Welcome to AikiWeb Aikido Information
AikiWeb: The Source for Aikido Information
AikiWeb's principal purpose is to serve the Internet community as a repository and dissemination point for aikido information.

Sections
home
aikido articles
columns

Discussions
forums
aikiblogs

Databases
dojo search
seminars
image gallery
supplies
links directory

Reviews
book reviews
video reviews
dvd reviews
equip. reviews

News
submit
archive

Miscellaneous
newsletter
rss feeds
polls
about

Follow us on



Home > AikiWeb Aikido Forums
Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > Spiritual

Hello and thank you for visiting AikiWeb, the world's most active online Aikido community! This site is home to over 22,000 aikido practitioners from around the world and covers a wide range of aikido topics including techniques, philosophy, history, humor, beginner issues, the marketplace, and more.

If you wish to join in the discussions or use the other advanced features available, you will need to register first. Registration is absolutely free and takes only a few minutes to complete so sign up today!

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 04-19-2006, 07:56 AM   #51
Erick Mead
 
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,437
United_States
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Mike Logan wrote:
Here's a funny side note from tonight's practice. I was working on katatetori ikkyo with someone who is still essentially a beginner, they broke their pinky toe on the back of my heel as they stepped wildly to keep their balance, instead of pivoting. He's a tad taller than I, keen technical awareness, very athletic, definitely stronger than myself, but his only problem is rigid stiffness, and that stiffness broke his toe. I am still trying to tell myself that it isn't my fault.
I have noted this happening in several instances to similar Big Strong Guys (tm) who were trying to figure out ukemi even on very slow smooth nage technique, suddenly hopping around on one foot or on the ground nursing the pinky toe. Even the mightiest house has its weak point in the foundation, I suppose.

More to to the point, this is of a pattern, albeit the reverse of Kevin's, statement. They have some how learned that to be strong is to seem strong (as if they needed to). I suspect they learned it when they were twelvish striplings, and the body then grew into the image portrayed.

Seeming can be martial when used as a feint and then discarded. It only works once, becasue after that your portrayals are not trusted by your adversary. Humility also has a scheming side, as all human virtues have their shadow, a darkness underneath.

Keeping to the current culture theme, the best example of this is in The Thirteenth Warrior. Ibn's friend fights the hulking redhead Angus in order to end the princeling's scheming intrigues. HIs desire to assure that Bulwyf does not supplant him are hurting the efforts to defend against the enemy. They regret the loss of Angus' strength, but the dissension in which he was being used as a tool was far more dangerous.

I try very hard to bring these Big Strong Guys(tm) to an understanding of proper martial bearing as being simple relaxed poise. I try to bring along the opposite type -- the limp-dishrag "I just don't want to hurt anybody" to the same middle ground from the opposite pole.

Seeming peaceful does not bring peace, as seeming strong does not bring victory.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2006, 09:39 AM   #52
billybob
 
billybob's Avatar
Dojo: Academy of Warrior Spirit
Location: tampa
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 440
United_States
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Erick,

1.You said in the thread below this one that it is important to release the mind.
2.You said,
Quote:
Killing for killing's sake is always wrong, at every time and in every place.
This is a tautology, and does not help us move forward in understanding the 'something else' in martial study you want to discuss.
3.You speak of classical ethics, and you speak of the beautiful ethic in Islam that says murdering one man is like murdering all; reminds me of Kant, BUT you don't seem to realize that you are being extremely analytical in a discussion of people's values, in the Spiritual thread section of this board.

Sir, I respectfully call upon you to 'lose'. I think if you commit only to falling down that you may learn more. The best aikido technique comes after this 'giving up', and I think it will help here. We called it sutemi waza in judo. Don't fight what is being said to you.

I'm sorry if i seem like an ass for saying this. I'm trying to help.

david
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2006, 11:07 AM   #53
Erick Mead
 
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,437
United_States
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
David Knowlton wrote:
1.You said in the thread below this one that it is important to release the mind.
I said "release the mind" -- not throw it away. One releases an arrow, too, but that hardly signifies surrender, but simply letting the tool perform its proper purpose, and not forcing it to uses it is ill-suited to perform.
Quote:
David Knowlton wrote:
2.You said, This is a tautology, and does not help us move forward in understanding the 'something else' in martial study you want to discuss.
The something else is to distinguish the mind as a objective tool not a subject in its own right; and to distinguish the broader reach of aikido in its martial aspects from the narrow defense of "self" identified with that mind. And here I thought we were all making some progress in discussing that, with useful challenges.
Quote:
David Knowlton wrote:
3.You speak of classical ethics, and you speak of the beautiful ethic in Islam that says murdering one man is like murdering all; reminds me of Kant, BUT you don't seem to realize that you are being extremely analytical in a discussion of people's values, in the Spiritual thread section of this board.
I am Catholic -- in my tradition spirituality and reason are not opponents, but complements. This is not by any means an untraditional framework in Eastern thought either. Certainly, Confucian and Neo-Confucian contributions to the world-view that brought about Aikido, cannot be disregarded. Intuition and emotive response have their limits -- as does reason. Wholeness requires that each human faculty test the other. So -- test away.
Quote:
David Knowlton wrote:
...I respectfully call upon you to 'lose'. I think if you commit only to falling down that you may learn more.
Learning plenty -- thanks. I was unaware that we were competing, I am equally unaware of losing anything, but then I have not rummaged through my pockets lately ....
Quote:
David Knowlton wrote:
The best aikido technique comes after this 'giving up', and I think it will help here. We called it sutemi waza in judo. Don't fight what is being said to you.
Sutemi -- love it. I have learned a lot from ukemi, probably more than from performing nage side, but only after being put in the position of having no other choice but an ukemi. Then I usually start to feel the road to the kaeshiwaza, the question is which ukemi gives me which reversal.

