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Chris Li
11-07-2015, 03:18 PM
New blog post! The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/ueshiba-legacy-mark-murray/) - "There are two Ueshiba Legacies. The legacy of Morihei Ueshiba and the legacy of Kisshomaru Ueshiba. The two are completely different. Their paths rarely cross, with only a smattering of commonalities."

Enjoy!

Chris

rugwithlegs
11-08-2015, 07:09 AM
Very well written and well sourced, and increasingly a view I have adopted over the last several years.

The larger question for me is what do we as a collective art do with this knowledge?

Rupert Atkinson
11-22-2015, 07:38 PM
Very difficult to read with the text colour and background.

Chris Li
11-22-2015, 07:47 PM
Very difficult to read with the text colour and background.

The text is black and the background is white - are you using a modern browser? This is an example (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/tmp/screenshot.jpg) of what I see in Chrome.

Best,

Chris

Rupert Atkinson
11-23-2015, 12:21 AM
I will try to uploacd a pic of what I see using Windows 7

Chris Li
11-23-2015, 12:36 AM
I will try to uploacd a pic of what I see using Windows 7

The operating system version doesn't really matter, it's the browser version that's important.

It's a little hard to tell from the screenshots, but are you using Internet Explorer 8? If so then you should upgrade to a modern browser - Google dropped support for IE 8 in 2012, that's how old it is.

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
11-23-2015, 09:28 AM
It is weird how the introduction section established Mr. Murray as someone who once met Dan Harden in a park. I think it might be more useful to either talk about Murray's Aikido training or teaching experience, or just let the essay stand on its own merits. I don't think it does a service to Mr. Murray or to the veracity of his essay to set him up under another person's shadow like that, particularly when the overshadowing person is not known to be associated with Ueshiba's lineage.

Mr. Murray does a good job arranging some of the quotes of and about Ueshiba's practice, and the thesis that the art of Aikido as disseminated by Tohei and the younger Ueshiba is different than what the Founder seemed to be doing when he was on the mat is well supported.

I find it interesting that to even dip a toe into the water here, we have to make a number of assumptions.

1) That the information we have about Ueshiba's martial prowess are not credulous, biased opinions. Murray's essay didn't even bother to establish that Ueshiba was skilled, and I don't mean this as a criticism of the essay, but just an observation that we've all drank a certain Kool-Aid. It is what it is, I think. There is no good way for us to cross-examine whether Osensei was truly as good as the quotes we have indicate. But at some point, you ought to play devil's advocate with yourself and say, of all of these accounts of how incredible Osensei was, maybe none of them came from people who didn't have some skin in the game and/or really could judge.

2) That there is an actual "legacy" left by Ueshiba that is different than the Aikido of his son, or Tohei, or Shioda, or Tomiki, or etc. This essay is interesting in that it hammers you with quotes about how Ueshiba never actually taught, he just demonstrated and lectured. Why is that? If he didn't teach people how to do what he was doing, why do we seem to believe that he had any desire for us to attempt to pursue his skills? Particularly now that we are a couple of generations removed from knowing much about them. There's the "that's not my aikido" quote, but aside from (certain interpretations of) that, why do we think Ueshiba didn't intend for the world to practice one of the lines of "Modern Aikido?" Isn't it a bit arrogant to just invite ourselves to ... whatever it is some of us are doing ... attempting to reconstruct an ideal Ueshiba-like practice from bits of other arts, I suppose.

In the end I don't think the essay makes a good argument that there actually is a "legacy" of Ueshiba that is different from "Modern Aikido."

3) I think the condemnation of "Modern Aikido" as being focused on technique may be oversimplifying things a little. Despite the quotes that Ueshiba practiced formlessly when he was teaching, one can see from the existing footage that when he told everyone to pair up and train, they sure look like they were working on techniques. I.e. the line between "technique-focused training" and "formless Ueshiba style training" is maybe not so bright.

4) Last but not least, for now....we really seem to assume that Ueshiba was a genius that was trying to teach, but nobody was listening or something. I've been reviewing footage lately and I'm wondering why we don't talk a little bit more about how he displayed behaviors that indicate he had some type of dissociative or other type of cognitive disorder. Perhaps we should regard the talented and dedicated students he surrounded himself with, who sought to create structured training systems inspired by his gyrations, as the real progenitors of our art.

Tim Ruijs
11-24-2015, 05:31 AM
In the extreme one can regard Honbu Dojo as corporate business that provides a service: Aikido.
That service must be monetized on, commercialised. His son clearly deviated from the path his father walked.
Nowadays one can easily claim to be this or do that. Backtracing is hard enough for the 'in crowd', let alone for outsiders.

The one thing that is clear to me is that Ueshiba wanted us to develop our own Aikido. Many of his students say the same thing: this is what I do, you find your way.
The question boils down to what you consider Aikido, or aiki. Do your own work, study.

Rupert Atkinson
11-26-2015, 11:21 PM
I trained in Yoshinkan 1989-90 in Japan with Ando Tsuneo Sensei. I was lucky enough to see Shioda Gozo a few times. He also came to our dojo. Anyway, in Yoshinkan everyone learned the regimented waza and that was that. Shioda just did whatever he wanted to do. He taught a little waza but not so much, rather, he just did random stuff. His students never did random stuff. Maybe he was following his Ueshiba 'experience'. But perhaps not as his style was far more regiented in teaching approach than Aikikai.

jonreading
11-30-2015, 12:03 PM
It is weird how the introduction section established Mr. Murray as someone who once met Dan Harden in a park. I think it might be more useful to either talk about Murray's Aikido training or teaching experience, or just let the essay stand on its own merits. I don't think it does a service to Mr. Murray or to the veracity of his essay to set him up under another person's shadow like that, particularly when the overshadowing person is not known to be associated with Ueshiba's lineage.

Mr. Murray does a good job arranging some of the quotes of and about Ueshiba's practice, and the thesis that the art of Aikido as disseminated by Tohei and the younger Ueshiba is different than what the Founder seemed to be doing when he was on the mat is well supported.

I find it interesting that to even dip a toe into the water here, we have to make a number of assumptions.

1) That the information we have about Ueshiba's martial prowess are not credulous, biased opinions. Murray's essay didn't even bother to establish that Ueshiba was skilled, and I don't mean this as a criticism of the essay, but just an observation that we've all drank a certain Kool-Aid. It is what it is, I think. There is no good way for us to cross-examine whether Osensei was truly as good as the quotes we have indicate. But at some point, you ought to play devil's advocate with yourself and say, of all of these accounts of how incredible Osensei was, maybe none of them came from people who didn't have some skin in the game and/or really could judge.

2) That there is an actual "legacy" left by Ueshiba that is different than the Aikido of his son, or Tohei, or Shioda, or Tomiki, or etc. This essay is interesting in that it hammers you with quotes about how Ueshiba never actually taught, he just demonstrated and lectured. Why is that? If he didn't teach people how to do what he was doing, why do we seem to believe that he had any desire for us to attempt to pursue his skills? Particularly now that we are a couple of generations removed from knowing much about them. There's the "that's not my aikido" quote, but aside from (certain interpretations of) that, why do we think Ueshiba didn't intend for the world to practice one of the lines of "Modern Aikido?" Isn't it a bit arrogant to just invite ourselves to ... whatever it is some of us are doing ... attempting to reconstruct an ideal Ueshiba-like practice from bits of other arts, I suppose.

In the end I don't think the essay makes a good argument that there actually is a "legacy" of Ueshiba that is different from "Modern Aikido."

3) I think the condemnation of "Modern Aikido" as being focused on technique may be oversimplifying things a little. Despite the quotes that Ueshiba practiced formlessly when he was teaching, one can see from the existing footage that when he told everyone to pair up and train, they sure look like they were working on techniques. I.e. the line between "technique-focused training" and "formless Ueshiba style training" is maybe not so bright.

4) Last but not least, for now....we really seem to assume that Ueshiba was a genius that was trying to teach, but nobody was listening or something. I've been reviewing footage lately and I'm wondering why we don't talk a little bit more about how he displayed behaviors that indicate he had some type of dissociative or other type of cognitive disorder. Perhaps we should regard the talented and dedicated students he surrounded himself with, who sought to create structured training systems inspired by his gyrations, as the real progenitors of our art.

I am not sure how to approach this post. I read Cliff's points and I simply don't understand any of them as they relate to Mark's essay.

Neither Dan nor Mark post here anymore. I still don't know how Dan has any relevance to an essay from Mark, except to point out that Mark knows Dan. Mostly, I am bringing this up because I wrote Mark when he published the essay and said something like, man, that is a good job showing some of the issues with aikido while not attacking the art. That should resonate with people without being confrontational. I guess not...

That there is a difference between the aikido of Morehei and Kisshomaru Ueshiba is unquestionable. I am unclear how the legacy of aikido left by each is somehow not different. Kisshomaru purposely branded his own form of aikido so that he could function within the dojo left by his father. Expanding the argument, I see no credible evidence that anyone ever replicated what O Sensei did, including the deshi that all left Hombu and started their own traditions. Heck, I arrived at those conclusions several years ago, mostly just looking through Aikido Journal articles.

I read this post and I can't help but feel it's a jab. Nothing of substance, just a jab and something Cliff doesn't like. I take issue with it because Aikiweb used to be a tool for helping aikido people sort through the world of aikido and find gems of information, or connect to people working on the same training. Aikiweb was a tool I used and now the same posts I used are archive material and the authors don't even post here anymore. In the meantime, I look forward to an essay on Morihei Ueshiba's unstable mental state and the conspiracy of artificially reporting he skills as a martial artist... and for the record, if the skill of Ueshiba is concluded to be false we'll have bigger issues than Mark's essay...

I think it's interesting that among two or three concurrent threads to this one, we're making similar assumptions without the negative critique. Occam's razor and all that. None of what Mark said beats on anyone who followed Ueshiba or worked to make aikido digestible for the masses. It simply says that what we practice is not what the old man did. What's worse... making shapes that looked like the old man doesn't work, either. The problem is that if we're not doing what the old man did, we also can't do what the old man showed.

Cliff Judge
11-30-2015, 01:57 PM
Jon, please chill. I'm not jabbing at the author of the essay and I meant no disrespect to him by my comments. I don't disagree with the facts he presented. I think the essay was concise and nicely put together. But I thoroughly disagree with some underlying assumptions, and I do not think they were built on to sufficiently support Mr. Murray's conclusion, so I shared my thoughts.

Neither Dan nor Mark post here anymore. I still don't know how Dan has any relevance to an essay from Mark, except to point out that Mark knows Dan.

I do hope this was directed at Chris Li and not somehow to me, because I also didn't get the relevance of Dan or of Mr. Murray's experiences with him to the essay.

My main gripe with the piece is that while it argues very well that Ueshiba's actual teachings were different than what you get from the Aikikai or Ki Society (or etc), this is not enough to show that Ueshiba left any other "legacy."

jonreading
11-30-2015, 02:51 PM
I do hope this was directed at Chris Li and not somehow to me, because I also didn't get the relevance of Dan or of Mr. Murray's experiences with him to the essay.

In your post, you bring up Mark and Dan as a weird introduction. On Chris' blog, Chris publishes an introduction to Mark and then also re-publishes a critical post Mark made on aikiweb regarding meeting Dan. My curiosity is that you chose to elevate that content about Mark as a point of observation; first paragraph, in fact. Drawn out, I might ask the question, why did you feel that content needed attention beyond what was in the essay?

