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Ellis Amdur
09-19-2009, 11:29 PM
I just read Transparent Power by Kimura. I was pleased to note that there are a lot of areas where Sagawa and Kimura tend to confirm some of my speculations:
1. That Hoshina most likely did not teach "aiki" to Takeda Sokaku
2. That Daito-ryu was not taught in the kata form we see it. In fact, Sagawa states that the "numbers" of kata in the various menkyo were, more or less, because Takeda thought those were lucky numbers. Arbitrary, in other words (which would suggest that the kata were placed on the "matrix" of the numbers later - by someone(s) else, yet another of my speculations.
3. Takeda's character - which a) he did not play well with others b) he DID have a remarkable ability to focus on solitary study until he figured something out. Which would make him, in a dojo context, not so suited for years of cooperative kata practice, but very much suited for solitary figuring things out, punctuated by challenges, tests and other competitions.
4. Sagawa scoffing at the idea of the "palace art of defense of the daimyo" - and suspicion/cynicism of all the kneeling techniques. I very much wonder if this was, in part, retrofitting of aiki/jujutsu to look more like classical jujutsu.
Parenthetically, people have commented on Sagawa's "unpleasant" character - and if his personal stories are true, he WAS gratuitously violent as a young man to test his skills on people who hadn't "asked for it." That said, I liked his arrogance very much - because it seemed based on the premise of "if you don't like it, prove me wrong." And his uncompromising views on training and teaching - he was NOT a supportive teacher. If a student didn't get it, they either weren't paying attention or they were not worth it anyway. And a) this reminded me of my closest teacher in Japan b) fits my values.
Shan't summarize the book here - but, as I say, I was pleased to have, at least in this teacher's account, some of my views confirmed.
I know, in the Daito-ryu/aikido world, that is not proof. But nonetheless . . .

Ellis Amdur

Charles Hill
09-20-2009, 04:25 AM
Hello Ellis,

In one of your essays at Aikido Journal, you speculated that the source of Morihei Ueshiba's "power" may not have been Daito Ryu due the timing. You mentioned an interview that Stanley Pranin did with a childhood friend of Ueshiba's who said that upon return from Hokkaido, Ueshiba was still the same but when returning after time in Ayabe, he had changed. From this you speculated that Ueshiba's ability might have come from Ayabe with various possibilities listed, if I remember correctly.

Have you found anymore about this? Anything to corroborate or refute this idea?

Thanks,
Charles

DH
09-20-2009, 11:02 AM
Ayabe is one of the periods Ellis and I debated.
The contention was centered around a known comment from Tokimune; He states that Ueshiba was having trouble handling the tough Navy guys that were training with him there. Ellis's theory was that Takeda went and taught him Jujutsu techniques to handle the officers. I not only disagree with this, I find it contrary to Ellis's own contentions about Takeda himself. I stated it was at Ayabe that he was taught aiki

In the chapter on the birth of Daito ryu, Ellis notes that Takeda would have had trouble learning all of those complex waza and instead it was aiki that gave him his power over the local sumo guys and his "juts" came later-much later. He goes even further to validate the point that Takeda must have developed the skills fairly well in order to defeat hardened farmers playing Sumo who would have, could have, had some rudimentary basic jin strength from farming. Apparently the young Takeda never lost to any of these men. While I agree with the premise that aiki was the source of that power, I think it still leaves the idea of what Takeda got -up for grabs. In any event it is antithetical to one of his speculations about the "Ueshiba fix" while supporting the other.

My theory was that Takeda had already taught Ueshiba jujutsu. And at Ayabe he taught him aiki as the source of power building and body use to empower his jujutsu and handle the tougher students. Interestingly enough there is no source that states that Ueshiba "had" anything amazing prior to 1922. Comparing the period before and after Ayabe- he was not yet known as a power house of any unusual merit. Moreover, we are talking about Navy men who were more than likely well versed in hundreds of jujutsu type waza. I find it highly doubtful that they would be "handled" or impressed by someone with more jujutsu waza. I dismissed the idea in these pages in years past.
More circumstantial evidence exists were one to be using quotes from interviews. Deguchi was apparently so impressed with Takeda's AIKI that he convinced him to change the name of the art and awarded him an expensive sword.
*Note* Were Ueshiba to have already had aiki and Deguchi saw him on a daily basis, why this notation of AIKI at the end of Takeda's stay? Wouldn't he be commenting on Takeda's jujutsu were Ellis's first theory correct?

To his credit Ellis decided to present both ideas for consideration. We have to bear in mind that the book was partly fact, partly speculation based on circumstantial evidence that could be interpreted several ways, thus the book was meant to be controversial. Here Ellis brings to light- for our review- the still hotly debated topic of jujutsu or aiki and the confusion over how, where and in just what manner the potential of either comes to be the predominate power and driver of their arts. Personally, I think a large part of this circumstantial information is validated, invalidated by personal experience and an intimate understanding of the subject.
I believe that what occured then in the presence of Deguchi is occuring right now; being played out in modern dojos and settings. Just like the many teachers I meet toaday and touch hands with-Deguchi saw Daito ryu's Aiki/ internal power for the first time and was stunned. And over six or seven months of daily training Ueshiba -in turn- stunned Deguchi with what Ueshiba could now do. Thus the method (DR aiki/ internal power) and the ability to teach and see it replicated that is impressing so many in aikido today is nothing more than a repeat of the past. It was the aiki that made such a strong impression on Deguchi. Again it is worth noting that it was AFTER this that Ueshiba became known as another budo "great."

Aiki as a source of power
It is one thing to speculate on what Daito ryu jujutsu can and cannot do and what DR aiki can or cannot do, and quite another to be have learned both and be able to go out and fight a myriad of martial artists with both for fifteen years. I will state it clearly that no one I have fought, or just trained with-to include dozens of men who read these pages-was ever as impressed with my jujutsu, as they were with my aiki. Moreover, when I go to MMA schools, the typical reactions are always of confusion and comments about power and control -not jujutsu technique. In fact it is usually pointedly noted the LACK of use of waza in their defeat that caught their attention. The comments run more on the lines of "How did you make that throw work?" or "I felt like I lost control when I tried to grab you." "How come I couldn't take your balance?" "How can you hit with so much power from short distance?' None of which center on jujutsu waza. So, using personal experience in the modern age to address circumstantial evidence from the past- In general I have personally found it is the shear power and control of Daito ryu Aiki that is what controls people. Jujutsu has little to do with it.

My next point is more along the lines of Takeda developing his jujutsu "on the fly." I have always contended that this is why the major schools of DR are all so different. Why the Syllabus lack consistency. For that reason I considered and forwarded the idea that the art is fully based on aiki with no real jujutsu syllabus. The jujutsu or what I have humorously refereed to as "pretzel logic" seemed nonsensical to me in light of Takeda and Ueshiba's massive reputations. The jujutsu of both is less than stellar as a fighting system. To review either as cogent fighting system leaves a glaringly obvious hole, there was something "amiss." Anyone well versed in fighting or versed in the methods of various classical jujutsu approaches would look at both the waza and lack of consistency in the mokuroku as highly suspect. This is the reason most in these arts venture out to the modern systems to find "real" ways to fight. And this brings me back to the point in Ellis' book.

Were jujutsu to be the defining characteristic, why would the modern adepts (well versed in the jujutsu of their arts) go outside their art to learn better ways to fight? For the same reason I contended in the beginning of all the debates.
They have no aiki, and thus their waza is shot full of holes in its approach. Without aiki it just doesn't work or function as well as "a system" of anything. Aiki was the driver all along.

Why are so many teachers after a short time training here seeing their approach to their entire budo careers changing?
Aiki.

As I said personal experience and ability coupled with the resolve to actually go out and test it on other peoples turf brings about a defining change in how you might view the value of things, and/ or ponder circumstantial and controversial topics. For me the subject of what makes power, what would make Ueshiba go from being a man of not much notice to a virtual powerhouse in his day is patently obvious? DR aiki. The same attribute that made Sagawa, and Kodo known for being powerhouses.


An interesting side bar:
A few decades ago (which makes it more recent evidence) a teacher from one branch of DR goes to Tokimune Takeda to learn power. What does Tokimune teach him? Solo training exercises and certain approaches to movement.
The teacher goes back to his school to show them. No one wants to do the exercises, instead they just want to learn the newer waza. The teacher goes back to Tokimune and tells him this.
Tokimune says. "Yes. It's the same here. Everyone just wants to do the waza."
SSDD.

Dan
P.S. I am not doubting Ueshiba's later continued growth. All of Takedas other students were noted for their own continued research and add-ons and changes. Once you get it, you see the universal applicability. Some are still doing it today-using DR aiki deeper in the body and for modern combatives and meetiing and comparing notes with the ICMA and seeing so many common elements.
Again, SSDD.

Ellis Amdur
09-20-2009, 11:44 AM
Charles - (Hi Dan) - I concur with everything that Dan said. I wanted to take on Tokimune's statement which always rung a little false to me for the following reason. The following phrase in the quote is something like, "Ueshiba was a little man, and without the power of the jujutsu, he couldn't handle the big navy guys." Well, Ueshiba was a SHORT guy - but he was no more "little" than a fire hydrant. Takeda was little - tiny really. And yet, taking things somewhat with a grain of salt (did Ueshiba really contact Takeda and say "help!"), Takeda either is called or shows up - and it is the tinier many who has the power to handle the big navy guys? And there is no doubt that this was the longest sustained period that Ueshiba had training with Takeda.
That story gave me the opportunity to present both theories and also to present the point that jujutsu/aiki merge in the trained fighter. If I ever do a 2nd edition (which will require all of you to buy out my first!), I will probably shade things more to the aiki side, as opposed to being somewhat "even handed."
For example, there's a school called I ch'uan, derived from xingyi. They mostly do internal power training, a lot of whats called "post standing." And they are really powerful guys. And contrary to the claims of their fighting effectiveness (mostly assoc. with the founder, who STARTED with xingyi, which has techniques), the i ch'uan guys, in fights with top-level guys, have mostly lost. I think jujutsu can be considered the wiring and aiki (or chi/kokyu, all the variants) the electricity. And it is possible that one has lousy wiring, so you short-circuit yourself in your training. All that power and nothing to deliver it with.
I agree with Dan.
Ellis Amdur

Mike Sigman
09-20-2009, 02:21 PM
For example, there's a school called I ch'uan, derived from xingyi. They mostly do internal power training, a lot of whats called "post standing." And they are really powerful guys. And contrary to the claims of their fighting effectiveness (mostly assoc. with the founder, who STARTED with xingyi, which has techniques), the i ch'uan guys, in fights with top-level guys, have mostly lost. I think jujutsu can be considered the wiring and aiki (or chi/kokyu, all the variants) the electricity. And it is possible that one has lousy wiring, so you short-circuit yourself in your training. All that power and nothing to deliver it with.
This sort of gets back to an observation that I've made a number of times that almost all Chinese martial-arts are a combination of I.S. skills on the one hand and techniques/skills/strategies on the other hand. No art is complete without a suitable complement of both. Among the Japanese martial-arts the combination of I.S. and techniques/skills/strategies is there or *was* there at some time in the past, for most of the arts that I can get a feel for. It's possible that there are going to be some outrider koryu, etc., that may not have had some I.S. skills in it, but so far I wouldn't be comfortable in suggesting any Japanese art was totally bereft of those skills.

Bear in mind something very important: there are varying levels of these skills available in various arts and in various people that have some aspects of those skills, so by saying an art (or person) had I.S. skills, I certainly don't mean to imply that they all had/have those skills equally.

In the case of I'chuan (more properly "Yiquan" with today's Pinyin form of spelling), the founder (Wang Xiangzhai) had a Xingyi background and in an attempt to teach a number of fighters (who were soon to have a competition with some foreigners) some things to boost their power-skills, came up with a training regimen that was the basis for what became Yiquan.

In essence, we could suggest that Wang said, "OK, so what you need to *really* improve your fighting is for me to show you how to do the oft-hidden aspects of Internal Strength". Isn't that essentially what Koichi Tohei did (albeit not very clearly) in relation to Aikido? Couldn't we similarly say that what Ikeda Sensei, Ushiro Sensei, Dan, and others do is say something along the lines of "OK, here's how to develop the previously-hidden power to go with your martial arts"? The point is that Yiquan's nicely-packaged training regimen is interesting because of its seeming openess (which is not true) of the I.S. training in relation to the fighting skills; in reality, Yiquan's combination of I.S. and fighting-methodology is nothing out of the ordinary except for the fact that the I.S. training is somewhat obvious. AikiTaiso are obviously meant to be the I.S. training methods of Aikido, but their use is also as fumbled up in application as a lot of Yiquan's methods are. ;)

Think of Ushiro's comment about "No kokyu, no Aikido" or think of Shioda's comment about how the power usage has been lost not only in Aikido but in Judo and other Japanese arts. The central theme is that a lot of the power development is hidden, so it gets lost or, quite often, a person/art only gets and develops some limited aspects of the full power.

