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Old 03-28-2013, 03:16 PM   #26
OwlMatt
 
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Re: how do we define martial?

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Dan Rubin wrote: View Post
...but, apparently, you're not interested in how we define "art." Why?
Because that is a different conversation entirely.

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Old 03-28-2013, 05:29 PM   #27
aiki-jujutsuka
 
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Re: how do we define martial?

Quote:
Dan Rubin wrote: View Post
...but, apparently, you're not interested in how we define "art." Why?
Nishio Sensei didn't create his own ryu of Aikido because he was dissatisfied with Aikido as an art form but as budo. Aikido's critics do not question it as an art form, they question it's combat/martial effectiveness. This is why I wanted to know whether there is a universal understanding/definition of what martial is, because it is important to the debate within the martial arts community. I've read people criticise Aikido for the techniques requiring too much compliancy to work, I've read criticisms for its apparent lack of atemi, I've read criticisms for its lack of competition and therefore the techniques being "untested". I have never read of anyone who criticises Aikido as an art form, for it not being sophisticated enough or not aesthetic or not philosophically satisfying etc.

For me Aikido is the epitomy of a martial art. It's techniques come from well established jutsu arts and their adaptation has resulted in a very pure, even beautiful use of blending and harmonization with your opponent's energy that is both martial and humanitarian. To watch Aikido being demonstrated is a wonderful experience, to see the waza being executed masterfully and their resulting effect in protecting uke and nage is truly art in motion.
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Old 03-29-2013, 01:17 AM   #28
Tore Eriksson
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Re: how do we define martial?

Quote:
Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
Nishio Sensei didn't create his own ryu of Aikido because he was dissatisfied with Aikido as an art form but as budo.
Off topic, but as far as I know Nishio-sensei never created his own ryu even if some people seem to try to create one now. I suppose you could call his Toho Iai "Nishio-ryu Iaido", but in that case who is the current soke?
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Old 03-29-2013, 08:53 AM   #29
Cliff Judge
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Re: how do we define martial?

Quote:
Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
Nishio Sensei didn't create his own ryu of Aikido because he was dissatisfied with Aikido as an art form but as budo. Aikido's critics do not question it as an art form, they question it's combat/martial effectiveness. This is why I wanted to know whether there is a universal understanding/definition of what martial is, because it is important to the debate within the martial arts community. I've read people criticise Aikido for the techniques requiring too much compliancy to work, I've read criticisms for its apparent lack of atemi, I've read criticisms for its lack of competition and therefore the techniques being "untested". I have never read of anyone who criticises Aikido as an art form, for it not being sophisticated enough or not aesthetic or not philosophically satisfying etc.

For me Aikido is the epitomy of a martial art. It's techniques come from well established jutsu arts and their adaptation has resulted in a very pure, even beautiful use of blending and harmonization with your opponent's energy that is both martial and humanitarian. To watch Aikido being demonstrated is a wonderful experience, to see the waza being executed masterfully and their resulting effect in protecting uke and nage is truly art in motion.
The compliance issue is the only thing that really matters here; that's why I maintain that a good test for "martial" is whether you can make it work on someone who doesn't want it to work. There is a catch-22 here in that Aikido looks and feels much better when uke just goes with it completely. When you test each other things get more abrupt and rougher and sometimes techniques become unrecognizable.

I don't care much about atemi personally; I come from a dojo where we focus on it as much as possible without actually breaking out the pads and gloves, and my feeling is that if you want to actually be able to use atemi effectively, you need to break out the pads and gloves, which is going to be time taken from more important areas of training.

I believe competitive training is a martial cul-de-sac.

The "debate among the martial arts community" is for suckers. Any kind of martial arts training requires that you invest time, effort, and pure faith in what you are doing; obviously people outside of Aikido will be looking at it from significantly different cognitive frameworks. The fact that aikidoka are so critical of their own art is something I used to read as a great strength for people willing to stay in the art, before various folks decided we needed to change it to be more of a Kodokai Tai Chi.

Quote:
Tore Eriksson wrote: View Post
Off topic, but as far as I know Nishio-sensei never created his own ryu even if some people seem to try to create one now. I suppose you could call his Toho Iai "Nishio-ryu Iaido", but in that case who is the current soke?
FWIW a "ryu" does not require a soke.
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Old 03-29-2013, 09:28 AM   #30
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Re: how do we define martial?

