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Old 08-21-2013, 11:38 AM   #26
jonreading
 
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Yes and yes. Yes, the instructional paradigm of aikido includes transmission from reiho. The etiquette happens to be Japanese and based upon a pre-modern Japan in many respects. Yes, aikido is still aikido without these alternative transmission devices. I think you can argue a need to replace those elements lost without the transmission device. I think you can argue aikido does not offer a complete education if it does not contain the elements. Of course if you argue this you need to consider the entirety of excluded curriculum as being damaging to aikido...

I think we should naturally strive towards a goal of expressing aiki in any surrounding, under any conditions. This is difficult enough, let alone placing constraints on what you wear or how you act...

I can appreciate the need for rei to help with all those lessons you learn by observation. I do not mean to discount their value and personally I belive that those lessons need learning. But I do not think removing them makes aikido less - it just places a creative burden on sensei to find a way to effectively teach those lessons.

I am glad that aikido was not developed in the US in the 90's. Can you imagine the balloon pants...? Please Hammer, don't hurt 'em.

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Old 08-21-2013, 11:40 AM   #27
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

So what exactly does the reiho teach? I don't think a lack of reiho means there is a lack of sincerity, or that you treat people poorly, or that you don't respect others.

On the other hand, are most checkout clerks sincerely happy that you shopped with them today, or do they say that because that is what is expected or required?
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Old 08-21-2013, 11:52 AM   #28
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Maybe come from the other direction ... more japanese means better aikido? What ever "more" and "japanese" mean to you. Logically being untrue does not in turn make the opposite true. I guess that means nevermind.

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

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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Old 08-21-2013, 01:12 PM   #29
Cliff Judge
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Quote:
Hunter Lonsberry wrote: View Post
So what exactly does the reiho teach? I don't think a lack of reiho means there is a lack of sincerity, or that you treat people poorly, or that you don't respect others.

On the other hand, are most checkout clerks sincerely happy that you shopped with them today, or do they say that because that is what is expected or required?
I think reiho is actually crucial to a certain type of pedagogy where the student learns intuitively as opposed to analytically. This is probably more important than keeping calm and order in the dojo.

One thing I have noticed when engaged in kata-based training is that I will screw something up and then, rather than stopping, and fretting, analyzing, or asking for a do-over, I will simply proceed with the kata. I will complete the whole thing and move onto the next one if that is what I am supposed to do. I still analyze my mistake but that happens off-line, after the training session is over.

I can't tell you whether this is good or bad but I can say that training this way tends towards much higher mental intensity levels, and my offline analysis seems to lead to better insights than if I were to fudge around in the middle of practicing a technique.

It may be that reiho is not the only vehicle by which to inculcate this kind of training mentality but it seems to do it for me. It works to prevent people from standing around on the mat talking about training, and encourages them to train instead.
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Old 08-21-2013, 01:21 PM   #30
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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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.
I think that there are much better ways to become a part of Japanese culture than just about any Aikido dojo I've ever seen in the United States. In my experience most people who try that come away with a somewhat delusional view of Japan and Japanese culture.

And what about Japanese people in Japan, are they still trying to become part of a Japanese culture?

If you're talking about "traditional" Japanese culture, then how did that work for Morihei Ueshiba, was he also trying to become part of some culture? If he wasn't - than what was he trying to do? Shouldn't that be where we're trying to go?

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-21-2013, 01:23 PM   #31
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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I think reiho is actually crucial to a certain type of pedagogy where the student learns intuitively as opposed to analytically. This is probably more important than keeping calm and order in the dojo.

One thing I have noticed when engaged in kata-based training is that I will screw something up and then, rather than stopping, and fretting, analyzing, or asking for a do-over, I will simply proceed with the kata. I will complete the whole thing and move onto the next one if that is what I am supposed to do. I still analyze my mistake but that happens off-line, after the training session is over.

I can't tell you whether this is good or bad but I can say that training this way tends towards much higher mental intensity levels, and my offline analysis seems to lead to better insights than if I were to fudge around in the middle of practicing a technique.

