Go away

This time is was “healthy morning start!” or some such nonsense. I said “fuck off.”

Next time some prize jerk makes a comment on my running I think I’ll stop. Here’s what I’ll say:

You don’t make comments to men running. I know you don’t so don’t pretend.

Just shut up. Keep your eyes in your head and your tongue inside your lips.

No noises. Shut up or drop dead.

Why I bothered

I said that I accept never training again. I had (and have) reasons for saying that.

  • It’s true.
  • I want people to understand that losing aikido is a survivable option.
  • I hoped people would read a relatively out there idea and decide that their own options were
  • My long standing beliefs about aikido organizations.

Of course it’s this final reason that I want to clarify.

As I’ve probably said before, I’m not intrigued by aikido’s philosophical and religious underpinnings. That’s because I’m an atheist who finds the search for meaning and order utterly pointless. I’m happy living in the material world. I’m content knowing that I’m done when I die.

As a result, when looking into aikido, NYA attracted me because the training placed no emphasis on ki. My first sight of Yamada cemented my perception of NYA as a place where training was important and doctrine was not. I walked into the dojo and saw a shirtless middle aged man with a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other.

As I met people from other dojos and other lineages I noticed that many of them had internalized the idea that there was one correct method of training and that they should not deviate.

Yamada appeared to promote diversity in style. I liked that.

To summarize:

  • I picked a dojo that didn’t emphasize spiritual development.
  • I picked a teacher who appeared happy when his students did their own aikido, not his.

I ignored that many aikido dojos were run by men who fucked their students and then kicked those students out. (Yamada did that at least once.) Hell, I ignored that the founder of the art was fascist and mentally ill.

I ignored that hombu seemed fine with aikido teachers who beat up their students (and their wives).

In other words, I ignored the glaring flaws in aikido organizations because I enjoyed training and moving up in the ranks.

I had fun in my enclave. I knew, though, that the overarching organizations were basically some combination of incompetent or lousy or involved in spiritual practice that wasn’t for me.

Now I’ve had to accept that my corner, NYA, wasn’t the sanctuary I’d thought.

I’m 6th Dan. I have achieved a lot already in the organization. Thus I don’t need to stay in an organization to prove I’ve got chops. Been there done that.

Since I am not a believer in the philosophical specialness of aikido, I examined what’s there for me.

  • Throwing people into walls.
  • Being thrown.
  • Hanging out.
  • Making very close friends.

Then I wonder, do I need (or want) aikido for that? What would aikido be without bowing? What uniform do I want? What people should I train with!

I realized that there may be many dojos which would be fine with my attitude as a student, but –

  • They bow to a picture of a man who had odd (when not outright fascist) ideas.
  • They pay lip service to aikido’s specialness.

When I think about all this, I realize that maybe I will not train as an aikidoist. Maybe I’ve never really been one.

That’s OK by me.

Now for out there vs not so odd.

I believe that a lot of aikidoists like the idea of aikido philosophy as the special sauce that makes their training (and them) special too.

(To clarify, I’m not above this, it’s just that I perceived aikido’s specialness as being physical leverage well designed for short people. Like me. A lot of aikido technique is easier for me than for most bigger people.)

So if you’re a person who wants rank, you’ll probably want to stay in a rank granting organization.

If you’re a dojo you have to think about your students. What do they need?

If you like your dojo, you may have decided to leave the question up to your dojo cho.

  • You may really really really want to stay in the USAF.
  • You have friends and you want to keep them.
  • You like being part of something bigger than you.
  • You respect Yamada as a teacher and proselytizer.
  • You are too old too find something new
  • Your teacher likes and respects you.
  • Your students need access to rank.
  • Your students need access to more partners and styles.

I would be lying if I said I don’t judge you. I do. I think you’re wrong to stay. It’s immoral. But what do you care what I think?

I don’t want what you want

“We are all working towards the same outcome.”

“We all aspire to the same things.”

“We all want the best for each other.”

In this debacle, the issue is aikido.

“We all want what’s best for aikido.”

No. We don’t.

We have a variety of agendas. We have different needs.

I could start listing the different things we want and I’d still be here next week. In brief, each of us wants something different. Even so, I see a few broad shapes.

– Some people are sick of the USAF and of all aikido organizations.

– Some people want to continue to achieve rank in an aikido organization.

– Some people don’t give a damn about organizations, but want to train.

– Some people make a living out of aikido, and want some kind of association of dojo cho.

– Some people are done.

