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Old 09-10-2003, 09:25 PM   #51
Bogeyman
Dojo: UW-La Crosse Aikido
Location: La Crosse, WI
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 68
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I feel that there is another point that Furuya Sensei brought up that I noticed in a number of public demos. Furuya Sensei mentioned showing basics that show what the art and at the same time gain interest in the art is while doing these documentaries. IMHO many of the demos that I have seen show flashy, powerful aikido that, while generally well done and quite impressive, leaves the audience saying "I can never do that". What looks good to us is different from people that are being introduced to the art and sometimes we need to simplify to get these people to join. In our dojo we depend heavily on public demos for recruiting because at a university we lose people to graduation all of the time to keep enrollment up. We have found that when we get flashier and more advanced the less successful our recruiting has been. Just my $.02.

E
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Old 09-11-2003, 01:07 AM   #52
Kensho Furuya
Dojo: Aikido Center of Los Angeles
Location: Los Angeles
Join Date: Apr 2002
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I am really grateful to so many of you for your understanding. I have really agonized in doing these cable shows - but I went ahead anyways because if I did not do them, these companies would probably cover some weird, off the wall Aikido which would not give a decent representation of Aikido at all. I really thought and hoped that these shows would go unnoticed by the Aikido population because they are really for the general public who have never seen or have known of Aikido before. I tried not to show myself too much and used my students, who are younger and more good-looking than me, as much as possible!

One point I wanted to add to all of this conversation is that if I show a very strong, aggressive Aikido, emphasizing its combat effectiveness - we are immediately lumped together with all kinds of other martial arts including full-contact sports and competitions and everything else you see on tv and in the media which they call "martial arts" but is nothing like what our art of Aikido is. The general public, many of whom are seeing Aikido for the first time, are automatically comparing us to the other martial arts also presented in these shows. These viewers have the same experience that you well know about seeing all the action-martial arts films, Kung Fu movies, contact-fights in La Vegas, etc. and everything which is so distant from what we understand and do in Aikido. Most of the readers here are all experts in Aikido, but we must appreciate that those in the general public who know nothing of martial arts or Aikido often lump everything together and assume that one martial art is not too much different from the next.

Part of my intention is to keep Aikido from automatically being lumped into the rest of all this "stuff," we see today. So, I decided to just show very simple basic Aikido, what a dojo should look like - it is not a wrestling ring, and its discipline and how we practice. For trying to be low-key, we still received a very good and warm response from many people. I am so happy that one of you in the last entry to this section here could appreciate this!

For example, in one instance, the interviewer was surprised when I insisted that they show the students cleaning the dojo after practice. I thought they would cut it out of the show but for some reason they left it in the final cut. There was a great deal of positive response to this from the public because they could see that Aikido was more of a discipline and a Path of self-cultivation - as opposed to a sport or more commercial form of martial arts. Trying to show the circular, blending movements in Aikido in just a few seconds was difficult to tape well and for even the cable crew to understand. If we show too soft of a movement, the public will interpret Aikido as just an exercise, if we show Aikido as too hard or too dynamic - Aikido will be interpreted as a "fighting" art or competitive sport. Not knowing what will be left in and what they will cut out on the editing room floor in the final cut creates even greater difficulties and challenges to out-think them and work in such a way, that in the very worst scenario, they will still have a decent idea of what Aikido is. I hope that if any of you have occasion to do one of these shows, you will begin to appreciate some of the challenges and points that you always must keep in mind. . . . . I am really grateful to many of you for your support, understanding and foregiveness in my efforts. Some of your harsh criticisms of me personally are probably well justified here in this website, but I worry very much how such criticisms will negatively effect the morale and attitude of my students who are totally innocent but did work very hard to help me in these projects. I am not a movie actor, by no means, I still am an Aikido teacher and my main concern is the practice of my students and I would hate to see anything like these criticisms here jeopardize their training or make them discouraged with their practice. Although it is a wonderful thing to be able to express your opinions and ideas so openly and honestly here. My main and singular duty and love is to my students. Many, many thanks again.
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Old 09-11-2003, 11:08 AM   #53
Talon
 
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Dojo: Aikido Zenshin Dojo
Location: Edmonton
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Sensei Furuya

I ususally keep quiet on these boards as I am of the belief that if you listen you will learn and absorb while when your talking youre not listening.

I must say that I have seen one of these Martial Arts documentaries. I believe it was the "Top 10 Martial Arts" on TLC where your dojo was featured. I really thought you portrayed and displayed Aikido in a most admirable fashion. It certainly looked different and most humane of all of the other martial arts that were featured.

I never really payed attention to your personal appearance, yet I can say that I did pay attention to your beautiful Dojo and discipline and respect of your students. I'd love to visit your dojo and train with you if I'm ever in the area, even though I don't think that wil be happening anytime soon. In any event, I believe you and your students did a very good job at representing Aikido even though the producers of the show may have gotten a few things mixed up.
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Old 09-11-2003, 11:28 AM   #54
Bronson
 
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Dojo: Seiwa Dojo and Southside Dojo
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Quote:
Kensho Furuya wrote:
I am really grateful to many of you for your support, understanding and foregiveness in my efforts.
With all due respect I think you have it backwards. It's the aikido community who should be grateful to you and your students for the time and effort you put in showing aikido to those people who may have missed it.