It may be that reiho is not the only vehicle by which to inculcate this kind of training mentality but it seems to do it for me. It works to prevent people from standing around on the mat talking about training, and encourages them to train instead.
As I said, it's not whether or not reiho is useful - the question is whether that specific reiho is an absolute requirement.

Certainly, I don't see anything about the training example above that is exclusive to Japanese culture or etiquette.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-21-2013, 01:46 PM   #32
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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I think that there are much better ways to become a part of Japanese culture than just about any Aikido dojo I've ever seen in the United States. In my experience most people who try that come away with a somewhat delusional view of Japan and Japanese culture.

And what about Japanese people in Japan, are they still trying to become part of a Japanese culture?

If you're talking about "traditional" Japanese culture, then how did that work for Morihei Ueshiba, was he also trying to become part of some culture? If he wasn't - than what was he trying to do? Shouldn't that be where we're trying to go?

Best,

Chris
I am not talking about general Japanese culture...sorry, I thought you got that with your reference to togas. People didn't walk around ancient Rome wearing those.
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Old 08-21-2013, 01:50 PM   #33
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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As I said, it's not whether or not reiho is useful - the question is whether that specific reiho is an absolute requirement.
Awesome, this comment wasn't directed towards you anyway. Is your name Hunter?

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Certainly, I don't see anything about the training example above that is exclusive to Japanese culture or etiquette.
I am glad you agree with the part of my post you quoted where i said i don't think this is the only way to have this type of training experience.
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Old 08-21-2013, 01:56 PM   #34
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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Awesome, this comment wasn't directed towards you anyway. Is your name Hunter?
I'm sorry, was this a private conversation?

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I am glad you agree with the part of my post you quoted where i said i don't think this is the only way to have this type of training experience.
Sure, my point is that a couple of people have started talking about the general benefits of certain practices, but I don't think that it's really relevant to the question of the OP.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-21-2013, 02:42 PM   #35
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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I'm sorry, was this a private conversation?
You were all "AS I SAID" as though it was only you and I talking. So I was like, "Excuse me is your name Hunter?"

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Sure, my point is that a couple of people have started talking about the general benefits of certain practices, but I don't think that it's really relevant to the question of the OP.
Is it that these practices are not inside the logical container described as "japanese clothes, etiquette, and other things?" Because if they are, and they have some benefits which can be discussed, then I believe it is quite relevant to the OP's question.
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Old 08-21-2013, 03:00 PM   #36
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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You were all "AS I SAID" as though it was only you and I talking. So I was like, "Excuse me is your name Hunter?"
Well, that was because I mentioned the same point earlier in the thread...

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Is it that these practices are not inside the logical container described as "japanese clothes, etiquette, and other things?" Because if they are, and they have some benefits which can be discussed, then I believe it is quite relevant to the OP's question.
I don't think he's really discussing the benefits so much as he's arguing that certain specific practices are essential and cannot be omitted. Conflating benefits with that confuses the issue because it's possible to get the very same benefits with very different clothing, etiquette and whatever.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-21-2013, 03:38 PM   #37
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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Is it that these practices are not inside the logical container described as "japanese clothes, etiquette, and other things?" Because if they are, and they have some benefits which can be discussed, then I believe it is quite relevant to the OP's question.
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I don't think he's really discussing the benefits so much as he's arguing that certain specific practices are essential and cannot be omitted. Conflating benefits with that confuses the issue because it's possible to get the very same benefits with very different clothing, etiquette and whatever.
That's fine but it is natural to look at the benefits a practice provides when examining why it has been maintained within a system of cultural transmission, because you assume some process of evolution would have eroded it otherwise. There are something like eight completely different types of eyeball in the animal kingdom but that doesn't nullify the argument (Darwinian or Lamarckian) that we Humans have eyes because they allow us to see.
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Old 08-21-2013, 05:18 PM   #38
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

So it looks like for most people the clothing isn't terribly important, but the etiquette is very important. Actions over appearance.

