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Old 05-19-2014, 07:06 PM   #101
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Quote:
Mert Gambito wrote: View Post
Peter,

You've pointed out that aikido is not like koryu bujutsu, to which the question of maintaining what's "pure" might better fit. (I study Hakkoryu, which has a decidedly more koryu flavor, despite being a gendai budo contemporary to aikido with many common characteristics.)

So if finding something "pure" within aikido is difficult because of its progressive, eclectic nature (spelled out in your timeline), is there something that's a constant? Of course, that should be aiki. When all of the discussion (i.e. debate) regarding IP as aiki began to simmer toward boiling over during the latter half of the past decade, I never thought I'd view folks like Dan and Ark as part of a pattern of outside influence that has been instrumental to preserving a key aspect of what is central to what makes aikido, and individual aikidoka, "strong" in the general, non-abstract sense. Again, we have hombu and non-hombu senior aikidoka who know this is an inner-door quality inherent to the art, and are acknowledging its presence in the students of these modern teachers -- often times without having encountered the teachers themselves. But what you've laid out in this thread, along with the historical stones others have turned over, point to just such a pattern.

The difference during this historical cycle? This time there are express teaching plans, and there are codified pedagogies via which the power perceived in aikido can be systematically achieved.
Hello Mert,

I am aware of the attractiveness of your observations here, but it leads to a question that cannot be avoided and which the opening poster perhaps did not intend. This is "Why bother keeping aiki 'pure'?" and also takes up a few assumptions of the opening post. Some believe that aikido lost its purity because it lost sight of aiki as its essential component, but we should not beg any questions here and simply assume that aiki has a purity that is self-evident.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 05-20-2014, 10:47 AM   #102
Mert Gambito
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Mert,

I am aware of the attractiveness of your observations here, but it leads to a question that cannot be avoided and which the opening poster perhaps did not intend. This is "Why bother keeping aiki 'pure'?" and also takes up a few assumptions of the opening post. Some believe that aikido lost its purity because it lost sight of aiki as its essential component, but we should not beg any questions here and simply assume that aiki has a purity that is self-evident.
I agree, Peter. The art has evolved, and today can be many things to many people, and they seek to fill the perceived gaps in its efficacy in various ways.

So, for context for a corollary to the OP, Reuben Yap wrote:

Quote:
Reuben Yap wrote: View Post
. . . We watched our Sensei perform the techniques, practiced it on our ukes (who were compliant) and hoped that somehow, with enough repetition, we would magically be able to defend ourselves.

I found that such training makes people lax and for a long time in our dojo we just did the motions and I realized it resulted in horrible Aikido. It may look pretty, fluid and etc but put it under pressure and the gaping holes just come out. I wouldn't even remotely call it self defence. If anything, it may have given false confidence which is all the more dangerous. As an instructor, and for those seeking Aikido as a self-defence form, I felt that I had failed them.

When I started cross-training and learning other martial arts. A lot of things started clicking but it also made me question as to 'What is Aikido?' A lot of the time people comment as to what is 'pure' Aikido or as 'O-Sensei' taught it or one of his uchi-deshi taught it and that any addition was an adulteration of the art. And yes there's of course the controversy that Doshu Kisshomaru watered it down and that for a more true form of Aikido, you need to go back to the uchi-deshis like Saito/Shioda etc etc.

I think such talk about what is 'pure' Aikido is pointless.
Reuben goes on to posit that a number of key historical figures in aikido had experience in other martial arts as part of his rationale for suggesting effective "impurities", so to speak, from other arts are helpful to making aikido an effective "martial" art. Key subjects of your and my discussion, Tada and Tohei, respectively trained in karate and judo prior to taking up aikido, though they eschewed those paths in favor of internal bodywork to seek the power of their teacher. Like Reuben today, they looked for solutions, but had the benefit of Ueshiba as a reference point, and so chose a different path to seek solutions based on that input.

Quote:
Reuben Yap wrote:
For me something is Aikido if it:
a) Doesn't rely on force/strength
b) Gives you an option to not harm an opponent and just neutralization
The old guard in Hawaii don't speak of "pure" aikido either. But they do lament modern aikido's lack of attention and understanding of what's needed to develop the power that Ueshiba and Tohei used to lay low some very tough men and plant the seeds of the art here and beyond over half a century ago. Meyer Goo, for example, tells us that Morihei Ueshiba did not pin Meyer to the tatami using Kesa Gatami, Juji Gatame or Omoplata. Ueshiba simply used a single, relaxed hand, and Meyer felt essentially welded to the ground and could not move. Now, that's one sublime ippon, and meets Reuben's "a" and "b" criteria cited above.[/quote]

Mert
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Old 05-20-2014, 11:40 AM   #103
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

A couple of years ago someone posted an interview with a known MMA guy (an online grappling e-magazine) who had formally cross trained in aikido and he had a very interesting perspective. He thought that effective aikido (which we believe to require IP/Aiki/special sauce) was something that had to be felt to be learned and that very few senseis really ever got it right. Once the chain of transmission was broken, whole branches of the art were being taught as technique only and none of the aiki/effective stuff remained.

