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Old 08-27-2013, 08:11 PM   #126
RonRagusa
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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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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Well if you went and changed things drastically from the way you were taught, there is a good chance you'd fail to transmit a lot of stuff you learned.
The most important thing Maruyama sensei taught me was to not try to be a cookie-cutter version of him. He showed me that Aikido is an emergent phenomenon and that in order for me to continue growing I had to make it mine and let it take me where it would. Beyond transmitting the basics of technique/Ki development and my own ongoing story, I generally leave students to their own devices in order that they may find Aikido for themselves.

And I haven't changed (as in on purpose) much at all. Whatever changes have crept into my teaching have done so as a result of my continued growth and the evolution of my Aikido.

Ron

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Old 08-28-2013, 05:15 AM   #127
Carsten Möllering
 
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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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IWhen Ueshiba himself explains what aikido is all about, he doesn't say anything about clothes, buildings, or rituals -- at least as far as I have read.
As far as I know he spoke about wearing hakama? Wasn't he also strict about rituals?

But, maybe he did not emphasize those things because a lot of it was just self-evident for him?
I sometimes have made the experience that the behaviour of Europeans in a dōjō can be a real culture-shock for Japanese teachers. I remember Endō sensei lecturing at length about the correct use of zori when leaving the tatami about three years ago.

On the other hand I experience Japanese to be much more uncomplicated regarding rules of correct behaviour and clothing. But I think this is because they dont't have to think about it. They behave intuively and know the fine line between "free" and "wrong".

Regarding the question of this thread:
Throughout our whole life we wear different clothes matching different occasions, situations or places. And we behave corresponding to these settings.
So I think wearing hakama, observing proper etiquette and other things are important as far as practicing in a dōjō is concerned. The setting of the dōjō needs those things. And they also teach something in this situation.
But aikidō is not only practiced in a dōjō. One of the most important lessons I ever got from my teacher happenend in pub near a dōjō. No etiquette, no dogi, nothing of that.
Finally, I think there are certain aspects constituting aikidō that have to be practiced in the formal setting of a dōjō. If you would take them away you would loose parts of the core of what at least I belive aikidō to be.
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Old 08-28-2013, 09:17 AM   #128
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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 far as I know he spoke about wearing hakama? Wasn't he also strict about rituals?
I believe you are correct. These kinds of things were clearly important to Ueshiba, but the question at hand is not whether or not they are important, but whether or not they are essential to the definition of aikido. And nothing I've ever read from Ueshiba indicates that he believed they were.

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Old 08-28-2013, 10:10 AM   #129
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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 believe you are correct. These kinds of things were clearly important to Ueshiba, but the question at hand is not whether or not they are important, but whether or not they are essential to the definition of aikido. And nothing I've ever read from Ueshiba indicates that he believed they were.
But the thing is, you might not see him say specifically "the hakama and dogi, as well as clapping and bowing, are essential to Aikido." Because for this to be remarkable at all would require that he thought of them as distinct things at all, and not part of a larger gestalt of cultural transmission.

If he is quoted as saying the hakama is important at all, that really does tell you something.

In general I think the thing would be to look for cases where he tells students they need to attend to details, keep themselves clean, not be lazy, not be sloppy, stuff like that.
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Old 08-28-2013, 10:27 AM   #130
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Re: Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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So when I say "Why are we going to agree to disagree" I mean...to what extent do you think the traditions of Aikido (your Aikido) can be changed by students without transforming the practice into something else?
Good question. To me it's important to differentiate values and traditions that are specific to the dojo I'm part of, as they are different from those of other dojos.

However...dojos at times experience massive changes. My current dojo is a good example: it started as part of Aikikai, went with Tohei Sensei after the split into Ki Society, left to become independent, affiliated with Pacific Aikido Federation, left to become independent, is currently independent but loosely affiliating with an Aikikai dojo with Iwama lineage. Each time, though certain core values of our dojo culture remained intact (philosophy of inclusion, roots in rural community) there were changes in the pedagogy, how certain techniques were taught, etc. There were huge changes but they were still Aikido.

