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Peter Goldsbury
02-17-2009, 10:21 AM
Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 11

INTERLUDE
V: The Danger of Words or,
The Elephant in the Dojo: Distinguishing the Jumbo from the Mumbo
Part 1: Morihei Ueshiba's Elephant

These columns are intended to be the outline of a discursive history of aikido: not a dry narrative of facts, however, but something more like an exploration, perhaps a meandering journey round the aikido version of Kukai's 88-temple circuit in Shikoku. There is, of course, the journey itself, from the start to the destination, but the best journeys are enriched by many pauses to look at the scenery and by diversions off the beaten track to examine places of unusual interest.

The last few columns have discussed the effects of ‘the war' (called, depending on one's viewpoint, the Fifteen Years War [1931-1945], the Second World War [1939-1945], or the Great Pacific War [1941-1945]) on the activities and thinking of Morihei Ueshiba. In terms of narrative history, what still needs to be considered are the effects of the same war on Ueshiba's son and heir, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, especially to what extent he was led to change the future direction of aikido. I myself believe that the war had immense effects on the thinking of Kisshomaru, but I also believe that these effects need to be seen in the general context of ‘early postwar Japan': the overall effects of the war on the thinking and attitudes of the Japanese as a whole. The generation gap plays a role here, also, for I think that Ueshiba Senior and Ueshiba Junior saw the war in quite different terms.

Before we can deal with these questions, however, there is one more major issue relating to Morihei Ueshiba that needs to be discussed. Ueshiba developed the habit of giving long oral discourses, sometimes in the dojo during training, and some of these have been collected and published. These discourses are notoriously difficult to understand and it seems that many of his closest students (who sat in increasingly numbing seiza, waiting for training to resume—or to leap up and take the best ukemi of which they were then capable) understood them hardly at all. Nevertheless, they all went on to become expert at aikido—or so the received wisdom goes. Whether it was actually aikido, or Morihei Ueshiba's aikido, or their own, is still a moot point, but the point to be stressed here is that hardly understanding Ueshiba's discourses was no impediment to their increasing proficiency. We will return to this point a number of times later on.

The topic I would like to discuss here is that of language itself, as applied to aikido. Given that language both shapes the world of the speaker and is also an instrument of communication by that speaker, I think it is necessary to consider Morihei Ueshiba's discourses at this, more basic, level. To see the problems here, we should return to the propositions from which I began this series of columns:

Transmission
(a) Morihei Ueshiba made no attempt to ‘teach' the knowledge and skills he possessed to his deshi.
(b) The latter all gained profound knowledge and skills during their time as deshi, but it is by no means clear that they gained all the knowledge or that all gained the same knowledge.
(c) Morihei Ueshiba appears to have made no specific attempt to check whether his deshi had understood what they had learned from him.

Inheritance
(d) On the other hand, all the evidence indicates that Morihei Ueshiba worried very much about passing on the art to future generations and finally designated his son Kisshomaru Ueshiba as heir and inheritor of the art.
(e) Kisshomaru Ueshiba seems to have changed the inheritance he received quite radically, again, with no clear reaction from his father, such that it has been stated that the aikido taught by him and by his successors nowadays is no longer Morihei Ueshiba's aikido.

I should really add another proposition somewhere, perhaps as a bridge between Transmission and Inheritance:

(c-1) Morihei Ueshiba eventually spent much time talking about what he had created—but in terms that virtually no one understood at the time.

I think there are two major issues here. The first stems from the fact that Morihei Ueshiba began to discourse about his art. We cannot state exactly when, but from the content of the discourses it is very unlikely to have been before he met Onisaburo Deguchi and became a believer in the Omoto religion. There is a certain irony here. In several places Ueshiba, who trained constantly all his life and believed that he continued to progress, stated quite plainly that progress in his art would never come from talking about it—yet he became conspicuous in breaking this rule, to such an extent that the deshi often wondered whether he would ever get down to the ‘real' business of the art and do some waza. The irony is all the more exquisite in that he often broke the rule in discussing the importance of language in aiki training—the crucial value of something called kotodama.

The second issue is consequent on the first. How much attention do we need to pay to these obscure discourses, and how much was the obscurity a factor in the radical changes made by Kisshomaru Ueshiba in his inheritance? Kisshomaru Ueshiba produced a stream of books about the philosophy and practice of aikido—in which kotodama never figures as something of any importance. It is relegated to the background, as something that was part and parcel of his father's private religious practices. Are we to understand Kisshomaru's disregard of kotodama as an evolution of aikido in some way, or was an important baby being swept away with the prewar bathwater?

Of course, since Morihei Ueshiba is no longer around, we have to approach the issue of his language from the other end, so to speak, and look at the language of aikido as the art is practiced and discussed nowadays, especially in discussion forums like AikiWeb. In this respect, it is important to understand how radically the situation has changed, even in the mere half-century since Ueshiba lived and taught. In a typical early postwar dojo, the Sensei was all-powerful, there was not much talking during training, beginners, especially, were seen and not heard, and there were no books. If Sensei did speak, his words had an oracular quality, to be pondered on, but never to be regarded as part and parcel of the general dojo conversation, which could be accepted or discarded at will. Now, we have the great leveler of the Internet, where information and advice, albeit sometimes of very dubious quality, is freely sought and even more freely given, often by those least qualified to give it.

I think that the evidence of the communication, non-communication and miscommunication in Internet discussion forums such as Jun Akiyama's AikiWeb should in any case lead us to consider the general question of aikido and language. Why is it that language is so necessary for aikido that we need to fill acres of Internet space in discussing the art—and in telling each other with great fluency that IHTBF (It has to be felt): that mere words cannot really explain what aikido is? Why does language succeed so much—and also fail so gloriously, when dealing with an art like aikido? Moreover, when we read his discourses, can we consider that Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of the art though he was, was any better at using language to express his thoughts about aikido than we think we are? From a glance at the discourses, it would seem that we he was not, for they appear to be virtually impossible to understand without detailed explanation and commentary. This might seem offensive, but it is not intended to be. I am simply pointing out a fallacy—which is that, since O Sensei was the creator of aikido, he was better at explaining in words what he had created than anyone else.

For reasons of length, I have followed a precedent begun with earlier columns and split this discussion into two parts. The first part is an examination of Morihei Ueshiba's language and style of discourse. I have chosen a few representative texts and present a detailed analysis of these texts. Here I am assuming that Morihei Ueshiba is a language user on the same level as all those who participate in AikiWeb discussions. Of course, there are some differences, but the point I wish to stress here is that Ueshiba had the same problems in expressing himself in his native language as we all do in ours. In the second part, to appear as Column 12, I will broaden the discussion to include issues about language itself, but always in relation to Morihei Ueshiba's own discourses and the contemporary discussions in the AikiWeb forums.

The Language of the Man Himself
When we approach the discourses of Morihei Ueshiba (I use the term discourses to indicate a middle ground between something spoken and something written), another problem arises, which is more difficult to deal with than those sketched in the previous section. This is because to some who practice aikido, O Sensei's words have a special, quasi-biblical, status—they are the aikido equivalent of Holy Writ. The following is one example, from AikiWeb:‘Almost everyone looks to the teaching of O Sensei for guidance in their practice of Aikido.'
If I look back on my own training history, I am certainly one of the exceptions. I never encountered the writings of Morihei Ueshiba until about six years after I had begun training. I was living in the US and saw Kisshomaru Ueshiba's Aikido in a Cambridge bookstore. Having purchased the book, I looked at the aphorisms collected in the last part of the book (pp. 177 -- 181) and was somewhat shocked. The English sayings were devoid of any context and just stood there, on the pages. I acquired another book after coming to Japan, a small volume entitled The Art of Peace. It is a collection of statements, sayings, aphorisms, also totally devoid of any context. I am quite prepared to accept that some may find the book very useful, not to say inspiring, but I myself found the book unsatisfactory and was pleasantly surprised to find corroboration in the AikiWeb forum:‘Well, I'll say it: the emperor has no clothes. Every time I pick up tAoP, I always think how pointless and uninstructive a collection of context-free sound bites it is. Despite the many meanings that people infer into those little nuggets, they really don't say that much—except, perhaps, to those who have already in their minds the message that they're seeking. I don't get literal meaning from them, I don't get figurative meaning from them, and the only "effect" I get is one of annoyance.'
So, it is clear that some contemporary aikido practitioners have given Morihei Ueshiba's discourses a special status, but do they deserve this status and does the alleged status have any effect on how they should be treated? Are they any different from the treasured family heirlooms that we keep in our attics—and put back there after occasional respectful scrutiny?

Since I knew at the time I bought the Aikido volume that Ueshiba was a formidable martial artist, some of the aphorisms made sense. However, all the references to God and the Universe suggested that aikido was a religious activity and this was something that none of my teachers (all of whom had been deshi of O Sensei) had ever even alluded to. In fact, when they taught, they never mentioned Ueshiba's teachings at all. So, even apart from the issues of cultural differences and the adequacy of translation, some of the aphorisms suggested that what Morihei Ueshiba himself was doing when he trained was quite different from what we ourselves were doing.

Many years later, I had learned enough Japanese to have discussions without the aid of a translator and had met and talked to Morihei Ueshiba's son and grandson. Even though Kisshomaru Ueshiba was the author of the book I had bought, he himself suggested that his father's waza were never the same and that his sayings had to be read primarily in relation to his own training and Omoto religious beliefs—which he himself did not particularly share. The important thing was that aikido had changed since O Sensei's time and was still changing: as Doshu, it was the task of Kisshomaru and of his son Moriteru to discern and transmit the essence that remained constant. Clearly there are some issues here, which go right to the heart of understanding what Moriteru Ueshiba was about. Nevertheless, regardless of any ‘political' implications relating to the position of Doshu as the leader of the Aikikai, I received the impression that Morihei Ueshiba was a man of his time and spoke in a certain way. The discourses were relevant for illuminating a certain period in the development of aikido. In any case, everything that we read in English by O Sensei has already undergone a complex process of editing and translation, primarily at the hands of his son, and so we actually encounter him at second or even third hand. Another way of putting this is that we do not encounter what O Sensei actually said, but what one or several people thought he actually said—and I shall go on to show that there are significant differences.

Since acquiring some proficiency in reading Japanese, I made my own acquaintance with Morihei Ueshiba's discourses in the original. It was easy to see that his translators had many problems—and that they coped with these problems as best they could. In my opinion, the best way for an aikido practitioner who believes that Ueshiba's discourses have a special status is not to have blind trust in the translators, but to take the trouble to examine Morihei Ueshiba's language for themselves, carefully and without any preconceptions, first in as a ‘raw' state as possible, and then to look at how it has been translated and adapted for presentation to Japanese and English-speaking readers—and this is what I have attempted here. In previous columns I have quoted Morihei Ueshiba extensively, but the emphasis has always been on what he said, rather than how he said it. In this section I focus as much on his language and style as on the content. It should be noted, therefore, that this column is somewhat different in content from the previous columns. There is much close analysis of written Japanese and this might not be to everyone's taste. To begin with, a few basic remarks about written Japanese will be in order.

[Essential Digression I:
The Writing of Japanese
In any spoken and written language there are four essential components:

(1) Vocabulary, which enables the speaker to make essential cognitive connections with the items in the ‘world';

(2) Grammar, which gives the speaker the structural means to make utterances about the world;

(3) Phonology, which gives the speaker the structural means to relate the grammar and vocabulary to the capabilities of vocal output, in terms of sounds and syllables; and

(4) Script, which enables (1) to (3) to be expressed in written form.

It is clear that (1) changes more frequently and radically than the other three and that (4) is the last item to appear chronologically. There appear to be one or two cases (tribes in remote jungles) where it seems not to have appeared at all. There are also languages where (3) is not fully known, since there are no longer any native speakers.

Very barely and briefly stated, the Japanese grafted on to their existing spoken language [which is the combination of (1), (2), and (3)] the characters—and the way to read the characters—of Chinese. This process began a few centuries after the beginning of the first millennium CE and was intensified at the time when Buddhism made it way from China to Japan via Korea. Since spoken Japanese was not a ‘tone' language, the Chinese readings themselves were ‘re-pronounced' as Japanese. Of course, the Chinese language did not remain static during this process and over a lengthy period the same characters were reintroduced into the Japanese language, but with different readings and meanings. The basic building blocks of the characters themselves were 214 elements or radicals, some of which were complete characters and some of which were parts.

The eventual result was a hybrid system of great complexity, with Chinese characters used for all the components listed above, but which was also undergoing a gradual but continuous process of modification. This latter process was perhaps similar to the development of the alphabet, as used in Hebrew, Greek, Cyrillic, and Latin, except that the development did not go this far. (Note that I am not making any value judgments here: I am not saying, for example, that alphabet systems evolved because they were superior to character-based systems.) If we look again at the four components listed above, we find that in Japanese:

(1) The vocabulary items were eventually all written in Chinese characters, but were read in a modified ‘Chinese' way, as well as in the original ‘Japanese' way. These items were generally read for their meanings, not for their sound, but there were some exceptions, later called ateji, as in 寿司 sushi (the Japanese food), 倶楽部 kurabu (club), 珈琲 kohi (coffee), where the meanings of the individual characters are irrelevant.

The point about deriving sounds as well as meanings from Chinese characters is quite important, for virtually everyone who practices aikido comes to assume that the characters 合, 気, and 道 are read as they are in virtue of their meanings and not of their sounds. In this case it is true, but is not necessarily a general rule. People also go into major mental contortions trying to work out the correct relationship between the three characters and argue that aikido is not an ai that ki's someone's do (as it might seem from the order), but a do that ai's someone's ki, because this is what the three characters actually ‘mean'.

Another issue here is whether the meaning also comes from the internal connections among the characters that make up the compound word, apart from the order in which the characters are written. In the case of珈琲 kohi (coffee), the characters do not have any meaning relevant to the word apart from the sound. Thus 珈ko has to come before 琲hi and it would also be a pointless exercise to argue that the coffee we drink is so named in Japanese because an ornamental hairpin (珈) is attached to a string of pearls (琲: for the evidence, see pp. 728 and 732 of the revised Nelson Chinese character dictionary). With aikido the situation is somewhat different and there is a considerable body of evidence that合気 aiki has a definite meaning, over and above its use in the compound aikido. In fact, Morihei Ueshiba used the term with both meanings (a do of aiki and also a do that ai's someone's ki).

(2) The grammatical distinctions were also picked out by Chinese characters, but these were bereft of their meaning and read for their sound only. They were called manyo-gana (after the earliest collection of poems, called the Man'yoshu [万葉集], where they first appeared). Later, they came to be called okurigana.

(3) The phonological distinctions were covered by the same characters, also read for their sound. These systems are commonly known as syllabaries, but are more specifically systems of moras (a mora音字 onji is a sound unit, as can be seen from the expression of my surname in Japanese: Golds-bury has two syllables in English, but five moras in Japanese: ゴールズベリ / ゴー ル ズ ベ リ). The syllabaries evolved from the manyo-gana Chinese characters to the sound systems of (a) hira-gana, which are whole characters written—originally by women, who were not allowed to use kanji—in an easy, cursive, way and (b) kata-kana, which are parts of whole Chinese characters and were developed by—male—students of Chinese Buddhist texts. There is an overlap here between (2) and (3), since the kana systems are used to depict both grammatical distinctions and phonological aspects of Japanese.

(4) Thus, the Japanese language is written in combinations of four different systems: Chinese characters, hiragana, katakana, and also the Romanized alphabet. The following statement, made by Morihei Ueshiba, is a typical modern example of written Japanese, with kanji, hiragana and katakana all occurring in the same sentence: キリストが「はじめに言葉ありき」といったその言霊が ス であります。
Kirisuto ga "Hajime ni kotoba ariki" to itta sono kotodama ga SU de arimasu.
This word-soul which Christ uttered "In the beginning was the Word" is SU.
In this statement キリスト (Kirisuto = Christ) is written in katakana, as is ス (SU). There are two words written in Chinese characters: 言葉 (kotoba: koto = word + ha/ba = leaves) and 言霊 (kotodama: koto = word + tama/dama = spirit / soul). The remainder of the sentence is written in hiragana, of which some mark grammatical items, such as subjects (が ga), particles (に ni, とto, で de), and tenses (いった itta = uttered). There are two subjects and three verbs in the sentence, the main subject being ‘kotodama'. So, we have:This word-soul (その言霊が: sono kotodama ga)
which Christ uttered (キリストが…といった: Kirisuto ga … to itta)
"In the beginning was the Word" (「はじめに言葉ありき」: hajime ni kotoba ariki, in quotes)
is SU (ス であります: SU de arimasu).
Note that if the original Chinese manyogana characters (and there was a choice of characters) were substituted for the katakana and hiragana, the sentence would be pronounced in the same way, but would be much more difficult to read:機利須止我「波自女仁言葉阿里貴」等怡都太所乃言霊賀 須 代英利万州。
Writing the same sentence in hiragana, きりすとが「はじめにことばありき」といったそのことだまが す であります。
or in katakana, キリストガ「ハジメニコトバアリキ」トイッタソノコトダマガ ス デアリマス。
quite possibly makes it easier to read, but the absence of Chinese characters necessitates that the meaning of the vocabulary items is understood entirely from the context, with no help from the logographic message conveyed by the Chinese characters that are used. In view of the enormous number of homonyms that exist in Japanese, this would make reading very difficult and this, I think, is why Chinese characters have never been banished from the written language.

It is probably not so surprising then, that someone like St Francis Xavier, who was used to the relative simplicities of the alphabet, thought that Japanese writing was invented by the Devil. Those accustomed to the alphabet might well also ponder at the immense rote-learning process expected of every young Japanese entering the Japanese school system, in order to master reading and writing the 5,000-odd characters required for day-to-day written communication in Japanese.
End of Essential Digression I]

Of course, part of the reason why St Francis Xavier believed that written Japanese was the work of the Devil is that he was not well served by his translators, who did the best they could in very difficult circumstances. Since Xavier was one of the first westerners ever to set foot in Japan, there were no translations ready-made to assist him and his interpreters were learning, as much as he was. We shall find that one of the biggest problems in coping with Morihei Ueshiba in Japanese is his style of writing, which the Japanese themselves find as hard to deal with as we do. Do we take him literally, or was he writing in some sort of code, which, if we break, will illuminate everything, especially our own aikido training?

Four Texts
I have chosen four paragraphs that have appeared under the name of Morihei Ueshiba. The first two are taken from the introductions to Budo Renshu (1933) and Budo (1938), respectively. They are virtually identical. The other two, quite different in content and tone from the first two, are taken from Aiki Shinzui (translated into English as The Secret Teachings of Aikido) and Takemusu Aiki. I have reproduced the Japanese text, together with a transcription in italicized Roman script and a translation in bold type. For ease of reference and comparison, I have divided each paragraph into numbered sections.

A: Budo Renshu
This book was privately issued in 1933. The title on the front cover reads: 「合気道開祖植芝守高(盛平)著 武道練習(合気道)」The English version of this, reproduced on the back inside cover, reads: Budo Training in Aikido, written by Moritaka (Morihei) Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido. The book is basically a collection of illustrations of 166 waza. The illustrations are sketches and brief explanations are also appended to each waza. The explanations are preceded by a general explanation of methods of attack. Shigemi Yonekawa, one of Ueshiba's original students at the Kobukan who was uke for the Noma Dojo photographs, stated that one really had to know the waza, in order to understand the drawings, but the fact remains that the book is a record of Morihei Ueshiba's technical ideas about his art, considered as a martial system.

The book was re-issued in 1978 with an English translation made by Larry Bieri, a longtime student at the Aikikai Hombu, and his wife Seiko. The translation was added to a photocopy of the original Japanese text and the result was an elegant hand-sewn, traditional Japanese-style volume. The Japanese text of the technical introduction is immediately followed by the English translation on unnumbered pages. The Japanese text was written by hand, but it is very unlikely that the writer was Morihei Ueshiba himself. One possibility is that the transcription of the text, as well as the creation of the sketches, is the work of Takako Kunigoshi, since all the Japanese I have so far consulted assure me that the handwriting is ‘female' and I have seen enough handwritten Japanese over the years to be convinced that there are differences in the way that boys and girls are taught to write kanji.

This paragraph reproduced below is part of a longer section dealing with attacks from the rear. The section is the last part of a lengthy technical introduction to the waza sketched in the book. The introduction considers aikido (actually, the art was Daito-ryu at the time the book was produced) solely from the viewpoint of the type of attacks that are likely (or were considered likely by Morihei Ueshiba). These, in order, are: strikes to the face; strikes to the neck & shoulder; shoulder grabs; grabs to the collar (from the front); grabbing the wrists; rear waza; grabbing the collar (from the rear). I have chosen the section on attacks from the rear because these are commonly thought to be difficult to do and even to be lacking in sense.

The paragraph reproduced below has three parts. There is a general account (Sections 1 to 3) of dealing with attacks from the rear, which is followed by a discussion (Sections 4 to 8) of the difficulties involved in making such attacks. Finally, there are hints (Sections 9 to 14) on the necessity and frequency of the training required to cope with such attacks.1. 後捕は肉体の魂に五体を具備せる一人格の働をなす様に武術の練習をする。
Ushiro-dori wa nikutai no tamashii ni gotai wo gubi seru ichijingaku no hataraki wo nasu yo ni bujutsu no renshu wo suru.
Ushiro-dori demands that you train yourself in Bujutsu until your body, soul (tamashii) and the five senses work as a single integrated personality.
NOTES:
A. I believe that both translators have produced interpretations rather than strict translations (though the rendering of the Bieris seems to me to be closer to the original). I think one needs to suspect translations that make the translation more ‘reasonable' than the original. Because of our aikido training, we feel we can extrapolate and somehow guess what Ueshiba means—what he's ‘trying to say', but the danger here is that his explanation is then made to sound very ‘reasonable' to contemporary aikido practitioners, used to the verbal culture of western contemporary psychology and to breaking the components of training into ‘bite-sized', easily-learnable portions, and so one should seriously question whether this was really Ueshiba's intention. This is especially important in the case where Ueshiba was writing in a sort of code, using terms that already had a recognized meaning.
B. Japanese uses markers to denote, roughly, topic (wa, は, ハ), subject (ga, が, ガ), object (wo, を,ヲ) and particles (no, の,ノ; ni, に, ニ) and the verb is usually at the end of the clause or sentence.
C. There is an ambiguity in the sentence that is best expressed by the use of commas.
(1) 後捕は肉体の、魂に五体を具備せる一人格の働をなす様に、武術の練習をする。
In terms of grammar & vocabulary, one can split the predicate part of the sentence into several clusters, denoted here by square brackets. Ueshiba asserts that the goal of training is [the hataraki (working or acting)] of [tamashii ni gotai wo gubi seru ichijingaku (the integrated individual, which becomes endowed with five ‘bodies' in the spiritual soul)] in [the nikutai (肉体 physical body)]. Thus the central focus of this interpretation is the working (or transformation) of the physical body, where the goal of bujutsu training in attacks from the rear is to enable the physical body to be transformed, that is, endowed with the spiritual soul and the five ‘bodies', all working in unison. A ‘translation' into modern Japanese would read:後ろ取りをするためには、「魂に五体を伴っている一人格」が動くように「肉体が」動くよう、武術の練習をしなければならない。
Ushiro tori wo suru tame ni wa, [tamashii ni gotai wo tomonatte iru ichijingaku] ga ugokuyouni [nikutai ga] ugokuyo, bujutsu no renshu wo shinakereba naranai.
(2) 後捕は肉体の魂に、五体を具備せる一人格の働をなす様に、武術の練習をする。
As with the first interpretation, in terms of grammar & vocabulary, one can split the predicate part of the sentence into slightly different clusters, again denoted here by square brackets. Ueshiba asserts that the goal of training is [the hataraki (working or acting)] of [gotai wo gubi seru ichijingaku (the integrated individual, who displays / becomes endowed with five ‘bodies')] in [the nikutai no tamashii (魂 soul / spirit of the 肉体 physical body)]. Thus the central focus of this second interpretation is the working of the spiritual soul in the physical body, where the goal of bujutsu training in attacks from the rear is to enable the spiritual soul in physical body to be transformed, by the working of the five ‘bodies', all working in unison. The ‘translation' into modern Japanese would also be slightly different:後ろ取りをするためには、「五体を伴っている一人格」が動くように「肉体の中の魂が」動くよう、武術の練習をしなければならない。
Ushiro tori wo suru tame ni wa, [gotai wo tomonatte iru ichijingaku] ga ugokuyouni [nikutai no naka no tamashii ga] ugokuyo, bujutsu no renshu wo shinakereba naranai.D. So a more direct translation that retains the ambiguity (a translation of the words, as much as the thoughts—see the discussion in the next column on John Locke—largely in the order in which they appear), would be: ‘With respect to attacks from behind, one (subject unstated) does training of bujutsu, in order to bring about the working of one integrated individual endowed with the five "bodies" in the soul of the physical body.' Or, ‘With respect to attacks from behind, the causing to work of the one integrated individual, who is endowed with the five ‘bodies' in the soul of the physical body, is the aim of training in bujutsu.'
E. In other places Ueshiba talks about the goal of training for the sake of 魂 tama and not 魄 haku and we will discuss this in more detail later. It appears that he is using a distinction that was originally Taoist. The point here is that the translation must ensure that the relationship between 魂 tama(shii) and 肉体 nikutai is brought out clearly and not lost.
F. The Bieris translate go-tai (五体) as the five senses, but it has a wider meaning (although the five senses are obviously involved). There are various traditional explanations of the five 体 involved: four limbs plus the head, all working together; or muscle, pulse, flesh, bone, skin; or forehead, both elbows, both knees; or head, arms, torso, legs, heart; or head, neck, chest, hands, feet. The important point of this section, however, is the clear emphasis that every aspect of the individual should be operating in complete integration and unity—which, it needs to be emphasized, is not the usual state. In modern Japanese 五体 is usually translated as ‘whole body' and is contrasted with karada, shintai, nikutai etc. This leads to an important point concerning Japanese kanji, which needs a short digression (really intended for those who are learning Japanese reading skills and are coming to grips for the first time with dictionaries and the ON/kun distinction in reading).

[Essential Digression II:
Reading Japanese Kanji
The fact that Chinese characters are used for reading and writing Japanese imposes a particular discipline on reading and on using dictionaries. Let us take五体 gotai as an example. This is a noun, written as a compound of two separate characters 五 go and 体 tai. There are two ways of finding the meaning of the word.

The first way is to use a general bilingual or monolingual dictionary. Thus, on p. 901 of Kenkyusha's Japanese-English Dictionary, we find the following entry:
"ごたい 【五体】the (whole) body. [⇒ しんたい]
▶ 〜満足 ⇒ごたいまんぞく ▶〜が震えている. He is shaking all over [from head to foot]."
The reference to しんたい shintai yields a much longer entry (p. 1353). Here all the entries define shintai as the body, considered as a physical system, as in: to have a robust constitution; each part of a human body; to be deprived the use of one's limbs.
The reference to ごたいまんぞくgotai manzoku yields examples like, ‘a perfectly healthy baby'; ‘to be born without any physical defects'; ‘I'm in perfectly sound health [sound in wind and limb] so I cannot complain'.
The Japanese Kokugo Daijiten has a slightly different definition (p. 943):
The first definition given is: the five parts of the 身体 shintai, as listed in Section 1 E, above. This yields the general meaning of: 全体 zentai, 全身zenshin, both meaning ‘the whole (physical) body'.

The second way is to use a Chinese character dictionary. Since the revised Nelson dictionary lists all the entries by the first character, we need to start by looking up 五 and searching for the compound 五体. On p. 51, we can find the entry:
"Five component parts of the body; the whole body; five styles of calligraphy".
The Kanji Dictionary by Hadamizky & Spahn (for details, see Reading, at the end of this column) lists all the entries under any of the constituent characters, so the entry for gotai appears in two places: on p. 52, under 五; and on p. 186, under 体. In both places the meaning is the same: ‘the whole body'. Incidentally, the defect with the Hadamitzky & Spahn dictionary is that the way of listing all the entries considerably limits the space for the definitions. However, the advantage is that it allows one to see the whole range of compounds listed under one character. Thus, for the character 体 tai, there are almost five columns, listing all the compounds containing the character 体. In some cases it is possible to see how the meaning of the individual characters ‘blends' to constitute the meaning of the compound; but in many cases this is not possible and the meaning is actually quite different from what one might expect.
In the monolingual character dictionary, 大字源 Dai Jigen, gotai is listed on p. 61, under 五 go. The definitions are almost exactly the same as those given in the Kokugo Daijiten, above, and the older character for tai is also given This is 五體, which Morihei Ueshiba uses in the Budo text.

