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Ellis Amdur
09-23-2013, 07:51 PM
On another thread, in response to something I wrote, Joe Curran asked:
I would be interested to know why O Sensei is portrayed in the statement above quote as a man with feet of clay. A complex life?O Sensei certainly had this.As far as feet of clay is this a personal opinion or factual?Please enlighten me here. Cheers, Joe.

Well, to answer the question completely, I'd recommend my book, Dueling with Osensei. (http://www.edgework.info/buy-books-on-martial-arts.html)

But just off the top of my head (and these are all on record--documented--not just my opinions):
1. He was a supporter of idealistic fascism throughout his life--he opened his dojo to terrorists, and at Deguchi Onisaburo's behest, volunteered his services as a bodyguard to Hashimoto Kingoro when he was on a mission of assassination. (one bit of proof is actually in Anno and Holiday sensei's book - the treasured bokken that was broken in practice with Hikitsuchi sensei, was given to Ueshiba by Okawa Shumei - - a remarkable man, but one of the architects of WWII, political assassination, and the exploitation of Asia (Ueshiba maintained this friendship--calling Okawa sensei until his death in the late 1950's).
2. I do not argue in the slightest his ultimate goal of a world of peace, and that aiki is love. But he conflated this with himself as an avatar to make this possible, and at times, relegated others' practice as a kind of spiritual energy production so he could do the godlike work of unifying heaven and earth.
3. Stating he was beyond moral questions, he countenanced a number of behaviors amongst his followers that were not only considered immoral in the West, but Japan as well.
4. He worked at the Nakano Spy School, teaching people how to kill, and stopped, not because of his horror at the idea, but because his methods were not considered useful enough - -he was replaced by three Shotokan karate instructors, who tested blows on captives.

And no, I'm not going to go in to documenting each of these statements here. That's why I wrote my book (2nd edition release is spring of 2014).

My point is the same as I would make regarding Gandhi (who had some truly bizarre ideas on sexuality), on Martin Luther King (who was less than faithful), or Thomas Jefferson (a hypocrite on race). We actually have a better chance of appreciating and learning from great men and women when we see them as men-and-women, not gods. I believe Osensei's heartfelt statements--and the restructuring of his budo as a moral endeavor, came as a result of struggles with his own demons, not only his saintly response to the ills of the world.

What I love about Anno and Holiday sensei's book is that, as I can easily become preoccupied with the moral failings of this great man, they remind me of his greatness, a moral vision that far transcended his own humanity. He, like all the best of us, reached for something beyond--not only others, but beyond himself.

Ellis Amdur

bkedelen
09-23-2013, 08:33 PM
Hypocrisy is almost a guaranteed component in the life of interesting people. Not sure why folks are still so horrified to discover it in those we place on a pedestal. We certainly don't live in a world of absolutes. I appreciate the opportunity to know my predecessors as humans rather than demigods.

tarik
09-23-2013, 08:37 PM
I am entirely on a page with you, Mr. Amdur, perhaps a small part of why, as much as I love aikido as an art and philosophical approach to life, don't fit in well with many dojo groups.

In my own reading, well beyond just your excellent works, much of this information is equally obvious and ignored. I believe it is really important that we don't put those who have pointed a meaningful way forward upon pedestals. Doing so is often a sign of a "follower" preaching their own agenda in the name of their avatar.

Of course, that ship has already sailed.

Regards,

Tarik

sakumeikan
09-24-2013, 11:54 AM
On another thread, in response to something I wrote, Joe Curran asked:

Well, to answer the question completely, I'd recommend my book, Dueling with Osensei. (http://www.edgework.info/buy-books-on-martial-arts.html)

But just off the top of my head (and these are all on record--documented--not just my opinions):
1. He was a supporter of idealistic fascism throughout his life--he opened his dojo to terrorists, and at Deguchi Onisaburo's behest, volunteered his services as a bodyguard to Hashimoto Kingoro when he was on a mission of assassination. (one bit of proof is actually in Anno and Holiday sensei's book - the treasured bokken that was broken in practice with Hikitsuchi sensei, was given to Ueshiba by Okawa Shumei - - a remarkable man, but one of the architects of WWII, political assassination, and the exploitation of Asia (Ueshiba maintained this friendship--calling Okawa sensei until his death in the late 1950's).
2. I do not argue in the slightest his ultimate goal of a world of peace, and that aiki is love. But he conflated this with himself as an avatar to make this possible, and at times, relegated others' practice as a kind of spiritual energy production so he could do the godlike work of unifying heaven and earth.
3. Stating he was beyond moral questions, he countenanced a number of behaviors amongst his followers that were not only considered immoral in the West, but Japan as well.
4. He worked at the Nakano Spy School, teaching people how to kill, and stopped, not because of his horror at the idea, but because his methods were not considered useful enough - -he was replaced by three Shotokan karate instructors, who tested blows on captives.