The story of Takeda's power (how sophisticated was it? Was it specialized in some areas and void in others?) and Ueshiba's power (same questions) can be seen as (1.) a sliding-scale series of possibilities that no one has all the answers to, mainly because of the veil that is around the training methods for the I.S. skills.... and (2.) also because of the sliding-scale possibilities that would arise from how sophisticated and strong the martial skills were in conjunction with the I.S. skills.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Charles Hill
09-20-2009, 04:31 PM
Thank you gentlemen.

MM
09-20-2009, 08:14 PM
If it takes a certain amount of "rewiring" from regular old jujutsu to start building aiki, how likely is it that Ueshiba learned all of his aiki from Takeda in the Ayabe period?

Granted, it would certainly seem like Ueshiba learned a great deal of aiki during that year, but I think it's possible that Takeda started him on learning aiki a bit earlier. Ueshiba was a physically strong man. I can't see him just "rewiring" his physical strength to become a powerhouse in one year. Even with all the in-depth training he received.

I would think it more likely that Takeda started him out with training to "rewire" how he used his body earlier and by the Ayabe stay, Ueshiba had done enough training that Takeda *could* really teach him quite a lot of aiki.

If so, it gives a lot of credit to Ueshiba for putting in that solo training time while Takeda was gone. Imagine a physically fit Ueshiba who had learned some other martial arts meeting Takeda and being handled easily. Imagine Takeda telling Ueshiba, nah, you don't need more jujutsu, you should do these solo exercises.

How many here would think, is he putting me on or is he really telling me something worthwhile? Imagine Ueshiba thinking everyone else I know trains more waza, but then again, they don't feel like Takeda. So, Ueshiba puts in the time and in 1922, it pays off big time.

Course, for those inclined to think further, just how long did Ueshiba really study before he was considered great? Certainly not 20 years ... something to think about, no?

My thoughts anyway,
Mark

David Yap
09-20-2009, 08:21 PM
Thank you sifu and sensei for the enlightening discussion.

Warm regards

David Y

dps
09-20-2009, 08:25 PM
If it takes a certain amount of "rewiring" from regular old jujutsu to start building aiki, how likely is it that Ueshiba learned all of his aiki from Takeda in the Ayabe period?

Granted, it would certainly seem like Ueshiba learned a great deal of aiki during that year, but I think it's possible that Takeda started him on learning aiki a bit earlier. Ueshiba was a physically strong man. I can't see him just "rewiring" his physical strength to become a powerhouse in one year. Even with all the in-depth training he received.

I would think it more likely that Takeda started him out with training to "rewire" how he used his body earlier and by the Ayabe stay, Ueshiba had done enough training that Takeda *could* really teach him quite a lot of aiki.

If so, it gives a lot of credit to Ueshiba for putting in that solo training time while Takeda was gone. Imagine a physically fit Ueshiba who had learned some other martial arts meeting Takeda and being handled easily. Imagine Takeda telling Ueshiba, nah, you don't need more jujutsu, you should do these solo exercises.

How many here would think, is he putting me on or is he really telling me something worthwhile? Imagine Ueshiba thinking everyone else I know trains more waza, but then again, they don't feel like Takeda. So, Ueshiba puts in the time and in 1922, it pays off big time.

Course, for those inclined to think further, just how long did Ueshiba really study before he was considered great? Certainly not 20 years ... something to think about, no?

My thoughts anyway,
Mark

I would think given O'Sensei's history of hard physical labor that he already had a basic knowledge (not necessarily consciously) of internal strength though he might not of know it as internal strength or aiki.

David

david

Mike Sigman
09-20-2009, 08:33 PM
If it takes a certain amount of "rewiring" from regular old jujutsu to start building aiki, how likely is it that Ueshiba learned all of his aiki from Takeda in the Ayabe period?Mark, one of the problems in the Takeda discussion is something I run into a lot with Asians who do martial arts. The assumption is that they start at the same level as westerners, so, for example, they're totally ignorant until someone shows them how to start training, and so on. In reality, Asian martial-arts practitioners have often been exposed (at least academically) to a lot of background chatter, discussions, ki-demonstrations, and so on from a number of sources.... so they're not going into the discussion totally blind/ignorant like a lot of westerners who simply have/had no idea about the topic.

So what I'm suggesting is that it's much harder to definitively pinpoint where Ueshiba got all of his information. Besides Takeda being a source, I'll bet Ueshiba was well aware of the general topic and knew where to find other experts he might consult, and so on. If you compare that situation with the average westerner who has only become aware of the topic and general-idea of the skills in the last couple of years, it's not really an appropriate comparison to think of Ueshiba to have been "turned on to ki skills" in the same sudden way. I doubt that it was like that at all.

My 2 cents.

Mike Sigman

Ellis Amdur
09-20-2009, 08:34 PM
John Driscoll has pretty definitely demonstrated that every one - but one - technique in Ueshiba's aikido is contained within the Daito-ryu curriculum. (The one waza is aikido koshinage - for which John makes a very plausible case that it came from Yagyu Shingan-ryu) - http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?filter[1]=John%20Driscoll&t=15096 AND http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?filter[1]=John%20Driscoll&t=14306

In the 1920's, according to Takeshita Isamu's diary, Ueshiba reportedly was doing a lot of research on how to counter judo and "Kito-ryu" - (the exact meaning of what is meant by the latter is unknown, as far as the West is known - Kito-ryu as a school was already almost extinct - I've dealt with that a little in HIPS). From then, according to his students, Ueshiba was apparently "aikifiying" everything - as Sugino quotes him, "In aiki we do it this way."
So in short, if the accounts are correct, we have:

Ueshiba doing martial arts - somewhat - and getting to be a really strong man
Meets Takeda Sokaku - learns Takeda's jujutsu and probably some aiki
Ayabe - r-e-a-l-l-y learns aiki and TRAINS - (remember, this is the guy practicing with his spear in the garden and stabbling so deeply in a cheery tree that they had to cut off the spear shaft and leave the spear head in the trunk of the three).
Continued training with Takeda on an intermittent and increasingly fraught basis for another 15 or so years - AND studies countering judo.
Increasing study of weapons - not enrolling in schools - auditing at best, and mostly observing - and "aikifying" it.
Increasingly making (his) aiki(do) his own - combining all the while with his spiritual pursuits - so, by post war, his art was his own method, with an individualized way of training for power.


Oh yeah - Mark points out that it is impressive the "little" amount of time it took for him to improve - not twenty years. Part of that is surely talent. But I think we should count in minutes of training, not years. And then, make it - minutes of REAL training.
Best
Ellis Amdur

thisisnotreal
09-20-2009, 09:43 PM
I would just like to say thank you to you, Ellis, for this amazing book, and for your research.
To me, one of the standouts of the entire book was this part of the history..with Takeda Sokaku at a focal point. The way you portray Takeda was startling and, to my knowledge, unique. I have not ever read such a compassionate portrayal of the man. The hardships (read; torture) he endured as a young man, and the empathetic analysis you did of his mindset and motivations. Here I am thinking of the way he simultaneously protected himself and reached out via aiki... it was poignant. It puts a great many things in a shifted perspective. It was heart-rending, not to put too fine a point on it. Not to mention the very real world you show us (the reader /me) and not the least of which are the other giants of budo, how and who they were and the connections between them.
-Also; it occurs to me that there is here now playing out a synchronicity between people in different times/motivations doing the same things. An intense sharing and teaching of aiki.
-Also; the mighty poem on p. 99; The Ageless Voyage. It is compelling and very special (to me). "Be honest as you can and the wind is likely to change in your honor as a man". Thank you for your words.

p.s. in a coupla' years....you should write the ‘How To'..not just the ‘It Exists' one... :p

Thank you for the book, for your research, for your time and effort.
It is very much appreciated by many, I am sure.
Sincerely,
Josh

p.s. thanks for the autograph(s) too Mr. Amdur! :)

jxa127
09-20-2009, 10:37 PM
Hi Ellis,

I have to echo Josh: the chapter on Takeda Sokaku is heart-breaking! I can understand a father's anger and frustration toward a willful son, but in no way can I understand torturing the child! It is scary how parents shape their kids, and not all kids find solace, creativity, and (mostly positive) self-expression in martial arts like Takeda.

Beyond that, that chapter and subsequent ones paint a somewhat disturbing picture. As you say:


So in short, if the accounts are correct, we have:

Ueshiba doing martial arts - somewhat - and getting to be a really strong man
Meets Takeda Sokaku - learns Takeda's jujutsu and probably some aiki
Ayabe - r-e-a-l-l-y learns aiki and TRAINS - (remember, this is the guy practicing with his spear in the garden and stabbling so deeply in a cheery tree that they had to cut off the spear shaft and leave the spear head in the trunk of the three).
Continued training with Takeda on an intermittent and increasingly fraught basis for another 15 or so years - AND studies countering judo.
Increasing study of weapons - not enrolling in schools - auditing at best, and mostly observing - and "aikifying" it.
Increasingly making (his) aiki(do) his own - combining all the while with his spiritual pursuits - so, by post war, his art was his own method, with an individualized way of training for power.



If I'm understanding what I'm reading, Takeda's own training consisted of a whole bunch of solo training, learning principles of various arts, figuring stuff out on his own and testing it. He did not do much with kata-based training.

Ueshiba does essentially the same thing: learns a bunch from Tekada and others (but primarily Tekada), picks stuff up from different schools, focuses on principles, works the hell out of them on his own, and tests it.

For that matter, if the legends and William Scott Wilson's new biography of Miyamoto Musashi are to be believed, the Musashi was from the same mold (or was the template for it). He, too, had some formal training, but worked obsessively to get to the core principles of swordsmanship and ended up developing his own style.

It seems that in most cases, the skills of those who followed these men did not rise to their own skill level. As homer says in the Odyssey, "For rarely are sons similar to their fathers: most are worse, and a few are better than their fathers." And how could the followers get that good? They didn't follow the same path.

The lesson must be, then, that to be as good as Takeda or Ueshiba, one must do what they did.

The obvious follow-up to that lesson is that all the stuff done since then to formalize the aikido curriculum is rather beside the point.

Two caveats:

1) After ten years of training, I'm in something of a budo mid-life crisis -- or maybe just a budo adolescence. I worked for a long time to get pretty good, only to find out I wasn't pretty good.

2) I'm not quite done with Hidden in Plain Sight. As I write this, I'm on page 189. I'm a fast reader, with excellent reading comprehension, but this is a dense book! Every page -- hell every paragraph -- has me stopping to really think about what I just read and how it relates to my training.

Warm regards,

Walker
09-21-2009, 02:16 AM
One thing that does stick in my craw a little is
2. That Daito-ryu was not taught in the kata form we see it. In fact, Sagawa states that the "numbers" of kata in the various menkyo were, more or less, because Takeda thought those were lucky numbers. Arbitrary, in other words (which would suggest that the kata were placed on the "matrix" of the numbers later - by someone(s) else, yet another of my speculations.

I am not so sure we can glibly say that something like the Hiden Mokuroku was arbitrary and fluid. From what little I know of various branches including "aiki budo" era aikido I see a remarkable consistency of technical content.

I also counter with Sagawa's statement that Takeda had an excellent memory and could pick up where he left off the next time he taught a student. Remember that there were thousands of students and he would only show up from time to time for seminars. Sagawa didn't say he would show new arbitrary stuff, the statement implies that Sagawa knew what the order was and observed Takeda picking up where he left off without repeating. You will also recall that he did the same thing at Asahi News, saying that Ueshiba has only showed you up to a point and he started teaching from that point.

Not really a big deal, but I would find any theorizing that used a lack of technical syllabus on Takeda's part as a starting point rather suspect.

Tenyu
09-21-2009, 04:28 AM
The staff taught O Sensei Aikido. It’s interesting to watch the 1935 film and see a hint of resistance in his technique before he realized the art. His receptivity was better afterwards. Since there’s no video between the Asahi News footage and the 1950’s that I’m aware of, I would assume he discovered the staff around 1940 when he was almost 60 years old at the same time he freed himself from all the martial techniques of the past. I’m sure he figured out the pragmatic martial subset of Aiki is actually quite limited and easy compared to training within the entire superset of the preformal field.

For O Sensei the staff became an instrument to work directly with the stream of creation. It was much more powerful than a mere weapon.

