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Old 08-16-2000, 05:12 AM   #1
The_Free_Spirit
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A friend of mine just came back from a ki-aikido competition cum world camp. Among the stuff she brought back, there was a booklet containing an introduction by Tohei-sensei.

I don't have the booklet with me at this moment. However, I remember distinctly that there were two paragraphs commenting that O-sensei prohibited compeitions in this past, but his ideas are "useless" now. (Yes ... the word "useless" was printed in the booklet!)

Throughout the rest of the conversation I had with her, it turned out that Tohei-sensei insulted O-sensei another time by claiming that the wrist lock technique (kotogaishi) does not work, and he devised a new technique that work.

I was not there in Japan, so I just related these events as best as I could gather from my friend. But the part about "useless" is definitely true. I personally saw it in Tohei-sensei's introductory speech in the booklet.

These statements may have been put in the wrong context. Can someone from ki-aikido please care to explain what is going on?

It is well-known that Tohei-sensei used to be one of O-sensei's student. I personally feel that it is not appropriate for him to pass such comments on his own mentor, not to mention that O-sensei is the founder of Aikido.

For that matter, what is the point of us bowing down to the founder at that start and end of every training sessions, but do not give him the due respect? Even if an Aikidoka manages to surpass the skills of O-sensei one day (this is a big IF!!!), he or she should still show proper respect to O-sensei. After all, his or her foundation skills came from wazas created by O-sensei. Passing comments that O-sensei's ideas are useless or that his techniques do not work are definitely signs of disrespect.

In this sense, I strongly feel that the wordings in the booklet should be more sensitive, even if they have been put out of context.

Interestingly enough, Tohei-sensei apparently also thinks that Zen masters are wrong in their concepts about that the one point is a physical point in the body, and that Indian meditation techniques are wrong, or at least inferior to his medition techniques.

Modern medical science is also wrong in giving too much medicine and surgery, so a sick person should get someone else to pass ki into his or her body. I think he called this technique kiatsu or something like that. However, it is also known that Tohei-sensei uses a wheelchair. Can anyone care to explain why kiatsu does not work for himself?
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Old 08-16-2000, 05:46 AM   #2
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I think that this is probably simply a case of some of the intended meaning being lost in the translation and not too much should be read into it.

I don't think Koichi Tohei would have got where he is today if he went about being disrepectfull to his former teachers and that is certainly not the impression I get of him reading his books.

As for Kotegeishi, that could well be another debate entirely, but it can't do any harm to set people thinking about if it "works" and if not then why not, ect.
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Old 08-16-2000, 07:23 AM   #3
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No disrespect to Tohei sensei, as he was a great man in many respects. He was always very strong in his opinions. I do not doubt that those were his words. At one point, not long after O'sensei passed, he ordered that O'sensei's picture be removed from his dojos and replaced with his own. I don't think that is the case now, although I don't know for sure, but you can form your own opinions.
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Old 08-16-2000, 07:43 AM   #4
Victor
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Quote:
The_Free_Spirit wrote:
Interestingly enough, Tohei-sensei apparently also thinks that Zen masters are wrong in their concepts about that the one point is a physical point in the body, and that Indian meditation techniques are wrong, or at least inferior to his medition techniques.
You have to believe in something - you choose what you like yourself.

Someone said that there are many hells and you always think that the believer of another religion/religious sect/non-believer will go to hell - to your hell. The same he is thinking about you...

If I'm not right - I'm wrong

Victro
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Old 08-16-2000, 10:58 AM   #5
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I can only imagine that O'Sensei was wrong about a lot of stuff. Probably a lot more than most people because he was put in a place where he talked a lot. Inevitably when you do such you are both right and wrong more often.

I've also heard rumors to the effect that sometimes O'Sensei had bad days. That somedays his ukes just didn't fall the way he wanted them to. Gasp! Could he have put his hakama on one leg at a time?

