Aug
06

My Response to Stanley Pranin’s – “Constant Alertness Needed to Avoid Dojo Injuries” by Nev Sagiba

“When you bow onto the mats you are entering an ersatz war zone. Behave accordingly. Trust no one. Especially beginners who are the most dangerous.”

Dojo myopia is unacceptable. When you step into the street, a room or any dojo if you are not capable or willing to at all times extend your awareness consciously to every person, dog, fly, spider and ant within the range of vision or hearing, you are not practicing Budo but merely self obsession. In training practice you must be aware of every person in the room/dojo and where they are or are moving towards, their active trajectory at any given moment. At all moments. THIS IS YOUR BUDO PRACTICE! Budo without awareness is nothing! An instructor worth his salt will train myopic attitudes out of you very quickly. With a shinai across the back of the legs if necessary. If he cares. Otherwise he’s just frightened of losing you ‘cos he wants your dollars.

I can’t speak for others but I make it my moral responsibility to ensure to the best of my ability that my students will be strategically capable and defence enabled if ever they get attacked. Those who don’t want this standard because, “it’s difficult” are welcome to leave. And they do. Budo is not a toy and there is no such thing as a, “martial art” you practice in order to be unable to protect yourself. Listening to some, “aikidoka,” that appears to be the spin. I’ve been often surprised by people who practice what they call this “martial-art of Aikido” who simultaneously also claim that they “don’t expect it to work,” (whatever that means) and that they are “not practicing for self-defence.”

In the world such as it is today, I find such statements extraordinary to say the least and striving to live in a complacent glass bubble of denial, dangerous.

Aikido is Budo and as such IS dangerous. Even in training. The Founder had a list of precepts with regard safe training posted on the wall of his dojo(s) titled “Rules During Practice.”*

Take it upon yourself to make it a main point of your own practice to extend awareness at all times. For your safety and everyone else’s. It is this very awareness which saves you in “the street,” or any field of activity. And in your sleep, not only when travelling or moving in far away places away from home, but all the time. If someone passes your front gate you should know. Make it a practice. Make it your responsibility. Otherwise we live as zombies. Such would be unacceptable for purporting budoka. Everyone in that room is a potential “enemy.” The dojo is full of snakes. Warm family atmosphere? Stop kidding yourselves people, either practice BUDO or go home!

“Techniques” are a part of the story of the Budo of Aiki, but without awareness you have only crude, clumsy force at your disposal, and that is not Aikido.

As with all skills, Spatial Awareness can be developed and augmented with regular practice. Serious outdoor activities which place a demand on the Spatial Awareness faculties are most helpful. But there are also dojo techniques which are applicable when this attribute of Budo is addressed with the seriousness it demands. I’m dismayed that the focus on Zanshin has been largely neglected as the most vital element of training. Where is people’s awareness when they train? Chatting?

Looking at articles like this and the responses, I’m beginning to wonder how much has become “lost” in the last 50 years. We appear to be talking about this as if it is something new and as if training consists of focus on your training partner alone. Whew! This is not only trivializing Budo, but placing practitioners at risk. A frightening thought. Distraction is a favourite of muggers team-working and a prime strategy in any meaningful battlefield. Not to mention con men after your money in “civil” society. Also I’m taken aback by a hardened samurai getting caught in this way, when reading about Ryoma Sakamoto getting himself killed at an inn while drinking tea, by an assassin running down a corridor. This outcome has nothing to do with physical armour or carrying a sword, but the spiritual armour of Spatial Awareness which provides advanced kime predictability and which Morihei Ueshiba exemplified.

How did Ueshiba attain it? Look at his lifestyle. He put training before watching movies, worked outdoors and spent meaningful time meditating and communing with the Universe.

The provisions for augmenting Spatial Awareness are inbuilt and there is a part of the brain lying dormant, awaiting to be activated to this purpose. It is an asset. But it requires activation through use.

“Adjacent to the Amygdala is the all important Hippocampus, a horseshoe shaped sheet of neurons located within the temporal lobes and which importantly, functions to deal with memory learning and emotion as well as spatial orientation, navigation and consolidation of new memories. Emotion and memory being very closely related, the Midbrain also contains the Cingulate, Anterior Cingulae, Cingulate Gyrus. In brief, a Gyrus describes a fold or “bump” in the brain serving special functions and purposes.

