An Ethnography of Aikido

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    Honors Thesis, 1994

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    Colorado College Anthropology Department, 1994

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Honors Thesis

The Colorado College Department of Anthropology, 1994

THIS THESIS has two seemingly contradictory guiding forces. The first is the attempt to bring the Japanese martial art aikido to some sort of academic, anthropological understanding. The second is to express my own experiences and subsequent views on aikido in the most honest and accurate way possible …

If anthropology has taught me anything, it has taught me that there is usually a very rational way to understand such cultural “contradictions.” There is no reason to consider the two sorts of understandings I seek— personal and academic— to be contradictory …

read pages 1-7 [80 KB PDF file] … please contact me to read more: it’s 133 pages or about 45,000 words!

  1. Edward Wilder says:

    Mr. Hamilton,

    I am a student at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA writing a paper on the anthropology of Aikido. Your thesis has appeared in several search results, and I am interested in viewing the thesis in its entirety. I, of course, will accredit you in my bibliography and cite any concepts, paraphrases, or direct quotes from your thesis that I reference in my paper.

    Thank you for your help,
    Edward Wilder

    • Greg I. Hamilton says:

      Hi Edward. Thank you kindly for your interest in my thesis. I am happy to oblige. Aikido is a wonderfully rich subject for anthropology. I will follow up privately via email. Best of luck with your paper! Cheers, Greg

  2. Keni Lynch says:

    Dear Greg, I’m applying to the Frank Harry Guggenheim Foundation for a grant to study aggression mastery through aikido and would love to read your thesis and, of course, to quote from it, and attribute any notes taken from it to you. Wish me luck!

    • Hi Keni. Thank you for reaching out to me. I am happy to share my thesis with you and hope you will find it useful (I will email you directly). Good luck on the grant! For those interested in aikido, click Keni’s name above to see his blog.

  3. Claire Milne-Smith says:

    Dear Greg, I am a third year Japanese Studies student and have chosen as my autonomous project on my year abroad in Japan, to do an ethnographic study of Aikido. Parts of your thesis have come up in searching for academic evidence of my observations, and so I was wondering if I too could read your full thesis. If any quotations or references are made I will of course credit you fully in my paper.
    Thank you,

  4. Trotters says:

    Hi Greg,

    I, too, am currently about to embark on a Masters dissertation concerning Aikido in non-Japanese contexts and was wondering if I could have a read through your thesis?

    All the best,


  5. Teddy Rodrigue says:

    Hi Greg,
    I’m a first year anthropology master’s student studying Japanese culture. I’m specifically interested in aspects of Japanese religion in the United States and Aikido was recently suggested to me as a possible avenue for my thesis. I was wondering if I could have your permission to read your thesis and perhaps use it as one of my sources if that is the path I choose.
    Thank you so much!

    • Hi Teddy, I am happy to share my thesis with you and hope you will find it useful. I will email you the link. Aikido is a very rich topic for anthropology–enjoy delving into it! Cheers, Greg

  6. Emil Elias says:

    Hello Greg

    I am writing my master’s thesis in psychology at Roskilde University in Denmark, on aikido as a source of peace and harmony in the Middle East conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
    I would love to read your etnography on aikido, and would of course quote you directly and feature you in the references section if I were to use any concepts and/or phrases.

    My best
    Emil Elias, Denmark

    • Hello Emil, I am happy to share my thesis with you and hope you will find it useful. I will email you the link. Aikido’s approach is very adaptable to many forms of conflict: I wish you well with your ambitious topic! Cheers, Greg

  7. Emmie Le Gales says:

    Hi Greg,
    I’m a French student in anthropology and i’m doing an ethnography of the salute in aikido, therefore I guess your thesis would be really helpful to me, to understand how aikido can be approached from an anthropological point of view. Of course, I will quote your name and work for any used information given in your thesis.

    Thank you very much,


    • Hi Emmie, I am happy to share my thesis with you and hope you will find it useful. I will email you the link. Aikido is a very rich topic for ethnography–enjoy delving into it! Cheers, Greg

  8. Peter says:

    Hi Greg!
    I’m an aikidoka (for 3 years) and an applied anthropologist in Budapest, Hungary. I would like to take a short presentation about the perspective of an anthropological understanding by the body and by the movement in the aikido at the one of the most important hungarian anthropology festival named “Szimbiózis Napok” (“Symbiotical Days”) in May. I would like to reach your full work of ethnograpy of aikido, and of course, feature your name in the reference list.
    Thank you and wish the best!
    Budapest (Hungary)

    • Hi Peter, I’m happy to share my full thesis with you and will email you a link separately. I hope it will be useful and I wish you much luck in your studies and your presentation. Cheers,


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