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Old 08-24-2011, 10:41 AM   #1
DH
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The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Spin off of the latest discussion in the Bill Gleason/ Popkin thread on the continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki when it is taught...and where is can be placed on aikiweb.

Since more and more top aikido people are going outside of aikido to learn aiki, it's not going to matter in the long run.
I have charted a course for my own involvement in teaching IP/aiki which I always stated it was a three to five year plan, with predictions of behavior.
The plan and events as I saw them
1. First, discussion of it. "Those outside people don't really understand the aiki of aikido."
2. Aikido students go feel it, recognize they missed it and they are not allowed to train in their home dojos.
3. Aikido teachers are shown it. They can't do a thing to the guys who actually have it. They see they missed it. They create an environment to train it and they start to teach it. They tell everyone "These outside guys are doing the aiki of aikido!!"
4. They start to get it a little bit and their students do as well.
5. As their bodies change and their mind/ body awareness improves, they convince themselves they actually had more of it then they first thought (forgetting the evidence of their obvious initial failures)
6. As they get better because of going outside, they think the people they went outside to get it from aren't as good as they once thought.
7..In time they convince themselves and their students that everything they wanted was there all along and they already knew it, those outside guys just reminded them.

Then, full circle in the near future
8. The new narrative appears. The people who were given aiki from the outside guys now take it back into the art and they say to their students. Those outside people are good but ....
they don't really understand the aiki of aikido."

It's only a matter of time. This is just the predictable path for the best budo people. Most of whom are self motived and self disciplined people. All input will eventually become self-awareness and self-actualization. They cannot help but to follow a process more or less along the lines of;
That guys amazing
I can't do that,
I am learning to do that,
My teachers did that
I forgot I already knew all that
That guy was a bit of an influence on me

Precedent
Ueshiba, meets Takeda. When they met, he cried from being totally dominated.
Twenty three years under Takeda- Ueshiba gets power. This was all based on and witnessed to be from...Takeda.
What do we get
What he says "Takeda opened my eyes to true budo...."
What he does hands out Daito ryu scrolls with a changed name, and refused to pay the fees he promised...and walked away into a world pointing to his vision..

I am a realist. What these aikido teachers are doing is going to change aikido. It is changing aikido, but in the end it is going to turn back to ownership from within...aikido. So, for me it's best to remain a nobody and just help when I am asked and watch it all unfold with interest. It appears that everyone has a shield or added layer in what they say on the net or say behind closed doors. For some strange reason, what they say and what they can actually do in person is...not always the same. I suspect it's always been that way.

So is this the aiki in aikido? You just might find that it's not only who you ask, but also when you ask them.

Standing on the outside and enjoying the view.
Dan
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Old 08-24-2011, 11:43 AM   #2
Toby Threadgill
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Hi Dan,

LOL.....Delusion and rationalization are powerful forces in life.

I agree that there will be some in aikido that follow the train of thought you outline, but there are other, more grounded individuals, that will resist the rationalizations you describe. Not everyone will trundle happily down aikido's version of the "primrose path".

Regards,

Toby Threadgill / TSYR
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Old 08-24-2011, 12:00 PM   #3
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Hi Dan,

Everyone walks the path alone, it's true. How much each acknowledges the help they receive along the way is a matter of character. For me, the help and assistance I've received is already immeasurably vast and from uncountable people.

A few do stand out and I try to offer my thanks as often as possible given my still flawed humanity.

-Doug Walker
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Old 08-24-2011, 12:16 PM   #4
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Yup, what the two guys posting before me said...

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Old 08-24-2011, 12:22 PM   #5
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Oh, and I'm a firm believer in the notion of "standing on the shoulders of giants". Just sometimes there's a lot of giants helping support you. Some seem to feel they arrived fully actualized and ready to go. But a few will gladly take what they can from anyone with quality to offer. The question of "who is responsible for what I've become" is no longer the right question. Because the answer becomes "everyone".

