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Old 10-23-2005, 12:30 AM   #1
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Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

AikiWeb Poll for the week of October 23, 2005:

How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?
  • I don't do aikido
  • Always
  • Often
  • Sometimes
  • Seldom
  • Never
Here are the current results.
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Old 10-24-2005, 08:16 AM   #2
ian
 
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

What is this 'philosophy of aikido' everyone talks about. I don't see it as a descrete thing or an accepted belief system. To a large extent I'd presume the philosophy taught is an off-shoot of the instructors philosophy, probably influenced by eastern thought!

The only unifying theme of aikido I can think of is 'blending', and thus the pricniples of yin and yang. I expect most people also attribute the notion of 'minimal harm'; although this could be interpreted very differently. Also I'm not sure that, even if you killed all your attackers, you would not be following a 'philosophy' of aikido. Maybe you'd have to do it in a very relaxed and easy manner (with little excessive force)! Ueshiba certainly killed people (during his Chinese expedition), and he surely had more of a 'philosophy of aikido' than we do.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 10-24-2005, 08:24 AM   #3
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

Usually in my classes, there's not a lot of talking about it, but what there is is broaching the subject a little when discussing a technique. I think there's been more philosophy talk at our parties as the night, and drinks, progress. That's what I've gathered so far.

So 100 some votes but mine's only the 2nd reply? guess people think its self-explanatory
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Old 10-24-2005, 02:27 PM   #4
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

The results, as of this posting, look like a perfect bell curve. Sorry, nothing beyond that observation.

Ian Dodkins made some excellent observations: blending, minimize injury. I like the doka published every day on this site. I am not interested in pursuing OSensei's religion, but I think the goal of harmony among all is valid - I heard this on one of Saotome Sensei's videos. Hmm. Oral tradition?

Maybe someone older and wiser will help us.

dave
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Old 10-24-2005, 03:42 PM   #5
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

Seldom to never.

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 10-24-2005, 08:21 PM   #6
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

The philosophy which is always discussed at least in passing in every class is "Harmony". We are always seeking harmony as in Aikido and its tranlation, "the path or way to harmony". Harmony in movement between the uke and nage, harmony at the end of a successful technique and harmony in the learning environment of the dojo.

O Sensei may have killed in his lifetime but he trained himself and founded Aikido with the intent , I believe , to avoid harm if possible. I am keenly aware of the potential destructive power which may be applied where Aikido is concerned but to not do so is also why we train.

The philosophy to me is apparent in the name itself and we are reminded of this often by our sensei for whom I have tremedous respect and can only hope to be able to learn from his 40 plus years of Aikido experience.

Thank you for your time,

CJ
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Old 10-24-2005, 09:02 PM   #7
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

At the dojo I train at in America, I'd say the philosophy is always there, but rather than speaking at length about it, it's demonstrated in how we work on our posture and movement. In describing various physical principles, sensei could be describing something else too. The prinicples we discuss in how to make Aikidowaza effective can be applied to probably any situation in life: don't get caught up in short-sightedness; utilize your every resource; act in a balanced way; etc. Granted some of these concepts could (and have) provoked books to be written, but in practicing them, we learn them...I hope. I certainly feel like I do.

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Old 10-24-2005, 09:10 PM   #8
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
What is this 'philosophy of aikido' everyone talks about. I don't see it as a descrete thing or an accepted belief system. To a large extent I'd presume the philosophy taught is an off-shoot of the instructors philosophy, probably influenced by eastern thought!
I think it could be stated in general terms...pretty much along the lines which you described it in. Beyond that people start to inject their own conceptions of proportion between the principles we generally agree on.
I think that's why there were plenty of voters but not so many who were willing or able to say much about why they voted that way. I know I waited until other people began speaking before finally posting so as to provide something for me to "push" off of. Philosophy is very nebulous.

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Old 10-25-2005, 04:02 AM   #9
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

Once upon a time when I was a newbie... I asked my sensei if he talks about the philosophy of aikido? He looked at me in a cynical way and said, "So, you want to be another Morihei Ueshiba eh?". I also get some snickering from the other more senior students as well. Now, if another newbie were to ask me that question.... I will answer him/her the same way, with the snickering as well. Problem is, no one has asked that same question ever since. Guess, I am the silly one.

And no, sensei has never spoke abt the philosophy of aikido in the dojo, ever...

Boon.

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Old 10-25-2005, 08:52 AM   #10
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido duri

I think that what separates Aikido from any other jujutsu styles is its philosophy. Not exploring that and just working on being a good technician is a shame IMHO.