He further posited that is was up to the seekers within the wayward branches to rediscover the heart of the art. That real, effective aikido, was fated to be lost and rediscovered on generational basis. After years of lurking and observing the whirlwind of discussions around this issue, I believe his observations were spot on. So IMHO true effective aikido is indeed a phoenix perpetually rising from the ashes, rediscovered, refreshed and re-contextualized by new innovators both inside and peripheral to the art. Thus it is not really an issue of purity as retention. Does this fit with your experience or observation?

Last edited by Hilary : 05-20-2014 at 11:42 AM. Reason: clarity as always
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Old 05-20-2014, 09:59 PM   #104
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

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Hilary Heinmets wrote: View Post

He further posited that is was up to the seekers within the wayward branches to rediscover the heart of the art. That real, effective aikido, was fated to be lost and rediscovered on generational basis. After years of lurking and observing the whirlwind of discussions around this issue, I believe his observations were spot on. So IMHO true effective aikido is indeed a phoenix perpetually rising from the ashes, rediscovered, refreshed and re-contextualized by new innovators both inside and peripheral to the art. Tmber the past are comdemned to repehus it is not really an issue of purity as retention. Does this fit with your experience or observation?
''Those who can't remember the past are condemned to repeat it.''
George Santayana

dps
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Old 05-20-2014, 11:41 PM   #105
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

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Hilary Heinmets wrote: View Post
A couple of years ago someone ....

He further posited that is was up to the seekers within the wayward branches to rediscover the heart of the art. That real, effective aikido, was fated to be lost and rediscovered on generational basis. After years of lurking and observing the whirlwind of discussions around this issue, I believe his observations were spot on. .... Does this fit with your experience or observation?
I would say that this is spot on. I agree 100%. So, you have to search, think, search some more, and think a lot more. But you will not get far unless you find something useful. So, searching is key. But that doesn`t mean searching, finding Judo, and sticking Judo in your Aikido because you think Judo waza to be more efective.

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Old 05-21-2014, 09:05 AM   #106
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

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Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
I would say that this is spot on. I agree 100%. So, you have to search, think, search some more, and think a lot more. But you will not get far unless you find something useful. So, searching is key. But that doesn`t mean searching, finding Judo, and sticking Judo in your Aikido because you think Judo waza to be more efective.
Or taiji for that matter.
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Old 05-21-2014, 09:29 AM   #107
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

I've always put those huge inverted commas in the air whenever someone mentions pure. It always smells like code for my way not your way.

Ueshiba's aikido changed all the time and not necessarily for the better. Every single one of his students took what they wanted and made it their own (some freely admitting it, others pretending a deeper insight). For me it is impossible to define what pure is and really a futile exercise.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-21-2014, 10:28 AM   #108
Chris Li
 
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
I would say that this is spot on. I agree 100%. So, you have to search, think, search some more, and think a lot more. But you will not get far unless you find something useful. So, searching is key. But that doesn`t mean searching, finding Judo, and sticking Judo in your Aikido because you think Judo waza to be more efective.
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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Or taiji for that matter.
You mean, like Tetsutaka Sugawara?

The whole "pure" thing seems quite odd, considering that it was the Aikikai's assertion for many years that Aikido was anything but pure - that it was an amalgam created by Morihei Ueshiba. We now know that to be less than the complete truth, but when considering the question people should consider that their many (most?) of their teachers didn't quibble about purity.

Ueshiba was certainly open to experimentation, and sword that he brought in from Kashima Shinto-ryu is now a standard part of many Aikido people's training.

Most of the koshi-nage that folks do today was brought in by Shoji Nishio and Yoshio Kuroiwa - not Morihei Ueshiba.

I've seen Mitsugi Saotome bring in things from any number of sources - anywhere from Seitai Iai to Karate to his own imagination (not a bad thing, IMO, but it wasn't Morihei Ueshiba).

Morihei Ueshiba hated what Minoru Mochizuki, probably one of the least "pure" Aikido folks ever, was doing so much that --- he wanted to adopt him as his successor before the war and make him the head instructor at hombu after the war (Mochizuki declined both offers). Kisshomaru later endorsed Mochizuki's tenth dan promotion. Wait a minute - wasn't he one of those guys who stuck Judo in Aikido?

