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dapidmini
01-11-2012, 04:43 AM
how should we do shomen uchi using bokken? should we open our elbows like in this video of Morihiro Saito Sensei http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y1iXm89jI0 or should we form a triangle with our elbows and body so that the elbows are closer to each other and not to bend our elbows?

I know that different Sensei can have different bokken kata.. but shouldn't the basic stays the same?:confused: some people teaches the latter part which makes me wonder why it is different from the one being taught by Saito Sensei and all other references I found for that matter..:confused:

robin_jet_alt
01-11-2012, 07:36 AM
Hi David,

Can you post a video of the other style?

Cliff Judge
01-11-2012, 08:06 AM
Um. Don't let your shoulders rock forward and up like Saito Sensei seems to be doing in that video clip.

Rob Watson
01-11-2012, 10:48 AM
Morihiro Saito Sensei http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y1iXm89jI0 :confused:

Not sure who AikidoEnth is but that whole channel is one big copyright violation. Buy the DVDs from Stan if you want but don't rip and post them on youtube. Heck, sens me a SASE and I'll loan you mine.

dapidmini
01-11-2012, 11:24 AM
Hi David,

Can you post a video of the other style?

not really. this is the first time someone teach this method so I haven't found a video of it yet.. and I'm too shy to film myself doing it :o

the other method is to keep both elbows straight at all times when lifting and lowering the sword.. so that when the hands reach the highest point, the inner elbow will touch our face. this is blocking my vision to the sides..

Um. Don't let your shoulders rock forward and up like Saito Sensei seems to be doing in that video clip.

is he doing it wrong? being a 9th Dan?

Not sure who AikidoEnth is but that whole channel is one big copyright violation. Buy the DVDs from Stan if you want but don't rip and post them on youtube. Heck, sens me a SASE and I'll loan you mine.

who is Stan? is he a member of aikiweb? if so, I'll try to contact him later.. thanks for the info ;)

Cliff Judge
01-11-2012, 03:03 PM
is he doing it wrong? being a 9th Dan?


I know, right?

yeah I really don't know what's going on here, but it sure looks like his shoulders are stiff during those cuts. That's the usual thing that I find causes my shoulders to pop up and rock forward when I cut. Not sure why he is jerking his bokken to a halt in front of him.

Seriously though are you sure this isn't a "what not to do" demonstration?

sorokod
01-11-2012, 05:39 PM
I know, right?

yeah I really don't know what's going on here, but it sure looks like his shoulders are stiff during those cuts. That's the usual thing that I find causes my shoulders to pop up and rock forward when I cut. Not sure why he is jerking his bokken to a halt in front of him.

Seriously though are you sure this isn't a "what not to do" demonstration?

I assure you that this is not a "what not to do" demonstration. Could you post a link to a video which demonstrates the first suburi as you believe it should be done?

Cliff Judge
01-11-2012, 08:45 PM
I assure you that this is not a "what not to do" demonstration. Could you post a link to a video which demonstrates the first suburi as you believe it should be done?

I dunno what that is. The topic of the thread is how to do a shomen cut for suburi.

I'm having trouble parsing Saito Sensei's body organization during his cuts in this video. It looks like he is tensing his shoulders and arms at the end of his cut.

If he is, then I need to figure out why that is not terrible. If he is not, then I need to figure out what he is doing that makes him look like he is tensing his shoulders.

sorokod
01-12-2012, 01:52 AM
The Iwama weapons system has 7 ken and 20 jo suburi. In the linked video, the ken suburi are demonstrated. The first ken suburi is a shomenuchi. Could you post a link to a video which demonstrates the "first suburi"/"shomenuchi suburi" as you believe it should be done?

BTW, the jo suburi include the uchikomi series which includes shomenuchi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9U04EU_Qp8&t=1m30s

dapidmini
01-12-2012, 04:36 AM
anyway, if we can get back to the OP, do you think we should practice suburi as taught by Saito Sensei or the weird one being taught by that certain person? my Sensei said that he was taught that way too by his sensei so my Sensei also teach that suburi. in one hand I want to respect my Sensei and practise his way of suburi so that when the time comes when I need to perform it, I will be able to. on the other hand, I don't want to ingrain a wrong form into my muscle memory..

what do you think I should do? Sensei won't be coming to dojo and teach for about a month so I can't ask him about this.. also, I don't want to waste time postponing practice. I'm burned up right now and I don't know if I'll still have the same urge to practice suburi anymore if I don't start soon...

Carsten Möllering
01-12-2012, 05:01 AM
... tensing his shoulders and arms at the end of his cut.
This is exactly what I was told to do when I practiced with people who do Iwama ryu. And this is what makes the ken bounce at the end of the cut.

I myself learned doing shomen uchi in different way: More soft, not tensing anywhere. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=2K-e-QOOTg8#t=137s) And no wringing movement at the end.

By now I do it a little bit different from what is shown in the video.

It's not aikido, but what gives me an impression or an image of kenjutsu is swordwork like this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=efPHIjriwlA).

As for opening the elbows: We don't open the elbows. We grasp the tsuka in a natural way, with arms completely relaxed. And in no movement we purposely open the elbows. This would be corrected immidiately.
Nevertheless I don't see a way that my elbow touches my face during shomen uchi?

My experience:
I only practice sword directly wiht my teacher if I don't exactly know what to do. It's too subtle to learn it alone. (Or from videos of one teacher or another.) And what to do depends so deeply on the line of tradition or school it stems from.

sakumeikan
01-12-2012, 06:05 AM
anyway, if we can get back to the OP, do you think we should practice suburi as taught by Saito Sensei or the weird one being taught by that certain person? my Sensei said that he was taught that way too by his sensei so my Sensei also teach that suburi. in one hand I want to respect my Sensei and practise his way of suburi so that when the time comes when I need to perform it, I will be able to. on the other hand, I don't want to ingrain a wrong form into my muscle memory..

what do you think I should do? Sensei won't be coming to dojo and teach for about a month so I can't ask him about this.. also, I don't want to waste time postponing practice. I'm burned up right now and I don't know if I'll still have the same urge to practice suburi anymore if I don't start soon...
Hi David,
Try looking forward weapons work of Chiba Sensei on Youtube.One thing I would advocate is do NOT use excessive strength, keep shoulders RELAXED,do NOT over reach with arms and most importantly, keep elbows close to your main body at start . The primary hand in bokken work is the left hand.This SUPPLIES the power, right hand DIRECTS THE POWER.The hand nearer to the body in weapons work is the hand which is POWER HAND> Cheers,Joe

sakumeikan
01-12-2012, 06:06 AM
anyway, if we can get back to the OP, do you think we should practice suburi as taught by Saito Sensei or the weird one being taught by that certain person? my Sensei said that he was taught that way too by his sensei so my Sensei also teach that suburi. in one hand I want to respect my Sensei and practise his way of suburi so that when the time comes when I need to perform it, I will be able to. on the other hand, I don't want to ingrain a wrong form into my muscle memory..

what do you think I should do? Sensei won't be coming to dojo and teach for about a month so I can't ask him about this.. also, I don't want to waste time postponing practice. I'm burned up right now and I don't know if I'll still have the same urge to practice suburi anymore if I don't start soon...
Hi David,
Try looking for weapons work of Chiba Sensei on Youtube.One thing I would advocate is do NOT use excessive strength, keep shoulders RELAXED,do NOT over reach with arms and most importantly, keep elbows close to your main body at start . The primary hand in bokken work is the left hand.This SUPPLIES the power, right hand DIRECTS THE POWER.The hand nearer to the body in weapons work is the hand which is POWER HAND> Cheers,Joe

sorokod
01-12-2012, 06:48 AM
By now I do it a little bit different from what is shown in the video.

It's not aikido, but what gives me an impression or an image of kenjutsu is swordwork like this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=efPHIjriwlA).



I think that Katori Shinto ryu is beautiful but as you say, It's not aikido. How do you reconcile your weapons training with your taijitsu?

NagaBaba
01-12-2012, 08:54 AM
The primary hand in bokken work is the left hand.This SUPPLIES the power, right hand DIRECTS THE POWER.The hand nearer to the body in weapons work is the hand which is POWER HAND> Cheers,Joe

Hi Joe,
I disagree completely with this statement. Hands are only transmitters (of power or directions and they work in equal degree for transmission, otherwise your cut will be unbalanced and body not harmonized). Power of the cut is created by putting your ‘weight/intend’ into the sword, it can be done in many different ways depending of you advancement level. Simply stated, you let sword cut by itself, if you put a particular attention to any part of your body (particularly hands), you start to force a cut and you lose all sophistication.

Cliff Judge
01-12-2012, 08:57 AM
The Iwama weapons system has 7 ken and 20 jo suburi. In the linked video, the ken suburi are demonstrated. The first ken suburi is a shomenuchi. Could you post a link to a video which demonstrates the "first suburi"/"shomenuchi suburi" as you believe it should be done?


I don't spend enough of my youtube browsing time looking at Iwama folks to have such a thing for you.

Can you offer an explanation as to why the shoulders should lift up and rock forward at the end of a shomen cut? And why the tip of the bokken wobbles around like it is the end of a spring?

I had the chance to look at the video with sound last night and the thought occurred to me that the tension might not actually be in Saito Sensei's shoulder muscles, but rather in his whole body, as he is expelling a fairly forceful kiai as he completes those cuts. it still really looks like his sword and arms are separating from his center at the end though.

I just don't know what to make of this.

sorokod
01-12-2012, 09:34 AM
I don't spend enough of my youtube browsing time looking at Iwama folks to have such a thing for you.

Actually I was hoping for an example from whatever lineage you are following.

grondahl
01-12-2012, 09:45 AM
Can you offer an explanation as to why the shoulders should lift up and rock forward at the end of a shomen cut? And why the tip of the bokken wobbles around like it is the end of a spring?

I had the chance to look at the video with sound last night and the thought occurred to me that the tension might not actually be in Saito Sensei's shoulder muscles, but rather in his whole body, as he is expelling a fairly forceful kiai as he completes those cuts. it still really looks like his sword and arms are separating from his center at the end though.