The discipline imposed on the use of dictionaries by the Japanese writing system makes the looking up of a word extremely complex and time-consuming, especially with someone like O Sensei, who often used the old forms of characters and also made up words, such that the meaning of the compound words has to be guessed from the meaning of the individual characters—usually a very dangerous method of deciding the meaning of a word. The advantage, however, is that one can see clearly both aspects of the writing system. A good monolingual dictionary will enable one to understand the development of a particular Japanese word or concept and the way it has been written in different Chinese characters. For example, tai is the modified Chinese way of reading / pronouncing the character 体 (and would normally be written in capitals, as TAI). The Japanese way of reading the character is からだ karada, but there are several characters that are also read in this way: 体, 身体, 躯, 軀, 躰, 體. Apart from the last one, they all contain 体 and/or身. Similarly, a good character dictionary will enable one to study the Chinese character itself: the origin, the differing meanings, and changing use in different compound words. Of course, this discipline is developed by and goes hand in hand with extensive and intensive reading: of newspapers, magazines, articles, books—including older texts written by people like Morihei Ueshiba.
End of Essential Digression II] 2. 後に對するの精神を敏感に働かすのが目的である。
Ushiro ni taisuru no seishin wo binkan ni hatarakasu no ga mokuteki de aru.
The goal is to use intuition when moving your mind against the rear.
NOTES:
A. The term 精神 seishin is translated here as ‘mind' and敏感 binkan by the more questionable term ‘intuition'. This gives the statement an ‘intellectual' flavor that is lacking in the original. ‘Intuition' is usually rendered by 直覚 (= chokkaku: immediate awareness / experience), whereas 敏 bin is agile, or alert; 感 kan is feeling: the combination generally meaning ‘sensitive' (as in ‘sensitive skin' or being ‘highly strung'). The characters for move 動く and work 働くare quite similar and it might be that Ueshiba regarded them as interchangeable when this text was written. ‘The goal is bringing about activity of the mind / spirit in a sensitive fashion against the rear.' 3. いつ後から捕りに来ても後に目をつけて居て心の窓が全身に開かれ不意の敵襲に逢っても早速後が靈体一致して敏活な働を為さねばならぬ。
Itsu ushiro kara tori ni kitemo ushiro ni me wo tsukete ite kokoro no mado ga zenshin ni hirakare fui no tekishu ni atte mo sassoku ushiro ga reitai icchi shite binkatsuna hataraki wo nasaneba naranu.
Whenever an enemy comes to grab you from the rear, you should open on to your whole body the window of the spirit (Kokoro), which has eyes facing even to the rear. Your back must move instantly and vigorously with soul and body unified in response to the unexpected attack.
NOTES:
A. By comparison with English, the construction seems quite loose. There is a new sentence, but the subject (an enemy) is unstated in the Japanese text and the various phrases and clauses are loosely assembled. The diagonal strokes isolate the various clauses and phrases:
Itsu ushiro kara tori ni kitemo / ushiro ni me wo tsukete ite / kokoro no mado ga zenshin ni hirakare / fui no tekishu ni atte mo / sassoku ushiro ga reitai icchi shite / binkatsuna hataraki wo nasaneba naranu.
B. I hope readers can see the metaphors used here. Ushiro ni me wo tsukete ite kokoro no mado ga zenshin ni hirakare:Open on to your whole body the window of the spirit (Kokoro) which has eyes facing even to the rear. The Bieri translation has reproduced the metaphor almost exactly as the Japanese reads (which will be relevant when we consider Section 14, below). However, there are really two metaphors: ushiro ni me wo tsukete ite, which has the sense of keeping, maintaining, the gaze of the eyes to the rear (compare the English phrase, ‘I have eyes in the back of my head'); and kokoro no mado ga zenshin ni hirakare: ‘the window of the spirit opens to the whole body'. Thus, a more nuanced translation would be: ‘You should constantly keep your eyes focused on the rear and the window of (your) spirit (should) be opened to your whole body.'
C. Whereas ‘having eyes in the back of one's head' is a metaphor that ‘works' in English, ‘opening the window of the spirit / mind on to the whole body is' is less easy to deal with. Stevens (see below) combines both metaphors into one thought: ‘Open the eyes of your heart and the window of your mind', but we will discuss in the next column whether it is really illuminating to talk of hearts having eyes and minds having windows.
D. There is the same emphasis on integration as in the last paragraph. Here, 後 ‘[the/your] back' (that is, the side that immediately faces the attacker) has to act (again the verb is 働く: work, not 動く: move), but here it is a verbal noun, qualified by the adjective 敏活な binkatsuna (similar to 敏速な binsokuna), which has the sense of swiftness and efficiency. This work can come about only if the 靈体一致して reitai icchi shite (the more specified—and Cartesian—modern term is 霊肉一致 reiniku icchi, where niku has the meaning of physical flesh: niku is what one buys in the shops in order to cook a meal): everything that makes up the individual is acting together.
E. The important point here is Morihei Ueshiba understands the attacks quite literally: they are in no way watered down, as they are in some dojos, where the attacker first faces the opponent and then moves round the back. The latter is clearly one way of training, but the overall goal, in Morihei Ueshiba's terms, is complete integration of the person, in the face of an entirely unforeseen attack from the rear. This lack of watering-down also entails that the training required for such attacks is likely to be long and difficult. 4. 後から摑むという事は捕る方でも非常に危険が伴ふものである。
Ushiro kara tsukamu to iu koto wa toruhou demo hijouni kiken ga tomonau mono de aru.
Grabbing from the rear is very dangerous even for the person attacking.
NOTES:
A. Ueshiba now moves on to a very different topic, which might seem surprising for those who believe that aikido is a purely defensive art: the dangers involved in actually attacking from the rear. The crux of the issue here is the interpretation of 捕る方 toru-ho: the person carrying out the toru. Compare this with 捕り方 tori-kata: the way / method of carrying out the toru. 5. それは敵の虚を衝くという事が心に油断を與えるからである。
Sore wa teki no kyo wo tsuku to iu koto ga kokoro ni yudan wo ataeru kara de aru.
This is because in making a ‘surprise' attack, chances are that somewhere his own mind has been left unguarded.
NOTES:
A. The concept ‘his own mind has been left unguarded' is expressed negatively, but in the Japanese text the thought is positive. Ataeru has the sense of causing damage: the kokoro (mind) ataerareta (is affected by—however, the verb is active in the above sentence) yudan (negligence).
B. What does this is the敵の虚を衝く teki no kyo wo tsuku (the enemy's surprise attack).
C. The usual character for tsuku is 突く, familiar in aikido as tsuki = punching, in waza like kote-gaeshi, and this character appears in the Budo text, below. The meaning is ‘strike', or ‘thrust' (usually with a weapon). The character used here (衝く) is clearly intended to include the same sense, but it has the wider sense in modern Japanese of generally clashing or attacking.
D. Note that here Ueshiba is discussing the actual process of attacking and the point he is making is that if the attacker makes some sort of surprise attack, it is possible that there is some sort of negligence in the attack. 6. 故に不意に思はぬ不覺を取ることがある。
Ue ni fui ni omou wa nu fukaku wo torukoto ga aru.
Therefore he may suffer an unexpected defeat.
NOTES:
A. The consequence is clearly stated here. 不覺を取るfukaku wo toru means to suffer a defeat and the particular way of defeat is unexpected—and has not been taken into consideration. 7. 大に注意を要する處である。
Oi-ni chui wo yo suru tokoro de aru.
This point calls for particular care.
NOTES:
A. Ueshiba constantly stresses the importance of regular training, but also of paying attention to important aspects of training. (So it is not simply training, in order to have a good workout, or to feel good about oneself or the universe etc—though this might well be a consequence.) If we bear in mind these sections (Sections 4 to 8) in the way that the Bieris have translated them, attacking from the rear needs constant training just as much as coping with these attacks. The reason is given in the next section. 8. 例へ敵が向ふを向いて居ても己より腕が上の時は敵の体には後に武術の精神が充實してゐるから却って危ない。
Tato-e teki ga mukou wo muite itemo onore yori ude ga ue no toki wa teki no karada niwa ushiro ni bujutsu no seishin ga jujitsu shite iru kara kaette abunai.
Even though your enemy may be facing the other way, if his skill is greater than yours, his body will always be full of the spirit of Bujutsu, even to the rear, and it will be dangerous [for you to attack him].
NOTES:
A. The sentence is composed of the following clauses/phrases (which the Bieri translation usually separates with commas): Tato-e teki ga mukou wo muite itemo / onore yori ude ga ue no toki wa / teki no karada niwa / ushiro ni bujutsu no seishin ga jujitsu shite iru kara / kaette abunai.
B. The sense of mukou wo muite is someone facing the other away (in this case, in relation to the one attacking). This conditional clause thus makes far greater sense if understood from this viewpoint. (Compare this with the Stevens translation below.)
C. Ueshiba them makes a point that is consistent with his whole discussion of attacks from the rear: if (the conditional is more precisely when) the enemy you are attacking is superior in skill to you (onore yori ude ga ue no toki wa), his body will be replete with the mind/spirit of bujutsu directed to the rear (teki no karada ni wa ushiro ni wa bujutsu no seishin ga jujitsu shite iru). In other words, he will ‘have eyes and spirit in the back of his head' and as a result (kara), on the contrary / contrary to what you might expect (kaette), it is dangerous (abunai). 9. 後を捕られた時には左右にかはして直に敵に對す。
Ushiro wo torareta toki ni wa sayu ni kahashite tadachi ni teki ni taisu.
When being grabbed from the rear, turn your body to the right or left and promptly take him on.
NOTES:
A. Ueshiba now turns to discussing how to handle the situation when being attacked.
B. The kanji for kahasu (the modern form is kawasu) can be written in several ways 交わす, or 躱す (where the radical 身 is already part of the character). When the phrase already contains the radical, as here, the verb is sometimes written in hiragana. The central meaning is exchange: doing something in response to something else. It does not simply mean ‘turn'. Thus, one can deflect an attack by turning, as is stated here, or dodge a flying ball or even an awkward question. Thus, Gozo Shioda's classic response to a frontal attack is also an example of kawasu. 10. 己が身をかはす為に敵が倒れる様に練習を積む事が必要である。
Onore ga mi wo kahasu tame ni teki ga taoreru yo ni renshu wo tsumu koto ga hitsuyo de aru.
[To accomplish this] it is necessary to gain training experience until you are able to take him off balance when you turn your body.
NOTES:
A. Again, Ueshiba stresses the importance of training and this is underlined by his use of the verb 積む tsumu, which generally means to pile up, stack, load something on to a vehicle, or accumulate by means of repeated activity. The sense here is of constant and repeated training until the response is completely second nature—in the same way that Ueshiba himself was able to discern the intentions of the attacker. He is definitely not talking about waza here, though he does use the term 術 in the next section.
B. Teki ga taoreru敵が倒れるis translated here as ‘take him off balance' and this is closer to the original meaning than the Stevens translation (see below). The real sense of the Japanese is that you train in order to do whatever is necessary to ensure that the enemy ‘falls'. This might well involve ‘taking his balance'—but does not necessarily involve throwing or executing waza. To see the issues here, consider the Aikido Journal interview with Minoru Inaba, about projecting power, and also the classic way that Gozo Shioda projects ‘power', in such a way that the uke simply bounces off him, as mentioned above. Of course, in some sense Shioda ‘throws' his uke, but in my opinion he responds to his uke's attack—and uke falls, as is stated in this section. The additional element here is that the attacker is behind, not in front, but the dynamics are the same. 11. 即ち靈感を旺盛ならしめる為になす術である。
Sunawachi reikan wo osei narashimeru tame ni nasu sube de aru.
These techniques are done to develop vigorous powers of intuition.
NOTES:
A. Compare this statement with those made in Section 2, above, and Section 13, below. Once again, ‘intuition' is used, this time for 靈感 = reikan (靈 is the older character for 霊 = tamashii soul; the Chinese reading is rei). The usual modern translation for 靈感 is ‘inspiration', as in having a flash of inspiration or a sudden brainwave. I can see the problems faced by the Bieris, but intuition and inspiration have somewhat different connotations in English. For example, in modern Japanese, 霊感商法 reikan shoho is the fraudulent sale of goods or services claimed to bring supernatural benefits to the purchaser. Intuition would not really fit here. More recently, I asked some Japanese friends (none of whom practice aikido) the meaning of reikan & binkan and they all agreed that some people were possessed of reikan to a high degree and others less so. Intuition was a part, but only a part. It was an affinity for the spirit world and could be more, or less, active (= osei), or sensitive (= binkan), on certain occasions.
B. Here I have read 術 as sube, not as jutsu, since I do not think Ueshiba has in mind waza such as shiho-nage. Thus I believe that ‘techniques', as commonly understood in aikido, is a mistranslation. Ueshiba is discussing something much more ‘basic' and difficult to acquire, like a means, way of doing something, or skill. The entire discussion is about an exquisite state of the whole integrated personality that precedes the execution of waza. I think that the closest state to this in Ueshiba's thinking (and experience) would be possession by a deity.
C. The benefits of the sube will be to bring about 旺盛of the 靈感. 旺盛 (osei) is vigor, as in brimming with energy. Another example is, 「出撃を前にわが軍の将兵はきわめて戦意旺盛である。」: Shutsugeki wo mae ni waga gun no shohei wa kiwamete sen'i osei de aru. ‘As they are about to sally forth on a mission, the officers and men of our army have an extremely strong & vigorous fighting spirit.' 12. 人体の後は精神的に武術に働く様に出来てゐる。
Jintai no ushiro wa seishinteki ni bujutsu ni hataraku you ni dekite iru.
The back of a human body is made so as to move spiritually when doing Bujutsu.
NOTES:
A. The way that this statement has been translated makes it somewhat extraordinary, as if one's back has been independently favored by evolution. Compare the use of dekite iru here with the conditional dekitara in Section 14. Here dekite iru is translated to mean that some part of the human body is built or has evolved in a certain way. In Section 14 it is translated to mean that a certain skill can be acquired. Thus, a translation that does not rely so much on evolution might be: ‘With respect to the back of a human body人体の後は, one is capable of acting働く様に出来てゐる mentally / spiritually / from the heart 精神的に in bujutsu.' In other words, bujutsu enables one to act as if one has eyes and feelings in the back of one's head.
B. Thus Ueshiba is expressing the same thought here as he expressed in Section 2 and 3, above, when he talked of ‘causing the mind to act sensitively against the rear', or, ‘You should constantly keep your eyes focused on the rear and the window of (your) spirit (should) open to your whole body'. 13. そこで日々の練習を積んで靈感を益々敏感ならしめねばならぬ。
Soko de hibi no renshu wo tsunde reikan wo masumasu binkan narashime neba naranu.
Therefore, you should train hard every day to make your intuition keener.
NOTES:
A. Compare this statement with that made in Section 2, above. The terms used here are 靈感 reikan, as used above, and 敏感 binkan, as used in Section 2. By means of constant and repeated training, the 靈感reikan (inspiration) becomes progressively 敏感binkan (sensitive). Again, we encounter the less satisfactory term ‘intuition'. 14. 之が出来たら敵が取りに来たら前に進む事に依って敵が倒れる。
Kore ga dekitara teki ga tori ni kitara mae ni susumu koto ni yotte teki ga taoreru.
When this is accomplished, as the enemy comes to grab you from the rear you can defeat him by simply stepping forward.
NOTES:
A. This translation interprets 前 (mae) in terms of distance, not of time. So, in all attacks from the rear, the person attacked defeats the opponent by moving forward. However, I think this is unsatisfactory for a number of reasons. First, the Japanese does not actually state that the attack has already occurred; it states that the enemy comes to take (to make the attack). Secondly, the word susumu already contains the concept of advancing, which could include moving forward, so mae is redundant. Thirdly, moving only forward would limit the range of possibilities open to the person being attacked and Ueshiba has been at pains to stress in the previous sentence—and indeed in all that has gone before—that daily training aims to make one's reikan more and more binkan: to increase the possibilities of unfettered and creative response.

B: Budo
This volume was produced five years after Budo Renshu, in 1938. The number of waza explained has been reduced to fifty, but it is remarkable that the technical introduction is virtually the same as that in Budo Renshu, but with one or two significant additions and emendations. The Japanese original has never been published, but an English translation, made by John Stevens, was first published in 1991. The Japanese text was not reproduced with the translation, so students of Japanese cannot judge the accuracy of the translation by comparing it with the Japanese original, as we will do here.

Reproduced below is the same part of the introduction as in the Budo Renshu volume, above, with the very similar explanation about attacks from behind, together with the Stevens translation (which appears in the book as one paragraph on p. 37). Perceptive readers of Japanese will notice several differences from the Budo Renshu text. The okurigana, which are the endings that indicate grammatical aspects, are written in katakana, some words are written with older Chinese characters (which is curious, since Budo Renshu is supposedly the older text) and more detailed explanations occur in some places. In some places, also, the translation is crucially different. The paragraph has been separated into the same numbered sections, for easier comparison with the Budo Renshu text. 1. 後業ハ大攻撃ノ心身ヲ以テ初メテ敵ノ後ヨリ打チ又切ル事ヲ得、又敵ヲ我ガ思フ儘ニナスヲ得ルモノナリ、然レドモ敵不意ニ後ヨリ立向フ時肉體ノ魂ニ五體ヲ具備セル一人格ノ働 ヲナス様ニ武術ノ練習ヲナシ
Ushiro waza wa dai-kogeki no shinshin wo motte hajimete teki no ushiro yori uchi mata kiru koto wo toku, mata teki wo waga omou mama ni nasu yo eru mono nari, shikaredomo teki fui ni ushiro yori tachimukau toki nikutai no tamashii ni gotai wo gubi seru ichiningaku no hataraki wo nasu yo ni bujutsu no renshu wo nashi
Through the practice of rear techniques, one learns how to prepare one's mind and body against attacks from all directions, beginning with attacks from behind, and how to handle opponents freely, when an opponent unexpectedly appears from behind, all your senses must be alert, allowing you to discern his movements—this is an important part of bujutsu practice
NOTES:
A. Most of the notes on Budo Renshu, above, are also relevant here.
B. The section supposedly deals with後業ushiro waza, rather than 後捕ushiro dori. This is quite a major change and is relevant, in virtue of the central sections of the paragraph, which Stevens translates quite differently from the Bieris.
C. In comparison with the first section of the Budo Renshu extract, this section is much more wide-ranging, with a detailed section inserted before nikutai no tamashii ni gotai wo gubi seru etc. So, if we add commas and periods to the Japanese text, 後業ハ、「大攻撃ノ心身」ヲ以テ初メテ、①敵ノ後ヨリ打チ又切ル事ヲ得、又②敵ヲ我ガ思フ儘ニナスヲ得ルモノナリ。然レドモ敵不意ニ後ヨリ立向フ時、肉體ノ魂ニ五體ヲ具備 セル一人格ノ働ヲナス様ニ武術ノ練習ヲナシ,
we can make a closer translation, which would go something like:With respect to rear techniques, once one has a body-mind focused on all-out attacks, one can (1) strike and cut from the back of the enemy and (2) handle the enemy as one wishes. Nevertheless, when pitted against an unexpected attacker from behind, one should train in such a way that one's body works as if the whole personality is endowed with the soul plus five ‘bodies' / one should train in such a way that the soul of/in the body works as if the whole personality is endowed with five ‘bodies'.
2. 後ニ對スルノ精神ヲ敏感ニ働カスノガ目的デアル、
ushiro ni taisuru no seishin wo binkan ni hatarakasu no ga mokuteki de aru,
the key to rear techniques is immediately to sense the presence of another person behind you,
NOTES:
A. Here Stevens avoids the issue of intuition and the artificialities of ‘placing the mind against the rear', and talks in terms of sensing of the attacker. 3 イツ後カラ捕リニ来テモ後ニ目ヲツケテ居テ心ノ窓ガ全身ニ開カレ不意ノ敵襲ニ逢ツテモ早速後ガ靈體一致シテ敏活ナ働ヲナサネバナラヌ。
Itsu ushiro kara tori ni kitemo ushiro ni me wo tsukete ite kokoro no mado ga zenshin ni hirakare fui no tekishu ni atte mo sassoku ushiro ga reitai icchi shite binkatsuna hatara wo nasaneba naranu.
as soon as the opponent attempts to grab you from the rear, you must open the eyes of your heart and the window of your mind, follow your intuition, and move swiftly and surely to the proper position to counter the attack.
NOTES:
A. Compared with the separate statements in Budo Renshu (1 -- 3), the equivalent statements in the first three sections here are expressed in one long continuous sentence. To show how ungainly this would be in English, I have punctuated the Stevens translation in the same way. Stevens, of course, does not do this, but breaks up the thoughts into complete sentences.4. 後カラ摑ムトイウ事ハ捕ル方モ非常ニ危険ガ伴ウモノデアル。
Ushiro kara tsukamu to iu koto wa toruhou mo hijouni kiken ga tomonau mono de aru.
Attacks from the rear are extremely difficult and dangerous to deal with.
NOTES:
A. If the translation of these few sections (4 to 8) is compared with the equivalents in Budo Renshu, it will be seen that here there is a completely different interpretation. In Budo Renshu, the translation places emphasis on the actual difficulty of attacking someone from the rear, whereas here, the emphasis is firmly placed on responding to attacks from the rear. The Japanese text, however, is identical, except for the okurigana and some older Chinese characters.
B. In this opening statement, John Stevens has actually avoided the issue of whether Ueshiba is discussing attacking or being attacked: both are ‘attacks from the rear' and are ‘difficult and dangerous to deal with'. However, in doing so, he has made a paraphrase, rather than a real translation, and has omitted the awkward phrase 捕ル方toruhou (= the person attacking). 5. ソレハ敵ノ虚ヲ突クトイフ事ガ自己ノ心ニ油断ヲ與ヘルカラデアル
Sore wa teki no kyo wo tsuku to iu koto ga jiko no kokoro ni yudan wo ataeru kara de aru
If you are caught off guard and inattentive to an unseen enemy,
NOTES:
A. The insertion of jiko in the second part of the sentence is special to the Budo text and does not appear in the Budo Renshu text. However, the addition does not radically affect the sense. A translation that is closer to the actual text than Stevens gives would be something like: ‘This (the point of the previous section) situation is when the enemy attacks unexpectedly, and because of this there is negligence affecting one's own mind.' Stevens interprets jiko here to refer to the defender, but the Japanese text really requires that it apply to the attacker.
B. A translation that is closer to the original would be: To make a surprise attack can cause negligence to affect the attacker's own mind. 6. 故ニ不意ニ思ハヌ不覺ヲ取ルコトガアル。
yue ni fui ni omo wa nu fukaku wo torukoto ga aru.
you will be caught unaware.
NOTES:
A. On either interpretation (that of the Bieris or Stevens), the situation leads to an unexpected defeat, due to circumstances that are unforeseen. 7. 大イニ注意ヲ要スル處デアル。
Oini chui wo yo suru tokoro de aru.
It is essential always to exercise care in this regard.
NOTES:
A. On either interpretation this statement would be true and important. 8. 縦へ敵ガ向フヲ向ヒテ居テモ己レヨリヨリ腕ガ上ノ時ハ敵ノ體ニハ後ニ武術ノ精神ガ充實シテヰルカラ却ツテ危なイ。
Tato-e teki ga mukou wo muite itemo onore yori ude ga ue no toki wa teki no karada niwa ushiro ni bujutsu no seishin ga jujitsu shite iru kara kaette abunai.
Even though the opponent is in front initially, if he has a keen bujutsu sense, he will be able to get behind you despite your counter moves, and put you in a precarious position.
NOTES:
A. The translation here appears to rest on a different interpretation of mukou wo muite (facing away from you), being more like mukau wo mukaite (facing towards you).
B. Given this scenario, the danger is in allowing a person of superior skill to move behind you and attack. Why the attacker would choose to do this, when he/she is already in front and thus can attack more easily (always assuming that he/she is superior in skill—which is implied here) is left unexplained.
C. The reference to countermoves does not explicitly appear in the Japanese text. 9. 後ヲ捕ラレタ時ニハ左右前後心ノママニ轉線ヲ悟リ變化シ直チニ敵ニ對ス
Ushiro wo torareta toki ni wa sayu zengo kokoro no mama ni tensen wo satori henka shi tadachi ni teki ni taisu
One must train diligently to develop the enlightened ability to adapt and turn freely to the left, right, front or back in order to avoid and down opponents.
NOTES:
A. Compare this statement with the corresponding statement in Budo Renshu, above. In the former text,Ushiro wo torareta toki ni wa sayu ni kahashite tadachi ni teki ni taisu.
When being grabbed from the rear, turn your body to the right or left and promptly take him on
we have simply sayu ni kahashite (=counter by turning to the left or right). Here we have something more explicit and detailed:sayu zengo kokoro no mama ni tensen wo satori henka shi
enlightened ability to adapt and turn freely to the left, right, front or back
A translation that is closer to the text than Stevens provides would be something like:
When the rear is being attacked (ushiro wo torareta toki ni wa), recognizing & adapting (tensen wo satori henka shi) freely / as one likes (kokoro no mama), to left, right, forwards, backwards (sayu zengo), immediately confront the enemy (tadachi ni teki ni taisu). 10. 己ガ身ヲカハス為ニ敵ガ倒レル様ニ練習ヲ積ム事ガ必要デアル。
onore ga mi wo kahasu tame ni teki ga taoreru yo ni renshu wo tsumu koto ga hitsuyo de aru.
It is essential to train against grabs from the rear.
NOTES:
A. The translation here is really a kind of summary, rather than a strict translation of the text. A closer translation, which follows the order of the Japanese thoughts, would be: By means of you yourself turning your body in response (onore ga mi wo kahasu tame ni) / in order that the enemy will fall (teki ga taoreru yo ni) / it is necessary to put in serious ‘mileage' of training (renshu wo tsumu koto ga hitsuyo de aru). Thus a closer translation, that includes all the thoughts but better fits English word order, would be: It is necessary to accumulate serious ‘mileage' of training, in order that the enemy will fall, by means of you yourself turning your body in response. 11. 即チ靈感ヲ旺盛ナラシメル為メニナス術デアル。
Sunawachi reikan wo osei narashimeru tame ni nasu sube de aru.
Rear techniques are meant to develop one's sixth sense.
NOTES:
A. Develop one's sixth sense is the phrase chosen by Stevens for reikan wo osei narashimeru. Compare the Bieris' ‘vigorous powers of intuition. 12 人體ノ後ハ精神的ニ武術ニ働ク様ニ出来テヰル。
Jintai no ushiro wa seishinteki ni bujutsu ni hataraku yo ni deki te iru.
In this kind of bujutsu we learn to function intuitively.
NOTES:
A. Again, the translation is completely different from the text. 13. ソコデ日々ノ練習ヲ積ンデ靈感ヲマスマス敏感ナラシメネバナラヌ
Soko de hibi no renshu wo tsunde reikan wo masumasu binkan narashimeneba naranu
Everyday, we must drill ourselves in order to develop intuition and swift responses.
NOTES:
A. Again, a translation that keeps more closely to the Japanese would be: By repeated training every day hibi no renshu wo tsunde / in this kind of bujutsu soko de, / we must develop reikan ‘inspiration' that is progressively more binkan ‘sensitive' reikan wo masumasu binkan narashimeneba naranu. Both translations reach the same conclusion, which is the importance of daily training, but mine follows the thought of the Japanese more closely. 14. 是ガ出来タラ敵ガ取リニ来タルモ前ニ進ム事ニ依ツテ敵ガ倒レル。
kore ga dekitara teki ga tori ni kitara mae ni susumu koto ni yotte teki ga taoreru.
If this is mastered, we can handle any opponent as soon as he attempts to grab from behind by proceeding to the front and throwing him.
NOTES:
A. In some respects Stevens seems to realize the issues involved here more than the Bieris. He shows more awareness of moving before the enemy has actually attacked.
B. However, we then have the strange statement of ‘proceeding to the front', as soon as the enemy attempts to grab and I wonder whether the translator was aware of how incoherent this seems. If an enemy attempts to grab from behind, ‘we' are already in front and there seems no point in ‘proceeding' there again. The phrase mirrors the similarly odd, ‘move swiftly and surely to the proper position',in Section 3, which is not explicitly stated in the Japanese original.
C. Taoreru means to fall, not to throw, or cause to fall. Ueshiba's thought is that if we mae ni susumu as soon as the enemy makes the attempt to grab, he/she will fall. This is not at all the same as throwing and in my opinion the translation reveals a preconception about aikido that was not in O Sensei's mind in 1938, or in 1933.

General Comments:
There is the same division into three different topics as in the Budo Renshu volume. The style of Japanese is crisp and clear, the only problem being the long sentences with no apparent grammatical subjects and the nuances of ‘mental' concepts such as reikan, binkan, seishin, kokoro, haku, tamashii. These are quite difficult concepts to deal with in terms of western psychology and so there is the great danger that Ueshiba is translated in such a way as to make him ‘palatable' to western readers.

There are some significant differences. The first section (1 -- 3) has been expanded to include mention of waza and greater stress placed on the importance of ushiro dori as a foundation for dealing with attacks from all directions. Secondly, the middle section (4 -- 8) discusses the difficulties of dealing with such attacks, not of making the attacks. The final comments are also expanded slightly, with greater importance placed on moving in all directions in response to such attacks. The major issue is the middle section (4 -- 8). It is remarkable that exactly the same Japanese original has been translated in such a way that the meaning in the two works is almost directly opposed.

