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Old 08-15-2012, 08:26 PM   #1
Janet Rosen
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Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

I am putting this in Open Forums because I'm just not sure where to fit it....

The increasing polarization of Aikiweb over the past year or two with a predictable pattern of mutual ad hominem attacks and the breakdown of many threads has been bothering me a lot. The latest devolving thread, "Re: Ki Testing..." got me upset enough to sit down and focus and write.

I make no special claims here...I am very much a "hobbyist" aikido person in the sense that, having come to it late in life in an attempt to get some kind of exercise, with very little kinesthetic or athletic skill or practice, and with the family and financial obligations of middle age that make it rate a distinct third level priority in the juggling of daily life. If I have any "cred" here or in the dojo it is because I took to the art on a purely emotional level the moment I bowed in - however frustrating a given class might be, I LOVE training - and because I think about aikido a lot and seem to be able to articulate some things about that folks can relate to. So yeah, take what I say with as many grains or kilos of salt as you like. Know this for sure though: my "motives" are straightforward.

I valued the old aikido-l, and came to value aikiweb, for the "Big Tent" approach. I may not completely understand what all the exercises and ideas behind a particular style of aikido are, but starting with our 1998 aikido-l list seminar I've made an effort to get on the mat with as many types as aikido folks as I can get to. First because I'm really curious and second to try and better myself. I've always been made welcome and always came away withe something positive, something of value.This includes having gotten off my butt and gone to meet and train, once each, with both Mike Sigman and with Dan Harden.

What I'm about to say had NOTHING to do with the relative merits of any individual or any school, style or system. It has to do with Aikiweb as a place for folks to meet and talk respectfully.

I always enjoy reading a thread in which somebody either asks a question about a particular aspect of training (say, competition in Shodokan Aikido) or compares and contrasts (say, what "randori" comprises in different styles), or posts some thoughts about a particular aspect of training (say, ki testing in a dojo with that lineage).

In my opinion, respecting the actual training that many of our members enjoy for whatever their reasons should be a hallmark of Aikiweb. Let me be very clear: I am NOT talking about allowing absurd claims from no-kyu charlatans or those who invent schoolrs or rank to go unchallenged. I will be really pissed off if anybody hijacks this thread to claim that is what I'm saying. I am talking about mainstream aikido within lineages we are familiar with. I'm talking about understanding that for whatever reasons, people are training in aikido and enjoying training in aikido and it is meeting their goals or expectations.

The moment I read what follows, I knew it was going to be the derailment of what was to me, until then, a very interesting beginning of a thread Mary started on the subject of ki testing:

"It is important to realize that cooperative ki testing within the martial arts has sever limitiations and is all but utter nonsense when it comes to practical use of aiki outside of the "martial arts."
Most teachers and students I have met (well...all really) cannot use ki under high stress; they simply fall apart. I have a very strong belief that under severe pressure the Japanese Shihan (including those who teach ki and internals) would simply be taken apart by those who themselves develop ki in high stress/high pressure environments. And yes I mean the famous ones."

Dan, this may well all be TRUE. You've got the years, experience, and training to back up your assertions and I don't doubt the veracity of what you are writing. But it ended up being a thread-killer for those on Aikiweb who do train in dojos where ki testing is done, who find it has a place in their regular training, and for any of us who are interested in reading about or writing about it. All of a sudden instead of talking about ki testing, it is a battle about the way people train.

I understand you think that ki testing hasn't done a damn thing to enhance martial practice. But if Aikiweb is to be an online forum for the broad spectrum of people who enjoy training in aikido, there needs to be a baseline respect for the disparity and breadth of all aikido and frankly sometimes that just means choosing not to post so that people who DO a certain mainstream practice can discuss among themselves the things that interest them. On that level, while I have theutmost respect for your work, your training and your teaching, I sympathize with Mary's frustration when she replied, "Perhaps we should just call this site DanWeb."

One thing I have learned, not in the dojo, but as a nurse and a family member, is that "being right" isn't always the most important thing. How we comport ourselves among others is.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 08-15-2012, 11:02 PM   #2
akiy
 
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Hi folks,

Well said, Janet. Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts and for having the integrity to step forward to share them with us. (I have moved this thread into the "Announcements & Feedback" forum.)

As you and others here know, I created (and continue to maintain) AikiWeb as a place for people to come together to discuss aikido -- a place for meaningful exchange of ideas, experiences, and opinions about the art. Such an endeavor for such an exchange on the Internet isn't new. Many people here, myself included, have participated in places like the Aikido-L mailing list and the rec.martial-arts Usenet newsgroups in days past.

