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Old 11-16-2006, 08:36 AM   #1
markwalsh
Dojo: Airenjuku Brighton
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Question Get Real/ On the street

How aikido helps me in real life (tm):

- Keeps me happy.
- Gives me awareness of body.
- Keeps me calm (this saved me from house fire once)
- Helps me communicate with others.
- Increases confidance - so when walking in streets of São Paulo people don't want to mug me.
- Reduces risk of heart attack and helps avoid addictive behaviors
- Provides social network and support.

Next time someone asks if aikido works please refer them here. I value very practical aikido and have fought off some challengers in shiel establishing dojo in Africa, but that's not how aikido really works for me. I have yet to fight off a hoard of Mongolian warriors but respects if you have :-)

How does aikido work for you in your actual non-fantasy real life (tm)? Not the one importnat time you need it for self defence, but the rest of the time.

Keep it real youall,
Ali Mark G


"your trophy is your head" - Saotome Shihan
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Old 11-16-2006, 09:08 AM   #2
SeiserL
 
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

Quote:
Mark Walsh wrote:
How does aikido work for you in your actual non-fantasy real life (tm)?
It works just fine, thank you.

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 11-16-2006, 11:12 AM   #3
markwalsh
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

I would like to clarify that I'm not suggesting anyone's aikido does or doesn't work - only that we might consider a broader definition of "work" and expand the same old conversation that keeps happening online and in bars around the world.

Request is in your life how does it work - such as Dr Seiser discussion on drug rehab.
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Old 11-16-2006, 05:36 PM   #4
Steve Mullen
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

I have found that making form helps you keep loads of room around you at a music festival.

"No matter your pretence, you are what you are and nothing more." - Kenshiro Abbe Shihan
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Old 11-17-2006, 03:12 PM   #5
markwalsh
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

I'm really frustrated that Aiki Web members are more interested in discussing whose dad can hit hows dad, the tiny details of a wrist locks and some bloke called Jeff, than the reality of aikido in theirs lives!!!!! Not saying anyone doesn't have a right to talk about what they like, sure that Jeff is a nice fellow and the wrist lock thing will come in handy for you one day - like getting technical myself some days - but can we move things forward? I think this is why many people leave AW - get sick of same old types conversations.

....Ooops - sorry was taking life/the Internet seriously again - will get on MSN and get heavy dose of sarcasm from a friend back home immediately :-)
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Old 11-17-2006, 10:25 PM   #6
David Orange
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

Quote:
Mark Walsh wrote:
I'm really frustrated that Aiki Web members are more interested in discussing whose dad can hit hows dad, the tiny details of a wrist locks and some bloke called Jeff, than the reality of aikido in theirs lives!!!!!
Well, Mark, for me, it's been the entre to learn French, Japanese and some Chinese language. It's led me to travel, meet people from around the world, learn other cultures, other arts, other views of life. It has led me to experience a wide range of foods and drinks. It has also cost me untold money and career development and maybe my first marriage.

It also led me to one of my favorite mantras: "Overcome fear and regret through meditation. Join in harmony with the universe through the kata."

After I came back from Japan, a friend asked me, "Did you get everything you went for?"

"Yes," I told him. "Everything and less."

Best wishes.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

www.davidorangejr.com
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Old 11-18-2006, 03:15 AM   #7
Mark Uttech
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

Aikido has taught me that 'moving is meditation', which is to say that aikido has become for me, the horse that I am riding through my life. As I get older, I become ever more aware of how my body moves, how I open doors and close them, how I walk without bumping into things, how I react (by turning) when I do bump into things. I remember watching the movement of sparrows on a city street and contemplating whether the movements were omote or ura movements.

In gassho,

Mark
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Old 11-19-2006, 02:25 AM   #8
Al Williams
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

Hi mate.

Aikido is a very practical MA for police work. Forget the locks and pins (yonkyo is very effective when done with handcuffs). The ability to move through large crowds (weapons retention) and reading body laguage (seeing the attack) have helped greatly.

It has always been my belief that good footwork is the key. You can't build a house on a poor foundation. Having balance and awarness are always going to help you on the street, regardless of tech ability. We always highlight the fact that the real dojo is out on the street.

