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The Point of Aikido
The Point of Aikido
by George S. Ledyard
03-23-2007
The Point of Aikido

I think that there are many reasons people choose to do martial arts but perhaps the predominant one is fear of some sort. If one looks at the biographies of many of the martial geniuses of history, one finds quite a few who were sickly and weak as children or experienced some traumatic incident in the early life. I think that martial training was a way that they strove to be fearless, to lose that sense of vulnerability.

But really, there are two ways that people have chosen to go about this. The most common one is by focusing on power, the ability to defeat any enemy, bear any hardship, be stronger, tougher, better, than any enemy one might be presented with. While not an easy path I believe that it is the easier of the two. It is fundamentally based on papering over ones insecurities with the trappings of power.

One can see this in the endless discussions on-line dealing the martial arts and especially Aikido. Worries about whether Aikido is good on the street abound. Constant reference to mixed martial arts and competition showing that Aikido doesn't "work" can be found. It's all about conflict and competition. And it is fundamentally about "fear".

What is this fear that by doing an art like Aikido we can be beaten by someone doing mixed martial arts? Is this a worry that you live with on a daily basis? There'll you'll be at the grocery store when, suddenly, you are accosted by the local gang of MMA practitioners… Really, I can't honestly say that I know even one person who was ever in a fight with another martial artist on the street.

Constantly focusing on fighting, on beating others using ones skills is, in my opinion, symptomatic of martial power being used to hide from what makes one afraid. It ultimately fails in this as most of the things that make us afraid and make our daily lives so difficult are things which no amount of martial skill, no amount of toughness, no number of victories in competition can help us with.

So your lover tells you she's leaving, your child becomes ill, you get laid off, your business goes broke, you get cancer, the list goes on and on. Does anyone honestly think that being the most accomplished fighter in the country helps with any of these fears? Does anyone, at the moment of being presented with what one most fears, say to themselves, "I should have done mixed martial arts instead of Aikido." Or "Sure glad that I did my kokyu training and no one can throw me…"? This constant preoccupation with strength and power, the focus on prevailing over others is not particularly useful in regular life.

I see rough and tough martial artists who wouldn't hesitate to get on the mat with three attackers trying to hit them with big sticks but who will let their relationship fall apart rather than go to counseling. In counseling they'd have to be vulnerable again. So no one can lock you up? Great! Explain to me how that skill helps you when your 16 year old ADD son is addicted to nicotine and caffeine and his grades are tanking... All of the fighting skill in the world won't help you in the great crisis's of ones life.

Martial arts exist mostly for one reason; to make one a better person. The Japanese understand this perhaps better than anyone else in that they only relatively recently transitioned from a society in which the martial arts provided the tools used by the ruling class, the Bushi. With the Meiji Restoration and the abolishment of the Samurai as a class any real need for traditional martial arts was over. The traditionalists who opposed the guns of peasant converts all died glorious but futile deaths.

So what kept the martial arts going? The leaders of this emerging modern nation realized that there was something which traditional martial arts training provided which simply didn't come with acquisition of the most efficient means of killing ones enemies. Budo training offered something deeper. It developed character, it taught powers of concentration, it developed a warrior spirit, not for the purpose of winning over ones enemies but for winning over ones life.

That is the true purpose of training in the martial arts. Kano Sensei saw this clearly when he created Judo. Shiai, or competition wasn't for the purpose of winning over others but for winning over oneself. Competition was done for mutual benefit so that both practitioners could grow. Awa Kenzo understood this when he promoted what has become modern Kyudo. Morihei Ueshiba clearly intended this to be the purpose of the art which came to be named Aikido.

People seem to understand this when the training is in something clearly archaic like archery or the sword. When did you ever hear any discussion about whether a student of Katori Shinto Ryu could take on someone from BJJ? Or hear a serious suggestion that he might try himself against an attacker with a semi-auto? But when it comes to empty hand, people go right back to fighting. An art like Aikido, which is absolutely one of the most graceful and beautiful martial arts in the world gets compared to mixed martial arts competition which is certainly neither.

The essence of Aikido can be summed up in the term "masakatsu agatsu" or "true victory is self victory".
Physical technique is a means by which we elevate our soul. In common, everyday thinking, the word tenkamuteki (which the Founder used when speaking with me privately during my teens) refers to being "invincible" or being of such incredible strength that you have no contenders. However, (I interpret) the Founder's use of this word "tenkamuteki" to mean that we have no enemies under heaven. If you harbor animosity toward someone, he or she can feel it. By constantly training the techniques of Aikido in the spirit of harmonizing with your partner and extinguishing the animosity in your heart, you will eventually reach a point that you are able to feel within yourself that "enemies" do not exist. The Founder was a person of unparalleled physical strength, yet he became enlightened to this truth. The fact that a person who possessed such tremendous strength as the Founder came to spread such a teaching is really quite magnificent.
Sunadomari Sensei
Aikido Journal Interview Pt 3
O-Sensei said one should go past the whole idea of even having an external enemy… in the words of Pogo , "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Budo training is not about papering over ones fears with skills and power, using ones ability to defeat others to hide from what one doesn't wish to deal with. It is about losing ones fear entirely, healing what causes the fear, converting the energy of that fear to something other than destruction. This is what Aikido is all about.