One thing I witnessed in these former "Internet aikido discussion groups" were instances when people of a certain aikido background (eg Aikikai, Yoshinkan, Ki Society, Tomiki) explicitly or implicitly put down another group due to differences in their manner of training -- in essence, a "my style is better than your style" kind of discussion. Or, worse yet, these discussions sometimes actually became a "your style is worse than my style" argument.

These days, there is very little of such "style" wars. However, the same kind of divisive language and polarizing rhetoric can be seen in other ways. Specifically, the manner of discussion surrounding "internal training" has made it seemingly difficult for some discussions to take place productively.

I very well understand that the manner of training espoused in internal training methods go counter to some of what is practiced by many aikido practitioners -- so, of course, the discussion will sometimes need to highlight such differences. Yet, what I have seen feels like an increasing amount of condemnations, disparagement, and even seeming contempt for what the majority of people in aikido are practicing -- and are even enjoying practicing.

Frankly, if this continues, I can only see AikiWeb being a place only for those who subscribe to internal training. Although some of you may think that would be a positive destination, that is not where I want to see AikiWeb end up -- just as I do not want the site to become only for those practicing Aikikai, only for those practicing Yoshinkan, only for those practicing Ki Society, and so on.

Again -- that is not where I want to see AikiWeb ending up.

Of course, I want there to be expressions of differing opinions.  And, of course, I want that expression to be heartfelt and passionate.  What I do not want is AikiWeb to have divisive rhetoric.  What I do not want is AikiWeb to be just a small number of polarized factions.

My requests are simple. Be respectful in your discussions. Keep your discussions directed toward the topic and not toward the people behind the topic. Contribute positively to the discussion.

And, I will only echo what Janet wrote above, as she has done it better than I can right now: "if Aikiweb is to be an online forum for the broad spectrum of people who enjoy training in aikido, there needs to be a baseline respect for the disparity and breadth of all aikido and frankly sometimes that just means choosing not to post so that people who DO a certain mainstream practice can discuss among themselves the things that interest them."

So, please, folks. Let's steer these discussions away from divisive and polarizing language but towards a rich and meaningful exchange of ideas, experiences, thoughts, and opinions.

I appreciate your attention and welcome your thoughts regarding any of this.

Best regards,

-- Jun

Please help support AikiWeb -- become an AikiWeb Contributing Member!
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Old 08-16-2012, 02:22 AM   #3
tarik
 
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

I have to jump in and say that my own level of participation has dropped precipitously in part because of the level of discourse. I have certainly had spirited conversations and disagreements in my day, but they were always in the spirit of debating a specific issue and not putting down entire groups.

Great post, Janet, but you're likely only preaching to the choir.

Best,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 08-16-2012, 03:27 AM   #4
PeterR
 
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Ditto

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-16-2012, 08:47 AM   #5
PhillyKiAikido
 
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Ditto
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Old 08-16-2012, 08:52 AM   #6
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

I made one comment in the "ki testing" thread and then opted out, for one reason: it's not part of my practice, I don't really know anything about it, and I'd be blowing hot air if I opined on it. I agree with what Janet has said: I don't really think that it's the place of outsiders like myself, who don't participate in a practice, to participate in a discussion of that practice, unless we can do so 1)in a spirit of true inquiry and 2)without derailing the discussion. To elaborate:

In a spirit of true inquiry: this means that you recognize that you don't know about the subject, you come to it with an open mind, and you want to learn more about it. It does not mean coming into a discussion with your inexperienced pre-formed opinion that something is worthless and trying to challenge it and pick it apart. It also does not mean coming into the discussion having tried the practice and decided it's not for you. I don't like rutabagas; that doesn't mean it's appropriate for me to charge into discussions on the cooking of rutabagas and rail about how awful they are. You don't have to eat rutabagas, and you don't have to test ki, and your opinion on either subject is really not needed. The world will continue to spin if you simply keep your opinion to yourself. In the highly unlikely event that someone asks, you can simply politely volunteered, "It's not my thing" and move on.

Without derailing the discussion: if you've got basic questions about something, there are probably better places to ask them (or ways to find answers) than injecting them into a discussion of the practice by current practitioners. Questions about the practice by an open-minded non-participant
don't always derail a discussion among those who do participate in a practice...but they can, so I think it's good to exercise some care about this.

