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Old 09-16-2004, 03:48 PM   #1
L. Camejo
 
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Exclamation Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Hey folks,

I've been recently speaking with a friend of mine who does Shodokan Aikido in another country and I came across something that was both interesting and disturbing.

I was informed of a story where a young mudansha student of Shodokan of about 1-2 years training had to move to another area for school and as a result, needed to train at a dojo of another style. On asking the instructor about training he promptly indicated to the individual that he couldn't train at that dojo because he trained in Tomiki style and "that is not Aikido". He was not given more of an explanation and promptly asked to leave.

From my own research it appears that the dojo had an adjacent Shinto shrine as well, so they may have been very deeply involved in the "spiritual" aspects of Aikido as taken from a Shinto perspective. For now I'll refrain from mentioning which style this dojo belonged to. It's interesting though that the "we are the one and only true path" way of thinking can exclude people to this degree, in a Budo that holds harmony and tolerance as some of its core tenets.

Imho I don't see what a person's training in another style has to do with one's current training in a new dojo, regardless of martial art. I have heard that discrimination occurs for different sexes at some dojo, but never for one's prior training history.

So I was wondering if anyone of any Aikido group had ever experienced or heard of this sort of phenomenon during their time of training.

Onegaishimasu.
LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 09-16-2004, 05:09 PM   #2
Bronson
 
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

That's too bad

I wonder what would have happened if he'd gone to this instructor and went on about wanting to leave the "evil" aikido behind him and get on the "true" path to enlightenment?

The closest to that I've heard of is an aikido instructor not allowing his students to study any other style of aikido, or even, any other art at the same time his students were training with him.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 09-16-2004, 05:10 PM   #3
suren
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Hi Larry,

I can't answer your question since I haven't been in such situation or heard about it. I would like to add a question which is clos to the one you gave. As I could see Aikido practitioners are often free to go to some other dojos to train with other teachers to gain more experience. For example when I traveled to San Diego for 5 days I was advised by my sensei to visit another particular dojo which was also Iwama style. And as I understand the person going to another dojo is not paying for his visits. I'm wondering if that would be the same with some other style dojo. Let's say the instructor in the dojo does not know your instructor and practices another style. What would happen then? Would you be allowed to train with them without quitting your dojo and if so would you be charged for that?
Thanks.
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Old 09-16-2004, 05:36 PM   #4
Richard Elliott
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Hello Larry,

Yeah, that sounds unusual. But clannishness, elitism, etc., can lead to some pretty strange bonding between people whether it is MA, politics, religion, race, whatever. It can happen anywhere or anytime given the right conditions. Sometimes, I believe, the quest for "Purity" "Perfection" the "perfect" vision" can lead people to go . . . over the top. I don't know if that is what was happening with the dojo you mentioned, but it would be interesting (well, probably not) to get into a conversation with someone in that dojo just to see what some of their verbal and nonverbal assumptions reveal. I have got a feeling their assumptions might be ALL-TOO-COMMON.

I once got a little "stung out" trying to hunt down and APPROPRIATE something I considered "that Perfect One".
Let me just say, did you ever read Moby Dick.

Us and Them...

I don't blame people who being atheist, agnostic, or find the "religious dimension" of their lives fulfilled in nature, science or "the humanistic world" for getting exasperated at religious rhapsodizing about the "spiritual" dimension of everything, esp. MAs. The truth is I do too, although I am a Christian and really try to do my best.

Most of these people that get stuck in that clannish, elitist, frozen attitude find simple things unually hard: like saying "I'm sorry", "I made a mistake" "You were right" "Help"
"I might not be the strongest kid on the block" etc,. etc..

The truth is there are indeed some good reasons for being exclusive about who to include in some dojos or any organization, but these reasons can not be because someone is beneath contempt or unworthy as a person or can never change. It may be that for particular reasons and purposes of an organization a particular prospect may not be well-suited at that time.

If you wish to do some thinking on this subject of elitism or clannishness you might begin consulting Robertson-sensei's essay "Aikido and Group Sects". It offers some comments to begin thinking on this topic.

Sorry if this response seems to roam or ramble, but I'm a roamin, ramblin man! Oh God! I think I did have a point somewhere.