Probably a side effect of to much tanren uchi (on a tire).

sorokod
01-12-2012, 10:18 AM
It is probably worth mentioning that in Iwama ken suburi, the sword is treated as a striking and not cutting or slicing weapon. I am not sure that this is the case in other systems.

phitruong
01-12-2012, 11:03 AM
instead of worry about suburi stuffs, here is another approach that personally i think would help your aikido better. i am borrowing a basic exercise from Mike Sigman; he used a water bottle but you can use your bokken.

hold your bokken straight up above your head. let the weight of the bokken pushes down to your feet by relax your body so that your feet feel the pressure of the bokken. stand there for awhile, like 10-20 min. if any part of your body feels pain, then you are tensing it. work on relax those places. once you are comfortable with that position, then drop the bokken down (arm almost straigh out) to about your eye brow level. repeat the above. then drop to your shoulder level, repeat above. drop to your solar plex level, repeat above. then belly button. then as far as you can lower your hands. the key thing you need to focus is to make sure your are pushing from underneath no matter what position your arms are at. this is the important thing, because if you cannot do that, then you miss the whole point of the exercise and might as well not doing it at all. when you are comfortable with the static standing stuffs, then move around slowly and do the same as above. one thing, don't try to hold a heavy bokken at the beginning, try something light. the lighter the better. when you are getting better at it, then you can increase the weight incrementally, but in small increment. if you can master that in a year time, then you are better than i (took me 2 years. actually, still working on it but with some additives).

this exercise looks simple and doesn't look like much, but eventually allows you to get under people without changing much of your physical position and to drop your weight on someone in the same manner.

sorokod
01-12-2012, 11:39 AM
This sounds like an atrociously difficult exercise to do, but how is it related to ken suburi?

phitruong
01-12-2012, 12:41 PM
This sounds like an atrociously difficult exercise to do, but how is it related to ken suburi?

to be able to do suburi at full power and speed of your ENTIRE body in a relax manner, stop on a dime without tensing any part of your body, and cut again quickly and do that 1000 times in a row without your arms falling off. and someday to be able to move like Kuroda sensei, then sign-up for a starting role in the next Seagal's movie "Machete 2: Mark for the Dalai Lama" :D

PaulieWalnuts
01-12-2012, 02:35 PM
Iwama Saburi by Hitohiro Saito

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6UjPDsdPso

Gerardo Torres
01-12-2012, 05:41 PM
Not sure why he is jerking his bokken to a halt in front of him.

I see this a lot. IME this is mostly caused by the user stopping the sword rather than letting the sword stop naturally. Other causes are poor grip, lifting shoulders, and by "cutting air" rather than cutting a specific target. The way I fix this is by keeping metsuke/eyes on the target and cutting (emphasizing power) only in the target area; once the sword has cut the intended target it continues to travel and stops cold somewhat horizontally (depends how good your grip/tenouchi is), with no twitching or jerking at the end like you see in the video.

Gerardo Torres
01-12-2012, 05:53 PM
The primary hand in bokken work is the left hand.This SUPPLIES the power, right hand DIRECTS THE POWER.The hand nearer to the body in weapons work is the hand which is POWER HAND> Cheers,Joe
I once heard a teacher say that the whole "left hand power" can be used as a tool to teach some beginners to let go of their natural right-hand preference when it came to deliver power say in a shomenuchi/kirioroshi, but that in true you don't want to have a power hand, you want power in both hands (if you're using both hands to cut).

sakumeikan
01-12-2012, 06:10 PM
Hi Joe,
I disagree completely with this statement. Hands are only transmitters (of power or directions and they work in equal degree for transmission, otherwise your cut will be unbalanced and body not harmonized). Power of the cut is created by putting your ‘weight/intend' into the sword, it can be done in many different ways depending of you advancement level. Simply stated, you let sword cut by itself, if you put a particular attention to any part of your body (particularly hands), you start to force a cut and you lose all sophistication.
Hi,
By all means disagree if you feel so inclined.I was attempting to give a few pointers to the questioner.I was not describing every aspect of swordwork.IMO a beginner has to start somewhere.A few basic tips can I hope help.However I assume that you are a competent swordsman and perhaps my few comments in this matter are inept in your opinion?Not too worry, I am not trying to teach my granny how to suck eggs in your case. Cheers, Joe.

gates
01-12-2012, 06:16 PM
anyway, if we can get back to the OP, do you think we should practice suburi as taught by Saito Sensei or the weird one being taught by that certain person? my Sensei said that he was taught that way too by his sensei so my Sensei also teach that suburi. in one hand I want to respect my Sensei and practise his way of suburi so that when the time comes when I need to perform it, I will be able to. on the other hand, I don't want to ingrain a wrong form into my muscle memory..

what do you think I should do? Sensei won't be coming to dojo and teach for about a month so I can't ask him about this.. also, I don't want to waste time postponing practice. I'm burned up right now and I don't know if I'll still have the same urge to practice suburi anymore if I don't start soon...

Expect your Sensei to want you to do it the way he/she last showed you. Practice that. Although there is no harm in undertaking some exploration of other ways of doing things, if only for contrast.
Regards
Keith

Carsten Möllering
01-13-2012, 05:30 AM
I think that Katori Shinto ryu is beautiful but as you say, It's not aikido. How do you reconcile your weapons training with your taijitsu?
I myself don' t practice TSKSR. But a lot of people around me do, because my aikido teacher also teaches it.
The swordwork we do is what Christian Tissier teaches, who was student of Inaba Minoru sensei. Plus we do some forms of aiki ken also.

But TSKSR inspires me a lot.
Mostly because it made me understand how important precise movements, postures and use of the body are. Precisely working on one's own body: This is very similar to what Endo sensei teaches. First tuning and building one's own body. Not relying on what uke does but creating connection or the relationsship from within ones own body.

And it teaches how "the ki things" can be learned on a bodily, down to earth way. No esotericism but just moving your shoulder a little bit here, your toe a little bit there - et voilà. This also relates to the teachings of Tissier: First work on your body, on your structure, on your correct movement.

So it is not certain forms or waza of TSKSR which are interesting to me. There is no maki uchi in aikido, the hanmi is different and so on. But the way of how to use one's body is interesting and helpfull to me.

sorokod
01-15-2012, 05:08 AM
As you build up your understanding of the art, taking parts from Katori Shintoryu and others from Kashima Shinryu (via Christian Tissier and Inaba Minoru ) and yet others from Seishiro Endo and Yamaguchi Seigo and still others from your direct teachers, as you integrate all these parts in yourself applying your own judgement, how far off do you think you are from Aikido? Here by Aikido I mean any form of Aikido practiced while the founder was alive, that is closest to what you do.

I think that this question is pertinent to any Aikido practitioner nowadays (myself included) but especially to those who are reaching into other arts to supplement their training.

Carsten Möllering
01-15-2012, 06:52 AM
... how far off do you think you are from Aikido? Here by Aikido I mean any form of Aikido practiced while the founder was alive, that is closest to what you do.
Interesting. Actually I think, that just this is a good way to come near to what aikido "is". And this way is not that eclectic like it seems when you describe it. It follows a certain common thread and the parts of it are closely interwoven. So it's a kind of logical "progression" within a certain thread of the transmission of aikido.
(Please see PM.)

But:
I think that this question is pertinent to any Aikido practitioner nowadays (myself included) but especially to those who are reaching into other arts to supplement their training.
Why do you think this to be pertinent?

I have to admit, that my image of aikido is more influenced by certain teacher who are still living.I don't know whether this is right or wrong, but I simply notice that I don't have the intention to "become like Ueshiba". But I indeed have the aim to be able to do "what XY does". Or "what YZ shows".
It was in the year 2009 when I saw, what I, myself, think aikido really to be.

It think this is very closely connected to what Ueshiba taught. But, I can't deny that, It is not him, who gives me my image of aikido.

He is the founder of the ryu. But a ryu is a living entity, a flowing rive. I think?

sorokod
01-15-2012, 01:35 PM
To justify my position, I need to make two points

1. As a body of knowledge passed from person to person, Aikido isn't "self-correcting". For example, an instruction set on how to produce a specific origami shape is self-correcting in that if some of the instructions get garbled up, the result will be so obviously broken that the garbled instruction set will not be passed on to another person. (This example is from The Greatest Show on Earth by R. Dawkins, here is a relevant wikipedia link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memetics).

Aikido, generally speaking, is not self-correcting; a student may miss a detail from her teacher's demonstration and not pass it on to her student, another student may wilfully modify things (perhaps because the world has changed and the ethos needs to be adjusted to the new reality) and pass that on, etc...

I think that the first point is self evident, the second one may be less so

2. Aikido is martially effective. This is necessary but maybe not sufficient. Regardless of other things Aikido brings to the table (health benefits, world piece, etc...) it has to be effective. If it isn't, everything else collapses in a cloud of self delusion. Some people may disagree with this - I have no problem with that, we are simply don't have a common ground as we don't practice the same discipline. Some people may say that this effectivity business covers a lot of grey area. This may be true but does not imply that everything is as effective as anything else (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEDaCIDvj6I) For example if nage/tori exposes his back so it can be struck by the uke, he isn't practicing a martial art (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWBmEHzbOXI) but some sort of acrobatics.

I suppose that some might disagree, but this is how I think about these things.

So how would an Aikido practitioner, who accepts points one and two, think about assimilating influences from other martial arts?
As far as the first point is concerned, these introduce mutations to the body of knowledge that is likely to persist in future generations. This may or may not be a bad thing in itself but in the larger scheme of things it reduces the fidelity of the transmitted information.
Regarding the second point, most of us are salesmen, software engineers, nurses, mechanics and clerks with just enough free time on our hands to dabble in martial arts, maybe twice a week, maybe less. There is very little in our background to support a rational evaluation of martial effectiveness of this technique or that move.

For me, having accepted points one and two, proper training consists of following as closely as possible my teachers and being honest about my abilities to improve or change the art for the better.

Carsten Möllering
01-16-2012, 05:05 AM
1. As a body of knowledge passed from person to person, Aikido isn't "self-correcting". Yes. Isn't this the reason why we have kihon no kata and emphasize so much on doing and transmitting "correct" kihon waza? (At least I know it this way.)
And also: Isn't this the reason why the gradings up to yondan are "simply" technical examinations and are - at least in our federation - held openly and by a committee of teachers? To meet a certain "standard"?
And, at last: Isn't this the reason why it is said to be so very important to have a personal teacher-student-relationship over years? Isn't this why knowing one's own "lineage" or "line of tradition" is held high?

I think this "institutionalisation " of transmitting aikido is important. Because aikido isn't "self-correcting" it needs a kind of corrective.

That said

... a student may miss a detail from her teacher's demonstration ...Isn't this what happened from the beginning on?

... another student may wilfully modify things ...Isn't it more usual that modifying happens unwittingl? Just because of maybe having shorter or longer arms or something like that.

So yes: Transmitting the original knowledge is crucial. But isn't it also self evident that everything in the world changes to a certain degree?