Ellis Amdur
09-21-2009, 07:33 AM
Walker - I didn't say there wasn't a consistency of technical content. Simply that the mokuroku, in it's current form, was likely not extant at the time.
One interesting idea that I don't think anyone's done. When I started aikido, I was told it had 1000 or 2000 techniques. Which perhaps, from one calculation, might be true, but if we break it down, you end up with about 12-14 techniques, done from a lot of attacks and variations.
If one broke down Daito-ryu the same way - as BIG techniques, not small variations or with different leads in kata, albeit with one core waza, how many actual techniques would you have? The reason I think of this is in Tomei no Chikara, we read that Sagawa threw someone in a public bath with shihonage, he comments on Kimura's difficulty with kotegaeshi. And an acquaitance of mine who watched a class described an entire class of kaitennage. And aiki-age, from an external viewpoint, is aikido's kokyu-ho.
If I'm correct, it may be that the proper name for the mokuroku should be "Variations on a Theme by <Takeda/Someone> - a relatively small body of core waza.
Best
Ellis Amdur

Ellis Amdur
09-21-2009, 07:53 AM
TENYU - Some time ago, you began posting on threads I was on making off-topic pronouncements about your personal views of aikido. I really thought we were finished with that.
You are doing it again.
And given that this thread concerns one chapter of my book, it's contents and ideas that are connected to that, you are off topic. If you would like to start a thread on Osensei and weaponry, feel free. But if you want to do it in the context of HIPS, you might read the book, because it's obvious from your post that you haven't - there is a lot of information on Ueshiba and the staff in that book.
Ellis Amdur

DH
09-21-2009, 08:07 AM
One thing that does stick in my craw a little is
I am not so sure we can glibly say that something like the Hiden Mokuroku was arbitrary and fluid. From what little I know of various branches including "aiki budo" era aikido I see a remarkable consistency of technical content.

I also counter with Sagawa's statement that Takeda had an excellent memory and could pick up where he left off the next time he taught a student. Remember that there were thousands of students and he would only show up from time to time for seminars. Sagawa didn't say he would show new arbitrary stuff, the statement implies that Sagawa knew what the order was and observed Takeda picking up where he left off without repeating. You will also recall that he did the same thing at Asahi News, saying that Ueshiba has only showed you up to a point and he started teaching from that point.

Not really a big deal, but I would find any theorizing that used a lack of technical syllabus on Takeda's part as a starting point rather suspect.
Hi Doug
You really need to look at the main branch, Kodokai, and Takumakai and then the Sagawa branch. They are NOT the same mokuroku, nor the same execution, nor the same emphasis.
How do you explain the sudden "appearance" of a Menkyo Kaiden where none existed before, with all the "techniques" attached to it?" Or the Soden of the Takamukai and some of their teachers going to learn the Syllabus of Tokimune? Sagawa's ten Gen?
There is a reason some of the guys sort of snuck around going to other schools to compare, and then word got around. Certain of that information has been validated by shihan in various branches, and some of it is public information so there is no where to go with that.

There all sorts of options available to believe whatever you want on certain topics. For instance; Takeda not being able to read:

Takeda was by all accounts almost paranoid about safety. He made quite a show of his first rule "Leave no openings."
He had everyone sign his registry
He traveled with Scrolls (written by others-not too unusual in a koryu where sometimes you wrote them yourself)
He stated clearly that he taught different people different things
If it were true that he knew what he taught to whom (who's to say Sagawa wasn't just remembering an incident or two-many "stories" our created out of a few nostalgic remembrances) maybe he had notes on it maybe not.

I find it almost ridiculous to believe that a man of his (supposed) character would leave himself "open" to a such potential threats with a flaw so easily fixed. But that's only opinion worth the price you paid to read it.

As far as being glib.
In light of the evidence of a different syllabus school to school, of dozens of statements and interviews supporting the fact that he taught different people different things -this from both Takeda himself and his students, of interviews which stated over and over that Takeda did not teach techniques, of Tokimune openly stating he re-orgainzed the mokuroku and did not posses a copy of the Menkyo kaiden, of other interviews (many) stating that Takeda did not repeat things, that the Takumakai wanted to (had to?) record things in order to just practice them (there is a whole other story right there), That certain teachers from the Kodokai have stated that not only was the Sagawa dojo "method" different, it's aiki was different, of Sagawa having more and different scrolls than others,...And all of this in light of the fact that most Koryu have established menjo they use and refer to that are not in general "fluid" but are more or less fixed.

I think it is "glib" to believe anything other that the fact that his art WAS fluid.
Cheers
Dan

MM
09-21-2009, 10:17 AM
My next point is more along the lines of Takeda developing his jujutsu "on the fly." I have always contended that this is why the major schools of DR are all so different. Why the Syllabus lack consistency. For that reason I considered and forwarded the idea that the art is fully based on aiki with no real jujutsu syllabus.


Bold is my addition. It's a point that I just reread and thought I'd focus on. I use Ueshiba as an example because he is a good proxy for Takeda. History on Takeda is not as common as history on Ueshiba.

There are quotes from Ueshiba, Kodo, etc that their art is formless. Aiki in the hands of someone who can use it freestyle validates that.

Even looking at Ueshiba and how he changed/altered/whatever the Daito ryu syllabus, it still fits very well that he built/used his spirituality upon his Daito ryu aiki. He used aiki in whatever he chose from the Daito ryu syllabus to enhance his spiritual-ness. Formless because of aiki.

It explains why Takeda would change the name of his art at the prodding of Deguchi. Aiki is central and formless.

It would explain why Ueshiba didn't have any problems with someone calling his art, Aikido. The way of aiki. At that point in time, he was working on that avatar of the kami-thing by way of aiki spirituality. I think the way of aiki to him was his way to the way of spiritual-ness.

As Dan noted, aiki being formless also explains the vast technical curriculum across the range of Daito ryu and aikido schools. Technique doesn't matter as long as the person is aiki.

Ueshiba is quoted as saying, "Aiki? I am aiki!" Takeda could teach whatever version of whatever jujutsu technique that he wanted, and could make it work because he used aiki. Timing (another famous quote by Ueshiba about aiki not needing timing) didn't matter so much, body placement didn't matter so much, because aiki created the openings, the timing, and the body placement. (See also Peter Goldsbury's article where he went over Ueshiba and ushiro training.)

DH
09-21-2009, 12:05 PM
Ellis, Mark
Interesting comments

I personally find the comments of his research after the Ayabe period (with Takeda) being taken up and focused with defeating Judo as almost hilarious (in a good way). He learns aiki, and in the process keeps taking it out for a spin and testing it on Judo guys
He experiments, trains with koryu and changes things even more, then he quits and goes his own way. It is so familiar to me that it is almost surreal.

The Judo experiments, methods and conclusions are not as “original” as many here were led to believe either. Interestingly, or should I say not surprisingly Ueshiba’s teacher Takeda Sokaku used Judo guys and once made a very public display of defeating a bunch of 5 and 6th dans. I covered some of my opinions in that "Judo counters" thread here on aikiweb. Suffice to say that some of the DR people (current or former) reading that thread found it interesting to read of Ueshiba’s magical “discovery” of things he was taught that are still currently taught in DR (I am not panning Ueshiba here- but rather the people who write these sorts of articles). What Ueshiba was actually stating were several rather well known DR principles that were taught to him and were taught then as now. So, getting to read them as either his “discovery” or his “research” or being asked to believe that he had to go elsewhere to discover something he was already shown is simply ridiculous. Of course someone without any understanding of DR could say “This exists over here and over there too. So therefore HE must have, or could have or needed to go over there to get it.” Yet here we all sit reading Ueshiba-a former DR teacher- reciting DR 101 and people saying “Wow what a genius.”
It may be genius all right. But at least that portion (no not all)- I will assign to the one who deserves the credit, Takeda Sokaku.

But this leads us to another point. Is it, or can it be taught today? More’s the point, is Ellis’s idea of how to become them or even surpass them valid? If so how?
Just who and what are the current people in DR doing?
Who is fighting with “aiki-in the body” instead of waza?
Who can demonstrate aiki against a myriad of MAers in open sparring?
How about with weapons; traditional or newer ones against men well versed in them?
Again, I think there is a different level of understanding to be had in going through the process and coming out the other side. One that is easily dismissed, or talked over on the web or in the written word but cannot be so easily dismissed in person.

Time and training -or time-in, in their training
Ueshiba went from cowering and crying in the corner in front of Takeda’s aiki in 1915 to the makings of a budo giant after 1922. That’s just seven years of part time work with Takeda and full time work on his own! Seven years folks!
This is stunning to focus on. We need to take it…and chew on it before swallowing, and think it through.
Let’s get off the “worship the budo giants wagon” and living in days gone by and consider what is possible. Consider what is happening today. Right now!
Consider the changes that are happening in people training this right now.
We have heard the same words from many teachers in Aikido today that are virtual echoes from the past.

“I had my eyes opened to true Budo”
“After 40 years I can’t believe I missed it.”
“I’ve never felt this level of aiki power before.”
“No one teaches this directly.”
“Grabbing you is like grabbing an iron bar”
How can you disappear and hit like a hammer at the same time?”
The point is that these comments; echoes from the early 1900’s, are happening again…today!
Now consider that many of these people are improving at a much faster rate than they ever thought possible. Consider that some of them are seeing an immediate result in their practice. Again, consistent with Takeda and Ueshiba they are stating that the aiki makes all these weird waza happen that otherwise would not, and could not, happen before. Further, that they can move much more efficiently in a free environment undeterred by their opponent. All this from training with a lesser light, a virtual nobody in aiki. Now, imagine, training for hours every day, with Takeda standing there and explaining real details of what is going on the in the body to you day after day, then offering detailed solo training with descriptions of what to do!

I am not as much concerned with Ueshiba’s progress during 1922 but in just the few years that followed. He was taught and he was a diligent student.
You may freely dismiss him a genius and all that and think you will never be able to do what he did and therefore stop trying. I don’t believe it for a minute. In fact I would have loved to have challenged him, Takeda and anyone else in the aiki arts just using…aiki. Why? I am looking past them and daring to believe. I think we need to stop looking at their skill level as unattainable and focus more on what IS possible.
As Ellis put it “How to be them”…in so many steps.
It is not going to "found" in going to the dojo and taking ukemi and going through the ranks. That's for the Budo wallpaper you use to experiment on.
Cheers
Dan

Walker
09-21-2009, 12:14 PM
Ellis and Dan,
I take what you are saying and understand all that, but (and I point this out gently) neither of you have much experience in DR schools.

All I can say is that when Tokimune's dojo in Hokaido released tapes showing the complete Hiden Mokuroku we were able to watch them and see one familiar technique after another; there's that one, and look there's the next one, and that one etc. etc. It must be pointed out that our two branches would have diverged prior to any creation by Tokimune of his own mokuroku. And didn't he learn most of his basics from his mother BTW. Did she just wing it as well?

Similar experience with Roppokai/Kodokai.

I am willing to think in terms of positing that "this group are the basic techniques" and there is only a general order, but I see far more building of more complex upon the more simple to dismiss a relatively consistent DR curriculum from Takeda out of hand.

It is true that DR curriculum seem to enumerate a wide variety of what would be termed henka or oya waza in a more traditional koryu. The interesting thing is that this approach tends to focus attention on the receptions which would be where the "aiki" would be applied as well as many variations (straight wrist/bent wrist, straight arm/curved arm, large movement to smaller movement, etc.) that seem to walk a practitioner through gross technical jujutsu into subtle jujutsu and beyond to what might be posited as an "aiki" jutsu performance.

That may be a longer road than necessary, but can we be sure? I don't know. Can you "aiki" someone without having internalized the grosser pathways of jujutsu waza? Maybe. It might well be a different animal though.

This is strangely analogous to the koryu I practice. A previous head did not think that modern people had a sufficient grasp of the idea of kata moving to henka and inserted a beginning section that illustrated through experience the process while installing beginning self defense skills more directly applicable to modern conditions.

I think there could very well be a method to Takeda's madness. Is it the best method? Don't know.

Maybe Takeda was a genius who could look at a student and evaluating their level give them the next piece of the puzzle. Well, in the absence of the genius himself, the best we can do is follow what has been preserved of the steps he gave others.

jxa127
09-21-2009, 12:58 PM
But this leads us to another point. Is it, or can it be taught today? More’s the point, is Ellis’s idea of how to become them or even surpass them valid? If so how?

Just who and what are the current people in DR doing?

Who is fighting with “aiki-in the body” instead of waza?

Who can demonstrate aiki against a myriad of MAers in open sparring?

How about with weapons; traditional or newer ones against men well versed in them?

Again, I think there is a different level of understanding to be had in going through the process and coming out the other side. One that is easily dismissed, or talked over on the web or in the written word but cannot be so easily dismissed in person.

