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Aikido Article

Aikido Article

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Published by: portoalegreaikikai on Dec 15, 2009
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International Journal of Intercultural Relations24 (2000) 741–761
Training in culture: the case of aikido educationand meaning-making outcomes in Japanand the United States
C. Jeffrey Dykhuizen*
Lakeland College Japan
Abstract
This study investigated whether a relationship existed between instructional style and pointsof emphasis in the training context of the martial art aikido and the perceptions whichpractitioners of aikido generated for aikido-related concepts. The findings were gatheredwithin and compared across aikido training settings in two cultures
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Japan and the UnitedStates. Analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data gathered for this investigationrevealed several potent differences between the manner in which Japanese and Americanaikido practitioners represented their understandings of aikido-related concepts. Differences inthe manner in which aikido practitioners in Japan and the United States represented theirunderstandings of aikido reflected the teaching emphasis observed in the respective cultures. Itwas concluded that aikido instructors represented the values of their own culture in thecontext of aikido training, and thus served as important mediating forces influencing themeaning which practitioners generated for aikido. An additional finding revealed that inneither culture were participants able to accurately represent how practitioners in the ‘‘other’’culture structured their understandings of aikido. It was reasoned that both cultural groupsgenerated faulty perceptions of how the ‘‘other’’ group understood aikido because theyutilized a similar pattern of projection, using their own meanings of aikido to represent theunderstandings of practitioners in the ‘‘other’’ cultural group.
#
2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.All rights reserved.
Keywords:
Aikido; Cultural diffusion; Education; Cross-cultural studies; Psychology; Semiotics*Correspondence address. 9320 Ravine Ridge, Caledonia, MI, 49316, USA.
E-mail address:
cjdyk@yahoo.com (C. J. Dykhuizen).0147-1767/00/$-see front matter
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2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.PII: S014 7- 1767(0 0)00029 -8
 
1. Introduction
When persons from different cultures come into contact, there is an inevitableexchange of cultural elements. Generally, the meaning and function of a cultural artifactor practice is altered as it is transferred from one culture to another (Hunter & Whitten,1976). Developments in transportation and communications technology in thecontemporary world have resulted in information being shared between cultures atever-increasing rates. It is therefore becoming increasingly important to have a clearunderstanding of the process of information transfer across cultures. This studyinvestigated the process by which an artifact from one culture was received into another.In the past several decades the Asian martial arts have become quite popular andextensively practiced in the United States (Trulson, 1986). Several authors (Min,1979; Back & Kim, 1984) have suggested that there are differences in martial artsinstruction in American and Japanese
dojo
s (training halls). It has been argued thatthe process of recontextualizing the martial arts into the culture of the United Stateshas resulted in new understandings of the martial arts (Columbus & Rice, 1991;Trulson, 1986; Deshimaru in Wertz, 1984). The majority of the research which hasgenerated these findings, however, has involved hard, linear, combat-orientedmartial arts. Aikido, which was used as an example in this study, is a relatively new,soft, spiritually based martial art.
1.1. The nature of aikido
Aikido is a soft, circular Japanese martial way which is commonly translated intoEnglish as ‘‘the way of harmony’’. In aikido, the goal of training is to generate abalance of body, mind, and spirit (Ueshiba, 1984). This is accomplished by trainingto centralize and extend ‘‘
ki 
’’ or vital energy, and to coordinate it harmoniouslywith the surrounding circumstances (Ratti & Westerbrook, 1973, p. 359). Aikido’sfounder, Morihei Ueshiba, believed that violence and aggression could be guided, ledor turned aside by the harmonious coordination of spirit. The manifestations of thisprinciple can be observed in watching an aikido practitioner whirl and spin, leadingthe aggressor’s force to a harmonious, non-violent outcome. From its inception,aikido has emphasized a spiritual component (Ueshiba, 1984; Saotome, 1993), andthis emphasis has differentiated aikido from other, more combative martial arts.Aikido was founded by Morihei Ueshiba in Japan in 1942 (Crawford, 1992;Ueshiba, 1984) and it is practiced widely in Japan by persons of both genders andvarious ages. Aikido was first introduced in the United States in 1953, and it iscurrently estimated that there are approximately 1000 aikido
dojo
s in the continentalUnited States (Pranin, 1991). Aikido has recently received attention due to thesuccess of Steven Segal’s movies.
1.2. Research questions
This study sought to clarify whether, and if so how the meaning of aikido wasaltered in its diffusion to the United States. Although the investigation was broadly
C. J. Dykhuizen / International Journal of Intercultural Relations 24 (2000) 741–761
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contextualized within the field of cultural diffusion, it specifically explored therelationship between the presentation and instruction of aikido, and students’understandings of it. Three interrelated research questions guided the inquiry.(1) How is the instruction and practice of aikido in the United States different thanthe instruction and practice of aikido in Japan?(2) What differences, if any, exist between what aikido means to practitioners in theUnited States and Japan?(3) In what manner are differences in instruction and practice related to differencesin the meaning which aikido has to practitioners in different cultures?
1.3. Culture as a research variable
In this research project, as in many cross-cultural studies, culture ‘‘entails somesort of ‘treatment’ or ‘condition’’’ (Berry, Poortinga, Segall & Dasen, 1992, p. 220).When culture serves as an antecedent or independent variable, individuals’ beliefsand behaviors are dependent variables (Berry, 1980). By comparing the manner inwhich aikido practitioners in Japan and the United States structured theirunderstandings of aikido-related concepts, this project compared the dependentvariables of different ‘‘treatment’’ groups.The terms America (employed to parsimoniously refer to the United States) andJapan were used in this project to refer to specific research settings, and not to entirenation-states. As pointed out by Berry et al. (1992), the contrast between largecultural populations ‘‘is rarely of more psychological interest than between thepeople of two small groups within the two areas’’ (p. 228). This investigation tookplace within the socially constructed world within which specific groups of aikidopractitioners trained.
2. Methodology
2.1. Multiple case study design and mixed-methods methodology
A multiple-case study comparative research design using mixed methods was usedto conduct this investigation. The multiple-case study design accommodated anessential feature of this study
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across case analysis. Yin (1984) stated that in themultiple case study design, the use of multiple sources of data aids in the generationof ‘‘more convincing and accurate’findings. The comparative nature of theinvestigation’s research design was facilitated by being structured within a format of constant–comparative analysis (Glasser & Strauss, 1967).Berry and his colleagues (1992) have stated that for cross-cultural comparativestudies, ‘‘an important strategy is to use more than one method of measurement’’(p. 223). Both qualitative and quantitative data gathering and analysis strategieswere used in this comparative investigation. Data were gathered using in-depth
C. J. Dykhuizen / International Journal of Intercultural Relations 24 (2000) 741–761
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