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Old 08-26-2013, 03:14 AM   #76
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Re: Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

rei matters.

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Old 08-26-2013, 07:46 AM   #77
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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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Quick point of order: what I warned against was imbuing them with pseudo-religious importance. Of course these things have meaning. If they didn't have meaning they wouldn't still be around. I wasn't calling these things meaningless; I was suggesting they are not vitally important to the question of what is and is not aikido.

But is the "thinking steeped in religious thought" you're talking about really contained in what we wear and how many times we bow? And what's more, can't someone who has no knowledge of or interest in Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and Shinto still practice real aikido?
Aikido is a product of a martial culture which is a subset of an educational tradition where a student's interest in or knowledge of what they are actually doing is of little importance. Students are like seeds, the instruction and practice are like water and sunlight, and etiquette, dojo cleaning rituals, training attire, and the like are the soil.
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Old 08-26-2013, 09:35 AM   #78
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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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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.
Yes, I am aware of the history of keikogi from Inoue's article in Mirror of Modernity, as I suspect are you. However, I think you miss the point of this article as it relates to modern Japan. Kano did not create special "budo" clothes, there was simply no training-wear at the time. If the Japanese thought of the keikogi as simply training clothes, they would have replaced it, just as they have replaced kimonos with tuxs and white wedding dresses as the "uniforms" for weddings. No, the Japanese connect the keikogi with budo because of its Japanese-ness, not because it is simply the right uniform when you go to aikido.

I agree that Ueshiba wore "regular" clothes for training, so what is my point?

As I said previously, if you think aikido is either (A) a purely physical and results-oriented self-defense system or (B) a spiritual pursuit connected with universal truths, there is no reason to see aikido as culturally nested. However, by almost any other definition of what aikido is, or any other goal of an aikido practitioner, aikido is at least partially a cultural pursuit. The argument against the keikogi is almost a straw-man argument because it is one of the least important cultural aspects of the practice, but it is one. For example, having clothes that wrap and tie give you a different feeling of movement from having clothes that pull over and have elastic.

To examine via reductio ad absurdum, we could make the same argument as is made against keikogi against suwari waza or against wrist grabs. That is, Ueshiba practiced what was in his daily life. He wore Japanese clothes because he wore them in his regular life. He did suwari waza because he sat in seiza in his regular life. He practiced wrist grabs because he grew up in a time when people were still familiar with and owned traditional weapons. Ergo, we should practice aikido in sweatpants, out of chairs, and against sucker punches. Etc. But if you start removing all these elements, you just end up with people practicing a type of gymnastics rather than a budo.

(Plus, you run the risk that when you get rid of element X from your practice, you haven't understood X's total importance and you lose the opportunity to learn from it.)

I think the fundamental problem with your position is that you are arguing against any static definition of a "traditional culture" while the reality is that, while "traditional culture" may have been different in 1600, 1800, and 2000, there were definite cultures at these times. Practicing aikido may not be touching a "traditional Japanese culture," but it is touching a past Japanese culture.

Of course, learning about 20th century Japan is not the purpose of aikido, and taking aikido for that purpose is probably a big FAIL, but if you take aikido in a classical dojo, you will learn something about it.

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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?
The short answer is "no". Unless aikido is a cult. If aikido is a cult, then yes everyone should follow the master's path. But if not, then we can find our own meanings and goals in it. It may be that aikido has an "intelligent design" and a "teleology" to its practice, but that doesn't mean we need to follow it.

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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?
Revisiting the problem of traditions, there is not a strict dichotomy between the existence of a single unbroken tradition and the absence of context. Ueshiba may have trained in something besides keikogi and without etiquette, but he did not train in nylon shorts, jeans, or sweat pants nor with students who would hold their own sidebar conversations, ask self-involved questions, or step away from training without asking leave.