And no, I'm not going to go in to documenting each of these statements here. That's why I wrote my book (2nd edition release is spring of 2014).

My point is the same as I would make regarding Gandhi (who had some truly bizarre ideas on sexuality), on Martin Luther King (who was less than faithful), or Thomas Jefferson (a hypocrite on race). We actually have a better chance of appreciating and learning from great men and women when we see them as men-and-women, not gods. I believe Osensei's heartfelt statements--and the restructuring of his budo as a moral endeavor, came as a result of struggles with his own demons, not only his saintly response to the ills of the world.

What I love about Anno and Holiday sensei's book is that, as I can easily become preoccupied with the moral failings of this great man, they remind me of his greatness, a moral vision that far transcended his own humanity. He, like all the best of us, reached for something beyond--not only others, but beyond himself.

Ellis Amdur
Dear Ellis,
O Sensei is by no means the first person to have views which are controversial and morally repugnant.. Tony Blair, for example, using his ideas of a moral compass [his religious conviction ] ended up in Iraq pursuing non existent weapons of mass destruction.By doing so he to all intents and purposes, by invading Iraq[along with Mr Bush ] killed thousands of Iraqis and soldiers of both sides.
Religious fanatics were the keystone of the Inquisition.The list of great men with great weaknesses could fill pages and pages ,My own view is O sensei was a product of his time, just a human being with flaws. No more no less.Of course his Martial Art prowess must have been exceptional.So let us just do what we can to ensure this legacy is maintained.
Cheers, Joe.

OwlMatt
09-24-2013, 12:58 PM
I said in another thread a few weeks ago that I am continually amazed by the number of people for whom it is not enough for aikido to simply be aikido.

There are those who treat aikido like a religion, and I think the belief that Ueshiba was a kind of saint or prophet is an extension of this. If aikido is just aikido, then Ueshiba can be what he was: a great martial artist with a great idea. And that understanding of O Sensei is not one that can be punctured by his failures as a human being.

Chris Li
09-24-2013, 01:30 PM
I said in another thread a few weeks ago that I am continually amazed by the number of people for whom it is not enough for aikido to simply be aikido.

The problem being, of course, that people don't agree on what aikido is - so "aikido to simply be aikido" doesn't really have any meaning without that common agreement.

Best,

Chris

OwlMatt
09-24-2013, 01:40 PM
The problem being, of course, that people don't agree on what aikido is - so "aikido to simply be aikido" doesn't really have any meaning without that common agreement.

Best,

Chris
You're right, of course, but I think you can see what I'm getting at. Aikido isn't a religion. It isn't a method of acquiring supernatural power. It isn't a shortcut to nirvana or union with God. If we do not expect these things out of aikido, then there is no need to believe that aikido's founder was anything more than a man.

Chris Li
09-24-2013, 02:02 PM
You're right, of course, but I think you can see what I'm getting at. Aikido isn't a religion. It isn't a method of acquiring supernatural power. It isn't a shortcut to nirvana or union with God. If we do not expect these things out of aikido, then there is no need to believe that aikido's founder was anything more than a man.

Except that Morihei Ueshiba specifically said that it was some of those things.Hence the problem.

Of course, one could say that modern Aikido is different from what Morihei Ueshiba was doing, and they might have a point, but I think that most people would be loathe to admit that.

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
09-24-2013, 02:16 PM
Except that Morihei Ueshiba specifically said that it was some of those things.Hence the problem.

Of course, one could say that modern Aikido is different from what Morihei Ueshiba was doing, and they might have a point, but I think that most people would be loathe to admit that.

Best,

Chris

People could also say that modern AIkido is the best possible product of Ueshiba's work in martial arts and that chasing after the imagination-magnified legends of his skills is, at best, a somewhat fruity/eccentric enterprise that we are all a little embarassed to be a part of, and they'd definitely have a point. Particularly in light of the war criminal stuff and other signs that he was not that great of a person and a little bit crazy.

(I'll cop to that though).

OwlMatt
09-24-2013, 02:28 PM
Except that Morihei Ueshiba specifically said that it was some of those things. Hence the problem
Really? Nothing of his I've ever read says that, though I'm sure there's plenty I haven't read.

.Of course, one could say that modern Aikido is different from what Morihei Ueshiba was doing, and they might have a point, but I think that most people would be loathe to admit that.

