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Old 05-26-2004, 01:38 PM   #1
Jorx
Dojo: Pärnu Aikidoclub Singitai
Location: Pärnu, Estonia
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Practice without tradition

What do you think about practicing Aikido with minimum tradition. No Kamiza, no proper shomen... no picture of O'sensei. No bowing to eachother if you don't want to... no constant bowing to sensei? No bowing when you enter the room. Just pure practice of techniques...

Does one think less of O'Sensei if he/she doesn't bow regularily to his picture?

Does one honor less his/hers training partner if there's no bowing?
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Old 05-26-2004, 02:05 PM   #2
DarkShodan
Dojo: Shuurin Dojo - Omaha, Nebarska
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Re: Practice without tradition

Aikido is a culteral art. It is about respect, yin/yang, about being part of a group, a culture, a comunity, something bigger than the self. If you take away the traditions that helped create Aikido, you are missing out. Is is bad or wrong? I suppose not, but you're cheating yourself out of a greater experience.

Victims, aren't we all.
-- Eric Draven
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Old 05-26-2004, 02:43 PM   #3
MaryKaye
Dojo: Seattle Ki Society
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Re: Practice without tradition

When I visted a dojo that occasionally omitted bowing in and out and bowing to partner, I found it personally difficult. I use the opening ceremony as a place to put aside outside concerns and focus for the practice of aikido. Without it, I found myself distracted. I recall spending most of one class fretting about some household issue, and only realizing at the end of class that it was because I'd never made a proper transition to "training mindset."

You could substitute something else for the opening ceremony, but I think that having a clear boundary marker between training and non-training helps lead to safer, more focused training. It seems to reduce the temptation to "fool around" rather than training with full attention.

I also found that bowing to partner helps make it 100% clear which person you're offering to train with; again, you could use another mechanism (shaking hands?) but it's helpful to have something.

There need be nothing particularly "ceremonial" about these ceremonies. In some ways they're analogous to the opening credits of a movie. The credits aren't very important, but if you leave them off people aren't yet settled for the movie when it begins, and don't appreciate it as well--at least I don't. Same with closing credits--they say clearly "This is done" so that people know when it's appropriate to leave, and allow viewers to make a gentler transition back to non-movie-viewing mode.

Mary Kaye
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Old 05-27-2004, 12:20 AM   #4
Sue Trinidad
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Re: Practice without tradition

I appreciate the bowing b/c it allows me to express my gratitude to the people who are teaching me and training with me. Even independent of the cultural tradition piece of it, which has value too (imo), I like having an easily understood and performed means of acknowledging our debt to each other.

Sue
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Old 05-27-2004, 12:36 AM   #5
Tharis
Dojo: Chicago Aikikai
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Circle Re: Practice without tradition

I think the "traditional" aspects aren't absolutely necessary for training, but in my opinion they help a lot. Reading into the initial post a bit (and correct me if I'm wrong), there seems to be a sense that there is something about the tradition that is extraneous or unnecessary to training, kind of like what the appendix is to the human body.

In my experience, the tradition is very much a part of the training. You bow to the shomen because you respect OSensei (note that respect does not equate worship). You bow to your partner to communicate your appreciation of their willingness to take ukemi. Even the seemingly pointless act of folding or tying a hakama helps prepare the mind for training and makes the practice more deliberate. It's an expression of your dedication to the art. Yes, sometimes these can degenerate to the equivalent to empty ritual, but I don't think that's the point of tradition (for more on this, read Confucius).

Anecdotally, I've been to "open mat" classes where people just showed up and worked on whatever they wanted. Sometimes we bowed in, and sometimes we didn't. When we did, I noticed that the practice seemed more focused, and more intentional than it did when people just showed up, stretched, and started messing around with whatever technique they felt like working on.

So, with regard to "tradition:"

Is it absolutely necessary?
No.

Does it affect the dedication one has to training, or add to the "purity" of the practice?
In my opinion: Yes.

Yours in ukemi,

Thomas

Last edited by Tharis : 05-27-2004 at 12:41 AM.
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Old 05-27-2004, 01:08 AM   #6
Tadhg Bird
 
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Re: Practice without tradition

I would feel wrong not bowing to my partner. Even when casually practicing before and after class, I still bow.

When I teach younger folk, one of the emphasis on bowing etiquette is actually safety. As nage, by bowing, you are saying, "I'm ready to do my technique". If uke were to attack before nage was ready, someone could get hurt.