To me Aikido is at its essence a martial art that involves a defined partner practice of a technical curriculum (the definition of the partner training contract and the curriculum may vary dojo to dojo) that embodies the principles laid down by OSensei (as interpreted by the high level instructors within each organization or by the dojocho of an independent dojo).

I have seen dojos that do Saito Sensei's 31 jo kata counting aloud in Japanese, counting aloud in English, and not counting aloud at all. Is there a point at which it is wrong or not properly transmitting Japanese culture?

Again, I have no argument against wearing keikogi...but that's purely because I don't think it's important either way and don't see any reason to not wear one in regular practice. In a koryu, it's different because of the way a ryu operates on a centuries old lineage, along with designated spiritual practices that are part and parcel of an overarching tradition. In a modern art, I'm not buying it as that important.

I agree that etiquette plays an important role in establishing the dojo's cultural norms and promoting harmonious relations between members - smoothing being the role of etiquette outside of m.a. anyhow - but the FORM it takes is less important to me than that there is some recognized formal etiquette.

My 2 cents for now....back to work

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Old 08-28-2013, 10:30 AM   #131
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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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But the thing is, you might not see him say specifically "the hakama and dogi, as well as clapping and bowing, are essential to Aikido." Because for this to be remarkable at all would require that he thought of them as distinct things at all, and not part of a larger gestalt of cultural transmission.
My understanding of history is that, by the time Ueshiba had established his own dojo in the 1940s, Kano and Funakoshi had already popularized budo that were practiced without hakamas. Furthermore, many of Ueshiba's students came to aikido after first training these budo. It doesn't make sense to me to believe, in that context, that it went without saying that budo and the hakama were inseparable.

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In general I think the thing would be to look for cases where he tells students they need to attend to details, keep themselves clean, not be lazy, not be sloppy, stuff like that.
Those are all very vague things. I think it would be a stretch to consider them evidence of a specific assertion about a specific garment or practice.

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Old 08-28-2013, 01:27 PM   #132
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Re: Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

I say, yes, it is still Aikido.

2 situations happened this week. I wasn't wearing a gi and or a hakama for either yet I like to think I was practicing Aikido during each one.

1. Drunky guy came up on my 2 grandsons, my daughter and I while we waiting for the balloon clown to make a red balloon dog for Tony at Summerfest. Drunky guy slurs..."Hi Mary. How are ya?.. and moves in for a hug. I extended my arm and said "NO Hugs."...with a smile. He bounced back before touching my extended hand..."NO Hugs?" he mumbled looking astonished. I said firmly, "No hugging." while still smiling...he said, " I will be in to pay soon". I said, "Okay, nice to see you." and he shambled away. My daughter said," Who was that?" I said, "Storage customer." and she said, "Wow, you handled that well.

2. Angry storage customer starts swearing and cursing at me because his unit is over-locked. I turned on my heel and started to walk away. He yelled "What I am going to @#$#@ do? I said that it was not okay to cuss at me or yell at me and that I would help him when he stopped. He cussed and yelled some more and I continued walking away. He came towards me. I stopped and turned to face him and said I would check his account and get back to him. He followed me. I told him he could not come in my office if he continue to cuss and yell. He chose to stay outside. I told him his balance. He handed me a credit card outside. I ran his card and handed it back to him. I then removed his lock and thanked him. When he cussed again and said, "Why are you thanking me?"...I walked away. His anger and problems didn't hurt me.

To me...both of these incidents were Aikido. No hakama, no etiquette...just Aikido.

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Old 08-28-2013, 02:14 PM   #133
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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 agree that etiquette plays an important role in ... promoting harmonious relations between members
I think etiquette in the context of a dōjō or in budō in general in the first place is about your relation to yourself and your place to place you are and the budō you practice. See, even when you're alone in the dōjō the etiquette stays the same.