Of course, when I practice kaeshiwaza, it is my partner who does not get to practice his technique to completion, but rather ukemi in turn (and perhaps learn to look for his kaeshiwaza). Done properly, there is no competition in these drills, just flow and movement feeling for each others balance.

Reasoned and courteous debate, even on topics of spirituality -- is like kaeshiwaza. But, words are not blows. What is it that I should give up, exactly? Writing -- thinking -- or practicing kaeshiwaza?


Cordially,
Erick Mead
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2006, 11:44 AM   #54
Kevin Leavitt
 
Kevin Leavitt's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido of Northern Virginia
Location: Stuttgart, Baden Wurttemberg
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 4,376
Germany
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Erick,

I am beginning to think that you and i possibly don't necessarily disagree, but see the world and see things differently.

Then again it may just be semantics..


for example:

Quote:
I try very hard to bring these Big Strong Guys(tm) to an understanding of proper martial bearing as being simple relaxed poise. I try to bring along the opposite type -- the limp-dishrag "I just don't want to hurt anybody" to the same middle ground from the opposite pole.
I would say, i do neither. I would simply present the opportunity and the situation and conditions for them to discover things on their own. In my opinion, "trying very hard tobring them to an understanding" means that I am imposing what I want them to learn. To me, this means what I have to teach you is much more important that what you need to discover for yourself. Some what egoistic in my view. (not meant to be a flame on you.)

Maybe it is just semantics. but I think we are really getting to the core, core, core of things that are important in teaching and life. I think when we get this deep into things it is important to split hairs and discuss such issues, not as an argument to say "i'm right, your wrong", but to analyze thoughts and philosophies to see how things tick!

I don't think question of "right and wrong", I just think we may see things slightly different.

Thanks for challenging my thoughts. I have alot to think about from your writings!
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2006, 12:01 PM   #55
billybob
 
billybob's Avatar
Dojo: Academy of Warrior Spirit
Location: tampa
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 440
United_States
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Erick,

I'll give up something myself as an example: I think Kevin said what I am getting at in the post above.
It's hard for me not to sound sagely (to myself anyway, i know i say some goofy stuff, when my mind shifts and I read from other context). So, I'll give up the need to have the thought first, and say I agree with Kevin. I'm working on that humility thing; need plenty of work.

I'd like to bring back the wu wei thought. Do 'not do' any thinking, and your intuitive mind will open like an ocean before you. It's stronger, deeper, but does not understand or speak English. Again, I'm speaking (poorly) to a superior orator, and a man with a fine mind.

I'll revert to story mode - My old friend from judo was teaching at our club - he a Sandan, and me a Sanky at the time (long story). The senior student in the class could not do the technique Sensei was teaching. Place foot on top of opponent's, in foot-sweep position, and they fall over! I couldn't do the technique until my old friend said 'yoko sutemi waza' and put the 'Duh' look on his face. Then I remembered - Fall. You have to give up your center to make the technique work. Or, it seems that you give up your center, you are actually gaining the advantage by seeming to become weak. Senior student became frustrated and used force until he hurt me.

Fall down!

dave
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2006, 12:40 PM   #56
Kevin Leavitt
 
Kevin Leavitt's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido of Northern Virginia
Location: Stuttgart, Baden Wurttemberg
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 4,376
Germany
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Thanks Dave. sounds like I simply beat you to the "post" button.

I am only trying to treadwater! Erick's concepts are well thought out, articulate, and touching on areas that really make me think hard!

It hurts for sure!
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2006, 01:39 PM   #57
Erick Mead
 
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,437
United_States
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
I am beginning to think that you and i possibly don't necessarily disagree, but see the world and see things differently. ---
Then again it may just be semantics..
for example:
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
I try very hard to bring these Big Strong Guys(tm) to an understanding of proper martial bearing as being simple relaxed poise. I try to bring along the opposite type -- the limp-dishrag "I just don't want to hurt anybody" to the same middle ground from the opposite pole.
Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
I would say, i do neither. I would simply present the opportunity and the situation and conditions for them to discover things on their own.
But they do not understand the geography they are trying to navigate -- they see the mountain, but have no idea how to negotiate the obstacles to get there. We have some idea, after all we got there -- foothills anyway -- albeit, perhaps on different routes.
Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
In my opinion, "trying very hard tobring them to an understanding" means that I am imposing what I want them to learn. To me, this means what I have to teach you is much more important that what you need to discover for yourself. Some what egoistic in my view. (not meant to be a flame on you.)
No offense taken. But the student is presumably there becasue they perceive things they wish to learn, but do not understand. We have no conscripts in our dojo. I am imposing nothing, but merely offering what they have, themselves, asked to learn. Plus, we have other instructors and the mix of persectives is always useful to learning. This is not antithetical to making discoveries of their own on the way, which I certainly encourage. Lord knows, I did.
Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
I think we are really getting to the core, core, core of things that are important in teaching and life. I think when we get this deep into things it is important to split hairs and discuss such issues, not as an argument to say "i'm right, your wrong", but to analyze thoughts and philosophies to see how things tick!
Thank you, we are on the same page as to process and purpose, and steadily paring down ideas toward a clearer understanding of essential issues. The point with which we began this thread is about "martial" aspects of art.

