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Old 08-29-2002, 11:53 AM   #1
akiy
 
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What Makes a Technique an "Aikido" Technique?

So here's an offshoot thread from the Most Important Aikido Technique thread...

What, in your mind and experience, makes a technique an "aikido" technique?

-- Jun

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Old 08-29-2002, 01:16 PM   #2
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Quote:
Jun wrote:
What, in your mind and experience, makes a technique an "aikido" technique?
One that uses "aiki" as the defining principle.

So maybe the hidden question is "what is Aiki"? Jun, I think that everyone's answers to your question will depend upon how they or their teachers define the principle of Aiki.

Jim Vance
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Old 08-29-2002, 02:23 PM   #3
Kent Enfield
 
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I have to agree with Jim. If it uses aiki, it's aikido. If it doesn't it isn't.

I was at a seminar about ten years ago with Saotome s. at which he made this specific point. He said (quoting from memory), "We are not shihonageka; we are not iriminageka; we are aikidoka." He then proceeded to have the entire group practice a flying scissors-leg takedown and using kotegaeshi to make an opening for a front kick to the chest.

Kentokuseisei
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Old 08-29-2002, 07:28 PM   #4
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I have to agree with Jim. If it uses aiki, it's aikido. If it doesn't it isn't.
I agree that this is part of what makes a technique an Aikido technique, but the principles of Aiki are not only used by Aikidoka e.g. Aikijutsu where the end results maybe be completely different to a similiar looking Aikido technique.

For me it is more down to the protective spirit of Aikido. I believe that you can take almost any technique from another martial art and providing you apply it with a bit compassion for Uke & self control (In otherwords no permanent damage to the attacker) then you can call it an Aikido Technique regardless of what it looks like.

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Old 08-30-2002, 08:14 AM   #5
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Re: What Makes a Technique an "Aikido" Technique?

Quote:
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
What, in your mind and experience, makes a technique an "aikido" technique?
IMHO, blending and taking balance.

Until again,

Lynn

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 08-30-2002, 10:21 AM   #6
Bruce Baker
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Aikido's individuality

Having experienced, although not mastered, other forms of martial arts, I have different feelings for mindsets of each type of training I have experienced.

Karate became the video game of creating injury and pain with strikes, punches, and violent manipulations that saught injury to neutralize opponents.

Many techniques in jujitsu were simular to Aikido, but when the chips were down, throwing your opponent like a sack of potatoes, much like judo, and striking soft points of the body loosened opponents.

Aikido practice, encompassed a different feel, a different mindset, a different rythym.

Many of Aikido's techniques involve catching the flying leaves, blending with energy of a grappler or football lineman so you can either redirect it or get around it. There is a point of physical fitness that allows you to be somewhat quick and mobile, but the strength is not held withinin the body, but directed outward in the mindset sending it across the room.

The techniques remind me of throwing a baseball. Sometimes you catch and throw, sometimes you redirect the energy, sometimes you are in the outfield trying to reach home plate with an impossible throw. In each case, you recieve a force, allow it to lose velocity, or use the moving velocity to rebound into a throw.

In terms of physical encounter, much of Aikido's techniques are learning to be hit by the wave, or ride the wave. You avoid the hard physical contact by learning to "get the hell out of the way." A softer physical contact that is no less overpowering that the stiffer physical contact of other types of martial arts.

I used to call the grappling art, the art of the snake. The striking arts, the art of being hit by a two by four. The throwing arts of either judo or jujitsu, the art of throwing a sack of potatoes, or wresting with a tree log.

Aikido?

The art of riding the wave.

That would also include learning how to make the wave, as well as ride it.

If you have ever wiped out and ridden a wave in the ocean, or been thrown into a river to fight the current and rough water, then the concept of riding the wave does have some meaning. If not ... you will when your ukemi gets good enough to feel where the energy is going instead of trying to anticipate movements.
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Old 08-30-2002, 03:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Jay Peatee (JPT) wrote:
For me it is more down to the protective spirit of Aikido. I believe that you can take almost any technique from another martial art and providing you apply it with a bit compassion for Uke & self control (In otherwords no permanent damage to the attacker) then you can call it an Aikido Technique regardless of what it looks like.
I guess I don't buy that protecting the opponent from harm is a necessary or even important part of aikido. No, the goal isn't to cause harm, but if injury happens, so be it. All those lovely, completely harmless techniques in the dojo have very different results when the recipient doesn't know how to receive them.

