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MM
07-31-2007, 06:49 AM
Very interesting. You can read it here:
http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=3600

I have some questions.

First, I tried finding some definition for "neo-Shinto" but failed miserably. We all know that O Moto Kyo was neo-Shinto. But what defines neo-Shinto versus Shinto?

Hmm ... so, if one were to say that Daito ryu is the underpinnings of Ueshiba Morihei's aikido while the spiritual (O Moto Kyo, etc) is the modifier *and* Ueshiba has said that one didn't have to follow his spiritual route, can one achieve Ueshiba Morihei's aikido through DR underpinnings and Christianity? DR and any religion?

Could we say that there are two lines of aikido now? Those following Ueshiba Kisshomaru's vision of aikido and those following Ueshiba Morihei's vision of aikido? This doesn't mean, btw, that one need to be in the "Aikikai" to follow Kisshomaru's vision. Any school that follows a mainly, technique driven approach over solo training would also follow Kisshomaru's vision of aikido. If Ueshiba did countless hours of solo training, throughout his life, then somewhere along the way, those solo training exercises were dropped from the curriculum. How much emphasis is placed upon the solo training that Ueshiba did (which was learned from Takeda and Daito ryu) in any Aikido school?

Was the innovations that Ueshiba created unique? In other words, were the changes he made to DR's core training methods something only he did? According to Sagawa, no. Sagawa has been quoted as saying he modified his training regimen. He is quoted as saying that he has been innovating for at least 20 years. IF there is as many visions of DR as there are heads of schools, then can we not still consider Ueshiba Morihei's version of aikido, Ueshiba-ha Daito Ryu? Even with the spiritual modifications, Ueshiba still innovated as Kodo and Sagawa did. I guess this all breaks down into just how much influence and/or change the spiritual made towards DR methodology and/or essence. Was it really that much?

Are the core training methods of DR still needed to "do" aikido? Or can the modified training methods of Ueshiba Morihei be used?

"Can we start with a two-person exercise that "refines" power, without developing such power first?" Even if one has developed the power first, where are all the solo exercises Ueshiba Morihei did being taught? Where are the breathing exercises taught? Where are the empty hand and weapons solo exercises being taught?

As always, Amdur sensei, your writings are a joy to read but they always leave me with more questions than I started. :)

Thank you,
Mark

Mike Sigman
07-31-2007, 08:53 AM
Hmm ... so, if one were to say that Daito ryu is the underpinnings of Ueshiba Morihei's aikido while the spiritual (O Moto Kyo, etc) is the modifier *and* Ueshiba has said that one didn't have to follow his spiritual route, can one achieve Ueshiba Morihei's aikido through DR underpinnings and Christianity? DR and any religion? Ellis' article raised some good questions. I think he pointed out that the discussions of ki and kokyu in Aikido have been fairly widespread recently (I even heard some more discussions about the latest kokyu classes with Ushiro Sensei at Summer Camp). However, as I see it the ki and kokyu being in Asian arts is a given. It's in all the available literature of any given Asian martial art. In fact, just the discussions about "Ki" or "Qi" should have been enough to give it away, except most western people didn't realize that the ki/qi stuff was anything other than some quasi-religious nonsense which they promptly ignored.

What's next in line of the generalities to be understood is that a "Way" or "Tao" or "Do" also innately contains the "self-cultivation" of ki/qi. I.e., there is no "spiritual" or "health" side to Aikido that does not include the traditional self-cultivation of ki/qi skills, whether you're doing Aikido, Buddhism, Shintoism (which borrowed heavily from Buddhism), Confucianism, Taiji, karate, whatever. So when someone chooses between a fierce martial effectiveness or a more circular, relaxed "Do", they can alter the amount of necessary training they have to do, but the training must still be there and the ki/kokyu skills are still a keystone part of the practice. If you understand that part about the ki/qi basics always being there, then this next question resolves itself: Could we say that there are two lines of aikido now? Those following Ueshiba Kisshomaru's vision of aikido and those following Ueshiba Morihei's vision of aikido?

The next question: Was the innovations that Ueshiba created unique? In other words, were the changes he made to DR's core training methods something only he did? According to Sagawa, no. Sagawa has been quoted as saying he modified his training regimen. He is quoted as saying that he has been innovating for at least 20 years. IF there is as many visions of DR as there are heads of schools, then can we not still consider Ueshiba Morihei's version of aikido, Ueshiba-ha Daito Ryu? Even with the spiritual modifications, Ueshiba still innovated as Kodo and Sagawa did. I guess this all breaks down into just how much influence and/or change the spiritual made towards DR methodology and/or essence. Was it really that much? Personally, I don't see any core differences between Aikido and a few other of the "higher-level" martial arts throughout Asia. The idea of blending your ki/jin/kokyu with an incoming attack and leading them to nothingness is a well-known ideal. One thing I'd guess, based on what I've seen and read, etc., is that Ueshiba used a somewhat different training mode, a softer approach, for Aikido than DR did (even though the core principles are the same). There's a more sophisticated range of possibilities with a softer approach, but it can also turn out to be a kidding of yourself if you're not careful."Can we start with a two-person exercise that "refines" power, without developing such power first?" It's possible to be led into correct power, but it's tricky. The best way, IMO, is to learn the power first and then the exercises. But each to his own, I allus sez.

Best.

Mike

Ellis Amdur
07-31-2007, 09:35 AM
Mark -
1. Neo = "new" In the 19th century, Neo-Shinto groups like Tenrikyo or Omoto-kyo emerged, independent religious organizations/cults, usually headed by a charasmatic founder who had an individual revelation. Their doctrines were at variance with orthodoxy (State, Imperial and folk Shinto) and might have included material from other traditions or religions.
2. I think Ueshiba was clear that one didn't have to be an Omotokyo follower to do his aikido - he had his own distance from Omotokyo, unlike Inoue Noriaki, for example. However, I do think that Ueshiba believed that to do HIS aikido, one had to live ANALOGOUS to his "spiritual" way. (Note in Tohei K.'s interview, Ueshiba's distress at observing Tohei, still hung-over after a debauch, doing "ki tricks.") As I wrote, however, in "Aikido is Three Peaches," I think it is clear that he regarded most people's work in aikido as merely contributing energy to the greater spiritual work of the avatars. (But one could BE an avatar. Read the revised version of the essay when the book comes out:)
3. I think it's simplistic to talk about two ways of aikido - there are, perhaps, a lot. My interest, however, is Ueshiba Morihei's aikido as "opposed to" any and all the other modern versions that don't, apparently, give access to the power he had. For example, Tomiki "had" it - whether, btw, he did solo training like Ueshiba did or not. Shioda apparently "had" it, etc. Whether to the same degree or greater or lesser - - ????? I don't KNOW that solo practice, a la Ueshiba is/was the only avenue to such power as he had. Evidently, even those few of his students who "had" it didn't pass it on to many or any. Similarly, were I exploring Daito-ryu, I would only be interested in the Daito-ryu that gave the very few individuals access to intrinsic power, not the vast majority who are just doing human origami joint-locks by the numbers.
4. Personally, I think this idea of Ueshiba-ha Daito-ryu is kind of silly, much like claiming Christianity is just Judaism. (Using that as a metaphor, Takumakai is almost equivalent to the "Judaizing" churches that maintained a clear connection through ethnicity and ritual to Judaism, churches that were rejected by the more universalist creed that became Catholicism. Thus, Hisa could accept an eighth dan from Ueshiba, and call what he did "aikido." A practitioner of both has informed me that Takumakai is very similar in it's technical parameters to Yoshinkai, not surprising in that both were born in the 1930's). When you go beyond or change to a certain degree, it warrants a name change.
4. Sagawa, Horikawa and Ueshiba EACH made their own unique changes to Daito-ryu. The former two obviously did not see their changes as so significant as to warrant a name change.
Best

MM
07-31-2007, 11:40 AM
Mark -
2. I think Ueshiba was clear that one didn't have to be an Omotokyo follower to do his aikido - he had his own distance from Omotokyo, unlike Inoue Noriaki, for example. However, I do think that Ueshiba believed that to do HIS aikido, one had to live ANALOGOUS to his "spiritual" way. (Note in Tohei K.'s interview, Ueshiba's distress at observing Tohei, still hung-over after a debauch, doing "ki tricks.") As I wrote, however, in "Aikido is Three Peaches," I think it is clear that he regarded most people's work in aikido as merely contributing energy to the greater spiritual work of the avatars. (But one could BE an avatar. Read the revised version of the essay when the book comes out:)
3. I think it's simplistic to talk about two ways of aikido - there are, perhaps, a lot. My interest, however, is Ueshiba Morihei's aikido as "opposed to" any and all the other modern versions that don't, apparently, give access to the power he had. For example, Tomiki "had" it - whether, btw, he did solo training like Ueshiba did or not. Shioda apparently "had" it, etc. Whether to the same degree or greater or lesser - - ????? I don't KNOW that solo practice, a la Ueshiba is/was the only avenue to such power as he had. Evidently, even those few of his students who "had" it didn't pass it on to many or any. Similarly, were I exploring Daito-ryu, I would only be interested in the Daito-ryu that gave the very few individuals access to intrinsic power, not the vast majority who are just doing human origami joint-locks by the numbers.
Best

Thanks for the reply!

2. Soooo, any time frame on when the new book is due out? Is it completed? Still in progress?

3. Speaking of Tomiki ... any ideas on where he got "it"? From Mifune, possibly? And of Ueshiba Morihei's aikido, just how does one "do" his aikido?

Thanks,
Mark

Ellis Amdur
07-31-2007, 12:25 PM
1. I am targeting winter as release date.
2. Tomiki strove to unite judo and aikido - -= therefore . . . . . . .
3. I'm told, by the way, that during his years as a prisoner of war in Russia, he kept his own sanity, kept the spirits of his fellow prisoners strong, by developing his solo tai-sabaki exercises. The reason I said/believe Tomiki "got it" are two-fold. The story I cited elsewhere from Hal Sharp re Tomiki throwing the ripsnorting foreign kenkusei of the Kodokan, one-by-one with one hand - after saying he was going to show them aikido. And an interview I can no longer find, where Oba, Tomiki's closest disciple came back after seeing a demo of Daito-ryu which had, I believe the waza where a number of people pin the teacher, and with a single move, he throws them off. And Tomiki said, "Oh, I can do that," got a bunch of people together and did. But apparently Tomiki didn't like to present this stuff and I do not believe that he taught it - I don't think, actually, that he believed it was germane to what he was trying to develop any more than Kano Jigoro did for judo.
4. Oh, and as for your last question - "And of Ueshiba Morihei's aikido, just how does one "do" his aikido?" - - - read your own signature quotation
Best

MM
07-31-2007, 12:54 PM
1. I am targeting winter as release date.
2. Tomiki strove to unite judo and aikido - -= therefore . . . . . . .
3. I'm told, by the way, that during his years as a prisoner of war in Russia, he kept his own sanity, kept the spirits of his fellow prisoners strong, by developing his solo tai-sabaki exercises. The reason I said/believe Tomiki "got it" are two-fold. The story I cited elsewhere from Hal Sharp re Tomiki throwing the ripsnorting foreign kenkusei of the Kodokan, one-by-one with one hand - after saying he was going to show them aikido. And an interview I can no longer find, where Oba, Tomiki's closest disciple came back after seeing a demo of Daito-ryu which had, I believe the waza where a number of people pin the teacher, and with a single move, he throws them off. And Tomiki said, "Oh, I can do that," got a bunch of people together and did. But apparently Tomiki didn't like to present this stuff and I do not believe that he taught it - I don't think, actually, that he believed it was germane to what he was trying to develop any more than Kano Jigoro did for judo.
4. Oh, and as for your last question - "And of Ueshiba Morihei's aikido, just how does one "do" his aikido?" - - - read your own signature quotation
Best

1. Cool!

2-3. Thanks for the info!

4. ROTFL!!! I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything when I read that. Point taken. I am attempting to do that which my sig quotes. :)

Thanks,
Mark

gdandscompserv
07-31-2007, 12:57 PM
Great article Ellis, thank you.

I think the ways to the top of that mountain are unique to each individual. The "great ones" seem to have acheived their power in very individualized ways. We can learn the basics from good teachers but we must follow our own path to be great.

Ron Tisdale
07-31-2007, 01:10 PM
And of Ueshiba Morihei's aikido, just how does one "do" his aikido?

Hi Mark...I'm not sure one *does* do "his" aikido. You gotta put in the work, and do **your own**.

Best,
Ron

Erik Johnstone
07-31-2007, 01:11 PM
Another excellent article; looking forward to "Hidden in Plain Siight".

Ron Tisdale
07-31-2007, 01:11 PM
And Ellis, wonderful article. Glad I got a preview! ;)

Best,
Ron

MM
07-31-2007, 03:38 PM
Hi Mark...I'm not sure one *does* do "his" aikido. You gotta put in the work, and do **your own**.

Best,
Ron

Hi Ron,

I was thinking more along the lines of doing aikido that resembled Ueshiba Morihei's as compared to the other aikido's. Hmm ... in other words, how does one know that one is following along Ueshiba Morihei's aikido rather than Ueshiba Kisshomaru's aikido?

Hope to see you soon,
Mark

DH
07-31-2007, 05:59 PM
I always enjoy Ellis's arguments. They are engaging and compelling. In this one I find some interesting points in the first few paragraphs.
1. A secondary part of this discussion has been provenance: whether Ueshiba a) developed and maintained his skills using Daito-ryu methods exactly as he learned them or b) took the training methods he learned within Daito-ryu and reworked them into another set of practices.
2. A subsidiary question is whether such a hypothetical reworking was merely “old wine in new bottles,” or a new vintage, created through other training methods that Ueshiba subsequently learned or developed on his own.
3 Although some are quite adamant in their assertions regarding these questions, little can be proven, because even if the adamant ones possess the truth, they aren’t telling. Given that Daito-ryu is still mostly taught in closed dojo, and furthermore, that many teachers keep the higher-level training away from all but a few of their own students, Daito-ryu’s training methods are not accessible to most people, including, apparently, most Daito-ryu practitioners.
All interesting points and they set-up these observations of Ellis's
4. Few are qualified to make any assertions of value regarding differences between the technical criteria and abilities of different lines of Daito-ryu and aikido, much less evaluate specific individuals.
Using Ellis's own reasoning:
Since there is no one qualfied as personal students of both Takeda's Daito ryu And Ueshiba's -specific- execution of HIS art. (they're all dead) and no one else who is a shihan of BOTH of these arts is talking- then his or anyone else's opinion of what Ueshiba did, or didn't change is of little value-if at all.,
So, Ellis sort of disqualifes himself, and all but an extremely....extremely small number of experts (both personal students of Takeda and Ueshiba) who are all dead. Who even when alive -never- talked about it in the first place!
It sort of makes the rest of the entire article and any discussion of it- moot.

Walker
07-31-2007, 06:21 PM
Hi Mark...I'm not sure one *does* do "his" aikido. You gotta put in the work, and do **your own**.

Best,
Ron
Maybe a little tangential to Ellis' article, but this question has been vexing me of late. Why is this so? Why only in aikido are you expected to come up with your own martial art right off the bat?

As I have started work in another martial art I have become more and more aware that you change to fit the art first, then you explore the art and only then do you come up with your art. (see Teaching Shu Ha Ri (http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=222)) Concurrently, I continue in aikido training with just this method. And yet this does not conform to my previous experience in aikido or the reported experience of others. The uncharitable conclusion is that there were kata and a training method to be had and only few thought they were important or that at some point they were consciously abandoned. But, if so, why?

