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Ellis Amdur
09-22-2011, 11:09 PM
There are a number of quotes, here and there, from Takeda Sokaku, in regards to Ueshiba Morihei, speaking disparagingly of his skills, that he was incompletely trained, etc. Now, remember the kind of man that Takeda was: he'd suddenly appear, verbally abuse everyone, back himself in a corner with iron chopsticks ready to ward off an attack, basically acting like a paranoid old man. (And lest one think that this was just the Ueshiba partisans being nasty, remember that his own son, Tokimune, described him keeping an unsheathed knife underneath his sarashi (belly band) so that his stomach was covered with scars, and how he stabbed his own son in the shoulder when one night the boy tried to put a futon on his sleeping father's uncovered body).

So, these insults could easily be chalked up to Takeda putting down his talented student who deserted him, and who, from his perspective, didn't pay him the money he believed he was owed.

BUT - there is some fascinating testimony that suggests, in one respect, Ueshiba agreed with him. Please remember that classic statement where Ueshiba was asked if he learned aikido from Takeda and he replied, "Takeda opened my eyes to true budo." This phrase has ignited all sorts of discussion amongst the sensitive. Some put-upon partisans of Takeda took it as an insult. Equally vociferous proponents of Ueshiba view it as clear evidence that Ueshiba was saying that Takeda taught this brutal crude stuff, quite unlike the refined and far superior aikido. As for the latter, not only Westerners. Tohei, in his resignation letter condemns the Aikikai by stating that aikido without ki is merely Daito-ryu. And Saito once asserted that what made aikido superior to Daito-ryu was that aikido had kokyu and Daito-ryu did not. (OF course, it is fair to wonder what Daito-ryu they observed).

Anyway, "Takeda opened my eyes to true budo."

So let us consider this passage:
I’ll show it to you later, but there is a pond in the garden called the "Kinryukai" In the old days before the suppression of the religion, it was 2 ½ times larger than now, but it was buried during the Omoto Affair. Later we rebuilt the pond by removing trees and earth, giving our effort as a labor offering. Ueshiba Sensei, of course, joined up, and as early as then he had tremendous, super-human strength, even though he wasn’t built very heavily. He said at the time that although he had physical strength he still didn’t quite understand true budo.

This is a quote from an interview from Bansho Ashihara, of the Omotokyo. To be sure, I do not have the original Japanese of either phrase, but it is quite interesting, considering the context. It's hard to tell when the pond was rebuilt, or if this is an account of it's original construction, but given the other stories in the article, it appears that Ashihara conflates a number of dates. It's unlikely that this was, as it reads, post-war. At any rate, although he had "superhuman strength," he didn't quite understand true budo."

My theory here.
1. By true budo, Ueshiba meant aiki. Takeda showed him aiki - of course, I'm not the first to suggest this.
2. But consider. Ueshiba's last sustained tuition with Takeda was in Ayabe in 1921, although he did subsequently attend a number of short seminars, but he is saying that in the late 1930's he STILL didn't understand true budo - aiki. Just as Takeda said when he took over the Asahi Shinbun class in Osaka in the late 1930's.
3. That suggests that, quite apart from his nasty insults and Oscar the Grouch, "isn't Uncle Sokaku ever going to leave!!!!" manners, he may have been accurately stating that Ueshiba still didn't completely get it.
4. What held him back??? I think he was "power proud." Even in the 1950's, Ueshiba proudly posed with his shirt off, (see John Steven's latest book) exhibiting the body of a miniature middle linebacker. Ueshiba, so proud of his titanic physical strength, seems to have had a difficult time letting it go - and doing the exercises he learned when his "eyes were open" with the correct body organization.
5. He seems to have believed - based on his own statements - that he "got" it in 1942 - at Iwama.

In my opinion, that such a genius as Ueshiba took over 25 years since his first meeting with Takeda to "get it" doesn't mean that achieving skill at aiki must take that long. The blessing of his own powerful body, I think, got in the way, and delayed his progress.

Of course, aiki is not aikido. For Ueshiba, it also included calling down the kami, and deliberate physical innovations he made in technique. Aikido is no more Daito-ryu than BJJ is judo. But true budo? That's aiki - and apparently both Takeda and Ueshiba agreed that until the late 1930's, Ueshiba didn't have it yet.

Ellis Amdur

mathewjgano
09-22-2011, 11:44 PM
Ueshiba, so proud of his titanic physical strength, seems to have had a difficult time letting it go - and doing the exercises he learned when his "eyes were open" with the correct body organization.
This might be a dumb question, but do you mean his power may have been more rooted to normal muscular strength before 1942?

Ellis Amdur
09-23-2011, 12:08 AM
Yep. That's what he seems to have said himself. Though I would know what year, when, etc., he made the change that he, himself, asserted he made. But that is, from all I've read, the general time period.

mathewjgano
09-23-2011, 12:44 AM
Yep. That's what he seems to have said himself. Though I would know what year, when, etc., he made the change that he, himself, asserted he made. But that is, from all I've read, the general time period.

That's very interesting, I just wanted to make sure I was reading it right. Thank you, Ellis! It's interesting that he may have "got it" after the bulk of his training with Takeda.
2. But consider. Ueshiba's last sustained tuition with Takeda was in Ayabe in 1921,

worrier
09-23-2011, 03:25 AM
His 'titanic muscular power', loved that. It's nice he admits he didn't quite understand true budo, instead of being overly confident he knew what he was doing from the beginning.

Dazzler
09-23-2011, 04:48 AM
So If I'm cutting to the chase...essentialy Ellis is saying that Ueshiba's physical prowess inhibited his ability to recognise true budo / 'Aiki' power and delayed his 'eureka!' moment for a long time?

I'd say that resonates very accurately with a the frequent posters we get here that say 'I've done weightlifting/body building/boxing/pancration or I'm 9 feet tall and 350 kilos...and no-one in my dojo can handle me so Aiki must be rubbish'.

I know that I was introduced to Aikido by a competition weghtlifter and that was exactly his experience...he struggled to learn because everyone fell over even when he was doing it wrong.

Whether this is the factor in things taking time for O'Sensei to have his eyes open...or whether it was a greater attachment / pride in his power I don't know....its probably speculation anyway.

