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Allen Beebe
08-12-2011, 10:39 AM
When a Non-Aikido martial art IS Aikido.

or

Apparently when O-sensei is teaching it!

This was part of an interview with Takako Kunigoshi posted on Aikido Journal this morning:

"Editor: About two years ago we heard some wonderful stories from Yonekawa Sensei. Do you recall if at the time you were training, the name "Aikido" was in use?

I think at that time it was called Daito Ryu.

Editor: "Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu?"

I think it was something like that because I received a makimono scroll entitled Daito Ryu. It seems to me that the name Aikido came into use just a little before the war started. It was almost as if the name Aikido was thought to actually indicate the Daito Ryu. Later whenever I was asked about it I always answered that it was Takeda Sokaku Sensei's tradition (ryu).(I added the bold.)

Editor: During Ueshiba Sensei's training sessions in what way did he explain the techniques of Aikido?

No matter what it was that we asked him I think we always got the same answer. Anyway, there wasn't a soul there who could understand any of the things that he said. I guess he was talking about spiritual subjects but the meaning of his words was just beyond us. Later we would stand around and ask each other, "Just what was it Sensei was talking about anyway?" (laughter)."

Later she actually goes on to explain how she worked in some detail with the Uchideshi and O-sensei to create the book Budo Renshu, including adjustments to illustrations and explanations of technique. So, apparently there were times when communication was of a functional/understandable variety and, if one bothers to read the interview, O-sensei seems to indicate that there is a "right" and "wrong" way of doing things in very strong (yelling actually) terms. So one has to some how reconcile that with "make Aikido yours." Apparently "making Aikido yours" didn't equate to doing whatever one wants as "right" in O-sensei's opinion.

It is a great interview with a prominent early student of Ueshiba Morihei. Stan indicates that he has another interview with her as well in his newly revised and expanded book 'Aikido Pioneers - Pre-war Era.'

Her statement that I put in bold just caught my eye. It is remarkable when one considers a) her level of involvement, b) the length of her continued involvement indicated in the rest of the interview, and c) she clearly was aware of later developments and that she was being interviewed for a publication directly related to "Aikido."

Pretty interesting!

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=613

Eric in Denver
08-12-2011, 11:46 AM
A lot of the interviews in Aikido Pioneers - Pre-war Era pulled forth similar comments, if I remember correctly. It has been a while since I read it -- it was one of the books that got lost in my move back from Japan -- along with most of my training notes:mad:

Allen, I think you have trained with some Daito Ryuers, how would you say the Shirata curriculum compares with their techniques? -- not the tandokudosa stuff, but the actual waza.

George S. Ledyard
08-12-2011, 12:05 PM
I think these discussions always get problematical because, as O-Sensei was frequently quoted as saying, "no one is doing my Aikido." Notice he didn't say, "No one is doing my Aikido any more" or "No one after 1942 is doing my Aikido."

For the Founder, there simply was no distinction between the various elements of his practice. Meaning his waza, his spiritual beliefs, his misogi training, even his farming, was all Aikido. The thirties deshi, especially his nephew Inoue sensei, were technically the closest in terms of waza but other than Inoue. none of them seemed the least interested in his spiritual practices, at least the ones who are famous because they started their own styles (Shioda, Tomiki, Mochizuki). Shirata Sensei was the only one of the thirties deshi of any great repute who stayed with the Aikikai.

I have mentioned before a conversation I had with Saotome Sensei and Stan Pranin about which of O-Sensei's students tried hardest to understand Aikido the way the Founder understood it. The answer was Hikitsuchi, Abe, and Sunadomari. Notice that none of these are early thirties deshi.

It is clear that the early thirties deshi did Daito Ryu. As has been discussed at length elsewhere, they did various forms of "internal power" development exercises that largely seemed to drop out of Aikido after the war. But I think it would be a huge mistake to say that their Aikido was any closer to O-Sensei's Aikido than the post war folks. From the standpoint of the Founder, I think their Aikido was just as out of balance as much of what came later.

In addition to the three teachers I mentioned who pursued their Aikido as a balanced technical / spiritual practice, there were many students of the Founder who incorporated aspects of his practice into their own. Some studied kototama, some tried to get outside martial arts experience (as the Founder had), some, like my own teacher, Saotome Sensei, tried very hard to understand what the Founder was talking about when he taught as obscure as it was, and then translate it into ideas that would be meaningful to modern Japanese, and later American practitioners.

When you hear that O-Sensei yelled at people for not doping technique "right" are we talking about particular stylistic details not being correct? Or are we talking about the difference between what works and what doesn't? My take on O-Sensei was that as he developed his Aikido, he progressively became less and less concerned with exactly how one did a given technique and more and more with whether it embodied the proper principles.

I have direct experience of this myself with my own teacher. While students focus on how they think Sensei did such and such a sword form on his video, my experience is that he cares not one whit that my form is a bit different than his. As long as it embodies the principles he was striving to teach via the form, he isn't that concerned with the actual form itself, in fact he often has trouble remembering the exact forms, even though he made them up.

It was the students of the Founder who were so concerned with form, and naturally so. They had to distill the massive amount of teaching they received from the Founder into something they could digest themselves and then in turn, pass on to another generation of students. I see no evidence that O-Sensei was the least interested in "form" as he developed his art. Saito Sensei was really the last deshi to get a lot of detailed technical training because it was with Saito that O-Sensei worked out what would become the foundations of post war Aikido.

Whether you go back to the thirties or read the accounts of the post war deshi, it is clear that what O-Sensei thought was important about Aikido was its balance between the spiritual and the technical. When he taught, he talked about spiritual principles and then demonstrated how those principles were embodied in technique. That's just a fact. It is also a fact that the majority of his students simply couldn't go there with him.

I think it has always been the case the Aikido was about finding your own Aikido. O-Sensei presented his ideas about what that might be but never developed any systematic method for passing it on. I still believe that, in the end, the one student whose Aikido was probably the closest to that of the Founder, both technically and philosophically was Inoue Sensei, who had very little following in Japan and almost none overseas.

To the extent that one seeks "O-Sensei's Aikido" it is rather like the research required to reconstruct the original texts of Buddhism. The original texts in Sanskrit are lost, destroyed by the Islamic invaders of Northern India. To get an idea of what was in the originals, one has to look at the Pali, the Chinese and the Tibetan texts and compare them. Anything that appears in all three versions is assumed to have been in the original.

So we can look at various teachers from different time periods and derive pieces of the Founder's Aikido. But no one, whether it's pre-war or post-war, was either technically or spiritually doing exactly what the Founder had done. That's a fact. We can get over it and move on with our Aikido or we can keep trying to set up our own "Jurassic Park" of Aikido using various strands of Aikido DNA left behind in other practitioners.

It's not O-Sensei's Aikido that we are striving for. It's our own Aikido that perhaps O-Sensei might have recognized and hopefully, approved of. No one duplicated his Aikido when he was alive and they could train with him on a daily level. There is zero chance we can duplicate it for ourselves. But I do think he had an intention about what the art should be as a transformative practice. I do think that he expected that what one could express from a spiritual point of view one should be able to express on the mat technically. Aikido is fundamentally a marriage of the material and the spiritual. It is meant to be an art which unifies these two realms. If it is not, then we can with certainty say it isn't O-Sensei's Aikido. If this isn't something we are at least striving for, I don't think it's Aikido.

The folks who simply say they aren't interested in the spiritual side of the art, that the Founder isn't really relevant to their practice are not doing Aikido, in my opinion. The focus on mere effectiveness, the obsession with application and the almost complete lack of any thoughtfulness regarding the art simply isn't Aikido. Most of the time it's just bad jujutsu.

In contrast, the wonderful sentiments expressed by many people about peace, harmony, personal transformation etc. coupled with a sort of "it's all ok" sentiment regarding technique is equally missing the point. Beautiful ideas with absolutely no understanding of how those ideas are grounded in the physical realm of reality, with no ability to really connect the spiritual with ones waza in a way that actually is real is not Aikido either.

It is the great tragedy of Aikido that there are so few people who seem to be able to bring these elements together. All concepts in Aikido are grounded in waza. As you start to really get a handle on "aiki", you can see exactly how the Founder developed his ideas about how waza and the spiritual come together. It is then that one can start taking ideas from the spiritual realm and allowing them to inform our waza. This process is Aikido, as far as I can see.

Allen Beebe
08-12-2011, 12:43 PM
A lot of the interviews in Aikido Pioneers - Pre-war Era pulled forth similar comments, if I remember correctly. It has been a while since I read it -- it was one of the books that got lost in my move back from Japan -- along with most of my training notes:mad:

Allen, I think you have trained with some Daito Ryuers, how would you say the Shirata curriculum compares with their techniques? -- not the tandokudosa stuff, but the actual waza.

Well my unspoken philosophy, when I go to train with someone else is, "I'm here to learn your stuff, not share my stuff." And, as an aside, I think a statment made by a Budo friend is also true, "You always suck doing the other guy's stuff.

That having been said, so far when they have seen a bit of Shirata's waza, as I was taught it, the reaction has been consistent. They say, "That's Daito Ryu." This means more to me coming from Daito Ryu sources than the other way around, because I figure, "Who am I to say what Daito Ryu is or isn't? I was taught Aikido." Over the years though every indication points to their being one and the same. Right down to our teachers saying the exact words and "inner teachings" being identical. On the other hand there is considerable variability in Daito Ryu of course. (But then there is variability among Shirata sensei's students, not to mention Aikido as a whole.) For example, years ago when I first saw Kondo sensei demonstrate some basic Daito Ryu I thought, "Well that is different than how I learned it." but then he went on to say, "We do it this way now, but in the past, it was paracticed this way, but that is too dangerous." It turned out the "past" way was they way I learned and continue to practice.

So, for my experience, with regards to what I learned, I really coudn't say how one differed from the other. Although, I can see differences within Daito Ryu and Aikido respectively, and also there are, of course, differences in depth of instruction and quality of execution. But variation is the norm rather than the exception.

