Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Questions about innovation in aikido

Photo courtesy of Can3ro55o
Is aikido perfect just the way it was handed down from Morihei Ueshiba? Was Ueshiba's magical aikido transmitted to your teacher and on to you with perfect fidelity?
Where does the innovation in the art come from? That is, who is in charge of innovating; every individual aikidoka? the mid-level instructors? only the greatest masters? Who owns aikido, along with the rights to preserve or change it?
In what other form of art is the object to faithfully reproduce the master's skill and performance?
I don't know what your answers are - I'm not even wholly sure what my own answers to these questions would be, but the traditional Japanese answer is shuhari - the three-stages of learning

  • Shu - to keep - your object is to learn to copy your master's skills with as perfect a fidelity as possible. This stage generally lasts to some rank around shodan (first black belt)
  • Ha - to break - After about shodan, you are given progressively more freedom to adapt the art to your own body and personality and preferences, while staying within the confines of your master's system and framework for the art. This stage generally lasts from about nidan (2nd black belt) to godan (5th black belt) or longer.
  • Ri - to leave - Eventually you are expected to transcend your master's understanding of the art, creating your own personal expression of what the art is. Many practitioners never get to this level, but if they do, it is typically after rokudan (6th black belt).
What do you think?

Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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