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Robert M Watson Jr wrote: View Post
When you do it right you don't die ... when you do it wrong you die. Works for both marital and martial arts.
only one of them that you wish you would die instead.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 03-29-2013, 09:35 AM   #31
aiki-jujutsuka
 
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Re: how do we define martial?

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
The compliance issue is the only thing that really matters here; that's why I maintain that a good test for "martial" is whether you can make it work on someone who doesn't want it to work. There is a catch-22 here in that Aikido looks and feels much better when uke just goes with it completely. When you test each other things get more abrupt and rougher and sometimes techniques become unrecognizable.

I don't care much about atemi personally; I come from a dojo where we focus on it as much as possible without actually breaking out the pads and gloves, and my feeling is that if you want to actually be able to use atemi effectively, you need to break out the pads and gloves, which is going to be time taken from more important areas of training.

I believe competitive training is a martial cul-de-sac.

The "debate among the martial arts community" is for suckers. Any kind of martial arts training requires that you invest time, effort, and pure faith in what you are doing; obviously people outside of Aikido will be looking at it from significantly different cognitive frameworks. The fact that aikidoka are so critical of their own art is something I used to read as a great strength for people willing to stay in the art, before various folks decided we needed to change it to be more of a Kodokai Tai Chi.

FWIW a "ryu" does not require a soke.
I agree with you. What you said about people outside of Aikido looking at it from a different cognitive framework is what I was driving at in my original post. Take Karate for example, many styles of Karate toughen their fists through hand strengthening exercises such as punching wooden beams with rope wound around it or slapping rocks. Now if this was the criteria for what constitutes martial, then this would suit Karateka. Aikido does not pursue such exercises and would therefore by default fail this test.

There are many people who criticise Aikido because they are using a totally different framework of reference for what is martial. I don't think this is fair. Aikido develops the body and mind in a very different way to many martial arts, especially combat sports. This does not make it less "martial" only that it emphasises different aspects of what it means to be a martial art.
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Old 03-29-2013, 12:13 PM   #32
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Re: how do we define martial?

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote:
a good test for "martial" is whether you can make it work on someone who doesn't want it to work.
✓.

Mert
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Old 03-29-2013, 12:59 PM   #33
graham christian
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Re: how do we define martial?

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Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
Nishio Sensei didn't create his own ryu of Aikido because he was dissatisfied with Aikido as an art form but as budo. Aikido's critics do not question it as an art form, they question it's combat/martial effectiveness. This is why I wanted to know whether there is a universal understanding/definition of what martial is, because it is important to the debate within the martial arts community. I've read people criticise Aikido for the techniques requiring too much compliancy to work, I've read criticisms for its apparent lack of atemi, I've read criticisms for its lack of competition and therefore the techniques being "untested". I have never read of anyone who criticises Aikido as an art form, for it not being sophisticated enough or not aesthetic or not philosophically satisfying etc.

For me Aikido is the epitomy of a martial art. It's techniques come from well established jutsu arts and their adaptation has resulted in a very pure, even beautiful use of blending and harmonization with your opponent's energy that is both martial and humanitarian. To watch Aikido being demonstrated is a wonderful experience, to see the waza being executed masterfully and their resulting effect in protecting uke and nage is truly art in motion.
I like this post. Personally the only place I have ever seen criticism of Aikido has been on forums but not in real life. So I have been a bit bemused when ever reading how 'others' see Aikido. In fact I see more criticism from within than from without.

As far as effectiveness goes in the minds of public or other arts for that matter I think Mr. Seagal took care of that one.

The one thing I find strange overall is the idea put forward that people 'hang their arms out there' and this in my opinion is down pure and simply to a lack of understanding of a fundamental principle of Aikido which is that it deals with motion and energy. Thus there is no fight. No against. No referee.

I never use the word 'mindset' either as I feel that leads to strange ideas too but if I did I would only say there are a set of minds within the framework of budo.

Martial to me implies facing danger or potential death, originally the latter, thus great discipline needed. Also I would add he of a martial disposition would 'come alive' from the viewpoint of one versus the many, ten versus a hundred etc. Progress from there and you get one harmonizing with and bringing harmony to the many. Small steps long journey but only achievable if you know where you are going. With enough skills, no different to any other realm of life, one may reach the condition of artist.