As you can see from my choices in training I feel that this "aikido of one" approach, so to speak, is the wrong approach.

DH
07-31-2007, 06:37 PM
I wanted to edit this in but ran out of time
So, Ellis sort of disqualifes himself, and all but an extremely....extremely small number of experts (both personal students of Takeda and Ueshiba) who are all dead. Who even when alive -never- EDIT...never really talked about much in the first place. Some of what they did say is in print!
It sort of makes the rest of the entire article and any discussion of it- moot. But once again-he captures you, and you read,

Mike Sigman
07-31-2007, 06:47 PM
I wanted to edit this in but ran out of time
So, Ellis sort of disqualifes himself, and all but an extremely....extremely small number of experts (both personal students of Takeda and Ueshiba) who are all dead. Who even when alive -never- EDIT...never really talked about much in the first place. Some of what they did say is in print!
It sort of makes the rest of the entire article and any discussion of it- moot.Moot it is, then. So let's not have any more assertions about Takeda that can't be substantiated. If Tomiki showed up at Ueshiba's dojo already with some ki skills, then those skills were available from a number of sources in Ueshiba's Japan of those days. Today's Aikido is obviously not today's Daito Ryu, though, so the point is that we're discussing different arts.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Ellis Amdur
07-31-2007, 06:52 PM
Well, Dan, thank you for the perfect set up for my next essay, already written and coming soon:) And BTW - in regards to the part you cut (it still showed up on the email notice) - Exactly right! That's what I said - which, realizing that is perhaps why you cut it ;) -
Note my phrase in bold - "In other words, you can't do aikido unless you can do Daito-ryu." I love it when you argue with me when you're in agreement with me.
Best

DH
07-31-2007, 07:06 PM
Moot it is, then. So let's not have any more assertions about Takeda that can't be substantiated. If Tomiki showed up at Ueshiba's dojo already with some ki skills, then those skills were available from a number of sources in Ueshiba's Japan of those days. Today's Aikido is obviously not today's Daito Ryu, though, so the point is that we're discussing different arts.
Regards,
Mike Sigman
So following your logic with Tomiki showing up.

Since Ueshiba had none and was literally crying when he met Takeda, in front of witnesses (no jin /kokyu and no Ki skills)
And showed up years later- with intent to open a dojo, he decided -on that day- after the culmination of his supposed "journey of the arts" to open the doors and teach..............? Daito Ryu.
His skills jumped again at Ayabe after Takeda joined him and his supposed secondary teacher was so impressed with what he saw takeda do with Aiki/ jin/ kokyu that he suggested he change the name of the art.
I don't necessarily care that he got it from DR or anywhere else...just that all logic says, he did.
Neither you, nor anyone else can "substantiate" anything other than that. So lets not have anymore of -your- assertions that can't be substantiated with affidavits and facts. ;)

Mike Sigman
07-31-2007, 07:26 PM
Neither you, nor anyone else can "substantiate" anything other than that. I'm not about to repeat myself that your asking others to prove the negative is a fatuous debate tactic. Let's leave it at "moot", shall we? For some reason, Ueshiba's ki skills seem to be much more "relaxed" than anything I get the impression that DR does. That's enough of a question in itself (although I'm not going to be silly and tell you that unless you can disprove it, I'm correct).

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Fred Little
07-31-2007, 07:34 PM
His skills jumped again at Ayabe after Takeda joined him and his supposed secondary teacher was so impressed with what he saw takeda do with Aiki/ jin/ kokyu that he suggested he change the name of the art.

B: Then you did not learn aikido from the beginning. When did aikido come into being?

O'Sensei: As I said before, I went to many places seeking the true budo..Then, when I was about 30 years old, I settled in Hokkaido. On one occasion, while staying at Hisada Inn in Engaru, Kitami Province, I met a certain Sokaku Takeda Sensei of the Aizu clan. He taught Daito-ryu jujutsu. During the 30 days in which I learned from him I felt something like an inspiration. Later, I invited this teacher to my home and together with 15 or 16 of my employees became a student seeking the essence of budo.

B: Did you discover aikido while you were learning Daito-ryu under Sokaku Takeda?

O'Sensei: No. It would be more accurate to say that Takeda Sensei opened my eyes to budo.

A: Then were there any special circumstances surrounding your discovery of aikido?

O'Sensei: Yes. It happened this way. My father became critically ill in 1919. I requested leave from Takeda Sensei and set out for my home. On my way home, I was told that if one went to Ayabe near Kyoto and dedicated a prayer then any disease would be cured. So, I went there and met Onisaburo Deguchi. Afterwards, when I arrived home, I learned that my father was already dead. Even though I had met Deguchi Sensei only once, I decided to move to Ayabe with my family and I ended up staying until the latter part of the Taisho period (around 1925). Yes... at that time I was about 40 years old.

One day I was drying myself off by the well. Suddenly, a cascade of blinding golden flashes came down from the sky enveloping my body. Then immediately my body became larger and larger, attaining the size of the entire Universe. While overwhelmed by this experience I suddenly realized that one should not think of trying to win. The form of budo must be love. One should live in love. This is aikido and this is the old form of the posture in kenjutsu. After this realization I was overjoyed and could not hold back the tears.

That sounds like a clear statement that while he had learned "true budo" from Takeda, the insight that led to "aikido" as a distinct art was a direct result of his connection with Deguchi and Oomoto.

And he makes the point in a way that diminishes neither Deguchi nor Takeda, nor their respective teachings.

Best,

FL

DH
07-31-2007, 07:47 PM
I'm not about to repeat myself that your asking others to prove the negative is a fatuous debate tactic. Let's leave it at "moot", shall we? For some reason, Ueshiba's ki skills seem to be much more "relaxed" than anything I get the impression that DR does. That's enough of a question in itself (although I'm not going to be silly and tell you that unless you can disprove it, I'm correct).

Regards,

Mike Sigman
There is a straight road. You keep trying to take a left and prove the negative.
Actually Ueshiba's training history and inexorable connection to DR are clear enough. You're just another newer iteration of the same old song. That he "invented" or got his ki skills elsewhere.
And you're not able to discuss jin and Ki skills in DR. Your "impressions" of DR are virtually meaningless for several reasons.
But we can leave the point moot and you can just discuss Aikido.
Have fun.

Ellis Amdur
07-31-2007, 07:49 PM
Oh please, Mother of God (and I'm Jewish) - not again!!! AGGHHGHGHGHGH Let this bundle of quotes put a stake through the heart of the question that will never die even though, most of the time, it was never asked!

Iwata Ikusai of aikido: "Ueshiba Sensei respected Takeda Sensei and studied under him. Takeda Sensei was very good technically. Ueshiba Sensei did his best to serve his master, Takeda Sensei, during his occasional visits to the dojo."

Tada Hiroshi (postwar aikido, please note) "Ueshiba Sensei always spoke very respectfully of his own teachers, including Sokaku Takeda Sensei and the Reverend Onisaburo Deguchi. The thing I remember most clearly from his talks about Daito-ryu is that he said he thought that it had a very excellent training method."

Kondo Katsuyuki (Daito-ryu, talking of aikido sensei's): '"Also although it was only indirectly, I have heard about Sokaku Takeda Sensei many times from Kenji Tomiki Sensei and Minoru Mochizuki Sensei." --Later-- "This is just my personal opinion, but Morihei Sensei studied Daito-ryu for over twenty years and served Sokaku Takeda Sensei as his master. Sokaku Sensei looked after Morihei Sensei as his student in various ways. There are many stories about this aspect of their relationship, illustrating the courtesy of a student towards his master and the affection of a master towards his student. This relationship continued for a period of time, and at a certain point Morihei Sensei began to seek his own path and eventually created modern aikido. Morihei Sensei was a great person, and I believe that anybody who can be called great always exceeds his master. I do not know that Morihei Ueshiba Sensei exceeded his master, Sokaku Takeda Sensei, in terms of technical ability, but I think that realistically speaking, Morihei Sensei far exceeded Sokaku Sensei in terms of number of students and also the extent of his reputation."

Tomiki Kenji (aikido) - "It may be only a digression but there is a certain person who studied longer under Takeda Sensei than Ueshiba Sensei. He is Mr. Kodo Horikawa, now 80 and very old." (interpretation - not only did aikido come from DR, but it still exists, and didn't end with Ueshiba.)

Saito Morihiro (post-war aikido): "O-Sensei told me often about the period when he trained in Daito-ryu. When he and I would work in the fields, were drinking tea or took meals together or sometimes when I would massage his shoulders or tap his legs he would tell me various stories." QUESTION Did he also talk about techniques?
"No, not much. Other subjects came out naturally. O-Sensei had a deep relationship with Daito-ryu."

Shirata Rinjiro (aikido), speaking of how beginners were taught at the Kobukan: "They learned techniques starting with the “ikkajo” of Daito-ryu Jujutsu from the uchideshi."

Kunigoshi Takako (aikido): " I received a makimono scroll entitled Daito Ryu. It seems to me that the name Aikido came into use just a little before the war started. It was almost as if the name Aikido was thought to actually indicate the Daito Ryu. Later whenever I was asked about it I always answered that it was Takeda Sokaku Sensei’s tradition (ryu)."

OK? OK? Yeah, it's a public forum, but I'm so tired of getting side-tracked into a discussion of something I've not written, that was only a subject of debate among NON-JAPANESE SPEAKERS ANYWAY BEFORE PRANIN (B.P) and which get's so stale and old and hackneyed, and frankly, the only place the "DENIAL OF DAITO-RYU" ever was a problem was Doshu and his court trying to publicize the art, and non-Japanese who, until Stanley Pranin, had no historical reference, which, when you think of it was only about a decade and a half after aikido hit the states, for Gawd's sake. It's like non-Japanese saying, "What, Shotokan karate started in Okinawa? I didn't know that! There was a cover up!!!!!"
The subject of what I'VE been writing and curious about is exemplified by the following quote of Okamoto Seigo.
Kodo Horikawa Sensei used to say: “Once you reach a level such as yours, you become able to execute your own techniques based on what I have taught you. I didn’t learn all the techniques I do now from Sokaku Takeda Sensei.” Once you master a certain level and grasp the key points you become able to execute techniques of your own. Then these techniques of yours gradually sprout branches."
AND at a certain point, when one deviates enough from the source, one is required to rename it. (Ueshiba - aikido, Inoue - Shinei Taido, Mochizuchi - Yoseikan budo). Christ - Tomiki got in trouble with the aikido folks because he DIDN'T RENAME IT, given it was seen as "different enough"

Jaysuz

DH
07-31-2007, 07:52 PM
That sounds like a clear statement that while he had learned "true budo" from Takeda, the insight that led to "aikido" as a distinct art was a direct result of his connection with Deguchi and Oomoto.

And he makes the point in a way that diminishes neither Deguchi nor Takeda, nor their respective teachings.

Best,

FL
Hi Fred
You might consider it was only after Takeda's prolonged visit at Ayabe that Ueshiba learned "Aiki" because he was ready. And it was after this earned a teaching certificate. It was Deguchi who was so impressed by ...Takeda...that he suggested -Takeda- change the name of the art to Daito ryu Aikijujutsu.

Cady Goldfield
07-31-2007, 07:59 PM
Oh please, Mother of God (and I'm Jewish) - not again!!! AGGHHGHGHGHGH Let this bundle of quotes put a stake through the heart of the question that will never die even though, most of the time, it was never asked!


A valient effort, boychik, but vie'a toit'n beinkes!*
;)








*means, basically, "it will work about as well as giving big, bulging eyes to a dead man (that he might see better)."

DH
07-31-2007, 08:01 PM
The subject of what I'VE been writing and curious about is exemplified by the following quote of Okamoto Seigo.
Kodo Horikawa Sensei used to say: "Once you reach a level such as yours, you become able to execute your own techniques based on what I have taught you. I didn't learn all the techniques I do now from Sokaku Takeda Sensei." Once you master a certain level and grasp the key points you become able to execute techniques of your own. Then these techniques of yours gradually sprout branches."
AND at a certain point, when one deviates enough from the source, one is required to rename it. (Ueshiba - aikido, Inoue - Shinei Taido, Mochizuchi - Yoseikan budo). Christ - Tomiki got in trouble with the aikido folks because he DIDN'T RENAME IT, given it was seen as "different enough"

Jaysuz
A Jewish rant!! Oy!
Excellent and I agree. And I agree that he went on and made his own system. He did it with DR's aiki as he continued to train his body. Never said otherwse big fella.;)
But, enough already,

Mike Sigman
07-31-2007, 08:13 PM
Actually Ueshiba's training history and inexorable connection to DR are clear enough. You're just another newer iteration of the same old song. That he "invented" or got his ki skills elsewhere.
And you're not able to discuss jin and Ki skills in DR. Your "impressions" of DR are virtually meaningless for several reasons. I don't have any "impressions" of DR nor do I care what kind of ki and jin skills DR has. ALL the Asian arts have those skills, Dan, at the upper levels. Your experience has left you with the settled impression that if Ueshiba had ki and jin skills he must have gotten them from DR. He probably got SOME skills from DR, but unless you have apodictic proof that Ueshiba got ALL his skills from DR then you're simply making a baseless assertion and a guess at best. There are a number of potential sources where Ueshiba could have gotten his preferred approach to ki and jin and no one can say for certain, one way or the other. Your constant reiteration that Ueshiba got what he knew of ki and jin from DR is simply unsupported; hence I tend to dismiss it as a possible, but not a proven fact.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Cady Goldfield
07-31-2007, 08:20 PM
Mike,
There is nothing -- nada, zip -- in the historic record, neither written nor oral, that indicates that Ueshiba trained in internal arts with anyone but Takeda, as part of his DR training. But, there are lots of quotes from his peers and students that strengthen his connection to Takeda, whose internal skills were of a high level. Sagawa and Horikawa didn't get their skills from tengu, you know.

Tangentially...You might enjoy, and find helpful, Stan Pranin's book on Daito-ryu, which shares some of the anecdotes of Takeda's life, the degree of his skills, background, and his relationship with Ueshiba.

Fred Little
07-31-2007, 08:20 PM
Hi Fred
You might consider it was only after Takeda's prolonged visit at Ayabe that Ueshiba learned "Aiki" because he was ready And it was only after this earned a teaching certificate. And it was Deguchi who was so impressed by ...Takeda...that he suggested -Takeda- change the name of the art to Daito ryu Aikijujutsu.

Sequence is not causality.

You have one and a half facts onto which you have loaded a truckload of interpretation.

Fact one: Takeda awarded the Kyoju Dairi to Ueshiba in Ayabe.

Claim analysis: What Ueshiba had learned in Hokkaido and precisely how it was different from what he learned in Ayabe is pure supposition on your part. Similarly, Ueshiba might have "earned" a teaching certificate because he had a steady stream of students in Ayabe and Takeda wanted to collect a price for each one. Or maybe Ueshiba just left Hokkaido hastily and this was the first appropriate occasion. Or maybe two jealous mentors were jousting over their prize student. One explanation is as plausible as the other, and the truth is probably a bit of all of them.

Half-fact: Takeda issued the Kyoju Dairi in DRAJJ and changed the name of his own art from DRJJ to DRAJJ, it is asserted that he did so at the suggestion of Deguchi.

Claim analysis: Deguchi and Takeda are also said to have disliked one another. Was the suggested change to DRAJJ a measure of how "impressed" Deguchi was by Takeda, or were two jealous mentors jousting over their prize student? And.....was there a business advantage for Takeda in the name change? Again, one explanation is as plausible as another.

Why leap to conclusions?