You're an easy target because I know you read Aikiweb and there are existing threads in which you have been far less critical about authors for far less "factual" material. This is a sensitive topic and when I read a counter-claim that maybe we over exaggerate the prowess of Ueshiba, I am curious about that kind of bombshell.

As another example, I am unfamiliar with any aikido practitioner who claimed to have inherited the entirety of Ueshiba's teachings. What kind of legacy are you looking for? Family name? We don't even like most of the the things O Sensei said about training, let alone do them. Again, Mark's argument is that Kissomaru did not inherit the legacy of his father. If he did not, then the only consideration is whether O Sensei left a legacy at all, since we know it is different than the aikido we practice. That is another essay, I think.

What piece is missing? Why do you still think the family legacy is the same for father and son?

Cliff Judge
12-01-2015, 10:14 AM
In your post, you bring up Mark and Dan as a weird introduction. On Chris' blog, Chris publishes an introduction to Mark and then also re-publishes a critical post Mark made on aikiweb regarding meeting Dan. My curiosity is that you chose to elevate that content about Mark as a point of observation; first paragraph, in fact. Drawn out, I might ask the question, why did you feel that content needed attention beyond what was in the essay?

That's not a critical post, it's a non-sequitur. The essay was clear and fully cited, it could have stood on its own. Or perhaps, to establish Mr. Murray's bona fides, something about his experience in Aikido or just length of training would have helped people coming in cold. Dan's got nothing to do with Aikido, so it was kind of like saying "Mr. Murray - who stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night - shared this essay on the Rum Fisted Sock forum."


Again, Mark's argument is that Kissomaru did not inherit the legacy of his father. If he did not, then the only consideration is whether O Sensei left a legacy at all, since we know it is different than the aikido we practice. That is another essay, I think.

That's exactly my point, does it even make sense to say Osensei left a legacy, if the legacy of Kisshomaru is not the legacy of Osensei? Kisshomaru left a living martial tradition that is practiced all over the world. Aside from perhaps the "that is not my aikido" quote, I'm not sure there is much evidence that Osensei wasn't completely on board with what his son was doing. (That's certainly a topic for a subsequent essay!)

If Osensei actually left a legacy - if he actually had stuff he TAUGHT to students that is not present in his student's Aikido lineages - I think its important to ask ourselves, by what right do we claim that for our own? In Aikido we have something of a tradition of stealing the technique. But is it right to steal the legacy?

But what if the things he did, the skills he had, were more of an act of religious ceremony, or performance? And not teachable things? Then I think we shouldn't refer to a "legacy" at all. We should, instead, be honest about the fact that trying to pursue Osensei more directly is basically an act of "reconstruction" of a dead martial art.

PeterR
12-01-2015, 10:44 AM
We should, instead, be honest about the fact that trying to pursue Osensei more directly is basically an act of "reconstruction" of a dead martial art.

This really hits the nail on the head. If one works with the assumption that none of his legacy was passed down through any of his students (not just his son) how can anyone possibly reconstruct it.

There is just too much supposition to sustain claim of discovery.

JW
12-01-2015, 10:01 PM
This really hits the nail on the head. If one works with the assumption that none of his legacy was passed down through any of his students (not just his son) how can anyone possibly reconstruct it.

There is just too much supposition to sustain claim of discovery.

I agree that it is difficult, and that the practitioner would always have to present an argument to defend his claim that he is following the "lost legacy"... But I don't agree that it can't be done. And regarding "dead martial art," I think this is a bit different from a koryu being resurrected from scrolls.

1. There are lectures and writings, which have content much like students heard in class. They fit into a larger body of work (besides Mark Murray, see Chris Li's other stuff) that gives them context and support, which can be studied and practiced. In other words he gave pointers to things you can and should train.
2. Unlike a koryu with intricate details, it could be that the founder's "legacy" was for people to learn just a basic and relatively unconstrained method of "how to move your mind." (https://books.google.com/books?id=i2yShshAQJEC&pg=PA35&lpg=PA35&dq=aikido+%22how+to+move+your+feet%22+mind&source=bl&ots=OLeO2LRpw3&sig=V9gNNMZUJTeueHotdwmO9_jH6c4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjlgsqNorzJAhURMIgKHRMvCnYQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=aikido%20%22how%20to%20move%20your%20feet%22%20mind&f=false) (wherein the mind affects the body of course.) How else could he feel like giving a dancer 10th dan?
So from that point of view, we have to get the foundation right, and then whatever we build on it is correct aikido as long as it is true to the foundation.

Anyway I am not saying personally I believe in an Ueshiban legacy. I see where one could claim it is there, but it may be too sparsely supported after all. It's up to us to figure out whether our training is congruent with the founder's intentions, to whatever degree we can discern those intentions. So it doesn't have to be a totally clear prescription from him in order to guide our training.

Bernd Lehnen
12-02-2015, 01:19 AM
…. Kisshomaru left a living martial tradition ….



A strong statement on your part.

If Kisshomaru didn't want Aikido be an anachronism, as I've been told, then this could also validate the "living" in your statement. And obviously there are people who practice aikido as an art form.
But how would you define the martial tradition part, if martial is derived from Mars, the god of aggressive warfare in Roman Mythology. Would this be still in Kisshomarus legacy?

At least, Mark Murray has put together and cited quite a few sources to make the analysis he offers a plausible consequence.

Best,
Bernd

jonreading
12-02-2015, 09:31 AM
This really hits the nail on the head. If one works with the assumption that none of his legacy was passed down through any of his students (not just his son) how can anyone possibly reconstruct it.

There is just too much supposition to sustain claim of discovery.

I think this is a critical position. If your perspective is Useshiba is dead, long live Ueshiba, you are challenged to resolve the inability to accomplish what we saw O Sensei do. Which we see expressed in a variety of ways. For me, I feel like this perspective encapsulates aiki in O Sensei; a possession of his, so to speak. No O Sensei, no aiki. What about the contemporaries of Ueshiba? Sagawa and others who also possessed aiki? The heavyweights from the early dojo? I can't resolve aiki as a possession of aikido or O Sensei, so it is difficult for me to put O Sensei on a pedestal and say, "Well, nobody will ever be as good as him." What's next? We never surpass our instructors, so we put them on a pedestal and say, "sensei knows all, we'll never be as good as sensei..." Wait...

I happen to believe that O Sensei left a legacy, it wasn't his to begin with - it was material he learned from Takeda and others and so forth. O Sensei was just a man who was able to consolidate what he learned and demonstrate it. It's the admonishment to chase the material, not the man. For me, this is simply a back tracking task to see where O Sensei got his stuff, then pick up the trail from there. Losing O Sensei as a resource is a lost chronicle, but not necessarily the end of the line.

But, I understand not everyone has this perspective. Sometimes, Monty Python scene of the people dying from the plague comes to mind... People are saying O Sensei's aiki is dead, but it's not... we just want it to be dead so we can stop comparing our aikido to his.

rugwithlegs
12-02-2015, 10:33 AM
When Kisshomaru Doshu's influence became more prominent, I don't think we just moved away from his father. The art of Aikido started to fracture into different camps which kept their distance from their neighbors.

Tomiki, Shioda, Tohei, Shioda, Shirata and others - variations in technique became a declaration of alliegence to a lineage. Basic terms used in training, particularly Japanese terms used by English only speakers (IME), became a declaration of lineage.

There are many students who have gone on to be teachers. How much instruction the students received, in whole or in part from Morihei Ueshiba, how many outside influences, how much the students were inspired; that all varies.

I don't think "reconstruction of a dead art" quite applies if the art is still alive if fractured and diluted. The various lineages are worthy of exploration. Over focus on politics can certainly increase the damage and loss, but without an authority the art can just keep getting more diluted.

The training methods - most of the major lineages are students who wanted to find a better way to teach than they were taught.

How perfect was Ueshiba Morihei is a question we might need to explore as well. A Shotokan Karate student can say Funakoshi Gichin wasn't the greatest ever for all time, and Judo students will not say no one will ever come close to Kano Jigoro's skills. Lately people like Homma Sensei have written that some of O Sensei's demos were faked.

PeterR
12-02-2015, 11:23 AM
I happen to believe that O Sensei left a legacy, it wasn't his to begin with - it was material he learned from Takeda and others and so forth. O Sensei was just a man who was able to consolidate what he learned and demonstrate it. It's the admonishment to chase the material, not the man. For me, this is simply a back tracking task to see where O Sensei got his stuff, then pick up the trail from there. Losing O Sensei as a resource is a lost chronicle, but not necessarily the end of the line.


Well that pretty much mirrors my perspective. I see a long line of tradition and teachers whose relevance to my own study and progress is defined by my distance in time from them. Nariyama, Tomiki, Ueshiba, Takeda, his teachers - a particular name change having no importance - but I am happy to call it Aikido. I think when we talk about a legacy of a particular man we talk about his contribution to the whole and not what he did not pass on. For that reason I rebel against the idea that there is a lost Ueshiba M. legacy.

Cliff Judge
12-02-2015, 12:24 PM
But how would you define the martial tradition part, if martial is derived from Mars, the god of aggressive warfare in Roman Mythology. Would this be still in Kisshomarus legacy?

That's not how I define "martial legacy" at all, I am simply using an english phrase for budo. If you disagree that Aikido is a budo, cool, but I think you disagree with just about everybody who is familiar with what budo is.

BTW, while we are arguing semantics, I think the term "legacy" implies something bequeathed...in our case here, Ueshiba's legacy would be skills, knowledge, or pedagogy that he developed and INTENDED for his students to take on and continue to pass to their students.

You could probably argue that a legacy is simply the historical impact of a person, i.e. what they did, what they are known for. But if that's how you are defining Ueshiba's legacy (he did stuff, we have stories about it, some people still alive felt it firsthand and they can talk about it) then you must admit that that's a different sort of legacy than what Kisshomaru, Shioda, Tohei, Tomiki, Saito, etc left behind - those guys actually created training systems and built organizations to foster them.

It's the difference between one person dying and leaving a million dollars to charity, and another person dying without a will and his neighbors remembering how he once had a million dollars.


At least, Mark Murray has put together and cited quite a few sources to make the analysis he offers a plausible consequence.


Yes, he pulled together a number of verified quotes from different sources, and he analyzed them in terms of whether there was a difference between Kisshomaru's kihon waza and the skills that Osensei demonstrated. I think he did a good job of that. I'd even say that the analysis holds for any of the other mainstream Aikido lineages.

I believe, based on the title of the essay, that Mr. Murray set out to show that Ueshiba bequeathed a legacy to us that is very different than that of Kisshomaru or the other students. But the essay doesn't really seem to go that far, as I read it.

PeterR
12-02-2015, 12:28 PM
The training methods - most of the major lineages are students who wanted to find a better way to teach than they were taught.

How perfect was Ueshiba Morihei is a question we might need to explore as well. A Shotokan Karate student can say Funakoshi Gichin wasn't the greatest ever for all time, and Judo students will not say no one will ever come close to Kano Jigoro's skills. Lately people like Homma Sensei have written that some of O Sensei's demos were faked.

Just be coincidence there was a biography of Hideao Ohba written by Shishida posted by Eddy Wolput as part of his study group today. Maybe he will repost it here but there were several interesting statements.