Time and training -or time-in, in their training
Ueshiba went from cowering and crying in the corner in front of Takeda’s aiki in 1915 to the makings of a budo giant after 1922. That’s just seven years of part time work with Takeda and full time work on his own! Seven years folks!
This is stunning to focus on. We need to take it…and chew on it before swallowing, and think it through.
Let’s get off the “worship the budo giants wagon” and living in days gone by and consider what is possible. Consider what is happening today. Right now!
Consider the changes that are happening in people training this right now.
We have heard the same words from many teachers in Aikido today that are virtual echoes from the past.
---snip---

You may freely dismiss him a genius and all that and think you will never be able to do what he did and therefore stop trying. I don’t believe it for a minute. In fact I would have loved to have challenged him, Takeda and anyone else in the aiki arts just using…aiki. Why? I am looking past them and daring to believe. I think we need to stop looking at their skill level as unattainable and focus more on what IS possible.
As Ellis put it “How to be them”…in so many steps.
It is not going to be "found" in going to the dojo and taking ukemi and going through the ranks. That's for the Budo wallpaper you use to experiment on.
Cheers
Dan

Okay.

Serious question: are "aiki" (those skills that Takeda and Ueshiba demonstrated) and what we commonly think of as "aikido" (a curriculum of techniques embodying certain principles) mutually exclusive?

Regards,

-Drew

Tenyu
09-21-2009, 01:29 PM
TENYU - Some time ago, you began posting on threads I was on making off-topic pronouncements about your personal views of aikido. I really thought we were finished with that.
You are doing it again.
And given that this thread concerns one chapter of my book, it's contents and ideas that are connected to that, you are off topic. If you would like to start a thread on Osensei and weaponry, feel free. But if you want to do it in the context of HIPS, you might read the book, because it's obvious from your post that you haven't - there is a lot of information on Ueshiba and the staff in that book.
Ellis Amdur

Others have mentioned throughout the thread that Takeda taught O Sensei Aiki, I simply pointed out it wasn’t true. He taught him a high level of martial power, but that can easily be achieved without one of Aiki’s primary principles of non-resistance. O Sensei went well beyond the limits of Takeda and DR.

The videos of O Sensei preserve a good amount of his staff work, which anyone can see. Does your book describe the details and forms of his staff art as well?

Ellis Amdur
09-21-2009, 01:59 PM
Others have mentioned throughout the thread that Takeda taught O Sensei Aiki, I simply pointed out it wasn't true. He taught him a high level of martial power, but that can easily be achieved without one of Aiki's primary principles of non-resistance. O Sensei went well beyond the limits of Takeda and DR.

The videos of O Sensei preserve a good amount of his staff work, which anyone can see. Does your book describe the details and forms of his staff art as well?

Sigh - What evidence do you base your assertions on Takeda and Ueshiba? What basis is your claim that the"principal of non-resistance" is not part of Daito-ryu? What basis is your claim that Takeda's "high level of martial power" can easily be achieved? On what basis is your claim that Ueshiba went "well beyond the limits of Takeda and DR," except, possibly, in the moral (doctrinal) sense.
And on that last point, not to discomfit your sanctimonious perspective again, but in a PM sometime ago, I wrote to you about a number of Ueshiba's well-known moral failings, as well as another "spiritual" teacher whom you admire, who was an utter lecherous swine, and neither Ueshiba's failings nor the different failings of this other teacher are actions that we have any evidence whatsoever of Takeda doing.

Finally, in regards to your question about what is in my book regarding staffwork, you've got a lot of brass to come onto a thread ABOUT a book, and demand of the author that, because you haven't read it, he should sum it up to you.
Ellis Amdur

DH
09-21-2009, 02:25 PM
Ellis and Dan,
I take what you are saying and understand all that, but (and I point this out gently) neither of you have much experience in DR schools.

All I can say is that when Tokimune's dojo in Hokaido released tapes showing the complete Hiden Mokuroku we were able to watch them and see one familiar technique after another; there's that one, and look there's the next one, and that one etc. etc. It must be pointed out that our two branches would have diverged prior to any creation by Tokimune of his own mokuroku. And didn't he learn most of his basics from his mother BTW. Did she just wing it as well?

Similar experience with Roppokai/Kodokai.
Hi Doug
Hope all is well. I'm going to disagree abit with you but in the same respectfull manner you used. It's cool.
I sat and watched the same video series along with other private in-house footage of Tokimune and others with a Shihan and teachers who have trained in multiple branches as well. Then went on to experience other views with other teachers in yet another branch of the art. Many years later I found their opinions and mine- do not match yours.


It is true that DR curriculum seem to enumerate a wide variety of what would be termed henka or oya waza in a more traditional koryu. The interesting thing is that this approach tends to focus attention on the receptions which would be where the "aiki" would be applied as well as many variations (straight wrist/bent wrist, straight arm/curved arm, large movement to smaller movement, etc.) that seem to walk a practitioner through gross technical jujutsu into subtle jujutsu and beyond to what might be posited as an "aiki" jutsu performance.

That may be a longer road than necessary, but can we be sure? I don't know. Can you "aiki" someone without having internalized the grosser pathways of jujutsu waza? Maybe. It might well be a different animal though.
Thes are the same arguement points that have been spinning for decades between the branches. I am unconcerned with the debate over jujutsu, aiki-jujutsu and aiki-no-jutsu, for the simple reason that I am distinctly and pointedly "unimpressed" with the abilities of both it's staunchest advocates and feircest detractors. I am no more interested in over extended Frankenstein like jujutsu than I am with fluffy aiki.
I think people in the art would do well to focus on being able to produce something that is actual and combatively real. Something that is abso-freaking-lutley stunning and unstoppable against fighters instead of just talking a good game in their own dojos. In the process of which they might find they actually have something worth listening to. (I'm not aiming that your way Doug. Just to the general debate of jujutsu V aiki.

As far as applying DR aiki in free style and then having it being considered something "other" than DR aiki by the peanut gallery? I have heard all this stuff before from several angles. I am past the point of caring, other than to continually prove that DR aiki always did work and still works in any venue. Even in the face of certain teachers of other Koryu and in DR itself stating that aiki is about "fine motor skills and will fail in an ardenaline dump."

I think there could very well be a method to Takeda's madness. Is it the best method? Don't know.

Maybe Takeda was a genius who could look at a student and evaluating their level give them the next piece of the puzzle. Well, in the absence of the genius himself, the best we can do is follow what has been preserved of the steps he gave others.
The best WE can do?
I am sure you are not alone in calling Takeda's method- madness and therefore are willingly to follow in the footsteps of the modern teachers for the rest of your career as the "best "you" can do."
It sure as hell is NOT the best "I" can do.;)
Come to think of it-just look at the Frankenstein jujutsu V the aikifluff. In and of itself it makes the case of the diverse syllabus from school to school.

Good luck in your training.
Cheers
Dan

DH
09-21-2009, 02:45 PM
Okay.

Serious question: are "aiki" (those skills that Takeda and Ueshiba demonstrated) and what we commonly think of as "aikido" (a curriculum of techniques embodying certain principles) mutually exclusive?

Regards,

-Drew
Hi Drew
What is aiki?
What is Takeda's aiki?
Who has it?
How do you know?
What is Ueshiba's aiki?
Who has it?
How do you know?
Do we follow in the footsteps of others who tell us they have it?
Do we blaze a trail?
I bet neither of them cared what you or I think about aiki.

I don't debate it anymore on the net. You just don't know how qualified peoples opinions are. No, I don't mean rank-I mean skill in aiki. Anyone can say just about anything they want till you touch hands with them. So I touch hands whenever I can with the highest ranked people I can. I haven't felt or seen a body of waza based on principles from anyone in Aikido to be effective at all against aiki.
So there's one opinion that is open to all kinds of intellectual debate and physical challenge. I hope to continue to research and meet the highest ranked Japanese teachers in the world to see if any of them has anything to change my mind. Then I play with MMA types. The results have been pretty interesting from both perspectives.
But that really isn't the topic here.
Cheers
Dan

Walker
09-21-2009, 02:54 PM
Hi Dan,
Thanks for the good rebuttal. Just for the record I do think your viewpoint has value and have followed your thinking for many years. The thing is that I don't disagree, but I'm not ready to throw out the curriculum I study either. I'm sure my teacher would say the same thing to you (and probably has).

For sure I am going to do my best and I'm also sure you will too.

Good luck to us both.

DH
09-21-2009, 02:58 PM
Wait!
Now I see what you mean. I'm not talking about tossing the syllabus. That is not even close to what I meant.
It is the joining of jujutsu WITH aiki that I am advocating. Not either / or. With real aiki in the body taking the lead. If you consider that viewpoint in light of what I wrote earlier about the creation of the various syllabus from Takeda, it presents a clear and cogent explanation. At least my own perspective. Does that make more sense?
Cheers
Dan

C. David Henderson
09-21-2009, 03:06 PM
Perfectly.

Walker
09-21-2009, 03:50 PM
Wait!
Now I see what you mean. I'm not talking about tossing the syllabus. That is not even close to what I meant.
It is the joining of jujutsu WITH aiki that I am advocating. Not either / or. With real aiki in the body taking the lead. If you consider that viewpoint in light of what I wrote earlier about the creation of the various syllabus from Takeda, it presents a clear and cogent explanation. At least my own perspective. Does that make more sense?
Cheers
Dan

Gotcha. One could also add that the more complex the waza (and there are some doozies, aren't there) the more one must have some sort of "aiki" for them to come off even in the dojo. Could that be deliberate?

jxa127
09-21-2009, 03:54 PM
Wait!
Now I see what you mean. I'm not talking about tossing the syllabus. That is not even close to what I meant.


Dan,

Thanks for the response to my post, but also the one above. I, too, was thinking about the syllabus and wondering if it's an either/or situation.

Thanks for the clarification.


Hi Drew
What is aiki?
What is Takeda's aiki?
Who has it?
How do you know?
What is Ueshiba's aiki?
Who has it?
How do you know?
Do we follow in the footsteps of others who tell us they have it?
Do we blaze a trail?
I bet neither of them cared what you or I think about aiki.


I don't know the answers to your questions, but I fully agree with the final statement. :)

Regards,

-Drew

Tenyu
09-21-2009, 04:52 PM
Sigh - What evidence do you base your assertions on Takeda and Ueshiba? What basis is your claim that the"principal of non-resistance" is not part of Daito-ryu? What basis is your claim that Takeda's "high level of martial power" can easily be achieved? On what basis is your claim that Ueshiba went "well beyond the limits of Takeda and DR," except, possibly, in the moral (doctrinal) sense.
And on that last point, not to discomfit your sanctimonious perspective again, but in a PM sometime ago, I wrote to you about a number of Ueshiba's well-known moral failings, as well as another "spiritual" teacher whom you admire, who was an utter lecherous swine, and neither Ueshiba's failings nor the different failings of this other teacher are actions that we have any evidence whatsoever of Takeda doing.

Finally, in regards to your question about what is in my book regarding staffwork, you've got a lot of brass to come onto a thread ABOUT a book, and demand of the author that, because you haven't read it, he should sum it up to you.
Ellis Amdur

True contractive power is made possible only to the degree that one is able to access its corresponding decontracted pole. The greater the reception, decontraction, and compassion, the greater one's power is both manifest and non-manifest. It's described as differential in physics, yang cannot exist unless its yin is equally expressed. On a psychological level if one gets caught up in one's own projected images, the static feedback begins reacting to itself instead of to that which really is thereby shutting off the full dynamic spectrum of perception and action. Resistance of the mind and body are inversely related to one's power and freedom.

"We see others not as they are but as we are"

Fred Little
09-21-2009, 06:19 PM
True contractive power is made possible only to the degree that one is able to access its corresponding decontracted pole. The greater the reception, decontraction, and compassion, the greater one's power is both manifest and non-manifest. It's described as differential in physics, yang cannot exist unless its yin is equally expressed. On a psychological level if one gets caught up in one's own projected images, the static feedback begins reacting to itself instead of to that which really is thereby shutting off the full dynamic spectrum of perception and action. Resistance of the mind and body are inversely related to one's power and freedom.

"We see others not as they are but as we are"

One hardly knows where to begin, but I suppose that one must give somewhere. I'll limit myself to four questions:

1. Why use nonsensical neologisms such as "decontracted," and "decontraction," when perfectly good words of longstanding usage such as "expanded," "expansion" are at hand?

2. Why implicitly posit a connection between mechanical qualities such as contraction and psychological orientations such as compassion?

3. On what basis can one assert a transparent one-to-one relationship between physics, taoist theory, psychological theory, and physiological reality?

4. Can we presume that your understanding of physics, psychology, physiology, and aikido is as impoverished as your badly cribbed abhidharma?

At a minimum, it strikes me as very odd to answer a specific question with a new line of ungrounded assertions.