As O-Sensei said
Quote:
Fully knowing it to be
A matter of life and death before us
We may chose to withdraw
But the enemy will not allow it.
Death is easy to choose, ours or theirs. A gun, a poison, or just build up enough rage and adrenaline to beat them to death (more effective than most people realize). Or, conversely, simply accept your own death and die at the hands of the attacker.

Life -- ours AND theirs -- this is the hard thing to choose. This is the knife's edge upon which O-Sensei sought to build a ready path.

Current culture to the fore again. In "The Outlaw Josey Wales," Josey meets Chief Ten Bears at the end, And they have a colloquoy on life and death and choices to be made. It is worth seeing for its stark acknowledgement of those choices. At the end, Ten Bears says:
Quote:
"There is iron in your words of death for all Comanche to see, and so there is iron in your words of life. No signed paper can hold the iron. It must come from men. The words of Ten Bears carries the same iron of life and death.
It is good that warriors such as we meet in the struggle of life... or death.
-----
It shall be life."
Cordially,
Erick Mead
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2006, 01:59 PM   #58
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
Location: Phila. Pa
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 4,614
United_States
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

You've quoted from a couple of my favorite movies now, Eric. Cut that out!

Best,
Ron (oh, did you ever find a source for that earlier post I asked about?)

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2006, 02:13 PM   #59
Erick Mead
 
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,437
United_States
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
David Knowlton wrote:
I'd like to bring back the wu wei thought. Do 'not do' any thinking, and your intuitive mind will open like an ocean before you. It's stronger, deeper, but does not understand or speak English.
Which is, most unfortunately, hard to put into ascii.
Quote:
David Knowlton wrote:
Place foot on top of opponent's, in foot-sweep position, and they fall over! I couldn't do the technique until my old friend said 'yoko sutemi waza' and put the 'Duh' look on his face. Then I remembered - Fall. ...Fall down!
You have stated the first rule of falling I have learned to give the beginners:: "Fall -- DOWN." It is so simple, it gets missed.

My all time favorite kaeshiwaza is very much as you describe. It is often applied to an incipient shihonage. Nage is busy getting you all wrapped up, and as he does, uke turns the free side hip in to support weight, center the elbow as much as possible, and gain musubi with the free arm braced across the shoulder girdle. Then as uke begins to cut down to the pin, drop into yoko sutemi, basically underneath nage, falling to the hip with the pinned arm.

If you do it REEEAAAL slow for the first one, the look of nage's wonderment at the evaporation of the technique and inability to recover once he cuts is simply amazing to behold. Some students, many of whom have a healthy respect of shihonage and their initally awkward ukemi when learning it, want to do it again immediately to see what happened. Really, as Kevin says, not much happened at all. I can't "Do" anything from the standing shihonage control, I can only follow his cut where it leads, and then let gravity lead it there.

Often we do it again and then they ask me, "What happened?" I usually reply "I just fell down. That's what you wanted wasn't it?"

Cordially,
Erick Mead
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2006, 03:43 PM   #60
billybob
 
billybob's Avatar
Dojo: Academy of Warrior Spirit
Location: tampa
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 440
United_States
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Erick,

I think in that last you sheathed the very honed sword of your intellect and spoke from the heart.

Or, I'm both stupid and arrogant, and you didn't make sense until you spoke by analogy which I can actually grasp. Either way, I'm glad to be part of this discussion. I'm glad you have felt the wonder and beauty of the counter you described, and that you didn't injure your partner doing it.

Hope to train in person some day.

david
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-21-2006, 02:54 AM   #61
mathewjgano
 
mathewjgano's Avatar
Dojo: Tsubaki Kannagara Jinja Aikidojo; Himeji Shodokan Dojo
Location: Renton
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2,099
United_States
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Are MARTIAL arts 'self-defense" or something else?

A tour of websites recently put me off. Particularly those in the vein of "Aikido is an art of non-violent self-defense.
Please forgive me for replying to the initial post despite the fact that the conversation has progressed so far.
I think the distinction is a matter of semantics...for the most part at least. I've been told by Aikidoka and non-Aikidoka that Aikido is not a self-defense art just as I've heard from both that Aikido IS a self-defense art. Some who have caled it a self-defense art even describe it as such because they consider the phrase "self-defense" to be a bad thing denoting a fear-based mind-set, implying that fear somehow automatically makes an action weaker.
Taking the terms at face value I think Aikido is a great method for learning to protect the self and others. In this sense at least, it seems clear to me it is a self-defense art. Even taking the idea that when we practice "Aikido" we are not fighting, I still think "self-defense" fits. I don't see the phrase as denoting conflict, but merely the preservation of self, without which we cannot hope to preserve the quality of life of others. In my mind, this is the bottom line to matters of Budo, which pertains both to love and war at the same time.
Ogenkide!
Matt

Gambarimashyo!
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-21-2006, 03:25 AM   #62
Dazzler
Dojo: Templegate Dojo, bristol & Bristol North Aikido Dojo
Location: Bristol
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 638
England
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
My all time favorite kaeshiwaza is very much as you describe. It is often applied to an incipient shihonage. Nage is busy getting you all wrapped up, and as he does, uke turns the free side hip in to support weight, center the elbow as much as possible, and gain musubi with the free arm braced across the shoulder girdle. Then as uke begins to cut down to the pin, drop into yoko sutemi, basically underneath nage, falling to the hip with the pinned arm.

