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Marc Abrams
11-28-2011, 01:55 PM
A not-to-distant thread brought up the issue of how much O'Sensei taught at the Hombu Dojo in Tokyo after WWII. Stanley Pranin has recently re-posted something that he wrote a number of years ago, along with an update. I believe that this is a MUST-READ article to help place things in their proper perspective.

http://blog.aikidojournal.com/2011/11/28/is-o-sensei-really-the-father-of-modern-aikido-by-stanley-pranin/#more-10648

If someone would like to dispute Stanley Pranin's position, you will have to provide people with some real historical FACTS to back up something that runs counter to what his many years of historical research has shown.

Marc Abrams

PaulieWalnuts
11-28-2011, 02:56 PM
Hi Its a great article but no matter what you will always get a different opinion from Iwama deshi and Hombu deshi. Its well known that most of O'Sensei's time was spent in Iwama teaching and developing Aikido and he did travel lot to his other dojos. Morihiro Saito is famous for saying that O'sensei really only taught in Iwama but demonstrated at the Hombu. im not saying this is def how it was even as an Iwama deshi. But one of the big differences in the 2 are that in Iwama the teacher was O'Sensei or Saito in the Hombu it was Mostly his son or people like Tohei who both made MASSIVE changes to the founders art that he was teaching in Iwama. Im not saying ALL these changes where bad, but these changes happened. I think its better if some of the sempai here speak of there understanding, especially the ones who spent a long time in Japan.

Marc Abrams
11-28-2011, 03:50 PM
Hi Its a great article but no matter what you will always get a different opinion from Iwama deshi and Hombu deshi. Its well known that most of O'Sensei's time was spent in Iwama teaching and developing Aikido and he did travel lot to his other dojos. Morihiro Saito is famous for saying that O'sensei really only taught in Iwama but demonstrated at the Hombu. im not saying this is def how it was even as an Iwama deshi. But one of the big differences in the 2 are that in Iwama the teacher was O'Sensei or Saito in the Hombu it was Mostly his son or people like Tohei who both made MASSIVE changes to the founders art that he was teaching in Iwama. Im not saying ALL these changes where bad, but these changes happened. I think its better if some of the sempai here speak of there understanding, especially the ones who spent a long time in Japan.

Stephen:

Even Mr. Pranin stated that Saito Sensei was NOT doing O'Sensei's Aikido, but his techniques were faithful reproductions of what O'Sensei taught. Changes happened because there appeared to be no direct attempt by O'Sensei to systematically pass on all that he knew, even to Saito Sensei. Compound that with the reality that even thought O'Sensei spent a lot of time in Iwama, he was traveling extensively. The lack of continuity of teaching in a systematic manner, over a long period of time led to people studying under him to pick up parts of what they saw, felt and were taught and they ran with it to the best of their abilities. The sharing within and outside of our community is (in my opinion) an essential component in trying to bring our own practice closer to the source. Too many heated debates occur when people try and assume that their own teachers were the one's that "got it" and that questioning them is next to heresy.

Marc Abrams

PaulieWalnuts
11-28-2011, 03:54 PM
Totally agree with you, the only person who could do O'sensei's Aikido died in 1969.

MM
11-28-2011, 03:58 PM
Hi Its a great article but no matter what you will always get a different opinion from Iwama deshi and Hombu deshi. Its well known that most of O'Sensei's time was spent in Iwama teaching and developing Aikido and he did travel lot to his other dojos. Morihiro Saito is famous for saying that O'sensei really only taught in Iwama but demonstrated at the Hombu. im not saying this is def how it was even as an Iwama deshi. But one of the big differences in the 2 are that in Iwama the teacher was O'Sensei or Saito in the Hombu it was Mostly his son or people like Tohei who both made MASSIVE changes to the founders art that he was teaching in Iwama. Im not saying ALL these changes where bad, but these changes happened. I think its better if some of the sempai here speak of there understanding, especially the ones who spent a long time in Japan.

It was nearly the same in Iwama. Saito was perhaps the one with the most amount of time, but even then, it wasn't extensive. There were only two training periods per day.

Morihei's daily schedule in Iwama in those years:
7:00-9:00 A.M.: Aikido training followed by a simple breakfast.
4:00P.M.-6:00P.M. Aikido training.

Now, that might seem like a lot but consider that Ueshiba split his time between Iwama and Tokyo. Not only that, but he traveled extensively and entertained guests regularly.

Chris Li
11-28-2011, 04:01 PM
It was nearly the same in Iwama. Saito was perhaps the one with the most amount of time, but even then, it wasn't extensive. There were only two training periods per day.

Morihei's daily schedule in Iwama in those years:
7:00-9:00 A.M.: Aikido training followed by a simple breakfast.
4:00P.M.-6:00P.M. Aikido training.

Now, that might seem like a lot but consider that Ueshiba split his time between Iwama and Tokyo. Not only that, but he traveled extensively and entertained guests regularly.

Add to that - in Iwama it was often the case that the actual instruction would actually be performed by Morihiro Saito, while Ueshiba observed.

Best,

Chris

PaulieWalnuts
11-28-2011, 04:10 PM
Add to that - in Iwama it was often the case that the actual instruction would actually be performed by Morihiro Saito, while Ueshiba observed.

Best,

Chris

Again we dont know how OFTEN this happened unless you have evidence? From what I was told this was only in the later years in Iwama.

PaulieWalnuts
11-28-2011, 04:17 PM
One thing Ive learnt over the years is its NEVER the style or school that is wrong but the teacher and there understanding of the principles.

Chris Li
11-28-2011, 04:19 PM
Again we dont know how OFTEN this happened unless you have evidence? From what I was told this was only in the later years in Iwama.

Well of course, there were periods of time when Saito was out working - but I've been given to understand that it was fairly common. Then again, given Ueshiba's teaching style I wonder how much actual hands on there was for the average student even when he was actually the active instructor. Saito's main advantage was as a crash test dummy during Ueshiba's personal training and research.

Best,

Chris

Marc Abrams
11-28-2011, 04:44 PM
Well of course, there were periods of time when Saito was out working - but I've been given to understand that it was fairly common. Then again, given Ueshiba's teaching style I wonder how much actual hands on there was for the average student even when he was actually the active instructor. Saito's main advantage was as a crash test dummy during Ueshiba's personal training and research.

Best,

Chris

Chris:

You raise an excellent point! The main modality from learning from the teacher was what could the "crash test dummy" glean from the "crash" :D ! Still that way with my teacher most of the time. Direct questions lead to more examples (= crashes ) and few words. Stealing the technique was never meant to be easy......

Marc Abrams

Ketsan
11-28-2011, 04:51 PM
Stephen:

Even Mr. Pranin stated that Saito Sensei was NOT doing O'Sensei's Aikido, but his techniques were faithful reproductions of what O'Sensei taught. Changes happened because there appeared to be no direct attempt by O'Sensei to systematically pass on all that he knew, even to Saito Sensei. Compound that with the reality that even thought O'Sensei spent a lot of time in Iwama, he was traveling extensively. The lack of continuity of teaching in a systematic manner, over a long period of time led to people studying under him to pick up parts of what they saw, felt and were taught and they ran with it to the best of their abilities. The sharing within and outside of our community is (in my opinion) an essential component in trying to bring our own practice closer to the source. Too many heated debates occur when people try and assume that their own teachers were the one's that "got it" and that questioning them is next to heresy.

Marc Abrams

Yep. Personally I regard O-Sensei's Aikido as something that essentially died with him and I can't square his behavior with someone who was interested in passing on what he knew. To me it's felt for a long time that he was focused on doing his own thing and just what that thing is people don't really seem to be sure of which leaves us in a Meno's paradox position: we don't know what he was doing so how can we reconstruct it and are we sure we would find any value in it?

Peter Goldsbury
11-28-2011, 05:12 PM
There is a curious section in an interview with Minoru Mochizuki. It appears on pp. 117-118 of Stan Pranin's earlier volume Aikido Masters and on p. 91 of Aikido Pioneers. Mochizuki relates a request from Morihei Ueshiba to discuss with Minoru Hirai about returning to Tokyo after the war and getting 'the Ushigome Dojo back for O Sensei.' I myself believe that Morihei Ueshiba had handed over the Tokyo Dojo to Kisshomaru in 1942, when he moved to Iwama. Whether he expected the Tokyo dojo to survive the war is moot, but it did survive and, being located in Tokyo, would naturally come to be regarded as the Hombu. The crucial point would be Morihei Ueshiba's regular place on the daily teaching schedule: the first class every morning and the final class on Fridays. I suspect that Kisshomaru had this place right from 1942.