So, I practice and teach Aikido because that is the name used by my teacher when I was taught. I choose to train with select Non-Aikido folks NOT because I feel the need to make up for difficiencies in my education (on the contrary, I am continuously flabergasted by the depth and bredth of what I was taught [Being an Aikidoshi I adopted a kind of inferiority complex thinking that my little Gendai Budo was necessarily incomplete in most areas. Lately, I've had to come to the opposite conclusion. There is virtually nothing to apologize for in virtually every regard . . . other than my lack of adequately practicing, valuing, and/or representing what I was taught.] and certainly not to "gain new material," I have thousands thank you very much!, although I definately have a lot to learn and there is plenty of room for improvement) but because what they are training has much more incommon (identical in many cases) to the AIKIDO I learned than does any modern Aikido that I've happened across. (The main exception has been with weapons. So far I haven't found a parallel with what I was taught, weapons wise, by Shirata sensei, outside of the Koryu domain. And even then, it seems to me, that some Koryu weapons styles are more amenable to Aiki than are others.)

Can you imagine how I felt in 1993 when my teacher passed away? Things are a lot different now than they were even then. I literally went and joined a religious order!! :D

Eric in Denver
08-12-2011, 01:14 PM
Can you imagine how I felt in 1993 when my teacher passed away? Things are a lot different now than they were even then. I literally went and joined a religious order!! :D

As you know, I trained with John Stevens, but it was well after Shirata passed away. For me Shirata is like a shadow that I can perhaps get little glimpses of, and even then, I am not really sure what I saw. I envy the hands on time you had with him!

Allen Beebe
08-12-2011, 01:18 PM
Hi George,

Just for clarity's sake, can you see that I'm actually arguing for inclusion rather than exclusion?

In other words, it seems odd to me that all that comes after a certain period (including all that comes after his death) that bears the name Aikido IS Aikido, but that which he taught and was also called Aikido is somehow deemed Non-Aikido.

BTW, Shirata came to Aikido via Oomoto connections and was actually sent to teach at the Takeda branch of the Budo Senyo Kai BECAUSE he was Oomoto and O-sensei thought that he (Shirata) could bridge the differences between the Oomoto members of the Senyokai and the purly Aikido members of the Senyo Kai. So obviously O-sensei thought there was some spiritual understanding there. When I knew him Shirata still prayed in an Oomoto manner and also taught Yamagushi no Gyo which he clearly related to his teacher and Aikido.

As for me, I just try to best learn what my teacher taught me knowing, and accepting, that that will be different from my peers (senior and junior students of Shirata sensei). I learned from Shirata Rinjiro not from Ueshiba Morihei. Although I am interested in my teacher's teacher and his teacher, etc. I think you will agree that it is a bit silly for me to claim that I am doing O-sensei's Aikido. I can't even claim to do Shirata sensei's Aikido. I guess I do my understanding of Aikido as taught to me by Shirata Sensei, as taught to him by O-sensei. Although, I know that there are things that I could do that would probably send my teacher "over the edge" "THAT'S NOT AIKIDO!"

So . . . another paradox! We must be headed in the right direction!! ;)

Allen Beebe
08-12-2011, 01:27 PM
As you know, I trained with John Stevens, but it was well after Shirata passed away. For me Shirata is like a shadow that I can perhaps get little glimpses of, and even then, I am not really sure what I saw. I envy the hands on time you had with him!

I've heard this before and I am convinced that it is impossible for John, I and others to relate our experience. For me the memory is immediate and palpably present. So, when I hear you and others say this I gain an appreciation for the frustration that my teacher (and certainly other students of O-sensei) felt when he tried relate to us what his experience with his teacher was like. One can try, but it is impossible. Hopefully a bit of "the magic" passes on student to student.

Thanks,
Allen

graham christian
08-12-2011, 03:28 PM
I think these discussions always get problematical because, as O-Sensei was frequently quoted as saying, "no one is doing my Aikido." Notice he didn't say, "No one is doing my Aikido any more" or "No one after 1942 is doing my Aikido."

For the Founder, there simply was no distinction between the various elements of his practice. Meaning his waza, his spiritual beliefs, his misogi training, even his farming, was all Aikido. The thirties deshi, especially his nephew Inoue sensei, were technically the closest in terms of waza but other than Inoue. none of them seemed the least interested in his spiritual practices, at least the ones who are famous because they started their own styles (Shioda, Tomiki, Mochizuki). Shirata Sensei was the only one of the thirties deshi of any great repute who stayed with the Aikikai.

I have mentioned before a conversation I had with Saotome Sensei and Stan Pranin about which of O-Sensei's students tried hardest to understand Aikido the way the Founder understood it. The answer was Hikitsuchi, Abe, and Sunadomari. Notice that none of these are early thirties deshi.

It is clear that the early thirties deshi did Daito Ryu. As has been discussed at length elsewhere, they did various forms of "internal power" development exercises that largely seemed to drop out of Aikido after the war. But I think it would be a huge mistake to say that their Aikido was any closer to O-Sensei's Aikido than the post war folks. From the standpoint of the Founder, I think their Aikido was just as out of balance as much of what came later.

In addition to the three teachers I mentioned who pursued their Aikido as a balanced technical / spiritual practice, there were many students of the Founder who incorporated aspects of his practice into their own. Some studied kototama, some tried to get outside martial arts experience (as the Founder had), some, like my own teacher, Saotome Sensei, tried very hard to understand what the Founder was talking about when he taught as obscure as it was, and then translate it into ideas that would be meaningful to modern Japanese, and later American practitioners.

When you hear that O-Sensei yelled at people for not doping technique "right" are we talking about particular stylistic details not being correct? Or are we talking about the difference between what works and what doesn't? My take on O-Sensei was that as he developed his Aikido, he progressively became less and less concerned with exactly how one did a given technique and more and more with whether it embodied the proper principles.

I have direct experience of this myself with my own teacher. While students focus on how they think Sensei did such and such a sword form on his video, my experience is that he cares not one whit that my form is a bit different than his. As long as it embodies the principles he was striving to teach via the form, he isn't that concerned with the actual form itself, in fact he often has trouble remembering the exact forms, even though he made them up.

It was the students of the Founder who were so concerned with form, and naturally so. They had to distill the massive amount of teaching they received from the Founder into something they could digest themselves and then in turn, pass on to another generation of students. I see no evidence that O-Sensei was the least interested in "form" as he developed his art. Saito Sensei was really the last deshi to get a lot of detailed technical training because it was with Saito that O-Sensei worked out what would become the foundations of post war Aikido.

Whether you go back to the thirties or read the accounts of the post war deshi, it is clear that what O-Sensei thought was important about Aikido was its balance between the spiritual and the technical. When he taught, he talked about spiritual principles and then demonstrated how those principles were embodied in technique. That's just a fact. It is also a fact that the majority of his students simply couldn't go there with him.

I think it has always been the case the Aikido was about finding your own Aikido. O-Sensei presented his ideas about what that might be but never developed any systematic method for passing it on. I still believe that, in the end, the one student whose Aikido was probably the closest to that of the Founder, both technically and philosophically was Inoue Sensei, who had very little following in Japan and almost none overseas.

To the extent that one seeks "O-Sensei's Aikido" it is rather like the research required to reconstruct the original texts of Buddhism. The original texts in Sanskrit are lost, destroyed by the Islamic invaders of Northern India. To get an idea of what was in the originals, one has to look at the Pali, the Chinese and the Tibetan texts and compare them. Anything that appears in all three versions is assumed to have been in the original.

So we can look at various teachers from different time periods and derive pieces of the Founder's Aikido. But no one, whether it's pre-war or post-war, was either technically or spiritually doing exactly what the Founder had done. That's a fact. We can get over it and move on with our Aikido or we can keep trying to set up our own "Jurassic Park" of Aikido using various strands of Aikido DNA left behind in other practitioners.

It's not O-Sensei's Aikido that we are striving for. It's our own Aikido that perhaps O-Sensei might have recognized and hopefully, approved of. No one duplicated his Aikido when he was alive and they could train with him on a daily level. There is zero chance we can duplicate it for ourselves. But I do think he had an intention about what the art should be as a transformative practice. I do think that he expected that what one could express from a spiritual point of view one should be able to express on the mat technically. Aikido is fundamentally a marriage of the material and the spiritual. It is meant to be an art which unifies these two realms. If it is not, then we can with certainty say it isn't O-Sensei's Aikido. If this isn't something we are at least striving for, I don't think it's Aikido.

The folks who simply say they aren't interested in the spiritual side of the art, that the Founder isn't really relevant to their practice are not doing Aikido, in my opinion. The focus on mere effectiveness, the obsession with application and the almost complete lack of any thoughtfulness regarding the art simply isn't Aikido. Most of the time it's just bad jujutsu.

In contrast, the wonderful sentiments expressed by many people about peace, harmony, personal transformation etc. coupled with a sort of "it's all ok" sentiment regarding technique is equally missing the point. Beautiful ideas with absolutely no understanding of how those ideas are grounded in the physical realm of reality, with no ability to really connect the spiritual with ones waza in a way that actually is real is not Aikido either.

It is the great tragedy of Aikido that there are so few people who seem to be able to bring these elements together. All concepts in Aikido are grounded in waza. As you start to really get a handle on "aiki", you can see exactly how the Founder developed his ideas about how waza and the spiritual come together. It is then that one can start taking ideas from the spiritual realm and allowing them to inform our waza. This process is Aikido, as far as I can see.

Ha, ha. George. You never cease to amaze me.

To think you feel the closest to his Aikido was Inoue Sensei. Wow! I would never have guessed.

I read this post and wonder if it's one of mine. Have you had some kind of enlightenment lately?

No, I'm not taking the rise, I'm impressed. I thoroughly agree with all you have written there. In fact the understanding of O'Sensei complaining 'that's not my Aikido' seemed obvious to me and you're the first person I've seen put it into a proper context.

There's hope yet! Ha'ha.

Regards.G.

