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Old 06-12-2005, 06:42 AM   #26
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

This thought comes to mind:

Society of Creative Anacronism (SCA). Would they qualify as a "martial art"?

They don't seem to identify with MA, as far as I know. They dress up in costumes, they practice fighting tactics of knights of old, they have a code they follow, with a structure/hiearchy etc.

The guys I have talked to do it for many reasons, but they don't really consider themselves Martial Artist.

Where do you draw the line?

At what point does BUDO cease to be a martial art, and become something other than that? A cultural preservation society, or a historical club? These things are important for sure to a culture or society, they perserve a legacy and lessons learned from the past.

I am involved in several threads that argue both sides, that aikido should abandon the useless ritual and spiritual aspects and concentrate on the combat effectiveness. Others say that it is very important.

How important, for instance, is it to wear a hakama? Certainly not practical, nor modern.

It serves as a tool for awareness and legacy. to remind us, for us to draw from our arts roots.

The military does the same today. Many of our uniforms are not comfortable or pretty down right impractical. Look at the Marine Corps dress blues! I depise wearing my black beret! Ever try putting it on with your hands full when you walk out the door?

All military and martial organizations have deemed it important to preserve certain aspects of it's cultural past. It is important. You must, however, be careful in letting that drive the train, and loose focus on the other aspects. Balance is key!

In aikido, our BUDO heritage has us do certain things. Those things are a small but important part. They are not reasons for doing the art, but should be there all the same. Focusing on samurai culture is not one of them in my book.
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Old 09-03-2005, 04:48 AM   #27
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

[quote=Chuck Gordon]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.
Thats not entirely true. O-sensei was of samurai lineage. "His Grandfather, Kichiemon, was the founder of the Ueshiba clan, once renowned throughout Japan for his size and prodigious strength. Morihei's mother, yuki-distantly related to the Takeda clan, one of the greatest samurai families".A quote from John Stevens, Invincible Warrior. Didn't Aikido come from Daito Ryu witch in turn was conceived in the unlikely case that a Samurai was to find himself without his sword? I could be wrong.
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Old 09-03-2005, 10:20 AM   #28
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Re: How Samurai is Aikido?

Quote:
Sean Orchard wrote:
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 09-06-2005, 03:33 AM   #29
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Quote:
Todd Stark wrote:
... O-sensei was of samurai lineage. "His Grandfather, Kichiemon, was the founder of the Ueshiba clan, once renowned throughout Japan for his size and prodigious strength.
The only place I've ever seen this was in Stevens' works, never from any other source. I'd be interested to see any verification from some of our Japanese-speakers, if any exists in original writings.

Quote:
Didn't Aikido come from Daito Ryu witch in turn was conceived in the unlikely case that a Samurai was to find himself without his sword? I could be wrong.
Umm. Sort of. Daito Ryu has a somewhat disputed history, but most systems of jujutsu were born through the need for 'backup' methodologies, in the event of weapons loss, breakage or simply being in too close proximity for efficient weapons use.

Jujutsu systems actually were a fairly minor part of many ryuha for the most part, though there were a few exceptions. Most of the broader JJ systems really came to fruition in times of relative peace, and many only got kickstarted after Meiji, as lots of bujutsu teachers were trying to make a living after the samurai caste was eliminated.

cg

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Old 09-06-2005, 11:26 AM   #30
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

The only thing I've read that comes close to being a list of the rules of bushido is "Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai". It lists some examples of behavior that are supposed to epitomize samurai ideals of ediquette and valor. After reading this book, I would have to conclude that Aikido is pretty "un-samurai". While aikido has taught me to remain stoic when I'm in pain and how to effectively defend myself, there were some pretty horrific things that samurai did to their enemies that my sensei doesn't teach!

P.S. While it's a movie that goes against what would have been considered by a daimyo to be the samurai ideal, I really like "Samurai Rebellion".
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Old 09-08-2005, 03:33 AM   #31
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Hagakure has about as much to do with the ideal of the samurai as 'Fistful of Dollars' has to do with life in the Old West. Hagakure is a rant, basically, written by a frustrated mid-level bureaucrat who'd never had the opportunity to bloody his sword (or die) in battle, and who was denied the right to a 'glorious suicide' to follow his old boss into the afterlife. It details an enormous amount of misinformation about how s 'Real Samurai' (tm) was supposed to live. And it's all pretty much BS.