The Cingulate Gyrus is situated above the Corpus Callosum (A thick band of nerve fiber/connecting tissues which connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain), located between the Cingulate Sulcus and the Sulcus (groove or indentation) of the Corpus Callosum.

These deal with higher cognition, multitasking and functional connectivity. The anterior Cingulate Gyrus is a pivotal component of brain networks directing affective and cognitive functions. As part of the Rostral Limbic System,the Anterior Cingulate Gyrus modulates internal emotional responses. Cognitively, the Anterior Cingulate Gyrus is considered to be an integral component of a variety of executive functions such as motivation, attention, working memory, learning, especially in novel situations and when overcoming habitual responses and includes decision making, awareness and insight. This brain activity may represent immediate emotional reaction to outcomes and spontaneous decision-making. All attributes essential for progress in Budo as well and living in natural environments.”

From “Budo and Reconciling the Triune Brain

If he was at an inn, Sakamoto would have been surrounded with deployable weapons, tables, chairs, cups, chopsticks, toothpicks, saucepans anything at all. It takes a considerable time to run down a corridor. I put it that it was “peacetime” that killed Sakamoto, lack of daily practice making him vulnerable because he relaxed his Zanshin. Something you must NEVER do. All things taken into account, perhaps he was exhausted or suffering from post traumatic stress. The most dangerous moments are when everything seems OK. Perhaps he had no jujutsu skills wherewith to augment his sword techniques, with or without. No matter, everyone has their good and bad days.

A few weeks ago I had occasion to be in an unknown town. It was night and I stopped at an isolated beach to hydrate, eat and meditate. Waves breaking are good white noise. But that night “the vibes” were uncomfortable.

And then the reason appeared:

A male person who had gotten out of the only other car at the parking lot, began lurking about and as I was leaving kept trying to work his way behind me in the dark. I had to traverse some some parkland to get to my vehicle. At one point he tried to strike up a conversation. I responded civilly but curtly. This was clearly an abnormal situation deserving of suspicion. As I was walking to my car I had to address keeping him visible and actively manage the maai. He tried very hard to place himself in what he hoped was my visual blind spot and was fumbling in his pocket. Probably a knife. It was dark. I didn’t let him. Each time I turned to maintain visual contact he would back off. Self evidently cautionary predator body language. After I got into my car he then followed me through the local township in his car and was later surprised to find that I was following him. He then took fright and sped away. Training enabled this evasion but it is also common sense. I wasn’t about to be nice and civil since his behaviours evinced several identifiable indicators.

Waiting for him to attack so I could “perform” “a technique” is idiocy of the greatest order. Since I have nothing to prove, to me, this was a preferred outcome. “Nothing” happened and it suits me. I got some training. (A lot in fact did transpire which I was able to add to my training notes. Identifiable nuances of circumstance which are now recorded.)

People, look up the word: Zanshin. Zanshin is a paramount attribute for every budoka. My suggestion is find every which way to address and EXERCISE ZANSHIN IN THE DOJO AT ALL TIMES! And in daily life. That’s what dojos are for. Not making eyes and conversing about the weather.

When executing waza you MUST be watching for other attackers. And noticing other trainees. In real life, at least 85% of the time they will be there because the salient feature of bullies is that they are cowards and feel outnumbered by one person unless there are at least ten of them. Even then they will filled with fear while they beat their chests.

Evading flying ukes is part of the training. Any dojo not actively addressing Zanshin is kidding themselves. Please take note. It may save your life one day. Zanshin. Zanshin. Zanshin! It’s not just a cute word to repeat at parties to show off your “martial,” rather verbal prowess, but something a budoka practices 24/7 non stop.

Zanshin is especially relevant to AI-KI-DO!

By the way, Zanshin has nothing at all to do with existing in a frayed state of paranoia. That’s not Zanshin. Proper Zanshin is the calm awareness of properly flowing Ki that tolerates no complacency in oneself. It is not a mystical state only available to some but not others, rather, anyone who puts in the regular practice can activate and progressively augment this natural attribute. Zanshin, like all living skills requires due maintenance.

