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Old 02-08-2005, 06:41 AM   #1
Wynand van Dyk
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Competition in Aikido

Not having competitions is almost a point of pride in some Aikido institutions, what nonsense, how better to curb the growth of an ego than with a good butt-kicking now and then. The flipside to this argument is that Aikido is not competitive - sure, so just take part in the competitions without being competitive, its easy, you cancel the pyro guys who want to install fireworks around the mat for your "entry", you put a sensible pair of pants and shirt on, you give the audience their money back and tell them to go home and you go on and test yourself in honesty and humility against another Aikidoka.

In Aikido, because of the lack of competition in most schools, there is no official "pecking-order" based off of skill, often this manifests as a competition for who can brown-nose sensei the most, who stays the latest and practices the "hardest" etc... The lack of clearly defined skill levels between ranks often comes up in the much maligned passive-aggressive behaviour of Aikidoka. There is no need for this kind of behaviour in a truly "non competitive art"

People often bring up that old chestnut of osensei whereby he declares competition absolutely verboten and taboo. I am utterly and completely convinced that osensei's notion of competition has nothing to do with "sparring" or "randori" and everything todo with the behaviours described in the previous paragraph.
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Old 02-08-2005, 07:14 AM   #2
Casey Martinson
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Re: Competition in Aikido

One, having watched competative fighting sports from wrestling to boxing to MMA, I don't see that the inevitable butt kicking leads to humility. For those inclined toward humility, it will be there regardless. For those inclined toward over-large egos, getting ones butt kicked probably won't have much of an effect.

Two, what form would aikido competition take? Kata competition? I don't see how sparring could even be possible.
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Old 02-08-2005, 07:57 AM   #3
batemanb
 
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Wynand,

Don't let Aikido dogma stop you from going out to prove your the biggest cock in the hen house, if that's what you feel the need to do. Just don't come back whingeing that Aikido doesn't work if you get your arse kicked.

If the Aikido that you practice doesn't do it for you, find something else that floats your boat.If you diagree with the way that Aikido is taught, master it and create your own budo, or go and sign on with any one of hundreds of other real or combat aikido styles that have been spawned by similar thinking people.

There's no point getting upset with it, you have the free choice to go do something about it yourself.

Bryan

Last edited by batemanb : 02-08-2005 at 08:06 AM.

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 02-08-2005, 08:16 AM   #4
rob_liberti
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Re: Competition in Aikido

I agree with most of the original post, but not all of the conclusions you jumped to.

If you want to compete I'm all for it. Here is the competition I purpose:

We get as many sets of identical twins as are willing to participate. They have to to have similar ability in martial arts (meaning that if we find that Endo sensei has an identicle twin brother who never trainined aikido in his life, we can use that set of twins only if I get Endo sensei for my team!).

Now, we each get one member of each set of twins to train. I'll train them in a cooperative model and you train them using all of the competition that you want. We can do this for as long as you like.

When you say you are ready, we'll get together. We require that they all wear the same dogis and keep their hair cuts the same so that there is no way to distinguish which one is from which training methodology. We get a third party dojo to attack them all as hard as they like in any basic waza.

Those third party uke-s get to decide which training methodology works best.

The prise:
The loser, agrees to change what they had been "utterly and completely convinced" of what O-sensei's notion competition is.

Rob
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Old 02-08-2005, 08:18 AM   #5
akiy
 
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Wynand van Dyk wrote:
In Aikido, because of the lack of competition in most schools, there is no official "pecking-order" based off of skill, often this manifests as a competition for who can brown-nose sensei the most, who stays the latest and practices the "hardest" etc... The lack of clearly defined skill levels between ranks often comes up in the much maligned passive-aggressive behaviour of Aikidoka. There is no need for this kind of behaviour in a truly "non competitive art"

People often bring up that old chestnut of osensei whereby he declares competition absolutely verboten and taboo. I am utterly and completely convinced that osensei's notion of competition has nothing to do with "sparring" or "randori" and everything todo with the behaviours described in the previous paragraph.
For more information on the founder's thoughts on shiai and "competition," please see Peter Goldsbury's informative post here:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpo...6&postcount=15

-- Jun

Please help support AikiWeb -- become an AikiWeb Contributing Member!
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Old 02-08-2005, 08:26 AM   #6
rob_liberti
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Bryan,

I like what you said too, but I have to say I'm kind of psyched to get to try Jason Delucia's Combat aikido dojo someday soon. I don't know yet, but it sounds like it has real potential and I might really get to learn something(s) valuable there.

