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tedehara
03-15-2003, 01:52 PM
The term O Sensei indicates a truly great teacher. This is someone who not only instructs, but inspires. It is a term that can apply to a teacher on any subject.

The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba has often been refered to as O Sensei. But is he really?

Some aikidoists say that there will never be someone as good in Aikido as its founder. If this is true, then Morihei Ueshiba should not be called O Sensei because he was never able to train someone up to his level.

Personally, I think there are a group of aikidoists and I certainly am not in this group, who are as good or better in Aikido than its founder. They are not members of any one style or organization, yet their Aikido is as good or better than the founder's. If not on a general level, then in specific arts, especially areas that they have helped develop.

O Sensei was a human being who accomplished a great deal. He was able to do that by understanding his own humanity.

Some people have a self-effacing worship of the founder. Some writers have even place him in a position of a divine being. They emphasize the mystical nature and enlightenment of the founder. This seems to be a path of self-deception. However taking this viewpoint, Morihei Ueshiba cannot be called O Sensei because in their estimation, he was never able to train someone up to his level.

Morihei Ueshiba was a person. A person who had powers that we all have.
With apology to Ellis Amdur (http://www.ellisamdur.com/DuelingwithOsensei.htm)

Nacho_mx
03-15-2003, 02:30 PM
I find your lack of humility...annoying. So who are these amazing super aikidoists that you think they are as good or better than the founder? What or who makes you judge of that? While the term sensei is used to refer to teachers or instructors of all kinds of disciplines (not just martial arts), the term O'Sensei refers only to a master teacher (teacher of teachers). I think that trying to bring down OSensei to your level just shows lack of respect or plain ignorance. Accept the fact that once in a while special and gifted beings walk this earth bringing us joy and wisdom about ourselves and our place in Creation. I believe O Sensei was (is) one of them.

tedehara
03-15-2003, 03:00 PM
Here are a quick three.

Morihiro Saito

Gozo Shioda

Koichi Tohei

This list is in no particular order. You have to consider these people as a group rather than a list. Of course there are more people you can add to this group and choices are completely subjective.

You sound like a true believer.

otto
03-15-2003, 05:39 PM
Mr. Ehara

Is your statement , that anybody's aikido equates to his ability to teach it...?

If you meant so ,and I were to believe it , then i would say YES , there are a few people out there with better aikido than him , Tohei Sensei comes to my mind inmediatly since i think the way he explains the principles of the art and his style of teaching is quite frankly the most complete and easy to grasp in my opinion , particulary when he teaches some alien concepts like KI , to us westerners..

But , i dont really think , if you meant so , that someones ability to transmit knowledge is the same as the knowledge itself the person has...

I think its healthy to question the laws of the world , if you have a purpose , and i do lots of questioning myself , but on this topic , do i have any remote hope of knowing the true?....

I think not.

My respect to you and the rest of the board.

Plus KI!.

DaveO
03-16-2003, 01:14 AM
Hmmm - an interesting topic; one which I'm sure took a bit of courage to write; given the predictable gut-level responses some might give.

I don't know anything about it, of course; but in my own viewpoint; Morehei Ueshiba's title of O-Sensei is as much a mark of respect to the founder of Aikido as it is a description of his skill at Martial Arts, teaching and/or both.

But to the main point I gleaned from his post: I think it's healthy to keep in mind that our idols, whoever they are, are mere mortals like the rest of us. That they put their pants (or hakama ;) ) on one leg at a time like everyone else. It's true; we've all seen that many aikidoka have in their own belief elevated O-Sensei virtually to the level of godhood; i.e. that he was perfect; could do no wrong, knew all, was supreme in all things. Such belief is IN MY OWN OPINION unhealthy, or if that is too strong a word then at least incorrect thinking.

Why?

It's the difference between intelligent respect and blind devotion. Learning with awareness; studying, poking, prodding and testing the limits of a skill; questioning and doubting it until your questions are answered and doubt is relieved - or flaws are found - these are the hallmarks of intelligent learning. As an Army combat instructor; nothing pleased me more than a student saying 'Mmmmmm, no. Sorry, Master Corporal; I don't believe you." That showed the student was thinking. Blind devotion on the other hand is extremely limiting - we are in effect voluntarily giving up our ability to think for ourselves, to question what we see.

