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The Blind Men And The Elephant

by Diane Bauerle

Aiki News #88 (Summer 1991)

One advantage to being here in Japan and working for Aiki News is that it gives me the opportunity to meet and chat with so many visiting aikidoists from so many different places. I gain not only new friends, but also new perspectives from people whose experience levels, training backgrounds, style and approach are quite different from my own. And how I learn!

Canadian Bill Collins was in Tokyo for the All-Japan Demonstration, and he took time out from his practice schedule to fill in some of the details on Canadian aikido history for the next edition of The Aiki News Encyclopedia of Aikido. He also gave me this fable/analogy:

Six blind men were taken to the zoo to see an elephant. Although they couldn’t see the elephant, they were introduced to it, and each one touched it at a different place. One thought it was a wall; another thought it was a tree; one thought it was a worm; the next thought it was a snake; one thought it was a fan, and the last one thought it was a spear. They all said to themselves, “Well obviously, this is what this elephant looks like.” And they were all partly right, but every one of them was wrong. Aikido is like that. When you start learning aikido you grab it in a certain way, you say to yourself, “Oh that’s right,” and you start practicing in that way. If you don’t keep an open mind, that’s what aikido is, only part of the elephant. My conclusion is that it takes a long time to put the elephant together. You have to keep practicing in different ways, accepting new levels of understanding, in order to put the aikido elephant together.

The Future Of Aiki News

Stan paints a fairly grim picture of the situation, and sadly, I must agree. We simply can’t afford to squander our resources on something that actually loses money. There is, however, something YOU can do to help. If a mere one hundred of the teachers, dojo or club leaders who are reading this would take each issue of Aiki News into the dojo, wave it around, tell the students how useful it is, and take orders for ten copies (or better yet, submit an advance bulk order for 10 or 20 copies), we’d be talking a whole different ballgame. We could reinstate our series, increase the number of photographs, and catch up with the many fascinating interviews we have been forced to postpone due to lack of funds to pay for translations. Perhaps you or someone you know has aikido-related merchandise for sale—consider taking out an ad! Encourage your friends to subscribe!


The Aiki News editors are finally hooked into the international computer communications network and have opened our CompuServe accounts. Readers who have access to CompuServe are welcome to get in touch with us any time through CompuServe Mail. Send us “Letters to the Editor”; tell us what we are doing right with Aiki News; tell us what you don’t like; you can even place an order (be sure to request verification of receipt). Stan’s User ID is 70272,1542; mine is 70303,160. We look forward to hearing from you!