Peace.G.
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Old 03-29-2013, 01:35 PM   #34
Bernd Lehnen
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Re: how do we define martial?

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Graham Christian wrote: View Post
I like this post. Personally the only place I have ever seen criticism of Aikido has been on forums but not in real life. So I have been a bit bemused when ever reading how 'others' see Aikido. In fact I see more criticism from within than from without.

As far as effectiveness goes in the minds of public or other arts for that matter I think Mr. Seagal took care of that one.

The one thing I find strange overall is the idea put forward that people 'hang their arms out there' and this in my opinion is down pure and simply to a lack of understanding of a fundamental principle of Aikido which is that it deals with motion and energy. Thus there is no fight. No against. No referee.

I never use the word 'mindset' either as I feel that leads to strange ideas too but if I did I would only say there are a set of minds within the framework of budo.

Martial to me implies facing danger or potential death, originally the latter, thus great discipline needed. Also I would add he of a martial disposition would 'come alive' from the viewpoint of one versus the many, ten versus a hundred etc. Progress from there and you get one harmonizing with and bringing harmony to the many. Small steps long journey but only achievable if you know where you are going. With enough skills, no different to any other realm of life, one may reach the condition of artist.

Peace.G.
In the context of aikido, why would we only look at "martial" and not equally at "art"?

"The function of fighting techniques is to effectively cause injury or incapacitation to another person so as to end a fight. The purpose of a martial art however can be to improve the individual's capacity when necessary to efficiently and humanely defend themselves by fighting techniques and, when possible, potentially make use of such violent force superfluous. It's the Martial that provides the how, but it's the Art that decides the why. For techniques alone do not hold values, Arts do. It is here where meaning is found for practice to go beyond utility for potential self-defense situations."

You may read the full article " The Challenge of defining a martial art" here:

http://www.thearma.org/essays/Defini...rtial-Art.html

Last edited by Bernd Lehnen : 03-29-2013 at 01:38 PM.
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Old 03-29-2013, 02:51 PM   #35
graham christian
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Re: how do we define martial?

Quote:
Bernd Lehnen wrote: View Post
In the context of aikido, why would we only look at "martial" and not equally at "art"?

"The function of fighting techniques is to effectively cause injury or incapacitation to another person so as to end a fight. The purpose of a martial art however can be to improve the individual's capacity when necessary to efficiently and humanely defend themselves by fighting techniques and, when possible, potentially make use of such violent force superfluous. It's the Martial that provides the how, but it's the Art that decides the why. For techniques alone do not hold values, Arts do. It is here where meaning is found for practice to go beyond utility for potential self-defense situations."

You may read the full article " The Challenge of defining a martial art" here:

http://www.thearma.org/essays/Defini...rtial-Art.html
I myself look equally at art. Firstly though I do not see Aikido as fighting so the above doesn't apply. I do not see Aikido as self defence either as I see it as a 'selfless' pursuit. To handle the attacker without thought of self and therefor no self defence. The martial is indeed the how. Art does not imply purpose to me and therefor has nothing to do with the why. Why is only and always be solely to do with your purpose. The purpose of the art of aikido in my opinion is harmony. To reach a competency level of 'artist' is another matter.

Peace.G.
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:19 PM   #36
Cliff Judge
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Re: how do we define martial?

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Graham Christian wrote: View Post
I myself look equally at art. Firstly though I do not see Aikido as fighting so the above doesn't apply. I do not see Aikido as self defence either as I see it as a 'selfless' pursuit. To handle the attacker without thought of self and therefor no self defence. The martial is indeed the how. Art does not imply purpose to me and therefor has nothing to do with the why. Why is only and always be solely to do with your purpose. The purpose of the art of aikido in my opinion is harmony. To reach a competency level of 'artist' is another matter.

Peace.G.
You see it as selfless - why does it also have to have a purpose?
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:23 PM   #37
graham christian
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Re: how do we define martial?

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
You see it as selfless - why does it also have to have a purpose?
Without purpose there is no action.

Peace.G.
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Old 03-29-2013, 07:19 PM   #38
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Re: how do we define martial?

My purpose is to improve the attackers well being.

Peace.G.
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Old 03-30-2013, 12:36 AM   #39
Lorien Lowe
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Re: how do we define martial?

