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Old 12-18-2012, 12:35 PM   #1
roswell1329
 
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Post Aikido Isn't Bullshit

TL;DR How 1 aikidoka answered the 'Is Aikido Effective?' question for himself.

I'm a big fan of Penn and Teller, and I was enjoying a few episodes of their Showtime program Bullshit! yesterday on YouTube, when I saw the episode on martial arts. Being familiar with the show's format, I knew immediately what they would be attacking about martial arts, but I readied myself for some incoming (and sometimes well-deserved) flak and watched anyway.

The result was about what I expected. They attacked the board breaking part of some Karate, the sometimes strange and bizarre things we all do occasionally, and the total disregard of ethical and legal ramifications of some of the more brutal and questionable self-defense schools. They also took an extremely narrow minded view of statistics when they suggested that if martial arts were so effective they would expect to see many more reports of successful physical altercations by martial artist, when, in fact, I believe it's the very lack of those reports which is a statement to the effectiveness of martial arts for avoiding conflict. However, it was this warped view of what martial arts is that helped me crystallize what has been gnawing at me for a long time about martial arts, and that is the martial arts reality versus the martial arts perception. I'll explain why this has been a problem for me in a bit, but let me first respond to Penn, Teller, and the rest of the naysayers about why Aikido Isn't Bullshit.

There are 2 reasons why the statement "Aikido isn't effective" is bullshit. To begin with, Aikido is absolutely effective at what it was developed to do, and that is to neutralize sources of conflict ranging from personal conflicts you may have between things like your balance and gravity, to verbal altercations, all the way up to and including multiple attackers armed with various hitting, cutting, and stabbing weapons. It is clearly not effective at neutralizing bullets, missiles, tanks, aircraft carriers, or nuclear weapons, and it never claimed to be. The techniques for handling attackers are based on simple principles of physics and anatomy that have been around in their same basic form and used in combat for hundreds of years, and the method and philosophy of Aikido and its founder's respect toward Budo (the warrior way) are applicable to many areas of life. Now, the effectiveness with which Aikido can do all these things is totally dependent on the practitioner. Aikido takes time, focus, and dedication to master, and there will always be room for improvement. To paraphrase a well-known sensei, "Aikido works. Your Aikido may not."

The second reason the statement is bullshit is the perception of the general public of what Aikido (and truthfully all martial arts) is supposed to be, and how "effective" is defined. Popular culture all around the world has a fascination with martial arts. America, especially, is enamored with violence in our entertainment, and this popular culture has built up a martial arts ethos which endows its practitioners with superhuman, almost supernatural powers. We have images of Jason Bourne seething with pure destructive power able to vanquish vast armies of "bad guys" with little to no effort, never once encountering someone of even equal ability. This ethos is pure fantasy impossible to live up to, and what is worse is that it misses the point entirely. We do not train to have mastery over other people. We train to have mastery over ourselves, and it's a long road.

So, why does this matter to me? Simple, I'm a part of this culture, and I face these misperceptions all the time. Many of us have had the experience of seeing someone's attitude toward us shift upon learning we practice martial arts. Some will look up to me with some elevated level of respect or awe which is totally undeserved, and I'll feel a bit guilty about that until I set them straight and a bit insignificant after I do. Some will look at me with caution as if we were a threat or a challenge, and I'll feel a bit anxious about that until I set them straight, and again a bit insignificant after I do. These misperceptions about what I do affects me in subtle ways, and often times lead me to question my own training in the same damn way Penn and Teller did. And that is what has been gnawing at me until now. Even if Aikido doesn't live up to someone's standard of "effectiveness", Aikido is one of the greatest things in my life. It has given me confidence, balance, relaxation, friendship, health, temperance, and even purpose along with so many other things. So, in the end, I wrote this post as a reminder to myself for those occasions (and for anyone else who needs it) that despite many common misperceptions about it, Aikido is most definitely not bullshit.
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Old 12-18-2012, 01:01 PM   #2
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

