Welcome to AikiWeb Aikido Information
AikiWeb: The Source for Aikido Information
AikiWeb's principal purpose is to serve the Internet community as a repository and dissemination point for aikido information.

Sections
home
aikido articles
columns

Discussions
forums
aikiblogs

Databases
dojo search
seminars
image gallery
supplies
links directory

Reviews
book reviews
video reviews
dvd reviews
equip. reviews

News
submit
archive

Miscellaneous
newsletter
rss feeds
polls
about

Follow us on



Home > AikiWeb Aikido Forums
Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > General

Hello and thank you for visiting AikiWeb, the world's most active online Aikido community! This site is home to over 22,000 aikido practitioners from around the world and covers a wide range of aikido topics including techniques, philosophy, history, humor, beginner issues, the marketplace, and more.

If you wish to join in the discussions or use the other advanced features available, you will need to register first. Registration is absolutely free and takes only a few minutes to complete so sign up today!

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 08-20-2013, 05:55 PM   #1
Peter Boylan
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 156
United_States
Offline
Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

This is a blog post I wrote in response to a question on another forum. What do you think?
http://budobum.blogspot.com/2013/08/...atever-if.html

Peter Boylan
Mugendo Budogu LLC
Budo Books, Videos, Equipment from Japan
http://www.budogu.com
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2013, 07:21 PM   #2
HL1978
Dojo: Aunkai
Location: Fairfax, VA
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 424
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Many japanese arts stress the importance of reiho, kendo for example begins and ends with rei. Kendoka will say... that without it, kendo is just hitting people with sticks.

While this is an aikido forum, I think a good basis for comparasion for your blog would be to contrast BJJ and judo given their common roots, as I'm not aware of aikido which has mostly abandoned many of the traditional practices.

Having practiced both judo and Brazillian Jujitsu (aka basically just judo), I would tend to disagree with your thesis. If one was to follow the same logic, BJJ could only be choking out your opponent and locking their joints as it lacks reiho as expressed in JMA. Judo shares the same etiquette as found in aikido, karate and kendo, however BJJ (as I have experienced it) lacks most of the etiquette, and in competition has both gi and no-gi divisions (different waza are appropriate to both as the lack of the gi changes the dynamics considerably).

Are BJJer's any less polite than judoka? No, not really. In any martial art, if you act like a jerk or if you have a habit of hurting people, others don't want to practice with you. If you aren't wearing a gi, are you no longer doing the same art? No, most of the techniques still work (that don't require the use of a gi, like a gi-choke). Do the elements of self improvement disappear? Nope, they're still there if that's your intent in training, or as a biproduct of training. Does the lack of japanese style ettiquite make BJJ less safe than judo? No, not at all, you still have to look out for your training partners and use proper control. Utilzing english terms rather than japanese ones (or portugese) doesn't change the training dynamic either.

If anything, I found people in BJJ (and MMA) acting more towards the principles idealized in most japanese martial arts and with very little ego which is totally the opposite of what I expected. I suspect this is because, in my opinion, reiho as practiced in the west is appears as "forced" sincerity/humility, as it is expressed via a foreign culture. In arts where there is a greater chance of accidental injury or higher levels of contact, you have to take greater care and think of others.

This also limits the "roleplaying element" which admittedly, is part of what draws some martial arts enthusiasts to japanese martial arts. Of course, adopting the costumes and some cultural elements can be taken to some amusing extremes, and may be in part what brings people in the door, but its hardly the main part of the practice.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2013, 07:42 PM   #3
Chris Li
 
Chris Li's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 3,078
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
This is a blog post I wrote in response to a question on another forum. What do you think?
http://budobum.blogspot.com/2013/08/...atever-if.html
If anybody's interested, here's the original discussion: http://lnkd.in/f4hD3S

FWIW, I don't see any reason why you can't strip out all the Japanese stuff and still be doing Aikido.