Ueshiba's teaching method, which required students to learn with their bodies, obviously would not appeal to educators or to the world of predecessor arts like Judo and Kendo which employed rational, systematic teaching methods.

Now Ueshiba was defined by a set of techniques which were taught and practiced. We know this from books like Budo renshu and that recent film showing near identical techniques separated by 25 years but the statement was referring to a style of training in the 30s. What exactly is meant by learning with their bodies is intriguing.

The other statements were about the demo with Ueshiba which talk in detail about how they were considered fake and why some considered Ueshiba's technique degenerated over time through a desire to impress.

Erick Mead
12-02-2015, 03:29 PM
Gaaaah! I have restrained myself from commenting, but I can't....

The key questions are asked in the summation at the end of the essay that Chris published -- and they are good questions.

What has Modern Aikido been doing for 50 years? Techniques. Why is it that Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Koichi Tohei stated that techniques can be learned in a short amount of time? Doesn't 50 years of focused study on techniques with no worldwide appearance of anyone like Shioda, Shirata, or Ueshiba state something very definitive? Doesn't that state that there are two unique visions of aikido? Morihei Ueshiba's and Modern Aikido's.

What I don't agree with is the premise, or the implication toward the answers to those questions.

I think a companion piece is worthy of consideration -- http://www.aikidocanberra.com/students/essays/aiki-notes-steve-seymour

Mr. Seymour's observations closely echo, in its emphasis the method of approaching aiki by kasutori in doing waza, what Sagawa himself had said in training for aiki by softening the body in tanren: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=339571&postcount=401

It appears to me anyway that the consistent difficulty men like Takeda, Sagawa and Ueshiba had was in struggling to find a reproducible teaching method. Their own experience required them to train with someone until they were "ready" in body and mind to grasp aiki and how to develop it -- and for the most part -- on their own. This appears very consistent across all of their experience. Sagawa was very frank about the futility of trying to teach a student aiki until that point of readiness. I think until very late in their careers (and all being Japanese) such admission were hard for them to make in the first instance -- and likely counterproductive in terms of garnering students.

I see the "Ueshiba Legacy" as taking numerous forms, but I will focus on the three I have trained. Saotome's, Saito's and Aikikai. It appears that the Hombu's abandonment of weapons was an outgrowth of O Sensei's decision to not teach weapons there while simultaneously teaching them in depth at Iwama. This is too naked of a distinction to be error -- he segregated his teaching methods between the two. It seems he indulged other acceptable methodological divisions. (Hikitsuchi comes to mind). If, like Sagawa frankly admits, O Sensei was doubtful that he had come upon the "right" way to teach aiki, he may either have been experimenting in variant methods or perhaps just hedging the bets on his legacy.

In Iwama, riai appears to be the principal approach. In Hombu (Aikikai), ukemi as kasutori was the principal approach (as Suzuki's quote by Seymour above suggested was one path to aiki). These two I have substantial and direct experience in. Shioda took an approach of careful structural attention to detail, much as Seymour above quotes Suzuki about "practicing slowly with concentration and focus." I have some very limited experience in Yoshinkan in Japan under Parker Sensei -- and great respect for this approach. The pattern seems to follow with Hikitsuchi -- a shinto priest -- who took very seriously the symbolic spiritual concept approach (which most people at Hombu simply scratched their heads when the religious lectures were the aikido class). My own analysis of the Doka, from a concrete-concept-in-imagery standpoint, suggests this wasn't a bad way either, though far less followed or understood.

Saotome's aiki seems acceptable to ends of the spectrum (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=298546&postcount=24) on these debates. His approach hybridized the use of Eastern concepts adapted and applied in a more Western analytical and descriptive mode. His weapons teachings are study pieces in those principles. He came to the US to do this, and while O Sensei was dead by then, he claims that he felt it was what Ueshiba would have wanted him to do --and this is also consistent with the methodologically variant patterns noted above that O Sensei expressly kept separate and simultaneously approved.

The final point being, rather than keep debating who has THE legacy, we need to realize -- as the Founder himself seemed to:

1) that it is necessary to ready the students in body and mind before aiki can be readily grasped
2) that the match of the right approach to the right student is the best way for that to happen
3) that no branch of the Aikido tree has its fruit within reach of every student
4) that divisions of method are not in competition, but in mutual support of each other

ALL of these approaches are his legacy. That does not mean that any of them cannot be bettered. We ought, therefore, to be finding ways to better understand each other's methodological approaches, and in mutually supporting and strengthening each of them to better ready the mind and body of the student to grasp aiki in that way.

In our own methods we ought also to be observing the other approaches to see how their insights may help a given student when that student is unduly slow in coming to glimpse aiki in our ways for reasons that the other methods may speak to -- and adapt them as necessary to our tool kits for such students.

O Sensei may have originally segregated these methods to see what was working and how -- but he was himself also the assurance that what proved useful was transferred.

We all -- if we truly aspire to be HIS legacy -- must work together to BE those connections and assure that mutual transmissions occur -- and not harden the divisions that were put there merely for a tutelary purpose. Most assuredly -- we ought not simply try to supplant one method in favor of the "Best" method.

The legacy seems precisely that there is no "BEST" method -- and that the experience of three masters of aiki -- all of whom struggled to transmit it -- confirms the basic premise that grasping aiki is very hard -- and all students are not disposed to receive it, and certainly not all in the same way, nor from the same amount, degree or type of training.

We must keep these connections across methods open and accept unfamiliar things that may help a given student whose grasp in our method may be faltering or not developing at all. Not blindly, and not without critical assessment, but with charity and an eye on the common goal - and the development of our students in aiki.

bkedelen
12-02-2015, 03:32 PM
I think we should support great teachers and training communities, so I'm OK that people post advertisements here, but posting ads that are designed to look like articles seems less cool.

Cliff Judge
12-03-2015, 11:41 AM
I happen to believe that O Sensei left a legacy, it wasn't his to begin with - it was material he learned from Takeda and others and so forth. O Sensei was just a man who was able to consolidate what he learned and demonstrate it. It's the admonishment to chase the material, not the man. For me, this is simply a back tracking task to see where O Sensei got his stuff, then pick up the trail from there. Losing O Sensei as a resource is a lost chronicle, but not necessarily the end of the line.


Jon, if you are talking about Osensei's skills as something you need to go to outside of Aikido to find, then that's not a legacy. At least it's not his legacy. But you state that much yourself - it would be Takeda's legacy, or Sagawa's, or Horikawa's, or etc. And those guys were MUCH more explicit about who they left their legacies to than Ueshiba. :)

jonreading
12-03-2015, 12:09 PM
Well that pretty much mirrors my perspective. I see a long line of tradition and teachers whose relevance to my own study and progress is defined by my distance in time from them. Nariyama, Tomiki, Ueshiba, Takeda, his teachers - a particular name change having no importance - but I am happy to call it Aikido. I think when we talk about a legacy of a particular man we talk about his contribution to the whole and not what he did not pass on. For that reason I rebel against the idea that there is a lost Ueshiba M. legacy.

... and I am opposite in my conclusion. I think O Sensei left a legacy because we have so many references to O Sensei (videos, books, interviews and the like). There is plenty of material from the man, it's just that we (as aikido people) cannot replicate his accomplishments with success. That's part of why I asked Cliff his opinion of legacy. Nobody played baseball like Ted Williams, yet no one would claim that he did not leave a legacy of accomplishments cherished in baseball. Yet we continue to play baseball... If we are going to define legacy as an education passed generationally, I think we are basically claiming that no one in aikido has ever successfully passed on aikido - like a copy of a copy until the quality is degraded... If no one ever got the whole enchilada, then they could not have passed down the whole enchilada.

Some of this is word-smithing as we use "legacy." If our beef is that O Sensei didn't teach it, then there is no way we can also say Doshu taught it (because O Sensei didn't teach it to him). So it seems to reason that Doshu also would not have a legacy. Now if "legacy" is just a pedagogy, everyone should have a legacy because we all have our own teaching systems.

In answer to Cliff's question, I like the argument of outside sources that also trained aiki because it does show other models of education. It thinks it's important to note that other models did exert more influence over who trained and who "got it". While a harsher truth for those training, maybe not so dishonest as to imply everyone training will "get it" if you just train long enough...

For me, legacy is a softer term that implies a lasting impact. For me, this let's me both enjoy the profound impact O Sensei had on aikido and also what The Splendid Splinter did in professional baseball. In both cases, I understand that there will never be another one as I enjoy something bigger than either one.

Cliff Judge
12-03-2015, 12:50 PM
I think its fine if you define legacy that way, Jon, but I just want to point out what you did up there -

You are saying, hey, great baseball player Ted Williams left a legacy of great athletic accomplishments. Just his performance on the field, is his legacy. But then you admit that very few players can hope to match or top him. And that's fine, right?

But Osensei's legacy, which you define the same way - a legacy of accomplishments that we know through lore and some films - is something that we should all shame ourselves for, because none of us match or top him.

I think most folks would see these as two different things.

jonreading
12-03-2015, 02:56 PM
I think its fine if you define legacy that way, Jon, but I just want to point out what you did up there -

You are saying, hey, great baseball player Ted Williams left a legacy of great athletic accomplishments. Just his performance on the field, is his legacy. But then you admit that very few players can hope to match or top him. And that's fine, right?

But Osensei's legacy, which you define the same way - a legacy of accomplishments that we know through lore and some films - is something that we should all shame ourselves for, because none of us match or top him.

I think most folks would see these as two different things.

Well, Kinda. Except not. We can have conversations all day long about how good Wade Boggs was compared to Ted Williams, or DiMaggio, or whomever. And Teddy baseball has been surpassed in several statistics. But we can remember when he was #1 and enjoy that someone made him #2. And we can argue with authority that we once was #1 for a reason.

I think your list gets really small when you start comparing people to what Ueshiba accomplished in aikido. I never said anything about shame, but I think if you find a metric of comparison, we should raise some eyebrows that whatever we are doing, it ain't getting us into the big leagues to play with the heavyweights. I think you are correct that we have yet to produce someone who who surpassed O Sensei's skills.

The joy of that argument is that we can flavor why we like our favorites, not just because they are qualified but also because we liked what they did. When I hear comments that excuse why we can't be like someone, there is no joy in the debate. Because not only do we have no contenders against the old man, we come up shy against the old students, Shioda, Mochizuki, Shirata, Tohei, Tomiki, etc.; although, we have a better argument against them. You say O Sensei was a charlatan with no goods. Fine. What about Tohei? Shioda? The list of excuses that disqualify these people gets pretty long and many of these people also have videos, books, quotes and the like. What ever happened to Occam's Razor?

Cliff Judge
12-03-2015, 03:58 PM
Well, Kinda. Except not. We can have conversations all day long about how good Wade Boggs was compared to Ted Williams, or DiMaggio, or whomever. And Teddy baseball has been surpassed in several statistics. But we can remember when he was #1 and enjoy that someone made him #2. And we can argue with authority that we once was #1 for a reason.

I think your list gets really small when you start comparing people to what Ueshiba accomplished in aikido. I never said anything about shame, but I think if you find a metric of comparison, we should raise some eyebrows that whatever we are doing, it ain't getting us into the big leagues to play with the heavyweights. I think you are correct that we have yet to produce someone who who surpassed O Sensei's skills.

