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Peter Goldsbury
06-15-2010, 01:33 PM
INTERLUDE:
VII:Hidden in Plain Sight:
Tracing the Roots of Ueshiba Morihei's Power
By Ellis Amdur

A Review Essay:
Part 3: Takeda Sokaku, Ueshiba Morihei and Their Students

(NOTE: This will be the final installment of this review essay, mainly because recent events in my ‘aikido life' have conspired to reduce the time I have available at present for writing such essays. The next few columns will round off discussion of Morihei Ueshiba and his times, before the 'Inheritance' parts of the series start with Kisshomaru Ueshiba.)

In the remaining chapters of HIPS, Amdur moves on from Takeda Sokaku to focus attention on Ueshiba Morihei himself. Between the study of Ueshiba's weapons training, in Chapter Three, and the discussion of Ueshiba's own training in internal skills, in Chapter Five, there is an unusual chapter on what Ueshiba himself thought he was doing in, through, and during, aikido, based upon a detailed discussion of one small part of some lectures that Ueshiba delivered to a Japanese religious group. This part of the review will go over some of the ground covered in these chapters, but will focus more on discrete topics related to three basic issues discussed in these chapters of Amdur's book: the general relationship between weapons training and internal power/skills; the relationship between Ueshiba's internal power/skills and his view of his own cosmic role; and the general physical and mental foundation required for such training.

3. ‘Aiki' and Weapons: A Drama in Five Acts
The last column reviewed the second chapter of Amdur's book and offered some detailed scrutiny of the life and family relationships of Takeda Sokaku. In his third chapter, Amdur moves his focus more closely on to Ueshiba Morihei and his own relationship with Takeda. However, the overall focus of the chapter is training with weapons and, more especially, Ueshiba's training with weapons. We have seen that Amdur's second chapter also considered Takeda Sokaku's skill with weapons in some detail and his weapons training forms the bridge to his "Unified Field Theory" in Chapter Three. In this chapter, Amdur broadens his treatment of ‘aiki' and weapons to include Takada Sokaku's general teaching methods (martial and otherwise), with more discussion of his relationship with Ueshiba Morihei. Amdur then turns to Ueshiba's own training with weapons and also his relationships, via weapons training, with his own students, especially Sunadomari Kanshu (in Kyushu), Hikitsuchi Michio and Takaoka Sadao (in Wakayama) and Saito Morihiro (in Iwama). [The geographical areas in brackets are not without some significance, for they are outside Tokyo and the Aikikai Hombu, which had been directed by his son, Ueshiba Kisshomaru, since 1942. It was as if his father left Kisshomaru to his own concerns and concentrated more on his own martial training. Shirata Rinjiro also received some instruction in weapons from Ueshiba, but this appears to have taken place before World War II. After the war, Ueshiba appears not to have travelled north to Yamagata with the express intention of meeting Shirata, as he did with his other students. This is possibly because for a number of years after the war Shirata gave up formal aikido training.] Kisshomaru also receives some attention and Amdur's account of Ueshiba Morihei's relationship with Takeda, especially with reference to the six months that Takeda spent in Ayabe in 1922, needs to be compared with Ueshiba Kisshomaru's account of the same relationship.

Amdur's third chapter has the curious subtitle of "A Unified Field Theory" (It is curious for someone like myself, who gave up physics half a century ago after passing GCE O Level in the UK, because I am not certain that there actually is a ‘unified field theory—of everything' which is commonly accepted by physicists, but we can let this pass). Despite the curious title, I found this chapter the strongest in the book. In this chapter, Amdur moves away from speculation about Takeda Sokaku's state of mind and considers aiki and weapons training and puts his knowledge of koryu and aikido to great use. Here, too, we are presented with a tour de force, a powerful speculative analysis of the roots of Ueshiba's supposed internal power and skills. The argument is complex, however, and needs to be examined with great care, otherwise the wider contours and full subtlety of what Amdur states—and does not state—will be missed. I think that Amdur's analysis of the weapons training of both Takeda and Ueshiba is of fundamental importance for the general question of the role of weapons in aikido. To my mind, he shows the origin of the concept of riai (理合), which I think relates to Takeda as much as it does to Ueshiba. In the best sense of the word, Amdur speculates; he raises issues and makes suggestions that should force his aikido readers to question why and how they train with weapons and even to question the received opinions from ‘those who have gone before' (= ‘Senseis'), but who might never have questioned in such a searching way why they themselves train(ed).

In this part of the review, the main question will be one that Amdur does not discuss so explicitly, perhaps because the answers are not easily forthcoming. The question is the influence of weapons training on Takeda's acquisition of internal power / skills. I will discuss in turn (1) the exposure to weapons training of Takeda's teachers, Takeda himself, his students, Ueshiba Morihei (considered not as a student of Takeda, but in his own right), and Ueshiba's principal students, (2) the light that this casts on weapons and aikido training, and (3) what conclusions we can draw from this exposure about internal power/skills.

Prologue: Roots and Trees (1)
Amdur begins this chapter with a very important observation, which needs to be quoted in full: "[I]One of the enduring claims concerning both Daito-ryu and aikido is that each is rooted in weapons practice, particularly the sword. Yet, almost all of what we see in either art is either unarmed practice, or rather unrealistic disarming techniques." (HIPS, p. 101.)
I think this observation needs to be examined in some detail, since a superficial reading might suggest that both arts are ‘rooted' in weapons and the sword for the same reasons and in exactly the same way. Amdur makes three statements: (a) that a(n enduring) claim is made about the ‘roots' of both arts in training with weapons, especially the sword; (b) that training in both arts (most of the training that we see) consists of unarmed practice; and (c) that ‘unrealistic' disarming techniques are practiced in both arts. Points (b) and (c) are intended to be a counterpoint to (a) and Amdur is implicitly asking a very reasonable question: if both arts are so ‘rooted' in weapons practice, why is there no ‘realistic' weapons practice in either art?

The issue here involves ‘rooted' and ‘realistic'. Amdur is actually using a classical rhetorical device called enthymeme, which is a shortened form of a full argument, but one applied to rhetoric. He makes use of an analogy between roots and weapons training in Daito-ryu and aikido, which he assumes to be clear. However, the analogy is not at all clear and also needs to be ‘unpacked'. I think we need the help of Aristotle here, for Aristotle was especially good at examining analogous relationships rather than merely analogies between items. The case in question here concerns the analogous features of the relationship between roots [&, presumably, mature trees] and between weapons/sword training & the mature martial systems of Daito-ryu and aikido. There are three relationships in question and the suggestion is made that Daito-ryu and aikido are similar because an analogy can be drawn between: (1) the relationship between weapons/sword training in Daito-ryu and the resulting ‘mature' martial art and (2) the relationship between weapons/sword training in aikido and the resulting ‘mature' art, and (3) the relationship between roots and mature trees.

It is very reasonable to draw such an analogy between Daito-ryu and aikido. A reading of the second and third chapters of Amdur's book suggests that Takeda and Ueshiba followed similar training regimes, in that they both trained with weapons, both did much empty-handed training and created what are basically empty-handed arts, and both used weapons to teach these respective arts. Given that one may draw such an analogy, is the similarity between Daito-ryu and aikido, suggested by Amdur in the quotation above, merely coincidental, or is there a more complex relationship, either based on this root/tree analogy, or one that the analogy fails to illuminate? In other words, does the root / tree analogy work? The point is especially relevant in view of the contrary claims that: (a) weapons training is essential to aikido and (b) that aikido training can be done successfully without any training with weapons. Can both claims be true, and what force does ‘realistic' add to the claims? We should also examine whether the root / tree analogy has any relevance to the view discussed in these columns, namely, that the process involved in creating an art by a founder is not necessarily the same as that involved with a student learning to master the art itself, and this is also related to the view expressed by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, that aikido is a completely different art from Daito-ryu. (We need to keep in mind here the main issue, rather than any political reasons that Kisshomaru might have had for expressing this view.)

Act 1: Takeda Sokaku and his Teachers
In HIPS Amdur discusses some of the individuals who either taught Takeda Sokaku directly or had some influence on his development. They are (in reverse chronological order) Momonoi Shunzo, Sakakibara Kenkichi, Shibuya Tomo, Kurokochi Dengoro Kanenori, and his father Takeda Sokichi. It will be of value here to consider each in turn and summarize the expertise of these individuals in the combination of ‘aiki' and weapons.

Takeda Sokichi
Amdur discusses Takeda Sokaku's father in some detail, as we have seen. However, the main source is Takeda Tokimune, who discusses his grandfather Sokichi only to the extent that this illuminates his father's life and achievements. As Amdur states, Sokaku mentions his father in connection with the alleged physical violence that he received at the latter's hands and so it is not really clear from these accounts either to what extent Sokichi was proficient in ‘aiki' / internal power / skills, or what he actually taught his sons (for it has to be assumed that he also taught Sokatsu, as well as Sokaku), in terms of weapons training or internal power/skills. Amdur states clearly (HIPS, pp. 86-87) that Kurokochi taught Sokichi Hozoin-ryu Takada-ha sojutsu and emphasizes the likelihood that he also taught him Inagami Shinmyo-ryu jujutsu. "I believe he coupled this [sumo] with solo power training exercises, breathing coordinated with mindful attention to lines of tension and relaxation within the body that very likely were part of the Shimyo-ryu curriculum…" (HIPS, p. 87.)
Amdur notes that the teaching was ‘inchoate' [which the big Oxford English Dictionary defines as: Just begun, incipient; in an initial or early stage; hence elementary, imperfect, undeveloped], but all this observation can really convey is that Sokichi began something that he himself did not really finish. So we cannot escape from a dilemma: on the one hand, it is reasonable to assume that Sokichi practiced with weapons and also taught his two sons how to handle weapons; on the other hand, we do not know without further evidence, at present not easily forthcoming, what he actually practiced and what he actually taught.

Kurokochi Dengoro Kanenori
Kurokochi's contribution to Takeda's bujutsu education was discussed at some length in the previous column. Kanenori was considered to be an ace martial arts expert in a domain that embodied the spirit and the letter of devotion to the Tokugawa shogun and prized martial skills very highly, but this, also, needs to be seen in context. Kurokochi was a samurai, rather higher in rank than Takeda Sokichi, and he had the leisure and the means—in fact, he had the duty—to train to an extent that would be quite impossible for those outside the samurai class in his time and even more impossible for the average aikido student today. Nevertheless, it is a valid question to what extent Kurokochi stood out among his instructor colleagues at the Nisshinkan and how he was able to become expert in such a large number of arts—and, also, whether he acquired from training in these arts an explicit knowledge of internal skills. Amdur is inclined to think that he did, on the evidence of Kurokochi's remark, quoted in the last column, that good kenjutsu skills need a good grounding in jujutsu.

If we assume that Takeda Sokaku studied with Kurokochi Kanenori before the latter committed seppuku in 1868, Kanenori, along with Shibuya Tomo, would have taught Sokaku when the latter was a young boy. Of course, there is no reason to doubt that Kurokochi taught Takeda's father Sokichi, but it is unclear what kind of relationship he had with Sokaku and even less clear how Kurokochi's supposed knowledge of internal skills was passed on to Sokaku.

Shibuya Tomo, Sakakibara Kenkichi, Momo(no)i Shunzo
Takeda Sokaku trained in Ono-ha Itto-ryu at Shibuya's dojo in Aizubange-cho, but there is some uncertainty as to how old he was when he did. Amdur mentions Takeda beginning training with Shibuya in his "late teens", but Tokimune has him training at the dojo during the siege of Aizu-Wakamatsu, when Takeda was eight. Sagawa, who also trained in Ono-ha Itto-ryu independently of Takeda, states that Takeda did not train "seriously". Nevertheless, Takeda knew enough to offer to teach Sato Keisuke. That Shibuya Tomo, like Kurokochi Dengoro, possessed some knowledge of internal power / skills is also a supposition based on his expertise with weapons. Along with Shibuya, Sakakibara and Momonoi were accomplished in weapons arts. Takeda spent a few years as a deshi to the former, who furnished an introduction when Takeda visited Momonoi, on his way to Kyushu to support Saigo Takamori. Amdur suggests, however, that it was Sakakibara, at his Jikishinkage-ryu dojo in Tokyo, who provided Takeda with the chance to meet and train with the cream of martial artists in Eastern Japan. "Sokaku had the opportunity to meet many skilled practitioners of numerous martial arts, thereby enabling him to learn, formally or informally, the complete panoply of weaponry and combative techniques extant in Meiji Japan." (HIPS, p.103.)
However, learning such a vast range of different arts might well have provided the foundations of Daito-ryu, but it would not in itself provide training explicitly in ‘aiki' or internal power / skills. Rather than a direct transmission of ‘internal' skills from these teachers, it is more likely, as Amdur suggests, that Takeda acquired some of these skills by himself during his own musha shugyo training, after he left Sakakibara's dojo.

Saigo Tanomo
We are still left with the problem of interpreting Takeda Sokaku's statements that he learned ‘aiki' at the hands of Saigo Tanomo. As evidence against this hypothesis, Amdur cites a personal communication from Stanley Pranin to the effect that "Tanomo, unlike many other figures of the time, had a well-documented life. Even his diary has been preserved. Not only is there no third-party account of his training in hand-to-hand martial arts, there is nothing in his diary to indicate that he ever did such practice." (HIPS. p. 73.) The evidence based on a diary is very mixed. In his edition of Sei'un-ki (栖雲記; A Record of Cobweb-Clouds), an autobiographical memoir written by Saigo towards the end of his life, Hotta Setsuo gives a detailed account of Saigo's life and he records that he began to write a diary entitled 「故国漂白」(Kokoku Hyohaku: Old Country Wandering). However, this was not until 1887, when Saigo was 58 years old. The only other document written by Saigo that could count as anything like a diary is Sei'un-kiitself, which is an 18-page handwritten essay, written in 1896, when Saigo was 67 years old, mainly dealing with the Boshin War and the fall of Aizu-Wakamatsu.

However, Hotta Setsuo, who appears to know little about the martial arts, records that two years later, in 1898, Saigo was visited by Takeda Sokaku and from May 12 till May 26 transmitted to him the 奥義 (okugi) of Daito-ryu and also a 免許皆伝 (menkyo-kaiden). It is true that there is no direct evidence in Sei'unki that Saigo was expert in the martial arts practised in Aizu, but it is unlikely that there would have been, anyway. In his explanation of Saigo's memoir, Hotta notes that what Saigo transmitted to Takeda were 会津藩歴代の藩主や重巨たちに代々伝わる護身のための武芸の術 (Hotta, 1993, p. 25), but, as Amdur rightly suggests, there is no direct evidence (which would need to be from sources other than the diaries) that Saigo actually learned such techniques. Nor does Hotta provide any evidence of what these techniques actually were, or reveal the sources for his statement quoted above.

An even more mysterious statement appears in Transparent Power [TP], the reminiscences of Sagawa Yukiyoshi, edited by Kimura Tatsuo, where Sagawa states that, "Takeda Sensei once mentioned that only two people including himself had studied with Hoshina-san [Hoshina Chikanori was the name Saigo used after the defeat of Aizu], and that the other person had already died." (TP, p. 120.) This statement was made in answer to a question put to Sagawa by Kimura and Sagawa speculates that this person might have been Saigo Shiro, whom Saigo Tanomo had adopted earlier, but it is not stated exactly when this second person actually studied with him.

Intermission: Roots and Trees (2)
To summarize, Takeda was exposed to a large number of samurai who were expert at using a wide variety of weapons. However, the main issue here is whether these teachers possessed ‘aiki' or internal power / skills and/or taught these skills to Takeda. If we push Amdur's root / tree analogy further, it is clear that what we have been discussing here is a number of discrete roots: individual martial artists, who were ignorant, knowledgeable, or even expert, in their own ways. Amdur discusses Takeda's teachers, but does not focus especially on his precise training with weapons at the hands of these teachers. This point is of some interest, given Kisshomaru Ueshiba's comment that Takeda was a considered a ‘genius' with the sword (which is also relevant to contemporary comments made of Ueshiba, to the effect that he was considered the best swordsman in Japan at the time). However, we are not really in a position to push the root / tree analogy simply on the basis that Takeda Sokaku's teachers possessed great skill with a large variety of weapons.

Act Two: Takeda Sokaku
The first thing that must be stressed when dealing with Takeda Sokaku himself is his immense commitment to training. Though he has been called a ‘genius' with the sword, Malcolm Gladwell has argued with some strength and much finesse that even genius needs to be very well prepared beforehand, in order for its eventual flowering to occur. As we shall note with Ueshiba Morihei later, Takeda had the leisure—and the means—to devote all the time in his life to training. This is a crucial element, but the point needs to be made that it was unique neither to Takeda nor to Ueshiba. It is highly likely that a large number of young male samurai, samurai like Kurokochi and Sakakibara, mentioned in the previous section, put in the required 10,000 hours of training. Amdur suggests that with Takeda, family matters, such as wives and even children, seem to be regarded, if not as encumbrances, then as other planets, in different orbits from his own, but occasionally meeting by a coincidence in martial space. The same is true, but perhaps to a lesser extent, with Ueshiba. So they both had the commitment, but, while Kisshomaru might well have correctly stated that Takeda was a genius with the sword, the comment is not particularly illuminating for those seeking the source of his power, or seeking to follow in his footsteps. Kisshomaru might have mentioned in passing why, given that his teacher was such a genius, Ueshiba, known in his turn as one of the best swordsmen in Japan, had to learn his swordsmanship the hard way, by himself, and never taught anything called ‘Ueshiba's swordsmanship' to anyone.

Amdur's account refers back to Takeda's training in 竹刀稽古 (shinai geiko) at the hands of Sakakibara Kenkichi and especially the general pattern of the dojo training and contests made by visiting musha shugyousha. Although ‘running the line' is still a regular feature of sumo training, especially with visiting sumotori like yokozuna, this kind of musha shugyo described by Tokimune, has all but disappeared from postwar Japan.

Amdur's analysis of Takeda's gokui suggests to this reviewer that he believes that Takeda's training in weapons was an essential component of, or adjunct to, something else, which may be described in general terms as training in internal/external power/skills. Amdur places more emphasis and gives more weight to the development of internal power, but, in Takeda's case, I think it is difficult to make a sharp distinction, based on the actual knowledge we have of Takeda's training and how he regarded this training. Of course, the necessity for technical mastery of the weapons system, as a first step, is taken as a given, just as it is in arts like jujutsu and aikido, and Amdur believes that Takeda acquired such technical mastery of a vast range of weapons systems.

Intermission: Roots and Trees (3)
It is not clear from Amdur's account precisely what the connection was between Daito-ryu and weapons. Or, to put it in a different way, Amdur's account in this chapter of the deep connection between Ueshiba's training with weapons and his aikido is rather more detailed than his account of a parallel deep connection between Takeda's weapons training and Daito-ryu. He has provided circumstantial evidence that Takeda achieved conspicuous mastery with the sword and other weapons, and also suggests that what became the hundreds of empty-handed techniques of Daito-ryu were acquired by Takeda, or even created spontaneously, during his musha shugyo period, or even afterwards, when he began travelling around giving seminars. However, one might receive the impression from Amdur's discussion that he kept the two domains somehow separate and, in fact, this impression leads to the assumption quoted at the beginning of this section. So one might claim that Daito-ryu is rooted in weapons training, because this is actually how Takeda himself created the art. He spent many years traveling around training in various weapons systems, but when the time came to settle down and teach students, he taught what became known as Daito-ryu jujutsu, with some specific training in weapons given to his closer students. However, this answer does not show any intrinsic connection between, for example, weapons system A, weapons system B, or weapons system C and the corpus of Daito-ryu techniques to which they gave rise in Takeda's hands. Takeda was a genius with the sword and other weapons—and also created the formidable empty-handed art of Daito-ryu. So this development of the root analogy does not take us much further.

Act Three: Takeda Sokaku and his Students
The point that emerges from Amdur's discussion of gokui is the very close relationship between the training methods that Takeda practiced during his musha shugyo period and the teaching methods that he practiced later, when he had his own students. Takeda mastered a very wide range of martial systems, but he seems not to have taught any one of these weapons systems, considered as a complete system, to all of his students. He taught Tokimune Ono-ha Itto-ryu and also offered to teach Sato Keisuke, but the latter, his hands already full with Daito-ryu, declined the offer.

The principal evidence for Takeda Sokaku's relationships with his own students is to be found in the collection of interviews made by Stanley Pranin, published as Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, and also Transparent Power [TP], the reminiscences of Sagawa Yukiyoshi, edited by Kimura Tatsuo mentioned earlier. (I believe this latter work was not published until after Amdur had completed HIPS.) However, for the purposes of this discussion, Sagawa Yukiyoshi and Ueshiba Morihei are the two students whose relationship with Takeda is of most concern. The evidence suggests that the relationship between Takeda and Ueshiba was rather less smooth than that between Takeda and Sagawa, though when reading Sagawa's reminiscences it is sometimes difficult to work whether the thoughts expressed on particular occasions are Takeda's, Sagawa's, or Kimura's own.

One of the issues is what, exactly, Takeda taught his two students. There is a famous quote from Ueshiba Morihei, in answer to a question from a newspaper reporter, to the effect that, 「武田先生には武道の目を開いていただいた,といった方がよいでしょう」, "Perhaps it is more accurate to say that Takeda Sensei opened our eyes [Takeda taught a group of students, including Ueshiba] to the martial arts." (Ueshiba, p. 94, 95.) The same thing could just as easily be said of Sagawa Yukiyoshi, to judge from TP. In fact, Sagawa appears to have acquired knowledge of aiki at the age of seventeen, but never to have made Takeda aware of the fact. How he was able to do this is an interesting question in its own right. "I never demonstrated Aiki in front of Takeda Sensei or his deshi, so he probably never realized that I had become so proficient in. He may have suspected that I'd become quite strong. He most likely believed that Aikihad not been transmitted to this world." (TP, p. 121.)
Earlier, Sagawa gives an explanation about 'aiki' that has clear similarities with the descriptions of Ueshiba's power, which Amdur considers in his fifth chapter. "Aiki is not power, such as the power of concentration or the power of physical strength. That's because Aiki is a skill that allows you to neutralize your opponent's power, after which you can effortlessly use just a little bit of power. Aiki eliminates the opponent's power, so that yours is able to flow through as Transparent Power, with no resistance possible. It also makes him hold fast to you, unable to disengage himself—it's really quite difficult." (TP, p. 84.)
The cases recorded in TP where Takeda taught with a weapon are quite few (cf. TP, pp. 126, 194). His main teaching method was to show techniques once, and in complete silence, without ever correcting mistakes. "It would have been hard to learn anything because Takeda Sensei never said anything. He didn't teach anything other than the external form. He absolutely never commented on whether a student was skillful or not. Now I think about it, I don't know how he was able to stand not uttering a word." (TP, p. 138.)
With respect to Ueshiba Morihei, one issue is how many days Ueshiba actually trained with Takeda in Hokkaido and afterwards. In his introduction to Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, Stanley Pranin gives a masterly summary of the evidence in Takeda's 英名録 (enrollment registers). He delicately talks of the history of Daito-ryu being "largely shaped by aikido historians and commentators" (Pranin, p. 9.). In this context, here is the relevant section from 『合気道開祖植芝盛平伝』: ただし約一ヶ月間で [that is, after Ueshiba's first meeting with Takeda at the Hisada Ryokan in Engaru, in February 1915]、ひとまず開祖は白滝村帰ることになる。のちに開祖は、完爾として述懐した。「あとでわかったなんじゃが、先生は最初の一ヶ月後はあまり、新し い技はお示しにならなかった。綾部に来られてからなどは、「も稽古をつけんでもよい」といわれて、わしと相手をされたがらなかったからのう(p. 97.)

"After about a month, he decided it was time to go back to Shirataki. Much later, he recalled this time: ‘I didn't know it then, but Takeda Sensei didn't introduce new techniques after the first month. When he came to Ayabe, he would say, "I don't need to teach you any longer," and he was not interested in continuing with the training.'" (Ueshiba, A Life in Aikido, p. 97.)
An important question that arises from Kisshomaru's brief account is: why, then, did Takeda come to Ayabe with his family and how did he spend his time there, if not in training? As Amdur notes, Takeda was hardly the type of man to spend his time playing with baby Kisshomaru, or playing shogi with Deguchi and the Omoto believers.

Stanley Pranin shows that Ueshiba in fact attended seminars taught by Takeda several times after this first month in Hokkaido and stayed in Ayabe from April to September, 1922. However, Pranin is unable to cast any more light on the circumstance of the visit to Ayabe, beyond the statement that Takeda taught Daito-ryu to Ueshiba's students, "mainly Omoto believers who had been practicing in Ueshiba's home". (Pranin, p. 27.) In his interview with Stanley Pranin, however, Takeda Tokimune gives a much more detailed account of Ueshiba's training with Takeda and the visit made to Ayabe. The account, consisting of answers to questions put by Mr Pranin, contains the following unusual exchange. "Did Sokaku go to Ayabe on Ueshiba Sensei's invitation?
Actually, there were a number of people from the navy training in Mr Ueshiba's dojo. All of the navy members had experience in sumo wrestling and were quite strong. Since Ueshiba would have had difficulty in handling such individuals, he asked Sokaku Takeda Sensei to come. There men were huge, but Mr Ueshiba was smaller than me. I would imagine he wasn't able to pin them because he wasn't using precise techniques. After all, it would be difficult using only aiki." (Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, p. 58.)
There is much that is mysterious in Tokimune's statement, not least his use of the term aiki. Ueshiba had practiced sumo since he was young and in Hokkaido he had defeated an ozeki, who asked Ueshiba if he was actually Takeda himself. Yet here he was in his own dojo, unable to handle sumo amateurs. Amdur has another explanation for the episode that has some parallels with Ueshiba Kisshomaru's descriptions, quoted below, of his father's weapons training in Ayabe.

Intermission: Roots and Trees (4)
The discussion in the above section bears out the conclusions reached earlier, namely, that Takeda Sokaku's expertise in many weapons systems did not lead to the creation of a type of Daito-ryu jujutsu or aikijujutsu in which the influence of the weapons systems is immediately transparent. Amdur states this quite clearly (HIPS, p. 108). Both Sagawa and Ueshiba brought to their Daito-ryu training some knowledge of weapons training. With Takeda, the knowledge amounted to expertise in a large number of systems; with Sagawa, the level of expertise is not stated; with Ueshiba, the level of expertise is known more clearly—and was certainly augmented with weapons training at the hands of Takeda. Thus the evidence afforded by Amdur and Kimura suggests that the roots of Daito-ryu in weapons training, as this was done by Takeda, are not so readily obvious as the roots of Aikido in Ueshiba's training with weapons. As always, the issue for this review essay is what light this throws on Ueshiba's own internal power / skills.

Act Four: Ueshiba Morihei
Amdur gives a very detailed and convincing account of Ueshiba Morihei's way of training with weapons and this reviewer found many similarities between Ueshiba's own personal way of training and Takeda's. Like Takeda, Ueshiba began weapons training early on in his life and this training was a complement to training in empty-handed arts like sumo. Then there is the role of Ueshiba's father, which was rather more gentle and less obtrusive than the encouragement given by Takeda Sokichi. However, though some tantalizing questions remain and important details are lacking, we have rather more evidence about Ueshiba's sword training, and its influences on his own empty-handed Daito-ryu, than for Takeda's. For a start, we have two detailed biographies of Ueshiba, written by his close students. In his biography of his father, Ueshiba Kisshomaru devotes a good deal of space to describing his father's training with weapons and its roots in aikido. Kisshomaru's account is noteworthy for what he leaves out or does not state (the two are not the same). "The Ueshiba Dojo in Ayabe became a popular place, with many students. But for O Sensei, its real purpose was the pursuit of his own ascetic training. What really mattered to him was the practice he undertook on his own early in the morning or late at night, alone in the dojo or in the foothills, as he quietly and persistently studied the martial way. He continued training in the Daito-ryu style learned from Master Sokaku Takeda; he also worked hard at Sojutsu and Kenjutsu (spear and sword techniques). People may wonder how these relate to Aikido, but there is actually a strong resemblance. The hand and foot movements in Aikido, and basic movements like irimi, or entering, are closely related to these other arts. Of course the empty hand is fundamental to aikido. But it is also true that the power of the hand can be like that of a yari (spear) or tachi (sword). To use your hands as if holding a spear or sword, you must have some knowledge of Sojutsu or Kenjutsu techniques. In Aikido, we practice Jojutsu (staff techniques) and Tojutsu (katana, or sword, techniques), where the weapon is used as an extension of a hand. The combination of these elements forms a unique art, thanks to O Sensei's diligent study of the sword and spear.
"During the night, O Sensei would go up to the mountains to practice weapons techniques: mayari and tanpo yari spear techniques, sword practice with a shinken (live blade) or bokuto (wooden sword). This rigorous and demanding training reflected his determination to perfect the art. O Sensei was someone who always found unique and creative approaches to training. Here is one of them from this time: he would hang balls of sponge from the trees around a clearing, then practice hitting them with thrusts of a tanpo yari (a nine-feet long spear) to improve his agility and skill. Here is a doka by O Sensei which describes Aikido's characteristic technique of taninzu-gake (one against many):
A host of enemies encircle me and attack
Thinking of them as a single foe, I wage the battle.
I think the origins of this technique my have been in the spear training which I've just described. To sum up, it can truly be said that the Ueshiba Dojo in Ayabe was the birthplace of Aikido, the place where it was forged and brought into being." (Ueshiba, A Life in Aikido, pp. 136-137; Japanese original: 『合気道開祖植芝盛平伝』, pp. 131-133).
It is to his credit that Kisshomaru presents a very clear account of the influence of weapons training on his father's empty-handed techniques, as he understood it. He doffs his hat to Takeda Sokaku, but there is no reference whatever to Takeda's five-month sojourn in Ayabe, nor any admission that his father's ‘unique and creative' training with balls suspended from trees might not have been so creative at all, given Takeda's own training regime. Kisshomaru's account should be compared with Amdur's (HIPS, pp. 130-134), which presents a different perspective. Amdur is looking for the roots of the explosive power and the crushing of the opponent's power that are the signs of internal power / skills. Of these aspects there is nothing at all in Kisshomaru's account, which could mean: either that it was hidden from him, so he never actually ‘saw' these aspects of his father's training; or that he understood, but chose to suppress this for other reasons. Amdur places the spear training firmly in the forefront of Takeda's stay in Ayabe and quotes Tokimune to the effect that Takeda bested Ueshiba with the weapon.

Later in his biography, Kisshomaru discusses the weapons training at the Kobukan dojo and acknowledges his own interest in the sword. "One thing worth mentioning is that for a short time during these years [1937-1941] the practice of kendo was permitted in the dojo. As I mentioned earlier, O Sensei had practiced several styles of jujutsu as well as some Hozoin-ryu Sojutsu (spear), but had not officially trained in Kenjutsu (sword). Once he reached middle age, his interest in the sword began to grow, and since Aikido had begun to incorporate empty-handed techniques against weapons, he began practicing with the sword in order to understand these techniques more deeply.

"At the same time, he firmly believed that dueling with swords did not represent the true essence of Budo; for him, the sword was only an extension of the body. He still considered that the Gokui (innermost secret) of Budo was kentai icchi (検体一致 the sword becoming an extension of the body), or in other words, moving from shizentai(natural standing posture) with or without a weapon in one's hands—Aikido was the ultimate expression of such an understanding. Yet since he felt that one could not claim to have trained in Budo without knowing the proper use of the sword, he allowed the disciples to practice it." (Ueshiba, A Life in Aikido, p. 249.)
You can almost hear the eggs crunch a little, as Aikikai Doshu Kisshomaru walks over them, so delicate is his way of gently moving weapons training further towards the margins. He continues. "Another incident around this time strengthened the Kobukan Dojo's links with Kendo. In 1932, the Ueshiba family for a short period adopted a prominent young swordsman from the Yushinkan dojo named Kiyoshi Nakamura [this is an editing mistake: the name is Nakakura]. As a result, Kobukan began to offer classes in Kendo as well as Aikido, which in turn brought to the dojo well-known people such as Jun-ichi Haga and Gorozo Nakajima, both of whom were close to Kiyoshi Nakamura. Soon, the Kendo group from Kobukan began to enter competitions near and far, and to achieve good results. In fact, the championship cup of the Kodo Gikai Kendo competition was won by the Kobukan Dojo team. This victory heightened my interest in studying the sword." (Op. cit., pp. 249-250.)
Kisshomaru mentions that among his mentors was Shioda Gozo and so one can speculate whether Shioda ever showed him how to use the sword with either hand, as Ueshiba did with Nakakura.

Intermission: Roots and Trees (5)
The evidence presented by Amdur of Ueshiba's own constant training with weapons suggests that with aikido, this training with weapons really does constitute the roots of the art. Ueshiba Morihei made weapons and his aikido into a seamless match. Even when he visited Hawaii, in his old age, the results of this training were evident, as Amdur notes. Amdur's discussion allows one to see how his weapons training molded Ueshiba's own aikido—and also how some aspects of this overall training regime molded the aikido of his closest students, as we shall see.

Act Five: Ueshiba Morihei and his Students
Amdur's picture of Ueshiba Morihei's relationships with his students, especially those to whom he taught weapons, is one of the best parts of this chapter. Amdur gives a complex account of Ueshiba Morihei's way of training and teaching weapons with close students such Shirata Rinjiro, Hikitsuchi Michio, Sunadomari Kanshu, and Saito Morihiro [even Ueshiba Kisshomaru receives some attention], and this should cause aikido students to ponder very deeply about weapons training in aikido. In particular, Amdur's account should be required reading for the many perplexed aikido students who wonder why at the same time aikido has—and does not have—weapons training as part of its core curriculum.

Ueshiba Kisshomaru gives a sketch of his own thoughts about this in an unusual place. The early volumes of the late Saito Morihiro Shihan, entitled Traditional Aikido: Sword, Stick, Body Arts, are being republished, but the ‘Greetings', penned by Kisshomaru—and also by Shioda Gozo and Nishio Shoji, were not originally translated into English. Kisshomaru's ‘Greeting' deserves a second look here. Perhaps as a counterbalance to the immense role and influence of Iwama in aikido history and folklore, Kisshomaru is at pains to underline his own training with the sword at the hands of his father. (As usual, AikiWeb Japanese addicts can try their hand at a translation.) 開祖は常に"剣の理合いを体に現したものが合気道の動きである。"と言われたものです。更 に"体術で基礎を体得し、然る後、剣を持つのが常道である。合気道に於いて体の基礎が出来ない者に剣を持たせる事は、生兵法という者になる。"と修行者を いましめて居られた事も記憶しています。故に合気道に於いて一般的に多数の初心稽古をする場合は、剣を用いないのが通常となっています。
 然し、合気道に於いて剣理を体得する事は非常に大切な事です。
 故に開祖は、昭和9年頃から私に剣を習えと指示され、開祖が態々古流の剣では名人と言わ れていた師範を東京の本部道場に招かれ、開祖立ちあいのもとで、真の剣の修業させられたものです。外に私は一般的な剣道も僅か乍ら修業致しました。
 故に昭和11年頃から昭和20年の終戦に至る迄、開祖の演武会等に於ける剣の相手は常に私 がおせつかったものです。
 開祖の指示で私が剣の修業をしていた当時、"其の剣に合気の気を生かしてこそ、まことの剣 法となるのだ。此の剣理を理解する事が合気道上達の近道だ。"と言われたものです。
 最近、合気道は非常な勢いて普及しています。合気人口は90万とも言われています。其の 反面、修業者多数のため、場所其の他の制的で、剣の修業がともすればおろそかになり勝ちの現況です。その盲点を、そうであってはならずという事で、斉藤さ んの今回の出版は、修行者に対し誠に時宜を得た警鐘ともなりましょう。(Saito Morihiro, Traditional Aikido, Vol. 1, 1973, Minato Research, p. 6.)
How times change. Only the other day, during a meeting at the Hombu Dojo I was asked by a prominent Hombu shihan whether I believed that kumi-tachi and kumi-jo were an essential part of aikido. I was quite astonished that the shihan should even ask such a question. At the beginning of the year, an 8th dan Hombu shihan came to my dojo in Hiroshima and taught a seminar. He was a direct student of Ueshiba Morihei and recounted his experiences of O Sensei forbidding weapons training at the Hombu Dojo. The shihan used a weapon only once or twice, merely to explain an important principle concerning empty-handed training. I think that the principles he did illustrate could be summed up in the four axioms of ki training, as set out by Tohei Koichi, even though the shihan did not mention the word ki even once. Other aikido shihans I know have quietly developed their own weapons kata, even those shihans who are not well known as possessing the expertise in weapons of a Nishio Shoji, or shihans who never publicly profess to use weapons. Even the shihan who has gone on public record that aikido does not have weapons training had previously become expert in the family sword art, learned at the hands of his father. Amdur's chapter should explain why this is the case—and why it is very difficult for the present Doshu to take any leadership here. Nevertheless, it is clear that Ueshiba Moriteru is indeed moving to make the weapons practice he performs in his aikido demonstrations—tachi dori, jo dori, tanto dori, which are also required for Aikikai dan examinations—a kind of standard for the future. The result is the likelihood that the weapons training so rigorously pursued by his grandfather is relegated to the ‘Museum of Aikido Historical Relics'. So the wheel has turned full circle and what we see in modern aikido are solely the "rather unrealistic disarming techniques", noted by Amdur at the beginning of the chapter.

One of the problems here can be summed up as the general effects of the iemoto system, which was discussed in detail in an earlier column. The original Aikido Iemoto (= Doshu), who was Ueshiba Morihei, did not concern himself too much with making sure that all his close students, especially those whom he designated to succeed him by marrying into the family, received all the transmission. He might actually have believed he had done this, since he often talked of finding a way for others to follow. However, this lack of a complete and unified transmission is especially true with weapons, and for taijutsu in the case of Nakakura Kiyoshi. In the Kobukan, Nakakura was doing as much kendo as aiki-budo and Amdur notes that one of the reasons why his adoption into the Ueshiba family was not successful was his conviction that he could never emulate Ueshiba's jujutsu skills.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that since the iemoto did not teach in the established central dojo, but rather traveled from place to place, as Takeda Sokaku did, teaching his closest students the weapons skills he himself believed they needed, there was no recognized center and no tradition of systematic research in the center. Ueshiba's method certainly allowed his students to blossom, and the second iemoto, Kisshomaru, had the insight not to dismantle the fragile structure his father had created. However, the structure was indeed fragile, since the lack of a core, where constant training and research in all the weapons is undertaken to replicate, emulate, and develop what Ueshiba himself achieved, leads to a constant centrifugal tendency. When he was firmly established as Doshu, Kisshomaru did indeed move to create some kind of core, but it did not contain any serious training and research with weapons—and the reason is that Ueshiba Morihei's own expertise with weapons was never replicated in his successor. This problem is even more acute with the third iemoto, Ueshiba Moriteru, and the traditional Japanese tatemae / honne distinction about 'transmission of the essence' is often resorted to, to attempt to prove that the center contains all that is necessary for martial salvation, after all. What was in plain sight is becoming hidden.

Curtain Call: Roots and Trees (6)
I think we are now in a better position to consider Amdur's statements about the roots of Daito-ryu and aikido lying in weapons training. To use an analogy that Ueshiba Morihei sometimes used about aikido (discussed by Amdur in his next chapter—see below), weapons training was clearly a kind of 産屋 (ubuya: parturition hut, traditionally used when women were giving birth) for Daito-ryu, but what was created was somewhat different, and the parentage is not so easy to discern. In the case of aikido, on the other hand, the real roots in the various weapons practiced by Ueshiba, and also in Daito-ryu taijutsu, are easier to see, especially as a result of Amdur's discussion in his third chapter. An important issue, to be discussed in future columns, is whether the roots have grown into one distinct tree, or into separate branches, whose connection with the tree is more notional than real.

4. Aikido? It is a kind of fruit.
The general reader of Amdur's fourth chapter is certainly not helped by the title, which is, "Aikido is Three Peaches." An alternative title could well be, "And now for something completely different…" Of course, Amdur, as always, mixes his serious intent with flashes of humor. He is certainly serious here, too, but the sense of ‘Morihei Ueshiba and the Holy Grail' never seems far away in this chapter and I sometimes expected the arrival of the police car, with the advice to, "Stop being silly." Of course, this is due as much to Ueshiba's own accounts of his place in the universe as to the way in which Amdur discusses these.

One reviewer has called this chapter of HIPS the weakest part of the book, … "where Ellis bravely attempts an apologia for the scattered spiritual and metaphysical perambulations of Ueshiba, justifying them as essential to Ueshiba's continuing progress in skill and power right into the final decade of his life. I was frankly surprised by the detail and extent of argument that Ellis was willing to make in support of this thesis, given his own rejection of aikido as a personal training path and the often-sardonic tone of his past writing about these aspects of aikido. But Ellis seems to find enough tidbits whilst wandering through Shingon, Shinto, Omoto-kyo and the Kuki family heritage, warbling kotodama all the while, to provide a tantalizing proposal that Chinkon-kishin and other ritual practice sets adapted by Ueshiba really did empower him. Ultimately, Ueshiba saw himself as a kind of avatar, instrumental in ushering in a golden age of redemption, the unification of Heaven, Earth, and Man. To a considerable degree, he was unconcerned about whether others became avatars like himself. He regarded aikido practitioners as living out their fate as appointed by their ‘chief guardian deity,' doing the work of the "spiritual proletariat," accumulating merit and energy through aikido practice . . ."
(http://rumsoakedfist.org/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=6110)
The reviewer does not give any indication as to why the chapter is weak and I wonder whether one reason might be lack of acquaintance with the complex Japanese cultural milieu in which Ueshiba Morihei operated—and which is rarely discussed in connection with his aikido. As for the alleged contrast between Ueshiba's mystic meanderings and Amdur's own "rejection of aikido as a personal training path", it seems to me that the main object of the book as a whole, is to point to crucial differences between Ueshiba's own training regime—and the concepts he used to present this, and the postwar training regime in Japan, as Amdur himself found it. So I myself am not convinced that the chapter is ‘weak', merely on the basis of the reviewer's comments.

However, the chapter might or might not be ‘weak' for other reasons, one being the rather fragile basis for Amdur's speculations. Amdur has based his entire chapter on a few translated excerpts of one set of Ueshiba's published discourses. Of course, this does not in itself invalidate the conclusions he draws, but two points should give pause: (1) Amdur has relied on a translation, not the original Japanese, and thus he has to assume that the translation is a faithful rendering of the original: with Ueshiba Morihei this is not a good precedent to follow; (2) Apart from any issues of translation, the fact remains that he has considered only a very small portion of Ueshiba's published discourses. In a footnote Amdur admits both of these points and calls his discussion an interpretation. However, even if it is merely an interpretation, it stands or falls on its own merits.

武産合気 Takemusu Aiki
Amdur explains the provenance of this book at the beginning of the chapter. Takemusu Aiki is a set of discourses that Ueshiba Morihei delivered to members of a religious organization called the Byakko Shinkokai—an offshoot of the Omoto religion. The discourses were edited by a member of the organization, named Takahashi Hideo. The published book is a curious work. It is widely available in all the bookstores and my own copy (printed in 2008) is the nineteenth reprint. However, not one of the Japanese aikidoka with whom I have discussed the book has ever read it and so I myself suspect that it is one of the most widely purchased—and rarely read—aikido books in the Japanese language. The book's title is also a topic frequently discussed in Internet chat forums, but the book itself is read by non-Japanese aikido practitioners even more rarely than by Japanese, and the reason for this is that only a few parts of it have been translated into English. The only parts in English that were available to Amdur are the few excerpts that were published some years ago by Stanley Pranin in Aikido Journal, which Amdur has used for his discussion in this chapter. After the excerpts appeared in Aikido Journal, the translation project stopped. There have been dark rumors as to why, the main substance being that the Ueshiba family wished to maintain some sort of control over the translation, rather than have it done by an individual who had become completely independent. This reviewer has occasionally heard rumors of a fresh start to this translation project and one result was published very recently (May, 2010). The Heart of Aikido: The Philosophy of Takemusu Aiki, turns out to be very similar to the other collection of Ueshiba Morihei's discourses, Aiki Shinzui, which covers much the same ground and has also been translated by John Stevens and published with the title of The Secret Teachings of Aikido. Thus, in this discussion of Amdur's chapter in HIPS I will also occasionally refer to this new translation.

Of course, there is another very plausible reason for the delay in producing an English translation of Takemusu Aiki. Even a cursory glance at the contents will suffice to show the difficulty of producing a translation that is of some value to a reader who has little acquaintance with the general cultural background and the specifically religious context of the work. The newly published Heart of Aikido downplays the importance of the religious aspects of Ueshiba's discourses, in favor of something else. This can be called ‘Ueshiba-lite' and stresses something called the ‘universal human values' of aikido. This modern interpretation is currently quite fashionable, especially in postwar Japan. It is popular with those who do not have the time or inclination to take Ueshiba on his own terms, and struggle with the Omoto religious background, the doka, or the less welcome ultranationalist—and fanatical—political movements, which gripped Japan at the time when Ueshiba Morihei was active and of which Omoto was also a part.

Contents
The translated sections of Takemusu Aiki cover just over 70 pages. So before examining Amdur's discussion of the translated sections of the book, we should look at the work as a whole, if only to see if there are any important parts that Amdur will have missed by focusing on only a small portion. As published, the book consists of over 200 pages, the core being nineteen discourses delivered by Ueshiba Morihei. These are preceded by a poem, composed by Byakko Founder, Goi Masahisa, and a lengthy essay, also written by Goi, entitled,「合気道と宗教」("Aikido and Religion"). Following the nineteen main discourses are four other discourses or snatches of discourses, also by Ueshiba Morihei and also transcribed by Takahashi Hideo, who, after transcribing another short piece by Goi, ends the book with his own reminiscences about Ueshiba.

Goi's essay is a collection of his reminiscences about Ueshiba, with a few remarks on the Byakko religion. I have explained elsewhere that Goi Masahisa was one of a vary large number of leaders in the Meiji / Taisho era of Japan who created ‘new' religions, usually by undergoing various experiences leading to ‘enlightenment', attracting a group of disciples, and then breaking away from an earlier group. This point is not often stressed. There was an outpouring of religious sentiment during the century spanning the decline of the Tokugawa era and the outbreak of World War II. This outpouring has been documented in great detail in Japanese sources, but relatively little has appeared in English. This is a pity, since the scarcity of detailed evidence in English about Japan's ‘new religions' [except for the renegade Aum Shinrikyo] might give the mistaken impression that the religious ideas of Goi and Ueshiba were somehow unique. In one sense Ueshiba was unique. Not many of the founders of Japan's ‘new' religions believed themselves to be reincarnations of as many deities as Ueshiba did. However, in a very real sense, Goi became what he was because he was following an established fashion—as, in fact, was Ueshiba. In these discourses Ueshiba sometimes notes that ‘Goi Sensei understands my thinking' and one suspects that they became good friends because each provided the other with a highly receptive audience: they were probably the only two who had the clearest idea of what the other was saying.