Regards

D

Tim Ruijs
09-23-2011, 06:43 AM
Ueshiba started to strengthen himself as a youth, presumably because of bad/low health. He practised a lot of martial arts.
Perhaps he was looking to (physically) strong and finally when he met Takeda 'saw' true Budo in that Budo is not about physical strength... like you said speculation....

SteliosPapadakis
09-23-2011, 06:43 AM
I have been pushing weights for something like 20 years now. i am above average strong, obviously, but i never wish to show it. Even when i started doing aikido, i never used my myscle power when a technique "would not work". And i always tried to be as flexible as a man can be (most of my classmates believe i am the most flexible guy around). When i started doing aikido, even from lesson one and without anyone telling me anything, i tried to blend with the class and the no-resistance spirit.
With this said, i find it somehow (errr how do i say this...) improper? difficult to believe? difficult to accept? that O Sensei was thinking otherwise. That, even at the initial steps in whatever he thought Budo was after he parted from Takeda, he put forward his bodily physical strength instead of the unified body and mind aiki power...
A bit confused here...

Demetrio Cereijo
09-23-2011, 06:59 AM
But what "true budo" really means?

In genuine budo, however, simply foreseeing the enemy’s plan is not sufficient. But to equip your inner-self with the power to move the enemy according to your own will is the true Way of the Gods (kami no michi). This is just the tip on the iceberg of inspirational experience found in relation to budo. If the bujutsu trainees of this age were to realize that they should honor the “kami” and train in the oneness of the spirit and the body, they would be amazed with their own progress.

On the Martial Ways of Japan - The Training of Unification of Body and Spirit, by Moritaka Ueshiba (http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=676)

Tim Ruijs
09-23-2011, 07:14 AM
I do not think he (Ueshiba) did actually do this, but his mindset could have been, be better, be stronger, be faster...while deep down somehow knowing there was more to it, hence his queste for true Budo??? i do not know, was not there, never met him....

DH
09-23-2011, 09:07 AM
In my opinion, that such a genius as Ueshiba took over 25 years since his first meeting with Takeda to "get it" doesn't mean that achieving skill at aiki must take that long. The blessing of his own powerful body, I think, got in the way, and delayed his progress.
It all depends on what we mean by getting it. I think the first order of business is correct information, then correct follow through and practice. Aiki requires a physical change in the body and a change in mind/ body, that not everyone will pursue or ever attain. As Sagawa notes; "Stupid people will never be able to do aiki."

I've found that when reviewing the case of Ueshiba it is a smart bet to review his peers. All of the greats who trained with Takeda said essentially the same thing; That they didn't understand aiki till later. and that while Takeda taught them...They added things on their own.
Worthy of note is that Okomoto said the same thing.
A Japanese teacher in Daito ryu recently told one of his deshi that he knew everything he needed, now he just needed time to grow, there was nothing more to learn.
An ICMA teacher told a guy in his 50's that had everything in place, and was doing things correctly, but would not truly understand for another ten years. He then said he himself didn't understand until recently. He was Seventy.


Transformations
According to Kisshomaru, Ueshiba claimed enlightenment in the early twenties, that no one could harm him. I recently read another account stating the same thing. Am I missing something?
Or maybe it is as I stated in my opening, like a fine wine...time. He might have said in the 50's...only now am I understanding. That would not surprise me in the least.

Tohei, in his resignation letter condemns the Aikikai by stating that aikido without ki is merely Daito-ryu. And Saito once asserted that what made aikido superior to Daito-ryu was that aikido had kokyu and Daito-ryu did not. (OF course, it is fair to wonder what Daito-ryu they observed).
Good point, but I would dismiss both comments out of hand as nonsense.

All the best
Dan

Tim Ruijs
09-23-2011, 11:05 AM
Dan

Your analysis (for lack of better word) seems to say that while we may practise properly, we only understand after years, if at all. Does that mean 'simply' practise now without really trying to fully understand? Only practise, practise, practise?
This aspect intrigues me from a teacher's point of view. Because what effect would that have on constructing lessons? This is something I am currently spending quite some time on: which techniques to combine to have my students improve a single aspect (shi sei, kimusubi, kino nagaer, ma ai,...).
Thoughts?

HL1978
09-23-2011, 11:32 AM
Perhaps Ueshiba was contrasting muscle jin to qi/Jin?

If that's the case the above makes sense.

graham christian
09-23-2011, 11:53 AM
Yep. That's what he seems to have said himself. Though I would know what year, when, etc., he made the change that he, himself, asserted he made. But that is, from all I've read, the general time period.

Hi Ellis. If you have read my posts before you will know I have an alternative view.

He did state true budo is love. As people do not understand his references to love and universal love and the spirit of loving protection and thus can only see those words as meaning something other than budo then it is no wonder it takes so long to realize I would say.

His mention of physicality at those times you stated makes perfect sense to me for he hadn;t grasped true budo at that point. Yes he was into physical at that time though was questioning it.

Have you not read where he said he actually used to be obsessed with physical power and how he had now changed?

Have you not had your eyes opened to certain things by someone?

I have had such an experience, we all do, when something about someone doesn't add up. For example one person seems so great and representing true budo yet his arrogance and paranoia doesn't fit. Eventually this leads to a realization of true budo and the recognition that what that person had was not it. Therefore that person definitely did open your eyes to it but definitely didn't teach you it for he never had it in the first place.

Hikitsuchi describes quite well the relationship between his new Aikido and kotodama, spiritual being the new base. It seems to me it takes many years to get used to this.

Regards.G.

