- Family Resources
- Family Resource Forum
- OUTER RIM
- Health, physical fitness and wellbeing
this is an intervouw with one of the Aikido Shehan [master techer] he is a good techer his sored work is the best i think of aney of the shehan. he can be a bit ruff at times but still a vearey goot techear.
Sensei please tell me how you came to study Aikido?
Well, I was very keen on the martial arts from when I was little, and I decided early on to train seriously in at least one of them. I began with Judo and stayed for four years. I then moved to Karate.
You trained at the Shotokan headquarters I believe: what was the training like there?
Oh, I really loved it, it was a very hard spirit in the training, very satisfying, I liked it a lot. Nakayama Sensei was the Chief Instructor but I did see the Master, Funakoshi Gichin on a number of occasions. I joined the Japan Karate Association about a year before Master Funakoshi died. I remember that there was a big ceremony to mark his passing.
Where any of the present-day Shotokan Masters there at that time?
Yes: Nishiyama Sensei, Okazaki Sensei and Kanazawa Sensei. Kanazawa Sensei was 1st Kyu then, or maybe 1st Dan, I'm not sure. Asano Sensei was 3rd Kyu level and Kase Sensei was there also.
Was there anything in particular that converted you to Aikido?
Well. when I was 1st Kyu (the level just below Black Belt) in Judo I entered a competition and happened to be drawn to fight against my senior from the dojo - a second Dan, I think. So I beat him and afterwards he came over to me and said: \"You have taken away my Judo, but I still have Kendo.\" He issued me a challenge. So we went outside. He gave me a bokken (wooden sword) and took a Kendo shinai (bamboo practice sword)for himself. Once we started I was unable to touch him...not even once! He beat me soundly and I was black and blue with bruises. After this I thought deeply about the meaning of Budo.
I wanted a Martial Art that would be effective in any situation, whether an opponent had a weapon or not. So I eventually decided that I would become a student of Master Ueshiba - the Founder of Aikido. I went straight to the Hombu (HQ) but I had no letter of introduction, which was a necessary requirement then. I arrived at the Hombu and asked for an audience with O'Sensei (Master Ueshiba). They told me that he was not there, and that I should go away. I was so intent to be O'Sensei's student that I determined to wait for his return. So I sat down in the garden of the dojo and waited. At the end of the third day O'Sensei returned, and was told that there was some crazy boy outside who wanted to see him.
Well O'Sensei told them to bring me in. I was taken to just outside his room. and told to wait. When the screen was opened, there was Master Ueshiba. Our eyes met for the first time: it is a moment I shall never forget! I didn't know what to do, so I just bowed as deeply as I could. O'Sensei said to me: \"Martial arts are very hard, can you take it?\" I just said: \"Yes Sensei.\" So that is how I came to be accepted as an uchideshi (inside student, or special apprentice) to Master Ueshiba.
Did you commence Aikido training at once?
No, I was not allowed to practice straight away. I had to clean the dojo and all the other rooms at Hombu, plus wash, do cleaning, shopping, administration and look after all the Master's family. Also I had to work in the fields. Eventually I was allowed to first watch the classes and then, after some time, to train. No one taught me at first. I had to learn for myself. Fortunately I could already make ukemi (break falls) so I was alright. I decided to make my best endeavors to be a good uchideshi to O'Sensei, and learn all that I could from him. It was the greatest time of my life! I remember that O'Sensei always had a strong presence....there was a very special atmosphere when he was around. This came from his physical posture - the way he sat, the way he walked, the way he moved around was so beautiful. Never could I see any opening in O'Sensei's posture...not ever. His eyes were almost golden, not black as is usual with Japanese people.
Your time as an uchideshi must have been rigorous.
In one sense it was like a battle field. We rose every day very early to both work and train, and many nights I had to stay up late to wait for Waka Sensei (O'Sensei's son, Kisshomaru - the present Doshu, or leader of Aikido) to return from his office work. It was so hard and intensive that many times I came close to a nervous breakdown. I used to see strange things: every night a ghost used to come to me. I don't know whether it was supposed to be a man or a woman. At that time I did not realise how close I was to a breakdown but now I realise of course. Just before I fell asleep each night it would come to me it was really frightening. I could sense its presence. Then all of a sudden it would become like a ton weight on top of me and I would not be able to move. Eventually I found a solution to this. I took my bokken to bed with me and as soon as I felt its presence I held my bokken strongly...and then it was OK. This was due to exhaustion I think.
