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  #26  
Old 01-22-2009, 09:48 AM
Stefan Stenudd
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The Challenge of Not Competing

Aikido is non-competitive. That's easy to say. The practice is not about defeating an opponent, but about both participants being victorious by finding a truly peaceful solution and growing as human beings in the process. That, too, is easy to say.

Still, there's a lot of competing...
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Last edited by akiy : 01-14-2009 at 07:11 PM.
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Old 06-24-2009, 06:58 AM   #25
JO
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Brad Medling wrote: View Post
IOne of my degrees is a masters in biology and I can't believe I worded it that way so, let me rephrase my point. You CAN change how Darwin's theory is observed and whether the theory is a socially implemented ideal in your lifestyle.
That's two of us. I also have an M.Sc. in biology. My point, or one of them anyway, is that social Darwinists have a simplistic, superficial and flawed understanding not only of modern evolutionary biology, but also of Darwin's original theory. They really shouldn't be associated with his name in my opinion.

Jonathan Olson
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Old 06-24-2009, 07:00 AM   #26
Ron Tisdale
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Stefan Stenudd wrote: View Post
Ron, the discussion has grown, in every meaning of the word, so you may have missed that the illustration of Darwin as half-ape was what I used for my column above. It's from his days. There were many such caricatures published in the newspapers to mock his theory.
The press was just as cruel back then as it is now.

As for the long discussion, I read it with delight and can only say: I agree with you all
I have the impression that we are discussing the two sides of the same coin. I might be wrong.
Yes, I caught that, which is why I linked to it again. One of my sad attempts at humor. You may not have seen the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"...in one scene the KKK grand dragon is giving a speach and refers to Darwinism as "people who say we are descended from monkeys"...and then "That's not my culture and herritage...".

I guess if you have to explain it...

As to competition in aikido, well...I've seen some very competitive aikido (and played one myself at times) in supposedly non-competitive dojo. Sometimes I think we are just fooling ourselves. I don't think competition is all bad, and I don't think non-competition is all good. The middle road usually seems more comfortable to me.

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 06-24-2009, 11:12 AM   #27
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Smile Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Jonathan Olson wrote: View Post
I don't have much to comment about the first part of your post, but I have some questions about the above section.

And how do you incorporate competition into aikido? You say you compete in aikido, but from checking out the dojo you have listed in you profile I see that it is and Aikikai (ASU) dojo. I guess I had been expecting a Shodokan dojo or the like. What does it mean for you to compete in aikido?

I think one can "test" one's aikido without competing or completely letting go of the type of interaction aikido is about. That sense of creating a connection with the other. I personnally am a fan of increasing the focus and intensity of attacks, doing more jiyu waza and working with less cooperative and less predictable ukes. But I try to stay away from turning it into a competition, where, by definition, there is something to win and something to lose. Not because this will eliminate competition from my existence, but because I feel it will help me train myself in such a way as to make me more at peace with everyone and everything around me.
At Emory, we compete as a means of evaluating our ability to execute a technique, or priniciple, or whatever. In a more true definition, we are checking ourselves for competency executing a technique, or priniciple, or whatever. We may play judo, we may set up a sparring scenario or we may simply allow nage a number of techniques to apply against uke without uke's prior knowledge. All of these situations provide some means of critically evaluating technical skill executing a technique. I am convinced good aikido works in these scenarios, so if our aikido breaks down...keep training I suppose.
I love that kind of training because I get to see which students excel at striking, or grappling, or being obstenant, or being aggressive, or whatever - I learn something just watching...

Competition has a winner and loser because we choose to recognize those classes. Nobody ever got an award for 42nd place in anything, but it is a class distinction just as first, second, or third place. Competency is a descriptive quality which draws upon recognizing one's ability to [at minimum] adequately perform a qualitative function. I strive to achieve competency in everything I do; if I excel at something, I may choose to compete against others to evaluate my level of competency.

Who would ever want to be uke if we distinguished winners and losers in aikido?