George S. Ledyard
08-12-2011, 04:10 PM
Hi George,

Just for clarity's sake, can you see that I'm actually arguing for inclusion rather than exclusion?

In other words, it seems odd to me that all that comes after a certain period (including all that comes after his death) that bears the name Aikido IS Aikido, but that which he taught and was also called Aikido is somehow deemed Non-Aikido.

BTW, Shirata came to Aikido via Oomoto connections and was actually sent to teach at the Takeda branch of the Budo Senyo Kai BECAUSE he was Oomoto and O-sensei thought that he (Shirata) could bridge the differences between the Oomoto members of the Senyokai and the purly Aikido members of the Senyo Kai. So obviously O-sensei thought there was some spiritual understanding there. When I knew him Shirata still prayed in an Oomoto manner and also taught Yamagushi no Gyo which he clearly related to his teacher and Aikido.

As for me, I just try to best learn what my teacher taught me knowing, and accepting, that that will be different from my peers (senior and junior students of Shirata sensei). I learned from Shirata Rinjiro not from Ueshiba Morihei. Although I am interested in my teacher's teacher and his teacher, etc. I think you will agree that it is a bit silly for me to claim that I am doing O-sensei's Aikido. I can't even claim to do Shirata sensei's Aikido. I guess I do my understanding of Aikido as taught to me by Shirata Sensei, as taught to him by O-sensei. Although, I know that there are things that I could do that would probably send my teacher "over the edge" "THAT'S NOT AIKIDO!"

So . . . another paradox! We must be headed in the right direction!! ;)

Ah, well that explains certain things... I wasn't aware, or had forgotten, which is likely, that Sjirata Sensei was part of the Omotokyo... So in many ways that would put him right up there with Inoue in terms of having a compatible perspective on O-Sensei's Aikido. Makes sense in terms of what I knew him to be doing...

In terms of what is and is not Aikido... On a technical level, Saotome Sensei has been adamant that Aikido has no "style". So, if it has "aiki", on some level it's Aikido. I do think that there is an "attitude" associated with the use of "aiki" principles for waza that he would say distinguishes Aikido from other arts, although not totally even there. Some would say that O-Sensei's talk about Love being fundamental to Budo would be a unique characteristic of Aikido but having worked with the Systema folks and Ushiro Kenji and hearing how they use the term... punching with love, for instance, I would say that it's not unique to O-Sensei.

So, even though one might have "aiki" and be doing techniques that would be considered main stream Aikido, if one was using the techniques for evil purposes I think it would not be Aikido. I think for my teacher that would be the real distinguishing factor. That and simply doing muscular technique with no "aiki" at all... I don't think he considers that real Aikido either.

ryback
08-13-2011, 08:01 AM
The way i see it after o'sensei died some of his close students chopped aikido in piecies each claiming his own style rather than concentrating on creating a next generation of capable aikidoka of high level.They considered o'sensei a...god, they spread around incredible stories of his exploits and his "magical"powers and when the time came they served their ego instead of the art, giving priority on who is affiliated with whom, who is flying under whose wing, and o'sensei's vision of uniting the world under aikido became an echo in the distance.When aikido came to the west it was chopped to even more pieces with instructors who teached selectively bits and parts of aikido according to their...taste.So there goes weapons training(suburi, kata ,kumi-tachi, kumi-jo e.t.c), there goes advanced tai-jutsu such as ganseki otoshi or gaeshi waza,there goes fast, effective technique not to mention iai-do as a suplemental training.Ki, kokyu and other important esoteric elements were either not mentioned at all or were twisted into a new age type of religion with very few exceptions.And then came that tall, american guy with his pony-tail and at last we had a healthy image of real and effective aikido through his teachings and, why not, through his movies.As he insisted that there is only one aikido the majoriy of the aikido world found him not good enough because he was too...effective.Once again people remembered o'sensei's "soft" legacy, forgetting of course that o'sensei had saved his own life many times using aikido back in the day before it got stripped of its fundamental parts of its training menu in favour of a ballet-like practice.Aikido's roots are in daito-ryu, o'sensei didn't invent the aikido techniques.He created a modern way of teaching a true martial art in a world where the classic bushi and the samurai warrior had become extinct.So there is only one aikido, there can be no other "style".All we have to do is practice it.That is i think the "secret" of o'sensei's abilities and that is the legacy he left behind.And if at a very advanced level one wants to be creative, as long as it is within aikido's basic principles it is aikido...

aikilouis
08-13-2011, 09:41 AM
In terms of what is and is not Aikido... On a technical level, Saotome Sensei has been adamant that Aikido has no "style". So, if it has "aiki", on some level it's Aikido. I do think that there is an "attitude" associated with the use of "aiki" principles for waza that he would say distinguishes Aikido from other arts, although not totally even there. Some would say that O-Sensei's talk about Love being fundamental to Budo would be a unique characteristic of Aikido but having worked with the Systema folks and Ushiro Kenji and hearing how they use the term... punching with love, for instance, I would say that it's not unique to O-Sensei.
There is this often-repeated story of O Sensei delivering a 10th dan to a lady dancer when he saw her perform. If it is true, I guess he might have detected, outside of a martial context, a mental/spiritual attitude and perhaps also the use of certain body skills that he judged relevant to his idea of aikido.

sakumeikan
08-13-2011, 02:30 PM
The way i see it after o'sensei died some of his close students chopped aikido in piecies each claiming his own style rather than concentrating on creating a next generation of capable aikidoka of high level.They considered o'sensei a...god, they spread around incredible stories of his exploits and his "magical"powers and when the time came they served their ego instead of the art, giving priority on who is affiliated with whom, who is flying under whose wing, and o'sensei's vision of uniting the world under aikido became an echo in the distance.When aikido came to the west it was chopped to even more pieces with instructors who teached selectively bits and parts of aikido according to their...taste.So there goes weapons training(suburi, kata ,kumi-tachi, kumi-jo e.t.c), there goes advanced tai-jutsu such as ganseki otoshi or gaeshi waza,there goes fast, effective technique not to mention iai-do as a suplemental training.Ki, kokyu and other important esoteric elements were either not mentioned at all or were twisted into a new age type of religion with very few exceptions.And then came that tall, american guy with his pony-tail and at last we had a healthy image of real and effective aikido through his teachings and, why not, through his movies.As he insisted that there is only one aikido the majoriy of the aikido world found him not good enough because he was too...effective.Once again people remembered o'sensei's "soft" legacy, forgetting of course that o'sensei had saved his own life many times using aikido back in the day before it got stripped of its fundamental parts of its training menu in favour of a ballet-like practice.Aikido's roots are in daito-ryu, o'sensei didn't invent the aikido techniques.He created a modern way of teaching a true martial art in a world where the classic bushi and the samurai warrior had become extinct.So there is only one aikido, there can be no other "style".All we have to do is practice it.That is i think the "secret" of o'sensei's abilities and that is the legacy he left behind.And if at a very advanced level one wants to be creative, as long as it is within aikido's basic principles it is aikido...
Dear Yannis,
I do not know how you arrive at the conclusion that after O Senseis passing training in Jo/Ken , Batto Ho,suburi , kumi tachi, tachidori /jo dori went out the window.As a member of Birankai International I can safely say all of these disciplines[including Za Zen ]are practiced consistently within our group.
Why not take the time and effort to look at Biran online and see for yourself?Or contact me in Pm.and I can give you futher info.
Cheers, Joe.

George S. Ledyard
08-14-2011, 12:20 AM
Dear Yannis,
I do not know how you arrive at the conclusion that after O Senseis passing training in Jo/Ken , Batto Ho,suburi , kumi tachi, tachidori /jo dori went out the window.As a member of Birankai International I can safely say all of these disciplines[including Za Zen ]are practiced consistently within our group.
Why not take the time and effort to look at Biran online and see for yourself?Or contact me in Pm.and I can give you futher info.
Cheers, Joe.
Hi Joe,
I have had the good fortune to have trained with Chiba Sensei on a number of occasions... He even had me teach a class once at one of his instructor seminars. In fact, technically, as far as hombu dojo was concerend, my San Dan went through him (although I had another certificate from my teacher Saotome Sensei). Anyway, I have worked with Chiba Sensei, Imaizumi Sensei and Saotome Sensei, all deshi at roughly the same period at hombu. All three have fully developed weapons training programs. What is interesting is that they are not for the most part terribly similar which leads me to believe that they received training from an outside source and then were allowed to run with that training and largely work things out for themselves. It is also clear that some of the deshi from that time didn't not get such training which has lead me to believe that it was optional and some folks took advantage and others did not. Anyway, I always learned a lot from Chiba Sensei's weapons work. It was hugely powerful which I loved.

Cliff Judge
08-14-2011, 11:18 AM
This actually kind of sounds like a case where a -do term is used in a more general, descriptive manner rather than a titular or referential maner. Daito ryu could certainly be seen as "an aikido" similar to how Itto ryu could be seen as "a kendo" i.e. "a way of the sword."

It kind of makes you wonder why we call it Aikido at all.

matty_mojo911
08-14-2011, 08:05 PM
George - Thankyou (in particular) for your first post on this thread, a very good read and in my opinion spot on the money.
From everything I know O'Sensei was far more spiritual than Martial, and unless you are like him you will never "get" what he did. But some of his basic teachings are perhaps obvious - love, harmony, that sort of thing.

Also, it is a natural progression for something to splinter, and fracture. If you teach me something, I listen to you, and 2 years later teach it with my "take" on it - nothing wrong with that, and it ocurs in most facets of life. Change is natural.

When we start breaking down "styles" of aikido and pigeon holing them due to the fact they do "this technique and not that one" again that is natural. However I do think that it is a mistake to stick religiously with a way of doing a technique, because that has "always been that way."

Sensei Dave Lynch here in NZ, who trained with O'Sensei, once told me at one of the Aikikai Dojos that when he trained there as a youth (in Japapn) they did a particular technique a certain way, he always thought it wasn't very good. 20 years later he went back and trained with them again and they had not changed it at all, though the rest of the Aikido world had. He laughed about it and said "that isn't taking an art forward is it?"