I am not even remotely interested in 'improving an attacker's well-being.' I would prefer to not permanently damage him too much in the process of bringing the situation under my control, but if there's a choice between my health and his, it was made when he chose to attack me.

To take a similar situation, a patient who is out of their own control in the ER: in that case, I feel responsible for the patient's well-being and the goal is to improve their physical and mental health, ideally to the point that they're not a danger to themselves or others. Still, though, there's a situation where we can put two people on each limb and another one or two for the torso, so there's not a lot of danger for staff involved baring a really unusual situation. Most of these folks don't strike out so much as they just try to escape.

I suppose the overlap would be an attacker who was clearly mentally deranged (ie, hallucinating); I'd feel worse about hurting them than I would feel about hurting random Joe Schmuck trying to take out his frustration for his miserable life in my blood, the same way he would vandalize a public bathroom or uproot a sapling tree in a park. Still, though, his well-being would come second to mine. I don't have some deep-seated sense that putting other lives before one's own life is intrinsically a morally superior position.
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Old 03-30-2013, 03:43 AM   #40
graham christian
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Re: how do we define martial?

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Lorien Lowe wrote: View Post
I am not even remotely interested in 'improving an attacker's well-being.' I would prefer to not permanently damage him too much in the process of bringing the situation under my control, but if there's a choice between my health and his, it was made when he chose to attack me.

To take a similar situation, a patient who is out of their own control in the ER: in that case, I feel responsible for the patient's well-being and the goal is to improve their physical and mental health, ideally to the point that they're not a danger to themselves or others. Still, though, there's a situation where we can put two people on each limb and another one or two for the torso, so there's not a lot of danger for staff involved baring a really unusual situation. Most of these folks don't strike out so much as they just try to escape.

I suppose the overlap would be an attacker who was clearly mentally deranged (ie, hallucinating); I'd feel worse about hurting them than I would feel about hurting random Joe Schmuck trying to take out his frustration for his miserable life in my blood, the same way he would vandalize a public bathroom or uproot a sapling tree in a park. Still, though, his well-being would come second to mine. I don't have some deep-seated sense that putting other lives before one's own life is intrinsically a morally superior position.
So If I read the above correctly then you are interested in improving the attackers well being. So that clears that up.

To say their well being comes second to yours is a separate issue. If you see my view as some morally superior position then I would say you are missing the point.

Firstly the point is to do with martial and I say that is a martial attitude.

Secondly I am saying it is the Aikido view in essence and in alignment with the words of O'Sensei and the Aikido 'path' as a spiritual discipline.

Thirdly and more importantly to me personally throughout my experience in Aikido it is the one most common reason unfortunately that many do not fully grasp or understand what O'Sensei was actually talking about and thus hinder their own Ki development.

Fourthly I will say that unless selfless application is applied with the purpose as described and thus the true Goal in my opinion then those without such will never gain the true fruits of the wonderful art.

Peace.G.
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Old 03-30-2013, 09:43 AM   #41
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Re: how do we define martial?

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A "martial art" that actually functions as effective preparation for real combat is an extremely rare thing. So any definition of "martial" for which combat effectiveness is an essential criterion must be discarded, or else we need to come up with a new name for 99% of martial arts.

With all that in mind, my definition of a "martial art" is one (a) whose techniques are descended from an origin in physical conflict, and (b) which is ideally practiced with the dangers of physical conflict in mind.
Having practiced Martial Arts for years and then eventually integrating them into what I do in the Military, and being trained in CQB and Combatives, I have found it to be a multi-faceted thing with about as many opinions and perspectives as there are people.

What prepares people for "real combat"? hard to say and my opinions changes frequently. There are techniques, tactics, and proceedures (TTPs) which will vary depending upon conditions, experiences, and technology etc. There are foundational skills that don't seem to change such as being in good shape, the ability to move efficiently, and the ability to think clearly in the fog of war.

So, does parkour training qualify as a martial art? These days I think someone well versed and in good shape in parkour would do very well in combat or in hand to hand given some basic training in the TTPs required of H2H.

So, I think the realm of what constitutes a martial art can be quite large, and of course, Aikido CAN fit well within that realm as long as it is trained with the proper focus and perspective. As I stated, I believe that two guys can be side by side and get entirely two different things out of training.

