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Old 08-04-2005, 10:34 AM   #51
Roy
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Rob wrote,

"How do you think you might use aikido to do that?"

You need to elaborate a bit more here, on whether this was a question for me or ??
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Old 08-04-2005, 11:53 AM   #52
rob_liberti
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Sorry, Roy, I did mean you for that specific line - although I'm interested in anyone's answer. After that line, I was basically ranting - but I feel much better now!!! - Rob
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Old 08-04-2005, 01:13 PM   #53
senshincenter
 
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

I understand that this situation (i.e. the one mentioned by Rob above) is quite comical to a great many of us. Personally, I think I am in a good position to recognize this humor because our dojo is setup in total contrast to the underlying assumptions that make such a laughing possible. In particular, I am referring to our dojo's pedagogical orientation -- being aimed toward gaining a spontaneity of movement and application (i.e. a transcending of the art's limiting methods of transmission). From this point of view, the comedy in this scenario comes from having one's ignorance, and/or the attachment to one's own delusion regarding the covering up of that ignorance, exposed. The comedy comes from having one's false sense of reality come up against Reality with a capital "R."

For all of us that have our funny bone tickled by this kind of insight -- which is indeed what it is -- training is about confronting Reality and our given distance from it. We train with Katate-dori, but while we are doing that, we are not necessarily only training for Katate-dori. We are more interested in what Katate-dori training tells us about other things -- other things more relative to less-choreographed training environments. For example, we may see the grab training of Katate-dori as a precursor to tsuki -- seeing fixated movement as a good tool for grasping the fundamental aspects of ballistic movement (which is harder to grasp because timing issues become more relevant). Another example: We may see Katate-dori not so much as a wrist grab attack but as an investigation into tactical concerns that are related to homo-lateral architectures or strategic applications. Etc. Thus, in one sense, the joke comes from the presence of an ignorance, the attachment to a delusion that hides such ignorance from us, the presence of Reality with a capital "R" -- that we are distant from - and a notion that Reality can only be penetrated via having a sense of something deeper existing (something more beyond the initial surface of the topic).

In other words, we have all these aikidoka out there -- and it should be said that they always exist "out there," that "we" are never really part of that "they" -- who do forms training but are unaware of the possible pitfalls of such training. They are folks that are unaware of the ways that such training, through one's own ignorance and need for delusion, can distance him or her from what is Real. Therefore, we make jokes, or, that is to say, we rightly see the humor in such a distancing from what is Real; and the production and need for those delusions that hide the true distance from Reality for this semi-anonymous "they" becomes laughable.

However, trying to tie this back into the main conversation, how less laughable are the following things from the same sense of these above-mentioned elements being present (i.e. ignorance, delusion, attachment to delusion, and Reality):

- How laughable is it to hold that one can gain proficiency in technique by simply training in technique alone? (This is an underlying delusion that often works for us when we are opting to have our funds to the dojo go toward paying off the sensei for certain silences -- for having certain relevant aspects of our character be "off limits" or out of bounds concerning "training.")

- How laughable is it to hold that Aikido or Budo is a Way, that it is a manner of living one's life, etc., and then training nowhere near as much as we can and/or training at a level that is nowhere near our deepest level of being? (This is an underlying delusion that today supports the weird acceptance that somehow earning a material object (e.g. a gold medal) should and does require more dedication and discipline than studying something as sublime as Aiki or one's true Self or than cultivating human virtue. Today, an athletic coach has no problem telling someone, "Look, if you cannot give me this many hours a week, forget about it -- go find some amateur/friend league to play in or watch it on TV." Whereas, a Budo sensei is very often finding him/herself saying, "Sure, one or two hours out of every 168 hours will be fine.")

- How laughable is it to suggest that we can penetrate Reality with the same mind that is deluded and thus blind to Reality? (This is an underlying delusion that supports the notion that we are not in need of a mentor that will reflect - so that we can see - all aspects of our mind and our being.)

- How laughable is it to hold that we do dabble in the art, to suggest that we are fine with that, but then to experience shame or discontent, etc., when another points it out to us? (This is an underlying delusion that we hold when we come to a teacher that has dedicated his/her life to an art of being, an art of becoming, and then expect the truth of that investment to not shine a light on our own lack of investment.)

For me this list can go on and on -- much more than if I were just to restrict myself to the delusions that surround basic (general/popular) Aikido training methods and its possible pitfalls. Yet, we, for ourselves, but also for our students, have a huge problem talking about these distances from Reality and about the delusions that support -- even inspire -- that distance. We will talk about this strike or that strike, about this tactic or that tactic, about this teacher's or that teacher's technique, etc., but we seem to want to avoid at all costs having to talk about these things and/or, worse, having to listen to these things being exposed. For me, this is related to how repulsing emotions have come to lose their (positive and proactive) place in much of current Budo training. This is why I have attempted to attach the absence of these repulsing emotions, and the desire to avoid them as much as possible, to a lack of clarity and thus to a lost chance of gaining proximity to our ideals (which must mean a proximity to Reality with a capital "R").

