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Old 03-08-2005, 01:22 PM   #51
senshincenter
 
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
David,
I don't quote words from a book, article or such...What I wrote I felt physically on me myself as uke, and I'm trying to do it as tori.

This kind of practice is difficult to explain in exact technical terms. Particularly as English isn't my first language. I think, searching for elements, as you do, it is what it is: elements. You simply can't separate those entities, as a mix of physical and non-physical elements is a heart of aikido.
I'm not sure about blending question; I suppose there are many different understanding of blending. As you progress, this understanding changes.

How about efficient techniques and compassion? I believe there is not one exact definition. In some circumstances if you kill somebody you do efficient technique with compassion.
All our training is only conditioning -- as Chiba sensei said one day. Aikido technique is created spontaneously, in the right moment, and I can't say in advance what is meaning of each element in such situation. O sensei did his techniques after being influenced by kami, may be it is quite good explanation? How the right judgment is coming in particular moment? This right judgment allows efficient techniques and compassion.

It is good to ask yourself such serious questions.


Hi Szczepan,

Thanks for the reply. Sorry for the delay in my own reply.

First off, please let me say that I think your reply is great. It is easy to tell that what you are saying is coming from your own introspections and experience. I especially like your last line. I think that is one way of looking at this whole thread and at our participation (all of us) in this thread. I like that not too much arguing has come up and that mostly we all are just asking questions of each other and ourselves. I am a firm believer that the Way must balance practice with theory (or experience with contemplation).

If I could reflect upon your mentioning of Chiba Sensei and on what others have said regarding compassion in our training -- changing topics and speaking generally…

I see now that there are indeed two ways to answer my original question. There is the way I meant it to be answered and there is the way that I actually asked it. One can answer the question in regards to what makes Aikido unique -- in that an essence is something that is unique to something else and not everything else. I was interested in reflecting upon the essence of this "thing" that is suppose to "reveal" the essence of my own person. In other words, to me, it seems paramount that we should know or be able to point toward the essence of a thing that is supposed to reveal the essence of me. That is actually how I meant the question to be understood, but I see now that I did not at all make that clear.

In fact, as I said above, I think the way I worded things is more akin to how many folks are answering it here. That is, folks are taking what I am asking literally and thereby denoting what is mandatory for Aikido to exist, regardless of whether or not it shares this "element(s)" with any other practice and/or tradition. I think both understandings are valid avenues for contemplation, but I think I should forfeit the former for another time and speak to the latter since that is more how I worded things and more how folks are now answering the question.

In this way, things like compassion come up, so too does conflict resolution, commitment, etc. These things make sense to me. I would say if we do not have them in our practice, we do not have Aikido. This is true whether we as aikidoka share these things with other practices and/or traditions or not. Without these things, as some have suggested, it does seem that Aikido would be reduced to something else. I think we can say this without exposing ourselves to the delusion of moral superiority. We can say this because it is more a statement we make about ourselves than it is a statement we make about others. When we expose ourselves directly (i.e. personally) to the idea of moral superiority, we are no longer practicing delusion. We are practicing living according to an ideal. Undoubtedly, that too is part of what Aikido has to be and/or should be: Living according to ideals.

However, for me, this all brings up another bunch of things. This occurs because while ideals (e.g. compassion, commitment, resolving conflict, etc.) are important to Aikido, they are only as important as we are able to cultivate them and to thereby put them into practice. In other words, I do not think it is enough, nor at all central to Aikido, to simply SAY, "I should have compassion," "I should resolve conflict," "I should have commitment," etc. This means, for example, that as compassion is essential to Aikido, so too then is the means by which compassion is cultivated and practiced. Naturally, the same could be said about resolving conflict, commitment, etc. Yet, having trained all over, I have not seen such significance given to this "essence" of Aikido. To be sure, there have been many places that hold the ideal verbally -- they just have no means, and no ideas concerning the means, toward cultivating the ideal at a practical level. At most, in my own experience, what we see is some sort of understanding of the architecture of waza and/or the performance of waza that can rightly be called "magical" (using Frazer's understanding of sympathetic magic). Thus, whereas virtues central to Aikido are supposed to be based in reality and actual life, they are more housed in superstition. That is to say, they come to be dependent upon some sort of talismanic logic whereby exposure to the waza themselves is thought to be sufficient in effectively transforming us from a person without compassion to a person with compassion, from a person without the capacity to resolve conflict to a person with the capacity to resolve conflict, from a person without commitment to a person capable of commitment, etc.