Good to remember, but good to change, splintering, fracturing are human nature.

Mike Sigman
08-14-2011, 08:12 PM
From everything I know O'Sensei was far more spiritual than Martial, and unless you are like him you will never "get" what he did. Unless this sort of "black is really white if you look at it in the right light" type of comment is laid to rest by more of Aikido enthusiasts, it will gradually kill Aikido. BTW... Ueshiba was pretty darned irrascible, according to most of the records, so where the "spiritual" focus comes from, without caveat, is sort of dumbfounding.

Ueshiba's reputation was made on his martial prowess, not on his spirituality.

Mike Sigman

hughrbeyer
08-14-2011, 09:24 PM
"Irascible" and "spiritual" being, of course, perfectly compatible in the Asian context.

Mike Sigman
08-14-2011, 09:32 PM
"Irascible" and "spiritual" being, of course, perfectly compatible in the Asian context.

"Ignorant" and "All-Seeing" being, of course, perfectly compatible in the primitive context.... as was the idea of "Kami". :rolleyes:

Mike Sigman

hughrbeyer
08-14-2011, 09:39 PM
"Irascible" and "spiritual" being pretty much compatible in the Western context, too, now that I think about it. Check out today's Gospel reading (http://www.lectionarypage.net/YearA_RCL/Pentecost/AProp15_RCL.html).

graham christian
08-14-2011, 09:46 PM
"Irascible" and "spiritual" being, of course, perfectly compatible in the Asian context.

I like it. In fact he was quite irascible when others were not understanding spiritual.

Regards.G.

Mike Sigman
08-14-2011, 09:52 PM
"Irascible" and "spiritual" being pretty much compatible in the Western context, too, now that I think about it. Check out today's Gospel reading (http://www.lectionarypage.net/YearA_RCL/Pentecost/AProp15_RCL.html).

Ah, I see. Would that Ueshiba had been aware of what his Aikido meant!

Mike Sigman

Alec Corper
08-15-2011, 08:56 AM
Just for the sake of open discussion, and not as a statement of fact. Over the years I have heard the words spiritual and philosophical and ethical all used in relation to Aikido, generally by people meaning "roughly" the same thing. I believe that Ueshiba was quite probably a touch mad, in the way that most highly committed people are, but I also believe that he was technically very gifted. many of his doka were dismissed, even by how own deshi, as being too "mystical " to understand, too "spiritual" etc. However, and I'm sure Mike will correct me if I am way off the mark, I have read many so-called Tai Chi poems which read like a cross between drunken Taosim and a romantic naturalist guidebook. BUT, on careful perusal they begin to make some sense, speaking about sunny side and shady side and seasonal or diurnal rotations as an allegory for how to utilize the mechanics of spiralling, or how to have part of the body full and another, balancing part, empty.
I begin to suspect that some of Ueshiba's spiritual ramblings were in fact technical allegory in the same way. I don't know wether it was intentionally so, or simply the orchestrated byproduct of the imagery and language he was full of.
Even the endlessly misquoted idea that Aikido is all about establishing a "relationship" with an opponent, which contains echoes of a love and peace era that hadn't happened yet, becomes meaningful looked at as a technical indication of absorbing the energy and intention of an opponent to the point that control was established, a use of aiki as I understand it. Is it possible that he taught more than people thought and that his technical and "spiritual" sides were actually successfully joined in his art?
Alec Corper

George S. Ledyard
08-15-2011, 12:14 PM
Just for the sake of open discussion, and not as a statement of fact. Over the years I have heard the words spiritual and philosophical and ethical all used in relation to Aikido, generally by people meaning "roughly" the same thing. I believe that Ueshiba was quite probably a touch mad, in the way that most highly committed people are, but I also believe that he was technically very gifted. many of his doka were dismissed, even by how own deshi, as being too "mystical " to understand, too "spiritual" etc. However, and I'm sure Mike will correct me if I am way off the mark, I have read many so-called Tai Chi poems which read like a cross between drunken Taosim and a romantic naturalist guidebook. BUT, on careful perusal they begin to make some sense, speaking about sunny side and shady side and seasonal or diurnal rotations as an allegory for how to utilize the mechanics of spiralling, or how to have part of the body full and another, balancing part, empty.
I begin to suspect that some of Ueshiba's spiritual ramblings were in fact technical allegory in the same way. I don't know wether it was intentionally so, or simply the orchestrated byproduct of the imagery and language he was full of.
Even the endlessly misquoted idea that Aikido is all about establishing a "relationship" with an opponent, which contains echoes of a love and peace era that hadn't happened yet, becomes meaningful looked at as a technical indication of absorbing the energy and intention of an opponent to the point that control was established, a use of aiki as I understand it. Is it possible that he taught more than people thought and that his technical and "spiritual" sides were actually successfully joined in his art?
Alec Corper

There's a lot of depth in O-Sensei's doka. But one has to train up to a certain level to have them make sense. They aren't "how to" descriptions, they are simply descriptive of certain principles or ways of perceiving reality operating in his Aikido. The only way they make sense is to train, preferably with a high level teacher(s). If you periodically refer back to the Founder's writings, especially the doka, you'll find that each time, you have a better understanding of what he might have meant. I say "might" because no one actually knows precisely what he meant. But you will certainly develop your own understanding and things that seemed incomprehensible at one point will make some sense to you later. But only if one trains in a way that is designed to illuminate the deeper principles. A lot of Aikido training simply won't take one there.

Alec Corper
08-15-2011, 12:33 PM
But you will certainly develop your own understanding and things that seemed incomprehensible at one point will make some sense to you later. But only if one trains in a way that is designed to illuminate the deeper principles. A lot of Aikido training simply won't take one there.
Agreed but what I was trying to open up in a not very articulate ways a notion that is stuck with me, which I believe you have expressed in other ways. The notion is that the spiritual and technical sides of aikido cannot be seperated. However the general meaning of "spiritual" as Western people mean it is somewhat different in the East where spirituality is a technical science, and values and ethics emerge from the practice and not the other way round.
In Chen Tai Chi, possibly the last combat oriented from, yielding isa way to gain mastery over an opponent. It is not that giving way to the will of another should be equated to love, peace and harmony. However it is very difficult to really learn to yield at the deepest levels of muscular and skeletal structure, whilst winning through strength is still a fundamental world view governing our mental and emotional approach tp life. I Chuan, mind/body boxing stresses intent as the pathway to power but ultimately defeating others leads back to the roots of conflict in oneself and we arrive back where we began.

George S. Ledyard
08-15-2011, 01:03 PM
Agreed but what I was trying to open up in a not very articulate ways a notion that is stuck with me, which I believe you have expressed in other ways. The notion is that the spiritual and technical sides of aikido cannot be seperated. However the general meaning of "spiritual" as Western people mean it is somewhat different in the East where spirituality is a technical science, and values and ethics emerge from the practice and not the other way round.
In Chen Tai Chi, possibly the last combat oriented from, yielding isa way to gain mastery over an opponent. It is not that giving way to the will of another should be equated to love, peace and harmony. However it is very difficult to really learn to yield at the deepest levels of muscular and skeletal structure, whilst winning through strength is still a fundamental world view governing our mental and emotional approach tp life. I Chuan, mind/body boxing stresses intent as the pathway to power but ultimately defeating others leads back to the roots of conflict in oneself and we arrive back where we began.

Aikido is supposed to be about Mind / Body, Spirit integration... At least that's what I was always taught. I used to think that was some sort of process of going from here to there... an addition process of acquisition of special skills that took someone there. I have come to see that the whole thing is much more like the Zen idea that you are already Enlightened and that you aren't trying attain anything, you are already there.

Mind / Body / Spirit are already completely and utterly connected. They cannot be disconnected. Training is about realizing that this is true and ceasing to act as if it weren't. At a certain point it isn't so much about adding new skills or knowledge but more a process of getting rid of what interferes with ones understanding and ability to manifest that understanding on the mat and in ones life. That's how I understand misogi. It is polishing away ignorance rather than adding more stuff. O-Sensei always said that keiko was supposed to be "misogi". I think that's what he meant.

DH
08-15-2011, 02:00 PM
Just for the sake of open discussion, and not as a statement of fact. Over the years I have heard the words spiritual and philosophical and ethical all used in relation to Aikido, generally by people meaning "roughly" the same thing. I believe that Ueshiba was quite probably a touch mad, in the way that most highly committed people are, but I also believe that he was technically very gifted. Many of his doka were dismissed, even by how own deshi, as being too "mystical" to understand, too "spiritual" etc. However, and I'm sure Mike will correct me if I am way off the mark, I have read many so-called Tai Chi poems which read like a cross between drunken Taosim and a romantic naturalist guidebook. BUT, on careful perusal they begin to make some sense, speaking about sunny side and shady side and seasonal or diurnal rotations as an allegory for how to utilize the mechanics of spiralling, or how to have part of the body full and another, balancing part, empty.
I begin to suspect that some of Ueshiba's spiritual ramblings were in fact technical allegory in the same way. I don't know whether it was intentionally so, or simply the orchestrated by-product of the imagery and language he was full of.
Even the endlessly misquoted idea that Aikido is all about establishing a "relationship" with an opponent, which contains echoes of a love and peace era that hadn't happened yet, becomes meaningful looked at as a technical indication of absorbing the energy and intention of an opponent to the point that control was established, a use of aiki as I understand it. Is it possible that he taught more than people thought and that his technical and "spiritual" sides were actually successfully joined in his art?
Alec Corper
Hi Alec,
With the Chinese or Japanese writings it is important to realize that the real experts debate and argue over the meaning of them. When you look at the Japanese classics you have just as much debate as the Chinese and this is evident in Kotodama and the Kojiki. It is probably wise to spend the time to research and talk with more knowledgeable people than consulting with and offering false expertise to amateur nobodies, or to get too involved debating with newbies, or arguing physics models with people with little skill as some sort of verification , validation or 'imagining" that it is leading to some sort of immutable and final understanding.
That is as stupid and as ignorant, as not reading them at all.