If you do it REEEAAAL slow for the first one, the look of nage's wonderment at the evaporation of the technique and inability to recover once he cuts is simply amazing to behold. Some students, many of whom have a healthy respect of shihonage and their initally awkward ukemi when learning it, want to do it again immediately to see what happened. Really, as Kevin says, not much happened at all. I can't "Do" anything from the standing shihonage control, I can only follow his cut where it leads, and then let gravity lead it there.

Often we do it again and then they ask me, "What happened?" I usually reply "I just fell down. That's what you wanted wasn't it?"
Apologies for taking the thread off at a tangent.

Does anyone have any clips of this reversal. The description is pretty good but I'd like to look at the finer details.

Thanks

D
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-21-2006, 07:06 AM   #63
Erick Mead
 
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,437
United_States
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote:
Please forgive me for replying to the initial post despite the fact that the conversation has progressed so far.
Beginnings are good places to return to.
Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote:
I think the distinction is a matter of semantics... [some] consider the phrase "self-defense" to be a bad thing denoting a fear-based mind-set, implying that fear somehow automatically makes an action weaker.
The weakness or strength of the action is not the value measure in view, I think. I also think that (and David or Kevin will surely help me out here if I stray too far) that it is related to the attitude motivating the action (for uke or nage). I cannot rely on my opponent's attitude, but I acknowledge that my attitude has a great deal to do with the success or failure ( better dichotomy, I think) of my action. This natural understanding of the internal importance of motivation I think tempts us to look for the internal motivation in our opponents, because it is so determinative for us. But it is forever beyond our knowledge. And in my view, we tend to supply this vacuum with constructs of our own, and then attribute them to our oppoenent. Sometimes these are accurate, sometimes not, but always dangerous if I assume they reflect his reality, rather than my own.

Picking back up on the Wu-Wei thread of the discussion -- my success in technique is mostly determined by the attitude of allowing uke to act as he wishes, and not by determining his action for him. Uke gets to choose the action -- but if he has not given due consideration to nage -- he does not get to choose the result. nage gets to play too. For good Aikido to happen as nage, my action must assist uke's action -- in ways that he did not yet realize he needed help. .
Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote:
Taking the terms at face value I think Aikido is a great method for learning to protect the self and others. In this sense at least, it seems clear to me it is a self-defense art.
And at face value I do not disagree, but there are things that happen that are not on the face -- there is a ura side to everything, and behiond the face, as I have noted, there is much that must remain forever dark to us but also other things that can be felt if not seen and need to be explored.
Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote:
Even taking the idea that when we practice "Aikido" we are not fighting, I still think "self-defense" fits. I don't see the phrase as denoting conflict, but merely the preservation of self, without which we cannot hope to preserve the quality of life of others. In my mind, this is the bottom line to matters of Budo, which pertains both to love and war at the same time.
Ogenkide! Matt
The shadow of Self is Other. If we preserve Self and ignore the shadow Other, the enemy unseen lurks behind us and will take us when we least expect it. "Other" in classic martial terms may be friends ,family, brotehrs in arms, etc. If we look to preserve both Self and Other, the shadow is lightened and brought more to front. We are willing to risk more, and therefore more likely to prevail if a contest is thrust upon us.

If we adopt O-Senei's paradigm, we are then not dealing with an even an opponent as an enemy -- still an opponent -- but not the dark horror of imagining framed from the knowledge of our own sin and aggression. The weakest human beings can sometimes nurse the most horrible deisres for revenge, and they reflect this in the threats they perceive in others. "Small man syndrome" is known in every culture.

Taking O-Sensei's apporoach makes our Other more human, and less psychologically debilitating in terms of our mental construct of perceived threat. We see more clearly what he is doing and not what we fear he may do.

He may also become more amenable to much smaller techniques in kaeshiwaza, by, say -- the sudden deep bow, and an unexpected apology. "For what?" Uke may be still wondering about as he is put off balance by an unexpected reaction to his hostility. But that is aikido -- good ura waza.

And anyway, I really should apologize in advance for what is about to happen if he does not do proper ukemi to that most gentle form kaeshiwaza, by thanking me and walking away. .

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Last edited by Erick Mead : 04-21-2006 at 07:10 AM.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-21-2006, 11:41 AM   #64
Kevin Leavitt
 
Kevin Leavitt's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido of Northern Virginia
Location: Stuttgart, Baden Wurttemberg
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 4,376
Germany
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Erick wrote:

Quote:
The weakness or strength of the action is not the value measure in view, I think. I also think that (and David or Kevin will surely help me out here if I stray too far) that it is related to the attitude motivating the action (for uke or nage). I cannot rely on my opponent's attitude, but I acknowledge that my attitude has a great deal to do with the success or failure ( better dichotomy, I think) of my action. This natural understanding of the internal importance of motivation I think tempts us to look for the internal motivation in our opponents, because it is so determinative for us. But it is forever beyond our knowledge. And in my view, we tend to supply this vacuum with constructs of our own, and then attribute them to our oppoenent. Sometimes these are accurate, sometimes not, but always dangerous if I assume they reflect his reality, rather than my own.
Actually I agree with this.

I am sort of a Stephen Covey follower, if for no other reason than I can understand his material!

I like the concept of circle of influence and circle of concern. The cricle of influence lay within the circle of concern. I am concerned with things that are greater than what I can influence. I need to know where those circles meet.