If Aikido waza were so empowered with talismanic energy, such that we can justify the lack of actual practices (e.g. silence, meditation, prayer, vows, obedience, spiritual mentoring, etc.) shared by countless other traditions that also speak of things like compassion, conflict resolution, commitment, etc., then are we not forced to ask, if at least of our own person, why did the Founder balance his performance of waza with the performance of these other things. Can we not also ask, if waza performance is talismanically charged, and thus capable of transforming us from a person with no or little virtue to a person of some or even great virtue, why does the Aikido world look like it does -- especially at the top (where folks have been performing Aikido for a very long time). Can we not ask, "Why was the main line born in jealousy and segregation?" Or, "Why is the Aikido world so plagued by politics?" It would seem that such superstitions regarding Aikido performance should be dropped and we should realize that we can only uphold such ideals (e.g. compassion, etc.) as high as we are able to uphold the legitimate means of cultivating them.

My own opinion, my own reflection,
dmv

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Old 03-08-2005, 02:00 PM   #52
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

While O'sensei was alive, Aikido was probably easier to define. After his death, there were so many splits in the organization, that it is impossible to find a common philosophy. People mention compassion, but if someone is attacking me, I'm thinking of survival, not compassion.

My instructor told me what separates the arts is your initial reaction to something. If you grab them and throw them, it's judo, if you block and counter it's karate, if you move off the line and flow with the attacker, it's aikido. This is a little over simplified, but it does work to define different arts.

For example if someone punches at you and you tenkan off the line of attack, then back-fist him in the face as he moves forward, are you doing karate or aikido. If you follow the previous definition, it is aikido.

What if he strikes you in the face, and you block his punch strike him in the face, grab his arm and do shiho-nage? Well that would be Karate by the previous definition.

With this definition, then what is Aikido?
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Old 03-08-2005, 02:34 PM   #53
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Quote:
What if he strikes you in the face, and you block his punch strike him in the face, grab his arm and do shiho-nage? Well that would be Karate by the previous definition.
Hmmm, sounds a lot like gamentsuki shihonage ichi...block, cut the striking arm down with a 45 degree pivot, control the wrist while you atemi to the face, then shiho...naaaahhhhhh, that would be karate then....I must have misunderstood something...


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Old 03-08-2005, 02:49 PM   #54
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

I forgot to mention that after the block there is a loud KIAAAAIIII!!!

Now that's Karate for sure!

Last edited by jester : 03-08-2005 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 03-08-2005, 04:02 PM   #55
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Well, if its shihonage osae ichi, as we pin we kiai...is it still aikido???

I am being a little facetious, but that really is the way we (yoshinkan) do that technique. I think I've given up trying to define aikido...everytime I think I've got it pinned down, it gets away from me again!

Ron (stupid aikido)

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Old 03-08-2005, 04:10 PM   #56
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Quote:
Tim Jester wrote:
People mention compassion, but if someone is attacking me, I'm thinking of survival, not compassion.

Perhaps the people that are mentioning compassion would say that if when you are attacked and you can think only of survival and thereby not of compassion, that that is not Aikido. I think, if I may say so, that is the point they are trying to make and/or suggest.

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Old 03-08-2005, 04:57 PM   #57
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

I study Tomiki Aikido, and I was not taught about compassion or ki or a lot of the aikido buzz words that I hear all the time. We don't kneel and bow to the kamiza at the start of a class, and it's a somewhat informal atmosphere.

So by suggesting that compassion is an integral part of Aikido is false. Maybe there style or instructor promotes that, but to say No Compassion = No Aikido is ridiculous. Like I mentioned earlier, while O'sensei was alive, Aikido was probably easier to define.
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Old 03-08-2005, 05:47 PM   #58
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Quote:
Tim Jester wrote:
I study Tomiki Aikido, and I was not taught about compassion or ki or a lot of the aikido buzz words that I hear all the time. We don't kneel and bow to the kamiza at the start of a class, and it's a somewhat informal atmosphere.

So by suggesting that compassion is an integral part of Aikido is false. Maybe there style or instructor promotes that, but to say No Compassion = No Aikido is ridiculous. Like I mentioned earlier, while O'sensei was alive, Aikido was probably easier to define.
Your reply, for me, begs the following questions: If not compassion, is there no deeper anything to Aikido? Is there anything else besides the architectural elements that mark Aikido - the different styles by which we attempt to survive violence? Is it in every case that we look for something deeper and/or say that something should be deeper, and if we (generally speaking) are critical of when that thing is not there, are we always being ridiculous?

