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  #51  
Old 08-21-2012, 08:26 PM
Ross Robertson
Username: R.A. Robertson
Join Date: Jul 2002
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Location: Austin, TX, USA
Dojo: Still Point Aikido Center
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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 10-12-2012, 12:53 PM   #50
R.A. Robertson
Dojo: Still Point Aikido Center
Location: Austin, TX, USA
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Lots of accumulated responses by now. I wish I could get all of us in a room together for a full, real-time conversation.

Aikido as Negotiation:
Yes, I do think of aikido as negotiation. Of course I see budo as negotiation. One does not lessen the other. On a large scale, we make distinctions and create departments between the military and the State Department. But they are not really separate. Diplomacy is warfare; war is diplomacy. These/this can be done badly or with nefarious aims, or executed with great skill and toward maximum benefit for all.

East vs. West:
As a Westerner, I know better than to think I will ever fully understand the Eastern world view, and specifically that of the Japanese. Understanding in its degree is desirable, but I would consider myself presumptuous and arrogant to believe that I know, or even can know, what it means to see things from a Japanese perspective. So while I do what I think is proper to respect the Japanese origin of our discipline, I must necessarily see, explore, and relate my art from my own perspective. It's the only one I have any authority over, and the only one I have a real responsibility to report from.

That said, aikido is a human derivation, with universal potential. While it possibly might never have emerged in its particular form outside of Japan, it nevertheless is more Human than it is Japanese. Else its value is limited. If I can never understand aikido the way the Japanese do, then I must abdicate the field entirely, or claim what part of it is truly mine. Only then can I rightly have something worth sharing.

Individual vs. Social:
Another false dichotomy. Whether we're speaking of aikido or political arenas, it is a mistake to treat these as separate or opposed. Will emphasis on creating strong, independent, self-sufficient individuals automatically lead to a more perfect society? It's a start, but it can also lead to greed and tyranny. Does building a strong community that emphasizes social welfare benefit every individual? It should, but we see too often the loss of privacy and personal freedom as a result. What we do need, wherever we look, is individuals taking responsibility for their own experience, and positioning themselves to assist others in ways that foster healthy interdependence.

If you specifically don't want your aikido to have social relevance, then practice alone. If you don't want to, or can't practice alone, then realize the discipline of the dojo is one of relationships. The quality of relationships has a direct effect on the quality or your own experience and progress. If aikido gives you a greater understanding into the nature of relationships and how to do them well, then why would you not practice that outside the dojo? This is social relevance.

Aikido Outreach:
Where indeed is the Aikikai Foundation Hospital? Where are the great aikido figures operating on the world stage or with dedicated focus in their own local communities? In some sense, the fact that the question has to be asked (and indeed it does) is an embarrassment. If the best aikido has to offer is a cohort of self-aggrandized individuals, enabled by dojo brands and tribal affiliations tending their own gardens and guarding their own turf, then I'm ready to call it a failed experiment.

Of course, we need only look at the US budget proportion allocated to the Pentagon vs. the Peace Corps to see the problem is not unique to aikido.

But, in fact, the outreach is there. It's not often making headlines, It's far from universal among dojos and affiliations, but it exists. It is nascent, fragile, immature, not yet well coordinated. There are cases of viable and successful dojos that have the resources to focus some of their energy on benefiting their local communities, and this is integral to fostering the notion of self-defense. There are aikido groups around the world working together and with other martial artists on the problems of global conflict and local inequity. These groups tend to be horribly underfunded and not always as effective as could be hoped. But they're there, and you can find them if you look. Probably they could use your help, and would welcome your contributions. But if you don't like what they're doing or how they're doing it, you could always lead your own initiative. IF you have the resources. Not everyone does, and that's something we should all be working on as well.
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Old 10-14-2012, 06:27 AM   #51
Carsten M÷llering
 
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Quote:
Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
... executed with great skill ...
But bud˘ does not teach talking? aikid˘ does not?
And there are excellent methods which can be used for talking. But none of them teaches how to deliver a punch to the throat. Wich aikid˘ does.
Why confusing those methods?

Quote:
I must necessarily see, explore, and relate my art from my own perspective. It's the only one I have ...
When I meet a different context of life (be it regional or historical) I find it very interesting to learn about the different perspective of this given context. Getting to know the strange (?correct word?), the different then helps to develop oneself and to understand oneself far better.
And: I think l real learning only works when one trancends ones own perspectiv. Ohterwise you only learns what you already knew.