I can firstly and rightly influence myself. So, I can choose how a respond to what I am presented with, but I cannot will my opponent into an actions.

However, I can expand my circle of influence through many actions. Increasing my skills, listening, trying to understand my opponent as best as possible. By doing these things I can better influence the choices or courses of action my opponent may take or have available to him.

It is multifaceted. Physical, mental, and spiritual. In some situations I may tap only the physical. My circle of influence my be very, very small. In others it may be big and I can expand it rapidly using empathy etc.

Erick, I like this post and I think you and I are on the same tangent on this!

Have a good day.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-21-2006, 12:02 PM   #65
billybob
 
billybob's Avatar
Dojo: Academy of Warrior Spirit
Location: tampa
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 440
United_States
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Erick:
Quote:
The shadow of Self is Other. If we preserve Self and ignore the shadow Other, the enemy unseen lurks behind us and will take us when we least expect it. "Other" in classic martial terms may be friends ,family, brotehrs in arms, etc. If we look to preserve both Self and Other, the shadow is lightened and brought more to front. We are willing to risk more, and therefore more likely to prevail if a contest is thrust upon us.
Good stuff. preach on!

This speaks directly to my path, that of seeing truly what is before me, and not a shadow from the past. The last sentence reminds me of what we call 'home field advantage' in ball sports, to use pop culture again.

I took a shot to the groin wednesday, Sensei hurt my shoulder shortly thereafter - or did he? I think my whole body tightened around the INJURY which limited my flexibility. If I can be purified - then I can take a shot to the groin, and feel the pain that is there, not horror from the past. If I train this way then aikido is training in something more, not just learning to kick butt.

Did I get it Erick?

dave
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-23-2006, 02:35 PM   #66
Erick Mead
 
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,437
United_States
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
David Knowlton wrote:
I took a shot to the groin wednesday, Sensei hurt my shoulder shortly thereafter - or did he? I think my whole body tightened around the INJURY which limited my flexibility. If I can be purified - then I can take a shot to the groin, and feel the pain that is there, not horror from the past. If I train this way then aikido is training in something more, not just learning to kick butt.
I think you just practically defined Shugyo ( 修行 ) -- which as chance would have it (if chance you call it) was the topic of the the Doka when I logged on today
Quote:
O-Sensei wrote:
Always and always,
Pour yourself into technical training
To face the multitude as if it were one
Is the Way of the Shugyo-sha. ( 修行者 )
修 -- discipline, bearing, conduct, study
行 -- journey, going
者-- person

As a further personal example, we were yesterday doing a demonstration for Earth-Day. (My fourteen year-old son asked, "Is that where all the hippies go?" "Yes," I said, " -- but we are the hippies with swords." A bunch of guys in skirts and we were the most conservatively dessed bunch there. -- But I digress.)

So we are doing our demonstrations outside on this slight grassy incline, on mats, but the ground beneath is not as smooth as it could be. We do some warm ups and then I am doing a straightforward yokomenuchi shihonage, with me as uke.

As nage turned under and into me, ready to cut, and before my turn in had gained better musubi -- my weight suddenly drops into this slight hole under the mat, stopping the turn in, and the technique tightens just as he is cutting me down. No fault of nage either, clean technique, no kaeshiwaza available. He heard/ felt the tendons strumming pa-pa-pop across the elbow joint as I go over -- He about fell over himself apoligizing, but it was nothing he did or could have felt before it just tightened up in the middle.

After ward it was plain that Self-Defense (figuratively or practically) would not work here. Had I tensed, had I treated his technique/attack as something Other than me, had I retreated from the suddenly far more agressive technique, I would have added muscle tension to the added tightening of the unanticipated drop, trying to get mySELF away from IT. If that had happened, my elbow would now be in a sling and for many months.

But in truth, as I later pondered this in light of our ongoing discussion, IT ( the uke-nage complex) was ME at that point (like it or not). Like Schrodinger's cat, I was superposed -- both alive/dead -- elbow snapped/whole in the same moment. There was no Self to defend, or that could be defended. This is the same (albeit vastly lesser, in any sense of scale) revelation of Truth in the whirl of battle that is both exhiliarating and horrific to ordinary sensibilities all at the same time.

The choice in martial shugyo-ho is not presented in a rational form, -- accept or reject the entry offered into an enlarging of Me to include uke/nage without distinction. To accept deeply -- as in the words of the Magnificat -- "Fiat mihi." "Let it be done unto me..." Or to reject the offer.

If rejected, the remaining little-me I would become a stretched/snapped/screaming pitiful thing. If accepted, the bigger-ME could become ukenage -- even more tightly connected (musubi), and a greater whole of ME, -- and BTW -- uke tender but forgving of a little worse for wear, but not a limp screaming mess, nage merely apologetic and not horrified in inflicting gross injury.

Only because of my training (no time to think about anything) did I instinctively relax into the pain and then entered the now HUGE sutemi more deeply than usual (making IT more of ME) rather than flinching away (making IT more Other). That would only have tightened the technique further (like that was possible). Today, the elbow is only slightly sore, like I overdid extension stretching.

Ibuprofen, anyone?? Beer chaser ...

This is some sense of the theme I am exploring as to what being truly "martial" means. It is irrational in its appearance, yes, but there are reasons hidden deeper behind it -- I have some sense that they are there in dim shapes in that very instant, even if my ordinary senses cannot now perceive it.

