Welcome to AikiWeb Aikido Information
AikiWeb: The Source for Aikido Information
AikiWeb's principal purpose is to serve the Internet community as a repository and dissemination point for aikido information.

Sections
home
aikido articles
columns

Discussions
forums
aikiblogs

Databases
dojo search
seminars
image gallery
supplies
links directory

Reviews
book reviews
video reviews
dvd reviews
equip. reviews

News
submit
archive

Miscellaneous
newsletter
rss feeds
polls
about

Follow us on



Home > AikiWeb Aikido Forums
Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > General

Hello and thank you for visiting AikiWeb, the world's most active online Aikido community! This site is home to over 22,000 aikido practitioners from around the world and covers a wide range of aikido topics including techniques, philosophy, history, humor, beginner issues, the marketplace, and more.

If you wish to join in the discussions or use the other advanced features available, you will need to register first. Registration is absolutely free and takes only a few minutes to complete so sign up today!

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 01-11-2001, 02:24 PM   #1
darin
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 375
Offline
Smile

Aikido has many Japanese customs and traditions such as bowing, use of Japanese language, religion and teacher/ancestor worship. Is it necessary to have these in schools outside of Japan?

After having lived in Japan for a few months, I found it rather interesting watching martial arts classes in my own country. I would see students and teachers going through their various ceremonies. Do they really understand what they are doing? It makes sense for Japanese people to do these things because it is a part of their culture but for people in other countries isn't it rather pointless?

My questions are, should aikido schools ouside of Japan hang on to Japanese traditions? Are these traditions really necessary in our society? If not, can aikido survive purely on technique only? If they are necessary, how do we ensure that they stay true to Japanese traditions? Do Japanese traditions get students side tracked from their actualy goal which is to learn aikido?

  Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2001, 03:48 PM   #2
PRapoza
Dojo: Cape Cod Aikido Kenkyukai 541 Thomas Landers Rd., East Falmouth
Location: Cape Cod, MA
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 30
Offline
Darin,
This is an excellent question and I am eager to hear what others have to say about it. I feel that customs and traditions themselves are empty. It is the feeling or spirit within the rituals that are of value. It is the intangibles in the rituals that give them life. It sounds as though you have experienced some people performing "empty ritual". Performing some custom or tradition just because it's what they think they are supposed to do, yet they put little of themselves into it. There is nothing wrong with customs, traditions or rituals but they only have life when we put ourselves into them. As far as specifics such as bowing. It is a sign of respect. This is necessary in learning aikido. The bowing itself is just an outward signal of this feeling. Somehow a handshake just doesn't seem to fit.
___________
Paul
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2001, 04:00 PM   #3
Russ
Dojo: Pacific Aikido Kensankai
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 32
Offline
I think it is a good idea to hang on to the culturally specific etiquette of bowing and showing respect for your partner. That is self defense. I would agree that is seems pretentious to speak Japanese in a class that has no Japanese speakers in it, however, knowing such basic things as counting (in Japanese)and the Japanese names of techniques is essential if you plan on travelling and visiting other dojo. Religion and ancestor worship really have no place in a western dojo as they can get in the way of training. Although one may argue these things would get in the way of training in a Japanese dojo too, I have no cultural perspective on that so I won't comment.
In your last paragraph you ask questions that seem to separate aikido from Japanese culture/tradition. Are the two seperable? Is aikido just a series of techniques. Most would agree not I think. Aikido is undeniably intertwined with Japanese culture and (spiritual/esoteric?)thought. Before I completely lose my train of thought I'll wrap it up by saying, I remember Mary Heiny Sensei told us at a seminar that aikido is a set of spiritual principles embodied in martial technique. Thought of that way one can perhaps use Japanese tradition/culture to forward that concept.

Hmmmm.....

Sincerely;

Russ
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2001, 07:22 PM   #4
darin
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 375
Offline
Quote:
PRapoza wrote:
Darin,
This is an excellent question and I am eager to hear what others have to say about it. I feel that customs and traditions themselves are empty. It is the feeling or spirit within the rituals that are of value. It is the intangibles in the rituals that give them life. It sounds as though you have experienced some people performing "empty ritual". Performing some custom or tradition just because it's what they think they are supposed to do, yet they put little of themselves into it. There is nothing wrong with customs, traditions or rituals but they only have life when we put ourselves into them. As far as specifics such as bowing. It is a sign of respect. This is necessary in learning aikido. The bowing itself is just an outward signal of this feeling. Somehow a handshake just doesn't seem to fit.
___________
Paul
Thanks Paul,

Yes I have seen many aikido schools where "empty rituals" are performed. In reality I guess all schools have "empty rituals" to some degree. Maybe the degree to how empty these rituals are depends on the persons performing them. Some may find them intriging while others may find them quite boring and aimless.