Quote:
... it nevertheless is more Human than it is Japanese.
Thist, I think, can only be said about certain abstractions you may get from doing aikid˘. I also thougth this when I startedt practicing. But the more I get into aikid˘, the more it becomes "Japanese". Because the more you get into details, the more you get into the context they come from. At least this is my experience.

Quote:
Else its value is limited.
Sure it is!
It's just like practicing koryű. What "value" does this have?
This is what I tried to say above: The only value it has, is practicing it. That's it.
Why do you think practicing aikid˘ should save the world, but TSKSR or KSR or ... should not? The talking of peace or love or building society we know from Ueshiba, can be found - more or less - in a lot of other bud˘ aswell.
Sure is it's value limited! Why do you assume it shouldn't?

Quote:
Will emphasis on creating strong, independent, self-sufficient individuals automatically lead to a more perfect society?
I think so. I may be wrong.
But that's simply not important: I don't practice or teach to build a better society. That's just not the aim of my practice in the d˘j˘. So it doesn't matter at all.

Like I said above: To me this menas just to confuse things. To use the wrong method.

(I myself am a very political and socially engaged person: I did political work for much years. My job helps to build a better society. I just don't need to put these aims into aikid˘. I simply practice.)

Quote:
If you specifically don't want your aikido to have social relevance, then practice alone.
Individuals just coming together, working together and going back to their lives does not necessarily create any kind of community.
(Btw. since some time about 50% of my practic is solo practice.)

Quote:
... realize the discipline of the dojo is one of relationships.
Well it is a very hierarchical relationship in the d˘j˘. It is clearly not a model for the society I want to live in. (I'm saying this albeit I'm the co-head of the hierarchy in our d˘j˘.)

Quote:
The quality of relationships has a direct effect on the quality or your own experience and progress.
This, I admit, I don't understand: I have practiced in a d˘j˘, where everybody was good friends. I've practiced in a d˘j˘ where nobody liked each other. I go to seminars, where people simply don't know each other. I know d˘j˘, which are not so hierarchical structured, like it is usual.
I clearly feel different in different scenarios. But whether I learn some aikid˘ or not, does clearly not depend on this feeling. I don't have to like the teacher or the other students to progress.
So I don't get your point here.

Quote:
If aikido gives you a greater understanding into the nature of relationships and how to do them well, then why would you not practice that outside the dojo?
?
As I said: I would not like a world that is socially structured like a d˘j˘.

Quote:
If the best aikido has to offer is a cohort of self-aggrandized individuals, enabled by dojo brands and tribal affiliations tending their own gardens and guarding their own turf, then I'm ready to call it a failed experiment.
In which way do you think aikid˘ to be an "experiment" that could fail or succeed?
If aikid˘ is seen like a philosophy or religion or political party to have a certain message how to make the world a better place. And if the experiment would be develop our world or society, it only can fail.
Because aikid˘ - as I see it so far - simply is not designed for this. It simply does not give us the right methods for this.
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Old 10-14-2012, 06:59 AM   #52
Carsten M÷llering
 
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Sorry for the orthographic mistakes! I missed the time for being able to edit my post.

... at least:
Please read "succeed" as "be successful".
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:21 AM   #53
Diana Frese
Dojo: Aikikai of S.W. Conn. (formerly)
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

I left something out of a previous post, which had gotten too long, and then work and home duties prevented me from studying the rest of the thread in depth. But I want to say that Carsten's posts are always interesting and well thought out and have a convincing background in his personal experience as he has mentioned, especially the religious point of view, so I'm going to just jump in for now and add some detail about Saotome Sensei, whom I mentioned along with Yamada Sensei and Dobson Sensei as each having different approaches to the value of Aikido to Society.

To be brief, Saotome Sensei's point of view in his lectures and conversations was that O Sensei's message tied in with present day concerns for the environment. The honeybee crisis in the news these days was foreshadowed by the problem some Japanese farmers faced as a result of the overuse of pesticides. This was in the mid 1970's. When his classes became popular with a wide variety of college students, I felt part of the reason was that his message resonated with the concerns of a lot of Americans, and that maybe he felt that in Japan, people were not ready at the time.

I respect the teachers that do not teach the connection to the environment in practical terms, that we should be directly concerned in such endeavors, it should be up to the individual. It is possibly just one of many interpretations of O Sensei's message. But "Aikido and the Harmony of Nature" is a book that is a good resource for anyone to read of the connection that Saotome Sensei feels could be made from O Sensei's teaching to concerns of the modern world.

