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Sid
02-15-2002, 09:55 PM
Hey all,

I was wondering about something- not that I am not trying to put down aikido, so dont bite my head off. Do you think that we aikidoka are focusing on the wrong element of O-senseis teachings?

Let me explain with an analogy. In any other martial art I can think of, the student learns the basics first, and after that, he progresses onto more advanced techniques. Like in karate, you dont learn advanced kata until you know the basic ones, or in something closer to home, like in tai chi, you dont do an advanced level of the form until you have mastered the basics. Even if you learnt the physical movements of the advanced form, without the basic understanding of tai chi, you would have no idea of whats going on internally tai chi is after all an internal art. (Note: not an excuse to start a ki-war ;) )Ok so far?

But in aikido, rather than emulating O-senseis basics, we, unless we are yoshinkan-ka or yoseikan-ka, emulate his aikido when it was at its most advanced when it was all soft and flowing without going through the basics of training that he did, the training that let him arrive at his level of proficiency.

Thus, my question is two-fold :

1) Are these harder basics necessary to the practice of aikido, particularly martially effective aikido?
2) Are we focusing not on the how of O-sensei, in other words, how he got to the level of skill that he did, but on the what, in other words, what everyone saw him doing at his most advanced level, without doing basic training?

Thanks,
Sid

Edward
02-15-2002, 10:35 PM
I think you're absolutely right. But it is always dangerous to generalize.

At the Thailand Aikido Association (Aikikai) for example, we insist so much on the basics that we would make Yoshinkan and Yoseikan guys envious ;)

I hear the word basics so many times every day that I get nightmares about it :D

I'm sure we're not alone.

Obviously, you have to learn how to walk before you can run. For some children, they start their first steps by running because it seems easier than walking (speed helps keeping the balance and everything...), untill they fall and break their face....

Cheers,
Edward

guest1234
02-16-2002, 05:38 AM
I think all styles insist on 'the basics'...the difference lies in what each style or sensei considers 'basic'. And each in their own way is right.

My first sensei combined Yoshinkai and Aikikai. There, basic was ukemi that could stand up to anything he wanted to demo, and precise placement of one's feet during a technique (if you did nothing else, you watched his feet!). At an Iwama dojo I visited, it was doing a technique from a static start against tons of muscle. At another dojo, it was understanding weight underside/ keep one-point/extend KI etc...

Since, as far as I know, O Sensei did not leave a written list of basics, I prefer to think that each sensei and shihan is correct, that all of these things are basic. Which ones they emphasize may come from their own personalities, or from what O Sensei emphasized on them, perhaps even from how they themselves took ukemi or what he felt they needed in their personal lives.

So I don't worry too much that any style is 'missing' the basics. What one may teach early, another may teach later, at the end they are not as different as they are often said to be. Obviously, it works for those who are learning in each style. Who do I think would better know O Sensei's beliefs in this matter: the students there with him when he first developed Aikido? With him at the end? His own son? The student he promoted higher than any other? Maybe each, in his own way, along with all the other students. Like any good sensei today, he probably taught each student in the way suited to him/her. There are those who can only learn step-by-step. Those who only believe if they resist sensei with all their might. Those who are sensitive in their movements, those who get hit in the face a half dozen times before they think to move.

Kenn
02-16-2002, 09:25 AM
Colleen,
Once again I am impressed with your view of the world of Aikido. I couldn't have put it any better.

Nothing more be said.

Peace, Kenn

erikmenzel
02-16-2002, 10:14 AM
Comparing Aikido now and Aikido as done by O'sensei is for many a difficult point. Maybe it is wise to first explore the goals in aikido, next the methods and finally come back to comparing Aikido now with Aikido done as by O'sensei.

The goal of aikido is to train and find Aiki through the extensive training and study of budo.

The methods in which this is done may vary from place to place and from style to style. Often this is represented in believes within these styles that the training of basics (basic forms and basic techniques, however they may be described) is necesary and will lead to the above mentioned goal. Yet the basics of one style may be completely different from the basics from another style. Some difference may easily be traced back to some simple differences in the implementation in the teaching form as where other differenes may reflect different views in the teaching method. Some basic ideas found within different styles that can be described are:

Learning principle will automaticly follow from learning form.
It is possible to learn principle independent of form.
There are no shortcuts in learning Aikido, so to reach the level of O'sensei you need to train as O'sensei.
There is an easy trick that opens up Aiki.
The level skill of O'sensei is currently not present anywhere in Aikido.
There are nowadays people of more skill than O'sensei.
All you need is physical training.

Probably there are much more, maybe to many to enumerate anyway.

So how do these methodes reflect the goal? Simple, quite often they don't. The method is all to often transfered into the rule, standard and goal, meaning that one lost sight of the original goal of Aikido. This is all to often clear through the conflicts and disagreements between style and organiations.
This also means that a lot of organisations and styles have proven themselves to be irresponsible trustee's for the legacy of O'sensei.

Does this mean that one should come to the conclusion that aikido is lost? No, most certainly not. Many people train with the right intention, with the right goal. Still these people often have a difficult way to go, maintaining their own faith, to trust theirselfs or teacher in a situation where the rest of the world says they are wrong is not easy. Still, hopefully enough will manage!