People tend to want lots and lots of words, “explanations” and heady conceptual garbage, then imagine they “know” something because a book or two lie idle on a shelf. The “secret” lies in PRACTICE! DOING IT DAILY. BU-DO! The bu that you do is the bu that saves you in the end. There are no other “secrets.” Morihei’s serious uchideshi would practice sneaking up on each other constantly (as do most animals in packs, herds, flocks pods, bands or whatever their intra species grouping play/practice.) Indeed Ueshiba himself invited surprise attacks from his deshi offering them high rank if they could succeed. None did. A tribute to practice when duly addressed. So just DO it!

Muhammad Ali often joked about his “radar” and demonstrated it in the ring.
“I have a radar built inside me to avoid punches.” Muhammad Ali

But this is mere sport. A warrior’s radar goes a little further and is on guard all the time.

Morihei Ueshiba demonstrated it more meaningfully. I won’t offer the long list of anecdotes. Read Aikido Journal’s extensive resources. It’s all there plus a few tips on how-to by the man himself.

In today’s world, there is an unhealthy trend, especially with many people who attend Aikido dojos, to make like pious stunned mullets instead. Street thugs are attracted to bashing pious stunned mullets. My suggestion is drop the quasi-religious pomposity, develop a sense of humour about yourself and PRACTICE ZANSHIN!

Conversely you are free to one day find out the hard way. Not recommended.

“Martial” training is not safe. Complacent people die during practice drills. “…that aikidoka are frequently lulled into complacency by their perception of aikido as a harmonious, peaceful art..” is not an acceptable state of affairs.

When you bow onto the mats you are entering an ersatz war zone. Behave accordingly. Yes, show respect because you are among compatriots, but for purposes of this drama, these friends are now playing the part of being enemies. All of them. Trust no-one. Treat them all with caution. Especially beginners who are the most dangerous.

It is YOUR responsibility to be aware, to dodge people and to evade flying ukes and if you are really a senior student and not just pretending, when only seniors are present, to aim your ukes at the other attackers during multiple attacks. In the street this works a charm. In training, the other ukes responsibility is to preserve themselves by getting out of the way. If you can’t train like this please burn that black piece of cloth you wear around your waist for you are just pretending.

Is there such a thing as an un-crowded dojo? If so, save for one rather large venue, I’ve never known anything other than crowded mat space for over 50 years and believed safety Zanshin to be part of the training. At least that’s what my teachers imparted. “You take responsibilty, it’s part of the training!”

Zanshin won’t magically appear ‘cos you once read about it online, it or fling the word about gratuitously to impress people at parties.

The dojo is an ideal place to practice and develop Spatial Awareness, as can be also boating in small vessels in reef territory and rough waters, working with horses, wild animals, war zones, crossing the street, driving a car, employed as a professional protector of any kind.. the list is endless.

For the true Aikidoka the decision to address Zanshin – Spatial Awareness with the importance it deserves is a requirement. Not a mystical ambiguity to be mostly ignored.

Morihei Ueshiba and other competent budoka have often been accused of “having a force field” around them. This is somehow supposed to discredit or lessen their hard earned, real skill.

The fact is this: There IS a force field indeed, but it is more akin to radar than it is an invisible bubble of any kind.

This “radar” is available to anyone who will sincerely put in the work to exercise it over time.

…………………………………………………………..
* Here are some variables by of The Founder of Aikido of his:
“Rules During Training” or Rules During Practice”
They present no ambiguity.
If you can’t or won’t take these seriously you should not be training Aikido.

They have appeared variously in such publications as “AIKIDO” by Kisshomaru Ueshiba,
and; “AIKIDO, The Arts of Self-Defense” by Koichi Tohei Edited by Morihei Ueshiba, revised edition 1961.
…………………..

1. One blow in Aikido can kill. When practicing always obey your instructor and do not use training a time for needless testing of strength.

2. Aikido is an art where one person learns to face many opponents simultaneously. It therefore requires that you polish and perfect each movement to become invulnerable from any direction.