So I believe in all three approaches, because Yamada Sensei, Dobson Sensei and Saotome Sensei were all teachers of mine, and I am grateful to them. Every day, even in my regular daily life, I see examples of how their teachings are relevant to me, even personally, and to everyone else on our little planet here.

Thanks for reading, I will go back to studying the thread whenever I have a chance. Judging by the amount of responses and their serious intents, it is one of the more important threads on Aiki Web and gets to the heart of many matters.
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Old 10-26-2012, 12:39 PM   #54
R.A. Robertson
Dojo: Still Point Aikido Center
Location: Austin, TX, USA
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Quote:
Carsten M÷llering wrote: View Post
But bud˘ does not teach talking? aikid˘ does not?
And there are excellent methods which can be used for talking. But none of them teaches how to deliver a punch to the throat. Wich aikid˘ does.
Why confusing those methods?
If aikido, or budo, does not on some level teach talking, negotiating, then it is an incomplete art. Bruce Lee spoke of the art of "fighting without fighting," and Sun Tsu and others spoke of how to avoid war, as well as how to engage it. As for aikido's tactical expressions, well, of course this is why I practice it instead of simply studying rhetoric. It's aikido's wonderful synthesis of physical self-defense and mental/emotional conditioning, and social and environmental awareness that excites me so much. That may qualify as confusion, but if so, I'll follow Neal Stephenson's lead -- much of aikido is about becoming "fused with," or "con-fused."

Quote:
When I meet a different context of life (be it regional or historical) I find it very interesting to learn about the different perspective of this given context. Getting to know the strange (?correct word?), the different then helps to develop oneself and to understand oneself far better.
And: I think l real learning only works when one trancends ones own perspectiv. Ohterwise you only learns what you already knew.
Of course. I cannot disagree. But having learned, we eventually assimilate and synthesize the knowledge and experience. We come to take ownership, and from this derives true authority and expertise. Which is to say that we should never abdicate what becomes our own, through repeated encounters with the strange. Again, this has much to do with how we can be of service to others.

This dialogue between you and me is a perfect example. I do expect to become transformed by it, specifically because you invite me to engage with the "strange." If even in small ways, I become better for it, and if being better helps me serve others, then I am grateful to you.

Quote:
Thist, I think, can only be said about certain abstractions you may get from doing aikid˘. I also thougth this when I startedt practicing. But the more I get into aikid˘, the more it becomes "Japanese". Because the more you get into details, the more you get into the context they come from. At least this is my experience.
Again, yes. But also, if you look deeply enough into the context of what it means to be Japanese (for example), I think you will find everything therein is fundamentally human.

[\]
Quote:
It's just like practicing koryű. What "value" does this have?
This is what I tried to say above: The only value it has, is practicing it. That's it.
Why do you think practicing aikid˘ should save the world, but TSKSR or KSR or ... should not? The talking of peace or love or building society we know from Ueshiba, can be found - more or less - in a lot of other bud˘ aswell.
Sure is it's value limited! Why do you assume it shouldn't?
First, I don't choose to practice koryu. Or zen, for that matter. I can of course enjoy doing things for their own sakes, and I am not against hobbies or other pleasurable pastimes. I myself have much enjoyed rock climbing when I am fit enough for it, and I don't feel any great urge for it to pave the way to utopia. Although, on a good day, nothing seems more relevant or immediate...

I would turn the question around. Why shouldn't we save (or sustain, or repair, or improve) the world? Why shouldn't aikido be a vehicle for that, given that it was specifically retooled by Ueshiba from the ancient arts and reoriented toward this idea that "true budo is the loving protection of all things?" As for TSKSR or KSR and the rest, why shouldn't they also be tools for improving the quality of life?

[\]
Quote:
But that's simply not important: I don't practice or teach to build a better society. That's just not the aim of my practice in the d˘j˘. So it doesn't matter at all.
Forgive me if you've said it before, but if so, can you restate what exactly is your purpose for your practice in the dojo? To "simply practice" is not an aim or purpose. Would you say that your practice has any purpose?

[\]
Quote:
(I myself am a very political and socially engaged person: I did political work for much years. My job helps to build a better society. I just don't need to put these aims into aikid˘. I simply practice.)
I respectfully bow to you and the work that you do. I do trust it is good work. I wish you all success, and I thank you, even from this distance, for whatever you do that has enriched me and that which I care about.

Maybe your experience of your art is a simple relief, a kind of rest and distraction from the stresses of your other activities. Nothing wrong with that.

