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Old 05-20-2010, 02:32 PM   #1
"Reflection"
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The purpose of Aikido?

Before I left Aikido, I studied the art for more than 10 years. I was really hooked on it, practicing 5 days a week, 2 classes a day for months at a stretch. Suffice to say, it was a healthy addiction. I got to Shodan (under the Aikikai) and I didn't see the point of working toward a higher rank. I was practicing the same material as my seniors and I could spend the rest of my aikido life working on my skills at my present rank. I consumed anything and everything aikido: books, videos, seminars, etc.

A few years ago I stopped doing aikido completely, and I hope my reasons bring to light some problems I see about the art and start some serious discussions.

I saw aikido as a martial art and I practiced it as such. I worked toward practical application while keeping to traditional methods of training, and making sure my uke was safe at all times. I wasn't a dojo bully but I always training vigorously. But as the years went by after I became a shodan, I realize that aikido in its present form was not a martial art anymore. More precisely, it wasn't as "martial' as it used to be.

Yes, O Sensei studied it as a true combat system, but to be honest it is now rather impotent as a martial art. Somewhere along the way Aikido lost its martial "edge". I'm sure some Aikido styles and schools are still practicing aikido with an eye toward martial application, but as a whole aikido is no longer the fearsome system that people think it is.

No, I'm not comparing aikido to MMA, BJJ or anything else that's been discussed here so many times. It's simply an assertion that aikido is no longer realistically practiced or relevant as a martial art nowadays.

My sensei stressed atemi and training for self-defense (but he was also a "traditionalist" in a sense that he made us consider aikido as a budo first), but I realized that aikido in itself requires far too much time developing practical self-defense skills among its students. Yes an Aikikai Shihan can most definitely defend himself, but does a student need to do aikido professional all their lives before he or she can gain any self-defense benefit from aikido?

I'm familiar with the quote "your Aikido may not work, my Aikido works just fine". Well that's just my point: does an aikido student need to spend decades of training, probably to the point of teaching it professionally, before the art can work for the average student as a self-defense system? If so, then it's not that efficient as a martial art. So if people looking for self-defense skills are told to try krav maga or muay thai to learn them, why is aikido still claiming to be a martial art?

I'm not comparing aikido to those other systems. All I'm saying is, in a vast worldwide market offering the development of fighting skill through myriad martial arts, what does aikido have to offer?
Look at the discussion on the forums here. How many are about doubting aikido as an effective martial art. Some of those asking the perennial question may not be aikido students, but I did aikido for more than a decade and I too began to question its effectiveness.

The notion that aikido is still a martial art fostered and still fosters a false sense of martial skill among its students. The knife defenses are impractical and ineffective against realistic attacks. Most of the attacks being practiced, the grabs and strikes, are unrealistic in a modern context. Yes, they are meant to prevent a samurai from drawing his weapon, but how relevant is it to practice application based on such scenarios nowadays? I will admit that I had that false sense of security too but as I reflected on the art and what it offered I began to question its practicality. It didn't help that a lot of aikidoka I knew from back then (and even some I've met recently) have this dangerous smug attitude toward their perceived martial skill that may get them into trouble someday.

Let's face it, aikido is practiced through cooperation. Nage does the technique, Uke protects himself from harm. But how much of Uke's work is actually allowing the technique to work? As aikido practitioners, I'm sure you know what I mean. In regular practice, the attack is known in advance, the technique to be done is know as well, and everything is essentially choreographed. Even randori is in a sense a game of cooperation. I've seen people drop to the floor like dead corpses as soon as I touched them in randori.

Ok, so aikido may not be a martial art in the same vein as other systems. Not all martial arts are meant for the UFC. Aikido is more of a spiritual path of enlightenment or self-development, right? I can accept that; aikido has always been described as a form of budo. But one of the reasons I left aikido was to get away from the overwhelming narcissism I saw among the highest ranking local aikido instructors.

