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Old 05-03-2017, 10:34 AM   #1
hbwill
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Is Aikido a philosophy or a collection of techniques?

What is Aikido? I've been practicing more than twenty years, and my understanding of Aikido has changed over the years. Now, I think of Aikido as an approach to movement, a philosophy, not a collection of techniques. Aikido is the application of certain principles to movement: entry, blending, extending.

One can look at jujitsu as a collection of techniques resting on a spectrum of range: Aikido/Aiki-jujitsu techniques at arms length; Judo techniques at standing grapple; Newaza/BJJ techniques at ground level. At each range, the principles of Aikido can be applied, however, the appropriate techniques change as the available dimensions of movement change.

I see the principles of Aikido applied when I see good Judo and Koshiwaza. And when I see videos like this by Tyson Gay, , and the videos of Roy Dean, I see the principles of Aikido expressed through BJJ technique at ground: entry, blending, extension, flow to resolution.

I've started including basic judo (koshiwaza/newaza) and BJJ techniques to my Aikido instruction as a natural extension of Aikido techniques. I want my students and myself to be able to apply the principles of Aikido at any range. And I'm interested in hearing your thoughts about it. Is it time for Aikido to extend its principles across the full jujitsu spectrum? Is it time for Aikido to incorporate a full range of jujitsu techniques?
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Old 05-03-2017, 05:59 PM   #2
Shadowfax
 
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Re: Is Aikido a philosophy or a collection of techniques?

I think aikido is very like an elephant, being groped about by a lot of blind people who are trying to figure out what it is.
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Old 05-03-2017, 07:23 PM   #3
Peter Goldsbury
 
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Re: Is Aikido a philosophy or a collection of techniques?

Quote:
Brent Williams wrote: View Post
What is Aikido? I've been practicing more than twenty years, and my understanding of Aikido has changed over the years. Now, I think of Aikido as an approach to movement, a philosophy, not a collection of techniques. Aikido is the application of certain principles to movement: entry, blending, extending.

One can look at jujitsu as a collection of techniques resting on a spectrum of range: Aikido/Aiki-jujitsu techniques at arms length; Judo techniques at standing grapple; Newaza/BJJ techniques at ground level. At each range, the principles of Aikido can be applied, however, the appropriate techniques change as the available dimensions of movement change.

I see the principles of Aikido applied when I see good Judo and Koshiwaza. And when I see videos like this by Tyson Gay, , and the videos of Roy Dean, I see the principles of Aikido expressed through BJJ technique at ground: entry, blending, extension, flow to resolution.

I've started including basic judo (koshiwaza/newaza) and BJJ techniques to my Aikido instruction as a natural extension of Aikido techniques. I want my students and myself to be able to apply the principles of Aikido at any range. And I'm interested in hearing your thoughts about it. Is it time for Aikido to extend its principles across the full jujitsu spectrum? Is it time for Aikido to incorporate a full range of jujitsu techniques?
Hello,

But what are the principles? If you aim to teach these to students, who might ask, I think you need to know what they are and to be able to explain them -- rather like Koichi Tohei did. All you have stated is "certain principles, applied to movement, entry, blending, extending." Are these the principles, or are they applications of other, not-yet-defined, principles?

I ask because none of my own teachers ever discussed principles as such. All except one were taught by Morihei Ueshiba and Kisshomaru and the one with whom I discussed aikido the most was K Chiba. (The exception was M Kanestuka, who was taught by Gozo Shioda, before he moved to the Aikikai and became Chiba's deshi.)

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 05-03-2017, 11:13 PM   #4
Erick Mead
 
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Smile Re: Is Aikido a philosophy or a collection of techniques?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello,

But what are the principles? If you aim to teach these to students, who might ask, I think you need to know what they are and to be able to explain them -- rather like Koichi Tohei did. All you have stated is "certain principles, applied to movement, entry, blending, extending." Are these the principles, or are they applications of other, not-yet-defined, principles?

I ask because none of my own teachers ever discussed principles as such. All except one were taught by Morihei Ueshiba and Kisshomaru and the one with whom I discussed aikido the most was K Chiba. (The exception was M Kanestuka, who was taught by Gozo Shioda, before he moved to the Aikikai and became Chiba's deshi.)