One solution is to not volunteer the fact that you train, or get into discussions about it unless someone seems sincerely interested. Think of it like stamp-collecting: why would they care? It's not their thing, so why would you expect them to understand it, or why it matters to you? I don't think that hardcore stamp-collectors get upset because 99.999% of the people they encounter don't get stamp-collecting. They don't "have to face these misperceptions all the time", and neither do we, as long as we keep it to ourselves.
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Old 12-18-2012, 01:10 PM   #3
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
One solution is to not volunteer the fact that you train, or get into discussions about it unless someone seems sincerely interested. Think of it like stamp-collecting: why would they care? It's not their thing, so why would you expect them to understand it, or why it matters to you? I don't think that hardcore stamp-collectors get upset because 99.999% of the people they encounter don't get stamp-collecting. They don't "have to face these misperceptions all the time", and neither do we, as long as we keep it to ourselves.
This is very true, and I have learned this lesson over the years. Even then, I would still have times when I would question myself as the result of some event or interaction. I'm done with that for a while.
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Old 12-18-2012, 01:30 PM   #4
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
One solution is to not volunteer the fact that you train, or get into discussions about it unless someone seems sincerely interested. Think of it like stamp-collecting: why would they care? It's not their thing, so why would you expect them to understand it, or why it matters to you? I don't think that hardcore stamp-collectors get upset because 99.999% of the people they encounter don't get stamp-collecting. They don't "have to face these misperceptions all the time", and neither do we, as long as we keep it to ourselves.
with all due respect, I don't think I agree with this statement. O'Sensei wasn't just a great martial artist; he was an apologist or missionary to some respect in the power of Budo and his Aikido in particular to help bring peace to the world. Now Aikido isn't a religion but it does have similar values and goals. To develop character, morality, temperance, forgiveness and peace. Budo is a lifestyle. Aikido therefore sees itself as a positive force or influence within the world. If someone chooses to make Aikido their 'hobby' or integrate it into their lifestyle, even allowing it to redefine their lifestyle then they believe it has worth. Why omit or deny such a positive influence Especially if you are passionate and ethusiastic, it is incredibly hard to conceal as it becomes a part of you.

Anecdotally, I got talking about my Aiki-Jujutsu on a school trip once with a colleague and he told me that he had seen a marked increase in my confidence at work and the way in which I carry myself around the school. I was totally unconscious of any such signals I was transmitting. I don't go around flaunting I am a martial artist or reminding people I train twice a week, but people find out, it comes up in conversations and yes it means dealing occassionally with misconceptions but it is definitely not something I hide for fear or impatience of having to deal with people's ignorance.
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Old 12-18-2012, 03:10 PM   #5
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

"straight up, turn, and grab"

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Old 12-18-2012, 03:35 PM   #6
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Brad wrote:

Quote:
Aikido is absolutely effective at what it was developed to do, and that is to neutralize sources of conflict ranging from personal conflicts you may have between things like your balance and gravity, to verbal altercations, all the way up to and including multiple attackers armed with various hitting, cutting, and stabbing weapons
I think their argument is that there are better, cheaper, and safer ways to do these things.

For example: balance and gravity. Buy a 50 dollar bosu ball and do some stability exercises in your living room. Cheaper and will get you better results. Also consider doing some yoga at the Y or buy a decent DVD.

Verbal altercations. Not sure how aikido really helps us here since we do not typically practice verbal skills in aikido. I think we do a decent job of imagining what we might do in a given situation, but in reality when faced with someone who is not really all that interested in reasoning with us, well not sure we can really do much to dissuade him. Again, that was there point at the beginning and I must say i agree with it.

multiple attackers. Again, I agree with there logic for the most part. We don't see overwhelming evidence (or any) that aikido or any empty handed martial art really does much to improve our lot in life in this arena.

now I do find there are some flaws in there logic, and of course, they picked three very good examples that back up there argument.

Overall though, for the framing that they did...yeah I agree with there assessment. For self defense, there are much better uses of your time than spending it in a dojo doing what most folks do.

Quote:
ome will look up to me with some elevated level of respect or awe which is totally undeserved, and I'll feel a bit guilty about that until I set them straight and a bit insignificant after I do. Some will look at me with caution as if we were a threat or a challenge, and I'll feel a bit anxious about that until I set them straight, and again a bit insignificant after I do
awe...something I have never experienced. Most folks look at me like I am crazy for doing what I do. I don't worry about it too much cause I like what I do. also, humor goes along way in life too I have found.

Last edited by Kevin Leavitt : 12-18-2012 at 03:37 PM.