So, is there a need to be able to execute a Shionage in combat today? most likely not, however, a good understanding of the mechanics of Shionage can be very helpful in understanding things martially.

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Old 03-30-2013, 09:50 AM   #42
Marc Abrams
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Re: how do we define martial?

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Having practiced Martial Arts for years and then eventually integrating them into what I do in the Military, and being trained in CQB and Combatives, I have found it to be a multi-faceted thing with about as many opinions and perspectives as there are people.

What prepares people for "real combat"? hard to say and my opinions changes frequently. There are techniques, tactics, and proceedures (TTPs) which will vary depending upon conditions, experiences, and technology etc. There are foundational skills that don't seem to change such as being in good shape, the ability to move efficiently, and the ability to think clearly in the fog of war.

So, does parkour training qualify as a martial art? These days I think someone well versed and in good shape in parkour would do very well in combat or in hand to hand given some basic training in the TTPs required of H2H.

So, I think the realm of what constitutes a martial art can be quite large, and of course, Aikido CAN fit well within that realm as long as it is trained with the proper focus and perspective. As I stated, I believe that two guys can be side by side and get entirely two different things out of training.

So, is there a need to be able to execute a Shionage in combat today? most likely not, however, a good understanding of the mechanics of Shionage can be very helpful in understanding things martially.
Kevin:

Thank you for that bracing dose of reality! I can see your smile from across the pond, reading comments about the concept of "martial" from those quite removed from the reality of martial.

Marc Abrams
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Old 03-30-2013, 10:05 AM   #43
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Re: how do we define martial?

attackers and their well being.

At some point I think as a budoka, we have to make a decision about right and wrong. Hopefully we have taken the time to survey ourselves and our beliefs and weighed them against others and made a moral decision about right and wrong.

In doing so, we accept that we, at some level, have become judge and jury over the actions we decide to take in the employment of our martial skills or faculties.

That is, we have to make a choice about the actions we take against another's.

In doing so, in most cases, we have placed our values at a higher priority than another's. That is, we have determined that we must stop whatever "harm" the other person is doing to us or another. In a sense, we have placed our moral judgement on a higher ground than his.

I think we have an obligation to cause as less harm as possible when taking action. In fact, the law, both under most military and civilian laws requires us to use minimal force.

if we perceive that we cannot stop harm without causing harm, then it is quite possible that we will severely injure or kill the other person. It is unfortunate, but if there is no other alternative, and you have concluded that your actions are just, then you must accept responsibility and act. Are there consequences in doing so? Absolutely, but if there are no other alternatives, then it is what it is I think. I don't think we have the luxury of choosing to do something else, if we did, then we would (or should).

I think that is why it is important to train in budo and to really understand yourself and the situations in which you will choose to use force. The Book of Five Rings addresses this quite well I think and should be read by all budoka.

On improving your attackers well being.

I think there is some irony there and a slippery slope. It assumes we have the ability to do that. it assumes that there are alternatives and choices that may or may not exist. It assumes that we have the time and/or space to alter his world view or changes his paradigm.

Of course, if you have the time or space to do this you should and certainly harm is not an option.

However, I don't think this has a great deal to do with things martially. Of course, we hope with improvement of our own skills and abilities that we will be able to deal with people in a much more skillful manner, that through our budo training that we can increase that gap in time/space to show our opponents another way. However, that is one side of the equation and to get there....the irony is that we must understand and be able to effectively STOP HARM and to show him that to attack is futile.

That is the irony of the budoka. In order to STOP HARM we must be able to CAUSE HARM. thus, it is important to study intently the martial nature of violence.

I am not really sure how you "improve your attackers well being" through a martial art that is designed to cause harm. I think that the best you can do is to create space/time in order to find other options. I think at best, it is a zero sum gain and at best we can STOP HARM only, what that means on improving his well being??? not sure.

Would be interested to hear how you improve his well being through a martial option.

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Old 03-30-2013, 10:37 AM   #44
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Re: how do we define martial?

Great posts Kevin, thank you for your voice of experience in regards to military compatibility and application. What you said regarding Budo and our moral obligation to cause the least amount of harm as possible, but also accepting that sometimes to stop harm we must use harm after making a value judgement that our actions are just in such circumstances, is very wise.
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Old 03-30-2013, 11:48 AM   #45
Ellis Amdur
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Re: how do we define martial?