Quote:
Individuals just coming together, working together and going back to their lives does not necessarily create any kind of community.
(Btw. since some time about 50% of my practic is solo practice.)
Sadly, what you say is true about community. But I think it takes a certain kind of sustained effort to come into regular contact with others and NOT care about them, NOT commune with them somehow.

Too, communities can be transitory, temporary, and still be rich and vital.

Quote:
Well it is a very hierarchical relationship in the d˘j˘. It is clearly not a model for the society I want to live in. (I'm saying this albeit I'm the co-head of the hierarchy in our d˘j˘.)
A good dojo culture in my view is both hierarchical and heterarchical. And that would be closer to my view of a more ideal society. Life is both vertical and horizontal. There are good and bad heterarchies, just as there are good and bad hierarchies.

In a good hierarchy, we learn from and respect those whose knowledge and experience and capabilities surpass our own, and we often do well to benefit from their authority.

In a good heterarchy, there is the egalitarian spirit of collaboration, cooperation, and a willingness to explore, experiment, create, and discover.

These are not mutually exclusive. I have experienced instances of a right synthesis of the hierarchy and the heterarchy working together, in a dojo context. It is powerful and exciting, and yes, of course I would want more of that for the larger world that I live in.

Quote:
This, I admit, I don't understand: I have practiced in a d˘j˘, where everybody was good friends. I've practiced in a d˘j˘ where nobody liked each other. I go to seminars, where people simply don't know each other. I know d˘j˘, which are not so hierarchical structured, like it is usual.
I clearly feel different in different scenarios. But whether I learn some aikid˘ or not, does clearly not depend on this feeling. I don't have to like the teacher or the other students to progress.
So I don't get your point here.
What is progress? Toward what are you progressing? When I understand this better, I might be better able to answer your question.

Secondly, liking or enjoying someone's company is incidental to caring for them, or being cared for by them. Or otherwise exchanging benefit. It helps, but it's not necessary. The central feature of community is caring for (taking care of) one another.

Quote:
As I said: I would not like a world that is socially structured like a d˘j˘.
Perhaps you have an opportunity to restructure your dojo with an orientation toward your more ideal society? Not that we expect to reach our ideals in every way and at all times forever and always, but surely we can take steps to improve our situation?

For me, a dojo is a laboratory. It is a specifically designed environment conceived as a containment area for the safe experimentation and refinement of more optimal ways of being. When these are found, I believe they should be carried out of the dojo and into the world.

Quote:
In which way do you think aikid˘ to be an "experiment" that could fail or succeed?
If aikid˘ is seen like a philosophy or religion or political party to have a certain message how to make the world a better place. And if the experiment would be develop our world or society, it only can fail.
Because aikid˘ - as I see it so far - simply is not designed for this. It simply does not give us the right methods for this.
Well... I have to admit this is very difficult to know how to respond to. What you say genuinely touches me with sadness.

I think if we study history, we come across many many instances of a religion or a philosophy or an ideology or a movement, all with grand designs to improve the human condition and make a better world. And what we see again and again is that messages of love and compassion turn to violence, power struggles, pogroms and genocides, and fundamentalist rigidity of thought and expression.

It would be tempting to conclude that all our best efforts lead only to ruin. Tempting, but facile. For if we simply look for it, we find also abundant evidence for the success of human kindness, both institutionalized and spontaneous. We face some unprecedented challenges in this century, but the clear trajectory overall is toward greater health, prosperity, opportunity, longevity, and freedom for all.

We are not there yet, and there are large and widespread pockets of resistance. The outcome is far from certain. I don't mind being at war with these backward forces.

Yet I feel what is needed is a new kind of warfare. A new kind of budo. Or perhaps, a return to the original purpose and meaning of budo, which is to serve and preserve and wage a campaign of well-being.

For myself, and for those whom I most would like to train with, we need a framework. Something that goes beyond what has been done before. Something disciplined, rigorous, and focused on finding a better way to creatively engage conflict and the problem of violence.

I do have a name for this. And while it is large enough to have a boundless set of expressions, it is still what it is, and there are things that are not it.

Are you and I doing different varieties of the same thing? Then we can agree on what is the same for us, and we can call it by the same name. If we are not, then there is nothing inherently wrong with what either of us are doing.