Sensei are human and screw up. And they are wrong about a lot of things. In fairness I've heard a lot of good things from my instructors. Things I value greatly but when the topic doth shift from Aikido I've found them to be just as full of it as anyone else.

I'd also think it would be much more disrespectful to your teacher if you found a better way and didn't pass it on to your students. Times change. Look at weightlifting and professional athletes. Years back no one did it, now everyone does it. Methinks a lot of people were wrong on that one and didn't the guy who ran the patent office once say something to the effect that everything was patented?

Having said all this, I seem to recollect stumbling on some of the same things. Methinks that Tohei sometimes lacked tact. There's a way to say something is wrong and then there's a way to say it's wrong. I've been very, very guilty on this one. Maybe I'll learn to get it right one of these days.

[Edited by Erik on August 16, 2000 at 06:06pm]
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Old 08-16-2000, 11:14 AM   #6
JohnnyBA
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Tohei Sensei did, in fact, order that O'Sensei's picture be removed from all his affiliate dojos. In 1974, both the Doshu and Tohei were invited to Hawaii for a demonstration. Although Tohei Sensei was still officially the chief instructor at the Hombu dojo, the Doshu was paid more attention and Tohei Sensei was overlooked. Tohei Sensei, in response, left the Aikikai. He then ordered O'Sensei's picture to be removed, most likely because of the "bad blood" between him and the Doshu and not because he did not respect O'Sensei or did not believe his techniques were correct. When one of his students refused to remove O'Sensei's picture from his dojo's wall, Tohei said this: "But now, I'm your sensei. He is no longer your sensei. He is dead." It seems that Tohei Sensei's insults towards O'Sensei have stemmed from "organizational disagreements" (and also some disagreement on waza - Tohei Sensei stresses more Ki than O'Sensei). I hope this information helps.
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Old 08-16-2000, 04:04 PM   #7
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Also, I read in an interview that Tohei-sensei said that he "only retained about thirty percent of O'sensei's teachings."

But than, words are subjective, and everyone has their opinions. I still have great respect for him, as he was my sensei's sensei, and brought Aikido in some form to many people...

-Nick

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"Do not fall into the trap of the artisan who boasts twenty years of experience, when in fact he has had only one year of experience-- twenty times."
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Old 08-16-2000, 04:34 PM   #8
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O'Sensei discovered, and had the generousity to present, a path which has doubtless helped many people better their lives. To insult O'Sensei is to insult aikido. To insult aikido means it's time to find another path through another means. There is no such thing as a perfect person in my opinion. Some people just seem to me to be more enlightened (free-spirited, happy) than others. Aikido has done much to better my life, and--honestly--I don't know where I'd be right now without it. Therefore, I have nothing but gratitude for Morihei Ueshiba, and I'd rather spend my time enjoying aikido than trying to find kinks in the armor of a samurai I never even met.
--Drew
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Old 08-16-2000, 05:51 PM   #9
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Oy... well said, Drew.

However, what about those who have met him?

Please also note that this is simply curiousity... my respect for O'Sensei is beyond question, I doubt I'd still be alive with it (I was in a bad way when I first came into the dojo).

-Nick

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Old 08-16-2000, 06:58 PM   #10
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Well, I wasn't at the world camp and I haven't seen the booklet you are talking
about, but I have yet to train in a Ki Society dojo in the US that was anything
but respectful of O sensei and the dojo I started in had a picture of O sensei prominently displayed along with a picture of Tohei Sensei. My dojo has a
picture of O sensei (gasp!).

I would really need to see the context to comment further on the use of the term "useless". I have read other statements by Tohei Sensei on this topic that justified the taigi competition that don't make this interpretation sound correct. As related in Aikido Journal, there was enough poor behavior in 1970's on both sides. I am sure that if we each go digging in each other's organization's
literature we could fine plenty to get upset about if we wanted.