I have done enough aikido to know this, even if I cannot rationally explain it. And I know it works in truth -- because I have done it. (Catholics -- all join in -- You should have sung it just a week ago -- "Tantum ergo sacramentum ... Pręstet fides supplementum, Sensuum defectui.") It is some part of faith I have learned in Aikido that supplies "the defect of my senses."

I see that dim flash of True Budo in the moment, when it happens. I try later, as now, to dwell upon it, pick elements apart that I can find metaphors to fit that recollection and find ways to order those elements and incorporate that brief revelation into my training...

Cordially,
Erick Mead
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-23-2006, 10:42 PM   #67
mathewjgano
 
mathewjgano's Avatar
Dojo: Tsubaki Kannagara Jinja Aikidojo; Himeji Shodokan Dojo
Location: Renton
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2,099
United_States
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
I also think that (and David or Kevin will surely help me out here if I stray too far) that it is related to the attitude motivating the action (for uke or nage).
Are you saying the term "self-defense" creates a more egocentric intention...a division between the concern of self and the concern for another?

Quote:
And at face value I do not disagree, but there are things that happen that are not on the face -- there is a ura side to everything, and behiond the face, as I have noted, there is much that must remain forever dark to us but also other things that can be felt if not seen and need to be explored.
I think I understand: it's good to consider other layers of meaning which might be affixed to the concept/phrase "self defense." Am I understanding you correctly here?

Quote:
If we adopt O-Senei's paradigm, we are then not dealing with an even an opponent as an enemy -- still an opponent -- but not the dark horror of imagining framed from the knowledge of our own sin and aggression.
Do you mean "opponant" to be a person who stands in literal opposition? It is my "understanding" (if you can call it that ) that if I perform pure Aikido I have no real opposition and thus no literal opponant. I feel as if I'm staring too closely at something and missing the big picture as a result. Sorry for my uncertainty.

Quote:
Taking O-Sensei's apporoach makes our Other more human, and less psychologically debilitating in terms of our mental construct of perceived threat. We see more clearly what he is doing and not what we fear he may do.
I agree completely.

Quote:
And anyway, I really should apologize in advance for what is about to happen if he does not do proper ukemi to that most gentle form kaeshiwaza, by thanking me and walking away.
I rather like that!
Thank you Erick.
Ogenkide,
Matthew

Gambarimashyo!
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-24-2006, 07:37 AM   #68
Erick Mead
 
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,437
United_States
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote:
Are you saying the term "self-defense" creates a more egocentric intention...a division between the concern of self and the concern for another? I think I understand: it's good to consider other layers of meaning which might be affixed to the concept/phrase "self defense." Am I understanding you correctly here?
In part, yes, and in another sense, no. 正勝吾勝 "Masagatsu Agatsu" "True conquest -- self-conquest." "True victory is victory over self." I find that the term "self-defense," and more importantly the attitude that it seems to inculcate in technique is troubling to the sense that O-Sensei gave in his famous phrase. These are no mere word games, but ways to think about how we critically judge and adapt our practice. Verbal metaphors for physical acts, that we can think through after the fact and then find ways to adapt in a reasoned way to the irrational physical arena of practice.
Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote:
Do you mean "opponant" to be a person who stands in literal opposition? It is my "understanding" (if you can call it that ) that if I perform pure Aikido I have no real opposition and thus no literal opponant. I feel as if I'm staring too closely at something and missing the big picture as a result. Sorry for my uncertainty.
I guess what I am saying, taking a cue from those who describe aikido as a physical conversation, is to examine technique in its usages, just as we critically examine words and their roots. To discover what things we have transformed into something we wish them or make them to be, from our unconscious motivations, rather than what they were intended or designed to do by their inventor. By doing this we can find hidden meaning, as well find a way to be both creative and true to the spirit of the techniques

In fact, the whole scheme of words we use in this context (in English) involve interesting psychological reinterpretations or inflations from much more pedestrian roots. I have a deep sense that in words, as in physical technique, our usage tends naturally to seek the conceptual "end-of-the-road" i.e. -- words of conflict are made to seem harder and tougher -- words of comfort are made to seem more soft and inviting. Usage and impact thus shifts from the root meaning of the initial design toward the root meaning of subsequent usage.

The sense of conflict in meaning makes usage in language harsher, as the same sense in technique tends to make technique harsher, a tendency that we aikidoka in principle try to both use in one way, and to avoid in another, like a boat sailing against the wind. People who have only ever rowed boats may laugh at the nonsense idea of using the wind to sail upwind, but it does work, and quite well. It requires weight and depth in the keel, which is never apparent above the waterline. Something else to think about.

When O-Sensei spoke of True Budo -- perhaps this was part of what he was getting at.

Opponent -- L. opponere, from ob + poner = "to put or place against" One Latin sense of the root is to "lean on." One "leans on" friends for support as well as would-be victims as a threat
A good cognate here is "musubi." Uke and nage are natural opponents, which is to say neither has really chosen the roles they are given. By positing uke, one posits nage, and vice versa -- they have inherent connecton in meaning to one another.

Adversary -- "adversus", (past participle of advertere) = "Turning towards"
A fascinating cognate here is the blended sense of irimi/tenkan. Is the turning towards good or bad? Eye of the beholder.

"Enemy" is one usage in which the sense is seemingly preserved intact from Old French -- L. "inimicus" -- in+ amicus = not + friend, However, the Latin "inamicus" can also mean "friendless." Again, which sense are we called to respond to when confronted with an enemy?

