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The Disillusionment of Aikido Video (David Valadez)

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General: The Disillusionment of Aikido Video - 0 Replies

From: David Valadez on Sun, 20 Aug 2017 13:01:15 -0600

Seen this video: [url][/url] Below are some comments I made on YouTube. Anyone else want to chin in here? - Why is there a need to title this video ""The Disillusionment of Aikido"? Why is it not more accurately titled, "The Disillusionment of MY Aikido"? Or even, more accurately, "How to Adapt Aikido and Aikido Training for Unarmed Dueling"? While one's awakening experience may feel immense and universal, it is only ever based upon one's ignorance. One's ignorance is always and only a very personal thing - a very small thing. We should not universalize our ignorance or the desires upon which it is based. Our own ignorance should not be assigned to everyone else, and nor should our associated awakening experience be considered desirable or needed by everyone else. - Aikido as a whole is a fictional term, a political one. In truth, there are countless "Aikidos." It has been like this from the Founder onwards. Some are better geared toward dueling, some see dueling as a waste of time - an arena felt only important by spiritually immature unreconciled egos. Some are geared toward the use of weapons. Some are geared toward combat (i.e. which is not dueling). Some have no interest whatsoever in martial things of any kind. One could go on and on and this fact would never change no matter how much non-practitioners talk about a single "Aikido" on the Internet and no matter how much younger practitioners that say they practice Aikido are influenced by such talk. The various things Rokus did and did not do are personal to his own practice. He is not representative of a great many Aikido practitioners, and many of those practitioners could have told him long before he realized it in a ring that he was set for a rude awakening. In truth, his supposed insights and aspirations from said awakening, along with his own ignorance that preceded it, should remain particular to him. If Rokus wanted insight into "Aikido," before looking outward (which is not a bad thing necessarily), he should travel and see all the other Aikido that is out there. This will help him lose his sense of Aikido, that singular fiction which does not exist, and by doing so he will find his own. Otherwise, stop Aikido, prioritize dueling environments, and practice BJJ if you control for strikes, or MMA if you don't. That would be a much quicker and more comfortable route to take. - Really? Dueling in a ring with rules and no weapons is actual fighting? Hardly. - You're describing duels still. I think Rokas and Roy are describing duels too. And that's fine. As long as duels are your thing, then let them be your thing. Cool. My point however is that a great many Aikido practitioners are not training for duels, and a great deal more think that duels are best solved by maturing spiritually. This is because duels and unreconciled pride are so intimately connected. I would agree with you that duels come with either stated rules or subconsciously accepted shared cultural assumptions. So yes, this is why duels that happen in bars between intoxicated young males, for example, seldom go to biting or eye gouging or to pulling a knife. They don't often involve murder. Etc. But because of this one is only dealing with a subset of human violence - not with all of human violence. Take another area, such as Law Enforcement. There are no rules for the criminals, and there are always weapons present, and no one is looking to shake hands and go their separate way after things are all done. Criminals are not looking to gain points or save pride. They are looking to avoid arrest by violently incapacitating, even by murdering, an officer - doing so by any means necessary. From this perspective, duels are rituals or games - not the whole or even the most real kind of violence. They are a test of skills under a certain set of shared assumptions. From the dueling perspective, for example, long hair and a lack of strength can be a zero issue. From this other perspective, way before the absence of weapons is even criticized, long hair and a lack of physical strength is going to be made an issue. From this other perspective, addressing this other type of human violence, you're going to taught how to squat and deadlift and told to cut your ponytail off before you even start worrying about what techniques are martial or not. - The issues I raised are not related to sparring or the absence of sparring. Sparring and other kinds of live training environments should always be a part of one's training if one's goal is technical access and application under stressful and speed-of-life conditions. I agree. My stated issue with the video was on a different point and was twofold: I am critical of how Rokas inappropriately generalized the art as a singular whole, with his own Aikido practice being not only representative of that whole but an emblem for that whole; and, second, that his quest to make his own Aikido more martial is merely a quest to make his Aikido more duel appropriate. The latter described effort is moot in my opinion because MMA as it is commonly understood (boxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, and BJJ) is already perfectly adapted to unarmed duels. If unarmed duels are your thing, it's ridiculous to adapt an Aikido for such purposes, especially from a starting point of a lower level Aikido skill while using the assistance of others having a lower level Aikido skill. Such adaptation is not only a waste of time, it is likely impossible. Just do MMA, learn that craft with the help of these great teachers, and the solution for that problem is solved. However, due to the aforementioned impossibility of such an adaptation, you are not doing and will not be doing Aikido. Your doing MMA, and any inclusion of Aikido's Kihon Waza training paradigm and/or its culture is a waste of time. (Note: This remains true even if one is seeking skills such as timing, connection, blending, yielding, etc., since these martial attributes are also present in the systems/arts that comprise MMA.) Because he does not do this, Rokas is merely going from one misunderstanding to another misunderstanding all the while he makes claims of alignment and allegiance with this great abstract and fictional whole called "Aikido." Instead, as a real warrior would do, he should just have ownership over his own ignorance. It's his journey he's on. It's not Aikido's journey. This makes another more accurately describing video title come to mind for this series: "A Documentation on How I quit Aikido and started doing MMA." But, if he is truly on a quest to make his Aikido more martial and not just more duel appropriate, then rather than looking toward dueling and duelist, he should look deeper into Aikido, and into Aikido's past, beyond his own individual Aikido, past that of his Federation, beyond his teacher's Aikido, outside of his dan ranking, over and above modern marketing discourses on self defense and martial arts training, having nothing to do with what Hollywood says violence is, where the hypothetical bar-fight scenario question never comes up, and where the issue is life-and-death and not win-and-lose. There and then, from there and from then, after learning how to squat and deadlift, and after cutting his ponytail off, he should bring knife and handgun utilization into his practice and look at his own Aikido from and through these weapons. He must also reclaim, if he has not already, Aikido's atemi, ne-waza, and its mechanisms for cultivating spontaneity (takemusu-aiki). He should also find a teacher that can teach him how to ground and project (i.e. Kokyu-Ryoku), since Aikido tactical architectures require and assume this skill, since they cannot reach full functionality just on the skills of Aiki and Musubi. (Note: This kind of teacher is extremely rare in Aikido circles in my experience, and so he may have to look outside of the art for this lost and disappearing skill.) In my opinion, if he were to do this, the assumptions Aikido makes, and the training paradigms it opts for, including its rituals, culture, and spiritual concerns, would begin to make more sense to him. It would be an entirely other way of addressing his rude awakening and it would do so without having his Aikido disappear.