We explore aikido philosophy and ramifications of our actions constantly.

Mike Ellefson
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For Movement &
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Old 10-25-2005, 02:17 PM   #11
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

Well, our sensei rarely talks really about the philosophy of aikido. Sometimes he does tell a bit, if there is no other group after our class.

Once we had a special training about the 5 elements. Even there we did not have very long explanations.

But each comment like "This is not Judo; do not fight, blend", "Don't forget uke! If you do the movement before uke is ready, you are fighting power against power.", etc. is telling something about the philosophy. It is much less, than you would expect from university classes in philosophy, but it seems to be much more than traditional Japanese MA schools (train hard, some thousand times, and some day you will see, where to the do is leading you").

So many answers could be right, as it#s true for many of these polls.

Regards Dirk
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Old 10-25-2005, 02:51 PM   #12
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

Dirk,

I'm sorry to catch you in this shotgun blast! You said:
"But each comment like "This is not Judo; do not fight, blend", "Don't ...."

JUDO IS BLENDING.

Competition 'wrestling' since the sport was made 'spectator friendly'
have given a bad impression.

Please - get some video of Kyuzo Mifune and see if his movement reminds you of someone!

I propose harmony between varied martial arts as well

(pardon the rant, i was overdue)

david
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Old 10-25-2005, 03:03 PM   #13
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido duri

Quote:
David Knowlton wrote:
JUDO IS BLENDING.
Thanks David,
while writing, I thought someone would argue. And probably you are right. I cannot say very much about it from my 3 months judo experience some 25 years ago.

What our sensei told he said to some fellow aikidoka, who are judo yudansha. And at least their judo blending is different from his understanding of aikido blending.

And what I have seen and heard is just: judo is blending, but many judoka forget this in fights. On top level all fighting arts are blending, even world class boxers do blend - some more, some less

Kind regards Dirk
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Old 10-25-2005, 06:44 PM   #14
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

Quote:
Xu Wenfung wrote:
Once upon a time when I was a newbie... I asked my sensei if he talks about the philosophy of aikido? He looked at me in a cynical way and said, "So, you want to be another Morihei Ueshiba eh?". I also get some snickering from the other more senior students as well...And no, sensei has never spoke abt the philosophy of aikido in the dojo, ever...
My first question is: what would be so wrong with someone behaving like "another" Morihei Ueshiba to provoke a cynical and condecending response to a simple question like that? When i read this I take the implication that a person who is deeply spiritual and philosophical is somehow not to be taken very seriously. If that implication is correct, then that seems a great shame to me. In my experience, people generally aren't thoughtfull enough in that regard. As Socrates said: the unexamined life isn't worth much. I'm sure the snickering wasn't at all malicious, and I could certainly be injecting my own experiences with regard to "snickering" and condecention, but it seems presumptuous to write off a simple question (like the one it sounds you asked) as being somehow befitting of even snickering.
Do you think it's at all detrimental to training to discuss the philosophy of OSensei? If Osensei codified what the budo "Aikido" means, does it stand to reason that Aikido, as a general concept, is defined by him and that anything not matching that definition isn't the same "Aikido" as Osensei's? The techniques certainly aren't exclusive and can be found in a variety of other martial arts, after all.
Interesting topic...
Take care,
Matt

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Old 10-25-2005, 07:23 PM   #15
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

Quoting O Sensei:

" The Way is like the veins that circulate the blood through our bodies, following the natural flow of the life force. If you are separated in the slightest from that Divine essence, you are far off the path. "

This among many other recorded statements and writings by the founder of the Aikido form would lead me to believe that the philosophy is an intregral part of the art of Aikido. To have a sensei as well as senoir students laugh at a question reguarding such an important part of Aikido seems somehow foreign to me and wrong as well. If you are not learning the philosophy which accompanies the physical actions, it seems to me you are learning something other than the Aikido which O Sensei handed down to us.

Just my observation,

CJ
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Old 10-26-2005, 09:15 AM   #16
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

"What our sensei told he said to some fellow aikidoka, who are judo yudansha. And at least their judo blending is different from his understanding of aikido blending."

thanks Dirk.

I'd be less defensive if I moved like I did when I did judo 25 years ago. I have high hopes though.

As far as judo and aikido blending being different I can't comment - cuz I'm only beginning to get my 'feet' back after being back training for two years now.