Granted; O-sensei was many times better than I will ever be; both as a martial artist and as a man, but he was certainly no god; even with his phenomenal skill I'm sure he still clunked himself in the head with a jo once in a while; or at least forgot where he put his pen down. I can hear the screams of outrage already; but ask yourself - would O-Sensei have wanted to be revered as perfect? I doubt it; the truly great never do.

Kelly Allen
03-16-2003, 01:42 AM
WHAT! O Sensei wasn't a god! Next thing you'll tell me is there is no Santa Claws. Sorry I couldn't resist. ;D

PeterR
03-16-2003, 02:43 AM
Hi Ted;

I don't think a persons level of Aikido is judged by his ability to teach it.

However, the potential for people to be more technically proficient than Ueshiba M. at any particular age (ie. person at 30 when Ueshiba was 30) certainly exists.

There are a number of reasons for this including; age started, raw talent, time spent under direct tuition.

I've heard one person described as the "best Aikidoist around - possibly ever" but I am forced to take the statement with a grain of salt. Not because the person is not seriously awsome but that no one knew him or Ueshiba M. when both were in their prime. I am sure others know people that may also fit the above bill although I suspect each and every one of them would deny the fact. And really, although Ignacio's response was a bit reactionary, who is going to judge?

By the way I also don't think O'sensei needs to imply technical dominance or even a superior teaching ability. We don't use the O sensei term, its usually just Ueshiba sensei, but really its just a cap on Shihan (model teacher). Something like model teacher's model. In Japan most Aikikai groups use the term Kaiso (founder) which makes more sense and makes Ted's point irrelevent as it does not imply superior anything.

Dirty Dogi
03-16-2003, 03:42 AM
I show respect to O-sensei, but I don't think of him as a god or a diety. I show respect as a thank you.. I also show him respect out of respect, if that makes sence.

I don't think that true aikido can be taught. I think you can show someone the techniques and from then on they have to make aikido their own.

We can robot moves all we want, but I think that would take the dynamics out of the scope of what aikido is.

I don't think that O-sensei is a bad teacher, Im sure he taught what he could.

Perhaps the ones that are "better" at aikido just are really close to what true aikido is for **them**.

So if people say no one will ever be as good as O-sensei in aikido. Maybe it would be more appropriate to say;

" No one will ever be as good as O-sensei's Aikido" ( true self aikido) Your only limited to how good the aikido is that is inside you.

tedehara
03-16-2003, 01:47 PM
...And really, although Ignacio's response was a bit reactionary, who is going to judge?I've got to make that judgement. You've got to make that judgement. This is a subjective thing that may be a process that some may have to go through. Not because it will give some objective standard that can be used, but because it could help redefine a personal definition of Aikido.

One of the things I use forums like this for, is to organize and express my own thoughts. This is a controversial topic and responses like Ignacio's are to be expected. Not everyone can or needs to go through a process of subjective redefinition.

I'm not looking for an objective truth like Ottoniel and Brian mentioned. I'm only feeling out the limits of a personal reality.
...In Japan most Aikikai groups use the term Kaiso (founder) which makes more sense and makes Ted's point irrelevent as it does not imply superior anything.There are so many titles, I have a hard time keeping track of them. May be you can explain this - (For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, most students here refer to Tohei-sensei as "Soshu") What is a Soshu? Nothing bad I hope. :)

It is one thing for a person to be held in high regard and given a title like O Sensei. It is quite another thing to use that title to give an attitude that the founder is a divine being. Once you put someone in a divine or demi-god position, you lose that person's humanity and make their life and teachings harder to relate to.

two observations

Irimin Nage (figure 8 throw) This flowing koku-nage was developed from a bone breaking/neck snapping Aiki-jitsu technique. It's also known as the "twenty year throw" because it took that long for the founder to develop it. What kind of persistence does that take?

At Iwama the founder and another instructor were quietly walking down a dirt road. Suddenly the founder turned and said, "You know, I finally understand what this Aikido thing is all about." This was someone who had to learn everything from less than zero. How much work was that?

PeterR
03-16-2003, 07:40 PM
I've got to make that judgement. You've got to make that judgement. This is a subjective thing that may be a process that some may have to go through. Not because it will give some objective standard that can be used, but because it could help redefine a personal definition of Aikido.
I agree with that except that my original point was that you don't have the frame of reference and therefore it is impossible to judge. I remember once before I was Shodan I was watching a Godan exam by a non-member of Honbu. Immediately afterward he came up to me and asked how he did. I was a bit put out considering my kyu rank but he was clear - you've seen enough. The frame of reference was there. I actually offered several comments one of which was dead wrong and therefore I learned something.