Best,

Chris
I don't think I have the authority to say what is and what is not Ueshiba's aikido, but it stands to reason that aikido has changed over time, as do all things.

bkedelen
09-24-2013, 02:30 PM
I don't agree at all. In what universe is modern Aikido the best possible product? Why would we declare our Aikido adequate and not pursue the depths of Aikido's possibility just because our progenitors were of questionable morality? Hell everyone is of questionable morality.

Chris Li
09-24-2013, 02:33 PM
Really? Nothing of his I've ever read says that, though I'm sure there's plenty I haven't read.


He talks about those kind of things constantly - for example:

In aikido, it is absolutely indispensable that we stand on the Floating Bridge of Heaven (Ame no Ukihashi). This is essential for us to return to and be unified with God, who is the spiritual source, the Original Parent.

And we must stand on the Floating Bridge even if we can find nothing else. Before God we must give up our ego, freeing our mind of all thoughts and endeavor to be able to execute divine deeds by calming our spirit (kon) and returning to God.

The primary divine work is attaining oneness with God, the Creator, returning to and unifying with God in harmony.

Best,

Chris

OwlMatt
09-24-2013, 02:35 PM
I don't agree at all. In what universe is modern Aikido the best possible product? Why would we declare our Aikido adequate and not pursue the depths of Aikido's possibility just because our progenitors were of questionable morality? Hell everyone is of questionable morality.
I think you are misunderstanding Cliff. He's not suggesting we "declare our Aikido adequate and not pursue the depths of Aikido's possibility"; he's suggesting that the way aikido has supposedly evolved away from its starting point (that is, Ueshiba) might be a good thing.

OwlMatt
09-24-2013, 02:43 PM
He talks about those kind of things constantly - for example:

Best,

Chris

Oh, I'm aware that he talks about stuff like this all the time, but that's not what I said. What I said was:

It isn't a shortcut to nirvana or union with God.

Ueshiba says that oneness with God is a good thing and an important goal, but I think it's a mistake to take it one step further and decide that aikido training is the ultimate, divinely ordained path to that goal. I like to think Ueshiba would take issue with that. I certainly do.

Chris Li
09-24-2013, 02:47 PM
Oh, I'm aware that he talks about stuff like this all the time, but that's not what I said. What I said was:

It isn't a shortcut to nirvana or union with God.

Ueshiba says that oneness with God is a good thing and an important goal, but I think it's a mistake to take it one step further and decide that aikido training is the ultimate, divinely ordained path to that goal. I like to think Ueshiba would take issue with that. I certainly do.

Except that he says specifically and repeatedly that this is one of the goals of Aikido, which easily qualifies for your "shortcut to nirvana or union with God.".

I'm not sure how you get around that.

He didn't say anything about an "ultimate, divinely ordained path" - and neither did I.

Best,

Chris

OwlMatt
09-24-2013, 02:52 PM
Except that he says specifically and repeatedly that this is one of the goals of Aikido, which easily qualifies for your "shortcut to nirvana or union with God.".

I'm not sure how you get around that.

He didn't say anything about an "ultimate, divinely ordained path" - and neither did I.

Best,

Chris

I guess I never felt like Ueshiba thought aikido was a shortcut, only one of many ways to a goal which many people (the majority of whom are not aikidoists) share. Maybe I am bringing my own bias to my reading of Ueshiba.

In any case, whatever "oneness with God" is, I think one would be hard pressed to show that an aikidoist is more likely to achieve it than anyone else.

Cliff Judge
09-24-2013, 03:03 PM
Except that he says specifically and repeatedly that this is one of the goals of Aikido, which easily qualifies for your "shortcut to nirvana or union with God.".

I'm not sure how you get around that.

He didn't say anything about an "ultimate, divinely ordained path" - and neither did I.

Best,

Chris

Oh wait, I know this one!

The way around this is to interpret his words as merely describing a training methodology which can be used to develop physical skills as found in some Chinese martial arts!

You might notice that none of Ueshiba's students actually seem to be transmitting a training methodology like this. But that will work out excellently, when further on down the line, you find yourself frustrated and disenchanted with the Aikido organizations created by those students. :D

The only problem is that you then have to start looking pretty seriously at Ueshiba himself, and you start to realize he highly regarded people who were instrumental in large-scale murder and very very dirty politics, and was largely okay with the idea that the Japanese should bring Asia into a warm, protective place just under the heel of its boot.

(And other stuff, like certain indignities perpetrated on shoji screens...or was that Deguchi???) :eek:

Chris Li
09-24-2013, 03:13 PM
Oh wait, I know this one!

The way around this is to interpret his words as merely describing a training methodology which can be used to develop physical skills as found in some Chinese martial arts!

You might notice that none of Ueshiba's students actually seem to be transmitting a training methodology like this. But that will work out excellently, when further on down the line, you find yourself frustrated and disenchanted with the Aikido organizations created by those students. :D


If you think that what we're doing is attempting to reduce Ueshiba to merely physical skills than you have severely misunderstood what we're doing (and severely misunderstood what goes on in Chinese internal martial arts as well).