Many years ago you told me about your first meeting with Tamura Sensei, could you repeat it please for the readers of Fighting Arts.
Well, it was one day after class and some of the students were doing Judo randori (practice fighting) on the mat. I was standing in the corridor watching this and one of them invited me to join in, which I did. I was surprised at how weak they were, and I repeatedly threw one man who was Sandan (3rd degree Black Belt) in both Judo and Aikido. So the master, Tamura Sensei called me over and invited me to practice with him. Then \"bang\", Tamura Sensei struck me hard in the belly. I learned a lot from that, it was a good lesson in awareness, distance and posture for me. I believe that Tamura Sensei is one of O'Sensei's greatest students. I learned a great deal from him in the past.
Anyone else that you would like to talk about...perhaps Saito Sensei?
Yes, he is a great Master. Every time he visits the United States I invite him to teach at my dojo. Saito Sensei was a special disciple of O'Sensei. He stayed with him after the war to take care of him and manage the farm at Iwama Dojo. I have seen the kind of responsibility that he carried, and nobody could have done it as well as did Saito Sensei. I really appreciate Saito Sensei's work.
What about Doshu...the successor to O'Sensei?
The teacher directly responsible for my training was Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei. O'Sensei had already retired to the mountain-side of Iwama, and only came to Hombu Dojo occasionally. The growth and development of modern Aikido since the war has been due to Doshu's hard work. His Aikido is very beautiful.
What about Master Koichi Tohei of the Ki Society?
Yes, Tohei Sensei is very good. He is small but very powerful. I saw him take a challenge from a wrestler once.
Sumotori or Western style?
Western style. Two brothers - Germans I think from Argentina - and they were enormous! They had to bend over to avoid hitting their heads on the gate-post of the Hombu. This was the only time that O'Sensei accepted a challenge for Hombu. These people were travelling the world with a film crew and were challenging different Martial Arts masters. They had been to the Kodokan (Judo HQ), but the Judo men had not been able to handle them. So they challenged the Aikido Hombu. When they arrived I met them and brought them in. Inside the dojo were O'Sensei Kisshomaru Sensei, and Tohei Sensei who was then the Chief Instructor to the Aikido Foundation. O'Sensei nominated Tohei to go first, as he was so strong. So the wrestler crouched in a low posture with his hands out stretched in front of him, and just moved in a circle around Tohei Sensei for a long time. Tohei Sensei was very relaxed and just followed his movement, and eventually cornered him. Just as the wrestler began to move Tohei leapt upon him, threw him to the floor, and bounced his head for him. Tohei Sensei then pinned him down with his hand blade extension, which, as you may have heard, is very powerful. This guy could not move, and his brother declined to try Tohei for himself, so that was that. Apparently at the Kodokan the Judo men advised them not to make a grab for an Aikido Master. That is why he circled Tohei Sensei for so long.
With friends like that who needs enemies! As we are talking about challenges would you mind telling me about your confrontation with
Mr. Wang, the Tai Chi Master from China?
Who told you about this...Mr. Cottier perhaps?
Perhaps I'd better not tell...
O.K. then. I was in a big demonstration of Martial Arts in Tokyo in the early 1960's, and Tai Chi Chuan was being shown by Mr. Wang. He was from Taiwan and he was very big indeed. He became quite famous later in Japan. Well, at the end of his display he had a number of Karateka line up in front of him, and each of them punched him in the belly. It had no effect on him. I was not impressed. I would have done something else (Sensei demonstrated a groin kick and face punch whilst saying this).
