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Old 05-08-2008, 05:47 PM   #26
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
There are other principles we leave to the side. Stealth, suprise, audacity, speed, power etc.
Ok, the elements quoted above are part of our basic practices during every class.... no wonder some ppl tell me I'm not doing Aikido.

But then there are those who say it's been a very long time since they've seen that kind of Aikido. So maybe it is. Oh well.

--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 05-08-2008, 07:53 PM   #27
Ketsan
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
how beautiful it looks to see a 64 year old tiny woman throw a really big man even if it wouldn't work on the street.
Are you sure the tiny old woman is really throwing the big man? I'm inclined to think if she is throwing the man then she can do it in the street. If she isn't, on the other hand, what has she learned?
She hasn't learned conflict resolution because she hasn't dealt with real conflict.

I think a lot of people, myself included, wonder at the idea of an art of throwing where the point isn't to throw and it may even be questionable if any throwing is taking place. Clearly then it isn't an art of throwing.

Surely in that case what you have is at best moving meditation, you don't even have a requirement for it to be technically correct because the movements are functionless, they're not even like tai chi movements which supposedly move chi around the body.

In which case we can get rid of the bulk of the infrastructure, you only need a tai chi like system, either you're qualified to teach the form or you are not. You don't need the principles underpinning the techniques because you have no intention to defend yourself with them.
Fukushidoin, shidoin and shihan are pointless, their years of experience have nothing to say because, again, the movements they've spent decades perfecting have no more functional value than those of a beginner.

The big question for me here is "Where is the martial?" Where is the "Bu" in Budo. Surely if we're not worrying about effectiveness all we are is meditators or dancers dressed up and following the affectations of martial artists.

Just as important, what are we as an art offering people? Nothing honest that's for sure. Will shiho nage save you from being an asshole? No. Will irimi nage put you in touch with your true self? No.
Only a person who comes to the art with those kinds of intentions will reach those kind of goals and to be fair if you have those intentions doing the washing up (Zen abbot to a monk: "Go wash your bowl") is probably going to get you just as far as practicing a martial art.

For me the beauty of Aikido is dependent on its effectiveness. Aikido training is brutally honest if you're doing it properly. Either your technique unbalances uke or it does not, there's no where for your ego to hide.
Aikido is a path of pure brutality in that respect. If you want to really do it you have to put up with disappointment, with criticism, with boredom, with being told for the umpteenth time by your uke that you haven't unbalanced them. Then there's the pain, the fear of injury and the exhaustion.
Training is not fun, training is being dragged across a washboard backwards because that's the only path to get where you want to go. Anyone that actually likes training is masochist.

But therein lies the beauty. The path is so damn difficult that in order to walk it you have to ditch all of your dead weight and you have to come to terms with yourself, you have to deal with the pain, you have to find something inside yourself that gets you up off the mat and drives you to basically get slammed into the mat again, you have to develop patience with yourself and with others because if you don't you wont be in the dojo very long.

All this, I find, builds a kind of camaraderie you seldom find anywhere else and you can't bullshit the people you train with, you have to be honest with them, you learn to deal with conflicts with these people in that light. And then treating people with consideration and sincerity simply becomes a habit.

But none of this happens (IMO) if you're just dancing around doing technique any old way and having a laugh without regard to the validity of your technique because you're not having a real and honest interaction with another human being. You're pretending to throw him and he's pretending to be thrown.
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Old 05-08-2008, 11:27 PM   #28
gdandscompserv
 
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Quote:
Alex Lawrence wrote: View Post
The big question for me here is "Where is the martial?" Where is the "Bu" in Budo. Surely if we're not worrying about effectiveness all we are is meditators or dancers dressed up and following the affectations of martial artists.
Well, if you're comparing us to samurai, we really are just dressing up. At least I haven't cut anybody's head off lately. I know we like to think we're all martial and stuff but most of us live pretty non-martial lives. We are merely trying to keep alive something that was passed to us by somebody else. We see value in what we have learned and want to share it with others. There are many people in this world who seem to survive without these awesome martial skills we have. Do martial artist's really live longer?
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Old 05-08-2008, 11:32 PM   #29
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Quote:
Bill Danosky wrote: View Post
I've watched this very closely trying to see what makes the difference. It isn't muscle- it's gotta be Aiki power...
Maybe the difference isn't Aiki-power, maybe they're just better at aikido than everybody else

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 05-09-2008, 06:21 AM   #30
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Whatever you may call it, if it not yet working for you, it is not yet Aikido. Nor, for that matter, is health TaiChi anything close to TaiChi. And if you aim is not effectiveness, then it never will be. It is as simple as that. It's OK if you chose to do that for your own practice - no problem there - but the beginner walking though the door usually wants self-defence and will probably believe anything you thell them. And I have a problem with that ... because I was once a beginner.