For my part, I am known as a "ultra-traditionalis aikidoka". ;)
And the parts of the puzzle I described above are - in my eyes - vehicles to understand and being able to give on the tradition, the knowledge we got from our teachers. It's - in my eyes - a way of looking deeper into the art, not a way leave it.

2. Aikido is martially effective. ... Regardless of other things Aikido brings to the table (health benefits, world piece, etc...) it has to be effective. Yes.

So how would an Aikido practitioner, who accepts points one and two, think about assimilating influences from other martial arts?
Again, for my part, I don't think it to be helpfull, interesting or necessary to assimilate or integrate influences from outside. But I don't think aikido to be an isolated and unique entity. It is a budo. And other budo simply exist beside it. And sometimes an aspect of another budo casts a light on a cerstain aspect of aikido and helps to better understand it.
And this has always been the case, I think. Aikido never has been isolated. Haven't there been connections to various other ryu / budo all over the time?
And sometimes they help to get back to the roots or to reveal a modification, which is only to be seen from the outside.
So I think: This also can be a form of corrective and help to better understand and better hand on the original tradition of aikido.

For me, having accepted points one and two, proper training consists of following as closely as possible my teachers
That is exactly, what I try to do. ;-) And what my teacher did: Following his teacher(s).
I don't think, that this "method" of growing, understanding and passing on the given tradition is beyond dispute?
Isn't this way the other way is called "disgraceful"? (Although it can be the right one for certain students.;) )

graham christian
01-16-2012, 05:45 AM
Relaxed Concentration by an old Master. Watch and learn....

http://youtu.be/OKMRcLyBlmg

G.

Carsten Möllering
01-16-2012, 05:47 AM
That is exactly, what I try to do. ;-) And what my teacher did: Following his teacher(s).
I don't think, that this "method" of growing, understanding and passing on the given tradition is beyond dispute?
Well, actually I tried to say that this "method" is beyond dispute.

... interestinge mistake ...
..."There is no happenstance!" as it says in my business ...

Alex Megann
01-16-2012, 06:21 AM
I myself don' t practice TSKSR. But a lot of people around me do, because my aikido teacher also teaches it.
The swordwork we do is what Christian Tissier teaches, who was student of Inaba Minoru sensei. Plus we do some forms of aiki ken also.

But TSKSR inspires me a lot.
Mostly because it made me understand how important precise movements, postures and use of the body are. Precisely working on one's own body: This is very similar to what Endo sensei teaches. First tuning and building one's own body. Not relying on what uke does but creating connection or the relationsship from within ones own body.

And it teaches how "the ki things" can be learned on a bodily, down to earth way. No esotericism but just moving your shoulder a little bit here, your toe a little bit there - et voilà. This also relates to the teachings of Tissier: First work on your body, on your structure, on your correct movement.

So it is not certain forms or waza of TSKSR which are interesting to me. There is no maki uchi in aikido, the hanmi is different and so on. But the way of how to use one's body is interesting and helpfull to me.

Interesting points, Carsten.

My own feeling is that it is indeed very useful to study a varied range of other disciplines, but that certain ways of using the sword lend themselves more or less well to particular approaches to aikido. For instance, most teachers in the lineage of Yamaguchi Sensei practise the kesagiri cutting style (and a few teach more advanced katas) from Kashima Shinryu, rather than the "Aikiken" of Saito Sensei. Examples of this are Tissier Sensei, Gleason Sensei and Yasuno Sensei (though an interesting exception is Yamashima Sensei who, although profoundly influenced by Yamaguchi, practises Yagyu Shinkage-ryu swordwork). Similarly, most people who follow Chiba Sensei also practise his sword katas, as the way of moving the body is the same.

As I have been trying to follow Kanetsuka Sensei's developing aikido over the years, I have found the body movements involved in kesagiri more and more helpful to me, as they feel very consistent with the way he makes the connection with his partner. At the same time, I find it increasingly difficult to do the more tightly-controlled Saito-style swordwork to my own satisfaction, as it feels much less natural to me, and doesn't "fit" very comfortably with the way I want to take my aikido practice.

I wonder whether your liking for TSKSR is precisely because it is in a fundamental way separate from aikido - it wasn't developed in order to inform a particular way of doing aikido technique, so in a sense you can take what you like from it. I would be interested in your thoughts - do you find there are any movements in TSKSR which you feel are incompatible for any reason with the way you understand aikido? Do you think it would be difficult to practise both that way and your teacher's kesagiri cutting?

Alex

Cliff Judge
01-16-2012, 08:42 AM
1. As a body of knowledge passed from person to person, Aikido isn't "self-correcting".

2. Aikido is martially effective.

I believe that 2 supplies the feedback for self-correction, and that refutes 1.

If not, then you are making a third assertion:

3. Aikido must have a certain form or else it is not "true" Aikido. Therefore, even if what a practioner does is martially effective, and was attained using Aikido training methods, then it is not at all Aikido.

I don't see much use in that idea.

sorokod
01-16-2012, 09:03 AM
I believe that 2 supplies the feedback for self-correction, and that refutes 1.


Saying that what you practice is martially effective is not the same as being martially effective. As (in general) there are no objective "effectivity tests", what remains is some sort of theoretical reasoning which is performed (if it is performed at all) within a group of like minded, and not very martially savvy people with the unsurprising general agreement and backslapping.

If your experience is different I salute and congratulate you. In this case, could you share the procedures you use to "self-correct"?

Cliff Judge
01-16-2012, 09:29 AM
Saying that what you practice is martially effective is not the same as being martially effective. As (in general) there are no objective "effectivity tests", what remains is some sort of theoretical reasoning which is performed (if it is performed at all) within a group of like minded, and not very martially savvy people with the unsurprising general agreement and backslapping.


It sounds as though you are saying that Aikido training is not an environment conducive to actually knowing whether or not one's Aikido is martially effective; it is actually conducive to FOOLING oneself into believing that ineffective Aikido is effective.

So how can you make your second assertion, that "Aikido is martially effective?" You've admitted that you have no way of knowing this.

Demetrio Cereijo
01-16-2012, 09:36 AM
Easy,

Aikido is martially effective, but there are a lot of people, fooled by the training methodology, who think erroneously they are martially effective.

sorokod
01-16-2012, 09:54 AM
It sounds as though you are saying that Aikido training is not an environment conducive to actually knowing whether or not one's Aikido is martially effective; it is actually conducive to FOOLING oneself into believing that ineffective Aikido is effective.

So how can you make your second assertion, that "Aikido is martially effective?" You've admitted that you have no way of knowing this.

That was sloppy wording, I admit; the martial art of Aikido is effective. I endeavour to make my Aikido effective too.

As to knowing, certain things are obviously such, that continually allowing them in the training invalidates the whole thing, these are exposing yourself to counters, depending on the uke to hold on, etc... . There is more to be said on this but first, will you provide us with the self-correcting procedures you use in your training? I assume you have something to this effect since you stated that Aikido is self correcting.

Cliff Judge
01-16-2012, 10:14 AM
That was sloppy wording, I admit; the martial art of Aikido is effective. I endeavour to make my Aikido effective too.

As to knowing, certain things are obviously such, that continually allowing them in the training invalidates the whole thing, these are exposing yourself to counters, depending on the uke to hold on, etc... . There is more to be said on this but first, will you provide us with the self-correcting procedures you use in your training? I assume you have something to this effect since you stated that Aikido is self correcting.

I've been trained to be aware of openings to counters, and I have trained myself to be aware to what extent my uke is choosing to take ukemi or going along with what I want them to do; the thing with uke holding on is a great example, I really hate that and I strive to minimize that. I don't think this is rocket science at all. You just have to be honest with yourself about who is responsible for the ukemi, and learn how to feel what is going on.

Cliff Judge
01-16-2012, 10:15 AM
Easy,

Aikido is martially effective, but there are a lot of people, fooled by the training methodology, who think erroneously they are martially effective.

This makes sense. I hear there are Aikidoka out there who spend years training with static wrist grabs before they work on anything flowing.

sorokod
01-16-2012, 10:39 AM
I've been trained to be aware of openings to counters, and I have trained myself to be aware to what extent my uke is choosing to take ukemi or going along with what I want them to do; the thing with uke holding on is a great example, I really hate that and I strive to minimize that. I don't think this is rocket science at all. You just have to be honest with yourself about who is responsible for the ukemi, and learn how to feel what is going on.

I totally agree with the honesty remark. As to this being the mechanism for self-correction in transmission of the body of knowledge that is Aikido, I don't think it does the job because it absolutely depends on the student.

To my mind Judo, has more of the self correcting quality where the basic waza is laid down by the Kodokan and pretty much everything else is enforced by the competition rules. As long as the rules don't change the art will not change that much. When rules are modified, the practitioners will adjust to optimize their Judo with regards to the new rules.

This is just an example, I do not claim that adding competition to Aikido is the way to go.

Demetrio Cereijo
01-16-2012, 10:48 AM
This makes sense. I hear there are Aikidoka out there who spend years training with static wrist grabs before they work on anything flowing.

I've heard that too.

Cliff Judge
01-16-2012, 10:57 AM
I totally agree with the honesty remark. As to this being the mechanism for self-correction in transmission of the body of knowledge that is Aikido, I don't think it does the job because it absolutely depends on the student.

To my mind Judo, has more of the self correcting quality where the basic waza is laid down by the Kodokan and pretty much everything else is enforced by the competition rules. As long as the rules don't change the art will not change that much. When rules are modified, the practitioners will adjust to optimize their Judo with regards to the new rules.

This is just an example, I do not claim that adding competition to Aikido is the way to go.

So, if you believe that a subjective process of constantly examining your technique as you do it to see if it "feels" martially effective is insufficient for really knowing whether or not your Aikido is martially effective, how do you know that "Aikido is martially effective?" I'm still curious about that.

sorokod
01-16-2012, 11:24 AM
You misunderstand, I believe that "subjective process of constantly examining your technique" does not provide enough support for a high fidelity transmission of Aikido knowledge.

Cliff Judge
01-16-2012, 01:22 PM
You misunderstand, I believe that "subjective process of constantly examining your technique" does not provide enough support for a high fidelity transmission of Aikido knowledge.

I don't disagree with this statement at all. What is does support very well is the discovery of new knowledge that is specific to each practitioner.

But what is the Aikido knowledge that you think is inadequately transmitted, if it is not stuff that can be self-corrected in the crucible of hard, honest practice in the dojo?

gates
01-16-2012, 06:00 PM
This makes sense. I hear there are Aikidoka out there who spend years training with static wrist grabs before they work on anything flowing.

It's funny, makes sence to me too. I heard there are aikidoka who spend years doing flowing waza and have never ever worked with a solid static grab.

sorokod
01-17-2012, 07:37 AM
All this business about self correction and effectively came about from me trying to justify why I think that borrowing from other martial arts is problematic.