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-21-2014, 10:32 AM   #109
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

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Wait a minute - wasn't he one of those guys who stuck Judo in Aikido?
A true barbarian.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-21-2014, 10:44 AM   #110
Chris Li
 
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

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Peter Rehse wrote: View Post
A true barbarian.
Of course, the other guy who did that was so barbaric that Morihei Ueshiba made him Aikido's first 8th Dan.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-21-2014, 10:59 AM   #111
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote: View Post
I've always put those huge inverted commas in the air whenever someone mentions pure. It always smells like code for my way not your way.

Ueshiba's aikido changed all the time and not necessarily for the better. Every single one of his students took what they wanted and made it their own (some freely admitting it, others pretending a deeper insight). For me it is impossible to define what pure is and really a futile exercise.
The same goes for Aikido ''philosophy''.

dps
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Old 05-21-2014, 05:19 PM   #112
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

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Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Of course, the other guy who did that was so barbaric that Morihei Ueshiba made him Aikido's first 8th Dan.

Best,

Chris
Oh, suddenly now the ranks are sure indication of the "purity" of aikido :O

Nagababa

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Old 05-21-2014, 05:24 PM   #113
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote: View Post
I've always put those huge inverted commas in the air whenever someone mentions pure. It always smells like code for my way not your way.

Ueshiba's aikido changed all the time and not necessarily for the better. Every single one of his students took what they wanted and made it their own (some freely admitting it, others pretending a deeper insight). For me it is impossible to define what pure is and really a futile exercise.
Don't mix a goal of the practice and the method to achieve a goal. If you clearly understand what M.Ueshiba created (and he left a lot of clear pointers) your method will be perfectly adapted to achieve it.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 05-21-2014, 05:25 PM   #114
Chris Li
 
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

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Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
Oh, suddenly now the ranks are sure indication of the "purity" of aikido :O
No, but I think that it shows that Morihei Ueshiba had some measure of respect for Kenji Tomiki.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-21-2014, 05:34 PM   #115
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

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Christopher Li wrote: View Post
No, but I think that it shows that Morihei Ueshiba had some measure of respect for Kenji Tomiki.

Best,

Chris
Or may be it was for purely political reasons? How can we know now for sure? IMO it has nothing to do with the essence of art...

Nagababa

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Old 05-21-2014, 05:45 PM   #116
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

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Of course, the other guy who did that was so barbaric that Morihei Ueshiba made him Aikido's first 8th Dan.
OTOH, there are stories of Ueshiba Sensei handing out ranks to all sorts of people. Which I see as an indication that he thought "mastery" had more to do with being an enlightened human being than with martial prowess as such. Something to keep in mind when one is inclined to scoff at the less martially-inclined branches of the aikido family tree.

Katherine
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Old 05-21-2014, 06:14 PM   #117
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
OTOH, there are stories of Ueshiba Sensei handing out ranks to all sorts of people. Which I see as an indication that he thought "mastery" had more to do with being an enlightened human being than with martial prowess as such. Something to keep in mind when one is inclined to scoff at the less martially-inclined branches of the aikido family tree.

Katherine
That's true, but those stories are mainly from later on, when he was much less involved in things. My point was that he certainly had some measure of respect for Kenji Tomiki - the promotion was just an illustration of that.

Anyway, we're drifting off topic, my goal was simply to point out that there is an undisputed record of Morihei Ueshiba approving of folks who weren't "pure" in what they were doing.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-21-2014, 06:41 PM   #118
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

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Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Anyway, we're drifting off topic, my goal was simply to point out that there is an undisputed record of Morihei Ueshiba approving of folks who weren't "pure" in what they were doing.
How could that be, though? If Osensei was the Founder of Aikido, then everything he did and approved of [i]was[i] pure.
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Old 05-22-2014, 01:21 AM   #119
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
Anyway, we're drifting off topic, my goal was simply to point out that there is an undisputed record of Morihei Ueshiba approving of folks who weren't "pure" in what they were doing.
How could that be, though? If Osensei was the Founder of Aikido, then everything he did and approved of [i]was[i] pure.
Good points, gents.

Either way of looking at this should set the OP author's mind at ease.

Mert
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Old 05-22-2014, 04:05 AM   #120
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
That's true, but those stories are mainly from later on, when he was much less involved in things. My point was that he certainly had some measure of respect for Kenji Tomiki - the promotion was just an illustration of that.

