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Old 05-26-2004, 06:08 PM   #1
grasshopper73
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Do you study the classics ?

Growing up and still today I had a deep love for Budo.

I was wondering how many of you regularly put time into studing the classics like , Book of Five Rings , Art of War, O' Sensei's Philosophy, anything by Takuan or Yagyu Munenori ?

Has this helped in your journey ? Do you think it's neccessary to be a succesful budoka/aikidoka ?

Look forward to hearing about your experiences.

Russ
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Old 05-26-2004, 06:16 PM   #2
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

Quote:
Russ Rohling wrote:
Growing up and still today I had a deep love for Budo.

I was wondering how many of you regularly put time into studing the classics like , Book of Five Rings , Art of War, O' Sensei's Philosophy, anything by Takuan or Yagyu Munenori ?

Has this helped in your journey ? Do you think it's neccessary to be a succesful budoka/aikidoka ?

Look forward to hearing about your experiences.

Russ
Oh my God, it's starting here... just take a look at the Aikido Journal forum in which a debate has been raging with opinions from "yes, it's crucial to being a top notch Aikidoka" to "anything that doesn't take place on the mat is a complete waste of time". No agreement was reached.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 05-26-2004, 06:18 PM   #3
grasshopper73
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

Definitely not trying to stir up any problems...just intrested to find out peoples views on this. I'll have to check that forum out.
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Old 05-26-2004, 07:36 PM   #4
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

Yep, I read and reread just about everything I can get my hands on. Not instead of training, but to supplement and complement it. I like to train both the body and mind directly.

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 05-26-2004, 10:48 PM   #5
Charles Hill
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

Quote:
Russ Rohling wrote:
Has this helped in your journey ? Do you think it's neccessary to be a succesful budoka/aikidoka ?
Yes, very much so. And, no, but I think that it is a rare person for whom study wouldn`t help.

As an example, reading the letters between Takuan and Yagyu has helped me tremendously. In Thomas Cleary`s The Japanese Art of War, there is a section where Takuan writes of swordtaking. He, in effect, writes that when a defender moves in to take the sword, if the one holding the sword tries to prevent her sword from being taken away, her mind is thinking about not losing the sword and is no longer thinking about cutting the defender. I must have read it many times before realizing that often in practice my partner is struggling against my technique and has forgotten about his attack. For me to continue to try the technique, even though it is no longer necessary, is futile and reveals how far my thinking is from reality.

Of course, I could have (should have) realized this in practice, but I didn`t. This is just one way in which studying has helped me.

Charles Hill
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Old 05-27-2004, 08:17 PM   #6
Largo
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

Yes. I have a couple of copies of the book of 5 rings, including modern japanese and period japanese. Good stuff. It came in handy during my shodan test.
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Old 05-27-2004, 08:30 PM   #7
grasshopper73
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

Paul,

Could explain in what ways that it helped you ? Thanks
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Old 05-29-2004, 10:44 AM   #8
KamiKaze_Evolution
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

Is kodotama something classic also? This is 1st time ever i study about it, i didn't know about it until beginning of this year.
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Old 05-29-2004, 11:14 AM   #9
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

Yes. I was an Asian Religions major as an undergraduate (was going for the big bucks) and when I started doing martial arts it was a natural progression to get hold of evertything in English I could. Unfortunately, I don't speak Japanese so there is a limited amount available.

The teachers whom I find the most interesting to train with are the ones who can not only do exceptional technique on the mat but can put the training in a larger context because they are well educated about the philosphical / spiritual / historical aspects of the art.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 05-29-2004, 03:07 PM   #10
Don_Modesto
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

Quote:
Russ Rohling wrote:
...how many of you regularly put time into studing the classics like , Book of Five Rings , Art of War, O' Sensei's Philosophy, anything by Takuan or Yagyu Munenori ?

Has this helped in your journey ? Do you think it's neccessary to be a succesful budoka/aikidoka ?
I found they really needed context to understand:

Japanese Journal of Religious Studies
http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/.../jjrs/jjrs.htm
(tons of articles ONLINE!)

Journal of Japanese Studies
http://depts.washington.edu/jjs/

Monumenta Nipponica
http://monumenta.cc.sophia.ac.jp/mnindexC.html
(I get articles from these two through interlibrary loans)

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
------------------------
http://www.theaikidodojo.com/
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Old 05-29-2004, 08:22 PM   #11
p00kiethebear
 
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

I regularly look into the book of five rings with regards to my kenjutsu. The Art of War has never really been my style. I often however look into classics that may not be considered martial art classics, but that i find relative.

The Baghavadgita, particularly the decision of Arjuna. Is one I read regularly as well.