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Old 12-18-2012, 03:43 PM   #7
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Ewen,

Quote:
with all due respect, I don't think I agree with this statement. O'Sensei wasn't just a great martial artist; he was an apologist or missionary to some respect in the power of Budo and his Aikido in particular to help bring peace to the world. Now Aikido isn't a religion but it does have similar values and goals. To develop character, morality, temperance, forgiveness and peace. Budo is a lifestyle. Aikido therefore sees itself as a positive force or influence within the world. If someone chooses to make Aikido their 'hobby' or integrate it into their lifestyle, even allowing it to redefine their lifestyle then they believe it has worth. Why omit or deny such a positive influence Especially if you are passionate and ethusiastic, it is incredibly hard to conceal as it becomes a part of you.
I think it should be such a part of you that it is ubiquitous in nature. that is, it goes without saying or thought. you simply are what you are and do what you do without concern for it or what others think or see with respect to your practices, values, habits.

To wear it on your sleeve or proselytize to me shows a lack of evolvement and immaturity in ones own development.

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Old 12-18-2012, 05:16 PM   #8
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

you meant there is no bullshitting in aikido? not even at high level or low level or middle level or whatever level there is? oh dratz! here i thought i was going to spend a few years picking up some master level of bullshitting! oh, the disappointment! i am going to need some serious therapy for this. i am going to need some hot looking women and a big ugly stick with a nail in it. there might even be some potato involved. it has to be one of those therapy type.

*i need to stop reading terry pratchett*

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 12-18-2012, 05:27 PM   #9
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Aikido without a liberal amount of bs would not be Aikido.

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Old 12-18-2012, 06:51 PM   #10
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Quote:
Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
with all due respect, I don't think I agree with this statement. O'Sensei wasn't just a great martial artist; he was an apologist or missionary to some respect in the power of Budo and his Aikido in particular to help bring peace to the world. Now Aikido isn't a religion but it does have similar values and goals.
Really? Do you think it's incumbent on us to evangelize?
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Old 12-18-2012, 07:16 PM   #11
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Part of this reminded me of Minoru Mochizuki's answer to Tadashi Abe:

Quote:
“Sensei, does aikido also have kicking techniques?”**

“You fool! What do you mean by such a question? We use kicking techniques or anything else. I even used artillery. Martial arts, guns and artillery are all aikido. What do you think aikido is? Do you think it involves only the twisting of hands? It is a means of war… an act of war! Aikido is a fight with real swords. We use the word ‘aiki’ because through it we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately. Look at Sumo. After the command is given (“Miatte! Miatte!), they stand up and go at each other in a flash. That’s the same as aiki. When a person suddenly faces his enemy in an mental state free from all ideas and thoughts and is instantly able to deal with him, we call that aiki. In the old days it was called ‘aiki no jutsu’. Therefore, artillery or anything else becomes aiki.” “Is that so… I think I understand.” “If you still don’t understand, come to me again.” After that he was afraid of me and bowed to me from far off. When I went to Europe he asked me to take him as well.
Best,

Chris

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Old 12-18-2012, 11:50 PM   #12
Michael Varin
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Hey Chris,

You've posted that quote a number of times. . .

Why does it always come out looking crazy? There's some sort of problem with some of the punctuation marks.

By the way, I love the statement. You've just got to make it easier to read

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 12-18-2012, 11:58 PM   #13
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
Hey Chris,

You've posted that quote a number of times. . .

Why does it always come out looking crazy? There's some sort of problem with some of the punctuation marks.

By the way, I love the statement. You've just got to make it easier to read
Hmm, just copy and paste - seems OK to me...

Best,

Chris

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Old 12-19-2012, 12:01 AM   #14
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
Why does it always come out looking crazy? There's some sort of problem with some of the punctuation marks.
It's the encoding. If I set my browser's encoding to UTF-8 (alt-key > view > encoding > Unicode), the post comes out right with quotes and double quotes.

But I have this issue all the time. User names with umlauts are also messed up unless I specify a different encoding. I'm not enough of a web expert to tell how issues like this can be fixed permamently for all users.
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Old 12-19-2012, 12:03 AM   #15
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Quote:
Dave de Vos wrote: View Post
It's the encoding. If I set my browser's encoding to UTF-8 (alt-key > view > encoding > Unicode), the post comes out right with quotes and double quotes.

