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Old 12-05-2001, 09:09 AM   #1
Edward
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Smile Different Schools, One Aikido

I know this thread might cause some controversy, so please forgive me.

In my short experience in Aikido, I have come to believe that, apart from styles with competition, all Aikido styles are essentially the same, with differences so minor and so trivial. Inside Aikikai itself, I have met teachers whose rigidity of style and power exceeds that of Yoshinkan, others whose insisting on weapons practice exceeds that of Iwama-Ryu, and again others who teach such a soft Aikido which is closer to Tai-Chi, or even to dancing, than to Aikido itself. Still all these teachers are affiliated to Aikikai. At my dojo, there are 7 Senseis, and each has his own personal style.

Now I see that there are so many styles with so many different names, which are well organized and have international federations, associations, different grading systems, wear or do not wear hakamas, have colored belts or only white and black, call the same techniques different names…etc. The list is very long.

Regularly, we hear about a new style which separates from an already quite recent one, and again they open associations, federations…etc. But their Aikido is still very, well, Aikido.


In Japanese culture, loyalty to one's master is very important. In the past, when the Lord died, his son replaced him. All the Samurais would swear allegiance to the new Lord, no matter whether he was as good as his father or not. This applies to martial arts as well.

My question is: Are all these new styles necessary? If one teacher has a slightly different style, would it not be more honorable for him to stay loyal to his school, while continuing to teach his slightly different style, rather than separating? Aren't these separations driven mostly by financial reasons or ambition, ego…etc? Is Aikido benefiting from this separation phenomenon?

Please forgive this long dissertation. I hope to hear your opinion. Please be gentle :-)

Yours in Aiki,
Edward
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Old 12-05-2001, 01:09 PM   #2
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My question is: Are all these new styles necessary? If one teacher has a slightly different style, would it not be more honorable for him to stay loyal to his school, while continuing to teach his slightly different style, rather than separating?

Want to avoid embarassing your teacher? Replace:

"I've corrected some of your mistakes!"

with:

"I've created a new style!"

Understand?
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Old 12-05-2001, 03:23 PM   #3
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Re: Different Schools, One Aikido

Quote:
Originally posted by Edward
In my short experience in Aikido, I have come to believe that,apart from styles with competition,all Aikido styles are essentially the same, with differences so minor and so trivial.
grunt
Quote:
In Japanese culture, loyalty to one's master is very important. In the past, when the Lord died, his son replaced him. All the Samurais would swear allegiance to the new Lord, no matter whether he was as good as his father or not. This applies to martial arts as well.
Read some history.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 12-05-2001, 05:45 PM   #4
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Not very gentle.

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Old 12-05-2001, 07:09 PM   #5
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I hope I am not misunderstood by anyone. I do not mean any disrespect to any of the existing schools of Aikido. I would like just to hear your opinion on whether we have already enough styles or not? Do you approve this phenomenon so particular to Aikido?

Peter: I mean that Osensei, and Daito-Ruy before him, having forbidden competition, teachers who wanted to include competition had no other choice than to separate. I am not criticising here. But I see other teachers separating without major reasons, what do you think about that?

Regarding reading history, well, I know what you mean and you're right, but Man is not perfect, and we at Aikido pretend to be people of higher ethics and morality. I am just trying to see if this only exists in Aikido books or not only in there. Do we live up to the reputation (or illusion) we create ourselves?

I said that my question is controversial, I apologize for it. But it is important.
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Old 12-05-2001, 07:18 PM   #6
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/Mark jumps in before anyone/

"... Do we live up to the reputation (or illusion) we create ourselves? ..."

Awesome. Absolutely awesome

Ikkyo is probably the best place to start.
Well, for me, anyway.

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Old 12-05-2001, 07:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by mj
[B
Awesome. Absolutely awesome

[/b]
Glad to be able at least to amuse you :-)
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Old 12-05-2001, 07:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by [Censored]
[B
Want to avoid embarassing your teacher? Replace:

"I've corrected some of your mistakes!"

with:

"I've created a new style!"

Understand? [/b]
There is no right and wrong in Aikido. Each advanced student, according to his height, weight, speed, reflexes, and experience may modify his technique accordingly. Consequently, each of us has his own style ;-)
Coming soon, Edward-Ryu Aikido...
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Old 12-05-2001, 08:28 PM   #9
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Re: Different Schools, One Aikido

Quote:
Originally posted by Edward

My question is: Are all these new styles necessary? If one teacher has a slightly different style, would it not be more honorable for him to stay loyal to his school, while continuing to teach his slightly different style, rather than separating? Aren't these separations driven mostly by financial reasons or ambition, ego…etc? Is Aikido benefiting from this separation phenomenon?