The joy of that argument is that we can flavor why we like our favorites, not just because they are qualified but also because we liked what they did. When I hear comments that excuse why we can't be like someone, there is no joy in the debate. Because not only do we have no contenders against the old man, we come up shy against the old students, Shioda, Mochizuki, Shirata, Tohei, Tomiki, etc.; although, we have a better argument against them. You say O Sensei was a charlatan with no goods. Fine. What about Tohei? Shioda? The list of excuses that disqualify these people gets pretty long and many of these people also have videos, books, quotes and the like. What ever happened to Occam's Razor?

But you at least agree that pro baseball players are not teachers, and none of them actually founded baseball? And there is no expectation that they should be actively training other players to be as good as them when they are on the field? But this does not mean that someone who wants to be very good at baseball should really focus on cricket, because playing baseball is never going to get you into the big leagues?

jonreading
12-04-2015, 08:24 AM
But you at least agree that pro baseball players are not teachers, and none of them actually founded baseball? And there is no expectation that they should be actively training other players to be as good as them when they are on the field? But this does not mean that someone who wants to be very good at baseball should really focus on cricket, because playing baseball is never going to get you into the big leagues?

Not all pro baseball players are teachers. But several players became coaches, managers and owners of baseball teams. My own beloved Nolan Ryan taught pitching clinics and owned a number of baseball teams after retiring from baseball. And many successful players were groomed by their predecessors, take the movie, Bull Durham, for example, as an illustration of that process. While no one player would claim to have invented baseball, there are several good arguments made that players like Babe Ruth "saved" baseball by bringing it to the forefront of American sports. Who will ever forget Yogi Berra? Lou Gehrig? So you do have several illustrations of players who took their involvement to a level of stewardship that advanced the game and left a lasting impact on the sport. Remember, O Sensei did not create aiki, he simply gave rules to practicing aiki training. Those rules were changed by subsequent generations.

Cricket is credibly considered as one of two sports that likely was the predecessor of baseball (the other being Rounders), so yes, you could make some argument that practicing your cricket bat may improve your baseball hitting; whether that training would improve the entirety of your play is doubtful. More likely, you would see an elevation of your body skills if you trained with the cricket team. This is the reason why we have gyms - to elevate our body condition. Again, you see professional athletes work out with their college alma mata all the time. Do you think they think that is taboo? Or ineffective?

Most of my baseball training, even through a collegiate level, was predominately calisthenics, cardiovascular exercise, strength training and coordinated movement. By comparison, far more time was spent conditioning my body versus hitting, throwing and fielding. This is similar to other athletics like football, basketball, soccer and golf. Dustin Johnson (a professional golfer) played basketball for the University of Kentucky and still prefers many of his basketball exercises to condition his body for golf. Reggis White played Sumo and Judo. Dion Sanders and Bo Jackson played baseball and football. Jim Thorpe played everything. What works, works. Our perspective that aikido is a one-stop shop, or that aikido is the sole place to train aiki, is ridiculous. As best it is a boastful claim, at worst a barrier of exclusivity. It has one validation, to keep some people focused on training a specific set of skills.

Body movement is body movement. The reason top athletics can successfully play multiple sports is because they move correctly and those core abilities give them significant advantage to learning new sports. I have stuck with the sports analogy because I think it illustrates the different rules by which we evaluate Aikido. I don't think its coincidence that the transition from body exercises to technique orientation correlates with a decline in aiki skill within aikido people.

The thought that teaching is a path to legacy is a neo-academic wish. It's a desire to take an impressionable mind and beat it into your image, not transmit knowledge. This also happens to be a critical observation of contemporary academics. Leadership is the path to legacy and leadership is not the same as teaching, even if they overlap. This is why I think both father and son held legacies. We can be critical of Doshu's aikido, but he made aikido a world-wide name and that is something.

phitruong
12-04-2015, 09:33 AM
you guys are too obsessed with balls. cut it out!

Lets face it. Ueshiba Sr left an aikido that was hard to teach to the mass, because it' was mostly principle based. He probably could careless what technique you do, as long as you do it while you are one with the universe, and crossing the bridge over the trouble water, and with love, and peace and goodwill toward mankind (didn't mention anything about animal so i am safe to have a steak or two or three).

Ueshiba Jr went about to codify the aikido curriculum (probably "encouraged" other offshoot organizations to do the same) with definitive movements that can be taught to the mass and make everyone feeling good about themselves while learning a destructive physical endeavour (sort of how to use a sheathed knife).

you have two learning/teaching approaches. with Sr, it would involved some sort of aiki, IS, IT, ipad kind of thing, which are tedious, boring, and time consuming and just down right not sexy (at least, not in a skirt). whereas with Jr, you have these nice big sweeping movements, with body flying everywhere, skirt flaring (not the Marilyn Monroe kind), people laughing, partying and dancing in the rain. while telling everyone that's it a martial art, like kungfu and karate, but better looking and just as effective. it's very sexy, so the mass likes that. now that's what i called good marketing.

here is a question for you folks who had experience with Saotome sensei. you think it's easy to learn his aikido? why/why not? versus some one like Yamada sensei or Saito sensei? one hint, Saotome used to say "Aikido no style. Aikido principles and ideas is" ok, one more hint, why is it that none of Saotome's direct students move like him or move like each other? now compare that to folks in USAF or Iwama and so on.

you know sometimes the example is right in front of us, but we don't often see it.

Cliff Judge
12-04-2015, 10:26 AM
You make a lot of great points here, Jon. It seems that bringing up the subject of baseball sharpens you up a bit. :)

I feel like you've added a lot of depth to the discussion of the difference between the legacy of Osensei and the Nidai Doshu here. We can say they are two different types of thing: Kisshomaru (and other senior students of course) created martial systems and organizations to promulgate them. Osensei is a guy who went very far and accomplished much; he's an inspiration, a paragon.

If Osensei is really your guy and you are passionate about following in his footsteps, of course you will take any opportunity you can to get out there, see what's available, and cross train in anything you think might help you get there.

FWIW though....

Remember, O Sensei did not create aiki, he simply gave rules to practicing aiki training. Those rules were changed by subsequent generations.

To the extent that Osensei actually did give rules to practice aiki training, he made many changes himself throughout his career. This is pretty relevant to our discussion - if we are speaking of Ueshiba's legacy in terms of him being an inspirational example, shouldn't we be counting up how many different legacies he left?


Our perspective that aikido is a one-stop shop, or that aikido is the sole place to train aiki, is ridiculous. As best it is a boastful claim, at worst a barrier of exclusivity. It has one validation, to keep some people focused on training a specific set of skills.

Sorry, everybody, but I gotta do this...

You can train aiki in Aikido. You can train aiki in Daito ryu. Not all DR teachers will take students that also wish to continue their Aikido training though. Aiki has a different type of focus in different lines of Daito ryu too.

There are plenty of places to train completely different things which seem very similar, and can certainly feed into your practice of aiki in a beneficial way, but are not properly termed "aiki". ;)

(Also there is aiki in Toda-ha Buko ryu!)


I don't think its coincidence that the transition from body exercises to technique orientation correlates with a decline in aiki skill within aikido people.

The technical orientation may have degenerated in some manner (IMO, it was the move from traditional, personal one-on-one instruction to Takeda's seminar format that caused this) but Japanese martial arts are kata based - a good koryu is comprised of kata that include body skill development as well as other things.

I'm not sure if the video of old vs new Osensei David posted in another thread nails the coffin shut, but it really should be clear that Osensei was largely technically oriented throughout his career.

The thought that teaching is a path to legacy is a neo-academic wish. It's a desire to take an impressionable mind and beat it into your image, not transmit knowledge. This also happens to be a critical observation of contemporary academics. Leadership is the path to legacy and leadership is not the same as teaching, even if they overlap. This is why I think both father and son held legacies. We can be critical of Doshu's aikido, but he made aikido a world-wide name and that is something.

"Taking an impressionable mind and beating it into your image" is an EXCELLENT way to describe the older teaching model of Japanese martial arts (and non-martial arts also btw). And its a proven model in the sense that you can enter any of dozens of dojos in Japan, Europe, the USA, etc, and learn very similar material to what was taught 400+ years ago. Skill, maybe not, but knowledge, absolutely. THAT is a legacy, my friend.

Leadership? Sure, absolutely. To what extent Ueshiba was a great leader is an extremely interesting question. Leaders are sometimes very active and head-cracky, but sometimes they are just figureheads surrounded by people who tell them what they want to hear, and who make decisions in their name....Japanese culture seems to like the latter type of leader quite a bit.

Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jon, I appreciate them even if I disagree with them. :)

rugwithlegs
12-04-2015, 10:35 AM
I know several former students of New York Aikikai who would describe the dojo as "Law of the Jungle." It is my own experience that Yamada Sensei has very few students whose movements look like him. But, looking like someone means imitating technique and external images.

I did spend a decade in a style of bagua that focused on principles and not techniques. For people with other martial arts backgrounds, lots of techniques at the ready in the body and in the mind, the focus on principles was very enlightening and empowering.

For students who had never been in a fight or didn't see how to connect the principle to application, they learned healthy principles for opening doors or carrying groceries but still needed to have someone show them techniques. The principles of body movement or mind-body principles are not different for other arts, or even non-artistic endeavors.

I decided for myself that archetypal techniques are the best way to teach principles so long as the principle as well defined and variations are encouraged. Haven't figured it out yet, as there are too many examples of people who know the technique but not the principle.

PeterR
12-04-2015, 11:12 AM
I'm not sure if the video of old vs new Osensei David posted in another thread nails the coffin shut, but it really should be clear that Osensei was largely technically oriented throughout his career.

When you talk about Ueshiba it is useful to examine the training in any of the pre-war dojo where he was actively training students. There is no evidence of any shift of body work to a technical orientation. We hear students talking about his excellent technique not spending hours doing body work. I do not understand where this idea of a shift comes from.

Using the techniques to learn desired principles rather than just the techniques themselves is a model that continues to be used.

Ellis Amdur
12-04-2015, 11:59 AM
In my view, there is a little confusion about things here. If Ueshiba Morihei's teaching was so inchoate, why did each and every one of his disciples end up with variants of the same techniques. Ueshiba Kisshomaru definitely organized a curriculum, but in reading this thread, it seems almost as if the son created modern aikido technique. Speaking for myself, my thesis of Hidden in Plain Sight was that Ueshiba was ALSO teaching the methodology of how to develop internal strength while he was teaching technique. If you read the long account of the life of Shirata Rinjiro, he describes handling challenge matches with idimi, followed by ikkyo, shihonage, atemi or nikkyo The same techniques done now. I do agree that the successors of Ueshiba Morihei got varying amounts (to nil) of the methodology he used to develop his 'aiki,' but honestly, aside from paring away many Daito-ryu techniques, the form of ueshiba's Daito-ryu,-aikibudo - aikido is largely the same. It would be worthwhile to refer back to John Driscoll's exemplary column on this. (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?filter[1]=John%20Driscoll&t=15096)

jonreading
12-04-2015, 12:18 PM
When you talk about Ueshiba it is useful to examine the training in any of the pre-war dojo where he was actively training students. There is no evidence of any shift of body work to a technical orientation. We hear students talking about his excellent technique not spending hours doing body work. I do not understand where this idea of a shift comes from.

Using the techniques to learn desired principles rather than just the techniques themselves is a model that continues to be used.

