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Old 06-08-2005, 11:35 AM   #1
bindie32
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How Samurai i s aikido

hello all,

The original reason iwas going to get into an MA was Shinkendo. i have always loved Samurai and the culture of Japan and my innder child has a desire to learn japanese sword, which is what first drew me to aikido. After all my research i am hooked and excited to finally start soon. I was just wondering how "Samurai" is aikido or is it more overall Japanese Bushido lifestyle and spirituality (which i guess is very Samurai) Hmmmm....


Thanks

Justin
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Old 06-08-2005, 11:50 AM   #2
Nick Simpson
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Not very.

Aikido is generally considered by most to be budo, which is something else.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 06-08-2005, 11:54 AM   #3
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Oh, I wouldn't know. Maybe you should try narrowing the question down? There are so many meanings of the word samurai - especially in how it is used today, in the world of Martial arts.

And talking about words - Shinkendo strikes me as slightly amusing. The way of the real sword... Almost every advanced iaido teacher uses a shinken.

Just had to say that

Stefan Stenudd
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Old 06-08-2005, 12:04 PM   #4
Ron Tisdale
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Quote:
Shinkendo strikes me as slightly amusing.
Hmmm....I'm sure Obata Sensei would be *real* amused... I just wouldn't say that in the same room with him....

From www.dictionary.com:

The Japanese feudal military aristocracy.
A professional warrior belonging to this class.

What this doesn't mention is that said class was abolished in the 1800s. Sooooooo....since Aikido was created in the 1900s, I wouldn't be too quick to ascribe it some great 'samurai' status. Not without wincing a bit at the same time. That said, there are some customs loosely borrowed from that class which we see in aikido. I don't think we should deny that...just perhaps not make too much of it.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 06-08-2005, 12:31 PM   #5
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Go watch Shogun or other period movies if you want to get the feel for feudal japanese warrior culture. Certainly aikido is well rooted in traditional japanese culture, ettiquitte, and the like, which is aligned with many aspects of samurai ethos.

I would think seriously about why I was studying martial arts, aikido in particular if this was a primary motivating factor though. Lots of money, time, and effort will be spent doing things that have very little to do with this. You could by lots of books, movies etc on the culture that would get you closer to it...and have the time to read and watch them, than studying aikido will bring!

Besides, you will probably find that the majority of people in the dojo will not be that interested in that stuff!
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Old 06-08-2005, 12:43 PM   #6
Ron Tisdale
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Quote:
Shinkendo has a number of meanings depending on the calligraphy, or kanji, used to depict the various characters. Shinken is what a real Japanese sword is called; however, shin can also mean true or serious, as in your pursuit of life and training (therefore, the term "shinkendo" can also be interpreted as "the way of living your life seriously and fully".); shin can also mean mind and spirit, as the art affords you a way to forge both. Shin can mean god, in that we should respect our world and nature, and espouse world peace. Shinkendo does not have to stop at the door of the dojo, but can be thought of as a path to follow, and a strategy of mind to apply in your life and its day to day activities. That is how this art came about. I created the International Shinkendo Federation to promote those ideals, because the truth begets the truth...

Soke Obata Toshishiro, October 1996

Ron Tisdale
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Old 06-09-2005, 01:42 AM   #7
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Quote:
Justin Riley wrote:
I was just wondering how "Samurai" is aikido or is ...
It's not. The founder of the art was a commoner, living in a time after the samurai as a class had already been abolished.

He was a student of a man whose family had been samurai, but after the Meiji Restoration, threre were no samurai, only dreams of the good (bad?) old days.

But ... neither are any of the other budo particularly more 'samurai' than aikido. Aikido is, however, a good budo, and you can learn a lot about yourself, about budo and about some of the mindset and practices of the Japanese warrior class in aikido.

Quote:
Justin Riley wrote:
... it more overall Japanese Bushido lifestyle and spirituality (which i guess is very Samurai) ...
Well, since 'bushido' is a pretty nebulous thing (there was never a single, unified code of bushido), and the ethical and moral behavior of the samuari as individuals ranged from santly to demonic, it'd be tough to ascribe to that class anything resembling an overarching legacy of behavior and attitudes that reflected the many and varied activities, beliefs and legacies of the class.

Look, if you want to learn about the samurai, there are plenty of good books (look up anything by Karl Friday, Ellis Amdur or Dave Lowry for starters, and get your hands on the 'Koryu Budo' trilogy edited by Diane Skoss).

If you want to learn budo, there are plenty of good (and way too many bad) schools around.

Living the samurai way is a fantasy. Learning budo can be a reality.