As for the name change of the technique
kotegaeshi to koteoroshi, and that's all it really is - just a name change. Something that Tohei sensei is perfectly entitled to do as founder of the Ki Society. I certainly don't see how this is insulting O sensei. ( After all Tohei and K. Ueshiba devised a lot of the names in the first place and they are different than Shioda and Tomiki's naming systems.) Tohei Sensei wants to emphasize certain things in this technique and has been doing so for decades, and feels this label better conveys what he is trying to teach to native Japanese speakers. Of course, to those of us outside of Japan for which Japanese is not our native language, it's just changing a label.

It does differ from some of the ways I see some Aikikai teach kotegaeshi, but there is a lot of variation in technique out there, some variations are more robust than others with a lot of it having to do with the assumptions implicit in that style's ukemi. All I can say is that Tohei's method has served me well cross-style and proved to a robust method of applying the technique.

So let me be clear, there is no knew technique. Just a new label. I think to interpret this as an insult is to put this as you say in the wrong context. The eternal problem of getting your information from secondhand memory.


>>>"Interestingly enough, Tohei-sensei apparently also thinks that Zen masters are wrong in their concepts about that the one point is a physical point in the body, and that Indian meditation techniques are wrong, or at least inferior to his medition techniques."<<<

It might interest you to know that one of Tohei Sensei's senior students in the US is head of the Zen Center in San Francisco. Also the one-point is a mental concept concerned with focus and center of your action rather than center of gravity (implied by the requirement that it is a physical point of the body.)
It was my understanding that "Zen masters" whoever they are don't use such a concept. So this may be a bit of comparing apples and oranges.


>>>"Modern medical science is also wrong in giving too much medicine and surgery, so a sick person should get someone else to pass ki into his or her body. I think he called this technique kiatsu or something like that. However, it is also known that Tohei-sensei uses a wheelchair. Can anyone care to explain why kiatsu does not work for himself?"<<<

Last time I looked at his Kiatsu book, Tohei Sensei who is now over 80 made no claim that kiatsu is a fountain of youth,
and I can't recall modern medicine making that claim either. He is past the life expectancy of a Japanese man of his generation so he's doing good to still
be waking up in the morning and getting
around as far as I am concerned.

It's not clear what the point being made is, but if it's that doctors rely too much on drugs, machines and surgery, then it's a constant complaint made within the medical community. All I can say is that I recieved kiatsu and also given kiatsu and that it's therapeutic uses as well as good meditative training for one applying the kiatsu. I personally think this healing dimension by Tohei Sensei is a fine addition to furthering O'sensei's goals for aikido, the art of peace. In expressing caring for your fellow students and people in general.

First time I've tried Jun's system,
I hope this method of quoting is clear,
I didn't feel like copying embedded html code all over.

-Craig
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Old 08-16-2000, 07:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
JohnnyBA wrote:
Tohei Sensei did, in fact, order that O'Sensei's picture be removed from all his affiliate dojos. In 1974, both the Doshu and Tohei were invited to Hawaii for a demonstration. Although Tohei Sensei was still officially the chief instructor at the Hombu dojo, the Doshu was paid more attention and Tohei Sensei was overlooked. Tohei Sensei, in response, left the Aikikai.
... I hope this information helps.
The problem with brief summaries like this is they are so brief as to be false.

The rift between the current Doshu's father and Tohei sensei started in 1971
over teaching ki classes. Tohei Sensei had definite ideas of how to teach aikido and he was the head instructor at Hombu as appointed by O Sensei. The family issues between them probably didn't help either. By all accounts, there is plenty of blame to lay on both sides. Of course Tohei's side of the story is quite a bit different and some of others are no longer with us to give their accounts. The rest of us are just retelling hearsay.

Most of the senior Hawaiian sensei stayed with the him after the split. They were after all his students when he started aikido in Hawaii in the 1950's.

Whatever actually transpired in Hawaii in 1974 was likely more symptom than a cause. Given the conditions at Hombu for Tohei Sensei, it was probably best that he left. To do otherwise would have forced him to be other than the dynamic, charismatic and innovative teacher that he was when he helped spread aikido after WWII outside of Japan.