Sid
02-16-2002, 11:52 AM
Ok, noone is getting what I am saying :)

My point is, or was, that aikido's softness *itself* was the final product of O-sensei's training, an advanced thing in itself.

Colleen, I admire your articulateness - I always enjoy reading your posts ;)

Sid

PeterPhilippson
02-16-2002, 12:23 PM
Originally posted by Sid
Ok, noone is getting what I am saying :)

My point is, or was, that aikido's softness *itself* was the final product of O-sensei's training, an advanced thing in itself.

Sid

I want to teach a mixture of soft and hard, movement and static, at all levels, as I learned from my teachers.

If I teach only hard static techniques at the beginning, the techniques are learned disjointed. If I teach only flowing techniques later, students are lost if someone grabs them faster than they can flow. None of us are immune from this!

It is a good general teaching method to stretch students beyond what they can fully comprehend at times, and also to go back to first steps at other times.

Best wishes,

Peter

PeterR
02-16-2002, 01:19 PM
This was discussed many times under many different guises.

There are dojos out there (you know who you are ;)) where the emphasis on flow is so dominant that they are blind to the underlying poor technique. It doesn't help that uke throws himself into ukemi even before nage has had a chance to do something. The legendary aiki-dance complete with atemi flourishes.

The static aikido seen with Iwama and others (Osaka Aikikai for example), the kata of Shodokan and Yoshinkan are all specifically designed to teach mechanics. All of these styles introduce fluidity of movement (some sooner than others) but at the core, as it was with Ueshiba M. himself, is a working Aikido. I would say that a powerful fluid Aikido is the goal in all these cases.

In my opinion you don't have to follow the same footsteps of Ueshiba M. to develope your Aikido but at the same time you can not hope to do so by jumping to where he was at his peak.

As an aside - why anyone would want to emulate Ueshiba M.'s Aikido at the very end is beyond me. Age and infirmity did take their toll.

Chris Li
02-16-2002, 04:38 PM
Originally posted by Sid
But in aikido, rather than emulating O-senseis basics, we, unless we are yoshinkan-ka or yoseikan-ka, emulate his aikido when it was at its most advanced ?when it was all soft and flowing ?without going through the basics of training that he did, the training that let?him arrive at his level of proficiency.

FWIW, I posted my opinion to the same question on Aikido-L. If anybody's interested it was:

So far as I can tell, M. Ueshiba never went through the "basics of training". Sokaku Takeda's style seems to have been to toss you around a lot and then you'd either get it or you wouldn't. He wouldn't actually teach you anything, much less put you through the kind of basic drills that exist in Yoshinkan. As I understand it, one of the reasons that Gozo Shioda developed that kind of teaching method was that the old way was so difficult.

(*thinking about it more later, the drills at the Yoshinkan were developed mostly by Shioda's students)

In answer to another comment in this thread (As an aside - why anyone would want to emulate Ueshiba M.'s Aikido at the very end is beyond me. Age and infirmity did take their toll. ), I have to note that all of the people who are considered Sokaku Takeda's top students (Ueshiba, Sagawa, Horikawa, Hisa, etc.) trained with him in his 60's and 70's, but they seemed to do OK :) .

Best,

Chris

guest1234
02-16-2002, 04:51 PM
:confused: Yeah, I'd probably 'settle' for O Sensei's old and feeble skills vs mine... but then, I'm old and feeble.

Not that that stops me from trying to be like my current Aiki idol, who is twice my size and probably five times my strength :D ...we laugh that the teacher who is most not my build is the one who's classes I never miss. Ah, hope is an amazing thing... and I've never had an abundance of common sense.

guest1234
02-16-2002, 05:03 PM
In fact, --- Sensei is a good example I think of my theory on how 'basics' get started: if I were going to teach others based on what he does with me, I'd be saying hamni handachi is the basic key to training, as he very often uses that when helping me. But I think it is just so I can feel what I must do to my partner, who will be as tall to me standing as I am to him in hanmi handachi:D .

Peter Goldsbury
02-16-2002, 06:08 PM
Originally posted by Sid
Ok, noone is getting what I am saying :)

My point is, or was, that aikido's softness *itself* was the final product of O-sensei's training, an advanced thing in itself.

Colleen, I admire your articulateness - I always enjoy reading your posts ;)

Sid

Mr Dagore,

So do I. I have a question to ask you, but first, an observation.

Currently, the aikido teacher on whom I am focusing most in my own training is Arikawa Sadateru Sensei, who studied with the Founder in Iwama and the Tokyo Hombu. He entered the Hombu around 1949 and so trained with the Founder for the last 20 years of the latter's life. Most people would never call Arikawa Sensei's aikido 'soft and flowing', but it is. It is not soft and flowing in the way that Kisshomaru Ueshiba's is thought to be, but there is still the same dynamic 'blending of ki', for want of a better term, that you could see in the aikido of, e.g., Kisaburo Osawa, M. Hikitsuchi and S Yamaguchi. The icing on the cake with Arikawa Sensei is that you still get atemi by the truckload and some very interesting henka-waza, which owe a lot to Daito-ryu AJ. Thus, my own feeling is that progression from 'hard' to 'soft' is too simple a way of looking at the matter. Your initial post compared aikido with karate and suggested that both followed basically a linear learning process, from basic to advanced, from hard to soft. But there is also the undoubted fact that for some teachers the process is, like Kisshomaru's aikido, circular or cyclic.

