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Peter Goldsbury
09-12-2008, 11:25 AM
INTERLUDE
IV: Iemoto and Iwama

An earlier column (Column 5) finished with O Sensei retreating to his Aiki-en (Aiki Farm) in Iwama, leaving his son Kisshomaru in charge of the Tokyo dojo. There are a number of problems relating to Morihei Ueshiba's move to Iwama and one way of putting these problems into focus is to consider Morihei Ueshiba's words and actions in relation to the war that was fought by Japan from 1937 till 1945.

On the one hand, in the previous column (Column 9), we saw that from around 1930 onwards, Morihei Ueshiba had very close links with ultra-nationalists like Okawa Shumei and showed no sign of distress at allowing the members of the Sakura-kai (Cherry Blossom Society) to meet in the Kobukan dojo and plan their revolts and assassinations for yo-naoshi (renewing the world: a constant theme in Japan from the late Tokugawa period right up until the closing years of the Pacific War). After the second suppression of Omoto in 1935, Ueshiba continued his association with a wide spectrum of Japanese military leaders and taught at various military schools. There is evidence that he taught a very rough and ready form of jujutsu: the kind that would allow Japanese soldiers to finish off an enemy at close quarters, when the weapons had failed to do so. These actions strongly suggest that Morihei Ueshiba supported both the war itself and also the way it was being fought by the Japanese military. However, all this changed in 1942 and the published writings suggest that this change was extremely abrupt.

On the other hand, in Kisshomaru Ueshiba's biography and in his own discourses, Morihei Ueshiba appears to show serious concerns about the war, even going so far as to assert that there was a serious mismatch between aikido and killing—especially killing in the kind of war being fought by the Japanese military. As evidence of his father's general unhappiness with the course of the war and his intense desire for peace, Kisshomaru writes of a secret mission undertaken by Ueshiba to China in 1941, on behalf of Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe. Ueshiba's statements about killing would also suggest that he had become a secret pacifist, but Kisshomaru Ueshiba always denied quite strongly that his father was ever a pacifist. In any case, Morihei Ueshiba hedged his bets about the war and ordered Kisshomaru, then a university student, to stay in the Tokyo battle zone and run the Kobukan dojo. He could have closed the Tokyo dojo entirely and removed the entire Ueshiba / Kobukai operation to Iwama. (Of course, had Ueshiba done this, the future history of aikido would certainly have been much more straightforward, if considerably less interesting.)

It should also be noticed in passing that what Morihei Ueshiba was teaching in the military schools up till 1942 was somewhat different to what he was teaching in the Kobukan. In the Kobukan he was training and teaching ‘pure' Daito-ryu: ‘pure' in the sense that it was the art he had learned from Sokaku Takeda. In 1942 the art received the official name of aikido, but the substance did not change from being Daito-ryu merely because of the name change.

However, it is clear that by 1936 Ueshiba had distanced himself from Sokaku Takeda, just as he had gradually separated from Onisaburo Deguchi. At the risk of over-simplification, it is plausible to suggest that the gradual change in Ueshiba's political views about the war was matched by another gradual evolution of his own training and the art he was developing. Equally at the risk of some over-simplification, it is important to emphasize that up until 1942 and for a considerable time afterwards, Father and Son were training in the same art. There is evidence that Morihei Ueshiba moved to Iwama because he wanted to focus on certain aspects of his own training. Of course, he had been focusing on his own training more or less consistently ever since the move to Ayabe in 1920, if not before, but the evidence suggests that he wanted to focus on new aspects that he had not considered before. However, one cannot make any inference from the move to Iwama that in 1942 Morihei Ueshiba and Kisshomaru had a different focus and were already pursuing different goals. (I plan to discuss the very interesting but difficult question of the technical differences between Ueshiba Senior and Ueshiba Junior in a later column.)

In this column I would like first to examine the 家元 (iemoto: family head) model of transmission / inheritance—and its competitors—and then look at how, in the case of aikido, the family succession was complicated by the de facto creation of two major centers of aikido, not one. Another way of putting this is to ask why, in 1942, O Sensei chose to abandon the Kobukan Dojo and retreat to Iwama, but nevertheless ordered his son to stay in Tokyo as head of the Kobukan and maintain the dojo—at risk of his life, if necessary. Note that I am not really concerned in this column with Morihei Ueshiba's training after the move to Iwama. The issue for me here is why he moved at the time he did, and also to what extent the move can be seen as a ‘family transmission' to Kisshomaru Ueshiba.

To focus on the matter of inheritance in aikido, I would like to look at iemoto in two other spheres. One is chanoyu / chado (the Tea Ceremony / the Way of Tea), which is a ‘traditional' art like aikido. The other is not an art at all, but a powerful intellectual movement or ideology. This is Kokugaku or National Learning, which flourished from the mid-Tokugawa period until it was snuffed out with Japan's defeat in World War II. (Wistful traces of this ideology still linger in the form of 日本人論, Nihonjinron: Studies of Japanese Uniqueness.) Transmission, inheritance and the designation of disciples and successors were often very controversial issues here. As usual with these columns, we are looking at aikido as a modern budo and attempting to place it in a broader Japanese cultural tradition, whether ‘invented' or more authentic.

1. Iemoto
This concept is highly relevant to aikido because aikido seems to be a clear example of the practice. A glance at the massive 武芸流派大辞典 (Bugei Ryuha Daijiten) will show a list of Morihei Ueshiba's students, grouped chronologically (starting with Yoichiro Inoue from the Aioi-Ryu period). Note that the Daijiten entry is listed under ‘Ueshiba' and not under ‘Aikido'. However, the very first entry in the list is a direct vertical line to Kisshomaru Ueshiba, who is listed as 二代目道主 (Second Doshu). Thus, the editors of the Daijiten did not explicitly give Morihei Ueshiba the title of first ‘Aikido Doshu'. His son Kisshomaru assumed the title of Doshu—and his father also has this title in Kisshomaru's postwar books on Aikido.

With the title of Doshu, Kisshomaru Ueshiba asumed the spiritual/technical leadership of the art—and after his death, his son Moriteru took his place. Moriteru's son, Mitsuteru, in turn, is now sometimes called Waka Sensei and is being groomed to succeed his father. So, with the Aikikai the established pattern is that the son inherits on the death of the father. It is also an example prima facie of the working of the rule of primogeniture that was a legacy of the Meiji Restoration. However, there are some complications. The present Doshu, Moriteru Ueshiba, once told me that he did not think that the transition from father to son in the Aikikai was a genuine example of iemoto. I suspect that Doshu was pointing to the fact that (1) some important aspects of iemoto were lacking in the Aikikai and (2) there were other traditional ways of ensuring the succession of a new generation besides iemoto.

As Paul Varley notes in Tea in Japan (for details, see the reading list at the end of this column) there is some difference between having a family head, whatever the name used, and iemoto as a system. In their practice of the arts, in religion and other pursuits, Japanese have commonly been organized into schools or lines (流派). These lines have sometimes been based on blood relations, more often on fictional kinship relations among unrelated members. The development of feudal institutions in the medieval age greatly strengthened this custom. The members of a school (家 ie) greatly honored its founder (元 moto) and devoted great care to the transmission of the founder's philosophy and practice. Typically, the transmission was made from master to disciple by means of 秘伝 (hiden, secret writings) and口伝 (kuden, oral instruction). The true disciple inherited the full tradition (完全相伝, kanzen soden) and thus the status of master in his own right.

The proliferation of interest in the yugei (遊芸) ‘elegant leisure arts' in the Genroku Period of the Tokugawa Era (ca.1672-1725) led to the rise of iemoto as a system. It was response to the emergence of a ‘culture of play', especially among the wealthy merchant class. Varley states that the oldest reference to iemoto is 1757, about a quarter-century after the Genroku epoch in which the system began to take form. Varley's source is a Japanese scholar, Nishiyama Matsunosuke, who argues in 家元の研究 (Iemoto no Kenkyu) that iemoto as a system in general hinges on the type of transmission. According to Nishiyama, transmission could be complete (完全, kanzen) or partial (不完全, fukanzen) the iemoto having the absolute right to decide which. The right was usually exercised by means of 名取 natori, name-taking, a ceremony in which the student received a professional name from the iemoto and became a teacher. Varley also notes that the iemoto system was "an attempt to harness—and profit from—the large new clientele for these elegant pastimes. The iemoto, once established, strictly controlled the revenue that came into his school and … became a capitalist in an age of impressive capital accumulation." (Varley, Tea in Japan, 1989, p. 173.)

If we maintain the distinction between iemoto and the iemoto system and apply this distinction to aikido, what do we find? For a start, the distinction between kanzen soden and fukanzen soden, which, according to Nishiyama, is characteristic of the iemoto system, does not really apply. There is no evidence that Morihei Ueshiba intentionally and publicly withheld specific items of hiden teachings from any of his early uchi-deshi. (I mention early uchi-deshi here, not to exclude the later deshi, but to focus specifically on the Kobukan up until 1942.) In at least one 道歌douka, Ueshiba denies that there are any such teachings.

Certainly, if we consider Morihei Ueshiba as a single iemoto, there is evidence that he attempted to find someone to marry into the family and succeed him. Thus Kiyoshi Nakakura became Morihiro Ueshiba in 1932, on his marriage to Morihei's daughter Matsuko. However, there was no formal transfer of kanzen soden, or hiden or kuden (at least, none that we know of), for this was not how Morihei Ueshiba worked. It is also odd that Ueshiba had no problems with an expert in kendo, but not in jujutsu, becoming the head of what was still a Daito-ryu school. The marriage was dissolved a few years later and Nakakura returned to kendo. Morihei Ueshiba made no further moves about a successor until he appointed Kisshomaru as head of the Tokyo dojo in 1942 and retired to Iwama. By that time, at the urging of Ueshiba's political students and supporters, the Kobukan had become a foundation, called the Zaidan Hojin Kobukai, and followed the usual pattern with such bodies in having a constitution and office-holders, such as Dojo-cho (Head of the Dojo).

Iemoto as a system, however, is much more relevant to his own major students than to Morihei Ueshiba himself. After listing Kisshomaru Ueshiba as Second Doshu, the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten lists all the main students of Morihei Ueshiba, with the schools they created and their own successors. Like Takeda Sokaku, Ueshiba was a ‘loner' and spent a long time developing and refining his own skill before thinking of transmitting it to a successor and even this he did in a rather haphazard fashion. However, with few exceptions his students created their own independent schools and organized these on the iemoto pattern.

Chanoyu: Reading the Tea Leaves
Both aikido and chado are arts and seem to bear important similarities—as can be seen from the following questions. Both are arts, fashioned from the most mundane activities: tea-drinking and fighting. Why did this happen, or rather, why should this have happened? They are similar in two other important respects: both have attracted a vast expenditure of thought concerning the utilitarian aspects of the respective art, but what could be utilitarian about such a mundane activity as drinking tea, or fighting? Note that the utilitarian aspects of chado or aikido are not primarily concerned with performing the activity in a better fashion. Rather, they are concerned with the ‘benefits' of the activity. For zen monks, drinking tea was an effective device for fending off sleep during meditation. The utilitarian aspect of the arts leads to another aspect: both arts were practiced for reasons we may term ‘spiritual' or ‘philosophical' and it is this spiritual or philosophical ‘secret' knowledge that was at the heart of the transmission in chado.

Chado as an art with iemoto can be seen most clearly from the career of Sen no Rikyu and his successors. Like Zeami in Noh, Sen no Rikyu thought about the art of chanoyu and provided a satisfactory intellectual foundation for it. He was the counterpart of Morihei Ueshiba in aikido: he transformed something that had existed before into a new art that captured the imagination. Rikyu, however, was forced by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1591 to commit seppuku (a special form of suicide that involves revealing one's hara) and his family went into exile. The Sen family was restored to favor fairly quickly, but the family learned from this experience, especially Rikyu's grandson Sotan, who became the family's iemoto from 1614 until his death in 1658. The lesson they learned was not to put all their eggs into the same basket and tie their fortunes to the whim of a single daimyo. So Sotan established family links to several local daimyo and his sons established three separate family schools which still exist today in Japan: Urasenke, Omotesenke, and Mushanokojisenke. Thus, Sen Soshitsu XV is the fifteenth iemoto of Urasenke, succeeding his father Tantansai in 1964.

Chanoyu as an art has been severely criticized and part of these criticisms relate to the iemoto system. Such criticisms are of some relevance to aikido, especially its postwar development, so they should be considered here. John Whitney Hall states the following in his essay, "On the Future History of Tea": "The other important feature of chanoyu, and other domestic art form in Japan, is that it is kept alive and rooted in a tradition through the iemoto system—the mechanism whereby a school of activity is perpetuated through the head of a family that has the hereditary right to teach the tradition of a particular style of performance. The iemoto system had been criticized on the grounds that it gives rise to inordinate formalism, that it fails to encourage creative innovation, that is susceptible to abuse, commercialization and the like. The system can give rise to all of these problems…" (Varley, 1989, p. 253.)
Whitney Hall defends the Urasenke iemoto against such criticisms, but it is easy to see how they can arise about an individualistic art like aikido (which is rooted in intense individual training, done under the guidance of someone who has more skill and experience than the student), when the art is practiced within a hereditary "tradition of a particular style of performance", to use Whitney Hall's term.

Severe criticism of chanoyu as an art arose as early as the Genroku epoch, when the tea ceremony became popular. Dazai Shundai (1680-1747) was a Confucian scholar and a disciple of Ogyu Sorai. He gave the following description of a tea gathering: "The host prepares the tea himself and presents it to his guests. Taking the single bowl in which tea has been prepared, the guest of honor drinks some and passes the bowl to the next guest in the line. If there are three guests or five guests, all drink from the same bowl and the last guest finishes the tea. The empty bowl is then returned to the guest of honor, who takes it, examines it carefully, and praises it as a rare article (chinki). He gives it to the nest guest, who examines it and in turn passes it on until it reaches the last guest. After the last guest examines the bowl, he returns it to the host. The guests all bow and express thanks to the host for showing them the bowl. Next, the bag for the bowl is examined, then the caddy, then the caddy's bag, and then the scoop. Even though none of these articles may be sufficiently unusual to warrant examination, it is proper etiquette to request to see them. And because much attention is given to preparing the charcoal in the hearth, the guests draw near and observe the host fixing the charcoal, praising what he does. They also praise the flowers in the flower vase. In short, the guests express admiration for everything they see the host do. It is flattery of the most blatant kind."
This is criticism of the tea ceremony itself, but Shundai has equally scathing remarks on the articles of chanoyu, which participants bought on the recommendation of the iemoto. "Today's tea men take filthy and damaged old bowls, whose ages they cannot know, repair them with laquer and other materials, and then use them. It is an unspeakably disgusting custom. … People today who amuse themselves with chanoyu spend vast sums of money on ordinary ceramic objects that have nothing unusual about them and no distinctive merits—and regard them as priceless treasures! Insignificant bamboo tubes are purchased for a hundred pieces of gold and are thought to be extraordinary objects. It is all quite baffling."
Shundai was a Confucian and his criticisms of chanoyu are related to the concept of 下剋上 (gekokujo, overthrow of those above by those below). For Shundai, the world of tea threatened the very order of Tokugawa society. As Varley notes, the atmosphere of classlessness at tea gatherings was particularly appealing to townsmen, who were officially consigned to a status of inferiority vis-à-vis the other classes of Tokugawa society. Another criticism made by a contemporary of Shundai was that the iemoto system had led to the proliferation of schools since Rikyu's death (including the three Senke branches), such that the tea world in Genroku was like a boat, "lost in a sea of fog without a compass".

With iemoto as a system, applied to an art like chado, there is the issue of the extent of the transmission of a body of public and secret knowledge (which, though secret, is a ‘known known', in the immortal words of Donald Rumsfeld). The issue of the relationship of master to student is a different and separate issue and it was this issue that coloured the controversy within Kokugaku of Hirata Atsutane's relationship to the Norinaga School. This issue is relevant to aikido because of the haphazard and informal way in which Morihei Ueshiba ‘designated' successors. Thus, the question of the ‘closeness' of x-deshi or y-deshi to Morihei Ueshiba has always coloured the issue of succession and some have argued that Kisshomaru should never have become the Second Doshu, on the grounds that there were other deshi who knew more and were ‘closer' to Morihei Ueshiba than he was.

Kokugaku:
Maintaining the Way, or, Japanese National Road-works
One reason why iemoto was relevant to kokugaku, or Japanese nativism, was that its main exponents established their own networks of private schools and more or less followed the iemoto pattern in doing so. First, a note on kokugaku is in order. "Kokugaku was one of the most important intellectual movements of the Tokugawa and early Meiji periods. Put simply, it represented an attempt to study Japanese antiquity and to apply its lessons in the rectification of an epoch that many believed was mired in decline…"
These are the opening words of Mark McNally's new study of Hirata Atsutane (for details, see the reading list at the end of this column) and it is not difficult to see that the ‘rectification' of the ‘epoch' was none other than yo-naoshi, once more. The leading scholars of kokugaku were: Keichu (1640-1701), Kada no Azumamaro (1669-1736), Kamo no Mabuchi (1697-1769), Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801), and Hirata Atsutane (1776-1843). The last three, especially, all followed a similar pattern of establishing their own private academies and founding a School.

Motoori Norinaga established a private academy known as the Suzunoya. The first generation of students was contemporary with the first and second generations of Kamo no Mabuchi's school in Edo. Many students of Motoori's academy established their own branch academies and so the Norinaga School comprised several hundred students. According to McNally, the Norinaga School used the iemoto system of transmission. "Despite the dominance of doto (道統) lineages in schools of Neo-Confucianism in the Tokugawa period, the iemoto system was prevalent in most of the other schools of cultural production, including nativism. It was for this reason that Motoori Norinaga chose his adopted son Ohira to succeed him as head of the Motoori household in the Suzunoya academy." (McNally, Proving the Way, p. 138.)
Like Paul Varley with chanoyu, McNally uses Nishiyama Matsunosuke, Iemoto no kenkyu, as a main source and cites Nishiyama as the basis for including nativism in the schools using the iemoto system instead of the doto lineage. McNally continues: "Since Atsutane was left out of Norinaga's iemoto system of succession, the discourse of the doto better suited his efforts to lay a claim to the leadership of nativism." (ibid.)
McNally gives an account of the "origins of Japanese discourses of succession" and locates them in "the Chinese master-student genealogies formulated during the Tang and Song dynasties." "Unlike the Buddhists, Confucians had to overcome centuries of history when asserting that the daotong (the transmission of the dao; Jp. doto), which began with the sages and early kings, was repossessed by Confucius and Mencius; subsequently, the propagation of the dao was lost from the end of the Warring States period to the Song dynasty, a span of more than twelve centuries."

The transmission was achieved differently for Chan Buddhists of the Tang & Song from the Confucians in these dynasties. The former "used the concept of ‘mind-to-mind' transfer of the dharma in the formation of their lineages, predicated on a close master-disciple relationships characterized by face-to-face contact", whereas Neo-Confucians had to rely on the "textual nature of the dao, in order to overcome the centuries of its non-transmission. However, this is where problems could arise. Song Confucians argued that "Mencius had actually left his wisdom concerning the dao in the Mencius for future generations", but that Han and Tang had misinterpreted his words and misappropriated the Mencius for their own subjective agendas. "It was only through careful study conducted within a framework of self-rectification that a scholar could apprehend the dao and revive the daotong. Careful internal disciple and rigorous scholarship were the keys to the recovery of the transmission of the dao lost since Mencius. In the twelfth century, Zhu Xi believed that his predecessor Zhou Dunyi (1017-1073) had accomplished this feat. Zhou then transmitted this knowledge to the Chen brothers, Hao (1032-1085) and Yi (1033-1107); eventually Zhu Xi himself received the wisdom of the dao, along with the moral authority that accompanied it, either through his teacher Li Tong (1093-1163) or through the study of the writings of the Chen brothers.
"Atsutane's discussion of the nativist doto closely followed Zhu Xi's account. Just as the wisdom of the dao was lost for a number of centuries after Mencius in the third century BC, so, too, was knowledge of Japan's ancient Way lost after Sugawara no Michizane (845-903)." (Above and earlier quotations from McNally, pp. 132-133.)
A detailed discussion of the scholarly arguments surrounding the lineage of the five leading scholars of kokugaku, listed above, would take us far beyond the issues being discussed in this column. However, the fifth chapter of McNally's book ("On a Dream and a Prayer") gives a vivid account of how Hirata Atsutane managed to establish himself as the successor of the Norinaga School. He did so by changing the rules of orthodoxy and by inserting himself into the new rules. McNally makes a distinction between "L-orthodoxy", which was the "philological investigations into classical literature in order to recover the ancient Way" and for which the de-facto rules of succession were those of the iemoto system, and "O-orthodoxy", which was symbolized by the doto, "in which succession was not determined by the iemoto system, but by the spiritual relationship of master and apprentice".

Since Atsutane was denied any succession in the Norinaga School through the iemoto system, he had several choices. (1) He could either reorient the direction of his scholarship to accommodate this declared orthodoxy, would might have given him a peripheral place on the margins of the Norinaga School. (2) He could simply leave the Norinaga School entirely and adopt a new scholarly identity. (3) What he actually chose to do was create a new leadership post to occupy. He focused on the ancient Way and argued that literary scholarship & textual study revealed only the minor aspects and that the Norinaga School was part of a much grander scholarly tradition of nativism. Atsutane claimed the sole leadership of this, broader, tradition, but he did so by using "O-orthodoxy", by arguing that he had inherited his wisdom from his eighteenth century predecessors (Azumamaro, Mabuchi, and Motoori Norinaga), and also from antiquity.

What was more important is Atsutane's efforts were successful. He was indeed recognized as the successor of the Norinaga School and his views of succession "transformed nativism from the narrow preservation of an iemoto lineage, as was the case with the Norinaga School, into a full-fledged tradition that transcended it. The drive to broaden the scope of nativism began during Atsutane's lifetime and was completed in the decade following his death. Norinaga had explicitly shunned attempts to expand his academy. Motoori Ohira, however, oversaw the expansion of the Suzunoya academy into the Norinaga School, despite Norinaga's reservations. Atsutane, girded by the support of a national following, claimed the leadership of nativism following Ohira's death. Thus the nativism of the Norinaga School was finally transformed into Kokugaku." (McNally, p. 178.)
Some instances of the consequences of this transformation have been noticed in the three previous columns (the expression of rural nativism in Shimazaki Toson's Before the Dawn; the use made by Deguchi Onisaburo in devising his own early Omoto doctrines; the use of Atsutane's nativist doctrines in the gradual formulation of state totalitarianism).

Tentative Conclusions
I think that more perceptive readers will not have failed to draw some very interesting parallels between the two examples discussed above, of chanoyu and nativism, and aikido. However, the present focus is on the network of Kobukan Dojo & branches up until 1942. I do not know whether the present Doshu has studied chanoyu or nativism, but I believe the discussion has shown that there is some substance to his opinion that the iemoto is somewhat limited in explaining transmission in aikido.

It is possible to see Morihei Ueshiba in the Kobukan period as an iemoto, especially since he fitted the narrow confines of this way of transmission, in searching for someone whom he could adopt into his own family. I hope it is clear that, had Kiyoshi Nakakura (a.k.a. Morihiro Ueshiba) successfully persevered in his marriage to Ueshiba's daughter, Kisshomaru would very likely have been left to pursue his own interests—and the rest, as they might say, would have been history of quite another kind.

As evidence of some kind of system, there was the spread of Kobukan branch schools, especially after the creation of the Budo Senyokai in 1932, and some of these continued after the second suppression of Omoto in 1935, but there is no evidence of any limited or unlimited transmission of a complete body of knowledge to any successor. Of course, this issue is further complicated by the question of Ueshiba's relationship with his Takeda Sokaku, but I think that the ranks that Ueshiba awarded were acknowledgments of skills and teaching ability, rather than evidence of an iemoto system. I think that it is safe to assert that none of the features of an iemoto system, as seen in the analyses of Nishiyama Matsunosuke, were put in place at least before 1948, when the Kobukai was resurrected as the Zaidan Hojin Aikikai.

2. Iwama
In fact, this famous place is no longer officially known as Iwama. The Japanese government has been pursuing a policy of merging local municipalities and the location of the dojo is now a city called Kasama. Since the passing of Morihiro Saito, the name of the dojo has also changed. The dojo where Morihei Ueshiba trained is now called the Ibaragi Branch Dojo of the Aikikai Hombu and is run by Hiroshi Isoyama. The tradition created by Morihiro Sensei is now carried on by his son Hitohiro Saito—in a separate dojo—and this illustrates another classic feature of iemoto: those who cannot accept the general framework of iemoto have no choice but to vote with their feet—to separate from the ‘main' line and start a new tradition.

The origins of the Iwama dojo go back a long way before 1942. Ten years before, the Omoto-affiliated Dai Nippon Budo Senyokai was inaugurated and a branch established in Iwama. It is known that Morihei Ueshiba had quietly been buying land in Iwama for many years before he actually moved there. One of his uchi-deshi, who came from a family of Omoto believers in Iwama, had connections there established by the Budo Senyokai and this was how O Sensei had been able to acquire the land.

Background
In an essay in Aikido Journal, entitled "Aikido in the Postwar years, 1946-56", Stanley Pranin gives an explanation for Morihei Ueshiba's move to Iwama in 1942. "Kisshomaru assumed leadership of the Kobukan Dojo in 1942 while still a student at Waseda University. The founder had retired to Iwama this same year at a time when operation of the dojo became very difficult due to the negative progression of the war and, especially, the fire bombing of Tokyo."
In another article, entitled the "The Kobukan Era, Part II", something similar is stated: "The Kobukan Dojo era actually comes to an end with the withdrawal of Morihei to Iwama, Ibaragi Prefecture late in 1942. This was a particularly difficult time, not only for the founder, but for all of Japan as the major cities were undergoing frequent air attacks that made carrying out any semblance of a normal life an impossible task."
Mr Pranin is a formidable historian of aikido, but there is something odd about the chronology here. (In Stan's defence, however, I have to admit that he is not the only one to have the idea that the war reached a serious stage in 1941. Kisshomaru Ueshiba also makes the same statement on p.255 of his biography of the Founder and he actually mentions B-29s in the next sentence.) Obviously, the B-29 bomber loomed very large in the popular imagination of the Japanese who lived in the mainland during the war and from the chronological chart, given below, it is not difficult to see why. The aircraft was the terrifying instrument of fire and destruction on Japanese cities that were bereft of any effective air defences.

However, it has to be stated that the first major fire bombings of Tokyo occurred in February/March 1945, almost three years after the move to Iwama, so they could not have been a reason for the difficulties in the operation of the Kobukan or the move to Iwama (unless Morihei Ueshiba was miraculously prescient—see below). Until the construction of the B-29 heavy bomber, the US did not have the means to subject Tokyo to heavy bomb attacks. The year 1942 was indeed the year that the B-29 made its maiden flight, but by January 1944 only one hundred planes had been made (though one thousand had been manufactured by December of the same year). However, in the early days the planes had to operate from India and China and it was not until the successful invasion of Pacific islands closer to the Japanese mainland, like Saipan and Tinian in the Marianas—which were not secured until the middle of 1944, that B-29s could fly to Japan and back with a full bomb load (eight tons of incendiary bombs).

The year that Morihei Ueshiba moved to Iwama saw the Battles of Coral Sea and Midway—and the beginning of the end for the Japanese empire, but it would have been anathema for any Japanese to utter such sentiments, including O Sensei. Thus, perhaps we should begin this discussion with a very brief chronology of the Second World War and aikido, with special reference to Morihei Ueshiba and the bombing of Japanese cities.
1940 August - Konoe Fumimaro proclaims 八紘一宇 (Hakko Ichiu)
This means ‘eight cords, one roof' or ‘all the world under one roof'. Used by the radical Kita Ikki to justify Japan's destiny to bring peace to the world, by force, if necessary, the phrase was also used by Konoe to proclaim that the basic aim of Japan's national policy was "the establishment of world peace in conformity with the very spirit in which our nation was founded."
1940 August - Launch of Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
1940 December - O Sensei's First Series of ‘Visions'
1941 Between March & October - Prince Konoe secretly sends Morihei Ueshiba to China
1941 December - Bombing of Pearl Harbor
1941 December - 大東亜戦争 : Great Pacific War begins
1942 April - Demonstration to mark 10th anniversary of Manchukuo
Kisshomaru Ueshiba mentions this demonstration in his biography. This was the demonstration where Hiroshi Tada heard about Ueshiba's ‘high-voltage' waza.
1942 April - B-25 Doolittle raids on Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Kobe
These raids caused negligible damage, but had a pronounced psychological effect, for the Japanese air defenses did not shoot down a single American plane. The humiliation caused by this violation of ‘sacred airspace over the imperial capital' led to the planning of further offensive operations, all unsuccessful.
1942 May - Battle of Coral Sea
1942 June - Battle of Midway
1942 ? - Dai Nippon Butokukai approves ‘Aikido' as the official name
1942 December - O Sensei's Second Series of ‘Visions'
1942 ‘Late' - Morihei Ueshiba moves to Iwama
1943 March - Japanese retreat from Guadalcanal
1943 April - Admiral Yamamoto, who planned Pearl Harbor, shot down
1943 November - Various islands in the Central Pacific overrun by US
1944 July onwards - Saipan, Tinian overrun by the US
1944 July - Loss of Saipan leads to resignation of Gen. Tojo
1944 November - US decides to use incendiary (napalm) bombs
1945 January - Curtis LeMay takes over 21st Bomber Command
1945 February - US forces land on Iwojima
1945 February 25 - First fire bombing of Tokyo by B-29 bombers
1945 March 10 - 334 B-29s bomb Tokyo
1945 April - Okinawa captured by US
1945 May - Japanese army defeated in Burma
1945 May 23 - 520 B-29s bomb Tokyo
1945 May 25 - 524 B-29s bomb Tokyo
1945 May 29 - 450 B-29s bomb Yokohama
1945 July 8 - 497 B-29s bomb Sendai etc
1945 July 12 - 506 B-29s bomb Utsunomiya etc
1945 July 24 - 599 B-29s bomb Osaka & Nagoya
1945 July 28 - 562 B-29s bomb Tsu
1945 August 1 - 766 B-29s bomb Nagaoka
In all, B-29s destroyed a total of 66 Japanese cities and the bombings killed almost as many civilians as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. I think this accounts very adequately for the image of the B-29 aircraft in the popular imagination of older Japanese. Thomas R Havens, in his book Valley of Darkness, gives a very clear and poignant account of the effects of the bombings in Chapter 10, which is entitled, "Enduring".
1945 August 6, 9 - Atomic-bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki
1945 August 9 - Soviet Union invades Manchuria
As a result of this invasion, Kenji Tomiki and Shigenobu Okumura were imprisoned as POWs and were not repatriated till a few years later.
1945 August 15 - Japan surrendersKisshomaru Ueshiba and a friend go to the Imperial Palace and see distraught Japanese prostrate and unable to comprehend what has happened. It is at this point that Kisshomaru, aged 25, has the dream of taking aikido to the victor nations, to show that, despite the war, there is still something ‘good' in Japanese culture, namely, the art that his father created.

The later pages of Alvin D Coox's summary of the Pacific War (see Reading, below) give a clear picture of ‘Japan in extremis'. One paragraph is worth quoting in full. "Public pessimism was taboo, but privately Japanese military leaders were far from sanguine. Despite boasts for a successful defence of the home islands, they had no real confidence of defeating second and third waves launched continuously, even if the American initial landing could be frustrated. When they appraised conditions objectively and concretely, the high command officers sensed that it would be impossible to defeat the invasion because Japan lacked ammunition, weapons and foodstuffs. Increasingly they realized that only one battle, the struggle for Kyushu, could ever be waged in practice. Lt. Col. Fujiwara Iwaichi summed up the army's outlook in the summer of 1945:
‘Relying for the most part on the suicidal bravery, ardent patriotism and fierce loyalty of the people, Japan prepared to wage the final decisive battle against an enemy far superior in both technical resources and manpower. In spite of the odds building against them, the Japanese people well knew that if their leaders were determined to carry out decisive combat on the sacred soil of the homeland, there was no alternative but to fight to the bitter end.'
Added an Imperial General Headquarters staff officer: ‘We merely prepared for the final operations with the philosophy that we must fight in order to glorify our national and military traditions, that it was an engagement that transcended victory or defeat." (Coox, in the Cambridge History of Japan, Vol. 6, p.372.)
The sentiments of the GHQ staff officer are what caught my attention in this passage. The phrase, ‘an engagement that transcended victory or defeat', is precisely how Morihei Ueshiba characterized his aikido. For Ueshiba, any martial encounter was ‘transcendental', in the sense implied by the staff officer, but for different reasons. We do not know to what extent he was prepared to use this ‘transcendental' budo expertise, which he had been developing in Iwama from 1942 onwards, "for the final decisive battle": to destroy any American invaders who strayed as far as his dojo. Actually, the tradition of tragic failure as something noble goes a long way back in Japanese culture (for reading, see below).

Eventually Kisshomaru had to give up the struggle in Tokyo, in large part due to his great efforts to keep the dojo free of fire damage, for it eventually came to be used as a place of refuge for those whose houses had been burnt down. So Kisshomaru joined his father in Iwama and quietly continued training until conditions were right for a return to Tokyo.

Why 1942?
So the question remains. Why did Morihei Ueshiba move to Iwama in 1942? I think the first place to look for an answer is Ueshiba's own discourses and in the accounts written by his son. We will examine these in order. The reason for the order should become clear, as we proceed.

Morihei Ueshiba's Discourses:
1. 合気神髄
In a new book entitled, The Secret Teachings of Aikido, there appear the following two paragraphs, which are worth quoting at length. I begin with the translation by John Stevens because this is what most non-Japanese will encounter. The passage appears on pp.95 & 96. "Heretofore, budo was concerned with training in physical forms, but now training in spiritual forms is more important. If you lack a mind set on love, you can never accomplish any great techniques. The stance of love is that stance of seigan[triangular posture used in the martial arts]. In Japanese budo we do not try to force an opponent to move. Budo is based on the principle of non-resistance, a principle of the spiritual world—this is nenpi kannonriki. The secret of bu is that it has no forms. The heart must be free and ki must be fully charged.

All this was imparted to me by the deity Sarutahiko on December 16, 1942, between 2.00 and 3.00 in the morning. All the gods of Japan gathered and brought aiki truly into life, fostering universal spirit and sho chiku bai swordsmanship. The double-edged sword of heaven and earth was manifest; that sword symbolizes the spiritual movement that works to purge the world of filth and corruption. To accomplish this, first that terrible war had to end. I was entrusted with a tremendous task: the gods instructed me to construct a 36-mat aiki jinja in Iwama. Then the atomic bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the emperor called an end to the war. Since then Japan has been tied together by aiki. The true budo of the gods has been restored. Within the powerful name of Ame no murakumo kuki samuhara ryu-o all the techniques are contained. It is in your blood. As for me, I am an incarnation of Izunome no mikoto[the spirit of reformation and renewal]."
For those who would like to study the Japanese, I present the text that Mr Stevens has translated. The text is to be found in 合気神髄 (Aiki Shinzui), pp.129-130. The same sentences as those above are highlighted in bold type (by me, of course, not by Mr Stevens).今までは形と形の物すれ合いが武道でありましたが、それを土台としてすべてを忘れ、その上に自分の魂をのせる。自分に愛 の心が無かったら万有愛護の大業は 成りがたく、愛のかまえこそ正眼の構えであります。無形の真理、日本の武道は相手をこしられてはいかぬ。無抵抗主義、こ れこそ霊界の処理法であり、念彼観 音力と申します。武の極意は形はない。心自在に生ず。気は一切を支配する源・本であります。

このことはすべて猿田毘古の大神お導きにして、昭和十七年十二月十六日、午前二時より三時の間、日本中神々現れて 合気の出現を寿ぎたまり。大和魂の錬成、松竹梅の剣法、天地合体して両刃の剣、精神の発動によって世の濁りを洗う。それには第一にこの大東亜戦争を止めさせねばなりません 。あまりにいうことが大きいのではじめお受けしかねましたが、各地からいうて来るので、御神意により、岩間に三十六畳敷の合気神社を建てました。や がて広島、長崎に原爆落ち、いよいよ決意を固めた時、陛下より宣言があって戦争終了。それ以来、日本のことはみな合気を 結んであります。神ながらの道と興 武を行って復興すべし。天の村雲九鬼さむはら竜王、この御名の中に合気の技ことごとく含まれ、汝は血緑結んでおるぞよ。 すなわち私が伊豆能売命になったわ けであります。伊豆能売とは経魂たる荒、和、二魂の主宰する神魂を厳の御魂といい、厳瑞合一したる至霊魂を伊豆能売の御 魂というのです。Aiki Shinzui is a collection of articles written by Morihei Ueshiba and published well after the war in the Aikikai's newspaper Aikido Shimbun. The question about this remarkable passage—in which Morihei Ueshiba recounts some kind of vision that took place around 2 am on December 16, 1942, wherein he was commanded by the deities to build a 36-mat Aiki shrine in Iwama—is to what extent it has been altered by those who edited the discourses for publication. The fact that there is a similar passage, from a different source, but recounting much the same episode, suggests that any editing did not affect the general truth of the original—that Ueshiba correctly recounted a vision or visions that he had experienced.

2. 武産合気
The similar passage is in the volume entitled Takemusu Aiki, edited by Hideo Takahashi for the Byakko Shinko-kai. Actually, this passage is much longer and follows on from the passage in the same discourse quoted in an earlier column (see Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 7). Both passages are from the lengthy discourse entitled「私の合気修業方法」 ("Watashi no Aiki Shugyo Hoho": "My Method of Ascetic Training in Aiki"). Here, Morihei Ueshiba recounts almost precisely the same experience as that recounted above. However, in this account the vision took place on his birthday, December 14, 1940 (November 16, in the "old way of reckoning"). What follows below is the continuation of the passage quoted in the earlier column. I give the Japanese text (pp.127-132) and then an English translation, in numbered paragraphs. I have also added some notes, where relevant. When in doubt, I have chosen accuracy, rather than elegance. To my knowledge, this text has never been translated before, but I think it is of some importance for understanding why O Sensei moved to Iwama. The section quoted here is in three main parts: (a) general discussion of aikido; (b) discussion of the war; (c) description of the ‘visions'. Of course, it will be clear from the contents that Ueshiba made these statements long after the events he describes took place.