I am now, and have been, a member of the Aikikai for more than 30 years. There's nothing wrong with expressing dissatisfaction with actions of an organization that one belongs to - at least not in the United States. Welcome to Democracy.

I'd note that your own teacher was so "disenchanted with the Aikido organizations created by those students" at one point that he left - although he eventually went back.

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
09-24-2013, 03:15 PM
I guess I never felt like Ueshiba thought aikido was a shortcut, only one of many ways to a goal which many people (the majority of whom are not aikidoists) share. Maybe I am bringing my own bias to my reading of Ueshiba.

In any case, whatever "oneness with God" is, I think one would be hard pressed to show that an aikidoist is more likely to achieve it than anyone else.

I'm not necessarily advocating "oneness with God" - or advocating against it, for that matter. All I'm saying is that it is virtually impossible to say the Morihei Ueshiba didn't consider that to be part of the definition of his Aikido.

Where people go with that is up to them, of course.

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
09-24-2013, 03:28 PM
I guess I never felt like Ueshiba thought aikido was a shortcut, only one of many ways to a goal which many people (the majority of whom are not aikidoists) share. Maybe I am bringing my own bias to my reading of Ueshiba.

In any case, whatever "oneness with God" is, I think one would be hard pressed to show that an aikidoist is more likely to achieve it than anyone else.

One notion that Ellis probably put into my head originally, but seems to jibe with things I vaguely understand about religion in Japan, is that Aikido being a path to oneness with "God" doesn't neccessarily mean it is a path to personal salvation, but is instead a group or communal activity that creates a storehouse of spiritual goodness. Ueshiba viewed himself as the person to harness this energy and direct it towards the goal of bringing Earth into union with Heaven.

(Though of course I am probably reading too much into that and really Ueshiba was just planning on standing still and feeling the spirals of ki go up and down his body so that he could prevent students from pushing him over.)

Michael Hackett
09-24-2013, 05:18 PM
I wonder what aikido would look like, what it would be called if Japan had won the Pacific War? Or if they had been successful in negotiating a peace with the United States in 1942 as Admiral Yamamoto hoped. Obviously any opinion would be mere speculation, but to me an interesting thought after reading Amdur sensei's book.

Cliff Judge
09-24-2013, 09:46 PM
I wonder what aikido would look like, what it would be called if Japan had won the Pacific War? Or if they had been successful in negotiating a peace with the United States in 1942 as Admiral Yamamoto hoped. Obviously any opinion would be mere speculation, but to me an interesting thought after reading Amdur sensei's book.

There would have been generations of brutality and oppression of Koreans, Chinese, Fillipinos, etc, is pretty much a guarantee. And Russia would have had to do something about having a huge expansive neighbor sharing the Asian continent.

Michael Hackett
09-24-2013, 10:41 PM
Oh, I think I understand what the world would have looked like. My interest here was really about aikido specifically. O Sensei was apparently an ultra-nationalist before the war and certainly associated with folks so inclined. After the war he seemed to adopt this more loving and harmonious persona. I just wonder if that would have been the case if Japan had not lost the war. Obviously this is a question that can't be answered, but I wonder what the old leopard's spots would look like. He was certainly a spiritual character before the war and until his death, but that didn't stop him from his ultra-national politics in the pre-war period.

AikidoDog
09-25-2013, 12:04 AM
I was a white belt when Osensei was alive and aikido was One. There wasn't all these schools and politically bs that happen. he was an inspiration and simply human. Maybe not such a great teacher but an inspiration as his students fumbled around for the teaching. Tohei was the head guy and most responsible for creating aikido in America in the 60's and its amazing to me how he isn't acknowledged enough by the current hot shot teachers. for some his message of aiki was too much, too soft, and they couldn't really do it., Osensei was probably more of an artist than a leader.

Chris Li
09-25-2013, 01:23 AM
I was a white belt when Osensei was alive and aikido was One. There wasn't all these schools and politically bs that happen.

It was only "one" in a certain view from the United States - things started splitting in Japan even before the war (when there was plenty of political bs), and the post-war opening of Aikido by the Aikikai was spurred in no small part by competition from the rising popularity of the Yoshinkan in the early 1950's. There really was no golden age free from politics and ego - that's just the way people are, I guess.

Best,

Chris

ChrisMikk
09-25-2013, 08:01 AM
I wonder what aikido would look like, what it would be called if Japan had won the Pacific War? Or if they had been successful in negotiating a peace with the United States in 1942 as Admiral Yamamoto hoped. Obviously any opinion would be mere speculation, but to me an interesting thought after reading Amdur sensei's book.