3. Practice with a feeling of joy and exhilaration.

4. The teachings of your instructor constitute only a small fraction of what you will learn. Your mastery of each movement will depend almost entirely on individual earnest practice.

5. Daily practice begins with light movements gradually increasing in intensity; but there must be no overexertion. Even elderly people can practice with pleasure.

6. The purpose of Aikido is to train both body and mind sincerely. Aikido must not be taught to immoral people or used for evil purposes.

…………………..
1. Aikido decides life and death in a single strike, so students must carefully follow the instructor’s teaching and not compete to see who is the strongest.

2. Aikido is the way that teaches how one can deal with several enemies. Students must train themselves to be alert not just to the front, but to all sides and the back.

3. Training should always be conducted in a pleasant and joyful atmosphere.

4. The instructor teaches only one small aspect of the art. Its versatile applications must be discovered by each student through incessant practice and training.

5. In daily practice first begin by moving your body and then progress to more intensive practice. Never force anything unnaturally or unreasonably. If this rule is followed, then even elderly people will not hurt themselves and they can train in a pleasant and joyful atmosphere.

6. The purpose of Aikido is to train mind and body and to produce sincere, earnest people. Since all the techniques are to be transmitted person-to-person, do not randomly reveal them to others, for this might lead to their being used by hoodlums.

…………………..
1) One blow in AIKIDO is capable of killing an opponent. In practice, obey your instructor, and do not make practice a time for needless testing of strength.

2) AIKIDO is an art in which one man learns to face many opponents simultaneously and requires therefore that you polish and perfect your execution of each movement so that you can take on not only the one directly before you but also those in every direction around you.

3) Practice at all times with a feeling of pleasurable exhilaration.

4) The teachings of your instructor constitute only a small fraction of what you will learn. Your mastery of each movement will depend almost completely on your earnest practice.

5) The daily practice begins with light movements of the body, gradually increasing in intensity and strength, but there must be no overexertion. That is why even elderly an elderly man can continue to practice without bodily harm but with pleasure and profit and will attain the purpose of his training.

6) The purpose of AIKIDO is to train both body and mind and to make a man sincere. All AIKIDO arts are secret in nature and are not to be revealed publicly nor taught to rogues who will use them for evil purposes.
…………………..

1) One blow/strike is capable of killing. Follow directions of your instructor and don’t needlessly test strength.

2) The ability to face multiple opponents, develops awareness towards all sides.

3) Training atmosphere should be pleasant and joyful.

4) Practice is the primary means to achieve mastery.

5) Training should be natural and reasonable. When this is followed even elderly individuals can develop Aikido’s potentials.

6) The purpose of Aikido is to train mind and body and make an individual sincere.
Morihei Ueshiba

Click here to read “Constant Awareness Needed to Avoid Dojo Injuries” by Stanley Pranin
…………………..

Nev Sagiba
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Comments

  1. Joe Peterson says:

    Wow, lots of thoughts running around the old cerebellum. Here are some thoughts. Aikido as painful as it sounds hasn’t been practiced as a budo since pre-WWII Aikido. As shocking as it sounds, it is pretty obvious in so many ways. As I see it, the first indication was when Osensei had his spiritual demarcation. At this point Aikido changed in my opinion from a budo to a performance art. I am looking at it like this, Osensei changed the style of how he demonstrated to reflect his spiritual beliefs and to fit within the new society, which he could help spearhead with his new Aikido. It is apparent, at least to me, his demonstrations changed in presentation and style, crafted to get people’s attention. All sorts of people’s attention that is. a process that didn’t happen overnight either. The new demos rooted in enticing maximum interest impressed both the experienced and novices. As much as we would have like to have an overt change clearly demarcated, it wasn’t, hence the beauty of it all. In my perspective, he masterfully was able to balance, blend and harmonize just enough not to devoid Aikido of budo, and not go overboard on the performance art end. It is the subtle holistic changes and not the overt ones we may expect.

    Lots of people when they start Aikido imagine that Aikido is something they can use on the street, without realizing what it takes to truly achieve that reality. Aikido, or modern Aikido, for me is a performance art. It is seeing something that defies logic and reason, and surpasses tradition. Aikido takes tradition and goes beyond that paradigm of possibilities.