I take enjoyment, calm and fulfillment from Aikido- nothing else compares (well almost nothing)

TRAIN HARD AND OFTEN
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Old 11-21-2006, 01:34 AM   #9
Bronson
 
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

It's helped me to learn from failure.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 11-21-2006, 10:41 AM   #10
Lan Powers
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

Using all the necesary controls in Aikido, controlling your self, controlling the uke, controlling your ukemi, the situation in general...etc. etc. has helped me to be less of the overbearing controlling person I have been at other times in my "real" life.
I am a better person for it.
Lan

Play nice, practice hard, but remember, this is a MARTIAL art!
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Old 11-22-2006, 07:14 AM   #11
DonMagee
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

Quote:
Mark Walsh wrote:
How aikido helps me in real life (tm):

- Keeps me happy.
- Gives me awareness of body.
- Keeps me calm (this saved me from house fire once)
- Helps me communicate with others.
- Increases confidance - so when walking in streets of São Paulo people don't want to mug me.
- Reduces risk of heart attack and helps avoid addictive behaviors
- Provides social network and support.

Next time someone asks if aikido works please refer them here. I value very practical aikido and have fought off some challengers in shiel establishing dojo in Africa, but that's not how aikido really works for me. I have yet to fight off a hoard of Mongolian warriors but respects if you have :-)

How does aikido work for you in your actual non-fantasy real life (tm)? Not the one importnat time you need it for self defence, but the rest of the time.

Keep it real youall,
Ali Mark G


"your trophy is your head" - Saotome Shihan
Just to throw a monkey in the machine. How are any of these things martial?

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 11-23-2006, 05:09 AM   #12
Nick Simpson
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

Theres more to a martial art than it's 'martial' application right?

I'd say:


Quote:
Gives me awareness of body.
Keeps me calm
Increases confidance
Are all blatantly martial.

Quote:
Reduces risk of heart attack
An unfit 'Martial Artist' (god how I hate that term) isnt taking his training seriously (ok, disabilities and illness's aside, dont hang me for saying everyone should be an adonis I'm definately not ) So thats pretty martial to me.

Quote:
Keeps me happy
Happiness is important. If your not happy with your training then you should look somewhere else. If someone is happy with/because of their training, then surely they are being fulfilled by their martial training? Sounds good to me!


Personally Aikido has helped me:

1) Increase my confidence/self belief/self worth.
2) Increase my fitness.
3) Meet many great and interesting people I would never have otherwise met.
4) Find fantastic friends and a partner who likewise I wouldn't have met.
5) Keeps me calm (has been crucial when injured and bleeding heavily).
6) Stopped me drinking myself to death.
7) Ok, this is blatantly martial but: Has so far allowed me to handle myself well (both mentally and physically) in the couple of minor confrontations that have occurred post start of aikido training.
8) Knowing how silly it is to 'fight' and that the best thing to do is avoid it.
9) Made me calmer, happier, more centered, mature.
10 ) Keeps my pride and ego under control (not always mind, but thats the struggle).

Not bad eh?

Last edited by Nick Simpson : 11-23-2006 at 05:11 AM.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 11-23-2006, 05:12 AM   #13
Aran Bright
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

Martial Smarshal.

The most valuable thing aikido has taught me is how to be happy. How to avoid stress. How to win friends and influence people. How to walk with confidence. To enjoy being hit

And in the most practical sense in my work. I am a massage therapist and Aikido helps to (get this) blend with the energy of the person I am working with. In Australia I am the bodywork equivalent of your local mechanic. This is tough work and whilst learning how to use my weight to avoid physical injury is one benefit of Aikido. The greatest thing is being able to not take on other peoples shit err ki.

yes I love Aikido because you learn how to deal with conflict and handle yourself in a fight but if that's all you ever learn then your missing out.


http://brisbaneaikido.com

Brisbane Aikido Republic
Brisbane
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Old 11-23-2006, 12:07 PM   #14
markwalsh
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

Quote:
Just to throw a monkey in the machine. How are any of these things martial?
Monkeys rock

This is a revealing question to me, thanks, and has helped be crystallize a request to the aikido community for a wider definition of what martial is.

First, I want to point out that I've trained primarily with the Chiba/Smith lineage, have been deshi for someone who taught Green Berets, have taken challenges when teaching in Africa and have snapped a few wrists (not proud), so aikivegtable, not fruity here. Also only ten years aikido so not expert opinion.