But then, should we call it the same thing?
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Old 11-09-2012, 04:42 AM   #55
Carsten M÷llering
 
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Quote:
Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
If aikido, or budo, does not on some level teach talking, negotiating, then it is an incomplete art.
Again: How do you teach, practice, learn talking and negotiating in your d˘j˘? What methods of talking/negotiating do you teach in concreto? How do you connect this to the waza or the bodywork of aikid˘? How do you connect those methods to the specific methods of talking/negotiating?

Quote:
... aikido's ... mental/emotional conditioning, and social and environmental awareness ...
In which way do you see aikid˘ to be emotional coditioning? How does aikid˘ teach social and environmental awareness?
And once again: How do you teach, practice, learn this in your d˘j˘? I never had this in my aikid˘ life. So I don’t have a clue what can be added to the usual keiko to meet this aim.

Quote:
To "simply practice" is not an aim or purpose. Would you say that your practice has any purpose?
Tissier sensei, when asked about the purpose of practice, once said: “I train, because it feels right to do so.”
Endo sensei once said: “I practice because there are many things I don’t know.”
I like both answers.
I'd like to add: I practice, because it kneads, opens, connects my body, because it is a way to change the body. I practice, because it helps to get away from the mind being the center and instead concentrate more on my body. I practice, to get able to move towards the dao.

Quote:
Maybe your experience of your art is a simple relief, a kind of rest and distraction from the stresses of your other activities.
Well, to be honest, practice comes first in my life. I built my family and job around my practice.

Quote:
A good dojo culture in my view is both hierarchical and heterarchical.
I don't see how a certain tradition of knowledge can be transmitted using heterarchical structures. And that’s what I think, keiko is: Transmitting a given tradition.

Quote:
What is progress? Toward what are you progressing?
Progress means the development of certain abilities of the body.
Getting softer, getting connected, getting more open, more centred and grounded while affecting the structure of uke more effectively.
Being relaxed and free while controlling uke more clearly and easily.
Getting more towards me. Unfolding the abilities of the body. Change the body.

Quote:
Perhaps you have an opportunity to restructure your dojo with an orientation toward your more ideal society?
As I said above I not only do not expect a d˘j˘ to be the image oft a ideal society. I on the contrary think this would hinder the transmission of aikid˘. But to me this is no problem, because I don’t see aikid˘ to be a way or a vehicel to create a certain society.

Quote:
For me, a dojo is a laboratory. It is a specifically designed environment conceived as a containment area for the safe experimentation and refinement of more optimal ways of being.
Wow. How can keiko be experimentation?
It’s funny that 同情 d˘j˘ means compassion, empathy. But 道場d˘j˘ seems to be a traininghall for a Japanese martial art?

Quote:
I think if we study history, we come across many many instances of a religion or a philosophy or an ideology or a movement, all with grand designs to improve the human condition and make a better world.
Yes. But how come, you count aikid˘ as one of those movements?

Quote:
Are you and I doing different varieties of the same thing?
I don't know. If I remember it right I only once in 19 years met someone who connected aikid˘ to somewhat similar ideas like you do. (He is am member of a group or association called “aiki extensions” as far as I know.) Regarding this person you won’t find his aikid˘ “different” during practice. It is only when you talk to him, that you come to know that his understanding of aikid˘ differs. So you don’t have to think about it during practice.
Wether you and I are doing varieties of the same thing may depend on how we practice.
(Regarding the German Ki-Aikido, following Yoshigasaki it is my opinion by know that we do different things. Because it is not only the thinking that is different, but also practice has not much in common.)

Quote:
But then, should we call it the same thing?
If it where different things, we both use the name we inherited. It’s just that. There is no brand or trademark. (In German forums I distinguish "Ki-Aikido" and "aikid˘". This is mostly accepted.)

Last edited by Carsten M÷llering : 11-09-2012 at 04:51 AM.
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Old 11-09-2012, 02:26 PM   #56
R.A. Robertson
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Hi Carsten,

More deeply nested quotes will get confusing, so I'm going to try to address your points without quoting all of them back.

Aikido for me is about engaging structures. On the mat, this plays out as a kind of ritual combat. For lessons to be learned in earnest, the self-defense (martial) applications have to be genuine. But...

I've never been in a fight in my life. I expect I might live out the rest of my days without ever needing to do hand-to-hand combat. If I do need it, I fully expect my aikido training to be there for me.

Still, I do engage in conflicts all the time, every day. Many are within myself, many are between me and others, me and my world. Many are of my own making, many are not. My experience on the mat is available (when I have the good sense to access it) to help navigate these structures when they do not fit well together. I can learn to find increasingly better pattern-matching strategies that promote equilibrium and flow.