-Craig
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Old 08-16-2000, 07:36 PM   #12
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Don't know how many more times I can plug this book, but Aikido Kyohan (Suenaka, Watson) offers some excellent insight into all the politics and things that caused the split and extra politics...

Plus, it shows the reader a good exposure to Suenaka-ha Tetsugaku-ho Aikido.

Plugging once more,

-Nick

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Old 08-17-2000, 04:09 AM   #13
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I think there are some fundamentally important issues in this discussion.

First, one should never, never pass such arrogant comments on his mentor, even if his skills surpasses that of his mentor. This is true for all disciplines, including aikido. There must always be some respect at all times. Furthermore, aikido is not merely a set of exercise to be performed in a dojo. One should instill discipline and humility.

In this context, O-sensei is to Aikido just as Kano is to Judo, Funabashi is to Karate, Jesus Christ is to Christianity, Muhammad is to Islam, Buddha is to Buddhism ... See what I mean? To hear any aikidoka criticising that O-sensei is wrong is just as good as having a Christian criticising that Jesus is wrong.

Okay ... O-sensei is not God and he made some human errors. But still, we should not go around passing comments that he is wrong or useless. Note that I am not arguing whether O-sensei is right or wrong, useful or useless ... this is another issue altogether. But I think that we, as students of aikido, should never go about insulting the founder.

Even if it is true that O-sensei makes some mistake, I think that we can show the corrections without having to point out his errors, or pass un-called statements that O-sensei is wrong. Einstein corrected Newtonian mechanics with his theory of relativity, but I don't remember him criticising that Newton is wrong.

Secondly, the underlying principle of Aikido is to harmonise with nature, to live our lives in peace and harmony. All techniques are meant to harmonise with our opponents in such a way that we do not cause them injuries, but they are not in a position to injure us. In fact, the higher levels of Aikido practise is to resolve a conflict before it actually occurs.

Using this philosophy, I find it very difficult to understand how outright criticisms of O-sensei (along with other experts in their own fields) is conducive to creating a harmonious and peaceful environment. This is almost like trying to start a fight.

When I post my last article, I admit that I am quite upset. I apologise if my wordings are too strong. Nevertheless, the intention is not to start any bad blood or conflict. Rather, I am pointing out some behaviours which I seriously deemed to be unacceptable for any serious practitioner of aikido.
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Old 08-17-2000, 05:53 AM   #14
Greg Jennings
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Who gives a rip? Less talk, more train.


Greg Jennings
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Old 08-17-2000, 07:28 AM   #15
Cas Long
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Talking Thanks, Greg....

Greg,

I agree! I think that this Forum is far better used for the discussion of training-based issues, rather than "who is saying what about who".

We merely spread accusations further by
using them in Forums such as this one.

There are as many views on Aikido-related matters than people training, which is only natural.

Training, not conjecture, makes us stronger!

Peace,
Cas

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Old 08-17-2000, 08:27 AM   #16
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Re: Thanks, Greg....

Quote:
Cas Long wrote:
Greg,

I agree! I think that this Forum is far better used for the discussion of training-based issues, rather than "who is saying what about who".
Some people who are passionate about Aikido are going to have discussions about various aspects of experience in relation to it - others are always welcome to ignore those discussions.

There are many many reasons for what happened after O Sensei's death, and everyone contributed. There were many events that led to the split, and many strong personalities around at the time, many ideological and personal differences and conflicts. To me, it was too bad but inevitable - the way Doshu and Tohei approached things was very very different.

Larry Novick
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Old 08-17-2000, 09:21 AM   #17
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Wink

Larry,

Let me put this to you:
How many hours should one spend training & researching, & how many hours
discussing the personal differences between Practitioners & which side would O'Sensei have agreed with?

I found the tone in your first paragraph
a little strong... with the inference that I am not passionate. I merely want to better myself through training, rather concerning myself with incidents that I was never physically witness to.