It should be clear that the translation of the Bieris and of Prof Stevens involves making a series of judgments and I have been at pains to consider the kind of issues they faced, the judgments they made, and the alternatives. Those who consider that Morihei Ueshiba's words have the status in aikido of Holy Writ need to remember this. There is a long tradition of translating the Bible over and over again, with each fresh translation gaining—and possibly also losing—something. This has never happened with Morihei Ueshiba, largely because aikido is a relatively recent art and because the publication of his discourses has been tightly controlled. In fact, Prof Stevens has largely had a monopoly of translating Morihei Ueshiba, with the Bieris his only ‘competitors'.

In practical terms, the general impression from these texts is the crucial importance of individual training. Some have said that proficiency in aikido should really take far less time than is commonly assumed (from phrases like, ‘the 20-year technique'). This might be true with respect of waza, but is clearly not true in respect of accumulating training ‘experience', as stated here, in order that one's perceptions and movements become both second nature and also very finely tuned.

It is also of some importance that the precise nature of this training is left unstated and this, of course, makes Ueshiba's statements more open to scrutiny, for another point of note is that 呼吸 kokyu (breathing) is not mentioned once in either of the above paragraphs. Of course, there are many actual ushiro waza sketched and explained in the Budo Renshu text and a general statement at the beginning of the Budo text, but the introduction to theformer text does not discuss waza even once and neither introduction gives any explanation of how to apply specific waza in any particular situation. So it is my belief that the training in question is not restricted to waza. It might well include them, but will also include much more.

The introduction to both volumes, in fact, reflects the actual training methods that Ueshiba himself used, certainly up until 1938 and probably long after. There are those who state that the type of training portrayed in these two volumes is pre-war and that aikido and aikido training changed significantly after the war. I have purposely chosen material dealing with attacks from the rear, in order to point to the limitations of this thinking.

The two texts from Budo Renshu and Budo are examples of technical discussions, but there is some anecdotal evidence that they were actually written, not by Morhei Ueshiba, but by Kenji Tomiki. However, in accordance with common Japanese practice, they have been published under Ueshiba's name and clearly had his endorsement. Of course, if it is true that Tomiki was the author, the inevitable conclusion is that Ueshiba never wrote any technical explanations of his art. With the second pair of texts, we can be sure that Morihei Ueshiba was really the author, but we also enter a completely different world.

C: Aiki Shinzui
This book is a collection of articles that appeared in Aikido and The Aikido Shimbun, the newspapers produced by the Aikikai, as soon as this organization had reestablished itself in Tokyo after the war. The following extract is the first paragraph of a discourse, entitled, 「魂に神習うていく己れの岩戸開き」
Tamashi ni kaminaroute iku onore no iwato biraki
Opening your stone door by listening to the gods,
which is part of a larger general section, entitled, 「合気とは禊である」
Aiki to wa misogi de aru.
Aikido is Purification.
The Japanese text appears on p. 140 of Aiki Shinzui (合気神髄). The English translation is by John Stevens and the text may be found in The Secret Teachings of Aikido. (It is the fourth and fifth paragraph on p. 103, in the chapter entitled, simply, Misogi.)

For me, there are two issues here. One is the value of a translation that does not take any account of the cultural context. The two previous paragraphs from Budo Renshu and Budo consisted of detailed explanations concerning training, of a practical nature—such that they can be examined in a dojo, and the only problem was dealing with terms that are not easily rendered in the rather Cartesian-based vocabulary of English-language psychology, with its rigid dualism of mind and body. However, in the following paragraphs Ueshiba gets to what he thinks is the very heart of his message, for he is talking about essences (shinzui 神髄, as is seen from the title, but not, of course, western ‘philosophical' essences) and telling us how things really are.

This leads to the second issue. Though the Japanese seems more simply constructed than in the previous paragraphs, even when adequate cultural context is supplied, the statements still seem quite starkly bizarre. Ueshiba's deshi did not understand because even they, Japanese native speakers though they were, lacked knowkedge of the cultural context, mainly due to their previous education. It is even more unlikely that we, who are doubly lacking, both in language skills and in a lived knowledge of Japan's ancient culture, will be able to grasp what Ueshiba is saying. Actually, this second issue was recognized quite early on and Ueshiba was told by no less a person than the Zen expert D T Suzuki that his discourses were limited by the thinking in which they were couched.

Of course, the following are merely two paragraphs from lengthy chapters and one could argue that I have taken them out of context. However, this has happened anyway, such that it is very difficult to decide on the correct context. As I stated before in another column, the texts in Aiki Shinzui are separate discourses that later appeared in different issues of the Aikido Shimbun, quite out of sequence, and have been edited under the name of Kisshomaru Ueshiba (they were actually collected, pieced together, and edited by Masatake Fujita, with the aid of recording machinery) to form one group. Stevens has gone a step further and edited the discourses to form separate continuous chapters, so without looking at the Japanese text, it is impossible to see where the separate Aikido Shimbun discourses begin and end. Since the Japanese text is not given, this does not really matter, but I wonder how much the general reader will be able to understand a chapter spattered with italicized phrases like sho chiku bai, odo no kamuzawa (on p. 103: this is actually a misprint for the correct kamuwaza,), ichirei shikon-sangen hachiriki, none of them with any explanation.

[Essential Digression III:
Thus, I myself believe that, as a first step, it is essential to be aware of the background that Morihei Ueshiba takes for granted, so reproduced here are three major items. The first is the summary of the section of the Kojiki that appeared in Column 8, which deals with the original ‘opening of the stone door'. The second is an excerpt from an essay on kagura (a traditional sacred dance) and its relation to the myth of the opening of the stone door. Kagura is still performed in some parts of Japan and my aim in giving this second excerpt is to offer a more popular treatment of the myth than might be assumed from reading Morihei Ueshiba's discourses. The third is an explanation of the myth by none other than Masahisa Goi, who was a close friend of Morihei Ueshiba in the latter's later years. This third item is especially relevant to this section, since it contains an explanation that Ueshiba himself might have accepted.

1: The Stone Door in the Kojiki
1. The behavior of the deity Susa-no-o (his ‘victory rage' at having beaten the Sun Goddess Ama-terasu in the contest to make oaths and bear children—one of whom was Masakatsu-agatsu katsu hayabi), led to one of the most famous events in the whole mythology. Ama-terasu opened Ame-no-iwa-ya-to [Heavenly Rock Cave Door] and shut herself inside. This had a similar effect to that of the howling rage of Susa-no-o, mentioned above. ‘Myriad deities appeared like summer flies', it was constant night, and ‘all manner of calamities arose'. The deities (there were ya-ho-yorozu-no-kami [many myriads of deities—in modern Japanese, eight million] at this point) held a meeting in the riverbed of the Ame-no-yasu-gawa [Heavenly Tranquil River] and gathered the cocks of Toko-yo [eternal world]. (This land is thought to be the home of the earthly deities and corresponds to the Takama-no-hara, where the heavenly deities dwelt. The cocks were made to crow in order to summon the sun at dawn.) The deities called upon the counseling services of Omoi-kane-no-kami [Thought Combining Deity], to make a good decision, and then took decisive steps to deal with this unprecedented situation, which the Kojiki describes in exhaustive detail.

2. The deities first took hard rock from the river Ame-no-yasu-gawa and iron from Ame-no-kana-yama [Heavenly Gold/Metal Mountain] and enlisted the services of Ama-tsu-mara [Heavenly Blacksmith] and a mirror maker, named Ishi-kori-dome-no-mikoto [Stone Cutting Noble Deity]. Another deity, Tama-no-ya-no-mikoto [Jewel Ancestor Deity], was commissioned to make a long string of maga-tama beads and two other deities were commissioned to perform futo-mani [solemn divination]. These deities were Ame-no-ko-yane-no-mikoto [Heavenly Baby/Little Roof Lord] and Futo-tama-no-mikoto [Solemn Jewel/Spirit Lord]. They removed the whole shoulder bone of a deer from Ame-no-kana-yama, produced some hahaka [cherry or birch] wood and performed this ritual (which was similar to the ritual performed when Izanagi and Izanami failed at their first attempts to produce children). The two deities then pulled out a sakaki tree by the roots. The strings of maga-tama beads were attached to the upper branches and the giant mirror was hung from the middle branches. White and blue cloth was hung from the lower branches. Finally, Futo-tama-no-mikoto somehow held these objects in his hands, while his colleague Ame-no-ko-yane-no-mikoto intoned futo-norito-goto [solemn chanting]. Another deity, Ame-no-Ta-jikara-o-no-kami [Heavenly Hand Strength Male Deity] stood behind the door, while Ame-no-uzume-no-mikoto [Heavenly Formidable Female Deity] became divinely possessed by turning over a bucket and stamping on it, with ma-saki vine in her hair and bundles of sasa leaves in her hands, and exposing her breasts and genitals. Then Takama-no-hara ‘shook', ‘as all the eight hundred myriad deities laughed at once.'

3. This elaborate ceremony had the required effect, for Ama-terasu opened the door a tiny crack and wondered aloud why Ame-no-uzume was singing and dancing and all the deities were laughing. Ame-no-uzume responded that they had found a deity superior to Ama-terasu. At which point Ame-no-ko-yane and Futa-tama brought the mirror and showed it to Ama-terasu. As the latter approached the mirror, Ame-no-Ta-jikara pulled her out and Futa-tama extended a rope behind her, saying, "You can go back no further than this". Light was restored to the Takama-no-hara and to Ashi-hara-no-naka-tsu-kuni [Central Land of the Reed Plains = Japan].

2: The Opening of the Stone Door in Kagura
"Of the traditional ritual dance forms in Japan, the one that is most obviously influenced by Shugendo is kagura. Kagura is the oldest known type of music and dance performance in Japan, naturally and historically connected with the celebrations of kami matsuri. It is even considered to be matsuri's most ancient form. …
"The characters forming the word kagura can be read as entertainment for the kami, or kami music, but most agree that kagura is a contracted form of kami no kura, or "seat of the kami", implying the presence of kami in the kagura performance itself. Tradition connects the origin of kagura with the myth of "Opening of the Rock-Cave Door" (iwatobiraki), recorded in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki. This myth describes how the sun-goddess Amaterasu Omikami was lured out of the heavenly cave, where she had hidden herself. At the climax of an elaborate ritual, the goddess Ame no Uzume performed a shamanistic dance in front of the cave, a dance which stirred the sun goddess to open the door and allowed the other gods to pull her out. This ritual dance of revitalization, later combined with the rites of spirit pacification (chinkon), was called kagura.
"The iwatobiraki myth describes a shamanistic ritual, and Ame no Uzume's dance is understood as a dance of possession. Several shamanistic elements in the myth were incorporated into later Shinto ritual and into kagura. One is the torimono, or "hand-held props". The torimono serve as "chanelling devices" that attract the kami spirits to descend and lead them through to the body of the shamaness, and also as a means to activate their power. Other elements include stamping the feet, a magical means to pacify the spirits of the earth, also understood as a sign of possession. Dance itself served to introduce trance and as the contextual manifestation of it, that is, the possession of the dancer by the kami."

(This extract is taken from an essay by Irit Averbuch, entitled, "Dancing the doctrine: honji suijaku thought in kagura performances". The essay is part of a collection edited by Mark Teeuwen & Fabio Rambelli, with the title, Buddhas and Kami in Japan: Honji Suijaku as a combinatory paradigm. The extract is on on pp. 315-316 of the collection. It is a summary of a larger work by Averbuch, entitled, The Gods Come Dancing: A Study of the Japanese Ritual Dance of Yamabushi Kagura.)

3: Masahisa Goi on the Opening of the Stone Door
I found the following text on a Japanese website via Google.co.jp (which yielded no less than 11,500 entries concerning the topic of Opening the Stone Door of Heaven). The site (http://goiway.sakura.ne.jp/goi_sensei/604) gives the Japanese text of various writings of Masahisa Goi and the Japanese text presented here is relatively simple and easy to understand.

Title:
天の岩戸開きとは
Ama no iwato-biraki to wa
(What is) the Opening of the Stone Door of Heaven?

Main Text:
天の岩戸開き、というのがありますね。
Ama no iwato-biraki, to iu no ga arimasu ne.
You have heard of the opening of the Heavenly Stone Door, haven't you?

天照大神(あまてらすおおみかみ)という神さまがあります。
神さまの働きの名前です。
Amaterasu O Mikami to iu kami-sama ga arimasu.
Kami-sama no hataraki no namae desu.
There is Amaterasu O Mikami. The goddess's name is derived from her function.

しかし、みんな各人の中に天照大神があるわけですよ。
Shikashi, minna kakujin no naka ni Amaterasu O Mikami ga aru wake desu yo.
However, Amaterasu O Mikami assuredly exists inside every single person.

それは光ですね。
Sore wa hikari desu ne.
That is light, isn't it.

心の中に天照大神、神さまがあって、
Kokoro no naka ni Amaterasu O Mikami, Kami-sama ga atte,
Amaterasu O Mikami dwells in your heart.

その神さまが開くことが、天の岩戸開きというのです。
Sono kami-sama ga hiraku koto ga, ama no iwato biraki to iu no desu.
When this Deity opens, (namely, opens your heart) it is called the Opening of the Heavenly Stone Door.

だから自分の悟ってしまったことは、自分の天の岩戸開きだし、
Dakara jibun no satotte shimatta koto wa, jibun no ama no iwato-biraki dashi,
Thus, when one has become enlightened, this is the opening of one's own heavenly stone door,

人類が悟れば、それが人類の岩戸開きなのですね。
Jinrui ga satoreba, sore ga jinrui no iwato-biraki nano desu ne.
and if all humanity becomes enlightened, then this is the opening of the stone door for all humanity, isn't it.

それをなんか向こうの世界のような気がしてね。
Sore wo nanka mukou no sekai no youna ki ga shite ne.
I feel this is something like the other world.

天照大神なんていうと、なんだかわけがわからない。
Amaterasu O Mikami nante iu to, nandaka wake ga wakaranai.
If we speak of the Amaterasu O Mikami, there is something that you don't really understand.

天御中主命(あめのみなかぬしのみこと)といったって、
Ame no Minaka Nushi no Mikoto to ittatte,
If we also speak of Ame no Minaka Nushi no Mikoto,

なんだかわからないでしょ、神道以外の人は.......。
Nandaka wakaranai desho, Shinto igai no hito wa…..
there is something you probably do not undertand, if you are outside Shinto…….

そのように、古事記の話など、
Sono yoni, Kojiki no hanashi nado,
Such things as talking about the Kojiki are…

自分たちに遠いような気がしているような人が随分ある。
Jibuntachi ni toi yona ki ga shite iru yona hito ga zuibun aru.
considered by many people to be far away from their own concerns.

ところが、実は自分たちの姿なんですね。
Tokoroga, jitsu wa jibuntachi no sugata nan desu ne.
However, deities in fact are somehow the form of ourselves.

自分たちの姿を、神さまの名前でみんな現わしているわけです。
Jibuntachi no sugata wo, Kami-sama no namae de minna arawashite iru wake desu.
We all describe characteristics of human beings by means of the names of deities.

The Kojiki text appears to pay much more attention to Amaterasu's entry to the cave and the successful attempts to entice her out, than to the overall effects of her emergence. Haya Susa no O no Mikoto was punished, but there is no discussion of the benefits, other than that the sun shone again. The kagura text, however, points to the ritual aspects of the dance organized by the deities and emphasizes that this aspect was a form of chinkon kishin (quietening the soul and returning to the deity), intended to achieve possession by the deity. Evidence that Morihei Ueshiba was fully aware of this aspect can be found in the Aikido Journal interview with Mariye Takahashi, epecially towards the end of the second part. Goi Masahisa's explanation points to a different idea: the day-to-day spiritual effects of the opening the door and inviting the deity into the hearts of individuals, which is not quite the same as the effects of the ritual.
End of Essential Digression III] 1. 合気は和と統一に結んでいくのである。梅と松の仕組みである松竹梅の教え。
Aiki wa wa to toitsu ni musunde iku no de aru. Ume to matsu no shikumi de aru shochikubai no oshie.
Aiki is peace and harmony, the pine and plum together, the teaching of sho chiku bai.NOTES:
A. The grammar here is deceptively simple. There are two sentences. In the first, the topic (は wa) is aiki, which is also the grammatical subject and the remainder of the sentence is the grammatical complement, ending with the verb de aru, which is equivalent to desu (is). So, we have the form: Aiki is a. A second sentence follows, with the subject understood (to be aiki): It is also c, which is b. This simple identification of aikido with various ancient myths and rituals is disconcerting, but this is what Morihei Ueshiba does. Any translation has to take account of this.
B. The content is also deceptively simple on the surface and I have much sympathy with John Stevens here, who appears to have been required to achieve the near-impossible task of making a translation that is meaningful for those who who practice aikido and seek inspiration and guidance from O Sensei, but who lack the time or inclinaton to study the myths recorded in the Kojiki & Nihon-Shoki. However, these will have no clue about the significance pine or plum, or the Japanese phrase sho chiku bai, so I think the translation cannot be judged successful. I think Prof Stevens would have done better to produce an interpretative paraphrase, as he has done in the next section.
C. A translation more closely tied to the actual text would be: Aiki is coming together with peace. It is the teaching of pine / bamboo / plum which is based on the arrangement / device of pine and plum.
D. Of course, if we know nothing about pine, bamboo and plum and their ‘teaching', we are none the wiser. The combination is ubiquitous in Japan, for when I typed in the Japanese characters 松竹梅, the Japanese Google top page recorded 774,000 entries. Abe Seiseki Shihan has given a general explanation in his commentaries on O Sensei's doka. The doka in question is: 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 differs from that of Stevens in the fourth line.)


The pine, the bamboo, and the plumThe make up of Ki that we are training to purifyFrom where do they arise?The Water and Fire of the change in the self.

‘The pine, bamboo and plum (sho, chiku, bai) are common images used in popular Japanese culture. They are auspicious symbols: The pine is longevity and endurance, since it is evergreen and stays green even in winter, and it lives a long time and grows gnarly and beautifully weathered with age, like people who age well. The bamboo is flexibility and strength, as it bends in the wind or under a weight of snow, but never breaks. The plum is the Japanese plum, which is the first to blossom before the sakura cherry blossoms, so it signifies strong beauty in the face of winter harshness, albeit a fleeting beauty. The plum blossom also matures into the ume fruit, which is salted and pickled and is reputed to be a cure-all; a sort of Japanese chicken soup. Sho chiku bai. That's the name of a sake (Japanese alcohol) brand, too. The shochikubai is often grouped for New Year's decorations so that the household will be blessed with those attributes for the coming year. In Japan, we decorated our tea ceremony practice hall with shochikubai decorations for New Year's, and the doorways of Japanese homes and companies are decorated with kadomatsu (made of various combinations of bamboo, pine and plum).'

The above explanation really covers the period from the Edo era onwards and does not explore the Chinese origins of the phrase. For example: 「歳寒三友(さいかんさんゆう)」とよばれ、貞潔さや志の高い人物を表すモチーフだったのです。 "Saikansanyu" to yobare, teiketsusa ya kokorozashi no takai jimbutsu wo arawasu mocheefu datta no desu. Called Saikansanyu (= Three Friends in the Cold Season), they were a motif expressing purity and the high purpose of a human being. Especially in Japan, the three together also came to symbolize 吉祥 kissho (good fortune: cf. 吉祥丸 Kisshomaru), as Abe Shihan suggests. However, I find it hard to believe that O Sensei had in mind only good fortune—unless he saw much more in this phrase than is commonly understood.

In his book, The Essence of Aikido, John Stevens gives a different translation, and a comment that is more relevant to aikido training:Pine, Bamboo, Plum—
they refine and purify, and
form the basis of ki.
From where do they arise?
In the transformation of fire and water.
The evergreen pine is associated with the Jewel, completeness, the square, and katsuhayabi; the sturdy bamboo is associated with the Sword, resilience, the circle, and Agatsu; and the elegant plum is associated with the Mirror, stability, the triangle, and Masakatsu. (p. 74.) However, just to show how complicated the interpretation of O Sensei's discourses appears to be, a quite different interpretation of the three connects the pine with irimi and the triangle, the bamboo with tenkan and the circle (= the spinning triangle), and the plum with osae and the square, or void. Thus the ‘teaching' takes place on several levels, one of which is certainly training, but the precise nature is not explained specifically. 2. これは何億万年前の昔からの仕事である。
Kore wa nanokuman nen mae no mukashi kara no shigoto de aru.
It has existed since ancient times.
NOTES:
A closer translation would be: This is a piece of work that began several billions of years ago.3. これは艮の金神の神の御教え、そして小戸の神業で、真人養成の道である。ホノサワケの島。
Kore wa Ushitora no Konjin no Kami no o-oshie, soshite odo no kamuwaza de, shinjin yosei no michi de aru. Onosawake no shima.
It is a divine teaching fostering true people. It is life.NOTES:
A. Again, the grammar is quite simple, with a subject and successive complements. Kore wa is a and, by means of b, it is also c. It is also understood to be d.
B. In this section Stevens gives an interpretation, that mentions neither the deity Ushitora no Konjin, nor odo no kamuwaza. A translation more specifically tied to the Japanese text would be: This (= the content of the previous section) is the honoured teaching of the deity Ushitora no Konjin. In addition, by the divine waza of the small door, it is the way to nurture true people. (It is the island of) Onosawake no shima.
C. It is clear from Ueshiba's statement that he had a different view of the deity Ushitora no Konjin from the traditional view: of a fearsome Taoist deity in Omyodo, who occupied certain directions at certain times and specialized in delivering curses. The new improved version of the ancient deity allegedly possessed Nao Deguchi and told her to found the Omoto religion, which would be his chosen instrument for 世直し (yo-naoshi world renewal). Gaku Homma, who entered the Aikikai Hombu as a deshi very late in Ueshiba's life, mentions in an article that Ueshiba would pray every day at a small shrine dedicated to this deity near the Iwama dojo.
D. While researching for this column I came across several websites in Japanese. The following website is called Takemusu Tsugen and presents material concerning the life of Morihei Ueshiba and Bansen Tanaka, who was taught by O Sensei in Osaka and who founded the Osaka Aikikai (http://blog.goo.ne.jp/takemusu_001/). The second is a website of the Aikido Takemusu Kai (http://www.interq.or.jp/silver/sinomori/takemusu.top.htm), which is run by a 6th dan student of Bansen Tanaka, named Takanari Higuchi. The following explanation of the phrase小戸の神業odo no kamuwaza the divine waza of the odo appears on this website. The explanation might be by Ueshiba himself, but this is not quite clear from the context. 武人は常に神に祈りを忘れず、鎮魂帰神法による技を会得し言振れせずに悟り行うことである。小戸の神業(おどのかむわざ)とは、舌三寸の天之村雲[FONT=Times] (あめのむらくも)の神剣である。言霊(ことたま)で人を生かす事も殺す事も自由に使えるという。言霊は神剣である。舌の奥に心あり。精気のこもった言霊は、相手の技をも 止める事ができるという。神秘の技ともいえるのである。
A man of budo never fails to pray to the deities. He can become skilled in waza by means of calming the soul and returning to the deity, and reach enlightenment without the use of language. The divine waza of the small door (= mouth?) is the divine sword of Ame no Murakumo, which is an eloquent tongue. It is said that word-spirit can be used freely to kill people and give life. Kotodama is the divine sword. One's tongue is filled with the spirit. The word spirit that is full of energy is said to be able to stop the waza of the opponent—we can say that these are mysterious waza.
E. As recounted in the Kojiki myths, Awaji no onosawake no shima (popularly believed to be the present Awajishima, in the Seto Inland Sea) is the first of the ‘good' islands (= Japan) to be created by Izanagi and Izanami no Mikoto.
F. Thus, the translation of Stevens here is not really a translation, but rather a statement of what aiki would ‘reasonably' seem to be. 4. 天の浮島というのは「ア」は自ら「メ」は巡るといい、自ら巡るというのが天の、浮島の方は.....二つのものが水火結んでいく、霊界も顕界も一つにする。
Ame no uki-shima to iu no wa [A] wa mizukara [ME] wa meguru to ii, mizukara meguru to iu no ga ama no, uki-shima no ho wa…..futatsu no mono ga suika musunde iku, reikai mo genkai mo hitotsu ni suru.
From the Floating Bridge of Heaven the seed syllable a leads to me [ame heaven]. The two join with water and fire to make the manifest and hidden realms.
NOTES:
A. Ame no uki-shima is a floating island, not a floating bridge. The island might be Onogoroshima, otherwise known as Yashima (= Japan). I suspect that in this and the following section Ueshiba has in mind a later episode in the Kojiki creation sequence, summarized below:
‘All the deities then commanded Izanagi-no-kami and Izanami-no-kami to "complete and solidify this drifting land," which they did in a way that matched their names. First, they were given a jeweled spear, called Ame-no-nu-boko [Heavenly Jeweled Spear], which they dipped into the brine (remember that the land resembled floating oil) and stirred it, while standing on the Ame-no-uki-hashi [Heavenly Floating Bridge]. They lifted up the spear and the brine dripping off the spear piled up and became an island. They descended from heaven to this island, called Onogoro-shima, and built a ‘heavenly pillar' and a palace. The main act of creation then began, with Izanagi and Izanami walking round the pillar, meeting and then having conjugal intercourse. The first time it did not work very well, since they moved in opposire directions, and they gave birth to a ‘leech-child' and an island called Awa-jima. At a hastily-called heavenly meeting, where the deities performed futo-mani [solemn divination], the couple were told to try again and this time were successful, giving birth to many islands (the first of which was Awaji no onosawake no shima) and many of the deities who were to inhabit the islands. These deities ruled rivers, seas, winds, trees, mountains (O-yama-tsu-mi-no-kami [Great Mountain Ruler Deity]) and plains. There was even a bird boat deity, Ame-no-tori-fune-no-kami [Heavenly Bird Boat Deity—note the name of the training exercise in aikido], who conveyed the heavenly deities around. Finally Izanami created Hi-no-yagi-haya-wo-no-kami [Fire Burning Fast Male Deity].'
B. With the above observation in mind, we can translate the section while keeping more closely to the Japanese text than Stevens does: With respect to the Heavenly island [AME no Ukishima], A of itself/spontaneously, together with ME, moved in a spiral. As for the island [Ukishima]… Water and fire combined and made the spirit world and the earthly world one (and the island was the result).