On the other side of the coin, outside of Japan a person specifically told me his rank and said who was I to judge his Aikido. I just remembered the above story. We may be wrong in our judgement but it does, as you say, provide context for our own Aikido training.
It is one thing for a person to be held in high regard and given a title like O Sensei. It is quite another thing to use that title to give an attitude that the founder is a divine being. Once you put someone in a divine or demi-god position, you lose that person's humanity and make their life and teachings harder to relate to.
Not only that - it implies a cult like behaviour which in contrary to where I think the various Aikido organizations want to go.

No idea on the Shoshu. Shochu is a strong rice liqure.

Edward
03-16-2003, 10:51 PM
No, he's an imposter. The real Osensei was an extra-terrestrial who used Ueshiba Sensei's body as a cover.

:freaky:

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
03-16-2003, 11:32 PM
I don't really see the point in arguing over "Who's the best". It's true that not everything O-Sensei did or said is necessarily correct, that's just common sense. And I think he meant for Aikido to be an evolving art. But on the other hand, he does I believe deserve respect as a great thinker and an innovator.

ian
03-18-2003, 08:48 AM
I think it is hard to judge how good Ueshiba was since he gained much of his reputation on his pre WWII aikido where I am certain he was quite a lethal martial artist and extremely strong. I'd question whether Shioda was better than Ueshiba, since I am under the impression that Shioda himself didn't believe that, and he was a very candid person.

When we say who is best at aikido, it depends on what you think aikido is. I believe Ueshiba was one of the best martial artists who lived (though I think he was not against bolstering his own image). I also believe that aikido is not the whole of what Ueshiba was about - he was insanely dedicated and very physcially powerful. Also, I don't think he transferred his complete knowledge to anyone.

Ian

mike lee
03-20-2003, 12:09 PM
The man basically committed most of his time and energy to training in Japanese martial arts. Even if he had no talent at all, he was bound to be an excellent martial artist.

Now add talent, a lot of perseverance and dedication, and you have one of the truly great ones. Then he unselfishly taught his art to many others and we all get to practice aikido today because of it.

Excuse me for having the highest respect and regard for O-Sensei, but I think he deserves it.

If some egocentric pig feels he's qualified to judge O-Sensei, then I pray he never crosses my path. Respect is the foundation of the martial arts, especially for the founder of one's art. If one doesn't have that, then one doesn't have anything, and I'll drink no beer with you.

(Sorry for the harshness here, but I've seen this line of reasoning on other threads, usually by DR people, and it REALLY pisses me off!)

Ron Tisdale
03-20-2003, 01:53 PM
"If some egocentric pig feels he's qualified to judge O-Sensei, then I pray he never crosses my path. Respect is the foundation of the martial arts..."

Oh really?

Ron (consider the source) Tisdale

DaveO
03-20-2003, 02:08 PM
If some egocentric pig feels he's qualified to judge O-Sensei, then I pray he never crosses my path.
(Sigh) Why, Mike?

Suppose one crossed your path - what exactly would you do?

Vincentharris
03-20-2003, 03:28 PM
Alot of people are getting upset over these posts and alot more are being just down right disrepectful to Aikido and O-Sensei's memory. O-Sensei isn't here to defend himself so I'll stand up for him.

"should not be called O Sensei because he was never able to train someone up to his level."

-That's not even funny. How, by any form of reasoning or logic, can you say that someone knows better than the creator. Is that even possible ? No, it's not.

I don't believe O-Sensei had "super powers" and I don't think he did either. He was just a man trying to help people find their way and that was it. Maybe he was enlightened, sure, but I didnt think we were all studying under shidoshi's are we ?

As far as who is the best I didn't think Aikido was about competition. I just thought Aikido was supposed to be about harmonizing. Isn't that what it means ?

Of course no one is going to be able to do the techniques exactly like O-Sensei or Sensei Tohei or anybody else but guess what? They can't do the techniques the exact way you or I or anybody does them either. Their way isn't automatically better than anyone else's just because they've done it about half a million more times.

Does it make it more effective ? YES, it does.