Translated Discourses
The translated discourses that were available to Amdur are the first four, which purport to describe or define aikido in four separate ways. Their respective titles and details of publication in English are given below:

1. 合気道とは
Aikido is…/ means…
(Takemusu Aiki, pp. 28 to 39; Aikido Journal, #116, pp. 28-33.)

2. 一、合気道は宇宙万世一系の理道なり
Aikido is the Way of the principle of the eternal, unchanging system of the Universe.
(Takemusu Aiki, pp. 43-52; Aikido Journal, #117, pp. 18-21.)

3. 二、合気道は天授の真理にして武産合気の営みである
Aikido is God-given Truth and also the Working of Takemusu Aiki.
(Takemusu Aiki, pp. 53-67; Aikido Journal, #118, pp. 22-27.)

4. 三、合気道は和合の大道であり宇宙経綸の道へのご奉公である
Aikido is the Great Way of Harmony and Devotion to the Way of the Universal Plan.
(Takemusu Aiki, pp. 68-84; Aikido Journal, #119, pp. 24-29.)

These discourses have also been translated by John Stevens in The Heart of Aikido (pp. 29-91) and it will be instructive to check whether his fresh translation yields similar evidence for Amdur's speculations.

There is a curious omission in both translations. The opening discourse is immediately followed by ten 道歌 (doka: 31-syllable waka poems, Takmusu Aiki, p. 41), which appear to be linked together and related to the discourses, but no English translation of these doka appeared as part of the Aikido Journal series. (I should make clear here that, like Amdur, I am concerned here only with translations into English. I am aware of a project to translate the entire work into French, but have had no access to this translation at the time of writing this review essay.) Admittedly, in his Aikido Journal interview Takahashi stated that he had changed the order of the discourses, but is unclear whether he changed the position of the doka. The new translation by John Stevens also includes doka (pp. 113-118), but these are quite different doka from those printed in Takemusu Aiki and it is not clear why Stevens did not translate these. Thus the Japanese text of Takemusu Aiki—and also the new English translation—are another example of we might call Morihei's Law: No statement or discourse of Ueshiba Morihei is ever published in precisely the same form or circumstances as obtained when it was first uttered or delivered.

Untranslated Discourses:
道歌
The ten doka that follow the first discourse in Takemusu Aiki are transcribed below. AikiWeb students of classical Japanese might try their hand at a translation.

朝日さす心もさえて窓により天かけりゆく天照るの吾れ
as-a-hi-sa-su-ko-ko-ro-mo-sa-e-te-ma-do-ni-yo-ri-a-ma-ka-ke-ri-yu-ku-a-ma-te-ru-no-wa-re
むらきもの我れ鍛えんと浮き橋にむすぶ真空神のめぐみに
mu-ra-ki-mo-no-wa-re-ki-ta-en-to-u-ki-ha-shi-ni-mu-su-bu-shin-ku-u-ka-mi-no-me-gu-mi-ni
真空の空のむすびのなかりせば合気の道は知るよしもなし
shin-ku-u-no-ku-u-no-mu-su-bi-no-na-ka-ri-se-ba-a-i-ki-no-mi-chi-wa shi-ru-yo-shi-mo-na-shi
日々に鍛えて磨きまたにごり雄叫びせんと八大力王
ni-chi-ni-chi-ni-ki-ta-e-te-mi-ga-ki-ma-ta ni-go-ri-o-ta-ke-bi-sen-to-ha-chi-dai-ri-ki-o-o
天照らすみいず輝くこの中に八大力王の雄叫びやせん
a-ma-te-ra-su-mi-i-zu-ka-ga-ya-ku-ko-no-na-ka-ni-ha-chi-dai-ri-ki-o-o-no-o-ta-ke-bi-ya-sen
世を想い嘆きいさいつまた腑奮いむら雲の光はわれに勝速日して
yo-wo-o-mo-i-na-ge-ki-i-sa-i-tsu-ma-ta-fu-fu-ru-i-mu-ra-ku-mo-no-hi-ka-ri-wa-wa-re-ni-
ka-tsu-ha-ya-bi-shi-te
世の中を眺めては泣きふがいなさ神の怒りに我は勇みつ
yo-no-na-ka-wo-na-ga-me-te-wa-na-ki-fu-ga-i-na-sa-ka-mi-no-i-ka-ri-ni-wa-re-wa-i-sa-mi-tsu
時は今天火水地や玉の緒の筋を正しく立つぞ案内に
to-ki-wa-i-ma-ten-ka-su-i-chi-ya-ta-ma-no-o-no-su-ji-wo-ta-da-shi-ku-ta-tsu-zo-a-na-i-ni
現し世の神や仏の道守る合気の技は草薙ののり
u-tsu-shi-yo-no-ka-mi-ya-ho-to-ke-no-mi-chi-ma-mo-ru-a-i-ki-no-wa-za-wa-ku-sa-na-gi-
no-no-ri
須左之男の王のつるぎは世に出でて東の空に光り放てり
su-sa-no-o-no-o-no-tsu-ru-gi-wa-yo-ni-i-de-te-a-zu-ma-no-so-ra-ni-hi-ka-ri-ha-na-te-ri

If we leave aside these doka, the translation of the discourses in Aikido Journal stopped at this point. The fifth discourse is numbered and is clearly an expansion of the final part of the first discourse, with the four definitions announced there (Takemusu Aiki, p. 28). For the sake of completeness, here is a brief summary.

5. 四、合気道は言霊の妙用 宇宙みそぎの大道である
Aikido is the Great Way of Marvellous Working of Word-Soul (Kotodama)
and Universe Purification (Misogi)

The discourse begins with a discussion of kotodama, and the creation of the universe through word-sounds. (The beginning of this discourse was actually quoted in translation in Transmission, Inheritance Emulation, Column 11.) Ueshiba continues the discourse with an analysis of the sounds スsu, ウu, アa, オo. He then discusses the syllables of 高天原 (High Heaven[ly] Plain: ta-ka-a-ma-ha-ra), again, with an explanation of each syllable. The discourse concludes with an account of the ‘vowel' syllables アa, オo, ウu, エe, イi. As I have stated elsewhere, this explanation is heavily based on the writings of Yamaguchi Shido and Deguchi Onisaburo involving kotodama-gaku, which is the ‘science' of kotodama.

The remaining discourses are unnumbered, but have individual titles, which are given below with a rough translation.

自己完成の道: Jiko Kansei no Michi: The Way to Achieving Selfhood
祈りについて: Inori ni tsuite: About Prayer / Praying
武のはじめ: Bu no Hajime: Beginnings of Bu
武産合気の根源: Takemusu Aiki no Kongen: The Roots of Takemusu Aiki
私の合気修業方法: Watashi no Aiki Shugyo Hoho: My Method of Aiki Training
合気の錬磨方法: Aiki no Renma Hoho: The Method of Forging Aiki
真の武: Shin/Makoto no Bu: Real Bu
武気について: Buki ni tsuite: About Fighting Spirit
二度目の岩戸開き: Nidome no Iwato Biraki: The Second Opening of the Stone Door
神のたてたる道: Kami no Tateru Michi: Method of Raising Deities
霊のみそぎ法: Tama no Misogi Ho: Method of Purifying the Soul
祭政—致の本義: Saisei Itchi no Hongi: Cardinal Principles of Theocracy
神の生宮: Kami no Ikimiya: Living Palace of Deities
天の呼吸 地の呼吸: Ten no Kokyu: Chi no Kokyu; Breath of Heaven: Breath of Earth

Unlike the first five discourses, these do not appear to be part of a series. Nor do these discourses appear in the new Stevens translation. As the title indicates, Stevens has made a new compilation of Ueshiba's discourses, some of which are to be found in Takemusu Aiki, others not. Thus his translation-cum-paraphrase serves its purpose as an exposition of Ueshiba's philosophy (but intentionally devoid of the religious underpinnings), but it is not an accurate rendering of the Japanese text edited by Takahashi Hideo and published by the Byakko Shinkokai.

Form and Content
Even a cursory glance at the English translations of the first four discourses will show the reason for the near impossibility of summarizing the others. One of the problems here is Ueshiba's style, which Amdur compares to that of the philosopher Emanuel Levinas, whom he studied at university. "Rather than Ueshiba presenting an incoherent archaic mysticism, he left us a clear statement of what he was trying to accomplish, something that makes aikido far more challenging and enthralling than the idea that it's watered down Daito-ryu for the masses. This is not to say that Ueshiba is easy to understand. Clarity can be difficult and complex. Ueshiba's style of exposition is quite similar to that of the French philosopher Emanuel Levinas. Neither presents a dialectic of thesis, antithesis and synthesis, nor thesis, exposition and conclusion. Instead both men speak like waves rolling on the shore—returning again and again to the same themes, embellishing and amplifying them as they go." (HIPS, p. 166.)
Levinas, on the other hand, makes very much sense as he stands and his works have engendered a vast critical literature. Moreover, Levinas, unlike Ueshiba, does not need Amdur as his interpreter, to explain what he is really saying. So I do not find Amdur's comparison entirely convincing and to explain why, I will broaden his comparison to include other major figures whose writings I am familiar with: Homer, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, Wittgenstein, Levinas, Deguchi, and Ueshiba. We can first look at each in terms of form and content: what they said / wrote, and how they said / wrote it. Then we can look at the ‘logic' of discourse.

With Homer, we do not even know whether the poems were written by one person or by many. We have two epic poems written in Ionic Greek, concerning Achilles and Hector, during the siege of Troy, and the wanderings of Odysseus after the siege ended. The poems are written—and therefore ‘static'—versions of what were variations on a common theme that were originally delivered aloud by traveling bards: peripatetic ‘singers of tales', tales with which the audiences were already familiar. So the form and content completely match. Even the translations of these poems command attention in their own right and are recognized for their qualities of style, quite apart from the accuracy of the content (whether it is a faithful rendering of the Greek original). All our information about Heraclitus, including what he said or wrote, comes at least secondhand, mainly from those who quoted him in order to refute him. His style is said to be ambiguous: he exploited the resources of the Greek language in much the same way that Ueshiba Morihei exploited the resources of the Japanese language. However, apart from his ambiguity, in many cases there is simply not enough evidence to know what Heraclitus actually meant, or even might have meant. Our information about his nemesis, Parmenides, is also secondhand, but we have more evidence than for Heraclitus, including extracts from a long poem concerning revelations about truth and appearances, allegedly given to him by a goddess. With Plato, the form changes to prose, usually in a dialogue style and, despite all the arguments about dialectic and forms—with a content that became increasingly arcane as Plato grew older, there is a clear sense in his depictions of Socrates of the living person behind the arguments. So the form and the content also match quite smoothly. Aristotle was supposedly even a better exponent of the dialogue form than Plato, but none of his dialogues have survived. All we have are the dry notes of the lectures and classes he gave in the Lyceum. His immense and lasting influence is due much more to the content than the form in which it was presented. With Wittgenstein, we have two examples: the dry, precise, numbered propositions of the Tractatus, which Wittgenstein later abandoned in favor of the dialogue style in his later writings. However, in one sense the form and the content match each other. The Tractatus aims at the kind of logical accuracy that mirrors language considered as a set of true propositions, whereas the Philosophical Investigations presents philosophy as the unraveling of a set of puzzles about language, which is precisely what goes on in the work (and which, incidentally, was subjected to the same heavy editing as Takemusu Aiki). Levinas wrote books and papers on subjectivity (a very important concept which, coincidentally, is also a favorite subject with certain wartime Japanese philosophers of the Kyoto School) and both form and content are more recognizably academic, but the form Levinas uses (like waves rolling on a shore) is no major hindrance to understanding what he states.

Dialectics and Logics
All the above examples are towering figures in the world of ideas and all are accessible to English-language readers via reliable translations, which enable those who cannot read the original to judge the quality of both form and content. With Deguchi Onisaburo, on the other hand, major problems arise. No translations of Deguchi's major work, Reikai Monogatari, (which Ueshiba Morihei is known to have read and studied) have ever been attempted. The work was dictated after the first Omoto Suppression and the Japanese original is currently in print—in 81 volumes. The scale is Homeric, as, to some extent, are the contents (except that Deguchi himself is always the main hero), but I very much doubt that Reikai Monogatari will ever have the same monumental stature—in any culture—as the Iliad and the Odyssey have. Deguchi makes too many demands on his readers and Reikai Monogatari stands as a counterexample to Amdur's statement in HIPS that clarity can be difficult and complex. Ueshiba, on the other hand, did not write anything at all; he delivered discourses, which were edited and published by others, clearly with the intention of putting them into a readable form. Even so, major problems also arise. An additional problem with Ueshiba Morihei is that he has not been well served by his translators. Leaving aside the issues of translation as such, the translations of Ueshiba's discourses that have so far been published are really a mixture of summary or paraphrase: an effort to present Ueshiba as he might have sounded to a modern western reader. (The introductions and explanations in Budo Renshu and Budo are somewhat different; they are eminently technical, and with relatively little of the kotodama-gaku that pervades the ‘religious' discourses.) The translations that have been published by Stanley Pranin and Sonoko Tanaka in Aikido Journal are also different. They are real translations, not paraphrases or summaries, and have some critical apparatus, but this does not go far enough to explain to the committed reader what Ueshiba himself meant and probably took for granted. Until serious attempts are made to examine the discourses in terms of kotodama-gaku and also to place the 道歌 doka in their cultural and historical context as waka poetry (with full account taken of Chinese antecedents and Japanese parallels), Takemusu Aiki is likely to remain a closed book.

Amdur notes that both Levinas and Ueshiba present their respective discourses like the waves of the sea washing against the shore [like waves rolling on the shore—returning again and again to the same themes, embellishing and amplifying them as they go]. This might well be a fine analogy, but the reason why I spent time discussing form, content, and the way other thinkers deal with this, is that it must still be possible to make a dispassionate judgment about the quality of content, the quality of form, and the quality of the melding together of both. This is as true for discourse as waves as it is for discourse using dialectic. Another point is that Amdur's argument from the wave analogy relies on volume—the fact that the rolling is a continuous process discernible in all waves. His argument based on this metaphor would be stronger if he considered Ueshiba's entire corpus and not one very small part of it. If he did this, the rolling of the waves would be depicted rather more sharply.

Amdur's Discussion
Amdur gives a minute analysis of parts of the translated discourses. Even from the small amount of material studied, the picture of Ueshiba that emerges could never be called Ueshiba-lite. To see this, we need to consider a few topics.

Three Worlds
First, aikido is a ‘spiritual activity' and by this notorious phrase is meant activity as a sword, harmonizing Heaven, Earth and Humanity. This is Amdur's way of describing the three worlds. The Kojiki account is somewhat different, as the following account, published in 1938, shows. "The oldest Shinto mythology presents merely s particular form of the ordinary tripartite division of the visible universe into the upper world of the firmament where the gods and goddesses dwell and where they settle their affairs in tribal council under the authority of the great deities of the upper sky, the middle world of men on the surface of the earth, and the lower world of darkness where live evil and violent spirits ruled over by the great earth mother. The lower world is called Yomotsu-kuni or Yomi-no-kuni, with a probably meaning of ‘The Night Land.' The domain of living men is Utsushi-yo, ‘The Manifest World.' The upper world of everlasting felicity is called Takama-ga-hara, meaning ‘The Plain of the High Sky.'" (D C Holtom, The National Faith of Japan, p. 21.)
Amdur actually glosses over something that was exceedingly controversial and to see this we need to restate some essential background information that was first given in TIE Column 8.

Essential Digression
One central issue for these Kokugaku scholars concerned the interpretation of Japan's ancient myths. Masa-katsu-a-katsu-kachi-hayabi, the rather wimpish son of the Sun Goddess Ama-terasu-O-Mikami—and one of O Sensei's favorite deities, had been designated to descend from Heaven to rule Japan. Masa-katsu-a-katsu declined the request, since producing his son demanded his full attention, and this newborn son, Ame-Nigishi-kuni-nigishi-Ama-tsu-hiko Hiko-ho-no-Ninigi-no-mikoto (thankfully called the Heavenly Grandchild, for short), was commissioned to go in his place. This deity had to wait a while, however, until the ‘unruly earthly deities' had been subdued. When this had been done, the Sun Goddess Ama-terasu-O-Mikami dispatched various divine messengers to request O-Kuni-nushi-no-kami [a son of Take-Haya-Susa-no-o and the deity who ruled over the earth] to surrender the land. This deity eventually responded that, provided they built him a shrine ‘equal in splendor to the palace of the emperors', he would withdraw and ‘conceal myself and wait upon you…' The Nihongi adds that the heavenly messenger told O-Kuni-nushi that thereafter the latter would administer ‘kami matters', or ‘concealed matters'.

There was a major discussion over the meaning of these ‘concealed matters'. Kokugaku doyen Motoori Norinaga thought that the "kami matters" referred to the Land of Yomi, the land where deities like Izanami and also humans went after death. Motoori's disciple Hirata Atsutane disagreed and maintained that the kami actually lived alongside humans, but were ‘concealed' from ordinary affairs. Since O-Kuni-nushi-no-kami was a deity from Izumo, Hirata argued that Ama-terasu's Imperial Shrine at Ise was the center of the rule of visible, worldly affairs (and therefore that Japan's emperors had a higher status than other rulers—Japan being the center of the visible world), whereas Izumo was the center of the rule for invisible kami matters—Japan being the center of this world, also. The two worlds co-existed, but the influence of the ‘concealed' kami world was felt everywhere in the visible world. Thomas Nadolski notes that Hirata's arguments about the kami world and the Emperor's relationship to it became one of the ideological foundations of the restored emperor system.

Ueda Kisaburo [a.k.a. Deguchi Onisaburo] borrowed Hirata's teachings and took them several steps further. He argued that the kami world was actually in utter confusion, and for two reasons. One reason for the disorder stemmed from the collapse of the rule of Kuni-no-toko-tachi-no-kami, the primary deity created at the very beginning of the creative process, but who, after his brief mention at the beginning of the Kojiki, is never referred to again. Ueda argued that this deity had actually been charged by the Buddha Miroku (Maitreya) with establishing ‘just rule' over the world. Using an interesting blend of Buddhism and Shinto, Ueda argued that Miroku was the ultimate deity of the universe and that Kuni-no-toko-tachi-no-kami was the ruler of the divine world. Since Kuni-toko-tachi was pure spirit, Ueda maintained that his rule was too severe for ‘the eight hundred myriad deities' and they complained to Miroku. On hearing of the complaints, Kuni-toko-tachi went into voluntary retirement and Miroku allowed Bankojin, a Chinese creation deity (a.k.a. P'an ku), to establish his rule over the land of the kami. The rule of Bankojin represented the subjugation of the spirit to matter and, consequently, the world was thrown into a state of chaos, with wars, famines and plagues. According to Ueda, in 1892 Kuni-no-toko-tachi-no-kami decided to return to a particular part of the land of the kami that touched the earthly world, namely, the center at Ayabe, and restore his true rule. He used Neo Deguchi as his mouthpiece and this return was the main focus of the revelations in Nao Deguchi's Ofudesaki.

The second reason for the disorder related to Take-Haya-Susa-no-o-no-Mikoto, the brother of Ama-terasu. Susa-no-o had been expelled from heaven for unruly behavior (which had caused Ama-terasu to retreat into a cave and perpetual night to fall). O-kuni-nushi-no-kami, mentioned above as the ruling earthly deity, was a descendant of Susa-no-o, however, and when he retired in favor of the Heavenly Grandchild, this upset the original order of the universe. The reason for this was that Susa-no-o had originally been given command over the "Ocean Plain", which clearly included the visible world, and until his rule was restored, there would be continued chaos. Ever one for the eclectic, Kisaburo Ueda argued that it was Miroku who had sent Susa-no-o to earth, in order to help in the restoration of the reign of Kuni-toko-tachi. Together they would re-establish the dominance of spirit over matter and of order over chaos. Ueda himself was ordained to play a major role in this. Since Kisaburo had been told by his chinkon kishin teacher, Katsutate Nagasawa, that Susa no o was his personal spirit, Kisaburo believed that he himself was the incarnation of this deity.

Accordingly, the mission of Omoto was to unite all visible earthly matters with "concealed things" and this was the base of the Omoto doctrine that called for yo-naoshi: the restoration of a just order (which, incidentally, the Meiji Restoration clearly was not) and the destruction of all evil. In 1903, Kisaburo Ueda took the name Onisaburo (王仁三郎), with Chinese characters more appropriate to the name of an emperor, and in 1910, Ueda was adopted by Nao into the Deguchi family and finally became Onisaburo Deguchi.It should be clear from this ‘mission statement' just why Omoto was considered such a threat by the government and why the religion was suppressed in 1921. (Mainly quoted from Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation, Column 8.)
End of Essential Digression

The arguments of nativists like Motoori Norinaga and Hirata Atsutane about the precise meaning of the three worlds had not stopped when Deguchi Onisaburo was spreading the Omoto religion. As has been mentioned above, Deguchi initially stated that the three worlds would not be back in balance until Take-Haya-Susa-no-o-no-Mikoto (the unruly brother of the sun goddess Amaterasu O Mikami) had resumed rule over the human world. He, Deguchi, was the reincarnation of this deity, who would restore his rule initially at Ayabe, in Japan. It was Susa-no-o-no-Mikoto, after all, who slew the eight-headed dragon and received from its tail the kusanagi no shinken, the sword that became one of the Japanese imperial regalia (and which is mentioned by Ueshiba Morihei in the sentence following those quoted by Amdur, below). After the First Suppression in 1921, Deguchi changed this doctrine and made the Divine Grandchild (of Susa-no-o's sister, Amaterasu-O-Mikami and the offspring of the deity Masakatsu Agatsu) the rightful ruler of the human world, through his descendant the Japanese emperor. Just before the First Suppression in 1920, Ueshiba Morihei became one of Deguchi's closest disciples. In Takemusu Aiki, Ueshiba is far less controversial than Deguchi and does not mention the Japanese emperor, but he does mention Kuni-toko-tachi-no-kami, in a passage that Amdur does not reproduce in full. However, it is reasonable to assume that Ueshiba accepted Deguchi's theology, especially his belief in the important place of Take-Haya-Susa-no-o-no-Mikoto in the cosmic scheme of things.

The passage quoted by Amdur appears on p.162 of HIPS. "Ueshiba beautifully states, ‘The Earth has already been perfected… Only humanity has not yet completed itself. This is because sins and impurities have penetrated into us. The forms of aikido techniques are preparation to unlock and soften all joints of our body.' This remarkable passage defines how and why he created his method of training, distilled from his previous martial arts studies, why he selected out the techniques he did, and why he excluded others."
The Japanese original can be found in Takemusu Aiki, on p. 38. For those who wish to improve their skills in reading Japanese, here is the text. The parts that Amdur has quoted are printed in bold type.「大地はすでに完成され、国常立命が表にあらわれてき たのです。まだ人のみが完成されていない。罪けがれが身にしみこんでからです。合気道の技の形は体の節々をときほぐすための準備です。 これから六根の罪けがれをみそぎ浄めていなければなりません。
みそぎのために合気道は生れてきたのであります。即ち草薙の神剣の発動です。罪けがれの雑 草を払い、万有万真の条理を明らかにし、処理してゆくことであります。」
Next follows Sono Tanaka's translation, with the parts that Amdur omitted. "The Earth has already been perfected and Kuni Toko Tachi no Mikoto has begun to appear on its surface. Only humanity has not yet completed itself. This is because sins and impurities have penetrated into us. The forms of aikido techniques are preparation to unlock and soften all joints of our body. Beginning now on we must purify more and more sins and impurities of our rokkon.

Aikido was born for this purification. It is movement with the Divine Sword—Kusanagi no Shinken.It purifies sins and impurities, clarifies the principle of Truth existing in all nature, and takes care of everything."
Tanaka adds three notes. One explains that Kuni-Toko-Tachi-no-Mikoto was a creating deity in the Kojiki. The second explains the meaning of 六根 rokkon. (These are six organs: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, flesh and mind, giving rise to the six senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch and thinking. Tanaka adds that purifying the senses means ‘purifying our body and mind by cutting off all relationships associated with any illusion of the six senses.) The third note explains kusanagi-no-shinken and briefly recounts the story of Susa-no-o-no-Mikoto slaying the eight-headed dragon.

Finally, here is the new translation by John Stevens. "Earth came into being as divine energy made manifest. However, creation is not yet complete because sins and impurities still continue to taint our spirits. Aikido techniques make the joints of our bodies more flexible and pliant [and that softens our spirits as well]. Next our six sense organs [eyes ears, nose, tongue, skin and mind] must be purified.

Aikido came into being for the purpose of misogi [purification of body and mind]. It is a divine sword, a magic blade that cuts to the heart of things and slices through all entanglements. It clears the path for us so we can find the truth." (Stevens, The Heart of Aikido, p. 38.)
If one compares the translations with the Japanese original, it will be clear that all three are the result of choices. Amdur ignores the reference to Kuni-toko-tachi-no-Mikoto (which places Ueshiba fully in the tradition of Omoto political theology), because he wants to concentrate on aikido as a preparation for unlocking and softening the joints. Actually he quotes the same passage again (HIPS. p. 172), where he associates another of Ueshiba's metaphors, kasutori [滓, 粕, or 糟-- 取り: removing kasu or sediment, especially during the production of alcohol], with softening the joints. However, it is unusual in view of the large amount of space he devotes to the topic later, that Amdur ignores all the references to misogi, which is precisely what Ueshiba claimed he was doing when he practiced kasutori on his deshi.

Tanaka supplies some explanatory details in the notes, but also ignores the significance of misogi. Stevens cleverly includes Kuni-toki-tachi-no-Mikoto implicitly in his first sentence and mentions misogi specifically, but is more concerned to expand on the virtues of the sword. However, misogi occupies a central place in Ueshiba's discourse and I think Amdur would have done well to consider this in more detail here.

All You Need is Love…
The background is in HIPS, in Amdur's discussion of love. This is curious, for the whole discussion centers on the significance of ubuya (産屋), normally translated as ‘parturition hut'. However, the significance of the episode for Ueshiba's own conception of love is not clear from Amdur's discussion. Ubuya are mentioned elsewhere in the Kojiki and do not have the negative connotations that Amdur has given them here. This is one place where Amdur needs to follow the example of Levinas and make more use of Ueshiba's discourses as waves on the shore. Thus the mention of love here needs to be compared with Ueshiba's other discourses on the same subject, especially in the second section of 『合気神髄』Aiki Shinzui (English translation by John Stevens entitled The Secret Teachings of Aikido). Ueshiba gives ten discourses, under the general heading of ‘Aikido is the Spirit of Love', without mentioning ubuya even once.

Ubuya feature in the curious ritual undertaken by Izanagi and Izanami after the former's visit to Yomotsu-kuni. Amdur notes the long explanatory footnote (written by Takahashi and in fact translated by Tanaka Sonoko) after the first discourse, but the footnote essentially summarizes the story and notes that Ueshiba stated that aikido was the three peaches, cast by Izanagi, which caused all his pursuers to flee. Izanami then pursues her husband and the two come face to face over a huge boulder. Then, as the Japanese text has it, the two 事戸を度す. (The text reads kotodo wo watasu, but the characters are meaningless as they stand.) They make statements to the effect that, "If you act thus (action unspecified), I will each day strangle to death one thousand of the human grass of your country" [this is the first mention of human beings in the Kojiki], which is met with, "If you act thus (action unspecified), I will each day build one thousand five hundred parturition huts." And nothing else happens. The story ends rather lamely with the general statement that, "This is the reason why one thousand people inevitably die and one thousand five hundred people are inevitably born every day." Scholars take this as a popular account of the rapid population increase accompanying the development of agricultural production after the third and fourth centuries (details in Donald Philippi, Kojiki, p. 66).

Now Amdur explains the episode as showing a total lack of compassion on the part of Izanagi to his wife. These supposedly negative aspects of Izanagi's behavior are intended as illustrations of Ueshiba's conception of aikido as love, but in the true sense (as compared with any ‘aiki-bunny' interpretation of ‘aikido love' as Martial Agape—or even Martial Eros). On the other hand, the opening of the story has Izanami slaying the fire deity for killing his wife and then going to visit her in Yomotsu-kuni to request her to come back, since the work of creation is a joint activity, involving male and female, and it is not yet finished. Amdur sees male grandiosity in the threat to build the ubuya, alone, but, in view of the original emphasis on joint creation, another interpretation is quite possible. This is that there is no other option possible, but for Izanagi to carry on alone—and this is actually what happens: he produces the two most important deities in the entire Kojiki myth sequence during his misogi ritual. Readers will need to study Amdur's points here and, especially, read the entire Izanagi / Izanami sequences, either in Japanese or in a reliable English translation (Philippi's is really the only one). It is not my intention here to give any support whatever for any ‘aiki-bunny' interpretation of ‘aikido love' as Martial Agape—or even Martial Eros. However, the one thing that the episode does not illuminate is Ueshiba's ideas about Aikido as love.

Izanagi in the River
After returning from the Land of Yomi, Izanagi undertakes a complex misogi ritual and it is important to place this in some cultural context and abandon any idea that pollution and ritual purification has anything to do with sin and guilt, as these are understood in Christianity. This becomes clear from a comparison between the creation myths in the early chapters of Genesis and those in the Kojiki.

A preliminary point needs to be made that the editors / compilers of both accounts made an extensive trawl through contemporary myths to produce their own versions. Thus, the Chinese influences on the Kojiki are too obvious to be ignored and are even more obvious in the other compilation, the Nihon shoki, which appeared a few years after the Kojiki. A personal god, personal sin, guilt, and punishment are placed firmly at the forefront of the Genesis accounts of the creation of man and of the first fratricide. Even though God walks in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the evening, he severely questions Adam about his nakedness and expels Adam and his wife from the Garden, on the grounds that they might eat the fruit of the Tree of Life and make themselves as gods, like Lucifer and his fellow angels did. Though Philippi notes that some scholars have attempted to see a kind of Original Sin in Izanagi's descent to the Land of Yomi, the world of the Kojiki is quite different from that of Genesis. There is no hint of any attempt on the part of humans to be like deities, no fall from grace and no hint whatever of any personal offence in the conduct of Izanagi or his wife, or of any of the other deities who appear in the early sections of the work. In fact, the very names of the many deities are more like descriptions of what they are supposed to be or do. Izanagi's killing of the fire god presented no moral problems whatever, even for Morihei Ueshiba, and Susan-no-o's victory over Amatersau and the subsequent acts that led to his heavenly mura-hachibu were never seen as personal sins against the goddess or transgressions of moral rules applicable in all circumstances. More importantly, nor is there any hint of sin, guilt and punishment in Deguchi's magnum opus, Reikai Monogatari, from which Ueshiba Morihei took the inspiration for his discourses—and his theology. Instead, we have pollution, shame and ritual purification—with many kotodama battles between competing deities / avatars thrown in for good measure. There are some Christian influences in Reikai Monogatari, but these do not extend to theories of universal ethics or a personal sense of sin.

The importance of correct ritual is underlined by two other episodes in the Kojiki. When Izanami and Izanagi dance round the pillar and eventually produce a child, the ‘leech-child' that is produced is the result of incorrect procedure. The deities hold a meeting and instruct the pair to perform the dance again, this time correctly. The result is the creation of Japanese islands and many other deities. Secondly, after Amaterasu-O-Mikami has retreated into her cave and the Central Land of Reed Plains is visited with various calamities, a very careful ritual is prepared in order to entice her out again and the Kojiki goes into great detail about this. The ritual was successful, and is still reenacted in the kagura dance. Goi Masamichi placed great emphasis on the significance of the Opening of the Stone Door and this is also discussed by Ueshiba Morihei elsewhere in Takemusu Aiki.

A corollary of the lack of any ethical element in the accounts of misogi in the Kojiki or in Ueshiba's discourses is that Ueshiba is able to identify misogi with aikido training: the kind of training that removes the kaku from the joints, but this is not training done in a ‘moral' way or with a ‘good' intention. So Ueshiba did not become soft in his aikido training because he believed that aikido has a mission to promote world peace and love in a Christian or charismatic sense. Even if he did believe this, it would have made no difference whatever to the martial aspects of his aikido. With misogi, it is the correctness of the ritual that matters, not any super-ordinate moral intention regarding the purpose of the ritual, other than a general intention to become ‘pure', which is what the ritual is intended to achieve. So Ueshiba's aikido is like norito, the ancient ritual prayers that had to be intoned correctly, done with the correct gestures and with the kind of intent that Kukai explained in his discussions about shugyo and sanmitsu. If not, the power of kotodama could not arise—and Ueshiba also stated in many places in Takemusu Aiki that practicing aikido was practicing kotodama.

The question for contemporary non-Japanese aikido practitioners and also for those Japanese aikidoka [probably the vast majority] do not know about the origins of misogi as a training concept is: how to practice aikido as misogi? In answer to this question, there is an ambiguity about the concept as used by Ueshiba Morihei that would enable both Abe Seiseki and Ueshiba Kisshomaru to claim on his authority that they are practicing misogi in their aikido. Amdur explains in great detail the series of Misogi no gyo exercises performed by Abe, and it is quite likely that Ueshiba used these training exercises, from Kawatsura Bonji via Futaki Kenzo, to systematize his own discrete trainings that he had begun in Hokkaido. However, Ueshiba is also very clear in Takemusu Aiki (as clear, at least, as he ever is in this work) that his aikido, everything practiced on the tatami, including the waza and ukemi, are misogi training, not solely the exercises he performed before and after training in waza. The fact that this is the case has some important consequences, for it allows an interpretation of aikido as misogi, based solely on practicing waza, understood as techniques. The ‘internal training' exercises can then be repackaged as ‘warming up' exercises, ‘always performed by O Sensei' before the main business of training in waza begins—and all the references to removing kasu through training can be interpreted in this context.

Conclusions
For reasons of space, it is impossible to discuss all of Amdur's insights in this chapter. I believe that Amdur is absolutely right to stress the crucial importance of the religious component of Ueshiba Morihei's thinking and that the modern translations put out by Kodansha, purporting to place Ueshiba with the context of ‘universal human values' do not present a completely true picture of the man and his art. However, to do what Amdur intends to do in this chapter, it is necessary to examine with care the entire corpus of Ueshiba's discourses. We have here at best a compelling account of what Ueshiba might have meant, on the basis of a small selection of his output—if he is translated in a certain way. However, I believe that Amdur is largely correct in his general explanation of how Ueshiba saw aikido and so this chapter is one of the most important in the book.

5. Training the Body—to See what is Hidden…
The fifth chapter in Amdur's book is concerned more with the nitty-gritty of training.

Strength
In a section entitled "Natural Strength", Amdur begins with the reasonable observation that someone involved in heavy physical labor willy-nilly learns quite subtle principles involving the use of body weight and physical strength. "Internal strength probably developed as an extrapolation and refinement from the skills and efficiency that a person naturally develops to accomplish hard tasks of daily life. That understanding integrated with increasing sophistication over the centuries within the "unnatural" process of martial arts training and technique." (HIPS, p. 178.)
Amdur's first example is farming and he cites "farmer's strength", but this is something of a red herring as far as Takeda is concerned and at least initially in the case of Ueshiba. Takeda was brought up in a temple and does not seem to have worked at all. Ueshiba Morihei's father was a wealthy farmer, but Ueshiba himself seems to have been shielded from the "hard tasks of daily life" until he settled in Hokkaido. Sagawa had a private income. Of course, they all did intense personal training, each after his own fashion, and after Ueshiba arrived in Hokkaido, he had little choice but to get down to the hard tasks. I have argued elsewhere that Ueshiba's apparent joy at the bucolicism of budo was part of Ueshiba's own spiritualization of budo. The link between agricultural labor and budo is accidental and owes much to the nativist Hirata Atsutane's purported ‘rediscovery' of so-called ‘traditional' Japanese values. Ueshiba's joy was not shared by Takeda, who never allowed himself the time to settle down and pursue such a mundane and ‘un-samurai' activity as farming.

Of course, there is an issue here, which is of some relevance to those who wish to acquire internal power / skill in ‘aiki', but who have families to support—with no acquired wealth. In a footnote, Amdur cites David P Willoughby's The Super Athletes and a glance at Amazon.com will reveal a whole raft of books devoted to super athletes, many of which purport to explain to the buyer how he/she can become one. The issue is the role played by Nature and Nurture, respectively. The underlying message of Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers is that Nurture is by far the most important factor and that if people put in the required amount of training—10,000 hours is the minimum, the potential, at least, for the flowering of ‘genius' will be there. The catch is that this is best done earlier in one's life, rather than later. A slightly different message is conveyed by books like Christopher McDougall's Born to Run, which deals with a tribe of runners in Mexico, who are similar to the Amazonian hunters described by Amdur (HIPS, p. 179). McDougall himself was taught to run by a dropout who learned to run with the Tarahumara Indians and he cured himself of various physical problems—especially severe knee problems—along the way. McDougall's is a ‘return-to-nature' book, in which he argues, for example, that bare feet are better than the advanced products that Adidas and Nike regularly bring out, but he also includes detailed accounts of how he and others put in the 10,000 hours of training required.

So it is the solo training that is important, rather than a return to the primitive conditions of an Amazonian tribe, to the working conditions of an un-mechanized farm or of a nineteenth century coal mine. In fact, Amdur never argues that ‘natural strength' and internal power are the same. He notes that the latter requires "incredibly sophisticated and specialized training". "Solo training seems to be a common link among Daito-ryu practitioners and the various methods of this training develop different types of internal strength. Such training can include: a) wringing / twisting / coiling of the body to develop the connective tissue; b) methods of breathing to generate "pressure", which builds power from the inside out; c) mental imagery and focused attention that causes subtle micro-adjustments of the nervous system that, in essence, "rewire" the body, so that it functions at increasing levels of efficiency, without unnecessary conflicts between extensor and flexor muscles, for example. Different practitioners of Daito-ryu, including Ueshiba, probably used different exercises and also probably trained in these aspects in different proportions. In this way, their abilities would have developed in different spheres." (HIPS, pp. 181-182.)
‘Aiki'
Amdur then turns to Ueshiba Morihei more specifically and notes what he thinks is a progress in what we might call the expression of this training. The progress is from ‘lightning' to ‘void'. However, the important point for this reviewer is that both are different ways of showing internal power. During the Kenkoku University demonstration in Manchuria in 1942, according to Tada Hiroshi's cousin Ueshiba's uke acted "as if they were being shocked by high-voltage electricity". In the 1960s, on the other hand, the uke had no clue at all how he fell. "When somebody else did it you knew they were ‘doing it' to you, they were unbalancing you no matter how lightly they did it. When O Sensei did it, ‘Bang' you were down. Why are you down? You had no clue." (Henry Kono, cited by Amdur on HIPS, p. 183.) Amdur strongly suggests that this is the transition from lightning to void, but also reveals what seems to be a flaw in Kono's explanation. "Kono: ‘If you look at the yin and yang symbol, it depends on the perspective you are dealing with it. If you isolate the black and white side you can say they have their own center, which is obvious. But when they join up as a symbol, the center is represented where each side comes together. There is no other place where the center could be but where they meet, both sides being identical in value and weight. No thinking is needed. It's straight mathematics.'
Interviewer: ‘Isn't conversation about aikido the same?'
Kono: ‘No. Most of it comes down to unbalancing the other. In yin and yang, nobody is trying to unbalance anybody, or even control: it can only flow together.'"
Amdur adds the following comment: "One practitioner of internal strength training noted to me that it would be superficial to regard the ‘meeting' of yin and yang, represented by the line in the middle, as merely the joining of the two practitioners. He stated that the line represents the spine, and yin and yang are forces within the body of the person skilled in aiki, used to dominate the disorganized power of the other person." (HIPS, ibid.)
Two points are worth making here. First, both lightning and void seem to be expressions of the meeting of yin and yang within the individual, not between one practitioner and the other. So, what is at issue here is the expression of the internal power. As someone who has taken ukemi from Tada Hiroshi for almost thirty years, I think the expression of his power, like that of Shioda Gozo, can be described more as a shock of electricity than as an invitation into a void. You have entered a whirlwind, but Tada has done hardly anything to adjust his posture to take account of you as his uke. With Tada especially, much more than with any other of the shihans currently affiliated to the Aikikai Hombu, the impression is given that the waza are expressions of something else, more important, that is going on. Of course, as stated above, Tada joined the Tenpukai and the Ichikukai when he was a student at Waseda and still practises the ki no renma exercises he fashioned as a result. Always ramrod straight in posture, he is still going strong at the age of 82.

Whether Tada Hiroshi's solo kokyu training is training to acquire internal power, however, is certainly moot—and depends to some extent on how training to acquire 呼吸力 (kokyu ryoku: breathing power) is regarded as internal training. Tada no longer wanders round the mat throwing all and sundry, as he used to do when he was younger. His ukes are usually from a certain group of Tokyo University students and I suspect that, like the famous Japanese sakura [cherry blossoms], their skills bloom for the short time they are students—and have the leisure to train hard—and then die away, as they write their graduation theses and enter the ‘real' world of earning a living, raising families etc. I think that Tada realizes this, for in a private conversation, which took place after the end of a two-day training session, in which he had spent several hours teaching the full range of breathing and moving exercises, he commented that it was such a pity that (a) the students had the time to train hard and get to understood these exercises well, but they could never become a lifetime commitment, and that (b) because the ordinary members of the dojo could not put in the time required, they would find it much, much more difficult to understand these matters.

Tada Hiroshi's training has been intense but he has a very precise idea of what his training is intended to achieve and he certainly meets Gladwell's conditions in terms of hours put in, as he himself suggests in these extracts from the Aikido Journal interview. "Personal training is important no matter what art you practice. You should create your own training program, starting with running. In my twenties and into my thirties I used to get up at 5:30 every morning and run about fifteen kilometers. When I finished that I went home and practiced striking a bundle of sticks with a bokken (wooden sword). In those days the houses in Jiyugaoka were much further apart, so I could make as much noise as I pleased. I trained using the method of Jigen-ryu, which I had learned from O-Sensei at Iwama. It's said that in the old days the warriors of the Satsuma domain [in Kyushu] would strike a bundle of brushwood ten thousand times every day, but I could only manage about five hundred at best. At first it made my hands go numb, but after a while I was able to strike a large tree with no problem. I've had my students at Waseda University and Gakushuin University train in this way. I find it to be one of the best training methods for aikido.

"It is very important to observe your teacher's personal training method very closely and learn it well; otherwise you may draw hasty and wrong conclusions and end up doing meaningless or mistaken training. In any case, you need to review what your teacher has taught you and attempt to discern something that represents the basic lines of it; then practice that over and over until you can do it. In this way you create your personal training method.

"I think if you want to become an expert at what you do - whether it's martial arts, sports, some kind of art, or whatever - then you need to train at least two thousand hours a year while in your twenties and thirties. That's five to six hours a day. It probably depends on the person, but most of that time will be spent in personal training. After training on your own you can come to the dojo to confirm, try out, and work through whatever you've gained. (Interview with Hiroshi Tada, Aikido Journal, #101,)
Secondly, the demonstration in the year 1942 marks the end of one period and the beginning of another. Ueshiba withdrew to Iwama in 1942 (the Tenkoku demonstration took place before this) and began his intensive training with weapons a few years later, which issued in the early books by Saito Morihiro. Ueshiba had already broken with Takeda a few years earlier and also had already begun misogi training, as he states in his accounts of the ‘mystical' experiences he had. In fact it is highly likely that the misogi training had begun much earlier. Thus the complex discussion about ‘aiki' and weapons in Chapter Three needs to be kept in mind as Amdur discusses Ueshiba's training methods here.

Ueshiba's ‘Aiki'
Amdur moves on to discuss Ueshiba's power in more detail. One important point he makes is that it is difficult (i.e., impossible) to achieve the kind of explosive power from the kind of ukemi training commonly seen in aikido dojos, with uke gracefully executing flying all over the dojo. "The result of such practice, done well, should be the development of an individual who is athletic, supple, and quickly responsive to dealing with force, from whatever angle it comes. This, however, cannot be considered the heart of Ueshiba's development of skill." (HIPS. p. 184.)
Amdur actually identifies Ueshiba's ‘aiki' with the two aspects identified in the previous section: the explosive power, and the ability to cause the opponent to fall without him knowing what happened. Amdur has little time for those who suggest that Ueshiba actually weakened his aikido as a result of his spiritual pursuits, or for those who believe that it is possible to achieve the divine takemusu aiki(do) directly, without going through the training that could lead to this. What we have, suggests Amdur, is a Ueshiba who, like good wine, matured as he grew older, but still possessed the explosive power shown in 1942. To someone who has such skills, the execution of techniques becomes a secondary matter.

The issue for Amdur then becomes one of distinguishing Ueshiba's power / skill from that of the other students of Takeda Sokaku. As stated earlier, each of Takeda's close students appears to have developed differently and Amdur spends much of his third chapter attempting to show that in Ueshiba's aikido, these skills "are part of the expression of a larger system of ethics, religion and a way of understanding the one's place in this world." Technically, there is not much to choose and one eminent aikido shihan told me privately that he did not think that the technical aspects of his aikido changed very much after his meeting with Deguchi Onisaburo. (I think he told me privately because it was contrary to the official line at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, namely, that Ueshiba created a completely new art and not merely a softer variation of Daito-ryu.) There is a touch of irony about Amdur quoting a statement from Ueshiba Kisshomaru, who most ardently argued that his father had created something entirely new, to show that "Ueshiba's aikido, real aikido," was "pure Daito-ryu (irimi-issoku) and then, that accomplished, rounded out, the opponent projected away rather than crushed or folded close in." (HIPS, pp. 191-192.) Whilst generally agreeing with this, I believe that there is also quite a large variation between aikido as taught at the Aikikai Hombu, especially after Kisshomaru became Doshu and imposed his own mold on the training there, and elsewhere in Japan. This tendency has been continued under the present Doshu, even to the point where certain types of practice, which were certainly pursued by Ueshiba Morihei himself, are receiving censure as not expressing the essential ‘spirit' of aikido (合気道の精神). However, there are still a large number of senior instructors (Kato Hiroshi is one and my own teacher Kitahira Masakazu is another, both 8th dan holders) who have worked out their own way of executing waza that are not confined within the Hombu patterns.

Amdur concludes this chapter with a discussion of two important topics: (1) whether and how Ueshiba passed on his knowledge to his students; and (2) whether and how Ueshiba's misogi training evolved into a coherent system and built upon his Daito-ryu skills and his natural strength. I have discussed the first topic above, in the section dealing with weapons training. However the point that Amdur's stresses here is that Ueshiba was able to teach his skills in a relatively short time—to those who were in a condition to receive such teaching. The classic example is the sumo wrestler Tenryu. Tenryu had achieved the rank of sekiwake, but went to Manchuria in 1938 as a physical education instructor. He encountered Ueshiba Morihei in 1939 and entered the Kobukan Dojo in April the same year. He stayed for three months and at the end of this time, when on a trip to Osaka with Shioda Gozo, was told by Ueshiba, "I have nothing else to teach you. Don't worry. You will be able to handle anyone who comes to attack you, wherever you go." (Quoted by Amdur in HIPS, pp. 193-194; Original interview in Pranin, Aikido Masters, pp. 274-283, Aikido Pioneers -- Prewar Era, pp. 214-221.)