C. The importance of water and fire in Ueshiba's cosmology is well discussed by John Stevens, in The Essence of Aikido (pp. 26-27). Repeating it here would take up too much space. 5. ア オ ウ エ イ という天の御柱、スーウーユームー 合気は気の仕組み、魄と魂、魄は宇宙組織の魂の糸筋を磨いていく、
A O U E I to iu ame no mihashira, SU UU YU MU aiki wa ki no shikumi, haku to tama, haku wa uchu soshiki no tama no itosuji wo migaite iku,
A o u e i become the bridge and su u yu mu form spirit and matter through aiki; spirit and water are the threads that tie the universe together.
NOTES:
A. Haku 魄 and tama(shii) 魂 have been mentioned before. In another place in Takemusu Aiki, (cited in a previous column) Ueshiba complained that the Japanese Army trained for the sake of haku, whereas they should train of the sake of tama. However, there魄 and 魂were predicated of persons; here they are not. Here is an account of the Taoist doctrine of the soul, which places Ueshiba's statements in a crucial cultural context. It was written by Henri Cordier in 1912 for the Catholic Encyclopedia:

As De Groot observes (J J M de Groot, The Religious Systems of China, Vol IV, 67): "Taoism being fundamentally a religion of the Cosmos and its subdivisions, old Chinese Cosmogony is its Theogony. It conceives the Universe as one large organism of powers and influences, a living machine, the core of which is the Great Ultimate Principle or T'ai-kih, comprising the two cosmic Breaths or Souls, known as the Yang and the Yin, of which, respectively, Heaven and Earth are the chief depositories. These two souls produce the four seasons, and the phenomena of Nature represented by the lineal figures called kwa". In fact the Yang and the Yin produce by the power of their co-operation all that exists, man included. Ancient Chinese philosophy attributes to man two souls:
The shen, or immaterial soul 魂 (tamashii in Japanese) emanates from the ethereal, celestial part of the Cosmos, and consists of yang substance. When operating actively in the living human body, it is called k'i or 'breath', and kwun; when separated from it after death, it lives as a refulgent spirit, styled ming.
The kwei, the material, substantial soul 魄 (haku in Japanese) emanates from the terrestrial part of the Universe, and is formed of yin substance. In living man it operates under the name of p'oh and on his death it returns to the Earth" (De Groot, IV, p. 5). "Thus the kwei is buried with the man and the shen lingers about the tomb. Marking the distinction between the two souls, there existed in the legendary period, according to the ‘Li-ki', a sacrificial worship to each soul separately: the hwun or k'i returns to heaven, the p'oh returns to earth. These two souls are composite; in fact all the viscera have a particular shen. ‘There are medical authors who ascribe to man an indefinite number of souls or soul-parts, or, as they express it, a hundred shen. Those souls, they say, shift in the body according to the age of the owner; so, e.g. when he is 25, 31, 68 or 74, and older they dwell in his forehead, so that it is then very dangerous to have boils or ulcers there, because effusion of the blood would entail death. At other times of life they nestle under the feet or in other parts and limbs, and only in the 21st, 38th, 41st, and 50th years of life they are distributed equally through the body, so that open abscesses, wherever they appear, do not heal then at all. Such pathologic nonsense regulates, of course, medical practice to a high degree' (De Groot, IV, p. 75). The liver, the lungs, and the kidneys correspond to the spring, to the autumn, to the winter, as well as to the east, the west, and the north. The soul may be extracted from a living man; the body may still live when left by the soul, for instance during sleep; the soul of a dead man may be reborn into other bodies. Ghosts may enter into relation with the living, not only in dreams, but they may take revenge on their enemies."
B. 御柱go-hashira is usually translated as the pillar, around which Izanagi and Izanami danced, before they produced the Japanese islands, not a bridge. Ueshiba's own spiraling chinkon rituals with the ame-no-nuboko, the spear that he kept in the Kobukan, seem to be closer to the contents of this section.
C. Thus, a translation that takes more account of the Japanese text might be: A, O, U, E, I are the heavenly pillars, SU, UU, YU, MU. Aiki is the arrangement of ki. There is the material yin soul and the immaterial yang soul. The material soul will polish the strings of the immaterial soul of the universe, 6. 魂に神習うていく己の岩戸開きである。
Tama ni kami naroute iku onore no iwato biraki de aru.
Listen to the gods and open your own door to the truth.
NOTES:
A. A closer translation would be: which is divine training in the soul and the opening of your own stone door. 7. 魄の息吹き魂の息吹き、この二つの岩戸開き、そして宇宙を己れの道場とする。
Haku no ibuki tama no ibuki, kono futatsu no iwato biraki, soshite uchu wo onore no dojo to suru.
The breath of matter and the breath of spirit—these two elements open the door to the truth. When this occurs, the universe becomes our dojo.
NOTES:
A closer translation would be: The breath of one's body (earth soul) and the breath of one's spirit (heaven soul) -- when these two stone doors are open, the universe will be one's own dojo. 8. 宇宙にすべて神習うてやるのである。天の浮島「三千世界一度に開く梅の花」。宇宙の成立から今日に至るまで、なお未来永遠に至るまで気の仕組みである。気育、知育、徳育、 常識の涵養と相まって体育、すべてのこと。
Uchu ni subete kami naroute yaru no de aru. Ame no ukishima ‘san zen sekai ichido ni hiraku ume no hana'. Uchu no seiritsu kara konnichi ni itaru made, nao mirai eien ni itaru made ki no shikumi de aru. Kiiku, chiiku, tokuiku, joshiki no kanyo to aimatte taiiku, subete no koto.
The entire universe—with its energy, wisdom, virtue and consciousness—has and always will flow from the gods.
NOTES: Again, this is really a short summary, rather than a translation, which would be: We practice all divine training in the universe. Ame no Ukishima ‘san zen sekai ichido ni hiraku ume no hana (flowers of plum open in the parallel universes of shinkai [divine world], reikai [spirit world], and genkai [earthly world])' is the arrangement of ki, from the birth of the universe through today to the future, which means physical education, or everything including education of enegy, intelligence & ethos, and gaining common sense.

General Comments
It should be clear from the above discussion that I have some reservations about the quality of the translation that Prof Stevens has produced. It is correct as far as it goes, but only as far as it goes: it does not convey what Ueshiba meant in his own words and I believe that this is essential in a translation. In my opinion, it is unwise to rely on transferred (i.e., metaphorical) meanings until the possibilities offered by the primary meanings have been exhausted. On the other hand, even with a detailed commentary, which illuminates all the references and allusions, we can only go so far in understanding the discourse. We will discuss this fully in the next column, but in my opinion, Ueshiba has to be taken as literally as possible in discourses such as this. Otherwise we do him a great disservice.

D: Takemusu Aiki
In previous columns I have explained the provenance of these discourses. The Byakko Shinko-kai was an offshoot of the Omoto religion. It was founded by Masahisa Goi, who was previously a member of an earlier Omoto offshoot called Seicho-no-Ie. The audience is therefore likely to have had some initial understandng of the background.

The following extract is from pp.85 onwards (since no English translation of Takemusu Aiki has been published, I have supplied my own). The extract comes at the beginning of a section entitled: 合気道は言霊の妙用 / 宇宙みそぎの大道である
Aikido wa Kotodama no Myoyo / Uchu Misogi no daido de aru
Aikido is the Marvelous Working of Word-soul / The Great Path of Universe Purification
The title itself is a clear statement of the contents: Aikido is kotodama; aikido is misogi; aikido essentially involves chinkon kishin. In the discourse Morihei Ueshiba takes for granted the theory of kotodama expounded by Onisaburo Deguchi and Omoto and without some understanding of this background it is impossible to understand the discourse. However, we need to be clear about what Morihei Ueshiba implies in these discourses. He identfies aikido with two things: the kotodama (Souls of the Words, in William Gleason's phrase) that created the universe; and with the misogi ritual of ridding the universe of the dross and impurities acquired—for whatever reason. The cultural background gives the context, but it is important that it does not soften Ueshiba's stark message. In a few places Ueshiba announced that he was the reincarnation of the deity Izu-no-me-no-kami [consecrated-woman-deity], who came into existence with two others, in order to rectify the evils caused by the visit of the deity Izanagi-no-Mikoto to the underworld (See Column 8).
Here we will focus on the style of the extract, more than the content. The paragraph reproduced gives an account of kotodama sounds and also alludes to the logos statement in the Gospel of John. The following digression gives some essential background.

[Essential Digression IV:
Kojiki and the Gospel of John
I have reproduced here the summary given in Column 8 of the very first chapters of the Kojiki (based on Philippi's translation), and the beginning of the Gospel of John (the transcribed Greek text with a very close translation).

Kojiki
1. In the Kojiki, creation of heaven and earth begins with the creation of deities, who simply ‘come into being'. The first three are: Ame-no-minaka-nushi-no-kami [Lord Deity of the Center of Heaven]; Taka-mi-musubi-no-kami [High Generative Force Deity], also known as Taka-ki-no-kami [High Tree deity]; and Kami-musubi-no-kami [Divine Generative Force Deity]. These three deities were single deities (not pairs—see below) and lived in Takama-no-hara [Plain of High Heaven].

2. The next two deities came into being from ‘reed-shoots', when the ‘young land' resembled floating oil and drifted like a jellyfish. These deities were: Umashi-ashi-kabi-hiko-ji-no-kami [Excellent Reed Shoots Male Deity]; and Ame-no-toko-tachi-no-kami [Heavenly Eternal Standing Deity].

3. Two more single deities came into existence: Kuni-no-toko-tachi-no-kami [Earth Eternal Standing Deity], corresponding to Ame-no-toko-tachi-no-kami, above; and Toyo-kumo-no-no-kami [Abundant Clouds Field Deity]. These were followed by six pairs of deities, of whom the last pair were most important for the future of Japan. This last pair comprised Izanagi-no-kami and his spouse, Izanami-no-kami [Inviting Female Deity].

Gospel of John, Chapter 1, Verses 1-14
1. En archee een ho logos, kai ho logos een pros ton Theon, kai Theos een ho logos.
In the beginning was the word, and the word was with the God and God was the word.
2. Outos een en archee pros ton Theon.
This (= the word) was in the beginning with the God.
3. Panta di' autou egeneto, kai choris autou egeneto oude hen, ho gegonen.
All things were made by him (came into being on account of him) and without him not one thing made which was made (not one thing came into being which came into being).
4. En auto zoee een, kai he zoee een to phos ton anthropon,
In him was life, and the life was the light of the men,
5. kai to phos en tee skotia phainei, kai hee skotia auto ou katelabon.
and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome / conquer it.
6. Egeneto anthropos katastalmenos para Theou, onoma auto Ioannees.
There came to be a man who was sent by the God, his name John.
7. Outos eelthen eis marturian, hina martureesee peri tou photos, hina pantes pisteusosi di' autou.
This same man came for witness, in order to bear witness to the light, so that all might believe through him.
8. Ouk een ekeinos to phos, all' hina martureesee peri tou photos.
This man was not the light, but was to bear witness to the light.
9. Een to phos to aleethinon, ho photizei panta anthropon erchomenon eis ton kosmon.
There was the true light, which gives light to all men (and was) coming into the world.
10. En to kosmo een, kai ho kosmos di' auto egeneto, kai ho kosmos auton ouk egno.
He was in the world, and the world was made by him (came into being on account of him), and the world did not know him.
11. Eis to idia eelthe, kai hoi idioi ou parelabon.
He came to his own, and those who were his own did not accept him.
12. Hosoi de elabon auton, edoken autois exousian tekna Theou genesthai, tois pisteuousin eis to onoma autou,
Those who accepted him, he gave to them the power to become children of the God, those who believe in his name,
13. hoi ouk ex aimaton, oude ex theleematos sarkos, ouk ex theleematos andros, all' ek Theou egeneestheesan.
born not of descent, nor from the will of the flesh, nor from the will of a man, but of the God.
14. Kai ho logos sarx egeneto, kai eskeenosen en himin, pleerees charitos kai aleetheias.
And the word became flesh and dwelt with us, filled with grace and truth.
End of Essential Digression IV] 1. 「言霊は声とは違う。言霊とは腹中に赤い血のたぎる姿をいう」植芝先生はこのように教えて下さいました。
[I] "Kotodama wa koe to wa chigau. Kotodama to wa fukuchu ni akai chi no tagiru sugata wo iu" Ueshiba Sensei wa konoyoni oshiete kudasaimashita.
"With respect to the word-soul, it is different from the voice. Word-soul has the form of red blood seething in the abdomen." Ueshiba Sensei bestowed his teaching in this way.
NOTES:
The paragraph begins with a quotation given by Hideo Takahashi of a statement made by Morihei Ueshiba. The statement announces that koto-dama, which I have translated as ‘word-soul', is different from voiced utterances and originates in the 丹田 tanden (lower belly). 2. 五井先生は、言霊とは、文字や音声にいずる想念以前のひびき、即ち光そのもののひびき、神である、音声や文字に出た時はすでに言霊の役目、働きが果たされあとのものである 、と説明して下さいました。
Goi Sensei wa, kotodama to wa, moji ya onsei ni izuru sonen izen no hibiki, sunawachi hikari sonomono no hibiki, kami de aru, onsei ya moji ni deta toki wa sudeni kotodama no yakume, hataraki ga hatasare ato no mono de aru, to setsumei shite kudasaimashita.
Goi Sensei bestowed on us the explanation that word-soul was prior to words and voiced sounds, in other words, that word soul was the deity that vibrated light itself, and that the time that it came forth in sounds and letters was the remains of the previous working of word-soul.
NOTES:
Goi expands the brief statement of Ueshiba, above. 3. またこうも説明して下さいました。
Mata, ko mo setsumei shite kudasaimashita.
In addition, he also gave this explanation.NOTES:
The subject of this sentence appears to be ‘Goi Sensei', who goes on to give an explanation by Morihei Ueshiba of kotodama sounds. 4. 植芝先生が、〝アオウエイ〟〝カコクケキ〟と言霊をとなえていらっしゃる時、アのひびきをもった神、オの働きをする神、エの神、イの働きをする神々が、植芝先生に招ばれて 、神つどい集われるのであると。
Ueshiba Sensei ga, "A O U E I" "Ka Ko Ku Ke Ki" to kotodama wo tonaete irassharu toki, A no hibiki wo motta kami, O no hataraki wo suru kami, E no kami, I no hataraki wo suru kami-gami ga, Ueshiba Sensei ni yobarete, kami tsudoi ni tsudowareru no de aru to.
(Goi Sensei stated that,) At the time Ueshiba Sensei chanted the kotodama "A O U E I", "Ka Ko Ku Ke Ki", the deity which had the A vibration, the deity doing the working of O, the deity E, and the deities doing the working of I were invited by Ueshiba Sensei and came together in a gathering of deities.
NOTES:
"Ueshiba Sensei ga"is the subject of a sentence that announces a long quotation, which begins in the next section and which ends long after what is quoted here. 5. 「一霊四魂三元八力の大元霊が、一つなる大神のみ姿である。
"Ichi-rei shi-kon san-gen hatchi-riki no dai genrei ga, hitotsu naru O-kami no mi-sugata de aru.
"The great foundation spirit of one spirit, four souls, three fundamentals, eight powers has the form of one great deity.
NOTES:
There is an excellent account of one spirit, four souls, three fundamentals, eight powers in The Esssence of Aikido, by John Stevens, pp. 31-35. The point here is that Ueshiba identifies these with the great deity who created the universe. 6. 大神は一つであり、宇宙に満ちみちて生ける無限大の弥栄の姿である。即ち天なく地なく宇宙も無く、大虚空宇宙である。
O-gami ha hitotsu de ari, uchu ni michi michi te ikeru mugendai no iyasaka no sugata de aru. Sunawachi ten naku chi naku uchu mo naku, daikoku uchu de aru.
The great deity was one, and had the form of a formless mass of increasing brilliance that filled the universe to the brim. There was neither heaven, nor earth, nor the universe, but a great empty void.
NOTES:
A. The text here and following reads somewhat like the account in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, especially Verse Two: The earth was a vast waste, darkness covered over the deep, and the spirit of God hovered over the surfaceof the water. The difference is that God is separate and takes part in the process only by giving utterances, such as ‘Let there be light. 7. その大虚空に、ある時ポチ一つ忽然として現わる。このポチこそ宇宙万有の根源なのである。そこで始め、ゆげ、けむり、きりよりも微細なる神明の気を放射して、円形の圏を描 き、ポチを包みて、初めて⦿の言霊が生まれた。
Sono daikoku ni, aru toki pochi hitotsu kotsuzen toshite arawaru. Kono pochi koso uchu banyu no kongen nano de aru. Sokode hajime, yuge, kemuri, kiri yorimo bisainaru shinmei no ki wo hosha shite, enkei no ken wo egaki, pochi wo tsutsumite, hajimete ‘su' no kotodama ga umareta.
In this great void, one point suddenly appeared. This point was the source of the entire universe. Then, first, divine light, which was weaker than steam/vapor, smoke and mist, expanded, described a circle, enveloped the point, and the original word spirit ⦿ was born.
NOTES:
The Japanese here and in what follows is quite clear and precise. 8. これが宇宙の最初、霊界の初めであります。
Korega uchu no saisho, reikai no hajime de arimasu.
This is the earliest/very beginning of the universe, the beginning of the spirit world.

9. そこで宇大は、自然と呼吸を始めた。神典には、数百億万の昔とあります。
Sokode udai wa, shizen to kokyu wo hajimeta. Shinten ni wa, su-hyaku-oku-man no mukashi to arimasu.
Then the great universe started breathing naturally. According to divine documents, it is stated that that happened several billion years ago.
そして常在すみきらいつつ、即ち一杯に呼吸しつつ生長してゆく。生長してゆくにしたがって、声が出たのである。言霊が始まったのである。
Soshite sumikiri sumikiraitsutsu, sunawachi ippai ni kokyu shitsutsu seicho shite yuku. Seicho shite yuku ni shitagatte, koe ga deta no de aru. Kotodama ga hajimatta no de aru.
The word soul had been growing with full breaths and as the word soul was gradually growing, the sound SU was voiced. Thus word soul began.

10. キリストが「はじめに言葉ありき」といったその言霊が⦿ (ス) であります。これが言霊の始まりである。
Kirisuto ga "hajime ni kotoba ariki" to itta sono kotodama ga su de arimasu. Korega kotodama no hajimari de aru.
The word spirit that Christ uttered: "In the beginning was the word", is SU. This is the original word-spirit.
NOTES:
A. Ueshiba's explanation, recorded by Masahisa Goi and transcribed by Hideo Takahashi, continues for a number of paragraphs.
B. Ueshiba indentifies the word that opens John's gospel with the SU mora, which was the original word-spirit. It is not clear from his statement whether he ever studied the vast amount of literature relating to the origin and evolution of the concept of logos in ancient Greek philosophy, Stoicism, and Christian theology. John regards the entire prologue as a reference to Christ and this is particulary clear from his references to John the Baptist and the Incarnation. Thus, Ueshiba's statement is strictly incorrect, since it is John who is speaking, but about Christ.
C. However, since Omoto was a syncretistic religion, the foundation of which was a belief in one Great Universal Deity, of which the Hebrew God, the Christian triune God, and the Muslim Allah, were manifestations, it is quite likely that Ueshiba believed that the Johannine prologue was a restatement of the same truth as the creation myths in the Kojiki and also the Book of Genesis.
D. Nevertheless, Ueshiba makes statements that are similar to those made by Johannine scholars in their analyses of the logos statements, which is that kotodama was actually a deity whose actions preceded the specific content of the term: just as the work of the Word-logos preceded any human utterances, the work of the deity called by the name koto-dama actually preceded the various utterances of kotodama, as the term is normally understood. In other words, Ueshiba restated the fundamental Omoto belief that SU and the Word-logos were two aspects of the same thing: the Great Iniversal Deity.

General Conclusion: The Nature of Morihei Ueshiba's Elephant
I have spent some time analyzing the actual discourses of Morihei Ueshiba as closely as possible, in order to spell out the difficulties involved for anyone who tries to get to grips with these discourses, especially those who seek to give an accurate translation that is divorced from the culture in which he lived. In some respects it is easier to divorce the first two extracts from their cultural context than the second two. There is an immediate practical context to the extracts from Budo Renshu and Budo that is lacking from the second two and somehow needs to be supplied. Otherwise the words will make no sense. However, even when the complex cultural context is supplied, with as much detail as possible, problems remain in understanding the discourses. Since this discussion was split for reasons of length, I will discuss these problems, including the issues of translation, in Column 12, as part of a more general discussion on aikido and language.

Reading
The texts and translations of Morihei Ueshiba's discourses have been taken from the following original sources: 武道練習Budo Renshu, Translated by Larry & Seiko Bieri, Japan Publications Trading Company, 1978. (Alas, this bilingual edition is no longer in print and the only second-hand copy I have seen was priced at over US$ 750. A ‘bowdlerized' edition, shorn of all the Japanese, is available, entitled Budo Training in Aikido.); 武道 Budo, unpublished Japanese text produced in 1938, translated by John Stevens, Kodansha International, 1991; 合気神髄 Aiki Shinzui, Yahata Shoten, 2002, translated by John Stevens as, The Secret Teachings of Aikido, Kodansha International, 2007; 武産合気 Takemusu Aiki, 1976, Byakko Shinkokai Press. For the doka, a very good place to start is John Stevens, The Essence of Aikido, Kodansha International, 1993.
The Japanese writing system is dealt with in two works. The first, by Hadamitzky & Spahn, is a guide to modern Japanese writing, principally the 1,945 joyo-kanji in common use, but with an excellent introduction (Wolfgang Hadamitzky & Charles Spahn, Kanji & Kana: A Handbook of the Japanese Writing System, Revised Edition, 1996, Tuttle Language Library). More complex and detailed in scope is a history of Japanese writing by Christopher Seeley (Christopher Seeley, A History of Writing in Japan, Brill, 1991, paperback edition, Hawaii U P, 2000).
Those who wish to explore Japanese writing by reading texts will need two types of dictionary: a normal bilingual or monolingual dictionary, and a monolingual or bilingual Chinese character dictionary. The Japanese-English dictionary that I myself use lists all the words in hiragana and then gives the various meanings in English (Toshiro Watanabe et al, eds, Kenkyusha's New Japanese-English Dictionary, Fifth Edition, Tokyo, Kenkyusha, 2003). The enormous multi-volume monolingual dictionary I use also lists all the entries in hiragana and then gives the various meanings (日本国語大辞典, 小学館, 2003). For Japanese-English Chinese character dictionaries, there are several possibilities. The classic edition is by Andrew Nelson and has been revised: John H Haig et al, eds, The New Nelson Japanese-English Character Dictionary, based on the Classic Edition by Andrew N Nelson, Tuttle, 1997. The perennial issue with Chinese character dictionaries is the organization of the entries: where to find a particular character. Nelson organizes the entries according to the 214 radicals, classified according to the number of remaining strokes (i.e., apart from the radical). Another edition, more convenient than Nelson, is by Wolfgang Hadamitzky & Charles Spahn, mentioned earlier: The Kanji Dictionary, Tuttle, 1996. The monolingual Chinese character dictionary I use is 大字源, published by 角川書店, 1992.
Apart from dictionaries, two handbooks of classical Japanese give good preparation for dealing with Morihei Ueshiba in his own language (Haruo Shirane, Classical Japanese: A Grammar, 2005, Colombia U P; Classical Japanese Reader and Essential Dictionary, 2007, Colombia U P).
The Kojiki Japanese mythology has been published in many Japanese-language editions, usually giving the kambun text, with a modern Japanese translation and scholarly notes. The edition I have used here is 古事記 日本古典文学全集, Vol. 1, published by 小学館, 1997. There is an interesting manga edition by Ishinomori Shotaro (石ノ森章太郎), first published by Chuokoron Shinsha (中央公論新社) in 1998. There are also some splendid lavishly illustrated children's summaries available (with no translation). Translations into English have been made by Basil Hall Chamberlain (The Kojiki: Records of Ancient Matters, 1882, Asiatic Society of Japan; 1981, Charles Tuttle—with occasional excursions into Latin, in order not to shock his Victorian readers), and by Donald Philippi (Kojiki, 1968, Tokyo University Press). William Gleason gives a detailed description of the concepts that figure in the discourse by Ueshiba quoted from the Takemusu Aiki text (William Gleason, The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido, Destiny Books, 1995). Gleason has recently produced a sequel to the earlier book (William Gleason, Aikido and Words of Power: The Sacred Sounds of Kototama, Destiny Books, 2009).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

Walker
02-18-2009, 01:42 AM
Not even close to done yet, but in a word -- wow.

The first question so far is where did the text for Budo come from as you say that it has never been published?

Second, in quote #4 Budo Renshu the Japanese is 伴ふ and the romaji is "tomonau". Same in #8 向ふ/mukou. Am I missing something? I only have experience with modern Japanese.

One more. I am curious about the hiragana ゐ. It seems to take the place of い in the 〜ている construction. Is that correct and how else is it used?

On a personal note, looking at what you have done makes me feel like a first grade sissy boy in Japanese ability. Thanks :straightf

Peter Goldsbury
02-18-2009, 03:04 AM
Hello Doug,

Actually, I was / am somewhat worried that this column makes too many demands on the non-Japanese reader. However, I think it is very important that people see the problems that translators of O Sensei, like John Stevens, for example, have had to grapple with.

Not even close to done yet, but in a word -- wow.

The first question so far is where did the text for Budo come from as you say that it has never been published?
PAG. Unlike Budo Renshu, which was published bilingually in 1978, Budo has never been commercially published. I have seen a copy in the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, in the museum located on the 3rd floor of the modern building next to the dojo. Doshu kindly allowed me to look through the book one day at the Hombu. I received my own copy through the great kindness of my friend Stanley Pranin. Stan had some copies made of the edition he had acquired and sent me one. It is very treasured item in my budo library. Stan's essay in the Takemusu Aikido Special Edition volume is indispensable reading.

Second, in quote #4 Budo Renshu the Japanese is 伴ふ and the romaji is "tomonau". Same in #8 向ふ/mukou. Am I missing something? I only have experience with modern Japanese.
PAG. When I bought my copy of Morohashi Tetsuji's Dai Kanwa Jiten, I was surprised also to receive a laminated card listing all the changed made in transcribing Japanese since he compiled it. Morohashi was born in 1883, the same year as Morihei Ueshiba, but died quite a few years after O Sensei. His 13-volume dictionary, listing over 50,000 characters used in Japanese was clearly a labor of love. The inputting of okurigana was simplified by 1931, for in the Japanese edition of the notorious Kokutai no Hongi (Fundamental Principles of the National Body (= Japan) that I possess, they are the same as in modern Japanese. However, some of the characters, like koku 國 and tai 體, are not used nowadays and are similar to those found in the Budo text.

One more. I am curious about the hiragana ゐ. It seems to take the place of い in the 〜ている construction. Is that correct and how else is it used?
Table 3 (pp.14 & 15) of Hadamitzky & Spahn's Kanji and Kana gives the old Fifty-Sounds Table (五十音図 go-ju-on-zu), including the obsolete kana for i (ゐ ヰ) and e (ゑ ヱ). The kanji input systems I am using are ATOK 2008 and the system that comes with the Japanese version of Apple's i-Mac.

On a personal note, looking at what you have done makes me feel like a first grade sissy boy in Japanese ability. Thanks :straightf
PAG. Well I have been living here since March 1980, so I ought to have something to show for it.:D

Best wishes,

PAG

Josh Reyer
02-18-2009, 07:25 AM
To further clarify, until after the war Japan used non-phonetic "spelling" (much like modern English does now). 伴う and 向う used to be written (and centuries ago, pronounced) like ともなふ and むかふ.

Actually, I was / am somewhat worried that this column makes too many demands on the non-Japanese reader. However, I think it is very important that people see the problems that translators of O Sensei, like John Stevens, for example, have had to grapple with.
I think that's a valid concern. But what you've done here is an amazing effort.

Some tangential thoughts --
In view of the enormous number of homonyms that exist in Japanese, this would make reading very difficult and this, I think, is why Chinese characters have never been banished from the written language.
The necessary rejoinder to this is that children and illiterate people have no problem understanding spoken Japanese, with all of its homonyms. Context is very often quite clear. In fact, moving to a system of historical kana usage would likely clear up most of the misunderstandings that would remain. Rather than any necessity for kanji in understanding written Japanese, I believe it's mostly a matter of inertia and tradition. Removing kanji would be a bigger change than English or German spelling reform, and those have not exactly proceeded smoothly. Further, a Japanese-speaking population that learns kanji then has access to the entire history of Japanese writing in its original form. If Japan went to an all kana or all romaji system, it would require the transliteration of the entire corpus of Japanese literature, an undertaking of a scale that I believe would be unprecedented in the history of the world.

Those accustomed to the alphabet might well also ponder at the immense rote-learning process expected of every young Japanese entering the Japanese school system, in order to master reading and writing the 5,000-odd characters required for day-to-day written communication in Japanese.
I work in two Japanese elementary schools, so I have some experience with this. Actually, this is neither so rote nor so immense as it might seem at first glance. A key thing to understand is that while kanji certainly contain a core meaning, to everyday Japanese they more often represent sounds rather than meaning. Often, when native Japanese make mistakes of kanji, they substitute kanji that sound the same or contain the same phonetic element. Aside from a few simple, core pictographs (e.g., 日, sun, 山, mountain, 水, water, etc.) Japanese children are not taught the meaning of kanji in isolation, but rather as parts of compounds, and as words in context. Kanji themselves are made up of a finite number of commonly appearing components, and children learn to match these components together to make a work, much like English speaking children learn how to match together non-phonetic or pseudo-phonetic combinations of letters to spell. Elementary school children generally only rote copy the kanji out ten times or so, and this is less to impart muscular memory as it is to practice balance and appearance. By the time they go to junior high school, they don't need to spend much time practicing writing new characters -- they can easily break them down into their recognizable components, and remember how to match them back to together again.

Finally, the majority of Japanese people do not and need not learn upwards of 5,000 characters. By the time they leave high school, they know the 1,945 daily use kanji, plus the 284 kanji commonly used in names, for 2,229 kanji. In the vast majority of media, kanji and terms outside of these will be accompanied by yomigana -- superscript hiragana used to indicate how a kanji is read. (I'm sure you are aware of this, Professor Goldsbury; I'm adding it just as general supplementary information for others.)

To bring this more on topic, I look at the translations and can't help be frustrated at how much is not translated, or translated poorly. But that does not necessarily reflect on Messrs Stevens and Bieri. Translating even modern Japanese is a difficult, unsatisfying task. More often than not for discourses such as Ueshiba's what is needed is not mere translation, but impractical explanation and commentary, like Professor Goldsbury has provided above.

As a further example, I prefer Steven's Essence of Aikido translation of the Shochikubai poem, but both neglect a very real possibility -- that 錬り清めゆく(neri kiyome yuku) is a modifier of 気の仕組 (ki no shikumi). In other words, it could read "The Pine, Bamboo and Plum -- the mechanism of ki that purifies and refines..." Unlike English, Japanese transitive verbs require no specified object, and it's not a given that either "ki no shikumi" or "Shochikubai" must be the object of the purifying and refining.

A further note on "shikumi" -- while Stevens renders it "make-up" and "basis", it's sense is more of "mechanism, working, the nuts-and-bolts". Explicit in the meaning is the sense of variable components working in concert. Of course, I can explain all this, but if demanded to create a somewhat lyrical translation that captures all of this, I doubt I could come up with one. Particularly since Japanese poetry is designed to be vague and evocative, so that no two people will necessarily understand the original in the same way.

Walker
02-18-2009, 11:02 AM
Thanks, Peter and Josh for the idea of "non-phonetic" kana usage. Just another illustration of never assume something in Japanese is "wrong" just because you haven't seen it before.

I don't think I truly understood how rare Budo was. At least English speakers have a translation. I guess that means that as a Japanese speaker one would have to be content with Saito's partial commentary for AikiNews.