Yours in Aiki,
Edward
Edward,
Necessary, that depends on why the new style. The djo that I attend, my sensei stayed with his sensei for 15+ years, but found he was growing differently in Aikido than his sensei. This is not to say better or anything else, just in a direction far enough from him that sensei felt he needed to make a distinction. Not being Privy to the conversation between him a Muryama Sensei, I can't tell if it was mutually amenable or not. I suspect the split was supported by Muryama Sensei. Because we are each individual, we will each get something different out of everything we do. I find this particularly apparent in Aikido. As you stated, 7 Senseis, 7 styles of teaching.
Some seperations are driven by the previuosly dead horse contreversy, some possibly by greed, and some by thoughts that have progressed far enough from each other that one or both parties felt the need for a split. As for the greed part, when sensei split from Ko-Ki-Kai style, the mat fees went DOWN. Obviously that was not the reason. Granted he may ( i do not know on this) have saved himself association fees and therefore makes a higher percentage now, but he passed a savings on, whether such is the case or not.
I agree that most aikido is relatively the same, but each persons ways are different, that is why I so enjoy practicing at other dojos. The affiliation, to me, simply gives me some idea of what I might expect.
Niadh

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Old 12-05-2001, 09:42 PM   #10
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right on Niahd I like to think of different aikido affiliations as expressions of aikido. aikido is an art and is very personal do you think we would be happy if all music was based on woody guthrie? heck no thats why we have all different music catagories ( BTW woody guthrie isnt the best example.) same with aikido it wasnt really greed ego but more like evolution. aikido is evolving and hopfully always will and still keep the core center. think a lion has cubs the cubs have larger claws than that of the majoraty and starts a new speicies of lions but they still have claws and the core characteristics.

Dallas Adolphsen
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Old 12-05-2001, 09:53 PM   #11
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If it still bears the name aikido then who cares about those couple of words that appear before it, if you like the sensei stay, if its not your cup of tea then move on, that's my nice an simple philosophy, and believe me there are some places I have moved on from, not many aikido but there are some 'karate' places I could tell you about, another time maybe

But I agree with you Edward it is all Aikido.

Last edited by wildaikido : 12-05-2001 at 09:55 PM.

Graham Wild
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Old 12-06-2001, 04:41 AM   #12
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Question Separation?

It's mostly, if not, all politics.
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Old 12-06-2001, 11:02 AM   #13
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Smile

Well, by the current pace, we will have one school per each Aikidoka very soon. Wouldn't that be great?
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Old 12-06-2001, 12:13 PM   #14
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Do you approve this phenomenon so particular to Aikido?

It is not at all particular to Aikido. Look at karate, for example.

There is no right and wrong in Aikido. Each advanced student, according to his height, weight, speed, reflexes, and experience may modify his technique accordingly. Consequently, each of us has his own style ;-)

Sure. For example, after the initial 2 weeks of practice, you have developed your own unique style of Aikido. And that style sucks. But it is not right or wrong, as long as you keep your Aikido out of the real world and vice versa.
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Old 12-06-2001, 12:58 PM   #15
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hey i agree to a point yu are right it is fairly similar as in there is no big significant changes to moves in my opinion but like you i have only been studiing akido a short while but i have cium to understand there a few differences myself i train under a sensi who practises Iwama-Ryu.i can see one difference tho that i consider to be important i cant recall but one of the stlys does not teach the ukemi only break falls.supposidy becasue somone broke their neck doing a back ukemi and so akdio branched off soem dojos attempting to stay with the old stly and others trying to adapt so it caouldnt happen altho i dont really belive this that is what is rumourd.can i jsut say how lucky you are to have 6 sensis was it? u should definatly make the most of there teachings.

HillBilly
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Old 12-06-2001, 07:39 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by [Censored]
Sure. For example, after the initial 2 weeks of practice, you have developed your own unique style of Aikido. And that style sucks. But it is not right or wrong, as long as you keep your Aikido out of the real world and vice versa.
Maybe you're only sarcastic, but you just confirmed my opinion. This is actually what happens. Someone practices 2 weeks with Osensei, and then thinks his Aikido is different and opens an "independent" school.
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Old 12-07-2001, 03:46 AM   #17
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The only constant thing is change,
necessary or not it is bound to happen.

in teaching and learning, it all comes back to the person.
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Old 12-07-2001, 12:10 PM   #18
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This is actually what happens. Someone practices 2 weeks with Osensei, and then thinks his Aikido is different and opens an "independent" school.

If there is no right and wrong in Aikido, how can you object to these independent schools?

If one teacher has a slightly different style, would it not be more honorable for him to stay loyal to his school, while continuing to teach his slightly different style, rather than separating?

No, it would not. But I would like to hear why you think so.

Aren't these separations driven mostly by financial reasons or ambition, ego…etc?

That is an oversimplification.

Is Aikido benefiting from this separation phenomenon?