The fact that Tenryu had to obtain leave of absence from his university and the possibility that three months was the maximum time possible should not detract from the fact that Ueshiba believed that he could acquire the skills within the time allotted. However, Tenryu appears to have been the only deshi to whom Ueshiba imparted such a belief. The other deshi in the Kobukan stayed for much longer periods and appear to have left the dojo only because they were drafted into the Japanese armed forces, as the war increased in scale. So the question inevitably arises how exceptional Tenryu was. Of course, it is not insignificant that he had trained in sumo and had achieved serious rank in the art. Given the precedent set by Takeda Sokichi, Takeda Sokaku and by Ueshiba Morihei himself, it is reasonable that sumo provided Tenryu with a high level of skill to begin with. Amdur notes that teaching the information needed to learn such skills (which must be done explicitly) need not take much time, even if mastery of the skills takes much longer. There are two aspects to this teaching. One is the IHTBF paradigm, since the information needed has to be shown and cannot be conveyed merely by talking about it, but the other is the choice of metaphors to describe the information, for, as well as being experienced directly, it does have to be talked about, even if this is done in metaphors.

(2) The second topic is the evolution of Ueshiba's misogi training, from its beginnings in Hokkaido and Ayabe to a coherent system of breath exercises, at the hands of Futaki Kenzo of the Misogi no Renseikai (禊の錬成会). Amdur's elegant survey of the exercises done by the Misogikai leads to an important question, which I touched upon before, when discussing Amdur's treatment of Takemusu Aiki. When did Ueshiba do these exercises and why, out of all the deshi, were Abe Seiseki and Sunadomari Kanshu in Kyushu the only ones to practice them? Is it that he showed them in such detail only to Abe, or practiced them generally but in private, or practiced them as an essential core of what are nowadays called ‘warming up' exercises, but never expected his deshi to do them to the same degree or with the same intensity? Apart from Abe himself, the only shihan affiliated to the Aikikai who spent any length of time on such exercises were the late Okumura Shigenobu and also Tada Hiroshi, who appears to have devised his own. Amdur also notes that Ueshiba's metaphor of kasutori, discussed above, struck a major chord with Sunadomari Kanshu, but no one else appears to have heard the comment, or have been impressed with it.

Conclusion
By way of a conclusion, we can profitably reconsider the set of ten questions suggested at the beginning of this essay, concerning the cluster of skills involved, and consider the answers that Amdur has provided.

1. What, exactly, do these skills consist of?
We receive many hints and incidental explanations throughout the book and the cumulative weight of these explanations is impressive, but the original working definition set out in the Forward is never expanded upon and I personally think that this is one of the biggest shortcomings of the book. Of course, I can well understand the reasons why Amdur might have avoided doing this. Discussing internal skills, especially in Internet forums, is like crossing a minefield, with empiricists, behaviorists, rationalists and ki-mystics, all claiming to give accurate definitions or descriptions of the same elephant. Of course, Amdur has never claimed any expertise; like many others, he is actively pursuing the training he discusses in the book. However, right from the very beginning, Amdur indicates to the reader that he is going to focus on internal skills and I think the book would have been improved by collecting all the loose ends together, with an extended discussion about the precise nature of the internal skills that he believes both Takeda and Ueshiba to possess. I think the best place to have done this would be a more serious section in the chapter entitled, "Circle, Square, Triangle: How to be O Sensei in Sixteen Easy Steps." I believe that this is all the more important because many aikido practitioners will read the book and will want to place internal skills / training in the context of their own training in aikido waza. Since both Takeda and Ueshiba taught or showed waza—and therefore, on the surface at least, showed such skills through the medium of waza, the problem for aikido practitioners who want to study internal training as such is to place this training in a suitable context.

2. Did Takeda Sokaku possess these skills?
Amdur certainly believes so and the cumulative evidence he reviews in HIPS is impressive.

3. If so, how did Takeda Sokaku acquire these skills?
The core appears to have been the sumo training undergone at the hands of his father. This was supplemented by the extensive training in weapons and body arts that he undertook especially from the time he entered the dojo of Sakakibara Kenkichi. However, Amdur does not give much indication of how the ‘10,000' hours training done at an early age, regarded by Gladwell as so crucial for accumulating the skills that flower as ‘genius', actually translates into specifically ‘internal' skills. I think that the main reason for this is probably lack of precise information.

4. Did Takeda Sokaku teach these skills to all his disciples?
Takeda Sokaku appears to have ‘played' with most of the people he taught, by using them for a work-in-progress: the ingredients of what became the jujutsu waza of Daito-ryu. However, closer students such as Sagawa and Ueshiba received something more intensive, being shown much more subtle skills and in greater depth.

5. In particular, did Takeda Sokaku pass on these skills to Ueshiba Morihei?
Compared with the previous question, the thrust of this question is the extent to which a student can acquire internal power and skills not specifically taught by the teacher. So the best answer to this question is probably ‘Not especially'. There is conflicting evidence. For example, Takeda claimed he was in Osaka to teach aiki skills to Hisa Takuma, a claim that Hisa never denied (the implication being that he had not taught these skills to Ueshiba). However, Kisshomaru Ueshiba states that his father Morihei acquired these skills in Hokkaido, much earlier.

6. If not, how did Ueshiba Morihei acquire these skills?
In much the same way as Takeda's own teachers and his other students: by stealing and working things out for himself, the latter also by means of a rigorous and long-lasting personal training regime that was analogous in may respects to Takeda's.

7. Did Ueshiba Morihei teach these skills, as part of his training methodology?
Whereas Ueshiba did not really ‘play' with the people he taught (cf. Amdur's references to Takeda's "really perverse sense of humor", pretzels and human origami, [HIPS, pp. 98, 108, 186]—he had fewer family demons to deal with), he had the same general attitude as Takeda: students were expected to see and ‘steal' what he offered, but what was offered was offered on his own terms. Amdur does regard some of Ueshiba's students as akin to ‘crash-test dummies', in the sense that he passed on skills that he considered appropriate to their interests and abilities (Hikitsuchi in Shingu), or used students as partners for working on his own training at a particular point in his life (Saito in Iwama).

8. Did Ueshiba Morihei pass on these skills to all his disciples?
The choice of terms ‘teach' and ‘pass on' is intended to be significant. Ueshiba might have shown things to individual students, whom he believed might understand what he showed, but the internal skills were part of his training methodology, not his teaching methodology. That is, insofar as he actually used a teaching methodology: Amdur seems unclear here. Ueshiba had no problem with his students continuing their outside training activities, such as training with the Tempukai, Misogi no Renseikai and the Ichikukai, which students like Hiroshi Tada had joined at the same time as they entered the Hombu Dojo. Thus Ueshiba built on what his deshi had already acquired and so it is quite likely that he could tell Tenryu, who, like Takeda Sokichi, had already done some serious internal training in sumo and had the rank of sekiwake, that he could acquire the skills that Ueshiba had to offer in a few months. The younger postwar deshi of Kisshomaru did not have this advantage—and it is a moot point to what extent Kisshomaru himself put in the amount of solo training necessary for the acquisition of such skills. (Tenryu makes some telling points in his Aiki News interview.) So I think the answer to the question has to be ‘No.'

9. Did Ueshiba Morihei pass on these skills to those who claim succession from him: the heads of the schools displaying the various ‘flavors' of aikido?
Not specifically.

10. Does the acquisition of these skills form part of the teaching/training methodology of postwar aikido?
Not directly.

Finally, despite the seemingly adverse comments I have made in this essay, I think that Amdur has produced a superb piece of work—and one that I would like to have written myself. (Alas, I have not had the breadth of martial experience that Ellis Amdur has had, even though I have lived here for much longer, and have had less exposure to training in internal skills than Amdur has had.) In my opinion, Amdur has put his finger on a whole cluster of issues affecting postwar aikido and I am not sure whether people in authority, like Doshus and Sokes and Kanchos—even many of the Japanese Senseis whose exploits are extolled in the AikiWeb forums, are really even aware of these issues. Thus the biggest problem is that Amdur's work is available only in English and not, especially, in Japanese. HIPS, like DOS and TOS, would have a somewhat deeper impact on a potentially important audience (which, notoriously, is conspicuously conservative and even more conspicuously lacking in overt English skills) if reliable Japanese translations were available.

A few minor grumbles: The list given in Appendix A is excellent, but would be more useful to the serious researcher if the names were also given in Chinese characters. Secondly, I know from experience how difficult it is to proof and edit one's own writing, but there are a fair number of typing mistakes and other stylistic infelicities, which need to be corrected if a second printing is ever contemplated.

Essay on Reading & Further Research
Though I have already written a conclusion, this section is the real conclusion to this review essay. As usual, the following suggestions (of books, rather than articles, written mainly in English) are intended as a way to fill out some of the discussion in the various chapters. However, I have given the above title to this section because I believe that much more than reading is desirable for those who wish to take Amdur's research a stage further.
NOTE: Amdur's book can be obtained only from Edgework. Purchasing details can be found at www.edgework/info (http://www.edgework/info).

There are two sets of items that are absolutely essential reading concerning Takeda Sokaku and Daito-ryu.
(a) Important items in the first set are the biographical essays written by Takeda Tokimune and published by Stanley Pranin in the earlier issues of Aiki News. Tokimune was also interviewed by Stanley Pranin on a number of occasions and these interviews have been published by Aiki-News in Japanese and English: 『竹田惣角と大東流合気柔術』, 1992; Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu: Conversations with Daito-ryu Masters, 1996, Aiki-News. In fact, the entire archive of articles and interviews created by Stanley Pranin at Aikido Journal merits deep and repeated study. All the back issues of Aiki News and Aikido Journal are available on a CD-ROM that comes with a subscription to Aikido Journal. This is one of the best bargains in the martial arts.
However, people will need to read each interview very carefully and bear in mind that these are translations from Japanese originals. I think it is also important to be aware of the biases of Takeda's Daito-ryu students. In my opinion, the biases of Tokimune can best be seen in contrast with the equally strong biases of Sagawa Yukiyoshi (see below).
(b) The second set of items are the interviews and other material made by Kimura Tatsuo relating to Sagawa Yukiyoshi, another of Takeda's top students: 『透明な力 不世出の武術家 佐川幸義』, 1995, 講談社; Transparent Power: A Secret Teaching Revealed: The Extraordinary Martial Artist Yukiyoshi Sagawa, 2009, MAAT Press; 『合気修得への道 佐川幸義先生に就いた二十年』: Discovering Aiki: My 20 Years with Yukiyoshi Sagawa Sensei, 1995, Aiki News. Another student, Takahashi Masaru, has produced an account of Sagawa and his training: 『高橋賢, 佐川幸義先生伝 大東流合気の真実』, 2007, 福昌堂.

3 Aiki and Weapons
With respect to Takeda Sokaku, the two Japanese works cited earlier are fundamental for the general evidence of weapons training in the Aizu-Wakamatsu domain: 小川渉(Ogawa Wataru), 『会津藩教育考』(Thoughts on Education in the Aizu Domain), 1930, 東京大学出版会; 笠井助治(Kasai Suteji), 『近世藩校の綜合的研究』(Studies of Domain Schools in the Early Modern Period), 1965, 吉川弘文館.
Hotta Setsuo has produced a facsimile edition of Sei'un-ki, the handwritten autobiographical memoir of Saigo Tanomo, with a printed version and extensive annotations. (掘田節夫,『会津藩老・西郷頼母自叙伝「栖雲記」私注』, 1993, 東京書籍.)
With respect to Takeda Sokaku's alleged ‘genius' with a sword, Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers is essential reading. I have some reservations about the uses Gladwell makes of the research of Geert Hofstede (works cited in earlier columns) and I also believe it is difficult to apply his conclusions to Takeda Sokaku or Ueshiba Morihei without qualification, but Outliers remains an important speculative study of the alleged antecedent conditions for the display of genius. (Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success, 2008, Little Brown.)
The biographies of Ueshiba Morihei are essential reading here, as also are the technical and (auto)biographical studies of (or by) Shioda, Shirata and Saito. The recent English translation of Ueshiba Kisshomaru's『合気道開祖植芝盛平伝』, entitled A Life in Aikido, is especially important

4. Aikido as Fruit
It is not sufficiently realized that Ueshiba Morihei practiced Daito-ryu right up until the early 1940s. At least, this is what one of his students understood. In fact, the transformation of Daito-ryu, as Takeda invented it and Ueshiba practiced it, into aikido, as his son Kisshomaru practiced and disseminated it worldwide, provides a kind of backdrop to all the issues discussed in Amdur's book. Again, Stanley Pranin has interviewed many of Ueshiba's students and has published some of these in English: Stanley Pranin, Ed, Aikido Masters: Prewar Students of Morihei Ueshiba, 1993, Aiki-News. A republication of these interviews has been made, entitled, Aikido Pioneers: Prewar Era. Unfortunately, Pranin was never able to interview Admiral Isamu Takeshita, who was a bridge between Ueshiba and Takeda Sokaku. Takeshita kept diaries for much of his life and some portions of these relate directly to his budo training. A few individuals possess copies of portions of these diaries, but originals are kept in the National Diet Library in Tokyo. The sections dealing with Takeshita's bujutsu training have not, to my knowledge, been published.
Kodansha International has published an English translation of some parts of Takemusu Aiki. The translator of this work is John Stevens, who also translated Aiki Shinzui, the collected discourses by Ueshiba Morihei. Having read this new translation and insofar as Prof Stevens has set something of a precedent with Aiki Shinzui, I still stand by the remarks I made about translating Takemusu Aiki, despite the appearance of this translation (Morihei Ueshiba, The Heart of Aikido: The Philosophy of Takemusu Aiki, 2010, Kodansha International).

5. Seeing what is Hidden
A fair amount has been written about the issue of nature vs. nurture concerning innate physical strength and skill and the training required to maintain it, or achieve something similar. Amdur himself cites David Willoughby's The Super Athletes [about Amazonian hunters] and this can be supplemented by a vast number of ‘super-athlete' books, such as McDougall's Born to Run [about a hidden tribe of Mexican super-runners]. (David P Willoughby, The Super Athletes: A Record of the Limits of Human Strength, Speed and Stamina, 1970, Barnes; Christopher McDougall, Born to Run, 2009, Knopf.) There are even philosophical treatments of the issues involved (Colin McGinn, Sport, 2008, Acumen; Michael W Austin, Running & Philosophy: A Marathon for the Mind, 2007, Blackwell).

Epilogue; Conclusion
The main focus of Amdur's discussion of the roots of Ueshiba's power is on ‘internal power / skills' and it is quite clear from Amdur's discussion that Ueshiba possessed such power and skills; it is less clear whether he taught such skills to his students, or, if he did, whether they were able to reproduce them, or to manifest analogous skills in their own practice. Consequently, if they have any interest at all in such skills, aikido practitioners in particular will need to do a very stringent reality check and find out whether the skills they have mastered through their aikido training are really ‘internal' and, if they are not, whether this matters to them. (Amdur has occasionally described such training as a ‘rewiring' of the body and if this is the case, it is highly likely that it will involve much unlearning or relearning.) If it does matter to them, I suspect that this reality check will be rather more painful for higher-ranked aikido practitioners, or for those who make a living from teaching aikido, than for beginners or for those professionals who are at the start of their aikido careers. Apart from texts, for example, the discourses and doka of Ueshiba Morihei, or the much older texts relating to the core concepts of Chinese martial arts (all of which need to be interpreted), there is little of value on internal arts as applied to aikido. Here is an excerpt from a discussion in the AikiWeb forums. The topic is the definition of ‘aiki'. "When I go back over this thread and look at it objectively, I see that there are essentially two types of groups posting—those that have some hands on experience in IS/IP [I]… and those that have not. Those that have not want to see videos with explanations of how to do this and what it looks like so they can believe it's real. On the other side, there are those with first hand knowledge saying that videos are not the way to teach nor train IS/IP, and that at best, a video could only provide a minor glimpse into what is going on. So, their preferred method of transmission is in person; which is pretty traditional for most (if not all) JMA [Japanese martial arts]and CMA [Chinese martial arts]. What I find interesting is that no one from the experienced group has ever said what these people are doing is not real, and that most of the people in the experienced group are very accomplished within their own arts and some are very senior ranking members of their arts—and they all are saying the same thing. So, that just begs the question, how can all these people be wrong in exactly the same way? The laws of probability tell me that they are not and that it would be wise to listen them. If those in the other group keep insisting that these people in the know just hand deliver their knowledge to their doorstep because they are part of the ‘I want' generation, the experienced people will just fade away and all that would be left is a bunch of people jabbering on the net about what ever happened to those aiki folks? I wish they would come back because I want to learn more … "
Much can be learned from specialized websites, but, ultimately, in the absence of a robust and recognized vocabulary and training methodology, the only way forward is for individuals who have the time, commitment and skills to do what Takeda and Ueshiba themselves did: seek out those ‘outliers' who are generally believed to possess this power / skills and train for and by themselves. An optimistic view is that at some point, a general reassessment of aikido training takes place, which places far more importance on personal training in addition to training in Daito-ryu or aikido waza, which is a combination that comes closer to what Takeda and Ueshiba actually undertook.

However, a note of caution needs to be made here—and Amdur himself makes it in HIPS, especially when dealing with the contribution of Ueshiba Kisshomaru to postwar aikido. ‘Outliers' is a well-chosen term, for those who will excel in internal power / skills are those who have had the time and commitment to put in the training and Gladwell himself notes that these are very few. However, this is also true in the case of aikido, which is not in itself thought to involve internal power / skills—especially in the way it is taught nowadays, and where the super-shihans who truly excel technically are also very few in number and are the products of similarly long and arduous training regimes. Hence the 10,000 hours is not really an issue, compared with the type and quality of the training actually undertaken.Peter Goldsbury (b. 28 April 1944). Aikido 6th dan Aikikai, Emeritus Professor at Hiroshima University, teaching philosophy and comparative culture. B. in UK. Began aikido as a student and practiced at various dojo. Became a student of Mitsunari Kanai at the New England Aikikai in 1973. After moving back to the UK in 1975, trained in the Ryushinkan Dojo under Minoru Kanetsuka. Also trained with K Chiba on his frequent visits to the UK. Moved to Hiroshima, Japan, in 1980 and continued training with the resident Shihan, Mazakazu Kitahira, 7th dan Also trained regularly with Seigo Yamaguchi, Hiroshi Tada, Sadateru Arikawa and Masatake Fujita, both in Hiroshima and at the Aikikai Hombu. Was elected Chairman of the IAF in 1998. With two German colleagues, opened a small dojo in Higashi-Hiroshima City in 2001. Instructed at Aiki Expo 2002 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

crbateman
06-15-2010, 09:36 PM
Now that is what I call a review... (bowing) I'm not worthy... :eek:

Peter Goldsbury
06-16-2010, 09:03 AM
Oh, I don't know Clark. You have a pretty good collection over at Aikido Journal. This is really a one-off and I have already resumed work on the regular columns. Nevertheless, there is so much good stuff in Ellis's book that it deserves to be taken to pieces and put together again.

Best wishes,

PAG

Now that is what I call a review... (bowing) I'm not worthy... :eek:

MM
06-16-2010, 09:24 AM
Peter, while I wholeheartedly agree that there's a ton of good stuff in Ellis' book(s), I think your articles here are like the legendary pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You have covered both quantity and quality of information that is invaluable. Like Stan Pranin and Ellis Amdur, I supported them by buying products. I only wish there was some way to support the work you have done besides my continual best wishes and thanks.

Mark

Don_Modesto
06-16-2010, 01:08 PM
Peter, while I wholeheartedly agree that there's a ton of good stuff in Ellis' book(s), I think your articles here are like the legendary pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You have covered both quantity and quality of information that is invaluable. Like Stan Pranin and Ellis Amdur, I supported them by buying products. I only wish there was some way to support the work you have done besides my continual best wishes and thanks.
Yeah. What he said.

Thomas Campbell
06-16-2010, 02:17 PM
Fantastic read, Peter, and some really good information there. HIPS eviscerated and its various themes and contentions laid out on the sushi counter, pulsing and writhing, for our intellectual delectation.

Thank you, and cheers.

EDIT--sorry for the mangled sushi metaphor . . . live fish are not typically part of the presentation.

Thomas Campbell
06-16-2010, 04:20 PM
Peter Goldsbury wrote:

The reviewer does not give any indication as to why the chapter is weak and I wonder whether one reason might be lack of acquaintance with the complex Japanese cultural milieu in which Ueshiba Morihei operated—and which is rarely discussed in connection with his aikido. As for the alleged contrast between Ueshiba's mystic meanderings and Amdur's own "rejection of aikido as a personal training path", it seems to me that the main object of the book as a whole, is to point to crucial differences between Ueshiba's own training regime—and the concepts he used to present this, and the postwar training regime in Japan, as Amdur himself found it. So I myself am not convinced that the chapter is ‘weak', merely on the basis of the reviewer's comments.

However, the chapter might or might not be ‘weak' for other reasons, one being the rather fragile basis for Amdur's speculations.

Peter,

I can say with some confidence that the particular review you reference would be better referred to, not as a "review," but as "Shallow Impressions from a Fast First Reading"; and further, with even more confidence :D , that the particular reviewer does indeed suffer from "lack of acquaintance with the complex Japanese cultural milieu in which Ueshiba Morihei operated . . . "

Now in the middle of my third reading of HIPS, I still regard the fourth chapter as the weakest of a superb book, but it relates to the primary personal reason for which I read and re-read HIPS, that is, for scattered clues to tangible insights and methods of training internal connection and power. The limited (I prefer "focused" :) ) paradigm from which I operate tends to pay much more attention to discrete, teachable physical exercises connecting body awareness, fascia, and breathing than to second-hand (actually, third-hand) accounts of disparate aspects and traditions of the "complex Japanese cultural milieu" which I freely admit having no real acquaintance with--certainly not enough to judge whether Ueshiba Morihei really understood what he was discoursing about. So my evaluation of the fourth chapter is a little like an atheist rendering a literary critique of the Christian Bible.

However, having put that evaluation out there, I was rewarded with a pointed reminder (gently expressed) of my lack of knowledge about kotodama, etc., and have gotten more curious about the role that misogi practices and related beliefs might have played in Ueshiba's personal cultivation. There are analogous practices and beliefs in traditions of Daoist cultivation that inform the teachings of certain CMA practitioners I've worked with. In particular, with respect to mental imagery, intent, and connecting breath with body through sound, I strongly suspect that there is more to Ueshiba's 天国のマニュアル地球 (Tengoku no manyuaru chikyū--don't blame me, blame Google) than is dreamt of in my feet-firmly-in-the-mud empiric philosophy.

A little learnin' is a befuddling thing.

niall
06-16-2010, 04:41 PM
Thanlk you, Peter. That is a formidable review.

If I have understood you correctly it looks like the conclusion is that Ellis Amdur has bought into the whole IS thesis. He doesn't seem to be writing as an aikidoka - whether that is a flaw or an advantage is a different question. Outliers is a cool word but I think it is our job as teachers to teach aikido in such a way that outliers shouldn't really be necessary. That's one of the points of our own journeys after all. To do the work so that our students don't have to.

And who would say to Saotome Sensei, say, or Tamura Sensei - to take two great teachers at random - that what they are teaching isn't adequate for an understanding of aikido.

Maybe I should read the book! But thanks again for your scholarly analysis, Peter.

Peter Goldsbury
06-16-2010, 05:47 PM
Peter Goldsbury wrote:

Peter,

I can say with some confidence that the particular review you reference would be better referred to, not as a "review," but as "Shallow Impressions from a Fast First Reading"; and further, with even more confidence :D , that the particular reviewer does indeed suffer from "lack of acquaintance with the complex Japanese cultural milieu in which Ueshiba Morihei operated . . . "

Now in the middle of my third reading of HIPS, I still regard the fourth chapter as the weakest of a superb book, but it relates to the primary personal reason for which I read and re-read HIPS, that is, for scattered clues to tangible insights and methods of training internal connection and power. The limited (I prefer "focused" :) ) paradigm from which I operate tends to pay much more attention to discrete, teachable physical exercises connecting body awareness, fascia, and breathing than to second-hand (actually, third-hand) accounts of disparate aspects and traditions of the "complex Japanese cultural milieu" which I freely admit having no real acquaintance with--certainly not enough to judge whether Ueshiba Morihei really understood what he was discoursing about. So my evaluation of the fourth chapter is a little like an atheist rendering a literary critique of the Christian Bible.

However, having put that evaluation out there, I was rewarded with a pointed reminder (gently expressed) of my lack of knowledge about kotodama, etc., and have gotten more curious about the role that misogi practices and related beliefs might have played in Ueshiba's personal cultivation. There are analogous practices and beliefs in traditions of Daoist cultivation that inform the teachings of certain CMA practitioners I've worked with. In particular, with respect to mental imagery, intent, and connecting breath with body through sound, I strongly suspect that there is more to Ueshiba's 天国のマニュアル地球 (Tengoku no manyuaru chikyū--don't blame me, blame Google) than is dreamt of in my feet-firmly-in-the-mud empiric philosophy.

A little learnin' is a befuddling thing.

Hello Thomas,

I was hoping that the latest translation of Takemusu Aiki would be a proper translation, in the classical tradition, with adequate annotations of the entire work. Alas, this has not happened and, as I suggested, what we have is Ueshiba-lite, which might be quite useful for quite a few people, but will be of little use to those who want to know what he actually stated, explained as far as possible in a contemporary cultural context.

"Mental imagery, intent and connecting breath with body through sound" deserves special treatment and Ellis does not discuss this very much in HIPS (and in this respect I was brought up in the Anglo-Saxon philosophical tradition, with its emphasis on language analysis). The fourth chapter is really the only place.

Best wishes,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
06-16-2010, 06:15 PM
Hello Niall,

A few comments.

Thank you, Peter. That is a formidable review.

If I have understood you correctly it looks like the conclusion is that Ellis Amdur has bought into the whole IS thesis. He doesn't seem to be writing as an aikidoka - whether that is a flaw or an advantage is a different question.
PAG. I think Ellis himself will post here and join the discussion. He usually does. He spent a few years in Japan and trained for some of this time at the Hombu. However, he acquired some expertise in a few other arts, besides aikido. The book is a presentation / distillation of a whole range of issues previously discussed in Aikido Journal blogs, which I am not sure are still available to read.

Outliers is a cool word but I think it is our job as teachers to teach aikido in such a way that outliers shouldn't really be necessary. That's one of the points of our own journeys after all. To do the work so that our students don't have to.
PAG. Well, I think that this was one of Gladwell's aims in writing his book--to explain what outliers really were, so that there could be many more of them. However, putting in the training hours required is utterly necessary, for both teachers and students.

And who would say to Saotome Sensei, say, or Tamura Sensei - to take two great teachers at random - that what they are teaching isn't adequate for an understanding of aikido.

Maybe I should read the book! But thanks again for your scholarly analysis, Peter.
PAG. I think one of the issues raised by Ellis is whether any postwar teaching is adequate for the aikido that Ueshiba himself practised.

Best wishes,

PAG

Ellis Amdur
06-16-2010, 09:08 PM
Well, hello!
I will take various points, both in Peter's essay, and also in some of the responses - not all in one email!
1. My credentials. I trained a total of 5 years of aikido - approximately 5 hours a day, for that period, probably 300 days a year. Short of mastery, by Gladwell's lights - but still, 7500 hours. As Peter says at the end of his essay, mastery of "what" is a question - my skill, whatever it is/was, was in modern, postwar aikido. My main specialty is Araki-ryu torite kogusoku and Toda-ha Buko-ryu, both of which I've practiced for appr. 35 years. I have had brief periods (1-3 years) training in orthodox judo, muay thai, xingyi and t'ai chi. For the last several years, I've been putting a couple hours a day in focused training in internal skills training, separate from any martial arts system. (although the training is systemic, it is not x-ch'uan or x-ryu). Among other activities was a several year stint retooling the Itten Dojo's aikido program from a so-called aikijutsu system based on my ideas (pre any "aiki" training) on what the most effective use of the body within the aikido form would be. (Itten has since gone on to training in Itto-ryu kenjutsu and incorporating IT training within the aikido program).
2. Re the disappointment that I was not more specific or detailed on how to train: I only write, in detail, on what I personally have expertise. On a 1-10 scale, I'm a 1.5 on the aiki scale, so to speak, so I will not waste time going beyond what I know. Given that there are experts posting on this website (OK, maybe 5's or 6's on the ten scale, I don't know, and I don't care to argue), why would I write on something that I know "about," but can't do? I set myself the task of pointing out what was missing, trying to assemble evidence to prove that it existed, and where one might find it. (perhaps my timing was off - I should have published 1/2 decade ago.).
3. Not too many people are interested. I've sold about 800 copies.
4. Never felt Mr. Tamura. I have taken a lot of ukemi from most of the major post war Aikikai shihan, however, and none of them showed me, physically, any evidence that they had the high level of "aiki" that Ueshiba, that Takeda, that Shioda, for three examples, reportedly possessed. Some, such as Mr. Tada, were remarkable. Others were disappointments. I discuss in my last chapter how wonderful aikido without IT can be. Just as ballet. Or any physical endeavor. But that's different from the HIPS conundrum.
Unified Field Theory
1. It is my theory, perhaps not voiced clearly enough, that Takeda and Ueshiba were remarkable because of all that had been lost. They would have been great in any era, but even 75 years earlier, they would surely have had a number of peers. There are too many stories of identical abilities among many greats. Such individuals were never common - one requires both the hours of training and the proper instruction.
2. In short, I believe Takeda received the basics of "aiki" training from his father, by way of instruction his father received from Kanenori Dengoro. There are certainly very sophisticated breathing exercises in Jikishin Kage-ryu. Hozoin-ryu (also learned from father), use the kind of spear techniques that require internal power to do effectively. Takeda, perhaps, had other tutors - but there's no evidence whatsoever that any of his primary sword teachers had aiki skills. One thing I have found is that when one learns an internal skill, it can become, with proper training and attention, applicable "elsewhere." For example, I've been doing a LOT of what is called "spear shaking." It has revolutionized my Araki-ryu and Buko-ryu technique, without changing the form at all. On his much much higher level, I believe Takeda (I did write this somewhere in the book), developed a universal "gokui," the ability to exert this aiki skill in whatever he did. It is his achievement. He already, I believe, evidence these skills in adolescence (I'm not going to rewrite the book here - just noting it's in the book).
This is not easy to universalize these skills. I have an example. A friend was trying to show me a very basic training exercise - which entailed moving from the hara, rather than twisting the hips. I could not do it. If I was told I would lose my mortgage if I didn't do it, I would have lost the house. He gave up on me. I gave up on me. Five minutes later, another friend asked to see me do the basic suburi of Araki-ryu kenjutsu. I did, and the first friend turned around and cracked up - what I was doing with the sword was exactly what he was trying to show me elsewhere. One of the marks of Takeda's greatness is he was not "state specific" (of course, all of this is by account). He had what the alchemists called the "philosopher's stone" - the universal solvent, the catalyst that turns whatever it touches into "gold."
Anyway, that's my point regarding Takeda Sokaku and weapons. I did not find a specific teacher, except at once remove. Kanenori Dengoro through his father, Sokichi, and then he made it bloom through everything he learned subsequently.
OK, one final point on Saigo Tanomo. (I must thank everyone for not revealing, over the months, my punchline in that last afterwords in the book - but enough people have read it so. . .). I noted that the Hoshina clan were a) of Chinese descent, and b) family lore described a family style of fighting which used a sword with a broader blade, sounding Chinese. I noted that maybe, just maybe, there was a family art, transmitted from China through the Hoshina family, and maybe, after all, Takeda did learn something special from Saigo Tanomo. I put this out there, from an anecdotal account from someone who had a member of the family as a houseguest. Perhaps some avid researcher will do the digging.
Remember, too, my last appendix - essentially signposts to flesh out, by research, many of the speculative (plausible) theories I raised.
I will respond to other points Peter raises in his wonderful (again, I'm honored to receive such attention) review. But here, a response to issue on credentials and Takeda.

Best
Ellis Amdur

niall
06-16-2010, 09:22 PM
Hi Ellis - I hope you didn't read that as questioning your credentials. I was talking about the perspective the book was written from (without having read it yet - just from reading Peter's review).

An aside on the actual word outliers from today's International Herald Tribune:

"The executives of the other companies asserted Tuesday that they believed BP was an outlier, cutting corners to save time and money in ways that they would not tolerate."

So it can have negative connotations!

Ellis Amdur
06-16-2010, 09:24 PM
Niall - No worries - questioning has two nuances. "Who the hell are you?" as opposed to "Who are you?" I took it the second way.
Best
Ellis

amand
06-17-2010, 03:25 PM
Well, hello!

OK, one final point on Saigo Tanomo. (I must thank everyone for not revealing, over the months, my punchline in that last afterwords in the book - but enough people have read it so. . .). I noted that the Hoshina clan were a) of Chinese descent, and b) family lore described a family style of fighting which used a sword with a broader blade, sounding Chinese. I noted that maybe, just maybe, there was a family art, transmitted from China through the Hoshina family, and maybe, after all, Takeda did learn something special from Saigo Tanomo. I put this out there, from an anecdotal account from someone who had a member of the family as a houseguest. Perhaps some avid researcher will do the digging.
Remember, too, my last appendix - essentially signposts to flesh out, by research, many of the speculative (plausible) theories I raised.
I will respond to other points Peter raises in his wonderful (again, I'm honored to receive such attention) review. But here, a response to issue on credentials and Takeda.

Best
Ellis Amdur

Saigo family was distinguished family at least since Muromachi era.I think its hard to say Saigo was chinese descent.
and Sagawa denied Saigo tanomo got it(Aiki) ...by judging from the picture.
he thinks Aiki and most of Daito ryu waza were invented by Takeda sokaku.

Btw,by reading TP, Sagawa seems to deny Aiki is internal power.
what do you think about it?

Ellis Amdur
06-17-2010, 03:37 PM
Amand - I'm going to guess that you haven't read my book. If I'm wrong, my apologies. I cover all of this - including Sagawa's opinion and others as well - in considerable detail, including the evidence that the Saigo family was of Chinese descent (as concubines to the Tokugawa, through the female line).

Just a general request here from my end - and perhaps Peter's as well - I do not want to rewrite the book here. I doubt Peter wants to go through the last 17 chapters of TIE to answer questions previously answered. Here, my discussion points will be a 3rd stage, a response to what Peter (and others) have responded to in my writing. In short, remember, this is a discussion on TIE 18, not on HIPS. For the latter, people are certainly welcome to reopen some of the many threads that are on this cite from appr. one year ago. I'll be happy to respond to "base-line" questions of my work there - after the poster has read the book.

Peter Goldsbury
06-17-2010, 04:24 PM
Hello Niall,

Absolutely. Here are the big (20 volume) Oxford English Dictionary definitions.

------------------------------
"ˈoutˌlier

[out- 8.]

1. a.1.a One who lies (i.e. sleeps or lodges) out, i.e. in the open air, or away from a place with which he is connected by business or otherwise.

1676 D'Urfey Mad. Fickle ii. i. (1677) 11 Out-liers, comers, and goers. 1705 Stanhope Paraphr. III. 201 He dispatches another Message to the Highways and Hedges, to fetch in all the Outlyers. a 1742 Bentley Lett. 59 (R.) The party‥sent messengers to all their outliers within twenty miles of Cambridge to come to their election. 1866 N. & Q. 19 May 421/1 Outliers are soldiers (generally married men) who, when there is not sufficient barrack accommodation, receive an allowance‥and provide themselves with lodgings.

b.1.b One that lies outside the pale, an outsider.

1690 D'Urfey Collin's Walk A vij b, Every worthy and true English Protestant of the Establish'd Church (for I have no hopes of the Outlyers). 1826 Lamb Lett., to Bernard Barton 147, I do not know how friends will relish it, but we outlyers, honorary friends, like it very well.

c.1.c An animal that lies outside the house, fold, or park; esp. an outlying deer.

a 1658 Cleveland Gen. Poems etc. (1677) 157 It is but Trifling sport for you to pull down an Out-lyer, unless you leap the Pale and let slip at the Herd. 1892 Ainslie Land of Burns 37 (E.D.D.) It wauken'd burdies frae the bough, An' outlyers frae their lair. 1939 Joyce Finnegans Wake 97 From his holt‥the outlier, a white noelan‥, led bayers the run. 1976 Abingdon Herald 25 Nov. 7/2 Another outlier found near Sparsholt went through Sparsholt Copse, across to the Spinneys again, and back to Westcot. 1977 Field 13 Jan. 52/1 Hounds found an outlier at the back of Alexton village and hunted him past the hall.

2. a.2.a ‘A stone not taken from a quarry, but lying out in the field in a detached state' (Jam.); a boulder. Also †outlair. Sc.

1610 Burgh Rec. Aberdeen (Spalding Club) II. 300 The keaping stane to be of outlairis, frie wark, and boulted with irne. 1807 J. Hall Trav. Scot. II. 333 There is, in the parish of Ordiquhill, a large outlier of lime stone some tons weight, and no lime-rock to be found near it. 1846 Wright Ess. Mid. Ages II. xvii. 210 On a black moor called Monstone Edge, is a huge moor-stone or outlier. 1955 A. Thom in Jrnl. R. Statistical Soc. A. CXVIII. 275 Many of the circles have one or more outliers, i.e. single upright stones outside the ring. Ibid. 283 Why not also include Little Meg as an outlier to the circle at Long Meg and her Daughters?

b.2.b Geol. A portion or mass of a geological formation lying in situ at a distance from the main body to which it originally belonged, the intervening part having been removed by denudation.

1833 Lyell Princ. Geol. III. Gloss. 76 When a portion of a stratum occurs at some distance detached from the general mass‥some practical mineral surveyors call it an outlier, and the term is adopted in geological language. 1854 H. Miller Sch. & Schm. viii. (1857) 160 There lies in the Firth beyond, an outlier of the Lias. 1889 J. Croll Stellar Evolution 55 Occasional outliers of conglomerate on the Highland side of the fault.

c.2.c generally. An outlying portion or member of anything, detached from the main mass, body, or system to which it belongs. Also attrib.

1849 Ruskin Sev. Lamps ii. 54 Interrupted‥by great mountain outliers, isolated or branching from the central chain. 1854 R. G. Latham Races of Russia 39 Outlyers from the neighbouring Government of Esthonia. 1881 G. Allen Vignettes fr. Natures, Fall of the Year, Australia remains an isolated outlier of Asia to the present day. 1885 R. F. Burton tr. Arabian Nights' Entertainments V. 177 They took leave of him and departing to the outliers of the city, flew‥to their several abodes. 1926 [see Hattic a.]. 1928 Library Assoc. Rec. Dec. 244 The Central Library has wisely recruited several of the larger public libraries‥to act as outlier libraries. 1961 T. Landau Encycl. Librarianship (ed. 2) 259/2 Its ‘Outlier' libraries, which lend their specialized books and periodicals on the N.C.L.'s request when other resources fail, now number 281. 1973 Computers & Humanities VII. 136 What‥differentiates ‘La Comtesse d'Escarbagnas', at the top of the diagram, from the remaining plays? What is special about an outlier such as ‘Dom Garcie'? 1977 Jrnl. R. Soc. Arts CXXV. 269/2 The Library is an ‘outlier' library of the British Library.

3.3 Fishing. A set-line, out-line. U.S.

______________________________

Additions 1993

Add: [2.] d.2.d Statistics. An observation whose value lies outside the set of values considered likely according to some hypothesis (usu. one based on other observations); an isolated point. Also transf.

1907 Biometrika V. 312 The ‘exceptionals'‥are mostly ‘outliers' in the tables of pairs of distributions considered. Ibid. XXVIII. 312 (in figure) Outliers in samples of 10 & 15. Ibid. 317 Even when there are obvious outliers, the process may never get started at all. 1950 Ann. Math. Statistics XXI. 38 A natural statistic to use for testing an ‘outlier' is the difference between such an extreme observation and the sample mean. 1960 Technometrics Feb. 1 At the 1959 meetings of the American Statistical Association held in Washington D.C., Messrs. F.J. Anscombe and C. Daniel presented papers on the detection and rejection of ‘outliers', that is, observations thought to be maverick or unusual. 1973 Computers & Humanities VII. 136 What‥differentiates ‘La Comtesse d'Escarbagnas', at the top of the diagram, from the remaining plays? What is special about an outlier such as ‘Dom Garcie'? 1987 K. A. Rubinson Chem. Anal. iv. 132 The validity of outliers can be tested by using statistical methods."
------------------------------

The CD-ROM version of the OED is an excellent working tool and Oxford have just brought out a 2-volume historical thesaurus.

Best wishes,

PAG


An aside on the actual word outliers from today's International Herald Tribune:

"The executives of the other companies asserted Tuesday that they believed BP was an outlier, cutting corners to save time and money in ways that they would not tolerate."

So it can have negative connotations!

Peter Goldsbury
06-17-2010, 04:49 PM
Amand - I'm going to guess that you haven't read my book. If I'm wrong, my apologies. I cover all of this - including Sagawa's opinion and others as well - in considerable detail, including the evidence that the Saigo family was of Chinese descent (as concubines to the Tokugawa, through the female line).

Just a general request here from my end - and perhaps Peter's as well - I do not want to rewrite the book here. I doubt Peter wants to go through the last 17 chapters of TIE to answer questions previously answered. Here, my discussion points will be a 3rd stage, a response to what Peter (and others) have responded to in my writing. In short, remember, this is a discussion on TIE 18, not on HIPS. For the latter, people are certainly welcome to reopen some of the many threads that are on this cite from appr. one year ago. I'll be happy to respond to "base-line" questions of my work there - after the poster has read the book.

Hello Amand,

Yes. The Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation (TIE) columns are an attempt to write an extended intellectual / philosophical / cultural history of Ueshiba and aikido: the major aim is to place Ueshiba as firmly as possible in the context of the time in which he lived.

Somewhere along the line, I learned about Ellis's book. In fact, I read an earlier pre-publication draft and have read the published book about 20 times. (In fact, my early copy is so well-thumbed that I am going to have to obtain another one.) Since there is so much common here with my own researches, I decided that the book needed a detailed review, which has appeared specifically in the last three TIE columns. For the issues raised by Ellis need(ed) a detailed and extended discussion, of wider scope than offered in usual Internet blogs or forums.

Future columns, also, will deal in passing with issues raised in the book.

Best wishes,

PAG

Keith Larman
06-17-2010, 04:50 PM
Just fwiw. My background (for 17 years anyway) was statistics in a human performance research environment. I've read Gladwell's book and although I have a few issues with his work, overall I found it a fun read. He is using the term "outliers" the way we used it in statistics. There is no connotation of "good" or "bad". Those are labels that depend on some other value judgement or set of criteria. An outlier is simply some datapoint that falls well outside the predicted/expected results. That guy who screws up the grading curve in class. It isn't an issue of "good" or "bad", simply being far outside predicted/expected range. They are a source of constant pain and frustration for statisticians because they can wreak havoc with correlations and studies due to their extremity. But you run great risk in ignoring outliers as the existence of outlying data is often a signal of another unidentified factor.

Just fwiw. "Outlier" does not imply any sort of value judgement. It is just an expression of a piece of data that doesn't "fit".

niall
06-17-2010, 10:00 PM
Thank you Keith and thank you Peter for clarifying that definition. Great dictionary.

Naturally a word can have positive or negative values depending on how it is used (and who uses it). In that BP quote they are using outlier like ronin or lone wolf pejoratively. But of course for some people a ronin or lone wolf might be something to admire.

So someone who thinks we need to supplement our aikido with other training might consider the word outlier (in this budo context) to be positive.

But someone who believes ni to wo oumono wa ito wo mo ezu - 二兎を追うものは一兎をも得ず - if you chase two rabbits you end up not catching even one - might think the word outlier itself is negative.

Keith Larman
06-17-2010, 11:57 PM
Also, from a performance standpoint, in most any endeavor there are almost always high performing outliers. And we tend to define the endeavor by those outliers. So all the talk about how we all train to become "like" someone like Ueshiba or Takeda or Shioda or Tohei or (fill in your fave) totally ignores the reality that they were themselves outliers in a strict sense and the rest of us likely, well, aren't. And something like Aikido that morphed into a large, amorphous blob with the intent of being spread worldwide... well, it was inevitable that the vast majority practicing, training and for that matter eventually teaching wouldn't themselves be outliers of the degree of those original people. Gaining widespread popularity doesn't tend to increase the number of high performance outliers as they're often self-selecting by going into those areas where they perform well. Increasing the general practice of the endeavor usually just means the percentage of high performing outliers drops. I can think of any number of Nietzsche quotes about democracy that make the point... ;)

Not to say we shouldn't pursue those things, but few realize the degree of commitment, time and "blood, sweat and tears" that are required to get to that point. And while I have a lot of nits about his arguments, that's probably the best point to take from Gladwell's book. Time for a gut check... :uch:

DH
06-18-2010, 08:18 AM
Outliers is an interesting concept. I think Keith is correct in reminding us that the people who reached that degree of accomplishment were outliers themselves. While there are some "traditionalists" who go on and on about loyalty and such, it is worth considering that the men under discussion here, Takeda, Sagawa and Ueshiba. trained mostly on their own. Each was noted for comments like "I personally developed past" (insert name) "I discovered" such and such "My aiki is different than"....
Each was a trail blazer, each was contentious in their own way, stubborn, and very much fit the model of individual genius, where the work led them down their own twisting paths. Interestingly enough some would call that research and turning down different paths as "flighty." Personally, I have never considered a fox hound on a trail turning left and right and leaving the trail all together, along with the followers behind, as "flighty."
He was the only one who never lost site of the goal.

For that reason, I don't think it is possible to become that good within a system in the first place-that is if you a know a system that can produce these men. Note again, in the interview quoted in Peter's article that, Ueshiba (Just like Takeda, Sagawa, and many of the historical figures before them) was known for going off and training solo. Where did a system support those discoveries?

When it comes to weapons and aiki, I believe most of these discussions are off-base when it comes to what that means and how to do it; traditional or modern, no matter. Most discussions come down to power and technique, or evasion in movement (which is a non starter and misses the mark all together). When it comes to power, these men were intimate with it and its uses in ways most martial artists will never achieve or even hope for, they openly discussed power. Why did they ignore it many discussions of weapons and revert to aiki?

Anyway, in regards to their training, the requirements that would support that degree of accomplishment are not in a system, are not developed in any group setting, and are not expressed in any Japanese environment I can think of that would welcome it.
Example: How would a kyu ranked person, who has the skills that Takeda, Sagawa and Ueshiba were talking about, work in a Shihan's own dojo, when the reality is they are better than the Shihan? Result...outlier.