Everyone is allowed their opinion, but there are less strong ways of disagreeing! This is an example of training teaching us moderation: on the Tatami, one moderates a response based upon the strength of the attack, may I suggest that you have been "heavy-handed"?

Peace,
Cas

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Old 08-17-2000, 04:00 PM   #18
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Quote:
Cas Long wrote:
Larry,

Let me put this to you:
How many hours should one spend training & researching, & how many hours
discussing the personal differences between Practitioners & which side would O'Sensei have agreed with?
As many or as little as any one particular person feels like doing so. I wrote my doctoral thesis in Psychology on Aikido - should I not have done so because to you it was "spending too much time researching and not enough time training?" I don't think so.

Quote:
I found the tone in your first paragraph
a little strong... with the inference that I am not passionate. I merely want to better myself through training, rather concerning myself with incidents that I was never physically witness to.
Perhaps you should read it again, or not take things so personally - I never said anything about you, I phrased my reply very carefully - I said -some people- and it had a smiley face at the end - that's an indication of intent as much as anything else. Also, however you relate to Aikido is great - for you - but why criticize others for being different, which is what you have done, and keep doing?

Quote:
Everyone is allowed their opinion, but there are less strong ways of disagreeing! This is an example of training teaching us moderation: on the Tatami, one moderates a response based upon the strength of the attack, may I suggest that you have been "heavy-handed"?
You may certainly suggest that - and I can certainly suggest that you might be way over-reacting as well.

Larry Novick
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Old 08-17-2000, 04:30 PM   #19
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Quote:
The_Free_Spirit wrote:

...Using this philosophy, I find it very difficult to understand how outright criticisms of O-sensei (along with other experts in their own fields) is conducive to creating a harmonious and peaceful environment. This is almost like trying to start a fight.

When I post my last article, I admit that I am quite upset. I apologise if my wordings are too strong. Nevertheless, the intention is not to start any bad blood or conflict. Rather, I am pointing out some behaviours which I seriously deemed to be unacceptable for any serious practitioner of aikido.

I think you need to take a deep calming breath and practice the Buddha's principle of detachment for a few days.
Maybe then you can better examine your own actions in making these posts and publically passing judgement on senior aikidoka you have never met. Learning to create some harmony within yourself first when encountering others in the outside world with a different take on things is necessary if you want to be a part of creating a peaceful environment.

Morehei Ueshiba Sensei was a great martial artist, a devout religious man,
and many other things, but he was a man. Tohei Sensei, Tomiki Sensei, Shioda Sensei and others were all men who met Ueshiba Sensei before WWII and they saw great value in what he had to offer so that they became his students. These men knew him not as O sensei, but as Ueshiba Sensei and they knew him for many years. In Tohei Sensei's case, this relationship lasted for 30 years until Ueshiba Sensei's death in 1969. He knew him as man as well as a teacher. His opinions are his own based on over 60 years of study in aikido. He is not likely to view Ueshiba Sensei's opinions and statements with the kind of religious reverence you would wish. He may even feel that he knows where those statements are inaccurately reported by others.

You are perfectly entitled to disagree with his opinions but I think Greg is correct in saying that you would be better off to spend more time focused on the training itself. Learn harmony from the training. Respect the man but show respect there first in the daily training.

Craig
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Old 08-17-2000, 05:13 PM   #20
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Quote:
Cas Long wrote:
Larry,

Let me put this to you:
How many hours should one spend training & researching, & how many hours
discussing the personal differences between Practitioners & which side would O'Sensei have agreed with?

I found the tone in your first paragraph
a little strong... with the inference that I am not passionate. I merely want to better myself through training, rather concerning myself with incidents that I was never physically witness to.
I think you may be taking this discussion a little bit too seriously. If you think more time should be spent on training, then go train. No one is forcing you to read these posts. Please don't take this as an attack or as a negative statement. It just seems that there is no limit to the number of posts on this site and there is no reason to tell people that they should be focusing on one topic instead of another.

