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Old 03-19-2010, 11:38 AM   #26
bulevardi
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Re: Funakogi Undo

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote:
But... I think of other things. Chanting in church. How that chanting can be shown to calm the nerves, changes physiologic properties, alter things that are said to be autonomic. Is the chanting bringing you closer to God? Or is it a practice that allows one to calm and achieve a different type of consciousness? And through that different type of perception do we not see things differently and possibly find things we were incapable of seeing before?
I understand that you can calm the nerves and get in a different type of consciousness by chanting.
But you can chant non-religious songs outside the church aswel, they can get you in the same type of consciousness.
What I'm trying to say is that you can do the same exercise without the spiritual thought like God or being in a church.
I can play guitar at home in my room, getting me into a special state of being, but I don't have to be on stage to feel that same magic.

As Koichi Tohei said: "you can do breathing exercises sitting in seiza in a dojo before a white wall, but you can practice the same breathing exercises sitting elsewhere for example when seated in your car on a parking."

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote:
I remember one day feeling a sort of "pulling" along the outside of my arm, up into my shoulders, then down into my center. If I didn't curl the fingers down the sensation went away. I remember thinking "ah, I wonder if that's the feeling sensei is talking about when he says you need to feel your ki flow and feel connected".
That's because some movements bring you in a special state of being after repeatedly doing the same movement. Like runners who get runners high after running a long time. Endorphines.
Like getting an orgasm after repeatedly touching the special spot on your body,... etc.

Of course, things can happen in your body when your thought is there too. If for a long time, you think of getting a headache, finally you'll achieve a headache. If you concentrate long enough on something imaginary, you can get it in your head. It's all in your head.
Like I can generate a pain in my feet just by using my mind. It has nothing to do with a spiritual thing.
Like people can get cured from a pain by taking fake-meds like placebo. It is all in your head.

If you concentrate long enough hoping to feel that ki flow through your body, finally it will happen, together with the techniques you need for it. But it has nothing to do with universal power or supernatural things they assume in Shinto, Oomoto Kyo,...

I'm just trying to approach the same Aikido techniques as martial art, but without the belief.
Like some basketball player says you only can obtain a slamdunk when you belief in paradygm X, until someone can approach a technique to obtain a slamdunk without believing paradygm X. (by training, breathing, or claiming a basketball contains Ki)

Quote:
C. David Henderson wrote:
I think you're oversimplifying what has been said about the dual nature of the exercises. If, however, the "spiritual" is a turn off for you, maybe you just politely shake your hands while mentally going through your shopping list.
Perhaps I'm oversimplifying, but I think I rather politely shake hands and go mental furthermore

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Old 03-19-2010, 12:40 PM   #27
Fred Little
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
In my sword craft work one thing I was told repeatedly was that you must be *very* careful about deviating from the traditional methods. Because often the traditional methods involve thousands of small things that you may not even be aware of. Why the hole in the nakago of a sword is drilled larger than the pins used to hold the sword together is a good example. All production companies drill them in place. Many craftsmen outside Japan drill them in place (i.e., the hole in the handle is the same as the hole in the nakago). It turns out that it is a very bad idea long term in terms of being able to keep the handle tight because it negates the ability to do something very simple to quickly tighten the handle. But if you don't realize this tiny detail it is something you could easily discard as "unnecessary" tradition. But it isn't. It turns out to be a tiny detail that is very important. Just not when it is done. I think a lot of what we learn is like that.
Keith,

Thank you for making a key point accessible in concrete terms.

As for Mark's point about millions of people, etc., etc., I would just say that the difference between sample of {all people who have done aikido in the last fifty years} and the sample of {all people who have done misogi-no-gyo in a lineage within the aiki arts that has taken to heart the kind of caution about deviation from traditional methods that Keith writes about, wrt to both the mng and to aikido keiko} is the difference between a seven-digit number a low four or high three-digit number. If you further constrain the second set to long time practitioners of aiki arts, you may well be down to a two-digit number, and if you restrict the sample to the United States, it is certainly a comparatively low two-digit number. If you further reduce that sample with the additional qualifier {who trained as long and as hard as the Founder} I don't know if there's anyone left in the set to compare.