The point for this thread is that Morihei Ueshiba had been displaced from the administration of the dojo and was regarded in the same way as the grandparents in an extended Japanese family. Yes, there is some power, but this is concentrated in the hands of the son. There is a very poignant section in Shimazaki Toson's Yoake-mae, where the grandfather wonders if he did the right thing in handing things over to the son in the way he did. The situation was repeated with Kisshomaru and the present Doshu, who both lived in the same house (next to the Hombu at 17-19 Wakamatsu-cho). But I know from experience that Kisshomaru kept the power in his own hands and was closely involved with Hombu administration right to the end. Now, Mitsuteru has moved out and established his own house.

Best wishes,

PAG

Demetrio Cereijo
11-28-2011, 05:51 PM
There is a curious section in an interview with Minoru Mochizuki. It appears on pp. 117-118 of Stan Pranin's earlier volume Aikido Masters and on p. 91 of Aikido Pioneers. Mochizuki relates a request from Morihei Ueshiba to discuss with Minoru Hirai about returning to Tokyo after the war and getting 'the Ushigome Dojo back for O Sensei.'

And what follows is very interesting

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=654

Ken McGrew
11-28-2011, 06:35 PM
http://www.aikidokids.hu/eng/media/readings4.htm

Interview with MICHIO HIKITSUCHI SENSEI, which goes quite contrary to the efforts are revisionism propagated by Pranin Sensei and others. If we take this passage from the narrative from Pranin Sensei, for example:

"Some have said that the Founder’s art changed greatly over the years and that this accounts for the differences in the techniques of his students who learned during different periods. Others state that O-Sensei would teach different things to different students according to their character and ability. I have never found either of these arguments to be particularly persuasive. In fact, when I discovered the old 1935 Asahi News film many years ago I was surprised at how “modern” the Founder’s art was even at that early stage. Moreover, the Founder usually taught groups of students, not individuals, and this fact does not lend support to the theory that he adapted his instruction to the needs of individual students."

We see that for evidence he provides: 1) he never found either of the arguments to be particularly persuasive and 2) he found the Asahi New film to look "modern." His not being persuaded is not conclusive and the Asahi film footage was artificially speeded up in translation... that is to say it is more static than flowing at the proper speeds.

I am not interested in debating this with those who have their minds made up and are trying to prove their case. I am speaking past them to others out there in the Aikido world who might be taken in by this. The fact that O Sensei did not teach every class and traveled often does not prove that he did not supervise the Aikido development of Doshu and a number of senior instructors. His supervision did not need to be on the mat all or even most of the time. This is not unusual. We all teach on and off the mat, giving pointers, giving talks, and hands on demonstrating. If we had the full transcripts of all the interviews that Pranin Sensei conducted I suspect that they would often be as the one with Hikitsuchi Sensei, that is to say that they would almost certainly, if asked, state that O Sensei guided Aikido's development after the war and that this future development was improvement.

Demetrio Cereijo
11-28-2011, 06:47 PM
The fact that O Sensei did not teach every class and traveled often does not prove that he did not supervise the Aikido development of Doshu and a number of senior instructors.
But it proves the opposite, isn't it?

Walker
11-28-2011, 07:14 PM
"The only thing of value Osensei ever taught, was how to relax."
Seemingly that transmission has been lost too...

Marc Abrams
11-28-2011, 08:49 PM
which goes quite contrary to the efforts are revisionism propagated by Pranin Sensei and others.

The statement represents to me profound ignorance of the overwhelming fact that until Stanley Pranin started doing research into Aikido, NO independent research had been done up until that point in time. Until Stanley Pranin did what he did, there were a lot of uncorroborated stories, myths, etc.. No one in the Aikido world has done as much as he has in establishing facts in Aikido and Daito Ryu. He has interviews more people, reviewed more documents and has cataloged more information about these arts than he can handle at least in his life time. If someone would like to debate Stanley Pranin on the history of our art, go right ahead.....;)

Marc Abrams

Chris Li
11-29-2011, 01:05 AM
From an unpublished (in English) interview with Yoshio Kuroiwa, who started training at hombu dojo in 1954 and was one of the strongest practitioners in the hombu of the 50's and 60's:

Q: Did you see the Founder at practice?
A: About once a month. He spent most of the time in Iwama, and would just show up unexpectedly at times. He'd appear suddenly, show about two techniques, and then disappear into the back. He would not give us any oral instruction. He'd say "If I show a technique twice it will be stolen", and only show each technique one time. He often said "Technique is not something you are taught, it is something you steal". It was really a kind of contradictory behavior. Anyway, at one time you'd just see him for about 10 minutes.

Best,

Chris

ewolput
11-29-2011, 07:51 AM
http://simonechierchini.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/interview-with-hitohira-saito-part-1/
http://simonechierchini.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/interview-avec-hitohira-saito-%E2%80%93-deuxieme-partie-partie/

This is an interview with Hitohira Saito about the relationship between Saito and Ueshiba, and also about teaching after WW2. Part 1 is in English Part 2 is in French.
Some remarkable items are in this interview.

Eddy

Marc Abrams
11-29-2011, 09:23 AM
There is a curious section in an interview with Minoru Mochizuki. It appears on pp. 117-118 of Stan Pranin's earlier volume Aikido Masters and on p. 91 of Aikido Pioneers. Mochizuki relates a request from Morihei Ueshiba to discuss with Minoru Hirai about returning to Tokyo after the war and getting 'the Ushigome Dojo back for O Sensei.' I myself believe that Morihei Ueshiba had handed over the Tokyo Dojo to Kisshomaru in 1942, when he moved to Iwama. Whether he expected the Tokyo dojo to survive the war is moot, but it did survive and, being located in Tokyo, would naturally come to be regarded as the Hombu. The crucial point would be Morihei Ueshiba's regular place on the daily teaching schedule: the first class every morning and the final class on Fridays. I suspect that Kisshomaru had this place right from 1942.

The point for this thread is that Morihei Ueshiba had been displaced from the administration of the dojo and was regarded in the same way as the grandparents in an extended Japanese family. Yes, there is some power, but this is concentrated in the hands of the son. There is a very poignant section in Shimazaki Toson's Yoake-mae, where the grandfather wonders if he did the right thing in handing things over to the son in the way he did. The situation was repeated with Kisshomaru and the present Doshu, who both lived in the same house (next to the Hombu at 17-19 Wakamatsu-cho). But I know from experience that Kisshomaru kept the power in his own hands and was closely involved with Hombu administration right to the end. Now, Mitsuteru has moved out and established his own house.

Best wishes,

PAG

Peter:

That is an important piece of information that is not well-known outside of Japan. I think that another interesting aspect with Aikido is also the lack of an established means of passing on all of the art onto a successor. This is a common practice in koryu and in traditional Chinese martial arts. This practice does not seem to have roots in Gendai Budo. I wonder if you have any cultural information that might shed some light on this apparent phenomenon? Certainly, Takeda Sensei was paranoid (delusional disorder or paranoid personality?) and did not have the personality to be able to remain settled and focused on passing on all aspects of his art onto a successor. O'Sensei certainly did not appear to be focused on the continuity of his art. Given that this seems to be somewhat common in Gendai Budo, I wonder what might factors might contribute to this.

Marc Abrams

DH
11-29-2011, 10:22 AM
This Jibes with many "unofficial" commentaries that were made from his prewar deshi, to their own student bases. Any number of whom essentially went and saw what Kisshomaru and Tohei were doing and simply said... that was not aikido.

Further comment from another previously untranslated interview with Kuroiwa (1950-60's deshi).
Q: Did you sit at the same table with the Founder and Sawai Sensei and Oyama Sensei?
A: No, but I did overhear Oyama Sensei say "Aikido will disappear after Ueshiba Sensei dies". I also believe that to be the truth.

...I think that today's Aikido basics are mostly Yamaguchi Sensei's showy Aikido. Maybe about 95 percent.

From 2004. A Koryu teacher who received nidan under Ueshiba
"I recognized that energy work you are doing. When O sensei would show up everything would stop and we would do that. They don't teach that anymore you know. It's not in Modern aikido!"