AsimHanif
09-23-2011, 11:58 AM
I don't think I've ever said this...or even thought this before but I agree with EVERYTHING DH said in his post:-)
I'm kind of scared now.

mathewjgano
09-23-2011, 12:12 PM
I have been pushing weights for something like 20 years now. i am above average strong, obviously, but i never wish to show it. Even when i started doing aikido, i never used my myscle power when a technique "would not work". And i always tried to be as flexible as a man can be (most of my classmates believe i am the most flexible guy around). When i started doing aikido, even from lesson one and without anyone telling me anything, i tried to blend with the class and the no-resistance spirit. With this said, i find it somehow (errr how do i say this...) improper? difficult to believe? difficult to accept? that O Sensei was thinking otherwise. That, even at the initial steps in whatever he thought Budo was after he parted from Takeda, he put forward his bodily physical strength instead of the unified body and mind aiki power...
A bit confused here...
Simply put, O Sensei didn't necessarily have the same frame of reference you did. Most of the people I've known who lifted weights very seriously were not what I would call flexible, for example.
Also, I don't get the impression Ellis is suggesting O Sensei was entirely muscle-based until some single eureka moment around 1942. My guess is that, assuming his muscle strength was indeed blinding him to some degree, Ueshiba had almost certainly begun to develop aiki connection by then through his training regiment, but that a deeper understanding of the deeper nature of the training perhaps became clear later on.
It's similar to learning math: you start with the form, develop familiarity with different parts, and over time, functional proficiency develops. None of this is to say the person understands the equations, only that they know how to move the numbers around to get a reliable result. In fact there is a debate going on in some circles now that most people (who study it) don't really "understand" math, even though they may always arrive at the correct answer through the common algorithm.

I don't think I've ever said this...or even thought this before but I agree with EVERYTHING DH said in his post:-)
I'm kind of scared now.

:D

Mary Eastland
09-23-2011, 12:49 PM
Power is only part of the process...self knowledge and enlightment are important, too.

Rabih Shanshiry
09-23-2011, 01:43 PM
Ueshiba may have felt he had some sort of personal breakthrough in 1942, but I think it's pretty clear he had aiki well before then.

His prewar students are generally considered to have absorbed more of Ueshiba's internal skills, as whole, than later disciples. They all studied with him most intensively in the 1930s before the war and the run up to the war intervened.

We're also all familiar with the story of Tenryu and the awe he felt when he grasped Ueshiba's arm for the first time. That was pre-1942 and it obviously wasn't muscular strength that impressed the sumo champ.

I also agree with what Dan wrote above. It makes perfect sense to assume that Ueshiba felt he knew more in 1942 than he did in 1932. One can assume he'd say the same in 1952 and then in 1962 as well.

So Ellis - can you define more precisely what exactly it is that you think Ueshiba discovered or realized in 1942? I'm having a hard time seeing "true budo" = aiki = 1942.

Gorgeous George
09-23-2011, 02:28 PM
'lol' @ Graham Christian lecturing Ellis Amdur.

graham christian
09-23-2011, 02:37 PM
'lol' @ Graham Christian lecturing Ellis Amdur.

Lol. Asking my friend, asking.

phitruong
09-23-2011, 07:46 PM
i don't really subscribe to the "true budo" = aiki. in my opinion, true budo is the way of the warrior, and aiki is one skill set or aspect/ability of a warrior. the chinese talked about the ideal warrior knows the will of gods. actually, plan and execute strategy likes he/she knows the will of gods. if you watched the movie Red Cliff, there is a scene where the Zhuge Liang, military advisor of Liu Bei, plan when the battle needs to start. one of his friend asked, "you seemed to know the will of heaven!" to which Liang replied "i know the change of heaven and earth!" (the weather pattern over the region and how the enemy think). or on personal sort of thing depicted in this scene of Ronin (one of my favorite movie) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Z_nTdyN6Tk a seemingly innocent placement of the coffee cup leads to a trap.

the evolution of the warrior goes through many phases, just as Ueshiba did. the young warrior seeks speed, power, and accomplishment through such means. he was aggressive and believed in his invincibility. along the way, the young warrior chance encountered an aged warrior that all the speed and power and aggressiveness of the young warrior could not overcome. the young warrior realized he wasn't as invincible as he once thought. so he followed the old warrior and learned his way. along the way, the young, now older and a bit wiser, warrior realized that he must forge his own path, as the way of warrior, where one cannot walk in another path. but as an honorable warrior, he must give dues to the old warrior. he, thus, spoke "he (the old warrior) shown me the true budo". and thus, spoke that he understood the gift, but he must forge his own path, where he must adapt the skill to his way and lived not the way of the old warrior, because that's not his way since he encountered another teacher of a different way, a spiritual way, who pointed out that there were more than one warrior ways. and time was changing. so as the young warrior aged, his way became more subtle, almost magical. he spoke of magical things. many believed in the magic, other believed in might. he was both for he believed he had reached the ideal warrior stage where he knew heaven and earth and where he stood in between.
so the young warrior had evolved from might, to skill, to subtlety. and power transformed from raw, to channel, to encompass through the young warrior evolution along his warrior path. his warrior way. his do.

ok, i am rambling. time for some serious drinking. :)

DH
09-23-2011, 08:26 PM
i don't really subscribe to the "true budo" = aiki. in my opinion, true budo is the way of the warrior, and aiki is one skill set or aspect/ability of a warrior. the chinese talked about the ideal warrior knows the will of gods. actually, plan and execute strategy likes he/she knows the will of gods.
Hi Phi
I completely disagree. To put it simply what would happen if there really was a truly better way to approach power and control in budo?
A...superior...method.
I believe there is. All of the other aspects are secondary. It is the reason it is kept secret and it is the reason the Asian do not teach it to everyone and rarely teach it to westerners. For those who know it, they know that it is superior to everything else they knew previously. Hence men like Ueshiba saying Takeda opened my eyes to true budo, Chen fake calling it The great mystery...and many seasoned warriors considering the most important thing of all.
Of course there are other things to learn, I'm not saying that and neither are they. But we are talking about comparative value to those who can make those comparisons. Not others. If you don't know, then...well..I'm not going to argue about it.
If I had to, I would trade everything I know, all my skills, for this understanding.
All the best
Dan

phitruong
09-23-2011, 08:59 PM
Hi Phi
I completely disagree. To put it simply what would happen if there really was a truly better way to approach power and control in budo?
A...superior...method.
Dan

i don't doubt there are superior methods. my statement was that budo encompass these methods and then beyond. budo is a super set, where aiki is a member. for thousands of years, warriors seek better way all the time. it's the nature of the warrior, to be a better warrior in every way, not just personal prowess. i am sure you heard the chinese phrase that translated into "four ounces move a thousand pounds" http://connect.gonzaga.edu/bormann/moving-1000-pounds-with-4-ounces that phrase implied aiki and the foundation of taiji. the asians seek that way for long time. methink, long before Takeda.