From a marketing point of view, I think the culture, customs, language etc is what gets people into martial arts. Westerners are crazy about Eastern religions, mysticisms, myths etc. Eg: people going to India to follow some guru.

What do you think about people getting worked up over O Sensei? I feel that western students spend too much time talking about his teachings etc. They refer to him like some kind of god. This is rather funny as in Japan he is just considered as a teacher by Japanese practicioners of aikido. Do you think we in the west are taking things too far and getting too caught up in things we don't really know about?


  Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2001, 07:39 PM   #5
darin
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 375
Offline
Quote:
Russ wrote:
I think it is a good idea to hang on to the culturally specific etiquette of bowing and showing respect for your partner. That is self defense. I would agree that is seems pretentious to speak Japanese in a class that has no Japanese speakers in it, however, knowing such basic things as counting (in Japanese)and the Japanese names of techniques is essential if you plan on travelling and visiting other dojo. Religion and ancestor worship really have no place in a western dojo as they can get in the way of training. Although one may argue these things would get in the way of training in a Japanese dojo too, I have no cultural perspective on that so I won't comment.
In your last paragraph you ask questions that seem to separate aikido from Japanese culture/tradition. Are the two seperable? Is aikido just a series of techniques. Most would agree not I think. Aikido is undeniably intertwined with Japanese culture and (spiritual/esoteric?)thought. Before I completely lose my train of thought I'll wrap it up by saying, I remember Mary Heiny Sensei told us at a seminar that aikido is a set of spiritual principles embodied in martial technique. Thought of that way one can perhaps use Japanese tradition/culture to forward that concept.

Hmmmm.....

Sincerely;

Russ
Thanks Russ,

The reason aikido is "intertwined with Japanese Japanese culture and (spiritual/esoteric?)thought" is because it is Japanese. The customs in aikido can be found in almost every aspect of Japanese life. They were not put there on purpose by Ushiba but rather a product of his environment. They were the customs and tradition of his time.

  Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2001, 09:45 PM   #6
Chocolateuke
Dojo: Muhu Dojo
Location: Middle of nowhere in California 14 miles from Buellton
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 238
Offline
so should we still bow to O-sensi??

Dallas Adolphsen
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2001, 10:12 PM   #7
Axiom
Dojo: TC Aikido Center
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 34
Offline
Do symbol Bows?

I've been thinking about this very subject lately, especially since I've stopped attending Aikido. You see, my dojo is in St. Paul, and I live in Minneapolis. In the summer, I can bicycle there(~4 miles, not too far), but it being winter, the commute by bus is nearly an hour. I also prefer not to wait in the cold.

So, in lieu of Aikido, I've taken up ballet. And I've noticed something- even in ballet, they bow. Its not the formal bow from seiza that we practice in Aikido. But nonetheless, it's a show of respect to the teacher and the other students. Also, since I no longer do Aikido, I somewhat miss the tradition of bowing in and out of class.

In all of this- the transition from one art to the next, and the different traditions has brought to light how much I enjoy the ritual of bowing out. It, like most things in aikido, is very egalitarian. Except for lining up by rank, everyone bows, especially the instructor. The instructor then bows to the class, thanking them, and in exchange they are thanking him. It is at this time that I feel I can really express the respect I have for someone who can instruct such a difficult subject as aikido. Also, there is a lot of bowing that I think is important- bowing when you select a partner(and bowing to them after class), bowing to sensei when they point something out, and bowing in and out of the dojo. All of these express respect and I think that a full bow is one of the best ways to express respect in the dojo. A simple "thank you" doesn't seem sufficiently.

On the language issue, I think that its useful to have a standardized language for an activity. Again, this is a parallel between Aikido and ballet- they both are taught in another language, even when there are no native speakers of teh language. It helps, because it doesn't matter if you're in America, Turkmenikstan(sp?), Belize, Nigeria, if you're at a dojo that teaches in japanese, you'll be able to understand what a "yokomenuchi-iriminage" is. This is very valuable for standardization, and makes Aikido much more international.

I think that both of these things- bowing and language, are an integral part of Aikido, at least for me. I like rolling new words around in my head, and I think that when someone deserves respect, a bow is one of the best ways to express it(I find myself almost bowing to my teachers when they point something out especially interesting in school).

Anyway, my $.02. I woud comment on spirituality, but I don't think I've done aikido long enough to have learned terribly much about that(And my dojo doesn't really emphasize it)
Alexander Magidow
6 month Aikidoka with 2 classes of ballet, and a hard decision to make come summer.

_________
An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind
-- Gandhi
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2001, 10:36 PM   #8
darin
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 375
Offline
Quote:
Chocolateuke wrote:
so should we still bow to O-sensi??
Well, do you worship him? Do you think of him as some kind of deity?

