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Old 12-13-2006, 07:01 AM   #1
jeff.
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aiki ethics and internal training

(i'm sure this has been covered before, but probably in a thread i've not seen...)

i was thinking about the discussions about whether or not osensei held back some of the internal aspects of his own practice of aikido, particularly post-war. and there's this:

pre-war he seems to have required that any deshi go thru a lengthy, and from what i understand: sometimes rigorous, screening process. attendent to this, it appears that many of the sensei that some folks (mike, etc.) say show internal abilities are primarily pre-war and during-war deshi.

after the war, aikido opened up to the world, and suddenly there seems to be less emphasis on (or at least demonstrations of) internal abilities from the deshi.

over all of this time, osensei seemed to have been increasingly developing his spiritual-ethical emphasis (i.e. it was always there, and seems to have gotten stronger over time).

given that there are some arguments floating around out there that many interal masters are cautious about who they share those abilities with for ethical-moral reasons (as well as others: familial, business, etc. but since osensei had this ethical emphasis, i'll stick to that in his case):

is it possible that osensei was selective (less so, perhaps, pre-war; more so post) about whom he shared that stuff with? (attendent to this of course: it could be possible that some sensei are also selective about sharing what they know, etc.) so, he created an art in which, if practed reasonably well, would develop enough internal strength, but would not necessarily give them the abilities he demonstrated, which he would argue could too easily be used for "evil" purposes. all the while, of course, he argued the ethical-spiritual thrust, and designed the techniques he maintained and created to represent and nurture this thrust.

this would especially be pertinent if this aspect of aiki:

"If an Aikidoist can instantly manipulate or place his kokyu power in such a way that it combines with uke's force and negates it (as part of the start of the technique), it is a very high-level martial art and worth all the hoopla. Since kokyu and its manipulations would be the power behind checks and punches (in relation to timing, etc.), then the "aiki" is still there and the art is still a legitimately superior art." (mike sigman, via inaba sensei, in the "shioda, tohei, and ki things" thread)

represents the incredible, advanced power that mike implies it does. indeed, it would seem this aspect of aiki would represent (and develop?) the ultimate level of ethics / spirituality osensei stressed, and so maybe it was to be reserved for those who showed such ethical and/or spiritual development.

speculation is fun. and it makes sense to me.

alright: poke holes in it!
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Old 12-13-2006, 08:26 AM   #2
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Re: aiki ethics and internal training

I won't poke holes in it Jeff. I thought it was well reasoned.

I will say that the assertion that internal training is probably more important than all other considerations - may not be so. I could make an equally valid argument in favor of zanshin - noticing one's surroundings - certainly it's better to avoid conflict than to have to resort to one's internal power right?

I had some martial training (applied, not 'art') from the U.S. military. All I wanted was to learn basic medicine, but all the time I got taught 'military bearing'. On and on - 'don't talk about patients in the elevator', 'be always aware of how your uniform looks', 'answer questions simply', 'show respect', 'show respect', 'show respect or else'. It turns out that that silly 'military bearing' was key to being a good sailor, and compassionate caregiver. Most people can learn on the job how to drive an ambulance, work an emergency room, etc. But - the aspect my trainers felt most important, judging by emphasis, was military bearing. More important than being able to start an intravenous line, etc. was the ability to be a good servant.

So, do I have to be physically skilled at aikido to be a good aikidoka? Or is it more important that I practice to be a better person?

David
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Old 12-13-2006, 08:44 AM   #3
Ron Tisdale
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Re: aiki ethics and internal training

Quote:
So, do I have to be physically skilled at aikido to be a good aikidoka? Or is it more important that I practice to be a better person?
Maybe they are equally important. I have to wonder why people pre-suppose that one is mutually exclusive of the other...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 12-13-2006, 08:56 AM   #4
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Re: aiki ethics and internal training

Quote:
Jeff Miller wrote:
(i'm sure this has been covered before, but probably in a thread i've not seen...)

i was thinking about the discussions about whether or not osensei held back some of the internal aspects of his own practice of aikido, particularly post-war. and there's this:
Hello Jeff!
I'm not sure it's been covered in its own thread, but I've seen bits and pieces of what you posted covered elsewhere.