If I remember correctly, Tomiki Sensei was influenced heavily by Kano Sensei. Are you really telling us that the cultivation of virtues is outside of what marks Aikido as Aikido and/or of what marks Tomiki Aikido as Tomiki Aikido?

I'm just curious mind you. Trying to understand what you are suggesting by relaying to us that your Aikido experience, which is Tomiki-based, is free of such concerns and other "buzz words."

David M. Valadez
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Old 03-08-2005, 06:05 PM   #59
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Hi, Peter,

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
The only contemporary Japanese scholar of shugyou, mind-body, elightenment I am aware of who has been translated into English is Yasuo Yuasa and the translations have been heavily edited\I gather, at the author's suggestion.
I figured as much. I read this on your suggestion; would be very interested in how it differs in English (although I probably have some guesses...)

Thanks.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 03-08-2005, 07:44 PM   #60
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
If Aikido waza were so empowered with talismanic energy, such that we can justify the lack of actual practices (e.g. silence, meditation, prayer, vows, obedience, spiritual mentoring, etc.) shared by countless other traditions that also speak of things like compassion, conflict resolution, commitment, etc., then are we not forced to ask, if at least of our own person, why did the Founder balance his performance of waza with the performance of these other things. Can we not also ask, if waza performance is talismanically charged, and thus capable of transforming us from a person with no or little virtue to a person of some or even great virtue, why does the Aikido world look like it does -- especially at the top (where folks have been performing Aikido for a very long time). Can we not ask, "Why was the main line born in jealousy and segregation?" Or, "Why is the Aikido world so plagued by politics?" It would seem that such superstitions regarding Aikido performance should be dropped and we should realize that we can only uphold such ideals (e.g. compassion, etc.) as high as we are able to uphold the legitimate means of cultivating them.

My own opinion, my own reflection,
dmv
Hello David,

Could it be that the Founder himself was aware of these kind of issues only to a certain extent? From reading Kisshomaru's biography, I have an image of Morihei Ueshiba as someone rather unpolitical, unconcerned with economic issues, but possessed of a vision to which all else was subordinated. However, the way he communicates this vision in his writings is classic 'Japanese New Religion', if you like.

Moreover, some charisimatics make provision for their charisma to be transmitted to believers by an overt methodology, and an extreme extension of this is the sacramental system we find in Catholic Christianity. Others do not, and the problem then exists of finding a way to transmit the 'charisma'. The charismatic then becomes a 'Founder' and has 'disciples', who transmit the charisma. How do they do this? The Japanese seem to place all their eggs in the basket of finding the right disciples and assuming that they will do all the right things. Those in the western spiritual tradition also look for the right disciples but also try to find a rule, which guides and also limits the freedom of the disciple / successors.

Notice that this charisma might or might not further be described as virtue. As far as I can see, those in the tradition of Kukai who went in for shugyou/shugendou in a big way did not conceive of virtue as something other than what was acquired by the shugyou. The losing of the self in shugyou was not accompanied by some other activity, with the self as the guiding principle. However in the Christian tradition, virtue is seen as a consequence, grounding the genuineness or authenticity of the shugyou, if you like. Thus, aikidoists outside Japan sometimes like to look for some direct and tangible evidence that their training is right, other than whether the techniqies actually work. The Japanese also buy into this in another way, when they state that aikido is a way to world peace. Ordinary aikidoists I meet and train with do not usually say things like this, but high-ranking shihans have a habit of coming out with this sort of thing at meetings.

I think that if you look at the politics of a religion like Omoto-kyou, with its splits and branches\right from the beginning, you might conclude that aikido has not done too badly, given the context in which it was created. I have learned by experience here in Hiroshima University that the Japanese are brilliant at acting as though political divisions do not exist, and those outside the tatemae:honne/omote-ura dynamic will suggest that they are dishonest because of this. This is not true.

Nevertheless, there is a kind of double-think among some of the Founder's deshi. One the one hand, they argue that aikido is really anarchic\it eschews any form of organization; on the other hand, it is practised by a group of people in a dojo and these same shihans are the heads of organizations and deshi of the one person in aikido\K Ueshiba, who is known as the creator of an organization.

One might get around this double-think by adding an existentialist / historical context and assuming as part of the equation that individuals become corrupt and organizations decay. So there is a mutual symbiosis between the anachists and the organizers.

Sorry, the post has become too long. However, like Szeczpan's post, with which I entirely agree, this post is based on experience, both on the mat and off it.

Best regards,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 03-08-2005 at 07:47 PM.