So many complex areas, so many overlaps, so much involved in doing this thing we do. I have so much to learn still from all my sensei.

So I thank them all. Some for small bits, others for bigger bits. And a few for whacking me upside my head saying "Hey, why don'tcha try looking at it this way? And would you loosen up the hips you tight-assed idiot!"

Tis all good... For me, all the years doing sword craft, I've learned you can't teach most. No matter what they say most aren't interesting in learning how it is *really* done, just more interested in finding validation for their simplistic ideas. But a few, a precious few, do dig deeper. And really do empty their cup rather than just saying the words...

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Old 08-24-2011, 12:36 PM   #6
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

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5. As their bodies change and their mind/ body awareness improves, they convince themselves they actually had more of it then they first thought (forgetting the evidence of their obvious initial failures)
Dan,

For the most part, you can see the progression you outlined there just buy going back to 05 or so and reading all the threads between yourself, Sigman and the general community here. The above item stuck out to me though. For my part, I can't see how anyone would sit there and convince themselves that they actually had more of it than they first thought. It's almost delusional, but I know to never say never. What I do think though, is that people will start to recognize the training methods for these things that already existed in the art and come to realize that maybe the art doesn't have to be drastically changed to become what it once was and was supposed to be. Of course I think it takes people wanting to dig deeper than just doing the exercises thrown in front of them, which won't be common.

Quote:
It appears that everyone has a shield or added layer in what they say on the net or say behind closed doors.
Why do you think that is?
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Old 08-24-2011, 01:42 PM   #7
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Well, to Jason's point, even in the few seminars I've been to with various folks, there's still going to be the people saying, "We already do that", despite the evidence to the contrary. I don't see that changing, necessarily as people see their bodies changing and what was once mysterious seems more attainable. In some cases, it's easier to fool yourself into thinking you have it all figured out rather than looking deeper and deeper.

FWIW YMMV
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Old 08-24-2011, 02:29 PM   #8
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Dan, in the very long term you might be right. At this point, folks I meet are still in the "this is way cool, how do we do it?" phase or the "hmmm, starting to be able to use it in my aikido; let's keep going!" phases. So I'm wondering if rather than having individuals and short term (few years) in mind this is more a matter of recognizing general human tendencies within groups as cultural norms shift over time?
So far the only individuals I hear or read say "it's already in there" are those who haven't had hands-on. Some of us recognize that some existing aikido exercises can be vehicles for integrating this stuff but only if done differently - just as finding how to integrate it into aikido forms themselves has to be puzzled out.

Janet Rosen
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Old 08-24-2011, 03:53 PM   #9
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

If i may add my 2 cents from a non-aikido perspective. IMHO the delusional path Dan outlined is caused by refusing to let go of their concept of Aikido itself. A couple of observations:

1. whatever art you train, ultimately you are training yourself, your awareness, your ability to harmonize/unify yourself and with your opponent ... basically at some point, what art you train doesn't matter, it's you.

2. accept change. why should "aikido" stop at what O'Sensei has attained and passed down. Let it evolve, let it absorb non-aikido aiki if you will, let it become better ... why hold on to a static notion of "aikido" ?

too radical ?

Lipyeow
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Old 08-24-2011, 03:54 PM   #10
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
Dan, in the very long term you might be right. At this point, folks I meet are still in the "this is way cool, how do we do it?" phase or the "hmmm, starting to be able to use it in my aikido; let's keep going!" phases. So I'm wondering if rather than having individuals and short term (few years) in mind this is more a matter of recognizing general human tendencies within groups as cultural norms shift over time?
So far the only individuals I hear or read say "it's already in there" are those who haven't had hands-on. Some of us recognize that some existing aikido exercises can be vehicles for integrating this stuff but only if done differently - just as finding how to integrate it into aikido forms themselves has to be puzzled out.
As I delve deeper into this stuff, I see where existing form or exercises COULD be used for developing IT - but ONLY if looked at and practiced from a different perspective - unfortunately, many of the existing stuff is just a hollow form with no substance.