I was disappointed to discover that a lot of people changed as they moved up the local aikido hierarchy. Those at the very top, who are suppose to present themselves are the best examples of aikido as budo, are in fact the most vain and egotistical "martial artists" I've ever met. Bickering amongst themselves over petty slights and issues, constantly competing for rank and recognition, they live in total delusion of their martial ability. A lot of them run little dictatorships, filled with students eager to stroke their egos upon demand.

So if the highest ranking aikidoka I personally know are like this, what does that say about aikido as a budo? Decades of practice doesn't make them better people, and instead nurtures their egos and self-importance?

So I ask, if aikido is no longer as martially relevant or effective as it used to be, and its method of promotion and advancement works instead to boost the ego rather than minimizing it, what then is it good for?

Despite what I just wrote, I still have a fondness for aikido. My closest and best friends are still my aikido buddies from way back. The camaraderie developed from shared effort and pain in learning the art is very strong. The last time I watched an aikido class, I can see the eagerness of the students to learn and maintain their dojo. You don't spend a decade doing something without taking some good virtues and value from it.

If practiced as a martial art, aikido can be effective. But as I see it, in its current form it's failing as a martial art and as a martial way.

I know that this is an extremely long rant and I apologize for the lack of brevity and clarity. I just wanted to get this off of my chest.
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Old 05-20-2010, 04:41 PM   #2
Mikemac
 
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

Short answer? I practice to keep from going insane.

I didn't get involved in Aikido to become a tough guy, nor do I want to appear in any martial arts movies. Instead, I find it is more closely associated to my belief system regarding conflict and confrontation. Would I act any differently in a situation because I have studied Aikido? I certainly hope not.

I may be on the losing team of peacefulness, but neither do I see an answer in aggression. It's just a choice.

______________________________________________

"Hey! You got your kotegaeshi in my peanut butter!"
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Old 05-20-2010, 05:46 PM   #3
Charles Hill
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

Reflection,

Reading your post, it sounds like you equate the terms "combat system", "martial art", "self defense system", and "budo". Is that a fair assessment?
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Old 05-20-2010, 05:53 PM   #4
odudog
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

Aikido is a martial art or budo. It all depends on how you practice it. I failed a test in 5 seconds because the Sensei thought that there was no ki. He then promptly said to all of us who he had just failed, "Aikido is budo, if you want to socialize or have fun then join aerobics or something like that" then stomped off. Obviously I remember this and practice it in this light. As a shodan you haven't even scratched the surface and some places try to get rid of the chafe so that they truly only teach the dedicated students the real stuff. There will always be squabbles. People are people.
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Old 05-20-2010, 06:55 PM   #5
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

Reflection,
You sound just like me about 7 years ago. Send me a PM and I'll give you some valid information on training Aikido. Information that I believe might revitalize your training.

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Old 05-20-2010, 09:41 PM   #6
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

As Chris, I had similar experiences and branched out into other practices. What my other experiences showed me was that the principles of aikido are sound and if trained properly, it is very useful to building your over all martial base. What aikido represents for me today is not what it was 10 years ago.

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Old 05-20-2010, 09:51 PM   #7
lbb
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

It's very common for people to start in the study of aikido (or medicine, or law, or music, or anything else you might name), and, once they're into it, find that it isn't like the preconception that they had before they started their study. At this point, they have several choices.

1. They can discard their preconceptions, open their mind, and see if there is something of worth. If they find it, they can stay and study; if they don't find it, they can accept that the cause of their disappointment is their own preconceptions and expectations, and not the fault of reality for failing to live up to them, and move on, having learned a valuable lesson.

2. They can declare that their subject of study is fraudulent because it isn't living up to their preconceptions, and demand that all practitioners join their movement to "reform" it.

3. They can decide that their current field of study is bogus, but that the Grand Ultimate Thing that will satisfy their expectations is out there somewhere, in another dojo or another organization or another religion or another field of study, and wander off in search of some other thing to be the Grand Ultimate Whatever They're Looking For.