Leaving and organisation and leaving your rank behind. (Peter A Goldsbury)

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General: Leaving and organisation and leaving your rank behind. - 56 Replies

From: Peter A Goldsbury on Sun, 20 Aug 2017 07:01:54 -0600

Hello John, I have already made my contributions to this thread, but I think your post deserves some extended comments, which are marked ‘PAG’. To my mind, the various points you make underline the major structural problems with the dan system, as it exists in aikido. It seems generally accepted that Morihei Ueshiba began to use dan, as a way of personally recognizing skill levels of his students, after meeting Jigoro Kano, who used it in judo. It also seems to be the case that M Ueshiba was very liberal about awarding dan and that it was Kisshomaru who eventually established the system: the regulations that govern the Aikikai grading system today. The regulations effectively tied the dan system to an organization and it therefore ceased to be something with the personal gift of the founder of the art. However, I believe that this process was gradual and is still evolving. (The only thing that the present Doshu seems to have done is to stop giving the very high grades of 9th dan and 10th dan.) The shihan title has also ceased to be something that comes automatically with rank, whether dan or menkyo, and is now awarded as a result of an application from the candidate’s organization. [QUOTE=John Hillson;351924]I trained in the Canadian Aikido Federation, and obtained shodan. I moved for work, and the only dojo in that city was a dojo that had broken away from the Ki Society. My rank was not acknowledged, neither was the nidan rank for another visiting physician. [/QUOTE] PAG: I assume this was a blanket policy. You do not give any dates, but I assumed from reading your post that this might have been at the time when memories of the previous splits—and therefore splits in general, were still raw. Personally, I would consider such a blanket policy unwise and have never practiced it in my own dojos. [QUOTE=John Hillson;351924]The organization has the ability to decide whose previous training and rank they will honor. I went back to white belt. I didn't care much at first, I did just want to train and learn. I had done the same when I went to a Yoshinkan dojo, and I have done the same since at a Tomiki dojo. I have no problem saying I do not have a shodan level of understanding of the teaching method in these organizations. [/QUOTE] PAG: You mention an ‘organization’ and ‘they’, then mention training at a couple of dojo (Yoshinkan and Tomiki), but the next paragraph suggests that it is the ‘head’ of the organization who makes the decisions. [QUOTE=John Hillson;351924]Where it got weird this time is that I was actively helping students get ready for grading in short order. [/QUOTE] PAG: How come? Were the ‘organization’ or ‘head’ aware of the new skills you brought to the dojo? [QUOTE=John Hillson;351924]One local student started the same time as me, and was congratulated for doing variations that the head of the organization had never seen before (I had taught him those variations). He was given two kyu ranks at once for being so "creative." He lapped up that praise, as did the local teacher. Then, the whole room was given an extended lecture on why all other schools of Aikido suck so hard and so badly. I never disavowed my previous teacher or organization, and after 18 months and several seminars I never was given the chance to test for the lowest kyu rank. I practice the method, I claim no lineage in Ki Aikido. [/QUOTE] PAG: Were the variations you were doing such that it was likely that the ‘head’ of an organization—and therefore someone reasonably proficient—would not have seen them? [QUOTE=John Hillson;351924]Around New Years, an Aikikai Hombu fourth Dan was charged with a sexual assault or something like that, and I understand he lost his teaching position. His skills were not lost, and I assume his rank is intact. I have known other people who kept rank despite criminal behavior or unethical behavior. I find this a difficult concept as Aikido makes claims of being an ethical art. A nurse can lose their license for unethical behavior as can a lawyer. But, the skills are still there. [/QUOTE] PAG: I have found over the years I have been training and teaching that the concept of aikido as an ‘ethical’ art needs to be taken with a large pinch of salt, if not a whole carton. The basis of my thinking this is the linguistic and philosophical training I received as a student. The argument is that you cannot logically derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ without extra premises allowing you to do this. It was Locke, Hume and the English empiricists who established this, but the original problem has existed ever since the ‘practical syllogism’ of Aristotle, who wanted to incorporate ethical and unethical propositions, which were supposed to lead to actions as a logical consequence, into his general logical structure. Aristotle was a scientist and took logic very seriously. A whole philosophy of action has developed on the basis of Aristotle’s dilemma, with intentional actions being distinguished from movements and given an ethical dimension. However, the ethical dimension of an action derives from the action itself only within the a-priori moral and ethical framework in which it is set. This is why I do not believe that aikido is necessarily an ‘ethical’ art in the sense that you have suggested. Doshu and the Aikikai assume (they