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Aikido Paradoxes
Aikido Paradoxes
by Niall Matthews
Aikido Paradoxes

There is and there is not by Hartwig HKD | h koppdelaney
Please accept my resignation. I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.
Groucho Marx

of an early death
showing no signs
the cicada's voice
Matsuo Basho

As the crow flies
Walk on the wind
Everything will unfold
There is nothing left for me
Sylosis, Paradox

I knew them both upon Miranda's isle,
Which is of youth a sea-bound seigniory:
Misshapen Caliban, so seeming vile,
And Ariel, proud prince of minstrelsy,
Who did forsake the sunset for my tower
And like a star above my slumber burned.
Willa Cather, Paradox

As a jester among jesters. I will teach thee all my
original songs, my self-constructed riddles, my own
ingenious paradoxes; nay, more, I will reveal to thee
the source whence I get them. Now, what sayest thou?
Gilbert and Sullivan, The Yeoman of the Guard

See the signs they're always there
But you know you never care
You're always looking for another reason
Hawkwind, Paradox

I'll tell you what justice is. Justice is a knee in the gut from the floor on the chin at night sneaky with a knife brought up down on the magazine of a battleship sandbagged underhanded in the dark without a word of warning.
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane, he had to fly them. If he flew them, he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to, he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

the summer's grass
all that's left
of ancient warriors' dreams
Matsuo Basho

Are we to look at cherry blossoms only in full bloom, the moon only when it is cloudless? It does not matter how young or strong you may be, the hour of death comes sooner than you expect.
Kenko, Tsurezuregusa

Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?

Where are the snows of yesteryear?
Francois Villon, Ballade des dames du temps jadis

Wo sind die Tranen von gestern Abend?
Wo ist der Schnee vom vergangenen Jahr?

Where are last night's tears?
Where is the snow of yesteryear?
Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, Nannas Lied

Where is my Marlboro man
Where is his shiny gun
Where is my lonely ranger
Where have all the cowboys gone
Paula Cole, Where have all the cowboys gone

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
Simon and Garfunkel, Mrs Robinson

Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?
Joseph Heller, Catch-22
For this column I just have to get out of the way of all the quotes.

Snowden was a plane gunner in the novel Catch-22 who was killed in action. The accusatory question, Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear? is a play on a line from a poem by Francois Villon called Ballade des dames du temps jadis, Ballad of the ladies of long ago. Bertolt Brecht used the line too. The question, Where are they? is a literary motif called Ubi sunt for short. The name comes from the Latin for Where are they who were before us? Ubi sunt questions remind us of the transience of life. Impermanence is a common theme in zen and in Japanese culture.

Aikido is a mysterious martial art. It's full of paradoxes. These are a few. If you can think of any more please add them below.
  1. When you try to throw your attacker you can't. When you don't try you can do it easily.
  2. If you try to win you will lose.
  3. Soft is strong.
  4. The more you can lose power the more powerful you will become.
  5. A gentle, kind heart can generate powerful, dangerous techniques.
  6. The reason you start aikido is not the reason you continue aikido.
  7. One of aikido's strong points is that there is no competition. And one of aikido's weak points is that there is no competition. I wrote about competition here.
  8. People with small hearts who do aikido to become stronger will not become stronger.
  9. People who think they are good at aikido usually aren't.
  10. People who think they understand aikido usually don't.
  11. People who don't do aikido think that their superficial opinions about aikido are relevant to people who actually do aikido. As you can see from the internet.
  12. Aikido is pure physics. Aikido is pure philosophy.
  13. Sometimes you have to let go of everything in order to catch something.
  14. If you are strong enough and confident enough to decide that it might be a good idea to learn aikido you probably don't really need to. You will already be able to deal with emergencies calmly and effectively and without hesitation.
  15. It is very helpful to have studied another martial art before you start aikido. It is a big disadvantage to have studied another martial art before you start aikido.
  16. Aikido is a special activity. You wear special clothes and do it in a special place. Aikido is not a special activity. It is just like breathing or eating or sleeping.
  17. When you do aikido right it feels like nothing. Literally nothing.
Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?