This is pretty much a discussion that can only be had with gendai arts like Aikido. The koryu arts are pretty clear about how much change is acceptable (not much. You either adapt yourself to the system or go do something else).

I will note that as far as I'm concerned, modern IJF Judo is almost a completely different animal from the Kodokan Judo from which it was born. They still use the cloths and the formal etiquette and the Japanese terms, but the spirit of practice has been transformed. The complete focus on competition and making everything spectator and TV friendly has created a completely different beast with a totally different soul.

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Old 08-21-2013, 05:21 PM   #39
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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This is pretty much a discussion that can only be had with gendai arts like Aikido. The koryu arts are pretty clear about how much change is acceptable (not much. You either adapt yourself to the system or go do something else).
That will change if the balance ever shifts, as it already has in Aikido, away from Japan (yes, I know that may involve splits - but those are common in Japan, too).

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-21-2013, 06:35 PM   #40
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Actually Chris, I doubt if that sort of change will have much impact on koryu. I'm not saying they won't continue to evolve and grow, they will. They are living arts rather than fossils.

First though, the koryu don't change to adapt to students. Students change to adapt to the koryu, or they leave. So there is no push here for them.

I don't know of any koryu that is trying to become widespread and attempting to garner large number of students. The fastest growing koryu are some of the iaido ryu and Shinto Muso Ryu. None of them are bent on becoming hugely famous. They grow organically, and sometimes they even inhibit growth because they do not support the idea that if you are the only student in an area then you should teach. They are usually pretty tough about waiting to teach until you're really ready for the role.

Second, learning is always with a senior uke. You don't train with a junior.uke, whether it is jujutsu, kenjutsu or something else. This means rising students don't have a chance to try changing things until they are well and truly embedded in the system.

As koryu become more available, they still aren't becoming common. When someone can open a dojo, they often do, but the dojo stay small. Because of their insistence upon students changing to suit the ryuha rather than the other way around, they don't attract a lot of students. There is no commercial push to make the ryuha popular by changing it (unlike the guys at the IJF and judo).

Most of the koryu absolutely require wearing a hakama for at least part of their training. This isn't a ritual or cultural requirement, but a technological one. You really need all the cords and obi of a hakama to properly wear a katana for iaido practice. I've tried it with a number different set-ups on occasions when I didn't want to bother changing or a hakama wasn't available. It just doesn't work.

And then, koryu are all about maintaining the traditions. I think the community would be exceptionally clear in letting anyone who tried to jettison the traditions that whatever they might be doing, it isn't iaido or kenjutsu or whatever. The gekkiken guys and the chambarra folks have had to develop their own outfits and systems because everyone has been quite clear that they aren't doing kenjutsu or kendo.

Unlike Aikido, the koryu tend to have exceptionally strong organizations. They may have splits, but there are always guys at the top where the buck stops. There isn't room in the koryu for the kind of innovation we're talking about here.

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Old 08-21-2013, 06:49 PM   #41
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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Actually Chris, I doubt if that sort of change will have much impact on koryu. I'm not saying they won't continue to evolve and grow, they will. They are living arts rather than fossils.

First though, the koryu don't change to adapt to students. Students change to adapt to the koryu, or they leave. So there is no push here for them.
People leave - that's how things change, that's how it's always been - even in Aikido. I agree though, that with the limited number in most koryu means that change is usually quite slow.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-21-2013, 07:08 PM   #42
Devon Smith
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

No Japanese martial art techniques happening here...move along, move along.



The topic made me remember this photo taken near Tokyo in the late '60's. I thought I'd share just for the irony. Western clothing, Roman alphabet. The cover doesn't make the book, so it would seem.

Devon

Last edited by Devon Smith : 08-21-2013 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 08-21-2013, 08:02 PM   #43
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

It's the Hakkoryu-Mobile!!
But it looks like a Japanese car, not an import...
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Old 08-21-2013, 09:02 PM   #44
Devon Smith
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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It's the Hakkoryu-Mobile!!
It is!

