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aikishihan
05-18-2012, 03:51 PM
A commitment may be made without conditions. It can be made without being "subject to" to any reason or factor that would otherwise serve to condone or allow for any lapse in its application. As such, it is then intended to be good for "for the duration" of the commitment itself, and does not have a "shelf life".

Commitment can be said to be a fundamental habit of the psyche, entered into willingly and knowingly of the full impact of its onerous burden and absolute sense of accountability. In a sense, its purpose is to ceaselessly strive to fulfill the full terms of making that commitment to begin with way back when.

The commitment itself is not the goal. Rather, it is a key tool with which to strive for, and attain the intended goal. By its very definition, it has no end date, no sunset rule, and no termination clause beyond the full and satisfactory completion of the commitment itself.

To cease to remain committed, is to experience a death of sorts, a permanent loss of something beyond price or value, even though the body itself continues to function and exist. As such, it appears to be a loss to the spirit itself.

One may choose to make a new commitment, similar to, or even as a necessary ‘improvement" to the original one. This does not, however, justify or mitigate the fact that a commitment was indeed broken, or that the consequences of such a self betrayal would be any less felt, or inevitably absorbed by the betrayed party. In that case, a sincere and honest apology is in order.

The Japanese term "shugyo" may indeed be defined as "training, practice, an ascetic practice," or any example of a "thorough training". It also can mean "to train oneself". It is this last definition that I translate as a truly personal commitment. It is a solemn promise to the self, and what oath or primary declaration of intent can indeed be any less permanent, any less sacred, or any less total in its profound purpose and the inviolate need for completion?

Training in Aikido, or any other cultural art of choice, does not necessarily require such a commitment as outlined above. A sincere person may definitely want to train "conditionally", especially when they are aware that they may not have endless resources of time, energy, resources or support from family. Training "conditionally" then is most appropriate, as most students of Aikido do choose this method to become involved with Aikido training and its benefits.

Aikido, and the individual application of Aiki Principles to daily life situations remains an individual's right of choice. How strongly or how intently focused the interest should be exercised must remain open for the individual to choose.

Nonetheless, any and all who would declare themselves to be genuine "students" of the Aikido of the Founder, should examine carefully, after doing their honest "due diligence", and after carefully examining their fundamental reasons for choosing to create their own Aikido, and fully know why they have decided to align their growth and development with the Founder's theories, techniques and unique philosophy. Without this conscious and honest self affirmation, such a powerful commitment may be doomed before it is is begun.

For myself, I am content to train each day, knowing that no matter how often I fail, I can also choose to wake up the next day to try it one more time again.

In Oneness,

Francis Takahashi

Francis Takahashi was born in 1943, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Francis began his Aikido journey in 1953, simultaneously with the introduction of Aikido to Hawaii by Koichi Tohei, a representative sent from Aikikai Foundation in Tokyo, Japan. This event was sponsored by the Hawaii Nishi System of Health Engineering, with Noriyasu Kagesa as president. Mr. Kagesa was Francis’s grandfather, and was a life long supporter of Mr. Tohei, and of Aikido. In 1961, the Founder visited Hawaii to help commemorate the opening of the new dojo in Honolulu. This was the first, and only time Francis had the opportunity to train with the Founder. In 1963, Francis was inducted into the U.S. Army, and was stationed for two years in Chicago, Illinois. He was the second instructor for the fledgling Chicago Aikido Club, succeeding his childhood friend, Chester Sasaki, who had graduated from the University of Illinois, and was entering the Air Force. Francis is currently ranked 7th dan Aikikai, and enjoys a direct affiliation with Aikikai Foundation for the recommending and granting of dan ranks via his organization, Aikikai Associates West Coast. Francis is the current dojo-cho of Aikido Academy in Alhambra, California.

niall
05-18-2012, 08:47 PM
Thank you Francis for another thoughtful column. It's an interesting question. In some of the koryu the commitment is very serious from the beginning. Prospective students might almost be discouraged from starting. But most people start martial arts without thinking too deeply about it. For some students aikido will resonate deeply and they will grow into the commitment naturally and imperceptibly.

Niall

crbateman
05-19-2012, 07:29 AM
Osu, Francis Sensei,

I try to begin each day with a renewal of my commitments, whether they be to Aikido, my family, my business, or even to a single idea. I do not consider this "renewal" as evidence that my level of dedication has slipped (although that surely has been the case from time to time), but only as my taking a timely, introspective "inventory" to see that I am giving diligence to those commitments. This gives me some needed hope that I can maintain some measure of order to the chaos.

Thanks for another insightful article. You are a bellwether whose thoughts I truly look forward to reading each month.

MM
05-19-2012, 08:03 AM
Nonetheless, any and all who would declare themselves to be genuine "students" of the Aikido of the Founder, should examine carefully, after doing their honest "due diligence", and after carefully examining their fundamental reasons for choosing to create their own Aikido, and fully know why they have decided to align their growth and development with the Founder's theories, techniques and unique philosophy. Without this conscious and honest self affirmation, such a powerful commitment may be doomed before it is is begun.


How does a student of aikido complete "due diligence"?

Spiritual
If anyone reads through the entire Aikido Journal back issues, you find that many of Ueshiba's students, in both pre-war and post-war settings, didn't understand what he was saying. Jump forward to the present time and if you start reading Chris Li's blog posts, you can find that some of what Ueshiba was saying can be correlated to older, known martial sayings. Jumping back to Kisshomaru Ueshiba's tenure as head of hombu, we find that there were many changes in what was disseminated to the world about the founder's spiritual message. Mention of the "kami" were gone. Mention of the actual names of the kami were gone. All replaced with generic terms more fitting to a world wide audience. A student of aikido would be lead astray thinking that all those replaced terms are what the founder, Morihei Ueshiba, actually believed. How would you suggest that aikido students examine and complete due diligence in this area?

Martial
If anyone reads through the entire Aikido Journal back issues, you find that Ueshiba was known for showing some amazing feats. His push tests are very well known. (I have a thread dedicated to just this subject here on Aikiweb for those wanting to do the research.) Ueshiba's power, even in his old age, was very well known. Mochizuki, a gifted and skilled man in the martial world, himself writes about Ueshiba's power. Which student in the aikido world can even begin to understand how to achieve those skills? If a beginning student does the research and then looks to their teachers and their teacher's teacher and does not see Ueshiba's skills being replicated after 40 years of training, how can that student complete due diligence? How would you suggest that aikido students examine and complete due diligence in this area?

Takahashi sensei, you bring up excellent points. I completely agree with you that aikido students should be doing their due diligence and examining carefully the founder's theories, techniques, and philosophy and that is why I have asked you how they should do that. They are tough questions but I agree with you that they should be asked, especially of our teachers. You have a long and distinguished background in aikido. The people I know speak highly of you, so don't take this post as anything negative or derogatory. There is no animosity behind my post. I'm asking you because you broached the subject in your column.

Thank you,
Mark

aikishihan
05-20-2012, 02:26 AM
Greetings Niall,
Not sure that there really is a way to adequately prepare a prospective student for the rigors, challenges and frustrations consistent with making a uncompromising commitment to train seriously. Neither does it seem to be within our abilities to understandably demonstrate the real joys, benefits and incredible self satisfaction their efforts can achieve. Perhaps it is enough for us, as dedicated instructors, to set and maintain the highest example possible, for as long as we can. This is how I view and appreciate the gifts from those who mentor me.

aikishihan
05-20-2012, 02:34 AM
Hi Clark,
The daily affirmation of your personal goals and priorities is just not the same as recommitting to them, I do not see any need for you to repeat the great work you have already done in making your hard commitments a long time ago.

I agree that we do need to be kind to ourselves on occasion, and seek respite from our shugyo, if only to better appreciate them for what they mean to us.