Best wishes,
I started aikido in 1985. My first teacher was Dennis Hooker, himself a student of Saotome. In college, I trained in Federation under a student of Yamada. I moved around as a Navy pilot, first in San Diego where I trained to 1st kyu in Iwama with a student of Saito. I also trained thereafter with T K Chiba in San Diego. I also trained in Pearl City in Hawaii. I spent some time in several temporary duty assignments to Yokosuka being introduced to Yoshinkan by Amos Parker. (Loved hiking the Kamakura hills). My initial rank is in Saotome's lineage, awarded by Hooker; I have perhaps more affinity and exposure to Ikeda than Saotome directly. I say this to indicate some degree of perspective in my observations, not of depth, but of comparison in teaching.

In no particular order of parts of the elephant, my observations are as follows:
Shioda's student saw structure as the key and worked from solidity toward dynamic in both bodily form and method. Saito's students believed in the validity of embodied instances to be preserved and explored in increasingly dynamic depth. Federation was more organized in a sense of curriculum, but immensely more adhoc in the manner of exploring the space of aikido as resulting action, more than rigor in the initiating or operative aspects. Chiba, I found ad hoc yet more, though devoted to expressing his own sense of embodied instances with valid martial intent, in ways more difficult to categorize but very interesting. Saotome departed the iemoto limitations seeking to explore his sense of principles in preference to rank and organizational authority. I firmly believe Saotome's legacy is not so much his organization's​ continuity (as his twilight appears), as it is the devotion of his students inspired by him to explore ways to capture and express the right principles. I cannot speak of Tohei's, as I have no reference.

So what are the principles of the art ? I have my thoughts and have expressed them at length elsewhere here, and apply and teach them as I have observed them in my training. I won't belabor those points here; except to say that every approach to principles is a hermeneutic in interpreting the concrete actions we have observed, in ourselves our partners and our teachers, and each exist in relation to the Founder's conceptual legacy and his organizational legacy.

I have a Western technical background and I apply it accordingly. Paraphrasing Habermas, the expressions of remote history and wholly alien culture can be placed in understandable relationship to contexts of our own familiar surroundings. He also pointed out the risk to this process in systems of corporate authority where "language games" (Wittgenstein again), and the resulting pseudo-communication (as he described it) that while perhaps effective in validating commitment to organizational imperatives, serves as a trap for advancing understanding. True communication must be open to the "pathologically buried meaning" that often offends organizational imperatives of the authoritative hermeneutic.

Ultimately, though, the "buried meaning" must be related back to the organizational terms or it's broader communication will be impaired. It is not sufficient to rest in approved categories. It is also not sufficient to strike out and abandon all relation to customary categories, even if they must be remade, inverted or abandoned in ultimate application consistent with the buried meaning. We can discover things outside the hermeneutic circle, but to effectively demonstrate errors of thought, we must reenter it. Even if error is obvious from an exterior view, it must be made to appear as error within the same system that obligingly accepted the error in the first place before it will meaningfully change.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 05-03-2017 at 11:22 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 05-03-2017, 11:28 PM   #5
rugwithlegs
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Re: Is Aikido a philosophy or a collection of techniques?

I enjoy newaza, and I think there are lessons about positioning and resorting to strength in vain that really popped out at me and fed into my practice. In Budo and the Asahi news video, Morihei Ueshiba does show a form of sacrifice throw. I've seen 8th Dan Aikikai do hane goshi and leg sweeps fit into what we do very easily. Some styles will have paired exercises very like Taiji dao lu. And that's all before we talk about weapons use and solo practices which seem very much attached to individual groups.

Ueshiba himself had been a Judo student, as were a number of high ranking students including Tomiki. Were we later trying to not be Judo students, or were we trying to be separate? Or did we cut anything resembling Judo out when Aikido was reinvented post war?

The rules for practice do talk about being ready for an attack from any direction and against any number of attackers, and newaza does not lend itself to this I think. Yes, if you are overweight like me laying on top of a person is a very forgiving and easy to apply pin, much more so than any of our standing pins.

Maybe check out some Yoseikan Aikido clips (I'm having problems getting YouTube to cooperate). People were playing with this idea since well before WWII; nothing new.
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Old 05-03-2017, 11:53 PM   #6
hbwill
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Re: Is Aikido a philosophy or a collection of techniques?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello,

But what are the principles? If you aim to teach these to students, who might ask, I think you need to know what they are and to be able to explain them -- rather like Koichi Tohei did. All you have stated is "certain principles, applied to movement, entry, blending, extending." Are these the principles, or are they applications of other, not-yet-defined, principles?

I ask because none of my own teachers ever discussed principles as such. All except one were taught by Morihei Ueshiba and Kisshomaru and the one with whom I discussed aikido the most was K Chiba. (The exception was M Kanestuka, who was taught by Gozo Shioda, before he moved to the Aikikai and became Chiba's deshi.)