I don't think "outliers" in the martial arts is an accurate use of the term. Martial arts exist as systems; you rate or average out people within systems. Outliers have always had a tendency to create systems of their own; either be choice or by default they simply don't "fit-in" to a system, and usually garner support of their own as they wander off the trail..... in pursuit of the fox.
Regards
Dan

Ellis Amdur
06-18-2010, 09:47 AM
One thing I would disagree with is that only outliers, in the sense of rebels like Takeda or Ueshiba can achieve mastery, although looking at Japanese matial arts from a modern perspective, it's understandable that it appears that way.
One problem we have is that koryu, itself, is an anomaly. Sort of like "classical music." In Beethoven's heyday, each and every classical musician was an "outlier" in the sense that what they composed was new - and, improvisation was part of what was expected. There is a wonderful account of Hummel (a wonderful composer overshadowed by Beethoven) at a party. A brass band happened to march past the window, bleating out a tune, and Hummel improved waltzes, for hours, on that single tune, as the young people danced the night away. The last great musician of this type, Earl Wild (http://www.earlwild.com/), just died in January.
Similarly, when it wasn't "koryu," but 'living ryu," there was a) a place for improvisation within a ryu and a break-out failsafe if one improvised beyond the bounds of the ryu b) Properly executed, an authentic ryu had a built-in mechanism towards mastery within it. For me, one of the most remarkable things about martial ryu is there is, within one, an "outlier formula."
Best
Ellis Amdur

jxa127
06-18-2010, 10:14 AM
Also, from a performance standpoint, in most any endeavor there are almost always high performing outliers. And we tend to define the endeavor by those outliers. So all the talk about how we all train to become "like" someone like Ueshiba or Takeda or Shioda or Tohei or (fill in your fave) totally ignores the reality that they were themselves outliers in a strict sense and the rest of us likely, well, aren't.


Keith,

You make some excellent points. For me, Peter's TIE series, combined with Ellis's and Stan Prannin's writings have engendered a bit of a crisis for me in my training.

Basically, when I started training in the late '90s, I bought into the "watered down translations meant for Western audiences" of O'Sensei's discourses, accepting them as accurate accounts of what O'Sensei believed. I also saw them as guideposts to my training so that I could end up with power and skill like O'Sensei's.

My impression from this and previous TIE articles is that O'Sensei's cultural context and religious beliefs were exceptionally important in motivating his training and development of aikido, but were not the mechanisms for actually developing his martial skill. In other words, one could divorce the "spiritual" stuff from the body skills stuff and (with enough practice) become a powerful aikidoka.

And yet, the so-called spiritual context of modern aikido is so intrinsic to how it is presented, taught, and practiced in mainline aikido organizations that it would be hard to define aikido without that context.

Yet again, the Western understanding of that spiritual context (at least as I've experienced it and read about it), is based on a very incomplete understanding of O'Sensei's discourses as well as later writings by his son that were meant for larger audiences.

So, if we're not really understanding what O'Sensei was saying, and we're not really developing the internal skills (aiki) that O'Sensei said was so important, and if most of us are not able to dedicate the amount of time to solo training that seems to be required, are we actually doing aikido?

I don't know.

MM
06-18-2010, 11:23 AM
So, if we're not really understanding what O'Sensei was saying, and we're not really developing the internal skills (aiki) that O'Sensei said was so important, and if most of us are not able to dedicate the amount of time to solo training that seems to be required, are we actually doing aikido?

I don't know.

IMO, the answer is:

No ... and ... yes.

Ueshiba Kisshomaru and others who stood beside him changed aspects of aikido for a number of reasons, World War II being a major one. Within that change, aikido went worldwide. And with that, the definition of "aiki" slowly changed.

Aikido became the Hydra of legend. One immortal head (the Ueshiba family), two heads sprouting where one was cut off (splits among shihan), poisonous gas (misdirected statements about the founder's history), and it guards the Underworld (Ueshiba Morihei's aikido).

Today, that Hydra is alive and well with hundreds of heads. There is no Hercules to kill it for the Hydra has done well. There are only Iolaus' to point the way to get around the Hydra and find that which it guards.

It is here, where the Iolaus' have pointed that some have found the way back to the Underworld, or to Ueshiba Morihei's aikido. It is noteworthy to mention that the Hydra is also a part of the Underworld and that without it, finding the path to the Underworld would be a much harder task.

"Are we actually doing aikido"?

No, most are not training in the aikido that Ueshiba Morihei lived, but some are determined to bring it back.

and

Yes, most are training in aikido as exemplified by Ueshiba Kisshomaru, Tohei Koichi, etc. Shown and trained by tens of millions of people, there is nothing wrong with this aikido.

If you think about it, aikido has become the martial art for the masses and the outliers.

Keith Larman
06-18-2010, 11:32 AM
One thing I would disagree with is that only outliers, in the sense of rebels like Takeda or Ueshiba can achieve mastery, although looking at Japanese matial arts from a modern perspective, it's understandable that it appears that way.
Ellis Amdur

Oh, certainly, don't disagree with that at all. The point is that the most who achieve mastery tend to be outliers in some strict sense because mastery is usually something of great difficulty in any non-trivial task. Most of us simply won't devote the sweat equity to get there. Lord knows I have people ask me all the time to learn sword polishing, even at the relatively low level at which I work. But once they see how difficult/boring/repetitive/no hookers/no groupies/etc. it is, they tend to fade away and never come back. Being an outlier in some respect often gives a person a path by which to get there. Maybe it is a personal attribute, a motivation, certain opportunities that are unique. But then again, sometimes it is just someone being willing to put in that sweat equity and get there.

So all hope is not lost. But the rather prosaic idea of periodic training when you have time giving you the ability to transcend and eventually become just as good as someone who spends a lifetime of devoted time practicing... Not the same. And then there are those who can devote a lifetime of hard practice and never get there no matter how hard they work.

Or as one of my old very serious and very scientific stats colleagues used to say, sometimes success is about a combination of grit, determination, hard work and the planets being in the right alignment... It would be nice if reality was purely democratic and hard work is all it takes. However, unfortunately life doesn't always work out that way.

I read the threads about the Seattle Cop incident and some of what I consider grossly naive posts about how Aikido could have done this or that. That sort of thinking, IMHO, is symptomatic of the sort of fluffy dumbing down of the complexity of these things.

All that said... Gotta get out the door so I can have time for my daily practice with my suburito. Gotta keep feeding my own delusions of grandeur. ;)

jxa127
06-18-2010, 11:53 AM
"Are we actually doing aikido"?

No, most are not training in the aikido that Ueshiba Morihei lived, but some are determined to bring it back.

and

Yes, most are training in aikido as exemplified by Ueshiba Kisshomaru, Tohei Koichi, etc. Shown and trained by tens of millions of people, there is nothing wrong with this aikido.

If you think about it, aikido has become the martial art for the masses and the outliers.

Cool answer, Mark, and I particularly like your Hydra analogy.

Still, your answer is so ambiguous that I can't help but post a couple of follow-ups: if O'Sensei fought Bruce Lee, who would win? Can I use aikido to win a fight? Can a katana really cut through a car? :D

I'm kidding, but (I hope) still making a little bit of a point: practically speaking, what does it mean to study aikido, and what can you do with it?

I think the answer used to be "THIS is aikido (the way of harmony), and THIS is how you do it." In many ways like a parent or teacher with a young child. Like a child, I had a simple faith that I was doing O'Sensei's aikido. Ten years ago, there seemed to be a broad consensus in books by K. Ueshiba or other shihan, articles on the web, and training at my dojo and at seminars. There were cracks, to be sure (remember the heated debates about cross-training or offering resistance as uke?), but it seemed pretty easy to grasp the essence of aikido.

Now the answer seems to be "I don't know, you figure it out for yourself," which is a much more mature way of looking at things. As you say, one or two of the fingers point back to O'Sensei but there is significant debate on what O'Sensei was actually doing and even whether or not we really want to emulate him.

Most intriguing for me is Peter's discussion of how the current doshu is treating weapons in aikido, and how weapons work was essential to O'Sensei's own training, but not part of his instruction to his students.

I guess the essential question in all of this is whether or not it is possible to get as good as O'Sensei without exactly replicating his own training and experiences.

To put it another way, can a person who pioneered a new skill -- any skill: woodworking, marksmanship, computer programming, whatever -- after going through all the trial and error, distill those skills into core principles that can be taught so that the student is as good as the teacher?

I'm beginning to suspect that the answer is no. The core principles can sometimes be a shortcut, but each student still needs to have his or her own dead ends and false starts to get really good.

Erick Mead
06-18-2010, 03:20 PM
Keith,

You make some excellent points. For me, Peter's TIE series, combined with Ellis's and Stan Prannin's writings have engendered a bit of a crisis for me in my training.

Basically, when I started training in the late '90s, I bought into the "watered down translations meant for Western audiences" of O'Sensei's discourses, accepting them as accurate accounts of what O'Sensei believed. I also saw them as guideposts to my training so that I could end up with power and skill like O'Sensei's.

My impression from this and previous TIE articles is that O'Sensei's cultural context and religious beliefs were exceptionally important in motivating his training and development of aikido, but were not the mechanisms for actually developing his martial skill.
...
Yet again, the Western understanding of that spiritual context (at least as I've experienced it and read about it), is based on a very incomplete understanding of O'Sensei's discourses as well as later writings by his son that were meant for larger audiences.

So, if we're not really understanding what O'Sensei was saying, and we're not really developing the internal skills (aiki) that O'Sensei said was so important, and if most of us are not able to dedicate the amount of time to solo training that seems to be required, are we actually doing aikido? I do not believe it is necessary (or even possible) to have a "complete" understanding of O Sensei's discourses. I find that it is necessary to have simply a concrete understanding of those discourses. We westerners actually have a hard time with this, our capacity for abstraction -- in conception, emotion, and reason -- distinguishes us and is source of much great achievement in our own right, but can be hard to set aside, or even to note when we do it.

O Sensei cannot be understood conceptually; he did not speak conceptually, and he did not teach conceptually,. He spoke as he taught -- concretely, of real things, real acts and real relationships. This is the nature of Japanese spiritual (and therefore conceptual) understanding -- it never severs the concept embodied in the thing from it -- there is no kami without mono and no mono without kami .

The principle is not expressed apart from its particular embodiment -- not by analogy or metaphor -- that is Western way of seeing -- but by relation and operation in actual observation. Shinto does not exist apart from its acts of worship -- the interior and the exterior are never apart from one another -- even (and perhaps most especially) when they directly conflict (honne/tatemae). Understanding in concrete physical terms is not apart from understanding in conceptual terms.

There is no honne without tatemae and no tatemae without honne. There is no heaven without earth. No water without fire. No flow without ebb. There is nothing but the close connections of real things moving in their own ways in close relation. Understanding that kind of opposition in direct connection (and distinguishing it from other kinds of opposition of an entirely different feel and nature) is understanding aiki, and thus doing aikido if you strive toward more of it (well or poorly, as may be).

The point of all this is in HOW you should try to take in his discourses -- since that is the most direct source you have of him. He put this stuff in his discourses -- in those concrete terms. Our job -- and I am here to tell you that it can be done, is to see the concrete things he wrote about , observe them and read him again and observe our trainning and that of others and read him again and things will begin to fit and whether you are EVER able to articulate it in any way conceptually or even in a similarly concrete poetic way you will be able to make them occur and to build upon in training, in your own way, because you are not apart from your own ideas of things either, which can be a source of much conflict and of much joy.

That is Aikido and as the history of widely varying transmission shows, it refuses to be nailed down in any given framework, and yet somehow remains of itself -- even most ironically of all to those who have practiced aikido for a relative minority of their long budo experience such as Ellis, yet remain a welcome and valued mainstay of the larger Aikido community, and helping to inform us of our own workigns from outside. Outside is not apart from inside. Even the Dutch Huncle types, too, they have much to contribute -- though in different terms of their own, yet again. ... ;)

I don't care what anyone else says -- O Sensei taught me right, and the opposition is never apart from the joining together. :D

Peter Goldsbury
06-19-2010, 03:19 AM
Most intriguing for me is Peter's discussion of how the current doshu is treating weapons in aikido, and how weapons work was essential to O'Sensei's own training, but not part of his instruction to his students.

Hello Drew,

I never knew O Sensei, but I did know his son Kisshomaru and I do know his grandson Moriteru. (By 'know', I mean something like, 'have a close enough relationship that you can ask uncomfortable questions and discuss difficult issues'. I don't think anyone ever did this with O Sensei.)

Kisshomaru Doshu was always uncomfortable with the term iemoto, but Moriteru has used it more than once in my presence. Unfortunately, there is virtually nothing in English on this subject and the relevant works of Matsunosuke Nishiyama, the Japanese scholar acknowledged to be the expert in this subject, have not been translated.

An interesting question for Ellis, and also for Toby Threadgill, who is also the soke of a koryu, is whether the iemoto concept [which is really an ex post facto explanatory device] is adequate for describing a koryu as a system that allows outliers to appear and flourish.

One of the problems with the transmission of knowledge in aikido, understood as an iemoto system, is that it is bound by the limitations of this system. I do not think Morihei Ueshiba saw iemoto in aikido as bound by the legal structure of the Aikikai, even though he was ultimately responsible for creating this legal structure. With Kisshomaru and his associates, this changed in a subtle way, for the Aikikai became the repository of iemoto truths, even though Kisshomaru never sought to control the older disciples of O Sensei. With the present Doshu and his own associates, this control is being strengthened, sometimes to the discomfiture of the dwindling number of the older disciples of the Founder and Kisshomaru.

I plan to discuss this delicate subject in later columns.

Best wishes,

PAG

Ellis Amdur
06-19-2010, 09:57 AM
In some koryu, the iemoto functions similar to the Emperor of Japan - the center rather than the top. In Tendo-ryu, for example, I've observed every shihan conforming to the movements of the late soke, Mitamura Takeko in group practice, and yet, in their own dojo, hewing to their own individual interpretations. Notable among them - an outlier? or a Cassandra? was Abe Toyoko. It is unclear how the current generation will handle this.
In Toda-ha Buko-ryu, the current soke has given/accepts the shihan as having considerable latitude. In one of the wisest types of leadership, he incorporated some training methods one shihan (me)brought and made them "official." Nitta Suzuyo, the last soke, was the same way.
Katori Shinto-ryu is interresting. In the previous generation, the iemoto/soke allowed a lot of latitude, and I've been told that there were a number of independent centers of TSKSR - and more than one shihan. In the current generation, there is one non-practicing soke and one shihan. Several men have become outliers, so to speak, because they perceived themselves as having no place to shine, and "outlied" themselves. (I am not making a criticism on the politics of that ryu - and whether the current set-up is right or wrong).
The bulk of koryu, until recently, did not have an iemoto - rather, they had "dai" - generations - independent shihan, who could form independent centers. There was a natural centripital force - the curriculum and lineage of the ryu drew people inwards to maintain the essence of the school, and a cetrifugal force - (a creative energy - outlier - to go beyond the confines of the ryu, which resulted in "ha" (sub-groups with their own character) or new ryu.
In ryu with an iemoto, I think the latitude for outliers within a koryu depended, in part, on the "longitude" (the "size and height") of the spirit of the iemoto. In my opinion, Kisshomaru showed considerable size of spirit, in his ability to encompass so many big men within his aegis. This denotes a confidence and security of spirit. Straining a metaphor, as I often do, Morihei was a Patton, but Kisshomaru was an Eisenhower.
ON the one hand, then, an autocractic iemoto may be acting out of weakness - s/he extinguishes the outliers or drives them away so as never to be challenged on the throne. On the other, however, s/he may be aware that there is no one who has either learned the ryu or who can do it justice. What looks like suppression in this latter case is actually protection of the ryu.
Best
Ellis Amdur

niall
06-19-2010, 10:41 AM
I will limit my comment to aikido, Ellis. That's an interesting parallel. But probably like most aikidoka I would consider O Sensei to have a much more prominent role in history. And Kisshomaru Sensei had a gentle academic detachment that recorded history rather than forged it. Caesar and Plutarch, maybe? Or Alexander and Plutarch. But I'll be looking forward to Peter's comments about this in his future columns.

Peter Goldsbury
06-20-2010, 02:19 AM
I will limit my comment to aikido, Ellis. That's an interesting parallel. But probably like most aikidoka I would consider O Sensei to have a much more prominent role in history. And Kisshomaru Sensei had a gentle academic detachment that recorded history rather than forged it. Caesar and Plutarch, maybe? Or Alexander and Plutarch. But I'll be looking forward to Peter's comments about this in his future columns.

Hello Niall,

I take it that by 'forged' you mean something like 'pushed forward and created', rather than 'counterfeited'. I understand that Plutarch intended his lives of Alexander and Caesar to be parallel to each other, which, of course, interfered somewhat with his avowed intentions to be objective and accurate.

Best wishes,

PAG

niall
06-20-2010, 03:24 AM
Hi Peter. Yes, you are right - I was thinking of forging a sword - or a country. Also I wanted to counter Ellis's parallels which seemed a little pedestrian. Instead of trying to find a connected leader and historian (there is the musubi right there) perhaps I should have suggested separate people. How about O Sensei as Kukai? And Kisshomaru Sensei as Saint Bede?! Cheers, Niall

Ellis Amdur
06-21-2010, 01:04 AM
Niall - Perhaps I didn't find a felicitous simile for father and son. Suffice it to say this: I am reading From the Wrong Side: A Paradoxical Approach to Psychology (http://www.amazon.com/Wrong-Side-Paradoxical-Approach-Psychology/dp/0882143573) by Adolf Guggenbuhl-Craig. In particular - "Sons and Daughters of Unusual Fathers."
It lies in the nature of the unusual man to be brutal and ruthless towards his fellow human beings. As a father, he may even suffer from the compulsion to sacrifice his children! (page 45)
Guggenbuhl-Craig is not primarily speaking in concrete terms - he is speaking both mythologically and psychologically. Two myths he cites, however, are Abraham and Issac and Agammemnon and Iphigenia. Focusing on Abraham and Issac is fruitful, here, because there is no more non-descript figure in the Bible than poor Issac. He mostly serves as a link between two great men, Abraham and Jacob. It is very frequent that the sons of unusual men - genius', etc., can never measure up to their fathers, if their father's even have much time for them. I have seen a number of non-entity sons, even failures among the scions of some of the great budoka. There is a 'brutality" or selfishness to Ueshiba, just as there was to Takeda, (who stabbed his son, and disappeared for long periods of time, leaving Tokimune, a lonely teenager to somehow raise his younger siblings, their mother being dead. Remember, too, Kisshomaru recalling that the only time his father praises him was, I believe, when he constructed the modern Honbu Dojo. Remember that his father left him in Tokyo, amidst the fire-bombs, to somehow preserve the dojo, while he retired on his sacred mission to Iwama.
Which leads to my second quote from this essay:
Children of unusual fathers are not completely lost. Should they succeed in surviving their fathers, they have proven that they, too, are "someone."This means that they have not succumbed to being social failures, to having grapple with themselves as shadow existences in chronic depression or to experiencing themselves as completely worthless. Sons, especially, who manage to see their unusual fathers as enriching rather than annihilating, have achieve a level of individuation which, in itself, is most unusual. page 49
Like many, I have given Nidai Doshu short-shrift at times, but both in reading TIE, in considering what he forged from a small sectarian martial art into a worldwide movement - and most of all, considering postwar aikido a triumph of his will over that of his father - I see him as a great man.
That I do not particularly like to do modern aikido, and by my lights, wish for the core body skills of his father is irrelevant. It is similar to me recognizing that Christianity accomplished what Judaism could not, bringing a message to the world for the first time that even the lowliest has value - even though I'd never want to worship in Christian fashion.
That's what I tried to say - poorly - by my prosaic Patton and Eisenhower. Nidai Doshu, too, was a great man - proof of which that he could accept and lead men who were far more skilled and charismatic than he.
Best
Ellis Amdur

Peter Goldsbury
06-21-2010, 06:55 AM
Nidai Doshu, too, was a great man - proof of which that he could accept and lead men who were far more skilled and charismatic than he.
Best
Ellis Amdur

Hello Ellis,

It is the skill and charismatic bit that I an uncertain about. Clearly, by comparison with Takeda and his father, Kisshomaru lacked both. However, I am less sure about a similar comparison with those he led--for he also had both, and in spades. I presume you mean by those he led the Hombu deshi from Tamura Nobuyoshi onwards.

By the way, my new IAF General Secretary and I am planning to interview Tada Sensei and ask the questions that Stan Pranin and others never asked (Tada Sensei has accepted and we have already begun preparations to set up the interview). As you probably know, Tamura Sensei is now very ill, so Tada is really the last of the postwar deshi who had strong links with Morihei Ueshiba.

Best,

PAG

niall
06-21-2010, 11:09 AM
I'm glad I brought up that aside because those are great points about Sons and Daughters of Unusual Fathers, Ellis. O Sensei was free to choose his own way. How free was Kisshomaru Sensei to choose his own life? And how free was the present Doshu? and the next Doshu? In any event Kisshomaru Sensei seemed to accept that mantle of duty selflessly.

As I said I think Kisshomaru Sensei was primarily an academic and an historian. I don't think Kisshomaru Sensei had charisma in the normal sense but he was a sincere likeable man and he generated fierce loyalty and goodwill. Was that loyalty solely because of his father or because of his own efforts and sense of duty? And how much of that loyalty and goodwill was inherited by his son the present Doshu (and how much will be inherited by his grandson)?

Ellis Amdur
06-21-2010, 11:46 AM
1. I think Kisshomaru was different from an academic and historian. (I don't know how much, really, he was of either of those). He was not enormously skilled as an aikido technician, compared to such as Saito Morihiro, Shioda Gozo or Tada Hiroshi, to name only a few.
2. As far as being free - we are all free, and we are not. A man with a different <inborn> character would have met the challenge of a father like Morihei differently. Hell, he could have hooked up with Nanao Sakaki and became an itinerant poet, wandering postwar Japan and fathering children from north to south, then when Gary Snyder hits Japan, the three of them could have smoked bowls of fine marijuana under the stars, declaiming beat verse and tromping the mountains in carefree bliss. But he didn't choose that. He chose the role he was offered, and turned the key on the cage himself.
3. Prewar aikido, under Ueshiba, was not a minor martial art, obviously. There were thousands of practitioners, and it was notably interwoven within the ruling class of Japan. But it would not have survived postwar - or, put it another way - if not for Kisshomaru, Shioda, Tomiki and Tohei would have been three big competing aikidos, with a lot of minor competitors (Hikitzuchi, Saito, etc.), and the family art gone. Maybe that would have been better, or irrelevant in the larger scheme of things. Because we do not see, now, in any of the aikido groups, a third generation of really powerful, brilliant practitioners.
At any rate, Kisshomaru's selective writing of his father's history and interests was conscious, not merely poor history writing. His big tent method of ruling, where all the big guys had a place like planets orbiting around a sun, was also skillfully done - when they spun too far out of orbit, they made their own system, that, for the most part, maintained a relationship that didn't threaten the Aikikai. As Stanley Pranin first wrote, and others have continued, postwar aikido is Kisshomaru's aikido, and whether one finds it to one's taste, it is a remarkable achievement. He pushed his father aside - and that required some real power of his own.
So my estimation of greatness is related to the second quoted paragraph - within the context of the life he "received," he was not destroyed by his father's greatness - and he made his own way. I have, in my mind's eye, a number of "sons of great fathers" in mind who were either complete failures at life, or only succeeded by absolutely rejecting their father's way (Freud's son who became an engineer, for an example of the latter). I will note that in comparison to Kano Risei, another son of a great man, Ueshiba K. shines quite brightly.
Perhaps, after all this, "greatness" isn't the right word. There's something remarkable about the man and his accomplishments, nonetheless.
And back to the things about aikido that I, personally, am most interested - Peter - that's wonderful news about the interview!
Best
Ellis

Peter Goldsbury
06-22-2010, 04:35 AM
As I said I think Kisshomaru Sensei was primarily an academic and an historian. I don't think Kisshomaru Sensei had charisma in the normal sense but he was a sincere likeable man and he generated fierce loyalty and goodwill. Was that loyalty solely because of his father or because of his own efforts and sense of duty? And how much of that loyalty and goodwill was inherited by his son the present Doshu (and how much will be inherited by his grandson)?

Hello Niall,

I plan to begin discussing Kisshomaru Doshu's contribution to aikido from TIE Column 27 onwards. Before that I want to tie up a few more loose ends with O Sensei and attempt to relate him more closely to the intellectual and political currents swirling around Japan from around 1918 to 1945.

I think it is very important to be aware of the fact that all three Ueshibas mentioned, Morihei, Kisshomaru and Moriteru, grew into their roles, which apart from being Doshu--and an iemoto of sorts, contained no built-in storyline.

As for loyalty, I think it was both: from being members of the Ueshiba family, and also from being Kisshomaru and Moriteru. It is quite intriguing--and interesting, to see how differently the two interpret the role of being Doshu.

Best wishes,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
06-23-2010, 07:19 AM
Just fwiw. My background (for 17 years anyway) was statistics in a human performance research environment. I've read Gladwell's book and although I have a few issues with his work, overall I found it a fun read. He is using the term "outliers" the way we used it in statistics. There is no connotation of "good" or "bad". Those are labels that depend on some other value judgement or set of criteria. An outlier is simply some datapoint that falls well outside the predicted/expected results. That guy who screws up the grading curve in class. It isn't an issue of "good" or "bad", simply being far outside predicted/expected range. They are a source of constant pain and frustration for statisticians because they can wreak havoc with correlations and studies due to their extremity. But you run great risk in ignoring outliers as the existence of outlying data is often a signal of another unidentified factor.

Just fwiw. "Outlier" does not imply any sort of value judgement. It is just an expression of a piece of data that doesn't "fit".

Hello Keith,

Your post leads to an observation and a question.

First, the observation. Ellis never used the term Outliers in his book. He used it in a thread somewhere else in Aikiweb. I had not really thought much about the 'mechanics' of genius, but I read the book and realized that the 10,000 hours factor was crucial to aikido.

The strictly statistical use of outliers does not really work in aikido, because there is no objective basis on which to ground the statistical aberration. I do not see how you can talk of outliers in aikido in the absence of clear statistical data about how the 'inliers' actually train.

Thus I am inclined to think that the use of the term in relation to Takeda and Ueshiba is not--cannot be--statistically based.

Secondly, the question. I mentioned in the TIE column that I believed Gladwell had been uncritical about the research of Geert Hofstede. However, I would be interested to hear more about your own reservations about Gladwell's research or putative results.

Best wishes,

PAG

oisin bourke
06-23-2010, 08:48 AM
The Japanese term "meijin" possibly correlates to Gladwell's description of Outlier?

The idea very interesting, but the 10,000 hour thing seems to be more easily correlated to disciplines that operate within well defined parameters,e.g sports. For example, how would one judge that Bob Dylan or Samuel Beckett had put in their hours on the way to becoming "outliers"?

IMO, Japanese Budo in general, and Aikido in particular, exists in a purgatory between "art" and "sport" that defies neat taxonomy.

On a completely different note, has anyone read a book titled:
"When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth" by E.T Barber and P.T Barber?

It explains creation Myths from around the world as being born of the need for pre-literate societies to "encode" and transmit important environmental data to future generations.

The part of the thesis relevant to this discussion is "The Silence Principle" which is something that is known to both speaker and listener is never explicitly mentioned. However, when a society dies, although its stories may survive, vital information has been omitted. Therefore, future researchers must re-interpret these stories, often with erroneous results.

Someone with a good knowledge of Ueshiba's speeches might find it a fruitful read.

niall
06-23-2010, 08:58 AM
Thanks, Peter, I'll look forward to that.

Two small points about the Jigoro Kano succession which Ellis mentioned in passing.

Kodokan presidents:
1st President Jigoro Kano 1882-1938
2nd President Jiro Nango 1938-1946 (nephew of the shihan)
3rd President Risei Kano 1946-1980 (son of the shihan)
4th President Yukimitsu Kano 1980:2009 (grandson of the shihan)
5th President Haruki Uemura 2009- (kudan, World, Olympic and All-Japan Champion)
source: http://judoforum.com/index.php?/topic/21100-successor-of-risei-kano/

Jigoro Kano's son Risei and grandson Yukimitsu were figurehead leaders who weren't supposed to have any technical brilliance. So it would never have occurred to anyone to describe them as not enormously skilled.

Now the Kodokan has gone in the other direction (i.e. outside the direct family line) and the president is a famous and technically skilled judoka.

By the way shihan in judo is a title of respect used exclusively for Jigoro Kano.

Peter Goldsbury
06-23-2010, 10:05 AM
The part of the thesis relevant to this discussion is "The Silence Principle" which is something that is known to both speaker and listener is never explicitly mentioned.

Hello Oisin,

My only direct experience of the 'Silence Principle' was the time when I was called upon to to run a university department.

In this situation, what people did not say was as clear as what people did say. In this connection, have you come across the term sakura in relation to public speaking?

Best wishes,

PAG

oisin bourke
06-23-2010, 09:26 PM
Hello Peter,

I've never heard the term "sakura" used in that context.

In the book I mentioned above, the authors apply this "Silence Principle" to ancient myths. According to them, Creation Myths in particular encode vital information about the movement of the stars that can be transmitted over millennia.

I thought it might be interesting to apply some of these ideas to Morihei's recounting of Japanese Creation Myths.

Walker
06-24-2010, 12:51 PM
In this situation, what people did not say was as clear as what people did say. In this connection, have you come across the term sakura in relation to public speaking?
Very interesting.
From Apple's Japanese Dictionary:
さくら
〔大道商人の〕a decoy, a plant,⦅米俗⦆ a shill; 〔劇場の〕a claqueur,⦅集合的に⦆ a claque; 〔競売の〕a by-bidder
さくらを使う|employ a decoy

oisin bourke
06-24-2010, 02:25 PM
Oh, I forgot to mention that the TIE articles are wonderful!

Peter Goldsbury
06-24-2010, 04:17 PM
I've never heard the term "sakura" used in that context.

Sakura are questions, prepared beforehand by chosen members of an audience, and made to a speaker with a different intention than simply seeking an answer.

Peter Goldsbury
06-25-2010, 03:33 AM
Very interesting.
From Apple's Japanese Dictionary:
さくら
〔大道商人の〕a decoy, a plant,⦅米俗⦆ a shill; 〔劇場の〕a claqueur,⦅集合的に⦆ a claque; 〔競売の〕a by-bidder
さくらを使う|employ a decoy

Hello Doug,

The history of this use is also interesting. I first heard of the term at a meeting in November. We were discussing a lecture to be given by the chief of the Mazda motor company at Hiroshima University. One professor mentioned sakura and I observed that November was not the time of year for cherry-blossom viewing. Everyone laughed and someone explained what sakura were. The questions were planned beforehand by graduate students, who would earnestly praise the speaker's performance and then ask an innocuous question designed to allow the speaker to shine even more brightly.

In the big Kokugo Dai Jiten, the meaning is given as a derivation from cherry-blossom viewing, which are large gatherings of people doing something for free. From there the sense became people being planted to pretend to be spectators at a public spectacle, like a theater show or stalls at a festival, and loudly praise what was on offer, in order that people would pay to see the spectacle, or buy goods from the stalls.

So, while not planted, my review essay is plausibly a sakura, designed to encourage people top buy Ellis's book. Except that I haven't been paid to praise it. :)

PAG

oisin bourke
06-25-2010, 07:06 AM
I am reminded of the long queue that forms every day without fail at my local onigiri stall. The rice balls just aren't that good.

The book above referenced by myself should of course be read in tandem with Ellis Amdur's fine book.

Peter Goldsbury
06-25-2010, 08:30 AM
The part of the thesis relevant to this discussion is "The Silence Principle" which is something that is known to both speaker and listener is never explicitly mentioned. However, when a society dies, although its stories may survive, vital information has been omitted. Therefore, future researchers must re-interpret these stories, often with erroneous results.

Someone with a good knowledge of Ueshiba's speeches might find it a fruitful read.

Hello Oisin,

Have you ever discussed these issues with Iida Sensei?

The only direct connection to the Silence Principle of which I am aware is how Mutsuru Nakazono deals with the myths supposedly recorded in the Takeuchi Documents. I am thinking of Nakazono Sensei's revelations about the Kotodama Principle, discussed in my TIE columns on kotodama. (Actually, of all the TIE columns that have to be revised in preparation for a future book, the kotodama columns are the ones most in need of revision and expansion. There is so much more that needs to be said and this also includes putting O Sensei's discourses in a better context.)

According to Nakazono, the pristine civilization captured in the phrase 'Sumera Mikoto' somehow entered into a conspiracy of silence, in order to hide all traces of their civilization and to allow only 'chosen' individuals, like Nakazono (and for reasons even more unknown) to catch a glimpse--by way of utterly arcane interpretations of a set of scrolls generally thought by some academic to be forgeries.

There is an added twist. Neal Stephenson in his novel Snow Crash refers to Sumera Mikoto and suggests that this refers to the ancient Sumerian culture, in which,he believes, a sort of proto-language was spoken, rather like the ancient, pure, Japanese spoken by the original Yamato race, whose existence was argued for by kokugaku scholars like Kamo no Mabuchi.

There is a very interesting treatment of the Takeuchi documents by Kosaka Wado. He has not, unfortunately, been translated into English.

Best,

PAG

Walker
06-25-2010, 10:57 AM
So, while not planted, my review essay is plausibly a sakura, designed to encourage people top buy Ellis's book. Except that I haven't been paid to praise it. :)

Well, hopefully all of the TIE articles continue to shine brightly like hoshi and do not fall at the height of their beauty like sakura.

However do you write such brilliant things?
(how's that for sakura?) :)

Peter Goldsbury
06-25-2010, 11:57 PM
Well, hopefully all of the TIE articles continue to shine brightly like hoshi and do not fall at the height of their beauty like sakura.

However do you write such brilliant things?
(how's that for sakura?) :)

:o

Peter Goldsbury
06-26-2010, 11:09 PM
Moving away from sakura, I am curious to know whether anyone else has seen The Heart of Aikido, the new translation of parts of Takemusu Aiki by John Stevens.

crbateman
06-27-2010, 12:32 AM
Moving away from sakura, I am curious to know whether anyone else has seen The Heart of Aikido, the new translation of parts of Takemusu Aiki by John Stevens.Reading it now...

Janet Rosen
06-27-2010, 01:28 AM
A belated thank you for this immense contribution to aikiweb. Way too much to read online - for the first time since Jun made them available as pdfs I've actually had to print out a column in order to sit down and read it like a book.....

oisin bourke
06-27-2010, 05:42 AM
Hello Oisin,

Have you ever discussed these issues with Iida Sensei?

The only direct connection to the Silence Principle of which I am aware is how Mutsuru Nakazono deals with the myths supposedly recorded in the Takeuchi Documents. I am thinking of Nakazono Sensei's revelations about the Kotodama Principle, discussed in my TIE columns on kotodama. (Actually, of all the TIE columns that have to be revised in preparation for a future book, the kotodama columns are the ones most in need of revision and expansion. There is so much more that needs to be said and this also includes putting O Sensei's discourses in a better context.)

According to Nakazono, the pristine civilization captured in the phrase 'Sumera Mikoto' somehow entered into a conspiracy of silence, in order to hide all traces of their civilization and to allow only 'chosen' individuals, like Nakazono (and for reasons even more unknown) to catch a glimpse--by way of utterly arcane interpretations of a set of scrolls generally thought by some academic to be forgeries.

There is an added twist. Neal Stephenson in his novel Snow Crash refers to Sumera Mikoto and suggests that this refers to the ancient Sumerian culture, in which,he believes, a sort of proto-language was spoken, rather like the ancient, pure, Japanese spoken by the original Yamato race, whose existence was argued for by kokugaku scholars like Kamo no Mabuchi.

There is a very interesting treatment of the Takeuchi documents by Kosaka Wado. He has not, unfortunately, been translated into English.

Best,

PAG

I did ask him about this but he went silent:)

The "SP" as treated in in the Barber's book differs from Japanese approaches to "silence" in that it's not a "silence of secrecy". Rather, when important,complex information is transmitted orally, a type of "shorthand develops so that only the most vital information is expressed. This is in order to help memorization.

So for example, When Ulysses and his men flee from Polyphemus the Cyclops (a one eyed giant) who flings rocks after them , the fact that the story refers to a volcanic eruption is never explicitly mentioned in the story, as it is assumed that everyone listening to this story will know what is meant by the terms.

Anyway, I brought this to attention in the hope that someone with more intellectual rigour than myself might be able to analyse the points made with regard to the "transmission" of the Aiki arts (How's that for Sakura?). It's another angle, basically.

Anyway, I'll leave it at that for the moment!

Best Regards

Peter Goldsbury
06-27-2010, 08:41 AM
So for example, When Ulysses and his men flee from Polyphemus the Cyclops (a one eyed giant) who flings rocks after them, the fact that the story refers to a volcanic eruption is never explicitly mentioned in the story, as it is assumed that everyone listening to this story will know what is meant by the terms.

Hello Oisin,

Well, we are planning a trip to the Shirataki village in Hokkaido, where Morihei Ueshiba first met Sokaku Takeda. We will pass through Sapporo on the way ...

Presumably, the memorization is for the sake of the kataribe telling the stories and not for those hearing them. For the details of the stories will change according to the nature of the audience.

The major problem with Barber's book is that the authors are writing from a privileged position. Those who do not know the 'longhand' will not be in a position to check how the shorthand developed and so will not be in a position to interpret the shorthand. So I am less certain than you that everyone listening will know the 'cultural substructure' of the story. They will probably know it as a myth.

For example, you might argue from the Noah myths in the Bible that the story is a shorthand form of a real flood and that those who heard the stories of the ark will remember the stories about the flood. There is archeological evidence that there was actually a real flood, but the actual connection with this flood and the Noah myths in the Bible is much harder to define.

Similarly with the Tower of Babel myth. Babel is plausibly based on Babylon and the Tower on the ziggurats built there. But the story recounted in Genesis is less easily assimilated to a real story, with which everyone would be familiar. In the case of the Babel myth, there is no guidance forthcoming from the contemporary myths from other cultures. The Babel story seems exclusive to the Bible and the unhappy relations between Babylon and those for whom the story was recounted.

The Amaterasu / Susano-o myths in the Kojiki / Nihon Shoki are another illustration. The Susano-o myths are thought to come from Izumo, but they have been fused together by the writer of the Kojiki into one smooth narrative, according to which Susano-o is 'redeemed' by slaying the 8-tailed dragon and presenting the kusanagi sword to Amaterasu. If this myth is a 'shorthand' story of something that would have been known to the pre-literate hearers, it is not clear what this would be and this calls into question the utility of the SP device--as an explanatory device.

Best wishes,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
06-27-2010, 09:20 AM
A belated thank you for this immense contribution to aikiweb. Way too much to read online - for the first time since Jun made them available as pdfs I've actually had to print out a column in order to sit down and read it like a book.....

Hello Janet,

I always download Jun's PDF files of my own columns. I write them in Word, and then check and doubler check, but I always send to Jun a catalogue of typos, mistakes etc. The PDF files are another check for errors and typos.

But this is about style. I am always hoping for criticism about the content...

Best wishes,

PAG

Walker
06-27-2010, 01:46 PM
Moving away from sakura, I am curious to know whether anyone else has seen The Heart of Aikido, the new translation of parts of Takemusu Aiki by John Stevens.

In a complete marketing fail, I didn't know it was different from "The Secret Teachings of Aikido" until it came up here. Discerning the difference between new material and repackaging can be difficult in this day and age. :straightf

Janet Rosen
06-27-2010, 05:58 PM
But this is about style. I am always hoping for criticism about the content.
PAG
Ah...I don't feel qualified to render a critical judgment; my comment was an expression of deep appreciation for the content.

Peter Goldsbury
06-28-2010, 03:10 AM
Ah...I don't feel qualified to render a critical judgment; my comment was an expression of deep appreciation for the content.

Hello Janet,

Thank you for the comments. I was not thinking of you in particular, but of AikiWeb in general, as a resource-rich site, frequented by people who have long experience in various types of training and reflection on this training. I remember that the late Ubaldo Alcantara used to worry that contributions of an overtly academic sort were frowned upon on certain websites, on the grounds that the latter were not a good place for such material. I disagree and so the TIE columns will continue. I am obliged to Jun for meeting the demands made on his time, with formatting etc.

Best wishes,

NagaBaba
06-28-2010, 09:03 AM
Hello Janet,

Thank you for the comments. I was not thinking of you in particular, but of AikiWeb in general, as a resource-rich site, frequented by people who have long experience in various types of training and reflection on this training. I remember that the late Ubaldo Alcantara used to worry that contributions of an overtly academic sort were frowned upon on certain websites, on the grounds that the latter were not a good place for such material. I disagree and so the TIE columns will continue. I am obliged to Jun for meeting the demands made on his time, with formatting etc.

Best wishes,
Hello Peter,

I think your academic research is very valuable. You were able to put many of O sensei ideas in the right cultural and social context. It certainly changes and refines some of our understanding about what Founder created.

However there is some danger of such approach. As example I can give: your criticism of close connection Budo, and particularly aikido with agriculture. From theoretical point of view it may seems right, but from my experience, and I mean real life experience, you are not right.

We moved few years ago to the country side. I’m not a farmer, still working in my job, but we have some land and started do develop a 30 000 sq feet garden with a lot of big trees. Consciously we are trying to avoid the use of big mechanical tools. It is not always possible – example: some delivery must be done with trucks. But most of heavy work we are doing by hands.

After 3 years of this experience, I must admit that not only my body changed, also my techniques, approach to aikido and general understanding of Founder’s ideas. Presently I think ppl who are not sullying their hands with soil regularly, who never physically struggle with Nature, they can’t understand Founder. Only deep connection to Mother Earth can help here. Talking about The Elements (like fire, water…) and having physical every day contact with such elements are two completely different things. I could write a long essay about it, but it is useless unless somebody touch a soil.

Budd
06-28-2010, 10:01 AM
I've said it before and I'll say it again . . Everyone at some point in their lives should do the following:

1) Work long hours outdoors (i.e. on a farm)
2) Participate in some sort of performance art (dance, choir, theater)
3) Compete in a combat sport (Judo, wrestling, fencing, etc.)

All 3 will greatly inform any martial art you "do" . .

Peter Goldsbury
06-29-2010, 08:43 AM
Hello Szczepan,

I suppose it depends what you mean by 'real life experience'.

I was born and brought up in the country and spent much time in my childhood and youth helping parents and grandparents to look after their extensive fruit and vegetable gardens. Like you, we avoided mechanical aids and the gardens supplied virtually all our fruit and vegetables. There was food rationing just after the war, and so such gardens were vital for the food supply. (Even now, my family in the UK live in the country, breed horses and run a large farm.)

But there was no hint of romanticism about the close relation with Mother Nature. Though he was a lot older than me, I suspect that Kisshomaru had a similar experience in Iwama, probably more acute, since Japan's economic situation was much worse than the UK's.

So it might be that O Sensei really believed that aikido was close to farming. But he was using a trope, which was based on a much more romantic view of the relationship.

Best wishes,

PAG

DH
06-29-2010, 08:48 AM
I've said it before and I'll say it again . . Everyone at some point in their lives should do the following:

1) Work long hours outdoors (i.e. on a farm)
2) Participate in some sort of performance art (dance, choir, theater)
3) Compete in a combat sport (Judo, wrestling, fencing, etc.)

All 3 will greatly inform any martial art you "do"
Hi Budd
I've done all three and spent years in each.
While I agree with your overal premise, none of the above could match an education through aiki and hours and hours of solo work and slow paired movement drills in order to go back to a couple of items on that last and do them differently. Example: I do not lift rocks, dig or split and stack cordwood the same way I used to.
I think there is a duality, one which is surface and rather obvious, the other a much deeper study.
Cheers
Dan

DH
06-29-2010, 09:44 AM
So it might be that O Sensei really believed that aikido was close to farming. But he was using a trope, which was based on a much more romantic view of the relationship.
Best wishes,

PAG
I am not sure I would agree. I draw a correlation to this misunderstanding of farming to the search for exhaustive and deep initiation into a myriad of Koryu weapons arts to explain Takeda's AIki.

Peter writes:
However, learning such a vast range of different arts might well have provided the foundations of Daito-ryu, but it would not in itself provide training explicitly in ‘aiki' or internal power / skills.
As far as training in aiki; what does that mean to you, Peter? It could specifically and in detail, provide areas where that training explicitly provides an in-road to aiki. Morevoer, some of those areas of physical understanding are blatant and fundamental to IP/aiki. To be clear, there is some understanding between weapons training and IP/ aiki that Ellis has now that he did not possess when writing the book!
I had asked myself several times while reading your article “On what grounds is this guy either including or dismissing what Ellis wrote?” It seems more of a critique on a research and verification level, not on a budo level.

Rather than a direct transmission of ‘internal' skills from these teachers, it is more likely, as Amdur suggests, that Takeda acquired some of these skills by himself during his own musha shugyo training, after he left Sakakibara's dojo.
I find this curiously inconsistent and I have argued it with Ellis from both sides for that very reason. Internal training is not a mystery, nor does it have to be found on ones own. I will state that I do not believe that someone can find it on one’s own. We have Takeda displaying unusual power as a youth. Where do events after Sakakibara come to play as evidentiary of growth or being significant in any meaningful way?

As far as learning IP/aiki
How about seeing it as a process of transmission –and- as personal discovery built upon some very important and fundamental rules of the road that absolutely had to be taught?
How do we explain Takeda with Sagwa, Ueshiba, Kodo, Hisa etc.? All personal genius’s, all accidents of mutual personal discovery? Hardly!
I understand the incredible extent to which some people here go to in trying to add things Ueshiba "discovered." All I see is him performing text book Daito ryu his whole career. So let’s leave him right out of the discussion and move on. Sagawa, to Kimura? Hisa to Mori? Kodo to Okomoto? That next generation to us?
How is this happening if not by direct transmission and personal discovery?

You next moved on to Tanamo Saigo and his potential involvement in transmitting something or other to Takeda. Ellis and others have pondered over this notion of getting something in a short time frame. I have addressed that many times so I won’t revisit it here.
Tanamo Saigo and his journal has never mattered much to me nor do I care to postulate over it yet again. Once again, with all this speculation….I look at affiliation. It is worth considering curiosities and circumstantial evidence as it may have meaning. Tanamo, knew Shiro Saigo and Takeda Sokaku. How odd that both Shiro and Sokaku were considered geniuses in the martial arts. Yes, how very strange. Stranger still, that when you read of some of the accounts from Judoka who trained with Shiro; they describe many of the attributes of unusual power and trademarks of aiki that Takeda was known for. They have no common ties, save the one. Tanamo.