probably have to assume) that aikido skills will always be used in an ethical manner, that is, always ordered to the ‘good’ of the enemy or opponent (in this context, usually termed a ‘partner’). Even the interpretation of the name BU [武] has a ‘good’ (i.e., peaceful) interpretation. However, it is a further step—and one not logically justified—to argue that the ethical manner (always in a ‘good’ sense; never in a ‘bad’ sense) of using these skills is intrinsic to the techniques of the art themselves. I practiced marathon running for many years before my knee problems arose and I think this is a useful comparison. To run 26 miles over varied terrain requires a good level of stamina—and you also have to learn how to do it, especially how to pace yourself and regulate your breathing. So, the skill level is certainly there. You can, of course, compete, but I always did it as a solitary activity, even when I ran with friends. Someone set the pace, but the activity was still basically solitary. Much has been written about the ‘mystical’ aspects of marathon running, but there is no ethical dimension at all, such as is argued to exist in aikido practice. You simply get changed and set off—and the rest of the time it is you versus the ground. I came to aikido from marathon running and I approached the art as requiring an analogous set of skills, except that you had to deal with opponents. I then trained with K Chiba and this experience more or less set the tone of my future training. [QUOTE=John Hillson;351924]People can genuinely lose their skills through injuries and lose their knowledge through strokes or brain tumors; usually the ranks are left intact in my experience. While the rank stays, the actual instructor duties in the dojo at the local level might have to change temporarily if not permanently. [/QUOTE] PAG: Agreed. [QUOTE=John Hillson;351924]I have met a few who were given rank for other reasons than their skills. In other arts, being promoted in this fashion is noted on the rank certificate. Stanley Pranin had advocated this should be done with Aikido ranks but to my understanding it is not. [/QUOTE] PAG: In Japanese there is the term 名窯. So 名窯教授 is a title given to retired professors. The usual English equivalent is emeritus professor, and I myself was given this title when I retired. It is awarded, so it is not automatic, and is given on the basis of a continued record of research, publications, and administrative tasks (‘skill’ in other words: in my case devising examination questions for university entrance) after becoming a professor. I believe there is such a category in the Aikikai, but I do not think it is evident from the diplomas given. I am aware of this because I am considering giving such a dan to a student of mine. The student has been training for many years and has skills well beyond the level of shodan, but has always avoided ranks of any kind. He trains with his young adolescent son, who is moving up though the kyu grades and will eventually become a yudansha. Japan’s is still a ‘face’/shame culture and this is the reason why I suggested to his father that he obtain his black belt. [QUOTE=John Hillson;351924]The only punishable offense at the organizational level seems to be disloyalty. One of the benefits of the Aikikai is that the group is so large that a student can find someone else to be aligned to, or they can work directly with the mother organization. Fractures in a dojo or a small area do not affect the larger group or training opportunities. IME, smaller organizations can be much more easily affected. [/QUOTE] PAG: In Japan, apart from the cataclysmic conflicts that affected the entire organization, such as Tohei Sensei’s withdrawal, organizations always have to deal with factions and factionalism. The dojo in Hiroshima where I trained for 25 years was created through a split with another group and this other group also had to split because a section became a front for a violent gangster (yakuza) group. Factions and splits are everyday facts of life here, probably due to the essentially vertical structure of the teaching and training system. Young students are introduced to sempai and kohai when they are at junior high school and this is something that they will encounter for the rest of their lives. This is generally known and I think one reason why the Aikikai has survived in one piece after Tohei’s departure was that Kisshomaru allowed a large measure of independence to the senior students of his father: after all, he had been one of them. So the ‘factions’ were allowed to survive within the larger organization. This is now changing, to the extent that very few of these senior students are left and the personal transmission from the Founder himself has to be replaced with another ‘ideology’, to replace the ‘collective memory’ of this personal training. [QUOTE=John Hillson;351924]I took a decade getting to nidan, and as I approach my 30th year in Aikido I am sandan. I cannot clearly say what sandan means though.[/QUOTE] PAG: In the present Aikikai dan system, there is a broad division between dans one to four, and five to eight. The latter diplomas are larger and the wording in Japanese is slightly different. In my case, I was told that I had to go to the Aikikai to receive the diploma from Doshu personally, but I do not think this always happens with those who live outside Japan. As for your final statement, why would you need to? To convince yourself that you have the requisite skill level? I had better stop here, since I have just become aware of the length of this post.