And now to the question. Many aikido teachers (examples: S Okumura, K Chiba) have described their own practice in terms of 'shu' - 'ha' - 'ri'. I assume you are familiar with this group of concepts and ask how you would equate these wih your original observations on 'hard' vs. 'soft'.

Sincerely,

guest1234
02-16-2002, 10:22 PM
OK, I will be happy to admit to being clueless, Goldsbury Sensei (or do you prefer Prof. Goldsbury?). What are shu, ha, and ri?:confused: Unless, of course, this is the topic of your class at the Expo (I hate hearing how a movie ends before I see it:disgust: )

Peter Goldsbury
02-17-2002, 07:41 AM
Colleen,

Something very odd has happened to my last post.

I typed it, posted it, and then loked at what I had written. The Japanese kanji was odd and so I reset the laguage settings in my Explorer software. None of the settings produced the proper results and now I see that half of my post has disappeared. I have typed my post directly, so I have no back-up. Have you read all of it?

I think something has happened at Jun's end.

Peter Goldsbury
02-17-2002, 07:55 AM
Since the post as it appeared totally changed the meaning of what I wanted to say, I have deleted it. I will consider posting again when I have found out from Jun Aliyama what happened.

guest1234
02-17-2002, 08:00 AM
Rats, I missed it...well, I can wait (a chance to work on patience, perhaps my irimi nage will improve:) )... the kanji just looks like boxes and squiggles on my screen, anyway...

PeterR
02-17-2002, 11:16 AM
Originally posted by Chris Li

In answer to another comment in this thread (As an aside - why anyone would want to emulate Ueshiba M.'s Aikido at the very end is beyond me. Age and infirmity did take their toll. ), I have to note that all of the people who are considered Sokaku Takeda's top students (Ueshiba, Sagawa, Horikawa, Hisa, etc.) trained with him in his 60's and 70's, but they seemed to do OK :) .

Point taken Chris but what I doubt they were trying to emulate Takeda in his dotage either (not sure when Takeda entered his dotage). There is a big difference between learning from a man and trying to be JUST like him.

Don't know about Takeda but when Ueshiba was very old most of the teaching was done by people much more young and vigorous who were of course taught by Ueshiba M. when he was much more young and vigorous. There were lots of good examples to follow.

Chris Li
02-17-2002, 02:52 PM
Originally posted by PeterR
Point taken Chris but what I doubt they were trying to emulate Takeda in his dotage either (not sure when Takeda entered his dotage). There is a big difference between learning from a man and trying to be JUST like him.

He seems to have been pretty ferocious up to the end, so I'm not sure he EVER entered his dotage :) . Still he was fairly old when all the folks that we're familiar with trained with him.


Don't know about Takeda but when Ueshiba was very old most of the teaching was done by people much more young and vigorous who were of course taught by Ueshiba M. when he was much more young and vigorous. There were lots of good examples to follow.

Takeda's situation was different because he never had a dojo. Most of the folks that learned from him learned one on one or in seminar fashion, picked up what they could and then trained on their own. Not too many other examples to follow.

Of course Yukiyoshi Sagawa, who may have been Takeda's most advanced student, claims not to have developed his unique method of Aiki until he was in his late 70's...

Best,

Chris

PeterR
02-17-2002, 03:24 PM
Hi Chris;

Reading back I can see how my post could be taken a little different than what I intended. The whole thread was about the viability of taking shortcuts to what Ueshiba M. developed from his experience.

First a quick question - how old was Takeda when Ueshiba first started training with him?

Let me state clearly that I do not think a teacher has to be in his physical prime to impart technique. However, what a student has to do is learn what the teacher is teaching not just copy technique.

There is for example a video of Tomiki and Ohba both fairly advanced in age going through the Koryu Goshin no Kata. Its done slowly and are far cry from the way they expected of those much younger. There is a lot you can learn from watching this video, but if you copy the actions exactly you have learned nothing.

With respect to Ueshiba M. I meant the exact same thing. Emulating the movements of the "end game" Ueshiba is not going to give you his Aikido. Conversely there are descriptions of Ueshiba M. in the early days where his lack of fluidity is noted. I guess you have to pick your time carefully or take lessons throughout.

Chris Li
02-17-2002, 04:14 PM
Originally posted by PeterR
First a quick question - how old was Takeda when Ueshiba first started training with him?


Hmm, 66, IIRC.

Originally posted by PeterR
There is for example a video of Tomiki and Ohba both fairly advanced in age going through the Koryu Goshin no Kata. Its done slowly and are far cry from the way they expected of those much younger. There is a lot you can learn from watching this video, but if you copy the actions exactly you have learned nothing.

With respect to Ueshiba M. I meant the exact same thing. Emulating the movements of the "end game" Ueshiba is not going to give you his Aikido. Conversely there are descriptions of Ueshiba M. in the early days where his lack of fluidity is noted. I guess you have to pick your time carefully or take lessons throughout.

With Sokaku Takeda's approach, and also (from what I understand) Morihei Ueshiba's approach it was more or less impossible to copy the actions exactly because they never taught in a kata-like fashion.

