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Old 06-04-2005, 09:19 AM   #1
Mike Sigman
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Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

There's a saying about "all paths lead to the top of the mountain" that always grates on the nerves. It defies common sense and smacks of that false pseudo-sage relativism which tries to say that there is no wrong way to do anything. Obviously there are right and wrong ways to do things and while a lot of paths lead to the top of the mountain, there are also paths that don't go to the top of the mountain and paths that go to other mountains.

Broadly speaking, not all martial arts is the same, either. In fact, in a deliberately too-simplistic way we can separate martial arts into 2 categories... technique-oriented martial arts and "highest level" martial arts. It turns out that not all martial arts can be or are "highest level" (not a great term, but let's just use it for simplicity) because they don't train certain things. On the other hand, there are more arts that aim for (among certain segments of practitioners; not everyone) being "highest level" than a lot of people suppose.

The best way to approach the discussion is to avoid techniques and look at the basic premises in Aikido. Essentially, the basic strategy of Aikido is to avoid a direct engagement, take the opponent's balance, execute a technique. Even though different wordings are used, this same strategy is common in a number of other martial arts... yet they all have different "techniques".

There is another famous martial art comment which may be in Aikido, but I've never seen it published (that I can remember... someone correct me if I'm wrong, please): movement approaches stillness. What this means is that first you practice with large movements, but as you get better and better your actual movement approaches the ideal of appearing to be no movement. If you think about it, whether it's voiced or not, this is also an unavoidable development in Aikido and many of the higher-level practitioners exhibit this "movements become smaller" development of technique.

The ideal high level of a martial art is to touch an opponent and with no real movement avoid his attack, take his balance, and execute a technique (some of which are devastating). Of course, you can take this ideal level one step further (if you want to play one-upmanship, which many of the Asians have done) and sense the engagement before you touch, take his balance through a gesture, and do a "technique" (make him fall, for example), all without touching. But let's ignore this ideal "control of an opponent without touching" and stick with the substantive idea of touch, evade, control, execute.

The point of levels becomes generally:

Low level: doing "techniques" and not doing them too well.

Higher level: doing "techniques" and doing them very well.

Highest level: going beyond "techniques" in many cases, but having the ability to do techniques extremely well when circumstances call for it.

Notice that there is no implication that someone goes beyond "techniques" at a certain level and never has to use them again... that's simply unrealistic.

Another unrealistic idea to avoid is the idea that "no strength" is used. The idea is that no "brute force" is used; however, the power used in the highest-level martial arts is unusually high... that's what "ki" and the supplemental physical training is about. All of the highest level martial arts use "ki" and have varying degrees of control of ki, side-aspects of ki, and they use "ki" to effect that moment of engagement, avoid opponent's application of power, mesh with opponent's power in such a way as to take his power/balance away, effect the finishing technique.

It would be arguing needlessly to engage in a lengthy discussion about "no strength" versus "correct strength", but it's worth pointing out that hours of training produce strength, standing practice produces strength, and O-Sensei was quite proud of his strength... even having super-heavy garden implements made for him so he could maintain his strength. Strength is necessary, but it's a special kind of strength involving directing power from the middle, as opposed to using "normal strength". "Ki" is a part of, or an adjunct to, the strength from the middle (it's all considered to be "ki) and none of the "highest level" martial arts can effect the very-small-movement (sometimes "no movement") techniques without being able to manipulate "ki".

Anyway, watching some of the discussions within western Aikido that are heading off toward grappling, Systema, "my teacher", pecking-order, and so on, it seems like a clearer idea of what "highest level" means might have some effect on the practice and discussions within the segment of the Aikido community that is serious in taking the path toward the "highest level" via Aikido. The comment is not meant to be offensive to those who are in Aikido for other reasons.

FWIW

Mike Sigman
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Old 06-04-2005, 10:49 AM   #2
bkedelen
 
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Interesting perspective, Mike. My idea of "highest level" training (to paraphrase some modern science fiction) is a knife fight in a dirt floored bar between myself and the fascist that lives in my soul. When my dark half knocks me down, I had better get the hell back up.
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Old 06-04-2005, 10:56 AM   #3
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Er, OK. Hmmmm. Boulder, eh? "Twenty square miles surrounded by reality". I've trained there more than a few times.

