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Old 03-19-2010, 03:01 PM   #1
bobtoabe
Dojo: MIT Aikido / Cambridge, MA
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Why do you train in aikido

Someone recently asked me to answer this question. After I wrote this, it occurred to me that this might be a good exercise to do for anyone training in aikido.

Why do I train…It's an integral part of my life and who I am, it's the highlight of my day (every day). It's my yoga, like my five minutes stretching every morning, like sitting at my piano every evening. My body knows how to do it. It’s almost as if my body is a horse, and my mind and spirit and emotions are sitting on top riding along, leaning this way and that, sitting up straight, crouching down close, flying through the air.

Aikido is one place that my whole self knows, and returns to. When I sit before training, relaxing my mind, opening my breath, expanding myself outwards and inwards, and I feel my body that I now sit inside of, and sometimes I remember sitting in the same spot and space in a skinny little teenage body, surrounded by a room full of bigger, older people, my mind going in a million directions, my breath shallow, my legs hurting,...all excited and restless to move. At that age, I liked to say that to me aikido was “moving Zen”...whatever that is.

Now as I reflect on this question, I realize that over the years there has never been a period of boredom, or a time where I felt like my training was in a slump or declining. It has been a constant progression forward and up. Aikido has always been a better-and-better experience for me, for my body, and mind and spirit and feelings. Certainly it’s given me balance, clarity, and peace, and a greater connection to myself and to others. It has also somehow given me a stronger feeling of empathy and connection to the world, nature, and to all things.

I think back to when I was younger, when I had limitless energy and endurance, spending an entire hour of breakfalls and challenging physicality. Now I seem to spend half of my training sitting and catching my breath. As I continue, I realize that all of us are moving forward and we all together (in our own cities and towns) are continually progressing in our training. I gives me much pleasure to train with someone I haven’t seen in many years, and to see how much we have progressed and how different our feeling is as we train with each other. I look at our older sempai, and admire how relaxed, unassuming, sensitive, and how happy they are. Moreover, I look forward to that place for me when I’m an old man.

I used to like to say that aikido training forces me/us to deal intimately with another person, one-on-one, on many levels, all at the same time: physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, politically, spiritually, etc. But now I don’t really think like that at all. I don’t feel like I’m relating to my partner this way or that way. I try to have no ideas or preconceptions about them, who they are, their intentions, or what is about to happen. When I face my uke (or nage) I try not to preconceive what the attack (or defense) will be, or how it will be, and what we’re going to do. I try to just feel the person as we connect and move, and respond to our balance and center, and if I can apply the specified technique to the situation, I do. Or maybe circumstances lead to another technique or another way of moving and responding. It seems like from time to time I find that I’m concentrating (for a while) on a different specific aspect in my training. Right now it’s this “no-mind” state. It’s a challenge to me to continue to have this state of mind and feeling as I train one-on-one with you all.

I am also continually questioning the integrity of my training and technique, and forever striving to feel my partners’ center and keep my own.

It’s very difficult, and a bit mysterious to put into words what aikido really is for me, and why I train. Maybe in another forty years I’ll have a clearer understanding. I’d be interested in hearing your answer to this question.


Bob Toabe
MIT Aikido
Cambridge, MA
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Old 03-20-2010, 10:29 PM   #2
Boris Spassky
 
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

Short but true answer: I have always been fascinated by Aikido and we started a new Aikido class at the Karate school where I taught so.... I began.

Therapeutic answer: The martial arts and specifically getting back into Aikido last year, has always been important to me. 2009 was the worst year of my life, so much so that I nearly did not make it to 2010. Now that I have, I am throwing myself back into training because without it, I do not have much.

Will be testing for 2nd degree brown soon...argh!

Still looking for authentic Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu!
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Old 03-21-2010, 03:35 AM   #3
Rolf Granlund
Dojo: Shinsuikan/Genoa, Ohio
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

Initially it was to fulfill some childhood dream of being samurai. But having trained for some years it has become, as cliche as it may be, more about improving myself and seeing what I can do when I commit myself.....thinking beyond immediate reward.

To put it another way......to quote Kensho Furuya, "Train because you love it. That is all."

With Respect,
Rolf Granlund
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Old 03-21-2010, 02:32 PM   #4
ninjaqutie
 
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

It is a challenge for me. Keeps me interested.

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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Old 03-21-2010, 03:35 PM   #5
Adam Huss
 
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

This question is often asked of students testing in the yudansha ranks.

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 03-22-2010, 06:31 AM   #6
lbb
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

Because it's there.
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Old 03-22-2010, 09:54 AM   #7
PhilMyKi
Dojo: Seibukan, Milton Keynes
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

The answer to this question has changed over the years with answers ranging from ...

I wanted to do what Seagal did in Under Siege (only film I saw of his as a kid)
Something to get me out of the house a couple of times a week
To satisfy my male urges to kill and win
A way to de-stress from my day at work

Now, I really enjoy what I do which probably ties in with the above reasons! I look back at how I was so awkward in my trackie bottoms and T-shirt to how I am now - awkward with two left feet hidden under my hakama! I want to know how I will be in the weeks, months and years to come.

Vorsprung durch Aikido!
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Old 03-22-2010, 02:41 PM   #8
ninjaqutie
 
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

As an aside, I'm surprised this hasn't been moved from the introductions category.....

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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Old 03-22-2010, 04:44 PM   #9
jducusin
 
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

I love how the movements feel when done well. I love the challenge of training to reduce the number of instances when they're not. So essentially, I'm addicted.

Open Sky Aikikai - http://www.winnipegaikido.com
"Life is growth. If we stop growing, technically and spiritually, we are as good as dead." - Morihei Ueshiba
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Old 03-22-2010, 04:54 PM   #10
ninjaqutie
 
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

And it has been moved.... amazing!