Best,

FL

Mike Sigman
07-31-2007, 08:50 PM
Mike,
There is nothing -- nada, zip -- in the historic record, neither written nor oral, that indicates that Ueshiba trained in internal arts with anyone but Takeda, as part of his DR training. I understand that, Cady, but there's a lot of things "not in the historic record" about Ueshiba that we don't know. We don't even know, despite scores of Uchideshi, exactly how Ueshiba trained, for instance. Some guy may come to Dan's house for a weekend and suddenly get a glimpse of ki and kokyu skills and there will be "nothing in the historic record" to reflect it, right? We do know that Ueshiba visited many places and watched training at many dojos and that probably some Chinese members of Omoto Kyo might have had some Chinese-influenced training methods, and so on. The bald assertion that it had to be Takeda simply doesn't stand. Another assertion/assumption that doesn't stand is the idea that there was no Chinese influence in Japan. BS... there were actual exchange students in Japanese and Chinese schools, there were visiting martial artists, etc., but there wasn't particularly note made of this in the historical records about Ueshiba, was there? You see the point... there are just too many possibilities for other influence for anyone to say with certitude that Ueshiba could only have gotten his stuff from Takeda.

Best.

Mike

Tim Fong
08-01-2007, 01:03 AM
All through the late nineteenth century there were Chinese military cadets at Japanese schools. Local governments in China sponsored cadets to learn military science and so on, with the idea that they would bring back the knowledge to China.

That's the origin of the "Mao suit;" it was based on the Japanese cadet uniform.

It would not be surprising if there were [gasp] Chinese martial arts practitioners going to military school in Japan. Plus, there was quite a bit of contact between the ultra-right in Japan and the KMT revolutionaries in China. Who were often, martial artists....

SeiserL
08-01-2007, 05:52 AM
Osu Ellis,

Always enjoy your insights and instruction.

Still working with the solo exercises you taught in Florida.

While I have not real content to add to this thread, perhaps there can be something said for the attitude (spiritual training) and the mileage (hours of discipline without looking for a short cut or explanation) that contributes to the development and acquisition of skills.

First we learn the form, then modify the form, then break from the form. Most of us are stuck in the first one (learn the form, technicians). Others want to break from the form without every putting in the mileage to learn the form they are breaking from.

As a passionate hobbyist, that's my story story and plan (stay open and keep training).

Thanks again, and there will be more agains.

MM
08-01-2007, 06:20 AM
If, as Amdur sensei writes, "concur with Stan Pranin that, for better and for worse, Doshu made aikido into something as different from the art of his father as Morihei's martial art was from Daito-ryu.", then why didn't Kisshomaru change the name of the art?

And it seems kind of ... funny ironic, maybe? ... but Doshu and the Aikikai tried to get Tomiki to change the name of his school because it was different. Like the pot calling the kettle black?

Back to my question, though. Where would one go to research how Ueshiba Morihei's aikido was different from Takeda's Daito Ryu? As noted, most of the people who could provide answers are dead. And a lot of the writings left to us can have multiple interpretations.

On a different topic, the name change by Ueshiba Morihei to aikido doesn't seem to be that significant. Takeda changed the name to Daito ryu aikijutsu at Ayabe. We all know that -jutsu schools became -do, therefore, Daito ryu could very well be called Daito ryu aikido. Ueshiba Morihei dropped Takeda's reference of Daito ryu and the art became known as aikido.

And perhaps that was something that needed to be done. IF Ueshiba Morihei was going from a hard line jutsu application to something more spiritual where instead of dropping a foe at one's feet and killing, it would become neutralizing the foe and sending them away ... then add to that the fact that Ueshiba Morihei kept the core skills from DR, called "aiki" ... well, it seems kind of logical to drop the Daito ryu from the name, keep the aiki, but change from -jutsu to -do.

Just rambling,
Mark

Cady Goldfield
08-01-2007, 06:23 AM
Mike,
In the total absence of documentation of Ueshiba learning internal skills from anyone other than Takeda, and with the plethora of written and oral documentation cementing Ueshiba's relationship as a student under Takeda, Occam's razor should prevail in the face of any conjecture such as that which you offer.

Occam notwithstanding, we should keep in mind the nature of such master-student relationships -- especially in view of the esteem and secrecy in which these internal skills were (and are) kept. I doubt that any master in China or anywhere possessing such skills would hand them to Ueshiba and then let him blithely do as he wished with them. At the very least, they'd want acknowledgement from their student when he got famous (There are famous accounts of Takeda hunting Ueshiba down for teaching without offering credit to Takeda for his skills and methods).

One thing I've learned, over 30 years of martial study, is that even the most benevelent master has an ego, and wants to be acknowledged. I doubt that Ueshiba found a hidden monastery of Chinese warrior monks who took him in, gave him internal skills, sent him on his way, then vanished with their monastery like Brigadoon. :rolleyes:

I understand that, Cady, but there's a lot of things "not in the historic record" about Ueshiba that we don't know. We don't even know, despite scores of Uchideshi, exactly how Ueshiba trained, for instance. Some guy may come to Dan's house for a weekend and suddenly get a glimpse of ki and kokyu skills and there will be "nothing in the historic record" to reflect it, right? We do know that Ueshiba visited many places and watched training at many dojos and that probably some Chinese members of Omoto Kyo might have had some Chinese-influenced training methods, and so on. The bald assertion that it had to be Takeda simply doesn't stand. Another assertion/assumption that doesn't stand is the idea that there was no Chinese influence in Japan. BS... there were actual exchange students in Japanese and Chinese schools, there were visiting martial artists, etc., but there wasn't particularly note made of this in the historical records about Ueshiba, was there? You see the point... there are just too many possibilities for other influence for anyone to say with certitude that Ueshiba could only have gotten his stuff from Takeda.

Best.

Mike

Cady Goldfield
08-01-2007, 06:27 AM
All through the late nineteenth century there were Chinese military cadets at Japanese schools. Local governments in China sponsored cadets to learn military science and so on, with the idea that they would bring back the knowledge to China.

That's the origin of the "Mao suit;" it was based on the Japanese cadet uniform.

It would not be surprising if there were [gasp] Chinese martial arts practitioners going to military school in Japan. Plus, there was quite a bit of contact between the ultra-right in Japan and the KMT revolutionaries in China. Who were often, martial artists....

Tim,
For basic combat skills, that's not unusual. But for the internal skills, which are guarded jealously (particularly the high level stuff), I really doubt there is any such thing as "exchange students."

DH
08-01-2007, 06:28 AM
Mark
That was a joy to read.

Timothy WK
08-01-2007, 06:29 AM
...Takeda changed the name to Daito ryu aikijutsu at Ayabe...
Didn't he change it to Daito-ryu Aiki-ju-jutsu?

Mike Sigman
08-01-2007, 07:06 AM
Mike,
In the total absence of documentation of Ueshiba learning internal skills from anyone other than Takeda, and with the plethora of written and oral documentation cementing Ueshiba's relationship as a student under Takeda, Occam's razor should prevail in the face of any conjecture such as that which you offer.Occam's Razor doesn't apply to history, Cady. There's no record of my first date anywhere, but I had one. ;)Occam notwithstanding, we should keep in mind the nature of such master-student relationships -- especially in view of the esteem and secrecy in which these internal skills were (and are) kept. We don't know that. Suppose the secret oath of the Omoto Kyo was enough so that some visiting Chinese members of O.K. showed Ueshiba an approach that was an epiphany? Ueshiba's approach, to my eyes, appears to be somewhat different from what I know/hear about Sagawa's approach... how does that work? I doubt that any master in China or anywhere possessing such skills would hand them to Ueshiba and then let him blithely do as he wished with them. At the very least, they'd want acknowledgement from their student when he got famous (There are famous accounts of Takeda hunting Ueshiba down for teaching without offering credit to Takeda for his skills and methods). Doesn't have to be a "famous master", Cady. Could have been a knowledgeable guy at an Omoto Kyo group. The point is simply that the bald assertion that Ueshiba HAD to get everything he knew from Takeda doesn't fly. Besides, Ueshiba did indeed study other arts and those arts also have ki/kokyu skills. Probability points to Takeda, but not enough that I'd bet any money... nor do I accept any unsupported bald assertions about Takeda as true. Bald assertions based on belief are the things bad teachers do to loyal students and screw up their lives, IMO. If there's doubt, mention the doubt. Keeps everyone happy. One thing I've learned, over 30 years of martial study, is that even the most benevelent master has an ego, and wants to be acknowledged. I doubt that Ueshiba found a hidden monastery of Chinese warrior monks who took him in, gave him internal skills, sent him on his way, then vanished with their monastery like Brigadoon. :rolleyes: I think Ellis has mentioned that Omoto Kyo contained Chinese members as well, Cady. I realize that you firmly want to believe something, but unsupported belief and fuzzy thinking isn't the preferred method, IMO. Several instances, BTW, have been put forward in some of the recent posts supporting the idea that there is a question... the way you reject the idea that there is a question, while offering no proof, why it just boggles my engineer-type brain. ;)

Best.

Mike

David Orange
08-01-2007, 07:52 AM
In the total absence of documentation of Ueshiba learning internal skills from anyone other than Takeda, and with the plethora of written and oral documentation cementing Ueshiba's relationship as a student under Takeda, Occam's razor should prevail in the face of any conjecture such as that which you offer.

And Ueshiba talked. He talked about Deguchi and Takeda. Does anyone have any reference to his talking about anyone else? He seems to have liked to give credit where it was due.

Mochizuki Sensei liked to talk about one person more than any other, I believe: Jigoro Kano. He had a picture of Kano on one side of his Kamiza and a picture of Ueshiba on the other. He was devoted to Ueshiba as a master, but also, it seems, as a friend. But when it came to Jigoro Kano, it was pure reverence. He would lead the closing ceremony after a hard keiko on a hot summer's day and after the final bow, he would not get up but pause, then say, "Kano Jigoro Sensei wa ne...." and everyone in the room, hot and exhausted, aching in seiza, would silently groan because he would go on for about 30 minutes, talking about how Jigoro Kano had affected him, Japan, martial arts, physical education and the world.

Other times, he did talk about Ueshiba, Mifune, Toku Sampo, Funakoshi and others, but it was clear that he revered Jigoro Kano above them all as a master.

So we have many stories from Ueshiba's students about how he would talk about Deguchi and Takeda but no one has mentioned his talking about anyone else to any significant degree--not as a teacher--and it seems to me that he would have talked about any major influence on his thinking, and especially on his martial arts.

I have often thought that Ueshiba might have been exposed to baguazhang on his journies to China and could have been inspired by simply seeing it, but we don't have any reports of his having said so to anyone. Of course, we don't have transcripts of everything he said, but with Tohei we know that he also trained with Tempu Nakamura and Tohei talked about him as well as Ueshiba, so I think Ueshiba would have talked significantly more about anything that had even modified what he learned from someone as deeply influential in his life as Sokaku Takeda. But no one recalls any such conversations.

David

Ron Tisdale
08-01-2007, 08:00 AM
Maybe a little tangential to Ellis' article, but this question has been vexing me of late. Why is this so? Why only in aikido are you expected to come up with your own martial art right off the bat?

Hi Doug, That is hardly what I mean to suggest (perhaps while being somewhat flippant, I was unclear). I think that is a perspective that many aikidoka unfortunately have, but I would not say I share it.

As I have started work in another martial art I have become more and more aware that you change to fit the art first, then you explore the art and only then do you come up with your art. (see Teaching Shu Ha Ri (http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=222)) Concurrently, I continue in aikido training with just this method. And yet this does not conform to my previous experience in aikido or the reported experience of others. The uncharitable conclusion is that there were kata and a training method to be had and only few thought they were important or that at some point they were consciously abandoned. But, if so, why?

Well, my primary "style" of aikido stresses kata heavily, as it's founder gives evidence to in his writings. So I'm right there with you on that. I can't speak to other "styles" and the choices their instructors made.

As you can see from my choices in training I feel that this "aikido of one" approach, so to speak, is the wrong approach.

What I'm trying and obviously failing to say, is that to reach any real level beyond play acting, a person must assume responsibility for their training, look under the hood, tinker with the engine, and make it work for themselves. Not their teacher, or their teacher's teacher, or the founder of the art. Themselves. Preserving the art is all well and good, and in my mind, a large part of koryu training.

But if you don't enliven the kata in the manner of someone like Y. Takamora Sensei, or Kuroda Sensei, at least as an end game, what do you really have? Play acting without the heart of the art. Some would argue that at that point, the art is dead anyway, and all we are looking at is dried bones.

Just my opinion,
Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
08-01-2007, 08:02 AM
Of course, we don't have transcripts of everything he said, but with Tohei we know that he also trained with Tempu Nakamura and Tohei talked about him as well as Ueshiba, so I think Ueshiba would have talked significantly more about anything that had even modified what he learned from someone as deeply influential in his life as Sokaku Takeda. But no one recalls any such conversations.A lot of the Japanese and Chinese religions have some hidden body technology aspects. Most of the early ki stuff, etc., in Japan undoubtedly came via the Buddhist Temple. Some of the Shinto sects had their own body technology (usually a borrow from Chinese stuff). I posted an example of a woman sect-founder that obviously had some access to ki/kokyu skills. Problem is that you're always sworn to secrecy, not to reveal, etc. We don't know what, if anything, Ueshiba learned in the Omoto Kyo.... but he certainly was an ardent follower and that's definitely in the "historical record".

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Cady Goldfield
08-01-2007, 08:19 AM
And Ueshiba talked. He talked about Deguchi and Takeda. Does anyone have any reference to his talking about anyone else? He seems to have liked to give credit where it was due.


That's quite right. Ueshiba gave credit to Takeda grudgingly, by the accounts, and perhaps not until his master started hunting him down for collecting fees for teaching without giving Takeda his due (which was such a pittance that it's reasonable to say that this due was solely for the principle of the thing -- a form of acknowledgement of Takeda's being Ueshiba's teacher).

And Mike, Occam's Razor as a model can be applied to any arguement in which there is one set of workable, simple facts pitted against unsupported conjecture. The bottom line is that you don't add conjecture to complicate what is already a rather simple scenario. When we look at the tangible information about Ueshiba and Takeda, compared to such conjectures as you have made, the former is a way more rational theory than the latter.

You just don't want to educate yourself about Daito-ryu and Takeda by doing the research that some others have done, but you like to argue for the sake of arguing, never coming up with anything founded to support your ideas. And, you seem like to argue while flying blind, just because it's easier than doing the homework. ;)

Mike Sigman
08-01-2007, 08:28 AM
That's quite right. Ueshiba gave credit to Takeda grudgingly, by the accounts, and perhaps not until his master started hunting him down for collecting fees for teaching without giving Takeda his due (which was such a pittance that it's reasonable to say that this due was solely for the principle of the thing -- a form of acknowledgement of Takeda's being Ueshiba's teacher).

And Mike, Occam's Razor as a model can be applied to any arguement in which there is one set of workable, simple facts pitted against unsupported conjecture. The bottom line is that you don't add conjecture to complicate what is already a rather simple scenario. When we look at the tangible information about Ueshiba and Takeda, compared to such conjectures as you have made, the former is a way more rational theory than the latter.

