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Old 02-25-2015, 01:48 PM   #1
Brian Sutton
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The relevance of origin.

Not my sensei's Aikido, Japanese arts came from China, not my fathers Oldsmobile, who invented the pyramid, who discovered the wheel, the chef isn't Italian. Does any of those statements/questions matter? One of the things noticed early on about Aikido, is it's attachment to history and origin. How relevant is history and origin in understanding and practicing an art. What does it mean to thrive, and does that involve change, adaption, growth?
With regards to Aikido , how relevant is origin?Thoughts?

Last edited by Brian Sutton : 02-25-2015 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 02-25-2015, 02:00 PM   #2
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Re: The relevance of origin.

The word "relevant" only has meaning with reference to an object. "Relevant" to what? Nothing is ever "relevant" except in reference to something else. So, what's your question? How relevant is origin in relation to/in terms of...?
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Old 02-25-2015, 02:59 PM   #3
Brian Sutton
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Re: The relevance of origin.

Bottom line, "with regards to" is another way to say in reference to. Also, "in the understanding and practice of an art" could also mean in reference to. Reference also is defined as practicality and social applicability and the word is considered a noun.
Aiki web is starting to look like a dead end.
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Old 02-25-2015, 03:33 PM   #4
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Re: The relevance of origin.

How relevant is aikido's origin to your own practice? I think that's really the only question that matters.

Consider a person in Africa who uses English to communicate with a person in China. Both of these people learned English as a second language. How much does it matter to them that English evolved from Anglo-Saxon, spoken by Germanic tribes thousands of years ago and thousands of miles away?

Non-Japanese students of aikido are in a similar position.

Katherine
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Old 02-25-2015, 03:44 PM   #5
Chris Li
 
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Re: The relevance of origin.

Quote:
Brian Sutton wrote: View Post
Not my sensei's Aikido, Japanese arts came from China, not my fathers Oldsmobile, who invented the pyramid, who discovered the wheel, the chef isn't Italian. Does any of those statements/questions matter? One of the things noticed early on about Aikido, is it's attachment to history and origin. How relevant is history and origin in understanding and practicing an art. What does it mean to thrive, and does that involve change, adaption, growth?
With regards to Aikido , how relevant is origin?Thoughts?
If one wants to understand what O-Sensei said and wrote then it's extremely relevant, because it's the context in which he speaks, and without that context he's virtually impossible to understand.

As far as I'm concerned, what the Founder of the art said ought to be of interest to anybody studying the art, but I'm aware that not everybody agrees.

Best,

Chris

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Old 02-25-2015, 04:23 PM   #6
Brian Sutton
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Re: The relevance of origin.

[quote=Brian Sutton;342564]Bottom line, "with regards to" is another way to say in reference to. Also, "in the understanding and practice of an art" could also mean in reference to. Relevance also is defined as practicality and social applicability and the word is considered a noun.
Aiki web is starting to look like a dead end..
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Old 02-25-2015, 04:26 PM   #7
Brian Sutton
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Re: The relevance of origin.

Yo

Last edited by Brian Sutton : 02-25-2015 at 04:36 PM.
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Old 02-26-2015, 05:31 AM   #8
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Re: The relevance of origin.

I really do not understand the question. The mere question suggests lack of knowledge of the Japanese culture/context in which Aikido was developed.

Aikido is a Japanese martial art. In Japan relation is everything. When you study Aikido, it is very important (for others) to know who your teacher is; where you belong. It cannot be without. It gives direction, context. You really cannot study with multiple teachers...

Last edited by Tim Ruijs : 02-26-2015 at 05:35 AM.

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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Old 02-26-2015, 07:06 AM   #9
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: The relevance of origin.

Quote:
Brian Sutton wrote: View Post
With regards to Aikido , how relevant is origin?Thoughts?
I think I don't get the point of your question right:

I don't see how it would be possible to practice aikidō - or any other budō - without a strong connection to the origin via one's lineage and via one's understanding of the teachings.

Maybe it would help me to better understand what you are asking for, if you could paraphrase your question:
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Old 02-26-2015, 07:32 AM   #10
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Re: The relevance of origin.

