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Old 08-18-2002, 05:56 PM   #1
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Newbie ?'s

Hello all! I'm 24, new to this forum, and Aikido for that matter. I am very excited to embark on my first Aikido experience next week, but I do have a couple of questions of which I'm sure is not the last. There are two dojo's in my town, one of which is a Ki-Society & the other is Aikido. I understand that the Ki-Society one focuses more on the essence & development of 'Ki,' but does that mean that they do less of the actual training then a 'traditional' dojo? On their schedule it has an hour of Ki class followed by an hour of Ki-Aikido. I do plan on visiting both dojos, but was just curious about some of your opinions or personal experience on the matter. Also, what's the difference between Aikikai & Aikido; I realize they're both a form of Aikido, but what's the difference? Thanks in advance for your help. I've read lots of this forum recently, you guys are great!
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Old 08-18-2002, 06:00 PM   #2
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Go to all dojos. Go with the one you feel most comfortable at. Neither is better in philosophy or methodogy than the other. It all depends on what you connect with.

Aikikai translate loosely as "Aikido World"...so it means all encompassing of all aikido. Traditionally it refers to Hombu dojo (Aikikai in Japan) which is recognized as O'Sensei's original dojo so to speak. Although I have seen Aikikai used loosely elsewhere so it depends on the context.

Good luck in your journey down the path.

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Old 08-18-2002, 06:43 PM   #3
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Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
Aikikai translate loosely as "Aikido World"...so it means all encompassing of all aikido.
Hmm, I think that the Yoshinkan, Shodokan, etc. folks would have some serious issues with that translation .

"Aikikai" is not a generic term, it is the name of the foundation incorporated by the Ueshiba family - "Zaidan Hojin Aikikai", or "Aikikai Foundation". It covers anybody in the organization run by the Ueshiba family and headquartered in Tokyo (which covers a lot, but far from everything).

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-18-2002, 06:52 PM   #4
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As I Stated, depends on the context. Kai means world the last time I checked..it can also mean club, association, etc. Depends on the translation and context.

"your world" is how you define it. Yes, it can be all those other things that Chris refers to also!

Again, Good luck!

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Old 08-18-2002, 06:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
As I Stated, depends on the context. Kai means world the last time I checked..it can also mean club, association, etc. Depends on the translation and context.

"your world" is how you define it. Yes, it can be all those other things that Chris refers to also!

Again, Good luck!
Well "General Motors" can mean different things too, depending upon how you translate it .

My point was that "Aikikai" is the name of a formally established legal entity, not a generic term meaning "Aikido world". Also, it does not by any means encompass all of Aikido.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-18-2002, 07:01 PM   #6
Kevin Wilbanks
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As a radical empiricist, my opinion is that most of those 'Ki exercises' and modified shinto ritual stuff are nonsense and a waste of time, unless you have some kind of blood/family connection to that tradition. Some, like the unbendable arm, are little more than parlor magic tricks.

My experience is not that wide, but the best Aikidoka I've known had their heads in a practical place, not in the clouds of Ki mysticism and superstition. More importantly, they had their feet on the mat during many long hours of vigorous practice. I don't think they would be nearly as far along if they had spent half that time balancing on chairs and visualizing water flowing out of their hands.

To me, 'Ki' is just a metaphor, which may or may not be of some use. I think practical, logical thinking and experiential 'no-mind' approaches are much more useful. I think most would benefit far more from scientifically informed strength and fitness training, and practical perceptual extensions like a well designed video feedback setup.

That said, you have to go with whichever dojo feels best, as Chris said.
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Old 08-18-2002, 10:07 PM   #7
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Kevin,

appreciate your opinions, and respect them. However, I think you are being a little bit tough on the Ki stuff.

I can certainly appreciate your cynicism. I too have opinions about certain people studying aikido, there genuinity etc.

Aikido is no different in many respects to religions. While I find it hard to understand pentacostal snake handlers and how that relates to Christianity, It really gives me no right to criticize their beliefs or the validity of their practices.

The only criticism I ever have over any religion or martial art is when they start criticizing other peoples beliefs, propagating hatred, or de-humanizing etc.

Not to get into a debate about Ki, but it does exist. Just because you may not be open to the concept or agree with the practices of some dojos on how the atempt to understand it does not mean it is wrong or invalid.

BTW, I do not study with a Ki focused dojo as they are commonly (and unfortunately labeled). I do consider myself to be "practical" in my approach.

Remember that people come to aikido for different reasons. Some to be effective in self defense, some to get in shape, others to develop their connectedness with the life force energy that unites us all!