Perhaps I read these things with a different understanding. I completely understand how these men could have had a direct transmission of IP/aiki and why it could be a separate issue from the arts themselves, and also as we now know was actually openly discussed as a side issue. See Sagawas discussion of Takeda telling him not to teach it and also of openly discussing solo training as a requirement to deeper understanding. Yet is is discussed by Sagawa as something one did “outside” of the art and “You don’t talk about it.” Yet here we are wondering how and why Tanamo “Did not talk about it” either.

I think it is clear that many of those writing about Budo do not possess the understanding of these things, so they search in vein for connections that are not viable. So when it comes to sourcing aikis origins, perhaps it is worth considering that neither Shiro, Hisa, Kodo, or Ueshiba himself had any deep study of weapons, yet they got transmission.

Were people to understand the subject better, I think they would find it quite logical that it is entirely transmittable as a means to change the body and how you move and think and it doesn't have one thing to do with a search for a deep initiation or a vast collection of waza from many arts. It is the substance that creates arts in the first place.

Oh…about farming.
Were you to understand the nature of changing the body, than the true duality of Ueshiba’s comments comes to the fore as more than just allegory.
Farming and hard work imparts many positive attributes that are well documented. But for our purposes here I would also offer that digging and hoisting are excellent ways to do solo training to change the body for budo. The trouble occurs when the average Joe with no real understanding of internal martial training thinks that “a- lift’in and a- haul’in on da farm” are the same thing as budo training whil doing manual labor. I don't really talk to them like I would talking to another budo guy.
I remain far more confidant with some of the statements offered by Takeda and Ueshiba.
1. Where Takeda stated he actually got aiki from has never been disproved (people still keep searching for decades of koryu initiation)
2. Where Ueshiba stated that Takeda opened his eyes to true budo (people still look in vein for technical brilliance to explain his power and skill)
3. Where Ueshiba was trying use an allegory of framing to tell us that hard work offered ‘training opportunities” for that aiki body that Sagawa also talked about (that chap did not live on a farm so he developed a different regimen for “hard work” in the city).
The key point being that is was not an empty allegory and the hard work he talked about? had not one thing to do with manual labor done like the average bear-It was about budo training.
Cheers
Dan

Budd
06-29-2010, 01:19 PM
Hi Budd
I've done all three and spent years in each.
While I agree with your overal premise, none of the above could match an education through aiki and hours and hours of solo work and slow paired movement drills in order to go back to a couple of items on that last and do them differently. Example: I do not lift rocks, dig or split and stack cordwood the same way I used to.
I think there is a duality, one which is surface and rather obvious, the other a much deeper study.
Cheers
Dan

Nothing to argue about there. I look at the three things I mentioned as darn good preparation for life stuff (martial arts, job, social, whatever) - akin to some undergraduate prep. Whereas the deeper study portion of the aiki, that in itself becomes a lifelong pursuit of self-cultivation that then feeds back in to any other activity you undertake - into graduate and beyond post-doctoral studies.

DH
06-29-2010, 03:57 PM
Nothing to argue about there. I look at the three things I mentioned as darn good preparation for life stuff (martial arts, job, social, whatever) - akin to some undergraduate prep. Whereas the deeper study portion of the aiki, that in itself becomes a lifelong pursuit of self-cultivation that then feeds back in to any other activity you undertake - into graduate and beyond post-doctoral studies.

Hmm....there are things that a couple of those items will bring out...in certain people. There is a charisma, or pull that some people seem to have. I could get into some weird ideas I have about presence and spirit and "being on" and projecting, that are easily morphed into discussions of "Ki", but that is not going to go anywhere but down hill. Funny how some of the greats had some similar observations though.
Cheers
Dan

DH
06-29-2010, 06:11 PM
Peter
I wrote in haste this morning. To be more clear, I think there are obvious things that are more plausible and simple as explanations for these men and we are straining to make it more complicated than it really is. I think it is obvious that the training of IP/aiki was an adjunct to the main arts. There are any number of cases of men going off to train solo and coming back with "power" It is in budo legends backgrounds all over. The overriding question is, was it a discovery made out of whole cloth or were their specific teachings that laid the foundations -I called them rules of the road- and men went out and burned them and added bits here and there.

I think it is a mistaken idea that Takeda went out and mastered a myriad of weapons arts for the power he displayed as a kid.

However, I think it is a mistaken idea to also downplay potential IP/aiki training in Koryu. The connection from the body skills in weapons to the body skills in aiki is startling and clear. Unfortunately there like everywhere else many can't see it and as at least one school told Ellis.."Yeah those old guys really had power...but we don't do that stuff anymore in our practice!"
We have so many modern examples to prove it out as well.
Sagawa said the same things "Takeda said not to talk about it"
" Solo training was something you did on your own"
Tokimune said "My guys don't want to do it either" to the Takumakia teacher
As I said "The Fighting Spirit of Japan" book has the aikijujutsu guy stating few know it, and weirdly our Englishman is told that this 6 th dan judoka is unthrowable when he uses it.
Yet..........no one talked about it. Oh well

I was trying to say that I think you have to be taught the rules of the road, the basics in IP/aiki in order to move forward on your own. So you can have both.

The Tanamo/Shiro/ Sokaku stuff I don't really care that much about.
Cheers
Dan

Peter Goldsbury
06-30-2010, 06:32 PM
Well, I suppose it depends what you want in a book review. I think you have to start with the book itself, especially a book like HIPS, and analyze carefully what the author states, how he reaches his conclusions, and the evidence he uses to support these conclusions. The basis on which the review is written by a particular author might or might not become clear, but if it obtrudes too much, then I think the review becomes less satisfactory as a result.

FWIW

PAG

DH
07-01-2010, 09:53 AM
Well, I suppose it depends what you want in a book review. I think you have to start with the book itself, especially a book like HIPS, and analyze carefully what the author states, how he reaches his conclusions, and the evidence he uses to support these conclusions. The basis on which the review is written by a particular author might or might not become clear, but if it obtrudes too much, then I think the review becomes less satisfactory as a result.

FWIW

PAG

Hello Peter
I appreciate the review and am enjoying the questions raised; I just question whether the nature of the review overshoots the intent of the work. I read the work with the idea that he was not shooting for “conclusions” with his points of interest. Ellis stated in private discussions, in posts on aikiweb, and in the book itself that the intent of the piece was never to be definitive or to reach conclusions in the first place. I believe he cited various reasons;
-There wasn’t enough written documentation available or accessible to conclusively verify certain recent circumstantial evidence as empirical evidence.
-Proof that the material he was searching for (internal training) had familial ties to individual artists or the body of arts Takeda and Ueshiba would have been exposed to.
-Documented internal training in extant Koryu is not readily available, and his hopes that this seminal work would lead to more research.
In other words, he openly stated the piece was not conclusive but rather intentionally controversial and undertaken with the hopes of raising interest of a level that others with better training, better access, or holding information, might undertake a more scholarly and rigorous approach in pursuing the subject.
I think that remains an important distinction. He knowingly makes it clear (for the sake of his own credibility) to the readers, and also for those researchers that might follow; how handicapped one is in this daunting task. The difficulties he ran into with the lack of material to support the work as “conclusive” is no doubt going to be a challenge for future efforts by scholars. Thankfully, he saw importance of getting the subject matter out there worth sacrificing a certain comfortability in the work presented.

Personally, I have never agreed with Ellis that scholars could do a better job with the work and have told him so. I think this is an effort better left to Budo men. I have seen the efforts of scholars in the documentation of other subjects near and dear to my interests; Arms and Armor, their manufacture and use. Their unfamiliarity with the topic led to glaring errors, and mutually supported citing of each others works in support of other erroneous "conclusions." U.S. Steels technical manual as a single body of work, did more to clarify earlier metallurgical work then all the collected scholarly works of the day. I remain convinced that a similar case is all but guaranteed to occur with the present subject of internals in the Martial Arts of Japan for the same reasons. I can see the interviewing of present day experts of extant arts (who themselves are unfamiliar with the topic) being asked inane questions by a scholar (unfamiliar with the subject himself) and the resultant interview being used to support other material, and then have it presented in a way as to pass a rigorous review by a panel of unknowing peers and then be accepted as “conclusive,” on to being published and then cited by other scholars twenty years down the line as further support of their ideas.
To return to an earlier comment, you can ask Ellis (himself one of those potential experts) if the existence of certain internal components that he had been searching for was even evident to himself in his own arts? That being the case, we can ask ourselves "How conclusive would it be were he to be one of the men interviewed, then later cited in some future work?"

There are no methods I can think of that would reach a conclusive study in the martial arts of Japan. I think Takeda serves us well as a titular example of what we will find in researching any connection between internals and stellar martial artists. There are cases where brilliant individuals have no recorded extensive training in established arts to support their highly unusual –even unique understanding. Research into the lives of Musashi, Iizasa, Takeouchi, Munenori, Tesshu, etc. Haven’t been definitive in explaining their own brilliance or enlightenment. Takeda is just more of the same. At least with Takeda we have him pointing to in-the-flesh individuals rather than tengu and scrolls from the gods.

Ellis's "take" on Takeda’s past, his relations and upbringing and the reasons for Takeda’s behavior was certainly refreshing and at the very least had more validity than the preponderance of anecdotal and largely “spun” stories coming out of the aikikia’s affiliates. I think almost anything that counters the Ueshiba family’s version of history is worth the price of admission. I feel the same about some of Ellis's opinions about Ueshiba. I think more time could have been spent on specifics of the change from the execution of Daito ryu waza to Aikido waza as emblematic of the spiritual changes in Ueshiba that could actually have strengthened and supported his views, but no matter.

As far as the main thrust of his ideas that this stuff is "Hidden In Plain Site," I can only say I think Elllis is enjoying how ironic his initial ideas were, even more so today. I think we will be hearing more on that from him later.
I don’t think we will ever verify the existence of a connection between internal training and single individuals or entire arts in an empirical study. Were we to make the attempt, we are going to need to first verify the existence and effects of such training on a series of adepts, and then verify and prove the –lack – of internal training on a control group of warriors. All done posthumously! Further, any historical conclusions are going to have to be verified by the reading of makimono of the first group and the scrolls of the second, by those capable of reading older Kanji and who themselves understand the subject to a degree that they can verify the relevance of the material to anything meaningful by way of internal training and then tie that into historical documentation physical augmentation of an arts adepts. Finding the occasional reference to breathing exercises, tied it into chanting is not conclusive of anything, nor has it necessarily produced powerful adepts who had access to similar material in their own arts in the modern age. Technique and skill can mimic and mask a lot of things. These discoveries may hint to other more detailed practices with in a ryu, but many times certain “inside the threshold” teachings have been relegated to oral tradition in the gokui. For that matter it becomes questionable whether you can even use –that- as evidentiary of an arts power or reputation. As Ellis continues in his research he is finding evidence and running into groups of Koryu adepts who know of the subject, but do not practice the material. What does that tell about the premise of his work? He continues to find more evidence that this subset of training actually did exist, but was not readily discussed or even consistently transmitted by those with the material right under their very nose!

So I guess my take on the review is that while I enjoyed it on several levels, I even laughed out loud (in a good way) a few times, I think it is expecting the book to be more than what the authors stated goals were. Were I to set the same standards it appears you are proposing on the work, I think it would not have seen the light of day. But then we would never have seen the subject forwarded to a largely unfamiliar readership, or seen the question of the existence of this very important subject of study in the martial arts of Japan even raised. Taken as a whole, I think the book served its author's stated purposes well and was an enjoyable read. I consider it to be required reading for anyone who trains with me, while I am not even remotely surprised to find that the majority so-called martial artists would pass it by and remain unfamiliar with the “questions” raised in its pages. In that regard, I think it matches the state of affairs in the Japanese arts. So much is “Hidden In Plain Site” that those in the arts-even experts- can’t seem to find it.
Dan

DH
07-01-2010, 01:07 PM
Apologies for "Hidden In Plain SIGHT" Ellis.
I can't seem to get "site" out of my head...probably from dealing with "site work" every day in my job.
Ya think I would get used to the site being such a poor "sight!"
Nope...not me:D
Dan

Erick Mead
07-01-2010, 02:20 PM
Hello Peter,

I think your academic research is very valuable. You were able to put many of O sensei ideas in the right cultural and social context. It certainly changes and refines some of our understanding about what Founder created.

However there is some danger of such approach. As example I can give: your criticism of close connection Budo, and particularly aikido with agriculture. From theoretical point of view it may seems right, but from my experience, and I mean real life experience, you are not right.

We moved few years ago to the country side. I'm not a farmer, still working in my job, but we have some land and started do develop a 30 000 sq feet garden with a lot of big trees. Consciously we are trying to avoid the use of big mechanical tools. It is not always possible -- example: some delivery must be done with trucks. But most of heavy work we are doing by hands.

After 3 years of this experience, I must admit that not only my body changed, also my techniques, approach to aikido and general understanding of Founder's ideas. Presently I think ppl who are not sullying their hands with soil regularly, who never physically struggle with Nature, they can't understand Founder. Only deep connection to Mother Earth can help here. Talking about The Elements (like fire, water…) and having physical every day contact with such elements are two completely different things. I could write a long essay about it, but it is useless unless somebody touch a soil. Hear, hear. (http://www.aikiweb.com/blogs/but-why-7854/the-missing-kokyu-training-farming-2948/) This has also been discussed at length starting about here (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=214086&postcount=33)

I think this does help with interpreting things like O Sensei's use of the Kojiki myths to illustrate his meaning (as opposed to its "meaning" in some non-contextual sense).
In the larger sense of the "hidden in plain sight" problem -- though the question is, of course "what was hidden" -- perhaps the more critical question is "Why was it missed?" The latter one gives you an answer as to how what you are looking for may be hidden from you -- and perhaps, a way to uncover it.

I am a believer in the concrete interpretation of myth -- not literal, not metaphorical, not allegorical. Myth refers to concrete things and their relationships as they actually relate -- as poetry (poesis = making) is concrete reference-- and therefore quite translatable in comprehensible ways.

My prescription: Read what he said -- see what he said in your training, or look for it if you not now see it. Build upon that. Or reverse the order of training vice reading -- to the same effect. Bun bu itchi. The order should not matter.

You will not be wrong in doing it this way -- you will, however, likely be misunderstood -- very few people think in this way.

Most people are either abstract thinkers or literal thinkers. Abstracters lose sight of actual things (equally, those that are overly analytical or overly romantic, are both thinking abstractly). They either seek abstract reduction or abstract ideals.

Literal thinkers do not observe many concrete principles of real relationships from experience -- or else do not extend in practice such principles to situations by similarity of pattern. They follow patterns of act and thought that they have themselves experienced or have been reliably told, in settings that they trust -- and tend to avoid all others.

Concrete thinkers are not romantic -- though they will use poetic image or myth. They are not literalists -- though they see things for what they are ratehr than what some ideal version might be. They see real relationships in real things that pattern across many situations or types of circumstance -- but not linearly or reductively. They do not seek abstracted predictive ideals or literal repetition of "safe" behavior or circumstances. They seek the complexities of things that are complex -- but whose patterns are shared in other real things and yet which can both endure and change in concrete (and creative) ways.

In the same way as optical illusions (two faces -- or a goblet?), the very perception of the concrete reality that denies your initial assumption of perception, completely rebuts both the reductive or romantic abstraction, and the literal linear repetition of what you "already know".

O Sensei was a concrete thinker, actor and teacher -- neither a romantic or mathematical abstractionist, nor yet a by-the-numbers rote literalist. Both types are well represented -- here and in Japan. Concrete thinkers are few and far between.

niall
07-01-2010, 10:32 PM
Presently I think people who are not sullying their hands with soil regularly, who never physically struggle with Nature, they can’t understand the Founder. Only a deep connection to Mother Earth can help here. Talking about The Elements (like fire, water…) and having physical every day contact with such elements are two completely different things.

Szczepan's comments about the connection to the soil are really important (and much more fundamental than the indirect issue of physical labour changing the body). If we really want to understand nature and its power maybe we should be trying harder to be part of it instead of being spectators. I don't think that is romantic.

And I don't think you can get much more abstract and abstruse than O Sensei.

Peter Goldsbury
07-02-2010, 05:33 AM
I think it would be foolish to deny that Morihei Ueshiba was happy tilling the soil. After all, he helped to 'colonize' a Hokkaido 'wilderness' from 1912 onwards, he tilled the land in Ayabe in the 1920s, and he moved to a smallholding in Iwama in 1942.

It is the absolutes that are alleged to flow from this that are in question.

The evidence is to be found, not in the discourses of Morihei Ueshiba himself, but in the writings of his son. Kisshomaru states very clearly in his biography that Morihei Ueshiba adapted a phrase that was first coined as a slogan by the new Meiji government. The phrase is heino-ichinyo (兵農一如) and was a slogan to popularize a movement known as tonden-hei-seido (屯田兵制度), the creation of settlements in Hokkaido for samurai who were left without a livelihood after the abolition of feudal domains. Kisshomaru is in no doubt that his father's decision to go to Hokkaido was influenced by one Denzaburo Kurahashi, who lived in such a settlement. He is also in no doubt at all that the ideal of buno-ichinyo (武農一如), which was Morihei Ueshiba's own version of the ideal for Iwama, was based on these earlier settlements.

Kisshomaru adds that "after the Battle of Hakodate Goryokaku, when the shogunate army led by Takeaki Enomoto surrendered to the new Meiji government, many such settlements were organized for the erstwhile samurai class and their followers. Between 1874 and 1899, twenty-four military villages, incorporating 7,337 families and a total of 39,911 people, were formed on this model. The reports by Denzaburo Kurahashi about the Hokkaido settlement where he lived must have captured O Sensei's imagination. He was on fire with the "frontier spirit." (A Life in Aikido, pp. 83-84; Japanese original: pp. 82-83.)

Two items can be added to to Kisshomaru's statement. One is that Enomoto's army included Saigo Tanomu (aka Chikanori Hoshina, Sokaku Takeda's aiki teacher), who had fled to Sendai (with Takeda Sokaku's father) after the siege of Aizu, and then went to join Enomoto in Hakodate. Saigo was imprisoned for a few years in Hokkaido and stayed there for a time after he was released.

The second is that one of the defeated samurai families of Aizu who went to Hokkaido was the Shiba family. Like the Saigo family, many members chose suicide rather than surrender to the Choshu/Satsuma army, but the Shiba family chose to follow their pardoned daimyo to Hokkaido. Those who question my use of the term 'romantic' might like to read Shiba Goro's memoir, Remembering Aizu, where he gives an account of their life in Hokkaido on pp. 83-112.

Finally, I think it is very important to place Morihei Ueshiba in a correct contemporary context. It was Onisaburo Deguchi who encouraged Ueshiba to till the soil in Ayabe. Deguchi made extensive use of the teachings of the nativist Hirata Atsutane, who sanctified the triangle of worship, work, and the soil into a coherent recipe for returning Japan to her ancient roots and for avoiding a repetition of the popular disturbances that gripped Japan during the Tempo famine. When I have the time, I will spell it all out.

Best wishes,

Ellis Amdur
07-02-2010, 11:18 AM
Peter - just out of curiosity - is there available a timeline of Tanomo's time here and there. I wonder how it would juxtipose with a timeline of Takeda Sokaku.
Best
Ellis

DH
07-02-2010, 12:43 PM
A couple of notes to clean up some points.
Both Ellis and Peter spend significant time going over a panoply of Koryu training and how it may or not relate to Takeda 'getting aiki" that way. It is being quietly suggested that this right of passage or musa shugyo was an inherent requirement for aiki. We can further narrow the discussion as to whether the theory is that this was needed to "get aiki" or discover it, or to further refine a teaching he may have received as a youth as Ellis suggests.

In counter point
Yet we know Takeda exhibited significant skills to defeat larger opponents in his youth.
We know he defeated an accomplished swordsman at 16
We know he claims Chikanori as his aiki teacher
We know he claims it is Chikanori who tells him to lay down the sword and to express his art in jujutsu. Sagawa supports that he heard the same thing from Takeda.

I think there is a "putting the cart before the horse" argument going on in both positions.
I am suggesting an alternate idea; that weapons training, and jujutsu training should be looked at as separate pursuits that have nothing to do with training in IP/aiki, That having received certain training in IP/aiki in his youth, he went out to play with it and learn fighting arts as an adjunct or vehicle to express it in....as.... he refine his skills. What it does not mean is that you needed to go out and learn a wide variety of various arts...to...get Aiki.
Again it is worth noting that nowhere does Takeda state otherwise, He was clear in comments to various sources where he credits his aiki (Ellis supposes it might have been because he was on the outs with his father). There is a modification or possible middle position to be had. One that Ellis treats lightly and all but dismisses out of hand; oshiki-uchi. This was supposedly an indoor teaching reserved for selected students for whatever reason. I believe there are erroneous and overly romanticized readings of oshiki-uchi that might have suited the purposes of certain modern teachers myth making that do a disservice to what might have been a more mundane state of affairs well in keeping with Japanese koryu; a gokui teaching. There is a very real possibility that oshiki-uchi. was indeed a body of knowledge or teaching held in Aizu; an "inside the threshold" teaching of IP/ aiki that has not one thing to do with the popular translation of "inside the threshold" of some supposed castle where you could not rise to subdue an attack on a daimyo or shogun. I use the term disservice as this idea has not been received well or given much credibility by the koryu community-for good reason. But were we to consider the possibility that they were teachings for "indoor disciples" we see a consistency to other forms of transmission of the time; that there exists gokui for indoor students. This also helps to explain Sagawa's later statements;
"That Takeda told him not to teach these things."
The statements he made about keeping "The solo training as an outside practice you didn't talk about."
Tokimune's supposed comment that "My guys don't want to do the solo training either," and "Not to teach but one or two."
As I stated in an earlier post this makes the lack of evidence and the lack of discussion in this search very understandable very pedestrian. It remains entirely plausible that others beside Chikanori knew it. We need not be looking for a group of men who knew these things were all giants in the arts either That just like everything else we see in the arts various people, even with the knowledge, just don't do the work. "Just cause ya know, doesn't mean ya can show."
So this leaves it entirely feasible that Takeda's father (also known to be very powerful) had learned IP/aiki training within Aizu, even possibly with Chikanori and taught it to Takeda as a youth as Ellis postulates. Or that Takeda learned some of it from his Dad and later truly developed it with Chikanori -thus supporting Takeda's statements.
No where does it mean that Takeda had to go travel all over Japan to get it.

While I agree that internal power was practiced in Japan here and there, I question just how complete it was. I think it remains that Takeda's Daito ryu was thee premier art exhibiting IP/aiki with any measure of consistency.

Dan

Ellis Amdur
07-02-2010, 02:07 PM
There is no doubt, in my mind, that Takeda was among the pre-eminent, if not THE preeminent practitioners of "aiki" in the turn of the century. My qualifier is that there were surely others, who were much more secretive/cloistered, etc., among various koryu - who didn't demonstrate publicly. (Consider, for example, the incredible skills of Kuroda Tetsuzan, which were reportedly also held by his grandfather and others in the family of previous generations). Similarly Kunii Zen'ya of Kashima Shin-ryu in a later era. I certainly am not in the LARPer position of trying to speculate which long dead man was better than which, given I've never even seen them. And we can't judge the skills of such people by their followers, something Dan has noted in his scathing comments about some DR and aikido practitioners who put their miracles up on YouTube. I'll never forget the first time I saw a film of one of Sagawa's "leading students"!!!!! If I were to judge Sagawa based on that, I'd take up gymkata instead. So if would definitely be wrong to assert that because Yagyu Shingan-ryu shihan went to Takeda to learn (they did), that YSR never had such skills within their own curriculum, just that they very likely were lost or abandoned.
The evidence, however, for Takeda's pre-eminence (and later, Ueshiba's "near" pre-eminence - Sagawa keeping to himself, and Horikawa living in the middle of nowhere) - is the astonishment they created among nearly all their contemporaries. Furthermore, Takeda, as I've written, focused on a "gokui of gokui," so to speak - a philosopher's stone, a universal solvent, that was reactive with any element, as opposed to a usual gokui, which was a capstone to a specific body of knowledge, albeit with greater applicability that that one specific. Honestly, that is, in my opinion, Takeda's greatest genius. Or, as UEshiba is quoted as saying, "In aiki, we do it this way."
Part of my thesis, however, is that such skills were much more widely disseminated in previous generations. The founder of Tenjin Shinyo-ryu is described in terms much like the aiki masters and the ryu had internal training - which is hardly practiced. Same with Takeda's friends/elders who did Yoshin-ryu. So many ryu have similar accounts. Here's yet another I noticed, in an interview with the recently and sadly deceased Laszlo Abel:
Toshimitsu Masaki was bom in 1688 and I think he was like Morihei Ueshiba Sensei and Sokaku Takeda Sensei, who were reputed to be able to control the “ki” force that surrounded them. I found a lot of information about Masaki Sensei’s duels. He almost never used weapons, relying only his hands. He actually fought one against a sumo wrestler, Goroji Ayakawa. He allowed the wrestler to do tsuppari (sumo style thrusting) against him, but the sumo man couldn’t budge Masaki because of his strong control of his ki. And when Masaki did the same, the sumo wrestler went flying through the air. (I'm not interested in how Laszlo tried to explain it - "ki force" - but the description of the actions of Masaki.

As for my thesis re Takeda - as before, I shan't rewrite my own book. But here's what I mean regarding Takeda's refinement, based on my own recent experience. The obvious caveat is that let us put Takeda at a number 12 on a scale of ten, and me, by my own estimation at a 1.347. But having done a little basic training, I start doing this or that technique in either Araki-ryu or Toda-ha Buko-ryu, and my body seems to say, "Well, why not do it this way," in essence, applying the "aiki" into the weapon's technique, without changing the external form in the least. This reverberates back into my basic training, which leads to new, "why not do it this way" experiences. They build on each other - perhaps this reverberation is the meaning of Ueshiba's affection for the word, "Yamabiko" - mountain echoes - or I may be just playing with words here.
Now, consider Takeda, with his exponentially greater skills than mine. Not only does he/his body recognize opportunities at ANY moment to do things with aiki, he surely encountered many different schools that had at least remnants of such training within their own curriculum. (Jikishin Kage-ryu being one, and I've recently found, Hokushin Itto-ryu under Chiba Shusaku, the main Tokyo rival of the Jikishin Kage-ryu, with whom there were many friendly competitions). In other words, imagine a skilled engineer finding a machine that is rusted and jammed, one he didn't make himself with somewhat different technology. But with a very little work and a little oiling, he's got it running again.
I therefore see Takeda - remember a mere teenager hitting the big city and going buck-wild, so to speak. With an educated body meeting bodies of knowledge, he educated himself all the further.
NOW:
As for Dan's ideas on Oshiki-uchi, I've dealt with the limitations of the gokui idea in my book, that it's not something, to date, that is associated with any ryu, there are no independent historical accounts of such practices, and all the claims suggest an "Aizu-wide gokui" disseminated throughout a social class, beyond any one family, by the way, that somehow is never mentioned in any records whatsoever. In other words, it was allegedly too widely spread to be unmentioned or secret. (Again, gokui are not secret in the sense of hidden knowledge - it's always HIPS - but they a) aren't explained, b) aren't practiced. (Witness Jigen-ryu's gokui - "Dragonfly on a post" that I discussed a long time ago on e-budo).
Anyway, it's a moot discussion point barring further research. The Nishinkan still exists (that's the Aizu-han school). The question is if records lie mouldering, as they do in so many other areas. I was recently at the Odawara Library going through the Fujita Seiko collection of martial arts documents. This is publicly accessible and open to anyone who makes a phone call. Of the ten documents I reviewed, none had been looked at in the previous ten years.
It's very possible that there are documents just waiting for someone who is interested enough to look. Yes, I'm aware that all of this is the equivalent of trying to finish a jigsaw puzzle someone left on a table, but interesting, nonetheless.
Best
Ellis Amdur

DH
07-02-2010, 02:56 PM
I would agree with pretty much all of those points, Ellis.
And comparisons are a waste of effort. I made comments in one of my earlier posts about an idea of mine; that in an era of seasoned bujutsu guys, and in a culture used to seeing good bujutsu, there had to be a reason OTHER than just more "good technique" for these various individuals to stand out. Those people were seeing all manner of waza continuously. I remain convinced it was IP/aiki. As you noted there are certain indicators that stick out.

My main points on Takeda's musa shugyo in order to have gotten it, are more along the lines that IP/aiki is a stand apart skill. Skills he demonstrated in his youth just like your Masaki example. It stands to reason those skills are going to empower techniques you learn moreso than the techniques empowering your IP/aiki. That's why I refer to it as the cart before the horse.
As you note as well in your later remarks- IP/aiki is changing how you do things, if not the waza themselves. I think in Takeda's case it went a long way in actually creating waza. Since we're talking personal anecdotes; in my case it became an agent of change where techniques really don't matter to me anymore. There was a universality to movement I developed for my IP/aiki in freestyle who's efficacy is so constant; regardless of weapon or venue that it makes technical considerations secondary, if at all.

One note on mountain echo.
Here's a thought.
Consider the force coming in to you- going to ground and back out to the point of contact.
Consider you having a developed hara that is supported by the ground constantly. The force goes to hara and out to the point of contact.
Now consider your body being so conditioned and developed that each part of you that is touched is full and a duality of "ground" is present in every square inch of you. Sort of like a bell resonating.when you are touched...you ring, or "echo" back to them. No trip to the hara, no trip to ground, everything is just...there. bong!
Consider being able to cast it and fill the tip of your spear
Consider that you have a field of awareness outside of you that he touches before he touches you........

There is a universality to it but not all movement principles are the same.There are guys who take that power and rely on the power aspects of it. To me that it is not the way. I wouldn't want to move like some people I have seen, and I would never move.. same side, hand and foot. There are systems of movement (in this case I believe Takedas model) that fit seamlessly into a full range of weaponry and unarmed work; both traditional and modern without changing a thing. I don't think that it is the case with all systems or arts.

Anyway, I have some more thoughts on the book and on points that Peter's review raise, but I am going fishing.
See ya later
Dan

Erick Mead
07-02-2010, 03:48 PM
One note on mountain echo.
Here's a thought.
Consider the force coming in to you- going to ground and back out to the point of contact.
Consider you having a developed hara that is supported by the ground constantly. The force goes to hara and out to the point of contact.
Now consider your body being so conditioned and developed that each part of you that is touched is full and a duality of "ground" is present in every square inch of you. Sort of like a bell resonating.when you are touched...you ring, or "echo" back to them. No trip to the hara, no trip to ground, everything is just...there. bong! Resonance?!?

Really?

I am shocked. (http://www.aikiweb.com/blogs/but-why-7854/rattling-bones-3214/)

Shocked, I say. (http://www.aikiweb.com/blogs/but-why-7854/physical-theory-of-ki-a-dialogue-3404/)

Consider being able to cast it and fill the tip of your spear
Consider that you have a field of awareness outside of you that he touches before he touches you........
Could it be --- a Field Effect (http://www.aikiweb.com/blogs/but-why-7854/analogues-for-aiki-principles-in-electromagnetic-f-2742/), ?!?

If the path of the realized current is known (and it can be demonstrated or inferred), even if unrealized, the potential (virtual) field is as defined mathematically as if current and flux actually existed at the time of the analysis. It is thus is the proper topic for the method of virtual work to compute a resultant without disturbing the field any more than is necessary to detect its orientation until the action is applied.

In aikido, the analogue is the connection (ki musubi), which harmonizes tori/nage to uke's state at contact and allows the creation at that moment (takemusu aiki) of appropriate technique based on the detected orientation. The connection does not disturb the attack, but joins with it in order to establish orientation, which then leads to a technique appropriate to that flow.

Only at this moment of connection is anything like "strategy" in existence, much less "tactic." And even then, the only "strategy" is to let the state of forces at play define the action to be accomplished. Chinese would describe this as following "li" 理 the principle of the grain of wood, which shaped itself to the forces under which it grew.

"This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere."

Scott Harrington
07-02-2010, 05:36 PM
Regarding Ellis's "gokui of gokui"

While I disagree 'some' (and sometimes alot!) with many Amdur conclusions, and get frustrated with information probably transmitted over a sake (but that is the Japanese way) that cannot be 'scholarly' researched, his excellent writings always shape an argument. And on the "gokui of gokui" he has hit it out of the ballpark.

Having acquired a turn of the century (I guess two ago) Japanese work on internal aspects of the martial arts, I luckily had a Taiwanese friend do a brief look over. Interesting, he described reading it as a fuzzy picture with remarkable clear areas (the old kanji). His Japanese grammar lack precluded a finer view - I am attempting a better reading from multiple sources.

But one phrase (which I now use as a catch word for the unexplainable) struck him in the reading as odd at first, but of course makes much sense. "Ogi no Ogi" stood out to describe the inner aspects of body manipulation.

Secret of the Secrets

And it was documented.

Not hinted at, not some talked about scene remembered, but written down of a method to make things work - better. Or even betterer or perhaps bestest.

Ellis made mention once of a secret being as visible as your eyebrows (I mangle the saying - somebody?), and having pointed out, I believe, ripples like a spreadsheet influencing all results, some subtle and some quite pronounced.

So, another run on the scoreboard. Backed by writing. Let's all do the wave.

Scott Harrington -

next post on how I am a white belt in the internal arts, shown some spooky stuff (said to be just the beginning), and need to write a really nice letter and travel 2500 miles to take a new path in my training. Thanks MM.

DH
07-02-2010, 05:47 PM
No nice letter required. I heard good things.
Dan

Peter Goldsbury
07-02-2010, 08:18 PM
Peter - just out of curiosity - is there available a timeline of Tanomo's time here and there. I wonder how it would juxtipose with a timeline of Takeda Sokaku.
Best
Ellis

Ellis,
The only detailed one I have is on pp.209-232 of the book I cited in my review essay. It is a chart with categories covering Tanomo's life and family, han events and politics, national events and politics. It starts in 1830, with Tanomo aged one, and actually ends in 1923, with Saigo Shiro recieving 6th dan from the Kodokan. The author is Setsuo Hotta.

"Hotta Setsuo has produced a facsimile edition of Sei'un-ki, the handwritten autobiographical memoir of Saigo Tanomo, with a printed version and extensive annotations. (掘田節夫,『会津藩老・西郷頼母自叙伝「栖雲記」私注』, 1993, 東京書籍.)"

Best wishes,

PAG

Ellis Amdur
07-03-2010, 02:20 AM
Thank you, Peter.
Ellis

dps
07-03-2010, 10:21 AM
After 3 years of this experience, I must admit that not only my body changed, also my techniques, approach to aikido and general understanding of Founder’s ideas. Presently I think ppl who are not sullying their hands with soil regularly, who never physically struggle with Nature, they can’t understand Founder. Only deep connection to Mother Earth can help here. Talking about The Elements (like fire, water…) and having physical every day contact with such elements are two completely different things. I could write a long essay about it, but it is useless unless somebody touch a soil.

It Has To Be Felt

David

DH
07-05-2010, 01:38 PM
Peter writes: How times change. Only the other day, during a meeting at the Hombu Dojo I was asked by a prominent Hombu shihan whether I believed that kumi-tachi and kumi-jo were an essential part of aikido. I was quite astonished that the shihan should even ask such a question. At the beginning of the year, an 8th dan Hombu shihan came to my dojo in Hiroshima and taught a seminar. He was a direct student of Ueshiba Morihei and recounted his experiences of O Sensei forbidding weapons training at the Hombu Dojo. The shihan used a weapon only once or twice, merely to explain an important principle concerning empty-handed training. I think that the principles he did illustrate could be summed up in the four axioms of ki training, as set out by Tohei Koichi, even though the shihan did not mention the word ki even once. Other aikido shihans I know have quietly developed their own weapons kata, even those shihans who are not well known as possessing the expertise in weapons of a Nishio Shoji, or shihans who never publicly profess to use weapons. Even the shihan who has gone on public record that aikido does not have weapons training had previously become expert in the family sword art, learned at the hands of his father. Amdur's chapter should explain why this is the case—and why it is very difficult for the present Doshu to take any leadership here. Nevertheless, it is clear that Ueshiba Moriteru is indeed moving to make the weapons practice he performs in his aikido demonstrations—tachi dori, jo dori, tanto dori, which are also required for Aikikai dan examinations—a kind of standard for the future. The result is the likelihood that the weapons training so rigorously pursued by his grandfather is relegated to the ‘Museum of Aikido Historical Relics'. So the wheel has turned full circle and what we see in modern aikido are solely the "rather unrealistic disarming techniques", noted by Amdur at the beginning of the chapter.

Peter
I could not help but notice this peculiar addition to the book review. I am trying to understand what you are saying here-which seems conflicting to my eyes.

First up I wondered at this comment:
"At the beginning of the year, an 8th dan Hombu shihan came to my dojo in Hiroshima and taught a seminar. He was a direct student of Ueshiba Morihei and recounted his experiences of O Sensei forbidding weapons training at the Hombu Dojo....."

I often look at these comments with a jaundiced eye.
This is from 1960
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piO3rBHHkfI&NR=1

I can think of any number of counters to that comment. He walked in and saw outrageous goings on and banned them. After his retirement he was known for telling students they were not doing HIS aikido. I can certainly see him walking in to hombu and seeing the shenanigans going on with "sticks in their hands" and summarily banning it. I weight that against the modern shihans comments you shared with us; something about telling some demonstration committee that "We should not do weapons in public displays, the more educated budo people will laugh at us."
Maybe the old man was just the first of the "more educated people" to see it…and he tried to stop it before it began!

I think there is as much confusion between what "practicing weapons" means to certain groups of people as what aiki means.

Next I was puzzled at this;
"Amdur's chapter should explain why this is the case—and why it is very difficult for the present Doshu to take any leadership here...."
I thought Ellis's book was meant to address the origins of Ueshiba's power; not kisshomaru's and Moriteru's decisions for disseminating the present art. If we were to be adding personal opinions and views, I would say a very large and separate work could be written about their political machinations, practices, and level of skill on display versus the founders.

I was also wondering why you used the term "the wheel has turned full circle" and "what we see in modern aikido are solely the "rather unrealistic disarming techniques", noted by Amdur at the beginning of the chapter."
Where did the wheel" start" to turn in order for the present state of affairs to return to it's origins? To ever return "full circle?" I saw the inception of aikido "from a weapon based form", coming from Takeda through Ueshiba. Your own comment "….that Ueshiba was doing Daito ryu through the early 40's" co-insides with every testament offered by his prewar deshi. So, if the wheel began as a more realistic weapons based art- then for it to be full circle, it would have to return to a real weapons based art. Instead, it has now flip-flopped to the movements the former and present Doshu demonstrate, which have nothing at all to do with Japan's weapons based arts that Ueshiba exposed himself to.

The wheel starting…..1;125 in to the video; Ueshiba with weapons. The approach is certainly more in keeping with koryu and largely devoid of much of the roundness and largely misunderstood "aiki sword" seen later
http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=yxxb2ctulEs&feature=related

Then we view both former and present doshu together
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1E3_CbqGj0

Moriteru with weapons today
http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=-3DLFCKdoOg&feature=related

A note on terminology.
I think it is a mistake to use language (intended or otherwise) to draw a corollary between Morihei's "training in weapons" to Moriteru's "training in weapons." Making a statement that the present Doshu is "Training in weapons" is not a statement or use of terminology that a more educated group of budo adepts would make, or an expert in koryu would be comfortable with-without some serious qualifiers-if at all.

I remain somewhat confused, (all while being delighted) to see the review taking a decidedly different turn than a typical book review. I think your comment that the book was something you wish you had written...might have something to do with it (insert wink). In any case I am enjoying your thought provoking comments.
So, I wonder if you could clear up what your position is on weapons in modern aikido V Ueshiba's aikido.
Regards
Dan

dps
07-05-2010, 02:40 PM
First up I wondered at this comment:
"At the beginning of the year, an 8th dan Hombu shihan came to my dojo in Hiroshima and taught a seminar. He was a direct student of Ueshiba Morihei and recounted his experiences of O Sensei forbidding weapons training at the Hombu Dojo....."

I often look at these comments with a jaundiced eye.
This is from 1960
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piO3rBHHkfI&NR=1

I can think of any number of counters to that comment. He walked in and saw outrageous goings on and banned them. After his retirement he was known for telling students they were not doing HIS aikido. I can certainly see him walking in to hombu and seeing the shenanigans going on with "sticks in their hands" and summarily banning it. I weight that against the modern shihans comments you shared with us; something about telling some demonstration committee that "We should not do weapons in public displays, the more educated budo people will laugh at us."
Maybe the old man was just the first of the "more educated people" to see it…and he tried to stop it before it began!



Or in line with what George Ledyard has said. O'sensei felt the students of Aikido were there to enpower the Avatar (O'Sensei).

Maybe he did not want anyone else to become another avatar.

David

Scott Harrington
07-13-2010, 03:18 PM
Mr. Goldsbury,

As always, a great TIE, with some neat stuff.

Trying to find more on Saigo Tanomo, I did a little checking. Here is a reference I received, unfortunately I do not have a near source or English translation. Perhaps you could give it a quick look (if you haven't already).

"A mainstream Japanese source to consult for Saigo Tanomo, and for many prominent retainers of Edo period domains, is the biographical encyclopedia Sanbyaku Han Kashin Jinmei Jiten."

The Tanomo 'link' is the fork in the road. Did Takeda Sokaku pick 'aiki' up on his own, distilling his father / family / observation or was there a line of teaching which came from Tanomo?

While many waza and training exercises could have easily been gathered; like evolution, did it need a progenitor or was (and is) it a spontaneous thing.

[ THIS IS NOT A REGLIGIOUS FLAME WAR THINGIE - DO NOT DRAW PICTURES OF UESHIBA]

Recent exposure to the barest minimal exercises (which confound me) seem to point to a structured system to develop 'aiki'.

Still researching the history side.

Scott Harrington

Peter Goldsbury
07-13-2010, 09:25 PM
Hello Scott,

I have been away in Australia, so have not had time to follow the recent contributions to this thread. With respect to Saigo Tanomo, I would like to see the hard evidence about what martial arts he was taught at the Nisshinkan and who taught him, especially the hard evidence that Takeda Soemon taught him. The 会津藩教育考 presents a history of this han school and lists all the teachers, but Takeda's name does not appear.

Best wishes,

PAG

DH
07-14-2010, 09:15 AM
Hello Scott,

I have been away in Australia, so have not had time to follow the recent contributions to this thread. With respect to Saigo Tanomo, I would like to see the hard evidence about what martial arts he was taught at the Nisshinkan and who taught him, especially the hard evidence that Takeda Soemon taught him. The 会津藩教育考 presents a history of this han school and lists all the teachers, but Takeda's name does not appear.

Best wishes,

PAG
I wonder how relevant that is, Peter. There were a lot of family arts. Are the family members all listed as members of a ryu?
Takeda stated it was taught to him, he stated it was a secret art. We are being asked to consider all manner of personality traits, latent abnormal tendencies, major phycological issues and serious character flaws. What does this educated forensic study have to say about why he would NOT take credit for something he made up?
Why did he NOT say he invented Daito ryu?
Why did he only call himself the general affairs director and not soke?
Why did he blatently state aiki was taught to him by Tanamo as an indoor art?

Again going back to oshiki-uchi
I have my own opinions about the ridiculous passing off and half ass treatment of oshiki-uchi as weird and improbable when it has very practical underpinnings. Why did this happen? Because the explanation for it by Tokimune (and only Tokimune) was ridiculous. We are left to wonder whether he lied (again with the lies) or he was simply uninformed, misinformed what have you. But no where in the many reviews did someone versed in the traditional Japanese koryu ever even consider the idea of an indoor teaching that was a a secret training to gain power in the arts that had not one thing to do with techniques and weapons but rather -how- to do them with aiki.

Knowing what I know of aiki, it is MORE than possible that this training was a separate training model entirely separate even wholly divorced from...any specific martial discipline and held within the clan or family.
Where do we see a precedent in recent times?
1. Sagawa taught Daito ryu for over sixty years we now know from his own admission the following
a) That he never taught the real truth of aiki until very late in his career.
b) Why? Takeda told him not to
c) What did he say about solo training? Not to talk about it. It was something you did on the side.

2. Tokimune and the Takumakai
We now know that when one of the teachers went to Tokimune he got solo training to create aiki. When he went back to show them, he stated the guys didn't want to do them- they wanted waza. When he went back to Tokimune-Tokimune said "Ya , my guys don't want to do them either."

3. We know that Tokimune, like Takeda openly stated that they were told to only teach one or two people the real art. yet that remains undefined.

4. Modern adepts
Anyone care to go out and feel/test/ examine the 2,000 or so modern practitioners of Daito ryu and see just how many have any real power that is unusual, instant and entrielty separate from any waza? Were you to do so I think you will find that nothing has changed from the above model

5. Yagyu Shingan ryu
We now know from the fellow who taught Ark, that the guys back at the ranch didn't care about learning the body skills. They looked at them as an adjunct to the art.

We see most of the prevous researchers and internet posters only looking for a training model as part of a martial ryu. Here again I go back to Takeda/Ueshiba.
We are being asked...hell we are being TOLD... to consider that Ueshiba- got his own secret or otherwise unknown, unproved, conditioning that was... an adjunct to his martial training, the likes of which produced no other persons of power, and no other mention,
Clarification: I am not saying whether he did or didn't, I am stating that it is interesting that the idea-totaly unproven was welcomed and embraced while we are being asked to consider that Takeda lied about something which indeed has precedent-a separate teaching held within the clan or family as an indoor teaching.

I recognize, some of these ideas may seem at odds with modern researchers and how they see the arts. It seems at least possible that Takeda was in fact telling the truth. It is a bit of a curiosity that in so many of the articles we are asked to take Ueshiba at face value, and with Takeda we begin with "Why Takeda probably lied." I would like to at least see some excellent writing, a discerning eye, and some research time spent on;
Why Takeda might have been telling the truth.
Whether it was his state of mind (again the forensic physcology) or his sense of correct morality that would not let him call himself soke?
Maybe he recognized that all of his effort, his exceptional skill, NEVER came from his study of classical weapons but was in owed to his study of aiki, which he was taught.

Cheers
Dan

MM
07-14-2010, 10:08 AM
If you look at Sagawa, Kodo, Ueshiba, and Takeda in their perspective outward physical expressions of the martial arts they chose, you find there are a myriad of outward physical differences. Internally, they all had aiki to some level.

Each one stated that aiki is formless. Aiki is making the opponent powerless. Ueshiba is quoted as stating, "I am aiki".

If you define aiki as a method of rebuilding a human body into a very martially effective human body, then everything that these giants of aiki have said becomes clear.

Going back to Takeda and why he never chose to be called soke, etc. It really is logical. Being the head of a system has quite a lot of responsibilities, including curriculum, ranking, and membership concerns. It is typically associated with a style or school of martial arts. And in that view, each style or school had some outward physical difference to set it apart, plus the differing principles of each one.

However, aiki transcends schools and styles. It is the base upon which the outward physical movements and the principles should be expressed. Aiki is integrated with rebuilding the human body and not with a martial principle or physical method as expressed by schools and systems.