Chuck

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Old 06-09-2005, 02:25 AM   #8
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

I was wondering. After the authorities at the time said the way of the samurai was to be abolished, all samurai hung up their katanas and that was that? It was never practiced again even in secret?
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Old 06-09-2005, 03:38 AM   #9
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

What "way of the samurai" ?
I suggest taking a moment to read Chuck Gordon's post again, slowly.
We all should, its a good 'un.

Sean
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Old 06-09-2005, 03:44 AM   #10
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Quote:
Sean Constable wrote:
After the authorities at the time said the way of the samurai was to be abolished, all samurai hung up their katanas and that was that? It was never practiced again even in secret?
Wasn't so much about practicing anything. It was more their station in society.

Being a samurai wasn't about being a warrior, exactly. In fact, for much of Japanese history, they were far more bureaucrats than soldiers ...

When the class was abolished, it was expressly forbidden to wear the daisho (paired long and short swords); other prohibitions were in place as well, and yes, there was some resistance and even armed conflict (the movie Last Samurai depicts this period, though not particularly historically ...).

Part of the fallout was that budo actually sort of got a kickstart. Lots of unemployed former samurai who had been sword (or other weapons and unarmed as well) teachers for a lord or family opened dojo publicly, or became itinerant budo teachers, traveling the land and giving demonstration, taking on all challengers, offering instruction.

It was pretty chaotic at times, and this was the world in which Kano's judo and Ueshiba's aikido (though it was more Takeda's jujutsu, then) were born and shaped.

Did the samurai just fade gracefully into the sunset? For the most part, yes, though tales of ancestral derring-do and such continue to be passed down in the old families, even in modern days and (IMHO) to have samurai blood in your family is sort of like an American having an ancestor aboard the Mayflower (or DAR or DAC or whatever group of semi-blueblooded immigrants tickles your fancy).

Chuck

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Old 06-09-2005, 04:55 AM   #11
bindie32
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Thank you Chuck, and everyone who has cleared things up it was exactly what i was looking for.

A few web sites for Shinkendo Dojos in town bill it as the "modern" Samurai style of MA, that is where i got confused. Same with Budo and Bushido i thought they where the same thing.

As for Aikido, I'm going to take it up and do my best to absorb the lifestyle the external and internal benefits really appeal to me
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Old 06-09-2005, 05:34 AM   #12
Nick Simpson
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Go for it, have fun.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 06-09-2005, 06:16 AM   #13
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Quote:
Justin Riley wrote:
As for Aikido, I'm going to take it up and do my best to absorb the lifestyle the external and internal benefits really appeal to me
I would go for the training, as intensively as possible, but not worry too much about the lifestyle.

Chuck Gordon mentioned "Last Samurai". I would supplement his suggestion with two more: "Tasogare Seibei" (= Twilight Samurai), and "Kakushiken: Oni no Tsume" (= Hidden Sword: Devil's Claw, but I doubt whether it has been released in the US yet, so I do not know the English title). They are both 'samurai' films set in the late Tokugawa period, but are much more 'authentic' than Last Samurai.

The heroes embody samurai values (which can, up to a point, be translated into aikido 'values') more clearly than in "Last Samurai".

P A Goldsbury
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Old 06-09-2005, 06:33 AM   #14
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
suggestion with two more: "Tasogare Seibei" (= Twilight Samurai), and "Kakushiken: Oni no Tsume" (= Hidden Sword: Devil's Claw
I think Twilight Samurai is fairly widely available in the US and Europe, but haven't seen the other title you mentioned.

I've heard good things about Twilight, too.

Quote:
Tokugawa period, but are much more 'authentic' than Last Samurai.
Heh! Twouldn't be too hard, that.

Chuck

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Old 06-09-2005, 06:55 AM   #15
ian
 
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

A good film to watch is the famous 'seven samaurai' (origin of the idea for the magnificent seven). Not only is it a beautiful film, but it illustrates the exploitation of farming peasants by many of the wealthy ruling samurai, and the fact that the ideals of the samurai were not necessarily adhered to.

Samurai ideals revolve around serving your lord completely. Who is it you would intend to serve in such a way, in a moden society? 'Budo' seems much more suited to a society where clans aren't constantly fighting each other. However even then, it is better to think for yourself and make decisions based on the specifics of the situation than to follow set rules. (and if you are going to follow rules, why not follow the legal code of your own society?)

Although it's nice to idealise the past, it's only because we have the luxury of living in a society which is based on entirely different values. Killing people and worshipping your ruler like a deity, IMHO is not to be recommended.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 06-09-2005, 09:18 AM   #16
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Chuck, appreciate you clearing that up for me. Makes sense now, just seems odd that they did disapear so easily. From what I can tell in reading and such the samurai were such a strong willed people with much conviction, but I guess that could just be japanese culture at the time anyways!
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Old 06-09-2005, 09:31 AM   #17
Ron Tisdale
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

In general, peasants with rifles beat strong willed samurai with swords. Its just the way of the world, don't you know...