So, anyway two of my private students were also studying Tai Chi under Mr. Wang, and they were very impressed with him. They invited me to come along and see him. Eventually I accepted and went to watch his class. At the dojo my students introduced us, and he politely asked me to show some Aikido. Even though his words were warm it was still a challenge! Well, we faced each other, and Master Wang made something like Sumo posture with his hands outstretched. I stood and waited for an opening. This went on for some minutes until he moved forward to push me. So I met him, made Tai Sabaki (body evasion) and took his wrist with Kote Gaeshi, (wrist crush/reversal)...his wrist made a loud snapping noise as I applied it. Even though I applied Kote Gaeshi strongly and injured him, he did not go down. Master Wang snatched his wrist from me, and challenged me immediately. So this time he pushed me with both hands in the belly, and threw me quite a distance across the room. I landed, but I also did not go down. It was an amazing throw. My students then came between us, and that was that.
How did you come to be sent to England?
Well in 1964 when the Olympic Games were held in Tokyo, the famous Judo master, Kenshiro Abbe Sensei came to Hombu to pay respects to O'Sensei. He asked O'Sensei to send a young and spirited instructor to England to develop Aikido for the British Judo Council. I was supposed to go to New York to assist Yamada Sensei, but O'Sensei agreed to send me to England.
Why did you choose the North East area first?
My sponsor, Mr. Logan, was a business man in Newcastle, so I went to that area. However, during my journey from Japan something happened with the BJC and they were not able to work with me. So Mr. Logan had to pay my salary - it was a difficult time. It was in the North East that I promoted my first British dan Grades, Mr. Pat Butler, Mr. Fred Jenkins and Mr. Ron Myers.
Yes Sensei, I trained under all three of these men for a number of years, particularly Ron Myers. On your voyage from Japan I believe there was an incident?
Ah yes, we had a party on the ship when we crossed the equator, and I was asked to demonstrate. So I agreed, however there was no-one on board with any Aikido experience to act as my partner.
Or if there was, they were keeping very quiet about it!
(Laughter) Yes maybe. So one of the Ship's crew was asked to assist me, and he attacked me with a knife. At Hombu Dojo, in knife work, we made a positive attack with Tanto (a dagger). But this guy was crouched low, moving around me changing the knife from hand to hand. This was difficult, as when he made his attack I would not know which hand had held the weapon. So when he came at me I made Gedan Barai (the low sweeping block) with both arms, and I was able to deflect his attack. The point of his blade actually went through my Obi (belt) and just touched my flesh. From Gedan Barai I moved to a counter technique and broke his arm.
With which technique?
Katekatame, I think.
Blocking techniques such as Gedan Barai are not usual in Aikido. Mainly the hand blade is used as a deflecting move...
Yes, but it is not always possible to move so I believe that you need to be able to make a strong block when necessary.
Can you recall your last meeting with O'Sensei before you left for England?
My brother and I travelled by taxi to Hombu Dojo before going to my ship. We were badly delayed because of the Tokyo traffic, and I was late arriving at Hombu. This was very bad, as uchideshi students must always be ready to receive and meet their teacher. Anyway when I arrived O'Sensei was waiting for me, and said how happy he was that I had come to say goodbye. My teacher gave me tea, and said that I had looked after him well over the years, and wished me good luck. He also said that I should not worry about him, and that he would live to be 126 years old.
Was O'Sensei joking with you?
No, he was very serious. He had given me a Koan (a Zen riddle) and only now do I understand.
Sensei, in 1976 you returned to Japan. Actually I was the last Shodan you promoted before you left...
Yes, that's why I went home! (Laughter)
How were things at Hombu on your return?
Well the standard of Aikido was fine of course, but too much in Japan had changed and I didn't like what had happened. I was given the job of International Secretary at Hombu Dojo and I was not happy with it. Paper work all day, and no time to train, This was no good for me. I am a Martial Artist, not a clerk. So I left Tokyo and went to live in the country. I farmed and practiced Zazen (seated meditation) for a time. Later I was invited to move to San Diego by the United States Aikido Federation.
May I ask about your Iaido training?