When you come to Budo training, we should come to change. We should not come to "confirm" our current status quo. To be sure, we must seek change at our own pace and according to the measures of our own dojo and teacher, but to hold anything back, to hold something off the table (e.g. this or that aspect of our heart/mind), from this point of view, is to resist the very process we are claiming as our own. Thus, to say "This emotion, or this side of myself, is off limits" is to resist against our own self; more than that, it is to defeat our own self. This then is the furthest we can get from Osensei's understanding that Aikido is about attaining victory over one's self. If we want this victory, and assuming we are in good hands, if we are going to listen to our teachers when they say, "Hey, there's no way you can defend yourself in Reality with that understanding," not letting the embarrassment or shame fuel us toward quitting and/or toward experiencing some sort of debilitating depression or self-defeatism, instead letting the statement point the way to greater and greater investment and thus to finer and finer accomplishments, then we should also be able to do the same when our teachers say, "Right now you are wasting my time and yours." More than that, in my opinion, if we are in a place where these other personal delusions (i.e. delusions other than those that are technical in nature) do not come up for investigation regularly, where they not exposed every step along the way, if we are truly interested in this victory, we should find a play where they do. If we are running a place where they remain irrelevant or only slightly relevant, we should reorganize ourselves according to this victory -- the one by which the Founder has defined his art, and by which our Path should be laid out.


My opinion,
dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 08-04-2005, 01:40 PM   #54
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
From this point of view, the comedy in this scenario comes from having one's ignorance, and/or the attachment to one's own delusion regarding the covering up of that ignorance, exposed. The comedy comes from having one's false sense of reality come up against Reality with a capital "R."
In my dojo we call this "showing each other the mirror." It's often quite humorous, while always trying our best to be as gentle as possible and compassionate. We're all human and in the same boat... trying to learn and grow while sharing in our budo practice and our lives. Whatever we learn, it is not real until it is demonstrated in our relationships. Theory and talk is cheap. We must have the courage to show our real selves in the dilemma rich environment of the dojo. Eventually, at some point in the practice, our dojo is wherever we are at the moment.

Learning principles and techniques amounts to "jutsu" and the way we use the discipline of the practice introspectively and the way we get along with our fellow man is "DO".

This is what I've learned from my teachers, sempai, and my own practice. Your way may be different or we may use different terms, etc. but the practice that involves seishin tanren is the key. It's a recognizable quality in anyone who trains in this manner.

Chuck Clark
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Old 08-04-2005, 01:53 PM   #55
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Chuck, this should be on every dojo wall - in my opinion:

"Whatever we learn, it is not real until it is demonstrated in our relationships."

Thanks for saying it. I'll be passing that one on to my own students.
david

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Old 08-04-2005, 04:06 PM   #56
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

"Demonstrated" sticks a bit; who determines if it is demonstrated, and if so how succesfully? Does the student? Does someone else? Does it not involve a certain distance to Reality to evaluate or study something?
Do students generally profess their intent with their training when they join a dojo?
Also, do you really believe we can learn "DO" in the dojo? That how we relate to other people off the mat will change as a result of training? Or do we bring it in when we join? That could be one of the reasons why it can be so difficult to hold on to people. The sheer level of physical intimacy can be daunting for some to overcome. Do we overcome it because we learn to, or because we joined with the intent to overcome it? A bit of sophistery, perhaps. Perhaps years of intense training can bring about change in any personality that age and other developments are neutral to. I just think there might be room to assume that some people are attracted to aikido and stay with it because it mirrors the way they like to relate to people? The raw material is there, so to speak. How you process it is what makes for different types of dojos. Some may require a level of investment that some people are unable to make because of other priorities. Should you not still teach them to their potential?
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Old 08-04-2005, 06:08 PM   #57
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Hello Camilla,

Lots of good points.

Who determines if it is demonstrated? Everyone in the dojo. It's a dynamic process.
Do students generally profess their intent...? In our dojo they do.
Do I really believe we can learn DO in the dojo? For sure, I've seen it happen quite a lot over the past 40 years of teaching. Why couldn't it be learned in a dojo where it happens? I get lots of feedback about how people change their lives outside the dojo. It's one reason they stay. I agree that the intimacy in a dojo can be intimidating and some people don't stay. It's the way of things. Of course there are some people that stay because they recognize things that they like and are familiar with. Some make the commitment to train and then leave for many reasons. We teach everyone in ways that allow for growth and support along with the "dilemma rich environment." If people stay, it's because they like what they're learning and want more. There're many ways to learn from the dojo experience. Everyone takes what they need at the time. As long as everyone gives a good attack and takes care of their partner not only in physical training but also the mutual respect of reiho they're welcome in our dojo.