Down deep I'm very upset that someone would even pose the theory that O-Sensei didn't earn that title but that's not very Aiki to say it or think it.

Personally I think it's extremely disreprectful to O-Sensei's memory not to mention all the hard work and dedication that he put in AND I also think that someone is simply trying to cause trouble.

Go play in the sandbox little boy, the rest of us are tyring to learn.....RESPECTIVELY.

Erik
03-20-2003, 04:49 PM
"should not be called O Sensei because he was never able to train someone up to his level."

-That's not even funny. How, by any form of reasoning or logic, can you say that someone knows better than the creator. Is that even possible ? No, it's not.
Just picking on one specific point.

In 1891, James Naismith created basketball. I'd say there are hundreds of thousands of people who know more than him about his creation. I'd say virtually every basketball player today, at the high school level or higher, is better than what he was doing.

It is, however, a different game today. ;)

Mel Barker
03-20-2003, 08:16 PM
If some egocentric pig feels he's qualified to judge O-Sensei, then I pray he never crosses my path.
Nice!

Oh, and by the way, to whow do you pray?

Mel

DaveForis
03-21-2003, 01:10 AM
Hmmm.

Aikido and teaching are two different skills. To be deficient in one is not to be any less skilled at the other.

Besides, I'm not convinced he was a bad teacher. "He never trained someone up to his level." First of all, what is his level? Only he would know that. Second of all, how is he supposed to teach all of his knowledge and experience? Everything we know is connected to everything we are. That's how we learn. We build on associations. Somehow, your kindergarten math skills are connected to your college algebra skills. If you're going to teach someone absolutely everything you know about math, you'd have to start them there. The long and the short of it is that it isn't that simple. Experience can only partially be transmitted in word or teaching. The rest is your own experience, which changes the teaching recieved.

And yes, the people who worship him blindly, as with any figure, are nuts. I haven't run into any of those people though. They usually reserve that kind of thing for their shihan. In any case, the best thing you may be able to do is ignore those people and carry on, though it doesn't hurt to find out WHY they really feel that way. (shrugs) Sometimes they aren't as nuts as they first sounded.

Your original question is, "Is O Sensei really O Sensei?" Of course. "O" is an honorific showing great respect. He did some pretty amazing things (including creating a martial art), so he's earned a little something as recognition. :) It's that simple.

What kind of person he really is is another matter. It's one thing if he's an obvious and selfish hypocrite, or an egoist out to aggrandize himself. I've seen a few. From what I've read, O Sensei wasn't that. Yup. He was a man, and an imperfect one at that. Just like everyone else. Does he really have to be perfect to be O Sensei?

Heh. To throw in a psychology parallel, Sigmund Freud basically created and founded modern psychotherapy and psychology. Yeah, he was a sexually-obsessed nutbag and an irascible bullheaded jerk who would never change his views. But he's still the founder of modern psychotherapy and psychology, a relatively new science, and you have to respect that.

Don't forget, as some have already pointed out, that comparing levels of skill is the essence of competition. Competition is not Aiki. Anyone who calls him the greatest aikidoka is missing the whole point. Don't let your mind dwell there.

Bronson
03-21-2003, 01:57 AM
I'm torn on this one. While I understand and agree with the idea of the title O-sensei as an honorific and a completely deserved one, I think I see where Ted is coming at with the literal translation of the word.

O-sensei means great teacher. From many of the things I've read Ueshiba really wasn't that great of a TEACHER, at least not by the modern sense of the word. He would demonstrate techniques and leave the students to puzzle out what he was doing. He would lecture on things his students themselves claim they couldn't understand. I've read on these very forums that some people attribute the growth of aikido not to Ueshiba's great ability as a teacher but to his followers great ability as students. It was the students who named the techniques to make learning them easier. They were the ones who figured out ways to actually TEACH it to somebody else, as opposed to just demonstrating and expecting the students to figure it out on their own.

Just my take on it.

Bronson

James Trueman
03-21-2003, 11:02 AM
I like Erik's and Bronson's take on this. I respect the fact that Ueshiba Sensei developed Aikido - but created could be a bit strong. I belive Ueshiba developed an art that was born from the teachings of masters before him.

He was truely a dedicated man, a man I do not know and cannot comment on personally. But I believe he did as we all do - he synthesised what he learned into something that was meaningful to him - and then showed others. I wouldn't be writing here now if I didn't believe in what he showed, although by now many have put their own slant on his techniques.

