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Old 11-04-2010, 12:30 PM   #1
jonreading
 
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Are We that Good?

Over the last several years I have read threads centered around violence in aikido. This theme also appears as a tangent in many related threads such as spirituality, combat, philosophy, "street" fighting, and so forth.

Inevitably, these threads all acquire a post (or multiple posts) that asserts an aikido person is capable of: A. protecting the attacker from harm, B. disarming an armed attacker, C. avoiding confrontation, D. all of the above. Currently, there are a couple of these very threads active.

I jest here but the point of my thread will be to argue whether it is realistic to expect an aikido person to successfully engage an attacker with a positive result (for all). I define successful engagement as the resolution of conflict without injury to either party (let's go will Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere terminology).

Building from the ground up are we that good? Is it reasonable to expect that at some point my physical abilities will support my philosophical ideology (to engage in confrontation without injury to any involved party)?

I think most of us are all talk. Those who have the necessary skills (to back up their talk) are few and far between. That does not mean I should abandon my philosophy, but it does means I should mitigate my expectations.

Thoughts?
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Old 11-04-2010, 12:50 PM   #2
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Are We that Good?

"Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape." Terry Pratchett.
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Old 11-04-2010, 12:57 PM   #3
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Re: Are We that Good?

You set so many conditions. The answer is "no". Random person in random altercation. Someone will probably get hurt, physically, emotionally or mentally.

Now, can an "aikido person" successfully restrain someone until the police come? Probably. But is someone is hell bent on hurting you, the moment you let them up, they are coming after you. Not every person is either capable of rational choice, or in the condition to make rational choices.

melior est canis vivus leone mortuo
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:07 PM   #4
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Are We that Good?

I look at it in terms of possibility and probability: Sure, it's possible, though whatever the probability is would vary on any number of factors, many of which would necessarily be invisible to me. If I'm caught on a day where my mind is sharp and my body is responsive (I've had days where I felt neither) I think I can do quite a bit to realize the ideal, and under most of the situations I'm likely to find myself in.
P.S. Not-harming the attacker means, "in a lasting way," to me.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 11-04-2010 at 01:10 PM.

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Old 11-04-2010, 01:08 PM   #5
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Are We that Good?

This is my post from another thread on basically the same topic. Most folks do not understand the "non-violence" of Aikido. The way it got tranlasted into the West was not exactly how O-Sensei thought of it, which is far more complex.
Quote:
I think this fundamentally a flawed and unrealistic interpretation of O-Sensei's message and intention.

Yes, Aikido techniques can be used to prevail without serious injury over an attacker if ones skills exceed, by a fair amount I think, the skills of that attacker.

But it is a myth without foundation that this is what happens i Aikido, as a martial art. A martial art, as opposed to some system of self defense, is about an encounter with an opponent who is trained. At least that was always the assumption when the term "martial arts" was coined.

O-Sensei made a couple of statements on this subject. One was that, if you wrote the character for life and the character for death on two sides of a sheet of paper, that was how much separated the outcome in a real martial encounter. In other words, one or the other combatants is dead.

The other statement is along the same lines... He said that the reason that there is no competition in Aikido is because there is no way to do it safely. If there is real contention, there will be injury. He was opposed to sportification, meaning the introduction of rules to allow competition, because he felt that Aikido was a practice that was about being in accord with the natural forces and environment around one, in which there is no real separation between you and anything else, including the attacker. Artificial "rules" have nothing to do with that.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:08 PM   #6
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Are We that Good?

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
"Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape." Terry Pratchett.
Cool points awarded to Demetrio!

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:25 PM   #7
phitruong
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Re: Are We that Good?

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
"Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape." Terry Pratchett.
you read Pratchett and you mentioned ape? are you crazy? it's orangutan!
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:36 PM   #8
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Re: Are We that Good?

Quote:
Is it reasonable to expect that at some point my physical abilities will support my philosophical ideology (to engage in confrontation without injury to any involved party)?
Absolutely not...and that is the "snake oil" that sells Aikido.

Quote:
...someone is hell bent on hurting you, the moment you let them up, they are coming after you.
...an absolutely true statement.