I like Iaido (the art of drawing the sword) very much. I really like to handle the katana (the longest of the Samurai swords) and I feel an affinity for the Japanese sword. I practice Muso Shinden Ryu, which was founded by Nakayama Hakudo Sensei at the turn of the century. O'Sensei always had a very good relationship with Hakudo. His students used to practice at Kobukan.
That is what Hombu Dojo used to be called...
Yes, that's right. There was a good interchange of students. Actually Hakudo Sensei's senior student was married to O'Sensei's daughter. He was All Japan Kendo champion at one time.
I always find a good awareness in laido training, almost a moving zen.
Yes, indeed, a good point. It is good for developing Zanshin. I always combine zazen with Iai at my Dojo. Maybe 20 minutes of sitting meditation and then 10 minutes of sword-drawing, and then back to zazen.
I have been told that now you have background music played during zazen at your Dojo...is this true?
Well, not always. My Zen Master used to do that with either Bach or Beethoven, and we would sit. Very enjoyable. You can go really deep in your meditation in such sessions, depending on the type of music of course: I don't think that jazz would go with it, for example, my dojo faces a main street in San Diego, so the background music helps to cut out the sound from outside.
Over the last twenty years I have had the pleasure of training under a number of O'Sensei's personal students - yourself of course - also Sekiya, Tamura, Kanai...and you are all so different: Would you like to comment?
Well, I think that Aikido is very much wider than other Martial Arts. Aikido allows everyone to train together. The communication that takes place on the mat is only a part of it.
Do you think that each of you express a difference facet of O'Sensei's Aikido in your individual practice?
Yes, I think that is so.
Some people say that O'Sensei was a very gentle and kind old man yet others refer to his direct and severe attitude, What is the truth?
I think that it was quite natural for him to be very kind, gentle and peaceful with ordinary students, but with uchideshi he was harsh and severe at times.
Why do you emphasize weapons training in your Aikido?
Aikido is based on the traditional swordsmanship of Japan. So in Aikido body art we move like a swordsman without having a sword. Weapons are particularly important in place of offensive, or dualistic training such as Randori in Judo, and Jiyu Kumite (free fighting) in Karate. It helps us develop Martial spirit and other aspects like timing, distance, centering etc. Also we can relate directly to basic technique from bokken cuts, out-extension of breath power, use of hips, etc.
May I ask a little about Aikido history: O'Sensei was once invited to teach at the Kodokan by the founder of Judo, Dr. Jigoro Kano: did he accept?
At the time Kano Sensei was trying to consolidate the traditional Martial Arts of Japan, to help preserve them. That is why he asked O'Sensei to come to the Kodokan to teach. But O'Sensei refused: he felt that Aikido and Judo were so different that they should not be classed together. So instead Dr. Kano sent three of his senior students to study under O'Sensei - Master Mochizuki and Master Murashige, and one other. I can't recall his name. They studied with O'Sensei but returned every so often to the Kodokan to meet with Dr. Kano.
Was Tomiki Sensei the other master?
No. Tomiki Sensei came later. He combined Aikido and Judo: he would use Aikido for open distance in combat and judo for a closer Ma-ai (critical distance). I don't altogether agree with this idea, but Tomiki Sensei was a very good Martial Artist...and a real gentleman.
I read somewhere that there is a cousin of O'Sensei, a Martial Artist himself, still alive in Japan!
Yes, that is Master Hogen Inoue. His resemblance to O'Sensei is amazing. He is of course very old now, but his Aikido was second only to O'Sensei's at one time. He calls his Budo form, \"Taiwa Shindo\" now.
The Shotokai Karate Master, Harada Sensei's teacher, Master Shigeru Egami was a student under Inoue Sensei...I have heard that there was an interesting encounter between these two great masters when they first met!
You must ask Harada Sensei about this incident. Harada Sensei and I are good friends: he is an intellectual and a great Karate Master.
Other than your confrontations on the ship, and against Master Wang have you ever had to use your ability outside of the dojo?
Well a gangster attacked me with a knife once in Japan. He lunged for my belly, so I blocked him with Gedan Barai, and broke his arm with Kata Katamae.
