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Old 05-25-2010, 08:29 AM   #51
Gorgeous George
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Re: Nobody Does It Better ?

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Anita Dacanay wrote: View Post
Please, George - go ahead and presume to answer for me, as when I answered for myself, I got no response! (I am smiling here - please don't take offense, David.) I like your answer, George: "we should become what we are meant to be."

In any event, the only point I was trying to make with that quote was that, to my understanding, one cannot take the spiritual aspect of Ueshiba's Aikido out of the equation and still call it Aikido. It seems to me that that would be rather like taking the ice cream out of an ice cream sundae!

However, trying to understand and articulate precisely what O Sensei meant by "the movements of the universe" might make for a compelling discussion.
Well what's fundamental for me in my understanding of aikido is that it is concerned with 'natural movements'.
The techniques/movements of aikido, to me, are the same as those of yoga: by performing them/having them applied, your body is freed from constraints - your muscles etc. are stretched, and blood, and what have you can freely move around your body: if you wrap string around your wrist, cutting off the blood supply to your hand, your hand will literally wither and die; we should bear that in mind when thinking about like, applying nikkyo, for example, and it is stimulating the unstimulated areas of your wrist, getting blood, and y'know, antibodies and all that stuff, there.
There's a saying from possibly O'Sensei, which is along the lines of 'When you're born, you're very relaxed, but as you get older, you stiffen up, and eventually you die, so we should look to stay relaxed'.

I don't know about anybody else, but after doing yoga or aikido, i feel much better - i don't know if it's from the 'ki' flowing more freely, and around more of my body, or just the blood (the two are probably the same?), but i think it's because i'm in more accord with the universe: i am in accord with nature - moving as a human being should - and what is natural feels the best, of necessity.
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Old 05-25-2010, 08:46 AM   #52
Anita Dacanay
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Re: Nobody Does It Better ?

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George Howard wrote: View Post
Well what's fundamental for me in my understanding of aikido is that it is concerned with 'natural movements'.
The techniques/movements of aikido, to me, are the same as those of yoga: by performing them/having them applied, your body is freed from constraints - your muscles etc. are stretched, and blood, and what have you can freely move around your body: if you wrap string around your wrist, cutting off the blood supply to your hand, your hand will literally wither and die; we should bear that in mind when thinking about like, applying nikkyo, for example, and it is stimulating the unstimulated areas of your wrist, getting blood, and y'know, antibodies and all that stuff, there.
There's a saying from possibly O'Sensei, which is along the lines of 'When you're born, you're very relaxed, but as you get older, you stiffen up, and eventually you die, so we should look to stay relaxed'.

I don't know about anybody else, but after doing yoga or aikido, i feel much better - i don't know if it's from the 'ki' flowing more freely, and around more of my body, or just the blood (the two are probably the same?), but i think it's because i'm in more accord with the universe: i am in accord with nature - moving as a human being should - and what is natural feels the best, of necessity.
That all makes good sense, George; and is for me a big part of my motivation for continuing to practice - I feel better afterward! In essence, I suppose it does not really matter if the feeling better is simply because my blood is flowing through my veins more vigorously or because my ki is flowing more freely - or both. There is practical good sense in doing what makes us feel invigorated and more balanced.

The whole "natural movement" idea always makes me think of watching a dolphin swim or an eagle soar. Sometimes I get these images when I watch someone particularly adept practicing Aikido.
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Old 05-25-2010, 09:19 AM   #53
dps
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Re: Nobody Does It Better ?

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Anita Dacanay wrote: View Post
Hi David,

I will not presume to know precisely what O Sensei meant by these statements, but I think I can ascertain that he was talking about achieving a greater consciousness. My guess is that this would include expanded awareness and greater understanding of both physical and spiritual laws of the universe.

When I reach my own enlightenment, I'll let you know!

Best,
Anita
I can understand the physical laws of the universe but could you explain the spiritual laws of the universe?

David
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Old 05-25-2010, 09:50 AM   #54
dps
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Re: Nobody Does It Better ?

I am familiar with Zen philosophy but to my understanding O'Sensei did not study Zen. The religions that were primary in developing his spiritual beliefs were Shinto and Omoto-kyo.

O'Sensei's spiritual beliefs were O'Sensei's. Many if not all of his direct students did not share O'Sensei's beliefs.

Many Aikido students practice Aikido without a spiritual component.

Anita and George do believe that your Aikido can be as good or better than O'Sensei's.

David

Last edited by dps : 05-25-2010 at 09:56 AM.
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Old 05-25-2010, 12:17 PM   #55
Gorgeous George
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Re: Nobody Does It Better ?

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David Skaggs wrote: View Post
I am familiar with Zen philosophy but to my understanding O'Sensei did not study Zen. The religions that were primary in developing his spiritual beliefs were Shinto and Omoto-kyo.