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Old 03-08-2005, 07:52 PM   #61
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Notice that this charisma might or might not further be described as virtue. As far as I can see, those in the tradition of Kukai who went in for shugyou/shugendou in a big way did not conceive of virtue as something other than what was acquired by the shugyou. The losing of the self in shugyou was not accompanied by some other activity, with the self as the guiding principle. However in the Christian tradition, virtue is seen as a consequence, grounding the genuineness or authenticity of the shugyou, if you like. Thus, aikidoists outside Japan sometimes like to look for some direct and tangible evidence that their training is right, other than whether the techniqies actually work. The Japanese also buy into this in another way, when they state that aikido is a way to world peace. Ordinary aikidoists I meet and train with do not usually say things like this, but high-ranking shihans have a habit of coming out with this sort of thing at meetings.
I should add that the extent to which eclectic religions like Omoto-kyou incorporated into their teaching elements of Christian morality is clearly a factor here. However, I have found no evidence of this incorporation in M Ueshiba's writings.

PAG

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Old 03-08-2005, 08:46 PM   #62
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Could it be that the Founder himself was aware of these kind of issues only to a certain extent?
Hi Peter,

Thanks for posting. Just to be sure, before I reply, could you please make clear what are "these kind of issues"? Thanks. I am assuming you are referring to the political in-fighting issues that I said could be used as a sign to determine that Aikido waza performance is void of the talismanic capacity to transform us, etc. However, I wanted to make sure.

Thanks,
david

Last edited by senshincenter : 03-08-2005 at 08:57 PM.

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Old 03-08-2005, 09:12 PM   #63
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Hi Peter,

Thanks for posting. Just to be sure, before I reply, could you please make clear what are "these kind of issues"? Thanks. I am assuming you are referring to the political in-fighting issues that I said could be used as a sign to determine that Aikido waza performance is void of the talismanic capacity to transform us, etc. However, I wanted to make sure.

Thanks,
david
Hello David,

I was referring to the three compound questions you posed in the paragraph I quoted. Not just the political infighting (which I suspect he might have taken for granted), but the issues relating to the transmission of charisma/virtue, in particular by persons other than himself.

Perhaps my posts need to be read in conjunction with stuff published in Aikido Journal. A few years ago I wrote a long piece connected with the IAF, but the arguments here are in there, at the beginning. The piece was published in the print edition of AJ.

Best regards,

PAG

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 03-08-2005 at 09:15 PM.

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Old 03-08-2005, 11:12 PM   #64
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Quote:
Tim Jester wrote:
I study Tomiki Aikido, and I was not taught about compassion or ki or a lot of the aikido buzz words that I hear all the time. We don't kneel and bow to the kamiza at the start of a class, and it's a somewhat informal atmosphere.

So by suggesting that compassion is an integral part of Aikido is false. Maybe there style or instructor promotes that, but to say No Compassion = No Aikido is ridiculous. Like I mentioned earlier, while O'sensei was alive, Aikido was probably easier to define.
I don't know Tomiki aikido, but if you want to do efficient technique without compassion, you must close all openings. Physical result of this is broken or killed uke.

If you don't close all openings, you let uke to receive technique safely, but why you do it? This reason is important. Of course you can think about uke as a THING to throw or to lock. That will be not correct, cos he is giving his body voluntary (taking risk of being hurt) to allow you learn aikido. He is human being.
So slowly, one can develop a certain kindness, some respect for him, some gratitude for his generosity.

This training situation in the dojo is a tool to learn about what is compassion. Particularly good way to learn it, is to be locked and completely on mercy of nage. You are on the eage of your physical limits. His slighter error or bad mood can cost you few months of hospital or worst. But he has compassion for you. So he open a bit his technique and you receive technique safely. If you never felt this as uke, you've never experienced efficient technique. So you can't understand at all what aikido is all about.

Nagababa

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Old 03-09-2005, 12:03 AM   #65
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Hi Tim;

At Tomiki's own dojo we do bow to Kamiza and there is a certain formality at points. True a lot of Aikido buzzwords are missing from practice but we do take care of our uke. Tomiki's own writings reflect many of the ideals expressed in other Aikido styles just in a different way.

One could say that Tomiki's approach to both techniques and philosophy is essentially minimalist. We don't carry a lot of extra baggage.

Cheers

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Old 03-09-2005, 01:37 AM   #66
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
I don't know Tomiki aikido, but if you want to do efficient technique without compassion, you must close all openings. Physical result of this is broken or killed uke.