Last edited by Richard Elliott : 09-16-2004 at 05:38 PM.

Respectfully, Richard
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Old 09-16-2004, 10:26 PM   #5
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Thanks for your replies folks. Good stuff to think about so far.

Quote:
As I could see Aikido practitioners are often free to go to some other dojos to train with other teachers to gain more experience. For example when I traveled to San Diego for 5 days I was advised by my sensei to visit another particular dojo which was also Iwama style. And as I understand the person going to another dojo is not paying for his visits. I'm wondering if that would be the same with some other style dojo. Let's say the instructor in the dojo does not know your instructor and practices another style. What would happen then? Would you be allowed to train with them without quitting your dojo and if so would you be charged for that?
Hi Suren, as far as our dojo goes, all visitors are welcome and they have all trained for free so far regardless of style of Aikido or martial art. Unless they plan to stay for an extremely long time and actually join the dojo I tend not to charge folks . To me it's all part of the spirit of building links and bonds within the Art. When I've trained at Aikikai dojos abroad I've not been charged for the training as they knew I was visiting only for a few weeks. It may be different elsewhere though.

Quote:
The truth is there are indeed some good reasons for being exclusive about who to include in some dojos or any organization, but these reasons can not be because someone is beneath contempt or unworthy as a person or can never change. It may be that for particular reasons and purposes of an organization a particular prospect may not be well-suited at that time.
Hey Richard, I agree totally on your point above. There may be exclusion of certain groups for certain reasons. I think Ueshiba M. himself used to interview folks before teaching them Aikido so as to get a feel for the character of the person who wanted to learn. But the case I'm, referring to is sort of like "we walk the one true path and you are not worthy" which to be honest I have heard before from one person, but even among those who believe they walk the one true Aikido path, they tend to be willing to "convert" the "heathens" to their way of doing things y'know?

I mean, we don't discriminate when folks from other styles like Karate, Judo etc. come to train with us, why should we discriminate within Aikido itself? It's just something that's a bit shocking to me is all.

Thanks for the comments so far.

LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 09-16-2004, 11:27 PM   #6
Brad Darr
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Not that I agree with it but I think the source of the discrimination may result from Shodokan/Tomiki style including competition. The oft quoted line by Osensei about Aikido being non-competative is taken very seriously by some people, and I think that may be the reason for the ignorant sensei to say that "Tomiki style is not aikido", just a thought. I have heard similar things at seminars about how Tomiki style is just a sport and it only builds muscle and hurts people. It is amazing how ignorant people can be.

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Old 09-16-2004, 11:52 PM   #7
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Quote:
Brad Darr wrote:
Not that I agree with it but I think the source of the discrimination may result from Shodokan/Tomiki style including competition. The oft quoted line by Osensei about Aikido being non-competative is taken very seriously by some people, and I think that may be the reason for the ignorant sensei to say that "Tomiki style is not aikido", just a thought.
It's not just him - Moriteru Ueshiba said the same thing. Whether he's ignorant or not depends on which side of the question you fall on, I suppose.

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-17-2004, 02:11 AM   #8
happysod
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Indeed, the anathema that is shodokan/tomiki must be rooted out and shown to be the heresy it truly is - runs off laughing into the purity of ki (this drive-by fundamentalist insight was brought to you by the people with no brain and less humour).

Larry, what can I say but you sometimes don't have to cross styles to find arseholes who only teach the one true way, I've met that attitude within an association before - cross dojo wars... Let's face it, if you met a teacher with that narrow an attitude what could you possibly hope to learn anyway. At least with an up-front moron like this you get out of a bad situation rather quickly, it's the more subtle "my shit don't stink 'cos I'm righteous" groups that I worry about more as you can find yourself entertaining their ridiculous credo almost seriously without judicious additions of common sense and outside viewpoints...
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Old 09-17-2004, 02:31 AM   #9
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Ian,

Hear hear. We agree once more.

Larry,

This is ridiculous. Thankfully those idiots are in the minority and everytime I have cross-trained I was always treated well.

The people who understand, understand prefectly.
yann@york-aikido.org York Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-17-2004, 02:40 AM   #10
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
Moriteru Ueshiba said the same thing.
To be fair he is in the actual position of being keeper of the faith.