I would like to sit down to tea with Masters Ueshiba, Mifune, and the greatest master of karate. What a discussion that would be; oh and i'd need a translator....

dave
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Old 10-26-2005, 10:11 AM   #17
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

Quote:
To have a sensei as well as senoir students laugh at a question reguarding such an important part of Aikido seems somehow foreign to me and wrong as well. If you are not learning the philosophy which accompanies the physical actions, it seems to me you are learning something other than the Aikido which O Sensei handed down to us.
Well, I think people should understand that there are schools of aikido that focus on the actual 'on the mat' training, and not so much philosophy. While some might prefer the more shinto based approach, others might like a zen approach, and yet others focus strongly on Omoto Kyo. I think its all good, depending on what an individual prefers and is seeking.

I believe Xu Wenfung trains in a Yoshinkan dojo. This school of aikido was founded with Ueshiba Sensei's approval and support, by Gozo Shioda, one of the founder's most famous (and long term) students. The dojo in that 'style' of aikido tend to eshew any discussion on the mat of philosophy, or religion. I believe that it is for a few reasons:

Aikido should be for everyone, regardless of religion. If religious practices or discussion are brought into the dojo, it might turn some students away if it conflicts with their beliefs.

Aikido is primarily a physical practice, learned through physical training. Exploring the other facets is fine on your own time, but it is not really the focus of training/keiko. And even in so far as keiko may lead to these other areas, it is indeed the physical practice that gets you there, not the talk.

Philosophy is best discussed over beer.

None of this is to say that having a different perspective in wrong. It's just a different perspective. Each dojo has it's own culture, and there are times when someone may be reminded of the culture in not so wonderful (in the moment) ways. My own teacher is part of the Yoshinkan. He does not discuss aikido philosophy on the mat. But he does discuss it sometimes (one place is on the website where his yearly message to the students is posted). He speaks of things like 'aikido for all', aikido / harmony being meant to raise the dignity of others, and things like that. You may find Utada Sensei's yearly messages here: http://www.doshinkan-aikido.org/sensei/messages/

But on the mat, it's physical practice. Just a different way, that's all.

Best,
Ron

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Old 10-26-2005, 07:19 PM   #18
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

Quote:
Aikido should be for everyone, regardless of religion.
I don't think philosophy and religion are the same thing. I tended to shy away from anyone expressing religious sentiment when I was first beginning my training. I might be misunderstanding this but to me simply describing the principle of using someone else's force is in keeping with describing Aikido philosophy in that it teaches the idea of taking something malicious/malignant and making it good..."lemonade from lemons" is the basic philosophy of Aikido as I understand it. It's that abstract idea which can be applied to more than just a brute-force, self-defense situation which i think is universally applicable.

Quote:
If religious practices or discussion are brought into the dojo, it might turn some students away if it conflicts with their beliefs
.

I agree, and it's a shame when this happens. Studying where I usually do, I've seen this plenty. Despite there being no requirement of adhering to Shinto, some cannot see past the giant shrine that is the shomen.

Quote:
Exploring the other facets is fine on your own time, but it is not really the focus of training/keiko. And even in so far as keiko may lead to these other areas, it is indeed the physical practice that gets you there, not the talk.
I essentially agree with the latter part of this. I disagree about the prior. I would say a point of keiko is physical self-defense, but that it is one means to an end, not the end itself...per the ideals of Osensei as I "understand" them at least.

Quote:
Philosophy is best discussed over beer.
Ok now I'm sold! Seriously, I do think this sentiment reflects the ideal situation, but considering many people only see each other on the mat, I do think at least some understanding of the "-do" in Aikido should be included. Aikido should be open to anyone, but I do think there's something to be said for nurturing a peacefull intent, and not just training people in how to be leathal. I know people who I would never teach Aiki-waza to right now. Not because I don't like them personally, but because they're, frankly, brutal people who'd not hesitate to do someone harm...so in this sense at least, I'd give a full dose of the philosophy and minimal dose of the technique. In this light I don't think "anyone" should be taught, but that anyone should have the opportunity, provided they're responsible enough. I'm describing an extream situation, but I think the principle is valid.

Quote:
Each dojo has it's own culture, and there are times when someone may be reminded of the culture in not so wonderful (in the moment) ways
I agree. And I hope I didn't sound too harsh when I offered my thoughts on the post. I understand it's easy to inject presumption into online conversations and that ultimately i have no idea what message was conveyed or the intent behind it. It just struck me a little funny and I'm sure my personal experiences were behind my interpretation of it. Some of my closest friends scoff at the "lovey dovey" Aikido philosophy, and, snickered at me when I asked them their rational thoughts about the philosophy.
Take care,
Matt

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Old 10-26-2005, 07:49 PM   #19
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

Thanks for the reply! It's clear you put a lot of thought into it. Out of curiosity, did the thoughts expressed in the link provided fit into what you consider 'aikido philosophy'?