DH
09-23-2011, 09:19 PM
i don't doubt there are superior methods. my statement was that budo encompass these methods and then beyond. budo is a super set, where aiki is a member. for thousands of years, warriors seek better way all the time. it's the nature of the warrior, to be a better warrior in every way, not just personal prowess. i am sure you heard the chinese phrase that translated into "four ounces move a thousand pounds" http://connect.gonzaga.edu/bormann/moving-1000-pounds-with-4-ounces that phrase implied aiki and the foundation of taiji. the asians seek that way for long time. methink, long before Takeda.
I am not sure where your point is leading, you are sort of wondering and mixing things together.
The very heart of four ounces to move a thousand pounds come from the taiji classics verse sixteen, but the heart of it denoted power, Phi, as is expressed and expanded on in the other songs.
It is a simple, yet profound principle echoed in Takeda's/Ueshiba's 5 and 5 makes ten 7 and 3 makes ten. The requirement remains to have power.To be able to stand like a mountain echo.. or the model is for not. And the four onces-which is not meant to be exact in any works I have ever read- is meant to simply discuss how little effort it takes when certain trained awareness is in place as is discussed in the previous verse (fifteen). The opperative word being to study to have this ability, as it isn't natural. Skimming through that article I was not impressed. Try reading CXW or LCD or HJS words on the idea.
At any rate you were first referencing a greater scope on strategy for a warrior using aiki as being a part of a whole and have now changed to erroneously referencing classical examples from one-on-one engagements to a larger field. Which way are we going here? There are much better works for thoughts on strategy.

Ellis Amdur
09-23-2011, 09:45 PM
Phi wrote:
i don't really subscribe to the "true budo" = aiki. in my opinion, true

Phi - you'd have a stronger case, except for the context of the second quote:

He said at the time that although he had physical strength he still didn’t quite understand true budo.

The quote is specific to him lifting large weights, running with heavy buckets of debris on a yoke on his shoulders, etc. Not about how to be a samurai, a true warrior, or any of that stuff. And this leads to my next response.

Rabih wrote:
Ueshiba may have felt he had some sort of personal breakthrough in 1942, but I think it's pretty clear he had aiki well before then.
Again, to note a lovely nuance, "Still didn't quite (emphasis added) understand true budo.

I really don't think that this means he still didn't quite understand the "way of the warrior." Nor does it mean an either-or of crude lumpish power-lifter, verses elegant master of the ethereal. I'm referring - and I think Ueshiba is referring to the refining process - smelting steel from iron ore.

Which leads to Hunter writing:
Perhaps Ueshiba was contrasting muscle jin to qi/Jin?
I think so too. I think people are getting side-tracked on "muscles" as if they are a) a terrible thing to have b) by definition, crude. Not Hunter - I don't mean you. "Muscle jin" is not merely a powerlifting doing a dead lift. It is an incredibly sophisticated level of training, that may far exceed the power and worth of many training in qi/jin or aiki. I think few people have the benefit of pure aiki training, exclusively, since childhood, like some in the Chen family - or Sagawa, for example. Most come to this training from other sources. And therefore, they develop an alloy rather than a pure metal. And that alloy may be incredible. Consider this clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3q9yCwU5zA&feature=related
This is the utterly awe-inspiring, (to me, at least) Chen Xiang (not Chen village Chen - it's a common name), considered t'ai chi/xinyi Feng Zhi Qiang's top guy. BUT - his main art - his origin art - is Ba ji quan, considered by many to be the top power generation art, that used by the bodyguards in the Imperial palace and still used that way in Communist China. Allegedly, during the Vietnam war, Ho Chi Minh requested Baji-trained bodyguards from Mao.
Baji is, I am told by experts - a "muscle jin." Eventually Chen Xiang came to hunyuan t'ai chi, and has trained with tremendous dedication for decades. But some experts, far more knowledgeable than I, have informed me, even now, that what he does is not "pure." it is a combination of "muscle jin" and qijin. Maybe some, in the know, would deny this. BUT - consider if it were true. This man took all the challenges for Feng, when the master aged, and he is incredibly powerful, far more so than most of us will ever achieve, or even approach. Even if what he does is, by some standards, not "pure." (Lest some partisans get offended, I'm sure there is more than one viewpoint, and I'm using this as a hypothetical, to some degree).

Now, consider Ueshiba, another magnificently powerful guy. When such refined, honed muscle dominant power works for you - really well - it may be hard to completely give up. Imagine Ueshiba, in the 1930's, an amalgam of muscle and aiki. From most perspectives, he's nearly god-like in power. But from a guy at the very top (Takeda) he is described as an amalgam, not refined metal. And let us imagine that Ueshiba knows this too, that he's ruthless with himself, struggling to find that pure line of aiki, where aiki moves intent, not muscles move intent. So he self evaluates himself as "still didn't quite understand" - NOT "either-or," but still in the process of refinement.

Now, of course, I'm making a lot from a little. Why? Because it fuels a productive discussion for us today (I have an extensive ignore list, so I only read productive posts :) concerning a specific point - one can slow one's own progress if "power proud" (TM, all rights reserved).

Ellis Amdur

kewms
09-24-2011, 12:44 AM
It's an interesting observation, but at the same time somewhat obvious.

Mastery is a process. Why wouldn't someone as talented as Ueshiba Sensei clearly was continue to learn and grow throughout his life? Why wouldn't deeper levels of understanding reveal that his previous knowledge was incomplete or superficial? That's the way it works for the rest of us, why would he have been any different?

There's also the inevitable effect of aging to consider. His body simply had different capabilities at 40 than at 60, leaving him no choice but to find an approach less dependent on sheer physical power.