One final thought: if the idea of not injecting challenging, contrary opinions into a thread on ki testing (or rutabagas) seems like an infringement on self-expression, or like it undermines the spirit of free inquiry, or whatever...try replacing the phrase "ki testing" with "zazen". Imagine an aikiweb in which no one could start a thread on zazen without some non-sitting individuals feeling the need to challenge the basic validity of the practice, offer their opinion that it's a waste of time, disparage the accounts of people's practice, etc. Would we praise this behavior as intellectual prowess and a free-thinking spirit of inquiry? Or would we see it differently?
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Old 08-16-2012, 09:26 AM   #7
Jim Sorrentino
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Hi Jun,
Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote: View Post
My requests are simple. Be respectful in your discussions. Keep your discussions directed toward the topic and not toward the people behind the topic. Contribute positively to the discussion.

[snip]

So, please, folks. Let's steer these discussions away from divisive and polarizing language but towards a rich and meaningful exchange of ideas, experiences, thoughts, and opinions.

I appreciate your attention and welcome your thoughts regarding any of this.
I have a few suggestions to help implement your requests and enrich the exchanges:

1) Avoid argument from authority. The fact that X-Shihan said something that supports one's own position in a discussion is interesting, but is not, in itself, rational discourse.

2) Avoid argument from anonymous authority. Asserting that "A high-ranking or very experienced person who must not be named said something significant," is worth even less than argument from authority, because the anonymity of the source prevents anyone else from meaningfully examining the rational basis of the assertion. Similarly, stating something along the lines of "X-Sensei decided turn down an invitation to teach at Y-Dojo for reasons that are public - and a lot more that are private," is not really helpful. By definition, if it's private, it does not belong in a public forum, and a reference to it serves only to imply that the writer has some special, secret knowledge.

3) If using sources other than one's own experience and rationally supported opinions to support one's arguments, cite those sources so that others may look at the text and interpret it for themselves. This is especially helpful if the source is in a foreign language, and open to differences in translation.

4) If the discussion concerns a video, and one wants to criticize the quality of the movement which the video shows, then one should post another video showing a demonstration of the movement performed in a better way. Further, the critic should be able to state clearly why the movement in the second video is better. ("Behold!" is not a reason. ) The "answering" video need not be of the person who is criticizing the video in question, but it should show movement similar enough for the people in the discussion to use it to compare and contrast with the video in question. If one is not willing to take the risk that AikiWeb's readers may mimic movement that they view in a video, but do not understand, then one should not not participate in the discussion.

5) Remember that mystery is not a substitute for rational discourse. Stating something like, "We have never seen an Aikido teacher --- to include over a dozen shihan --- be capable of surviving or successfully pulling off our first warm up exercise," does not advance the discussion if there is no accompanying description or depiction of the warm-up exercise. (Please notice that this quote is also an example of argument from anonymous authority, with its reference to a dozen nameless shihan.)

Rational discussion is, in its own way, as difficult as anything we may attempt on the mat --- especially when the subject of the discussion is physical experience.

Jim

Last edited by Jim Sorrentino : 08-16-2012 at 09:37 AM.

Not having anything around to read is dangerous: you have to content yourself with life itself, and that can lead you to take risks. - M. Houellebecq, Platform
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Old 08-16-2012, 09:28 AM   #8
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

FWIW, I kind of felt the same way about the post Janet mentioned, even though the thread had been dead for nearly two weeks at that point. Rather than get annoyed by it I kept politely pushing Dan to expand on his post, ask the questions he wanted to ask clearly and offer some examples of how he does it and to his credit, he delivered. It was, IMO, one of the best posts he's ever made here. So while it may have come off initially as a thread killer, I don't think it ended that way.

Beyond that I like what Mary said. Online we often forget how easy it is to just walk away and let it go.
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Old 08-16-2012, 10:54 AM   #9
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

I think, by now, the positions and training philosophies of most of the frequent posters around here are pretty well known, as are the areas of disagreement among them. So I'm not sure what it accomplishes to state those positions over and over, with increasing volume. The horses are dead, folks.

Which is why I'm not around much lately. Aikiweb interests me only to the extent that it enhances my on-mat practice, and recently it hasn't really done that.

Katherine
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Old 08-16-2012, 11:17 AM   #10
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

This is a great post. The world would be a better place if Aikiweb as a community valued a diverse approach to Aikido training.

As Ellis Amdur has said this forum is somewhat more palatable when viewed through a well populated ignore list, but that creates a significant barrier of entry for people who are new or not familliar with the features of the forum.

I do not agree with the world of haves and have-nots that has been proposed here over the last several years, and I will continue to find this community distasteful as long as it continues.