If someone led you to believe that the study of aikido would make you the baddest mutha at your local watering hole, I'm sorry you were misled (and I say that because I don't know what other reasonable definition of "martial" there is, in the context of a modern society that's regulated by laws). However your expectations developed, your story sounds like that of a great many people I see who come into aikido or other martial arts: burning with enthusiasm at first, eager to eat drink and sleep aikido, the kind who say they're "training" as they ride the bus or pour their morning coffee or whatever. Honestly, this kind of sets you up for disappointment. It's great to have enthusiasm for something, but enthusiasms that burn this hot usually also burn themselves out in fairly short order. Why? I don't know, but I'd venture to guess that anyone who is that eager and that devoted to something on short acquaintance is probably telling themselves some stories about what they're doing that may be based more on wishful thinking than on fact...know what I mean?

If you want something that is "martially effective", first you need to define what that means. If you say that means the ability to defend yourself and your womenfolk and your walled against some imaginary Crack-Crazed Urban Street Scum(tm), I say you're wasting your time. The best defense against this mostly imaginary threat is simple commonsense in avoiding blatantly stupid situations, and not worrying about the equivalent of a meteor falling out of the sky.

By the way, I have nothing against training to deal with imaginary threats -- I do it all the time. It's called "weapons work" I enjoy it a whole lot, but my understanding of it as "martially effective" requires a complete shift of context. I can't get hung up on what is likely to happen as I walk down Mass Ave on a warm summer night, because whatever it is, it's unlikely to be someone attacking me with a sword. If the meaningfulness of my weapons practice depended on modern-day applications, it would be a complete bust. Aikido isn't that extreme, but like any martial technique you will ever learn, it is also situational, and it's harder to pull off than a lot of other styles. If I ever were attacked, it's unlikely I'd use pure aikido to defend myself, but that isn't because the aikido techniques won't do the job: it's because the aikido techniques are designed for situations where the attacker doesn't give an easy opening. Someone who's skilled in aikido is unlikely to leave me the opening for an elbow strike to the temple; a rowdy drunk who wants to beat me up because I'm wearing the wrong baseball cap is going to leave me all kinds of openings (and, quite likely, is also going to leave me many opportunities to walk away from the situation without a blow being struck).

So -- pardon the long-windedness -- I think I'll decline to participate in any movement to "reform" aikido. My expectations are more modest than yours, and it lives up to them just fine. Having practiced in three other styles, I didn't come to aikido expecting it to be some pure mountaintop retreat far away from organizational politics: where there are people, there are quests for power, there are attempts to assert authority, there are efforts to create followings and fiefdoms. The only way to avoid them is to become a hermit. I didn't expect aikido to make me Undefeated In All Asia (hey rec-ma people, remember this?). I didn't expect it to teach me magical-seeming tricks or give me shortcuts to physical prowess. I expected it to involve a lot of sweat and a lot of frustration and much rarer moments of satisfaction and a few moments of pure bliss, and it has done that. And, honestly? I doubt you'll find a higher satisfaction-to-sweat ratio among anything worth doing.
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Old 05-20-2010, 09:51 PM   #8
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
. I got to Shodan (under the Aikikai) and I didn't see the point of working toward a higher rank. I was practicing the same material as my seniors and I could spend the rest of my aikido life working on my skills at my present rank. I consumed anything and everything aikido: books, videos, seminars, etc.
:/ In Aikikai Shodan only mean that you learned enough of the basics to finally start learning Aikido.

MM
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Old 05-20-2010, 10:03 PM   #9
akiy
 
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

Nice post, Mary. Thanks for writing and posting it.