I think that if you're looking for something athletic in approach then the older guys are probably not the place to look. On the other hand, a younger person probably doesn't need much help being athletic, so it may be better to train under someone subtler when you're young. That doesn't mean that you don't train hard, of course, some of the oldest teachers I know have some of the most vigorous students.

Best,

Chris

PeterR
02-17-2002, 05:00 PM
Shu Ha Ri has been discussed and described several times on this forum most recently in General: Dynamic Tension

Peter G. would probably give a much more complete description especially in context of his post but generally.

Shu - learning the form
Ha - breaking the form
Ri - making the art your own.

The principle occurs through much of Japanese learning and is usually tied in with kata training of everything from calligraphy, flower arranging and the martial arts.

It has it's roots in Confucian learning - probably further back than that. You learned to read and write Chinese by copying text followed by your teacher telling you what it meant. Eventually you were allowed to progress beyond Shu and eventually ....

Originally posted by ca
OK, I will be happy to admit to being clueless, Goldsbury Sensei (or do you prefer Prof. Goldsbury?). What are shu, ha, and ri?:confused: Unless, of course, this is the topic of your class at the Expo (I hate hearing how a movie ends before I see it:disgust: )

Dean H.
02-17-2002, 07:08 PM
Originally posted by Sid
Hey all,

I was wondering about something- not that I am not trying to put down aikido, so dont bite my head off. Do you think that we aikidoka are focusing on the wrong element of O-senseis teachings?

Let me explain with an analogy. In any other martial art I can think of, the student learns the basics first, and after that, he progresses onto more advanced techniques. Like in karate, you dont learn advanced kata until you know the basic ones, or in something closer to home, like in tai chi, you dont do an advanced level of the form until you have mastered the basics. Even if you learnt the physical movements of the advanced form, without the basic understanding of tai chi, you would have no idea of whats going on internally tai chi is after all an internal art. (Note: not an excuse to start a ki-war ;) )Ok so far?

But in aikido, rather than emulating O-senseis basics, we, unless we are yoshinkan-ka or yoseikan-ka, emulate his aikido when it was at its most advanced when it was all soft and flowing without going through the basics of training that he did, the training that let him arrive at his level of proficiency.

Thus, my question is two-fold :

1) Are these harder basics necessary to the practice of aikido, particularly martially effective aikido?
2) Are we focusing not on the how of O-sensei, in other words, how he got to the level of skill that he did, but on the what, in other words, what everyone saw him doing at his most advanced level, without doing basic training?

Thanks,
Sid :

I know very little about Aikido, but I am grateful to my Yoshinkan instructor for teaching me some basics as well as encouraging
me to think of possibilities.
As I am not a teacher and will never be at O'Sensei's level, I must admit that I marvel
at such a fluid, even detached, performance by the masters. For now, I take what little
I know and apply it, regardless of my goals,
in a confrontational manner, acted out to extremes.

Thank you everyone,
Dean

Peter Goldsbury
02-17-2002, 10:15 PM
Colleen,

I have finally managed to write the post on another computer. Peter Rehse has given the bones of the explanation in his post. Here is a little more flesh and muscle. I would add to Peter's observations that it is a Japanese concept. It might have its roots in Chinese thought, but the Japanese friend from the Aikikai Hombu I consulted recently thought it was Japanese. One must remember that the Confucianism from China was moulded into a Japanese intellectual system by the likes of Hayashi Razan in the Tokugawa Era

The best place to find an explanation of shu - ha - ri is an interview by Kazuo Chiba Shihan in Aikido Journal #102 (1995), pp. 15-16. I have summarized some of what Chiba Sensei states below.

Shu - Ha - Ri is a Japanese concept of physical, mental and spiritual development which can be applied to gei | (arts) as well as do (Ways) such as budo. Thus, noh drama, kabuki, calligraphy, painting, flower arranging, even the arts of the geisha |, can all be explained in terms of shu - ha -ri. The assumption, and it is a very large assumption, perhaps difficult for westerners to conceive, is a close vertical relationship between master and disciple. However, I would certainly suggest that the pattern was visible in the Founder's own development, in his relationship with Sokaku Takeda, and a few disciples of the Founder, such as S Okumura and K Chiba, have explained development in budo in these terms.

First, the Chinese ON reading, the kanji, followed by the hiragana and kun reading (a verb in all cases), and the meaning:

SHU @@܂ mamoru: to protect, maintain, observe (rules or forms);
HA j@́@Ԃ yaburu: to break, tear down;
RI @@͂Ȃ hanareru: to separate, part from, release

In the shu stage, the task is to absorb what the teacher has to offer and remain absolutely obedient. Self-assertion, creativity and independent ideas are forbidden during these years, however long it takes. The student is attempting to absorb the teacher's art in its entirety. But it still remains the teacher's art. In some sense, this stage is a negation of one's own ambitions and desires.

In the ha stage, the task is to break free of what has been learned. This stage is one of creativity and affirmation of the self. The student reviews what has been learned in the first stage and selects and digests what is needed to create something personal. But this not itself the end, for this stage is really the opposite pole of the dialectic: it is relative to what has been broken away from and torn down.

The ri stage is in some sense a negation of the affirmation of the ha stage. The students breaks out of the relativity and completes the creation of something and complete for the student.

In terms of technique, shu is the time for acquiring technical mastery, in which the student goes through the technical repertoire of the art. Ha is a time for research and application of the techniques of the art. Ri is the creation of something unique and personal.