    Here, in my opinion, is where confusion arises in thinking Aikido is street effective, as it is practiced and the spirit of those today who practice it. If someone wants to make it effective to today’s level of violence and skill attackers, you have to train with the same spirit as a dedicated amateur MMA fighter, at the least. Not only for 6 months, or a year, but for years and years. Then you have to modify the waza back to being jujutsu. Why, because those who will attack you, will not make any satori that you are superior to them in skill. No… they will more than likely not comprehend the gift they are given. They will perceive you as weak, unable to do damage, and will attack harder and with more ferocity than before, and more than likely will have others with them as well, who are of the same mind set and possibly armed with guns. There is much talk of which martial art is the most effective in the street. Is it MMA, Aikido, or Combative like Systema, or Krav Maga? No. it is the sociopath or the group of sociopaths all on the hunt to victimize others. There techniques are not categorized, or organized. They have no sensei or founder of their style. They are just willing to do harm, they are self-trained. That is what is on the street.

    Sure the recreational Aikido training will help you deal with the drunk on the street if you have never previously done anything with physical contact. But more serious training will help you deal with the adult bully pushing his weight around in the bar or at your kids’ game, or the one with road rage. Chances are it’s going to be a fight, as life doesn’t work out the same as it does in the movies. The jerk taking a swing at you may have some fighting skill you may not be prepared for, because you didn’t train earnestly enough not to struggle.

    Very few people don’t practice Aikido as performance art. The majority of us don’t practice Aikido as a budo or under the circumstances and conditions that define a budo. Most of all with the spirit or mentality of what is required by budo. Confusion and risk arises when we subscribe to the fantasy what we practice and the way we practice isn’t good enough to be street effective. If we think that to be true, then we are deluding ourselves at risk of truth and injury. I see this to be the cause of disillusionment and jaded attitudes in Aikido. It is also the cause of misunderstanding of what Aikido is and isn’t, as I see it. Hence why so many Aikido people seek out what they feel they are missing to augment their Aikido so that it will be more effective. Aikido is today, a performance art. A good one at that. Not realizing that is a cause of misinformation and confusion about Aikido.

  2. Joe Peterson says:

    A bit off track with my last comment, because I didn’t add that the mindfulness comes from intensive practice. It can also mean taking your practice seriously enough, again how I see it, to not be in some careless state of mind. It equivalent to the saying, “get your head in the game.” You take practice seriously enough not to consider your safety and the safety of others around you. You have to pay attention at all times so someone doesn’t get hurt. . It doesn’t matter if your practicing to defend yourself or as a performance art -technical precision.

    A sempai of mine use to say that if got hurt in the dojo, it was your own fault for not paying attention. Not completely unrelated, you hear all sorts of injuries and death when people are not paying attention while driving and texting or talking on the phone. People who do so, don’t take driving seriously to stay off the phone. People who do drive and are on the phone have the illusion it isn’t important to pay attention to driving, “they can multi-task” is what they think in their head. The justification is an unrealistic logic that since it hasn’t happened to them, and they have been successful at it, nothing has happened to them. They go about not being mindful of the facts talking while driving or texting is dangerous. I tell these people – which is analogous to the importance of paying attention in the dojo – you don’t see NASCAR drivers texting when their in a race. Those drivers take seriously there performance art.

  3. Nev Sagiba says:

    Your points are all well taken Joe and It’s good to hear some common sense perspective. Thanks for addressing this very serious issue frontally.

    O ‘Sensei was not “performing.” He has hell bent on HIDING his real art because of what others where doing to it hijack it for profiteering reasons. I won’t comment further on this because it touches on delicate ground most westerners can not comprehend as it’s steeped deeply in the culture of diplomatic courtesies in relation to internal disputes within family and clan only old budoka and tribal clan warriors understand. Some rarely incisive individual may grasp it slightly but the culture of individualism and suburban too easy consumerism has killed the consciousness of these edge-of-survival courtesies. Those who know what I’m referring to, know. The others will buy the various myths. The truth being too uncomfortable, if not shocking.