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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Old 03-22-2010, 05:36 PM   #11
Ketsan
Dojo: Zanshin Kai
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

To succeed in life you need to be the kind of person that succeeds. Aikido teaches that.
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Old 03-22-2010, 07:15 PM   #12
RED
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

I love Aikido

MM
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Old 03-23-2010, 11:57 AM   #13
ShanRCarter
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

I started training because I needed a routine in my rudderless life at the time. I found that I didn't need a rudder so much as I needed to face what's in the boat, so to speak. I continue to train because I enjoy it. I've not had a single day of training where it wasn't hard or didn't leave me feeling good at the end. I don't always "get it," but I look forward to the next time. (And the fact that I enjoy working with everyone in the dojo is icing on the cake.)

"I am different than yesterday's me."
--Sakamoto Ryoma
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Old 03-24-2010, 01:38 AM   #14
Amassus
 
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

I do it because it is fun.

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 03-25-2010, 02:36 AM   #15
edshockley
Dojo: Aiklikai of Philadelphia
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

I believe that the genius of Morohei Ueshiba is that he transformed a complex philosopical system into a subtle series of martial movements. Practicing Aikido with an open heart and mind is a meditation that reorganizes my entire life.
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Old 04-13-2010, 09:33 PM   #16
Aikiman001
 
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

Because it beats watching TV.

Smile, it can be infectious.
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Old 04-13-2010, 11:15 PM   #17
Nafis Zahir
 
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

1) Self Defense

2) Stay in shape

3) Stress Relief

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Old 04-14-2010, 09:55 AM   #18
Gorgeous George
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

Quote:
Ed Shockley wrote: View Post
I believe that the genius of Morohei Ueshiba is that he transformed a complex philosopical system into a subtle series of martial movements. Practicing Aikido with an open heart and mind is a meditation that reorganizes my entire life.
Excellent.

*Like*
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Old 04-14-2010, 11:17 AM   #19
trademark8806
 
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

I do Aikido for many ressons. I strted trying abut a year ago and will right now it is a litte off, I found I am almost addicted to it. Frist time I walked in the dojo, it was with the ceriusty of how to defend your self and to posably work on my spaceal issuses. I relly did not expecet to fall in love with it or to find that even on a bad day I want to go to class. I have posted on my blogs that I do not if it is the people at my dojo or the art its self. I found that conncent more to the aikido peoplethen others, I also feel like it is a safe place. Everyone is held to same sndarders whether you are 5 or 100. While yes some cant do some things no one judges anyone, they just work with them. Yes it seems to me to teach you to almost not think and just go with it. That is to say just flow together to end up at your gole. I am one whom needs to conncet to other people even a litte and I was missing this in my life and for me I fond it in aikido. I also do it for the veary simple ressons that I have no life besides school and this provides me with 3 days a week to intact with some other people and get some exercise that I so desperly need.

Best wishes ,
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Old 04-14-2010, 01:15 PM   #20
bkedelen
 
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

Battle doesn't need a purpose; the battle is its own purpose. You don't ask why a plague spreads or a field burns. Don't ask why I fight.
- Black Knight

Old saying. Verbiage may not precisely align with Aikido, but the point remains relevant. Aikido is its own purpose.
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Old 04-14-2010, 01:22 PM   #21
mah927
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

I'd go crazy if I did not train... so I train.

Chuck Norris has already been to Mars; that's why there are no signs of life there.
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Old 04-14-2010, 01:24 PM   #22
Gorgeous George
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

Quote:
Benjamin Edelen wrote: View Post
Battle doesn't need a purpose; the battle is its own purpose. You don't ask why a plague spreads or a field burns. Don't ask why I fight.
- Black Knight

Old saying. Verbiage may not precisely align with Aikido, but the point remains relevant. Aikido is its own purpose.
...yeah, but if you just do stuff, and then say 'Don't ask why', then you can do whatever you want/you act without reason.
There must be a reason why you do aikido, rather than go for a walk, do karate, go go-karting, go for a nice long drive, etc. - we don't do things arbitrarily.
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Old 04-14-2010, 04:07 PM   #23
jbblack
 
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

Why do I train in Aikido?
I ask that question everytime I step onto the mat.
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Old 04-15-2010, 10:13 AM   #24
bkedelen
 
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

George, my understanding of human nature is that we do almost everything arbitrarily. The few things we are driven to do are themselves fueled by the arbitrary things that have happened in our past. The only reason any of this is happening that anyone can convincingly point to is the big bang.

Also, I would never encourage someone not to ask. The fun is in the asking, even if there is not absolute answer to be divined. The "don't ask why" is simply part of a quote about an idea which seemed relevant to me.

Last edited by bkedelen : 04-15-2010 at 10:16 AM.
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Old 04-15-2010, 04:17 PM   #25
Gorgeous George
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Re: Why do you train in aikido

Quote:
Benjamin Edelen wrote: View Post
George, my understanding of human nature is that we do almost everything arbitrarily. The few things we are driven to do are themselves fueled by the arbitrary things that have happened in our past. The only reason any of this is happening that anyone can convincingly point to is the big bang.

Also, I would never encourage someone not to ask. The fun is in the asking, even if there is not absolute answer to be divined. The "don't ask why" is simply part of a quote about an idea which seemed relevant to me.
So you disagree with the view that we have choice in what we do, and that is why there is the concept of ethics/morals/reason, and so people are put on trial for rape, child abuse, murder, theft, etc.?

I can understand not asking a plague, for example, why it does what it does: it cannot answer, and nor can it choose what it does - it just is; people, however, can and do choose, hence the question being asked in the first place.

With respect.
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