Chuck Clark
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Old 08-04-2005, 07:24 PM   #58
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

I think we have to go back to the several times it has been said, "this type of teaching and this type of learning is not for everyone." I think we should always keep this in mind as issues like this are being raised and/or as we are coming to reflect on these issues and what they might say about ourselves and/or about our training.

For example, some words or concepts have been thrown around: the spontaneous application of Aikido and seishin tanren. As I am reading this thread, I see that I have some things in common with others that have posted. I see that Rob and I have a common perspective regarding some of the problems that come up with forms training. I see that I have some things in common with Chuck regarding the role and marks of spiritual forging. I would never presume to suggest, or even hold in my own mind, that we agree 100% over these things. I am only aware that we share some common ground -- a ground I seek to use for further discussion and for further reflection. As this common ground works as a base for such things, I am aware of the fact that my own reasoning and practice as led me to this common ground. In particular, I am aware that my own reasoning and practice has me holding, at a personal level, that such things (i.e. spontaneous Aikido and spiritual forging) are indeed left out only at the cost of having something great go missing. This is my personal view -- reflected in my personal training. They are present in my personal training, and in my teaching, because I am seeking to avoid what their absence inevitably means -- as demonstrated to me by my own mind and my own experience.

At the same time, I am well aware of the presence of folks that do not follow either my reasoning and/or my practice. As a result, I am aware that the common ground I may have with others is not a common ground I will have with everyone. This difference is something that innately marks the entire reasoning process; as such, reasoning is a process ultimately based upon demarcation and/or delineation. Reasoning draws lines between things as it seeks to bring other things together. Practice does this as well, as the given proofs of experience are gathered from particular physical experiments and not from all of them. In the face of the sheer volume of difference between my reasoning and my practice and what others are doing in this now great community of aikidoka, it would be ridiculous to suggest that we must all line up according to one doctrine.

It is ridiculous for two reasons: First, it is ridiculous to suggest that we should all line up under one doctrine because the foundation of any doctrine that is held at a personal level must be grounded internally -- must come from one's reasoning processes and through one's experience. Such a thing would be attempting to gain sameness via tools that create difference. Second, it is ridiculous to suggest that we should all line up under one doctrine because sameness in terms of numbers is irrelevant to both reasoning and true experience. At one level this means that what is reasonable and what is true in experience does not gain or lose anything according to how large a number hold the same view, but at another level this also means that everyone else's Aikido, in a very real or concrete way, is irrelevant to our own. This is why someone can tell me, or I can read others saying, that "Aikido sucks," or that "Catholicism and Aikido both suck," or that to do quality Aikido I need to have some sort federation legitimacy of some kind, etc., and I can keep on training as if I have heard or read nothing -- holding my own views contrary to these positions that are different from my own. They do not touch me because they cannot touch me.

So some things have been mentioned: spontaneous Aikido and spiritual forging. Some jokes were made regarding the way we often come to both of these things. To be sure, some implications can be drawn from what is being said and related to what others (who are not speaking) are doing. This happens every time we come up against a reasoning process that is not our own or every time we encounter someone who has different experiences. However, this is not the point of what is being said since no one can or would trying to get everyone to follow a single doctrine anyways. We are free at such times to simply say, "Not my thing," "Not my cup of tea." No one should or can be faulted for stating the obvious -- "I do not do that."

This is not to suggest that we cannot discuss such things. Even our differences pertaining to such things can leave room for discussion. It is just that we are to realize that such discussion is merely a matter of ideas rubbing up against each other and not outright attempts to curb the ideas of another against their own desires. That means that these discussions can only get as personal as we allow them and that any ensuing reflections that they may generate can only get as deep as we individually permit. For me then, when someone says or hints "forms training will not lead to spontaneous application," I may see a common ground, or I may see an interest in something I am not interested in (e.g. fighting with Aikido), or I may see a reasoning I disagree with. If I adopt any of the first two positions, I would seem to be fine -- meaning I will not come up against anything that "sticks." If I want to engage in the third possible reading, I will have to rub shoulders closer with the speaker -- meaning, I will have to set my reasoning and my training experiences next to those of the speaker. This too can prove to be very useful and thus well worth doing. What seems out of place, in my opinion, because it does not do us any good, is to hold up and contrast something with our contrary position while being unwilling or unable to put up our own reasoning and/or experiences on the table.