Last edited by jonreading : 06-24-2009 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 06-24-2009, 12:10 PM   #28
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
At Emory, we compete as a means of evaluating our ability to execute a technique, or priniciple, or whatever. In a more true definition, we are checking ourselves for competency executing a technique, or priniciple, or whatever. We may play judo, we may set up a sparring scenario or we may simply allow nage a number of techniques to apply against uke without uke's prior knowledge. All of these situations provide some means of critically evaluating technical skill executing a technique. I am convinced good aikido works in these scenarios, so if our aikido breaks down...keep training I suppose.
I love that kind of training because I get to see which students excel at striking, or grappling, or being obstenant, or being aggressive, or whatever - I learn something just watching...

Competition has a winner and loser because we choose to recognize those classes. Nobody ever got an award for 42nd place in anything, but it is a class distinction just as first, second, or third place. Competency is a descriptive quality which draws upon recognizing one's ability to [at minimum] adequately perform a qualitative function. I strive to achieve competency in everything I do; if I excel at something, I may choose to compete against others to evaluate my level of competency.

Who would ever want to be uke if we distinguished winners and losers in aikido?
Jon,

You and Kevin are making too much sense for some people on this thread. The truth hurts and poor excuses to not have to feel a little discomfort is being overshadow with poor excuses. Apparently some are not into competency. That's what makes the difference between truth and falsehood. I agree with your statements, thanks for sharing.
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Old 06-24-2009, 12:10 PM   #29
Ron Tisdale
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

Quote:
Who would ever want to be uke if we distinguished winners and losers in aikido?
Me! I love the air time...
Best,
Ron (frequent flyer miles so rock!)

Ron Tisdale
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Old 06-24-2009, 02:03 PM   #30
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
You may not have seen the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"...in one scene the KKK grand dragon is giving a speach and refers to Darwinism as "people who say we are descended from monkeys"...and then "That's not my culture and herritage...".

I guess if you have to explain it...
What's to explain ? 'Body's got-tuh-have som'at-dair deeeep-fryed Eye-Key-Dough Hoo--eee!

Quote:
Everett: What'd the devil give you for your soul, Tommy?

Tommy : Well, he taught me to play this here guitar real good.

Delmar : Oh son, for that you sold your everlasting soul?

Tommy: Well, I wasn't usin' it.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 06-24-2009, 02:58 PM   #31
JO
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Competition has a winner and loser because we choose to recognize those classes. Nobody ever got an award for 42nd place in anything, but it is a class distinction just as first, second, or third place.
Actually, having a winner and a loser is the definition of a competitve interaction. Without those "classes", it is not a competition. By definition for it to be a competiton, there has to be something you are competing for, food, a mate, a job, a trophy, bragging rights, whatever.

If I am doing some jiyu waza training and I ask my partner to attack strongly and try to counter my techniques, that doesn't mean I am competing with him. If I am sucessful at keeping him off or controlling him, I haven't won anything and he hasn't lost anything. Competition might make it possible to formalize and structure these interactions in some good ways, but it would also change the nature of the interaction, and in my opinion, the nature of that art itself.

BTW. This is not a value judgement of you or your dojo. The training you describe honestly sounds like a lot of fun.

Jonathan Olson
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Old 06-24-2009, 03:38 PM   #32
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Jonathan Olson wrote: View Post
Actually, having a winner and a loser is the definition of a competitve interaction. Without those "classes", it is not a competition. By definition for it to be a competiton, there has to be something you are competing for, food, a mate, a job, a trophy, bragging rights, whatever.

If I am doing some jiyu waza training and I ask my partner to attack strongly and try to counter my techniques, that doesn't mean I am competing with him. If I am sucessful at keeping him off or controlling him, I haven't won anything and he hasn't lost anything. Competition might make it possible to formalize and structure these interactions in some good ways, but it would also change the nature of the interaction, and in my opinion, the nature of that art itself.
Dualisms are dicey. Like the goban or the chessboard -- those are games with two sides in opposition, but not in the sense of competition, exactly -- unless for other stakes, as you suggest. Chess and Go are like war -- one does not really win -- one survives, locally and globally. He who survives with the most, most often, and the longest, gets what's left when we are done.

The play is the thing that occupies our interest, not the result itself, for then the game is over, and if we wanted the game over, why did we decide to play? Delaying a result is part of the game -- mainly for learning how to know at any given moment on which side of the cusp of death or survival you are while the game is still on -- that is always the real lesson in games such as these -- Aikido included.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 06-24-2009, 07:41 PM   #33
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

My earlier definition of competition is actually a little narrow. Competition is the interaction where two or more entities are vying for a limited resource.