I think a good idea of the perception of "highest level" controls can be found in that DVD "Shingi Denju" that I keep recommending. An example of falling back on technique in a pinch might be Takeda Sokaku going at it with those workmen using his sword.

Mike
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Old 06-04-2005, 11:31 AM   #4
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Mike,

Interesting thoughts....had to read it several times to see if I understood what you are communicating....maybe I don't have it, but any way these are some thoughts that came into my mind as I read.

I agree, all paths don't lead to the top. As you point out, not all of us may be on the same mountain, or climb the mountain for the same reasons.

What you define "highest level" /low level...I have typically labeled "internal versus external" martial arts in the past....however, these days I am not sure I even understand how you label something one or the other.

I think technique is based on principles of kinestics and the dynamic of movement. In the Highest level you work on understanding the principles. If you understand them well, then you have many options. These options are a broad range of techniques. The "higher" you are the more choices you have, from avoiding conflict, to resolving it at the lowest level possible.

"lower" (external) systems will typcially focus on ending a fight efficiently with as minimium effort or risk of exposure as possbile, but may not worry much about the application of excessive force. The goal is to learn a broad range of techniques quickly that will work in most common situations. I call this the "80%" solution. (pareto principle approach). In the past, you find this in "combat" oriented systems.

Why I am confused over internal versus external as it seems that many "combat" oriented systems that have come into popularity in last few years are really fairly complex and based on the same principles that aikido focuses on.

Strength and the relation to KI is always an interesting topic. I know the soldiers I work with are very strong, but have not realized when they first start martial arts training how to effectively apply that strength. They thrash, flail, grunt, and strain to apply it...as they get better, the center it and use is in a relaxed way from their core. You can literally feel the difference when the strength is aligned and focused properly. The same amount of KI existed in both cases, it is just being able to understand how to align it and apply it in a more effiicient and economical way.
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Old 06-04-2005, 02:44 PM   #5
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Levels

Interesting perspectives!
I have to say that I get very tired of too many too "realistic" discussions about aikido as self defense et cetera. We all practice aikido a number of times a week, year after year. The meaning of aikido is what happens in keiko, not what might happen in a bar brawl.

That said, what is the highest?
Awaking your center and making it grow, opening up the flow of and extending it. A Japanese concept that comes to mind is misogi, purification.
To me, for some time now, the highest of is healing. Both tori and uke are healed in the process. And healing, repeated several times weekly, brings it reward.

A friend of mine with a very profound knowledge of metaphysical traditions, once told me: If the supernatural is real, then it's simply natural. No mystery to it.
Some people nurture an attitude toward the 'yet to be proven', which is rooted in the demand that it should remain supernatural, magical, unreal. But magic, when learned, is not that magic at all.
Aikido is one way of learning this.

One can also say that aikido is an art. That is not lessening it in the least.

As for the self defense perspective, I believe that the ultimate aikido is to have an attitude, a state of mind, that makes it impossible for others even to think about attacking. To disappear as a target for aggression.
This is done by relaxing.
It's not easy.

Stefan Stenudd
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Old 06-04-2005, 03:19 PM   #6
Kevin Kelly
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
There is another famous martial art comment which may be in Aikido, but I've never seen it published (that I can remember... someone correct me if I'm wrong, please): movement approaches stillness. What this means is that first you practice with large movements, but as you get better and better your actual movement approaches the ideal of appearing to be no movement. If you think about it, whether it's voiced or not, this is also an unavoidable development in Aikido and many of the higher-level practitioners exhibit this "movements become smaller" development of technique.
I never actually heard the comment "movement approaches stillness" but we are routinely told about everything else you have stated in this paragraph.
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Old 06-04-2005, 03:49 PM   #7
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
There's a saying about "all paths lead to the top of the mountain" that always grates on the nerves.
The only quote I've ever heard related to paths and mountains regarding martial arts is, "there are many paths to Mt. Fuji."