Seriously,

FL

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Old 03-19-2010, 12:43 PM   #28
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
I come from a family of scientists,
....
This was an excellent post. Many thanks!

Pat
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Old 03-19-2010, 12:49 PM   #29
bulevardi
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Didn't Ueshiba state that no one had to follow his footsteps?
Then, why did he taught his knowledge to others so they could spread it further after his death?

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Old 03-19-2010, 02:29 PM   #30
Keith Larman
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Dirk Desmet wrote: View Post
I can play guitar at home in my room, getting me into a special state of being, but I don't have to be on stage to feel that same magic.

As Koichi Tohei said: "you can do breathing exercises sitting in seiza in a dojo before a white wall, but you can practice the same breathing exercises sitting elsewhere for example when seated in your car on a parking."
Oh, I get where you're coming from. The problem, however, is knowing if you really are in the same state. Or if you really are doing the same thing. Or if you are missing things. So you start dropping bits here and there that you, as the person who is trying to learn, decides aren't relevant. But as a student are you qualified to decide what's relevant and what's not? It is a bit of a paradox and it does cut to the heart of the intent of shu-ha-ri. It is a valuable lesson.

I'm reminded of this constantly by people bringing me totally fake "japanese" swords that they found on ebay or elsewhere. These guys are usually completely convinced they've found some lost treasure. They see a hamon, hada, and all the things that they've seen in pictures and on-line. What I see when I look at the piece is a horrid blob of steel that looks *nothing* like the real deal. How can our perceptions be so different? Simple. They've not experienced enough good swords to have learned to see the differences. Maybe they've only seen photos, but sometimes these same guys *have* seen good swords. But they simply aren't equipped yet to *really* see what was right in front of them.

So... Tread softly. I usually remind myself that I'm learning this stuff. And as such I'm the last person who should be deciding what's relevant and what's not so I try to learn as much as I can with as open a mind as possible. And I must say, after a lot of years I'm starting to see and feel things I would have discounted out of hand 10 or 15 years ago. Things that were always there. I just see them differently now and understand them differently. And I've very glad I didn't just toss them out. My understanding may be different than what I was told back then or even today, but I'm willing to let these things be. I just wonder what I'll be saying in another 5 or 10...

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Old 03-19-2010, 03:03 PM   #31
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Dirk Desmet wrote: View Post
Then, why did he taught his knowledge to others so they could spread it further after his death?
many would argue that he did not...
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Old 03-19-2010, 06:04 PM   #32
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
many would argue that he did not...
He taught his student's aikido. He didn't teach them to be him.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 03-20-2010, 05:42 AM   #33
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Re: Funakogi Undo

It was not an uncommon thing to hide the meaning or the teaching of martial arts using religious explanation so that enemies or competing schools could not steal.
I think that the residual of this old practice is that some take the spiritual explanations too literal and do not understand the information that is hidden.

David
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Old 03-20-2010, 08:18 AM   #34
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Re: Funakogi Undo

Funakogi undo is rather standard, especially in USAF dojos.

As to the 2nd exercise, you'll find it at the end of many exercises. I've studied in both Ki Society and Aikikai, and it's been in every dojo I've been in. I've heard it called setting the ki, seating the ki, stirring the ki, and sinking the ki. It's not spiritual, especially for you as you do not hold to any of the faiths it may have come from.

It's an exercise to draw your movements and your mind to your center. It's one of the many things various senseis use for calming and focus, drawing you to your center.

Tom
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Old 03-20-2010, 10:07 AM   #35
bulevardi
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Do we know or understand what Ueshiba was doing when he did funakogi undo and furitama?

We already know, 100% for sure, that just mimicking outward forms of techniques will not get you to the level of Ueshiba Morihei. Otherwise, after, what, 40 years of training beyond Ueshiba's death we have no one in the aikido world that's even close to him.
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David Skaggs wrote: View Post
It was not an uncommon thing to hide the meaning or the teaching of martial arts using religious explanation so that enemies or competing schools could not steal.
I think that the residual of this old practice is that some take the spiritual explanations too literal and do not understand the information that is hidden.
That explains a lot.
Now I see why that spiritual aspect can be good for.