A - General Discussion of Aikido 1. つまり自己に与えられた天命を行うことであります。自分の使命を行っているということが、国のためになっていれば結構なことだと思う。自分の使命の遂行よりない。国のため 世のためと言葉に出した折りには汚れる。自分のつとめを完うすればよいのです。つとめが神になっていれば、これは幸いである。
In other words, (the purpose of aikido) is to carry out the will of heaven that has been assigned to oneself. As for the having of one's own personal mission, if this is for the sake of the country, I think this is a good thing. There is nothing that comes before the execution of one's personal mission. (Alternative: There is nothing that one can do except execute one's personal mission.) However, on the occasion of this being put into words, uttered for the sake of the country or society, this is impure. If one can accomplish one's own mission, this is good. If the execution of one's own mission becomes a ‘kami', then this is happiness/good fortune.
NOTES:
(a) This paragraph seems to me to be a general statement about the goals of aikido, as O Sensei saw this when he lectured to the Byakko Shinko-kai.
(b) The Japanese sentence in bold, above, is different from that quoted in Kisshomaru Ueshiba's biography. In his biography (p. 38), Kisshomaru wrote:「国のため世のためと言葉に出した祈りには汚れる。」「祈り」= (to pray) and「折り」= (occasion) are quite different in meaning. In Kisshomaru Doshu's version, the translation would be something like:
However, if this is put into words, uttered as a prayer for the sake of the country or society, this is impure.
Readers can judge for themselves about the context, but I have to emphasize that Kisshomaru Doshu changed the original text.
(c) Much time was spent pondering over the final sentence, about 「つとめが神になり」. I eventually decided that O Sensei probably had in mind the state of enlightenment that comes from a training regime such as the one that he followed, where the kami ‘takes over' and ‘consumes' one. An analogous phrase occurs below . 2. 一国を侵略して一人を殺すことではなく、みなそれぞれに処を得させて生かし、世界大家族として集いとなって、一元の営み の分身分業として働 けるようにするのが、合気道の目標であり、宇宙建国の大精神であります。これが明治御大帝の大み心であったと、今日なお 仰いでおります。
The goal of aikido is not invading a country and killing someone. Rather, it is to enable everyone to go forward in life, with each person having his own place, so that there may be a gathering together of a ‘one-world family', so that all may be able to work as specialized branches of the unitary operation (of the universe), leading to the ‘Great Spirit that Builds the Universe Nation'. This was the august wish of His Majesty the Meiji Emperor and it is still to be respected today.
NOTES:
(a) The paragraph begins with a negative statement that parallels the positive statement that began the previous paragraph (the subject is understood from previous paragraphs). The negative statement is quite remarkable, coming as it does from somewhat who has spent a number of years teaching soldiers to do precisely the opposite of this.
(b) This is followed by a much more all-encompassing view of aikido, which is directly related to the aims of the Byakko Shinko-kai, a religion which, like Omoto (from which it is an offshoot), has the aim of revealing and fostering the ‘unitary operation' of the universe.
(c) The reference to the Meiji Emperor is unusual. 宇宙健国 (宇宙 = universe; 健 = constructing; 国 = country or nation). It is an early and very general expression of yo-naoshi (renewing or reconstructing the world), that was a key feature of thinking in Japan from late Tokugawa onwards. The whole creation of Omoto is based on one expression of this thinking. 3. 絶えずこの祈りによって争いをさせんようにする。だから合気道は試合を厳禁している。がその実は大なる愛の攻撃精神、和合、平和への精神で ある。
Without ceasing we must stop violence in conformity with this prayer. Accordingly, aikido strictly forbids competitive matches. In fact (= that reality is that) aikido embodies the ‘attacking spirit' of Great Love; it embodies the spirit that seeks harmony and peace.
NOTES:
(a) The ‘prayer' is clearly the content of the previous paragraph, about the gathering together of the ‘one-world family'.
(b) It is striking that Ueshiba immediately equates the strict prohibition of sporting contests in aikido with the strict prohibition of invasions and killing in aikido.
(c) The connecting thought is also unusual. Is a ‘metaphysical conceit'—"two heterogeneous ideas yoked by violence together", of the kind favored by 17th century English poets like John Donne and George Herbert. 攻撃 (ko-geki) really is an attack: it is the kind of thing that the Japanese Navy did at Pearl Harbor. The 精神 of the attack—the spirit that drives the attack / attackers—was also considered crucial to the success of the attack. However this attacking spirit is of 大なる愛: love that is great. 4. それがために自己の愛の念力(念彼観音力)をもって相手を全部からみむすぶ。愛があるから相手を浄めることが出来るのです。
Because of this, we intertwine and tie ourselves together with the opponent in every respect with the spiritual power of our love (nenpi kannonriki: concentrate yourself on the power of Kannon: Goddess of Mercy). Because it is love, the encounter can purify the partner.
NOTES:
(a) The explanation continues with the consequence, drawn from the ‘conceit' in the previous paragraph. The alleged power is similar to the power of the Kannon Bodhisattva, invoked in the sutra. The entwining and tying can result in the purification of the partner (相手 being a very general term that can mean opponent, partner, companion etc.).
(b) The phrase念彼観音力 (nen-pi-kan'-on-riki) is a refrain in the sutra to the Kannon (Avalokitesvara) Bodhisattva, one of the Jusan Butsu: Thirteen Buddhas of the Shingon School. 5. 合気は自由を束縛するのではない。すべての悪い心を祓い浄めて、すべての縛つまり因縁の縛、自分の行いの上よりきた縛、 すべての精神よりき た縛を悉く解くのです。即ち自己の使命をつとめ上げることです。これは五井先生のみ心そって祈りの実を結ぶ事です。
Aiki is not intended to shackle freedom. By purifying all bad spirit(s), aikido unties completely all bonds, including the bonds of fate, the bonds that derive from one's deeds, the bonds that derive from everyone's spirit. In other words, it is something that achieves and completes one's personal mission. This achieving and completing of one's personal mission is the fruition of the prayer that is married to Goi Sensei's spirit.
NOTES:
(a) These discourses were delivered to the Byakko Shinko-kai, so it is appropriate that the final statements in this general explanation of aikido ascetic training should mention Masahisa Goi, who was thought by O Sensei especially to understand his ideas.
(b) Goi believed in the spiritual power of prayer, specifically a particular prayer for world peace. Goi believed that the prayer was effective in purifying the "atmospheric air surrounding us", itself creating an "area overflowing with peaceful energies".
"What we refer to the thoughts of each individual become vibrations and circulate around the universe. These thoughts gather together to form the destiny of mankind. Therefore, the thoughts of each and everyone of us, without a doubt influence the destiny of the human world, in a greater or lesser way."

Since Goi's specific prayer for world peace "vibrated in harmony" with the divine world from which it originated, it was "thought to be especially powerful in counteracting the disharmony brought about by evil intentions". (Quotations from Robert Kinsala, Prophets of Peace, p. 66.)
(c) Goi's prayer would bear fruit in the "achieving and completing of one's personal mission", which was actually aikido, which "purified all bad spirits" and "completely untied all the bonds" which shackled one's freedom. 6. 今迄の私の武の奥意は一剣に生殺与奪の力を集め、相手を自己の想うままにして、栄えの道と喜びの道の案内をすることで あった。合気道には時 間も空間もない。日本の神代からの歴史は悉く自己一身のつとめの中にあるのであす。
Until now the secret principle of my martial training was to accumulate the power to give or take away life or death by the sword. It was the arbitrary control of opponents and the creation of a roadmap for my path to brilliance and to joy. Aikido is beyond time and space. Its history from the age of the gods in Japan is found completely in the personal mission of each and every individual. (Alternative: Within the personal mission of each and every individual is to be found, complete, its history from the age of the gods in Japan.)
NOTES:
(a) Ueshiba now contrasts his thoughts on aikido at the time he had these thoughts with his previous martial training.
(b) Ueshiba places great emphasis here on aikido as being outside time or space. It seems to me that this rather bald statement is intended to contrast with the first statements about the specific (and narrow) circumstances in which Ueshiba originally conceived of his budo training, purely understood in terms of personal brilliance and prowess.
(c) This emphasis changes. Rather like all the individual thoughts and prayers of Masahisa Goi, aikido is seen by Ueshiba to be the summation of all individual aikido ‘lives': the fulfillment of the personal missions of each individual who ever lived. 7. 又この世は国の各機関の命令によって行っていました。もとはいつか斬ることを教えて自己の攻防のみとなり、攻が主となっ てしまった。これは 魄が主であったからであり、時の勢いでもあり、人類に与えられた大きな修業の道でもあった。
In addition, at this time I acted in accordance with the demands of various bodies/organizations in the nation. At first, I was teaching ways of killing and offence and defence solely in relation to oneself, and attacking became one's principle aim. This was mainly because the focus was the body (carnal part of the soul). This was the trend of the times and this fact (the fact that it had this focus) also constituted a major challenge to the mass of humanity. (Alternative: This was the trend of the times and this fact [the fact that it had this focus] also had a major appeal for the mass of humanity.)
NOTES:
(a) The first statement expands Ueshiba's early ideas of martial training and specifically alludes to his teaching of killing techniques to the military.
(b) Ueshiba alludes once more to a distinction summed up in two different ways of writing a certain Chinese character, 魄 and 魂, both with the meaning of ‘soul'. (This was briefly discussed in Column 7.) Of course, this distinction was brilliantly ambiguous, based as it is on two different ways of writing a Chinese character, that is read the same way anyway, but which have connected—but opposite, meanings.
(c) The last two sentences are unusual and I have translated them as above, on the advice of a Japanese native speaker. Either interpretation indicates that Ueshiba saw a major problem in the attitudes and martial activities of the Japanese military establishment, and that these attitudes and activities either constituted a major problem (for Ueshiba himself), or had a wide popular appeal (for the mass of humanity). The second interpretation, of course, does not remove the personal problem for Ueshiba. Again, this is another example of Morihei Ueshiba's ambiguity in Japanese, this time, from the sentence content and structure. 8. 戦争が終って、人々に平和への望みが満ちてきた。原子力も平和産業に利用されるようになり、そして合気道も、政府上司の 命令で ″進め″と いうことになった。それは私が愛を常に説明していたから、それを記した私の手帳も方々に落ちていただろうから、調べたの でしょう。だから、″今度は愛の競 争に立った″と笑ったことがある。
With the ending of the war, people have devoted their energies to the pursuit of peace. The peaceful use of nuclear power came to be accepted and Aikido also came to "flourish" at the demands of government bodies. To which I continuously gave explanations about love. These were recorded in my notebook and this also fell into the hands of many others, who probably investigated the matter. So, I laughed, with the words, "From now the striving of love has arisen."
NOTES:
(a) It is obvious that Ueshiba did not have these thoughts in 1940, when he had the visions described below. He is reflecting on the postwar growth of aikido, but also insisting on his own vast vision of aikido as love. The last few sentences indicate to me that his explanations fell on somewhat deaf ears.
(b) It is curious that the said notebook has never come to light and one wonders who carried out the "investigations".
(c) Notice the contrast with Ueshiba's earlier injunction against competitive matches in aikido. The term here is 競争, best translated as ‘striving' or ‘rivalry', which he never condemned.

B - Discussion of the War 9. 時が前後したが、大東亜戦争もようやく激しく、敗色がこくなってきた。この戦争を止めさすべく、私に神示があった。
If we go back to the war, the Great Pacific War was becoming progressively more severe and Japan seemed likely to lose. The deities gave me a divine command, in order to make me stop this war.
NOTES:
(a) It is also very unlikely that Ueshiba had these thoughts in 1940, when he had the visions recounted below. The Great Pacific War is the name for the contest between Japan, the US and her allies, that was declared in 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbor. There were military commanders like Yamamoto Isoroku, who believed that the contest between Japan and the United States was an unequal contest right from the very beginning. However, these thoughts were always expressed within a tatemae (approved political and conceptual framework), which held that the United States lacked the will (‘fighting spirit') for a major world war and that Japan really had the power to force the US to a quick bilateral peace, after which it could easily deal with Britain. As I have suggested from the chronology given above (earlier in this column), the major turning point was 1942, with the battles of Coral Sea and Midway, but in Japan, it was anathema to give even the slightest hint of a suggestion that Japan would probably lose the war. So Ueshiba could never have made these thoughts public, even if he actually had them in 1940. Valley of Darkness, by Thomas R H Havens, gives a vivid picture of what the war meant for the average Japanese at home, as also does Kiyosawa Kiyoshi in his secret wartime diary. Kiyosawa's diary extends from December 9 1942 until 5 May 1945. Thus it starts around the time of Ueshiba's departure for Iwama. The whole point of Kiyosawa's diary is that it is a diary: a collection of private thoughts that he would never dare to make public.
(b) The final sentence is breathtaking for its audacity, until we remember Ellis Amdur's (convincing) arguments that Morihei Ueshiba thought of himself as an avatar, a sole warrior fighting for the Budo of Love, but on the Floating Bridge of Heaven, and so quite divorced from the ordinary rank and file ‘infantry' in the average dojo. 10. ついでにここで申し上げておきます。
I would like to take this opportunity of explaining more detail.
11. 「世界の同胞はみな困っている。若い者は次々に死んでゆく。この戦争を止めさせるのは只一つある。つまり国土の因縁罪障 の処理が出来ず今日 に及んでいる。その時に神は汝に神つけるから、汝の一身によって果し、戦争を止めるように進め」と神示が現れた。しかし そんな大きなことは出来ないと信じ なかった。
The command was, "Everyone in the human brotherhood of the world is suffering. Young people are dying one after another. There is only one way to stop the war. Up till today not all karma of cause & effect in Japan have been managed properly. For this to happen we (the deities) give you divine power. Thus you yourself have to work to stop the war." In fact, I didn't believe that I could not perform such a great task.
NOTES:
(a) More statements follow, equally breathtaking for their audacity. As a remedy for the ‘improper management' of some of the ‘karma of cause and effect', Ueshiba himself has to assume the powers of a deity and do what has proved impossible so far. [Compare A 1 (c).]
(b) When I first translated the final sentence, I erred on the side of ‘rationality' and thought that Ueshiba believed he was not capable of performing such a task. My Japanese student corrected me about Ueshiba's double negative. Like a deified Superman, Ueshiba believed he could do it. 12. 丁度広島長崎に原爆の危険があることをすでに神様からきいて前知していた。しかしそんなことをみなにいったとてしょうが ない。自分の身を亡 ぼすもとであるので、ただ黙って行いだけをしようと思った。
Since I had also heard from the deity that there was a danger of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I knew (this) before it happened. However, I thought there was no way of telling everybody about such an event. I thought I would play my role in silence, so that I could protect myself.
NOTES:
(a) This is a remarkable statement. Ueshiba notes that he was made aware in advance of the "danger" of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but that he had no way of telling anyone. The only recourse was to keep silent and carry out the deity's instructions (of building the dojo / shrine in Iwama).
(b) The question inevitably arises about Ueshiba's prescience of the atomic bombings. The evidence presented earlier in this column suggests that the mass aerial bombing of Japan's major cities did not take place until1945, almost five years after this 1940 vision was alleged to have taken place. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were spared the fire-bombings, but there is no way (short of divine intervention, of course) that Ueshiba could have known in 1940 about American intentions concerning the atomic bombing of these cities. So we have no indication of what kind of "danger" Ueshiba had in mind.
Of course, if divine intervention is to be taken seriously, this leads to a serious moral issue (for westerners like myself). If Ueshiba had such knowledge, why did he protect himself by not making it public? Where was his sense of responsibility to the prospective victims? Of course, there is the problem of publicly speaking out in a society that was becoming progressively totalitarian and fascist, but it seems from this discourse that he dismissed this possibility. 13. 猿田毘古大神は「速やかに宮と武産合気の道場(三十六畳の浄めの道場)を建てよ」といってこられた。そのご教示によって 自分の疎開した土地 (茨城県岩間町)にほんの小屋であったが建てた。
The deity Saru-ta-hi-ko-o-kami appeared and spoke to me. "Without delay build a shrine and dojo for Takemusu Aiki (a 36-mat sacred dojo)." In accordance with the instruction I built (the shrine and dojo) on land to which I (had) retreated in the town of Iwama, Ibaragi Prefecture, where I had just a small house.
NOTES:
(a) As stated elsewhere in this column, Ueshiba had been buying land in Iwama and paid frequent visits there. There was a dojo (that had formed part of Onisaburo Deguchi's Dai Nippon Budo Senyokai until Omoto was suppressed in 1935). In many places aiki-budo training continued in some of these dojos, even after the suppression had severed the links with Omoto. There is no reason to suppose that training stopped here.
(b) The divine command was to build a shrine and a 36-mat ‘sacred' dojo on the land Ueshiba had acquired. This in itself is sufficient to explain why Iwama was so special for Morihei Ueshiba. 14. こういう目に見えないことであるので人には話せない。今もその心で進んでいる。只猿田毘古大神に建てさせられたのであ る。その折には猿田毘 古大神は「皇大御神の命もちて」と神示にいわれました。
I could not speak to people who (because they) could not see with these eyes (sc. the things that I saw). Even now I still have the same attitude (about not speaking to people about this). The fact is that Saru-ta-hi-ko-o-kami had required me to build (the shrine). On this occasion Saru-ta-hi-ko-o-kami instructed me, ‘The command I have given you is the command I received from the Great Deity of Ise.'
NOTES:
(a) In actual fact, the command of Saruta hiko o kami to build the shrine and dojo was actually a command received from a much more eminent deity: Amaterasu o mikami, the Sun Goddess herself.
(b) It should be remembered that Ueshiba is addressing a group of Byakko Shinko-kai believers, who were followers of Masahisa Goi. Goi's beliefs about the vibratory powers of prayer have been mentioned earlier. 15. 私は誰れに語らず私の胸の内に秘めて、ただ神様にいわれたことだけをやろうと思った。それをやれば、戦が止るということ だったからである。 それで黙って建てた。そしたら大東亜戦争は止めということになった。
I have kept this secret deep in my heart and never told anybody. I thought I should do it simply because I had been told to do so by the deity. The deity told me that if I did it, then the war would stop. Thus, I kept silent and built (the dojo). This having been done, the Great Pacific War came to an end.
NOTES:
(a) The logic here is again simple, but breathtaking. If the shrine was built, the war would stop. The shrine was built—and the war stopped.
(b) Masahisa Goi believed that his peace prayer actually had a physical effect on the minds of other people, such as generals and politicians. Morihei Ueshiba clearly had the same belief about the powers of his deities—and of himself, since he possessed analogous powers.

C - Accounts of the ‘Visions' 16. それから修業がはじまったのです。
From then onwards my ascetic training began.
夜一時二時頃、庭に降り立ち、自分は剣をもって立った。ところが不思議に、一人の幽体(実はも一人の自分)白いものがパッと現れた。白いものも剣をもって私に向かい立つ。 こうして剣の修業がはじまったのです。
During the night, at around 2 o'clock, I had gone down to the garden and was standing holding a sword. Then something mysterious happened. Another person suddenly appeared, a ghostly body/being (in fact, it was another version of myself). The being was white and had a sword. It faced me. In this way, training with the sword began.
NOTES:
(a) By mentioning the beginning of his "ascetic training", Ueshiba signals a break in his narrative.
(b) The account of the vision in the garden should be compared with the shorter account, quoted above from The Secret Teachings of Aikido. There, the date is given as 1942, two years later, but the contents of the vision are very similar. 17. そしてターッと打ってゆこうとすると、その瞬間にパッと相手が入ってくる。相手の剣が自分の腹に胸先にパッと入ってく る。少しも油断は出来 ない。はじめは私の動作はおそかったが、修業しているうちに、幽体の相手が入ってくる瞬間に、相手の木剣を下へ切り落と した。すると白い相手は消えてし まった。
Then, with a kiai shout I tried to strike. In that instant my partner suddenly entered. My partner's sword was suddenly right at my chest. I could not show the slightest lack of vigilance. In the beginning my own movements were slow, but as the training progressed, in the instant that my partner with the ghostly body entered, I cut his wooden sword downwards. As soon as I did this, my partner disappeared.
NOTES:
(a) Ueshiba explains here how he was eventually able to deal with his phantom partner.
(b) The final sentence underlines the importance that sword training had for Ueshiba, but there is an important additional factor that should be made clear—which is of some importance, considering that for a brief time he was father-in-law to one of the foremost kendo experts in Japan: the training would not be like the earlier sword training he had engaged in. 18. なお三日間ぐらい続行しているうちに、相手をぐっとにらむと剣が消えてしまった。
This continued for about three days, but as it continued and I stared fixedly at my partner (kept control of the partner), the sword disappeared.
NOTES:
(a) The training developed such that Ueshiba was able to control his alter ego sufficiently to make the sword he wielded disappear. 19. その時自分を眺めると姿がない。ただ霊身だろうと思うが一つの光の姿がある。あたりは光の雲でいっぱいである。といって 自分の意識はあるの です。木剣を持っている気持もある、が木剣はない。ただ一つの呼吸のみがあるのです。これが二週間つづいた。
新たに、日をおいて立つと、木剣も自分も光の雲もなく、宇宙一杯に自分が残っているように感じた。その時は白光の気もなく、自分の呼吸によって、すべて宇宙の極が支配され 、宇宙が腹中へ入っていた。
At this time, there was no shape of myself that I had seen before. However, there was the appearance of a light—which I thought was a ghostly body. Around me there were many clouds of light. But I was conscious of myself at the time. I had the feeling of holding a wooden sword, but there was no sword. There was simply one breath. This continued for two weeks. On some later days when I resumed training there was no wooden sword, no self, no clouds of light, but I felt that what remained was myself filling the entire universe. At that time there was no hint of white light, and by means of my breath, all the poles of the universe were controlled and the universe had entered my heart.
NOTES:
(a) Ueshiba notes a progression in his training here. He was no longer training with his alter ego, seen as a separate partner.
(b) The latter part of the paragraph underlines the extreme importance for Ueshiba of kokyu training and I think this is relevant to some of the discussions on internal training. Clearly he had done this and continued to do it, but one notes the earlier account of how he used to train—and how he changed this.

[B]Conclusion to the Discourse
I have given the Japanese text, in order that students of Japanese who are more proficient than I am can check and amend, if necessary. The translation is intended to be as intelligently literal as possible, so that the reader can make his/her own judgments about the contents. As I have indicated in the notes, there are some fairly breathtaking assertions in the above paragraphs. One important point, which is relevant to the present discussion on Iwama and needs to be stressed, is that Ueshiba tied the account of his vision in the garden to training with a sword and I think this was this was an important motivation for his decision to move there.

Note once more that the subject of the discourse is Ueshiba's own ascetic training and note also that the treatment is not at all haphazard. We are given Ueshiba's view of the purpose of aikido and how his ‘new' ascetic training differed from what he did previously. His previous training is then closely connected with wartime training and this leads to an earnest discussion on the evils of the war. The way of ending the war was to build a dojo in Iwama and it is clear that the deities who were responsible for this injunction were also responsible for the ‘new' ascetic training (involving the riai of sword training) that followed.

The discussion is thus very clear, but it is conducted entirely on Morihei Ueshiba's own terms. So we need to make a mental leap and endeavor to enter the world with which he was familiar from his early education in Shingon Buddhism and his studies of kokugaku and Japan's ancient myths. (I must confess, however, that I cannot really imagine Morihei Ueshiba coming to Hiroshima and announcing that his deities had already warned him of the dangers of the atomic bombing before it actually happened. There would be uproar, for Ueshiba would be destroying one of Hiroshima City's most cherished beliefs: that the atomic-bombing was a ‘timeless' and unpredictable act on the part of the United States, of immense moral significance. Clearly, another ‘mental leap' is in order here.)

Kisshomaru Ueshiba's Books
1. 合気道改組植芝盛平伝: Aikido Taiso Morihei Ueshiba Den
This book is the ‘official' biography of Morihei Ueshiba and the main discussion on Iwama can be found in Chapter 6 (pp. 229-263), entitled: (不屈気魂の火は消えず , The fire of [Ueshiba's] indomitable ki spirit is unquenchable). Alongside this chapter heading is a sub-heading: 「(武産)の身魂気魂ますます光彩を発した戦時下の求道」(The search for truth in the war years, [when Ueshiba's] the ‘body-spirit' / ‘ki-spirit' of takemusu gradually manifested its brilliance).

Trip to China in 1941
The section on Iwama (pp. 252-263) curiously starts with the episode of Morihei Ueshiba's abortive trip to China in 1941. The trip is sometimes cited as evidence of a general desire for peace on Ueshiba's part. However, I think this episode has to be discounted as evidence of any such desire. For example, in his revised biography of Ueshiba, which appeared after Kisshomaru's biography and made use of it, John Stevens has a tantalizing comment. "It has recently come to light that Morihei had valiantly worked behind the scenes in attempts to prevent war with the United States and to make peace with China—alas, to no avail." (Stevens, Invincible Warrior, pp. 65-66.)
This comment comes at the end of a long section wherein Stevens describes Ueshiba's "distress" at the outbreak of war with China in 1973 and with the United States in 1941. The quoted comment is tantalizing because Stevens produces no evidence about what has "recently come to light" about these attempts and we are left with either trusting Stevens the Biographer at his word (which no serious historian should ever do), or believing that the "distress" suffered by Ueshiba was ‘emotion recollected in postwar tranquility' (to misquote William Wordsworth), at a time when he had the chance to organize his thoughts about the war and review his own part in it.

Kissomaru Ueshiba's biography has not yet been translated, so those who cannot read the Japanese text have to rely on the English summaries, published by Stanley Pranin in Aikido Journal. At the beginning of Section 38, we find this paragraph: "On December 8, 1941 the progression of world events finally led Japan into the entanglements of the Second World War against the United States and Great Britain. The expanding flames of war on the Asian continent made this inevitable despite the fact that Japan would be facing a crisis in which she would have enemies to the front and rear."
Kisshomaru is being blissfully non-historical here and readers will need to consult some of the works listed below, in order to see more precisely how "the progression of world events" led to the "entanglements" of Japan in World War II and especially how this "progression" occurred on December 8, 1941. To offer Aikiweb readers some help here, December 8, 1941, was the day that Japanese aircraft bombed the US fleet at Pearl Harbor and Japan then declared war on the United States and Great Britain. "This" (either the "progression" or the "entanglement") became "inevitable" because of the "expanding flames of war on the Asian continent", despite the fact that Japan "would be facing a crisis" (war on two fronts) that she herself had caused by her incursions into China in 1937 and into South Asia in 1941. Kisshomaru Ueshiba is concerned to portray his father as a figure of influence, and also moderation, in the general political scene. However, we are in full ‘Japan-as-hapless-victim-at-the-mercy-of-world-events' mode here. Kisshomaru continues in a new section: "Peace Negotiations in China
About that time the Founder secretly traveled to the continent accompanied by his student Mr. Tsutomu Yukawa in compliance with the wishes of Lord Fumimaro Konoe and others. They were to be part of the process of laying the groundwork for peace negotiations with China. The reason for this attempt at peacemaking was that Japan was going to be forced to divide its war potential due to the entry of the United States into the war. The military suddenly decided to seek to conclude a peace with Chiang Kai-shek in order to withdraw from the fighting on the continent. … The Founder took part in these efforts and journeyed to China. Those in power were hoping to use his broad range of friends and acquaintances towards this end.
It seems that the Founder left Japan in secret to contact General Shunroku Hata who was the supreme commander of the South China Army for preliminary consultations."
Again, there is a certain lack of historical perspective here. "About that time" is sufficiently vague to suggest that the "entry of the United States into the war" was the cause of Ueshiba's visit to China. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is never mentioned and readers are left with the impression that Morihei Ueshiba's visit to China was part of a response to America's proactive entry into the war (though this, of course, was itself a response to the unmentioned Japanese attack). However, the references to Fumimaro Konoe and Shunroku Hata provide a clue to significance of the visit, for the problem with Ueshiba's trip to China, seen as an earnest desire for peace in general, is the timing.

Shunroku Hata assumed command of the China Expeditionary Army on 1 March 1941 and remained in office until 23 November 1944, when he was recalled to Japan, in order to prepare Japan's defences against invasion. Konoe Fumimaro was Prime Minister from June 1937 until 16 October 1941, when he was forced out of office by Hideki Tojo. Thus, Ueshiba's visit to China must have taken place between March and October 1941, well before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Konoe Fumimaro is better known for his efforts to prevent war with the United States than for efforts to bring peace with China. As Prime Minister, he tried to rein in the impulsively belligerent activities of the Japanese Army, but usually fully approved of these same activities when he realized that he had been out-manoeuvred. His efforts to arrange a meeting with President Roosevelt were undermined by Japan's invasion of Indochina on 28 July 1941, for this led to an unexpected oil embargo on Japan by the United States. Hideki Tojo, who was Minister for the Army, supported the invasion. Tojo was a member of the Tosei faction in the Imperial Japanese Army (see the previous column for discussion of the Kodo and Tosei factions within the Japanese military) and was the main architect of Japan's war plans in South Asia. He believed in the superior (but mythical) ‘fighting spirit' of the Japanese army and did not flinch at the prospect of war on all fronts: against China, against Russia, against the United States, and in all parts of South Asia.

Morihei Ueshiba's general desire for peace might well have been genuine, but the timing and the destination suggests that on this occasion he was a pawn in the hands of politicians, for the more cynical might discern motives of expediency, at least on the part of Prince Konoe: better an immediate peace with China, in order to end the Japanese entanglements there, in order to concentrate more fully on dealing with the United States.

The Shrine in Iwama
In his biography, Kisshomaru Ueshiba gives two reasons for the move to Iwama. The first is that Morihei Ueshiba was at heart a ‘country boy' and believed in the importance of self-sufficiency and the combination of budo and farming. The second is that he wanted to take steps to assure the future of aikido, especially "when the war reached a serious stage in 1941." (The Japanese text reads, 戦局が剣悪化の一路をたどりはじめてからであったand the statement about B-29s immediately follows.)

According to Kisshomaru, it was the move to Iwama that led Ueshiba to leave the issue of the name of the art to Minoru Hirai. The generic name for the art that Ueshiba practiced at the time was Aiki-budo, but Ueshiba-ryu-Aiki-budo, and Kobu-Aiki were also used. The Dai Nippon Butokukai wished to have one name—and some measure of harmony about the name. According to Kisshomaru, Morihei Ueshiba was happy with the name aikido, though Kisshomaru's actual statement is: そのさい開祖は正式に、「合気道」の呼称に統一するむねを宣した, and adds that: すなわち、「武徳会=合気道部」となったのである。そして終戦まで他の武道と同様、師士、教士、練士の称号がつけられる ことになった。 Though Kisshomaru does not assign cause and effect specifically, the result was that: 率直にいって、この時点で開祖は明確に岩間への転住に踏み切ったもののようである。So Ueshiba was happy with the name, even announcing that it was the preferred name, but escaped to Iwama during the negotiation process, in order to avoid having to deal with the consequence: the Butokukai control and designation of titles, teaching and training methods etc.

At this point Kisshomaru states that he was appointed Dojo-cho of the dojo in Ushigome Wakamatsu-cho. He adds in the Japanese text that: 師範部の大澤喜三郎氏らの協力を得て、夜ごと空襲警報のサイレンが鳴りひびく東京で、必死に孤塁を守りつづけた。 The picture that Kisshomaru sketches here—of him working to preserve the ‘orphan fort' of the Tokyo dojo, with the help of Chief Instructor Kisaburo Osawa and others, amid the melancholy wail of the air-raid sirens piercing the night as a back drop—was almost certainly accurate around 1945, but not in 1942. This is very clear from Kiyosawa Kiyoshi's wartime diary. Kiyosawa occasionally talks of air-raid practices—with reports of ludicrous discussions about the correct dress codes for such practices, but there is no mention of air-raids them selves, with B-29s, until well into 1945. I think that both Morihei Ueshiba and his Kisshomaru, no doubt with the best of intentions, allowed their thoughts & feelings about the later, disastrous, stages of the war to cloud their recollections of and reactions to events that took place at an earlier time.

One final point needs to be stated about Kisshomaru Ueshiba's account of the move to Iwama in his biography. He states that the shrine was completed in the fall of 1944, but there is no mention of the instructions of the deity Saru-ta-hi-ko-o-kami, of the ending of the war, or of the visions of 1940 and 1942, with the phantom swordsmen. In the original Japanese text of his biography, however, Kisshomaru does discuss the 43 守護神 (shugoshin, tutelary deities) of the Iwama shrine, and recounts that Morihei stated that he built the shrine as an expression of thanks to them. The discussion is on p. 258 and I reproduce it here with a rough explanation / translation, for the way Kisshomaru discusses this matter is quite indicative of what he thinks about the content. He gives as sympathetic and dispassionate an account as he can—of something of which he appears, at least, to have had no experience whatever.

Kisshomaru grounds this account in the context of his father's studies of the Kojiki. Apparently he came into contact with one Nakanishi Koun, who was one of the "top scholars" researching the Kojiki at the time. (The case of Tsuda Sokichi, however, who was stripped from his post at Tokyo University in 1942 for suggesting that the early parts of the Kojiki were myth, does not suggest that 1942 was a particularly good year for dispassionate scholarship of the Kojiki.) According to Kisshomaru, it was this encounter with the Kojiki via Nakanishi Koun that led to Ueshiba's notion of 武産合気 (takemusu aiki). He goes on to mention a修祓の巻物 (shufutsu-no-makimono: a kind of scroll) from his father that he has in his possession. (In a note, Kisshomaru explains what this is: 禊祓いして守護神の降霊を感得する神道の最重要なる儀式のひとつ: it is a scroll of one of the most important Shinto ceremonies for the realizing of the descent of tutelary deities in misogi purification.) なお、この修祓に記載されているところの四十三の守護神は猿田彦大神、国津竜王、九頭竜大権現、多ちからの命(手力御 命)、天村雲九鬼さむはら竜王その 他、名種の竜王をはじめ大権現、大天狗、大菩薩の神名があげられている。The names of the 43 deities are inscribed in the scroll, beginning with Saruta-hiko-okami.
そのかぎりにおいては一見脈絡なき羅列のごとくに思われかねないが、仔細に点検するとき、そこには開祖の生涯における時々刻々の修行体験が関連していることが明らかであっ た。
At a glance, and seen simply as string of names, it seemed to lack any coherence, but on further investigation, it became clear that it was connected to various occasions and episodes of the Founder's lifelong experience of ascetic training.
すなわち、ただいたずらなる羅列ではなく、あくまで己れ自身武道開眼および人格形成の決定的要因としての "神"であった事実を知らされるのである。
It was not a string of names put together for his amusement, but (showed) the reality—the truth of his spiritual awakening, through his own persistent budo training, that he had been made aware of / had come to know, as well as the decisive factors (of this ‘budo spiritual awakening'), which for him were seen in a personified fashion as "deities".
いいかえれば、それは現身の己れを超えて神人合一の境に開悟した折々の、心象の記念とでもいうことができるのではなかろうか。
Put another way, we could also state that this was the record, the memory, of a mental state, showing occasional flashes of enlightenment, at the boundary /threshold of the unity of deity and man, that exceeded (the bounds of) the Founder's self in his existing body.
いずれにしても開祖は、岩間において、なにはさておき岩間神社を健立する ことを心に誓っていた。
At any rate, concerning Iwama the Founder above all else made a vow for himself to create the Iwama Shrine there.
It is curious that the discussion about Nakanishi and the Kojiki made its way into the English summary published in English by Stanley Pranin (including a consequent change of name from Ueshiba Moritaka to Ueshiba Tsunemori), but not this paragraph, which immediately followed. I gather that ‘copyright reasons' determined that Stan was able to publish only a summary, but presumably Kisshomaru decided what would go into the summary and what would not. Anyway, this is as far in the biography as we get of any discussion of the role of the deities in the move to Iwama.

[B]2. 合気道一路: Aikido Ichiro
This book is subtitled 戦後合気道の発展への風と雲: Sengo aikido no hatten e no kaze to kumo: Winds and Clouds (Squalls?) Marking the Beginning of Postwar Aikido. It contains Kisshomaru Ueshiba's narrative accounts, anecdotes, reflections, observations, explanations etc surrounding the rise of aikido after the war. The quality varies from the riveting to the simply readable, but it is written in a more relaxed and readable fashion than the rather stilted style of the biography. It is unfortunate that it has not been translated into English.

In his discussion of the move to Iwama, Kisshomaru starts by suggesting that Morihei Ueshiba had the remarkable prescience to hatch plans for the survival of aikido, should the Kobukan Dojo be destroyed by fire. He states that from around 1935 Morihei had been acquiring forest and farmland in Iwama, amounting to some 20,000 tsubo (1 tsubo is around 3.3 square meters). Morihei planned to retire there, but later he had the "earnest wish" to build an ‘Aiki shrine' and also create an ‘Aikido no ubuya' (a birth hut for aikido—for the significance of this term, see my summary of the early part of the Kojiki, in Column 7). However, the war caused him to change his plans. For those who do not have access to the Japanese text, here is Kisshomaru in his own words (pp. 24-25: as usual, the text is followed by a rough translation and—this time—a brief commentary).

開祖からの厳命
A Strict Order from the Founder ——あれは忘れもしません。昭和十七年のことでした。
I will not forget that (the sudden move to Iwama). It happened in 1942.
NOTE: It is as if the event took place without any forewarning. 父は私を本部道場長に任じて東京の「皇武館」を任せ、みずから母を伴って岩間に転住してしまいました。
Dad left me in charge of the Kobukan Dojo in Tokyo, of which he had appointed me the Head, and of his own accord he moved to Iwama with Mother.
NOTE: Of course, Kisshomaru would never have dared to address his father as ‘Dad'. However, this casual Japanese form of address is so different from the formal ‘開祖' -- ‘Founder' in the biography, that I have used the term here. 父の行動は、いつも閃きによって行われました。
Dad's actions were always performed in a flash (on the basis of a sudden decision).
NOTE: 閃き(Hirameki) means ‘in a flash'. ‘Flashes' or ‘sparks' of genius are written with the same character. I have added the explanation in brackets, though Kisshomaru might sometimes have felt that even this was lacking. This comment is one basis for the thesis that Morihei Ueshiba's decision to move to Iwama was extremely abrupt. The reasons for the move have been considered quite thoroughly above (and see also the rest of Ueshiba's explanation below), but the way this is stated here also fits the statement in the biography, that he suddenly announced the move in the midst of negotiations over the future name of the art. この時も突然で、岩間の現在の道場と神社のある場所ではなく、それよりいくらか駅に近い農家が農機具を納めていた物置を、急ぎ改造して移ったような次第でした 。
At this time also the place they moved to was suddenly decided. The location was not the place occupied by the present Iwama dojo and shrine. It was a little closer to the station. A farming family had a place for storing farm implements and, after hurriedly making some alterations, they moved there.
NOTE: The decision to move was clearly sudden, but it appears from Kisshomaru's comment that the location was also decided in haste. このおり、父がいい残しました言葉は、五十年以上を経ても忘れられません。
The words that Dad left me with on this occasion I have never forgotten, even after over 50 years have passed.
NOTE: Kisshomaru clearly took his father's strict order very seriously indeed. 「このたびはどうやら、祖国苦難の戦になりそうじゃ。不幸にして万一の実態ともなうならば、当然、合気道の命運もまた危 うかろう。だが、たとえ戦に敗れた としても、祖国の山河は残る。合気道もまた、後代に遺し伝えなければならん。
"Now things could become difficult. Our beleaguered homeland is at war. If by some misfortune, it should chance that actual conditions should turn out for the worst, of course, the survival of aikido will also be in danger. However, even if the war ends in defeat, the mountains and rivers of our homeland will remain. Of course, we must bequeath and transmit aikido to future generations.
NOTE: Morihei Ueshiba's own words start here. Note that there is nothing whatever stated about commands from the deities here or the questionable conduct of the war, only an unlikely hypothesis about the possible outcome. The mention of mountains and rivers remaining was a reference to an old Chinese proverb. If the move to Iwama occurred late in 1942, the defeats at Coral Sea and Midway would already have become known, at least to those in a position to find out. However, Ueshiba is being fairly gung ho here. 祖国再建、復興の時に備え、東京だけに固執せず、拠点を他にも確保しておくことが必要じゃろう。わしは岩間に ‹合気苑›を造っておくつもりじゃ。吉祥丸、 おまえは最後まで東京の本部道場に踏みとどまって、ここを死守せよ。
"In making preparations for the time when our beloved country will flourish once more, it will not be enough to hold on to Tokyo only. It will be necessary to secure positions elsewhere. I intend to build an ‘Aiki Farm' in Iwama. Kishomaru, you must hold your own to the end in the Hombu Dojo in Tokyo and defend it to the last (to the death).
NOTE: Ueshiba was hedging his bets here, possibly because of the network of aiki-budo dojos that still remained from the time of the old Budo Senyokai (including a dojo in Iwama). Nevertheless, it is quite clear that Ueshiba included the Hombu Dojo in Tokyo as part of the revival after the war ended. There is an ambiguity here, however, but it seems clear that Ueshiba envisaged two centers of aikido, not only the Iwama dojo. Thus, as I have suggested in this column, Ueshiba quite clearly turned over the Tokyo Hombu Dojo to Kisshomaru. In ordering him to maintain the dojo to the end (with his life, if necessary), he could not at the same time revoke the order and take it back. However, Ueshiba did not go so far as giving him control of the art as a whole. 東京が焼け野原になったならば、わしが岩間の里において合気道を維持する。 心配はいらぬ。」
"Even if Tokyo is burned to a desert, I will be (at home) in Iwama keeping the home fires of aikido burning (maintaining aikido). No need to worry."
NOTE: There is certainly a lack of tact displayed here. Morihei Ueshiba has just ordered Kisshomaru to maintain the Tokyo dojo, with his life if necessary. However, even if Kisshomaru perished in the attempt to keep the Tokyo dojo going, aikido would still be maintained in Iwama, so there were no grounds for Kisshomaru to worry. さすがに父は、並の武道家ではありませんでした。
As may be expected of someone like Dad (This was just the sort of thing that a great man like Dad would say). He was no ordinary budoka.
NOTE: It seems that Kisshomaru happily accepted his father's dire scenario. ただ、「東京を死守せよ」を厳命された私の方は、ズシリと重い荷を背負わされるになったわけで、以来、父が亡くなるまで の二十五年間、道場長としての重責 を担うことになりました。正直なところ、ずいぶんと筆舌に尽くし難い苦労をなめさせられたものである。
However, the strict order that I was given, to ‘Defend Tokyo to the last (to the death)', became a heavy burden which weighed me down, but, from then on for 25 years, right up until Dad's death, I have discharged the heavy responsibility as Head of the Dojo. To be honest, I have undergone hardships that (to describe which) would exhaust both the pen and the tongue.
NOTE: Kisshomaru's final comments relate to Morihei Ueshiba's decision to move to Iwama only indirectly. However, they do relate to the question of Ueshiba's transmission of the art to Kisshomaru. Whether Morihei Ueshiba expected Kisshomaru to maintain the Tokyo Dojo to the end and whether he was surprised at Kisshomaru's eventual success, is something we can never know. However, the Kobukan Hombu Dojo was the central dojo within a group; it was the ‘face' of the Kobukai. Thus, this handing over can certainly be seen as a handover of authority. Certainly, when the Aikikai Foundation was re-created in 1948, largely due to the efforts of Kisshomaru, Morihei Ueshiba received the title of Doshu and Kisshomaru remained as Hombu Dojo Head. However, Morihei Ueshiba stayed in Iwama and continued his own training. Of course, he visited the Hombu Dojo more and more after 1955 and had a house there, but the fact remains that Kisshomaru was in charge at this dojo and his father played little part in running the postwar training regime that spread from the revived Ushigome Wakamatsu-cho Aikikai Hombu Dojo.

General Conclusion
I have examined much of the published data relating to the move to Iwama. The order in which I have discussed these items shows (I believe) the extent to which Kisshomaru Ueshiba appears to have distanced himself from the raw detail of his father's experiences in 1940 and 1942. Thus, the expansive discourse of Takemusu Aiki was summarized and adapted in the Aikido Shimbun (see The Secret Teachings of Aikido) for presentation to a more general audience—of aikido practitioners who did not necessarily share the assumptions of Byakko Shinkokai believers. Whether this summarizing and adapting was done by Morihei Ueshiba himself or others, it is not possible to determine. In his ‘official' biography, Kisshomaru Ueshiba explains how the role of the deities in the move to Iwama was an expression of his father's private studies of the Kojiki. In Kisshomaru's own autobiography, however, there is no mention of any deities and his father's move to Iwama is stated as a decision taken at very short notice and apparently determined solely by the desire to preserve aikido, in the event that Japan's military situation should deteriorate.

