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Chris Li
11-29-2011, 02:13 PM
Before anybody's head explodes, I have a lot of respect for Saotome, and I think that his Aikido is top-notch, but here's another example of how stories grow out of proportion, probably aided and abetted by well meaning students.

On the official ASU biography for Saotome (http://asu.org/Saotome.html) it states that he was "special apprentice with the founder of Aikido, Ueshiba Morihei (O Sensei) in 1955 and continued for 15 years until the founder's death in April of 1969.".

If you check the facts (http://www.dou-shuppan.com/saotome.html) you'll find that he enrolled in Kuwamori dojo in October 1954 and didn't become an uchi-deshi until April 1961. That's 8 years as a special apprentice, not 15. Now, 8 years is still nothing to sneeze at, but you should be able to see the problem pointed out here.

Best,

Chris

raul rodrigo
11-29-2011, 07:45 PM
I think the Saotome count of 15 years is accurate if it is taken to mean the entire time he was in Hombu Dojo, from 1961 to the mid 1970s. He (or his deshi who propagate this story) neglect to mention that Morihei was dead for much of this period.

raul rodrigo
11-29-2011, 08:01 PM
Saotome: "When I became an uchideshi O-Sensei scolded me more than anyone else. I was an uchideshi for almost 15 years and maybe that's why he found it easier to scold me. I was the clumsy type while other uchideshi were much quicker than me to learn. I was the last to remain as an uchideshi."

Chris Li
11-29-2011, 08:11 PM
Saotome: "When I became an uchideshi O-Sensei scolded me more than anyone else. I was an uchideshi for almost 15 years and maybe that's why he found it easier to scold me. I was the clumsy type while other uchideshi were much quicker than me to learn. I was the last to remain as an uchideshi."

Unfortunately, the numbers don't add up - that would mean that he became an uchi-deshi in 1954 (since Ueshiba died in 1969), even though he started Aikido at Kuwamori dojo - which didn't open until 1955 (the first official branch dojo of the Aikikai).

It does add up if you count his time with Kisshomaru after O-Sensei passed away, but that's not the impression given, is it?

FWIW, I've heard at least two other shihan claim to be the "last" uchi-deshi.

Best,

Chris

raul rodrigo
11-29-2011, 08:20 PM
No, it's very misleading, Chris. In another interview, Saotome talks about the years between 1954 and 1961: "When I realized that I wanted to be an uchi deshi, I talked to Doshu [Kisshomaru Ueshiba]. At the time, he was not an uchi deshi; he was working in a company outside the dojo. The only uchi deshi was Tamura Sensei, who had begun his study of Aikido about three months before me. I wanted to be uchi deshi, but I understood that Doshu couldn't afford it --- that he didn't have the income to take care of me. I went to Kyoto and, for about three years, I taught Aikido and other things at a school for the handicapped. When I came back to Hombu Dojo, I had to wait about two more years."

Chris Li
11-29-2011, 09:05 PM
No, it's very misleading, Chris. In another interview, Saotome talks about the years between 1954 and 1961: "When I realized that I wanted to be an uchi deshi, I talked to Doshu [Kisshomaru Ueshiba]. At the time, he was not an uchi deshi; he was working in a company outside the dojo. The only uchi deshi was Tamura Sensei, who had begun his study of Aikido about three months before me. I wanted to be uchi deshi, but I understood that Doshu couldn't afford it --- that he didn't have the income to take care of me. I went to Kyoto and, for about three years, I taught Aikido and other things at a school for the handicapped. When I came back to Hombu Dojo, I had to wait about two more years."

Tamura started at hombu in 1953, IIRC. Kuwamori was a Judo teacher - Saotome's high school Judo coach. After seeing Ueshiba he decided to make Kuwamori dojo as a branch dojo of the Aikikai (the first one) - the Aikikai sent Seigo Yamaguchi to be the instructor, and Kuwamori talked Saotome into doing Aikido. I think that Saotome got up to Ni-Dan under Yamaguchi before he entered hombu as an uchi-deshi (that might be wrong, but that number sticks in my head).

Best,

Chris

raul rodrigo
11-29-2011, 09:33 PM
Thanks for the info, Chris. Saotome doesn't stress the Yamaguchi connection, so this is helpful info for me.

Ken McGrew
11-30-2011, 12:08 PM
These so called facts are not in English, and you don't provide a translation or mention the source. It looks like an entry in a magazine. As historical evidence we must know the original source and confirm that it was presented properly. It seems that some people have a definition of "facts" that equals "whatever they'd like to hear."

These responses that Pranin Sensei studies these things and therefore can't be wrong are rather flimsy. The evidence he presents for his conclusions at various points just isn't conclusive by any normal historical standards. That is to say it would not be published in a peer reviewed journal and if it were would quickly be dismissed by other historians. If people want to make the case they are trying to make I would be willing to advise them on how to do so. I don't think they'll be able to. But I'm willing to point them in the directions that would allow them to gather evidence and make arguments that would be convincing. Question is do you really want to correct a historical inaccuracy or just silence critics on an internet forum?

If you manage to prove that O Sensei was locked in a closet 90% of the time from 1941 to 1969, this would not prove that he failed to guide the transmission of Aikido after the war and it would not prove that he was unhappy Aikido as demonstrated by Doshu and others after the war. Please don't tell us again how Sensei got mad and yelled at people for "not doing his Aikido." Senseis yell at students. That's their job. It doesn't prove the claim.

You have a multitude of interviews and other accounts that demonstrate that O Sensei did change Aikido after the war, that he did so intentionally, and he viewed the changes as improvement. These accounts are dismissed while the accounts (or selected parts of accounts) that fit the narrative that Pranin and company want to present are embraced. This goes against any pretense of objectivity.

If O Sensei liked to teach by lecturing on religious matters, popping into class for 10 minutes, and discussing Aikido with students in private while they rubbed his shoulders, then this was his way of teaching what he thought was important in the way that he saw fit. To argue that he would have allowed his son to dishonor him by deliberately watering down the art is to ignore everything we know about the man's personality not to mention the friendly interviews they gave together where they did not appear to disagree on anything. Many of the people who want to claim that O Sensei did not teach the students below him because they did not train with him as often and in the way they think would be necessary to claim to have been taught by him may have spent relatively little time with their head instructor who gave them their rank. That is to say that it is very common at higher levels that instructors teach their own students and then get pointers from their master instructor on occasion. They still claim to have been his student on an ongoing basis... though technically they only see him on occasion.

By the way, Saotome Sensei does not in any way hide his relationship with Yamaguchi Sensei.

Before anybody's head explodes, I have a lot of respect for Saotome, and I think that his Aikido is top-notch, but here's another example of how stories grow out of proportion, probably aided and abetted by well meaning students.

On the official ASU biography for Saotome (http://asu.org/Saotome.html) it states that he was "special apprentice with the founder of Aikido, Ueshiba Morihei (O Sensei) in 1955 and continued for 15 years until the founder's death in April of 1969.".

If you check the facts (http://www.dou-shuppan.com/saotome.html) you'll find that he enrolled in Kuwamori dojo in October 1954 and didn't become an uchi-deshi until April 1961. That's 8 years as a special apprentice, not 15. Now, 8 years is still nothing to sneeze at, but you should be able to see the problem pointed out here.

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
11-30-2011, 12:25 PM
These so called facts are not in English, and you don't provide a translation or mention the source. It looks like an entry in a magazine. As historical evidence we must know the original source and confirm that it was presented properly. It seems that some people have a definition of "facts" that equals "whatever they'd like to hear."

By the way, Saotome Sensei does not in any way hide his relationship with Yamaguchi Sensei.

It's a book publisher's page, Saotome's own publisher - actually the bio is the one that's published in Saotome's book in Japanese. If you don't trust me, then run it through one of the online translation engines - that'll get you the dates.

Actually, it's still a little off, because it says that Saotome started Aikido in 1954, but that he spent "20 years under the tutelage of the founder", which is a pretty good trick since the founder died in 1969.

And I never said that he concealed his relationship with Yamaguchi. Anyway, it's just an example of how facts tend to get "expanded".

Best,

Chris

ChrisMoses
11-30-2011, 12:29 PM
Ken, if you're going to stick your fingers in your ears and refuse to enter into any genuine discussion with anyone maybe you should give up on the whole forum thing. If all you need to know about aikido you can get from Saotome Sensei and his books, maybe you should stick with that. Your refusal to honestly approach information from reputable sources makes me question your motives here. I suspect you're getting pretty close to making people's "special" list.

DH
11-30-2011, 01:26 PM
Ken, if you're going to stick your fingers in your ears and refuse to enter into any genuine discussion with anyone maybe you should give up on the whole forum thing. If all you need to know about aikido you can get from Saotome Sensei and his books, maybe you should stick with that. Your refusal to honestly approach information from reputable sources makes me question your motives here. I suspect you're getting pretty close to making people's "special" list.
Hi Chris
It's a sure sign that talking to certain people is a waste of time when their posts in return are not responsive to anything that was corrected. When Mr. McGrew is offered factual information he never refutes it in the same manner. Add to that when his is clearly wrong, he avoids that and later starts discussing it as if he knew it all along. Those are the key indicators that put people on that "special list." Oh well. Although I respect Saotome's skills and publicly speek favorably of them, I remember telling a high ranked teacher under Saotome that certain sword work he was doing was not "Samurai weapons" and that Saotome made it up. I also told him the majority of it would be widely panned by anyone with actual koryu experience as having anything to do with Samurai weapons. It was work meant to express aikido movement with weapons. I thought the guy was going to hit me. "How do you know that?" he demanded. I said "It was on the first page of the book! Did you skip that part since you were more interested in looking at the pictures?" ;)

When it comes to discussing this subject, we all need to avoid the trade mark "true believer" syndrome that embarrasses many a teacher and try to focus on the facts. This was what Stan himself faced, when he had to set aside what he had read and been told, then later what he faced when he had to present facts and truths that ran counter to everything the Aikikai was putting out and many Japanese Shihans were telling Americans. Some it was pure bullshit, some exaggerations of fact. much of it self serving claptrap. Stan took a lot of heat, for daring to reveal to the world a far more cogent Aikido history then had been told.
As I said earlier who wants to be the guy to tell some true believer that "No, Johnnie, your teacher never did those things, never trained that long, and no O sensei was not THEE teacher during that period...In spite of what your own beloved teacher said."

All the best
Dan

DH
11-30-2011, 01:31 PM
Quote:
Ken McGrew wrote:
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.
Yup
There is much more he has not said as it would greatly embarrass more than a few famous people. Then again, depending on who you know, there is a tremendous amount of back story that you just can't say publicly!

Aikido owes a tremendous debt to Stanley and his work. Unfortunately there are still people seriously entrenched in a true believer mentality, coopting their own imagined O sensei over the very real -although none-the-less remarkable, Ueshiba Morihei. This is often forwarded by mid level teachers, sucking up everything they are told by their Japanese teachers and not caring or being to lazy to research. I have talked with more than a few who really don't care about Ueshiba at all. I have heard "Aikido to me is what _________ sensei tells me it is. That's all I care about."
There's nothing to say to that. They're happy.
Dan

raul rodrigo
11-30-2011, 09:09 PM
Ken, Saotome doesn't conceal the connection to Yamaguchi, and we didn't say he did. From one interview: "I practiced judo when I was in high school. I was taken to the Kuwamori Dojo with an introduction from my judo teacher because he thought aikido would be suitable for me. That's when I learned about aikido for the first time. At that time Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei was teaching the class. I was bigger than I am now and weighed about 190 pounds. I used to win judo matches in Tokyo. After the class, Yamaguchi Sensei told me to grab his fingers. The moment I grabbed them I was thrown. I didn't know how it happened and thought I had fallen by myself by tripping on a corner of the tatami mats. So I asked him to do it again. I think I was thrown four or five times. He threw me with his fingers and also when I grabbed his shoulder. This is how I started the art."

But Saotome doesn't make clear is how much time he spent with Yamaguchi, relative to the time he spent with Osensei. The official ASU materials talk about 15 years and even 20 years with the founder. In fact it was 8, and a very abbreviated, low intensity 8 in terms of how much hands on time he got. The other deshi of that era (primarily those who live in Japan and have no need to "market" their exposure to Osensei) are quite frank. O-sensei did not teach regularly. You can even reconstruct the daily teaching schedule in the 1960s (based on the recollections of those who were there). The regular instructors were Kisshomaru, K Osawa, Arikawa, Yamaguchi, Tada, Tohei, and then later Saotome himself. Saito taught on Sundays.

Brad Darr
12-01-2011, 12:32 PM
For what its worth,

When I lived in Japan a few years ago the first class I trained at Seibukan they asked me who my teacher was and I replied that it was Saotome sensei, everyone said oh you mean Yamaguchi sensei's student. I agreed then added that he was an uchi deshi as well but after several minutes of puzzled looks everyone said "Ah yes Yamaguchi sensei's student who moved to the US, very good aikido". I like to tell this story to my friend's in the US not to disrespect Saotome Sensei who I still think of as my teacher and an uchi deshi but to put in perspective that what we have been told in the US and abroad is not the "whole story" or not the "story" in Japan. I also think that other people may have similar stories about the other "uchi deshi" that were sent abroad.

I would also like to point out something that I think is very important from the youtube clip of Kazuaki Tanahashi. He states that Osensei still teaches him things today and that he learns things from Osensei all the time. This made me think that maybe the problem with all this "so and so was a good/bad teacher" is not really based on anything they were teaching but what the students themselves were learning and whether or not they learned it right at that moment or ten years later. So from my perspective the discussion as to the funny math with Saotome Sensei is silly because I am sure that Saotome Sensei still remembers things that Osensei said and did even after he had passed on. Another example is Chiba Sensei saying that it took some years for him to understand the koan that Osensei gave to him, and it wasn't until years after Osensei had died that he finally got it. My point is that people don't simply learn from things that are happening at the moment. I realize that the only measure of how well a teacher taught is by looking at the students but in my mind it is 50/50 teacher and student, and it may not be an instantaneous learning experience but one that takes years and years. Many people have pointed out that responsibility lies not only with the teacher but also with the student.

One last thing that got me thinking was the discussion of how much Osensei traveled and how could anybody really be his "student" or have really learned from him without training on a day to day basis with him. Well for most of us in the US and Europe I think the same could be said. How often do we actually get to train with the shihan that we call our "sensei" or who leads our organization. There are a lucky few who are/were able to train with these teachers either by being lucky enough to train at the teacher's dojo in a large metropolitan area or by following them on the seminar circuit. However because these teachers are highly in demand and are making a living by teaching seminars even the members of their home dojo don't get to see them all that much. Look at any shihan teaching in the US and their schedule, most of them are teaching 30-40 weekends out of the year, with travel time they may only teach one or two classes a week at their own dojo. Some people only get to see "their" shihan/sensei once or twice a year and plenty of them still claim lineage on their websites and in discussions. How is this any different than Osensei who traveled around visiting friends and students teaching here and there when he could. Also how many of students actually show up to every class all the time so even if you "sensei" is in town this weekend maybe you have to work or you have to take care of the kids etc... Which brings me back to the point that it is not just the teacher who bears responsibility.

I also liked this
As Marc Abrams suggested, it's less imperative to discuss lineages than it is to concentrate on what the Founder was really doing and work to replicate it.

Janet Rosen
12-01-2011, 01:13 PM
For what its worth...


Good post, Brad. Thank you.

kewms
12-01-2011, 01:16 PM
My point is that people don't simply learn from things that are happening at the moment. I realize that the only measure of how well a teacher taught is by looking at the students but in my mind it is 50/50 teacher and student, and it may not be an instantaneous learning experience but one that takes years and years. Many people have pointed out that responsibility lies not only with the teacher but also with the student.

Indeed. I'm sure plenty of people here have had the experience of suddenly figuring out something that our teachers have been telling us for years.

Katherine

ericbuchanan
12-01-2011, 01:16 PM
I think Brad Darr makes some great points. It also reminded me of the incident related in Ellis Amdur's book "Hidden in Plain Sight". Apparently, O-Sensei held a seminar in the early 50's where he called in all his top students. Kanshu Sunadomari heard O-Sensei say that the basic techniques in Aikido are Kasutori and goes on to say this was a watershed moment for him and he felt very lucky to have heard him say it. Another person (I forget who), who also attended, said nothing much happened, they just did basics all week. So what kind of teacher was he?

BTW, I highly recommend Mr. Amdur's book if you are at all interested in this kind of thing. Disclaimer: I have no association with Mr. Amdur other than being a fan of his books.

Eric

Ken McGrew
12-01-2011, 03:56 PM
Ken, if you're going to stick your fingers in your ears and refuse to enter into any genuine discussion with anyone maybe you should give up on the whole forum thing. If all you need to know about aikido you can get from Saotome Sensei and his books, maybe you should stick with that. Your refusal to honestly approach information from reputable sources makes me question your motives here. I suspect you're getting pretty close to making people's "special" list.

If you are going to make such baseless personal charges, Chris, then point to examples of my allegedly not engaging in the discussion in a genuine way. It amazes me how some people can't see past sources to the actual evidence that they are supposed to contain. Chris posts something in Japanese and doesn't bother to translate it. People say because Pranin is the source he must be right and the fact that he bases his arguments on an incorrectly transferred film is not addressed. People point to timelines to argue that O Sensei did not teach after 1941, used interviews with people who trained under him in order to establish this timeline, and yet selectively leave out the fact that if asked these original students insist that O Sensei did guide Aikido after the war and that the changes were intentional and that the changes were improvements. I don't think I'm the one who isn't engaging in an honest way with the evidence.

Chris Li
12-01-2011, 04:08 PM
If you are going to make such baseless personal charges, Chris, then point to examples of my allegedly not engaging in the discussion in a genuine way. It amazes me how some people can't see past sources to the actual evidence that they are supposed to contain. Chris posts something in Japanese and doesn't bother to translate it. People say because Pranin is the source he must be right and the fact that he bases his arguments on an incorrectly transferred film is not addressed. People point to timelines to argue that O Sensei did not teach after 1941, used interviews with people who trained under him in order to establish this timeline, and yet selectively leave out the fact that if asked these original students insist that O Sensei did guide Aikido after the war and that the changes were intentional and that the changes were improvements. I don't think I'm the one who isn't engaging in an honest way with the evidence.

OK, for all those who don't know how to use Google Translate (which isn't that great, but will get you the dates), or are unwilling to trust me to translate a simple date (I only see one person complaining about it):

http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dou-shuppan.com%2Fsaotome.html

And yes, I translated the pertinent section (the dates) in the original post.

Best,

Chris

Ken McGrew
12-01-2011, 04:14 PM
Raul,

You say "doesn't stress" and I read that as "conceal." I think I read your intent correctly. But alas it does not matter.

Saotome Sensei is not responsible for everything that has been said about him. His English is not perfect. He doesn't proof check everything that has been written. I have no personal knowledge of any errors that he may or may not have been aware of. It is my understanding that Saotome Sensei met O Sensei around 1954. O Sensei died in 1969. That's 15 years. Not 8. I have never personally heard Saotome Sensei say 20 years with the founder. I've heard him say 15 years he knew O Sensei. I think the confusion some people may have made is this: 1975 (the year he left Japan) - 1955 (the year he met O Sensei) = 20 years.

You and others want to quibble over definitions that allow you to silence those who question the conclusions that you are committed to upholding. Unfortunately, much of your arguments come down to the definition of what instruction is, what Uchi Deshi is, even what is is. This is an old game. Saito Sensei was infamous for claiming to be the only Uchi Deshi by his own selective definition.