But I have this issue all the time. User names with umlauts are also messed up unless I specify a different encoding. But usually I have to set my browser's encoding to a different encoding again to view those correctly. I'm not enough of a web expert to tell how issues like this can be fixed permamently for all users.
That's it - sometimes Aikiweb doesn't get certain encodings done right, happens with Japanese sometimes too.

Best,

Chris

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Old 12-19-2012, 06:01 AM   #16
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Really? Do you think it's incumbent on us to evangelize?
No. But stamp collecting is a hobby, so by comparing Aikido to stamp collecting you are implying they have the same merit, which I don't think they do. People in the Aikido community venerate O'Sensei as someone who has something to teach them about Budo and about life. We wouldn't be discussing O'Sensei if he hadn't of opened his own dojo and began teaching his style of Aiki-Budo. The fact that he developed Aikido and then gave the responsibility of disseminating his art to his disciples shows that O'Sensei believed in his life's achievement. He had an uncompromising conviction in the benefits of Aikido. I would imagine the majority of people that use these forums think Aikido an important part of their lives - that it is purposeful, not just recreational. I'm not saying we should be evangelizing the merits of Aikido, but neither should we feel the necessity to make it a clandestine act that we somehow try to avoid revealing to others.
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Old 12-19-2012, 06:41 AM   #17
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Quote:
Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
No. But stamp collecting is a hobby, so by comparing Aikido to stamp collecting you are implying they have the same merit, which I don't think they do.
You don't, but then, I assume you're not a stamp collector. Look, I'm not going to quibble about the bright lines that separate a "hobby" from an "art" or a "skill" or a "craft" or whatever you like, and I'm not going to argue about what belongs in what category. The "what" that you're comparing to aikido doesn't matter, stamp collecting or anything else. But whatever category you choose to put aikido in, do you truly believe that nothing, no other human pursuit, has "the same merit"?

Quote:
Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
People in the Aikido community venerate O'Sensei as someone who has something to teach them about Budo and about life. We wouldn't be discussing O'Sensei if he hadn't of opened his own dojo and began teaching his style of Aiki-Budo. The fact that he developed Aikido and then gave the responsibility of disseminating his art to his disciples shows that O'Sensei believed in his life's achievement. He had an uncompromising conviction in the benefits of Aikido. I would imagine the majority of people that use these forums think Aikido an important part of their lives - that it is purposeful, not just recreational.
Don't you think the same could be said about teachers and founders of schools of painting or music?

Quote:
Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
I'm not saying we should be evangelizing the merits of Aikido, but neither should we feel the necessity to make it a clandestine act that we somehow try to avoid revealing to others.
Emphasis mine. There's a lot between those two extremes. I don't make my aikido practice "a clandestine act", yet I'm sure that most of my coworkers don't know I train, and I've worked there for six years. Same with my neighbors. And, there are any number of other things they don't know about my life, and vice versa -- not because it's "clandestine", but because lives are complex and that's just not somewhere that our lives intersect.
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:08 AM   #18
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
You don't, but then, I assume you're not a stamp collector. Look, I'm not going to quibble about the bright lines that separate a "hobby" from an "art" or a "skill" or a "craft" or whatever you like, and I'm not going to argue about what belongs in what category. The "what" that you're comparing to aikido doesn't matter, stamp collecting or anything else. But whatever category you choose to put aikido in, do you truly believe that nothing, no other human pursuit, has "the same merit"?