It's not my purpose to pull down the whole idea of spiritual things. It's just me not understanding the how and why of spiritual things.
If you're grown up in another culture than the Japanese, it's even more difficult to understand some habits. I know lots of spiritual habits are pure crap, but some have truth in it, and it's difficult for a beginner to decide what's real and what's fake. If you know how and why, or some background information, you get more in depth information than just practice the exercise.
I'm very interested in Japanese culture, backgrounds,... and eager to learn new things. But for me it's always hard to try things that are related with more spiritual things. Certainly as I'm a disbeliever of anything related with religions, like an athe´st or scientist.
I'm open for lots of new things to learn, but for my own good, I'm not swallowing everything just immediately.
For example: as I'm reading a book about Ki at the moment, I just try memorizing the parts that are useful for me and seem scientifically relevant, the other parts that I dislike at the moment, I leave aside. But I give things a try to understand.

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Old 03-20-2010, 10:13 AM   #36
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Re: Funakogi Undo

For me the point has long been that while I may not like, agree with or maybe understand everything being taught, I listen, learn, and practice it as sincerely as possible. You don't have to believe something to listen. You don't have to agree with how something should be done to practice. And I have found that while there are many things that years later I still don't agree with, there were many more that I was in danger of tossing out that I find now I understand on a different level.

Or as one of my instructors told me a long time ago, if you aren't already completely trained how do you know what's important? If you already know what's important and what's not, why even bother?

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Old 03-20-2010, 10:22 AM   #37
bulevardi
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Or as one of my instructors told me a long time ago, if you aren't already completely trained how do you know what's important? If you already know what's important and what's not, why even bother?
Because my brain bothers me all the time. I'm just a botherer I guess ;-)

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Old 03-20-2010, 09:11 PM   #38
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
For me the point has long been that while I may not like, agree with or maybe understand everything being taught, I listen, learn, and practice it as sincerely as possible. You don't have to believe something to listen. You don't have to agree with how something should be done to practice. And I have found that while there are many things that years later I still don't agree with, there were many more that I was in danger of tossing out that I find now I understand on a different level.

Or as one of my instructors told me a long time ago, if you aren't already completely trained how do you know what's important? If you already know what's important and what's not, why even bother?
Guess I'm going to respectfully disagree with you here, Keith. And probably make quite a few people upset in the process. Not really my intention as I'm conveying personal experiences ...

Any incarnation of funakogi undo that I've ever seen, done, or been taught has not even been remotely close to teaching aiki principles. I could have practiced sincerely for 80 years and it wouldn't have mattered. It wouldn't have given me aiki. I would not have gotten any closer to the skill level of Tomiki, Shioda, etc, let alone Ueshiba.

Taking that a step further, every single incarnation of modern aikido techniques is the same. None of them would have given me aiki or gotten me to the level of skill of previously mentioned teachers. After 20, 30, 40 years, I probably would have gotten some very high level jujutsu skills -- which are nothing to sneeze at, btw. Some very good stuff there. Unfortunately, those skills crumble against aiki.

I think it's all been huge rationalizations perpetuated throughout the aikido world. 20 year techniques, warmup exercises, focus on techniques, you'll understand after years of training, etc, etc, etc. And 40 years after Ueshiba's death, we're still rationalizing why we aren't even getting as good as the pre-war students.

When do we stop rationalizing and come to terms with the fact that aiki was withheld?
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Old 03-21-2010, 05:18 AM   #39
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
. And 40 years after Ueshiba's death, we're still rationalizing why we aren't even getting as good as the pre-war students.
The prewar students like Tomiki, Shioda, were already martial artists in judo, sumo, kendo, etc before they trained with O'sensei. Some like Shioda was trained from childhood and it was a part of their everyday life which gave them an advantage over modern Aikido students.

To compare the level of training or mastery of the prewar students with modern students is extremely out of kilter.

David
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Old 03-21-2010, 08:21 AM   #40
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Guess I'm going to respectfully disagree with you here, Keith. And probably make quite a few people upset in the process. Not really my intention as I'm conveying personal experiences ...

