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Old 03-25-2004, 05:28 PM   #1
k'shi
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Circle Lack of spirituality

Greetings fellow Aikidoka .

Is it just me, or is the spiritual essense of Aikido oftenly ignored by those who teach it? I have an Aikido instructor (I dare not to call him Sensei) which totaly niglects the spiritual aspects of Aikido, can this man even be labeld an Aikido teacher? The oneness, is that not where Aikido is truely about?

How is that at your Aikido dojo, is the spiritual side of Aikido also niglected there?

Don't take it personal,
For it is the personal we ascend beyond.
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Old 03-25-2004, 05:43 PM   #2
Don_Modesto
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Re: Lack of spirituality

Quote:
Jop den Daas (k&#039shi) wrote:
Greetings fellow Aikidoka Is it just me, or is the spiritual essense of Aikido oftenly ignored by those who teach it? I have an Aikido instructor (I dare not to call him Sensei) which totaly niglects the spiritual aspects of Aikido, can this man even be labeld an Aikido teacher? The oneness, is that not where Aikido is truely about?
Given the choice between someone interupting my training with blather they either don't understand themselves or don't practice and someone who just motors through class with techniques leaving my soul to honest sweat and the ravages of my partner, I'd definitely take the latter.

Maybe your teacher (sic) is just displaying modesty and knows more than you think.

Disclaimer (often found in the preface to 400 page books on the subject of enlightenment): Those who know don't speak; those who speak, don't know.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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http://www.theaikidodojo.com/
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Old 03-25-2004, 05:46 PM   #3
PeterR
 
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The spiritual essence of Aikido????

I'm going to be completely blunt here but you are a classic case of preconceptions run amok.

You go to an Aikido dojo to learn Aikido yet you know more than your teacher? If you don't want to learn what he teaches go elsewhere.

Yes I did read your essay - and it has absolutely nothing to do with the spiritual aspects of Aikido.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-25-2004, 05:49 PM   #4
shihonage
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I believe you can find the answers you seek in this FAQ.
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Old 03-25-2004, 06:45 PM   #5
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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Some sensei lecture frequently. (That doesn't make them arrogant, certainly; what they say more than how often they say it is a better consideration for determining that.) Others are very, very terse. It's part of their personality and style. I heard one senior aikidoka quip, when asked what he would ask O-Sensei could he ask one question, that whatever he asked he'd probably get an hour-long rant about fire and water spirits. On the other hand, some very famous aikidoka (Shioda-sensei comes to mind) deliberately kept the philosophy/religion out of aikido.

But like Furuya-sensei remarked once, a good teacher is just a conductor of air over the coals...they don't start the fire. (Damnit! That song! Stuck in head!) It's up to all of us. Scary, huh?
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Old 03-25-2004, 06:53 PM   #6
Jamie Stokes
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Daas-san,

Ive read your essay. Ive tried to put my thoughts down like this, and it never came out the way I wanted. I think that this essay is one of those "take it or leave it" depending on the reader.

As for the spiritual aspects, I think you have the cause and effect back to front.

Practice the movements, and after a period of time, then you will discover the spirituality already there. Or rather, you will discover whatever you bring to it.

Aikido is a Budo. Movements first, spirituality second. If at all. Depends on the user.

Teaching spirituality is not your Sensei's prime job.

Too many different people have their own opinions om spirituality religion etc.

And if everyone has the same take, we are starting to look at either cult or fanatic thinking. It breeds an intolerance of the other point of view.

Besides, spirituality takes a back seat when Uke comes racing with a bokken to brain me! AH! TECHNIQUE! DON'T PRAY! DO SOMETHING!

Sorry, just the thought process that flashes across my brain when it comes to putting it on the mat.

Feel free to shop around, or find some other coach who can guide your spiritual path further along. even Tiger woods, world greatest golfer, still gets coaching.

Just pick the right coach for the right task.

with all respect,

Regards,

Jamie Stokes.
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Old 03-25-2004, 07:06 PM   #7
PeterR
 
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Hi Paul;

I think its totally appropriate to see your Aikido in the context of your own religion (I read your other posts). Ueshiba M. certainly did.

Lecturing your students on the philosophy of Aikido - I can see that also, although like Don I personally think its a waste of valuable mat time. That's what after practice beer is for. Hard training in a dojo with the right attitude demonstrated by teacher and student alike is more than enough to understand the philosophical essence of Aikido. Tomiki, Mochizuki, Shioda all had a similar outlook in this regard.