Someone recently said that Aikido was really just Daito Ryu. They said it with great conviction and authority. But they are wrong, definitively wrong, and maintaining so ignores almost forty years of work done by the Founder after he stopped teaching Daito Ryu. It is true that the principles at work behind Aikido waza are the same as in Daito Ryu. But the techniques themselves are done differently, with different intent. They are not just badly executed Daito Ryu, they were created the way they were for a reason. Just as Kyudo isn't combat archery; Iaido isn't combat sword drawing; Aikido isn't combat empty hand…

Does anyone think that Aikido has spread all over the world because it was a great new fighting style? It would still only exist in obscurity in Japan if that were the point. People have responded to the message, more overseas even than in Japan itself. In spreading so far so fast, it lost some of its Budo aspect and its technique became watered down through lack of understanding on the part of many of the teachers of the art. I have no quarrel with looking outside the art for what it has lost in terms of the technical aspect of the waza. But we do not have to look outside the art for its essence; that is right in front of us.

But so may people seem to be so caught up in who can beat whom, which martial arts are superior, etc that I see a movement to devolve the art into something it was never intended to be. If one is so concerned with fighting, do a fighting style. One cannot have the mind of conflict, the intention to win, the fear of loss, the desire to prevail over another and do Aikido. It simply becomes something else at that point and a not very good version of whatever that would be.

Some form of martial skill is a by product of good Aikido training. But the entire structure of the art is about something different. It doesn't even reflect that concern. Attempts to get it back to some more effective past by changing the essential structure of the way we train will destroy Aikido. The people who propose that we do so simply do not understand what or why we do what we do. I would say that they probably do not have the temperament to even want to do what we do and look at us as folks doing something incomprehensible. To them the question is "Why would anyone want to do that?" To the folks who do understand, the question is "How do we do what we do better." These are not the same at all.
Old 03-23-2007, 08:31 PM   #2
Jorge Garcia
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Ledyard Sensei,
Excellent article! I think that you have helped me tremendously with your statement that the desire to overcome others (what I have called a need for invincibility) is based in human fear. This is a real enlightenment. In our discussions on Aikiweb, I have been unable to convey why I am unconcerned with all the current talk. I just don't feel a need to "make sure" I am in the most unbeatable art and someone saying Aikido isn't won't make me change arts. I have many human fears and doing Aikido has set me toward dealing with those. Especially understanding that my problem is what is inside of me and not an enemy out there. I think we are all somewhere on the road to dealing with our fears. Thank you so much for your help.
Best wishes,
Jorge

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 03-23-2007, 10:20 PM   #3
aikidoc
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Great article. Your insights are right on in my opinion.
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Old 03-24-2007, 03:14 AM   #4
Aristeia
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Nice article. I often think alot of the "contention" between different camps would just evaporate if everyone just realised people training in different arts are likely doing so for quite different reasons. And that's all right. As long as everyone is being honest about what they're doing and why there is no argument to be had. Again, nice article.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 03-24-2007, 07:29 AM   #5
Ron Tisdale
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Re: The Point of Aikido

While I like the article, and respect the author greatly, I think there is still a great deal of misunderstanding why some of us look under the hood. And try to change, enhance, and improve the way we train. It has nothing to do with being better fighters. Oh well, life is full of misunderstandings.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 03-24-2007, 07:48 AM   #6
FiuzA
 
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Mr. Tisdale, but where does Mr. Ledyard criticize that enhancement and improvement that you're talking about?

One thing is saying that Aikido its not meant to fight with some guys "out there" in the street, another is saying that we are not suppose to improve our technique and training (and Mr. Ledyard didnt exactly said this, right?)

Well, probably i misunderstood you

Mr. Ledyard, excellent, excellent article.

Last edited by FiuzA : 03-24-2007 at 07:52 AM.
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Old 03-24-2007, 07:48 AM   #7
statisticool
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Re: The Point of Aikido

One thing I've noticed with MMA-stuff in general, is that the way it is advertised is 100% aggressive and fear-based. I really can't understand why, despite some high level skills, there is such insecurity in that genre.

I think the same thoughts when people claim taijiquan, for example, or other internal-ish martial arts, have 'power generation' as their main goal or their basis. I wonder why they would be about something so (essentially) thuggish as generating power, when the classics and other writing deemphasize the use of power.

I guess people like to 'revert' to power every now and then despite knowing better deep down.

A secret of internal strength?:
"Let your weight from the crotch area BE in his hands."
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Old 03-24-2007, 08:03 AM   #8
gdandscompserv
 
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Ok...I know...I said I was gonna shut up, but George can draw me in every time. Now that's real aikido.

That article was so spot on for me on so many levels. I was physically and emotionally abused as a child. I'm not sure to what degree that drove to towards martial arts, but I've always felt it was significant. I was drawn to them from an early age not really knowing why. Even today I see that not many people are really interested in studying budo and wonder why I am one of the few weirdos.

