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Old 09-19-2005, 12:14 AM   #1
PeterR
 
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What makes a style?

I notice on Wikipdia and Aikiwiki there is one dojo that lists itself as a style which for me at least just begs the question - what make a style?

Personally when I see a list such as Aikikai, Yoshinkan, Yoseikan, Shodokan - all have which have a strong pedigree, an international base, and a whole lot of dojos under their name - followed by a "style" with a single dojo founded by people I've never heard of, my hackles get raised.

This of course could just be me and my prejudices but generally where does one draw the line? Opinions anyone?

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-19-2005, 12:23 AM   #2
grondahl
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Re: What makes a style?

But then again is Aikikai a style?
It´s definitely an organization, but students that follow different Aikikai Shihan (Saito, Nishio, Endo) have very different styles (due to different training methods, philosophy etc).
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Old 09-19-2005, 02:30 AM   #3
Yann Golanski
 
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Re: What makes a style?

The great thing about Wikipedia is that anyone can edit it. The bad thing about Wikipedia is that anyone does! Yes, this was paraphrased from a quote about the Internet.

Peter, just create a talk page and ask for the removal of all styles that do not have a certain set of criterions. Or move them onto minor styles.

The people who understand, understand prefectly.
yann@york-aikido.org York Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-19-2005, 01:58 PM   #4
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: What makes a style?

I belong to a style that is not associated with a large organization. I cannot understand why it should bother you in the least.

We have 5 dojos and are very happy with our instructor and orginization.

Mary
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Old 09-19-2005, 03:26 PM   #5
tenshinaikidoka
 
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Re: What makes a style?

Not sure why it bothers anyone that there are individual dojo's or a group of dojo's that have a unique interpretation of Aikido. Does this mean that they are invalid because no one has heard of them? Do there have to be these long and extravagent lineage lines that I see people boast so much about? Didn't O'Sensei state that Aikido is for all mankind? I don't think that anyone's particular "style" should really matter as long as we have practioners who are staying true to the founder's ideals.

Methodology and application makes all Aikidoka's unique. Everyone interprets the movements a different way, and as such it is thier "Style". There are a number of people I ahve never heard of, but I do not think it would invalidate thier credibility or teaching ability just be because they are unknown.

My 2 cents, take it for what it is worth!!!
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Old 09-19-2005, 04:12 PM   #6
SeiserL
 
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Re: What makes a style?

IMHO, "style" (by definition a distinctive manner of expression) represents an individual's understanding, capabilities, and application.

In our case, Tenshinkai (an Aikikai style) is the distinctive individual expression of Sensei Phong Thong Dang as named directly by O'Sensei.

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 09-19-2005, 04:57 PM   #7
tenshinaikidoka
 
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Re: What makes a style?

Seiser Sensei,

I agree with you, and I hope that is what I got across (in my long winded fashion of course). Also, would like to speak with you regarding visiting/training at your dojo. Could you PM me or email me. I will be in California near the end of October early November to train with the head of my Orginazation. I would like to train with your dojo as well, if possible. Sorry, off topic!!!
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Old 09-19-2005, 05:06 PM   #8
aikidoc
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Re: What makes a style?

Why should it bother anyone? Well, I have one possible answer-a proliferation of "styles" especially by those not qualified to develop them will lead to the same problem we see in some of the other arts-where your rank means little other than in your own dojo. It's already happening where we are developing our own little "sokey dokey's" in the aikido world and calling themselves 10th dan grandmaster, soke, professor, doctor.

To me, a style should only evolve when something is unique in the interpretation of the art. That too could very well be viewed as simply an interpretation of that individual. Something truly unique. There are a lot of aikikai shihans that are unique and get dubbed as a style (Iwama, Nishio, etc.). Are they really a style or are they simply interpreting the art. As to those that break away, my impression is that it is generally political or ego-can't get promoted to the rank they think they deserve or simply cannot get along-so much for the art of harmony. Some like to blend in other arts which is ok if they hold some serious earned rank-such as Nishio.

I would really hate to see Aikido go the way of some of the other arts and get watered down and everyone in the world setting up their own little empires resulting in the art deteriorating to the point where rank becomes meaningless as a measure of quality or capability.

Just MHO.
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Old 09-19-2005, 06:32 PM   #9
tenshinaikidoka
 
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Re: What makes a style?

I agree with you John, but I think, IMHO, that rank is over rated and not respected. Rank should not be a factor in peoples training or with whom they train under. That is only my thought. Your belt, Kyu or dan rank can't save your life, but your skill can. I know what you are saying though, and I do agree. I just think that too many people place an emphasis on rank and not enough on serious training or practise!
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Old 09-19-2005, 07:25 PM   #10
Shannon Frye
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Re: What makes a style?

Provided the "art" is effective (and the teaching style works for me), personally Id rather study under a lone sensei, rather than one with a large federation/association behind him. I've encountered too many dojos that profess how good they are based on the bigger "group" that they link themselves to. Anymore, big associations just mean big politics (as well as a patch to buy and yearly membership dues)....and on the other side, anybody can form their own association to make them appear accredited.