If you don't close all openings, you let uke to receive technique safely, but why you do it? This reason is important. Of course you can think about uke as a THING to throw or to lock. That will be not correct, cos he is giving his body voluntary (taking risk of being hurt) to allow you learn aikido. He is human being.
So slowly, one can develop a certain kindness, some respect for him, some gratitude for his generosity.

This training situation in the dojo is a tool to learn about what is compassion. Particularly good way to learn it, is to be locked and completely on mercy of nage. You are on the eage of your physical limits. His slighter error or bad mood can cost you few months of hospital or worst. But he has compassion for you. So he open a bit his technique and you receive technique safely. If you never felt this as uke, you've never experienced efficient technique. So you can't understand at all what aikido is all about.
Szcepan,
In my own opinion, this series of posts you've written is the best I've read from you. I've read them and read them again. You've got some great stuff to say, thanks.
- George

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Old 03-09-2005, 09:51 AM   #67
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
If not compassion, is there no deeper anything to Aikido?
I think anyone who does martial arts is looking for something deeper, but to say it's compassion is too general. It could be confidence, exercise, spiritual etc.

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Is there anything else besides the architectural elements that mark Aikido - the different styles by which we attempt to survive violence?
Like I said earlier, your initial reactions dictate your art.

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Trying to understand what you are suggesting by relaying to us that your Aikido experience, which is Tomiki-based, is free of such concerns and other "buzz words."
One example is that I have never heard of anything being explained by using your KI.
Peter's comment that "We don't carry a lot of extra baggage" seems to ring true. I've trained at some USAF schools, and it is a different experience.

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
I don't know Tomiki aikido, but if you want to do efficient technique without compassion, you must close all openings. Physical result of this is broken or killed uke.
So if you close all openings, but practice really slow, will uke get killed? I seriously doubt it. We practice slowly, so you can internalize all of the subtleties of the technique. If you go slowly, all of your openings become more apparent so you try to minimize them.

Uke is a training partner. It is obvious that you must work with him so no one gets hurt. This is true in almost all martial arts, and isn't unique to aikido. I don't believe it is compassion at work here, I think it is more of a respect for your training partner and others around you. Uke learns to give up control and put trust in tori. Is this compassion?

Aikido in the dojo is different than aikido for self protection. My comments were based on the application of aikido as a self defense, not as a training tool.

Compassion, if you want to call it that can be left at the dojo door and will not help you once someone threatens you or your families life.

I'm not saying you have to be a non compassionate self defense zombie. Once your attacker is immobilized and can not pose a threat to you, then maybe your compassion can come out. I'm sure that no one wants to kill anyone.
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Old 03-09-2005, 10:40 AM   #68
Amir Krause
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Quote:
your initial reactions dictate your art
The way I am taught, the best reaction to an attack is to feel it before it actually started and react to the intention through some form of Irimi-Sabaki (the palm to the chin is an option, as well as an atemi). Would that make our practice Karate ?

I think not.

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
Quote:
I don't know Tomiki aikido, but if you want to do efficient technique without compassion, you must close all openings. Physical result of this is broken or killed uke.
So if you close all openings, but practice really slow, will uke get killed? I seriously doubt it. We practice slowly, so you can internalize all of the subtleties of the technique. If you go slowly, all of your openings become more apparent so you try to minimize them.

Uke is a training partner. It is obvious that you must work with him so no one gets hurt. This is true in almost all martial arts, and isn't unique to aikido. I don't believe it is compassion at work here, I think it is more of a respect for your training partner and others around you. Uke learns to give up control and put trust in tori. Is this compassion?
Most M.A. have multiple ways of practicing, including competition, and yet, only a few of the practitioners are injured. Does that make them all Aikido, as they have compassion for their training partner ?

Once Again, I think not.
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Old 03-09-2005, 10:48 AM   #69
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Quote:
Tim Jester wrote:
So if you close all openings, but practice really slow, will uke get killed? I seriously doubt it. We practice slowly, so you can internalize all of the subtleties of the technique. If you go slowly, all of your openings become more apparent so you try to minimize them.

Uke is a training partner. It is obvious that you must work with him so no one gets hurt. This is true in almost all martial arts, and isn't unique to aikido. I don't believe it is compassion at work here, I think it is more of a respect for your training partner and others around you. Uke learns to give up control and put trust in tori. Is this compassion?
Interesting discussion, I've enjoyed reading it. Thanks. A large part of my history is involved in Tomiki Sensei's teaching and philosophy along with Jigoro Kano. More recently in the past 10 years Nishioka Tsuneo Sensei has had a strong influence on me as well.

This part about compassion is important to me. Some have it, some don't. As a Buddhist, I have certain ideas about compassion that may differ from some other's definitions.