On another occasion I was in Paris with Noro Sensei, and we visited a night club together. I was having a drink in one room and Noro Sensei was sitting in another room playing cards, or something. Suddenly there was a terrible commotion from where Noro was, so I went in to see what was happening. It was a fight. An old gentleman was Iying on the floor and a young man was kicking him. It was terrible - there was a lot of blood on the floor. I think he would have killed him, so Noro Sensei said to me \"Chiba, sort that out.\" He did not want to get involved.
I took hold of this man, and stopping his attack, I asked him what he thought he was doing. He spoke to me in French, so neither of us understood and so I pulled him outside...then something happened. My body reacted and I threw him down with O Soto Gari (major outer reaping throw) the judo technique. He hit the ground very hard and I heard a clatter of metal. It was then I realized that he had pulled a knife. My awareness had been such that I reacted to the situation from my subconscious. This guy was a gangster from the Pigalle, and that was why no one stopped him. He was well known apparently...but not to me! It made no difference who he was.
Anything else Sensei?
When I returned to Japan from England, in 1978, a man issued a challenge to us. But Hombu Dojo refused it, despite his persistence.
Was he a Karateka?
Nobody knew what he did. As I said he was persistent, and every few weeks he would return to challenge us. Each time I had to explain that we could not accept. I think that the man was not quite \"right\" in the head. Anyway, eventually I personally had enough of him and accepted his challenge. We arranged to meet and sort it out. I insisted that we agree not to press charges in the event of serious injury and we exchanged letters to that effect. I told him as a martial arts teacher I was prepared to die if need be. Well, we met and I initiated with offence, moving directly to him and I struck him first. This threw him back against the wall and as I came towards him he jumped on me: he was like a tiger. I then finished him with Nikyo (the second immobilization). He had had enough by then. There was much blood and he was on the floor screaming. That was the last challenge he offered us - it seems that he did not expect an Aikidoist to initiate an attack.
To conclude our talk may I ask about two separate things: atemi and competition in Aikido?
Well I believe atemi (the striking of anatomical weak points) is very important to Aikido technique. It is not usually taught in class... but I personally train in atemi, of course. There is no competition in Aikido because it would eliminate a lot of people from the training. The purpose of Aikido is to allow as many different people as possible - men and women, young and old, weak and strong - to develop their potential through practice together.
What would you consider to be the most important quality in a good Aikidoka?
Chiba Sensei, may I thank you on behalf of the readers of Fighting Arts for taking the time to speak with me.
Please Log in to join the conversation.
if you tray it out let me now wot you think i woued realey like to now.
The classic (yet always impressive) Cool Ki Trick.
Someone tries to bend your arm when it's stiff, and succeeds. But when your arm is very relaxed, it becomes impossible to bend. This feels very strange. And it's probably one of the best first ways to get a feeling for the correct mind/body state. We try to always teach this to beginners the very first time they come to Aikido class. I remember coming home after my first class and trying to show this idea to my wife. I couldn't do it, but she could. It bugged me for weeks
How To Do It.
1 Hold your arm out horizontally, make a fist, and tighten all the muscles in your arm. Now have someone put one hand on top of your elbow, and the other hand under your wrist.
2. Have your friend try to bend your arm. If he's about as strong as you or stronger, he should succeed.
3. Now, hold your arm out (again, with just a slight bend at the elbow), and relax all the muscles in your arm. Let your wrist dangle comfortably. Use just enough muscle to keep your arm in the air.
4. Look ahead in the direction your arm is pointing. Feel as though your arm extends out from you hundreds of feet. Imagine reaching and touching a tree or building that is a long distance away.
5. Maintain this feeling, and have your friend try to bend your arm again.
...When you're first learning this - and all - Cool Ki Tricks, you and your friends should really try to help each other out. You need to try to help each other catch the right feeling. So don't try to bend each other's arms with all your might - at least initially.
...Different visualizations work better for different people. Try thinking of your arm as a fire hose, and water shooting out of it. Or, think of yourself as being extremely thirsty and reaching all the way across the room for a cold drink. Or, just extend your arm and keep One-Point.