Also, every "style" that is out there had to start somewhere. Some interpreted something differently, and TADA ..a new style was born. I wouldn't be so fast to look down on a small group that wants to do their own thing. After all, AIkido started with one man, right?

Shannon

ps. On a positive note, at least in Aikido you can't become a Grand Master in 2 years, like other "sport arts".
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Old 09-19-2005, 07:26 PM   #11
PeterR
 
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Re: What makes a style?

My own Shihan is fond of quoting - this is no Aikido style beyond the individual. I just found it a little bit disconcerting that you have a list of five or so styles that have an international breadth, Honbu in Japan (although I don't think this is a necessary criteria), more than one dojo and a founder recognized by all styles as a leading proponent of Aikido. Tacked on to the list is a dojo that meets none of these criteria but implying it is the same through the inclusion.

Visit the dojos web site.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-19-2005, 07:29 PM   #12
PeterR
 
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Re: What makes a style?

Shannon I agree about choosing your teacher - in my opinion its all about the teacher and he does not have to be associated with a particular style. That is not what put the burr in my underpants.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-19-2005, 08:42 PM   #13
Joe Bowen
 
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Re: What makes a style?

Peter, are you referring to the Iwama Ryu listing on the Aikiwiki or something else?
I haven't studied "Iwama Ryu" style of Aikido, but have met many folks that have. I also have a book and series of videos by the Two Crane dojo folks in New Jersey who are of the "Iwama Style". Both the book and the video series are excellent examples of Aikido.
I do know that the Iwama dojo itself is part of the Aikikai and is run by Isoyama Sensei. There are many different approaches by several different organizations under the Aikikai to include Nishio Sensei (who was always part of the Aikikai) and Kobayashi Yasuo Sensei.
Hirohito Saito Sensei split from the Aikikai and has started his own organization. In this split, you can say you have a different style of Aikido under the new organization's discretion.
I do agree with you that differing interpretations of various techniques by various instructors do not necessarily make a new "style" of Aikido. However, several people specify their instructors style to lend credence to themselves.
I think people make this distinction themselves, and create or perpetuate the separation from other "styles" to make themselves feel special or unique in their own practice. It could also be interpreted as a defense mechanism to isolate themselves for critics of the broader style. For example, "You don't think Aikikai style Aikido is effective? but we practice Soandso Sensei's style and it is very effective". I think you can get the picture.
Before too many people jump on my reply, this is just an example or theory as to why folks might make the style distinction within the broader context of a larger umbrella style. I personally don't make that distinction. I practice Aikikai style, even though my organization falls under the Kobayashi dojos tutelage, and my own Aikido in heavily influenced by many different interpretations of Aikido....
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Old 09-19-2005, 08:53 PM   #14
PeterR
 
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Re: What makes a style?

If you read my post Iwama Ryu in its new independent form meets all the criteria. Even before the split its inclusion as a major style was an arguable point - I sure think it is.

Jun - the site owner - modified the styles section recently. Possibly to reflect the concern I raised. I did not mention the style in question because I really don't want my comment to come across as an attack - it really is a serious question. Well at least to me.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-19-2005, 09:38 PM   #15
aikidoc
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Re: What makes a style?

It's not so much a matter of looking down on small groups. Our organization is small and my sensei does not have a big federation or anything-he is however highly respected and skilled. It's an issue of small groups splitting off and doing their own thing when they don't have the skills to do so and then promoting from within. Weak perpetuating weaker. Suddenly, we start seeing lofty ranks with 30 year olds.
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Old 09-19-2005, 11:20 PM   #16
Joe Bowen
 
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Re: What makes a style?

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
Jun - the site owner - modified the styles section recently. Possibly to reflect the concern I raised. I did not mention the style in question because I really don't want my comment to come across as an attack - it really is a serious question. Well at least to me.
Then I must have missed what you were talking about. I think that you are correct in your assessments, generally speaking.
Unfortunately, there is no real way to establish or enforce some set of criterion which would provide for new "styles". We are at the whim of popular movement. If enough people support the idea that something is a new style, then its a new style. If enough people call BS on something trying to say its a new style, then it is not. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with independent dojos, provided they have actually been taught Aikido somewhere down the line. I have personally been "taken in" by the sign on an dojo in the middle of nowhere, Kansas, which in big bold letters (bigger than any other martial art on the long list of arts on the door) said Aikido. The instructor had maybe at best attended an Aikido seminar, but at least he was up front and said, "I don't teach Aikido anymore", when I asked him about the sign.
That was a long time ago, on another continent. So, there will be folks out there promoting themselves, shamelessly capitalizing on an unsuspecting publics ignorance. Whaddya gonna do?
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Old 09-20-2005, 12:16 AM   #17
mathewjgano
 
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Re: What makes a style?