What we all really must have in order to train safely while going into dangerous places is the realization that we're training with a skilled uke (or someone that is becoming a skilled uke...) and we need to take care of each other so that we can continue to train at higher levels for a long time. Good partners are hard to find and are fairly rare. Compassion is a wonderful addition and a worthy target to reach.

Training slowly with precision in our principles is necessary. If we can't do it slowly with efficiency, we surely won't get there by adding speed and extra power. However, we must get to a place where we're approaching and operating at maximum speed with very strong effect. In order to do this we must, as Szczepan wrote, leave open an avenue for uke to survive without injury.

Think about walking very slowly into a pointed, very sharp blade. If we're going slow enough we can stop and not be injured at the point of contact. Add a bit of speed and the injury will match the speed, etc. If someone is pushing us slowly and leaving us an opening to survive we can do it over and over, however we won't get the experience that comes from strong, fast training. Slow training just up to the point of injury has a place as well as fast training just short of injury. The necessary skill level for this is obvious. At any level of training we need to leave each other uninjured. Once you get the skill, the choice to actually cause injury (sometimes that may be the way to cause the least harm in certain situations) is there by closing the openings that provide safety. One of the things about budo that I love is the ability to have that choice that goes with superior control and strategy. Compassion may be there or it may not. I believe that the highest levels possible in strategy, speed, and timing that can match your intent only come with compassionate action. True compassion may involve doing harm at an appropriate level. Uplift all beings and do as little harm as possible.

Sorry for the length of this post.

Chuck Clark
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www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 03-09-2005, 11:08 AM   #70
rob_liberti
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

I spoke to a good friend who is excellent at many martial arts. Here some some excerpts from one of our recent email conversations:

Every system has its own beat or rhythm which seems to come from the culture where it was invented and practiced. That culture dictates the mood and mind behind the art.

As soon as you introduce a different way of motion into what anyone trains a new world begins to form. That new world is often rejected because change would be required to learn from it - instead of trying to defeat it.

When someone attacks or defends using a series of bursts, I can't deal with it very well with my current level of aikido. I don't think that makes aikido inadequate, but I think it shows me where I want to focus my attention - and where it seems like no one else is interested!

In short, aikido is special because of the mind, the mood and it's rhythm(s). There is something common there. We can (and at a certain level - we should) extend all of these and learn how to evolve within the framework of the art until the framework itself evolves because it is no longer useful to our growth. (- maybe like a potted plant, where you then plant it in your backyard.)

Rob
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Old 03-09-2005, 11:42 AM   #71
happysod
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

(wanders tentatively onto this august thread, opens mouth in preparation for receiving foot..)

I've followed several threads like this very one with a lot of interest and self-reflection because I'd love to know what makes aikido special and/or unique, and I've come to one conclusion - aikido isn't special (there, I've finally said it).

When people were lyrically about the compassion and harmony of aikido, firstly I look at some of the chinese forms and then read (often the self-same people) waxing lyrically about how this or that technique can really hurt or kill man. In fact if aikido's effectiveness is every questioned, out goes the compassion and in come the atemi and wrist breaks with the gleeful abandon of ants to the picnic table.

Spirituality has oft been mentioned, but then the religious amongst us (from fundi to atheist) spring to the fray and normally an inconclusive battle is fought with tempers aroused and the flag of harmonious discourse a tattered rag flapping in the breeze.

So, it must be techniques and training methods - well here come the old guard of jujitsu and judo et all to bash that monolith and kendo's already nicked the hakama so again I'm lost.

So, aikido isn't special, except I'm lying here. It's special for one important factor in that something in it has made it special to most of us posting on this boards. For me, it's one of the few things that gives me back exactly as much as I put in and has yet to lose my interest. So I would have to answer that, without the interest in training, no aikido.
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Old 03-09-2005, 01:14 PM   #72
rob_liberti
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Good, post. You got me thinking:

What other art has the intention to do minimal harm? If challenged, the minimal harm might increase to the level that it looks a lot like the maximum harm, but there is a constant choice. I'd have to say "choice" matters and makes it special.

