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Old 07-10-2006, 07:41 AM   #1
gdandscompserv
 
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Different perspectives.

The Japanese perspective on the study of martial arts, is I think, a little different than Americans. I only feel slightly qualified to make this observation because I was fortunate enough to learn some basic Aikido skills from Yamaguchi Sensei in Okinawa. Ten magnificent years on that beautiful island. Anyway, I have recently come to a realization. Because of our cultural differences, Japanese tend to view the study of any martial art with less thought given to its "self defense" characteristics. This is quite natural given that they are rarely victims of any crime, and even rarer, victims of a violent crime. Americans have a much higher rate of violent crime so we are going to view things with that perspective in mind.
Americans ask the question; which martial art works in "street situations.", whereas the Japanese would be less likely to ask that question or consider it much when choosing to study a martial art.
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Old 07-10-2006, 07:58 AM   #2
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Re: Different perspectives.

Quote:
Ricky Wood wrote:
Americans ask the question; which martial art works in "street situations.", whereas the Japanese would be less likely to ask that question or consider it much when choosing to study a martial art.
What would be the reasons or questions that the Japanese would question or consider? What is their perspective of the martial arts as a DO?
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Old 07-10-2006, 08:14 AM   #3
gdandscompserv
 
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Re: Different perspectives.

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
What would be the reasons or questions that the Japanese would question or consider? What is their perspective of the martial arts as a DO?
wow, those are pretty open ended questions David. i suppose their reasons are as varied as ours, just less likely to be influenced by violence.
i really haven't a clue. as far as i know, the question never arose. however my Japanese was very rudimentary so i'm sure i missed many conversations.
what i DO know is that their society is very peaceful in comparison to ours. the reasons for this i do not know.

Peace
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Old 07-10-2006, 08:25 AM   #4
dps
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Re: Different perspectives.

Sorry if my questions were too open ended. I not sure exactly how to phrase my question.

Another possible open ended question, in your experience how many of the people you knew in Japan study martial arts?

Thank You
David
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Old 07-10-2006, 08:46 AM   #5
gdandscompserv
 
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Re: Different perspectives.

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
Sorry if my questions were too open ended. I not sure exactly how to phrase my question.
i'm not sure re-phrasing will help if i don't know the answer.
Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
Another possible open ended question, in your experience how many of the people you knew in Japan study martial arts?

Thank You
David
All of my friends at the dojo did.
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Old 07-10-2006, 09:05 AM   #6
dps
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Re: Different perspectives.

Quote:
Ricky Wood wrote:
i'm not sure re-phrasing will help if i don't know the answer.

All of my friends at the dojo did.
Okay, does that mean you spent ten years in a dojo on Okinawa without stepping foot outside? My hat is off to you, that is real dedication to an art.
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Old 07-10-2006, 09:10 AM   #7
Jorge Garcia
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Re: Different perspectives.

Quote:
Ricky Wood wrote:
The Japanese perspective on the study of martial arts, is I think, a little different than Americans. I only feel slightly qualified to make this observation because I was fortunate enough to learn some basic Aikido skills from Yamaguchi Sensei in Okinawa. Ten magnificent years on that beautiful island. Anyway, I have recently come to a realization. Because of our cultural differences, Japanese tend to view the study of any martial art with less thought given to its "self defense" characteristics. This is quite natural given that they are rarely victims of any crime, and even rarer, victims of a violent crime. Americans have a much higher rate of violent crime so we are going to view things with that perspective in mind.
Americans ask the question; which martial art works in "street situations.", whereas the Japanese would be less likely to ask that question or consider it much when choosing to study a martial art.
I think that Ricky has brought up an interesting point. I have talked to many Japanese that when asked why they got into Aikido, answered with something like, "It was time to do a martial art." My own teacher made a similar statement.
Also, the fact of the safety issue is a big one. A few years ago, I asked a Japanese woman from Tokyo what she thought of Houston once she had been here a few years. She said," You have so much space here compared to Tokyo and it's so dangerous here. I asked her what she meant by that. She responded," In Japan, I can walk home drunk late at night and not be afraid that I will have my purse stolen."
I was surprised when she said that and didn't fully understand the statement because she said it so matter of factly.

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 07-10-2006, 09:12 AM   #8
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Re: Different perspectives.

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
Okay, does that mean you spent ten years in a dojo on Okinawa without stepping foot outside? My hat is off to you, that is real dedication to an art.
why thank you!
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Old 07-10-2006, 12:48 PM   #9
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Re: Different perspectives.

I was always under the impression that martial arts in japan is like hockey, soccer and ball sports in north america.

If you're hungry, keep moving.
If you're tired, keep moving.
If you value you're life, keep moving.

You don't own what you can't defend
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Old 07-10-2006, 02:53 PM   #10
aikidoc
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Re: Different perspectives.