In mental or spiritual terms, shu is negation of the self; ha is affirmation of the self; ri is transcendence and release from focus on specifics.

I think this is a very powerful paradigm for explaining progress in a budo and illuminates many aspects. For example, one creates one's own art. Practice is not merely a slavish copying of the teacher's art, even though this latter is a vital part of the process. Thus is makes no sense to focus entirely on discovering or practising O Sensei's aikido. Again, the distinction between 'hard' and 'soft' training can be put in a proper context. Finally, the development is not strictly linear and most certainly is not to be identified with passing from 'basic' to 'advanced' techniques (which is merely part of the shu stage).

Oh and I have no intention of explaining any of this at Aiki Expo.

PS. I have read the thread on dynamic tension and I think that Chiba Sensei's explanation in AJ is somewhat different. In particular, he did not envisage SHU has mastery of a particular form, e.g., shihonage. Rather, SHU is mastery of the entire technical repertoire and covers, in my opinion what Saito Sensei understands by hard, soft and ki-no-nagare. All of this should be mastered at the SHU stage, which can last for several years.

guest1234
02-17-2002, 11:35 PM
Thank you! Very interesting... Another question, if you can stand one more:rolleyes: ...

I can see how reading/speaking Japanese would really help in studing this, but I'm limited to 'Hello', 'Goodbye', and 'professor, is that your umbrella?' for the time being:D, so is there a book or two you'd recommend (English or Russian only please)on the forming of that intellectual system you refer to in your first paragraph? I know it is not addressing the original shu-ha-ri but rather the transition of philosophy, but my mind is easily side-tracked onto interesting subjects when someone dangles them in my view:confused: ...

shihonage
02-18-2002, 12:51 AM
Originally posted by ca
Thank you! Very interesting... Another question, if you can stand one more:rolleyes: ...

I can see how reading/speaking Japanese would really help in studing this, but I'm limited to 'Hello', 'Goodbye', and 'professor, is that your umbrella?' for the time being:D, so is there a book or two you'd recommend (English or Russian only please)on the forming of that intellectual system you refer to in your first paragraph? I know it is not addressing the original shu-ha-ri but rather the transition of philosophy, but my mind is easily side-tracked onto interesting subjects when someone dangles them in my view:confused: ...

Privet, Poka, Gde vash zontik, professor ?

Peter Goldsbury
02-18-2002, 01:07 AM
Colleen,

A footnote to my last post and an answer to your question.

After I made my last post I happened to discuss the matter with a Japanese colleague named Aoki whose special field is Japanese aesthetics.

According to Aoki-san, Shu - ha - ri is clearly of Chinese origin, but it is not clear to him how the Chinese originally used the concepts. He immmediately cited kenjutsu and @ǂ@shodoh (calligraphy), especially calligraphy - the writing of Chinese characters - where these concepts came into play. With the rise of Buddhism, there arose a need to read and transcribe Chinese texts and this meant acquiring a knowledge of how to write the characters. We are now talking about Nara and Heian periods here. The systemised sword arts came a little later in late Heian and Muromachi.

But the concepts can be applied to any open-ended learning process which is construed as an Art or Way and which consists in making the substance and form of the art one's own.

As for the question about the intellectual system, I have recently read Marius Jansen's "The Making of Modern Japan". It is long and magisterial, but there are some very good chapters. Basically, Jansen starts with the Togugawa Period and works his way through to the present day. It is broad in scope and suffers somewhat from lack of depth in some parts. But the chapters on intellectual history are good. There is also Masao Maruyama, "Studies in the Intellectual History of Tokugawa Japan", Herbert Ooms' "Tokugawa Ideology: Early Constructs"; and Carol Gluck's "Japans Modern Myths", all serious scholarly works assuming some basic background knowledge of the subject. J. Brownlee's "Japanese Historians and the National Myths" is also very interesting.

If you want precise details of publishers ISBN etc, send me a private e-mail.

PS. to Shihonage. Russian is Colleen's speciality, not mine.

Regards,

guest1234
02-18-2002, 07:14 AM
Shihonage...Whoa...it looks funny in the Roman alphabet. And since I have been told I have a Polish accent, this may be difficult on your 'ears': Da, a ya ne gavaroo paruski ochen harasho---m'ne noozhna praktika :( --- shto 'privet'...ya znioo (really can't think of how to write THAT) 'zdravstveta'...never thought I'd miss Cyrillic keys...

On a more serious note, thanks to you again, Prof Goldsbury...I'll let you know if I have trouble finding them:D Oh boy, oh boy, a trip to the bookstore...

guest1234
02-18-2002, 07:20 AM
Oh, and Shihonage was just repeating the three phrases I have learned in Japanese (Hello, goodbye, and where's your umbrella, professor (although the J. phrase I learned is is that your umbrella...)

Mike Haber
02-18-2002, 09:49 AM
Originally posted by Chris Li


Hmm, 66, IIRC.





Chris,

I believe Takeda was born in either 1859 or 1860 and Ueshiba began training with him in Hokkaido in 1915, so I believe if my math is correct that Takeda would have been 55 or 56.