However, as I understand the saying to go, it applies to the goal of self-improvement in the arts, not, necessarily, martial prowess. In fact, as I've heard it, the saying only relates to self-improvement.

I agree with that in the sense that if you do the same thing, over and over again, regardless of what it is, as long as you "do" and focus, eventually it becomes meditative.

Whether or not you have the time to reach the top of the mountain in your lifetime is irrelevant...if you travelled forever with the intent of arriving there, then that path does eventually lead to the top--atleast if you believe it does.
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Old 06-04-2005, 07:11 PM   #8
eyrie
 
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
..."all paths lead to the top of the mountain"...
Like all roads lead to Rome?

Quote:
...we can separate
martial arts into 2 categories... technique-oriented martial arts
and "highest level" martial arts.
Dave Murray
http://trinity.psnw.com/~dlmurray/basic.html
distiguishes this dichotomy as "technique-based hierarchies" and
"principle-based hierarchies"; all arts falling somewhere in between
in these two dichotomies.

Quote:
movement approaches stillness...
First I heard/read a vaguely similar reference to this was from
Cheng Man Ching's 13 treatises.

"Being still, when attacked by the opponent, be tranquil and move
in stillness...Be still and wait for motion, for in motion there
is also stillness."

Quote:
Low level: doing "techniques" and not doing them too well.

Higher level: doing "techniques" and doing them very well.

Highest level: going beyond "techniques" in many cases, but
having the ability to do techniques extremely well when
circumstances call for it.
I understand this as "going beyond form" or "letting go of form" -
i.e. not trying to apply a set response to a specific
attack, but to let the technique "happen" of its own accord,
through (my) stillness.

Ignatius
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Old 06-04-2005, 08:07 PM   #9
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
What you define "highest level" /low level...I have typically labeled "internal versus external" martial arts in the past....however, these days I am not sure I even understand how you label something one or the other.
(snip)
Why I am confused over internal versus external as it seems that many "combat" oriented systems that have come into popularity in last few years are really fairly complex and based on the same principles that aikido focuses on.
There are supposedly around 12-16 Chinese martial arts that are labeled "internal family", i.e., "nei jia", but the main 3 that everyone knows are Taiji (Tai Chi), Xingyi, and Bagua. What differentiates these 3 is that they use a system of movement called "six harmonies movement" and they use a "store-and-release" technique that uses the lower-back and dantien. It's probably easier to just understand that all the Chinese martial arts use ki/qi and their own assortment of body-mechanics tricks, training methods, etc. In other words, what is called "internal" is more of a certain accumulation of body tricks that are built around technique usages that favor that particular set of body mechanics.

Aikido is not by definition one of the "internal styles", but it uses ki in the soft-development mode and jin/kokyu, *similar* to what the so-called "internal arts" do. At its "highest level", Aikido, according to what Shioda has shown and according to what some interviews have said, uses the mind-controlled use of kokyu and ki to engage, neutralize, and apply technique. So while Aikido is not an "internal art", it also has the same "highest level", more or less, that an internal art like Taiji, Xingyi, etc., can have.

The general idea of the philosophy at the "highest level" of many Chinese endeavours is to remove the line between Yin and Yang (in the standard Yin-Yang diagram). All things become one and are in harmony. This idea of practicing Aikido, Taiji, etc., is that your level approaches the "highest level" through years of practice, misogi, suburi, Aiki Taiso, etc., so that your mind (the "Divine Will") ultimately brings your instinctive use of kokyu to where you immediately and unconsciously "harmonize" with an attacking opponent. That's the theory.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 06-04-2005, 08:11 PM   #10
Mike Sigman
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Re: Levels

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote:
As for the self defense perspective, I believe that the ultimate aikido is to have an attitude, a state of mind, that makes it impossible for others even to think about attacking. To disappear as a target for aggression.
This is done by relaxing.
It's not easy.
Hi Stefan:

Are you saying that it's superfluous to practice the martial techniques of Aikido? That all you need to do is relax and develop an attitude???

Cheers,

Mike
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Old 06-04-2005, 08:13 PM   #11
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Kevin Kelly wrote:
I never actually heard the comment "movement approaches stillness" but we are routinely told about everything else you have stated in this paragraph.
Sounds good, Kevin. The only caution I would mention is that everyone uses the terms, but that's not necessarily as good an indicator as the results.

