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Old 12-02-2004, 09:01 PM   #26
CNYMike
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Quote:
Michael Fooks wrote:
.... In trying to emulate O'sensei's later Aikido, often withtout a strong combat art in our own background, are we trying to reach the end point of his evolution without going through the same evolutionary process he did? Is it possible to do that, or should we be starting with harder more combat like training and look to advance to the level of aiki he acheived through that training? Or is it indeed possible to say Ueshiba did that development work for us and we can pick up more or less where he got to?
How long do you think that would take?

I just checked the biography of O Sensei in AIKIDO: THE WAY OF HARMONY by John Stevens under the direction of Shirata Rinjiro. The book describes the revlation or moment of enlightenment O Sensei had in 1925, when he was 42 years old. Even then before then, apparently, he viewed martial arts training as a spiritual endeavor; he criticized his old Aikijutsu sensei for teaching things "too combat oriented." And that was in the 1920s.

When did O Sensei finally call his art Aikido? The 1940s. When did "old man Aikido" begin to assert itself? Even years after that, after WW2. And O Sensei had been doing martial arts since his late teens.

So I think it's fair to say that O Sensei's evolution was something that happened over the course of a 60 or 70-odd year career in the martial arts. He wasn't a brawler who suddenly took a more siritual take on things in his 60s or 70s; he'd been heading that way his whole life. Trying to emulate his path might take about as long, would require you to study the same arts he did, and even then, you might not get the same result he did, because you're not him.

Oh, and there's a picture of O Sensei and Kisshomaru preparing to meditate under a waterfall on page 19 of BEST AIKIDO -- THE FUNDAMENTALS. O Sensei and his son are dressed only in shorts; the picture is from behind, but you can see his trademark white beard. Whilst O Sensei is no Ahhhhnold, he's got some pretty-well defined muscle groups. You don't see that in most photos of him because gis are slightly baggy. Either way, I'd hardly say he was frail in his "declining years."

Beyond that, I agree with the othe poster who says it doesn't matter to much. If you're really worried about Aikido's combat ability and/or want to acquaint yourself with other ranges of combat, crosstrain in something else. Otherwise, don't worry about it. Got to train in friendship.
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Old 12-02-2004, 09:26 PM   #27
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

My point is not that we should try and live O'sensei's life in order to become him. That would be silly. Merely asking whether we place too much emphasis on Aikido being what O'sensei was doing, and how he was doing it in his later years when there are a few steps we have to go through to get there first.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 12-02-2004, 09:39 PM   #28
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Agree completely.

Ueshiba M.'s Aikido was the culmination of his life. Even comprehending that Aikido requires a parallel journey, doing it definitely does.

Quote:
Michael Fooks wrote:
My point is not that we should try and live O'sensei's life in order to become him. That would be silly. Merely asking whether we place too much emphasis on Aikido being what O'sensei was doing, and how he was doing it in his later years when there are a few steps we have to go through to get there first.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 12-02-2004, 10:23 PM   #29
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Peter, I was commenting on the last part of the article, not anything you said. I'm just not a very good aiki-fruitie not to share my irritation! He probably meant partner dancing and while I admit it is jvery much like tango with throws, it still ain't dancing!

Q
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Old 12-02-2004, 10:38 PM   #30
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Tango is pretty tough at high levels too. The poster probably meant dance as understood in the vernacular which refers to a series of moves with no particular intent. I guess dance is a lot like Aikido in this respect also - those looking in from the outside often have no idea.

I also seem to remember some of the dancers at the London School of Contemporary Dance talking in a similar fashion about many of the Spring and Summer seminar students. Pretty scathing.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 12-03-2004, 04:19 AM   #31
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Quote:
Those who are true traditional Aikidoists will take no offence at this article, yet the dancers will probably be offended. I care little for their feelings...
Is it just me or does 'true traditional aikido' mean 'my aikido'?

Reading the word 'dancer' in context ensures that we can see it is certainly meant to be an insult. Mr Ellis certainly is a good advocate for his own interpretation of Aikido. As an advocate for Aikido per se, there is no doubt that he leaves a lot to be desired.

Perhaps it would be better if he were to limit his observations to his own Aikido, thus restraining his apparent underlying aggression and antipathy towards people who I am sure, could care less.