Probably it would look like old style Yoshinkan with people trying to bash each other around.

Note that Funakoshi Gichin wrote in the first edition of his karate manual that karate was a good implement for 'Japanese-ifying' conquered people. This seems to have actually happened in Korea. In a series of articles in the old Dragon Arts magazine, Robert Dohrenwend has pretty cleary showed that Tae Kwon Do is simply Shotokan Karate taught to the Koreans during the Japanese occupation, and obviously Korean kumdo is just Japanese kendo. So, this is what the future would have looked like with a triumphant Japan--we would all be doing martial arts--just as we're doing now!!

Cliff Judge
09-25-2013, 09:07 AM
Probably it would look like old style Yoshinkan with people trying to bash each other around.

Note that Funakoshi Gichin wrote in the first edition of his karate manual that karate was a good implement for 'Japanese-ifying' conquered people. This seems to have actually happened in Korea. In a series of articles in the old Dragon Arts magazine, Robert Dohrenwend has pretty cleary showed that Tae Kwon Do is simply Shotokan Karate taught to the Koreans during the Japanese occupation, and obviously Korean kumdo is just Japanese kendo. So, this is what the future would have looked like with a triumphant Japan--we would all be doing martial arts--just as we're doing now!!

Some of us make a point of avoiding the Imperialized martial arts. Bleh! :)

Cliff Judge
09-25-2013, 09:24 AM
Oh, I think I understand what the world would have looked like. My interest here was really about aikido specifically. O Sensei was apparently an ultra-nationalist before the war and certainly associated with folks so inclined. After the war he seemed to adopt this more loving and harmonious persona. I just wonder if that would have been the case if Japan had not lost the war. Obviously this is a question that can't be answered, but I wonder what the old leopard's spots would look like. He was certainly a spiritual character before the war and until his death, but that didn't stop him from his ultra-national politics in the pre-war period.

Osensei was just caught up in the thinking and spirit of the times. Most people in Japan thought the efforts to use an expanded military to conquer all of Asia was a good and noble goal.

The fact that Osensei's teachings changed after the war is pretty profound. He may not have thrown his nefarious associates under the bus as we'd prefer from where we are, but I believe he really struggled with the issues of what was right, wrong, and a mistake.

Michael Hackett
09-25-2013, 10:00 AM
Perhaps he was just caught up in the thinking of the times just as many of the citizens were. With his associations with people in leadership positions, my thinking was that while he wasn't a prime mover, he helped forge the thinking. I suppose my real underlying question was did he change his thinking, or did he behave like a modern American politician and find a way of presenting himself in a better light? It doesn't matter much seventy years later I guess. What he transmitted in the post-war years is what we have to one extent or another. It doesn't appear that he was anything but a rather small cog in the Japanese war machine of the time. At least we have aikido today, regardless of what his real thinking was. And maybe he did change and maybe he did regret his earlier contributions and learned from them.

tamthebam
09-25-2013, 10:03 AM
I think you are misunderstanding Cliff. He's not suggesting we "declare our Aikido adequate and not pursue the depths of Aikido's possibility"; he's suggesting that the way aikido has supposedly evolved away from its starting point (that is, Ueshiba) might be a good thing.

I don't think the fact that only a handful of his early students ever APPROACHED his level of skill ( never mind us guys!) could ever be considered a good thing.

Cliff Judge
09-25-2013, 10:21 AM
I don't think the fact that only a handful of his early students ever APPROACHED his level of skill ( never mind us guys!) could ever be considered a good thing.

That is not unique among the Aiki arts. Takeda had thousands of students, but we mostly remember Ueshiba, Horikawa, and Sagawa.

I would call this a fault of Ueshiba for either not understanding how to create a system to pass his skills on, or not wanting to pass his skills on. This is essentially why I think chasing Ueshiba's skills directly is basically a cheeky endeavor.

But the other thing to remember is that a thing like Ueshiba's skills, of which we have mostly biased first-hand accounts, is apt to be inflated in power and import over time. Ueshiba is literally a legend.

CitoMaramba
09-25-2013, 11:37 AM
There would have been generations of brutality and oppression of Koreans, Chinese, Fillipinos, etc, is pretty much a guarantee. And Russia would have had to do something about having a huge expansive neighbor sharing the Asian continent.

Included in the etc are the Indonesians, Malaysians, Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Burmese, Papua New Guineans and others... Since I am Filipino, I shudder at the thought...

tarik
09-25-2013, 12:04 PM
I don't think the fact that only a handful of his early students ever APPROACHED his level of skill ( never mind us guys!) could ever be considered a good thing.