It's really not a problem.
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Old 12-08-2001, 10:28 AM   #19
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Hi Chris,

I think I will give up defending my point of view. Maybe I am too idealistic. This cause is hopeless. The proof: So many socalled schools which I am sure will keep on multiplying. May I just remind you of 2 qualities essential in Budo: Humility and Loyalty. I guess the lack of these qualities is behind this phenomenon. But as I said, I am probably too idealistic....
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Old 12-08-2001, 04:46 PM   #20
Peter Goldsbury
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Quote:
Originally posted by Edward
Hi Chris,

I think I will give up defending my point of view. Maybe I am too idealistic. This cause is hopeless. The proof: So many socalled schools which I am sure will keep on multiplying. May I just remind you of 2 qualities essential in Budo: Humility and Loyalty. I guess the lack of these qualities is behind this phenomenon. But as I said, I am probably too idealistic....
Edward,

I think it would be inaccurate to characterise all those who break away and form new groups as lacking in humility and loyalty. The problem sometimes is that there is a conflict beween loyalty to the art, as this is honestly perceived, and loyalty to the teacher. I think, for example, that Kenji Tomiki's loyalty to Morihei Ueshiba cannot be doubted, but he also had some convictions about aikido, valid convictions, which the Founder did not share.

Morihei Ueshiba and his successors in the Aikikai did not choose to 'copyright' aikido as a kind of trademark, unlike the leaders of traditional ryuha, such as Shibukawa-ryu (which is practised in this part of Japan). In the sumo world, for example, a successful rekishi can open his own stable, under his own name, and practise and teach hs own 'brand' of sumo, but the stable is still bound with ties of loyalty to his old stable: his stable is still in the same ichimon.

Personally, I do not think that when Morihei Ueshiba established the Aikikai, he had a clear image of the future form of the organisation. Kisshomaru had a clearer image, but even he did not envision such a rapid postwar expansion of aikido. In fact, if we think of the history of bujutsu and budo in Japan, an organisation such as the Aikikai is rare among martial arts which do not rely on competition.

There is a built-in conservatism in the 'ideology' of a martial art like aikido. Form precedes function and the essential tendency to break away from the form: the 'ha' in 'shu-ha-ri', occurs after a lengthy period of training and also usually occurs within the organisational framework of the particular art.

The art also rests on the principle of volutariness and the consent of those who practise it. Because aikido is fundamentally about human relationships, there is also a built-in tendency to change and develop. If this were not so, the art would ossify and become progressively arthritic.

Just a few thoughts on a sunny Sunday morning!

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 12-09-2001, 05:31 AM   #21
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Dr. Goldsbury,

Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts and for the quality and instructive post.

If I understand well your comments, one of the positive aspects of this ramification of styles is the development and evolution of techniques.

I fully agree with you in this respect. Luckily, Aikido dojos are usually open to any visitors coming from different styles, and are not very stingy with information.

However, my convictions regarding the subject of this post are very firm.

Once a Sensei from Scandinavia told me the following: "We are smarter than them (the Japanese), they spend all their life devoted to one master, but we go to learn from any master we choose and learn whatever we think is useful for us".

At that time, I was shocked by these words. I do not believe in learning from only one sensei, in the countrary, we should try to learn from as many as possible. However, I firmly believe that our loyalty should be to one Sensei, the one who introduced us to the art, the one whom we consider "our" Sensei.

I would very much like to know your opinion about this matter.

Many thanks and best regards,
Edward
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Old 12-10-2001, 12:59 PM   #22
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I think I will give up defending my point of view.

Don't "give up". Clarify your understanding, and if your premise or conclusion is faulty, accept the necessary changes.

The proof: So many socalled schools which I am sure will keep on multiplying. May I just remind you of 2 qualities essential in Budo: Humility and Loyalty. I guess the lack of these qualities is behind this phenomenon.

Budo is for ending fights, humility and loyalty are NOT essential.