You just don't want to educate yourself about Daito-ryu and Takeda by doing the research that some others have done, but you like to argue for the sake of arguing, never coming up with anything founded to support your ideas. And, you seem like to argue while flying blind, just because it's easier than doing the homework. ;)Cady, I asked for direct support to the assertions. All you've given me is Occam's Razor, which essentially says the simplest answer is *usually* closest to being correct. But Occam's Razor doesn't mean anything unless you know the percentage of pertinent facts you have. So Great... re-read what I said... Takeda has a high probability but that is not strong enough to make a bald assertion; therefore, bald assertions don't work about who Ueshiba got his ki skills from. Unless.... and I ask for it again... you can come up with tangible support? If you can't show apodictic proof, why not simply say something like "we don't know for sure....", which is where you really are. I'm surprised you're arguing fuzzy probabilities when I'm directly asking for proof for some direct assertions that have been made. ;)

Mike

Mike Sigman
08-01-2007, 08:31 AM
but you like to argue for the sake of arguing, never coming up with anything founded to support your ideas. And, you seem like to argue while flying blind, just because it's easier than doing the homework. ;)OK... give us the exact quote and proof that Ueshiba got the ki/kokyu skills he used in Aikido from Takeda. How did Takeda train? How did Ueshiba train?

Josh Reyer
08-01-2007, 08:42 AM
If, as Amdur sensei writes, "concur with Stan Pranin that, for better and for worse, Doshu made aikido into something as different from the art of his father as Morihei's martial art was from Daito-ryu.", then why didn't Kisshomaru change the name of the art?

And it seems kind of ... funny ironic, maybe? ... but Doshu and the Aikikai tried to get Tomiki to change the name of his school because it was different. Like the pot calling the kettle black?

Not at all. As "Doshu", as the designated inheritor of the art, Kisshomaru was free to do what he liked to the art and still retain the name. His was the honke, the mainline.

Now, one could take issue (and I sorta do) with the tendency to represent everything in modern aikido as coming from Morihei, and to downplay the changes and influence on it by Kisshomaru and Koichi Tohei, but as far as the name's concerned Kisshomaru didn't have any obligation to change it.

Mike Sigman
08-01-2007, 08:57 AM
Not at all. As "Doshu", as the designated inheritor of the art, Kisshomaru was free to do what he liked to the art and still retain the name. His was the honke, the mainline.

Now, one could take issue (and I sorta do) with the tendency to represent everything in modern aikido as coming from Morihei, and to downplay the changes and influence on it by Kisshomaru and Koichi Tohei, but as far as the name's concerned Kisshomaru didn't have any obligation to change it.Incidentally, the Tomiki and Judo and Aikido relationship is not fully clear in all respects (rather like the Aikido and Daito-Ryu relationship). The problem is that the ki and kokyu skills are far more widespread than people think (and I think an increasing number of people are now beginning to realize this). But even with the basic skills being in most arts, in one form or another, the techniques and strategies of the arts can differ broadly. So someone can have some ki/kokyu skills and can do all the Aikido techniques... yet still not be doing Aikido with the particular "aiki" that Ueshiba had in mind. I feel pretty sure (having read some of the same sources that Ellis is referring to) that Tomiki undoubtedly had some ki/kokyu skills. However, I have no definite idea that Tomiki used those skills to the "aiki" level that O-Sensei was talking about. So I have to say "we don't know enough to make a definite statement" (same with the DR-Aiki schtick that the Hardenites are selling. ;) ).

From what I read of Kisshomaru Ueshiba's statements about ki and aiki, I feel that he's definitely talking about the aiki concept that Ueshiba was trying to pass on, even though his skill level was not similar to his father's, Morihei.

Some of these things are subtle and we're too far away (in time) to be able to focus clearly on the picture from those days, so we'll just have to enjoy our days arguing unproductively. ;)

Best.

Mike

Walker
08-01-2007, 09:49 AM
Hi Doug, That is hardly what I mean to suggest (perhaps while being somewhat flippant, I was unclear). I think that is a perspective that many aikidoka unfortunately have, but I would not say I share it.
Best,
Ron
Sorry Ron,
Didn't mean to imply a rebuttal of you post. I think I generally know where you are coming from. Your post just sparked mine, but it should not be taken response to it.

BTW- I saw my friend Bruce a few weeks ago and your comment to say hello to T after meeting him and training was the source of great amusement. (hope that wasn't too cryptic)

RvW
08-01-2007, 09:59 AM
Ellis makes a distinction between the "electrical shock" effects of early Ueshiba's art (refers to Mongolia) and later account of people being "lead into a void". This with the underlying thought that these effects on people are to be considered fundamentally different.

Mike, in a very early post, you dismissed this thought of Ellis. Could you explain the grounds why you do not consider these outcomes Ueshiba had on people different, and consider them to be part of one and the same skill set?

And the other way around. Ellis, could you be more explicit as to why you believe the underlying skills have to be fundamentally different?

Cady Goldfield
08-01-2007, 10:01 AM
OK... give us the exact quote and proof that Ueshiba got the ki/kokyu skills he used in Aikido from Takeda. How did Takeda train? How did Ueshiba train?

:rolleyes:

Mike, the documented comments, anecdotes, Takeda's emei roku with Ueshiba's "John Hancock" all over it, interviews with his contemporaries, etc., etc. (not to mention Ueshiba's skills, whcih are recognizable and reproducible, and identifiable as having the same basis as those of Sagawa and Horikawa) carry a lot more weight than your conjectures about fanciful meetings with anonymous possessors of aiki in China.

If you were to experience high level Daito-ryu aiki firsthand, such as from the head of the Sagawa Dojo or from the Kodokai's California-based exponent, H. Kiyama, maybe you would have a better base from which to view the origins of Ueshiba's internal skills.

Until then, you're just babblin' about Brigadoon. :)

Fred Little
08-01-2007, 10:59 AM
If you were to experience high level Daito-ryu aiki firsthand, such as from the head of the Sagawa Dojo or from the Kodokai's California-based exponent, H. Kiyama, maybe you would have a better base from which to view the origins of Ueshiba's internal skills.


Cady:

What direct experience do you, or your teacher, have with either of those individuals? I'm interested in a specific answer that conveys breadth, depth,and duration.

Although I claim no current affiliation with the Kodokai, I have felt Kiyama Sensei's technique on multiple occasions in seminar formats.

Similarly, although it was more than a few years ago, I studied with his East Coast Representative for well over a year and have more recently had the opportunity to train and speak with him again about a wide variety of topics.

That is part of the basis for my evaluation of the many claims that have been made in this area.

Frankly, it looks to me as if you are the one who is, in your charming phrase "babblin' about Brigadoon."

Best,

FL

Mike Sigman
08-01-2007, 11:19 AM
interviews with his contemporaries, etc., etc. (not to mention Ueshiba's skills, whcih are recognizable and reproducible, and identifiable as having the same basis as those of Sagawa and Horikawa) carry a lot more weight than your conjectures about fanciful meetings with anonymous possessors of aiki in China.
(A.) Once again, give us the proof that supports the *assertion* or give it up, Cady.

(B.) I never said a word about goint to China. There were Chinese members of Omoto Kyo. In Japan.

Mike

Thomas Campbell
08-01-2007, 11:23 AM
[snip] Some guy may come to Dan's house for a weekend and suddenly get a glimpse of ki and kokyu skills and there will be "nothing in the historic record" to reflect it, right? We do know that Ueshiba visited many places and watched training at many dojos [snip]

Didn't Ueshiba stop by Dan's barn? :straightf

Thomas Campbell
08-01-2007, 11:52 AM
[snip]
It would not be surprising if there were [gasp] Chinese martial arts practitioners going to military school in Japan. Plus, there was quite a bit of contact between the ultra-right in Japan and the KMT revolutionaries in China. Who were often, martial artists....

And not just military school. For example (just of China-Japan MA exchange, not specifically with Ueshiba):

TANG HAO (1897-1959), also known as Tang Fansheng, native of Wu County in Jiangsu Province, famous martial arts historian. Born in a poor family, Tang was fond of literature and martial arts since childhood. After coming to Shanghai he worked as principal of Shang'gong Primary School; in Shanghai Tang learnt Six Harmonies Boxing (Liuhequan) from Liu Zhen'nan. Later he also studied Xingyiquan and Taijiquan from Li Cunyi and Chen Fake.

In 1927, suspected of being a Communist Party member, Tang was arrested but then, thanks to Zhu Guofu's help, released.

The same year Tang went to Japan to study political science and law; in Japan he learnt Judo, Ken-jutsu and other arts. After returning to China Tang hold a post of editorial department director at Central Martial Arts Academy (Zhongyang Guoshu Guan); in 1930 he led a Central Martial Arts Academy representation (incl. Zhu Guofu, Yang Songshan and others) to Japan on a tour of investigation; in 1936 Tang was defending Gu Liuxin and others in court (Gu and others were suspected of being involved in "Seven Gentlemen" case). In 1941, since Tang was still active as a lawyer in spite of the Japanese invasion, he was caught by Japanese soldiers, whipped and chased away to Anhui Province.

After liberation in 1949 Tang Hao returned to Shanghai and was appointed to many posts in political and sports organizations; in 1955 Tang was appointed an advisor position with the China State Sports Committee. Tang Hao wrote many books and articles on the history of martial arts and is considered a pioneer of the history of Chinese Martial Arts and Chinese sport. Tang became especially famous for his research on the history of Taijiquan - after examining Taiji classics, Chen clan manuals, family chronicles and other text, Tang Hao draw a conclusion that Taijiquan was created/compiled by Chen Wangting of Chenjiagou Village in Henan Province. At the same time he rejected traditional view of Zhang Sanfeng as the creator of Taiji Boxing." [emphasis added]

http://www.chinafrominside.com/ma/taiji/chenboxingmanuals.html

DH
08-01-2007, 11:57 AM
Didn't Ueshiba stop by Dan's barn? :straightf
Cute Tom
I'm the one that responded first and said "It can't be proved. The only ones who truly know are all dead.;)
What we have is only historical ties, which seem rather logical. Instead of jumping through hoops to make connections that have NO evidance whatsoever, we at least have a solid and proved connection to Takeda. And evidence that Ueshiba's DR peers who trained with Takeda and Uehsiba had the same skills if not better.
I'm sick of arguing it myself. It so damn logical its ridiculous. Instead we "look" for other sources that have that have little to zero connecting proof. But we see what we want to see I suppose
WHat is facinating is that Ueshiba gave credit, and never mentioned other sources. and all those around him kept pointing to Takeda as the source.
You'd think some other guy who taught him would have told someone about it since Ueshiba become so famous. And you'd think Ueshiba had trained, with someone else who'd know.
Of course he continued to train on his own and make discoveries. That's not the issue. Ths issue is where he got it from and just what exactly he was doing. All parties privey to that knowledge are dead.
Sorry Ellis.

Thomas Campbell
08-01-2007, 12:07 PM
Sequence is not causality.

You have one and a half facts onto which you have loaded a truckload of interpretation.

Fact one: Takeda awarded the Kyoju Dairi to Ueshiba in Ayabe.

Claim analysis: What Ueshiba had learned in Hokkaido and precisely how it was different from what he learned in Ayabe is pure supposition on your part. [snip]Why leap to conclusions?

Best,

FL

Similarly, Fred, broad-brush resemblance is not essential essence. At least Cady has 1-1/2 facts to support her truck. She is not making statements like "All Asian arts have these internal skills at the higher levels," without having practiced those arts' distinct training methods or speaking Chinese, Japanese, or the language of the Asian martial art in question.

Thomas Campbell
08-01-2007, 12:10 PM
Cute Tom
I'm the one that responded first and said "It can't be proved. The only ones who truly know are all dead.;)
What we have is only historical ties, which seem rather logical. Instead of jumping through hoops to make connections that have NO evidance whatsoever, we at least have a solid and proved connection to Takeda. And evidence that Ueshiba's DR peers who trained with Takeda and Uehsiba had the same skills if not better.
[snip]Sorry Ellis.

Agreed.

And I'm sorry as well to have contributed to the diversion of the thread, so I'll step off now. I know others will continue, though. :rolleyes:

Marc Abrams
08-01-2007, 12:12 PM
This thread kind of reminds me of people arguing that there is only one path to the top of Mt. Everest.

I think that we all can assume that there is some underlying level of Ki/Jin that people need to be able to display in order to perform an art to a level that people would describe as being an "internal art." I would argue that there needs to be some baseline natural physical abilities that a person would have to have. That person would then have to be exposed to good teaching in how to develop that "internal capacity." That person would have to practice those skills diligently. This would seem to apply regardless of the art being studied.

I think one of Stanley Pranin's greatest contributions to our art has been that he exposed us, via the Aiki Expos, to other arts, some without any link to D.R., which reflected deep understanding in, and ability to utilize those "internal principles."

I would think that it would not matter if my training came from Ushiro Sensei, the head of Systema, Koroda Sensei, my main teacher, Kondo Sensei, Mike, or Dan. As long as I was able to further develop my "internal skill sets" and could then apply them to my execution of Aikido, what difference would it make if I had never studied D.R..

I agree with Mike that this has become a fruitless argument. I would much rather learn from some of you how you evolved to where you have gotten and how that has changed your ability to do your chosen art. The overlap of the skill sets that I find in many of these accomplished martial artists with a high level of Ki/Jin development is what I look for in helping in my development in Aikido. Many of you have much to offer us in this regards.

Marc Abrams

Mike Sigman
08-01-2007, 12:32 PM
I'm sick of arguing it myself. But you bring it up, regularly as clockwork, on a number of forums anyway, Dan. It so damn logical its ridiculous. Instead we "look" for other sources that have that have little to zero connecting proof. No one is "looking for other sources". We're saying that from written documents it appears like there *could be* other sources and hence your constant assertion is not founded in fact, only speculation and Cady's probability. Fine. All you have to do is say that in your opinion, Ueshiba probably learned his ki/kokyu method from Takeda. If you want to assert it as fact, you need to be able to support it. If you'll notice it, that particular suggestion comes from more than one person.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
08-01-2007, 12:36 PM
She is not making statements like "All Asian arts have these internal skills at the higher levels," without having practiced those arts' distinct training methods or speaking Chinese, Japanese, or the language of the Asian martial art in question.Well, if you're taking a shot at me, rest assured that I have checked with a number of good sources, including Chen Xiao Wang, Liang Shou Yu, and others before I state something as fact. But then, if you go buy a book on any Asian art of note, you'll notice that the qi stuff is mentioned in the literature. They take pride in it, just like O-Sensei took pride in writing his oblique references to the same thing in Aikido. Of course, if you don't know mathematics, you'd probably question my assertion that adding and multiplication are in all branches of mathematics and ask me to prove it.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

dps
08-01-2007, 01:36 PM
We're saying that from written documents it appears like there *could be* other sources

Like from here?
http://www.crackerjack.com/games.php

Fred Little
08-01-2007, 02:32 PM
Similarly, Fred, broad-brush resemblance is not essential essence. At least Cady has 1-1/2 facts to support her truck. She is not making statements like "All Asian arts have these internal skills at the higher levels," without having practiced those arts' distinct training methods or speaking Chinese, Japanese, or the language of the Asian martial art in question.

Thomas,

You appear to be confusing me with Mike, or confusing my argument against one proposition with an argument in favor of another one.

Any assertions I've made in the past have been considerably more limited than the one you reference, based on academic and/or practical experience of the distinct training methods I'm discussing, and informed by a decade of study of East Asian languages.

None of which speaks to what anyone else may or may not bring to their assertions.

Best,

FL

Erick Mead
08-01-2007, 03:27 PM
Oh please, Mother of God... - not again!!! AGGHHGHGHGHGH .... [Deep breath] Excellent piece, BTW. More please.

The subject of what I'VE been writing and curious about is exemplified by the following quote of Okamoto Seigo.
"Kodo Horikawa Sensei used to say: 'Once you reach a level such as yours, you become able to execute your own techniques based on what I have taught you. I didn't learn all the techniques I do now from Sokaku Takeda Sensei.' Once you master a certain level and grasp the key points you become able to execute techniques of your own. Then these techniques of yours gradually sprout branches."