That said I'm going to use this opportunity to offer one small piece of constructive (I hope) criticism that I heard more than one person voice. A few of the aikido practitioners I know who watched this felt the piece could have been about iaido. I have just started practicing iaido and love it but I would tend to agree with these people. I'm willing to bet that while iai practice may be an integrated part of training in many aikido dojo that it is not in the majority of them. If you are trying to give newcomers a sense of what they may find if they seek out aikido it may serve them better to focus on aikido.

That's just my opinion. You're still the person taking the time to actually help spread the art. If you want to do it differently I'm really in no position to tell you otherwise

Thank you for your time, efforts and understanding.

Respectfully,

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 09-11-2003, 12:53 PM   #55
Kensho Furuya
Dojo: Aikido Center of Los Angeles
Location: Los Angeles
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Many thanks, I really appreciate your generous thoughts. My students do a lot because these tapings usually take a good 4-5 hours and often longer (a whole day and sometimes two or three) and a few of my assistants have to take a day-off from work just to participate. It is really a great sacrifice for them to lose a day's pay, they have my sincere gratitude.

The film crew, of course, have no idea of the importance of the tatami mats for our training, so we have to be constantly aware and very careful that our mats are not damaged in any way by the equipment and by so many people trampling around all over the place. This gets to be a lot of tiring work after several hours for my students to monitor. For the film crew, it is just a "floor" so what is the big deal? This is how non-practitioners usually think.

Of course, within this taping time, we cover a great deal of territory, such as the warm-up exercises, ukemi, breathing exercises, the full range of Aikido techniques and we usually include Aiki-ken, Kumitachi, Jo and a great deal of Iaido because we have a very good group of Iaido students here. In a long, arduous two-hour interview, I cover a great many areas of Aikido and I prefer to especially emphasize the philosophy of O'Sensei and Aikido as a non-violent, non-competitive art. It is difficult to encourage them to understand that Aikido is not, like many other disciplines, a sport or simply another combative fighting system. Of course, from the look and atmosphere of the dojo itself, they begin to feel that Aikido is something more traditional and something much more profound than what they are accustomed to seeing. The beauty of the dojo helps to convey the spirit of Aikido as a more refined art, I am happy to say, and I use it as a good lead in here.

I wish they would have included more of the information I gave about O'Sensei and Aikido as a great martial art. I would have liked them to include more Iaido as well, but we have no control over this.

As an example, you might be unaware of this but the interviewer in the final product you see aired on tv or cable is not the person who interviews me. There is first a writer or researcher with his ideas, then there is an interviewer who talks to me and he has his own ideas, slant and impressions and than all of this goes to the editor who cuts out and leaves in whatever he chooses to make the show. They get another interviewer (the voice), sometimes a celebrity or someone I have never met, to talk and ask the questions according to what the editor has provided as a rough draft of what will be shown. Then, my answers and responses are added in last to coordinate with the final questions posed. Many times, what I say, has really nothing to do with what is asked on the show. These shows go through some many different hands and numerous editings so what is taped originally is often completely lost.

In other words, I am talking to a totally different person and whatever I say is taped and later edited in to match the final questions and dialogue and made to fit what they finally decide as the end product. This is why occasionally my responses do not seem to really match what is being said or asked. By clever editing, they can give your words any slant they choose. For someone who has never seen Aikido before or to someone who is not familiar with how these shows are made, never realize that the final product is, by far, very different from what was actually said and done. For me, personally, I often do not even want to see the final product because I know it is not even "me!"

I don't want to criticize these programs too harshly because they do serve a very useful and welcome purpose to help get Aikido out into the public - we rarely have this kind of opportnity - we do not share the same "type" of popularity as Tae Kwan Do, combat or contact fighting, wrestling or Ninjutsu or Kung Fu which we see very often in the mass media. Their original intention, of course, as they say, is to show a more "true" or "realistic" depiction of what the martial arts are. However, the final product is always decided with the intent to make money and show a profit - they are a business as they tell me and they need to sell their product. These stations often do not make all of the programs they show themselves. There are many small production companies to create these programs in a format which they hope these stations will buy up. Ultimately, the fact that the program airs means that it was successfully sold to the station programing director. This is generally how it all works. I should also like to say that when these film crews leave the dojo, they are always so complimentary of Aikido and tell me how impressed they are with the art. They are very, very nice people and they are all just doing their jobs as best they can. Many thanks again,
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Old 09-11-2003, 01:02 PM   #56
Kensho Furuya
Dojo: Aikido Center of Los Angeles
Location: Los Angeles
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Btw, I forgot to address your comment about Iaido. I teach and practice Iaido as a separate art from Aikido. I never mix them up although I have many students who study both arts. In my dojo, Iaido practice are separate classes and a separate organization from Aikido. In these shows, they somehow both get smudged together.
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Old 09-12-2003, 07:46 PM   #57
SeiserL
 
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Dojo: Roswell Budokan, Kyushinkan Dojo, Aikido World Alliance
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Sensei Furuya, IMHO you have nothing to explain, justify, or apologize for. You had an opportunity to expose many people to the art and you did an excellent job.

There will always be sceptics and critics, even here.

Aikido can only be expereinced, never explained. It is not a spectator sport. Neither is life.

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 09-12-2003, 07:52 PM   #58
Bogeyman
Dojo: UW-La Crosse Aikido
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Lynn,

That is very well put and I agree wholeheartedly. We can never make everyone happy, just do the best we can.

E
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Old 09-13-2003, 01:18 PM   #59
norman telford
 
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sensei furuya i would just like to say i enjoyed the tv program any exposure aikido has on tv has to be good even if the the program makers get it mixed up
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