Back to the original post I do have a really hard time with people grafting their often pretentious personal views on to what Aikido should be. Again, relate Aikido to your personal beliefs by all means, but don't go around saying things like
Quote:
Is it just me, or is the spiritual essense of Aikido oftenly ignored by those who teach it? I have an Aikido instructor (I dare not to call him Sensei) which totaly niglects the spiritual aspects of Aikido, can this man even be labeld an Aikido teacher? The oneness, is that not where Aikido is truely about?
.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-25-2004, 07:14 PM   #8
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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In case it's not clear, I didn't say that...

Also, I should probably clarify. The 'talkative' sensei I study under at Carleton does /not/ lecture about 'religion' or even 'spirituality' per se. Judging by his other remarks, he'd find that inappropriate - which I agree with entirely. (It'd be overstepping his bounds, and would make students uncomfortable.) When he lectures, it's advice on things, like "This is an abrupt ukemi; suddenly you have to back breakfall. I find in life, sometimes you have to change direction suddenly as well..." I think that is "fair game" for sensei.
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Old 03-25-2004, 09:19 PM   #9
David Yap
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Quote:
Peter Rehse (PeterR) wrote:
The spiritual essence of Aikido????
Rehse sensei,

I might be off the thread. I humbly apologize.

A few years ago, an international renowned shihan visited my country for a seminar and yudansha gradings for an organisation which he was (still is) the Technical Director. A 2nd dan with 15+ of training sat for the 3rd dan exam. He did what we thought was flawless free flowing aikido. He failed. Reason given: "Techniques lack the essence of Aikido".

Coming from this world renowned Shihan, what this means?

Regards

David

Last edited by David Yap : 03-25-2004 at 09:25 PM.
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Old 03-25-2004, 10:24 PM   #10
PeterR
 
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Hi David;

Just Peter thank you. I don't consider myself a teacher especially here on the forums. I have opinions - that's it.

We're all guilty of thread drift - no need to apologize (to me least of all) even if it were totally off topic which its not.

To the question - I have no idea. My little rant was set off by someone denigrating his teacher of Aikido because his didn't view/teach Aikido philosophy in the same way as the student would. Talk about full cups.

What you describe appears to be the opposite and raises a whole series of other questions.

Techniques lack the essence of Aikido could mean anything from tangible to I just don't want to promote you. Frankly speaking this speaks more to the problem of technical directors coming once a year for gradings than any lack of understanding on anyones part. A teacher should know his student - how one can judge essence over the course of an afternoon is beyond me. Anyway I am sure the Shihan had his reasons and I am in no position to second guess. I am sure that if you put 10 shihan in a room that all would probably disagree to what the definition is.
Quote:
David Yap wrote:
Rehse sensei,

I might be off the thread. I humbly apologize.

A few years ago, an international renowned shihan visited my country for a seminar and yudansha gradings for an organisation which he was (still is) the Technical Director. A 2nd dan with 15+ of training sat for the 3rd dan exam. He did what we thought was flawless free flowing aikido. He failed. Reason given: "Techniques lack the essence of Aikido".

Coming from this world renowned Shihan, what this means?

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-26-2004, 02:27 AM   #11
Josh Bisker
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Yo, hang the hell on.

Peter, I read a lot of your posts and like a good deal of what you have to say, but dude, it seems like you're rather flying off the handle at someone for something which, if you wanted to help him, you could probably give FAR more supportive guidance on. "aggression, anger - these are the dark side" or something, come on man. chill out, or be supportive and not damning with what you say. umm, unless you're his instructor; then be pissed off if you want.

So, when I first read the original post it actually struck something of a chord with me. not because i have problems with my sensei or his manner (next to my dad, he's probably the guy who i admire and respect the most in the world for goodness sake), but more because I took the question to mean something rather different than that.

The original question was, is the "spiritual essense of Aikido oftenly ignored by those who teach it?" Most peope so far have taken this to mean "most instructors don't teach about spirituality on the mat during class," I understood it to mean "we're supposed to be learning about how to find all this peace and harmony and junk within ourselves, but my instructor's a total combative jackass - what's the deal?"

It was pointed out to me recently that while many people will be senior to you in Aikido, not all of them will necessarily know more about life than you do. I think this is a fair statement. The question of "why is that guy so technically mature but so spiritually barren" is a fair one to ask, especially about one's instructor.

I will say to complement this last question that people often run into a danger of ideological essentialism with things like aikido, where personal development is an aspect and (sometimes) an expectation. Often we will expect someone who has trained for x amount of time or gained y rank to be internally developed to a certain standard as well, and we forget that everyone who is training is still a human "work in progress." Osensei said that he still felt like a beginner when he was in his 80s; are we small minded enough to think that he was only talking about technique? Surely someone as wise and humble as he was would not think "i'm spiritually complete;" it was (i'm reasoning) more a totalic statement than a technical one. i think that in this Osensei gives us a good lesson, of not expecting unreasonable things from our training partners or instructors, since we are all beginners anyway.