Training in budo with a caring and compassionate sensei can be highly beneficial to traumatized children and adults. Aikido can truly be practiced by anybody of any age or gender, and through the study of aikido or other another budo, ones life can be enriched. I often think what a lovely world we would live in if we had Iwao Yamaguchi sensei's in every dojo. Even better, a duplex dojo with Yamaguchi sensei on one side and George Ledyard sensei on the other side. And in the barn for all you males, between the ages of 18 and 50??, who like to punch and roll, a "fight club" featuring the always RRrrough and RRrreeaaddy tooo RRuumble, Dan Harden. And who's that over on the grass? Oh that's Mike Sigman teaching that "internal" stuff he does so well, occasionally glaring at me out of the corner of his eye for some sarcastic comment I have made. Yes, I would like that.
Of course it is an odd dream. I'm sure if I shared it with my co-workers they would not understand and in fact would think I was quite completely out of my mind. Wouldn't I rather be in Vegas, or riding quads in the desert, they would ask? No I say, I'm going to an aikido seminar. Huh? How odd they say. They just don't understand.
Of course, who knew.
Not many...Not many at all.
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Old 03-24-2007, 08:33 AM   #9
L. Camejo
 
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Re: The Point of Aikido

I think Ron has a point.

Quote:
I think that martial training was a way that they strove to be fearless, to lose that sense of vulnerability.

But really, there are two ways that people have chosen to go about this. The most common one is by focusing on power, the ability to defeat any enemy, bear any hardship, be stronger, tougher, better, than any enemy one might be presented with. While not an easy path I believe that it is the easier of the two. It is fundamentally based on papering over ones insecurities with the trappings of power.
I agree with the above quote except for one aspect. I don't think that truly training to become stronger, tougher or able to defeat perceived enemies is a "papering over of one's insecurities" in all cases. If that were so then Ueshiba M. would be a prime candidate for this reality. He did start training in Budo to become strong but somewhere along the way his training and his desire to transcend his own fears lead him to discovering the method we call Aikido. The key to avoid staying in the "better fighter" stage is to know that ones ultimate goal is to transcend the need for fighting itself, iow to transcend fear.

I find that it is critically important to first understand the deepest, most primitive nature of oneself if one can ever hope to reach any sort of personal evolutionary pinnacle of non-violence and peace. Imho Budo is about going through the process of dealing with the base, primitive, fear-driven self to truly understand one's nature when at its lowest. It is about forging the total self, to forge something one must face the fire so that the self can be objectively purified (mind, body and soul) and made stronger as a result. It is only then can we truly understand the goal we are trying to achieve by aiming to be exemplars of peace and love in the world. Without War there is no Peace, without Ego no Ego-less self, without Fear no transcendence of Fear etc. Peace, Ego-lessness and transcendence of fear among others have been indicated as higher goals of Aikido as Budo.

A major part of the problems seen in Aikido today regarding "fighting" come from papering over one's insecurities no doubt, but not by seeking to become truly stronger and better as a person by understanding the primitive human elements that drive warfare. Instead this papering over is found when people act as if conflict and banality do not exist in the universe and stick their heads in the sand (denial). This causes folks to create false and artificial structures in the their lives (the dojo included) to maintain "harmony" when in fact this is merely a facade. One of the most genuine forms of harmony one will find is among emotionally mature competitors where honest respect (another tenet of Budo) is engendered through the recognition of another's real and measurable abilities. There is no need for a facade of truth since one has experienced the truth in the other's abilities, no more proof is needed and one can move on to greater things.

This however cannot be said for much of Aikido practice where there is this false sense of harmony which also causes people to submit almost immediately to their baser selves whenever this "harmony" is challenged. Challenge brings honest truth and honest respect through humility. Respect and truth engender harmony (). One can only transcend fear after looking it in the eye and not being taken by it. Avoiding it and refusing to deal with it head on is merely a form of denial. Aikido is the antithesis of denial.

Ueshiba M. did not became an illuminated being suddenly that day in 1925. His illuminations on the true purpose of Budo came as a result of his ongoing war with fear, his true desire to not only be strong over others but primarily over himself (true strength). He realised who the true enemy was and aimed to deal with that directly. But he first had to become strong and understand the true nature of the enemy and this was addressed by his martial training. Omoto Kyo provided the spiritual path for him to move beyond just being a good fighter (external expression of strength) and towards defeating the only true enemy, the ego (internal expression of strength). However he would fail in defeating the true enemy if he had not first met and understood this enemy through his martial training.

I think it quite interesting that although Ueshiba M. had to go through the hard, nasty, gruelling martial forging process of dealing with his own demons to get to where he arrived spiritually, that modern Aikidoka somehow think that they can start at the end where he left off without first gaining the same level of understanding of the true enemy that he had.

Gambatte.
LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
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Old 03-24-2007, 09:00 AM   #10
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
While I like the article, and respect the author greatly, I think there is still a great deal of misunderstanding why some of us look under the hood. And try to change, enhance, and improve the way we train. It has nothing to do with being better fighters. Oh well, life is full of misunderstandings.