However, there is one item that I have not managed to see. Tada Hiroshi Shihan once told me of a published tract, in which Morihei Ueshiba set out his very strong views about the inadequacies of the budo training being pursued by the Japanese army in the early 1940s. Thus it might be necessary to modify the account I have given above and give as much weight to these inadequacies as to the instructions of Saruta-hiko-okami.

As for the move to Iwama in the context of an iemoto-style transmission, it is not possible to draw any clear conclusions. It is true that Morihei Ueshiba promoted his son Kisshomaru to the most senior position in an ‘aikido iemoto system', short of himself relinquishing the position as iemoto, but it is clear that he did not do the latter. As I suggested at the beginning of this column, he complicated all the issues by creating a second center of aikido training, which turned out to be a major center, and I think he had no idea at the time he did this about what would happen to the first center. In future columns, I will examine more closely the resurrection of aikido after the war.

Reading
Conrad Totman gives a good survey of the Genroku culture that gave rise to iemoto. (Conrad Totman, Early Modern Japan, 1993, California U P.) Iemoto as a system is discussed by Paul Varley in a collection of essays he edited. (Paul Varley, "Chanoyu: from the Genroku Epoch to Modern Times," in Tea in Japan: Essays in the History of Chanoyu, Edited by Paul Varley and Kumakura Isao, 1989, University of Hawaii.) There are three other essays in this volume that are required reading. They are: Murai Yasuhiko, "The Development of Chanoyu Before Rikyu," (pp. 3-32); Kumakura Isao, "Sen no Rikyu: Enquiries into his Life and Tea," (pp. 33-70); John Whitney Hall, "On the Future History of Tea," (pp. 243-254). Further background can be found in, Sen Soshitsu XV, The Japanese Way of Tea, Translated by V Dixon Morris, 1998, Hawaii U P. In his discussion of iemoto, Varley relies heavily on the research of Nishiyama Matsunosuke, whose collected works were published in 1962. The first two volumes specifically are concerned with iemoto and the iemoto system of transmission, and Nishiyama's extensive treatment also involves iemoto in the martial arts. (西山松之著作集, 第一巻: 家元の研究; 第二巻: 家元制の展開, 1962, 吉川弘文館.)

There are a few works on Kokugaku in English: Shigeru Matsumoto, Motori Norinaga 1730-1801, 1970, Harvard U P; H D Harootunian, Things Seen and Unseen: Discourse and Ideology in Tokugawa Nativism, 1988, Chicago U P; Peter Nosco, Remembering Paradise: Nativism and Nostalgia in Eighteenth Century Japan, 1990, Harvard U P; Motoori Norinaga, Kojiki-den, Book 1, Translated by Anne Wehmeyer, 1997, Cornell U East Asian Studies Program; Susan L Burns, Before the Nation: Kokugaku and the Imagining of Community in Early Modern Japan, 2003, Duke U P; Mark McNally, Proving the Way: Conflict and Practice in the History of Japanese Nativism, 2005, Harvard U P.

Stanley Pranin has published detailed summaries of Kisshomaru Ueshiba's life of the Founder. The Japanese version of the biography is植芝吉祥丸, 合気道開祖植芝盛平伝 ,1998, 出版芸術社. The fullest biography in English is by John Stevens (Invincible Warrior: A Pictorial Biography of Morihei Ueshiba, the Founder of Aikido, 1998, Shambala.) Though rare—and highly controversial at the time they were published, the early set of volumes written by the late Morihiro Saito are indispensable for an understanding of what "Iwama" meant, both to Saito Sensei himself and also to the Aikikai. (Morihiro Saito, Traditional Aikido, Vols 1-5, 1973-1976, Japan Publications Trading Company.) The autobiography of Kisshomaru Ueshiba, from which I have quoted some sections is: 植芝吉祥丸, 合気道一路, 1995, 出版芸術社.

There is a masterly summary of the Pacific War in the Cambridge History of Japan. (Alvin D Coox, "The Pacific War", The Cambridge History of Japan, Vol. 6, 1988, Cambridge U P, pp. 315-384.) David M Kennedy tells the same story at greater length and more from the American viewpoint. (David M Kennedy, Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945, Oxford History of the United States, Vol. IX, 1999, Oxford U P.) Max Hastings also tells the same story, but of the closing years of the war and more from the point of view of those who fought in it. (Max Hastings, Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45, 2008, Alfred A Knopf.) Thomas R Havens tells yet again the same story, but from the point of view of the ordinary Japanese who lived through the war and coped with the defeat. (Thomas R Havens, Valley of Darkness: The Japanese People and World War Two, 1986, University Press of America.) The work of Havens can be corroborated from the diaries of a journalist who lived through the war: Eugene Soviak (Editor), A Diary of Darkness: The Wartime Diary of Kiyosawa Kiyoshi, Edited and with an introduction by Eugene Soviak, Translated by Eugene Soviak and Kamiyama Tamie, 1980, Princeton U P.

The tradition of tragic failure as something noble is thought of as having a long history in Japanese culture. Ivan Morris has a seminal book on the subject (Ivan Morris, The Nobility of Failure: Tragic Heroes in the History of Japan, 1975, Charles Tuttle) and Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney has given the subject an interesting and necessary twist in two works (Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History, 2002, Chicago U P; Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Student Soldiers, 2006, Chicago U P). Yuki Tanaka examines another ‘tragic failure' of a completely different kind, but one that is important for understanding the later attitudes of the Japanese military to surrender, suicide, and death by other means. (Yuki Tanaka, Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes in World War II, 1996, Westview Press.) Tanaka's account may be supplemented by that of Gavan Daws, who, like Tanaka, draws on research done in Australia. (Gavan Daws, Prisoners of the Japanese: POWs of the Second World War in the Pacific, 1994, Simon & Schuster.)Peter Goldsbury (b. 28 April 1944). Aikido 6th dan Aikikai, Professor at Hiroshima University, teaching philosophy and comparative culture. B. in UK. Began aikido as a student and practiced at various dojo. Became a student of Mitsunari Kanai at the New England Aikikai in 1973. After moving back to the UK in 1975, trained in the Ryushinkan Dojo under Minoru Kanetsuka. Also trained with K Chiba on his frequent visits to the UK. Moved to Hiroshima, Japan, in 1980 and continued training with the resident Shihan, Mazakazu Kitahira, 7th dan Also trained regularly with Seigo Yamaguchi, Hiroshi Tada, Sadateru Arikawa and Masatake Fujita, both in Hiroshima and at the Aikikai Hombu. Was elected Chairman of the IAF in 1998. With two German colleagues, opened a small dojo in Higashi-Hiroshima City in 2001. Instructed at Aiki Expo 2002 in Las Vegas, Nevada

Peter Goldsbury
09-12-2008, 08:24 PM
I should add that a translation of 合気道開祖植芝盛平伝 has appeared since I wrote this column and sent it to Jun Akiyama. I have mentioned the book in another thread.

PAG

Allen Beebe
09-13-2008, 11:18 AM
Yeah I suppose we don't have any conclusive proof available to us just circumstantial evidence like:

Ueshiba's "very close links with ultra-nationalists like Okawa Shumei and showed no sign of distress at allowing the members of the Sakura-kai (Cherry Blossom Society) to meet in the Kobukan dojo and plan their revolts and assassinations for yo-naoshi (renewing the world: a constant theme in Japan from the late Tokugawa period right up until the closing years of the Pacific War). After the second suppression of Omoto in 1935, Ueshiba continued his association with a wide spectrum of Japanese military leaders and taught at various military schools. There is evidence that he taught a very rough and ready form of jujutsu: the kind that would allow Japanese soldiers to finish off an enemy at close quarters, when the weapons had failed to do so. These actions strongly suggest that Morihei Ueshiba supported both the war itself and also the way it was being fought by the Japanese military."

It sounds like he shared a vision similar to Prince Konoe who said:

"The peace that the Anglo-American leaders are urging on us amounts to no more than maintaining a status quo that suits their interests. … The true nature of the present conflict [WWI] is a struggle between the established powers and powers not yet established…. At an early stage, Britain and France colonized the ‘less civilized' regions of the world, and monopolized their exploitation. As a result, Germany and all the late-coming nations also, were left with no land to acquire and no space to expand."

"Should their policy prevail, Japan, which is small, resource-poor, and unable to consume all its own industrial products, would have no resort but to destroy the status quo for the sake of self-preservation, just like Germany. … We must require all the powers to open the doors of their colonies to others, so that all nations will have equal access to the markets and natural resources of the colonial areas. It is also imperative that Japan insist upon the eradication of racial discrimination."

and

His cabinet then issued a declaration, accusing both nationalist and communist Chinese of "increasingly provocative and insulting" behavior toward Japan. The declaration ended:

In this matter, the Chinese have contemptuously inflicted every sort of awful outrage upon Imperial Japan…. Imperial Japan has at long last exhausted its patience and is now compelled to take resolute action to punish the atrocious Chinese army and to bring the Nanking government to its senses.

and later

Konoe and Matsuoka based their foreign policy on a document that had been drawn up by the Army. Army theorists saw Japan standing on the verge of a new world. To secure its place, it must create a New Order in Greater East Asia, based on the proper alignment of Japan-Manchukuo-China. Dubbing this the "Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere," Matsuoka publicly announced that this should also include Indochina (nominally French) and the East Indies (nominally Dutch). Within the government, it was agreed that Japan would try to secure its position in China, defuse the conflict with the Soviet Union, move troops into Indochina, and prepare for a military response from Britain and possibly the United States.

Konoe seems to have embraced bringing "peace" through a "holy war." And Ueshiba's actions don't appear to oppose this in the least.

Later Konoe sees disaster on the horizon when hostilities continue un-checked and plans are drawn to attack the U.S., U.K, and Holland. The Navy clearly recognizes this, and caught between a rock and a hard place (they only have enough petrol for about two years of engagement) propose that if a fight with the U.S. is inevitable (being politically forced into the matter) it is better to start sooner rather than later. Ueshiba, who has very close contacts with Naval commanders is engaged by Konoe in one of his several last ditch attempts to avert war with the U.S. Konoe seems willing to (unilaterally) even give up interests in China in order to avoid what he (accurately) sees as the devastation that a war with the U.S., U.K., and the Netherlands will bring.

Konoe resigns on 16 October 1941 justifying his demission to his secretary Kenji Tomita. "Of course his Majesty is a pacifist and he wished to avoid war. When I told him that to initiate war was a mistake, he agreed. But the next day, he would tell me : 'You were worried about it yesterday but you do not have to worry so much.' Thus, gradually he began to lead to war. And the next time I met him, he leaned even more to war. I felt the Emperor was telling me: 'My prime minister does not understand military matters. I know much more.' In short, the Emperor had absorbed the view of the army and the navy high commands."

Ueshiba will wait until 1942 to resign. This could be due an inability to resign until that time or perhaps there is a direct correlation between the turn of the Pacific War, his connection with the Navy, and his choice of retirement.

Yeah, Ueshiba wanted Peace but peace came in all sizes in shapes in Japan at that time. According to Ueshiba's writing at the time the Japanese Military was bringing Imperial Peace wherever they went including Nanking and the rest of China at the time. This was Japan's Holy call and Ueshiba's "visions" certainly didn't seem to dissuade him vocalizing and acting in support. Interesting that there should be a change in plans and the the timing of that change. More interestingly still, he predicts disaster basically encouraging his son to die in defense of Aikido in Tokyo at a time when, as Peter points out, nobody would dare to say such a thing in public . . . not that they could tell that the tides of war had turned at the time . . . only a person well connected, particularly well connected to the Navy, might know that! Not that I doubt that Ueshiba had visions.

BTW, despite Konoe's documented attempts to avoid war with the U.S. and engage in diplomatic solutions, he committed suicide to avoid almost certain death by hanging after Japan's occupation.

Ueshiba's vision seems to have served him well at preserving him so that he could live to fight (for Peace?!?!), or preserve Aikido, or something . . . another day.

Thank you Peter for placing and presenting the quotes from Takemusu Aiki into proper post war, religious (Japanese true believers) context. I think it makes a big difference in understanding and interpreting Ueshiba's message as delivered there.

Well . . . my daughter want's help with her letters. I think that is more important than this! :D

(Much of the cut and pasting here came from Wikipedia. I want to give credit where credit is due.)

Gernot Hassenpflug
09-13-2008, 11:19 AM
Dear Professor Goldsbury,

I am really looking forward to reading the entire article! I wonder if it will be available as a PDF like the other articles in the series? Those files are typographically far superior to any HTML-converted version and allows reading on the train and in other places where computer access or access to Aikiweb is not possible.

Best regards,

Gernot Hassenpflug, Tokyo

Allen Beebe
09-13-2008, 11:25 AM
Oops! I forgot to say, "Wow!" And, please keep up this rare and valuable contribution to the world of Aikido.

Allen

SeiserL
09-13-2008, 03:58 PM
Osu Sensei,

I certainly have no qualifications to add anything to this discussion, except my deepest respect and appreciation of these very well researched, references, and written contributions.

Rei, Domo.

Peter Goldsbury
09-13-2008, 05:37 PM
Dear Professor Goldsbury,

I am really looking forward to reading the entire article! I wonder if it will be available as a PDF like the other articles in the series? Those files are typographically far superior to any HTML-converted version and allows reading on the train and in other places where computer access or access to Aikiweb is not possible.

Best regards,

Gernot Hassenpflug, Tokyo

Hello Gernot,

I have been in Tokyo visiting the Hombu Dojo. When I returned, I saw a mail from Jun about the PDF versions of this month's columns. I think the PDF version will be up quite soon.

When you mention 'the entire article', do you mean the whole series? At present, I plan to write 30 columns and I will then have to revise everything once more. I hope it will end up as a book, but at present everything is still rather 'raw'.

Best wishes,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
09-13-2008, 08:26 PM
Hello Allen,

Konoe is something of an enigma and I wonder how much he talked to Morihei Ueshiba. The terms that Kisshomaru Ueshiba used for their relationship were, 「親交を得ている」: 'to acquire someone's friendship'. The newly-published translation of Kisshomaru's biography gives this as, "... Prince Fumimaro Konoe, with whom he [Ueshiba] had a close relationship." Did this extend to discussing war strategy and Konoe's own relations with the Emperor?

To see what I mean, let us look more closely at the quote from Wikipedia (Yes, I covered the same ground--and a lot more). This is not quite so straighforward as might appear.

[Konoe resigns on 16 October 1941 justifying his demission to his secretary Kenji Tomita. "Of course his Majesty is a pacifist and he wished to avoid war. When I told him that to initiate war was a mistake, he agreed. But the next day, he would tell me: 'You were worried about it yesterday but you do not have to worry so much.' Thus, gradually he began to lead to war. And the next time I met him, he leaned even more to war. I felt the Emperor was telling me: 'My prime minister does not understand military matters. I know much more.' In short, the Emperor had absorbed the view of the army and the navy high commands."]

The Wikipedia footnote gives the original source of the quotation: the citation on p.126 of a book by Akira Fujiwara, called, 『昭和天皇の五十年戦争』Showa Tenno no Gojunen Senso. For the sake of completeness, here is the original Japanese text:

“ 陛下は勿論、平和主義で、飽く迄戦争を避けたい御気持であったことは間違いないが、自分が総理大臣として陛下に、今日、開戦の不利なることを申し上げると、それに賛成され ていたのに、明日御前に出ると、「昨日あんあにおまえ言っていたが、それ心配することもないよ」と仰せられて、少し戦争の方へ寄って行かれる。又次回にはもっと戦争論の方 に寄っておられる。つまり、陸海の統帥部の人達の意見がはいって、軍のことは総理大臣には解らない。自分の方が詳しいという御心持のように思われた。従って統帥について何 ら権限のない総理大臣として、唯一の頼みの綱の陛下がこれではとても頑張りようがない(富田健治『敗戦日本の内側』)。”

The same citation appears in Herbert Bix’s book on Hirohito. But Bix blames the Emperor rather more than Konoe:

“Konoe’s chief cabinet secretary, Kenji Tomita, later recorded Konoe’s reminiscences of the circumstances surrounding his resignation, in which he implied that Hirohito was clearly at fault.”

Bix then gives a translation of the entire text, including the parts omitted in the Wikipedia quote (in bold in the Japanese text):

‘…Consequently, as a prime minister who lacked authority over the high command, I had no way of making further effort because the emperor, who was the last resort, was this way.’

Bix adds: “The emperor would one day, down the long bloody road of World War II, praise Tojo for serving him loyally, while saying of Konoe, who had tried to prevent war with the United States, that ‘he lacked firm beliefs and courage’. To add to the irony, it was Konoe, not the emperor, who was arrested after the war as a probable war criminal.” Bix, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, 2000, pp. 419-420.)

To add a little more to the irony, Hideki Tojo knew of Morihei Ueshiba and aikido, even though it is not clear that they ever met. I believe that it was Tojo who ordered his officers to practice aikido.

Konoe has had something of a bad press in Japan, due in part to writers like Yatsuhiro Nakagawa. An effort to restore the balance was recently made by Kazuo Yagami, Konoe Fumimaro and the Failure of Peace in Japan 1937-1941, 2006, McFarland.

DH
09-13-2008, 08:41 PM
While I haven't read the whole thing yet Peter I wanted to thank you.
Mind you, it's not a gratuitous thank you, but rather a specific one- for really stating some things clearly regarding Daito ryu and Ueshiba's teaching of it up to 1942.
I applaud the accuracy so far and the fair handed treatment. I can't wait to read it later tonight. I hope your having fun with this information dump-otherwise retirement might be quite a chore!

Gernot Hassenpflug
09-13-2008, 08:44 PM
I think the PDF version will be up quite soon.

When you mention 'the entire article', do you mean the whole series? At present, I plan to write 30 columns and I will then have to revise everything once more. I hope it will end up as a book, but at present everything is still rather 'raw'.

Dear Professor Goldsbury,

Thank you for your reply. I understand. Regarding 'entire article', I meant this one by itself, since I simply did not have time yet to read more than a dozen or so paragraphs.

Many thanks,
Gernot Hassenpflug, Tokyo

Allen Beebe
09-13-2008, 10:28 PM
"従って統帥について何ら権限のない総理大臣として、唯一の頼みの綱の陛下がこれではとても頑張りようがない"

Ouch! Dead men tell no lies. Irony seemed to know no bounds in post war Japan! But then, I hear there will be a book about that irony (and Aikido) in the future . . .

It will be bitter sweet to read about our present history sixty years from now . . . oh wait, I'll probably be dead. :sorry:

Anyway, you go Professor Goldsbury!

Allen Beebe
09-13-2008, 10:35 PM
BTW, I had heard about the Tojo - Ueshiba connection. The way I heard it, there was a closer connection than just Tojo sending students, but then I'm no Prof. Goldsbury and I can't recall my source, much less site it, so . . . whatever . . . I think there is plenty of other stuff coming out . . . for those with the eyes to see.

Peter Goldsbury
09-13-2008, 11:35 PM
BTW, I had heard about the Tojo - Ueshiba connection. The way I heard it, there was a closer connection than just Tojo sending students, but then I'm no Prof. Goldsbury and I can't recall my source, much less site it, so . . . whatever . . . I think there is plenty of other stuff coming out . . . for those with the eyes to see.

Hello Allen,

Here are some quotations from Stanley Pranin's interviews with Shigenobu Okumura Sensei. Unfortunately, Okumura Sensei recently passed away at the age of 86. I last spoke to him about a year ago and his mind was still very sharp. He showed me the military passbook he still carried with him, from the time he was a soldier. His death, like that of Sadateru Arikawa, robs the aikido world of yet another original source of aikido history.

"Originally, Rinjiro Shirata Sensei was supposed to have come to be the aikido instructor at our university. However, when Shirata Sensei was drafted, he was replaced by Kenji Tomiki Sensei instead. In those days Tomiki Sensei was an instructor for the Kenpeitai (military police). In 1936 or 1937, Hideki Tojo was chief of staff of the Kanto army in China and took the lead in practicing aikido and was a benefactor although he and Ueshiba Sensei didn’t have direct contact with each other. Although Mr. Tojo never learned the art directly from Ueshiba Sensei, he knew it through Tomiki Sensei. When a military police school was established in Nakano, aikido became a subject in the school’s regular curriculum. In about 1941 I went there with O-Sensei."

"Yes, after Manchuria was established. He used to go there to get away from Japan. You know of Hideki Tojo. When he was a provost marshall in Shinkyo (in China) before he returned to Japan, he adopted Aikido as part of the military police training. He selected Mr. Tomiki and Mr. Ohba as shihan. He himself did Aikido. He practiced a lot."

"No, Mr. Tomiki was actually recruited from the Kobukan Dojo to go to Manchuria by Hideki Tojo. Tojo had become the provost marshal of the Guangdong Army sometime before Kenkoku University was established. Mr. Tomiki came to Manchuria and set up the Tomiki Dojo in Daiyagai. He was the Manchukuo government’s official aiki bujutsu teacher at Daido Gakuin and also an instructor to the military police. Kenkoku University was established a little later, in 1938, and from then on Hideo Oba taught the military police while Mr. Tomiki went to Kenkoku University as an assistant professor. At that point he was still teaching aikido as he had learned it from Ueshiba Sensei, in other words, without the competitive matches he later introduced."

So, there you are.

PAG

Allen Beebe
09-14-2008, 12:09 AM
So, there you are.

Indeed!

Thanks,
Allen

"“Oh what a tangled web we weave, . . ."

Walker
09-14-2008, 01:08 AM
Peter,
What everyone else has said, two times.

This may be a bit tangential to the topic under discussion, but I was struck by Ueshiba's reference to his sword method in quote #1 from The Secret Teachings of Aikido i.e. 合気神髄:
All the gods of Japan gathered and brought aiki truly into life, fostering universal spirit and sho chiku bai swordsmanship. The double-edged sword of heaven and earth was manifest; that sword symbolizes the spiritual movement that works to purge the world of filth and corruption.
日本中神々現れて 合気の出現を寿ぎたまり。大和魂の錬成、松竹海の剣法、天地合体して両刃の剣、精神の発動によって世の濁りを洗う。

So what struck me is his use of "Sho Chiku Bai no Kenpo" (松竹海[梅?]の剣法)as this is the name Shirata used for his ken teachings and is the first time I have ever heard the phrase in reference to Ueshiba.

As far as we know the name was also used by Hikitsuchi for the ken and is used by Shin Kage ryu (and for sake), but it is striking to see it used by Ueshiba especially in reference to some sort of divine transmission. I am wondering if there is some more specific meaning or reference here. And are you aware of any other references that might clear up why this name is used in reference to swordwork connected to Ueshiba?

And once again thank you for all of this.

Peter Goldsbury
09-14-2008, 03:36 AM
Hello Doug,

Thank you for the question. I went & checked and then saw the typo. The third character should be 梅 and not 海.

Here is an excerpt from an interview conducted with Tamura Sensei.

Interviewer:
"Est-ce qu’Osenseï utilisait les termes Aïkiken ou Aïkijo ?"

Tamura Sensei:
"Il n’utilisait pas de mots particuliers. Il prenait simplement une arme et pratiquait avec.

"Il utilisait à l’occasion l’expression « shochikubai no ken » (le sabre de pin, bambou et prunier). Le pin, matsu, le bambou, take, et le prunier, ume, sont au Japon des symboles de prospérité et de bonheur. Le pin symbolise la longévité et l’endurance car il reste vert durant toute l’année. Ses « feuilles » sont séparées en deux comme le in (yin) et le yo (yang), mais unis et représentent ainsi le concept de musubi (harmonie, lien). Le bambou symbolise à la fois la force et la souplesse et pousse dans un élan plein d’énergie vers le ciel. Quand au prunier il fleurit dans la période la plus froide, la plus hostile des saisons et symbolise les difficultés que l’on arrive à surmonter."

Three symbols of propserity & happiness.

Pine: symbolizes longevity and endurance, because it stays green all the year round; the 'leaves' are separated into two like yin and yang, but are one and so represent the concept of musubi.
Bamboo: symbolizes at once power and suppleness, pushes to the sky in an élan, full of energy.
Plum: symbolizes the difficulties that have to be overcome, since it grows in the coldest & most 'hostile' period of the year.

Osenseï ne donnait pas d’explications techniques détaillées mais faisait vivre ces concepts dans sa pratique du sabre."

The interview can be found here: http://www.tsubakijournal.com/article-7142924.html

AsimHanif
09-14-2008, 08:40 AM
Much thanks once again Prof. for the always insightful work.

Asim

Erick Mead
09-14-2008, 09:05 AM
"... sho chiku bai swordsmanship." ...So what struck me is his use of "Sho Chiku Bai no Kenpo" (松竹海[梅?]の剣法)as this is the name Shirata used for his ken teachings and is the first time I have ever heard the phrase in reference to Ueshiba. ... I am wondering if there is some more specific meaning or reference here. And are you aware of any other references that might clear up why this name is used in reference to swordwork connected to Ueshiba?

A translation of Abe Sensei's arrangement of the Doka has this:

The Pine, the Bamboo, and the Plum
The make up of Ki that we are training to purify
From where do they arise?
The Water and Fire of the change in the self.

Allen Beebe
09-14-2008, 11:08 AM
Hi Guys,

Thanks for the Sho Chiku Bai info, this is all pretty much in-line with what was shared with me about Sho Chiku Bai and our Kenpo, and not that different from the general Sho Chiku Bai symbolic referents found all around Japan and explicated in different cultural contexts.

What I wonder is what specifically prompted the usage of the specific phrase Sho Chiku Bai no Kenpo by O-sensei? Certainly he didn't invent the term or much of its interpretation. So where did he borrow it from? Ubiquitous Japanese cultural usage? (I doubt it.) Omoto? (1,000 plumb blossoms or something along those lines?), Shinto in general?, Some other religious/cultural referent?, or was it borrowed in association with a particular school of Kenpo ,where it was used as a particular technical referent . . . perhaps to further receive Ueshiba's additional "spin?" (This wouldn't be unprecedented.) (I seem to recall Ellis relating a Sho Chiku Bai - Shinkage - Hikitsuchi connection.)

Now that I think about it I recall Takeda giving Ueshiba a Shinkage Menkyo [with no evidence of any Shinkage Ryu teaching, so some hypothesize this was an official "nod" without necessarily having any specific Shinkage linkage] I wonder if there could be a Sho Chiku Bai relationship to that?

Perhaps O-sensei identified his Kenpo as Sho Chiku Bai no Kenpo thereby cleverly (not nefariously) leveraging the authority of the Shikage Menkyo awarded him by Takeda sensei (Takeda did Jikishinkage Ryu among other things) while avoiding any awkwardness that using the famous Shinkage name might cause.

(BTW, very recently I have identified a Shinkage linkage with some (I don't know how much because of my limited knowledge of Shinkage Ryu and its multifarious emanations) of the kumi tachi taught to me. [These are multi-step kata.] I can't say for certain if these came from Ueshiba sensei, only that they were taught by my teacher. So this information may have no relevance to the present thread drift.)

Anyway, do any encyclopedic minds know what most probably prompted O-sensei to make a Sho Chiku Bai connection to his Kenpo?

Thanks,
Allen

Josh Reyer
09-14-2008, 12:29 PM
(I seem to recall Ellis relating a Sho Chiku Bai - Shinkage - Hikitsuchi connection.)

Now that I think about it I recall Takeda giving Ueshiba a Shinkage Menkyo [with no evidence of any Shinkage Ryu teaching, so some hypothesize this was an official "nod" without necessarily having any specific Shinkage linkage] I wonder if there could be a Sho Chiku Bai relationship to that?

Perhaps O-sensei identified his Kenpo as Sho Chiku Bai no Kenpo thereby cleverly (not nefariously) leveraging the authority of the Shikage Menkyo awarded him by Takeda sensei (Takeda did Jikishinkage Ryu among other things) while avoiding any awkwardness that using the famous Shinkage name might cause.


Well, the Sho-Chiku-Bai forms come from the Omote-no-Tachi of Yagyu Shinkage Ryu, which Gejo Kosaburo trained in. Sho-Chiku-Bai is not a motif found there. I've seen the original densho of the founder, Kamiizumi Ise-no-Kami, the three major kuden-sho by Yagyu Munetoshi and his grandson, as well as some minor ones written by other headmasters and shihan, and it's not in any of them. I suppose there's an outside chance that there might be an obscure reference to it in some of the Edo Yagyu densho -- I haven't had the opportunity to sit down and read them start to finish --, but it's not in Munenori's Heiho Kadensho, and just about every motif in the other Edo Yagyu writings are found in there. In the Owari Yagyu line, the one studied by Gejo Kosaburo (the man Mr. Amdur surmises was the source for Ueshiba's Shinkage Ryu knowledge), it is not a part of the training. There are a number of phrases and concepts that pop up again and again, but I haven't seen or heard "Sho-Chiku-Bai" even once.

Perhaps there is some reference that he picked up from Takeda, who trained in Jikishinkage Ryu. I'm more inclined to assume he took it from its ubiquitous use in Japanese culture, and I'm not sure why you doubt it.

Walker
09-14-2008, 01:41 PM
Josh,
I'm sorry, but I don't quite follow what you are saying. I think you are saying that there are Sho Chiku Bai forms, but that there is no motif or philosophical concept in the various Shin Kage ryu. That it is a name of some forms only. Is this correct?

As to why we doubt it is just the plain old, run of the mill, general Japanese interpretation of Pine, Bamboo and Plum and nothing remarkable, I guess I would say that that sort of assumption has been part and parcel of the mess we find ourselves in. People have seen familiar motifs, assumed they understood, and missed crucial aspects of the training. Hasn't most of our recent dialogue been about things "hidden in plain sight"?

Specifically, there is some mystery around Shirata's ken, other systems of ken -- aiki ken, Iwama ken, Ueshiba's ken, Takeda's ken (aiki or otherwise) etc. If this is a clue, then great, but it won't lead anywhere if we assume it's just that tired old Japanese fascination with trees.

Allen Beebe
09-14-2008, 02:23 PM
Hi Josh,

Well, the Sho-Chiku-Bai forms come from the Omote-no-Tachi of Yagyu Shinkage Ryu, which Gejo Kosaburo trained in.

It sounds here that you are asserting that the source of *all* Sho-Chiku-Bai forms come from "the Omote-no-Tachi of Yagyu Shinkage Ryu, which Gejo Kosaburo trained in."

Is it true that you are asserting this? And, are you asserting this for Ueshiba Morihei or Shirata Rinjiro?

Sho-Chiku-Bai is not a motif found there. I've seen the original densho of the founder, Kamiizumi Ise-no-Kami, the three major kuden-sho by Yagyu Munetoshi and his grandson, as well as some minor ones written by other headmasters and shihan, and it's not in any of them. I suppose there's an outside chance that there might be an obscure reference to it in some of the Edo Yagyu densho -- I haven't had the opportunity to sit down and read them start to finish --, but it's not in Munenori's Heiho Kadensho, and just about every motif in the other Edo Yagyu writings are found in there. In the Owari Yagyu line, the one studied by Gejo Kosaburo (the man Mr. Amdur surmises was the source for Ueshiba's Shinkage Ryu knowledge), it is not a part of the training. There are a number of phrases and concepts that pop up again and again, but I haven't seen or heard "Sho-Chiku-Bai" even once.

Hmmm, maybe I just morphed Ellis' pointing out of a connection between Shinkake ryu and Ueshiba's Sho Chiku Bai no Kenpo into a connection between the phrase Sho Chiku Bai and Shinkage Ryu . . . I'm perfectly capable of making that kind of mistake.

Shucks! I thought I had a pretty clever theory there for just a moment. At least enough to create a story line for new 'Neato Itto Portland Shinkage ha Daito Ryu (大刀龍)Sho Chiku Bai Kenpo - school of Ninjutsu and martial arts supply - studio and juice bar."

Perhaps there is some reference that he picked up from Takeda, who trained in Jikishinkage Ryu.

Perhaps, I know of no evidence of this.

I'm more inclined to assume he took it from its ubiquitous use in Japanese culture, and I'm not sure why you doubt it.

It just that it seemed random. (Which is why I wondered what the source or inspiration for the name was.) I wouldn't have doubted some Omoto/Shinto connected naming. It is due to Sho-Chiku-Bai's ubiquity that it seemed odd to me. It is difficult to believe that he might just as likely have named his ken Maneki Neko no Kenpo. But I suppose that is unfair. Sho Chiku Bai usage is quite common in the martial arts world and maybe that alone explains it.

It would be nice to know for sure.

Thanks Josh,

Allen

Allen Beebe
09-14-2008, 02:28 PM
Good clarification Doug,

It is hard to be coherent when my 2 year old son is screaming at my 4 year old daughter as she hold whatever it is he wants above his head. :rolleyes:

Anyway, between the two of us, maybe something makes sense.

Allen

I don't want to take the focus off of Peter's post so if anybody has information relating to this please PM me or Doug. Or if there is some huge response, one of us could open a thread on the forum. Let's put the focus back on Peter's column.

Peter Goldsbury
09-14-2008, 04:01 PM
Good clarification Doug,

It is hard to be coherent when my 2 year old son is screaming at my 4 year old daughter as she hold whatever it is he wants above his head. :rolleyes:

Anyway, between the two of us, maybe something makes sense.

Allen

I don't want to take the focus off of Peter's post so if anybody has information relating to this please PM me or Doug. Or if there is some huge response, one of us could open a thread on the forum. Let's put the focus back on Peter's column.

Hello Allen, Doug,

Since O Sensei used the term and I have quoted it here, I think it is relevant to this 10th column. Here are two more quotes from students of O Sensei: Saito and Takaoka (from Wakayama):

『剣には『松竹梅の剣法』がある。剣の3つ性格は互いに独立し、そして互いに結び合って変化する。その基本形が組太刀となっているのである。
それらは総てに渡って体術に 応用され、合気道を益々奥深いものとしている訳である。
 かくて合気道は、数百年の伝統ある武術を土台に、戦後(昭和20年以降)完成されたといわれているのである。』
 
Traditional Aikido, Vol 5, p.22. Ken has three characters called Pine, Bamboo and Plum. There characters are independent of each other and yet linked up together to produce variations, the basic form of which is kumitachi....

The following quote from Takaoka is more relevant to this column, because O Sensei once more refers to his ken training before the war and his encounter with the white phantom swordsman who told him to build the Aiki shrine. He termed the training encounters he had with the white swordsman (mo hitori no Ueshiba) "sho chiku bai no kenpo". However, as with the Tamura interview (in French) there are no technical explanations. As I have suggested in the column, and is supported by Saito Sensei's comment, this Sho-chiku-bai no ken, directly led to the Aiki-ken training in Iwama. He does not use the term in the Takemusu Aiki quotes, but it is obvious (to me) that the sword encounters described are identical.

私が稽古を付けていただいたが、あまりにも柔らかいので、私も稽古すれば戦前の翁先生のような力が出てくるのですかと尋ねました。
翁先生は「戦前は解らず力で稽古していた。今は力は不要。此れが武産合気じゃ」と申された。そしてその訳を話してくださいました。
終戦の年病で倒れ気が虚ろなり(天国)行こうとすると、天女が私に火を吹きかけてきた。それでも行こうとすると、一人の僧が出てきて帰れと言う。お顔拝見と言うとまだ早い 、修養がたりないと語られた。
その後病が回復され「合気神社に参拝しようと思い参道を行くと白い人が見えた。良く見るともう一人の植芝が木刀を構えて立っているから、打って行くと打たれた。また打つと 打たれた。今度構えていると、ぱっと消えた。この時から柔らかい技に変わった。此れが松竹梅の剣法じゃ」と話してくださった。

I understand Doug's point about more precision--how exactly kata froms are related to the symbols in O Sensei's own mind, but I discovered the three discussions by O Sensei's own deshi by searching the Japanese language version of Google. I have never found any technical explanations in O Sensei's own discourses (so far). (I had no time to translate the Takaoka discussion: I will do so if people wish.)

Best wishes,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
09-14-2008, 04:09 PM
One of the points of this column was to attempt to explain the intense focus on weapons training in Iwama, at this stage in the Founder's life. The story of the visions in the garden of the Kobukan seems to me to be a start.

Allen Beebe
09-14-2008, 08:47 PM
Peter,

May I ask where you got the Takaoka quote from? I'd love to hear what can you share about Takaoka and O-sensei especially where ken is concerned.

Thanks,
Allen

(BTW, I don't know if Ernesto told you but, we were both in the Netherlands at the same time this summer. Ernesto and I were talking about you and we all could have been talking together! Maybe next summer we can arrange in advance to hook up.)

Josh Reyer
09-14-2008, 10:02 PM
Josh,
I'm sorry, but I don't quite follow what you are saying. I think you are saying that there are Sho Chiku Bai forms, but that there is no motif or philosophical concept in the various Shin Kage ryu. That it is a name of some forms only. Is this correct?

It sounds here that you are asserting that the source of *all* Sho-Chiku-Bai forms come from "the Omote-no-Tachi of Yagyu Shinkage Ryu, which Gejo Kosaburo trained in."

Is it true that you are asserting this? And, are you asserting this for Ueshiba Morihei or Shirata Rinjiro?

I apologize for not writing more clearly. I was assuming more shared knowledge than I should have.

The connection to the "Sho-Chiku-Bai" sword forms of Hikitsuchi Michio was mentioned by Ellis Amdur in this (http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=1895) blog article . It may have also been mentioned in other forums by Meik Skoss previous to this. The relevant part:

We have, however, proof that Ueshiba learned Yagyu Shinkage-ryu with some degree of depth. This proof lies in the sword method of Hikitsuchi Michio. Hikitsuchi taught three sword forms, called Sho (matsu — pine), Chiku (take — bamboo), and Bai (ume — plum). According to Meik Skoss, who trained under Hikitsuchi, “Sho” embodies Irimi — the triangle; “Chiku” embodies Tenkan — the circle: and “Bai” embodies Osae — the square. Fascinatingly, these three kumitachi forms are modifications of forms from Yagyu Shinkage-ryu: “Sho” is Kaboku, #4 from Kuka no Tachi; “Chiku” is Settetsu, #2 from Sangakuen no Tachi; and “Bai” is Ozume, #7 from Kuka no Tachi.

This is the connection, such as it is, mentioned by Mr. Amdur. Three forms taken from two of the Omote no Tachi, and named Sho-Chiku-Bai by Ueshiba. The forms have completely different names in Shinkage Ryu, and different places in the pedagogy of Shinkage Ryu; they are not any kind of unit or trio there. So this is a case of Ueshiba taking the physical forms and (after modifying the forms to fit his principles) adding his own particular nomenclature. There are no forms called Sho-Chiku-Bai in Shinkage Ryu.

As for Shirata Rinjiro -- if the connection of his aikiken to Shinkage Ryu is different from the above, then obviously the physical part of the curriculum it was derived from may be different, but the question of where Ueshiba learned Shinkage Ryu still remains, and the connection to Gejo Kosaburo mentioned in the above article remains the best answer.

As to why we doubt it is just the plain old, run of the mill, general Japanese interpretation of Pine, Bamboo and Plum and nothing remarkable, I guess I would say that that sort of assumption has been part and parcel of the mess we find ourselves in. People have seen familiar motifs, assumed they understood, and missed crucial aspects of the training. Hasn't most of our recent dialogue been about things "hidden in plain sight"?

Specifically, there is some mystery around Shirata's ken, other systems of ken -- aiki ken, Iwama ken, Ueshiba's ken, Takeda's ken (aiki or otherwise) etc. If this is a clue, then great, but it won't lead anywhere if we assume it's just that tired old Japanese fascination with trees.

Well, assuming that Ueshiba simply used the phrase because it was ubiquitous in the culture at the time doesn't mean that it's just "that tired old Japanese fascination with trees". After all, the ubiquitous term had nothing to do with trees. Sho-Chiku-Bai were used to illustrate grades and levels. For example, produce and poultry would be marked with one of the three, Sho indicating highest quality, and Bai indicating lower quality, much as we use "Grade A" today. In prewar schools, Sho-Chiku-Bai was used to mark assignments much like we use "A, B, C".

In that it was fairly common, particularly in Ueshiba's day, it doesn't seem strange to me that after taking three particular kata that he felt resembled his ideas of :triangle: :circle: :square: , he might then give them the name of Sho-Chiku-Bai, a common term of his day that allowed him to give them separate names, and yet group them together as a related whole. And just as "Sho-Chiku-Bai" would mean something slightly different from the market from the school from the rakugo stage, so it would have it's own particular meaning in Ueshiba's dojo.

Erick Mead
09-14-2008, 10:41 PM
One of the points of this column was to attempt to explain the intense focus on weapons training in Iwama, at this stage in the Founder's life. The story of the visions in the garden of the Kobukan seems to me to be a start. I find the visions and the explanation of the move to Iwama consistent. Kisshomaru reports him at the time concerned about a vision of cataclysmic fiery devastation then loosely concerned with Tokyo. After the fact he naturally associates this premonition with Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

That move was shortly following Doolittle's raid -- which was more jarring to the Japanese mythological psyche than the Pyrrhic win in Coral Sea or the disaster of Midway. The attack on the home islands is what eventually brought forth the image of the Divine Wind, and its modern implementation to defend against the ancient threat twice avoided by that means).

If the thesis is Ueshiba has long associations with the bad boys of Showa, and has a vision he associates with divine intervention to alter his course, one could listen to what he says instead of wondering what he means that he has not said. With a record of forty-three kami that have served various tutelary roles in his training and in its realization -- you have an answer right there. Maybe not the whole answer -- but an answer. Given your preference for Hofstede, and what I see as his Jungian sociological typology -- it seems to me that examining the archetypal significance and functional associations of the forty-three Kami would be a good place to begin.

