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Old 09-28-2013, 06:18 PM   #1
Rupert Atkinson
 
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The Way of Aiki

I think Aikido to be The Way of Aiki. Can we have a discussion about aiki without mentioning ki I wonder? I think aiki is a learnable skill. The minute someone starts talking about ki, harmony, and the meaning of the universe, practical learning is lost.

If you don't think that Aikido is the Way of Aiki, they try to explain why not.

Just what is it we are supposed to be learning? Not the techniques, methinks. The techniques are the means to learn aiki. The various schools of Jujutsu (even Judo) have aiki-like katas or movements taught to seniors. I think Ueshiba took those ideas and created Aikido, and the techniques we have are meant to develop aiki, not become techniques unto themselves (as they seem to have become). I also think that if you understand aiki, you can put it into any technique - Judo, Jujutsu, or of course, your standard Aikido 'waza'.

Anyway, few people out there are looking for aiki, or seeking ways to develop it. Most are just concerned with which way to do this or that 'waza', where to put the feet and how to twist uke this way or that, and what they need for the next grading, and so on. I was like that too for my first 20, yes TWENTY, years of training so I kind of understand 'the problem'. Can you understand this problem? Or do you think I am wrong - or that there is no problem?

Kungfu has pushing hands etc., Systema has many interesting exercises, Aunkai too, and so on. Besides waza, what does Aikido have that helps us develop aiki? Or must people search beyond Aikido?

So ... aiki.
What is it?
Have you felt it?
Can you do something you think might be aiki?
Do you have the means to develop it?
Are you searching, or remain just content to be 'told'?
Have you sussed anything interesting?
Have you discerned any interesting principles that you can apply across a range of waza?
Can you move people that resist?
Can you take people's balance with subtle craft?
Or ... are you just training and hoping one day ... It'll just happen?

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Old 09-28-2013, 08:23 PM   #2
Cady Goldfield
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
So ... aiki.
What is it?
Have you felt it?
Can you do something you think might be aiki?
Do you have the means to develop it?
Are you searching, or remain just content to be 'told'?
Have you sussed anything interesting?
Have you discerned any interesting principles that you can apply across a range of waza?
Can you move people that resist?
Can you take people's balance with subtle craft?
Or ... are you just training and hoping one day ... It'll just happen?
Oh... great questions, Rupert!
You're right, "aiki" is very much a learnable skill.
It results from a very specific kind of body training. It has nothing to do with martial technique, but it is the powerful engine that will drive technique of any kind.

There are no "aiki-like" katas. Training practices either are designed to promote a process of specific movement and structural manipulation to produce IP and aiki, or they are not. The process involves learning how to use mental intent to manipulate unconventional muscle groups and connective tissues to create a dynamic tension of opposing forces within the body -- the In/Yo (Yin/Yang) that are in a constant state of change from neutral to varying stages of imbalance and re-balancing that constitute the "harmonizing of ki" ... Ai-Ki. That's what makes the dynamic tension, the potential energy which is the source of power that is directed to the desired use by the intent and will of the mind.

Anyone who is training in this very real method, does not have to guess that they have aiki, what it feels like to "do" it, or how it feels when in contact with someone who is expressing aiki. They are training in a curriculum that was designed for aiki development. The training is quite specific. Aiki will never "just happen."

It would be great to see it reintroduced into modern, mainstream aikido. Some people already are doing that, having sought out and found sources for acquiring the skills. I don't believe that it ever will be taken back into all aikido, lock-stock-and barrel, but I do think that there will be a small-scale revival of aikido that at least in part preserves and reflects the skills that Ueshiba continued to cultivate and refine till the day he died. As long as even a small pocket of those practitioners exist, there will be an aikido that is the Way of Aiki.
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Old 09-29-2013, 02:10 AM   #3
Alex Megann
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Re: The Way of Aiki

My current understanding (bear in mind that it is changing month by month) is this.

We have always talked about circular, spherical and spiral movements, and it is widely believed that these are somehow the essence of aikido and that they differentiate it from other martial arts. To me, aiki is the generation of these movements inside ourselves so we can transmit them to our attacker, instead of using simple linear force,

No, I am not aware of any training system within mainstream aikido to cultivate this.

But yes, I am practising such exercises myself.

Alex
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Old 09-29-2013, 05:33 AM   #4
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Quote:
Alex Megann wrote: View Post
My current understanding (bear in mind that it is changing month by month) is this.