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To me...both of these incidents were Aikido.
I think I get, what you mean. And if you understand Aikido the way you do, you are right.
I don't want to argue against your understanding of what Aikido is. Just want to say that my understanding is different. And maybe whether one "needs" hakama, etiquette etc. to call it aikidō or not depends also on our image of what aikidō is?

Last edited by Carsten Möllering : 08-28-2013 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 08-28-2013, 02:47 PM   #134
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Re: Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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To me...both of these incidents were Aikido. No hakama, no etiquette...just Aikido.
Hmmm very good point. Were these incidents training or application? (Or something else?)
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Old 08-28-2013, 04:33 PM   #135
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Re: Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

Application.

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Old 08-29-2013, 07:44 AM   #136
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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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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.
Hi Matthew,

I used to train in Shotokan and corresponded with Rob Redmond. Right now, I am training in Japan!

It is important to keep in mind that Redmond's experience is only one person's. For example, I had the impression from reading his forums that only Americans said "osu". But actually, not only is "osu" used in my dojo, but it is used by lots of Japanese who play western sports, etc. So the "mistaken" Americans who "osu"ed to everyone at every opportunity weren't really wrong. Go figure!!

Just like America, you can find dojos in Japan doing all kinds of different things. Some of them are relaxed, some formal. Some teach strict forms, some teach budo-yoga fusion stuff. It takes all kinds.

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Old 08-29-2013, 07:58 AM   #137
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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 in those photos only the karate and aikido people are wearing judo dogi. I will say that I know a lot of HNIR folks who train in neither judogi no hakama. They like samue.
Yes, I also know HNIR people who also like samue. When he does demonstrations, however, the soke wears traditional Japanese clothes, not uwagi. The same is true of many other koryu. This is contrasted with kendo, where demonstrations will be performed in uwagi. My point is that uwagi is not "traditional training clothes," otherwise it would be worn by koryu for demonstrations. So if it is not traditional, where is it from? It comes from Kano, who started a trend away from wearing regular clothes to wearing specialized training clothes. The karate and aikido people are not wearing judogi, they are wearing keikogi. The karate ones and the aikido ones are different from the judo ones, and all of those are different from the kendo, jukendo, naginatado, etc ones. But they are all keikogi, and all have their roots in Kano's design.

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Old 08-29-2013, 08:08 AM   #138
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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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My understanding of history is that, by the time Ueshiba had established his own dojo in the 1940s, Kano and Funakoshi had already popularized budo that were practiced without hakamas. Furthermore, many of Ueshiba's students came to aikido after first training these budo. It doesn't make sense to me to believe, in that context, that it went without saying that budo and the hakama were inseparable.
Yes, also both Funakoshi and Ueshiba sent teachers to the army's secret services school, where I believe MI and civilian spies trained in their own clothes. See the movie "Kuro-Obi" (should be available on YouTUbe) for a dramatization of army practicing karate.

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Old 08-29-2013, 08:17 AM   #139
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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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My point is that uwagi is not "traditional training clothes," otherwise it would be worn by koryu for demonstrations.
Demonstrations are not training. I think it is fairly obvious that you would dress up for an embu.
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Old 08-29-2013, 09:31 AM   #140
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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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Hi Matthew,

I used to train in Shotokan and corresponded with Rob Redmond. Right now, I am training in Japan!

It is important to keep in mind that Redmond's experience is only one person's. For example, I had the impression from reading his forums that only Americans said "osu". But actually, not only is "osu" used in my dojo, but it is used by lots of Japanese who play western sports, etc. So the "mistaken" Americans who "osu"ed to everyone at every opportunity weren't really wrong. Go figure!!
I don't think Redmond's issue was with the use of osu as much as the misunderstanding of it. As you say, osu is a sportsman's word, not a sacred word with a great deal of religious or ritual significance. What Redmond is explaining with osu, I think, is something that happens over and over again: some Japanese say, "This is how we practice budo," and Westerners hear, "This is how budo must be practiced, otherwise you are committing sacrilege."