Also, the Tao Te Ching i find particularly applicable when it comes to aikido.

"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity"
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Old 05-30-2004, 03:23 AM   #12
Ian Williams
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

Quote:
Has this helped in your journey ?
I didn't know I was on one! I hope I havn't missed anything.
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Old 06-01-2004, 12:41 AM   #13
Largo
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

Russ- I don't know how well I can explain it, but here goes. The hardest part of our shodan test is the futari gakke (2 against one sparring). Everything is open. The worst I saw was when a testee got pinned with a yonkyo by one opponent while getting kicked in the ribs repeatedly by the other.

Anyways, with tests like that, most people tend to retreat till they get backed in a corner, or get taken down while they are focused on only one opponent.

The other mistakes sensei mentions are waiting, or just trying to grab (a punch or kick out of the air).

Anyways, if you read the book of 5 rings, there is some advice on what to do when surrounded. Attack first. move from one opponent to the next like they are on a string. Scatter them.

So, that's what I did. Attack and try to use one opponent to block the other. I got a bit of an ikkyo in, so I used that as a throw to keep both from attaking at once. Most importantly (I think) I kept myself from being caught in between the two of them.

Anyways, I had done a lot of reading. The only thing I conciously planned during the test was the moment sensei said start, I charged the closest guy with an atemi to the face. After that, it just kinda worked. (I wish I could say I planned it all out in advance, but I'm not that good yet)
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Old 06-01-2004, 12:56 AM   #14
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

Quote:
Paul Mihalik wrote:
I wish I could say I planned it all out in advance, but I'm not that good yet
Um Paul - when you get real good there is no planning - just spontaneity. Isn't that the core of Take Masu Aiki or Mushin

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 06-01-2004, 01:14 AM   #15
Largo
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

Peter- good point. But a lot of times lack of planning gets confused with being surprised (or, at least in my case, it does). I know I definitely need to work on reading uke better as well as continueing with a different technique. (I stop and think too much)
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Old 06-01-2004, 03:27 AM   #16
PeterR
 
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

Same same - by the way I'm re-reading the Unfettered Mind. The first letter I think is very relevant to your point.

Quote:
Paul Mihalik wrote:
Peter- good point. But a lot of times lack of planning gets confused with being surprised (or, at least in my case, it does). I know I definitely need to work on reading uke better as well as continueing with a different technique. (I stop and think too much)

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 06-01-2004, 02:27 PM   #17
grasshopper73
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

I'm doing a Aikido /Zen retreat at Zen Mountain Monastery. One of the things that I am definitely taking is Takuan's letters. Hopefully there will be some time for reflection.

Thanks for sharing your story Paul. I can imagine what you mean. With dealing with multiple attackers, I imagine one must keep moving and responding all the while keeping a clear or "unstuck mind".

Russ
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Old 06-01-2004, 03:04 PM   #18
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

The most recent one I've read is The Life Giving Sword, translation by William Scott Wilson. Lot's of good things in there that inform my training, but alas I still have to train

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 06-01-2004, 08:07 PM   #19
PeterR
 
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

I must say that when I read these books I find things that are an affirmation of what I learn on the mat. Another way of looking at the same thing.

I have yet to alter my training because of a book.

I started reading a Life Giving Sword and put it down. Felt I needed to re-read the Unfettered Mind first.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 06-01-2004, 09:00 PM   #20
Largo
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

What is this 'Unfettered Mind'? This is the first I've ever heard of it.
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Old 06-01-2004, 09:07 PM   #21
PeterR
 
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

Quote:
Paul Mihalik wrote:
What is this 'Unfettered Mind'? This is the first I've ever heard of it.
The Unfettered Mind.

Of course if you like it - you should buy the book. Wont help Takuan but the translator still gets royalties.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 06-01-2004, 09:12 PM   #22
Largo
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

thanks
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Old 06-02-2004, 02:51 PM   #23
Robert Rumpf
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

I've found books on Zen to be the most helpful to me, with the most accessible being "Zen Flesh, Zen Bones." The Thomas Cleary version of the middle third has also been extremely useful and it is found under the title "Unlocking the Zen Koan." In general, I've found many of Cleary's translations to be really worthwhile with respect to my personal understanding. The longer I train in Aikido, the less I am interested in the technical books and the more I am interested in the esoteric books.

I'm not sure if its necessary to read the classics, but I do think that you need to eventually understand the classics, even if it is without reading them.

Rob
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Old 06-02-2004, 03:55 PM   #24
Bronson
 
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Re: Do you study the classics ?

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
I must say that when I read these books I find things that are an affirmation of what I learn on the mat. Another way of looking at the same thing.
I'd agree. Often when reading these books they will put into words what I'm feeling and learning.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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