We have always talked about circular, spherical and spiral movements, and it is widely believed that these are somehow the essence of aikido and that they differentiate it from other martial arts. To me, aiki is the generation of these movements inside ourselves so we can transmit them to our attacker, instead of using simple linear force,

No, I am not aware of any training system within mainstream aikido to cultivate this.

But yes, I am practising such exercises myself.

Alex
Dear Alex,
If you are not aware of any mainstream aikido group cultivating aiki why do you remain within your own group? It seems to me from your comments you are now a member /admirer of the gent who is no longer posting on this forum . I wouuld have thought that if indeed you are , why not embrace his theories entirely?Are you integrating them into your own practice ?If so does this make you a heretic [only word I can think , no offense meant ] with Mr K et al???Cheers, Joe.
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Old 09-29-2013, 01:15 PM   #5
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Dear Alex,
If you are not aware of any mainstream aikido group cultivating aiki why do you remain within your own group? It seems to me from your comments you are now a member /admirer of the gent who is no longer posting on this forum . I wouuld have thought that if indeed you are , why not embrace his theories entirely?Are you integrating them into your own practice ?If so does this make you a heretic [only word I can think , no offense meant ] with Mr K et al???Cheers, Joe.
Good questions, Joe, but they have simple answers (at least for me).

My teacher definitely has this stuff, but does not teach it directly. I went through a phase of intense frustration where I was feeling things from people like Kanetsuka, Ikeda and Yamashima that really impressed me, but I realised that, however much information these people gave you, none of them taught you even how to start to get a body that felt like theirs, nor precisely how to do what they were showing.

You know me well enough by now to know that I am not someone who follows anyone with my eyes closed. You will also appreciate that I have been around the block enough times now that I don't see most things in terms of "either/or". The "gent who is no longer posting on this forum" (anyone reading this particular subforum will not need to be spoonfed his name!) is teaching a set of simple but profound exercise drills that I realised very quickly were what I was looking for, and that I believe build the skills I described in my post above.

If I read you correctly, I think you are being overly provocative. I have no need to change my allegiance at this point as I love aikido. As far as I understand them, TGWINLPOTF's teachings don't contradict anything that my aikido teacher is teaching, and since no "mainstream aikido group" is teaching explicitly how to do this stuff I see no reason to change for the time being,

Alex

Last edited by Alex Megann : 09-29-2013 at 01:19 PM.
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Old 09-30-2013, 01:32 AM   #6
sakumeikan
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Alex Megann wrote: View Post
Good questions, Joe, but they have simple answers (at least for me).

My teacher definitely has this stuff, but does not teach it directly. I went through a phase of intense frustration where I was feeling things from people like Kanetsuka, Ikeda and Yamashima that really impressed me, but I realised that, however much information these people gave you, none of them taught you even how to start to get a body that felt like theirs, nor precisely how to do what they were showing.

You know me well enough by now to know that I am not someone who follows anyone with my eyes closed. You will also appreciate that I have been around the block enough times now that I don't see most things in terms of "either/or". The "gent who is no longer posting on this forum" (anyone reading this particular subforum will not need to be spoonfed his name!) is teaching a set of simple but profound exercise drills that I realised very quickly were what I was looking for, and that I believe build the skills I described in my post above.

If I read you correctly, I think you are being overly provocative. I have no need to change my allegiance at this point as I love aikido. As far as I understand them, TGWINLPOTF's teachings don't contradict anything that my aikido teacher is teaching, and since no "mainstream aikido group" is teaching explicitly how to do this stuff I see no reason to change for the time being,

Alex
Dear Alex,
Thanks for your reply. This is where the the system of teaching as I see it breaks down. Namely the instructors who have the aiki skills either cannot or will not pass these methods on to students.This begs the question , if they have the skills why do they not transmit the methods ? Surely if Mr DH is teaching simple[your description] exercises that develop these skills , others can ???? The vast majority of instructors simply teach the forms, the external process.The bit that interests me is the internal part.
Alex, I know you well enough to know you like your aikido. Its just me, the man who often asks awkward questions.Makes for a stimulating discussion. Any way, you gave a good answer.For that I thank you.As ever I send you my regards. Always a pleasure to chat with you here.Take care, Joe.
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Old 09-30-2013, 02:06 AM   #7
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Dare I suggest that some Aikido teachers who can do 'interesting stuff' learned it by accident after lots of training and have no clue how to teach it in a systematic way becuase they are not exactly sure of what they can do or why it works? Well, it is either that, or for some reason they just point blank refuse to teach what they know.