"Words and letters can never adequately describe Aikido -- its meaning is revealed only to those who are enlightened through hard training." -- Ueshiba Morihei O Sensei
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http://www.AikidoStuff.com
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Old 05-27-2004, 03:36 AM   #7
happysod
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Re: Practice without tradition

Quote:
What do you think about practicing Aikido with minimum tradition. .
we do

Quote:
No Kamiza, no proper shomen... no picture of Osensei. No bowing to each other if you don't want to... no constant bowing to sensei?
we don't

Quote:
No bowing when you enter the room. Just pure practice of techniques...
not quite - bow at the start, bow at the finish + normally one bow to your final practice partner. - unless it's a grading then there's a few more.

The techniques and how you perform them are the main expression of the philosophy aikido. The rest is based on the culture that gave birth to aikido and is relatively meaningless to many, including myself, it's just not my culture or particularly interesting to me.

I take Mary's point regarding dojo/non-dojo distinctions, but the initial bow + warm-up seems to serve the purpose.
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Old 05-27-2004, 06:21 AM   #8
tiyler_durden
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Re: Practice without tradition

Hey all,

I know I don't post too much here so I hope this is read and taken seriously as I read almost every post that is laid here and ask questions when applicable on my part.

I think some people do not truly understand the truth and meaning behind Dojo etiquette!

The dojo etiquette has a two-fold meaning in my opinion.

1) - The dojo customs we observe before, during and after training are there for a kind o control within the Dojo. When doing any technique in the dojo it must be done with control as not to kill, maim or injure your uke, right!

2) - Dojo etiquette can also be used outside of the Dojo as well. As when we are polite towards other members of the public, friends and or relatives we make few enemies, right!

This is my 2 cents,

Tiyler durden

"Deal with the faults as gently a your own"
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Old 05-27-2004, 07:12 AM   #9
happysod
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Re: Practice without tradition

Quote:
think some people do not truly understand the truth and meaning
- Two words which I'd personally never use in the same sentence...

Etiquette and tradition are separable and I think you'll find that even the most diligent "traditional" dojos outside of Japan will have a slightly different take on what is traditional practice as it will have been modified by the perceptions from their own culture.

What I saw as the thrust of the original question is, can you practice aikido without the traditional trappings of a Japanese dojo. My answer is yes. However, I did not say that that would necessitate zero etiquette in the dojo, discipline and good manners span all cultures and most ma.
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Old 05-27-2004, 09:06 AM   #10
Robert Rumpf
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Re: Practice without tradition

Quote:
Does one think less of O'Sensei if he/she doesn't bow regularily to his picture?
Does one honor less his/hers training partner if there's no bowing?
It seems as though what you're really asking is whether or not it is necessary for someone to observe the physical ettiquette of respect if they are respectful otherwise. You might as well ask if the dog has Buddha nature..
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Old 05-27-2004, 09:53 AM   #11
SeiserL
 
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Re: Practice without tradition

IMHO, tradition brings with it the practice of respect, disciplines, and honoring our heritage. While it may not be necessary, I would miss it if it wasn't there.

I might as well be studying folk-dancing. But, even there is tradition.

Even by ignoring it, you imply that its there.

But like a plant without roots, it would soon die.

He bows, honoring tradition, and leaves for the Dojo.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 05-27-2004, 10:57 AM   #12
happysod
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Re: Practice without tradition

Quote:
While it may not be necessary, I would miss it if it wasn't there
...

But like a plant without roots, it would soon die
In your opening sentence, you're not sure

In your free verse you're definitely sure

Quote:
He bows, honoring tradition, and leaves for the Dojo
makes traditional English gesture and wanders off into the distance.
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Old 05-27-2004, 11:23 AM   #13
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Practice without tradition

Quote:
Jorgen Matsi wrote:
Just pure practice of techniques...
Just pure exercise.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 05-27-2004, 08:32 PM   #14
Largo
Dojo: Aikikai Dobunkan/ Icho Ryu Aikijujutsu
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Re: Practice without tradition

Not necessary. When I first learned goju-ryu karate, I learned from my best friend's father. We trained outside or in the garage. No uniforms, no dojo, no nothing. That was probably the best and hardest training I ever had.
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Old 05-28-2004, 05:51 AM   #15
domidude
Dojo: Kobayashi Dojos, Hungary
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Smile Re: Practice without tradition

tradition is fine, there should not be much fuss about it... i mean you say hello when you get home to your family and give some kisses. so it is just natural that you bow entering a dojo, bowing your partner. you can have a "style of bowing" though, as long as you show respect. often i arrive early and alone to the dojo and still bow entering and bow to sensei's picture...it just feels good to "say hi" to the place.. it's like when you sit in your favorite armchair: you have a slight moment of welcoming the comfort before you open a bok or switch on the tv...
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Old 05-28-2004, 07:53 AM   #16
ruthmc
Dojo: Wokingham Aikido
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Re: Practice without tradition

Quote:
Tiyler Durden wrote:
2) - Dojo etiquette can also be used outside of the Dojo as well. As when we are polite towards other members of the public, friends and or relatives we make few enemies, right!
I agree with Tiyler - it's just a way of being polite. Perhaps it feels pretty strange to a non-Japanese person at first, but it soon becomes as familiar as "please" "thank you" or a handshake.