Best,
Ron

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Old 10-26-2005, 09:19 PM   #20
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

Reguardless of the variations on the original intent of O Sensei, I still believe it important to understand the philosophy behind the action to fully grasp not only what you are doing on the mat but why you do that instead of something else. Religion has no part to play in philosophy . They are two distinctly different things.

Mat time is for physical interaction in the learning of Aikido but you are only getting part of the picture without the reasoning behind it. Aikido is for everyone of every race, creed color,etc. Some people just train differently I suppose. I enjoy more what I am doing by understanding the intent behind the action. I just thought that more people might feel the same.

Philosophy over beer is good too sometimes in the right company though, I have to admit.

Thanks again for the discussion,

CJ
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Old 10-26-2005, 09:24 PM   #21
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

Thank you, Ron. I don't always speak well, but I do intend it sincerely. Yes, I would say that link provides an example of Aikido philosophy. It made me think also that perhap my idea about discussion of the basic philosophy might be trumped simply by showing it in the small-to-large actions we live by daily.
Take care!
Matt

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Old 10-26-2005, 11:24 PM   #22
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Well, I think people should understand that there are schools of aikido that focus on the actual 'on the mat' training, and not so much philosophy. While some might prefer the more shinto based approach, others might like a zen approach, and yet others focus strongly on Omoto Kyo. I think its all good, depending on what an individual prefers and is seeking.

I believe Xu Wenfung trains in a Yoshinkan dojo. This school of aikido was founded with Ueshiba Sensei's approval and support, by Gozo Shioda, one of the founder's most famous (and long term) students. The dojo in that 'style' of aikido tend to eschew any discussion on the mat of philosophy, or religion. I believe that it is for a few reasons:...<snip>..
Best,
Ron
Thanks Ron. You have actually said what i intended to say. It is just the culture of the school that I attend. There is the philosophical aspect of aikido and I am sure sensei is very much aware of it. It is just that, the martial aspect and physical aspect of aikido is in itself so big that where one is too seriously study it, it would take up most of the mat time. (Remember, most of us are not uchi deshi and we train only for couple of hours three times a week). And like many of you all would agree, talking about philosophy is best done over beer.... Kampai!

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Old 10-27-2005, 12:22 AM   #23
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

In my experience those who want to talk philosophy on the mat tend to have pretty strong ideas already developed - perhaps Xuzen's sensei was reacting to his own experiences.

A few short points that might add something.

Mat time is precious and really should mostly be used for training the physical component of our little thing.

Shodokan Honbu Shihan does give short lectures during sessions. How often seems to ebb and flow with these days more frequent. These cover technical, historical, philosophical issues and are part of the Aikido education. This really isn't discussion though and there isn't much room for questions at least during the session. You are interested in further delving there is opportunity elsewhere. A minor contradiction to my first statement but he is Shihan - just as Ueshiba M. was lofty enough to go where he wished with his classes. I guess it really boils down to at what point should you introduce lectures to your classes - and for us lowly dan grades anytime is too soon.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 10-27-2005, 01:49 AM   #24
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido during class?

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
Mat time is precious...

I guess it really boils down to at what point should you introduce lectures to your classes - and for us lowly dan grades anytime is too soon.
Let alone us kyu grades! I know on aikiweb, the more I "talk" the less I think I should...learning process i guess. One of these days it'll stick.
Regarding the first part, that's a very good point I can definately identify with right now. If there was a lot of talking about philosophy when it's hard enough for me to get mat time in, I'd probably get annoyed pretty quickly...or at least feel I was wasting some of my time. As it is, because of the straight to training attitude at your dojo, I enjoy myself greatly every minute.
Take care,
Matt

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Old 10-27-2005, 02:11 AM   #25
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Re: Poll: How often does your aikido instructor discuss the philosophy of aikido duri

I sometimes wish I got more philosophy in practice, but I agree with the mat time argument - someone here once said "less chat, more mat", I liked that.
One of the great things about aikiweb is that it gives me the opportunity to read about philosophical ideas when I have some extra time on my hands (i.e. at work ) There are so many good books out there too, so I try and get my philosophical food for thought outside of practice.

Last edited by Sonja2012 : 10-27-2005 at 02:13 AM.
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