This is another critical perception, I think. A leap of faith, maybe. Choreography shows... choreography. It does not diminish what we are talking about that O Sensei wished to demonstrate proper movement. Do all koryu's train the way we see them demonstrate publicly? Substantial conversation for another thread, but important.

That we look at a training methodology tha has been used for a long time without substantial gain and do not challenge the model is an enigma to me. It's not that kata is bad or form is bad, only that I think you cannot substantiate a claim that if you do kata enough, you will be OK. I think when you hear me talk about body work, kata is part of the body work. So is stretching, so is movement coordination. I contest is the empty shape we make while our partner conspires to make the shape successful. I contest the idea that watching someone move their foot in an arc is equivalent to specifying that the foot must move in an arc. I contest that observing someone move with precision is equivalent to technical movement.

Knowledge can be a legacy, but only when it's used. For example, we all know who is Albert Einstein, but who taught him math? The very thing that made him famous, a legacy of knowledge passed to Albert Einstein, but collectively a group of unknown people. Why? it was Einstein who used the knowledge. Why is a critical knowledge. My beef with kata is that is sometimes omits why and remains just do. If you don't know why you're moving your foot, or your hand, or keeping your head still, you do not know why you move. If you do not know why you move, then you do not know body movement (as a caveat to this rant, I do not consider evasion to be body movement). In the beginning, shape can help us move. But if we are still relying on shape later in our training, we're not really advancing our knowledge. If we're not advancing our knowledge, we're not really advancing its legacy...

Sorry for hogging the thread, but I think this is a good conversation.

sorokod
12-04-2015, 01:56 PM
That we look at a training methodology tha has been used for a long time without substantial gain and do not challenge the model is an enigma to me. It's not that kata is bad or form is bad, only that I think you cannot substantiate a claim that if you do kata enough, you will be OK.



Before ditching (or de-emphasizing) form based training, have you considered the possibility that the issue may be with the content of the forms you practice or the way you practice forms rather then the general principal?

jonreading
12-07-2015, 08:22 AM
Before ditching (or de-emphasizing) form based training, have you considered the possibility that the issue may be with the content of the forms you practice or the way you practice forms rather then the general principal?

Absolutely a folly with our kata system is that the content of our movement is lacking substance. But that is an argument of low-hanging fruit because most form systems struggle to maintain quality in form work. I think it gives us permission to mea culpa and move on without really changing what's going on. "Mistakes were made," is not a good strategy for correcting issues, only acknowledging them.

And to be clear, I am not suggesting that we scrap kata, only that we seek to understand it and let the merits of correct movement show. Reading the same post in which you find this quote you'll also read that I am contesting bad form, not calling for the abandonment of form. Some of this is conjecture, of course. For me, I see largely a system that has continued to produce diminishing returns of skill, compared against several examples of individuals of whose skill we have not yet been able to regain. If given to the idea of "technical curriculum", one might raise the specter of criticism about the quality of forms we inherited. Unless there is something missing...

In answer to your question, yes, I do think we were doing our kata wrong. Heck, we were doing the exercises before kata wrong. Heck, we were standing wrong. Wanna know the real bombshell? If I was not moving correctly in form, how could I possibly have been able to perform waza? I wasn't. I am now moving to rectify my training, but that observation was one of the most glaring illustrations that I was not doing "aiki", but rather something else.

Dialogues like what Mark initiated gave me pause to think and critically look at why I was doing what I was doing. Other resources for sister arts and internal arts illustrate divergent teaching that also showed gaps in my understanding. None of this is bad, but if I wanna get from point A to point B, I gotta know what point B is.

Cliff Judge
12-07-2015, 10:04 AM
]For me, I see largely a system that has continued to produce diminishing returns of skill, compared against several examples of individuals of whose skill we have not yet been able to regain.


None of this is bad, but if I wanna get from point A to point B, I gotta know what point B is.

What is point B for you?

Going back to the question of what kind of thing Osensei's legacy is, I notice that you make that type of reference often - "diminishing returns of skill" over time. It is clear you feel that successive generations of Aikido people are not as good as the last.

But the thing is, this generation is people you can meet and train with today. Last generation, you can meet people who trained with them personally, and hear about how good they were. The further back you go, the tangibility of the knowledge of how skilled folks were is what diminishes.

PeterR
12-07-2015, 10:27 AM
But the thing is, this generation is people you can meet and train with today. Last generation, you can meet people who trained with them personally, and hear about how good they were. The further back you go, the tangibility of the knowledge of how skilled folks were is what diminishes.

Not to mention growing with the telling.

Going back two generations all we really have is a level of skill that made an impression on contemporaries filled in with hyperbole.

phitruong
12-07-2015, 11:07 AM
Going back to the question of what kind of thing Osensei's legacy is, I notice that you make that type of reference often - "diminishing returns of skill" over time. It is clear you feel that successive generations of Aikido people are not as good as the last.

But the thing is, this generation is people you can meet and train with today. Last generation, you can meet people who trained with them personally, and hear about how good they were. The further back you go, the tangibility of the knowledge of how skilled folks were is what diminishes.

don't need to go that far. case in point, Saotome sensei was direct student of O Sensei. Saotome's still alive and within reaching distance. Ikeda sensei. Anyone in ASU (other than Saotome) can even come close to be able to do what he does? i would be so very happy i could find a second person. and yes, i have took ukemi for both. Don't need to go far.

Cliff Judge
12-07-2015, 12:39 PM
don't need to go that far. case in point, Saotome sensei was direct student of O Sensei. Saotome's still alive and within reaching distance. Ikeda sensei. Anyone in ASU (other than Saotome) can even come close to be able to do what he does? i would be so very happy i could find a second person. and yes, i have took ukemi for both. Don't need to go far.

My point is - how do you know Saotome Sensei isn't better than Osensei ever was? Answer: you can't really. You'd have to take his word for it, he'd never admit it, and he actually wouldn't be able to make an objective comparison anyway.

I don't want to embarass anybody by mentioning names but the ASU actually does have a shihan or two who I think are quite close to Saotome Sensei's level. That's my subjective opinion. :)

(and they were there before ever meeting you-know-who).

jonreading
12-07-2015, 12:41 PM
Phi is correct, this time, at least. We have some access to people and I think we should feel some pressure to learn what they have to share before they are gone. Yes, that resource is diminishing. Part of what I like about Mark's essay is that it gets us to think about what we are following. I think many people do not realize Aikido is not what O Sensei did. I am fond of using "diminishing" because I don't want a qualitative argument - I want to leave room for personal flavor. But the concentration of knowledge by individuals within aikido is getting smaller and less coherent. This is not a criticism, only a comment about conservation.

For me, point A is surpassing the education I inherited from my instructors; this is a tall order for me. I am hypocritical if I do not acknowledge a pressure to succeed my predecessors. Point B is seeking out the next level of education to advance my personal aikido. I don't happen to feel the the next level for me is gonna come from doing ikkyo for 20 years (or any other common phrase promoting aikido's "don't die" strategy for promotion); I happen to think it comes from ilearning about aiki and I know that's a taboo topic around here. But my point B doesn't have to be [your] point B.

sorokod
12-07-2015, 06:37 PM
Absolutely a folly with our kata system is that the content of our movement is lacking substance. But that is an argument of low-hanging fruit because most form systems struggle to maintain quality in form work. I think it gives us permission to mea culpa and move on without really changing what's going on. "Mistakes were made," is not a good strategy for correcting issues, only acknowledging them.

And to be clear, I am not suggesting that we scrap kata, only that we seek to understand it and let the merits of correct movement show. Reading the same post in which you find this quote you'll also read that I am contesting bad form, not calling for the abandonment of form. Some of this is conjecture, of course. For me, I see largely a system that has continued to produce diminishing returns of skill, compared against several examples of individuals of whose skill we have not yet been able to regain. If given to the idea of "technical curriculum", one might raise the specter of criticism about the quality of forms we inherited. Unless there is something missing...

In answer to your question, yes, I do think we were doing our kata wrong. Heck, we were doing the exercises before kata wrong. Heck, we were standing wrong. Wanna know the real bombshell? If I was not moving correctly in form, how could I possibly have been able to perform waza? I wasn't. I am now moving to rectify my training, but that observation was one of the most glaring illustrations that I was not doing "aiki", but rather something else.

Dialogues like what Mark initiated gave me pause to think and critically look at why I was doing what I was doing. Other resources for sister arts and internal arts illustrate divergent teaching that also showed gaps in my understanding. None of this is bad, but if I wanna get from point A to point B, I gotta know what point B is.

I appreciate the honesty and the courage it takes to examine your own training and to find it lacking. Looks like you have decided that "aiki" is the fundamental element that was missing from you practice.

This is what I remember of the aiki/ip debates from a few years ago (all archived somewhere here)

1. Among the proponents of aiki/ip there was no agreement on what these terms mean, if they mean the same thing in different contexts (Aikido, Daito-ryu) or where they originate.
2. The people who claimed that they could demonstrate and teach aiki/ip where in disagreement about every aspect of each other's claims (I am thinking Mike Sigman and Dan Harden here)
3. For me, the most interesting question was if and how all this is related to Aikido. There were two somewhat independent lines of inquiry:

Line the first - Historical: Did the founder demonstrated aiki/ip? If he did what was it? Where did he get it from? Did he teach it to any of his students? Did he think it was important etc...
Line the second - Current: Who is capable of demonstrating and teaching the founder's aiki/ip today?

Regarding "Line the first" I am not a historian but know enough to treat sources and quotes with caution. I am also very much suspicious of the "cherry picking" approach to sources which is the device by which sources that contradict the point that is being made are ignored. "The Words" section of Mark Murray's article is a list of quotes that lead the reader to the conclusion that Ueshiba's teaching method was confusing, if there was a teaching method at all, and in terms of knowledge transmission this branch of Aikido is a dead end.

It would have been interesting to contrast this line of reasoning with the fact that Ueshiba was personally teaching in:
* Nakano military school
* Toyama military school
* Army University in Yotsuya
* The Naval Academy
* Osaka Asahi Shinbun - three years, this one resulted (with the participation of Takeda - another formless teacher) in the Takumakai branch of Daito-ryu. Takumakai ended up with a "legacy" of over 500 documented techniques from those days.

But why complicate things?

One more example - in this interview with Shioda ( http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/aikido-judo-gozo-shioda-masahiko-kimura ) we have "When I was being taught by Ueshiba sensei, I never knew from day to day what I would be taught. One day would be extremely advanced, and the next would be basics". This is off course different from the Shioda quote in M. Murray's piece "at the Ueshiba Dojo in the old days we didn't explicitly have any pre-set forms"

Given the woolliness of the subject matter, the personality of the founder, the passage of time, the quality of research, etc... I am not holding my breath waiting for definitive answers.

Regarding "Line the second". Dan Harden remained the only candidate (Minoru Akuzawa was also mentioned but he seemed not to have an Aikido connection) as Mike Sigman stopped posting on AikiWeb.
I would have dearly liked for lineage to be unimportant (a twice removed appeal to authority) but unfortunately I believe it is, in this discussion. For some reason the lineage of aiki/ip proponents tends to be patchy (i.e. there are multiple sources) if it is known at all (what is M Murray's Aikido background?). My personal interest in "Line the second" declined after it transpired that Dan Harden "was not an Aikido person".