I am just wondering if aikidoka really understand what they are doing and why they are doing it.
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2001, 11:08 PM   #9
darin
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 375
Offline
Re: Bows?

Quote:
Axiom wrote:
I've been thinking about this very subject lately, especially since I've stopped attending Aikido. You see, my dojo is in St. Paul, and I live in Minneapolis. In the summer, I can bicycle there(~4 miles, not too far), but it being winter, the commute by bus is nearly an hour. I also prefer not to wait in the cold.

So, in lieu of Aikido, I've taken up ballet. And I've noticed something- even in ballet, they bow. Its not the formal bow from seiza that we practice in Aikido. But nonetheless, it's a show of respect to the teacher and the other students. Also, since I no longer do Aikido, I somewhat miss the tradition of bowing in and out of class.

In all of this- the transition from one art to the next, and the different traditions has brought to light how much I enjoy the ritual of bowing out. It, like most things in aikido, is very egalitarian. Except for lining up by rank, everyone bows, especially the instructor. The instructor then bows to the class, thanking them, and in exchange they are thanking him. It is at this time that I feel I can really express the respect I have for someone who can instruct such a difficult subject as aikido. Also, there is a lot of bowing that I think is important- bowing when you select a partner(and bowing to them after class), bowing to sensei when they point something out, and bowing in and out of the dojo. All of these express respect and I think that a full bow is one of the best ways to express respect in the dojo. A simple "thank you" doesn't seem sufficiently.

On the language issue, I think that its useful to have a standardized language for an activity. Again, this is a parallel between Aikido and ballet- they both are taught in another language, even when there are no native speakers of teh language. It helps, because it doesn't matter if you're in America, Turkmenikstan(sp?), Belize, Nigeria, if you're at a dojo that teaches in japanese, you'll be able to understand what a "yokomenuchi-iriminage" is. This is very valuable for standardization, and makes Aikido much more international.

I think that both of these things- bowing and language, are an integral part of Aikido, at least for me. I like rolling new words around in my head, and I think that when someone deserves respect, a bow is one of the best ways to express it(I find myself almost bowing to my teachers when they point something out especially interesting in school).

Anyway, my $.02. I woud comment on spirituality, but I don't think I've done aikido long enough to have learned terribly much about that(And my dojo doesn't really emphasize it)
Alexander Magidow
6 month Aikidoka with 2 classes of ballet, and a hard decision to make come summer.
The bowing in aikido and ballet is there because of tradition and culture.
But the same can be said for pomp and ceremony in military, educational institutions and religions. Why? because it teaches people humility, discipline, and respect to others.

I have been doing aikido for almost 10 years. I personally hate it when students bow to me as I don't consider myself better than them. A simple thank you is enough for me. I have never been in it for any butt kissing.

Regarding language, you did make a good point about standardization. But in reality many aikido schools have their own Japanese terms for each techniques. Without understanding Japanese, western students learn the names but don't know what they really mean.



  Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2001, 01:24 AM   #10
Erik
Location: Bay Area
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 1,200
Offline
Think about it another way. Do you bow to your tennis instructor? Did you bow when you went to school? Do you bow when you step on the tennis court? Do you bow to your tennis instructor when he/she makes a suggestion? Sounds ridiculous in that context doesn't it?

But is it any different?

Quote:
My questions are, should aikido schools ouside of Japan hang on to Japanese traditions? Are these traditions really necessary in our society? If not, can aikido survive purely on technique only? If they are necessary, how do we ensure that they stay true to Japanese traditions? Do Japanese traditions get students side tracked from their actualy goal which is to learn aikido
Aikido cannot survive solely on technique in my opinion. However, it can survive with it's spiritual component and the physical component. Aikido movements are not unique. What is unique, is the spiritual aspect combined with the technique. That needs to remain. Since the Japanese have proven themselves every bit as flawed as us degenerates in the West I don't see that part contributing anything special to the process. It can stay or go, doesn't matter to me.
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2001, 08:22 AM   #11
akiy
 
akiy's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 5,835
Offline
Quote:
darin wrote:
Quote:
Chocolateuke wrote:
so should we still bow to O-sensi??
Well, do you worship him? Do you think of him as some kind of deity?

I am just wondering if aikidoka really understand what they are doing and why they are doing it.
Inasmuch as I've understood it, bowing is not religious in nature. Its origin for the Japanese culture stems from budo and the inherent trust one would give in symbolically offering one's head and neck to the other party.

My feeling is that just because you're bowing towards someone doesn't mean you're worshipping nor deifying him or her...

-- Jun

Please help support AikiWeb -- become an AikiWeb Contributing Member!
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2001, 08:43 AM   #12
darin
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 375
Offline
Quote:
Erik wrote:
Think about it another way. Do you bow to your tennis instructor? Did you bow when you went to school? Do you bow when you step on the tennis court? Do you bow to your tennis instructor when he/she makes a suggestion? Sounds ridiculous in that context doesn't it?