Sort of related to that, I wonder if the demand has reached the point where it would be attractive to publishers to go the extra mile and publish more in a bilingual format. Again AikiNews seems to be at the forefront with their reissue of Saito's work. I wonder if the larger market offsets the additional cost.

Erick Mead
02-18-2009, 12:07 PM
Thanks to Prof. Goldsbury for this. I found especially interesting the comments by Goi Sensei. The suggestion that his exposition, if you will, reflects some measure of O Sensei's intent or understanding of the use of images he used, is very helpful. It strikes me as fitting the archetypal psychology of Jung and extended later by his student James Hillman (I highly recommend his "A Terrible Love of War" He explicitly deals with mythological image in the context of budo, in what Goi essentially suggests that O Sensei did implicitly in his discussions.

I have for sometime used that working assumption as a basis for my construction of his images into practical use. This is not the same as interpretting what he said in its Japanese context. Interpretation and construction are closely allied but different processes See e.g. http://lsolum.typepad.com/legaltheory/2009/02/legal-theory-lexicon-interpretation-and-construction.html:

Of course, I can explain all this, but if demanded to create a somewhat lyrical translation that captures all of this, I doubt I could come up with one. Particularly since Japanese poetry is designed to be vague and evocative, so that no two people will necessarily understand the original in the same way.

Interpreting what he said (I am not that competent) yields the images of the narrative, or merely the vignette of the scene or impression in the more poetic modes. Construing the images he selected (once interpreted) yields an insight into the practice of his art with reflection on actual experience in the art. That does not mean that <<IHTBF>> goes away, but it helps explain why all this talk and struggle with his meaning, images and practice is actually accomplishing something in conjunction with what we actually feel in practice.

This is a well understood, if unavoidably contingent, process -- it is teaching from, and thereby extending, the narrative case.

This is more accessible than it seems because the nature of myth is to embody the conceptual in a concrete narrative. Once the narrative is interpreted, it makes the concrete images accessible to non-native speakers. Those can then be construed for similarity of pattern against actual experience for further application.

If this made no sense to do, English speakers would not read Issa's haiku -- but they do -- because they are concrete image and capsule narrative, and very amenable to English speakers. ( I highly recommend this for your daily dose -- and the deluxe version with the Japanese! : http://cat.xula.edu/issa/ ) The Doka are not that different, if taken in this light.

Although this is myth, people often do not realize that concrete narrative is the type of knowledge that is in the legal case in English usage. Argument from cases is quite appropriate -- once we realize that in myth we see a concrete narrative exemplifying principles of action or decision, in the same manner as a legal case. The same has developed in the uses of the business case as a form of study in schools of management, so this is not a merely parochial legal approach.

We draw a principled practical lesson from a mythic narrative as we draw a principled practical lesson from a legal or business narrative (And sometimes demonstrate competing or even contradictory lessons, that nonetheless turn out to be useful in practice) (Political narrative seems similar but is polemical -- this kind of case study is not -- but the politicians like to blur lines -- it's what politicians do, they can't help it)

Cases and myths are near cousins -- In fact some law cases achieve an almost mythic status in some of our important cultural narratives. That illustrates the common nature and sociology of this form of knowledge . It is what we are in the process of doing here.

Allen Beebe
02-18-2009, 12:38 PM
I don't think I truly understood how rare Budo was. At least English speakers have a translation. I guess that means that as a Japanese speaker one would have to be content with Saito's partial commentary for AikiNews.

I assume that this is one of Peter's points. Some folks have Budo in the original or a copy, some have a translation and some have an interpretation (Well actually a translation is an interpretation of sorts.), but, without the author to arbitrate, who knows for sure the precise intent and meaning? (As Peter pointed out, one probably lands a bit closer with Budo and Budo Renshu.) [BTW Doug, you know I have Budo Renshu, Budo, Shinzui and Takemusu all in the Japanese originals if you want more homework . . . heh, heh, heh evileyes !]

However, I agree that folks should have the opportunity to make their own mistakes. Have for a long time. I encouraged Prof. Stevens to parallel print back in the '80's but I don't know how much of this was under in his control anyway.

It isn't surprising that a person of Peter's specific academic background's (Specifically in European Languages relating to religion but also well placed, of extended residency and well educated in Japanese) skin should crawl at the notion of casual hobbyists "thumping" translated text faithfully proselytizing a message that he has concluded cannot be decisively concluded.

Of course some might argue that they need not rely upon text alone. They heard things directly from the source's mouth, or at least their teacher did. However, if this produced a common understanding, why did so many say that O-sensei's dissertations were virtually incomprehensible and why the seeming disparity in interpretation and meaning (especially generationally) why the all fuss?

Peter,

You certainly don't disappoint! I went to bed late again last night . . thanks a lot . . . :rolleyes:

(Do you know your European travel dates yet? If so can you PM me? Things are filling in fast for my itinerary including Europe but I'd still like to coordinate a hook up if possible.)

All the best,
Allen

Walker
02-18-2009, 01:02 PM
BTW Doug, you know I have Budo Renshu, Budo, Shinzui and Takemusu all in the Japanese originals if you want more homework . . . heh, heh, heh evileyes !

Yeah, but do you know which box they're in??? :p

I think I'll stick to my Yoshimoto Banana and my schoolgirl illusions of competence, thank you. :drool:

George S. Ledyard
02-18-2009, 07:29 PM
Of course some might argue that they need not rely upon text alone. They heard things directly from the source's mouth, or at least their teacher did. However, if this produced a common understanding, why did so many say that O-sensei's dissertations were virtually incomprehensible and why the seeming disparity in interpretation and meaning (especially generationally) why the all fuss?

Hi Allen,
This is really why I stated in another article I wrote that it's really hard to say that there has ever been any one thing that constituted some sort of orthodox Aikido.

Shirata Sensei would certainly be considered one of the Aikido Greats but his training was far different than Saotome Sensei's.

People on the mat at precisely the same time saw, heard, and understood what was taught completely based on what they were prepared to see based on their individual natures and natural talents which were clearly quite divergent.

Saotome Sensei tried quite hard to understand the Founder's spiritual teachings while attempting to translate them for his students into something more contemporary.

I have read interviews with other deshi from the same period who said that, at the time, they mostly day dreamed through the lectures and waited their turn at ukemi. Now, after a lifetime of training they've decided they missed something valuable and irreplaceable, regretting that, in their youth they hadn't been ready to hear the message.

Some deshi didn't care then and don't care now.

So whatever we learn about the Founder through the efforts of people like John Stevens. the Bieris, and our own Peter Goldsbury, what we end up understanding will be completely informed by our own practice. You will have a different take on it than I will. Koichi Barrish will have a different take on it than either of us. People with deep backgrounds in non-Aikido arts will have a different take on it all as well.

In the end Aikido will be as we make it. Personally, I want to do an Aikido that O-Sensei would have respected, whatever that is. My studies help me guide my training. But in the end, my Aikido will be mine and no one else's. I don't expect the "fuss" to stop any time in the future. But since the info we have about the Founder keeps increasing, ones perspective can change over time so I don't expect in ten years to understand things the way i do now nor do I think I will understand the Founder the same way either.

Peter Goldsbury
02-18-2009, 08:07 PM
Hello, Josh,

I was hoping that you would make some comments. A few more comments and thoughts of my own.

The necessary rejoinder to this is that children and illiterate people have no problem understanding spoken Japanese, with all of its homonyms. Context is very often quite clear.
PAG. Of course, it is true that native Japanese generally have no problem with the spoken language. But I would think there would be fewer homonyms in play than in literary Japanese. I think it is a matter of degree.

In fact, moving to a system of historical kana usage would likely clear up most of the misunderstandings that would remain. Rather than any necessity for kanji in understanding written Japanese, I believe it's mostly a matter of inertia and tradition. Removing kanji would be a bigger change than English or German spelling reform, and those have not exactly proceeded smoothly. Further, a Japanese-speaking population that learns kanji then has access to the entire history of Japanese writing in its original form. If Japan went to an all kana or all romaji system, it would require the transliteration of the entire corpus of Japanese literature, an undertaking of a scale that I believe would be unprecedented in the history of the world.
PAG. Are you familiar with Mori Arinori, or Shiga Naoya? I am sure you have heard of both, but both pushed for the complete abolition of Japanese. Mori wanted the language replaced by English and Shiga wanted it replaced by French. Mori traveled abroad widely, in the wake of the Meiji Restoration, and made constantly unfavourable comparisons between English, French, German and Japanese. Shiga suggestion came after the Occupation GHQ had considered abolishing kanji. I think the inertia is partly due to the explosive political consequences that would ensue.

I work in two Japanese elementary schools, so I have some experience with this. Actually, this is neither so rote nor so immense as it might seem at first glance. A key thing to understand is that while kanji certainly contain a core meaning, to everyday Japanese they more often represent sounds rather than meaning. Often, when native Japanese make mistakes of kanji, they substitute kanji that sound the same or contain the same phonetic element. Aside from a few simple, core pictographs (e.g., 日, sun, 山, mountain, 水, water, etc.) Japanese children are not taught the meaning of kanji in isolation, but rather as parts of compounds, and as words in context. Kanji themselves are made up of a finite number of commonly appearing components, and children learn to match these components together to make a work, much like English speaking children learn how to match together non-phonetic or pseudo-phonetic combinations of letters to spell. Elementary school children generally only rote copy the kanji out ten times or so, and this is less to impart muscular memory as it is to practice balance and appearance. By the time they go to junior high school, they don't need to spend much time practicing writing new characters -- they can easily break them down into their recognizable components, and remember how to match them back to together again.
PAG. Since I have no experience in teaching Japanese children, this is good to hear. I teach the results of such a system: students who are in their late teens and early 20s. Actually, I am somewhat surprised at their inability to read characters of early postwar texts.

Finally, the majority of Japanese people do not and need not learn upwards of 5,000 characters. By the time they leave high school, they know the 1,945 daily use kanji, plus the 284 kanji commonly used in names, for 2,229 kanji. In the vast majority of media, kanji and terms outside of these will be accompanied by yomigana -- superscript hiragana used to indicate how a kanji is read. (I'm sure you are aware of this, Professor Goldsbury; I'm adding it just as general supplementary information for others.)
PAG. Yes, I am aware, but see my previous comment.

To bring this more on topic, I look at the translations and can't help be frustrated at how much is not translated, or translated poorly. But that does not necessarily reflect on Messrs Stevens and Bieri. Translating even modern Japanese is a difficult, unsatisfying task. More often than not for discourses such as Ueshiba's what is needed is not mere translation, but impractical explanation and commentary, like Professor Goldsbury has provided above.
PAG. Well, I was trained as a classicist and took a very interesting course at Harvard: re-translating Plato into a different style of Greek. For translations to and from Greek, I was taught the importance of keeping to the original as far as possible. For someone like Ueshiba, a detailed commentary of some sort is indispensable.

As a further example, I prefer Steven's Essence of Aikido translation of the Shochikubai poem, but both neglect a very real possibility -- that 錬り清めゆく(neri kiyome yuku) is a modifier of 気の仕組 (ki no shikumi). In other words, it could read "The Pine, Bamboo and Plum -- the mechanism of ki that purifies and refines..." Unlike English, Japanese transitive verbs require no specified object, and it's not a given that either "ki no shikumi" or "Shochikubai" must be the object of the purifying and refining.

A further note on "shikumi" -- while Stevens renders it "make-up" and "basis", it's sense is more of "mechanism, working, the nuts-and-bolts". Explicit in the meaning is the sense of variable components working in concert. Of course, I can explain all this, but if demanded to create a somewhat lyrical translation that captures all of this, I doubt I could come up with one. Particularly since Japanese poetry is designed to be vague and evocative, so that no two people will necessarily understand the original in the same way.
PAG. Yes. I did not spend much attention on the grammar of the doka, but I agree with your interpretation of neri kyome yuku. Actually, going through the text of Ueshiba's discourses in detail with a knowledgeable Japanese native speaker was a very illuminating experience.

Best wishes,

PAG.

Peter Goldsbury
02-18-2009, 08:16 PM
Hello Doug,

I am guessing here, but I suspect that Stanley Pranin had a much closer relationship with Morihiro Saito than with Kisshomaru or Moriteru Ueshiba. I also suspect that very few Japanese who practice aikido have copies of the bilingual commentary. So I think that the Stevens translation is all that the overseas aikido community will get any time soon.

Best wishes,

PAG

I don't think I truly understood how rare Budo was. At least English speakers have a translation. I guess that means that as a Japanese speaker one would have to be content with Saito's partial commentary for AikiNews.

Sort of related to that, I wonder if the demand has reached the point where it would be attractive to publishers to go the extra mile and publish more in a bilingual format. Again AikiNews seems to be at the forefront with their reissue of Saito's work. I wonder if the larger market offsets the additional cost.

Peter Goldsbury
02-18-2009, 09:31 PM
Hello George,

I understand your comments very well, since I have had a number of teachers, all of whom go back to O Sensei (though with varying degrees of closeness to him).

I think that one of the biggest problem with postwar aikido is the question of ideology: what we are supposed to believe about both the art and the person who founded it. Do we follow an organization like the Aikikai Hombu, the IAF or the ASU (with all the problems that organizations can cause), or do we go our own way?

Any large aikido organization will tell you that orthodox aikido can be found at the respective Hombu and satellite organizations--and there only. Thus, for the Aikikai, orthodox aikido is to be found at the Hombu and affiliated organizations (such as the ASU). But this was not enough for some IAF delegates at the last Congress. One delegate in particular wanted a clear and authoritative--and restrictive--statement concerning aikido's uniqueness. He did not receive it and the matter is pending.

Orthodox Aikikai ideology can be found in the vast number of books and DVDs put out by the Hombu Dojo, including the English versions of O Sensei's discourses written by Prof. Stevens. Now, I myself have found / am finding that the 'orthodox' Aikikai ideology has some serious cracks. O Sensei was not, in fact, the kind of person we are expected to believe he was and he did not, in fact, do exactly what we are expected to believe he did.

In Japan, there are two ways (at least) of dealing with this. One is to vote with the feet and leave; the other is to go through mental contortions persuading oneself that it really is orthodox, despite all appearances to the contrary. I know many Japanese aikidoka have have done both. However, I cannot do this. So what I do is to keep the three 'hats' I wear as separate as possible.

In terms of training I see aikido as a much more general 'waza-related' art. I would include in waza everything being done by Akuzawa Sensei, Ushiro Kenji Sensei, Dan Harden and Mike Sigman, insofar as it directly relates to aikido. It is no longer 'sensei' related, at least for me.

In terms of writing / translating, it is to do what Stan Pranin and Ellis Amdur are doing: to present as honest a picture of Morihei Ueshiba and the history of the art, warts and all, as possible.

In terms of leading a large international organization, it is to be a major communication link with Doshu and the Aikikai, in a way that Japanese shihans despatched abroad by the Aikikai, could never be.

Of course, there will be some overlap. For example, people who come to the IAF Congress know very well that I write provocative articles--and have no problem with this.

It is very instructive to compare aikido in this respect with Shorinji Kempo, which is much more centralized than aikido and had a founder who expressed his ideology in a much clearer fashion.

Best wishes,

PAG

Hi Allen,
This is really why I stated in another article I wrote that it's really hard to say that there has ever been any one thing that constituted some sort of orthodox Aikido.

Shirata Sensei would certainly be considered one of the Aikido Greats but his training was far different than Saotome Sensei's.

People on the mat at precisely the same time saw, heard, and understood what was taught completely based on what they were prepared to see based on their individual natures and natural talents which were clearly quite divergent.

Saotome Sensei tried quite hard to understand the Founder's spiritual teachings while attempting to translate them for his students into something more contemporary.

I have read interviews with other deshi from the same period who said that, at the time, they mostly day dreamed through the lectures and waited their turn at ukemi. Now, after a lifetime of training they've decided they missed something valuable and irreplaceable, regretting that, in their youth they hadn't been ready to hear the message.

Some deshi didn't care then and don't care now.

So whatever we learn about the Founder through the efforts of people like John Stevens. the Bieris, and our own Peter Goldsbury, what we end up understanding will be completely informed by our own practice. You will have a different take on it than I will. Koichi Barrish will have a different take on it than either of us. People with deep backgrounds in non-Aikido arts will have a different take on it all as well.

In the end Aikido will be as we make it. Personally, I want to do an Aikido that O-Sensei would have respected, whatever that is. My studies help me guide my training. But in the end, my Aikido will be mine and no one else's. I don't expect the "fuss" to stop any time in the future. But since the info we have about the Founder keeps increasing, ones perspective can change over time so I don't expect in ten years to understand things the way i do now nor do I think I will understand the Founder the same way either.

Allen Beebe
02-19-2009, 12:29 AM
Yo Big G,

I think you'd better back off now, if you know what's best. It's THAT very kind of clap trap that disempowers the right thinking citizens of this world from recognizing the singularity of my eminence in discerning for them WHAT Aikido is and HOW to do it.

Regretfully you are right about the "fuss" continuing as long as individuals, with obviously no knowledge of the TRUTH concerning Aikido, continue to publicly justify their, and other's, ignorance while simultaneously glorifying that very delusion as the "strength" of the Aikido they wish to imbibe.

My followers and I know far too well how it feels to be persecuted and ostracized simply because we refuse to bow down before the fallacious image popularly presented and worshiped as Aikido today. However, this is a burden we bear with pride! No celebrity mass Aikido evangelist or High Mucky Muck representative of the Aikido elite is going to brow beat us into conforming to the lowest common denominator. We only acknowledge and conform to the TRUTH.*

So save your "kokyu" for some gullible "flavor of the day" wannabe, because the those "in the know" ain't hear'n it. Besides . . . you're chaffing my mellow.

All that aside . . . I do love you and recognize that, your very act of wishing to divide us through our "individual interpretations" of the one truth, is a sign that deep down inside you recognize that we truly are one in the Universal. And I pray that one day we will join together and Aiki on the High Plain of Heaven.

Until then . . .

Allen ;) :D

*As defined by me.

Josh Reyer
02-19-2009, 01:14 AM
A little more poetry info that I neglected to put in my post before the edit window closed.

The doka are what's known as tanka, short thirty-one syllable poems that follow a 5-7-5-7-7 pattern. As a result, when doing translations, English translators will often create "lines" like this:
松竹梅 (Sho-chi-ku-ba-i, 5)
錬り清めゆく(ne-ri-ki-yo-me-yu-ku, 7)
気の仕組 (ki-no-shi-ku-mi, 5)
いつここ/ いずこに生るや (i-tsu-ko-ko- / i-zu-ko-ni-na-ru-ya, 7 either way)
身変るの水火 (mi-ka-wa-ru-no-i-ki, 7)

Which is then rendered in English as Stevens does here:
Pine, Bamboo, Plum—
they refine and purify, and
form the basis of ki.
From where do they arise?
In the transformation of fire and water.

However, it must be understood that this is purely an English convention. In Japanese, poems are typically written in one line. Sometimes, they are written in two - the first seventeen, an indentation, and then the last fourteen. In general, the first seventeen will represent a clause or a thought, and the next fourteen will represent a separate clause or thought. For example, this poem by Yosano Akiko:

むねの清水あふれてつひに濁りけり君も罪の子我も罪の子
Mune no shimizu afurete tsui ni nigori keri kimi mo tsumi no ko ware mo tsumi no ko
The pure water of the breast overflows and is at last muddied;
You are a sinful child, and I'm a sinful child, too.

(This poem squeezes six syllables in the first element, rather than five, but this is acceptable.)

IMO, breaking the doka up into 5 lines, as is typically done, can unintentionally lead one to interpret them in a non-idiomatic way. For example, Stevens translation above scans them as Subject (Pine, Bamboo, Plum) + Verb (Refine and Purify) + and Object (the basis of ki). That feels very comfortable in English, but it's not at all natural in Japanese, where word order is free, and objects in particular are marked with particles, particles which are absent in this poem.

George S. Ledyard
02-19-2009, 01:50 AM
So what I do is to keep the three 'hats' I wear as separate as possible.

In terms of training I see aikido as a much more general 'waza-related' art. I would include in waza everything being done by Akuzawa Sensei, Ushiro Kenji Sensei, Dan Harden and Mike Sigman, insofar as it directly relates to aikido. It is no longer 'sensei' related, at least for me.

Here, I was lucky... on the waza side, Saotome Sensei was pretty much all inclusive. He flat out said that Ushiro Sensei and he were doing the same thing. I was always encouraged to train as widely as possible. I did Iaido for a bit, trained with Ellis for a couple years, did a bunch of other minor stuff that wasn't relevant to "aiki" at all but expanded my martial education. All was fine with Sensei. He will, without much provocation, give you quite a lengthy lecture on Aikido having no style. So, I think he would be in basic agreement with you about all of the other teachers you mentioned as falling within what he would call Aikido from a waza standpoint. It is certainly the way I have proceeded for myself.

In terms of writing / translating, it is to do what Stan Pranin and Ellis Amdur are doing: to present as honest a picture of Morihei Ueshiba and the history of the art, warts and all, as possible.

My picture of O-Sensei was formed first and foremost sitting around with Sensei after class back in the seventies. Sensei talked about the Founder and his own experience as an uchi deshi all the time. For us, even though we had never seen the Founder or trained in Japan, it was impossible to picture Aikido without his presence.

Only later did I start to acquire books on the Founder, translations of his writings and talks, articles about him in Aikido Journal, etc. I think the historical research and translation work being done by Stan, Ellis, you and others is very important. It certainly is fascinating.

What I tried to communicate with my statements about "myth" and it's function was to express the sense I always had from the beginning in my own Aikido experience of O-Sensei as a figure somewhat larger than life. All of the uchi deshi I talked to over the years were profoundly effected by the Founder. He was "mythic" more than "mythical" I think. It is this aspect of him that continues to inspire and motivate. To this extent I understand the desire of the Aikikai to promote their own version of the story. My own vision of the mythic figure is a bit different than the one that's official but it is very important to me in my relationship to the art.

In terms of leading a large international organization, it is to be a major communication link with Doshu and the Aikikai, in a way that Japanese shihans despatched abroad by the Aikikai, could never be.

I really think this is extremely important. You are in a position to do a great service to the art. I would like to see a continued relationship between the art of Aikido as practiced world wide and the art in Japan and especially with the Ueshiba family.

I have talked extensively with Francis Takahashi on the subject. He also has a relationship with the family that allows him to communicate things to the doshu which few others get to. It will be the efforts of people like you two which may persuade the folks at Headquarters to see what has been happening overseas a bit more clearly. I think that is needed if ties with the homeland are to be maintained and strengthened as the generation of teachers first sent out by Hombu passes away. I think you are "fighting the good fight" so to speak. Thanks from all of us.

Peter Goldsbury
02-19-2009, 03:29 AM
Hello George,

One or two more comments.


My picture of O-Sensei was formed first and foremost sitting around with Sensei after class back in the seventies. Sensei talked about the Founder and his own experience as an uchi deshi all the time. For us, even though we had never seen the Founder or trained in Japan, it was impossible to picture Aikido without his presence.

What I tried to communicate with my statements about "myth" and it's function was to express the sense I always had from the beginning in my own Aikido experience of O-Sensei as a figure somewhat larger than life. All of the uchi deshi I talked to over the years were profoundly effected by the Founder. He was "mythic" more than "mythical" I think. It is this aspect of him that continues to inspire and motivate. To this extent I understand the desire of the Aikikai to promote their own version of the story. My own vision of the mythic figure is a bit different than the one that's official but it is very important to me in my relationship to the art.

PAG. I think that here in Japan I have been exposed to more of the hagiography than I was before I came here, and this becomes more intense the closer you are to the Hombu Dojo. The founder has been given a role to play and any warts and blemishes which would make him an ordinary man have long disappeared--and this is really the ura-gawa of the 'mythic'. There is a great need for a detailed discussion about omote & ura as applied to the culture in general and I plan at least to start this towards the end of the series of columns (if I am not assassinated before then :D).

I am not, of course, saying that it wrong for the deshi to be profoundly affected by the Founder. Chiba Sensei has said the same thing. However, it is also true that Ueshiba was well into guru status by the time Chiba entered the Hombu Dojo. There is an omote / ura aspect to this status, too. I often wonder what the conversations between Ueshiba and Goi or Odano Sanae (I have Earle's book) were actually like...

I think the problem here is that O Sensei has not been given any middle ground between (a) full aikido sainthood and (b) being a relic of prewar aikido--with all that this implies--that we may revere, but not take seriously today. The Hombu oscillates between (a) and (b) and he is portrayed by John Stevens as a Christlike figure, or like Ghandi. However (this omote version goes), we have moved on since then, of course, because aikido has changed to take account of the times etc etc. But if we read his writings, courtesy of Prof Stevens, we can see that O Sensei's essential message has not changed at all and is exactly the one so tirelessly proclaimed by Kisshomaru Doshu and now by his son.

My gut feeling is that we deserve better than this.

Best wishes,

PAG

sorokod
02-19-2009, 05:22 AM
This is more accessible than it seems because the nature of myth is to embody the conceptual in a concrete narrative. Once the narrative is interpreted, it makes the concrete images accessible to non-native speakers. Those can then be construed for similarity of pattern against actual experience for further application.

I wonder if this is true when applied to kata based learning, where the form concretely embodies the concepts and requires interpretation by the student. With this in mind, there might be less of a gap between the founder lecturing and the founder showing a technique.

Erick Mead
02-19-2009, 08:41 AM
I wonder if this is true when applied to kata based learning, where the form concretely embodies the concepts and requires interpretation by the student. With this in mind, there might be less of a gap between the founder lecturing and the founder showing a technique.I have long considered kata to be a form of physical "case" learning. As I went through law school and began to practically use and extend the principle of case-learning and application in legal practice, I have increasingly seen the kihon waza in just this way -- even down to the adversary structure of the event of conflict described with the outcome well-understood.

What I can say of a legal case I can say of any kihon waza or kata -- The case is not the real lawsuit -- it is the record of what somebody thought was important about that lawsuit. There is much that was missed that seemed perhaps even more important to the parties at the time, but was not ultimately deemed noteworthy, or determinative by the person who recorded the form of the engagement.

George S. Ledyard
02-19-2009, 11:09 AM
But if we read his writings, courtesy of Prof Stevens, we can see that O Sensei's essential message has not changed at all and is exactly the one so tirelessly proclaimed by Kisshomaru Doshu and now by his son.

My gut feeling is that we deserve better than this.

Best wishes,

PAG

I agree wholeheartedly. What we get of O-Sensei is highly filtered. I was lucky to have many first hand accounts from Saotome Sensei but that was from one individual and a small spectrum of the time the Founder was teaching.

Something gets lost when a person starts to attain "mythic" status. I remember talking to Kuroiwa Yoshio Sensei back in the 90's. We were discussing Kisshomaru Ueshiba, the Doshu at the time. He said that "we (he and Kisshomaru) used to go out drinking together. Now he's important." I think Kuroiwa Sensei actually felt sorry for the Doshu because he was trapped by the role.

The problem with the "mythic" aspect of the Founder is that it separates him from us as practitioners. It may be why we started or it may inspire our practice and investigations but it aslo implies that we can't ever attain that level of ability.

The ideas of O-Sensei's spirituality are put out there with little understanding of how he arrived at them. So an understanding of what he really meant is extremely difficult. It's a lot like talking about modern physics. We can discuss certain concepts but really, if you don't have the math, you can't really understand them because they simply aren't really describable using verbal methods.

O-Sensei's views had far more complexity and depth than the existing, out of context, versions allow for. If you don't really understand where his spiritual ideas came from, if you don't have any experience training using the same methods he did, you won't be able to reach a full understanding of the man's teachings.

The academic gaps can be addressed more easily than the experiential ones I think. There simply aren't very many folks around who incorporate much of the training O-Sensei did into their own training regimen. Abe Sensei and his students do, the Shingu folks still do I believe. Rev. Koichi Barrish here in Washington State is doing so. Gleason Sensei runs a week long intensive training every year that focuses on this. But still one has to go out of ones way to get it.

So, in the absence of any way to really get at the Founder's experience as he understood it, we do bounce back and forth between the a) and b) as you stated. In the end how we structure our studies and how we approach our training will shape our understanding. Which is why we will all have our individual ideas about the whole thing. I don't see "general agreement" happening any time soon.

Allen Beebe
02-19-2009, 03:22 PM
Seriously though . . .

O-Sensei's views had far more complexity and depth than the existing, out of context, versions allow for. If you don't really understand where his spiritual ideas came from, if you don't have any experience training using the same methods he did, you won't be able to reach a full understanding of the man's teachings.

. . . this statement, while perfectly reasonable on the surface, implies that the author enjoys a shared perspective originating in the knowledge and experience indicated in the text.

There simply aren't very many folks around who incorporate much of the training O-Sensei did into their own training regimen.

Abe Sensei and his students do, the Shingu folks still do I believe. Rev. Koichi Barrish here in Washington State is doing so. Gleason Sensei runs a week long intensive training every year that focuses on this. But still one has to go out of ones way to get it..

Again, this statement implies a perspective based in proprietary knowledge and experience that allows a) these specific individuals to "incorporate much of the training O-Sensei did" and, b) the statement maker to determine that they do.

