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Old 11-03-2003, 12:17 PM   #1
Chris Birke
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New Tradition

I know it is arrogant to say some of what I will say, but I feel I am in part speaking for a coalition. Please, even if you have heard it before, listen to what I have to say - I hope in the end to raise some new questions.

I am proud of Aikido, but sometimes I am embarrassed by it's practices.

I think it is an unrealized aspect of Aikido that holding firm to
anachronistic techniques and not embracing new things is an offense to
the spirit of Aikido.

People say, "what happens if a boxer attacks an Aikidoka?" Why must we
guess at the answer! Why have we not set up hundreds of training
sessions between boxers and Aikidoka in order to improve Aikido?

Why do these questions keep coming up? Because they are not adequately addressed. They are dodged, put off, distanced (ahem, "ma'ai"ed), but the fight is not over. Aikido is not about running away from conflict, it is about nullifying it. This is why we train on tatami, not tracks.


What happens when a boxer attacks a BJJ guy? They clench, go the the
ground, and then the boxer gets submitted. That is the answer! It is a
general question answered by hundreds of iterations in practice and
reality.

Where are these iterations of Aikido? You say it is not the way to be
competitive - this "fight" cannot happen or you abandon Aikido. That
is a foolish misunderstanding of the truth. In order to pacify
violence, you must understand it; study it. This "match" is
cooperation, not a fight. It is a solid means to discovering what
works and what doesn't! It is not the competition you seek
to avoid. Do not let this fore mentioned aversion shield your
insecurity.

Why is there no focus on ground technique? Brazilian Juijitsu has
shown how easy it is to enter a clench and then go to the ground, even
with a larger opponent, then hold them there with very little damage
to either of you. It seems like a perfect technique for present day
Aikido. What more quiet means of physical negation is there besides a choke?

Where are more live training methods? Have these not shown to be more
useful in stressed and resisting applications than countless
premeditated repetitions of faux resistance?

Why is Aikido not exploring every aspect of confrontation. Where is
the research into psychology that might allow you to understand an
aggressor? Where is the study of body language? Criminology,
sociology?

Too many times on this forum I have witnessed utter ignorance of the reality of combat. Bantering of Aikidoka who know only of speculation and old wives tales about how fights actually occur. "When he shoots, step off the line and preform irimi nage, else kick him in the knee or elbow him in the head! No problem!" This ignorance comes from lack of training expirence! Yet these same inexpirienced Aikidoka may have been training for years! This is not the way it should be!

I belive too many have been following a well laid path of Sensei's
footsteps with their eyes to the ground. They study the footprints he
left with such intensity that they do not look to see the way of the path.
Where are they going when those footprints run out. It frightens me to know that so
many people train this blindness.

If, as I do, you believe that the core principles of Aikido stand, do
not be afraid to bolster them with techniques beyond the cannon. It is
arrogance to assume that mastery of wrist locks will save you in any
situation just as it is arrogance to assume you are ever safe. Open
your path and expand the breadth of your knowledge. Learn to grapple,
learn to take down, learn to sprawl, learn to strike, learn about fire
arms, learn about psychology! Breathe!

It should never again be Aikido vs MMA, but instead Aikido AND MMA.

I'm sure you all must agree with parts of this, to some extent... So (with so much like thought) what is being done? Who is out there training this new spirit of old Aikido. What ideas do you have for refinement of this? And... Of course... What things are wrong with thinking this way?

//

If you really want to disagree with me, but don't know where to start, please consider the relationship between these principles: repeitition, nothingness, zen, enlightment, sweeping, blank gaze

//

This rant has a neat bit of a pedigree, but I'll spare you. Sorry to
troll, but know that I do it FOR Aikido, not as an enemy of it. Besides, wIf
you've nothing intelligent to say in response, please keep your wits
about you.
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Old 11-03-2003, 12:48 PM   #2
John Boswell
 
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What you seem to be looking for or expecting of Aikido... is simply not Aikido.

What part of "Way of Harmony" do you not understand?

Many times on this site, and others, questions are put forth asking "what happens when an Aikidoka is confronted with (*insert random other MA here*)?" Ah... but then you go on to point out the ignorance of posters and how they don't know what Aikido is!