I am going to go out a limb here to pitch one for Ellis Amdur to hopefully expand on or critically deconstruct.

The thing that most plainly distinguishes O Sensei's art from DTR technically from my perspective, and post-dates his DTR training, certainly in the eyes of his son and in the words of his father on the realization of aikido is "...the old form of the posture in kenjutsu." While some have emphasized that Daito was a complete art together with sword forms, O Sensei specifically uses that phrase to describe the advent of Aikido, and his son, in The Spirit of Aikido, specifically distinguishes the admixture of the sword principles as the the key technical factor in the evolution. He ascribes his father's sword work mainly to Shinkage, which the experience of aikido and the reference to the "old form of the posture in kenjutsu" suggests is a natural fit to the sensibilities of the Yagyu muto techniques and the doctrine of katsujinto.

[deep breath again] (as an collateral aside to Amdur on a point he has tried to correct here before -- Wikipedia still has O Sensei being granted menkyo kaiden by Masakatsu in 1908 -- you may wish to edit it or comment)

Now what I think:

It is the attention to "form" and "posture" in this description that interests me in regard to the other word that many (including Amdur) have mentioned as their desire or goal -- "Power" -- power as they perceive O Sensei to have had power. And therein lies what I believe is a great misunderstanding of what Doshu's project was about.

The internal arts perspective of ki development as a change in the body's substantial neuro-physiological makeup may well be correct; it may also not be what the art is, exactly. Making a tougher, more responsive body clearly makes for more power.

But form is power also. And strength of form is superior to strength of material. Those are lessons of the sword as well as the architect.

Ellis Amdur very charitably addresses the problem set for Doshu at his father's death. As a sixteen year-old high school kid he played mediator to prominent Nationalists with whom his father philosophically disagreed during the War years. That was not a place to put a person whose basic temperament was -- unsubtle -- or lacking in careful thought.

The means he sought to translate that intent had to be couched in a manner that was perceptible and attractive to a audience, in Japan and around the world, that was, at best, initially likely to be indifferent to it. O Sensei dealt in some fairly esoteric, even idiosyncratic material concepts (even for modern Japanese). In attempting to formulate a means by which to make the proverbial "it" accessible to such a wide audience he had to answer some basic questions about the nature of the fidelity he would maintain:

1) Did those who followed O Sensei have to essentially duplicate his training journey or praxis, and

2) Did they have to replicate his personal understanding and concepts,

all in order to arrive at substantially the result intended by O Sensei for his followers on the path of aikido.

Plainly, a merely rote fidelity (however great a task that may have been) might have accomplished preservation of the bones of a few of the things that Ellis Amdur is looking for. I do not think that is the kind of fidelity Doshu decided on. O Sensei's dispensing with anything like a kata-type presentation in his teaching made plain it was not his intent to transmit it that way (if not impossible to derive secondarily). Pranin and Ellis Amdur seem to agree on that.

On the strength of what takemusu aiki purports to represent, I do not believe that O Sensei intended rote fidelity. He certainly did not make it possible or very probable to acheive, either. My question about Doshu and his task of developing aikido and spreading it, is whether there is anything intended by O Sensei to be kept that is "lost" in the art transmitted by his son in the sense that Ellis Amdur seems to mean.

In other words, is it the lack of knowledge, or a lack of practice that causes the present problem of "lesser" seeming aikido in some places these days. I tend to the latter and conclude that more practice leads to less problem. Expanding the art to the great mass of people results inevitably in the spread of dilettantish practice (at times - Guilty). So, more practice. If O Sensei had one motto it would be "Practice!"

Kata represent attempts to "code" the essence of an art. Doshu was left with no "code," and likely no way to "code" aikido in any traditional manner. Aikido is, in informational terms, very hard to code. That is to say, there is not any very obvious way to represent it rigorously in terms that are less than the whole of what it is. The variety and proliferation of attempts to code it by many exceedingly gifted students of the Founder, from many different perspectives, only prove the point.

Form and perception of form of a variable dynamic but clearly identifiable type is what Doshu expounded as the basis from which the creativity of techniques could spring -- from practice, not a secret formula or reducible knowledge. "Not being spoon fed," the knowledge comes intuitively from the form of action and from no other place.

That does not make it easy, but that also does not mean that there was any simpler way to do what Doshu set about doing. DTR techniques are the part of the rubric in which this essential form was laid originally, as are the weapons curricula of Saito or Saotome, and the basis for the ki explorations of Tohei. Given Ellis's initial plea to the Virgin, he may well understand when I say that while the rubric is always there and may change -- it should never be mistaken for the liturgy that never changes -- but is always new.

The form is to join oneself in one body with the opponent -- and from this to join all things within your perception as one body -- and this is aikido and nothing more. That does not tell you how to put into practice, of course. Many people initially have grave difficulty making a collection of their own limbs into one body, much less an opponent. This may be accomplished in a number of ways in solo or partnered practice. But the principles are the same in either case, and the learning may progress by practice along either gradient. The endless variations are but aspects of a single inchoate form, which does not have, and cannot have, one faithful, reducible concrete representation, individually or collectively.

Thomas Campbell
08-01-2007, 03:30 PM
Thomas,

You appear to be confusing me with Mike, or confusing my argument against one proposition with an argument in favor of another one.

[snip]

No, Fred, I wasn't confusing you with Mike. I intended to compare/contrast your characterization of Cady's "1-1/2 facts" and critique of her for leaping to conclusions with the breadth of another assertion about Asian martial arts.

I admire your fortitude with east Asian languages. I've embarked on the study of Chinese . . . it's fascinating and frustrating.

jennifer paige smith
08-04-2007, 12:35 PM
Great article Ellis, thank you.

I think the ways to the top of that mountain are unique to each individual. The "great ones" seem to have acheived their power in very individualized ways. We can learn the basics from good teachers but we must follow our own path to be great.

That is a beautiful summary, Ricky. And thank you, Mr. Amdur.
I would say that we are all 'the great one's' and good teachers help us to see/develop that baseline by way of this path. That is the basic, in my book( release date to be announced).;)

MM
08-10-2007, 09:44 AM
The story I cited elsewhere from Hal Sharp re Tomiki throwing the ripsnorting foreign kenkusei of the Kodokan, one-by-one with one hand - after saying he was going to show them aikido. And an interview I can no longer find, where Oba, Tomiki's closest disciple came back after seeing a demo of Daito-ryu which had, I believe the waza where a number of people pin the teacher, and with a single move, he throws them off. And Tomiki said, "Oh, I can do that," got a bunch of people together and did. But apparently Tomiki didn't like to present this stuff and I do not believe that he taught it - I don't think, actually, that he believed it was germane to what he was trying to develop any more than Kano Jigoro did for judo.


Not that I don't believe you. But, I did find corroborating material for the theory that Tomiki didn't think aiki was that "germane".

Found this on Aikido Journal:
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=394

Nishimura Sensei: ... I believe that I am a man of foresight, you know. I encouraged Mr. Tomiki to start the art because I thought that the art was just wonderful. I myself didn't practice the art much, though. But Mr. Tomiki has been practicing for nearly 40 years. That's where he is so great. Ueshiba Sensei thought that Tomiki lessened the value of aiki, and Mr. Tomiki also had trouble with the Kodokan. However, he is a fine, serious man. He gradually attained proficiency in the art and now has many fine successors. He is now a university professor. One can continue to teach as a professor until the age of 70.

Sunadomari Sensei: I believe that Ueshiba Sensei misses his students from the old days. He often talks about them.

Nishimura Sensei: Well, we were all directly taught by Sensei. Also I was his first student from the judo world. Because Seishi told me to practice the art, I could do it with great confidence.

Mr. Tomiki is having a hard time in his position between judo and aiki, but as could be expected, he has cooperated with judoka. You must have a dojo to practice in, you know. The Judo Federations of Kita Kyushu aixd Yamaguchi Prefecture are now beginning to include aiki. In present-day judo, people as they age gradually lose physical stamina. This is the reason aiki is now being taught to judo 1st and 2nd dans. In this way they can continue to run the dojo. You have to be successful financially to run a dojo, you know.

Sunadomari Sensei: It seems so. Judo people have started to change their attitude toward aikido these days.

Nishimura Sensei: The credit should go to Mr. Tomiki. Whenever I meet judoka who know aiki, they all know it through Mr. Tomiki.

Erick Mead
08-10-2007, 10:40 AM
Found this on Aikido Journal:
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=394
From the same Article:

Sunadomari Sensei: The reason the two arts [DR v. Aikido] are completely different is because aikido is the art of the kami. ...

Nishimura Sensei: He was a genius. But he was not particularly good at organizing things.

Sunadomari Sensei: Such things are difficult for a genius like him.

Nishimura Sensei: He could not do things according to a set form. He always had to shed his old skin. Otherwise there would never have been any development of his art.

This relates to Ellis Amdur's complaint in the article under discussion that Kisshomaru Doshu seemed to abandon, or approach the teaching of the art in a manner not in keeping with, his father's established practices and purpose. Ueshiba devoted hours of practice to solo exercises, both empty-handed and with weapons. This was too central an aspect of his father’s life for Doshu to have missed, and I’ve no doubt that his father taught him explicitly what he was doing. ... It is obvious, therefore, that the only thing Ueshiba Kisshomaru lacked was the mileage, because unless one puts in the miles, one will not develop the body, and without the body, one will not be able to develop the skills. ... It comes down to mileage and attention — both repetition with self-imposed mindfulness and a teacher who makes sure, one way or another, that you are doing it right. ...

Why didn’t Doshu put in the miles? Too late to ask, isn’t it? Maybe the work was too hard — too boring, too grueling, or too uninteresting.

There is in fact a larger purpose and methodology behind the "not doing things according to a set form." Doshu's approach from his own perspective resulted in the diversity of development within some bounds of commonality now seen within the world of aikido. This is precisely described by Motoori Norinaga, whose commentaries on Kojiki were so much a part of how O Sensei related to his defining mythology, his development of the prinicples of aikido and the "art of the gods." The analogy is drawn between Norinaga's approach to learning in intellectual terms and that of learning in physical terms. But given the discussion elsewhere about the natural development of movement and load efficiency knowledge in the body from just good old-fashioned labor of common types, (never mind explicit martial training), reading this, things may have gone very much as intended:

In life, there are many routes to pursue learning, not just one. Among these routes are, first, the diligent study of the Way, based upon the book on the Age of the Gods in Nihon shoki. This is called the Learning of the Gods and a student thereof is called a Scholar of the Way of the Gods. ...

[E]ach student learns according to his preferred way. The method of learning also varies according to the intentions of the teacher and his students.

A person who is determined to learn and begins to study has a preferred route from the beginning. Some choose the methodology by themselves, while others have no preconceived way of learning or understanding in this matter. They approach a learned teacher and ask, "Which Way should I take?" or "Which book should a novice read first? This is common and understandable.

You should begin studying your discipline in an orthodox manner, adopting a correct attitude; in this way you will not later deviate into erratic and improper directions. In addition, your learning will bear fruit sooner if the most effective methods are clearly outlined from the beginning. This is the most desirable way to approach scholarship.

Even when the energy expended is constant, there are advantages and disadvantages depending on the path and the methodology followed. But as for the choice of learning, a teacher should not force something onto a student; the choice should be left to the student's interests. No matter how much a novice he may be, a person who is determined to pursue scholarship is not entirely like an infant as regards his intellect. There is invariably a route in which he is interested and which accords with his ability. He likes some directions and is uninterested in others. Further, people are gifted by birth in some things and not in others. Success is seldom achieved in something that you do not like or are not gifted in, no matter how much effort you may put into it.

In any kind of study, it is easy enough to teach a method based on a set of superficial reasons, with the teacher instructing the pupil to follow this path or that. There is no way of knowing, however, whether the adopted method is indeed good, or whether against all expectations it may turn out to be unhelpful. So the method should not be forced onto a student; the choice should be left entirely to his preference. In essence, the most important and fundamental requirement is that learning be pursued for many years, sparing no effort, without ever becoming boring or fatiguing.

In this respect, any methodology is acceptable and it should not be a matter of great concern. Yet, however excellent your method of study, you will meet with no success if you are lazy and make no effort. . . .
from Nishimura, "First Steps. . . .", Monumenta Nipponica, 42:4,
Winter 1987, pp. 449 et seq.

Chuck Clark
08-10-2007, 11:48 AM
Not that I don't believe you. But, I did find corroborating material for the theory that Tomiki didn't think aiki was that "germane".

I think that possibly what Tomiki Sensei found that was not "germane" to the practice of what he was doing was the "theatrics" (my own term and view from having spent many years under the influence of Tomiki and his senior students) that many people did to demonstrate their "aiki"...

I think the nature of aiki and learning how to do it are contained in the kata. The problem is finding a teacher that has done the work and progressed through the system of kata using aiki as the primary component of the riai and katachi. It is not labeled with Chinese terms, but aiki exists within the system. I don't think Tomiki and others knew how to "teach" it, but he could surely do it and I don't think he left it out of his teaching method on purpose.

Mike Sigman
08-10-2007, 07:59 PM
I think that possibly what Tomiki Sensei found that was not "germane" to the practice of what he was doing was the "theatrics" (my own term and view from having spent many years under the influence of Tomiki and his senior students) that many people did to demonstrate their "aiki"...

I think the nature of aiki and learning how to do it are contained in the kata. The problem is finding a teacher that has done the work and progressed through the system of kata using aiki as the primary component of the riai and katachi. It is not labeled with Chinese terms, but aiki exists within the system. I don't think Tomiki and others knew how to "teach" it, but he could surely do it and I don't think he left it out of his teaching method on purpose.Hi Chuck:

We're all of us more or less reduced to the "I think...." perspective, since all we can do at this time is guess, based on what anecdotal indicators are left AND based on what is becoming more apparent about the ki and kokyu skills that seem to have been available in those earlier days.

Tomiki demonstrated that he also knew the "secret" methods of generating qi and jin power, in the basic sense, but whether he understood the "aiki" use of those powers is simply not clear from the available documentation. If someone wants to argue that Tomiki did indeed understand how to use the "aiki" variant of those powers, I'd be interested in hearing them explain how it's done... a "Catch 22" if there ever was one. ;)

Best.

Mike Sigman

Chuck Clark
08-11-2007, 12:24 AM
... I'd be interested in hearing them explain how it's done... a "Catch 22" if there ever was one. ;)

I'd also like to hear explanations from the seniors and the teachers I had that I definitely know had something extraordinary. Unfortunately, two of them are dead and the last two I'm sure would not enter into a conversation or discussion about the subject. I got cryptic things and visualizations for intent, etc. as I mentioned to you a couple of years ago. I'm doing my best to work with that and continue my practice and teaching as I was taught.

I do know what I saw Tomiki Sensei doing in 1966 and 67 that was not just mechanical connection, vectors, and timing, etc. I didn't feel his waza but I watched very carefully and have a pretty good eye. I did feel what a couple of his students could do and it felt very much like my teacher Mr. Li who I mentioned to you the last time you asked me pretty much the same question. I don't know any of Tomiki's students that are still active that seem to have what I saw him do on occasion.

I really have nothing of value to add via discussion boards to your knowledge base that I don't already teach in public to my students. I'm spending lots of time right now learning how to change what I do enough to protect a bum hip until its replaced.

Best of luck to you all in your search for more information.