Now, why say all this? I say this because I think what would be most useful regarding your last post would be for you to ask yourself why such things "stick," versus having some of us that have some agreement regarding seishin tanren answer your questions. However, the latter may happen with the best of intentions and may indeed prove to be helpful. Why suggest that we may not want to focus on your questions? Because earlier you said this: "All I know is I would not be as happy with my dojo if there was an overt expectation that I use Aikido to examine myself and my motives directly. For me, that is just not the setting." In my opinion, this is the second of relating to what has been said: with seishin tanren, we are beginning to talk about something you are not interested in. Of course, here I am assuming that you do not mean by such statements that such introspection cannot take place via Aikido or in a dojo -- that here you are only meaning to talk about your Aikido and your dojo experience. However, if that is not the case, and you do indeed mean to have your reasoning and your experience make contact with that of another, then could I (humbly and politely) return your questions to you before I actually attempted to answer them:

- Are such things not demonstrable for all to see?
- In studying something, are we to remain forever within the manufactured "realities" we utilize to address learning curves?
- Can students generally profess their intent with their training when they join a dojo? Should they be able to? Does it benefit them to be able to do so or does it hinder them to be unable to do so?
- Is it impossible to learn The Way in a Place for the Way?
- Is it impossible for one dynamic motivated along a given ideal (i.e. the dojo as a social setting motivated along the concept of Aiki) to affect other dynamics (i.e. other social settings) not motivated by that first ideal? Isn't this what happens with our home life and our outside life when we are children?
- Whatever the means, is not the overcoming of the dismay that is ours because of the sheer level of physical intimacy part of the training, part of progress in the training? Doesn't it have to be?
- Why does the possibility of the physical/spiritual cultivation of Aiki inhibit those that want to understand such a term only metaphorically?
- Do teachers who follow their ideals -- follow what their reasoning and experience has led them to adopt as their own perspective -- help students fulfill their own potential or is that potential better served by a teacher who compromises his/her perspective for some reason or experience he/she has long ago rejected?


Your points are excellent and, for me personally, your posts have provided a lot of fuel for further personal reflection pertaining to what I do and why I do it. Moreover, I consider points very real, particularly for you. Only, as you can tell by my own posts, I personally am not interested in a training or in a dojo where happiness is put above self-examination. To be sure, I have my own reasons for why I do not choose to train that way, but really, my rejection of it is a personal preference -- it is not my cup of tea, not my thing. It is not my thing for reasons that I have attempted to state above. So I fear we may just end up talking past each other here -- because we are just doing different things. I wonder if are questions to each other is not just us passing each other -- talking past each other. However, I certainly did not want to suggest by a silence that what you say is not worthy of existing and/or even of considering -- it is. Hence, this reply -- this attempt to stay connected through a very real difference in understanding Aikido and thus in practicing it.

Thanks so much,
david

David M. Valadez
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Old 08-04-2005, 09:55 PM   #59
Roy
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Rob Liberti,
That was funny!! I hate Aikido training that involves uke grabbing, 93% of the time. because, like that rant points out, its useless in real life.
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Old 08-05-2005, 08:06 AM   #60
rob_liberti
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

I suppose we just need to avoid the extremes. I actually couldn't care less what technique is being practices at this point, because I'm practicing how I open my body up and unify as nage and uke.

I think we just need to be cautious about extremes. I agree that happiness is not more important than self-honesty. However, I've seen many people who have training like 30+ years and haven't smiled or laughed one time in that entire span of their training because they are "serious students". This is just another delusion. They have practiced being emotionally constipated for 30+, congratulations. Emotional content is quite powerful when expressed through touch. It should not be stifled in an attempt to convince people how serious you are. Give me a break. I just want to slap these people on the back of their tight shoulders and say "lighten up!". (I take these people just as seriously as I take the mall security guard shaking their keys at the 13 year olds.) These "serious" students tend to be the people most guilty of shaming others.

I like the idea of hard training, but I like the idea of hard training that is fun even more. If it just can't be fun, then so be it - there is always next time. Some times it's much more hard to train a combination of movements that is subtle and counter-intuitive to what we typically do. There is not much physical sweating going on, but it almost looks like people in physical therapy. Letting the tension go by laughing a little (a little!) can be a good thing because it actually helps give people time/space to process (which is typically a goal of a teacher - "optimal learning").

Rob
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Old 08-05-2005, 09:33 AM   #61
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

I'm also in favor of joyful practice. Laughter that's appropriate is always appropriate.

Rob, "it's a shame" that you seem to have experienced too many of the "tight shouldered" "emotionally constipated" people that you consider to be "serious" students that shame others. I think it should be really difficult for others to push our buttons. The shame that I have spoken of comes from within. Just like giri comes from within. It's not something that others can require of you. If they do, that's their problem.

I know lots and lots of really serious students of budo that don't fit that picture. We just add a bit of humerous "laxitive" in with their popsicle after practice and they're fine by next practice. I have heard the types you wrote about described in Japan as being "full of tea" or in the Zen crowd as "bullet heads". Joyful, serious people spot them where ever they're at. It's their way, but not mine.

Chuck Clark
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Old 08-05-2005, 11:55 AM   #62
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

That is a good point Rob -- about trying to avoid extremes. To that, I think we should also add that we should try to avoid being reactionary. I think we may do this a lot, even having it go unnoticed in our training.