Ron

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Old 06-09-2005, 12:55 PM   #18
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Quote:
Sean Constable wrote:
...just seems odd that they did disapear so easily. From what I can tell in reading and such the samurai were such a strong willed people with much conviction,
I'm currently reading "The Last Samurai: Tales and Battles of Saigo Takamori". The samurai (more specifically the shogun) didn't go easily. The samurai were those things you mention. They were also deceitful, petty, vengeful, honest, loyal, lying, saintly, bastards....just like most people

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 06-10-2005, 12:51 AM   #19
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

I actually wanted to post a new thread, but as we are discussing the samurai already I´ll post my question here.

I was told when I started aikido that the samurai had seven virtues (which is why the hakama has seven folds). Now, the other day somebody told me that after reading a lot about samurai she found out that some sources say that there were actually eight virtues. Does anybody know what is true here? I always assumed that this would be a rather clear thing, but from what my friend said it seems a bit more fuzzy ....
And if you do happen to know about the eigth one (if it exists), could you tell me what it is ? (Another friend of mine was wondering if maybe they added "not smoking" to the list or something )

Thanks!
Sonja
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Old 06-10-2005, 01:56 AM   #20
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Chuck Gordon mentioned "Last Samurai". I would supplement his suggestion with two more: "Tasogare Seibei" (= Twilight Samurai), and "Kakushiken: Oni no Tsume" (= Hidden Sword: Devil's Claw, but I doubt whether it has been released in the US yet, so I do not know the English title). They are both 'samurai' films set in the late Tokugawa period, but are much more 'authentic' than Last Samurai.

I second Peter on Tasogare Seibei, it was excellent, and starred Hiroyuki Saneda who was the chap that gave Tom Cruise a pasting in Last Samurai. I also recommend Mibu Gishi Den (When the last sword is drawn), which is also set at the same time as Last Samurai. I thoroughly enjoyed this http://www.kungfucinema.com/reviews/...ordisdrawn.htm

rgds

Bryan

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Old 06-10-2005, 07:53 AM   #21
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Read Chuck's comments. "Samurai" was a class in a social hierarchy. Aikido is a martial way. Kinda like asking "how apples are like oranges".

Ignatius
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Old 06-10-2005, 08:07 AM   #22
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Sonja,

I think your friend may be confusing the 'seven virtues' for the Buddhist eight-fold path ...

I've only ever heard or read about seven virtues, as in the ones linked to the hakama pleats.

Chuck

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Old 06-10-2005, 08:56 AM   #23
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Chuck,

that´s also what I thought. Thanks!

Regards,
Sonja
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Old 06-11-2005, 08:28 PM   #24
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

I have a question...

How "samurai" is shinkendo?

Just looking to learn a little more about the style.

Thanks,
Bryce
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Old 06-12-2005, 04:29 AM   #25
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

How 'samurai' is anything? I'm not even sure what exactly the question means. Are we talking about how authentic it is? How close to a (non-existent) samurai ideal it is? How effective/traditional/strict/expensive is it?

First, there are no samurai today. None. Haven't been for, what, 150 years or so?

We can study the broad tepestry that was samurai life -- spanning several centuries, cultural shifts, regions, definitions and lineages that are diverse and varied, but tend to get rolled up into a neat, if romanticized package that doesn't reflect reality any more than Marty Robbins' songs relfected the reality of life in the old west.

Samurai, in one era, might be farmers who took up arms and marched off to battle, surived and were rewarded with titles and lands (the very first shogun followed this path, more or less, commoner to shogun in one lifetime), or he might be a rough and uncultured professional soldier who live a short, exciting and bloodt life, or he might be a lifetime bureaucrat who was allowed to wear two swords, and was expected to attend regular sword training, but was never closer to combat than reading old stories and romantic fiction or looking at the staged battles on the No or Kabuki stages.

If we say 'samurai' we must realize that there was no ideal or archtypical 'Samurai', but there were many variations and deviations and interpretations of what the term, and the class, really signified.

If you want to study a budo that's really close to (at least one type/class/family) of samurai, look into Yagyu Shingan Ryu, or something similar. A koryu system that includes sword and spear, armed/armored/unarmed grappling and theory of fortification and armor, espionage and probably a touch of mystical Buddhism or Shinto for seasoning. There are old systems that have maintained and nurtured the arts of warfare as were practiced by samurai of a certain clan, area or era.

None of the gendai budo, however, are particularly 'samurai' ... in fact, most were designed specifically to appeal to and be taught to the common masses, consciously laying the samurai ethos and mythos aside.

Chuck

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