I guess you don't necessarily have a winner or loser in the sense that if there are sufficient resources they can be split more or less evenly in a "draw". Though I can't think of any competitive martial arts/sportfighting systems that allow for ties.

Jonathan Olson
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Old 06-24-2009, 10:13 PM   #34
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

Interesting discussion.

Imho competition is a mirror - it reflects certain truths about those involved in it.

By its very nature one is placed under varying levels of pressure that requires one to perform at levels that one may never achieve if not for the effects of said pressure.

The thing is that pressure can have different effects depending on characters of the persons involved - some become selfish, others become selfless, many are somewhere in between. There are those who may be willing to cheat or injure his opponent to ensure victory, another may use the opportunity to develop a level of skill where the destructive approach is not necessary.

To me the self-development aspect of Aikido is all about improving the quality of the entire reflection in the mirror (i.e. the total self). It is up to me to decide whether I become selfish or self-less under pressure; or whether I destroy or create when challenged out of my comfort zone.

To some, breaking the mirror may serve their purpose equally well as the actual image is no longer seen and they can then create whatever reflection they want in their own mind. This becomes their personal truth, but it is not an objective truth and may become undone when met with certain challenges. The result is insularity.

I like Kevin's earlier post regarding accountability and authenticity. I think it is very apt in this context.

Just my 2 cents.
LC

Last edited by L. Camejo : 06-24-2009 at 10:21 PM.

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Old 06-26-2009, 06:47 AM   #35
Ron Tisdale
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Though I can't think of any competitive martial arts/sportfighting systems that allow for ties.
Boxing: Known as a draw
UFC: Known as a draw
Kickboxing: Known as a draw

I'm trying to remember back to my wrestling days if they had draws in collegiate wresling. I don't think so, but hey, that was a long time ago. I'd have to check if olympic freestyle and grecco roman allow for draws.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 06-26-2009, 08:34 AM   #36
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Boxing: Known as a draw
UFC: Known as a draw
Kickboxing: Known as a draw

I'm trying to remember back to my wrestling days if they had draws in collegiate wresling. I don't think so, but hey, that was a long time ago. I'd have to check if olympic freestyle and grecco roman allow for draws.

Best,
Ron
Just goes to show how little I know. It always seems to me the judges usually find some reason to decide on a winner. (I'm guessing you don't tend to get draws decided by KO, TKO or submission though I suppose a a mutual knockout is technically possible).

Jonathan Olson
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Old 07-01-2009, 06:33 AM   #37
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

There seems to be an obsession with the idea of "not competing" in aikido circles, that I think goes beyond what Ueshiba had in mind.

Competition is not an evil thing. I was brought up in a culture where it was (and is) considered character building to play competitive sport. I would argue that team sports offer opportunities for aspects of character improvement that are totally absent in martial arts practice.

It is true that weaknesses in some people's characters will be exposed - bullying or cheating for example - but equally it can test how you react under pressure and whether you have a bit of guts and determination.

It is also true that some professional sports people do not readily display those aspects of behaviour that we would perhaps like. But I have worked with several that have been some of the most positive people I've ever met, and that do exemplify the best that competition can bring out in a person.

Obsession over the word is counterproductive, IMO. Get out there and test yourself.
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Old 07-01-2009, 06:45 AM   #38
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Jim Cooper wrote: View Post
There seems to be an obsession with the idea of "not competing" in aikido circles, that I think goes beyond what Ueshiba had in mind.
Hello Mr Cooper,

So what do you think Morihei Ueshiba had in mind?

I have read all the texts in Japanese (and I actually believe that Ueshiba's view was misguided), but I am curious to hear what your general impression is of Morihei Ueshiba's view on competition in aikido.

Best wishes,

PAG

P A Goldsbury
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Old 07-02-2009, 06:24 AM   #39
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
So what do you think Morihei Ueshiba had in mind?
Hard to be sure, because he was a pretty weird bloke :-)

But I don't think he meant that techniques should not be tested. A lot of aikidoka obsess over this "non-competition" stuff (aka "not fighting", which was another thread a while back), with the result that uke always cooperates, and they end up doing "happy dance" aikido.

If that makes the people doing it happy, then OK, but it is no longer a martial art, IMO. Going the other way, I also believe that turning a MA into a competitive sport (eg judo, karate, TKD) diminishes the art (and Ueshiba may have thought that too).