If like me you think that Aikido is not self correcting, here is something to consider. On piece of paper mark a point and label it with your name. Connect it to a new point labeled with a name of your teacher. Connect this point to a new point labeled with the name of your teacher's teacher. Continue until you connect to a point labeled "Ueshiba Morihei", this is you lineage. If you have more then one path connecting you to the founder, perhaps you can choose one as the most significant.
Regardless, on every hop between teacher and student, due to imperfect transmission, information is lost and the further away you are from the source, the less the thing that you have resembles the original.

I don't make a value judgement here, not saying that this is good or bad. It just follows logically from the assumptions.

A few things can be said about this

1. Some people practice in a way as to minimise information loss, they mimic their teacher in minutest detail, suppress their own desire to introduce innovations, accommodate their likes and dislikes, etc...
This maybe true, but from my experience, the vast majority doesn't train this way.

2. Perhaps it isn't that bad that things change, wasn't the founder himself a "changer", isn't this what shuhari is all about?
Perhaps, but consider that the founder dedicated all his life to budo. He simply did nothing else, didn't have a proper job, just budo. As did Takeda before him. Innovation coming from people with this kind of credentials is valid. From people with lesser, credentials - you decide.

3. Maybe fidelity can be restored. Maybe one can look at his teachers teacher (or even higher up the path to the source) and obtain something her direct teacher missed.
This probably happens occasionally but I doubt that this is enough to reverse the global trend.

Cliff Judge
01-17-2012, 08:57 AM
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and fleshing them out, David.

I largely do as you say - I try to absorb what my teacher shows me when I get to train with him, without filtering it through a critical thinking process. But for my part, there are two significant issues that almost necessitate my exploring other arts:

1) The thought of ever being able to transmit what my teacher teaches me to students of my own at some point in the future is utter hilarity. I'm really just hoping to be able to help other students out with understanding something.

2) What I get from my teacher is totally incomplete. He doesn't teach much technique at all and he hasn't bothered much with systematization of his Aikido for years. He just shows us aiki.

I think that's quite a bit different than what you and Iwama stylists have available to you in your tradition. I think there is a "mandate" that is a little different too. It really seems like my path is to invent my own Aikido from the ground up. It seems as though Saito Sensei, on the other hand, left a system behind that is more like koryu. In that there is a scaffolding that you are expected to climb for quite a ways before you realize you have to get off of it and climb the rest of the way on your own.

Koryu have some lessons that should interest you because you can see what happens when you take a system down through a dozen or more generations. The system outlives the specific, subjective experience of studying under the teachers of generations past. A few generations after the founder has passed on you see that the concern is more for correctly transmitting the kata, and all of the knowledge that they encapsulate, than for correctly transmitting the teachings of the founder or a certain headmaster.

I am kind of fumbling trying to finish this post but I've watched the video of Saito Sensei performing the first suburi, and his son doing the same, and I basically want to say that Hitohiro does not seem to be tensing his shoulders at the end of his cuts. I'd look to him rather than his father for at least this one minor point.

sorokod
01-17-2012, 09:16 AM
I agree that the koryu systems should have valuable data relevant to this discussion. Nice finish to return back to the original subject :-)

PaulieWalnuts
01-17-2012, 01:47 PM
how should we do shomen uchi using bokken? should we open our elbows like in this video of Morihiro Saito Sensei http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y1iXm89jI0 or should we form a triangle with our elbows and body so that the elbows are closer to each other and not to bend our elbows?

I know that different Sensei can have different bokken kata.. but shouldn't the basic stays the same?:confused: some people teaches the latter part which makes me wonder why it is different from the one being taught by Saito Sensei and all other references I found for that matter..:confused:

This is a good point raised, and not fully understood outside Iwama, These 2 videos he made in Italy of the Buki waza should only be used as guidance for where you place your feet and what the baiscs of each cut look like. The form in Morihiro Saitos should not be copied here as his body was in a a bad way. He had very damaged knees and back problems. There are better videos of Morihiros form out there, if your looking for traditional (Iwama) Aikido Hanmi and form look at his son, this is what his father taught him to look for and study.

sakumeikan
01-17-2012, 02:51 PM
This makes sense. I hear there are Aikidoka out there who spend years training with static wrist grabs before they work on anything flowing.

Dear Cliff,
Doing 'solid /go' 'waza is ok.Too many people do 'flowing /ju' waza too early.Its imo better to do both in a training session Some people even do Ki stuff without any solid or flexible training..Cheers, Joe

Carsten Möllering
01-19-2012, 08:19 AM
Hi Alex thank you for your thoughts.

… most teachers in the lineage of Yamaguchi Sensei practise the
kesagiri cutting style (and a few teach more advanced katas) from Kashima Shinryu, rather than the "Aikiken" of Saito Sensei.
Interesting enough that Yamaguchi himself never really practiced KSR, as far as I know. As Tissier once wrote me, Yamaguchi was just so experienced with the sword that he just assimilated what was brought to the dojo by his students.

though an interesting exception is Yamashima Sensei who, although profoundly
influenced by Yamaguchi, practises Yagyu Shinkage-ryu swordwork).
Which is ryu Yamaguchi sensei practiced in his youth. And which maybe has been the basis of his swordwork?

I wonder whether your liking for TSKSR is precisely because it is in a fundamental way separate from aikido –
Well, you are right insofar as TSKSR and aikido don’t share movements or techniques or something like that.
But the connection of both is even elder then aiki ken. Aikido and TSKSR have strong and old connection at the Sugino dojo. There where people doing both: Katori and aikido long befor aiki ken was born.
So both are fundamental separated but closely connected.

it wasn't developed in order to inform a particular way of doing aikido techniqueIsn’t this also true for “original” KSR?
I’m not sure about the swordwork of Inaba sensei? I think there may have been interaction with the aikido he practiced with Yamaguchi sensei. Tissier to my knowledge sometimes talks about how this swordwork affected his (Tissier’s) aikido.

I would be interested in your thoughts - do you find there are any movements in TSKSR which you feel are incompatible for any reason with the way you understand aikido?
I don’t know enough about Katori to give a competent answer.
Well: Sugino Yoshio and Sugino Yukihiro practice(d) both arts on a high level. Also my teacher does both. Mochizuki integrated both into his Yoseikan budo. There are a whole lot of people who’s names I don’t know, who are happy, doing both arts. And there are the people around me, who practice both arts. It seems to work?

As I said above: What attracts most Is not the waza, not the outer form. But the way they us the “tools”: Body, movement, ki, … things like that.
Few weeks ago my teacher told me about a seminar when Endo sensei asked: "Did you watch me? What did you see? ..." Later in the evening my teacher said to sensei: "You moved your foot." Sensei was happy: "You really saw that?" It's just things like that.

ah and about kesa giri: Endo talks a lot about differentiating kesa giri and yokomen uchi. The suburi Endo does, as far as I feel it is different from the kesa giri Tissier teaches ... ?!
And when practicing sword we do different forms of yokomen uchi.

Alex Megann
01-20-2012, 06:53 AM
Interesting enough that Yamaguchi himself never really practiced KSR, as far as I know. As Tissier once wrote me, Yamaguchi was just so experienced with the sword that he just assimilated what was brought to the dojo by his students.


I had never seen Yamaguchi show any swordwork apart from basic shomen-uchi and nihogiri until I saw William Gleason's "Aikido and Japanese Sword" DVD, where there is a fascinating bit of film of him demonstrating some partner practice that looks - in its style, at least - very much like the ura-dachi of KSR.


I'm not sure about the swordwork of Inaba sensei? I think there may have been interaction with the aikido he practiced with Yamaguchi sensei. Tissier to my knowledge sometimes talks about how this swordwork affected his (Tissier's) aikido.


As I understand it, Inaba was the original source of the KSR influence on aikido, although I think Noguchi Sensei also studied at the KSR (and was one of Sekiya Sensei's teachers). He spent some time studying with Kunii, the then head of KSR, although the KSR these days tend to claim that Inaba missed the point and didn't really understand what he had learnt from Kunii. It would be interesting to speculate how much of the KSR Yamaguchi picked up from Inaba, and how much he worked out for himself...

ah and about kesa giri: Endo talks a lot about differentiating kesa giri and yokomen uchi. The suburi Endo does, as far as I feel it is different from the kesa giri Tissier teaches ... ?!
And when practicing sword we do different forms of yokomen uchi.

That is very interesting - Endo hasn't shown much swordwork in any of the classes of his that I have been in. I would love to see him teaching sword, but as far as I know he has no plans to come to the UK...

I think Endo Sensei is another teacher who absorbs things from others and then over time makes them thoroughly his own. Although he publicly states that Yamaguchi Sensei (as well as O-Sensei, of course) was his main teacher, his aikido certainly doesn't look like a copy.

Alex

sorokod
01-20-2012, 07:18 AM
As I understand it, Inaba was the original source of the KSR influence on aikido, although I think Noguchi Sensei also studied at the KSR (and was one of Sekiya Sensei's teachers). He spent some time studying with Kunii, the then head of KSR, although the KSR these days tend to claim that Inaba missed the point and didn't really understand what he had learnt from Kunii. It would be interesting to speculate how much of the KSR Yamaguchi picked up from Inaba, and how much he worked out for himself...


The view from Kashima : http://www.e-budo.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-3673. Karl Friday has a menkyo kaiden with Kashima Shinryu. I find this quite reasonable:

If one tries to teach Aikido and KSR techniques at the same time one will NOT (cannot) perform the KSR techniques correctly (in so far as "correctness" is defined by members of KSR). The sword techniques and kata taught might share some similarities to KSR, but the key elements (i.e., the very elements that give KSR its unique identity) will either be corrupted or missing altogether. At that point, they no longer are KSR techniques.

Off course, the "correctness" is defined by members of Aikido is much more fluid

Carsten Möllering
01-20-2012, 09:56 AM
As I understand it, Inaba was the original source of the KSR influence on aikido, ...
Yes. But he was already studying with Yamaguchi sensei: "I joined him privately as a student and I studied his movements and ideas. Then my mind and body were ready and I joined Kunii Sensei." (Aikido Journal #120) That's why I think that his view of KSR was affected of what he had learned from Yamaguchi sensei.

That is very interesting - Endo hasn't shown much swordwork in any of the classes of his that I have been in. I would love to see him teaching sword, but as far as I know he has no plans to come to the UK...
I'm sorry: I never saw sensei using a sword. I talked about the tai jutsu suburi he teaches almost everytimes.