So... why are you hung up on questions put forward by ignorant non-practioners of Aikido? Who are you to be such an authority and challenge everyone here on Aiki Web and tell them/us that we are too focused on the footsteps and not on the destination???

I'm sorry. I'm honestly not trying to belittle you or put your thoughts down. But I believe you honestly have a limited grasp on what Aikido truly is and what purpose it serves.

Now... there are those out there that cover all and every aspect of martial arts. Perhaps you'd be more interested in studying under their tutilage? Go to http://www.winjutsu.com/source/hatsumi.html and read up on Soke Masaaki Hatsumi. Read the Warrior's Creed and research more about what various other MA's teach and say.

You said,
Quote:
Why is Aikido not exploring every aspect of confrontation. Where is the research into psychology that might allow you to understand anaggressor? Where is the study of body language? Criminology, sociology?
Who says Aikido doesn't teach these things?

You challenge students of Aikido as being narrow-minded and not looking at enough avenues of offense/defense. I challenge you to take a closer/deeper/better look at Aikido.

2 cents

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Old 11-03-2003, 12:56 PM   #3
twilliams423
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[quote]If you really want to disagree with me, but don't know where to start, please consider the relationship between these principles: repeitition, nothingness, zen, enlightment, sweeping, blank gaze [UNQUOTE]

'fraid you lost me here
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Old 11-03-2003, 12:59 PM   #4
Chris Birke
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Firstly, this is investigation of Aikido.

If I am not qualified to do it, then who? I answer both by saying we.

To me, Aikido is the way of harmony of spirit and harmony of physicality, with emphasis on revisioning the nature of conflict. Is this wrong?

I believe the spirtual side is very complete, but the method of acheiving and implementing it has room for improvement. I am exploring whether it may be acheived.

I am well aware of ninjitsu, jeet kune do concepts, the tao, cha'an buddhisim (bodhi dharma and kung fu), progressive martial arts, and tradidition. I study them all.

None has quite the same mix of physical and spirtual direction towards harmony that aikido has, however these arts are all completely with their merits. I believe it would be valuable for a synthesis to occur. To shout down anyone who suggests it as ignorant is counter productive. What must be revisioned is that which is static. Defending the establishment ultimately harms it by freezing it as everything around it changes.

I do not proport to be absolute and right, but I do believe I may have understanding beyond what you credit me. What do you think of the idea of a synthesis. Why can Aikido not change and still be Aikido?
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Old 11-03-2003, 12:59 PM   #5
John Boswell
 
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PS: On a more personal note, you said the following -
Quote:
What more quiet means of physical negation is there besides a choke?
Quiet? Yes. Harmonic? Hell no, and I'll tell you why. A choke forces one into submission by taking away from the "uke" life giving air. A choke is the very antithesis of Aikido, imho. A choke hold is exactlly what I personally do not want to do. Otherwise, why am I here? I'll go study BJJ or TKD.

Why do I, as an Aikidoka, not punch, kick, choke, stab or shoot my opponent? Because that is NOT what Aikido is about. Aikido is about blending, joining the energy of another and using that to your advantage. There is no intent to harm, injure or kill.

Seriously, I think this is a fundemental issue here. It's as basic as it gets. Sorry, but you asked and I'm answering. Hope you get something out of what I say.

Last edited by John Boswell : 11-03-2003 at 01:01 PM.

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Old 11-03-2003, 01:06 PM   #6
Chris Birke
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John, many of the Aikido techniques can be very dangerous, either to limb or life. What I meant by a choke being harmless is that it can be implemented to a point of completeion without causing any long term physical damage. I have been choked unconscious numerous times and don't feel any worse for wear (although you may disagree ;D). A blood choke can actually be a rather invisible sensation, and very quick. I've woken up to the realisation I was choked having never seen it coming. I was far more afraid of chokes until I became expirenced in both sides of them.

The psychological impact is there, but it is there for any technique that threatens harm. In a social fashion, it is different, but not entirely.

