Welcome to AikiWeb Aikido Information
AikiWeb: The Source for Aikido Information
AikiWeb's principal purpose is to serve the Internet community as a repository and dissemination point for aikido information.

Sections
home
aikido articles
columns

Discussions
forums
aikiblogs

Databases
dojo search
seminars
image gallery
supplies
links directory

Reviews
book reviews
video reviews
dvd reviews
equip. reviews

News
submit
archive

Miscellaneous
newsletter
rss feeds
polls
about

Follow us on



Home > AikiWeb Aikido Forums
Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > External Aikido Blog Posts

Hello and thank you for visiting AikiWeb, the world's most active online Aikido community! This site is home to over 22,000 aikido practitioners from around the world and covers a wide range of aikido topics including techniques, philosophy, history, humor, beginner issues, the marketplace, and more.

If you wish to join in the discussions or use the other advanced features available, you will need to register first. Registration is absolutely free and takes only a few minutes to complete so sign up today!

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 07-08-2012, 01:12 PM   #1
OwlMatt
 
OwlMatt's Avatar
Dojo: Milwaukee Aikikai
Location: Wisconsin
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 401
United_States
Offline
Gentleman



I have just finished reading Brad Miner's The Compleat Gentleman.

The book calls itself "The Modern Man's Guide to Chivalry", and attempts to assemble a general model of the perfect chivalrous man. The Compleat Gentleman, says Miner, is sophisticated and brave, personifying the virtues of the Warrior, the Lover, and the Monk, and is rich in sprezzatura, that is, gentlemanly grace and restraint.

On the whole, I found the book to be extensively flawed. For all Miner's lip-service to an apolitical ideal, his idea of chivalry is inextricably bound up with his strongly conservative political views. Miner is adamant that a gentleman's honor is worth fighting and dying for, but he never bothers to explain what honor means to him. Worst of all, while the book makes clear that the modern gentleman "has a newer and more realistic view of women" than his historical predecessors, Miner never once considers the possibility that a woman might fulfill his ideals as well as a man.

All that said, the book did give me a few things to think about.

Miner is a student of Goju Ryu karate, and what he writes about karate in his book leads me to believe that he is, like me, a relative newcomer who didn't begin his martial arts journey until adulthood. Nonetheless, the martial arts are important to his model of the perfect gentleman:
Quote:
Life is a martial art. It is anyway if you do it right. As the Stoics of ancient Rome used to say: Vivere militare! How can our modern knight protect the innocent and punish the guilty unless, along with his courage and honor, he has prowess?
Let's put aside for now the question of whose duty it really is to "punish the guilty", and also the question of whether or not Miner's karate or my aikido amount to real prowess. What interests me most is Miner's idea that prowess is a key ingredient of the true gentleman.

Does a gentleman need martial training? And if he does, does our martial training, therefore, bring us closer to being gentlemen?

Many of us like to think so. We like stories of the Celtic warrior-poet, the samurai philosopher, the rapier-wielding Renaissance man, and (if we are taekwondo players) the ancient Korean hwarang youth, each a sophisticated man educated in the various arts of peace but trained and ready for combat.

I'm a musician--a damn good one if I do say so myself--so I like to think I have the "poet" half of the warrior-poet equation down pretty well already. With some more martial arts training, could I join the ranks of history's great gentlemen?

I am reminded of the popular series of Dos Equis beer commercials featuring "The Most Interesting Man in the World". The character would perhaps not satisfy all of Miner's gentlemanly criteria (not enough of a monk, I think), but he does in many ways embody the popular ideal of the gentleman, that is, a man who is sophisticated and cool without being weak. He rescues trapped animals, he woos women, and he plays at politics, but he is equally at home arm-wrestling or wielding a shinai in a kendo match. The commercials' narrator says of him, "He could disarm you with his looks... or his hands, either way," and, "He's a lover, not a fighter, but he's also a fighter, so don't get any ideas."

Be honest: what guy doesn't want to be that guy?

Much as I often criticize romanticism in the martial arts, I must confess this image appeals to me a great deal. I didn't start my martial arts training with the single-minded goal of becoming a great martial arts master; I wanted to add one more piece to myself, a piece that would make me a more complete human being, a more "interesting" man.

I have written before on how I feel my training has prepared me to face life's challenges with a little more grace. And, stylized as my aikido may be, I suspect I am a little readier for a physical confrontation than I was before, too. Both of these, Miner and the Most Interesting Man in the World seem to agree, are key ingredients of the gentleman. Is it such a bad thing, then, to pursue this romantic ideal in the dojo? I am starting to think not.

Of course, we must pursue this ideal outside the dojo, too. Miner's Compleat Gentleman and the Most Interesting Man in the World are not just fighters. They are jacks-of-all-trades, well-traveled and broadly educated.

I keep saying that I want to make a deeper study of Buddhism, that I want to learn to speak Spanish, that I want to improve my cooking, and that I want to be more diligent in the gym. If I am to be the perfect gentleman, I'm going to need all these things, and I'm going to need to fit them in around working, being a husband, and raising a daughter. It's not for no reason that Don Quixote calls it "the impossible dream".

But even if it is impossible (and, skeptic that I am, I'm pretty sure it is), I think it might be a worthwhile pursuit. And I think my time in the dojo can help.

(This piece can be found on The Young Grasshoppper here.)

  Reply With Quote

Please visit our sponsor:

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!



Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
what does the 'shi' mean? Paula Lydon Language 9 11-16-2003 09:37 PM


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:07 AM.



vBulletin Copyright © 2000-2014 Jelsoft Enterprises Limited
----------
Copyright 1997-2014 AikiWeb and its Authors, All Rights Reserved.
----------
For questions and comments about this website:
Send E-mail
plainlaid-picaresque outchasing-protistan explicantia-altarage seaford-stellionate