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Just like America, you can find dojos in Japan doing all kinds of different things. Some of them are relaxed, some formal. Some teach strict forms, some teach budo-yoga fusion stuff. It takes all kinds.
That is definitely true. But I think the existence of "all kinds" only lends more credence to the idea that one doesn't have to be one particular kind to be authentically Japanese.

Last edited by OwlMatt : 08-29-2013 at 09:35 AM.

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Old 08-29-2013, 10:56 AM   #141
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Re: Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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You aren't saying that, because your understanding of these things has evolved, that you cannot accept anything about Aikido?

A minor point, but....because your understanding and opinion on these matters has changed, does not mean "we" were "wrong" about them.

We have some new and different translations available to us now, but they have not proven the older ones to be "wrong."
Several years ago I spoke with a friend of my brother. The friend hppened to be in residency at NCSU from Hokkaido for a joint project. In talking about aikido, this friend told me that several of the elements I raised in conversation were not necessaryily wrong, but coloquial. To praphrase his response, "If I started talking to you in old English, I would be speaking English, but not contemporary English." To his point, and my larger point, I am not confident that our aikido curriculum is adequate to claim a [functioning] cultural knowledge about Japan. There may be individual examples that could make this claim, but overall...

Second, I am specifically trying to avoid combining a ideologiocal belief with a practical fact. In some of my previous post I spent some time speaking about translations as an example of an evolution of understanding. I do not think there is a right or wrong here, except to say that we did the best we could with what we had, and now we can do better. I think as long as we keep the context of the issue, we can avoid rights and wrongs. After all, hindsight is 20/20. Hopefully, we are never disseminating "wrong"...

I am getting at a point where we could evaluate the reason why we would deliberately hold on to an understating that is outdated or improved upon. Why would we hold onto a translations, for example, which has been more accurately re-written? I advocate that we make these decisions because they align with our ideological beliefs, not necessary because they are technically more accurate. There is something to saying, "I like this quote because it resonates with me", and be comfortable acknowledging the inaccuracy of the quote.

We [our dojo] have recently been making light of the concept of "blending" because we are working on this yin/yang thing that is moving our entire bodies. The positivie result is something like throwing uke into a blender where they are tossed around failry effortlessly by nage. The joke is that O Sensei was mistranslated, he really meant "blend" as in a blender, not as in to blend with.

At some point, you can empirically argue correctness. At one point in time, the world was flat. At another point in time, the world is round. Taken within context, both "facts" are correct. Of course, we know one fact to be correct and the other incorrect. I think you can similarly argue the correctness of revised translations - the issue is deciding if the factual revision bears impact on the consumption of the translation. The male eye sees 8 colors, none of which is tourquoise. In interpreting the color of the sea, I may say blue/green. My friend may say green/blue. My wife may say tourquoise. All three are acceptible translations, which is most correct?

This is my point regarding tying the dissemination of aikido to a cultural reference. It oligates us to remain informed of the quality of our cultural education and understand and address the contemporary impact of the reference. We are practicing an art tied to a time period in Japan, romaticized beyond fact, and translated across world. I think those are some pretty tricky waters to navigate with accuracy...