-- Jun

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Old 05-20-2010, 10:19 PM   #10
Abasan
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

"A boy recently survived an altercation with an armed robber who tried to steal his bike, a gift from his father for aceing his studies. As the boy struggled with the man, the robber whipped out his pistol and fired at the boy, who promptly deflected the forearm and avoided the shot. After firing the weapon and missing the robber panicked and ran, throwing his gun in a nearby river. The police caught him and froggers found the gun." taken from local newspaper maybe 2-3 days ago.

The boy had no martial arts training. But he had a the spirit of a Budoka.

The purpose of Aikido is to train the spirit. Its not the ONLY way, but its one way. If you want to fight, you don't need to learn Aikido... just fight.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 05-20-2010, 11:18 PM   #11
Nafis Zahir
 
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

I understand what the person who started this thread is saying and I see it almost everywhere I go. Aikido is laughed at and thought to be no more than something that is a hobby. Most people I come across do not train as if they are preparing to have to defend themselves one day. Seemingly gone are the days of serious attacks, atemi, agressive training and finishing pins. It has gotten so bad, that I have seen people doing Aikido without really taking the uke's balance and these are people who are above the shodan level. I'm not saying that they have to hit the mark everytime, but for the most part, they are not even trying.

I myself, study aikido for self defense. Thanks to modern technology, I am able to go online an view many videos of various styles, methods and instructors from all over. I am also able to view older videos of aikido to see exactly what is missing in how aikido is practiced today. Aikido is suppose to be a budo and that is something that should not be taken lightly.

Thankfully for me, I have an Instructor who has helped me take my aikido to a much higher level than it was before and helped me to put together many components which help to make my aikido closer to being a budo. I still have a ways to go, but a strong foundation is a good start.

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Old 05-21-2010, 04:59 AM   #12
Adam Huss
 
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

I would hope that with ten years of experience some of your high level teachers would be breaking down their student's reasons for training in aikido. This is something very common during questioning portions of our testing...and really forces people to think about what they want to get out of their training. Beyond that, there are direct martial principles that I integrate into my training. Shinken Shobu...conducting my training as if it literally were a life or death sword duel, for example. I find that training at as high an intensity level as possible (mentally as much as physically) prepares me for these combative attributes you seem to be seeking out. In our basic techniques we have Otoku, or a great resolving, where zanshin is continued connecting both partners as they go through a series of physical motions to 'keep their mind right.' This is done, when seriously, to a point where training partners are pretty much sweating from concentration and focus alone.

I like doing this with all aspects of my training, but it seems weapons really bring this out in people. In a seminar at the beginning of the month we did some weapons pairing between knife and sword. The variable distance, presence of potential danger, and need for the knife wielder to take what would be extraordinary risk (in a real life situation) in order to have a chance at defeating the swordsman all cumulate to a mental and spiritual training needed for any combative situation. At the beginning of the morning session, people were timid and more or less going through the motions as they were unfamiliar with the particular movements. But once they started to become more familiar with them, they focused on the mental and spiritual aspects of the sword/knife exchanges. Before too long the intensity level of the dojo was so thick you could cut it with a knife (not necessarily fast, but incredibly focused). At the shodan level, we are just learning the basics of manipulating and controlling our own body...let alone someone else's. We have these basic ideas of techniques, but before too long it becomes time to have that above-mentioned familiarity with these technical aspects and focus on focus, intent, and the ferocious spiritual expression of this martial art. This kind of martial development are what make me feel prepared for dangerous situations....not how well I can throw or pin someone...but my mentality and ability to focus all of myself into what I am doing.

When going to mixed style seminars...my teacher (when he didn't need me for uke) would send me to be uke with non-aikido instructors (MMA fighter Dan Severen, Robin Gracie (Jr.?) for example). Obviously I wasn't going to attempt aikido techniques during a BJJ or MMA instructor's training session...I am going to perform what he is teaching. But it was noticeable I was willing to train at a dynamic level with whomever I was fortunate enough to have working with me at that moment.