Thanks, as always, for your generous support and rare insights.

aikishihan
05-21-2012, 10:52 PM
Hello Mark,

"Due diligence" should be performed, not only prior to any major decision making, but throughout an entire lifetime of research, reassessment, and review of the study of choice. Otherwise, we may surely miss many an important discovery that will reveal itself without warning or lost forever due to inattentive neglect. History, like ocean bottom sedimentation, is remorseless in its accretion of invaluable and irrefutable evidence that creation and innovation are constant forces indeed.

As enticing as ongoing translations and "expert" opinions may appear, appropriate caution is advised, as history is replete with troublesome and unfortunate falsehoods that have resulted from such wholesale and naive acceptance of otherwise enticing "facts". No judgments intended, but we should all continue with our own "due diligence" whenever we encounter the additional conversations being offered, and to possible innuendos, specious theories and circular arguments that may and do arise. Again, perhaps we need to trust in our own individually crafted and supervised daily training, to provide the the constant stream of useful questions, answers, and understandings we all seek.

I love the Aikido Journal, and admire the editor Stan Pranin immeasurably. Again, much of the content are "stories", which remain largely unauthenticated, lacking accepted provenance, and absent the time consuming effort of legitimate scholastic scrutiny. We should enjoy these marvelous glimpses and recounting of the events and personalities of the past, without succumbing necessarily to the romance and idealism, and especially not without careful and thorough examination and honest scrutiny. Large tablets of salt suggested.

Mark, not only should serious students of Ueshiba Aiki do their requisite "due diligence" with the teachings, techniques and traditions of the Founder, but also to the similar contributions from all the great mentors and originators throughout navigable history. Further, we need to apply equally honest and intense scrutiny on our present teachers and historians, as well as to ourselves on a daily basis. After all, isn't the current crop of students, teachers and innovators the very source of future leaders and potential giants of Aiki?

MM
05-22-2012, 05:27 PM
Hello Mark,

"Due diligence" should be performed, not only prior to any major decision making, but throughout an entire lifetime of research, reassessment, and review of the study of choice. Otherwise, we may surely miss many an important discovery that will reveal itself without warning or lost forever due to inattentive neglect. History, like ocean bottom sedimentation, is remorseless in its accretion of invaluable and irrefutable evidence that creation and innovation are constant forces indeed.

As enticing as ongoing translations and "expert" opinions may appear, appropriate caution is advised, as history is replete with troublesome and unfortunate falsehoods that have resulted from such wholesale and naive acceptance of otherwise enticing "facts". No judgments intended, but we should all continue with our own "due diligence" whenever we encounter the additional conversations being offered, and to possible innuendos, specious theories and circular arguments that may and do arise. Again, perhaps we need to trust in our own individually crafted and supervised daily training, to provide the the constant stream of useful questions, answers, and understandings we all seek.

I love the Aikido Journal, and admire the editor Stan Pranin immeasurably. Again, much of the content are "stories", which remain largely unauthenticated, lacking accepted provenance, and absent the time consuming effort of legitimate scholastic scrutiny. We should enjoy these marvelous glimpses and recounting of the events and personalities of the past, without succumbing necessarily to the romance and idealism, and especially not without careful and thorough examination and honest scrutiny. Large tablets of salt suggested.


It is hard to sometimes separate fact from fiction in regards to Morihei Ueshiba. However, when you have a multitude of various students who are speaking from first hand experience state certain things, it is very hard not to accept these things. For example, Ueshiba and push tests. There are many instances of people talking about this. Tanahashi does so in a Youtube video. Tenryu, over six feet tall and 240 pounds, talks about it.

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14991

Do we take all the first hand accounts of people pushing on Ueshiba as being "stories" and discount them because they have not gone through "legitimate scholastic scrutiny"? We should disregard Tanahashi, on video, talking about pushing on Morihei Ueshiba as merely a story of romance and idealism?


Mark, not only should serious students of Ueshiba Aiki do their requisite "due diligence" with the teachings, techniques and traditions of the Founder, but also to the similar contributions from all the great mentors and originators throughout navigable history. Further, we need to apply equally honest and intense scrutiny on our present teachers and historians, as well as to ourselves on a daily basis. After all, isn't the current crop of students, teachers and innovators the very source of future leaders and potential giants of Aiki?

I agree and am glad that you believe this way. Can you have a six foot tall BJJ wrestler who weighs 240 pounds push on you and fail to move you? As you said, we need to apply honest and intense scrutiny on our teachers. Can any teacher in Modern Aikido perform these feats of push tests that Morihei Ueshiba was renowned for? Shouldn't the students of aikido be asking their teachers why they can not? Shouldn't those teachers be asking their teachers why not? Otherwise, how does one complete due diligence in regards to training in Morihei Ueshiba's aiki? Was it not Ueshiba himself who stated that Tenryu could not push him over because he (Ueshiba) knew the secret of aiki?

Mark

aikishihan
05-23-2012, 11:32 AM
It is well documented that martial artists, as a group, are incorrigible romantics and idealists, perhaps more interested in pursuing dreams over accomplishing realistic and more pragmatic tasks on a daily basis. Perhaps too they are viewed with envy, and even a bit of child like jealousy by normal folk who wish they could also “be like Mike”.

It is so natural to fall in love with stories of “derring do”, impossible feats of physical prowess, mind boggling techniques, and the romance tinged exploits of our favorite heroes and heroines. If they happen to be historical figures as well, hell, all the better.

The fictional accounts by the renowned historical novelist Eiji Yoshikawa, of the legendary “kensei”, Miyamoto Musashi, are further enhanced by Musashi having actually existed, and those same battle scenes historically plausible. And who can easily forget the “Last Samurai”, depicting the exploits of the Satsuma patriot Takamori Saigo, who along with 40 like minded samurai, ushered in the death of the 400 year old feudal system in 1701, along with their glorious own.

The word “story” has its origins in what historically were “myths”, recounting in spoken form what could not easily be preserved in other ways. As such, the retelling of these stories inevitably fell prey to embellishments, poetic license, and the need for vivid imaginations to be feed even more lurid and fantastic versions of the original.

Despite the denigration by Koichi Tohei of the Founder’s personal epiphany, enhanced by a “golden” moment, wherein he chided “Why gold? Everyone knows that diamonds are more valuable!”, we can fully appreciate the exquisite moment as if we too were there. Of course, we all loved the stories of the same Koichi Tohei, who bested American Judo players, and even kid handled beefy Honolulu policemen. Why not Tenryu and O Sensei, enjoying their special moment of interpersonal enlightenment?

Yes, myths, legends and titillating accounts of superhuman exploits will always have their appeal, and rightly so. Not by facts alone can a man live, as one might say.

Nonetheless, let us not be haplessly tied to dubious “factual” accounts, and feel forever “second class”, as we could probably never hope to duplicate such events. Reality has much better “stories” in store for those who actually follow through with their honest pursuit of pragmatic, and even idealistic goals. History is replete with such accounts, although not quite with as much fanfare. Not for nothing do “Medals of Honor”, “Silver Crosses” and the “President’s Medal” exist for real life heroes we have all heard about, and possibly know personally.

Let us reserve our very best stories, for the actual accomplishments, possibly being enacted right now, by our own yet undiscovered “Best of the Best”. Those impossibly brave families dealing with Cancer afflicted kin, or of Alzheimer relatives. Those resolute firefighters, who braved the Twin Towers, and who unflinchingly march into blazing infernos of forest fires started by our lesser folk, on an annual basis.

We really do not need to primarily look to myths, legends and “stories” from the past to inspire us to make Aiki Principles come alive, and to make true differences in our own precious lives, and the lives of those we love. The best remains within us, and the best truly is still yet to come.