For example:

- One guy comes in talking all about Japanese history (even inaccurately) and does not ever want to realize the importance and centrality of the mat, and then we go on to dismiss any and all legitimate interest and knowledge in Japanese history.

- One guy comes in and he's all into the theory of the art and cannot for the life of him come to embody any aspect of his obsession with theory, and then we go on to denounce theory and/or any position that claims that theoretical analysis must play a significant role in our training.

- One guy comes in all "spiritual," full of airy things, with no feet on the ground, and then we go on to reject such considerations as distractions from what is "real."

- One guy comes in all hippied-out and talking Zen and then we hate Zen.

- One guy comes in all into fighting and self-defense and misses the bigger picture and then we go on to reject any sense of the martial in our training for fear of missing the "bigger picture."

Etc.

In the same way that we are trying to avoid the extremes, in my opinion, we should also seek to avoid being reactionary -- because it often inspires us to adopt an extreme. If we come up against some serious guy that seems to be missing the bigger picture, the objective, I feel, should not be to reject his seriousness outright. Rather, we should seek to purify what is incorrect about his seriousness -- to learn from his mistakes by noting what is wrong in his understanding of how seriousness can play a role in regards to our overall training investment. When we want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, even for the best of intentions, I think we are acting in a reactionary way and thus we are very prone to adopting extremes. When we adopt an extreme, its just another way of saying that we are allowing ourselves to be totally ignorant about a whole lot. That is why I think your advice is such good advice.

David M. Valadez
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Old 08-05-2005, 01:32 PM   #63
Dennis Hooker
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

I am often (a)shamed to call with I do Aikido.


Dennis (Older than dirt and feeling my age, one sage tells me don't worry nothing will be alright. Another says rage at the dieing of the light. I'm just to damn tired to worry or rage so how come some people can still rattle my cage. Ya sometime I am ashamed to call what I do Aikido.) Hooker

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Old 08-05-2005, 07:35 PM   #64
Charles Hill
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Quote:
Dennis Hooker wrote:
I am often (a)shamed to call with I do Aikido.
Mr. Hooker,

I just want to let you know that your articles, "Ramblings of an old yudansha," and "Grinding the stone, polishing the mirror," have meant a lot to me. I try to make sure to pull out those old copies of ATM and read them at least once a year.

Charles "if YOU'RE ashamed, what the heck am I supposed to be?" Hill
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Old 08-05-2005, 09:52 PM   #65
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Hi Dennis,

Yes, I understand... maybe that's why we old guys continue to practice. I'm not really sure, but....yeah, I understand.

Hope things are going well for you and the family.

Take care,

Chuck Clark
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Old 08-06-2005, 12:17 AM   #66
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

I've just scanned this thread, I'll really read it in earnest tomorrow morning.

As I understand the shame you're talking about, I'd say Aikido/Budo is not possible with out it. If you never feel shame, you're probably not looking with real humility. If you never feel pride, you're probably not looking with real humility. (If you never feel shame for your pride, well, maybe you're just a sociopath).

I feel shame all the time, at various levels, for various things. I feel great shame that I so seldom act on my shame. I feel great pride that I occasionally do act on my shame.

What a worthwhile topic to discuss.
Thanks to everyone. I've got lots to consider.

Hooker Sensei, whatever shame you feel, you got a lot of cause for pride too. You're a nice man. Not nearly enough of them out there.
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Old 08-06-2005, 08:09 AM   #67
rob_liberti
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

If you study cultures that don't raise children with shame, and then compare us with them, you can make intellegent comparisons. Otherwise, this is basically the same thing as people who have only ever known aikido (and no other martial art) explaining how aikido is the best.

Rob
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Old 08-06-2005, 01:45 PM   #68
Mike Collins
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

It's my opinion, and to some extent, my experience that shame as an outside influence i.e. a teacher points out a lack in your(my) ethic or intent in training is of less value than a teacher who models the correct ethic and intent in his/her own training.

I've trained with people who spoke of ridding the self of impurities, then behaved as a human being does, and displayed an obvious dose of that impurity, and showed no particular remorse. The message was lost because of the humanity of the teacher. Not his fault, at one level, because teachers are human beings; at another level he is responsible for that lost message by his acting in fault.

I've trained with another teacher who doesn't really lecture about personal development beyond the necessities of showing respect for others. But his actions, in the dojo and outside the dojo show that he is deeply committed to improving on himself constantly and working hard to not be in his own little world about himself only. His attitude and his teaching has been "A teacher must be very severe. With himself" He feels his job is to make doing the kind of Aikido, and the kind of internal work attractive to those who are so inclined, but not to foist his values on others. As an Aikido teacher, his main deal seems to be to make the training such a good time and such a challenging time for those who can stand it, that the dojo is just a place to come that's more attractive than it's many competitors. As a human being, he has personal faults, but he doesn't make any efforts to hide them or to pretend they don't exist. He's pretty honest with himself, and therefor can be pretty honest with others. More importantly, as he's not preaching, his message isn't lost in his faults. If anything his faults serve to make the message more accessible.