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Old 08-26-2013, 09:50 AM   #79
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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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Yes, I am aware of the history of keikogi from Inoue's article in Mirror of Modernity, as I suspect are you. However, I think you miss the point of this article as it relates to modern Japan. Kano did not create special "budo" clothes, there was simply no training-wear at the time. If the Japanese thought of the keikogi as simply training clothes, they would have replaced it, just as they have replaced kimonos with tuxs and white wedding dresses as the "uniforms" for weddings. No, the Japanese connect the keikogi with budo because of its Japanese-ness, not because it is simply the right uniform when you go to aikido.
I haven't read the article, and I wasn't referencing it. There are plenty of Japanese things that haven't been replaced by western counterparts. That doesn't mean that they have a special "Japanese" aura. You haven't done anything here except reassert your initial argument (which I still disagree with).

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As I said previously, if you think aikido is either (A) a purely physical and results-oriented self-defense system or (B) a spiritual pursuit connected with universal truths, there is no reason to see aikido as culturally nested. However, by almost any other definition of what aikido is, or any other goal of an aikido practitioner, aikido is at least partially a cultural pursuit.
You're defining it that way certainly - but there are also many people who don't. None of the standard definitions of Aikido that I've seen included a cultural dimension.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-26-2013, 09:55 AM   #80
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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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To examine via reductio ad absurdum, we could make the same argument as is made against keikogi against suwari waza or against wrist grabs. That is, Ueshiba practiced what was in his daily life. He wore Japanese clothes because he wore them in his regular life. He did suwari waza because he sat in seiza in his regular life. He practiced wrist grabs because he grew up in a time when people were still familiar with and owned traditional weapons. Ergo, we should practice aikido in sweatpants, out of chairs, and against sucker punches. Etc. But if you start removing all these elements, you just end up with people practicing a type of gymnastics rather than a budo.
Actually, Daito ryu was not extremely popular at the turn of the 20th century because it involved cultural elements that were commonplace at the time at all. It was popular because it gave students at that time the feeling that they were, in fact, participating in bygone traditions and culture of the preceding era.

So yeah, I think Ueshiba was in fact studying / attempting to emulate a culture that was not entirely his own. So for those of you who want to try to follow in his footsteps, maybe you should consider that!
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Old 08-26-2013, 10:08 AM   #81
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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 chuckled when you mentioned Kano Shihan and keikogi. In the circles I run around in in Japan, keikogi means the nice, traditional indigo uwagi worn for kendo, kenjutsu and related stuff. The thing Kano Shihan created is usually referred to particularly as a judogi. It may be because I spend so much time in the koryu world and so little time in gendai budo circles these days.
The following link will take you to photos of an embu at Shiramine Shrine, near my home in Kyoto. The Shiramine embu has practitioners from koryu like HNIR kenjutsu and kusarigama-jutsu. Note from the photos that the koryu practitioners do not wear keikogi. I am (tabun) sure kendo's indigo uwagi is adopted from Kano's design. Kano designed a keikogi. If you wear it for judo, it is is a judogi. If you wear it for kendo, it is a kendogi. If you go into Tozando, they are selling different things for different arts, but the differences are recent and pretty insignificant, like where the seam is.

http://www10.ocn.ne.jp/~siramine/page041.html

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Old 08-26-2013, 10:13 AM   #82
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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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Imagine you're walking in a backwoods area of Japan.
There's a small college nearby and the gymnasium is right ahead. You hear strange noises and sneak in to investigate. You go up a stairway to what must be the Alumni booth overlooking the gym floor.

Down below there are dozens of Japanese men and women dressed up in costumes from America's Wild West of the 1800's. Some have ten-gallon hats; others have big fuzzy chaps; all are wearing holsters with wooden guns. They've paired off with "pardners" and stand 2.5 meters apart. The one on the left, called "varmint", says the traditional phrase, "This town has not sufficient size to contain two of us. You must depart." The person on the right, the "Good Guy", responds, "Reach for your shooting irons, you unclean rodent!" They both draw their wooden guns and yell, "Bang!", and the "varmint" falls to the ground; the "Good Guy" blows on the barrel of his wooden gun.