In other words, Kito ryu is not Takenouchi ryu is not Yagyu Shingan ryu is not Itto ryu, etc. Anyone training in one can readily see the differences in the others. A trainee in one learns principles specific to that ryu. Sometimes those overlap and sometimes they are unique. Some ryu develop curriculum to negate other ryu. As has been noted by experienced people, being in more than one ryu is very tough.

But, aiki ... no matter what ryu, no matter what martial way, no matter what BJJ one does, it can all be done with or without aiki. One can learn YSR, stop, go learn Kito ryu, stop go learn BJJ, go learn whatever because "you are aiki". You/aiki is one and the same. As you do a martial art, you do so either with or without aiki.

How can anyone call themselves soke of aiki? IMO, it cannot be done.

Mark

DH
07-14-2010, 10:53 AM
Mark
None of those points are my concern here. They don't really discuss the issues of origins and the possibilities of Takeda being actually morally upstanding in a) crediting the true source and b) winding up being the possesser of definable skills that were never really a ryu per se, but were none the less a defined indoor teaching to which he gave credit.
By separating out his technical art specific studies from what could have Bernath family skill/teaching in aiki, we end up in a different direction.
It is at least a theory that joins several known facts into a reasonable, and cohesive explanation.
I guess I took exception to us having to look at internals studied within established arts; yagyu, yoshin ryu, then of all things Ueshiba studying a separate stand alone internal method....and did little to examine a theory that makes even more sense.
Dan

DH
07-14-2010, 01:18 PM
Clarification:
When I spoke of the previous treatment of oshiki-uchi I was referring to years of discussion, articles, and various forums
Dan

Peter Goldsbury
07-14-2010, 04:50 PM
Hello Dan,

Many thanks for the homework you have given me in Posts #83 and #87. I have the impression that you are taking me to task for not carrying out my TIE research in the same way that you would have done. The last three columns were never intended to be an exhaustive analysis of IT/IS. Rather, they were a critical analysis of Ellis's new book. Of course, IT/IS are important here, but if this were the primary focus, I think I would have written a different set of columns.

For example, Scott Harrington kindly sent me information about a work entitled Sanbyaku han kashin jinmei jiten. This is actually a massive 7-volume series covering the han of all 47 prefectures in modern Japan. The Japanese title is 三百藩家臣人名事典. I have not seen the information on Saigo Tanomo, so I am waiting till I have seen it, read it, thought about it, before commenting here. As it is, the Japanese evidence that I have seen so far concerning Saigo's alleged training and teaching in aiki is not convincing. So it supports what Ellis stated in his book.

I will respond to the points you made in Posts #83 and #87 as soon as I have the time.

Best wishes,

PAG

Scott Harrington
07-15-2010, 01:29 AM
It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that aiki (paraphrasing the great late Jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald)

You love that JAZZ. You have a degree in musicology; can name every black musician that ‘sold his soul at the crossroads' and have a collection of 78's played on tubes because that is the best sound. But you can't play a note on the trumpet, puncture the snare drum head, your scat singing scares the cat, and your left hand is unsynchopatic doing a steady boogie woogie. Hey, that's me about aiki. But I'm trying, Ringo. I'm trying real hard…

Ellis Amdur mentions that Takeda Sokaku could ‘riff' because of his aiki ability, free flowing from one lock to another as he felt that day, or hour, or moment. Well, that I believe.

BUT, he didn't create Jazz and he didn't create aiki. He didn't create scales, or minor chords, or the circle of fifths, didn't blend diverse driving rhythms or a host of subtle things that make that thing with the swing. So, just like the basics (and advance theory) of music need to be taught so do the basics (and advance theory) of aiki.

The trouble is where is the Aiki for Beginners 101? And why is Aikiology (History of Blending and Dominating throughout the pre-industrial Nipponese fascist femininininist-oppressing military society) hard to find?

1. Name. Let's stop looking for Aiki and start looking for in'yo. It's out there.

2. Heritage. If they say it comes from Kai Takeda and immigrated to Aizu then, then, then, look in those two places.

3. Box. Look outside the box. If Saigo Tanomo really taught in'yo (oh yeah, aiki) and he was THE HIGHEST ADVISOR and became a priest then maybe we should look at the people that teach a man like that.

4. Name. Oshi moshi guchi guch koo. The Secret Service guarding the President uses a wide range of techniques, many tightly held, to defend our Presidents. And a good part of their job is doing it while being polite (most of the time). Etiquette.

5. Research. Takeda Sokaku was illiterate (or left handed or dyslexic). So chances of written records are, are, are, SLIM. Look in the cracks. Look in odd places. Trust (with a Big rock of salt) things Takeda Sokaku said.

6. Doing. Reverse engineering sometimes works (it also copies mistakes -- ALWAYS.)

7. Hi-tech. As I get older there are more strange things that I cannot explain. So what. Use what works, get what works explained to you, repeat as necessary. Improve. Some of it will be way out there. Tough.

There are some out there walking the path, showing methodology. Let's use history to back them up.

So, who wants to translate some stuff? I got some stuff. Mr. Goldsbury is doing all the heavy lifting here. Should I send it to him? And I want credit for finding it. And I want to see ALL of the translation.

Scott Harrington

DH
07-15-2010, 10:06 AM
Hello Dan,

Many thanks for the homework you have given me in Posts #83 and #87. I have the impression that you are taking me to task for not carrying out my TIE research in the same way that you would have done. The last three columns were never intended to be an exhaustive analysis of IT/IS. Rather, they were a critical analysis of Ellis's new book. Of course, IT/IS are important here, but if this were the primary focus, I think I would have written a different set of columns.

For example, Scott Harrington kindly sent me information about a work entitled Sanbyaku han kashin jinmei jiten. This is actually a massive 7-volume series covering the han of all 47 prefectures in modern Japan. The Japanese title is 三百藩家臣人名事典. I have not seen the information on Saigo Tanomo, so I am waiting till I have seen it, read it, thought about it, before commenting here. As it is, the Japanese evidence that I have seen so far concerning Saigo's alleged training and teaching in aiki is not convincing. So it supports what Ellis stated in his book.

I will respond to the points you made in Posts #83 and #87 as soon as I have the time.

Best wishes,

PAG

Hello Peter
Taking you to task? Heaven forbid. No sir,
I have expressed an opinion that your review went past the nature of a book review and placed expectations on the work of a level that Ellis never intended. I though he was quite clear that he wished it to be a spring board to open up new avenues of research to those who might wish to pursue it more thoroughly and had the means to do so. .It is worth consideration that Ellis continues to pursue and research past publication and continues to discover new material. So taking you to task for not doing more research would be counter productive to my point.

A few things in regards to IT/IS:
I never expected your review to cover IT/IS. You made a decision to go beyond a book review and bring up points of your own regarding that topic. For that reason I engaged some of the points you raised, such as a) weapons and what real weapons training could have played and b) under what system and why they may or may not have nothing at all to do with the subject of IT in Takeda's training.

I think it is worth consideration that Ellis can bring certain understanding as a martial artists to areas of research that researchers reviewing the martial arts...cannot. Also due to certain people that Ellis has trained with; he now has a different understanding of certain things to look for. If it were not for that exposure there would b a shism, an impasse that could very well let otherwise pertinent material pass by a researchers eyes. I will not go into details but Ellis can certainly tell you that this is undeniably true.

This bring me to Tanamo. For me, someone stating that the lack of known evidence of his training in complete Koryu arts, as evidence of him not knowing aiki or teaching it to Takeda is meaningless. I am looking for other predicators. To most people researching the subject, they cannot think of other possibilities beside immersion in a total martial system and subsequant grading evidence. I am not talking a position yet either way, but in light of the other material I previously brought up, and in a comical twist; using both of your arguments, it should be looked into, It is worth considering that there may be a dual topic that needs to be researched; stand alone aiki training, divorced from an established ryu ha.. This makes Takeda's statement "He taught me aiki!" not only true, but intriguing.
Again, Ellis thought it interesting that Tanamo had Chinese ties and evidence of Chinese martial training.
Recent events and contact with master level Chinese teachers continue to convince me there is a connection between the Aiki of DR and the internal arts of China.
Cheers
Dan.

.

Peter Goldsbury
07-15-2010, 10:26 AM
Hello Dan,

Here are some clarifications / explanations of the quote discussed in your Post #83.

Best wishes,

PAG

---------------------------------------------

QUOTE: "At the beginning of the year, an 8th dan Hombu shihan came to my dojo in Hiroshima and taught a seminar. He was a direct student of Ueshiba Morihei and recounted his experiences of O Sensei forbidding weapons training at the Hombu Dojo."

COMMENT: The shihan simply recounted his experiences, as he remembered them when he was a deshi. He stated that O Sensei did not like people practising with weapons in the Tokyo Hombu Dojo. However, against this, he stated that Saito Morihiro Shihan used to teach Sunday classes at the Tokyo Hombu--and that he quietly taught weapons. There was a lookout posted, so that if O Sensei was in Tokyo and chanced to approach the dojo, the weapons would disappear.

QUOTE: "The shihan used a weapon only once or twice, merely to explain an important principle concerning empty-handed training. I think that the principles he did illustrate could be summed up in the four axioms of ki training, as set out by Tohei Koichi, even though the shihan did not mention the word ki even once. Other aikido shihans I know have quietly developed their own weapons kata, even those shihans who are not well known as possessing the expertise in weapons of a Nishio Shoji, or shihans who never publicly profess to use weapons. Even the shihan who has gone on public record that aikido does not have weapons training had previously become expert in the family sword art, learned at the hands of his father."

COMMENT: Koichi Tohei also taught weapons, both in Iwama, when he was there, and at the Tokyo Hombu. In a recent Aikido Journal blog, Stan Pranin presents a note of a meeting between Saito and Tohei and Saito notes that Tohei was in Iwama when he started training in 1946. According to Kisshomaru, O Sensei started serious aiki-ken training around 1945, so it is beyond question that Tohei would have participated in this training during the time he was in Iwama. So there was quite a lot of quiet, even secret, weapons training among Tokyo Hombu shihans, some of which was buttressed by expertise in family arts that were entirely closed to outsiders.

QUOTE: "Amdur's chapter should explain why this is the case—and why it is very difficult for the present Doshu to take any leadership here."

COMMENT: Amdur's chapter explains why weapons training and teaching in aikido was piecemeal. O Sensei taught deshi such as Tomiki, Shirata, Nakakura, Hikitsuchi, Sunadomari and Saito, and appears to have tailored his teaching of weapons according to the perceived needs of each. Given such teaching, each disciple transmitted the teaching as he received it. Recently, I encountered a certain jo kata I had not seen before and was told that the shihan had been directly shown by O Sensei--and the kata was transmitted as such.
The present Doshu was not taught such weapons systems by his grandfather or by his father and it would not be possible, given his status as Doshu, to be taught formally by anyone except his father. So it is very difficult for him to take any leadership concerning the teaching of weapons--and since Saito Sensei has passed away, the direct connection with O Sensei has been lost in Iwama, also.

QUOTE: "Nevertheless, it is clear that Ueshiba Moriteru is indeed moving to make the weapons practice he performs in his aikido demonstrations—tachi dori, jo dori, tanto dori, which are also required for Aikikai dan examinations—a kind of standard for the future."

COMMENT: I do not know why the Aikikai omitted kumi-tachi, kumi-jo and jo-ken relationships from the staple of Hombu training (since each shihan I know quietly teaches these). I suspect that Kisshomaru and his colleagues accepted O Sensei's own alleged comments to the effect that weapons training had indeed been an essential part of his own path to enlightenment, but, since he was regarded by everyone as an an avatar, it was not a requirement for those who followed him.

QUOTE: "The result is the likelihood that the weapons training so rigorously pursued by his grandfather is relegated to the ‘Museum of Aikido Historical Relics'."

COMMENT: This is not just a likelihood. The fact that many deshi were told by O Sensei (towards the end of his life) that weapons training was not essential to aikido has encouraged the Aikikai to believe that serious weapons training (not the tachi-dori stuff, but the sort actually practiced by O Sensei himself at various stages of his life) is not necessary for acquiring proficiency in aikido. My own teacher in Hiroshima, for example, stopped teaching weapons training in our dojo because he accepted O Sensei's alleged statements that such training was not necessary to acquire mastery of aikido waza.

QUOTE: "So the wheel has turned full circle and what we see in modern aikido are solely the "rather unrealistic disarming techniques", noted by Amdur at the beginning of the chapter."

COMMENT: As I stated elsewhere, this is a book review, not a thesis about IS/IT. Ellis begins his chapter with a reference to "rather unrealistic disarming techniques" and I conclude my review with a similar reference to the "rather unrealistic disarming techniques", currently regarded as the staple weapons practice in the Aikikai Hombu. So I think the wheel metaphor is quite apt.

Peter Goldsbury
07-16-2010, 04:05 AM
Trying to find more on Saigo Tanomo, I did a little checking. Here is a reference I received, unfortunately I do not have a near source or English translation. Perhaps you could give it a quick look (if you haven't already).

"A mainstream Japanese source to consult for Saigo Tanomo, and for many prominent retainers of Edo period domains, is the biographical encyclopedia Sanbyaku Han Kashin Jinmei Jiten.

Scott Harrington

Hello Scott,

I have looked at this work. The Aizu han is dealt with at the beginning of Volume 2, pp. 7-112. The biography of Saigo Tanomo occupies just over two columns on pp. 41-42. There is no mention of his education in the Nisshinkan, nor any mention of his learning Onyodo at the hands of Takeda Soemon, who is not listed in the work.

Best wishes,

PAG

Carl Thompson
07-16-2010, 06:01 PM
and since Saito Sensei has passed away, the direct connection with O Sensei has been lost in Iwama, also.

What of the other direct students of Osensei in Iwama?

Peter Goldsbury
07-16-2010, 09:55 PM
What of the other direct students of Osensei in Iwama?

Hello Carl,

Yes, of course, there are still direct students of the Founder training in Iwama, as there are at the Tokyo Hombu (separate from the senior shihans like Hiroshi Tada).

I have stated before that the iemoto transmission in aikido was skewed by the fact of two major centres of aikido, not one, and these major centres can be summed up by two names: Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Morihiro Saito. Both have gone on record as being the direct 'transmitters' of the Founder's aikiido.

However, since the death of Saito Morihiro Shihan, major changes have occurred in Iwama. The name has disappeared and 'Ibaragi Shibu' somehow does not convey the past magic of 'Iwama'. The other major direct student of O Sensei, Hiroshi Isoyama, has been very careful to maintain an extremely low profile indeed and he is not noted for ever teaching the aiki-ken and aiki-jo for which Iwama is famous, even though he may have learned this.

So it can be stated that the aberration in the iemoto transmission has been corrected and the dojo in Kasama is now clearly seen to be under the direct control of the Ueshiba family and the Aikikai. Of course, it always was under such control, but Kisshomaru Ueshiba never made any attempt to step on Saito Sensei's toes, to to speak.

Best wishes,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
07-17-2010, 09:35 AM
Hello Dan,

Re Saigo Tanomo / Hoshina Chikanori

The first doubts cast on the received opinion that Saigo Tanomo was Takeda Sokaku's Daito-ryu / aiki teacher were cast by Stanley Pranin. The discussion is on pp. 21-22 of Stan's book Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu. Stan makes the point that:

"Hoshina scholars have, however, found no evidence of Chikanori having undergone any extensive martial arts training or having taught such arts. Had Chikanori been a skilled martial artist in his own right, surely some records of his talents and exploits would have survivied."

I do not know how many Japanese sources Stan looked at, but all the Japanese evidence I have seen so far supports Stan's statements. There is no evidence that Takeda Soemon ever taught in the Nisshinkan and there is no evidence that Saigo Tanomo was known in Aizu as a martial artist. In fact, the book cited by Scott Harrington is quite telling here. The encyclopedic dictionary Scott refers to lists all the samurai in the Aizu domain during the Tokugawa era. Kurokochi Kanenori, whose daughter married Takeda Sokichi, is listed and the entire biography is concerned with his skills as a martial arts expert. Saigo Tanomo / Hoshina Chikanori is also listed, but there is no reference at all to his martial skills.

This view is supported by Sagawa Yukiyoshi, if we accept that what is recorded on pp. 119-120 of Transparent Power is true. Sagawa states quite clearly that,

"It's said that Aiki was transmitted to Takeda Sensei by Hoshina/Saigo Sensei, although I believe that it was actually Takeda Sensei who created it."

Sagawa does not accuse Takeda of lying, but, equally, he is clear that he does not believe that Saigo taught Takeda aiki skills.

It remains to consider whether Saigo learned some secret ( = totally unrecorded) family martial art, separate from his training at the Nisshinkan, which would have given him aiki skills. In this respect my research is continuing.

Best wishes,

PAG

Carl Thompson
07-17-2010, 06:36 PM
Hello Carl,

Yes, of course, there are still direct students of the Founder training in Iwama, as there are at the Tokyo Hombu (separate from the senior shihans like Hiroshi Tada).

I have stated before that the iemoto transmission in aikido was skewed by the fact of two major centres of aikido, not one, and these major centres can be summed up by two names: Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Morihiro Saito. Both have gone on record as being the direct 'transmitters' of the Founder's aikiido.

However, since the death of Saito Morihiro Shihan, major changes have occurred in Iwama. The name has disappeared and 'Ibaragi Shibu' somehow does not convey the past magic of 'Iwama'. The other major direct student of O Sensei, Hiroshi Isoyama, has been very careful to maintain an extremely low profile indeed and he is not noted for ever teaching the aiki-ken and aiki-jo for which Iwama is famous, even though he may have learned this.

So it can be stated that the aberration in the iemoto transmission has been corrected and the dojo in Kasama is now clearly seen to be under the direct control of the Ueshiba family and the Aikikai. Of course, it always was under such control, but Kisshomaru Ueshiba never made any attempt to step on Saito Sensei's toes, to to speak.

Best wishes,

PAG

Thanks for the clarification professor. I have been reading your columns with interest.

In the wake of the passing of a giant like Saito Shihan, I think it is easy to overlook some things. Isoyama Shihan has gone on record (http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=102)regarding weapons and the kyu-Iwama shihans have all included weapons in their embu at the All Japan Aikido Demonstration. These days it seems that the emphasis is on solidarity, with the art at the forefront rather than any particular teacher of it. But at the same time, the recent addition of a big statue of Osensei (http://www13.big.or.jp/~aikikai/e_new2009.html) at the Aiki-Shrine, largely due to the efforts of Isoyama Shihan, could hardly be described as keeping a low profile. Solidarity was the key to that project with Tada Shihan also playing an important role. I would say that Isoyama Shihan simply has his own style and having met him, I'm sure you realised he is hardly a shrinking violet.

Perhaps a trip to Old-Iwama would be of benefit to your research?

Peter Goldsbury
07-17-2010, 09:29 PM
Hello Carl,

Ah, I see I have stirred up the beginnings of a hornets' nest.

First, I have known Isoyama Shihan for many years and have had many conversations with him that have never entered the public record. In the Aikido Journal interview Isoyama Shihan talked largely of tanto-dori, tachi-dori and jo-dori, which are featured in all the demonstrations given by the present Doshu that I have seen so far.

Of course, I do not deny that weapons training still goes on in the Ibraragi Shibu Dojo and I am quite happy about this, After all, I practise and teach it myself in my own dojo here.

My point is that O Sensei's weapons training in Iwama has largely been associated with Saito Morihiro Sensei and this is why he receives attention in Ellis's book. The weapons training in Shingu and Kumamoto was different to what was going on in Iwama and Saito Sensei devoted his life to maintaining and nurturing what he had been taught in by O Sensei in Iwama. I suspect that 'Iwama no kokoro', to adapt a phrase that is often used here, is being kept alive largely by Hitohiro Saito, who is devoting himself to maintaining and nurturing the legacy he inherited from his father.

As for the statue, well, there is an ura aspect to this whole project, as well as the omote that you see. For me, it is notable that O Sensei is not depicted holding a weapon, like a sword or staff. He just stands there on his plinth, like a shrine guardian.

Best wishes,

PAG

Carl Thompson
07-18-2010, 02:20 AM
Hello professor
Ah, I see I have stirred up the beginnings of a hornets' nest.
I hope not. And you're going to have to poke your stick in here eventually aren't you? ;)

I for one am only interested in adding what little I can to these high level discussions. A lot of what is currently available online about Iwama came about from rumours, suspicions and imagined conversations, usually from people with little direct connection to the situation being described. My experience of living in Iwama and training in the old dojo has contrasted sharply with that.

As for the statue, well, there is an ura aspect to this whole project, as well as the omote that you see. For me, it is notable that O Sensei is not depicted holding a weapon, like a sword or staff. He just stands there on his plinth, like a shrine guardian.

I'd say consider the statue in Tanabe. Osensei is depicted in action and many people accept this omote image of the founder and have their miniatures of it even though their ura view is that osensei's hips are dead. Had he been shown with a weapon, would he have been in a posture as taught by Tada Shihan or Nishio? I think even a classic Iwama hito-e-mi with a ken would have divided people, even within Iwama over its accuracy. The "guardian" posture represents a perfectly polite tatemae behind which all the different views of aikido can politely assemble without arguing about who is correct.

I think there have nevertheless been a number of concessions to Iwama regarding the statue and I suspect that it was the number of last-minute drafts and re-drafts that contributed to the spelling mistake on the English side.

Also, I agree that the various sensei's choices of [I]embu[/I represent a diplomatic omote in that they tend to cover the more common ground of bukidori rather than going into paired weapons practice.

Peter Goldsbury
07-18-2010, 02:40 AM
I think there have nevertheless been a number of concessions to Iwama regarding the statue and I suspect that it was the number of last-minute drafts and re-drafts that contributed to the spelling mistake on the English side.

Hello Carl,

I was involved in the English translation. On my return from Europe I found an e-mail waiting for me from Isoyama Shihan with a Japanese text and an English translation. I made about fifty corrections, but I was later told by Doshu that the corrections arrived too late to be used. I was somewhat disappointed by the slap-dash nature of the whole operation, for if you are going to add an English translation to a monument, it had better be correct and idiomatic.

PAG

Carl Thompson
07-18-2010, 05:04 AM
Good evening professor and thanks for your continued responses to my comments today.

I think the wording and translation was overwrought rather than slapdash. Many people were asked to check the main text but the line in which the error occurs was added last-minute. On the whole, despite that relatively minor glitch, I think it is a fantastic symbol of the different Shihan working together and publicly acknowledging the founder’s time in Iwama.

Kind regards

Carl

Peter Goldsbury
07-18-2010, 08:42 AM
Hello Dan,

A few more comments, questions about a couple pf points in Post #89


Again going back to oshiki-uchi
I have my own opinions about the ridiculous passing off and half ass treatment of oshiki-uchi as weird and improbable when it has very practical underpinnings. Why did this happen? Because the explanation for it by Tokimune (and only Tokimune) was ridiculous. We are left to wonder whether he lied (again with the lies) or he was simply uninformed, misinformed what have you. But no where in the many reviews did someone versed in the traditional Japanese koryu ever even consider the idea of an indoor teaching that was a a secret training to gain power in the arts that had not one thing to do with techniques and weapons but rather -how- to do them with aiki.
PAG. The question then would be: what was the content and manner of Saigo Tanomo's mastering of aiki? The latest publication on Saigo Tanomo I have acquired is another memoir, begun by Tanomo late when he was 70 years of age. Again edited by Setsuo Hotta, the title is: 『帰る雁が祢』私法: Notes on "The Returning Wild Goose as a Shrine Priest". Saigo began writing this memoir the year after he was visited by Takeda Sokaku. This visit lasted from May 12 to May 26.

Knowing what I know of aiki, it is MORE than possible that this training was a separate training model entirely separate even wholly divorced from...any specific martial discipline and held within the clan or family.
Where do we see a precedent in recent times?
1. Sagawa taught Daito ryu for over sixty years we now know from his own admission the following
a) That he never taught the real truth of aiki until very late in his career.
b) Why? Takeda told him not to
c) What did he say about solo training? Not to talk about it. It was something you did on the side.
PAG. There might well be a recent precedent, but we are still left with the problem of the nature of the training model and this is why I devoted some space to a discussion of Takeda's teachers. Kurokochi Kanenori is an interesting case here, because we know that he was a martial artist held in awe by his contemporaries, that he taught in the Nisshinkan, and we also know what he taught. Did he have a training model for aiki, which he communicated to Sokichi?

Best wishes,

PAG

DH
07-18-2010, 02:29 PM
Hello Dan,

A few more comments, questions about a couple pf points in Post #89

PAG. The question then would be: what was the content and manner of Saigo Tanomo's mastering of aiki? The latest publication on Saigo Tanomo I have acquired is another memoir, begun by Tanomo late when he was 70 years of age. Again edited by Setsuo Hotta, the title is: 『帰る雁が祢』私法: Notes on "The Returning Wild Goose as a Shrine Priest". Saigo began writing this memoir the year after he was visited by Takeda Sokaku. This visit lasted from May 12 to May 26.

PAG. There might well be a recent precedent, but we are still left with the problem of the nature of the training model and this is why I devoted some space to a discussion of Takeda's teachers. Kurokochi Kanenori is an interesting case here, because we know that he was a martial artist held in awe by his contemporaries, that he taught in the Nisshinkan, and we also know what he taught. Did he have a training model for aiki, which he communicated to Sokichi?

Best wishes,

PAG
Hello Peter
Again I see you reverting to the balance of your comments looking at extant martial arts listings regarding Tanamos ability to have taught Takeda aiki. I am trying to stress something different for you to consider. That the “nature of his aiki training”- that I am trying to discuss here might be outside of the extant arts. Therefore, we might not find evidence in tradtional listing in martial arts; be it sword, spear, what have you and searching for Tanamos presence and ranking in them. Stan, Ellis and you cannot find anything. When you don’t you all go back to the search in Martial arts. Forgive me, but I already knew that going in to the discussion. It's not new information. Done and done.

Can we move on to another possibility?
Solo body training outside of any existing martial system?
Now that we have established no lineage; begin a search outside of established martial arts. I went down this road with Eliis, and now I am asking you, to consider alternates. Ellis did in his book. I think that were you more versed in the material I am discussing it would help you to understand the very real possibilities of another explanation, such as Ellis is looking at. Though he came up with little, the little he did come up with is because he now has a deeper understanding and his eyes were opened to another possibility; IP/ aiki outside of established arts.

I referenced many different forms of these in my previous post, so I will not repeat them here. However, if we are going to have a discussion I think it best that those points are addressed in some manner before we continue as they are pertinent to the discussion in many ways and could explain much.

Anyway, back to Tanamo / Takeda
With the backdrop I addressed in previous posts about solo training in various other arts; modern example of solo training that went ignored within Diato ryu itself, Misogi power building exercises completetly outside of any ryu etc.,
With Takeda, it is interesting that he spoke about martial arts often in various interviews. But when he discusses Tanamo Saigo, only two key points are raised.
That Tanamo told him to put down the sword, and teach empty hand arts, and that Tanamo taught him Aiki.
He was very clear. We have no other evidence suggesting he was a dishonest man either. Why did he himself differentiate?
Why did he not call himself soke like so many others before him when they had an enlightenment?
Why did Tanamo have something called oshiki-uchi in the first place?
Was is made up be him as a repository for his own solo power training he wished to pass on, or was it something shared with Takeda’s father as well, or even with a family or clan?
Knowing what is now known and more accepted about these skills it certainly could explain their reputations when used within the martial arts.
It might be fruitful to explore others for unusual power that might be related.

Regarding Tanamo’s admonitions about sword and empty hand.
There is a very clear relationship from sword and spear to empty hand in regards to aiki if you know what to look for. I have seen certain things demonstrated where men with decades of experience in the classical arts did not have a clue how to explain what just happened to them. Same thing happened in switching to empty hand. Nor could they replicate it. This understanding I am talking about did not come from an exhaustive mastery of several different classical arts either noe would a research project of any kind come up with the “correct” answer.

Modern examples
I will add to that there are dozens of teachers with decades of experience in an myriad of established arts out learning aiki from others with few credentials and they are totally stumped on how to stop what is happening and cannot explain it. To me that offers yet another modern explanation for Tanamo /Takeda. How is that? Lets consider, that twenty years from now were some one to interview these modern teachers and ask what they did in their careers, I think you would here some very similar comments to what Takeda said.
They would talk about various teachers in established arts teaching them aikido, or Daito ryu or Karate. Talk about waza and such, and then they could curiously switch and say..."I have to thank _____________________ for teaching me aiki."
Why can I say that?
I have heard it from the lips of men with many decades of experience who would in fact be found at the top of your “search into various lists of rank in the established martial arts.”
And were our future interviewer (in our contemporary example to match the Tanamo anomaly) were to go and research the current " names" out there who were teaching IP/aiki to the men we would be interviewing? how many are going to show up on a list of established arts with high ranks in anything. Yet here they would be; credited for teaching a skill that was changing the entire careers of those established artists you were interviewing.

There you would have yet another present and future example of the same dilemma we see in looking at Tanamo/ Takeda.

Last, curiously when Ueshiba talks about Takeda he talks about "having his eyes opened to true budo"..and he never talks about an incredible array of waza, and when he talks about weapons he talks about them outside of established arts and only talks about aiki.

I don't mind reading and considering the discipline of historical research. I have just seen it reach erroneous conclusions many times. I suggest there may be reasons that Takeda was actually telling the truth. And that the truth has a basis in fact that researchers didn't ever consider pursuing because they didn't even know how to consider the nature of a subject matter that he could have been talking about in the first place.
I am equally aware that it might prove to be a very difficult matter to pursue, but in keeping with Ellis original intentions -to entice others with more information and means to do further research in this area-you might the first step in opening up other possible research avenues to that end.
You have IP/aiki training as separate training, the possibiltiy of Misogi, solo training within Yagyu, and Sagawa himself retaining outside of his own teachings etc..
Cheers
Dan

DH
07-18-2010, 06:27 PM
Just reading this now after rushing through it before making dinner. My apologies for the poor syntax and spelling errors.

I had an aquantence give me some advice. He said "For some people they see writing as seriously as I see my own budo, and that I need to treat this medium accordingly, or at least as I would any professional correspondance." In other words, slow down and at least review before pushing the button. Good advice, which I need to start to follow.:rolleyes:
Apologies
Dan

Peter Goldsbury
07-18-2010, 08:32 PM
Hello Dan,

Many thanks for the detailed response.

Actually, I believed that Ellis was at least attempting to do in HIPS what you suggest, though I think he had no choice but to look at existing schools and figures. He starts off with a basic definition of IP/IS, looks at Chinese origins and possible influences on Japan and then searches for evidence of IP/IS in the skills & thinking of Takeda Sokichi, Takeda Sokaku and Ueshiba Morihei. You have 'three lives', here, but It seems to me that there is no basic requirement that these skills are tied to any particular sword or body art.

What you do have to do in any case, however, is look at the evidence and it is quite possible that this evidence is completely skewed: that the teachers and contemporaries of these three people had no clue at all about IS/IP and therefore did not describe their respective skills in these terms.

Actually, I believe Kurokochi Kanenori and Saigo Tanomo are two very good examples for a martial arts historian to look at. Perhaps Saigo Takamori and Sakamoto Ryoma, as well. Their lives are reasonably well documented and they also left letters and records, but their lives have never been examined with any IS/IP model in mind. The Boshin War and the siege of Aizu-Wakamatsu are good examples of a real war, involving samurai fighting, where the display of IP/IS would have been crucial. There are copious records and the wars were recent enough for real memories to remain among living descendants. So it is quite possible that Takeda Sokaku was telling the truth about Saigo Tanomo.

Best wishes,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
07-19-2010, 09:57 AM
Good evening professor and thanks for your continued responses to my comments today.

I think the wording and translation was overwrought rather than slapdash. Many people were asked to check the main text but the line in which the error occurs was added last-minute. On the whole, despite that relatively minor glitch, I think it is a fantastic symbol of the different Shihan working together and publicly acknowledging the founder’s time in Iwama.

Kind regards

Carl

Hello Carl,

I have not visited Iwama recently, so have yet to see the statue and the translation, but all the other cases I have encountered like this were of 'translation-by-committee', with no native-speakers actually involved as members. Actually, your comment that 'many people were asked to check the main text' is quite telling. Why were so many checks necessary, when the judgments and intuitions of one native speaker would have been quite enough?

I know the person who did the main translation and he also did his own native checks. When I became involved, the translation had already been changed, as I found out from the translator, who was quite upset when he found out that his translation had been changed and that I was involved. Both his translation skills and his good faith had been called into question.

Of course, this is no big deal and does not really affect the main thrust of this thread--other than highlighting the major problems involved of making 'official' translations from Japanese of texts like O Sensei's discourses.

Best wishes,

PAG

Carl Thompson
07-22-2010, 06:27 PM
You have my apologies for a slightly delayed (and jetlagged) response to this.
Actually, your comment that 'many people were asked to check the main text' is quite telling. Why were so many checks necessary, when the judgments and intuitions of one native speaker would have been quite enough?
I mentioned that because I thought it told of how everyone's opinions seemed to be important. Referring back to my earlier point regarding Osensei's posture, I should think the combined effort that went into the wording on the plaque was appropriate to the statue's purpose. The same would go for the English version which we know can be strongly influenced by whoever translated it.
Of course, this is no big deal and does not really affect the main thrust of this thread--other than highlighting the major problems involved of making 'official' translations from Japanese of texts like O Sensei's discourses.
This diversion in the thread came about from my suggestion that the link to Osensei in Iwama has not been lost. Isoyama Shihan is just one sensei with twenty years under the founder and regardless of whether or not we think things like erecting statues (whether slapdash or considerately) and demonstrations before the Emperor etc constitute keeping a low profile, we could also argue about the necessity of a high profile to have a link to Osensei. Then we could do the same with the next shihan on the list and so on right down to the unknown yondans and godans with "only" five or so years with the founder.

That is something I think is telling.

Peter Goldsbury
07-29-2010, 09:14 AM
Hello Carl,

And you have my apologies for a delayed response, due to various reasons, like examinations at the end of the university term, preparations for the summer etc.

I do not want to give the impression that Iwama was special, in regard to the 'break' with O Sensei. The Hombu Dojo in Tokyo had the same problem. I think there are three levels here: (1) the actual, hands-on, contact that the very senior, prima-donna, deshi had with Morihei Ueshiba; (2) the contact that the other students had with O Sensei; (3) the 'political' issues concerning Iwama and Tokyo.

With respect to the first level, the prima donna were Saito and Kisshomaru. With the death of both, the contact was broken, but it was maintained in Tokyo far more clearly than in Iwama.

With respect to the second level, you are clearly correct. In the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, as in the Iwama Dojo, there are still many people training who had lengthy direct contact with O Sensei.

The third level is less clear. It seems to me that Saito Sensei supported the iemoto model, when it came down to deciding who should be the next Doshu. If you compare Saito Sensei and Tohei Sensei, there is evidence that Tohei was at least an extremely powerful candidate for the position of Doshu. This possibility was not entertained, as far as I know, with Saito Sensei, who always had the position of caretaker of the Aiki Shrine, on behalf of O Sensei. He continued to have this position after O Sensei's death.

However, I am thinking more in terms of the strong but varying personal relationships developed by O Sensei with his prime students, especially as concerned weapons training. I think this a major point made by Ellis in HIPS. There was Hikitsuchi in Shingu and Saito in Iwama. When both O Sensei and Saito Sensei passed away, this link, inevitably, was lost.

Best wishes,

PAG

Carl Thompson
07-30-2010, 01:56 PM
And you have my apologies for a delayed response, due to various reasons, like examinations at the end of the university term, preparations for the summer etc.

Thank you for taking the time reply when you're so busy Professor.

I think I have a clearer picture of where you are coming from now. I've also been occupied on a business trip in our native UK, hence the jetlag earlier and a short reply this time.

I hope you get some time to enjoy yourself over the summer

Carl

Keith Larman
11-12-2010, 02:18 PM
Hello Keith,

Your post leads to an observation and a question.

I am sorry, I completely missed this post. I was rereading the TIE article once again and noticed this as I reread the comments. All apologies.

First, the observation. Ellis never used the term Outliers in his book. He used it in a thread somewhere else in Aikiweb. I had not really thought much about the 'mechanics' of genius, but I read the book and realized that the 10,000 hours factor was crucial to aikido.

The strictly statistical use of outliers does not really work in aikido, because there is no objective basis on which to ground the statistical aberration. I do not see how you can talk of outliers in aikido in the absence of clear statistical data about how the 'inliers' actually train.

Thus I am inclined to think that the use of the term in relation to Takeda and Ueshiba is not--cannot be--statistically based.

You are absolutely correct. My discussion of outliers above started as an understanding of it as a term used by statisticians to convey that it wasn't a term used with any sort of positive/negative connotation. We start with that as a strict meaning but then the word is also used more loosely in statistics to refer to those things that seem to defy the trend. So it doesn't always have a strict meaning. In a strict definition of outliers as a statistical phenomena I cannot even begin to imagine how one would attempt to quantify it in the context of Aikido. But I would say you would also have the same problem quantifying what made the Beatles outliers compared to their contemporaries. Or Bill Gates (although the number of digits in his savings account is probably a good start). In the end what we have to go on are the accounts of others or some sort of external criterion. So strictly we call an outlier that which lies outside the general data trend. Basically any datapoint that deviates significantly from the rest of the data. I think the usage in terms of people is with respect to performance or abilities or achievements that seem to deviate so markedly that one cannot help but notice. They are simply put different from the rest.

Secondly, the question. I mentioned in the TIE column that I believed Gladwell had been uncritical about the research of Geert Hofstede. However, I would be interested to hear more about your own reservations about Gladwell's research or putative results.

Best wishes,

PAG

I am not deeply familiar with Geert Hofstede. He is (was?) the sociologist with the theory of cultural dimensions, right? Not something I studied.

My personal "discomfort" with Gladwell's work is more along the lines of him selectively choosing examples to make his case. He is cherry picking those examples that support the thesis. I've read each of his books although I'll admit my reading of outliers was done quickly. Now that we're having this discussion I'll probably find myself rereading it this weekend with a more critical mind.

Let me think of another "great" in history.

Louis Armstrong (a hero of mine -- I love jazz) didn't touch a musical instrument until he was 11, certainly a lot later than most people who grow up to be top notch musicians. Much of his early life was filled with difficulty, work, pain, legal entanglements, death, and certainly not a lot of time to train correctly. And yet he became one of the great pioneers of jazz music, recognized as such even as a young man. 10,000 hours? Maybe. But there had to be hundreds of others with easier paths who started earlier, worked harder who didn't have the slightest impact on the music world. And that raises the other problem. When you look at data like this you look at those who succeed then "wind the clock backwards" trying to figure out how they got there. What you don't see are the 999 other people who may have done nearly the same exact thing who didn't succeed. So we're trying to generalize about what makes for "success" based on outliers. Yet the same approach likely failed on 999 other people. We just don't hear about them because they never succeeded. Do we really want to adopt that as our training method? Didn't work very well for virtually everyone else...

Anyway, there is the relevant point of the 10,000 hour rule. That's actually Dr. Anders Ericsson's thesis from some of his work about "deliberative" practice necessary for expertise. And few doubt that he has a very good point in his thesis. But this 10,000 hours is but one hurdle. And how we go about it is important. As are the opportunities that arise that allow us to continue. As are a thousand other things.

But once we get past the notion of 10,000 hours we still have to ask if that is really what separates someone like a Ueshiba from others? I don't think that is necessarily the case. We used to produce an aptitude for programming test. They'd learn a simple programming language and have to apply it to increasingly complex problems. There were a couple problems near the end of the test that weren't terribly difficult and the "usual" solution took about 10 steps. However, there was another way to use the language to solve the problem that had not been demonstrated that required an insight from the test taker. That solution was seen maybe once in 1000 tests given. It was an elegant solution. I never saw anyone come up with that solution who didn't also ace the test. When I'd see that solution I would be reminded of a quote I read once about Richard Feynman. I can't remember the exact quote, but it ran something like this. Feynman was a genius, but not a genius in the usual sense. Most geniuses are like the rest of us, but just a bit faster, a bit smarter. He was different. He was like a magician. He'd know the right answer without knowing how or why.

We are all different in many ways. We bring our own aptitudes and deficiencies to the table with us. Some things can be fixed, some cannot. I firmly believe in treating people equally but that is the correct moral/ethical stance. But it does not follow that people are equally skilled and equally imbued with aptitude for every possible task.

The bottom line is that I think he glossed over much too much to make primarily social commentary. The problem for me is that while I agree very much with him overall on many things, I was just not completely comfortable with how he presented his case. And honestly I'm not sure he'd have any argument with what I'm saying here. But the overall tone of the book seems to sell a particular point of view that I'm just not comfortable that he can fully support.

Peter Goldsbury
11-12-2010, 10:58 PM
Hello Keith,

The best information about Geert Hofstede can be found on his own website: http://www.geerthofstede.nl/

There you can find details of the two essential books that detail Hofstede's research: Culture's Consequences and Culture and Organizations: Software of the Mind. Since I finished teaching my own course on comparative culture (using the Japanese translation of the second book), another edition of the second book has appeared, a revised third edition. Amazon helpfully lists a number of critical reviews of this book, mainly from academics like myself who have used it in their university classes, and, as someone versed in statistics, you will be in a good position to see the liberties that Hofstede takes with his data.

Gladwell accepts Hofstede's 'dimensions' without any question and uses these in his chapter on the 'ethnic theory of plane crashes'. (Gladwell, Outliers, pp. 202-209).

Keith Larman
11-13-2010, 01:00 AM
Hello Keith,

The best information about Geert Hofstede can be found on his own website: http://www.geerthofstede.nl/

Gladwell accepts Hofstede's 'dimensions' without any question and uses these in his chapter on the 'ethnic theory of plane crashes'. (Gladwell, Outliers, pp. 202-209).

Thank you Dr. Goldsbury, I'll look them up.

You reminded me of other reservations I've had with Gladwell's work. I think it was tipping point where he writes about the so-called "broken window" theory. He accepts this theory on a sort of "common sense" level. And while some do accept the theory, there is actually little consensus as to whether it is actually accurate. But Gladwell uses it because it fits his narrative. Then the concept gains traction *because* of Gladwell's writing creating a sort of self-validation cycle.

There is also a rather famous critique of Gladwell that included the note that one of his essays referred to something he called an "Igon value". Which is truly odd since there is no such thing. What he meant was eigenvalue, while not a "popular culture" term, it is quite common in linear algebra and especially important for matrix operations. But the point is that he just simply didn't know what it was. All while he's linking together all sorts of good sounding concepts. So it is like he's saying some of the right things with the right words, but there is the constant impression that he simply doesn't have any sort of deep or subtle understanding of the underlying concepts.

What I find interesting is that I am sympathetic with many of his ideas. It is just his supporting evidence, while easy reading, is often simply quite superficial at best. Add in his cherry picking of data, cherry picking of theories, and voila, he can create a great sounding bit of pop music with a snazzy hook. It all sounds good, it just lacks any substance.

MM
01-04-2011, 01:05 PM
Hello Peter,

A question for you. In Stan Pranin's Daito-ryu book, there is an interview with Sagawa. In that interview, Sagawa states that the term, "aiki" was used before Ueshiba met Takeda. The interesting thing is that when Sagawa shows the notebook where the word aiki was written, aiki was written in katakana.

My question is why would it be written in katakana?

My wild, out of left field theory is perhaps because as we trace aiki from Takeda to Tanomo, we might find that Tanomo's Chinese connections were where these internal skills came from and because of that, Tanomo wrote aiki in katakana. Takeda, as we know, had an excellent memory (photographic, perhaps) and wrote aiki as he had been shown by Tanomo.

Thanks,
Mark

Allen Beebe
01-04-2011, 02:54 PM
I'm not sure I'm following your logic Mark. If it came from a Chinese source why not write it in Chinese, particularly since the characters are the same in Japanese? Are you suggesting Tanamo was trying to obfuscate a Chinese connection, if there was one, by using kana?

Also, if very literate Tanomo wrote down stuff and that stuff was passed on to Takeda, Takeda would have no need to memorize what he received, other than what the written stuff signified knowledge wise. Rather, he could just employ someone to copy his Tanomo writings when that transference was called for.

For example, we know that early students of Ueshiba received various Daito Ryu scrolls reflecting what they presumedly had been taught by Ueshiba. Curiously enough, this continued after Ueshiba no longer used the term Daito Ryu for what he was teaching. My understanding is that the scrolls follow a predictable sequence, reflected (to one degree or another) within Daito Ryu (big surprise). I'm guessing Ueshiba did not invent these scrolls, he probably copied (or had copied) his scrolls. His scrolls would have come from his teacher. We will probably never see Ueshiba's scrolls, for the same reason we will probably never see the Daito Ryu scrolls of the students that stayed within the Ueshiba organization. (Although the Daito Ryu scrolls of those that left the Ueshiba umbrella are publicly documented.) BTW, we are also told that Hisa asserted that the techniques Ueshiba taught his group were the same as what Takeda taught upon his arrival. (This would indicate a strong similarity remaining even after a period of Ueshiba's active avoidance of Takeda's presence and his assertion of teaching a "different" art.") Takeda picked up where Ueshiba left off. We also read that Takeda would be able to remember where a student left off upon his departure and would pick up from there after his return indicating that Takeda had a memorized sequence of instruction. Also, it seems that Yoshida Kotaro awarded Oyama Mas a Daito Ryu licence for umbrella techniques (I believe the techniques are listed on the licence. I seem to remember reading them of a photograph in the past.) It would probably have been "bad form" for Yoshida to have simply made this up, so they were probably copied from a scroll that Yoshida received from Takeda (Takeda probably had it made or told Yoshida to copy it himself and Takeda would seal it.) It is my understanding that this scroll exists in some incarnation of the the Daito Ryu curriculum. Finally, Budo Renshu reflects much of the contents of a particular Daito Ryu scroll indicating that either the scroll was patterned off of Budo Renshu or, more likely, Budo Renshu reflected the pattern of instruction that Ueshiba had received if not an actual scroll that he probably possessed. Of course of you are trying to avoid your teacher and strike out on your own it would probably be best to sever ties that could easily be traced to a past that wanted payment due.

Personally, I don't find the arguments that Ueshiba changed what he learned a lot that convincing. Rather, looking at the photographic evidence I come to the conclusion that much of what he did remained the same although he may, as indicated by the Manchukuo Demo incident, have had a preference for what he wanted to emphasize in his demos. Also, since I find a commonality between the Noma dojo pictures and his later demonstrations and Hisa asserts that what Ueshiba taught at the time is what Takeda taught as well . . . one might very well guess that Takeda appeared much the same (although there may have been a qualitative difference) and it is the later Daito Ryu practitioners that changed much in the same way that it was the later Aikido practitioners that changed what Aikido commonly appears as today.

Well, just spewing off the cuff . .

Hello Peter,

A question for you. In Stan Pranin's Daito-ryu book, there is an interview with Sagawa. In that interview, Sagawa states that the term, "aiki" was used before Ueshiba met Takeda. The interesting thing is that when Sagawa shows the notebook where the word aiki was written, aiki was written in katakana.

