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Old 03-28-2004, 11:24 AM   #1
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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Judgment; are we as aikidoka too judgmental?

Hi folks,

My husband has raised the concern with me, that we as aikidoka have a tendency to be very judgmental, and I am wondering if this is really so, or if it is maybe something that I am, and that we as a collective group are not.
To clarify; if someone watches my students and makes a comment to me that they need to work on such and such a thing, I take it not as a criticism, but as a constructive aid and a guide for what we need to concentrate on. My husband takes it as a criticism of my students. Another example: I make the comment that I really enjoy training with such and such a person because they are very flexible and connected in both ukemi as well as waza, but my husband states that I am passing judgment on them (positive, but judgment nevertheless). He states that he hears so much judgment floating about in conversations, such as so and so has really nice ukemi, or so and so is really stiff, or so and so moves funny. Do you all see this? Do you participate? Do other martial artists talk about other practitioners in such ways? Are we judgmental as a group? Do we have a tendency to compare ourselves with others more than other MA's?
Just curious what all your take on this is....
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Old 03-28-2004, 11:34 AM   #2
Qatana
 
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Opinion and Judgement are two different things that have ben jumbled together due to 80's & 90's psychobull****.

Judgement implies there is a "right' and a "wrong".

Opinion is statement of personal preference.

IMHO/YMMV

Q
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"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 03-28-2004, 11:38 AM   #3
rachmass
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Hi Jo,

My husband is a long-time Zen practitioner, and he was looking at it from that side. We don't comment about someone's way of walking or way of sitting, but we do about someone's way of moving their body in aikido-that is my point (probably not worded properly). So, Do you all see this? Do you participate? Do other martial artists talk about other practitioners in such ways? Are we judgmental as a group? Do we have a tendency to compare ourselves with others more than other MA's?
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Old 03-28-2004, 11:45 AM   #4
Chad Sloman
 
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IMHO....

I think it's human nature. If we were all basket-weavers of the same school, would we not judge each other's basket-weaving technique as opposed to our own? We are constantly striving to perfection and we must have an ideal as to what direction that perfection may be. I don't think this is endemic to aikido, but to all martial arts. Have you ever watched any martial arts/sports on tv? All they do is criticize and critique. Same goes with football, basketball, etc... I enjoy and beg for constructive criticism, how else am I to get better if I don't know what I'm doing is not the best way? And we praise each other for good work because we're nice people and we like to make other people feel good.

At least that's why I do

Last edited by Chad Sloman : 03-28-2004 at 11:47 AM.

A real man does not think of victory or defeat. He plunges recklessly towards an irrational death. By doing this, you will awaken from your dreams.
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Old 03-28-2004, 11:47 AM   #5
Qatana
 
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Maybe the correct term is "comparative"

comeing from a Long-time Vipassana practitioner & amateur semanticist!

There is been comparison in every Art, whether body-oriented or visual or parforming. How can we grow if we have nothing to compare ourselves to? The challenge is not to let it become ego-driven.

Q
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"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 03-28-2004, 01:29 PM   #6
Janet Rosen
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How a person sits when they enter my living room is something I may register, but unless it falls waaaay outside the norm, it doesn't affect how we interact as two people nor offer me a lesson in how I want to sit.

How my training partner connects with me affects how I connect with him. Watching somebody take wonderful ukemi is enjoyable and offers me something to either learn from or aspire to.

Janet Rosen
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Old 03-28-2004, 01:36 PM   #7
Janet Rosen
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Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote:
How a person sits when they enter my living room...doesn't affect how we interact as two people.
Hmm. Well, actually it does, in the larger sense of paraverbal communication. And we DO judge people, how much we like or trust them, on the basis of those interactions. And to take it one step further, dunno about you, but I am likely to, after the guests have left, chat with my husband about what our interactions with folks were like during the evening.

But I think we do more of it, more upfront verbally and "out there" with aikido, because of the observable and palpable and intimate physical nature of it.

And I am in the camp that this is NOT "judgements" of good and bad (though it could be) but more often observations of the fact of skill.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 03-28-2004, 03:31 PM   #8
Hanna B
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Sometimes, I think aikido people do that a lot. Yes. I can not say anything about the situations that you and your husband experience differently, of course. In aikido people are very focussed on learning, and also has a hierarchy loosely based on how good people are... so of course it is important to us, trying and decide who is better than whom.

There's lots of competition and comparing going on in aikido. I do not think it is necessarily bad, depending how it is handled.
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Old 03-28-2004, 03:37 PM   #9
Jason Mudd
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By that definition, I do not see how anyone can give feedback on someone else's technique without being seen as being judgemental.

What does your husband suggest when people are learning from you? How does he think you should repsond to people asking about their technique?