All the Best.

Mike
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Old 06-04-2005, 08:35 PM   #12
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Ignatius Teo wrote:
I understand this as "going beyond form" or "letting go of form" -
i.e. not trying to apply a set response to a specific
attack, but to let the technique "happen" of its own accord,
through (my) stillness.
Hi Ignatius:

I think there's two ways to look at the idea of "no form". One is that you have practiced a style and techniques so long that you instinctively apply some one or group of the techniques you have at your disposal. The other idea is that your skills of ki and kokyu (and attendant skills/body-tricks) are so automatic and so powerful that when an opponent's force touches you your body automatically neutralizes and responsed (usually with some very strongly developed method of releasing power).

Yiquan supposedly focuses on directly developing this sort of power. Taiji says it's highest level is "receiving power". And so on. In reality, the idea of "no form" almost always means a combination of automatic use of ki/kokyu and automatic application of well-practiced techniques. What I was saying was the "highest level" is an ideal, but it shows the importance of aiming your practice in the development of ki and kokyu skills as part of your Aikido (or other art). My 2 cents, FWIW.

Mike
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Old 06-04-2005, 09:06 PM   #13
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Of course! When I say "happen", I obviously don't mean "magically". "Naturally", perhaps... definitely not "magically".

All of the "attendant skills" (not just ki and kokyu extension primarily, but also ma-ai, timing, tai sabaki etc. etc.) come into play - I believe what some aikidoka refer to as "shuchu rokyu"?

Quote:
...Taiji says it's highest level is "receiving power". And so on. In reality, the idea of "no form" almost always means a combination of automatic use of ki/kokyu and automatic application of well-practiced techniques....
Not disputing this aspect of "no form" or "formless-ness", however it is phrased. It's hard to explain in words. To me, this [beyond technique] means letting go of preconceived notions of response application to set attacks and letting the mind and will express the technique (rather than "no technique" or physically expressing the technique). Obviously, none of this is possible without the requisite preparation that comes from "correct" practice.

I feel, the concept of "receiving power" also exists within aiki. At a base level, this can be a simple "sutemi" technique, where one mechanically "sacrifices" oneself. To me, sutemi is a kind of "receiving power" as well as the other attendant "meta-physical" interpretations of what "sacrifice" means.

Quote:
What I was saying was the "highest level" is an ideal, but it shows the importance of aiming your practice in the development of ki and kokyu skills as part of your Aikido (or other art).
As it should... as it should....even in a "traditionally external" MA, oh, for example, karate....?

Last edited by eyrie : 06-04-2005 at 09:17 PM.

Ignatius
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Old 06-04-2005, 09:24 PM   #14
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Ignatius Teo wrote:
All of the "attendant skills" (not just ki and kokyu extension primarily, but also ma-ai, timing, tai sabaki etc. etc.) come into play - I believe what some aikidoka refer to as "shuchu rokyu"?
Well, yes, but let me caveat that I consider "body skills" like ki, kokyu, etc., to be differentiable from "tactics and strategy skills" like ma-ai, timing, etc.
Quote:
I feel, the concept of "receiving power" also exists within aiki. At a base level, this can be a simple "sutemi" technique, where one mechanically "sacrifices" oneself. To me, sutemi is a kind of "receiving power" as well as the other attendant "meta-physical" interpretations of what "sacrifice" means.
IMO, we're talking about 2 different things because the use of power is quite different from that used in Aikido, but I take your meaning and I don't really disagree.
Quote:
As it should... as it should....even in a "traditionally external" MA, oh, for example, karate....?
No, I don't consider karate to go to this level of sophistication. I think that some of the Shaolin variants (which ultimately "karate" derives from) used this level of sophistication, without a doubt, though. That's just my opinion, though.