Rob
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Old 02-08-2005, 10:21 AM   #7
darin
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Tomiki and Yoseikan have competitions but I don't think their tournaments are open to all styles.

I haven't heard that much bickering about which style is best but I have heard out of shape instructors boasting they can take on 5 people at once or be able to easily deal with someone who is trained in another art.
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Old 02-08-2005, 01:34 PM   #8
pezalinski
 
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Darin Hyde wrote:
Tomiki and Yoseikan have competitions but I don't think their tournaments are open to all styles.

I haven't heard that much bickering about which style is best but I have heard out of shape instructors boasting they can take on 5 people at once or be able to easily deal with someone who is trained in another art.
As someone who has been repeatedly whipped to the mat by some of these "out of shape" instructors, I respectfully decline to denegrate them. Impressive physical fitness (read: "looks like he/she could kick your A**") is not a requirement for practicing the art -- some of the best Aikidoka out there look like your grandmother in a Gi and hakima . They don't have to be able to run a 5 minute mile to deal with you, or jump tall buildings in a single bound, or even to be abe to bench press their own body weight 5 times. They only need to be able to apply the "non-violent" art of Aikido effectively and appropriately to deal with your attacks, until you are too tired to continue or painfully disabled and unable to do so. That doesn't take strength, nor even all that much stamina -- just experience, intelligence, timing, and grace under pressure.

IMHO, If you really want to see competetive "Aikido" and are only impressed by the use of physical domination to determine a pecking order -- look to Gracie-style Jujitsu and the full-contact competitions... A lot of aikido can be found reflected in jujitsu, and competition weeds out the less effective but more flowery techniques to something more brutal and effective... You might even enjoy it, for a while, until you are injured and unable to continue to compete.


A little danger is a knowledge thing...

"Helping the planet make an impact on people, since 1985"
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Old 02-08-2005, 02:40 PM   #9
paw
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Peter Zalinski wrote:
Impressive physical fitness (read: "looks like he/she could kick your A**")
Fitness is not an appearance, it is the ability to perform an activity.

Quote:
Peter Zalinski wrote:
some of the best Aikidoka out there look like your grandmother in a Gi and hakima
Respectfully, you would have to define "best" in order to make this statement.

Quote:
Peter Zalinski wrote:
That doesn't take strength, nor even all that much stamina -- just experience, intelligence, timing, and grace under pressure.
Proponents of competition would point out that experience, intelligence, timing and grace under pressure may be forged and developed by competition....particularly grace under pressure.

Quote:
Peter Zalinski wrote:
IMHO, If you really want to see competetive "Aikido" and are only impressed by the use of physical domination to determine a pecking order -- look to Gracie-style Jujitsu and the full-contact competitions...
It has already been mentioned that Tomiki and Yoseikan have aikido competition. There's no need to go "outside" of aikido, per se.

I also take issue with the idea that everyone or even most particpants of bjj or mma competitions do so for a desire to physically dominate someone or determine a pecking order. In my experience, they do it for other reasons.

Quote:
Peter Zalinski wrote:
You might even enjoy it, for a while, until you are injured and unable to continue to compete.
You'd have to be able to prove that competition in bjj or mma is more injurious than aikido. In my personal experience, that is not true. Further, the atheticism and conditioning of competitors allows them to recover far, far faster than the average person.

Competition in bjj or mma, doesn't require a high degree of athleticism, nor is it regulated to the young. However, competitors are often encouraged to improve their athleticism because of the obvious advantages it brings.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 02-08-2005, 02:56 PM   #10
rob_liberti
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Re: Competition in Aikido

You know I've been thinking about this and the funny thing is that in most cooperative models I've seen, we always incourage the uke to resist just enough to slow the person down but not enough to stop them. So I suppose we have competition controlled by an over-all cooperation. And, I'm certain that most competitive models cooperate when learning new skills for a while until they get to the more free - now test what you've been practicing part. So, I'd say it kind of depends on what you feel the over all focus is. Either side of this to the extreme is probably not the right answer for most...