Chris Li
05-23-2012, 11:58 AM
The fictional accounts by the renowned historical novelist Eiji Yoshikawa, of the legendary “kensei”, Miyamoto Musashi, are further enhanced by Musashi having actually existed, and those same battle scenes historically plausible. And who can easily forget the “Last Samurai”, depicting the exploits of the Satsuma patriot Takamori Saigo, who along with 40 like minded samurai, ushered in the death of the 400 year old feudal system in 1701, along with their glorious own.

Minor quibble - Saigo Takamori, of course, was born in 1828...


Nonetheless, let us not be haplessly tied to dubious “factual” accounts, and feel forever “second class”, as we could probably never hope to duplicate such events. Reality has much better “stories” in store for those who actually follow through with their honest pursuit of pragmatic, and even idealistic goals. History is replete with such accounts, although not quite with as much fanfare. Not for nothing do “Medals of Honor”, “Silver Crosses” and the “President’s Medal” exist for real life heroes we have all heard about, and possibly know personally.

Of course, many of the stories are from people who are still alive and accessible. And of course, experiencing some of those things for yourself would change your perspective on the stories quite a bit, wouldn't it?

Best,

Chris

aikishihan
05-23-2012, 12:40 PM
Hi Chris,

Thank you for the correction. I was unsure of including a segment on the 47 Ronin example as well, and got historically dyslexiac.

Question. How much of "experiencing some of those things for yourself" applies to your first hand experience?

I personally did interact with O Sensei, Kisshomaru Doshu, Osawa Sensei, Kanai Sensei, Fujita Sensei, as well as a host of others.
I actually was present when Koichi Tohei uttered those fateful words.

Be clear, or steer clear.

Chris Li
05-23-2012, 01:15 PM
Hi Chris,

Thank you for the correction. I was unsure of including a segment on the 47 Ronin example as well, and got historically dyslexiac.

Question. How much of "experiencing some of those things for yourself" applies to your first hand experience?

I personally did interact with O Sensei, Kisshomaru Doshu, Osawa Sensei, Kanai Sensei, Fujita Sensei, as well as a host of others.
I actually was present when Koichi Tohei uttered those fateful words.

Be clear, or steer clear.

Well, everyone on your list except for O Sensei - and I have a rather interesting list of my own. Is this going to be the "my supposition must be right because I've met more important people" argument?

I'm not sure what your point is, except for comparing accounts from Eiji Yoshikawa, which makes no pretensions to be anything other than a novel about someone who's been dead for almost 500 years, with eyewitness accounts from people who are alive now or who have been alive until recently.

Best,

Chris

MM
05-23-2012, 04:58 PM
It is well documented that martial artists, as a group, are incorrigible romantics and idealists, perhaps more interested in pursuing dreams over accomplishing realistic and more pragmatic tasks on a daily basis. Perhaps too they are viewed with envy, and even a bit of child like jealousy by normal folk who wish they could also "be like Mike".

It is so natural to fall in love with stories of "derring do", impossible feats of physical prowess, mind boggling techniques, and the romance tinged exploits of our favorite heroes and heroines. If they happen to be historical figures as well, hell, all the better.


Let me see if I can sum this up:

1. Aiki News Issue 025 - Tenryu wrote:
Sensei, with that small physique ... I couldn't budge him no matter from what angle I would push or pull once he was seated.

2. Aiki News Issue 063 - Shirata Renjiro wrote:
Other officers came saying they would like to see his strength since they heard that he was very strong. At that time we had already finished training and Ueshiba Sensei and I had finished dressing and were about to go home. Sensei stood at the very edge of the tatami of the dojo and told us to push against him using our whole bodies. First, one, then two and then three of us pushed against him but he didn't move at all. Then, the officers said they wanted to try pushing him. Even though they were students they were about 30 years old. About ten of them pushed against us from behind with all their might but Ueshiba Sensei didn't move at all. The tatami on which we were standing on started to slip backwards, but the tatami on which Ueshiba Sensei was standing didn't move.

3. Aiki News Issue 99 - Interview with Takafumi Takeno wrote:
That was only shortly after I had begun practicing aikido so I didn't really understand the high level of what O-Sensei was demonstrating. I remember that he told his students to push and pull him, but try as they might he remained unmoved, impervious to their efforts.

4. Aikido Journal 106 - Seishiro Endo wrote:
I remember one time when O-Sensei was standing there explaining something and he told me to try pushing his knees from the side. I was amazed at how soft they were. But they were soft in such a way that they seemed to defy pushing altogether, like if I tried to push further I would fall into some sort of void.

5. Aikido Journal 109 - Tohei wrote:
His posture was as solid as a rock and you couldn't budge him no matter how you pushed or pulled; yet he would toss me effortlessly without ever letting me feel that he was using any strength at all.

6. Aikido Journal 116 - Masando Sasaki wrote:
Sometimes O-Sensei used to hold out a jo and have two or three people push against it. I once had the chance to be one of those pushing, and it was really very strange the way all of our pushing effort seemed to just evaporate away.

7. Kazuaki Tanahashi talks about trying to push Ueshiba. He mentions Saito trying to push Ueshiba over, too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpWY58LWaRE

So, we can either believe Tenryu, Shirata, Takeno, Endo, Tohei, Sasaki, and Tanahashi (this is by no means the complete list either) as not being able to push Ueshiba over ... or we believe you that they are all romanticizing their accounts and it was all "derring do".


Nonetheless, let us not be haplessly tied to dubious "factual" accounts, and feel forever "second class", as we could probably never hope to duplicate such events. Reality has much better "stories" in store for those who actually follow through with their honest pursuit of pragmatic, and even idealistic goals.


Because you cannot do what Ueshiba did, because you cannot begin to understand how he did it, then it must not be "realistic"?

This is our due diligence to the teachers of aikido who state they are doing the founder's art. Can you replicate his skills? Why not? Other people have replicated some of his skills.

Ueshiba started training in aiki in 1915 and met Tenryu around 1940 (not sure of exact year). 25 years of training. And Tenryu could not push him over because Ueshiba knew the secret of aiki. Who in aikido with 25 years of training can replicate this? Why not? Shouldn't aikido students ask this question of their teachers?

Why is it that so many students of Ueshiba talked about trying to push him over and failing? Why can't Modern Aikido teachers replicate this after 30-40 years of training?


We really do not need to primarily look to myths, legends and "stories" from the past to inspire us to make Aiki Principles come alive, and to make true differences in our own precious lives, and the lives of those we love. The best remains within us, and the best truly is still yet to come.

Myths and legends? Shioda, Shirata, Tohei, Tenryu, Tanahashi, Endo are all making up myths and legends about their training with Ueshiba. This is what you actually want us to believe? This is the "due diligence" you would give to us?

aikishihan
05-24-2012, 11:15 AM
When I first conceived the basis for this article, I had the best of intentions. Then, I remembered that most apropos of reminders, “when Man plans, God laughs.”. Shoulda, woulda, coulda, who knew?

I accept that, while the word “Aiki” may have fresh interpretations and more recent manifestations , its emergence as a valid, genuine and all encompassing value concept for mankind began a long time ago. It is my conviction that the Founder of Aikido was the latest in a long line of geniuses, who focused on its essential merits, incorporated its lessons on an ongoing basis for his entire life, and was never satisfied that he had indeed “got it” at anytime. Even at his last demonstration at Hibiya Park in Tokyo, he is remembered to proclaim that he was “still in the first grade of Aikido”, and that there was so much more for succeeding generations to explore, appreciate and to share. His Silver Bridge was not only his to cross, but for the entirety of mankind, and for as long as we all believed in, and upheld Aiki Principles.

I truly believe as well that he would scoff at the amazing stories of his legendary prowess, his prescient sense of Ki extension to his environment, and to the adoration of his disciples then back in the day, and now, holding him up on a pedestal from afar. His was not the legacy of “stories”, firsthand accounts of his brilliance, nor of being the paragon of Aiki virtue from which all other similar accomplishments flowed, and owed their existence, or even relevance. If he could, he’d return to say “stop all this nonsense already! I did what I did for me, and me alone in my quest for excellence. If others choose to follow my lead, they are more than welcome to do so. The caveat is, and always will be, you must first take full ownership of whatever you find and accomplish, just as I did. You may not credit me for your success, or blame me for your failure. My Aikido is my own. It will cease to exist, the moment I too cease to exist. Take these same Aiki Principles, if you will, and create your own Aikido!”