None of it supports very well the central claim that O Sensei did not teach his Aikido after 1941 and was unhappy with Aikido after 1941. Efforts to distract from this weakness in the argument not withstanding. As Brad and I have stated, senior instructors see their senior students less often at various times in their training. Mostly they see them less often once they move away to form their own dojos. In Saotome Sensei's case that trend was probably reversed. If O Sensei spoke with you even once a week, threw you even just once a month, and gave you pointers to improve your Aikido even once a year, you'd be sure to count that as training with him. I would too. How much training was an hour with the founder worth compared to those who followed? He taught the way he saw fit. It was still his Aikido.

Now even if you somehow prove that Saotome Sensei only spent 8 years learning from O Sensei. Even if we accept all your definition games (by you I just mean those of you who hold these views), it is simply not the case that, as you claim, his experience was "very abbreviated, low intensity... in terms of how much hands on time he got." There is ample evidence, given how prominently Saotome Sensei is featured in the demonstration films, how often he traveled with O Sensei, how long he stayed compared to most Uchi Deshi, the rank he received, the teaching he did on behalf of Aikikai, the position he held before leaving, that his experience was not abbreviated or low intensity. There is no question that towards the end of O Sensei's life that Saotome Sensei was close to him both physically and personally.

For people who are so quick to criticize the politics at Hombu they are quick to forget them when it's convenient. Saotome Sensei felt a calling to come to the United States to spread Aikido. In order to do so he was forced to defy Doshu. This was eventually forgiven by our current Doshu. During those years away do you not think that the story told in Japan may have drifted a bit from the reality that had existed before Saotome Sensei left? A little fair play would be nice.

Ken, Saotome doesn't conceal the connection to Yamaguchi, and we didn't say he did. From one interview: "I practiced judo when I was in high school. I was taken to the Kuwamori Dojo with an introduction from my judo teacher because he thought aikido would be suitable for me. That's when I learned about aikido for the first time. At that time Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei was teaching the class. I was bigger than I am now and weighed about 190 pounds. I used to win judo matches in Tokyo. After the class, Yamaguchi Sensei told me to grab his fingers. The moment I grabbed them I was thrown. I didn't know how it happened and thought I had fallen by myself by tripping on a corner of the tatami mats. So I asked him to do it again. I think I was thrown four or five times. He threw me with his fingers and also when I grabbed his shoulder. This is how I started the art."

But Saotome doesn't make clear is how much time he spent with Yamaguchi, relative to the time he spent with Osensei. The official ASU materials talk about 15 years and even 20 years with the founder. In fact it was 8, and a very abbreviated, low intensity 8 in terms of how much hands on time he got. The other deshi of that era (primarily those who live in Japan and have no need to "market" their exposure to Osensei) are quite frank. O-sensei did not teach regularly. You can even reconstruct the daily teaching schedule in the 1960s (based on the recollections of those who were there). The regular instructors were Kisshomaru, K Osawa, Arikawa, Yamaguchi, Tada, Tohei, and then later Saotome himself. Saito taught on Sundays.

raul rodrigo
12-01-2011, 05:05 PM
Saotome entered Hombu Dojo as an uchideshi in 1961. O-sensei died in 1969. Eight years. In a decade when Morihei didn't teach a regular class at Hombu dojo. Between 1955 and 1961, Saotome was in Kuwamori Dojo and then Kyoto. Since he couldn't be in two places at once, then he wasn't on the mat at Hombu with Morihei.

This inflation of one's closeness to Morihei occurs with many shihan who went abroad. Each one is supposed to be Osensei's "favorite uke" or some such title.

Ken McGrew
12-01-2011, 05:34 PM
Saotome entered Hombu Dojo as an uchideshi in 1961. O-sensei died in 1969. Eight years. In a decade when Morihei didn't teach a regular class at Hombu dojo. Between 1955 and 1961, Saotome was in Kuwamori Dojo and then Kyoto. Since he couldn't be in two places at once, then he wasn't on the mat at Hombu with Morihei.

This inflation of one's closeness to Morihei occurs with many shihan who went abroad. Each one is supposed to be Osensei's "favorite uke" or some such title.

I doubt your claims, I doubt your sources (what are they again), I doubt their claims, I question your conclusions, I reject your efforts at narrowing definitions. In the end it doesn't matter.

You would rather discuss dates, one point of argument, rather than the claim you are hoping to support. You are arguing that Saotome Sensei, in particular, spent little time with O Sensei and therefore learned very little from him, Etc. Your central claim that you hope to perpetuate is at issue.

I notice the lack of response to the rest of my post above. Saotome Sensei was personally trained by O Sensei, it was an intense and close experience, and there is ample evidence for this. He was prominently used as an Uke on the demonstration videos, he taught for Hombu, he traveled with O Sensei, he was recognized as a senior instructor, and so forth. To accuse him of "inflation of one's closeness to Morihei" ignores all the evidence to the contrary. Moreover, it is the greatest of insults to my teacher. I think it is meant to be such. And yes he is one of my teachers though I know him from seminars and trainings, and through the teachings he gave to my seniors. It is not my opinion. I would never make such a claim if he hadn't said so.

I note that the ASU members who so often defend the coalition around internal training and the historical revisionism, who host seminars for this coalition, who attack me or allow others to attack me, are silent as our teacher is accused of dishonesty. Part of Budo is loyalty. Budo men indeed.

Now some will yell that they never so accused him. Or that they didn't all accuse him. Hit and run. Attack then change the subject.

Pauliina Lievonen
12-01-2011, 06:04 PM
In the classical music world, the way this is solved on cv's and biographical notes in program books and such is to say "x studied with y at the z conservatory and attended master classes with a, b, and c". Attending a master class with a good teacher can have a big influence on ones playing, so it's worth mentioning. But the teacher you study with week in week out for a number of years is who's lineage you're part of.

And of course at some point in a musician's career there comes a point where their teachers aren't necessarily mentioned at all anymore, because they've made enough of a name for themselves...
kvaak
Pauliina

DH
12-01-2011, 06:40 PM
For people who are so quick to criticize the politics at Hombu they are quick to forget them when it's convenient. Saotome Sensei felt a calling to come to the United States to spread Aikido. In order to do so he was forced to defy Doshu. This was eventually forgiven by our current Doshu. A little fair play would be nice.
Forgiven? Really?
When it comes to aiki, Saotome is beyond any doubt among the best I have seen in modern Aikido. I haven't seen anyone in the aikikai who I think can touch him. And I most certainly have no favorites in the aikido game for any reason. Yet, Saotome does not appear on the official list of Shihan who can award shihan to his students....and have it recognozed.....by Doshu.
Why do you think that is? ;)
Many people -Saotome included- considered him a student of Yamaguchi. It has to do with a Japanese thing. Your first sensei in an art and all that. That's not to say that -he did. Also exaggerations are very common, even to flat out lies, because they are not really consided lies by the same standards we use. They are used to demonstrate a perceived truth by the writer. Think of it like an authors purgatives...on steroids. For an example; read Kisshomaru's biography of his father.
Then again, if you really want to appreciate the divine comedy that was the formulation of modern aikido- listen to Prof Goldsbury, who serves as the President of the International Aikikai federation (who's words you have yet to acknowledge) when he, along with many others have tried to tell you that when they all went to Japan they more or less got the ..."oh...now you are going to find out the real truth about aikido, " speech. Some of which is funny, others sad, but pretty much just another tale of organizational control, over a disparate group of near-do-wells, wanna-be's, and also-ran's...all vying for position many times against some serious talent, who oddly just didn't give a crap about the politics.
Guess who won?
IN light of that you also had any number of Shihan and all…all claimed they had a daily personal training experience with him. That is virtually impossible to be true. You need to understand the Japanese to understand why they can say that and not be called liars. It's a Japanese thing and its okay to do so.
I note that the ASU members who so often defend the coalition around internal training and the historical revisionism, who host seminars for this coalition, who attack me or allow others to attack me, are silent as our teacher is accused of dishonesty. Part of Budo is loyalty. Budo men indeed.

The reason you don't see the many of the ASU internal contingent defending Saotome is that he doesn't't need to be defended. And no one I know thinks very highly of over-zealous attempts to do so on his behalf.
Part of Budo is also understanding nuance and the culture the art originated in, as well as the burden of being seen as representing an organization or teacher without the authority to do so. Most Budo people I know-particularly in the ASU are very educated and detailed in their understanding and would NEVER take part in such a display. For a student representing an art. Discretion is a better way to go.
Are you going to winter camp I wonder? ;)
Dan

Demetrio Cereijo
12-01-2011, 06:46 PM
Ken,

When Saotome Sensei stated "I studied with O Sensei altogether for 20 years" (source (http://www.aikido-shobukan.org/media/newsletters/ShobukanNews_OCT00.pdf)) was he accurate?

raul rodrigo
12-01-2011, 06:47 PM
My sources? Saotome's own interviews with Aikido Journal. He says that he had to wait five years or so before he could join Hombu Dojo. The year he joined was 1961. Telling the dates accurately isn't the same as being insulting. These are the actual dates.

DH
12-01-2011, 07:15 PM
My sources? Saotome's own interviews with Aikido Journal. He says that he had to wait five years or so before he could join Hombu Dojo. The year he joined was 1961. Telling the dates accurately isn't the same as being insulting. These are the actual dates.
Isn't it interesting that Stanley predicted outcomes just like this so many years ago?
Isn't it interesting that people are arguing the veracity of what Japanese Shihan said, and are using what Japanese Shihan said to counter it.
So what is the key difference? Stan had cooborating and vetted witness and dates, and too many all agreeing in cross questioning interviews. It blew the lid off the B.S.

In the same vein, if it weren't for Stan wisely taking photos as proof; the Daito ryu scrolls handed out and signed and dated by Ueshiba...would have almost certainly been denied as fictitious. Kisshomaru's revisionist history would have still held sway. It would have remained He said, she said. But there it was; Morihei Ueshiba, teaching Daito ryu and awarding mokuroko all the way up to 1939.
What does it really say that it took so much digging to hear the truth?

All the best
Dan

Chris Li
12-01-2011, 07:19 PM
My sources? Saotome's own interviews with Aikido Journal. He says that he had to wait five years or so before he could join Hombu Dojo. The year he joined was 1961. Telling the dates accurately isn't the same as being insulting. These are the actual dates.

That's right - my intention is not to cut anybody up, I stated that right from the beginning. What I wanted to show was how easy it is for facts, even when the best people are involved, to get "embellished".

Now, what does this say about what Saotome can do or has accomplished? Nothing at all.

Best,

Chris

Walker
12-01-2011, 07:34 PM
Think of it like an authors purgatives...on steroids.

:D Now that's pure comedy.

As for the rest of this head in the sand BS, tragic.
Anyone who has been around the arts in any depth knows that inviting close scrutiny is asking for it... The truth is seldom as pretty as our sunny fantasy.

graham christian
12-01-2011, 07:42 PM
Saotome entered Hombu Dojo as an uchideshi in 1961. O-sensei died in 1969. Eight years. In a decade when Morihei didn't teach a regular class at Hombu dojo. Between 1955 and 1961, Saotome was in Kuwamori Dojo and then Kyoto. Since he couldn't be in two places at once, then he wasn't on the mat at Hombu with Morihei.

This inflation of one's closeness to Morihei occurs with many shihan who went abroad. Each one is supposed to be Osensei's "favorite uke" or some such title.

Sounds like misuse of the word inflation to me, or double standards.

Is anyone EVER that specific about how much time they trained with someone?

I can say I trained with my teacher for 15 years and it could be checked and verified. But is it true? How much on mat training with him personally does that boil down to? We would have to work it out in terms of hours.

All uchideshi at hombu in those days trained with ueshiba. Therefore if they were 'members' for 10, fifteen or whatever years then they could rightly say they were uchideshi for that time, and taught and had personal teaching from etc.etc. It was a programme you know. All uchideshi were taught by all the senior instructors from Arikawa to Tohei etc.

How long have you trained with your teacher? Go on, you're going to tell me in number of years arn't you?

So that's not inflation yet it's not the truth if I want to boil it down. Why would someone want to boil it down?

It's not a Japanese thing to talk like this, it's a human thing. Words like favourite may then venture into inflation.

How many times have I met Americans who say they served in the vietnam war or English who say how they served in the falklands or Afghanistan etc. like a badge of honour complete with number of years. It's a human thing.

On closer inspection you may have to ask 'As what?' and many other questions, a favourite pastime of historians.

But inflation is a funny thing. Some people put down others to over-inflate what they do. Ain't life funny?

Has America or anywhere had a situation like those times being talked about, where you train and get taught by maybe seven, eight, nine, different teachers in their own right, thus experiencing all the differences and then also experiencing the masters too? All done in a vibe of newness, representing a new vibrant art. Simple answer: no.

For me, all you need to know is that if a person was around at that time and got accepted as an uchideshi then that person went through a heavy programme and thus has some goods. Simple.

Regards.G.

Chris Li
12-01-2011, 07:52 PM
For me, all you need to know is that if a person was around at that time and got accepted as an uchideshi then that person went through a heavy programme and thus has some goods. Simple.

Regards.G.

Conversely, if I characterized myself as having trained directly with Saotome for 20 years it would be OK, even though it was more like 8 and most of that time I was with Frank Hreha?

Sounds good to me, if I keep on going maybe I'll find out that I've actually been training for 60 years instead of 30. :)

And before anybody leaps on this - I think that the exaggeration in this case, while real, is of little real consequence. That's why I chose it rather than some of the more flagrant things that have gone on in the past.

Best,

Chris

graham christian
12-01-2011, 08:13 PM
Conversely, if I characterized myself as having trained directly with Saotome for 20 years it would be OK, even though it was more like 8 and most of that time I was with Frank Hreha?

Sounds good to me, if I keep on going maybe I'll find out that I've actually been training for 60 years instead of 30. :)

And before anybody leaps on this - I think that the exaggeration in this case, while real, is of little real consequence. That's why I chose it rather than some of the more flagrant things that have gone on in the past.

Best,

Chris

Is that a comparison? As I said the number of years is not the inflation it's the other words like 'directly' and thus it doesn't lead to more numbers.

Regards.G.

Chris Li
12-01-2011, 08:18 PM
Is that a comparison? As I said the number of years is not the inflation it's the other words like 'directly' and thus it doesn't lead to more numbers.

Regards.G.

Well, I did train directly with Saotome, quite a bit, so...

Best,

Chris

Marc Abrams
12-01-2011, 08:20 PM
I note that the ASU members who so often defend the coalition around internal training and the historical revisionism, who host seminars for this coalition, who attack me or allow others to attack me, are silent as our teacher is accused of dishonesty. Part of Budo is loyalty. Budo men indeed.

Now some will yell that they never so accused him. Or that they didn't all accuse him. Hit and run. Attack then change the subject.

This thread is like a bad train wreck. Jun does not want people to become personal, yet here we have a person directly attacking the integrity of some of his seniors within his organization. Some of those seniors are DIRECT students of Saotome Sensei and have been supporting Saotome Sensei for decades! I would love to be a fly on the wall if those seniors are at the winter camp and Ken shows up......

Marc Abrams

raul rodrigo
12-01-2011, 08:20 PM
Before anyone thinks I am focusing on Saotome, let me just make clear that all of the "uchi-deshi" (kayoi-deshi?) in Hombu from about 1955 to 1969 got far less hands-on time with Morihei than aikidoka in the West would expect from the term "live-in disciple." And the Japanese who stayed in Japan like S Endo are quite frank that they didn't train all that much with Morihei. Their major influences were men like Tohei and K Osawa. They took uke for Morihei a few times, heated his bathwater, etc. But Saotome's and Endo's value to us today has nothing to do with how much hands-on time they spent with Morihei. It's only in the West where people take this "I trained daily with the Founder" material seriously. You don't need to have trained with Morihei daily to become for instance, an Endo or Saotome.

Marc Abrams
12-01-2011, 08:24 PM
Before anyone thinks I am focusing on Saotome, let me just make clear that all of the "uchi-deshi" (kayoi-deshi?) in Hombu from about 1955 to 1969 got far less hands-on time with Morihei that aikidoka in the West would expect from the term "live-in disciple." And the Japanese who stayed in Japan like S Endo are quite frank that they didn't train all that much with Morihei. Their major influences were men like Tohei and K Osawa. They took uke for him a few times, heated his bathwater, etc. But Saotome's and Endo's value to us today has nothing to do with how much hands-on time they spent with Morihei. Its only in the West where people take this "I trained daily with the Founder" material seriously.

I will check the unedited notes from Imaizumi Sensei's Aikido Journal interviews, but my recollection is that the uchi-deshi system was ended in 1964 and changed so that those students became known as shidoin (junior instructors). Just another fly for the ointment ;) .

Marc Abrams

graham christian
12-01-2011, 08:43 PM
Well, I did train directly with Saotome, quite a bit, so...

Best,

Chris

Ahh, very good. Quite a bit. That's good. No exaggeration there then.

So what's with all the emphasis on numbers in the past thread. If someone tells me they have been training with Dan for the last five years I take it that they have known him for such time and done some training with him and that they are practising to the best of their ability what he gave them to practice when they can. It doesn't equal to me that they mean they are with him all the time.

Now if you really want a converse example how's this: I am very good at Aikido taught by Tohei yet have trained with him for 0 years.

Regards.G.

Chris Li
12-01-2011, 08:59 PM
Ahh, very good. Quite a bit. That's good. No exaggeration there then.

So what's with all the emphasis on numbers in the past thread. If someone tells me they have been training with Dan for the last five years I take it that they have known him for such time and done some training with him and that they are practising to the best of their ability what he gave them to practice when they can. It doesn't equal to me that they mean they are with him all the time.

Now if you really want a converse example how's this: I am very good at Aikido taught by Tohei yet have trained with him for 0 years.

Regards.G.

I think that the implication has generally been that the "uchi-deshi" were training with Ueshiba full time daily for whatever period they were there as uchi-deshi.

Best,

Chris

graham christian
12-01-2011, 09:17 PM
I think that the implication has generally been that the "uchi-deshi" were training with Ueshiba full time daily for whatever period they were there as uchi-deshi.

Best,

Chris

I agree, but implied by whom? As I see it it's implied by those who believed such and thus think all others saw it the same way. I call that assumption myself.

Those who were 'shocked' by the realities 'uncovered' by historians or whoever were to me the most deluded. I have yet to see anything shocking and yet find plenty I wasn't aware of but it's no big deal.

Thus I find all those who were so shocked now behave like they're the owners of some special secret.

From one extreme. deluded, to another, experts in the hidden truth. Amusing.

Regards.G.

David Yap
12-02-2011, 12:19 AM
Ken,

When Saotome Sensei stated "I studied with O Sensei altogether for 20 years" (source (http://www.aikido-shobukan.org/media/newsletters/ShobukanNews_OCT00.pdf)) was he accurate?

Thanks for the link. The part of the interview that I like:

O sensei's a big elephant, and his students are blind

Kevin Leavitt
12-02-2011, 02:25 AM
Interesting topic and discussion. I am not interested in proving or disproving how many years he spent or did not spend with O'sensei, AND as an ASU person, I certainly respect Saotome Sensei as my Shihan and have learned alot from him and his senior students over the years, so for that, I owe a great amount to...AND it should take NOTHING away from him.

However, I also think it is good to ascertain how much time he spent with O'Sensei to put in proper perspective the whole "transmission" issue and it helps me put in perspective how important (or not) it is to have spent time with one particular person (or not). That is the extent of my curiosity.

I could careless about an scandal, honesty, or disclosure issues around it. But again...it is nice to have a more accurate understanding about things for sure.