If by "origin" you mean "lineage", its important to me.
If by "relevance" your mean "important", (being personally contextualized) its important to me.
I like knowing the what I am studying has some history and has survived over time, so its more the mental, emotional, and possible social application. Getting my head around why I am doing something actually helps get my mind out of the way (gives permission) to doing it.
In direct physical application of training and technique, not do much.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 02-26-2015, 08:31 AM   #11
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Re: The relevance of origin.

Quote:
Brian Sutton wrote: View Post
Bottom line, "with regards to" is another way to say in reference to. Also, "in the understanding and practice of an art" could also mean in reference to. Reference also is defined as practicality and social applicability and the word is considered a noun.
Aiki web is starting to look like a dead end.
Hi Brian,

I really wasn't trying to pick nits; I think it's an important distinction for a philosophical discussion like this, and I think that's supported by the other comments. It's not picking at nits to explore possible deeper meanings, to look into the various ways that "understanding and practicing an art" subdivides. Are the origins of a cake's ingredients relevant to how good it is? Depends what you mean by "good". How tasty it is? How healthy it is? How much you enjoy it? The more I think about it, the more I realize that any answer depends on who you are as well as on the origins of the cake -- maybe more so. If the cake is made from expensive ingredients that require a refined palate to appreciate, it might not appeal to you any more than a cake made from cheaper ingredients -- or might taste downright weird. If the cake is made from wheat flour and you've got celiac disease, it's quite unhealthy. If the cake is made from chocolate harvested by slave labor, and you care about that, it's probably not very enjoyable.

So, origins and history of aikido vs. understanding and practicing an art. Here I have to "on the one hand, on the other hand" you. On the one hand, I'm a fan of history, and I think that knowing about the historical context can give insight or add to one's understanding. On the other hand, it isn't the thing itself. The core of the understanding has to come from the practice. Origin, lineage...on the one hand, these things matter; on the other hand, they don't by themselves legitimize one's practice. "I studied with so-and-so" means that you had the opportunity to learn what that teacher is teaching -- it doesn't mean that you necessarily did so. I think that a good lineage (using the term rather loosely) is a necessary but not sufficient condition for excellence in one's own practice -- meaning that your teacher must have picked up the right set of clues from somewhere, and be showing them in his/her teaching. What you do with them, that's another matter. The inheritance of a good lineage is often squandered, and I'm sure there are cases of martial artists without the benefit of a good lineage who nevertheless had the discerning eye to "know it when they see it" and develop excellence in their own practice.

And, of course, the more modest your own aspirations, the less any of it is relevant. You may be perfectly happy with a whoopie pie from the corner store. There's no "should" about what you should want.
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Old 02-26-2015, 11:00 AM   #12
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Re: The relevance of origin.

The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon.

Your lineage, your understanding of aikido's history and evolution, are all fingers pointing at aikido.

Katherine
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Old 02-26-2015, 11:46 AM   #13
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Re: The relevance of origin.

First off this is probably about 9 threads rapped in one. Sorry ,that's just my ADD mind(it has it's advantages) but communication is not always one of them. My sensei(an American) tests up to first kyu, but all Dan ranks are either performed by the Shihan at a seminar or I take trip to Japan. I love to study other cultures and welcome diversity in all areas of my life.
But to assume that to be competent , authentic, or the uppermost authority in a particular art form, one has to be native to that particular culture, speaks to an assumption that is false. Imo, an art is a living thing, we(human beings) all have the same basic capacities . Culture, origin and lineage should be present as an enrichment and understanding, but not an absolute defining factor in practicing or developing an art that has a future for us all to share. I feel that we often miss the forest through the trees. Just my minion opinion..
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Old 02-26-2015, 12:18 PM   #14
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Re: The relevance of origin.

Quote:
Brian Sutton wrote: View Post
But to assume that to be competent , authentic, or the uppermost authority in a particular art form, one has to be native to that particular culture, speaks to an assumption that is false.
Where do you find this assumption? Is it real, or is it a projection of your own mind?

Dan testing isn't a small thing. To my understanding, it's not really a done thing that you test your own students for a dan ranking. But to conflate that with ethnicity, I'd say, is nowadays more a matter of perception than reality.
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Old 02-26-2015, 01:20 PM   #15
Brian Sutton
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Re: The relevance of origin.

