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moon in the water Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 04-26-2010 10:46 PM
the water does not try
to reflect the moon
and the moon has no desire
to be reflected
but when the clouds clear
there is the moon in the water
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 155
Comments: 1,111
Views: 1,522,170


In General Sadateru Arikawa Sensei Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #103 New 02-23-2012 09:33 PM
Today the post is going to be technical and about aikido and about a great aikido teacher.

This morning I woke up to find - to my surprise - that my response to a monthly column on aikiweb had been removed. The column was It Had To Be Felt #4 Sadateru Arikawa: "Please, put your hand Down."

Ellis Amdur who wrote the column apparently didn't like me mentioning his inexperience. I thought it was the only explanation for the huge discrepancy in his account and in mine. His column suggested that Arikawa Sensei set out deliberately to injure people. This did not match my many years of experience training with him. I thought it was a disservice to aikido history and to the memory of one of the truly great aikido teachers. There were a couple of other points about ukemi and about zanshin that were incorrect.

So the obvious conclusion was that Ellis, who probably had a white belt at the time, did not really have the eyes or the body to know what was really going on. That is not being disrespectful to Ellis. It is a completely normal and objective point. When I had a white belt I am sure I would have been unable to recognize most of what was going on with any teacher. But I would have liked it if Ellis had made the point himself so that the column could be judged in its full context. And I also would have preferred it if he had not asked for my comment to be removed. It seems to me that searching for the truth is one of the main reasons for doing any budo.

This is my original response:

Ellis I understand that this series is just your subjective reminiscences. It was many years ago and you were certainly inexperienced in aikido and apparently you gave it up soon afterwards. But this article about Arikawa Sensei is misguided. I feel a responsibility to his memory to add some truth. By the way I saw your post linked below this thread. I thought it was a nice tribute to Arikawa Sensei. You should have used it verbatim for this article.

I will just stick to facts. I knew Arikawa Sensei and trained with him for twenty years. I was almost exclusively his uke at the hombu dojo for the last 13 years of his life. So I was at almost every single class he taught at the hombu dojo during that time. I never saw him deliberately injure anyone. Ever. His control was superb - the most precise I have ever seen or felt. So perhaps you meant danger when you said violence.

I'm going to disagree with you about actual ukemi also. I never ever moved in the direction I expected the technique to go. He hated that. He also disliked tobu ukemi - I assume that's what you mean by breakfalls - when it wasn't necessary. I probably never used tobu ukemi for shiho nage and only rarely for kote gaeshi. His technique was so fast and powerful that you usually didn't have time to take a big ukemi.

Also you are quite wrong about Arikawa Sensei and zanshin. Again I'm going to have to assume that you were too inexperienced to recognize it. He never - ever - left any opening that was not deliberate before or during or after a technique. Sometimes I attacked him from behind or while he was speaking because I thought I saw a chance. But he had always left the opening on purpose.

It is true that some people were frightened of him. I remember one day getting back to Tokyo from a trip one Wednesday and arriving at the hombu with only moments to spare before the 5.30 training. When I didn't get there at the usual time one of the uchi deshi thought he was going to have to take the ukemi. When he saw me his face lit up and he hugged me with relief. He's a 7 dan shihan now. I don't think he was scared of violence. I think he was scared of not being able to take the ukemi and of Arikawa Sensei getting angry. Arikawa Sensei's standards were very high. He expected you to be able to handle the ukemi or not to waste his time. If a deshi had bruises from forearm smashes he would learn how to block forearm smashes fast. And if Arikawa Sensei could bury his fist in your throat as you said in that earlier post there is something wrong with your ukemi.

As a person he was kind and thoughtful. He was very knowledgeable about all martial arts and I sometimes met him at kobudo and other budo demonstrations. Like at Meiji Shrine.


So as I said in that thread make your own judgement about the column. Make your own judgement about my response too. And make your own judgement about whether removing the response was appropriate. It doesn't seem much like aikido to me.

I've talked about Arikawa Sensei a few times before. He was a great influence on me. That's another point - if he had been a man of violence I would have walked away after the first time and never gone back. Here is one of those posts, Aikido and Magic.
Views: 4838 | Comments: 9

RSS Feed 9 Responses to "Sadateru Arikawa Sensei"
#9 03-09-2012 02:11 AM
niall Says:
Thanks for your kind words Billy. Well I don't worry too much what people who don't do aikido write about it. I didn't appreciate the comments about Arikawa Sensei and violence but the whole thing was a little superficial. And as for deleting my comment - what did Jack Nicholson say about not being able to handle the truth? I'll write about Arikawa Sensei in more detail one of these days. Cheers, Niall
#8 03-07-2012 11:20 PM
Makochan Says:
Niall; your reply to Ellis was polite, respectful and honest, shame that it was removed. Not enough is known about Arikawa Sensei, to share your knowledge, to know more about him "first hand" is a real privilege. As your kohai and fellow practitioner for years and as witness to your unwavering dedication to Aikido, Asoh Sensei and Arikawa Sensei, I have always respected your dedication and particularly your honesty and truth, which has cost you dearly. You are to be respected. Your friend Billy
#7 02-26-2012 07:47 AM
niall Says:
Francis you always see the big picture. Thank you.
#6 02-26-2012 01:47 AM
aikishihan Says:
Hi again Niall, Often in court, an objection is sustained over remarks made. Nonetheless, the jury and others cannot quickly purge the experience or its significance from their consciousness. Your comments, though removed, have served their purpose, i believe, in allowing good people to question, and to find real answers in your other submissions. Job well done!
#5 02-25-2012 06:37 PM
niall Says:
(continued) One of the rules was that people only post their direct experience. But things like he would deliberately tear your joint apart are not Ellis's direct experience. He had one standard for himself and a different standard for comments. At the moment the column is there without my reply and that is a pity.
#4 02-25-2012 06:37 PM
niall Says:
Thanks Francis for your wise and measured comment. Perhaps I am still a bit close to this. I had a couple of problems with those rules. A column thread is not Ellis's home page or his blog. Ellis set arbitrary rules but I didn't agree to abide by them.
#3 02-25-2012 02:27 PM
aikishihan Says:
Hi Niall, Rules are arbitrary, inflexible, and inherently discriminatory in both intent and application. Boundaries, on the other hand, are individually crafted, thus being capable of flexibility, open to negotiation, and welcoming of mutually beneficial compromise. Ellis excercised his option to install rules, which I believe needs to be honored, if not necessarily acceptable. Thank you for setting the record straight
#2 02-25-2012 07:21 AM
niall Says:
Thanks for the comment Graham. Yes what's new. I shouldn't be surprised.
#1 02-24-2012 05:02 AM
Hi Niall. What's new really. It's a no brainer that your knowledge on Arikawa Sensei is far more and far more real than most others. The badge of honour of 'trained with' and then the views on such a person seem to be more important than a persons own views or what they personally do. Maybe it's a need to look intelligent followed by a fear of looking stupid. We all have it to varying degrees. Alas, it cuts across wisdom and integrity. G.

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