The more "serious" stuff like internalizing a severe work ethic, and a severe spiritual desire to be a better human being are, and need to be, personal expressions of personal desires. I think he sees his job in that context only to be a good mirror for those who have such intention. The work, the motivation, has to come from within. If shame is used at all, it's only used by the presentation of a model that is always striving to be better than it was just before. Basically, shame is useless if it doesn't reside within, and attempting to titillate or sensitize shame in another is just another form of mind manipulation, even if the intent is clean. Truth stands on it's own. And it always should be the thing sought after by both the teacher and the student.

My understanding is that Ueshiba Osensei wasn't much of a one to judge others by their behavior, unless they tried to bullshit themselves about who they were. He was big on sincerity, and that resonates with me.

I see the mirror as a very different tool than the prod.
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Old 08-08-2005, 12:34 PM   #69
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Okay, you wanted me to share, so here it is (long!) - personal and not theoretical - although I would speculate my like is out there:
For you to ask yourself why such things "stick" Well, tying into the rest of your post: I guess because for me, aikido is not a "lifestyle", it is not what guides the rest of my existence. Hence, my relationships outside the dojo are not for the dojo to evaluate. I see my existence as a set of rings inside each other, each of them closer to and influencing the core, and aikido is one of those rings. There is connection to the rest, but not determination -- the direction of that is from inside out. Aikido feels right to me because it swings with the rest of me. Right now I am content letting it do its magic without my mind interfering with it.
With seishin tanren, we are beginning to talk about something you are not interested in. David, I enjoy your posts because they are such a challenge to me. I can never just read them and get them. So yes, when you say we are talking past each other you would probably be quite right. I find it difficult to relate to your experience with aikido. It seems to take up so much of you. See, for me aikido feels necessary, but it is an experiential thing for me, not an intellectual or philosophical pursuit. Your experience is interesting to me because it is so far from my own.
- Are such things not demonstrable for all to see? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Experience and ideals tend to be held on the individual level. The relationships that I believe can be evaluated in the dojo are only those that relate to the dojo, that your conduct is in conformance with expectations. I do not negate the possibility that aikido can bring a sense of awareness of self and ones place in and interaction with the world, it just doesn't occupy center stage for me in that process. My family provides that setting. To me, family is the closest ring, and it is my interaction with them that demonstrates to me "how I am doing." I don't care much what others think. I do hold values about what constitutes a "good person" and have ideals that I hold myself to. They are not derived from aikido (or religion, for those who may wonder). They are derived from experience -- and yes, that would be my unique experience and hence they are my unique ideals. As you say, "everyone else's Aikido, in a very real or concrete way, is irrelevant to our own."
- In studying something, are we to remain forever within the manufactured "realities" we utilize to address learning curves? I simply don't know how learning curves are addressed, but I think that manufactured realities are the nature of aikido practice. We can never truly replicate the terror of the scenario described with someone attacking a child. Again, it is a matter of how you approach training. Is it self-defense? Then yes, it is a manufactured reality. Is it a voyage of self-discovery? Again, I would maintain it to be a manufactured reality, stages set for your exploration. Is it spontaneous? As often as possible, but based on the acquired framework. My sensei uses terms I have a lot of difficulty with. He speaks another language at times. He urges us to locate the source of our aikido (at least, that is what I understand him to say), but by referring to the floor beneath the floor, waves, circles of energy etc, and to describe how certain executions of a technique are different -- "how does it feel?" I don't relate to aikido that way (yet). I do not have the vocab to describe my aikido that way. I don't know that I'd be able to recognize the floor beneath the floor if it hit me in the face (which, I may add, it does on occasion). But I still get something out of the class. I do not negate the use of the unfamiliar or even "sticky" in getting another take on things, although I may be unable to make it my own.
- Can students generally profess their intent with their training when they join a dojo? Should they be able to? Does it benefit them to be able to do so or does it hinder them to be unable to do so? It benefits me to know that I am making room for aikido in a way that takes minimal time away from my kid. I am incredibly fortunate to be able to practice at noon as often as I want, and still be home by 5:30 p.m. I would speculate that it would be a very good idea for people to be aware of what they want from aikido in order to not be disappointed. It may also be a good idea to communicate this to the dojo so the dojo does not get disappointed, and they can help dispel any misunderstandings.
- Is it impossible to learn The Way in a Place for the Way? No, not if that's your purpose. Can you learn aikido without studying The Way? Again, it depends on the level of training you aspire to and what you really hope to get out of aikido. I do not study O-Sensei's sayings. I do not read about aikido. As said above, it is purely experiential to me. Those who wish to learn The Way would probably be better off in a place dedicated to it. But where are places for The Way? Are they only organized environments? Or can you learn The Way through experience and reflection anywhere? Do you have to define it as The Way, or can you strive to be better and make the world better and not call it anything -- maybe not even make it a conscious effort? I have a personal aversion to "Answers" -- why? well, that's all part of the family history -- I am not religious, I do not seek The Way, I am instinctively suspicious of people who claim to know the Truth -- and so naturally, I would believe that you can definitely piece it together and be "a good person" without the assistance of organized Truths. And that, then, is probably the key to my experience of aikido and why I reacted to your post in the first place.
- Is it impossible for one dynamic motivated along a given ideal (i.e. the dojo as a social setting motivated along the concept of Aiki) to affect other dynamics (i.e. other social settings) not motivated by that first ideal? Isn't this what happens with our home life and our outside life when we are children? Yes, it is what happens. In my world, you are shaped by your closest relationships, for better or for worse, and that is what may be polished by the outside world, or indeed changed but it will always be part of you. As a child, I brought home experiences and got some help where necessary to put them in a framework I could understand. As I grew older and had more experiences, I had learned to trust other people's experiences and ideas. The way I would make sense of things was the same, though. Reflection and exchange. I believe that family (or how you grow up) is the strongest influence on your personality and relationships, and that it takes years and years of dedicated effort to change that. I don't think you are necessarily eternally hamstrung by nurture and that everybody must go through years of therapy; age, maturity and exposure often do the trick. My point about the dojo was that I personally am drawn to it (my dojo) because I like the atmosphere there. It charges me. It makes me so happy that people I have never seen before smile at and greet me on the street when I walk back to work. If I did not like it, I wouldn't be there. I think people seek out the dojos that respond to their needs. Hence, your students seek you out because you answer a need in them. If they come looking for change, and that is what you help them with, it's a great match. I do not think people will change if they are not aware of a need for change. As a matter of fact, I think they would resist or even resent the implication.
- Whatever the means, is not the overcoming of the dismay that is ours because of the sheer level of physical intimacy part of the training, part of progress in the training? Doesn't it have to be? Absolutely, I am just saying that many students never really become students because they can't get over it. Physical contact with strangers is so foreign to so many people. If you are not somehow motivated to get over it, you will leave the dojo after a very short period of time. One way to get people over it is to make that aspect of it fun and light, not weighty and serious. I think fear becomes an obstacle for many that does not allow them to see all the others things in aikido.
- Why does the possibility of the physical/spiritual cultivation of Aiki inhibit those that want to understand such a term only metaphorically? I think this one may be an instance of talking past each other, David. I simply don't understand the question. I do not think of aikido in terms of an expression of aiki. In very basic terms, "aikido" is just a name for something I experience. I suppose that means I am trying only to understand the term metaphorically? The possibility of the physical/spiritual cultivation of it does not inhibit me. It is just not in my frame of reference. It is not what I seek in aikido. That other people do is perfectly within the realm of possibility, and I in no way negate the value of that. I absolutely agree that I am not even scratching the surface, I will most willingly concede that aikido could be so much more than what it is to me. However, I can handle this level. I can relate to it. It means something to me. And it is comfortable, so absolutely -- at this point, it is good enough. Increasing my investment would come at a cost I am not currently willing to pay. My time is better spent with my kid -- what I show her has ramifications not only for her, but for everyone she will come into contact with.
- Do teachers who follow their ideals -- follow what their reasoning and experience has led them to adopt as their own perspective -- help students fulfill their own potential or is that potential better served by a teacher who compromises his/her perspective for some reason or experience he/she has long ago rejected? Teachers who follow their ideals will always be more compelling, and hence have greater impact. You are free to set the expectations of your dojo. Your students are drawn to you because of what they find there. You might advise someone like me to find another dojo if I am not aware enough to bow out by myself. I believe you to object to students who have hopes to advance their training without committing to it. But how about the student who says to you "Sensei, I can practice only twice a week. Some weeks I may not even make it. I love this. This is important to me. When I am here, I will be here completely. May I stay?" Would the reflection make a difference?