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Old 09-30-2013, 03:08 AM   #8
Mert Gambito
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Re: The Way of Aiki

FWIW, DH has stated multiple times that the methodology he's imparting is not to be hoarded. For the teachers who attend his workshops, he is expressly teaching them with the mutual understanding that they will a) diligently pursue the material and be able to walk the talk, and b) diligently and accurately impart the material to their students, and not use it as a tool with which to selfishly increase one's ability while leaving the student body guessing.

Sooner rather than later, relative to the timeline of the history of aikido, there will be several aikido teachers who will be able to make good on both criteria.

Mert
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Old 09-30-2013, 03:34 AM   #9
Alex Megann
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Mert Gambito wrote: View Post
FWIW, DH has stated multiple times that the methodology he's imparting is not to be hoarded. For the teachers who attend his workshops, he is expressly teaching them with the mutual understanding that they will a) diligently pursue the material and be able to walk the talk, and b) diligently and accurately impart the material to their students, and not use it as a tool with which to selfishly increase one's ability while leaving the student body guessing.

Sooner rather than later, relative to the timeline of the history of aikido, there will be several aikido teachers who will be able to make good on both criteria.
There are already several very senior (6th and 7th Dan) Aikikai teachers in the US who more or less openly acknowledge Dan's influence (no need to refer to him as TGWINLPOTF any more, I guess ) on their personal development.

Alex
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Old 09-30-2013, 03:41 AM   #10
Alex Megann
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
Dare I suggest that some Aikido teachers who can do 'interesting stuff' learned it by accident after lots of training and have no clue how to teach it in a systematic way becuase they are not exactly sure of what they can do or why it works? Well, it is either that, or for some reason they just point blank refuse to teach what they know.
I think this is very much the way things have turned out. One AikiWeb poster has told to me privately that a couple of the teachers whose aikido I very much admire admitted to him that they didn't really understand how they did what they did.

My teacher has shown us plenty of exercises over the years that he believes will improve our aikido, but I can't help feeling that much of his ability has come from him digesting and redigesting through trial and error what he got from his own teacher many years ago.

Alex
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Old 09-30-2013, 08:09 AM   #11
Cady Goldfield
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Re: The Way of Aiki

A lot of the aikido teachers who do "interesting stuff" but can't explain it, learned by hands-on transmission... by "feel." Many old traditions in Asia were, and still are, taught this way. Very little descriptive terminology or systemic training, and mainly the teacher letting the student feel and eventually imitate, and inculcate, through touch.

So, it's not surprising that individuals with these skills don't know how to explain or describe what they are doing. I have had this experience as well. It takes integration between Eastern and Western teaching methods to arrive at a system that methodically teaches internal skills. A few have done it and are getting very good results from it.
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Old 09-30-2013, 08:10 AM   #12
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Yes, I believe aiki is real and reproduce-able. I think the origins of aikido contained aiki exercises that have been revised and diminished in their fertility to produce aiki. I think here in the States there are several instructors who possess aiki and a willingness to share it. Most of these people are in various stages of sophistication in the dissemination of what they know and I am excited to see what they will be doing in 5 years.

As the foundation of my beliefs above, I see this largely as an argument of dissemination methodology and a comparison of success as it relates to creating a succession of reproduce-able skills.

For Westerners, I think the Eastern neo-traditional style of dissemination is perceived as unsuccessful. I think this perception is largely based upon the duration of the "learning curve", which is many years under good tutelage and can be decades (if ever). That don't fly around here. From that perspective, Eastern-style (steal the technique) dissemination in the West struggles to produce students simply by attrition. Unless you start aikido at <30, you will likely die before you reach a point of self-proclaimed efficiency.

For me, I respond to study and Western education more than the Eastern style of kata and practice. I respect the tradition of dissemination, but I am looking to shorten the learning curve and retain as much of the budo as possible. But I got a (w/l)ife, kids and a job; aikido sits priority 3 or 4 tops right now and I need something less than 30 years of training. In this effort, I am looking to instructors who I respect and asking for help - I have yet to be told no. From that pro-action, I am trying to shut up and listen. This has turned into a bastardized style of inheritance; as I like to say, a buffet-style of picking out what I think is relevant. The danger here is to keep that inheritance for damaging curriculum, which is a real problem.