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Old 05-09-2008, 08:10 AM   #31
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Quote:
Alex Lawrence wrote: View Post
She hasn't learned conflict resolution because she hasn't dealt with real conflict.
She owns a resturant and deals with real conflict every day, the kind of real conflict that most people actually face in their daily lives. Her dedicated practice of Aikido has taught her strategies for dealing with in your face angry customers, wait staff and kitchen staff, that would never have occured to her prior to her training. Tohei says that Aikido has to be put into practice in our daily lives and the woman Mary wrote about is a perfect example of Aikido used in daily life, day in and day out.

Ron
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Old 05-09-2008, 08:46 AM   #32
Keith Larman
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Quote:
Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
She owns a resturant and deals with real conflict every day, the kind of real conflict that most people actually face in their daily lives. Her dedicated practice of Aikido has taught her strategies for dealing with in your face angry customers, wait staff and kitchen staff, that would never have occured to her prior to her training. Tohei says that Aikido has to be put into practice in our daily lives and the woman Mary wrote about is a perfect example of Aikido used in daily life, day in and day out.

Ron
I think often we start to trip over these discussions because our notion of effectiveness is so slippery. For me the whole notion of defending yourself without fighting is a great thing. And when we discuss scenarios of emotional conflict that hasn't risen to physical violence, sure, much of the philosophy and training for that matter in Aikido can help us maintain a calm, centered composure and goes a long way to helping us resolve that conflict. So can good classes in conflict resolution. So can a good Prozac for that matter for some (just kidding, but you get the idea). How you learn to deal with conflict that hasn't risen to physical violence is an important thing to understand, however, Aikido doesn't have an exclusive claim to having figured that out. There are lots of ways of learning to stay calm, deal with conflict, and resolve issues.

However, what some are talking about is when a conflict becomes physical and violent. How effective are those waza when that level of violence is reached. Clearly O-sensei was a tough customer and proved himself over and over. Some of his deshi did the same, Tohei included. On this level is each person's aikido effective?

There are many ways to learn to resolve conflict without fighting. There is also the different notion of "not fighting" during a physical confrontation and by that meaning moving and performing your waza avoiding the mental state of "trying" to hurt the other person and not coming into physical "conflict". I.e., don't block 'em, don't punch 'em, use their energy with them to effect control. Or "Blend, lead and control" as one of my sensei is often heard screaming at me... And I think that sort of flowing, smooth movement is a goal for most of us. So this issue isn't whether you're dealing with a physical attack in a "non-fighting mind" way, but whether you are able to actually effect that control of the other person while staying safe yourself with a non-compliant attacker maintaining said mindset.

As a guy with a background in other arts who has a habit of occasionally getting out on the mat with other martial artists including MMA guys (not lately due to a back injury -- thank god for good physical therapy) I find all aspects of Aikido listed above to be important to me. I *want* to be able to move, flow, not conflict, i.e., not "fight" as I ideally effectively deal with the attacker. There are many times when other methods, other styles, other ways of "fighting" are more "expedient" to ending the conflict at this point in my training. I just need a few more decades...

But this is why I train in Aikido. I remember being asked why I came to Aikido after having done other things. My answer was really quite simple -- because it is so devilishly difficult to do well. I can be quite "effective" with a modicum in training in some things. Good striking arts, good kicking arts, good judo, good JJ, heck, I even "played" with savate briefly and had a blast there. They all teach you a solid "toolkit" to dealing with a fight. The approach of aikido is vastly more difficult for me, but in many senses much more satisfying. The difficulty of learning something that is so complex yet so elegantly simple all at the same time is what attracted me to it. And I see it as an art that I can spend the rest of my life trying to figure out.

All that said I've met some guys who I think couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper sack in Aikido. Lots of them. Some are seriously deluded (IMHO) as to their effectiveness in an actual physical confrontation. Some are quite "out there" on the metaphysical end and some approach aikido much like a beautiful, choreographed dance. Whatever floats your boat. I have no problem with those people doing their thing, I'm just not sure they're doing the full "scope" of Aikido. The stories of the intensity of training with O-sensei fit in here... Or a broken arm for an uke who "tanked" in his ukemi...

Personally I try to understand this art including the philosophical underpinnings, but also focus on making sure I can also "hold my own" when dealing with a physical confrontation. I do realize, however, that it can take a very long time to get to that goal with Aikido.