So back to shame: I think I responded to your original post at such length because I share with Rob an instinctive reaction to the word as something highly undesirable. Again, in my role as a parent, I hope to make my kid behave in certain ways because it feels good to her, not because not doing so would make her feel bad by me attaching an "or else" to it. It's fine if it feels bad because she instinctively knows it's wrong/hurts someone else etc. If she can listen to herself and others she will be able to navigate much better. That's back to the whole thing of self - who is she listening to? Me or herself or some combination? Pondering over nature and nurture is a great way to exercise your mind. As was this. I basically don't think shame has a place in training as an outside influence. I don't even know that it is great to be self-propelled by a feeling of shame - joy as a motivating factor in getting me to training just seems so more compelling to me. I do aikido for me - I went to school for so many other reasons, a big one of which was a feeling of duty and unavoidability. A sense of shame was at times the only thing that got me to go. In retrospect, it had a valuable function. But if aikido ever becomes about something else than joy and energy, I don't know that I'll keep doing it. As a matter of fact, I did stop once because the dojo I was in was not for me. A lot of shaming in that one, actually.
I certainly did not want to suggest by a silence that what you say is not worthy of existing and/or even of considering. David, I have enjoyed this tremendously. I have never felt ignored and I hope I have not given you reason to think I did. I sincerely thank you for your very well considered replies.
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Old 08-08-2005, 12:54 PM   #70
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Camilla,

And though we may at times risk talking past each other, your post, which I humbly receive, shows me that we are indeed walking side by side in many ways.