Best wishes,
You are certainly fortunate to have studies with so many masters. Do I understand correctly that from these experiences there is nothing for you that distinguishes Aikido from other martial arts other than the techniques? This question is at the heart of my hypothesis, which stated affirmatively is: Aikido is not a collection of specific techniques, but an approach to applying techniques. I approach this hypothesis in the spirit of Morihei Ueshiba's invitation to continue to develop what he began and Shoji Nisho’s very compelling work to do so (as well as others).

First, let’s examine the question of whether Aikido is just a collection of well selected techniques. If this is the case, then there are no principles to examine, only the techniques themselves, and their application is limited to a select set of martial contexts. This is not my experience. I find my study of Aikido informs many aspects of my life, in social intercourse, in non-violent conflict, in negotiations, in the study of Go, in other sports, etc. Since I cannot apply Aikido’s martial techniques in these contexts, there must be something else that is carrying over, certain approaches which must be informed by certain principles.

Second, if Aikido is just a collection of well selected techniques, then what distinguishes it from other arts that use similar techniques, more specifically the large family of jujitsu schools from which Aikido was derived? It cannot be ikkyo, nikyo, sankyo, etc., because they do not vary substantially in form from their origins. Thus, it must be the method in which they are applied. What distinguishes those methods as a cohesive approach? There must be consistent principles to make those methods cohesive and recognizable.

I think it is safe to say that reason dictates that Aikido is not simply a set of well-selected techniques, but an approach to the application of techniques based on certain principles. Once reaching this conclusion, one can derive other conclusions without having to first define those principles. First, Aikido is defined by its principles. Second, Aikido is not limited to specific technique. Third, the principles of Aikido can be applied with techniques beyond the techniques traditionally associated with Aikido. This conclusion allows us to apply the principles of Aikido along the spectrum of jujitsu and also in non-martial contexts.

Looking at jujitsu specifically, we can see jujitsu techniques lie on a spectrum of range (weapons, striking, standing grappling, and ground grappling). Is there a reason that the principles of Aikido cannot be applied along the entire spectrum? I cannot find one, but I think this question is worth exploring. There are certain martial artist I have seen who, when doing judo and Brazilian jiu jitsu, look like they are moving in an Aikido way. This is interesting and has caused me to ask these questions, and it has caused me to look beyond technique and to the way the technique is applied.

Finally, to your question “What are the principles of Aikido?”

Unfortunately, I do not share your distinguished pedigree, and cannot draw upon a similar experience. And after only twenty years of exploring Aikido, I do not pretend to have a definitive answer, but I do think I have earned the right to ask some well informed questions, and to make hard-earned observations. I cannot say definitively that the following observations are principles or are principles of Aikido, but they are ideas that constantly inform my own Aikido practice, and help me to distinguish moments as Aikido-like or not. I share them not as conclusions but as observations for consideration when trying to derive the principles that make up Aikido.

First, Aikido applies techniques in iterative cycles of entry, blending, and extension.
Second, Aikido engages and accepts another without sacrifice. (Entry, Irimi.) It usually applies an oblique angle, or changes the relationship to engage another safely.
Third, Aikido respects the intention of another without sacrifice. (Blending, Aiki.) This practice avoids obstructing or blocking another’s intentions without sacrificing one’s own.
Forth, Aikido extends the intention of another. (Extending, Kuzushi.) This is expanding another’s view, or unbalancing another so that they cannot counter dangerously.
Fifth, Aikido seeks moral resolution. I.e., one can deliver a devastating atemi or chose to transform that moment into a blend that leads to another choice and so on until resolution. In other words, the method of technical application allows for an appropriate response to the conflict presented.

I certainly ask myself if each of my movements achieves these steps when applying technique, and I find that they are applicable beyond the mat. I don’t know if these formulate principles, if they are the right principles, or what other principles there are that distinguish Aikido from other approaches to conflict. And I think that is worth a conversation, worth exploring. What are your thoughts?

Last edited by hbwill : 05-04-2017 at 12:01 AM.
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Old 05-04-2017, 12:34 AM   #7
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Is Aikido a philosophy or a collection of techniques?

If you think it is the techniques that make Aikido then the solution can only be to learn more and more techniques and to get better at doing them. I too was on that path for a long time - and we all have to go through it. Then I woke up. It is aiki that makes Aikido what it is - it is what makes Aikido different to everything else. So, you have to search for and train the aiki-ness of every technique you find. Aikido is The Way of Aiki. If you can't see this ... then you have not started your journey yet. But, if you just go for the aiki without going through all the techniques ... it will be like trying to catch the wind.