Even simple and seemingly harmless ikkyo can mess up a shoulder if the person doesn't go with it. I've done it accidentally just goofing around with a friend (the result was just a minor strain with some soreness the next day).

One of the guys in my old dojo got attacked. He did a nice kaiten nage expecting a nice roll. It's easy ukemi after all. Instead, the guy's face slid across the pavement.

No more injury than necessary doesn't mean no injury.

Kentokuseisei
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Old 08-30-2002, 04:48 PM   #8
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Hi !

In training I'd say to show openings instead of takedowns,in real life - the outcome,

meaning having less of a problem after action,

and not have more people come after you,and if

possible turn a foe into a friend,I have managed once to turn a foe into a friend so

I know it can happen.

yours - Chr.B.
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Old 08-30-2002, 06:08 PM   #9
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I don't think Aikido is defined by techniques as much as it is defined by the philosophy of it's founder.

So what makes an aikido technique, aikido is the mindset/spirit in which the technique is performed.

Aikido is a methodology of training that has been imparted down to us from O'Sensei. To me Aikido doesn't have any exclusive techniques, only it's methodology and philsophy. Albeit, we typically center our studies around a core group of techniques. These techniques can be seen in tai chi, karate, aikijutsu, yoga, and even in the WWF!

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Old 08-30-2002, 06:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
All those lovely, completely harmless techniques in the dojo have very different results when the recipient doesn't know how to receive them
Good point which I agree with. Injuries can happen regards of how carefully you apply your techniques.
Quote:
No, the goal isn't to cause harm, but if injury happens, so be it
I'll rephase that slightly

"The goal is not to cause harm, but if injury happens it will not be intentional (except in situations where there is absolutely no other option)".

However we should strive & train to be good enough that there will always be another option.


Last edited by JPT : 08-30-2002 at 06:16 PM.
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Old 08-30-2002, 09:00 PM   #11
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Quote:
I wrote:
No, the goal isn't to cause harm, but if injury happens, so be it.
Quote:
Jay Peatee (JPT) wrote:
I'll rephase that slightly

"The goal is not to cause harm, but if injury happens it will not be intentional (except in situations where there is absolutely no other option)".
Well, I'll rephrase it more than slightly, since I know what I intended to convey, but apparently didn't.

"The goal, in a self-defense situation when using "aikido technique", is not to cause injury to my attacker, but to defend myself. However, the results of doing will most likely be injury to my attacker.

I do not think that causing injury when you apply a technique is the result of lack of skill. Causing injury when you don't want to (such as while training) certainly is, but that doesn't mean that just causing injury is. Nor do I think that using an aikido technique to cause injury somehow reduces its "aikidoness".

There's nothing inherently contradictory between the principles of aikido and hurting people, even intentionally. If people disagree with me, which I expect at least some to do, I'd like to know what why they think so.

Kentokuseisei
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Old 08-30-2002, 10:06 PM   #12
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For me, recognizing and touching your partner's/attacker's humanity.
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Old 08-31-2002, 09:39 AM   #13
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This is really confusing, it seems most people are saying that as long as it is done with the right spirit any technique could be considered an aikido technique. I don't think that my husband and I could get on the mat and start doing Yakasoku kumite,(learned in karate) and call it aikido. Well we could call it that but it wouldn't be, and I don't think my sensei would consider it aikido either. Aren't there actual techniques that Osensei taught his students and that in turn have been taught to their students and so on? (Yes I understand ther are lots of variations of the techniques). If the philosophy behind the movement is the determining factor in what makes something an aikido technique, then does that mean that my karate instuctors could have called their art aikido, as the spirit, the philosophy, is the same?