The only stuff of Ueshiba's I've read (always in translation, as what little Japanese I once had is long gone) that seems different from what other MA masters of the same period (Kano, Funakoshi, etc) had to say is this "budo is love" business.

I'm not quite sure how to take that, myself (although I suspect it would help to be a highly skilled, weird little Japanese bloke <g>).

I don't think it's the same thing as "not competing", though. All the old guys say the same stuff about not meeting force with force[1], hitting something hard with something soft[2], mushin/not focussing on winning, etc as well as character development. I think it's more likely Ueshiba meant (at least mostly) the same things.

[1] Karate people tend to forget this one :-)
[2] Aikido people tend to forget this works both ways. And also about the hitting part :-)
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Old 07-02-2009, 06:57 AM   #40
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
I have read all the texts in Japanese (and I actually believe that Ueshiba's view was misguided)

Best wishes,

PAG
Hello Peter,

English can be such a hard language to understand at times. If you wouldn't mind, would you please clarify it for me? From the bold part (my contribution), do you mean:

A) that you believe that Ueshiba's view was misguided in that you are referring directly to Ueshiba?

or

B) that you believe from reading the texts that others have a misguided sense of Ueshiba's views?

Maybe I'm just being dense, but I had a hard time deciding which you meant. Literally, I'd have to go with A. But, in an overall sense, you are talking about reading the texts, so B is possible.

Thank you,
Mark
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Old 07-02-2009, 07:14 AM   #41
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Jim Cooper wrote: View Post
Hard to be sure, because he was a pretty weird bloke :-)

But I don't think he meant that techniques should not be tested. A lot of aikidoka obsess over this "non-competition" stuff (aka "not fighting", which was another thread a while back), with the result that uke always cooperates, and they end up doing "happy dance" aikido.

If that makes the people doing it happy, then OK, but it is no longer a martial art, IMO. Going the other way, I also believe that turning a MA into a competitive sport (eg judo, karate, TKD) diminishes the art (and Ueshiba may have thought that too).

The only stuff of Ueshiba's I've read (always in translation, as what little Japanese I once had is long gone) that seems different from what other MA masters of the same period (Kano, Funakoshi, etc) had to say is this "budo is love" business.

I'm not quite sure how to take that, myself (although I suspect it would help to be a highly skilled, weird little Japanese bloke <g>).

I don't think it's the same thing as "not competing", though. All the old guys say the same stuff about not meeting force with force[1], hitting something hard with something soft[2], mushin/not focussing on winning, etc as well as character development. I think it's more likely Ueshiba meant (at least mostly) the same things.

[1] Karate people tend to forget this one :-)
[2] Aikido people tend to forget this works both ways. And also about the hitting part :-)
Well, from training in internal skills, which I call aiki, I find that once I start thinking about uke and the effect uke is trying to have upon me, I lose. In other words, once my mind starts defining me and my actions in relation to another person, I have competition and I lose. Let me define that a bit more. When I say "competition", I do not mean it in the very strict sense of the word as used in Judo Competition, UFC Competition, etc. I'm defining it in a very ego centric sense in that it is related to me only.

Once my mind lets go of uke and uke's actions upon me, I find that things work. (In the limited sense that I'm not very skilled at aiki yet.) In push tests, the more I am focused on uke or uke's push, the less I am stable. That internal competition is a type of thinking that disrupts aiki. There must be no competition within me. And when I am fully vested in what I'm doing with aiki (internal skills), then uke disappears and there is only one body. I liken it to Ueshiba when he talks about being the bridge between heaven and earth. If my intent is strong upwards, then I can be the heavens over uke. If my intent is strong downwards, then I can be the earth under uke. I become the bridge between both and since uke now becomes a part of me, he/she then becomes the person/spirit traveling the bridge.

The bonus to all that is that I'm also not meeting force with force. I'm using aiki to split, redirect, store, ground, etc all the incoming force. On the opposite side, once I start thinking of uke and what uke is doing, I start to meet force with force.

Now, tactically, there is also a version of no competition that I think is being used. There is a thread at another board that someone posted some very useful information about this idea.