Never met Moriteru Ueshiba but I suspect he would not be as rude as the unnamed instructor.

As a Shodokan person I have always been treated very well by high ranking Aikikai (and other styles) of Aikido (several at Shihan level) and always let on the mat. In two instances there has been the question of regular training but that really is more to do with serving two masters and under the particular circumstances it worked out for the best. One was an Aikikai Shihan with whom I maintain very cordial relations and the other a Koryu.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-17-2004, 07:29 AM   #11
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
As a Shodokan person I have always been treated very well by high ranking Aikikai (and other styles) of Aikido (several at Shihan level) and always let on the mat. In two instances there has been the question of regular training but that really is more to do with serving two masters and under the particular circumstances it worked out for the best. One was an Aikikai Shihan with whom I maintain very cordial relations and the other a Koryu.
I agree totally with Peter and Yann. My own experiences in cross training in Aikido (Aikikai, Ki Society and Yoshinkan) have all been very pleasant and I wouldn't try to exclude either the members or instructors of these dojos from training in my own. We all can learn something from someone imho.

I think Brad had a point with the "competition" thing, especially when I checked the website of the Instructor in question. In most cases I've encountered, the instructors who preach this sort of "you are not worthy" mindset tend to hold dearly onto the Ueshiba M. reference to Aikido not having competition (among a few of the obscure esoteric quotes and beliefs as well). The ignorant ones basically take this as dogma and look no further, however in my experience the majority are at least open to trying to understand the nature of the thing, even if they don't agree with it in the end, which is cool.

However, I've found that many of those who have an open aversion to "competitive Aikido" or its concepts actually compete unofficially in their dojos all the time with their peers for recognition by their Sensei, or to feel that they have a technique better than someone else, or that something is effective against a particular body type etc. But it is not as openly stated and formalised as in Shodokan, that's all. Interesting phenomenon really. I wonder if these same folks would react in the same manner to the embu style competitions found in Shin Shin Toitsu.

Good points all, especially Ian . For some reason I've been encountering this sort of Aiki-purism a lot recently and maybe in my own little reality it's appearing as if this sort of sentiment is becoming more prevalent in the Aikido world. Is it?

Onegaishimasu.
LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 09-17-2004, 07:49 AM   #12
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

IMHO, where ther are humans, there is ego. Where there is ego, there is politics. Where there is politics there is separatism.

Not everyone pratices what the philosophy teaches. Sorry to hear about the experience. Many of us need more practice to see the sameness and similiarities rather than the differences.

Foundamentally, there is only one Aikido and only one human race. We are all in this together.

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 09-17-2004, 08:28 AM   #13
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
On asking the instructor about training he promptly indicated to the individual that he couldn't train at that dojo because he trained in Tomiki style and "that is not Aikido"
From my experiences, there are big differences in the training methods of the two styles. I don't feel as comfortable at the Aikikai dojos only because the training methods are so different from my own and it feels awkward to me. That being said, I don't regret any cross training I've done because it does open your eyes to other possibilities and variations that you might not see. I've found that all of the Aikikai instructors I've met have been really open and friendly.

I can see how some instructor could be apprehensive if they've never been exposed to Tomiki style, but his term "that is not Aikido" is ridiculous.

I wonder where this instructor learned this from. Most likely from his instructor.
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Old 09-17-2004, 08:57 AM   #14
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
I was informed of a story where a young mudansha student of Shodokan of about 1-2 years training had to move to another area for school and as a result, needed to train at a dojo of another style. On asking the instructor about training he promptly indicated to the individual that he couldn't train at that dojo because he trained in Tomiki style and "that is not Aikido". He was not given more of an explanation and promptly asked to leave.
I think I would be taking myself straight out of that dojo and thinking myself lucky that the instructor had revealed his colours so promptly. You get idiots in every style of martial arts.

Cheers,

Matt.
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Old 09-17-2004, 10:44 AM   #15
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Actually Tim, I never said that the dojo was Aikikai. Your experiences with Aikikai though have been similar to mine. Though I've never had a problem when training under the Aikikai's methodology.