Shirata, as well as Shioda's opinions echo the above.

Of course none of this is going to go over easy, or be met with joy. Stan noted in his column that too many of the post war deshi had-for whatever reason- made quite show in America and Europe about their close relationship and daily training with Ueshiba to an unknowing, wide eyed, foreign audience. This was compounded with these new foreign students (themselves now senior teachers) lapped it all up and have over the years repeated these stories to their own students.

Poor Stan. First the myths about Ueshiba's past training. Kisshomaru's attempts to bury the Daito ryu story, and then finding out the big named foreign teachers dispatched had about 5-6 years under the belts. Then this stuff. Who wants to be the guy to go tell them their beloved Japanese sensei was telling tales. It's one thing to be able to culturally uhm....tell a story... if your Japanese, quite another if you have hundreds of students repeating these tall tales and believing their teacher had a profound relationship with the founder. Then Stan realizing many really don't want to know. They actually prefer the myth!

There was some discussion by our Mr. McGrew about Stan.
Ken McGrew wrote:
which goes quite contrary to the efforts are revisionism propagated by Pranin Sensei and others.
Has it dawned on people that no one was more shocked THAN Stan when he started researching? Or that for a long time period it hurt his Aikido career? Did anyone know that Saito was approached by Hombu to try to reign Stanly in and control this information? I find it all so typical to attack the person who is telling you the truth and giving you information-particularly when it was so many who were in charge, who were obfuscating and exagerating events to boost themselves and their position. So typical.

Clearly the more profound issue should be- just what the heck is this stuff everyone has been doing? We now know Ueshiba was discussing internal training principles and pushing and pulling and trying to explain it to an uninformed and largely self-admittedly, uncaring audience more interested in cranking wrists.
From a previously untranslated interview with Tamura
Tamura, noted that Mochizuki once told him (pre war to post war deshi
"What you people are doing is not the real Aikido."

Demetrio Cereijo
11-29-2011, 12:43 PM
It's one thing to be able to culturally uhm....tell a story... if your Japanese, quite another if you have hundreds of students repeating these tall tales and believing their teacher had a profound relationship with the founder. Then Stan realizing many really don't want to know. They actually prefer the myth!

Seconded.

kewms
11-29-2011, 12:56 PM
He has interviews more people, reviewed more documents and has cataloged more information about these arts than he can handle at least in his life time. If someone would like to debate Stanley Pranin on the history of our art, go right ahead.....;)

Pass the popcorn, please... :-)

Katherine

kewms
11-29-2011, 12:59 PM
Poor Stan. First the myths about Ueshiba's past training. Kisshomaru's attempts to bury the Daito ryu story, and then finding out the big named foreign teachers dispatched had about 5-6 years under the belts. Then this stuff. Who wants to be the guy to go tell them their beloved Japanese sensei was telling tales. It's one thing to be able to culturally uhm....tell a story... if your Japanese, quite another if you have hundreds of students repeating these tall tales and believing their teacher had a profound relationship with the founder. Then Stan realizing many really don't want to know. They actually prefer the myth!


Of course they do! As do most humans everywhere. Being associated with a glamorous story is almost always more desirable than associating with a prosaic reality.

Katherine

Chris Li
11-29-2011, 01:20 PM
An interesting passage from http://www.nippon-kan.org/senseis_articles/saito_interview.html

Morihiro Saito Sensei: At the end of the war, there were many uchi deshi living at Hombu Dojo. For the most part, those people are very old or have already passed away. After the war ended, the Founder lived mostly at Iwama, going to Tokyo for only special ceremonies or events…Of the last generation of students to study directly under the Founder, many who say they were his uchi deshi were actually 2nd or 3rd dan shidoin [assistant instructors] at Hombu Dojo. Most received the equivalent of about two hundred dollars a month salary, lived in cheap apartments near the dojo, and came to the dojo only for practice. These kayoi deshi [students who lived outside the dojo] did not take care of the Founder. Except when they were assisting him as uke, the kayoi deshi were not allowed near him. The Founder commanded that much respect. Many now say that they were close to the Founder, but that was not actually the case. Late in the Founder’s life, just before he passed away, even high-ranking shihan were only allowed to offer greetings; they were not even in the position to engage him in conversation. The Founder did not want to have many people close to him, and there were really very few who personally took care of him.

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
11-29-2011, 01:26 PM
And another interesting passage from Peter Goldsbury's post - http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=151440&postcount=10

Briefly, Mr Kitahira did not mention anyone by name when he made his "caustic" remarks and my own remarks tie in with what the late Kisshomaru Ueshiba once told me in a private conversation, namely, that O Sensei had no postwar uchi-deshi and that he himself had no uchi-deshi at all. Since I had been told previously by a number of shihans who entered the Hombu after the war that they were uchi-deshi of the Founder, Doshu's remarks were surprising, to say the least.

Best,

Chris

Ian Keane
11-29-2011, 01:27 PM
In the article, it was pointed out that, for a variety of reasons, most of the post-war uchi-deshi had limited direct instruction from O-sensei. Isn't this true of Saito as well? Although Saito trained with O-sensei at Iwama directly during the war years, I seem to recall reading somewhere that his attendance was limited to once a week or less, due to his job as a railway porter. Is this true?

Also, it is a fact that O-sensei promoted Tohei 10th dan during his lifetime, not Saito. Doesn't this argue that the founder of Aikido felt that Tohei had the better understanding of the art? Is that relevant in terms of technical mastery of the techniques?

Chris Li
11-29-2011, 01:35 PM
In the article, it was pointed out that, for a variety of reasons, most of the post-war uchi-deshi had limited direct instruction from O-sensei. Isn't this true of Saito as well? Although Saito trained with O-sensei at Iwama directly during the war years, I seem to recall reading somewhere that his attendance was limited to once a week or less, due to his job as a railway porter. Is this true?

Also, it is a fact that O-sensei promoted Tohei 10th dan during his lifetime, not Saito. Doesn't this argue that the founder of Aikido felt that Tohei had the better understanding of the art? Is that relevant in terms of technical mastery or the techniques?

Saito had an odd schedule, so he'd work intensely followed by a number of days off during which he spent all of his time attending Ueshiba. He and his family cared for Ueshiba all through the 50's and 60's. In terms of actual contact hours it's hard to argue against him - that doesn't mean that he was better than anybody else, just that he was there.

Ueshiba promoted a number of people to 10th Dan before Tohei, were they better or worse? He gave a Menkyo-Kaiden to Roy Suenaka - does that mean he "got it"? Without disparaging Tohei (for whom even Saito had great respect), I don't think that Ueshiba really cared that much about the ranking system - things like that just didn't interest him very much.

Best,

Chris

Demetrio Cereijo
11-29-2011, 01:38 PM
Although Saito trained with O-sensei at Iwama directly during the war years,
No. Saito started after the war ended.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that his attendance was limited to once a week or less, due to his job as a railway porter. Is this true?
This was adressed some posts above.

Also, it is a fact that O-sensei promoted Tohei 10th dan during his lifetime, not Saito. Doesn't this argue that the founder of Aikido felt that Tohei had the better understanding of the art? Is that relevant in terms of technical mastery of the techniques?
O Sensei promoted other people to 10th dan too.

Demetrio Cereijo
11-29-2011, 01:46 PM
Kazuaki Tanahashi, former student of the founder of Aikido, Morehei Ueshiba, known as O'Sensei, recollecting some of his experiences studying with O'Sensei.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpWY58LWaRE

Ian Keane
11-29-2011, 01:47 PM
Ueshiba promoted a number of people to 10th Dan before Tohei, were they better or worse? He gave a Menkyo-Kaiden to Roy Suenaka - does that mean he "got it"? Without disparaging Tohei (for whom even Saito had great respect), I don't think that Ueshiba really cared that much about the ranking system - things like that just didn't interest him very much.

Not trying to be contentious, but the fact that he promoted others 10th dan sort of bolsters my argument, which is that, if Saito had a truer grasp of the art as O-sensei taught it, then why didn't O-sensei give him the recognition he extended to Tohei, Suenaka and others? And if rank and licenses really didn't matter to him, why did he bother granting them?