Best,
Ron
Ron,
You've read my stuff over the years... I am the FIRST (not literally) one to advocate doing other training to enhance one's skills. You and I were at the Expos, we both continue to seek out training which will make our Aikido better. But, unless I am mistaken, you are an Aikido man to the core. Outside training is to make your Aikido better. The same with me. I continue to get as much exposure as I can from folks who can show me things that will make my Aikido better.

But all along I have appreciated what Aikido has that none of the other arts has. Much of what folks from other arts make fun of in the impractical nature of much of our kihon waza is precisely what sets Aikido aside. It is misogi, it's a form of moving meditation, it's the pure joy of movement. The doing of it changes us in various positive ways. O-Sensei and his son, Kisshomaru understood this. Folks from other arts looking at what we do don't get it. Aikido folks who don't get it, leave and find something more appropriate to their temperaments. But after all these years, we are still here. Lately, after doing all sorts of other training, I have come to increasingly appreciate what Aikido has to offer. It is not in any way a rejection of what we could and should know that some folks from outside can offer. It's just an appreciation that we shouldn't lose what we have that is so unique, just to try and get to something else which will lose the essence of what Aikido is all about. Aikido should be better than it is, improving it will entail some help from outside, but we don't want to lose track of the point as we do this.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 03-24-2007, 09:32 AM   #11
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote: View Post
I think it quite interesting that although Ueshiba M. had to go through the hard, nasty, grueling martial forging process of dealing with his own demons to get to where he arrived spiritually, that modern Aikidoka somehow think that they can start at the end where he left off without first gaining the same level of understanding of the true enemy that he had.

Gambatte.
LC
I am not in disagreement here. I think it funny that I am in danger here of being placed in opposition to the folks that cross train (which I have done and still do, as do my students) and am in danger of being seen as the representatives of some softer, easier Aikido. Any of the folks who know me would find it fairly amusing, I think.

Your post brings up a good question... it has to do with what one needs to do to follow after someone like O-Sensei. It's true that to duplicate his knowledge, which would be pretty much impossible to do completely, one would have to try to do all of the various things he did. That would include the life experiences as well as the training.

O-Sensei's focus changed over the years as his spiritual views changed. There has been quite a lot written about how the aftermath of WWII changed his thinking about things as well. When he started to put the finishing touches in what would be modern Aikido, I think he had certain things in mind. I don't not think that we have to go through everything the Founder did to follow the path he outlined towards the end of his life. If we were required to reinvent the wheel in each generation, we'd never make it.

I think that one of the absolute, fundamental purposes of Budo training is to help people lose their fear. Notice I say lose their fear, not simply overlay them with aggression and pretend they aren't there. Hard training is important in this regard. Many of the fears we have are about physical violence, being hurt, pain, etc. Aikido actually offers a really good way for people to deal with these issues in a way that is designed to be non-injurious. That doesn't mean sucking the life out of the training to make it user friendly. It means taking it right to the edge.

Somehow I seem to have given the impression that I am advocating some sort of Aikido that is in contrast to severe, hard training. I am not at all. I am not questioning in the least the folks who look outside Aikido for things that we are not very good at in our own art; I am constantly doing that myself.

My article was merely trying to point out that we need to stop apologizing for what Aikido lacks. Some of what it lacks, we need to get put back in , no question, but some of what it lacks, it lacks on purpose. I strongly believe that if one looks at everything from a purely utilitarian view of what will work in a fight, what will make me the unbeatable martial artist, then the essence of the practice will be lost and we will be busy devolving our art into its antecedents. We don't need to remake Aikido into Daito Ryu. Daito Ryu still exists and if that is what people want, they can do it. A devolved Aikido wouldn't be good Daito Ryu, it would have ceased to be Aikido.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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Old 03-24-2007, 09:38 AM   #12
tarik
 
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I think that there are many reasons people choose to do martial arts but perhaps the predominant one is fear of some sort.
I agree. Mine was fear of myself and my anger.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Some form of martial skill is a by product of good Aikido training. But the entire structure of the art is about something different. It doesn't even reflect that concern. Attempts to get it back to some more effective past by changing the essential structure of the way we train will destroy Aikido. The people who propose that we do so simply do not understand what or why we do what we do. I would say that they probably do not have the temperament to even want to do what we do and look at us as folks doing something incomprehensible. To them the question is "Why would anyone want to do that?" To the folks who do understand, the question is "How do we do what we do better." These are not the same at all.
This is a 'sticky wicket'. I don't happen to believe that because the structure and goal of our training isn't about martial effectiveness means that we can eliminate martial effectiveness from our training and say we can achieve our separate goals without it.

I don't believe that the internal problems I learn to solve are very relevant if my buttons aren't being pushed and the somewhat arbitrary external standard of 'martial effectiveness ' is one that certainly pushes buttons and exposes personal fears.

If I allow my practice on the mat to become less specific because it makes me or my partners uncomfortable, I am no longer directly facing the issues of "Masakatsu Agatsu". Indeed, I am altering my practice to make it easier and more enjoyable simply because "it isn't my goal to become martially effective" and this change in mental discipline subtly changes the entire meme of my training.