I think there are aikido people who several years ago reached out to sister arts to recover some of the fertility of aiki training in aikido. These people are now in the process of re-invigorating their instruction and I have yet to me one who has been resistant to sharing their experience. I think there are people in sister arts who have reached out to aikido to share their experience. The only people that have expressed prejudice and close-mindedness throughout my experience are in aikido.

Shameless plugs here, but Aikido South is going to have George Ledyard in December and Dan Harden in January. Come down and grab these guys. They are open, honest, concise and composed. I think understanding what is going (with these guys) on is a great perspective from which to craft constructive criticism.

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Old 09-30-2013, 01:13 PM   #13
Cliff Judge
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Re: The Way of Aiki

I think Aiki refers to a state wherein a person moves in accord with the ki of the universe. You do without doing, move without moving, you have no form, and technique spontaneously happens, exactly appropriate to circumstances.

The mind does not conflict with anything, it just touches the universe at the surface, allowing no space in between but not pressing into or clashing. And the body is perfectly in sync with the mind.
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Old 09-30-2013, 01:34 PM   #14
Bernd Lehnen
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Quote:
Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
A lot of the aikido teachers who do "interesting stuff" but can't explain it, learned by hands-on transmission... by "feel." Many old traditions in Asia were, and still are, taught this way. Very little descriptive terminology or systemic training, and mainly the teacher letting the student feel and eventually imitate, and inculcate, through touch.

So, it's not surprising that individuals with these skills don't know how to explain or describe what they are doing. I have had this experience as well. It takes integration between Eastern and Western teaching methods to arrive at a system that methodically teaches internal skills. A few have done it and are getting very good results from it.
That's so true.

I would have liked to meet Dan for the first time on a seminar earlier this summer here in Germany. Due to unforeseen snags arising, the event had to be cancelled. Luckily, I was able to meet one of his (not so longtime) students. We played a little bit around and he repeatedly stressed that all he could show me was only a pale shadow of Dan's abilities. But nevertheless, since I have felt this student I'm quite convinced that Dan has excellent methodology and teaching ability.
So my conclusion, there are (and will be) also people, who can teach and explain this stuff in an all out systematic way.

Best,
Bernd
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Old 09-30-2013, 02:09 PM   #15
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Aiki is one of those things I try not to think about too much. It is clear that even in one educational generation, Takeda to Ueshiba, there is a great change in how the term is used and what the term is supposed to encompass. It's also pretty clear that Ueshiba expressed and talked about aiki in different ways throughout his career. What this means is that there are a whole lot of different ideas out there about what aiki is, and I think it would be a pretty presumptuous and largely fruitless endeavor for me to try to decide which one is "right".

I'd much rather spend my time trying to figure out what good aikido is; that's nebulous enough without trying to grab hold of a concept so broad and so varied in interpretation as aiki.

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Old 09-30-2013, 02:19 PM   #16
Chris Li
 
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Quote:
Matthew Story wrote: View Post
Aiki is one of those things I try not to think about too much. It is clear that even in one educational generation, Takeda to Ueshiba, there is a great change in how the term is used and what the term is supposed to encompass. It's also pretty clear that Ueshiba expressed and talked about aiki in different ways throughout his career. What this means is that there are a whole lot of different ideas out there about what aiki is, and I think it would be a pretty presumptuous and largely fruitless endeavor for me to try to decide which one is "right".

I'd much rather spend my time trying to figure out what good aikido is; that's nebulous enough without trying to grab hold of a concept so broad and so varied in interpretation as aiki.
Most of the change in how the term is used came from Kisshomaru, rather than Morihei. If you look at what Morihei actually said it's not incompatible or even inconsistent with what comes from Takeda via the Daito-ryu lineages, and it doesn't really change from 1933 to the late 1960's, although it's clear that he gives various methods of explanation.

I'm curious as to how one can figure out what good "Aikido" is without the "Aiki", wouldn't that just leave "do"?

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-30-2013, 02:57 PM   #17
Cady Goldfield
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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I'm curious as to how one can figure out what good "Aikido" is without the "Aiki", wouldn't that just leave "do"?
D'oh!