Chris Li
11-29-2011, 01:47 PM
From an unpublished (in English) interview with Yoshio Kuroiwa, who started training at hombu dojo in 1954 and was one of the strongest practitioners in the hombu of the 50's and 60's:

Q: Did you see the Founder at practice?
A: About once a month. He spent most of the time in Iwama, and would just show up unexpectedly at times. He'd appear suddenly, show about two techniques, and then disappear into the back. He would not give us any oral instruction. He'd say "If I show a technique twice it will be stolen", and only show each technique one time. He often said "Technique is not something you are taught, it is something you steal". It was really a kind of contradictory behavior. Anyway, at one time you'd just see him for about 10 minutes.

Best,

Chris

Here's a similar quote from another interview in Japanese with Nobuyoshi Tamura:

"O-Sensei would slip into the dojo, show a few techniques, and then slip out. If he felt like it he would speak for a while. We were all young, so mostly we just wanted to get on with the practice. (on the content of the lectures) He would talk about the gods - Izanagi, Izanami and so forth. In Sakurazawa-shiki (Macrobiotics) they have some of the same ideas, so I thought that he was speaking about something concerning In and Yo, but that's about as much as I understood."

Best,

Chris

Demetrio Cereijo
11-29-2011, 01:52 PM
And if rank and licenses really didn't matter to him, why did he bother granting them?
Maybe the receivers were the ones interested in being ranked.

Chris Li
11-29-2011, 01:55 PM
Not trying to be contentious, but the fact that he promoted others 10th dan sort of bolsters my argument, which is that, if Saito had a truer grasp of the art as O-sensei taught it, then why didn't O-sensei give him the recognition he extended to Tohei, Suenaka and others? And if rank and licenses really didn't matter to him, why did he bother granting them?

He handed out ranks for various reasons. In Suenaka's case I believe it's because he needed a teaching credential when he moved to Okinawa. There were other people who received ranks for similar reasons. One person was awarded a 9th dan - Ueshiba just asked him what rank he wanted and the person didn't feel comfortable asking for 10th.

There weren't any ranks at all until 1942 - they started because they were required by the consolidation of all Japanese martial arts by the Japanese government under the Dai-Nihon Butokukai.

First 8th Dan - Kenji Tomiki.

BTW, I'm not arguing that Saito had a better grasp (or a poorer grasp) of anything in particular - just that he was in a position to see where Ueshiba was - with him in Iwama.

As for his rank - maybe he forgot to ask for it :) .

Best,

Chris

Ian Keane
11-29-2011, 02:03 PM
As for his rank - maybe he forgot to ask for it :) .

Heh. I s'pose that's possible. The general unworldliness of artists is, after all, proverbial.

Eric Winters
11-29-2011, 02:28 PM
Hello,

I think if you want to get as close as you can to O Sensei's aikido you have to train in the Iwama tradition. M. Saito was with O'Sensei for 23 years and trained with him outside of standard class times. I know this will anger a lot of people but that is just the way it is. Whether or not that is good or bad, I do not know. Personally I have a strong background in Iwama style but I also do not think that I can't learn from other styles of aikido and even koryu.

I always found it interesting when these shihan would claim to be uchi deshi for O'Sensei after the war and did not spend any time in Iwama.

Best,

Eric

AsimHanif
11-29-2011, 02:32 PM
Chris...you beat me to it. Was going to post this earlier....

I was told by one Shihan of the same generation as the present Doshu and Osawa H. that O'Sensei would appear unexpectedly (at Hombu), recite something esoteric, do a technique and call it "kokyunage!" He remembers that to O'Sensei everything was "kokyunage" and everyone would sit around looking dumbfounded at each otherpretty much like most of us do today when our teachers demonstrate:confused:
This Shihan also recalls his seniors actually being supervised by Ueshiba K, Tohei, and Osawa Sr for the most part, not O'Sensei. I also recall an interview somewhere where Ueshiba K. stated that there really were no true deshi after WWII but one might consider Tamura Sensei the last deshi.

Chris Li
11-29-2011, 02:35 PM
Chris...you beat me to it. Was going to post this earlier....

Sort of a slow day :) .

Best,

Chris

Marc Abrams
11-29-2011, 02:52 PM
Hello,

I think if you want to get as close as you can to O Sensei's aikido you have to train in the Iwama tradition. M. Saito was with O'Sensei for 23 years and trained with him outside of standard class times. I know this will anger a lot of people but that is just the way it is. Whether or not that is good or bad, I do not know. Personally I have a strong background in Iwama style but I also do not think that I can't learn from other styles of aikido and even koryu.

I always found it interesting when these shihan would claim to be uchi deshi for O'Sensei after the war and did not spend any time in Iwama.

Best,

Eric

Eric:

That is simply your opinion, not supported by fact. Mr. Pranin did speak highly of the Saito Sensei's attempts to preserve what he saw and learned from O'Sensei, but also stated that his Aikido was not O'Sensei's Aikido. There is the external form of the waza and then there is what is hidden inside. Saito Sensei did not appear to fully get what was inside either. Instead of trying to say that one is better than another, it seems more important to try and piece together what the various direct students did get from him.

Marc Abrams

Eric Winters
11-29-2011, 03:13 PM
Hi Mark,

You are correct it is my opinion. I should have put IMHO. I was not saying Iwama was any better than any other style( Sorry if it came out that way). What I was saying is if you want to get as close to O'Sensei's aikido as you can, you have to study Iwama style. Personally, IMHO one would have to go to a Daito Ryu person willing to teach the internal exercises to get even closer. No one will ever get O'Sensei's aikido but you can get close and if you train correctly you could be better than him.

Best,

Eric

Carl Thompson
11-29-2011, 04:11 PM
O-Sensei said to me, Takahashi-san, come to Iwama. I will talk to you about aikido, so I went to Iwama every month. From April of 1958 through the beginning of 1961, I visited Iwama once a month to listen to O-Senseis lectures. Then I wrote them down in manuscript form at home and went back to O-Sensei again with them for review. After I obtained his approval, I published them in our publication, Byakko.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=295

According to this evidence, from April 1958 through to the beginning of 1961 at least, Osensei was clearly living in Iwama and Takahashi-san was able to visit him there once a month.

kewms
11-29-2011, 04:29 PM
What I was saying is if you want to get as close to O'Sensei's aikido as you can, you have to study Iwama style.

I wouldn't say that the Iwama folks I've trained with have demonstrated anything particularly unique relative to what I've seen/felt from other styles.

I never had the opportunity to train with Saito Sensei himself, so I wouldn't care to speculate on what he personally could do. But I see no evidence that his students received any more accurate transmission from the Founder than anyone else.

(FWIW, I'd say the same about students from Tohei Sensei's lineage.)

Katherine

Gerardo Torres
11-29-2011, 05:02 PM
Hello,

I think if you want to get as close as you can to O Sensei's aikido you have to train in the Iwama tradition. M. Saito was with O'Sensei for 23 years and trained with him outside of standard class times. I know this will anger a lot of people but that is just the way it is. Whether or not that is good or bad, I do not know. Personally I have a strong background in Iwama style but I also do not think that I can't learn from other styles of aikido and even koryu.

I always found it interesting when these shihan would claim to be uchi deshi for O'Sensei after the war and did not spend any time in Iwama.

Best,

Eric
If any aikido style today had the "real goods" or was operating at a level closer to the Founder, people would be flocking to it, just like people flocked to Takeda and Ueshiba looking for something especial. Such skills would be evident in the students of this style and people would want it. The fact that there's no mass migration to any particular aikido style, and so many styles and organizations survive in parallel and none can claim superiority based on skill, tells you that everybody is pretty much on the same relative level compared to the aikido propounded by the Founder, regardless of whether your lineage is pre-War or post-War, or comes from Shingu, Iwama, Tokyo, etc. As Marc Abrams suggested, it's less imperative to discuss lineages thatn it is to concentrate on what the Founder was really doing and work to replicate it.

Chris Li
11-29-2011, 05:11 PM
If any aikido style today had the "real goods" or was operating at a level closer to the Founder, people would be flocking to it, just like people flocked to Takeda and Ueshiba looking for something especial. Such skills would be evident in the students of this style and people would want it. The fact that there's no mass migration to any particular aikido style, and so many styles and organizations survive in parallel and none can claim superiority based on skill, tells you that everybody is pretty much on the same relative level compared to the aikido propounded by the Founder, regardless of whether your lineage is pre-War or post-War, or comes from Shingu, Iwama, Tokyo, etc. As Marc Abrams suggested, it's less imperative to discuss lineages thatn it is to concentrate on what the Founder was really doing and work to replicate it.