Semper Fi,

Mike Sigman
08-11-2007, 06:39 PM
I do know what I saw Tomiki Sensei doing in 1966 and 67 that was not just mechanical connection, vectors, and timing, etc. Hi Chuck:

Unfortunately, I'm schizophrenic (and so am I), so I always have these conflicts going on within myself that try to argue both sides of any issue. Every argument I've ever had with physicists (during my engineering-training days), physiologists, etc., I've wound up losing when I took the position that something was outside of the normal rules of "mechanical connection, vectors, and timing", etc. My first thought, when reading your comment about things that are outside of these parameters, is "please explain how you know this". ;) How about the idea that these things do indeed fall within the normal realms, but in ways that we as westerners are not normally familiar with? In other words, what we don't know may not be so mysterious once we know what it is. Semper Fi, 2052933

Best.

Mike Sigman

Chuck Clark
08-11-2007, 08:24 PM
How about the idea that these things do indeed fall within the normal realms, but in ways that we as westerners are not normally familiar with? In other words, what we don't know may not be so mysterious once we know what it is.


I agree. I'm half rational, fairly well trained in scientific method, half artist/poet, and the other half mystic... :D

Tim Fong
08-14-2007, 12:02 AM
Here's an interview with Tomiki where he discusses the rationale behind his thinking:
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=146&highlight=Tomiki

Pranin:We’ve actually come to an important point. There’s one thing I have a hard time explaining away and I am a skeptical person by nature, I like to see to believe. I don’t like to say, “Well, you know if he raises his hand all of his opponents just fall down.” However, I have in my possession films of Ueshiba Sensei. He takes a jo about 3 and 1/2 feet long and holds it out to his side. People come and push on it and he can hold them here from the side; from a perpendicular angle! That’s one thing. Another is this. He sits with his feet crossed underneath, hands relaxed three men come close before him and try to push him over. They can’t. Now either it’s all faked or people are doing it on purpose. If it’s true though I know of no physical principle which can explain those physical feats. This is why I wonder if what happened, was all faked or if he was at a very special “place?” I’ve seen these things on film with my own eyes….

Tomiki:This problem is one of modern physical education’s muscle training. It’s called isometrics. That is to say, by pushing or pulling you train either the outer muscles or the inner muscles. When you get perfect at this form of training you can hardly see any muscle movement at all during the exercise. When you can’t see any movement you are using the muscle very skillfully. But, in the educational field if you demand a similar level of perfection then you are making a big mistake. If anyone trains sufficiently it is possible to do it to some degree, but, of course, there are limits what a human being can do. Perfection is a problem of belief. Can we call it religious faith? If we have to disrupt our partner’s psychological state through some hypnotic technique it would not be a matter of religion as we usually think of the word. I for one, take the normal point of view that education appropriate for the general public is correct and I think aikido should be something usual, or normal, as well.

I am not clear whether Tomiki is talking about the *difference* between modern weight training and the bujutsu way of movement.

But I would *guess* that he's saying that doing things in the old fashioned way takes a zealot's sense of propriety and dedication, which is beyond the needs and dedication of the majority of university students. I.e. Tomiki is concerned with developing a phys. ed. program for 4 year university students, that allows them to measure themselves safely (randori/shiai) and not in developing human weapons.

My other thought (and I hope those of you who trained with Tomiki can shed some light on this) is that focusing on the ''parlor tricks" and ki stuff can draw the wrong kinds of students. That is, you get the people who want easy answers, and who are least likely to put things to the test, even in something as simple as an in house randori practice, much less shiai.

At least if you have a randori/sports kind of program, you draw in those of a moderately practical bent. I suppose the logic would be that the most serious of those practitioners would eventually pursue the traditional ways in an effort to maximize their practice.

Ellis Amdur
08-14-2007, 12:31 AM
Tomiki Kenji
http://youtube.com/watch?v=uPhG6XA2fL8&mode=related&search=

He reportedly developed the solo exercises while a prisoner of war in Russia.

Ecosamurai
08-14-2007, 05:35 AM
In Ellis's post he mentions the hard physical training involved in developing internal skill and gives examples of it. I wonder if Ellis you think that it is possible to lose such skill as your physical strength declines or if the physical conditioning only serves as a doorway to learning it and is not needed once such internal skill is possessed by someone?

I ask because it would relate to Ueshiba in his old age and I wonder if it had an influence on the post-war development of aikido. Also because of the list of examples given in the article and my own observations, namely: my girlfriend grew up on a farm and I know from talking to her mother (who I'll henceforth refer to as my mother-in-law for convenience sake even though we're not getting married for another year..) spoke of what she calls being 'farm-fit'. She too grew up on the same farm, a small-hold which is basically a hobby farm and is completely economically pointless, it can't make a profit. What this means is that there is no money to pay for farm workers and so all the work is done by the family, probably putting in more hours than an ordinary farm worker. Around the time my mother-in-law got married and had kids she moved away from the farm and when she moved back almost 10 years later found that she was exhausted most of the time because she was no longer what she called farm-fit. Sge'd lost that physical conditioning (hence the argument that it needs to be done every day...)

This of course ties in to what Dan and Mike and others refer to as solo training. For example, we went on a hike a few years ago, my girlfriend her twin and their friend, myself and the mother-in-law. Guess who was always ahead of us up the mountain calling down to us asking if we wanted a tea break? Yup the 46 yr old woman who moves 1000s of pounds of horse around most days when she's not chasing sheep. The difference being in no way related to size (she was the lightest and smallest of us climbing that day, and of quite slight build). That's just one example I could give others.

The other reason it intrigues me is that my own teacher had many jobs as a younger man that involved hard physical work, such as working on the railways. I've often wondered how much of a factor this is in his aikido. I mean he's solid as granite when he wants to be, but also impossibly soft and like a big hole in the world too when he chooses. I wonder if the solid as granite part is more attributable to hard physical training and the void-like quality to do with the internal skills he clearly possesses.... would a similar thing affect Ueshiba in his old age (I have noted how my own teacher at 65 is becoming more and more soft and void-like when you uke for him when compared to how he was ten years ago)? Is this a common process to other teachers?

All food for thought anyway, thought I'd share it.

Regards

Mike

Timothy WK
08-14-2007, 06:28 AM
Re: "Farm Fit"---I've said this before, but normal muscle is capable of alot on its own. I've worked a number of manual labor jobs (most significantly as a bicycle messenger and loading trucks for UPS), and I can say that after a while you simply stop getting tired. There's a certain mental factor with those jobs, where you realize your body can do more than you think it can. While I was working those jobs, I was always the first man up the stairs and last to tire out, even with people who "worked out".

And that has nothing to do with the type of fascia-related skills Mike and Dan and all talk about. I'm learning to do some of that now, and its certainly different from the body mechanics I used in the past. So I don't automatically assume that "farm fit" has anything to do with internal skills.

And while I don't mean to discredit Tomiki, I have to say it's possible to execute those 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-man throws without internal skills. I've done a two man throw myself, and I've seen someone (who I don't think possesses this type of internal skill) do the larger throws as well. So I wouldn't hold that story, in-and-of-itself, as "proof" of internal skill.

Ecosamurai
08-14-2007, 06:53 AM
And that has nothing to do with the type of fascia-related skills Mike and Dan and all talk about. I'm learning to do some of that now, and its certainly different from the body mechanics I used in the past. So I don't automatically assume that "farm fit" has anything to do with internal skills.

I know it doesn't, I view those as entirely separate things. The question I'm curious about is about the distinction between the two and how much of one you need to have the other. Is this part of the same distinction you hear between descriptions of the unnatural strength and power possessed by Ueshiba from predominantly before the war and the ghost-like feeling he apparently had when you took ukemi from him later in his life when he threw people but they couldn't figure out how he did it? what are the differences and what is the overlap? That's what I'm curious about. Farm-fit, bricklaying-fit lumberjack-fit whatever is only a part of the puzzle.

Mike

Ellis Amdur
08-14-2007, 09:02 AM
Only got a few moments:
1. Mike - yes and no. The "yes" is that as we are not talking about magic, that even if we are working fascia, tendons, whatever, the muscles, if they atrophy, are going to not support movement. "No" in the idea that one remembers how to, for example, ride a bicycle years later, even if not having done so. Just my opinion, as I'm not a "how-to" authority - merely "so-I've-heard-and-am-trying-to-learn"
2. Timothy - your two man throw, or your acquaintance's more-man throw is equivalent to Tomiki if it is NOT done in the aikido environment. These were top-level judoka, who were absolutely non-compliant. Beyond that, of course, I've got no idea what Tomiki knew other than stories.
Best
Ellis Amdur

Chuck Clark
08-14-2007, 12:16 PM
Having over 30 years of pretty much daily practice of the tandoku renshu (solitary movement training) shown in that old movie footage in Ellis' post above, I can tell you that trying to imitate the movements that you see is not enough. You can imitate the outer form but if you aren't also doing the breathing, proper muscular contraction/relaxation at the right times, filling your intent with the proper "job order" (my term) as you're moving you will be doing nothing but moving around with no results.

I have seen many others who train this tandoku undo properly that demonstrate the ability to: be moving in the form and someone grabs or attempts to strike while the person continues the form, and their posture is affected by the kuzushi created at first touch in such a way that they must make an involuntary recovery of posture and the person doing the form is not affected in a way that really disturbs the form. They may change into another part of the form, but the moving force is not interrupted. Usually, the attacker says they felt overwhelming soft force that affects them strongly without warning.

I think lots of intelligent, knowledgable people could come up with explanations of how this "works" depending on how they view things. I can think of a number of things that make a lot of sense to me; many are things I've heard others say over the years. Many sound different... does this mean one is wrong and another is right due to the differences. No. Some are more right than others and I'm always willing to listen. My primary understanding is doing the work/practice as much as possible and testing it through dynamic training in the dojo with others that are always testing each other and keeping things as "clear" as possible.

In my experience of trying to express the real thing on the internet, it's not possible and the only way to get it is to latch on to people that seem to have it. There's more than a few that can do some interesting things. A good thing about the discussion of this sort of thing on the internet is... there are lots more people inquiring now and interested in looking. Kudos to all that are looking and willing to have an open mind and a bridle on their ego.

Interesting discussion, thanks.

Mike Sigman
08-14-2007, 12:31 PM
Guess who was always ahead of us up the mountain calling down to us asking if we wanted a tea break? Yup the 46 yr old woman who moves 1000s of pounds of horse around most days when she's not chasing sheep. The difference being in no way related to size (she was the lightest and smallest of us climbing that day, and of quite slight build). Sorry, Mike, but the clinical/analytical part of me needs to comment that the "lightest and smallest" actually have a much easier time climbing, running, etc. Think of the climbers, marathoners, mountain-racing-cyclists, etc., that tend to win.... they're all small and light. But your point is a good one about conditioning. Too many people neglect conditioning and think that it's all technique and secrets... it ain't. ;)

Best.

Mike

Allen Beebe
08-14-2007, 01:53 PM
Having over 30 years of pretty much daily practice of the tandoku renshu (solitary movement training) shown in that old movie footage in Ellis' post above, I can tell you that trying to imitate the movements that you see is not enough. You can imitate the outer form but if you aren't also doing the breathing, proper muscular contraction/relaxation at the right times, filling your intent with the proper "job order" (my term) as you're moving you will be doing nothing but moving around with no results.

I have seen many others who train this tandoku undo properly that demonstrate the ability to: be moving in the form and someone grabs or attempts to strike while the person continues the form, and their posture is affected by the kuzushi created at first touch in such a way that they must make an involuntary recovery of posture and the person doing the form is not affected in a way that really disturbs the form. They may change into another part of the form, but the moving force is not interrupted. Usually, the attacker says they felt overwhelming soft force that affects them strongly without warning.

I think lots of intelligent, knowledgable people could come up with explanations of how this "works" depending on how they view things. I can think of a number of things that make a lot of sense to me; many are things I've heard others say over the years. Many sound different... does this mean one is wrong and another is right due to the differences. No. Some are more right than others and I'm always willing to listen. My primary understanding is doing the work/practice as much as possible and testing it through dynamic training in the dojo with others that are always testing each other and keeping things as "clear" as possible.

In my experience of trying to express the real thing on the internet, it's not possible and the only way to get it is to latch on to people that seem to have it. There's more than a few that can do some interesting things. A good thing about the discussion of this sort of thing on the internet is... there are lots more people inquiring now and interested in looking. Kudos to all that are looking and willing to have an open mind and a bridle on their ego.

Interesting discussion, thanks.

Hi Chuck,

Shirata sensei also taught Tandoku Dosa which I have been teaching and practicing for an unnamed number of decades ( :hypno: ) and have found, like you, that there are certainly many "layers" of exploration and execution. Interestingly, my students and I have found striking similarity between the form, execution, and result of these Tandoku Dosa and those of Ark Aizawa via Rob John. (I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Mike Sigman or Dan Harden.) These exercises are continuously polished and revisited throughout one's career. They are always developing, and when there is a question that arises about a waza the answer can often be found within Tandoku Dosa. I don't know about you but, I have found, and continue to find, that every so often I make a significant new "discovery" and/or "revelation" only to recall at that moment that my teacher explicitly taught that. I was just too dense to learn.

I agree completely, BTW, about the impossibility to (really) learn much from watching a video or reading a description. Still, as you stated, I enjoy the significant contributions and discussions that take place. Sometimes just a different perspective, model, or explanation can lead one to think differently about what they do and that opens up the possibility of doing what they do differently.

However, there is no substitute for the "laying on of hands." Until that happens one can easily retain the option of being a "legend in their own mind" at worst and simply misunderstand at best.

Hope you are well.

Allen Beebe

Mike Sigman
08-14-2007, 02:07 PM
However, there is no substitute for the "laying on of hands." Until that happens one can easily retain the option of being a "legend in their own mind" at worst and simply misunderstand at best.Amen, Brudda. And we're ALL subject to the little conceits of "aha, I've got it". Been pulled up short many times, myself. The only cure is to keep getting out there and checking, preferably with the best that you can find in the art (not in one's own "peers" who are just as likely to pump air into your tires to make you feel good as you are to do the same.) ;)

Best.

Mike

Allen Beebe
08-14-2007, 02:15 PM
Too many people neglect conditioning and think that it's all technique and secrets... it ain't. ;)

Best.

Mike

Dear Mike,

I especially appreciated your last sentence. Last night I shared with one of my students that understanding how to do an exercise is good, but it isn't good enough.* I used the following "external" strength metaphor to make my point:

One might understand how to bench press effectively and one might even see some immediate power gain due to this knowledge. However, if one were to slap on an additional 400 lbs now because they understand how to bench press, they stand a very good chance of being crushed. To develop significant gains in strength and ability requires the process of training and adaptation.

Thanks,
Allen Beebe

*To whom it may outrage: I don't make any claims to internal arts (or any other art's) greatness so please spare yourself the aneurism.

Chuck Clark
08-14-2007, 02:42 PM
Hi Chuck, However, there is no substitute for the "laying on of hands." Until that happens one can easily retain the option of being a "legend in their own mind" at worst and simply misunderstand at best.

Hope you are well.

Allen Beebe

Hi Allen, I am relatively well. I need a hip replacement, but all else is going along pretty much as usual. I'm learning to adapt until the surgery and will then have to adapt to whatever those conditions are.

I'll be in Portland the 29th & 30th of next month. Get in tough with Yoko and see what the times and particulars are if you can make it that weekend. We can surely do some of the "laying on of hands..."

Best Regards,

jennifer paige smith
08-14-2007, 06:01 PM
Dear Mike,

I especially appreciated your last sentence. Last night I shared with one of my students that understanding how to do an exercise is good, but it isn't good enough.* I used the following "external" strength metaphor to make my point:

One might understand how to bench press effectively and one might even see some immediate power gain due to this knowledge. However, if one were to slap on an additional 400 lbs now because they understand how to bench press, they stand a very good chance of being crushed. To develop significant gains in strength and ability requires the process of training and adaptation.