Chris Li
02-18-2002, 02:51 PM
Originally posted by Mike Haber


Chris,

I believe Takeda was born in either 1859 or 1860 and Ueshiba began training with him in Hokkaido in 1915, so I believe if my math is correct that Takeda would have been 55 or 56.

Actually, that's correct, now that I check it.

Best,

Chris

jimvance
02-19-2002, 11:11 AM
Originally posted by Prof. Goldbury
I have read the thread on dynamic tension and I think that Chiba Sensei's explanation in AJ is somewhat different. In particular, he did not envisage SHU has mastery of a particular form, e.g., shihonage. Rather, SHU is mastery of the entire technical repertoire and covers, in my opinion what Saito Sensei understands by hard, soft and ki-no-nagare. All of this should be mastered at the SHU stage, which can last for several years.
Gosh, I haven't been paying attention the last couple of days. There is a lot more going on in these few sentences than is recognized at first glance.
I have a hard time believing SHU is mastery of the entire repertoire, what then would be the motivation to move on to HA and RI? The concept of Kata is what we are really talking about here; there is a deviation between Chiba's view (kata as object) and Saito's view (kata as process). I believe SHU-HA-RI is addressing kata as "process"; how does this sit with Chiba's point of view? (I don't have his article, though I think I read it once about five or six years ago; I remember a photo of Chiba on the cover doing ude osae.) Could you please elaborate on this?
I am actually researching kata within an educational/psychological paradigm and trying to support a hypothesis. My whole take on this thread was that Ueshiba Sensei did not know how to teach kata, and that he was trying to change the Japanese mentality towards kata with Aikido. Speculation, as it is....

Jim Vance

shihonage
02-19-2002, 11:36 AM
Originally posted by ca
Shihonage...Whoa...it looks funny in the Roman alphabet. And since I have been told I have a Polish accent, this may be difficult on your 'ears': Da, a ya ne gavaroo paruski ochen harasho---m'ne noozhna praktika :( --- shto 'privet'...ya znioo (really can't think of how to write THAT) 'zdravstveta'...never thought I'd miss Cyrillic keys...


That's very good :)
Pretty close to the way it's supposed to sound.
Technically you CAN write cyrillics in Latin alphabet... to a degree.

3gPABCTByuTE, nPOo|oECCOP, 6b|CTPEE, BAw nOE3g yXoguT... blah blah blah

John Brinsley
02-19-2002, 01:00 PM
I would suggest to anyone interested in following up on Mr. Goldsbury's excellent summation of Shu Ha Ri as expressed by Chiba sensei to go to www.aikidoonline.com, click on the archives section (upper left, i believe), and select Chiba sensei's essay on the very subject. It integrates his views on Shu Ha Ri with those on Shoshin and kata. It is powerful and considerate, not unlike Chiba sensei himself. And at the end the essay hints at the responsibilities he believe those who practice aikido in the U.S. must shoulder if it is to remain vital.

John Brinsley

guest1234
02-19-2002, 05:09 PM
I wish I could pull up the article, but my computer is refusing right now...but on the question of Shu-Ha-Ri, this is the chord it struck with me when I read Prof Goldsbury's explanation: since shu is the mastery of technical repertoire, then you wouldn't stop there unless that was all you were looking for, to learn your teacher's Aikido and be a technician. But to see the soul inside the form, you take it apart, and recreate it to give it rebirth, and lend the art imortality. I don't paint, but it sounded to me like what you go through to make the transition from adequate copyist to true artist, to be able to create life in one's paintings. Or how one musician can play a composition technically flawlessly, but it lacks the soul another muscian gives it. But I probably am reading it incorrectly, I tend toward the dramatic:eek: .

cnacubo, Alekce :D

John Brinsley
02-19-2002, 06:18 PM
In addition, those who might want to read a shorter essay on the subject can go to Endo Seishiro Shihan's Saku dojo web site, http://member.nifty.ne.jp/aikido_sakudojo/index.html, click on "Dojo-cho talks" (or some such), and read Endo sensei's views on the subject. For those who read Japanese, you can click over to the Japanese site. Endo sensei's essay is more approachable than Chiba sensei's, if less extensive.



John Brinsley

Peter Goldsbury
02-19-2002, 07:27 PM
Originally posted by jimvance

Gosh, I haven't been paying attention the last couple of days. There is a lot more going on in these few sentences than is recognized at first glance.
I have a hard time believing SHU is mastery of the entire repertoire, what then would be the motivation to move on to HA and RI? The concept of Kata is what we are really talking about here; there is a deviation between Chiba's view (kata as object) and Saito's view (kata as process). I believe SHU-HA-RI is addressing kata as "process"; how does this sit with Chiba's point of view? (I don't have his article, though I think I read it once about five or six years ago; I remember a photo of Chiba on the cover doing ude osae.) Could you please elaborate on this?
I am actually researching kata within an educational/psychological paradigm and trying to support a hypothesis. My whole take on this thread was that Ueshiba Sensei did not know how to teach kata, and that he was trying to change the Japanese mentality towards kata with Aikido. Speculation, as it is....

Jim Vance

Chiba Sensei's exact words in the Aikido Journal article are:

"In terms of technique, shu is a time for technical mastery in which you pass through the bulk of the art's technical repertoire; ha offers an opportunity to research and apply those techniques; ri is the completion of something that is your own" (p.15).