If memory serves, the argument for Dan Harden went like so:
1. Takeda had aiki/ip
2. Takeda passed it on to Ueshiba and othe senior students
3. Dan Harden has a Daito-ryu background
4. Dan Harden has good bodywork
5. Some (two?) high graded Aikido teachers where reported to recognize Dan's skills as those of the founder

I think that this the context for the "Speaking of aiki, ..." paragraph in "The Training" section of M Murray's piece, the Dan Harden foreword to the article and the recent addition of "here's what a direct student of Morihei Ueshiba had to say upon meeting Dan"

Best of luck with your training

jonreading
12-08-2015, 10:23 AM
I appreciate the honesty and the courage it takes to examine your own training and to find it lacking. Looks like you have decided that "aiki" is the fundamental element that was missing from you practice.

This is what I remember of the aiki/ip debates from a few years ago (all archived somewhere here)

1. Among the proponents of aiki/ip there was no agreement on what these terms mean, if they mean the same thing in different contexts (Aikido, Daito-ryu) or where they originate.
2. The people who claimed that they could demonstrate and teach aiki/ip where in disagreement about every aspect of each other's claims (I am thinking Mike Sigman and Dan Harden here)
3. For me, the most interesting question was if and how all this is related to Aikido. There were two somewhat independent lines of inquiry:

Line the first - Historical: Did the founder demonstrated aiki/ip? If he did what was it? Where did he get it from? Did he teach it to any of his students? Did he think it was important etc...
Line the second - Current: Who is capable of demonstrating and teaching the founder's aiki/ip today?

Regarding "Line the first" I am not a historian but know enough to treat sources and quotes with caution. I am also very much suspicious of the "cherry picking" approach to sources which is the device by which sources that contradict the point that is being made are ignored. "The Words" section of Mark Murray's article is a list of quotes that lead the reader to the conclusion that Ueshiba's teaching method was confusing, if there was a teaching method at all, and in terms of knowledge transmission this branch of Aikido is a dead end.

It would have been interesting to contrast this line of reasoning with the fact that Ueshiba was personally teaching in:
* Nakano military school
* Toyama military school
* Army University in Yotsuya
* The Naval Academy
* Osaka Asahi Shinbun - three years, this one resulted (with the participation of Takeda - another formless teacher) in the Takumakai branch of Daito-ryu. Takumakai ended up with a "legacy" of over 500 documented techniques from those days.

But why complicate things?

One more example - in this interview with Shioda ( http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/aikido-judo-gozo-shioda-masahiko-kimura ) we have "When I was being taught by Ueshiba sensei, I never knew from day to day what I would be taught. One day would be extremely advanced, and the next would be basics". This is off course different from the Shioda quote in M. Murray's piece "at the Ueshiba Dojo in the old days we didn't explicitly have any pre-set forms"

Given the woolliness of the subject matter, the personality of the founder, the passage of time, the quality of research, etc... I am not holding my breath waiting for definitive answers.

Regarding "Line the second". Dan Harden remained the only candidate (Minoru Akuzawa was also mentioned but he seemed not to have an Aikido connection) as Mike Sigman stopped posting on AikiWeb.
I would have dearly liked for lineage to be unimportant (a twice removed appeal to authority) but unfortunately I believe it is, in this discussion. For some reason the lineage of aiki/ip proponents tends to be patchy (i.e. there are multiple sources) if it is known at all (what is M Murray's Aikido background?). My personal interest in "Line the second" declined after it transpired that Dan Harden "was not an Aikido person".

If memory serves, the argument for Dan Harden went like so:
1. Takeda had aiki/ip
2. Takeda passed it on to Ueshiba and othe senior students
3. Dan Harden has a Daito-ryu background
4. Dan Harden has good bodywork
5. Some (two?) high graded Aikido teachers where reported to recognize Dan's skills as those of the founder

I think that this the context for the "Speaking of aiki, ..." paragraph in "The Training" section of M Murray's piece, the Dan Harden foreword to the article and the recent addition of "here's what a direct student of Morihei Ueshiba had to say upon meeting Dan"

Best of luck with your training

Yes, I felt after working with several people whom I respect that a critical element missing from my training was "aiki" - a specific, concrete thing that I could train. There are competing theories and I was proactive in making that bed. Ellis' books were very helpful in building the evidence I needed to make my decision. I also met several people with various experience to help decide what I wanted.

I think a critical issue with the aiki debate is that most of us believe we have aiki. Then we work out with someone who does have aiki and we recognize the gulf in skill that exists between us. That was a very personal experience for me and crystallized what direction I wanted my training to go. But that is a tough pill to swallow after 10-20 or 30 years of aikido training... Some of that frustration leaked into many of the aiki discussions and tainted the information. To our discredit, I think. It does not change the fact that we do not have aiki, but it was directed at containing people from looking into that [missing] detail.

I think another critical issue with the aiki discussion is the work is not readily consumable. Frankly, I think aiki training is boring, depressing and unsexy. It's also necessary. But, I think it is not for everyone. This is another issue that complicates the discussion, aiki is exclusive - you don't get aiki by paying dues, or attending seminars, or hanging around for 20 years. I think there are many people who aren't interested in that kind of training, but they also don't really want to work with people who train this way, either.

I think a third critical issue with the aiki discussion is that we believe aiki is a possession of aikido, exclusive to our art and not found elsewhere. It isn't. There are a number of arts that train with energy movement, our spiral energy is just one. What happens when a tai chi girl comes into the dojo and says, "We do spiral energy, too. Show me your wu shu." Our perspective of aiki is somewhat myopic and gives us trouble when we have to show what we do to others.

This thread is more about the third issue. That we need to better understand what we do and why we do it. Also, we need to move away for aiki being a possession of a person or an art. There are individuals who have this perspective, but I am not aware of any large groups that collectively have this perspective. I believe ASU is the closest group to this perspective and that is one of the reasons why I belong to ASU.

These are hard questions to ask yourself and the answers can be Earth-shaking. It's not for everybody. We joke about the decision being akin to the decision presented to Neo in The Matrix, that you enter a different world with new obstacles and reality. Does it complicate things? Sure. But for me, seeing things done the way I used to do them just seems wrong.

There are ways to understand how aiki works. O Sensei was a resource; there are other resources if you look for them. But it is research work - no one is gonna hand you "aiki" boxed up with a ribbon. Mark's giving you a preview of that research in his essay. That is more related to the larger question of researching the information to be confident in our decisions about training. Absolutely, there's noise that is not relevant to the salient points around which we train. We cherry pick our training anyway, both in the physical curriculum and the philosophical curriculum. How is this any different from choosing to train cuddly, post-war O Sensei or hell dojo, pre-war O Sensei? Pick a poison and enjoy.

Cliff Judge
12-08-2015, 11:24 AM
I think a critical issue with the aiki debate is that most of us believe we have aiki.

Really? Did you believe aiki was a form of power before you began training with IP people? I am curious because I never had this belief myself, nor have I ever believed that aiki is a "power" that one has or has not.

Chris Li has done a lot of work translating writings, lectures, and interviews of and adjacent to the Founder, and I acknowledge that some people feel that he was only and exactly referring to generating internal power in these writings. I am not sure if that has been Mr. Li's agenda but I feel that some of the other players have been rather strenuously focused on that. It makes sense if you are truly inspired by the "things Osensei could do" or the "power of Osensei." And thus aiki becomes just internal power. And Osensei's legacy becomes the lost secret of internal power.

But under Osensei's students, who perhaps didn't understand what he was saying and perceived these lectures as spiritual, mystical stuff, aiki became something that could be abstracted into a philosophy of life.

And seriously, dude - that's what gets people in the door even today. For me that's the better legacy - that aiki is a philosophy that empowers practitioners to solve conflict without entering it or being changed by it.

If Osensei was really talking "simply" about internal power, sorry, he did a terrible job. he was giving out gokui without giving people a coherent training system which would allow them to understand the gokui. That's a problem that Japanese swordsmen solved in the late 1500s. No excuse.

But I don't think he was simply talking about internal power. I think he really was trying to take a principle to its broadest possible concept and honestly hoped his art would transform the world.

Also, not a dang thing my Aikido teacher has ever told me resonated for one second with the idea that aiki is a power that one has or doesn't have. That's just my experience, but it is what it is.

P.S. other arts might have internal skills but they don't have aiki.

Chris Li
12-08-2015, 12:06 PM
Since I've been mentioned, I'll make a brief comment. It's not an either/or - Bill Gleason (who is one of just a few people in the world who can really discuss what the Founder wrote with authority) summarized this quite nicely in the comment appended to Richard Moon's article available here (http://extraordinarylistening.com/blog/2015/10/09/the-skills-the-art-and-the-path/).

Best,

Chris

jonreading
12-08-2015, 03:04 PM
Really? Did you believe aiki was a form of power before you began training with IP people? I am curious because I never had this belief myself, nor have I ever believed that aiki is a "power" that one has or has not.

Chris Li has done a lot of work translating writings, lectures, and interviews of and adjacent to the Founder, and I acknowledge that some people feel that he was only and exactly referring to generating internal power in these writings. I am not sure if that has been Mr. Li's agenda but I feel that some of the other players have been rather strenuously focused on that. It makes sense if you are truly inspired by the "things Osensei could do" or the "power of Osensei." And thus aiki becomes just internal power. And Osensei's legacy becomes the lost secret of internal power.

But under Osensei's students, who perhaps didn't understand what he was saying and perceived these lectures as spiritual, mystical stuff, aiki became something that could be abstracted into a philosophy of life.

And seriously, dude - that's what gets people in the door even today. For me that's the better legacy - that aiki is a philosophy that empowers practitioners to solve conflict without entering it or being changed by it.

If Osensei was really talking "simply" about internal power, sorry, he did a terrible job. he was giving out gokui without giving people a coherent training system which would allow them to understand the gokui. That's a problem that Japanese swordsmen solved in the late 1500s. No excuse.

But I don't think he was simply talking about internal power. I think he really was trying to take a principle to its broadest possible concept and honestly hoped his art would transform the world.

Also, not a dang thing my Aikido teacher has ever told me resonated for one second with the idea that aiki is a power that one has or doesn't have. That's just my experience, but it is what it is.

P.S. other arts might have internal skills but they don't have aiki.

Yes, my instructor started looking into Chinese martial arts some time back because [I believe] he recognized that aiki could be specifically trained and he felt the Chinese martial arts had a better system for that specific training. That was a point of origin for me to look closer at an internal training system. In my early research, I met several people who claimed to do "internal" training, only to find out they did not. Eventually, I found several great resources that got me on the trajectory I wanted.
One of the things my instructor said about the Chinese martial art he trained was that he felt more definitive "aiki" from his sifu than most aikido people.

I believe aiki is a trainable skill. I believe aiki exists in other arts. I think there is sufficient evidence in this regard and it has opened up several resources for scrutiny and comparison against what we do in aikido. And yes, I thought I had aiki until I touched people who had aiki. I feel I have a responsibility to my training that transcends what gets people in the door and goes to what the art is about.

Here's the thing, if aiki isn't a skill, why aren't there more Hiroshi Ikedas? Or Bill Gleasons? Or George Ledyards? How come they got something we don't? If you think it's just time on the mat, you're wrong.