So... Yes, I subscribe to the notion of not "fighting" as *both* a mindset and as a way of describing how waza are performed physically. However, for myself, I want not only to grow as a person, to learn control of my emotions, to maintain a centered, calm outlook but I want my Aikido to be capable of controlling a physically attacking person even if they haven't been clued in first on how they're supposed to fall down and give up.

Too many IMHO focus only on one part of the puzzle. And to me, aikido is one of those gigantic, umpteen zillion piece jigsaw puzzles. It'll take me forever to put it together. But I at least want to make sure I'm not missing large portions of the puzzle before I even start... Focusing on any one point at the exclusion of others is for me a mistake. I want the "whole enchilada" as they say. But I have enough experience elsewhere to know that really getting into it with another person is a serious thing indeed.

So my goal is for my Aikido to not have any fight in it but also to work in a fight.

If ya know what I mean...

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Old 05-09-2008, 09:20 AM   #33
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Excellent Post Keith!

Thanks for that.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 05-09-2008, 09:38 AM   #34
Mike Sigman
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Quote:
Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
She owns a resturant and deals with real conflict every day, the kind of real conflict that most people actually face in their daily lives. Her dedicated practice of Aikido has taught her strategies for dealing with in your face angry customers, wait staff and kitchen staff, that would never have occured to her prior to her training. Tohei says that Aikido has to be put into practice in our daily lives and the woman Mary wrote about is a perfect example of Aikido used in daily life, day in and day out.
Tohei has morphed the meaning of "ki" to *include* some self-help and psychological connotations in much the same way a lot of current Aikido has been changed from Ueshiba's idea to *include* pop-psychology, "aiki-speak", passive-aggressive dealing with others disguised as 'diplomacy', and so on. Given Ueshiba's known irrascibility, I find it difficult to believe people actually ignore reality and pretend that Aikido is what they want it to be, at any given moment. I'm always tempted to suggest that people say their art is "patterned on Aikido" but not usurp the name "Aikido" when they must know that Ueshiba never did a practice like theirs at all.

I mean, each to his own and all that, but there's a certain threshold of change and pop-psychology that drifts from the naive and well-intentioned into the deliberate usurpation of Ueshiba's life's work because it sounds cool. IMO.

FWIW

Mike Sigman
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Old 05-09-2008, 10:13 AM   #35
Ketsan
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Quote:
Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
She owns a resturant and deals with real conflict every day, the kind of real conflict that most people actually face in their daily lives. Her dedicated practice of Aikido has taught her strategies for dealing with in your face angry customers, wait staff and kitchen staff, that would never have occured to her prior to her training. Tohei says that Aikido has to be put into practice in our daily lives and the woman Mary wrote about is a perfect example of Aikido used in daily life, day in and day out.

Ron
Aikido can give you the confidence to deal with them granted, but is it rational to expect say a 2nd dan postman to be able to deal with an angry customer better than a 6th kyu bar manager?

I'd argue that she picked up her people skills, like most people in the service industry, by interacting with people and learning what works and doesn't work by making mistakes.

How many reps of technically correct shiho nage do you have to do to come to the realisation that if you shout at an angry person you're not going to resolve the situation peacefully?

How many reps of technically correct ikkyo do you need to do to come to the realisation that if you convince the angry person you're on their side that things become much easier?

She's dealt with real conflict in the restaurant and learned from it, she didn't need Aikido.

Last edited by Ketsan : 05-09-2008 at 10:17 AM. Reason: Missed the point
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Old 05-09-2008, 10:33 AM   #36
Dieter Haffner
 
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Great post Keith.

Exactly my thoughts.

I am starting to think that you are my long lost twin brother that got abducted by aliens and was misplaced when they put you back on earth in the new continent.
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Old 05-09-2008, 04:55 PM   #37
Ketsan
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

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Ricky Wood wrote: View Post
Well, if you're comparing us to samurai, we really are just dressing up. At least I haven't cut anybody's head off lately. I know we like to think we're all martial and stuff but most of us live pretty non-martial lives. We are merely trying to keep alive something that was passed to us by somebody else. We see value in what we have learned and want to share it with others. There are many people in this world who seem to survive without these awesome martial skills we have. Do martial artist's really live longer?
It's not about living longer, it's about living life with a martial spirit.
I'm arguing that (IMHO) one cannot develop a martial spirit unless you are training to develop effective technique, i.e. martial training.
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Old 05-09-2008, 07:48 PM   #38
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Keith wrote:

Quote:
I think often we start to trip over these discussions because our notion of effectiveness is so slippery
This is key.