I do not believe there is a deviation between Chiba Sensei's view of kata and other orthodox thinking on the subject. Nor do I believe he thinks of kata as 'object'. I would think kata is best seen as a vehicle (in Buddhism 'upaya' - expedient means) through which a variety of things are achieved and I think this is why kata plays such a fundamental role in Japanese traditional arts.

Having looked again at the two articles John Brinsley kindly suggested, I would suggest that their focus is a little different. Chiba Sensei's thinking must be seen firmly in the context of a fruitful relationship between the disciple and his/her teacher, which he believes is absolutely fundamental to any training in budo. Thus, SHU HA RI is as much a relationship with one's chosen teacher as a relationship with kata, which is more the focus of Endo Shihan's discussion.

And I myself would have a hard time believing that the Founder did not know how to teach kata, steeped as he was in Daito-ryu and traditional Japanese koryu. I think it might have been a positive decision not to do so, rather than an inability to do so. After all, the Iwama years seem to have resulted in the creation of kata forms for bokken and jo (though I do not think the 13 kata and 31 kata were themselves the creation of the Founder). Chiba Sensei's Aikidoonline article is more detailed than the Aikido Journal interview and demands very close study.

Sincerely,

John Brinsley
02-20-2002, 12:04 AM
I would draw your attention to three paragraphs in the Aikido Online article that illustrate Mr. Goldsbury's succinct observations. The first is about the nature of kata as viewed by Chiba sensei (not as object but as process/becoming) and its dynamic involving teacher and student (the need to observe what is being imparted):


Kata has been translated into English as "Form". However form seems to cover only one part of a larger whole, superficially limiting it to the physical appearance of Kata. While form covers only a physical part of the whole, the visible part of the Kata, there is another element that works within, which is invisible in nature. It is internal energy associated with the flow of consciousness (Ki). There are schools to be found in the old record of Budo, describing Kata as the Law of Energy (or Order of Energy). Kata, therefore, does not limit its meaning merely to its physical appearance. This can be taught and transmitted physically with reasonable effort, as it is visible. However, the internal part requires a totally different perspective and an ability to master it. Since it cannot be seen physically, it cannot be taught but must be sensed and felt.

The second two paragraphs empasizes that The Founder clearly did teach kata, but in a revolutionary (Ri) way:

Although the foundation of Aikido training is based on the repetition of Kata, its approach is much freer and more flexible than in the old schools. It can be said that it is Kata beyond Kata. The reason behind this can be found first of all in the positive fact that Aikido draws a wide diversity of people compared to other Budo disciplines. However, on the negative side, this contributes to a superficial overflow of individualism.
The second reason can be found in the fact that the Founder himself repeatedly transformed and changed his art and in particular its physical presentation. These changes were synonymous with his personal development and age. Without doubt, this is one of the reasons we see the different styles of Kata, or different ways of expressing the essence of the art, among his own followers. These students completed their training under the Founder at different periods of his life.


It is important to realize that kata here is not restricted to its use, for example, in karate or bukiwaza as the pre-ordained sequence of techiniques, with or without a partner, but as the "form" of every technique being displayed by the teacher and absorbed by the student.
Sorry for the long post. I've gotten caught up in re-re-reading Chiba sensei's essay, which is quite demanding.

John Brinsley

jimvance
02-20-2002, 11:50 AM
I guess I had to read what Chiba Sensei had to say before making my point, which seems now to look kind of ridiculous. I printed the Aikido Online article and read through it, but I haven't read the Aikido Journal article yet. I will see if it is available anywhere. The website for Endo Sensei was unavailable.
Posted by Brian B.
The second two paragraphs empasizes that The Founder clearly did teach kata, but in a revolutionary (Ri) way.

Posted by Peter G.
And I myself would have a hard time believing that the Founder did not know how to teach kata, steeped as he was in Daito-ryu and traditional Japanese koryu. I think it might have been a positive decision not to do so, rather than an inability to do so
This is what I meant about Ueshiba Sensei attempting to break through the Japanese kata mentality. He was some sort of martial genius, who was immensely interested in the Kojiki and folklore. I don't think he was actually "steeped in traditional Japanese koryu" as much as he imagined he could be the next Kobo Daishi or Minamoto Yoshitsune. Perhaps he was infected by the "pioneer spirit" he felt as a young man in Hokkaido, and with the opening of doors to Western ideas at the end of the 19th century, he used his unique insight into Budo as a method to change the Japanese (kata) mentality from the inside. Aikido may just be one of the first "ikusei" movements in post-Tokugawa Japan that tried to change from within the inherent culture, which is different from the fusion of Western ideals and goals inherent within the founding of Kodokan Judo. Needs more discussion though.

Jim Vance

John Brinsley
02-20-2002, 02:13 PM
Jim,
The link to Endo sensei's site, as I copied it, has a comma at the end which should be removed (sorry bout that). If you do so, you should have no trouble accessing the URL.

John Brinsley

Peter Goldsbury
02-20-2002, 08:57 PM
Originally posted by jimvance
I guess I had to read what Chiba Sensei had to say before making my point, which seems now to look kind of ridiculous. I printed the Aikido Online article and read through it, but I haven't read the Aikido Journal article yet. I will see if it is available anywhere. The website for Endo Sensei was unavailable.

