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I the States, I might agree, but in Japan, those cultural aspects are still alive and kicking. Also, I think in the States some of it can be applicable. I think it's good for Americans, who are generally used to the in-your-face style of communication, to learn to use a little ambiguity... maybe that's just me.

The Japanese have no trouble, and in fact, traditionally are two faced -- they have two versions of truth: tatemae and hon'ne or public and private truth. So I don't think the Japanese have any problem with interactive modes on-the-mat and off-the-mat being completely different.

Of course if you take any time to really look at the bureaucracy in Japan you'll see that the two versions of truth -- among other traditional practices previously necessitated by the drive to "preserve the wa" or harmony of social relationships -- add layers and layers of red tape. It affects the very cognition of some long-time bureaucrats where they develop a defined expectation of what you must say or more importantly how you say it in order to be approved for something or other.

I can see I've gone off on a huge tangent but I am at work, where ambiguous social rules are all encompassing. Although my aikido training has helped me develop ways of being straightforward and honest without being too overly offensive, I wish more than anything that half of the administrative people in Boards of Education in Japan would practice that more direct method of communication.

So, in short, I feel your pain -- I see where you're coming from, and in Japan, it's even more of a problem. People cultivate their ability to be as ambiguous as possible, skating around issues and avoiding conflict where sometimes the issue should be dealt with and if conflict arises, it can be dealt with swiftly rather than putting the issue off for another hour, another day, another week, another month. Oh yes... it can be frustrating.

Coleman Ridge

It can be deeply frustrating, particularly in business meetings, to work with someone determined to avoid conflict at all costs, but there are circumstances where the trait is invaluable. In any enterprise where there is not much slack, and in which just keeping going on together is more important than anything else, conflict avoidance is pretty much essential. In a family where one can't stomp off to one's room for a couple of hours because no one has their own room, and because everyone has to be on deck all the time, you don't want ever to fight toe to toe. Similarly in a small dojo where everyone comes every class. Any given conflict will shake down eventually, so long as everyone can just keep going along together; but any outright conflict might make it impossible to go on together.

What aikido can teach, if one studies it right, is to see the moment of mutual clarity when you can talk with another person without fighting. It will also teach one to see the moment of weakness at which they can be manipulated, but decent people don't take those opportunities, except in emergencies.

Jeff Dooley

Whether or not to die on a particular hill is definitely a judgement call. You do always want to pick your battles.

However, I have seen established dojos disintegrate to ashes because built-up issues were covered up over years. In these cases they were unable, beneath the weight of layers of perceived injustices and assessments of prejudice stemming from poorly handled dojo business matters, to keep "going on together."

Additionally I have seen at least one Aikido dojo association reorganized in part because the long histories and old grudges among the higher-ups were unable to be aired out frankly and forthrightly.

These kinds of failures could perhaps be avoided if we weren't so programmed to hide the way we actually feel under polite smiles, but were encouraged to speak more forthrightly. Of course, this takes a particular skill set which is lacking in most Aikidoka as it is lacking in the general population. Yet, good faith attempts could be made, however faltering, if clearing the air was made more of a priority.

Coleman, you make a good point in suggesting that a given conflict can be worked out on the mat over time. This is a really good way to do it in some cases, especially among students of various rank. But sometimes the instructors are involved in creating and sustaining conflict situations, and it's difficult, because of the dilemma of needing to show respect for teachers, to process grievances associated with Senseis. It is especially difficult when there are grievances among Senseis of different dojos or styles. These problems can cast a shadow over decades of relations between dojos and groups withing larger associations.

This latter category of problems and grudges is, I think, an especially serious obstacle to the healthy growth of Aikido. It certainly inhibits good cross pollination of stylistic elements that may help the art not become too inbred within particular styles.



You might be interested in reading a recent article by Gaku Homma Sensei that talks about how Hitohiro Sensei has, in the time since his father's death "faced many challenges head on that he could run or hide from."