Mike
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Old 06-04-2005, 09:39 PM   #15
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Well, yes, but let me caveat that I consider "body skills" like ki, kokyu, etc., to be differentiable from "tactics and strategy skills" like ma-ai, timing, etc.
Ah yes, my bad... *makes mental note to remember to distinguish body-specific skills from strategy and tactical skills*

Quote:
IMO, we're talking about 2 different things because the use of power is quite different from that used in Aikido
How is it different?

Quote:
No, I don't consider karate to go to this level of sophistication....
Oh, without a doubt...but I used "karate" very loosely here. Perhaps if I used the terms "toudi" or "tode" more specifically, it may mean something . Although, I haven't seen/experienced enough of "di" too deeply, to be able to comment knowledgeably either way, as to the level of sophistication of ki/kokyu development.

Ignatius
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Old 06-05-2005, 07:40 AM   #16
Mike Sigman
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Ignatius Teo wrote:
How is it different? (the power in Aikido versus the power in Taiji)
That's too complex for me to discuss in a reasonable time, Ignatius. It has to do with "six harmonies movement", the hallmark of the so-called "internal arts". These sorts of things add power to the normal ki and kokyu type skills. If you have greater power, it can, in a number of cases, affect the ways in which you apply power/techniques... and that's what changes the comparison of "receiving power" as it means in Taiji and what you're indicating.
Quote:
Oh, without a doubt...but I used "karate" very loosely here. Perhaps if I used the terms "toudi" or "tode" more specifically, it may mean something . Although, I haven't seen/experienced enough of "di" too deeply, to be able to comment knowledgeably either way, as to the level of sophistication of ki/kokyu development.
What I was attempting to say was that karate does not (and I practiced karate for 8 or 9 years) have anything that approaches the manipulation and control of forces that I'm talking about in this "highest level" discussion. Yes, they have ki and kokyu, but karate is a technique-oriented art (in the manner we were discussing, not a dismissive sense) and cannot go to this level. If you will accept that assertion by me as a working thesis, you can see why Ueshiba was justifiably proud of Aikido as something that approaches "The Way" as designated in Chinese philosophy.

You can also see why it is not, in my opinion, the correct thing for people who supposedly care about Aikido, to ... without having accomplished the ki and kokyu parts of Aikido because those items are somewhat hidden and hard to get to... begin leading people off on tangents of MMA, Systema, Wing Chun, and so on.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 06-05-2005, 08:54 AM   #17
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

IMHO, not everyone wants to go to the top of the mountain. Some enjoy the valley and some just enjoy hiking different trails. But when you get to the top of the mountain, if that is where you want to go or think you already are, keep climbing.

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 06-05-2005, 10:28 AM   #18
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Re: Levels

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Are you saying that it's superfluous to practice the martial techniques of Aikido? That all you need to do is relax and develop an attitude???
If it were only that simple
I guess that a profound study and training of aikido is needed, in order to be able to do without its techniques.
Somewhat like the story about the Japanese archer, who got so advanced in his art that he finally forgot all about the bow and arrow.

Stefan Stenudd
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Old 06-05-2005, 10:40 AM   #19
Mike Sigman
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Re: Levels

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote:
If it were only that simple
I guess that a profound study and training of aikido is needed, in order to be able to do without its techniques.
Somewhat like the story about the Japanese archer, who got so advanced in his art that he finally forgot all about the bow and arrow.
Hi Stefan:

I think you're mixing some popular ideas about Zen Buddhism, etc., into the idea of "no form". While I understand your drift with that thought, it's sort of a separate idea to trained body reactions and body conditioning that was under discussion.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 06-05-2005, 01:19 PM   #20
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

I've been told that the highest teaching in aikido is common sense.

Personally, I think the highest level of training is when, if you're in a confrontation, you have a choice. You are capable of destroying yet have the control not to. You can bend your partner to your will, but you don't necessarily have to. People throw you because you let them. And so on. In that sense, you can reachthis level through any martial art, but some are easier than others. It's much easier to not hurt someone live using an aikido technique than a karate technique.