Kat

I find the aquisition of knowledge to be relatively easy, it is the application that is so difficult.
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Old 08-31-2002, 06:03 PM   #14
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Quote:
Kathryn Cole (Kat.C) wrote:
This is really confusing, it seems most people are saying that as long as it is done with the right spirit any technique could be considered an aikido technique. . . . If the philosophy behind the movement is the determining factor in what makes something an aikido technique, then does that mean that my karate instuctors could have called their art aikido, as the spirit, the philosophy, is the same?
Well, I can only elaborate my own opinion.

What makes a technique aikido isn't whether it is on the syllabus of an aikido dojo or organization, or even whether O-sensei taught it. What makes it aikido is whether it relies on the principle of aiki: blending, no direct force on force, etc. That does not include a moral component. Bad people can use aikido to do bad things for bad reasons and it's still aikido.

So, just because you learned it in a karate dojo and not an aikido one doesn't make it not aikido. There's nothing inherently "un-aikido-like" about punching, kicking, kneeing. As I mentioned upthread, Saotome s. had us practice kicking people in the chest to make that point.

Kentokuseisei
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Old 09-01-2002, 05:56 AM   #15
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I agree with the first part of your answer, Kent, in that you can go from org. to org. and find plenty of differences being taught, all 'handed down from the Founder'.

I disagree that kicks, punches, etc being taught or being used absolve you from a moral factor, and would say that is the difference between what looks like aikido that is being taught in Judo, BJJ, Karate, etc. For instance, the kick or punch done as you described earlier might have been to demonstrate openings that are left if a tech. is not done correctly (kick with kotegaeshi) or as an attack (the first you mentioned)...I have been in a class where Saotome Sensei made us just do punches all night, but his explanation at that time was we punched too ineffectively to practice technique against.

Futher, punches and kicks can be integral parts of a tech., either as atemi or another part, but it is the spririt that it is delivered (and perhaps the timing) that makes it different. Are we pucnhing/kicking to maintain space/move our attacker, or are we punching him or kicking him during the pin (I've seen this taught in aikido dojos, but to me, kicking someone after you've subdued them is not aikido).

I of course can have it all wrong, but it is easiest for me to connect to my pertner, especially those I'm not personally fond of, if I make an active attempt to truely see them, as my fellow human, as a person trying to improve, and if there are problems in our interaction, to look at why he may be acting as he is, and at all times, no matter what is transpiring on the mat, to make sure I protect my uke to the best of my ability.

Aikido-looking techniques, when they've been done to me by people who either by my observation or dojo opinion are a bit antisocial (unable to see humanity in others), feels quite different.
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Old 09-01-2002, 07:22 AM   #16
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Quote:
This is really confusing, it seems most people are saying that as long as it is done with the right spirit any technique could be considered an aikido technique
Hard to believe I know, but it also works the otherway around, Aikido techniques can be considered to be Karate, Arnis, Tai chi techniques etc..

The best example I can think of is Kote Gashi if you take a look in almost any book on another martial art you will find the basic shape/configuration of Kote Gashi. Yes it will be applied differently, but it is still Kote Gashi just another variation.
Quote:
Bad people can use aikido to do bad things for bad reasons and it's still aikido.
Aiki yes, Aikido No

The word Aikido is commonly describe as meaning "the way of Harmony"

Suppose we have a bad man using "Aikido" to beat up somebody & mug them. Where is the "Way of Harmony" in that ?

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Old 09-01-2002, 09:42 PM   #17
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Quote:
Colleen Annes (ca) wrote:
I disagree that kicks, punches, etc being taught or being used absolve you from a moral factor, and would say that is the difference between what looks like aikido that is being taught in Judo, BJJ, Karate, etc.
Huh? I never related striking to morality. I stated that the technical principle "aiki" is not a moral thing. I also stated that striking was not inherently "un-aiki." Two independent statements.