Don't you think the same could be said about teachers and founders of schools of painting or music?
I didn't say Aikido is unparalleled or is more meritorious than other arts or pursuits; but the merit of Aikido is the subject of this thread. Yes the same could be said about a great deal of people. I was not putting O'Sensei on a peddlestool either, just trying to make a point about Aikido being important to O'Sensei and through Aikido, O'Sensei being important to Aikidoka. Nothing more.
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:39 AM   #19
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Fair enough, Eben, and apologies for the derail. It makes sense to me that we'd want to satisfy ourselves that aikido isn't "bullshit" - otherwise, why practice? I guess my point is just that the world is full of misconceptions about many things, and aikido (or martial arts) is not unique - people not engaged in a practice have a superficial take on it and are often dismissive of it. People following other pursuits such as art or music seem to mostly function without the need to share what they're doing with the world in the evangelistic sense. Although some people might dispute that this is counter to the spirit of aikido, from a practical point of view, it seems like a simple solution to just keep it to oneself if you don't want to deal with tiresome misconceptions.
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:00 AM   #20
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Quote:
Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
O'Sensei wasn't just a great martial artist; he was an apologist or missionary to some respect in the power of Budo and his Aikido in particular to help bring peace to the world. Now Aikido isn't a religion but it does have similar values and goals. To develop character, morality, temperance, forgiveness and peace. Budo is a lifestyle. Aikido therefore sees itself as a positive force or influence within the world.
Do you have the research to show all of this? That Ueshiba was an (1)apologist, (2)a missionary, (3)that his aikido was meant to bring peace to the world, (4)that his aikido had similar values and goals as religion, (5a-e)that his aikido was meant to develop character/morality/temperance/forgiveness/peace, and (6)finally that he saw his aikido as a positive force or influence within the world?

Personally, I think, maybe, you could make an argument for a couple of those, but not all of them. If we talk Kisshomaru Ueshiba, I think you could make an argument for nearly all of them. But, I'd like to see your research comparing both men as I think it'd be a very interesting compare/contrast.

Thanks,
Mark
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:16 AM   #21
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Quote:
Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
No. But stamp collecting is a hobby, so by comparing Aikido to stamp collecting you are implying they have the same merit, which I don't think they do. People in the Aikido community venerate O'Sensei as someone who has something to teach them about Budo and about life. We wouldn't be discussing O'Sensei if he hadn't of opened his own dojo and began teaching his style of Aiki-Budo. The fact that he developed Aikido and then gave the responsibility of disseminating his art to his disciples shows that O'Sensei believed in his life's achievement. He had an uncompromising conviction in the benefits of Aikido.
His style of Aiki-Budo? I think perhaps you should do a bit more research. In a very loose sense, you *could* say that.

But, for example, it's like saying that present day Olympic athletes are doing Kano's judo. Technically they're doing judo, sure. It can be traced back to Kano, so it's Kano's judo. In reality, it's nothing like Kano's vision of judo.

Ueshiba was given Takeda's aiki and made it his (Ueshiba) own by IP/aiki changing his body. The outward form is 99% Daito ryu techniques. So, by very loose technicality. you could say it's Ueshiba's "style of Aiki-Budo". In reality, it's all IP/aiki as given to him by Sokaku Takeda and Ueshiba is using the outward form of Daito ryu techniques as a visual presentation.

He didn't develop Aikido. He had no curriculum. His art was formless. He rarely explained and when he did, most ignored what he was saying. Ueshiba cared more about his own personal development than his students' development, especially after the war. When his son, Kisshomaru, wanted to do a public demonstration, Kisshomaru literally expected his father to fly into a rage. Why do you think he expected Ueshiba to physically rage so?

I would start reading Peter Goldsbury's TIE articles here on Aikiweb. Then pick up Ellis Amdur's books about aikido. Read Aikido Journal's back issues. IMO, those are the required reading for starting conversations. Both Peter and Ellis have extensive reading lists about the material, along with people they think should be interviewed/conversed with for more information. Stan Pranin has stated he has tons of material not yet translated.

Mark
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Old 12-19-2012, 11:19 AM   #22
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Quote:
Brad Edwards wrote: View Post
TL;DR How 1 aikidoka answered the 'Is Aikido Effective?' question for himself.

I'm a big fan of Penn and Teller, and I was enjoying a few episodes of their Showtime program Bullshit! yesterday on YouTube, when I saw the episode on martial arts. Being familiar with the show's format, I knew immediately what they would be attacking about martial arts, but I readied myself for some incoming (and sometimes well-deserved) flak and watched anyway.

The result was about what I expected. They attacked the board breaking part of some Karate, the sometimes strange and bizarre things we all do occasionally, and the total disregard of ethical and legal ramifications of some of the more brutal and questionable self-defense schools. They also took an extremely narrow minded view of statistics when they suggested that if martial arts were so effective they would expect to see many more reports of successful physical altercations by martial artist, when, in fact, I believe it's the very lack of those reports which is a statement to the effectiveness of martial arts for avoiding conflict. However, it was this warped view of what martial arts is that helped me crystallize what has been gnawing at me for a long time about martial arts, and that is the martial arts reality versus the martial arts perception. I'll explain why this has been a problem for me in a bit, but let me first respond to Penn, Teller, and the rest of the naysayers about why Aikido Isn't Bullshit.