Unfortunately it appears that it is the students - the followers of Ueshiba who created the devine image. The followers of masters today act under the same fashion, and most masters I have seen and learned from would rather they were treated as the human being they are, and were before stepping into the hakama.

mike lee
03-22-2003, 01:13 AM
I respect the fact that Ueshiba Sensei developed Aikido - but created could be a bit strong.

O-Sensei is the FOUNDER of aikido.

mike lee
03-22-2003, 01:14 AM
Oh really?

Really.

mike lee
03-22-2003, 01:17 AM
Oh, and by the way, to whow do you pray?

What's a "whow?"

mike lee
03-22-2003, 01:19 AM
Suppose one crossed your path - what exactly would you do?

What do you think?

Edward
03-22-2003, 02:52 AM
Hmmmm, I really find it interesting that such thread has been started by a member of the Ki society. According to Stanley Pranin, Tohei Koichi Sensei, the founder of this style, had absolutely no respect neither for the founder nor his son, and openly criticized in not so diplomatic terms the founder's way of teaching, or absence of teaching method to be more accurate.....

mike lee
03-22-2003, 04:20 AM
Then why do Ki Society dojos continue to maintain a photo of O-Sensei if their leader has "absolutely no respect" for the Founder?

If I didn't respect someone, I wouldn't keep a large photograph of them in a prominent place in my living room and put fresh flowers by it everyday. I may put their picture on my dartboard in the basement.

otto
03-22-2003, 11:08 AM
Then why do Ki Society dojos continue to maintain a photo of O-Sensei if their leader has "absolutely no respect" for the Founder?

Think you're going way too far on that Mike , i dont see in any part of the original post any lack of respect for the Founder , what was only questioned i understand is wheter or not he (Ueshiba) developed an efficient method of teaching his art.

Neither i've read any interview or article where Tohei Sensei or any other Uchi Deshi of Ueshiba expressed any lack of respect for the later , all of them i believe are or were men of great value , and paying that way would be rather a shame.

If you make some investigation you'll encounter that most of the Deshi were often lost between Ueshiba Esoteric and religious dissertion , so they ended learning more seeing him that actually hearing.

So , the original question remain valid , was Morihei Ueshiba as great as a teacher as he undoubtely was a martial artist?

On a personal level , altough "I" consider this a rather interesting issue (personally) , really can't see how this would make our community any better.

So i think is better for the sake of an fruitful and adult "conversation" , that we hold our horses and dont be so quick to label anyone else opinion.

Best Regards

Ottoniel David

Mel Barker
03-22-2003, 09:31 PM
If some egocentric pig feels he's qualified to judge O-Sensei, then I pray he never crosses my path.
Is it to Ueshiba that you pray? Does he answer? Is it he that tells you how to deal with said pigs?

Mel

PeterR
03-22-2003, 09:37 PM
Think you're going way too far on that Mike
Um I think Mike was responding to Edwaard who perhaps is going to far. There was an interview with Tohei K. where he stated that all Ueshiba M. did was teach him to relax. I think many have misinterpreted that.

otto
03-22-2003, 11:12 PM
Hello Mr.Rehse

I stand corrected...

Yes , you're right i shouldnt have addressed Mike personally but the comment on itself , basically because I get from the ironic way in wich he stated his question to Edward that he himself doesnt believe such absurd thing.

Neither do i think Mr.Karaa could be blamed of going too far , he's only quoting someone else on the subject.

You're also right on the fact , that Tohei Sensei highlighted how Ueshiba did teach him how to relax altought i didnt get from the interview that it was all he got from the Founder.

On the same interview however, Sensei Tohei also refers to the Founder as "Master of the art of relaxing" , in another article based on an Interview conducted by W.Reed , he (Tohei) calls Ueshiba a "Master of KI".

But i wonder why always that kind of comments takes the spotlight...

Sensei Tohei was certainly unorthodox on his ways , but saying he didnt have Ueshiba Sensei in high esteem , again i think , its going too far. :rolleyes:

Best regards to you all , and thanks Peter for helping me see my mistake.

My apologies to Mike if i did hurt your feelings. :straightf

Please excuse my broken english

Plus KI!.