I guess this is fine if you're honest with yourself and your training partners. Don't pretend you practice budo, and don't suggest that self-defense or martial skill will result. Then, at least, the shock one experiences if they are ever tested on the street will be lessened and/or potentially more pleasant if the encounter is successful.

Of course, "on the street" is a nearly meaningless measure anyway and also leads one in a direction I have little interest in. I have seldom been attacked as an adult, even as a bouncer and it's my personal observation that almost everyone I know who has been in frequent altercations really went looking for them.

IMO, martial effectiveness is not the goal, but it is an absolute consequence of my training if my training is correct. It is one standard (among many) that I use to measure my progression.

I do not want cooperative uke's except in the sense that they are helping me to polish myself (nor do I want resistant uke's). Almost all aikido training uses very cooperative uke's and the result is an increase in suki in the techniques as practiced without an awareness of those suki. How does that not impact the integrity of what we study?

If I have to change the essential structure of how we train to achieve that, I will willingly do so. If my partners in aikido find what I'm doing too real, then I will find different partners and we can pleasantly part ways.

I would suggest, however, that it is not the reality of the training that is the sole issue, but the sense of vulnerability that is raises in us. I have one training partner who, deliberately or otherwise, has entirely stopped training with me after the following encounter.

http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/thegr...e/2006_07.html

The irony is that the only person who was hurt in that encounter was me, and yet I was never the person in a truly vulnerable position. Now, I'm not suggesting injury should EVER result, I was pushing boundaries that I perhaps should not, however, if one does not feel as vulnerable in their training as he felt at the end, than one is not pushing their boundaries or practicing in a way that I would call juicy or interesting.

I do understand why many of my training partners and acquaintances train the way they do and I would even say that their goals are similar, but I believe that they wish to make their path easier and that they believe that it's ok to do so because "we're all on the same path" or "we're all climbing the same mountain". I don't believe that. I believe that some of us are climbing different mountains, or perhaps are even on different planets (views being so far apart).

That's ok.. everyone should train the way they want to and that is what I intend to continue doing. If it destroys aikido, then aikido had nothing worth saving. Somehow, though, I doubt aikido is in danger from the way I practice and share my practice. In fact, I suggest the opposite.

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 03-24-2007, 10:41 AM   #13
L. Camejo
 
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I am not in disagreement here. I think it funny that I am in danger here of being placed in opposition to the folks that cross train (which I have done and still do, as do my students) and am in danger of being seen as the representatives of some softer, easier Aikido. Any of the folks who know me would find it fairly amusing, I think.
Hi George,

Actually from speaking with you online over the years I know you are not an advocate of the soft and easy approach to Aikido. I am sorry if I may have indicated that but my post was also geared to those who may have some sense of ambiguity in this area.
Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
O-Sensei's focus changed over the years as his spiritual views changed. There has been quite a lot written about how the aftermath of WWII changed his thinking about things as well. When he started to put the finishing touches in what would be modern Aikido, I think he had certain things in mind. I don't not think that we have to go through everything the Founder did to follow the path he outlined towards the end of his life. If we were required to reinvent the wheel in each generation, we'd never make it.
I agree that we do not need to reinvent the wheel, but at the same time we need to remember that Ueshiba M.'s understanding of life came from his unrelenting pursuit of higher ideals whilst being immersed in expressions of human baseness. Fighting, WWII atrocities and the like were all around Ueshiba M. during his development of something more than mere rote human on human violence. Interestingly enough he chose a very paradoxical means to reach the state of controlling his fears, that of fear-driven martial practice. So I agree that the wheel need not be reinvented but if we at some point do not get to face our deepest fears in Aikido so we can understand who we become when in this state (a way of seeing the usually unseen self) then it would be hard to utilize the sort of insights Ueshiba gained that also assisted him in his own development. I think before one can transcend the self the total self must be known and this includes the truly dark, the truly light and everythign in between. Imho serious martial training helps us to keep the darker side in mind while the philosophy of Aikido and ultimate goals keep us focused on the higher ideals where we want to be in the end, which is not about being a "better fighter" at all. It is quite paradoxical - going through the Yin to find the Yang (or vice versa) and then true balance imho.
Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
I think that one of the absolute, fundamental purposes of Budo training is to help people lose their fear. Notice I say lose their fear, not simply overlay them with aggression and pretend they aren't there. Hard training is important in this regard. Many of the fears we have are about physical violence, being hurt, pain, etc. Aikido actually offers a really good way for people to deal with these issues in a way that is designed to be non-injurious. That doesn't mean sucking the life out of the training to make it user friendly. It means taking it right to the edge.
Absolutely. The question though is how many Aikidoka are truly training this way and really understand the competencies, goals and ideals of the art and how to achieve them.
Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
My article was merely trying to point out that we need to stop apologizing for what Aikido lacks. Some of what it lacks, we need to get put back in , no question, but some of what it lacks, it lacks on purpose. I strongly believe that if one looks at everything from a purely utilitarian view of what will work in a fight, what will make me the unbeatable martial artist, then the essence of the practice will be lost and we will be busy devolving our art into its antecedents. We don't need to remake Aikido into Daito Ryu. Daito Ryu still exists and if that is what people want, they can do it. A devolved Aikido wouldn't be good Daito Ryu, it would have ceased to be Aikido.
You and I are on the same wavelength it seems. Something I have realised with almost every "internal" CMA practitioner that I have come across is a fixation on "ki/chi/internal" abilities in its form of making oneself less vulnerable or being better in a fight. Most of them do not understand what Aikido is about and yet want to give pointers on how to improve Aikido by developing these skills. The folks online here were hardly the first I've seen do this sort of thing. Interestingly however I did come across one Chinese Wushu master who did not believe that chi should be used for these things, in fact he had a goal for the use of chi much like Ueshiba M.'s view for Aikido. This guy in fact left wushu behind (including the money and fame he had in doing it) and started teaching qigong instead. In this I saw that those who want to develop internal skills for combat alone have missed the higher ideal of the training. This is the same as those who only want to learn to fight. If we are fighting there is no Aiki. Transcendence of the need to fight is Aiki imho, which as you rightly said comes from the transcendence of fear.