As for not punching and striking, what do you do? I would assume there is some physical manipulation, or are you simply entirely avoidant. Ie, do you run track? If not, perhaps we have a middle ground?
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Old 11-03-2003, 01:11 PM   #7
Chris Birke
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In an aside, why learn all these horrible conflict oriented things, such as kicking, punching, shooting, wrestling? To understand their energy such that we may avoid it.

If you have no expirence with them, how do you incorporate their existence into your Aikido. Purely through application of theory? Why not practice?

This is just one aspect of what I mean.
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Old 11-03-2003, 01:12 PM   #8
Nick P.
 
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To be blunt,

If you want those (many, many) points addressed by your Aikido teacher, then keep looking until you find her/him. I have always maintained that many teacher/student "problems" are due to a poor match. That is to say, some students learn better from particular teachers, and some teachers can't teach certain students. Are they bad teachers? All of them can't be. Are they bad students? Same thing. Why do some students progress in leaps and bounds yet others struggle all with the same teacher?

And then, when you find the "perfect" teacher, you might start to realize that the real learning comes from within.

After all, if you believe without a doubt that (your) Aikido can\must be all the things you mentionned, who cares what anyone else thinks?

I have a hard enough time changing and controlling my own Aikido; how on Earth can I really expect to change someone else's?

Good luck, though.

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Old 11-03-2003, 01:18 PM   #9
Victor Ditoro
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Chris,

I'm curious about something. Lets say, for the sake of argument, that you knew 100% for sure that your Aikido training would not make you a good fighter...would you still train?

Edit::had wrong name at start :P
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Old 11-03-2003, 01:23 PM   #10
Chris Birke
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Of course, the idea is not to be a good fighter. The idea is to acheive harmony in the face of conflict.

Why does Aikido relate to fights at all? Because fights relate to peace.

This is part of the perplexity. Those are such large issues. Why is most training so focused on a small spectrum of the fight, when something that encompasses the fight, and more, is whats important. I'm glad you ask the question.
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Old 11-03-2003, 01:50 PM   #11
Victor Ditoro
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I can't claim to be an Aikido expert by any means, but I think you would find "Aikido Shugyo" by Gozo Shioda to be an interesting read. In his life, Shioda has definitely used his Aikido in martial situations during wartime. His anecdotes in the book paint a vivid picture of the early pre-war days of Aikido, and of the realities of needing to have a working art when your life is on the line.

He also addresses, more briefly, issues related to training...he points out that we train from grabs but that doesn't mean someone is likely to grab you...we train from slower strikes with full commitment, but it doesn't mean someone is likely to do that. The *point* of training that way is not what it appears to be, the point is to grasp the deeper fundamental meaning, the 'riai'. To understand the ways in which your movment unbalances and affects uke. Once you have grasped that, all attacks are the same. A kick is no different from a tackle or from a punch. At least in Shioda's mind, the purpose of basic technique is to help a person discover these principles that can't be taught directly. It has been said elsewhere, (perhaps a quote of O Sensei, but I can't be sure), that Aikido has only one technique. Once you learn to read, blend, and join with energy and move in a "natural" way, all attacks are the same.

Interestingly, Shioda recounts how O Sensei was able to throw even the fastest jabbing boxers by intercepting the strike at the exact moment of maximum extension.
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Old 11-03-2003, 02:34 PM   #12
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Aikido is a philosophy, a way of life, a training methodology, i suppose to some it is a fighting system.

However, "aikido" has never fought "boxing" both are concepts with different rules, paradigms and ideals.

Now aikidoka have fought boxers, but those are people and not an art. How they do against each other depends on many factors, not one of which you could empirical judge with scientific evidence to either prove or disprove the merits of one art or the other.

To think that you can is simply to miss the point of martial study and frankly is somewhat immature in thought.

I think you would find most true aikidoka somewhat embarrassed to say that they go around trying to have the chip knocked off their shoulder by other arts. Really what is the point?

If it is combat effectiveness you are looking for...i suggest you study many arts and pick those things that seem to give you peace of mind. That and hope that you don't get ambushed in an alley one day when you are not looking!! It is impossibly to be prepared for every possibly senario that might come your way.

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Old 11-03-2003, 02:35 PM   #13
jxa127
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Chris,

Dude, do what you wanna do.