But is it any different?

Quote:
My questions are, should aikido schools ouside of Japan hang on to Japanese traditions? Are these traditions really necessary in our society? If not, can aikido survive purely on technique only? If they are necessary, how do we ensure that they stay true to Japanese traditions? Do Japanese traditions get students side tracked from their actualy goal which is to learn aikido
Aikido cannot survive solely on technique in my opinion. However, it can survive with it's spiritual component and the physical component. Aikido movements are not unique. What is unique, is the spiritual aspect combined with the technique. That needs to remain. Since the Japanese have proven themselves every bit as flawed as us degenerates in the West I don't see that part contributing anything special to the process. It can stay or go, doesn't matter to me.
Is aikido spiritual? In what ways is it spiritual? Does your spiritualism refer to the good feelings you get out of practice and interacting with others? These feelings can also be found in sports and other social activities.

Is it possible to define spiritualism in aikido? Japanese spiritualism is not really spiritualism but rather creating a certain type of mental state that is supposed to make one a better person. There is a big difference between "zanshin" and "having a good time".

By the way, aikido movements are unique with or without spiritualism.
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2001, 09:20 AM   #13
Aikidoka2000
Dojo: SEIDOKAN
Location: Los Angeles
Join Date: Nov 2000
Posts: 59
Offline
Aikido is an art developed in Japan by a Japanese person.
If we honor the art itself, so should we honor the traditions and values that it
encompasses.
On why we bow:
Bowing is the expression not only of respect, but teaches us to acknowledge one
another with compassion.
When you learn something that brings value to your life, or if someone has
facilitated your learning by assisting you in practice, certainly the correct thing to
do is to appreciate such a precious gift. We show our appreciation by bowing,
which clearly on many levels is the physical manifestation of appreciation,
humility, and as such respect.
Perhaps needless to say, a bow done without the thought or intent behind
it adds nothing. and is nothing other than the action itself.
Traditional and contemporary Japanese society is filled with other such complex
actions that are also set to express similar issues.
However, the tradition of bowing is not uniquely Japanese. There is without a
doubt, an existence of bowing to show appreciation or respect at one time or
another in almost every culture that has existed.

**The following is From Sensei Fred Philips**
http://omlc.ogi.edu/aikido/talk/phillips/etiquette.html
Any instructor will tell you that the martial arts begin and end with courtesy. Why is this?
One reason for rules of etiquette is that aikido has no rules! Its techniques are based on fundamental principles. But in action, the principles are
combined without pattern, premeditation, or rules. This requires great concentration! Behavior not directly related to waza (like how we enter the
mat, or ask the instructor for help) is standardized so that our fellow students are not distracted from what is really important in the training.

A greater reason is that courtesy is the outward form of respect, and we hope to develop respect for our partners in practice. When we respect
someone, we pay attention to his needs and wants, so that we can harmonize with them. Have you heard the phrase "to know her is to love her"?
By paying attention and knowing our partner, we learn compassion - and, if we are lucky, the universal love that is at the heart of aikido. We can't
see or enforce respect and love, but we can and do enforce courtesy in the dojo. Fred Phillips, dojocho

-When two blades cross points,
There's no need to withdraw.
The master swordsman
Is like the lotus blooming in the fire.
Such a person has inside of them
A heaven soaring spirit.
- Tozan Ryokan
4th verse on the 5 ranks
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2001, 09:29 AM   #14
darin
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 375
Offline
Quote:
akiy wrote:
Quote:
darin wrote:
Quote:
Chocolateuke wrote:
so should we still bow to O-sensi??
Well, do you worship him? Do you think of him as some kind of deity?

I am just wondering if aikidoka really understand what they are doing and why they are doing it.
Inasmuch as I've understood it, bowing is not religious in nature. Its origin for the Japanese culture stems from budo and the inherent trust one would give in symbolically offering one's head and neck to the other party.

My feeling is that just because you're bowing towards someone doesn't mean you're worshipping nor deifying him or her...

-- Jun
I am not sure if bowing stems from budo but I will try to find out. I always believed that bowing is an emphasized lowering of the eyes as a symbol of respect meaning that I am not worthy or afraid of looking at you. Its probably the oldest gesture around. I asume that Japanese didn't invent it for their culture but was just something that came along with Chinese and Korean influences.

Yes bowing to a person doesn't have to mean an act of worship. In Japanese culture its a natural way of showing respect. But in Japanese culture, the bowing to kamiza, pictures of the dead, shrines, temples etc is a form of worship. My question is, is it necessary in aikido? I think most people do it because everyone else is doing it.

  Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2001, 10:05 AM   #15
Matt Banks
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 91
Offline
Aikido is not a religion

I would like to say Aikido is not a religion in any way. So what you said was incorrect. Osensei himself said in his autobiography 'abundant peace' , that Aikido is not a religion what is more, he specifically intended for there to be no conflict between aikido and any other religions.

this fact I thought was well known.





Matt Banks

''Zanshin be aware hold fast your centre''
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2001, 10:12 AM   #16
Syniq
Dojo: N/A
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Join Date: Jan 2001
Posts: 6
Offline
My $0.02 (I don't know the exchange rate)...

We're discussing here two things--the use of Japanese tradition and language in Aikido classes outside of Japan and spirituality in Aikido classes.

I'll take the second part first. It seems to me that spirituality in Aikido is no different from spirituality in any other activity--be it Christmas, church, meditation or even dinner. One cannot (as in, "It is impossible to") force spirituality on another. Isn't that what Charlie Brown learned about Christmas? Yes, it's commercialized, but yelling about commercialization will not make the holiday more spiritual for others--or even yourself. Spirituality is something (I believe) that grows from the activity. Two people may drink the same cup of tea, but it could mean something entirely different to each. Two people may take the same Aikido class, but come away with seperate ideas. All a teacher can ever do is offer the information; it is the student's choice to assimilate the information into themselves and their world view.

Consider, for instance, the drilling of Bible verses praticed by some religions. Does memorizing passages, or even the whole Bible, teach one to be more religious? I wouldn't think so. It teaches one the verses of the Bible. It is hoped that this memorization will lead to contemplation and a deeper understanding, but the teacher has no control of this. It is up to the student to contemplate. Whether or not this contemplation and consideration leads to anything is an entirely personal experience.

There are certain ideas, tied to spirituality, that are inseperable from technique. As Aikido does not comprise an array of striking moves, it will, first, teach the student to deal with conflict in a less forceful manner (not to say that one cannot be forceful in Aikido; simply that it is less likely than, say, Muay Thai). Second, I think that the majority of moves are based on an initial attack by an opponent. As such, it teaches the Aikidoka to wait for "them" to make the first move. These facets, while not themselves spiritual, tend to conform to what many Westerners consider a "religious" or "spiritual" path: turn the other cheek, meekness and compassion.

However, the firm conviction that "Ki" is an ether-like material, surrounding and permeating all substances, is not necessary to make the moves "work" (See "Tekken: The Movie"--an instance (granted, an animated one) in which one must believe in "Tekken" to make the moves "work"...anyway...). If one adopts this view (that of Ki surrounding us) things may be easier, or the ideas may make more sense, but it is not absolutely necessary in the way that ukemi is. Is this making sense so far? Hang in there...

Okay...now--language and tradition. As others have said, the language that describes Aikido is Japanese, because the man who created Aikido was Japanese. As such, there are certain words that are necessary, from a purely linguistic stance, as they describe things for which no suitable substitute exists in English. "Morote dori" sounds a lot better--and is a more efficient name--than the English equivelent : Two hands grabbing one hand/wrist. As such, it makes sense to use the Japanese words describing techniques. Counting in Japanese, however, strikes me as a little silly, particularly if no one in class speaks Japanese.

To say that it is "tradition" that it be done a certain way brings two things to mind: 1) This article, and Linux. No, I have not just gone off my rocker. Consider, however, the state of the (geek)world if Linux, created by Linus Torvalds, were only described in his native language (Finnish?). Eek. Or if physics were largely described in German.

Now, certain arts carry over words from other languages, for the reasons I described above--they give us a term for a behavior that does not yet exist in English. There are many unique cooking terms in French; many of the terms for Flemenco guitar are in Spanish; many writing terms are in French and German. But again, only because they serve a purpose.

Whew!

I don't think that bowing to a picture of O Sensei makes any more sense (or shows any more respect) than bowing to a picture of Charles Babbage when we use an ATM, or to a picture of Einstein when we use our microwave ovens. There are other ways to show respect that make more sense in the West. For me, the way to show that respect is to be respectful within one's mind and heart, just as one shows respect for one's parents without bowing to them every time they enter the room.

I am not saying that bowing should be completely removed. The dojo which I attend is very relaxed, and I still find it a little strange to not bow every two minutes. However, when I do bow, the respect is accepted. If, at some moment I don't bow, the respect is understood because I am paying attention, asking questions respectfully, and doing as I am told--because that is how I was taught to show respect.

If anything above makes anyone angry (by it's tone, for instance) please know that I did not mean to offend. Please take every comment in the best possible way. Thank you for your time.