I have been following a few of your post. (Thought you decided to quite aikido because you couldn't find anyone to study with that was worth your time in your area?)

If the analogy of "water flowing out of your hands" works to help people understand aikido then what is wrong with that?

Please try and be aware that there are many ways to acheive mastery of self. I am very sorry your current situation leave a void in your fullfillment, but you shouldn't try and discourage a new person by "slamming" a particular aspect of the art that you don't agree with!

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Old 08-18-2002, 10:30 PM   #8
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Cliff,

Up there you see the verbal analogy to aikido. One attacks and is immediately taken off balance before a technique is executed to bring it to harmony again.

Anyway with regards to your question. Before coming back home and training with an Aikikai style dojo, I used to train with a Ki Style dojo in the UK. The teachers emphasise different things and teach in different ways. That is because in most martial arts, (and other things as well) individuals perceive things differently. Thus they come to a different interpretation of things and consequently they also train differently. Different doesn't mean good or bad.

But good teachers would probably teach you the way/basics of the art. And leave it to you to master it. That will of course come from practice and not just theorising and talking about it. Of course, at the start, you will learn to do it the teacher's way.

The idea here is to stop thinking that the teacher will teach you what is aikido. You have to learn that on your own.

Lastly, find a dojo you would like to train in. Cause if you don't, you will lose interest in training and that would be a loss.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 08-18-2002, 11:31 PM   #9
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Well said Ahmad!

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Old 08-19-2002, 12:05 AM   #10
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Kevin,

Well, despite your lip service, you haven't really respected my opinion because in the end you have attributed it ulterior psychological motivations on my part, instead of taking it on its own merit. The only thing of substance you have offered is the emphatic assertion that Ki is real, as though I'm just going to take your word for it.

The fact is that no one has ever observed Ki in any way that is consistent, measurable, or repeatable - it's all about anecdotes and individual beliefs. Furthermore, no one has ever demonstrated that a purported effect of Ki has occurred such that said effect could not be explained just as well without the concept of Ki. If I'm wrong, present a study or some evidence beyond anecdotes, subjective impressions or folk stories.

I agree that visualization and feeling metaphors can be an effective training tool, but this doesn't necessarily have anything to do with Ki. Belief in Ki combined with certain types of training activities may be of more use to some people than the same activities pursued without the belief in Ki, but until you run a controlled experiment testing it against some other placebo belief, you've still got no proof.

Placebo effects are well documented, but they are not reliable, and generally not considered ethical to knowingly prescribe. I would say the same applies to art teachers as to doctors. Likewise, as a student I think it is my duty to point out things that I consider untrue, fraudulent, or a waste of time.

Under the guise of 'verbal Aikido' you cite generally relativistic reasons why my criticism of "Ki" and "Ki-exercises" is 'just my opinion'. However, the jist of your whole post is to invalidate my opinion, shored up by the suggestion I "shouldn't" even speak it. You can't have it both ways. Either it's all relative, in which case my reasoned criticism of Ki is equally as valid as your bald assertion of it, or I'm wrong and should be censored...
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Old 08-19-2002, 12:30 AM   #11
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The doka of the day pretty much sums up what OSensei thought of believers or non-believers.

What matters is that the guy's original post wanted to know the difference between the ki and the not so ki influenced dojos. If you concentrate on that mark perhaps this thread won't degenerate into another to ki or not to ki discussion.

Besides, the human mind needs this kind of assurances from time to time. Imagine if you were to walk down a painted line about 4 inches wide. It just enough for you to walk on if you put each foot infront of the other.

I bet that this would be an easy exercise for most of us.

Now imagine as it were you were to walk on that same width, a brick wall for example on a 3rd storey building. Would you have the same confidence as before?

But a ki sensei would probably tell you to feel your center and walk as if your center is being pulled by a string, thus effectively giving you the balance you need. Another practical sensei would say that nothing has changed so go ahead and do what you just did before. The choice for you to learn from which sensei depends on which type of person you are. Neither is wrong.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 08-19-2002, 02:39 AM   #12
ian
 
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From my experience, I didn't really like the ki aikido. I think Tohei was fantastic at aikido, but I also think he had a different agenda to ueshiba and was affected by his interest in yoga etc. For me many of the ki aikido sessions do not do enough movement and I often felt that I could have been spending my time better just doing ikkyo again and again, rather than being lifted up by people. However, I would not critise it for what it is - it's just different from what I wanted from aikido. This is not to say I think it is totally unrelated, and one-off sessions with ki aikido clubs I've had in the past have been very interesting. I've learnt that you have to go for the training you need at the time, and realise that through this training you'll discover its limitations and you'll then understand why those other people train differently i.e. what's right or wrong will depend on what you require at that moment.