Donn Draeger used to speak to groups of "martial artists" and ask "How many here do a martial art?" Everyone would raise their hand. Then, he'd ask. "How many do judo?" And to the hand-raisers, he'd say, "That's not a martial art. That's a sport." Then, "How many do karate?" To the hand-raisers, he'd say, "That is a folk practice of peasants, arguably for the purpose of self-defense in civilian life. That is not a martial art." How many do t'ai chi, bagua, xingyi, or Shaolin." To the hand-raisers, he'd say, "Most all Chinese martial arts were practiced by the merchant and well-to-do classes of China, with lots of time of their hands. Hobbies for rich boys, in other words. Xingyi may have been derived from a martial art, that of the spear. But almost all of your kungfu is civilian sportive fighting, self-cultivation and the like." And, "How many do aikido?" To the hand-raisers, he'd say, "That's certainly not a martial art. There are movements derived from old combatives, but none of it is suitable for war, and it is open to anyone. By definition, only the warrior class can do a martial art."

Which, by the way, explains Ueshiba's extended family breaking into near hysterical laughter when he, a farmer's son, announced that he was moving from Tanabe to become a full-time "martial arts" instructor.

Martial - derived from Mars, the god of war. If it isn't about war, it isn't, strictly speaking, martial.

While we are quibbling semantics, in fact, Mars was the god of offensive war. Mars was originally a god of the border between cultivated and wild lands. For the Romans, Pax Romana could only be established when the wild was tamed and cultivated (this, by the way, has been the excuse for genocide forever. See: Kiernan, Ben, Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur, Yale University Pres, New Haven, Connecticut, 2007). At any rate, the Romans merged this trivial "god of the margins" with the Greek Ares, and hence Mars became the Roman god of extending the borders into the wilds.

Donn did not have much of a sense of humor regarding his pet theories (newly made shibboleths). So pointing this out to him, I suggested that he needed to fine-tune things further, because Minerva (the Roman Athena) was, in fact, the protector of cities, the goddess of defensive warfare. I pointed out that Maniwa Nen-ryu defined itself as purely defensive, a protector of their own land and that even their combative theories were based almost solely on go-no-sen, eliciting attacks which they then crushed. I therefore suggested that he should examine martial schools a little more closely and perhaps divide them in primarily Martial as opposed to primarily Minervic. He was not amused (which amused me more).

BTW - the Japanese use to use the term Mashuraru Atsu to describe competitive kick boxing and MMA, particularly that fought in an arena with ring girls, and paychecks at the end.

And Wushu, the Chinese term for bujutsu (actually, the other way around) means, to Chinese, the show-forms with the dramatic choreography - not real - ummmm - what do you call it - stuff.

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Old 03-30-2013, 01:06 PM   #46
Mert Gambito
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Re: how do we define martial?

Ellis --- Did Donn consider koryu bujutsu, which were originally "martial" by his or any other definition, to be martial today, given that they largely fail the "only the warrior class" and for-use-in-(modern)-war tests?

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
So, is there a need to be able to execute a Shionage in combat today? most likely not, however, a good understanding of the mechanics of Shionage can be very helpful in understanding things martially.
I suppose we could think of doing the aikido version of Shiho Nage, and actually a lot of aikido techniques, as aiding execution of the techniques of the Daito-ryu family tree of arts in the same manner that learning to kick high improves the ability to execute more natural, lower kicks. The older version of Shiho Nage does not require the same degree of tenkan or arm movement that is used in aikido, but if an uke or bad guy gets froggy, what's shown below is often what the interaction "devolves" into, and is quite a happy place -- for the nage.



Quote:
Ewen Ebsworth wrote:
accepting that sometimes to stop harm we must use harm after making a value judgement that our actions are just in such circumstances, is very wise.
Yes, it's sensible. Morihei Ueshiba reportedly said, "In Aikido, however, we try to completely avoid killing, even the most evil person." That doesn't mean that severely injuring or killing in a given circumstance was ruled out.

Last edited by Mert Gambito : 03-30-2013 at 01:10 PM.

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Old 03-30-2013, 01:24 PM   #47
aiki-jujutsuka
 
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Re: how do we define martial?