OTOH, I can also understand that Japan's innate ethnocentric tendencies would probably lead many Japanese teachers to tell their students that such a thing is impossible.

Best,

Chris

  Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2013, 08:30 PM   #4
Dave Gallagher
Dojo: Shobukan Dojo, St.Louis
Location: St.Louis
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 109
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

BJJ is not a budo. It's just a series of techniques. It has no spiritual content. I am of the opinion that in Japanese arts everything has meaning and tradition. This includes the clothing and the protocol in the dojo. If you remove those things you might just as well go outside and roll in the dirt. Just my opinion.

It is the duty of the strong to protect the weak.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2013, 08:51 PM   #5
phitruong
Dojo: Charlotte Aikikai Agatsu Dojo
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,794
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

don't see why one couldn't call it aikido. we usually practiced outside wearing street clothes. doesn't make it less aikido. isn't one of the meaning of aikido is the way of harmony? if you are out on the beach, the way to harmonize is to wear speedo thong and throw each other around in the waves. so if i take away all the clothes, then i would be a naked aikido man, with a pretty good looking rear end and shoulders, and would still do aikido, but naked aikido, if there is such a thing. however, i would draw the line at naked BJJ, unless my partner is as good looking as i am.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2013, 08:51 PM   #6
Chris Li
 
Chris Li's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 3,078
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Quote:
Dave Gallagher wrote: View Post
BJJ is not a budo. It's just a series of techniques. It has no spiritual content. I am of the opinion that in Japanese arts everything has meaning and tradition. This includes the clothing and the protocol in the dojo. If you remove those things you might just as well go outside and roll in the dirt. Just my opinion.
So...if Morihei Ueshiba trained outside in normal clothing, as he was known to quite often, it wouldn't have been Aikido?

Best,

Chris

  Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2013, 08:55 PM   #7
Hilary
Dojo: Torrey Pines Aiki Kai
Location: San Diego
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 65
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2013, 09:00 PM   #8
hughrbeyer
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Boston
Location: Peterborough, NH
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 653
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
don't see why one couldn't call it aikido. we usually practiced outside wearing street clothes. doesn't make it less aikido. isn't one of the meaning of aikido is the way of harmony? if you are out on the beach, the way to harmonize is to wear speedo thong and throw each other around in the waves. so if i take away all the clothes, then i would be a naked aikido man, with a pretty good looking rear end and shoulders, and would still do aikido, but naked aikido, if there is such a thing. however, i would draw the line at naked BJJ, unless my partner is as good looking as i am.
Jeez, Phi. This what you have in mind?

(Click at your own risk. But it is classical art.)

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2013, 10:06 PM   #9
Janet Rosen
  AikiWeb Forums Contributing Member
 
Janet Rosen's Avatar
Location: Left Coast
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 3,939
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
So...if Morihei Ueshiba trained outside in normal clothing, as he was known to quite often, it wouldn't have been Aikido?

Best,

Chris
It WAS at one time "normal clothing." It isn't anymore. It's funny: I love costumes, I sew a lot, and I tend to have different clothing for different things - at least for gardening and painting .... but somehow to me the keikogi is NOT intrinsic to the art. Whereas I DO think the bowing and other etiquette does add something to creating a mindset, I really don't think the clothes matter.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2013, 10:08 PM   #10
Janet Rosen
  AikiWeb Forums Contributing Member
 
Janet Rosen's Avatar
Location: Left Coast
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 3,939
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Quote:
Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Jeez, Phi. This what you have in mind?

(Click at your own risk. But it is classical art.)
Um...is that what they call a friendly wrestling match?

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2013, 10:29 PM   #11
Dave Gallagher
Dojo: Shobukan Dojo, St.Louis
Location: St.Louis
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 109
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Quote from Christopher Li
"So...if Morihei Ueshiba trained outside in normal clothing, as he was known to quite often, it wouldn't have been Aikido?".