Quote:
The idea is that you never receive on a straight angle.
You are receiving along points on the arc. No arc? Make one. Therefore there is always a tangential meeting where you can receive and feed along any point on that arc. You can even make it appear to be linear-eve though it isn't.
and

Quote:
If you think of a straight line hitting an arc at any point it may help. The contact point becomes the pivot point or nuetral point. lets say it's the middle of the forearm. If the elbow moves negatively, then the wrist or hand moves positively proscribing the arc around the person.
In essence, you're creating no competition by using circles. You don't meet force with force. Sound familiar? In one way, it's very good tactical jujutsu skills when you move the body around physically. Add in aiki and you suddenly have a very strong, powerful skill set like Ueshiba had. All the while espousing no competition, never meet force on force, etc.
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Old 07-02-2009, 07:55 AM   #42
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Jim Cooper wrote: View Post
Hard to be sure, because he was a pretty weird bloke :-)

But I don't think he meant that techniques should not be tested. A lot of aikidoka obsess over this "non-competition" stuff (aka "not fighting", which was another thread a while back), with the result that uke always cooperates, and they end up doing "happy dance" aikido.
FWIW, this problem (quite real) and the problem of competing are from one and the same cause -- mistaking effects for causes. In the case of happy dance, because good aiki seems nearly effortless, there is an innate desire to ape the effects -- in olden days this was called "sympathetic magic." In competition, because the effect of good aiki is devastating to a committed, powerful attack, similarly, the one trying to compete is trying to muster the same devastating effect in displayed power -- and so is also committing the same mistake.

I liken aiki to a scene in a play. The characters are set and the scene is staged and all the props are in their places and as the the two combatants begin to engage, one of them turns and breaks the plane of the action and begins a conversation with the audience -- "breaking the fourth wall." Action becomes "out of plane." It is not so much that the other character's role has changed, or that the scenery is other than what it was, but all that is now background to a completely different interaction, in which what was seemingly primary and real becomes background and almost irrelevant.

Quote:
Jim Cooper wrote: View Post
I don't think it's the same thing as "not competing", though. All the old guys say the same stuff about not meeting force with force[1], hitting something hard with something soft[2], mushin/not focussing on winning, etc as well as character development. I think it's more likely Ueshiba meant (at least mostly) the same things.

[1] Karate people tend to forget this one :-)
[2] Aikido people tend to forget this works both ways. And also about the hitting part :-)
In physical terms, it is taking two counter-leverages that are pinning one another in a plane and releasing the developed shear between them -- out of plane. It is not making the combined, competing structures "do work" against one another -- it is allowing the conjoined structure to fail from that shear at critical junctures where it is not supported (on his side of the connection) and then riding the shape of the failure of all the successive supports. Like the controlled demolition of a building -- good aiki is not competing to throw the building down, but to progressively shear off its facility of standing up -- it is assuming the command of some of the opponent's support -- statically or dynamically, and then collapsing it -- but cleverly.

I agree about strikes. Good strikes in Aikido have that sort of progressive collapsing-building character about them. Like getting hit by a sheet of lead chain mail, it is hard to isolate and shrug off, because it progressively envelops everything.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 07-02-2009, 08:02 AM   #43
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

To Jim Cooper, Mark Murray,

The more I read Morihei Ueshiba, the more I am coming to believe that the English translations of his discourses fall short of transmitting what he actually stated--and also what he meant--to those who cannot read him in Japanese. Hence my question to Mr Cooper.

In his discourses, Ueshiba uses two Japanese terms and both are usually translated in English as 'competition'. However, the terms are quite different in meaning and the translations do not make this clear. The terms are 競争 (kyoso) and 試合 (shiai).

Shiai is competition in the sense of a tournament, such as those held at the Olympics, with referees & judges, who have flags or hold up score cards. Ueshiba was adamant that this sort of thing was totally incompatible with aikido as he understood the art.

Kyoso is something far less structured and is best translated as rivalry. It is what Toyota, Nissan and Honda do to increase their market share. It is the state of mind that lies behind rivalry between sportsmen. It can be quite nasty, but it can also be quite friendly and constructive.

Since Ueshiba always stated that aikido was not about winning and losing, his obvious approval of the desire to excel, always to be better than the next man, is usually left unexamined. However, although he never competed in tournaments (which he equated with western sports and thus with a complete lack of understanding of Japanese budo culture), Ueshiba's entire life embodied the importance of kyoso. If the biographies are to be believed, he practised kyoso all his life. He took on all comers and he beat them.