Greg
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Old 08-24-2011, 03:58 PM   #11
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Quote:
Lipyeow Lim wrote: View Post
If i may add my 2 cents from a non-aikido perspective. IMHO the delusional path Dan outlined is caused by refusing to let go of their concept of Aikido itself. A couple of observations:

1. whatever art you train, ultimately you are training yourself, your awareness, your ability to harmonize/unify yourself and with your opponent ... basically at some point, what art you train doesn't matter, it's you.

2. accept change. why should "aikido" stop at what O'Sensei has attained and passed down. Let it evolve, let it absorb non-aikido aiki if you will, let it become better ... why hold on to a static notion of "aikido" ?

too radical ?

Lipyeow
Nothing is as constant as change and nothing is resisted more than change - we are in a constant battle with ourselves to grow

Greg
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Old 08-24-2011, 04:33 PM   #12
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Quote:
Greg Steckel wrote: View Post
As I delve deeper into this stuff, I see where existing form or exercises COULD be used for developing IT - but ONLY if looked at and practiced from a different perspective - unfortunately, many of the existing stuff is just a hollow form with no substance.

Greg
Isn't part of the point to gain a good enough understanding of this stuff so that we can take our training into our own hands? being shown some exercises to get you started is nice, but I only view that as the starting point. One of the things that Dan said in another thread really hit home for me. "this kind of training informs your aikido". I agree with that completely, which is why I fully believe that aikido doesn't need some mass shakeup of the form in which it is practiced to get back to being what it was supposed to be. It just needs some constant honest assessment from the people doing it and a lot better understanding of what's actually going on under the hood.
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Old 08-24-2011, 04:35 PM   #13
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Quote:
Lipyeow Lim wrote: View Post
If i may add my 2 cents from a non-aikido perspective. IMHO the delusional path Dan outlined is caused by refusing to let go of their concept of Aikido itself. A couple of observations:

1. whatever art you train, ultimately you are training yourself, your awareness, your ability to harmonize/unify yourself and with your opponent ... basically at some point, what art you train doesn't matter, it's you.

2. accept change. why should "aikido" stop at what O'Sensei has attained and passed down. Let it evolve, let it absorb non-aikido aiki if you will, let it become better ... why hold on to a static notion of "aikido" ?

too radical ?

Lipyeow
I guess it depends if you hold to the notion that some have that there really is only one REAL aiki. If that's what you're training in your practice and study, why is change needed at all?
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Old 08-24-2011, 09:05 PM   #14
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

most folks are happy with the current aikido (major guessing here). the folks who work on these stuffs (IC that IP on aiki ) are going to be small in numbers. it won't matter all that much in the long run. just because you went to a few workshops don't mean that you suddenly acquired the skills over night. you have to work your derriere off! (pardon my french) most of the time you don't even know if you get it right or not. half the time you doubt yourself and the other half you doubt the people who gave you that knowledge. so you are paranoid, schizophrenic, and obsessive compulsive. holy crap! i just diagnosed myself. i wondered if i can charge myself for diagnosis and possibly treatments. i could make a lot of money out of myself, because i know he's a mess and it will take him years of therapy to get over this aiki mental sickness.

yup, the folks who work on these stuffs will be the few, the proud, and the annoying-other-folks-to-death-with-discussion-on-why-their-aikido-don't-even-have-any-remotely-aiki-where-other-folks-will-yell-at-them-to-stay-in-non-aikido-section
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Old 08-25-2011, 12:29 AM   #15
Janet Rosen
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

So, Phi. long story short, I continue to be the happy idiot of the dojo I"ve been for the past 15 yrs....