That, of course, presumes that one believes that Ueshiba's skill has not and is unlikely to be achieved.

We can never truly know, certainly, but the more experienced I get, the more I understand principles, the more video I watch and then contrast and compare to old footage (particularly when slowed down to the correct speed), the more I am inclined to believe that Ueshiba's skill level, while very good, is highly exaggerated and has long since been surpassed, maybe even by a lot, by a number of people (and probably was even while he was still alive).

And.

Big deal.

jonreading
09-25-2013, 12:33 PM
Representation and leadership are not necessary conjoined traits. Nor are competence and management. I think part of this conversation concerns the dissolution of O Sensei as a ideological or moral idol. I think part of this conversation concerns the role of management of the aikikai and how the aikikai community veiled some aspects of O Sensei's life.

First, I think you have to separate O Sensei personally from aikido. I recall (but cannot recount where) several instances of his personally making a religious claim about himself and that personal claim was separate from a professional claim he made about aikido. Something like, "Aikido isn't a religion. I mean, sure, I am a living god and a religious zealot, but aikido isn't."

Second, I think you have to separate O Sensei as a figurehead from O Sensei as a martial artist. I cannot imagine the political tightrope of the aikikai managing occupied Tokyo while being tied to a political person of interest.

I think we built a figurehead beyond his capacity and now we have to deal with some measure of disillusionment as we realize he was not the person we romanticized. I think much of the romantic notion was designed upon a pseudo-religious cult conditioning and delivered with some propaganda attractive to the masses.

All of this is probably at least helpful, if not productive, in re-examining O Sensei without the veil and re-examining some of his teachings without the religious perspective translated into the message.

OwlMatt
09-25-2013, 08:28 PM
I don't think the fact that only a handful of his early students ever APPROACHED his level of skill ( never mind us guys!) could ever be considered a good thing.

First of all, that's an opinion, not a fact. Second, you just described the career of every martial arts master ever.

JW
09-25-2013, 09:51 PM
he more I am inclined to believe that Ueshiba's skill level, while very good, is highly exaggerated and has long since been surpassed, maybe even by a lot, by a number of people (and probably was even while he was still alive).


Hi Tarik - wondering who is on your list. I'm thinking maybe Tamura (Nobuyoshi) and Sunadomari, after O-sensei's death. While he was alive... I don't know. Shioda? Shirata?

And, more closely on-track:


4. He worked at the Nakano Spy School, teaching people how to kill, and stopped, not because of his horror at the idea, but because his methods were not considered useful enough

Hi Ellis -
I enjoyed HIPS and am looking forward to getting the 2nd edition of Dueling. But as of yet, I haven't read it, so maybe that is more called for than a reply here. But anyway:

I thought I'd read interviews where folks suggest that he did become unhappy with the idea of promoting killing of the opponent during the war. Maybe in your view such comments are more wishful thinking than historically accurate? Sorry I can't find a citation.
One thing I am excited about, regarding the contents of Dueling with O-sensei, is the possibility that he was not truly in favor of the war, but went along with it anyway because he felt he "had to" in some sense. For instance, in Chris' translation of this interview with Okumura: (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/interview-aikido-shihan-shigenobu-okumura-part-2/)

O-Sensei also followed the teachings of Omoto (Omoto-kyo), and there was something called "The Budo of the Gods does not kill" ("jinbu fusatsu" / 神武不殺). However, at that time he couldn't say such things. ...[Later,] he said "I was rebuked by the gods. They told me start over from the beginning! The Budo that kills is prohibited!"

Sunadomari also said the Omoto folks secretly felt anti-war. At any rate, I guess it is hard to discuss the idea that a person "secretly" felt a certain way. If Japan hadn't lost, no one would come out with such "secrets," so it's hard to put much stock into this.

But still, it is a possibility. I could see him going along with things, and maintaining friendships/associations that presented themselves, just because that's how the Kami willed things to happen. (Rather than because it is something he wished for.)

Ellis Amdur
09-26-2013, 01:56 AM
My understanding of the Nakano Spy School situation is based on several things:
1. the accounts of the karateka - specifically Egami - they wanted Funakoshi Gigo to teach, and it was decided that "plausible deniability" was in order, so several of his disciples went instead. It was the Nakano schools decision. And actually, the Nakano school were far from the most violent minded. They actually had the ideal of minimal force for maximum effect - more similar to the American army's special forces.
2. Ueshiba did not retire at that time. He continued teaching at other military establishments for some time afterwards.
3. Yes, people said all kinds of things about Ueshiba's motivations, and interestingly, their Osensei conformed exactly to their own philosophy/worldview.
4. The assertion that Omoto-kyo was a peaceful/pacifist religion does not conform to the facts. They may not have wanted WWII, at least in the way it was prosecuted, but they very definitely were sponsors of terrorism, and fully involved with various war-supporting political factions.