Quote:
from the ground up are we that good?
"WE" are'nt..... " I " am. I, speaking for myself only, know when to tweak, dislocate, destroy and end an existence. Those actions all have their proper time and place, and their unique ramifications.

Quote:
" Aikido is an art for pussies.."
There are a multitude of examples out there (and here),
just look...some are nidan and above.

"We are not that good...a few of us are.

Train well,

Mickey

Last edited by mickeygelum : 11-04-2010 at 01:40 PM. Reason: No reason, just pondering an addition
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:41 PM   #9
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Re: Are We that Good?

Just give the Librarian ("ook") a banana and he'll be fine . .

But to address the topic of the thread . . whenever you get a group of role players together, discussions around stats and capabilities can quickly reach into the realm of the absurd and supernatural. I wager all of us have been there at some point. It comes down to expectations and how you realistically prepare yourself and test yourself against those expectations.

Striving for objective measures with regard to capabilities is often a very worthwhile and admirable exercise.
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:42 PM   #10
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Are We that Good?

Jon,

Good post. I think that too often we look at things through very simple and fundamental eyes.

In reality the world and our engagements are very complex. In my experiences where I am right now, the enemy is a very complex thing. He is human at the basic level and yes, he will engage you with violence and harm if the opportunity or target presents. He is not stupid though, and very smart.

He keenly understands second and third order effects, he understand the art of fighting the fight in indirect and subtle ways.

He will be your friend one minute and then when you let your guard down he is ready to strike.

He will attack and prey on the weak and the oppressed.

In my experiences it is never a even or fair fight, most of the time you never get to meet your enemy face to face...again, he is smart and knows what he is doing.

Most true enemies I think are like that. It is never a simple as the romantic idea of "two opponents meet on the battlefield and fight/reason". It is a complex dance over time, distance, idealogies, skills, and experiences.

To me, "engaging" my enemy is something that is done with my whole being over time, distance...etc.

By trying to help those that are weak so they may one day stand up for themselves.

By being prepared, ready and aware...that is doing the things every day and every minute that prevent you from being a soft/easy target.

By living a good life and trying to "be the change you want to see in the world".

By understanding your environment. Standing in the right places. Smiling at the right time. Not allowing things or people to distract you.

I have found that the "battle" or "engagement" with your "enemy" is one that is fought more strategically than tactically. Tactics are direct engagement is used when all else fails.

Again, I think that a big mistake in martial arts is the fact that we tend to take a very superficial and overly simplistic look at how this whole budo, aiki thing works. As a daily practice in the very limited time we have to practice and the limited things we do practice, it can really do very little to prepare us for a one on one direct violent encounter with physical skills. However, it can serve as a good allegory or what not to help remind us what it is that we need to stay focused on.

That is, if we are looking at it with the correct perspective!

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Old 11-04-2010, 02:05 PM   #11
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Re: Are We that Good?

If you view it as a martial art, then it should be able to stand up under some level of pressure in a martial context. For that to happen then it needs to be practiced with some level of serious intent, which really isn't the case these days, so no.

I really don't believe it was ever intended to be a direct fighting art. It was about experiencing, building and exploring aiki, not about fighting techniques. With aiki those techniques may well be far more valuable in a fighting context, but without it, only to a certain degree.
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Old 11-04-2010, 02:31 PM   #12
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Re: Are We that Good?

what's rule # 1?

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 11-04-2010, 02:32 PM   #13
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Are We that Good?

Quote:
Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
If you view it as a martial art, then it should be able to stand up under some level of pressure in a martial context. For that to happen then it needs to be practiced with some level of serious intent, which really isn't the case these days, so no.
Could you define what you mean by serious intent? I'm pretty sure there are a lot of "Aikido" people who have that, using my sense of the phrase, at any rate.

Quote:
I really don't believe it was ever intended to be a direct fighting art. It was about experiencing, building and exploring aiki, not about fighting techniques. With aiki those techniques may well be far more valuable in a fighting context, but without it, only to a certain degree.
I might be misunderstanding your meaning here, but I'm pretty sure the ability to protect oneself was included in the intent of O Sensei regarding his art...even later on in his life, where it could be argued the emphasis was lessened.