Quote:
Jeff Miller wrote:
pre-war he seems to have required that any deshi go thru a lengthy, and from what i understand: sometimes rigorous, screening process. attendent to this, it appears that many of the sensei that some folks (mike, etc.) say show internal abilities are primarily pre-war and during-war deshi.

after the war, aikido opened up to the world, and suddenly there seems to be less emphasis on (or at least demonstrations of) internal abilities from the deshi.
I don't really know a lot. Especially pre-war/war students and how they trained. But, when you get into post war, then you start to get into the period where his son, Kisshomaru, took over. I don't know about most people, but that is not a job I'd ever look forward to accepting. You are following in the footsteps of a martial art giant, you have senior students still around (Tomiki, Shioda, etc), and you are contending with the legacy of a newly developed martial art.

Ueshiba, K. had some very tough decisions and probably a very tough life in regards to Aikido. The decisions he made truly affected the world, although I don't know if he understood the complete ramifications at that time. And the split with Tohei didn't help matters at that time.

Now? I don't know. I would venture to say that what he did was probably the best decision in regards to the future of Aikido. While there were fractures and splits and some schools are far removed from the main, Aikido not only survived but it gained momentum and popularity.

Quote:
Jeff Miller wrote:
over all of this time, osensei seemed to have been increasingly developing his spiritual-ethical emphasis (i.e. it was always there, and seems to have gotten stronger over time).

given that there are some arguments floating around out there that many interal masters are cautious about who they share those abilities with for ethical-moral reasons (as well as others: familial, business, etc. but since osensei had this ethical emphasis, i'll stick to that in his case):

is it possible that osensei was selective (less so, perhaps, pre-war; more so post) about whom he shared that stuff with? (attendent to this of course: it could be possible that some sensei are also selective about sharing what they know, etc.) so, he created an art in which, if practed reasonably well, would develop enough internal strength, but would not necessarily give them the abilities he demonstrated, which he would argue could too easily be used for "evil" purposes. all the while, of course, he argued the ethical-spiritual thrust, and designed the techniques he maintained and created to represent and nurture this thrust.
I think that if one wants to understand the spiritual aspect of Ueshiba and understand the "ethical" or "moral" aspects, one should go to Japan. It's like reading how an apple tastes as opposed to biting into an apple. You can read all the books you want, but that won't give you as much insight into Japanese culture as actually being there. And while one bite won't give you the whole range of what all apples taste like, it can certainly help eliminate a lot of what apples don't taste like.

In other words, American values/definitions for "spiritual", "ethical", "moral", etc are definitely not equally applied to Japanese values/definitions. Until that experience is felt first hand, IMO, one can talk/write/read all day long but not get anywhere close. Course, that's my opinion only.

Mark
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Old 12-13-2006, 09:03 AM   #5
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Re: aiki ethics and internal training

Quote:
David Knowlton wrote:
I will say that the assertion that internal training is probably more important than all other considerations - may not be so.
i think i would tend to agree. in fact, i think that's kind of what i was saying. maybe. er...

well, i think part of my point was that osensei seems to have felt that the ethical-spiritual considerations were most important, and designed the art around that.

and what i find it interesting (as this relates to internal training in aikido) is that many internal practitioners have, historically, felt that internal training could make someone (the wrong someone, by whatever definition of "wrong" that they are using) too powerful. so, maybe that is why osensei gave it a miss as part of his general teaching methodology post-war. figuring that those who could figure it out, or find it where they could, or (maybe he prefered) could steal it from him, were fine to have it. and perhaps he taught it to certain people, along these (guide-)lines.

but the point would be that, ultimately, he felt that the other bits were more important for the general run of aikido-as-an-ethical/spiritual-martial-paradigm.
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Old 12-13-2006, 09:14 AM   #6
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Re: aiki ethics and internal training

hello mark!

west virginia taking over!