– Some people remain committed to teachers who will remain in the USAF.

– Some people want a reason to stay with Yamada.

So if you’re someone who’s done, you’ll do and say very different things, in very different ways, from someone who is committed to staying in the USAF. Pretending otherwise is an error.

Moreover, there are many beliefs about what aikido actually is. I fall at one end of a spectrum: I don’t think aikido is intrinsically special. It’s a good tool for some people.

My take is, as I said, at one end of a spectrum. At the other end are people who believe deeply in the unique ability of aikido training to promote human potential. As a result of our different beliefs about what aikido is, we might have differing views about the importance of preserving a good image of aikido, or protecting a legacy.

That’s why you read me saying things that seem disrespectful or off-hand. Deep down inside, I don’t think aikido has any significance aside from the ways practitioners use it. I don’t care whether O Sensei retains admiration. I don’t care if aikido organizations succeed or fail. More accurately, I don’t care, aside from keeping friends happy and employed.

I am fairly certain that my attitude is not shared by everyone.

But even among people who care deeply about aikido (as opposed to caring about other practitioners), there are wide differences in what people want and need. Someone who has just started training might be interested in achieving rank. Someone who has rank might be interested in teaching in a hombu associated dojo. Someone else might care primarily about passing along their own skills. These are very different desires, and might lead to different tactics.

Let me get specific again. If you want rank recognized by hombu (and I certainly did), you have to train with people who have links to hombu.

That doesn’t have to mean USAF, but you might feel the need to be circumspect anyway.

You might live somewhere where the best training (by whatever measures you use) is in USAF dojos. If that’s the case you might feel the need to watch what you say, or to display deference. You might look for a reason to accept what YY says.

If that describes your situation, your needs differ from those of someone who has decided they want to be part of a cooperative dojo. The person who wants a cooperative might look into multiple arts as part of their training, and might not need (or want) hombu certification.

Pretending that you share the same perspective or needs doesn’t serve either of you well.

Those were general examples but I’m sure each person knows what they want, and can assess what others want.

Again, I think that assuming we all want the same things is a mistake. We have an alliance hoping for specific changes in the USAF. The actions we are willing to take if and when Yamada and the USAF leadership shoots down our common desires will differ.

Some of us are willing to stay in the USAF, although we’d prefer it changes. Some of us are not.

If you don’t realize that these are very different options, then you won’t be able to formulate a reasonable plan.

Another way of perceiving this situation: we have different aims, as a result we will favor strategies that achieve our own aims, not those of others. We will favor tactics that work within our strategies.

Again, that’s why I’m not very discreet. I’m already out. I don’t have to defer to YY or the board of the USAF.

You might.

Special

Some aikidoists are hurt and confused right now.

Much of their distress stems from their idea of what aikido is and what aikidoists should be.

Aikido isn’t special or important.

Aikido is a more-or-less modern martial art, created by a cult member and all around odd person. Ueshiba claimed that his art developed fighting skills and magic insight.

If you train hard and seriously, yes you’ll develop the skills. You won’t develop magical ki because magical healing and bullet sensing and all that don’t exist.

At advanced levels, you can end a disagreement without harm. So what? That’s substantially true of any martial arts system.

As for focus and insight, aikido doesn’t differ intrinsically from any other tool. If you’re working on some aspect of your character, if you’re attempting meditation, that’s on you. Aikido could be your tool. So could writing morning pages. So could knitting, or swimming, or, well, pretty much anything.

Studying a martial art won’t make you a better person. Becoming a better person makes you a better person.

The organization is the people. If they are lousy, then the ideals maybe aren’t true.

Apology forsooth

An apology is addressed to those who were harmed, names the harm, expresses regret for the harm, promises to stop doing it, and indicates how the apologizer will make up for it. SP wrote the text below. It is an apology to Yamada Sensei, but not to the people he insulted with the asinine and misogynist crap he posted. I am going to unpack his no-it-really-isn’t-an-apology.

A few days ago, I published a meme which I realize now was insensitive and hurtful. I am so sorry for my actions. I also apologize to my teacher, Yamada Shihan as I know my words reflected badly on him and the dojo I love.

This has been an educational moment for me, as I realize how limited I was in my point of view. I am appreciative of all the feedback and I promise to evolve on the subject of gender bias. I love Aikido and I hope, as a beginner you will continue to guide me to a more elevated understanding of issues around gender.