I have nothing against giving due credit and attention to the recorded accounts of the Founder’s talents, or his abilities to amaze and to astound. I do not scoff at the almost deification of his achievements by those who trained with him, or are now trying to “capture lightning in a bottle” from later generations. Have at it to your hearts’ content. Make a cult of it if you like, and proclaim pre-eminence from the highest street corner. I simply do not care. Those accounts are stories to me, and will always remain so. I care not a fig for any veracity, authenticity or undeniable link to their “truth” to make my Aikido any more genuine. To my mind, it is futile and irrelevant to define our collective sense of the Founder’s vision and purpose upon events from the past, whether fictional or provenanced.

Past deeds do not ultimately matter, when there is so much to accomplish today, and well into tomorrow. We are meant to be innovators, not mere copy cats, or to simply function as wannabe clones of an impossible idea.

Aikido is not a one time accomplishment by a now gone genius. It is a word, a concept of what each and every person who is willing to pay the price of appropriate “due diligence” now, and for the rest of their lives, to make their own, and to share new findings with others of similar ambition and resolve.
Aikido is, and will always be about what more can be done to help lift the human spirit, to give it fresh and truly affirmative energy to realize the reasons why we too were born.

The “due diligence” I constantly refer to is the essential accountability for each serious student of the Founder’s example to create and fashion his own aikido from the clay of current resources, just as the Founder did, with what he himself had available. Hey, his lemonade was pretty good, wouldn’t you say?

Back finally to “Being committed to Aiki”. It is everyone’s right to choose how, when and why they define their own aikido, and the levels of commitment and intensity needed to pursue that quest. It can even be seen as a “holy grail” to discover, not in the past, or from someone else’s dreams, but within.

Chris Li
05-24-2012, 11:33 AM
His Silver Bridge was not only his to cross, but for the entirety of mankind, and for as long as we all believed in, and upheld Aiki Principles.

What precisely are the Aiki Principles, and how are they manifested?

I could say, for example, that I am the inheritor of the Ballet Principles of Mikhail Baryshnikov. But if I can't explain what those principles are, how they apply, or demonstrate them at some level, then that would seem somewhat odd, wouldn't it?

I could dismiss all those stories of him leaping through the air as irrelevant past events (even though many people saw them), but wouldn't that then be just an attempt to justify my own inability?

Make a cult of it if you like, and proclaim pre-eminence from the highest street corner. I simply do not care.

If you didn't care then...why are you writing about it?

Mostly, what you're seeing is an anti-cult - groups of people who are trying to test basic assumptions and demonstrate the conclusions for themselves.

Best,

Chris

Conrad Gus
05-24-2012, 11:41 AM
When I first conceived the basis for this article, I had the best of intentions. Then, I remembered that most apropos of reminders, "when Man plans, God laughs.". Shoulda, woulda, coulda, who knew?

I accept that, while the word "Aiki" may have fresh interpretations and more recent manifestations , its emergence as a valid, genuine and all encompassing value concept for mankind began a long time ago. It is my conviction that the Founder of Aikido was the latest in a long line of geniuses, who focused on its essential merits, incorporated its lessons on an ongoing basis for his entire life, and was never satisfied that he had indeed "got it" at anytime. Even at his last demonstration at Hibiya Park in Tokyo, he is remembered to proclaim that he was "still in the first grade of Aikido", and that there was so much more for succeeding generations to explore, appreciate and to share. His Silver Bridge was not only his to cross, but for the entirety of mankind, and for as long as we all believed in, and upheld Aiki Principles.

I truly believe as well that he would scoff at the amazing stories of his legendary prowess, his prescient sense of Ki extension to his environment, and to the adoration of his disciples then back in the day, and now, holding him up on a pedestal from afar. His was not the legacy of "stories", firsthand accounts of his brilliance, nor of being the paragon of Aiki virtue from which all other similar accomplishments flowed, and owed their existence, or even relevance. If he could, he'd return to say "stop all this nonsense already! I did what I did for me, and me alone in my quest for excellence. If others choose to follow my lead, they are more than welcome to do so. The caveat is, and always will be, you must first take full ownership of whatever you find and accomplish, just as I did. You may not credit me for your success, or blame me for your failure. My Aikido is my own. It will cease to exist, the moment I too cease to exist. Take these same Aiki Principles, if you will, and create your own Aikido!"

I have nothing against giving due credit and attention to the recorded accounts of the Founder's talents, or his abilities to amaze and to astound. I do not scoff at the almost deification of his achievements by those who trained with him, or are now trying to "capture lightning in a bottle" from later generations. Have at it to your hearts' content. Make a cult of it if you like, and proclaim pre-eminence from the highest street corner. I simply do not care. Those accounts are stories to me, and will always remain so. I care not a fig for any veracity, authenticity or undeniable link to their "truth" to make my Aikido any more genuine. To my mind, it is futile and irrelevant to define our collective sense of the Founder's vision and purpose upon events from the past, whether fictional or provenanced.

Past deeds do not ultimately matter, when there is so much to accomplish today, and well into tomorrow. We are meant to be innovators, not mere copy cats, or to simply function as wannabe clones of an impossible idea.

Aikido is not a one time accomplishment by a now gone genius. It is a word, a concept of what each and every person who is willing to pay the price of appropriate "due diligence" now, and for the rest of their lives, to make their own, and to share new findings with others of similar ambition and resolve.
Aikido is, and will always be about what more can be done to help lift the human spirit, to give it fresh and truly affirmative energy to realize the reasons why we too were born.

The "due diligence" I constantly refer to is the essential accountability for each serious student of the Founder's example to create and fashion his own aikido from the clay of current resources, just as the Founder did, with what he himself had available. Hey, his lemonade was pretty good, wouldn't you say?

Back finally to "Being committed to Aiki". It is everyone's right to choose how, when and why they define their own aikido, and the levels of commitment and intensity needed to pursue that quest. It can even be seen as a "holy grail" to discover, not in the past, or from someone else's dreams, but within.

It sounds a lot like you are describing the "do" part of "aikido". I think the reason your posts lately have been resonating with me is that it is the way that I find personally beneficial, over and above some elusive set of skills or abilities that may or may not be the goal.

I like the way you characterize it as open-ended and continually evolving. This may not provide the structure and security that some people crave, but I think you are correct in your assertion that it is a truer characterization of what O-Sensei was trying to teach in the big picture.

As a suggestion, maybe the whole ("aikido") is actually greater than the sum of its parts ("aiki" + "do").

Nicholas Eschenbruch
05-24-2012, 05:48 PM
As a suggestion, maybe the whole ("aikido") is actually greater than the sum of its parts ("aiki" + "do").

That's somehing to ponder, thanks. Helps me to focus some of my own thoughts and feelings on the matter.

Chris Li
05-24-2012, 06:24 PM
As a suggestion, maybe the whole ("aikido") is actually greater than the sum of its parts ("aiki" + "do").

Sure, but what does that mean...

Also, "more than the sum of its parts" assumes that the parts are all in place.

Best,

Chris

MM
05-24-2012, 07:39 PM
When I first conceived the basis for this article, I had the best of intentions. Then, I remembered that most apropos of reminders, "when Man plans, God laughs.". Shoulda, woulda, coulda, who knew?

I accept that, while the word "Aiki" may have fresh interpretations and more recent manifestations , its emergence as a valid, genuine and all encompassing value concept for mankind began a long time ago.