Why does a technique that uses aiki but is taught under a different name have to be not aikido? Is it not possible for there to be overlap between different martial arts?
Quote:
Colleen Annes (ca) wrote:
For instance, the kick or punch done as you described earlier might have been to demonstrate openings that are left if a tech. is not done correctly (kick with kotegaeshi) or as an attack (the first you mentioned)... [snip]

Futher, punches and kicks can be integral parts of a tech., either as atemi or another part, but it is the spririt that it is delivered (and perhaps the timing) that makes it different. Are we pucnhing/kicking to maintain space/move our attacker, or are we punching him or kicking him during the pin
In my example above the technique was: 1) Uke strikes munetsuki. 2) Nage starts on a regular kotegaeshi, but instead of taking it all the way into a throw, only takes it far enough to immobilize uke and open his chest. 3) Nage kicks him in the sternum or solar plexus. The kick wasn't about maintaing distance or getting uke to move. It was the "goal" of the technique.

And practicing this technique immediately followed statements by Saotome s. to the effect that aikido is not limited to a list of techniques: whatever you do following the principles of aiki is aikido. This technique still relied on blending and taking balance just like you'd expect with ikkyo or kotegaeshi. It just ended with a strike rather than a throw, lock, or pin.
Quote:
Jay Peatee(JPT) wrote:
The word Aikido is commonly describe as meaning "the way of Harmony"

Suppose we have a bad man using "Aikido" to beat up somebody & mug them. Where is the "Way of Harmony" in that ?
Well, I think that that common description is incorrect. Aiki doesn't mean harmony, not in a "we all get along" sense. If by harmony you mean being in synch or coordinated with, I guess you could translate aiki as harmony. So, yes that bad person can beat up someone and take their lunch money using aiki and hence be doing aikido.

(As a tangent, I do believe that O-sensei thought that by practicing aiki in a technical sense, one would begin to practice its moral analog. However, I do not think that one must practice that analog, or even agree with someone else on what it is, to be doing aikido.)

You seem to agree that aiki is technical principle, not a moral one ("Aiki yes, Aikido No"). What then differentiates a technique that uses aiki and looks like aikido but isn't aikido from one that that uses aiki, looks like aikido, and is?

Kentokuseisei
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Old 09-02-2002, 07:44 AM   #18
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"(As a tangent, I do believe that O-sensei thought that by practicing aiki in a technical sense, one would begin

to practice its moral analog. However, I do not think

that one must practice that analog, or even agree with

someone else on what it is, to be doing aikido.)"

so are you saying you believe O Sensei had as a goal of Aikido the development of this moral viewpoint, that we would eventually reach this moral practice of his art, but that goal is not actually part of Aikido?

I have no issues with those who see this just as a physical form of exercise/self defense/whatever, as long as they have no issues with what I get out of it. But they usually deny the moral aspect as ever being in the design. You seem to be saying it was meant by O Sensei to be there, but it's not really a vital part.

As for the kicking uke in the middle of kotegashi, it sounds like it was demonstrated do do the kick rather than finish the kotegaeshi throw you already had? But not to show uke his vulnerability and the reason to take the fall, but rather immobilizing uke with the wrist lock so you could kick him in the chest? So you give up the certain technique in order to stand on one foot and kick an immobilized uke in the chest? Not sure I see the point in it, but I don't see the point in those who demo kicking uke after you've pinned him, either.
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Old 09-02-2002, 09:24 AM   #19
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A different sound

Quote:
What, in your mind and experience, makes a technique an "aikido" technique?
Nothing.

In my mind there does not exist such a thing as "an aikido technique". Of course anyone can argue that we use and train techniques in aikido, however aikido is not defined by the sum of the techniques practised, the techniques practised are not exclusively used in aikido and even the way techniques are practised or performed is not unique for aikido.

Maybe the need to try to answer this question is born from a deeper need to go and label things in the world. Unfortunately labeling does not lead to understanding and acceptance. Why would I want to claim that I am doing a specific aikido technique when doing for instance ude osae but a ju jitsu guy/girl doing ude osae isnt?

Even the claim that certain idea or principle is what makes a technique aikido does not make a lot of sense because a lot of the ideas like aiki or love and respect are as fundamental to other martial arts as well. I have seen a judoka display a fair understanding of aiki yet I am a 100% certain this girl was not doing aikido.