Any incarnation of funakogi undo that I've ever seen, done, or been taught has not even been remotely close to teaching aiki principles.

When do we stop rationalizing and come to terms with the fact that aiki was withheld?
Mark, with all due respect I was speaking in very general terms about learning most anything. I'm really glad you've found a good teacher teaching you what you want to learn. But I wasn't thinking about aiki at all when I wrote what I wrote (and yes, I do get out and get involved in the IS world too). Some, believe it or not, may actually be looking for that elusive aiki *while also* looking at the entire art, history, tradition, etc. as well. As such there is more to talk about.

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Old 03-21-2010, 02:54 PM   #41
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Taking that a step further, every single incarnation of modern aikido techniques is the same.
You know, perhaps almost every incarnation is as such, I couldn't know, but this just seems a little too broad a stroke to me. If high level jujutsu and wrestling "crumble" at the mere contact with aiki, I can't wait to see its emergence on the MMA scene, which as far as I know is dominated by high level jujutsu and wrestling and striking practicioners. That's not sarcasm, just to be clear. Operating in the "dabbler" spectrum of aikidoists, I'd love to see the proof of the pudding. I'm not really in the position to judge high quality aiki, even if it smacked me in the face, so I look to settings like that as a relative measure of things like "effectiveness under duress."
As it relates to funakogi undo (I know it as torifune undo), I think it's important to note that anyone will get what they put into it. Higher levels of aiki understanding will be able to get higher levels of aiki development through it...I assume. Perhaps for me it's merely a great way to open up the lungs and get the blood flowing, but that's enough for now and doesn't render my practice of it invalid as long as I recognize my own ignorance.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 03-22-2010, 05:53 AM   #42
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Mark, with all due respect I was speaking in very general terms about learning most anything. I'm really glad you've found a good teacher teaching you what you want to learn. But I wasn't thinking about aiki at all when I wrote what I wrote (and yes, I do get out and get involved in the IS world too). Some, believe it or not, may actually be looking for that elusive aiki *while also* looking at the entire art, history, tradition, etc. as well. As such there is more to talk about.
Apologies for taking your post out of context. I was in the frame of mind of the thread, funakogi undo, how its been taught and my post morphed from there.
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Old 03-22-2010, 06:12 AM   #43
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
And 40 years after Ueshiba's death, we're still rationalizing why we aren't even getting as good as the pre-war students.
Now that's a very good question Mark.
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Old 03-22-2010, 06:20 AM   #44
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
You know, perhaps almost every incarnation is as such, I couldn't know, but this just seems a little too broad a stroke to me. If high level jujutsu and wrestling "crumble" at the mere contact with aiki, I can't wait to see its emergence on the MMA scene, which as far as I know is dominated by high level jujutsu and wrestling and striking practicioners. That's not sarcasm, just to be clear. Operating in the "dabbler" spectrum of aikidoists, I'd love to see the proof of the pudding.
No sarcasm in my response, but if you want at least some indication of aiki versus jujutsu, just look to history. How many of Ueshiba's students had some very good foundations in jujutsu/judo of some sort? And yet, when they met Ueshiba, they were undone - completely. Do you think Tomiki would have followed Ueshiba if Ueshiba just had the same old stuff as what Tomiki had been training in judo? Mochizuki? Why is it that Mifune stood out as much as he did when compared to most other judo people?

Or how about how Ueshiba was known as strong and tough before he met Takeda. Didn't do him any good.

Or how about Tohei before he met Ueshiba and was training in judo. Seems I recall a story about how he went around kicking large posts in the house to strengthen his judo. When he returned to judo, he was much better. His kicking posts did him no good on meeting Ueshiba.

Fighter, boxers, sumo students, judoka, kendoka, etc all tested their mettle against Takeda and Ueshiba. Most of the encounters that were recorded showed that each of them walked away bested and knowing that they had encountered something very different than anything they'd ever experienced. These were men who had backgrounds in jujutsu of all sorts.

There's nothing new about today. History is just re-asserting itself. You have quite a few high ranking aikido people, judo people, fighters, karate people, etc testing their mettle against aiki and coming away very impressed.