Alex Megann
12-02-2011, 03:03 AM
Before anyone thinks I am focusing on Saotome, let me just make clear that all of the "uchi-deshi" (kayoi-deshi?) in Hombu from about 1955 to 1969 got far less hands-on time with Morihei than aikidoka in the West would expect from the term "live-in disciple." And the Japanese who stayed in Japan like S Endo are quite frank that they didn't train all that much with Morihei. Their major influences were men like Tohei and K Osawa. They took uke for Morihei a few times, heated his bathwater, etc. But Saotome's and Endo's value to us today has nothing to do with how much hands-on time they spent with Morihei. It's only in the West where people take this "I trained daily with the Founder" material seriously. You don't need to have trained with Morihei daily to become for instance, an Endo or Saotome.

I think Endo Sensei isn't the best example, though - when I have seen him he has stated quite clearly that he regards Yamaguchi Sensei as his main teacher.

All the same, he was very much part of the "establishment" in the Kisshomaru era - there is plenty of footage out there of him taking ukemi from 2nd Doshu.

Alex

Alex Megann
12-02-2011, 03:50 AM
I think Endo Sensei isn't the best example, though - when I have seen him he has stated quite clearly that he regards Yamaguchi Sensei as his main teacher.

All the same, he was very much part of the "establishment" in the Kisshomaru era - there is plenty of footage out there of him taking ukemi from 2nd Doshu.

Alex

I just re-read Raoul's message, and realised that he is saying pretty much the same thing as I did about Endo Sensei...

Demetrio Cereijo
12-02-2011, 06:35 AM
I have never personally heard Saotome Sensei say 20 years with the founder. I've heard him say 15 years he knew O Sensei. I think the confusion some people may have made is this: 1975 (the year he left Japan) - 1955 (the year he met O Sensei) = 20 years.

Ken,

When Saotome Sensei stated "I practiced close to O Sensei - you can't imagine- for 20 years, I have these memories..." (same source) was he accurate?

philipsmith
12-02-2011, 06:43 AM
I think that the implication has generally been that the "uchi-deshi" were training with Ueshiba full time daily for whatever period they were there as uchi-deshi.

Best,

Chris

I think though that this has been implied by students rather than explicily stated by their instructors. I many times heard people such as Tamura, Yamada and Chiba say things like "of course OSensei was away a lot" or variations thereof and Chiba sensei has often said that people in general understimated the 2nd Doshus influence on Aikido both technically and in terms of its popularity worldwide.

phitruong
12-02-2011, 07:04 AM
Conversely, if I characterized myself as having trained directly with Saotome for 20 years it would be OK, even though it was more like 8 and most of that time I was with Frank Hreha?
Chris

Chris, i did not know you trained with Hreha sensei. man, it's great hanging around aikiweb. find all kind of interesting background stuffs. not many folks heard of Hreha sensei other than the senior ASU folks, since he was one of the ASU founders. i won't tell you the name he called me a few years back; although if you bribe Ledyard sensei he might tell you. :)

*sorry for the off topic venture*

phitruong
12-02-2011, 07:15 AM
Interesting topic and discussion. I am not interested in proving or disproving how many years he spent or did not spend with O'sensei, AND as an ASU person, I certainly respect Saotome Sensei as my Shihan and have learned alot from him and his senior students over the years, so for that, I owe a great amount to...AND it should take NOTHING away from him.

However, I also think it is good to ascertain how much time he spent with O'Sensei to put in proper perspective the whole "transmission" issue and it helps me put in perspective how important (or not) it is to have spent time with one particular person (or not). That is the extent of my curiosity.

I could careless about an scandal, honesty, or disclosure issues around it. But again...it is nice to have a more accurate understanding about things for sure.

great post. my sentiment is the same.

Cliff Judge
12-02-2011, 08:56 AM
I note that the ASU members who so often defend the coalition around internal training and the historical revisionism, who host seminars for this coalition, who attack me or allow others to attack me, are silent as our teacher is accused of dishonesty. Part of Budo is loyalty. Budo men indeed.


A search for "Saotome" on the forum search tool would, up until two weeks or so ago, turn up a rather modest number of hits, mostly posts by George talking about his background, or mentions that he developed his own unique aikiken systems.

Far be it from me to claim to be a student of Saotome Sensei. I only get to train with him about 30-40 hours per year, and that's only been for about ten years, and he never picks me for ukemi or scolds me publically or anything.

But I imagine that the real students of Saotome Sensei may have been happier with the state of the forum prior to two weeks ago, when his name wasn't mentioned as often as it has been, nor ever drawn through the muck.

DH
12-02-2011, 10:01 AM
A search for "Saotome" on the forum search tool would, up until two weeks or so ago, turn up a rather modest number of hits, mostly posts by George talking about his background, or mentions that he developed his own unique aikiken systems.

Far be it from me to claim to be a student of Saotome Sensei. I only get to train with him about 30-40 hours per year, and that's only been for about ten years, and he never picks me for ukemi or scolds me publically or anything.

But I imagine that the real students of Saotome Sensei may have been happier with the state of the forum prior to two weeks ago, when his name wasn't mentioned as often as it has been, nor ever drawn through the muck.
Drawn through the muck? I don't think so. Perhaps you missed this.

When it comes to aiki, Saotome is beyond any doubt among the best I have seen in modern Aikido. I haven't seen anyone in the aikikai who I think can touch him. And I most certainly have no favorites in the aikido game for any reason. Yet, Saotome does not appear on the official list of Shihan who can award shihan to his students....and have it recognozed.....by Doshu.
Why do you think that is?

The rest of the post went on to explain why I think he did not get the support. And THAT was complimentary as well by comparing the lessor lights at hombu compared to the stars with real talent-among whom was, Saotome.
Then again, if you really want to appreciate the divine comedy that was the formulation of modern aikido- listen to Prof Goldsbury, who serves as the President of the International Aikikai federation (who's words you have yet to acknowledge) when he, along with many others have tried to tell you that when they all went to Japan they more or less got the ..."oh...now you are going to find out the real truth about aikido, " speech. Some of which is funny, others sad, but pretty much just another tale of organizational control, over a disparate group of near-do-wells, wanna-be's, and also-ran's...all vying for position- many times against some serious talent- who oddly, just didn't give a crap about the politics.
Guess who won?

I included more in the Prewar / post-war thread
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.

I think the post war deshi with some real talent, saw what the prewar deshi saw; that Kisshomaru was never going to do the old mans aikido, and those who tried were distanced. It appears, at least on the surface, that not one of the stars did well against Kisshomaru's political machine. And why should they?
Kisshomaru, like his peer Tokimune Takeda, was trying to codify and make a cogent system out of the mess his dad left him. Yes I said that. The fact that he had to do it, and that he was not a talent like his father was quite a headwind.
What to do, what to do...
Against that backdrop you had very talented men who could wind up owning the new burgeoning "system" with systems of their own, thus factionalizing the art. This not because they were bad guys...just that they were talented and ...well...people being people, many times smart Johnnies go where the talent is. And when you read the interviews and read between the lines that is exactly what was happening. The solution? Distance yourself from the bright lights, then distance them from selected others who -if they were either self aware of their failings, or overly confident- would step in to support a bland codified middle.
1. This identifies and establishes your base of support.
2. Both the less talented and the over confident will rush toward it.
3. As is usual, the real talent...leaves; either under pressure or in disgust.

Most in the Aikido community already know this stuff. It's only new information to some people like our Mr. McGrew.


Like I said, this is nothing new, not only in Budo, but in Business. Another interesting note is that many people coast through life and never look closely enough or have the where-with-all to even recognize true talent when it hits them in the face. Many times it's an easy process to herd them into a cohesive and supportive organization that just wants to know their place, what the requirements are and how to all get along. :rolleyes:

Shaw said it best:
"A reasonable man looks at the world and thinks how best he can change to fit in.
An unreasonable man looks at the world, and thinks how best he can change it to suit him.
It's no small wonder that the world is ruled by unreasonable men."
Dan

George S. Ledyard
12-02-2011, 11:34 AM
Ok... since this is about my own teacher, I'll weigh in. I have never been terribly interested in nailing down the details of Aikido history in terms of trying to make the personal accounts of the various deshi square with either the known facts or each other, for that matter.

As with almost everything, there is quite simply memory drift. Studies have been done on this and it does not represent some sort of "dishonesty", it actually is a result of how the memory organizes its information. Over time the facts get shaped along the lines of the general importance and meaning the individual has given those facts, rather than duplicating some sort of factual data base of events.

I have noticed this myself. My good friend John Messores Sensei was Saotome Sensei's first student when he came from Japan back in the mid-seventies. He and I have trained together since I started Aikido in 1976. I have noticed recently that we each have distinct memories of various events and things Saotome Sensei said to us, for which we were both present at exactly the same time, and these memories do not square. This to the point at which John will remember Sensei telling him to do a particular move a certain way and I have a distinct memory of Sensei telling me never to do it that way. There are stories I have told over the years about my time with Sensei and then I have heard John tell his version of the same story and its not how I remember it. Frankly, understanding now how memory works, it's likely that neither of our memories is precisely right. However, since neither of us has yet achieved great fame in the Aikido world, no one is sitting around analyzing these things or comparing our versions of them.

Frankly, it takes a certain sort of mind to be an "historian'. Imagine being the world's foremost expert on land use patterns in Han Dynasty Guang Dong Province... Well I am similarly uninterested in whether O-Sensei farted on his train trip to Kyoto in April of 1936. I am interested in Aikido practice. I am interested in its transmission, its philosophy, its potential for personal transformation. What I take from my conversations with Saotome Sensei, and these didn't come from articles or books but directly from him, is about the meaning O-Sensei as a figure had on him, how the Founder's model as a teacher provided the shape and motivation for his training over the years. These discussions of how much face time each deshi had with the Founder are really not helpful for me...

If exactly the same standards applied in my own case it would result in a completely distorted view of my own Aikido. I started Aikido in the Spring of 1976. I trained at the DC dojo 6-7 days a week until I moved to Seattle to work for Eddie Bauer. When Saotome Sensei found out I was moving, he told me to train with Mary Heiny Sensei which I did. Bruce Bookman Sensei returned from training with Chiba Sensei in Japan at this same time. I paid dues at the dojos of both of these teachers and trained with both of them. I took over the Seattle School of Aikido as Chief Instructor when Mary Heiny Sensei left for Canada in 1986.

I am using this as an example... I could easily see some historian of Aikido in the future looking at my training history and concluding that, since I was only at the DC dojo for 5 years, and then was with Mary Heiny Sensei and Bruce Bookman Sensei from 1981 to 1986, well, that must mean they had an equal amount of influence on my Aikido. Of course, these events are not so far in the past that people don't have direct experience of each of our Aikido to form their judgments about this. No one who knows anything about any of these teachers would mistake my Aikido for that of Mary Heiny Sensei or Bruce Bookman Sensei. Anyone who knows anything about anything could see at a glance that I am a student of Saotome Sensei.

I have spent just about my entire adult life trying to understand Saotome Sensei's Aikido. While there are certainly other teachers whose Aikido is equally marvelous, I have never been on the mat with or seen anyone who is better. It hasn't mattered who I have trained with over the years... Ellis Amdur in koryu, Chris Petrilli in escrima, Mary Heiny, Tom Read, Bruce Bookman in Aikido, Howard Popkin in Daito Ryu, Don Angier, Dan Harden, etc. etc. My entire focus in this endeavor was to understand my teacher's Aikido and maintain the connection in some quality manner with the Aikido of the Founder through him.

People miss the point when they talk about mere "face time" as some silly determinant of closeness or distance from the Founder's Aikido. There were deshi for whom O-Sensei was the central figure in their lives and there were deshi for whom being a deshi was a job at a time when jobs were scarce in Japan. There were students who slept through the Founder's lectures and there were students who tried their level best to understand them.

The thing to remember about the "golden Age" of Hombu Dojo in the post war period was that O-Sensei's influence was still dominant in the sense that the mission for each student was to find his own Aikido. O-Sensei never developed any methodology for passing on form.. he taught principle. Saito Sensei in Iwama was really the last deshi to be taught anything that resembled "form" because O-Sensei was putting the finishing touches on what would become post war Aikido. But the folks at Hombu simply did not have that kind of training. Yamaguchi didn't look like Kisshomaru, Imaizumi didn't look like Chiba. Osawa's Aikido was completely distinct. To a certain extent, Tohei's Aikido started to create a a certain stylistic stream... If you look at the teachers who left with him, they share any number of traits. But Kisshomaru simply did not exert the same type of technical influence. Saotome Sensei considered Kisshomaru Ueshiba to be one of his teachers. He has always been hugely respectful of the man on a personal basis. But Saotome Sensei's Aikido had little in common with Kisshomaru's. I have a picture on my wall of Saotome Sensei sitting next to Chiba Sensei in class with the Founder, probably somewhere around 1966 or '67. The Nidai Doshu is sitting on the side observing as well. So, here we have three students of the Founder, all training simultaneously and not much of anything in common with each other.

So, my point here is that its the focus of your training, your innate talents, your dedication and hard work, and your disposition that is what determines how your Aikido ends up, not some years with a given teacher or hours of one over the other. O-Sensei was a hugely powerful personality. People changed their lives after simply seeing him (Mary Heiny being one that comes to mind). When people who don't know any better say things about "just drawing his bath" they show they don't really understand how O-sensei functioned. EVERY single thing he did with the deshi was about training. Saotome Sensei learned lessons that have stayed with him his whole life drawing O-Sensei's bath or grinding the ink for his calligraphy. These lesson have absolutely nothing to do with quantity of face time, its a transmission on an entirely different level.

Sure, there are folks who lay claim to being uchi deshi whose only interest in doing so is to give some legitimacy to their very low level Aikido. It doesn't work because anyone who knows can simply see how wretched their Aikido is... the Founder would have cried...

But there any number of post war deshi, and I have direct experience with Saotome Sensei and Chiba Sensei, for whom the Founder was the central figure in their lives and their training. The idea that they were more the students of other teachers because they had more time on the mat with them simply misses the point entirely. It's exactly the same as saying that Marty Heiny must have been just as much of an influence on my Aikido as Saotome Sensei because I spent about the same amount of time with each of them in terms of dojo membership. Anyone knowing all of us would laugh at that. Yet people consistently refer to historical information, dates and time, "face time" etc and draw conclusions that simply don't actually follow because there are other, more important factors at play.

In some ways, the "memory drift" one sees with many of the deshi is a direct result of the centrality of the Founder's influence over their lives and their training. Over time other, less "important" details get pushed out of their minds as they develop a sense of the narrative their lives have taken. It has nothing to do with intellectual dishonesty nor, in most cases, is it a matter of trying to inflate their reputations (certain notable exceptions) by inflating the story of the relationship with the Founder. It is a natural function of how memory works and the fact that these various teachers are getting older, seeing their compatriots start passing away, and feeling their mortality. They start looking for an over view of their lives, that narrative, that justifies the sacrifices, makes it all seem worth while, and makes sense to them. When this happens, things like memory of precise historical detail can go right out the window in favor of a narrative that seems to explain ones life. This is just how the mind works.. we all do it.

So, I think that, while the history of Aikido is important for any serious practitioner and something any teacher of the art should be fully conversant in, one also needs to be very careful about drawing conclusions from facts while one has little direct experience of the actual people involved. Certainly, I think it is a mistake, and fairly uncharitable, to assume that when the facts of some teacher's personal narrative don't square with the publicly available historical data, that its some sort of purposeful deception or attempt to inflate oneself in the minds of others. I simply do not believe that is what is really going on...

Ken McGrew
12-02-2011, 12:07 PM
I certainly agree with what Ledyard Sensei has said here. But engaging in this discussion let's the people who started it off the hook. Their claim is not that Saotome Sensei, or his publisher, may have gotten the dates wrong on occasion. Their claims are that Saotome Sensei did not learn the real Aiki of Aikido from O Sensei, because their claim is that no one did, and that O Sensei retired in 1941. What is at issue here are not dates but all the detailed accounts that Saotome Sensei, and other direct students, have given about their time with O Sensei, the fact that O Sensei believed he had improved Aikido after the war, and the fact that he was happy with their understanding of Aiki and Aikido. Read the posts. This is their real agenda.

Ok... since this is about my own teacher, I'll weigh in. I have never been terribly interested in nailing down the details of Aikido history in terms of trying to make the personal accounts of the various deshi square with either the known facts or each other, for that matter.

As with almost everything, there is quite simply memory drift. Studies have been done on this and it does not represent some sort of "dishonesty", it actually is a result of how the memory organizes its information. Over time the facts get shaped along the lines of the general importance and meaning the individual has given those facts, rather than duplicating some sort of factual data base of events.

I have noticed this myself. My good friend John Messores Sensei was Saotome Sensei's first student when he came from Japan back in the mid-seventies. He and I have trained together since I started Aikido in 1976. I have noticed recently that we each have distinct memories of various events and things Saotome Sensei said to us, for which we were both present at exactly the same time, and these memories do not square. This to the point at which John will remember Sensei telling him to do a particular move a certain way and I have a distinct memory of Sensei telling me never to do it that way. There are stories I have told over the years about my time with Sensei and then I have heard John tell his version of the same story and its not how I remember it. Frankly, understanding now how memory works, it's likely that neither of our memories is precisely right. However, since neither of us has yet achieved great fame in the Aikido world, no one is sitting around analyzing these things or comparing our versions of them.

Frankly, it takes a certain sort of mind to be an "historian'. Imagine being the world's foremost expert on land use patterns in Han Dynasty Guang Dong Province... Well I am similarly uninterested in whether O-Sensei farted on his train trip to Kyoto in April of 1936. I am interested in Aikido practice. I am interested in its transmission, its philosophy, its potential for personal transformation. What I take from my conversations with Saotome Sensei, and these didn't come from articles or books but directly from him, is about the meaning O-Sensei as a figure had on him, how the Founder's model as a teacher provided the shape and motivation for his training over the years. These discussions of how much face time each deshi had with the Founder are really not helpful for me...

If exactly the same standards applied in my own case it would result in a completely distorted view of my own Aikido. I started Aikido in the Spring of 1976. I trained at the DC dojo 6-7 days a week until I moved to Seattle to work for Eddie Bauer. When Saotome Sensei found out I was moving, he told me to train with Mary Heiny Sensei which I did. Bruce Bookman Sensei returned from training with Chiba Sensei in Japan at this same time. I paid dues at the dojos of both of these teachers and trained with both of them. I took over the Seattle School of Aikido as Chief Instructor when Mary Heiny Sensei left for Canada in 1986.

I am using this as an example... I could easily see some historian of Aikido in the future looking at my training history and concluding that, since I was only at the DC dojo for 5 years, and then was with Mary Heiny Sensei and Bruce Bookman Sensei from 1981 to 1986, well, that must mean they had an equal amount of influence on my Aikido. Of course, these events are not so far in the past that people don't have direct experience of each of our Aikido to form their judgments about this. No one who knows anything about any of these teachers would mistake my Aikido for that of Mary Heiny Sensei or Bruce Bookman Sensei. Anyone who knows anything about anything could see at a glance that I am a student of Saotome Sensei.

I have spent just about my entire adult life trying to understand Saotome Sensei's Aikido. While there are certainly other teachers whose Aikido is equally marvelous, I have never been on the mat with or seen anyone who is better. It hasn't mattered who I have trained with over the years... Ellis Amdur in koryu, Chris Petrilli in escrima, Mary Heiny, Tom Read, Bruce Bookman in Aikido, Howard Popkin in Daito Ryu, Don Angier, Dan Harden, etc. etc. My entire focus in this endeavor was to understand my teacher's Aikido and maintain the connection in some quality manner with the Aikido of the Founder through him.

People miss the point when they talk about mere "face time" as some silly determinant of closeness or distance from the Founder's Aikido. There were deshi for whom O-Sensei was the central figure in their lives and there were deshi for whom being a deshi was a job at a time when jobs were scarce in Japan. There were students who slept through the Founder's lectures and there were students who tried their level best to understand them.