...Don't make your arm completely straight. Put a slight bend in your elbow. And orient your arm so that the thumb side of your hand is up. Remember: Elbows only bend one way! Be careful no one tries to bend your arm a direction it wasn't intended to go.
...Try not to get distracted by the person attempting to bend your arm. Just keep your eyes forward, and maintain the image of your arm being very long.
...There's one thing more impressive than showing people you can do unbendable arm. And that's showing them they can do unbendable arm. Have a friend first make her arm very stiff and try to bend it. (With some people, you won't be able to. But that's okay.) Then have her relax and encourage her to feel as though her arm reaches out for hundreds of miles. Then test her arm again. This is a real good way to get people to stop thinking you're weird and join you in your mind/body training.
So, what did I just learn?\"
The unbendable arm exercise shows you the power of relaxation and positive thinking. The more you relax your arm, the harder it will be to bend. Of course, you can't just let your arm be limp. You've got to maintain the image of your arm being very long, too. This is the positive thinking part. Relax and believe.
Please Log in to join the conversation.
Is Aikido a religion?
by Tuomas Martikainen
Q: Is Aikido a religion?
A: Well, we have to find to out first what is religion. To start with, we need to note that 'religion' in common usage is a western concept, which attempts to describe a category of our western life. In the West, 'religion' usually defines actions (e.g., praying) and actors (e.g., churches), which connect to the human being to something superhuman, e.g., a god or spirit, which cannot be reached by scientific research. In that sense religion is a real factor in people's lives, but it is also culturally bound to the western societies and reflects their social structures and institutions.
In the academic research that sort of definition of religion is also used, where the supernatural in some form is essential to define religion. There are also other views, but they are not as relevant to the current argument about Aikido's nature.
For example, Melford Spiro has defined that \"religion is an institution consisting of culturally patterned interaction with culturally postulated superhuman beings.\" Thus, religion is social and related to superhuman beings.
Q: Is religion only an attitude towards the supernatural, which is guided by an institution?
A: Yes and no. Those are essential features, but there is also something more. Religion as a phenomenon can be divided into different dimensions. Religiosity can be seen to be composed of various dimensions (Charles Glock). There is a ritual, an ideological, an experiental, an intellectual and an ethical dimension. Different religions and different people emphasise the dimensions to various degrees. In the West, we are inclined to think that true religion is promoted only by 'believers'. However, even if this is true from their own point of view, it cannot be accepted. Religion is a complex phenomenon and it is very difficult to say that somebody is not religious, if, e.g., he/she does not follow the rules of one church, but follows the rules of another.
Q: What about Aikido then? Is Aikido a religion?
A: Well, this is quite interesting. Aikido is a Japanese tradition, which claims to have spiritual dimension, even though it is mainly a physical activity. Anyway, a common argument is that Aikido cannot be understood from a western point of view, because it does fall into the western categories (e.g., religion), but I think that this argument is overemphasised. Why? Simply, because we train Aikido in the West and thus it is naturally a part of our western life. We won't become Japanese via Aikido training, that is quite clear. So, we have to accept that Aikido is western phenomenon today.
Aikido claims to unite the body and the mind in a way that is not common in the west. It speaks of 'harmonizing the body and soul, or spirit, to the endless life force of the universe', or something like that. This is to be done though rigorous and life long training. Also the life of the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, seems to have had many mystical features, which remind the life of a sage. So, from a western point of view, we can say that Aikido promotes some ideas in regard to the supernatural, which could be related to the supernatural realm. Also, if one is to follow the path of the founder, he can be seen as a role model much like the saints in, e.g., the Catholic Church.
Even the ultimate ideal of Aikido, which is being in harmony and peace with your surroundings, sounds quite 'religious' in my ears, but that sort ideas have been promoted in secular writings as well.
Q: So, Aikido is a religion?
A: Well, at least we can say, that it has some similarities, but I think that we are talking about something else, after all. Aikidoka are very aware of their tradition and usually quite learned about the history and philosophy of the art, but for the large majority Aikido is just a hobby. The art reflects their ideas about life, but it does not solely lead their actions. Also, there are several competing interpretations of Aikido's nature. Some of them are very spiritual and some very physical. In most of the dojos, the philosophical or spiritual side is not emphasised, but he attention is brought to the actual physical training.