At a maximum....no, I dare not go even halfway there, for there are certain standards of decorum that need to be reinforced, so I will stop here for now, and just ask a fifth question:

5. Why is it that so many posters with fixations feel obliged to answer questions about their gibberish with yet more gibberish, never pausing for a moment to reflect that neither the ideas they have expressed, nor the manner in which they have expressed them warrant the high regard in which the poster seems to hold both?

Offered, with my apologies to Ellis, as a metacognitive interlude which owes a debt to Gresham.

Regards,

FL

Ellis Amdur
09-21-2009, 06:21 PM
Mr. Hamaki - I'd like to believe you are joking, but I don't think you are. Goodbye - you just made my ignore list. You no longer exist in my world.

Tenyu
09-21-2009, 07:39 PM
You no longer exist in my world.

Uke-centric thought makes one uke.

Masakatsu Agatsu Katsuhayabi.

There Is No Other.

Toby Threadgill
09-21-2009, 07:42 PM
5. Why is it that so many posters with fixations feel obliged to answer questions about their gibberish with yet more gibberish, never pausing for a moment to reflect that neither the ideas they have expressed, nor the manner in which they have expressed them warrant the high regard in which the poster seems to hold both?

Uhhh,

Myopic delusion?

Stormcrow34
09-21-2009, 08:07 PM
It never fails. Just when it is starting to turn into a really good thread, some a**hole has to come along and piss everyone off.:crazy:

Mike Sigman
09-21-2009, 08:23 PM
Just to toss it into the discussion:

The idea of "no resistance" that is used in Aikido is actually an extremely old tenet (back to the supposed "Lao Tsu" writings). In other words, Ueshiba was typically following old Chinese classics in regard to how someone in Aikido an D.R. and many other "high-level" arts is supposed to be. "No resistance, no letting go" is the general idea. "Ju" as in "Judo" follows the same very old classical tenet, as do all the "ju" as in "jujutsu".

It's possible that Ueshiba first heard that idea from Takeda, but I'd doubt it. Being shown how is another question. Being shown as fully how as Ueshiba wound up with is yet another question. But then again... where did Takeda get his ideas and how complete were they? Were they purely offshoots of Takeda's own training and ideas? That's improbable, considering the power if the old Chinese ideas that was floating around in all the martial arts.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Ellis Amdur
09-22-2009, 12:41 AM
Mike - thanks for bringing it back on track. Actually, it seems likely that Takeda was "softer" than Ueshiba. Sagawa's descriptions of Takeda sound remarkably like huajin. If Ueshiba got that soft - it was only as an old guy - and it was then combined with his expansive way of doing technique. As I wrote elsewhere, I think Ueshiba was "power proud," - it was hard to let go of his rather massive muscular power - we see him posing for photos in the mid-fifties, in full flex, as cut as a body builder - obviously proud of the red meat he had under the skin. I wouldn't be at all surprised that some of his post-war technical development was when he finally "got" what Takeda had been doing all along.
es, Takeda did some twisty nasty jujutsu, but if I'm reading the accounts correctly (and this includes those of some of Ueshiba's students), what enabled him to twist people up was his total domination - by "getting inside" the opponent, their force reflected back within them + his own additive. It's very difficult, however, to be able to tell what Takeda did - as each line seems to have a different interpretation based on what they were taught and what they figured out.
Best
Ellis Amdur

Rennis Buchner
09-22-2009, 07:59 AM
I am not so sure we can glibly say that something like the Hiden Mokuroku was arbitrary and fluid. From what little I know of various branches including "aiki budo" era aikido I see a remarkable consistency of technical content.


Maybe not arbitrary in content, but Sokaku's art definitely seemed to be something of a "work in progress" and regularly changed and developed over the years.

While possibly unrelated, but I had completely forgotten about this conversation, but 9 or 10 years ago I was having a discussion with my iai sensei about his childhood and what not and asking about his father who ran a small jujutsu dojo out in the sticks up here in Akita as well as being very active in sumo as well. At one point I asked what his father had studied and he said "Takeda-ryu". I asked if this was connected to Takeda Sokaku and he basically said that it was what everyone today calls Daito-ryu, and commented that even the name "Daito-ryu" wasn't really used in that area of Tohoku and no one called it that and only started coming up later. Unfortunately my sensei's father died young and my sensei himself had moved to Tokyo in his later teens to study karate and didn't return until he was in his 30's so I'm not sure he even knows all that much about details of his father's training, although a couple of years ago he did show me an exercise his father had them do as a kid instead of shiko (for those curious, basically the exercise is you drop into a very low horse stance and then bounce yourself, while staying "in stance", forward, then back to center, backward, back to center, right, back to center, left, back to center, repeat. At first it just looks like you are jumping, but now I suspect there was more intended than meets the eye).

Random thoughts,
Rennis Buchner

Keith Larman
09-22-2009, 09:21 AM
Uhhh,

Myopic delusion?

Many years ago in a Philosophy of Religion class I watched a fella melt down completely. He was quite, um, adamant in his beliefs and it seemed he took the class thinking that given he had been raised in a so thoroughly devoutly religious family that a philosophy of religion class would be an easy class to sail through. Unfortunately his pleasant little sailing boat of constant affirmation of beliefs ran ashore in the class during a discussion of the formal logic underlying some arguments against the existence of God. It was a very good discussion (albeit the normal dry evaluation of logic) right up until he suddenly stood up, start saying things like "Jesus equals love and since love is good then Jesus must be good therefore..." He went on a sort of free-form mental dumping of incoherent blather for a few moments, looked around the class with those wide, crazy eyes of a person whose entire web of belief appeared to be about to collapse, then ran out of the room never to return.

I remembered that reading that post...

Keith Larman
09-22-2009, 09:23 AM
Gotcha. One could also add that the more complex the waza (and there are some doozies, aren't there) the more one must have some sort of "aiki" for them to come off even in the dojo. Could that be deliberate?

I've often wondered if most techniques are really more or less puzzles intended to stress the students ability to do them with aiki more than anything else. "Ha, try it this way!"

Stormcrow34
09-22-2009, 09:38 AM
I've often wondered if most techniques are really more or less puzzles intended to stress the students ability to do them with aiki more than anything else. "Ha, try it this way!"

Now that's an interesting idea!

Are these mokuroku confirming the teachers ability to consistently perform those techniques with aiki? Could that be why they are all different? Different students/teachers taught different things that result in different expressions/waza?

DH
09-22-2009, 10:44 AM
The only real problem-if we are discussing DR- is that the stickiness or ability to draw someones power in is a skill that is essential for the connectedness in the waza-particularly the more complex ones. And it is almost never going to be developed by doing the waza. The percentage of people who "get it" (DR suffers the same issues as Aikido-a lot of people...smelling up the place) is low, for the simple reason that kata is simply the dumb ass way -to- try and get it. When you work on the body; all the aiki effects follow as your body changes. Gradually all of these "things" start to happen.
The power side is the other side of the same coin. Where it starts to get complex is that there are things you can do to make the body absorb and issue power at the same time and THIS is fully displayed in various techniques as well

The idea of having to focus on Waza or Aiki from the beginning is simply nonsense. The fact that Takeda said it to people, doesn't make it true. There are any number of reasons for him stating a lie as fact. Chief among them is him being "Japanese." The truth of it is rather obvious; that he could have-by choice- taught anyone aiki. I hate to think of the reasons for the ones he chose to raise up as being as base as they first appear-Money and prestige. But the fact remains that those who became the "stars" Sagawa, Ueshiba, Kodo, all came from money.
Hisa, I suspect, was a revenge, a slap in the face to the defecting Ueshiba. Not withstanding the prestige of teaching at the Asahi Newspaper dojo. Not surprisingly it was beautifully capped off with the appropriate finishing touch of the appearance of the first Menkyo Kaiden. Large size in a full formal portrait. "Hey Ueshiba!! Look what you still don't know." It was all show of course. But since he was "the man" it sent others scrambling to get there's as well. The more recent of which I sited in an earlier post where Tokimune himself had to "borrow one" to copy it for Kondo. Budo...

I knew full well that my ideas of Takeda making it up as he went along was not going to be received well in any venue. But the evidence is obvious and pervasive. The diversity of the syllabus is the most obvious, the ever growing number of scrolls, the creation of the Menkyo-all while Takeda was alive. No traceable lineage line, no extent scrolls predating Takeda. There are other anecdotal stories-like Rennis being told Takeda ryu morphed into Daito ryu-kicking around in the weeds as well; there is an early interview in AJ with discussions of selecting the name. Other hints where there was a supposed discussion between Kotaro and Kodo about the early scrolls. The obvious and weird stories of never repeating a technique! You can almost take the entirety of the Daito ryu story and put up against more common norms in Koryu and it's all damn strange. The single validation is the immense and undeniable presence of Takeda. Both his family and clan history and his phenomenal skill. Then you had his ability to teach; Sagawa, Kodo and Ueshiba further proved its worth. The method-from way back in the day-was so kick ass, that no one questioned whatever Takeda chose to say about. I would guess were he to have said he was a ninja, we would all be talking about the ninja art of Takeda.

Jujutsu V aiki
The single greatest attribute of Daito ryu is NOT its jujutsu. I don't argue with those in DR who bandy about the "brilliance" of its jujutsu. Every Koryu menkyo I know, looks at DR jujutsu and it "supposed" Koryu usage and sort of smiles. Most will not say anything publicly but they state flatly that "that stuff is weird" Or "that ain't koryu jujutsu." It is a testiment to Tatemae / Honne just to see how certain well known DR teachers are "received" and then what is actually said about them in Koryu circles. As far as the overal opinion of DR. I will be so bold as to say that I am making headway. None of the Koryu people I know gave it much respect at all, and no one in grappling or MMA venues would do anything but laugh till they felt what I could do with it's aiki. And they STILL don't think much of its jujutsu. I said to a former teacher of mine "Stop resenting it, I go places you can't, and fight with it without loss of reputation and do things FOR the art that you could never accomplish."

DR isn't koryu. But it has something at its core that is brilliant and stands head and shoulders above koryu. It's all about the aiki. And the aiki is all about the body. Only then does "your juts" have the real juice. Personally even then I wouldn't give you a nickle for most of their jujutsu. If you take the same body attributes and the same principles; they seamlessly apply to more rational movement in modern combatives. Further, you become aiki and anti-aiki to anyone trying to do aiki to you. No Aiki from Aikido or Daito ryu will work on me. I'll just stand there looking at you. In summation I still look at most of the practice shown in the aiki arts and see it all as missing the forest for the trees.
The real power- isn't in the juts.
Dan

DH
09-22-2009, 11:26 AM
Now that's an interesting idea!

Are these mokuroku confirming the teachers ability to consistently perform those techniques with aiki? Could that be why they are all different? Different students/teachers taught different things that result in different expressions/waza?
Are you discussing the Mokuroku they were given by Takeda or the syllabus they taught?;)
Where does the ten Gen of Sagawa and Sagawa's method of imparting Aiki, match up with the hidden mokuroku, goshin yo-no-te etc. that he was given? And how does that compare with the Hidden Mokuroku of Tokimune (which he states he re-organized) and their public and private opinion of the aiki of the Kodokai and Roppokai, and all of that compared to the syllabus of the Kodokai and then compared to the Soden of the Takumakai? Now add in Ueshiba!!
And where do they all teach in a consistent, organized, step-by-step process that matches the scrolls, school to school, as in the koryu that follow their menjo?
Now there's an interesting discussion. Where did Takeda make it up as he went along -and his students (who got it) simply followed their teacher's example?;)

I suspect that the ones who were bright enough to pursue it (after Takeda gave them the methods for internal power/ aiki) and develop it- walked into another of the shining attributes of this work. Awareness, inventiveness, a universal potential in all things, and continued growth. Internal power / aiki is formless and it continues to both create and reveal. The same talent and ability that first imparted it to you doesn't simply go away...it grows.
You simply keep changing.

Dan

Stormcrow34
09-22-2009, 11:43 AM
I remember reading in "Conversations With Daito Ryu Masters" that Takeda used to lay down at night and stretch out his arms and make strange movements with his fingers. I wonder what he was doing? Tracing patterns in the air maybe? Any ideas?

MM
09-22-2009, 11:49 AM
I knew full well that my ideas of Takeda making it up as he went along was not going to be received well in any venue. But the evidence is obvious and pervasive. The diversity of the syllabus is the most obvious, the ever growing number of scrolls, the creation of the Menkyo-all while Takeda was alive. No traceable lineage line, no extent scrolls predating Takeda. There are other anecdotal stories-like Rennis being told Takeda ryu morphed into Daito ryu-kicking around in the weeds as well; there is an early interview in AJ with discussions of selecting the name. Other hints where there was a supposed discussion between Kotaro and Kodo about the early scrolls. The obvious and weird stories of never repeating a technique! You can almost take the entirety of the Daito ryu story and put up against more common norms in Koryu and it's all damn strange. The single validation is the immense and undeniable presence of Takeda. Both his family and clan history and his phenomenal skill.