There are 2 reasons why the statement "Aikido isn't effective" is bullshit. To begin with, Aikido is absolutely effective at what it was developed to do, and that is to neutralize sources of conflict ranging from personal conflicts you may have between things like your balance and gravity, to verbal altercations, all the way up to and including multiple attackers armed with various hitting, cutting, and stabbing weapons. It is clearly not effective at neutralizing bullets, missiles, tanks, aircraft carriers, or nuclear weapons, and it never claimed to be. The techniques for handling attackers are based on simple principles of physics and anatomy that have been around in their same basic form and used in combat for hundreds of years, and the method and philosophy of Aikido and its founder's respect toward Budo (the warrior way) are applicable to many areas of life. Now, the effectiveness with which Aikido can do all these things is totally dependent on the practitioner. Aikido takes time, focus, and dedication to master, and there will always be room for improvement. To paraphrase a well-known sensei, "Aikido works. Your Aikido may not."

The second reason the statement is bullshit is the perception of the general public of what Aikido (and truthfully all martial arts) is supposed to be, and how "effective" is defined. Popular culture all around the world has a fascination with martial arts. America, especially, is enamored with violence in our entertainment, and this popular culture has built up a martial arts ethos which endows its practitioners with superhuman, almost supernatural powers. We have images of Jason Bourne seething with pure destructive power able to vanquish vast armies of "bad guys" with little to no effort, never once encountering someone of even equal ability. This ethos is pure fantasy impossible to live up to, and what is worse is that it misses the point entirely. We do not train to have mastery over other people. We train to have mastery over ourselves, and it's a long road.

So, why does this matter to me? Simple, I'm a part of this culture, and I face these misperceptions all the time. Many of us have had the experience of seeing someone's attitude toward us shift upon learning we practice martial arts. Some will look up to me with some elevated level of respect or awe which is totally undeserved, and I'll feel a bit guilty about that until I set them straight and a bit insignificant after I do. Some will look at me with caution as if we were a threat or a challenge, and I'll feel a bit anxious about that until I set them straight, and again a bit insignificant after I do. These misperceptions about what I do affects me in subtle ways, and often times lead me to question my own training in the same damn way Penn and Teller did. And that is what has been gnawing at me until now. Even if Aikido doesn't live up to someone's standard of "effectiveness", Aikido is one of the greatest things in my life. It has given me confidence, balance, relaxation, friendship, health, temperance, and even purpose along with so many other things. So, in the end, I wrote this post as a reminder to myself for those occasions (and for anyone else who needs it) that despite many common misperceptions about it, Aikido is most definitely not bullshit.
Good post. I agree.

Having said that, "aikido" is a big word that covers a lot of things, a LOT of which is bullshit for sure.

Another thing that people overlook, is that in the wide world of aikido, there is a whole range of quality all the way from "not so great" to "mindblowing". Effectiveness creeps in somewhere along this continuum (it's not there from day 1 for anybody).

I think when people say things like "aikido is bullshit" or "aikido is not effective", they are looking at something in the "not so great" category and using inductive reasoning to generalize. If they had honest experience with something further along the spectrum they would change their minds.

The other thing about aikido, is that it is kind of sneaky and hard to understand just by looking at it. It's even hard to understand by feeling it until you've been doing it a while.

I think the moral of the story is: don't believe the opinions of people who have no idea what they are talking about.
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Old 12-19-2012, 01:18 PM   #23
Tom Verhoeven
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Do you have the research to show all of this? That Ueshiba was an (1)apologist, (2)a missionary, (3)that his aikido was meant to bring peace to the world, (4)that his aikido had similar values and goals as religion, (5a-e)that his aikido was meant to develop character/morality/temperance/forgiveness/peace, and (6)finally that he saw his aikido as a positive force or influence within the world?

Personally, I think, maybe, you could make an argument for a couple of those, but not all of them. If we talk Kisshomaru Ueshiba, I think you could make an argument for nearly all of them. But, I'd like to see your research comparing both men as I think it'd be a very interesting compare/contrast.