If we compare Aikido organisations and institutions to various churches, we can find that Aikido does not resemble all that much. while churches usually stress the social aspect of community, Aikido does not. Aikido training is an indivialistic enterprise to figure out your own physical self and to study its relation to other people. The core in Aikido training can be seen, when the 'attacker' takes a grip on the 'victims' hand. Physical information is changed and the feelings should guide the technique. The point is self expolation with the help of others, but the journey is made solely by you.
Q: So, Aikido is not a religion?
A: I see that you are impatient, but wait just a second. Life is not simple and short answers can lead to a false or partial understanding. Aikido is complex, religion is complex and life is complex. My point is that we can see things that remind us of religion in Aikido, but essentially it is up to every human being him/herself if Aikido is a religion or not. Basically Aikido is not a religion and the majority of practitioners do not either understand it as religion. For some few individuals Aikido might be religion, but in different way than in the 'normal' churches.
But what I think is interesting is that Aikido training and reading has promoted new ideas to people's self understanding. The idea of mind and body unification is essentially an eastern concept, which is now, partially through Aikido, spreading to the western countries. Aikido training also reflects trend of individualisation, where people's life worlds differentiate and people create their own 'postmodern' life philosophies based on different traditions from all over the world, but that is another story.
Q: Hmm, I am sorry, but I have to go. It was nice to hear your opinion. Bye, bye.
A: I am happy that you managed this far. By the way, Aikido training can increase your patience, because the goal is far, far ahead. Bye!
Please Log in to join the conversation.
- Kana Seiko Haruki
Is it a religion, well, in my mind that is down to the individual practitioner to decide for themselves, like Jediism, you can put as much or as little into the 'Lifestyle' in to your own life as you wish.
I think the key to any martial art and Jediism and even religions is the acknowldgement of a power or force within us all and all things. Jediism calls it The Force, Aikido (and others) call it Ki energy (or similar names) and other faiths would call it God. However, I dont think simply acknowledging a power is enough to call it a religion as such, unless of course you dedicate your life to it.
I think therefore (I am) that the line between Religion and not religions is more a matter of ones own standpoint and practices. For example, Archery is called a sport by some, a martial art by others, but is it a religion if it becomes the key part of someone's life?
In anycase, Aikido is a very good Martial Art to be adopted in conjunction with Jediism.
Please Log in to join the conversation.
i woued love to tock to you to agen. i woued love to get into the voice chat some time if that is still gowing. hay if i donot nead to type and spell yaaaa for me hehe
Please Log in to join the conversation.
Why do we practice Aikido?
Is it “to go into the octagon” and triumph in the “Ultimate Fighting Championship”? I have never seen an Aikido technique used in one those (almost) no-holds-barred matches. Few Aikidoists train to deal with the punches, kicks, and chokes that typically bring victory there.
Is it to win trophies and medals? We do not have tournaments the way my friends in Karatedo and Taekwondo do. So there is no sporting element. I enjoyed playing sports when I was young; yet for many it was precisely the lack of competition that drew us to Aikido in the first place.
Is it to boast about being sandan while someone else is merely sankyu? I really have not seen a lot of that type of attitude. It is generally accepted that testing for rank is merely a means to an end, a way of polishing the techniques and challenging ourselves.
Is it for health? There is no doubt that the exercise provided in Aikido class can contribute to our overall level of fitness. But the pain endured and considerable risk of serious injury suggest that sessions with a professional fitness trainer monitoring a balanced program of strength, stamina, and flexibility exercises would produce a better physical result.
Is it for social contact? Many of us do make good friends with other Aikidoists and the camaraderie of the dojo can be uplifting; but such relationships can also be found through being a member of a religious congregation, political party, or folk-dancing group.
Is it to live a secret fantasy life of being a samurai? I hope not. The samurai as a separate social class were legislated out of existence in the 1870’s because they were no longer of any use in the rapidly changing world of Japanese modernization.