Are you discussing the Mokuroku they were given by Takeda or the syllabus they taught?;)
Where does the ten Gen of Sagawa and Sagawa's method of imparting Aiki, match up with the hidden mokuroku, goshin yo-no-te etc. that he was given? And how does that compare with the Hidden Mokuroku of Tokimune (which he states he re-organized) and their public and private opinion of the aiki of the Kodokai and Roppokai, and all of that compared to the syllabus of the Kodokai and then compared to the Soden of the Takumakai? Now add in Ueshiba!!
And where do they all teach in a consistent, organized, step-by-step process that matches the scrolls, school to school, as in the koryu that follow their menjo?
Now there's an interesting discussion. Where did Takeda make it up as he went along -and his students (who got it) simply followed their teacher's example?;)

I suspect that the ones who were bright enough to pursue it (after Takeda gave them the methods for internal power/ aiki) and develop it- walked into another of the shining attributes of this work. Awareness, inventiveness, a universal potential in all things, and continued growth. Internal power / aiki is formless and it continues to both create and reveal. The same talent and ability that first imparted it to you doesn't simply go away...it grows.
You simply keep changing.

Dan

If I understand correctly, the sword was also "on its way out", so to speak. The incident with Takeda and the workers highlights this. Without the sword, perhaps Takeda took to unarmed to further his skill? To do that, you have to work with something, some sort of unarmed techniques.

Maybe those with a better understanding of koryu can correct me here, but wouldn't koryu be more strict in how it was taught? If Takeda wanted some free reign to "play" and keep learning, it would have been a rather weird choice for him to do so through a koryu.

So, maybe Takeda took the option that gave him the most room to do what he wanted -- create his own way using the aiki body skills. And maybe that "complex" waza was just Takeda seeing what he could do with his aiki? I'm sure even Takeda kept learning and growing in his abilities and skills.

Keith Larman
09-22-2009, 11:51 AM
The only real problem-if we are discussing DR- is that the stickiness or ability to draw someones power in is a skill that is essential for the connectedness in the waza-particularly the more complex ones. And it is almost never going to be developed by doing the waza.

Hey, Dan, just riffing on this part of your post... Not DR as it ain't my area at all.

The late R. Kobayashi-sensei used to tell our group that advanced techniques were nothing more than simplified basics. That expression used to have me scratching my head, but over the years I began to realize the meaning of it. We build up the more complicated waza but as they start to fall apart we have to go back to very basic things. Testing balance, structure, movement, power, intent. And usually the problem with executing the more advanced waza could be traced back into simply not doing some basic thing well. Poor posture, no support, no grounding, trying to muscle instead of using that "something else", etc. So we'd end up back at things like tests, the aiki taiso, etc. looking at what needed to be fixed. Then build back up.

So no argument with me about the necessity of developing the body/skills/feel. But the larger picture is still that eventually you want to utilize those skills under increasingly difficult scenarios. Which I think was the point I was trying to make. Kinda like "Okay, you can do a basic ikkyo. Now try doing it this way..." as a means of increasing the student's ability to instantiate those skills in increasingly challenging situations.

There is no question you have to have the basic skills first.

Ellis Amdur
09-22-2009, 12:05 PM
Maybe those with a better understanding of koryu can correct me here, but wouldn't koryu be more strict in how it was taught? If Takeda wanted some free reign to "play" and keep learning, it would have been a rather weird choice for him to do so through a koryu.

So, maybe Takeda took the option that gave him the most room to do what he wanted -- create his own way using the aiki body skills. And maybe that "complex" waza was just Takeda seeing what he could do with his aiki? I'm sure even Takeda kept learning and growing in his abilities and skills.

Mark - let me answer part of your question. Depends on the koryu. For example, Kashima Shin-ryu is both strict in it's teachings, but gave someone like Kunii Zen'ya all the room he needed for free-style testing of his waza and continued research. Other koryu were really "ko" - Old - and rigidly went through the motions.
But I think Takeda was a creative, revolutionary figure - why bind oneself up in someone else's ryu when he WAS his own ryu. He had something absolutely his own. Imagine being handed a piano with only white keys and somehow you discover the black keys. Why confine yourself to the old instrument? Which leads to the speculation that many of his successors, re-confined themselves in a Japanese cultural zone - all or mostly white keys, with maybe one or two black keys thrown in. (Strained metaphor, to be sure).
BTW - I just got it on very good authority - a headmaster of one of the extant koryu that up through Taisho period - 1925 ending - a substantial number, maybe most koryu had solo breathing and other practices - but that a) a lot of these people died in WWII, and b) most ryu no longer practice c) to his frustration, even with HIM demonstrating the value of this type of tanren training, most of his students do not do it. "They don't't have time" or "I can't do that around other people. They will think I'm crazy."

As for the complex body skills, the way I've seen it - as described in HIPS - is a combination of waza giving him a means of transacting his way though society, not so simple as mere monetary gain, but the very complexity gave him the ability to teach in a sustain way for 5 - 10 days, keep everyone occupied, happy AND actually learning something - but he'd be on his way without giving away the real source of his power. AND - it think it was human origami. There must have been times that he was saying, inside, "I can do anything I want to these people. I wonder if I can stack four of them up with their feet twisted in each other's ears. Let's see!"

Best
Ellis Amdur

Kevin Karr
09-22-2009, 04:22 PM
So, although I really appreciate all the in-depth information provided in this thread, as one who currently trains in Aikido, it leaves me with some curious conclusions:

1. Daito Ryu, and Aikido to an even greater extent, are strange and weird systems of jujutsu that have no combative or self-defense value, and, in addition, have huge technical holes in them.

2. Aiki is basically extinct from modern Aikido and only a few individuals possess any accurate knowledge on how to foment such ability within the practitioner. This is akin to being able to actually find an authentic Koryu teacher or ryu-ha in the U.S. (few and far between).

3. The development of Aiki, or "Inner Strength" is better achieved through Chinese systems of practice.

4. That DR or Aikido are not even very effective ways to deliver this Aiki or "Inner Strength." One would be much better served with a more direct "fighting system."

This is not meant in a mean-spirited way at all, but, is this what we are getting at here?

Ellis Amdur
09-22-2009, 05:02 PM
So, although I really appreciate all the in-depth information provided in this thread, as one who currently trains in Aikido, it leaves me with some curious conclusions:
1. Daito Ryu, and Aikido to an even greater extent, are strange and weird systems of jujutsu that have no combative or self-defense value, and, in addition, have huge technical holes in them.
2. Aiki is basically extinct from modern Aikido and only a few individuals possess any accurate knowledge on how to foment such ability within the practitioner. This is akin to being able to actually find an authentic Koryu teacher or ryu-ha in the U.S. (few and far between).
3. The development of Aiki, or "Inner Strength" is better achieved through Chinese systems of practice.
4. That DR or Aikido are not even very effective ways to deliver this Aiki or "Inner Strength." One would be much better served with a more direct "fighting system."
This is not meant in a mean-spirited way at all, but, is this what we are getting at here?
I shan't speak for anyone else, but here's my take - which is the thrust of my book. Following caveats which may, by now, be unnecessary. I have never practiced Daito-ryu and had about five, albeit very intense years of training in aikido back in the 1970's. My training and perspective is informed largely from other martial arts.
#1 - DR and aikido ARE strange and weird systems. They are not koryu, which means that they are not congruent with a traditional Japanese culture when the martial arts fully fit the society they were in. They are also not simply practical systems - which makes them strange. BUT - both a) have in different ways, emerged from and have "transcended" the traditional culture from which they emerged. b) Have many values aside from "self-defense," - and these values are unique to each martial art c) Very definitely CAN have extreme value as self-defense or fighting arts, whether or not they would equal muay thai in a ring, or CQB for the battlefield. As I wrote in my first book, Dueling with OSensei, what if you gave everything you had to aikido - what if you practiced shomen-uchi and yokomen-uchi three hours a day, for example? Just that. And learned to put your whole body behind it, without overstriking, and using the off-hand to protect yourself. That there are far more efficient ways to learn to fight (in whatever venue you choose) is without doubt, in my view. But I could run a list of aikidoka, for example, whom I would NEVER want to fight - and I'm selecting them from among people who had little or no outside martial arts training (not the aikidoka who also did x martial art).
#2 YES! That's why I wrote the book - what I desired in aikido was the gold. When I found that, for me, there was good copper only, I went elsewhere. What stunned me was, now 20+ years after quitting, the realization that the gold HAD been there, buried and was largely lost/ignored. Simultaneously buried to an almost unreachable level and right on the surface all along. But I wrote my book to wake up and interest folks - in DR and in koryu as well, btw - that it is attainable not by demi-gods, but by US. And although there are few teachers who "have it" or even cared (otherwise, they would have "stolen" it, one way or another, even if Ueshiba wasn't teaching it explicitly), it can still be learned and recovered and returned in one form or another - to aikido, and I would imagine, if desired, to Daito-ryu as well.
#3 - No. Not necessarily. Man, the b.s. in Chinese martial arts is eyebrow high. It is very difficult there as well to find a teacher who is versed in those skills, and willing to teach - really teach. There are, however, more than we can find - YET - in modern aikido and DR, in my opinion.
#4 - In HIPS, I referred to the waza as the bottle and the IT as the brandy - without a bottle, where is the liquid? On the floor.
IT alone does not do it (note an earlier, I think on this thread, mention of I-ch'uan). The various containers you choose are a matter of taste, personal prediliction, etc. The problem that CAN come up with an art like aikido or DR is that one can be led to spend so long on the container (which embodies the culture, the techniques and the worldview, which can be, in it's own right, of supreme value), that one is never taught or lacks an interest in the brandy/IT. There is absolutely NOTHING that forbids a teacher from introducing IT training from the first day. Still - MANY will not do it. I'd like to again mention a recent account from a prominent koryu headmaster - who has IT - and explains how necessary it is - and teaches it clearly - yet most of his students don't practice the internal training exercises.
Anyway, IT + aikido could be done right away - not as a bonbon (called a gokui) given years and years later.
Sorry for the length, but I think your questions deserve to be treated with real respect.
Ellis Amdur

tarik
09-22-2009, 05:11 PM
Sorry for the length, but I think your questions deserve to be treated with real respect.


While I didn't have the same questions or concerns, I appreciated very much reading your commentary which I think addresses a lot more than just Kevin's comments and could not resist expressing that.

Thanks,

Kevin Karr
09-22-2009, 05:22 PM
Cool. Much appreciated!

gdandscompserv
09-22-2009, 07:07 PM
In HIPS, I referred to the waza as the bottle and the IT as the brandy - without a bottle, where is the liquid? On the floor.
IT alone does not do it (note an earlier, I think on this thread, mention of I-ch'uan). The various containers you choose are a matter of taste, personal prediliction, etc. The problem that CAN come up with an art like aikido or DR is that one can be led to spend so long on the container (which embodies the culture, the techniques and the worldview, which can be, in it's own right, of supreme value), that one is never taught or lacks an interest in the brandy/IT. There is absolutely NOTHING that forbids a teacher from introducing IT training from the first day. Still - MANY will not do it. I'd like to again mention a recent account from a prominent koryu headmaster - who has IT - and explains how necessary it is - and teaches it clearly - yet most of his students don't practice the internal training exercises.
Anyway, IT + aikido could be done right away - not as a bonbon (called a gokui) given years and years later.
Sorry for the length, but I think your questions deserve to be treated with real respect.
Ellis Amdur
I am hopeful for the future that we can all integrate better aiki skills into our training. It does however seem a rare talent (knowing IT and teaching IT.) It is my sincere wish that those that know IT, share IT. Seriously, color me interested. Now, to find a teacher.

Stormcrow34
09-22-2009, 08:25 PM
I am hopeful for the future that we can all integrate better aiki skills into our training. It does however seem a rare talent (knowing IT and teaching IT.) It is my sincere wish that those that know IT, share IT. Seriously, color me interested. Now, to find a teacher.

I feel exactly the same way...