The view from Kashima : http://www.e-budo.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-3673. Karl Friday has a menkyo kaiden with Kashima Shinryu. I find this quite reasonable.
The KSR dojo in Frankfurt / Main (which is in Germany) officially doesn't allow people who practice aikido to join the dojo. You have to assure to have stopped doing aikido before you are allowed to start practicing KSR.

Off course, the "correctness" is defined by members of Aikido is much more fluid
As far as I know, this is about the unerstanding of sen no sen, kiri otoshi, and some other issues. And about the internal work of KSR.
Interesting for me: Tissier sensei mentions nearly the same points, when explaining what the swordwork of Inaba gave his aikido.

sorokod
01-20-2012, 11:07 AM
One of the things Karl Friday is saying (paraphrasing slightly) is that if you mix some bits of Aikido into Kashima Shinryu the result is no longer Kashima Shinryu. Do you have a criteria for the opposite, i.e: "if you mix some bits of Kashima Shinryu into Aikido, it is no longer Aikido" ?

Cliff Judge
01-20-2012, 12:06 PM
One of the things Karl Friday is saying (paraphrasing slightly) is that if you mix some bits of Aikido into Kashima Shinryu the result is no longer Kashima Shinryu. Do you have a criteria for the opposite, i.e: "if you mix some bits of Kashima Shinryu into Aikido, it is no longer Aikido" ?

I think the point is more that it is impossible to "mix some bits of Aikido into Kashima Shinryu." Kashima Shinryu is exactly one thing: a transmission of principals using a very specific structure and progression of training methodology, from the founder through licensed instructors to the students they choose to take on and teach.

It isn't that "mixing bits" of Aikido somehow spoils the "brew." it is that there is simply no part of Kashima Shinryu training where a student goes "what if I move like this instead of what I am supposed to do in the kata?" That's just not part of the program. And it would be pointless, because you would be trying to bypass learning something you are supposed to be learning. You are off the kata such that you are not priming yourself to understand a gokui. My take on it, anyway.

The reverse would be fine in most styles of Aikido training IMO. I'm not sure whether to characterize Iwama and Yoshinkan training methods as kata- and gokui-based in a similar way to koryu. If training involves doing certain things as a means to elicit a certain quality of movement or sensitivity in the practitioner, as opposed to obtaining a certain result, I wouldn't mess with it.

sorokod
01-20-2012, 12:20 PM
The reverse would be fine in most styles of Aikido training IMO....

No doubt, but then, in why call them Aikido? Because of inertia and a sign outside?

Cliff Judge
01-20-2012, 12:46 PM
No doubt, but then, in why call them Aikido? Because of inertia and a sign outside?

For the same reason that Hitohiro can call his suburi number one "Aikiken" even though he does not tense his shoulders like his father does. :p

sorokod
01-20-2012, 03:07 PM
Aikido! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=op8eTQcz99E :p

Carsten Möllering
01-21-2012, 12:42 PM
It isn't that "mixing bits" of Aikido somehow spoils the "brew." ...
As far as I was told, the main difference is the "spirit" of fighting. I was told that you can not develop the "true spirit" of KSR when practicing aikido. (Interestingly Tissier often talks about the spirit of the swordwork, derived from KSR by Inaba sensei, being exactly the thing that interested him so much.)
And that you can not reach a true undestanding of the philosophy or esoteric teaching of KSR.

I can't imagine that an aikidoka who enters a koryu thinks about changing the tradition of that koryu?
"what if I move like this instead of what I am supposed to do in the kata?" is simply not imaginable, isn't it? Not when doint KSR. Not when doing TSKSR. Not when doing any other koryu budo.

And I don't think that this is the point: Through my discussions with German members of the KSR I learned, that the decision of not allowing aikidoka to enter the ryu has very deep contentual reasons. They truely think that someone who practices aikido has made decisions - in his mind and his body - which don't allow him to use body and mind to do what has to be done or to think was has to be thought when doing KSR.

With regard to the understanding of kata in aikido: As far as I am concerned I learned an learn aikido through practicing kihon no kata. Precise movements, static in the most basic form, bearing the same feeling like doing kata in kenjutsu.
I can't imagine how it is possible to "elicit a certain quality of movement or sensitivity in the practitioner" if not by doing the precise kata over and over again.

Robert Cowham
01-22-2012, 06:56 PM
I believe that Inaba sensei has relatively recently decided to use Kashima no Tachi as the name for what he learnt during his 1.5 years with Kunii sensei, and his subsequent studies.

When I asked him why he continued to teach Aikido taijutsu along with kenjutsu, he told me that he finds it is important for developing yawarami (soft body) - which aids kenjutsu. Of course in my experience there are more than a few shihan and senior aikidoka (of a variety of lineages) who don't exactly feel very soft :)

hughrbeyer
01-22-2012, 07:01 PM
Aikido! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=op8eTQcz99E :p

OMG. Every time you think you've seen the worst... this is even more appalling than the ribbons.

sorokod
01-23-2012, 01:53 AM
I believe that Inaba sensei has relatively recently decided to use Kashima no Tachi as the name for what he learnt during his 1.5 years with Kunii sensei, and his subsequent studies.

When I asked him why he continued to teach Aikido taijutsu along with kenjutsu, he told me that he finds it is important for developing yawarami (soft body) - which aids kenjutsu. Of course in my experience there are more than a few shihan and senior aikidoka (of a variety of lineages) who don't exactly feel very soft :)

Its an interesting reversal of ratios where, if I understood correctly, a "bit" of Aikido added informs his KSR based kenjitsu.

Robert Cowham
01-23-2012, 08:12 AM
Its an interesting reversal of ratios where, if I understood correctly, a "bit" of Aikido added informs his KSR based kenjitsu.
Like many things - I think it's a little more complicated than that :)

Aikido is a broad church - many different styles, many different connections through to Hombu, different personal contacts and relationships etc. Lucky for us - there are all sorts of different teachers and styles to go to and learn from - who appeals to us personally, by their technique, by their effectiveness, by their spirituality or by their character or some combination!

Cliff Judge
01-23-2012, 08:27 AM
Aikido is a broad church - many different styles, many different connections through to Hombu, different personal contacts and relationships etc. Lucky for us - there are all sorts of different teachers and styles to go to and learn from - who appeals to us personally, by their technique, by their effectiveness, by their spirituality or by their character or some combination!

Just FYI, this view does not seem to be shared by the entire Aikido community. :)

Robert Cowham
01-23-2012, 09:03 AM
Just FYI, this view does not seem to be shared by the entire Aikido community. :)

Indeed - but "you pays yer money and makes yer choice"! Luckily I am not responsible for other people's choices :) And when I get too tempted, I try and remind myself:

http://xkcd.com/386/

Cliff Judge
01-23-2012, 10:22 AM
And I don't think that this is the point: Through my discussions with German members of the KSR I learned, that the decision of not allowing aikidoka to enter the ryu has very deep contentual reasons. They truely think that someone who practices aikido has made decisions - in his mind and his body - which don't allow him to use body and mind to do what has to be done or to think was has to be thought when doing KSR.

I don't buy it. It seems much more likely that the lion's share of unsuitable candidates their instructor gets knocking on his door are Aikidoka and want to train in the source of Tissier's sword, so he's come up with a blanket excuse for a default "no."

I could see requiring new students to drop all other arts entirely because you have to start with a clean slate, or even requiring that new students have an established skill-set of some kind or else they are required to cross-train in something specific.

Given how diverse Aikido styles are in their training and emphasis, it really seems like there is something else going on if the prohibition is particularly against Aikidoka.

phitruong
01-23-2012, 10:35 AM
Indeed - but "you pays yer money and makes yer choice"!

hey, pay per view aikido! now there is an idea that we can make money out of. :)

sorokod
01-23-2012, 10:46 AM
Aikido is a broad church ... This is factually true, weather it is good or bad is examined here.

Will your dojo, the Tetsushinkan, will now advertise " Kashima no Tachi" as it's kenjitsu discipline instead of KSR?

Carsten Möllering
01-24-2012, 02:30 AM
I don't buy it. It seems much more likely that the lion's share of unsuitable candidates their instructor gets knocking on his door are Aikidoka and want to train in the source of Tissier's sword, I'm sorry, but: Nope, don't hink so.

One of the two German aikikai affiliated federations is lead by Tissier and Endo. (This is the one I belong to.) So Tissier's aikido and swordwork is well represented in Germany. Lot of dojo, lot of seminars. All over the country, all over the year. Also Inaba himself is teaching in Germany. And there are even dojo, where his swordwork is taught independently of aikido.
So, there is a very good infrastructure and publicity, a lot of dojo, where you can find Tissier's sword. And in Frankfurt Tissier is very well represented for over twenty years now. It was one point in Germany where Tissier's (and also Endo's) way in Germany started long long ago. (When I began to practice about 18 year ago, it already had spread out into the whole country.)

I just try to tell you, that it is clearly not such "organisational" issues which cause the mentionede prohibition and the - in Germany well known - conflicts between KSR and aikido.
Someone who knows who Tissier is and who wants to learn his swordwork will "never" end up asking at the KSR shibu. He won't even find it without help.

Some years ago I had long and interesting conversations with a member (not the one holding the menkyo kaiden) of the German shibu of the KSR. And it became very clear, that the ban of aikidoka in the KSR shibu is founded in the teachings of the ryu. It seems to become evident when you practice long enough to understand what Frieday calls "the kabbala" of the ryu: The inner teachings, the "ura" doctrine.
Whether it is true that there is such a deep gap between the inner teachings of KSR and aikido I am not able to judge.

I could see requiring new students to drop all other arts entirely ...
...the prohibition is particularly against Aikidoka.
There exist, as far as I know, only three European shibu of the KSR. In 2008/9 when I was in contact with the shibu in Frankfurt/Germany they indeed required to drop all other arts entirely: No aikido, no kendo, no other koryu budo, even no boxing or tai chi.
Maybe things have changed since then concerning other arts. But aikido is still excluded.

... it really seems like there is something else going on ...
Yes, I think this indeed is true nevertheless.
A complicated, all too human story maybe ...

Robert Cowham
01-24-2012, 02:47 AM
There exist, as far as I know, only three European shibu of the KSR. In 2008/9 when I was in contact with the shibu in Frankfurt/Germany they indeed required to drop all other arts entirely: No aikido, no kendo, no other koryu budo, even no boxing or tai chi.
Maybe things have changed since then conerning other arts. aikido is still excluded.