Good thought provoking thread George, my compliments.

LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
http://www.mushinkan.ca
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Old 03-24-2007, 10:46 AM   #14
gstevens
 
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Great Essay:

I agree with everything in it. As a matter of fact I am trying to set up a trip to Seattle in the near future to train with Ledyard sensei. I may even bring along a couple of friends.

There is definitely a group that starts training with the idea that they are going to keep themselves safe from anything that the world can dish out, by learning a marshal art. For me, no matter what the art, this fails the logic test. (I know O Sensei could dodge bullets cause he could see them coming.... I am not, nor have I met anyone in my reality that could do that).

Yeah occasionally marshal art X helps in a physical confrontation. One of my sempies used it to control his 80+ year old father in law that was suffering from dementia, and tried to punch him in the head. He did it gently, without anger, and without even bruising pops. All in an instant! Was that a marshal situation? (pops was no lightweight).

Every day though I hope that Aikido keeps me from hurting the world. If we all did this, where would the conflict be. Like Ledyard sensei says, when outside of TV land have you heard of two trained marshal artists going at it?

Part of keeping the world safe from me is my getting rid of my violent fantasies. You know the ones, I can take on the whole street full of ninjas that attack when my car breaks down in the bad part of china town kind of thing. Training is for ME, not for THEM, for NOW not WHEN or IF. I don't train in dark alleys while I am in the dojo. (I don't think that I have ever actually been in a dark alley thinking about it.....) I know some of my training partners that do, it is one of the situations that I allow myself to speak to my partner while on the mat, without them asking me a question. "Hi Frank, I am Guy, we are here in the Dojo. I will do my best not to hurt you, are you ok with the level of our training, or do we need to slow down?"

Maybe this is wrong. Maybe I should work on trying to kick everyone's butt in the world..... Wait, I did that once, it was highly frustrating and isolating... Nah..... Oh look time to go to the seminar..... Mary McLain sensei today. I love her posture!!! :-)

Guy
:-)
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Old 03-24-2007, 11:25 AM   #15
Ron Tisdale
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Ron,
You've read my stuff over the years... I am the FIRST (not literally) one to advocate doing other training to enhance one's skills.
Absolutely. One of the reasons that I respect you so much is because you have had excellent students, who cross-trained, and then decided to leave aikido to pursue those arts. And you didn't abuse, discourage, or disconnect from them. You encouraged them instead. It is a rare instructor who incourages his students even when they leave. That is the measure of the aikidoka and instructor you are.

Quote:
You and I were at the Expos, we both continue to seek out training which will make our Aikido better. But, unless I am mistaken, you are an Aikido man to the core. Outside training is to make your Aikido better. The same with me. I continue to get as much exposure as I can from folks who can show me things that will make my Aikido better.
Again, spot on. I won't be leaving aikido any time soon I think.

Quote:
Aikido should be better than it is, improving it will entail some help from outside, but we don't want to lose track of the point as we do this.
I don't think we will. And I also don't think that some of those from outside are expecting that. Mike for instance, speaks of training for health...the power is part of it, but I think a lot of his focus is the health benefits. Dan has a lot of different goals I think...but what I see anyway is a focus on being the best Dan he can be. I take seriously the goals you have stated, and the ones they have conveyed to me. I may be mistaken about them, but that is what I see.

For me:

the body is the bow
the heart/mind is the arrow
the arrow flies straight and true

what of the target?
there is no target
all is one.

Best always,
Ron (just finished an absolutely fantastic class with Garret Fuller...you have some superb guys in the ASU...)

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 03-24-2007, 05:38 PM   #16
DH
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Dan has a lot of different goals I think...but what I see anyway is a focus on being the best Dan he can be. I take seriously the goals you have stated, and the ones they have conveyed to me. I may be mistaken about them, but that is what I see.

Best always,
Ron
To be clear-and Ron you may have missed this-but I have said to everyone but Mark Murray and Rob Liberti"

"Stay in Aikido. As far as I'm concerned, don't even tell anyone you're training with me. Just make yourself better and make Aikido better."

Why?
1. What I can instill in them will, beyond any doubt, create in them a more powerful Aikido, without exception, if they do the work.
2. It's more important WHAT is right...not WHO right.