And

A very good post to follow! Thanks!

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Old 05-09-2008, 09:32 PM   #39
Buck
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

A surgical knife makes a poor machete.

What does it matter if Aikido never took the Gracie challenge. Aikido is the big question mark isn't it? That unknown eats at the MMA rollers.

Aikido is about not being on the UFC Ultimate Fighter. Aikido's principles work against all the MMA principles for an universal example.

Aikido is for self-defense if required, but it's not a requirement. Aikido is the art of peace, not war.

MMA rollers who see Aikido as an opponent don't know enough about Aikido to understand that Aikido isn't about what they are about. It is easy to put something down when there isn't much known about it. Even easier when it is unable to be understand.

I can learn properly MMA moves to fight in a fight in 6 mos. It would take years just to learn an Aikido waza properly, say Katate Mochi Shiho Nage on the street. I think that is the reason why MMA rollers and fighter doesn't consider Aikido as a part of MMA.

If the MMA world wants me to say uncle I will say it, UNCLE! You guys win. Your the baddest, the pimpist, the wickedest, around better then Aikido. But, I am not swtiching to MMA. Just like I am not switching to Ninjitsu, Hapkido, Kungfu, etc. I picked Aikido, am sticking with it. I am happy and your happy. We both get what we want. But, I get the peace, and better health; no haunting injuries, and something I can do well into old age that will keep me healthly.

Last edited by Buck : 05-09-2008 at 09:42 PM.
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Old 05-10-2008, 07:54 AM   #40
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

This is from Aikikai Hombu's home page:
I really liked it:

A pure budo comes with the unification of technique, body and heart. The budo, which will manifest itself, does not depend upon the technique, but rather upon the heart of the practitioner.
The aim of Aikido is a kindness of heart expressed through this spirit of budo.
Here are some thoughts on the spirit of Aikido.

Aiki is love.
Budo is the path of the warrior. Combined with the spirit of heaven and earth in your heart, you can fulfill your life's destiny with unconditional love for everything.
Aiki seeks to skillfully strike down the ego and inherent insincerity in battling an enemy. Aiki is the path of forgiveness and enlightenment. The martial techniques provide discipline for the journey of uniting the spirit and the body through channeling the laws of heaven.

The goal of Aikido training is not perfection of a step or skill, but rather improving one's character according to the rules of nature. One becomes "resilient" inside yet this strength is expressed softly. Movements found in nature are efficient, rational, and soft,while the center is immovable, firm, and stable. This principal of a firm center is universally consistent -- and must be true for each person. The culmination of Aikido is expressed by aligning one's center with the center expressed throughout nature.

Aikido movement maintains this firm and stable center with an emphasis on spherical rotation characterized by flowing, circular, dance-like motions. These pivoting, entering and circling motions are used to control and overcome the opponent. The principle of spherical rotation makes it possible to defend one self from an opponent of superior size, strength, and experience.

Although Aikido movements are soft, rational, and smooth as in nature, by applying a bit of force,these can become devastatingly effective. The gentle quality of Aikido makes it appealing to men and women and children regardless of age. It not only offers spiritual development but also provides exercise and teaches proper etiquette and behavior.

At the heart of Aikido is the Eastern concept of Ki --the universal creative principle. Aikido seeks to unite this universal Ki with the Ki (life force or breath) found within each person. Literally, Aikido translates as "the way of harmony with Ki".


Mary
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Old 05-10-2008, 09:51 AM   #41
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Hello Mary,

Yes. I wondered when someone would look at the Hombu's home page. Of course, you are entirely right to quote it, but I am saddened in some way. Why? Because this statement appears only in the English version. The Japanese version is quite different. Of course, it mentions O Sensei, the development of aikido, the importance of 'circles' and the denial of competition, but the main point is the international expansion of aikido, via overseas organizations like the IAF.

In particular, the following paragraph is missing from the Japanese website.

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Aiki is love.
Budo is the path of the warrior. Combined with the spirit of heaven and earth in your heart, you can fulfill your life's destiny with unconditional love for everything.
Aiki seeks to skillfully strike down the ego and inherent insincerity in battling an enemy. Aiki is the path of forgiveness and enlightenment. The martial techniques provide discipline for the journey of uniting the spirit and the body through channeling the laws of heaven.
I suspect that this is a rough distillation in English of O Sensei's Omoto discourses, taken out of context. So, I would ask Kevin Leavitt: how would you convey the message in this paragraph to the aikidoka troops who are serving/about to serve in Iraq? In particular, how would you deal with the combination of 'the path of the warrior' with the 'inherent insincerity in battling an enemy'? How do you teach your troops to 'strike down their ego and apparent insincerity' in battling the Iraqi attackers? These troops are serious aikidoka and serious troops.

