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
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 ‘‘
’’ 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
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