Yes, I think this indeed is true nevertheless.
A complicated, all too human story maybe ...
Some years ago when I was in Japan I was given an intro to the KSR group practicing at Tokyo University and went along on a Saturday to see if I could train. By chance Seki sensei (KSR Shihanke) was in town, and obviously he took the class. When I asked if I could train, he immediately asked if I was Tanaka sensei's student and I replied that I was Inaba sensei's student. He then said that he had had some other people come asking to train, and he had sent them away to get permission from Tanaka/Inaba (and they hadn't come back). When I mentioned that I had already discussed this with Inaba sensei who had no problems with people training elsewhere, he thought for a moment and then said that if I took the responsibility, he would allow me to join the class. I enjoyed it, and we had a beer and nibbles afterwards - very friendly group. I was given permission to return the following week "but only for kihondachi". Unfortunately that was the week I had a kidney stone (high summer and not hydrating enough while practicing - watch out!) so I was unable to :(

Moral of the story perhaps is that life can be easier if you talk to the head guy :) On a related note, I have had a very pleasant lunch with Karl Friday on a different trip to Tokyo.

I would be happy to train again (but not if I had to renounce all other arts etc...)

Robert Cowham
01-24-2012, 02:50 AM
This is factually true, weather it is good or bad is examined here.

Will your dojo, the Tetsushinkan, will now advertise " Kashima no Tachi" as it's kenjitsu discipline instead of KSR?
Am sure it will happen with a future update etc. I run my own dojo, though am still a member at Tetsushinkan - so not so directly involved with web site etc.

Carsten Möllering
01-24-2012, 03:43 AM
... Moral of the story perhaps is that life can be easier if you talk to the head guy :)
Yes, I often witnessed that things are more "relaxed" near the "real center". And if you ask the right person in the right way.

Cliff Judge
01-24-2012, 08:42 AM
Some years ago I had long and interesting conversations with a member (not the one holding the menkyo kaiden) of the German shibu of the KSR. And it became very clear, that the ban of aikidoka in the KSR shibu is founded in the teachings of the ryu. It seems to become evident when you practice long enough to understand what Frieday calls "the kabbala" of the ryu: The inner teachings, the "ura" doctrine.
Whether it is true that there is such a deep gap between the inner teachings of KSR and aikido I am not able to judge.

Okay so nobody in Kashima Shinryu trains Aikido, yet they understand Aikido so well that they know they don't want new students who practice Aikido. But that should come as no surprise since the ban against aikidoka is built into the okuden of the ryu - so they've obviously banned aikidoka from training for hundreds of years before Aikido ever existed! :p

Sorry, this just gets sillier and sillier to me. It makes more and more sense, though, particularly if Tissier's teachings are as widespread as you say, that at some point the ryu decided that the Aikido organizations posed a real threat to the proper continuation of their art. They don't want to be invited to Aikido seminars, they don't want people coming to train and then showing their friends at the Aikido dojo stuff they don't understand yet, etc. Presumably other arts don't pose as much of a threat in that regard because they are not open-ended like Aikido is.

Sorry for the argumentativeness, Carsten - it's not you I am arguing with, its this omote cultishness that seems to impy that Aikido training damages someone's budo permanently.

Alex Megann
01-24-2012, 09:14 AM
Okay so nobody in Kashima Shinryu trains Aikido, yet they understand Aikido so well that they know they don't want new students who practice Aikido. But that should come as no surprise since the ban against aikidoka is built into the okuden of the ryu - so they've obviously banned aikidoka from training for hundreds of years before Aikido ever existed! :p


There exist, as far as I know, only three European shibu of the KSR. In 2008/9 when I was in contact with the shibu in Frankfurt/Germany they indeed required to drop all other arts entirely: No aikido, no kendo, no other koryu budo, even no boxing or tai chi.

Given Carsten's statement, it doesn't look to me that they are discriminating about aikido in particular! It seems to me quite reasonable that the statutes of the ryu might forbit cross-training in any other discipline.

Alex

Fred Little
01-24-2012, 09:49 AM
Okay so nobody in Kashima Shinryu trains Aikido, yet they understand Aikido so well that they know they don't want new students who practice Aikido. But that should come as no surprise since the ban against aikidoka is built into the okuden of the ryu - so they've obviously banned aikidoka from training for hundreds of years before Aikido ever existed! :p

Sorry, this just gets sillier and sillier to me. It makes more and more sense, though, particularly if Tissier's teachings are as widespread as you say, that at some point the ryu decided that the Aikido organizations posed a real threat to the proper continuation of their art. They don't want to be invited to Aikido seminars, they don't want people coming to train and then showing their friends at the Aikido dojo stuff they don't understand yet, etc. Presumably other arts don't pose as much of a threat in that regard because they are not open-ended like Aikido is.

Sorry for the argumentativeness, Carsten - it's not you I am arguing with, its this omote cultishness that seems to impy that Aikido training damages someone's budo permanently.

Hiya Cliff,

I think it is fair to say that there are several elements of the problem, from the KSR side. From my conversations with one senior practitioner of KSR, (and this is a summary of my understanding, not a verbatim quote) the first part of the problem is the variance between the comparatively homogenous and settled inner kabbala of KSR on the one side, and the comparatively heterogenous and unsettled inner kabbala of aikido on the other. The second part of the problem is the tendency of many aikido practitioners to study a koryu art for the primary purpose of improving their aikido, as distinct from the purpose of learning and inculcating the complete movement system and attitudinal structure of the koryu art. The third part of the problem, even if the first two problems are rendered moot, is that yes, whether you like it or not, it is precisely the view of senior KSR practitioners that Aikido training most certainly can permanently damage one's ability to develop and manifest the teachings of KSR. The resistance of aikido practitioners to this possibility is, from their perspective, evidence of the fundamental problem.

For a pernicious thought experiment, try imagining what might happen if Kenny G were to ask Branford Marsalis for saxophone lessons so he could get a little of that New Orleans feeling into his next release.:straightf

YMMV,

FL

Cliff Judge
01-24-2012, 10:01 AM
Given Carsten's statement, it doesn't look to me that they are discriminating about aikido in particular! It seems to me quite reasonable that the statutes of the ryu might forbit cross-training in any other discipline.

Alex

You seem to be eliding over quite a bit of what Carsten has posted.

As far as I was told, the main difference is the "spirit" of fighting. I was told that you can not develop the "true spirit" of KSR when practicing aikido. (Interestingly Tissier often talks about the spirit of the swordwork, derived from KSR by Inaba sensei, being exactly the thing that interested him so much.)
And that you can not reach a true undestanding of the philosophy or esoteric teaching of KSR.


And I don't think that this is the point: Through my discussions with German members of the KSR I learned, that the decision of not allowing aikidoka to enter the ryu has very deep contentual reasons. They truely think that someone who practices aikido has made decisions - in his mind and his body - which don't allow him to use body and mind to do what has to be done or to think was has to be thought when doing KSR.

ISome years ago I had long and interesting conversations with a member (not the one holding the menkyo kaiden) of the German shibu of the KSR. And it became very clear, that the ban of aikidoka in the KSR shibu is founded in the teachings of the ryu. It seems to become evident when you practice long enough to understand what Frieday calls "the kabbala" of the ryu: The inner teachings, the "ura" doctrine.
Whether it is true that there is such a deep gap between the inner teachings of KSR and aikido I am not able to judge.

There exist, as far as I know, only three European shibu of the KSR. In 2008/9 when I was in contact with the shibu in Frankfurt/Germany they indeed required to drop all other arts entirely: No aikido, no kendo, no other koryu budo, even no boxing or tai chi.
Maybe things have changed since then concerning other arts. But aikido is still excluded.

And let me reiterate something I have said, that it is fully reasonable for Kashima Shinryu instructors to choose the students they want to teach, for whatever reasons, and to give the public any story they want to give about why they chose them.

I just think the stuff that Carsten is saying - which is just his own experience talking to members of the group in Germany, I hope everyone realizes - makes them sound kind of crazy.

Carsten Möllering
01-24-2012, 11:01 AM
the stuff that Carsten is saying - which is just his own experience talking to members of the group in Germany, I hope everyone realizes - ...
Indeed: This is just my experience, recounted with my words! And it is just my understanding of those conversations!

... - makes them sound kind of crazy
I apologize honestly if I misrepresented any conceptions or views of the KSR!
I didn't mean to give a wrong impression of the teachings or doctrins of the ryu.

I am sorry for having brought up this issue, which I know is a very sensitive one.

califax
01-24-2012, 11:21 AM
Given Carsten's statement, it doesn't look to me that they are discriminating about aikido in particular! It seems to me quite reasonable that the statutes of the ryu might forbit cross-training in any other discipline.


They ban BBT too. Though you might be accepted as long as you're still undergraduate and promise to leave the Bujinkan.

Cliff Judge
01-24-2012, 01:19 PM
Indeed: This is just my experience, recounted with my words! And it is just my understanding of those conversations!

I apologize honestly if I misrepresented any conceptions or views of the KSR!
I didn't mean to give a wrong impression of the teachings or doctrins of the ryu.

I am sorry for having brought up this issue, which I know is a very sensitive one.

I don't think you've done anything wrong by sharing your experiences here. I think it would be much worse if you had ever trained in Kashima Shinryu and you were actually talking about their teachings or doctrines. You and I should be able to talk about the omote face of a ryu we are not part of all we want, that's why its omote. :)

Robert Cowham
01-24-2012, 04:39 PM
To move the thread slightly perhaps:

Inaba sensei happily teaches Kashima no Tachi (kenjutsu) to Aikido people of a variety of different backgrounds who are interested. For example, as is fairly well known/documented, Tissier sensei studied with Inaba sensei and has fairly widely disseminated his understanding of the various kata and principles that he learned some 30 years ago.

Said (interested) people are often "quite happy with their (aikikai) taijutsu" (and indeed need to keep grading in a particular style/school so they need to (be able to) do techniques in a particular way) but they just want to learn some "kenjutsu" alongside what they currently do.

For those who have practiced with him, Inaba sensei's taijutsu emphasizes particular principles: yawarami (soft body), relaxation, directness, focus on tanden, effectiveness of technique etc. The outward manifestation tends to be different from various other styles (but bear in mind he has Yamaguchi sensei influence - though various Yamaguchi students are different to each other).

So, my questions (personal answer(s) to follow at a suitable point in the discussion):

- why is such training interesting to aikidoka (what does it add that they aren't currently getting from their current training/teaching)?

- can you just "add kenjutsu" to your aikido without changing the way you perform your existing techniques?

- what might (or indeed has to) change in your aikido (techniques or the way you perform them) to incorporate any such understanding (which is at a deeper level than just surface form)?

- what do you "not like" in Inaba sensei's taijutsu forms (if you have had exposure to them) - and why?

