Aug
25

“International Aikido Peace Week announcement,” by Paul Linden

“September 21 is the United Nations International Day of Peace. Every year, hundreds of peace-oriented organizations worldwide celebrate that day with thousands of Peace Day events. Aiki Extensions (an international nonprofit organization dedicated to the application of Aikido principles in daily life situations) is organizing International Aiki Peace Week, and we would like you to join us. Aikido schools around the world are joining the global collaboration by teaching free classes paced for beginners, focusing on Aikido as a joyful practice of reconciliation, compassion, and nonviolence.”

Click here to read announcement.

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Comments

  1. Rick Triplett says:

    I am constantly amazed at the degree to which students of Aikido will go to reinterpret its philosophy to fit their own conceptions of ethics and politics.

  2. Kudos to all those who in the sincerity of their hearts, and the purity of their intentions, apply Aiki Principles courageously to better their lives and for the benefit of those who gratefully receive their compassionate efforts.

    The Founder would be proud. I know that I am of them as well.

    In Oneness

  3. Rick – I don’t think International Aiki Peace Week has much to do with any particular conception of ethics or politics. There is no debate that O’Sensei hoped his creation would help “reconcile the world and make all of human kind one family”. I therefore don’t see it as controversial or a case of “reinterpretation” to suggest that what many call “The Art of Peace” might actually have something to say about peace, including the simple claim that peace is better than its alternatives.

    Whether you approach Ethics like John Stuart Mill, like Emmanual Kant, or like Aristotle (as a consequentialist, as a deontologist, or as a virtue ethicist), I don’t see how you’d find Aiki Peace Week objectionable.

    Feel free to enlighten me.

  4. Here is an amazing opportunity for instructors and students to actively promote the art of Aikido to a much wider audience. We can all get a little more creative to get the message of harmony and peace out to members of the community.

    Aiki Extensions will even give you some great tools and ideas on how to promote the International Aiki Peace Week in your local area. Spread the word, take action, and join in here… http://www.aikipeaceweek.org

  5. Rick Triplett says:

    For the record, I don’t have any objection to Aikido Peace Week. Regardless of any wrong-headed views some of its members may possibly hold, it seems to be in favor of generic “niceness.” Apart from a handful of psychopaths, who could object to that?

    What I do object to is their hijacking the name and reputation of Aikido to back their activities. It is easy to cherry pick your favorite words and phrases from the notoriously opaque preachments of Morihei Ueshiba. I probably do this myself, so I don’t pretend publicly that I have the final interpretation of his philosophy. Others are less circumspect; my impression of many of these people is that they think of O-Senei as a former martial artist turned hippy, and for whom the ‘do’ in ‘aikido’ is the social opportunity that membership in a dojo affords. I find this both annoying and unfair.

  6. Simon Hirst says:

    I am not aware of many people who are actively promoting the ethical aspects of aikido to the wider community.

    Aiki Extensions (AE) appears to be making a brave attempt to take up the call of O’Sensei to strive for harmony.

    Aikido is a martial art, no doubt, but if we don’t have the right ‘mind’ it is just another fighting system.

    I am currently providing AE tentative support until I discover the full facts for myself.

    I do however admire their attempts to get back to the original intentions of the founder.

    If only more would undertake just such an active role for the benefit of their local communities: what impact could be made?

  7. Rick -

    While there certainly are people within the wider Aikido community who train with a different style or purpose than I do – some on the hippy end of the spectrum perhaps, and some at what we might call the commando end of the spectrum, I’m not sure I understand the point or value of complaining about it or of finding such differences “annoying and unfair.” Until I am made Emperor (and probably even then), there will always be people who see the world differently than I do and I have no basis by which to claim that I’m right and they’re wrong. Those differences just are, and seem likely to persist despite any efforts I might make to reshape the universe in my own image.