I would say that it is exactly the opposite. That aiki was a concept from long ago and that it only recently, beginning with Kisshomaru, was changed with "fresh interpretations" for a world wide audience. That can be historically upheld, but I find very little historical analysis to support your view.


I truly believe as well that he would scoff at the amazing stories of his legendary prowess, his prescient sense of Ki extension to his environment, and to the adoration of his disciples then back in the day, and now, holding him up on a pedestal from afar. His was not the legacy of "stories", firsthand accounts of his brilliance, nor of being the paragon of Aiki virtue from which all other similar accomplishments flowed, and owed their existence, or even relevance. If he could, he'd return to say "stop all this nonsense already! I did what I did for me, and me alone in my quest for excellence. If others choose to follow my lead, they are more than welcome to do so. The caveat is, and always will be, you must first take full ownership of whatever you find and accomplish, just as I did. You may not credit me for your success, or blame me for your failure. My Aikido is my own. It will cease to exist, the moment I too cease to exist. Take these same Aiki Principles, if you will, and create your own Aikido!"


So, you want us to believe your fantasy story over the historical record by direct students of Morihei Ueshiba? You would have us believe that all those direct students of Ueshiba, when talking about their direct first hand experience, are merely spinning stories ... wait, let me quote you directly:

"The word "story" has its origins in what historically were "myths", recounting in spoken form what could not easily be preserved in other ways. As such, the retelling of these stories inevitably fell prey to embellishments, poetic license, and the need for vivid imaginations to be feed even more lurid and fantastic versions of the original."

So, you want us to relegate those direct first hand experiences as stories and myths while you tell us the above quoted fantasy and want us to believe you? Really? Are you seriously trying to tell us this? Disregard Shirata's direct words and believe your version of what you dream Ueshiba would say? Disregard Tenryu and believe you? Shioda? Etc, etc, etc?


Aikido is not a one time accomplishment by a now gone genius. It is a word, a concept of what each and every person who is willing to pay the price of appropriate "due diligence" now, and for the rest of their lives, to make their own, and to share new findings with others of similar ambition and resolve.
Aikido is, and will always be about what more can be done to help lift the human spirit, to give it fresh and truly affirmative energy to realize the reasons why we too were born.

The "due diligence" I constantly refer to is the essential accountability for each serious student of the Founder's example to create and fashion his own aikido from the clay of current resources, just as the Founder did, with what he himself had available. Hey, his lemonade was pretty good, wouldn't you say?


Due diligence in regards to Morihei Ueshiba? How about Ueshiba's 99% influence in his martial career was Sokaku Takeda and Daito ryu. His lemonade recipe was straight from Takeda and yes, it was exemplary. Due diligence for the serious student of the founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, would be to search for the aiki that created the giants: Takeda, Ueshiba, Horikawa, Sagawa, Kotaro, etc.

But, I speak only to the assembled aikido students, for you have yet to answer any of my questions. IMO, worse yet, you have not shown any of us that you, yourself, have done due diligence.

Mark

graham christian
05-24-2012, 09:15 PM
It sounds a lot like you are describing the "do" part of "aikido". I think the reason your posts lately have been resonating with me is that it is the way that I find personally beneficial, over and above some elusive set of skills or abilities that may or may not be the goal.

I like the way you characterize it as open-ended and continually evolving. This may not provide the structure and security that some people crave, but I think you are correct in your assertion that it is a truer characterization of what O-Sensei was trying to teach in the big picture.

As a suggestion, maybe the whole ("aikido") is actually greater than the sum of its parts ("aiki" + "do").

Reminds me of an article I read lately. A guy who was invited to join the monks going up a mountain to a pool and waterfall to do their meditation. He was told to bring a walking staff.

He turned up with a jo and the leader of the monks recognized it and tild him it was an aikido jo and not a walking staff and proceeded to tell him how to walk up the mountain properly. Even the way to do so was fascinating as it involved pressing your big toe down on each step to serve as a reminder in every step to be here spiritually in the present. He also found that the monks blew these konchos on the way but actually each time they did it they were in a certain posture. The same as the stance in Aikido.

Anyway, later, after the meditations the monk proceded to hive him a lesson in the jo. Turns out he was taught by Hikitsuchi Sensei. Funny thing is, and the whole point of this post, that the monk told him how once if Hikitsuchi thought Aikido would benefit the other monks. Hukitsuchi told him that It was merely a spiritual path where the techniques were just an added bit of fun so to speak and that's why others didn't understand O'Sensei. He also said that the monks were already doing it for they were already on the same path.

Peace.G.

Tom Verhoeven
05-24-2012, 10:14 PM
What precisely are the Aiki Principles, and how are they manifested?

I could say, for example, that I am the inheritor of the Ballet Principles of Mikhail Baryshnikov. But if I can't explain what those principles are, how they apply, or demonstrate them at some level, then that would seem somewhat odd, wouldn't it?

I could dismiss all those stories of him leaping through the air as irrelevant past events (even though many people saw them), but wouldn't that then be just an attempt to justify my own inability?

If you didn't care then...why are you writing about it?

Mostly, what you're seeing is an anti-cult - groups of people who are trying to test basic assumptions and demonstrate the conclusions for themselves.

Best,

Chris

Funny example. Baryshnikov is well-known as a dancer and choreographer that gives no relevance or importance to high leaps. Even though, not being a tall person, he was very good at it. He emphasizes simplicity and genuineness rather then skill in technique. A sincere attempt has always been more important to him then a success.
His philosophy of life is not that distant from the philosophy of Aikido. Sincerity is to be found in the effort, not in the result.

Tom

Chris Li
05-24-2012, 11:19 PM
Funny example. Baryshnikov is well-known as a dancer and choreographer that gives no relevance or importance to high leaps. Even though, not being a tall person, he was very good at it. He emphasizes simplicity and genuineness rather then skill in technique. A sincere attempt has always been more important to him then a success.
His philosophy of life is not that distant from the philosophy of Aikido. Sincerity is to be found in the effort, not in the result.

Tom

Really not important. If it matters that much then replace Baryshnikov with Nijinsky.

Best,

Chris

Tom Verhoeven
05-25-2012, 04:15 AM
Reminds me of an article I read lately. A guy who was invited to join the monks going up a mountain to a pool and waterfall to do their meditation. He was told to bring a walking staff.

He turned up with a jo and the leader of the monks recognized it and tild him it was an aikido jo and not a walking staff and proceeded to tell him how to walk up the mountain properly. Even the way to do so was fascinating as it involved pressing your big toe down on each step to serve as a reminder in every step to be here spiritually in the present. He also found that the monks blew these konchos on the way but actually each time they did it they were in a certain posture. The same as the stance in Aikido.

Anyway, later, after the meditations the monk proceded to hive him a lesson in the jo. Turns out he was taught by Hikitsuchi Sensei. Funny thing is, and the whole point of this post, that the monk told him how once if Hikitsuchi thought Aikido would benefit the other monks. Hukitsuchi told him that It was merely a spiritual path where the techniques were just an added bit of fun so to speak and that's why others didn't understand O'Sensei. He also said that the monks were already doing it for they were already on the same path.

Peace.G.

Hello Graham,
Like this story! Not many people seem to be aware of the relation between Aikido and Shugendo. And there is not much written about it either, as far as I know.
Is that article that you are quoting still available or to be found on the internet?
Greetings from the Auvergne!
Tom

chillzATL
05-25-2012, 08:50 AM
But, I speak only to the assembled aikido students, for you have yet to answer any of my questions.
Mark

that's ironic!

Mary Eastland
05-25-2012, 09:14 AM
Thank you, Francis for this column. It made me think of my choice to let go of teaching self-defense.

When I first started training in Aikido I was very weak and vulnerable. I had crazy ideas about what was right and what was wrong. I thought I was a victim in most circumstances.