I look forward to some views - indeed I hope a genuine exchange could prove rather interesting :)

At this point I am purposely keeping the questions to a more technical level. Note that I am in no way a speaker for Inaba sensei - I am researching my own way having had some years of study with him - and indeed been encouraged by him to explore other teachings. I am hoping to pick other people's brains to help my own study and understanding :)

Cliff Judge
01-24-2012, 04:57 PM
I have probably done the most damage to the integrity of this thread of anybody posting here, so let me be the guy to point out that if we want to discuss Inaba Sensei's Kashima Shinryu and the way kenjutsu training can connect with Aikido training in general, we should really do so in a new thread.

Chris Li
01-24-2012, 05:20 PM
To move the thread slightly perhaps:

Inaba sensei happily teaches Kashima no Tachi (kenjutsu) to Aikido people of a variety of different backgrounds who are interested. For example, as is fairly well known/documented, Tissier sensei studied with Inaba sensei and has fairly widely disseminated his understanding of the various kata and principles that he learned some 30 years ago.

As I understand it, Inaba had only a very limited amount of training, and has permission to teach only a very small portion of the curriculum in the context of an Aikido class:

http://blog.aikidojournal.com/2009/03/12/from-aj-forum-on-kashima-shin-ryu-and-aikido/

Best,

Chris

Robert Cowham
01-24-2012, 05:48 PM
As I understand it, Inaba had only a very limited amount of training, and has permission to teach only a very small portion of the curriculum in the context of an Aikido class:

http://blog.aikidojournal.com/2009/03/12/from-aj-forum-on-kashima-shin-ryu-and-aikido/

As per my comment on that thread - the information presented is from a single point of view and not necessarily the whole truth.

I understand that Inaba sensei had 17 months of training with Kunii sensei (thus 1.5 years which is quoted elsewhere - certainly more than the "less than a year" dismissive comment). The certificate he received was posthumous (of Kunii sensei). As I understand it, some (personal) communications (between Kunii sensei and Inaba sensei and others) shed a slightly different light to the statements in the blog entry - more than that I cannot say without breaking confidences.

Life is not always simple - especially when you include people and their egos :)

Alex Megann
01-25-2012, 06:09 AM
A question, completely off topic, for Robert, but since you are clearly following this thread I thought I would take the opportunity to ask.

There is a "Paul Smith" listed as being promoted to 6 Dan in the list (http://www.aikikai.or.jp/jpn/info/2012/pdf/h24.pdf) on the Aikikai site. Is this the Paul Smith at Tetsushinkan?

I only ask because I see no mention of any promotion on the Tetsushinkan website. If it is, I will need to pass on my congratulations :)

Alex

Alex Megann
01-25-2012, 06:13 AM
- what do you "not like" in Inaba sensei's taijutsu forms (if you have had exposure to them) - and why?



Actually I find it difficult to have any opinion about Inaba Sensei's taijutsu, partly because I have never managed to get to a class with him, but also because every clip I have found so far on YouTube is of his swordwork. Is there anything on line of him showing aikido?

Alex

Cliff Judge
01-25-2012, 09:00 AM
As per my comment on that thread - the information presented is from a single point of view and not necessarily the whole truth.

I understand that Inaba sensei had 17 months of training with Kunii sensei (thus 1.5 years which is quoted elsewhere - certainly more than the "less than a year" dismissive comment). The certificate he received was posthumous (of Kunii sensei). As I understand it, some (personal) communications (between Kunii sensei and Inaba sensei and others) shed a slightly different light to the statements in the blog entry - more than that I cannot say without breaking confidences.

Life is not always simple - especially when you include people and their egos :)

It's not just that 17 years is "more than 'less than a year'"...it is quite sufficient time for a master swordsman who is reasonably good at teaching to turn the goods over to a bright student. Particularly if that was 17 months of daily training sessions, and the teacher and student had a very good rapport, which are two things i have read allusions of.

The rule rather than the exception in the life of the koryu in modern times is: the headmaster dies, and some number of senior students fail to find adequate motivation to follow the new headmaster. Since every ryu has its own unique criteria and process for licensing, you wind up with some talented individuals without menkyo kaiden going outside of the umbrella of the ryu. And if they happen to attract lots of students and build organizations, the reaction of the folks back at headquarters is going to range from dismissal to petulant derision. Which can then be magnified by foreign students who grew up in cultures where people speak their minds more plainly than they do in Japan.

Fred Little
01-25-2012, 11:45 AM
It's not just that 17 years is "more than 'less than a year'"...it is quite sufficient time for a master swordsman who is reasonably good at teaching to turn the goods over to a bright student. Particularly if that was 17 months of daily training sessions, and the teacher and student had a very good rapport, which are two things i have read allusions of.

The rule rather than the exception in the life of the koryu in modern times is: the headmaster dies, and some number of senior students fail to find adequate motivation to follow the new headmaster. Since every ryu has its own unique criteria and process for licensing, you wind up with some talented individuals without menkyo kaiden going outside of the umbrella of the ryu. And if they happen to attract lots of students and build organizations, the reaction of the folks back at headquarters is going to range from dismissal to petulant derision. Which can then be magnified by foreign students who grew up in cultures where people speak their minds more plainly than they do in Japan.

Cliff,

The unequivocal testimony of senior practitioners of KSR is that:

a) Inaba was given access to a very limited portion of the curriculum, for a very limited period of time, and that the combination of circumstances was insufficient to give him "the goods" (which goods are swordsmanship as practiced in KSR, as distinct from a marked improvement in his swordsmanship above that of run-of-the-mill aikiken).

b) part of the original terms of license, if you will, were restrictions on the circumstances under which he could teach and the way in which he could represent the material.

c) a number of his students, some of them very senior in the world of aikido have -- for many years, with his apparent blessing and/or collusion, have -- widely advertised what he taught them, and by extension what they are teaching, as KSR. In so doing, they have embarrassed themselves, called their own integrity and good faith into question, and tarred everyone else doing aikido by association.

d) in a counterpoint to your final graph, one might suggest that (increasingly) the rule rather than the exception in aikido is that, faced with the absence of one or another key element in the art of aikido as taught in their line, a number of students of one or another shihan seek out talented individuals who have received more substantive training in that area from a koryu art, but no longer abide by the school's restrictions on when, where, and to whom that material may be taught. They then study with that individual and publicly represent their studies with that individual as legitimate koryu. Sadly, because aikidoka almost all refrain from speaking their minds in a forthright fashion when it comes to the obvious foibles of senior aikidoka, that this scenario raises questions regarding both the technical accuracy of the instruction, the lineal accuracy of the representation, or the integrity of the individuals involved in passing off as genuine koryu arts what are, at best, unauthorized knock-offs and, at worst, cheap counterfeits, is not only studiously ignored by all concerned, but rationalizations for this bad behavior are actively promulgated.

In this light, the decision by the KSR head office to decline to instruct anyone actively involved with aikido seems not at all "cultish." Rather, it makes a great deal of sense, even if one does not credit their explanation of the essential contradictions between the arts, on the grounds that they simply wish to insure that they are only taking on people of good character -- by their definition of "good character," in which definition understanding their ground rules and abiding by them is a key element.

YMMV.

Best,

FL

Robert Cowham
01-25-2012, 11:48 AM
A question, completely off topic, for Robert, but since you are clearly following this thread I thought I would take the opportunity to ask.

There is a "Paul Smith" listed as being promoted to 6 Dan in the list (http://www.aikikai.or.jp/jpn/info/2012/pdf/h24.pdf) on the Aikikai site. Is this the Paul Smith at Tetsushinkan?

That's the one - well deserved in my opinion - but perhaps I'm biased :)

Robert Cowham
01-25-2012, 02:01 PM
The unequivocal testimony of senior practitioners of KSR is that:

a) Inaba was given access to a very limited portion of the curriculum, for a very limited period of time, and that the combination of circumstances was insufficient to give him "the goods" (which goods are swordsmanship as practiced in KSR, as distinct from a marked improvement in his swordsmanship above that of run-of-the-mill aikiken).

Hi Fred

This is a case where different stories are coming from different people - "senior practitioners of KSR" vs Inaba sensei (and others). I have had unequivocal testimony from Inaba sensei! In the absence of independent third parties (and it's over 40 years ago), it's a "he said, she said" scenario - with obvious motivations/bias on both sides - so people have to make up their own minds as to who to believe.

Apparently there may be some relevant articles in "Akamon Aikido" a bulletin published by Tokyo Daigaku Aikidobu and Akamon Aikido Club back in the 70's - no idea if any archives exist.

I am not comfortable saying much more on the topic in a public forum - but did wish to at least present the fact that there is another side to the story - more than just the one sided version previously put out on the web. If you wish to discount it, that's your prerogative.

Regards
Robert

Stephen Nichol
02-08-2012, 12:54 AM
how should we do shomen uchi using bokken? should we open our elbows like in this video of Morihiro Saito Sensei http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y1iXm89jI0 or should we form a triangle with our elbows and body so that the elbows are closer to each other and not to bend our elbows?

I know that different Sensei can have different bokken kata.. but shouldn't the basic stays the same?:confused: some people teaches the latter part which makes me wonder why it is different from the one being taught by Saito Sensei and all other references I found for that matter..:confused::yuck:

Hi David,

This thread has gone all over the place and with the best intentions. I hope you have not given up on it already.

My experience for what it is worth is this:

Even within Iwama Ryu as handed down from Saito Sensei, I have found several Sensei, many who trained for years with Saito Sensei, 4th Dan through 7th Dan who all have a slight variation/nuance or personal 'take' on the basic suburi.

They all have very logical reasons for them and when you practice them they do make sense in how the weapon work makes sense in as far as it pertains to Aikido.

Our own Sensei who has trained with many of these other Sensei and even Saito Sensei, says that it is best to train as your head Sensei or Shihan instructs but to learn and understand what you can from other Sensei and take from them what you can/will.

So in short, while you are just getting started, do not sweat the small stuff. ;)

Stephen Nichol
02-08-2012, 02:56 PM
For my above post I have no idea how or why the 'yuck' face apears at the top. I posted from my phone and so something must have gone wrong somewhere and now it will not allow me to edit my own post so this is my only option.

No intention with 'yuck' at all on my part that is for certain.

sakumeikan
02-09-2012, 06:09 AM
That's the one - well deserved in my opinion - but perhaps I'm biased :)

Dear Robert,
My recollection of Paul Smith Sensei is based on the time he was a member of the A.G.B. He then as far as I am aware studied with Sekiya Sensei. Since then I have lost touch with him. He was always a good person to train with.He was an ex dancer and had as one would expect good overall posture . He might well remember me fro way back. Cheers, Joe.