As I said earlier, if proponents of Mr Ellis could provide a link where he says some nice things it would ameliorate certainly my own opinion of him which basically seems to be an angry old man who was once an angry young man. I am sure they could care less though

Tis the season to be jolly tra la la la la....la la la la (Jun: no Santa smiley?)

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Old 12-03-2004, 04:38 AM   #32
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Quote:
Nick Pittson wrote:

And why/how did Abbe sensei leave?
FWIW people have been asking how and why Abbe Sensei left the UK, I think I can answer that, though its more important to know that he left and came back and spent the remainder of his life here.

He introduced Aikido to the UK in 1955, in that time he was the head Budo teacher in Britain and also an important figure in the rest of Europe. By the 1960's he had appointed several people as the chief instructors of various different budo in the UK, Tomio Otani was in charge of Kendo I believe, Tomio's father Masutaro Otani and brothers were for Judo, I think possibly Harada Sensei may have been karate, and AFAIK Ken Williams was the chief Aikido instructor.
Sometime in 1964 Abbe returned to Japan for the olympics held in Tokyo that year. Whilst there he visited O Sensei to pay his respects. He also asked O Sensei to send a young Aikidoka to oversee the teaching of Aikido in the UK ( he did this without the knowledge of anyone in the UK), this was what ended up sending Chiba Sensei to the UK in 1966.

When Abbe returned things had gone a bit sour, Masutaro Otani (who Abbe regarded as every bit his equal as far as Judo was concerned) and he had some disagreements as to how Judo should be run in the UK, this lead to a split in the BJC.
Also, the appearence of Chiba Sensei put a few noses out of joint in the more senior British Aikidoka who had been in charge of running things, this also lead to a split, and incidentally one of the consequences of this was Ken Williams later joining Tohei Sensei's organisation after Tohei left the Aikikai.

Thats how Aikido first became fractured in the UK, a few of the original students of Abbe are still around, Henry Ellis being one of them.

AFAIK Abbe sensei spent the last part of his life in the UK, by the time he was quite old and frail he had apparently lost one or two marbles, and it has been alleged that a few Judo teachers in the UK got some of their Dan certificates signed over breakfast by a man who didn't know what he was signing.

Mike Haft

PS - If anything above is amiss and anyone actually involved with any of the people mentioned can correct me please feel free to do so. The above is what I've gleaned from various sources over the years and much may be anecdotal.

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
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Old 12-03-2004, 06:14 AM   #33
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Quote:
Michael Stuempel wrote:
Interesting arcticle.

It doesn't really seem to have any bearing on whether Aikido is or is not a martial art, but is a story of how one man started Aikido. I enjoyed it. I especially liked the thing with the knife on page 2

--Michael
Hello Michael,

I have a different take on the knife story. Chiba Sensei came to the UK for a summer school in Bangor, Wales, and I took him to London to have his application to live in the US processed by the US Embassy. I don't recall the date exactly, but I am pretty sure it was in 1979. We parked the car in Grosvenor Square and we got out. Suddenly Sensei remembered something and asked to go back to the car. As I opened the door, he bent down and sheepishly removed the knife from his shoe. I was rather stunned and we later had a serious conversation about why shihans of a supposedly defensive martial art needed to carry concealed weapons. I can assure you that the idea of offering the knife to the prospective attacker for a 'good clean fight, fought according to all the bushido virtues' did not figure at all in the conversation.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 12-03-2004, 11:34 AM   #34
CNYMike
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Quote:
Michael Fooks wrote:
My point is not that we should try and live O'sensei's life in order to become him. That would be silly. Merely asking whether we place too much emphasis on Aikido being what O'sensei was doing, and how he was doing it in his later years when there are a few steps we have to go through to get there first.
I think I see what you're saying.