Similarly the purely English , "Foe" -- OE "gefa" = foe or "fah" hostile (But "fear" is a closely related word, BTW) A "foe" is only the object of fear.

Back to "Self-Defense" -- Latin "defendere" means to "ward off" and "self-defense" thus carries a sense of "pushing away from me." This sense is deeply antithetical to irimi, the very heart of aikido technique.

Victim/victor from L. "vincere" = "to conquer"
Thus, in O-Sensei's sformula "Masakatsu Agatsu" (正勝吾勝) "True conquest -- self conquest.": one seeks to be both victor and victim -- a sensibility with deep resonance for Christians. "Jihad" primarily speaks of "self-struggle" for Muslims in submitting to the will of God (insh'Allah). This complex of ideas is a common meeting place for them with Buddhists, Shinto, Taoists, Jews and a whole host of other modes of faith. It is a good place to start from in analyzing our practice.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-24-2006, 08:20 AM   #69
MM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,996
United_States
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
We do some warm ups and then I am doing a straightforward yokomenuchi shihonage, with me as uke.

As nage turned under and into me, ready to cut, and before my turn in had gained better musubi -- my weight suddenly drops into this slight hole under the mat, stopping the turn in, and the technique tightens just as he is cutting me down. No fault of nage either, clean technique, no kaeshiwaza available. He heard/ felt the tendons strumming pa-pa-pop across the elbow joint as I go over -- He about fell over himself apoligizing, but it was nothing he did or could have felt before it just tightened up in the middle.

After ward it was plain that Self-Defense (figuratively or practically) would not work here. Had I tensed, had I treated his technique/attack as something Other than me, had I retreated from the suddenly far more agressive technique, I would have added muscle tension to the added tightening of the unanticipated drop, trying to get mySELF away from IT. If that had happened, my elbow would now be in a sling and for many months.

But in truth, as I later pondered this in light of our ongoing discussion, IT ( the uke-nage complex) was ME at that point (like it or not). Like Schrodinger's cat, I was superposed -- both alive/dead -- elbow snapped/whole in the same moment. There was no Self to defend, or that could be defended. This is the same (albeit vastly lesser, in any sense of scale) revelation of Truth in the whirl of battle that is both exhiliarating and horrific to ordinary sensibilities all at the same time.

The choice in martial shugyo-ho is not presented in a rational form, -- accept or reject the entry offered into an enlarging of Me to include uke/nage without distinction. To accept deeply -- as in the words of the Magnificat -- "Fiat mihi." "Let it be done unto me..." Or to reject the offer.

If rejected, the remaining little-me I would become a stretched/snapped/screaming pitiful thing. If accepted, the bigger-ME could become ukenage -- even more tightly connected (musubi), and a greater whole of ME, -- and BTW -- uke tender but forgving of a little worse for wear, but not a limp screaming mess, nage merely apologetic and not horrified in inflicting gross injury.

Only because of my training (no time to think about anything) did I instinctively relax into the pain and then entered the now HUGE sutemi more deeply than usual (making IT more of ME) rather than flinching away (making IT more Other). That would only have tightened the technique further (like that was possible). Today, the elbow is only slightly sore, like I overdid extension stretching.

Ibuprofen, anyone?? Beer chaser ...

This is some sense of the theme I am exploring as to what being truly "martial" means. It is irrational in its appearance, yes, but there are reasons hidden deeper behind it -- I have some sense that they are there in dim shapes in that very instant, even if my ordinary senses cannot now perceive it.

I have done enough aikido to know this, even if I cannot rationally explain it. And I know it works in truth -- because I have done it. (Catholics -- all join in -- You should have sung it just a week ago -- "Tantum ergo sacramentum ... Pręstet fides supplementum, Sensuum defectui.") It is some part of faith I have learned in Aikido that supplies "the defect of my senses."

I see that dim flash of True Budo in the moment, when it happens. I try later, as now, to dwell upon it, pick elements apart that I can find metaphors to fit that recollection and find ways to order those elements and incorporate that brief revelation into my training...

Cordially,
Erick Mead
I have had things like the above happen to me more often than I can recount. Which is why, lately, I have tended to agree with the current thought that the ukemi is where a lot of Aikido learning happens.

The last incident happened as I was uke for a shodan candidate taking the exam. I forget the attack but the techniques were free-style, meaning the attack was set (either shomen, yokomen or tsuki) but the technique could be any at all. So, I attacked and the candidate started to do jujinage. And it was a wonderfully set up jujinage. Except that the candidate let go and backed away in the middle of it. I'm at the point where I'm in near the middle of the fall. Time slowed and my mind saw two options: 1. flail outwards and try to use my arms to catch myself as gravity takes me to the mat or 2. just take the breakfall on my own, or rather, complete the action started. Not that there was any choice in the matter because I was instinctively doing option 2. I just had that slow-time effect to ponder those two choices.

Option 1 would have resulted in injury. Of that i am sure. I know how I was twisted up. I didn't have time to ponder the outcome just the option. Afterwards, I went over what happened and then realized option 1 was very bad. Good thing my ukemi was up to par that day.

But, to touch on Erick's subject. At that point in time where the whole ME did what it was supposed to do, well, if it had been a situation more dire, then I would have come out of it ready to attack or defend or both or whatever. Rather than coming out of it as a bloody heap upon the ground, or worse, dead.