Edward
03-23-2003, 12:57 AM
Below is an excerpt for Stanley Pranin article published on aikidojournal.com:

"Finally near the end of my stay I asked Iwao Tamura, one of Tohei Sensei's deshi who was fluent in English, if it would be possible to ask Tohei Sensei again about helping me. As a result, I was called to a room on the second floor of the dojo late in August. Present were Tohei Sensei, Mr. Tamura and myself. I was told clearly that I was considered to be a student of Tohei student and as such was mistaken to have trained with other teachers during my stay in Japan. Tohei Sensei also criticized the Founder's teaching methodology and said in no uncertain terms that I should focus my efforts on his ki approach to aikido. I was 24 years old at the time and emotionally unprepared to deal with such a confrontation. Totally deflated, I left the dojo almost in trance and wondered seriously how I could continue my aikido training having heard such words about the Founder from his top student."

On the other hand, and to go back to the thread subject, O sensei taught the traditional Japanese way, and I believe that he succeeded in forming a group of outstanding aikidoists who might have even surpassed in skills, starting from early pre-war students such as Mochizuki, Abe, Shioda, Tomiki... etc, untill the after war period students such as Tohei, Tamura, Noro, Yamada...etc.

Now it is obvious, at least to me, that while Osensei produced such highly-skilled studenst with his non-methodical aikido teaching, the ones who established instructional systems such as Saito, Tohei, Tomiki, Shioda failed to produce any outstanding students of their own, I mean not as skilled or more skilled than themselves.

mike lee
03-23-2003, 01:12 AM
My apologies to Mike if i did hurt your feelings.

I cried myself to sleep. But in the morning, I got up and played with my dolls for awhile and felt much better! :D

Your English is not bad very understandable. Your grammar is good, but if you run a spell-check program, you can catch a lot of mistakes. (Spelling is a pain!)

PeterR
03-23-2003, 01:36 AM
I was told clearly that I was considered to be a student of Tohei student and as such was mistaken to have trained with other teachers during my stay in Japan. Tohei Sensei also criticized the Founder's teaching methodology and said in no uncertain terms that I should focus my efforts on his ki approach to aikido.
I like wrestling with Edward so I do. Traditionally speaking the idea of training with multiple shihan is a no go. You really only have one teacher of Aikido. Some of the current shihan are more relaxed about this, some less. Some differentiate quite strongly between deshi and the others (including yudansha) in the club. At Shodokan Honbu for example, receiving Shodan implies that you have become a student of Nariyama. The associated piece of cloth is a personal gift. As such I am very careful to ask his opinion about training outside the dojo and making sure I listen to him. The official (ie. full time) deshi of course have no time. He is quite reasonable but ... you are his.

Apparently many people critisize Ueshiba M.'s teaching style why should Tohei be any different?
Now it is obvious, at least to me, that while Osensei produced such highly-skilled studenst with his non-methodical aikido teaching, the ones who established instructional systems such as Saito, Tohei, Tomiki, Shioda failed to produce any outstanding students of their own, I mean not as skilled or more skilled than themselves.
Don't be so sure, Tomiki said some interesting things about some of his students. I am sure Shioda and Mochizuki might have had similar commments.

Edward
03-23-2003, 04:58 AM
Hello Peter,

I agree with your points, but please take into consideration the following:"Totally deflated, I left the dojo almost in trance and wondered seriously how I could continue my aikido training having heard such words about the Founder from his top student."

Stanley Pranin does not metion exactly what he has heard about Osensei during this meeting, but it must have been outrageous in order to shock him the way it did.

We can only speculate, or ask Dr. Pranin himself.

Edward
03-23-2003, 08:34 AM
Another thought on the matter:

O sensei himself has said that every student should develop his own aikido, and that every time he executes a certain technique, it could never be the same, so it is somehow different. That's why he never went into technical details since his techniques changed continuously, he just showed them to the students who learned by example.

That is probably why Osensei's students came up each with his own very successful personal styles. But when they tried to impose their personal styles and methods on their own students, the result was good technical skills but no really out of the ordinary talents.

In this respect, I believe that he really was the greatest and most farsighted teacher of aikido ever.

DaveO
03-23-2003, 09:16 AM
What do you think?
Mike; normally I let comments like this go; but I'm going to hold you to this one. I want an answer; I suspect others do too: What would you do? Are you actually threatening physical force - attacking for the specific intent of causing someone pain - for having an opinion you find distasteful? Because unless you mean something else; I think we can quite safely reject any opinion from one with such a thug-like attitude.