Now I'm not trying to stroke my ego here....I'm quite junior myself as I've only been training in aikido around 10-11 years...so I too am just scratching the surface. But at the same time, I feel the most practical value I've received from my aikido training has nothing to do with what I can (or can't!) accomplish on the mat...or with my hands. For me it all has to do with spiritual growth, spiritual forging (there's a Japanese term for that...forgot it). In my humble opinion, personal strength and growth come from doing things that are difficult and with some element of risk. This is where the martial...the bu, in budo, come into play. Its a do, a way, of living through training. Whereas a jutsu is/was to a certain extent a means to an end (however a byproduct of any type of hard training can net these benefits...but it can also turn into egotism and narcism, which we are all familiar with. Anyway, a do should specifically focus on these concepts whereas jutsu doesn't necessarily have to, but often does).

I have never been in a fistfight in the mythical "street" that many speak of...at least not since high school (where I actually pulled off sudori and irimi tsuki...so I guess I didn't use fists that time)...but I have complete multiple combat deployments with the Marine Corps. I feel that my aikido training prepared me for that in ways that my military training did not...in the most useful ways to help me get through difficult situations (both combat and personal). My Marine training; small unit tactics, immediate action drills, CQB, weapons training, all helped with that physical or technical side I mentioned earlier...its the training that goes beyond the physical where perseverance through struggle is forged into the soul (this is what Shioda Sensei called Shugyo...more or less). Like the above-mentioned weapons pairing, or even toshu waza, the military training gave me the tools on the physical side...so I could ingrain and ignore those technical elements so that the fight could be directed with the mind and spirit.

I know this is sounding a little like fru fru fluffy uber spiritual intangible nonsense...and for that I apologize...I just wish you could feel the intense heat burning in my chest, just behind my eyes, and through every fiber of my being that is ignited just by speaking of such things. My (in)ability to articulate what I am feeling now, when in combat, and when on the mat does not do justice to the point/s I am trying to get across. Anyway, I guess my .02, in summation, is that ganseki otoshi or kaiten nage are not going to likely make you the terror of MMA circuits or a beast on the street. But these other levels of development that I have hopefully been speaking coherently about can be adapted to assist with satisfying those concerns. More practically, in my opinion, is that these concepts can be applied to every aspect of one's life. The goal of my journey in budo/aikido is to obtain a level of bliss, or happiness for no reason at all, and these are the training concepts that have been shown to me as the path to get there. With that, I will turn it over to someone much more qualified to speak of these things...my teacher, Kevin Blok Sensei. If anyone is interested he has a Pod Cast somewhere around this website if anyone is interested.

All the best, and I hope you find your Way, whatever that ends up being.

Osu!

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 05-21-2010, 06:13 AM   #13
Dazzler
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
:/ In Aikikai Shodan only mean that you learned enough of the basics to finally start learning Aikido.
Agree Maggie - I was taught that nidan was a more significant level than shodan as the student was now showing aiki through their techniques.

To me its like shodan completes the apprenticeship and then the real work begins.

Cheers

D
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Old 05-21-2010, 07:59 AM   #14
Mark Uttech
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

Onegaishimasu. Shodan is a beginning, a real first step into learning. A right beginning is doing something for ten years, in my opinion. After ten years, a right next step is another ten years. What has helped me continue as O Sensei taught: "train yourself relentlessly" in this third round of ten years, is just the thought, "when you think you understand something, look again..."

In gassho,

Mark

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Old 05-21-2010, 08:25 AM   #15
ruthmc
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

IIRC, I read that O Sensei once stated before a demo that in order to show Aikido in its true martial spirit he would have to seriously injure his ukes.

If that's what you're looking for, it's there within Aikido, but I doubt you'd find many willing ukes, or be willing to be so injured yourself! (Not to mention the lawsuits afterwards...)

Instead the systems of Aikido that are practised in the modern age allow for the fact that most of us have to work to support ourselves and our families, therefore risking serious injury on some quest for martial supremacy is simply NOT an option

If you cannot see where the true martial side of Aikido is, then you haven't been looking in the right places or with clear vision. I can see it in every technique, but I choose not to apply it fully when on the tatami.