....So he went out and they rolled in the dirt. I don't see a problem with that, but what is normal clothing for O Sensei? When they were outside did they do away with dojo protocol and Japanese culture?

It is the duty of the strong to protect the weak.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2013, 10:43 PM   #12
ken king
Location: St. Louis, MO
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 30
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

In my opinion the clothing doesn't matter so much as the attitude. I do however appreciate the lack of buttons, clasps, and rivets in the training uniform. Also, since they are white I can tell when someone forgot to wash their gi and avoid the stank

Every day, life is training, every day, budo is life
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2013, 10:53 PM   #13
Chris Li
 
Chris Li's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 3,078
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Quote:
Dave Gallagher wrote: View Post
Quote from Christopher Li
"So...if Morihei Ueshiba trained outside in normal clothing, as he was known to quite often, it wouldn't have been Aikido?".

....So he went out and they rolled in the dirt. I don't see a problem with that, but what is normal clothing for O Sensei? When they were outside did they do away with dojo protocol and Japanese culture?
Well, they wore street clothing (or whatever was for them) - not keikogi, was my point. No special clothes.

They were outside the dojo, and often practiced without dojo protocol, but they were still Japanese, of course.

Are you saying that it is necessary to pretend to be Japanese in order to do Aikido?

I've been in plenty of training sessions in informal circumstances with direct students of Morihei Ueshiba, without keikogi, dojo protocol or even Japanese etiquette/culture - is it your opinion that what they were doing was not Aikido?

I've asked a number of direct students of Morihei Ueshiba whether they thought that someone ought to be required to bow in order to train - none of them thought so, all of them were surprised that it would even be considered an issue.

What is it about Japanese customs (and Japanese customs will actually vary from place to place in Japan, so they are hardly monolithic) that makes them essential to Aikido?

I get that a lot of people enjoy pretending - look how popular civil-war reenactment is, but is it really necessary to any of the core goals of Aikido?

Best,

Chris

  Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2013, 12:04 AM   #14
sakumeikan
Dojo: Sakumeikan N.E. Aikkai .Newcastle upon Tyne.
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,150
United Kingdom
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Quote:
Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Jeez, Phi. This what you have in mind?

(Click at your own risk. But it is classical art.)
Hugh,
Ouch, it looks painful, but fun. Joe.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2013, 12:56 AM   #15
Lorien Lowe
Dojo: Northcoast Aikido
Location: California
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 289
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

I think that being In a different 'mode' on the mat helps me to treat my training as something special. Bowing to get on the mat, and then bowing to start practice, helps me to leave the trials and traviails of work/life/whatever behind, and concentrate on training. Bowing to the shomen feels like showing respect for the whole dojo, and there's not a handshake equivalent for that.

During flu season, I wish that I could bow rather than shaking hands all the time.

I probably don't bow the same way, and with the same mentality, as someone born and raised in Jajpan does, but it works for me anyway.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2013, 01:05 AM   #16
Chris Li
 
Chris Li's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 3,078
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Quote:
Lorien Lowe wrote: View Post
I think that being In a different 'mode' on the mat helps me to treat my training as something special. Bowing to get on the mat, and then bowing to start practice, helps me to leave the trials and traviails of work/life/whatever behind, and concentrate on training. Bowing to the shomen feels like showing respect for the whole dojo, and there's not a handshake equivalent for that.

During flu season, I wish that I could bow rather than shaking hands all the time.

I probably don't bow the same way, and with the same mentality, as someone born and raised in Jajpan does, but it works for me anyway.
...is that different "mode" specifically tied to the act of bowing?

All cultures have customs that separate out various activities from each other.

The question is not whether or not some action of Japanese etiquette has a benefit or not, the question is whether that specific activity is necessary to the act of training in Aikido.

Let me say here that I have nothing against bowing, wearing funny clothes, or whatever - I do all of that on a regular basis (although there are plenty of times when I don't).

What I am saying is that there is no intrinsic requirement to perform those activities in order to be doing Aikido.