Sorry about the novel, but I am a novelist. ;o)

Cody

"My motto,
As I live and learn,
is:
Dig and be dug
In return." --Langston Hughes
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2001, 10:26 AM   #17
Russ
Dojo: Pacific Aikido Kensankai
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 32
Offline
Quote:
darin wrote:


Yes bowing to a person doesn't have to mean an act of worship. In Japanese culture its a natural way of showing respect. But in Japanese culture, the bowing to kamiza, pictures of the dead, shrines, temples etc is a form of worship. My question is, is it necessary in aikido? I think most people do it because everyone else is doing it.

[/b]
I don't beleive you are necessarily correct when you say bowing to the kamiza, pics of the dead (I assume O'sensei), shrines, temples etc is a form of worship. Any Japanese person I've talked to about this seems to think it (bowing) is about respect and gratitude.

Maybe, Darin, the question is "Is it necessary for YOUR aikido?"

I know that proper etiquette, including bowing, is intergal to my aikido and the way I want practise.

In the end, aikido is a method, is it not? To me, a method to strip away ones ego so I can see clearly. Respect and gratitude, whether it be to my partner or the memory of O'sensei, is part of that method.

Sincerely;

Russ

  Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2001, 10:53 AM   #18
darin
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 375
Offline
Re: Aikido is not a religion

Quote:
Matt Banks wrote:
I would like to say Aikido is not a religion in any way. So what you said was incorrect. Osensei himself said in his autobiography 'abundant peace' , that Aikido is not a religion what is more, he specifically intended for there to be no conflict between aikido and any other religions.

this fact I thought was well known.





Matt Banks
Matt, have you been to Japan?

Despite what O Sensei may have said, Aikido is heavily influenced by Japanese religions. O Sensei himself was supposedly a religious fanatic! Do you think he would have allowed foreign student to put Jewish, Christian, Moslem or Hari Krishna objects in the kamiza or around the dojo?

Also todays Japanese teachers are still shinto and budhist. In Japan martial arts training is often conducted in temples and shrines. Even in the dojo there are still Japanese religious rituals which would definately clash with other religions.

From my understanding of the Japanese culture and what I have read about O Sensei, I doubt he would allow aikido to change to suit other religions. He was very strict on tradition, dojo ettiquite and rules.

What I was saying was, is it necessary to keep the Japanese religious element in schools outside of Japan as most non Japanese don't understand them. Actually many Japanese don't understand them either.


  Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2001, 11:42 AM   #19
darin
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 375
Offline
Quote:
Russ wrote:
Quote:
darin wrote:


Yes bowing to a person doesn't have to mean an act of worship. In Japanese culture its a natural way of showing respect. But in Japanese culture, the bowing to kamiza, pictures of the dead, shrines, temples etc is a form of worship. My question is, is it necessary in aikido? I think most people do it because everyone else is doing it.
I don't beleive you are necessarily correct when you say bowing to the kamiza, pics of the dead (I assume O'sensei), shrines, temples etc is a form of worship. Any Japanese person I've talked to about this seems to think it (bowing) is about respect and gratitude.

Maybe, Darin, the question is "Is it necessary for YOUR aikido?"

I know that proper etiquette, including bowing, is intergal to my aikido and the way I want practise.

In the end, aikido is a method, is it not? To me, a method to strip away ones ego so I can see clearly. Respect and gratitude, whether it be to my partner or the memory of O'sensei, is part of that method.

Sincerely;

Russ

[/b]
Hi Russ,

Ask your Japanese friends the real reason behind bowing to kamiza, pictures of ancestors, shrines and temples. Ask them why they throw money to the gods and wash their hands with the water in temples. Why school students write their names on small wooden blocks to be hung in temples. Why do they have all those festivals? It all comes down to religion.

Yes it is a gesture of respect but originally it would have been a kind of prayer. These days Japanese people do most religious activities out of tradition, custom and superstition.

Is it necessary for my aikido? The answer is no. I respect Japan, its culture etc but I am not Japanese. Even though I have been there many times and speak the language I feel that outside of Japan it is not necessary to be Japanese.

But from my experience western students learn aikido much faster and are less confused when they are tought in an environment free of all the ettiquite and customs.

I have been doing aikido for almost 10 years and have the rank of third dan. I was personally tought by a Japanese teacher so I have experienced the traditional way.

But hey, thats just my oppinion. I am not trying to tell anyone what to do.
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2001, 12:28 PM   #20
Russ
Dojo: Pacific Aikido Kensankai
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 32
Offline
Quote:
darin wrote:

But from my experience western students learn aikido much faster and are less confused when they are tought in an environment free of all the ettiquite and customs.

[/b]
Okay, I give due respect to your experience and perspective. I only have one last comment or question.

In the above quote you mention an environment "free of all the etiquette and customs." To me, as I mentioned in an earlier response, etiquette IS self defense. Showing proper respect, which I think is easiest done through the "traditional" etiquette found (generally) in the practise of aikido, is an efficient way of saying "I respect you, I thank you and I will do my best to not injure you during training together, please do the same for me.".