This is repeated four times. The "pardners" then switch sides. This goes on until the "Sheriff" stops class to demonstrate a new "draw."

Do these people seem silly? Would you laugh at them?
If this is how people were taught to shoot in the American west, then it would not seem silly at all to see the Japanese emulate that practice. That is a critical flaw. People did not shoot that way in the American west, but the Japanese did teach us to practice budo this way.

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Old 08-26-2013, 10:22 AM   #83
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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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The following link will take you to photos of an embu at Shiramine Shrine, near my home in Kyoto. The Shiramine embu has practitioners from koryu like HNIR kenjutsu and kusarigama-jutsu. Note from the photos that the koryu practitioners do not wear keikogi. I am (tabun) sure kendo's indigo uwagi is adopted from Kano's design. Kano designed a keikogi. If you wear it for judo, it is is a judogi. If you wear it for kendo, it is a kendogi. If you go into Tozando, they are selling different things for different arts, but the differences are recent and pretty insignificant, like where the seam is.

http://www10.ocn.ne.jp/~siramine/page041.html
I always thought the dogi was just a thicker samue.
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Old 08-26-2013, 10:22 AM   #84
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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, Daito ryu was not extremely popular at the turn of the 20th century because it involved cultural elements that were commonplace at the time at all. It was popular because it gave students at that time the feeling that they were, in fact, participating in bygone traditions and culture of the preceding era.

So yeah, I think Ueshiba was in fact studying / attempting to emulate a culture that was not entirely his own. So for those of you who want to try to follow in his footsteps, maybe you should consider that!
Well, there was a general tend towards westernization in Meiji - but I can't think of any of Sokaku Takeda's students who were actively or primarily interested in the cultural elements. In fact, Sokaku taught mostly short workshops with people who were primarily interested in the practical martial elements.

In any case, I think that if people think really think that they are learning Japanese culture in Aikido class - then they ought to think again.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-26-2013, 10:40 AM   #85
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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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Well, there was a general tend towards westernization in Meiji - but I can't think of any of Sokaku Takeda's students who were actively or primarily interested in the cultural elements. In fact, Sokaku taught mostly short workshops with people who were primarily interested in the practical martial elements.

In any case, I think that if people think really think that they are learning Japanese culture in Aikido class - then they ought to think again.

Best,

Chris
I have not meant "Japanese culture." I am referring to "budo culture" or perhaps "warrior culture." This is something that many Japanese themselves are interested in today. I find it hard to believe there was a single student of Takeda's for whom this was not their essential motivation.
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Old 08-26-2013, 11:03 AM   #86
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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 haven't read the article, and I wasn't referencing it. There are plenty of Japanese things that haven't been replaced by western counterparts. That doesn't mean that they have a special "Japanese" aura. You haven't done anything here except reassert your initial argument (which I still disagree with).
I didn't use the phrase "special 'Japanese' aura," and I think it is unfortunate. At the risk of misinterpreting what you mean by that phrase, I will point out that you are arguing that Japanese things are not especially Japanese, which I think it is safe to say is objectively wrong as a virtual self-contradiction. As a matter of fact, there is almost nothing left in Japan that hasn't been replaced by a western counterpart. The things are left are most definitely thought of by the Japanese as being Japanese... e.g., chopsticks, Japanese food, Shinto shrines, the Japanese language, futons. Those are examples of things that used in daily life. There are some few cultural artifacts still bumping around like tea ceremony and budo. These are also most definitely thought of by the Japanese as being Japanese. You asserted that the keikogi is chosen by the Japanese for training in aikido because of Japanese pickiness about having proper clothes. That is most definitely not why the keikogi has survived in dojos. The Japanese think of keikogi and budo as complementary parts of traditional Japanese culture, and that is why the keikogi has survived in the dojo.

