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Old 05-09-2007, 05:24 PM   #26
senshincenter
 
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Re: spiritual or martial?

I would say this - since we are all stating opinions, realizing the thread-starter, like everyone else, has to make up his own mind:

If your practice is truly spiritual, then you are going to understand the martial. If your practice is truly martial, then you are going to understand the spiritual.

If your aim is to penetrate the mysteries of the human spirit, and you sincerely take this mission to heart, you are not only going to have no problem with martial metaphors, discourses, practices, etc., you are going to see the practical validity, the potency to mature the spirit and to thus transform the self, in all such things. You will in the end be more skeptical of those that claim spiritual cultivation but that show no signs or marks of personal challenge and/or the scars that come with gaining victory over the self, vs. those that speak nothing of the spirit but that battle daily with their fear, their pride, and their ignorance.

If your aim is to penetrate the mastery of combative tactics, if it is not rank, nor title, nor sport, nor friendship, but rather to face the mortality of another with your own mortality, you are not going to have any problem with anyone speaking on the reconciliation of fear, pride, or ignorance, as these things will be at the forefront of whether or not you can or cannot face the mortality of another with your own mortality. The idea that you can just kick ass by learning technique and by conditioning is going to seem delusional - in that it is obviously not of mortal issues. (e.g. please note how many sport fighters need counseling after a bout, vs. how many soldiers of cops need counseling after a life-threatening encounter)

If you take a second look at Erik's post - you can see this all in how a monk and a sword master are talking to each other (writing to each other), and in how Kempis writes. They have no problem blending this supposed dichotomy - nor should we.

dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 05-10-2007, 12:51 AM   #27
Charles Hill
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Re: spiritual or martial?

My understanding is the same as Fred's. When I visited Kameoka and Ayabe 10 years ago, I was told that all members are considered priests.(not monks) To join Omoto, one participates in a two week course in which you learn how to participate in and conduct rituals. Also, I believe that the priests who conduct the Taisai at Iwama every year are Omoto. This, in addition to what Fred wrote, led me to believe that the founder was a lifelong follower.

In response to Larry's post, while all the DO consider themselves to be "spiritual" this is not the same as the Omoto idea that art is the way to understanding of the universe. The idea that one must have a certain level of skill before things become "spiritual" is interesting, but I personally don't know if it follows Omoto doctrine.

Charles
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Old 05-10-2007, 07:09 AM   #28
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: spiritual or martial?

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
although he publicly distanced himself from the Oomoto organization, he himself was a "hidden believer" and Ushitori-no-konjin knew this, which was the important point.

The fact that he re-established relations with Oomoto later in life, despite the opposition of his own students, might support that theory.

Best,

FL
Absolutely... I didn't mean to imply that he had changed his beliefs. His whole way of looking at everything was colored by his Omotokyo training and I think he always considered himself to be a "believer" if you want to call it that. I just meant that he didn't actively participate in the organization affairs as a "member" after the second purge. I've never read anything about how O-Sensei felt about the fact that the religion was crushed so decisively. I would suspect that he felt a bit guilty about being one of the figures close to the center that escaped arrest when the others, including his teacher, did not. Especially since he had basically been the head of their security.

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Old 05-11-2007, 10:53 AM   #29
ChrisMoses
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Re: spiritual or martial?

I just got my copy of Koryu Books' "Katori Shinto-ryu" a re-publication of Otake Ritsuke's long out of print, "Deity and the Sword." I'm only a couple pages in, but thought I would post a couple quotes as I find them relevant to this discussion.