So, in the absence of any way to really get at the Founder's experience as he understood it, we do bounce back and forth between the a) and b) as you stated. In the end how we structure our studies and how we approach our training will shape our understanding. Which is why we will all have our individual ideas about the whole thing. I don't see "general agreement" happening any time soon.

This statement seems to stand in direct contrast with the assertions that came before it.

Of course, George, I suspect that our specific opinions share more in common than not. Nevertheless, the subjects of O-sensei's views and experiences seem to be a proverbial tar baby particularly when stated in absolute terms.

This is one particular aspect of appreciation I have for Peter's academic style of presentation. He shares evidence and argues for particular interpretations or conclusions in some (rather few) cases but allows for individuals to do their own "forensic" work and, in a sense, challenges them to draw inferences of their own and defend them in a similarly rigorous manner.

With Respect,
Allen

DH
02-19-2009, 08:13 PM
Nevertheless, the subjects of O-sensei's views and experiences seem to be a proverbial tar baby particularly when stated in absolute terms.

This is one particular aspect of appreciation I have for Peter's academic style of presentation. He shares evidence and argues for particular interpretations or conclusions in some (rather few) cases but allows for individuals to do their own "forensic" work and, in a sense, challenges them to draw inferences of their own and defend them in a similarly rigorous manner.

With Respect,
Allen
Didn't Peter state that he intended to be provocative with these columns? I think its working.:cool:
It is entertaining, and perhaps provocative, yet I see nothing definitive, or even evidentiary presented. Instead it's just more grist for the mill and reasons to think. Allen, I do however agree with you in your comments to George that there certainly exists a significant potential for presumption.

The physical and spiritual
Language and translation for Ueshiba's words needs to combine the understanding of the language for accuracy in translation (of course), but then have the physical skills in order to understand his use of poetry as a code for some tried and true practices inherent in his work. No understanding of the work... and the language, no matter how accurate, is useless, the translation even more so.
Then, on a spiritual level, be able to present an understanding of both the Kotodama and kojiki related materials in their native language-(yes ancient Japanese) and culture- all drawn into Ueshiba's universal views.
Which is why I question whether the man exists who can handle the subject with any degree of credibility or expertise.

I think the entirety of the flowery language that Ueshiba chose to use as a code either by intent or foible is best left to those with expertise in those two divergent aspects;
a) the spiritualism in the Kotodama and the myths of the kojiki
b) be able to demonstrate the physical aspects of bujutsu he was explaining through poetry and analogy. I have been having this discussion of late with Bill Gleason. Bill is currently having his own realizations regarding some previously held views. For various reasons, in the fullness of time I would suspect that Bill's opinions and research may prove (in time) to be the most authoritative in joining the how, where and why these two disparate topics overlap, stand alone, and overall best express Ueshiba's intentions.

Translations of the physical
Case in point of translation problems when the material presented is beyond your abilities to do or understand.
Peters translations models:
When I read Larry's translation I "hear" a more accuarate model I can relate to:
Ushiro-dori wa nikutai no tamashii ni gotai wo gubi seru ichijingaku no hataraki wo nasu yo ni bujutsu no renshu wo suru.
Ushiro-dori demands that you train yourself in Bujutsu until your body, soul (tamashii) and the five senses work as a single integrated personality.

To translate the translation into my own practical English example of what Ueshiba was more probably doing-
I "hear" this….
Rear attacks clearly demonstrate that you cannot succeed if you use your physical senses to respond or need to "get ready for it." If you try to do so you will fail and be "late."
But if you train diligently in bujutsu (notice the term?-Why did he not use bu(do)? ) your body is continually aligned with the five senses (elements) and your are united as one in all aspects of movement up /down, backward / forward, left / right, in and out. Thus without having to "sense" his attack, anything he does is managed by your balanced state and you respond as is needed without preparation as an integrated unit, appropriately balanced, without having to be prompted to get ready to receive or do anything other than respond naturally to an enemy from behind in tune with the enemies efforts."

For this reason I would reject Stevens translation altogether
Through the practice of rear techniques, one learns how to prepare one's mind and body against attacks from all directions, beginning with attacks from behind, and how to handle opponents freely, when an opponent unexpectedly appears from behind, all your senses must be alert, allowing you to discern his movements—this is an important part of bujutsu practice
and place it in the category of just another aikidoka reading something he really doesn't fathom and trying to figure things out through the understanding of more waza training.

IME this quite simply has not a single thing to do with the methods Ueshiba either used or ascribed to, and would point people in the wrong direction for appropriately and effectively manifesting a body that is needed to produce real aiki in their training for Aikido. For translation purposes the key operative phraseology would demonstrate that is not through the "practice" of rear techniques that you develop it but rather just as Larry Beiri more correctly translated; Ueshiba was saying that (to successfully pull off --implied) rear techniques --they demand- you train yourself in the ways of bujutsu (in this case his training in Daito ryu). The reason is in the understanding of how to do it

In various other ways Ueshiba's colorful use of terminology either reflects physical manifestations of bujutsu training of the body such as
1. "Move like a mountain echo" another description of the result of similar training with some additives in training the body to remove slack through frame and breath training. Force-in goes through your body (the source of Ueshiba's other sayings about non-resistance) and the force-in- is "echoed" back out.
2. His use of the term "the divine cross" (in the body). Simple in using the spine -more complex in crossline work involving connecting more tissue mass
3. His use of Takeda's terms-like the idea of 2+8=10 or 4+6=10. The bujutsu body in a state of balance is as he states (continually in motion with the universal order) are a way to train lines up/down in/ out, left/ right expanding contracting. So when any unit of force coming in or out gets added to perfectly to resolve conflict and reach 10.
"Perfectly" is the key operative word here in that ideally one need never extend undo energy and thus unbalance oneself to resolve force.
"10" being the point of balance, means any force can be managed within a bujutsu body by adding to or redirecting with any line of force that is constantly in motion within that trained body, thus reaching resolution and the bujutsu body retaining balance. Yes it does mean the result is the enemy falls down and goes boom.

Upon reading more and more translations and having discussions with Bill I remain convinced, (and he is growing increasingly convinced as well) that the principles in body-use Ueshiba was describing through poetry, analogy and spiritual references in fact align perfectly with Ueshiba's only lengthy study into one of Japan's premier bujutsu, only now combined and expressed with Ueshiba's (new) vision; that violence need not be the end result of the body method (aiki).

So, to me much of Ueshiba's references is only made clear to those who are able to understand and replicate the physical work, and who are also converscent in the kotodama and Kojiki, and ..then can discuss the possible interplay. Even then, I suspect much or most of it shall remain controversial, unresolved and argumentative.

Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
In terms of training I see aikido as a much more general 'waza-related' art. I would include in waza everything being done by Akuzawa Sensei, Ushiro Kenji Sensei, Dan Harden and Mike Sigman, insofar as it directly relates to aikido.

Well I guess I would have to point out that Ueshiba certainly didn't seem to think so.;) Nor do I. In fact I believe he went out of his way to prove the opposite-that "the art was formless" every chance he got. I was teaching in an Aikido dojo last night, Oddly enough this subject came up repeatedly of their own voliton. I think the consensus there was "Oh my god, why would you even worry about waza anymore?" To which I said "I don't!" Or as Bill once stated so clearly "This training will wreak havoc on Aikido as we now know it." Speaking for myself I certainly do not see the substantial portion of the work I do as "waza" or waza related, nor apparently do the aikido teachers and students training with me. I see it as a physical manifistation from an attempt to embody a fully intergrated mind / body and spirit.
So count me out of the waza model. I see the focus on waza as Aikido's biggest flaw. The why of it is well represented in Stevens choice of terminology in translation of a much simpler model extent in the bujutsu Ueshiba studied.
Of course being a bujutsu man as well as an Aikido teacher....Larry...nailed it.

Cheers
Dan

Peter Goldsbury
02-19-2009, 09:07 PM
Well I guess I would have to point out that Ueshiba certainly didn't seem to think so.;) Nor do I. In fact I believe he went out of his way to prove the opposite-that "the art was formless" every chance he got. I was teaching in an Aikido dojo last night, Oddly enough this subject came up repeatedly of their own voliton. I think the consensus there was "Oh my god, why would you even worry about waza anymore?" To which I said "I don't!" Or as Bill once stated so clearly "This training will wreak havoc on Aikido as we now know it." Speaking for myself I certainly do not see the substantial portion of the work I do as "waza" or waza related, nor apparently do the aikido teachers and students training with me. I see it as a physical manifistation from an attempt to embody a fully intergrated mind / body and spirit.
So count me out of the waza model. I see the focus on waza as Aikido's biggest flaw. The why of it is well represented in Stevens choice of terminology in translation of a much simpler model extent in the bujutsu Ueshiba studied.
Of course being a bujutsu man as well as an Aikido teacher....Larry...nailed it.

Cheers
Dan

I think you have misunderstood me. I'm agreeing with you, for heaven's sake.

I very carefully left waza untranslated and especially avoided using the term 'techniques'. There are 166 waza illustrated in Budo Renshu: so it is obvious that Ueshiba used waza in his Daito-ryu at the time. However, the introduction to Budo Renshu, especially the parts I have translated, does not mention the term and the point of the translations was to suggest that the training envisaged in the introduction is in fact much wider then even Bieri suggests. So I wanted a phrase that combines what Ueshiba actually does in Budo Renshu with what he explains in the technical introduction. Since there is no such term in English, I left waza unstranslated.

DH
02-19-2009, 09:24 PM
Hi Peter
Well that's reassuring. :D
So help me out here. Allowing that it isn't what you meant- what did you mean?
I guess I am still struggling with the phrasing. What do you see in what we or I do as all "waza related"? in your original quote? Can you see how Its confusing?
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
In terms of training I see aikido as a much more general 'waza-related' art. I would include in waza everything being done by Akuzawa Sensei, Ushiro Kenji Sensei, Dan Harden and Mike Sigman, insofar as it directly relates to aikido.

However, the introduction to Budo Renshu, especially the parts I have translated, does not mention the term and the point of the translations was to suggest that the training envisaged in the introduction is in fact much wider then even Bieri suggests.
For sure the training is far more broader than Larry may have suggested. But here again was he just being litteral or do you see purposeful deletions or reductions in the translated work? If the balance of it is as it appears in the examples above-I'd default to Larry every time. The directness in the examples from him, did not leave out the essential meaning in my view. And the add-ons (to help?) by Stevens had more wrong than right thus were not really much help in the long run.

I left out many referrences to how to's and more accurate translations for many things mentioned in the column.
Timing is a funny thing. In that same aikdio dojo last night I had at least a couple of them who have been training with me a while doing the Shioda bounce. And back to the translations- here again, I find no relevance to the actual how to's in several of the translations above. These things are difficult enough to lay out in English without a different foundational training-even with hands on. They are many times counter intuative for most people and you need to have training in one thing to do the other. So for those who do not know how it is being done, tryng to grasp the concepts, for something alien to their experience would be almost impossible-now add the language barrier.

Even something as simple as the turn while in place mentioned above does not involve natural movement in turning? It's different. I can't people to do it well with exhaustive hands on -never mind someone having to translate a concept they had never even heard of.

Cheers
Dan

George S. Ledyard
02-19-2009, 09:38 PM
. . . this statement, while perfectly reasonable on the surface, implies that the author enjoys a shared perspective originating in the knowledge and experience indicated in the text.

Again, this statement implies a perspective based in proprietary knowledge and experience that allows a) these specific individuals to "incorporate much of the training O-Sensei did" and, b) the statement maker to determine that they do.

I think I have not been clear enough about my view on this. I include myself in the group that does not have much in the way of the "proprietary" knowledge and experience discussed. Like you I trained with a direct student of the Founder but my own teacher, while talking extensively about his experience training with O-Sensei did not have us duplicate his actual training regimen. So there's no question that I started with nothing more than a sort if "Saotome Ha" Ueshiba experience. And while having its own validity, it could be completely different than your own "Shirata Ha" Ueshiba experience which stand on its own.

While my ideas about these things are a work in progress, thanks to the efforts of folks like Peter, in the end I will probably only be able to speak with any authority about "George Ha Saotome Ryu Ueshiba Aikido" and my personal experience on the mat informs these ideas more than anything else.

As for others, it is only with the objective academic work done by people like Peter G who provide us with constantly evolving perspective on what the Founder did and did not do and say. So there may be folks who are structuring their training to match what they believe the Founder himself did, but that assessment changes as more research is done. So while they do have a sort of proprietary experience that the rest of us may not have, it doesn't mean that their picture of the Founder is true in any final sense either. But I value the input these folks have as it is very different than my own experience.

DH
02-19-2009, 10:03 PM
Edit time ran out
Peter
I understand we agree to the complexities of comparisons of the translation problems-your examples spoke to that.

I was only referrencing you in your "seeing what we do as waza" quote
Cheers
Dan

Allen Beebe
02-19-2009, 10:18 PM
I think I have not been clear enough about my view on this. I include myself in the group that does not have much in the way of the "proprietary" knowledge and experience discussed. Like you I trained with a direct student of the Founder but my own teacher, while talking extensively about his experience training with O-Sensei did not have us duplicate his actual training regimen. So there's no question that I started with nothing more than a sort if "Saotome Ha" Ueshiba experience. And while having its own validity, it could be completely different than your own "Shirata Ha" Ueshiba experience which stand on its own.

While my ideas about these things are a work in progress, thanks to the efforts of folks like Peter, in the end I will probably only be able to speak with any authority about "George Ha Saotome Ryu Ueshiba Aikido" and my personal experience on the mat informs these ideas more than anything else.

As for others, it is only with the objective academic work done by people like Peter G who provide us with constantly evolving perspective on what the Founder did and did not do and say. So there may be folks who are structuring their training to match what they believe the Founder himself did, but that assessment changes as more research is done. So while they do have a sort of proprietary experience that the rest of us may not have, it doesn't mean that their picture of the Founder is true in any final sense either. But I value the input these folks have as it is very different than my own experience.

See? Just as I suspected!

"Our specific opinions share more in common than not."

I too can only feel safe speaking with authority about my own evolving opinions.

With continued respect,
Allen

Josh Reyer
02-19-2009, 10:23 PM
Edit time ran out
Peter
I understand we agree to the complexities of comparisons of the translation problems-your examples spoke to that.

I was only referrencing you in your "seeing what we do as waza" quote
Cheers
Dan

I may be off-base here, but the original quote is "seeing what we do as waza-related" in contrast to "sensei-related". In other words, Professor Goldsbury doesn't see aikido as a sui generis creation of one man, whom must then be emulated (either directly or via a lineage of transmission) in order to be able to do it, but rather as a much broader set of body skills (which is another way of saying "waza") which can be learned from a broad number of disparate teachers, such as Akuzawa, Ushiro, yourself, Sigman, etc.

Allen Beebe
02-19-2009, 11:03 PM
Hi Dan,

It is nice to see you contributing again.

1) I agree with your opinion that Ueshiba was expounding upon, what was for him, at once phenomenal and nouminal reality.

2) I think Josh is right and re-stated Peter's views better than I could.

3) One of the other things that Peter is gently pointing to is something that certainly caught my eye when I first read Budo Renshu. This doesn't appear to be just my understanding but Peter's as well and Mr. Bieri touches upon it in his translation. Along with everything else, Ueshiba provides instruction for those intending *offensively attacking* from behind cautioning those performing such an attack that they may leave themselves vulnerable to reversal if they inadvertently assume they enjoy physical impunity due to the nature of their attack.

The fact that Aikido's founder was providing advisement on how to better assure the success of a surprise attack to a 1935 Japanese martially interested audience via written media shouldn't be too terribly surprising considering at that time he was teaching the same, in person, in multiple venues dedicated to that very pursuit. Certainly most, if not all, of his students of the time were privy to this.

All the best,
Allen

Peter Goldsbury
02-19-2009, 11:11 PM
Hi Peter
Well that's reassuring. :D
So help me out here. Allowing that it isn't what you meant- what did you mean?
I guess I am still struggling with the phrasing. What do you see in what we or I do as all "waza related"? in your original quote? Can you see how Its confusing?
Dan

Well, for a start, there was a context to the first quote (which you shortened anyway), which you did not include.

The entire sentence goes:

"In terms of training I see aikido as a much more general 'waza-related' art. I would include in waza everything being done by Akuzawa Sensei, Ushiro Kenji Sensei, Dan Harden and Mike Sigman, insofar as it directly relates to aikido. It is no longer 'sensei' related, at least for me."

The context was a discussion with George Ledyard on what I called 'orthodox Aikikai ideology', especially orthodox Aikikai ideology that finds its expression in the imitation of some particular Aikikai shihan. So, the training I aim at is 'much more generally "waza-related"', in the sense that it includes more than what is espoused by the orthodox ideology (which is that training consists exclusively in techniques, as shown in the current Aikikai textbooks).

As I stated, I think there is a problem of vocabulary. For example, Kenji Ushiro has a complex progression from kata (型), through to kata (形), involving certain types of waza (技). Again, Ueshiba stated that there were no waza in his art, but gives 166 of them in Budo Renshu. Given that waza has a wider meaning than 'techniques', I would include, for example, the training in body skills that Akuzawa Sensei does.

If you still insist that what you are doing is not waza, that's fine by me. My mistake.

DH
02-20-2009, 12:13 AM
Well, for a start, there was a context to the first quote (which you shortened anyway), which you did not include.

The entire sentence goes:

"In terms of training I see aikido as a much more general 'waza-related' art. I would include in waza everything being done by Akuzawa Sensei, Ushiro Kenji Sensei, Dan Harden and Mike Sigman, insofar as it directly relates to aikido. It is no longer 'sensei' related, at least for me."

The context was a discussion with George Ledyard on what I called 'orthodox Aikikai ideology', especially orthodox Aikikai ideology that finds its expression in the imitation of some particular Aikikai shihan. So, the training I aim at is 'much more generally "waza-related"', in the sense that it includes more than what is espoused by the orthodox ideology (which is that training consists exclusively in techniques, as shown in the current Aikikai textbooks).

As I stated, I think there is a problem of vocabulary. For example, Kenji Ushiro has a complex progression from kata (型), through to kata (形), involving certain types of waza (技). Again, Ueshiba stated that there were no waza in his art, but gives 166 of them in Budo Renshu. Given that waza has a wider meaning than 'techniques', I would include, for example, the training in body skills that Akuzawa Sensei does.

If you still insist that what you are doing is not waza, that's fine by me. My mistake.

Thank you for explaining that Peter. I see what you meant. I also see our possible differences in usage of terms and goals and it helps me understand your references better.

My point of reference for defining Ueshiba and Takeda who both stated the art was formless all ties in with Larry's translation I mentioned earlier.
Framed in a more simplistic model, I believe they were interested much less in what their own specific intentions to "do" any one thing were- But rather they were watching / witnessing / experiencing what was "happening" when their trained unified bodies met- or interacted with anything or anyone. Thus, all the talk about Takemasu and spontaneous birthplace of aiki, the art being formless and based on defense all make sense within that framework.

Said another way, lets imagine or assume they were openly trying to invent an art. This incredible body skill they had developed was so overwhelming when matched with normal people that when normal people touched them all sorts of control mechanisms came to the fore. People grabbed them, they moved, and weird effects occurred causing people's bodies to get magnetically drawn in, controlled, motivated like magic, tossed, locked thrown, etc..
People started writing down, and trying to copy these effects.
These effects became the goal or model
The model was mimicked
The mimic became the diverse, seldom repeated, "techniques."

Hence the explanation for the dichotomy of Ueshiba looking at his guys and saying "the art" has no techniques and is formless and the guys saying "What do you call all that ....stuff?"
Because their bodies were not developed and trained as well, they-could not cause those effects so they "did" techniques. And he was talking miles over their heads.
Of course everyone gets favorite techniques and learns a repetoire of this or that and they share and build on them. but that's not the main point.

Waza
I would look at waza more in line with recorded rules of road. Lets take a body part as an example. When forces act on a shoulder, the shoulder does certain things, Lets call it learning the shoulder or as my teacher said the "wisdom of the shoulder." When someone grabs you, hits you, tries to throw you, and you move, it causes certain effects in the shoulder for anatomical reasons that are known. However, the way they react to you and your newly trained body is not the same as the way they react to some new guy who tries to copy the effect he just witnessed. But for you, you see and notice what your teacher told you about "the straights" all acting that way when you do this or that -is true- that "hey they all do that!" So while you are not really focused on doing something to the guy..it happens in a manner you are used to feeling and seeing- yet that effect is never your own goal. In the fullness of time you get increasingly used to your movements causing this stuff to happen. Yet..when you play with Judoka somehow they throw different, you play with X Y or Z art they act different. You? You're just still moving the way your connected body moves.
Again this increasingly enhanced body becomes the birthplace of all techniques without you thinking much of doing them.
Now, with no training of the mind / body connections- all of those poetic and colorful terms like piercing the heavens, the divine cross of aiki, aiki in yo ho, heaven earth man...have little to no meaning and people then have no clue as to what this all means.
Everything becomes mimic or technique based.

IME What I just said and just described is the logic behind the evolution of Ueshiba and "his" Aikido and the reason many didn't understand what they were seeing and feeling.
Today, the whole mindset of this type of training is opposite of most peoples experience, they don't have the body for it so they cannot "find" it. Hence technique based.training under one teacher or another.
Cheers
Dan

Peter Goldsbury
02-20-2009, 03:17 AM
Hello Dan,

One of the problems in approaching Morihei Ueshiba is that much of what he is supposed to have said has been published only in translation and it is a pity that there are no bilingual versions of any collections of his discourses in print. The Bieri translation of Budo Renshu would be too expensive reprint, certainly in the original format. So we have Prof Stevens, who gives an interpretation of what he thought Ueshiba might well have meant, which then, in the hands of some AikiWeb posters, becomes an authoritative statement of what he actually said.

There are other ways of approaching Ueshiba, but the way I have chosen here is to start from the Japanese text, and then see how far we get. This is the 'evidence'. A useful comparison with the two translations allows one to see what they left out, what they 'edited', what they thought was perhaps too difficult. So, for example, all the vocabulary on the soul, originally from omyodo, is missing--and this vocabulary still makes a lot of sense to the average Japanese I know here in Hiroshima.

I know that Larry Bieri and John Stevens are budoka, but this is a two-edged sword when approaching a text like Ueshiba's. Sure, they have a closer 'technical' idea of what he means than the average non-budoka Japanese, but I also suspect that they see things in the text that the budoka misses, especially the Japanese who is familiar with the Japanese of Ueshiba's vintage.

For example, Ueshiba writes waza in two ways: 技 and 業. The word has nine meanings in the Kojien. In modern Japanese the characters are not really interchangeable--and for both of the budo / bujutsu-related meanings, the preferred character is 技. But this does not appear to be the case for Ueshiba, who writes ushiro waza as 後業 in the Budo Renshu text. Of course, we really need to compare the Budo Renshu & Budo texts with all the other discourses and also with contemporary usage. This would take much time, which I suspect that neither the Bieris or John Stevens had.

Best wishes,

PAG

DH
02-20-2009, 10:13 AM
Hello Dan,

One of the problems in approaching Morihei Ueshiba is that much of what he is supposed to have said has been published only in translation and it is a pity that there are no bilingual versions of any collections of his discourses in print. The Bieri translation of Budo Renshu would be too expensive reprint, certainly in the original format. So we have Prof Stevens, who gives an interpretation of what he thought Ueshiba might well have meant, which then, in the hands of some AikiWeb posters, becomes an authoritative statement of what he actually said.

There are other ways of approaching Ueshiba, but the way I have chosen here is to start from the Japanese text, and then see how far we get. This is the 'evidence'. A useful comparison with the two translations allows one to see what they left out, what they 'edited', what they thought was perhaps too difficult. So, for example, all the vocabulary on the soul, originally from omyodo, is missing--and this vocabulary still makes a lot of sense to the average Japanese I know here in Hiroshima.

For example, Ueshiba writes waza in two ways: 技 and 業. The word has nine meanings in the Kojien. In modern Japanese the characters are not really interchangeable--and for both of the budo / bujutsu-related meanings, the preferred character is 技. But this does not appear to be the case for Ueshiba, who writes ushiro waza as 後業 in the Budo Renshu text. Of course, we really need to compare the Budo Renshu & Budo texts with all the other discourses and also with contemporary usage. This would take much time, which I suspect that neither the Bieris or John Stevens had.

Best wishes,

PAG

Hi Peter
What you describe is a real morass. While compelling, What method is available by which the only evidence we use (the actual written words he said) can become definitive? Your comment on "Comparing the test with other discourses and with contemporary usage" is of course a requirement for study but it has not availed much in the past by way of useful information for aikidoka to understand Ueshiba's path or method.
Were one to be seriously considering reading Ueshiba and understanding the material than reading his other discourses and comparing to contemporary sources?- Then I would suggest it would be wise to move the study past Ueshiba and incorporate other bujutsu that were "contemporary to him" in his time and form a frame of reference for some common understanding that existed in his time. This-may in fact offer a key in decifering his words "in their time." Something which I have not seen much of.

At any rate I attempted to offer a further twist for consideration. That the study of any material offered (the discounting of it's providence not considered) is in itself further complicated due to the fact that the translater is unfamiliar with the body of work they are attempting to discuss-Ueshiba's actual training method and goals. For that reason alone it would be wise(er) to stick with the most accurate word-for-word translation possible and put that out there for those who may actually have a better handle on the physical skills and concepts Ueshiba was advocating. Being that it has become even more obvious of late that there exists a body of work within the art of aikido that most in the art are unaware of --it is indeed -as you stated- a double edge sword. Budo men who just happen to be conversant in the language may be staged to just offer more confusion-not less.

I know that Larry Bieri and John Stevens are budoka, but this is a two-edged sword when approaching a text like Ueshiba's. Sure, they have a closer 'technical' idea of what he means than the average non-budoka Japanese, but I also suspect that they see things in the text that the budoka misses, especially the Japanese who is familiar with the Japanese of Ueshiba's vintage.

Budoka, expertise, and two edge swords
Yes, In this we agree completely. I made an argument for being concerned with what they actually "see" and what they just think they "see."
I was asking folks to consider if the translations should be severely restricted so that they do not end up interpreting instead of simply translating the text of a body of material that by and large may be over their heads. While you might see an innate ability from men who happen to be in Budo- I see potential trouble. I have my own experience with some Koryu experts who have run into trouble "translating" the ancient Japanese in their own "technically" oriented densho, and more recent experiences with a person (we both know) who is very well versed in the materials and subject you are discussing here and who is also an accomplished Aikidoka. Some have considered both his work and his skills to be a rather serious study of both the material surrounding Ueshiba's belief and his physical art. I had asked you in a previous post to consider that he is now reconsidering much of what he thought --he- understood (due to his recent encounter with what he considers is most likely Ueshiba's actual training method) of the various text he has translated. To wit; that the method and what it is doing to his body and his Aikido seems to logically match up with much of the cryptic texts he has spent half his life muddling through and "translating." In that sense the entire concept of waza-as I suggested previously- might be erroneous from the start. As Ueshiba's entire framework for the origin of movement and interaction may be anathema to a…modern budo man reading his words.

For my own purposes- I would be more interested in a word for word translation rather than an interpretation and guess work. The poems and flowery lingo -as they are -have a real basis in physical training to me and could even be taught literally along with hands-on instruction of how to move and interact.

I think you are onto something in that the column truly highlights some glaring errors in prior work that many, if not most took as fact.
Thank you so much for your time.
Cheers
Dan

Peter Goldsbury
02-20-2009, 05:05 PM
Hi Peter
What you describe is a real morass. While compelling, What method is available by which the only evidence we use (the actual written words he said) can become definitive? Your comment on "Comparing the test with other discourses and with contemporary usage" is of course a requirement for study but it has not availed much in the past by way of useful information for aikidoka to understand Ueshiba's path or method.
Were one to be seriously considering reading Ueshiba and understanding the material than reading his other discourses and comparing to contemporary sources?- Then I would suggest it would be wise to move the study past Ueshiba and incorporate other bujutsu that were "contemporary to him" in his time and form a frame of reference for some common understanding that existed in his time. This-may in fact offer a key in decifering his words "in their time." Something which I have not seen much of.
Dan

Good morning, Dan, (Out here it is 8 o'clock and I have just had breakfast.)

Agreed. There is some work being done in Japanese, but it is not of good quality. With regard to Ueshiba, I think that what you are doing, out in Massachusetts, and what I am doing, here in Hiroshima, should go hand in hand, and if Hiroshima were not so far away, you would have someone else knocking on your door.

Best wishes,

PAG

DH
02-20-2009, 05:26 PM
Good morning, Dan, (Out here it is 8 o'clock and I have just had breakfast.)

Agreed. There is some work being done in Japanese, but it is not of good quality. With regard to Ueshiba, I think that what you are doing, out in Massachusetts, and what I am doing, here in Hiroshima, should go hand in hand, and if Hiroshima were not so far away, you would have someone else knocking on your door.

Best wishes,

PAG
Hi Peter
Oh I suspect we would have us some fun.

