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Old 01-28-2005, 09:57 AM   #1
John Matsushima
 
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The Art of Peace?

One of my favorite Aikido books is John Stevens' "Art of Peace". In his translation, he has several quotes by o sensei mentioning the "art of peace". My question is, did o sensei actually refer to his art this way? Here is an example from his book which quotes a poem from o sensei;

The art of peace can be summed up like this: " True Victory is self victory...."

Did he actually say "art of peace"?, or was it Aikido, Budo, or something else? Does anyone think that this is how he meant it, or is it misunderstood?

-John Matsushima
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Old 01-28-2005, 10:54 AM   #2
Tadhg Bird
 
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Re: The Art of Peace?

My teacher used to sell that book at the dojo, but he stopped when he looked in it trying to find a quote, and having hear or read the original Japanese for many of the sayings realized that the translation was pretty sub-par. Stevens being loose for the purpose of the book's agenda. There is another Stevens book, the title escapes me right now, that he says is much better, it has the Japanese and (better) translation side by side.

In his preface or introduction he claims that the word "Aikido" can be translated as "Art of Peace" so I think many of the instances the word used was Aikido, but I think it could have been any of the words O Sensei used to describe his art.

"Words and letters can never adequately describe Aikido -- its meaning is revealed only to those who are enlightened through hard training." -- Ueshiba Morihei O Sensei
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Old 01-28-2005, 11:46 AM   #3
Nick P.
 
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Re: The Art of Peace?

What, I can't believe everything I read?


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Old 01-28-2005, 02:28 PM   #4
Don_Modesto
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Re: The Art of Peace?

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote:
One of my favorite Aikido books is John Stevens' "Art of Peace". In his translation, he has several quotes by o sensei mentioning the "art of peace". My question is, did o sensei actually refer to his art this way? Here is an example from his book which quotes a poem from o sensei;

The art of peace can be summed up like this: " True Victory is self victory...."

Did he actually say "art of peace"?, or was it Aikido, Budo, or something else? Does anyone think that this is how he meant it, or is it misunderstood?

-John Matsushima
Long before there was Judo Judo, using the other guy's strenght against him, there was Verbal Judo.* The cultural context whence aikido grew depended on sophistical reconciliations of opposites. Pagan gods became expressions of Buddhist truth, e.g. (and Buddhist institutions thus accrued the cultic economic resources thereby.) In the mush ensuing from such unembarrassed myticism (a dirty word in areas priding themselves on rigor), anything can be anything including aiki being peace. Stevens milks this propensity ad nauseam.

* http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...580185-4671255

Don J. Modesto
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Old 01-28-2005, 06:25 PM   #5
Charles Hill
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Re: The Art of Peace?

Don,

On the other hand, it can be construed as putting a foriegn concept into a language that the student can understand. The Founder did it himself when he used the Christian Bible to explain Aikido to westerners. I believe Prof. Stevens really believes what he writes and is simply publishing what he has discovered in his practice/study. You don`t have to buy the books nor read them.

Charles
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Old 01-28-2005, 10:15 PM   #6
Don_Modesto
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Re: The Art of Peace?

Hi, Charles,

Thanks for the response.

Quote:
Charles Hill wrote:
On the other hand, it can be construed as putting a concept into a language that the student can understand. The Founder did it himself when he used the Christian Bible to explain Aikido to westerners.
I wonder if this is truly his concern. In The Philosophy of Aikido he makes over 75 references to the spiritual values of traditions around the world and throughout history invoking variously, Pythagoras, Lincoln, Aristophanes, Dante, Picasso, Rebbe Yaakov-Yitzak, Tantric/Gnostic/Sufi/Native American/Christian values, Iglulik Eskimo prayers, Meister Eckhardt, Navaho benedictions, and the Hawaiian Hula--none with any explanation of context or content, this not such as to help really in comprehension. Moreover, should he have piqued our interest in one of these associations, he hasn't troubled himself to provide references for us the follow his lead.

Quote:
I believe Prof. Stevens really believes what he writes and is simply publishing what he has discovered in his practice/study.
Me, too. I think the man sincere and his thinking muddled.

Quote:
You don`t have to buy the books nor read them.
Sorry--apropos of what? ...of course I don't. But having done so, I can certainly approach them critically and "simply publish" what I "really believe" regarding them.

Right?

FWIW, I feel I have benefited from his books, they've sent me in directions I wouldn't have known to look otherwise. But I never take anything he says as the voice of authority without confirming it in another source where rigor is held in higher regard.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 01-29-2005, 10:04 PM   #7
Charles Hill
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Re: The Art of Peace?

Quote:
Don J. Modesto wrote:
I never take anything he says as the voice of authority without confirming it in another source where rigor is held in higher regard.
I think you have made an important point. I believe that the books are for the general reader interested in Aikido. The 75 references, I believe, are for us to begin to compare the teachings of Morihei Ueshiba to what we might know already or else, as you wrote, send us in new directions. It is natural not to hold this level of material to high academic standard. The natural next step would be to go to where the documentation is more thorough, for example, Stanley Pranin.

Personally, I hear too much Stevens vs. Pranin debate, when it seems clear to me that the two men`s work neatly dovetails the other. Another point that irks me a bit is the misdirection of criticism that Prof. Stevens receives. The incredible stories that seem to bother a number of people are all either on video or are told by students of the Founder who escape criticism themselves.

This has turned into a rant and away from addressing your specific posts, sorry!

Charles
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Old 01-30-2005, 01:41 AM   #8
tedehara
 
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Re: The Art of Peace?