And to make the whole scene even less Japanese, the fellow defending himself against the car jacking aggressor is the son of Hakkoryu's founder.

We're hosting Nidai Soke Okuyama next year in Michigan. I'm planning to tease him about this photo, then take him to the golf course in my '67 Buick (which does not have a Hakkoryu logo on the door, thank you very much). You're welcome to join us...golf, Buick ride etc. I won't be playing golf though because I'll be damaged goods after the week of training beforehand. I'll be ok at driving the cart and assuming the role of caddy.

Devon.
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Old 08-22-2013, 06:00 AM   #45
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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Devon Smith wrote: View Post
No Japanese martial art techniques happening here...move along, move along.



The topic made me remember this photo taken near Tokyo in the late '60's. I thought I'd share just for the irony. Western clothing, Roman alphabet. The cover doesn't make the book, so it would seem.

Devon
Mao tried to do away with the Chinese characters and adopt the Roman alphabet (that's the origin of Pinyin, I believe). I know the Japanese have discussed in the past adopting English as an official second language in Japan. Maybe they considered getting rid of the Chinese characters and kana as well.

クリス の 合気ブログ Kyoto Kenshusei
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Old 08-22-2013, 06:25 AM   #46
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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And what about Japanese people in Japan, are they still trying to become part of a Japanese culture?
The short answer to this question is "yes".

Obviously, in some sense Japanese people define what is Japanese culture. However, it is also true that, today, all cultures are disappearing into a monolithic modernity, and, from that perspective, there are many Japanese people who perceive "Japanese culture" as something antiquated and slightly foreign that requires study to understand.

For example, based on my experience here in Kyoto, I have no doubt that Japanese people do not see keikogi as simply training clothes. When they do training in non-budo of any kind, they wear western athletic wear indistinguishable from that seen in the US. Keikogi is for Japanese activities.

Most of the Japanese people I have met in my dojo here are essentially the same types of people you would find in dojos in the US. I have never been to a US dojo where there is a corporate ladder-climber, for example, and I haven't seen one in a dojo here in Kyoto, either.

As someone else has noted, the answer to the original question depends a lot on what you mean by aikido. If you think aikido is just a self-defense system or is a truly spiritual undertaking, then obviously the cultural trappings are not essential. However, I don't think most people fall into either of these two categories.

As for me, I probably wouldn't study aikido if it were done in street clothes and without etiquette. Many elements of the world outside the dojo are not to my liking, so I see studying any budo as a sort of... what?... meditation? I can turn off certain parts of my brain in the dojo that I couldn't if we were all wearing shorts and t-shirts with corporate logos or identity slogans.

This makes it sound like I have a social problem of some kind, but I don't think so. I don't get huffy over corporate advertising, it just isn't natural to me. Although the keikogi and etiquette probably seemed artificial, superficial, or forced to most people, I find they make the training experience more natural and visceral.

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Old 08-22-2013, 08:15 AM   #47
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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Mao tried to do away with the Chinese characters and adopt the Roman alphabet (that's the origin of Pinyin, I believe). I know the Japanese have discussed in the past adopting English as an official second language in Japan. Maybe they considered getting rid of the Chinese characters and kana as well.
When it comes to putting writing on cars, they tend to use romanji instead of kana or kanji.
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Old 08-22-2013, 08:32 AM   #48
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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Actually Chris, I doubt if that sort of change will have much impact on koryu. I'm not saying they won't continue to evolve and grow, they will. They are living arts rather than fossils.

First though, the koryu don't change to adapt to students. Students change to adapt to the koryu, or they leave. So there is no push here for them.

I don't know of any koryu that is trying to become widespread and attempting to garner large number of students. The fastest growing koryu are some of the iaido ryu and Shinto Muso Ryu. None of them are bent on becoming hugely famous. They grow organically, and sometimes they even inhibit growth because they do not support the idea that if you are the only student in an area then you should teach. They are usually pretty tough about waiting to teach until you're really ready for the role.