You know another interesting aspect I am starting to rethink is this.
Maybe Ueshiba was actually trying to say more than most have given him credit for, and was teaching those aspects as well.
What if
He was more than "the crazy ro angry old dude" or 'the saint" some have assigned him to play. What if he had vision for passing along his "vision?"
What if
He saw the difficulties in trying to pass along some difficult concepts-both spiritual and physical and knew he needed a means to have it last past the foibles of those directly under him.
What if
With forethought and planning he created a language of metaphor, poetry, and analogy to preserve those concepts? As a preacher friend once said to me, "How come they remember their favorite songs- but forget my sermon as soon as they're out the door?" Poetry and music lasts and can present a picture "stuck in time" and pure against the ages. Think of it. I read it today and it makes perfect sense to me –today- with what I am doing

Training and what he was teaching. As you know I was showing some things and up comes this person who had trained with Ueshiba and says, "That’s Ueshibas Aikido, they don't do that anymore, it's not in modern aikido.” Okay fine. How did they know that?
To those who say Ueshiba never taught this stuff...I ask
How did that person know and recognize it right away?
What if
Ueshiba “was” teaching it but most didn't want or care to do it they were caught up in waza. Didn't the old man say it over and over? "That's not my aikido!" How many times do we read and see references to pushing and testing with a myriad of students? Just recently I had the opportunity to talk to yet another DR student about the various solo training HIS teacher taught him and others he had learned from another DR teacher. What did he say? "Most guys just didn't want to do it!"
Maybe, just maybe the reasons it is hard to find what Ueshiba was practicing in much of the aikido practiced today...was not his fault after all.
Cheers
Dan

Erick Mead
02-20-2009, 07:23 PM
@ PAG

I wonder what, in light of this discussion, you think of the utility of the Sugawara edition with Bieri's parallel "functional" translation side by side with the more "literal" translation (I don;t have it to hand as I am travelling but I believe my edition also has the written Japanese -- (kana + romaji). It seems to answer closest to Dan's desire for the "word for word. However, it also seems a bit problematic for his proposed thesis that the set-piece waza were a "mistaken" aspect -- because those poetic/mythic images are cheek by jowl with the depictions of the set-piece waza -- and have been apparently so conjoined since they were originally published together in 1933, as I understand it. It certainly allows one to tentatively conclude they were intended to be construed together.

Since I view the poetic/mythic language as a means for describing mainly subjective impressions in nonetheless concrete or narrative terms, the pairing seems entirely complementary. If there anything from the native understanding that makes this construction of the work unreasonable or unsupportable?

DH
02-20-2009, 09:28 PM
@ PAG
.....It seems to answer closest to Dan's desire for the "word for word. However, it also seems a bit problematic for his proposed thesis that the set-piece waza were a "mistaken" aspect -- because those poetic/mythic images are cheek by jowl with the depictions of the set-piece waza -- and have been apparently so conjoined since they were originally published together in 1933, as I understand it. It certainly allows one to tentatively conclude they were intended to be construed together.

Since I view the poetic/mythic language as a means for describing mainly subjective impressions in nonetheless concrete or narrative terms, the pairing seems entirely complementary. If there anything from the native understanding that makes this construction of the work unreasonable or unsupportable?
Eric
It isn't a question of whether or not they went together. The placement of the text to define a principle expressed in a "set-piece" waza does not make the principle singular in use. Nor does it mean the training (sometimes implied other times described) involved a waza specific end use.

Case in point is to read Peter's long evolutionary description of training…for preparedness. Then review where I outlined and expanded on his ideas as a means to manage force-in from any side. If you know what the training is that he is implying in the "set-piece" it is paramount and is just as viable for force from any direction. In fact it is displayed in other areas in the book. Ueshiba's discussion of the training required --in my view- was to express something along these lines; (and I could see him verbalizing it as he did so)
Regarding rear attacks.
"See these types of attacks demand this type of training…..nothing else will do. You cannot see behind you- so your spirit must be full and fully integrated with your body to always be "on" so that you can handle that attack on contact-in an instant." This has to do with maintained and opposing lines of intent and the conditioned bujutsu body it creates and the effect that has on a another body. And it's pointless in discussing it if you don't already do it. Again, it just means that the people who have trained in waza based methods (which is most everyone) and who tackle the translation of the work are simply flumoxed and need a decoder to understand what Ueshiba was saying.

As a model for training? I would venture that there are a hundred or so men here, who by now, know exactly what Peter and I am talking about and do this type of training as a regular practice. I know from phone calls and emails today regarding this column that they were surprised by Peters exhaustive attempt to define the differences, and delighted to be able to read this and understand the discussion completely.
So the concept of "set-piece" waza with non singular descriptions of body skills in use not only makes perfect sense to them, it is their preferred method of training. It makes perfect sense to them, as well.
And I have not touched on Ueshiba's exhaustive discourses which clearly and repetitively "define" the concept that both Peter and I are trying to portray here-that "the art is formless." and "Aiki is without form"
Nor have I discussed the well established provenance of it and from whom we all know that saying came.

In the fullness of time, a more litteral translation will serve those who actually train the way Ueshiba had been describing and aid them in a deeper understanding of what the founder was trying to say. Further, If those men can train with others who understand the language of the more spiritual aspects then I believe that for the first time a more fully realized picture of Ueshiba as a complete artists will finally be revealed.
We have seen where placing it in the hands of kata oriented people has gotten us. I'm up for a different take on him.
Cheers
Dan

Josh Reyer
02-20-2009, 10:29 PM
For my own purposes- I would be more interested in a word for word translation rather than an interpretation and guess work.

Word-for-word, while conceivable for Latin and particularly Germanic-derived languages, is impossible for Japanese to English. Not only is the grammar and idiom too disparate, you run into the problem of what words to use.

Erick Mead
02-20-2009, 11:17 PM
It isn't a question of whether or not they went together. The placement of the text to define a principle expressed in a "set-piece" waza does not make the principle singular in use. Nor does it mean the training (sometimes implied other times described) involved a waza specific end use.
Who said that it was singular? It is infinite. The disconnect here is in establishing what is meant in setting forth a particular exemplar as against a holistically but subjectively perceived whole, : a four note passage -- not a symphony; a cross-section, not a whole salami.

When I speak of "case" as a tutelary method (and suggest that "waza" are an example of this type of more general form of learning) -- waza is a term given to me -- not one chosen, just as Peter suggests. To assume that a "waza" or any set of "waza" IS Aiki is the height of foolishness, nor have I remotely maintained such. Case study works , but no one who has studied four or five or a hundred cases thinks that he really understands "the law" by virtue of those slices of the whole salami. After enough slices he gains a sense of the grain and variations in "salami" pattern -- not consciously -- intuitively, reflexively. The pattern in the cases instinctively gained in repetitions with variations (no one said waza were invariable or new waza could not be used to illustrate the same principles -- we do all the time). The pattern reveals itself in anything else to which it pertains so he can act reflexively, if needed in following the inherent pattern instinctively.

Waza considered as case study is an illustration -- and useful tool provided by the Founder -- a provision I am bound to respect and observe -- and to find how HE made THAT work and intended for it to work. The fact that others did not find that way to make it work or work as well does not excuse me. Nor does it demean others, like you who seek or have found other ways. I undertake my sense of observance freely -- and I have no basis to cease observing it -- nor to judge any who do not feel so bound, because the are equally free to reject or modify that observance.

Case in point is to read Peter's long evolutionary description of training…for preparedness. ...."See these types of attacks demand this type of training…..nothing else will do. You cannot see behind you- so your spirit must be full and fully integrated with your body to always be "on" so that you can handle that attack on contact-in an instant." This has to do with maintained and opposing lines of intent and the conditioned bujutsu body it creates and the effect that has on a another body. But what you are doing is simply substituting your words intended to create a concrete image of a subjective perception for HIS words intended to accomplish the same thing. I prefer to use mechanics when I do that (and some biomechanics) for similar purposes. While I don't challenge your approach, and I have nothing against it -- it is not that path of construction of HIS intent that I have taken. And "intent" is really the wrong word there. His "chosen form of expression" is closer to the mark.

And as I think we, between us, have demonstrated, "lost in translation" is not limited to Japanese or even bilingual interpretation. Conventions and systems of description can be devilishly hard to fit to one another in the same language -- so hard that even Peter has to mention the ubiquitous "IHTBF." I don't disagree, but it also has to be articulated in concept, Ueshiba clearly also felt that need. There are as many different styles of articulating, concretely, subjectively perceived realities of objectively effective actions or events, as there are styles of poetry or tales of myth, and equally a matter of often strong distinctions in taste.

...it just means that the people who have trained in waza based methods (which is most everyone) and who tackle the translation of the work are simply flumoxed and need a decoder to understand what Ueshiba was saying.I've been using the mode of construction that Goi suggested long before Peter related it, and written a fair bit in that mode.

As a model for training? I would venture that there are a hundred or so men here, who by now, know exactly what Peter and I am talking about and do this type of training as a regular practice. So the concept of "set-piece" waza with non singular descriptions of body skills in use not only makes perfect sense to them, it is their preferred method of training. It makes perfect sense to them, as well.
And I have not touched on Ueshiba's exhaustive discourses which clearly and repetitively "define" the concept that both Peter and I are trying to portray here-that "the art is formless." and "Aiki is without form" I cannot disagree. It is not without a defining shape, throughout, wherever and however you slice it, however. 理, ri or 木目mokume, 条理 jouri Waza are simply the cut revealing one dimension of grain

We have seen where placing it in the hands of kata oriented people has gotten us. I'm up for a different take on him. Give a man a submarine -- he may assume its a boat because nobody told him what it was really for. People who thought the waza are the art, were and always have been wrong. People who see the waza, properly used, as a way into the art, are not wrong (Budo Renshu shows that much), even if they have done it badly or with ill-advice in the premises. Even if you truly believe a better way exists. Baby & bathwater. Nothing can be all things to all people.

Peter Goldsbury
02-21-2009, 12:18 AM
Word-for-word, while conceivable for Latin and particularly Germanic-derived languages, is impossible for Japanese to English. Not only is the grammar and idiom too disparate, you run into the problem of what words to use.

The reason why I spent so much time quoting whole paragraphs of Japanese--and then breaking everything down into manageable segments, was to show how difficult it is to match Japanese and English word-for-word, or to give a translation that some would call 'literal'.

On the other hand, there is a need for something that is closer to the original than we have now.

Of course, I know that Josh is aware of this, so this is meant as a general observation, not as a response to Josh's post.

Walker
02-21-2009, 01:48 AM
Perhaps that is the next other elephant in the room Dan -- men who are really serious about the training will need more than the techniques, more than the solo training, more than the weapon component, they will need to knuckle down and learn the language (antiquated Japanese) so they can read the words and understand the meaning of the message.

Most won't be willing to do the work that will be necessary.

(Oh, and then there is the psycho-religious technology, the next next other elephant.)

[and below that it's turtles all the way]

George S. Ledyard
02-21-2009, 02:03 AM
I may be off-base here, but the original quote is "seeing what we do as waza-related" in contrast to "sensei-related". In other words, Professor Goldsbury doesn't see aikido as a sui generis creation of one man, whom must then be emulated (either directly or via a lineage of transmission) in order to be able to do it, but rather as a much broader set of body skills (which is another way of saying "waza") which can be learned from a broad number of disparate teachers, such as Akuzawa, Ushiro, yourself, Sigman, etc.

I think we need to be clear about the distinction between "aiki" and Aikido. Kuroda, Akuzawa, Ushiro, Mike S, Dan H, Toby Threadgill, Don Angier, etc all do arts that are based on "aiki". None of them do Aikido (although some of them have done so in the past).

The Founder gave Aikido a certain form as a foundation for training. He created a certain way of training. All this was distinct from what had gone before. In that sense Aikido was the creation of an individual, Morihei Ueshiba. While having a fair amount of room within its boarders for stylistic variation, personal approach, etc If one strays too far from the form created by the Founder it's not Aikido any more. It might be great Aiki. In fact it might be better "aiki" than what the Aikido folks are doing, but it's still not Aikido.

DH
02-21-2009, 07:10 AM
Perhaps that is the next other elephant in the room Dan -- men who are really serious about the training will need more than the techniques, more than the solo training, more than the weapon component, they will need to knuckle down and learn the language (antiquated Japanese) so they can read the words and understand the meaning of the message.
Most won't be willing to do the work that will be necessary.
(Oh, and then there is the psycho-religious technology, the next next other elephant.)

Interesting and I agree.
There are however several possible permutations to that
Example: What if the reverse were true?
1. What if you have highly accomplished Aikido men who are well versed in the language, became versed in the old archaic Japanese, became versed in the concepts espoused by Ueshiba and then pursued an education of those concepts in context of the culture itself so that they would better understand Ueshiba? Then...they started to make a study of the physical concepts of aiki that Ueshiba himself explored?
I would say that would make those men poised to become a seriously authoritative voice on understanding a more complete Ueshiba, and more complete aikido and to be seriously daunting in the physical execution of their understanding.
Do these men exist?
Where are they?
What are- they- doing?

Lets consider Josh's idea

Josh writes: Professor Goldsbury doesn't see aikido as a sui generis creation of one man, whom must then be emulated (either directly or via a lineage of transmission) in order to be able to do it, but rather as a much broader set of body skills (which is another way of saying "waza") which can be learned from a broad number of disparate teachers, such as Akuzawa, Ushiro, yourself, Sigman, etc.
Ueshiba didn't see it as sui generis either. He was pointing to a path that he believed was established. He continued to talk about what the way of aiki was, and was far less concerned with an established fixed form; 1…2…3.
The idea of Ueshiba's way of aiki goes far beyond a physical form of kata. By its nature it was meant to incorporate the mind / spirit/ /body to the point of making the practitioner a channel for the gods. He himself thought he was a channel. To that end he was very much concerned with the idea that each person had to seek out his own path to enlightenment. To make their way of aiki- their own. If you really get to the heart of this belief system it becomes impossible for there to ever be ONE AIKIDO. In fact the notion of THE ONE AIKIDO is anathema to everything Ueshiba was pointing to in the first place. It simply must be an individual focus and path or it ceases to be valid in the first place. As he said over and over "You must make it your own."

I do not believe that Ueshiba ever intended the art to be a formalized martial pursuit. Just as Judo got dragged into sport competition-much to the dismay of Kana...I wonder if Aikido got dragged into what it is today...much to the dismay of Ueshiba?
As I continue to meet teachers of the art with decades of experience they disagree with this idea of a fixed form that "is" aikido-so do I.

Be that as it may, we are concerning ourselves here with trying to understand -Ueshiba's- intentions not someone else's-not even that of his Deshi. It seems clear by Ueshiba's own directives that Aiki was formless and the the study of the way of aiki...do was to have been an expression of that mind/ body/ spiritual union. His waza demonstrated his rejection of a form, his words supported that at every turn. In fact even a reasonable study of his life and his physical actions defies any notion of a fixed form in any manner. The way is not in the form or in the forming and formalizing of them. He was actively trying to rid himself of the trap of thinking in or of forms.

This brings me back to Peter's column and my response of the Poetry and the language Ueshiba used to convey his wishes for aikido. It is well known that he stood in rooms and talked and showed things and his students were lost. Unable to grasp the concepts being discussed they many times wrote him off and just wanted to practice. I was reminded of this last week when I was teaching two aikido teachers. One of whom said to the group at break. "I have never even heard of this material before. I don't understand it, even with it being explained in plain English. I am lost."
I mention this to again highlight that it is more than probable that Ueshiba was -in fact- trying to communicate, (and it appears he was successful with some people) but that the entire model; the physical and the spiritual was so alien to the young men and other accomplished Budo men that were training with him that they were lost.
I am not surprised then to see Ueshiba write down some concepts in poetic form, so that they remained locked, inaccessible to the athletic fighters and hobbyist that were sure to come. They remained a beacon for the rare few that were like him.

Peter used the bible in several passages. I am reminded of Christ telling his followers "you are not ready to hear what I have to say." So he told them a story of a man who owned an orchard, who hired workers at dawn and agreed to pay X dollars, then hired workers at lunch but offered them the same as the workers who started at dawn, then 5 minutes before closing he offered new workers the same amount of money for 5 minutes work. When the other workers complained the owner said I made a deal with each of you and to each I kept my word. So it is with the Kingdom of heaven….." He was trying to explain grace and unmerited forgiveness handed out to each but in a culture deeply inculcated in eye for an eye and guilt. What did he use to keep his message clean? Analogies and parables-stories locked in time,
Why? Because even those who walked with him…repeatedly asked him questions demonstrating clearly that….they didn't get it.
No I am not comparing Ueshiba to Christ. Not even close. I am using an example for communication through analogy, poetry, or parable used to "lock concepts in place" and keep them from being mucked up by followers and do gooders who corrupted the message later.
Thankfully Christ's words lived past that generation for future followers to unlock.
So did Ueshiba's.
Although some look at the thousands doing aikido and call it Ueshiba's Aikido? I have never thought that to be true. In fact I think it's glaringly obvious that it is NOT true at all.
Cheers
Dan
"Aiki…happens"

DH
02-21-2009, 07:40 AM
I think we need to be clear about the distinction between "aiki" and Aikido. Kuroda, Akuzawa, Ushiro, Mike S, Dan H, Toby Threadgill, Don Angier, etc all do arts that are based on "aiki". None of them do Aikido (although some of them have done so in the past).

The Founder gave Aikido a certain form as a foundation for training. He created a certain way of training. All this was distinct from what had gone before. In that sense Aikido was the creation of an individual, Morihei Ueshiba. While having a fair amount of room within its boarders for stylistic variation, personal approach, etc If one strays too far from the form created by the Founder it's not Aikido any more. It might be great Aiki. In fact it might be better "aiki" than what the Aikido folks are doing, but it's still not Aikido.
Hi George
I don't think any of those named think they are doing aikido either. And considering the level of discourse in the thread...I think everyone here knows that.;)
I don't agree about there being an aikido "form" though And aiki? I and most (or maybe all I dunno) other aikido teachers who train here might argue with you all the day long whether or not the means and training methods -I-do produces aikido's "aiki" and works seemlessly in the art. But that's neither here nor there and best left for another thread or cold beer.
Dan

Fred Little
02-21-2009, 08:18 AM
[and below that it's turtles all the way]

Pecan? Or Walnut?

Dark or Milk Chocolate?

Feel free to regard this note as either a pointless digression, a wry meditation on the nature of translation, a commentary on the mental state that leads discussants (myself included) to engagement with this subject, or some yet woolier and irreducible combination of all of the above.


Best,

Fred Little

aikilouis
02-21-2009, 08:38 AM
Just a quick note to add that we often overlook the fact that Morihei Ueshiba was already a grown up man when he started training with Sokaku Takeda. In 1915 he was already 32 and had participated in a war. In my opinion from very early on he had enough maturity to reflect on the meaning of his budo training, in terms of personal discovery (physical, psychological, ethical).

He also had access to a very charismatic man, Onisaburo Deguchi, which has probably helped him expand his range of expression, from purely functional technical advice to poetry, as his own researches and discoveries were getting more and more difficult to explain.

Peter Goldsbury
02-21-2009, 08:53 AM
Hello Fred,

お久し振りでございます。Or, more formally, 長い御無沙汰致します。

How about the translations etc?

Best,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
02-21-2009, 09:04 AM
Hello Ludwig,

Understood, but what do you actually do, when you have to translate O Sensei's discourses into German? Do you give up, because O Sensei's Japanese is too difficult to explain / ineffable to translate? Or do you take the hint from your forbears, who translated Shakespeare into (I believe) excellent German?

Very best wishes,

PAG

Just a quick note to add that we often overlook the fact that Morihei Ueshiba was already a grown up man when he started training with Sokaku Takeda. In 1915 he was already 32 and had participated in a war. In my opinion from very early on he had enough maturity to reflect on the meaning of his budo training, in terms of personal discovery (physical, psychological, ethical).

He also had access to a very charismatic man, Onisaburo Deguchi, which has probably helped him expand his range of expression, from purely functional technical advice to poetry, as his own researches and discoveries were getting more and more difficult to explain.

aikilouis
02-21-2009, 10:20 AM
Hi Professor,

My remark was obviously not directed at you (you do a great job with your essays and I'm certain you are already aware of O Sensei's age when he wrote his different pieces), it was more a general word of caution about interpreting Kaiso's words.

I have the impression that his poetic style could easily be seen as the reflection an overly idealistic and naive vision of reality, and for that reason his writings could be dismissed by some practitioners.

Also, I simply emit the hypothesis that his chosen mode of expression is the result of, if not a consciously deliberate choice, at least of a deep maturing process.

Having translated a few articles and interviews into french for AikidoJournal, I am aware of the traditional "traduttore, tradittore" (translator/traitor) dilemma. Your present column seems to indicate the japanese language poses its own problems, especially in the case we're discussing.

Hope I made myself slightly clearer.

Best,
Ludwig

PS : my mother language is French, and my German is awful :)

George S. Ledyard
02-21-2009, 12:16 PM
Hi George
I don't think any of those named think they are doing aikido either. And considering the level of discourse in the thread...I think everyone here knows that.;)
I don't agree about there being an aikido "form" though And aiki? I and most (or maybe all I dunno) other aikido teachers who train here might argue with you all the day long whether or not the means and training methods -I-do produces aikido's "aiki" and works seemlessly in the art. But that's neither here nor there and best left for another thread or cold beer.
Dan

Hi Dan,
I put a response up on the Training forum so this wouldn't drift.
- George

dps
02-22-2009, 07:32 AM
Professor Goldsbury,

What is your opinion of the following thoughts.:

.1. The illness and death of O'Sensei's father as a major influence in changing his budo(?) journey from a search for maximum martial effectiveness to an expression of his religious beliefs.

2. An ongoing change in usage and meaning of the words he used, because of the ongoing developement of his religious thoughts, as a source of confusion to his students.

David

DH
02-22-2009, 11:27 AM
Hi Dan,
I put a response up on the Training forum so this wouldn't drift.
- George
Hi George
I am extremely hesitant to discuss anything on the general forum. What frequently is debated and questioned endlessly- somehow magically ends in about a minute and half in person. I'm tired of debating both what aiki is and what it can do with someone who is incapable of demonstrating anything other than more aikido waza. While that has proved to be an exercise in futility -it also explains quite succinctly Peter's examples of the failure in understanding much of Ueshiba's physical concepts in translations offered. And the reasons they are re-interpreted rather than translated by others into something actually useful to know. They are -regardless of their expertise in the language- never the less struggling to even understand the nature of the concepts they are attempting to translate! So the results may be catch as catch can.
So, what fits perfectly into the framework of Peter's column on translations also blends seamlessly with your observations of what has become a modern post-Ueshiba "form" of aikido.
I made a simple observation that many of the concepts that I had seen translated, made perfect sense, and others seemed anathema to what I know aiki to be. It stands to reason that Ueshiba's thoughts (many of which appear to match perfectly the type of training he would have undertaken in his studies with Takeda) would be entirely foreign and a mystery to those both in and outside of Japan, and that to include his own deshi. Again, I am increasingly of the opinion that Ueshiba- while maybe a bit "out there"- was not being as obscure as was previously believed.

Translation of a concept.
Peter's examples and my discussion of the ushiro aspects demonstrate a blatant and serious shift in focus between the two translations. One that just so happens to address much of the recent talk of internal aiki training so pervasive on the boards, and increasingly taking over the focus of people in the art. The Beiri's nail the concepts that rear techniques demand that type of training. Stevens offers the typical "step in the wrong direction" technique oriented view as practiced by many in the modern "form' of aikido.

Other things like "The divine cross of aiki" (again an actual training tool expressed in a T or an X) while colorfully called divine, none-the-less impart crucial information gone completely ignored in all available manuals and teaching in the larger aikido community.
I believe that Ueshiba was conveying ideas that perhaps properly translated, explained and trained would prove to be a foundational shift in the thought process and focus for training -even for his present deshi and what they seem to be practicing to this very day.
Hence, modern aikido form
Hence poor translation of concept and focus.

I hope you can see how this would lead me to be almost completely disinterested in a "form" developed and figured out by his deshi. Judging by what I have seen and felt I am convinced this form should be reworked and or as a focus of training-abandoned altogether.
IME, as "a form," it has little to do with what Ueshiba was doing in the first place. Since I had little investment in carrying it forward- I had no regrets at setting it aside either and getting on with the real work. In fact I think the "form" being preserved is by and large nothing more than a search by his deshi to mimic the effects he created on them and they fashioned that into the form seen today. Thankfully some pretty bold teachers are stepping outside of aikido to learn the way of aiki and in turn making their practice in aikido a study of real aiki once more..
If one truly understands the nature of what caused aiki to happen with those who fought Ueshiba, they would both understand more of what Ueshiba was doing and then in turn they could start to do themselves, and this would unlock the concepts that were nothing more than mysteries in the translated works. Hopefully, in time that may lead to capable men giving us more accurate translations of concepts they finally understand.
Neither of which has anything to do with aikido as a form. Something which Ueshiba repeatedly tried to free himself from.
Cheers
Dan

Allen Beebe
02-22-2009, 05:59 PM
Ah . . . but the plot thickens! If Takada passed along Aiki to a few, and a bunch of recognizable forms to many, (Yeah, yeah, there are a bunch of Daito Ryu’s but most of the stuff I’ve seen matches one for one with the Daito Ryu that my teacher was taught . . . so there are recognizable forms.) and Ueshiba passed along Aiki to even fewer, and bunch of recognizable forms to many, and if all of the confusion between one and the other could be “magically ended in about a minute and a half in person,” why didn’t they? :o

BTW, I think it perfectly possible to pass along the “concept” bereft of the content as well. One need not look farther than other related “internal arts” to see that that is possible.

Perhaps there ought to be reproducibility rules:
Rule #1: An individual must be able and willing to demonstrate the things he/she claims to know or do.
Rule #2: An individual must be able to create the conditions whereby another individual can pass Rule #1 before he/she can be recognized as a teacher.

Sounds simple to me! :)
Allen

stan baker
02-22-2009, 07:31 PM
Hi Allen,

Dan is one of the few people in rule#1 maybe the only one.

stan

DH
02-22-2009, 08:16 PM
Hi Allen
Hope to hook up some day
I'll try to keep my answers relevant to the thread.
and if all of the confusion between one and the other could be "magically ended in about a minute and a half in person," why didn't they?
Of course there are recognizable forms. But there is a reason why those who know always discuss aiki as being formless. There is no confusion.
And the better you get at the later the less you really care about the former. I think you need to review your history. The "they" you are referring to- being Takeda and Ueshiba? They not only managed to do just that- they themselves differentiated the two constantly to the point of talking about them as separate things and stressing the difference. Other unique DR teachers managed to pull of some VERY stunning displays of power sans waza as well. But I don't want to talk about that anymore.
If you were having a bit of fun with me over the "settled in a minute and half" comment regarding debates about aiki with those who focus on waza and discount aiki's immediate applicability and power? You're right. That comment wasn't accurate...it usually doesn't take that long.
And I'm not going to talk about that anymore either.

BTW, I think it perfectly possible to pass along the "concept" bereft of the content as well. One need not look farther than other related "internal arts" to see that that is possible.
I agree completely with you. But I think you're making an addtional or separate point over the one Peter was making or alluding to and I expanded on.
1. We're are not talking about your example of student having someone explain those concepts and then expound on them- framed in context to their training method along with principles in-use which the student can't do yet as he may be just learning.
Instead
2. We are talking about men from another country reading about concepts a) they were not told about, b) were never explained to them c) were never framed in context to their direct training....and then having to try and figure out what that person meant and make it applicable...in another language.
Make sense? I think it's a different set of circumstances than the "educated idiots" we occasionally run into in the ICMA and so many other arts.
In closing and going back to aiki as a method distinct from waza. Stop and think, many of Takedas and Ueshiba's students were koryu people, military people, judoka,...men who had experience and exposure to some pretty significant heavyweights.
To my knowledge what impressed those educated men most about Takeda and Ueshiba....wasn't technique. It was their aiki power, stated over and over. and that came from the body method-"the concepts" referred to here in our discussion. The "concepts" either rarely if ever talked about publicly, or as Peter so clearly demonstrated....that can get "Translated" into uselessness.
Cheers
Dan

George S. Ledyard
02-22-2009, 08:27 PM
Hi Allen,

Dan is one of the few people in rule#1 maybe the only one.

stan

Stan,
No one disputes Dan's ability but you need to be careful about drinking the Cool Aid.
- George

Allen Beebe
02-22-2009, 08:28 PM
Dan is one of the few people in rule#1 maybe the only one.

Oh darn! And here I thought I was "the one." :cool: :D

While admirable in the sense of "testifying," and most assuredly well intended, this is the very sort of statement that plagues Dan and others.

Virtually anyone can claim *here* to do or understand just about anything. It is virtually impossible to prove that understanding *here.* Furthermore, others can support the claims of others but everything carries about the same weight *here.* Hence the miracle of 1 1/2 minute understanding IN PERSON.

At any rate your statement assumes too much I think. It assumes that you know what Dan claims to know or do. (In other words, Dan isn't making the statement for himself, you are.) It assumes that either I know what Dan claims to know or do or that I trust that you do. It assumes that you are qualified to judge if Dan can do what he claims to know or do and it assumes that I trust your judgement. I think a reasonable person could see why just about any of these assumptions could be called into question.