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You're defining it that way certainly - but there are also many people who don't. None of the standard definitions of Aikido that I've seen included a cultural dimension.
You are missing my point, which was that unless you specifically define aikido as something that is based on universal principles like spiritualism or combat efficiency, your definition of aikido must contain an element of cultural study whether you recognize it or not. Even just calling it "aikido" contains rudimentary language study.

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Old 08-26-2013, 11:42 AM   #87
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Re: Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

I would be hard-pressed to find an aikido book that does not glorify, if not misrepresent, the Japanaese cultural, including linguistic translation. In promoting the art, it is not inappropriate - I am fine with the PR campaign. If I am consuming the material as fact... Well...

I tend to avoid cultural labels in aikido because so much of what we "know" is not accurate. Most of what I have redefined in my "knowledge" of aikido has actually come from other historical books and non-aikido material. I think if we are going to claim aikido provides a sound foundation of Japanese cultural or socio-historical information, we have a lot of work in front of us.

I think there aikido people who have a working knowledge of Japanese culture they may not have pursued without training aikido. I am not sure all aikido people have taken to increasing their cultural awareness beyond what is required in their training. I think part of the interest of Japanese martial arts is the close ties to a romaticized war class. There is an attraction to the cultural period that we have decided to remain part of. Wearing one-size-fits-most scratchy undies is undoubtably a decision based upon the culture period in which we want to stay rooted. I can buy $10 worth of workout clothes from Walmart that are more comfortable, more effective, and more appropriate for a variety of training conditions... especially down South.

I think tying ourselves to a "exotic" culture with extreme etiquette gives us validation and authority over those who know less. It sets an image for those around us to inquire, "what are those people doing in with those wooden sticks and outlandish clothes?" In saying this, I am not criticizing the value of this decision; I think identifying with a period and a culture can often provide a context in which we are able to act.

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Old 08-26-2013, 12:14 PM   #88
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Re: Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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I tend to avoid cultural labels in aikido because so much of what we "know" is not accurate. Most of what I have redefined in my "knowledge" of aikido has actually come from other historical books and non-aikido material.
Like what do you mean specifically? Could you list some examples?
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Old 08-26-2013, 01:02 PM   #89
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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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Aikido is a product of a martial culture which is a subset of an educational tradition where a student's interest in or knowledge of what they are actually doing is of little importance. Students are like seeds, the instruction and practice are like water and sunlight, and etiquette, dojo cleaning rituals, training attire, and the like are the soil.
So what if we put them in different soil? What does that change, really?

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Old 08-26-2013, 01:10 PM   #90
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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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If this is how people were taught to shoot in the American west, then it would not seem silly at all to see the Japanese emulate that practice. That is a critical flaw. People did not shoot that way in the American west, but the Japanese did teach us to practice budo this way.
My (admittedly limited) experience has taught me that the Westerners who try the hardest to be Japanese often end up creating a cartoon-like caricature of the way the Japanese really train and teach. I'm a big fan of karate blogger Rob Redmond, who spent two years training in Nagoya, Japan. When he arrived in Japan, he discovered that what his American instructors had taught him was the "Japanese" way of doing things was comical to many of his Japanese training partners.

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Old 08-26-2013, 01:34 PM   #91
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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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So what if we put them in different soil? What does that change, really?
Point is, you need soil.
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Old 08-26-2013, 02:36 PM   #92
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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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Point is, you need soil.
I don't understand how that answers my question.

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Old 08-26-2013, 03:07 PM   #93
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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 don't understand how that answers my question.
Well what do you suggest replacing "clothes, etiquette, and other things" with?

There are differences in these from organization to organization in Aikido...
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Old 08-26-2013, 04:19 PM   #94
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Re: Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Aikidoka's reduces hakama, start to do sparring and becomes sambo fighters. Joke only.
It's near by self-definition as for me. If you take all ideas so you will be aikido guy but if you ask: "Why I had to bow this old man photo?" you need something different. Maybe the motto of japanese martial arts is: "All or nothing".

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Old 08-26-2013, 04:34 PM   #95
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Re: Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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Well what do you suggest replacing "clothes, etiquette, and other things" with?