Peter Goldsbury
09-14-2008, 10:49 PM
If the thesis is Ueshiba has long associations with the bad boys of Showa, and has a vision he associates with divine intervention to alter his course, one could listen to what he says instead of wondering what he means that he has not said.

Yes. This is why I have devoted a large part of this column to doing precisely this--listening to what he says.

Peter Goldsbury
09-14-2008, 10:53 PM
Well, assuming that Ueshiba simply used the phrase because it was ubiquitous in the culture at the time doesn't mean that it's just "that tired old Japanese fascination with trees". After all, the ubiquitous term had nothing to do with trees. Sho-Chiku-Bai were used to illustrate grades and levels. For example, produce and poultry would be marked with one of the three, Sho indicating highest quality, and Bai indicating lower quality, much as we use "Grade A" today. In prewar schools, Sho-Chiku-Bai was used to mark assignments much like we use "A, B, C".

In that it was fairly common, particularly in Ueshiba's day, it doesn't seem strange to me that after taking three particular kata that he felt resembled his ideas of :triangle: :circle: :square: , he might then give them the name of Sho-Chiku-Bai, a common term of his day that allowed him to give them separate names, and yet group them together as a related whole. And just as "Sho-Chiku-Bai" would mean something slightly different from the market from the school from the rakugo stage, so it would have it's own particular meaning in Ueshiba's dojo.

Yes, I think you will find Sho, chiku or bai on the menu of many a Japanese kaiseki restaurant, or in the seating plan of any wedding ceremony.

PAG

Allen Beebe
09-14-2008, 11:17 PM
So the assertion is: Ueshiba named his ken system "A,B,C Ken" because it conveniently stratified three Shinkage kumitachi associated with Hikitsuchi, while other Deshi (Shirata, Saito, Takaoka, more?) used the appellation "A,B,C Ken" because Ueshiba used it . . . as a referent for three Shinkage kumitachi (associated with Hikitsuchi) while their ken may not have, or be limited to, these three kumitachi"?

Peter Goldsbury
09-14-2008, 11:18 PM
Peter,

May I ask where you got the Takaoka quote from? I'd love to hear what can you share about Takaoka and O-sensei especially where ken is concerned.

Thanks,
Allen

(BTW, I don't know if Ernesto told you but, we were both in the Netherlands at the same time this summer. Ernesto and I were talking about you and we all could have been talking together! Maybe next summer we can arrange in advance to hook up.)

Allen,

Have a look at this website: http://sighar.net/aiki/syumi04.html

Since I have retired, my summer vacations are longer and the dates of my coming to the Netherlands more flexible. However, since I am looking after two groups, as well as my own dojo in Hiroshima, coordinating dates might be a problem, but a surmountable problem.

PAG

Allen Beebe
09-14-2008, 11:31 PM
Allen,

Have a look at this website: http://sighar.net/aiki/syumi04.html



Thanks Peter. You're forcing me to work you know! :p

Since I have retired, my summer vacations are longer and the dates of my coming to the Netherlands more flexible. However, since I am looking after two groups, as well as my own dojo in Hiroshima, coordinating dates might be a problem, but a surmountable problem.

Well then, it's just a matter of time(ing)! If you come around the same time each year I think my group can be flexible enough to coordinate an overlap. Let's do it! :)

Kindly,
Allen

Erick Mead
09-15-2008, 01:02 AM
Yes. This is why I have devoted a large part of this column to doing precisely this--listening to what he says.And admirably so. I suppose I should have added "as he preferred to say it." You are tracing what he said and did in his social arc as they touch on the mythic visions that caused significant alterations in those elements. Those are invaluable. He gave the mythic greater prominence in his own understanding. His mythic imagery in the forty-three kami trace his training arc, and either culminate in the visions of the sword and no-sword, or else the visions were later understood and the developments leading to them were explained or systematized in those mythic terms (both are equally plausible). I simply suggest that those would be helpful to lay out in a systematic way, and that there are tools to do that.

Josh Reyer
09-15-2008, 01:06 AM
So the assertion is: Ueshiba named his ken system "A,B,C Ken" because it conveniently stratified three Shinkage kumitachi associated with Hikitsuchi, while other Deshi (Shirata, Saito, Takaoka, more?) used the appellation "A,B,C Ken" because Ueshiba used it . . . as a referent for three Shinkage kumitachi (associated with Hikitsuchi) while their ken may not have, or be limited to, these three kumitachi"?

Um, no. My "assertion" is this:


Ueshiba used the phrase "Sho-Chiku-Bai no Kempo".
This term was applied by him to three separate Shinkage Ryu kata that he saw and then reworked and linked together for his own art.
The best research to-date suggests that Ueshiba's knowledge of Shinkage Ryu was via Gejo Kosaburo.
Aside from this, "Sho-Chiku-Bai" has no relation to Shinkage Ryu, and is not a phrase that has appeared in any of the major densho, nor has it appeared in the minor densho that I have seen.


I'll add this: if there are other versions of aikiken that have links or provenance to Shinkage Ryu, and are referred to or linked to "Sho-Chiku-Bai no Kempo", this would again be a case of the term being applied by Ueshiba to his ken, and did not come from Shinkage Ryu.

I make no other "assertions" about the provenance of "Sho-Chiku-Bai no Kempo". I merely wanted to address the idea that Ueshiba got it from Shinkage Ryu. I have no idea where he actually got it from, and was merely attempting to provide some cultural and linguistic perspective.

To further clarify on the last point, I did not say, nor mean to imply that Sho-Chiku-Bai should just be translated as "A, B, C". My point was merely that in Japanese the phrase represents three things that are linked, and yet separate, and as such may have certainly appeared useful to Ueshiba to describe his concept of :triangle: :square: :circle: .

Walker
09-15-2008, 01:13 AM
Thanks everyone for your thoughts and ideas. That's a lot more than we started out with, but I have to say I'm still not satisfied that we've gotten to the bottom of the whole story. I'm with Allen that the equivalent of "A,B,C Sword Method" is a pretty thin appellation for a realization direct from all the Kami of Japan to a man who didn't shy away from the grandiose.

"All the gods of Japan gathered and brought aiki truly into life, fostering universal spirit and ACME Swordsmanship."

That said, before we started I didn't know that the name Sho Chiku Bai Kenpo used by Ueshiba himself so that alone is worthy of gratitude.

梅四杯を頼みましょうか。evileyes

edit: Josh, thanks for clearing up the Shinkage aspect. I think we were led a bit astray based on a conversation with Ellis that we probably read too much into. But not so far as to link Ueshiba's or Shirata's ken to Shinkage other than to note that we were on the mat with a Yagyu guy and a THSYR guy and we all three knew a kata (singular) that is pretty distinctive.

Peter Goldsbury
09-15-2008, 04:44 AM
Here is the final part of the chapter in Takemusu Aiki (which I did not translate for the column—actually, I was thinking primarily about copyright issues, but when the columns eventually become a book, it will be there, and probably quite a bit more). However, it is crucial for the present discussion on shochikubai. I have numbered the paragraphs.

In deference to Allen Beebe’s need to maintain his expertise in the Japanese language, I have left the text untranslated, but transcribed into Roman script. (I have used the Hepburn system because I cannot insert dashes to lengthen vowels: I am not certain that all the readings are correct.)

1. これが宗教の奥儀であると知り、武道の奥儀も宗教と一つなのであると知って法悦の涙にむせんで泣いた。
Korega shukyo no okugi de aru to shiri, budo no okugi mo shukyo to hitotsu nano de aru to shitte hoetsu no nami ni musende naita.

2. 山川草木、禽獣虫魚類にいたるまで、すべて大宇宙の一元の営みの現れである、と大神に敬虔な感謝が心からわいて、泣けてきてしまったのです。
San sen so moku, kin ju chu gyo rui ni itaru made, subete dai utchu no ichigen no itonami no araware de aru, to O kami ni keiken na kansha ga kokoro kara waite, nakete kite shimatta no desu.

3. その頃合気の稽古はやめました。ただその時体得した、松竹梅の剣法が残ったのです。
Sono koro, aiki no keiko wa yamemashita. Tada sono toki taitoku shita, sho chiku bai no kenpo ga nokotta no desu.

4. この合気は宇内のみそぎの行事であり、人としての道のつとめであります。
Kono aiki wa udai no misogi no gyoji de ari, hito toshite no michi no tsutome de arimasu.

5. 大きくは世界家族、小さくは日本家族、すべて一つの家族の一員となり、〝四方の海みな同胞と思う世で……〟という明治御大帝の大み心を奉仕してゆくことです。そして私は全 行いをみなさんと共になしてゆきたいと思っています。
Okiku wa sekai kazoku, chiisaku wa Nippon kazoku, subete hitotsu no kazoku no ichiin to nari, “yomo no umi mina harakara to omou yo de…” to iu Meiji Godaitei no mikokoro wo hoshi shite yuku koto desu. Soshite watashi wa zen okonai wo mina-san to tomo ni nashite yukitai to omotte imasu.

The crucial paragraph is Paragraph 3. There, Morihei Ueshiba states quite clearly that “at that time” (namely, the period when he had the visions and training with the white phantom swordsman), he stopped “aiki no keiko”. However, he achieved taitoku, which has the meanings of learning by experience and of acquiring mastery (of an art). This was what remained: expertise in the sword practice he called sho chiku bai, which seems to be equivalent to, or to have been acquired through, the training he did with the white phantom swordsman, who disappeared to the extent to which Ueshiba was able to control his sword thrusts.

Note that this is the point at which Morihei Ueshiba coins the phrase Takemusu Aiki for his art, but never gives any technical details of what this consists in (in terms of training or actual waza etc). Similarly, I think it is impossible to draw any conclusions about actual kumi-tachi, simply from O Sensei’ s use of the phrase Sho-chiku-bai. For this, I think you would need to research the individual sword kata created by O Sensei’s disciples, to see how they understood O Sensei's sho-chiku-bai no kenpo--but only after he moved to Iwama. To judge from the texts I have presented, he himself seems to have discounted the sword training he did beforehand.

So here is a promise. In October the IAF will hold a huge Congress in Tanabe, which is O Sensei’s birthplace. Among the shihans attending will be Hiroshi Tada, Nobuyoshi Tamura and Hiroshi Isoyama, but the aikido demonstration will be held at Kumano Jingu, close to the Kumano Juku of Hikitsuchi Sensei, with demonstrations given by his senior students. I will ask….and report.

Best wishes to all,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
09-15-2008, 05:15 AM
This is the connection, such as it is, mentioned by Mr. Amdur. Three forms taken from two of the Omote no Tachi, and named Sho-Chiku-Bai by Ueshiba. The forms have completely different names in Shinkage Ryu, and different places in the pedagogy of Shinkage Ryu; they are not any kind of unit or trio there. So this is a case of Ueshiba taking the physical forms and (after modifying the forms to fit his principles) adding his own particular nomenclature. There are no forms called Sho-Chiku-Bai in Shinkage Ryu.

Hello Josh,

Are you certain that it was Ueshiba himself who called the above three forms Sho-chiku-bai and not Hikitsuchi Sensei?

If the forms were general (not specially tailored for Hikitsuchi), one would expect to find them in Saito's kumitachi also. However, I think this is not the case.

There is pretty strong evidence that the terms aiki-ken and aiki-jo were never used by O Sensei himself, though this is what he supposedly taught in Iwama. There is a huge body of belief that it was Saito Sensei who faithfully transmitted the ken that O Sensei practised in Iwama, but it is the circumstances of the transmission that are in question.

Similarly, it can be argued that Hikitsuchi Sensei was also a faithful transmitter of what he had been taught by O Sensei, but that what he transmitted was not the sum total of what O Sensei himself called Sho-chiku-dai swordwork.

Best wishes,

PAG

Josh Reyer
09-15-2008, 06:48 AM
Are you certain that it was Ueshiba himself who called the above three forms Sho-chiku-bai and not Hikitsuchi Sensei?


Hello, Professor Goldsbury. As a matter of fact, I'm not at all sure who called the above forms "sho-chiku-bai". I suppose it could very easily have been Hikitsuchi-sensei. I would still contend, though, that Hikitsuchi-sensei got the names from Ueshiba references to sho-chiku-bai kenpo, and not from Shinkage Ryu.

Similarly, it can be argued that Hikitsuchi Sensei was also a faithful transmitter of what he had been taught by O Sensei, but that what he transmitted was not the sum total of what O Sensei himself called Sho-chiku-dai swordwork.


I entirely agree.

I'm with Allen that the equivalent of "A,B,C Sword Method" is a pretty thin appellation for a realization direct from all the Kami of Japan to a man who didn't shy away from the grandiose.

Really? But look at his curriculum. The five basic controls:

Ikkyo - First teaching.
Nikyo - Second teaching
Sankyo - Third teaching.
Yonkyo - Fourth teaching.
Gokyo - Fifth teaching.

Look at the aikiken of Saito:

Ichi-no-tachi - Sword one.
Ni-no-tachi - Sword two.
San-no-tachi - Sword three.
Yon-no-tachi - Sword four.
Go-no-tachi - Sword five.
Kimusubi-no-tachi - Sword of Ki Binding.

The most "picturesque" named aikido technique is "tenchi-nage", and tenchi is another common Japanese phrase and idiom.

But again, let me stress that simply because they used "Sho-Chiku-Bai" to grade papers doesn't mean it just means "A B C ken". My point is that Sho-Chiku-Bai is a phrase that represents simultaneously three things and one thing. To go 180 degrees in the opposite direction of the mundane produce grades, idiomatically it's like the Holy Trinity. The existence of one suggests the existence of the other two. The three words will refer to three different concepts/levels/grades, while at the same time be part of a whole. That's why it was used for marking produce, and grading papers, and as handy names in rakugo stories.

Let's assume for the moment, without better information, that Ueshiba named Hikitsuchi's sword forms Sho, Chiku, and Bai. As Mr. Amdur noted, they were meant to represent the Triangle (Irimi), the Circle (Tenkan), and the Square (Osae). Now if you design three kata that you want to represent these ideas, you could certainly call them Sword 1, 2, and 3 (like Kashima Shinto Ryu, and later Ueshiba did), or maybe "I Sword", "Ro Sword" and "Ha Sword". Or perhaps do like Shinkage Ryu and borrow the "Jo-Ha-Kyu" terminology of Noh. Or, he could have chosen Sho-Chiku-Bai because, unlike the above, it ties the three forms together as three parts of a whole, just as the circle, triangle and square represent three parts of the whole of Takemusu Aiki.

All I'm saying is that "Sho-Chiku-Bai" is not so unusual that it had to come from some specific outside source, which when examined would provide some kind of insight into his aikido. OTOH, neither is it so mundane as to just represent "A, B, C". It's a common term with picturesque and subtle meaning, which IMO makes it a good candidate for this kind of use.

Peter Goldsbury
09-15-2008, 07:16 AM
I find the visions and the explanation of the move to Iwama consistent. Kisshomaru reports him at the time concerned about a vision of cataclysmic fiery devastation then loosely concerned with Tokyo. After the fact he naturally associates this premonition with Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I certainly believe that the visions involving the white phantom swordsman and the move to Iwama were consistent. I have less confidence in the chronology of the other material and one of the reasons for this is that it conflicts with the other contemporary evidence, such as Kiyosawa's diary. It is irrefutable that B-29 bombers were NOT targeting mainland Japan in 1941, contrary to what Kisshomaru states in his biography. (Note that this was even before the Doolittle raids.) As for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I do not doubt Kisshomaru's good sense in excluding any mention of this in his biography.

That move was shortly following Doolittle's raid -- which was more jarring to the Japanese mythological psyche than the Pyrrhic win in Coral Sea or the disaster of Midway. The attack on the home islands is what eventually brought forth the image of the Divine Wind, and its modern implementation to defend against the ancient threat twice avoided by that means).
Well, I don't know much about mythological psyches, but the Doolittle raids were obvious to all who witnessed them. Nevertheless, government-directed air-raid drills were started only from the autumn of 1943. The army minister shrugged off the Doolittle raids with the words, "When several enemy planes come flying onto our territory, there is just no way to prevent them." (Havens, p. 155.) The losses of Coral Sea, Midway and Guadalcanal were actually presented as victories, until the B-29s provided irrefutable evidence (in late 1944) that Japan was really losing the war. The recruitment of kamikaze pilots occurred even after this.

If the thesis is Ueshiba has long associations with the bad boys of Showa, and has a vision he associates with divine intervention to alter his course, one could listen to what he says instead of wondering what he means that he has not said. With a record of forty-three kami that have served various tutelary roles in his training and in its realization -- you have an answer right there. Maybe not the whole answer -- but an answer. Given your preference for Hofstede, and what I see as his Jungian sociological typology -- it seems to me that examining the archetypal significance and functional associations of the forty-three Kami would be a good place to begin.
I do not understand your argument here. Where in the column have I "wondered what Ueshiba means that he has not said"? In addition, you see more in my 'preference for Hofstede' than I do, in particular with respect to Jungian sociological typology. In any case, the record of the 43 deities was provided by Kisshomaru (it is on p. 268 of the new translation of Kissomaru's biography), not by O Sensei himself in the texts I have quoted. So, why don't you yourself research the 'archetypal significance and functional associations' of the 43 kami? It will make a very good column.

Best wishes,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
09-15-2008, 08:08 AM
Really? But look at his curriculum. The five basic controls:

Ikkyo - First teaching.
Nikyo - Second teaching
Sankyo - Third teaching.
Yonkyo - Fourth teaching.
Gokyo - Fifth teaching.

Look at the aikiken of Saito:

Ichi-no-tachi - Sword one.
Ni-no-tachi - Sword two.
San-no-tachi - Sword three.
Yon-no-tachi - Sword four.
Go-no-tachi - Sword five.
Kimusubi-no-tachi - Sword of Ki Binding.

Hello Josh,

Part of the issue here is general nomenclature for certain waza or kata. Where is the evidence that the items in the above curriculum were actually used by O Sensei himself?

Best wishes,

raul rodrigo
09-15-2008, 08:57 AM
That move was shortly following Doolittle's raid -- which was more jarring to the Japanese mythological psyche than the Pyrrhic win in Coral Sea or the disaster of Midway. The attack on the home islands is what eventually brought forth the image of the Divine Wind, and its modern implementation to defend against the ancient threat twice avoided by that means).

I don't know what "mythological psyche" means, but the sources I know indicate that the Doolittle raid made little impression on the Japanese people in general. In The Second World War, John Keegan writes (page 271): "The citizens of Tokyo, to whom no public acknowledgment of the raid was made by the government, did not associate the scattering of explosions with an American attack." John Toland, in But not in Shame (page 362) says: "Since little damage was done, the raid caused no panic."

The generals and admirals like Tojo and Yamamoto used the fact of the raid to push for a decisive naval battle with the US—which led to Midway. Nonetheless, it would be difficult to argue that the Doolittle raid helped push Morihei to move to Iwama. It presupposes knowledge he did not in fact have.

The Doolittle raid mattered more in boosting the battered American psyche, but its effect on the Japanese mind was slight.

best,

R

Walker
09-15-2008, 12:23 PM
Josh, I think the trouble we are having is you are looking at individual kata i.e. three kata named sho, chiku and bai.

That doesn't match my experience. Don't know what those kata would be, don't know any named as such and have a bunch more than three kata in our ken so it just does not compute. I don't know how to respond to or discuss that idea.

I am looking at an entire adjunct sword system named Sho Chiku Bai Kenpo and wondering why Ueshiba (and Shirata and Hikitsuchi) called their entire ken curriculum (not kata) SCB.

I like the idea of SCB=3in1=TriCirSqare but I can't limit it to just 3 individual kata. I don't see that.

It is a bit like the quote Peter put up from Traditional Aikido Vol. 5.
The Japanese is: 剣には「松竹梅の剣法」がある。
The translation is: Ken has three characters called "sho" (pine), "chiku" (bamboo) and "bai" (plum).

I know just enough Japanese to get into trouble, but I think that it could just as easily be read as: As for the Ken there is "Shochikubai Kenpo". or Our sword style is called Shochikubai Kenpo.

Anyway, that is my big take away. Ueshiba called his ken Sho Chiku Bai Kenpo and his taijutsu Takemusu Aiki. What those terms mean is something to ponder and let grow over time.

Erick Mead
09-15-2008, 01:12 PM
I have less confidence in the chronology of the other material and one of the reasons for this is that it conflicts with the other contemporary evidence, such as Kiyosawa's diary. It is irrefutable that B-29 bombers were NOT targeting mainland Japan in 1941, contrary to what Kisshomaru states in his biography. (Note that this was even before the Doolittle raids.) As for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I do not doubt Kisshomaru's good sense in excluding any mention of this in his biography.... The event cannot be considered in isolation, but it fits into a a notable series of likely eye-opening events leading to the retreat to Iwama. In 1940 he attends a Manchurian demonstration in honor of the 2600th anniversary of the Empire. That gave him a glimpse of the state of the Empire on the mainland and the demoralized military there after the Nomonhan disaster in 1939 (30% casualties) led to having the humiliation of having to seek terms with the Soviets over Manchuria/Mongolia (the reverse of the plan they intended against the British in Southeast Asia).

The Doolittle raid is in April 1942. Also in April of 1942 the Honkeiko mine disaster brings to light the working conditions of Chinese slave labor in Manchuria, under "enlightened" Japanese rule, in an event far too large to escape notice to anyone who actually visited Manchuria. In August 1942 he attends another Manchuria demonstration, and sees the further effects of Nomonhan, which by then is realized in treaty terms finalized with the Soviets in October of '41.

On one or the other of his Manchuria trips given his long Kempeitai connections, it is conceivable that he heard of aspects of Unit 731 and its associated labs. The headquarters and at least one other lab were in Manchuria and one in Inner Mongolia). These labs were using live human subjects testing biological and chemical weapons and reputedly also engaged in human vivisection. e.g. --http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-439776/Doctors-Depravity.html This possibility brings a certain characteristically Japanese depth of understatement to the quote: "Up till today not all karma of cause & effect in Japan have been managed properly."

The sequence also suggests that he may have been privy to rumors of Unit 731 in the 1940 visit that troubled him so deeply (he had his second vision that year, remember upon his return), that he made efforts during his 1942 visit to find out if the rumors had any basis in truth. Reputedly, 1942 was the year that Gen. Ishii tested large scale dispersants for biological weapons on live subjects. That kind of thing is hard to completely hide. There was at least one medical journal article in the States reporting the rumor of this test in the latter part of 1942.

On his return home from Manchuria in 1942 he suddenly moves to Iwama -- essentially into someone's unprepared garden shed. If he did discover anything reliable about Unit 731 in August 1942 a sudden abandonment of his tattered tatemae -- and unexpected retreat from the social reality that produced such a horror is completely understandable. It is the kind of thing he would likely have had difficulty sharing, even with his son. To whom does he reach for aid? A deep transformative recourse to divine salvation from such evil is the rule rather than the exception in human experience. Paul on the Damascus Road comes to mind. Former personal associations with those perhaps involved in it certainly call for far more than mere abjuration.

This is much supposition but the repeated chronology of "Manchuria = powerful vision" has some explanatory force to suggest that something deeply troubling was disclosed to him in Manchuria.and its nature more strongly felt the second time. The nature of the thing that propels an otherwise stable person into having divine visions is usually very traumatic. Something on the scale of progressive disillusionment that this history suggests, culminating in a revelation of any of the activities of Unit 731 would certainly fit the bill for anyone of even modest moral sensibilities.

In this context, the consuming fire he feared and remarks to his son about may be a concern about the just retribution of karma for the entire nation. And, yes, I rather doubt that possibility would sit too well with the Hiroshima town council.

Erick Mead
09-15-2008, 01:21 PM
I do not understand your argument here. Where in the column have I "wondered what Ueshiba means that he has not said"? It is in the part dealing with the "audacious" belief that he had foreseen the atomic bombing. Kisshomaru confirms that contemporaneous with the move he foresaw some conflagration (Tokyo he assumed), and I read this as a later association of a prior intuition with the advent of the atomic weapons.

You express some (understandable) incredulity at the "miraculous" in the premonition, whereas I see in the entire context a true and deeply foreboding image of fiery destruction -- that is only later ascribed to specific events. That seems to cause you some dismissal of what he understood initially or how he understood it then or later. As you said -- you "erred on the side of ‘rationality." But mythological understanding is not strictly rational -- that does not mean it is madness or not understandable or useful -- we are not entirely rational creatures -- especially in matters of life and death.
There is only one way to stop the war. Up till today not all karma of cause & effect in Japan have been managed properly. For this to happen we (the deities) give you divine power. Thus you yourself have to work to stop the war." In fact, I didn't believe that I could not perform such a great task.

Then: Since I had also heard from the deity that there was a danger of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I knew (this) before it happened. However, I thought there was no way of telling everybody about such an event. I thought I would play my role in silence, so that I could protect myself.

You ascribe an aggrandizing view of himself as a "deified Superman." I hear him saying he has become subject to and a tool of forces greater than himself, while not losing his sense of small "self" in the process. In our imagery, he portrays himself as Jonah-like -- not Christ-like. But, you actually give the moral criticism delivered to Jonah in your comment, "If Ueshiba had such knowledge, why did he protect himself by not making it public? Where was his sense of responsibility to the prospective victims?"

But that is exactly where our western sensibility of divine command ends and his begins. His perceived command from the divine was different from that of Jonah -- who had shirked the command to go warn those under judgment.
He says: The deity Saru-ta-hi-ko-o-kami appeared and spoke to me. "Without delay build a shrine and dojo for Takemusu Aiki (a 36-mat sacred dojo)." In accordance with the instruction I built (the shrine and dojo) on land to which I (had) retreated in the town of Iwama, Ibaragi Prefecture, where I had just a small house. ... I could not speak to people who (because they) could not see with these eyes (sc. the things that I saw). Even now I still have the same attitude (about not speaking to people about this). The fact is that Saru-ta-hi-ko-o-kami had required me to build (the shrine). On this occasion Saru-ta-hi-ko-o-kami instructed me, ‘The command I have given you is the command I received from the Great Deity of Ise.' ... I have kept this secret deep in my heart and never told anybody. I thought I should do it simply because I had been told to do so by the deity. The deity told me that if I did it, then the war would stop. Thus, I kept silent and built (the dojo). This having been done, the Great Pacific War came to an end.It is a matter of consequence that kami (save only the three kami of creation) require embodiment in a place or object (mono) to have particular temporal effect. The statement "they could not see with these eyes" speaks to his perception, as he believed coming from a personal embodiment of kami, and the simultaneous lack of a more durable embodiment in mono that could be seen and preserved by others. By broadening the embodiment in an Aiki shrine made the mono of the kami available to many. In his way of thinking, from the Aiki shrine flows a kami embodiment in Aikido itself, a deified True Budo that alone could have the possibility of ending war. This alos explains why the period of technical development ends and his period of divine traing began. On can see it as expression of a belief that Aikido had ceased to depend on him -- that he had entrusted it entirely to the divine guidance and became thereafter utterly secure in this commitment.

We can, as Westerners and in rational terms, interpret the existence and nature of what O Sensei perceived differently. His meaning seems to me not so grandiose personally, as it is deeply committed to his idea of the need to actively participate in readying requirements for a divine deliverance, and and trust in that deliverance. It is itself an expression of Aiki, in other words. Despite some differing ideas on the specifics of the nature and process of the divine, that is not a terribly different faith posture from most of Christendom, actually. It may explain some of the broad appeal of Aikido among the still (at least nominally) Christian West.

Erick Mead
09-15-2008, 01:23 PM
... you see more in my 'preference for Hofstede' than I do, in particular with respect to Jungian sociological typology. In any case, the record of the 43 deities was provided by Kisshomaru (it is on p. 268 of the new translation of Kissomaru's biography), not by O Sensei himself in the texts I have quoted. So, why don't you yourself research the 'archetypal significance and functional associations' of the 43 kami? It will make a very good column.You introduced me to Hofstede, but my interest in Jung and psychological typology long predated it as a tool for making close discrimination between people's ways of thinking and doing (a personal as well as a professional interest). It was very interesting to learn of Hofstede's related approach to similar concepts at the sociological level. From what you relate, Kisshomaru gave the scroll from his father a good deal of weight as a very personaI, primary disclosure, and he invites our interpretation of its mythological significance in modern terms. I guess I was suggesting someone might have already done this, and perhaps it could be related or a source noted. If not, I may take you up on that.

sorokod
09-15-2008, 03:46 PM
Hello Professor Goldsbury

Thank you for the wonderful research.
I believe that the following is a typo:
...at the outbreak of war with China in 1973 and with the United States in 1941.

-- david

Allen Beebe
09-15-2008, 06:14 PM
In deference to Allen Beebe’s need to maintain his expertise in the Japanese language, I have left the text untranslated, . . .

Gee thanks Peter. :rolleyes:

You must have been one of those professors that actually taught because you display the characteristic indifference (some even say enjoyment) to your student's sufferings . . . I even mentioned my plight to my students this morning as I gave them their assignments for the week. :D

And here I was just patting myself on the back about the Takaoka piece. (It wasn't so bad since it was in an electronic format! ;) )

At least you aren't asking me to write in Japanese. (Passive comprehension is such a beautiful thing.) Then you'd really have an idea of my level of "expertise in the Japanese language!"

(At least I know what I'm writing about! :disgust: )

Grumble, mumble,

Allen
(Native comprehension is such an over rated thing. Whatever happened to proud presumptuousness as exemplified by Comparative Religion during the glory days of colonization?)

Peter Goldsbury
09-15-2008, 06:32 PM
Hello Professor Goldsbury

Thank you for the wonderful research.
I believe that the following is a typo:

-- david

Hello David,

Many thanks. There are actually one or two more.:)

Rennis Buchner
09-15-2008, 07:24 PM
My point was merely that in Japanese the phrase represents three things that are linked, and yet separate, and as such may have certainly appeared useful to Ueshiba to describe his concept of :triangle: :square: :circle: .

Probably going way off topic here, but outside of Ellis' comments, has there been any looking into the use of the :triangle: :square: :circle: symbols and their meaning predating Ueshiba's use of them? For example my own ryu (dating from about 1600) uses all three together with an additional two (those being a straight line and basically a 90 degree "L"), the names in Japanese being 方圓曲直鋭, with the symbols matching as 方:square: ,圓:circle: ,曲 "L",直"l", 鋭:triangle: . If I recall correctly Karl Friday's "Legacies of the Sword" discusses what seemed to be similar terminology of five (without showing the symbols) as well. Does Ueshiba's usage of these symbols generally follow the standard as they appear in different arts? And is there any sign that Ueshiba at some point used all five? All of my books relating to Aikido are on the other side of the planet so I don't have much to go on in the library off hand.

Adding to the drift,
Rennis Buchner

Peter Goldsbury
09-15-2008, 08:54 PM
Probably going way off topic here, but outside of Ellis' comments, has there been any looking into the use of the :triangle: :square: :circle: symbols and their meaning predating Ueshiba's use of them? For example my own ryu (dating from about 1600) uses all three together with an additional two (those being a straight line and basically a 90 degree "L"), the names in Japanese being 方圓曲直鋭, with the symbols matching as 方:square: ,圓:circle: ,曲 "L",直"l", 鋭:triangle: . If I recall correctly Karl Friday's "Legacies of the Sword" discusses what seemed to be similar terminology of five (without showing the symbols) as well. Does Ueshiba's usage of these symbols generally follow the standard as they appear in different arts? And is there any sign that Ueshiba at some point used all five? All of my books relating to Aikido are on the other side of the planet so I don't have much to go on in the library off hand.

Adding to the drift,
Rennis Buchner

Hello Rennis,

One problem is that Ueshiba explains the symbols in terms of kotodama theory. He uses the the circle, square and triangle, but also three more: cross in a circle in a square; circle bisected four times; same bisected circle in a square. This is all in the (as yet untranslated) Takemusu Aiki volume. Clearly kotodama theory would be the place to look.

Best wishes,

PAG

Josh Reyer
09-15-2008, 09:57 PM
Josh, I think the trouble we are having is you are looking at individual kata i.e. three kata named sho, chiku and bai.

I like the idea of SCB=3in1=TriCirSqare but I can't limit it to just 3 individual kata. I don't see that.


Doug, I apparently haven't been clear, and for that I apologize. Getting a big bogged down in minutia, I guess.

I am not looking at three individual kata as the whole of "Sho-chiku-bai no kempo". Rather, I'm looking at the three Hikitsuchi kata so named because I think they provide a viable clue as to why Ueshiba used that name.

I'm looking at it this way. Ueshiba referred to "Sho-chiku-bai no kempo". Okay, what does that mean? Why "Sho-chiku-bai"? Well, it certainly isn't referring to the trees themselves. What examples do we have of him using it?

Professor Goldbury has provided some of those examples, but they don't exactly suggest why "sho-chiku-bai". OTOH, Meik Skoss and Ellis Amdur say that there are three kata in Hikitsuchi's ken called Sho, Chiku, and Bai, and that the first represents Irimi (triangle) , the second Tenkan (circle) , and the last Osae (square).

Now, as Professor Goldsbury has pointed out, how much of this is direct from Ueshiba, and how much is extrapolated by Hikitsuchi, we don't know. But forget the three kata themselves for a minute. Here we have a clear connection made between the words Sho-Chiku-Bai, and Ueshiba's favored symbols :triangle: :circle: :square: . We further have connection between Sho-Chiku-Bai and Irimi, Tenkan, and Osae, basic principles of aikido engagement.

So, from my perspective (admittedly on the outside looking in at your kenpo), it doesn't matter how many or what kata one might have in one's swordwork. Being called Sho-Chiku-Bai would seem to suggest that it represents these fundamental principles of aikido: :triangle: :circle: :square: and/or Irimi, Tenkan, Osae. (Noting of course that often in these kinds of situations something can have multiple, layered meanings.)

Of course, this isn't "the answer". It's merely a suggestion, a clue, a lead to follow. I suspect "the answer", like the meaning of :triangle: :circle: :square: , can only come through one's personal understanding of one's personal aikido.

Consider everything else I've written on "Sho-Chiku-Bai" (produce, grades, etc) as providing idiomatic background, so one doesn't assume it just refers to mere trees.

Rennis Buchner
09-15-2008, 10:18 PM
Hello Rennis,

One problem is that Ueshiba explains the symbols in terms of kotodama theory. He uses the the circle, square and triangle, but also three more: cross in a circle in a square; circle bisected four times; same bisected circle in a square. This is all in the (as yet untranslated) Takemusu Aiki volume. Clearly kotodama theory would be the place to look.

Best wishes,

PAG

Thanks for the reply,

Interesting, I'll have to look into getting a Japanese copy of Takemusu Aiki then. While some of the details differ, we similarly have various combinations of the symbols used together and separately. Square in a circle, triangle in a circle, two triangles merged to form a 6 pointed star inside a circle, circle bisected by the straight line, circle within a circle, cross, etc. I get the impression that Ueshiba wasn't breaking new ground so much as playing with and putting his own spin on possibly well established themes.

As an aside, I've only just recently started reading aiki related things in Japanese, but in English we often hear of the idea of "not clashing" and such, but was there any particular phrase that Ueshiba was fond of using to express this idea? I ask because over the years I've found an awful lot of "common ground" philosophically between the ryu I practice and aikido and one of the major tenants of our ryu is something known as 不当之矩 which was one of the first things that really grabbed my attention in the "well this sure sounds familiar" sense several years ago.

Drifting....
Rennis Buchner

Peter Goldsbury
09-15-2008, 11:35 PM
The event cannot be considered in isolation, but it fits into a a notable series of likely eye-opening events leading to the retreat to Iwama. In 1940 he attends a Manchurian demonstration in honor of the 2600th anniversary of the Empire. That gave him a glimpse of the state of the Empire on the mainland and the demoralized military there after the Nomonhan disaster in 1939 (30% casualties) led to having the humiliation of having to seek terms with the Soviets over Manchuria/Mongolia (the reverse of the plan they intended against the British in Southeast Asia).

The Doolittle raid is in April 1942. Also in April of 1942 the Honkeiko mine disaster brings to light the working conditions of Chinese slave labor in Manchuria, under "enlightened" Japanese rule, in an event far too large to escape notice to anyone who actually visited Manchuria. In August 1942 he attends another Manchuria demonstration, and sees the further effects of Nomonhan, which by then is realized in treaty terms finalized with the Soviets in October of '41.

On one or the other of his Manchuria trips given his long Kempeitai connections, it is conceivable that he heard of aspects of Unit 731 and its associated labs. The headquarters and at least one other lab were in Manchuria and one in Inner Mongolia). These labs were using live human subjects testing biological and chemical weapons and reputedly also engaged in human vivisection. e.g. --http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-439776/Doctors-Depravity.html This possibility brings a certain characteristically Japanese depth of understatement to the quote: "Up till today not all karma of cause & effect in Japan have been managed properly."

The sequence also suggests that he may have been privy to rumors of Unit 731 in the 1940 visit that troubled him so deeply (he had his second vision that year, remember upon his return), that he made efforts during his 1942 visit to find out if the rumors had any basis in truth. Reputedly, 1942 was the year that Gen. Ishii tested largescale dispersants for biological weapons on live subjects. That kind of thing is hard to completely hide. There was at least one medical journal article in the States reporting the rumor of this test in the latter part of 1942.

On his return home from Manchuria in 1942 he suddenly moves to Iwama -- essentially into someone's unprepared garden shed. If he did discover anything reliable about Unit 731 in August 1942 a sudden abandonment of his tattered tatemae -- and unexpected retreat from the social reality that produced such a horror is completely understandable. It is the kind of thing he would likely have had difficulty sharing, even with his son. To whom does he reach for aid? A deep transformative recourse to divine salvation from such evil is the rule rather than the exception in human experience. Paul on the Damascus Road comes to mind. Former personal associations with those perhaps involved in it certainly call for far more than mere abjuration.

This is much supposition but the repeated chronology of "Manchuria = powerful vision" has some explanatory force to suggest that something deeply troubling was disclosed to him in Manchuria.and its nature more strongly felt the second time. The nature of the thing that propels an otherwise stable person into having divine visions is usually very traumatic. Something on the scale of progressive disillusionment that this history suggests, culminating in a revelation of any of the activities of Unit 731 would certainly fit the bill for anyone of even modest moral sensibilities.

In this context, the consuming fire he feared and remarks to his son about may be a concern about the just retribution of karma for the entire nation. And, yes, I rather doubt that possibility would sit too well with the Hiroshima town council.

Yours is a very interesting line of thinking. I understand well that you yourself do not see the events in isolation, but the extent to which this can be said of Morihei Ueshiba is open to question. I do not think it is clear to what extent the operations of Unit 731 were common knowledge in the Army, or to what extent Ueshiba knew about these—and whether it would have mattered to him. You simply assume that it would—in the light of what he later states about aikido and killing. Certainly they were not common knowledge among the general population and even now the Japanese government is very loath to admit publicly that anything like that actually happened.

I do not give the vision of conflagration in Tokyo the same value as you do. From the evidence I have read, it was common knowledge that the war had entered a serious phase in 1941, but it is not at all clear that it was common knowledge that the war was going badly at this point. Given his links with the Navy, it is possible that Ueshiba understood that war with the USA was not such a good move, but even Yamamoto Isoroku was prepared to fight to the death, against what he saw were increasingly difficult odds. Given his links with the Army, it is also possible that Ueshiba understood the issues being debated of whether to strike north, or south. And we know that it was Hideki Tojo who wanted to hold out to the bitter end in 1945. Air raid practices in Tokyo and Osaka had been held ever since 1928 and the practice was extended in 1937, but the effects of the Doolittle raids were discounted in Japan. The point was more that they had entered Japan’s sacred space than that they had done any damage. So I do not think that the threat of a conflagration of Tokyo, and by extension Hiroshima, was the prime motivation for the move. In the Takemusu Aiki volume Ueshiba contrasts the budo training in the Army with his own—and finds both wanting, as of 1940.

The issue is how you analyze and connect the evidence and it is clear to me that you and I think differently.

Demetrio Cereijo
09-15-2008, 11:42 PM
Sho Chiku Bai is also mentioned by Saito Morihiro in his Traditional Aikido.

"Ken has three characters called Sho (Pine), Chiku (Bamboo) and Bai (Plum). These characteres are independent of each other and yet are linked up together to produce variations, the basic form of which is Kumi Tachi (Matching Exercise)."

Vol 5, pg. 22.

Walker
09-16-2008, 12:27 AM
Thanks for persisting Josh. I think we are on the same page.

Erick Mead
09-16-2008, 01:44 PM
Yours is a very interesting line of thinking. I understand well that you yourself do not see the events in isolation, but the extent to which this can be said of Morihei Ueshiba is open to question. I do not think it is clear to what extent the operations of Unit 731 were common knowledge in the Army, or to what extent Ueshiba knew about these—and whether it would have mattered to him. You simply assume that it would—in the light of what he later states about aikido and killing. Certainly they were not common knowledge among the general population and even now the Japanese government is very loath to admit publicly that anything like that actually happened. They were certainly not common knowledge, but I believe the running thesis is that Ueshiba had more than common access.
Certinaly by the time of the 1940 plague-food airdrops and 1942 dispersant tests (thousands of subjects), word had leaked through China missionary/medical societies back to the States to be reported a medical journal in Colorado. 1942 was the time of at least eleven documented gas attacks along the North China Railway.