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Old 09-30-2013, 03:58 PM   #18
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Quote:
Matthew Story wrote: View Post
Aiki is one of those things I try not to think about too much. ... What this means is that there are a whole lot of different ideas out there about what aiki is, and I think it would be a pretty presumptuous and largely fruitless endeavor for me to try to decide which one is "right".

I'd much rather spend my time trying to figure out what good aikido is; that's nebulous enough without trying to grab hold of a concept so broad and so varied in interpretation as aiki.
I would say, you need to think about it. Or rather, find those who have thought about it and go seek them out, because then you might begin to find what you seek. If you do Aikido, it is your main task to seek aiki, in my opinion.

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Old 09-30-2013, 04:17 PM   #19
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Although this is a very nice echo chamber you guys have going, I'm not sure that the false dichotomy of the original post is something that will catalyze a real discussion on the topic. It is somewhat dishonest to inquire, "have you had the same experiences as me OR are you just training and hoping one day it will happen"?

Do you really want to have a discussion about the different groups out there developing usable skills through Aikido, Daito Ryu, and other esoteric jujutsu, or do you just want to circlejerk for a while longer about how you have already got an exclusive lock on the bona fide goods and everyone else is just grinding their gears?

Last edited by bkedelen : 09-30-2013 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 09-30-2013, 06:24 PM   #20
Cady Goldfield
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Maybe there really is a specific definition of aiki, as Takeda taught to Ueshiba, but because of all of the schizms that have rendered aikido and Daito-ryu into myriad split-offs with varying degrees of that aiki, or none of it, other interpretations have arisen to fill the vacuum where it is lacking.
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Old 09-30-2013, 06:55 PM   #21
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
Maybe there really is a specific definition of aiki, as Takeda taught to Ueshiba, but because of all of the schizms that have rendered aikido and Daito-ryu into myriad split-offs with varying degrees of that aiki, or none of it, other interpretations have arisen to fill the vacuum where it is lacking.
I like that thinking. Need to be positive, and logical.

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Old 09-30-2013, 07:15 PM   #22
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Re: The Way of Aiki

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
If you do Aikido, it is your main task to seek aiki, in my opinion.
I disagree...at least, I think that is more true for the "serious" Aikido student. I don't think people have to be looking for aiki above all other things to do Aikido...or at least, that should vary perhaps dojo to dojo.

Is the main task of Chado to make the best possible cup of tea very quickly? Or is it more of an experiential process of being mindful? I think Aikido is, in general, more about the process than the acquisition of aiki.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 09-30-2013 at 07:27 PM.

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Old 09-30-2013, 07:21 PM   #23
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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I disagree...at least, I think that is more true for the "serious" Aikido student. I don't think people have to be looking for aiki above all other things to do Aikido.
Sure, there are people who train for health, or social companionship, or whatever - and that's fine, if it fulfills your goals.

OTOH, if you're interested in investigating Aikido itself (as in "figuring out good Aikido") then I would think that it's hard to get around the necessity to investigate Aiki.

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-30-2013, 08:29 PM   #24
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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...I would think that it's hard to get around the necessity to investigate Aiki.
Certainly. My only point is I don't think it has to be the "main task," for "doing Aikido." I hope I didn't come across as suggesting anyone shouldn't investigate aiki. I'd recommend it to the most apathetic hobbyist, let alone anyone wanting to approach some level of mastery.

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Old 09-30-2013, 09:00 PM   #25
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Re: The Way of Aiki

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Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
Certainly. My only point is I don't think it has to be the "main task," for "doing Aikido." I hope I didn't come across as suggesting anyone shouldn't investigate aiki. I'd recommend it to the most apathetic hobbyist, let alone anyone wanting to approach some level of mastery.
Matt Using an analogy I have held for a long time....Aikido is like a building with lots of floors with lots of rooms...taking the elevator that arises out of curiosity and a need to know, one can get off at any one of many floors.....though I think that some floors are not available without a working knowledge of the floor below them.

I think there is plenty to be learned on first few floors of the Aikido building, with some traces, some touches of Aiki part of the mix. To me real Aiki is in the floors above where access is limited by willingness of the individual to spent the time searching for the doors, willingness to spent a long time training, be willing to step back out of dead ends, figuring out who to trust, and some luck.

Having said all of this......do I know anything.....not likely, but I know it is out there while recognizing I may never get it.

Gary
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