For me, this can and should be applied in all arenas, not just conflict areas, but also in wellness and opportunity. So I try to do my best to use my aikido while driving, working, conversing, playing, lovemaking, in relaxation and recreation. (I'm also working at improving my ability to do aikido through writing.)

You ask how. For now I must disappoint you with a lack of details, but a broad answer is twofold:

First, by accepting that the patterns and forms of aikido can be analogues to all other life experiences. In this modality, no special modifications to regular aikido practice are necessary. However, the mindset matters, so that attention is given to how the mat relates to the larger world, and vice-versa. When this is so, washing dishes is also aikido practice. Not in a way that can substitute for mat training, but rather, they inform one another.

Second, explicit practices do exist for promoting calmness, for learning to not overreact when threatened, and how to act decisively in the face of a challenge or opportunity. These are manifold, but often involve attention to breath, tension in the body, awareness of posture and body language.

I do like your stated goals of training. The point where we may disagree is that being more "open, centered, and grounded," being more "relaxed and free" while remaining in control, and "getting more towards me [you]" all sound like extremely desirable traits off the mat as well as on the mat. And if aikido training, in itself, improves your quality of life in other domains, that sounds like a good thing.

Is it automatic? Ideally, it should be. Yet I think aikido is vulnerable to the same kind of mindset of certain religious folk, who believe their salvation and all their religious practice is satisfied by merely showing up once a week and going through the motions. I'm not getting that sense about you, except it almost seems like that's what you're arguing in favor of.

Aikido is indeed a transmission of a tradition, and that is precisely what hierarchies are good at.

Aikido is also a work in progress. O Sensei said that we should discard the old ways that do not work. Tohei Sensei himself was a true innovator. My main influences (R. Kobayashi, H. Kono) have been experiential in their orientations. Thus, my tradition, my lineage, if you will, IS one of research, investigation, and experimentation. And that's what heterarchies are optimized for.

If I quote O Sensei, it's not meant to invoke him as an ultimate authority. Rather, I will refer to some things he expressed that I strongly agree with, or am powerfully excited by. Also, for the historical precedents of how aikido has been framed and conceived.

So when I go to the mat, I try to remember that I am there to try to find a way to unite the world into one family. (I understand that to mean a healthy family that loves one another and fosters unity through diversity, rather than through monomaniacal fundamentalism.) When I go to the mat I try to remember that I am there to penetrate the mystery of why true budo is the loving protection of all things. This is the self-defense I want to practice, to learn, to teach, to promote, and to evolve.

Disclosure: I myself am somewhat connected to Aiki Extensions, and I serve on the board for Peace Dojos International.

On the subject of naming, I generally agree with what you say. There are those who would say that what I do these days is not aikido. I can't be too concerned about that. The Aiki no Michi is the road that brought me here, and as far as I'm concerned, it's still the path that I'm on. Yet I'm not prepared to say that a thing is aikido just because someone says it is. And part of the process of refinement is the continuing discovery of what a thing is, and what it is not.

By the way, I've looked at your dojo web site. The language there (admittedly through horrible Google translation) seems to generally agree with me. There are good thoughts about the value of community, and the importance of training "off the tatami." Or am I simply projecting my own interpretations into the language?

I do want to say that engaging with you in dialogue is a pleasure, and I hope I have not at any point offended you in any way. I do respect your point of view, and am eager to understand it better.
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Old 11-12-2012, 06:22 PM   #57
Janet L.
Dojo: Obiji Ki-Aikido, Lawrence, KS
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

You asked, 'When was the last time someone said to you "My life is so much better because of your aikido experience?"'

Well, I've said it myself, and not that long ago. My housemate who drug me to the dojo for the first time a year and a half ago has said it as well with some frequency.

There have been several obvious improvements in my life which go beyond the dojo walls:

My posture is dramatically improved. I was shrinking and have recovered nearly an inch in height.

My flexibility and mobility has dramatically improved. When I started I couldn't come anywhere close to touching my toes without bending my knees. Hadn't been able to in decades, if I ever could. And that's just one benefit among many.

You also asked: "Is your training a commitment or an obsession? Is it a way of life, a hobby, a contingency, an art, a sport, a philosophy?"

I would say Aikido is a darn near all-encompassing way of life. Its influence extends deeply into relationships, the way I approach disputes, it has even influenced the way I walk my dog!