The people who claim to understand Ueshiba's spirituality have not done so in any methodology that is vetted by a peer review. Nor have those who claim a physical expertise been able to match his examples in an undisputed fashion. Mind/body is inexorably intertwined, but not in the ways many parties would agree to. Therefore, I am disinclined to give too much credence to either group. It's more data, and that is about as far as it will ever go. Some things are more obvious than others;
Young turks using muscle and cranking are clearly missing it,
So are airy fairies spinning around the room afraid to even use their arms lest they power up..

Another interesting look at this loss of understanding- which the founder understood how to fix -is in this translation
"In order to achieve the mysterious workings of ki based upon intent, first realize the appearance of the foundation that is the ki connection (ki musubi) between the left side of the physical body grounded in the martial and the right that receives the universe. If you can achieve this connection between the left and the right then you will be able to move with complete freedom."

There is far too much hubris and self imposed and unrecognized "expertise" of a complicated topic going on here. Moreover the people presenting are not offering an intellectually honest debate where they at least make it known that the tenants of some of their own arguments are debated within a given discipline. Instead they present as if it is all agreed upon. I will leave it up to the individual to determine if this is the result of ignorance, or arrogance, or both.

"In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king."

I am an advocate for research, but in budo at the end of the day, it is as it always was. The people who claim a deeper understanding needed to demonstrate it with competency up against those who actually do posses it. Everything is up for grabs as total BS, to partial understanding, on to a well played smoke screen.
Example:
Where are the holes in Mr A's game?
Mr. B's?
Most do not posses the competency to know the difference and will not know until later or maybe never at all. It's always been that way...always, even under master class teachers.

Non Aikido and Aikido.
With the current discussion of Ueshiba we have an interesting mix:
People claiming to have trained with him everyday who did not
People claiming they understood him when nothing they have written would support that
People claiming they understand him and nothing they physically can do would support that
People who claim they understand his spiritual leanings and how it produced power, yet no one else who did just that produced the same power
And of late we have some serious translation issues, which demonstrate that ...surprise, surprise...people outside of aikido more and more are the ones who understand many of the principles he was talking about after all. And more and more, we are seeing it was in fact not code, but actually known principles for budo movement that the aikido translaters didn't have a clue about.

There was no clear model set forth by the founder that all agree to. Only tid bits and hints that remain open for debate. So When is Non aikido....aikido? Maybe when non aikido people can understand many of the principles the inventor of the art actually meant when he spoke and can explain it and demonstrate power and aiki and teach it to the arts teachers...or maybe not.
Good luck in your training
Dan

JW
08-15-2011, 11:14 PM
Yeouch, come on Dan, please don't get too cynical! Even those who aren't totally "missing it" are going to suck at first, right? Anyway I think your points are right on.. for me, I want to keep an open mind, keep on learning and try to not fall off the budo bus.

Alec, I think you are right on:

I begin to suspect that some of Ueshiba's spiritual ramblings were in fact technical allegory in the same way. I don't know wether it was intentionally so, or simply the orchestrated byproduct of the imagery and language he was full of.
My guess is your latter explanation here is at the heart of it-- though I also think he was completely aware of how his language was not mainstream and would need to be "decoded" by the rest of us. Really though it's true, using that kind of language is in keeping with tradition, not just him being weird.

Mike Sigman
08-15-2011, 11:33 PM
With the Chinese or Japanese writings it is important to realize that the real experts debate and argue over the meaning of them. Not really and certainly not always. When you look at the Japanese classics you have just as much debate as the Chinese and this is evident in Kotodama and the Kojiki. It is probably wise to spend the time to research and talk with more knowledgeable people than consulting with and offering false expertise to amateur nobodies, or to get too involved debating with newbies, or arguing physics models with people with little skill as some sort of verification , validation or 'imagining" that it is leading to some sort of immutable and final understanding.
That is as stupid and as ignorant, as not reading them at all. Right. Good luck to all your students, Dan. Just for informational purposes, tell us once again about where you learned to "imagine spirals", Dan, and where you became more than an "amateur" yourself in so few years. Give the money back. Let me re-state something I've said over the years: It's easy to fool beginners; it's hard to fool experts. On the other hand, if someone is too easily fooled, let them continue onward.

If you want to have a concrete debate, please take up the points I've tried to offer in the spirit of honest debate and study/discuss those; oblique and obscure shots at unnamed 'others' aren't a good way to start. A better place to start would be to tell us why qi/ki is different in Japan than in China and why people like Feng, CXW, and others don't really understand Asian martial-arts. Quotes or logic work much better than assertion and oblique character attacks (ad hominem).

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Janet Rosen
08-15-2011, 11:47 PM
Good luck to all your students, Dan. Just for informational purposes, tell us once again about where you learned to "imagine spirals", Dan, and where you became more than an "amateur" yourself in so few years. Give the money back. Let me re-state something I've said over the years: It's easy to fool beginners; it's hard to fool experts.....
Quotes or logic work much better than assertion and oblique character attacks (ad hominem).

That's it. I have never used the ignore feature on aikiweb but I just can't take this. I'm venturing into a world without Mike.

ryback
08-16-2011, 01:09 AM
Dear Yannis,
I do not know how you arrive at the conclusion that after O Senseis passing training in Jo/Ken , Batto Ho,suburi , kumi tachi, tachidori /jo dori went out the window.As a member of Birankai International I can safely say all of these disciplines[including Za Zen ]are practiced consistently within our group.
Why not take the time and effort to look at Biran online and see for yourself?Or contact me in Pm.and I can give you futher info.
Cheers, Joe.

Dear Joe,of course there are aikido dojos that are practicing the complete"menu" of aikido training and of course there are dojos that are training according to aiki and the basic aikido principles (and our dojo is one of them too), otherwise it would be an utter catastrophe for the future of the art.But unfortunatelly what i said are not mere personal conclusions.I have an awful lot of bad examples of people who have chopped aikido to pieces(and they still call it aikido), then chose to practice only some of them and then they are wondering what was o'sensei's amazing secret of proficiency, claiming that they can never reach his level because he was somehow unique with a...metaphysical meaning.It's easy to declare him a god as an excuse for our lack of skill.Of course that doesn't mean that all aikido practisioners are doing this.So the point of my post is actually that o'sensei didn't invent aikido waza he reached it by practicing and if one practices in the same manner and in the same spirit there is no limitation, he can reach any level.And once there(and only then), every technique, every improvisation every daily work, anything can be aikido as long as it is within its basic principles.Thanks for reading my post and for your reply.:)

Alec Corper
08-16-2011, 03:02 AM
Good luck in your training
Dan

Thank you, Dan, I need it. I hope i will manage to catch you in the Netherlands next time, In October I believe. I missed you last time due to injury.
regards, Alec Corper

valjean
08-16-2011, 08:39 AM
Hello Sensei Ledyard! Kind of an aside, but I find that I always enjoy reading whatever you write. You have the voice of a scholar, and of a reflective person, apart from being knowledgeable about aikido.

This leads me to two questions: (1) Have you written any aikido books? [Or are there other writings that you have done on-line or elsewhere, whether or not about aikido?]; and (2) If you had to pick three foundational ideas to convey to others about your own understanding and practice of aikido, what in your view is most important?

:) Michael Greenberg

I think these discussions always get problematical because, as O-Sensei was frequently quoted as saying, "no one is doing my Aikido." Notice he didn't say, "No one is doing my Aikido any more" or "No one after 1942 is doing my Aikido."

For the Founder, there simply was no distinction between the various elements of his practice. Meaning his waza, his spiritual beliefs, his misogi training, even his farming, was all Aikido. The thirties deshi, especially his nephew Inoue sensei, were technically the closest in terms of waza but other than Inoue. none of them seemed the least interested in his spiritual practices, at least the ones who are famous because they started their own styles (Shioda, Tomiki, Mochizuki). Shirata Sensei was the only one of the thirties deshi of any great repute who stayed with the Aikikai.

I have mentioned before a conversation I had with Saotome Sensei and Stan Pranin about which of O-Sensei's students tried hardest to understand Aikido the way the Founder understood it. The answer was Hikitsuchi, Abe, and Sunadomari. Notice that none of these are early thirties deshi.

It is clear that the early thirties deshi did Daito Ryu. As has been discussed at length elsewhere, they did various forms of "internal power" development exercises that largely seemed to drop out of Aikido after the war. But I think it would be a huge mistake to say that their Aikido was any closer to O-Sensei's Aikido than the post war folks. From the standpoint of the Founder, I think their Aikido was just as out of balance as much of what came later.

In addition to the three teachers I mentioned who pursued their Aikido as a balanced technical / spiritual practice, there were many students of the Founder who incorporated aspects of his practice into their own. Some studied kototama, some tried to get outside martial arts experience (as the Founder had), some, like my own teacher, Saotome Sensei, tried very hard to understand what the Founder was talking about when he taught as obscure as it was, and then translate it into ideas that would be meaningful to modern Japanese, and later American practitioners.

When you hear that O-Sensei yelled at people for not doping technique "right" are we talking about particular stylistic details not being correct? Or are we talking about the difference between what works and what doesn't? My take on O-Sensei was that as he developed his Aikido, he progressively became less and less concerned with exactly how one did a given technique and more and more with whether it embodied the proper principles.

I have direct experience of this myself with my own teacher. While students focus on how they think Sensei did such and such a sword form on his video, my experience is that he cares not one whit that my form is a bit different than his. As long as it embodies the principles he was striving to teach via the form, he isn't that concerned with the actual form itself, in fact he often has trouble remembering the exact forms, even though he made them up.

It was the students of the Founder who were so concerned with form, and naturally so. They had to distill the massive amount of teaching they received from the Founder into something they could digest themselves and then in turn, pass on to another generation of students. I see no evidence that O-Sensei was the least interested in "form" as he developed his art. Saito Sensei was really the last deshi to get a lot of detailed technical training because it was with Saito that O-Sensei worked out what would become the foundations of post war Aikido.