Ellis Amdur
09-22-2009, 10:04 PM
BTW - I didn't reply to some posts a while back. Regarding thee character of Takeda Sokaku. Truth be told, as fascinating as the rest of the subjects of the rest of the book are to me, the ultimate reason I ended up turning those essays into book form was an opportunity to attempt a "resurrection" of Sokaku as a man, as well as the boy, Tokimune.
BTW - if it is true, as some in the know have asserted, that Tokimune didn't learn "aiki" deeply (and I think that may be true - based on his formulation of aiki as essentially the same thing as "kuzushi"), one thing that really grabs me. I can sort of understand him not learning from his father. Sokaku did not know how to teach children, and he was not present during much of his childhood. But the thing that bugs me is this - Sue dies in a theater fire, trampled to death, and Sokaku just hits the road, essentially abandoning the all the children to the "care" of Tokimune, then 15. In Daito-ryu Masters, Mrs. Horikawa describes, in circumspect fashion, Tokimune coming to their house for nurturance/guidance. Why did Horikawa Kodo not take the boy under his wing and teach him everything he knew? Ok, maybe he tried, and Tokimune refused - that's a possibility. Maybe he thought that if his Sokaku wanted that, HE would have taught him. But somehow, I don't think that's it. Another puzzle without an answer.
Ellis Amdur

Rennis Buchner
09-23-2009, 01:37 AM
Why did Horikawa Kodo not take the boy under his wing and teach him everything he knew? Ok, maybe he tried, and Tokimune refused - that's a possibility. Maybe he thought that if his Sokaku wanted that, HE would have taught him. But somehow, I don't think that's it. Another puzzle without an answer.

While I agree the answer is most likely unknowable, I would suspect some of the teacher/student relation could have strongly been at play here. My own sensei is generally a product of teachers from roughly the same period, and while he is modern enough to know that much of that wouldn't fly today, he still relays to me a lot about the dynamic of what he experienced in hope that some of us try and adopt some of that mindset ourselves. I recall one story where one of his teachers, a very senior life long kendo and Itto-ryu swordsman actually broke protocol and asked sensei (by this point an instructor of Goju-ryu karate by profession running his own dojo) to check him the Sanchin kata as he felt there was much he could learn from the breathing methods included there. While most of us in the modern audience would admire this teacher for not resting on his seniority and wanting to learn something of value, even if from one of his own students, I was told the reaction at the time was one of shock. Supposedly my sensei was aghast that his sensei would even suggest such a thing and flat out refused saying that it was inconceivable that the student teach his teacher. He would also tell stories about how if his sensei was asleep everyone would have stay awake and “guard” him as it were (such demands were of course never made, but it was the student's duty).

While I've never looked closely into the issue, it seems to me that most of Takeda's “senior” guys all were very proper in their relationship with Takeda (Ueshiba was famous for it), and I would have a hard time imagining any of those guys taking the step from helping out Takeda's son to actually “teaching” him. Maybe if Takeda had died, but he was still floating around and had a habit of showing up completely at random. If I remember correctly, he got quite upset at some of his own students for teaching their own kids (although those “kids” did alright in the long run under Sokaku), so I could only image the reaction if one of them got caught teaching Sokaku's own son behind his back. But in the end who really knows. The human element at work between all these people makes it seem to easy to me to say that this was the only factor at work here. (shrugs)

Random thoughts,
Rennis Buchner

Stormcrow34
09-23-2009, 07:35 AM
Did Sokaku really have to travel so much to teach? I'm sure someone as notably ferocious as thee Sokaku Takeda could have students lining up down the street.

Aside from the paranoia of being targeted for revenge, I wonder if Sokaku may have wanted to stay away because he didn't like what the family tradition had done to him, and he didn't like what it was doing to his family? Perhaps it was compassion and not negligence that kept him on the move.

Ellis Amdur
09-23-2009, 10:46 AM
Actually, that's covered in HIPS. I don't know anything about this "revenge" thing - I think that's just people's fantasy. As far as I know, nobody was looking to revenge themselves on Sokaku anyway. And the idea of compassion to not "pass on" the family tradition denotes a kind of modern Western psychological insight that I have seen no evidence was part of his character - so much else that of the way he lived does not display that kind of insight.
I don't want to rewrite that chapter here - but in brief, I see him as "having" to move - that his early background and the innate character that "met" that background afflicted him with an "attachment" disorder - and moving around and the medium of teaching jujutsu waza in short bursts - enabled him to connect with people without getting tied.
Ellis Amdur

Cliff Judge
09-23-2009, 12:45 PM
I had a question about the menkyo in "Shinkage" that Takeda gave to Ueshiba.

Mr Amdur, while I really like your theory that this was meant as a special certificate granted to Ueshiba to sort of mark him as the "special student" who fit a mold that Takeda saw himself as coming from, I simply wasn't aware of this before I read that chapter of HIPS and was wondering if you could illuminate me on the following two points:

1) What are the prevailing theories of what this certificate was about? The passage sounds like you are advancing the theory to counter other claims which I am not familiar with. I think you imply that this certificate has been used to claim that there is a direct (Yagyu?) Shinkage Ryu influence on Aikido. What all has been said about this?

2) Can you help me develop a picture of the context within this took place? Would it have been normal for a teacher of the martial arts to give such a certificate to a leading student? I'm not a student of koryu but I always thought the classical schools were sort of rigid in what licenses / certificates they awarded students, and I had always though they were sort of like "levels."

MM
09-23-2009, 12:56 PM
Actually, that's covered in HIPS. I don't know anything about this "revenge" thing - I think that's just people's fantasy. As far as I know, nobody was looking to revenge themselves on Sokaku anyway. And the idea of compassion to not "pass on" the family tradition denotes a kind of modern Western psychological insight that I have seen no evidence was part of his character - so much else that of the way he lived does not display that kind of insight.
I don't want to rewrite that chapter here - but in brief, I see him as "having" to move - that his early background and the innate character that "met" that background afflicted him with an "attachment" disorder - and moving around and the medium of teaching jujutsu waza in short bursts - enabled him to connect with people without getting tied.
Ellis Amdur

Speaking of, Ellis ...

The history that you showed between Takeda and his father and ...

The incident where Takeda almost stabs Tokimune as Tokimune goes to wake Takeda ...

Do you think that this incident with Tokimune sort of reinforced Takeda's staying away so that he wouldn't become like his father? Or would you see it more toward Takeda's "attachment" disorder?

I could even see the Tokimune incident frightening Takeda in that he almost killed his son. I know of incidents where mothers scolded their children when similar incidents happen and the scolding was based upon their fears of death or great harm. And since there's little history of Takeda treating his son like his father treated him, perhaps Takeda was trying to break that cycle?

Thanks,
Mark

Ellis Amdur
09-23-2009, 01:47 PM
Mark - You could be right. I can come up with three alternatives:
1) Yours, essentially, "Oh, my God, what have I done!" - the problem is that he did have a lot to do with his son at various periods - traveled with him, etc. It was just punctuated at other times of him leaving, saying things like who knows if I'll come back.
2) The "paranoid solution," which does fit his character, as we know it. Paranoia is the most primitive psychological defense against being vulnerable - in essence, you become a "porcupine." Anything that might really "touch" you has to go through the quills. Interestingly, such people sometimes have one person who gets through, whom they trust. As there are absolutely no accounts of Takeda being abusive to his wife - none - and this is typical of many of a paranoid character, I wonder if Sue was the one. Mrs. Horikawa seems to think so,in her interview in Pranin's book. There is in that story a novel far beyond me - but what an untold story that relationship must have been.
3) He really didn't give a damn. I do not believe that for an instant - Takeda showed too much passion and in his own tormented way, too much caring for people (Ueshiba among them). As I wrote, I think the whole dispute about debts and money owed and the fraught relationship was the only way these two men, particularly Takeda, could evidence how important Ueshiba was to him.
Best
Ellis

Ellis Amdur
09-23-2009, 02:04 PM
Cliff wrote:
I had a question about the menkyo in "Shinkage" that Takeda gave to Ueshiba.

Mr Amdur, while I really like your theory that this was meant as a special certificate granted to Ueshiba to sort of mark him as the "special student" who fit a mold that Takeda saw himself as coming from, I simply wasn't aware of this before I read that chapter of HIPS and was wondering if you could illuminate me on the following two points:

1) What are the prevailing theories of what this certificate was about? The passage sounds like you are advancing the theory to counter other claims which I am not familiar with. I think you imply that this certificate has been used to claim that there is a direct (Yagyu?) Shinkage Ryu influence on Aikido. What all has been said about this?

2) Can you help me develop a picture of the context within this took place? Would it have been normal for a teacher of the martial arts to give such a certificate to a leading student? I'm not a student of koryu but I always thought the classical schools were sort of rigid in what licenses / certificates they awarded students, and I had always though they were sort of like "levels."

1. There have been no theories about this certificate - it's just blandly, incuriously reported - which is why so many myths have built up. But - the reason for the spurious Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, in this case, connection:

Ueshiba referred frequently to studying "Yagyu" - and everyone, including the historians, assumed it must be Yagyu Shinkage-ryu. "What else could it be?" So then it turns out it was the very different Yagyu Shingan-ryu.
And then, there is the fact that Ueshiba did teach his version of some Yagyu Shinkage-ryu kata, derived from Gejo Kosaburo. As Tomiki stated cleaerly that he learned Yagyu Shinkage-ryu sword from Ueshiba, it is likely at the same time that a few others did - and later, Hikitzuchi as well. So it was a meme floating around.
And then, here is this certificate in the Ueshiba family possession. It MUST be connected. But no-one connected the dots - particularly that it DOESN'T say Yagyu and it also says Shinkage-ryu JUJUTSU.


#2 - Koryu is not like that, anyway. My teacher in Araki-ryu was suddenly handed two menkyo at one time. He said to his teacher, "But, but" - and was told, "But we have nothing left to teach you." I had a shoden menkyo in Buko-ryu and was about to demonstrate with Nitta sensei at the Budokan (which caused rather a stir, gaijin as the top student rep of a koryu) - and she said, "Oh, by the way, you are chuden now, aren't you?" And I replied, "No, just shoden." She said, "What? I forgot. And wrote out a chuden and an okuden menkyo on the same day. I can't remember - they might be dated different.
And aside from that, Takeda wasn't koryu in his thinking. He created a menkyo kaiden - a new rank - to give to Hisa Takuma for reasons that it is fair to speculate did not only pertain to skill. Such a cert. does not have waza on it - just the name of the people involved, and the cert. title. I simply am of the opinion, given that Takeda is not known to have studied anything called Shinkage-ryu jujutsu and it never gave it to anyone else that it was written to symbolize something uniquely meaningful between the two men. Until things went drastically south, Ueshiba was Takeda's favorite student. Stanley Pranin stated that he has evidence that Takeda intended to make Ueshiba his successor. Tokimune stated that Takeda loved Ueshiba best.
One more thing on formality. The way I got one of my ranks from one of my teachers - we are sitting at a table drinking and he leans back and says, "Oh yeah, you are mokuroku menkyo now." No ceremony. I never got a certificate (they are expensive, or if you do them yourself, time consuming).
Best
Ellis Amdur

MM
09-23-2009, 02:31 PM
Mark - You could be right. I can come up with three alternatives:


And your post brings up another interesting thing ...


2) The "paranoid solution," which does fit his character, as we know it. Paranoia is the most primitive psychological defense against being vulnerable - in essence, you become a "porcupine." Anything that might really "touch" you has to go through the quills. Interestingly, such people sometimes have one person who gets through, whom they trust. As there are absolutely no accounts of Takeda being abusive to his wife - none - and this is typical of many of a paranoid character, I wonder if Sue was the one. Mrs. Horikawa seems to think so,in her interview in Pranin's book. There is in that story a novel far beyond me - but what an untold story that relationship must have been.


So, going with your theory about Sue, in 1930 she dies. That's got to affect Takeda fairly deeply. Who would he turn to? As you've noted, Ueshiba was also very close. So, after 1930, Takeda shows up looking for Ueshiba. What happens? Ueshiba dodges his visits. And that, I would imagine, would have to have compounded Takeda's hurt. It isn't a big stretch to see why in 1936, Takeda turned to Hisa and eventually gave a menkyo. The quills of a porcupine pierce. Nor, do I think it would be a big stretch to see why Takeda might have been surly or mean during that time period.

It's a far different picture of Takeda than has previously been portrayed, that's for sure. Thanks, Ellis.

Ellis Amdur
09-23-2009, 02:38 PM
Mark - so much we don't know - and will never know. He had other close students, so he didn't need Hisa, per se. I would speculate that part of it was spiting Ueshiba, and part, quite simply, was a money and prestige issue.
As for him being "surly or mean during that period," - nah, now you are reaching. He was ALWAYS surly and mean.

DH
09-23-2009, 03:17 PM
Among his other students in that time period we could look at Sato.
He was more than a Kyoju Dairi; he apparently was a friend and trusted confidant, furthering the humanity of Takeda. He was the one the kids turned to to ask Takeda to come home and not travel so much.
He was also the one to whom Takeda turned to deliver a letter he dictated to him to personally deliver to Ueshiba. Curiously in the same time period being discussed (30's) Wherein the general tone was "Why are you lying about me and our relationship?
The Ueshiba family supposedly has further correspondence between the two men that they would not disclose to Stan.