That said, I'm about as likely to miss Aikido as my parents were to skip Church. In short, It just doesn't happen unless I'm out of town.

You asked: Is O Sensei still relevant? Was he ever?

O sensei was surely relevant, 'cause he taught Koichi Tohei Sensei, the first soshu of the Ki Society. Now, I understand Tohei Sensei discarded a lot of stuff he learned from O Sensei, 'cause he discovered his own variants that either worked better, were easier, or were less likely to accidentally injure uke.

A good, thoughtful column, Robertson Sensei.

- Janet.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:30 AM   #58
Carsten M÷llering
 
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

I clearly don’t understand the practice of aikid˘ to be about the structure of the meeting of two persons or actually two persons in conflict. Because the structure is set when practicing kata. It is simply given what happens.
So the meeting when set by kata is not ritual combat, but is one person performing (-> shite) some technical work and another person giving feedback (aite) through his body.
In kata – the way I understand and practice it – there is no conflict. And so there are no structures taught or even just to find, you can implement into other situations. This is simply not what we do. ln our aikid˘ the actual meeting (deai) of shite and aite is taught under just technical aspects.

Second: I think if you want to try to get analogies out of your keiko referring to structures of managing conflicts or social relationships or even other aspects of live, you have to understand aikid˘ as a way to blend with a partner via the outward or external movements. There you may find someone call it irimi to speak out the truth loud and clear. Or ura if you first accept the reasons and arguments of a discussion partner. Things like that.
I don’t know whether you can imagine what’s it like when aikid˘ is not about this external meeting, but about what happens within you yourself. And about having a partner who willingly helps you realizing “how” you are. This Training pattern does not give you analogies to be used in daily life or verbal conflicts. As far as I understand it now.

About your comparison to “certain religious folk”: You compared aikid˘ to religion more than once in this thread. To me this makes no sense. To me there is no point of comparison. In don’t see something which aikid˘ and religion have in common. When it’s me I compare aikid˘ to koryű, to bud˘, to yoga, to qi gong, to forms of bodywork like structural integration (just translated this, don’ know whether this exists in English), anatomy trains, ICMA, tai chi … . But I don’t see, how aikid˘ is connected to religion? I think I get an idea about how it is for you. But here again: I would say if you think you need religious aspects in your life, you should try to find them in religious contexts.

Quote:
So when I go to the mat, I try to remember that I am there to try to find a way to unite the world into one family.
We are definitely heading in different directions regarding aikid˘. But even in other aspects of my life this is not my concern.
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Old 11-15-2012, 02:40 PM   #59
inframan
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Ross Sensei,

At first glance, the title of your column had me thinking you must have written about training with Rod Kobayashi, or maybe Bill Sosa?

Let me just say that after reading it, I'm now thinking more about my aikido training rather than someone else's.

thanks
-Andy
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Old 11-19-2012, 01:50 PM   #60
R.A. Robertson
Dojo: Still Point Aikido Center
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Hi Janet,

I just wanted to take a moment to say that my life is better because you practice aikido, and because you share some of that with me.

Thank you,

Ross
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:11 PM   #61
R.A. Robertson
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Hi Again, Carsten,

One thing I've clearly mis-communicated: aikido is not a religion, and I strongly do not wish it to be. I am not looking for a religion, as I am resolutely secular in my orientation, and do my best to govern my life and outlook and decision processes on evidentiary premises. Sorry for any confusion about that.

One area where I do think we may diverge is on the primacy of kata. For me, kata comes after the fact. Kata is sometimes useful for isolating fleeting instances of particular dynamics for certain pedagogical purposes. But in my experience, too much emphasis on this leads to people thinking of kata as aikido. As both teacher and student, I find this restrictive when over-emphasized.

To the point, I find that the forms arise organically and spontaneously when we do aikido; but doing the forms does not automatically cause aikido to arise naturally.

My aikido tends not to be based in kata. Form happens, of course, and is useful to a degree. But I agree with (what I think might have been meant by) O Sensei when he referred to all the many techniques of aikido as "empty shells."

Ross
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:38 PM   #62
R.A. Robertson
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Quote:
Andy Strawn wrote: View Post
Ross Sensei,

At first glance, the title of your column had me thinking you must have written about training with Rod Kobayashi, or maybe Bill Sosa?

Let me just say that after reading it, I'm now thinking more about my aikido training rather than someone else's.

thanks
-Andy
Hey Andy,

Sorry to disappoint. In many ways, that would have made for a much better article, but less to my immediate concern when I first wrote the essay.