O'Sensei's spiritual beliefs were O'Sensei's. Many if not all of his direct students did not share O'Sensei's beliefs.

Many Aikido students practice Aikido without a spiritual component.

Anita and George do believe that your Aikido can be as good or better than O'Sensei's.

David
Yes, i know that he didn't study Zen...what i was meaning to express, not knowing much about his religion, is that throughout Eatern philosophy/religion there is this belief - through Zen, Tao, and i think Shinto, too - that there is this underlying reality with which we can all connect.
It's one of those 'there are many ways to get there, but it's the same summit' kind of things, i think.
There is a very good article by Chiba sensei on the subject of philosophy/religion in aikido; it's very long, so here are a few relevant excerpts:

'Aikido has been regarded as "moving Zen" which defines the character of Aikido well.
[...]

I would like to describe how I began Zen training which, in a passive way, was due to my teacher, Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido. What I mean by a "passive way" is that he taught me the importance of spiritual discipline along with martial discipline.
[...]

the Founder always emphasized the importance of spiritual discipline ("religious faith", in his exact words) and the practice of farming along with martial discipline, if one wished to achieve one's goals. I had no problem with following the practice of farming and martial discipline (I still do both even up to today). However, I could not avoid the increasingly strong internal resistance that, as time went on, built up within me toward the Founder's spiritual discipline. I suffered from an internal split and feared the loss of unity between the physical art and spiritual discipline which was supposed to be the underlying principle of the art.

[...]
Zen, on the other hand, is a profound discipline bringing about a confrontation with one's own original face and man's fundamental living principle, so-called "Honrai-no-Memboku" through engaging in the most direct, simple and primordial physical act of sitting. When Aikido, as a martial art, is defined as a way to deal with one's subjectivity in relation to others, as I have attempted to define it above, Zen can be viewed as a premise or precondition for martial discipline, and this is where one can find a strong connection between the two. Thus, Aikido can be called a "moving Zen".

[...]
I believe the important message is that one should not look at things through a filter of dualistic views, but with a unified view of the mind and body as one.

[...]
all acquired conditions, learned behavior patterns which make up the underlying perception of self-identity must be put aside'

http://www.aikidoonline.com/articles...Zen_Aikido.php

I agree that there are many - most, in fact - who do not engage in aikido on philosophical/religious grounds, and never have much interest or understanding of them; my own view/understanding of aikido's creation is that this religious man, O'Sensei, practised martial arts, and came to realise (after he dodged all of that kendoka's thrusts, and went to wash himself?) that when he was practising them, he was also practicing his religion - hence he created aikido: a direct means of acting out his religious beliefs, and that his entire life was aikido: he moved as he did on the mat in his life.

(What i find interesting here, as an aside, is that there are these Chinese martial arts where they have 'monkey style', 'crane style', ('doggy style'?), etc., which have as their intent to move like these animals, and thus, through effective natural movement, win fights, whereas aikido has as its intent to move like a man (or woman: i meant nothing by it) should - that is the most effective way for a man (or woman) to move.)

Is there the capacity for us to be as good as/better than O'Sensei? Possibly. Is it likely? No.
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Old 05-25-2010, 01:09 PM   #56
Anita Dacanay
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Re: Nobody Does It Better ?

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David Skaggs wrote: View Post
I am familiar with Zen philosophy but to my understanding O'Sensei did not study Zen. The religions that were primary in developing his spiritual beliefs were Shinto and Omoto-kyo.

O'Sensei's spiritual beliefs were O'Sensei's. Many if not all of his direct students did not share O'Sensei's beliefs.

Many Aikido students practice Aikido without a spiritual component.

David
Well, personally I am not a religious person, but I am a spiritual person. That is, I don't follow any one specified religion, but I have been seeking spiritual truth since I was a teenager. I believe that spiritual truth is spiritual truth, whether it is conveyed through a particular religious figure or writing, or by some other means.

In other words, I don't think that I have to follow the same religion as O Sensei in order to benefit from or learn from his spiritual journey and/or teachings. For me, Aikido inherently conveys a "spiritual component".

To be clear, however, we may be defining "spiritual component" in very different ways.

For me, it is spiritually significant to realize that I often don't take up my space as I should, or assert my presence when it is appropriate. In a physical sense, this may mean that I don't enter in thoroughly enough, that I'm not standing close enough to my partner, that I don't give appropriate atemi, or that I "hang up the phone" on my partner when I am being Uke. In order to change this movement, I may have to change my psychology first; or I may find that by changing my physiology, my mental state changes. This goes beyond merely physics or psychology when I realize that I am not being true to my inner self if I do not assert myself when appropriate. Working through this unhealthy pattern or way of relating takes me closer to balance, closer to that state of being who I was meant to be, as I was meant to be.