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Where do you find this assumption? Is it real, or is it a projection of your own mind?

Dan testing isn't a small thing. To my understanding, it's not really a done thing that you test your own students for a dan ranking. But to conflate that with ethnicity, I'd say, is nowadays more a matter of perception than reality.
I find those assumptions all over the place. In various hobbies arts and fields. One dog barks at the moon, a hundred dogs bark at the barking. It's a human condition to seek and follow a leader, but to your previous point, their are no should's. If one seeks acceptance and validation outside ones self, that's a choice, or is it. I guess it only becomes a choice when their is awareness on the part of the individual.Typically when one is observing an assumption, one is , at that instant anyway, not making or projecting it. Awareness, kind of has a way of ridding the assumption from ones mind. However the lack of awareness is quite another story.
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Old 02-26-2015, 01:46 PM   #16
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: The relevance of origin.

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon.
Your lineage, your understanding of aikido's history and evolution, are all fingers pointing at aikido.

Lineage - at least what I understand it to be - is not a signpost. It is the the vehicle, that can take you to the moon.
In that vehicle you will find moonstones, meet other travellers who have been there. They will tell you about their experiences they have made on their trip. They will tell you first hand, what it feels like to walk on the moon. And how you will survive up there. Because they have been there. They know it, because they did it.

I like more the concept of ryū 流 or 流れる nagareru: A stream or to flow. Which is to pass on, to transmit.

Lineage does not mean to be able to name a succesions of certain teachers. But it means - at least to me - to become a part of and to have share of a certain stream of experience and knowledge.

May others point to the moon - what I understand as lineage will take you up there ...

Last edited by Carsten Möllering : 02-26-2015 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 02-26-2015, 02:32 PM   #17
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Re: The relevance of origin.

You can't do Aikido by yourself, you need partners.

For training among partners to work, everybody needs to be on close to the same page.

And being on the same page about where everybody is going, and doing right now, isn't really good enough, because Aikido is difficult and there are no guarantees, and it is different for everybody.

So you need to know where it comes from, and it helps to be on the same page with regards to that.
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:50 AM   #18
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Re: The relevance of origin.

Carsten, well said. That makes sense to me.

Reciting the names of the space shuttle crews is not the same as taking a space shuttle flight, working to design and build and support the shuttle, etc.
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Old 02-27-2015, 11:41 AM   #19
Walter Martindale
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Re: The relevance of origin.

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Where do you find this assumption? Is it real, or is it a projection of your own mind?

Dan testing isn't a small thing. To my understanding, it's not really a done thing that you test your own students for a dan ranking. But to conflate that with ethnicity, I'd say, is nowadays more a matter of perception than reality.
I think it's not normal to test your own students for a Dan rank, but it's happened in the case of a shihan who knew the candidate and his abilities, and the candidate not having the ability to attend seminars in a timely manner for the test - in this case (mine) the shihan (Kawahara) authorised the dojo sensei (S. Erickson) to administer the test. It was observed by another (Izumi) who gave the test the good-housekeeping seal of approval. It was also longer by far than any other shodan test I'd seen, probably in the interests of thoroughness and that the test was delegated to the dojo sensei.

Regarding the assumption. Shortly after my first arrival in Japan to train for judo, I was told by a Japanese friend that I could never be truly good at judo because I wasn't Japanese and couldn't possibly fathom the spirit of the way. I always thought I never turned out to be truly good at judo because I didn't start it til I was 18, was terribly myopic (still am) and had slightly slower than average stimulus/response rates as tested with the technology of the 1970s.
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Old 02-27-2015, 03:21 PM   #20
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Re: The relevance of origin.

Is golf an American sport?
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:28 PM   #21
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Re: The relevance of origin.

I can be spiritual without attending church or practicing any of the rituals of a denomination.
I can play music without knowing the composer of the music.
I can play baseball without knowing who invented it or the people who have played it before me.
I can follow a recipe without knowing anything about the origin of the recipe.
I can practice Aikido without knowing who O'sensei is or Japanese language and culture.

dps

Last edited by dps : 02-27-2015 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 02-27-2015, 11:10 PM   #22
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Re: The relevance of origin.