Well, depending on what 'form' of Aikido is available in your area, doing those "few steps" might involve doing something else, but then you're getting into cross-training again. Even then, every martial art has something to offer; even "old man Aikido" may have something for your bag of tricks, you just have to let it find you. Which may be why my Kali instructor all but shoved me in the dojo door when I told him I was getting back into Aikido.
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Old 12-03-2004, 01:04 PM   #35
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

I think the beauty of Aikido is that it lets you craft yourself into anything you want (and a few things you probably did not expect). If you hope to become a badass fighter, that way is certainly open to you. If you wish to become a pensive humanist, that is surely available as well. It seems that in this article Ellis is criticizing other humans not for practicing Aikido wrong (if you can imagine a way to do that), but instead for having different motives them his own. I will stop there.
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Old 12-03-2004, 08:34 PM   #36
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Quote:
Benjamin Edelen wrote:
I think the beauty of Aikido is that it lets you craft yourself into anything you want (and a few things you probably did not expect). If you hope to become a badass fighter, that way is certainly open to you. If you wish to become a pensive humanist, that is surely available as well. It seems that in this article Ellis is criticizing other humans not for practicing Aikido wrong (if you can imagine a way to do that), but instead for having different motives them his own. I will stop there.
Hi Ben,

IMHO, you should read the article again in a broad prospective. I agree with you that some students and even instructors practice aikido with a "badass fighter" attitude. But real bad bad ass fighters will not even touch aikido - not in its current state. Coming from other MA disciplines before I started aikido, I can be a badass fighter if I wanted to. My purpose of doing aikido is to drop that "badass fighter" image but I do not agree or intend aikido be branded/imaged a "fake" martial art.

O sensei, his son and many many of the top shihan (past & present) had said that Aikido is first and foremost a martial art - budo - and it should taught that way first and foremost.

I don't know Mr. Henry Ellis personally, I don't question his motives. Whatever his motives, we all have a limited time on this Earth - my motive (while still alive) is that aikido be passed on to future generations intact with all the martial elements, culture and philosophy.

That's my 2 sen.

Regards

David Y

PS You honestly believe that aikido is dance, then you should be leading (the partner) all the time despite whether he/she (the uke) starts on his/her right foot or left foot and from whether directions. At certain dojo I visited, I always tried to keep my laughter inside whenever, an instructor stops and tells his student, "You are attacking me wrongly". What would I do in my position? Just take the attack as it is and if there is a need to explain the "wrong" attack, explain it later. Most time, they can't even tell the difference between an attack in fit of anger and or an attack in a sparring sense - that's why I tried not LOL. Understanding budo makes the difference.

Last edited by David Yap : 12-03-2004 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 12-03-2004, 10:32 PM   #37
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Hello Michael,

I have a different take on the knife story. Chiba Sensei came to the UK for a summer school in Bangor, Wales, and I took him to London to have his application to live in the US processed by the US Embassy. I don't recall the date exactly, but I am pretty sure it was in 1979. We parked the car in Grosvenor Square and we got out. Suddenly Sensei remembered something and asked to go back to the car. As I opened the door, he bent down and sheepishly removed the knife from his shoe. I was rather stunned and we later had a serious conversation about why shihans of a supposedly defensive martial art needed to carry concealed weapons. I can assure you that the idea of offering the knife to the prospective attacker for a 'good clean fight, fought according to all the bushido virtues' did not figure at all in the conversation.

Best regards,
Hi Peter,

Thanks for clearing that up. When I read the arcticle the first time I just took the story as one of those exagerations that turn into a piece of folklore or an urban myth. It just didn't seem smart.

I almost commented the first time about how if that was actually said, I would have thought he would have been joking (and I would have laughed) in order to downplay his having the knife. But since I don't know the parties involved I didn't want to put words into their mouths.

Thanks again for the insight.

cheers,

--Michael

Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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Old 12-03-2004, 11:28 PM   #38
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

We could discuss how teacher A is teaching a martial art, while teacher B is teaching a dance, while teacher C is teaching a spiritual practice for as long as there are at least three living instructors. The measure of a martial artist has nothing to do with the hanmi he prefers his attacker to assume, rather it is how he touches the lives of the people around him. No amount of preparation will stop a 165 grain .40S&W Remington Golden Saber, so now would be the time to stop thinking that anyone can defend themselves anywhere, anytime, ever again. The only reason anyone is alive right now is because someone else is letting them live. Aikido cannot be for protecting yourself, because that is a feat that cannot be achieved. This is not an easy fact to digest, but once we get over imagining that we are the masters of our own destiny, we can get on with making the world a better place.
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Old 12-04-2004, 12:19 AM   #39
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

The article just seemed like marketing to me for the school. And following the link provided to the school's website where there are a lot of videoclips to watch, the article matters even less to me. If the goal is an effective martial art, well, I just don't see it from these videos.