+1

Janet Rosen
11-29-2011, 06:01 PM
I wouldn't say that the Iwama folks I've trained with have demonstrated anything particularly unique relative to what I've seen/felt from other styles.

I never had the opportunity to train with Saito Sensei himself, so I wouldn't care to speculate on what he personally could do. But I see no evidence that his students received any more accurate transmission from the Founder than anyone else.

(FWIW, I'd say the same about students from Tohei Sensei's lineage.)

Katherine

This aiki-mutt agrees with this and with Gerardo's post too.

Eric Winters
11-29-2011, 06:47 PM
Hello,

I'm not trying to convert anyone, just stating my opinion. Personally, I think to get closer or to surpass O Sensei's aikido you would have to go outside of aikido to daito ryu or a koryu that has stayed true to their original teachings and of course find a teacher willing to teach. (again, just my opinion)

Eric

Peter Goldsbury
11-29-2011, 08:26 PM
Peter:

That is an important piece of information that is not well-known outside of Japan. I think that another interesting aspect with Aikido is also the lack of an established means of passing on all of the art onto a successor. This is a common practice in koryu and in traditional Chinese martial arts. This practice does not seem to have roots in Gendai Budo. I wonder if you have any cultural information that might shed some light on this apparent phenomenon? Certainly, Takeda Sensei was paranoid (delusional disorder or paranoid personality?) and did not have the personality to be able to remain settled and focused on passing on all aspects of his art onto a successor. O'Sensei certainly did not appear to be focused on the continuity of his art. Given that this seems to be somewhat common in Gendai Budo, I wonder what might factors might contribute to this.

Marc Abrams

Hello Marc,

I have discussed this in the columns I am writing. The iemoto (家元) system became established for the transmission of traditional arts, but there is very little about this in English. After a few other candidates, M Ueshiba setled on Kisshomaru as his successor, but we do not know how he conceived of the 'structure' of the art, considered as a Japanese legal entity. The first thing Kisshomaru and Koichi Tohei did, after the Aikikai became more active, was to write technical manuals. Of course, in Budo Renshuu and Budo, there was a precedent for this, but these were never published for general distribution. Kisshomaru had his own ideas for the dissemination of aikido and Morihei Ueshiba seems to have accepted these, albeit reluctantly.

Of course, Morihei Ueshiba also had star 'guru' quality, and so there was a kind of pecking order among the deshi, according to how close they were. And every single shihan I have ever met who was directly taught by M Ueshiba claimed to be a special student--and the implication was that he/ they were far closer to the Founder than other mortals. Which is true, but requires a context. Finally, I remember the reaction of one shihan when I announced my intended residence in Japan. He smiled ruefully and stated that I would finally discover 'the truth' about aikido. (Just like Stanley Pranin.)

Best wishes,

PAG

Chris Li
11-29-2011, 09:01 PM
Hello Marc,

I have discussed this in the columns I am writing. The iemoto (ƌ) system became established for the transmission of traditional arts, but there is very little about this in English. After a few other candidates, M Ueshiba setled on Kisshomaru as his successor, but we do not know how he conceived of the 'structure' of the art, considered as a Japanese legal entity. The first thing Kisshomaru and Koichi Tohei did, after the Aikikai became more active, was to write technical manuals. Of course, in Budo Renshuu and Budo, there was a precedent for this, but these were never published for general distribution. Kisshomaru had his own ideas for the dissemination of aikido and Morihei Ueshiba seems to have accepted these, albeit reluctantly.

There's an interesting interview with Shoji Nishio here (http://home.e02.itscom.net/warabi/nisiosyoji/70saiwo.html) in which Nishio stresses repeatedly that Ueshiba had exactly zero interest in the management of any kind of organization.

Best,

Chris

Carl Thompson
11-30-2011, 12:03 AM
If any aikido style today had the "real goods" or was operating at a level closer to the Founder, people would be flocking to it, just like people flocked to Takeda and Ueshiba looking for something especial. Such skills would be evident in the students of this style and people would want it. The fact that there's no mass migration to any particular aikido style, and so many styles and organizations survive in parallel and none can claim superiority based on skill, tells you that everybody is pretty much on the same relative level compared to the aikido propounded by the Founder, regardless of whether your lineage is pre-War or post-War, or comes from Shingu, Iwama, Tokyo, etc. As Marc Abrams suggested, it's less imperative to discuss lineages thatn it is to concentrate on what the Founder was really doing and work to replicate it.

I think styles and lineages, like high grades and time training with the founder only give an indication that someone had a chance to get the goods. They can all be false indicators or they can be true but despite the opportunity, there is still the possibility that someone still didn't get it.

But it seems to me that when teachers who genuinely tick most of the indicator-boxes try to do the same training they did with the founder in their own dojos, there are few people who are willing to tolerate it. Whether it's the "real goods" or not, there aren't many who want to do the tanren some who were close to the founder think is necessary to build an aikido mind and body. Wartime and Postwar Japan was a different world compared to the soft living of modern Japan and other first world countries.

Even when people make the effort to try out different teachers within aikido they sometimes carry baggage with them regarding how the training should be and struggle to accept that things could be any different from what their own teacher told them. How are they to recognise the "real goods"? They even struggle to accept provable facts and logic on occasion. With so much effort invested it is a lot easier to drink up the anecdotal evidence telling them where the goods are rather than grub around looking for bitter pills that are hard to swallow. The waters are very muddy these days. It's no surprise people are looking in neigbouring ponds or tracing things back to the source for the founder's aiki.

Wherever the real goods are, I don't think they will necessarily be found by people who are "flocking" because not being a sheep is a prerequisite.

Regards

Carl

kewms
11-30-2011, 12:44 AM
Wherever the real goods are, I don't think they will necessarily be found by people who are "flocking" because not being a sheep is a prerequisite.

Which also suggests that the people who were the closest students of Ueshiba Sensei are not necessarily the ones most likely to have "the goods." Is there a list of people who argued with him and stormed out of the dojo in disgust? Or perhaps we should look at the later uchi-deshi, who weren't as far along in their training when he died and were thus thrown back on their own resources.

Katherine

Carl Thompson
11-30-2011, 01:33 AM
Which also suggests that the people who were the closest students of Ueshiba Sensei are not necessarily the ones most likely to have "the goods." Is there a list of people who argued with him and stormed out of the dojo in disgust? Or perhaps we should look at the later uchi-deshi, who weren't as far along in their training when he died and were thus thrown back on their own resources.

Katherine

Well if we're talking about people (as in plural) who got chances (more than one opportunity for the Founder to pass on his knowledge), there is another important issue that underlies a lot of these debates: That is whether or not the founder was actually any good at teaching. Related to this is the idea that he didn't care if his art got passed on.

Was he a "great teacher" (an "Osensei") only because he provided the subject to be taught? In other words, I'm asking if he didn't understand basic teaching methods or was too crazy to stick to them. Or did he actually have some degree of pedagogical skill? In the latter case, did he deliberately choose not to use it in order to keep the goods to himself?

Carl

David Yap
11-30-2011, 02:04 AM
Beside Iwama, O sensei also taught in Osaka and Shingu after WWII..

The fact that he requested/suggested that a dojo be built in Osaka in 1951 would have a bearing on this thread - meaning that he had an additional "playground"

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=366

David Y

DH
11-30-2011, 09:33 AM
Lest we be seen as bashing Kisshomaru....
It was well known that Ueshiba was seemingly uninterested in organizational, mundane matters, was uninterested in any standardized testing. By all accounts he even seemed to like to poke fun at the whole notion of a ranking system by spuriously awarding ranks far without attachment to any order.

The initial readings of his habits seem as if he was having fun, enjoying his research and training, and was not very concerned with day to day affairs. Many of those interviewed expressed concerns of how he would get by. Against this backdrop you had a post war mess of a building, all the deshi spread to the four winds, and a son who was never really interested in the art that much left to pick up the pieces.
This lack of concern for personal matters, did not prevent Ueshiba from properly setting things up for himself when the opportunity arose. Interestingly, while people continue to this very day to harangue the memory of Takeda as a type obsessed with money, here (http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=366) we see yet another example of Ueshiba doing much the same thing.
A brief snippet of the interview, well worth the read, and while you are there sign up for a membership and learn about your art.
At first I thought it was strange when O-Sensei told me to gather together persons only from rich families but then the monthly fee was really high. Although the fee was five yen, we had to set aside at least ten yen for this and that.