    While I don’t find the claim that Aikido is the “Art of Peace” and that we as practitioners of that art ought to lead the world’s conversation about how to improve life on this planet controversial, perhaps you do – and I don’t think it’s likely either of us will find the other convincing. Specifically, I believe that Aiki Peace Week (the brain child, by the way, of a USAF 6th dan in Ohio named Paul Linden, who has the specific support of Yamada Shihan in a recent USAF newsletter) is EXACTLY the sort of thing O Sensei wanted his followers to do. In saying this I make no claim that I can prove it – and you are welcome to believe otherwise.

    Obviously, not every dojo will join International Aiki Peace Week – but so far more than 200 have, from more than 30 countries – so clearly the idea has appeal to a wide cross section of the aikido community.

  8. Rick Triplett says:

    It seems I am fishing in the wrong pond; but thanks, all, for taking the time to offer comments.

  9. Jeff Watkins says:

    I believe that Mr. Amdur is correct in his writings when he states that one has to be careful translating texts. In the context that O’sensei wrote about his ideals concerning budo, these must to be arrested within the confines of his primarily Shinto belief system. The vernacular that he used then and within that particualr context may very well not fit within the framework or our structure and ideas of Aikido and general or religious life today.

    To assume O’sensei was a pacifist by a late twentieth century definition may be convenient for those with varied motives, but in essence may not be consistent with the ideas of peace which must be derived from truth by possibly whitewashing the perhaps not so noble values of O’sensei. For example; Did O’sensei support Japan’s military ambitions and actions in the early and mid twentieth century? What we do know is that he didn’t reject such actions publicly or in private discourse that we are currently aware of. Who is to say that he did not support Japan’s expansionism? Which of course one would insinuate violence as no community will allow and outside force to subjugate them.

    An attempt to misguide one in pursuit of peace no matter how noble will only lead to conflict in the end as the truth will eventually be exposed.

    Another issue I have with the peace day is the association of Aikido with the United Nations, an institution that is run by third world despots, thus giving it over to corruption and moral bankruptcy; an institution that has continually and consistently ignored the plight of thousands that have been systematically raped and slaughtered throughout the world. This is peace?

    It’s these ideals which are creating the perception that Aikido is a hollowed out and ineffective martial art, or should I just write art and forgo the martial aspect. After all, we don’t want just another system of combat. It’s great if you want a dance partner with a little more than average vigor. But if you want someone who could defend your grandmother from a mugger and provide peace and safety for her, she might fair better with someone who knows Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

  10. Simon Hirst says:

    I am not saying that O’Sensei was a pacifist / hippie type – it’s quite clear from his life story that his martial art was both: in performance and attitude. Many of his students have taken his work and developed it in their own way – granted some being more ‘effective’ than others but we must always remember the old adage about ‘the man that makes the art’.

    I have studied a number of ‘arts’ and have settled on aikido because of its various principles that I hadn’t found in the others: awareness, contact, protection all being rather martial in their approach. Why do we have to demonstrate the ability to blast an attacker’s ear through the side of their head in a number of different ways before we can claim to be a martial artist?

    What made it aikido stand out to me overtime however was its emphasis on our responsibility towards other people around us, something various aikido senseis have been clearly able to demonstrate.

    I commented that I was tentatively providing my support for such a campaign. The fact that no-one else (to my knowledge) has attempted such a project is surely worthwhile. I can detect no ulterior motives: it appears to be a genuine resolve O’Sensei’s wishes.

    We can all say ‘it won’t work’ but we will never know until we actually try. Until more people take up the call though, the dream won’t be realised.

  11. I write post Aiki Peace week, which eventually attracted 340 dojos from across 43 countries. An enormous success in one sense, as the idea grew from nothing, but a drop in the ocean on the other. I do predict that as the years pass it will gain far more support and become a fixture in the aikido calendar.