Janet Rosen
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Old 08-25-2011, 08:16 AM   #16
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
, I continue to be the happy idiot of the dojo I"ve been for the past 15 yrs....
how do you feel about that Janet?
tell me your relationship with your mother?
were you childhood a happy one?
and don't forget to leave your insurance information before we are done so i can file the claim under Dr. Phi aiki psychologist.
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Old 08-25-2011, 09:44 AM   #17
DH
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

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Toby Threadgill wrote: View Post
Hi Dan,
LOL.....Delusion and rationalization are powerful forces in life.
I agree that there will be some in aikido that follow the train of thought you outline, but there are other, more grounded individuals, that will resist the rationalizations you describe. Not everyone will trundle happily down aikido's version of the "primrose path".

Regards,
Toby Threadgill / TSYR
Hey Tobs
Actually I think most will follow that model to one degree or another. It's not an issue of lack of integrity or acknowledgement. it's a natural process of very talented people. My personal goals were to give them the tools to bring aiki back into their arts in a more profound way and let them run with it and also point them to other people as well. It's natural that they get a sense of ownership. I had a conversation with a fellow the other day who commented that in a mix that either he or I would go down. I thought to myself...you have never thrown me a day in your life and I have let you try and I was never even doing much to stop you.
What made him think that much has changed in the time we had trained together? His improvements!! Though they were made from my instruction they were based on his own work and his deeper understanding of things he already knew and had trained. That is where my points come to the forefront of the discussion.

My instruction awakened in him his own teachers movements, and now a deeper understanding of them and what he had been taught. It goes like this: while he gives credit to me, he thinks to himself, "Wait, I already know this stuff because my teacher did it and I have felt it and can do it to a degree."
I taught several Koryu guys who looked at me and said "oh my God that is ___________in my art," while person two says "holy crap that is____________in my art." Both say "That is how we move. No wonder I have had trouble with that, I've just been focused on the kata steps."
Last, I have had a number of people in ICMA and JMA that all have solo training. They do it....yet, they have no real power. I show them how those things are supposed to be done.
They think "Wow, this is what I was supposed to be feeling..."
and they remember their teacher.

These days I think it's like handing them a key to open the door to what they were supposed to be doing. They are full of wonder, busy making it work, feeling things inside, sharing, talking, bringing it into their practice, training with others and looking at a body of work that is bigger than us all, but they really had no actual ability to see it all before. Now, all of their hard work, sweat, failure, trying and testing brings about a sense of ownership, as it should.
There are many many examples of this.
I mentioned Ueshiba, but look at all of Takeda's guys. Every one of them said he was amazing, and in their next breath started talking about how they saw more and went beyond him.
On any other day I will credit where I got what, but I am fully capable of showing what the model was and how I discovered this or that and changed the bodywork. I did this with four people from Daito ryu, who recognized core principles but were clueless to see what it really meant and where it could go.
The Chinese arts are full of these same stories. I've lost track of the examples of master class guys saying..."everyone else didn't get this or that, I realized thus and such on my own..." It's the nature of the work. One of the reaons they call it "Exploring the internal landscape."

In none of the examples above are the people ungrateful users (I'm very grateful for what I have been given). Again, it's just the nature of the work. The work reveals the truth, which reveals the truth in many other arts. It's the reason Ueshiba said "Takeda opened my eyes to true Budo."

Once your eyes are opened, you see these things everywhere. It was never about one individual.
Cheers
Dan

Last edited by DH : 08-25-2011 at 09:57 AM.
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Old 08-25-2011, 10:31 AM   #18
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Edit: The aiki that people are looking for is a shared undercurrent in the deeper arts. As such it cannot be assigned to single sources, nor something as absurd as Aikido's aiki being different than Non Aikido martial tradition's aiki. That statement alone reveals the low level of true understanding of the person stating it. Many think the new category was created out of this belief by Jun. That's simply not true. I think with Jun it was more like a father being patient with children who haven't gown up yet to see the world for what it actually is.