(Katsuyuki Kondo explains this concept well in an article written by Stan Pranin. Might be on his website, not sure.)

I'll assume that you mean western students learn faster in an environment free from culturally (Japanese) specific etiquette and customs rather than free of those concepts altogether.

Sincerely;

Russ
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2001, 03:08 PM   #21
Magma
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 168
Offline
Quote:
Erik wrote:
Think about it another way. Do you bow to your tennis instructor? Did you bow when you went to school? Do you bow when you step on the tennis court? Do you bow to your tennis instructor when he/she makes a suggestion? Sounds ridiculous in that context doesn't it?

But is it any different?
My answer is, "Oh, my, yes!" I don't practice tennis-do. Nor did it seek to improve me as a person. To quote Seagal Sensei's video "Path Beyond Thought," the Japanese have a saying, "The development of the spiritual man and the physical man must happen together." Technique alone will only affect the latter. Humility, engendered by thoughtful performance of ritual and respect for those that went before - both teacher and student - is the first step to courtesy and the development of what may be called the "spiritual" man.

Tim
It's a sad irony: In U's satori, he forgot every technique he ever knew; since then, generations of doka have spent their whole careers trying to remember.
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2001, 03:42 PM   #22
Erik
Location: Bay Area
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 1,200
Offline
Quote:
darin wrote:
Is aikido spiritual? In what ways is it spiritual? Does your spiritualism refer to the good feelings you get out of practice and interacting with others? These feelings can also be found in sports and other social activities.
I won't argue this at all because in theory it could be accurate. There's no reason any other activity can't be used in the same way but interestingly no one talks about flow, blending or harmony in any of the other activities I've done. For me, aikido is an environment that provides me the opportunity to dig into and learn about myself. It's not unique to Aikido and could be found anywhere but usually isn't.

The closest I've come to this would be the inner game of golf or tennis by Michael Galloway.

Quote:
By the way, aikido movements are unique with or without spiritualism.
You need to get out more. Our technical repetoire is far from unique, although it has it's moments. What is unique is the emphasis.
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2001, 05:15 PM   #23
bones
Location: Colorado
Join Date: Nov 2000
Posts: 11
Offline
Is aikido just a set of techniques? The 'do' on the end says no.

This particular way in which practicing an art becomes a discipline for life is uniquely japanese. I would argue that practices such as bowing (as well described by Aikidoka2000 on the first page) are part of the greater discipline, conditioning the mind. Of course, just going through the motions accomplishes nothing. Notice I describe bowing as 'practice' not just an 'action'. Is this religous or an act of worship? I would say no.

The question of language is a little more interesting. First of all, I see no good reason why the 'technical' language need be translated into one's native language. Beyond that, some of the terms, 'zanshin' being a good example, would lose a lot of meaning if translated. While counting in japanese may not be necessary, i see no harm in it. Some may say it adds to the atmosphere, since it is after all a japanese art. Would you try practicing shodo (calligraphy) writing in the roman alphabet?

I think to really experience the 'do' part of Aikido one must to some extent have an understanding or 'feel' for japanese culture and the japanese way of doing things. Part of that way is respecting the history of the art. O-sensei did say 'Aikido is for everyone', and I think as long as it is earnestly practiced religion is not an issue.

[Edited by bones on January 12, 2001 at 05:18pm]
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2001, 12:25 AM   #24
darin
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 375
Offline
Quote:
Erik wrote:
Quote:
darin wrote:
Is aikido spiritual? In what ways is it spiritual? Does your spiritualism refer to the good feelings you get out of practice and interacting with others? These feelings can also be found in sports and other social activities.
I won't argue this at all because in theory it could be accurate. There's no reason any other activity can't be used in the same way but interestingly no one talks about flow, blending or harmony in any of the other activities I've done. For me, aikido is an environment that provides me the opportunity to dig into and learn about myself. It's not unique to Aikido and could be found anywhere but usually isn't.

The closest I've come to this would be the inner game of golf or tennis by Michael Galloway.

Quote:
By the way, aikido movements are unique with or without spiritualism.
You need to get out more. Our technical repetoire is far from unique, although it has it's moments. What is unique is the emphasis.
I have been out long enough. I have done almost 10 years of Yoseikan (3rd dan), some classes in Tomiki, Yoshinkan and Aikikai as well as jujitsu, iaijutsu and kobudo. I have also run my own school.

I have been to Japan, trained in classes there, as well as met and talked to various Japanese teachers including Minoru Mochizuki and a former no. 2 of the Kyokushinkai.