Alex Megann
02-09-2012, 07:50 AM
Dear Robert,
My recollection of Paul Smith Sensei is based on the time he was a member of the A.G.B. He then as far as I am aware studied with Sekiya Sensei. Since then I have lost touch with him. He was always a good person to train with.He was an ex dancer and had as one would expect good overall posture . He might well remember me fro way back. Cheers, Joe.

To add to that, if I remember correctly, Paul started off as quite a young man as almost an uchideshi to Chiba Sensei, but after a few years quit aikido for a while. He then reappeared some time later, to everyone's surprise, at one of Kanetsuka Sensei's classes in Oxford, and thereafter was a very regular member of the BAF for quite a few years, during which time I attended many weekend courses that Paul hosted with KS at his dojo at the London Contemporary Dance School in Euston. Paul somehow managed to get the LCDS to sponsor a trip to Japan to study for several months with Yamaguchi Sensei and Inaba Sensei. He was already a favoured partner of Kanetsuka Sensei's in the Kashima Shinryu kihondachi partner work (which he originally learned from Sekiya Sensei), and after Paul returned from Japan I got the impression that Kanetsuka Sensei was keen to absorb what he had learned from Inaba Sensei.

To echo Joe's comments, Paul has a natural grace and elegance in his aikido, and I remember someone saying about him that "that guy definitely doesn't sit behind a desk all day"...

Alex

wbodiford
03-22-2012, 06:34 PM
I cannot address the original topic, "bokken suburi questions," but I want to respond to two issues that arose in the subsequent responses in regard to Kashima-Shinryu. First, Kashima-Shinryu does not discriminate against applicants who practice Aikido (or anything else). Rather, the rules simply state: "In the interest of maintaining Kashima-Shinryu's integrity as a traditional form of Japanese culture, on-going membership in other martial art organizations is prohibited" (http://www.kashima-shinryu.jp/English/contact.html).

Second, the "he said vs. she said" analogy is entirely misleading, in so far as it suggests a private dispute about which outsiders can have no knowledge. To see why it is so misleading, you need merely to look at *who* says *what* in public. For the purposes of this discussion we can even ignore Prof. Seki and focus exclusively on what other people say.

[1] The Soke (head of the Kunii family) of Kashima-Shinryu says that Prof. Seki is the Shihanke (headmaster). The 20th generation Soke, Kunii Michitomo, was interviewed across two issues of "Gokui" magazine (summer and autumn 1997). He pointedly did not mention Mr. Inaba once. Instead, the interview began with a text box that identifies Kunii Michitomo as the oldest son of Kunii Zen'ya and Prof. Seki as Zen'ya's successor who represents the Soke in teaching and directing Kashima-Shinryu ("Gokui", summer 1997, p 38). This relationship continues today under the current Soke, Kunii Masakatsu.

[2] Kunii Zen'ya says so, as testified by his own handwriting --- clearly reproduced in plate 14 of "Legacies of the Sword" --- where he addresses Prof. Seki as "Kashima-Shinryu Shihanke." (Many documents & scrolls written by Kunii Zen'ya exist and the distinguishing features of his handwriting are easily recognizable.)

[3] The Kashima Jingu Shrine says so, as indicated (again) by plate 6 of "Legacies of the Sword," which shows Prof. Seki demonstrating Kashima-Shinryu at the shrine. In the Spring of each year The Kashima Jingu sponsors a martial art demonstration in honor of Tsukuhara Bokuden. Once every 12 years the shrine also sponsors a martial art demonstration as part of a special boat festival (conducted along with the Katori Jingu Shrine). The shrine always invites Prof. Seki and his students (no one else) to demonstrate Kashima-Shinryu at these events.

Testimony by the current Soke, the previous Soke, the handwriting of Kunii Zen'ya, and the Kashima Jingu should provide more than sufficient evidence. But if anyone needs to hear from an independent third party, then [4] the Japanese government also says so. The government has granted Prof. Seki exclusive legal rights to the name "Kashima-Shinryu" in relation to martial art activities of any form. The Japanese government does not grant this kind of legal privilege lightly, but only after conducting a thorough investigation during which all evidence --- including objections or counter claims (if any exist) --- receives full consideration.

Now what does Mr. Inaba say? Robert Cowham suggests that the "Akamon Aikido" club bulletin should record relevant information. Libraries do not seem to preserve copies of that bulletin. In searching for it, though, I came across a copy of "Tokyo Daigaku Aikidobu Gojunen Shi" (2004), a thick (342 pages) compilation of historical information about the first 50 years of the Aikido Club at Tokyo University. It does reprint 4 issues of the club bulletin, but each of them consist of essays written by Mr. Tanaka Shigeho, the founder and chief instructor (shihan) of the club. Out of the book's 99 subsections, 8 are by (or concern) Mr. Tanaka and 3 are by Mr. Inaba. Even these 3 are interesting though.

The first one consists of a brief (2 page) salutation to congratulate the club on its 50th anniversary. In it Mr. Inaba recounts how when he first arrived at Tokyo Univ., he decided to demonstrate Kashima-Shinryu battojutsu kata during the university's May festival even though he had no prior experience at performing these kata ("keiken wa nakkata"). He describes his demonstration as a heroic accomplishment, achieved through sheer determination and insight. The other two consist of reprints from other publications. There is a short essay in which Mr. Inaba discusses the meaning of the term "ai-ki" as used in the teachings of various swordsmen, such as Chiba Shusaku, Yamada Jirokichi, Yamaoka Tesshu (etc.). In this essay he never mentions Kunii Zen'ya. The other is an interview from "Aiki News" magazine (Winter 2000) on the concepts of "jutsu" and "do" in Aikido. In this interview Mr. Inaba does mention Kunii Zen'ya, but since the interview focuses on Aikido the remarks about Kunii lack any narrative thread.

Inaba presents a more straightforward account of his relationship with Kunii Zen'ya in an interview that appears in the Spring 1997 issue of "Gokui" magazine, which ran a cover story about Kunii Zen'ya. Below I translate in full the section where Mr. Inaba addresses the question about his training under Kunii Zen'ya.

<quote>
---- Question: [Can you tell us about your] "Meeting Kunii sensei?"

Inaba: "When I first met Kunii sensei I was accompanying my Aikido instructor Tanaka Shigeho and my senpai [senior student in Aikido] Shimada [Kazushige]. I was just a second-year student at Meiji University. I did not know anything about Kunii sensei (smiles). Therefore, thinking 'is it alright for me to go along?,' I accompanied them, and that was the first time (smiles). As soon as I met him I was enchanted. I felt that 'here is a person who earnestly and truly has devoted his life to budo,' and right then and there I requested permission to join his dojo.

"But, after I became his student, at first I received absolutely no instruction from him. Because I was the most junior student, the training sessions would end while Kunii sensei was still working out with the senior students. Therefore, each of my training sessions was spent practicing jujutsu. At that time I thought to myself, 'I did not come here to learn jujutsu!' Kunii sensei, though, taught that one must learn jujutsu before learning swordsmanship.

"But I could not bear the waiting, unable to learn the sword as I wanted. For another whole week he [Kunii sensei] did not give me any lessons at all. Then I begin to think: 'If Kunii sensei will not give me a lesson, I am going to quit . . . .' [ellipsis in the original]

"Just around that time, by chance there was a rainy day. When I showed up at the dojo, I was the only one there. Kunii sensei came out and said: 'O.k. I will practice with you.' That was the first time he taught me sword.

"Until then I had never used a sword [i.e., bokuto] in his dojo. But I had been watching the senpai [senior students] and I had memorized all their movements. Kunii sensei said: 'Cut like this.' And without thinking I just did it. He said: 'Oh, the angle of your stroke is very good.' Because I had been anticipating this moment all week, it made the number-one strongest impression [on me]. I was so happy (smiles).

"At that time Kunii sensei was 70 years old. He died at 72. Therefore, I just barely had time to meet him. Karmic connections are really important!"
</quote>

I think the public record speaks volumes. It is readily accessible to anyone who wishes to examine it. To return to the first issue: the words "maintaining Kashima-Shinryu's integrity as a traditional form of Japanese culture" might seem abstract or vague to some people, but these words have definite and concrete implications. At the very least they mean that one should not attempt to dismantle Kashima-Shinryu by rejecting part of its curriculum (such as its jujutsu) and focusing only on other parts (such as swordsmanship). They almost certainly mean that in traditional Japanese culture one should respect the authority of the school's Soke and respect the determinations of the shrine with which the school identifies itself. They even mean that if one has not been taught how to perform the school's kata, then one should not attempt to demonstrate them in public (or teach them to others). Much more could be said, but I will stop here.

. . . . William Bodiford

Robert Cowham
10-19-2012, 05:13 PM
I dip in and out of Aikiweb and due to the way forums are marked as read, I don't always notice that responses have been made to threads in which I have participated - so rather belatedly:

Inaba sensei has documented his version of the story, but so far in a version not issued to more than a few hundred students. As and when it becomes public it may answer some of the points above, including as it does quotes from correspondence from Kunii sensei.

Interestingly I believe that Kunii sensei's daughter was present at the ceremony to mark the 35th anniversary of the Shiseikan...

sourceone
01-04-2013, 12:24 AM
What ive been told from someone who has trained with Saito Sensei is that it is proper to put your elbows out. this translates to arm movement in some taijutsu.

Ethan Weisgard
02-13-2013, 04:11 PM
In regard to the video clip showing Saito Sensei doing the bokken suburi - he taught us to not let the elbows stick out. I have to admit that the clip is showing him using the elbows a bit much. This footage is from 1985, if I remember correctly. In later footage from the late 80s and into the 1990s you can find him doing the cuts with less elbow protrusion.

He was extremely dynamic in his movements in the 1970s and earlier - as can be seen in the great footage from Iwama from 1964. In the mid-1980s he was working on a lot of the forms - this was when the 31 kata kumi jo was developed - with quite a few variations along the way - all great! Sadly, his knees - which troubled him from an early age and on - were weakening more and more. so some of the tai sabaki and foot adjustments were less than they should have been. In the 1980s he would often say when teaching: "Don't copy my foot movements, my knees are bad." He would then explain how the moves should be done. Later on he stopped saying that he had bad knees, so his tai sabaki would sometimes be minimized, but sometimes the students weren't aware of this. It was beautiful, all the same, in my opinion.
I believe that Saito Sensei's form in his weapons work really gelled in the 1990s, even though his knees were troubling him. There was an effortless smoothness and flow, coupled with great kime and zanshin that he had from that period and on that I find very inspiring.

In aiki,
Ethan Weisgard