But, let's pretend for the sake of this discussion, that these qualities are essential. What EXACTLY is your objection to the proliferation of schools and styles? Is this activity necessarily disloyal and lacking in humility? How?
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Old 12-10-2001, 11:41 PM   #23
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Actually, I believe that the sense of loyalty is something very personal. I cannot convince you by arguments to become or not to become loyal. It has to do a lot with the cultural background. In my Mediterranean region, we fortunately share this with the Far-Eastern countries. I think it is an attitude not only in MA, but in every aspect of life, mainly relationship with parents, priests, and teachers (school or university). I believe that in Asia it comes from Confucianism. In the west, loyalty is an empty word. It conveys even a negative meaning. Loyalty is associated with weakness and hypocrisy. In the west, young people are in bad terms with their parents, they never care for them (the state does), there is no respect for teachers (I even read often in newspapers that in the US students shoot at their teachers and other students), there is no hierarchy except for money.
In the East, young people stay with their parents untill an advanced age, sometimes they never leave the parental home, they have a moral and social obligation to take care of the parents when they are old, teachers have strong moral authority, even if most of the time they are penniless... etc.
An Arab thinker said over 1000 years ago, I am indebted for life to any one who teaches me even one word, exact translation even meaning "I would become the slave of such person".
Now what is your attitude towards your teacher? Do you think he has an obligation to teach against the fees that you pay him? Or do you consider that the knowledge he is giving you cannot be valued in terms of money? And that no matter what you do, you cannot repay him?
As for the proliferation of schools, I see that it is not justifiable in as long as these schools are not offering any significant technical novelty. It also goes back to the loyalty problem. I cannot respect a Sensei if he's not loyal to his own teacher, or if he respects a teacher who was not loyal to his own teacher. And so forth.

Anyhow, I think this is just a side-effect from the commercialization of Aikido, and is now unavoidable with the increasing numbers of Aikidokas and the impossibility of controlling their moral and ethical convictions, things that were very important in the past.
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Old 12-11-2001, 03:36 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by Edward
Dr. Goldsbury,

Once a Sensei from Scandinavia told me the following: "We are smarter than them (the Japanese), they spend all their life devoted to one master, but we go to learn from any master we choose and learn whatever we think is useful for us".

At that time, I was shocked by these words. I do not believe in learning from only one sensei, in the countrary, we should try to learn from as many as possible. However, I firmly believe that our loyalty should be to one Sensei, the one who introduced us to the art, the one whom we consider "our" Sensei.

I would very much like to know your opinion about this matter.

Many thanks and best regards,
Edward
Edward,

When I opened this thread and read your last post, I saw that there was not much need to give my opinion. You have said more or less what I would have said.

However, I have a couple of comments.
(a) Even in Japan, loyalty is also subject to the winds of change. One of my students is writing his research thesis on Sakamoto Ryoma. Sakamoto was a typical lower-ranked samurai in the late Tokugawa period, but he changed his loyalties very often, uncomfortably often for his close friends and associates. Or rather, he tested his personal loyalties by reference to a larger concept, that of Japan as a whole (very rare at the time). Sakamoto was instrumental in bringing about the end of the Tokugawa bakufu in 1868.

(b) My experience has been that aikidoists in the US, UK and Holland balance their loyalties with a certain sense of a mutual obligation between student and teacher which is vaguely contractual. I have never found this in Japan.

(c) My understanding about the Aikikai in Sweden is that they had some problems with their resident Japanese instructor and that this had led to a reluctance to keep all their eggs in one basket.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 12-12-2001, 02:52 PM   #25
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Actually, I believe that the sense of loyalty is something very personal. I cannot convince you by arguments to become or not to become loyal.

You don't need to convince me, I am only wondering exactly what the word means to you in this context.

...I believe that in Asia it comes from Confucianism. In the west, loyalty is an empty word. It conveys even a negative meaning. Loyalty is associated with weakness and hypocrisy. In the west...

There are many "Easterners" who reject Confucian thinking to some degree, regardless of its cultural permeation. You put quite a bit of spin on your comparison of loyalty in the east and west, and it is not fair or accurate. I am not offended by it personally, but you may suffer by such a limited understanding.

An Arab thinker said over 1000 years ago, I am indebted for life to any one who teaches me even one word, exact translation even meaning "I would become the slave of such person".

Poetic license. Or are you your teacher's slave? Or are you advocating a return to slavery? This is what many of us in the west could consider a "cult mentality".

Now what is your attitude towards your teacher? Do you think he has an obligation to teach against the fees that you pay him?

Personally, no. Unless I pay first with that understanding, in which case withholding information might fairly be considered theft, fraud, or dishonesty.

Or do you consider that the knowledge he is giving you cannot be valued in terms of money? And that no matter what you do, you cannot repay him?

That model works well, for a perfect teacher and a worthless student. In any other case, you can expect mutual growth. Neither one can repay the other, and neither becomes a slave to the other, literally or figuratively.

As for the proliferation of schools, I see that it is not justifiable in as long as these schools are not offering any significant technical novelty.

How significant is significant? In combat, the difference between life and death may easily be less than an inch.

It also goes back to the loyalty problem. I cannot respect a Sensei if he's not loyal to his own teacher, or if he respects a teacher who was not loyal to his own teacher. And so forth.

Was Ueshiba loyal to Takeda Sokaku? To Onisaburo Deguchi? Not by your definition, I think.

Anyhow, I think this is just a side-effect from the commercialization of Aikido, and is now unavoidable with the increasing numbers of Aikidokas and the impossibility of controlling their moral and ethical convictions, things that were very important in the past.

They were no more important in the past then they are now.
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