To Mark Murray,

Why do I state that Ueshiba himself was misguided (which is what I actually mean)? I think his view of western sports was far too negative. In the Takemusu Aiki discourses, there is evidence of a very narrow view of western sports, which he believed was dominated by excessive individualism, and a desire to win that would certainly diminish the human personality.

Do not forget that Ueshiba saw himself standing on the Floating Bridge of Heaven as a messenger from the divine world. As such, his mission was to achieve harmony among the three worlds (divine, human, and the world in between) via AIKI, understood as aikido.

Ueshiba constantly talks of aikido as developing the upper part of the soul (which would go to heaven after death) and not the lower part (which would go to the lower world). He complained that the Japanese military trained the martial arts in the wrong way (which favored the lower part of the soul). Western sports were way below even this way.

So I believe that his view of western sports was completely wrong. Misguided was the term I used because I suspect that Ueshiba lacked the information needed to make a balanced judgment. But he also had a clear view of the differences between western sports, as he understood this, and Japanese budo (even though the latter involved kyoso).

Best wishes,

PAG

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 07-02-2009 at 08:05 AM.

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Old 07-02-2009, 08:47 AM   #44
dps
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Kyoso is something far less structured and is best translated as rivalry. It is what Toyota, Nissan and Honda do to increase their market share. It is the state of mind that lies behind rivalry between sportsmen. It can be quite nasty, but it can also be quite friendly and constructive.

Since Ueshiba always stated that aikido was not about winning and losing, his obvious approval of the desire to excel, always to be better than the next man, is usually left unexamined. However, although he never competed in tournaments (which he equated with western sports and thus with a complete lack of understanding of Japanese budo culture), Ueshiba's entire life embodied the importance of kyoso. If the biographies are to be believed, he practised kyoso all his life. He took on all comers and he beat them.
YES !!!
Excellently stated.

David
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Old 07-02-2009, 08:51 AM   #45
MM
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
To Jim Cooper, Mark Murray,

The more I read Morihei Ueshiba, the more I am coming to believe that the English translations of his discourses fall short of transmitting what he actually stated--and also what he meant--to those who cannot read him in Japanese. Hence my question to Mr Cooper.

In his discourses, Ueshiba uses two Japanese terms and both are usually translated in English as 'competition'. However, the terms are quite different in meaning and the translations do not make this clear. The terms are 競争 (kyoso) and 試合 (shiai).

Shiai is competition in the sense of a tournament, such as those held at the Olympics, with referees & judges, who have flags or hold up score cards. Ueshiba was adamant that this sort of thing was totally incompatible with aikido as he understood the art.

Kyoso is something far less structured and is best translated as rivalry. It is what Toyota, Nissan and Honda do to increase their market share. It is the state of mind that lies behind rivalry between sportsmen. It can be quite nasty, but it can also be quite friendly and constructive.

Since Ueshiba always stated that aikido was not about winning and losing, his obvious approval of the desire to excel, always to be better than the next man, is usually left unexamined. However, although he never competed in tournaments (which he equated with western sports and thus with a complete lack of understanding of Japanese budo culture), Ueshiba's entire life embodied the importance of kyoso. If the biographies are to be believed, he practised kyoso all his life. He took on all comers and he beat them.

To Mark Murray,

Why do I state that Ueshiba himself was misguided (which is what I actually mean)? I think his view of western sports was far too negative. In the Takemusu Aiki discourses, there is evidence of a very narrow view of western sports, which he believed was dominated by excessive individualism, and a desire to win that would certainly diminish the human personality.

Do not forget that Ueshiba saw himself standing on the Floating Bridge of Heaven as a messenger from the divine world. As such, his mission was to achieve harmony among the three worlds (divine, human, and the world in between) via AIKI, understood as aikido.

Ueshiba constantly talks of aikido as developing the upper part of the soul (which would go to heaven after death) and not the lower part (which would go to the lower world). He complained that the Japanese military trained the martial arts in the wrong way (which favored the lower part of the soul). Western sports were way below even this way.

So I believe that his view of western sports was completely wrong. Misguided was the term I used because I suspect that Ueshiba lacked the information needed to make a balanced judgment. But he also had a clear view of the differences between western sports, as he understood this, and Japanese budo (even though the latter involved kyoso).