After training for about a year I started seeking out self-defense classes. I took a lot of different classes and started reading and writing about self-defense. I eventually started teaching self-defense, giving seminars and teaching part time at a local community college. I did this for 14 years thinking it was my path. And it was my path for that time. All this time I continued to train daily in Aikido. One day I woke up and knew I was healed. My issues that needed self-defense had passed into the wind. I was free to let go of fear-based training. Now I train to become more peaceful and free. I train only in Aikido. I let go of my job teaching self-defense because it was not my path anymore.

For me, Aikido training is daily, special and sacred. Others may tread their own paths. Sometimes my head turns at what they say or do but it really has nothing to do with me. It is just a distraction from the truth that happens on the mat. Thanks again, for making me think.

gregstec
05-25-2012, 09:15 AM
Hello Francis, we met during the last Aikido cruise (2006) and I was fortunate to have had you as a training partner a few times during the various sessions. I want to thank you for sharing then as well as sharing your insights contained in this article. I find it a shame that most of this thread has evolved into a discussion of the definition of Aiki since I think the gist of your article was on commitment and not aiki - maybe you should have just called it "The Importance of Commitment to the Principles of your Training" :)

I think the work that is going on with revisiting and looking at old documentation with a new insight based on updated translations is a good thing and I am sure it will eventually help re-write the definitions of some of the concepts and principles that many of us have committed to so many years ago. I am one of those folks on the new Aiki bandwagon, but when I read your article I knew you were referring to the Aiki principles that you had spent many years adhering to and I did not find it necessary to challenge you with the new definitions - I consider you a perfect gentleman, an eloquent writer, and I commend you for many years of selfless sharing of your Aikido over the years - you deserve the respect and admiration of all those that have come after you on this path.

Greg

Diana Frese
05-25-2012, 10:53 AM
I haven't posted much recently but I do check in on AikiWeb usually a few times a week. I always enjoy Francis' columns and gain much inspiration from them. This one brings up a question I have had about my own commitment to Aikido in particular and Aiki in general. I managed to sidestep the issue of knee strain (not directly from Aikido, I was not training at the time) by starting a class for "fellow injured people" including one young man in his twenties who simply wanted to train at a slower pace than my colleague's dojo... But then we lost the space at the loft .... It was a good group and good training while it lasted. To me commitment means weighing the commitments we have in daily life and being open to opportunities to train. Sometimes I have thought there is an opportunity to train again, but then a transportation issue comes up. Each time I have to ask myself about my commitments and the ramifications...

For now, while keeping at keeping physically active, I enjoy reading about the training and thoughts of others. Thank you all.

This morning, I read the most recent posts first and have to comment on Mary's post which is indeed inspiring and helpful to me in looking back. When I was teaching, I may have pointed out self defense applications in the regular techniques but I didn't teach self defense per se. My friend Trish, in the New Haven area taught self defense for quite some time. While I admired and still admire her for many reasons, I found that at the YMCA here just teaching the regular aikido kept me busy, and I didn't do the extra research and training that would be necessary to teach self defense. It would have been nice to be able to visit her and participate and thereby learn, but other commitments had already taken over.

The point to this rambling story is that commitment can take many forms! Sometimes following a path, it makes unexpected turns for us, but I like to think it is still a valid path, and somehow connected to Aikido and Aiki still....

I will enjoy re reading Francis' article on commitment and reading all the comments. Thank you all.

mathewjgano
05-25-2012, 01:46 PM
Thank you, Takahashi Sensei! That was a beautiful exposition on the commitment we make to both ourselves and to Aiki...and to anything in general. I believe that at the end of the day, regardless of the art we choose, we're engaging in an individualized study...it just happens to be along side other folks. I recently read an article which described doshu's view as being something along the lines of, "we're all doing Aikido, even though we're not all doing the same thing." The article went on to suggest that as long as we're open in our practice (interacting with each other), it doesn't matter if we're in different places with our training...and arguing over differences is rather pointless.
As a consequence, while I agree with the idea that aiki can refer to something very discrete ("internals"), it doesn't necessarily always mean that. Like you said, it's a word, and I think that means there will always be variance in comprehension and application. I think that while people who want to follow in the footsteps of kaiso ought consider internal training as a central pillar to understanding physical potency, I don't think it is necessary in order to call what they do "Aikido."
Which brings me to this idea:
..."more than the sum of its parts" assumes that the parts are all in place.

I think I disagree. Are there any students who ever have "every" part? Particularly if we consider the spirituality of O Sensei? We don't all have to have IP in order to enjoy the rest of Aikido. I think that was the point...though I could be wrong, of course. It happened once before...although in retrospect I may have been mistaken.

Chris Li
05-25-2012, 02:09 PM
I think I disagree. Are there any students who ever have "every" part? Particularly if we consider the spirituality of O Sensei? We don't all have to have IP in order to enjoy the rest of Aikido. I think that was the point...though I could be wrong, of course. It happened once before...although in retrospect I may have been mistaken.

Maybe "all" is too much, but I think that are a number of parts that just can't be missing in order for it to be Aikido. That doesn't mean it's bad - just something else.

Best,

Chris

graham christian
05-25-2012, 02:20 PM
Hello Graham,
Like this story! Not many people seem to be aware of the relation between Aikido and Shugendo. And there is not much written about it either, as far as I know.
Is that article that you are quoting still available or to be found on the internet?
Greetings from the Auvergne!
Tom

http://www.getyang.com/2012/05/shugendo/

Hi Tom, hope the link works.

Peace.G.

Tom Verhoeven
05-25-2012, 02:55 PM
http://www.getyang.com/2012/05/shugendo/

Hi Tom, hope the link works.

Peace.G.

Bonjour Graham,
Thank you for the link - it worked just fine! And the article is even better then what you already quoted.
This is a person who got at least a glimpse of Aikido as a spiritual path. The rest is mere technique.
A nice gift, thank you!
Gassho,
Tom

Gary David
05-25-2012, 08:03 PM
Being Committed to Aiki

Nonetheless, any and all who would declare themselves to be genuine "students" of the Aikido of the Founder, should examine carefully, after doing their honest "due diligence", and after carefully examining their fundamental reasons for choosing to create their own Aikido, and fully know why they have decided to align their growth and development with the Founder's theories, techniques and unique philosophy. Without this conscious and honest self affirmation, such a powerful commitment may be doomed before it is is begun.

Francis Takahashi

Francis
I like your article though I am confused some with the sense I feel that lingered after I read it, something I just could not put my finger on.

The paragraph above sends me a mixed message as it is not clear to me after 38 years of involvement who actually has a true grasp of what the Founder Aikido really was or is.......this aside from all the comments i am sure will follow this. You know me enough and have seen me around enough to know I have trained with any number of individuals, you included, and none of these individual presented a constance continuing reflection of the same approach or understanding of what is called Aikido..........and none talked, showed or demonstrated the how of the "Aiki" part........ at least as I understand it now, that being the IP/IS/Intent/six direction/one body sort of thing.......can't do it to my satisfaction yet....... but it took me more than 30 years of my journey to get close.

So I am not sure if you are saying that we must follow and be committed to ( I guess the Aikikai approach) on a daily basis or we are just doing our own thing and maybe as just part time practice?

Help me out here.

Thanks

Gary

guest1234567
05-26-2012, 04:57 AM
Thank you Francis Sensei for a very thoughtful and instructive post. I'm learning a lot from you and that is why I will put my sand grain in this beautiful column, which I commented already in AAUSA.
It's been a long time since I commented here.
Just wanted to say that there are some members commenting in this column who didn't seem to have understand what you wanted to tell us. I think that Aiki is a commitment through love. As you say training does not require such a commitment, most budokas don't train with it. But if one chooses to being committed to aiki, it does not include only the training it also includes to live all the time according to it and to spread it to everyone who likes to know it.
If you choose to be commited to aikido and aiki principles it will give you more than you think. Just be aware of your way and the details you get every day.
Wish you all a great weekend
Carina

wxyzabc
05-26-2012, 07:02 AM
Hya Mark...with all due respect what we think we know, we may not, and people need to be very careful...some may have no idea what they are really getting into...actually probably most...