My dojo is just down the road from Iwakuni, which is a US Marine base. Thus, just occasionally we look after Marines who do aikido and want somewhere to train (in English). One of my students served in Iraq and was due to go there again. He was very fit, tough, strong, but had lots of 'demons' and very serious doubts about the value of his aikido training for facing the next life-and-death encounters. I think that his demons were the result of the combination of the two phrases in the above paragraph. He was a warrior, utterly committed to doing his best for his mates, his family, and his country, but he really felt the 'inherent insincerity in battling an enemy' and this tore him apart. I think we gave him 'unconditional love', as I understood the phrase (but I think this was actually Christian love, as expressed in St John's gospel). In some respects I felt inadequate. I have never been a soldier and so have never experienced anything like he experienced. Nevertheless, he came to my dojo and expected to learn something about aikido as a martial art.

I believe we taught him something and what we taught him is somewhat similar to the point you are making in this thread. Perhaps it is similar to the message of Ecclesiastes: "There is a time for X and a time for Y." etc etc Here, in our dojo it is a time for not fighting, however great is the temptation (caused by your memories, or your stiff or recalcitrant uke). But in a real sense I believe that what we tried to teach him was different and this is more closely tied to the idea of aikido as suffering.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 05-10-2008, 01:32 PM   #42
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Mary,

Yes. I wondered when someone would look at the Hombu's home page. Of course, you are entirely right to quote it, but I am saddened in some way. Why? Because this statement appears only in the English version. The Japanese version is quite different. Of course, it mentions O Sensei, the development of aikido, the importance of 'circles' and the denial of competition, but the main point is the international expansion of aikido, via overseas organizations like the IAF.

In particular, the following paragraph is missing from the Japanese website.

I suspect that this is a rough distillation in English of O Sensei's Omoto discourses, taken out of context. So, I would ask Kevin Leavitt: how would you convey the message in this paragraph to the aikidoka troops who are serving/about to serve in Iraq? In particular, how would you deal with the combination of 'the path of the warrior' with the 'inherent insincerity in battling an enemy'? How do you teach your troops to 'strike down their ego and apparent insincerity' in battling the Iraqi attackers? These troops are serious aikidoka and serious troops.
Richard Heckler wrote quite a bit about this in his book In Search of the Warrior Spirit. He was involved in a project to do some training with a group of Special Forces personnel. It's a very interesting book.

The problem with the Budo is Love part of Aikido, and I personally believe that this is the whole reason to even practice the art, is that it is only one sided and that creates an inherent imbalance.

Aikido is, first and foremost about the natural balance. Everything in the universe is impermanent, that at any instant things are coming and things are going, and much of this process seems to be fairly violent. Certainly mankind has shown very little tendency to go against this natural fact. So conflict, on some level is part of this very Nature.

It is the job of the soldier to protect the rest of us so that we can pursue the Budo is Love dream in our lives. But Chiba Sensei had some interesting things to say about the balance required in Aikido between ai-uchi and ai-nuke. Certainly in our daily lives the spirit we strive to manifest is that of ai-nuke, or mutual preservation.

But the soldier is daily faced with the need to completely put his life on the line knowing that at any instant he could die in combat with his enemy. This is the spirit of ai-uchi, or mutual destruction.

Understanding ai-uchi is an important part of ones training. The fact is, it doesn't matter which party wins in combat... both parties have died on some level. Grossman talks about what happens to men when they engage in combat in his book On Killing - The Psychological Cost of Training Men to Kill. If you kill another human being, on some level the person you have been dies as well. You are permanently transformed by that experience.

That's why you don't just cavalierly send your people off to fight. The generation that fights a war is damaged by that experience. Yet there are men and women, professional warriors, who we ask to do this job for us. We put a lot of attention on the body count, the number of our guys killed, the number wounded. But this doesn't even touch on the cost the folks have paid who outwardly show no signs of damage. Everyone who kills is damaged. That is the spirit of ai-uchi. Chiba Sensei talks about the importance of maintaining that part of the art as well as the spirit of ai-nuke. Saotome Sensei calls this the "dark side" of the art. Dark side training is the study of the destructive techniques inherent in our system but which are rarely studied. It's the balancing energy of destruction that must inevitably be there to counter balance the energy of creation.