So lighten up, man. If everyone wants to talk about the history and timeline of aikido, I'm not about to tell anyone to stop. If you want, I may have the chance to meet and train with Abe Sensei next summer (I'm going to be spending a month with Matsuoka Sensei this winter!), and since he was a close friend of O'Sensei's and actually taught him calligraphy, how about I ask him what happened and then we can drop the whole thing??
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Old 08-17-2000, 05:29 PM   #21
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Talking

[quote]
Quote:
Cas Long wrote:
Larry,

Let me put this to you:
How many hours should one spend training & researching, & how many hours
discussing the personal differences between Practitioners & which side would O'Sensei have agreed with?
Quote:
Aiki1 wrote:

As many or as little as any one particular person feels like doing so. I wrote my doctoral thesis in Psychology on Aikido - should I not have done so because to you it was "spending too much time researching and not enough time training?" I don't think so.


Quote:
Aiki1 wrote:

Also, however you relate to Aikido is great - for you - but why criticize others for being different, which is what you have done, and keep doing?


Larry,

I think it may be you that has mis-read.

My point was: How many hours should one spend training & researching, not training or researching. If you are training & researching, as your Doctoral thesis indicates, then we are in complete agreement.
I would have liked you to address this part of my post: 'how many hours (should we spend) discussing the personal differences between Practitioners.'

I'm sorry if my post sounded like criticism, I merely was trying to sound out people's opinions about what is important to them in Aikido.

Peace,
Cas

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Old 08-17-2000, 06:26 PM   #22
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no, the post name is fine... it's the thread itself that has gotten out of hand... amazing how we all come here as members of the Art of Harmony and with unwavering respect for Ueshiba-O'sensei, and yet you defy his philosophy through methods of petty squabbling.

At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite: isn't this kind of behavior what we train to guard against?

-Nick

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Old 08-18-2000, 12:21 AM   #23
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Quote:
Nick wrote:
no, the post name is fine... it's the thread itself that has gotten out of hand... amazing how we all come here as members of the Art of Harmony and with unwavering respect for Ueshiba-O'sensei, and yet you defy his philosophy through methods of petty squabbling.

At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite: isn't this kind of behavior what we train to guard against?

-Nick
Not me. I train to be able to deal with it consciously, not turn away from it.



(Note smiley face, showing positive intent, and serious message as well...)

Larry Novick
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Old 08-18-2000, 12:26 AM   #24
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[quote]Cas Long wrote:
Quote:

I would have liked you to address this part of my post: 'how many hours (should we spend) discussing the personal differences between Practitioners.'

I'm sorry if my post sounded like criticism, I merely was trying to sound out people's opinions about what is important to them in Aikido.
I would probably say that it would depend on several things - as a person who has his own dojo, and I'm independant, I have to be aware of the differences amoung styles, approaches, attitudes, etc... I have people of different style and perspective coming through all the time, it behooves me to be aware of all this stuff. Someone else it might not...


Larry Novick
Head Instructor
ACE Aikido
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Old 08-18-2000, 01:14 AM   #25
Erik
Location: Bay Area
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 1,200
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Quote:
Nick wrote:
no, the post name is fine... it's the thread itself that has gotten out of hand... amazing how we all come here as members of the Art of Harmony and with unwavering respect for Ueshiba-O'sensei, and yet you defy his philosophy through methods of petty squabbling.

At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite: isn't this kind of behavior what we train to guard against?

-Nick
Welcome to the real world.

It is really funny when you think about it isn't it. You'd think there was something really big at stake like a lot of money or something.

For the record, there is nothing wrong with disagreement. Vigorous discussion is one way to test an idea and sometimes if someone isn't emotional they aren't really involved. Aikidoists can get so damn PC that I sometimes wonder if they are even alive or think for themselves.

It's ok to be passionate.
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