Here’s what I read:

I wrote something a while since that got me in trouble. I didn’t think it was so terrible, but people I look up to have told me that it wasn’t very nice. I apologize to my teacher, YY because what I wrote made him look bad and didn’t do much for his dojo either.

I have been schooled. Since I’m an aikido beginner, I expect my seniors will tell me more about gender bias. I’m certainly not going to take a women’s studies class or read feminist literature. That way, when I fuck up again, it will be the fault of senior women in aikido.

And here’s the breakdown.

Hurtful and insensitive

The meme in question, equating support for women with hatred of men was misogynist and false.

An apology has to name what you’ve done. He didn’t.

I am so sorry for my actions

He hasn’t named the people he’s harmed yet. Instead he has expressed regret for the thing he was caught at.

I also apologize to my teacher, Yamada Shihan as I know my words reflected badly on him and the dojo I love.

That’s an apology. He named the person, and he named what he did. He wrote something that reflected badly on his teacher. Notice, he named Yamada. He didn’t name, or even describe anyone else who was harmed.

I love Aikido and I hope, as a beginner you will continue to guide me to a more elevated understanding of issues around gender

Just wow. He’s 29. He can guide himself.

Here’s what an actual apology to the people he insulted would look like

To the people supporting the coalition of independent aikido women, to the signers of the petition.

A few days ago I published a meme insulting the coalition and the petitioners. That was wrong of me. I apologize to all of you for publishing something insulting and bigoted.

I won’t do it again, and I will monitor myself very carefully in future.

I am taking this as a wakeup call. I will learn more about gender issues. I will do so on my own. Even so, and I know it’s a big favor to ask, and of course I will google “feminism 101”, but I would really appreciate any suggestions. Books, or websites especially.

Thanks for reading this. Again I’m so sorry.

See the difference?

Of course you do. Oh, all right, I’ll allow him to apologize to YY as well:

To the people supporting the coalition of independent aikido women, to the signers of the petition.

A few days ago I published a meme insulting the coalition and the petitioners. That was wrong of me. I apologize to all of you for publishing something insulting and bigoted.

I won’t do it again, and I will monitor myself very carefully in future.

Also, I want to apologize to Yamada Shihan. What I wrote reflected badly on him and on the dojo.

I am taking this as a wakeup call. I will learn more about gender issues. I will do so on my own. Even so, and I know it’s a big favor to ask, and of course I will google “feminism 101”, but I would really appreciate any suggestions. Books, or websites especially.

Thanks for reading this. Again I’m so sorry.

Even with the apology to YY, it’s clear where the sorrow and regret are, or should be, directed.

It wasn’t hard to write a real apology. Steve didn’t write one.

I’m not at all surprised. He isn’t sorry for his bigotry or his insults. He’s sorry that YY is mad at him.

Done

When I first saw the petition, I had three thoughts in quick succession:

– This will be totally ignored, but I might as well sign.

– Yamada Sensei will probably get pissed at people who sign.

– I shouldn’t be a coward – I’m signing.

So I signed.

I could say that as a result of signing, I won’t be able to practice at NYA, but I would be inaccurate.

As a result of the irrational and punitive actions of Yamada Sensei and the boards of the NYA and the USAF, I don’t want to practice at the NYA. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to practice with people who support those actions, regardless of their affiliation.

I considered posting the paragraphs above somewhere public, but I really don’t know whether there is any point. The people who know me well already know that this is what I think. I’m not important in the aikido world, so I doubt if my opinion would carry any weight elsewhere.

I was supposed to accept it?

I didn’t.

I was on the subway. A man gestured and asked me to scoot over a bit so he could sit. I did.

As he seated himself he reached across me to the rail and elbowed me in the nose.

Me: “Hey! You hit me in the face!”

Him:”Sorry but the thing was moving.” [I don’t even know what he was talking about]

Me: “You still got me in the face. All I need is the apology not the excuse.”

“FUCK YOU!”

And he got up and left.

Jerk

Grumpy

I should just turn the page when people talk about exploring bisexuality.

I’m annoyed on multiple fronts:

  • If you’re bi, any new sex is exploring bisexuality. You mean “I want to have sex with a person of my sex (or gender)”.
  • Your queer friends don’t want to have sex with you. Even if we wanted to when we met (we probably didn’t), we’re over that.
  • Use your words. Really. Just tell someone.
  • Accept that you’ll be turned down.
  • If your “exploration” isn’t generated by desire for a particular person, please think through what you want.
  • If you don’t want me, if it’s the idea of sex with a woman that you like, but I don’t get you wet, go away.