Things run smoother and happier when folks are being genuinely polite to one another, or we wouldn't bother doing it. It certainly isn't a bad thing!

Ruth
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Old 04-03-2005, 11:25 PM   #17
Reg Robinson
Dojo: Gibsons Aikido
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Re: Practice without tradition

Hi Jorgen,
I feel that the practice of Tradition/Etiquette, in the Dojo is what I make of it. If it is an act which I perform upon entering or leaving just because it is expected of me, then the answer is yes, you can train with out observing these practices. However, I believe that the atmosphere in the Dojo changes, particularly that immediate area around me. That change is not a positive one.

Outside of the Dojo my practice of Tradition/Etiquette is much the same. I was taught by my father to remove my hat when in the presence of ladies, & when entering someones home or even entering a restraunt. I was also taught when meeting a male friend or being introduced to another man to shake hands, if it was a lady you whould shake hands when & only if the lady extended her hand.
It has being my experience that whenever I have extended these courtesy it has resulted with the recipitent feeling good about the encounter. If I can possibly help someone feel good with such simple gestures then I believe that I am practicing Aiki Do.
Please do not let simple gestures in showing respect disapper from the Dojo.
Thanks Reg.
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Old 04-04-2005, 12:15 AM   #18
Lan Powers
Dojo: Aikido of Midland, Midland TX
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Re: Practice without tradition

>I would miss it if it wasn't there. <
That is the distilled truth for me. I like the discipline of the formality used in the dojo. The rest of the world is raucous, and discordant....respect and focus should prevail in the dojo. ( They can without the forms of etiquette that are "traditional",I know, but it dilutes the sense of carried forward practices from the previous generations to me.)
I find the "ritual" for want of a better word is calming and focusing..
Lan

Play nice, practice hard, but remember, this is a MARTIAL art!
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Old 04-14-2005, 01:00 PM   #19
Aiki.Ronin
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Re: Practice without tradition

It would seem to me to depend on the nature of the "Aiki-Family" as a whole. Tradition, or lack thereof, revolves around the dynamic of the group. I've trained one-on-one and we were very formal, and now I train with a group and we are very informal. Both are fine, but I do believe that one should at least know (even if you don't practice it at your home dojo) the elements of common dojo etiquette. Showing proper respect when traveling to train elsewhere is essential to opening new doors.
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Old 04-14-2005, 02:03 PM   #20
kironin
 
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Re: Practice without tradition

Quote:
Jorgen Matsi wrote:
What do you think about practicing Aikido with minimum tradition. No Kamiza, no proper shomen... no picture of O'sensei. No bowing to eachother if you don't want to... no constant bowing to sensei? No bowing when you enter the room. Just pure practice of techniques...

Does one think less of O'Sensei if he/she doesn't bow regularily to his picture?

Does one honor less his/hers training partner if there's no bowing?

You are missing the whole point.
That is part of practicing techniques.
focus, awareness, mindfulness.

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Old 04-15-2005, 02:55 AM   #21
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: Practice without tradition

Budo practice without the traditions associated?

What would be the point?

Chuck

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Old 04-15-2005, 08:48 AM   #22
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Practice without tradition

http://www.collegiatetimes.com/index.php?ID=5694

Quote:
Because of the changing methods of waging war, Ueshiba understood that all martial arts would be forgotten and/or replaced with technology and modern hand-to-hand systems, were it not for the interest of ordinary individuals. So essentially, every practitioner has the potential to be a curator of history simply by learning more about the people who created these systems and the culture that surrounded them.
This is from the article that Jun posted a link to in another recent thread. I was pleased to see someone write this. It sums up for me the reason why I'm not as interested in training sans ettiquite. Even Japanese ettiquite. I know others often look for something different, and that's ok, but I am gratefull to my teachers who provide the experience mentioned above.

Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 04-15-2005, 09:39 AM   #23
darin
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Re: Practice without tradition

I agree with Largo. I only keep the bowing etc purely for advertising purposes. I live in Australia so its not necessary to act Japanese...
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Old 04-16-2005, 01:16 AM   #24
stuartjvnorton
 
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Re: Practice without tradition

Seems that there can't be much real respect there in the first place if not bowing would somehow change it.


As for needing a bow-in type ceremony to clear your mind for the class to come, you use it that way because you've conditioned yourself to do so. If it weren't there, you'd find another cue.
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Old 04-16-2005, 08:23 AM   #25
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: Practice without tradition

So ... you start stripping away the traditions and forms of respect. At what point does the art cease to be budo? What does it become?

Chuck

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