It's your body and your journey. Go to it and let us know how you're doing.

Don't get too worked up over what other people think; whether or not their view of "the way things should be" matches yours.

I hope we get to meet and train together. But until then, my concept of aikido really shouldn't matter to you, and visa-versa.

Relax and go train.

Regards,

-Drew

----
-Drew Ames
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Old 11-03-2003, 02:47 PM   #14
Ted Marr
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I must admit, I have some mixed feelings on the topic of this post.

On one hand, I know that advanced students (which is to say people who have been studying for over a decade) of Aikido are capable of dealing with basically any sort of attack, just based on their knowledge of the principles. I've seen it done.

On the other hand, I have this odd hankering deep in the dark recesses of my mind to be training "harder" in some sense, by learning to deal with all sorts of vicious attacks in a number of (potentially) equally vicious ways.

If I'm reading your posts right, Chris, you have a similar sort of duality going on in your head.

I have, for now at least, come to a compromise with myself, one which I hope might help other people. It is called cross-training. Stay in Aikido, but take a couple of classes a week elsewhere and learn some of what they have to teach. I'm guessing that doing this has impeded my progress in Aikido, and I'm certainly sacrificing depth for diversity of experience. But I feel good about it, and more and more, I am coming to appreciate that IN THE LONG RUN it might not be neccessary.

As I see it, asking aikido teachers to diversify their teachings is in some sense trying to (forcibly?) encourage your fellow students to make the same choice I have.

Think of it this way, if you will; if we keep our individual arts "pure" and separate from one another, then everyone is free to sample as much or as little from each as they care to as they construct their own learning. But as we start to mix them up a bit, we actually reduce the amount of variation we have available to draw from as esoteric techniques get left by the wayside.

That, or I might just be totally wrong. I won't know for another decade or two.
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Old 11-03-2003, 03:07 PM   #15
Esteban Martinez
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There is nothing wrong with learning all those things that you want to learn. But I think you should set a margin of what is Aikido and what is not. All those new traditions that you'd like to incorporate in Aikido are already implemented in Tactical Applications Training (special training for street defense and police officers). Most of this porgrams are Aikido based, but Aikido is not based on this programs.

Train in everything you want and learn anything you want but don't polute any art with things from other art. That's why we are all different because we do different things.

Cheers
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Old 11-03-2003, 03:27 PM   #16
mj
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Confucius only ever said 2 things.

'The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.'

'It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.'

'Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.'

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Old 11-03-2003, 03:50 PM   #17
Anders Bjonback
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I don't think that training thousands of spiritual Terminators was what O Sensei had in mind.

On a more serious note, you seem to think that aikido isn't complete in what it already is. I couldn't disagree more.

"For peace and happiness are presences, not objects we can grasp and hold onto."
--Lilian Smith
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Old 11-03-2003, 03:50 PM   #18
Chris Birke
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All your replies are very helpful, and have helped me to advance my thoughts.

It seems as though Aikido techniques are trained for a variety of reasons all aimed at improving oneself. There are a few different aspects I have identified (they are unified, of course, but for discussions sake let me break them down).

1. Train the body as a means of releasing the mind. To me, the repetition and focus is very much Zen, and this is a valuable aspect.

2. Training martial aspects for their social effect. Ie, being able to defuse an attack as a means of raising harmony. (Here, it is important that the technique be effective.)

3. Training physical aspects for their physical effect, ie, protection of ones physical person such that you are safe and whole. Beyond dealing with attackers, this includes stregnthening the body and will, and teaching the body to move safely in any situation (ie, a fall).

Why are martial aspects trained? If the theory is harmony and nonviolence, why not simply avoid all confrontation - pretend it does not exist - do no technique but dance.

There must be a reason?

I believe that the reasoning behind all this training is part of what defines Aikido, and differentiates it from other martial arts. I, however, am still left wondering "why these techniques?" Are they the most effective spirtually? Martially? Physically?

I believe that when the art was developed, it was, but only for the people of the place, at that time. I am not sure if our condition has not changed, and whether I can be made better to train Aikido differently.