I have not yet decided if I will eventually participate in the actual IHTBF series. I do think they provide an excellent vehicle, and illuminate, if not these great teachers themselves, then at least people's experience of them. To your list, I might also add Fumio Toyoda, Peter Ting and Henry Kono.

I have gotten so much from so many, there is a real desire to convey it forward in some measure. Yet I'm afraid that when it comes to writing about these great teachers, I wind up feeling like I'm trying to shine a flashlight on a mountain. Fine for seeing where to put your foot next, but not so much for appreciating the grandeur.

But if your reflections have turned back to your own training, that's not so bad. At the same time (and in the spirit of so much of the article's subsequent discussion) I might propose that none of us really own our own training. Whatever dues we pay, whatever effort we put towards earning our belts, aikido comes to us as a gift from a long lineage and multiple channels of benefactors. And whatever self-improvements we enjoy, and whatever skill and knowledge and experience we acquire, if it is not shared with others, we become an evolutionary dead-end for all that was given us.

Ross
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Old 11-19-2012, 06:58 PM   #63
Tom Verhoeven
Dojo: Aikido Auvergne Kumano dojo
Location: Auvergne
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Ross,
Thank for all your additional explanations, I found that very insightful and interesting to read. I had never heard of the peace dojos international - just had a quick look on their website; this might be something that I will look into in the near future to learn more about it and maybe to join.
I think Aikido has a deeper layer and meaning that is not always so easy for everyone to see or perhaps has for some less urgency then for others. Or the emphasis lies on a different aspect - like training the body or looking at Aikido as kata that need to be learned.
Besides O Sensei's teachings and my own Aikido teachers, there are others whom I find a continuing inspiration - among them is Thich Nhat Hanh and a few other Buddhist teachers. Although there might be differences in details, what they have in common is that they all see the Way as a route to peace, happiness and enlightenment. Without it Aikido would for me nothing more than a exercise routine. Maybe nice to do but not very fulfilling.
Anyway, just wanted to thank you for the column and the follow-up in this thread.
Best wishes,
Tom
http://aikido-auvergne-kumano.blogsp...dfullness.html
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Old 11-19-2012, 07:15 PM   #64
Tom Verhoeven
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Re: It Has to be Felt #0

Quote:
Diana Frese wrote: View Post
I left something out of a previous post, which had gotten too long, and then work and home duties prevented me from studying the rest of the thread in depth. But I want to say that Carsten's posts are always interesting and well thought out and have a convincing background in his personal experience as he has mentioned, especially the religious point of view, so I'm going to just jump in for now and add some detail about Saotome Sensei, whom I mentioned along with Yamada Sensei and Dobson Sensei as each having different approaches to the value of Aikido to Society.

Quote:
To be brief, Saotome Sensei's point of view in his lectures and conversations was that O Sensei's message tied in with present day concerns for the environment. The honeybee crisis in the news these days was foreshadowed by the problem some Japanese farmers faced as a result of the overuse of pesticides. This was in the mid 1970's. When his classes became popular with a wide variety of college students, I felt part of the reason was that his message resonated with the concerns of a lot of Americans, and that maybe he felt that in Japan, people were not ready at the time.
I respect the teachers that do not teach the connection to the environment in practical terms, that we should be directly concerned in such endeavors, it should be up to the individual. It is possibly just one of many interpretations of O Sensei's message. But "Aikido and the Harmony of Nature" is a book that is a good resource for anyone to read of the connection that Saotome Sensei feels could be made from O Sensei's teaching to concerns of the modern world.

So I believe in all three approaches, because Yamada Sensei, Dobson Sensei and Saotome Sensei were all teachers of mine, and I am grateful to them. Every day, even in my regular daily life, I see examples of how their teachings are relevant to me, even personally, and to everyone else on our little planet here.

Thanks for reading, I will go back to studying the thread whenever I have a chance. Judging by the amount of responses and their serious intents, it is one of the more important threads on Aiki Web and gets to the heart of many matters.
Diana,
Good point! O Sensei gave the example himself in his efforts to protect local nature sites. I feel that protecting the environment is a responsibility of the community as a whole rather than for the indiviual. And Aikido can set an example. There is really nothing better than practicing in the middle of nature. And as O Sensei pointed out, nature itself can teach us a lot about Aikido. The way everything in nature is connected is a good example - human culture often miss out here. Bees are of course one of my favorite examples. Japanese bees have a In - Yo method of defending there beehive!
Thanks for your post!
Tom
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