I will say as well that it can be tempting to think "if he's such a jerk, how the hell did he ever get promoted," and it's in these situations that we really must remember to trust that our instructors can make decisions for their own reasons and that their priorities that may exceed our conceptions; maybe he sees something in the 'jerk' that you don't and is giving him a chance to grow. and that's the gift we got, right? a chance to grow, and a direction to grow in?
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Old 03-26-2004, 03:21 AM   #12
PeterR
 
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Hi Josh - it's not his first post and read the article. All things combined I think he would find a lot of Aikido folk barren.

But you are right there's my own baggage wrapped up in there. Earnest young men, with book firmly in hand, telling me that what I was doing wasnt't Aikido. I still have nightmares. Interpretations of what Ueshiba M. meant that would I am sure be unrecognizable to same. As I said in subsequent posts - Aikido can mean many different things to many different people. Each persons interpretation has value but - well the tone set me off.

On the other side there really is no requirement that I must support any and all comers on this forum. Generally I think I am quite supportive but I do have my hot buttons and I do enjoy reacting to them on occaision.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-26-2004, 03:53 AM   #13
Josh Bisker
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hot.

yeah, your description up there does sound nightmarish. and absolutely right that you don't have to be supportive of everything, and yes, you can tend to be very supportive to a lot of different ideas and peeples. and yeah, i shouldn't begrudge anyone's enjoyment of reacting to their hot buttons.

got any thoughts on the "why a jackass" question, or the idea of essentialism in this all? even if it's cheating and moving to a new topic?

also: good to be talking to you; i don't agree with all the stuff you post up but a lot of it makes me think (kinda like that mud-throwing-barn expression, but the other way around. i think.), and i appreciate your efforts within this whole e-community sphere.

-josh

Last edited by Josh Bisker : 03-26-2004 at 03:55 AM.
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Old 03-26-2004, 04:10 AM   #14
indomaresa
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I think....

Daas-san should try some of the "spiritual" teachers I know. After 3-4 sessions, he'll probably long for the more non-spiritual lectures.

I am currently ( and has been for 6 months ) treading neck-deep in spiritual aikido, and truly, truly wish I could train some additional physical-only aikido, somewhere.

Spiritual training should go in hand with the technical, or else it will encourage growth of many unpleasant human characteristics.

Which is probably one of aikido's worst shortcomings.

The road is long...
The path is steep...
So hire a guide to show you the shortcuts
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Old 03-26-2004, 06:32 AM   #15
Buddy Iafrate
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I'll disclaimer by saying I'm a newb, just over a year on the mat with Aikido.

My statement/question is this.

How can you ever step on the mat and not feel the spirituality of Aikido?

~Bud
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Old 03-26-2004, 06:49 AM   #16
Mark Mueller
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What a bunch of mumbo jumbo crap.

If you spend all your time judging someone elses spirituality when do you have time to worry about your own?
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Old 03-26-2004, 06:51 AM   #17
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My very first Aikido class, I was slightly late for (what fool builds two community centres next to each other?) And that was the first thing I was struck by, that people were sat around in seiza doing za-zen related breathing exercises. At this point I had a MA background in mainly Jujitsu and Ninjutsu, and we'd never done breathing exercises of any kind, the most we'd been told is "breath in through your nose and out through your mouth", and "exhale when you strike or are thrown". We'd never even been told about breathing to or from our centre. Come to think of it, we'd never even been told about the seika tanden. Za-zen was certainly eye-opening to me (in the literal sense of increasing my awareness / zanshin, but also in the sense of "Hey, there's something more to this").

My own teacher tends to approach his Aikido in a very spiritual way, but not really talk much about that side of things, and let us reach our own conclusions / ask more / study more oursleves / etc if we decide we want to know more about it.

It's a kind of magic
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Old 03-26-2004, 06:53 AM   #18
k'shi
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Quote:
If you have not linked yourself to true emptiness, you will never understand the art of peace.

- Morihei Ueshiba
Please understand that I do not mean disrespect towards my Aikido instructor. Yet try to understand, I'm a very spiritual person and can greatly identify with O'Sensei's words which is why I decided to join an Aikido dojo. Yet, once I joined my Aikido dojo I encountered an agressive man, full of inner duality and frustration, using muscular force for his techniques. He never even once spoke about harmony, Ki, inner peace, respect for all life. Yet the Aikido style the Dojo teaches is about the original style as O'Sensei created it. And yes, ofcourse also the physical aspects of Aikido play a huge role, balance between both spiritual and physical is very important.