Anyway, we're drifting off topic, my goal was simply to point out that there is an undisputed record of Morihei Ueshiba approving of folks who weren't "pure" in what they were doing.

Best,

Chris
Dear Chris,
Let us not forget that Tomiki Sensei was a high ranked judoka,I think if a person in another art eg judo , karate etc has a fairly high grade one must have respect for the person holding the rank. Cheers, Joe.
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Old 07-01-2014, 08:11 AM   #121
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Ueshiba did sumo and other hard styles of martial arts and tons of physical conditioning including strength training with railway ties. He also got into a lot of physical encounters to practice his arts.

This is something that is lacking in the vast majority of Aikido practitioners. To say all of this had nothing to do with the effectiveness he demonstrated and that it was his spiritual awaking later on that made him effective is quite absurd.

I remember a video being posted here many years ago of a 300lb+ person going into a rampage in a store and everyone here was wondering how they could possibly deal with someone like that with their Aikido. The answer is quite clear, get strong! If you can squat 400+ pounds and deadlift 500+ pounds, doing a single leg takedown, or a variation of koshinage, of a guy that big would be pretty easy actually.

Aikido does not focus on using strength but being strong is still a large part of the puzzle. It is much easier to put someone down on the ground if you are stronger than them, even using Aikido.

100% pure Aikido is not enough, it wasn't for the founder, he was freakishly strong and studied a variety of style including wrestling.
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Old 07-01-2014, 11:23 AM   #122
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

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Michael Neal wrote: View Post
I remember a video being posted here many years ago of a 300lb+ person going into a rampage in a store and everyone here was wondering how they could possibly deal with someone like that with their Aikido. The answer is quite clear, get strong! If you can squat 400+ pounds and deadlift 500+ pounds, doing a single leg takedown, or a variation of koshinage, of a guy that big would be pretty easy actually.
Two problems with this.

One is that, for a woman my size, 400# is north of the world record squat. Not happening in this lifetime. It's more achievable for men, but still is going to require a good amount of gym time. And, unless you also weigh 300 pounds, you're still not going to be as strong as Mr. Berserker. (Who, it's safe to assume, is also under some kind of chemical influence.)

Which brings us to problem number two, which is that training like a powerlifter is not really compatible with the flexibility and sensitivity that aikido requires.

Certainly it doesn't hurt to be strong. But saying that strength is the answer to whatever might be wrong with your aikido is simply missing the point of how aikido techniques are supposed to work.

For the record, I've successfully koshi-ed some pretty big guys. If your koshinage depends on strength, you're doing it wrong.

Katherine
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Old 07-01-2014, 11:35 PM   #123
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

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Christopher Li wrote: Wait a minute - wasn't he one of those guys who stuck Judo in Aikido?
Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote: View Post
A true barbarian.
Far better to try to stick aiki in Judo than to stick Judo in Aikido.

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Old 07-02-2014, 08:37 PM   #124
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

I personally like to put Tobasco (tm) on everything, so I have no driving impetus to keep anything pure, much less my aikido. It's really impure, if that's what people want to know. I might apologize for that, but it's hella-effective, and I don't have to hurt people (defined as actually cause damage that lasts beyond the pain flare), so I am happy with it.

For my inspiration in training, I look to the old masters, who literally all seemed to go out and learn from a broad range of instructors and styles and even modes of thought to come up with what they taught. Ueshiba, Kano, Oyama, Lee, Geis, and now my own folks who I respect, Lowry, Williams, etc. All go out and seek, and take what works for them and which they can understand, and "fit" those thoughts and principles and techniques into their "world view" of aikido and it's all good. My $0.02.

I find it interesting that the kanji character for kuzushi illustrates a mountain falling on a house.
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Old 07-03-2014, 08:04 AM   #125
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

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John Powell wrote: View Post
I personally like to put Tobasco (tm) on everything, so I have no driving impetus to keep anything pure, much less my aikido.
Don't you just hate that guy who comes to dinner and, without even trying the cuisine you lovingly slaved over (including the recipe tried and tested over generations, handed down by your great grandma), grabs the salt, the pepper, the Tabasco sauce or whatever, rather than just give it a go as intended?

I'm not adverse to Tabasco myself, but wouldn't you like to know what your aikido tastes like without Tabasco, just for reference? They say there are all kinds of flavours of aikido, some stronger than others. You could still mix them with Tabasco, but, informed by how they taste without. Maybe you would find other more exciting combinations. Maybe you'd end up adding a particular vintage of aikido neat to everything, instead of Tabasco? Or even adding a unique combination of aikido and Tabasco to everything.

Just my half a Euro.

Carl
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