Rob
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Old 03-09-2005, 01:51 PM   #73
senshincenter
 
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Hi Peter,

I would undoubtedly agree that there are historical and/or institutional reasons behind the answers to the questions I posed. I also agree that the Founder's lack of involvement (at many levels) is partially responsible for the things we see or think we see. However, and this was my main point, I would say that the rhetoric that holds Aikido waza as talismanically transformative posits that all of this stuff, regardless of the historical and institutional elements, should not be present. What we should see in its place is things like compassion, conflict resolution, etc. This rhetoric on the "power" of waza performance to transform us is never presented as being merely a fair-weather kind of thing -- it is presented as being universal and/or natural (e.g. One with the laws of the Universe, One with Nature, etc.). Therefore, it should function or it is supposed to function whether the Founder had institutional foresight or not -- or so the discourse goes. I personally do not hold this view of waza and how they are suppose to transform us. What the politics of Aikido demonstrates for me is what I believe: If waza performance has the power to transform us in terms of the cultivation of virtue, it can only succeed at fair-weather levels. Thus, for anyone, any one of us, that wants to suggest that the cultivation or the presence of certain virtues (e.g. commitment, compassion, love, courage, loyalty, endurance, integrity, honor, etc.) is central to Aikido, we are going to have to uphold some practices other than waza performance as well. Yet, what do we see? Though we see an abundance of aikidoka supporting the idea that Aikido is some kind of technology of the Self (M. Foucault), we see the abundance of our training dominated solely by waza performance. To me, something seems amiss.

While I think you have presented a great topic for discussion, that of the relationship between the individual and the institution in regards to the problematic of transmission, I do not think we necessarily have to get into that topic in order to understand what I was trying to say. I do not want to dismiss what you said, and I would certainly love to discuss the issues you raised, only I think it would detract from what I was trying to suggest. For example, we can take things at a smaller level and still see the fair-weatherness of Aikido waza performance as a transformative element. In every dojo that I have ever trained in, there has been division based upon ego, fear, ignorance, a lack of compassion, jealousy, etc. There are always clicks -- not a brotherhood of Man. There are always long-standing feuds between certain members with no attempts at reconciliation. There is always division, drama, hatred, disgust, anger, envy, etc. This is not just stuff seen in the "newbie," it is fully present in folks that have been performing waza for an extremely long time (including the dojocho). The duration of waza performance in folks that are showing this lack of virtue begs us to doubt the talismanic logic behind the suggestion that waza performance alone leads to a transformation of the Self (at any kind of real level). Something else is needed -- because something else is missing. It may be a "rule" that is missing -- as you are talking about, etc., but whatever it is, it should be upheld as part of the essence of Aikido if the essence of Aikido is going to include virtues. The virtue, and the manner in which the virtue is cultivated, have to be treated equally. That equality is going to force us to seriously doubt the position that waza performance alone is transformative and/or capable of cultivating virtues deemed central to Aikido.

We have mentioned other traditions in this thread. I had brought up Muso Soseki and his views on gardening. As part of the culture that during the Muromachi period started to connect religious/spiritual cultivation with artistic pursuits, Muso Soseki often speaks the same way about gardening as we all are doing here about Aikido. To be sure, during that time, a lot of folks were saying and doing things similar to Muso Soseki, but I think a lot of those folks were actually just playing a part in the huge cultural economy that was coming out of China during that time. That is to say, many folks were going through the motions of connecting such things (art and spiritual cultivation), but for the most part their efforts are better understood as practices relevant to the accumulation of cultural capital -- not deep penetrations in the nature of humanity, creation, and existence. I think Aikido can also be understood in a very similar fashion. When our practice is void of the actual means to cultivate whatever virtue we want to uphold, and when we are left with only the stating of the ideal and its fair-weather application, our Aikido becomes more a thing of cultural economy and less a technology of the Self.

Muso Soseki talks about four kinds of people who practice gardening or four kinds of ways that we can relate to the practice of gardening. To some degree, as I said above, it sounds very similar to what we all have been saying here. One only has to replace the word "gardening" with the word "Aikido."

He writes:

(the first type) "There are those who practice the art of gardening out of vanity and a passion for display, with no interest whatever in their own true natures. They are concerned only with having their gardens attract the admiration of others."

(the second type) "Some whose nature is simple are not attracted by worldly things and they raise their spirits by reciting poems in the presence of gardens…One might say that these are secular people of refined taste. Though they are in the world and without the spirit of the Way, this love of the art of gardens is nevertheless a root of transformation."

(the third type) "In others, there is a spirit that comes awake in the presence of these gardens and is drawn out of the dullness of daily existence. And so these gardens help them in the practice of the Way. There is is not the usual love of gardens. These people are worthy of respect. But they cannot yet claim to be followers of the true Way because they still make a distinction between gardens and the practice of the Way."