Thanks,
Allen Beebe

*To whom it may outrage: I don't make any claims to internal arts (or any other art's) greatness so please spare yourself the aneurism.

So that's how you spell aneurism? Thanks.
This post reminds me of the adage:
"In theory, theory and practice are the same thing. In practice they are not."

to sum up my experience: jin/kon...same training; baby steps.
I enjoyed the post. Thanks again.
Jen Smith

Allen Beebe
08-14-2007, 06:01 PM
Chuck,

I'm sorry to hear about your hip. I had friend replace his recently and it began a whole new (better) life for him. I hope you find the same.

I have an infected knee at the moment. It was the size of a cantaloupe and now is the size of a softball thanks to antibiotics. Nevertheless, I'll have to see if I'm in any condition to roll with your guys by the end of next month . . . hope so! It would be great to see Aaron again too.

Take care,
Allen

Allen Beebe
08-14-2007, 06:04 PM
So that's how you spell aneurism? Thanks.

jin/kon...same training. Baby steps.
good post.

Hi Jennifer,

Actually that is how my computer spells aneurism. I really didn't have a clue!! :confused:

Thanks though,
Allen Beebe

jennifer paige smith
08-14-2007, 06:16 PM
Hi Jennifer,

Actually that is how my computer spells aneurism. I really didn't have a clue!! :confused:

Thanks though,
Allen Beebe

Ha-Ha-Ha. Knee slap.:D
Thanks,
Jen Smith

Ecosamurai
08-15-2007, 03:09 AM
Sorry, Mike, but the clinical/analytical part of me needs to comment that the "lightest and smallest" actually have a much easier time climbing, running, etc. Think of the climbers, marathoners, mountain-racing-cyclists, etc., that tend to win.... they're all small and light. But your point is a good one about conditioning. Too many people neglect conditioning and think that it's all technique and secrets... it ain't. ;)

Best.

Mike

LOL, yeah in that example it doesn't make sense, but I said there are others. You should see her throwing bales of hay around. :)

Mike

Ecosamurai
08-15-2007, 08:12 AM
Only got a few moments:
1. Mike - yes and no. The "yes" is that as we are not talking about magic, that even if we are working fascia, tendons, whatever, the muscles, if they atrophy, are going to not support movement. "No" in the idea that one remembers how to, for example, ride a bicycle years later, even if not having done so. Just my opinion, as I'm not a "how-to" authority - merely "so-I've-heard-and-am-trying-to-learn"


Ran out of popcorn watching the fight on the leather man thread so decided to waste some tea break time on this :)

The reason I mentioned this at all is because I was recently learning more about seme, lots of folks in the kendo community talk about it the same way that people here talk about Ueshiba's incredible void-like quality that I mentioned. The ability to - with little to no effort or movement - cause you to do something that results in your defeat (i.e. loss of a point in kendo or to fall or be immobilised in aikido, just for clarity)

So lately I'm thinking that if kendo doesn't have the internal aspects described so often here and if seme is the same sort of thing (perhaps even the exact same thing) as Ueshiba being a void in the mat when people attacked him in his later years then that aspect of this discussion is not about internal skill as being discussed here.

Ellis in his article mentions Ueshiba moving from lightening to void (quoting Henry Kono's experiences of ukemi with the founder). Essentially I'm questioning whether the void aspect is anything to do with all the discussion of internal skill, fascia, solo exercises at all or if it isn't the same thing as kendo people (who definitely do not train in internal skills, at least not intentionally in modern kendo though I'm willing to entertain the idea that they do it by accident perhaps, suburi/soloexercise breathing/kokyu and so on) talking abiut seme which can seem almost like a supernatural ability to bop you on the head with a shinai you never saw even move (sound familiar in the context of aikido & Ueshiba chit-chat?).

I'm also thinking of Roy Suenaka's book where he describes the difference between taking ukemi from Ueshiba (void-like) and from Tohei, in Tohei's case you felt physically tossed around like a rag doll apparently. All this would tie into the timing of Ueshiba's life and what has been observed about the early kobukan students. Ellis mention of the seminar in 1955. Physical conditioning and solo exercises and so on. Meaning essentially that old-man aikido is where you become like a ghost when people try to attack you but you need hard physical conditioning and training to achieve the prodigious power attributed to Ueshiba.

This brings me back to the question. If being void-like when being nage is the same thing as seme in kendo/kenjitsu and this is what you're aiming for. Do you need to train in internal skill in the first place. Or (the question that interests me most) do you need the hard physical training and conditioning for internal skills displayed by Ueshiba and other Takeda students to progress onto becoming void-like.

And here's the big question. Is the difference between DR and aikido tied up to being void-like? Is this the change that Ueshiba made and was aiming for? Ellis mentioned the idea that you need to be able to do DR before you can do aikido...

I'm genuinely curious to hear peoples opinions :)

Regards

Mike

Mike Sigman
08-15-2007, 08:36 AM
The reason I mentioned this at all is because I was recently learning more about seme, lots of folks in the kendo community talk about it the same way that people here talk about Ueshiba's incredible void-like quality that I mentioned. The ability to - with little to no effort or movement - cause you to do something that results in your defeat (i.e. loss of a point in kendo or to fall or be immobilised in aikido, just for clarity)

So lately I'm thinking that if kendo doesn't have the internal aspects described so often here and if seme is the same sort of thing (perhaps even the exact same thing) as Ueshiba being a void in the mat when people attacked him in his later years then that aspect of this discussion is not about internal skill as being discussed here.

Ellis in his article mentions Ueshiba moving from lightening to void (quoting Henry Kono's experiences of ukemi with the founder). Essentially I'm questioning whether the void aspect is anything to do with all the discussion of internal skill, fascia, solo exercises at all or if it isn't the same thing as kendo people (who definitely do not train in internal skills, at least not intentionally in modern kendo though I'm willing to entertain the idea that they do it by accident perhaps, suburi/soloexercise breathing/kokyu and so on) talking abiut seme which can seem almost like a supernatural ability to bop you on the head with a shinai you never saw even move (sound familiar in the context of aikido & Ueshiba chit-chat?).

I'm also thinking of Roy Suenaka's book where he describes the difference between taking ukemi from Ueshiba (void-like) and from Tohei, in Tohei's case you felt physically tossed around like a rag doll apparently. All this would tie into the timing of Ueshiba's life and what has been observed about the early kobukan students. Ellis mention of the seminar in 1955. Physical conditioning and solo exercises and so on. Meaning essentially that old-man aikido is where you become like a ghost when people try to attack you but you need hard physical conditioning and training to achieve the prodigious power attributed to Ueshiba.

This brings me back to the question. If being void-like when being nage is the same thing as seme in kendo/kenjitsu and this is what you're aiming for. Do you need to train in internal skill in the first place. Or (the question that interests me most) do you need the hard physical training and conditioning for internal skills displayed by Ueshiba and other Takeda students to progress onto becoming void-like.

And here's the big question. Is the difference between DR and aikido tied up to being void-like? Is this the change that Ueshiba made and was aiming for? Ellis mentioned the idea that you need to be able to do DR before you can do aikido...
Well, although I don't have any formal exposure to Kendo, I do have exposure to judo, aikido, and a little bit of the ju arts. Pretty much all of these arts have the same codified basics, I've found out in the last 4-5 years. I.e., the commonalities are in the basics of all of the Asian arts (we should have all been clued on this, but we missed it, when we saw all those arts displaying the same Yin-Yang symbol, for chrissakes). The "void" thing is really high-level jin manipulation and yes it is part of the elemental controls. But it's not everything. For example, a good boxer could win by, say, "slipping a punch and counter-punching". He wouldn't need much more than that, particularly against novice/moderate boxers. But against another really good fighter, he'd need a quiver full of other things, including good conditioning. So just relying on ki/kokyu skills won't do it... you should have the full-bore martial art and not just a few tricks that look good in certain demo's.

FWIW

Mike

HL1978
08-15-2007, 08:46 AM
Ran out of popcorn watching the fight on the leather man thread so decided to waste some tea break time on this :)

The reason I mentioned this at all is because I was recently learning more about seme, lots of folks in the kendo community talk about it the same way that people here talk about Ueshiba's incredible void-like quality that I mentioned. The ability to - with little to no effort or movement - cause you to do something that results in your defeat (i.e. loss of a point in kendo or to fall or be immobilised in aikido, just for clarity)

So lately I'm thinking that if kendo doesn't have the internal aspects described so often here and if seme is the same sort of thing (perhaps even the exact same thing) as Ueshiba being a void in the mat when people attacked him in his later years then that aspect of this discussion is not about internal skill as being discussed here.


The kendo folks talk about seme and the importance of moving from the hara/center. They also talk about same side same foot coordination. At a recent seminar a 8thdan talked about the importances of opening and closing the body when cutting. He also talked about the importance of the spine, and the use of what he refered to as "deep muscle". He also chastised everyone as swinging wrong, and that one should after a time, focus on improving the body as a unit rather than technique.

There is internal knowledge in kendo , just few people now about it today and more importantly while people talk about the concepts in kendo, few talk about how to train it other than 30 years of training/thousands of reps etc.

I do kendo as well, and by applying internal concepts when I execute seme (which doesn't necesscarily require a step forwards), I get a much better reaction out of people. My interpretation of zanshin as well, requires a knowedge of bodyskills.

Chuck Clark
08-15-2007, 09:01 AM
I have felt Nishioka Tsuneo Sensei, Menkyo Kaiden of Shinto Muso Ryu touch me lightly with a jo held softly (and even just with his thumb and first two fingers of both hands) and it felt like a truck just ran over me. Call it what you will. It feels very similar to what I've felt from other senior practitioners in various arts.

Timothy WK
08-15-2007, 09:05 AM
I think the "lightning" & "ghost-like" feelings are extensions of the same skills. My understanding is that first one has to learn how to internally balance one's own body. This type of internal connection imparts whole-body movement, and thus power.

But learning to connect one's own body opens the door to other internal skills, including the ability to connect into another person's body. For example, if I'm trying to push or pull my teacher's hand, he can "feel" weaknesses in my structure. He can then subtly project force into my body to exaggerate the weakness, until my balance or whatnot starts to disintegrate "on its own". So I think the "ghost-like" feeling was probably a combination of advanced skills.

So on one level, I think the shift from power to void in pre- to post-war Aikido represents a simple progression in skill, though Ueshiba probably chose to emphasize certain skills and de-emphasize others.

But the issue of internal skill and sword work brings up something I've been wanting to discuss. When I get a moment I think I'll start a new thread on the topic.

And the void-like quality is also present in high-level Daito-Ryu. To what degree it's emphasized, I can't say. But it would probably vary depending on who you talk to.

Allen Beebe
08-15-2007, 12:15 PM
The reason I mentioned this at all is because I was recently learning more about seme, lots of folks in the kendo community talk about it the same way that people here talk about Ueshiba's incredible void-like quality that I mentioned. The ability to - with little to no effort or movement - cause you to do something that results in your defeat (i.e. loss of a point in kendo or to fall or be immobilised in aikido, just for clarity)

So lately I'm thinking that if kendo doesn't have the internal aspects described so often here and if seme is the same sort of thing (perhaps even the exact same thing) as Ueshiba being a void in the mat when people attacked him in his later years then that aspect of this discussion is not about internal skill as being discussed here.

I'm genuinely curious to hear peoples opinions :)

Regards

Mike

From Japanese-English Dictionary of Kendo by the All Japan Kendo Federation, p.83 2000

semeru (v.)
To take the initiative to close the distance with the opponent with full spirit. This puts the opponent off balance mentally and physically and prevents him/her from moving freely. Examples include ki-ryoku-ni-yoru-seme (attack with the spirit), ken-sen-ni-yoru-seme (attack with the tip of the sword), and datotsu-ni-yoru-seme (attack with strikes). This enables one to maintain a constant advantage over the opponent. In kendo, it is important to intentionally attack and strike, not to just strike by chance. The back and forth action of offense and defense involved in seme (attacks) and seme-kaesu (counterattacks) not only improves the skill of both players but also develops their minds and bodies. Al of this leads to the mutual self-creation of both people and to the building of human character. See san-sappo, jujitsu-shita-kiei in Chapter II.

BTW, san-sappo means roughly "kill the sword, kill the spirit, kill the technique, and jujitsu-shita-kiei is "the state where both mind and body show full spirit."

Another favorite saying in Kendo is Ki Ken Tai Ichi.

Maybe this info, if it doesn't help to answer, will at least help clarify your question.

Allen Beebe

Mike Sigman
08-15-2007, 12:29 PM
Examples include ki-ryoku-ni-yoru-seme (attack with the spirit), Personally, I'd suggest that whoever translated that phrase into English had no understanding of Ki/Kokyu. The "Ki Power" is exactly what we've been talking about in all these posts, but since the translation uses the term "spirit" for "ki-ryoku", the meaning is totally lost.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Allen Beebe
08-15-2007, 01:06 PM
Personally, I'd suggest that whoever translated that phrase into English had no understanding of Ki/Kokyu. The "Ki Power" is exactly what we've been talking about in all these posts, but since the translation uses the term "spirit" for "ki-ryoku", the meaning is totally lost.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Translators:
Masafumi Sasaki: Vice Principal, Tokyo Metropolitan Miyake Senior High School

Shuji Shimura: Teacher, Tokyo Metropolitan Kodaira Senior High School

Unless they had some real sen sen no sen I don't suppose they read this thread before 2000. :p

I wondered if anyone would see the ki-ryoku reference. So sue me, but I decided not to translate the translation and then have to explain why I translated the translation (a whole can of worms in itself), it just seemed like too much hassle.

Haowen Chan
08-15-2007, 01:51 PM
If I may venture an opinion, I believe the translation is actually correct.

I think ki-ryoku-ni-yoru-seme (attack with the spirit) means exactly to attack with the spirit, to shatter your opponent's composure and thus create an opening. It is a mental ability (expressed through physical composure or with strong kiai, etc). I guess you can call it "to forcefully psych out your opponent".

The meaning of ki in kendo is pretty unambigously "spirit" or "mind". As evidenced in the phrase ki-ken-tai-ichi. If ki was a body skill then ki-tai ichi would be rather redundant, like saying "your internal skills and your body must arrive simultaneously"... huh? :freaky:

I do not believe that particular concept (ki-no-seme) has anything to do with body skills. Not that internal skills is not relevant to kendo, I just think it's really not part of the formal curriculum.

Edit: Some obvious applications of internal skills in kendo I can think of would include resistance to tai-atari (body-checks), stronger kensen, ability to attack without visible windup... I'm sure experts can think of more then a newbie like me.

Mike Sigman
08-15-2007, 01:54 PM
Well, I can give you tons of examples of "jin" and "qi" being translated as "energy", but that's not what it means at all, in the functional sense. For the moment, I'm going to assume that "ki-ryoku" means just what it says and that "spirit" is an interpretation rather than a translation of what the term meant. ;)

Best.

Mike

HL1978
08-15-2007, 02:14 PM
with regards to kendo:
http://www.osi.uio.no/kendo/pdf/Noma.pdf

There are some interesting points raised in this manual which seem to contradict some modern kendo teachings. anyways here are some exerpts

With a calm facial expression hold the bridge of the nose erect and thrust the chin slightly forward. As for the neck, keep the tendon at the back of the neck straight and tense the nape.
From the shoulders down maintain an even distribution of tension throughout the entire body, lower the shoulders hold the back straight and do not stick out the buttocks. Tense the legs between the knees and toes and tighten the abdomen so the hips do not bend. There is teaching that commands us to tighten the knot (of the obi) and hold the stomach in with the sheath of the short sword in such a manner as not to loose the obi.