(But of course I believe in the model I use, that's why I use it.)

Rob
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Old 02-08-2005, 03:48 PM   #11
mj
Location: livingston, scotland
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Peter Zalinski wrote:
...IMHO, If you really want to see competetive "Aikido"....
I fail to see the need to insult other schools. It is Aikido, not "Aikido".

Quote:
Peter Zalinski wrote:
As someone who has been repeatedly whipped to the mat by some of these "out of shape" instructors, I respectfully decline to denegrate them...
Well of course....no one is suggesting that you would insult your friends. Strangers are obviously a different story.

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Old 02-08-2005, 06:18 PM   #12
Dominic Toupin
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Yoseikan Budo under Hiroo Mochizuki has a unique style of competition incorporating karate, judo and aiki technique

Check :

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6409
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4850
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6378
http://www.yoseikan.asso.fr/
http://www.yoseikan-budo.org/
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Old 02-08-2005, 06:18 PM   #13
maikerus
Dojo: Roppongi Yoshinkan Aikido / Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Wynand van Dyk wrote:
In Aikido, because of the lack of competition in most schools, there is no official "pecking-order" based off of skill, often this manifests as a competition for who can brown-nose sensei the most, who stays the latest and practices the "hardest" etc... The lack of clearly defined skill levels between ranks often comes up in the much maligned passive-aggressive behaviour of Aikidoka. There is no need for this kind of behaviour in a truly "non competitive art".
I've never seen this problem. In all of the dojos I have trained at I could/can easily tell who was better than me and who wasn't as good. If you need a trophy to tell you that you might be missing the whole point.

Seeing who is better day in and day out seems to be a lot better way to "curb the ego" - if that's what you want - than any competition. It also inspires one to become better...every day.

Just a thought...

--Michael

Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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Old 02-08-2005, 06:49 PM   #14
Roy Dean
 
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Re: Competition in Aikido

I think that encouraging select Aikidoka to enter grappling competitions would be a beneficial addition to the traditional training method.

Competition is not for everyone. There are a lot of complex emotions involved: Nervousness, insomnia, adrenaline dumps, mid-fight exhaustion; not to mention to the rigors of preparation and the trials of "Hey, you're fighting next" stagefright. It can be overwhelming for some, and is a true training crucible for "grace under pressure."

The closest thing to competition in most Aikido schools is testing, which triggers many of the same emotions.

I think many of those that shun competition would be surprised at what a positive, transformative experience it can be. Some competition moments of mine have had a "peak experience" flavor to them, not thinking, just feeling, responding and being in rhythm with my opponent. My last loss has inspired me to work harder and fill in the holes in my game that my opponent was able to exploit. Holes I was only vaguely aware of before the competition, but clearly brought into the light afterwards.

Kata has value. Cooperative practice has value. Resistant practice has value. As does competition. I feel that competition should be encouraged for those who seek to test their skills, but firmly kept in check as only a single ASPECT of training.

Yes, I've come across many Aikidokas that I would have paid good money to see enter a BJJ or submission grappling tournament. But their arrogance will be their downfall. If they don't want to ever feel the martial truth of spontaneous attacks with full speed, power, and intent, then they don't have to. It will be a surprise if it ever occurs, and at that moment they will either sink or swim. Competition let's me know I can swim, even when the waves are crashing.

It's experiential. We can talk all day about what competition can or cannot do for people, but until you actually experience it for yourself, it's all abstraction. Those that understand, understand perfectly.

Sincerely,

Roy Dean
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Old 02-09-2005, 01:18 AM   #15
darin
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Peter Zalinski wrote:
As someone who has been repeatedly whipped to the mat by some of these "out of shape" instructors, I respectfully decline to denegrate them. Impressive physical fitness (read: "looks like he/she could kick your A**") is not a requirement for practicing the art -- some of the best Aikidoka out there look like your grandmother in a Gi and hakima . They don't have to be able to run a 5 minute mile to deal with you, or jump tall buildings in a single bound, or even to be abe to bench press their own body weight 5 times. They only need to be able to apply the "non-violent" art of Aikido effectively and appropriately to deal with your attacks, until you are too tired to continue or painfully disabled and unable to do so. That doesn't take strength, nor even all that much stamina -- just experience, intelligence, timing, and grace under pressure.