How much would it be in today's money?

It was a period in which one earned about two yen for one day's labor.

Now this appears on the surface to be as money grubbing as the worst sideswipes taken at Takeda. But we need to consider the preamble to this discussion of high fees. Establishing a dojo, quite simply cost a lot of money then: Here is Tanaka's reasoning with his statements rearranged a bit to flow more smoothly
It only took about ten days since I knew Inoue Sensei was coming to stay. The house I found had two stories which was good, but the rent was high. I think I paid 25 Yen (about $500 to $600 in today's money) to rent that house! (edited insert out of order) It was no wonder O-Sensei told me to gather together only those from rich families. Since the monthly fee was high, people from poor families could not join. I think I got together about 11 people.
And we can place that in context of Dobson's story of hearing shouting around the corner, and him rounding the corner to find O sensei upbraiding a vendor over his prices. O sensei looked at Terry and said "What did you expect a saint?"
How is this any different than the damning stories of Takeda yelling at Cab drivers over the same thing?
Perhaps a more balanced approach can be offered concerning this idea of fees and money in general. Money is viewed, discussed, and handled much differently by the poor, the middle and the wealthy. When you have no money or little of it, being focused on retaining what you have, having a roof over your head and eating tonight takes on a different level of priority then those sitting pretty are willing to address. Call it a let them eat cake view of the world by modern Suburban commandos.

Kisshomaru
Now, in the history of budo, it is fairly well known that many sons just don't measure up to the giants their fathers were. Such was the case with Kisshomaru. His organization, his codifying and simplifying to create a system, his navigating through some rather titanic personalities, his picking and supporting certain players is certainly laudable. Without his organizational abilities, I wonder what we would be seeing as aikido today. I am sure that can be considered either good or bad, depending on your view.
I think that:
* Without his Dad there was no Aikido/ with only his Dad there might not have been much of a future for aikido.
* Without Kisshomaru there would have been no codifying and organizing-one might say that aikido would be drastically different. With only Kisshomaru, there would be only a watered down, political machine in the name of his father.

Dan

DH
11-30-2011, 09:56 AM
Also worthy of note in that interview is this fellow stating that Ueshiba stayed with him for a year and half in 51 with Ueshiba only returning to visit his wife, for a total of 8 months of Ueshiba living with him in Osaka!!Ellis noted accounts of Ueshiba also showing up later in life at the Kodokan to do Judo...well..to be Ueshiba doing judo.
I guess my own questions would be:
Seeing how so many deshi were apparently drawing his bath and bathing him and training with him everyday at hombu...cough. How could Ueshiba be in Osaka for so long. Unless of course he could be in two places at once?

Ueshiba's detachment..."issues?"
Ellis makes a compelling case for Takeda's issues and constant movement. Couldn't Ueshiba's constant disappearing and not wanting to have a close relationship with his students-as reported here and elsewhere, and protracted absences from his family, be seen as some sort of phycological disorder, just like Takeda? Ueshiba's had his own bizzare behavior. And facing a firing squad and God knows what else in his life might have contributed to his own "detachment." Other than the one instance of Takeda being woken from his sleep and stabbing out in the dark...only to hit his son in the shoulder, how is it any different?

Maybe there is a more mundane understanding to be had here. More of a normal course of events for some Budo men at that time.
With Takeda, we still have the issues of possible PTSD. Ellis and I have discussed this as well. PTSD, does funny things. I have quite few friends who changed markedly. Takeda saw war at a young age, killed bandits (quite literally). Was attacked by 60 + constructions workers, killed a dozen and wounded many others and was almost killed himself. In and of itself, quite an interesting story that could be told, but in and of itself quite an example of PTSD and its effects.
I think it is incumbent on us to try to understand a different time, a different culture-hence different norms, a different level of attachment and treatment of what "family" was, and how hard scrabble it was just to survive on one's own means. To often we judge, by what we are familiar with.
Dan

TheMiddleRoad
11-30-2011, 10:27 AM
Beside Iwama, O sensei also taught in Osaka and Shingu after WWII..

The fact that he requested/suggested that a dojo be built in Osaka in 1951 would have a bearing on this thread - meaning that he had an additional "playground"

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=366

David Y

The Suita Dojo in Osaka. Interesting that it not been mentioned until now. Sometimes is convenient for anyone with agenda to leave it out of the thinking. Maybe the blinders are not just for the horses.If Osaka dojo could talk for itself. How many theories from here today would be more known as too revising of real history.

Many here say O-Sensei didn't teach after the war? No uchideshi after the war? O-Sensei retired to Iwama after the war? very interesting ideas, indeed. When I read the interview of Stanley Pranin, I perhaps find answers that say otherwise things. Maybe the Hombu Dojo not so Hombu, after all.. Maybe thinking people think for themselves and not have other people think for them. Best to look at signpost on the road which O-Sensei traveled. I once heard that O-Sensei drew a map for some to use to follow him. Of course, I also remember one other item i heard recently, "believe half of what you see and none of what you hear or read."

Anyway. here is Aikidos Journal Interviews and some sections from them.

http://blog.aikidojournal.com/2011/05/18/passing-of-seiseki-abe-sensei-on-may-18/
Seiseki Abe Sensei was one of the closest students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba of the postwar period.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=151

So, O-Sensei practiced misogi even before he entered the Omoto religion. I wonder when it was that Ueshiba Sensei actually began this practice.

Well, I have never heard that exactly, but I have been with him on occasions when genuine misogi had taken place. There was a time when O-Sensei and I were invited to the place of a certain Shinto priest who lives deep in the mountains, up behind the city of Yokkaichi. This priest became a kyoshi (licensed instructor) when Sensei died. Anyway, there is a waterfall there. I have a picture of O-Sensei doing chinkon under the falls, which I still have at my home. Since he was nude, it was a little inappropriate to snap the picture, so I keep it displayed in a dark corner. (laughter)

As far as the Aikido he practiced in his later years, even young girls, old people and children could do them. That is a big difference. I suppose you could say that it was a difference in the severity or the strictness of the training. Before the war, it was severity and strong technique, as opposed to the (kind of) techniques that invigorate our partners as we have now. In other words, those powerful techniques, at least in O-Sensei's case, embraced more than just the power to injure someone. He had a realization (satori) of superb technique that gave life to his training partner. I think this is something truly splendid.

I believe that the reason that Aikido has become so popular today is precisely because it is not simply another martial technique. It goes beyond, and gives life. It is, in fact, a harmonious unification with the Great Universe -- a really wonderful thing.

To what extent do you think that Ueshiba Sensei was influenced by the Omoto religion?

Do you mean influenced religiously by Omoto? That is hard to say. The greatest influences from this source are (the concept of) kotodama and the Kojiki. The brilliant Kojiki and the techniques that O-Sensei created were inseparably connected. When O-Sensei spoke about Kojiki, he was not speaking in terms of literary or scholastic explanations. For him, the Kojiki was read in terms of kotodama (the science of the intrinsic power of the spoken word).

In fact, the first time I ever spoke to Seagal Sensei, we discussed the Kojiki. He asked me various questions that pinpointed some of the Kojiki's most pertinent parts -- the kind of questions that most Japanese don't know enough to ask about. I respect him for that. If one were to follow this kind of thought a little further, I think that it would tie in with Omoto

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=656
You once remarked that "the essence of calligraphy lies in kokyu. (lit. breath)." Is this the same sort of kokyu we find in aikido?

The very same.

This brings to mind the question, "What exactly are we teaching when teach calligraphy?" We teach form and how to draw the characters, of course, but I think if we are unable to teach a certain "something more," then the life will go out of calligraphy and it will no longer interest people.

That "something more" is very important, then, isn't it?
It is indeed. Unfortunately, although calligraphy is quite popular these days, I have a feeling that most of it fails to offer the potential to discover this "something more."
Would you say this is something you have to develop on your own, through sincere practice and by working through your own process?

Yes, and once you have it, you can start feeling out the range of your own skills by executing physically large pieces or by passing on what you have learned what you have gleaned to the next generation. In other words, at that point your activities become focused on either challenging yourself through your works or placing yourself in a middle position from which to transmit what you have to others. Those are the two paths.