Is it for street self-defence? Perhaps our skills might be of some value here, but I would not count on it. A serious mugger or drunken assailant will not telegraph one of a pre-selected set of acceptable attacks.
Is it part of becoming a police officer or prison guard? Again, the attacks of a violent criminal will not mimic what we do in class, nor will he cooperate as we apply ikkyo or iriminage.
Is it to become a soldier? You would agree, perhaps, that having a black belt in Aikido would hardly prepare you for the rigours of real war. Our troops in Afghanistan today, who put their lives at risk daily, do not do tenkan very often.
The real purpose of Aikido training is to become a “warrior”.
Does this seem to contradict what was just written above? It does, if you equate “soldier” with “warrior”. But in is book Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior Chogyam Trungpa explains the term “warrior” as someone who lives a life that is strong but gentle, assertive but not aggressive, confident but not arrogant.
Trungpa, like Alan Watts in the 1960’s, often expands or diverts the definitions of words in order to encourage us to think differently. In a manner somewhat like that of a Zen riddle (koan), he challenges the reader to recreate his/her vision of the world. For example, he refers to “spiritual materialism”. The two words at first may seem to be diametric opposites. But Trungpa combines them to describe using spiritual practice merely to build up one’s ego. This is what was often referred to in the past as being “holier than thou”. Another example is “goodness”, which he describes as the natural flow of life rather than morality. (In this he is much like Laozi in the Dao De Jing).
According to Trungpa, we can start to become warriors through meditation. Sitting and breathing attentively is the first step. Such practice will lead to a better understanding of ourselves and the realization that each of us partakes of the essential “goodness” of the world where we live between earth and sky. This awareness contributes to a positive self-image lacking in insecurity or the desire to dominate others. By becoming honest and genuine we will then behave in ways that benefit others without hurting ourselves.
Trungpa emphasizes the dignity of discipline. This discipline is not a punishment for some essential evil, but rather the self-imposed limits of knowing the importance of restraint. From it follows the joy of living a life that is mindful, perceptive, and magical.
Chogyam Trungpa was a Tibetan Buddhist, and his thought is grounded in that tradition. Yet he offers his analysis in a secular manner that does require anyone to share his specifically religious views. (This is like O-Sensei. The Founder of Aikido was a devout Shintoist of the Omoto-kyo sect, yet he never insisted that his disciples take up his religious quest). Trungpa looked around the world at many ways of thought and sought to incorporate the best of them into his path of Shambhala.
The method of practicing in Aikido involves alternately performing and receiving techniques derived from battlefield situations that have been modified into forms that can be practiced safely by young and old. The techniques are to be applied effectively but with no intent to injure. Like doctors, we are required “to do no harm”. We adjust the speed and power of the throws and pins to the level that our partners are able to handle. We use the techniques not so much to subdue others, but to subdue ourselves. In this way Aikido is a form of “Meditation in Movement”.
The thought Chogyam Trungpa and that of Morihei Ueshiba have much in common and both deserve our attention. Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior is well worth reading by any Aikidoist who is seeking to understand the inner purpose of our training.
For more information go to the Shambhala website www.shambhala.org and the Aikido world headquarters website www.aikikai.or.jp
Fields, Rick. The Code of the Warrior in History, Myth and Everyday Life
Heckler, Richard S. Aikido and the New Warrior
Iyengar, B.K.S. Light on Yoga
Watts, Alan. The Book: On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
Ueshiba, Morihei. Budo: Techniques of the Founder of Aikido
Ueshiba, Morihei. The Essence of Aikido
Ueshiba, Kisshomaru. Aikido
Ueshiba, Kisshomaru. The Spirit of Aikido
Ueshiba, Kisshomaru. The Art of Aikido
Please Log in to join the conversation.
this post i hope it dosnot afend aneywon it is not ment to. mor aikido reding that i found quite fun and intersting. i have alredey shared it with may oldest student. he engoyed it to. and toled me that we have hade maney comfershanes like it threouw the years.
if you read it all the way thrue you can see how things change i like that. and perhaps it hase some simularetys to hear =) hope you ingoy.
Please Log in to join the conversation.