Some people think that everyone should be silent and you should only learn fro seeing adn then doing yourself. That's wonderful from a philosophical stand-point. Horribly inefficient though.

Seems to be too much time thinking philosophically.

Are there really no wrong answers?

Would you like to be told when your answers are wrong?

I break the surface so I can breath.
I close my eyes so I can see.
I tie my arms to be free.
Have you ever been free?
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Old 03-28-2004, 03:40 PM   #10
wendyrowe
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Watching other people do aikido is, to me, more like watching a performance (ballet or Olympics, say) than watching someone walk along the street: I doubt I'd think much about or comment on someone's way of walking, but if I'm watching athletes do their thing I certainly zero in on the ones who look great when they're doing it. They're the ones I want to emulate. It's the same with aikido -- the fast ones with great efficiency of motion, the ones with beautiful ukemi, the graceful ones who make their throws every time, all catch our attention and we tend to comment on how well they do. And we all watch them and try to learn from them.

Granted, I happen to be a dreadfully judgemental person -- but I believe that is totally separate from my aikido, and I don't find myself thinking that people are doing aikido "wrong."
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Old 03-28-2004, 03:40 PM   #11
Chuck Clark
 
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I've struggled with this for a long time. The way I look at it right now is: being judgemental leaves a feeling of being "better than or less than" another being.

We all make comparisons; it's how our brain works. The comparison may also contain a judgement or not.

The compassion to see ourselves as not better or worse than but "in the same boat" while making comparisons, evaluations and critiques of behavior need not be judgemental.

This makes sense to me but very possibly not to anyone else... at some point the difference becomes very obvious.

wonderings (and sometimes wanderings...) from another Zen Buddhist,

Chuck Clark
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Old 03-28-2004, 03:46 PM   #12
rachmass
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From my husbands philosophical perspective, all the comparisons and judgments are a real turn-off and have led him to not want to do aikido (and some of those judgments are self-imposed by him on himself). I really don't think that I am at all critical of people, and I also don't think you can necessarily "judge" someone by watching them, as often someone will feel a lot stronger (or a lot weaker) when you train with them than when you watch them. That said, you are all right; we really do make comparisons. We make them when we see someone who really impresses us in one way or another, and want to be like them. We make comparisons with ourselves, and how we have progressed (or digressed). We make these all the time, on and off the mat, in aikido and in our daily lives. I guess the conversation we had has no clear answer, as my husband will always approach it from a Buddhist bent, where all judgments of right and wrong, good and bad, etc. are to be let go of, and I don't think I'll ever understand.

Thanks for writing in!
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Old 03-28-2004, 04:18 PM   #13
mj
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'judgemental' is such a broad, sweeping characterisation.

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Old 03-28-2004, 05:50 PM   #14
paw
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Quote:
There's lots of competition and comparing going on in aikido. I do not think it is necessarily bad, depending how it is handled.
Agreed.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 03-28-2004, 09:46 PM   #15
zachbiesanz
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If aikido is any different from any other art, I suggest that it's because of the close interaction we have with eachother. There is a distinct difference between watching someone do a technique and feeling it.

Plus we all feel smarter if we can identify good and bad things in other people. I think that psychologically, it provides us with a sense of accomplishment: even if our own technique isn't so good, we like to show that at least we know the difference between what good and bad technique looks/feels like.

Aikido is the art of hitting an assailant with the planet.
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Old 03-28-2004, 10:48 PM   #16
indomaresa
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We ARE judgmental.... to an extent.

we're also gossipers, critics and sages. But that's not a bad thing.

AFAIK Zen is teaching us to be less human and letting go of human weaknesses ( jugmentality included ). Maybe that's why your husband is trying to impart to you?

The road is long...
The path is steep...
So hire a guide to show you the shortcuts
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Old 03-28-2004, 11:49 PM   #17
PhilJ
 
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Much ado about nothing?

Removing judgementality is like removing emotion: impossible without being dead.

I don't believe aikido tells us at all to remove this aspect, though it trains us to be like nature, the universe, etc. Sure, trees aren't judgemental... but they aren't sentient like humans are. We have different issues than your average pine or redwood.

We have a different fate: choice. Without debating about fate vs. choice, we do have more choices than the grass you step on and the rocks you kick down the road.

The rocks are there, just like your judgements, egos, emotions. They're not bad or good, they just are. It's what you DO, the ACTIONS and DECISIONS you make. O'Sensei knew that: masakatsu agatsu. Did he ever talk about these things as "bad" and needing elimination?

I think judgement is only bad if you do bad things with it: discrimination, segregation, hatred, envy, and so on. Judgement can be neutral (fear, worry, concern) and even good (joy, love, charity). But you know, even the good stuff can be bad (happy today, sad tomorrow; charity for only a select group of people; etc) and vice-versa.