I too have enjoyed this conversation tremendously.
Thank you,
david

David M. Valadez
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Old 09-09-2005, 12:43 PM   #71
rob_liberti
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

One the folks in my dojo emailed me her commentary about the this thread:

I was really stuck that David seems to have more than an average share of generosity and tact. I was especially impressed throughout the forum whenever anyone said anything that seemed contradictory he found the value in their point and praised/thanked them for it. Very gracious -- his scholarly irimi-nage is first rate. And, thanks to all for the experience of seeing a real community of dedicated students and scholars at work.

There were many posts that had the "Ok, but " feel to them. Contributors as a whole were seemingly disconcerted that this forum was going to turn into "It's alright to manipulate and shame others for the purpose of growth". Clearly this ends-means argument was never the intent of the original discussion. Lots of great stuff came up but only a some of it was firmly centered on the proposed idea.

I think the forum never really got to deeply discuss the occurrences and uses of shame in training. I believe this happened because the main focus became defining shame rather than investigating it. This quote from post #68 clarifies the original intention well: "Basically, shame is useless if it doesn't reside within, and attempting to titillate or sensitize shame in another is just another form of mind manipulation, even if the intent is clean. Truth stands on it's own. And it always should be the thing sought after by both the teacher and the student." (Italics mine).

In his article, "Who's in Crisis?" (http://ellisamdur.com/article_whosincrisis.html ) Ellis Amdur provides a fascinating definition of shame that I think it highly pertinent to this discussion despite its original context as part of a presentation to law enforcement and mental health professionals. "Shame does not mean to be embarrassed. It is the experience of being exposed, without the possibility of escape. Shame is inextricably intertwined with vulnerability -- not merely the fact that we could be harmed or even die, because that is the lot of all humanity."

Starting with this definition in regard to martial arts training puts us in an entirely different mental framework. Shame as exposure without the possibility of escape. In considering a personal feeling of shame (not an imposed disapproval from another), I suggest that the feeling of embarrassment or social unease/unworthiness is irrelevant. A true experience of shame is the experience of having a previously unknown part of yourself (and a not so lovely part at that) revealed (usually suddenly). This kind of self shock is not dissimilar to the physical shock that we experience when coming in with a committed attack to find it instantaneously rendered ineffective by our partner's readiness/stance/feeling.

The value of that training is making the in-the-moment choice when habit and prior conditioning as well as urgency stand against you. Do you default to what is comfortable and known or do you find access your real self and make the tough and correct decision from that core? The tough decision (and the right decision) is composed of courage, perseverance, and honesty. I use "courage" as choosing the path of truth regardless of one's feelings/opinions about the situation or possible outcomes/consequences. Perseverance is a hybrid of imperturbable confidence in doing what is right and undefeatable spirit. And "honesty" is honesty in everything you are as well as honesty of action. I believe that this kind of experience and the practice in making the choice is vital to real martial arts training in both the intensity of physical attack and the intensity of self-illumination forms.

I agree wholeheartedly that it is not an instructor's or fellow student's place to attempt to create such situations for us in training. It is extremely arrogant for one person to assume that they know the unknown inner workings of another person so well that they know what it is that person needs to face at a given moment, when the student himself isn't even aware. My feeling is don't try to take that power, you really don't want (and are by definition incapable of fulfilling) the associated responsibilities. Moreover, I believe it is not necessary, if we are training wholeheartedly this experience will arise when the student needs it without any assistance.
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Old 09-09-2005, 06:22 PM   #72
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

IMHO, shame can be a powerful motivator that pushes you away from something to avoid a deep sense of negative self-judgment and identity. It does not necessarily motivator you towards a specific goal, therefore I would suggest that you live and identify with honor rather than fear of shame.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 09-12-2005, 02:06 PM   #73
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Re: Does Budo require a sense of shame?

Good point Lynn. I think humility is more important. I find as a gain in experience and get older, that I know much less than I did when I was younger. I also have found that it is not so important to know everything, but to be willing to put aside ego and learn that is most important. Maybe this gets interpreted by some as Shame...i don't think so. I see my humility as a postive thing...whereas shame is a negative thing that is avoidance seeking as you point out Lynn.

I think of shame as avoidance (moving away) and humiity as acceptance (moving toward).
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