The reason I persist in Aikido should be clear, it is the philosophy I seek, however I wish to enhance my seeking with others of the same mind set.

I have been cross training many different martial arts, but I still feel somewhat alone in this realization about the philosophy. In many ways I have found similarity, but nothing of an exact identity.

I have some loyalty, perhaps too, to Aikido, and thus wish to extend my thoughts here.

Apologies are in order perhaps for the aggressiveness of the origional post, but in a way I feel it was needed in order to properly stir things up.

Your thoughts?

Last edited by Chris Birke : 11-03-2003 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 11-03-2003, 03:53 PM   #19
Chris Birke
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Esteban,

how can Aikido become "polluted?"

What is and is not Aikido? Is Aikido a philosophy, or a technique, or a specific mix of both? Is it something else entirely to you?
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Old 11-03-2003, 04:42 PM   #20
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Chris

I certainly understand your frustrations and pretty much agree with your points. One of the problems with Aikido is it is still suffering from a cult of personality. People don't so much ask the question "does this fit with the principles of aikido" (as pretty much all the techniques of BJJ do) as "did O'Sensei do this"

The result is we are practicing an art which has been frozen in time, fossilized almost. Yes Aikido has a philosophical underpinning, and nothing should be added to it which does not match that underpinning. But when there are techniques out there that:

a) match philisophically

b) are effective

c) do not interfere, and in fact flow naturally from aikido technique

and d) solve a martial problem that is not solved in recognised aikido technique

there doesn't seem to be any good reason to exclude them from the art other than "O'sensei didn't use them".

I think we'll see a slow change over the next 10-20 years. I'm running into more and more aikidoka who cross train, particularly with other grappling arts. The organisations however are still run by traditionalists, so you get people playing with stuff after class, or showing how you can transition into groundwork with the caveat "don't do this in a grading in front of sensei". But as time goes by I think we'll see those cross trainers start their own organisations or become more senior in their existing ones. We'll probably end up with two types of aikido, tradtional and modern (or dare I say it, Aikido and Aikido concepts)

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 11-03-2003, 07:54 PM   #21
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Quote:
John Boswell wrote:
What you seem to be looking for or expecting of Aikido... is simply not Aikido.

What part of "Way of Harmony" do you not understand?

Many times on this site, and others, questions are put forth asking "what happens when an Aikidoka is confronted with (*insert random other MA here*)?" Ah... but then you go on to point out the ignorance of posters and how they don't know what Aikido is!

So... why are you hung up on questions put forward by ignorant non-practioners of Aikido? Who are you to be such an authority and challenge everyone here on Aiki Web and tell them/us that we are too focused on the footsteps and not on the destination???

I'm sorry. I'm honestly not trying to belittle you or put your thoughts down. But I believe you honestly have a limited grasp on what Aikido truly is and what purpose it serves.
I'm not sure where to start with this response. What did Chris say that indicated to you he has a limited grasp on Aikido? That he wonders why we don't test it out against other sytlists? Because Ueshiba never did that right. The point I think is that he isn't getting hung up on questions put forward by non practioners of Aikido. Increasingly these questions are being asked from the inside.

What I suspect riles Chris (because it riles me) is that when the questions come (often from beginngers) the answers they recieve are nonesense (eg how to defend against a shoot). Why are they nonesense? Because we don't train with other arts. Because we come up with theories on how aikido can be used to solve a problem but don't test the theory so in many cases it is flawed.

Aikido is a Martial Art. It promotes itself as such and has the structure and expectations of a Martial Art. Yes there are other reasons people practice but I'm a firm believer that the other benefits are most pronounced when the practice is martial. Otherwise why aren't we doing Ikebana. What is it about continuing it's evolution as a martial art that necessarily conflicts with it's philosophical underpinnings as a way of harmony? We constantly hear people talk about conflict resolution outside of the mat, at work, whereever as being "aikido". If Aikido principles can make non physical interactions a manifestation of the art, why cannot other techniques equally be a manifestation of the art by virtue or utilising those same principles?