Quote:
My dojo is just down the road from Iwakuni, which is a US Marine base. Thus, just occasionally we look after Marines who do aikido and want somewhere to train (in English). One of my students served in Iraq and was due to go there again. He was very fit, tough, strong, but had lots of 'demons' and very serious doubts about the value of his aikido training for facing the next life-and-death encounters. I think that his demons were the result of the combination of the two phrases in the above paragraph. He was a warrior, utterly committed to doing his best for his mates, his family, and his country, but he really felt the 'inherent insincerity in battling an enemy' and this tore him apart.
Takuan Zenji in his letters to Yagyu Munenori (The Unfettered Mind) talks about how one squares the values of Buddhism and Zen with the duty required of a samurai. It's quite interesting and relevant here. Basically, he talks about attachment to ones actions and the results.

I think that if one feels that there is an "inherent insincerity" in battling an enemy one is going to be torn apart if called to be a soldier. I think that our Aikido training must be about clarity and commitment. If it's time to live, one should fully commit to ones life. If it's time to fight, one has to fully commit to that. That means placing oneself at risk in order to do the job. It's knowing that you will risk yourself for the guys next to you. You do what you have to do. Attachment to these actions is where one gets in trouble. There are folks who get addicted to combat, the adrenaline, the almost meditative state of stepping outside oneself when in the fight, the rush of finding oneself alive after the fight ends. That attachment is a problem.

There are also folks who are conflicted by what they do. Their resistance to doing what they are called on to do causes them to tear themselves apart. They do their duty, perform their jobs, but they can't let go of the attachment to what they have done. So the terrible things they have been called on to do slowly eat away at them.

Quote:
I think we gave him 'unconditional love', as I understood the phrase (but I think this was actually Christian love, as expressed in St John's gospel). In some respects I felt inadequate. I have never been a soldier and so have never experienced anything like he experienced. Nevertheless, he came to my dojo and expected to learn something about aikido as a martial art.
Grossman talks about the importance of ones community in integrating the potentially damaging emotions left after combat. If the community is supportive, as it was after WWII, you minimize the disconnect between the actions of war and the return to peace time. But when the community is not supportive which happened during Viet Nam, the results can be devastating.

It's also important that the disconnect between what the stated mission is and reality not be too great. When you get to the point, as we did in Viet Nam, where statements were made like "We had to destroy the city to save it." There is no real way to not experience the insincerity of the whole thing.

Quote:
I believe we taught him something and what we taught him is somewhat similar to the point you are making in this thread. Perhaps it is similar to the message of Ecclesiastes: "There is a time for X and a time for Y." etc etc Here, in our dojo it is a time for not fighting, however great is the temptation (caused by your memories, or your stiff or recalcitrant uke). But in a real sense I believe that what we tried to teach him was different and this is more closely tied to the idea of aikido as suffering.
Best wishes,
PAG
The way I was taught, and try to also teach myself, is that every technique has the two faces of light and dark, creation and destruction. In every technique we choose to go to the light because that's practice and that's what we need to be able to do to make our lives better and the lives of the people we meet better.

But very occasionally, the spirit of loving protection has to manifest in the form of the Goddess Kali, the wrathful, destructive, cleansing, purifying, aspect of the same reality. Soldiers are the human manifestation of that side of nature. Each of us has that in us. If our training is right we can access that side if called upon but because of our training it is always a choice to do so. It never controls us.

I think the fact that a teacher who clearly has spent his life studying the art from the standpoint of the "light" can accept and support someone who is currently called upon to go to the dark side as part of his job is crucial to that soldier's ability to integrate the experience in a way that will eventually allow him to go home and resume his life. I suspect that you may have no idea how you have helped himů

I had a former student e-mail from Iraq. He was a young kid who had only trained with us a short time. I remembered him but he was just one of the many hundreds to come in, never really get going on their training and are gone. He e-mailed me saying how important his experience in the dojo had been to him. It had caused him to straighten his life out, graduate from high school and then join the military. He was writing to me from Iraq where he was a sniper for his unit. I never would have dreamed that his time at our place could have had such a profound effect but in his mind it was a very important experience. It was clear that what he had found modeled in the Aikido he had seen was something that he used in his thinking about what he was doing in the war.

The Peace that Aikido strives for isn't just an external peace. It is also an inner peace which allows us to navigate this world, which is anything but peaceful but still maintain some sort of inner balance. It is only through attaining that inner sense of equilibrium that one has any real chance of moving the world towards that collective peace that is the ideal but we are so far away from. The soldier is called upon to do terrible things but he must have something to balance that or he becomes terrible himself. Aikido training should give a sense of that balance if it is done properly, I think.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 05-10-2008, 04:56 PM   #43
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Peter,

Ledyard Sensei wrote better than I could ever write on the subject.