IMHO, If you really want to see competetive "Aikido" and are only impressed by the use of physical domination to determine a pecking order -- look to Gracie-style Jujitsu and the full-contact competitions... A lot of aikido can be found reflected in jujitsu, and competition weeds out the less effective but more flowery techniques to something more brutal and effective... You might even enjoy it, for a while, until you are injured and unable to continue to compete.
I think you totally missed my point.
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Old 02-09-2005, 01:25 AM   #16
PeterR
 
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Re: Competition in Aikido

If Uke is far more exhausted than Tori after a series of moves - who is doing all the work?

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-09-2005, 04:02 AM   #17
mj
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
If Uke is far more exhausted than Tori after a series of moves - who is doing all the work?
This is part of my concern about 'non-competitive' aikido. (Not that I have concerns, I am just taking part in this thread.)

Every martial artist trains technically, works on posture, awareness and so on...but the dramatic drop in ability that comes from stress-based exhaustion opens up our flaws in a few minutes, allowing our trainers to see our real needs in training.

This is not to say that one needs to spar, spar, spar, run, run, run.

One needs to know that when exhausted, our posture, composure, awareness and so on do not succumb to the natural instincts of folding over, dropping to the ground, being weak to the corners, grabbing and so on.

Is this partly what Shioda meant when he said 'paying their dues' ?

Building up from a strong base of composure under pressure not only gives us a strong foundation but it also allows us to more easily see openings in our partners - and allows us to see the natural progression of exhaustion in others which leads to stress and loss of control in their normal lives. And allows us to help them because we have overcome that.

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Old 02-09-2005, 06:12 AM   #18
TheWonderKid
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Re: Competition in Aikido

I was under the impression that we were supposed to blend with situations, to achieve harmony. By fighting, haven't we already failed in Aikido? I suppose it could be argued that fighting and competition are two different things but it's still two opposing forces that should seek harmony.

But as for competition to curb egos, what about the guy that comes out on top? I doubt that'll deflat an ego and probably do the opposite.

As far as raw skill vs those who work hard, I'm of the opinion that those who work hard deserve the rewards they reap. Were I a Sensei, I'm sure I would pay more attention to those who showed up every class and gave it their all rather than the one who showed up when they felt like it because they believed themselves to be good enough not to have to practice as often.

Perhaps my own dojo is coloring my opinion. In our dojo, rank is unimportant. We are tested when our Sensei thinks it's time for us to be tested, we wear no colored belts other than white or a hakema. Our Sensei is currently a 3rd Dan (Sandan?) and I've been told he's declined to test for his 4th on multiple occasions, because rank to him means little. It's more about what one can personally do. When we have seminars guest instructors are often impressed we can adapt to their style with little difficulty (though that's mostly the others since I've only just passed my 6th kyu). No one really cares who's the best, we all help each other's technique whenever we can.

So when it boils down to it, who cares where you'd rank in your dojo, it's a personal development where the only competetion should be against oneself.

Just my two cents, if I'm way off I appreciate criticism and if I've hit close to the mark, I'd like to know as well.
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Old 02-09-2005, 07:15 AM   #19
mj
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Owen Matchim wrote:
I was under the impression that we were supposed to blend with situations, to achieve harmony.
Yes but we are mainly talking about training methods. At the start of the day Aikido is a martial art...what you have made of it by the end of the day is up to you.

Quote:
Owen Matchim wrote:
But as for competition to curb egos, what about the guy that comes out on top? I doubt that'll deflat an ego and probably do the opposite...
...So when it boils down to it, who cares where you'd rank in your dojo, it's a personal development where the only competetion should be against oneself.
What ego? Who has ego problems?

If I may add...there does seem to be a problem of implication here. (Not necessarily in your posts, Owen)

It seems to be implied that anyone taking part in 'competition' has ego issues. And by extension it is being implied that people who do not take part in 'competition' do not have any ego issues.