To me Aikido is about self-control and constructive outcomes to confrontation, not about breaking ukes.

Ruth
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Old 05-21-2010, 09:41 AM   #16
MM
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
It's very common for people to start in the study of aikido (or medicine, or law, or music, or anything else you might name), and, once they're into it, find that it isn't like the preconception that they had before they started their study. At this point, they have several choices.

1. They can discard their preconceptions, open their mind, and see if there is something of worth. If they find it, they can stay and study; if they don't find it, they can accept that the cause of their disappointment is their own preconceptions and expectations, and not the fault of reality for failing to live up to them, and move on, having learned a valuable lesson.

2. They can declare that their subject of study is fraudulent because it isn't living up to their preconceptions, and demand that all practitioners join their movement to "reform" it.
What do we tell students who look to history and reality and see that Takeda created several good students, that Kodo created several good students, that Sagawa created at least one when he really started teaching, and that Morihei Ueshiba created several good pre-war students in 10 years or less?

Why do we cling to 40 years of training to be capable when history shows us that quite a few students did so in 10?

Why does history give us expectations such as Ueshiba, Shioda, Tomiki, Tohei, Shirata while reality is that modern aikido has failed to recreate historical reality?

Even going so far as to take into account all previous martial training of the aikido greats before they started studying with Ueshiba, why is it that someone with a background in judo, BJJ, or MMA can still *not* train long enough in modern aikido to surpass any of the aikido greats? Why are we lowering our preconceptions and expectations because no one in modern aikido has recreated historical reality?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
If someone led you to believe that the study of aikido would make you the baddest mutha at your local watering hole, I'm sorry you were misled (and I say that because I don't know what other reasonable definition of "martial" there is, in the context of a modern society that's regulated by laws).
Why did many people "test" Takeda, Ueshiba, Shioda, etc? Did they get tested because they were the most enlightened beings? Or did they get tested because they were supposedly one of the "baddest mutha" around? How does history answer those questions? What does history tell us about all those "testing" encounters? Did people submit questions based upon spiritual principles or did people use physical, martial means? How did Ohba show his version of "testing" at Ueshiba's Manchurian demonstration?

Doesn't history show us that those "tests" that Ueshiba accepted were martial more than spiritual? And how did Ueshiba fare? Was it his spirituality that helped him through ... or his martial ability?

So in both essence and reality, who is being "misled" in modern aikido training?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
However your expectations developed, your story sounds like that of a great many people I see who come into aikido or other martial arts: burning with enthusiasm at first, eager to eat drink and sleep aikido, the kind who say they're "training" as they ride the bus or pour their morning coffee or whatever. Honestly, this kind of sets you up for disappointment. It's great to have enthusiasm for something, but enthusiasms that burn this hot usually also burn themselves out in fairly short order. Why? I don't know, but I'd venture to guess that anyone who is that eager and that devoted to something on short acquaintance is probably telling themselves some stories about what they're doing that may be based more on wishful thinking than on fact...know what I mean?
Why? How about modern aikido training is misleading students? Let me revisit your first para and your first sentence of your point #1.

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
It's very common for people to start in the study of aikido (or medicine, or law, or music, or anything else you might name), and, once they're into it, find that it isn't like the preconception that they had before they started their study. At this point, they have several choices.
1. They can discard their preconceptions, open their mind, and see if there is something of worth.
You are right. Students must discard their preconceptions and open their mind. But, IMO, it's current students already training that should do this. Look to history and start questioning why there is such a significant and fundamental difference between then and now.

The same kind of people in BJJ, MMA, Judo, and karate right now in the modern world tested Ueshiba, Takeda, Shioda, etc back then in their world. What were Takeda, Ueshiba, Shioda, etc doing back then? Were they using their training to fight? Wouldn't it be interesting to find out that answer? What do you do if the answer is yes?