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Old 05-04-2017, 07:53 AM   #8
phitruong
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Re: Is Aikido a philosophy or a collection of techniques?

i thought it was a riddle of love for ki (*with liam nesson voice* i will find ki and i will kill ki for taking so much of my time and energy!), wrapped in the mystery of the hakama that made me look fat and not sexy, inside an enigma of the do do which extincted.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 05-04-2017, 11:10 PM   #9
Peter Goldsbury
 
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Re: Is Aikido a philosophy or a collection of techniques?

Hello again,

Sorry, but I found your response rather argumentative and I am not prepared to argue with you. My post simply sought some clarification of what you meant and I am glad that you have given the clarification asked for. Thank you.

I have a few more remarks, which are given below.

Quote:
Brent Williams wrote: View Post
You are certainly fortunate to have studies with so many masters. Do I understand correctly that from these experiences there is nothing for you that distinguishes Aikido from other martial arts other than the techniques? This question is at the heart of my hypothesis, which stated affirmatively is: Aikido is not a collection of specific techniques, but an approach to applying techniques. I approach this hypothesis in the spirit of Morihei Ueshiba's invitation to continue to develop what he began and Shoji Nisho's very compelling work to do so (as well as others).
No, I do not think you understand correctly, for your supposition is something I never stated, or even implied. Morihei Ueshiba was a very close student of Takeda Sokaku and also studied other arts, besides grappling arts. Have you read his discourses or interviews? In one interview, Ueshiba was asked how many techniques there were in aikido and he did not know. As a rough guess, he thought there were many thousands. However, I heard from a close friend of mine, who knew O Sensei and received his 3rd dan from him, that when he was training in the Tokyo Hombu, O Sensei asked him the name of the technique that was being taught. My friend told him it was kote gaeshi, and he smiled approvingly. ‘Good name, good name,' was his response. So, I do not really think that Ueshiba worried unduly about techniques.

At some point, Ueshiba met Onisaburo Deguchi, the promoter of the Omoto religion, and also became a very close disciple. Ueshiba's dojo in Ayabe was for Omoto students and an early student was Rinjiro Shirata, who was a judo expert. Kenji Tomiki also became a student. These two students became Ueshiba's deshi, training in Tokyo from 1925 onwards, -- and both have written about aikido training. I think there are some crucial texts from this period and from Ueshiba's involvement with Omoto, which require close study by anyone who is attempting to delineate aikido ‘principles' and mark these off from those of other martial arts. They are Budo Renshu, Budo, and the Takemusu Aiki lectures. In addition, I commend to your attention Alan Beebe's blog, also the extensive material on Christopher Li's Sangenkai website, in fact, anything you can lay your hands on about aiki and how it works.

Finally, I stand by my earlier remark that my Japanese teachers did not talk about aikido principles. In this they followed the example of Morihei Ueshiba himself, for by all accounts I have heard, he did not talk about principles, either.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 05-05-2017, 01:53 PM   #10
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Is Aikido a philosophy or a collection of techniques?

Quote:
Brent Williams wrote: View Post
What is Aikido? I've been practicing more than twenty years, and my understanding of Aikido has changed over the years. Now, I think of Aikido as an approach to movement, a philosophy, not a collection of techniques. Aikido is the application of certain principles to movement: entry, blending, extending.
Aikido is a spiritual path where the techniques are used as tools to change your body and understanding of yourself . Simply look what O sensei did, why he prayed 3 times a day, why and how he changed daito ryu techniques,
Quote:
Brent Williams wrote: View Post
I've started including basic judo (koshiwaza/newaza) and BJJ techniques to my Aikido instruction as a natural extension of Aikido techniques. I want my students and myself to be able to apply the principles of Aikido at any range. And I'm interested in hearing your thoughts about it. Is it time for Aikido to extend its principles across the full jujitsu spectrum? Is it time for Aikido to incorporate a full range of jujitsu techniques?
It is very wrong to mix other MA with aikido. They must be practiced separately to avoid cross contamination and confusion what are the roots and what are the leaves.

Last edited by NagaBaba : 05-05-2017 at 01:56 PM.

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Old 05-06-2017, 10:49 AM   #11
dps
 
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Re: Is Aikido a philosophy or a collection of techniques?

It is a collection of techniques. Some from O' Sensei, some from his direct students and some from the numerous practitioners of Aikido. These techniques allow the practioner to explore the main principle of Aikido, nage maintains balance and uke loses balance. The study of the fundamental nature of this principle is the philiosophy.

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