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I'm not really in the position to judge high quality aiki, even if it smacked me in the face, so I look to settings like that as a relative measure of things like "effectiveness under duress."
As it relates to funakogi undo (I know it as torifune undo), I think it's important to note that anyone will get what they put into it. Higher levels of aiki understanding will be able to get higher levels of aiki development through it...I assume. Perhaps for me it's merely a great way to open up the lungs and get the blood flowing, but that's enough for now and doesn't render my practice of it invalid as long as I recognize my own ignorance.
Not directed at you, but to everyone. If you knew that the current practice of funakogi undo didn't train aiki in the least bit, then how does that make it valid in an art with the name of aikido?

Has the art changed that drastically in 40 years that people no longer care, or want, to have the skills that Ueshiba had? Has the "new age" movement forever changed aikido to the extent that aikido now means prearranged harmonious physical movements? Ghandi Dancing? Sure, it can calm your mind and can bring you some peace, harmony, and love. But it really isn't the way of aiki.

At least not as was exemplified by Ueshiba Morihei.
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Old 03-22-2010, 01:15 PM   #45
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
question, does spiritual training needs physical components?
Well, there are some very advanced yogis who do not do practice asana. But a body that is healthy enough to sit still while working on your ability to concentrate is helpful.
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Old 03-22-2010, 04:06 PM   #46
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Re: Funakogi Undo

Thanks for the reply, Mark!
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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
How many of Ueshiba's students had some very good foundations in jujutsu/judo of some sort? And yet, when they met Ueshiba, they were undone - completely.
I don't doubt it plays a huge factor. All other things being more or less equal, understanding of aiki should give a very decisive advantage. I'm just saying I look forward to a litmus test of sorts I will pretty much have to enjoy vicariously. I have a lot of faith in aiki as a powerful and dynamic skill set...something that would give a little guy an advantage over much bigger people.

Quote:
If you knew that the current practice of funakogi undo didn't train aiki in the least bit, then how does that make it valid in an art with the name of aikido?
I don't know that, but assuming it necessarily didn't, i would just think it was a valid way to warm up. If aiki is as ultimately "formless" as I think I've been told it is, then the whole variety of these rowing practices should at least be able to serve as a vehicle for learning "it," right? Maybe a better question would be: why then did O Sensei ever practice a rowing exercise? Because it does absolutely nothing at developing aiki? Seems counter-intuitive for the way of aiki.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 03-22-2010, 10:07 PM   #47
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
... if you want at least some indication of aiki versus jujutsu, just look to history. How many of Ueshiba's students had some very good foundations in jujutsu/judo of some sort? ... If you knew that the current practice of funakogi undo didn't train aiki in the least bit, then how does that make it valid in an art with the name of aikido?
... not in the least bit? Is this fact or infatuation ? Define the objective difference -- that's fact. Tout your shiniest enthusiasms -- that's infatuation. You haven't attempted to define the difference -- factually. It can't possibly work, simply because YOU could not make it work, or did not understand why it does?

Don't get me wrong, there is a difference, not a trivial nor a simplistic one, but it is not a physical mystery. There are legitmitately different ways of comprehending it. It is IN the kokyu undo. It is not lacking, languishing from lack of work on understanding mebbe -- but only because people are looking for some inexpressible mystery to be revealed by some kind master -- rather trying to master it ONESELF.

People mainly wanting to follow (or lead, for that matter) are, (historically speaking, since that is your measure) -- not interested in going out to find the objective truth, but in continuing to receive their subjective validation.

O Sensei demanded that we understand what he understood -- not that we follow his way of understanding it. Understanding is a conquest -- not a gift.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 03-23-2010, 03:33 AM   #48
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Has the art changed that drastically in 40 years that people no longer care, or want, to have the skills that Ueshiba had?
But some people don't want to be that good as Ueshiba. Some people don't have the need to reach the top or be the best someday.
Some people want to do Aikido for other reasons.
Like a runner who just wants to go jogging as recreation to get fit, but doesn't want to do it only to be able to run a marathon some day.
I don't mean that it has to be soft, you can still train hard and learn the good techniques, but for me personally it's not my purpose to get a black belt someday.
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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Has the "new age" movement forever changed aikido to the extent that aikido now means prearranged harmonious physical movements?
Ghandi Dancing? Sure, it can calm your mind and can bring you some peace, harmony, and love. But it really isn't the way of aiki.
For some people, Tai Chi or Yoga would be better to practice instead of Aikido.
Aikido needs to stay Aikido. It needs to stay a MARTIAL art.

