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Old 07-18-2012, 11:15 AM   #1
tlk52
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Aikido and Budo

This interview was new to me and touches on some issues that get a lot of discussion here. Among other things, the future of the Aikikai and international organizational issues, the nature of teaching & ranking, etc... Yamada Sensei said several things that I find thought provoking

for the context, the full article is well worth reading, and is at
"http://www.aikido-yamada.eu/index.php/sensei/interview/"

here are some quotes,

"As I said before, what is good about aikido is also the problem of aikido. I don’t call aikido ‘budo’ anymore because what makes Aikido so popular is its flexibility, lack of competition, no physical requirements. Anybody can practice. That is a good part of aikido. I’m always happy to see people who have a physical problem that would prevent them from practicing other martial arts enjoying themselves with aikido. That is the beauty of Aikido. If Aikido were pure budo, it wouldn’t be so popular.... " Y. Yamada

"Well, the ranking system in aikido is another headache. I personally disagree with this system. A teaching certificate is okay, a black belt is okay. But after that, no numbers, no shodan, no nidan, etc. People know who is good and who is bad. ..." Y. Yamada

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

Last edited by tlk52 : 07-18-2012 at 11:18 AM.
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Old 07-18-2012, 01:46 PM   #2
Chris Li
 
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Re: Aikido and Budo

Quote:
Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
This interview was new to me and touches on some issues that get a lot of discussion here. Among other things, the future of the Aikikai and international organizational issues, the nature of teaching & ranking, etc... Yamada Sensei said several things that I find thought provoking

for the context, the full article is well worth reading, and is at
"http://www.aikido-yamada.eu/index.php/sensei/interview/"

here are some quotes,

"As I said before, what is good about aikido is also the problem of aikido. I don’t call aikido ‘budo’ anymore because what makes Aikido so popular is its flexibility, lack of competition, no physical requirements. Anybody can practice. That is a good part of aikido. I’m always happy to see people who have a physical problem that would prevent them from practicing other martial arts enjoying themselves with aikido. That is the beauty of Aikido. If Aikido were pure budo, it wouldn’t be so popular.... " Y. Yamada

"Well, the ranking system in aikido is another headache. I personally disagree with this system. A teaching certificate is okay, a black belt is okay. But after that, no numbers, no shodan, no nidan, etc. People know who is good and who is bad. ..." Y. Yamada

"...In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality."Y. Yamada
Very interesting interview - it's interesting to see how Yamada has evolved over the years.

Best,

Chris

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Old 07-23-2012, 05:47 PM   #3
iwamaki
 
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Re: Aikido and Budo

The dojo and shrine in Iwama are the birthplace of Aikido as we know it. It was there that Morihei Ueshiba O-sensei synthesized and perfected his martial art (budo) from his many studies of other martial arts and religions.
His longest time student in Iwama was my teacher, Morihiro Saito-sensei (23 years living and training with O-sensei). He passed on to us the essence of Aikido as he learned it from O-sensei as "Takemusu Aiki".
Takemusu Aiki can be translated as "the union with the spirit of the universe which gives creation to a martial art". The "take" in "takemusu" is the same Chinese character (kanji) as the "bu" in "budo".
I trained with Yamada-sensei in the 60s and respect him very much. However, I regret that he and others no longer consider Aikido to be budo.
Saito-sensei constantly lamented that Aikido around the world was degenerating into a system of light exercise. This is fine for people who want this rather than the hard knocks and pain that go with real Aikido training. Maybe they should call it "Aiki-taiso" (exercise based on Aikido), because it is not O-sensei's Takemusu Aiki which is budo in its purest form.
Watering down Aikido into something soft certainly makes it appeal to many more people than real training, which attracts only a small number of unique and dedicated individuals. But regrettably Yamada-sensei is right when he says that soft "Aikido" training is not budo.
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:35 AM   #4
tlk52
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Re: Aikido and Budo

I'm someone who is interested in Budo, likes hard martial practice, is interested in DH and MS and the other people here talking about IP/IS........ BUT, it does seem to me that many of the people focusing on budo/martial effectiveness/IP/IS are not comfortable (or uninterested) dealing with the underlying questions of "what is the purpose of Aikido"? what brings the most societal benefits?

the previous poster says "Watering down Aikido into something soft certainly makes it appeal to many more people than real training, which attracts only a small number of unique and dedicated individuals.",
-but is that a wholly a bad thing? is acquiring power a worthy goal? does it help make the world a better place? etc...

ie: the issue seems to me to be the question of who is aikido for? what is it's purpose in the world? is it for the general public? or do serious martial artists have some kind of priority? who does Aikido belong to? who does your dojo belong to? (Yamada sensei has said that some people come to the dojo to learn to fight, some for exercise, some from an interest in the Japanese culture and the philosophy, or to get out of the house and make new friends, or to lose weight etc.... and that the dojo belongs equally to all of the members)

ie if Aikido is to be inclusive of middle age 1X a week beginners/people with physical disabilities/people who's primary interest is the philosophy/health etc... (and this is the vast majority of practitioners...like tai chi also) then they have the same rights as the "serious" people. and what do you do?