The thing to remember about the "golden Age" of Hombu Dojo in the post war period was that O-Sensei's influence was still dominant in the sense that the mission for each student was to find his own Aikido. O-Sensei never developed any methodology for passing on form.. he taught principle. Saito Sensei in Iwama was really the last deshi to be taught anything that resembled "form" because O-Sensei was putting the finishing touches on what would become post war Aikido. But the folks at Hombu simply did not have that kind of training. Yamaguchi didn't look like Kisshomaru, Imaizumi didn't look like Chiba. Osawa's Aikido was completely distinct. To a certain extent, Tohei's Aikido started to create a a certain stylistic stream... If you look at the teachers who left with him, they share any number of traits. But Kisshomaru simply did not exert the same type of technical influence. Saotome Sensei considered Kisshomaru Ueshiba to be one of his teachers. He has always been hugely respectful of the man on a personal basis. But Saotome Sensei's Aikido had little in common with Kisshomaru's. I have a picture on my wall of Saotome Sensei sitting next to Chiba Sensei in class with the Founder, probably somewhere around 1966 or '67. The Nidai Doshu is sitting on the side observing as well. So, here we have three students of the Founder, all training simultaneously and not much of anything in common with each other.

So, my point here is that its the focus of your training, your innate talents, your dedication and hard work, and your disposition that is what determines how your Aikido ends up, not some years with a given teacher or hours of one over the other. O-Sensei was a hugely powerful personality. People changed their lives after simply seeing him (Mary Heiny being one that comes to mind). When people who don't know any better say things about "just drawing his bath" they show they don't really understand how O-sensei functioned. EVERY single thing he did with the deshi was about training. Saotome Sensei learned lessons that have stayed with him his whole life drawing O-Sensei's bath or grinding the ink for his calligraphy. These lesson have absolutely nothing to do with quantity of face time, its a transmission on an entirely different level.

Sure, there are folks who lay claim to being uchi deshi whose only interest in doing so is to give some legitimacy to their very low level Aikido. It doesn't work because anyone who knows can simply see how wretched their Aikido is... the Founder would have cried...

But there any number of post war deshi, and I have direct experience with Saotome Sensei and Chiba Sensei, for whom the Founder was the central figure in their lives and their training. The idea that they were more the students of other teachers because they had more time on the mat with them simply misses the point entirely. It's exactly the same as saying that Marty Heiny must have been just as much of an influence on my Aikido as Saotome Sensei because I spent about the same amount of time with each of them in terms of dojo membership. Anyone knowing all of us would laugh at that. Yet people consistently refer to historical information, dates and time, "face time" etc and draw conclusions that simply don't actually follow because there are other, more important factors at play.

In some ways, the "memory drift" one sees with many of the deshi is a direct result of the centrality of the Founder's influence over their lives and their training. Over time other, less "important" details get pushed out of their minds as they develop a sense of the narrative their lives have taken. It has nothing to do with intellectual dishonesty nor, in most cases, is it a matter of trying to inflate their reputations (certain notable exceptions) by inflating the story of the relationship with the Founder. It is a natural function of how memory works and the fact that these various teachers are getting older, seeing their compatriots start passing away, and feeling their mortality. They start looking for an over view of their lives, that narrative, that justifies the sacrifices, makes it all seem worth while, and makes sense to them. When this happens, things like memory of precise historical detail can go right out the window in favor of a narrative that seems to explain ones life. This is just how the mind works.. we all do it.

So, I think that, while the history of Aikido is important for any serious practitioner and something any teacher of the art should be fully conversant in, one also needs to be very careful about drawing conclusions from facts while one has little direct experience of the actual people involved. Certainly, I think it is a mistake, and fairly uncharitable, to assume that when the facts of some teacher's personal narrative don't square with the publicly available historical data, that its some sort of purposeful deception or attempt to inflate oneself in the minds of others. I simply do not believe that is what is really going on...

Janet Rosen
12-02-2011, 12:13 PM
Thank you for a lovely, cogent and insightful post, George - from someone who has no horse in this race whatsoever.

raul rodrigo
12-02-2011, 12:27 PM
In Shobukan News, Oct 2000, Saotome: "I studied with O sensei altogether 20 years." Perhaps it was a bad transcription by an overzealous student. Perhaps it was memory drift. Perhaps it is bad manners to draw attention to it at all.

DH
12-02-2011, 12:49 PM
I certainly agree with what Ledyard Sensei has said here. But engaging in this discussion let's the people who started it off the hook. Their claim is not that Saotome Sensei, or his publisher, may have gotten the dates wrong on occasion. Their claims are that Saotome Sensei did not learn the real Aiki of Aikido from O Sensei, because their claim is that no one did, and that O Sensei retired in 1941. What is at issue here are not dates but all the detailed accounts that Saotome Sensei, and other direct students, have given about their time with O Sensei, the fact that O Sensei believed he had improved Aikido after the war, and the fact that he was happy with their understanding of Aiki and Aikido. Read the posts. This is their real agenda.
You don't know when to let up do you? I am sick and tired of you misscharacterizing what was actually being said.
You remove all qualifiers and nuance and then re-state things far beyond their initial intent until you are in effect putting words in our mouths. This is not communication.
Many here continue to correct this behavior in you.

As being a representative for someone...it is you sir who should seriously consider what you are saying, who you are saying it for (do you think Saotome likes what you are doing here?) and who you are saying it to.
Just this morning in my in box I was again reminded of my own refrain; "The best information in budo is done in private." It saves a world of embarrassment to many parties.

You....are not doing too well, among the very organization you are trying "to defend." I for one, tried to tell you that on several occasions...to a deaf ear.
For the record, I have not agreed with a single position you stated I hold, and several times I actually think exactly the opposite of what you claim I said.
Good bye
Dan

DH
12-02-2011, 12:54 PM
In Shobukan News, Oct 2000, Saotome: "I studied with O sensei altogether 20 years." Perhaps it was a bad transcription by an overzealous student. Perhaps it was memory drift. Perhaps it is bad manners to draw attention to it at all.
No, it really isn't. These things need be said. But all the drama need not be added to it. Context is everything. With all the the B.S. that has been slung, by the Japanese Shihans about the training and History I stand firm that there is a common good in hearing confirmed dates, and who's who. That many things stand in stark contrast to what had been previously said, is on them and not us. No one put a gun to their heads when they started to re-write the history of aikido. Nor when they discussed their own involvement. Lapses in memory, and flat out lies are totally different, seen as different and discussed as BEING different.

It is interesting to note that when Stan made it known that he was looking at signatures and sign-in sheets and dated mokurokus and that this was being photographed and documented...and that so and so, said such and such...cough...a factual and more detailed chronology magically appeared. That should speak volumes about the capabilites for fact and truth that Japanese Shihan's were capable of delivering.....on a dime.


That said, some stories were innocent, others a white wash, others self serving, others right and varied. It can be a judgement call where nuance and relationship and cultural understanding and context play out. Chris and others understand that VERY well, more than most, and I found most of the commentary here was balanced and observational
Dan

raul rodrigo
12-02-2011, 12:57 PM
I was being ironic.

Marc Abrams
12-02-2011, 01:01 PM
I certainly agree with what Ledyard Sensei has said here. But engaging in this discussion let's the people who started it off the hook. Their claim is not that Saotome Sensei, or his publisher, may have gotten the dates wrong on occasion. Their claims are that Saotome Sensei did not learn the real Aiki of Aikido from O Sensei, because their claim is that no one did, and that O Sensei retired in 1941. What is at issue here are not dates but all the detailed accounts that Saotome Sensei, and other direct students, have given about their time with O Sensei, the fact that O Sensei believed he had improved Aikido after the war, and the fact that he was happy with their understanding of Aiki and Aikido. Read the posts. This is their real agenda.

Ken:

You have a lot of chutzpah to "agree" with George, particularly, since he is one of the people who you DIRECTLY challenged in terms of his integrity as a man of budo. How do you think that George perceives you and your efforts?

What is equally depth defying is your continued distortions of what people are actually saying in this and in other threads in order to justify your idiosyncratic perceptions of things.

People have reached out to you publicly and privately encouraging you to step back and stop posting. You have publicly questioned the integrity of people so far over your "pay grade" that if defies any logical explanation. You are doing yourself a big disservice by not taking the advice that people are offering you. Stop while you are way behind. Some holes do not have ways out.... This is a public service announcement solely for the purpose of hoping that you stop this self-destructive process that you seem to be engaged in.

Marc Abrams

DH
12-02-2011, 01:18 PM
Ken McGrew writes:
I note that the ASU members who so often defend the coalition around internal training and the historical revisionism, who host seminars for this coalition, who attack me or allow others to attack me, are silent as our teacher is accused of dishonesty. Part of Budo is loyalty. Budo men indeed.
With that, you sir.... just finished putting Bill Gleason, George Ledyard, Josh Drachman, And oh about 6 other 5th dans under Saotome all on the hook And publicly admonitioned them to boot!
Personally, I have rarely seen such poor behavior by a representative of an art....well..wait I can think of one other guy who did here.

But engaging in this discussion let's the people who started it off the hook. Their claim is not that Saotome Sensei, or his publisher, may have gotten the dates wrong on occasion. Their claims are that Saotome Sensei did not learn the real Aiki of Aikido from O Sensei, because their claim is that no one did, and that O Sensei retired in 1941.
This is not our claim, and never was. It is your own warped and twisted dialogue exagerating a view none of us hold. I have refuted it loooong before you showed up, and I will continue to do so in public and in private. We differentiated between Ueshiba's aikido and even named some of those who pursued it...from Kisshomaru's. Learn to read.
Notice I am still not attacking you... I am discussing your lack of cogency and coherency in debate. I think it is intentional. You have not even one time given a backdrop or tried to broaden a view. George laid things out well and put many issues to rest while in essence not dissagreeing with Stan, Ellis, Peter, Chris, Raul, Marc, Brad, Demetrio or myself (gees did miss anyone?).
This was a good lesson for you if you will review.
Dan

DH
12-02-2011, 01:20 PM
George
That was excellent and well said, as usuall!!
All the best
Dan

George S. Ledyard
12-02-2011, 01:31 PM
Their claims are that Saotome Sensei did not learn the real Aiki of Aikido from O Sensei, because their claim is that no one did, and that O Sensei retired in 1941. What is at issue here are not dates but all the detailed accounts that Saotome Sensei, and other direct students, have given about their time with O Sensei, the fact that O Sensei believed he had improved Aikido after the war, and the fact that he was happy with their understanding of Aiki and Aikido. Read the posts. This is their real agenda.

Ken, I am on record in any number of posts over the years that I disagree with the conclusions that folks take from the presented facts. But it was Saotome Sensei himself that stated that he could remember three times in his fifteen years with O-Sensei that the Founder actually talked about how to do technique". So by any measure we would use here in the West, he wasn't teaching technique but demonstrating principle. The breadth of variation on the parts of the deshi as to what they understood of this is staggering. I am sorry but I can see no evidence of anything coherent that one could call post war Aikido from a stylistic standpoint. You go fro Arikawa to Tohei, from Yamaguchi to Isoyama, a Chiba and a Saotome. It's difficult to see anything one could claim was a style of Aikido and certainly nothing that looked much like what the Founder was doing.

It's clear that Saotome Sensei figured some of this out. In my opinion the man is a genius. Even before I lost my weight, at 338 pounds, I could go straight at him and he could drop me in my butt with a shrug of the shoulders. Now that i understand more of what is happening with internal structure tec, I can see that Sensei worked a lot of this out. But the idea that he was taught his by O-Sensei is not born out by sensei;'s own statements that O-Sensei never explained much of anything. Some deshi worked it out, others didn't. One merely has to go on YouTube and look at videos to see this fact.

The truly important fact in all this is that Sensei didn't know how to teach these skills any more than the Founder did. He has shown us over and over and expressed his frustrations with everyone's inability to "get it". So, for most of us, we have needed help to understand it. Maybe if we were geniuses like Saotome Sensei, we wouldn't have needed to, but I sure needed help. Ikeda Sensei himself said "Sensei has been showing us all this stuff for years but we were simply too stupid to get it." And I am the first one to acknowledge where I got that help and encourage folks to get help themselves. It shortens the learning curve by decades. If folks were going to "get it" simply by training hard for years and years one would expect to see a lot of great Aikido. This is certainly not evident. So, I think most folks would do well to work with some folks who can really "teach" so that they can in turn really benefit from what someone like Saotome Sensei is showing. As far as I am concerned this si what it is all about... training myself up to the point at which my teacher can teach what he is trying to teach and I am ready to understand it and not be wasting his quite limited time. To do that, i'll train with anyone who can help me who isn't abusive or immoral. I do not have to agree with their conclusions as long as they have the demonstrated ability to teach me what i need to know. I am the Aikido teacher, they are not. It's my business what i do with what they have taught me. To their credit these various teachers have offered their instruction with no strings attached, just their respect and friendship. That's real Budo as far as I am concerned.

kewms
12-02-2011, 01:54 PM
The truly important fact in all this is that Sensei didn't know how to teach these skills any more than the Founder did. He has shown us over and over and expressed his frustrations with everyone's inability to "get it". So, for most of us, we have needed help to understand it. Maybe if we were geniuses like Saotome Sensei, we wouldn't have needed to, but I sure needed help. Ikeda Sensei himself said "Sensei has been showing us all this stuff for years but we were simply too stupid to get it." And I am the first one to acknowledge where I got that help and encourage folks to get help themselves. It shortens the learning curve by decades. If folks were going to "get it" simply by training hard for years and years one would expect to see a lot of great Aikido. This is certainly not evident. So, I think most folks would do well to work with some folks who can really "teach" so that they can in turn really benefit from what someone like Saotome Sensei is showing.

Quoted for truth.

What's more important? Actually getting good at aikido, or arguing about the "purity" of one's lineage?

Katherine

TOMAC
12-02-2011, 02:17 PM
Memory is a very funny thing. I began my Aikido training in Sarasota Fla. with Saotome Sensei in Feb. of 1977. I am sure of this (though I won't go into how). For the first week, or so, classes were taught by John Messores and Patti Saotome (nee Taft) as Saotome Sensei was at Oberlin for part of their winter term. I remember clearly the first time I saw Saotome Sensei but not the date. During these years I and my girlfriend (now wife) trained daily with Saotome Sensei. That's my story as I remember it but it's not entirely true. I couldn't train every single day. I was a working musician who held a day job and played gigs in the evening. Still, my experience was the privilege of training with Saotome Sensei and calling him my Sensei. During those years Ikeda Sensei came to the dojo to study with Saotome Sensei. When Saotome moved from Sarasota to Washington D.C. Ikeda Sensei became the head instructor at Sarasota Aikikai. I don't remember the exact date. I therfore consider both Saotome Sensei and Ikeda Sensei to be my sensei. Sensei's move to D.C. was preceded by quite a few extended "trips" to the area. This is how it goes. My point here is that like Ledyard Sensei I am privileged to have engaged in the process of learning the little Aikido that I know from these extraordinary people. I am extremely fortunate to have been where I was when I was. I'm sure it is that way for Saotome Sensei also and his relation to O'sensei.

For those of us with 30 plus years of training we tend to take things like our Sensei's linage seriously. For someone to, even with the best of intentions, appear to cast a cloud over something that is very near and dear to us (30 years is a long time to dedicate to an art or teacher) may cause a bad taste. For some this isn't a problem but for others it is. I've seen this discussion get quite ugly. If we are truly dedicated to the principles of Aikido maybe we should agree to disagree, brush off our wounded egos and move on. If we, in the Aikido community, can't get along with each other how can the philosophy of Aiki be respected outside of our small circle. O'sensei provided us with "a way to reconcile the world." Shouldn't we accept the responsibility of living our lives peacefully instead of "calling each other out."

We are losing fine teachers and aikidoka every year. I believe it behooves us to take advantage of the opportunity to learn from those who actually knew and trained with the founder of our art instead of picking petty quarrels with each other.

Cliff Judge
12-02-2011, 02:24 PM
I was being ironic.

About it being bad manners to bring up Saotome Sensei's Training History in public?

Do you say this because you don't think anyone is or would be offended by this thread? Or do you not believe it is bad manners to offend people? Or something else?

DH
12-02-2011, 02:41 PM
About it being bad manners to bring up Saotome Sensei's Training History in public?
Do you say this because you don't think anyone is or would be offended by this thread? Or do you not believe it is bad manners to offend people? Or something else?
Interesting.
Is discussing the veracity of what someone publicly puts out offensive?
If so, why?
Who's training history is or is not off limits and not allowed to be questioned?
I know they tried to pull Stans rank for his publishing the truth about O Sensei and Daito ryu.
Does everyone get equal treatment?
If not, why not?
Dan

Jim Sorrentino
12-02-2011, 03:15 PM
Yet, Saotome does not appear on the official list of Shihan who can award shihan to his students....and have it recognozed.....by Doshu.

[Sigh again]

What list is that? Would you please provide us with a copy or a link? The closest thing I can find is the Aikikai's International Regulations at http://www.aikikai.or.jp/eng/regulation/international.htm. Article 16: Shihan states:

1. The Hombu examines and appoints Shihan from among persons who are 6th dan or above, and who are proficient in practice and instructing.

2. To the appointed person, a Certificate of Appointment is awarded by the Hombu.

This suggests that only Dosshu/Hombu may award the shihan license.

Jim

akiy
12-02-2011, 04:23 PM
Hi folks,

Let's keep the thread away from personal attacks and stay on-topic.

Thank you,

-- Jun

Cliff Judge
12-02-2011, 04:46 PM
Hi folks,

Let's keep the thread away from personal attacks and stay on-topic.

Thank you,

-- Jun

Jun,

I feel that the topic is a personal attack.

Thanks for your consideration,
Cliff

raul rodrigo
12-02-2011, 06:33 PM
About it being bad manners to bring up Saotome Sensei's Training History in public?

Do you say this because you don't think anyone is or would be offended by this thread? Or do you not believe it is bad manners to offend people? Or something else?

I don't believe it is bad manners to point out a factual discrepancy in public statements made by Saotome and ASU about his training history. The discrepancy is real. I have made no aspersions regarding the sensei's character or skill in aikido. Neither has Chris Li. If some people are offended by having that discrepancy pointed out, then that's unfortunate. But blaming the messenger will not make the discrepancy vanish.

In the end, it's a minor thing. And Saotome sensei has prestige and "face" to spare. So perhaps it is best to move on.

MM
12-02-2011, 06:44 PM
Most of us grew up reading the stories, hearing the tales, and being filled with wonder in regards to Morihei Ueshiba. Some of us had the privilege of training directly with him. Some trained with direct students.

Some 40 years later, there have been none who have equalled Ueshiba. Who even has equalled some of the pre-war students like Shirata, Tomiki, Shioda, etc?

So, what then, does finding out when and where Aikido teachers have trained get us? What has 40 years of aikido training beyond the founder given us? For how many of those years were we told that the aikido of the founder was an amalgam of different martial arts? We were given codified techniques and shown films of the founder doing them. Stan's research into when and where gave us the truth about where the founder actually studied (Daito ryu). It wasn't an amalgam of martial arts. Stan's research gave us many instances of Ueshiba viewing his art as formless, not focused on techniques, and divinely inspired. All of that brought us face to face with Daito ryu aiki. 40 years later and we now have a training path towards not only equalling Ueshiba's skills, but possibly surpassing them.

Why? Because people dug into the when and where. People found out the truth. Culturally, the Japanese are ambiguous. At least in America, it's hard to understand just how far the Japanese can go and still be socially correct. Sometimes lying is the only approved action. We, as Americans, must understand this and not pass judgement for right or wrong. The Japanese have their ways, we have ours. Sometimes they are similar, sometimes not. No right or wrong, good or bad. What matters to us is to find out *how* to do what Ueshiba did.

