View Full Version : Aikido & "The old form of the posture in kenjutsu"

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Erick Mead
02-01-2010, 02:18 PM
Split FROM Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Shinkage ryu menkyo
This issue of the "Old form of the posture in kenjutsu" identifed as "aikido" by the Founder ca. 1923 is plainly relating to aikido per se, and needs separate discussion.

There is no document or quote anywhere that I am aware of UEshiba using the formulation "aikido" or "aiki" is love anywhere in the 1920's.
Your entire thesis is based on two fantasies:
I have no thesis -- I am a lawyer -- I have only questions and arguments, and more questions... . As a matter of approach I find that one can discover untruth most successfully by assuming everything that anyone says IS true and then following strictly where such statements lead you... There is less opposition to questioning if you assume what they have already said is necessarily true. And if you starkly follow the logical consequences of that premise, you may find a great deal more becomes quite clearly true or untrue than routinely assuming that some portion is usually false and then trying to sort them out. YMMV.

But my argument, which founded my question, did not have to do with his "using the formulation of aiki" as love. He just happened to state that in the same context -- which is a different issue. He realized (because he said so -- there is no other evidence possible for that) at that time (~1923) that "aikido .. is the old form of the posture in kenjutsu" Whether it was in 1923 or in the fifties that he also related that to the "Aiki is love" meme is not the question. He claims he realized it in 1923, but he objectively associated the "old form... of kejutsu" and the "Aikido" directly. The question is "which old form"?

I do not see that direct connection of aikido with an "old form of kenjutsu" -- in 1923 or in 1957-- as metaphorical to tsurugi or Kusanagi in the sense of your approach in the Three Peaches article -- which was good, BTW. If you have changed this in the conclusions that you reach in that portion of your book it is unclear.

[your fantasies]:
1. That "old kenjutsu" MUST refer to YSR. The only assertion ever made of such is yours. The irony is, in koryu, YSR is not considered "old kenjutsu" - it's rather new.
"MIGHT refer" and I am lacking in more plausible alternative candidates. Compared to..... say, a better candidate for "the old form..." ? That's what I am hunting -- and if not Shinkage -- then give me a better target.

Is any suggestion as to what this might have been forthcoming rather than simply assuming that he meant nothing by it? From his seminal vision? That would be large assumption ... and more than a bit hard to accept. It seemed important to him, and he would likely try to accurately relate what it meant to him -- whatever our objective opinion about it.

2. That muto-dori is anything like aikido (it's not).
Here's where we get to arguing apples to oranges (or peaches if you like). Mu-to I can only see conceptually in the relation of the nature of awareness and in-yo and juuji and that is only in the points of similarity I have made -- I have never seen it performed - so I was not asserting a connection between the physicality of the two, but comparing concepts as described with demonstrable conceptual connections -- fairly speculative, I'll certainly grant -- but you seem entirely comfortable with that as a basis for exploration.

Indeed, I would expect there to be a superficial dissimilarity in the two -- else whatever "the old form" was that he saw in this radically new context as aikido would not have required a moment of enlightenment to realize-- everyone would have seen it -- if it was so obvious. It might even be hidden in ..... -- oh well somebody might write that book ... someday....

And the answer to your question is He had an experience of golden light in 1923, in 1960 something referred to "old kenjutsu," which almost surely refers to his Shinto preoccupations (read "Aikido is Three Peaches," in HIPS version, not AJ). Ueshiba, in this vein, refers to the sword as "tsurugi" not katana.
The comment is from the 1957 interview republished by Kisshomaru in "Aikido" It was translated "kenjutsu" by Pranin and Terasawa -- not a likely error by them, I should think, Kenjutsu is something markedly less mythological than "tsurugi" or "Kusanagi." Ueshiba was hardly shy about employing mythological terms directly rather than by veiled allusion, so we might reasonably assume he meant what he said.

The comment follows immediately on a denial that Aikido as such was introduced to him by Takeda -- rather that Takeda "opened his eyes to budo." Takeda in other words was necessary, but not sufficient to his realization, in his own view. This cuts against the thesis that DTR and only DTR is the source for the intended expression of aiki in aikido (leaving aside its empirical expression at any given place at the moment). Maybe he was wrong or deluded, but if we nail down what he objectively meant, maybe we go further than just assuming away his direct statements simply because they do not serve a given argument.

YOU speculate (usefully, I think) that "Were one able to discover that the training methods of bugaku bear any relationship to those used to train practitioners of Japanese jujutsu, particularly Daito-ryu, it would be a magnificent coup." Maybe there is one -- a physical one-- demonstrable and definable and not depending on deep histories of a mythological past.

Almost all dance deemed "graceful" depends for its aesthetic on continuous translation (and continuous reversals) of rotations of the limbs and body -- this requires a certain physical principle of momentum transfer within the elements of the body that portray effortlessness -- It is physically different from levered action or push-pull action -- and trivially easy to distinguish the one from the other. All good sword work depends on the same physical principle. I can describe it mechanically -- the question is whether there is an "old form of the posture in kenjutsu" that also closely illustrates the principle of this graceful (and therefore powerful) form of effortless action to which he might likely have been referring.