Last edited by bkedelen : 08-16-2012 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 08-16-2012, 12:41 PM   #11
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
Dan, this may well all be TRUE. You've got the years, experience, and training to back up your assertions and I don't doubt the veracity of what you are writing. But it ended up being a thread-killer for those on Aikiweb who do train in dojos where ki testing is done, who find it has a place in their regular training, and for any of us who are interested in reading about or writing about it. All of a sudden instead of talking about ki testing, it is a battle about the way people train.

I understand you think that ki testing hasn't done a damn thing to enhance martial practice. But if Aikiweb is to be an online forum for the broad spectrum of people who enjoy training in aikido, there needs to be a baseline respect for the disparity and breadth of all aikido and frankly sometimes that just means choosing not to post so that people who DO a certain mainstream practice can discuss among themselves the things that interest them. On that level, while I have theutmost respect for your work, your training and your teaching, I sympathize with Mary's frustration when she replied, "Perhaps we should just call this site DanWeb."

One thing I have learned, not in the dojo, but as a nurse and a family member, is that "being right" isn't always the most important thing. How we comport ourselves among others is.
Janet, I hope you know I have a lot of respect for you, but ... this was a major sigh moment for me.

You said, "there needs to be a baseline respect for the disparity and breadth of all aikido" while stating that certain groups in that same breadth of all aikido should just shut up.

Reading the Ki thread that got closed, I once again find that it is the "harmony" and "blending" group of Modern Aikido who are the ones who do *not* have the "baseline respect for the disparity and breadth of all aikido".

I mean, really, you can count at least three times Mary Eastland brought the thread subject straight to the personality of Dan. (Danweb 29, how great thou art 41, and platform to market 54)

I can count zero times Dan brought the thread subject to any personality (of the posters). Instead, it was a conversation pointing to the depth of abilities and skills of the aikido greats. You know, those men who stood out as exemplary examples of aikido.

You (plural) want respect for the disparity of aikido until a group shows up with a far different viewpoint and/or cause and then it's disparity of aikido *except* for that group which just needs to STFU.

It's a public forum where people express their opinions regarding their training. And, sadly enough, it's been 99% of the time, the "peace and harmony" "Aikido" group that brings the discussion to the personal level.

Instead of just stating something as simple as, "yes, you're training is different, but I'd like to just talk about how we approach things", you get, "Danweb", etc.

Instead of, "yes, I understand that Shioda, Tomiki, Shirata, Mochizuki, Tohei could do these things that we can't do (which, really groups together a lot of us) and you seem to be able to, but I'd like to talk about how we are approaching our organization/dojo/group's training", we get it'd be better if your group just didn't post at all.

You (plural) post you want respect for the breadth of all aikido but then go on to tell us to shut up. Where is the respect in that?

In the end, I still would like to train with you (plural) because I think the Internet is *not* a communication device at all. It's just an information medium that people think can be used to communicate. With that in mind, I try to keep an open mind about people. Meeting them usually goes far, far better.

Mark

P.S. And Jim is just using this thread to post yet another personal jab at Dan. All seemingly politely, mind you. The intent behind it was not and IMO is deplorable.
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Old 08-16-2012, 01:05 PM   #12
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Instead of, "yes, I understand that Shioda, Tomiki, Shirata, Mochizuki, Tohei could do these things that we can't do (which, really groups together a lot of us) and you seem to be able to, but I'd like to talk about how we are approaching our organization/dojo/group's training", we get it'd be better if your group just didn't post at all..
Mark:

You want people to say "yes, I understand that Shioda, Tomiki, Shirata, Mochizuki, Tohei could do these things that we can't do (which, really groups together a lot of us) and you seem to be able to, but I'd like to talk about how we are approaching our organization/dojo/group's training". What's the context here? What would the antecedents of this statement be? What would this statement be in reply to? Give me an example, a made-up dialogue if you will, at which you think this model statement would be an appropriate response.
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Old 08-16-2012, 01:16 PM   #13
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
You (plural) want respect for the disparity of aikido until a group shows up with a far different viewpoint and/or cause and then it's disparity of aikido *except* for that group which just needs to STFU.
Mark,

It's not "STFU". It's "state your experience, opinion or disagreement, then step back and allow others to state theirs". I think we want to encourage the "far different viewpoints", not drive them away. I for one have come to enjoy the IP discussions when they stay on topic and maintain a respectful tone, on threads where they are relevant.

Having said that, Jun's remarks are not directed specifically at Dan or at the IP "theme". This is a reminder to everyone that it is not necessary to dig in and defend your opinion at all costs against all parties that express disagreement. Additionally, personal attacks are never appropriate, even in response to real or perceived personal attacks. We can only have a healthy, respectful discussion community if everybody contributes with that goal in mind.