what's the alternative? ...cut them out and we can reduce the # of people practicing by a huge percentage. is that desirable?

maybe it will evolve like Tai Chi, where a majority practice a not so martial form for health and centering benefits etc... but where a minority keep the martial side growing

PS I like the ideas about rank (which Yamada Sensei has been saying for a long time)

Last edited by tlk52 : 07-24-2012 at 07:48 AM.
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Old 07-24-2012, 09:40 AM   #5
iwamaki
 
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Re: Aikido and Budo

Some people like racing cars. Some people like playing chess. Some people like making pottery. And some people like training Aikido as a true budo like O-sensei intended. They all do their thing because they enjoy it, not because of some power trip.
I have no objection to providing light training for people who want it. My objection is the allegation that Aikido is not budo. This implies that serious training has been abandoned and replaced entirely by light training, which I agree is not budo, to make Aikido "more popular".
If someone wants to train budo, they can go to a hard style dojo (try finding one these days). If someone wants light exercise, they can go to a recreational dojo. There is room for both. No problem. Nobody gets cut. To each his own.
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Old 07-24-2012, 10:28 AM   #6
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Re: Aikido and Budo

Quote:
David Alexander wrote: View Post
Some people like racing cars. Some people like playing chess. Some people like making pottery. And some people like training Aikido as a true budo like O-sensei intended. They all do their thing because they enjoy it, not because of some power trip.
I have no objection to providing light training for people who want it. My objection is the allegation that Aikido is not budo. This implies that serious training has been abandoned and replaced entirely by light training, which I agree is not budo, to make Aikido "more popular".
If someone wants to train budo, they can go to a hard style dojo (try finding one these days). If someone wants light exercise, they can go to a recreational dojo. There is room for both. No problem. Nobody gets cut. To each his own.
If you ask me (nobody did, of course ), it's not about hard or light - it's about intensity. I would call this budo, and also this - but both are very "light" and can be practiced by anybody at all.

One of the problems with the conventional training method in Aikido is that, even though it is usually billed as something that can be practiced by anyone, it is very difficult to lighten the training physically without losing the intensity in a conventional setting.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-23-2013, 11:51 PM   #7
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Re: Aikido and Budo

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Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
maybe it will evolve like Tai Chi, where a majority practice a not so martial form for health and centering benefits etc... but where a minority keep the martial side growing
I think we are there now...

George S. Ledyard
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Old 01-24-2013, 11:13 AM   #8
tlk52
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Re: Aikido and Budo

we are there now, and I don't really see it as a problem.

but some people are not comfortable with it. Many people seem to want to make aikido over to reflect their own focus.
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Old 01-24-2013, 11:44 AM   #9
Chris Li
 
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Re: Aikido and Budo

Quote:
Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
we are there now, and I don't really see it as a problem.

but some people are not comfortable with it. Many people seem to want to make aikido over to reflect their own focus.
Isn't that what many of the "health benefit" folks are trying to do? Many of them seem quite uncomfortable with discussions of power or effectiveness.

I have no particular problem with recreational Aikido, it is what it is. When it claims to be something that it's not, well...

I might play recreational basketball, but if I claim that I'm Michael Jordan - then something's off.

Best,

Chris

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Old 02-13-2013, 06:31 PM   #10
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Aikido and Budo

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Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
but some people are not comfortable with it. Many people seem to want to make aikido over to reflect their own focus.
I am not sure what is meant here... How do you mean Aikido is being made over? From what into what? My teacher trained with the Founder and I have trained with a number of other teachers from that era in addition to having read just about everything published by Stan Pranin on Aikido Journal. As far as I can see, the vast majority of the the direct students of the Founder felt that Aikido was a form of Budo and by that I believe that they meant that it had martial validity, A good part of what gives any Budo practice some "transformative" aspect is the intensity. I see Budo as first and foremost helping an individual to become increasingly less afraid. Budo is about coming to terms with ones mortality on some level.

Much of what Aikido has become lacks much, if any of this aspect. The art has been changed to allow people of every different physical capability and disposition to not only train but progress up the ranks and even become teachers. It would be my contention that the folks who allowed the art to change in this way were indeed "making it over to reflect their own focus". But I do not sense that this is what you meant.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
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Old 02-26-2013, 09:39 AM   #11
tlk52
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Re: Aikido and Budo

Hi George,

you wrote "A good part of what gives any Budo practice some "transformative" aspect is the intensity."... It would be my contention that the folks who allowed the art to change in this way were indeed making it over to reflect their own focus". But I do not sense that this is what you meant...

actually it is what I meant. and I agree with you but don't have an answer to the issue of (as I wrote above)

"ie if Aikido is to be inclusive of middle age 1X a week beginners/people with physical disabilities/people who's primary interest is the philosophy/health etc... (and this is the vast majority of practitioners...like tai chi also) then they have the same rights as the "serious" people. and what do you do?"

if we require intensity do we get rid of the students that can't or don't want to practice with more focus?