background articles

Francois Villon, Ballade des dames du temps jadis | Ballad of Dead Ladies (in English)
http://www.projetbrassens.eclipse.co...nsballade.html (in the original old French but with very interesting background notes)
http://www.poeticbyway.com/xvillon.htm (in modern French)

Berthold Brecht and Kurt Weill, Nannas Lied
http://deutschsprachigedichtung.blog...ied-eines.html (in German)
http://pabulumadnauseam.blogspot.jp/...nslatioin.html (English translation)

Matsuo Basho, Haiku
in Japanese, romaji and English translation

Willa Cather, Paradox

Gilbert and Sullivan, The Complete Plays


Kenko, Tsurezuregusa


very cool photo: There is and there is not by Hartwig HKD / h koppdelaney

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niall matthews 2013
Niall Matthews lives with his family in Japan. He teaches aikibudo and community self-defence courses and has taught budo for twenty-five years. He was the senior deshi of Kinjo Asoh Sensei, 7 dan Aikikai. He was the exclusive uke of Sadateru Arikawa Sensei, 9 dan Aikikai, at the hombu dojo in Tokyo for thirteen years until Arikawa Sensei's death in 2003. He has trained in several other martial arts to complement his aikido training, including judo (he has 4 dan from the Kodokan in Tokyo), kenjutsu (for about ten years) and karate (for about three years). He originally went to Japan as a staff member of the EU almost thirty years ago. He received 5 dan from Arikawa Sensei in 1995. This 5 dan is the last aikido dan he will receive in his life. His dojo is called Aikibudo Kokkijuku 合気武道克輝塾. Arikawa Sensei personally gave him the character for ki in kokki. It is the same character as teru in Sadateru - not the normal spelling of kokki 克己. It means you make your life shining and clear yourself.
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Old 07-29-2013, 07:37 AM   #2
SeiserL's Avatar
Location: Florida Gulf coast
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 3,902
Re: Aikido Paradoxes

Life is filled with opposites and paradoxes from one perspective but systemically balance and maintain the homeostatis on another.

Some of the Snowdens of yesteryear are seen as patriots. Others are seen as traitors.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 07-29-2013, 08:42 PM   #3
graham christian
Dojo: golden center aikido-highgate
Location: london
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 2,697
Re: Aikido Paradoxes

1) Life is full of paradoxes. Paradoxes are an illusion.
2) Surrounded by enemies enter and cut. There are no enemies.
3) Nothing can be something and something can be nothing. Nothing can be nothing at all.
4) Power is speed of particle flow. Slow is fast.
5) Keep ma ai. Enter.
6) The soul of the samurai is in his sword. The sharpest blade is the blade of kindness.
7) Aikido is about kazushi and taking balance. Aikido is about restoring balance.
8) Aikido is a martial art. Aikido is a dance of the universe.
9) Pure solid Aikido. Pure emrptiness.
10)O'Sensei taught no structure, no syllabus, no a, b, c, no lesson plans. Many great teachers came from O'Sensei.

Maybe O'Sensei taught the martial art of no martial art based on the sword of no sword via teaching of no teaching?

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Old 08-02-2013, 11:00 AM   #4
R.A. Robertson
Dojo: Still Point Aikido Center
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 346
Re: Aikido Paradoxes

Ubi sunt?
Like the image which leads your article, if we look one way at a mirror, all we see is the Void. If we look at it orthogonally, all we see is ourselves.
That's where.
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Old 08-02-2013, 11:01 AM   #5
R.A. Robertson
Dojo: Still Point Aikido Center
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 346
Re: Aikido Paradoxes

Graham Christian wrote: View Post
Maybe O'Sensei taught the martial art of no martial art based on the sword of no sword via teaching of no teaching? [\]
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