The difficulties of research into this are remarkable. Our own government has been, shall we say, less than forthcoming, because of the war crimes amnesties granted to the likes of Ishii. A fairly good work surveying the sources and these difficulties is found here: http://www.aiipowmia.com/reports/unit731essays.pdf. Personally, I do not believe that the issue is likely any time soon to be resolved above the level of suggestive speculation, given these complexities.

As to the nature of the change, I do not assume merely from his statements about killing -- I read what he said in specficially and contextually significant mythic terms -- as he had to have understood it. This all comes from what seems to be a critical series of episodes in Manchuria.

Looking at the arc of his work from Budo and Budo Renshu, these read much more like what one would expect of an ardent utopian nationalist, and imperialist, with strong traditionalist leanings. Arguably, one could say he abandons his utopianism with the break from Deguchi in the mid-thirties, and perhaps leans even harder on his nationalism and imperialism.

In the imperial family demonstration in 1941, though, he is oddly reticent to do it, if his nationalist imperial beliefs are untainted at that point. He has to be persuaded by Takeshita his patron who had set it up. This is in the interim of the '40 and '42 visits to Manchuria, but it is unclear if it was before or after the visit in '41. I have never seen a list of the attendees at the demonstration , but it is known that Prince Tsuneyoshi of the Takeda no miya (first cousin to the Showa Emperor, grandson to Meiji) WAS directly associated with the unit 731 project, at first in Manchuria and then later in the Southern Army at Saigon.

The tone radically changes at Iwama and this change, the visions and the move all hinge around the repeated visits to Manchuria in '40, '41 and 42. Ueshiba had seen war in Manchuria in 1904-05 -- he was no delicate philosophe. Something truly life-changing was revealed to him in Manchuria, much more than the ordinary consequences of war and death. Surely the national chastening at being held to a costly draw by the Russians at Khalkho/Nomonhan, whom they had a generation before humiliated, played a part. But, the visions and the strong belief in the need for divine rescue was more profound than mere disappointment in the progress of imperialist cause.

You had asked if I would provide a mythic exposition on the forty three tutelary kami. I have now read the part in "A Life in Aikido" where a few of them are summarized by Kisshomaru. I will at least attempt to show the gist of such an approach to this issue. Sarutahiko is the chief and first so let's start there and apply it to the particular problem of the Manchuria/Visions/Iwama chronicle.

That he expressed it only in mythic terms indicates that his change of heart would not be socially acceptable in conventional terms. Certainly, he was capable of writing and expressing himself more directly and objectively, as his two early works showed. Thus using myth was either choice or necessity. The retreat into religious mystery is a classically Japanese resolution of an irretrievably broken tatemae -- or a substitute for it. I don't pick the mythic as a basis for understanding this aspect of him out of my preference, but his, since it appears he had no other accceptable choice of expression.

I do not give the vision of conflagration in Tokyo the same value as you do. ... So I do not think that the threat of a conflagration of Tokyo, and by extension Hiroshima, was the prime motivation for the move. You see the move as a consequence of the vision of conflagration. I see the vision of conflagration and the move both as consequences of something else, revealed by his "karma" comment and the close association of the three successive Manchuria trips (I had forgotten about the '41 trip) to the radical religious turn in his practice and understanding of his purpose.

And I think, respectfully, you may not have considered the scope of the audacity of his visions as they concern the Emperor's position. Where you seem to ascribe a pragmatically surreptitious continuity of the yamato damashii in his mind -- I see radical, indeed, epic disjunction -- from what he said and did about it after Manchuria, specifically, not merely after the War was lost and a new tatemae regime is in force to appease the foreign occupation with "make-nice" words.

The message of Sarutahiko reveals a command of Amaterasu. That is appealing ABOVE the power of the Emperor. This is a serious break with the ordinary yamato-damashii Emperor ideology one expects and sees in Budo and Budo Renshu . The Emperor alone is supposed to be the vehicle informing humanity of the divine will. Norinaga would be turning in his grave.

THIS mythology matters a great deal. The war was the DIRECT command of the Emperor. Stopping the war went directly against the command of the Emperor. This is a "Big Deal" (tm) culturally, socially, legally, religiously and metaphysically.

The visions purport to place Ueshiba's role, as a delegate of divine Amaterasu, the highest embodied heavenly kami, under the direct command of Sarutahiko, the highest earthly kami. Quite literally, the powers of Heaven and Earth have commanded him to countermand the Emperor by undertaking a divine task -- not a practical human one.

Sarutahiko is the kami of righteousness and justice -- i.e. this signals something is really badly wrong if he is personally on the scene -- and really badly wrong with the entire earthly order -- from the Emperor on down. To end the war the Emperor had begun -- Ueshiba by his visions is claiming superior moral and spiritual authority to the divine Emperor in order to do it. A REALLY Big Deal (tm).

Only a reaction to something tremendously and systemically wicked could possibly have called forth such a radical break with Japan's deeply held conventional moral ans spiritual hierarchy, with which he was formerly very attached and in agreement with. It is as close as one can come in purely Japanese cultural terms to a "Damascus road" moment. The Shrine and Aikido are his divine tasks -- to Japan (first) and the world (second), respectively.

And not only did the war end. In terms of myth, the Emperor was forced by an earthly power (thus also under the mythic authority of Sarutahiko) to abdicate from his divinity as the price of his human position. As such, the successors and followers of Sarutahiko begin their quest to reestablish his restored rulership of the earthly realm -- standing on the Ame no Ukihashi, as he did, mediating between the powers of heaven and of earth -- in place of the line of emperor to whom Sarutahiko had surrendred that position long ago.

Since the Emperor, consider as kami, was a kind of "living shrine" embodying the yamato-damashii- his abdication un-ensrhines him -- the yamato-damashii is symbolically broken from its source in Amaterasu -- as Ueshiba's mythic account gives it to us. Thus, in these terms, the enshrinement of Sarutahiko in the Aiki shrine and by extension in Aikido itself is a restoration a newer (and older) spirit of righteousness and justice now about in the land.

The issue is how you analyze and connect the evidence and it is clear to me that you and I think differently.You have a very appropriate scholarly detachment and the laudable suspension of any particular conclusions awaiting a full survey of the evidence. I come from a forensic background. Therefore, haziness of evidence does not deter me from coming to some preliminary conclusions at least at one level of inference beyond the available evidence, based on both objective and subjective analyses -- if nothing else, so as to frame inquiry looking for more evidence. Without a working theory, facts just sit there and do not direct you anywhere; without filling a theory up with some weighty facts, theories are wicker frameworks that just blow away. History is the acts of people, and therefore understanding their rational AND non-rational subjective motivations personal understandings is at least as important as their objective interests and concerns.

Peter Goldsbury
09-16-2008, 10:05 PM
They were certainly not common knowledge, but I believe the running thesis is that Ueshiba had more than common access.

Possibly. I think the issue is how much access.

You have a very appropriate scholarly detachment and the laudable suspension of any particular conclusions awaiting a full survey of the evidence. I come from a forensic background. Therefore, haziness of evidence does not deter me from coming to some preliminary conclusions at least at one level of inference beyond the available evidence, based on both objective and subjective analyses -- if nothing else, so as to frame inquiry looking for more evidence. Without a working theory, facts just sit there and do not direct you anywhere; without filling a theory up with some weighty facts, theories are wicker frameworks that just blow away. History is the acts of people, and therefore understanding their rational AND non-rational subjective motivations personal understandings is at least as important as their objective interests and concerns.

You have explained the difference between my own methods and your approach very clearly. This column presents Morihei Ueshiba in his own words as far as possible and leaves the reader to judge. The fact of the move to Iwama is right there, with the texts. I think the political situation in Manchuria is a different matter. I do not think we know to what extent Manchuria was a factor in Ueshiba's decision to move to Iwama. The evidence is lacking.

sorokod
09-17-2008, 04:34 AM
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=216162&postcount=25)
One of the points of this column was to attempt to explain the intense focus on weapons training in Iwama, at this stage in the Founder's life.

Do you have an insight into the Founder's reluctance to teach weapons outside of Iwama after the war?

Peter Goldsbury
09-17-2008, 10:44 AM
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=216162&postcount=25)

Do you have an insight into the Founder's reluctance to teach weapons outside of Iwama after the war?

I think this is a complex question and there are no ready answers. In the column I have tried to present the evidence that Morihei Ueshiba considered Iwama to be a special place, where he consorted with his tutelary deities. In my opinion, he regarded his own training with weapons: sho-chiku-bai no ken, to be an essential part of this association--at least at this time. Notice that I have not said "taught". Rather, he appears to have trained with Saito Shihan as his partner.

Apart from the Kumano Juku, of Mr Hikitsuchi, Iwama seems to be the only dojo where was such an intense focus on weapons, especially sword--at least for a decade or so, until he started to visit other places, and until weapons came to have lessening importance later in his life. There is also the undoubted fact that he had in effect given over the Tokyo Dojo to Kisshomaru and did not interfere with the running of the dojo. Of course, he would teach there, and taught there increasingly often, but the Tokyo Dojo was not a laboratory/shrine for him.

It is true, however, that nearly all his senior students did train with weapons--and developed their own systems. Saito Sensei was preeminent, but not the only one to do so.

I have not really answered your question, but I do not think that Ueshiba's occasional anger at bad practice amounts to a total ban on teaching weapons outside Iwama. I think you would need to search out the interviews with the senior students like Tamura and Tada Shihans.

Best wishes,

Fred Little
09-17-2008, 10:57 AM
IApart from the Kumano Juku, of Mr Hikitsuchi, Iwama seems to be the only dojo where was such an intense focus on weapons, especially sword--at least for a decade or so, until he started to visit other places, and until weapons came to have lessening importance later in his life. There is also the undoubted fact that he had in effect given over the Tokyo Dojo to Kisshomaru and did not interfere with the running of the dojo. Of course, he would teach there, and taught there increasingly often, but the Tokyo Dojo was not a laboratory/shrine for him.

More than one person who experienced Saito Sensei's instruction in both Tokyo and Iwama has told me that when he taught weapons classes in Tokyo, if Ueshiba Morihei was also in Tokyo, a lookout would be stationed. If the Ueshiba was sighted heading for the dojo, the weapons would be put away before he entered.

Tatemae is a curious thing; still and all, the above seems like a useful observation to have on the record.

FL

Ron Tisdale
09-17-2008, 11:00 AM
Hi Peter, I'm currious about this statement
Apart from the Kumano Juku, of Mr Hikitsuchi, Iwama seems to be the only dojo where was such an intense focus on weapons, especially sword--at least for a decade or so, until he started to visit other places, and until weapons came to have lessening importance later in his life.

It is my understanding that Shirata Sensei had quite a focus on weapons, and that his embodiment of that focus was quite well respected by experienced weapons people. Am I off base here, or is the time period under discussion what excludes Shirata Sensei and his dojo?

Best,
Ron

Peter Goldsbury
09-17-2008, 11:40 AM
Hi Peter, I'm currious about this statement

It is my understanding that Shirata Sensei had quite a focus on weapons, and that his embodiment of that focus was quite well respected by experienced weapons people. Am I off base here, or is the time period under discussion what excludes Shirata Sensei and his dojo?

Best,
Ron

Hello Ron,

In the Founder's writings, the cut-off point is the training with the phantom swordsman in 1940 and 1942. Before this time weapons were taught in the Kobukan and at one point Kendo specialist Kiyoshi Nakakura was his son-in-law. Shirata Sensei was an early student at the Kobukan and clearly studied weapons there. Later on, he also picked up tips from Morihiro Saito. However, I am less certain whether O Sensei taught weapons in Yamagata, where Shirata was situated, after the war. Remember that there was a major gap in Shirata Sensei's public aikido training. I think it is pretty clear that Hikitsuchi Sensei learned something called Sho-chiku-bai ken, and Shirata Sensei and Nobuyoshi Tamura both talk about this training. With Tamura, this would certainly have been after 1942 and probably with Shirata Sensei also. Where would they have done it? To judge from Fred's post, clearly not in the Tokyo Hombu under O Sensei's eyes.

Best wishes,

PAG

Erick Mead
09-17-2008, 11:46 AM
You have explained the difference between my own methods and your approach very clearly. This column presents Morihei Ueshiba in his own words as far as possible and leaves the reader to judge. The fact of the move to Iwama is right there, with the texts. I think the political situation in Manchuria is a different matter. I do not think we know to what extent Manchuria was a factor in Ueshiba's decision to move to Iwama. The evidence is lacking.You are certainly correct, the objective goes as far as you take it and not much further at the moment. But -- in understanding a man, as they say, walk a mile in his moccasins. When I address issues of mechanics I seek a high degree of objective description (admittedly, annoyingly so to many, perhaps). When I am examining motivations and intentions, it requires, in my experience, an interior approach that steps one pace beyond the objective. Since he expressed himself mythically, it seems appropriate to seek his understanding mythically and at face value in its own terms. I am not about to worship Sarutahiko or commune with O Sensei as the embodiment of Murakumo-Kuki-Samuhara Ryu-O, but he did feel that way, those thoughts begin to dominate his discussions not merely post-war, but specifically post- 1942. They have meaning and consequence that are useful to examine in their context.

To put the issue on point however, given the prior association with Genyosha, Sakurakai and all manner of passionate Emperor devotees, is it not the case that something fairly terrible had to have occurred to have him express an plain intention to assist in opposing the divine Imperial will, as opposed to merely satisfying the Occupation authorities that he became politically opposed to the war after 1942?

If one would suggest that the point is in fabricating a cover up or figleaf for his prior associations in service of a new tatemae after the Occupation -- why do so (at that point) in such subtle, mystical terms that mean little or nothing to Westerners ? Why not simply point to the retreat to Iwama, say that he became disillusioned and opposed to the war and that was why he removed himself from public life. Put to you another way, and in your terms-- what evidence is there that would suggest this mythological exposition is in service of tatemae and not honne?

Ron Tisdale
09-17-2008, 12:08 PM
Thanks for the speedy response Peter. Maybe Allen can share some history on the weapons practice of Shirata Sensei. Although often downplayed now days, John Stevens has taught me a version of the sho-chiku-bai kenpo and as I remember he stressed that it contained the possibility of a more free form back and forth than is usually seen in aiki-weapons kata. I think he also referenced a non-aikido source for some of it. If I get to see him this fall I might try to get some more info on it.

Best,
Ron

C. David Henderson
09-17-2008, 01:58 PM
This will be my first post on this site; my thanks for your consideration of my question:

I've been reading the exchange between Professor Goldsbury and Mr. Mead, and it seems to me two somewhat separate issues are cojoined in their discussion.

> One is whether O'Sensei's move to Iwama was in any way related to events in Manchuria;

> The other is whether we can understand the move more fully by attempting to understand his motives and actions in a "mythic" and situational context. As I understand the argument, this analysis rests on an examination of Japanese mythology; Ueshiba's religious beliefs; and the social context in which he expressed those beliefs, understood in cultural context.

I think the exchange has established that the Manchurian thesis is an interesting one that can't be "proven" based on the historical record; but so far the invited "mythic" analysis seems embedded in the discussion of whether O'Sensei was reacting in some way in part to events in the war in China.

One may dispute, accept, or entertain for entertainment's sake the hypothesis that events in Manchuria are relevant to the move to Iwama. However, that still leaves unanswered how O'Sensei's visions, statements, and actions would have been viewed by someone who shared his beliefs and cultural understanding.

Professor Goldsbury, what do you make of Mr. Mead's proposition that Ueshiba's revelations amounted to what I will call a "heavenly indictment" of the Emperor giving his imprimatur to the decision to go to war based on your understanding of the deities he discusses? Does this line up with the textual evidence of what Ueshiba reported?

This discussion reminds me of the analysis of an anthropologist named Marshall Sahlins about Captain Cook's arrival in Hawaii, and how the resulting conflict was ennacted by each side based on very different cultural understandings.

Sahlins makes what I found to be a very cogent argument that to the Hawaiians, Cooks arrival coincided with and evoked as reinactment the arrival of a particular deity; hence his initial reception as an avatar of that deity. Subsequently, when Cook returned, he happened to return at the point in the mythic cycle when that deity is ritually killed, and Cook's actions upon return were subsumed into this mythic "text" by the Hawaiians, who eventually attacked and killed Cook (and reportedly ate his heart).

Similarly, I agree with the idea that understanding O'Sensei's decision (to the extent possible) should focus on bth the "mythic" and situational context of his visions.

I'd be curious about other's reactions to this analysis -- does this help us undertand?

Cordially,

David Henderson

Jeff Scheurer
09-17-2008, 04:03 PM
Hey Ron!
If you can't make it when Stevens Sensei visits this year I was going to ask him about it also. This thread has me curious about the source for his interpretation. Hope you can make it though! It'd be good to train with you again.

Fred Little
09-17-2008, 04:15 PM
To put the issue on point however, given the prior association with Genyosha, Sakurakai and all manner of passionate Emperor devotees, is it not the case that something fairly terrible had to have occurred to have him express an plain intention to assist in opposing the divine Imperial will.....

The underlying problem with this analysis is that one of the core Oomoto-kyo doctrines relates to the deity Ushitora-no-konjin, "the hidden god", a male deity whose position was improperly taken by Amaterasu-Omikami. In this line of Oomoto doctrine, the essential problem with Japan was precisely its rule by a royal line associated with a female deity who improperly usurped the central role that rightfully belonged to a deeper, and more profound, male deity.

Accordingly, the tatemae that follows from this theological principle is the public accession to the pretensions of the Emperor and the use of the "black box" associated with the Imperial line (that same black box discussed at length in an earlier essay), and the honne that would follow is the critical necessity of the Emperor's displacement in order to achieve yo-naoshi; in this regard, Ueshiba's deeper self-identification with Susanoo-woo-no-mikoto and with Ame-no-murakumo-kuki-samuhara-ryoo must be regarded as critical and -- perhaps-- definitive in regard to any mythopoetic analysis.

Any argument that there was some essential change in Ueshiba's own views would have to find a way to address (and set aside) both core principles of the theology to which he adhered, and the personal identifications which he maintained both before and after the move to Iwama.

Best,

FL

George S. Ledyard
09-17-2008, 05:39 PM
I think this is a complex question and there are no ready answers. In the column I have tried to present the evidence that Morihei Ueshiba considered Iwama to be a special place, where he consorted with his tutelary deities. In my opinion, he regarded his own training with weapons: sho-chiku-bai no ken, to be an essential part of this association--at least at this time. Notice that I have not said "taught". Rather, he appears to have trained with Saito Shihan as his partner.

Apart from the Kumano Juku, of Mr Hikitsuchi, Iwama seems to be the only dojo where was such an intense focus on weapons, especially sword--at least for a decade or so, until he started to visit other places, and until weapons came to have lessening importance later in his life. There is also the undoubted fact that he had in effect given over the Tokyo Dojo to Kisshomaru and did not interfere with the running of the dojo. Of course, he would teach there, and taught there increasingly often, but the Tokyo Dojo was not a laboratory/shrine for him.

It is true, however, that nearly all his senior students did train with weapons--and developed their own systems. Saito Sensei was preeminent, but not the only one to do so.

I have not really answered your question, but I do not think that Ueshiba's occasional anger at bad practice amounts to a total ban on teaching weapons outside Iwama. I think you would need to search out the interviews with the senior students like Tamura and Tada Shihans.

Best wishes,

I have written about this else where but it is relevant to the discussion here... In the post war period you see a divergence between the training offered to the general student body and the training offered the students considered as the uchi deshi at the Hombu Dojo (the fact that these people might not have been the same kind of "uchi deshi" as the prewar deshi is another discussion that's been made at length).

My exposure to post war uchi deshi comes via my exposure to three of the students from that time, namely, my own teacher, Saotome Sensei, my Assistant Chief Instructor's (Kevin Lam) teacher, Imaizumi Sensei, and Chiba Sensei.

Both Kevin Lam and I were both told that there were sword classes of an optional nature that were made available to interested uchi deshi at the Hombu Dojo. Clearly, teachers like Yamada Sensei, although of the same generation, chose to not attend as there is no evidence of this in their teaching.

Both Kevin and I asked who taught these classes and were immediately rewarded with responses that strongly resembled the testimony at the Watergate hearings. In other words, no answer was given, memories were suddenly cloudy (this from people who normally remembered everything about their training in those years with great clarity).

The fact remains that both Saotome Sensei have a bunch of sword material which clearly came from Kashima, Yagyu and Itto Ryu sources. Saotome Sensei's, as is his wont, has been highly personalized. His forms are his own but the elements came from somewhere and are very different from Saito Sensei's work at Iwama. However, Imaizumi Sensei's students actually have notebooks with forms that are straight out of Itto Ryu and Imaizumi Sensei never studied Itto Ryu formally.

Chiba Sensei also has quite a lot of sword work that does not resemble to any large degree what was taught at Iwama, although he also has some that does seem to derive from that work. I was never able to ask him about where he learned his sword. I am not directly familiar with Kanai sensei's sword work but he had the reputation of being an excellent swordsman and he was of that same generation as well.

Anyway, it is my own guess that O-Sensei, and perhaps also his son, Kisshomaru, arranged for instructors to come in and do classes for some of the deshi. That is the only way I can account for material in their sword work that clearly derived from various koryu, even ryu that no one seems to think O-Sensei had studied... It isn't even a matter of individuals sneaking off to study sword elsewhere, as did happen as I understand it, because there are tremendous similarities between what the deshi at this time put into their sword work (the ones who did much sword anyway).

I think it is very much a mistake to think that O-Sensei discouraged weapons training outside of Iwama. The evidence would run counter to that. Although all of the uchi deshi from Hombu had the chance to train at Iwama regularly when they attended O-Sensei during his stays there, at least the teachers I mentioned have a large body of material which did not come from that training.

Given O-Sensei's unstructured style of teaching, there is no way that this material was simply acquired in the instructor classes offered by the Founder. So I am left with the fact that this material exists, no one will say exactly where it came from, it must have been sanctioned by the Founder or at the very least, his son, and that this training was not offered to everyone training at the Hombu Dojo because only a very small number of folks seems to have done it.

So, whereas weapons training became downgraded and even removed from Hombu's general instructional offering over time, it is clear to me that weapons training was considered important for the developing professional instructors when O-Sensei was still alive. Those teachers from that period who journeyed overseas maintained that emphasis with their students. Each of the teachers I mentioned has produced students who are quite capable, at least by Aikido standards, in their weapons work.

In the face of all of this, I cannot see how one could maintain that weapons training was discouraged outside of Hombu or that the Founder did not want people doing weapons training.

Allen Beebe
09-17-2008, 06:33 PM
It is my understanding that Shirata Sensei had quite a focus on weapons, . . .

Yes, this was my experience. Easily on a par with Saito and others that I am familiar with.

Maybe Allen can share some history on the weapons practice of Shirata Sensei.

Unfortunately I cannot share much for the following reasons: a) When I first went to Japan in 1986 my Japanese was minimal at best. b) As my Japanese improved I was receiving so much input (incredible volumes) that my focus unfortunately was on trying to master that, rather than avail myself of opportunities to ask Sensei important historical questions. c) My scope of training, access and correspondence with Shirata sensei was from 1986 until 1993 when he passed.

Consequently, I can, and do, teach much (maybe all, I don't know maybe I missed something) of what Shirata sensei taught of both ken and jo to the best of my ability, but there is much that I don't know about its history. This is why I have, and will continue to, ask the questions that I do. There is much that I don't know that I probably SHOULD know.

Although often downplayed now days, John Stevens has taught me a version of the sho-chiku-bai kenpo and as I remember he stressed that it contained the possibility of a more free form back and forth than is usually seen in aiki-weapons kata.

My understanding is that Shirata sensei referred to "aiki-ken"

[that is 'the ken of aiki' NOT a referent to particular teacher's collection of ken kata . . . not even O-sensei's collection of ken kata. I feel comfortable asserting this because Shirata sensei constructed certain parts of the ken kata he practiced and taught himself (over time) and referred to it as "aiki-ken." Also, there are certain kata that clearly come from Koryu that were taught, practiced, and referred to as "aiki-ken" . . . why? I suppose because they were done with Aiki. Furthermore, I think this corresponds with what O-sensei tells us about the sum of Aikido. Aikido isn't kata. However, kata can have Aiki.]

collectively as Sho Chiku Bai Kenpo.

So as I understand Shirata sensei's ken, Sho Chiku Bai doesn't specify specific kata.

. . . and as I remember he stressed that it contained the possibility of a more free form back and forth than is usually seen in aiki-weapons kata

My understanding, and practice, is that this is true for ALL kata. Each person has a predetermined roll and action to perform, the outcome is NOT predetermined. :eek: (Although, one must keep in mind the goal of growth such that things are ramped up depending upon the individual's respective development and abilities.

Furthermore, taking the example of Shirata sensei, we also practice with shinken as well as following the precedent set forth in the Kobukan (Shirata sensei was one of the few jujutsu students that also participated in the Kendo section.) we practice with Shinai and Kendogu as well (both fixed and free practice.)

I think he also referenced a non-aikido source for some of it.

I certainly wouldn't be surprised by this (see above) but would sure love to hear what specific sources he names! Also, Peter mentioned that Shirata wasn't bashful about training under Kohai like Saito Sensei if he thought there was something to learn. I've been told that Saito sensei isn't the only Kohai that Shirata sensei learned from. So it would be interesting to connect all of those dots.

If I get to see him this fall I might try to get some more info on it.


Please do share whatever you learn. Certainly Stevens sensei had both more linguistic ability, time, opportunity, and societal clout (being a professor is a big deal in Japan) than I ever did to facilitate the presentation of these sorts of inquiries to Shirata sensei.

Other, closer and longer time students of Shirata sensei would be good sources to tap as well.

Well Ron, I hope you are willing to trade honest limited answers for suggestive innuendo and hyperbole . . . 'cause as you can see, limited answers is all I have to offer!

I hope to learn more in the future. Maybe you'll be filling me in!

All the best,
Allen

raul rodrigo
09-17-2008, 06:45 PM
HI GEORGE:

If Morihei and Kisshomaru had arranged for the teachers to come in and give lessons in ken, why would Chiba, Saotome and Imaizumi suddenly become vague about who was teaching? Wouldn't these be officially sanctioned classes under Hombu guidance, and therefore there would be nothing to be embarrassed about? Chiba is quite clear that Morihei himself told him to study iai. Is there some other dynamic at work with the three shihan you mentioned, that brings in this Watergate hearing quality?

best,

R

Allen Beebe
09-17-2008, 06:51 PM
George,

The three Koryu that you identify are the three I recognize as well, and interestingly my understanding is that Shirata sensei rather avoided training at the Hombu dojo after the war (as a matter of preference, not ego, as one can tell by the fact that he did regularly train with Kohai). Which, again, begs the question: If not from O-sensei, where did this all come from?

BTW, I hope to see you in November for the seminar your hosting!

Thanks,
Allen

Allen Beebe
09-17-2008, 06:58 PM
Raul,

Good question. The name that popped instantly into my mind that all persons might disavow themselves of is Tohei sensei. He might not be everyone's first thought as a weapons guy . . . but he did teach weapons and he did have high authority in the Hombu dojo and he did become an "unmentionable."

He also trained at a dojo that taught Muto Ryu (descendant of Itto Ryu) although I can't recall if he trained in Muto ryu along with the Misogi stuff . . . ?

Just talking off the top of my head.

(That wouldn't explain where the Itto (if any) that exists in Shirata sensei's ken came from though. I don't know that there is a Shirata/Tohei connection at all.

Like I said . . . just brain dumping,
Allen

Erick Mead
09-17-2008, 07:07 PM
The underlying problem with this analysis is that one of the core Oomoto-kyo doctrines relates to the deity Ushitora-no-konjin, "the hidden god", a male deity whose position was improperly taken by Amaterasu-Omikami. In this line of Oomoto doctrine, the essential problem with Japan was precisely its rule by a royal line associated with a female deity who improperly usurped the central role that rightfully belonged to a deeper, and more profound, male deity. ... Ueshiba's deeper self-identification with Susanoo-woo-no-mikoto and with Ame-no-murakumo-kuki-samuhara-ryoo must be regarded as critical and -- perhaps-- definitive in regard to any mythopoetic analysis.
Delving into that is a much wider discussion; the narrow issue here is that he explicitly claims the warrant of Amaterasu mediated by Sarutahiko for the position that he takes against the war (and I argue against the divine aspect of Imperial authority (not his temporal position it is important to note). It is the difference between heresy and treason, in this setting. This is even spoken of in the versoin of Takemusu Aiki lectures given at AJ : Our work is the work of the Great God. Our achievements, in so far as concerns this world, are offered to the authority of the Emperor. The same is the case for our bodies too. http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=639 . His effort is only to challenge the divine mandate, not the temporal order -- by building the Aiki Shrine, underlined by the fact that it is a divinely effective task -- not a practically effective one. The distinction is clear; the Emperor retains temporal, physical authority, but his divine sanction is not affirmed. It is replaced by a direct personal association with the "work of the Great God" We need not get into a sidebar on the nature of that entity in this discussion. The break with the Emperor cult seems fairly clear.

If it is tatemae it needs explaining why this tatemae is adopted to contrven prior belief before the war ended, and then why and to what purpose it is doing triple duty in three distinct positions of possible conflict to which it might apply 1) before the war ended (after 1942); 2) during the Occupation, and 3) after the Occupation and the resumption of Japanese rule.

Peter Goldsbury
09-17-2008, 07:54 PM
Mr Henderson,

Many thanks for your post. I have given a few responses.

Best wishes,

PAG

This will be my first post on this site; my thanks for your consideration of my question:

I've been reading the exchange between Professor Goldsbury and Mr. Mead, and it seems to me two somewhat separate issues are cojoined in their discussion.

> One is whether O'Sensei's move to Iwama was in any way related to events in Manchuria;

> The other is whether we can understand the move more fully by attempting to understand his motives and actions in a "mythic" and situational context. As I understand the argument, this analysis rests on an examination of Japanese mythology; Ueshiba's religious beliefs; and the social context in which he expressed those beliefs, understood in cultural context.
PAG. The Manchurian connection is an interesting hypothesis, in much the same way that Baignent's & Leigh's hypotheses about Christ's bloodline and the Holy Grail are interesting and make a very interesting film/movie. The evidence for the historical accuracy of Ueshiba's 'Manchurian connection' and its link with his move to Iwama is quite another matter--and this is my prime concern. In this respect the 'Manchurian connection' is of a piece with Ueshiba's instructing at all the various military schools. We know he did this, we can speculate that he did this because of his many connections with high-ranking military officers. However, how this teaching commitment connected with "Japanese mythology; Ueshiba's religious beliefs; and the social context in which he expressed those beliefs, understood in cultural context," is something that we would need further evidence to find out. We have some idea about the 'budo' of the military from what Ueshiba himself tells us.

I think the exchange has established that the Manchurian thesis is an interesting one that can't be "proven" based on the historical record; but so far the invited "mythic" analysis seems embedded in the discussion of whether O'Sensei was reacting in some way in part to events in the war in China.
PAG. The analysis is certainly embedded in Mr Mead's discussion, but I would be surprised if such a "mythical" analysis can be shown to connect directly with events in China. I think that this would require far more evidence then we possess at present.

One may dispute, accept, or entertain for entertainment's sake the hypothesis that events in Manchuria are relevant to the move to Iwama. However, that still leaves unanswered how O'Sensei's visions, statements, and actions would have been viewed by someone who shared his beliefs and cultural understanding.
Do you have anyone in mind here? Masahisa Goi, perhaps? Certainly not his son Kisshomaru, who has presented by far the most detailed evidence to date, apart from Morihei Ueshiba himself. I think that Kisshomaru viewed his father's "visions, statements and actions" with great sensitivity and even sympathy, but I think it is clear that, though he did share his father's "cultural understanding", he did not share his father's beliefs.

Professor Goldsbury, what do you make of Mr. Mead's proposition that Ueshiba's revelations amounted to what I will call a "heavenly indictment" of the Emperor giving his imprimatur to the decision to go to war based on your understanding of the deities he discusses? Does this line up with the textual evidence of what Ueshiba reported?

Cordially,

David Henderson
PAG. I would think that it is a "heavenly indictment" of Emperor Hirohito, only to the extent that is was a "heavenly indictment" of those who sought to interpret and carry out the 'Imperial Will'. To suggest otherwise is to misunderstand the ramifications of the Emperor System, as it developed from the Meiji Restoration to the Pacific War. I have argued elsewhere that Ueshiba was well and truly in the "black box", but he remained in the box despite the visions, as did Tojo, Konoe, Tomita, and all the military officers surrounding the Emperor. The fact that the deity mentions a message from the great deity of Ise, adds to the strength of the message; it does not amount to any "indictment", heavenly or otherwise. This reads too much into the available evidence.

Erick Mead
09-17-2008, 09:50 PM
PAG. The Manchurian connection is an interesting hypothesis, in much the same way that Baignent's & Leigh's hypotheses about Christ's bloodline and the Holy Grail are interesting and make a very interesting film/movie. In fairness, though you must admit, we are not talking about two thousand years in framing a supposition from multiple dependent inferences as in the proffered comparison. We are talking about 1940-42 -- the span of three years, three successive trips to the same locality, two contemporaneous transformative subjective experiences related in his own words, and an undisputedly radical social break, also stated in his own words.

He had demonstrated access at the highest levels. It is demonstrated that he actively supported the regime they served (indeed it seems accepted that he was cited as such in the SCAP Class G exclusion finding against Ueshiba). He expressed an interest in and having sought to discover the level and manner of warfighting capabilities while in the area. He has expressed disapproval of the nature of that warfighting capability. He is in repeated contact with such sources in a specific place where the most egregious war crimes asserted against the Imperial regime were occurring contemporaneously -- and on large scales. Scales large enough that Chinese sources seem to have reported them back to the States at the time.

To infer that he therefore learned about it is but a single level of inference on the issue of his knowledge. If he learned about it, his disapproval of what he learned is already on record

In the course of this close series of visits he has two successive visions, in his own words progressively repulsing him first at the idea of his art as mere violence and then revulsion at the idea of killing and destruction. It plainly reads as a conversion experience.

No other events of magnitude seem evident to explain the self-exile. He severs his valuable social connections before it is socially or politically expedient to do so. Transformative visions may or may not be divine in origin but they are known to have traumatic triggers. Both the move and the visions are events begging this sort of external cause.

It is but one level of inference to associate events in Manchuria as a contributing cause of both.

I am fully aware of the problems with post hoc analysis, but this is very far from a naked post hoc argument. There is only one level of inference on each issue -- of knowledge and then of causation. People regularly go to jail on such inferences.

Peter Goldsbury
09-17-2008, 11:13 PM
In fairness, though you must admit, we are not talking about two thousand years in framing a supposition from multiple dependent inferences as in the proffered comparison. We are talking about 1940-42 -- the span of three years, three successive trips to the same locality, two contemporaneous transformative subjective experiences related in his own words, and an undisputedly radical social break, also stated in his own words.


I disagree. There is the same tendency to pass off a set of tenuous hypotheses as tantamount to established fact.

Personally, I see no point in continuing this adversarial exchange about Manchuria. I am aware of your position and you are aware of mine.

You state in Post #56 that you have read the list of deities given in A Life in Aikido. I assume, then, that the book has already been published in the US and is generally available. There is nothing in Kisshomaru's biography to suggest that the situation in Manchuria especially played a crucial role in Morihei's Ueshiba's decision to move to Iwama--and I suspect Kisshomaru would have known about this if he knew about the guardian deities.

Kisshomaru does, however, record his father's disquiet at the failure of peace negotiations in China and the prospect of war with the US (on p.39). There is a general unease, but nothing special about Manchuria.

PAG

Erick Mead
09-18-2008, 12:09 AM
I disagree. There is the same tendency to pass off a set of tenuous hypotheses as tantamount to established fact.

Personally, I see no point in continuing this adversarial exchange about Manchuria. I am aware of your position and you are aware of mine. I perceived us as differing, not as adversarial; I take no firm position. If you read an argument spelling out factual support that exists for any given position, while acknowledging inferential gaps, as somehow seeking to establish the proposition being examined as a given, then we seriously misunderstand one another and are unfortunately talking at cross-purposes. People are also wrongly convicted on such inferences. A point that is, perhaps, from recent controversy, needlessly wider in scope than in this narrow case.

I suggest, as you say, a hypothesis with some support and some inferences that while not disallowed -- still remain to be reduced to direct evidence, one way or the other -- if that is the standard of proof. The standard of proof always depends on the purpose for any conclusion. I agree that the point can be advanced no further.

There is nothing in Kisshomaru's biography to suggest that the situation in Manchuria especially played a crucial role in Morihei's Ueshiba's decision to move to Iwama--and I suspect Kisshomaru would have known about this if he knew about the guardian deities. Kisshomaru does, however, record his father's disquiet at the failure of peace negotiations in China and the prospect of war with the US (on p.39). There is a general unease, but nothing special about Manchuria.A question on which I utterly defer, given your long tenure there: Is this kind of unease among Japanese of his era and habits a typical cause for the kind of social dislocation the move to Iwama seemed to represent -- objectively, from the lack of prepared lodgings -- and subjectively, as expressed by the strong impression of suddenness his son says it made upon him?

Do you agree that the move (on the well-accepted evidence) still lacks a strongly persuasive imminent cause?

C. David Henderson
09-18-2008, 10:02 AM
Professor Goldsbury,

Thank you for your generous response. It helped tie together for me some threads from your earlier essay.

I would like to echo everyone who has expressed their appreciation and interest in this series. Thanks.

David Henderson

George S. Ledyard
09-18-2008, 12:08 PM
HI GEORGE:

If Morihei and Kisshomaru had arranged for the teachers to come in and give lessons in ken, why would Chiba, Saotome and Imaizumi suddenly become vague about who was teaching? Wouldn't these be officially sanctioned classes under Hombu guidance, and therefore there would be nothing to be embarrassed about? Chiba is quite clear that Morihei himself told him to study iai. Is there some other dynamic at work with the three shihan you mentioned, that brings in this Watergate hearing quality?

best,

R
Ok, this is pure speculation on my part...

O-Sensei was personal friends with most of the top teachers of the day. These were relations of mutual respect. Meik Skoss has documented that O-Sensei's name actually appears on the roles of the Kashima Ryu. But it wasn't that he actually went over to the Kashima dojo and trained with them... An instructor was sent over, he worked with Kisshomaru while O-Sensei watched, then later, O-Sensei practiced with his son using whatever he had taken from watching as his inspiration.

I think that O-Sensei may have arranged for various instructors to come in, unofficially, and provide instruction for the uchi deshi. Since most ko ryu would not normally show their stuff to non-members of the ryu, I can easily imagine that the deshi would have been sworn to silence about this training. I think it was done as a favor to the Founder and I think it ceased when he died. I see no evidence of this type of influence in the later deshi training at Hombu. But many, if not most of the post war deshi who trained in the mid to late fifties into the early sixties have substantial sword skill which is hard to account for from their public training resumes. None that I know of where members of an actual Kenjutsu Ko Ryu. The iaido done by teachers like Chiba and Kanai was public knowledge but couldn't account for the types of paired forms and techniques they had in their repertoire.

So, I think it was a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" affair. That's my take on it... I can't account for it any other way.

George S. Ledyard
09-18-2008, 12:20 PM
George,

The three Koryu that you identify are the three I recognize as well, and interestingly my understanding is that Shirata sensei rather avoided training at the Hombu dojo after the war (as a matter of preference, not ego, as one can tell by the fact that he did regularly train with Kohai). Which, again, begs the question: If not from O-sensei, where did this all come from?

BTW, I hope to see you in November for the seminar your hosting!

Thanks,
Allen

It's my understanding that folks not training at the Hombu dojo in Tokyo had a bit of an axe to grind with the folks from the big city. I think that the deshi at the headquarters dojo tended to be a bit full of themselves as being the ones at what they perceived as the center of things.

This rivalry, if you will, was especially pronounced with the folks at Iwama who believed that they were at the center of things. But to a lesser extent you could see that the folks in Osaka or at Shingu were also discounted to a degree by the folks in Tokyo. I imagine that this would have been REALLY irritating to someone who had been with O-Sensei from the beginning watching all the young egos at work at headquarters.

Allen Beebe
09-18-2008, 02:14 PM
It's my understanding that folks not training at the Hombu dojo in Tokyo had a bit of an axe to grind with the folks from the big city. I think that the deshi at the headquarters dojo tended to be a bit full of themselves as being the ones at what they perceived as the center of things.

This rivalry, if you will, was especially pronounced with the folks at Iwama who believed that they were at the center of things. But to a lesser extent you could see that the folks in Osaka or at Shingu were also discounted to a degree by the folks in Tokyo. I imagine that this would have been REALLY irritating to someone who had been with O-Sensei from the beginning watching all the young egos at work at headquarters.

Hi George,

My point wasn't to emphasize any possible animosity between Tokyo and whomever. Rather, it was to indicate that, IF there is a relationship between the koryu influence on ken of the deshi in Tokyo (during the time period you indicate) and those outside Tokyo, then that influence may have had to have happened outside Hombu. Of course there may be no relationship at all. Any influence may have happened separately both physically and temporally.