Quote:
Alfonso wrote:
what's rule # 1?
Don't talk about fight club?


P.S. Kevin, awesome post!

Last edited by mathewjgano : 11-04-2010 at 02:38 PM.

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Old 11-04-2010, 02:59 PM   #14
chillzATL
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Re: Are We that Good?

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
Could you define what you mean by serious intent? I'm pretty sure there are a lot of "Aikido" people who have that, using my sense of the phrase, at any rate.
Meaning they intend to hit you and hurt you with that hit. I don't think you see that level of seriousness or intent in many dojos. Even then it's probably a rarity in those dojos.

Quote:
I might be misunderstanding your meaning here, but I'm pretty sure the ability to protect oneself was included in the intent of O Sensei regarding his art...even later on in his life, where it could be argued the emphasis was lessened.
Sure, I think it was, if one were actually doing his art, but that requires aiki, which is in short supply these days.
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Old 11-04-2010, 03:30 PM   #15
dps
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Re: Are We that Good?

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Is it reasonable to expect that at some point my physical abilities will support my philosophical ideology
To paraphrase my son, " If you haven't realized by now that the answer is no then you have not practiced Aikido long enough to know what Aikido is."

One of my favorite movie quotes is from the 1987 movie " Gardens of Stone" where Sgt. Major "Goody" Nelson (James Earl Jones) tells Platoon Sergeant Clell Hazard (James Caan),

"Sometimes you eat the Bear, sometimes the Bear eats you."

dps

Last edited by dps : 11-04-2010 at 03:34 PM.
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Old 11-04-2010, 03:35 PM   #16
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Are We that Good?

Quote:
Alfonso Adriasola wrote: View Post
what's rule # 1?
Do not act incautiously when confronting a little bald wrinkly smiling man.
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Old 11-04-2010, 04:50 PM   #17
Rob Watson
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Re: Are We that Good?

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Do not act incautiously when confronting a little bald wrinkly smiling man.
Fear the beard.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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Old 11-04-2010, 06:16 PM   #18
Alfonso
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Re: Are We that Good?

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Do not act incautiously when confronting a little bald wrinkly smiling man.
would rule #1 even exist without Morihei Ueshiba ?

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 11-04-2010, 06:36 PM   #19
David Board
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Re: Are We that Good?

Quote:
Alfonso Adriasola wrote: View Post
would rule #1 even exist without Morihei Ueshiba ?
Ask the Sweeper.
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Old 11-04-2010, 06:59 PM   #20
Anjisan
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Ai symbol Re: Are We that Good?

Quote:
Joseph Connolly wrote: View Post
You set so many conditions. The answer is "no". Random person in random altercation. Someone will probably get hurt, physically, emotionally or mentally.

Now, can an "aikido person" successfully restrain someone until the police come? Probably. But is someone is hell bent on hurting you, the moment you let them up, they are coming after you. Not every person is either capable of rational choice, or in the condition to make rational choices.
And don't forget those wiley old predators who are cold, calculating, and sickly rational. If only drunks and guys with short tempers were the biggest threats to to our kids, loved ones, the innocent and our personal safety.
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Old 11-04-2010, 10:06 PM   #21
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Are We that Good?

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Jon,

Good post. I think that too often we look at things through very simple and fundamental eyes.

In reality the world and our engagements are very complex. In my experiences where I am right now, the enemy is a very complex thing. He is human at the basic level and yes, he will engage you with violence and harm if the opportunity or target presents. He is not stupid though, and very smart.

He keenly understands second and third order effects, he understand the art of fighting the fight in indirect and subtle ways.

He will be your friend one minute and then when you let your guard down he is ready to strike.

He will attack and prey on the weak and the oppressed.

In my experiences it is never a even or fair fight, most of the time you never get to meet your enemy face to face...again, he is smart and knows what he is doing.

Most true enemies I think are like that. It is never a simple as the romantic idea of "two opponents meet on the battlefield and fight/reason". It is a complex dance over time, distance, idealogies, skills, and experiences.