Guidelines for maintaining collective sanity on Aikiweb:
  • Just say what you want to say (relavent to the topic).
  • Don't take it personally if someone disagrees with you.
  • Don't try to convince the world of your opinion (it's not going to happen).
  • Re-post if you have something new to add to the conversation, not just to say the same thing as before, but LOUDER (by dominating a thread, walls of text, bullying people into submission, etc.).
  • Ignore all personal attacks on yourself or others. Flame wars are genuinely harmful and upsetting for the parties involved.

Aikiweb is a very cool thing, and I for one have a certain fondness for the people on here that I have never even met in person (even the ones I disagree with!). Let's not give up on it out of frustration. Let's agree to go in a better direction for the benefit of all.

Excuse me now while I go clear my ignore list.

Peace,

Conrad
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Old 08-16-2012, 01:22 PM   #14
Jim Sorrentino
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Mark,
Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
P.S. And Jim is just using this thread to post yet another personal jab at Dan. All seemingly politely, mind you. The intent behind it was not and IMO is deplorable.
You're mistaken. Jun made several requests:
1) Be respectful in your discussions.

2) Keep your discussions directed toward the topic and not toward the people behind the topic.

3) Contribute positively to the discussion.
He also stated an overall goal of "steer[ing] these discussions away from divisive and polarizing language but towards a rich and meaningful exchange of ideas, experiences, thoughts, and opinions."

I suggested five guidelines for implementing Jun's requests which I believe would achieve his goals for AikiWeb. I didn't mention Dan. My intent was to improve the quality of the discussion on AikiWeb. What is your opinion of each of the guidelines I suggested? In your reply, please "keep your discussions directed toward the topic and not toward the people behind the topic." Also, characterizing other opinions as "STFU" seems disrespectful --- please don't do that again.

Jim

Not having anything around to read is dangerous: you have to content yourself with life itself, and that can lead you to take risks. - M. Houellebecq, Platform
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Old 08-16-2012, 01:23 PM   #15
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Looking back at the fist post on the thread in question, and the response cited by Dan in the first post by this thread - it seems to me that Dan's response is exactly on topic, in a discussion on competition or non-competition in Ki training.

Isn't the whole point of a forum about vigorous discussion from people with varying opinions? If that's not the desired result than a blog seems the better option to me.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-16-2012, 01:31 PM   #16
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
I think, by now, the positions and training philosophies of most of the frequent posters around here are pretty well known, as are the areas of disagreement among them. So I'm not sure what it accomplishes to state those positions over and over, with increasing volume. The horses are dead, folks.
This.

There are a number of subjects that seem to inspire two very different kinds of posts (often from the same people in a different context, BTW). One is when a bunch of people interested in the topic get together and have a discussion on their shared positive training experiences, things they've learned, suggestions of others to train with, neat things they noticed, etc. The other is more about arguing with people who aren't particularly interested in what the poster is doing about why they should be interested in what the poster is doing instead of in what they are actually interested in, and often happens in the context of a thread started to discuss something that the original posters were interested in discussing. These distinctions happen in many subjects, the internal training stuff is just one recent example but not the only one.

The first feels to someone reading like a positive discussion, and is possibly even interesting to others, at least some of the time (though other times not, which is fine too). It reads like content about something. It occasionally draws you in and makes you read bits of it and go 'hmmm'. The second, whether the poster intends it that way or not, feels to someone reading more like a rant than like content, and is almost guaranteed to make anyone who didn't already agree with the poster before they started talking get very turned off by the subject (and possibly by the individual as well).

I'm going to assume that most people who have favourite subjects that they post passionately about do so at least in part because they genuinely want to get others interested in what they're talking about, not turned off or disgusted or bored. I think any of us in that position would do well to consider our goals and what is productive or counter-productive to our goals. As well as accepting the basic human fact that however hard we try we can't decide what others will be interested in; we can only do what we can to make it more likely (and not less likely).
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Old 08-16-2012, 01:43 PM   #17
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Isn't the whole point of a forum about vigorous discussion from people with varying opinions?
Hi Chris,

I tried to speak to that in my comment above. As a generic statement, that sounds good, but for it to be valid and practical, we need to be a little clearer about what a "discussion" is. The simple act of injecting speech (or text) into a conversation is not the same thing as participating in a discussion. If a group of people are talking about the best way to prepare rutabagas, and someone comes along and opines that rutabagas suck and no one in their right mind cooks them, do we call that "vigorous discussion from people with varying opinions" and say it's a good thing?
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Old 08-16-2012, 01:49 PM   #18
MM
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Quote:
Conrad Gustafson wrote: View Post
Mark,

It's not "STFU". It's "state your experience, opinion or disagreement, then step back and allow others to state theirs". I think we want to encourage the "far different viewpoints", not drive them away. I for one have come to enjoy the IP discussions when they stay on topic and maintain a respectful tone, on threads where they are relevant.