It is understandable that when a person first encounters this type of work and they have no prior experience or exposure they assign it to the teacher showing it to them. It's a grand power play for a narcissistic teacher to revel in the acknowledgment and draw all eyes to himself. The healthier ones point outward and offer the deeper truth that there are others, mostly likely better, who have an understanding of this work. And that the work itself exists in many arts. Anyone who says things like "Other than myself, there are only a few people who know this stuff..." ought to be avoided
When the more experienced people feel it and are shown it, they draw to other similar experiences and teachers and start to put two and two together. Most of the cautions and warning are not needed as you are speaking to a more educated and aware mind. They are more apt to see it for what it is and contextually place it in the broader discussion of the arts. Among them, I have not seen it reduced to personality or single individual vision. They have gone out to feel/ test and experience an ever broader sampling of those teaching these skills.
I have argued -successfully I hope- that there really can be no it guy, no individual. Credit or no, acknowledged or not, there is a broader knowledge everyone needs to be exposed to and work toward. And what it continues to reveal to those researching it, is that there is no Aikido aiki...that is different than Non Aikido Martial tradtions aiki. The concept is pure nonsense and doesn't withstand scrutiny. This erroneous belief is gradually being replaced by a better education of Aikido adepts.

All the best
Dan

Last edited by DH : 08-25-2011 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 08-25-2011, 12:02 PM   #19
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Quote:
Lipyeow Lim wrote: View Post

too radical ?

Lipyeow
Not for me - but I may not be the best guy to ask .

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-29-2011, 12:41 PM   #20
DH
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

I am actually surprised that this didn't lead to some thoughtful discussion on Shu, Ha, Ri, ownership and growth. Oh well.
Cheers
Dan
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Old 08-29-2011, 01:14 PM   #21
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Speaking of Shu-Ha-Ri and ownership, I wrote this essay a year ago. Doesn't just apply to Bujutsu, but all forms of knowledge, I believe. Also note that I wrote this when I was still going to Tokyo to train with the Aunkai. I no longer do:

"The world is my oyster and library, you cannot hide pearls and knowledge from me."

I basically came to Japan wanting to learn Bujutsu of the Aunkai method. I thought that I would live near Tokyo, go to class every weekend, and soak up all the teachings of Akuzawa-sensei. Instead, I was sent by the JET Programme to the Kansai area and so I wouldn't have regular access to Bujutsu training.

In Japan, there is a teaching model called Shu-Ha-Ri, and it is a tried and true model in producing excellence in the students. The process involves close intimacy with the teacher, where you are required to not question the teacher's demands from you (not just demands in martial arts, think about "Karate Kid" and how Mr. Miyagi made Daniel clean his place and how he told Daniel not to question him) and essentially copy the teacher's lifestyle. You do all this for martial skill. Deviation (Ha) and ultimately innovation (Ri) from and away the teacher's mindset comes after you have been initiated and have spent considerable time absorbing all the teaching during the Shu phase.

Akuzawa-Sensei does not use the Shu-Ha-Ri model to produce martial excellence in his students. First, he has no uchi-deshi (live in student) program where we are given the opportunity to learn martial arts on a hourly and daily basis. Second, the Aunkai is not a koryu (古流)in the sense that the members have a priority to 'preserve' its traditions and its forms--Aunkai was just formed 7 years ago, and there are no forms, only a collection of exercises derived from different martial disciplines (Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu, Yagyu-Shingan Jujutsu, Hsing-I, Sumo, etc.) that allow us to explore pure movement.

From a standpoint where we believe Shu-Ha-Ri is the only model for producing excellence, we in the Aunkai are outta luck. There are more than 10 members in the Aunkai, and Akuzawa can't attend to all members, correcting every little mistake--with the Shu-Ha-Ri model, we are able to do that. More so in my case, I am outta luck. I only go there once a month to practise. Situations even this year have been more and more difficult and I haven't been able to go to Tokyo at all.