Quote:
Tadhg Bird wrote:
...In his preface or introduction he claims that the word "Aikido" can be translated as "Art of Peace" so I think many of the instances the word used was Aikido, but I think it could have been any of the words O Sensei used to describe his art.
There was a book The Art of Peace written by Sakurazawa Yukikazu, AKA George Ohsawa of Macrobiotics fame. Ohsawa was a friend of the founder and praised him in the book. The English version was published in 1990 and translated by William Gleason of Shobu Aikido of Boston and author of The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido.

I believe Steven's book The Art of Peace came out in 1992.

Last edited by tedehara : 01-30-2005 at 01:54 AM.

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Old 01-30-2005, 03:25 PM   #9
Don_Modesto
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Non sequitur: The Art of Peace

Osensei punning that "Aikido is love" (reconciliation and love being homonyms--"ai"--in Jpn) has many precedents in Jp.

Iizasa Choisai, founder of Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu, punned on HEIHO. It means both "martial strategy" and "peaceful strategy".

Other possible puns on HEI might be evil, exhaustion, illness, money (offering), flat (boring), throne, these from a Kanji learners' dictionary.

Anyone for "Boring Strategy"?

AI Homonyms include indigo, open, sorrow, pity, love, meet.

"Aikido is pitiful"?! Sounds like something you'd read on a karate board, huh?

Don J. Modesto
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Old 01-31-2005, 05:06 AM   #10
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Re: Non sequitur: The Art of Peace

Quote:
Don J. Modesto wrote:
"Aikido is pitiful"?!
The Pitiful Way of Ki...pretty much sums up my ability

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 01-31-2005, 07:10 AM   #11
ian
 
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Re: The Art of Peace?

Quote:
Charles Hill wrote:
...I believe Prof. Stevens really believes what he writes and is simply publishing what he has discovered in his practice/study. You don`t have to buy the books nor read them.

Charles
Agreed, but he talks about aikido as if Ueshiba was trying to promote Omote-Kyo or Buddhism. I think he is, conciously or not, misleading some aikido practitioners into believing that the spiritual aspect was the core of Ueshiba's teaching. Ueshiba was primarily teaching a martial art. (I don't see Chiba, Yamada or Shioda pronouncing omote-kyo beliefs, nor other practitioners who directly trained with Ueshiba). I think Steven's likes to combine the knowledge he has as a Buddhist lecturer into his own aikido, but it doesn't mean we all should.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 01-31-2005, 10:34 AM   #12
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Re: The Art of Peace?

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
Agreed, but he talks about aikido as if Ueshiba was trying to promote Omote-Kyo or Buddhism. I think he is, conciously or not, misleading some aikido practitioners into believing that the spiritual aspect was the core of Ueshiba's teaching. Ueshiba was primarily teaching a martial art. (I don't see Chiba, Yamada or Shioda pronouncing omote-kyo beliefs, nor other practitioners who directly trained with Ueshiba). I think Steven's likes to combine the knowledge he has as a Buddhist lecturer into his own aikido, but it doesn't mean we all should.
Chiba and Yamada spent more time with Kisshomaru than with Morihei, but much of the time that they did spend with Morihei was spent listening to endless lectures on the kind of things that Stevens talks about. Shioda spent much more actual time with Morihei, but even before the war was forced to endure hours of lectures and prayers daily - he just wasn't that interested in that kind of stuff. Try reading "Take Musu Aiki" - Morihei Ueshiba spends most of the book defining his Aikido and his reasons for Aikido training - all of which were spiritual.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-31-2005, 05:59 PM   #13
Don_Modesto
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Re: The Art of Peace?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
.... Try reading "Take Musu Aiki" - Morihei Ueshiba spends most of the book defining his Aikido and his reasons for Aikido training - all of which were spiritual.
Hi, Chris,

What's your take on the MA vs spirituality thing? I used to hold with Mr. Dodkins, but I've come around to thinking that Osensei was way off in mystical resonances of one thing reflecting another, "holographic entry points" in the Kasulis book on Shinto I'm reading, and combative ability was low down on his list of priorities.

(Contra this, Osensei's invariably asking his students who won when the DESHI came back from rumbles, at least according to one source...)

Thanks.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 01-31-2005, 06:34 PM   #14
Chris Li
 
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Re: The Art of Peace?

Quote:
Don J. Modesto wrote:
Hi, Chris,

What's your take on the MA vs spirituality thing? I used to hold with Mr. Dodkins, but I've come around to thinking that Osensei was way off in mystical resonances of one thing reflecting another, "holographic entry points" in the Kasulis book on Shinto I'm reading, and combative ability was low down on his list of priorities.

(Contra this, Osensei's invariably asking his students who won when the DESHI came back from rumbles, at least according to one source...)

Thanks.
My experience is that Japanese people tend to be better at reconciling opposing points of view (ie, the rumbles thing) than Americans, who tend to be somewhat utopian.

I agree - Morihei Ueshiba was pretty far out in the mystic left field. If you talked to him directly it would, I imagine, sound a lot like some of the Stevens books, but probably even more so. One non-Aikido person who had contact with him described him as some kind of a spirit who had padded in out of the forest . OTOH, I would say that it was his mystical/spiritual ideals that fueled his martial training, that he saw Aikido as a way of misogi through budo, and that this was enabled through the intensity of the martial training.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-31-2005, 08:11 PM   #15
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Re: The Art of Peace?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
...I would say that it was his mystical/spiritual ideals that fueled his martial training, that he saw Aikido as a way of misogi through budo, and that this was enabled through the intensity of the martial training.

Best,

Chris
I agree...it would seem that O'Sensei thought this way...

Bryce
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