Monday, October 21, 2013

The Conversation of Ideas

In a lot of ways, most of the aikido world has treated their art like a religion.  That is, many instructors and clubs and organizations have been operating under the premise that they have the only Truth, the only REAL aikido - and that all outsiders are sadly ignorant or willfully wrong-headed.  Some organizations that have embodied this sort of model have become self-segregated, if not just plain inbred.
I think that this model is a thing of the past.  Many groups and practitioners seem to be growing out of this idea and trying to engage the broader world of aikido and of budo in general.  I think that a more appropriate model for an aikido organization (as opposed to religious dogma) would be that of a sort of Institution of Higher Learning - like the classical Ivy League colleges of old.  These were not places where kids went to trade school or apprenticeship to learn to do a craft.  These were colleges where scholars gathered to engage in The Conversation of Ideas.
If we were to try to make our aikido clubs and organizations like Martial arts Grad Schools, what would this mean?  What does it mean to be in Grad School?  Among other things...

  • Working on more advanced material - not just primers and vocational training
  • Joining in the Conversation of Ideas - not just learning, but communicating with other scholars working on the same problems in different ways around the world.
  • Solving real world problems instead of abstract exercises - or at least engaging real-world problems, whether they could be solved or not.
  • Contributing - Graduate students were expected to make significant contributions to the world and to their field of study.

Expect more on this topic over the next few days, and stay tuned...

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Patrick Parker

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