Kindest regards

Lee

wxyzabc
05-26-2012, 07:44 AM
and then in a very sincere way I'm going to retract the last statement..because it would be very hard to have responsibility for saying such a thing...very hard..

MM
05-26-2012, 11:00 AM
Thank you Francis Sensei for a very thoughtful and instructive post. I'm learning a lot from you and that is why I will put my sand grain in this beautiful column, which I commented already in AAUSA.
It's been a long time since I commented here.
Just wanted to say that there are some members commenting in this column who didn't seem to have understand what you wanted to tell us. I think that Aiki is a commitment through love. As you say training does not require such a commitment, most budokas don't train with it. But if one chooses to being committed to aiki, it does not include only the training it also includes to live all the time according to it and to spread it to everyone who likes to know it.
If you choose to be commited to aikido and aiki principles it will give you more than you think. Just be aware of your way and the details you get every day.
Wish you all a great weekend
Carina

I'm sure Takahashi sensei is a wonderful person. I have no doubts about that at all. If his article has stayed true to Modern Aikido, I would have found it very appropriate.

However, he wrote this, "Nonetheless, any and all who would declare themselves to be genuine "students" of the Aikido of the Founder, should examine carefully, after doing their honest "due diligence", and after carefully examining their fundamental reasons for choosing to create their own Aikido, and fully know why they have decided to align their growth and development with the Founder's theories, techniques and unique philosophy. Without this conscious and honest self affirmation, such a powerful commitment may be doomed before it is is begun."

So, in doing due diligence, there is a world of difference between the aikido of Morhei Ueshiba and the aikido of Modern Aikido (Kisshomaru). So, yes, I'm asking hard questions because the founder of aikido was put forth in the article. I absolutely agree with Takahashi sensei in that due diligence in regards to the founder of aikido *must* be done. Sadly, though, I am finding that the due diligence is lacking ... but I continue to hope for the best.

Mark

aikishihan
05-26-2012, 11:17 AM
Greetings Gary,

It is great to see you participating on Aiki Web, and continuing your personal quest for excellence in Aiki. It has been years since we trained at Frank McGouirk Sensei’s dojo. As far as I can see, you are achieving your goal of pursuing the Aikido ideal in your own fashion, as well as most of the others I know. This is the message I have been attempting to convey, one I believe in fully, and consistent with the Founder’s oft stated wish and admonition to all his direct students.

I have never advocated, nor ever championed any logic behind placing Aikikai’s version of Aikido training, historical legitimacy, and pre-eminent identity with the Founder’s mission and purpose as being necessary or even realistic. Their’s is but one of many legitimate and critically vital attempts for the entire Aikido membership to continuously research, develop, enhance and make more clear and accessible, the Founder’s Aiki, and his Aikido to the current generation, and to future ones as well.

Yes, I have continually been identified with Aikikai Foundation, due to my special relationships with the Ueshibas, Osawa Sensei, Fujita Sensei, and other direct students of O Sensei. I have never advocated that the aikido sponsored and taught by Hombu Dojo, both Doshus, and the full spate of uchideshi instructors over time, is, or has ever been intended to be the blueprint or even the best template for all others to follow. I have repeatedly echoed the Founder’s admonition that we should all develop our own aikido, from whatever resource we choose, and I will never cease doing so.

When I speak of aligning one’s training with “the teachings, techniques and unique philosophy” of the Founder, I meant it as a starting point, for isn’t this where any legitimate study of his creation would begin. From there, I recognize no restrictions on anyone to seek out and incorporate teachings, techniques and unique philosophies of other masters of their own choosing, to either augment, to replace in part, or even to reconstruct the entirety of their programming. This said, there should also not be any demeaning or disrespectful rhetoric and slander against those who choose to stay true to the Aikikai Hombu agenda, or to base their foundational authenticity on such a provenance and association. We must find ways to emphasize those aspects we all have in common, and not dwell on those negatives, primarily false, that strive to keep us at odds, and quibbling over dubious definitions and useless delusions of entitlement.

I do believe, as do other significant leaders, that true leadership and paradigm shifting efforts will come from the West. Being an American, I am biased towards the immense talent pool and proven capabilities we have home grown over the decades.

Be well.

Gary David
05-26-2012, 12:27 PM
Greetings Gary,

It is great to see you participating on Aiki Web, and continuing your personal quest for excellence in Aiki. It has been years since we trained at Frank McGouirk Sensei's dojo. As far as I can see, you are achieving your goal of pursuing the Aikido ideal in your own fashion, as well as most of the others I know. This is the message I have been attempting to convey, one I believe in fully, and consistent with the Founder's oft stated wish and admonition to all his direct students.

I have never advocated, nor ever championed any logic behind placing Aikikai's version of Aikido training, historical legitimacy, and pre-eminent identity with the Founder's mission and purpose as being necessary or even realistic. Their's is but one of many legitimate and critically vital attempts for the entire Aikido membership to continuously research, develop, enhance and make more clear and accessible, the Founder's Aiki, and his Aikido to the current generation, and to future ones as well.

Yes, I have continually been identified with Aikikai Foundation, due to my special relationships with the Ueshibas, Osawa Sensei, Fujita Sensei, and other direct students of O Sensei. I have never advocated that the aikido sponsored and taught by Hombu Dojo, both Doshus, and the full spate of uchideshi instructors over time, is, or has ever been intended to be the blueprint or even the best template for all others to follow. I have repeatedly echoed the Founder's admonition that we should all develop our own aikido, from whatever resource we choose, and I will never cease doing so.

When I speak of aligning one's training with "the teachings, techniques and unique philosophy" of the Founder, I meant it as a starting point, for isn't this where any legitimate study of his creation would begin. From there, I recognize no restrictions on anyone to seek out and incorporate teachings, techniques and unique philosophies of other masters of their own choosing, to either augment, to replace in part, or even to reconstruct the entirety of their programming. This said, there should also not be any demeaning or disrespectful rhetoric and slander against those who choose to stay true to the Aikikai Hombu agenda, or to base their foundational authenticity on such a provenance and association. We must find ways to emphasize those aspects we all have in common, and not dwell on those negatives, primarily false, that strive to keep us at odds, and quibbling over dubious definitions and useless delusions of entitlement.

I do believe, as do other significant leaders, that true leadership and paradigm shifting efforts will come from the West. Being an American, I am biased towards the immense talent pool and proven capabilities we have home grown over the decades.

Be well.

Francis
Thanks for responding. This has cleared up some of the gray that I perceived in your column.

As for the demeaning or disrespectful rhetoric and slander here on this site....it is a two way street. You and I both started Aikido long before it was thought of by many as paired cooperative moving mediation, as spiritual only, as love that can free the world.......

I don't have any problems with anyone who wants to work this way and for those goals. I am happy for them......I just find those aspects of my life from other sources than Aikido. I understand that some on this site who are pushing IP/IS and a clearly differing definition of Aiki seem hard and pushing.....sometimes downright obnoxious in pressing their claims...but they have something.

The Aiki arts are multi leveled and each step up is harder to achieve that the one that was just accomplished. It is like floors in building, but you can't take the elevator......the stairs are the only way up. I am good with folks who want to stay on the first floor....no problem with that at all. The difficulty is when those folks say there are no other floors...that this is it....when all they have to do is go outside and look up.......or go a check out some of the folks talking Aiki to see what is happening. Maybe they discover something maybe they don't. That works to.....but don't keep telling me that this is all there is and that they have it.

Maybe the issue is with the Do part...... maybe Aikido is only the first floor....that's cool

Gary

MM
05-26-2012, 04:51 PM
The truth is a hard pill to swallow. So, sometimes, people like to cast aspersions upon those telling the truth to make life more complacent and "reasonable".