Why was it different with Mark and Rob?
Sorrintino's "challenge as invitation." Which most of you considered very rude as well as the rude commmentary surrounding it from many, resulted in an agreement. It was agreed to publicly that Mark and Ron were to come "test me" and report back. Ron could not make it so I agreed to Rob. Those two I asked to write back into Aiki-webb
Since that time I have been besieged by Aikido and some Daito ryu people. Two more back to train today. Most of whom don't write.
And all of this is, for my guys. a new and quite unexpected turn of events. One we don't quite know what to do with. Two of my own guys who train MMA with me have quit because of it.To quote them "Call us when you are going to get serious again." Others are enjoying the personalities and the idea that they can actually help others.

More than many- Ron, Tim and Jun know I always, without exception, refused to teach anyone from outside for years. That mindset runs deep in me. I quit a promising position at a public Dojo with no prior notice. My guys are wating for me to do it again! My dojo is called Shugyo Dojo for reason.
Now my "goals" are being discussed? What "goals?" We never -planned- for this to happen. Yakin here never constituted a wish to teach the public. It was just yakin.
Now I am helping some very sincered people-the best I can. But I only have time to help a few.
I charge nothing. I gain little.
I don't even know where this is leading yet.
That's a straight-up from the heart direct answer.
Best
Dan

Last edited by DH : 03-24-2007 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 03-24-2007, 06:25 PM   #17
SeiserL
 
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Re: The Point of Aikido

To make Aikido better.
To make ourselves better.
Not mutually exclusive.
Ahhhh...

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 03-24-2007, 07:08 PM   #18
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
Now I am helping some very sincere people-the best I can. But I only have time to help a few.
I charge nothing. I gain little.
I don't even know where this is leading yet.
That's a straight-up from the heart direct answer.
Best
Dan
None of us know where this is leading. I personally feel a shift going on that may turn into something major. Part of these discussions are simply giving some direction to where we would like things to go. I, for one, would not doubt your sincerity for a moment... you are nothing if not straight forward. We are all going to be mucking around with each other for a while now and it will be interesting to see what comes out of it.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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Old 03-24-2007, 10:36 PM   #19
Jim Sorrentino
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Dan,
Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
To be clear-and Ron you may have missed this-but I have said to everyone but Mark Murray and Rob Liberti"

"Stay in Aikido. As far as I'm concerned, don't even tell anyone you're training with me. Just make yourself better and make Aikido better."

Why?
1. What I can instill in them will, beyond any doubt, create in them a more powerful Aikido, without exception, if they do the work.
2. It's more important WHAT is right...not WHO right.

Why was it different with Mark and Rob?
Sorrintino's "challenge as invitation." Which most of you considered very rude as well as the rude commmentary surrounding it from many, resulted in an agreement. It was agreed to publicly that Mark and Ron were to come "test me" and report back. Ron could not make it so I agreed to Rob. Those two I asked to write back into Aiki-webb
Since that time I have been besieged by Aikido and some Daito ryu people. Two more back to train today. Most of whom don't write.
I have not responded to any of your writings for some time, because it seemed to me that you were more interested in lecturing than in engaging in a dialogue. But I have grown tired of your continued statements on AikiWeb that my invitation to you, almost a year ago, was rude, and that my intent was hostile (and when someone does not even take the time to spell my name correctly, well... ) My open invitation (which still stands) was neither rude nor hostile. It was blunt and skeptical --- two qualities which you seem to admire and espouse. Readers may judge for themselves: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10287.

I believe that you have demonstrated your skills to Rob Liberti, Mark Murray, Ron Tisdale, etc. I have spoken with each of them (and corresponded with others) at length. I do not doubt their testimony. Nevertheless, my invitation to demonstrate and teach, outside your own venue and with a group that you do not select, still stands.

You have often stated that the skills are more important that the particular person teaching them. ("It's more important WHAT is right...not WHO [is] right.") I agree with you. So, apart from Akuzawa/Rob John, Mike Sigman, and you, who do you know of who currently teaches these skills? I'm sure you wouldn't mind if those of us with an interest sought them out as well.

Sincerely,

Jim
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Old 03-25-2007, 12:22 AM   #20
Thomas Campbell
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Quote:
Jim Sorrentino wrote: View Post
[snip] My open invitation (which still stands) was neither rude nor hostile. It was blunt and skeptical --- two qualities which you seem to admire and espouse. Readers may judge for themselves: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10287.

[snip]
"Blunt and skeptical"? Perhaps the initial invitation was. But your post on page three of that thread was rude and hostile. You invite readers to judge. Here it is:

"Greetings All,

I had an interesting experience last weekend that has led me to resurrect this thread: I attended one day of a two-day seminar on Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu with Roy Goldberg-sensei. Goldberg-sensei is a 6th dan and a member/representative of the Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu Kodo Kai. The seminar was hosted by the Kim Studio, a tae kwon do school founded in 1964 by Ki Whang Kim (see http://www.kim-studio.com/). The studio has hosted Goldberg-sensei many times, and on one occasion, has hosted Goldberg-sensei's teacher, Kiyama-sensei.