From the forward, written by the current (20th) Soke, Iizasa Shurinosuke Yasusada, "More than five hundred years have passed since Iizasa Choisai Ienao founded Tenhinho-den Katori Shinto-ryu. This art is a wellspring of the Japanese classical martial arts, and it has fathered a sizeable number of other traditions and produced many expert swordsmen. During the era in which the warrior class ruled Japan, our tradition was highly esteemed for providing warriors an essential education in both technical matters and as a form of personal refinement. However, interest in the classical martial arts has declined, particularly since the end of World War II. Today, while the classical martial arts are being made open to the public and their techniques preserved, it is my opinion that the spiritual component-which should form he base of those techniques and give direction to practitioners-is missing." (p.XI, emphasis mine)

Secondly, from the author's Preface, "At the core of the tradition's admonitions is the teaching: "The art of war is the art of peace." The art is structured in accordance with the laws of nature. Training is undertaken to avoid becoming a pawn of, or be drawn into, war, so that one may "live one's whole life peacefully and humanely." " (p.XIII)

TSKSR is kind of the gold standard for budo. It has been passed down for five centuries. These statements sure sound familiar though don't they? I would argue that real Budo (of any style) is a spiritual practice whose only sacrament is shugyo (dedicated/hard training). It's much easier path to talk about the great spiritual lessons, than to train hard enough to actually get them. You don't run the risk of injury or even failure.

Edit: forgot to link to koryu books. http://www.koryu.com/store/katori-shinto-ryu.html Very worthwhile read for any student of budo.

Last edited by ChrisMoses : 05-11-2007 at 10:56 AM.

Chris Moses
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Old 05-11-2007, 11:54 AM   #30
ChrisMoses
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Re: spiritual or martial?

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
"More than five hundred years have passed since Iizasa Choisai Ienao founded Tenhinho-den Katori Shinto-ryu.
There's a typo that I didn't notice until just now, the name of the school is "Tenshinsho-den Katori Shinto-ryu" my left hand took a nasty whack last night, and apparently the "s" finger wasn't working very well... Apologies.

Chris Moses
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Old 05-11-2007, 12:08 PM   #31
Ron Tisdale
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Re: spiritual or martial?

Chris, you do realize how "appropriate" that is...right?

Just got my copy yesterday...haven't done more than drool over it yet...

Best,
Ron (stupid switches...)

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Old 05-11-2007, 12:43 PM   #32
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: spiritual or martial?

This is a quote from chris's post above:

Secondly, from the author's Preface, "At the core of the tradition's admonitions is the teaching: "The art of war is the art of peace." The art is structured in accordance with the laws of nature. Training is undertaken to avoid becoming a pawn of, or be drawn into, war, so that one may "live one's whole life peacefully and humanely." "

This text mirrors O'Sensei's fundamental thesis on Budo. Kinda related to "Aikido is not a method for fighting',no?

Last edited by jennifer paige smith : 05-11-2007 at 12:46 PM.
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Old 05-11-2007, 01:02 PM   #33
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Re: spiritual or martial?

Great post, and quite an apt one at that Christian.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 05-11-2007, 01:12 PM   #34
ChrisMoses
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Re: spiritual or martial?

Quote:
Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post
This text mirrors O'Sensei's fundamental thesis on Budo. Kinda related to "Aikido is not a method for fighting',no?
Actually, I consider it an insight into what OSensei meant. I've seen the local TSKSR group (and know a few of his students) on several occasions under Relnick Sensei and I don't think you could say that what they were doing wasn't a method for fighting. There is a difference between the goals, or why you study something, and the spirit and specifics of how you approach that thing. I believe aikido must be grounded in martial legitimacy and combative intent in order to gain any meaningful insight. If the intent is shifted from shinken shobu, it loses all spirituality, because one is no longer gaining glimpses into any deeper meaning. In my own sword ryuha, I've heard my teachers (particularly in Japan) say, "You must cut with the intent to kill!" during keiko, and then wax poetic about how shinto ryu is not about killing at all, but developing a better person over sake. The art requires the intent to achieve the lesson.

Chris Moses
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Old 05-11-2007, 01:54 PM   #35
Ron Tisdale
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Re: spiritual or martial?

Even when what you are cutting is yourself...Correct??

Best,
Ron

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Old 05-11-2007, 02:00 PM   #36
ChrisMoses
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Re: spiritual or martial?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Even when what you are cutting is yourself...Correct??