My understanding now though is that aikido is "martial" in a wider sense in terms of what it defends you against (eg Nicks drinking example). This point has been made before that the most practical aikido technique is ukemi, as most of us are more likely to fall than to fight. (After a few beers both is very possible

The leading causes of death among young people in the UK are suicides and car accidents, amongst all population is heart disease and cancer, and falls register as leading cause of injury for the elderly. Now aikido doesn't make you invincible, but if done with the correct sensibility offers some protection against all four of these things ( IE is anti depressant, calming/focuses attention, reduces weight, provides overall health and can be used to reduce addictive behaviors, improves balance).

Also, as suggested, the crucial factors in a physical confrontations are often not strength, speed or how hard your freaking nikyo is, but mental ones. Of the opinion that those training martial in a limited sense are setting themselves up for fall/punch.

If any one's interested in this type of thing (or just wants to kick my ass, or get drunk and fall over :-) then there's a UK Aiki Extensions event in late Feb - more soon

Back to the tress and the mat,
Mark
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Old 11-24-2006, 11:39 AM   #15
Double M
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

An unfolded paperclip in the hands of a martial artist or someone intent on doing harm becomes a very martial weapon. No? Everything Mark stated, then stated again, is martial. Good post, Mark.

"Diplomacy is the art of saying 'nice doggy' until you find a big stick." - Anon.
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Old 11-24-2006, 01:46 PM   #16
Basia Halliop
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

But if everything is martial, then are yoga and rowing martial arts? How about wilderness camping, or dancing, or music?

Aikido has improved my life in lots of what I would call non-martial ways, though, I can agree with that -- I was reading the question just as a question of what non-martial, non-fighting related ways we had benefited from Aikido. And I also think that a number of the benefits I get from Aikido I actually could have got some other way as well, but I don't see that particularly as a criticism of Aikido. More that nearly all of us probably spend more time talking about the martialness of it than benefiting directly from that, seeing as very few of us are directly engaged in war in our real lives (look up the word martial in a dictionary, I think it's pushing it to describe it as anything that protects you in any way -- you can't just make a word mean whatever you mean. Martial = having to do with war)... And sometimes its nice to acknowledge the other benefits, which for most of us honestly effect us more, even if many of them could have been obtained from some other combination of physical, mental, etc, activities.
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Old 11-24-2006, 02:07 PM   #17
markwalsh
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

Ok, not big on the dictionary school of debate but if I was forced to I would
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Old 11-24-2006, 02:18 PM   #18
markwalsh
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

Oops - cut myself off - e-seppuku!!!

Ok, not big on the dictionary school of debate but if forced to by a particular vicious yonkyo would define martial as "that which defends us from harm." Also that there are levels of immediacy for this, eg street defense more immediate than heart attack defense.

By this definition, the things you mention Basia are indeed martial, but less immediately so. There is a historical dimension of course here too, so could say that was necessary too, if uncomfortable with being in same box as yoga practitioners (recommended

This is nothing new - I believe the samurai classified swimming as a martial art.

Either way I would rather not see another AW thread go down the definitions road but would prefer to refer (say that quick) people, back to the original question if they are willing:

Quote:
"How does aikido work for you in your actual non-fantasy real life (tm)? Not the one important time you need it for self defense, but the rest of the time."
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Old 11-25-2006, 12:15 AM   #19
Double M
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

Balsia, I think "martial" is as much in the eye of the beholder as it is a defined word. I'm not familiar with the practice of yoga or rowing but I am sure there can be something martial about each. I curious as to what you would call "non-martial ways".

"Diplomacy is the art of saying 'nice doggy' until you find a big stick." - Anon.
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Old 11-25-2006, 05:50 AM   #20
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

Quote:
Mark Walsh wrote:
How does aikido work for you in your actual non-fantasy real life (tm)? Not the one importnat time you need it for self defence, but the rest of the time.

Keep it real youall,
Ali Mark G


"your trophy is your head" - Saotome Shihan
Hello Mark,

I am not sure that it does, in the sense that it is hard to distinguish specifically aikido elements from all the other elements that have contributed to make me the person I am now.

Until I came to Japan, the bulk of my own training, also, was from the Chiba lineage, with Minoru Kanetsuka providing the most intense input (before his cancer). But a small but intensely dedicated group trained so often and constantly at Ryushinkan, that we never considered how to apply it outside the dojo except in a strictly martial context ('what would you do if you were attacked in such and such a way?'...) and that was the only time that I have ever used aikido outside the dojo to deal with physical attacks.

