PDA

View Full Version : Remembering Ed Baker Sensei



Gil Gillespie
19th November 2000, 02:10
Long before we had an E-budo, Baker Sensei maintained an "Aiki-philosophy" discussion group. With the advent of the internet, the group moved online, and expanded considerably. Sensei would toss out thought-provoking "posts" for our rumination and response. Fotunately, in retrospect I saved many of these because I didn't have time to consider them when I received them, or because Le Roy, my surviving brain cell was overwhelmed, and needed time to digest. From Ed Baker Sensei:

Yamamoto Sensei explained that Aikido, as Budo, consisted of four areas of training:
1) Art, what one did on the mat was art!
2) Service (Samu), What one did to make one's community a better place in which to live and to earn a living!
3) Education, formal and informal, it was through education, that one earned position and respect from the seasoned persons of one's society!
4) Spirituality, the relationship between oneself and what one deemed the higher power! Read Earnest Becker's Book: The Denial Of Death to understand the importance of such a relationship!)
Thus, Aikido as Budo, is for the complete development and completion of the of the one who would walk this path of discipline!
Remember that Good Judgement comes from experience! Experience comes from Bad Judgement!
Greytengu9

Greytengu9 was Baker Sensei's email signature. Tomorrow (Sunday 11/19) the Orlando Budo community will gather to say goodbye to this great teacher and friend. Your reactions to his "post" would bring a smile to his face. And he never considered that we would always agree. . .

Mike Collins
20th November 2000, 02:11
I hope your remembrance was comforting. I very much like the idea that Aikido is about more than technical ability.

Paul Schweer
21st November 2000, 22:09
Originally posted by Gil Gillespie
….
Yamamoto Sensei explained that Aikido, as Budo, consisted of four areas of training:
1) Art, what one did on the mat was art!
2) Service (Samu), What one did to make one's community a better place in which to live and to earn a living!
3) Education, formal and informal, it was through education, that one earned position and respect from the seasoned persons of one's society!
4) Spirituality, the relationship between oneself and what one deemed the higher power!
….
Thus, Aikido as Budo, is for the complete development and completion of the one who would walk this path of discipline!
….
Greytengu9
….
Your reactions to his "post" would bring a smile to his face….


Hello Gil,

Okay. I'll give it a shot.

-------

1) Art

I know that what I do on the mat is supposed to be art, but I don't know how it's played.

When I was seven my mother took me to see Michael Hedges in the basement of his parents' home. I wanted to play guitar, and he was giving lessons. He wasn't the only one in town giving lessons, but he was my mother's choice. She thought he was something special. I remember his placing my fingers, and explaining that if I paid attention the chord would tell me how it should sound and how I should play it. He left town not long after our lessons began, and I went to a different teacher. Ten years of lessons and practice passed and I put it down. I wanted to get better, but I didn't know how. And didn't know what "better" was, and probably still don't.

Michael Hedges knew, and did the work required to express it. He drove his car off a mountain recently. I'm still around, and maybe the chords are still talking. Maybe I would have heard them if I hadn't quit. But I did quit, and that for sure killed my chance at a maybe.

I try to remember this when frustrated by my training's lack of artistry.

2) Service

And the artist? So many seem undeserving of respect. I know that some exceptional artists, despicable excepting their art, are revered outside their homes. Or within their clique. Or after their death. What they accomplish is, ultimately, of no comfort to them.

My father, while certainly not a saint, is an old man with no promises left to keep. When I was a boy, and the extended family would gather, I could sit in the corner ignored. Now when I see family, I'm often sought out and told of my father's service; what he's done for neighbors who needed a hand, or for family in need of help. He's served his country, his community, and his church in many ways for many years.

He is the most contented, most peaceful man I've ever known.

3) Education

I know that, like Mr. Clemens, I should, "… never let my schooling interfere with my education." I also know that I should have a better attitude about both. As a rule I enjoy learning, as long as it's superficial. It's usually when I reach a point where some proficiency or at least competency is expected that I "lose interest." Another bad habit I'm trying to break.

But as a means of earning respect from "seasoned persons?" I hadn't thought of it that way, but I'm not sure that's the best argument for education. I think that "seasoned persons," at least those worthy of an effort to impress, are more practical. If I were to imagine a relevant quote from this hypothetical elder, it would be something like, "Education is all fine and good, but it's worthless if you still insist on acting like a fool."

4) Spirituality

How do I decide what to do? Right now? Today? For a living? For my family? Or what not to do? A "moral framework" is what I call it. Can't remember where I heard it first. "A personal set of rules relating to conduct." That's how I would define a moral framework. I think everyone should have one, and it could probably be argued that everyone does. It's definition and origin would be as unique as the individual, of course.

So given that one should strive to define a moral framework, and to then conform to it, why is spirituality important? Well, if I screw up what then? What if I encounter a situation the rules don't cover? What if my rules, defined by me without consideration of a "higher power", allow or even enable selfish or destructive pursuits?

Better to start with a spiritual assumption and commitment, I think, and go from there.

-------

Can the study of Aikido, as Budo, help me understand and develop in these areas? I don't know, Gil. That's more than I expected from it. If so, great. I could use a hand.

Best to you and yours,

Paul Schweer

Gil Gillespie
25th November 2000, 05:00
Beautiful introspective post, Paul.

If I may play devil's advocate-----Baker Sensei conveyed Yamamoto Sensei's concept of spiritual as reconciling with one's concept of his Creator. Another view of budo spirit is fighting spirit, that in serious training one cultivates a sincere unwavering warrior ethos, i.e. training embodies the warrior's stoic acceptance of death and "enter under the sword" reality.

Which is the true spiritual value of real budo? Can these two seemingly disparate perspectives somehow attain a confluence? If so, how?

Paul Schweer
28th November 2000, 15:22
Originally posted by Gil Gillespie

… Baker Sensei conveyed Yamamoto Sensei's concept of spiritual as reconciling with one's concept of his Creator. Another view of budo spirit is fighting spirit, that in serious training one cultivates a sincere unwavering warrior ethos, i.e. training embodies the warrior's stoic acceptance of death and "enter under the sword" reality.

Which is the true spiritual value of real budo? Can these two seemingly disparate perspectives somehow attain a confluence? If so, how?

Hello Gil,

I don't think a "fighting spirit" and a "[reconciliation] with one's concept of his Creator" are necessarily disparate perspectives. How can I develop a "stoic acceptance of death" without a belief in something bigger than myself? Isn't a calm acceptance of the Creator's power over life and death the very definition of the reconciliation you describe?

They don't conflict; they compliment each other.

Paul Schweer

WillG
4th December 2000, 02:21
Baker Sensei was a hell of a teacher. He revealed just enough of his knowledge to let you know that he really knew his stuff, but rarely told you directly what to do. And Dog forbid if you ever grabbed ahold of his wrist.
He conducted his seminars in an unconventional way, never letting students quite grasp what he was pointing to, but he would stand there the entire time saying "No, No, Look!". He as much as stated that he felt it was his duty to confuse the attendees and make them think. He's not one that will go down in the Great Aiki Ledger as a famous teacher, but for those few who hung out with him just long enough to appreciate his unique contributions, we will never forget.

At the last seminar in May, Masutani Sensei & I couldn't find him, right before the start of the afternoon session. We finally spotted him at the nearby grocery store checkout, making a purchase. I spotted some foam rubber bats and grabbed a pair. We nonchalantly advanced on him. At about 12 feet away he quickly looked up at us, and slowly smiled.

Will Graves