How was it that Morihei Sensei came to take up calligraphy?
I think he actually did a bit even before we met, although I doubt many of those works remain.
In 1954,I accompanied Morihei Sensei to Shingu to attend the opening of Michio Hikitsuchi's dojo there. We stayed for about a month, and since Morihei Sensei hated seeing people idle he told me to teach calligraphy in between aikido classes. A photographer by the name of Kubo got together a group of students and suddenly I found myself with a part-time job!

Morihei Sensei would watch me teaching like that and gradually began to take an interest himself. Before I knew it he saying, "Well, perhaps I'll do a few myself"The first thing he brushed was the word "aiki," although I'm not sure where that particular piece is now.

After we returned from Shingu he started coming to my home and would always spend whole days practicing calligraphy. That seemed to be his greatest joy.

5 - UCHIDESHI IN MY OWN HOME
Did you begin your aikido career as an uchideshi?

Yes, in a way, but actually it was Morihei Sensei who would come to my home to practice calligraphy, as I mentioned instead of the other way around. This put me in the rather unusual position of being uchideshi in my own home! We had a special room set aside for him, and it was there that we developed our relationship as student and teacher. Nonetheless, it was very much an old-style student-teacher relationship rooted in strict bushido attitudes. The discipline was not externally imposed, however, but came rather from the attitudes and behaviors to which any uchideshi naturally subjects himself out of a desire to serve his teacher. This is really the only way to truly grasp and absorb your teacher's "kokyu." Living with your teacher under the same roof twenty-four hours a day gives you access not only to his technical abilities, but also to an understanding of the very way he lives and breathes, his way of life and his rhythms. It is an opportunity to train and discipline your ki, and in the process to know all of the sides of your teacher. Morihei Sensei used to visit for a week or ten days at a time, and being in such close contact with his

raul rodrigo
11-30-2011, 10:49 AM
Not trying to be contentious, but the fact that he promoted others 10th dan sort of bolsters my argument, which is that, if Saito had a truer grasp of the art as O-sensei taught it, then why didn't O-sensei give him the recognition he extended to Tohei, Suenaka and others? And if rank and licenses really didn't matter to him, why did he bother granting them?

Yasuo Kobayashi, uchideshi of that era and 8th dan, recalled: "About this time there were the following incidents. People came from the countryside suddenly demanding an Aikido 10th dan license. This was because in the old days, when O-Sensei was teaching in the local areas, he would notice someone who, for just a moment, seemed to understand, and hed say, Oh, this guys got it. Ill give him a 10th dan. It seemed he would easily say things like, Youre great! Lets make you a 9th dan, to people who took him at his word, even though they may bave been only a 3rd or 4th dan. That was one face of O-Sensei. Hed just say something like, Youre a 9th dan or 10th dan, When I was younger, O-Sensei told me, too, many times, that I was a 9th or 10th dan. The other uchideshi were also promoted to 9th or 10th dan many times."

Chris Li
11-30-2011, 11:03 AM
Yasuo Kobayashi, uchideshi of that era and 8th dan, recalled: "About this time there were the following incidents. People came from the countryside suddenly demanding an Aikido 10th dan license. This was because in the old days, when O-Sensei was teaching in the local areas, he would notice someone who, for just a moment, seemed to understand, and he'd say, "Oh, this guy's got it. I'll give him a 10th dan."" It seemed he would easily say things like, "You're great! Let's make you a 9th dan,"" to people who took him at his word, even though they may bave been only a 3rd or 4th dan. That was one face of O-Sensei. He'd just say something like, "You're a 9th dan or 10th dan,"" When I was younger, O-Sensei told me, too, many times, that I was a 9th or 10th dan. The other uchideshi were also "promoted" to 9th or 10th dan many times."

There was a person in the remote countryside who was very proud of a certificate from Ueshiba naming him the highest Shihan in that area - John (Stevens) made a comment like "Isn't that a little bit like being the Shihan of the North Pole?" - but the guy didn't seem to appreciate the humor :)

Best,

Chris

Ken McGrew
11-30-2011, 12:16 PM
Beside Iwama, O sensei also taught in Osaka and Shingu after WWII..

The fact that he requested/suggested that a dojo be built in Osaka in 1951 would have a bearing on this thread - meaning that he had an additional "playground"

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=366

David Y

Most importantly, this interview is yet another account that states that O Sensei personally taught Aikido, on the mat as it were. He was not, therefore, retired after 1941.

Chris Li
11-30-2011, 12:28 PM
Most importantly, this interview is yet another account that states that O Sensei personally taught Aikido, on the mat as it were. He was not, therefore, retired after 1941.

You mean this part?

Did O-Sensei himself teach?
Yes, he also taught. The dojo used to be downstairs. There was a room next to the dojo and O-Sensei used to sit there and watch us practice. He sometimes came out of the room and instructed us.

Anyway, it's not a yes/no thing - it concerns how much he taught, what he taught, and how he taught it.

Best,

Chris

Demetrio Cereijo
11-30-2011, 01:10 PM
Question is do you really want to correct a historical inaccuracy or just silence critics on an internet forum?

I'd bet historical accuracy (following academic standards) would cause more damage to aikido than what Pranin has made public.

Marc Abrams
11-30-2011, 01:32 PM
Unfortunately, there are some people who stubbornly cling to their perceptions, despite the preponderance of information otherwise..... They tend to muck up threads that try and advance our knowledge because they cannot move beyond what they already think that they know.

This thread was not designed to uncover the gilding that occurs with many people's recounting of history. This thread was not designed to diminish the enormous contributions that significant people have made in helping our art. This thread was not designed to prop up some, while knocking down others.

This thread was to help highlight the situation that we find ourselves in today.
As Marc Abrams suggested, it's less imperative to discuss lineages thatn it is to concentrate on what the Founder was really doing and work to replicate it.
This point that Gerardo made is where I wanted the next step of this thread to go and should hopefully be our focus in our own training. Due to the idiosyncrasies of O'Sensei (not pathologically paranoid like I believe Takeda Sensei was), due to changes in pre-war and post-war Japan, due to a host of other circumstances, it is practically impossible to assert that O'Sensei passed on all that he knew in any manner, shape or form, to any one of his students (including his son). It behooves any one of us not to look inside and outside of our art in order to try and re-create to the best of our abilities that with which we will most likely never be able to re-create. O'Sensei was a remarkable personality, filled with quirks, positives and negatives. He was a remarkable martial artist who unfortunately did not see to it that all that he knew was passed on. We have a number of people still alive today who did learn from O'Sensei, each taking what they could. We have a number of people outside of our art (Dan, Ark, Mike, etc.) who can open our eyes to things that we can put back into our art to bring the art closer to what the founder was doing. Myopic idol worship of some people and the worship of some ideas that exist best in philosophy and not in reality, are sadly too common.

If we want to progress, while raising the over-all level of our art, we need to be honest with ourselves and recognize that what we "know" is serving more to interfere with our ability to learn more about our art, than it is in helping us better the art that so many of us love and have dedicated our lives to understanding and teaching.

Marc Abrams

graham christian
11-30-2011, 02:01 PM
O'Sensei, Master Teacher. Makes sense to me. What's the problem?

If you want to study his teaching methods then I would say study them only, not what he didn't do or where he was or even how often. All teachers have their way of teaching and their own methods so anyone who says 'he just did whatever came to mind ' or such things obviously didn't get his method of teaching or are being misunderstood by those reading those comments.

Why the question in the first place anyway? Someone trying to prove something?

It's very simple to understand O'Senseis scene with regards to teaching his art but to do so you have to recognise what the scene was in the first place.

He was in big demand. His aikibudo then aikido was in big demand. This presents a problem. You can't be in two places or twenty places at once.

Thus, as the founder, or if you like the leader, you delegate. Delegate and organise. You now become the teacher of teachers who may then go out and represent. Simple really.

Then we may look again and see what parts of organisation was delegated to whom. He's the boss, he delegates. Meanwhile he carries on with the parts he specializes in. In his case this would be research and developement and improvement and the passing on of that. Simple really.

Now, he had one other problem too. People were too far behind him to understand what he had to say in it's fullness so when he saw one person who grasped or had a grasp of one aspect necessary to it's dissemination then that person would be promoted so that at least that aspect would be out there. And so on.

So this nonsense about if this or if that then you would have people beating down your door isn't real. No one really wants that unless they are some super ego and want to end up a showman putting on performances three times a night to some adoring audience.