My time in the US made me aware of what I would call a Puritan/Calvinistic interpretation of aikido, namely, that the benefits of training in the dojo should be tangible (and pretty immediate) outside the dojo in the way you deal with people. We did not think in this way in the UK when I first started and we virtually never think in this way in Japan now. At least this is how I understand your question (in the context of the other discussion on NVC).

At the moment we have a very good group of Japanese members, from students to dan holders (who come to train because we emphasize certain aspects that other dojos here seem to take for granted). These Japanese members have largely got over the shock of learning a Japanese martial art in Japan from foreigners and I suspect that one advantage for them is that they are learning a whole new way of looking at foreigners. And having to teach aikido to Japanese students in their own language is a major challenge for me.

I will be 63 next birthday and so one very important way that aikido works for me is that it enables me to grow old gracefully. I have to teach ukemi to my beginners and I have to do it properly, which means teaching 20-year olds how to realize the physical potential they have at their age. A kind of reverse side of of the coin is that I have seen too many high-ranking Japanese shihans, now no longer with us, whose aikido had precisely zero effect on their lifestyles. In this respect Minoru Kanetsuka (post cancer) is an awesome figure.

So, Mark, I am not saying that you are wrong to seek real tangible effects of aikido training in the way that people relate to other people. I think this is one way in which non-Japanese can make an important contribution to the heritage of aikido, for I believe it is something that (always in my highly subjective experience) that the aikido world in Japan has not considered. However, aikido is in some sense trans-cultural, but the frames and metaphors in which it is presented have to be quite sophisticated, to avoid, for example, the conclusion that if you cannot apply your aikido training outside the dojo in a tangible way, then there is something wrong with your training.

Moreover, and this is not really connected with aikido outside the dojo, just watching one session with Akuzawa-Sensei and Robert John (and, of course, reading the contributions of people like Mike Sigman, Dan Harden and also David Orange in various forums) has forced me to go right back and question all the fundamentals: what O Sensei actually knew and if and how it was transmitted.

So for me the issue at this moment in my life is not so much how I apply aikido outside the dojo, since I do not believe that the benefits can be quantified and 'applied' so easily, but how I actually do it inside the dojo. It is a major challenge to tear down and rebuild training habits formed over 30-odd years. But, and I am not in any way being condescending, I think you need to train longer to realize the full import of what I am saying here. I once asked Chiba Sensei, 'How can you be so sure that you yourself possess the truth about aikido?' I do not think he had ever been asked the question and he needed to take a deep breath before he tried to answer it.

So I would like to add a note of caution to the discussion. It is too easy for aikido people to settle into a position of 'comfortable mediocrity' (a phrase I first encountered in the Jesuits) and assume that their training is fine (they have a really great Sensei) and focus on how to apply the lessons outside the dojo.

Finally, Mark, I see that you are presently in Brazil, where there is a large and thriving aikido population. Have you considered going to Iraq or Iran? As IAF Chairman, I am often asked to give support to aikido groups in these two countries. Lebanon became an IAF member at the last congress, but it is very difficult for them to have a secure and relaxed training environment. So for aikidoists in Lebanon, the art is probably a means to help surviving from day to day. My predecessor, Giorgio Veneri, played a major role in spreading aikido in Eastern Europe and Russia. I myself am more aware of the need to look after Muslim countries in East Asia and also the Middle East.

Best wishes,

Last edited by akiy : 11-27-2006 at 10:07 AM.

P A Goldsbury
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Old 11-25-2006, 06:05 AM   #21
Hanna B
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

Quote:
Mark Walsh wrote:
How does aikido work for you in your actual non-fantasy real life (tm)? Not the one importnat time you need it for self defence, but the rest of the time.
I never expected aikido to "work" in my daily life. However, aikido taught me that I could actually learn physical stuff and become somewhat good at it - something I never believed. Every time I try something physical and find I do not at all have difficulties in picking it up (dancing, canoeing, etc) I know I have my ten years of aikido to thank for that.