I just ran across it the other day and it really resonated with the points you made in your post. When I reread your writing, I started thinking about how some dojos and some Sensei express aikido as very circular movements, while Hitohiro Sensei and Tatoian Sensei -- and Saito Sensei, I've heard -- have, time and again, reminded us that aikido is often about efficiency of movement and that a straight line is often the best choice rather than a circuitous route. . . it's one way Iwama style tends to differ from many of the 'softer' styles.

Just a thought... :) Here's a link to the article by Homma Sensei:



The more aiki we have in our lives, the less threatening receiving a direct approach in conflict becomes for us.

That said, most all of us are still in various stages of living that aiki, and some people we will communicate with will doubtless be very far from accomplishing it.

I think the most pragmatic rule of thumb to follow is that the more public the venue of communication, the less direct the approach to conflict. The more private the venue, the more direct the approach.

If they can't take a direct though private approach, the pragmatic understanding is that their ego is in the way and there to stay. Now you have to decide if it's better to walk away, or worth it to take the last step by publicly and directly addressing the issue, understanding that doing the latter will make them hostile and defensive if they couldn't deal with the direct approach privately.

All this done with the understanding of 'minimal necessary force'.

I've never seen a better, more realistic approach to communication; if you have, I'd love to learn it from you.


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Would an Aikidoka be able to prevent a wrietlsng shoot to the legs?Yes, by keeping his distance and getting the hell out of there the first chance he gets.What does an Aikidoka do if he is wrestled to the ground?Try to reverse the takedown attempt and then push off and get the hell out of there.Does he have any Aikido priniciples or techniques to apply if he finds himself on his back in a groundfight?If you end up on the ground, then you did not follow the Aikido principles nor properly apply the techniques in the first place. And no, as far as I know, there are no Aikido techniques for ground fighting. Best you can do is scramble and try to get up and away as fast as you can.


Hi Mark,I'm thinking that for the trip, I'll be a) gtnietg a larger bike and b) gtnietg a small camping trailer. I found one that has 15 cu ft of storage that looks like it will hold what I need.I think between the trailer and saddlebags / luggage containers I should be able to manage. That's the plan at this stage anyway. Who knows?I just got my M1 and will be taking the motorcycle course at Niagara College in May to get my M2. I'm riding an older Virago 535 and am looking into gtnietg a custom luggage rack made to hold my bogu bag and shinai bag so I can commute to Kendo with my gear. With gas prices the way they are, that makes tons of sense to me.When I have the M2 and the bogu rack, I'd be really interested in heading up to Collingwood for a practice. What club's up that way? Definitely sounds like it warrants a visit : )I'll keep you posted when I'm properly licensed racked ; )


Hi Lara,Just want to say Thank You for the Zumba dance of last 8 weeks, I did enjoy your class training for Zumba dance, your music, your movatition … You are a wonderful trainer with excellent experience, great patience. I always look forward to attending to your class every week. It is relaxing, enjoyable and fun, never boring, one hour goes fast … I found that it is the best way for me to excise and keep fit. Big Thank You!Flore Lifrom LoyaltyOne


Bonitos recuedos me ha trdaio esa foto . en el 2004 (vaya q ha pasado el tempo) tube la oportunidad de practicar con Vicente y el grupo de ese entonces en Tarongers Excelente experiencia saludos desde Mc3a9xico

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Aikido Quotes

  • O-Sensei: My students think I don't lose my center. That is not so; I simply recognize it sooner and get back faster.

  • Morihiro Saito Sensei: Aikido is generally believed to represent circular movements. Contrary to such belief, however, Aikido, in its true KI form, is a fierce art piercing straight through the center of opposition.

  • Furuya Sensei on Swordsmanship: Letting go of the idea of “sword” and the idea of “action” is the meaning behind “willow in the gentle breeze.” When the slight summer breeze blows, does the willow follow the “nature of the willow,” or does it follow the “nature of the breeze?” Please think about this - in this lies the essence of sword technique.