So, yes, we are here now viewing Saotome sensei's history. Why? Not because we wish to drag him through the mud. Totally the opposite. We uphold him in such high esteem that we want to know how he got so good. Where did he study? How long? What was his training like? Because after 36 years of Saotome being in the U.S., we are still wondering how to get to his level, let alone Ueshiba's.

We can choose to either eat more rice (i.e. eagerly eat up and believe all the stories we are told) or we can delve into when and where that made these men so great in the hopes of finding a similar training path for ourselves. I think 36 years of the former is far too long and we should have been doing the latter long ago.

This isn't to diminish, in any way, the commitment and hard work of Saotome in his years of training. He is a direct link to Morihei Ueshiba, no matter how many hours of direct training he received. On the flip side, we also must realize, he is only one small piece of the totality of Ueshiba. Other students received other parts of the transmission. Those are extremely important parts of the whole that is aikido. Not the entirety, but still important.

Going back to the topic. It is interesting to note how many of the top aikido shihan came from Seigo Yamaguchi: Saotome, Endo, Gleason, Tissier. Or the fact that in Yamaguchi's private dojo, the floor was wooden. (http://www.yamaguchi-aikido.com/html/sei/seigo-e.html)

If you truly want to be as good as Saotome, Ueshiba, etc, then it is required to delve into what made them great. Culturally, the Japanese can be ambiguous. It can be a minefield for research and can go against a lot of closely held and loved beliefs. It can be a very fine line to walk, but some should be doing this. And yes, they will take the heat as this thread has shown.

Aikido is an art that is larger than all of us. It has a depth to it far greater than most, from Ueshiba's aiki to Kisshomaru's aiki and everywhere in between. We really should be mining those depths, walking those fine lines, and carrying on the legacy of our teachers. We should understand the where and when and how of things so that there *can* be future Saotome's, Ueshiba's, etc.

Peter Goldsbury
12-02-2011, 06:57 PM
Hello Cliff,

Like Janet, I have no horse in this race. I have met Saotome Shihan only once, at the funeral of Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and we spoke for a few minutes.

However, I do not believe that to discuss the training history of an eminent shihan is ipso facto a personal attack. It is the way it is done that matters. After all, it is very important for aikido in general that the training history of Morihei Ueshiba, and also of his son Kisshomaru, is as clear as possible.

Like George, I spent some years training at the hands of teachers who stated that they were uchi-deshi of the Founder. However, I moved to Japan and have spent many more years training at the hands of other teachers, who also claimed to be uchi-deshi of the Founder--and yet others who made no such claims, but what they stated was quite different. Such that when I had a chance to ask Kisshomaru Ueshiba about the matter, I did so. I was sufficiently surprised by his answer to discuss the matter later with yet another teacher, S Arikawa, who confirmed what Kisshomaru had stated, but also added that Kisshomaru understood the term uchi-deshi in a rather more exclusive sense than it has been given nowadays, especially in aikido.

To my mind, Kisshomaru's insistance that the Founder had no postwar uchi-deshi and that he himself had no uchi-deshi, was never intended as a slight to postwar students like Saotome Shihan. It was a mark of respect to his own father, in whose footsteps he had to follow as Doshu. Kisshomaru did his utmost not to create a parallel training organization that would have the effect of competing with Morihei Ueshiba's. So it is quite true that the postwar students did indeed believe--and correctly so--that they were students primarily of Morihei Ueshiba. This is true even though M Ueshiba spent much of his time traveling round Japan. It is very clear from his biography that Kisshomaru believed that the training regime in Tokyo had the full support of Morihei Ueshiba. He looked after students like Messrs Saotome, Chiba and Kanai, who trained in Tokyo, at the hands of K Osawa, S Yamaguchi and H Tada--and Kisshomaru himself, when they were not accompanying Morihei U on his travels, or who took ukemi for Morihei U when he taught in Tokyo.

Now some people might regard hands-on training with M Ueshiba in the prewar Kobukan and hands-on training with M Ueshiba in Iwama and Tokyo as essentially the same: what differences there were, were primarily differences of degree. Even in the Kobukan years, Ueshiba was traveling and so training in his absence would be led by the uchi-deshi. For Kisshomaru, on the other hand, the prewar uchi-deshi relationship was different in quality, with the main focus squarely on Morihei Ueshiba himself.

Best wishes,

P Goldsbury

DH
12-04-2011, 08:18 AM
I found it very interesting that I was singled out and gone after here when:
1. I didn't start the thread
2. I was the one who started to talk about context and how it was an accepted practice to exaggerate.
I think it serves to highlight pent up anger by many here and the apparent acceptance of their behavior.

Oh well.
Interestingly enough then- since we want to play that way- why is no one outraged that Saotome's impossible time frames, then lead to dozens of other shihans being flat out lairs about Ueshiba's where abouts.
Isn't anyone "offended" on these other famous teachers behalf? No takers? Anyone?
It is virtually impossible for both stories to be true.
Dan

George S. Ledyard
12-04-2011, 10:31 AM
I found it very interesting that I was singled out and gone after here when:
1. I didn't start the thread
2. I was the one who started to talk about context and how it was an accepted practice to exaggerate.
I think it serves to highlight pent up anger by many here and the apparent acceptance of their behavior.

Oh well.
Interestingly enough then- since we want to play that way- why is no one outraged that Saotome's impossible time frames, then lead to dozens of other shihans being flat out lairs about Ueshiba's where abouts.
Isn't anyone "offended" on these other famous teachers behalf? No takers? Anyone?
It is virtually impossible for both stories to be true.
Dan

Dan,
Don't even bother going there... It's not worth it. The reason is fairly obvious I think. This isn't an historical exercise for most of us... this is the larger community of Aikido practitioners we are talking about. It's one thing to be talking about teachers who have passed on and quite another to get into discussions about teachers with whom we are actively associated or with whom we train regularly. I make it a rule not to get into pissing matches about specific teachers. This forum is world wide and is supposed to provide a chance to exchange ideas about the different ways we all understand and do our Aikido. This is not E-Budo where there were whole threads devoted to people bad mouthing the various teachers they disliked. You don't have any stake in this in terms of on-going relationships that need to be maintained. All your friends know you are a crusty curmudgeon and we also know what a generous teacher and funny guy you are. So we put up with you.. just like friends always put up with each others quirks. But discussions of senior teachers on-line is another thing. These people are not our "friends", they are our teachers, they are our friend's teachers, they ar the people we have to share our Aikido community with.

This is precisely why there was a ton of information about Aikido history that Arikawa had, which he would discuss only with very close associates such as Stan Pranin or Peter Goldsbury, which he never published. It's why Stan has tons of stuff he has never released. When the players have all passed from the scene, then we may see this stuff. But not while everyone is still actively interacting. You get on-line and start actively dissing a particular teacher, you make it VERY difficult for that teacher's students to interact with you. No good comes from these discussions.

I am all for discussions of the history. We can put out all the factual information we want. We do not need at all to get into how any particular teacher's version of those events squares or doesn't square with the documented narrative. Folks can educate themselves and decide what they think for themselves. It is absolutely not a good thing to start getting into calling teachers "liars" or impugning their motivations on-line. In private is one thing but publicly no good at all can come from such discussions. As the English would say it's just not "good form". I would ask you to be cognizant of the fact that such discussions could make it difficult for many of us to do what we are currently doing. You are smart enough to understand that. It may not matter to you but it matters to some of the rest of us.

These things are predictable on the forums. Folks join in whose communication style irritates the existing group for a while, some folks more than others. Folks either figure out how to get along or they end up going away at Jun's request. When the new person shows up and can't figure it out... it does no good whatever to allow yourself to get drawn into it. Just don't go there. I understand that a number of folks, some of my best friends even, are "warrior" types who never back down from a fight. But it simply isn't productive. This is an Aikido site after all... we are supposed to be working towards world peace, at least right up until the moment someone insists that the only form of conflict resolution left open to us is the total "removal" of one of the antagonists.

I really like Ellis's solution which is, as soon as someone is deemed to be a waste of time, he gets "ignored". It's all very Zen, really. If a problem exists but no one can see it, is it still a problem? I recommend this to all... I use it whenever I find that being on Aikiweb starts raising my blood pressure rather than being enjoyable.

Don't let yourself get drawn into this... no good comes from such discussions.

- George

Keith Larman
12-04-2011, 10:56 AM
Gotta say the ignore feature is your friend. I've used it a few times recently and I find my dander problem now much more manageable. I have a personal rule -- I'll try a few times to bring someone around if I think they're off track. If it becomes apparent that the person on the other end isn't coming around there are really only a few possibilities. One is that I am simply incapable of communicating with that person (fault of mine, fault of theirs, or some combination). Therefore there is no reason to continue. Another possibility is that the other person simply isn't willing to evaluate what you're saying in any sort of intellectually honest fashion. This can be someone who is what my internal narrator will call a "bliss ninny". Or the "it's only real if it works in the flaming octagon of DEATH!" guys. Then there's the folk whose glasses are rather full to begin with and are unable to question even the tiniest of things if it in any ways upset the carefully constructed worldview. The other possibility, of course, is that I'm wrong. So I'll take a little time to consider that as well.

Anyway, for me it goes back to a line by Tom Lehrer. He said "I feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." By ignoring a few key people I find I'm able to take that advice and stay quiet myself knowing it might just be me as well.

George S. Ledyard
12-04-2011, 10:58 AM
Hello Cliff,

Like Janet, I have no horse in this race. I have met Saotome Shihan only once, at the funeral of Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and we spoke for a few minutes.

However, I do not believe that to discuss the training history of an eminent shihan is ipso facto a personal attack. It is the way it is done that matters. After all, it is very important for aikido in general that the training history of Morihei Ueshiba, and also of his son Kisshomaru, is as clear as possible.

Like George, I spent some years training at the hands of teachers who stated that they were uchi-deshi of the Founder. However, I moved to Japan and have spent many more years training at the hands of other teachers, who also claimed to be uchi-deshi of the Founder--and yet others who made no such claims, but what they stated was quite different. Such that when I had a chance to ask Kisshomaru Ueshiba about the matter, I did so. I was sufficiently surprised by his answer to discuss the matter later with yet another teacher, S Arikawa, who confirmed what Kisshomaru had stated, but also added that Kisshomaru understood the term uchi-deshi in a rather more exclusive sense than it has been given nowadays, especially in aikido.

To my mind, Kisshomaru's insistance that the Founder had no postwar uchi-deshi and that he himself had no uchi-deshi, was never intended as a slight to postwar students like Saotome Shihan. It was a mark of respect to his own father, in whose footsteps he had to follow as Doshu. Kisshomaru did his utmost not to create a parallel training organization that would have the effect of competing with Morihei Ueshiba's. So it is quite true that the postwar students did indeed believe--and correctly so--that they were students primarily of Morihei Ueshiba. This is true even though M Ueshiba spent much of his time traveling round Japan. It is very clear from his biography that Kisshomaru believed that the training regime in Tokyo had the full support of Morihei Ueshiba. He looked after students like Messrs Saotome, Chiba and Kanai, who trained in Tokyo, at the hands of K Osawa, S Yamaguchi and H Tada--and Kisshomaru himself, when they were not accompanying Morihei U on his travels, or who took ukemi for Morihei U when he taught in Tokyo.

Now some people might regard hands-on training with M Ueshiba in the prewar Kobukan and hands-on training with M Ueshiba in Iwama and Tokyo as essentially the same: what differences there were, were primarily differences of degree. Even in the Kobukan years, Ueshiba was traveling and so training in his absence would be led by the uchi-deshi. For Kisshomaru, on the other hand, the prewar uchi-deshi relationship was different in quality, with the main focus squarely on Morihei Ueshiba himself.

Best wishes,

P Goldsbury

I think folks have a lot of difficulty with the somewhat fluid nature of communications with the Japanese. Saotome Sensei is on record as having stated that there could never be a real uchi deshi system in the United States. His feeling is that the American temperament is quite different than the Japanese. He feels that any American who would be willing to put his own sense of self identity aside to do what the Japanese deshi routinely did, wouldn't actually be the kind of person a teacher would want to invest in. What he thinks of as an uchi deshi in the normal Japanese context would be a sycophantic, groupie in our context. So he said a "real" uchi deshi system just wouldn't work here.

At the very same time, on any number of occasions, Sensei has introduced me as an uchi deshi. He introduced me to tha Nidai Doshu that way... It was quite clear to everyone that I had never lived with Sensei under the same roof, and was technically what would have been referred to as a "soto deshi". Sensei has several students who did at some point spend time living in the same residence... they could more correctly be considered uchi deshi but none ever functioned in their relationship to Sensei in a way that he would have considered a Japanese style uchi deshi relationship. Yet here he was calling me an "uchi deshi". Since I was quite aware of how Sensei thought about what a real uchi deshi was and was not and I think his listener understood the context as well, it was clear that what Sensei really meant was that I was a close personal student, nothing more than that. Sensei does not seem to have any trouble at all moving fluidly between his belief that there can be no American uchi deshi and then an instant later referring to one of his early students as an uchi deshi. One should never get too invested in these things because the meaning at the time is contextual, not fixed. Probably the best way I can think of to get a lecture about what a real uchi deshi is and is not would be to go around telling everyone I was an uchi deshi of Saotome Sensei. He can call me that when he chooses but it isn't something that would have the same meaning or implication if I started using it. I understand how me has meant it on those occasions when he has done so, when I describe my relationship to him, I use English terms that are less ambiguous.

Chris Li
12-04-2011, 11:08 AM
I am all for discussions of the history. We can put out all the factual information we want. We do not need at all to get into how any particular teacher's version of those events squares or doesn't square with the documented narrative. Folks can educate themselves and decide what they think for themselves.


Of course, it's hard for people to educate themselves if the informations only held in back rooms. I think that it's important to get as much information out in a polite way while these guys are still alive (and most of them aren't anymore), and can respond if they choose to.

And yes, I think the details or particular persons accounts are important, especially as we get further away from people who were actually there. Where would we be today if Stan hadn't dredged up all those details? Note that just about everybody was alive while it was happening.

Personally, I think that the "whispering around the corners" that happens in Aikido sets up an unhealthy dynamic. It's okay to speak about things in private, behind people's backs, but not in public? In my book, if people are putting out information in a public venue then it is OK to question that information in a public venue. Nicely, of course.

Best,

Chris

George S. Ledyard
12-04-2011, 12:09 PM
On the flip side, we also must realize, he is only one small piece of the totality of Ueshiba. Other students received other parts of the transmission. Those are extremely important parts of the whole that is aikido. Not the entirety, but still important.

This is one of the things that folks need to understand... I have never had a conversation with any of the students of the Founder in which they didn't admit that they had only gotten a portion of what he was doing. To a man, they'll freely admit this.

But the quickest way to get one of these teachers riled is to start talking about what they did or did not "get" when the person doing the talking never met or trained with the Founder. I think this normal
human nature and not culturally specific. One see this same thing in business, law enforcement, the military, etc.

Certainly a generalized discussion of the "transmission" is necessary. People who are serious about their Aikido should, I think, be aware of what was and was not in pre-war Aikido and the same for post-war Aikido. What dropped out after the war? Was it intentional? Did it diminish the art or simply change it? Are there things that were practiced or methodologies that dropped out that it might be a good idea to revisit?

I can't see that it is in any way controversial to state that the various deshi couldn't do what the Founder did, since that is what everyone of them admitted himself. But once we agree on that point, there is no function or benefit to taking the discussion to the level of this or that teacher's degree of getting it etc. These were all people who dedicated the entire lives to this art. We are all free to decide which teacher's interpretation of the art fits our own preference. But a lot of the discussion of motivations, abilities, etc is small minded and disrespects the effort and sacrifices these people made to get our art where it is.

It's about the Aikido, not the personalities... To me it is clear that various things were part of the early training under O-Sensei that developed certain skills. It would be nice to re-incorporate those into our own Aikido. On the other hand, it is ENTIRELY wrong to dismiss the direction Aikido took after the war as some deviation fro the Founder's true Aikido. It is clear that Aikido changed over time. It is clear that the Founder changed over time. The Founder was in a position to observe the direction that every single one of his students took. This was not a teacher who was shy about telling his students what was and was not proper. This notion that Aikido got "hijacked" by Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Koichi Tohei with the assistance of Arikawa and Osawa Senseis and taken in a direction that the Founder found objectionable simply doesn't hold water. As Peter Goldsbury stated, the Nidai Doshu clearly felt that he was the custodian of the art for his Father and that he was acting with the Founder's knowledge and under his general direction. I can't imagine that anyone would seriously maintain that if O-Sensei had gone to Kisshomaru and said, this is wrong, don't do this.. that his son wouldn't have instantly changed what he was doing.

I don't think the Founder or any of his students quite knew how to structure Aikido once it was determined that the art should "go public". The entire Aikido paradigm had been private, restricted, by recommendation only, highly exclusive, and elitist. Suddenly, this whole post war notion of democracy etc is changing Japan and Aikido changes to go along with that. It is quite clear that not a single person involved was comfortable with the process. O-Sensei saw that his idea that Aikido change the world required that it go forth but t the same time that idea was hard to square with his notions of how Budo was transmitted. He placed his trust in his son on condition that the son not screw up the art. Does anyone really think that Kisshomaru told himself, "Great, now it's mine, I can do what I want."

The single most devastating thing a father can say to a son is "I am disappointed in you". Sons will kill themselves trying to make their father's proud. What kind of pressure do you think Kisshomaru Ueshiba was under with a father who was one of the great geniuses of modern Japanese martial arts, who created a brand new art, with a brand new vision? I think the Nidai Doshu probably didn't have a moment in his adult life when he wasn't thinking about how his father would view what he was doing. And his father had ample opportunity to comment on what was happening, right up until 1969... That's 24 years of development during which the Founder could express himself about the direction the art was being taken.

Personally, I think that the leaders of the immediate post war Aikikai did their level best to translate O-Sensei's art into something that could survive him. I absolutely believe that they sat down together and considered what the Founder wished, what made sense in the Japan at the time, what the purpose of the art was supposed to be, etc and they gave it the form it took. It has morphed continuously since that time and continues to do so. If some of us feel that things were dropped out of the art during this transformation process, then we can and should put those elements back in. We are not really in any position to understand the whys and wherefores of how that process took place. I strenuously object to the idea that the Aikido that has come down to us is simply some watered down practice for the masses, not the "real" thing.

Yes, there has been a transmission problem. If one looks at the great post war teachers one is forced to ask where are their successors? Lots of time and effort has gone into training in this art but it hasn't shown an ability to replicate itself from generation to generation. But this is a solvable issue. It involves re-inventing the Organization as an entity devoted to the transmission, structured to optimize the process, etc. Perhaps sit requires a smaller group of practitioners training more seriously... Whatever... it's all a matter of proper structure.

At least here in the US, this art is changing again. The exchange of information about different styles and different training that started with the advent of he internet has resulted in a process of cross fertilization on a scale that would have been impossible thirty years ago. What I would like to see is an art that grows because of this process. To do that we need to understand exactly where we are and why we are here. We have to have a real appreciation for our art as it exists. This is something few of the critics from outside our art actually have. Their vision of a future Aikido is often really a de-volution rather than an evolution. Starting from a solid understanding of what the Founder envisioned for his art, we are now in a position to reincorporate elements that may have dropped out but we can see should be reintroduced. We don't need to scrap where we are, we just need to make it better. This is a very real possibility at this moment. I am very optimistic. But it is in our hands to do this, no one else's. It is the folks within the Aikido community itself that have to make his happen. If the vision isn't there, or folks are too tied up in the past to be willing to change, then the folks currently training on what i see as the current "cutting edge" will simply end up in other arts and Aikido will cease to be terribly compelling I think.