    Hence his words, “I look behind me and I see no-one following this path..”

    But Morihei left the integrity in the “dance moves” so anyone of true sincerity will be able to extract the real Aikido. As ever the strategic and lucid Morihei did nothing casually, albeit that may have been the appearance. Please refer to his carefully considered Six Rules of Training (the lock). This document does not refer in any way to a performance art. Together with the basic kihon (the keys) it can unlock the real Aikido.

    Aikido is street effective. Very much so. It depends on your attitude, life experience, exposure to necessity and other factors such as what you are made of and what your goals and aspirations are, whether self-serving or that of a protector willing to pay the price in sweat and tears, serving the best of humanity’s inner and societal treasures.

    Nor does one need to become a sociopath to make Aikido effective. A protector is a different breed to the street thug or the sportsman. But the protector usually carries a private burden not frequently understood by the effete sheep like people of today’s suburban soft life where survival is done for us at the cost of our real freedoms and where everything is a head trip not based in the actual forces of nature and the universe and divorced from our core essence preferring instead to worship and chase after something unattainable and impermanent such as self gratification, the pursuit of money at any cost and delusionality in general. We watch too many fiction movies and these are crappy role models even for idiots because they give the appearance there is no work involved, hard work to really achieve matters of lasting worth.

  4. Joe Peterson says:

    Nev, you are right. Aikido people shouldn’t be and don’t have to be sociopaths for Aikido to be effective. What they have to be is fighters. Yes, drop the fiction, abandon the Japanese cultural elements. Avoid the romanticism and fantasy that infects many people. Focus on the hard work required to be effective. It is, the only way.

    The amount of talk that goes into what is wrong with Aikido is as big as Mnt. Fuji, any yet it seems talking about what is really wrong escapes everyone. The level of seriousness dedication and commitment to Aikido now days can be less than someone going to the gym to lose weight. Aikido isn’t a walk in the park and in six weeks you don’t see quick results. But the level of training must meet the expectations of the street. If it doesn’t than it is a recreational activity or performance art. Osensei couldn’t see that his vision would be over-shadowed by the current level of today’s violence and what is needed to combat that violence.

    Not to completely rehash what I previously opined, Aikido is a performance art. Osensei’s approach to demos was a performance art and not a combat art. The theme of Osensei’s later demos was not showing how to best your competitor, to be a champion, or a comprehensive view on dealing with criminals. Primarily, the demos where designed to entice the audience to subscribe to his mission, to expand Aikido. Osensei was also on the modern band wagon approach to budo as many of his peers. The movement not intentional did turn all Japanese martial arts to being a performance art. The movement to change the past ways of feudal warfare into a more civilized activity lead to the martial arts including Aikido into being performance arts. Modernization and civil society turned all martial ways to arts. When we use the term “art” in martial art, we over-look that the word “art” means performance art. I don’t disagree that Aikido, as a performance art, has eliminated its effectiveness. I too think it is there. The mechanics of effective Aikido are not hidden.

    In Aikido circles you hear talk of this sensei or that hiding important information from the student. Aikido isn’t all that cryptic. We are not talking the DeVinici code phenomenon. What makes Aikido effective is not simply knowing the tricks, and the ins and outs of making a waza work well. Aikido is a realistic skill, it shouldn’t be perceived as fast food. It is also a matter of, crap in, crap out. Here is the other sense of Aikido being an art, as a skill, as a craft. Practice and effort is required to be good at it. No one can or will give the most important element in achieving proficiency, will and determination.

    I remember learning how to skate board when I was young. I watched Tony Hawk, my hero, do tricks I wanted to do. Tricks I was determined to do. As a kid, I saved up enough allowance money and bought a skate board. I practiced day and night in spike of the scores of injuries I collected, until I got the tricks down. It wasn’t a matter of instantaneous results. I would get tips but they where useless until I was ready for them. Until my skill level improved though years of obsessive practice. That was the only way I got good. That disciple paid off. Anything worth a salt, doesn’t happen instantly.