Ukemi isn't just something one practices so one can give a good attack. Ukemi is life/death choices made in micro time-frames. Ukemi is being super sensitive to movements to take advantage of any opening, big or small. Ukemi is creating an opening where there is none. There is much, much more to Ukemi than, okay, I can roll and fall.

Mark
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-24-2006, 09:00 AM   #70
billybob
 
billybob's Avatar
Dojo: Academy of Warrior Spirit
Location: tampa
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 440
United_States
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

My wife the school teacher analyzes people's learning styles so she can better teach them. She hesitated in analyzing me, and said I wouldn't like what she had to say.....what martial artist can resist that?

She told me I was convinced I was intellectual/rational, but I really wasn't. That I could learn from books, and could also learn from listening, but not well. She said I was the 'slow, analytical type, that needed lots of hands on and repetition to learn anything at all'.

Cool. I wanted an honest wife. I got one!

When I think about aikido I don't translate into language. I think visually, and spatially. I feel my body as I visually problem solve. If I can't do a math problem at work, I visualize shapes and then it makes sense.

I don't feel physical training is irrational; it merely defies rational description. That's different. Has anyone else been doing training and had moments where you couldn't tell where attack and attacker ended, and you began?

dave
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-24-2006, 09:33 AM   #71
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,219
United Kingdom
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
Ukemi isn't just something one practices so one can give a good attack. Ukemi is life/death choices made in micro time-frames. Ukemi is being super sensitive to movements to take advantage of any opening, big or small. Ukemi is creating an opening where there is none. There is much, much more to Ukemi than, okay, I can roll and fall.

Mark
Ah, now we are getting to the nub of it, for me early on in my aikido practice, the uke side of practice felt like where the real 'art' of aikido lay.
The only way to be super sensitive to movement is to have a light relaxed contact with the body and no less a contact with the mind. Only then can uke truely 'follow' the movement and find the opening ( if there is one ). Hard, resistant, physicality prevents this sensitivity, which to work at it's best must have 'no contention' and be completely non resistant.

I think this is also where some of the real misunderstanding about aikido comes from, particularly from those watching from the outside. They see a good uke follow a technique and roll out of the throw, it seems like a 'dance' that they are 'just falling over'. Which in a way is true. But co-operative training is the only way to fully feel the 'path of least /no resistance that we strive for. At first it is 'false' but in time with practice the skill of our attacking partner improves and our skill as a defender/blender matches accordingly.
In my experience people who focus on improving their ukemi (not just the rolling) skills, tend to 'get' aikido quicker than those who are looking for the best technique.

regards,
Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-24-2006, 09:42 AM   #72
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,219
United Kingdom
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
David Knowlton wrote:
Has anyone else been doing training and had moments where you couldn't tell where attack and attacker ended, and you began?

dave
The more I practice the more it happens, and not just on a physical level. Recently it has happened on the mental/( spiritual? ) level, it doesn't last for long as it is when I take a full on attack, enter and throw all in one move. At that moment there is no separation, I have felt the mind of the attacker and my own for one brief moment to be in accord. Short but very very sweet

regards,
Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-24-2006, 01:23 PM   #73
Kevin Leavitt
 
Kevin Leavitt's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido of Northern Virginia
Location: Stuttgart, Baden Wurttemberg
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 4,376
Germany
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Interesting you bring that up (no separation). My training partner and I were talking about this somewhat on Saturday. It might be a little different than on the philosophical level as we were going hard at it grappling...but...

We noticed that when we first started training a while ago that when someone was dominate the other was submissive (uke/nage). The dominate guy was always attacking and the submissive guy was always defending. It was pretty cut and dry at that skill level.

We noticed the other day, that we no longer really concern ourselves as much with defense, it just sort of becomes instinctual, relegated the subconscious. So, both of us now are always setting up the next move and attacking even if we are in the defense.

Now that I think about it, I think it all kind of works like this. When we first start we don't understand the basics of kamae. Where to stand, where to move. As we get better, these things become intrinsic. Before long we things slow down, we see more, and we are able to anticipate or respond more appropriately to an attack.

So it would stand to reason, that as we gain experience and skill that these things would come together and we would not consciously know where the beginning and end were!
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-24-2006, 10:23 PM   #74
Erick Mead
 
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,437
United_States
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
Ah, now we are getting to the nub of it, for me early on in my aikido practice, the uke side of practice felt like where the real 'art' of aikido lay.
Many's the time when I am trying to figure out what a student is doing wrong with their technique, I take ukemi for him or her to feel the problem. Then it is usually perfectly apparent. I show the opening to the reversal, that one is then closed (promptly opening two more, usually, from overcompensating) And so it goes. . .

Cordially,
Erick Mead
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-25-2006, 12:18 AM   #75
sullivanw
Dojo: Portland Aikikai
Location: Portland
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 82
United_States
Offline
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Thank you, gentlemen, for creating such an engrossing thread.

-Will
  Reply With Quote

Please visit our sponsor:

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!



Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
"Self Defense Without Offence" Article akiy General 4 01-31-2005 07:16 AM
Poll: How important is the notion of "self defense" in your aikido training? AikiWeb System AikiWeb System 19 01-13-2005 08:45 PM


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:19 AM.



vBulletin Copyright © 2000-2014 Jelsoft Enterprises Limited
----------
Copyright 1997-2014 AikiWeb and its Authors, All Rights Reserved.
----------
For questions and comments about this website:
Send E-mail
plainlaid-picaresque outchasing-protistan explicantia-altarage seaford-stellionate