In this period, however, I was taught a lesson. I was taught that many people, because the instance was unfavorable, give up on knowledge. Of course, it is the teacher's responsibility to transmit knowledge, and we often criticize models like the Shu-Ha-Ri where the teacher can discriminate against a knowledge-seeker and do not initiate them in the process. However, we never look at it from the phenomenology of a student, where knowledge is the responsibility of the student. The instance itself is not the only place pregnant with knowledge--there many other places that produce knowledge. Having done Aunkai now for almost 3 years and being taught the 'the world as a laboratory' aspect of the method, and also being forced to be form communities where I can discuss bodyskill, movement, aiki, internal strength, etc. and also to also explore different arts revolve around the base and core of Bujutsu (from Systema to Daito Ryu Roppokai to BJJ), I have learned to be experimental and resourceful (qualities which are useful for fighting, btw) on how to exploit teachings and how to pass the fluff of forms and go straight to the core of an art's essence. It is very freeing, that I can go to Ark, and then go to back to Toronto to visit Vlad, and then go to Boston to see Dan Harden, or to go to the Bay area and work out with Tim's xingyi peeps and his Eskrima brothers, or to continue working with Okamoto's peeps in Osaka and test out my skills with BJJ peeps, see all the similar principles at work within all these systems, and to have my interpretations reinforced or corrected by going back to Akuzawa sensei himself or to my community of bodyskill aficonados. In this case, the transmission of knowledge does not occur from teacher to student, but from many teachers and from the community of like-minded learners. Phenomenologically, the difference lies in the student exploiting his environment to learn, which differs from just passively (in the conceptual sense) receiving from a knowledgeable teacher.

This is not to criticize any models of transmission, but just to show what the options are for a student desirous of knowledge. Many of us will not have the privilege, nor the time, to be initiated into a Koryu, where we will absorb secrets through constant and intimate contact with a martial arts master. Do we give up on knowledge from there? We work with what we are given at the time--resourcefulness is an important trait in Bujutsu after all. For some of us, even though we are in our 'hearts' students already, the teacher may not appear, as the saying goes. But in the mean time, our passion for knowledge will not discourage us, even if knowledge is deliberately hidden from us and if we are denied access to the esoteric knowledge of martial arts; we squeeze everything out of our environment to get a clue and a peek into the knowledge that we are after.

I don't know of any martial artist (or musician or painter or writer--this just doesn't apply to martial arts) that reached admirable levels of mastery without close connection to an attentive teacher, but hopefully our passion for knowledge will help create a new breed of learners.

Unless stated otherwise, all wisdom, follies, harshness, malice that may spring up from my writing are attributable only to me.
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Old 08-29-2011, 01:24 PM   #22
Chris Li
 
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Quote:
Lorel Latorilla wrote: View Post
Speaking of Shu-Ha-Ri and ownership, I wrote this essay a year ago.
Really nice post. I agree - this kind of training goes a long way to getting people out of the boxes of their particular arts.

Additionally, the study group model itself is refreshing, although I think that it definitely takes some people a little bit of time to get used to the less structured approach.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-29-2011, 02:07 PM   #23
thisisnotreal
 
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Lorel, I really liked that.
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Old 08-29-2011, 02:59 PM   #24
Janet Rosen
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Good post, Lorel.

I believe that once the traditional atelier/guild model broke down in Western Europe, by the mid 1800s there were considerable number of painters we consider masters who were not the result of One Teacher but of multiple influences, often a small community of other painters and/or a period of shared work space with a peer who ended up a mentor.

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Old 08-29-2011, 03:24 PM   #25
Lorel Latorilla
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Re: The continuing Aikido or Non aikido aiki debate and what is or isn't aiki

Chris: Yeah the structureless thing. I was always in some sense an autodidact, so it was never an issue or a difficulty for me. I find great great great joy in exploring things by myself.

Josh: You never emailed me back, dude!

Janet: Wow, very interesting. Can you point me to links that discusses that?

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