To the group; I apologize for my actions here; I can only assure you that at least in intent; I am not making a personal attack; I'm rebutting his argument.

aikilouis
03-23-2003, 02:27 PM
Back to the subject.

Comparing someone's abilities with some others in a given art form is valid up to a certain point.

Past that level of skill, the person has achieved "mastery", some are called "geniuses", and debate over who's better becomes irrelevant.

Mozart or Beethoven ?

Van Gogh or Rembrandt ?

Pacino or de Niro ? (or Seagal ?)

One can have preferences, but objective criteria don't apply anymore. That's the way I feel about O Sensei.

PeterR
03-23-2003, 09:17 PM
But when they tried to impose their personal styles and methods on their own students, the result was good technical skills but no really out of the ordinary talents.
Two come to mind from personal experience; Chiba (who one could argue is not a deshi of Ueshiba M.) and Nariyama who is fond of saying there is no style of Aikido beyond the personal. Both these men are technically superb and extermely talented. I would hesitate to say better than their teachers because it is sort of not said but you could. All depends on your criteria and is really a personal judgement.

All of Ueshiba M.'s students would say they could never be as good as their teacher and their students would say the same.

I suppose we could ask Stanley Pranin but you know I've had a few delusions shattered in my time also.

James Trueman
03-24-2003, 07:34 AM
O-Sensei is the FOUNDER of aikido.
Can you clarify what you want to say in your reply, as according to my thesaurus founder can mean 'creator', but also 'initiator and organiser'. In my eyes these last two do not have such religeous connatations such as 'the maker', rather one who brings things together. As in bringing what he has learned into a form of martial art that has meaning to him, something many people do.

Les Kelso
04-01-2003, 03:29 PM
check out the other masterful contributions made by mr mike lee on other threads throughout the forum discussions.

---------------------------------------

i was angry with my friend

i told my wrath, my wrath did end

i was angry with my foe

i told it not, my wrath did grow.

William Blake

a poison tree

jimvance
04-01-2003, 07:43 PM
...Now it is obvious, at least to me, that while Osensei produced such highly-skilled studenst with his non-methodical aikido teaching, the ones who established instructional systems such as Saito, Tohei, Tomiki, Shioda failed to produce any outstanding students of their own, I mean not as skilled or more skilled than themselves.Aikido allows its practitioners to train (barring major physical ailments) right up until they DIE. While the above gentlemen were alive, they probably got attention for creating different systems, but were never associated with Ueshiba on a skill-to-skill basis. I doubt that they would have even allowed it (Japanese false modesty being the way it is) and these comments were probably made after they had passed (not Tohei, of course) by their students. Thing is, those students are now the bigger teachers, and they--in imitation of their Japanese forebears--also don't like to tell people how good they really are, and insist on talking about how good their teachers really were.

The other thing is to watch a movement as it grows, especially from a charismatic singular leader surrounded by a group of motivated and talented acolytes. First century Christianity had the same discussions, and broke into two camps, one obsessed with Jesus as God (later converted into the Greek idea of light, or Christ), the other obsessed with Jesus as ideal man (much like some Buddhist beliefs). Of course, the Jesus-as-God group took over the Roman Empire and killed any followers of the Jesus-as-ideal man group they could get their hands on.

Hopefully the dissent between these two groups as they relate to the founder of Aikido (yes, I am using lower case letters on purpose) will stay only on the internet, and will never lead to killing or brutalization. (If you think Western religion sucks in general, don't forget about the not-so-distant Zen group fighting within itself over succession rights. I forget their name, but they are Korean.)

Jim Vance

mike lee
04-03-2003, 01:35 AM
check out the other masterful contributions made by mr mike lee on other threads throughout the forum discussions.
Now I see how more is actually Les. :D

Peter Goldsbury
04-03-2003, 06:09 AM
I have been outside Japan and away from computers for a while. This will be a long post, I'm afraid, so apologies beforehand to those with more modest attention spans...

I suppose the title of the thread is meant to be provocative. One good answer would be, "Yes, but so what? It is a title, not a job description, which we can really give to anybody, but in aikido the custom has arisen of giving it principally to one man." Perhaps this would suffice, but Ted Ehara's posts are usually thoughtful as well as provocative and deserve a more detailed response. My personal view is that far too much significance has been given to the "O" prefix.