Whether you go back to the thirties or read the accounts of the post war deshi, it is clear that what O-Sensei thought was important about Aikido was its balance between the spiritual and the technical. When he taught, he talked about spiritual principles and then demonstrated how those principles were embodied in technique. That's just a fact. It is also a fact that the majority of his students simply couldn't go there with him.

I think it has always been the case the Aikido was about finding your own Aikido. O-Sensei presented his ideas about what that might be but never developed any systematic method for passing it on. I still believe that, in the end, the one student whose Aikido was probably the closest to that of the Founder, both technically and philosophically was Inoue Sensei, who had very little following in Japan and almost none overseas.

To the extent that one seeks "O-Sensei's Aikido" it is rather like the research required to reconstruct the original texts of Buddhism. The original texts in Sanskrit are lost, destroyed by the Islamic invaders of Northern India. To get an idea of what was in the originals, one has to look at the Pali, the Chinese and the Tibetan texts and compare them. Anything that appears in all three versions is assumed to have been in the original.

So we can look at various teachers from different time periods and derive pieces of the Founder's Aikido. But no one, whether it's pre-war or post-war, was either technically or spiritually doing exactly what the Founder had done. That's a fact. We can get over it and move on with our Aikido or we can keep trying to set up our own "Jurassic Park" of Aikido using various strands of Aikido DNA left behind in other practitioners.

It's not O-Sensei's Aikido that we are striving for. It's our own Aikido that perhaps O-Sensei might have recognized and hopefully, approved of. No one duplicated his Aikido when he was alive and they could train with him on a daily level. There is zero chance we can duplicate it for ourselves. But I do think he had an intention about what the art should be as a transformative practice. I do think that he expected that what one could express from a spiritual point of view one should be able to express on the mat technically. Aikido is fundamentally a marriage of the material and the spiritual. It is meant to be an art which unifies these two realms. If it is not, then we can with certainty say it isn't O-Sensei's Aikido. If this isn't something we are at least striving for, I don't think it's Aikido.

The folks who simply say they aren't interested in the spiritual side of the art, that the Founder isn't really relevant to their practice are not doing Aikido, in my opinion. The focus on mere effectiveness, the obsession with application and the almost complete lack of any thoughtfulness regarding the art simply isn't Aikido. Most of the time it's just bad jujutsu.

In contrast, the wonderful sentiments expressed by many people about peace, harmony, personal transformation etc. coupled with a sort of "it's all ok" sentiment regarding technique is equally missing the point. Beautiful ideas with absolutely no understanding of how those ideas are grounded in the physical realm of reality, with no ability to really connect the spiritual with ones waza in a way that actually is real is not Aikido either.

It is the great tragedy of Aikido that there are so few people who seem to be able to bring these elements together. All concepts in Aikido are grounded in waza. As you start to really get a handle on "aiki", you can see exactly how the Founder developed his ideas about how waza and the spiritual come together. It is then that one can start taking ideas from the spiritual realm and allowing them to inform our waza. This process is Aikido, as far as I can see.

Eric Winters
08-16-2011, 09:14 AM
Not really and certainly not always. Right. Good luck to all your students, Dan. Just for informational purposes, tell us once again about where you learned to "imagine spirals", Dan, and where you became more than an "amateur" yourself in so few years. Give the money back. Let me re-state something I've said over the years: It's easy to fool beginners; it's hard to fool experts. On the other hand, if someone is too easily fooled, let them continue onward.

If you want to have a concrete debate, please take up the points I've tried to offer in the spirit of honest debate and study/discuss those; oblique and obscure shots at unnamed 'others' aren't a good way to start. A better place to start would be to tell us why qi/ki is different in Japan than in China and why people like Feng, CXW, and others don't really understand Asian martial-arts. Quotes or logic work much better than assertion and oblique character attacks (ad hominem).

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Wow, everything is not always about you dude.

Eric

DH
08-16-2011, 10:13 AM
Hi Alec
You're welcome. I read your Bio. That's a good way to go. All I'm saying is to remain neutral and check the information and these pundits out. All of them. I recommend it all the time. The Hawaii group is a good example. I recommended all those people, instead of just sticking with me. Never settle for one view. If you think the subject is always about you it's rather revealing. When you live in a small world, you have a small view. We need a broad exposure for a more educated view. I've very much enjoyed moving outside of the Japanese arts and meeting with and testing with ICMA teachers as well. Nothing like real experts opinions of your skills instead angry debates with amateurs. In time I see an ever growing group of us 'Japanese style" artist doing the same as you have Alec.
I am also greatly enjoying making friends with so many senior Japanese style teachers and sharing. The internet...can work after all.

I've enjoyed the debates here and on other forums, and I am enjoying reading some of the newer translations of old works, as well reading the experts arguing over what is supposedly all settled and agreed upon. Both the Japanese and Chinese have translation issues but more importantly that even with native speakers within the arts... they argue over meaning and much more with skill in use. I've lost track how many times I have read books (by experts) and when they get to important concepts the caveat; "Many people think this meant that, but......." Then they outline a different view,
So it is truly comical watching people try to set themselves up as the Rosetta stone for all things internal or aiki, when the subject itself is debated by real experts. It's a fools game and I want no part of it. It's going to bite them in the ass...well...it already has, hasn't it? It's rather embarrassing to over-reach with their writing then be found out when people see and feel them, read reviews of their movement by real experts and get more knowledgeable about the topic only to discover things were not as "fixed" as they were told.

Here? It's smarter that people recognize their place and be respectful of other opinions, show what they know and more importantly what they can actually do and move from there. Maybe some have good information, maybe they don't. Maybe they have some power but really can't teach well, what have you. but the level of hubris and now outright animosity is amateur hour all the way. I'm guessing it comes from their bluff being called... an over played hand.

I also say go see and test the experts. See what you can do up against them. It's a good combination. At least it lets you see who is full of it...or full of themselves, and who has information that people can actually use instead of just talking a good game.

Netherlands
That seminar Date is fluid right now due to scheduling conflicts.
There probably will not be an announcement here. Less than a third of these get togethers get to be publicly announced, they are already full before a posting.
Stay in touch via PM or dojoseminars@gmail.com
All the best
Dan

DH
08-16-2011, 10:44 AM
writing to Mike:
Wow, everything is not always about you dude.
Eric
Indeed...fixation!!:rolleyes:
I had so many personalities and different debate topics from here and Ebudo and RSF running through my head in my two posts, including debates of the Taiji classics, the Kojiki, Kotodama, and Ueshiba's words, and then actual skills. Not the least of which was the OP's idea of "When is Aikido a Non aikido martial art".
I was thnking of how many angry posts by amateurs I have read, on the Net....
Then meeting with senior aikido teachers who later tell me ....This is Aikido!! And Daito ryu teachers saying "This is Daito ryu," and Master class Taiji teachers saying "this is silk reeling." The funniest being one Taiji teacher who said in broken English "No taiji?" and later when doing push hands, again a rather confused and sort of unbelieving repeat, with a tone like he would have used in English "Seriously dude, No taiji?"
Only to return to the Net and ........
More angry post by amateurs about what is or isn't internal or aiki. :rolleyes:
Likewise, I have lost track of how many Aikido teachers have told me they have met Taiji teachers, Bagua or Daito ryu teachers, or some Karate teachers who were "Doing aiki.'
I suspect it's always been this way in Budo.
Oh well
Dan

DH
08-16-2011, 11:26 AM
Hi Alec
You're welcome. I read your Bio. That's a good way to go. All I'm saying is to remain neutral and check the information and these pundits out. All of them. I recommend it all the time. The Hawaii group is a good example. I recommended all those people, instead of just sticking with me. Never settle for one view. If you think the subject is always about you it's rather revealing. When you live in a small world, you have a small view. We need a broad exposure for a more educated view.
All the best
Dan

Gees, I forgot another premier group; George Ledyard's who are doing the same thing....gulp. Sorry George!! :o
Cheers
Dan

Aikibu
08-16-2011, 11:34 AM
Sensei Ledyard writes... In contrast, the wonderful sentiments expressed by many people about peace, harmony, personal transformation etc. coupled with a sort of "it's all ok" sentiment regarding technique is equally missing the point. Beautiful ideas with absolutely no understanding of how those ideas are grounded in the physical realm of reality, with no ability to really connect the spiritual with ones waza in a way that actually is real is not Aikido either.

It is the great tragedy of Aikido that there are so few people who seem to be able to bring these elements together. All concepts in Aikido are grounded in waza. As you start to really get a handle on "aiki", you can see exactly how the Founder developed his ideas about how waza and the spiritual come together. It is then that one can start taking ideas from the spiritual realm and allowing them to inform our waza. This process is Aikido, as far as I can see.

Perfect...Thanks Sensei and in the spirit of Aikido I am going to steal this and quote you all over the darn place! :) I agree with the other posters here... I hope you (and Dan Harden too) write a book someday.

WIlliam Hazen

George S. Ledyard
08-16-2011, 11:57 AM
Hello Sensei Ledyard! Kind of an aside, but I find that I always enjoy reading whatever you write. You have the voice of a scholar, and of a reflective person, apart from being knowledgeable about aikido.

This leads me to two questions: (1) Have you written any aikido books? [Or are there other writings that you have done on-line or elsewhere, whether or not about aikido?]; and (2) If you had to pick three foundational ideas to convey to others about your own understanding and practice of aikido, what in your view is most important?

:) Michael Greenberg

Thanks Michael for your kind words. No, I have not written any books... Folks have asked but I have to say after talking to Ellis and Bill Gleason about how they worked on their books, I am reluctant... Huge effort for not a lot of return, really. It is far easier to reach people through my videos and, at least in terms of talking about waza and principles, I think videos are more effective as an instructional device. Communicating ideas is another matter... but I have so far limited myself to writing on-line. If you search here on aikiweb and on Aikido Journal you'll find that I may have exceeded my son's time on World of Warcraft writing about Aikido.

