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Old 01-09-2004, 10:20 AM   #1
Location: Maidenhead
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 167
United Kingdom
All the trappings

How important to you are all the 'trappings' that come with aikido. By that I mean the traditions, culture, language, and so on that are usually seen in an aikido dojo?

Would you enjoy aikido as much without these, for instance training in an office canteen or pub backroom, in t-shirts and shorts, with no kamiza, no bowing, no sense of tradition.

For me, I enjoy the whole experience. Putting on the gear, putting out the canvas that has years of blood, sweat and tears dried in. Formally greeting my friends, who, 10 minutes earlier, I was sharing a ride with. It's all part of the whole.

It's like eating a fine meal - it's just more fun in a great restaurant than in the back of a car. Same food, different experience.

Does this make me an aikido snob? Does anyone feel the same?

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Old 01-09-2004, 10:56 AM   #2
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
Location: Phila. Pa
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 4,614
I tend to like all the trappings as well. Keiko means to reflect deeply upon the past. So the traditions handed down in the line I practice are important to me. There is something to be said for taking your practice outside of those boundries however. I guess there is nothing hard and fast about it...


Ron Tisdale
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 01-09-2004, 12:34 PM   #3
Lyle Bogin
Dojo: Shin Budo Kai
Location: Manhattan
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 588
These trappings are the mustard on the hot dog of practice.

"The martial arts progress from the complex to the simple."
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Old 01-09-2004, 12:49 PM   #4
Ted Marr
Location: Providence, RI
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 94
The way I see it, all ritual is used to separate an experience out from daily life. This puts it into its own category, and makes it something unique and special. Religious ritual serves to set the experience of listening to someone talk about God outside of the kind of conversation you might have with friends. Eating rituals (which are a big part of eating sushi), makes it something that is a delicacy, rather than consumed for crass nutrition alone. Aikido rituals are part of what makes our practice a -do, rather than a -jitsu.

In other words, I would prefer we didn't have them. Back when I was training almost every day in a spare room in a school gymnasium, I felt that I had immersed my life into my martial art. I would walk down the streets being concious of my walking, my breathing, my position relative to other people in a very acute way. I executed techniques standing in line in the grocery store. I lived it.

Now, it's something I do a few times a week. Something I enjoy, something I would probably go a bit nuts without. But it isn't as huge of a chunk of my life. I don't know if the separating "barrier" of ritual is the entire cause of this, but I suspect that it "helps" quite a bit.
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Old 01-09-2004, 03:00 PM   #5
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
Location: Phila. Pa
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 4,614
Interesting perspective Ted. I think I actually *like* the way the ritual sets it apart. Not that I'm not all for integration into daily life and all that.


Ron Tisdale
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 01-09-2004, 03:17 PM   #6
JJF's Avatar
Dojo: Vestfyn Aikikai Denmark
Location: Vissenbjerg
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 801
Why do I want so badly to go to Japan ? I can find sufficiently qualified instructors in Denmark for years to come and practice with partners of a high quality. On top of this my economy and family-situation will only allow me to go there for a couple of weeks or so. I think the answer is, that I love the 'trappings' so much that I even want to go to Japan to se the trappings in a more 'original' fashion.

I hope this makes sense... I've been working 24 hours during the past 48 hours, som my enligsh is probably a bit lacking....

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 01-09-2004, 03:37 PM   #7
Chuck Clark
Chuck Clark's Avatar
Dojo: Jiyushinkan
Location: Monroe, Washington
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 1,134
Ted Marr wrote:
Aikido rituals are part of what makes our practice a -do, rather than a -jitsu.
I disagree. The rituals are cultural, social behaviors that happen to come from Japan. Some like them some don't. Those rituals have little to do with the essence of jutsu or do.

I know quite a few koryu that consider what they do both 'jutsu' and 'do' depending on the application. Some of these koryu teachers have been saying things very similar to Ueshiba Morihei for a long time and practicing the same rituals in similar ways.

I look at it as practicing the physical technique is jutsu and the way we live, both in the way we feel about ourself and the way we get along with others is 'michi' or DO in it's large sense.

You could take away the Japanese cultural trappings and rituals but if the basic human attitudes of disciplined practice, etc. were still there it would be a WAY of life. The rituals are the flavor of how the practice is demonstrated and practiced.

I also happen to like Japanese cultural practices. Like all human activities, they can be abusive or uplifting, etc. depending on the people that take part in them.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
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Old 01-10-2004, 03:27 AM   #8
Dojo: none at the moment
Location: Wuhan, Hubei
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 44
In my opinion, we should only serve tradition insofar as it serves us. Obviously, 'because I like it' is a perfectly good (possibly the best) reason to maintain the 'trappings' of aikido. On the other hand, maintaining tradition for tradition's sake, when it has outlived its usefulness and is now just a hassle, just doesn't seem smart to me. The way that you train and teach depends entirely on the context of your situation. Give me good training in an environment of respect and hard work...that's perhaps the most imporant 'trapping' that I will keep.
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