    The caveat is what ever tip I was given, I question the validity of it. I tried it out, I tested it first before judging its value. I didn’t take it as the gospel, and allow margins of error on my part as well as who was giving the tip. This is another issue that plagues Aikido. The sensei is seen as infallible in instruction. It may not be a sensei is holding back information keep it secret purpose. But rather having the skill to explain it, having an eye in precisely identify a problem and offering proper advice that is properly communicated. If someone is withhold information, get over it. Have confidence that information will be obtained either though practice or someone else.

    Bottom line everything can be achieved through practice, elbow grease, getting your hands dirty, putting some backbone into it, sweat and blood. It doesn’t matter if it is done as a performance art or not. Success isn’t given, it is earned. If you want Aikido to be effective on the street you have to train like a fighter, and not an artist. An artist who demonstrates, who performs the art, showcasing it to an audience that has expectations different then those on the street.

    To wrap up my rant. It irritates me those who complain and whine their Aikido isn’t effective, blaming it on their teachers or the Japanese all because they lack the discipline and will. It tweaks me to hear lazy people complain that didn’t get what someone else got. They are completely avoiding the responsibility for their own learning and success. Then comes lazy and apathetic instructors who themselves lack disciple to become better so they can teach better skills. Whose ego, image, and political involvement overload their abilities, resulting in poor performance and teaching. I call it the cancer of Aikido is what make Aikido ineffective vs. effective in any format. Yes, not only crappy role models and teachers, but also undisciplined students wanting instant success.

    I am uncomfortable about the idea of Aikido turning out protectors, sheep vs. wolves analogy. Because that has a connotation of social responsibility most people are not equipped to handle. What would exemplify that would be the situation with Mr. George Zimmerman as a result of killing Mr. Trevon Martin. In my opinion, I tread carefully, this is a situation on Zimmerman’s part that would have troubled Osensei.

    • Nev says:

      In any field the quest for any real skill has to be earned. It is hard work.

      A real fight is ugly.

      Surface skimming and mimicry is dance indeed.

      Most of today’s Aikido is mere choreography without real acceleration of spirit.

      Do you recall that really bad, highly choreographed, full of holes multiple attack scene by Tom Cruise in “Last Samurai?” It took numerous takes and much editing. That’s nothing to boast of at interviews.
      Well faked but obviously faked as the physics was not all correct. Instant gratification and faking it is a tendency in today’s world.

      But you can’t equate this with reality.

      Ever seen a demo where uke forgets to fall, looks around, sees the nage scowl and takes a dive, several seconds later?
      How embarrassing to be caught out lying publicly in this manner.
      All this puerile “fun” can blithely continue until crunch time comes and reality reveals her ruthless secrets.
      My suggestion has always been, train inside your limits, find what these are; and build from there.
      You’ll then be reluctant to go looking for trouble. But if it comes, as Morihei would say, “Leave things in the hands of the Universe.”

      I can’t speak for specific indents. These come and go. The social responsibility that Ueshiba’s Aikido philosophy speaks to is not one of endless playing catch-up whilst neglecting the factors that cause a society to rot. ( Physical violence is the tail end of a long chain of dysfunction events put in place by conscious dishonesty) Rather, to, “Care, nurture and protect … ” etc., You know the quote. The real Budo is the art and science of making an environment in society where violence finds it harder to take root. Sort of like fire prevention by observing a few simple things like not keeping a tub of petrol in your lounge room. (That’s ridiculous of course) But we practice equivalent failures in social responsibility and the chain of events that are the outcome of getting it wrong. One only such example out of many, being the failing to hold to account predatorial bankers who knowingly steal money using false pretenses and other forms of criminal activity to devastate the lives of families, causing them to lose their homes, thereby degrading the standard of society. Is this not an attack? Instead we bend over and accept rewarding them instead of making them severely accountable. Why this? The kids will end up in the street. A portion of them will likely turn to crime out of spite and disappointment having lost faith in their own society. This will stress the police’s already overloaded schedule who will wonder why a generation of criminals are so hell bent on claiming back from a society they perceive stole from them. The more cunning ones will rise in the underworld beyond petty crime, some even aspiring to politics. The message most politicians and corporate pirates send out is that crime by deceit is OK. By their role modeling. There are even movies that portray crime as somehow heroic. (e.g. Oceans 11)

      Where am I going with this? Here: Most physical violence is preventable by not enacting the other kinds of violation arising from the misuse of mind and intelligence. Physical violence is usually the tail end of a chain of events which arise out of toxic ki, bad intentions giving rise to harmful activities.