Katherine

Michael Varin
09-24-2011, 05:30 AM
My theory here.
1. By true budo, Ueshiba meant aiki. Takeda showed him aiki - of course, I'm not the first to suggest this.
2. But consider. Ueshiba's last sustained tuition with Takeda was in Ayabe in 1921, although he did subsequently attend a number of short seminars, but he is saying that in the late 1930's he STILL didn't understand true budo - aiki. Just as Takeda said when he took over the Asahi Shinbun class in Osaka in the late 1930's.
3. That suggests that, quite apart from his nasty insults and Oscar the Grouch, "isn't Uncle Sokaku ever going to leave!!!!" manners, he may have been accurately stating that Ueshiba still didn't completely get it.
4. What held him back??? I think he was "power proud." Even in the 1950's, Ueshiba proudly posed with his shirt off, (see John Steven's latest book) exhibiting the body of a miniature middle linebacker. Ueshiba, so proud of his titanic physical strength, seems to have had a difficult time letting it go - and doing the exercises he learned when his "eyes were open" with the correct body organization.
5. He seems to have believed - based on his own statements - that he "got" it in 1942 - at Iwama.


Nothing but mere conjecture.

gregstec
09-24-2011, 12:12 PM
Now, of course, I'm making a lot from a little. Why? Because it fuels a productive discussion for us today (I have an extensive ignore list, so I only read productive posts :) concerning a specific point - one can slow one's own progress if "power proud" (TM, all rights reserved).

Ellis Amdur

Ok, I will bite and see if I am on your ignore list :)

Was Ueshiba ‘Power Proud' and did that inhibit a smooth and efficient learning of Aiki? IMO, yes, for a couple primary reasons. The first is pretty obvious to those familiar with what Aiki is - you just don't use muscle when manifesting aiki, and for someone with muscle that has a proven track record of success with it, it is very hard to let that go on the conscience level as well as the sub-conscience level since the body has been conditioned that way. Which brings us to the second reason - it just takes time to develop the aiki body. It does not happen overnight and the more you place yourself in a martial environment, the more tendency you will have to stay with what works - therefore, slowing down the shift from muscle to an aiki developed body.

Others have already hit on some of the other things that would have a had an impact on his development. Paramount of which is how Ueshiba packaged all of this into his Omoto and Kototama belief system, which was the motivator in his life for all things. I know we have beat to death the issue of power being developed simply from the practice of Kototama, and I am of the mind set that is does not, however, Ueshiba needed it to enable his development of aiki power - every thing we do in life has to be enabled by our belief system to be successful. Another point already made is that the individual just needs time for things to naturally develop within one's self, which is influenced by the many things we experience as we growth.

In summary, Ueshiba's aiki development was hindered by his muscle development, which affected his attitude as well as the physical capability to change easily. And based on the unique individual life experiences we all have, there will never be another Takeda, Ueshiba, Dan Harden, or even an Ellis Amdur :) we are all different and some may achieve parts of someone else's greatness, or even exceed parts of it in some manner, but will never duplicate it.

Greg

Ellis Amdur
09-24-2011, 12:43 PM
Greg - Agree with your comments on power development.

I think your post exemplifies why there is such fascination with Ueshiba. Unlike Horikawa, a man remarkable for his ordinary character and Sagawa, a self-involved guy who did this "one thing" better than anyone else, Ueshiba was larger-than-life, and that complexity fascinates. His shamanistic/religious practices were so profound that they would even manifest in the real world (witness the story Mariye Takahashi told). He was charismatic, he drew some of the greatest figures in society into his aegis. People wished to be near him. He was a big man in every sense - he had friends amongst other budoka, amongst religious leaders, and amongst artists and other culture heros. "Aiki" was an engine and vehicle which fueled not only his martial art - but everything in his life. And like anyone else, such character traits affect how one learns, and what one chooses to learn. (This is why it is absolutely clear that "Ueshiba's aikido is not Daito-ryu," which, barring any new evidence to the contrary, does not mean that aikido has "different aiki" from Daito-ryu. Rather, that his aiki training empowered something so much more).

Ellis Amdur

gregstec
09-24-2011, 01:14 PM
Greg - Agree with your comments on power development.

I think your post exemplifies why there is such fascination with Ueshiba. Unlike Horikawa, a man remarkable for his ordinary character and Sagawa, a self-involved guy who did this "one thing" better than anyone else, Ueshiba was larger-than-life, and that complexity fascinates. His shamanistic/religious practices were so profound that they would even manifest in the real world (witness the story Mariye Takahashi told). He was charismatic, he drew some of the greatest figures in society into his aegis. People wished to be near him. He was a big man in every sense - he had friends amongst other budoka, amongst religious leaders, and amongst artists and other culture heros. "Aiki" was an engine and vehicle which fueled not only his martial art - but everything in his life. And like anyone else, such character traits affect how one learns, and what one chooses to learn. (This is why it is absolutely clear that "Ueshiba's aikido is not Daito-ryu," which, barring any new evidence to the contrary, does not mean that aikido has "different aiki" from Daito-ryu. Rather, that his aiki training empowered something so much more).

Ellis Amdur

Glad to see I am not on your ignore list :)

I agree on the complexity of Ueshiba as compared to Horikawa and Sagawa, not that those two were not complex, I am sure they were in their own manner, but they obviously were not at the same complexity level of Ueshiba, especially in the public domain.

In consideration of all that, I agree, Ueshiba's Aikido is not Daitoryu - but is something that is the aggregate of his existence. Which brings us to the obvious conclusion that there is no longer any Ueshiba Aikido - there is only your aikido, my aikido, their aikido, etc. And of course, I think I read somewhere that that is what Ueshiba said as well - something like, 'make it your own.' Well, the truth is, we all have no choice but to make it our own because there is no other way.

Greg

aikilouis
09-24-2011, 05:13 PM
Today, the values of aikido are often associated with vaguely christian moral ideals (not harming your opponent, a general meekness, generosity to the point of self-sacrifice, etc), but Ueshiba himself looks more and more like a nietzschean figure, uniting the forces of nature in himself, channelling them spontaneously (takemusu aiki) and encouraging those brave enough to start the journey to manifest their true nature (note here the double meaning of the word nature in our language, I guess it would have pleased Ueshiba).

Concerning the tipping point Ellis alludes to, Sunadomari sensei notes in Aikido Pioneers (an indispensable volume published by the excellent Stanley Pranin) that Ueshiba sensei fell very ill in 1942. OSensei himself said that his personal crisis was resolved through a mystical experience. Today I also happened to listen to O Sensei's 1961 radio interview on the equally indispensable DVD Morihei Ueshiba & Aikido - Vol. 6 (also published by Stanley Pranin) and at the beginning of the interview, he contrasts his current physical state with the prewar period during which he describes himself as very muscular. He doesn't say more powerful, or not as spiritually advanced. The information he choses to emphasise how he has changed is his muscular development and that he left it behind.

