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View Full Version : Interview with Aikido Shihan Shigenobu Okumura, Part 2


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Chris Li
06-02-2013, 06:21 PM
New blog post!

"Interview with Aikido Shihan Shigenobu Okumura, Part 2 - Take the initiative from the beginning. This is Aikido. (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/archive/2013-06-02/interview-with-aikido-shihan-shigenobu-okumura-part-2)"

Enjoy!

Chris

Alex Megann
06-03-2013, 06:48 AM
A: Well, what I can't understand even now was the feeling of his wrists. When you grabbed his wrist it felt as if you were somehow floating. When we were doing breath power training, even if I gripped him with all of my strength, it was just completely different. That feeling is still a mystery to me today.

Q: Was it softness?

A: It was different than softness. There was an elastic force, and even though I was grabbing it felt as if I was being grabbed...


Yep, that's what I'm looking for!

I saw Okumura Sensei in Cardiff about eighteen years ago. Although he was in his seventies at the time, and I was in my early thirties, that was one of the most physically exhausting weekends of my life! He taught almost nothing but iriminage, mostly from various grabs, and was very fond of making explanations at the flip chart.

Here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzHBJ9jOMjk) is some footage of Okumura Sensei in Holland the year before he came to the UK.

Thanks again, Chris, for posting these terrific interviews.

Alex

oisin bourke
06-03-2013, 07:46 AM
Okumura sensei's description sounds like pure daito ryu to me. What intrigues me is, why didn't he ask Ueshiba what he was doing, or actively pursue this training? It obviously made an impression on him.

Chris Li
06-04-2013, 10:45 AM
Okumura sensei's description sounds like pure daito ryu to me.

It does to me too. :D

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
06-04-2013, 11:36 AM
What intrigues me is, why didn't he ask Ueshiba what he was doing, or actively pursue this training? It obviously made an impression on him.

This reminded me of this quote from Seiichi Sugano (talking about asking O-Sensei questions):

"In most cases, unfortunately, the relationship of student to master is one direction; there are no questions and answers or anything like that. It's sort of a pity, we would have had a better understanding if we did that, but there was no such way, so we had to just presume what he wanted. "

From a four part interview:

Part1: http://www.aikido-bukitjalil.com/seiichi-sugano-shihan/aninterviewwithseiichisuganoshihanpart1bydavidhalprinco-editor-in-chiefaikidoonline

Part 2: http://www.aikido-bukitjalil.com/seiichi-sugano-shihan/aninterviewwithseiichisuganoshihanpart2bydavidhalprinco-editor-in-chiefaikidoonline

Part 3: http://www.aikido-bukitjalil.com/seiichi-sugano-shihan/aninterviewwithseiichisuganoshihanpart3bydavidhalprinco-editor-in-chiefaikidoonline

Part 4: http://www.aikido-bukitjalil.com/seiichi-sugano-shihan/aninterviewwithseiichisuganoshihanpart4bydavidhalprin6thdanshidoinco-editorinchiefaikidoonline

Best,

Chris

JW
06-04-2013, 11:45 AM
On the other hand some foreigners had a better time with questions-- Robert Nadeau and Henry Kono had some better luck. I think there may have been 2 things going on: 1) Cultural convention, where students don't ask questions of the teacher, and instead just copy and try to figure it out, and 2) O-sensei didn't want to spoon-feed the answers away. I think O-sensei was just iconoclastic enough to care less about #1 than #2; but the Japanese deshi may have taken #1 for granted as well.

Chris Li
06-04-2013, 11:56 AM
On the other hand some foreigners had a better time with questions-- Robert Nadeau and Henry Kono had some better luck. I think there may have been 2 things going on: 1) Cultural convention, where students don't ask questions of the teacher, and instead just copy and try to figure it out, and 2) O-sensei didn't want to spoon-feed the answers away. I think O-sensei was just iconoclastic enough to care less about #1 than #2; but the Japanese deshi may have taken #1 for granted as well.

Certainly, some of the foreigners weren't quite as shy about asking questions.

Of course, whether or not they had the background to decipher the answers is another question. Robert Nadeau, for example, didn't even speak enough Japanese to ask those questions directly - I'm not criticizing him, but you have to place things in the proper context.

Best,

Chris

Rob Watson
06-04-2013, 06:18 PM
"Figure it out yourself! was the answer in quite a few cases for those bold enough to ask.

Chris Li
06-04-2013, 06:30 PM
"Figure it out yourself! was the answer in quite a few cases for those bold enough to ask.

"One day, everybody in the dojo got into spring cleaning. We were really going at it, tearing the place apart. It was a gorgeous day and I found myself alone with Osensei on the Veranda. We had just finished a job and it was obviously time for a break, so we sat down together.
I thought, what the hell, one question in six years ain't so bad. I asked him, "Sensei, I notice when you teach you frequently mention circle,square, and triangle. I've thought about a while and I don't understand the meaning of these symbols. I wonder if you could help me solve this problem. Please explain." He looked down, he looked up, and he looked around. And I'm waiting, right?
He said,"Terrusan,you know you should go find out yourself." Then he got up and walked away. And I thought, "That's a piss-off, you know? All you have to do is say a couple of words, you don't have to be so Zen all over the place."-Terry Dobson

:D

Best,

Chris

Peter Goldsbury
06-04-2013, 07:34 PM
Certainly, some of the foreigners weren't quite as shy about asking questions.

Of course, whether or not they had the background to decipher the answers is another question. Robert Nadeau, for example, didn't even speak enough Japanese to ask those questions directly - I'm not criticizing him, but you have to place things in the proper context.

Best,

Chris

Well, I was once in a similar situation to Robert Nadeau and asked Saito Morihiro Sensei about O Sensei. He told me to wait until I had learned more Japanese.

Rather later, I asked the present Doshu (in Japanese) whether he ever asked questions of Morihei Ueshiba. If I translate his answer, it was something like, 'Heavens, No. He was O Sensei. You had to wait until he gave you the information / explanation he thought you needed.'

Doshu, who would have been 18 years old when Morihei Ueshiba passed away, was behaving like a typical Japanese of his age. In Hiroshima University, the only students who ask questions from the professor are those who have been abroad to study and so have been 'contaminated' with 'foreign ways'.

PAG

JW
06-05-2013, 12:03 PM
I guess my point was that in answer to Oisin's question, there are 2 main answers, but one of them may have been more assumed (by the deshis) than it was enforced (by O-sensei).
From Aikido Journal interview with Nadeau sensei: (http://members.aikidojournal.com/private/interview-with-robert-nadeau)
I wish I could remember the first question I asked him, but I can't recall. Whatever it was, he apparently liked the question and invited me to come spend time with him. At first I got some bad vibes from some of the seniors, but then O-Sensei kept asking for me so they relaxed. A lot of it was just to be in his presence and to try to absorb something, like osmosis. For example, I made an audio tape of O-Sensei with the older Kurita brother and Henry Kono. He was very intent on trying to get the essence of Aikido across to us. There was so much said that Henry Kono and myself spent a month hashing it over.

I would communicate with O-Sensei by asking questions that I thought were major directions for my spiritual development that had begun years before in the States. I knew he was very advanced. So I would say, "Does the Universe work this way?" and explain myself. I would ask him a major directional question. He would confirm or correct and then I would work with that information.

There's more quotes in there, but my point was that it seems to me O-sensei was wanting to share, even to the point of entertaining questions. As long as they aren't the "Sensei, please tell me all the answers now" kind of way. I guess he enjoyed discourse with those who try to do some reseach/inverstigation on their own, besides just picking O-sensei's brain (which is in line with the "Terrusan, find out for yourself" quote).