No, anyone of any worth would be more interested in getting their message out, that's all. Their way.

Now add to that the next factor. Once you do this you must remember you are dealing with human beings. Oh dear.

Regards.G.

kewms
11-30-2011, 02:12 PM
Due to the idiosyncrasies of O'Sensei (not pathologically paranoid like I believe Takeda Sensei was), due to changes in pre-war and post-war Japan, due to a host of other circumstances, it is practically impossible to assert that O'Sensei passed on all that he knew in any manner, shape or form, to any one of his students (including his son).

I'm reminded of an interview with Threadgill Sensei that I read a couple of months ago. (http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=702&highlight=Takamura) He explained (paraphrasing) that even in a koryu, it is impossible for any teacher to pass down everything he knows. No matter how excellent the teacher or how diligent the student, one lifetime is never enough.

It is therefore one of the duties of each headmaster to add the results of his own studies back into the tradition. Every generation loses some things, but rediscovers others, and that's how the art survives.

The claim that all of Ueshiba Sensei's aikido was passed down (to anyone), and therefore our modern training as defined by his students (however capable) cannot be questioned is fundamentally bad for the long term health of our art.

Katherine

mathewjgano
11-30-2011, 03:07 PM
I'm reminded of an interview with Threadgill Sensei that I read a couple of months ago. (http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=702&highlight=Takamura) He explained (paraphrasing) that even in a koryu, it is impossible for any teacher to pass down everything he knows. No matter how excellent the teacher or how diligent the student, one lifetime is never enough.

It is therefore one of the duties of each headmaster to add the results of his own studies back into the tradition. Every generation loses some things, but rediscovers others, and that's how the art survives.

The claim that all of Ueshiba Sensei's aikido was passed down (to anyone), and therefore our modern training as defined by his students (however capable) cannot be questioned is fundamentally bad for the long term health of our art.

Katherine

I really enjoyed this point! Even if O Sensei only taught in one location with one group of people, chances are good there would have been different kinds of uptake/transmission; different emphases would manifest.

Also, I wonder how much of the numbers issues simply has to do with loose language styles. I mean, the appeal to round numbers has been used for one thousand years. Now, pardon me while I go get my 40 winks.
Take care,
Matt

kewms
12-01-2011, 01:24 PM
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

If the student isn't ready, the teacher could be standing right in front of them and they'd never know it.

We all see Ueshiba Sensei's students as they are now. It's easy to forget that they were once beginners too. Can we really blame a bunch of athletic men in their twenties for not really "getting" everything the old man was rambling about? Would we really expect them to have the same understanding that their older selves can demonstrate?

Katherine

akiy
12-01-2011, 03:13 PM
Folks, let's keep the discussions focused on talking about the topic rather than the personal history or details of people behind the topic.

-- Jun

akiy
12-01-2011, 04:39 PM
The posts regarding Saotome Sensei's training history have been moved to a new thread:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=20596

-- Jun

Chuck Clark
12-02-2011, 01:22 PM
I'm reminded of an interview with Threadgill Sensei that I read a couple of months ago. (http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=702&highlight=Takamura) He explained (paraphrasing) that even in a koryu, it is impossible for any teacher to pass down everything he knows. No matter how excellent the teacher or how diligent the student, one lifetime is never enough.

It is therefore one of the duties of each headmaster to add the results of his own studies back into the tradition. Every generation loses some things, but rediscovers others, and that's how the art survives.


I agree with Toby Threadgill Sensei. The following may be seen as off-topic, but I don't think so. I've been around for quite awhile, and I've been asked "what made you pick your teachers?"...

Well, in the beginning, I was a youngster and hung around whoever seemed to know what I wanted to know. By the time I was fourteen, I'd gotten enough experience that I became pretty selective. I learned a lot from a number of teachers, mostly good principles and also some lessons that were hard learned from negative aspects of teachers' qualities and actions. All of these lessons are necessary I think. As I got into my twenties I began to really see that I not only wanted solid training in physical aspects of budo, but I wanted also the spiritual qualities also. I then realized that the teachers I wanted to spend my time with and learn all I could from them were teaching students, who could learn, how to be their own teachers. This meant to always be looking for more... refining, polishing, and always hungry for a wider, deeper, finer view and scale... I'm still doing that after 58 years of active practice. At this point, I'm understanding that the hunger for more will not go away, but the knowledge that 'right now is okay' is what is real. I've heard a similar story about Shimizu Sensei, the last headmaster of Shinto Muso ryu when he was close to death. Someone asked him what was on his mind... his answer was, "I wish I could get my left hontei uchi to feel as good as my right hontei uchi." (hontei uchi is the basic/fundamental strike with a jo). I think that's the answer... and I'm still trying to help students learn how to be their own teachers... not a copy or model of their teacher/s.

I think it's important to learn about the histories of teachers and learn from all aspects of their practice and life so we can take complete authority of our own practice. Possibly, for those of us that are instructors and teachers, some of our students will learn how to teach others to be their own teacher.

Those Japanese teachers who wanted students to "really get it" would never articulate something of this nature. You must steal it from them while being smart enough to understand what it is to be still wanting to get your basic natural posture, movement, kihon, etc. better as you near death. All while understanding that each breath is one less...

Best regards,

Jim Sorrentino
12-04-2011, 12:54 PM
From 2004. A Koryu teacher who received nidan under Ueshiba
"I recognized that energy work you are doing. When O sensei would show up everything would stop and we would do that. They don't teach that anymore you know. It's not in Modern aikido!"

Please fill in the blanks.

The name of the koryu teacher (KT) was _______. KT received nidan in 19___. KT trained at ______ aikido dojo from 19____ to 19____. KT's primary aikido teacher was ________. The koryu KT teaches is _________.

Jim

hoi
12-04-2011, 08:59 PM
Please fill in the blanks.

The name of the koryu teacher (KT) was _______. KT received nidan in 19___. KT trained at ______ aikido dojo from 19____ to 19____. KT's primary aikido teacher was ________. The koryu KT teaches is _________.

Jim

I presume the conversation Mr. Harden had with the Koryu teacher was private; thus, badgering Mr. Harden for this type of information is as classy as your signature.

Peace.

kewms
12-04-2011, 09:18 PM
I presume the conversation Mr. Harden had with the Koryu teacher was private; thus, badgering Mr. Harden for this type of information is as classy as your signature.

On the other hand, someone who chooses to support his position by publishing a private conversation with an unnamed source shouldn't be surprised when people ask for supporting details.

Katherine

hoi
12-05-2011, 06:26 PM
On the other hand, someone who chooses to support his position by publishing a private conversation with an unnamed source shouldn't be surprised when people ask for supporting details.

Katherine

Yes, you are right ... that is if Mr. Harden is an unknow character just recently popped out from under some proverbial rock. But his integrity has been vouched by many well-knowned and reputable people ... well, that is if those people are within your circle-of-trust. They are to me -- this might seems like an appeal to authority, and perhaps it is -- I rely on their knowledge and judgement.

I understand Mr. Sorrentino's insistence for background credentials. But by now, most should understand Mr. Harden's M.O.: he is not going to divulge those information. I don't think he is doing that to hide behind some questionable intention. So, one can read his anecdotes with a tablespoonful of salt, view him like a weird uncle telling mesmerizing tales, ignore him completely, or however one prefers.

Whatever the case, I am certain approaching him in a cordial manner will open the doors easier, and I have heard you can grease the hinges with mojito.

Perhaps Mr. Sorrentino's signature line was a bit grating to my sensitivity, and my response was undeserved ... for that I am sorry. Perhaps it touched a bit closed to home. Doh! Did I just say that out loud? :blush:

Anyhow That is my observation.

Cordially,

jbblack
12-06-2011, 12:30 PM
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

If the student isn't ready, the teacher could be standing right in front of them and they'd never know it.

We all see Ueshiba Sensei's students as they are now. It's easy to forget that they were once beginners too. Can we really blame a bunch of athletic men in their twenties for not really "getting" everything the old man was rambling about? Would we really expect them to have the same understanding that their older selves can demonstrate?

Katherine

A quote by Antoine de Saint Exupry

"The essential things in life are seen not with the eyes, but with the heart."

It is my belief that any interaction with O'Sensei was a teaching. A uchi deshi does not learn just on the mat.

Cheers,
Jeff