Thanks,
Mark
When we think about Aikido and the teachings of the founder then I think Ewen's words reflect the image most people have of Aikido. It certainly reflects what most books tell us about Aikido and what the majority of the shihan are teaching us.

If we look at the teachings of Omoto kyo, of wich O Sensei was a follower, we recognize the same goals, even often the same wordings in which they were expressed.

Yes, we can say that his son simplified Aikido in order to popularize the art, he created a curriculum of techniques that made it more comprehensible to teach and to learn, he took out much of the Shinto references and kotodama exercises. But we should credit the nidai doshu for all his work, for it is not likely that any of us would be practicing Aikido, thinking about its philosophy or have talks on the subject like on this forum if it were not for him (and a number of students of O Sensei).

Tom
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Old 12-19-2012, 01:29 PM   #24
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

Quote:
Tom Verhoeven wrote: View Post
When we think about Aikido and the teachings of the founder then I think Ewen's words reflect the image most people have of Aikido. It certainly reflects what most books tell us about Aikido and what the majority of the shihan are teaching us.
Most books came from ... ?
Ueshiba's actual translated words appear ... ?
Research indicates that Ueshiba said ... ?

Unfortunately, my research indicates that most people are wrong, which is why I asked for clarification and research to support these notions. Do you have it?

Quote:
Tom Verhoeven wrote: View Post
If we look at the teachings of Omoto kyo, of wich O Sensei was a follower, we recognize the same goals, even often the same wordings in which they were expressed.
Cited references?

Quote:
Tom Verhoeven wrote: View Post
Yes, we can say that his son simplified Aikido in order to popularize the art, he created a curriculum of techniques that made it more comprehensible to teach and to learn, he took out much of the Shinto references and kotodama exercises. But we should credit the nidai doshu for all his work, for it is not likely that any of us would be practicing Aikido, thinking about its philosophy or have talks on the subject like on this forum if it were not for him (and a number of students of O Sensei).

Tom
So, we agree that Kisshomaru changed a lot and created what most of us consider Modern Aikido. Now, what changes were made? What did Ueshiba actually teach/espouse? Cited references? I think this is an area where everyone should be looking for truth. Just taking the normal, "that's what most people think" approach hasn't gotten us anywhere in 40 + years. Taking the research what Ueshiba actually said/did approach has given us major leaps and advances in IP/aiki.

That's not saying that Modern Aikido is good/bad or right/wrong. Just that there are major differences between Modern Aikido and Ueshiba's IP/aiki.

Mark
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Old 12-19-2012, 03:33 PM   #25
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Re: Aikido Isn't Bullshit

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
His style of Aiki-Budo? I think perhaps you should do a bit more research. In a very loose sense, you *could* say that.

But, for example, it's like saying that present day Olympic athletes are doing Kano's judo. Technically they're doing judo, sure. It can be traced back to Kano, so it's Kano's judo. In reality, it's nothing like Kano's vision of judo.

Ueshiba was given Takeda's aiki and made it his (Ueshiba) own by IP/aiki changing his body. The outward form is 99% Daito ryu techniques. So, by very loose technicality. you could say it's Ueshiba's "style of Aiki-Budo". In reality, it's all IP/aiki as given to him by Sokaku Takeda and Ueshiba is using the outward form of Daito ryu techniques as a visual presentation.

He didn't develop Aikido. He had no curriculum. His art was formless. He rarely explained and when he did, most ignored what he was saying. Ueshiba cared more about his own personal development than his students' development, especially after the war. When his son, Kisshomaru, wanted to do a public demonstration, Kisshomaru literally expected his father to fly into a rage. Why do you think he expected Ueshiba to physically rage so?

I would start reading Peter Goldsbury's TIE articles here on Aikiweb. Then pick up Ellis Amdur's books about aikido. Read Aikido Journal's back issues. IMO, those are the required reading for starting conversations. Both Peter and Ellis have extensive reading lists about the material, along with people they think should be interviewed/conversed with for more information. Stan Pranin has stated he has tons of material not yet translated.

Mark
Thank you for the recommended reading; I am no scholar on Aikido, I have read a few articles on aikidojournal and have a biography on O'Sensei but my reading is limited. I may have generalized so I apologize if I have brought further complication rather than clarity to the discussion. I wasn't trying to be controversial.
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