I do believe I am the same person now as when I quit training, so obviously the training in itself has not done any great difference to my personality.
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Old 11-27-2006, 10:34 AM   #22
Basia Halliop
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

Quote:
Basia, I think "martial" is as much in the eye of the beholder as it is a defined word.
Perhaps there's just a different meaning in some Aikido (or martial arts in general) circles than the regular meaning in the wider world? I know sometimes that's the case with some words. Martial is an adjective relating to war and military... We don't have another handy adjective form of the word 'war' that I can think of, 'martial' (from the ancient god Mars, the god of war) is probably the most commonly used adjective form of 'war,' (after 'military' as an adjective). I have never seen the word used any other way in any source, any book, any conversation, any dictionary, etc, other than on this website. It's an adjective used to talk about war, soldiers, military, battle between groups, etc...

I suppose over time words do develop special definitions, though, especially within specific groups. And I guess they can be used in new metaphorical ways and stuff... It just seems like what people really mean is 'self-protection' or 'growth' or other things, in which case why not just say that instead of borrowing another word that doesn't really fit as well? But as I say, maybe there is actually an understood wider meaning of the word that I'm just not familiar with.

I don't think everything valuable about a martial art is actuallly _directly_ due to it's 'martialness', though... Which I thought was the point of this thread! Many things we do in our lives benefit us in much wider ways then you might see from a simple description of what we're doing.

Last edited by Basia Halliop : 11-27-2006 at 10:36 AM.
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Old 11-27-2006, 11:09 AM   #23
Fred Little
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

Quote:
Basia Halliop wrote:
....are yoga and rowing martial arts? How about wilderness camping, or dancing, or music?
Yoga has been a great aid to me in addressing and moving beyond injury and getting back on the mat. So yes, in the same way that a military hospital is, by definition, martial.

I can only imagine what would have happened at Trenton if General Washington's troops had insisted that they were soldiers, not oarsmen. Quite aside from that, rowing has other benefits which are immediately applicable to building the kind of body necessary for effective martial arts practice.

Most of my foundation of knowledge relating to knives, hatchets, saws, machetes, and related edged tools comes from Boy Scout training for wilderness camping, as does my knowledge of which woods make good kindling and which produce a solid bed of slow-burning coals.

Dancing? Ask Emmet Smith or Hector Camacho. Me? I can only dream of that level of skill on the dance floor.

Music? A major part of FBI/ATF psyops at the Branch Davidian Compound, during the US invasion of Panama, and more recently, in the US invasion of Iraq.

My .02 anyway.

FL
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Old 11-27-2006, 12:41 PM   #24
Basia Halliop
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

Quote:
to building the kind of body necessary for effective martial arts practice
Right, good exercise and building muscles and coordination, etc, makes people better able to _then_ get out and go practice martial arts better.... But really, what doesn't? Why bother even using the word martial if it means everything from tennis (good exercise, coordination) to painting (meditation, hones observational skills, make propaganda posters)? It's like 'academic' -- when we say we're doing 'academic exercises', it's sort of understood that we aren't saying we're currently asleep after eating a nutritious meal, even though those are needed for future good academic performance. I don't care that much about the word, it just seems like a kind of pointless word if the definition is so wide it means just about everything in the world...

Why bother even having words if any word means everything?

Although you've got me on warships -- of course many throughout history were oardriven!! Propaganda and military music specifically, yes they do have martial applications, but the study of war propaganda and the psychology used is I would hope a pretty narrow subset of all art study (and probably you'd find a lot of artists who said it was fundamentally unartistic or something).

Does everything we do in life have value only based on it's martial usefulness? I find that pretty depressing.

Last edited by Basia Halliop : 11-27-2006 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 11-27-2006, 02:11 PM   #25
DonMagee
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Re: Get Real/ On the street

Quote:
Basia Halliop wrote:

Does everything we do in life have value only based on it's martial usefulness? I find that pretty depressing.
Only if you prefix it with the word martial.

If you said I do martial nose picking, then I would want to know what you consider martial about it. If you said you did aiki noise picking, I'd want to know what was aiki about it. We claim to do martial arts, we should be aware of what is still relevant martially in our art. If our art is about defenses against ancient attacks that never happen anymore, then is it truly still martial? or is it a historical martial art.

I"m not making claims to it's martialness (is that a word?) . I am simply challenging others to think about the meaning to them. I make the same challenge to judo and bjj guys. It's about exploring why you train, and why we call it martial arts.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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