Best,
Allen

Peter Goldsbury
09-18-2008, 06:31 PM
I perceived us as differing, not as adversarial; I take no firm position.
PAG. I am glad to read this. Your post #75 seemed to me more like the forensic rhetoric of a lawyer addressing an uncooperative witness in a court.:)

A question on which I utterly defer, given your long tenure there: Is this kind of unease among Japanese of his era and habits a typical cause for the kind of social dislocation the move to Iwama seemed to represent -- objectively, from the lack of prepared lodgings -- and subjectively, as expressed by the strong impression of suddenness his son says it made upon him?
PAG. Kiyoshi Kiyosawa kept a diary (I believe that Morihei Ueshiba did the same). Kiyosawa's diary was kept secret, for Ueshiba's discussion of what happened during the 1935 Omoto suppression indicates what would have happened had it been found--and things became worse after 1935, not better. Morisawa had lived in the US for a few years and understood the utter folly of Japan declaring war in 1941 on such a potentially powerful nation, given Japan's relatively fragile economic state. Until he died of natural causes in 1945, his diary records the daily happenings of a progressively cowed and impoverished population, who had no choice but to do what the military told them, including committing suicide if necessary.
In the column I have mentioned the discussion by John Stevens on pp.65 & 66 of Invincible Warrior. However, the items in his bibliography give nothing new about Ueshiba's distress about the war (from 1937 onwards), nor is there any indication of what "has recently come to light", as Stevens puts it. Like Konoe, Ueshiba might have been a supporter of the Kodo faction in the Japanese military, and so critical at the strategy of Hideki Tojo for all-out war. We know that Tojo was a supporter of Ueshiba's martial skills, but the support need not have been overtly mutual. However, we lack evidence.

Do you agree that the move (on the well-accepted evidence) still lacks a strongly persuasive imminent cause?
PAG. I think the visions of 1940 and 1942 constitute a powerful and persuasive explanation what is really an escape from what Kisshomaru thought was a difficult situation. Ueshiba escaped from such situations before, notably from Sokaku Takeda in Osaka in 1936. In fact, if Takemusu Aiki can be trusted, I surmise that the period from 1935 to 1942 must have been very difficult for Ueshiba.

Best wishes,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
09-19-2008, 12:56 AM
It's my understanding that folks not training at the Hombu dojo in Tokyo had a bit of an axe to grind with the folks from the big city. I think that the deshi at the headquarters dojo tended to be a bit full of themselves as being the ones at what they perceived as the center of things.

This rivalry, if you will, was especially pronounced with the folks at Iwama who believed that they were at the center of things. But to a lesser extent you could see that the folks in Osaka or at Shingu were also discounted to a degree by the folks in Tokyo. I imagine that this would have been REALLY irritating to someone who had been with O-Sensei from the beginning watching all the young egos at work at headquarters.

The rivalry actually goes quite deep. I have mentioned somewhere before that K Chiba, in his obituary of Morihiro Saito, called Saito Sensei an example of Mito-kishitsu (水戸気質), an example of a concept that has a long history in Japan. I myself have seen a similar rivalry (actually, a sense of being separate, in another world rather than actual rivalry) between Tokyo (previously Edo, the place of residence of daimyo and their samurai) and Osaka (the base of the lower-ranked merchant class, despised for their ability to make more money than samurai ever could). By comparison, the US is very large and I wonder to what extent there is any popular belief that residence in a particular city has an influence on the character of the residents. (I do not just mean the 'country vs. city' divide, but something more specific).

As I suggested in the column, Ueshiba was born in a sleepy rural backwater, but did not stay there for much of his life. Later in his life he preferred Iwama, but he still seems to have been quite happy in Tokyo, at least up until 1935/1936. One would also have to add that Kisshomaru, whether in Tokyo, Iwama or elsewhere, carried on his shoulders a heavy weight of responsibility--and expectation, like being married into a family with a hundred mothers-in-law.

MM
09-19-2008, 07:29 AM
By comparison, the US is very large and I wonder to what extent there is any popular belief that residence in a particular city has an influence on the character of the residents. (I do not just mean the 'country vs. city' divide, but something more specific).


There are two examples that spring to mind. Ask most people what they think of politicians. Going beyond that, what people think of their politician before they make the move to DC and then after that person has been there for some number of years. In this case, DC has a very strong influence on the character of its residents.

The second one that comes to mind is "Hollywood". I guess not really the exact town, per se, but the general area. Take any number of people who migrated there and became famous. Britney Spears is a good example. Hollywood has a very strong influence on the character of its residents.

Not sure if that's the kind of example you were looking for, though.

Mark

Allen Beebe
09-19-2008, 09:20 AM
Peter,

I wouldn't take Mark too seriously. He's from West Virginia and so probably just learned to read and write using a Horn Book. Same goes for George or anybody else from the Seattle Metro area, but for different reasons. They just get too much rain and too little sun up there . . . they are destined to rot at their roots.

Like the various places that O-sensei loved, Portland rests in the bosom of the forest nestled between mountains and is suckled by the purifying waters of sacred rivers. (And, unlike Evergreen CO. we have oxygen in our air.) Thus blessed, all that grows here is of a pristine and holy nature.

Just witnessing,

Allen

Ron Tisdale
09-19-2008, 10:37 AM
:D

Word limit...

B,
R

Erick Mead
09-19-2008, 11:50 AM
Like the various places that O-sensei loved, Portland rests in the bosom of the forest nestled between mountains and is suckled by the purifying waters of sacred rivers. (And, unlike Evergreen CO. we have oxygen in our air.) Thus blessed, all that grows here is of a pristine and holy nature. Pshaw.
Any place that the roses grow like weeds is nothing but an effeminate thorn thicket. ;)

What you want is the manly, tall-masted pines, the Zen peace of the white-washed dunes, and the endurance of our eternal live oaks, basking in a balmy sun, the strong embracing wash of the Gulf waters and our frequently bracing and cleansing tropical winds. :D God's country (and which He asserts ownership of with fair regularity).

Allen Beebe
09-19-2008, 02:12 PM
No, no, no! Florida's shape is nature's way of quarantining the rest of the U.S. from the infection that emanates from that swampy bog.

And

Only REAL men can live in a thorn thicket and come out smelling like a rose!! (It's an internal structure thing. You know, Iron Shirt and all that. Outsiders just don't get it. You'd have to come here and smell me to really understand! ;) )

Allen

Ron Tisdale
09-19-2008, 02:14 PM
You'd have to come here and smell me to really understand! )

Oh Yuck! I was eating!!! :D

B,
R

Erick Mead
09-19-2008, 05:10 PM
Only REAL men can live in a thorn thicket and come out smelling like a rose!! (It's an internal structure thing. You know, Iron Shirt and all that. Outsiders just don't get it. You'd have to come here and smell me to really understand! ;) I don't think I have to come; I can perceive the essence from here. :eek:

But it's Friday and I am attar here ... :p

Allen Beebe
09-19-2008, 05:18 PM
Enjoy the weekend Eric!
:)

Allen Beebe
09-19-2008, 05:23 PM
Oh Yuck! I was eating!!! :D

B,
R

Ron I can't help it if my rosey bouquet doesn't compliment your lunch. :o

Are you going to make it out here this year?

Allen

Peter Goldsbury
09-19-2008, 08:02 PM
Not sure if that's the kind of example you were looking for, though.

Mark

Hello Mark,

Not really, though if 気質 were expressed as humour, Allen's caustic remarks about other places in the US might just qualify. :D

気質 means temperament and is thought by the Japanese to be the result of a long period of residence (many generations) in the place in question. O Sensei never had Mito Kishitsu: his kishitsu was that of Kii.

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
09-21-2008, 09:48 PM
My exposure to post war uchi deshi comes via my exposure to three of the students from that time, namely, my own teacher, Saotome Sensei, my Assistant Chief Instructor's (Kevin Lam) teacher, Imaizumi Sensei, and Chiba Sensei.

Both Kevin Lam and I were both told that there were sword classes of an optional nature that were made available to interested uchi deshi at the Hombu Dojo. Clearly, teachers like Yamada Sensei, although of the same generation, chose to not attend as there is no evidence of this in their teaching.

Both Kevin and I asked who taught these classes and were immediately rewarded with responses that strongly resembled the testimony at the Watergate hearings. In other words, no answer was given, memories were suddenly cloudy (this from people who normally remembered everything about their training in those years with great clarity).



Hello George,

I had forgotten this part of your post. Apologies.

I think the influence of Koichi Tohei in the early postwar years of the Aikikai Hombu should not be underestimated. I have it from shihans who were not smitten with Watergate-style amnesia that many of the sword and jo kata originally practised by postwar deshi came via Tohei Sensei.

PAG

Allen Beebe
09-21-2008, 10:34 PM
I think the influence of Koichi Tohei in the early postwar years of the Aikikai Hombu should not be underestimated. I have it from shihans who were not smitten with Watergate-style amnesia that many of the sword and jo kata originally practised by postwar deshi came via Tohei Sensei.


DING, DING, DING!

Do I win a prize? Huh? Do I? Do I?

Maybe the same prize I got when I first met the present Doshu. It was 1986 at a Tohoku University Gashuku. (For some reason they put Doshu and I together . . . alone . . . in a large locker room. :confused:

This meeting was memorable for a few different reasons. One of them was that I wore a new indigo dyed hakama for the first time ever. Not only did it turn my gi, and my hands, purple but when we sat for instruction (mudansha on one side, yudansha on another) I could see every mudansha I had trained with was purple/blue as well! :sorry:

Anyway, at a certain point Doshu came over and asked me in a friendly way who I had learned from and I replied, "Tohei sensei." Hi smiled broadly and commented, "Oh, Tohei from Chicago!" To which I corrected, "Actually Tohei Koichi."

There was a sudden temperature change in the room and I seemed to disappear . . . at least to Doshu. Funny, I don't even recall seeing him as we changed afterward.

So . . . that must be the big prize . . . the gift of invisibility!! ;) :D

Like the wind . . . :cool:

Anon

Peter Goldsbury
09-22-2008, 12:28 AM
DING, DING, DING!

Do I win a prize? Huh? Do I? Do I?

Maybe the same prize I got when I first met the present Doshu. It was 1986 at a Tohoku University Gashuku. (For some reason they put Doshu and I together . . . alone . . . in a large locker room. :confused:
It was obviously your aura, Allen.:D

This meeting was memorable for a few different reasons. One of them was that I wore a new indigo dyed hakama for the first time ever. Not only did it turn my gi, and my hands, purple but when we sat for instruction (mudansha on one side, yudansha on another) I could see every mudansha I had trained with was purple/blue as well! :sorry:
Ah, the blue cotton hakamas, especially loved by the more conservative university aikido clubs, perhaps because they are like well-tended denim. When the color fades, it is obvious to all how hard you have been training, especially round the knees. A few rips help as well.;)

Anyway, at a certain point Doshu came over and asked me in a friendly way who I had learned from and I replied, "Tohei sensei." He smiled broadly and commented, "Oh, Tohei from Chicago!" To which I corrected, "Actually Tohei Koichi."
This was in 1986, when he was still Dojo-cho. His hair was still black then, I believe. To give him credit, he has mellowed somewhat, but still follows the Aikikai View of History.:rolleyes:

There was a sudden temperature change in the room and I seemed to disappear . . . at least to Doshu.
Actually his father was very good at sudden temperature changes. I remember an interview in Doshu's house, which was next to the Hombu Dojo, at 17-19 Wakamatsu-cho. I mentioned another veteran aikido teacher, whose name also starts with TO. There was certainly a temperature change, but invisibility was not an option on this occasion, since I was sitting opposite him drinking tea served by his wife. Mild apoplexy was substituted, as I heard the words almost spat out, "What that man was doing was not aikido..."

Funny, I don't even recall seeing him as we changed afterward.

So . . . that must be the big prize . . . the gift of invisibility!! ;) :D

Like the wind . . . :cool:

Anon
Ah. So he became invisible, not you.

PAG

George S. Ledyard
09-22-2008, 12:35 AM
Hello George,

I had forgotten this part of your post. Apologies.

I think the influence of Koichi Tohei in the early postwar years of the Aikikai Hombu should not be underestimated. I have it from shihans who were not smitten with Watergate-style amnesia that many of the sword and jo kata originally practised by postwar deshi came via Tohei Sensei.

PAG
Hi Peter,
I agree that Tohei Sensei contributed to the weapons work learned by the deshi. But I do not think that what I am talking about could be accounted for by post-break reticence....

One of the Shihan who is quite closed mouthed about the origin of these weapons techniques is Imaizumi Sensei. Before the break, he and Saotome Sensei were good friends and were exposed to the same folks technically. But Imaizumi Sensei went with Tohei Sensei after the split and would have had no reason to edit or be secretive about what he had gotten from Tohei. In fact, on those occasions on which I have been lucky enough to train with Imaizumi Sensei, he is quite forthright about what he got from Toehi Sensei.

Anyway, if someone doesn't spill the beans fairly soon, there won't be anyone left who really knows... I don't think my tolerance for alcohol is up to making that happen on my own. Maybe a team effort...

DH
09-22-2008, 10:06 AM
I can think of several reasons for tight lips.
1. Someone taught them Koryu without persmission to teach
2. Someone made it all up
3. An inner self-awareness of their own comparative worth in a very real comparison to truly gifted Koryu weapons experts
4. Their "sword work" was nothing more that what amounted to an embarrassing acquiescence to foreigners wanting to see "samurai sword techniques?
See:
http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=0qSDPs_Y4-g&feature=related
I cannot imagine this being the culmination of a life long expertise in sword work. In and of itself it appears on the surface to support my contention in #4 above.

Of course I offer nothing definitive here-other than decades of many observable demonstrations of some alarmingly lackluster weapons displays in aikido over the years. I just wonder if anyone has even *considered* the possibility that these guys were nothing even close to resembling gifted swordsmen? That they simply sucked at weapons...and were living in a culture that allowed them ample opportunity for self-awareness?
I think any Japanese could have wowed some of these early Gaijin looking to see real sword work-with ease. However,considering just who and what the talent pool around them must have been, I could understand those guys being reluctant to talk about their "weapons work" as well. Maybe that only got worse as time wore on and those gaijin got educated about Koryu.

DH
09-22-2008, 10:32 AM
Follow-up
I meant no insult. I just haven't seen a consideration (maybe I missed it) that these men felt a reluctant need to "represent" and fill an expected role they neither asked for or wanted. Or maybe others did fill it with a bit more enthusiasm. It seems researchers are always looking for some hint of mastery or hidden jewels of knowledge, and haven't considered or pursued the obverse quite as strongly. That being, men perhaps being men, sometimes behaved poorly and were just trying to live up to expectations.
Think of how harshly we judge today. What we say of five and ten year apprenticeships in the arts as nothing much, you are just a beginner, then we foist levels of expertise on these poor chaps who had not nearly the same amount of exposure...just that they were Japanese deshi of Osensei.

ChrisMoses
09-22-2008, 11:44 AM
Anyway, if someone doesn't spill the beans fairly soon, there won't be anyone left who really knows... I don't think my tolerance for alcohol is up to making that happen on my own. Maybe a team effort...

I often wonder how much an influence Nishio Sensei had over the post war uchideshi. The 'seiki ryu kenjutsu' I learned as part of Kurita Minouru's school was HEAVILY influenced by Nishio Sensei's aiki-toho and the aiki-ken coming out of Iwama. I got the impression that Nishio Sensei was known to the uchideshi as a sort of 'go to' guy for weapons work. The way it was presented to me was that Kurita Sensei would "sneak out" to see Nishio Sensei whenever the opportunity presented itself. I don't know why this was the dynamic, possibly because it was time away from OSensei?

George S. Ledyard
09-22-2008, 04:47 PM
I often wonder how much an influence Nishio Sensei had over the post war uchideshi. The 'seiki ryu kenjutsu' I learned as part of Kurita Minouru's school was HEAVILY influenced by Nishio Sensei's aiki-toho and the aiki-ken coming out of Iwama. I got the impression that Nishio Sensei was known to the uchideshi as a sort of 'go to' guy for weapons work. The way it was presented to me was that Kurita Sensei would "sneak out" to see Nishio Sensei whenever the opportunity presented itself. I don't know why this was the dynamic, possibly because it was time away from OSensei?

Hi Chris,
a) I am sure that Nishio Sensei was someone who influenced the younger deshi. Certainly, he was someone who brought outside training into his Aikido while at the Hombu Dojo. As an example for the younger deshi at Hombu, especially at a time when some were choosing not do do much weapons training he stood out. I have never heard Saotome Sensei say that he was directly inspired by Nishio Sensei but I always felt that their two approaches (not the actual technical work) were the most similar of any teachers I've encountered. Mary Heiny told me that it was always Nishio Sensei and Saotome Sensei who would do the tachi dori and tanto dori with live blades at the all Japan demos. I see a lot of Nishio's spirit, if not actual technique, in Saotome Sensei.

b) Nishio's training seems to have been largely well documented. It's hard to say exactly because he saw himself as a creator, someone whose job it was to go beyond what he had been taught. He credited Yamaguchi Sensei and Saito Sensei with equal but quite different influence on his sword work but it is clear that he didn't imitate either one but rather took inspiration to develop his own work. Of course he took his iai work out to the point at which it is a recognized iai style now...

I think it is safe to say that Nishio's work was well developed as a system that could be reproduced, like Saito Sensei's, but was also
the most eclectic in it's influences and, I think, unique to him. No one else looked like Nishio Sensei. I also think that because his work was so integrated into his overall system of Aikido, it makes it difficult to simply take this or that out of context into ones own system. You really need to train with someone doing well versed in his system to get much out of his weapons work.

He was a giant in my opinion...

George S. Ledyard
09-22-2008, 05:28 PM
I can think of several reasons for tight lips.
1. Someone taught them Koryu without permission to teach

My basic proposition... although I conjecture that it was done by O-Sensei's invitation and with the acquiescence of the senior teachers of these styles, many of whom were friends of the Founder.

2. Someone made it all up

They all made it up. O-Sensei made it up, his students made stuff up. There is no question of any of these folks claiming to be doing or teaching a sword style or a jo style but rather a style in which sword and jo were important tools for understanding and developing ones skills in the style.

3. An inner self-awareness of their own comparative worth in a very real comparison to truly gifted Koryu weapons experts

To my knowledge, O-Sensei was the only one who engaged in any contests with the sword. I do not believe that the deshi stood around considering what they did relative to the koryu, to the extent that they were familiar with them. Whatever exposure they may have had would have convinced them that there were certainly "real" swordsmen out there who knew far more than they did. I doubt that it bothered them at all. They were doing "aiki" sword, i.e. using sword in their Aikido; I don't think a one of them thought that he was a swordsman.

4. Their "sword work" was nothing more that what amounted to an embarrassing acquiescence to foreigners wanting to see "samurai sword techniques?

I think that this is a ridiculous assertion. Weapons training was a part of Aikido from day one. That started back in the thirties when some of the deshi actually had some koryu training but it was still true at the very end of the Founder's life. Saotome Sensei told us that 90% of the time, if you asked the Founder a question about just about anything, he'd grab a sword to demonstrate the answer. He simply did not see a separation between his empty hand and his weapons. If weapons work became optional as part of an Aikido practitioner's understanding of his art, it wasn't while the Founder was still alive. This had nothing to do with trying to impress foreigners... most of these guys a) didn't care if they impressed foreigners and b) if the wanted to do so they usually cranked a nikkyo on them...

Of course I offer nothing definitive here-other than decades of many observable demonstrations of some alarmingly lackluster weapons displays in aikido over the years. I just wonder if anyone has even *considered* the possibility that these guys were nothing even close to resembling gifted swordsmen? That they simply sucked at weapons...and were living in a culture that allowed them ample opportunity for self-awareness?
I think any Japanese could have wowed some of these early Gaijin looking to see real sword work-with ease. However,considering just who and what the talent pool around them must have been, I could understand those guys being reluctant to talk about their "weapons work" as well. Maybe that only got worse as time wore on and those gaijin got educated about Koryu.

These discussions always somehow end up with a sort of self congratulatory note in them in that you, of course, are part of the group that knows.

Well, I have done some koryu training, as you know. I also work out regularly with American students of a ryu with which you are familiar, they are also my Aikido students. They are swordsmen, I am not a swordsman. I am an Aikido practitioner. I do not walk around feeling inferior because they know more about swordsmanship than I do. What I do, I can do just fine. It's a pleasure to have well trained people to work with, that's for sure. It makes my training better. But I don't sit around feeling the need to hide what I do, keep silent about where I learned it, or harbor any illusions that what I do is something that it is not. I don't suspect that the folks who trained with the Founder when he was alive felt any different about their weapons work. Despite what we may see on the forums a lot these days, Aikido folks aren't sitting around with a bad case of koryu envy...I've learned a lot from the exposure I've had, no question, but it wasn't Aikido, wasn't trying to be, and I'm fine with that. I do Aikido. I keep training, bringing new things into my art, but I don't sit around apologizing for what I do either. I don't lose any sleep over not doing kenjutsu, and I do know what good swordsmanship looks like; I am good friends with some great swordsmen.

DH
09-22-2008, 06:39 PM
They all made it up. O-Sensei made it up, his students made stuff up. There is no question of any of these folks claiming to be doing or teaching a sword style or a jo style but rather a style in which sword and jo were important tools for understanding and developing ones skills in the style.

George
Well, no, they didn't -all- make it up. And that was my point.
There were quite a few swordsman who trained there, who would have been ample reminder to those that did.
You have Kashima, Katori, Itto, and others represented there to remind the fellows who were making it up.
So no, I most certainly do not agree. Some, like Saotome stated he made his swordwork up later in life, others were trained in several koryu.

Weapons training was a part of Aikido from day one. That started back in the thirties when some of the deshi actually had some koryu training but it was still true at the very end of the Founder's life. Saotome Sensei told us that 90% of the time, if you asked the Founder a question about just about anything, he'd grab a sword to demonstrate the answer.

Again that brings to question the chicken and the egg. I believe the question was WHAT sort of weapon work was taught and perhaps why they didn't talk about it.
So -what- he was demonstrating
What- his deshi demonstrating, was the question.
Not that he grabbed a sword and demonstrated. BTW Most considered Ueshiba a genius with the sword, so where's the beef compared to Koryu or not even if he DID make it up?
But we weren't talking about him, but rather his deshi.
Next up was the question of why the tight lips-among them.

I asserted there were other reasons beside just any and everyone possibly being sword masters.
Some knew Koryu weapons but maybe were not allowed to teach...seems reasonable for not wanting to discuss it
Or that other didn't know them so well. Which you just agreed to.
Seems the only thing you're stating in counter to my assertion is that their *not* knowing Koryu would not have bothered them at all-hence would not have been a reason for tight lips.
That seems a reasonable counter argument as well.

He simply did not see a separation between his empty hand and his weapons. If weapons work became optional as part of an Aikido practitioner's understanding of his art, it wasn't while the Founder was still alive. This had nothing to do with trying to impress foreigners... most of these guys a) didn't care if they impressed foreigners and b) if the wanted to do so they usually cranked a nikkyo on them...
Could certainly be true, but on the other hand the video's that have been out there for years certainly show quite a bt of non-empty hand relevant show boating with bokuto. But again, thats your rebbutal. It seems several people have remarked for years about teaching foreigners and various insider discussion about demos.

These discussions always somehow end up with a sort of self congratulatory note in them in that you, of course, are part of the group that knows.
Sorry to see you feel that way George. I don't think you or I or what we may or may not know have anything to do with it and will affect the discussion in any way. Isn't it a discussion about what might have *actually* happened? Wouldn't that be a neutral research point?
And since many of the deshi had experience in many arts, doesn't it make my points all the more relevant. You had a series of guys who taught weapons, but as you wrote were weirdly silent about stating where it came from? My assertions about motive are pretty reasonable.

Examples:
Mochizuki may have been an excellent example. I wonder how comfortable he might have been teaching Katori to outsiders?
Or the guys who studied Kashima while Ueshiba watched? They might have shared and been "weirdly silent like watergate witnessess" about teaching.

This could apply to several other guys who were well versed. Wasn't there also someone who supposedly taught Kendo- no-kata?

In contrast you might have had guys who had been compelled to show something but felt unqualified in front of *those* guys and other outsiders-hence silence. Seems reasonable. You discount it-okay fine.

Then I offered you might have had those who made it up out of whole cloth and didn't want to say it. Seems reasonable as well. You think its ridiculous. Okay. there were of course teachers who did. I guess you are asserting they were all comfortable and or proud of the fact as it was not a point of contention for them. Point taken.

So what other reasons are you offering for why these chaps would be so tight lipped -as was noted here?

Of course there may be other reasons for publicly teaching weapons and not wanting to talk about it. I am sure others will offer some observations and views.

DH
09-22-2008, 07:26 PM
One other point
a friend of mine just P.M.'d me that my first posts read as if I were emphasizing more that -most deshi might not have known weapons work. Far enough. What I was -ineptly- trying to stress is that you don't hear that possibility as much as the continued search for a source for mastery or pedagogy of assumed mastery-similar to what was don with Ueshiba's history. So in trying to stress that point I might have overly stressed the other. Hopefully, my later post clarified my points better.

Research has regularly shown these guys many times had far less training time-in in Aikido, than was thought. Some as little as five years of study before being sent out to teach. This again creates any number of conditions for sourcing weapons work. From koryu study gained from outside teachers, koryu studies in a limited fashion from within the aikikai, on to making things up, to perhaps any combination thereof. If we think of the Dojo as a melting pot of young toughs training there who all had various backgrounds, it is reasonable to think of guys picking up a little of this or a lot of that according to there interest and blending it all together.

Peter Goldsbury
09-22-2008, 08:24 PM
Hello George,

I once asked Yamaguchi Sensei point blank which sword koryu he practised in addition to aikido. His answer was certainly not evasive. He said, None, and added that whatever sword skills he had were eclectic, picked up from watching and stealing.

When I was in England, one of Yamaguchi Sensei's early students, M Sekiya Sensei, urged me to practise 'proper' kenjutsu in addition to aikido. I was doing a lot of aiki-ken/aiki-jo at the time, for Saito's early volumes were coming out and Chiba was teaching this. However, I think Sekiya found this distasteful and, of course, you could see why. Sekiya's stance, the way he handled a bokken, clearly bore the imprint of Yamaguchi, as I discovered later. Sekiya S also taught sword in London--until Chiba Sensei stopped him, with the reason that such training could not be done in aikido classes.

Sekiya S also urged me to seek out and train with two of Yamaguchi's close students: Inaba and Noguchi. Inaba Sensei runs the Shiseikan Dojo in Tokyo and practises Kashima Shin Ryu. Of course, I know him--actually I am slightly his senior in terms of age. He is a real Japanese gentleman, but one who holds extremely conservative views, quite to the right of the political spectrum. His views about the Japanese emperor system and 'pure' Japanese values reminded me of O Sensei in the 1930s, but without the angst. Now it seems to me that Inaba Sensei regards swordsmanship as an essential part of this set of core Japanese values. Just as a young Japanese male should be proficient in sumo and jujutsu, so also he should know how to handle a sword. A corollary of Inaba Sensei's views is that for a foreigner to have these values involves a huge mental and cultural leap--on both sides.

Why do I state this? Because I think there was far more of a 'weapons culture' in prewar, wartime, and postwar Japan than there is now. Many of my ordinary Japanese friends who practise aikido have swords at home, that have been passed down through the family. One friend, descended from samurai and now in his 70s, who trained regularly at the Hombu Dojo, also trained in his family sword art, rather like Kuroda Tetsuzan, but far less prominently. The art was handed down and he was expected to uphold family values by becoming proficient. So when he began training at the Hombu Dojo, he had a body of knowledge to begin with. Of course, never knew this until he told me. I think we were discussing the teaching of weapons at the Hombu.

The more I study aikido, the more I am convinced that the early history of the art needs a cultural context. Thus, the question whether O Sensei 'taught' or sanctioned/condoned the teaching of weapons outside Iwama' also needs a context. I myself do not believe he 'taught' weapons in Iwama and I am not just playing with words. I have written the earlier columns to explain why.

Best wishes,

raul rodrigo
09-22-2008, 08:53 PM
Professor:

Just a few questions:

1. Could you be a bit more explicit about what Sekiya found "distasteful" about the Saito version of ken?

2. Despite Chiba's stopping Sekiya from teaching his ken in London, was there ever any influence in Chiba's own ken from Sekiya, who was after all his father in law?

best,

R

Peter Goldsbury
09-22-2008, 09:10 PM
Professor:

Just a few questions:

1. Could you be a bit more explicit about what Sekiya found "distasteful" about the Saito version of ken?
Well, it might have been the way we were doing it.:) There was a makiwara in the dojo and the Yoshinkan background of Minoru Kanetsuka sometimes showed: slow, basic training, with uncooperative ukes. There was lots of tanren uchikomi training at the makiwara. In addition, Sekiya Sensei most definitely did not possess Mito-kishitsu in any way. By profession he had been an engineer with JAL. Personally, I do not think he 'believed' in aiki-ken, at least as an established sword art. Of course, O Sensei trained with the sword in Iwama and this was called 'aiki-ken'. This is part of established aikido doctrine, but Sekiya believed that a sword art as such was kenjutsu, like Katori and Kashima.

2. Despite Chiba's stopping Sekiya from teaching his ken in London, was there ever any influence in Chiba's own ken from Sekiya, who was after all his father in law?

best,

R
I do not think so--certainly not at that time.

Best wishes,

Ellis Amdur
09-22-2008, 11:03 PM
As I've written pretty extensively on aikido and weapons, pre-war in my blogs on AJ (and this will be a largely unchanged chapter in HIPS - yeah, yeah, it's coming, it's coming), I will confine myself to postwar. (sort of).
First of all, Dan's thesis re gaijin entertainment and manipulation is unnecessary. Here's why. Up until the 1930's, even, and certainly before in the Meiji period, one could not do idiotic or powerless or inane sword technique publicly. One would be challenged. To give any example, there was a famous untrue legend of Chiba Shusaku setting up a dojo in the Gumma area, and trouncing the country bumpkins of Maniwa Nen-ryu when they tried to throw him out. (The truth was that the Nen-ryu people sent him packing back to Tokyo). In the 1920's or 30's, (I can't remember), Nikkatsu Films made a movie of this episode, which occurred many decades before. Men of the Maniwa Nen-ryu invaded the Nikkatsu offices with bokken, broke up a few things and confiscated the master film. It was, needless to say, never returned and never released.
Postwar, with only a few exceptions, such spirit was gone - and most Japanese had no clue as to the difference. Hence, one could wave a sword or bokken any way one chose, and who would say you nay. I know of a few exceptions to this - but exceptions they are. For the most part, Japanese aikidoka are either incurious or in awe of their shihan's sword methods. Just like non-Japanese.
As to some of the items touched in George's post:
Tohei Koichi made up his sword, based on what he learned from Ueshiba.
Nishio was NOT influenced by Yamaguchi and Saito - he offered them respect. Nishio's weaponry was his individual adaptation of what he learned from several teachers, among them Matsuo Kempu. He learned Shindo Muso-ryu jo, I believe Eishin-ryu and, I also believe, some level of Araki-ryu Gunyo Kogusoku (different from the Araki-ryu I do).
Yamaguchi learned/observed Inaba, who practiced an off-shoot of Kashima Shin-ryu (this version, per KSR shihan, although skilled in it's own way, is devoid of real Kashima Shin-ryu principals, as Dan often says modern-day aikido is of DR).
Saotome "audited." One of his students, I believe, studied a little Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, and Saotome played around and improvised with that and his own insights.
Some might have studied in secret some koryu. But the results indicate that it was secret from themselves too.
Finally, Kuroiwa Yoshio once got up at an all shihan meeting and said, as follows, "I think we should stop doing sword and jo taking exhibitions at the Aikikai demos. There are probably real swordsmen in the audience and it is an insult to them, because they could cut anyone in the room in two." He told me that there was dead silence, and then after a long pause, Doshu just changed the subject. After the meeting, Iimura, who taught aikido at the Budokan, said, "I thought there was going to be a bloodbath. I can't believe you got away with that." More interesting, perhaps, was that Saito Morihiro approached him and said, "Yoku Itte kuremashita." which means, essentially, "You did me/us a real favor in saying that." Of course, nothing changed.
In sum, some people quite respectably use aikido weapons as a means to study or illustrate the principals they are trying to show/study in their aikido. No conspiracy of silence. With few exceptions, no one's interested as to where it came from, what it means, or much of anything else.
Best

George S. Ledyard
09-23-2008, 02:48 AM
The more I study aikido, the more I am convinced that the early history of the art needs a cultural context. Thus, the question whether O Sensei 'taught' or sanctioned/condoned the teaching of weapons outside Iwama' also needs a context. I myself do not believe he 'taught' weapons in Iwama and I am not just playing with words. I have written the earlier columns to explain why.

Best wishes,

Hi Peter,
I find the history to be fascinating but my ability to pursue it in any real depth is limited due to my lack of language skills. As a student and teacher in my own right, these questions are important to me. I know what I have gained personally from my sword training. That continues to be true.

I see the difference between students who study weapons and those who do not. I think that there are many aspects of the principles operating in Aikido which are best studied via weapons, especially the sword.

As foreigners studying the art of Aikido, the cultural context of which you speak is necessarily what we choose to make it since the art has no organic context of its own in our culture. I definitely do not see this as trying to duplicate some aspect of samurai culture or an attempt to be more Japanese than the Japanese. It's simply my own belief that weapons work will yield an understanding of various principles at work in our art better than other methods. I think these principles are universal rather than cultural; we can understand them as well as any Japanese person, even though we have a different cultural context.

I have a great appreciation for the work you are doing. I have learned a tremendous amount from your series. I can only picture some hapless poster on a forum in the far future discussing where all the weird elements of my own sword work came from... It'll be funny to see what they think... what came from where, what I made up, etc... Knowing what the elements have been so far, I defy anyone in the future to make any real sense out of what I do; it's an eclectic mish mash and likely to get more complex as I am still quite actively training with anyone who I think can show me stuff. Id any of the deshi were like I have been, it's no wonder that we can't make much sense out of it.

aikilouis
09-23-2008, 05:36 AM
Back to the war period.

I noticed that betwen the prewar and postwar pictures, O Sensei's appearance had dramatically changed. His hair had become completely white, he had grown a beard, he looked much slimmer and older. In brief, he became the O Sensei that we mostly remember him by today.

Do we have information on what could have explained this evolution, like health issues ? It seems to me that many people don't change that much between their late 50s and their mid 60s.

Peter Goldsbury
09-23-2008, 07:28 AM
Back to the war period.

I noticed that betwen the prewar and postwar pictures, O Sensei's appearance had dramatically changed. His hair had become completely white, he had grown a beard, he looked much slimmer and older. In brief, he became the O Sensei that we mostly remember him by today.

Do we have information on what could have explained this evolution, like health issues ? It seems to me that many people don't change that much between their late 50s and their mid 60s.

Mr Neveu,

Morihei Ueshiba states in the sections I quoted in Column 7 and 9 that he was quite ill during the time of the second Omoto suppression, to the extent that he had major fears of an interrogation at the hands of the Kempeitai or Thought Police, who were not known for the delicacy of their methods, especially those interrogators lacking in 'kokoro'. :straightf

Ueshiba also states that he was quite ill at the time of the visions in 1940, even at death's door, but he then goes on to describe all the things he did for the Japanese government during this time. So it is hard to know how debilitating this illness was. There is an account of an earlier salt water drinking contest, which is supoosed to have a major effect on his health, but we do not know how serious it was.

Kisshomaru Ueshiba's biography is of little help here, since the picture he gives of O Sensei fluctuates between that of a frail person, of weak constitution, and that of a super-human, able to do great deeds right up till he passed way at the ripe old age of 86. Kisshomaru explains the illnesses of the later 30s and early 40s in terms of the burden of the war: O Sensei as avatar, suffering on behalf of the many. As a historian, I believe we need more evidence.

As for change in O Sensei's appearance, well, perhaps you should look at the present Doshu. I know that he has curbed the exuberant drinking habits of his youth, but in a very few years his hair has turned white and he sometimes looks quite haggard in appearance. The burdens of office? Possibly.

Best wishes,

Josh Reyer
09-23-2008, 08:40 AM
I don't think the change in appearance was all that dramatic, although it can certainly seem so in that we don't have many pictures of Ueshiba in the 40s. Obviously, there weren't a lot of pictures being taken from his retreat to Iwama in 1942 until after the war ended and budo was allowed by the Occupation. He was 59 when he left for Iwama, and well into his sixties when the post war pictures start appearing.

Here's (http://www.aikimizu.it/morihei_ueshiba/ueshiba_4_600.jpg) a picture from the Noma Dojo selection, in 1936 (age 53). The quality isn't good, but if you have the English edition of "Budo", it's clear that his handlebar moustache is graying.

Then you have this picture (http://www.aikinews.com/images/catalog/kai03_full.jpg), one of the latest pre-war, pre-Iwama ones. He's still looking quite hale and bold, but his moustache is all white, and if I'm not mistaken we can see the beginnings of the beard.

Then, one (http://www.saitoaikidojo.com.pt/01Portugues/03Corpo/0308LivrosArtigos/0308imagens/2004-10-18.jpg) of the early post-war pictures. Early 1950s, and Ueshiba's in his late 60s, but still looking pretty hale. But now he has the full beard. The appearance of the full beard, more than anything else, accounts for the big change, I think.

If you have Budo: Teachings of the Founder of Aikido, and/or the first volume of Saito Morihiro's Takemusu Aikido, I think the pictures show a clear and natural progression.

DH
09-23-2008, 08:44 AM
Ellis
Nice post...er..dissertation.
One small correction ,my comment on Japanese teachers feeling a need to show sword to gaijin shouldn't have been assigned to the 30's, I was thinking more the late 70's to the present
Also I think you know the whole Kashima ordeal from the temple training and them not beng allowed to teach but they kept right on doing so within Aikido, and you just didn't want to elaborate.
_____________________________

This comment from one of the Deshi I found interesting
"I think we should stop doing sword and jo taking exhibitions at the Aikikai demos. There are probably real swordsmen in the audience and it is an insult to them, because they could cut anyone in the room in two."
I am reminded of our recent conversation regarding ippon dori, and my comments then. It's nice to know, (and I probably should have assumed the best) that my comments heres were applicable to these chaps as well.
...An inner self-awareness of their own comparative worth in a very real comparison to truly gifted Koryu weapons experts
and
and what the talent pool around them must have been, I could understand those guys being reluctant to talk about (show) their "weapons work"

This makes me feel even more compassion for their mission and what they had to struggle with. The entire research aspect always plays out much better through the eyes, and in the hands of guys with a broader background of the subject. Case in point, the early deshi (I consider that post war-the prewar guys were doing Daito ryu, plain and simple) are so often venerated and treated as "experts" under Osensei. You two do a much finer job of bringing them to light. I must say seeing their own assessment of their "swordwork" and take-aways, in light of who was in the audience, echo's many conversations and assessments from the Koryu end quite well. It puts a whole knew light on the subject knowing they didn't want to demonstrate that stuff either.
So again, this new information brings about other questions.

Saito, Kuroiwa, Iimura were representative of -I am assuming here-many others who "got it" and were conscripted into doing these displays they themselves wanted nothing to do with. So we are left to assume what?
Kissomaru didn't get it?
Or, he did but didn't care?
What does that mean?
He knew it was false but made a good road show?
He had some supposedly greater vision in mind?
What was the environment or mindset that produced the need to "represent" that stuff in any era? Lest anyone think I am picking on Aikido (George) Sakakibara and Takeda had their own budo road show, that many believe was the nexus that led to Daito ryu's "capturing and pinning five guys at once" displays, and their very own version of teachers admitting in interviews that.. "We really should stop doing those things in public.There could be serious budo men watching."

In light of people who got involved and thought they were learning from Japanese experts in this or that, and that everything they see had a pedagogy in Samurai arts its refreshing to read so much candor, such as
With few exceptions, no one's interested as to where it came from, what it means, or much of anything else.

Then again it makes a strident case for Caveat emptor doesn't it?
Who's to judge the value of anything, and by what standard? Well it worked on me so it must be good stuff right? Who would question the value and bury a waza in the back yard and leave it whimpering when it proved lacking after testing- when facing another kory exponent who's training taught them to cut while stepping back in retreat and therefore undid the waza?
I think I like the mindset of ...let weapon training be weapon training and not trying to morph THEM to body skills and grappling. Think of the inherint errors in that.

Ellis Amdur
09-23-2008, 09:42 AM
Dan - small clarifications. Kuroiwa and Iimura were postwar - as was Saito (albeit, a special case).
I do not think anyone was drafted into doing weapons taking techniques, etc., against their will. All information that I have was that Ueshiba M. was laissez-faire about most things.
He did such techniques (could HE, or Takeda, Horikawa, Sagawa accomplish them against a skilled swordsman? - Were the deshi imitating, ineptly what their forebears COULD do? Or were they imitating what they, too, couldn't do? In Ueshiba's case - and perhaps the others, we do have some accounts from swordsmen suggesting that Ueshiba could - but soon, in this area, we leave even speculation and enter fantasy discussions. )
Anyway, aside from his own research at various centers (Iwama, Shingu, Wakayama, Kyoto, etc., where that particular deshi, who functioned, in my opinion, partly as a "crash test dummy" for Ueshiba to hone a particular aspect of his own studies), I think Ueshiba left each to do as they would. Yeah, there were the emotional storms of "that's not my aikido," and Saito's memories of Ueshiba expressing visible pleasure when the former, amidst all the circus acts, would do a simple demo of aikido basics, but otherwise, people did as they wished. And that included lots of sword taking demos.
And with the exception of challenges to the administration, or in Tomiki's case, the 2nd generations ideology of what aikido was to be, 2nd Doshu's attitude seems to have been that of the Zen proverb, "If you want to keep your cow, give it a huge pasture."
Finally, idealistic martial arts - of which aikido is one - suffer from the "frog in the well" syndrome - [A frog in a well gazed at the sky, and said, "I know what the universe is. It's a black tube ending in a small blue disc." In other words - if such explanation is needed, I think many of these people - even shihan - honestly believe they can bring this stuff off - they become as credulous in their weapons and taijutsu as their students, who are taking the dives for them.
Best

DH
09-23-2008, 10:29 AM
As you know-I agree with what you've written here just now.
Lets go back to this
Dan -
I do not think anyone was drafted into doing weapons taking techniques, etc., against their will. All information that I have was that Ueshiba M. was laissez-faire about most things.
Reconcile that...with the following
Finally, Kuroiwa Yoshio once got up at an all shihan meeting and said, as follows, "I think we should stop doing sword and jo taking exhibitions at the Aikikai demos. There are probably real swordsmen in the audience and it is an insult to them, because they could cut anyone in the room in two." He told me that there was dead silence, and then after a long pause, Doshu just changed the subject. After the meeting, Iimura, who taught aikido at the Budokan, said, "I thought there was going to be a bloodbath. I can't believe you got away with that." More interesting, perhaps, was that Saito Morihiro approached him and said, "Yoku Itte kuremashita." which means, essentially, "You did me/us a real favor in saying that." Of course, nothing changed.