Saotome sensei, in The Principles of Aikido, describes how he himself was obsessed with power and domination and that only after finding himself in an impasse (where he describes himself as being almost suicidal) he experienced a spiritual/mental phenomenon (including the perception of a golden rain). He wrote that he immediately felt a psychological liberation as well as a radical change in his aikido. He confided in O Sensei who seemed to recognise the experience and encouraged him not to reveal it openly to the others.

Ellis Amdur
09-24-2011, 06:37 PM
Louis - Thank you. My task these last few years has been to notice patterns in small details, and then, gratifyingly, others, more diligent in research, find facts that support the pattern.

On a matter related to this subject, (training and the like), I just reread the interview on Aikido Journal with Tada Hiroshi sensei (#101). I cannot underscore strongly enough what a resource AJ is, something that will ever increase as Stanley begins to upload his hitherto unpublished archives. But here are a number of wonderful quotes from this interview:

Personal training is important no matter what art you practice. I . . . practiced striking a bundle of sticks with a bokken (wooden sword). . . .I find it to be one of the best training methods for aikido. Of course, it’s not good to use excessive physical power. Just hold the bokken-or even an ordinary stick made of green wood-lightly and squeeze with the little finger and ring finger at the moment of impact. Speed and the ability to squeeze the fingers closed properly will develop naturally. This type of gentle practice is important, because if you practice using a lot of power all the time, you may end up throwing and applying joint techniques too strongly, and this can be dangerous.

It is very important to observe your teacher’s personal training method very closely and learn it well; otherwise you may draw hasty and wrong conclusions and end up doing meaningless or mistaken training. In any case, you need to review what your teacher has taught you and attempt to discern something that represents the basic lines of it; then practice that over and over until you can do it. I think if you want to become an expert at what you do - whether it’s martial arts, sports, some kind of art, or whatever - then you need to train at least two thousand hours a year while in your twenties and thirties. That’s five to six hours a day. It probably depends on the person, but most of that time will be spent in personal training. After training on your own you can come to the dojo to confirm, try out, and work through whatever you’ve gained.

The thing I remember most clearly from his talks about Daito-ryu is that he said he thought that it had a very excellent training method.

Until the Meiji period, Japanese people mastered kokyuho and developed their ki through discipline that began at a young age. In that respect, Japanese people today are completely different from Japanese back then. I’m referring to the sort of discipline that begins at birth, namely in the way children are taught and the nature of family life.

kewms
09-24-2011, 06:51 PM
Today, the values of aikido are often associated with vaguely christian moral ideals (not harming your opponent, a general meekness, generosity to the point of self-sacrifice, etc), but Ueshiba himself looks more and more like a nietzschean figure, uniting the forces of nature in himself, channelling them spontaneously (takemusu aiki) and encouraging those brave enough to start the journey to manifest their true nature (note here the double meaning of the word nature in our language, I guess it would have pleased Ueshiba).

I think one should be very cautious here in differentiating between aikido as it is understood in the West and aikido as it was actually conceptualized by Ueshiba. I would say that any connection between aikido and "Christian" values is either coincidental or a side effect of aikido's importation into the Western cultural context. Ueshiba certainly did not see the world in Christian terms.

Katherine

Alister Gillies
09-25-2011, 07:37 AM
Is self conceit peculiar to Aikido; is self conceit found in Aikido; and did O Sensei exhibit self conceit in his life?

The answer to the first is yes, but probably no more than in any other human developmental endeavour; the answer to the second is undoubtedly yes; and the answer to the third is also yes - it would be odd if he did not learn through his mistakes like the rest of us.

O Sensei had the same problem that we all have - and it can take a lifetime to resolve - getting himself out of the picture. To realise the true nature of Budo (power) does not mean tacking on a (Aiki) principle to your MA skills to make yourself more powerful.

Aiki arises out of years of training and reflection, or it does not. Even finding the right kind of training or teacher does not guarantee that anyone will get it.

I think getting over self conceit is a prerequisite to any kind of progress. It frees the body and the mind and can open our eyes to the potential granted to us by nature. Takeda knew how stupid people could be and it scared him; O Sensei knew that self victory was true victory; and Sagawa was absolutely sure that stupid people would never get it.

Knowing how stupid you are is a good starting point, it seems to me.

phitruong
09-28-2011, 08:03 AM
I am not sure where your point is leading, you are sort of wondering and mixing things together.


being meaning to get back to this and lost track. getting old and your brain wandered. yup, i was mixing thing. that is a problem when you think faster than you type.


The very heart of four ounces to move a thousand pounds come from the taiji classics verse sixteen, but the heart of it denoted power, Phi, as is expressed and expanded on in the other songs.

agree. never said it wasn't about power. from my point of view, it was about focus power and usage of it. it was not about the lack of it. it was about using/controlling the right amount, at the right time, in the right place to accomplish a task. this one of the thing that warriors of old and new obsessed over.


It is a simple, yet profound principle echoed in Takeda's/Ueshiba's 5 and 5 makes ten 7 and 3 makes ten. The requirement remains to have power.To be able to stand like a mountain echo.. or the model is for not.

isn't this principle indicated in the yin-yang symbol, specifically, the curvy line in the middle of the symbol? the question is if that the indication of power balance within you or between your and uke or both?


At any rate you were first referencing a greater scope on strategy for a warrior using aiki as being a part of a whole and have now changed to erroneously referencing classical examples from one-on-one engagements to a larger field. Which way are we going here? There are much better works for thoughts on strategy.

i believed that the principles used in one-on-one engagement should apply to the larger field, being war. also, one-on-one engagement or power struggle isn't just aiki; it's more and that's budo. my disagreement with Ellis is that budo encompassed aiki and then some. and that budo is an obsession study of power and control (or lack of) in various forms. and that Takeda instilled that sort of obsession and focus into Ueshiba who was, for all intent and purpose, wild and unruly farmer boy.