My question is why would it be written in katakana?

My wild, out of left field theory is perhaps because as we trace aiki from Takeda to Tanomo, we might find that Tanomo's Chinese connections were where these internal skills came from and because of that, Tanomo wrote aiki in katakana. Takeda, as we know, had an excellent memory (photographic, perhaps) and wrote aiki as he had been shown by Tanomo.

Thanks,
Mark

Allen Beebe
01-04-2011, 03:27 PM
Also, if very literate Tanomo wrote down stuff and that stuff was passed on to Takeda, Takeda would have no need to memorize what he received, other than what the written stuff signified knowledge wise. Rather, he could just employ someone to copy his Tanomo writings when that transference was called for.



That is huge "if" I realize. If the enrollment books were displayed, why not share any scrolls passed on to Takeda from Tanomo? They wouldn't have to display the contents, only the existence. It would certainly make tracing the history of the "Ryu" a heck of a lot easier . . . hmmm, maybe that's why . . . .

Oh well, don't mind me, I argue with myself all the time!

MM
01-04-2011, 04:40 PM
I'm not sure I'm following your logic Mark. If it came from a Chinese source why not write it in Chinese, particularly since the characters are the same in Japanese? Are you suggesting Tanamo was trying to obfuscate a Chinese connection, if there was one, by using kana?


Uh, yeah, it would seem you didn't follow my logic. :) You went into an area that I wasn't even thinking about, although my thoughts run similar to yours on that topic.

Let me see if I can clear this up a bit more ...

Take a step back and let's look at the Chinese martial arts (CMA). There's a common set of phrases in the CMA. Outdoor Student and Indoor Student. The Outdoor Student is the regular person who is training with a teacher. These Outdoor Students are the people who are taught the forms. Then when a student is accepted by a teacher as a disciple or as someone the teacher wants to teach the "secrets" to, that student becomes the Indoor Student.

Now, borrowing from Dan's theory for this part (read his previous posts in this thread), what if Tanomo was an "Indoor Student" of some Chinese teacher who had Internal Skills? Tanomo learned internal structure, internal power generation, and spirals in a context that trained his body outside of any martial techniques or lessons.

Do you see how this fits completely with Shiro Saigo and his "Yama Arashi"? Not taught judo but taught aiki to make throws not seen in judo at that time.

Do you see how oshiki uchi would apply?

Let's take my theory one step further. Tanomo is told that these skills appropriately match chi/qi and Tanomo writes the katakana version of aiki because it came from a Chinese source.

Takeda then is taught by Tanomo and writes aiki in katakana just like his teacher did. Why? As Takeda was illiterate but highly intelligent and had excellent memory, then Takeda would have been able to remember how Tanomo wrote it and rewrite it the same way.

Demetrio Cereijo
01-04-2011, 05:43 PM
Hi Mark,

Do you see how this fits completely with Shiro Saigo and his "Yama Arashi"? Not taught judo but taught aiki to make throws not seen in judo at that time.

Have you checked Saigo Shiro birthdate, age at which he joined the Kodokan in Tokyo, timeframe of his life with Hoshina Chikanori and if the 1886 Kodokan vs Metropolitan Police matches ever happened?

Takeda then is taught by Tanomo and writes aiki in katakana just like his teacher did. Why? As Takeda was illiterate...
I think Sokaku was not exacly illiterate.

MM
01-04-2011, 06:42 PM
Hi Mark,
Have you checked Saigo Shiro birthdate, age at which he joined the Kodokan in Tokyo, timeframe of his life with Hoshina Chikanori and if the 1886 Kodokan vs Metropolitan Police matches ever happened?


Hi Demetrio,

Far as I know, Saigo Shiro was either the adopted son or illegitimate son or both of Hoshina Chikanori, who is also know as Saigo Tanomo. And as far as I know, that 1886 tournament happened.

Unless you know otherwise?

Demetrio Cereijo
01-04-2011, 07:24 PM
Hi Demetrio,

Far as I know, Saigo Shiro was either the adopted son or illegitimate son or both of Hoshina Chikanori, who is also know as Saigo Tanomo. And as far as I know, that 1886 tournament happened.

Unless you know otherwise?

Saigo Shiro, born 1866. In 1882 he joined the Kodokan (sixteen years old). He was adopted by Hoshina Chikanori, if Ellis Amdur is correct*, in 1884 (18 years old).

At that time Chikanori was living in Nikkō Tōshō-gū -Togichi prefecture- about 140 km north of Tokyo. This means serious commuting from his adoptive father residence to Tokyo for Judo training and back home for aiki in 19th century Japan.

On the 1886 (Shiro being 20 years old) Judo vs JJ matches, there are serious doubts they happened as we have been told (http://judoforum.com/index.php?/topic/47873-did-the-police-jiujitsujudo-challenge-matches-happen/).

*See HIPS, p. 75-76

Fred Little
01-04-2011, 08:24 PM
Let's take my theory one step further. Tanomo is told that these skills appropriately match chi/qi and Tanomo writes the katakana version of aiki because it came from a Chinese source.

Takeda then is taught by Tanomo and writes aiki in katakana just like his teacher did. Why? As Takeda was illiterate but highly intelligent and had excellent memory, then Takeda would have been able to remember how Tanomo wrote it and rewrite it the same way.

Tanomo knew how to read and write using Chinese characters. He had no personal need to write in katakana, except perhaps as furigana (smaller kana alongside Chinese characters in a text) to indicate the mixed reading of the compound

(see Josh Lerner's post 36 at this link):
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?p=178850

If we start from the documented premise that the reading is not a straight Chinese reading, but a strange mixed reading, the argument for the katakana being a sign that Tanomo was taught by a Chinese teacher is, well, strangely mixed.

Maybe he did, maybe he didn't, but I would have to suggest that this isn't evidence that is going to settle the question, or even point dimly toward a settlement.

Best,

FL

Allen Beebe
01-05-2011, 12:34 AM
Okay, okay . . . he wrote in kana in an attempt to prevent the possibility that Takeda's Korean house boy might read the text (It was rumored that some Koreans were literate.) and use the privileged information to assert a claim that he (As far fetched as it sounds.) actually observed, and even learned the Great Eastern Art. Worse still, if Tanomo wrote the characters in Chinese (Some Koreans could read Chinese since they had the misfortune of living nearer to the Chinese than they did to the land of the Kami), but of course they needed to be trained to read Chinese in the proper Japanese manner.), the house boy in question might use the same characters to, eventually, name his variant art, only pronouncing it (As outrageous as it may sound.) in his NON-Japanese Tongue. Oh the shame, the Great Eastern Art pretending to be practiced by a non-Great Eastern people and naming in the manner of some upstart offshoot, it boggles the mind . . .better to write in kana and prevent the whole problem from the outset!

He was a Shinto Priest right? Better to not pollute pure Japanese arts with foreign influences. Stick to good ol home grown kana, the stuff of Kotodama!! Oh, and repel the barbarians and up with the Shogunate. (He was an Aizu Shinto Priest after all!)

Nothing good could ever come from writing :ai: :ki: . . . dough!

(Only one glass of wine for that one! ;) )

Peter Goldsbury
01-05-2011, 05:51 AM
Hello Peter,

A question for you. In Stan Pranin's Daito-ryu book, there is an interview with Sagawa. In that interview, Sagawa states that the term, "aiki" was used before Ueshiba met Takeda. The interesting thing is that when Sagawa shows the notebook where the word aiki was written, aiki was written in katakana.

My question is why would it be written in katakana?

My wild, out of left field theory is perhaps because as we trace aiki from Takeda to Tanomo, we might find that Tanomo's Chinese connections were where these internal skills came from and because of that, Tanomo wrote aiki in katakana. Takeda, as we know, had an excellent memory (photographic, perhaps) and wrote aiki as he had been shown by Tanomo.

Thanks,
Mark

Hello Mark,

First of all, the question of katakana.
(1) Katakana was used extensively, even as late as the time when Morihei Ueshiba was writing the explanations of Budo in 1938. Nowadays, hiragana is used as okurigana (the parts of Japanese that show the grammar; usually the endings of words), but Morihei Ueshiba wrote okurigana in katakana and if you look at the illustration on p.58 of Stan Pranin's Daito-ryu interviews, you will see that the okurigana were written in katakana.
(2) Secondly, in Takemusu Aiki, Morihei Ueshiba occasionally writes words in katakana for which there are already acceptable Chinese characters and in which they are usually written (in the same book). For example, on pp.77-78, several times he writes 高天原: high plain heaven: taka-ama-hara (all kun readings) as タカアマハラ. Why? Because he wants to draw attention to the individual syllables as a basis for his kotodama theories. But he uses katakana, not hiragana.

As for aiki, here is a quotation from pp. 311-313 of Fumiaki Shishida's book on budo education. The whole section is worth quoting.

「合気の概念
 合気武道という名辞が他の武道と識別されるのは、「合気」という概念にある。合気という言葉は、日本の江戸時代の武術伝書、例えば、一七六四年の起倒流柔術書「灯火問答 」に見ることができる。そこでは、「あいき(相気)」を、技の攻防の際に相手と気筋が合って闘うのに困難な状態になる意味で用いている。「合気」という用語の使用は、一八 〇〇年代の多くの武術伝書にも見いだすことができるが、これらの意味も「灯火問答」と同義である。こうした意味内容を転換させたのは一八九二年の「武道秘訣合気の術」であ り、ここで、「合気」の意味は武道の奥義であり、「敵より一歩先んずる」こととしている。ここには、「先んずる」前提として「敵人読心の術」と「掛声の合気」が説明されて いるが、具体的内容について記していない。
 大東流柔術において合気の意味をどのように定義付けていたのは、現在ではあまり明確に伝えられていない。それは同流中興の祖武田惣角が、日本武術の秘密主義の伝統に従っ てその内容を書物として残さなかったことによる。しかしながら、高弟の一人佐川子之𠮷は一九一三年のノートに「合気をかける (Mark, notice that Shishida writes aiki in kanji. The katakana reference clearly means little to him.) としばしば記しておる、大東流柔術おいて合気という言葉や技法が大東流合気柔術改称以前から指導されていたことが知られる。合気という言葉のこうした不明確性が、大東流合 気柔術教授代理・植芝の合気の解釈に曖昧さを生んだ。
 しかし、植芝流が大きくなるにつれて、植芝の門下生や後継者たちはその曖昧さを補うように、合気道における合気という言葉に次ぎのような解釈を行った。つまり、「合気」 が 「合」と「気」からなる文字の構成から「天地の気に合わせる道」という解釈や、体験的悟境から生まれた自然の動きや、動きのリズムに合わせるという「天人合一」の解釈 などである。」

Unfortunately, I do not have time to translate this passage at present. So take it as a New Year gift to the Japanese scholars on AikiWeb.

Best wishes,

PAG

MM
01-05-2011, 06:09 AM
Saigo Shiro, born 1866. In 1882 he joined the Kodokan (sixteen years old). He was adopted by Hoshina Chikanori, if Ellis Amdur is correct*, in 1884 (18 years old).

At that time Chikanori was living in Nikkō Tōshō-gū -Togichi prefecture- about 140 km north of Tokyo. This means serious commuting from his adoptive father residence to Tokyo for Judo training and back home for aiki in 19th century Japan.

On the 1886 (Shiro being 20 years old) Judo vs JJ matches, there are serious doubts they happened as we have been told (http://judoforum.com/index.php?/topic/47873-did-the-police-jiujitsujudo-challenge-matches-happen/).

*See HIPS, p. 75-76

Thanks for the clarification, Demetrio. Do you know where Shiro was living before his judo training? Also, as shown by Sagawa, Ueshiba, Kodo, etc, aiki can be trained from a distance with irregular hands on time with a teacher. Sort of hard to determine anything one way or the other.

Mark

MM
01-05-2011, 06:12 AM
Tanomo knew how to read and write using Chinese characters. He had no personal need to write in katakana, except perhaps as furigana (smaller kana alongside Chinese characters in a text) to indicate the mixed reading of the compound

(see Josh Lerner's post 36 at this link):
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?p=178850

If we start from the documented premise that the reading is not a straight Chinese reading, but a strange mixed reading, the argument for the katakana being a sign that Tanomo was taught by a Chinese teacher is, well, strangely mixed.

Maybe he did, maybe he didn't, but I would have to suggest that this isn't evidence that is going to settle the question, or even point dimly toward a settlement.

Best,

FL

Hi Fred,

The question then becomes, why did Sagawa's father write aiki in katakana and not kanji? I don't have the original japanese version of the text and all I have is the interview to go by, so I'm sort of questioning things from afar.

Thanks,
Mark

Peter Goldsbury
01-05-2011, 06:37 AM
Okay, okay . . . he wrote in kana in an attempt to prevent the possibility that Takeda's Korean house boy might read the text (It was rumored that some Koreans were literate.) and use the privileged information to assert a claim that he (As far fetched as it sounds.) actually observed, and even learned the Great Eastern Art. Worse still, if Tanomo wrote the characters in Chinese (Some Koreans could read Chinese since they had the misfortune of living nearer to the Chinese than they did to the land of the Kami), but of course they needed to be trained to read Chinese in the proper Japanese manner.), the house boy in question might use the same characters to, eventually, name his variant art, only pronouncing it (As outrageous as it may sound.) in his NON-Japanese Tongue. Oh the shame, the Great Eastern Art pretending to be practiced by a non-Great Eastern people and naming in the manner of some upstart offshoot, it boggles the mind . . .better to write in kana and prevent the whole problem from the outset!

He was a Shinto Priest right? Better to not pollute pure Japanese arts with foreign influences. Stick to good ol home grown kana, the stuff of Kotodama!! Oh, and repel the barbarians and up with the Shogunate. (He was an Aizu Shinto Priest after all!)

Nothing good could ever come from writing :ai: :ki: . . . dough!

(Only one glass of wine for that one! ;) )

Allen,

あけましておめでとうございます。今年もよろしくお願いします。:D :D :D

MM
01-05-2011, 06:45 AM
Hello Peter,

Thanks for the reply. If I'm getting #2 right, then Takeda, Sagawa's father, etc who were writing aiki using katakana could just have been drawing attention to that word. Which does make a lot of sense because aiki was the secret principle.

As for #1, if it was used extensively, that's a reason all in itself.

Mark

Hello Mark,

First of all, the question of katakana.
(1) Katakana was used extensively, even as late as the time when Morihei Ueshiba was writing the explanations of Budo in 1938. Nowadays, hiragana is used as okurigana (the parts of Japanese that show the grammar; usually the endings of words), but Morihei Ueshiba wrote okurigana in katakana and if you look at the illustration on p.58 of Stan Pranin's Daito-ryu interviews, you will see that the okurigana were written in katakana.
(2) Secondly, in Takemusu Aiki, Morihei Ueshiba occasionally writes words in katakana for which there are already acceptable Chinese characters and in which they are usually written (in the same book). For example, on pp.77-78, several times he writes 高天原: high plain heaven: taka-ama-hara (all kun readings) as タカアマハラ. Why? Because he wants to draw attention to the individual syllables as a basis for his kotodama theories. But he uses katakana, not hiragana.

As for aiki, here is a quotation from pp. 311-313 of Fumiaki Shishida's book on budo education. The whole section is worth quoting.

「合気の概念
 合気武道という名辞が他の武道と識別されるのは、「合気」という概念にある。合気という言葉は、日本の江戸時代の武術伝書、例えば、一七六四年の起倒流柔術書「灯火問答 」に見ることができる。そこでは、「あいき(相気)」を、技の攻防の際に相手と気筋が合って闘うのに困難な状態になる意味で用いている。「合気」という用語の使用は、一八 〇〇年代の多くの武術伝書にも見いだすことができるが、これらの意味も「灯火問答」と同義である。こうした意味内容を転換させたのは一八九二年の「武道秘訣合気の術」であ り、ここで、「合気」の意味は武道の奥義であり、「敵より一歩先んずる」こととしている。ここには、「先んずる」前提として「敵人読心の術」と「掛声の合気」が説明されて いるが、具体的内容について記していない。
 大東流柔術において合気の意味をどのように定義付けていたのは、現在ではあまり明確に伝えられていない。それは同流中興の祖武田惣角が、日本武術の秘密主義の伝統に従っ てその内容を書物として残さなかったことによる。しかしながら、高弟の一人佐川子之𠮷は一九一三年のノートに「合気をかける (Mark, notice that Shishida writes aiki in kanji. The katakana reference clearly means little to him.) としばしば記しておる、大東流柔術おいて合気という言葉や技法が大東流合気柔術改称以前から指導されていたことが知られる。合気という言葉のこうした不明確性が、大東流合 気柔術教授代理・植芝の合気の解釈に曖昧さを生んだ。
 しかし、植芝流が大きくなるにつれて、植芝の門下生や後継者たちはその曖昧さを補うように、合気道における合気という言葉に次ぎのような解釈を行った。つまり、「合気」 が 「合」と「気」からなる文字の構成から「天地の気に合わせる道」という解釈や、体験的悟境から生まれた自然の動きや、動きのリズムに合わせるという「天人合一」の解釈 などである。」

Unfortunately, I do not have time to translate this passage at present. So take it as a New Year gift to the Japanese scholars on AikiWeb.

Best wishes,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
01-05-2011, 07:36 AM
Hello Mark,

Well it was a 'secret principle', but I think you need to hold your judgment until you have read Shishida's comments about aiki.

I am trying to complete TIE 19 by the end of this month and this is why I have not produced a translation of Shishida's comments.

Best wishes,

PAG

MM
01-05-2011, 09:11 AM
Hello Mark,

Well it was a 'secret principle', but I think you need to hold your judgment until you have read Shishida's comments about aiki.

I am trying to complete TIE 19 by the end of this month and this is why I have not produced a translation of Shishida's comments.

Best wishes,

PAG

Peter,

In a choice between me and TIE 19, I'd choose TIE 19 all the time. :)

We know that the actual word, "aiki" was in use in Japan's history. I believe even as far back as the Edo period? However, that's part of my point. If Tanomo learned the concepts and principles of internal skills from a Chinese source but it wasn't called "aiki" by the Chinese, then perhaps Tanomo used that word, "aiki" to describe the internal skills. Maybe he borrowed the Japanese word because it was close (equal to? I don't know) to the Chinese principles that he had learned but wrote it in katakana to differentiate or bring attention to it?

Ellis covered a lot of areas where Takeda learned his Japanese martial skills. Yet where does everyone say Takeda learned aiki? Tanomo. Why is Sagawa's father writing aiki in katakana and not kanji or hiragana? Why is it that Shiro Saigo made such a showing that it was reported as being different and when we look back, we find the link to Tanomo? Why is it that both Takeda and Ueshiba needed to be talked into using "aiki" in Takeda's Daito ryu jujutsu? Neither were keen, at first, to use aiki in the name. Why would someone want to put the actual "secret" out in full view of the public? Of course, we know that they eventually did and it didn't really matter. Hidden in plain sight, as Ellis says. :)

Ueshiba is, IMO, an anomoly. Something to be looked at as the exception. He completely muddied the water with his spiritual ideology that you can't use him as a source for tracing the history of "aiki" (just the history, not what it was or how to use it). And, IMO, those who trained under him are not exactly good reference material for the history of aiki either. Shishida's words not included as I haven't read them yet.

But, as you noted, katakana was in use extensively, so that explains the katakana usage. Or it could have been just to showcase the word. So, please, don't let me take time away from TIE 19. :)

Best to you, Peter.

Thanks,
Mark

Ernesto Lemke
01-05-2011, 10:52 AM
I am trying to complete TIE 19 by the end of this month


Finally! Sorry for the thread shift.... Now lets leave the man to work!

Allen Beebe
01-05-2011, 12:13 PM
Allen,

あけましておめでとうございます。今年もよろしくお願いします。:D :D :D

Back at yah! :D

Josh Reyer
01-05-2011, 11:47 PM
「合気の概念
 合気武道という名辞が他の武道と識別されるのは、「合気」という概念にある。合気という言葉は、日本の江戸時代の武術伝書、例えば、一七六四年の起倒流柔術書「灯火問答 」に見ることができる。そこでは、「あいき(相気)」を、技の攻防の際に相手と気筋が合って闘うのに困難な状態になる意味で用いている。「合気」という用語の使用は、一八 〇〇年代の多くの武術伝書にも見いだすことができるが、これらの意味も「灯火問答」と同義である。こうした意味内容を転換させたのは一八九二年の「武道秘訣合気の術」であ り、ここで、「合気」の意味は武道の奥義であり、「敵より一歩先んずる」こととしている。ここには、「先んずる」前提として「敵人読心の術」と「掛声の合気」が説明されて いるが、具体的内容について記していない。
 大東流柔術において合気の意味をどのように定義付けていたのは、現在ではあまり明確に伝えられていない。それは同流中興の祖武田惣角が、日本武術の秘密主義の伝統に従っ てその内容を書物として残さなかったことによる。しかしながら、高弟の一人佐川子之��は一九一三年のノートに「合気をかける (Mark, notice that Shishida writes aiki in kanji. The katakana reference clearly means little to him.) としばしば記しておる、大東流柔術おいて合気という言葉や技法が大東流合気柔術改称以前から指導されていたことが知られる。合気という言葉のこうした不明確性が、大東流合 気柔術教授代理・植芝の合気の解釈に曖昧さを生んだ。
 しかし、植芝流が大きくなるにつれて、植芝の門下生や後継者たちはその曖昧さを補うように、合気道における合気という言葉に次ぎのような解釈を行った。つまり、「合気」 が 「合」と「気」からなる文字の構成から「天地の気に合わせる道」という解釈や、体験的悟境から生まれた自然の動きや、動きのリズムに合わせるという「天人合一」の解釈 などである。」

The Concept of Aiki
The term "aiki budo" is distinguished from other budo by the concept of "aiki". The word "aiki" can be seen in Edo period martial arts texts, for example Kito-ryu Jujutsu's "Touka Mondou" (Lamplight Dialogue) of 1764. There, "aiki" (相気) is used to refer to the difficult state of engaging in attack and defense when in the same kisetsu* as the opponent. The use of "aiki" (合気) can be found in many martial arts writings of the 1800s, with the same meaning as in the Touka Mondou.** The shift away from this meaning began with the 1892 "Budo Hiketsu Aiki no Jutsu" (The Secret Budo Techniques of Aiki); here "aiki" is an inner teaching of budo, with the meaning of "being one step ahead of the enemy" (敵より一歩先んずる). Here, "techniques of reading the mind of the enemy" (敵人読心の術) and "the aiki of battle cries" (掛け声の合気) are explained with "being ahead" (先んずる) as a presupposition, but specifics are not noted.

It has not currently clearly been communicated what kind of meaning "aiki" has in Daito-ryu Jujutsu. The reviver of this ryu, Takeda Sokaku, left no writings on that subject, in accordance with the secretive practices of Japanese bujutsu. However, one of his top students, Sawaga Nenokichi, often wrote in some 1913 notes, "apply aiki" (合気をかける) [Here Professor Goldsbury draws attention to Shishida's use of kanji - JAR], so we know that the word aiki and instruction thereof was in Daito-ryu Jujutsu before the name change to Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu. This non-specificity of the word "aiki" led to the vagueness of the interpretation of "aiki" used by Ueshiba, a Kyouju Dairi of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu.

However, as Ueshiba-ryu spread, and as Ueshiba's students and successors sought to compensate for this vagueness, interpretations such as this came about: as "aiki" is made up of the characters for "ai" and "ki", it is interpreted as "a way of joining with the energy (ki) of heaven and earth", or alternatively, a "unity of the heavenly and the human" through the matching of rhythm of movement, or natural movement born of an experiential state of understanding.
----------------------

* kisetsu 気節 is one of those words that lends itself better to explanation than pithy translation. It is a compound of "ki", in this case meaning "feeling, intention", and "setsu", which carries a sense of both "time/rhythm" and "joint/break". In this context, it refers to the ebb and flow of intention and timing between attack and defense. 気節が合う, then, is talking about both opponents engaging in attack, or both opponents engaging in defense, or matched in permutations thereof, creating a stalemate.

** This meaning of "aiki" matches with the one reference to 合気 I've found in all of Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, indeed, in a document dating to the early 1800s. There it refers to a state of stalemate created by both opponents embodying 攻防一致, a unity of attack and defense.

The question then becomes, why did Sagawa's father write aiki in katakana and not kanji?
Generally, when one wanted to keep things secret in historical budo writings, one did not write in kana, but used ateji; different kanji that would be read with the proper pronunciation by those in the know, but would make little sense to those who had not received the proper oral instructions. (I could list several examples of this in Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, but then I'd have to kill you.) The most likely reasons for writing in kana would be 1) emphasis, 2) to make clear the pronunciation of an unusual term, or 3) to utilize the existence of homonyms by not pinning down the word to any particular kanji, which carry some semantic meaning. And example of this can be seen in Yagyu Munenori's Heiho Kadensho, where he writes the word "utsusu" in kana, so that it can mean both "move" and "reflect", without being restricted by the meanings inherent in the kanji normally used to make that distinction.

Just as personal speculation, in this case I expect it's mostly 1) with a dash of 2).

Edit: Actually, I just thought of another common reason for writing in kana, one that is probably most likely in this case. If these are Sagawa Nenokichi's personal notes, and given that Takeda was not keen on writing much down, it's possible that Nenokichi simply wasn't sure what kanji were best used for "aiki" 相気 or 合気, and so merely wrote the word in kana as an expedient.

Peter Goldsbury
01-06-2011, 01:09 AM
Hello Josh,

Many thanks for saving me the trouble.

Happy New Year!

PAG

Josh Reyer
01-06-2011, 01:35 AM
No problem -- I'm still on the vacation so I have time on my hands! Happy New Year to you and yours, as well.

DH
01-06-2011, 10:55 AM
Thanks Josh
The Concept of Aiki is like a fine "mystery," only in that everything was revealed.
There is no division between the concept of "aiki".in the various examples you cited
a) the Edo period martial arts texts where, "aiki" (相気) is used to refer to the difficult state of engaging in attack and defense when in the same kisetsu* as the opponent.
b) The use of "aiki" (合気) found in many martial arts writings of the 1800s, with the same meaning as in the Touka Mondou. ( you could have included Tesshu's Muto ryu and Yagyu Shingan ryu here)
c) The meaning in the 1892 "Budo Hiketsu Aiki no Jutsu" (The Secret Budo Techniques of Aiki); here "aiki" is an inner teaching of budo, with the meaning of "being one step ahead of the enemy" (敵より一歩先んずる). Here, "techniques of reading the mind of the enemy" (敵人読心の術) and "the aiki of battle cries" (掛け声の合気) are explained with "being ahead" (先んずる) as a presupposition, but specifics are not noted.
d) Sawaga Nenokichi, note to "apply aiki here." often wrote in some 1913 notes, "apply aiki" (合気をかける)

There is also no division when you look at Ueshiba.-although I believe you have the order confused. You stated:
However, as Ueshiba-ryu spread, and as Ueshiba's students and successors sought to compensate for this vagueness, interpretations such as this came about: as "aiki" is made up of the characters for "ai" and "ki", it is interpreted as "a way of joining with the energy (ki) of heaven and earth", or alternatively, a "unity of the heavenly and the human" through the matching of rhythm of movement, or natural movement born of an experiential state of understanding.
It wasn't the students to stated it was "the unity of heaven/ earth/ man" That was Ueshiba. And it is perfectly in line with Aiki in yo ho of Daito ryu.
It was the students who misinterpreted that as a rhythm of movement...etc.

The concept of aiki is one of joining the energy in oneself; gravity (heaven) and up energy (earth) and learning to control and manipulate that through in the center through intent (man), then and only then, when one is in full control of himself can one join with and control the energy of another. This creates sometimes really weird and profound controls of another on the physical level as it feels like you can read people and change what they themselves were trying to do to you and they are left feeling you are in control in spite of their best efforts. This makes a case for the many things written from the physical to the mental, and for the confusion of cause and effect from observers and students alike.
I would make a case that the physical effects are concrete and work across the board. The mental aspects and their effect on an opponent are real albeit it is interesting to note that the mental effects are far more pronounced on people used to the physical effects (students). The documented physical effects of real aiki when joined with decades of intense martial practice made it "feel like" the guy was reading your mind...and that when joined with the unusual physical effects made it seem otherworldly.
The mental effects can be likened to reading moves reading intent of others. That skill needs to be seen for what it is, as other great fighters with no aiki development also exhibited it. It is a natural occurence as your mind relaxes when you get used to fighting and stress.
For those with both skills it was an incredible daunting experience...hence the overstating by some writers.

In any event, You suggest that the non-specificity of the word "aiki" ...led to the vagueness of the interpretation of "aiki" used by Ueshiba. I contend his vagueness was intentional. This becomes evident or was revealed upon examining Ueshiba's peers in Daito ryu. It is clear that aiki was indeed capable of being transmitted. It was made equally clear that it was intentionally withheld by decree from all but a few. Sagawa went on record that the "key" was to train with body in tanren and ....that Takeda told him never to reveal it and to never teach Gaijin.
Then again we also now know that Tokimune tried to teach the tanren and he stated to another Shihan who was complaining that his contemporaries in the Takumakai didn't want them, they wanted waza, that "None of my guys wanted to do them either."

Speaking of weird Japanese expressions in Daito ryu....We have some interesting discussions of a weird phrase Oshikiuchi..."indoor"..."inside the threshold." attached to what Takeda said he learned from Tanamo as aiki!

Funny,, here we are in the 21st century and recently a Shihan in a koryu went on record that the inner teaching of his were now going to be "reserved for the Japanese."
Then we have some 20th centruy discussions of the Chinese arts where internal power was openly "held back."
Cheers
Dan

Josh Reyer
01-06-2011, 11:52 AM
There is also no division when you look at Ueshiba.-although I believe you have the order confused. You stated:
<snip>
In any event, You suggest that the non-specificity of the word "aiki"
Just to be clear, I didn't state anything (except the explanation of "kisetsu" and the reference to Yagyu Shinkage-ryu). Everything above the dashes is a translation of Professor Goldsbury's quote of Shishida Fumiaki.

I will state, in as much as Yagyu Shinkage-ryu goes, that the definition of aiki as "kisetsu ga au" is an overall tactical/strategic concept, unrelated to body skills. The particular reference in YSR is to "departing from aiki", and refers to part of a kata where the swordtips aren't even touching, or barely touching. I tried to make this distinction clear in my translation and explanation, but I can see how it could still be confusing. Indeed, IMO the basic sense of this definition of "aiki" probably led to its later use in a more hands-on/weapons-on sense.

Funny,, here we are in the 21st century and recently a Shihan in a koryu went on record that the inner teaching of his were now going to be "reserved for the Japanese."Who was this?

DH
01-06-2011, 12:17 PM
Just to be clear, I didn't state anything (except the explanation of "kisetsu" and the reference to Yagyu Shinkage-ryu). Everything above the dashes is a translation of Professor Goldsbury's quote of Shishida Fumiaki.

Thanks. Of course the observation still applies.

I will state, in as much as Yagyu Shinkage-ryu goes, that the definition of aiki as "kisetsu ga au" is an overall tactical/strategic concept, unrelated to body skills. The particular reference in YSR is to "departing from aiki", and refers to part of a kata where the swordtips aren't even touching, or barely touching. I tried to make this distinction clear in my translation and explanation, but I can see how it could still be confusing. Indeed, IMO the basic sense of this definition of "aiki" probably led to its later use in a more hands-on/weapons-on sense.
Well I got that. I see it as directly relevant. I was suggesting that it may not have ever been a deviation or departure ..from...aiki...until later. I question whether the source came from a deeper understanding that has been lost as I can see direct relevance...to aiki.
Is it a deviation?
Is it a lack of understanding?
Says who?
One only needs to get out about with Menkyo and Shihan alike to understand just how very dicey that rank and supposed expertise can really be.

In what circumstance is the observable effect actually a result of the body skill being manifest, and not of some external strategy or both?
Where and when does it happen where It leaves most people to try to understand observable and recorded results of training in kata, without the tools to make them happen without cooperation.
Where and when can we see that over time, both the teaching and the doing degrade to the point that the very thing that was so enticing in the first place...is now a mere shadow of what it once was. And the modern adepts are left to wonder a) was it ever truly profound b) how to replicate it in anything but a cooperative venue,
All of which leaves us to wonder where we can find observable manifistations of these things done on a truly high level today.

"Who was this?"
I ain't sayin!! :)
Cheers
Dan

Thomas Campbell
01-06-2011, 12:36 PM
gravity (heaven) and up energy (earth)

Clarification: did you mean gravity (earth) and up energy (heaven)?

Budd
01-06-2011, 12:47 PM
Clarification: did you mean gravity (earth) and up energy (heaven)?

Not Dan, but I would say he meant what he said. Ground pushes you up (solidity you bring up through you), Heaven (gravity) is a force pulling down on you. How you reconcile the two with your intent via a conditioned body is at least partly what's being talked about in the aiki space as a trained skill beyond timing and tactics.

Josh Reyer
01-06-2011, 01:02 PM
Well I got that. I see it as directly relevant. I was suggesting that it may not have ever been a deviation or departure ..from...aiki...until later. I question whether the source came from a deeper understanding that has been lost as I can see direct relevance...to aiki.

Okay, then you're going to have to explain this to me. Here's the situation: Shidachi is in a strong chudan stance; no suki. Uchidachi is a in a strong chudan stance; no suki. The situation is a stalemate. This is "aiki", as in "kisetsu ga au". Per the kata, shidachi drops his strong chudan stance, to invite uchidachi's attack, or any kind of response, and create a suki. This is called "departing from aiki". Breaking the stalemate. This is the use of the term "aiki" in YSR, and the use that Mr. Shishida is talking about.

I'm not saying the body skills now popularly known as aiki did not exist in these old arts. I think they did and do exist; I believe they are in Yagyu Shinkage-ryu. However, I don't believe the use of the term "aiki" above refers to them. I have to side with Mr. Shishida in the idea that the term was used differently at that time, and different terms were used to refer to the body skills. But I am honestly open to persuasion. If you can explain to me how the above situation is directly related to the body structure and skills used in aiki arts, I'll happily revisit my position.

Thomas Campbell
01-06-2011, 01:03 PM
Not Dan, but I would say he meant what he said.

Thanks, Budd. I'll wait for Dan to clarify. In the Chinese MA paradigm I'm familiar with, sinking (or yin) energy, heaviness, is associated with earth, and rising (or yang) energy, lightness, is associated with heaven; cf. in-yo in Japanese. Dan is welcome to use the terms as he sees fit; I just wanted his clarification as to how he intended to use them.

DH
01-06-2011, 02:17 PM
Okay, then you're going to have to explain this to me. Here's the situation: Shidachi is in a strong chudan stance; no suki. Uchidachi is a in a strong chudan stance; no suki. The situation is a stalemate. This is "aiki", as in "kisetsu ga au". Per the kata, shidachi drops his strong chudan stance, to invite uchidachi's attack, or any kind of response, and create a suki. This is called "departing from aiki". Breaking the stalemate. This is the use of the term "aiki" in YSR, and the use that Mr. Shishida is talking about.

I'm not saying the body skills now popularly known as aiki did not exist in these old arts. I think they did and do exist; I believe they are in Yagyu Shinkage-ryu. However, I don't believe the use of the term "aiki" above refers to them. I have to side with Mr. Shishida in the idea that the term was used differently at that time, and different terms were used to refer to the body skills. But I am honestly open to persuasion. If you can explain to me how the above situation is directly related to the body structure and skills used in aiki arts, I'll happily revisit my position.
Hi Josh
I was not discussing "the breaking of aiki" anywhere. I was quoting or more directly discussing the use of Aiki and what might have created it in the series of examples you offered and with ones I added..
The example you just outlined above I did not discuss.
To discuss that-one can (not necessarily always) break a connection, but depending on what that opponent was doing or intending to do just prior ...then retreating or adopting a different position can be leading/causing/creating an initiative from the opponent, thus maintaining a connection throughout. Two people connecting does not make aiki, it's just two people facing off...anyone can do that. One may have aiki both may not, one may lead and cause one to follow...both can just be ner do wells with weapons in their hands..
Leading the mind in offense/ defense is another aspect of aiki. I am just a bit jaded as to how well that all works outside of a closed system with students. There are aspects I think work in dialogue, de-escalation of violence or anger, on to actual fighting, but I think it is less dramatic than some of the ..er....stuff we typically see in the arts.

In any event I don't think we we disagree much at all..
Cheers
Dan.

gregstec
01-06-2011, 02:20 PM
Thanks, Budd. I'll wait for Dan to clarify. In the Chinese MA paradigm I'm familiar with, sinking (or yin) energy, heaviness, is associated with earth, and rising (or yang) energy, lightness, is associated with heaven; cf. in-yo in Japanese. Dan is welcome to use the terms as he sees fit; I just wanted his clarification as to how he intended to use them.

Hi Tom,

I don't intend to speak for Dan, but I can speak on this based on my training with him. In our training, we look at all up energy coming from the ground (earth) and all down energy coming from gravity, which could be viewed as coming down form heaven.

I guess it all depends on how you look at the energy - do you look at the direction it is going or the direction where it is coming from - both are correct depending on your perspective :)

Greg

DH
01-06-2011, 02:23 PM
Hi Tom
As stated.

Thomas Campbell
01-06-2011, 03:42 PM
Hi Tom,

I don't intend to speak for Dan, but I can speak on this based on my training with him. In our training, we look at all up energy coming from the ground (earth) and all down energy coming from gravity, which could be viewed as coming down form heaven.

I guess it all depends on how you look at the energy - do you look at the direction it is going or the direction where it is coming from - both are correct depending on your perspective :)

Greg

Thanks, Greg. That makes complete sense. And it looks like Dan agrees with you (and Budd).

Beyond the up and down (earth and heaven) directions of the energy is the change and balancing in your own body . . . which is where the really cool investigation begins.

gregstec
01-06-2011, 04:23 PM
Thanks, Greg. That makes complete sense. And it looks like Dan agrees with you (and Budd).

Well, he should - he is the one that put the concept in my head; along with many other weird things :)

Beyond the up and down (earth and heaven) directions of the energy is the change and balancing in your own body . . . which is where the really cool investigation begins.

That's the intent! ( just a little clue hidden in plain site) :)

Greg

Thomas Campbell
01-06-2011, 05:59 PM
That's the intent! ( just a little clue hidden in plain site) :)

That's also the pun ("intent"). :p

gregstec
01-06-2011, 06:58 PM
That's also the pun ("intent"). :p

you are a sharp one - guess we can't get anything over on you :D

Demetrio Cereijo
01-07-2011, 09:58 AM
Thanks for the clarification, Demetrio. Do you know where Shiro was living before his judo training?

I suppose prior moving to Tokyo he was living in Aizuwakamatsu .

BTW, I've read he started to train with Hoshina Chikanori at age 9, but the same source (Habersetzer) also says Shiro name changing in 1884 was caused by his adoption via marriage with one of Hoshina's daughter, which I find strange.

Also, as shown by Sagawa, Ueshiba, Kodo, etc, aiki can be trained from a distance with irregular hands on time with a teacher. Sort of hard to determine anything one way or the other.

However, if the proof of Saigo's aiki skills are his performance at the, maybe mythical, 1886 tournament, then we have nothing.

Chris Li
01-07-2011, 10:56 AM
BTW, I've read he started to train with Hoshina Chikanori at age 9, but the same source (Habersetzer) also says Shiro name changing in 1884 was caused by his adoption via marriage with one of Hoshina's daughter, which I find strange.

That's actually quite common in Japan - the same thing happened when Nakakura Kiyoshi married Kaiso's daughter and changed his name to "Morihiro Ueshiba".

Best,

Chris

Demetrio Cereijo
01-07-2011, 11:10 AM
That's actually quite common in Japan - the same thing happened when Nakakura Kiyoshi married Kaiso's daughter and changed his name to "Morihiro Ueshiba".

Best,

Chris

Is the marriage with one of Hoshina Chikanori daughters in 1884 what I find strange as it seems all of them committed seppuku in 1868.

Chris Li
01-07-2011, 12:06 PM
Is the marriage with one of Hoshina Chikanori daughters in 1884 what I find strange as it seems all of them committed seppuku in 1868.

Ah, I've got it now. Since Shiro was born in 1866 anybody he married would likely have been too young to have committed seppuku in 1868. Other than that, no idea...

Best,

Chris

Ellis Amdur
01-09-2011, 01:50 AM
I think I mentioned this in HIPS, but Kano described Shiro at age 16 as being dedicated, but not exceptional, and also described him as tiring easily, so that he could practice with him too hard or too long. There certainly was this legend that developed about Saigo, but it actually developed and flourished much later. In HIPS, I did my best to suggest that the idea that Saigo Shiro studied martial arts, much less aiki from Tonomo Saigo was extremely dubious.

Once again, I am pleased to note that my semi-interpretation, semi-intuition, is now caught up with research.
The following links, mostly by researcher John Zyl, who has access to the Kodokan archives, give a remarkable counter view to the entire history of the early Kodokan, of which Saigo was a part (which includes politics and aikido as well).

Link #1 (http://JudoForum.com/index.php?/topic/47873-did-the-police-jiujitsujudo-challenge-matches-happen/page__view__findpost__p__592870)
LINK#2 (http://JudoForum.com/index.php?/topic/47873-did-the-police-jiujitsujudo-challenge-matches-happen/page__view__findpost__p__593031)

The second link has these two wonderful quotes:
But this is the period when Ueshiba rises to prominence. And I think he scared the sh!t out of the Kōdōkan.

If jūdō left behind the esoteric and the mystical aspects of Kitōryū (and ki is all over the place in Kitōryū and TJSYR) in favor of physics, if jūdō left behind the joint manipulation and striking in favor of a safe and healthy form of exercise … here was all of that stuff back from the dead, repackaged with the help of Oomotokyō. I’ve said this before but I think Ueshiba must have seemed like the ghost of jūjutsu past to Kanō – everything he left behind risen from the grave.

Some kind of a meeting or special course in 1886 that gets transformed into a duel in 1916 and then into an epic battle that showcases jūdō’s inherent superiority in the late 20s and 30s.


And here is supporting evidence from the "other" side - from Yoshin-ryu
http://JudoForum.com/index.php?/topic/47873-did-the-police-jiujitsujudo-challenge-matches-happen/page__view__findpost__p__608213

What that suggests is the whole claim of Saigo Shiro learning Daito-ryu or whatever was yet another case of after the fact, "Oh, we do that too." (Note, too, that yama-arashi, his special incredible, must be from D-ryu technique is in all the early judo books, and I've seen films from the 1950's with a number of teachers demonstrating it - and it is sort of a midway technique between tai-otoshi and harai-goshi - - - -not anything resembling D-ryu.

BTW, here's (http://JudoForum.com/index.php?/topic/47873-did-the-police-jiujitsujudo-challenge-matches-happen/page__hl__Yoshin-ryu) the entire thread.

Demetrio Cereijo
01-09-2011, 07:59 AM
A bit late to the party Ellis, but thanks anyway.

BTW, the researcher name is not John Zyl but Jonathan Zwicker, IMO.

MM
01-09-2011, 04:45 PM
What that suggests is the whole claim of Saigo Shiro learning Daito-ryu or whatever was yet another case of after the fact, "Oh, we do that too." (Note, too, that yama-arashi, his special incredible, must be from D-ryu technique is in all the early judo books, and I've seen films from the 1950's with a number of teachers demonstrating it - and it is sort of a midway technique between tai-otoshi and harai-goshi - - - -not anything resembling D-ryu.



While I understand some people have presented this theory, I really was hoping to go another direction with Saigo Shiro, rather than some Daito ryu connection. My question is could Shiro have learned internal skills from Tanomo?

If Takeda is being true and he attributes his learning "aiki" from Tanomo, why couldn't Shiro? All outside any "martial art" venue, which would explain why Shiro wasn't great at judo but could still hold his own, even win matches.

So, we could possibly have these informal competitions happening with judo people involved and let's say the Yoshin-ryu article has it right. The judo side wasn't doing so well. Would it be too much of a stretch to see Kano, etc finding Shiro and using his talents to help win a match ... or two? Then embellishing it to promote Judo?

Ellis Amdur
01-09-2011, 05:23 PM
Mark - because the reasons are that Kano had this kid at 16 and in his personal diary described him as an ordinary (but dedicated) kid. Furthermore, because he actually is not known to have spent much time with Tanomo at all: the adoption being a post-war adoption of an orphan to give him a name. Because there was no contemporary accounts whatsoever of Saigo possessing any kind of IT. What he was described as being was a phenomenon cat-like athlete, like this guy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFnSFoA4R3I&feature=player_embedded). Because the first accounts that suggested that Saigo had something from Tanomo came AFTER Ueshiba was getting well-known (and as Shishida's research shows, was opening teaching "how to beat judo" AND after his teacher, Takeda Sokaku, who was alleged as having studied from Tanomo, was also getting prominence.
Couple this with the fact that both Sagawa and Sato Keisuke (the one his leading student in terms of skill, so say many and the other, the most disinterested, no ax to grind whatsoever guy in the bunch, both assert confidently that Tanomo almost surely didn't teach Takeda.
1. Kano had a private school, teaching young men how to live and how to do judo. Among his teenage students was Saigo Shiro, somebody he described in private writings as, at that time, being easily tired, and that they couldn't practice together long. (In other words, we aren't talking about Kano recruiting a "sandbagger" to enter into tournaments. He was just a kid who associated with him before all these alleged tournaments.
2. He became a brilliant athlete, and with a lot of top competition in the dojo, flowered. His most remarkable quality, by contemporary reports were two things: he took ukemi like a cat. He could twist in mid-air and land on his front, which, if you are keeping score by back fall, as they did in jujutsu tournaments, is a good trait. Secondly, he is described as having prehensile toes - HIS yama-arashi was enhanced, so it was said, by him actually gripping the other guy's ankle with his toes. There is NOTHING, even in the many decade later accounts that describes IT.
3. Because long after he'd left the Kodokan - and after he'd died, so he couldn't refute anything - and after Ueshiba and Takeda were achieving increasing prominence, then the story arose.
4. Because two of Takeda's top non-familial disciples expressed doubt that Tanomo knew anything about martial arts. And because the historical record supports this. (notwithstanding my little caveat at the end of HIPS that there is a faint possibility that the family, as a whole, might have had the remnants of a martial art transmitted from China).
5. Given that there is good evidence to suggest that there was a jujutsu school in Aizu that had some kind of internal training, a ryu that his maternal grandfather was a master; given that his father very likely studied jujutsu from that grandfather, his father-in-law, as we know he studied spear and other arts from him; and given that Takeda, by report, manifested IT as a young teen, before he would have met Tanomo,it seems to me the really wonderful research would be to get to the Aizu area and find more records regarding that school.
8. Back to HIPS. My first chapter established that Chinese information was widely disseminated, what widely regarded, and widely accepted as a primary influence on Japanese martial arts. It's just that this hasn't been written about in English. There's nothing hidden about that. Japanese schools didn't hide it - witness Yoshin-ryu, witness Kito-ryu.
9. Finally, regarding katakana. I have a student notebook of the Araki-ryu, written in 1858. In successive sentences, the writer would use a kanji, then the same word in katakana, then a mixture of kanji and katakana, and then back to kanji. Didn't mean anything. Just taking notes.
Best
Ellis Amdur

Demetrio Cereijo
01-10-2011, 04:22 AM
While I understand some people have presented this theory, I really was hoping to go another direction with Saigo Shiro, rather than some Daito ryu connection. My question is could Shiro have learned internal skills from Tanomo?