(the fourth type) "Still others see the mountains, the river, the earth, the grass, the tree, the tile, the pebble (i.e. the elements that make up the garden) as their own essential nature. They love, for length of a morning, the garden. What appears in them to be no different from a worldly passion is at once the spirit of the Way. Their minds are one with the atmosphere of the fountain, the stone, the grass, and the tree, changing through the four seasons. This is the true manner in which those who are followers of the Way love gardens."

What is MOST INTERESTING is that he ends this listing with the following:

"So one cannot say categorically that a liking for gardens is a bad thing or a good thing. There is neither gain nor loss in gardens. Gain and loss exist only in the human mind."

Can we not say this about Aikido as well? I think so. Aikido can be quite mundane and quite profound. Thus, for those of us that want to see some sort of spiritual cultivation as part of the essence of Aikido, we are going to have to show more than just the performance of Aikido as our reason for suggesting that such a thing as possible.

What did Muso Soseki think of the human mind as far as practice goes? I think two things, for me at least, speak to how Muso thought the mind had to be addressed in one's practice. He tried to cultivate the mind through various practice and admonitions such that gardening could actually be the Way for those that trained in it under him. For example, he made it a rule that under him, you had to sit in zazen for hours (four or five each day, if I remember correctly) -- you could not just come to him to only do gardening. In several other ways, he was a huge proponent of having Zen practice return to a strict adherence to the traditional monastic rules. Second, we see how critical he is of those folks that actually attempt to do just that -- just go through the superficial motions of trying to make art a matter of spiritual cultivation. In his admonition, he is very critical of those that do not engage the practice at the deeper levels -- which as I said, for him, meant that one had to do CERTAIN types of practices -- not just gardening. He says that he has three types of disciples -- actually he mentions five kinds but he does not even count the bottom two as disciples because they are so lost to what is really going on.

The highest level of disciple is the practitioner who resolutely gives up all worldly relationships and devotes himself to wholly seeping and realizing their own true natures (i.e. devotes himself to Zen practice). The second level consists of those whose practice is not pure (i.e. not really earnest in their Zen practice) and who are distracted by intellectual pursuits. The third level consists of those that cloud their minds and only lick of the spittle of the Buddha and the patriarchs.

The bottom two levels, which are made up of those folks that Muso Soseki rejects even counting as his disciples, folks he equates with lay people of shaven head, and/or even as (human) hangers for Zen robes, consists of people that are only interested in their own cultural reputations (folks attempting to be artists) and/or that merely sleep and eat all day.

So here you have a person, Muso Soseki, that is upholding art, gardening, as an equivalent to the Way, yet he does not reject the tenets of traditional religious practice and/or suggest that gardening can actually do it all -- this though he says that the ultimate level is to see gardening and religious practice as the same. What we often do, like one of Muso's lesser disciples, is to hear that the Way and art are the same and then we go on to make the Way art. Rather, it seems that we should work to make art the Way -- we should seek to bring in more aspects of training in the Way to our art. Then and only then, I think, we can finally come to see art and the Way as one and the same. This is how I understand Muso's admonition and this is why I think it is relevant to what we are doing and what we are saying here.

Thanks,
david

David M. Valadez
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Old 03-09-2005, 02:40 PM   #74
rob_liberti
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

David, I don't agree with this last post.

Aikido is a subset of Japanese Budo which is a subset of Zen Arts, which is a subset of ...
I think you are more describing aspects of some of the supersets.

Rob
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Old 03-09-2005, 02:41 PM   #75
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

Chuck, I studies jujitsu for a while (not BJJ) and they did a lot of things fast. Fast 3 man attacks, mugs from behind, all sorts of unpredictable grabs etc. I really got a lot out of it. Your adrenaline starts to flow, and your techniques have to be right on so no one gets hurt. This type of training is more dangerous, and both partners have to be really aware.

I did the techniques like I learned them, and wasn't aware that I had to left any openings. Uke knew how to fall and go with the technique so he didn't get hurt. Can you explain a little more about opening?

---------------------------------------------------------------

Amir Krause: your quote "The way I am taught, the best reaction to an attack is to feel it before it actually started and react to the intention through some form of Irimi-Sabaki (the palm to the chin is an option, as well as an atemi). Would that make our practice Karate ? I think not."

If you moved off the line first to avoid the power instead of tightening up for a strong cross block, I wouldn't call that Karate either. Your first reaction was Irimi and was not to stand in front of the opponent and do a bone shattering block which is typical of most karate.

The earlier examples I gave were over generalized, but if you have done karate or seen karate, you will know the difference in your initial reaction.

It seems that you proved the initial reaction is more aikido than karate, judo BJJ etc.
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