Ian

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Old 08-19-2002, 06:14 AM   #13
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Mr. Wilbanks,

Actually, I have witnessed Ki on two occasions. Firstly, on the Discovery Channel, they were doing a report on the martial arts. Within this report, they did a follow up on a 68 year old Japanese man who had studied Aikido for decades. Now, he ran a palor for massage. His method was to use Ki to heat up his towels, and rub them on the persons back. Now to prove it real they used a thermal cam to show one how hot it really got, and it showed temps up to 105 degrees, constantly. My second sighting was with a similiar experence in my dojo. So, yes I do think it excellent to question Ki, but I believe it does exist. Thanks, train hard!

It is not the destination, but the journey.
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Old 08-19-2002, 07:20 AM   #14
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Quote:
Arno Stemmer (Uke4life) wrote:
Mr. Wilbanks,

Actually, I have witnessed Ki on two occasions. Firstly, on the Discovery Channel, they were doing a report on the martial arts. Within this report, they did a follow up on a 68 year old Japanese man who had studied Aikido for decades. Now, he ran a palor for massage. His method was to use Ki to heat up his towels, and rub them on the persons back. Now to prove it real they used a thermal cam to show one how hot it really got, and it showed temps up to 105 degrees, constantly. My second sighting was with a similiar experence in my dojo. So, yes I do think it excellent to question Ki, but I believe it does exist. Thanks, train hard!
I'm not sure that I'd take a Discovery Channel show as scientific evidence (actually, I'm sure that I wouldn't, although I enjoy a lot of their shows). Was he touching the towels? If not then somebody really ought to be flying to Stockholm to collect their Nobel (or to California, to collect a million dollars from the Amazing Randi ). If he was then I suppose it's possible to generate enough body heat to achieve that effect without resort to "ki", or other types of energy generation for explanation, just conventional bio-physics.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-19-2002, 08:16 AM   #15
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I have practiced in ki focused dojos (Seidokan style grew out of Ki Society and still talks about Ki a lot) and dojos were the word doesn't get mentioned. I have not practiced in a Ki Society dojo, though, so this may be a little bit irrelevant to Cliff's question. Still:

I found that one of the biggest differences can be how much you are expected to learn through verbal instruction and intellectual understanding. (Perhaps ironically), the idea of talking about Ki seems to be to help us get an intellectual grasp on something which, in other dojos, we need to internalize without being given words to describe.

So, as a verbal person, I often find the Ki stuff to be very useful both when explaining techniques and when trying to understand them. On the other hand, I also find that there is a great deal to be said for the tradition of understanding (and teaching) AiKiDo without words (hey, there's an idea for another thread ). I've really enjoyed practicing places where I needed to find my own understanding.

So, to me it has felt like the biggest difference between a ki-focused dojo and one that is not ki-focused is the extent to which (and the way in which) words are relied on as part of the teaching. Mind you, you can use words without talking about Ki, but I find that there is much more of a tendency to talk in the ki-focused dojos.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 08-19-2002, 08:48 AM   #16
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One of the proponents of this "ki" based approach is Koichi Tohei sensei. If you pretty much ask anyone who has trained directly with him, they don't doubt his physical effectiveness in aikido. Many consider his aikido to be one of the best they've ever felt...

With that said, I'll relate something I wrote here in the Forums a while back:
Quote:
I remember a story told by George Simcox sensei who was at the dinner table with Koichi Tohei sensei when a reporter asked Tohei sensei if he could move (if I remember correctly) a salt shaker across the table with his "ki." Tohei sensei smiled and said, "Why, of course!" Tohei sensei then reached out with his hand, picked up the salt shaker, and put it down across the table.
-- Jun

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Old 08-19-2002, 09:22 AM   #17
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I have experience Ki...in fact I am experiencing it right now.

It is very hard to describe key since in is very, very conceptual and sematical in nature.

Is a nutshell it is the life force energy that emanates through every living thing. Everybody experiences it in some form or another otherwise you wouldn't be alive or have conscious thought.

The ability to harmonize with it and "walk the fine line" between the Yin and Yang of it is very difficult to do. Something that I have had trouble doing and being able to replicate on a regular basis.

Is it metaphysical, no I don't think so. Ki is conceptual in nature, but it is real.

Some describe it as a light, as water flowing, or a sensation of heat. Can't say I have experienced that type of phenomena....but I will tell you that I have experienced it in many, many ways! Being alive is a Ki experience in itself.