Having said that, Jun's remarks are not directed specifically at Dan or at the IP "theme". This is a reminder to everyone that it is not necessary to dig in and defend your opinion at all costs against all parties that express disagreement. Additionally, personal attacks are never appropriate, even in response to real or perceived personal attacks. We can only have a healthy, respectful discussion community if everybody contributes with that goal in mind.

Guidelines for maintaining collective sanity on Aikiweb:
  • Just say what you want to say (relavent to the topic).
  • Don't take it personally if someone disagrees with you.
  • Don't try to convince the world of your opinion (it's not going to happen).
  • Re-post if you have something new to add to the conversation, not just to say the same thing as before, but LOUDER (by dominating a thread, walls of text, bullying people into submission, etc.).
  • Ignore all personal attacks on yourself or others. Flame wars are genuinely harmful and upsetting for the parties involved.

Aikiweb is a very cool thing, and I for one have a certain fondness for the people on here that I have never even met in person (even the ones I disagree with!). Let's not give up on it out of frustration. Let's agree to go in a better direction for the benefit of all.

Excuse me now while I go clear my ignore list.

Peace,

Conrad
Let me explain in a bit more detail. Regarding Jun, I fully agree with his post. The only part that I have no answer for is this, "Yet, what I have seen feels like an increasing amount of condemnations, disparagement, and even seeming contempt for what the majority of people in aikido are practicing -- and are even enjoying practicing."

Me, the people I know, the people I train with, all do not condemn Modern Aikido (majority of people in aikido are practicing). There are many posts here by us that Modern Aikido has benefit and value. What we are stating is that most of Modern Aikido lacks aiki (Ueshiba's aiki). There's nothing I can do with how our posts "feel" to people. I don't have an answer for that. It's something each person must find in the mirror.

That most Modern Aikido lacks aiki is a truth. That there is a training methodology to gain aiki is a truth. That aiki would make Modern Aikido better is a truth. There is no degrading in any of those statements. No more than Ueshiba stating that aiki would make any religion better.

As for the STFU. I used a stronger term as a way to bring emphasis to the point. Note the sentence it was used in. Plurality of people wanting respect and a voice for all groups except for one which sort of negates the original premise completely. It was a point with emphasis, not a point against specific people.

Mark
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Old 08-16-2012, 01:55 PM   #19
Chris Li
 
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Hi Chris,

I tried to speak to that in my comment above. As a generic statement, that sounds good, but for it to be valid and practical, we need to be a little clearer about what a "discussion" is. The simple act of injecting speech (or text) into a conversation is not the same thing as participating in a discussion. If a group of people are talking about the best way to prepare rutabagas, and someone comes along and opines that rutabagas suck and no one in their right mind cooks them, do we call that "vigorous discussion from people with varying opinions" and say it's a good thing?
The only problem is - Dan never said that rutabagas suck:

Quote:
It is important to realize that cooperative ki testing within the martial arts has sever limitiations and is all but utter nonsense when it comes to practical use of aiki outside of the "martial arts."
Most teachers and students I have met (well...all really) cannot use ki under high stress; they simply fall apart. I have a very strong belief that under severe pressure the Japanese Shihan (including those who teach ki and internals) would simply be taken apart by those who themselves develop ki in high stress/high pressure environments. And yes I mean the famous ones.
He did say that cooperative rutabagas suck, which seems right on topic for me, since your original post was exactly on the point of cooperative vs. non-cooperative Ki testing.

FWIW, Dan does quite a lot of what would normally be classed as "Ki testing", and has advocated for it on Aikiweb on multiple occasions.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-16-2012, 01:57 PM   #20
Russ Q
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

When I read a topic starter by a "mainstream aikidoka" and there is a reply by an "IP practitioner" what I'm reading between the lines is that the IP guy is saying there is a lost paradigm in modern aikido practice. The "path to power" is not being taught today in mainstream aikido and likely wasn't taught to some of the present day big guns. So, when we have someone, for example, wanting to discuss ki testing within the milleu of their dojo/lineage then the IP guy pipes up...he's coming from a POV that is, essentially, saying "it's all for naught if you don't have this fundamental skill (at whatever level you may be at now) or are working on the development of this fundamental skill - IP" Therefore, if I'm (the IP guy) going to join the discussion it's from the POV that IP is the game changer. That without a basis in IP there is no discussion about ki testing (or whatever). Some may agree with that or not, most probably don't care and are happy to have the discussion from a more generally accepted and mainstream POV. The IP guy, it seems, cannot operate that way (nothing wrong with that btw) so if he is going to join the discussion it will always gravitate toward the need to bring IP development back into the training methods we currently employ because, without it, these methods are empty.