What that says to me is that they didn't want to do them. but were compelled to. And not by Ueshiba M., but by Kissomaru.

I think many of these people - even shihan - honestly believe they can bring this stuff off - they become as credulous in their weapons and taijutsu as their students, who are taking the dives for them.
While truer words were never spoken, your previous model holds true as well.
With few exceptions, no one's interested as to where it came from, what it means, or much of anything else.
I think a lot of guys-maybe most- could care less about really testing to see how effective they are, or how true their martial veracity is. They would never have buried a waza in the backyard simply because it didn't work, if they could have fun with it. Of course you have all the cautions and endless arguments about what effective means, but within the margins there are truths that remain relevant-if only to the few who want to test.

Ellis Amdur
09-23-2008, 10:57 AM
I think we are down to counting angels dancing on the head of a pin. Particularly as we are - mostly - in agreement. Here's where the nuances of Japanese language come in. First of all, Saito being coerced or leveraged by 2nd Doshu - uh uh. The proof of this is what happened right after his death at Iwama.
But "yoku itte kuremashita" is one of those expressions that can have as many meanings as you want. Here are some alternatives:
1. Thanks for saying exactly what I've been saying. THOSE guys are terrible with weapons. (it can't apply to me).
2. Thanks for calling me on my own b.s. Now that I've said it to you, I will carry on exactly as I have before. (Kuroiwa was the Cassandra of aikido - said the things no one else would say, was always thanked, and then ignored).
3. You sure talk big (metaphoric pat on the head.).
In my opinion, #1 is most likely to be closest to the truth in this case.
But on to other things.
Ellis

Peter Goldsbury
09-25-2008, 07:21 AM
As foreigners studying the art of Aikido, the cultural context of which you speak is necessarily what we choose to make it, since the art has no organic context of its own in our culture.
PAG. Yes, I agree. The cultural context is there, however, as a matter of fact: it can be studied and mastered by those who want to do. Those who do not will then need to solve the contradictions posed by the essentially Japanese nature of aikido. Judo has had this problem, also kendo and karate. I know from lengthy conversations with Doshu that the Aikikai do not want aikido to go in this direction, which they fear is likely if aikido is separated unduly from its Japanese cultural context.

However, in some respects Kisshomaru Ueshiba let the genie out of the bottle by deciding to propagate aikido at home and abroad as a ‘popular’ martial art. However, I think he believed that people would accept that it was a good, beneficial, part of Japanese culture, which counterbalanced the negative aspects experienced in the Pacific War. I think that Morihei Ueshiba gradually acquiesced in Kisshomaru’s vision (really, he was not the type to stop it), but still saw himself as an avatar, fashioning ubuya on the Floating Bridge of Heaven, right till the end of his life.

Kisshomaru had a completely different cast of mind from his father’s—and there is good and bad about this. His biography details Morihei’s reaction when he broached the subject of an aikido demonstration, which was held in 1956. Since the English translation has not yet been published in the US, here is a lengthy quote:

“Up until this moment, demonstrations and lectures about aikido were given by O Sensei alone, and exclusively in the setting of existing dojos. The only exceptions were the official Budo enbu (public demonstrations of various arts) in which O Sensei had participated as a guest. He detested the idea of demonstrating for the general public. True budo involved struggle, and invoked the stakes of life and death, so he felt that its inner secrets should be transmitted only to sincere seekers. He believed that to show the secrets freely to outsiders would be immoral, a kind of devaluation or disrespect for the art.
“These feelings were perfectly understandable to us. Yet we also knew that, without greater openness, it would be difficult to propagate the art of aikido as we went forward. Shigeho Tokunaga and I worked very hard on crafting a proposal to O Sensei for a demonstration to the general public—although, to make matters worse, given the lack of appropriate venues, we had to propose that the demonstration take place on the roof of a department store. We expected to be met with thunderous yelling, but we had come to the conclusion that only such a demonstration would enable us to make a decisive leap forward, and expand the awareness and practice of aikido in a way suitable for the times. I made up my mind and went to propose this to O Sensei.
“As he listened, his face gradually turned red and his veins began to pop out with just the anger we had anticipated, and he pursed his lips in a frown. Once he had listened to what I had to say, he closed his eyes and meditated for some time. Then he slowly gave his answer. ‘Very well. Perhaps it is necessary to reach out to all levels of society. If it helps to clear the muddy stream, this old man will do his best to demonstrate the essence of aikido. I have already put you in charge. As long as you follow the path of helping society and helping humanity, I have no objection to what you propose. Make use of this old man to help you reach your goals.’
“Sometimes I think back on this moment and I can see how difficult this decision must have been for O Sensei. It gives me greatest happiness that he chose as he did, and expressed his decision in that way. A person who heard this story said, ‘Perhaps O Sensei accepted this idea because you were his son. After all, O Sensei is a parent and a parent’s love is very great.’
“The five-day demonstration on the roof of the Takashimaya store was truly spectacular.” (A Life in Aikido, pp.299-301.)

Kisshomaru does not explain to what extent weapons featured in the demonstration. However, O Sensei’s main uke was Tamura Sensei and I will meet him next week and ask him. Earlier in his biography, Kisshomaru casually mentions that Shigeho Tokunaga, “helped me develop a new format for demonstrations.” I wonder (I do not know) if this was when the dreaded tachi-dori / jo-dori / tanto-dori format received official baptism.

In this respect, I give a personal anecdote. After I came to Japan, I once gave a demonstration to mark an anniversary in a neighboring prefecture. The shihan had been a deshi of Aritoshi Murashige and was noted for his rough keiko. I think I was around 3rd dan and my demonstration consisted almost entirely of koshi-waza and ganseki-otoshi, in a style beloved of Hiroshi Isoyama. My uke was an agile and flexible university student and it would never have occurred to him to be anything less than cooperative in any waza. However, I heard later that the reaction from Doshu, who saw the demonstration was that I was doing ranbo aikido (乱暴 is violent, rude, wild). So when I gave a demonstration at the big jamboree held every year in May, at the Nippon Budokan, I was required by my Dojo-cho to show only smooth, flowing, basic waza, with big circles: the type of aikido favoured by Kisshomaru Doshu. Needless to say, that was my last demonstration at this event.

In the above quotation Kisshomaru describes an encounter with his father. I will discuss the relations between Kisshomaru Ueshiba and his father in a future column, but I think we need to make a major mental leap, in order to imagine life in the Ueshiba household—or the Takeda household, for that matter. It is hard to think of a contemporary parallel. The Sopranos? Hardly. Morihei was famous for his volcanic explosions; Kisshomaru came to be noted for his glacial stare and abrupt change of subject.

I definitely do not see this as trying to duplicate some aspect of samurai culture or an attempt to be more Japanese than the Japanese. It's simply my own belief that weapons work will yield an understanding of various principles at work in our art better than other methods. I think these principles are universal rather than cultural; we can understand them as well as any Japanese person, even though we have a different cultural context.
PAG. Yes, I agree with you here, also, but I think we need to be what kind of weapons work is in question here. I ask because one of my Dutch students spent some time studying medieval European sword forms, of the type studied by Lichtenauer and collected in various technical manuals (the sword being the straight, double sided, tsurugi type). It had zero influence on his aikido. Sugano Sensei, however, became expert in European fencing before he had his leg amputated. Morihei Ueshiba appears to have trained with the spear, naginata, bo, jo, as well as the sword, but not with the kusarigama, for example.
In my opinion, there are several crucial ingredients to aikido training (in no particular order). Some are solo; some need to be done with a partner:
(1) Training similar to the kind of individual body training practiced in sumo;
(2) Training similar to the kind of grappling practiced in sumo, or ju/aiki-jutsu;
(3) Training with weapons.

Best wishes,

PAG

George S. Ledyard
09-26-2008, 01:56 AM
Sugano Sensei, however, became expert in European fencing before he had his leg amputated.

Interestingly, my wife is a former Nation Champion fencer. We actually met on-line and had an extensive e-mail correspondence regarding the energetics of the two opponents or partners) in a martial interaction. Despite the fact that technically her art, which was the epee, had no similarity at all with our movements in Aikido, the energetic relationship was pretty much the same.

One night in class we were talking about the ability to sense when an attacker makes the decision to attack, which is necessarily before the attack physically initiates. I had my wife stand with her sword in gedan hasso with the instruction to execute a tsuki the instant she perceived I was open. I stood in seigan and projected my attention at her center leaving no opening. Then, without changing anything else, I simply thought about my big toe. The instant I shifted my attention she was coming in. There was virtually no time lag between when I shifted my attention and when she initiated her tsuki.

I think that weapons training, especially sword, works better than empty hand for teaching that aspect of the art. Perhaps because in empty hand there seems to be so much more going on. Or perhaps because empty hand is so much slower than sword, one doesn't actually need to develop that same kind of sensitivity.

Anyway, the aspects of the art which concern projecting the attention, developing a high sensitivity to the others intention, etc is all done better via weapons training I think. Genie, my wife, made it clear to me that this aspect of aiki isn't limited to Asian systems, although Westerners have virtually no vocabulary for talking about it. Genie actually started Aikido to try to find some ways to express what she was already doing in her fencing

- George

C. David Henderson
09-26-2008, 09:32 AM
Hi Professor Goldsbury,

Could you please say more about this idea:

"The [Japanese] cultural context is there, however, as a matter of fact: it can be studied and mastered by those who want to do. Those who do not will then need to solve the contradictions posed by the essentially Japanese nature of aikido. Judo has had this problem, also kendo and karate. I know from lengthy conversations with Doshu that the Aikikai do not want aikido to go in this direction, which they fear is likely if aikido is separated unduly from its Japanese cultural context."

Are there examples of these contradictions and how they posed problems for judo, kendo, and karate?

And may I address you as Peter?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

David

Allen Beebe
09-26-2008, 09:35 AM
I agree George. Although, I think you will further agree that this alone isn't enough. Against the proper opponent the aforementioned ability allows one to ascertain the the precise moment before they die, and there's more . . . ;)

Interestingly, my wife is a former Nation Champion fencer. We actually met on-line and had an extensive e-mail correspondence regarding the energetics of the two opponents or partners) in a martial interaction. Despite the fact that technically her art, which was the epee, had no similarity at all with our movements in Aikido, the energetic relationship was pretty much the same.

One night in class we were talking about the ability to sense when an attacker makes the decision to attack, which is necessarily before the attack physically initiates. I had my wife stand with her sword in gedan hasso with the instruction to execute a tsuki the instant she perceived I was open. I stood in seigan and projected my attention at her center leaving no opening. Then, without changing anything else, I simply thought about my big toe. The instant I shifted my attention she was coming in. There was virtually no time lag between when I shifted my attention and when she initiated her tsuki.

I think that weapons training, especially sword, works better than empty hand for teaching that aspect of the art. Perhaps because in empty hand there seems to be so much more going on. Or perhaps because empty hand is so much slower than sword, one doesn't actually need to develop that same kind of sensitivity.

Anyway, the aspects of the art which concern projecting the attention, developing a high sensitivity to the others intention, etc is all done better via weapons training I think. Genie, my wife, made it clear to me that this aspect of aiki isn't limited to Asian systems, although Westerners have virtually no vocabulary for talking about it. Genie actually started Aikido to try to find some ways to express what she was already doing in her fencing

- George

George S. Ledyard
09-26-2008, 12:26 PM
I agree George. Although, I think you will further agree that this alone isn't enough. Against the proper opponent the aforementioned ability allows one to ascertain the the precise moment before they die, and there's more . . . ;)

Hi Allen,
All of the terminology relating to timing, spacing, initiative, etc. (to the extent that people in Aikido are aware of such) comes from the sword. Go no sen, sen no sen, sen sen no sen, etc...

Weapons work is by far the best way to gain some understanding of the differences between these concepts. Yet, O-Sensei was quoted repeatedly as saying that it Aikido technique wasn't about timing. So, I think the progression in ones training should be to first understand the various manifestations of timing as used traditionally. We simply use the forms given to us by Saotome Sensei as a tool and investigate how changing the timing or initiative changes how everything works.

But eventually we should be trying to go beyond this, as O-Sensei stated. My current take on this comes from my time with Ushiro Kenji Sensei. He talks about your mind already being inside the attack before it even starts. So what happens to the whole notion of reaction time when you introduce the concept of "already".

Whereas this is best practiced with sword, it totally relates to empty hand as well. The issue with empty hand is that people don't really feel that one strike from the opponent will finish them, so issues of who moves first etc, don't quite seem so important. Put a knife in the opponent's hand and people totally change how they treat the interaction.

This is one of the objections I have to comparing mixed martial arts and Aikido. Aikido, in my opinion, is really a weapons based system in terms of all of its logic. If you do not train as if both of you have a weapon(s) then most of what we do doesn't actually make much sense. It certainly doesn't apply in the empty hand sport context very well.

As I've said before, if you gave the two opponents in the octagon knives, we would see an entirely different body type and mindset from what we see currently. So, in my opinion, taking the weapons out of Aikido removes most of the underlying assumptions from which the waza derive. Weapons training doesn't have to be on the par with the true weapons styles of the koryu to be able to teach these lessons but the quality of the weapons training needs to be better than it generally is. Most folks I encounter doing weapons work in Aikido are not training in a way that will reveal anything useful at all; they are blissfully unaware of these issues.

I am really lucky because I get to work with real swordsmen in my own investigations. Of course they are not allowed to show me what they are learning in their koryu practice but I get a kick out of it when I can push one of them hard and some move slips out in the heat of things. I just smile and point out that they just gave away another secret; they always look very embarrassed. They really are very good at not intentionally giving anything away that they shouldn't. Anyway, I have skilled partners to work with on these things and it makes a huge difference in what I get out of my investigations.
- George

Allen Beebe
09-26-2008, 12:38 PM
George! Shhhh! :D

Chuck Clark
09-26-2008, 12:51 PM
I am really lucky because I get to work with real swordsmen in my own investigations. Of course they are not allowed to show me what they are learning in their koryu practice but I get a kick out of it when I can push one of them hard and some move slips out in the heat of things. I just smile and point out that they just gave away another secret; they always look very embarrassed. They really are very good at not intentionally giving anything away that they shouldn't. Anyway, I have skilled partners to work with on these things and it makes a huge difference in what I get out of my investigations.
- George

Ditto, George. This is very true for me as well. I can't imagine a better group of people to train with that continue to give us problems to solve. :) By the way, you're welcome to sample my group of "problem givers/solvers" any time.

George S. Ledyard
09-26-2008, 04:00 PM
Ditto, George. This is very true for me as well. I can't imagine a better group of people to train with that continue to give us problems to solve. :) By the way, you're welcome to sample my group of "problem givers/solvers" any time.

Hi Chuck,
Thanks so much for the invite... it means a lot to be welcomed by folks like you and your students. I've been so busy... I'm afraid that you are now on the list of local folks whom I dearly love whom I almost never make time to see (Phil Relnick, Bruce Bookman, etc.)

By the way, how's the state of the bod? You've had at least one operation since I last talked to you, no?

- George

Erick Mead
09-26-2008, 05:51 PM
Go no sen, sen no sen, sen sen no sen, etc... Weapons work is by far the best way to gain some understanding of the differences between these concepts. Yet, O-Sensei was quoted repeatedly as saying that it Aikido technique wasn't about timing. So, I think the progression in ones training should be to first understand the various manifestations of timing as used traditionally. We simply use the forms given to us by Saotome Sensei as a tool and investigate how changing the timing or initiative changes how everything works. ... So what happens to the whole notion of reaction time when you introduce the concept of "already". He said aikido was jujido [十字道] . I interpret that, from my experience, in precisely 90 degree terms -- spatial and temporal.

Spatially perpendicular inputs encounter "no resistance" (his description) from the directed attacking energy. In terms of timing, it is not absolute time but rhythm -- 90 degree phase difference between the attacking peak and the responding peak -- early or late -- positive or negative. That disrupts and shifts in both time and space the combined system's peak energy with what is actually, technically, described as "harmonic" resonance.

In my practice, I have a very capable aikido partner also who is ranked in MJER. We have worked on Saotome's weapons template for many years now, whereas I came from a background in Saito's. And the difference between the "Holy crap! Where did that come from?!" moments in the kumitachi that we both know like the back of our hands, and the "Yeah. Alright. Do it again." moments, is in this precise rhythm, whether ahead or behind. I have counted it out in beats immediately after a really well executed engagement and it always fits a 1::4 synchopation to a critical transition in one of several types in a given movement, as seen below. It is most devastating at a particular absolute cadence that fits with furitama.

Every action has four objective phases and five transitions (Musashi, anyone?):

1) active accelerating mode
2) free momentum mode,
3) active deceleration mode and
4) inertial recovery to neutral.

The five objective transitions are:

A) from zero motion to positive aceleration in mode 1;
B) from peak acceleration to free momentum in mode 2;
C) from free motion to decelerating in mode 3,
D) from peak (trough, really) active deceleration to passive inertial recovery in mode 4
E) from inertial recovery to zero motion

For purposes of reference, clever sequencing of mode 3 through the body and limbs results in "mass transfer" at impact (where the inertia used to attain "zero" recovery in phase 4 is the body of the target at impact. If the strike misses - the striker's body is actually moving back just before the time of impact, not travelling forward behind it. (Some call this "striking without committing weight.")

You can play with the 1::4 syncopation at any point in these progressions, and by doing so "early" or "late." I find this helpful to structure practice of waza from different points in the progression. You can also break down each subsidiary interaction of any waza and further explore that subset of the relative rhythm in the same sequence. This allows me to tease many waza apart into these sorts of examinations of movement in isolation, in spatial and temporal terms. It breaks down categories and assumptions that just because "this" movement leads to "that" movement in "this waza" does not mean that "this" movement necessarily leads to "that" movement, or necessarily to any given waza we know or may have ever done as such. The principle and the perception are brought to the forefront.

The modes and transitions are actually a cycle. There is a further transition from the "inward" zero attained at E and the "outward" zero from which A begins. This is the highest level of action -- and unlike the others it is "subjective" -- Musashi's "Void, " I believe. However, we can act on it somehow, and that means it has some connecting component that is achieved through much practice.

Your wife, I suggest, was in this space of the rhythm between A and E (with her intention outward, just before A ) as soon as you fell into E (with your intention inward, toward your big toe).

In respect of of your earlier comment, I contend (and I am still working out) that we do have physical concepts such as these that we may map onto those things that Morihei Ueshiba said, did and and understood in much more "mythical" terms or merely in native Japanese concepts. That is my project.

As to absolute cadence, there are fundamental rhythms that the body betrays, to senses quicker than eyesight. Light may be faster than vibration or sound, but the vibratory senses -- tactile and auditory -- are much actually faster than sight in processing in the brain -- that is not an opinion but an empirical fact. Attention to visual cues just bogs down the processor. "Thousand-yard-stare" diminishes the precision of the visual input -- in favor of other perceptions. If I look at my partner I cannot feel the tremor of her bokken -- I still don't recall feeling it as such, but then I move all of a sudden -- and so I know I did.

Furitama/ funetori etc. are largely about learning the fundamental frequency -- the rhythm -- of the body, from which such actions are gauged -- not by conscious sight -- but an instinctive, fundamental perception of rhythm -- even in a single beat of it -- a rhythm that all human bodies inevitably share by nature and structure.

Aikido, in my opinion, is really a weapons based system in terms of all of its logic. If you do not train as if both of you have a weapon(s) then most of what we do doesn't actually make much sense. It certainly doesn't apply in the empty hand sport context very well.... Weapons training doesn't have to be on the par with the true weapons styles of the koryu to be able to teach these lessons but the quality of the weapons training needs to be better than it generally is. Most folks I encounter doing weapons work in Aikido are not training in a way that will reveal anything useful at all; they are blissfully unaware of these issues. Amen and amen. Weapons display good, bad and indifferent rhythms more broadly.

Peter Goldsbury
09-27-2008, 08:43 AM
Hi Professor Goldsbury,

Could you please say more about this idea:

"The [Japanese] cultural context is there, however, as a matter of fact: it can be studied and mastered by those who want to do. Those who do not will then need to solve the contradictions posed by the essentially Japanese nature of aikido. Judo has had this problem, also kendo and karate. I know from lengthy conversations with Doshu that the Aikikai do not want aikido to go in this direction, which they fear is likely if aikido is separated unduly from its Japanese cultural context."
PAG. Well, take the example of sumo, which reflects the issues confronting aikido in a much more graphic way. Sumo has the best of both worlds. It is a sport (in that it has competitions), but it also has the spiritual superstructure (sumo is a spiritual art, dedicated to spiritual aims, and so is not really about winning and losing). So, it is ruthlessly competitive, but is also a hallowed Japanese budo (and with none of the angst about the supposed value of 'internal' training).
Sumo is popularly regarded as Japan's 'national' sport and so the cultural context is right there, and has to be studied and mastered by Japanese and non-Japanese alike. Non-Japanese are thought to be 'intruders' in something they are thought not capable of fully understanding. So people were very happy when the Japanese Hakuho became a yokozuna, for the proper cultural balance was thought to be restored, especially because the Mongolian Asashoryu was thought to be lacking in the prized quality of hinkaku 品格 (= 'dignity').The sumo world is regularly rocked by scandals and the President of the Association recently resigned because two young Russians were suspected of taking mild drugs. He was not involved, but resigned to 'take responsibility'. This is a common Japanese device of having a scapegoat take on the supposed sins of kohai, if it all becomes public. Sins may be sins, but they become 'shame' when they become public--and the shame, like pollution, has to be removed in a ritual fashion.
Unlike sumo, aikido does not have competitions, so there is no clear and objective way of determining who is thought to have the essential skills and 'dignity' who is not. However, there is still the same cultural component as in sumo and so the Japanese claim to be the arbiters of true quality in the art. Thus Doshu is thought to embody the essence of aikido and the transmission of leadership of the art has been effected through the iemoto system, as I suggested in Column 10.

Are there examples of these contradictions and how they posed problems for judo, kendo, and karate?
PAG. Judo became a sport, appearing at the Olympics and many Japanese wrung their hands at this, arguing that the true 'essence' of judo was thus lost. The International Judo Federation introduced blue training suits and the Japanese felt that this was a direct affront, because they felt that they had exclusive control of the cultural dimensions of the art. There is a traditional Japanese association of white with purity and judo, as a Japanese budo, is essentially pure. Thus, all taxi and bus drivers here wear white gloves. However, the IJF wanted a better way of distinguishing between contestants at Olympic judo contests. All the Japanese could do was wring their hands, lament the loss of the national 'essence', and vow to remain 'pure'.

And may I address you as Peter?
PAG. You can address me how you like, so long as it conforms to Aikiweb rules. :)

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

David
Thank you, also, for raising an interesting issue.

PAG

Chuck Clark
09-27-2008, 10:59 AM
Hi Chuck,

By the way, how's the state of the bod? You've had at least one operation since I last talked to you, no?

- George

Thanks for your concern George. The surgery you're referring to will take place on the 9th of next month. I've met the surgeon, anesthesiologist, etc. (the "pros from Dover") and I feel like I'm in good hands, so I'm just gonna relax and let them do their job. Hopefully the hip replacement will happen as soon as possible after decent recovery. I'm really looking forward to it!

Brad Darr
09-28-2008, 04:37 AM
Goldsbury sensei,
No disrespect intended but the Grand Sumo homepage lists Yokozuna Hakuho as being born in Mongolia. I love sumo and was in Osaka in 2006 when Hakuho defeated Asashoryu for the first time. I could be wrong but I think he is Mongolian. Although if I am right it doesn't detract from your point. Thank you again for your wonderful columns.

Brad Darr

Peter Goldsbury
09-28-2008, 08:44 AM
Goldsbury sensei,
No disrespect intended but the Grand Sumo homepage lists Yokozuna Hakuho as being born in Mongolia. I love sumo and was in Osaka in 2006 when Hakuho defeated Asashoryu for the first time. I could be wrong but I think he is Mongolian. Although if I am right it doesn't detract from your point. Thank you again for your wonderful columns.

Brad Darr

Hello Brad,

Yes. You are right. I was at dinner this evening and all my Japanese friends stated that Hakuho (who has just won the championship) is Mongolian. His wife is Japanese.

I think that Takamiyama and Akebono demonstrated the mysterious virtue of hinkaku best for the Japanese. Konishiki and Asashoryu are thought to have demonstrated it the worst, which is why the Sumo Kyokai yearn for a Japanese yokozuna who can display hinkaku as it should be displayed. So the Japanese can then reaffirm their faith in the 'traditional' Japanese virtues.

Best wishes,

Allen Beebe
09-28-2008, 09:22 AM
Or they could adopt appearing in rap videos, getting tooled in public MMA venues, and owing "certain entities" large sums of money into "traditional" Japanese values. :freaky:

Come to think of it, it's probably just the "un-managed" *public* part that is non-traditional isn't it? After all . . . one must maintain the proper framing of one's . . . barbarism, hedonism, gluttony, etc. . . . if one isn't to be perceived as barbaric, hedonistic, gluttonous, etc. :straightf

Allen

Allen Beebe
09-28-2008, 09:46 AM
. . . which reminds me of a little "mantra" I used to use as a reminder (not in an Aikido context that I recall thankfully), and which may have direct pertinence to this column:

"Form over content, form over content ,form over content . . . "

or its justifying partner:

"Form IS the content, form IS the content, form IS the content, . . . "

In my most paternal and condescending tone: "Peter perhaps you can use these little mantra to help quell the internal barking of the Western Dog in you that doesn't heel to all "traditional" Japanese values."

(Gosh, it's early Sunday morning over here. Normally I've been drinking wine when I write things I'll regret later . . . what kind of day am I about to have?!?! :eek: )

Kindly,
Allen

MM
09-28-2008, 01:58 PM
In the column I have mentioned the discussion by John Stevens on pp.65 & 66 of Invincible Warrior. However, the items in his bibliography give nothing new about Ueshiba's distress about the war (from 1937 onwards), nor is there any indication of what "has recently come to light", as Stevens puts it.


Speaking of Stevens. He has a paragraph in Abundant Peace about Ueshiba's move to Iwama. In one paragraph Stevens talks about Ueshiba may having been a patriot but not a fanatic. The next paragraph is below.


Also, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Morihei quietly contacted knowledgeable acquaintances to learn all he could about Japan's adversary; he was told candidly by some that there was no hope of Japan's winning a prolonged conflict with that inexhaustibly rich nation.

Made physically and emotionally ill by the carnage, Morihei, pleading poor health and the desire to preserve the true way of Aiki at all costs, resigned all his positions, entrusted the operation of the dojo to his son and disciples, and moved to a farm in Iwama, about a hundred miles north of Tokyo. In his later years, Morihei intimated that his abrupt move to Iwama was at divine command.


Stevens also states that Morihei had been buying land in Iwama since 1935 and had about 17 acres when he moved there.

I post this because you had been talking about it in this article and I had just come across reading it in the book.

Mark

Peter Goldsbury
09-28-2008, 08:48 PM
Speaking of Stevens. He has a paragraph in Abundant Peace about Ueshiba's move to Iwama. In one paragraph Stevens talks about Ueshiba may having been a patriot but not a fanatic. The next paragraph is below.

Stevens also states that Morihei had been buying land in Iwama since 1935 and had about 17 acres when he moved there.

I post this because you had been talking about it in this article and I had just come across reading it in the book.

Mark

Yes, I have Abundant Peace, but I also have Invincible Warrior, so I can see exactly how Stevens revised the earlier book. I also have all the written source material that Stevens used. Of course, I do not have the extensive interviews he carried out with O Sensei's disciples. (However, I have also been doing the same thing. :) )

The only areas I have not yet been able to search are the massive records stored in the Aikikai Hombu and the archives of the Japanese Army & Navy, for any evidence concerning Morihei Ueshiba's teaching assignments at the various military schools. I am certain that Stevens has not searched these areas either. Fumiaki Shishida has published a book about budo education in Manchuria at the Kenkoku University and discusses aiki-budo in Chapter 8. Of course, the book is written in Japanese.

MM
09-29-2008, 07:22 AM
Yes, I have Abundant Peace, but I also have Invincible Warrior, so I can see exactly how Stevens revised the earlier book. I also have all the written source material that Stevens used. Of course, I do not have the extensive interviews he carried out with O Sensei's disciples. (However, I have also been doing the same thing. :) )

The only areas I have not yet been able to search are the massive records stored in the Aikikai Hombu and the archives of the Japanese Army & Navy, for any evidence concerning Morihei Ueshiba's teaching assignments at the various military schools. I am certain that Stevens has not searched these areas either. Fumiaki Shishida has published a book about budo education in Manchuria at the Kenkoku University and discusses aiki-budo in Chapter 8. Of course, the book is written in Japanese.

I knew you had the books. :) I'm missing the Invincible Warrior, so I can't compare the revisions. I still haven't finished rereading Abundant Peace. It would have been nice to see where Stevens found his information.

Speaking of ... just how massive are the records at the Aikikai Hombu?

Thank you,
Mark

DH
09-29-2008, 09:02 AM
The only areas I have not yet been able to search are the massive records stored in the Aikikai Hombu and the archives of the Japanese Army & Navy, for any evidence concerning Morihei Ueshiba's teaching assignments at the various military schools.
Hi Peter
I just thought it worthy of amplification to reiterate that Ueshiba's teaching assginments to the military never involved aikido.
a) He was introduced directly to officers, and / or was suggested by them due to one connecting figure. Takeda.
b) He was actively teaching Daito ryu for most of the period, and then slowly changed his direction.

Since the hanko of hundreds, if not thousands of officers from all branches were entered in Takeda's eimoroku, both the "who" (Because of Takeda's prior and concurrent teaching) and "what" (he was teaching Takeda's art of Daito ryu) seems pretty clear.

Were one to be interested in speculating one might speculate as to whether the military would have been interested or retained interest in what eventually became "aikido." And juxtapose that with an interesting development within the Japanese Military and Police departments who had a decades long solid and proven connection to Daito ryu. It was once noted to Stan, that if you were a Cop or Military recruite you were learning DR. It was that widespread.
What happened?

Peter Goldsbury
09-29-2008, 09:56 AM
Hi Peter
I just thought it worthy of amplification to reiterate that Ueshiba's teaching assginments to the military never involved aikido.
a) He was introduced directly to officers, and / or was suggested by them due to one connecting figure. Takeda.
b) He was actively teaching Daito ryu for most of the period, and then slowly changed his direction.

PAG. Fumiaki Shishida clearly believes that Ueshiba was teaching 'Aiki-budo' when he visited Kenkoku University in Manchuria in 1942.

Since the hanko of hundreds, if not thousands of officers from all branches were entered in Takeda's eimoroku, both the "who" (Because of Takeda's prior and concurrent teaching) and "what" (he was teaching Takeda's art of Daito ryu) seems pretty clear.

PAG. The issue for me would be how many officers practising under Ueshiba at the military schools and at the Kobukan after 1936 would be entered in Takeda's enrollment book.

Best,

PAG

DH
09-29-2008, 10:42 AM
PAG. Fumiaki Shishida clearly believes that Ueshiba was teaching 'Aiki-budo' when he visited Kenkoku University in Manchuria in 1942.
Hi Peter
Well, we can agree on that. And I would say his gradual changing was even earlier than that. That's why I said this
b) He was actively teaching Daito ryu for most of the period, and then slowly changed his direction.
I think the thrust of my points is without controversy.
That is that, regardless of the gradual change it was stupifyingly obvious that it was none-the-less Daito ryu to anyone who had ever seen that art. And of further note, was identified as such by any person who was exposed to it or had seen it. As an aside, I think its worth considering the comment as to why that Budo committee suggested the supposed name aiki-do. In fact they never did. What they did was to suggest a "category" to disply the art under as it was clearly different than the koryu jujutsu displayed. Ueshiba happened to like the category title and adopted it as the arts name and kept it.
PAG. The issue for me would be how many officers practicing under Ueshiba at the military schools and at the Kobukan after 1936 would be entered in Takeda's enrollment book.
Best,
PAG
It would be interesting but non-definitive. Many military personnel could have been concurrent students under Takeda, many could have seen Daito ryu for the first time under Ueshiba. Some could have liked or had access to Ueshiba more than the elderly Takeda who died in early 43.
What points do you think it would bring to the table?

Of course Ueshiba would have met and trained with many military figures during his tenure with Takeda, as Takeda was actively teaching them and the police department heads during that time. We know from various interviews that it was stated that Ueshiba was noted as a...Student of Takeda Sokaku, and it was for that reason he was asked to teach. Of course his skills, once seen or felt, spoke for themselves, but isn't that a separate issue?

Peter Goldsbury
09-29-2008, 07:31 PM
I think the thrust of my points is without controversy.
PAG. The thrust of your point about him not teaching aikido is without controversy. That is why I mentioned aiki-budo and cited Shishida in support.

What points do you think it would bring to the table?
PAG. I am not bringing any points "to the table", as you put it. I am interested in evidence other than that provided in the biographies and by Stan Pranin.

PAG

DH
09-29-2008, 09:44 PM
PAG. The thrust of your point about him not teaching aikido is without controversy. That is why I mentioned aiki-budo and cited Shishida in support.
Can you define his "aiki-budo?"
It appears he could. He copied the first two scrolls of Daito ryu verbatim and keeping everything intact-changed the name. It's worth noting that the students he handed these scrolls too seemed unmoved. They still considered what they were doing as Daito ryu.
To be clear. I was allowing that the students also stated he began to change the waza somewhat, and would talk of his "experimenting" during this time. So I had suggested he was in the process of a change. Further, I believe that "change" was empowered by Takeda teaching him aiki in 1922 on to their last training together in the mid thirties.
I've not seen anything to counter these statements, inclusive of the aiki-budo name. Have you another view?

PAG. I am not bringing any points "to the table", as you put it. I am interested in evidence other than that provided in the biographies and by Stan Pranin.
PAG
That's interesting. This was the point I originally addressed.
PAG. The issue for me would be how many officers practicing under Ueshiba at the military schools and at the Kobukan after 1936 would be entered in Takeda's enrollment book.
Best,
PAG
May I ask what the issue is in how many officers training with him-would be in Takeda Eimoroku?
The reason you would find this at all interesting?

Peter Goldsbury
09-29-2008, 10:54 PM
"I think we are down to counting angels dancing on the head of a pin. Particularly as we are - mostly - in agreement."

Can you define his "aiki-budo?

I have no interest in defining aiki-budo at this point. If you want to dispute my reference, find Shishida's book and read the relevant chapter.

May I ask what the issue is in how many officers training with him-would be in Takeda Eimoroku?
The reason you would find this at all interesting?

Takeda and Ueshiba are supposed to have finally broken contact in 1936, but Ueshiba continued teaching at the military schools until 1942, though we do not know precise dates. I know from experience that Japanese universities and colleges keep detailed records of the names of classes taught, numbers and names of students etc and the same would be true especially of military institutions. So it would be very interesting to compare the subjects taught and class rolls after 1936 with the names in Takeda's eimeiroku.

Best wishes,

DH
09-29-2008, 11:01 PM
Hi Peter
I don't think I understand what I am disputing in your reference-you didn't define it. I did. I asked if you disagreed with it. Knowing you I would love to hear anything, even speculation as it is sure to be based on something

With the Military guys training with him later-I still am asking -why- it would be interesting? Do you have some sort of fascinating theory you are pondering? Or idle curiosity?

Ron Tisdale
09-30-2008, 11:29 AM
One thing that would make it interesting...it is speculated that part of the reason for the break up is a matter of fees. If the military students in question are recorded in the scrolls, it would seem fees would be due. If they are not, and Ueshiba was teaching without recording, and possibly without collecting fees for his teacher, that would also be interesting.

I assume all of this would add to any rancor between Takeda and Ueshiba.

Best,
Ron

sorokod
10-01-2008, 06:58 AM
I know from experience that Japanese universities and colleges keep detailed records of the names of classes taught, numbers and names of students etc and the same would be true especially of military institutions.

I was wondering about this in the context of the sudden move to Iwama. Did not the founder had to justify his absence from the training duties to the military, especially if the training fees were paid by the government?

Peter Goldsbury
10-01-2008, 08:16 AM
I was wondering about this in the context of the sudden move to Iwama. Did not the founder had to justify his absence from the training duties to the military, especially if the training fees were paid by the government?

Mr Soroko,

In Kisshomaru's biography Morihei Ueshiba is alleged to have retired from his teaching commitments with the military on grounds of ill health. In my experience this is always accepted, partly from the fact that the 'four seasons' are generally believed to have an impact on the daily working environment to a degree unheard of outside Japan. So, you would not believe the effects of spring and autumn 'kaze' (usually the common cold, but also mild flu) on the Japanese economy and college teaching schedules.

In sumo, if a yokozuna loses more bouts than expected, he will usually retire from the tournament, citing an injury--either a recent injury, or an 'old' injury that has suddenly become 'troublesome'. This is usually done to safeguard the 'tatemae' that a yokozuna is never expected to lose.

Apart from Morihei Ueshiba's illness, one of the reasons why I would like to look at the military records is to see the real evidence of Morihei Ueshiba's status as an instructor (there would have been several categories, even in prewar days).
At Hiroshima University I was a sennin kyoju (tenured professor), which was the main category. There are other categories, like hijokin (non-tenured) or kakuin (emeritus or honorary)--and the payment structure is different in each case. If the status is hijokin, the schedule might be a regular class, taught at the same time each week, or an intensive course, taught over a few days.
The name of the subjects that Ueshiba taught would also be stated quite clearly--and it would not be Daito-ryu (or this is a general category and is inappropriate as a course name). Of course, I understand that to make a real comparison, you would need to compare a typical Japanese national university with a typical military college between 1931 and 1942.

If you look at the situation from the viewpoint of an officer at a military college, say, in Tokyo in 1937, there are several possibilities.
He might be subscribed for a course in jujutsu taught at the college by Instructor Morihei Ueshiba. This would be free and probably required.
He might also be a student at the Kobukan Dojo, training with Morihei Ueshiba or his senior instructors (like Shioda). This would not be free.
He might also be training directly under Sokaku Takeda (though this would be difficult in Tokyo in 1936, because Takeda was staying in Osaka and teaching at the Asahi Dojo) or his senior students. This, also, would not be free.

I have not seen any evidence that Sokaku Takeda was a regular instructor at military and police colleges in the same way that Morihei Ueshiba taught the Japanese military. However, if he was, I suspect that his courses would have been required courses.

Best wishes,

PAG

sorokod
10-01-2008, 08:41 AM
Mr Soroko,
David, please.


In my experience this is always accepted, partly from the fact that the 'four seasons' are generally believed to have an impact on the daily working environment to a degree unheard of outside Japan. So, you would not believe the effects of spring and autumn 'kaze' (usually the common cold, but also mild flu) on the Japanese economy and college teaching schedules.
Interesting, even if the absence is permanent?

-- david

Peter Goldsbury
10-01-2008, 09:28 AM
David, please.

Interesting, even if the absence is permanent?

-- david

Yes. People have permanently retired from teaching positions at Hiroshima University on grounds of ill health (for example, a severe heart attack that has impaired the capacity for coping with the weekly class schedule). Of course, the grounds have to be stronger than incidental colds and flu, but they are usually accepted.

As an example, I was a member of a 'secret' committee, set up by the President to adjudicate the claims of a certain professor who objected on health grounds to being required to move to another campus. The professor had actually hired a lawyer, so we had to be very careful in our examination. Of course, the professor gave medical evidence, but we decided that he had to be examined by a 'neutral' doctor.

Best wishes,

JeremyAhouse
10-20-2008, 03:13 PM
note: The PDF naming is out of synch with the content pgoldsbury_2008-09 on this post = Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10.
The previous one was correct. #8 was a bit more subtle the pdf is called 7 and the text in the pdf calls itself #7, but the rest of the text matches the content of post #8.

TomW
10-20-2008, 03:41 PM
If I'm not mistaken, the PDF naming refers to the year and month of publication, not the number of the article. So the latest one, TIE 10 has a PDF title of pgoldsbury_2008-09, referring to September of 2008 when it was posted. Not sure about other errors.

akiy
10-20-2008, 04:22 PM
If I'm not mistaken, the PDF naming refers to the year and month of publication, not the number of the article. So the latest one, TIE 10 has a PDF title of pgoldsbury_2008-09, referring to September of 2008 when it was posted.
Yes, the above is correct.

Best,

-- Jun

Peter Goldsbury
10-21-2008, 05:47 AM
So here is a promise. In October the IAF will hold a huge Congress in Tanabe, which is O Sensei’s birthplace. Among the shihans attending will be Hiroshi Tada, Nobuyoshi Tamura and Hiroshi Isoyama, but the aikido demonstration will be held at Kumano Jingu, close to the Kumano Juku of Hikitsuchi Sensei, with demonstrations given by his senior students. I will ask….and report.