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Old 12-04-2004, 02:59 AM   #40
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Quote:
Benjamin Edelen wrote:
It seems that in this article Ellis is criticizing other humans not for practicing Aikido wrong (if you can imagine a way to do that), but instead for having different motives them his own.
That's a very polite way of putting it!

I've seen how Mr Ellis demonstrates his 'Aikido' and it's very rough and uncontrolled. Your practice really does reflect your personality and beliefs.

What's sad is that he instills his confrontational attitude into his students, and openly says that his students could wipe the floor with anybody else's students..

I feel very sorry for those who have lost the way of Aikido and just want to fight.

Ruth
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Old 12-04-2004, 04:08 AM   #41
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Quote:
Michael Stuempel wrote:
Hi Peter,

Thanks for clearing that up. When I read the arcticle the first time I just took the story as one of those exagerations that turn into a piece of folklore or an urban myth. It just didn't seem smart.

I almost commented the first time about how if that was actually said, I would have thought he would have been joking (and I would have laughed) in order to downplay his having the knife. But since I don't know the parties involved I didn't want to put words into their mouths.

Thanks again for the insight.

cheers,

--Michael
Hello Michael,

Yes, the crucial factor on that occasion was that the US Embassy had metal detectors at the entrance. Sensei did not ask to return to the car till he saw them. He explained the knife as an essential part of the modern samurai's wardrobe. Saito Sensei was an expert with the shuriken, which are also very easy to conceal. But I doubt whether he regularly carried one concealed in his shoe.

Anyway, I was stunned by the fact that my main aikido sensei regularly carried an offensive weapon (under UK law) and saw no contradiction with the normal emphasis laid on the totally defensive nature of aikido.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 12-04-2004, 09:50 PM   #42
Charles Hill
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
we later had a serious conversation about why shihans of a supposedly defensive martial art needed to carry concealed weapons
Prof. Goldsbury,

Could you give any details of that conversation?

Thanks
Charles Hill
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Old 12-05-2004, 07:48 AM   #43
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Quote:
Charles Hill wrote:
Prof. Goldsbury,

Could you give any details of that conversation?

Thanks
Charles Hill
Hello Charles,

No. Not in a public forum. The conversation was part of a much longer conversation relating to Chiba Sensei's own personal approach to aikido training. I mentioned it in this thread as a response to the suggestion that Sensei carried a knife to offer his opponents the chance to have a clean fight, according to western ideas of fair play.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 12-05-2004, 10:00 PM   #44
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Quote:
Sean Orchard wrote:
Hi Rupert,

I'm curious, what was Kyushindo as a martial art?

I've really only heard of Kyushindo as a system of philosophy - I spent some time as a lad training in a BJC dojo with an extraordinary judo instructor who was a student of Abbe's for a while. Sean
x
In 'our' Kyushindo we learned Aikido, Judo, and a little Karate and Kendo. I say 'our' because other places seem to do whatever they do based on what their teacher can do - logical really, I suppose. One friend of mine, for example, did Kyushin Karate (elsewhere). Another guy I know did Kyushin Judo (elsewhere) - I tried it a few times - it looked pretty much the same as standard Judo but with a far greater emphasis on learning good technique and katas, yes, Judo katas.

In 'our' Kyushindo Judo, we learned things like kime-no-kata, goshi-jutsu-no-kata, nage-no-kata - and we had far less emhasis on fighting then the pure Judo Kyushindo school did. We also did all the standard Aikido techniques and used terminology such as first form (ai-hanmi) / second form (gyaky-hanmi) for the attacks. Back then - mid 80s, several schools still used that system (Institute of Aikido, for example - well - my teacher did). The aim of Kyushindo, as we were often told, was to put it all together (our total knowledge) to make practical self-defence, which at the time was called Atemi-jutsu. So, for us, Judo+Aikido+Karate=Self Defence. The style was quite soft and I like to think I learned a lot of useful stuff/ideas there. There were lots of nice Jujutsu style nasty techniques - how to smash the enemy efficeitnly etc. Mixing stuff together was fun - To start, think: Ai-hanmi O-goshi, and so on. Philosophy ? We had concepts such as Banbutsu Ryuten, dealt with tecnhiques using yin-yang ideas, and also learned shiatsu.