Aikido is unique. No other martial art has the same training routines and syllabus of techniques. Some schools may have adopted some aikido techniques but those schools are not aikido. Even in aikido its possible to differentiate between Yoshinkan, Tomiki, Yoseikan and Aikikai. Actually this can be said for almost all martial arts systems.

The spiritualism in aikido is found in all aspects of Japanese society, arts, and traditions. Ask any Japanese martial artist, regardless of any style or art they do, why they train? They will answer "Seishin no tame ni" which basically means "to improve my spirit".
Flow, blending, and harmony? These are in all martial arts. Have you heard of timing, distance and execution? Punches, kicks, takedowns, pins and chokes all require flow, blending and harmony just like in aikido. Its only narrow minded western instructors who have read too many books that say their art is unique to only these three elements.

You should know that to most Japanese people, aikido is the same as karate, judo and kendo. Even my Japanese teacher says that the only difference is in the techniques.

You have used your martial art to dig in and learn about yourself. I won't argue with you here as I did the same. But so did people in karate, kung fu, tae kwon do etc. I suppose the question is did everyone get the same answers...

Cheers

Darin

  Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2001, 10:54 AM   #25
crystalwizard
Dojo: Aikido of Dallas
Location: Dallas
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 123
Offline
[QUOTE
so should we still bow to O-sensi??

Well, do you worship him? Do you think of him as some kind of deity?
I am just wondering if aikidoka really understand what they are doing and why they are doing it.
[/quote]

Quote:
akiy worte:
Inasmuch as I've understood it, bowing is not religious in nature. Its origin for the Japanese culture stems from budo and the inherent trust one would give in symbolically offering one's head and neck to the other party.

My feeling is that just because you're bowing towards someone doesn't mean you're worshipping nor deifying him or her...

-- Jun [/b]
For those that would like to do a little reading, about.com has an EXCELLENT set of guides on japan. The language, culture and so on
Easiest way to find them is just go to about.com and click on J on the alphabet line

The section on culture, subsection bowing states:

BOWING

Bowing represents humility. You elevate, honour, and respect the
other person by humbling yourself or lowering yourself. The
lower you bow, the more you are honouring or respecting the
other party. As a Westerner, you are not expected to initiate a
bow, but a bow should always be returned (except from personnel
at department stores and restaurants who bow to welcome you,
and to whom you can nod in return if you like). To not bow in
return is similar to refusing a hand shake.

The person of lower status usually initiates the bow, bows the
lowest, and is the last one to rise. The most frequent bow is a
rather informal bow of about 15 degrees and is held for one or two
seconds. A deeper bow is used for a superior or for a formal
occasion such as a first meeting. It is usually about 30 degrees
and is held for about three seconds. Men usually leave their
hands at their sides while bowing, but women usually place them
together on their thighs with their fingertips overlapping or
touching. Heels should be together. If you rise from your bow and the other person hasn't risen yet, you should bow again. On
most occasions, especially when saying good-bye, there are
several bows by all parties.

USES OF THE BOW

FOR GREETINGS
AND PARTINGS
introductions
welcoming
acknowledgment of another's
presence (even across the room)
gaining attention
FOR SINCERITY
offering assistance, food,
presents, etc.
showing gratitude
congratulating
sympathy
FOR HUMILITY
requests
apology
respect
FOR CEREMONY
TO ACKNOWLEDGE OR
SHOW AGREEMENT


THE HAND SHAKE

Hand shaking is definitely a Western custom. Generally, the
Japanese are uncomfortable with any physical forms of contact,
however, they have become accustomed to this Western tradition
and often shake hands to promote good relations. You should
not judge the kind of hand shake a Japanese person returns nor
should you be too aggressive or excited shaking the hand of a
Japanese person.


====
The site has much much much more, quite indepth and informative for any who might be interested

____________
Kelly Christiansen

A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror
  Reply With Quote

Please visit our sponsor:

Seminar with Frank Doran, Shihan - Aug. 8-10, 2014 at Sunset Cliff's Aikido, near San Diego's finest beaches



Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Practice without tradition Jorx Spiritual 50 04-22-2005 03:01 AM
i got a funny question... *Aiki*Jimmy_yan General 139 04-29-2004 09:05 AM
tradition and belt washing jss General 2 04-28-2004 02:16 AM
New Book Review: Aikido: Tradition and the Competetive Edge AikiWeb System AikiWeb System 0 11-26-2003 01:11 PM
Aikido: Tradition and the Competitive Edge PeterR General 1 04-15-2002 08:58 PM


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:55 PM.



vBulletin Copyright © 2000-2014 Jelsoft Enterprises Limited
----------
Copyright 1997-2014 AikiWeb and its Authors, All Rights Reserved.
----------
For questions and comments about this website:
Send E-mail
plainlaid-picaresque outchasing-protistan explicantia-altarage seaford-stellionate