There are differences in these from organization to organization in Aikido...
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Ivan Labushevskiy wrote: View Post
Aikidoka's reduces hakama, start to do sparring and becomes sambo fighters. Joke only.
It's near by self-definition as for me. If you take all ideas so you will be aikido guy but if you ask: "Why I had to bow this old man photo?" you need something different. Maybe the motto of japanese martial arts is: "All or nothing".
Yesterday, I was in the park, training aikido weapons with friends from several different aikido clubs. There was no dojo. We were in shoes and on hard ground, so there was no seiza. There was no kamiza with a picture of O Sensei to bow to or raise our weapons to. We did not wear gis or hakamas. Were we still training aikido, or had we invented something else?

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Old 08-26-2013, 06:46 PM   #96
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Re: Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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Yesterday, I was in the park, training aikido weapons with friends from several different aikido clubs. There was no dojo. We were in shoes and on hard ground, so there was no seiza. There was no kamiza with a picture of O Sensei to bow to or raise our weapons to. We did not wear gis or hakamas. Were we still training aikido, or had we invented something else?
Aikido-based jujutsu? While I make no assertions as to what is, I can see how removing the etiquette might make it something else.
...Bearing in mind I tend to take the approach that whatever people want to call something makes little difference beyond communication needs (i.e. call it what you like; conversation is for ironing out individual semantics).

Last edited by mathewjgano : 08-26-2013 at 06:51 PM.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 08-26-2013, 06:57 PM   #97
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Re: Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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Yesterday, I was in the park, training aikido weapons with friends from several different aikido clubs. There was no dojo. We were in shoes and on hard ground, so there was no seiza. There was no kamiza with a picture of O Sensei to bow to or raise our weapons to. We did not wear gis or hakamas. Were we still training aikido, or had we invented something else?
My personal take on it, honestly, is that that was an extracurricular special study session, where you practiced some forms that will help you do them better when you are in the dojo, where, being aiki weapons, they are themselves a kind of sidebar study of Aikido.

What if you lost your mat space and all you could do was get together in the park and practice weapons in street clothes? How long before you decided it was pointless?
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Old 08-26-2013, 08:08 PM   #98
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Re: Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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My personal take on it, honestly, is that that was an extracurricular special study session, where you practiced some forms that will help you do them better when you are in the dojo, where, being aiki weapons, they are themselves a kind of sidebar study of Aikido.

What if you lost your mat space and all you could do was get together in the park and practice weapons in street clothes? How long before you decided it was pointless?
But that doesn't really answer the question with regards to the subject of this thread. Suppose the ground had been soft enough for us to train taijutsu: would that have been aikido?

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Old 08-26-2013, 11:50 PM   #99
IvLabush
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Join Date: Jul 2013
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Ukraine
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Re: Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Quote:
Matthew Story wrote: View Post
Yesterday, I was in the park, training aikido weapons with friends from several different aikido clubs. There was no dojo. We were in shoes and on hard ground, so there was no seiza. There was no kamiza with a picture of O Sensei to bow to or raise our weapons to. We did not wear gis or hakamas. Were we still training aikido, or had we invented something else?
Ueshiba had been practiced in western clothe also. He had been practiced open air. And as far as I see he had been practiced all the time not on the training sessions only. I mean that it's normal to practice somewhere out of dojo. But if the goal is to change training uniform or some rituals it will ruin aikido.

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Old 08-27-2013, 06:36 AM   #100
OwlMatt
 
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Dojo: Milwaukee Aikikai
Location: Wisconsin
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 401
United_States
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Re: Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Quote:
Ivan Labushevskiy wrote: View Post
Ueshiba had been practiced in western clothe also. He had been practiced open air. And as far as I see he had been practiced all the time not on the training sessions only. I mean that it's normal to practice somewhere out of dojo. But if the goal is to change training uniform or some rituals it will ruin aikido.
1. I don't think that is the goal.
2. How would it ruin aikido?

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