I think it is a complex topic and a personal one to figure out.

Following buddhist philosophy, I struggled for a long time about the conflict presented by my career path and that of my personal beliefs that it is wrong to kill.

Again, it is a complex path and process.

The other day my boss was pointed out that as a vegetarian that basically I was also a hippocrit because I put cheese on my sandwich and was wearing leather boots.

Of course he was correct. It is hard to explain. I think the Dali Lama has done a good job in the many books he has written. Many books on boddhisatvic practices as well deal with the subject better than I could ever write.

Anyway, the "road to killing" as a soldier can be a long process, it is not something that is sought out, nor is it something that you necessarily choose for yourself, but a part of Karma.

I think Musashi had some very good concepts, many of which George sums up concerning the life of a warrior.

I think those that ignore those points are at high risk for conflict and post traumatic stress.

I also think that karma plays a huge roll in things and that there are many enabling factors that lead to me having a gun in hand and having to pull the trigger.

We are all interconnected and responsible for everything as a whole world. Just like my boss pointed out the hypocrisy of being a vegetarian, to think that we as a society don't share in the burden of trigger pulling is hypocrisy.

One would think that following the path of peace and love would pull you away from battle. It can and does in a way. I don't think it is the actions of killing that matter as much as the amount of compassion you show and mindfulness you try to live your life by. All you can do is be the best you can be and try and do what you can to keep from having to pull triggers, but when you must, you do so unflinchingly.

I think what we need to concentrate on is building more warriors that pull triggers more skillfully. That is, we increase the gap between no violence and violence, so that we can have people that make better choices that may ultimately end in non-violence.

It is the same reasons I became a vegetarian. To try and be a little more of the change I want to see in the world. To walk within the circles of normalcy and show others that it is possible to do things differently.

I think that is the role of aikido in the world. Not to avoid or move away from violence, but to embrace it, and try and to things more skillfully as we go.

Military Aikidoka have a challenge to yield deadly force, but to also try and expand our skillfullness and that of those around us.

Hope this makes some sense!

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Old 05-10-2008, 08:02 PM   #44
Buck
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Right now as I look at the General lists of threads there is what, 4 threads going on recently about the effectiveness of Aikido in a fight.

After reading them in part or whole, and my own rant I came upon something that occurred to me. What are the women in Aikido saying. Why is fighting such an issue to men?

We men spend a mountain size heap of time on fighting. Women don't. Testosterone vs Estrogen is what someone will say is the reason. But, yea to a point that be true, but not 100%. What we have brains and not just hormones. Our thoughts are not a result of these hormones and don't make thought. If these hormones did then all men would be doing is...you know...and fighting. Probably, more of the you know what then the fighting. Ego has a big part of fighting in men too.

I think we have gotten to a point of obsesion with this idea of Aikido and fighting so much that some men can't see anything else then Aikido's only purpose is for a fight and how effective it would be. Because, fighting and fighting effectiveness gives the ego a stroke. Fighting effectiveness also gives Aikido martial validity in the fighting world of men.

Women don't need to fight to give Aikido validity. Women have no butting egos. Women don't have primal left over chest beating, posturing, territorial blustering and we men really should beyond that. We men do have a brain, it has been proven many of us use it. It is proven some of us men are not functioning on hormonal impulses and ego and don't hold fighting results above all.

Women can express Aikido as an art and then get all the great benefits from Aikido other then the feelings from a stroked ego. Women have a better handle on Aikido then so many men.

If you want to fight, you really don't need Aikido. If you want a challenge and enrichment in your life Aikido can be that. If you want to fight for money and fame in a ring or a cage Aikido isn't for you. And pressing that issue to the hilt isn't really interesting any more.

Last edited by Buck : 05-10-2008 at 08:16 PM.
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Old 05-10-2008, 08:08 PM   #45
dps
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Aikido is, first and foremost about the natural balance. Everything in the universe is impermanent, that at any instant things are coming and things are going, and much of this process seems to be fairly violent. Certainly mankind has shown very little tendency to go against this natural fact. So conflict, on some level is part of this very Nature.
Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
The Peace that Aikido strives for isn't just an external peace. It is also an inner peace which allows us to navigate this world, which is anything but peaceful but still maintain some sort of inner balance. It is only through attaining that inner sense of equilibrium that one has any real chance of moving the world towards that collective peace that is the ideal but we are so far away from. The soldier is called upon to do terrible things but he must have something to balance that or he becomes terrible himself. Aikido training should give a sense of that balance if it is done properly, I think.
I find the part of the quote I put in bold type to be contrary to the first quote and the part of the second quote. To move toward a collective peace would be to move toward unbalancing nature.