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post

Martial - derived from Mars, the god of war. If it isn't about war, it isn't, strictly speaking, martial.

While we are quibbling semantics, in fact, Mars was the god of offensive war. Mars was originally a god of the border between cultivated and wild lands. For the Romans, Pax Romana could only be established when the wild was tamed and cultivated (this, by the way, has been the excuse for genocide forever. See: Kiernan, Ben, Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur, Yale University Pres, New Haven, Connecticut, 2007). At any rate, the Romans merged this trivial "god of the margins" with the Greek Ares, and hence Mars became the Roman god of extending the borders into the wilds.

Donn did not have much of a sense of humor regarding his pet theories (newly made shibboleths). So pointing this out to him, I suggested that he needed to fine-tune things further, because Minerva (the Roman Athena) was, in fact, the protector of cities, the goddess of defensive warfare. I pointed out that Maniwa Nen-ryu defined itself as purely defensive, a protector of their own land and that even their combative theories were based almost solely on go-no-sen, eliciting attacks which they then crushed. I therefore suggested that he should examine martial schools a little more closely and perhaps divide them in primarily Martial as opposed to primarily Minervic. He was not amused (which amused me more).
While I accept that the term martial is derived from Mars the god of (offensive) war and therefore if the art is not strictly speaking to be applied in war then it's not martial; however in the context of Japan this makes all "martial arts" technically anachronistic due to the fact that the Samurai class no longer exists. I acknowledge that what I do is very detached from what the Samurai did in Feudal Japan because I am not a soldier and I do not do martial arts professionally for use in the field of combat. However, gendai arts in Japan are designed to preserve the Samurai heritage and even though they are open to the public they are a way of keeping ancient martial techniques alive. Art forms that have been developed over centuries deserve to be preserved for posterity. We may be speaking of semantics here but meanings of words do change over time. Language is organic.

I actually like the idea of dividing martial arts into martial and minervic forms; I would be prepared to accept that Aikido falls into the latter; it is an art form after all that is primarily defensive in both its techniques and philosophy. In many ways its very helpful, especially in the case of Aikido in which O'Sensei's vision of the true meaning of Budo was a radical departure from the traditional understanding of the term.
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Old 03-30-2013, 04:21 PM   #48
Ellis Amdur
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Re: how do we define martial?

Mert - Donn very definitely considered koryu bujutsu to be martial, because, he believed, they were two things: a legacy of the warrior class, and that they were arts of war. In his view, that they were anachronistic didn't change what they were for --and hence, when one trained those activities, one was still training on how to kill another combatant with a weapon.

Here's the problem with his thesis though.
1. The vast majority of extant koryu were NOT - definitely NOT - warfare arts. They were developed in the Edo period, and primarily focused on dueling, if you will. Not that dueling was an every day incident, but it happened often enough that a "martial artist" needed to be prepared - at least if you hung out a shingle. The problem was, however, that the way one might use weaponry and footwork on a battlefield may not have worked in a duel. For a modern simile, take the best warfighter from any Special Forces military unit, and put him in a boxing ring and fight with boxing rules against a pro. He wouldn't last a round on his feet. If he was informed that from this day forward, the only combat he would see was in a boxing ring, he would surely start to train for it. So the idea that the koryu were preserved unchanged, is very definitely not so.
2. Even in the Warring States period, the koryu were not basic military training. Rather, martial arts practice and technique were used to hone an elite warrior class. Similarly, BJJ-type training is surely not the most important skill for the modern warfighter. But it gives a safe way to test competitive instincts, spiritual endurance and in no way does it conflict with the rest of training. Remember that by the 1590's, the deciding factor in warfare in Japan was the firearm.
3. Research shows, that by the mid-Edo period, possibly the majority of enrollees in many ryu were NOT bushi. It became a means of social climbing.

So, there is a certain level that I absolutely agree with Donn. But he was too black-and-white in the way he framed things, and therefore, did not do justice to history. Honestly, we had a discussion in which I said, "The train has left the station. Why quibble about a word that is now vernacular. Why not call bujutsu and other true combatives, "warfare arts," for example. But he stuck to his guns . . . .

Anyway, back to martial virtue -- just to use aikido as an example, this being Aikiweb, anyone who claims that aikijo, for example, is an effective combative use of a short staff is ignorant of how to use a staff in combat. That's just a fact. There are a number of essential components to make an effective combative usage of any object and if neglected or left out, you do not have an effective martial system - - -for the purpose of combat.