Best,
Ron
Can't really comment on that as the "cutting down yourself" is not part of the philosophy of my ryuha. We prefer the pointy end in the other dude.

Chris Moses
TNBBC, "Putting the ME in MEdiocre!"
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Old 05-11-2007, 02:01 PM   #37
Ron Tisdale
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Re: spiritual or martial?

Understood!

Best,
Ron

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Old 05-19-2007, 01:41 PM   #38
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: spiritual or martial?

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
Actually, I consider it an insight into what OSensei meant. I've seen the local TSKSR group (and know a few of his students) on several occasions under Relnick Sensei and I don't think you could say that what they were doing wasn't a method for fighting. There is a difference between the goals, or why you study something, and the spirit and specifics of how you approach that thing. I believe aikido must be grounded in martial legitimacy and combative intent in order to gain any meaningful insight. If the intent is shifted from shinken shobu, it loses all spirituality, because one is no longer gaining glimpses into any deeper meaning. In my own sword ryuha, I've heard my teachers (particularly in Japan) say, "You must cut with the intent to kill!" during keiko, and then wax poetic about how shinto ryu is not about killing at all, but developing a better person over sake. The art requires the intent to achieve the lesson.
I think were describing the same thing in different language
In terms of language mirroring is a variety of insight. I didn't say what we were doing wasn't a method for fighting, but I get your drift. O'Sensei said 'Aikido isn't a method for fighting.' So, intent is absolute and the techniques definitely reveal themselves and we practice in absolute martial structure with the intent to elevate our understanding at the same time as getting underneath 'problems' or fighting conditons. The paradox that is evident here is the paradox of the art.
I've been in a situation when self defense was required and aikido emerged in a 'spiritual' state. That in which the nature of the situation revealed itself to me because of my training and I responded physically. I never had an intent to fight. I definitely dominated that situation with the guidance of a larger presence and those guys, the 4 of them, will never pick on a young woman getting a newspaper again, most likely. Creating Peace. Effective, intentional, well trained, not fighting. That's my experience. The mirror was true. Aikido is complete.
I didn't start Aikido with a notion or trying to prove any of it. I never had mystical language. I have gathered these qualities as a by-product of experience. I couldn't deny it.

Last edited by jennifer paige smith : 05-19-2007 at 01:46 PM.

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Old 05-20-2007, 02:39 AM   #39
Amir Krause
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Re: spiritual or martial?

Great posts above!

I would like to only add one minor issue:

You can try to start from a totally martial point of view and check what happens to your own language and description of your conduct as time progresses.

I "car pool" to practice with a new student. On our way, he often asks me about situations and solutions and I, as the more experienced student (~15 yrs) answer to the best of my ability. Very often, he blames me for giving philosophic answers and referring more to states of mind then to the physical action and I am far from a spiritual person (an engineer by education and nature). Apparently, at some levels, M.A. lends itself to other aspects, regardless of your purpose.

Amir
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Old 05-20-2007, 09:09 AM   #40
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: spiritual or martial?

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
I just got my copy of Koryu Books' "Katori Shinto-ryu" a re-publication of Otake Ritsuke's long out of print, "Deity and the Sword."...Secondly, from the author's Preface, "At the core of the tradition's admonitions is the teaching: "The art of war is the art of peace." The art is structured in accordance with the laws of nature. Training is undertaken to avoid becoming a pawn of, or be drawn into, war, so that one may "live one's whole life peacefully and humanely." " (p.XIII)
I also have the book and note that it is written in Japanese with an English translation. The Japanese is rather more enignatic than the English suggests: "兵法は平法なり": "Heihou wa heihou nari" and the second heihou (平法) is clearly a made-up term, rather like the terms in 「合気は愛気」 "Aiki is aiki".

I am not stating in so many words that the translation is inaccurate. In fact, the balance of the English captures the balance of the Japanese rather well. Rather, it is the best that can be done, given the Japanese pun. No one has mananged "aiki is aiki" yet.

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