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Old 08-29-2013, 11:06 AM   #142
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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 also know HNIR people who also like samue. When he does demonstrations, however, the soke wears traditional Japanese clothes, not uwagi. The same is true of many other koryu. This is contrasted with kendo, where demonstrations will be performed in uwagi. My point is that uwagi is not "traditional training clothes," otherwise it would be worn by koryu for demonstrations. So if it is not traditional, where is it from? It comes from Kano, who started a trend away from wearing regular clothes to wearing specialized training clothes. The karate and aikido people are not wearing judogi, they are wearing keikogi. The karate ones and the aikido ones are different from the judo ones, and all of those are different from the kendo, jukendo, naginatado, etc ones. But they are all keikogi, and all have their roots in Kano's design.
I'm a little confused. Uwagi are just the top garment, your shirt or jacket. It's a more general term than keikogi. The standard blue keikogi is what most of the koryu people I train with demonstrate in. At the Budosai in Kyoto every May all the koryu weapons demonstrators are in keikogi, most indigo, a few in white or undyed. The fancy clothes come out for the iai demonstrations after the koryu weapons demonstrations are finished. The blue keikogi goes back to some point at least in the Edo period when indigo was a common color for workers and cloths that would get dirty (training gear). Historically, the Aikido people who don't wear hakama wear judogi. The things being sold as "aikidogi" are very new. I could go back though my collection of Meirin Sangyo catalogs and tell you exactly when they started selling them, but it was less than 10 years ago. And most aikido people just buy judogi. Calling it an aikidogi is 98% marketing. They change a couple of seams so they have something to sell.

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Old 08-29-2013, 05:26 PM   #143
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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 a little confused. Uwagi are just the top garment, your shirt or jacket. It's a more general term than keikogi. The standard blue keikogi is what most of the koryu people I train with demonstrate in. At the Budosai in Kyoto every May all the koryu weapons demonstrators are in keikogi, most indigo, a few in white or undyed. The fancy clothes come out for the iai demonstrations after the koryu weapons demonstrations are finished. The blue keikogi goes back to some point at least in the Edo period when indigo was a common color for workers and cloths that would get dirty (training gear). Historically, the Aikido people who don't wear hakama wear judogi. The things being sold as "aikidogi" are very new. I could go back though my collection of Meirin Sangyo catalogs and tell you exactly when they started selling them, but it was less than 10 years ago. And most aikido people just buy judogi. Calling it an aikidogi is 98% marketing. They change a couple of seams so they have something to sell.
I was under the impression that the "aikidogi" is just a judogi with shorter sleeves.

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Old 08-29-2013, 09:33 PM   #144
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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 was under the impression that the "aikidogi" is just a judogi with shorter sleeves.
Sometimes there are reinforced knees as well.
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Old 08-29-2013, 09:37 PM   #145
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Re: Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

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Second, I am specifically trying to avoid combining a ideologiocal belief with a practical fact. In some of my previous post I spent some time speaking about translations as an example of an evolution of understanding. I do not think there is a right or wrong here, except to say that we did the best we could with what we had, and now we can do better. I think as long as we keep the context of the issue, we can avoid rights and wrongs. After all, hindsight is 20/20. Hopefully, we are never disseminating "wrong"...

I am getting at a point where we could evaluate the reason why we would deliberately hold on to an understating that is outdated or improved upon. Why would we hold onto a translations, for example, which has been more accurately re-written? I advocate that we make these decisions because they align with our ideological beliefs, not necessary because they are technically more accurate. There is something to saying, "I like this quote because it resonates with me", and be comfortable acknowledging the inaccuracy of the quote.
You know that you don't know which translations are more accurate, right? And so your point is, that you pick the translations that most accurately reflect your own biases. It is hard to argue with that if you are upfront about it.
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Old 08-29-2013, 09:39 PM   #146
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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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Sometimes there are reinforced knees as well.
Don't all judogis have reinforced knees?

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Old 08-30-2013, 07:47 AM   #147
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Re: Is it still Aikido if you take away the Japanese clothes, etiquette and other things?

ahem eh ...

Do there really specific aikidō gi exist in "your world"?
Is there a supplier where you can by a 170 judō gi and a 170 aikidō gi and they are different?
Maybe bujin offered special gi?

Wow, I've never heard of this here in my context. So I'm really interested to learn something about that.