      Anyhow, getting back on track, the dishonesty of quasi Aikido is this: Numbers, bums on seats, using lies to make money. Just as for 200 years confectioners put lead in children’s lollies to make the colour enticing, knowing full well it would cause permanent brain damage, etc. We are basically a species with a penchant to dishonesty, if a gain is perceived. In fact lies ultimately lead to all-lose scenarios in every case.

      In the end Budo will make you honest or dead. Either way you’ll end up good.

      There is a lot of work to be done. Most people take the cowards way out and say, “It’s all too big for me.”
      Not so. You are a cog in the machinery. We all are. Budo, sincere Aiki Budo says, along with Morihei: BEGIN WITH YOURSELF!

      The best place to change society and stop corruption is by not playing the game of self deception. Self deception is where all the rot begins. Study what the Buddha said instead of grovelling before statues with incense. The message is nothing new. But people won’t begin to listen until their karma begins to shred them. Not until then will most start to look for answers.

      Most of the true spiritual warriors work will not be “in the street” unless that is his or her vocation but in day to day, in not either accepting nor contributing to the substandard. If we care about maintaining our social environment that is.

      As with neglect of local fire prevention giving rise to incidents of house or forest fire, (yes both are preventable and the science is known and has been known for a long time – but then the media would be out of a job, eh?) the societal conflagration becomes one of crime, then war, disease then pestilence and so on.

      What has all this to do with the dojo? Re-read Morihei’s Rule No 6.

      Morihei Ueshiba had his own peculiar and often poetic way to put forward the result of his enlightenment. It is not to be found in “the playthings of the dojo,” techniques. Nor brawling. The techniques are tools we use to hold ourselves to account. Self motivated discipline to clear the mind and heart of toxic garbage.

      We can not have harmony and discord at the same time and, like it or not, it’s a choice of trajectory each and every living being on the planet is responsible to contributing towards but don’t know how.

      Aiki Budo is a tool that enables you to bring forth core integrity as a better rounded human being.

      Anyhow I think we are singing in the same choir.

      In training we all have good days and bad days. Don’t let the bad days get the best of you. The bad days are your best days to train. Never give up! Training should be conducted as if in preparation for a real event. That’s the only way to train but most people have never encountered a real event and so have no point of reference. Anything else is dance if you want to call it that.

      In Budo I call it dishonest.

      Proper training improves you as a human being.

      We vote with our actions and footsteps and the accumulated ki then gives us what we asked for. The long hard way to learn.

      Morihei and others like him propose a less painful road. That’s all.

      • Joe Peterson says:

        Yes, sir we are. We stand arm to arm in the same choir. Unfortunately, the song we sing falls on a myriad of deaf ears. All because of, as you said, money. I add three other blinding things, willful ignorance, the fulfillment of fantasy, and inflated ego.

        Just the other day I was reading posts on a Facebook group that posted a ridiculous post. I was so amazed at so many posters’ insistence on indulging in fantasy, and falsehoods. Well, not really considering the countless posts elsewhere on the net at this very moment continuing to indulge in fantasy and other nonsense. Money, ego, and fantasy are so very powerful.

  5. Samuel Coe says:

    The best explanation I have heard of for zanshin is this.

    ‘as you finish a technique imagine striking a temple bell. As you move away from your opponent you can still here that bell ringing, you are still being aware of them; have they moved? What is going on around me (enzan no metsuke)? Even as you move further away you can still here the lingering of that bell. It then comes to a point where you are not sure if you can here it or not but it keeps your attention alive’

    thats zanshin for me. In fact enzan no metsuke and zanshin for me go together. If zanshin is my ‘lingering spirit’ enzan no metsuke ‘staring at the distant mountains’ enables me to apply my confidence/spirit/zanshin call it want you want, in this way I feel like I am less likely to become a victim in any situation.

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