This is what I meant about Ueshiba Sensei attempting to break through the Japanese kata mentality. He was some sort of martial genius, who was immensely interested in the Kojiki and folklore. I don't think he was actually "steeped in traditional Japanese koryu" as much as he imagined he could be the next Kobo Daishi or Minamoto Yoshitsune. Perhaps he was infected by the "pioneer spirit" he felt as a young man in Hokkaido, and with the opening of doors to Western ideas at the end of the 19th century, he used his unique insight into Budo as a method to change the Japanese (kata) mentality from the inside. Aikido may just be one of the first "ikusei" movements in post-Tokugawa Japan that tried to change from within the inherent culture, which is different from the fusion of Western ideals and goals inherent within the founding of Kodokan Judo. Needs more discussion though.

Jim Vance

But if you say Morihei Ueshiba was a "martial genius", then he would obviously have been "steeped in traditional Japanese koryu". This is all there was at the time.

I think a better example of "ikusei" movements in post-Tokugawa Japan would be Sakamoto Ryoma and his colleagues. Like Ueshiba, Sakamoto found school studies unattractive and turned to the martial arts, actually kenjutsu. He was a very junior samurai and had to get permission to leave his han (Tosa in Kyushu). He went to Tokyo and joined one of the famous sword schools. This would have been pure kata training. Sakamoto joined a group which wanted to expel the foreigners and planned to assassinate Katsu Kaishu, who was a leading Bakufu official. Katsu knew his intention and insisted on a discussion before Sakamoto drew his sword. Sakamoto became his disciple and went on to play a central role in the collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu.

Actually, Katsu Kaishu is mentioned by Kenji Tomiki Sensei in the interview recorded in Stanley Pranin's "Modern Masters". Tomiki Sensei is discussing the place of the martial arts in bringing about change in Japan. Tomiki Sensei gives the "Bakufu" view, contained in books like Conrad Totman's "The Collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu", but there is another view: the "han" view, which gives greater prominence to 'hotheads' like Sakamoto Ryoma.

Now Ueshiba was born in 1883, some 16 years after Sakamoto was assassinated. Things had calmed down considerably by that time. I understand that Ueshiba's father had a dojo built on his property and hired in a ken-jutsu teacher to instruct him. Dissatisfied, he went off to Tokyo and, again studied bu-jutsu. He went to Kokkaido as part of a group and encountered Takeda Sokaku. Takeda did not have a dojo and travelled around, teaching kata, for which students had to pay a fee. Ueshiba clearly accepted this and became a deshi in the truest sense.

Now, things become interesting. He was, as youy say, steeped in the legends recorded in the Kojiki and in esoteric Shingon Buddhism, for Koyasan / Kumano, near his birthplace in the Kii peninsula was a centre of this. And at some point he met Onisaburo Deguchi, of Omoto-kyo. Deguchi had an electrifying effect on Ueshiba's 'spirituality', for want of a better word, and it would be a very interesting question to ask to what extent Ueshiba's gradual separation from Takeda, and from Daito-ryu, is related to the influence of Deguchi. By the time of the 2nd Omoto Incident in 1935, he had more or less evolved his own Aiki-budo, as can be sen from "Budo Renshu" and "Budo".

Finally, Ueshiba is alleged to have studied a very large number of martial arts, and these were traditional koryu like kashima shinto-ryu, which would have been taught as kata. I say "alleged" and "studied" because it is not really clear if he actually joined all the ryuha whose arts he studied. Thus, I think his preoccupation with weapons in Iwama from 1942 onwards, is a work of research into riai, the rationale of weapons and taijutsu. But I think it was actually being steeped in koryu that enabled him to break free and create something of his own: a classic case of SHU - HA - RI.

Sorry for the long post. Must stop giving lectures...

Yours sincerely,

jimvance
02-21-2002, 10:41 AM
About giving those lectures, Peter...please continue. This was one reason I find Aikiweb such a wonderful resource. :D
I guess I just don't like the word "steeped"; although Ueshiba Sensei looked into a lot of different schools, (unless I am mistaken) he did not ever receive a license above kyoju dairi. Martial genius may have come from ability and meditative insight (which is what I really respect him for) as much as from contact with other ryuha.
I think this insight is what allowed him to have this spirit of "ikusei" and offer Aikido initially to all comers, and after the war, to the entire world. At first though, I think he was trying to change the Japanese spirit; after he absorbed the madness of a world at war, he adopted a more universal approach. If anything, Onisaburo Deguchi would have encouraged this "paradigm shift" Ueshiba was trying to effect within Japan. Maybe this is why they went to Manchuria, to be more in control of the environment, and experiment with their "radical" ideas. So the SHU-HA-RI of Morihei Ueshiba was more sociological than educational, i.e. his focus encompassed the social and mental boundaries of the time, rather than those established by a particular teacher or school.

Jim Vance

jimvance
02-21-2002, 10:56 AM
I was going to say the info on Ryoma is great, as I have heard many interesting things about him. The Kaishu-Ryoma-Tomiki connection is fortuitous, and I would have had no clue if you would not have brought it to our attention. (Just more for me to read!)

Jim Vance

henry brown
02-22-2002, 11:55 AM
Shu Ha Ri sounds a lot like hegel's dialectic materialism (thesis - anithesis - synthesis)