Best,

Chris

  Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2013, 07:15 AM   #17
Gary David
 
Gary David's Avatar
Location: Long Beach, CA
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 329
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
...is that different "mode" specifically tied to the act of bowing?

All cultures have customs that separate out various activities from each other.

The question is not whether or not some action of Japanese etiquette has a benefit or not, the question is whether that specific activity is necessary to the act of training in Aikido.

Let me say here that I have nothing against bowing, wearing funny clothes, or whatever - I do all of that on a regular basis (although there are plenty of times when I don't).

What I am saying is that there is no intrinsic requirement to perform those activities in order to be doing Aikido.

Best,

Chris
I am with Chris here.....if I am on the street and someone comes out of the dark at me with intent to do harm and I don't have time to bow or put on my funny clothes.......though I bring a peaceful conclusion to the situation after turning.....moving.....and applying what I learned in my 40 years of Aikido mat time......is that not Aikido?

Of course it is a given that some of the things I have learned over the years would also result in safe conclusions for me alone that some here might not consider Aikido.....but that doesn't change it for me.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2013, 07:26 AM   #18
Cliff Judge
Dojo: Aikido Shobukan Dojo
Location: Columbia, MD
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 973
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

The clothes, manners, and rituals are key elements to Aikido as a culture and not a technology. Whether or not you believe Osensei cared about transmitting Aikido as a culture, I would still argue that these things are important for non-Japanese because we can't just take these elements for granted.

BJJ I believe uses competitions to foster a culture, but it is an emergent culture, a thing that comes about.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2013, 07:54 AM   #19
Dave Gallagher
Dojo: Shobukan Dojo, St.Louis
Location: St.Louis
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 109
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

I don't know anyone who pretends to be Japanese. I do know that O Sensei wanted every student to wear hakama. There are stories about students who could not buy a training hakama so they borrowed expensive dress hakama from family members and ruined them in training. Was it not O Sensei who thought of the keikogi as underwear?

It is the duty of the strong to protect the weak.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2013, 08:34 AM   #20
Keith Larman
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,556
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

One part of my brain is screaming "run away you idiot!", but the philosophy geek just won't let me...

The problem here goes back, like many things, in to the definition of aikido. Obviously the OP feels that some of the traditions, rei, etc. are an integral part of what makes aikido "aikido". The problem is that since Aikido is a world-wide art studied by a diverse group and not some tightly knit, small koryu, the very definition of Aikido varies tremendously. So what I think of as Aikido can be quite different from someone else. Some see only fluffy aikibunny movements with collaborative partners exploring the energy of the universe. Others see a version of Daito Ryu with a certain type of power and distinctive body usage. Others see vestiges of culture and attitudes.

So for the OP the very definition they hold of Aikido seems to contain aspects like the rei, the uniforms, the traditions, etc. that were around/became part of/evolved from this thing that we do. So if you ask the question whether Aikido is still Aikido if you remove them, well, no, because your definition included them from the beginning. It becomes an obvious answer and for some the fact that anyone would disagree is almost inconceivable since it is basically a definition question.

So I really see no point in discussing it. Suffice to say some people train in sweats and t-shirts. Heck, on the other extreme I know a guy who for a long time would walk around his home and offices wearing geta. I was waiting for him to grow a top-knot, but his caucasian white-boy balding head wasn't giving him enough hair. He couldn't possibly have wanted to actually be Japanese more. And he was quite serious about all those things in his training much to the bewilderment of visiting Japanese sensei.

So carry on. I am perfectly happy with my internal definition of Aikido being different as I'm not as interested in some of the cultural artifacts. However, I bow when I enter any dojo. I sit and watch to see what the routine is and I gladly, happily and hopefully humbly try to do as they do.

More power to you all, even you silly fluffy aikibunnies...

  Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2013, 08:38 AM   #21
PeterR
 
PeterR's Avatar
Dojo: Shodokan Honbu (Osaka)
Location: Himeji, Japan
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 3,054
Japan
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

All that means is that Ueshiba did not want to see underwear - we could wear pants and he would be happy. ;D

Its funny though when I first tried training in regular street clothes (in Japan) my Aikido felt far worse than it usually did. I never believed you needed to dress in a dogi to be doing aikido but perhaps deep down I was fooling myself.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2013, 09:24 AM   #22
Chris Li
 
Chris Li's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 3,078
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
The clothes, manners, and rituals are key elements to Aikido as a culture and not a technology. Whether or not you believe Osensei cared about transmitting Aikido as a culture, I would still argue that these things are important for non-Japanese because we can't just take these elements for granted.

BJJ I believe uses competitions to foster a culture, but it is an emergent culture, a thing that comes about.
There's nothing wrong with studying the culture, I think that's important.

If I studied the culture of Rome (as many people do), I might try on a toga to experience what it's like (as many people also do). On the other hand, if I wore a toga on a daily basis while conducting my studies it would just be...odd, wouldn't it?

Best,

Chris

  Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2013, 09:31 AM   #23
Cliff Judge
Dojo: Aikido Shobukan Dojo
Location: Columbia, MD
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 973
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
There's nothing wrong with studying the culture, I think that's important.

If I studied the culture of Rome (as many people do), I might try on a toga to experience what it's like (as many people also do). On the other hand, if I wore a toga on a daily basis while conducting my studies it would just be...odd, wouldn't it?

Best,

Chris
Budo is not about "studying" a culture. It is about becoming a part of it. I don't think there is any other reason to study martial arts, in fact. If I wanted to get as deeply into the mindset of a Roman Senator as I could, you bet I would wear that toga around and I wouldn't give a fig whether people thought it was odd.

There are non-cultural systems which are purely self-defense oriented, purely combat oriented, purely competition oriented, purely health-oriented, purely delusional, and any combination you can imagine, which would better suit.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2013, 09:32 AM   #24
Chris Li
 
Chris Li's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 3,078
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Quote:
Dave Gallagher wrote: View Post
I don't know anyone who pretends to be Japanese. I do know that O Sensei wanted every student to wear hakama. There are stories about students who could not buy a training hakama so they borrowed expensive dress hakama from family members and ruined them in training. Was it not O Sensei who thought of the keikogi as underwear?
Well, he talking to primarily Japanese students training in Japan. When I'm in Japan I generally bow and speak Japanese. When I'm in the US I generally speak English and shake hands. Isn't that the way that it usually is?

If someone's attending school in the US then I'd expect them to follow the normal customs of whatever US region they're studying in while they're here. I wouldn't expect them to go back to Japan and teach their students to shake hands with each other in order to study mathematics.

Best,

Chris

  Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2013, 09:43 AM   #25
Dave Gallagher
Dojo: Shobukan Dojo, St.Louis
Location: St.Louis
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 109
United_States
Offline
Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

This is not to say that I have not trained outside in street clothers. I have. It can give a sense of what responding to an attack in real life could be like. When I was doing JKA Shotokan Karate, the JKA released a film of the practical application of the techniques. This was filmed outside in street clothes. I do however still believe in preserving tradition as it was handed down to me.
My original post was about the idea of removing the traditional aspects of Aikido or Japanese culture. If all these things were removed as the OP asked,would it still be Aikido? My feeling is, yes it can be depending on the person practicing it. If practiced as mere techniques it is not. One must practice with the same goal as the name Aikido infers.

It is the duty of the strong to protect the weak.
  Reply With Quote

Please visit our sponsor:

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!



Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:37 PM.



vBulletin Copyright © 2000-2014 Jelsoft Enterprises Limited
----------
Copyright 1997-2014 AikiWeb and its Authors, All Rights Reserved.
----------
For questions and comments about this website:
Send E-mail
plainlaid-picaresque outchasing-protistan explicantia-altarage seaford-stellionate