Evaluating aikido's 'samurainess' by a Hagakure yardstick is not useful. Heck, evaluating anything samurai through reading Hagakure is pretty pointless.

All that said, see my previous posts about samurai, aikido, budo and Hagakure for more of how I really feel ...

cg

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Old 09-08-2005, 12:25 PM   #32
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Quote:
Chuck Gordon wrote:
Hagakure has about as much to do with the ideal of the samurai as 'Fistful of Dollars' has to do with life in the Old West. Hagakure is a rant, basically, written by a frustrated mid-level bureaucrat who'd never had the opportunity to bloody his sword (or die) in battle, and who was denied the right to a 'glorious suicide' to follow his old boss into the afterlife. It details an enormous amount of misinformation about how s 'Real Samurai' (tm) was supposed to live. And it's all pretty much BS.

Evaluating aikido's 'samurainess' by a Hagakure yardstick is not useful. Heck, evaluating anything samurai through reading Hagakure is pretty pointless.

All that said, see my previous posts about samurai, aikido, budo and Hagakure for more of how I really feel ...

cg
Can you suggest a better source? I haven't read that much about samurai, and you seem to know so much more than I do. Please help me! Please!
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Old 09-08-2005, 09:34 PM   #33
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

could any1 tell me what budo means?
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Old 09-08-2005, 10:53 PM   #34
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

While "Fistful of Dollars" is a decent ripoff of Kurosawa's "Yojimbo," which in turn is believed to be based on Dashiell Hammett's "Red Harvest," I much prefer "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" if you're looking to base your life on a spaghetti western. Tuco rocks!
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Old 09-09-2005, 03:49 AM   #35
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Non-Hagakure suggestions:

Koryu Books:
'Koryu Budo' trilogy (www.koryubooks.com), edited by Diane Skoss.

Ellis Amdur:
'Old School' (http://www.ellisamdur.com/martial_arts.html)

Karl Friday:
Legacies of the Sword: The Kashima-Shinryu and Samurai Martial Culture
Samurai, Warfare and the State in Early Medieval Japan (Warfare and History)
Hired Swords: The Rise of Private Warrior Power in Early Japan

Donn Draeger (if you can find 'em):
Classical Bujutsu
Classical budo
Modern Budo

Yagyu Muenori, trans. by Hiroaki Sato
The Sword and the Mind

For starters ...

Raphael asked: could any1 tell me what budo means?

Bu: martial, military, war, warlike
Do (Michi): Path, Way

Budo is simply 'Martial Way'. It CAN be used to describe, in Japanese, any martial art. I tend to use it more specifically, since I natively speak English and not Japanese, to describe any Japanese martial tradition. Budo and bujutsu are similar, the jutsu meaning system or science or art. Therefore, budo, being the way of war and bujutsu being the art or science of war are synonymous.

cg

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Old 09-09-2005, 01:56 PM   #36
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

this discussion seems to have gotten bogged down a bit in historical definitions of samurai, and missed some of the cultural-idealistic aspects.

from the first perspective, i totally agree with chuck.

but from the second, it seems to me that part of osensei's project was to redefine "samurai" (who's root meaning is merely "one who serves", just as "bushi"'s root meaning is merely "one who stops weapons from clashing") in a more fundamental way, in order to make warriorship viable in the 20th c. and beyond. i mean, osensei did, in fact, say "a samurai is one who serves and adhere's to the power of love" (trans from art of peace, the original source of this statement is, i believe, in the takemusu aiki lectures).

this statement by itself backs up a bit of what i'm saying, as well as providing some evidence of a japanese using the term samurai outside of the historical context and placing it within a more broadly cultural and ideal context.

so if we take the notion of samurai as being one who serves, and in particular, "serves and adhere's to the power of love", then aikido would seem to be intensely samurai.

add this to the fact that many aikido teachers, like saotome-sensei, teach the seven principals (abeit, in a way more in line with the modern world, and entirely outside of a class context), and we could argue that, at least for some, aikido is a way of updating and bringing into the modern world the way of the samurai in a more progressive and classless way.

and as long as we're talking history, "budo" and "bushido", from what i understand, were never considered seperate until much later. in fact, in many older texts "budo" is used as a short form of "bushido". they're only different by one kanji, the "shi", which is generally written quite small in "bushido". so, even in the titles of some texts the shi would be dropped. thus, in the classic by taira shigusuke, some versions have as the title "bushido shoshinshu", while other versions have "budo shoshinshu". (the thomas cleary trans code of the samurai uses the first, while the william scott wilson trans has as its title the second.)

from this we could extrapolate that, after the meiji restoration, the use of the term "budo" was a way of explaining the democratization of bushido into the japanese populace at large (particularly since "bushi" was the more accepted term for the class), and (post ww2) to the world at large.