I often find that people tend to use the words aiki, aikido and aikido technique in a manner as if they are claiming to have a higher understanding of men, the world and the universe because the are followers of the only right religion and therefor have special insight. This can even been seen in the willingness some people show to claim that some other martial artist can be doing aikido without knowing it themselves. (Nobody in his right mind would claim that I was doing gymnastics if I slipped over a banana peel and made a perfect salto.) This to me sounds like the "we have the only true religion and someone who is doing something we cant debunk must be following our religion without knowing it"-reasoning. A kind of reasoning I personaly find very scary due to its use in history.

Maybe the question "what makes a technique an aikido technique?" represents the failure for some people to answer the more difficult questions like:

"What is aikido?"

"What defines me?"

"What am I doing?"

"Should we agree?"

Understandably these questions can be quite scary and for most people are so uncomfortable with realizing their own insignificance they rather ignore it anyway.

I hope this was pleasantly discomforting.

(Slipping on asbestus flameproof suit)

Last edited by erikmenzel : 09-02-2002 at 03:07 PM.

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Old 09-02-2002, 05:45 PM   #20
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Colleen Annes (ca) wrote:
so are you saying you believe O Sensei had as a goal of Aikido the development of this moral viewpoint, that we would eventually reach this moral practice of his art, but that goal is not actually part of Aikido?
Yes. That's exactly what I'm saying. I also do not think that practicing aikido inevitably leads to moral development, just that it is intended as a tool for that development. The potential moral development comes from the practicing of something difficult (in this case, learning to fight effectively), not from the techniques of the art itself. Heck, even kendo and judo claim to intended as instruments of moral development, but do not make the claim that you have to be a good person or using the techniques for a good purpose to be doing kendo or judo. They just claim that you ought to. I believe it to be the same with aikido.

Aikido in and of itself is amoral. It was developed so that practice of it could be used as a tool for moral development.
Quote:
Colleen Annes (ca) wrote:
As for the kicking uke in the middle of kotegashi, it sounds like it was demonstrated do do the kick rather than finish the kotegaeshi throw you already had? But not to show uke his vulnerability and the reason to take the fall, but rather immobilizing uke with the wrist lock so you could kick him in the chest? So you give up the certain technique in order to stand on one foot and kick an immobilized uke in the chest?
It wasn't so much a stop one technique, start another type thing. You just used a kote-gaeshi motion to open the chest in order to deliver the kick. If you're opposed to being on one foot, you really would have disliked the technique that came next: a flying scissors takedown in which nage was completely airborn. I'd also that point out that kotegaeshi is no more "certain" than maegeri.

The point was not to get stuck in a "this technique is aikido; that one is not" mindset. Or it could have been just for Saotome s.'s amusement, having seen what happens when a bunch of aikidoka try to practice the technique.
Quote:
Colleen Annes (ca) wrote:
I don't see the point in those who demo kicking uke after you've pinned him, either.
I've never done that or seen it done, but I'd guess it's so that uke doesn't get up right away.

Kentokuseisei
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Old 09-03-2002, 12:49 PM   #21
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That kanji "DO" sure does some wonderful things, doesn't it? If it was absent in the original question, we would have an almost entirely different thread (one I thought would revolve around the principle of Aiki). Instead the question really becomes "are techniques really aikido?" or something like that. The Tao Te Ching says according to one translation "The Ways that can be walked are not the eternal Way; the names that can be named are not the eternal Name." (Victor Mair trans.) Could it be that what we practice is not "aikido" at all, but merely a pattern that reveals a greater ideal. As far as practical application (real life stuff, whether it be protecting your life, or diffusing verbal conflict), that is not "aikido" at all, merely the human facade of that higher ideal.

By trying to live our lives according to that higher ideal, having it pressed into our mind via our conscious intent, we interrupt the ideal of aikido. At some point we have all come into contact with persons, teachers of this art, who personify this ideal without thinking about it as much as we do. Sometimes we think they don't think about it at all, that they live it, that they are enlightened. Maybe so.