David
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Old 05-10-2008, 08:17 PM   #46
dps
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post

We men spend a mountain size heap of time on fighting. Women don't.

Women have no butting egos.

Women don't have primal left over chest beating, posturing, territorial blustering....
You don't have any sisters and are not married right?

David

Last edited by dps : 05-10-2008 at 08:21 PM.
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Old 05-10-2008, 08:37 PM   #47
RonRagusa
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
I think what we need to concentrate on is building more warriors that pull triggers more skillfully. That is, we increase the gap between no violence and violence, so that we can have people that make better choices that may ultimately end in non-violence.
Hi Kevin -

We always train with the following doctrine in mind:

[FONT=Times New Roman][FONT='Times New Roman'][SIZE=3]1.[/SIZE] [/FONT][SIZE=3]Walk away when that is an option,[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman][FONT='Times New Roman'][SIZE=3]2.[/SIZE] [/FONT][SIZE=3]Converse when walking is no longer an option,[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman][FONT='Times New Roman'][SIZE=3]3.[/SIZE] [/FONT][SIZE=3]Avoid when conversing is no longer an option,[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman][FONT='Times New Roman'][SIZE=3]4.[/SIZE] [/FONT][SIZE=3]Immobilize when avoidance is no longer an option,[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman][FONT='Times New Roman'][SIZE=3]5.[/SIZE] [/FONT][SIZE=3]Incapacitate when immobilization is no longer an option,[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT='Times New Roman','serif']Kill when incapacitation is no longer an option. [/FONT]
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Old 05-10-2008, 08:43 PM   #48
Buck
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

I know also that fighting and Aikido something interesting to talk about. I just think it really is a negative world. Most Aikidoka I know really are not violent fighting people. They don't join Aikido to be a professional fighter. We all know Aikido doesn't cater to making money or fame from fighting. Aikido is something I enjoy doing not because I can beat someone up. I am in the same boat, I think, like the millions of others around the world who train in it for the same reason. I am frustrated why the insistence, emphasis, and the defensive arguments on Aikido as a fighting art.

I feel very strongly about this, it might be because I fear a shift in Aikido away from its principles toward fighting. If enough people push Aikido's effectiveness for fighting, the Aikido community might lean toward putting Aikido in a MMA light instead of its self-defense light.

I am probably guilty for being oversensitive and protective. I am not applying Aikido off the mat lately. I think because I am threatened, I am uncomfortable with the idea of Aikido adopting fighting because of the pressure to prove its effectiveness. Aikido has given so much more to me then what I see MMA fighting could. MMA is streamlined on winning a fight. I fear Aikido will be streamlined losing all the treasures I love in Aikido, and will be changed forever.

Am I being realistic, hmmm, maybe or maybe not. I do think I am guilty of being too passionate about Aikido and it comes through in what I have been saying lately in a non-Aikido way. I need to regain my balance, because I am starting to fight. I have to use my brain and discipline my impulses, and lean on what Aikido has taught me for the benefit of all.

Last edited by Buck : 05-10-2008 at 08:46 PM.
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Old 05-10-2008, 08:44 PM   #49
rob_liberti
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Ron, the last few lines of your doctrine seem to be at odds with the premise of the thread.
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Old 05-10-2008, 08:56 PM   #50
RonRagusa
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Re: Fight does not work at all in Aikido.

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
I think what we need to concentrate on is building more warriors that pull triggers more skillfully. That is, we increase the gap between no violence and violence, so that we can have people that make better choices that may ultimately end in non-violence.
Hi Kevin -

We always train with the following doctrine in mind:

Walk away when that is an option,
Converse when walking is no longer an option,
Avoid when conversing is no longer an option,
Immobilize when avoidance is no longer an option,
Incapacitate when immobilization is no longer an option,
Kill when incapacitation is no longer an option.

Our doctrine of least possible harm is equivalent to your increasing the gap between no violence and violence. Aikido training, unlike training many other martial arts provides us with tools that allow us to esclate our response to a confrontation in a graduated manner. I think this is what makes Aikido special and, if not unique, then a member of a small club of arts that don't view instantaneous destruction of an adversary as the expected outcome of all confrontations.

Best,

Ron
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