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote:
IMHO, not everyone wants to go to the top of the mountain. Some enjoy the valley and some just enjoy hiking different trails. But when you get to the top of the mountain, if that is where you want to go or think you already are, keep climbing.
Speaking as a climber, once you've hit the top, unless you['ve got a rocket pack, the only way to go is down. If you want a higher summit, you pick a different peak. How do you know you're at the top? When you look around and there's no more upward slope.
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Old 06-05-2005, 01:25 PM   #21
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
Rebecca Montange wrote:
I've been told that the highest teaching in aikido is common sense.
(snipperooney)
Speaking as a climber, once you've hit the top, unless you''ve got a rocket pack, the only way to go is down. If you want a higher summit, you pick a different peak. How do you know you're at the top? When you look around and there's no more upward slope.
It looks like you've reached the highest level, Rebecca!!!

Mike Sigman
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Old 06-05-2005, 02:22 PM   #22
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Quote:
You can also see why it is not, in my opinion, the correct thing for people who supposedly care about Aikido, to ... without having accomplished the ki and kokyu parts of Aikido because those items are somewhat hidden and hard to get to... begin leading people off on tangents of MMA, Systema, Wing Chun, and so on.
Aikido to me is a very interesting a illusive art. As soon as I try and pinpoint what it is and isn't....I lose it.

I study martial arts for many reasons. Martial arts is now such a part of my person that I can no longer separate it from "me". I love the internal aspects of the arts. I have found them in karate, taji, aikido...I have also found them in meditation, zen buddhism, and yoga. What makes up "me" is complex...how I evolved is an amalgamation of experiences and events. To say that aikido gave me this, karate that...is not possible. Alot that makes up "me" came from my military experiences and training...it is equally important to my "internal" development.

Why do I mention all this? I find that some systems tend to focus more on internal development that others, but that internal development is complex. Developing the external or low level is just as important. I think you can learn a great deal about yourself by learning MMA, BJJ, compettive arts that focus on external gains.

Sometimes you find the answers you are looking for in the darnest places.

Mike, your point is well taken though, when diverting your intentions to "other things" becomes an excuse because it is "too hard" or you are not "patient" enough to learn the internal aspects of an art (KI and Kokyu, as you define it), then you are missing the point.
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Old 06-05-2005, 02:25 PM   #23
RebeccaM
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

In aikido?

Uh, no. Hell no. Absolutely not.

But I've climbed lots of real rocky and icy mountains. Which reminds me. My boyfriend promised to try Longs Peak again this summer. I'm holding him to that. My lungs are itching.
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Old 06-05-2005, 03:02 PM   #24
p00kiethebear
 
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Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

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There's a saying about "all paths lead to the top of the mountain" that always grates on the nerves. It defies common sense and smacks of that false pseudo-sage relativism which tries to say that there is no wrong way to do anything. Obviously there are right and wrong ways to do things and while a lot of paths lead to the top of the mountain, there are also paths that don't go to the top of the mountain and paths that go to other mountains.
Think of this quote in it's original hindu context. The "path" doesn't refer to a physical "path" on the mountain but rather, your personal EXPERIENCE / JOURNEY towards brahmin. The idea is that everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Everyone falls from the path. Everyone does something wrong occaisionally. But in the end, after several thousand reincarnations and lifetimes we arrive at brahmin (the mountain top). Everyone's JOURNEY was different though. I believe the quote refers not to martial technique, but to everyone reaching a "spiritual enlightenment" which is going to look different depending on the choices they made on their journey. But the idea is that everyone reaches "spiritual enlightenment" of somekind. not samekind. Just like when you show an ink blot to 20 different people. They'll all see something different.

Good post.

"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity"
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Old 06-05-2005, 03:12 PM   #25
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Re: Levels

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I think you're mixing some popular ideas about Zen Buddhism, etc., into the idea of "no form". While I understand your drift with that thought, it's sort of a separate idea to trained body reactions and body conditioning that was under discussion.
Well, I was trying to relate to the headline of the thread: "highest level".
My perception of the "ultimate" defense has little, if anything, to do with popular ideas about zen. Please, Mike, grant me some knowledge of both aikido and zen

If anybody expresses some interest, I will be happy to elaborate. Otherwise, I have learned as a writer to avoid wasting people's time with unwanted flows of words.

Stefan Stenudd
My aikido website: http://www.stenudd.com/aikido/
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