There is also discussion a couple of times with regards to "bracing the stomach".

Walker
08-16-2007, 01:32 AM
Well, I can give you tons of examples of "jin" and "qi" being translated as "energy", but that's not what it means at all, in the functional sense. For the moment, I'm going to assume that "ki-ryoku" means just what it says and that "spirit" is an interpretation rather than a translation of what the term meant. ;)

Best.
Mike

Not to quote you back to yourself, but when someone doesn't have experience...

One point about kanji compounds -- just because you know the meaning of both parts does not guarantee that you know the meaning of the compound. The compound may be a literal combination of the two ideas, it may be one shade of the possible meanings or it could even be an obscure connection.

In this case ki ryokyu is a commonly used compound conveying ideas similar to several words in English i.e vigor, vitality, pep, spirit, pluck, mettle, drive, will power, energy (as in having the energy to do something as in kiryoku dake de = by sheer force of will). It is easily found in a Japanese dictionary.

Another point is that seme defined as attacking with spiritual and physical pressure or force is a good description of the experience of ken. What becomes readily obvious when you step into the venue of the ken is that there are levels beyond the physical issue of force that feel like mental and, I dare say, spiritual force. Hence, if nothing else, it is a description of the experience if not the reality of the matter and kendoka in my experience think and talk about seme a lot; far more than aikidoka.

Ecosamurai
08-16-2007, 05:15 AM
kendoka in my experience think and talk about seme a lot; far more than aikidoka.

I don't think that's true at all, aikidoka talk about it a lot, they just don't call it seme...

As to the rest, I tend to view seme as an extension of things that've been achieved before in terms of internal skill, things that involve training the body and mind in a coordinated fashion. I also think that a lot of people who go to a dojo say twice a week, three times a week wouldn't get it without something else being added to the mix. Unlike some I don't believe any of this is missing from aikido, just not emphasized and practised enough and in the right context. IMHO.

I believe Richard Feynmann called it a cargo cult when describing Melanesian religious activities not long after WW2:
"During the war they saw aeroplanes with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they've arranged to make things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head as headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas - he's the controller - and they wait for the aeroplanes to land. They're doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn't work. No aeroplanes land."

Regards

Mike

Mike Sigman
08-16-2007, 07:24 AM
Not to quote you back to yourself, but when someone doesn't have experience... Absolutely. And I made it clear that I was making a personal choice, not taking an insistent position that others should follow. And my choice actually a matter of "experience" in the sense that I'm now well aware that the sword arts are as chock full of the ki/kokyu skills as is Aikido.... yet the western "experts" don't seem to know much about those skills. So the gamble (and that's all I put it out there as) that the original discussions of "ki-ryoku" is more literally true than "spirit" is simply what I consider a reasonable bet; no more than that.

As an example, look at Kuroda Sensei demonstrating a couple of basic ki/kokyu skills in this YouTube video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InlQtTMK5Ys

If you go back and look at the early primer that Kisshomaru Ueshiba did on Aikido in the 70's (IIRC), he actually does a fairly good explication in general terms of Ki in the functional sense. But the western "experts" never understood what ki was, so they'd argue me to a standstill, based on their understanding from "years of experience". It's becoming clearer to a lot of people that the functional aspects of ki/kokyu have been in Aikido all along, suddenly. A lot of "experts" with many years of "experience" are suddenly in a difficult position (although it's a GOOD position for Aikido as a whole that things are moving forward).

However, my comments about sword arts is just a guess and I try to be very careful not to say something definitive that could come back to haunt me in the coming years. That's why I don't teach anything.... it turns out that these studies are pretty complex and long and anyone who sets himself up as an expert too soon could be cruisin' for a stumble. ;) One point about kanji compounds -- just because you know the meaning of both parts does not guarantee that you know the meaning of the compound. The compound may be a literal combination of the two ideas, it may be one shade of the possible meanings or it could even be an obscure connection.

In this case ki ryokyu is a commonly used compound conveying ideas similar to several words in English i.e vigor, vitality, pep, spirit, pluck, mettle, drive, will power, energy (as in having the energy to do something as in kiryoku dake de = by sheer force of will). It is easily found in a Japanese dictionary. I agree with you. I found that to be true when I started studying Japanese in 1965. Another point is that seme defined as attacking with spiritual and physical pressure or force is a good description of the experience of ken. What becomes readily obvious when you step into the venue of the ken is that there are levels beyond the physical issue of force that feel like mental and, I dare say, spiritual force. Hence, if nothing else, it is a description of the experience if not the reality of the matter and kendoka in my experience think and talk about seme a lot; far more than aikidoka. I hear what you're saying, but I'm not convinced that you're correct, simply because, as I've said, I've seen this situation already, a number of times, where entire western martial cultures have been built around mistaken translations. My instinct would be to keep my mind open.

Best.

Mike Sigman

Walker
08-16-2007, 10:30 AM
I don't think that's true at all, aikidoka talk about it a lot, they just don't call it seme...

Regards
Mike

So you are saying that aikidoka talk about attacking a lot? Given how often one hears "step off the line of attack" and "uke attacks and I tenkan" I find that hard to believe. I'm not even sure your average practitioner would be comfortable with the concept of an attacking nage at a basic philosophical level.

Mike S,
I would just say that while I believe you have to have your internal ducks in a line so to speak, that concept extends beyond the corporal body into things generally described as mind and spirit. In our practice (with Allen -- full disclosure) the venue for first experiencing those aspects is ken. We're pretty much in agreement on the bodyskills aspect. Without the bodyskills anything else is just an fragile shell to be cracked.

addn: That's cool you studied Japanese. Did you keep it up? I failed miserably with Chinese, but have been enjoying Japanese when not completely frustrated.

Mike Sigman
08-16-2007, 11:04 AM
Mike S,
I would just say that while I believe you have to have your internal ducks in a line so to speak, that concept extends beyond the corporal body into things generally described as mind and spirit. In our practice (with Allen -- full disclosure) the venue for first experiencing those aspects is ken. We're pretty much in agreement on the bodyskills aspect. Without the bodyskills anything else is just an fragile shell to be cracked. Hi Doug:

Well, like I said, I'm simply stating a preferred interpretation... although I haven't seen anything yet that persuades me that my take is even probably wrong. The functional progression would usually (traditionally) go something like external power, then ki power, then reiki (that's flaunting it), then shin. While idiomatically the connotation can develop into "spirit" (and I don't have any problem comprehending that take on it, at all), my suggestion was that originally "ki-ryoku" as a *basic tenet* probably referred exactly to ki power. They would normally do this to show that they were cognoscent of functional ki power (all styles tended to do this). If you have a style indicating a few basic tenets, where "ki-ryoku" seriously only referred to "spirit", then you would have essentially a dumb style, so to speak, and they weren't dumb. Martially I'm sure every sword style had their own approaches to functional ki usages and by elimination, I'm betting the "ki-ryoku" covered that aspect.

Of course, I could be wrong. But I'll stand on my bet. ;)
addn: That's cool you studied Japanese. Did you keep it up? I failed miserably with Chinese, but have been enjoying Japanese when not completely frustrated.No, I just meant that I understood the general formation of words/phrases and that I wasn't missing the aspect you pointed out.

Best.

Mike

Haowen Chan
08-16-2007, 11:44 AM
Hi Doug:
If you have a style indicating a few basic tenets, where "ki-ryoku" seriously only referred to "spirit", then you would have essentially a dumb style, so to speak, and they weren't dumb.

I'm sure way back in the day, the creators of kendo were true masters of old-school kenjutsu and knew what they were talking about when they said "ki'... but modern kendo is now somewhat far removed from its roots. A modern kendo master in the standard kendo context saying "ki" very likely means "spirit"; however possibly when they speak in the kenjutsu context it definitely could mean body skills.

From what I can see of modern kendo, the physical aspect can be covered with conventional muscle, but the mental aspect has levels upon levels of pure mind-skill ("spirit") which is awesome to see at high levels. Unfortunately body skills is a bit of a third wheel in this particular budo: you don't actually need all that whole-body short power to be really, really good at kendo regardless of your age, physiology etc... unlike no-rules real slice-and-dice combat kenjutsu. So in a way kendo really is a "reduced" version of kenjutsu... but training the mental game more than the physical makes it more relevant to modern life, and great fun too.

Mike Sigman
08-16-2007, 11:51 AM
I'm sure way back in the day, the creators of kendo were true masters of old-school kenjutsu and knew what they were talking about when they said "ki'... but modern kendo is now somewhat far removed from its roots. A modern kendo master in the standard kendo context saying "ki" very likely means "spirit"; however possibly when they speak in the kenjutsu context it definitely could mean body skills. I dunno, Howard.... if you saw any of the conversations on this forum a couple of years ago, some of the same offerings about what "ki" meant were made right here on this forum. Depends on what you know, how you use or interpret the term, I suspect. From what I can see of modern kendo, the physical aspect can be covered with conventional muscle, but the mental aspect has levels upon levels of pure mind-skill ("spirit") which is awesome to see at high levels. Unfortunately body skills is a bit of a third wheel in this particular budo: you don't actually need all that whole-body short power to be really, really good at kendo regardless of your age, physiology etc... unlike no-rules real slice-and-dice combat kenjutsu. So in a way kendo really is a "reduced" version of kenjutsu... but training the mental game more than the physical makes it more relevant to modern life, and great fun too.I very much disagree with that assessment. It's sort of like you're arguing that all the techniques in Aikido can be done with external strength so therefore the discussions about "ki" as anything but spirit aren't really necessary. In my personal opinion, that would rather miss the point. ;)

Best.

Mike

Haowen Chan
08-16-2007, 11:56 AM
I think you're right Mike! If we don't try to get to the roots of physical and mental power then aikido becomes dancing and kendo becomes tag with bamboo sticks. Well maybe not that bad but why see only half a movie if you can try to see the whole screen. Thanks for the reminder.

Walker
08-16-2007, 04:09 PM
If you have a style indicating a few basic tenets, where "ki-ryoku" seriously only referred to "spirit", then you would have essentially a dumb style, so to speak, and they weren't dumb. Martially I'm sure every sword style had their own approaches to functional ki usages and by elimination, I'm betting the "ki-ryoku" covered that aspect.

Of course, I could be wrong. But I'll stand on my bet.

Best.
Mike

At a certain level we are just talking about terms so no harm, but I am wondering if you take functional ki uses/ki power as subsumed under "ki-ryokyu" what then would "kokyu-ryokyu" signify as we have been discussing to this point?

Ecosamurai
08-16-2007, 04:17 PM
So you are saying that aikidoka talk about attacking a lot? Given how often one hears "step off the line of attack" and "uke attacks and I tenkan" I find that hard to believe. I'm not even sure your average practitioner would be comfortable with the concept of an attacking nage at a basic philosophical level.

Well then maybe thats just down to the way we do things where I train then. But then, I've never met an average person let alone an average aikido practitioner so I don't really know what you mean for certain.

Mike

Mike Sigman
08-16-2007, 05:03 PM
At a certain level we are just talking about terms so no harm, but I am wondering if you take functional ki uses/ki power as subsumed under "ki-ryokyu" what then would "kokyu-ryokyu" signify as we have been discussing to this point?Kokyu power is just Ki power with an additive... i.e., it is still ki-power. "Reiki" is sort of "full-blown ki but indeterminate about jin power". So you're right, it's actually a terms discussion and not much more.

The confusing thing to most people is that "ki-power" or "ki" is an umbrella term that covers perhaps too much territory. When Tohei stands solidly against a push, he calls it "ki strength" or "ki power" ("ki-ryoku"), but I would call it more "jin", since I attempt to focus/clarify a bit more.... regardless, we're talking about the same thing. "Ki" is the generic term... so the "ki-ryoku" is *probably* (IMO) derived from the functional usage of ki power and is not meant to be only "spirit" (although by extension, "spirit" can be a part of "ki").

The flippant answer to your question about when "kokyu-ryoku" is used would be to say, "Oh, you're talking about Aikido". What I would mean is that various arts call the same basic power by different names and if nothing else, that simply indicates how many centuries this sort of skill has been around.

Best.

Mike Sigman

Walker
08-16-2007, 06:08 PM
Hey, I'm all about flippant answers so I'm down with that.

It just struck me that we have two terms -- kokyu ryokyu and ki ryokyu (for which we have a definition in standard usage) -- so we needn't double up. Kokyu ryokyu for ki power and ki ryokyu for will/spirit power. Nothing lost and everything doesn't become a hammer.

Just a thought.

Mike Sigman
08-16-2007, 06:14 PM
Hey, I'm all about flippant answers so I'm down with that.

It just struck me that we have two terms -- kokyu ryokyu and ki ryokyu (for which we have a definition in standard usage) -- so we needn't double up. Kokyu ryokyu for ki power and ki ryokyu for will/spirit power. Nothing lost and everything doesn't become a hammer.

Just a thought.Well, I still, for the fourth time, concede the "maybe", but "kokyu ryoku" is not understood by most people to be a subset of "ki ryoku" (not "ryokyu"), but rather as "breath power" or "timing". I'm perfectly happy with anyone translating "ki-ryoku" as "spirit" if they want. We all have to ante up. ;)

Best.

Mike

Thomas Campbell
08-16-2007, 07:37 PM
[snip] I found that to be true when I started studying Japanese in 1965. [snip]
Mike Sigman

Do you speak and/or read Japanese, Mike?

Mike Sigman
08-16-2007, 07:39 PM
Do you speak and/or read Japanese, Mike?
I was actually moderately fluent in spoken Japanese at one time, although my reading skills were only rudimentary, Justin. Let's get back to the subject.

Mike Sigman

Thomas Campbell
08-16-2007, 11:12 PM
I was actually moderately fluent in spoken Japanese at one time, although my reading skills were only rudimentary, Justin. Let's get back to the subject.

Mike Sigman

I'm actually Thomas, Dan . . . er, sorry, Mike.

I was genuinely curious. I'm impressed, because I don't consider Japanese an easy language to master at any level. I'm studying Chinese now; it's a lot of work, and it will be a long while before I can claim even moderate fluency.

More to the point, it adds credibility to your understanding of the context of some of the Japanese terms like ki and kokyu that pervade this discussion.

Mike Sigman
08-17-2007, 07:05 AM
I don't consider Japanese an easy language to master at any level. Spoken Japanese is considered to be one of the easiest languages to learn, overall. Not that any language is "easy" or the nuances obvious, but if someone wants to at least "get by" in a spoken language, Japanese is considered a good choice.

FWIW

Mike

statisticool
08-19-2007, 08:59 AM
I was actually moderately fluent in spoken Japanese at one time, although my reading skills were only rudimentary, Justin. Let's get back to the subject.


haha too funny. :)

But like others, I'm too am curious how long you studied Japanese and Chinese. It matters because you are discussing Japanese and Chinese words and concepts.

Upyu
08-19-2007, 10:00 AM
haha too funny. :)

But like others, I'm too am curious how long you studied Japanese and Chinese. It matters because you are discussing Japanese and Chinese words and concepts.
He's got the concepts as far as they pertain to this stuff Justin (and you can take that from someone who IS fluent in Japanese, in spades ;) )

Thomas Campbell
08-19-2007, 01:06 PM
He's got the concepts as far as they pertain to this stuff Justin (and you can take that from someone who IS fluent in Japanese, in spades ;) )

Whether bellowing above the cries of salarymen in karaoke bars, or parsing acerbic commentary on obscurely-expressed physical culture and martial training practices, Rob John is the man in Japan for translation. ;)