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Old 08-19-2002, 10:36 AM   #18
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Quote:
Arno Stemmer (Uke4life) wrote:
Actually, I have witnessed Ki on two occasions. Firstly, on the Discovery Channel, they were doing a report on the martial arts. Within this report, they did a follow up on a 68 year old Japanese man who had studied Aikido for decades. Now, he ran a palor for massage. His method was to use Ki to heat up his towels, and rub them on the persons back. Now to prove it real they used a thermal cam to show one how hot it really got, and it showed temps up to 105 degrees, constantly. My second sighting was with a similiar experence in my dojo. So, yes I do think it excellent to question Ki, but I believe it does exist.
Not related to ki exactly but a friend was telling me about yogi's that bury their head in the ground and can stay there for 45 minutes. This is interesting because my understanding is that the record for going without air is under 15 minutes.

I suppose the difference between myself and others who would believe is that the first thing I thought is lets put the yogi underwater in clear view for 45 minutes and see what happens.

The point is that just because someone says they are doing something it doesn't mean that is what they are doing or that it is what you saw them doing.
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Old 08-19-2002, 04:30 PM   #19
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LOL, ok, I would like to set something straight. I understand that not all things on tv are real. Yet, I was trying to show that as an example of perhaps what Ki was. LOL, anyways, all train hard and safe!

It is not the destination, but the journey.
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Old 08-21-2002, 08:00 PM   #20
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Exclamation Jacksonville FL

Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
...My experience is not that wide...
Perhaps you would like to expand your horizons - Jacksonville University's Continuing Education Program - Jacksonville Kodokai Aikido.

Last edited by tedehara : 08-21-2002 at 08:25 PM.

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Old 08-21-2002, 08:38 PM   #21
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Are you recommending them on the basis of personal experience with the place and the people, or politics?
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Old 08-21-2002, 09:09 PM   #22
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Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
Are you recommending them on the basis of personal experience with the place and the people, or politics?
Bob Cowan is a former member of the Chicago Ki Society. I've been able to train with him several times, when he visited his family in the Chicago area. Perhaps he might be able to show this soft approach to you.

Since you listed yourself as unaffiliated, I assume you were unable to continue training. Since this is in your location and you mentioned you didn't have much experience with softer styles of aikido, perhaps this might interest you.

Last edited by tedehara : 08-22-2002 at 12:42 PM.

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Old 08-22-2002, 03:52 AM   #23
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My association, Lancashire Aikikai, was founded on the basis of both ki and effective martial arts. Our founder, Sensei Mucha, had a background in Special Forces and in Zen training. We do not separate the class into ki training and martial practice: the one is meant to develop the other in all practice.

Best wishes,

Peter

Peter
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Old 08-22-2002, 04:22 AM   #24
Sam
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Sorry to be so synical but I think some of the current descriptions of Ki are a bit much. I think one of the biggest problems in aikido is the misinterpretation of Ki as "the force".

I have not seen or heard of any Ki related phenomenon that can not be explained by biomechanics.

Surely this is why Ki is related to the tanden - the bodies centre of gravity which may be altered by muscular effort or relaxation to accomplish feats attributed to Ki.

Similarly the unbendable arm is achieved by visualising water or ki flowing from the arm but is in reality an alteration of the way you use the muscles of the arm.

Training with Ki-society and similar aikido stylist reveals this - they are well grounded, but sometimes tend to try to muscle through techniques claiming to 'extend' Ki.

Perhaps the problem is that interpretation of ki has been altered by the influence of the omoto kyo religion. The reason I offer that ki training may be irrelevant to effective aikido is that styles which do not even consider ki demonstrate equal effectiveness and their experienced practitioners are able to peform ki feats equally well due to a learned understanding of biomechanics.
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Old 08-22-2002, 07:48 AM   #25
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Sam,

That's just it. It's a metaphor, and in fact largely relies on visualization metaphors (strings, laser beams, flowing water, etc...) as part of the training. I think these kind of metaphors can be very useful IN Aikido practice. That is, while one is doing a technique or movement one may be able to use the thought images as a guide to learning the proper movement patterns. Since the endpoint is the ability to have such patterns stored and accessed in an unconscious part of the brain, whatever can be used as a stepping stone is valid. However, my qualm is with spending a lot of time doing Ki games and parlor tricks INSTEAD of doing actual, physical Aikido training. From what I've seen in the Ki Society books and seen and heard from a couple of former students, it also sounds like this is done in a context where the purportedly amazing results of these trick are used to proselytize superstitions about the 'realities' of Ki. To me, this sounds like a waste of time, at best, and something inimical to my beliefs as a person and ethics as a trainer, at worst.
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