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
In other words, American values/definitions for "spiritual", "ethical", "moral", etc are definitely not equally applied to Japanese values/definitions. Until that experience is felt first hand, IMO, one can talk/write/read all day long but not get anywhere close. Course, that's my opinion only.
of course, that's assuming i haven't been to japan.

but even if i have, this line of thought would ultimately end with the fact that as i wasn't born / raised there as a japanese, there are things i would miss. regardless of how long i was there.

but i'm not sure i agree with this line of thought in the main. generalized ethical standards (you know: be nice, try not to kill people, stealing generally a bad idea, etc.) seem to be normative all over the freakin place. its the specifics that are different.

and regardless, it seems that osensei ultimately intended aikido to interact on the world stage, and was himself (by most accounts i can find) at least passively aware of the religious-philosophical traditions and cultures outside of japan. so, while i suppose i agree that the better i understand japanese culture and the historical context of aikido the better i can come to grips with osensei, i don't think its wrong to engage with this stuff from various perspectives.

also: thanks for your insights into kisshomaru doshu's role. i want to think about that some more!

uhg... have to take a final soon.

Last edited by jeff. : 12-13-2006 at 09:16 AM.
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Old 12-13-2006, 09:50 AM   #7
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Re: aiki ethics and internal training

Quote:
Jeff Miller wrote:
hello mark!

west virginia taking over!
LOL! Now that's a scary thought.

Quote:
Jeff Miller wrote:
of course, that's assuming i haven't been to japan.

but even if i have, this line of thought would ultimately end with the fact that as i wasn't born / raised there as a japanese, there are things i would miss. regardless of how long i was there.
I think for this kind of reasoning and conversation, I would definitely defer to Mr. Goldsbury. He actually has the direct experience.

Quote:
Jeff Miller wrote:
but i'm not sure i agree with this line of thought in the main. generalized ethical standards (you know: be nice, try not to kill people, stealing generally a bad idea, etc.) seem to be normative all over the freakin place. its the specifics that are different.
Well, to throw a monkey wrench into your logic. From what I understand (and again, I could be wrong), there is an area in Japanese society where lying would be viewed as okay or not a bad thing. When you apply generalities like not killing, be nice, stealing is bad, then you run into problems with various cultures and especially with subcultures.

Quote:
Jeff Miller wrote:
and regardless, it seems that osensei ultimately intended aikido to interact on the world stage, and was himself (by most accounts i can find) at least passively aware of the religious-philosophical traditions and cultures outside of japan. so, while i suppose i agree that the better i understand japanese culture and the historical context of aikido the better i can come to grips with osensei, i don't think its wrong to engage with this stuff from various perspectives.
And I think that's why we get into so many problems with Aikido. IMO, we really, really can't engage in this stuff unless we understand Japanese culture, traditions, religion, and philosophy. Ueshiba wasn't just religious, he was Omotokyo. Even his students had trouble following his talks and they were born and raised in Japan.

Quote:
Jeff Miller wrote:
also: thanks for your insights into kisshomaru doshu's role. i want to think about that some more!

uhg... have to take a final soon.
There is a lot to Ueshiba, K.'s role and I don't know nearly enough about him. Others have better information. Me, I just plod along and hope that I'm going in a good direction.

Good luck on the final.

Mark
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Old 12-13-2006, 09:59 AM   #8
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Re: aiki ethics and internal training

Ron Tisdale "Quote: (D.Knowlton)
So, do I have to be physically skilled at aikido to be a good aikidoka? Or is it more important that I practice to be a better person?"
Ron:
"Maybe they are equally important. I have to wonder why people pre-suppose that one is mutually exclusive of the other..."
-----------------

Ron, I thought maybe you were being obtuse. Then I thought that maybe you meant the onus was on me - if I'm a good person my aikido will be good. Rather than cursing my father for my limp, and relying on my doctors to heal me - it's up to me. Maybe, if I truly purify myself my body will reflect it.