Thus the argument has seperated randori/competitive training as part of an organised system to improve your ability in the art and made it about flawed character, desire for trophies, outranking others and indeed a pecking order.

To make it more plain...the arguments (sic) given here against this kind of training are of a personal nature regarding the practitioners, not technical.

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Old 02-09-2005, 09:45 AM   #20
Yann Golanski
 
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Re: Competition in Aikido

I do Shodokan... we have randori and kata competitions. I've been doing them for about eight years now. I've never lost one. I always win. From the first one ever till the ones I am going to do tonight: all wins.

You see, competition is teaching me what I need to improve on. It shows me when my techniques are weak and ineffectual. It shows me I have to work a lot more before I am ``good''. That's why I win all the time. It's a learning tool. Nothing more, nothing less.

As to winning tin cups... I can buy those at the corner shop. As for being the hardest melon farmer before 25; I know that everyone listens to reason(TM) -- Yes, It's a Snow Crash reference.

The people who understand, understand prefectly.
yann@york-aikido.org York Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-09-2005, 10:36 AM   #21
Amir Krause
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Re: Competition in Aikido

One can practice Randori as light sparring without competition. Randori as a free game, with both sides initiating on their own does not imply competition.


The same goes for competition and ego - one does not force the other, you can have competitions and have inflated ego, competing only against inferior opponents, or do some other manipulation to inflate your ego (One can hang his ego on one minor success when deciding the competitor was vastly superior). Or you could use the competition as a learning tool, keep fighting against better opponents, loose all the time and keep your ego down.

The same is true for non competitive groups. One can inflate his ego due to his success with a compliant partner, or check his ego and keep feeling frustrated at his poor level, after asking that cooperative partner to give him a harder life and a more realistic feedback (In the last couple of weeks, I am improving one technique using such practice. I don't gloat at success; I just ask to raise the difficulty level to one I can learn from).

A competition can be a test for some techniques, but one can not learn to improve the technique through it. A good uke can help you to do both.


Amir
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Old 02-09-2005, 10:40 AM   #22
TheWonderKid
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Quote:
Mark Johnston wrote:
What ego? Who has ego problems?

If I may add...there does seem to be a problem of implication here. (Not necessarily in your posts, Owen)

It seems to be implied that anyone taking part in 'competition' has ego issues. And by extension it is being implied that people who do not take part in 'competition' do not have any ego issues.
Well yes, I was continuing on that train of thought that had been introduced eariler in the thread. The original post mentioned how a butt-kicking would curb one's ego. I just wanted to point out that this may not be the case. It could also simply breed resentment.
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Old 02-10-2005, 02:12 PM   #23
Aiki LV
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Everyone has different reasons for training. For me I don't believe competition in aikido is a positive thing. It changes the whole atmosphere of training. The attitude changes from a "we" centered interaction to a "self-centered" action. It simply comes down to whether you perfer a sport or an art.
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Old 02-11-2005, 05:49 AM   #24
bogglefreak20
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Re: Competition in Aikido

One of the most important reasons I started training in Ki Aikido was the fact that there are no competitions. Such practice still remains in our dojo and our sensei keeps repeating that we train in order to win over our own faults not to win over someone else. I agree completely knowing also that other schools and other people have different views on the subject in question.

Personaly I do not see the point of Aikido competition. Not because they couldn't be done but because IMO they would miss the point. Those who disagree may of course compete as much as they like or feel the need to.

Beatus Qui Venit In Nomine Domini!
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Old 02-11-2005, 06:14 AM   #25
mj
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Re: Competition in Aikido

Everyone is entitled to their own form of practice. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion too.

Aiki LV may feel that my practice is self-centred and selfish, that is up to her. She may decide that because I train differently..it is no longer Aikido but just a sport, that again is up to her.

I can't honestly say that I am comfortable with some of the views expressed here. But there you go...live and let live I say.

And of course Boggle must be correct as well when saying that only Boggle's training allows Boggle to overcome Boggles faults. My training is much too self -centred for that and, in fact, makes me a worse person.

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