In regards to your question about whether or not I think I could surpass O Sensei in my Aikido practice, I would have to answer as George did. Theoretically, I guess so; but in my estimation it is highly, highly unlikely. But then again, my goal is not to be better than O Sensei, my goal is to be better than I was last week.
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Old 05-25-2010, 03:05 PM   #57
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Re: Nobody Does It Better ?

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Anita Dacanay wrote: View Post
Sorry for the double post, but I thought maybe I should provide a quote. To underscore my point, here is a passage from "A Life in Aikido" by the second Doshu quoting O Sensei's writings:

"Aikido is a path to truth, and Aikido training should be understood to have the goal of finding that truth. In the discipline of Aikido, when you train hard, practice wisely, and analyze what you are doing, kami-waza will arise.

In Aikido, when one trains in the following manner, one's body will absorb the power of unchanging truth:

1. Train to harmonize one's mind with the movements of the universe.

2. Train to harmonize one's body with the movements of the universe.

3. Train to harmonize the ki that connects mind and body with the movements of the universe.

Only those who are able to train in these three ways at the same time, not as a theory but in the dojo and in their daily life, can be called practioners of Aikido."

So... how can we have a hypothetical discussion regarding O Sensei's finesse as a martial artist removed from or aside from his spiritual development? It seems to me that the two were so totally intertwined as to be inseparable.
To me, Aikido ultimately emerged from, and was an expression of, O Sensei's spirituality, not necessarily, in a sense, his spiritual path. That being said, I think his development lead him to shape Aikido into something that reflected his realization of the "true nature of things", and can provide people with clues into what he actually experienced, and, if one looks carefully, even perhaps an understanding of how to pursue it themselves.

O Sensei's practice was grounded in Shinto, which at it's heart is Shamanism. Looking at his teachings in that light, we can interpret the spirituality of Aikido in terms of connection to the greater Spirit and Will of the Universe, and connection to the Kami, or in other terms, disembodied Higher Guides and Helpers (in Native American spirituality, the Spirit Guides), that communicate with us and help us align with and manifest our highest human and spiritual truth (in Buddhism, our personal and spiritual Dharma.)

On a practical level, through understanding how to open one's being and energy (Ki) to the energy and consciousness of the Universe/Spirit (through fully knowing one's center and one's Ki), and through knowing the process through which one can connect and listen to the Kami/Guides, and then, through allowing these experiences of consciousness to manifest in and through our bodies and beings, alignment and harmony with Spirit and highest good and the best possible outcome occur - the loving protection of all things.

These processes train one's mind, body, and Ki to be in harmony with the movements of the Universe, which are the natural unfoldings of Spirit/Universal Consciousness in it's perfect form.

My Shamanic mentor uses the term - Centered in the Sacred Presence - in all of body, mind, and spirit. Bring all that through in the moment into your Aikido and life, and you have what, to me, O Sensei was talking about.

These are skills and experiences that one has to be inducted into, not just taught about through the repetitive practice of techniques that relate to them, or point to them. Beyond technical expertise, "Kami-waza" then becomes Aikido manifesting as a result of "higher guidance." And as O Sensei intimated, perhaps to be doing, or relating to, Aikido as he did, one needs to include a relationship with this deeper dimension of spiritual reality in one's awareness, experience, and consciousness. To me, this doesn't mean following Shinto etc., it means keeping open to the clues that lead one to one's own deeper path. Again, as my mentor often says:

"Seek not to follow in the footsteps of the Ancient Ones,
seek instead what they sought."

Larry Novick
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ACE Aikido
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Old 05-26-2010, 04:31 AM   #58
Anita Dacanay
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Re: Nobody Does It Better ?

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Larry Novick wrote: View Post

These processes train one's mind, body, and Ki to be in harmony with the movements of the Universe, which are the natural unfoldings of Spirit/Universal Consciousness in it's perfect form.

My Shamanic mentor uses the term - Centered in the Sacred Presence - in all of body, mind, and spirit. Bring all that through in the moment into your Aikido and life, and you have what, to me, O Sensei was talking about.

These are skills and experiences that one has to be inducted into, not just taught about through the repetitive practice of techniques that relate to them, or point to them. Beyond technical expertise, "Kami-waza" then becomes Aikido manifesting as a result of "higher guidance." And as O Sensei intimated, perhaps to be doing, or relating to, Aikido as he did, one needs to include a relationship with this deeper dimension of spiritual reality in one's awareness, experience, and consciousness. To me, this doesn't mean following Shinto etc., it means keeping open to the clues that lead one to one's own deeper path. Again, as my mentor often says:

"Seek not to follow in the footsteps of the Ancient Ones,
seek instead what they sought."
Thanks for your explanation, Larry. You make a lot of good points. I have only recently become aware of the shamanic nature of Omoto.