Chris Li
12-04-2011, 12:20 PM
The single most devastating thing a father can say to a son is "I am disappointed in you". Sons will kill themselves trying to make their father's proud. What kind of pressure do you think Kisshomaru Ueshiba was under with a father who was one of the great geniuses of modern Japanese martial arts, who created a brand new art, with a brand new vision?

His father complimented him exactly once - upon the completion of the new hombu dojo.

FWIW, I think that Kisshomaru had more "stuff" than he is generally credited with, but that he purposely set up a structure that would not transmit it - at least, in which it would not be transmitted by hombu. Hombu, in this paradigm, is kind of a blank - but it leaves space for people under hombu to do the real work.

In that sense, I think that he was successful, since that's probably the only kind of organization that could realistically survive as an umbrella. On the other hand, I think that it is important to realize that this setup means that the King has no clothes - they have to tailor things themselves.

Best,

Chris

George S. Ledyard
12-04-2011, 01:03 PM
His father complimented him exactly once - upon the completion of the new hombu dojo.

FWIW, I think that Kisshomaru had more "stuff" than he is generally credited with, but that he purposely set up a structure that would not transmit it - at least, in which it would not be transmitted by hombu. Hombu, in this paradigm, is kind of a blank - but it leaves space for people under hombu to do the real work.

In that sense, I think that he was successful, since that's probably the only kind of organization that could realistically survive as an umbrella. On the other hand, I think that it is important to realize that this setup means that the King has no clothes - they have to tailor things themselves.

Best,

Chris

Yes, I think you are correct. The great thing about Hombu back in the day was the tremendous breadth of instruction that was available there. I think the Dojo itself itself was really set up to allow the various deshi to develop their own Aikido. You could have a Yamaguchi or an Arikawa both teaching there at the same time. But the secondary purpose of the dojo was to train instructors for the future expansion of Aikido. I am not sure the wide variety of style and instructional approach at Hombu made the process of training future teachers very easy. In the case of teacher training, I am not sure the "it takes a village" approach is the best one. There evolved a certain homogenized Aikido that lacked the brilliance of any of the individual teachers. Sort of a least common denominator Aikido.

I think this is an avoidable problem for future organizations but I do not see any signs that the current powers that be at hombu see this as a problem so the issue not only doesn't get better, it seems to continue to go the same direction it has been. I think it remains to be seen whether individuals of great initiative and talent will rise above the general level. This is after all a Japanese system in which there's a certain amount of "the nail that sticks up gets pounded down" at work. That's why I am far more hopeful about what is happening outside Japan. There is far more freedom to innovate.

Demetrio Cereijo
12-04-2011, 02:39 PM
Of course, it's hard for people to educate themselves if the informations only held in back rooms. I think that it's important to get as much information out in a polite way while these guys are still alive (and most of them aren't anymore), and can respond if they choose to.

And yes, I think the details or particular persons accounts are important, especially as we get further away from people who were actually there. Where would we be today if Stan hadn't dredged up all those details? Note that just about everybody was alive while it was happening.

Personally, I think that the "whispering around the corners" that happens in Aikido sets up an unhealthy dynamic. It's okay to speak about things in private, behind people's backs, but not in public? In my book, if people are putting out information in a public venue then it is OK to question that information in a public venue. Nicely, of course.

Best,

Chris
Seconded.

kewms
12-04-2011, 02:57 PM
Personally, I think that the "whispering around the corners" that happens in Aikido sets up an unhealthy dynamic. It's okay to speak about things in private, behind people's backs, but not in public? In my book, if people are putting out information in a public venue then it is OK to question that information in a public venue. Nicely, of course.


Well... I think there's a certain amount of hypocrisy in statements like this. How much would you say about your boss in public? Or a close family member? If the Internet Age has taught us anything, it is that comments on the public web have a way of finding their way back to the person concerned, usually in the most embarrassing possible way.

So it's all very well to say that this or that teacher's public statements should be subject to public criticism, quite another to put that teacher's students in a position of having to align themselves (or not) with the critic.

Katherine

raul rodrigo
12-04-2011, 03:45 PM
That teacher's students are under no obligation to align with the critic. It is perfectly understandable if they do not. The discrepancy has been pointed out and nothing more need be said.

Chris Li
12-04-2011, 04:37 PM
Well... I think there's a certain amount of hypocrisy in statements like this. How much would you say about your boss in public? Or a close family member? If the Internet Age has taught us anything, it is that comments on the public web have a way of finding their way back to the person concerned, usually in the most embarrassing possible way.

So it's all very well to say that this or that teacher's public statements should be subject to public criticism, quite another to put that teacher's students in a position of having to align themselves (or not) with the critic.

Katherine

Well, I see your point, but on an issue of historical record there isn't really an issues of sides, is there? If someone says 1982 and the public record says 1994 then they're the one that ought to be embarrassed, not the person pointing it out in a nice way. For me, if they can't deal with that then that's their problem. If someone feels that their relationship with their teacher can't handle that then they'd be better off not speaking up and taking "sides".

Best,

Chris

George S. Ledyard
12-04-2011, 05:00 PM
Of course, it's hard for people to educate themselves if the informations only held in back rooms. I think that it's important to get as much information out in a polite way while these guys are still alive (and most of them aren't anymore), and can respond if they choose to.

And yes, I think the details or particular persons accounts are important, especially as we get further away from people who were actually there. Where would we be today if Stan hadn't dredged up all those details? Note that just about everybody was alive while it was happening.

Personally, I think that the "whispering around the corners" that happens in Aikido sets up an unhealthy dynamic. It's okay to speak about things in private, behind people's backs, but not in public? In my book, if people are putting out information in a public venue then it is OK to question that information in a public venue. Nicely, of course.

Best,

Chris
I don't have an issue with history. History is what it is, although the interpretation of facts varies over time. But Japanese martial arts are all a matter of "relationships" vertical, horizontal, etc. You know as well as I do that the Japanese interpretation of "history" isn't necessarily what our is. In some ways it's more like the Soviet view of history... it serves the interests of the state, facts that don't do that become non-facts. People and organizations have their "stories". You want to go poking holes in those stories, it is within your right to do so. But, don't expect it not to have consequences. Don't expect the folks whose "stories" you de-bunk to be happy about it.

There's a line its better not to cross. You want to discuss the fact that the post war uchi deshi had a variety of "stories" and that these don't necessarily match with the facts, that's just fine with me. But you take a particular teacher and get into his "story" and not only decide to de-bunk it, but questions his veracity or motivations for telling that story, well no... I generally can't go there.

It happens that I am training with a good number of folks. I'd just as soon they all get along... but at the least I'd largely be happy if they were mutually unaware of each other. If one of them starts directly bad mouthing another one of them, my life gets a lot more complicated. I have no desire to be forced into a situation where I had to choose between any of the folks I train with. That could easily happen. To what purpose?

On the horizontal level, it's not such an issue. I have good friends who can barely be in the same room with each other. But neither one is going to stop being my friend because I am also friends with the other. But in our vertical hierarchical relationships that isn't necessarily true. As has been pointed out, loyalty is one of the traits deemed important in teacher / student relationships. You cross a line and call my teacher a liar or outright say that his motivations are unworthy, what are folks like myself supposed to do? You think I can bring someone to my dojo to teach who has called my teacher a liar? The public or private nature of things like this is crucial for the implications. You say something to me in private, I can tell you I think you are wrong, we can debate it, even agree to disagree. But when it goes on the internet, is blasted all over the English speaking world, once said, it can't be taken back.

It's like family... You could say something you didn't like about my wife to me directly and I'd simply tell you whether I thought you were correct or not. But you bad mouth my wife in public or to her face, you are going down. Same in the Aikido world... if you want to have any kind of relationship with me, then you have to be respectful of my other relationships. This isn't "whispering around corners", it's how complex social interactions are maintained.

Why do we have the forums and why do we have private messages? Because some discussions should only take place privately. They can't and shouldn't be held out in public. The folks who don't get this are usually people who burned most of their bridges a long time ago and now don't care. But I don't think most of us are in the position of not caring about the consequences. And there are definitely consequences.I'd just as soon take the path that doesn't close off other paths for me. Not all paths do that.

kewms
12-04-2011, 05:13 PM
Well, I see your point, but on an issue of historical record there isn't really an issues of sides, is there? If someone says 1982 and the public record says 1994 then they're the one that ought to be embarrassed, not the person pointing it out in a nice way. For me, if they can't deal with that then that's their problem. If someone feels that their relationship with their teacher can't handle that then they'd be better off not speaking up and taking "sides".


Except, as these threads demonstrate, it's never just about dates. It's more along the lines of "such and such a teacher had X amount of exposure to O Sensei, which has these implications for what he might have learned." Which very rapidly degenerates into arguments about what "real aikido" entails and who is or isn't doing it. I don't think that's at all helpful.

As much as I'm on record as disagreeing with Mr McGrew, I think his underlying motives are completely understandable, and even laudable: he sees an important figure in his life being attacked, and feels compelled to spring to his defense. He clearly thinks there is an issue of "sides," and knows which one he wants to be on. I don't think putting people in that situation is helpful to the larger goal of raising the overall quality of modern aikido.

Katherine

Demetrio Cereijo
12-04-2011, 05:19 PM
I don't think putting people in that situation is helpful to the larger goal of raising the overall quality of modern aikido.

Katherine

Well, much of the overall quality of modern aikido has its origins and causes in not adressing this kind of issues.

kewms
12-04-2011, 05:30 PM
Well, much of the overall quality of modern aikido has its origins and causes in not adressing this kind of issues.

I disagree. I think it's totally possible to say "X kind of training would improve your aikido" without picking over a hundred years of the history of X training and who did or didn't previously have it. I think it's totally possible to say "modern aikido could be improved" without diving into the political tradeoffs that led to it being the way it is. Especially for those of us who are not Japanese and were not even involved in the art (or, for that matter, born) when some of the key events took place.

Katherine

George S. Ledyard
12-04-2011, 05:30 PM
If someone feels that their relationship with their teacher can't handle that then they'd be better off not speaking up and taking "sides".

Best,

Chris

Chris,
It's not a matter of me taking sides. Or not taking sides. It's very much a matter of the tone of a given discussion. As you said, if point can be made respectfully and politely, the facts on some level can speak for themselves. But leave the "judgements" out of it.

Now this has not happened, so I am being hypothetical, but were one the several people I host at my dojo regularly to post on a public forum that my teacher was a "liar" or directly disparage him by name, do you honestly think I could still be hosting him as if nothing had happened?

There are a number of great folks like Dan who are from outside our community of Aikido practitioners who are generous enough to share what they know with us for little if any return. They take active pleasure in seeing how they can help people be better.

If they want to be able to continue to do that, they need to ease up on their constant public criticism of the art... it drives people away rather than convincing them of anything. I am on record any number of times as saying I don't think that any of these guys understand Aikido. They don't seem to mind that I say so and we are all still buddies. They share with me and I take what I can out of it all. But more people would respond if everything weren't so determinedly negative.

And when you cross into talking about individuals you enter a very dangerous zone. The idea that we should do so while they are alive so that they can respond if they wish is just plain not going to happen. Can you imagine any 8th Dan getting into a give and take about Aikido fact and fiction with anyone publicly much less a non-Aikido person perceived as being disrespectful? Remember what Kensho Furuya's reaction was to the forum? He was so out of here... why folks thought they could talk to him like they talk to their on-line buddies always amazed me.

Well, some of us have important on-going relationships with various teachers. All it would take to seriously queer things up would be for some idiot to send a letter with some quote taken out of context and there'd be hell to pay. I am trying my level best to get doors opened for various people so that the whole community can benefit from their knowledge. But I need and expect a bit of consideration for these efforts in the form of not doing things that make these efforts more difficult or even impossible. There are times when debating certain facts is just indulging, times when nothing positive is there to be gained. Folks do need to understand that.

Demetrio Cereijo
12-04-2011, 05:38 PM
I disagree. I think it's totally possible to say "X kind of training would improve your aikido" without picking over a hundred years of the history of X training and who did or didn't previously have it. I think it's totally possible to say "modern aikido could be improved" without diving into the political tradeoffs that led to it being the way it is. Especially for those of us who are not Japanese and were not even involved in the art (or, for that matter, born) when some of the key events took place.

Katherine

Of course what you say (improving aikido) is possible. But knowing the hows and whys of the current state of aikido can help the next generation (or even the current one) to avoid falling in the same traps for those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.

Chris Li
12-04-2011, 05:45 PM
But you take a particular teacher and get into his "story" and not only decide to de-bunk it, but questions his veracity or motivations for telling that story, well no... I generally can't go there.

I never got into motivations. As for veracity, I said before, I'm fine with the way memory changes, but why not keep the dates correct if we can? Especially since the one in question is a pretty minor difference.

The public or private nature of things like this is crucial for the implications. You say something to me in private, I can tell you I think you are wrong, we can debate it, even agree to disagree. But when it goes on the internet, is blasted all over the English speaking world, once said, it can't be taken back.

The thing is, it's already all over the world. It can't be a situation of whoever gets their version of the "truth" out first has a monopoly because otherwise their feelings get hurt. I think that we should all be big enough to get over that.

It's like family... You could say something you didn't like about my wife to me directly and I'd simply tell you whether I thought you were correct or not. But you bad mouth my wife in public or to her face, you are going down. Same in the Aikido world... if you want to have any kind of relationship with me, then you have to be respectful of my other relationships. This isn't "whispering around corners", it's how complex social interactions are maintained.

I think that there's a big difference when were talking about public figures, or people who are already pushing out information about themselves publicly. If someone is pushing this information out on their own than it ought to expected that this information will be commented upon.

Why do we have the forums and why do we have private messages? Because some discussions should only take place privately. They can't and shouldn't be held out in public. The folks who don't get this are usually people who burned most of their bridges a long time ago and now don't care. But I don't think most of us are in the position of not caring about the consequences. And there are definitely consequences.I'd just as soon take the path that doesn't close off other paths for me. Not all paths do that.

Personally, I'd like to proceed in a nice manner, but honestly. I don't think that, historically, sacrificing personal honesty has served us very well in the Aikido community.

Best,

Chris

kewms
12-04-2011, 05:47 PM
Of course what you say (improving aikido) is possible. But knowing the hows and whys of the current state of aikido can help the next generation (or even the current one) to avoid falling in the same traps for those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.

My experience is that even those who know history are destined to repeat it ... blithely claiming "it's different this time" as they march to their doom.

IIRC, a certain amount of the fragmentation of aikido after Ueshiba Sensei's death can be blamed on several different people being absolutely convinced that only they understood "real aikido." So maybe we're busily repeating that mistake even now.

Nah, can't be. It's different this time.

Or is it?

Katherine

Chris Li
12-04-2011, 05:55 PM
It's not a matter of me taking sides. Or not taking sides. It's very much a matter of the tone of a given discussion. As you said, if point can be made respectfully and politely, the facts on some level can speak for themselves. But leave the "judgements" out of it.

I was just speaking generally when I talked about "sides", not anybody in particular. I really don't understand how there can even be a "side" here, a date is a date, and I haven't spoken at all about motivations.


And when you cross into talking about individuals you enter a very dangerous zone. The idea that we should do so while they are alive so that they can respond if they wish is just plain not going to happen. Can you imagine any 8th Dan getting into a give and take about Aikido fact and fiction with anyone publicly much less a non-Aikido person perceived as being disrespectful? Remember what Kensho Furuya's reaction was to the forum? He was so out of here... why folks thought they could talk to him like they talk to their on-line buddies always amazed me.


It is amazing - but I think it's healthy. It's very difficult to be a teacher in the martial arts because nobody says "no" to you.

Why shouldn't an 8th dan be expected to be able to justify their public statements and opinions as much as anybody else?

Best,

Chris

graham christian
12-04-2011, 07:18 PM
Maybe 'Questioning' is another example of modern Aikido. Maybe it breaks an old Martial tradition, one practiced by Ueshiba.

Never insult or bring into question your teacher. If you disagree then thank him for all he taught you and move on. Thereafter to speak only of what you do now and only respectful comments or at worst silence about the the past teacher.

In my mind it's unhealthy.

Regards.G.

George S. Ledyard
12-04-2011, 09:27 PM
It is amazing - but I think it's healthy. It's very difficult to be a teacher in the martial arts because nobody says "no" to you.

I remember Jack Kornfield, the Vipashana teacher writing that being married is the "reality check" you need as a teacher, everyone oohs and aahs over you and then you go home and your wife tells you to pick up your damned underwear (or something to that effect).

I certainly haven't noticed that the whole thing works that way for the American teachers... maybe early on when there weren't many of them and they were seen as "special". Not any more. It is true that the whole "Sensei" thing can be a big trap... you start with folks treating you a certain way out of respect and at a certain point you start to feel "entitled"... kiss of death.

I do think it is completely unrealistic to think that a bunch of guys who were brought up to think of "sensei" as entailing a certain set of things which were largely cultural, should be expected to make fundamental changes to how they view things when they are in their seventies and eighties. And is it really our job to ask them to change? In some ways I think that is just cultural chauvinism going back their way. It's one thing to call someone to task for abusing students or committing criminal behavior, it's another to break with ones teacher because he called himself an uchi deshi when he was part of the professional training program at hombu, or he intentionally or unintentionally fudges the dates of how long he was with O-Sensei from how long he wanted to be with the Founder from how long he actually was with the Founder.

I am sorry but there's a whole Puritanical / Judgmental streak in America that we see all the time and it creates a lot of needless suffering. I am all for calling anyone to account over issues that are really important but this kind of stuff. Why? This isn't like lying on your job app. The guys telling these stories, which I think they actually believe in some measure didn't get anything from doing this. They didn't get the high paying job. No one decided to train with them over someone else based on a five or six year difference in time with O-Sensei. As I said, it's just the story they are telling themselves. If you know what the facts are already, and they are available for anyone who cares, what's the point of then taking the issue to the point of inflicting hurt or creating conflict. I don't see it.

I mean, it's the same with my own family. My parents find me completely incomprehensible. They are old style Republicans, not crazy right wing but Conservative to the point at which its difficult to have a conversation about much without it turning into a fight. They are in their eighties now. They aren't going to change at this point, they aren't one morning going to decide that my choice to teach Aikido was admirable and made any sense at all. As far as they are concerned, it was self indulgent and I kissed away the best education money could buy. So, it is what it is.

Aikido is on the point at which a new generation of leaders takes over. I think that many of these folks are already experienced enough with the foibles of the previous generation that they'll change certain things. Certainly the whole issue of Japanese culture vs American will be a lot less important when there are no organizations in America headed by Japanese teachers. That day is coming soon...

RonRagusa
12-04-2011, 09:46 PM
Aikido is on the point at which a new generation of leaders takes over. I think that many of these folks are already experienced enough with the foibles of the previous generation that they'll change certain things. Certainly the whole issue of Japanese culture vs American will be a lot less important when there are no organizations in America headed by Japanese teachers. That day is coming soon...

Hi George -

And it remains to be seen if the new leaders are seduced by the mantle of leadership. So long on the doorstep looking through the window and finally gaining entrance. What, I wonder, will the effect on them be when the power and prestige passes to them?

Best,

Ron

George S. Ledyard
12-04-2011, 09:59 PM
Hi George -

And it remains to be seen if the new leaders are seduced by the mantle of leadership. So long on the doorstep looking through the window and finally gaining entrance. What, I wonder, will the effect on them be when the power and prestige passes to them?