    As a participant myself and on this occasion, speaking purely from my own dojos perspective, (but I should declare that I was one of the team helping to promote and organise IAPW), it was a huge success. The press releases didn’t bring in the numbers we hoped, but new faces showed up anyway and there was an energy and excitment in the club that made it special. There was something wonderful about being part of an exercise that linked us with dojos of all sorts of styles and affiliations around the world. If for nothing else IAPW was justified for this reason. Anything that brings the aikido community together is something to be celebrated and all too rare. How very sad that is!!!!

    Frankly I find it amazing that anyone can find anything to object to in the idea. If people want to debate what O’Sensei actually said and stood for that is fine, but really you do not have to go any further than a translation of what ‘aikido ‘ actually means to get a clue that at the least, it is a martial art with a difference. In simple terms the concepts of harmony and killing people which is where most martial arts are coming from are incompatible and at least it must be recognised that O’Sensei strove to teach that we should protect an attacker so far as is possible.

    I can see why why some might find the United Nations a disreputable body, but frankly you are missing the point if this is your objection to IAPW. Aiki Extensions didnt collaborate with the UN. We didn’t ask their permission, we just sought to gain some traction from one of the possibly few good initiatives that have come from that body. Those in any doubt, should seek the story behind how ‘peace’ day came about, it’s quite a story of how one person can make a difference. In the end that is what Aiki Extensions is seeking to do too, i.e. make a difference and a positive one at that. Only good can come out of this initiative and unless anyone can tell me what harm can come out of it, then just maybe rather than wrangling over what O’Sensei said, you should get behind it. At the least, let those that want to participate get on with spreading a little light in the world.

    There seems to be a pre-conception that just because some in the aikido world want to look beyond the martial technique that there must be a flaw in how they teach and understand technique. If this is the case, this seems a pretty big leap and faulty piece of logic. For me, the best practitioners of aikido all have similar traits. their aikido is hugely powerful and effective, yet caring and giving at the same time. they are able to look graceful, whilst exhibiting an iron fist though a velvet glove. No one is left in any doubt that they could destroy if they so chose, yet nearly always the uke and the watching audience are left smiling. They also exhibit huge humility and lack of ego. I would think that these are all qualities that we would all aspire to. So instead of looking for reasons to knock or at least not get behind IAPW, why not flip the coin on its head and ask why you aren’t joining in. Aiki Extensions is seeking feedback from all participants now, but I will be amazed if even one dojo regrets the exercise, and I expect pretty much universal acceptance that it was a positive experience.

  12. Jeff –
    The significant diversity amongst OSensei’s direct students – in style and in presentation – suggests that I am not alone in believing that there are many ways to authentically and respectfully articulate what OSensei was about.

    I do not argue that what he may have said in his 80′s will be found consistent with what he may have said, or not objected to, in his 40′s or 50′s. I won’t even argue that his older pronouncements are more true than his earlier ones, even if I am inclined to believe that age and experience bestow wisdom.

    The claim I will defend is that OSensei did believe that Aikido was a way to achieve the resolution of conflict, and that we as students of Aikido may have a relatively unique and valuable perspective to add to the world’s conversation about Peace and how best to achieve it. I do not claim that attaining this perspective is the only or even the most valuable purpose of studying Aikido, only that it is one of the possible results, and that for some, myself included, it does seem like a good idea.

    I do not claim that the UN is a perfect institution, but its imperfections whatever they are do not seem to reduce the value of the International Day of Peace – millions of children are now vaccinated that would not have had medical attention otherwise. The Aiki Peace Week is only aligned to the extent that we chose to schedule our event at the same time, and we encouraged dojos to list their activities, particularly their activities on September 21st, on the UN Peace Day’s website so that members of the public interested in peace might be more likely to find out that a dojo near them can teach them something about it.

    Lastly – I don’t know of an alternative to the United Nations that we might pledge our allegiance to, and I suspect that its problems are primarily the fault of member states as compared to the institution itself. While I agree its thousand noble sentiments do not excuse its many failures, I can easily count more failures and hypocrisy in US, Russian, or Chinese foreign policy track record than in the UN’s.

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