So, if I were to say that the way that Ben Roethlisberger plays is world's apart from the way Tom Brady plays, no one ever seems to think that I was demeaning or having disrespectful rhetoric. So, too, Ueshiba's aikido is world's apart from Modern Aikido.

Anyone can go on and on and on about Modern Aikido, love, peace, tranquility, enlightenment, techniques, speed, size, etc all they want. It's such an open field that the world has redefined it several times over. People are happy with it. There's room for everyone, whether they want more technical, martial techniques or more spiritual cooperative training. The man who made that possible? Kisshomaru Ueshiba. Personally, I think his picture should be on many dojo shomen. He started something from nothing (less than nothing) and built a legacy for the world to enjoy. In some ways, he did more than his father.

But, Morihei Ueshiba has a specific and defined approach to aikido. If anyone wants to try to say that their Modern Aikido is true to the Founder's aikido ... then, I completely and wholeheartedly agree that there should be due diligence to confirm this. So far ... that hasn't happened. In fact, I found it utterly and amazingly preposterous that I was to disregard direct students interviews of Morihei Ueshiba as legends, myths, stories while being told that a complete fantasy version of Ueshiba coming back to life and "speaking" should be taken to heart as good and solid information. This is "due diligence"? Really? People actually think this is worthy of reverence?

The truth is a hard pill to swallow. It is far easier to close the ears, imagine a different world, and eat more rice. The offering is the red pill or the blue pill. Which one do you choose?

(The red pill and its opposite, the blue pill, are pop culture symbols representing the choice between the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue) and embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red).)

graham christian
05-26-2012, 05:42 PM
But, Morihei Ueshiba has a specific and defined approach to aikido.????

MM
05-26-2012, 07:10 PM
But, Morihei Ueshiba has a specific and defined approach to aikido.????

I'm probably going to get in trouble for my opinions here but ...

IMO, you can't hold a candle to Takahashi sensei. It is Takahashi sensei's experiences, commitment to Aikido, and many years of training that I *can* ask him the hard questions. We may never agree, we may never see eye to eye, but it is because of his dedication to Aikido that I have posted in his thread. Who better to field the tough questions? Who better to do due diligence? It is people such as him who are charting the future of Modern Aikido. If they can't answer, who can? IMO, you do not have the experience nor have you done the most basic of due diligence to begin to understand the concepts involved here. I would suggest doing so.

graham christian
05-27-2012, 07:53 AM
I'm probably going to get in trouble for my opinions here but ...

IMO, you can't hold a candle to Takahashi sensei. It is Takahashi sensei's experiences, commitment to Aikido, and many years of training that I *can* ask him the hard questions. We may never agree, we may never see eye to eye, but it is because of his dedication to Aikido that I have posted in his thread. Who better to field the tough questions? Who better to do due diligence? It is people such as him who are charting the future of Modern Aikido. If they can't answer, who can? IMO, you do not have the experience nor have you done the most basic of due diligence to begin to understand the concepts involved here. I would suggest doing so.

You're right. Due diligence, red pills, blue pills, hard questions, candles..........woahhh. Concepts.

Sounds much like politics to me so I'll leave it to you political folk with your political arguments.

Peace. G.

Gary David
05-27-2012, 09:48 AM
You're right. Due diligence, red pills, blue pills, hard questions, candles..........woahhh. Concepts.

Sounds much like politics to me so I'll leave it to you political folk with your political arguments.

Peace. G.

Graham
You can't avoid politics here, as that is what we are talking about. The Question has always been for the pushy Aiki folks can anyone in Aikido today do what Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, could do and the answer is clearly no. Some of his original direct in house pre-war students had pieces of what he did, clearly sitting them a step up above the rest, but none of them are alive today to help.....some of their work is available thought hard to get at. Post war Aikido is Modern Aikido.

You clearly feel that you have a clear insight into the Founder's post-war approach to Aikido....though all evidence points to Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Koichi Tohei as being the principal starting points for that post war path. If your idea of Spiritual Aikido is the True Aikido and that you are clearly the avatar for it....then you need to get out there and sell it....you have to take on all the challenges....make it work for everyone....That means doing workshops or getting on the mat with the folks you have so far avoided.

Talking your approach up here, stepping back to say that you have done pretty much all of it, have seen all of it, have help an untold number of people improve their lives, clearly "teaching" here with your replies........then ending with vague comments about the rest of us can do what we want is just talk...just talk....

Gary

graham christian
05-27-2012, 11:20 AM
Graham
You can't avoid politics here, as that is what we are talking about. The Question has always been for the pushy Aiki folks can anyone in Aikido today do what Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, could do and the answer is clearly no. Some of his original direct in house pre-war students had pieces of what he did, clearly sitting them a step up above the rest, but none of them are alive today to help.....some of their work is available thought hard to get at. Post war Aikido is Modern Aikido.

You clearly feel that you have a clear insight into the Founder's post-war approach to Aikido....though all evidence points to Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Koichi Tohei as being the principal starting points for that post war path. If your idea of Spiritual Aikido is the True Aikido and that you are clearly the avatar for it....then you need to get out there and sell it....you have to take on all the challenges....make it work for everyone....That means doing workshops or getting on the mat with the folks you have so far avoided.

Talking your approach up here, stepping back to say that you have done pretty much all of it, have seen all of it, have help an untold number of people improve their lives, clearly "teaching" here with your replies........then ending with vague comments about the rest of us can do what we want is just talk...just talk....

Gary

Gary,
I can't say what you say above is wrong so all I can do is clarify for you my view.

Politics: Of course people around can do what Ueshiba did. No one can be him and no one should want to. No one can do everything he could do nor should they want to either. There may be some who can do some particular things better than he could. All this comparing to him is once again a clever political trick as far as I am concerned.

The post war path? Ueshiba wanted to spread it, he said so. He even described his visit to Hawaii as building a silver bridge. He always said his aims and they were worldwide aims. Now his son was into the organizational way of doing such and Tohei was into translating and developing sets of principles he felt would be easier to communicate to western culture. Thus they all did things their way but it was Ueshibas dream that they joined with.

Debating the in house original students and teachers as a step above the rest and most no longer being with us and seeing that as some kind of major loss or fault is again a put down and irrelevance to me. They taught people didn't they? There are many people around following the principles of Aikido, it's all good. Plus it's natural. There was Jesus and there were his disciples. Then there were no more disciples. Yet it spread. Naturally. This happens to all things so what's all the fear talk about? That always happens too, 'oh for the old days!' ha ha.

Your view on me is fair enough. I like it. Your conclusion though I don't quite see.

You seem to be saying I should insist everyone do it my way and that I am responsible for everyone.

'Vague comments about the rest of us???' Mmmmm. don't get it.

I agree it may be that I should do more in the public arena. May be. It seems that way to you anyway.

About seven years ago in my mind I had stopped teaching actually. It was an interesting year. Wherever I went I still attracted those seeking something which Aikido could provide. Then one day a couple of guys, one from Yoshinkan and another from some form of tai chi came to visit me. It was a strange experience. They were insisting I teach them, I thought they were going to chain themselves to the chars and not move unless I agreed. So I got back into it to cut a long story short.

So I teach because it's part of my path that's all. I have no other significance on it than that. It doesn't equal I should 'sell it' or build some empire or create some organization or travel on some circuit. No it doesn't equal that to me.

Lately however, in life most folks are saying similar things though, that I should set this up and that up. This is indeed an interesting next phase of my life for I am undecided.

There is no should there is only me deciding on my way of doing.

I will listen and acknowledge what others who know me tell me and thus take all into account but then I will consult my 'heart.' That's my way.

Meanwhile this forum is as it's always been for me, a window into what some folks are doing and their views and where I share my views. That;s all. Not some shop window.

Thanks for your views.

Peace.G.