PS Say "Hello" to Scott

Last edited by Rupert Atkinson : 12-05-2004 at 10:08 PM.
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Old 12-07-2004, 07:17 PM   #45
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Hi Rupert,

Interesting stuff. We spent quite a lot of time working on kata at the (pure) judo class I was at, but then the instructor was probably a bit keener on kata than most of his peers.
I'd love a chance to go back and look at them again, in the light of a few years aikido training. (Especially the kime no kata and the goshin jutsu no kata, I think bits of them that I vaguely remember being totally baffled by at the time would make a lot more sense now.)
Not much chance of doing that though, sadly the judo instructor I had back in those days is no longer with us, and judo teachers who can teach that stuff are few and far between indeed around here.
I'll pass on your regards to Scott.
Cheers.
Sean
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Old 12-07-2004, 07:52 PM   #46
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Hello, Jun.
To the extent of what I can see in the article, the people who are viewing Aikido show a strong connotation of aving never taken a single lesson of Aikido. There are a variety of practical factors in the techiques and movements that reflect off of the deep and profound philosophy deeply rooted in Aikido. Namely, what my sensei tells me that the ultimate lesson in Aikido is that you cannot force your way. if Aikido does not seem to be practical to you, or not able to be announced as a "martial" art, then there might be some confusion in connecting philosophy and technique. Meaning: You may not be noticing the beauty behind not fighting. Lead the attack! Don't fight it. Be at harmony with your assailant(s), not trying to understand HOW to be at harmony with them.
Aikido is no mere "art" or "dance." It is an ingenious creation with tremendous use in its techniques and sphericity. To put them to proper use, one must not TRY to understand how to use Aikido: One must simply do. Water doesn't think or calculate how to flow around the rocks in a river, it simply flows and travels around them. Try to imitate the water. O'sensei accomplished that... wouldn't he be proud to see us do the same?
-Nick
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Old 12-07-2004, 07:59 PM   #47
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Not a bad first post Nick - welcome.

Just to point out that the guy who wrote the article has been practicing Aikido for quite a while. His chosen point of reference are certain Aikido Shihans that approach their art with similar views to his own.

Quote:
Nicholas Ross wrote:
To the extent of what I can see in the article, the people who are viewing Aikido show a strong connotation of aving never taken a single lesson of Aikido.
Cheers

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 12-08-2004, 11:11 AM   #48
Dan Gould
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

I don't consider myself a dancer. I find it amusing that despite doing aikido for 50 years, he calls practioners "aikidoists." Surely the term is aikidoka? If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but if I'm right, I think that undermines his extensive knowledge in the field.

So, he tells a couple of stories then says "Oh, btw, most people today can't fight for crap"? I don't think aikido was ever about really kicking ass, surely? Ueshiba was a spirutual and peace loving man who formed the art to defend oneself and grow spiritually, while stopping an attack without permanent damage? I'm going by what I've read in the past, obviously I never knew the bloke

Where exactly does his "debate" come into play? Aikido to my mind is a martial art, in that it's an art based on dealing with an attacker, but it's done in a way that isn't intended to really damage the opponent, right? *shakes head* I've lost the thread again, sorry.
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Old 12-08-2004, 11:31 AM   #49
Rocky Izumi
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Quote:
Dan Gould wrote:
I don't consider myself a dancer. I find it amusing that despite doing aikido for 50 years, he calls practioners "aikidoists." Surely the term is aikidoka? If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but if I'm right, I think that undermines his extensive knowledge in the field.
The term Aikidoka is usually reserved for professional Aikido practitioners.

Rock
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Old 12-08-2004, 12:52 PM   #50
kironin
 
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Dojo: Houston Ki Aikido
Location: Houston,TX
Join Date: Aug 2000
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Re: Article: "Is Aikido a Martial Art?"

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
Not a bad first post Nick - welcome.

Just to point out that the guy who wrote the article has been practicing Aikido for quite a while. His chosen point of reference are certain Aikido Shihans that approach their art with similar views to his own.
Cheers

still, from the mouth of babes ...

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