Finally, the phrase "maybe the only one," while provocative, also implies the counter phrase, "or maybe not." While far better than claiming that he IS the only one, which would imply that you know of all others, it still isn't that strong of a statement.

All that having been said, we are straying far off of the subject of this thread. That certainly was not the intent of my post.

So, assuming that Takeda and Ueshiba, Ueshiba being the subject of this thread . . . or his writing at least, satisfied Rule #1 and seemingly Rule #2 with some, were his writings (which ones?) intended for the consumption of the chosen few, for everyone but "Aiki Content Free," or for everyone but only those Rule #2 recipients would truly realize what he was saying?

Allen
(BTW Stan, I would enjoy meeting Dan someday and would certainly hope to benefit from the meeting. )

DH
02-22-2009, 08:40 PM
Oh for Petes sake
Hey...for ...Petes sake can we "can" these referrences to me. This has nothing to do with the thread.
Stan, how does this possibly relate to the topic? I avoided Allen's comment all together as I don't think it was on point to the thread in the first place.
In the second place his comment doesn't involve me anyway....gees.
Cheers
Dan

Allen Beebe
02-22-2009, 08:57 PM
Hi Allen
Hope to hook up some day

Let's! I'm always ready to learn . . . or at least I try to be.

I'll try to keep my answers relevant to the thread.

Of course there are recognizable forms. But there is a reason why those who know always discuss aiki as being formless. There is no confusion.
And the better you get at the later the less you really care about the former.

Agreed

I think you need to review your history.

Pretty much always.

The "they" you are referring to- being Takeda and Ueshiba? They not only managed to do just that- they themselves differentiated the two constantly to the point of talking about them as separate things and stressing the difference.

Yes, but you have the know the difference to recognize it for the most part.

Other unique DR teachers managed to pull of some VERY stunning displays of power sans waza as well. But I don't want to talk about that anymore.

Feel free to PM me. I love a good story!

If you were having a bit of fun with me over the "settled in a minute and half" comment regarding debates about aiki with those who focus on waza and discount aiki's immediate applicability and power? You're right. That comment wasn't accurate...it usually doesn't take that long.

I wasn't poking fun, in this rare instance, but I'm sure you are right.


We are talking about men from another country reading about concepts a) they were not told about, b) were never explained to them c) were never framed in context to their direct training....and then having to try and figure out what that person meant and make it applicable...in another language.

Well that assumes a lot, but for the most part I tend to agree.

In closing and going back to aiki as a method distinct from waza.

Are you sure you want to use the word "distinct?" How can the Aiki body be distinct from your waza?

Stop and think, many of Takedas and Ueshiba's students were koryu people, military people, judoka,...men who had experience and exposure to some pretty significant heavyweights.
To my knowledge what impressed those educated men most about Takeda and Ueshiba....wasn't technique. It was their aiki power, stated over and over. and that came from the body method-"the concepts" referred to here in our discussion. The "concepts" either rarely if ever talked about publicly, or as Peter so clearly demonstrated....that can get "Translated" into uselessness.

Actually, you are virtually quoting me here from years back so we are certainly in agreement.

Still, I enjoy the academic discourse (I learn from it) while maintaining the opinion that nothing much will be resolved conclusively here even if I thought conclusiveness were achievable . . . which I don't.

BTW, sorry if this is incomprehensible . . . it is bed time in the Beebe houshold and my kids are climbing on me and singing in my ears.

Not that I mind that much! :p

Allen

Erick Mead
02-22-2009, 09:36 PM
Still, I enjoy the academic discourse (I learn from it) while maintaining the opinion that nothing much will be resolved conclusively here even if I thought conclusiveness were achievable . . . which I don't.

Are we saying that the conversation with a tradition, of whatever vintage, is pointless? But the fact remains the old man wouldn't shut up, nor would those who he spoke to and trained. How then does one converse on such a topic -- if not with what was given? I dare say they -- and he -- took more than a minute and a half in trying to provoke -- not end -- that conversation -- because the subject is worth more than that -- and contains more than that. IHTBF is a given -- as the beginning and recurrent recourse of the discussion -- not the end of it. There is a certain impatience in proceeding that will deny the full measure of the process. Is that not the problem, throughout, from both a physical bias, as well as an intellectual or emotional one. ?

I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid.

G.K Chesterton

stan baker
02-22-2009, 10:00 PM
I am not the one drinking the cool aid, I think the aikido world is in a dream. What I said has to do with this thread, transmission, inheritance, emulation and I will add one more important thing, teaching. I just say it the way I see it I donot have a dream to protect.

stan

DH
02-22-2009, 10:26 PM
Since we agree on most everything lets skip to the one thing more substantive and interesting-aiki.


Are you sure you want to use the word "distinct?" How can the Aiki body be distinct from your waza?
Not quite what I meant.
There are many great MAers or fighters with no aiki.
I was pointing out (in response to your post) that these two men were known for their aiki-power. And that it was distinct, and impressive enough to set these men apart from some incredibly talented Budo men as judged by some incredibly talented Budo men. In an age when being "the teacher" didn't nearly cut it.

Here's a little thought that also ties in with Peters column, that is probably going to fall as flat as most everything else I said.
Again going back to concepts, and translations.
I just do not think that the majority of men get it anymore. I think most guys have never felt or faced men with world class power, real power- not dojo nonsense. For that reason, they neither see, nor feel, any compelling reason to believe that these two guys were truly giants, and...that they had an understanding of a concept that was beyond their reckoning. Hence, in their minds there is nothing unusual to be researched, had or understood- so they don't even look for it.

I also think its the reason we are losing our heritage from these arts that being...aiki. Aiki power is real, it is formidable, it is formless and transends all the arts, into modern grappling. Most not having that experience, just assign that "aiki stuff" they felt from their local aikido teacher as aiki power and check it off as "done." So its hard to get folks to understand here is something substantial, and unsual, in our heritage to be had in the first place and then once believed to train in it. And that if they trained it they could stand in rooms with the best Aiki men Budo has to offer and have them try and take their measure of you and have it come to naught. And it can be had without the twenty year apprenticeships everyone is requiring to "get it.".
Just a thought.
BTW, sorry if this is incomprehensible . . . it is bed time in the Beebe houshold and my kids are climbing on me and singing in my ears.
Not that I mind that much! :p
Allen
God I miss those days. Enjoy them bud.
Cheers
Dan

Peter Goldsbury
02-22-2009, 11:55 PM
Mr Skaggs,

Thank you for your post. Hre are a few thoughts by way of an answer.

Professor Goldsbury,

What is your opinion of the following thoughts.:

.1. The illness and death of O'Sensei's father as a major influence in changing his budo(?) journey from a search for maximum martial effectiveness to an expression of his religious beliefs.
PAG. I think you would need to connect the death of his father with the meeting with Onisaburo Deguchi in Ayabe. After the great fire in Shirataki, Ueshiba set about rebuilding, but at some point word reached him of his father's illness and he set out to return to Tanabe. There is evidence that he had already heard about the Omoto religion and so, making a detour to Ayabe was not quite so unexpected as it might appear. However, I do not think you can consider his father's death in isolation from this.

2. An ongoing change in usage and meaning of the words he used, because of the ongoing developement of his religious thoughts, as a source of confusion to his students.
PAG. I think this might be possible if we could date the discourses with any degree of certainty. We can do this to some extent with Deguchi (and with Kisshomaru Ueshiba, after the war), but I think it very difficult to do this with Morihei Ueshiba, partly because of the enormous editing process that has already taken place.

Best wishes,

PAG

DH
02-23-2009, 01:32 PM
Peter
If those discourses have been edited to death than what's the point of even starting...oy!! Is there no means to access the original writings? Or did Ueshiba not write anything out and it was subject to "on the spot interpretation" of a largely ignorant audience?

I was always less interested in the form of his religious conversion and all the lectures attached to it, and more interested in where and how the physical result was manifested. In addition to that, where, in the midst of his long winded dissertations was he perhaps offering concrete advice on how to's to a largely disinterested crew, and the information was going right over their heads.
I can see discussions of "being one with the expanding universe" and "breathing in tune with universe" as his version of discussing (or trying to discuss) Daito ryu's aiki in yo ho a breath power training method. But the breath-power is is just a part of some other serious prior training in order to make it even viable. In other places where people are struggling to gain an understanding, of all the varous training methods Ueshiba himself went through and used, reveals that many of his thoughts and words regardning physical training are not in fact difficult to understand and are pointing in the direction every student needs to arrive at.
Example:
Peter writes:10. 己が身をかはす為に敵が倒れる様に練習を積む事が必要である。
Onore ga mi wo kahasu tame ni teki ga taoreru yo ni renshu wo tsumu koto ga hitsuyo de aru.
[To accomplish this] it is necessary to gain training experience until you are able to take him off balance when you turn your body.
NOTES:
A. Again, Ueshiba stresses the importance of training and this is underlined by his use of the verb 積む tsumu, which generally means to pile up, stack, load something on to a vehicle, or accumulate by means of repeated activity. The sense here is of constant and repeated training until the response is completely second nature—in the same way that Ueshiba himself was able to discern the intentions of the attacker. He is definitely not talking about waza here, though he does use the term 術 in the next section.
B. Teki ga taoreru敵が倒れるis translated here as ‘take him off balance' and this is closer to the original meaning than the Stevens translation (see below). The real sense of the Japanese is that you train in order to do whatever is necessary to ensure that the enemy ‘falls'. This might well involve ‘taking his balance'—but does not necessarily involve throwing or executing waza. To see the issues here, consider the Aikido Journal interview with Minoru Inaba, about projecting power, and also the classic way that Gozo Shioda projects ‘power', in such a way that the uke simply bounces off him, as mentioned above. Of course, in some sense Shioda ‘throws' his uke, but in my opinion he responds to his uke's attack—and uke falls, as is stated in this section. The additional element here is that the attacker is behind, not in front, but the dynamics are the same.
The real key is the nature of the trained body that turns and how it affects those trying to move it. The normsl person trying it would recult in nothin happening. Hence the misunderstanding. As one of my teachers used to say when a normally traind person tried some of these things?
Dooo..esn't work!

I would not necessarily join those two practices; the Shioda bump and the body turn- together. Although they are sides of the same coin, there are different methods to train them. The straight bump is easier and comes sooner than training cross-line bodywork in drawing and turning the body as a unit. You're right that the chest bump isn't necessarily "a waza or technique" but it does involve waza aspects of timing and entry in a way that "simply turning your body and they turn" does not. The later example of "turning and they turn" will not work without all the attributes of the former in place but it's a purer aspect of the body quality. Some guys fall apart as the control goes out from center to hands-the connections fail. Again though kind of sides of the same coin.
Training
Ueshiba correctly pointed, and you correctly translated that it is in training the body. (Again we see the idea of focus on the body and mind instead of technique) It was his focus of training the body as a prerequisite for what he discusses later-that being to be able to manage rear attacks. That they, by their nature, demanded that body training. You are right in stating / interpreting/ translating (good God Peter better you than me) that the term "take him off balance" is more than technique. It is more correctly considered or viewed as the result of "matching" your trained body, with their energy / intent. The more correct translation is as an effect in carrying the trained body that causes an affect on the person grabbing pushing etc and not in a technique. Some aspects in feel is the negative side feels very ghosty and magnetic and the positive side is soft power that is compelling and hard to source to counter it. It is the combination of the two happening at the same time that is quite controlling on the uke.

So yes Peter I agree that your translation correctly expresses Ueshiba's idea; that one needed to train the body in order to unify the mind / body spirit in movement and it is that body that creates that effect of them turning when he turns. NOT doing waza to try and make it happen
Cheers
Dan

Walker
02-23-2009, 07:16 PM
武道練習Budo Renshu, Translated by Larry & Seiko Bieri, Japan Publications Trading Company, 1978. (Alas, this bilingual edition is no longer in print and the only second-hand copy I have seen was priced at over US$ 750. A ‘bowdlerized' edition, shorn of all the Japanese, is available, entitled Budo Training in Aikido.)
FYI -- A note for those out there who are truly craz... [cough] passionate and wish to own a copy of the above bilingual edition; there is one available on e-bay right now. [about 14 hours to go and with a "buy it now" price below the one Peter quotes above.

DH
02-23-2009, 07:27 PM
I can't find it in the search category
It was under Budo trainng in aikido

http://cgi.ebay.com/DELUXE-BUDO-TRAINING-IN-AIKIDO-MORIHEI-UESHIBA-26132_W0QQitemZ310109698955QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item310109 698955&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1199%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C240%3A1318%7C301%3A1%7C293%3A1 %7C294%3A50

Dan

Peter Goldsbury
02-23-2009, 08:07 PM
Hello Doug,

If the book is the same as the one that Dan has pointed to, it is $2,000. The one I saw on Amazon Japan's site was 68,000 yen, which is just over $700. Alas, this book is no longer available--perhaps there are some Japanese readers of this column. So I am so glad that I bought my copy when I did. It cost 10,000 yen, which is just over $105 at the present exchange rate and it has been signed. Not, alas by the author himself, but by a Hombu shihan who knew him well (and who gives the 'secret' meaning of :triangle: , :circle: and :square: :D ).

FYI -- A note for those out there who are truly craz... [cough] passionate and wish to own a copy of the above bilingual edition; there is one available on e-bay right now. [about 14 hours to go and with a "buy it now" price below the one Peter quotes above.

PAG

Walker
02-23-2009, 08:08 PM
I sent you [dan] the item # and link in a PM.

This is a different listing.

DH
02-23-2009, 10:04 PM
Got it
Thanks Doug
Still way too much. I see it as a curiosity only and a nice addition to my library. It's just not worth that much money to me.
Dan

Walker
02-23-2009, 10:13 PM
I understand that.

So, in case anyone else is interested and since it seems to be hard to find the listing here is the link for item #180329740595:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=180329740595&ssPageName=ADME:B:WNA:US:1123

Brad Darr
02-23-2009, 11:02 PM
Professor Goldsbury,

Thank you for taking the time and effort to write these wonderful articles. I literally laughed out loud when I read, "How to open your stone door by listening to the gods", it just seems so absurd when taken at face value in English. I do have a question or more likely a topic of discussion I would like to ask about.

武人は常に神に祈りを忘れず、鎮魂帰神法による技を会得し言振れせずに悟り行うことである。小戸の神業(おどのかむわざ)とは、舌三寸の天之村雲[FONT=Times] (あめのむらくも)の神剣である。言霊(ことたま)で人を生かす事も殺す事も自由に使えるという。言霊は神剣である。舌の奥に心あり。精気のこもった言霊は、相手の技をも 止める事ができるという。神秘の技ともいえ るのである。
A man of budo never fails to pray to the deities. He can become skilled in waza by means of calming the soul and returning to the deity, and reach enlightenment without the use of language. The divine waza of the small door (= mouth?) is the divine sword of Ame no Murakumo, which is an eloquent tongue. It is said that word-spirit can be used freely to kill people and give life. Kotodama is the divine sword. One's tongue is filled with the spirit. The word spirit that is full of energy is said to be able to stop the waza of the opponent—we can say that these are mysterious waza.

What is the divine waza of the small door? I am assuming that (=mouth?) is your addition. From the description it is kotodama. Or possibly kiai? There are all those mythical stories of birds being taken out of the air by a well timed kiai.
I was also curious about the eloquent tongue, as if someone is charismatic enough to stop someones waza. Or that it takes some skill with the tongue to use kotodama?
I have been trying to find another reference in another doka but sadly all I own are the Stevens translations and my Japanese ability is not enough to hold decent a conversation let alone go searching on Google. I was hoping you had some more insight into the matter or that you know of a source that discusses it. I already looked through Gleason's first book to no avail and Amazon still hasn't delivered his second.

Thank you again for you time and effort. As well as your candor in contrast to the deification of O sensei and his heirs espoused by some.

Peter Goldsbury
02-24-2009, 03:20 AM
Professor Goldsbury,

What is the divine waza of the small door? I am assuming that (=mouth?) is your addition. From the description it is kotodama. Or possibly kiai? There are all those mythical stories of birds being taken out of the air by a well timed kiai.
I was also curious about the eloquent tongue, as if someone is charismatic enough to stop someones waza. Or that it takes some skill with the tongue to use kotodama?
I have been trying to find another reference in another doka but sadly all I own are the Stevens translations and my Japanese ability is not enough to hold decent a conversation let alone go searching on Google. I was hoping you had some more insight into the matter or that you know of a source that discusses it. I already looked through Gleason's first book to no avail and Amazon still hasn't delivered his second.

Hello Brad,

There is another reference to odo no kamuwaza in the writings collected in the Takemusu Tsugen blog. It appears in the section entitled Budo Misogi no Maki (Buro Misogi Scroll) and its provenance is stated to be 伝書 (written transmission) from Morihei Ueshiba to Michio Hikitsuchi. (However, I doubt whether it is a direct quotation.) In Budo Misogi no Maki 7, there is the following reference to odo no kamuwaza (in bold):

合息が合気と生まれ、火風水がアオウエイと結び合せて言魂となりて、合気道が世にヒビキ即ち小戸の神業(おどのかむわざ)となりしもの也。地上現界の争いのない道を示す為 に、また弋(ほこ)を止どめる武の道を世人に示す為に素盞嗚尊(すさのおのみこと)の御分身として生まれられたのではないかと思われる開祖植芝翁は神の化身にましますので はないだろうか。即ち武神の大手力王尊(たじからおのみこと)と現われ給う。翁は人として、この世に生まれられた以上は人並以上の修行の道をふませられたので ある。

The sentence in bold reads: Aikido ga yo ni hibiki sunawachi odo no kamuwaza to narishimono... = Aikido is a hibiki to the world. In other words, it is divine operation of the odo.

Hibiki has a wide range of meanings, all to do with sounds, the type of sound depending on what causes it (e.g., boom, peal, explosion, reverberation, hoofbeat, echo, vibration, hence, accoustics). A transferred meaning is the effect of the sound. The example given is the vibrations of an avalanche: 雪崩の響きが全身に伝われてきた。The vibrations [thunder] of the avalanche shook (were transmitted through) my whole body.

I hope this explains the phrase a little more.

Best wishes,

Peter Goldsbury
02-24-2009, 08:31 PM
Peter
If those discourses have been edited to death than what's the point of even starting...oy!! Is there no means to access the original writings? Or did Ueshiba not write anything out and it was subject to "on the spot interpretation" of a largely ignorant audience?

Cheers
Dan

Hello Dan,
I am racing to meet Jun's deadline for Column 12, due on Mar 1, so I will be brief.

I am pretty certain there is a lot of 'raw' material. When Sadateru Arikawa died, for example, tons of stuff were taken away from his house and I gather that all this is in a safe place. The present Doshu once told me that there are archives in the Hombu that no one has time to touch. So I am scratching the surface of what will be a very longterm undertaking.

I think that, for better for worse, aikido is still going through a maturation process and that its scope will be clearer when Mitsuteru is 4th Doshu than it is now. We are still too close to O Sensei, in a sense, and people panic if we deviate too far from the party line. People in high places need to settle down and relax more.

Best,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
02-24-2009, 11:46 PM
Hello Brad,

Well, as a start here are three douka relating to odo no kamuwaza and iwato biraki, only one of which is discussed by Prof Stevens.

かんながら赤白玉やますみ玉合気の道は小戸の神技

たたえてもたたえ盡せぬさむはらの合気の道は小戸の神技

三千世界一度に開く梅の花二度の岩戸は開かれにけり

As for a translation, I have a prior duty to Japanese students of this forum, to see what they can come up with :) .

Best wishes,

PAG

Professor Goldsbury,

I have been trying to find another reference in another doka but sadly all I own are the Stevens translations and my Japanese ability is not enough to hold decent a conversation let alone go searching on Google.

Brad Darr
02-25-2009, 03:43 PM
Professor Goldsbury,

Thank you for your reply. The quote about hibiki was very insightful. The sentence in bold reads: Aikido ga yo ni hibiki sunawachi odo no kamuwaza to narishimono... = Aikido is a hibiki to the world. In other words, it is divine operation of the odo.
Could it also mean that Aikido is an echo of the world or that Aikido is an echo of the kotodama SU that created the world?

As for the doka I need to really dig in and put my Japanese skills to the test but from a cursory glance the first references the red and white jewels. The third talks about opening the stone door and 3000 worlds and plum blossoms. Hopefully some other people can help with the translation, I will post what I come up with as soon as I pin it down. I also noted the difference between 小戸の神技, from the doka and 小戸の神業 from your online sources. This is the same change that you mentioned in the article for ushirowaza.

Also I have been looking through various online dictionaries (wwwjdic etc. ) for 小戸 and all I can come up with are place names Odogawa etc.

I still wonder what exactly is this "small door", is it the mouth as was mentioned in the original article. Is it an analogy to the stone door from the Kojiki? Or is the sound of the stone door? Or SU.

In light of quote above it seems that Aikido is the divine operation of the small door. Which to me seems important. I realize you are busy polishing what will most assuredly be another thought provoking article but I was hoping you could explain what, if any importance you find in 小戸の神業.

Thank you again for you time and effort.

Peter Goldsbury
02-25-2009, 05:55 PM
Hello Brad,

Indeed. In a number of places, Ueshiba refers to kotodama as involved in creation. The quote below is from Masahisa Goi, but Morihei Ueshiba believed the same thing.

2. 五井先生は、言霊とは、文字や音声にいずる想念以前のひびき、即ち光そのもののひびき、神である、音声や文字に出た時はすでに言霊の役目、働きが果たされあとのものである 、と説明して下さいました。
Goi Sensei wa, kotodama to wa, moji ya onsei ni izuru sonen izen no hibiki, sunawachi hikari sonomono no hibiki, kami de aru, onsei ya moji ni deta toki wa sudeni kotodama no yakume, hataraki ga hatasare ato no mono de aru, to setsumei shite kudasaimashita.
Goi Sensei bestowed on us the explanation that word-soul was prior to words and voiced sounds, in other words, that word soul was the deity that vibrated light itself, and that the time that it came forth in sounds and letters was the remains of the previous working of word-soul.

PAG

Erick Mead
02-25-2009, 08:42 PM
Goi Sensei bestowed on us the explanation that word-soul was prior to words and voiced sounds, in other words, that word soul was the deity that vibrated light itself, and that the time that it came forth in sounds and letters was the remains of the previous working of word-soul. Ann Wehmeyer, who is at my alma mater, did a relatively recent new translation of the initial volume of Norinaga's Kojiki-den along with the Naobi no Mitama. She also did an earlier article on kotodama in Edo period Nativism -- both of which may be instructive. The latter, unfortunately I do not yet have.

I am informed she is working on a study of kotodama among the New Religions. A collaboration or correspondence between you might well be of interest -- given the level of your obvious commitment, and for which we are all eternally grateful. I graduated from the Asian studies program at UF well before she came there on faculty, unfortunately, but Dr Chennault might remember me, by way of indirect introductions.

Peter Goldsbury
02-26-2009, 03:34 AM
Ann Wehmeyer, who is at my alma mater, did a relatively recent new translation of the initial volume of Norinaga's Kojiki-den along with the Naobi no Mitama. She also did an earlier article on kotodama in Edo period Nativism -- both of which may be instructive. The latter, unfortunately I do not yet have.

I am informed she is working on a study of kotodama among the New Religions. A collaboration or correspondence between you might well be of interest -- given the level of your obvious commitment, and for which we are all eternally grateful. I graduated from the Asian studies program at UF well before she came there on faculty, unfortunately, but Dr Chennault might remember me, by way of indirect introductions.

I have Wehmeyer's book. It would be very good if you could arrange some kind of contact. If you send me a PM, we can correspond by private e-mail.

Best wishes,

PAG

Erick Mead
03-02-2009, 11:05 AM
Hello Brad,

Indeed. In a number of places, Ueshiba refers to kotodama as involved in creation. The quote below is from Masahisa Goi, but Morihei Ueshiba believed the same thing.

2. 五井先生は、言霊とは、文字や音声にいずる想念以前のひびき、即ち光そのもののひびき、神である、音声や文字に出た時はすでに言霊の役目、働きが果たされあとのものである 、と説明して下さいました。
Goi Sensei wa, kotodama to wa, moji ya onsei ni izuru sonen izen no hibiki, sunawachi hikari sonomono no hibiki, kami de aru, onsei ya moji ni deta toki wa sudeni kotodama no yakume, hataraki ga hatasare ato no mono de aru, to setsumei shite kudasaimashita.
Goi Sensei bestowed on us the explanation that word-soul was prior to words and voiced sounds, in other words, that word soul was the deity that vibrated light itself, and that the time that it came forth in sounds and letters was the remains of the previous working of word-soul. The origin of these thoughts is likely Honda Chikaatsu, who informed Onisaburo (Kisaburo, then) in the ways of chinkon kishin, and the ichirei formula and the principles of kotodama. Others he also instructed directly who were initially involved in Oomoto and then departed to go there own way in turn, such as Tomokiyo Yoshizane (Shindo Tenkokyo).

I am coming to conclude that Japanese speakers live in mortal fear of the unintended pun (imikotoba) which is an almost unavoidable hazard in their language -- and therefore go to great lengths, both to initially avoid unfortunate associations, and then to create clever multi-layered "good" associations when something particularly important is being said, lest it be tainted by an unwitting, unintended bad association. Their grammar is therefore built up slowly and not definitive until the end of the phrase -- all to ensure that the sense is not being taken badly in the hearing before the thought is concluded (and possibly needing an emergency last-minute qualifier :D ). Like the layers of cloth armor -- deceptively thin and soft individually, but stacked and stitched together can stop a blade or cushion a blow.

For this reason, it seems to me that teasing out even the thinnest associations and connections seems worthwhile, as long as it ties back in some concrete way to the training.

The alternate reading of odo 小戸 ( small door/gate) as odo 小渡 the "narrow rivermouth" or "ford" (notably tachibana no odo no ahagihara) is given by Abe Sensei from Ueshiba's discourse on Kojiki -- where he relates Ueshiba saying that aikido was born from "the thrashing of Izanagi" in the waters at that place.

Honda Reigaku, from which both Tomokiyo's and Onisaburo's thoughts both stem, puts otodama 音魂 (sound-spirit) in preeminence and kotodama as the human intention effecting the play of otodama in human circumstances. In Oomoto, this distinction seems compounded into the kotodama concept, whereas people who have come from a different line (notably Koichi Barrish) see things like otodama playing a prominent role in physical terms -- he has spoken of using the "echo" of atemi. This is a point that "resonates" ;) quite well with me and my own sensibilities in practice.

Tomokiyo saw otodama as a whole-body sense phenomena not limited merely to purely auditory meaning, but of two types of sensation, (he uses ears mimi) -- hearing with kunitsutama (earthly-spirit) and amatsutama (heavenly-spirit). In this way, Tomokiyo advised submitting the body to the sensation of a regularized rhythm such as sound of rain, a waterfall, or even a simple clock to regularize and resensitize the body's internal and external connections to a coherent rhythm.

The connection to furitama, funetori, tekubi furi and the oscillatory/spiral paradigms of aikido training seem quite obvious in this light.

Taking all of this concretely, I can put some plain physical interpretations on all of those images overlaid onto one another, which directly relate to the nature of physical connection and the principle of sound as sensed vibration in various aspects of the body sensitive to vibration -- among them: the behavior of eddies and vortices, and the effect of shears in constricted flow at a discontinuity (a narrow rivermouth), and the effect of the Huygen-Fresnel principle on sound wave propagation/diffraction through an opening in a barrier (a "small gate"). All of those can be shown to have application in a cognate principle in Aikido training considered as a biomechanical system. Thrashing in water at a narrow place in a stream adds more eddies to interact with the eddies already being continually thrown off by the constriction.

Tomkiyo extended his own thought on Honda Reigaku, and held that otodama the "sound spirit" was the "particle" or fundamental constitutent of reality -- more basic even than the electron. Otodama he specifically identified as the basis for ichirei shikon.

FWIW -- this observation plays a good part in my consideration of angular momentum/moment as tying western physics to both the Sinified "ki" system, and to the Kojiki myth system as ways of understanding these principles in a physical way. Ichirei as the basic oscillation potential/action, and the shikon as the four characters or types of that action/potential in a given relation or interaction, if you will -- the four 90 degree (juiji 十字) phases of a full 360 degree oscillation or rotation. Considered in purely physical terms, they are defined on a sine curve: Aramitama (maximum positive phase) Nigimitama (falling through zero); Kushimitama (maximum negative phase), and Sakimitama (rising through zero). There are other metaphysical understandings (as Barrish also demonstrates from his perspective) but they also tie to the physical nature -- or put another way -- each kami is revealed in and possesses its own characteristic mono).

When seen in developmental terms, otodama as ichirei- shikon (foundation and character-type, if you will) can become distinguished and progressive in the sangen and hachiriki alterations -- where the sangen can be seen as the three axes on which the shikon action/potential of the ichirei play out in spirals, with the hachiriki being the various sensible or conceptual effects of this "playing out" in the physical (and metaphysical) alterations of the world or situation.