Rennis Buchner
09-28-2011, 04:48 PM
It is a simple, yet profound principle echoed in Takeda's/Ueshiba's 5 and 5 makes ten 7 and 3 makes ten.

As a complete aside to the current conversation, I can say with 100 percent certainty that this teaching and its use in Japan pre-dates Takeda/Ueshiba by a few hundred years (it pops up in the densho of my own ryuha) and I can also say for sure that it is featured in one of the ryuha that Takeda Sokaku is known to have learned in his younger days.

Not that this has anything to do with the current conversation per se, just something I noticed and just now connected the dots.

Rennis

Chris Li
09-28-2011, 04:54 PM
As a complete aside to the current conversation, I can say with 100 percent certainty that this teaching and its use in Japan pre-dates Takeda/Ueshiba by a few hundred years (it pops up in the densho of my own ryuha) and I can also say for sure that it is featured in one of the ryuha that Takeda Sokaku is known to have learned in his younger days.

Not that this has anything to do with the current conversation per se, just something I noticed and just now connected the dots.

Rennis

In case anybody's interested. It's a section from the Tiger chapter ("Tora no Maki") of the "Rikuto" ("Six Strategies", or "Six Scabbards", also called "Liutao" in Chinese, IIRC), which is a well known Chinese book of strategy. The reason why it's relevant to Aikido is that M. Ueshiba cited this passage as containing one of the central "secrets" of Aikido. This translation is my rough English version of the Japanese version of the Chinese text, so apologies in advance to the original authors :

If it comes, then meet it, if it leaves, then send it away.
If it resists, than harmonize it.
5 and 5 are 10.
2 and 8 are 10.
1 and 9 are 10.
You should harmonize like this.
Intuit true and false, know what is hidden,
The large is everywhere, the small enters the realm of the microscopic.

There are chances for life and death, without reacting to changes.
Approach things without moving your heart (without being disturbed).

Best,

Chris

Rennis Buchner
09-28-2011, 05:23 PM
If it comes, then meet it, if it leaves, then send it away.
If it resists, than harmonize it.
5 and 5 are 10.
2 and 8 are 10.
1 and 9 are 10.
You should harmonize like this.
Intuit true and false, know what is hidden,
The large is everywhere, the small enters the realm of the microscopic.

There are chances for life and death, without reacting to changes.
Approach things without moving your heart (without being disturbed).



This is the same teaching that is used in the ryuha that Takeda Sokaku learned in his younger days I alluded to above. In the line I am familiar with it is chanted at the beginning of every keiko.

Rennis

DH
09-28-2011, 08:56 PM
This is the same teaching that is used in the ryuha that Takeda Sokaku learned in his younger days I alluded to above. In the line I am familiar with it is chanted at the beginning of every keiko.

Rennis
Chris
You beat me to it. I was preparing for a trip when I read it on my phone.
Rennis.
It's also part of two I know of that predate the one you are referring to by a few hundred years. But lets not quibble, as it is in the ICMA as well. Once again it is just Ueshiba pointing to a macro that is a seamless whole.
To be clear, it relates to aiki, although it's basis is connected power it is not power or being Power Proud™ Actually, it is a premier method to neutralize power without using much power at all and it is in line with the six harmonies in how it is manifests.

It's nice to see others picking up my argument for me. As I continue to point out- these things are out there in Koryu.
From China to Koryu. I would bet odds that those who are taught them do not know how to really work them so that In/Yo is sustained but that's for another day.
What continues to amaze me is to see Japanese Aikido shihan get up and show it in use...and not mention one word of what it is, where it came from, how to do it, why it works, what the pitfalls are to it failing. Hell, I openly show it in rooms and people still fail at it over and over for VERY simple reasons. Proving once again that Simple, is hard.
All the best
Dan

Chris Li
09-28-2011, 09:04 PM
What continues to amaze me is to see Japanese Aikido shihan get up and show it in use...and not mention one word of what it is, where it came from, how to do it, why it works, what the pitfalls are to it failing.

I think most of them just don't know. I found very few Japanese in Japan that actually studied much - there's a whole room full of stuff in hombu just rotting away. I don't think that anybody goes in there since Arikawa passed away.

Best,

Chris

Alister Gillies
09-29-2011, 08:21 AM
I think most of them just don't know.

More than likely. Of course the oriental disposition towards inscrutability doesn't help much: "those who know do not speak; those who speak do not know." On the other hand, natives do not like foreigners telling them all about their own culture much either, no matter how enlightening it might be. Often it's the differences that attract us. As Mark Twain, commenting on the cultural differences between the British and Americans said: "Two nations separated by a common language." How can the one mind be in two minds about anything? I think that is an interesting question:)

DH
09-29-2011, 09:24 AM
Hello Alister
Good observations. While I remain convinced that the majority of the lack of good teaching is indeed an inability to teach well, I also believe ( apparently so does Chris) that this information was never widely offered even within the Asian culture. I truly think our Asian teachers...many of them...are incapable of delivering on the exceptions we have placed on them. You can stand in front of master level teachers and have them ask " How did you do that?"
We need to release them from such high expectations and realize that -all things being equal- in many ways, we are better equipped to teach ourselves than they are.

It may have been a very good idea for them to keep certain information from us, in whatever manner they could manage to spin it, and get the majority of us to not only swallow, but to even embrace.
Cheers
Dan
More than likely. Of course the oriental disposition towards inscrutability doesn't help much: "those who know do not speak; those who speak do not know." On the other hand, natives do not like foreigners telling them all about their own culture much either, no matter how enlightening it might be. Often it's the differences that attract us. As Mark Twain, commenting on the cultural differences between the British and Americans said: "Two nations separated by a common language." How can the one mind be in two minds about anything? I think that is an interesting question:)

phitruong
09-29-2011, 09:25 AM
In case anybody's interested. It's a section from the Tiger chapter ("Tora no Maki") of the "Rikuto" ("Six Strategies", or "Six Scabbards", also called "Liutao" in Chinese, IIRC), which is a well known Chinese book of strategy. The reason why it's relevant to Aikido is that M. Ueshiba cited this passage as containing one of the central "secrets" of Aikido. This translation is my rough English version of the Japanese version of the Chinese text, so apologies in advance to the original authors :

Chris

those darn chinese! stolen all the good stuffs then hid them in plain sight. Chris, do you have the Chinese version of the English translation of Japanese? :D

Marc Abrams
09-29-2011, 10:16 AM
those darn chinese! stolen all the good stuffs then hid them in plain sight. Chris, do you have the Chinese version of the English translation of Japanese? :D

Phil,

No need for that. That will only cause a certain Brit. to further validate what he already knows, regardless of the accuracy of the translation.