Dan

Ellis Amdur
09-23-2009, 03:50 PM
Dan - I tried to be fair to both men in HIPS. (not saying you are not - just that there is a weighting towards Takeda, just as there has been a weighting towards Ueshiba in other's writing). I had one teacher (I had a number of teachers, each who embodied one significant trait of Japanese character to it's extreme) who saw the world much as Takeda did, in regards to his students. The attitude can be summed up, "As my student, you owe me what ever I demand.I will never make an unethical demand - BUT, I am the sole arbiter of what is ethical." And I gotta tell you, it was agony a lot of the time. My guts were so knotted up for years. We almost did come to blows on several occasions (I tend to be somewhat prideful, perhaps). And I didn't want to quit what I was doing, but I left Japan, among other reasons, just to get some air! And truthfully - as evidenced by my reception years later when I returned for a visit - I did the right thing.
We note in pre-war aikido masters (also Stan's books), several of the deshi describe what they call Ueshiba's perfect behavior toward Takeda in the 1930's, that this made a powerful impression on them of the perfect disciple. He "took" it all, and never evidenced any objection. That's how I tried to live (although I was more rebellious) - I did things at my teacher's behest that were against what I would have chosen to do - on my own. Things far beyond martial arts.
So, returning to my leaving, one thing that was built into classical ryu was turning your student's loose. Musha shugyo - the teacher feels the student chafing, and sends him out to meet the world, test his techniques and to return when seasoned. At which point, he is either called a failure or a menkyo. And sent on his way, in most cases. In other words, built into the system was a rite of passage, like a father saying to his son, "you are a man in my eyes. I will always be your father, but we are now eye-to-eye, and that's how we will communicate."
Many koryu in Japan have, in the modern era, erased this - and one stays a student of the "soke" forever - in a sense, you never get your manhood. I can think of several prominent ryu (and you may too) where the senior people cannot step out in the sun. This is not an issue of humility - it's an issue of one bull claiming all the cows.
Takeda was "worse," - essentially, your door was always open, and then you would attend to him, that shogi-cheating, accusing you of poisoning him, house taking over, taxi-driver beating up, grumpy old man that he was.
I've got a lot of sympathy for Ueshiba not simply facing this man and saying, "Boss, I quit." Many warriors did - and even did so through a challenge match to their teacher. Thereby indicating that they transcended the teacher and the ryu.
What if, however, you know that even in this late date - you can't win And let's say he could. BUT you don't even want to win! If nothing else, Takeda was getting old and Ueshiba was in the prime of manhood. Aside from those who were abused, really want to punch out your father? Or even "aiki" him - defeating in the only thing he really has? If you cannot confront the teacher/father, for whatever reason, what can you do? Knuckle under? Rebel? Run away.
Ueshiba's way doesn't engender respect in me (per Sagawa's book, several years earlier, having his wife turn him away at the door) and avoiding him. But I feel compassion for both of them - and think neither of them the bad guy in this long tangled relationship.
'Why are you lying about me?" vs. "Why won't you let me BE!!!"
Just imagine, after 20-30 years of training DR, getting all sorts of accolades and then this skinny old guy shows up, yelling, crunching all your students and telling them and you and all the world within earshot that you don't have crap - this guy who, per Sagawa, was careful not to teach all he knew anyway!!!! And then he takes over your dojo for as long as he cares to stay - and you have a family to feed.
Me, I just shake my head, considering the two of them, stuck in such a prickly, inescapable embrace and think, "Poor f**krs."
That said, Sato, of all of them, seems to have had the cleanest, most simple relationship of any of the close deshi. Too bad no one followed up with him after Stan found him and prevailed on him to teach.

Best
Ellis

MM
09-23-2009, 03:52 PM
Mark - so much we don't know - and will never know. He had other close students, so he didn't need Hisa, per se. I would speculate that part of it was spiting Ueshiba, and part, quite simply, was a money and prestige issue.
As for him being "surly or mean during that period," - nah, now you are reaching. He was ALWAYS surly and mean.

Sorry, didn't mean that Takeda turned to Hisa in that regard. Meant that Takeda turned to Hisa because of Ueshiba not responding, so Takeda used Hisa to get back at Ueshiba by teaching Hisa and issuing the Menkyo.

MM
09-23-2009, 04:00 PM
Dan - I tried to be fair to both men in HIPS. (not saying you are not - just that there is a weighting towards Takeda, just as there has been a weighting towards Ueshiba in other's writing).


Yeah, I guess I can see how both could be caught in bad situations. I think that the spiritual aspect didn't help things either. I think Ueshiba really did have, either a single strong spiritual "vision"/experience, or several. And I don't think Takeda was like that. Throw in a war and it makes for some very tough times for both.

George S. Ledyard
09-23-2009, 05:34 PM
Hi Ellis,
I am almost through with the book and I have to say it's really wonderful. I can't think of anyone else who has the odd background that you have that would have produced a book like this. Giving these larger than life characters their humanity the way you have couldn't really have been done by anyone else I don't think.

The analysis of the various technical considerations is fascinating and combining that with the historical perspective, well, I'll say I expected the book to be good but you have exceeded my expectations. All those years of work have paid off. It's a book that's a "must read" and a "re-reader" at the same time.

I also found that the book framed all of the discussions about internal power in such a way that I think will really clarify for many folks just what the discussion has really been about.

Anyway, thanks for the book and thanks to all the folks who helped you with their input.

Peter Goldsbury
09-24-2009, 06:04 AM
So, returning to my leaving, one thing that was built into classical ryu was turning your student's loose. Musha shugyo - the teacher feels the student chafing, and sends him out to meet the world, test his techniques and to return when seasoned. At which point, he is either called a failure or a menkyo. And sent on his way, in most cases. In other words, built into the system was a rite of passage, like a father saying to his son, "you are a man in my eyes. I will always be your father, but we are now eye-to-eye, and that's how we will communicate."
Best
Ellis

Hello Ellis,

I am in the middle of a critical review of the book. (Today, I received a new Japanese edition of the 兵法秘伝書. There is a fair amount of discussion in Japanese on the book and the author.)

One question. Do you think that Morihei Ueshiba saw his relationship with Kisshomaru in the same terms as you set out above? Of course, we know that aikido is not a koryu, but it does not follow from this that Morihei did not see succession, even family succession, in similar terms. If he did, I think this would explain quite a lot. The 'task' that Morihei set Kisshomaru was to keep the Tokyo Dojo running--at all costs.

Best wishes,

PAG

Ellis Amdur
09-24-2009, 10:38 AM
Peter - I think that is a strong possibility. Previous to the war, you had a loyal son, not an athlete or tough guy, and not naturally drawn to his father's world, either martial or spiritual. Confronted, so to speak, on a daily basis, by many men who were not only stronger than he was, but stronger than he ever would be. (A little digression - I'm not thinking of size - I think Shioda and he were about the same size - but we have talent, fighting spirit, all sorts of things that make the man).
But in Tokyo, Kisshomaru went to war, so to speak. And people who've actually been to war and survived do not need to feel that they have to hang their head in relationship to a ring fighter or "martial artist." I can imagine, at least, that when Kisshomaru was confronted by the arrogance of one or another of these sempai/shihan, he could hold the internal sense of, "I was dodging napalm. I kept this dojo in existence. I stay without any possibility of even fighting back. And furthermore, despite your exploits in war, you were part of a group, and one can always borrow courage from the group. But I was alone." Diplomat and politician he certainly was, but all the times I observed him, I never had the sense that he felt himself abashed in the slightest when dealing with his seniors, the off-shoots (Shioda, Tomiki, etc.) or the top shihan in his organization.
I hadn't thought of it this way before, but I've certainly wondered why Morihei "let him get away with his changes." He was still the boss-man. To be sure, there the idea you raise of the old men making speeches at the wedding, listened to assiduously and then ignored. But one gets the sense, in the interviews they did together, that Morihei gave his son his head, so to speak. As in, "whether I agree or not - and I may make some noise now and then - you are a man and make your own decisions."
If this is so, how admirable. I've seen all too many great martial artists in Japan and elsewhere with non-entities for sons, the latter never finding a place - or merely being a place-holder.
Best
Ellis

crbateman
09-24-2009, 11:02 AM
Your last point is an excellent one, Ellis. It is commendable that O'Sensei apparently saw the wisdom in letting Kisshomaru Doshu have his own say. It is the fair thing to do if you are asking someone to shoulder so much responsibility.

I wonder if Kisshomaru Doshu may have asked for this latitude prior to his decision to accept the role? Or perhaps he simply trusted his father to do the right thing. I know of many parallels in the corporate world where the "old man" put one of the kids in charge, but would not give them a day's peace without second-guessing, criticizing or meddling. These types of progressions always seem to work better if there is a prior pact of non- (or limited) interference.

On the other hand, I have heard accounts that, in retirement, O'Sensei really did "meddle" more at Hombu than is recorded, and was often treated with a sort of irritated indifference. I suppose it matters little in the big picture, but I wish I'd been around then to see for myself.

crbateman
09-24-2009, 01:23 PM
Apologizing in hindsight for the above thread drift... :o Sometimes, my "ask a question" instinct trumps my "forum decorum" sense.

Marc Abrams
09-24-2009, 01:33 PM
Peter - I think that is a strong possibility. Previous to the war, you had a loyal son, not an athlete or tough guy, and not naturally drawn to his father's world, either martial or spiritual. Confronted, so to speak, on a daily basis, by many men who were not only stronger than he was, but stronger than he ever would be. (A little digression - I'm not thinking of size - I think Shioda and he were about the same size - but we have talent, fighting spirit, all sorts of things that make the man).
But in Tokyo, Kisshomaru went to war, so to speak. And people who've actually been to war and survived do not need to feel that they have to hang their head in relationship to a ring fighter or "martial artist." I can imagine, at least, that when Kisshomaru was confronted by the arrogance of one or another of these sempai/shihan, he could hold the internal sense of, "I was dodging napalm. I kept this dojo in existence. I stay without any possibility of even fighting back. And furthermore, despite your exploits in war, you were part of a group, and one can always borrow courage from the group. But I was alone." Diplomat and politician he certainly was, but all the times I observed him, I never had the sense that he felt himself abashed in the slightest when dealing with his seniors, the off-shoots (Shioda, Tomiki, etc.) or the top shihan in his organization.
I hadn't thought of it this way before, but I've certainly wondered why Morihei "let him get away with his changes." He was still the boss-man. To be sure, there the idea you raise of the old men making speeches at the wedding, listened to assiduously and then ignored. But one gets the sense, in the interviews they did together, that Morihei gave his son his head, so to speak. As in, "whether I agree or not - and I may make some noise now and then - you are a man and make your own decisions."
If this is so, how admirable. I've seen all too many great martial artists in Japan and elsewhere with non-entities for sons, the latter never finding a place - or merely being a place-holder.
Best
Ellis

Ellis:

Imaizumi Sensei stated clearly in his interview published in the Aikido Journal (printed version! Yeah, in the good old days.....) that O'Sensei had made it known that his son was in charge of running the organization while he was alive and that he would be the head of the organization after he passed away.

Regards,

Marc Abrams

George S. Ledyard
09-24-2009, 08:16 PM
On the other hand, I have heard accounts that, in retirement, O'Sensei really did "meddle" more at Hombu than is recorded, and was often treated with a sort of irritated indifference. I suppose it matters little in the big picture, but I wish I'd been around then to see for myself.
I don't think that what the Founder did was "meddling"... It was that he was the Founder and simply did things on his own say so, without consulting the organization. After all, organizations have rules and procedures. O-Sensei "didn't need no stinking rules and procedures"... it was his art. For sure it made the guys trying to create a structure that they could grow around crazy. I mean, Tenth Dans coming out of nowhere, 36 year old deshi being "promoted" to 8th Dan, just because the Founder felt like it (they were able to put the kibosh on that one).

You can see this in any organization... When Saotome Sensei started teaching we had no written requirements, no set times between ranks. You tested when Sensei thought you were ready and on whatever Sensei decided at that moment you should know. Now we have guidelines, rules, requirements, etc and Sensei, himself feels bound by them.

It's a huge change to move from being deshi to a teacher, where your role is to make happen what he says he'd like to happen and perhaps even not make happen what he'd like to happen (for his own good), to having responsibility to run an organization that is spreading world wide made up of folks who have never even seen or trained with the Founder.

It's hard to understand just how naive many of the old timers were. Hikitsuchi Sensei came to the United States and wanted to meet with the President to tell him about Aikido and his mission to spread O-Sensei's message. O-Sensei saw himself as shaping his world on a cosmic level through his efforts... how practical do you think folks like this could be? K Ueshiba had to make it "work". O-Sensei NEVER had to do that. The various teachers of the dojos run by his students formed a foundation of support and between Saito Sensei's efforts at Iwama and the group of students at the Aikikai in Tokyo, the Founder was always taken care of. But I suspect he was an irritant when it came to the work of organizing.