My point is that slapping a label on judgement/ego/etc is actually futile -- you can't pin it down, thus the variety of opinions (mine incl.) here. But you CAN control it, and make it a non-factor. I think that is one thing zen is after -- the wisdom to see the folly of our humanity, and the wisdom to realize its necessity and embrace it rather than refute it.

*Phil

Last edited by PhilJ : 03-28-2004 at 11:52 PM.

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Old 03-28-2004, 11:57 PM   #18
PhilJ
 
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One thing I should add: I feel sadness for people who exclude themselves from something because they have "an idea" of what they believe is happening. (This happens to me too, so... guilty!)

I've had to work with folks in the past I didn't like personally, not even slightly liked. But I refuse to let that stop me from learning something that I otherwise wouldn't.

I have worked with people who believe other aikidoka to be "beneath" them just because they don't like them or disagree with their views. My heart honestly, truly ACHES because they could be missing some of the best experiences they've ever had, so try to encourage the people you care about to control the opinion long enough, so that they might learn something grand from someone s/he feels is grungy. The only one getting hurt is the person doing the judging.

*Phil

Last edited by PhilJ : 03-29-2004 at 12:01 AM.

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Old 03-29-2004, 03:46 AM   #19
Hanna B
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In my mind, as long as people are judging and comparing technique that is not so bad most of the times. It is when we start calling other people's actions "not so aiki-like" that we are heading for the reeeeeaaally deep waters.
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Old 03-29-2004, 03:58 AM   #20
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So let me get this straight - someone is judging that Aikidoists are too judgemental?

I love it.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-29-2004, 04:02 AM   #21
Tim Griffiths
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Quote:
Rachel Massey (rachmass) wrote:
From my husbands philosophical perspective, all the comparisons and judgments are a real turn-off and have led him to not want to do aikido ...
Sounds a little judgmental of him... *grins*

More seriously, I'd like to stand up for being judgmental. Any activity, aikido included, has rules and models of behaviour and technique. In this context, there *are* things which are right and wrong. Our jobs, as teachers, is to point out to the students what is good, and what is wrong, until they learn to tell the difference (or, if you prefer, become brainwashed into doing it a particular way by repeated negative feedback).

There are times, and professions, where you shouldn't be judgemental. A pychotherapist, or a marriage counsellor, for example, may find it better to try not to be. But we are not in the ego-massaging trade. We're teaching people to do something in a particular way. Of course, it may not be the only way, but at a particular time, a particular place and with a particular sensei, there is a right and a wrong.

The zen attitude of non-judgmentalism does, and should, only extend so far. If someone has a preference for putting food in their ears, rather than their mouth, then they are clearly wrong *if* the purpose of their action is to nourish themselves. Doesn't mean they're a bad person, just wrong.

Now feel free to tell me how wrong I am..

Tim

If one makes a distinction between the dojo and the battlefield, or being in your bedroom or in public, then when the time comes there will be no opportunity to make amends. (Hagakure)
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Old 03-29-2004, 04:07 AM   #22
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is your husband judging judgement as a bad thing? or judging people that are being judgemental?

judgements are something that just are. there is neither too much judgement or too little judgement within other people. The only place that you can actually make the call that there is too little or too much judgment is within your own thoughts and actions and that is the only place you can remove them or effect them.

thats my opinion on it anyway

people will judge, they do judge, it happens

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Old 03-29-2004, 09:03 AM   #23
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IMHO, yes, as a species with an ego, we tend to be very judgmental (meaning we think our way is right and others are of course wrong), and we take things way too seriously and personally.

Agreed, that comparison and opinions about those comparisons are only personal about the observer. Though we can learn a lot by considering their point of view.

If you agree with me, it only means that we match, not that we are right or good. If you disagree with me, it only means we don't match, not that either of us are right/wrong or good/bad.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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Old 03-29-2004, 09:50 AM   #24
vanstretch
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"without judgement, because its judgement that defeats us Willard" Col.Kurtz-way up river.
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Old 03-29-2004, 12:42 PM   #25
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Rachel, from a Zen perspective I would agree but I don't think this is exclusive of aikidoka.

Most of us have a hard time just "being" and letting others just "be". I believe that is the challenge of aikido. To be in constant harmony with "being", without any judgements. I recently read something that had a great impact on me where it stated that we should never allow someone to "lose face". If we make every effort to come into harmony with "being" or what each individuals uniqueness, we would probably be practicing some great aikido. Admittedly this is hard for me, but reading that quote has really helped me to notice how hard I am on people and that I need to supply more incouragement. I am also reminded of "aikido is for correct ourselves". Working with ALL ukemi benifits us- not just when it makes our technique look "good".
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