Some kind of "qigong for health"?

MM
01-10-2011, 10:47 AM
Ellis,
Thanks. Not much to say after that. :)

Mark

Demetrio Cereijo
01-10-2011, 10:53 AM
Mark,

Have you read "Judo Memoirs of Jigoro Kano" (http://books.google.es/books?id=DT8rLOzndekC&printsec=frontcover&dq=judo+memoirs+of+jigoro&hl=es&ei=ITkrTbuTF5C38gPxnvCBAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCYQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false). pages 48-50?

Scott Harrington
01-13-2011, 11:48 AM
TIE 19! Tie 19! Tie 19! Jonesing, man. I got to have my fix. Mr. Goldsbury, waiting, waiting.

I honorably and humbly disagree with the as ever erudite Ellis:\

1. Kano says Saigo Shiro tires easily. From this we can deduce that he had no training?

"And Sokaku used to give short lessons, about 10 or 15 minutes each, 4 or 5 times a day. " (DR Aiki Jujutsu by Okamoto, pg. 17) So according to Kano's standards, Takeda Sokaku wasn't very good (because he didn't teach long), but he did say that Takeda's art (thru Ueshiba) was true Budo. AAAAHHHHH! Subtle neural rewiring.

Occasionally we do Gracie J.J. (very simplified curriculum) in class and afterwards any subtle techniques are difficult because -- different operating systems. Not better (well maybe) but different.

The Kodokan system under Kano stressed competition, a restricted curriculum, no wrist techniques and elimination of some dangerous techniques (Judo can STILL hurt you). Thus aerobic capacity came to a forefront in matches. While Takeda Sokaku certainly got his aerobic points with his walking I don't see him running marathons or doing wind sprints.

And let me repeat, Sagawa DID, repeat DID say that Takeda Sokaku said he learned aiki from Saigo Tanonmo (Takeda also said this to his son). Now Sagawa may not have believed him, but HE SAID IT.

2. Prehensile toes -- uh did he have to wear those special orthopedic zori? It is a Daito ryu technique, not an anatomical oddity.

3. Doing research on American Civil War stuff, I have traveled to several ‘home' locations. While I have learned neat and additional things, I am always surprised that I know more than the people actually living in the houses that were owned by Civil War generals. In many cases their information is wrong.

There is a language barrier. There is a lack of records. I have been to a Police Jujutsu tournament (back when Gracie J.J. was starting to make open inroads, saw a beautiful jumping aerial arm bar!) There were very few people in attendance. But someone probably still talks about that great technique done there. Let's be honest, more people know about the characters on ‘Glee' than know how good Ellis is at Araki ryu. By about a factor of 100,000. Or more.

4. Tanomo got the mojo. See end of 1. How many people know that Ho Chi Minh practiced Tai Chi Chuan (and supposedly while in America collected newspaper headlines about black lynchings in the south). Takeda Sokaku said Tanomo only taught two people. ‘Uh, Uh, hey, I know this really secret art and I only taught two people but I want the wooooorrrrrld to know.'

5. Regarding the Aizu info, I have before mentioned, especially information from "Remembering Aizu, the Testament of Shiba Goro", the Boshin War and such is a gold mine to find the roots of Daito-ryu. Language barrier.

8. While it may be hidden in plain sight, it is still hidden. Saigo Tanomo taught TWO people supposedly.

9. Xenophobic language. Deal with it.

The Mountain Wind in autumn time
Is well called hurricane
It hurries cane and twig along
And whirls them o'er the plain
To scatter them again.
9th century poem, Yashuide

Yama arashi (Mountain Storm) is a Daito ryu technique. Other arts (like Kodokan Judo) may have similar named techniques but so what. I talked to a sumo practitioner (Sumo is not a martial art -- it is an eating disorder!) about some of their techniques: same but with different names in Judo.

One person says it is Yama otoshi from the Sekiguchi ryu of Jujutsu (described as haraigoshi / seoinage), while Danzan ryu is a collar break, Obata sensei has his version, Bernie Lau describes the DR version as a sort of uchimata -- inner thigh throw with a ‘rokyo' wrist lock.

While showing it to a high-ranking Hakko ryu instructor (a derivative of DR), he immediately knew it as a henka off a wrist trap. When this version was shown by a senior to him, they commented to use a ‘sweep' to enhance the technique.

Whether a ‘true' technique or a modification by Saigo Shiro to handle the two handed uniform grab in the Kodokan Jujutsu system (which prohibited wrist techniques), it is a DR technique. I can send you the page number but the book is already out-of-print.

Scott Harrington

P.S. Yama arashi is also the name for the porcupine (similar creature), thus a truly prickly waza.

Ellis Amdur
01-13-2011, 02:38 PM
Scott -

Wonderful reply with a lot to consider. And I certainly do not wish to quibble about what is - in my opinion - "more" plausible. Nonetheless, a couple points:
#1
Kimura: "it is said that Shiro Saigo won against jujutsuka by the technique called Yama-Arashi [mountain storm]. Is this a tehcnique of Daito-ryu?"
Sagawa: "No. I don't think so. . . . It's said that Aiki was transmitted to Takeda Sensei by Hoshina/Saigo Sensei, although I believe that it was actually Takeda Sensei who created it.
When I look at the photograph of Tanomo Saigo . . . , I simipy cannot believe that he could have done Aiki. Even when sitting, those who have been trained and those who haven't seem different. he might have learned a littel bit of the form only, but I think it was something that Takeda Sensei created. . . .Nor have I ever heard that Tanomo Saigo was a master. (Transparent Power, pp 119-120)
#2 - Mr. Obata clearly states that he made his version up.
#3 - no porcupines in Japan. :) Just saying. Any reference to porcupines are the same as references to "arai-guma" -washing bears, aka racoons, well after sustained contact with America. I know, you were just having fun, but for the record.

Truly, where I come down to is this: Occam's Razor:
1. There was a jujutsu art in Aizu, which was an otome-jutsu. It has roots in Itto-ryu, which has had an IT training component for hundreds of years, related clearly to doctrines passed originally from China.
2. It was practiced by Takeda Sokaku's grandfather, who was the bujutsu teacher of Takeda Sokaku's father, who taught him martial arts, AND as a teenager, Takeda was winning sumo tournaments against brawny adults, before he had other bujutsu training. (Unlike Saigo, who couldn't even hang with Kano for very long, Takeda was running the line in tournaments, fwiw).
3. (All this aside from the psychological aspect of things which I proposed in HIPS).
4. All I'm saying is that there is this wonderful avenue of research that no one has tapped. If it's a blind alley, then one is left with, I believe, three alternatives.

a. Tanomo, after all
b. Takeda Sokaku, with all his training in so many arts, found the principle buried (he, too, resurrecting HIPS).
c. Takeda pieced it together from various partial transmissions from each of the various ryu he learned and audited.

But surely, as there are scholars on the history of Aizu and the Nishinkan, it would be a meritorious bit of research to find the substance of Shinmyo-ryu jujutsu and it's subset Inegami Shinmyo-ryu.

Best
Ellis Amdur

DH
01-13-2011, 07:47 PM
I really don't care either way, but neither can I support the lack of logic in some of the arguments.It's not supported well enough to be even close to definitive so we should all remain a bit more open.

I still am waiting for a credible argument that should allow any of us to call Takeda a liar about what he stated about learning Aiki from Tanamo. And let's not forgot that he also said it to others.
When I am asked to consider doubting his credibility I look at other things he said and try to paint a picture.
What kind of fraud and liar would miss the chance to call himself Soke
refuse to call himself Shihan
refuse to claim rank
So did Tokimune
A lawyer might ask "Just who...are we and what have we brought to court today to defame these men and call their word into question?.
They seem MORE credible than Sagawa.
That's why I am waiting for a credible argument to believe Sagawa over Takeda.

Why
I am waiting for an argument WHY Takeda would have lied. Give me some plausible motivation...something that has some measure of credibility enough that I should call into the doubt the reputation of a master class Martial artists over ...who? And for what?

Let's start a dialogue of how Sagawa could be the liar if we are going to use him to refute Takeda. I mean heck why not, right? I will start.
*Sagawa the self promoter saying he learned aiki at 17.
Wait for it.............
He didn't learn to create an aiki body till later.
Okay fellas,

*What is the difference between the IP he gained through his conditioning later in life to him stating he learned aiki at 17?_____________________
How can that be? Where does it make sense? It does make sense and it could explain Shiro as well if we want to beat that horse again..


I am waiting for an argument to connect aiki to the Internal power training in some of the Koryu. It has NEVER been presented. Power is not aiki. Internal power will greatly help get you there but it is not aiki.

In agreeing with Scotts points about weakness V more aggressive arts.
let's also use Sagawa (heck why not he seems to be the poster boy)
Sagawa stated he gained more power and aiki in his seventies GREAT.
Sagawa was noted for being physically weak too.
So.......

1. How does this relate to Sagio Shiro_________________________
2. Takeda lied because_______________________
3. Sagawa and ONLY Sagawa is right and should be listened to as a better source of information because________________
4. Sagawa by mentioning his getting aiki at 17 thus by default is now differentiating (just as I have always done when discussing IP/aiki) the difference between IP and aiki. That is yet another issue.
As I said to Peter and Ellis right here;
a) if you don't know these things you
b) may or may not ask the right questions in the first place
c). might not look for the right hints
d) thus you end up making connections that can be tenuous or even meaningless
e). Miss things that are truly hidden in plain site when looking for DR's source of aiki.
d) Separating the two IP and aiki can potentially negate or call into question the entire line of reasoning of Koryu IP and DR aiki all together.

5. Once again the use of weird Japanese with the "indoor disciple used in the ICMA to this idea of "inside the threshold" model of oshiki uchi. Wasn't it only Tokimune who said it was because of the protection of the Daimyo or Shogun.

Again, as my PA relatives would say..."don't mean beans to me." but there is not one thing being presented here that is definitive.
All the best anyway
Dan

Ellis Amdur
01-13-2011, 09:30 PM
Ay yi yi, here I go again.
Dan -
1. The only evidence ever given that Saigo Shiro learned "aiki" from Tanomo is that someones - journalists, writers, definitely no contemporary martial artist asserted this decades after the fact. Absolutely no one who was contemporary ever asserted that Saigo was different in his judo skills than anyone else. My son is a pro boxer. Saigo, to me, is the equivalent if, decades after I die, and decades after my son has retired from the ring, someone asserts that his knockout power was derived from Araki-ryu. ("It has to be. E. Amdur was his dad!"). It would be another matter if there were even ONE anecdote of Saigo doing anything like the things that Takeda is on record of doing many times, or, for that matter, that Nango Jiro of the Kodokan, is described as doing in Harrison's book when he used "hara" to make himself unthrowable. The pathetic truth is that entire "proof" re Saigo Shiro is: Really good judoka - adopted by Tanomo - must have had aiki.

RE the whole Takeda kerfluffle. Let me use you, my friend, as an example: You have been quite careful over the years in how you refer to your former instructor in Daito-ryu (just about everyone who cares knows who I'm talking about, but I'll respect the intent). At the same time, you've been inconsistent. I once found an old post in some news group in which you explicitly stated who your teacher was, without equivocation.
Anyway, people have made all sorts of assumptions about why you've done this - some publicly, some offensively, and mostly wrong. You have your own personal reasons for this. The result of this has been, among other things, that people have asserted that what knowledge you have can't be from Daito-ryu (after all, you are not a menkyo kaiden) but <maybe> from Daito-ryu plus an amalgam of things you've figured out, put together, etc. I'm not getting into what's what here - like popeye, you is what you is, and it's up to you to describe it, teach it, whatever Your personal reasons, in your case, for not claiming certain history - at least in a certain way - has led to assumptions about you.
Given the ONLY evidence of Tanomo having aiki/teaching aiki is Takeda's assertion that he was his teacher - {AND HE WAS HIS TEACHER - THAT MUCH IS TRUE, THE QUESTION IS OF WHAT?}, it is also, in an interesting reverse mirror of the famous instructor Dan Harden, that Takeda may have chosen to tell his story in a certain way - for personal reasons. And by the way, given that Takeda asserted that one manifestation of aiki was his ability to read people, to sort them by rank, etc., it is quite conceivable that he could, in one breath assert that Tanomo had "aiki," referring to the ability to manipulate social relations, and that this was, synonymous with the other "aiki" ("not Internal PowerTM") that he did.

I very well could be very wrong. Maybe Tanomo really was one of the hidden masters - the one's whom no one ever saw do a lick of martial arts, including, perhaps his best friends - maybe so.

But how can you claim that a jujutsu ryu that fueled the top man of his era (Takeda's grandfather) didn't have "aiki," when no one has investigated the substance of it's curriculum, even though it was one of only two otome ryu in Aizu? And the stories about Kanenori are at least as incredible as those re Takeda? How can you assert that others, such as the Kito-ryu master I described in HIPS were not manifesting the same things. (I really loved the judo scholar referring to Ueshiba as a ghost risen from the grave that Kano dug for Kito-ryu - which, btw, used the term "aiki" for some of what they did - goodness gracious). How can that not be of relevance? You say "aiki" is unique? Well, how was it transmitted in secret, given that the public story is so unrealistic and fantastic (a rather widely disseminated art among non-familial hatamoto, pages of the court, in addition to family, and no one revealed it? That is about as likely as the secret satanic cults that were so pervasively active among American daycares in the 1980's).

As for aiki not being "internal powerTM," you're right, I don't have a clue. Don't know the distinction, and I could only take it on faith that you do. No disrespect, but because of the way you've told your history, others (not me) have claimed you don't have a clue what aiki, whatever it is, is. I have no idea if you showed someone like Feng Zhi Qiang or Chen Xiao Wang what you do if they would say, "my goodness, this is not internal powerTM, this is something else!!!!") And in fact, if/when we next get together and you show me the most incredible psychophysical skills I've ever experienced, I may say "that's amazing," but as for aiki, the only thing I'll know about it is that you ASSERT that it's aiki. Will menkyo kaiden Daito-ryu people assert the same? Kimura? Kondo? Okamoto? Amazing, it may be. But who gave your skills the imprimature that it's "aiki." Heck, Sagawa says no one, including the other lines from Takeda had it. Is yours different from his? How would you know? Or can you tell from looking at Sagawa's photograph, like he would claim. . . .

BTW - read the above carefully, so there is no misunderstanding between us. I have not, in the above, questioned your knowledge of what you know, of what you can do, or your lineage. I'm simply saying that assertions that this is "aiki" don't prove anything either.

And this word "liar" in regards to Takeda. This is the man who gave Ueshiba a menkyo in, Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, even though there is NO evidence that he studied it - and he did NOT put a keizu - lineage - on the makimono, which is REALLY "unJapanese" and "suspicious" to boot. So we have a precedent for Takeda architecting his facts to express a personal truth already. And it didn't apparently trouble Ueshiba either. He kept it. He didn't question it as false, did he?

You sound silly to me to use such terms as "defame" or "liar" in regards to what I have said. I will confidently assert I've given Takeda more honest, human respect than just about anyone who has written about him. As for lying, I lived in Japan for 13 years, as you know, and many koryu instructors were fable makers - and I didn't consider one of them a liar. They told a story that was truer than the truth. (One man said to me, "You Americans don't value the truth. You tell it to anyone. We Japanese value the truth much higher. We only tell the truth to people we care about.")

Best
Ellis Amdur

DH
01-13-2011, 09:46 PM
Kimura: "it is said that Shiro Saigo won against jujutsuka by the technique called Yama-Arashi [mountain storm]. Is this a tehcnique of Daito-ryu?"
Sagawa: "No. I don't think so. . . . It's said that Aiki was transmitted to Takeda Sensei by Hoshina/Saigo Sensei, although I believe that it was actually Takeda Sensei who created it.
When I look at the photograph of Tanomo Saigo . . . , I simipy cannot believe that he could have done Aiki. Even when sitting, those who have been trained and those who haven't seem different. he might have learned a littlle bit of the form only,[insert WHAT?... FORM?] but I think it was something that Takeda Sensei created. . . .Nor have I ever heard that Tanomo Saigo was a master. (Transparent Power, pp 119-120)

"Seems different...."
"I believe..."
"Nor Have ...I.. heard...."
Well of course if ...Sagawa... had not heard, well then...it simply cannot be so can it?
Hhmmm.....
So, Sagawa calls into question Takeda's word, Takeda's reputation...from the way a guy looked in a photograph?
Well that settles that. Lets throw that 'ol Tanamo under the bus too.

Um...lets take a look at a seated photo of Liu ChengDe and compare it to a seated photo of Li Chugong, and compare it to a seated picture of Kodo and Sagawa, to a seated picture of Sony Chiba and Jae hun Kim of TKD and let's size people up and call mens word into question from our learned analysis shall we;)

Is this where we're going?
Cheers
Dan.

Ellis Amdur
01-13-2011, 10:49 PM
s this where we're going?
As usual, we are not going anywhere. Dan, you often selectively single out one item in a post and focus on it.
1. I merely quoted Sagawa because Scott previously used him to support the assertion that Tanomo was Takeda's teacher. I countered it with a direct quote to the contrary. Facts do matter, at least in so far as what Sagawa said - whether you believe him or not is another issue. You have previously, quite happily quoted Sagawa's assertion that he grabbed Ueshiba and he was immobilized. Maybe he was making that up as well. Do you have a roadmap to tell when Sagawa is being factual and when he is on an agenda? You (and I am no different) cherry pick "evidence" to support ideology at times.
2. As I said, Sato Keisuke clearly stated that he did not believe Tanomo was the martial teacher of Takeda - and gave clear and cogent reasons why. Sato was so trusted by the Takeda family that they delegated him as the one individual (not Sagawa, fwiw) to go to the old man and suggest that he stop traveling, as he was so old. Sato was respected (and apparently loved by Takeda as well) because he, unlike almost all those guys, had no ax to grind, was not grandiose, and wasn't a climber who wanted some kind of status - which, I think, encompasses most of the other main Daito-ryu guys. Sato's statement, quoted in Stanley's book, was, for me, the most impressive "evidence" I came across.

Dan, you try to have it both ways. You sling words like defamation and liar, but you've accused the Yoshinkan of a cover-up regarding the true nature of Shioda's few sessions with Horikawa - which would be calling him a liar, as it were, given that Shioda asserted that he learned everything from Ueshiba, and an official representative of the Yoshinkan, while clearly endorsing the sessions Shioda had with Horikawa, supporting that.

Like everyone else in these sometimes fun, sometimes tedious discussions, you, too, have your own ideology, or you would have let me natter on without contributing your own thoughts (among which you accused me of defaming Takeda and calling him a liar, neither of which I did).

Here's another example of "lying" "Did Takeda Sokaku teach you aikido." "No," said a certain someone, "He taught me the meaning of true budo." Liar!!!!!! Liar!!!!

Here's another example. My Araki-ryu teacher said, in reference to a brilliant bout by Chiyonofuji, the sumotori, "That's Araki-ryu." Liar!!!!! Chiyonofuji never took an Araki-ryu class in his life!

Here's another example. The same man said of aikido, "That's not budo." (Given that he had his own definition of budo which was an activity that focused explicitly on practicing to kill people, he was right - for him.).

"For the first time in my life, I want a mature relationship," said a lovely Japanese woman to me. "Me too," I replied. Didn't realize that what she meant was 24-7 exclusive and total contact.

In each case, the words, as are so typical in Japanese fashion, are used as adjectives, based, often, on a personal meaning, rather than as "existents."

So here's where I conclude my participation in this round of the same old grind. You, I and the others involved in such discussions can only offer opinions. Some based on historical facts (no one ever described Saigo as having any skills that sound like aiki, for example) and some by osmosis ("I have an actual understanding of aiki, so I can understand history in a way different than you").

BTW - since you always - always - write, "hidden in plain site," is there a hidden meaning in that? Are you hiding something different from my "hidden in plain sight?" :)

The fact that you assert that your undeniable skills are the "aiki" of which Takeda, Horikawa, Ueshiba or Sagawa speak (at least one, maybe more parties would assert that they did not do the same thing), that doesn't prove anything to me. It's circular. Scott Harrington, (Hi Scott) whom you have aligned yourself for the nonce, studies some kind of Daito-ryu. You guys agree, more or less, in this thread. Would that change if you put hands on each other and one asserted, "you suck." Let's say Scott finds your "aiki" has a high suckability quotient? Would that change the validity of your assertions here? It seems, according to your lights, that it does matter, since you say you are using your physical ability in aiki to evaluate vague historical claims in English, including probably mistranslated quotes which, in any event, can have cultural nuances, that you are very likely not aware of. (Sorry Dan, you have a lot of knowledge that I do not have, but I still dream in Japanese, and sometimes use it to think about things for which I cannot find an English equivalent).
At the end of HIPS, I gave a list of several pages of genuine avenues of research that could establish some of these otherwise endless suppositions. Were people so inclined, we might even get some answers!
(Note: Here's an interesting one. A long term student of one offshoot of Kodokai asserted that Horikawa did not emphasize hanmi at all, because of his understanding that Daito-ryu/aiki was derived from Japanese dance - gagaku - at it's core rather than the sword)!!!!!!! (Just like I speculated about in HIPS, that there may be some kind of Internal training TM in gagaku, just as Tokimune asserted).This was in response to my question why many Japanese writers asserted that the Kodokai, in particular, did things differently than other factions of DR.

There is so much rich information out there, based on genuine historical records, genuine cultural heritage that the whole picture could easily change if only people cared enough to start digging.

Finally, read the last lines of HIPS again. I not only didn't rule out Tanomo, I publicly, at least, provide the first outside nugget of evidence that there COULD be something to the story. So don't accuse me of defamation.

Ellis Amdur

DH
01-14-2011, 12:09 AM
Interesting reply. I see you are taking this personally as a commentary on you. I am addressing twenty years of dialogue, first addressed by Stan, that to date still does not answer the question! If I wanted to address you personally I would have directly. And yes I am well aware of your comments about Tanamo, as well as the source for them and in my mind that still leaves the question open does it not?.
1. Tanamo could or could not have known something that changed Takeda's game
2. There is no actual evidence that Takeda lied about it?
3.Sagawa and Sato's opinions are inconclusive.

I think my questions were fairly simple. I see no clear answers here.but rather a lot of frustration and anger..

I won't address the Shiro debate because I really don't care. As I said in my post "if you care to beat that dead horse again..."

You continually misread me when I discuss DR. You presume I am stating that ONLY DR has aiki. Because of that point you miss most of what I say..Oddly, no where do I ever state it. Let me throw this out there to help put things in better perspective for you. I believe that LCD has aiki. That assessment was also made of him by two of Sagawa's students who trained with him as well..He thought I was doing Chansi jin from Taiji. So...there ya go. I don't have those prejudices, nor do I give a shit. If I did, I would have had a different course for my life.
So ..try to listen. I am only...only... discussing what Takeda attributes as the source of HIS aiki.
I don't see an agreed upon definition of "aiki" as being relative to the point of Takeda's claims. Can you make a relevant argument for that as well? In fact I could care less what you personally think about aiki. Nor I for that matter. As an investigation I am more concerned with what the subject thought it to be and where he attributed it came from, and what can be proved or disproved of the statement..

When it comes to me, I did read your reply very carefully. I question your need to bring me into the narrative, but hey...go for it, I don't appreciate the "famous teacher comment" either, and you knew I wouldn't. Expediency rarely trumps forethought, Ellis. How about you make your points without me? We're just debating a very narrow point, Do you mind demonstrating for me how drawing me into the narrative makes a compelling argument for Tanamo not giving aiki to him? ..
Since we are second guessing and using interviews and quotes, I will take the summation of what Takeda often discussed when he used the word "aiki" over a throw away singular quote on mind reading. Incidently, there was and is much discussion about what ki does and how it manifests itself spiritually and the effect it has on people. I am not going there, but it is well within the narrative on ki.
That's on him and I consider it to be as relevant and not -discounting as a point of debate- as Ueshiba's quotes on the spiritual aspects that...you...use frequently. They actually match in ways you can even read today with Ushiro's thoughts on Ki..

None of this is so much a right and wrong with me. Why are we taking it that far?
Are you stating you have arrived at or made definitive conclusions on any of these matters? Really?
I haven't.

As for this notion of Mastery and Tanamo having to be a great Martial artist:.
1. Do you suppose that when Sagawa discovered aiki at 17 he considered himself a great master? Do you think he could have turned around and taught it to someone then and there?
2. Do you suppose that when Takeda said "I don't let people watch because what I do is simple enough that people can steal it.." that this was just more budo nonsense?
3. How about there are certain principles and constants that can be taught in a short time frame that then... take decades to master.
Case in point:
A certian Koryu teacher once said he could teach the entire art in a year and half. The student would suck but it would be his. Then...he would take 20 years to absorb it.
There are men who arrive at Menkyo in 8 years of part time training. Others 11, still others 20..
Is there is a reason to discount that idea as an explanation when you seem to embrace so many others?

There are many things that I have found historically problematic about DR and Takeda's story. We have discussed these things at length as well as what I was told about the source of the Makimono as well. I reserved my doubts about certain items based on what I was told, interviews, and how things also stacked up to the "norm," and what he might have done or not done. We should be careful to examine what could have been questionable opposed to stating things were pure fabrications manufactured out of whole cloth.

As for the Japanese Koryu teachers example of truth:
I appreciate the common presumptions of the simple nature of discourse alluding to the person being a simpleton,,juxtaposed to the notion of how your teacher's example makes people seem interesting, complicated, sophisticated and intelligent. I have done business with people like that for decades. Thanks for reminding me why there is a reason I judge my friends with different standards!

Again nowhere do I see anything addressing how Tanamo could or could not have in fact taught him something that changed his game nor why Tanamo had to be some acknowledge MASTER to have it himself.
All the best
Dan.

DH
01-14-2011, 01:44 AM
(Note: Here's an interesting one. A long term student of one offshoot of Kodokai asserted that Horikawa did not emphasize hanmi at all, because of his understanding that Daito-ryu/aiki was derived from Japanese dance - gagaku - at it's core rather than the sword)!!!!!!! (Just like I speculated about in HIPS, that there may be some kind of Internal training TM in gagaku, just as Tokimune asserted).This was in response to my question why many Japanese writers asserted that the Kodokai, in particular, did things differently than other factions of DR.
Forgot about this one.
Other long time Students asserted that Shizentai was used as a natural posture instead of a martial "ready" stance and since it was weaker it made you stronger. It also makes certain waist control movements prevelant. You can see some of this in Okomoto's explanations....

On the dance idea. As you know I taught a couple of dancers. One was fascinated by some of the descriptions of oppossing forces in six directions and the typcial spine work because she had read it from an old Japanese dance source. She brings in a book (too long of a story but it was part of a museum exhibition and gift from Japan to America. A translation of a Noh schools training in book form from the late 1700's. in it there it was definitive language for opposing forces from the hara and being suspended from your head in order to maintain balance and "float."
Cheers
Dan
P.S. You thinking I was assigning defamation of Takeda to you was really a weird twist, Ellis? Also of Tanamo, since your source was the first, plausible, connection to possible ICMA training in Tanamo's family. Moreso when you consider I already knew about both points.FROM YOU...how in hell would you think I was singling out YOU? I mean..that's pretty funny. Were you drinking at the time? ;)

MM
01-14-2011, 07:25 AM
2. As I said, Sato Keisuke clearly stated that he did not believe Tanomo was the martial teacher of Takeda - and gave clear and cogent reasons why. Sato was so trusted by the Takeda family that they delegated him as the one individual (not Sagawa, fwiw) to go to the old man and suggest that he stop traveling, as he was so old. Sato was respected (and apparently loved by Takeda as well) because he, unlike almost all those guys, had no ax to grind, was not grandiose, and wasn't a climber who wanted some kind of status - which, I think, encompasses most of the other main Daito-ryu guys. Sato's statement, quoted in Stanley's book, was, for me, the most impressive "evidence" I came across.

Ellis Amdur

Hi Ellis,

In between you and Dan going round and round and making my head spin, can I ask something about the above? IF aiki could be taught separate from any martial training, then Sato Keisuke could actually be telling the truth, couldn't he? Whether Sato Keisuke actually knew what Tanomo taught Takeda would be hidden under that answer. It would be a very Japanese way of answering a question without really answering the questions, wouldn't it?

Thanks,
Mark

Demetrio Cereijo
01-14-2011, 08:06 AM
And, if you don't mind enterig in the realms of wild speculation on the dancing idea, what could have Sokaku learned during his tour with a circus/vaudeville group. Could have he learned something while on tour with Lulu Hurst japanese equivalents, strongmen, acrobats, dancers, impoverished (but skilled) samurai accepting challenges from any comers and the like?

BTW, Ueshiba taught dancers too and I think I've read somewhere he awarded one a high rank,

MM
01-14-2011, 08:11 AM
I very well could be very wrong. Maybe Tanomo really was one of the hidden masters - the one's whom no one ever saw do a lick of martial arts, including, perhaps his best friends - maybe so.

But how can you claim that a jujutsu ryu that fueled the top man of his era (Takeda's grandfather) didn't have "aiki," when no one has investigated the substance of it's curriculum, even though it was one of only two otome ryu in Aizu? And the stories about Kanenori are at least as incredible as those re Takeda? How can you assert that others, such as the Kito-ryu master I described in HIPS were not manifesting the same things. (I really loved the judo scholar referring to Ueshiba as a ghost risen from the grave that Kano dug for Kito-ryu - which, btw, used the term "aiki" for some of what they did - goodness gracious). How can that not be of relevance? You say "aiki" is unique? Well, how was it transmitted in secret, given that the public story is so unrealistic and fantastic (a rather widely disseminated art among non-familial hatamoto, pages of the court, in addition to family, and no one revealed it? That is about as likely as the secret satanic cults that were so pervasively active among American daycares in the 1980's).

Best
Ellis Amdur

Ellis,

It appears that you equate "aiki" with martial validity and skills from the above section. Could you clarify if that is so? I would put forth a different theory that does not equate all aiki skills with martial skills.

I'm fairly sure that there are koryu out there (I could be wrong since I don't know a lot about koryu) and there were koryu out there that had in their training methodology a way, a manner in which instilled certain body skills. These training methods rebuilt the body to work a specific way. Now, here is where my questions enter into this whole discussion.

While overtly, these training methods do rebuild the body to move in a certain way that is more martially valid, that rebuilds the body to be structurally more solid yet also freely mobile, and to wield weapons in a very capable manner, why does not mean that these training methodologies teach other internal specific skills such as intent created spirals? Certain internal skills are directly transmitted in a manner that can be completely outside weapons or jujutsu training. IMO, certain of these internal skills might not have been included in koryu.

Is it really such a stretch to look at Takeda's martial teachers and find that they, indeed, did have the training to build a very structural, martial body that was above other training methodologies but yet did not have the complete internal set of skills that Takeda eventually had? We only have to look at Tenryu to see that Ueshiba built upon his sumo training which had already given Tenryu a very solid foundation. While that foundation allowed Tenryu to progress very rapidly, it did not help him against Ueshiba.

When Tanomo enters the picture, why must we assign him to some martial prowess to prove that he had internal skills? As we know, there are and were people who studied internal skills extensively just for health and did not care to fight with them. Given that Takeda already had a very solid foundation in internal structure and other things, why is it such a leap to think that Tanomo might have completed Takeda's training with "aiki" as Takeda defined it? All outside a martial context, which Takeda merged with his martial nature.

MM
01-14-2011, 08:23 AM
And, if you don't mind enterig in the realms of wild speculation on the dancing idea, what could have Sokaku learned during his tour with a circus/vaudeville group. Could have he learned something while on tour with Lulu Hurst japanese equivalents, strongmen, acrobats, dancers, impoverished (but skilled) samurai accepting challenges from any comers and the like?

BTW, Ueshiba taught dancers too and I think I've read somewhere he awarded one a high rank,

Demetrio,

We could be wildly speculative. :)

But, consider that among all of the things we know about Takeda, nowhere do we hear of Takeda being a liar. What does Sagawa say? He *believes* Takeda got aiki elsewhere because of studying a photo of Tanomo and some mention of not being a martial master. And then what does Sagawa say? He might have learned a little bit of the form only.

So, we, too, have Sagawa saying that he thinks all the "martial" skills were from others, but he also says that Tanomo might have taught Takeda something ... outside of martial mastery. Hmm ... oshiki uchi as the indoor disciple being taught some internal skills to enhance the martial skills (Again, with Takeda, these martial skills were both external and internal). Perhaps, the entirety of internal skills were not from Tanomo, but there are indications that something was taught. Something which Takeda defined as his "aiki" later on.

However, no one has ever introduced dancers. :)

DH
01-14-2011, 08:44 AM
And, if you don't mind enterig in the realms of wild speculation on the dancing idea, what could have Sokaku learned during his tour with a circus/vaudeville group. Could have he learned something while on tour with Lulu Hurst japanese equivalents, strongmen, acrobats, dancers, impoverished (but skilled) samurai accepting challenges from any comers and the like?
BTW, Ueshiba taught dancers too and I think I've read somewhere he awarded one a high rank,
I think the story is Ushiba watched a Noh dancer and said something like.."He gets it" and awarded him 10 Dan.
I'll try to look it up.
I suppose the debate is what he saw or was looking for and no one else saw. I was a bit intrigued by some of the things I read of what was supposedly a secret school teaching. Of course you usually find out one school's secret teachings were anothers schools daily grind. And that these things were all over Asia.
Then again if the argument holds that the basic tenants of IP were all over Asia, it is easy to think Takeda got it from....all over Japan. and that Tanamo taught him aiki
We now know that Takeda told Sagawa NEVER to talk about his solo training. It was "expected" that you do that work on your own outside of pratice or teaching, with Sagawa stating it was the source of creating his aiki.
Tanamo might have done "something" in secret as well? I think it is equally "wild speculation" to easily dismiss that Takeda attributted his aiki to him. Which is why Ellis tried to pursue it.
Cheers
Dan

MM
01-14-2011, 08:49 AM
While overtly, these training methods do rebuild the body to move in a certain way that is more martially valid, that rebuilds the body to be structurally more solid yet also freely mobile, and to wield weapons in a very capable manner, why does THAT mean that these training methodologies ALSO teach other internal specific skills such as intent created spirals?


Sorry, just saw my error. The above is what should have been written.

Ellis Amdur
01-14-2011, 09:25 AM
Mark - As for what Sato said:, just for the record:
. . . Tanomo was such a high ranking councillor of the Aizu clan, I have doubts whether such a busy man could have inherited such a complex system of jujutsu . . . .I believe that Sokaku's father, Sokichi, thought it would be easier to teach the art to his eccentric son if such an important clan figure like Chief Councilor Tanomo Saigo was nominally in charge of the instruction of Daito-ryu

I do not believe that Sato had a hidden meaning - But, I think your theory is as plausible as any other. Truly. For all we know, Tanomo taught Takeda how to walk in court settings, how to act formally, and elements of body skills were taught in such settings. And this turned on a light in that genius and he extrapolated it into his extant martial skills. All speculation - but that's as good a theory as any that I have.

I don't have anything more to contribute on this thread that I haven't said here or elsewhere, so I'm away.

Best
Ellis Amdur

Demetrio Cereijo
01-14-2011, 10:12 AM
Demetrio,

We could be wildly speculative. :)

But, consider that among all of the things we know about Takeda, nowhere do we hear of Takeda being a liar.

Not a liar, of course, but maybe he wasn't telling all the truth or all the relevant data.

If we read Tokimune's bio of his father, we find Tanomo not as teacher of martial skill but

Sokaku studied under Chikanori Hoshina (aka Tanomo Saigo) who was an assistant priest of the Nikko Toshogu Shrine in Mt. Futara. He studied the secret mind reading technique of aiki and acquired various super-human powers such as an unyielding spirit, clairvoyant power, and prescience.

This after his musa shugyo years around Japan.

Sokaku was sent by his father to Tanomo, for being tamed and for making him a priest, but after some time Sokaku (a teenager) escaped and tried to join Takamori Saigo troops. Musa shugyo stars.

Perhaps, the entirety of internal skills were not from Tanomo, but there are indications that something was taught. Something which Takeda defined as his "aiki" later on.


I think about Tanomo as the cherry on the cake, not as what the cake is made of.

Demetrio Cereijo
01-14-2011, 10:29 AM
Musa shugyo stars.
Typo, I mean "Musa shugyo starts".

DH
01-16-2011, 12:43 AM
Not a liar, of course, but maybe he wasn't telling all the truth or all the relevant data.
If we read Tokimune's bio of his father, we find Tanomo not as teacher of martial skill but

Sokaku studied under Chikanori Hoshina (aka Tanomo Saigo) who was an assistant priest of the Nikko Toshogu Shrine in Mt. Futara. He studied the secret mind reading technique of aiki and acquired various super-human powers such as an unyielding spirit, clairvoyant power, and prescience.

This after his musa shugyo years around Japan.

Sokaku was sent by his father to Tanomo, for being tamed and for making him a priest, but after some time Sokaku (a teenager) escaped and tried to join Takamori Saigo troops. Musa shugyo stars.

I think about Tanomo as the cherry on the cake, not as what the cake is made of.

I think these comments, these sorts of "snapshots" of history, still need to be taken with a grain of salt. They tell us very little and since Daito ryu itself has no verifiable history, and the little that we have is surrounded in goofy, odd, disconnected and very unusual pedagogy.
If Takeda had not been so damn good, and had not produced a string of such exceptional men (thus vetting a method) most would have written his story off with that of the Ninja crowd.

Is this comment by Tokimune supposed to be definitive?
Heck lets add this one too.
Takeda also said. "The secret of aiki is to overpower the opponent mentally at a glance and to win without fighting."

I'm not at all to surprised to read of mind reading or enhanced perception as a side effect of ki in Asia. If we want to go down that road we can present a better argument than a few passing comments:

Stories of other of Takeda's students,
Yoshida Kotaru. Who was himself supposedly immersed in mind control and occult and himself also considered by many to be a man of incredible martial skills
One of his students tells of learning things in this regard... to watch an individual who was on the other side of the room and begin to explain everything about the individual and how ‘it all made sense'. He watched the way the person walked and said, ‘you can tell everything you need to know about a person by the way they walk'. He watched how they were dressed, watched the way they ate their food, watched their eyes, and anything else that was evident and this could helpt you read them as a person Sound familiar? Just like Takeda watching the women at the inn and saying she was crazy because he could read her mind?"
He later recounts Yoshida's interest in hypnosis.
And then of course we have Ueshiba... yet another of Takeda's men, off channelling the gods!

You can see these referrences in the modern age with a student of Kodo, Nishikido Sensei, who chose to name his own art "Hikarido the way of light." According to Nishikido, when you learn true aiki, your body will shine wherever you go, all the time. Oh my!
What would be reading a hundred years from now if Nishikido turned out to be a martial genius?

Worthy of not in that time period Yamguchi was involved in mind control, hynosis and the occult. All of these things have as much credibility as a tengu birthing Takeuchi ryu and TSKSR itself being founded by scroll from heaven.
I do not and would not...assign too much to these things.

How do these few comments stack up against so many quotes and stories of Takeda wherein he routinely refers to aiki as a very real and physical manifestation, as noted and supported by several students accounts? Taken as a whole, I think the student accounts present Takeda as a man immersed in the practical. His mentioning "mind reading" a couple of times (in an era where this stuff was popular anyway) during his eighty six years on the earth doesn't phase me in the least in light of the students many accounts of him dicussing aiki as a physical skill. There were too many times when he was asked about aiki and it was all body control. We also now know that Sagawa stated there were solo exercises and a body method to aiki in creating an aiki body, they were told never to reveal (gee what a surprise). In fact he see that when given the opportunity when asked about there being otherworldly things; wall passing techniques and flipping tatami and such Takeda dismissed them saying "Not to be foolish and believe in such nonsense." Hardly seems like a guy who would assign his learning aiki....to court ritual or a mental skill. Until proven otherwise there is no reason I can see to discount what he said.

Little is conclusive with Takeda. I can't get attached to any statement or find any conclusions yet to Takeda's history. Ellis put flesh on the mans bones with some assertions of his own. And he offered some interesting possibilities with Tanamo's possible involvement with ICMA. But all we have our these "snapshots" of a mans life we know little about.

Cheers
Dan

DH
01-16-2011, 01:24 PM
Mark - As for what Sato said:, just for the record:
Quote:
. . . Tanomo was such a high ranking councillor of the Aizu clan, I have doubts whether such a busy man could have inherited such a complex system of jujutsu . . . .I believe that Sokaku's father, Sokichi, thought it would be easier to teach the art to his eccentric son if such an important clan figure like Chief Councilor Tanomo Saigo was nominally in charge of the instruction of Daito-ryu

I do not believe that Sato had a hidden meaning - But, I think your theory is as plausible as any other. Truly. For all we know, Tanomo taught Takeda how to walk in court settings, how to act formally, and elements of body skills were taught in such settings. And this turned on a light in that genius and he extrapolated it into his extant martial skills. All speculation - but that's as good a theory as any that I have.

I don't have anything more to contribute on this thread that I haven't said here or elsewhere, so I'm away.
Best
Ellis Amdur
It's not that he might have had a hidden meaning...he might have had complete ignorance of the subject.
How does "learning aiki" equate with a "complex system of jujutsu?"
It doesn't.
I think it completely plausible that these guys didn't have a clue where Takeda got it from. If they really did...hell if Takeda really had something better to offer... we would have heard much better evidence than the wierd, out of place, things they have offered. It also fits in with their perplexed reactions to certain lines of questioning. How much did they know, versus the popular idea of lying and obfusaction as a Japanese norm to avoid revealing what they wanted you to know.
An example being the five questions Sato was given in a letter addressed to Ueshiba, the first of them being "Why are you lying about me?" Did Sato know anything about this or was he just a delivery boy?

What if certain stories were indeed the true ones.
Such as him learning from his dad and grandpa
Such as his learning other Koryu in his musa shugyo travels
That his growing skills and internal power were then magnified with learning aiki (maybe the tenants of IP/aiki from Saigo Tanamo
It explains other suggestions such as Takeda never repeating a technique because.... by and large "they weren't techniques yet."
What if certain private comments "That he was riffing with aiki, on the bodies of people and both he and his students were "recording the reactions" ....as waza. Waza that by and large is very weird compared to traditional koryu jujutsu and IMO (and as you well know is many many others as well) isn't of much use at all without aiki.
There are certain stories that make just as much, if not more plausible sense when pieced together that support both your theories of his grandfather and father, his koryu musa shugyo and his learning aiki from Tanamo. all rolled inot one complete whole. As such it can establish a framework for Daito Ryu being a modern invention based on aiki and supported by prior koryu body knowledge, tactical and practical experience.
All of which fits perfectly into "Hidden in Plain sight."
As you say what "turned-on the light in the mind of a certain young genius, and he extrapolated"...as opposed to what may have been laid out in explicit detail... we will never know.
All the best
Dan

Demetrio Cereijo
01-16-2011, 06:21 PM
Hi Dan,

I think these comments, these sorts of "snapshots" of history, still need to be taken with a grain of salt. They tell us very little and since Daito ryu itself has no verifiable history, and the little that we have is surrounded in goofy, odd, disconnected and very unusual pedagogy.
(...)
Little is conclusive with Takeda. I can't get attached to any statement or find any conclusions yet to Takeda's history.
Seconded.

Hanna B
06-02-2011, 08:27 PM
3. Not too many people are interested. I've sold about 800 copies.

This was June, 2010. Almost a year ago. Just out of curiosity, how many copies have you sold to date? (And when did you release the book?)

abraxis
06-18-2011, 07:52 AM
....Just fwiw. "Outlier" does not imply any sort of value judgement. It is just an expression of a piece of data that doesn't "fit".

Hello Keith,

As one bean counter to another, "Isn't it pretty to think so".:rolleyes:

For decades as a behavior analyst in clinical and experimental settings I have often found myself wishing that people would just take outlier as a data point i.e. see it your way. Never seems to work that way though. It's been my experience that in most endeavors, blogging on the web included, interpretations are often made well before all the the observations have been reported -- if objective data entered into it at all. :(

When thinking this way gets me down I just remember the statistician who - at his shotgun wedding - was heard to mutter about losing all his degrees of freedom by testing for goodness of fit.:D

Regards,

Rudy Ternbach

amand
08-12-2011, 09:04 PM
A local historian in Aizu found out Sokaku learned Aiki from a Soothsayer who learned Shugendo not from Hoshina.
he researched about Sokaku pretty well.check this site.
http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/ikezuki2

Sorry if this was double post

Peter Goldsbury
09-07-2011, 06:45 AM
A local historian in Aizu found out Sokaku learned Aiki from a Soothsayer who learned Shugendo not from Hoshina.
he researched about Sokaku pretty well.check this site.
http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/ikezuki2

Sorry if this was double post

Many thanks for the information and the link. I will work through Mr Ikezuki's material, for I am curious about what information he had that was not available to the editor of Hoshina's memoirs.

Best wishes,

PAG

Thomas Campbell
09-07-2011, 09:03 PM
I look forward to your conclusions about the purported link with Shugendo, Peter. The only connection between Daito Ryu and Shugendo I'd heard before was the founder of Hakko-ryu, Okuyama Ryuho, joining a Shugendo sect . . . but this was after he had studied DR (to whatever extent) with Takeda Sokaku.

Peter Goldsbury
09-07-2011, 09:59 PM
I look forward to your conclusions about the purported link with Shugendo, Peter. The only connection between Daito Ryu and Shugendo I'd heard before was the founder of Hakko-ryu, Okuyama Ryuho, joining a Shugendo sect . . . but this was after he had studied DR (to whatever extent) with Takeda Sokaku.

O hisashiburi,

The main topic of the forthcoming Columns 20 and 21 is how the Japanese wrote history, including during and after World War II. Of course, the main target is Kisshomaru Ueshiba. However, Mr Ikezuki has written two books about Sokaku Takeda and has a lengthy blog site...

Best wishes,

PAG

Thomas Campbell
09-08-2011, 03:41 PM
O hisashiburi,

Mr Ikezuki has written two books about Sokaku Takeda and has a lengthy blog site...

Best wishes,

PAG

It has been awhile.

So taking a look at Mr. Ikezuki's material and commentary should be interesting for you and hopefully worthwhile for the rest of us. As always, I appreciate the considerable energy and time you put into the research and writing of this rather incredible series of columns. Thank you. I hope (would assume) there will be a book in the works as a result . . .

best,

Tom