So, to achieve Janet's vision perhaps the IP guy(s) have to remain silent simply because IP is so integral to how they live, breath and see the world.

That said, I would have to agree with Jim's ideas on clear, polite discussion. If the IP guys can speak directly to the thread topic from their POV then that should be productive for participants and trolls alike. ie. "how much competitiveness is good/bad in a ki testing situation?" IP guy " we approach this kind of exercise this way.....". etc, etc.

Hope that isn't too disjointed and stream of consciousness like...:-)

Cheers,

Russ
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Old 08-16-2012, 01:58 PM   #21
Nicholas Eschenbruch
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Janet, thanks for opening this discussion.

While I have no easy explanations and cannot think of any clear culprits, I deplore two related things in recent months (geeh, is it years already?):

(1) I strongly believe in "modern aikido", as it is sometimes disparagingly called, as a fascinating practice which is "fun", for lack of a better word, and can change lives. So do most aikido practitioners. However, it seems very difficult these days to discuss it as such on aikiweb without intensive, almost ritualised reference to a lot of stuff that, for a huge majority of practitioners, has nothing to do with their practice for now. (Please note that I am not saying I agree with all of modern aikido; also note that I still belive Dan's teaching is invaluable for me personally)

(2) history - as it relates to the aikido most of us do - has recently been predominantly used in discussions here in a negative, backward looking and often fundamentalist (as in, back to the golden days) way. It is hardly ever used in a constructive, forward looking manner. I wonder whether there is still a gap between truly fascinating historical insights some of you have had, and, well, their practical relevance to what most of us do, which is modern aikido. I really look forward to the times when that gap will be bridged, but until then, we should treat each other with more tolerance and courtesy.

On the whole, I sometimes find it a little peculiar that opinions and arguments that do not contribute (or sometimes, even do not care about) modern aikido as a living practice get such bandwidth here.

Last edited by Nicholas Eschenbruch : 08-16-2012 at 02:02 PM.
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Old 08-16-2012, 02:02 PM   #22
MM
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Quote:
Jim Sorrentino wrote: View Post
Mark,

You're mistaken. Jun made several requests:
1) Be respectful in your discussions.

2) Keep your discussions directed toward the topic and not toward the people behind the topic.

3) Contribute positively to the discussion.
He also stated an overall goal of "steer[ing] these discussions away from divisive and polarizing language but towards a rich and meaningful exchange of ideas, experiences, thoughts, and opinions."

I suggested five guidelines for implementing Jun's requests which I believe would achieve his goals for AikiWeb. I didn't mention Dan. My intent was to improve the quality of the discussion on AikiWeb. What is your opinion of each of the guidelines I suggested? In your reply, please "keep your discussions directed toward the topic and not toward the people behind the topic."
That's really funny. Those "guidelines" of yours are exactly the same things you keep harping to Dan about ad nauseum in your posts to him.

Quote:
Jim Sorrentino wrote: View Post
Also, characterizing other opinions as "STFU" seems disrespectful --- please don't do that again.

Jim
Regarding STFU, read my post to Conrad. Twisting words to try to make me out to be a bad guy ain't gonna work. And using "please" in context with "don't do that again" ain't gonna work. You are, to put it simply, just another joe shmoe (as we all are) on aikiweb. If Jun has an issue with my choice of words, he will let me know. He always has. You, OTOH, have no power, right, nor responsibility to issue such statements. I mean really, "seems" disrespectful? "seems"? You didn't know? And if you didn't, why try to tell me to not do it again? Off of something you don't know if it was? Was that an attempt at being disingenuous trying to make other people look bad? Unlike you, I won't tell you what to do. Jun is more than capable of doing that.

Mark

Last edited by akiy : 08-16-2012 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 08-16-2012, 02:15 PM   #23
Marc Abrams
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

The beauty of this forum is that in becomes an in-vitro laboratory for people to work through ideas and beliefs about the practice of Aikido (and related arts). The significant limitation of this (and any other internet forum for that matter) is that it simply exists in cyberspace.