I also agree that most times these folks learn these things from their instructors. But sometimes though, people also use social interaction media like religious groups, martial arts, sports, members' clubs etc. to express their own particular world view as well, which may not necessarily be congruent with the nature of the forum in which they are trying to express these things.

Matt, I agree with that - better to find out up front than in the midst of a kotegaeshi ukemi .

Good points.
LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 09-17-2004, 12:32 PM   #16
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

I think that the point about competition, etc., has to be equally applied to other martial arts then - as was mentioned above. I mean, would such a dojo keep out a Karateka or a Tae Kwon Do practitioner - what about a Judo practitioner? These traditions all have competitive elements, so why just pick on Tomiki? Perhaps something more sinister is afoot. Like maybe the instructor mistakenly feared someone always countering his/her techniques in front of his/her students, etc.

I'd also like to note that we are not really dealing with "freaks" here, or the occasional oddball - which is not to say that those folks don't exist, they do. But my first experience with this type of behavior came from my first instructor - a well-respected (to this day) Shidoin from the USAF. He decided one day that folks that trained occasionally at the dojo's sister school (which he established as such) in order to train with a higher ranking instructor from the same federation, could not attend a dojo Xmas party or any further classes until they all had written a formal apology to him for training elsewhere.

dmv
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Old 09-17-2004, 01:44 PM   #17
suren
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Larry,

Some replies has been talking about such people associating themselves with "pure Aikido" and Moriteru Ueshiba. I've made some research to see what is his point of view to this problem and here is what I've found in "Best Aikido" written by Kisshomaru and Moriteru Ueshiba (as I understand 2 and 3 Doshu) page 18:

Quote:
Q: Are there different schools of Aikido?
A: To be sure, there are many systems that claim to be "such-and-such Aikido", even without really knowning what Aikido is. And there are some splinter groups that have been established by former students of the Founder, with a few even going so fas as to introduce organized competition, something that is totally contrary to the spirit of Aikido. Regardless of how similar the techniques appear, if they are divorced from the spirit of the Founder it is not Aikido.
Pretty conservative isn't it? However, the very next paragraph is:
Quote:
We do not like to think that there are separate schools of Aikido. If we draw too many distinctions between different interpretations of the techniques, the universal character of Aikido will be degraded.
So as I understand the meaning is : Schools which lost "the spirit of the Founder" probably refering to Tomiki and similar styles with competition, they should not be considered Aikido. All the others despite some differences in techniques are Aikido.
That's a very simplified version, but that's what I understand from the above.
I personally would not like the leaders of the organization to be so conservative, but that's my personal opinion and maybe they are right...
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Old 09-17-2004, 01:57 PM   #18
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

With unbelievers, other arts, you know they are wrong. With heretics the corruption is more subtle and must be stamped out immediately. Just kidding.

The way I see it there is much to learn between different aikido styles as well as different instructors. There is a saying that if you see something that works then use it. Paradigm shifts or new ways of viewing aikido is not a bad thing. It provides other avenues to learn.
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Old 09-17-2004, 03:09 PM   #19
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Quote:
Suren Baghdasaryan wrote:
here is what I've found in "Best Aikido" written by Kisshomaru and Moriteru Ueshiba (as I understand 2 and 3 Doshu) page 18:
Hey Suren,

I can see your point based on the words given from the book.

But imho, and I may draw some flack for this - to author a book called "Best Aikido" one has to assume an extremely high degree of mastery and understanding of the art, or be extremely ignorant of what exists out there in the Aikido world.

Personally, I remember reading words of M. Ueshiba in his twilight years still regarding himself as a beginner in this concept. So it's interesting that his son (whose ability/inability to carry on the tradition may have had something to do with the Tohei split among others) and grandson can make any claims about what is "Best Aikido". Imho the mark of a true master is one who never stops learning and never assumes that he has mastered anything.

This whole Aiki-purity concept is interesting though, because I have also remembered reading accounts (which may be found in the Aikidojournal archives I believe) that more than a couple of the Founder's students had serious concerns over time with what was being taught at the Aikikai Honbu by the Founder's son and "the direction" in which the art was heading.

Pertaining to a question I asked some time ago on these Forums: Did Ueshiba M. ever categorically define what "Aiki" and "Aikido" was? If not, then all we have is interpretation, and in this case we have as many "styles" of Aikido as we have practitioners of Aikido. One cannot define what something is not unless one has defined what it is.