Second, learning is always with a senior uke. You don't train with a junior.uke, whether it is jujutsu, kenjutsu or something else. This means rising students don't have a chance to try changing things until they are well and truly embedded in the system.

As koryu become more available, they still aren't becoming common. When someone can open a dojo, they often do, but the dojo stay small. Because of their insistence upon students changing to suit the ryuha rather than the other way around, they don't attract a lot of students. There is no commercial push to make the ryuha popular by changing it (unlike the guys at the IJF and judo).

Most of the koryu absolutely require wearing a hakama for at least part of their training. This isn't a ritual or cultural requirement, but a technological one. You really need all the cords and obi of a hakama to properly wear a katana for iaido practice. I've tried it with a number different set-ups on occasions when I didn't want to bother changing or a hakama wasn't available. It just doesn't work.

And then, koryu are all about maintaining the traditions. I think the community would be exceptionally clear in letting anyone who tried to jettison the traditions that whatever they might be doing, it isn't iaido or kenjutsu or whatever. The gekkiken guys and the chambarra folks have had to develop their own outfits and systems because everyone has been quite clear that they aren't doing kenjutsu or kendo.

Unlike Aikido, the koryu tend to have exceptionally strong organizations. They may have splits, but there are always guys at the top where the buck stops. There isn't room in the koryu for the kind of innovation we're talking about here.
There aren't really koryu organizations - well, I suppose there are, Kashima Shinryu has a federation - what really happens is, usually everybody is a direct student of the teacher. It isn't like here is your instructor for the evening, and a couple times a year you go to a seminar with one of the big guys and he throws your instructors around. For the most part. So when the head guy dies, the dojo often splinters because suddenly many of these people who have trained with each other for years (decades) can't get comfortable under the new guy if there is one. That's the opposite of a strong organization.

The basic deal with koryu is that they are based on ideals that were defined in a bygone era, and they could not be defined in modern times. So there is no question of whether there is a better way to do something. You maintain the tradition because the tradition is the art itself.

Aikido could be like this, but we can't even agree on what it is. If you find a teacher or an organization you like and stick to that, you are probably on the best track, but you have to stop looking around to see if somebody else is doing something cooler or more magical.
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Old 08-22-2013, 09:13 AM   #49
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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Christian Mikkelson wrote: View Post
The short answer to this question is "yes".

Obviously, in some sense Japanese people define what is Japanese culture. However, it is also true that, today, all cultures are disappearing into a monolithic modernity, and, from that perspective, there are many Japanese people who perceive "Japanese culture" as something antiquated and slightly foreign that requires study to understand.

For example, based on my experience here in Kyoto, I have no doubt that Japanese people do not see keikogi as simply training clothes. When they do training in non-budo of any kind, they wear western athletic wear indistinguishable from that seen in the US. Keikogi is for Japanese activities.
Japanese people tend to be picky about what's acceptable - for example, people playing golf or tennis both have acceptable "uniforms" as well.

I'd note that the keikogi is a created tradition - not something that belongs to traditional budo, but something that was created by Jigoro Kano. It was created as...training clothes.

So..if Budo can't be practiced without keikogi, what did all those Budo guys before Kano do?

Quote:
Christian Mikkelson wrote: View Post
As for me, I probably wouldn't study aikido if it were done in street clothes and without etiquette. Many elements of the world outside the dojo are not to my liking, so I see studying any budo as a sort of... what?... meditation? I can turn off certain parts of my brain in the dojo that I couldn't if we were all wearing shorts and t-shirts with corporate logos or identity slogans.
That's your preference of course, but that doesn't mean that that it's impossible, we do it around here quite often. Once again, if Morihei Ueshiba taught outside without keikogi or etiquette (as he was known to do on many occassions), would it still be Aikido?

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-22-2013, 09:19 AM   #50
Cady Goldfield
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 871
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Re: Is is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

I wish I could find the hilarious piece that (I think) Jim Baker wrote, years ago, comparing dressing up and playing "cowboys" in Japan, to dressing up and playing "aikido" in the West.
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