The day I attended, practice ran from 12:00 to 4:00, with a short break around 2:00. There were about 30 participants, ranging from tae kwon do beginners to seasoned jujutsuka from Virginia, New York, an Massachusetts. Tim Anderson and Steve Kotev also attended, so I wasn't the only aikidoka there. Goldberg-sensei brought one of his students, Gino, who took most of the ukemi.

[snip]

During the course of the afternoon, someone (not me) asked Goldberg-sensei about Dan Harden. Goldberg-sensei's first response was. "If you come to tomorrow's session, you will have spent as many hours on the mat with me as Dan has." And he recommended that when Dan posts on aikido Internet forums, we should ask Dan: 1) what is his rank in Daito Ryu? 2) who gave him that rank? and 3) what is his present relationship to the Kodokai? Dan, if you're out there, I'm asking.

[snip]

Sincerely,

Jim Sorrentino"

That was a set-up of Dan Harden, under the guise of a seminar review. If you're seeking to learn training insights or experience real skill from someone who's worked long and hard and passionately to cultivate them . . . that's just a stupid way to go about it.
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Old 03-25-2007, 04:44 AM   #21
Edwin Neal
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
To make Aikido better.
To make ourselves better.
Not mutually exclusive.
Ahhhh...
i agree with the not mutually exclusive, but i would probably have said "one with the universe", and "baddest ass fighter i can be"... lol

Edwin Neal


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Old 03-25-2007, 07:16 AM   #22
DH
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
None of us know where this is leading. I personally feel a shift going on that may turn into something major. Part of these discussions are simply giving some direction to where we would like things to go. I, for one, would not doubt your sincerity for a moment... you are nothing if not straight forward. We are all going to be mucking around with each other for a while now and it will be interesting to see what comes out of it.
I dunno George. I don't see it changing AIkido much at all. If we can get a small group training their skills will go through the roof no doubt but the time of Takeda and Ueshiba is long past.
I argue on two fronts
Aiki arts-MMA
Old world-NEW
With all their skills-which were truly profound and substantial- in their day the level of attack was not as severe as today. I believe even they could be taken apart by a good MMA fighter today, staying outside picking their shots. More on that in a minute.

So in that light Aikido has a two pronged assault to face.
1.The pressures of the public, now measuring effectiveness on a different level.
2. The pressures of being able to deliver Aiki-with some now openly challenging even that. And whats more- with them being able to deliver with on the spot undisputed surperior-level Aiki skills.

For those teachers who can respond to the challenge it's bound to a plus for themselves and the art. But changing the huge machine that is now become Aikido? With so many "groups" out there? I dunno.......I wouldn't expect anything anytime soon.

While I think the internal skills were always in the Asian arts as a basic-I donl tever thingk they were wide spread. The superior skills are trained by just a few. I suspect it's always been that way.

Again "The Fighting Spirit of Japan."
Judo man astonshed at feeling this for the first time.
"Sensei how many men in Japan know this?"
"Very, very, few. These things are not openly taught."

What's changed?
We still have just a few and now even some of those "few" are incorporating an MMA style of training. So you have the finest skills in the world being combined with the finest training in the world. Its a pretty heady combination of pressures on the arts.

Dan

Last edited by DH : 03-25-2007 at 07:27 AM.
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Old 03-25-2007, 07:43 AM   #23
DH
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Edit ran out
The point I wanted to make in closing
Aikido never existed "outside" of the extent martial arts. Ueshiba proved its superiority over them. I wonder if anyone would like to step up in today's environment and say the same thing.

Now it appears that many choose to "opt out" of martial challenges and "claim" superiority of vision while openly stating they don't care about the martial aspects. I find that to be a different statement altogether from Ueshiba's vision. And I think they can be joined again.
Dan
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Old 03-25-2007, 11:01 AM   #24
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
And I think they can be joined again.
Dan
This was the way I was trained and I am in total agreement with you here.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 03-25-2007, 02:11 PM   #25
Mike Sigman
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Re: The Point of Aikido

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
My article was merely trying to point out that we need to stop apologizing for what Aikido lacks. Some of what it lacks, we need to get put back in , no question, but some of what it lacks, it lacks on purpose.
I'm pretty mechanical (thinking) about this. The ki and kokyu stuff is a given... it belongs in Aikido, just as it belongs in almost all Asian martial arts (the ones that haven't become diluted). The philosophy, violence, ability to "kick butt", and all that other stuff.... I couldn't care less how people choose to do their particular brand of Aikido. But without kokyu/ki powers it is not Aikido, regardless of whether they can kick butt or whether they're doing a love-fest and calling it Aikido.

These skills are the whole essence of Aikido, Taiji, Karate, ju-jitsu, and so on. If someone doesn't have those skills in their Aikido, they don't have to apologize to anyone, but they need to get to work.

If someone does Aikido with those skills, but they don't want to fight or they form some other philosophy, I wouldn't have the vaguest quarrel, as long as they have demonstrable ki/kokyu skills. If they have those core skills their Aikido skills, techniques, etc., are compleat; anything else is their business.

My 2 cents.

Mike
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