I don't think I can really pin down a set of key ideas. I think it depends on whether we are talking about Aikido technique or Aikido as a transformational process, whether we are talking about Kihon waza or martial application.

I guess these days my main focus with people is to emphasize practice that should focus on relaxing the mind and the body. That's common to any aspect of Aikido one wants to talk about. The work I am doing with Dan Harden, Howard Popkin, and my own teachers is helping me understand a lot more about what "connection" really is. It is far more complex than anything I had ever had explained.

Anyway, relaxing is the big focus. The only way to really start relaxing is to stop being fearful. There are so many ways that we exhibit fear. As we start to transform fear into something more positive, it changes everything about how we do technique and how we relate to the world. There is huge power that comes with not being afraid all the time. But it is a constant process, I think. The easy part is not being afraid of being hurt, of being fearful of the physical contact. The harder part is not being afraid of really connecting with people. One has to allow oneself to be vulnerable to do that. There are all sorts of folks you can see who are really scary powerful physically but scared to death to be vulnerable and their interactions are all tinged wit fear, their martial power being used to cover that up. I think Aikido is supposed to help address that. Whether it does or not depend on how folks train. I am still trying to work out what I think the proper balance is.
- George

George S. Ledyard
08-16-2011, 12:03 PM
Yeouch, come on Dan, please don't get too cynical! Even those who aren't totally "missing it" are going to suck at first, right?

The great thing about working with Dan is that he'll look at you and say "Wow! That really sucked..." Then he laughs and shows you how to do it better. He's one of the few people I know who can make you feel like a bozo and you enjoy it. It's a talent...

Janet Rosen
08-16-2011, 12:41 PM
The great thing about working with Dan is that he'll look at you and say "Wow! That really sucked..." Then he laughs and shows you how to do it better. He's one of the few people I know who can make you feel like a bozo and you enjoy it. It's a talent...

LOL! I've spent almost every moment of my years in training feeling like (as I described it back around 5th kyu) "a happy idiot" :)

Belt_Up
08-16-2011, 01:06 PM
"a happy idiot"

Guilty, m'lud.

Most of my training time is filled with a sense of bafflement and wonder, coupled with amusement and amazement whenever I manage a technique which I cannot understand or follow mentally, but which I can physically perform.

matty_mojo911
08-18-2011, 05:55 PM
Ueshiba was pretty darned irrascible, according to most of the records, so where the "spiritual" focus comes from, without caveat, is sort of dumbfounding.

Ueshiba's reputation was made on his martial prowess, not on his spirituality.

Mike Sigman

The part about his reputation - agreed.

However Aikido was "created" as a development of his prior martial arts experience, and his spirituality, I think it would be accepted that that was the case.

If you believe the story of O'Senseis "enlightenment" do you think this was "caused" by his prior martial arts, or his spirituality? I suggest more by his spirituality.

Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't this enlightenment key in his development of Aikido.

Therefore what was more important in the creation of Aikido? His spirituality? Or his prior martial arts experience?

gregstec
08-18-2011, 06:22 PM
Sensei Ledyard writes...

Perfect...Thanks Sensei and in the spirit of Aikido I am going to steal this and quote you all over the darn place! :) I agree with the other posters here... I hope you (and Dan Harden too) write a book someday.

WIlliam Hazen

The only thing stopping Dan from writing a book is a technology short coming - they have not invented a spell checker efficient enough to handle the volume - :p

Greg

gregstec
08-18-2011, 06:29 PM
Thanks Michael for your kind words. No, I have not written any books... Folks have asked but I have to say after talking to Ellis and Bill Gleason about how they worked on their books, I am reluctant... Huge effort for not a lot of return, really. It is far easier to reach people through my videos and, at least in terms of talking about waza and principles, I think videos are more effective as an instructional device. Communicating ideas is another matter... but I have so far limited myself to writing on-line. If you search here on aikiweb and on Aikido Journal you'll find that I may have exceeded my son's time on World of Warcraft writing about Aikido.

I don't think I can really pin down a set of key ideas. I think it depends on whether we are talking about Aikido technique or Aikido as a transformational process, whether we are talking about Kihon waza or martial application.

I guess these days my main focus with people is to emphasize practice that should focus on relaxing the mind and the body. That's common to any aspect of Aikido one wants to talk about. The work I am doing with Dan Harden, Howard Popkin, and my own teachers is helping me understand a lot more about what "connection" really is. It is far more complex than anything I had ever had explained.

Anyway, relaxing is the big focus. The only way to really start relaxing is to stop being fearful. There are so many ways that we exhibit fear. As we start to transform fear into something more positive, it changes everything about how we do technique and how we relate to the world. There is huge power that comes with not being afraid all the time. But it is a constant process, I think. The easy part is not being afraid of being hurt, of being fearful of the physical contact. The harder part is not being afraid of really connecting with people. One has to allow oneself to be vulnerable to do that. There are all sorts of folks you can see who are really scary powerful physically but scared to death to be vulnerable and their interactions are all tinged wit fear, their martial power being used to cover that up. I think Aikido is supposed to help address that. Whether it does or not depend on how folks train. I am still trying to work out what I think the proper balance is.
- George

The only true to way to not be afraid is to be absolutely insane - I have been working on that for a while - just ask those that know me :crazy:

Greg

gregstec
08-18-2011, 06:33 PM
The great thing about working with Dan is that he'll look at you and say "Wow! That really sucked..." Then he laughs and shows you how to do it better. He's one of the few people I know who can make you feel like a bozo and you enjoy it. It's a talent...

Yes, it is a talent and we actually thank the SOB for it and then buy him a drink - for an insight reference, please look at my post that mentions insanity :freaky:

Greg

Ken McGrew
11-12-2011, 12:25 PM
Sense,

It is difficult to reconcile this quote, which I agree with entirely, with your praise of Dan who is opposed to everything you say below.

I think these discussions always get problematical because, as O-Sensei was frequently quoted as saying, "no one is doing my Aikido." Notice he didn't say, "No one is doing my Aikido any more" or "No one after 1942 is doing my Aikido."

For the Founder, there simply was no distinction between the various elements of his practice. Meaning his waza, his spiritual beliefs, his misogi training, even his farming, was all Aikido. The thirties deshi, especially his nephew Inoue sensei, were technically the closest in terms of waza but other than Inoue. none of them seemed the least interested in his spiritual practices, at least the ones who are famous because they started their own styles (Shioda, Tomiki, Mochizuki). Shirata Sensei was the only one of the thirties deshi of any great repute who stayed with the Aikikai.

I have mentioned before a conversation I had with Saotome Sensei and Stan Pranin about which of O-Sensei's students tried hardest to understand Aikido the way the Founder understood it. The answer was Hikitsuchi, Abe, and Sunadomari. Notice that none of these are early thirties deshi.

It is clear that the early thirties deshi did Daito Ryu. As has been discussed at length elsewhere, they did various forms of "internal power" development exercises that largely seemed to drop out of Aikido after the war. But I think it would be a huge mistake to say that their Aikido was any closer to O-Sensei's Aikido than the post war folks. From the standpoint of the Founder, I think their Aikido was just as out of balance as much of what came later.

In addition to the three teachers I mentioned who pursued their Aikido as a balanced technical / spiritual practice, there were many students of the Founder who incorporated aspects of his practice into their own. Some studied kototama, some tried to get outside martial arts experience (as the Founder had), some, like my own teacher, Saotome Sensei, tried very hard to understand what the Founder was talking about when he taught as obscure as it was, and then translate it into ideas that would be meaningful to modern Japanese, and later American practitioners.

When you hear that O-Sensei yelled at people for not doping technique "right" are we talking about particular stylistic details not being correct? Or are we talking about the difference between what works and what doesn't? My take on O-Sensei was that as he developed his Aikido, he progressively became less and less concerned with exactly how one did a given technique and more and more with whether it embodied the proper principles.

I have direct experience of this myself with my own teacher. While students focus on how they think Sensei did such and such a sword form on his video, my experience is that he cares not one whit that my form is a bit different than his. As long as it embodies the principles he was striving to teach via the form, he isn't that concerned with the actual form itself, in fact he often has trouble remembering the exact forms, even though he made them up.

It was the students of the Founder who were so concerned with form, and naturally so. They had to distill the massive amount of teaching they received from the Founder into something they could digest themselves and then in turn, pass on to another generation of students. I see no evidence that O-Sensei was the least interested in "form" as he developed his art. Saito Sensei was really the last deshi to get a lot of detailed technical training because it was with Saito that O-Sensei worked out what would become the foundations of post war Aikido.

Whether you go back to the thirties or read the accounts of the post war deshi, it is clear that what O-Sensei thought was important about Aikido was its balance between the spiritual and the technical. When he taught, he talked about spiritual principles and then demonstrated how those principles were embodied in technique. That's just a fact. It is also a fact that the majority of his students simply couldn't go there with him.

I think it has always been the case the Aikido was about finding your own Aikido. O-Sensei presented his ideas about what that might be but never developed any systematic method for passing it on. I still believe that, in the end, the one student whose Aikido was probably the closest to that of the Founder, both technically and philosophically was Inoue Sensei, who had very little following in Japan and almost none overseas.

To the extent that one seeks "O-Sensei's Aikido" it is rather like the research required to reconstruct the original texts of Buddhism. The original texts in Sanskrit are lost, destroyed by the Islamic invaders of Northern India. To get an idea of what was in the originals, one has to look at the Pali, the Chinese and the Tibetan texts and compare them. Anything that appears in all three versions is assumed to have been in the original.

So we can look at various teachers from different time periods and derive pieces of the Founder's Aikido. But no one, whether it's pre-war or post-war, was either technically or spiritually doing exactly what the Founder had done. That's a fact. We can get over it and move on with our Aikido or we can keep trying to set up our own "Jurassic Park" of Aikido using various strands of Aikido DNA left behind in other practitioners.