I am wondering if you think that the movements in Aikido are designed to facilitate or elicit greater sensitivity to the spiritual realm? I used to practice Kundalini yoga years ago, and had very powerful experiences of feeling my energy flowing and feeling my consciousness altered. I could literally feel the exercises working on me on both the physical and spiritual level.

As of now I have not had that sort of experience during Aikido practice. I definitely feel better after practicing Aikido: more balanced and relaxed; but in the moment I have yet to truly get past my worry about how badly I am executing the technique! It's one thing for me to be centered and relaxed whilst meditating in my own quiet little corner; quite another to remain so when being confronted with an attack.
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Old 05-26-2010, 12:32 PM   #59
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Re: Nobody Does It Better ?

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Thanks for your explanation, Larry. You make a lot of good points. I have only recently become aware of the shamanic nature of Omoto.

I am wondering if you think that the movements in Aikido are designed to facilitate or elicit greater sensitivity to the spiritual realm? I used to practice Kundalini yoga years ago, and had very powerful experiences of feeling my energy flowing and feeling my consciousness altered. I could literally feel the exercises working on me on both the physical and spiritual level.

As of now I have not had that sort of experience during Aikido practice. I definitely feel better after practicing Aikido: more balanced and relaxed; but in the moment I have yet to truly get past my worry about how badly I am executing the technique! It's one thing for me to be centered and relaxed whilst meditating in my own quiet little corner; quite another to remain so when being confronted with an attack.
This is just my take on things, based on my own experience, but I think you ask a really important question.

I think many people feel good after Aikido practice, myself included, for many reasons, a big one being the spiraling, circular/spherical "harmonious" movements. This in-and-of-itself tends to bring a certain centered, exhilarating experience, which is a powerful thing. Along with that, the flowing nature of the movements and practice brings positive feelings and sensibilities that are very different than if one were doing techniques etc. that feel "more linear, confrontive, and in conflict." To me this is "physical Aiki" and can be a great experience. I personally think that this is a lot of what people get from Aikido practice.

But as much as I enjoy that, for me it is not nearly enough. It is really important to me How Aikido is practiced Internally, because it is more about the feeling and consciousness that I approach each moment and interaction with, the things I am paying attention to inside myself, and how I am then literally externalizing those things in the moment. That, to me, brings another dimension to Aikido and Aikido practice that I think O Sensei was addressing.

For me Aikido is an externalization of a subtle experience that is cultivated by learning to pay continual attention to the basic internal principles of center, Ki, connection, and ultimately guidance, that I touched on above. In my experience, it is then that one enters into, as you nicely call it, a "greater sensitivity to the spiritual realm" that for me is very important (I would add to that the "energetic realm" as well.) The internal principles need to be specifically and properly learned, addressed, and paid attention to all the time, otherwise Aikido is an external practice that in my opinion, likely won't move into the deeper realms, or at least not that far.

And of course you're right about it being easier to be centered etc. while meditating rather than actually facing a dynamic attack. It is how we develop the ability to do so, that I am really addressing. For me, the two subjects - the spiritual dimension of Aikido and the actuality of how one manifests Aikido, are integrally related.

Kudalini yoga is designed specifically to have an affect on one's internal (spiritual) experience. In Aikido, perhaps the same is true at some level, but how deep that really goes depends on how one approaches it and practices it.

Larry Novick
Head Instructor
ACE Aikido
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Old 05-27-2010, 03:59 AM   #60
Anita Dacanay
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Re: Nobody Does It Better ?

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Larry Novick wrote: View Post
Kudalini yoga is designed specifically to have an affect on one's internal (spiritual) experience. In Aikido, perhaps the same is true at some level, but how deep that really goes depends on how one approaches it and practices it.
Yes, I was wondering about that because of the circle, triangle, square business, and how physically manifesting these shapes with our bodies in practice might affect us on various levels. I hear your assertion that what one gets out of Aikido practice depends upon the focus or intention that one puts into it. That is true of many things, I suppose, or everything!

Thank you again for a thoughtful response, Larry. Your posts have helped me to clarify several points regarding what Aikido means to me and why I practice.
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Old 05-27-2010, 07:20 PM   #61
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Re: Nobody Does It Better ?

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Anita Dacanay wrote: View Post
Yes, I was wondering about that because of the circle, triangle, square business, and how physically manifesting these shapes with our bodies in practice might affect us on various levels. I hear your assertion that what one gets out of Aikido practice depends upon the focus or intention that one puts into it. That is true of many things, I suppose, or everything!

Thank you again for a thoughtful response, Larry. Your posts have helped me to clarify several points regarding what Aikido means to me and why I practice.
Thanks for the opportunity to discuss this stuff.

Larry Novick
Head Instructor
ACE Aikido
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