Bokken Reccomendations (James Frankiewicz)

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Weapons: Bokken Reccomendations - 11 Replies

From: James Frankiewicz on Sat, 19 Aug 2017 03:08:08 -0600

For those in the United States, particularly on the west coast, I would recommend [URL=""][/URL]. It was maybe two years ago that I purchased from them both an Iwama-style white oak bokken and a jo. Everything showed up at my door within a week, and they have both held up extremely well to frequent partner practice: no cracking, no splinters, no run-outs, and all dents are small and shallow. The bokken has good heft to it, maybe 3/4 the weight of an actual katana; it even seems to be maybe an ounce or two heavier than my sensei's bokken (also Iwama-style). The jo is actually a little light for my taste, but that's just the result of it being of "standard" dimension.

“Is Aikido A Martial Art?” - Roy Dean, Lenny Sly, Vince Salvatore, Corky Quakenbush (Ron Ragusa)

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General: “Is Aikido A Martial Art?” - Roy Dean, Lenny Sly, Vince Salvatore, Corky Quakenbush - 31 Replies

From: Ron Ragusa on Thu, 17 Aug 2017 14:12:26 -0600

Humorous references to Schrodinger's cat and David's butter knife aside, there's a deeper principle at work here. Cats and butter knives are "things" in the sense that they're material. Their uses are sometimes variable but they're largely single use objects. Cats are pets, butter knives are used for spreading butter and other soft coatings on bread or crackers. They can be held, petted, wielded, put in boxes or drawers... Aikido, in that sense is not a thing; it's a body of knowledge dealing with mind/body training and unification. Aikido isn't "used" in the same way that butter knives are used. What gets used are the abilities the student acquires from the study of Aikido. The abilities the student acquires are determined largely by the personal goals set by the student. These goals may change over time as the student grows and experiences Aikido at a deeper level of understanding. Students of Aikido are free to explore its applications in daily life without the restrictions imposed on the utilization of material objects. Whether by design or happenstance, Aikido has proved to be very pliable when it comes to how it's used in everyday situations. So to the question posed in the OP, "Is Aikido a martial art?"; while it's true that the abilities one learns thru the study of Aikido can be applied in martial situations, that is only one small slice of the Aikido pie. The rest of the pie is there for the taking, so eat up and enjoy. Ron
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