I can well believe that Ueshiba was in in favor of - or enthusiastic about WWII, as it developed. He well could have been bright enough to know that taking on the US was a loser's game. But as for Japan's taking over Manchuria? And other depredations in China? He was far too close to Okawa, the sponsor-and an intellectual creator- of such actions to assume he opposed them.

tarik
09-26-2013, 10:19 AM
Hi Tarik - wondering who is on your list. I'm thinking maybe Tamura (Nobuyoshi) and Sunadomari, after O-sensei's death. While he was alive... I don't know. Shioda? Shirata?


Besides modern exponents, some of the suggestive evidence is available in the material already presented, in video and in writing, but I'd rather not.

It is an interesting exercise from the point of view of learning to understand and see principles being demonstrated. The more time I spend training, the more cues I learn to pick up watching, feeling, discussing, and trying with my teachers, sempai, peers, and my own students. But it's off topic here, just my opinion, and the makings a of flame war. :p We're relatively local, maybe in person, at some clinic or pub somewhere, we can make these speculations with less of the above.

But most specifically, I don't think it's very important except in the sense that building Ueshiba up is very important to some people's aikido practice and/or world view as if what they were pursuing was not otherwise worthy IN IT'S OWN RIGHT regardless of it's exact relation to what Ueshiba was saying or doing, except as a historical curiosity.

I think being aware of more of Ueshiba's humanity doesn't take away from the message of modern aikido, but I know from that some people cannot stand the idea of their savior or avatar being human. I also think that was mostly his son's message and personal take on his father's life and message and that it probably evolved that way explicitly because of the way the world stage was playing out at the time, more than any other reason.

Best,

Demetrio Cereijo
09-26-2013, 11:31 AM
But most specifically, I don't think it's very important except in the sense that building Ueshiba up is very important to some people's aikido practice and/or world view as if what they were pursuing was not otherwise worthy IN IT'S OWN RIGHT

May be it isn't.

tarik
09-26-2013, 12:00 PM
May be it isn't.

Your meaning is unclear.

You could be agreeing or disagreeing. Just out of curiosity, which is it?

Demetrio Cereijo
09-26-2013, 02:07 PM
Your meaning is unclear.

Well, considering the many flaws of aikido (as martial art, as path of personal betterment, as technology of the self, as fitness method, etc.) maybe what's left worth is the futile pursuit of the fabrication named Morihei Ueshiba: holy man and extraordinary martial artist.

tarik
09-26-2013, 02:19 PM
Well, considering the many flaws of aikido (as martial art, as path of personal betterment, as technology of the self, as fitness method, etc.) maybe what's left worth is the futile pursuit of the fabrication named Morihei Ueshiba: holy man and extraordinary martial artist.

Ah, now I follow. Thanks.

tarik
09-26-2013, 02:20 PM
You are absolutely correct about people expressing their opinions on a discussion forum.

Nonsense! I never express my own opinions. :straightf

akiy
09-26-2013, 03:36 PM
Just as a heads-up, some posts in this thread have been deleted as they went against some of the points delineated in the "AikiWeb Rules of Conduct" (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=321933&postcount=1) announcement.

-- Jun

Andy Kazama
09-26-2013, 04:01 PM
Regarding the claims of fantastical abilities: I am willing to forgive O'Sensei for some of the things his students may have said about him because the bottom line is that when he was alive, he was more than willing to back things up in person. Please do not take this as a commentary on modern aikido! Seems like quite a few "Origin Stories" of some of the greats began with first-hand accounts of truly trying to test O'Sensei. I recently had a similar aikido experience with a certain instructor (who we just got word will be coming back to ATL in Jan. http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=23008) <--(sales pitch;) ). I was always super curious to see how much of O'Sensei's purported skills could actually be done by a living human being, and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised! Point is, I don't think it's necessarily fair to judge O'Sensei based on the stories people told about him. This is why I am so thankful for those with the expertise and generosity to dig through the historical records and parse out the fact from fiction.

JW
09-27-2013, 03:57 PM
Tarik- I figured you might answer that way:cool:
I actually was going to PM not post, but then I thought, if he's going to post that comment to the public forum, then I'm going to follow up on the forum. Pushing the boundaries of the public forum is always good. Would love to meet up some day-- thinking about the Santa Cruz book celebrations.

Ellis- Thanks for the clear reply, I understand and am with you regarding retrospective declarations of anti-war foresight and wishes. Looking forward to that 2nd edition!

tarik
09-27-2013, 07:28 PM
Tarik- I figured you might answer that way:cool:
I actually was going to PM not post, but then I thought, if he's going to post that comment to the public forum, then I'm going to follow up on the forum. Pushing the boundaries of the public forum is always good.