Best,

Ron

So far, for the ones who have already stepped up, guys like Greg O'Conner, Clyde Takaguchi, etc it seems to be working pretty well. Like I said, I just don't see that there is that much "power and prestige". It is simply a different time than it was when there were ten Japanese Shihan running all of American Aikido. There tons of us. There will be many small organizations rather than a few large ones. Sure, there will always be a jerk in the mix. But I don't see the role warping people in the future as it perhaps did in the past. People just don't have the same "buy in" any more. I am sure there are times when we wish they did... but it's probably healthier this way.

Joe McParland
12-04-2011, 10:53 PM
Some people benefit from creating or maintaining a mystery. Some people benefit from being the intermediaries, the interlocutors, the dream interpreters, the high priests, the mediums speaking for the dead, the gatekeepers to their teachers and their teachers' teachings, advocates of the new view, etc. These folks use any "technique" to defend, to assert, and to propagate their positions.

As always, it's our willingness to put value in understanding the mystery that gives these folks their power. The assertion of a mystery and an interest in a mystery are not fundamentally different than any other "attack" and connection--the foundation of aikido practice. Amusingly, the verbal techniques and principles are often analogous to physical techniques and principles... Can you spot them?

There are "lineages" and "teachers" that use their teachings so that their advocates free themselves of this this (masakatsu agatsu), and there are those that use them only for self-benefit--whatever the assertion to the contrary (just another technique). One leads to actual harmony; one does not. It's an interesting exercise to evaluate the different legends and personalities here in this light.

If you see this as an attack, well, "Honi soit qui mal y pense" and all that (irimi). Feel free to rail against the obvious common sense publicly like a fool and expose yourself if you like, or maybe jump on board the bandwagon and spend all night crafting a response explaining that that and something more (or something less) is what you meant all along (ryotedori tenchinage, leading). Your responses will be considered based on your tone and your acknowledgement of my superiority (pin).

By the way, have you seen my dog or pony? :p

SeiserL
12-05-2011, 05:27 AM
IMHO, while I enjoy accuracy in lineage and semantic (though they can only be subjectively yet contextually understood), I think more about what can be learned from training with them.

I have learned a lot from Saotome Sensei and several people who studied with him.

Proficiency perhaps is a higher criteria for me.

Are we all willing to have our training history publicly scrutinized?

Is that useful?

Thoughts?

DBrandw
12-05-2011, 06:05 AM
Maybe 'Questioning' is another example of modern Aikido. Maybe it breaks an old Martial tradition, one practiced by Ueshiba.

Never insult or bring into question your teacher. If you disagree then thank him for all he taught you and move on. Thereafter to speak only of what you do now and only respectful comments or at worst silence about the the past teacher.

In my mind it's unhealthy.

Regards.G.

Think you got a point here. Just a thing to remember: "Insult" is kinda cultural/country bounded. What's insulting in the "east" may not be insulting in the "west".

Just my 2 cents, D.

Demetrio Cereijo
12-05-2011, 09:41 AM
Think you got a point here. Just a thing to remember: "Insult" is kinda cultural/country bounded. What's insulting in the "east" may not be insulting in the "west".

Just my 2 cents, D.

As what is not an insult or showing disrespect in the east can be the opposite in the west.

Ken McGrew
12-05-2011, 10:59 AM
The general direction of this discussion went from insulting to Saotome Sensei, to people saying don't insult my teacher, to people saying that the critics are correct in what they claim but shouldn't say so publicly.

I do not accept that the critics are correct. I think it is important that the history not be conceded to these critics.

It's one thing to say that someone got the number of years wrong. I don't think that alone is particularly insulting, it is more to intentionally embarrass someone for a simple error that humans make.

What is insulting is to say that all the direct students of O Sensei had no idea what he was doing and therefore made stuff up. What is insulting is to state or imply that these direct students must be mistaken or dishonest when they recount stories of being taught directly by O Sensei. What is insulting is to state that the direct students of O Sensei had very little experience with him, that Doshu watered down the art intentionally, and all the other things that are frequently repeated.

When teachers tell us what O Sensei told them I am inclined to believe them. When they have a large number of highly detailed stories their stories of their time with O Sensei carry even more weight as being authentic. So the insults that were so directly stated in this discussion thread are frequently implied. I don't find the implied insults any more palatable than those that name names.

There are ways for those who think in yo ho is a lost secret of Aikido to say so without the things that these teachers say they were taught by O Sensei being fabrications. There are two logical conclusions that allow both things to be true: 1) O Sensei deliberately left out this secret or 2) O Sensei failed to teach the secret. Both of these conclusions are only compatible with the narratives that the direct students tell if we accept the things that they say. That is primarily that O Sensei was creating a new art based on non-resistance and harmony. Anything that was left out may be of value but was not the heart of what he was trying to teach. If this basic position that almost every post war student who trained with O Sensei holds is not accepted, then the two positions cannot be reconciled.

So long as there are people who believe that the very heart of Aikido was lost, so long as they refuse to accept the idea that Aikido was a departure from the past with a new focus, it will be necessary for them to undermine the things that the direct students of O Sensei say that he taught them about the practice and meaning of Aikido. The insults will return either directly stated or implied. It would be better to say they have this new thing that may help Aikido rather than claiming to own the lost secret of Aikido. There would be no controversy then and they would even attract more students.

Even if the critics (or visionaries or however they would like to be referred to) were willing to blend in this manner, the problem would remain of whether what they are doing is compatible with the training process of Aikido, as is explored in this thread: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=20554&highlight=putting+aiki+back+aikido

These conflicts will continue, however politely or not, because the collection of claims that are being advanced do contradict what O Sensei wrote, said in interviews, and what his direct students report about their time with him. 50 years from now will these claims be accepted as fact simply because those advocating them posted more, sold more books, and sold more videos?

Chris Knight
12-05-2011, 11:08 AM
i'm so confused :confused:

graham christian
12-05-2011, 11:32 AM
Ken. You must understand that people believe criticism is good. They call it constructive. I could find fault with and criticize a Rolls Royce.

Maybe many could learn from O'Sensei. I don't hear of him going around criticizing others to make himself look good and according to his history he had plenty of opportunity to do so.

Criticism vs. Validation. Now there's a thought. Validation without criticism. Now there's a discipline.

Regards.G.

Ken McGrew
12-05-2011, 11:42 AM
Graham,

The way you try to live non-violence is admirable. I admire pacifists but I am not one. I will not drink the hemlock.

I look at it this way. If I'm attacked on the street I don't want to hurt the attacker and will be merciful if I can. Chances are I will hurt the attacker. The more of a threat the attacker poses the more likely I'll have to hurt him. If I were good enough, an ideal that not even O Sensei could achieve 100% of the time, then I would never need to hurt the attacker. Sometimes criticism is the only (given ones abilities) or quickest way to achieve what's needed. They are criticizing and you are criticizing them for criticizing in a manner you find objectionable.

What is important, is that Aikido survive as an art based on the harmonious notion of Aiki. This is the most important thing. If the average Aikido practitioner is somewhat less effective in a cage match as a consequence of this changed focus, and yet a wider variety and larger number of people are able to train in the art, then I'll call that a bargain. Not that I accept this claim.

All the forest for the trees that goes on in these debates. The problem is that the forest is being depleted. Individual efforts take various forms, chainsaw, ax, fire. It is a beautiful forest that should be preserved. I see this general trend as an existential threat. War is peace, freedom is slavery, love is hate. Definitions matter.

graham christian
12-05-2011, 12:33 PM
Graham,

The way you try to live non-violence is admirable. I admire pacifists but I am not one. I will not drink the hemlock.

I look at it this way. If I'm attacked on the street I don't want to hurt the attacker and will be merciful if I can. Chances are I will hurt the attacker. The more of a threat the attacker poses the more likely I'll have to hurt him. If I were good enough, an ideal that not even O Sensei could achieve 100% of the time, then I would never need to hurt the attacker. Sometimes criticism is the only (given ones abilities) or quickest way to achieve what's needed. They are criticizing and you are criticizing them for criticizing in a manner you find objectionable.

What is important, is that Aikido survive as an art based on the harmonious notion of Aiki. This is the most important thing. If the average Aikido practitioner is somewhat less effective in a cage match as a consequence of this changed focus, and yet a wider variety and larger number of people are able to train in the art, then I'll call that a bargain. Not that I accept this claim.

All the forest for the trees that goes on in these debates. The problem is that the forest is being depleted. Individual efforts take various forms, chainsaw, ax, fire. It is a beautiful forest that should be preserved. I see this general trend as an existential threat. War is peace, freedom is slavery, love is hate. Definitions matter.

Do you believe the forest is being depleted? Well as far as I can see so do they so maybe you are all in agreement.

You see things as a threat? So do they from what I can make out.

As I've said before, paranoia. When things seem to be a bit less than optimum we may all get a bit worried or paranoid but to recognise it in ourselves is the thing for it leads nowhere any good.

What's all this war is peace stuff? War is war. Are you at war?

As far as I'm concerned O'Sensei planted some seeds and those seeds grew into trees like Saotome and in turn he plants some seeds etc. Along comes some outside influence with some fertilizer and if it works those trees will flourish, if it doesn't then the trees of their own free will will change the fertilizer.

Meanwhile more trees grow and all is good.

How would nature be if all trees looked exactly the same? All flowers were the same?

Can we control nature or can we admire it in it's diversity? Within which we can choose which trees or flowers we like best.

He who believes an outside influence can wreck what he considers to be Aikido has no faith either in himself or his teachers.

Regards.G.

inframan
12-05-2011, 02:12 PM
What is insulting is to say that all the direct students of O Sensei had no idea what he was doing and therefore made stuff up. What is insulting is to state or imply that these direct students must be mistaken or dishonest when they recount stories of being taught directly by O Sensei. What is insulting is to state that the direct students of O Sensei had very little experience with him, that Doshu watered down the art intentionally, and all the other things that are frequently repeated.


I don't think that O-Sensei was directly teaching anyone exactly how to do anything. They had to take what the could get and put their own spin on it. Here's a quote from Henry Kono, a guy who studied at Hombu daily for 4 years.

How often did you see O-Sensei?
If he was in the back of the dojo he might come out every day. If he was away, you might not see him for three weeks. If he was there, he might come out for five or ten minutes then go back in. I saw him about 300 times in four years. He never explained what he did, he just did it! This is what I mean by magician. He did it and if you couldn't discern what he did, there was no way to figure it out. He never explained anything but he left hints which were very difficult to discern because of the way he stated his ideas in very short phrases that no one could understand.

I saw a tape of Shioda Sensei being interviewed in England. He was with O-Sensei for ten years from about 1930-40, he said O-Sensei never explained once in that 10 years as to what he was doing!

He wasn't a teacher in the sense that he was teaching. The Japanese may look at that as teaching, but in the western sense it isn't. You had to intuit what he was doing and saying, read between the lines, so to speak.

http://www.martijnvanhemmen.nl/?p=216

Mark Gibbons
12-05-2011, 03:14 PM
Graham,

The way you try to live non-violence is admirable. I admire pacifists but I am not one. I will not drink the hemlock.

I look at it this way. If I'm attacked on the street I don't want to hurt the attacker and will be merciful if I can. Chances are I will hurt the attacker. The more of a threat the attacker poses the more likely I'll have to hurt him. If I were good enough, an ideal that not even O Sensei could achieve 100% of the time, then I would never need to hurt the attacker. Sometimes criticism is the only (given ones abilities) or quickest way to achieve what's needed. They are criticizing and you are criticizing them for criticizing in a manner you find objectionable.

What is important, is that Aikido survive as an art based on the harmonious notion of Aiki. This is the most important thing. If the average Aikido practitioner is somewhat less effective in a cage match as a consequence of this changed focus, and yet a wider variety and larger number of people are able to train in the art, then I'll call that a bargain. Not that I accept this claim.

All the forest for the trees that goes on in these debates. The problem is that the forest is being depleted. Individual efforts take various forms, chainsaw, ax, fire. It is a beautiful forest that should be preserved. I see this general trend as an existential threat. War is peace, freedom is slavery, love is hate. Definitions matter.

Why is the concept expressed by the sentence in bold the most important thing? I'm really not trying to be snarky but I don't see it. In what context is the survival of Aikido the most important thing? In my daily life I can't say it makes the top 10. Could you explain what you mean by aiki? To me it seems like "harmonious notion of Aiki" has odd redundancies and it's hard to tell what you mean.

Regards,
Mark

Gerardo Torres
12-05-2011, 03:24 PM
Why is the concept expressed by the sentence in bold the most important thing? I'm really not trying to be snarky but I don't see it. In what context is the survival of Aikido the most important thing? In my daily life I can't say it makes the top 10. Could you explain what you mean by aiki? To me it seems like "harmonious notion of Aiki" has odd redundancies and it's hard to tell what you mean.

Regards,
Mark
A koryu person would be scandalized at hearing that the survival of your art doesn't make your top 10. :)
FWIW I share the koryu approach and think that the survival/preservation of the art is the most important thing, perhaps even the only important thing. Everything else - including discussions of personalities - is a distraction. I think this is the healthiest approach to practicing aikido or any art.

Ken McGrew
12-05-2011, 04:52 PM
I am merely trying to say that it would be nice if all the insults, stated directly or implied, would stop.

Unfortunately, I don't think they will stop as the claims that some people are invested in are themselves insulting. They depend, for example, on the idea that the direct students of O Sensei made things up (or some other related version of this) when they allegedly weren't actually instructed on what Aikido is supposed to be. I have suggested a way for new things to be added without the need for such implied or stated insults. But it will require compromise from those who are bringing what they take to be a new or rediscovered influence, both in terms of claims and arguments made, as well as in conforming to training norms in Aikido.

The extent to which the existence of the voices who advance these connected claims and beliefs about Aikido even matters is debatable. Maybe it won't matter in the end. Already on Aikiweb as an example it is pretty much impossible to have a discussion based on the mainstream notion of Aiki as non-resistance and harmony. So it already matters there. To the extent that people who are drawn to this other way of training, as described in the post I linked to above, try to infiltrate with an approach that differs from the usual Uke Nage training system, it may be a serious problem for the practice of Aikido. What is Aiki and how should we train in the dojo are central questions that must be asked and answered, if even implicitly, every time someone enters the mat. If we don't agree about these things, are we even training the same art? And if the training process for each approach is different, then we cannot train both approaches at the same time.

graham christian
12-05-2011, 05:12 PM
I am merely trying to say that it would be nice if all the insults, stated directly or implied, would stop.

Unfortunately, I don't think they will stop as the claims that some people are invested in are themselves insulting. They depend, for example, on the idea that the direct students of O Sensei made things up (or some other related version of this) when they allegedly weren't actually instructed on what Aikido is supposed to be. I have suggested a way for new things to be added without the need for such implied or stated insults. But it will require compromise from those who are bringing what they take to be a new or rediscovered influence, both in terms of claims and arguments made, as well as in conforming to training norms in Aikido.

The extent to which the existence of the voices who advance these connected claims and beliefs about Aikido even matters is debatable. Maybe it won't matter in the end. Already on Aikiweb as an example it is pretty much impossible to have a discussion based on the mainstream notion of Aiki as non-resistance and harmony. So it already matters there. To the extent that people who are drawn to this other way of training, as described in the post I linked to above, try to infiltrate with an approach that differs from the usual Uke Nage training system, it may be a serious problem for the practice of Aikido. What is Aiki and how should we train in the dojo are central questions that must be asked and answered, if even implicitly, every time someone enters the mat. If we don't agree about these things, are we even training the same art? And if the training process for each approach is different, then we cannot train both approaches at the same time.

Training approaches and meeting on the mat. I don't see a problem. In Bills dojo you follow his approach, in Jack's you follow his. It's manners and etiquette as much as anything else and thus there is no problem.

Central questions as you put it are only central to your particular way, no one elses. If one style emphasizes competition, another softness from the start, another tough physical exercise, another spiritual, another any depending on the individual teacher, all different styles or approaches in the same art.

The truth is get better or if you can even supreme at your own style and represent. Then you or I or anyone wouldn't have to worry about anyone elses and indeed would expect them to have their own way.

Only then can people meet and compare and learn from each other without the need to put the other way down or prove betterment. It would just be harmonious sharing.

A bit like the first friendship demos were meant to project.

Regards.G.

kewms
12-05-2011, 05:24 PM
As far as I'm concerned O'Sensei planted some seeds and those seeds grew into trees like Saotome and in turn he plants some seeds etc. Along comes some outside influence with some fertilizer and if it works those trees will flourish, if it doesn't then the trees of their own free will will change the fertilizer.

Meanwhile more trees grow and all is good.


I disagree with you on a lot of things, but you pretty much nailed this.

Are sugar maples lessened by the existence of aspens?

Katherine

graham christian
12-05-2011, 05:34 PM
I disagree with you on a lot of things, but you pretty much nailed this.

Are sugar maples lessened by the existence of aspens?

Katherine

Thank you. We all have our moments ha, ha.

Regards.G.

Gary David
12-05-2011, 06:02 PM
Thank you. We all have our moments ha, ha.

Regards.G.

Graham
We have had our moments.....though it seems we are drifting together...........

In any case what we are talking about here is really only our own training history. As noted it should be varied and diverse.....it should be ours only...... in whatever directions it takes. To defend someone else's training history to me can be an effort to defend one's own training history.....get out and see what else is out there...add what is useful and disregard what is not. and remember a tree grows in Brooklyn.....

And Saotome Sensei's capabilities is what matters in the end I don't think there is any questions here. .......darn...the questions I could have ask him and what I might have figured out for myself in 1980 if I only had the understanding and breath of experience I have now.......missed opportunities I am trying to correct now from whatever source I can get it from........

keep after it.....

Gary

Ken McGrew
12-05-2011, 06:48 PM
This discussion thread has grown to be about how to avoid insulting others. I think Graham would argue just don't feel insulted. We can't all be Graham. And I don't believe that deciding not to recognize disagreement makes the disagreement go away. A lasting resolution that prevents future insult, intentional or implied is possible. But when the claims that are made themselves lead to insult then the underlying issue has not been resolved. It will come back as it has for years in new manifestations. Give it a week. Again I say, it would be better to avoid implied or stated insults in the future all together.

Now if the etiquette that Graham describes were followed, then people could do their own thing and it wouldn't matter in a given dojo. Problem is that people sometimes want to bring their new approach into a dojo were it is not wanted by all, as discussed in this thread:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=20554&highlight=putting+aiki+back+aikido

The etiquette is not followed for the same reasons that the insults are implied or stated.

The idea that Aikido can be anything anyone wants it to be is a very generous idea. It is an extreme example of refusing to fight. I don't think that Gary, Katherine, or most Aikido artists would agree with that idea. Moreover, we are not talking about whether people differ over how to approach Aikido on a continuum, some stronger than others, some more spiritual than others. We are at the basic level of whether O Sensei taught Doshu and other students of that Aikido as an art of non-resistance and harmony. An art without some basic agreed upon definition of what it is cannot survive.

But this is all for another discussion unless related to how to avoid causing insult.

graham christian
12-05-2011, 07:15 PM
This discussion thread has grown to be about how to avoid insulting others. I think Graham would argue just don't feel insulted. We can't all be Graham. And I don't believe that deciding not to recognize disagreement makes the disagreement go away. A lasting resolution that prevents future insult, intentional or implied is possible. But when the claims that are made themselves lead to insult then the underlying issue has not been resolved. It will come back as it has for years in new manifestations. Give it a week. Again I say, it would be better to avoid implied or stated insults in the future all together.

Now if the etiquette that Graham describes were followed, then people could do their own thing and it wouldn't matter in a given dojo. Problem is that people sometimes want to bring their new approach into a dojo were it is not wanted by all, as discussed in this thread:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=20554&highlight=putting+aiki+back+aikido

The etiquette is not followed for the same reasons that the insults are implied or stated.