Whether the arms are more or less short and which way the knees are reinforced here in "my world" depends on the certain supplier and the different patterns of the gi he provides. But it's all judō gi.
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:57 AM   #148
ChrisMikk
 
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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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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Demonstrations are not training. I think it is fairly obvious that you would dress up for an embu.
Do kendo practitioners wear kimono for embu, or does anyone besides koryu? Why?

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Old 08-30-2013, 08:45 AM   #149
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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 think Redmond's issue was with the use of osu as much as the misunderstanding of it. As you say, osu is a sportsman's word, not a sacred word with a great deal of religious or ritual significance. What Redmond is explaining with osu, I think, is something that happens over and over again: some Japanese say, "This is how we practice budo," and Westerners hear, "This is how budo must be practiced, otherwise you are committing sacrilege."
I'm not sure. I haven't read 24FC in a while. It changed several times, and Redmond's thinking seems to have as well. He definitely went through a phase of wholesale rejection of "Japanese" practices, however. That is how I remember "osu"--it's not budo, it's for stooges. That's definitely not true.

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That is definitely true. But I think the existence of "all kinds" only lends more credence to the idea that one doesn't have to be one particular kind to be authentically Japanese.
I've lost the thread of the argument now. Plus, I am tired and inebriated...

(A) Contra Chris Li, I believe in the existence of "Japanese" things. I also believe that "non-Japanese" things exist and are practiced in Japan by the Japanese people. Japanese people can tell the difference, and, so, so can westerners.

(B) I believe the dogi, while not a traditional garment, is fundamentally more Japanese than sweatpants, etc. I also believe because of its structural relationship with traditional Japanese clothes, it may/probably imparts a kinaesthetic understanding of body mechanics that is different from elastic, pull-overs, nylon, and short-sleeves, etc.

(C) I believe that people who demand an "explanation" of why dogi are necessary for aikido training are making bad arguments, be they straw-man, red herring, or some other type. The reason is that aikido is not defined by these people. Aikido can only be defined in two ways: (1) as an activity that is fundamentally universal, i.e. subject to analysis of fighting efficiency, spiritual truth, etc.; (2) as an activity that is not fundamentally universal, i.e. has a cultural context to be understandable. UFC is an example of 1--quality is judged on objective basis such as win-loss records. Tea ceremony is an example of 2--quality is judged on subjective basis that requires some cultural immersion to be accessible. I do not believe most people are willing to define aikido as a universal activity. If they did, then aikido's lack of training against kicking, for example, would lead aikidoka to say, "we should change aikido to include X% defenses against kicking," and if it could be shown that acting like an aggressive bullying a--hole was a better way to stop fights from happening, then aikidoka should say, "we should change to be aggressive bullying a--holes." And if aikido were shown to be fundamentally at odds with other objective things like a scientific understanding of the basis of mind or a utilitarian understanding of the social good, then people would give it up entirely. These types of things do not happen. Exhibit A in this line of argument is the posters who say "last weekend, we trained outside with boken but no dogi, were we doing aikido?" Why the hell were you training with boken? Boken are a culturally contextualized tool, so you should figure out what boken training aims to teach you, isolate that, get rid of the boken, and move on. But nobody wants to do that. Why? Because, in the final analysis, aikido is what people want it to be, and people want it to be culturally contextualized. It makes it more non-mundane, and this is a big reason that people choose aikido. So, I agree entirely with the poster who says that it stops being aikido when your standard of practice is without dogi or etiquette, not when you train in streetclothes a few times a year.

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Old 08-30-2013, 08:50 AM   #150
Demetrio Cereijo
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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
My point is that uwagi is not "traditional training clothes," otherwise it would be worn by koryu for demonstrations. So if it is not traditional, where is it from? It comes from Kano, who started a trend away from wearing regular clothes to wearing specialized training clothes.
Kano adapted the jackets used in Cornish/Gouren styles of wrestling. Judogi is european in origin. There's no collar & elbow grip tradition in japanese jujutsu.

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