Very well. It's my own damn fault I limp, and I'm responsible both for being a good person, and being physically good at aikido.

dave

Last edited by billybob : 12-13-2006 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 12-13-2006, 10:20 AM   #9
Ron Tisdale
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Re: aiki ethics and internal training

Hi David,

I wasn't trying to be obtuse...I know people with cerebral palsey who have pretty darn good aikido on the mat...they are also nice folks to hang with, and seem to have the whole spiritual thing down...

I just don't buy the idea that "aiki" is made strong by your behavior ... or that by training in internal skills your "aiki" is at risk...that just doesn't make sense to me. And I think some (not you per se...) in effect are making that arguement...even if they don't understand that that is what they are doing.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 12-13-2006, 10:55 AM   #10
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Re: aiki ethics and internal training

Hi Ron,

you hazed me so damn bad when I showed up on this thing I avoided you for a while! Now I'll wager you are as nice in person as you are tough on the web!

During those hot and heavy discussions someone made reference to OSensei being put off by Tohei Sensei being able to 'be immovable' while hungover. My thought - why shouldn't OSensei have his beliefs challenged too? He said 'for me, let the kami rage'. So be it.

On a less important note I heard that Tohei Sensei liked to drink and tell stories.......damn, I was born too late! (but my Sensei does this pretty well)

dave
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Old 12-13-2006, 10:59 AM   #11
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Re: aiki ethics and internal training

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
LOL! Now that's a scary thought.
haha! scary? i would say more like: appropriate! mwahaha...

excuse me... some of that ol' wv nationalism coming out...

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
Well, to throw a monkey wrench into your logic. From what I understand (and again, I could be wrong), there is an area in Japanese society where lying would be viewed as okay or not a bad thing. When you apply generalities like not killing, be nice, stealing is bad, then you run into problems with various cultures and especially with subcultures.
but getting into specifics like that, its easy to argue that there are sectors of various western, easter, southern, northern, appalachian, etc. societies where the same thing is true. and some sociologists and anthropologists would have a field day arguing whether or not this similarity in specificities is due to similar cultural archetypes or whatnot.

so i think the generalities function in a general way. tho the differences are important, i would maybe argue that osensei would argue for looking at the similarities (remember, this is the guy who believed that the kototama "su" is the "word that is mentioned in the christian bible"), and from there trying to understand how to harmonize (harhar!) the differences.


Quote:
Mark Murray wrote:
And I think that's why we get into so many problems with Aikido. IMO, we really, really can't engage in this stuff unless we understand Japanese culture, traditions, religion, and philosophy. Ueshiba wasn't just religious, he was Omotokyo. Even his students had trouble following his talks and they were born and raised in Japan.
i tend to agree, but its not like one needs to have a phd in japanese studies, with an emphasis on both religion and philosophy (and perhaps an uber-emphasis on forms of shinto mysticism), or something along those lines. heck, i think there is ample evidence that osensei felt his essential point could be basically understood by studying the waza. and while i don't figure he would discourage those of us who choose to delve deeper, it might not be true that, ultimately, this is really necessary for the bulk of aikidoka to understand his basic ethical-spiritual teaching.

that said, obviously i want more. and most folks who stick in aikido for the long haul seem to as well. hence, all of this.

so.... i think its perfectly valid to approach this stuff from where we are, study it and debate it so that we can further our understanding... as long as we respect that there are as many approaches as there are people.

and the final went pretty well. thanks! one more this afternoon, then my worst semester to date is over! whoohoo!
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Old 12-13-2006, 12:22 PM   #12
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Re: aiki ethics and internal training

oops... should be "unnecessary for the bulk of aikidoka to understand....."
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Old 12-13-2006, 01:33 PM   #13
Ron Tisdale
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Re: aiki ethics and internal training

Quote:
David Knowlton wrote:
you hazed me so damn bad when I showed up on this thing I avoided you for a while! Now I'll wager you are as nice in person as you are tough on the web!
I was puzzled by this statement, so I actually went back to see if I could find where I did this...couldn't find it. Would you perhaps have an example?