The idea that Aikido can be anything anyone wants it to be is a very generous idea. It is an extreme example of refusing to fight. I don't think that Gary, Katherine, or most Aikido artists would agree with that idea. Moreover, we are not talking about whether people differ over how to approach Aikido on a continuum, some stronger than others, some more spiritual than others. We are at the basic level of whether O Sensei taught Doshu and other students of that Aikido as an art of non-resistance and harmony. An art without some basic agreed upon definition of what it is cannot survive.

But this is all for another discussion unless related to how to avoid causing insult.

Ken. I'm interested. Where is this etiquette not followed? I have heard the rule of leaving all what you know at the door when training in another dojo their way and have heard it said on this forum a number of times.

I believe O'Sensei did the same by what he has said.

I also believe it is the responsibility of the person in charge to see this happens.

Now, add to that that any trying this against that outside of normal training can also be incorporated by giving it it's own space either in another part of the dojo or 'after hours' so to speak. Then it would come under research or some such label. Thus it's all a matter of organization rather than right or wrong or even interruptive.

That's how I see it and do it but I can't speak for how others do.

I have said before I have come across various people doing various forms of internal things to try and thwart the effectiveness of Aikido in practice. Usually I would reprimand such a person not because he was doing it but because he wasn't practicing the prescribed way and was surrupticiously introducing it. I would then do one of two things. Either show the person I can do the technique no matter what they are doing or otherwise tell them that after class they may do this and students may try to do their techniques whilst that person uses their 'other' way.

Once again organization.

I will in no uncertain terms now and again blatantly say 'that's not Aikido' but then the oness is on me to show why and what is. But hey, what's new? The same goes for all arts and sports and businesses etc. ie: 'Here we do it this way.'

Regards.G.

graham christian
12-05-2011, 07:18 PM
Graham
We have had our moments.....though it seems we are drifting together...........

In any case what we are talking about here is really only our own training history. As noted it should be varied and diverse.....it should be ours only...... in whatever directions it takes. To defend someone else's training history to me can be an effort to defend one's own training history.....get out and see what else is out there...add what is useful and disregard what is not. and remember a tree grows in Brooklyn.....

And Saotome Sensei's capabilities is what matters in the end I don't think there is any questions here. .......darn...the questions I could have ask him and what I might have figured out for myself in 1980 if I only had the understanding and breath of experience I have now.......missed opportunities I am trying to correct now from whatever source I can get it from........

keep after it.....

Gary

Drifting together? Ha,ha. Watch out, we'll soon be dancing.....

Regards.G.

DH
12-06-2011, 07:42 AM
I don't think that O-Sensei was directly teaching anyone exactly how to do anything. They had to take what the could get and put their own spin on it. Here's a quote from Henry Kono, a guy who studied at Hombu daily for 4 years.

How often did you see O-Sensei?
If he was in the back of the dojo he might come out every day. If he was away, you might not see him for three weeks. If he was there, he might come out for five or ten minutes then go back in. I saw him about 300 times in four years. He never explained what he did, he just did it! This is what I mean by magician. He did it and if you couldn't discern what he did, there was no way to figure it out. He never explained anything but he left hints which were very difficult to discern because of the way he stated his ideas in very short phrases that no one could understand.

I saw a tape of Shioda Sensei being interviewed in England. He was with O-Sensei for ten years from about 1930-40, he said O-Sensei never explained once in that 10 years as to what he was doing!

He wasn't a teacher in the sense that he was teaching. The Japanese may look at that as teaching, but in the western sense it isn't. You had to intuit what he was doing and saying, read between the lines, so to speak.

http://www.martijnvanhemmen.nl/?p=216
Well those are interesting observations. And if Kono said it, it must be true.
Kono also said that Ueshiba told him that no one can do what he does because they do not understand in yo ho. But McGrew says in yo ho (the corner stone of the asian arts) ...is only a small part of aikido. So this must be right. It has to be true.Modern deshi said so.
And with your other point in the post, if Shioda said it, it all was undeniably true. If other dead teachers say different…it's only because they are right too. As Janet and Ellis and George have pointed out; everything is true.
To take it off of specific teachers and once again place things in context; there are many angles that have been introduced regarding Ueshiba. I think we would do well to heed Ken McGrew's advice to listen to our teachers and no one else. Anything other than that is strictly propaganda. And if it is contrary to what his teacher said then it must be a plot. It must have nefarious motivations behind it it of the worst kind. The only other acceptable explanation is that contrary statements are being put out by simpletons or crude unrefined people who do not understand the complexities of interpersonal relationships, the Asian mind, what they have done and said to so many sincere students (and for us). In his view most of this is put out by people most likely with money grubbing motivations who are only concerned with trying to be somebody themselves (a very compelling argument that would explain how apparently awful these people are) at the detriment of the aikido community and to harm the absolutely stellar examples put forth by its teachers who brought the truth of aikido to so many. During my own 23 years in Aikido and my long history of training with several Shihan back then and fourteen Shihan now, I have seen many Chinese techniques in the art, as well as Koryu weapons seemingly everywhere. I have heard of so many teachers telling these stories, that naturally they all must be true.

I guess we need to rethink everything. The new line of logic would have the following history of Morihei Ueshiba be true..
1. Ueshiba's emphasis on hard style training might just have been after Sokaku's trouble in Okinawa. I think it is most probable that this connection to Tae kwon do and Hapkido was the first major in-road of the Korean arts heavy influence on Takeda down to Ueshiba.
2. Naturally, this probably changed again with his study of Bagua and wushu during his long tenure in China.
3. This would make sense and tie in with Kisshomaru's biography of noting how little Daito ryu actually played a part, and it was a religeous focus all along that birthed a certain some thing or other, that made him able to do something or other to opponents after he reached satori -and this shortly after being given a teaching license in Daito ryu and no one could touch him.
4. The fact that his satori was not to serve, but rather to fight for the next twenty years carries no weight or meaning worthy of consideration. He wanted to contest with those who wanted to contest with him, he showed up at the judo dojo to carry out shaminstic rituals and people who think he was about fighting just have not read all the stories from the many teachers who all disagree but are all completely correct.
5. Aikido Weapons Are Koryu Samurai arts. Why? Because Mr McGrew's standards would say Ueshiba, himself a descendent of the Samurai would have used his many years of training in the Samurai arts to go from soft to hard and after his mastering those arts...his genius -operating free from budo concerns-joined with the will of God to create a transcendant art.
6. According o Mr McGrews new standards, all of these various stories put forth by his son and his deshi are the best source we have for what happened and we should pay close attention to them and avoid the propaganda put out by certain journalist trying to sell magazines and others trying to sell something to the Aikido community apparently only to benefit themselves. All of it is negative and very harmful to the community.

Apparently we are being asked to consider, there is no conflict in the record. It is quite simple. If the deshi is alive, his story is true, if the deshi is dead, it's not, where they meet in the middle, it is because they met a physical and metaphysical Ueshiba. I suspect this was what gave him the ability to see bullets before they hit him and made the mountains shake behind his house. We know these things are also true, they come from his deshi, and see....you have to understand the nature of memory. Many of his deshi, dreamed they saw him, and thus their training under him continues.

There are several stories afoot about all of the above, and truth being as subjective as it is, all should be considered. I am not even going to debate anyone point, It is ALL TRUE. Why? Because everyone is in a lineage under any number of deshi who said these things. Just imagine the new more accurate history we are now going to get to discuss now that McGrew has established a personal relationship as the new standard that puts Stanley's work out of the picture.

For my part, this has caused me to step back and re-think my entire schedule for next year and my involvement with the community. I have many invitations that were being put off due to prior commitments. I will be pulling back and making new plans only with select groups. It's much easier on me. And that way people don't feel burdened to put up with me.
To the community I would say good luck with your Japanese Shihan. Though I would never in my life time do it, and therefore it would not appear after I was dead either; Imagine if I published what so many of you have said about
a. your Japanese teachers
b. this material
c. what YOU truly believe and feel
d. the value of my teaching on your art.
It would blow the minds of so many debating these issues. But...alas, after all, we do need to support our teachers....indeed!

As for protocols and behavior. I have never had a problem between what I say in private and what I say in public. I avoid saying things in public that would contradict what I say in private. I make sure I am consistent. To do otherwise -in my line of work- can cost my clients millions. Oddly, I have never had that level of transparency and honesty referred to as being simple or unsophisticated....until I met people in Japanese Budo.
Dan

Mark Freeman
12-06-2011, 08:23 AM
Hi Dan,

that's one helluva post...

Why change what you are doing? you know that those who you teach, appreciate what you have to offer. There will always be folk who believe what they want to believe. One only has to look around the world to see that people will believe all sorts of stuff, regardless of fact or proof, Creationists and Scientologists are prime examples of this all too human capacity. Folk will kill and die to protect, weird ways of thinking. So a few martial artists getting steamed up about a history that will probably always be in dispute, is not really that much to worry about.

Unless they have a direct impact on your own wellbeing, why be concerned at all?

The truth of budo is on the mat and in actions in the world, not on the page or in pixels. How people conduct themselves, is one measure. Can they deliver is another. Can they pass on their knowledge and wisdom? there's a question..

regards,

Mark

Demetrio Cereijo
12-06-2011, 08:43 AM
Well Dan,

This is how the the aikido world is.

DH
12-06-2011, 09:20 AM
Well Dan,

This is how the the aikido world is.

Well....not really. Some of the most remarkable people I have met were "in" Japanese Budo, among which, many of the stand outs are Aikido teachers. Ellis was right about that.

Dan

Joe McParland
12-06-2011, 09:38 AM
For my part, this has caused me to step back and re-think my entire schedule for next year and my involvement with the community. I have many invitations that were being put off due to prior commitments. I will be pulling back and making new plans only with select groups. It's much easier on me. And that way people don't feel burdened to put up with me.
To the community I would say good luck with your Japanese Shihan. Though I would never in my life time do it, and therefore it would not appear after I was dead either; Imagine if I published what so many of you have said about
a. your Japanese teachers
b. this material
c. what YOU truly believe and feel
d. the value of my teaching on your art.
It would blow the minds of so many debating these issues. But...alas, after all, we do need to support our teachers....indeed!

As always, it's our willingness to put value in understanding the mystery that gives these folks their power. The assertion of a mystery and an interest in a mystery are not fundamentally different than any other "attack" and connection--the foundation of aikido practice. Amusingly, the verbal techniques and principles are often analogous to physical techniques and principles... Can you spot them?

There are "lineages" and "teachers" that use their teachings so that their advocates free themselves of this this (masakatsu agatsu), and there are those that use them only for self-benefit--whatever the assertion to the contrary (just another technique). One leads to actual harmony; one does not. It's an interesting exercise to evaluate the different legends and personalities here in this light.


Don't worry: I'll guard your secret...

graham christian
12-06-2011, 10:07 AM
Hi Dan,

that's one helluva post...

Why change what you are doing? you know that those who you teach, appreciate what you have to offer. There will always be folk who believe what they want to believe. One only has to look around the world to see that people will believe all sorts of stuff, regardless of fact or proof, Creationists and Scientologists are prime examples of this all too human capacity. Folk will kill and die to protect, weird ways of thinking. So a few martial artists getting steamed up about a history that will probably always be in dispute, is not really that much to worry about.

Unless they have a direct impact on your own wellbeing, why be concerned at all?

The truth of budo is on the mat and in actions in the world, not on the page or in pixels. How people conduct themselves, is one measure. Can they deliver is another. Can they pass on their knowledge and wisdom? there's a question..

regards,

Mark

Hi Mark. Why not? I don't think he said stop. Review is something we all have to do a specific times.

I don't think it's any more significant than that. Learn, apply, have success, come across situations, review and consider, learn more, realign, progress.

That's a kind of sequence if you like. All good.

Regards.G.

Janet Rosen
12-06-2011, 10:25 AM
As for protocols and behavior. I have never had a problem between what I say in private and what I say in public. I avoid saying things in public that would contradict what I say in private. I make sure I am consistent.

Rule to live by.

Cliff Judge
12-06-2011, 10:30 AM
I am merely trying to say that it would be nice if all the insults, stated directly or implied, would stop.

There is a really simple way to obtain these results, Ken. It's called stop posting.

kewms
12-06-2011, 10:46 AM
The idea that Aikido can be anything anyone wants it to be is a very generous idea. It is an extreme example of refusing to fight. I don't think that Gary, Katherine, or most Aikido artists would agree with that idea.

It doesn't matter whether I agree with it or not, as there's nothing I can do about it.

Certainly I can decide where and how I choose to train, and what I teach, but that's about the limit of my ability to influence things. Message board posts can encourage people to explore, but that's about it.

As for whether "aikido" -- for however you want to define it -- survives, that ultimately depends on whether aikido students are getting something they value out of their practice. If they are, it will. If not, it won't. If a particular approach appeals to more people, it will be more successful.

On the other hand, sheer number of students is not the only measure. Look at the koryu.

Katherine

DH
12-06-2011, 11:13 AM
Hi Dan,
that's one helluva post...
Why change what you are doing? you know that those who you teach, appreciate what you have to offer. There will always be folk who believe what they want to believe. One only has to look around the world to see that people will believe all sorts of stuff, regardless of fact or proof, Creationists and Scientologists are prime examples of this all too human capacity. Folk will kill and die to protect, weird ways of thinking. So a few martial artists getting steamed up about a history that will probably always be in dispute, is not really that much to worry about.

Unless they have a direct impact on your own wellbeing, why be concerned at all?
The truth of budo is on the mat and in actions in the world, not on the page or in pixels. How people conduct themselves, is one measure. Can they deliver is another. Can they pass on their knowledge and wisdom? there's a question..

regards,

Mark
Hi Mark
I had a series of long conversations over the last two years that I have been doing this. And another series of topically unrelated, yet strangely similar discussions last night and this morning with a group of teachers who are really pissed off by certain things. This thread, and Mr. McGrew have angered more than a few people and has brought certain issues to the surface. I have noticed an incredible double standard between what is acceptable behavior, both coming from, and then toward Japanese teachers, and the way those Japanese teachers treat their students and the way those student/teachers treat other teachers in contrast to the way they treat their Japanese teachers. The double standard can be quite profound.

With Saotome here, I was the first lone voice offering readers to review the context in which these things are discussed and an understanding of how it is perfectly acceptable. I also expanded to include the fact that Saotome was among the bright lights who was not exactly treated with the level of support from Hombu that lesser lights were offered. I was also the one to go out on a limb in pissing off other teachers who host me, by stating that I think that Saotome was the best modern practitioner I have seen and no one in the aikikai I have seen comes close.
That will undoubtedly cost me!! I thought about for quite a while before I wrote that. I said it in support of him, because I believe it is true.
The result?
I was insulted over and over, had statements twisted that were not true, old attackers showing up, and had my motives painted in an incredibly poor light. Okay. fine. Then spin off threads going after me. All approved and accepted. I got it. Have you ever been invited to a dinner party where you didn't really belong and then subtly put in your place? If you are like me, you don't really mind the perceived insult as your host would like, I have a confidance, well earned, on what I can actually do, versus many of these internet jocks who's own teachers can't touch it never mind themselves. But you get the intent behind the set up, and the message, loud and clear.

Now, understand, that in fact, (real facts-as in proof, not Japanese fact, as in an agreed public farce) I have made certain sacrifices in certain places where I have taught for hours and hours at a deeply discounted rate in order to "help." It sure as HELL was not to my benefit. Now, imagine reading how much of a bastard I am or "Thanks, but your just another date on my dance card." That's cool, no big deal, but it helps to see the value of my efforts. Hence my own choice to draw back in and reduce efforts to those who understand what I am doing and why. There are any number of people who have been after me to teach and I have turned them down in support of prior commitments.

What I am doing is very hard to do and there are VERY.. few of us attempting this-fewer still when you add in provable results! And the few Japanese that have anything at all, suck at teaching it. It isn't always fun, the traveling really...sucks. When I teach seminars I will sit in the back seat, pay for my own meals when I can, refuse the sensei treatment, and try to be as low maintainance as possible. I don't hold back information, and try to get as much hands on time as possible with each person, then I give free training time after the seminar.
Contrary to the incredibly insulting, many times singular treatment I have received here, I could do seminars with larger crowds, offer less hands on time, systematize and really use it to make much more money and be the bastard I am accused of being almost on a regular basis here. There are too many of us who are resolved and understand the nature of the work, and it's place in history, its place in the arts and how it effects Aikido, to squander my time with just anybody.
Dan

phitruong
12-06-2011, 11:57 AM
There are too many of us who are resolved and understand the nature of the work, and it's place in history, its place in the arts and how it effects Aikido, to squander my time with just anybody.
Dan

i was worry for awhile there. thank god i wasn't in the anybody category, but in the nobody category which should be ok, right? see, you should have stuck to the nobody group, since we have no beef, no care, no how and no nevermind. :D

some folks looked at historical information as some sort of insult, personal affront. others looked at historical information as something to study, to analyze and learn from the past in order to plot a course for the future. one man's insult is another man's insight. one man's trash is another man's meal. one man's foot is another man's up. :D

DH
12-06-2011, 12:07 PM
Quote:
Ken McGrew wrote:
I am merely trying to say that it would be nice if all the insults, stated directly or implied, would stop.
There is a really simple way to obtain these results, Ken. It's called stop posting.
I had a post with all of his insults to a host of people, as well as a protracted series of his personal attacks all cut and pasted into a list almost done... when I realized it wouldn't matter at all. I think what is going on here is transparent enough.

Dan

Marc Abrams
12-06-2011, 12:08 PM
I had a post with all of his insults to a host of people, as well as a protracted series of his personal attacks all cut and pasted into a list almost done... when I realized it wouldn't matter at all. I think what is going on here is transparent enough.

Dan

PLEASE, PLEASE POST IT! If nothing else, it will help highlight the double standards that are applied in regards to conduct on this forum by certain people.

Marc Abrams

Chris Li
12-06-2011, 12:28 PM
PLEASE, PLEASE POST IT! If nothing else, it will help highlight the double standards that are applied in regards to conduct on this forum by certain people.

Marc Abrams

I think he's right though, it's like trying to hold a discussion with a pig. You never really get anywhere, and it annoys the pig :) .

Best,

Chris

DH
12-06-2011, 12:30 PM
PLEASE, PLEASE POST IT! If nothing else, it will help highlight the double standards that are applied in regards to conduct on this forum by certain people.

Marc Abrams
Nope. As I said it is pointless.
I have had eleven threads started using my name to go after me personally. Not what I said, not what I do...me.
I have been threatened to be sued, along with anyone in Aikido who hosted me, called a con man and a snake oil salesman, Called a fraud and a liar when I was thee only one actually telling the truth...had threads started about how much I make, being hounded and chased through thread after thread by a few people....on and on.

I have no say here. I just try to get people to present something, anything to support their statements other than "Because my teachers told me so." in all of the discussions here.
With this thread? Saotome is one of the good guys!! So one of his own making such a mess in a misguided attempt to defend a guy who needs none is particularly embarrasing and sad.
Dan

Marc Abrams
12-06-2011, 12:30 PM
I think he's right though, it's like trying to hold a discussion with a pig. You never really get anywhere, and it annoys the pig :) .

Best,

Chris

Chris:

When we are done talking to the pig, we have a Luau ! :D :D :D

Marc Abrams

DH
12-06-2011, 12:39 PM
Well, I can see where the motive was sound. The methodology and follow through just fell apart and squandered what would have ended as a fair and balanced discussion. Most all of us have trained under Japanese Shihan. We all get it, we know the drill. This was never a big deal to anyone and there was no defense ever needed.

Well, for the little that it mattered, now everyone knows what I think of Saotome's skills compared to others! I am quite sure I am going to pay for that comment sooner or later.
Dan

akiy
12-06-2011, 02:42 PM
It looks like this thread has run its course.

Thread closed.

-- Jun