Cliff Judge
12-09-2015, 12:39 PM
Yes, my instructor started looking into Chinese martial arts some time back because [I believe] he recognized that aiki could be specifically trained and he felt the Chinese martial arts had a better system for that specific training. That was a point of origin for me to look closer at an internal training system. In my early research, I met several people who claimed to do "internal" training, only to find out they did not. Eventually, I found several great resources that got me on the trajectory I wanted.
One of the things my instructor said about the Chinese martial art he trained was that he felt more definitive "aiki" from his sifu than most aikido people.

I believe aiki is a trainable skill. I believe aiki exists in other arts. I think there is sufficient evidence in this regard and it has opened up several resources for scrutiny and comparison against what we do in aikido. And yes, I thought I had aiki until I touched people who had aiki. I feel I have a responsibility to my training that transcends what gets people in the door and goes to what the art is about.

Here's the thing, if aiki isn't a skill, why aren't there more Hiroshi Ikedas? Or Bill Gleasons? Or George Ledyards? How come they got something we don't? If you think it's just time on the mat, you're wrong.

I absolutely get your passion and commitment to drive your skills, and I really admire that.

With regard to your instructor, I recognize that you are just explaining your understanding of matters and they are likely more complicated than this. But it is interesting to me that you say he went to Chinese sources to learn how to specifically train aiki.

I know a large number of folks who do or did Aikido who also went fairly deep into Chinese martial arts. And none of them seem particularly motivated to talk about the principles in the Chinese arts with Japanese labels. Its not that there aren't similarities or that training in one wouldn't benefit the other. Its just that once they were sufficiently steeped in their particular icm, they became comfortable with that other art's concepts and vocabulary.

My own experience is that way too, though its with koryu and not internal power, which I don't think is that interesting. When I started training kenjutsu I was thrilled by what I perceived as cognate concepts between sword training and Aikido training. I attempted to synthesize wherever possible. I tried to move like a Yagyu swordsman when practicing Aikido, and I spent a huge amount of time while doing kenjutsu thinking about how I would alter the Aikido sword katas to be "more like real swordsmanship."

But after a few years, I realized I was doing myself harm, and the other art was causing frustrations and lack of development in the one I was training right now. Its not that there aren't similarities or "ur-principles" that span both arts, its just that it isn't really useful to focus on them. If all you want to see are similarities, you will ignore important differences.

When I hear of your instructor going to internal chinese arts to develop a method for teaching what he considers to be "aiki" I have to wonder how much of that chinese art is getting thrown under the bus or blended in with different concepts. I wonder if the sifu was okay with your instructor taking the knowledge that was shared with him and teaching it as "aiki."

I disagree with you about what aiki is - that's no surprise to anybody - but I don't understand why you think if its not a skill, that there aren't more like Ikeda Sensei, Gleason, or George. I have definitely made advances over the years training with Ikeda Sensei, who does not throw the term "aiki" around much in my experience, but rather talks about changes, internal, breaking balance, etc.

Mary Eastland
12-09-2015, 06:50 PM
Here's the thing, if aiki isn't a skill, why aren't there more Hiroshi Ikedas? Or Bill Gleasons? Or George Ledyards? How come they got something we don't? If you think it's just time on the mat, you're wrong.

On that one you will just have to speak for yourself. I don't blame you to go looking for it if you are not getting stronger with the training you have. But other people are happy with the strength they are developing and the method that they use to get it.

dps
12-10-2015, 12:00 AM
So what exactly is aiki?
The definition varies with the individual.
The same as what is ki?

dps

Dave de Vos
12-10-2015, 02:38 AM
So what exactly is aiki?
The definition varies with the individual.
The same as what is ki?

dps

I'll give it a go (I also threw in jin, because I think it is a separate thing closely related to ki and aiki) :

ki = Tissue recruitment (muscle and connective tissue) guided by intent. Training for greater intent capacity and better body connection will increase ki capacity.

jin = Relaxed stability and power while standing and moving which results from dynamic whole body organization of muscles and connective tissue recruitment. In a martial context this is about recruiting postural muscles and connective tissue by means of intent to support whatever you are doing martially.

aiki = A modality of the above which is of particular importance in the aiki arts. It disturbs the stability and power of a person in physical contact with you. The better the aiki, the harder it is to detect the source of the disturbance, which makes it harder for the other person to resist the disturbance.

sorokod
12-10-2015, 07:14 AM
Since I've been mentioned, I'll make a brief comment. It's not an either/or - Bill Gleason (who is one of just a few people in the world who can really discuss what the Founder wrote with authority) summarized this quite nicely in the comment appended to Richard Moon's article available here (http://extraordinarylistening.com/blog/2015/10/09/the-skills-the-art-and-the-path/).

Best,

Chris

Since I've been mentioned, I'll make a brief comment.

Your name is on the initial message of this thread as well as on the foreword to M Murray's piece, so this has happened a while ago.

It's not an either/or - Bill Gleason (who is one of just a few people in the world who can really discuss what the Founder wrote with authority) summarized this quite nicely in the comment appended to Richard Moon's article available here.

Well, Bill Gleason makes authoritative statements about the founder's Aikido and you make an authoritative statement about Bill Gleason - none supported by evidence.

I get a sense that following M Murray's classification, you would say that Bill Gleason is within "Morihei Ueshiba's legacy" and not "Modern Aikido" legacy. Given that Bill Gleason has never seen the founder and had Yamaguchi, a postwar student himself, as his main teacher, how did he manage that?

phitruong
12-10-2015, 08:21 AM
So what exactly is aiki?
The definition varies with the individual.
The same as what is ki?

dps

really!!!?? are we going to this again? didn't you have enough during the IP/aiki war a few years back where war raging across the aikiweb landscape worst than the chinese multi-kingdom war. where dogs hang with cats to conspire against the chickens. where street vendors sold real hot dogs. where it wasn't safe on aikiweb without a herd of bodyguards (wonder if there is sanityguard, sure you can guard the body, but what about the mind?) all armed to the teeth (well, not really teeth, because that would be hard to brush and floss, but at least to the keyboard). of course it was an exciting time, a terrible time, a great time, a bad time. an interesting time. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

Chris Li
12-10-2015, 09:13 AM
Since I've been mentioned, I'll make a brief comment.

Well, Bill Gleason makes authoritative statements about the founder's Aikido and you make an authoritative statement about Bill Gleason - none supported by evidence.

I get a sense that following M Murray's classification, you would say that Bill Gleason is within "Morihei Ueshiba's legacy" and not "Modern Aikido" legacy. Given that Bill Gleason has never seen the founder and had Yamaguchi, a postwar student himself, as his main teacher, how did he manage that?

I didn't, and will not, comment on Bill's Aikido - people are free to go feel him for themselves if they're interested. I was commenting on his scholarship, which was the pertinent point here. He's published a number of books on the subject of Morihei Ueshiba, if people are interested.

Best,

Chris

jonreading
12-10-2015, 11:46 AM
That's a lot of comments...

First, I don't consider spiral energy to be an exclusive possession of an art. For me, that is a general training more akin to cardiovascular exercise in athletics. It's not a question of technique, but conditioning so I don't see any conflict in cross-training. I think the argument changes once you start moving with spiral energy in form. It's interesting that Cliff brings up sword training, which I consider to be a mores solid illustration of a partial education in aikido (originating from elsewhere). But this is exactly how we differentiate our weapons training, i.e. " well, we're just practicing swinging a sword, not doing an art." See Ellis's article on weapons in aikido for more on that topic. I think we need to be respectful of what our sister arts do and how we keep clean lines a between the arts, but my instructor's sifu came to class often and even taught, occasionally.

Second, as Mary implied, this is my experience and my decisions to train. There are plenty of people who are happy to do whatever they want without regard to whether it works, or how it interacts with other arts or if it uses weapons or anything else. Aikido is a big tent. I find it interesting that we, as a community, much more readily accept the "beautiful movement" of someone dancing to bongo drums or waving a ribbon as an expression of aikido, neither of which there is any evidence of the founder doing, ever. Ever. Ever. So while we may say, "be free to train the way you want," I am not really sure the community wants that... We maybe really want others to train in a way that doesn't jeopardize our beliefs and imaginations. Earlier, Cliff mentioned that what I do is not what gets people in the door and I agree with that.

sorokod
12-10-2015, 11:59 AM
I didn't, and will not, comment on Bill's Aikido - people are free to go feel him for themselves if they're interested. I was commenting on his scholarship, which was the pertinent point here. He's published a number of books on the subject of Morihei Ueshiba, if people are interested.

Best,

Chris

Me neither - I do want to understand the provenance of his opinions regarding the founder's Aikido. If (according to you) they are all down to his scholarship, so be it.

Chris Li
12-10-2015, 12:06 PM
Me neither - I do want to understand the provenance of his opinions regarding the founder's Aikido. If (according to you) they are all down to his scholarship, so be it.

I didn't say that at all, and please try not to put words in my mouth.

I think that this will conclude my comments on the matter.

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
12-10-2015, 12:27 PM
First, I don't consider spiral energy to be an exclusive possession of an art. For me, that is a general training more akin to cardiovascular exercise in athletics. It's not a question of technique, but conditioning so I don't see any conflict in cross-training. I think the argument changes once you start moving with spiral energy in form.

I don't think spiral energy is the exclusive possession of any particular art either.

But then in the next sentence you say spiral energy is training? That sounds strange, its like saying you go to a gas station and fill your tank with horsepower. There would be a training method that is used to develop a person's ability to use spiral energy. Perhaps more than one, for example the Japanese arts would do this through paired kata training, Chinese arts might use solo training and dynamic paired drills.

You and I disagree on whether aiki is a skill, or an effect created through the exercise of skill that is best given a different name. If you are also confusing a skill with a training method for developing that skill, we're all over the place. How are we going to count the angels, man?? :D

I don't think the spiral energy is Osensei's legacy. I think you would agree based on earlier things you said here. But if there is a specific training method that is Osensei's legacy, I am pretty sure that ship has sailed. So where does this leave us?


I find it interesting that we, as a community, much more readily accept the "beautiful movement" of someone dancing to bongo drums or waving a ribbon as an expression of aikido, neither of which there is any evidence of the founder doing, ever. Ever. Ever.

Didn't Osensei give some dancer a tenth dan or something?

Bernd Lehnen
12-10-2015, 02:05 PM
That's a lot of comments...

First, I don't consider spiral energy to be an exclusive possession of an art. For me, that is a general training more akin to cardiovascular exercise in athletics. It's not a question of technique, but conditioning so I don't see any conflict in cross-training. I think the argument changes once you start moving with spiral energy in form. It's interesting that Cliff brings up sword training, which I consider to be a mores solid illustration of a partial education in aikido (originating from elsewhere). But this is exactly how we differentiate our weapons training, i.e. " well, we're just practicing swinging a sword, not doing an art." See Ellis's article on weapons in aikido for more on that topic. I think we need to be respectful of what our sister arts do and how we keep clean lines a between the arts, but my instructor's sifu came to class often and even taught, occasionally.

Second, as Mary implied, this is my experience and my decisions to train. There are plenty of people who are happy to do whatever they want without regard to whether it works, or how it interacts with other arts or if it uses weapons or anything else. Aikido is a big tent. I find it interesting that we, as a community, much more readily accept the "beautiful movement" of someone dancing to bongo drums or waving a ribbon as an expression of aikido, neither of which there is any evidence of the founder doing, ever. Ever. Ever. So while we may say, "be free to train the way you want," I am not really sure the community wants that... We maybe really want others to train in a way that doesn't jeopardize our beliefs and imaginations. Earlier, Cliff mentioned that what I do is not what gets people in the door and I agree with that.