Yet some of the world's greatest art adorns churches and mosques and temples. Some of the world's greatest music was intended for religious occasions.
And knowing the composer of a piece of music helps me find other music that I might enjoy.
And the history of baseball tells me just how rare and special that perfect game was and how fortunate I was to see it.
And the origin of a recipe helps me understand how to modify it and what to pair it with, as well as where to look if I enjoy that set of flavor combinations.
A little understanding of Japanese language and culture helps me understand why some things in aikido are the way they are, and why it makes the assumptions it does about what situations are important.

Knowledge is rarely a bad thing. It may not be necessary, but it certainly enriches any practice.

Katherine
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Old 02-27-2015, 11:25 PM   #23
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Re: The relevance of origin.

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
Yet some of the world's greatest art adorns churches and mosques and temples. Some of the world's greatest music was intended for religious occasions.
And knowing the composer of a piece of music helps me find other music that I might enjoy.
And the history of baseball tells me just how rare and special that perfect game was and how fortunate I was to see it.
And the origin of a recipe helps me understand how to modify it and what to pair it with, as well as where to look if I enjoy that set of flavor combinations.
A little understanding of Japanese language and culture helps me understand why some things in aikido are the way they are, and why it makes the assumptions it does about what situations are important.

Knowledge is rarely a bad thing. It may not be necessary, but it certainly enriches any practice.

Katherine
Knowledge enriches any practice. I agree 100%.
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Old 02-28-2015, 01:26 AM   #24
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Re: The relevance of origin.

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post

Knowledge is rarely a bad thing. It may not be necessary, but it certainly enriches any practice.

Katherine
No, at times it is a distraction from enjoying the beauty of the experience.

When I stop to smell the roses I enjoy the beauty and fragrance of the rose, not think " is this a
William Lobb, a Zephirine Drouhin, or a Bailey Red.

The enjoyment does not need any knowledge of the rose.
dps
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Old 02-28-2015, 04:33 AM   #25
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: The relevance of origin.

Every morning after having read a pragraph of the Dao de jing and also of a certain Tibetan Buddhist teacher, I am standig with a cup of coffee (please don't tell my teachers ... ), looking out of the big window, regarding our garden, watching the clouds pass by and observing the nature changing all the way ... .
I deeply "enjoy" this moment. Having no thoughts (that's actually posible) , just being there, being in the moment, being part of the flow of life - just the blink of an eye apart from waking up, ... ;-)

In this moment there is no knowing at all, no thinking at all. Only being, experiencing life, only living this very moment, and the next very moment ... and so on.

So David: Yes! This very important to have. And it kind of is the "aim" of everything we - at least I - do. Same with keiko, I think: During keiko we should experience this same "just living", experiencing, enjoying this very moment - which is life.

I'm no gardener. I enjoy watching the plants grow and devellop. Have two trees in my little garden, also bamboo - and one rose.
I had to learn how to support my garden, the plants living there and making it a "good" place full of life. I had to learn to take care of them. Whether at all and when to prune them. I had to learn to find them a place they like. And how to move them, when I realised that I had given them a place where they could not live very well. Wind, sun, water, earth. I am lucky to have people to ask. People who know about caring for plants, gardening. People who know what their grandmother told them. ...
To be enjoy a rose, you simply have to have one. And that indeed needs knowledge.

Same with my spiritual practice. To be able to just look out of the window, to be able to just enjoy I had to learn how to not be distracted, how to be able to deall with emotions, thoughts, "ego", ...
Most people actually have to learn to enjoy. Although being a spiritual teacher myself, I have to learn. Because I am, I have to learn how to live spritiuality. And I am lucky to have people who share their experiences and their knwoledge.

Same with keiko, I think: To be able to practice, we have to learn a lot. We have to know a lot. To my experience this learning, this need of knowledge starts when you are able to reproduce the outward movements, form, kata. After you have accomplished that to a certain degree, the journey actually starts.
When you try to step on the floating bridge of heaven and to to build the cross of yin and yang, kan and li. To be able to enjoy this, you have to be able, to do it. And therefore to understand what that means and how to learn it ...

So I think it's not enjoying or knowing. But both are mutually depending - like in and yo ... .
At least this is what I feel and what I have experienced over the years.

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