Peter Shapiro Sensei, who organized the foreign students class I mentioned, was listed on the Aikikai Hombu lists of promotions in the beginning of this year as Sixth Dan. I hope he won't mind my mentioning he told us at the time back in 1974 that he had chronic back problems so he, like many others in Aikido has overcome handicaps with courage and determination. Just another note on Aikido and the people who practice!
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:32 AM   #47
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Dr. Goldsbury, thank you for the post. Lots to think about. I need to go read some old books I've got around here somewhere on constitutive rhetoric...

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
So when we talk of aikido as a martial art that is essentially an art of negotiation or conflict resolution, I think there is some anachronism here, for I believe that neither the Founder himself nor his son Kisshomaru ever saw the art in these terms.
I'll also comment that I'm reminded of a line from the Godfather. "Make him an offer he can't refuse." If the word 'negotiation' can include the notion of having a gun pointed at your head, well, maybe that isn't so far off. And furthermore the conflict is "resolved", one way or the other, at least in some sense of the word. So we have negotiation and conflict resolution, right?

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Old 10-02-2012, 11:44 AM   #48
DH
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Dr. Goldsbury, thank you for the post. Lots to think about. I need to go read some old books I've got around here somewhere on constitutive rhetoric...

I'll also comment that I'm reminded of a line from the Godfather. "Make him an offer he can't refuse." If the word 'negotiation' can include the notion of having a gun pointed at your head, well, maybe that isn't so far off. And furthermore the conflict is "resolved", one way or the other, at least in some sense of the word. So we have negotiation and conflict resolution, right?
I think Ueshiba making a statement that "Aiki allows you to exert your will on others".... pretty much blew the cooperation model right out the window. Perhaps it's interesting to consider whether or not he needed cooperation...to achieve aiki?
Dan
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Old 10-02-2012, 02:52 PM   #49
Rob Watson
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Where is the Aikikai Foundation Hospital? Habitat for Humanity? Aikido giants leading social change for justice ... etc. Spend as much time training in the dojo or out in the community doing coastal cleanup, clinic work, meals on wheels, helping at the elder care facility, soup kitchen ...

So many ways to help that are not found in a dojo. Reconcile the universe indeed.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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