Look (not directed at you Mert, but for anyone outraged at my last statement), you can kill someone dead as a doornail with an Olympic target bow. But if you mustered up on your horse in a Mongol troop, they with short laminated horn bows with a pull of 160 pounds, they would laugh themselves right off their horses. Everything has a perfect purpose for the purpose it is created.

Ellis Amdur

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Old 03-30-2013, 04:37 PM   #49
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: how do we define martial?

All very good post for sure!

Nothing really to add. except Ellis' post made me think of this....

I train in many different ways and teach differently too depending on the context of our focus. Sport Jiu Jitsu is trained differently than the way I would train guys for CQB to deal with grappling fights.

For example, I don't teach arm bars from the mount and guard for CQB as the context of training is different.

Does that mean the sport Jiu Jitsu is not applicable to combat or "martial practice"? not at all, there is much in sport jiu jitsu that can inform training for CQB or combat. You simply have to understand the difference.

It would be the same for civilian self defense or say a "women's self defense class" you would have to adapt what you teach to fit the context.

The problem is, IMO, it is not that easy to simply adapt what you teach all the time. I have seen some abominations of what people interpret out of martial arts (bunkai) that they believe will work in reality.

I think a lot gets lost in translation when those that are not experienced in such things or who have not been exposed/taught correctly (transmission). I am not saying that there is a only a privileged few that hold the secrets, but I think it is much smaller than we'd like to believe.

I think there is much wisdom in what Ellis is talking about above.

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Old 03-30-2013, 04:39 PM   #50
Ellis Amdur
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Re: how do we define martial?

Eben - You wrote:

Quote:
However, gendai arts in Japan are designed to preserve the Samurai heritage and even though they are open to the public they are a way of keeping ancient martial techniques alive. Art forms that have been developed over centuries deserve to be preserved for posterity. We may be speaking of semantics here but meanings of words do change over time. Language is organic.

I actually like the idea of dividing martial arts into martial and minervic forms; I would be prepared to accept that Aikido falls into the latter; it is an art form after all that is primarily defensive in both its techniques and philosophy. In many ways its very helpful, especially in the case of Aikido in which O'Sensei's vision of the true meaning of Budo was a radical departure from the traditional understanding of the term.
A couple of thoughts. That gendai arts, in one sense, were designed to preserve the samurai heritage, but this is not necessarily a good thing. These arts mostly developed in the Taisho and early Showa period, to create a new Japanese - that every Japanese was a samurai, and therefore, should willingly sacrifice their lives at the behest of the emperor and the ruling fascist gov't. That women should train with bamboo spears to face down American soldiers when they landed. That no Japanese, just like no feudal samurai, should ever question the order of a superior, no matter how heinous or vile. We use terms awfully loosely. It's worth questioning what it means to "preserve a samurai heritage in gendai budo."

Obviously, I love Japanese martial traditions, but there is far too much romanticising in this area. On the other hand, Nishio sensei, whom I studied with, never said, Dan Richards, that "samurai were shit." He would never say that and it's offensive to put such words in his mouth. He was a cultured man, and a manifestation of his art was in his cleanliness, which extended to the way he talked. Neither his waza or his mouth were ever foul.

Finally, Eben - this whole Minervic thing? I simply said that to mess with Donn's head. I was a much younger guy, and he was a mentor for awhile. But young guys have to puncture the pomposity of their elders. I actually meant, tongue in cheek, defending against a siege, shield rather than sword. But I wasn't serious. I did it just to tick him off. EVen there, I didn't mean aikido.

Aikido was not meant to be defensive. Ueshiba Kisshomaru said a couple of interesting things in a talk I once heard:
1. When asked about people being injured in aikido, he said, essentially, "After all, it is a martial art. (that word again - I think he used the term budo). If you can't handle it, maybe you should study calligraphy or flower arranging.
2. When asked when his father became a pacifist, he started laughing and said that his father was never a pacifist or not a pacifist. He was "beyond the whole dichotomy." Then he told a story of being a little boy and some bigger foreign kids from some embassy were picking on him and his father, in a dress kimono came running out and slipped in the mud on the street and fell in a mud puddle, the foreign boys running away.

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