Good post Jon.
The rub is that someone who doesn't share your personal experience simply can't know what he doesn't know. Even an open mind usually can only rely on his admittedly otherwise deep and vast knowledge.

Thus, words can only go so far as definitions, context and experienced knowledge overlap.

Think of the difficulties, a proponent of a more genuine traditional way of yoga may well encounter in a discussion with a longtime proponent of modern yoga who may maintain that everything yoga has to offer is contained in the asanas.

In the same venue, I also doubt, that the many here really get what Ellis Amdur has been trying to convey so eloquently, although they may be convinced they do.

Of course, there's always a chance that a practical mind might come and ask to show him and let him feel what you can do. This, certainly, would be more helpful than to try and bridge the gap with words only.

Best,
Bernd

jonreading
12-10-2015, 02:57 PM
Didn't Osensei give some dancer a tenth dan or something?
This isn't even funny. Well, maybe a little...


I don't think spiral energy is the exclusive possession of any particular art either.

But then in the next sentence you say spiral energy is training? That sounds strange, its like saying you go to a gas station and fill your tank with horsepower. There would be a training method that is used to develop a person's ability to use spiral energy. Perhaps more than one, for example the Japanese arts would do this through paired kata training, Chinese arts might use solo training and dynamic paired drills.

You and I disagree on whether aiki is a skill, or an effect created through the exercise of skill that is best given a different name. If you are also confusing a skill with a training method for developing that skill, we're all over the place. How are we going to count the angels, man?? :D


I think you are putting words in my mouth and I want to be careful about what I say. My actual post was:
I think the argument changes once you start moving with spiral energy in form.

Spiral energy and moving with spiral energy are not the same. Specifically, many different arts have figured out how to move with spiral energy, aikido is just one of those arts. My differentiation is to be respectful of maintaining the movement within each art. Aikido movement is unique to aikido and it's important to recognize that distinction from, say, Bagua.

Running is both a technique and incorporated into training methodology. I learned both a technique of running (a specific mechanic that drives my legs) and I used running withing a training methodology to strengthen my cardiovascular muscles and my legs muscles. I think that training methodologies are intended to impart conditioning, but you gotta know what you're doing, first. If you don't know what spiral energy is, there is no way you're ever gonna move with spiral energy - the best you'll muster is mimicking someone's movement in which you believe spiral movement exists.

rugwithlegs
12-10-2015, 04:21 PM
New blog post! The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/ueshiba-legacy-mark-murray/) - "There are two Ueshiba Legacies. The legacy of Morihei Ueshiba and the legacy of Kisshomaru Ueshiba. The two are completely different. Their paths rarely cross, with only a smattering of commonalities."

Enjoy!

Chris

In an effort to get back on track - I don't think attempting to define words that no one agrees on the definition of really speaks to the legacy of these two men - is there a legacy of the third Doshu? The separation of the Iwama style did not happen under Kisshomaru Doshu. YouTube and social media - does this influence Aikido now, or has the current Doshu influenced Aikido's image through this? While the article separates Aikido under Morihei Ueshiba and Kisshomaru Ueshiba, can it be said that there is a legacy developing under the current Doshu? A direction for the 4th Doshu to take?

oisin bourke
12-10-2015, 11:37 PM
In an effort to get back on track - I don't think attempting to define words that no one agrees on the definition of really speaks to the legacy of these two men - is there a legacy of the third Doshu? The separation of the Iwama style did not happen under Kisshomaru Doshu. YouTube and social media - does this influence Aikido now, or has the current Doshu influenced Aikido's image through this? While the article separates Aikido under Morihei Ueshiba and Kisshomaru Ueshiba, can it be said that there is a legacy developing under the current Doshu? A direction for the 4th Doshu to take?

I was never a member of any aikido organisation during my time in Japan, but following the books and other media put out by the aikikai and Moriteru Ueshiba, I got a definite impression that it/he was trying to standardise an orthodox "aikikai" style and set of techniques. This also is paralleled in many other large budo organisations such as jodo, iai, etc. There are simplified "standard" forms that can be taught and administered nationally. Conversely, there was less tolerance for variations among affiliated groups. I think this can be explained by the major social and demographic changes occurring in Japan (a dwindling, aging, increasingly conservative populace and an attempt to "shore up" a viable number of students). As for the international dimension, once again, as an outsider, it seems that if an aikido group is large enough, it's possible to affiliate to the aikikai, almost regardless of style/technique. So, while the Japan system is becoming more standardised, the international one is encompassing groups that are for all intents and purposes, different arts.

All IMO.

Fred Little
12-11-2015, 02:10 PM
I didn't, and will not, comment on Bill's Aikido - people are free to go feel him for themselves if they're interested. I was commenting on his scholarship, which was the pertinent point here. He's published a number of books on the subject of Morihei Ueshiba, if people are interested.

Best,

Chris

Chris,

Though interesting presentations of a particular set of beliefs and practices, neither work exhibits the sort of attention to sources or willingness to take an even moderately critical view of the material addressed normally associated with "scholarship," nor does it seem to me that either work presents itself as "scholarly."

Not all scholarship is published and not all published scholarship is of value. Not all published work is scholarship. If people find the work useful, that is really enough. Any more is gilding the lily.

Particularly given the endemic patterns of inflated claims made by and on behalf of various senior figures in the aikido world past and present, (as well as inflated claims made by and on behalf of their critics referenced in this thread),, not to mention the more particular (and thankfully long past) history of inflated claims with regard to the relationship of his aikiken practice and the kenjutsu of the Kashima Shin-Ryu, I don't think you're doing him any favors by misrepresenting (however inadvertently) the character of his published work.

Best,

Fred Little

Erick Mead
12-11-2015, 02:43 PM
Spiral energy and moving with spiral energy are not the same. Specifically, many different arts have figured out how to move with spiral energy, aikido is just one of those arts. ...
If you don't know what spiral energy is, there is no way you're ever gonna move with spiral energy - the best you'll muster is mimicking someone's movement in which you believe spiral movement exists. Potential energy in spiral form is torsional shear stress, the energy released in spiral momentum is what makes breaking waves and tornados fantastically powerful.

The human structure, like most structures, is weakest in torque. The body therefore is especially sensitive and reactive to spiral stresses especially those that have high impulse. For the geeks among you -- impulse is the rate of change of acceleration. i,e. -- the rate of change of the rate of change of velocity (2d derivative). This does not mean that you bring the slide rule or porta-Cray in place of the bokken onto the mat. It does mean that the reflexive systems of the body respond supercritically to these things -- and well in advance of conscious awareness of them, much less within reach of effective directly calculated or planned reaction. Hence, I am respectfully critical of the image of "intent" as a too-ambiguous training concept -- at least in this "planned action" sense.

"Intent," though, in terms of sensitivity toward ATTENTION and the proper shapes -- physical and temporal -- this I can support. It is one thing to increase sensitivity and attention to your disposition with the breaking of the wave you mean to surf -- it is quite another to think that you can surf that wave from any point of its break based on merely your carefully honed "intent" to do so. Things are far more critical than any possibility of that happening, and the window of advantage for the correct intent is exceedingly narrow, and is not at all divorced from the objective position and dynamics of your situation

The physical shape of spiral energy lies in dual-opposed right angle spirals of simultaneous tension and compression (torsional shear). The temporal shape or phase is also a 90-degree relationship, and this shape of phase interaction creates a physical resonance between periodic oscillators -- hint:: standing upright, you are one. Funetori is -- in part -- designed to point this reality out to you.

In phase, they match peak to peak, valley to valley. Peak to valley is 180 degree destructive interference where each neutralizes the other. 90 degrees is where the peak of one coinicides with the zero point of the other -- where there is literally no dynamic for the applied force to resist.

Sensitivity to impulse can occur at very tiny objective force levels particularly where the forces change direction. Small oscillations -- which are constant cycling changes of direction -- even subliminal ones on "normal" tone in the body -- can become triggers for destructive reflexive action on the part of the target. When their physical shape, AND their temporal shape coincide, the body's sensitivity to the impulse changes is maximized -- and because its vulnerability is maximally exposed -- its reflexivity is also maximally dominant over conscious overriding. When tuned and applied in this manner -- nikkyo and sankyo stand as illustrations the waza provide of the resulting manipulations, respectively, they are the cruder forms of aiki-sage and aiki-age -- and this is their teaching purpose.

All the aiki taiso are engaged in these forms of action and sensitization of our own bodies. These, where they are found and applied with the correct "intent," become the rejuvenating seeds of the legacy we are speaking of, IMO. And sensitization -- not just trying to increase possibilities of resistance to the manipulation -- are integral parts of the goal. Reflexively led reaction to incipient physical action becomes second nature and is, in military terminology WAY ahead of an attackers OODA loop.

There may be people who school themselves in increased resistance to breaking waves -- but I am thinking they have not surfed the North Shore or Kaena point in winter. (Me personally, Makaha on a western swell was more than I needed to learn this particular lesson.) :cool:

dps
12-11-2015, 03:57 PM
This does not mean that you bring the slide rule or porta-Cray in place of the bokken onto the mat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waiprjueVpQ

Just slap a handle on it to make it portable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_rTDLijA_0

dps

sorokod
12-12-2015, 06:36 AM
New blog post! The Ueshiba Legacy, by Mark Murray (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/ueshiba-legacy-mark-murray/) - "There are two Ueshiba Legacies. The legacy of Morihei Ueshiba and the legacy of Kisshomaru Ueshiba. The two are completely different. Their paths rarely cross, with only a smattering of commonalities."

Enjoy!

Chris

The Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation series (https://www.google.com/search?as_q=&as_epq=Transmission+Inheritance+Emulation&lr=lang_en&as_qdr=all&as_sitesearch=www.aikiweb.com&as_occt=title) looks at some of these topics. Column 10, "Iemoto and Iwama " (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15066) provides some background on the split between the Ueshibas.

dps
12-14-2015, 02:27 AM
"However, one cannot make any inference from the move to Iwama that in 1942 Morihei Ueshiba and Kisshomaru had a different focus and were already pursuing different goals."

Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10
by Peter Goldsbury
09-12-2008

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15066

Bernd Lehnen
12-14-2015, 02:22 PM
"However, one cannot make any inference from the move to Iwama that in 1942 Morihei Ueshiba and Kisshomaru had a different focus and were already pursuing different goals."

Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10
by Peter Goldsbury
09-12-2008

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15066

For any inference in this respect, you'd probably have to go back to the time, when Kisshomaru in his childhood with the whole family had to endure the, mildly expressed, somewhat egotistically erratic life-style of his father.

Chris Li
03-13-2016, 11:08 AM
Now available in Romanian (http://aikido-jurnal.ro/index.php?pagina=art_206), courtesy of Aikido Jurnal. The original English version is available on the Aikido Sangenkai blog (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/ueshiba-legacy-mark-murray/).

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
05-29-2017, 12:56 PM
Now available in Spanish (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/el-legado-de-ueshiba-parte-1-por-mark-murray-spanish-version/), courtesy of Juantxo Ruiz. The original English version is available on the Aikido Sangenkai blog (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/ueshiba-legacy-mark-murray/).

Best,

Chris