All my major teachers have also been direct students of O'Sensei. but when they'd have an older person, or someone with health issues come to class they all were gracious about allowing them to practice at the level that they could sustain. I think that it never occurred to any of them that this type of "comfortable" practice might become the majority, and what to do about it....
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Old 02-26-2013, 10:22 PM   #12
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Aikido and Budo

Quote:
Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
This interview was new to me and touches on some issues that get a lot of discussion here. Among other things, the future of the Aikikai and international organizational issues, the nature of teaching & ranking, etc... Yamada Sensei said several things that I find thought provoking
Hello Mr Kasavan,

When you state, "issues that get a lot of discussion here", do you mean here on AikiWeb or in your own dojo or organization? I know Yamada Shihan quite well and when we meet we inevitably talk about such issues, but I am pleasantly surprised if they are being discussed by his senior students also.

Quote:
Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
for the context, the full article is well worth reading, and is at
"http://www.aikido-yamada.eu/index.php/sensei/interview/"

here are some quotes,

"As I said before, what is good about aikido is also the problem of aikido. I don't call aikido budo' anymore because what makes Aikido so popular is its flexibility, lack of competition, no physical requirements. Anybody can practice. That is a good part of aikido. I'm always happy to see people who have a physical problem that would prevent them from practicing other martial arts enjoying themselves with aikido. That is the beauty of Aikido. If Aikido were pure budo, it wouldn't be so popular.... " Y. Yamada
I think this is a postwar development for which Kisshomaru Ueshiba was largely responsible, though I am not sure how carefully he and his colleagues at the Aikikai thought through the future consequences of this development. One of the distinctive features of the postwar Aikikai in Japan under his control was the variety of styles', if you like, and you can see this at the annual All-Japan demonstration, held each year in May.

However, one of the problems of aikido that Yamada Shihan did not touch upon in the extracts you quoted is that of finding and developing good teachers. I think this is more sharply emphasized as a problem outside Japan than it is here. The fact that he did not touch on it does not mean that he has not thought about this problem and I think it is a source of pride with him that he has done his best to prepare the USAF for the time when he is no longer around.

A common problem here is how you teach the teachers and I suspect that the model offered by Morihei Ueshiba himself is one of the things that changed after the war.

Quote:
Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
"Well, the ranking system in aikido is another headache. I personally disagree with this system. A teaching certificate is okay, a black belt is okay. But after that, no numbers, no shodan, no nidan, etc. People know who is good and who is bad. ..." Y. Yamada
Again, I suspect that this is one of things that changed after 1942. Again, I am not sure how carefully the Aikikai thought through the consequences of adopting a system that is really based on competition. I think a ranking system was introduced, of course, 'for serious educational reasons' and the children had coloured belts, also, as they worked downwards through the kyu system. To stop at shodan would have been impossible to contemplate, especially since the increasing fees charged for each dan rank have become a source of income for the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. What Yamada Shihan appears to be contemplating is a return to something like the menkyo licensing system. Have you had any discussion in the USAF about how such a system would work?

Quote:
Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
"...In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality."Y. Yamada
Actually, this is a pretty damning statement, if you think about it.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 03-01-2013, 09:21 AM   #13
tlk52
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Re: Aikido and Budo

I'm not going to speculate on USAF issues as I'm not an insider, and not at all involved, though of course I know some of the people.

Last edited by tlk52 : 03-01-2013 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 03-02-2013, 07:03 PM   #14
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Aikido and Budo

Hello Mr Kasavan,

Well, Yamada Shihan was one of the examiners when I received shodan (he was visiting the UK at the time). So I myself do not see him so much as the head of the USAF, though perhaps this is how the majority of Aikiweb members from the US might see him. I see him rather more as a very senior instructor in relation to Doshu and the Aikikai and he is one of the few senior shihans in the IAF who tells me exactly what he thinks.

In the interview there was a mention of 'pure' budo, but I wonder whether there ever was a time when budo was 'pure'. In Japanese culture the concept of purity has a significance it lacks in some other cultures.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 03-08-2013, 08:26 PM   #15
tlk52
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Re: Aikido and Budo

here's is another recent interview with Yamada sensei dealing with some of the same issues

http://www.guillaumeerard.com/aikido...u-the-free-man
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Old 07-02-2013, 04:51 AM   #16
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Re: Aikido and Budo

I agree with the grading statement. I spent a long time in Asia and I met more than a few people who just got to black belt and then left it at that, yet continue to train. If they did grade, it was more often due to sensei pressure rather than their own volition. Of course, others follow the grade for whatever reason. Personally, I chased the grades up to age 30 then quit the farce. Now I couldn't care less but barely a day passes when I don't train.

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