Best wishes,

PAG
Thank you for posting more of your thoughts and clearing up my confusion. But, please, for my sanity, call me Mark. When I see my full name up there, I find it weird. Almost as weird as being called Mr. Murray. While the Internet is certainly no substitute for a live environment, it still seems weird that after a certain point to still be called by my whole name or by Mister. I'm sure that in person, I would use formalities since we really don't know each other, however, here on the Internet, it creates a different atmosphere of sorts. I hope by using Peter, I'm not going too far.

As to kyoso, I find it apt. It is certainly something I have been doing with my peers. I find myself wanting to be better than them as I train, but not in a nasty or hostile way.

I've been part of the U.S. Military in two separate branches, Army Guard and active Air Force. I think that I would agree with Ueshiba in that the U.S. military doesn't train in a martial arts manner. Training is on killing the other person and staying alive, but in a more regimented, follow superior's orders kind of manner. I would classify that kind of training as below martial arts.

As to sports venues. Yeah, I guess I agree with Ueshiba. It's below the military training. I don't see Olympic Judo or UFC as being near military training in regards to martial arts. At least in the U.S. military, you learn group tactics, military strategy, tactical use of current weapons, some unarmed combat, demolitions, etc. Whereas, sport competition is extremely limited and strictly regulated. In the U.S. military, you learn to live and yes, die, for your country. It's an ideal and a way of life. What does western sport have that compares? Gold medals for your country?

I don't know exactly what Ueshiba's views were since I have to rely too much upon previously translated material. But, I do know that I am very, very grateful to your insights and posts. They mesh a whole lot more with what I'm learning and understanding about aiki/internal skills.

Thank you,
Mark
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Old 07-03-2009, 09:41 AM   #46
JimCooper
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Sound familiar?
Yep. Like I said, AFAICT all (the older, anyway) martial arts say almost identical things about "competition/fighting" in that sense (as do a number of sports, because it's just good application of physics).
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Old 07-03-2009, 09:54 AM   #47
JimCooper
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Shiai is competition in the sense of a tournament
I'm familiar with that term, but not kyoso, so thanks for the explanation. The shiai form of competition can diminish a martial art, IMO, as it removes the aspects that differentiate it from a sport.

However, I come from a culture where competitive sport has always been seen as character building (although some professional athletes may not demonstrate that <vbg>). And I would argue that team sports provide opportunities in that regard that are missing from the martial arts.

Competitiveness can get out of hand though, and Ueshiba wasn't the only MA master of his generation to have reservations about it. Towards the end of his life, Funakoshi (introduced karate to the rest of Japan from Okinawa) was concerned he had done the wrong thing in introducing competition into karate, too.

Personally, I don't really have an issue with competitive "martial arts", although I'm not interested in them myself. But I don't think they should really be called "martial arts" anymore (martial sports, maybe).
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Old 07-03-2009, 10:03 AM   #48
JimCooper
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
What does western sport have that compares? Gold medals for your country?
I think it's a mistake to evaluate sport by only looking at the very highest level. Almost nobody competes there, and in professional sports, I'm not sure that's always where you would find the best role models either :-)

Also, I think you have touched on 3 different things - military training, martial arts training, and sport. (The MAs that we practice today are no longer military, in general - IMO - although they may have that in their heritage somewhere.)

I believe that classing these pursuits as "higher" and "lower" is misleading.

I don't believe any of them necessarily make you a better (or worse) person, although they all have that potential.
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Old 07-03-2009, 10:45 AM   #49
Erick Mead
 
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Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

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Jim Cooper wrote: View Post
I think it's a mistake to evaluate sport by only looking at the very highest level. Almost nobody competes there, and in professional sports, I'm not sure that's always where you would find the best role models either :-)

Also, I think you have touched on 3 different things - military training, martial arts training, and sport. (The MAs that we practice today are no longer military, in general - IMO - although they may have that in their heritage somewhere.)

I believe that classing these pursuits as "higher" and "lower" is misleading.

I don't believe any of them necessarily make you a better (or worse) person, although they all have that potential.
Here's a thought on that point -- worth thinking about in terms of social value beyond mere pleasure, but also I think, in agreement with Mark, those are purposes distinct from the means or purposes of martial arts.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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