Hi peter,
I ultimately agree with your Shihan that there is no style beyond the individual, but I agree with the point I think you're making. I know there are styles of "Aikido" which claim no association with Ueshiba Sensei, which was very confusing to me when i first spoke with some of them. At first I simply refused to call them "Aikido." But now I basically take everything with a grain of salt. Coming from a rather rare "style" myself I guess I have to.
My concern isn't so much raised when i think of fairly experienced students, but it is when i think of neophytes who have little to no initial perspective. With that in mind, whenever I describe Aikido to people who are interested in learning it, I try to encourage them to see as many different styles and schools as possible. The first time I trained at a different dojo from my own I found out how diverse the lable "Aikido" can be, whether one is talking about martial application or philosophy or whatever. In fact, when training with different people within my own style I sometimes get a very different feel for a given technique. One person would tell me the "real" trick to the technique was such and such, and then another would tell me something different.
Take care!
Matt

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 09-20-2005, 02:13 AM   #18
Mats Alritzson
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Re: What makes a style?

Peter.

I'm not that good in English so I could've misinterpreted you. Are you saying Iwama Ryu is not a major style?
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Old 09-20-2005, 02:32 AM   #19
PeterR
 
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Re: What makes a style?

Quote:
Mats Alritzson wrote:
Peter.

I'm not that good in English so I could've misinterpreted you. Are you saying Iwama Ryu is not a major style?
Iwama Ryu was not part of the initial point of the thread. The aikiwiki entry had been altered which confused someone. However, in trying to correct the mis-understanding I wrote.

Quote:
If you read my post Iwama Ryu in its new independent form meets all the criteria. Even before the split its inclusion as a major style was an arguable point - I sure think it is.
As I understand things Saito M. remained part of the Aikikai. Now that his son has split from the Aikikai the ambiguity is removed. It is now a major style in its own right by the criteria I gave above. If you were to tell me that it was its own style before that - I would not argue the point. Perhaps a major sub-style would be the most accurate way of describing it but it really too fine a point to quible over.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-20-2005, 02:56 AM   #20
Mats Alritzson
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Re: What makes a style?

Peter,

I see what you mean. I don't agree with you, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. I've never trained much with people from other styles. I've trained a little with Nishio style aikidoka and although they are affiliated with Aikikai they're definitely not training the way we (from Takemusu/Iwama style) do. Having said that, I can really respect what they're doing.
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Old 09-20-2005, 04:34 AM   #21
Hanna B
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Re: What makes a style?

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
I notice on Wikipdia and Aikiwiki there is one dojo that lists itself as a style which for me at least just begs the question - what make a style?

Personally when I see a list such as Aikikai, Yoshinkan, Yoseikan, Shodokan - all have which have a strong pedigree, an international base, and a whole lot of dojos under their name - followed by a "style" with a single dojo founded by people I've never heard of, my hackles get raised.
I think the problem is, that in aikido/budo context the word "style" is used in two different meanings. One of them is techical style, different ways of doing thing, but IMO this is not the most common meaning of the word. Most of the time, when people say style, they mean "independent organisation". So, if a single dojo is not in an organisation with any other dojo - then in a way, it is a style (although maybe not important enough that it should get listed as a style in the Aikiwiki or in Wikipedia).

I can imagine that if you have a dojo and have a split with your teacher, and the ties to the organisation goes through your teacher - then the single dojo style is the only option, unless there is a second org where you are welcome to join. If organisations are closely connected to teachers, I believe this might be difficult.

In general, I find martial arts articles in Wikipedia a mess. Too many people write about their style of karate like if their grading system, sparring systems etc was applied in all styles of karate. Lack of good written sources on this kind on things, esp regards to what is karate-specific but not karate style-specific, is also a problem. Regarding the aikido article in Wikipedia - what is that huge section on ki doing in the article? while at the same time, Wikipedia doesn't have an article on ki. There is an article on qi though, the related Chinese concepts, but whether or not these are the same...
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Old 09-20-2005, 10:50 AM   #22
Shannon Frye
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Re: What makes a style?

I got to thinking - along the lines of Peters thinking, I wonder how many "renegade" teachers or "style founders" would list their "style" alongside the well established ones (on the internet somewhere) , and then claim creditibility at simply being named along with the "big guys". I see what you meant, Peter.

Shannon
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Old 09-20-2005, 11:16 AM   #23
Hanna B
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Re: What makes a style?

Is that what Peter really meant that someone had been doing? My guess is the style was put in the list by a student who saw "gee, my style isn't mentioned" and so s/he made sure it was. This person could very well have no idea at all about the size of organisations like Aikikai or Yoshinkan.
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Old 09-20-2005, 11:41 AM   #24
Darren
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Re: What makes a style?

I agree with Peter and Shannon , if you spent thousands of pounds/dollars on a rolex watch and found it didn't work because it was fake or just rubbish how happy would you be ? I think that , as is always said , the teacher should always have good history in at least one matial art to even think about founding another . I've seen some things that are basically daylight robbery.
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Old 09-20-2005, 12:25 PM   #25
j0nharris
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Re: What makes a style?

Quote:
Shannon Frye wrote:
...
On a positive note, at least in Aikido you can't become a Grand Master in 2 years, like other "sport arts".
That's right! It took me almost 3 years to become Grandmaster of the Smoke and Mirrors Boogie Woogie Waza School of Aikidoki!!
(And for only $99.95, you, too, can become a shihan)

jon harris

Life is a journey...
Now, who took my @#$%! map?!
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