Best,
Ron

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Old 12-13-2006, 02:49 PM   #14
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Re: aiki ethics and internal training

Ron,

I couldn't find it either! It was lighthearted stuff about not finding the edit button. I do remember thinking you were making fun of black people once and jumped you for it - and endured lots of teasing from others for that little error!

I only mentioned it as something past - I'm a lot less sensitive now. I enjoy your posts, and look forward to meeting you some day.

dave
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Old 12-13-2006, 02:51 PM   #15
Ron Tisdale
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Re: aiki ethics and internal training

Ditto...and man, they must have really kidded you about the black thing! I wish I could remember it just for the fun!

Best,
Ron

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Old 12-13-2006, 03:56 PM   #16
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Talking Re: aiki ethics and internal training

Quote:
David Knowlton wrote:
On a less important note I heard that Tohei Sensei liked to drink and tell stories.......damn, I was born too late! (but my Sensei does this pretty well)
My experience with him tends to confirm this, even though I was too young to drink at the time.

I have a memory for stories, so I remember some of the stories he told in class to this day. Most of them were Amusing Anecdotes. He was making a point with them at the time, but I've long since realized that to get that point, you had to be there.

It kind of amuses me, as well, when I'll be in class and I'll remember one of those anecdotes and realize I just got the point he was making only thirty years later.

But the soda can story still resonates to this day and is apropos this thread in a twisted sort of way.

As for his drinking, well, he did. I don't think he does anymore. My dad is still in touch with people who know him and I gather the situation is rather grim.

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Old 12-13-2006, 03:59 PM   #17
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Re: aiki ethics and internal training

and the world will be less for his loss.

dk
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Old 12-13-2006, 04:57 PM   #18
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Re: aiki ethics and internal training

Quote:
David Knowlton wrote:
and the world will be less for his loss.
Yes it will, but I don't think he's due to die in the immediate future. It's more that his health has suffered considerably. At least one stroke.

I'm just glad I got to train with him when I did. I wish I'd taken the opportunity to go to Japan when I got out of high school. I had the opportunity but felt it was more important to establish myself in my career.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

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Old 12-13-2006, 09:06 PM   #19
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Re: aiki ethics and internal training

I think this whole focus on Ueshiba and what he taught when and what he truly-o.... ooley-o... meant to say, and what X sensei said about Y's approach based on his training 6 years prior to the sun setting to the east of mount Budoo.......is poodo. (courtesy Selbulba-boonta racer -with no ethics whatsoever)

If you just HAVE to focus on Ueshiba then trust in what he did.
Develope internal strength and power. Go down his path. Dare to storm the walls and believe you can gain power. Then decide just what effects it is having on ...you... and where your ethics lie.
There are plenty of guys who train in these things.
I think all is still right in the world.
Dan
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Old 12-14-2006, 08:12 AM   #20
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Re: aiki ethics and internal training

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote:
If you just HAVE to focus on Ueshiba then trust in what he did. Develope internal strength and power. Go down his path. Dare to storm the walls and believe you can gain power. Then decide just what effects it is having on ...you... and where your ethics lie. Dan
I couldn't agree more. Its a difficult philosophical standpoint sometimes though. Making your own mind up about something requires you to weight information you have gained from others (often with the help of personal experience). This is maybe a slow process, but ultimately you can be sure you are going in the right direction.

Alternatively, trusting someone elses judgement can provide rapid progression, but you may miss some fundamental points and you may realise that what you thought you were persuing is different from what you are actually persuing.

Just as David Knowles found out with his military training, sometimes things are done a certain way because thats the best way to do them and it takes a while to understand why. Certainly also with internal training, given the time to develop, trust in the sensei is essential (and can that trust really be justified unless you can see the effects of that training in the sensei teaching you?!)

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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