Isn't it time to "discard their preconceptions, open their mind, and see if there is something of worth"?
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Old 05-21-2010, 10:28 AM   #17
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
You are right. Students must discard their preconceptions and open their mind. But, IMO, it's current students already training that should do this. Look to history and start questioning why there is such a significant and fundamental difference between then and now.
Did you read what I wrote about weapons training?

Then was then, and now it's now. If you want to live "then", you want to live in a fantasy world.
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Old 05-21-2010, 10:29 AM   #18
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

Look, every martial art is designed to train the spriit. Aikido is not alone in this. They all have hopes, through hard training, competition, etc of molding us into better people. Hard work has a tendency to do this on its own, it's good ole self discovery. So I think we can take that off the table when discussing the value and effectiveness of aikido.

I disagree with the notion that Aikido takes 10-20 years to become effective or useful or that one has to be a Shodan or higher before one can really apply it. That's not the Aikido I know at all, but I digress.

I also agree with the points Mark raised.

I tend to look at it from a sports perspective. Lets say you want to be good at Aikido. You want to be able to use it. So you go to the dojo five days per week for two hours per class. Realistically you're only training probably 40-60 minutes per day, maybe. So you're getting somewhere between 3-5 hours of training per week, of varying degrees of quality. Do you think a baseball or tennis player, or a golfer, would be any good if their only practice was when they were actually playing their sport? No, they go to the driving range or batting cages or work on their swings in a variety of ways all the time. How much is the average aikidoka working on their technique or more importantly, the things that REALLY power the techniques, off the mat? Very little. Most don't even have any exercises they could actually do on their own time. If they do, then you have to factor in whether or not they're doing them properly and with the proper mindset and intent. Doing the techniques well requires a body that works in a specific, coordinated way, just like baseball or tennis. With such sporadic training and no outside work, it probably does take 20 years to develop a body that works properly at all times, if you're lucky. So why not find things to work on that will make your aikido stronger and better when you're off the mat?
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Old 05-21-2010, 10:33 AM   #19
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

If you learn from someone whose own expectations are modest then chances are your expectations will be modest.

If you learn from someone who thinks it takes decades to learn what you want to know then it will take you decades to learn.

When someone is disappointed because they think or are told their expectations are not realistic, don't encourage them to lower their expectations but encourage them to work harder toward their expectations so they can see how far and how fast they can go.

Don't let other people's self imposed limitations limit you.

David
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Old 05-21-2010, 11:03 AM   #20
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

I like Mary's wise post too. And Chris extending a hand - for katatedori maybe - is positive and kind and that is real aikido.

But I'm still going to tell my son to give his bike to anyone with a gun who asks for it.

we can make our minds so like still water, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life
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Old 05-21-2010, 11:38 AM   #21
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

It seems to me the OP is going through a period of questioning/testing his own reasons for training, & this is a very natural & normal thing.

Many of his musings or concerns have nothing to do with why *I* train - if I wanted to learn hand to hand combat or a grappling art, I would seek an appropriate venue, not an aikido dojo - but I suspect it is not the deficiencies of aikido that are the issue, but his own changing goals. And again, that is a normal process; we stop being mindful, fully sentient and honest beings if we don't stay open to our own changes & question our priorities & decisions.

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Old 05-21-2010, 12:04 PM   #22
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

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It seems to me the OP is going through a period of questioning/testing his own reasons for training, & this is a very natural & normal thing.
Absolutely true, and that's where my 1) above fails.
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Old 05-21-2010, 12:43 PM   #23
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

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Niall Matthews wrote: View Post
I like Mary's wise post too. And Chris extending a hand - for katatedori maybe - is positive and kind and that is real aikido.

But I'm still going to tell my son to give his bike to anyone with a gun who asks for it.
Very good idea.

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 05-21-2010, 12:56 PM   #24
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Did you read what I wrote about weapons training?