Although crime is present in Japan as well (Yakuza), the lower crime rates in a crowed environment is interesting. Is this a cultural thing based on respect or courtesy or their samurai history? Lessons learned from the war? Perhaps these are lessons we should learn given our likely crowded future. Perhaps the "do" aspect is the key. A way to live based on certain principles expressed through the martial arts.
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Old 07-10-2006, 06:36 PM   #11
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Re: Different perspectives.

Yeah, I think, based on a limited stay here in Japan, that martial arts are more like another kind of sport in that most people do them as an activity, and not as a means of self-defense. They're healthy activities. It's very true that Japan is much more safe in general. I don't know how many times I've heard people say they think America is a dangerous country to live in. I've heard stories where, in Japan, drunken people fall asleep in a gutter only to wake up with a pillow under their head...in America, they're lucky (in some places) to wake up at all. So, bearing this in mind, i think it's a good observation as to why perhaps many Japanese folks view martial arts as a sport-like endeavor.
I do think there are plenty of people who take the "-do" view of the martial arts and dedicate themselves to it pretty extensively. How muc of their lives are changed by it I'm not sure. I do know that kids in school who do some given sport are typically only allowed to do one sport. They train in that sport year 'round. So if they're in the judo club, they're probably only doing judo throughout highschool. So it seems to me it's often engrained deeply that when you do something, you focus on it heavily. Hard to say exactly though as I don't speak Japanese, well, at all really. So it's hard to get a real good sense of things and I have to reply on limited observations.
Take care.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 07-11-2006, 03:57 AM   #12
ian
 
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Re: Different perspectives.

I do see the 'historic' aspect of martial arts as a method to retain lots of techniques which were one time used in combat (esp. things such as tai-chi). Indeed I believe that the conflict within many martial arts is between retaining a broad scope of lots of techniques (which historically and practically I believe it would have been impossible for a single person to perfect to combat level) or having a few practical techniques which are practiced religiously and are very effective. I think pretty much any technique works with enough determination and enough practise.

I think we are lucky in aikido in that the majority of aikijitsu techniques have been simplified into a few practical techniques. However I'd still say that the focus is generally not self-defence (though I try myself to make it as such), and often we do get so tied up in esoteric stuff and not in the practical raelity of just LOTS of practise. I do believe in the early years Ueshiba obviously had self-defence in his mind when developing his own martial arts, not because of the harder style, but because he hadn't yet though of aikido as a martial art of love and because of his childhood.

It makes me think of the chinese guy who only practised one single strike, and for a long time he was unbeatable in competitions (forget his name).

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 07-12-2006, 04:06 AM   #13
Mark Freeman
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Re: Different perspectives.

My limited understanding of one of the differences between japanese/oriental and western culture is that; in the orient people see the collective as more important than the individual. In the west the individual is seen as more important than the collective. This may point in the direction of why japan is 'safer' than the US.

I come from a safe part of a relatively safe country ( you are much more likely to get an unasked for hug than an unprovoked attack ), so far not one of the students I have had have cited self defense as their main reason for practicing aikido. They are much more interested in the 'whole person' development that aikido affords.

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 07-12-2006, 07:36 AM   #14
Alec Corper
 
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Re: Different perspectives.

My limited experience of training in japan has definitely left me with the impression that most Japanese are far less concerned with the self defense aspects than Westerners. That also leads to a simultaneously more relaxed form of training and a greater willingness to practice what is taught without constant interference of the compulsively fear-ridden or macho posturing of "will it work on the streets?" So, yes. I would agree that this concern is far less for the Japanese, but I would add that the national characteristics that gave birth to and sustained the warrior ethos for hundreds of years is still alive and well, in spit of social conditioning and public relations. I have found training in Japan very friendly and easy, but have often felt an underlying seriousness (the aspect of shugyo) which I rarely experience in the West.

If your temper rises withdraw your hand, if your hand rises withdraw your temper.
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Old 07-12-2006, 08:30 AM   #15
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Re: Different perspectives.

I too noticed this sense of a more relaxed training environment. Although Yamaguchi Sensei always pushed one to one's highest level. In other words, you could train as hard as, or as easy as one wanted too. Although Yamaguchi Sensei did like to throw around "BIG" Americans and was quite adept at it! He started me out slow, but progessively pushed me too my limits. It was always such an honor to take ukemi for him.
I also seem to remember a higher porportion of females in the dojo, which was always nice.

Ahh...Shugyo...that's it. Uniquely Japanese.
Shugyo
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Old 07-12-2006, 08:51 AM   #16
Lyle Bogin
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Re: Different perspectives.

There are even differences in martial arts culture here in the old US of A depending on socio-economic conditions. That's why martial arts are so valuable....they remain relevant in many worlds.
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Old 07-12-2006, 09:10 AM   #17
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Re: Different perspectives.

Quote:
Lyle Bogin wrote:
There are even differences in martial arts culture here in the old US of A depending on socio-economic conditions.
i am unaware of the differences "depending on socio-economic conditions."
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