Last edited by bulevardi : 03-23-2010 at 03:39 AM.

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Old 03-23-2010, 04:58 AM   #49
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Dirk Desmet wrote: View Post
But some people don't want to be that good as Ueshiba. Some people don't have the need to reach the top or be the best someday.
Some people want to do Aikido for other reasons.
Like a runner who just wants to go jogging as recreation to get fit, but doesn't want to do it only to be able to run a marathon some day.
Sure, but those joggers are still doing some actual running. Not everyone agrees that all aikidoka are still doing Aikido.

Quote:
For some people, Tai Chi or Yoga would be better to practice instead of Aikido.
Aikido needs to stay Aikido. It needs to stay a MARTIAL art.
Tai Chi is (was?) supposed to be a martial art as well.
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Old 03-23-2010, 06:35 AM   #50
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Re: Funakogi Undo

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Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
Thanks for the reply, Mark!
One of these days we'll have to meet up. Conversations are always better in person.

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Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
I don't doubt it plays a huge factor. All other things being more or less equal, understanding of aiki should give a very decisive advantage. I'm just saying I look forward to a litmus test of sorts I will pretty much have to enjoy vicariously. I have a lot of faith in aiki as a powerful and dynamic skill set...something that would give a little guy an advantage over much bigger people.
Yeah. There's a quote floating around about Takeda saying not to teach Americans because they're big already and giving them aiki would give them too much of an advantage. Not sure where the quote is from, though.

The one thing I'd say, though, is to not look at aiki as a "skill set". Or as some people say, another tool in the toolbox. Think of aiki as being your whole being, mind, spirit, and body.

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Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
I don't know that, but assuming it necessarily didn't, i would just think it was a valid way to warm up. If aiki is as ultimately "formless" as I think I've been told it is, then the whole variety of these rowing practices should at least be able to serve as a vehicle for learning "it," right? Maybe a better question would be: why then did O Sensei ever practice a rowing exercise? Because it does absolutely nothing at developing aiki? Seems counter-intuitive for the way of aiki.
Definitely yes for the part I put in bold. That's the gold question. As you note, aiki is formless, so most exercises are able to serve as a vehicle. But, unlike his peers, Ueshiba went off on a spiritual tangent.

While aikido exercises like the rowing one can be used to build aiki, was that the only thing Ueshiba was doing? Looking to his writings, his students interviews, etc, we'd have to guess, no, it wasn't. There was a spiritual component to it for Ueshiba.

Which brings us to Ueshiba saying you didn't have to follow his exact footsteps. And that brings me to my question of, Just why are you practicing Funekogi Undo, Furitama, etc?

If you (plural, not singling you out) don't know the reasons why Ueshiba did them and you don't have aiki, then aren't you just blindly copying an outward form and rationalizing its purpose?

On the pro side, though, let's say you're a student of Rev. Barrish and you're following his spiritual lead and adding that to your practice of the rowing exercise, etc. Personally, I would think that kind of practice would satisfy Ueshiba's vision of spiritualness without having to follow in his footsteps. (Course, that's only half of Ueshiba's vision as aiki would still need to be added.)

I would think that any other spiritual training would also suffice for that half of Ueshiba's vision of aikido. Historically, we can uphold that with Kisshomaru, Tomiki, Shioda, Shirata, Mochizuki, Tohei, etc, etc, etc. who are all doing aikido in some sort of spiritual mind set.

But, if you're just doing these exercises as "warm ups" and applying some physical nature to them (relax, keep body upright, don't lean, etc), then, IMO, you aren't doing either half of Ueshiba's vision of aikido: Spiritual or aiki.
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