Then was then, and now it's now. If you want to live "then", you want to live in a fantasy world.
I did. I was trying to limit my post for length.

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
By the way, I have nothing against training to deal with imaginary threats -- I do it all the time. It's called "weapons work" I enjoy it a whole lot, but my understanding of it as "martially effective" requires a complete shift of context. I can't get hung up on what is likely to happen as I walk down Mass Ave on a warm summer night, because whatever it is, it's unlikely to be someone attacking me with a sword. If the meaningfulness of my weapons practice depended on modern-day applications, it would be a complete bust. Aikido isn't that extreme, but like any martial technique you will ever learn, it is also situational, and it's harder to pull off than a lot of other styles.
How many top kendo people trained under Ueshiba? So, historically, even kendo people found Ueshiba's aikido worth studying/learning. Ueshiba's "weapons" work was not kendo, yet it applied to kendo. How many can state this today? Which high ranking person in the kendo world trains under a top ranked aikido shihan to learn "taisabaki"?

Shioda went out to fight with what he was learning from Ueshiba. Modern day applications from Ueshiba's teachings. Shall we turn a blind eye to all the greats who used their training this way?

What does history say about their training and how applicable it was in their modern day? The military men who jumped Ueshiba to test him?

Long after the sword was gone, just why was Ueshiba still practicing with a bokken? a spear?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
If the meaningfulness of my weapons practice depended on modern-day applications, it would be a complete bust.
I am unsure what weapons training you are doing, but the weapons training I have done, am doing, and will do is very meaningful in modern day applications. Just because I hold a sword in my hand and practice a cut does not mean that all I am training is to hold a Japanese sword of bygone days and pretend that I'm cutting some thing or some one -- or that someone will attack me using a sword.

I would imagine that the cut is probably the least important factor in weapons training. The rest, in even the simplest of movements such as a basic shomen cut, is more important and more applicable to modern-day applications. Or has no one ever really pondered why top ranked kendo people wanted to learn from Ueshiba. Do you really think they wanted to know how to move their feet? How to step off the line of attack? How to make a shomen cut? a yokomen cut?

In the aikido world specifically, weapons training holds the potential for building a stronger level of aiki. Capturing center on contact when you touch someone's center is easier than if you grab the shoulder. Grabbing the shoulder and getting center on contact is easier than if you grabbed their wrist. This is all much easier than if the other person grabs you. Now try center on contact at the end of a bokken where it is very far from anyone's center, there is no grabbing for holding, and it is through an object.

How about control through a sword? Being sticky with weapons? Able to send power through a weapon without a wind up?

Try doing that through a piece of paper or a handkerchief. You know, I think Takeda and Ueshiba used to demo doing that. I wonder if working with the sword helped them do that?

Does it really matter at that point if it is a bokken, a katana, a knife, a tire iron, a bat, an article of clothing, etc? Just what should we really be working on when we practice weapons in aikido?

Borrowing a phrase from kali, Bokken trains Jo trains Tanto trains Empty Hand. The applicability of training for modern-day applications is infinite.
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Old 05-21-2010, 02:15 PM   #25
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Re: The purpose of Aikido?

After 18 years, and 9 months of Aikido, I have come to believe there is no purpose. I am not saying that in a Zen sort of way. I am being flat out blunt and straight forward. There is no purpose. Was there a purpose yes, and some people still hang to those eves. I was one of them for a long time. Perched on the wise old man's scribed out enlightenment paraphrased in his own voices, thrilled me. I tried to wring out each drop of possible wisdom like a wet towel. I anxiously with batted breath waited for the miracles to happen that would direct me in my life.

I worked hard at techniques to master each and every principle.

I was a chump. I didn't realize it until 18 years later. There is no magic, there is no wisdom to apply to my life. Why, because I am not Japanese and Aikido is. Why, because times have changed, people and society has changed. Aikido is archaic, sadly.

Please forgive me for my bluntness.
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