We are discussing, debating, etc. an area this is tangible. Martial arts exist as a "DNA legacy" of surviving physical/deadly conflicts. We no longer test those skills in seasonal battles amongst warring clan. The tests that some do employ have been tailored to allow for more than a live/die paradigm. Ultimately, the skills can or cannot live up to the claims made about them. I would like to believe ( I really do know better from reading some people's posts) that Aikidoka are unified in their shared belief that what O'Sensei taught was a MARTIAL art that was viable and stood up to repeated tests by many. I would like to believe that almost all of us would share a belief that O'Sensei's skills were unique to few and that they do not seem to be passed down as a whole entity. I would like to believe that many of us struggle to try and rediscover what made O'Sensei one of a handful of uniquely skilled martial artists at that point in history.

We can debate until time immemorial as to what those skills sets were and were not. There is a video legacy and first-hand account legacy (few of those people are alive today) to which we can begin to try and measure up to what we are seeking to achieve. There are those of us who go out and meet those who claim certain skill sets and abilities. We can see first-hand what we think that we know and can do. We can see first-hand what others think that they can do and know. These meetings have been occurring as long as martial arts has been around. Some of the meetings have been cordial and respectful, others were neutral in tone and others were deadly. Regardless of the nature of the meetings, the results spoke for themselves.

Today, we have people on the Aikiweb who make claims and steadfastly refuse back up what they allege. Today we have people on the Aikiweb who make claims and are out in the general public for some, if not all to experience. It is comical to me to read posts from those who refuse to meet others and find other verbal dance routines to avoid real contact, while at the same time claiming to know "better" than others. I do not expect that his pattern will cease by this thread, or many like it. Jun will continue to have to shut down threads because some people seem determined feel they have no obligation to have to live up to our shared heritage of real meetings and real results. This myopic pattern that exists within all styles of martial arts is only made worse in cyberspace.

Many of us take periodic breaks from posting due to this never-ending pattern of thread directions. This forum will hopefully continue to provide people with a variety of information (that significantly varies in relevance and reality-testing). The sad part is that in cyberspace, everybody can voice their opinions without having to stand behind their words. Many of us on the Aikiweb and other forums will continue to use this forum as an opportunity to broaden our understandings by taking words and ideas and having them tested and challenged so that we can remain anchored within martial realities. These realistic encounters and experiences are the foundations of respect within the martial community at large. Those who do not want to step up to realistic tests, experiments, challenges (it does not matter what you call them) have no one to blame but themselves when others end of disparaging what they say for lack of face-to-face candor.
In summary, I can only hope that we as a community display a more tempered approach in what we say, claim and ask for. The realities of martial arts breeds true humility, integrity and respect. That is why my closest friends are almost exclusively from the world of martial arts.

Marc Abrams

Last edited by akiy : 08-16-2012 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 08-16-2012, 02:16 PM   #24
Dan Rubin
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Even if I could truly "ignore" certain members, even if their posts were never "quoted" within the posts of others, I would be left with the annoyance and resentment of the remaining members. And threads would continue to be closed, and fewer (and fewer) members would contribute. Ellis had the right idea: members may join his IHTBF threads only if they have "felt it," essentially limiting those threads to members with something positive to contribute.

I suggest that Jun review the threads that he has closed and look for a common -- um -- thread. Might there be one particular member who appears in almost all of them? If so, might this particular member be in the habit of starting fights and keeping them going? Does this particular member have so much of value to contribute that his/her presence is worth the deterioration of AikiWeb?

Suppose that member -- if he or she exists -- were permanently banned from all but one forum, perhaps given his/her own forum, where he/she could be found and engaged by anyone who wished, leaving the rest of us in peaceful ignorance?
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Old 08-16-2012, 02:19 PM   #25
Conrad Gus
 
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Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Looking back at the fist post on the thread in question, and the response cited by Dan in the first post by this thread - it seems to me that Dan's response is exactly on topic, in a discussion on competition or non-competition in Ki training.

Isn't the whole point of a forum about vigorous discussion from people with varying opinions? If that's not the desired result than a blog seems the better option to me.

Best,

Chris
Chris,

I always take your posts seriously, but in this case I think you're wrong. I didn't read that thread at all, so I went back and read the OP and the post in question from Dan (here it is). He used the topic at hand as a convenient excuse to launch into an off-topic manifesto.

The subsequent posters are also responsible for the thread going off topic, as they respond to the manifesto instead of the OP. The thread doesn't ever get back on topic after that. Janet's point in this thread is valid, IMO.

Conrad
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