Now, I am quite new to Aikido. But isn't it said that O'Sensei created the art with help of his spiritual insigths? (I could be totaly wrong here ).

The thing is, is that spirituality played a big role in the creating of Aikido, correct? To my experiences, I've only yet encountered one person that respects this side of Aikido, which is luckely one of the two Aikido teachers I have. Kind of like Yin and Yang .

Don't take it personal,
For it is the personal we ascend beyond.
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Old 03-26-2004, 06:59 AM   #19
David Edwards
 
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From my own limited understanding and knowledge, I'd say you're absolutely right, and what your teacher is teaching is the outer shell of Aikido without the inner beauty. And even dismissing spirituality, for those who do not consider themselves spiritual people, he shouldn't be using physical strength for his techniques, and he certainly shouldn't come across as an agressive person, no?

And as for O Sensei, he had several spiritual enlightenments, the most notable one being at the age of 42, IIRC, which was the turning point for his Aikido, and the point at which it is generally recognized that he became the invincible martial artist that he is remembered as.

It's a kind of magic
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Old 03-26-2004, 07:24 AM   #20
Buddy Iafrate
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With the clarification you have provided Jop, I would suggest finding another dojo and taking a demo class if you can.

I think you can judge from the responses that you are not experiencing all of Aikido. I also think alot of the aggressive responses you got are due to the misconception that the Aikido you are experiencing, is typical of *all* Aikido. I'll testify, it's not the case at all =)

Good luck in your search, I hope you can find a dojo that fits your needs.
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Old 03-26-2004, 08:02 AM   #21
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Maybe I'm just stupid but...... are we talking about philosophy, religion, or spirituality? I don't even really know what spirituality is, so I don't know if I have it in my training or not. I can tell you that I don't believe "spirits" play a role in my training. I think around the world these days, you don't have a lot of people practicing the shinto religion. I don't practice shinto and I don't think it denegrates my training. As far as philosophy goes, that's a hot topic that gets people riled up. If you don't agree with the philosophy of your aikido instructor, find somewhere else to go. I know that if I went to a dojo where the instructor was all about ripping peoples arms from their sockets for calling them a bad name, then I would cease to go there. I don't think I have the authority to say that it's "wrong" aikido, but I do have the authority to say that it's "wrong" for me.

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 03-26-2004, 08:18 AM   #22
SeiserL
 
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IMHO, too often in our society we are stuck with an either/or dilemma. Most schools teach the "martial" or they teach the "spiritual". Some teach by example and some by lecture. Very few teach both. Just a very personal politically incorrect observation.

All teachers can only present what they know, their own way. The rest, in both martial and spiritual practice, is up to us.

IMHO, our lack of spirituality is that we rely too much on the teacher and not enough on our own openness and willingness to train.

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 03-26-2004, 09:27 AM   #23
David Edwards
 
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Quote:
Lynn Seiser (SeiserL) wrote:
IMHO, our lack of spirituality is that we rely too much on the teacher and not enough on our own openness and willingness to train.
Hmm...

"The instructor teaches only one small aspect of the art. Its versatile applications must be discovered by each student through incessant practice and training"

Sound familiar?
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Old 03-26-2004, 10:48 AM   #24
gstevens
 
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Hmm

Maybe I am too new at this? I have been practicing for about three months now. I find that if I clear my mind before class, and focus on the techniques with mindful repetition (Not that I am always able to pull this off mind you.) I always seem to have some insight walking or driving home after class. It is like my body learned some new philosophical thing, and then later gave it to my mind.

OR

Sensei will say something like Guide your uke to the mat, don't throw them. Or Are you working also against your own energy when the uke comes in? Then a little buzzer goes off in my head that says Oh this is like that situation at work, am I getting off the line of the energy of .... Or Hey am I moving from my center in the rest of my life, or am I off balance mentally and emotionally as well as physically? Do I lead people or try to push them over with superior might?

Maybe this is just good Old Socrates "The Unexamined Aikido Is Not Worth Practicing?" "The unexamined life is not worth living?"

I have sat through several church services in my time. When I got up to leave, I was just as out of balance, and out of touch with my body as when I started, only my legs were asleep from sitting on a hard wood bench.

Guy



Last edited by gstevens : 03-26-2004 at 11:02 AM.
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Old 03-26-2004, 12:13 PM   #25
shihonage
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Quote:
Jop den Daas (k&#039shi) wrote:
I encountered an agressive man, full of inner duality and frustration, using muscular force for his techniques. He never even once spoke about harmony, Ki, inner peace, respect for all life.
I'm curious, how do you know that he's using muscular force only ?

Moreso, does that mean that all the other students also use muscular force ?
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