More importantly, there is a Chinese restaurant nearby that is giving out all of the good stuff in plain sight! Just choose from menu, pay the nice lady and get ready to be amazed :eek: !

Marc Abrams

Chris Li
09-29-2011, 10:30 AM
those darn chinese! stolen all the good stuffs then hid them in plain sight. Chris, do you have the Chinese version of the English translation of Japanese? :D

Hmm, you could try http://www.aa.alpha-net.ne.jp/ja6xwv/%E6%AD%A6%E9%81%93%E8%A8%93.TXT

Best,

Chris

Alister Gillies
09-29-2011, 11:21 AM
Careful folks, there's a psychobabalist in the room:)

Walker
09-29-2011, 11:46 AM
I truly think our Asian teachers...many of them...are incapable of delivering on the exceptions we have placed on them. You can stand in front of master level teachers and have them ask " How did you do that?"
We need to release them from such high expectations and realize that -all things being equal- in many ways, we are better equipped to teach ourselves than they are.


I think this is the humane, adult, and rational thing to do. It doesn't excuse legitimate criticism, but I think the time has come to expect as much of ourselves as capable entities as we do of any abstract "Asiatic Master."

Marc Abrams
09-29-2011, 02:48 PM
Careful folks, there's a psychobabalist in the room:)

Hey! I resemble that re-marc

marc abrams

jonreading
09-30-2011, 09:24 AM
My theory here.
1. By true budo, Ueshiba meant aiki. Takeda showed him aiki - of course, I'm not the first to suggest this.
2. But consider. Ueshiba's last sustained tuition with Takeda was in Ayabe in 1921, although he did subsequently attend a number of short seminars, but he is saying that in the late 1930's he STILL didn't understand true budo - aiki. Just as Takeda said when he took over the Asahi Shinbun class in Osaka in the late 1930's.
3. That suggests that, quite apart from his nasty insults and Oscar the Grouch, "isn't Uncle Sokaku ever going to leave!!!!" manners, he may have been accurately stating that Ueshiba still didn't completely get it.
4. What held him back??? I think he was "power proud." Even in the 1950's, Ueshiba proudly posed with his shirt off, (see John Steven's latest book) exhibiting the body of a miniature middle linebacker. Ueshiba, so proud of his titanic physical strength, seems to have had a difficult time letting it go - and doing the exercises he learned when his "eyes were open" with the correct body organization.
5. He seems to have believed - based on his own statements - that he "got" it in 1942 - at Iwama.

In my opinion, that such a genius as Ueshiba took over 25 years since his first meeting with Takeda to "get it" doesn't mean that achieving skill at aiki must take that long. The blessing of his own powerful body, I think, got in the way, and delayed his progress.

Of course, aiki is not aikido. For Ueshiba, it also included calling down the kami, and deliberate physical innovations he made in technique. Aikido is no more Daito-ryu than BJJ is judo. But true budo? That's aiki - and apparently both Takeda and Ueshiba agreed that until the late 1930's, Ueshiba didn't have it yet.

Ellis Amdur

I tend to agree. In my readings and studies the prominence of O'Sensei's physique and physical strength in several biographies and over several interviews with uchi deshi seems to imply that topic was something many felt important enough to comment [on].

I just attended the Fed Ex Cup here in ATL last week and saw many of the best golfers in the world play in a relatively small field. I enjoy golf and I like to see the pros swing up close to pick up tips. In any case, the new pros are pretty athletic (the days of Craig Stadler and John Daley are behind us) and their swings usually violate the rules of swinging for non-pros.

For example, many golf coaches advocate correct grip structure, but not a "strong" grip. Yet, many pros grip the club with such strength you can see the muscles in their forearm bulge. In conversation with some club pros I know, they said, "Yeah, those guys can control their strength so they can grip the club differently. You can't, so the strong grip doesn't help you.

Similarly, many of the longest, hardest hitting golf pros observe a 75% rule. That is they only swing about 75% as hard as they can to improve their scoring. In golf, the amateur notion of "strength" is at odds with scoring and often holds back many good golfers from being better. Would you rather hit the ball 350 yards or hit 85% of fairways?

I think strength is a different concept than power is a different concept than ki. Martial arts are not the only place where physical strength must be properly managed to excel in an athletic activity. I do not think strength is necessarily a bad thing, but the use of strength can be applied without prudence.

Christopher Creutzig
10-02-2011, 12:44 PM
It's similar to learning math: you start with the form, develop familiarity with different parts, and over time, functional proficiency develops. None of this is to say the person understands the equations, only that they know how to move the numbers around to get a reliable result. In fact there is a debate going on in some circles now that most people (who study it) don't really "understand" math, even though they may always arrive at the correct answer through the common algorithm.


Computing numbers isn't math. Gaining insight into abstract structures is math. Understanding (and maybe improving) the process to compute useful numbers, preferably to the point where you can hand that task off to a computer (which is where those things got that name from), is one specific example of math. (At least from the standpoint of a studied mathematician.)

mathewjgano
10-02-2011, 10:59 PM
Computing numbers isn't math. Gaining insight into abstract structures is math. Understanding...the process to compute...numbers...is one specific example of math.

Hi Christopher,
Very interesting, thank you! So you'd say it's not math unless the understanding is present?
That wasn't meant to be a description of "math" so much as a description of the process many people have for beginning their understanding of it. The point I was trying to make was that some forms of understanding often come after proficiency in the process.

Dave de Vos
10-04-2011, 02:11 PM
I think much of the stuff that is taught in "math" classes in school, would be called arithmetic by mathematicians. But I don't know exactly where arithmetic becomes algebra.

Edit: I looked it up: As soon as symbols like x and y are used, it becomes algebra.

But still, using the Pythagorean theorem and algebra to calculate something, is not as mathematical as proving the Pythagorean theorem.