Senshin: What you say about the TKD, Karate and Judo practitioners not being welcome at this dojo crossed my mind as well. The fear of a Sensei having a student counter his techniques in front of class is vvery interesting, as I've found that folks who take this sort of "purity" posture are also quick to tell you how to attack and train in a way that they look good. It's funny how in many cases the absence of competition/objective testing in some ways may have helped create a breeding ground for the same ego-driven approach to training that Ueshiba M. attempted to avoid by claiming that to compete is not Aikido.

Just my thoughts.
LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 09-17-2004, 03:32 PM   #20
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
Actually Tim, I never said that the dojo was Aikikai.
Hey Larry, sorry if it came off that way. I was only relating my experiences, and the USAF is the only other aikido style I've been able to train in.
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Old 09-17-2004, 03:32 PM   #21
Chris Li
 
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
But imho, and I may draw some flack for this - to author a book called "Best Aikido" one has to assume an extremely high degree of mastery and understanding of the art, or be extremely ignorant of what exists out there in the Aikido world.
To be fair, the title is different in Japanese ("Standard Aikido"), the title seems to have changed with the English publication - much as Nariyama's "Aikido Classroom" became the "Competitive Edge".

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
Pertaining to a question I asked some time ago on these Forums: Did Ueshiba M. ever categorically define what "Aiki" and "Aikido" was? If not, then all we have is interpretation, and in this case we have as many "styles" of Aikido as we have practitioners of Aikido. One cannot define what something is not unless one has defined what it is.
He wrote an entire book about what Aiki and Aikido meant to him. Unfortunately it's only in Japanese (and very tough Japanese at that), but it's well worth the time if you get the chance.

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-17-2004, 03:35 PM   #22
Chris Li
 
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
To be fair he is in the actual position of being keeper of the faith.

Never met Moriteru Ueshiba but I suspect he would not be as rude as the unnamed instructor.
That's probably true, he's very low key and down to earth.

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-17-2004, 03:36 PM   #23
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Tim: No worries, just sounded that way. By the way - do/did you train in Shodokan/Tomiki Aikido? Your posts lend some information that you may have trained in this direction.

Chris: Thanks for the info. But then, if we have a working definition of what Aikido is, then why do we have so many interpretations even within the central structure of the Aikikai?

LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
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Old 09-17-2004, 03:40 PM   #24
suren
Dojo: Aikido of Silicon Valley
Location: Fremont, CA
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
Personally, I remember reading words of M. Ueshiba in his twilight years still regarding himself as a beginner in this concept. So it's interesting that his son (whose ability/inability to carry on the tradition may have had something to do with the Tohei split among others) and grandson can make any claims about what is "Best Aikido". Imho the mark of a true master is one who never stops learning and never assumes that he has mastered anything.
Larry,

The very same thoughts I had after reading that passage in the book. O'Senei created his own style after learning a lot from others and that assimes he was a very open minded and had no problems with switching between styles/schools/systems/etc. And I can imagine that most of these systems probably were competitive and agressive... Why Aikido should be so conservative and sometines ever ignorant to the schools with the same roots?
Maybe in their attempt to preserve the form people are trying to limit it (because their job as I understand is to save the tradition)? On the other hand by preserving the form and limiting it, the spirit can be lost.

Anyway, just some thoughts...
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Old 09-17-2004, 04:01 PM   #25
aikidoc
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Re: Aikido Separatism / Fundamentalism?

Sometimes the problem even exists within the same umbrella. I'm affiliated with the aikikai and had one of my students move to another area. He wanted to train with a hombu instructor that had a style we were working on and with an instructor in the organization. The organization instructor told him it was either or. He chose the or. This selfishness or ego centric behavior or whatever resulted in a loss of a dedicated aikido student's participation. I for one have found it invaluable to see many different perspectives on the art. I know I have my preferences but even in the aikikai there are many instructors with enough variation or differences in their paradigm of aikido that one need not want for challenges. Personally, I find limiting my knowledge to only one instructor or perspective to be too limiting. I have always encouraged my students to cross train in other styles of aikido if they have an opportunity to or want to do so.
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