Quote:
Chuck Gordon wrote:
The only place I've ever seen this was in Stevens' works, never from any other source. I'd be interested to see any verification from some of our Japanese-speakers, if any exists in original writings.
from my understanding, its a simple matter of public record (samurai family lineages are kept as a part of public records in japan, much like how are birth certificates are on record here in the states) and knowledge in japan. aside from this, i believe stevens-sensei's primary source for this was kisshomaru-doshu's bio of his father.
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Old 09-09-2005, 07:31 PM   #37
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

IMHO, since the Samurai period ended in the 1870s and Aikido was founded in 1950, I would doubt that the two can be equated too much. Aikido is Budo not Bujutsu.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 09-09-2005, 10:06 PM   #38
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

We sometimes have discussions like this in my university classes (all my students are Japanese). The younger undergraduates are not really interested and in any case do not really know much about Japanese history.

The older graduate students in the evening class, all employed in Japanese companies or government departments, are much more interested and knowledgable. One of them made a presentation about whether there were any modern samurai in Japan. They equated samurai with what they believed was the real meaning of bushido.

When set the task of comparing Last Samurai with Tasogare Seibei, the undergraduates had to go off and research bushi, samurai, bushido, etc in the Japanese sources (including warrior tales like Heike Monogatari). Their findings were similar to those of my graduate students: 'bushi' had a wider meaning than samurai (which was more closely tied to the concept of service); bushido also had a double meaning; the basic meaning of what bushi were supposed to do, i.e., fighting arts; and a wider meaning associated with military virtues, similar to the concept of 'andreia' ( = manliness) in classical Greek. You will find this wider meaning of bushido in any monolingual Japanese dictionary and the virtures listed are the virtues symbolized by, e.g., the pleats of a hakama. They all thought that Katsumoto (K Watanabe) and Seibei (H Sanada) amply displayed these virtues.

My older graduate students, especially those employed as government officials, really believe that they are modern day inheritors of the samurai (who actually performed similar jobs in Tokugawa Japan) and that they have a duty to practise the same virtues. The would probably do this also in the aikido, judo or kendo dojo.

Part of the issue here is the extent to which these romantic notions were based on reality and this question is valid for Greek warriors as for Japanese. The recent movie Troy, for example, is only remotely based on Homer's epic, and so is not really 'historically accurate'. However, Homer's epic was not 'historically accurate', either. It was a good story, often retold and embellished in the retelling. Japanese warrior tales are very similar. The Hagakure is dull and pedestrian by comparison and equally questionable historically.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 09-11-2005, 01:51 PM   #39
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

What difference would any of this make in studying aikido or improving yourself as a aikidoka if it was directly related to being "Samurai"?

Just curious. We seem to spend a great deal of time trying to prove/disprove. The virtues are universal in nature and can be found in any organization that is aligned with decent core principles.

The fact that they might culturally emanate from Japan is good and all that...but I question the relevancy to how it would make you a better martial artist if it was "samurai" in someway...whatever that really means!

I think it is wonderful to study history, and much can be learned from history. The past holds the keys to understanding ourselves and where we come from. In this regard, I can appreciate wanting to understand and study Feudal Japanese history. What I question is why it is important to tie the link to modern day aikido in anyway? What value does it add?
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Old 09-24-2005, 11:56 AM   #40
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

A Samurai....