In other words, can a "DO" translate into a thing, techniques, and still remain a "DO"? Or are techniques like shadows on a wall, a visual pattern of things that hint at some higher ideal, some source that we can feel, but lack the resources to actually perceive? Perhaps through training we can walk the path without trying, without distinction and separation. Perhaps we will never overcome the human condition, and we will just have to be happy with who we are and what we have.

Jim Vance
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Old 09-03-2002, 01:52 PM   #22
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Quote:
Jim Vance (jimvance) wrote:
That kanji "DO" sure does some wonderful things, doesn't it?

<...snipped...>

In other words, can a "DO" translate into a thing, techniques, and still remain a "DO"? Or are techniques like shadows on a wall, a visual pattern of things that hint at some higher ideal, some source that we can feel, but lack the resources to actually perceive? Perhaps through training we can walk the path without trying, without distinction and separation. Perhaps we will never overcome the human condition, and we will just have to be happy with who we are and what we have.

Jim Vance
Great post, Jim. I think this sums up the discussion nicely. To me, the use of blending and redirection makes a technique "aiki". However, I think that in order to be practicing Aiki-DO, the intent to genuinely improve yourself (and, yes, to "get along" as much as possible with others) must be present. Without that, you aren't following a way, but simply practicing technique.
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Old 09-03-2002, 11:38 PM   #23
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Newbie question here... feel free to tell me if I'm simply being foolish.

The "do" in Aikido means "way of" correct? Could the translaction of "way" also be attributed to "path"? i.e. Aikido is a path of harmony with spirit and the energy that spirit contains within itself? From what I've heard so far of O Sensei's synthesis of Aikido from other martial arts practices and his spiritual beliefs it would be consistent to interpret Aikido in this light.

I know that times have changed since O Sensei's days... modernity has given us more complexity to handle and most of us don't have enough time to pay attention to spirituality (if we acknowledge the need for it at all). But that which calls to me in Aikido is the fact that it does indeed appear to be a path where the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual aspects of the martial art are all necessary to truly fulfill the ideals set out by O Sensei.

Call me a flake if you will - but this is what I think distinguishes a true aikidoka from just another thug who has learnt physical patterns that can be used to cause injury to others.

This to me is the difference between technique and art. Any schmuck can connect the dots and colour inside the lines. It's an artist who expresses the deeper meaning of the subject by daring to colour outside them.

Ultimately, is the original question posed here important? Or is it the approach to the practise of the technique; the attunement of your senses to perception of your Ki and that of your Uke; the harmonious relationship between mind and body; and the journey towards true harmony that is important? Can you divorce Aikido from the Aikidoka? Should you?

*shrugs*

I await clarification from those wiser and more experienced than myself.

Harmony to all

Jeremy

The difference between shadow and light
Is the fat bastard standing in the doorway
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Old 09-04-2002, 08:35 PM   #24
Kevin Leavitt
 
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One of my favorite quotes

"all know the way, few walk it" Boddiharma

Like several people have said...you can master the techniques and the skills, it can look like aikido, but if you are not on the path, the "DO", or the way, then you are practicing aikido, even if you are right next to someone in an "bonafide" aikido dojo, with a "bonafide" instructor.

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Old 09-05-2002, 05:23 AM   #25
mike lee
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finding the Way

Boddiharma also said that only a tacit understanding is sufficient. By this I think that he meant when we try to over-analyze something that is as inherently deep and mystical as "zen" or "Tao," we immediately get into trouble because by its very nature, it is not completely understandable.

Words themselves are part of the illusion that we are trying to overcome.

Our intellectual attempts at understanding the Tao are just the first phase of learning. If we could actually understand it, there would be no more mystery. But, in reality such an intellectual understanding is impossible.

The ancients realized that we could gradually gain a deeper, true understanding of Tao by shutting off our internal dialogue through meditation or other esoteric practices that allow us to return to the level of "direct experience," that is, experiencing phenomenon without verbal coloration.

Therefore, IMHO, if an aikido instructor simply has a tacit understanding of Tao, I believe that this is sufficient for him to teach the "art," and not simply the "technique" or waza.

In the end we find out that we are the Way, and that our journey through life is the teacher. But only the humble can fully gain from its lessons.
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