To me, "engaging" my enemy is something that is done with my whole being over time, distance...etc.

By trying to help those that are weak so they may one day stand up for themselves.

By being prepared, ready and aware...that is doing the things every day and every minute that prevent you from being a soft/easy target.

By living a good life and trying to "be the change you want to see in the world".

By understanding your environment. Standing in the right places. Smiling at the right time. Not allowing things or people to distract you.

I have found that the "battle" or "engagement" with your "enemy" is one that is fought more strategically than tactically. Tactics are direct engagement is used when all else fails.

Again, I think that a big mistake in martial arts is the fact that we tend to take a very superficial and overly simplistic look at how this whole budo, aiki thing works. As a daily practice in the very limited time we have to practice and the limited things we do practice, it can really do very little to prepare us for a one on one direct violent encounter with physical skills. However, it can serve as a good allegory or what not to help remind us what it is that we need to stay focused on.

That is, if we are looking at it with the correct perspective!
Hi Kevin,
Folks doing Aikido often tend towards the "samurai wanna be" side of things. While many of the things we train in the dojo can be applied in a more martial context, the training itself has nothing to do with real fighting, even less with combat.

Most folks have never trained in an art that was about real combat, don't have any idea what that would entail, and are completely unrealistic about the training they are doing. On the positive side, I think that Aikido folks are less prone to this kind if "magical thinking" than some other arts because the way we train is just so removed from real fighting, is so stylized, that most folks realize that it isn't about fighting.

Having trained for a couple of years with Ellis Amdur Sensei in the Araki Ryu, I have to say I REALLY appreciated the experience because it put so much in perspective. I actually incorporated some stuff in to my Aikido from it but mostly it was the contrast that helped me understand what we were and were not doing in Aikido.

The first set of empty hands forms we learned from Amdur Sensei involved assassinating a guest whom you were serving tea. They were contained in the Araki Ryu manuals under some heading on the order of "How to Defeat a Superior Swordsman". In other words, don't sword fight him. That's real combat or warfare. That's why our enemy pursues asymmetrical warfare. We ARE the superior swordsman!

Aikido training is so not about this that it would be harder to find any other martial art less about this. Japanese ceramics are just as good preparation for combat as Aikido.

Aikido practice is not about fighting, it is not really about self defense except peripherally. It is really about how we live in our daily lives. Just as the Araki Ryu, which was really the dark side of the force, was fundamentally about conflict and how to survive in the midst of a world that is in conflict, Aikido is about how one lives ones life in such a way that it doesn't produce conflict and how one can potentially meet the ordinary conflicts of our daily lives in such a way that they can be transformed into something that isn't destructive and doesn't create more of that "conflict" energy.

Over and over we have these threads which I think shows how folks don't really understand what they are doing in the art. This is just another slightly changed version of "does Aikido work on the street?" I think that is about the silliest question one could ask considering that much of what ones see passing for Aikido doesn't even "work" in the dojo much less "on the street".

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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Old 11-05-2010, 12:40 AM   #22
John Matsushima
 
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Re: Are We that Good?

I think that if a skilled judoka or wrestler can do it, then why not an Aikidoka?

-John Matsushima

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http://onecorneroftheplanetinjapan.blogspot.jp/
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Old 11-05-2010, 04:56 AM   #23
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Re: Are We that Good?

IMHO, very few people walk the talk in any area of life.

There is often discrepancies between fantasy expectations and reality.

Should we lower our expectations or raise the quality of our training?

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 11-05-2010, 05:39 AM   #24
Rolf Granlund
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Re: Are We that Good?

I personally would vote whole heartedly for raising the level of our training. There is no other option if we want to take what we learn in the dojo out onto the streets. And I'm not just talking physical altercations.

With Respect,
Rolf Granlund
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Old 11-05-2010, 08:24 AM   #25
AsimHanif
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Re: Are We that Good?

Good question John. Great response Lynn.
Too often I have read very long diatribes and pontifications from folks on this very forum. Most of it is self serving. Fortunately I've had opportunities to feel and observe some of them on the mat only to find their words did not match their actions in the least.
It serves as a reminder to me to 'shut up and train'.
AH
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