-lived by a code of moral integrity
-served faithfully and willingly gave his life for those he served
-studied many different arts of war
-self sacrifice and self discipline were common traits
-learned to kill, yet practiced not to kill
-improved himself mentally, physically, and spiritually

Sounds like the USMC !!!
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Old 12-12-2005, 07:26 AM   #41
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Evil Eyes Re: How Samurai i s aikido

As was said in Hagakure, "a masterless Samurai is no Samurai at all". Besides, nowadays the philosophy of "when faced with a choice of life or death it is better to choose to die" seems very unessecary. And there is no way authorities are going to allow anyone to practice by cutting the heads off of criminals. You could always do Aikido and join the armed forces, that would be as close as it could get i think.
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Old 01-11-2006, 01:15 AM   #42
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

I may be seen as nit picky but i "think" from my studies that the samurai code or bushido was most firmly codified during the Tokugawa era ie before the Meiji Restoration. This is because the Tokugawa era saw the unification of the country under the rather iron fisted rule of the tokugawa shogunate. The samurai had no enemy to fight and their role degenerated from truly bloody warriors/soldiers to a more beauracratic role... thus many traditional jutsu were made into do again this is prior to the 1870's... sorry i don't know the exact dates ( too lazy to look them up), but this period begins loosely with the events recounted in the Movie/book Shogun i'd say about 200 years before the Last Samurai events...
just my 2 cents.

Edwin Neal


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Old 01-11-2006, 10:08 AM   #43
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Dates: The Edo (Tokugawa) Period began in 1600 when Tokugawa took power after the Battle of Sekigahara (1603 being the official date the seat of government was moved to Edo, modern Tokyo). Hagakure was written in 1716. Perry's "black ships" came in 1853. The Meiji Restoration is held to have officially occurred in 1868. The Last Samurai is loosely based on the Satsuma Rebellion, which occurred in 1877.

Josh Reyer

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Old 01-12-2006, 05:09 PM   #44
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

thanks joshua ...

Edwin Neal


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Old 01-12-2006, 05:49 PM   #45
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

I havent read this thread, so im just replying to the title, to give you some context. I would say: Not very. It being a post - samurai MA. Ok, It has it's roots in jujitsu and some styles of iaijutsu/kenjutsu/koryu arts, but really it has little to do with the samurai class. The samurai were generally expected to kill and die, is this a part of aikido? Not really, you do not learn how to practise/commit seppuku, how to perform kaishaku etc etc. It has elements of feudal japanese culture, such as the wearing of hakama, ettiquette, sensei/sempai/kohai relationships, use of the bokken and jo and more. But it isnt a 'samurai art'. In my humble opinion.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 01-12-2006, 06:15 PM   #46
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

if it has roots in those styles then it is a continuation of the traditional samurai arts, the real difference is that after the meiji restoration, and abolition of the samurai class these arts began to be taught to non samurai and non japanese whereas before they MA were forbidden to any but the warrior class...

Edwin Neal


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Old 01-12-2006, 07:53 PM   #47
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

It has elements of feudal japanese culture, such as the wearing of hakama, ettiquette, sensei/sempai/kohai relationships,

Um, those are elements of modern Japanese culture as much as feudal Japanese culture...

Josh Reyer

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Old 01-12-2006, 08:19 PM   #48
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

so true joshua!!! sniff sniff i'm homesick for Japan...

Edwin Neal


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Old 01-13-2006, 07:26 AM   #49
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

'Um, those are elements of modern Japanese culture as much as feudal Japanese culture...'

Um, yes? However they originated before the modernisation of japan, before/during japans feudal period. By continuing these traditions, modern japanese are upholding their countries feudalistic past. Just as in England we have such things as 'knighthoods' etc etc.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 01-13-2006, 09:39 AM   #50
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Re: How Samurai i s aikido

Quote:
Nick Simpson wrote:
'Um, those are elements of modern Japanese culture as much as feudal Japanese culture...'

Um, yes? However they originated before the modernisation of japan, before/during japans feudal period. By continuing these traditions, modern japanese are upholding their countries feudalistic past. Just as in England we have such things as 'knighthoods' etc etc.
I actually agree with the thrust of your previous post, i.e., that aikido has little to do with actual samurai. The point I'm making is that etiquette/hakama/sempai-kohai relationships are not as feudal as knighthoods (which have shifted in purpose going from feudal England to modern England), but rather as feudal as, say, keeping dogs as pets, or going to church. These are things that were present in feudal England, but they are too prevelant in modern England to be considered elements of feudal England. Your examples of bokken and jo I have no problem with, as they are tied to the martial traditions of feudal Japan, and aren't seen outside that context. But hakama is routinely used as formal wear, sensei/sempai/kohai relationships permeat every aspect of society, and etiquette, well, that's a universal for every culture. Those aren't elements of feudal Japan, just of Japan.

Probably semantical nitpicking, but there's a whole lotta cultural misconceptions out there, so I just wanted to clarify things.

Josh Reyer

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