I'd love to talk about it publicly, it's just that long experience tells me that that kind of discussion degrades quickly. :eek: :crazy: :freaky: :dead:

Would love to meet up some day-- thinking about the Santa Cruz book celebrations.

I'm no longer a member at that dojo, but I'd go anyway if I were in town. I'm taking a long weekend and heading to Dallas for one of my organizations bi-annual koshukai training sessions.

Ellis- Thanks for the clear reply, I understand and am with you regarding retrospective declarations of anti-war foresight and wishes. Looking forward to that 2nd edition!

Ditto.

Best regards,

tamthebam
09-28-2013, 08:53 AM
That is not unique among the Aiki arts. Takeda had thousands of students, but we mostly remember Ueshiba, Horikawa, and Sagawa.

I would call this a fault of Ueshiba for either not understanding how to create a system to pass his skills on, or not wanting to pass his skills on. This is essentially why I think chasing Ueshiba's skills directly is basically a cheeky endeavor.

But the other thing to remember is that a thing like Ueshiba's skills, of which we have mostly biased first-hand accounts, is apt to be inflated in power and import over time. Ueshiba is literally a legend.
The names you mention all had aiki which is nowhere to be seen in modern aikido.

sakumeikan
09-28-2013, 03:46 PM
The names you mention all had aiki which is nowhere to be seen in modern aikido.

Dear Thomas,
On what basis do you make this statement? I have met Shihan who I would suggest had /have aiki . By the way what dojo do you practice in?I am originally from Glasgow[Brigton/Bridgeton.I started Aikido with Slim Coyle /George Girvan /Andy Henderson.Cheers, Joe.

sakumeikan
09-28-2013, 03:56 PM
The names you mention all had aiki which is nowhere to be seen in modern aikido.

Dear Thomas,
Just checked out your profile.I note you train with Matt Holland. I have known him for donkeys years. We both trained with Slim Coyle . He continued training with Kanetsuka Sensei , I chose a different teacher.We have not met for a number of years.Tell him I was asking for him. Cheers, Joe.

Alex Megann
09-28-2013, 04:24 PM
Hi Thomas,

In the light of your posts in this thread, I would be very interested in how you understand "aiki". I should stress that I'm not looking for an argument - the way I see it has changed a lot over the last few months (one or two forum members will have a good idea who or what has challenged my view...).

Alex

P.S. Like Joe, I have known your teacher for many years :)

tamthebam
09-29-2013, 07:41 AM
Hi Thomas,

In the light of your posts in this thread, I would be very interested in how you understand "aiki". I should stress that I'm not looking for an argument - the way I see it has changed a lot over the last few months (one or two forum members will have a good idea who or what has challenged my view...).

Alex

P.S. Like Joe, I have known your teacher for many years :)

Hi Alex, my previous post, on reflection was blunt. Allow me to qualify it by saying that IMO modern Aikido has to a large degree abandoned the " internal" aspect of the art. I believe go no keiko techniques were designed to test internal power ie can tori control a uke who is resisting fully in morote dori without having to move and unbalance them on contact? Obviously allowances are made depending on people's level of experience etc. but I think we must be careful not to lose the "testing" aspect of this type of practice. Cheers

sakumeikan
09-29-2013, 10:23 AM
Hi Alex, my previous post, on reflection was blunt. Allow me to qualify it by saying that IMO modern Aikido has to a large degree abandoned the " internal" aspect of the art. I believe go no keiko techniques were designed to test internal power ie can tori control a uke who is resisting fully in morote dori without having to move and unbalance them on contact? Obviously allowances are made depending on people's level of experience etc. but I think we must be careful not to lose the "testing" aspect of this type of practice. Cheers

Dear Tam the Bam,
Great Glesca nickname!!! I agree with you in respect of go no keiko.Too many people bypass this aspect of training.The problem is a lot of people neglect the fundamentals.Its important to study footwork, usage of hands, centre, developing kokyu and training the mind.This is what makes aikido training from becoming boring.Really aikido is a boring activity, doing the same thing year in year out.Yet I still continue to follow the path.I feel that I owe a debt to all the many instructors/traing partners I have met, some of them sadly no longer in the realm of the living.In go no keiko, uke initially has the advantage,You as tori have to utilise your own power, destabilise Uke, change the dynamics of the encounter ie you neutralise Uke, then you initiate an appropriate waza to finish uke off.
Later of course you can in time, use Ju Waza the implement flowing /kokyu/ki waza.According to Sato Sensei, one only gets the hang of flowing waza at godan level..Check out Saito Senseis books
for further info.Cheers, joe,