It's not O-Sensei's Aikido that we are striving for. It's our own Aikido that perhaps O-Sensei might have recognized and hopefully, approved of. No one duplicated his Aikido when he was alive and they could train with him on a daily level. There is zero chance we can duplicate it for ourselves. But I do think he had an intention about what the art should be as a transformative practice. I do think that he expected that what one could express from a spiritual point of view one should be able to express on the mat technically. Aikido is fundamentally a marriage of the material and the spiritual. It is meant to be an art which unifies these two realms. If it is not, then we can with certainty say it isn't O-Sensei's Aikido. If this isn't something we are at least striving for, I don't think it's Aikido.

The folks who simply say they aren't interested in the spiritual side of the art, that the Founder isn't really relevant to their practice are not doing Aikido, in my opinion. The focus on mere effectiveness, the obsession with application and the almost complete lack of any thoughtfulness regarding the art simply isn't Aikido. Most of the time it's just bad jujutsu.

In contrast, the wonderful sentiments expressed by many people about peace, harmony, personal transformation etc. coupled with a sort of "it's all ok" sentiment regarding technique is equally missing the point. Beautiful ideas with absolutely no understanding of how those ideas are grounded in the physical realm of reality, with no ability to really connect the spiritual with ones waza in a way that actually is real is not Aikido either.

It is the great tragedy of Aikido that there are so few people who seem to be able to bring these elements together. All concepts in Aikido are grounded in waza. As you start to really get a handle on "aiki", you can see exactly how the Founder developed his ideas about how waza and the spiritual come together. It is then that one can start taking ideas from the spiritual realm and allowing them to inform our waza. This process is Aikido, as far as I can see.

Ken McGrew
11-12-2011, 12:26 PM
Here he is undermining what you have stated. Hi Alec,
With the Chinese or Japanese writings it is important to realize that the real experts debate and argue over the meaning of them. When you look at the Japanese classics you have just as much debate as the Chinese and this is evident in Kotodama and the Kojiki. It is probably wise to spend the time to research and talk with more knowledgeable people than consulting with and offering false expertise to amateur nobodies, or to get too involved debating with newbies, or arguing physics models with people with little skill as some sort of verification , validation or 'imagining" that it is leading to some sort of immutable and final understanding.
That is as stupid and as ignorant, as not reading them at all.

The people who claim to understand Ueshiba's spirituality have not done so in any methodology that is vetted by a peer review. Nor have those who claim a physical expertise been able to match his examples in an undisputed fashion. Mind/body is inexorably intertwined, but not in the ways many parties would agree to. Therefore, I am disinclined to give too much credence to either group. It's more data, and that is about as far as it will ever go. Some things are more obvious than others;
Young turks using muscle and cranking are clearly missing it,
So are airy fairies spinning around the room afraid to even use their arms lest they power up..

Another interesting look at this loss of understanding- which the founder understood how to fix -is in this translation
"In order to achieve the mysterious workings of ki based upon intent, first realize the appearance of the foundation that is the ki connection (ki musubi) between the left side of the physical body grounded in the martial and the right that receives the universe. If you can achieve this connection between the left and the right then you will be able to move with complete freedom."

There is far too much hubris and self imposed and unrecognized "expertise" of a complicated topic going on here. Moreover the people presenting are not offering an intellectually honest debate where they at least make it known that the tenants of some of their own arguments are debated within a given discipline. Instead they present as if it is all agreed upon. I will leave it up to the individual to determine if this is the result of ignorance, or arrogance, or both.

"In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king."

I am an advocate for research, but in budo at the end of the day, it is as it always was. The people who claim a deeper understanding needed to demonstrate it with competency up against those who actually do posses it. Everything is up for grabs as total BS, to partial understanding, on to a well played smoke screen.
Example:
Where are the holes in Mr A's game?
Mr. B's?
Most do not posses the competency to know the difference and will not know until later or maybe never at all. It's always been that way...always, even under master class teachers.

Non Aikido and Aikido.
With the current discussion of Ueshiba we have an interesting mix:
People claiming to have trained with him everyday who did not
People claiming they understood him when nothing they have written would support that
People claiming they understand him and nothing they physically can do would support that
People who claim they understand his spiritual leanings and how it produced power, yet no one else who did just that produced the same power
And of late we have some serious translation issues, which demonstrate that ...surprise, surprise...people outside of aikido more and more are the ones who understand many of the principles he was talking about after all. And more and more, we are seeing it was in fact not code, but actually known principles for budo movement that the aikido translaters didn't have a clue about.

There was no clear model set forth by the founder that all agree to. Only tid bits and hints that remain open for debate. So When is Non aikido....aikido? Maybe when non aikido people can understand many of the principles the inventor of the art actually meant when he spoke and can explain it and demonstrate power and aiki and teach it to the arts teachers...or maybe not.
Good luck in your training
Dan

hughrbeyer
11-12-2011, 06:28 PM
Ken, it's clear that Dan's gotten up your nose, but would you drop it? Screw Dan. Who's he? Some nobody with a low-level degree in Aikido and a bunch of opinions.

You don't have a problem with Dan. You have a problem with all the Aikidoka, some very senior, some less so, who have taken up what Dan has to offer and made it a problem in the Aikido world. If it weren't for us he'd still be a voice crying in the wilderness.

He's a tar baby. Everyone who's taken a swing at him ends up not only stuck hard, but getting tar on everybody around them. Very annoying to those who wish to keep their hakama clean, I understand that.

Keep clear of him--and the rest of us with tar on our gis--or engage, and risk the tar. Battle at a distance is not likely to get you anywhere.

[Posting under the influence of Sam Adam's Double Bock today. Highly recommended as a cure for bland and information-heavy posts.]

sakumeikan
11-12-2011, 07:44 PM
The way i see it after o'sensei died some of his close students chopped aikido in piecies each claiming his own style rather than concentrating on creating a next generation of capable aikidoka of high level.They considered o'sensei a...god, they spread around incredible stories of his exploits and his "magical"powers and when the time came they served their ego instead of the art, giving priority on who is affiliated with whom, who is flying under whose wing, and o'sensei's vision of uniting the world under aikido became an echo in the distance.When aikido came to the west it was chopped to even more pieces with instructors who teached selectively bits and parts of aikido according to their...taste.So there goes weapons training(suburi, kata ,kumi-tachi, kumi-jo e.t.c), there goes advanced tai-jutsu such as ganseki otoshi or gaeshi waza,there goes fast, effective technique not to mention iai-do as a suplemental training.Ki, kokyu and other important esoteric elements were either not mentioned at all or were twisted into a new age type of religion with very few exceptions.And then came that tall, american guy with his pony-tail and at last we had a healthy image of real and effective aikido through his teachings and, why not, through his movies.As he insisted that there is only one aikido the majoriy of the aikido world found him not good enough because he was too...effective.Once again people remembered o'sensei's "soft" legacy, forgetting of course that o'sensei had saved his own life many times using aikido back in the day before it got stripped of its fundamental parts of its training menu in favour of a ballet-like practice.Aikido's roots are in daito-ryu, o'sensei didn't invent the aikido techniques.He created a modern way of teaching a true martial art in a world where the classic bushi and the samurai warrior had become extinct.So there is only one aikido, there can be no other "style".All we have to do is practice it.That is i think the "secret" of o'sensei's abilities and that is the legacy he left behind.And if at a very advanced level one wants to be creative, as long as it is within aikido's basic principles it is aikido...
Dear Yannis,
I think you are incorrect when you state that weapons, iaido/batto ho , kokyu etc , meditation techniques have been [in your opinion] neglected.Perhaps this is the case in some places?I can assure you that we here in the U.K ,
continue the study of such disciplines .Of course not everyone in our group wants to practice these [its not mandatory-personal choice ] but we do have many students who indeed do so .I rarely do Za Zen since my knees are a bit rusty.Cheers, Joe.

sakumeikan
11-12-2011, 08:02 PM
Dear Yannis,
I think you are incorrect when you state that weapons, iaido/batto ho , kokyu etc , meditation techniques have been [in your opinion] neglected.Perhaps this is the case in some places?I can assure you that we here in the U.K ,
continue the study of such disciplines .Of course not everyone in our group wants to practice these [its not mandatory-personal choice ] but we do have many students who indeed do so .I rarely do Za Zen since my knees are a bit rusty.Cheers, Joe.
Dear Yannis,
I apologise for my comments.I reread the thread and noticed I had given you the same answer/info before.Thanks, Joe.
Regarding whether we are doing O Senseis Aikido .The answer hhas to be no.Each of us can only do our OWN aikido.Since we are each unique individuals it stands to reason we cannot have the identical physical/mental/spiritual make up.We are not clones of anybody.So why be a clone of any teacher?As long as we try and utilise the elements inherent in Aikido to the best of our ability, each person should gain from Aikido training.For me personally I prefer to train in BIG aikido.So much more rewarding than simply spending time in a dojo.
Cheers, Joe

phitruong
11-12-2011, 10:39 PM
Sense,

It is difficult to reconcile this quote, which I agree with entirely, with your praise of Dan who is opposed to everything you say below.

just boggle the mind isn't it. here you have a guy insulted you and seemed to insult everything else. George did not only go postal on the guy, but invited him to his dojo to teach. that's just insane. personally, i think Ledyard sensei got hit in the head by Saotome sensei once too many times, and has finally lost his marble. come to think of it. there were other folks who did the same thing. they must be crazy too. must be some kind of a cult or .. *gasp* a movement, similar to when you jumping up and down yelling "Kill! Kill!" and get other folks to do it too. it must be a movement! i need to some of those craziness to balance my own insanity; sort of fight fire with fire which would only get you to break out into singing kumbaya and dancing naked around bonfire. :D

kewms
11-13-2011, 01:15 AM
Sense,

It is difficult to reconcile this quote, which I agree with entirely, with your praise of Dan who is opposed to everything you say below.

Hmm. You know nothing of Dan beyond his forum posts. Ledyard Sensei has trained with him on multiple occasions. Who do *you* think has more accurate knowledge of how his instruction relates to aikido practice?

Katherine