Best wishes to all,

PAG

Well, the Congress passed off successfully and I had time to talk to a number of shihans about Shochikubai no Kenpo. All affirmed that O Sensei mentioned the phrase in his lectures/explanations, but only one immediately couched these explanations in terms of :triangle: ,:square: , and :circle: , in that order. However, even this shihan did not equate O Sensei's explanations with any particular sword kata.

Best wishes,

Allen Beebe
10-21-2008, 09:07 AM
Thanks Peter,

Looking forward to more of the "fruits" of your research.

All the best,
Allen

Allen Beebe
10-21-2008, 02:24 PM
Well, the Congress passed off successfully and I had time to talk to a number of shihans about Shochikubai no Kenpo. All affirmed that O Sensei mentioned the phrase in his lectures/explanations, but only one immediately couched these explanations in terms of :triangle: ,:square: , and :circle: , in that order. However, even this shihan did not equate O Sensei's explanations with any particular sword kata.

Best wishes,

No mention of "もう一人の植芝" though?

Allen Beebe
10-21-2008, 02:31 PM
Although often downplayed now days, John Stevens has taught me a version of the sho-chiku-bai kenpo and as I remember he stressed that it contained the possibility of a more free form back and forth than is usually seen in aiki-weapons kata. I think he also referenced a non-aikido source for some of it. If I get to see him this fall I might try to get some more info on it.

Best,
Ron

Did this turn up anything Ron?

Regards,
Allen

Peter Goldsbury
10-21-2008, 07:09 PM
No mention of "もう一人の植芝" though?

No. None whatever.:straightf

Ron Tisdale
10-22-2008, 10:36 AM
I'm sorry, I missed him this year due to work and family obligations. It's the first time since he started coming here to Phila. that I missed him, I think.

I do hear he is doing much better now, I will try to email him, perhaps I can ask then.

Best,
Ron (stupid power outages...the wind here now is causing me major headaches...)

Allen Beebe
10-22-2008, 11:34 PM
Oh well, that's life. Hope to see you in Washington in March though.

Allen

Allen Beebe
11-02-2008, 09:19 PM
I'd just like to point out that I waited a whole month this time before I said . . .

"When's the next column going to be posted?"

Allen Beebe
(The very image of self-control and repose . . . :o )

Peter Goldsbury
11-02-2008, 10:06 PM
Hello Allen,

You might not know that there is an entire thread devoted to this question. It is here: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15186 It is great honor.:o

However, since Ellis is due to publish his book soon, I have changed the order. I hope to send Jun the next column for December.

PAG

Allen Beebe
11-03-2008, 09:08 AM
Thanks Peter,

I'll check the thread out.

"Soon" is a relative thing IMO.

Thanks for letting me know that the next one will be out in December, or a little later. At least I know better than to hold my breath! ;)

Still, looking forward to both Ellis's book* and your continuing articles.

Thanks again and take care,
Allen

* Just had a very pleasant conversation with Ellis and I thought he mentioned Spring as a publication date for the book. But then we talked about a variety of topics and I have popcorn for brains so I could easily be mistaken . . . I hope I am! :D

Peter Goldsbury
11-15-2008, 04:54 AM
I do hear he is doing much better now, I will try to email him, perhaps I can ask then.

Best,
Ron (stupid power outages...the wind here now is causing me major headaches...)

Hello Ron,

Just noticed the second part of your post. Has Mr Stevens been ill?

When you contact him, give him my best regards and tell him that I fully appreciate the results of his struggles with Aiki Shinzui.

Best,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
11-15-2008, 05:27 AM
Hello Everyone,

Actually, consequent on the last post to Ron Tisdale about Mr Stevens, I should indicate that the question why O Sensei abruptly stopped training in the Tokyo Kobukan and moved to Iwama is still a relatively unresolved issue. In this 10th column, I presented the issues as clearly and honestly as possible and I am somewhat surprised at the large number of views and replies.

These columns are actually the preliminaries for a narrative history of aikido from the Daito-ryu origins until the present, with all the warts allowed to appear.

In respect of the move to Iwama, I discuss the revelations of 1940 and 1942, which were played down by Kisshomaru Ueshiba and others, who sought to create a 'postwar' history that would be cleansed of all prewar-style revelations from Shinto deities.

(Of course, to appease these same deities, who probably do not differentiate between prewar and postwar Japanese history, I might have to publish the narrative history posthumously.)

However, I ask: if there is something that folks know about the move to Iwama that I do not know, please feel free to publish, or let me know.

The narrative part of these columns will resume with Column 13, entitled, "Kisshomaru Creeps into the Saddle".

Best wishes,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
12-20-2008, 07:00 AM
In connection with the friendship between Morihei Ueshiba and Okawa Shumei, the right-wing ultranationalist discussed in the column, here is the text of a letter written by Ueshiba to Okawa in December, 1954. This is well after Okawa's war crimes trial, his confinement to a mental hospital as a result of his behavior at the trial, and his subsequent release from hospital.

The letter is good evidence of the friendship between Ueshiba and Okawa, but also of the rather different levels involved. Ueshiba uses honorifics and refers at the end to Okawa Shumei Sensei (which is the normal form of address for a politician / known political fixer). In the letter Ueshiba apologizes that they were not able to meet. Apparently, Okawa went to visit Ueshiba in Tokyo, but he was not there, and Ueshiba profusely apologizes and hopes that they will be able to meet in 1955.

The letter is some evidence against the thesis that O Sensei was holed up in Iwama until 1956 onwards.

I have transcribed the text to Roman script, but have not had time to make a translation. I will do this in 2009 if time permits.

Best wishes to all,

----------

昭和二十九年十二月十三日 茨城県岩間町 合気会より。
Showa 29 nen 12 gatsu 13 nichi Ibaraki-ken Iwama-machi Aikikai yori.

謹啓 時下初冬到来の候益々御健勝の段御喜び申上ます。
Kinkei Jika shoto torai no ko masumasu gokensho no dan oyorokobi moshi agemasu.

陳者此度は小生の紀州行の都合にて拝眉の機を延引致し洵に申訳なく残念至極に存じました。
Nobureba (sate) konotabi wa shosei no Kishu yuki no tsugo nite haibi no ki wo enin itashi makoto ni moshi wake naku zannen shigoku ni zonjimashita.

帰京後直に御目にかヽる所存でございましたが、しばらく東京を不在にしておりたる為所用繁多を極め、またまた、延引いたし恐縮に存じます。
Kikyo go jika ni ome ni kakaru shozon de gozaimashitaga, shibaraku Tokyo wo fuzai ni shite oritarutame shoyo hanta wo kiwame matamata, enin itashi kyoshuku ni zonjimazu.

其上老令の故もあり、歯の治療に忙殺されている有様でございます。
Sonoue rorei no yue mo ari, ha no chiryo ni bousatsu sarete iru arisama de gozaimasu.

勝手ながら来春早々御目にかゝる時間を是非とも都合仕るべく心掛けております故、何卒違約の儀、平に御容赦
の上、新年の御慶申上げる機会を御与え下され度、御願申上ます。
Katte nagara raishun sousou ome ni kakaru jikan wo zehi tomo tsugo tsukamatsuru-beku kokorogakete orimasu yue, nanitozo iyaku no gi, hirani goyosha no ue, shinnen no gyokei moushi ageru kikai wo oatae kudasare taku, onegai moshi agemasu.

いづれ拝眉の上。            勿々不一
izure haibi no ue. Sousou fuitsu.
十二月十三日           植芝盛平
12 gatsu 13 nichi Ueshiba Morihei
大川周明先生 侍史
Okawa Shumei Sensei jishi
(宛先)神奈川県愛甲郡中津
(atesaki) Kanagawa-ken Aikou-gun Nakatsu

C. David Henderson
12-20-2008, 09:03 AM
Very interesting. Thank you.

DH

Josh Reyer
12-20-2008, 11:24 AM
先生、勝手ながら翻訳させて頂く存じます。
是非御修正をお聞かせになるよう、お願い申し上げます。:)

"December 13, 1954 Aikikai, Iwama Town, Ibaraki Prefecture

"Greetings. I am glad that you are in good health in these early days of winter.

"I exceedingly regret that we were not able to meet recently due to my trip to Wakayama.

"I had planned to see you as soon as I returned to Tokyo, but as I am extremely busy with a number of matters, and will not be in Tokyo for some time, I am afraid we must put off meeting yet again.

"Also, being old of age, I am also terribly busy having my teeth worked on.

"I would by all means like to make time to see you in the coming spring, so I humbly ask for your forgiveness for not meeting as promised, and hope that you will give me a chance to wish you a happy New Year.

"Until we meet again. Very, very sincerely yours,

"Ueshiba Morihei December 13

"Respectfully to Okawa Shumei Sensei
Nakatsu, Aiko County, Kanagawa Prefecture"

Peter Goldsbury
12-20-2008, 05:43 PM
Very interesting. Thank you.

DH

Hello David, Josh,

I forgot to mention the source. It is p. 638 of 「大川周明関係文書」, (Okawa Shumei Kankai Bunsho), published in 1998, and now long out of print. Okawa, it seems, is not so popular in Japan these days.

Best wishes,

Peter Goldsbury

Allen Beebe
01-28-2009, 02:30 PM
The Pine, the Bamboo, and the Plum.
The make up of Ki that we are training to purify
From where do they arise?
The Water and Fire of the change in the self.
- Morihei Ueshiba

Hi Peter,

This one caught my eye this morning. I would like to see it in Japanese (if you know where this one came from), but it would seem to imply that Sho, Chiku and Bai are the "make up of Ki that we are trying to purify" and are referring to something significant in that they arise from "The Water and Fire of the change in the self."

This seems a distant cry from "Ken set 'A' or some other "set menu" like item that wouldn't probably be seen to "make up Ki" or as a result of "The Water and Fire of change in the self" or at the very least, if it were a "set Menu" item, it probably wouldn't be deserving of a doka I would think.

I'm sure that Mike Sigman will see significance in the phrases, "Ki that we are training to purify" and "Water and Fire of the change in the self." Perhaps he might have ideas about three things that "make up" the "Ki that we are trying to purify" that arise from "The Water and Fire of the change in the self."

Manifest, Hidden, Divine
Triangle, Circle, Square

Three seems to important relationally after two

In, Yo
Fire, Water
Red, White

after one

O-moto

after . . .

anyway, after seeing the doka I thought I'd pull that smoldering log back out and throw it on top of the fire. Maybe some one will be able to "breathe some life" into its embers and produce some "heat and light." Even a little "insight" can posses "jewel" like value upon "reflection" providing the wisdom to "cut through" one's ignorance. (:rolleyes: sorry!)

Hope all is well,
Allen

Peter Goldsbury
01-28-2009, 06:19 PM
Good morning, Allen,

As it so happens, there will be some discussion of this very matter in TIE 11, a few versions of which I have already sent to Jun and the final version of which will go in a few days, just as soon as I have had the last Japanese language check. The main topic of TIE 11 and 12 is language and aikido and so questions of metaphors and codes will come up, especially in TIE 12. For TIE 11, you will need all your Japanese dictionaries. :D

Best wishes,

PAG

Allen Beebe
01-28-2009, 07:42 PM
. . ., you will need all your Japanese dictionaries. :D

Wow! You have the power to turn eager anticipation into horrified dread with just a few words . . . you must know kotodama! :sorry:

Guess I should quit dreaming and live in naka ima.*

Kind regards,
Allen

*although, knowing me, I'll probably wind up in a suburb.

Josh Reyer
01-28-2009, 07:50 PM
This seems a distant cry from "Ken set 'A' or some other "set menu" like item that wouldn't probably be seen to "make up Ki" or as a result of "The Water and Fire of change in the self" or at the very least, if it were a "set Menu" item, it probably wouldn't be deserving of a doka I would think.


I suppose this is more heat than light, but I get the distinct impression, Mr. Beebe, that you read post #26 in this thread, and then ignored everything else I wrote.

"Ken set A" is an idea purely of your own suggestion. No one else has suggested it. Please reread this thread, in particular my explanations and clarifications to Mr. Doug Walker.

With regards,

Peter Goldsbury
01-28-2009, 08:12 PM
Here is the Japanese text etc.

松竹梅 Shochikubai
錬り清めゆく neri kiyome yuku
気の仕組 ki no shikumi
いつここ/ いずこに生るや itsukoko / izuko ni naruya
身変るの水火 mikawaru no iki

The Japanese text of Abe (first) differs from that of Stevens (second) in the fourth line.

Peter Goldsbury
01-28-2009, 11:54 PM
Hello Josh,

I did not receive the impression from Allen's post that he was referring specifically to the earlier discussion in this thread. Ueshiba mentions shochikubai (only, not specifically shochikibai ken) in a number of places, as he does ki no shikumi 気の仕組み and iki (usually read as suika 水火). I suspect that the designation for the swordwork came after the more general use of the phrase.

Best wishes,

PAG

Allen Beebe
01-29-2009, 12:35 AM
I suppose this is more heat than light, but I get the distinct impression, Mr. Beebe, that you read post #26 in this thread, and then ignored everything else I wrote.

"Ken set A" is an idea purely of your own suggestion. No one else has suggested it. Please reread this thread, in particular my explanations and clarifications to Mr. Doug Walker.

With regards,

Hi Josh,

You are right. More heat than light I'm guessing. I apologize if my post prompted that reaction in you. While I'm sure that I can profitably re-read this thread several times with great benefit, particularly with regard to Peter's contributions, I had read (and re-read) your and Doug's exchange at the time and moved on.

(BTW, my suggestion was that Sho Chiku Bai was a referent for a Kenpo* not a particular Ken Kata. I did, however, make the mistake of somehow erroneously thinking that the terms Sho Chiku Bai had a direct relationship with Shinkake Ryu which, thanks in no small part to you, it is now my understanding, that they do not.)

Anyway, the question of my latest post was directed at: What do 松竹梅 represent to Ueshiba Morihei when he writes:

錬り清めゆく
気の仕組
いつここ/ いずこに生るや
身変るの水火

?

Perhaps I'm "Dan Brown-ing" the Doka or my Japanese is so poor that the obvious escapes me. But I read that, and it seems to me that, as represented by this Doka, 松竹梅 was a very significant, albeit esoteric, referent for Ueshiba.

Thanks for the time,
Allen

*A suggestion that seems to have been borne out by quotes of Ueshiba within this thread I believe.

Allen Beebe
01-29-2009, 12:37 AM
Here is the Japanese text etc.

松竹梅 Shochikubai
錬り清めゆく neri kiyome yuku
気の仕組 ki no shikumi
いつここ/ いずこに生るや itsukoko / izuko ni naruya
身変るの水火 mikawaru no iki

The Japanese text of Abe (first) differs from that of Stevens (second) in the fourth line.

Cool! Thanks Peter!

Sincerely,

Allen

Allen Beebe
01-29-2009, 12:42 AM
Hello Josh,

I did not receive the impression from Allen's post that he was referring specifically to the earlier discussion in this thread. Ueshiba mentions shochikubai (only, not specifically shochikibai ken) in a number of places, as he does ki no shikumi 気の仕組み and iki (usually read as suika 水火). I suspect that the designation for the swordwork came after the more general use of the phrase.

Best wishes,

PAG

Yep! (Thanks again Peter!) I hope that comes across clearly in my response to Josh. :( If not . . .

"What Peter said Josh!" :D

All the best,
Allen

Peter Goldsbury
01-29-2009, 05:30 AM
Wow! You have the power to turn eager anticipation into horrified dread with just a few words . . . you must know kotodama! :sorry:

Guess I should quit dreaming and live in naka ima.*

Kind regards,
Allen

*although, knowing me, I'll probably wind up in a suburb.

Well, I have not seen William Gleason's latest book yet, though it is on its way to me. Fear not, however, for all essential study aids will be provided (but you will need all your dictionaries to check whether I am right :straightf ).

By the way, can you access the Japanese Google website from the US--and can you cope with the Japanese. There is a vast amount of interesting stuff on 松竹梅.

Best wishes,

PAG

Ron Tisdale
01-29-2009, 09:16 AM
Well, Prof. Stevens does teach a kata called sho chiku bai, and strangley enough, it is also used as a jumping off point for a more free-style aiki-kempo (sp?).

After all, you have to start somewhere, but once the basis is there, you may perhaps be able to "transcend"? As I remember, there were 3 sets, each one a little more involved.

Best,
Ron

Allen Beebe
01-29-2009, 09:24 AM
Thanks for the encouragement Peter!

OK, I admit, I'm still looking forward to what you have in store for us in TIE 11 and 12. And, with 12,134 "views" to date, I'm guessing I'm not alone in that.

Sure hope your future book is a successful as your column.

Kind regards,
Allen

Allen Beebe
01-29-2009, 09:37 AM
Hi Ron,

I may very well be wrong, but I'm going to guess that this is either a restructuring or something soley of Prof. Stevens own creation.* (I seemd to notice that sort of thing happening the couple of times I visited Fukushi Daigaku after Sensei's death. Not that that is "wrong," or "bad" as long as the source of those changes are properly attributed IMO.) Therefore those Sho Chiku Bai are not directly relevant to the discussion of Ueshiba Morihei's understanding and attribution what Sho Chiku Bai represented to him.

Of course, all knswledgable sources of information can and more than likely should be considered as long as they are relevant to the parameters of the discussion.

FWIW,
Allen

*I'd check that with sources such as Funakoshi, Sakurai, and Adachi, etc. from Yamagata or Nakajima in Chiba.

(Funky post warning! I'm late to work and both kids are talking to me at the same time!!!!!!!)

Erick Mead
01-29-2009, 10:37 AM
先生、勝手ながら翻訳させて頂く存じます。
是非御修正をお聞かせになるよう、お願い申し上げます。:)

"December 13, 1954 Aikikai, Iwama Town, Ibaraki Prefecture

"Greetings. I am glad that you are in good health in these early days of winter.

"I exceedingly regret that we were not able to meet recently due to my trip to Wakayama.

"I had planned to see you as soon as I returned to Tokyo, but as I am extremely busy with a number of matters, and will not be in Tokyo for some time, I am afraid we must put off meeting yet again.

"Also, being old of age, I am also terribly busy having my teeth worked on.

"I would by all means like to make time to see you in the coming spring, so I humbly ask for your forgiveness for not meeting as promised, and hope that you will give me a chance to wish you a happy New Year.

"Until we meet again. Very, very sincerely yours,

"Ueshiba Morihei December 13

"Respectfully to Okawa Shumei Sensei
Nakatsu, Aiko County, Kanagawa Prefecture"

Thanks to Prof. Goldsbury for the letter text and Josh for the idiomatic translation. But a question arises.

The debate seems to be whether Moroihei Ueshiba genuinely changed his views in '40-'42 before the defeat, or simply pragmatically adjusted them after defeat in the new regime. I take the former view as the chronology (as I have said before) does not seem to fit the latter view. Furthermore, as I have said, I find significance in the Manchuria trips coinciding with this preemptive change of heart.

But the question is as to the letter -- for those who are more conversant in the idiomatic tongue -- what is in there to show that it is not simply a tatemae of avoidance of a former, and now disfavored, association? It seems (and if I take you wrongly, please correct me, Professor), that this is taken as evidence of continued interest and association with the problematic sort of nationalists. The letter itself seems more in keeping (to me) of Ueshiba's earlier and similar avoidance behavior in dealing with his separation from Takeda Sokaku.

That prior pattern is instructive in this regard. The motivation for that avoidance may be more than simplistic, it must be said. Before the war Okawa was involved in the provocative Mukden bombing that precipitated the Manchurian occupation in 1931 and was convicted and imprisoned for participation in the coup that assassinated Inukai in '32.

Okawa avoided trial as a Class A war criminal, only because he was losing his mind. It was unlikely to have been feigned, because he was diagnosed with general paresis secondary to chronic syphilis (also called paralytic dementia). His treatment improved his condition somewhat but not enough for him to stand trial - (Even after treatment he claimed to receive regular visitations from Emperor Meiji, Saigo Takamori and the Prophet Mohammed), and he (the arch-nationalist Japanese propagandist) spent his time in prison or hospital translating the Koran.

Okawa's motivation to visit a noted mystic such as Ueshiba is plain -- and Ueshiba's avoidance of him-- if that is what this was -- would reveal Ueshiba's mysticism as being all that more sober and stable. Okawa Shumei was likely to be very difficult person to be around -- he slapped Tojo's bare head out of nowhere in the middle of court proceedings before he was diagnosed, and tried to order him about like an Indian man-servant -- in German.

That 'avoidance' interpretation is, however, also consistent with the "Damascus moment" view of the '40-'42 mystical vision reports. The letter seems to indicate an awful lot of scheduling problems for a man largely retired from public life, whose son has taken the day-to-day reins for him.

I am not saying the letter is conclusive evidence of the specific reasons for the tatemae -- but in context the tatemae seems completely apparent.

Howard Popkin
01-29-2009, 12:36 PM
Al,

Okamoto taught me Sho Chiku Bai Kata, Hakutsuru Kata, Ozeki Kata, Geikeikan Kata...etc, Dai Nama Bieru Kata was my favorite.

:)

Be well,

Howard

Erick Mead
01-29-2009, 01:06 PM
Al,

Okamoto taught me Sho Chiku Bai Kata, Hakutsuru Kata, Ozeki Kata, Geikeikan Kata...etc, Dai Nama Bieru Kata was my favorite.

:)

Be well,

HowardSkipped over the Awamori and Katsutori Katas did he ... ? :D

Not to mention the "Men no Kawaya" no Kata at the end of training -- but I suppose that is, generally speaking, a solo suburi :crazy:

Allen Beebe
01-29-2009, 01:54 PM
Al,

Okamoto taught me Sho Chiku Bai Kata, Hakutsuru Kata, Ozeki Kata, Geikeikan Kata...etc, Dai Nama Bieru Kata was my favorite.

:)

Be well,

Howard

Perhaps these kata are the source of the Kuden "Learn and Forget?"

Kampai,
Allen

Ron Tisdale
01-29-2009, 03:02 PM
I'm sure if I could learn, forgetting would not be a problem...

:D

Allen Beebe
01-29-2009, 03:27 PM
I'm sure if I could learn, forgetting would not be a problem...

:D

Ron,

Howard is out your way-ish. If you brought him a bottle, I'm sure he would be happy to lead by example! :o (Don't bring cooking sake though. One ought not allow low level spirits to inhabit one's being!)

Allen

Oops, bad advice. (Just re-read his post) Bring Howard where he can get good draft beer. The Pacific Northwest is famous for it delicious draft beers for example. Why not join him on a trip out here?

Ron Tisdale
01-29-2009, 03:35 PM
:D Yeah, I've been meaning to get up his way for some time now...

Only one problem...I HATE New York! NOT going to drive there, and not a fan of the subway either...

I'm just a stuck in the mud suburbanite I guess...

Best,
Ron

Allen Beebe
01-29-2009, 05:26 PM
Peter,

I'm sorry I missed that this was a question earlier.


By the way, can you access the Japanese Google website from the US--

Yes I can.

and can you cope with the Japanese.


I hesitate to say. (My hesitation is definitely NOT a false modesty BTW. :( )

There is a vast amount of interesting stuff on 松竹梅.

I'll definitely give it a look. If you have any particular links in mind, please feel free to PM them to me, or post them here, of course, if you think they are relevant.

Kind regards,
Allen

Allen Beebe
01-29-2009, 05:56 PM
Ho Ho! THANKS Peter!

This is great!!!

Allen

Peter Goldsbury
01-30-2009, 11:11 AM
Thanks to Prof. Goldsbury for the letter text and Josh for the idiomatic translation. But a question arises.

But the question is as to the letter -- for those who are more conversant in the idiomatic tongue -- what is in there to show that it is not simply a tatemae of avoidance of a former, and now disfavored, association? It seems (and if I take you wrongly, please correct me, Professor), that this is taken as evidence of continued interest and association with the problematic sort of nationalists. The letter itself seems more in keeping (to me) of Ueshiba's earlier and similar avoidance behavior in dealing with his separation from Takeda Sokaku.

Well, I passed the letter by my Japanese native-speaker 'guinea-pig' earlier this evening and he did not think that there was any tatemae of avoidance in the wording of the letter. The wording was quite consistent with an apology from one acquaintance to another about a projected meeting. This is consistent with the view that Ueshiba continued his friendship with Okawa in spite of his own change of attitude in 1940-1942 and in spite of what befell the latter at the end of the war. Ueshiba was also a friend of Konoe Fumimaro and probably would have continued this friendship had Fumimaro not commited suicide.

Best wishes,

PAG

Allen Beebe
01-30-2009, 11:44 PM
Hi Peter,

Thanks to your suggestion I've been using spare moments to snoop around using Japanese Google (Hoodah Thunk?) and ran across this:

http://www.page.sannet.ne.jp/shun-q/doka3h-2.HTML

Kinda cool seeing O-sensei's doka in O-sensei's hand with Abe sensei's take on it.

Thanks again,
Allen
(I'm having fun! A whole other world of "stuff" to pick through.)

Peter Goldsbury
01-31-2009, 04:59 AM
Hello Allen,

I am glad you found the Abe site. There are quite a few more. In addition, look for material centering on Osaka and Wakayama. There is quite a lot of material written by the late Takaoka Sensei and reminiscences by and about Bansen Tanaka. I have not found much by Shirata Sensei yet, but this is because I have not had the time to look hard enough. And Google is not the only Japanese search engine...

I am so glad that I bought my i-Mac... It is the top-of-the-range 24 inch screen model, with the maximum speed and the maximum available memory. My main regret is that I did not learn classical Japanese earlier.

Best wishes,

PAG

Allen Beebe
01-31-2009, 11:15 AM
There is quite a lot of material written by the late Takaoka Sensei and reminiscences by and about Bansen Tanaka. I have not found much by Shirata Sensei yet, but this is because I have not had the time to look hard enough. And Google is not the only Japanese search engine...

I've run across some Takaoka sensei articles already! I haven't noticed any by Bansen Tanaka or Shirata sensei yet, but I've only just started. Do you have any other preferred Japanese search engines that you can recommend?

I am so glad that I bought my i-Mac... It is the top-of-the-range 24 inch screen model, with the maximum speed and the maximum available memory. My main regret is that I did not learn classical Japanese earlier.

I'm using a Mac too. (My wife converted me by sitting at her mac calmly after the fourth crash and rebuild of my PC several years ago. :uch: ) It was tops when I bought it a year and a half ago . . . but that is ancient history in computer time. I just bought a 28" monitor which I use with it in the dojo (believe it or not!)

Hey! At least you can say that you learned classical Japanese. Everyday Japanese is challenging enough for me and I've written furigana by the classical text in my Sutra books! (I tell myself it is Hoben! ;) )

Do you use JEDict on your Mac? It doesn't replace specialized dictionaries but it is pretty powerful. Doug's suggestion of loading Rikaichan into Firefox was a boon that helped me with my inhearant laziness . . . too lazy to switch screens . . . now THAT is lazy!!! :(

I'm hooked . . . more late nights for me :dead: .

All the best,
Allen

(Now if Tom would finish those book shelves I could unbury my boxes of dictionaries . . . :p sorry Tom, couldn't help myself.)

Peter Goldsbury
02-01-2009, 05:40 AM
Hello Allen,

Since I use two massive Japanese monolingual dictionaries in book form (the 14-volume Kokugo Daijiten, and Morohashi's Dai Kanwa Jiten in 13 volumes), I have never felt the need to use Internet resources. However, the student who comes to check my Japanese always uses the Internet and always Google. He knows where to look much more than I do.

My student is now a university lecturer at Hirodai and for Column 11 we have gone word by word through O Sensei's discourses (the sections I chose to discuss) and this was a major learning experience. He confesses to know less classical Japanese than I do, but I think he is being polite--and has the native intuition that I lack. However, even he confessed to being stumped by some of O Sensei's kanji combinations and even more by the contents. You will see.

I am pleased that you have not lost your Japanese after returning to the States and I am very pleased that some AikiWeb members like Josh Reyer are serious students of the language.

Of course, I can see more clearly the constraints that John Stevens was working under when he did his translations of O Sensei's discourses. He made choices that I would not have made, but his achievement is remarkable, nonetheless. The problem for me is that he has given O Sensei in English the status of aikido Holy Writ and I think this is unfortunate.

Best wishes,

PAG

Rennis Buchner
02-01-2009, 07:55 AM
My main regret is that I did not learn classical Japanese earlier.


You and me both. Granted I'm not dealing with Aikido material but I understand the pain having about 30 Edo period densho to sort through in the next several years myself. Somehow I think I already have my life's work in front of me here and the old guys keep dumping more and more of it on me :crazy:

Rennis

Josh Reyer
02-01-2009, 08:28 AM
You and me both. Granted I'm not dealing with Aikido material but I understand the pain having about 30 Edo period densho to sort through in the next several years myself. Somehow I think I already have my life's work in front of me here and the old guys keep dumping more and more of it on me :crazy:

Rennis
On this note, I took up the study of kanbun last year. :D

Erick Mead
02-01-2009, 11:00 PM
However, even he confessed to being stumped by some of O Sensei's kanji combinations and even more by the contents. You will see.

I am pleased that you have not lost your Japanese after returning to the States and I am very pleased that some AikiWeb members like Josh Reyer are serious students of the language.

Of course, I can see more clearly the constraints that John Stevens was working under when he did his translations of O Sensei's discourses. He made choices that I would not have made, but his achievement is remarkable, nonetheless. The problem for me is that he has given O Sensei in English the status of aikido Holy Writ and I think this is unfortunate.Let me ask a dumb question. If O Sensei intended to be understood (let us assume this is so, since he troubled to lecture and to write the Doka) and native and scholarly Japanese speakers have trouble grasping categorically what he meant -- then do we not have to ask the question if his language and intent was precisely outside of category in many respects -- of Japanese or any other language? This may make it less accessible in some respects, but more accessible without regard to strict language in another sense. Image and intimation speaks more than any category. On empirical grounds his communication mode has some demonstrated merit, whether it was a deliberately chosen or simply fortuitous strategy. .

As to holy writ that goes too far, obviously, and a point that also bugs me about Stevens. And despite some axe-handle familiarity with the language -- I have no realistic hopes of approaching the problem with the language's more properly surgical tools.

But writing about the holy is often walking in the "places between" (in either the Celtic or the Taoist sense) that defy commonplace category. The Japanese have enshrined him, perhaps merely because he defied their categories -- why should anyone else be different? Kotodama is an open invitation to ringing the changes on associational interpretation, so why should the native speakers have all the fun?

Peter Goldsbury
02-02-2009, 04:15 AM
Let me ask a dumb question.

Why did you call it a dumb question?

If O Sensei intended to be understood (let us assume this is so, since he troubled to lecture and to write the Doka) and native and scholarly Japanese speakers have trouble grasping categorically what he meant -- then do we not have to ask the question if his language and intent was precisely outside of category in many respects -- of Japanese or any other language? This may make it less accessible in some respects, but more accessible without regard to strict language in another sense. Image and intimation speaks more than any category. On empirical grounds his communication mode has some demonstrated merit, whether it was a deliberately chosen or simply fortuitous strategy.

It would cover too much ground and involve too much repetition, for me to answer these questions or to discuss the issues raised, until after the next two columns have appeared. Of course, this does not prevent others from having a go.

Best wishes,

PAG

Josh Reyer
02-02-2009, 06:41 AM
Let me ask a dumb question. If O Sensei intended to be understood (let us assume this is so, since he troubled to lecture and to write the Doka) and native and scholarly Japanese speakers have trouble grasping categorically what he meant -- then do we not have to ask the question if his language and intent was precisely outside of category in many respects -- of Japanese or any other language? This may make it less accessible in some respects, but more accessible without regard to strict language in another sense. Image and intimation speaks more than any category. On empirical grounds his communication mode has some demonstrated merit, whether it was a deliberately chosen or simply fortuitous strategy.

IMO, it is all a question of idiom and context. Ueshiba was a man educated pre-war, working within a very specialized cosmology, and describing with words what has long been referred to in budo circles as "that which cannot be described with words." Naturally, it's very, very difficult to reach an understanding of what he was saying without an idea of his particular context and idiom.

This issue is hardly unique to aikido. In a series of lectures on budo in general, and kenjutsu in particular, Yagyu Toshinaga described this problem with the terms "hontai" 本体 - the essential form, and the "hongen" 本源 - the essential source of martial arts.

The form is in the physical practice, be it kata or conditioning exercises. The source is the theoretical framework on which the form is built. Without the form, the theory is nothing. Without the source, the form is empty, just a house of cards. The budo have used a variety of philosophies to structure their theory. For some it was Buddhism, Zen or Mikkyo, for others it was Shinto, for Kano it was early western kineseology, for Ueshiba it was Omoto. But the theory is not self-sustaining. It requires the physical practice for understanding.

For example, of late I've been reading Heiho Kadensho, a treatise on the martial arts (Shinkage-ryu in specific) written by Yagyu Munenori in the early 1600s. The edition was prepared by Watanabe Ichiro, a respected historian specializing in budo. It's been commented on by Imamura Yoshio, another budo historian who's specialized in the Yagyu family. Although both have done tremendous work in reading, interpreting, and preparing these kinds of documents for publication, they both shoot wide of the mark on several key points, simply because they aren't interpreting the documents back through the physical process, as was intended, nor were they given the oral teachings that decoded some of the written material.

I think Ueshiba, like Yagyu Munenori, intended to be understood, but only by those who had put in the work to reach the physical understanding that he had. If there's one thing I think Professor Goldsbury's columns here have made abundantly clear, Ueshiba was not operating with the intention of cogently taking his students from point A to point Z. Rather, he gave them his understanding of the system of the world, and he expected them to put in the physical work to illuminate that understanding.

So naturally, to truly understand Ueshiba's words, one needs to understand his context, physical and metaphysical. That would require a study of the things he studied, the way he studied them. It would require the mat time, as both sides inform the other.

I do not say that this is all necessary to do aikido (although a case could be made that it is in order to do "Ueshiba's aikido"), but I think it is necessary to understand how and what he wrote about aikido.

Erick Mead
02-02-2009, 11:29 AM
... what has long been referred to in budo circles as "that which cannot be described with words." Naturally, it's very, very difficult to reach an understanding of what he was saying without an idea of his particular context and idiom. Well said.

I think Ueshiba, like Yagyu Munenori, intended to be understood, but only by those who had put in the work to reach the physical understanding that he had. If there's one thing I think Professor Goldsbury's columns here have made abundantly clear, Ueshiba was not operating with the intention of cogently taking his students from point A to point Z. Rather, he gave them his understanding of the system of the world, and he expected them to put in the physical work to illuminate that understanding. FWIW, this manner of thinking stems from Oyomei-gaku -- and I firmly agree. Action and knowledge are one.

So naturally, to truly understand Ueshiba's words, one needs to understand his context, physical and metaphysical. That would require a study of the things he studied, the way he studied them. It would require the mat time, as both sides inform the other.

I do not say that this is all necessary to do aikido (although a case could be made that it is in order to do "Ueshiba's aikido"), but I think it is necessary to understand how and what he wrote about aikido. ... And then here we part company -- slightly, over the "natural" assumption from which you take the thought further. There is immense value of course in delving into O Sensei's words and meanings to elaborate his imagery further.

But I take issue with the thought, almost passed over in your comment, that HIS conceptual context of his images of the art was paramount for OUR learning of the art and grasping the significance of the images he employed.

I would go with your first impulse and say that the practice of the art is the only suitable context. From that all of his concrete imagery can be made sense of, with relatively little cultural subtlety (apart from knowing what image the words describe, of course).

This is very much in-line with Prof. Goldsbury's comment about being told bay a senior Japanese he could not understand something because he was not born Japanese and raised in Japan -- to which he replied that he simply smiled enigmatically and said nothing. (Kudos to him BTW for that wonderfully ironic reflexion of casual prejudices.)

There is evidence that Ueshiba believed that his imagery was more universal than is often given credit. Certinaly Oomoto held this as a tenet of its syncretistic fatih, if nothing else. But deeper than that the Shinto root of this comprehension is as thoroughly naturalistic and concrete as it is lively and imaginitive. There is no "deity" in the Shinto pantheon (apart from of the Sanshin Zouka -- who seem defy otherwise rampant anthropomorphizing) that is more "perfect" than any human -- just more powerful and just as flawed in their own ways -- concrete human attributes writ large and spectacularly for examination or example.

Consider the various yokai traditions for instance -- an ancient umbrella taking a life and mind of its own -- this is myth coursing in and through concrete function. If you use something enough (well or badly) it takes on a life of its own (good or bad, accordingly) . This is very much the same sensibility as Aikido as I see it. Any person of any culture can imagine the "desires" and "fears" of the awakened umbrella, because they flow from what it is and what ir does in a naturalistic sense. Knowing what the inanimate thing "wants" to do is understanding and cooperating with its nature. -- Aiki in our context.

This is often foreign to minds of modern prejudice. It is prerational -- not irrational. But this interplay between concrete action or object and the conceptual image given a developmental life of sorts, is appealing at very basic levels. This is a part of why aikido has spread so far so fast -- IMO. It speaks to the remnant of unschooled childlike intellect in each of us that simply loves this sort of play. That play can be simple or complex depending on the capacities of the persons concerned, but the same spirit should be in the effort, at whatever level.

It is for this reason that I take O Sensei's comment to Terry Dobson as being more indicative of this kind of universalizing intent through the lively concreteness of both practice and image. Dobson asked about the meaning of the triangle circle and square. O Sensei wouldn't tell him -- although of course he could and did describe it for others elsewhere at other times. "Find out for yourself," was the answer. The task was given for Terry Dobson to contextualize the image consistent with his own concrete practice and his own sense of liveliness, not according to O Sensei's playing of the same game.

One does not understand chess or go by being given the endgame positions of someone else's game -- one has to play the whole thing to get there. Of course, no two games are alike, though the rules, the field and the operative parts do not change from game to game. Aikido is a game that in the brutal reality of its complete context has winners and losers, of course, but that is not why we practice the game -- merely to win or avoid losing. One would not understand chess if one quit playing because one was routinely beaten.

In this analogy, perhaps too much effort is sometimes spent trying to make some fortuitous combinations of the application of those rules in a justifiably well-admired game -- into additional rules (or worse yet, as though they were some sort of meta-rules dictating the sequence of play). The why of the play is more important that the what or the how, and the play itself is more important than the why, how or what results -- it is self-justifying.

Your move.

Erick Mead
02-02-2009, 03:30 PM
Why did you call it a dumb question? Well, I say dumb, because it is essentially the naive response to his communication -- that he simply meant what he said. I note right off the bat that does not imply necessarily grasping immediately the meaning of what he did say.

Leaving aside the doe-eyed hagiographer perspective (which is distasteful for many reasons) there seems two other more critical (and one of them distinctly less charitable) schools of thought on the matter. These days, it seems like the more critical the approach, the more it is approved of as clever, and the more clever something is reputed to be, the more likely to be right. There is a series of logical fallacies in that statement, but it is not that hard to find people who operate from such postures these days, explicitly or implicitly, and on these and other topics.

Your approach for what it is worth is more in the "Joe Friday" "just the facts, ma'am" school, although the facts that you choose to examine seem to lean one way or the other at times. If you have a bias in this regard it is hinted at, only. My job is to deal in hints, so please forgive if I read too much in and take it for what is intended, as a point of observation, only, of the larger discussions ongoing.

The more charitable critical view seems to believe or to use as an operating thesis that he did NOT intend to to communicate anything useful in his communications, and that they were for him like honeycomb to bees. He did it because he could not do anything else. To ask the bee what the comb means is a foolish inquiry. "He could not possibly mean such a thing; therefore, he is deluded/demented/confused by his mystical enthusiasm." In its stronger version this approaches an idiot savant hypothesis, a superlatively gifted and yet quaintly limited sort of individual.

The less charitable thesis seems to make the hinge of the war conversion a stalking horse for a suspicion of his declared motives, a sort a crypto-cultural imperialism in mystical dress. No Doubt the genuine crypto-cultural imperialism of Deguchi's Oomoto lends this view some patina of credence, but it does not stand well on its own. In a strong version it would seem very much "conspiracy theory" stuff -- as though the Japanese Odessa File is -- oh, any day now -- going to come to spectacularly to light and all the schemes be laid bare.

I have no doubt that Morihei Ueshiba was as hardbitten an imperialist as was, say Churchill, in his day. The suggestion of the wartime conversion as cover for a later ulterior agenda, I find lacking in evidence (so far), and the evidence of lingering associations is not evidence.

Both of those are lacking in persuasive force for me. The associational evidence is certainly there and not to be denied -- but what does it mean? How is it to be made more than mere conviction by inuendo of others' earlier views? Especially what does it tell us when his own views he declared changed and removed himself from most public association almost three years before it became politic to do so?

The naive assumption persuades more, to me. So, it was a dumb question.

And all that said --- I look forward eagerly to such of those perspectives as your next installments may address.

Peter Goldsbury
02-04-2009, 07:45 AM
Al,

Okamoto taught me Sho Chiku Bai Kata, Hakutsuru Kata, Ozeki Kata, Geikeikan Kata...etc, Dai Nama Bieru Kata was my favorite.

:)

Be well,

Howard

Hello Howard,

I can vouch for the general all-round efficacy of Hakutsuru (White Crane) Kata. Its origins lie in the mountainous region to the east of Hiroshima and the kata is clearly named after the beautiful birds that come to spend their summer months here.

Best wishes,