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 11-03-2003, 08:19 PM   #22
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Chris:

Perhaps you are looking in the wrong places. Maybe aikido techniques or the potential for exist in the other arts responses to various attacks, i.e., BJJ vs. boxer. Perhaps the answer might be in looking at the other arts responses (ground work) etc. and see what can be done using aikido principles.

Just my humble thoughts.
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Old 11-03-2003, 08:39 PM   #23
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Hi John

I know you were responding to Chris but I have a couple of thoughts about your answer.

1) If the response from other arts are effective and can be characterises as aiki, is there any reason why they should not be incorporated into Aikido training?

2) Ask how to deal with a boxer in Aikido class (or on an aikido board) and you'll get a range of answers. Doesn't it make sense to test if those answers work?

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 11-03-2003, 09:25 PM   #24
Nafis Zahir
 
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Chris, I'll try to make this simple. BJJ artist do well against boxers because they do BJJ and nothing else. I've seen them take on lots of styles and everytime, they just do what they do. I answered this question on the other post. Don't try to figure out how to deal with a boxer or any other style. Just do pure Aikido. Now when it comes to your own personal self defense on the street, you can always learn another stlye, mix it with aikido, but having studied kung fu for 7 years prior to aikido, I can tell you that it's not necessary. The only thing I see missing in aikido is good, strong, honest attacks. How long have you studied aikido? I've been doing akido for 8 years and I am just starting to understand CLEARLY some of the basics I learned to get to shodan. I am just now seeing things I never saw before. Thru training and not always thru explanation, I'm starting to realize how certain apllications work and how to adjust them according to the attack, strenght of the attacker and so forth. Keep training and all you questions will be answered!

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Old 11-03-2003, 10:30 PM   #25
John Boswell
 
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Quote:
Home > General > The Founder's Teachings

by Morihei Ueshiba

The following are some of the founder's teachings concerning the essence of aikido.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Aikido is a manifestation of a way to reorder the world of humanity as though everyone were of one family. Its purpose is to build a paradise right here on earth.

Aikido is nothing but an expression of the spirit of Love for all living things.

It is important not to be concerned with thoughts of victory and defeat. Rather, you should let the ki of your thoughts and feelings blend with the Universal.

Aikido is not an art to fight with enemies and defeat them. It is a way to lead all human beings to live in harmony with each other as though everyone were one family. The secret of aikido is to make yourself become one with the universe and to go along with its natural movements. One who has attained this secret holds the universe in him/herself and can say, "I am the universe."

If anyone tries to fight me, it means that s/he is going to break harmony with the universe, because I am the universe. At the instant when s/he conceives the desire to fight with me, s/he is defeated.

Nonresistance is one of the principles of aikido. Because there is no resistance, you have won before even starting. People whose minds are evil or who enjoy fighting are defeated without a fight.

The secret of aikido is to cultivate a spirit of loving protection for all things.

I do not think badly of others when they treat me unkindly. Rather, I feel gratitude towards them for giving me the opportunity to train myself to handle adversity.

You should realize what the universe is and what you are yourself. To know yourself is to know the universe.
As I said before, I'll say again: Something very basic is not being realized here.

If we read what O'Sensei has said above, in particular: "Aikido is a manifestation of a way to reorder the world of humanity as though everyone were of one family. Its purpose is to build a paradise right here on earth," then we should see something more clearly.

Aikido has to be done, through training... as it was taught, because it was the method in which the founder saw to make the whole world realize how to bring order and peace here on earth.

If you do not DO Aikido, then you can not learn it. You can not read it. You can not study it from a distance. You can discuss it until you are blue in the face... but you will never fully Understand until you DO it.

Aikido is just that simple. The "do" or part of Aikido is "the Way." It is a doingness. You can't have it or be it... you have to do it. (Anyone else see how ironic it is that the english term "do" and are spelt the same? Funny. )

Anyhow, to the original author of this thread, I wish you well in your journey toward what you seek. I sincerly hope you put more of your heart and time into Aikido, several styles at least, until you feel absolutly sure you have exhausted it in your search for the 'harmony' you seek.

I honestly think Aikido encompasses all that is needed in order to accomplish what any martial art is out to achieve. Anyone that feels short sheeted needs to just keep going, in my humble opinion of course.

Domo arigato!

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