Ted Ehara writes: "The term O Sensei indicates a truly great teacher. This is someone who not only instructs, but inspires. It is a term that can apply to a teacher on any subject."

PAG: The problem here is that the term is taken out of its cultural context. In Japanese, the term shorn of the prefix would indicate a title, as much as a description of expected abilities, and with the prefix I think this is even more the case. I cannot think of a single case outside the traditional arts in Japan where a teacher has ever received such a prefix. So, it is indeed possible, but so improbable that the possibility is not worth considering.

Ted Ehara writes: "The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba has often been referred to as O Sensei. But is he really?"

PAG. The question is ambiguous. Does he really have the title, or does he really fit the job description? See previous comments.

Ted Ehara writes: "Some aikidoists say that there will never be someone as good in Aikido as its founder. If this is true, then Morihei Ueshiba should not be called O Sensei because he was never able to train someone up to his level."

PAG. Notice the hidden premises here. The provision that a teacher should be able to train someone to equal or surpass him/her has quietly been added to the job description/ title. In some respects the premise is obviously false. I teach my native language to non-native speakers, but if my students do not equal or surpass me in ability, I could never even aspire to have such a title. Thus, there is another hidden premise that aikido is teachable, as well as learnable. The two are not the same and the complexities involved in seeing something as a skill, in learning the skill, in teaching the skill, need to be unpacked and examined before we can then consider the extra conditions to be fulfilled for someone to have the "O" title.

Ted Ehara writes: "Personally, I think there are a group of aikidoists and I certainly am not in this group, who are as good or better in Aikido than its founder. They are not members of any one style or organization, yet their Aikido is as good or better than the founder's. If not on a general level, then in specific arts, especially areas that they have helped develop."

PAG. I certainly agree that there is a group of very good aikidoists, but I have no means of knowing whether they actually equal or surpass Morihei Ueshiba in ability. Moreover, I would not be surprised if aikidoists became more proficient, rather than less, and adapted aikido to suit the needs of the 21st century, rather than the 20th, as Ueshiba saw the art. But so much is taken for granted here. For example, how would one compare the relative skills of e.g., Inoue, Nakakura, Tomiki, Shirata, Shioda, Mochizuki, Tohei, or Saito?

Ted Ehara writes: "O Sensei was a human being who accomplished a great deal. He was able to do that by understanding his own humanity."

PAG. I am not entirely sure what is meant here. From what I have read of Ueshiba's own writings, if he believed he accomplished a great deal (and this is questionable), he believed he was able to do this by understanding his own divinity! He regarded himself as the instrument of other, divine, powers and if this is not understood, then a great part of what he himself thought he was doing is misunderstood. I am not really in a position to distinguish what his achievements really were from what he himself believed them to be.

Ted Ehara writes: "Some people have a self-effacing worship of the founder. Some writers have even placed him in a position of a divine being. They emphasize the mystical nature and enlightenment of the founder. This seems to be a path of self-deception. However taking this viewpoint, Morihei Ueshiba cannot be called O Sensei because in their estimation, he was never able to train someone up to his level."

PAG. I agree completely with the fact of bright-eyed adulation of O Sensei in certain circlesand dislike this custom very much, but I have found this to be more prevalent outside Japan than here. In my experience Japanese teachers of aikido living abroad are elevated on to much higher pedestals than their counterparts living in Japan. Here, being an aikido sensei is regarded as a somewhat unexciting job, with virtually no prospects. As for the divine, the Japanese have a much more fluid interpretation of this concept than some westerners, and, since he is dead, some of my Japanese aikido colleagues even regard O Sensei as a kami (= a 'divine' being, but without all the powers and trappings that we usually give to our pantheon). As a kami, he has about the same powers as those of his picture at the shomen of the dojo.

Ted Ehara writes: "Morihei Ueshiba was a person. A person who had powers that we all have."

PAG. Agreed. He himself never used the "O" prefix and his students generally avoided using it in respect of their own organizations. Thus Yoshinkan has a Kancho, which carries much more content as a 'job description' and title than (O) Sensei, and I know that K Tomiki never gave himself such a title. In the Aikikai, Morihei Ueshiba tends to be called "Kaiso" (this has been criticized by some as being too 'Buddhist') and his successors "Doshu". By what title was Tohei Sensei known?

In general, I am all for demythologizing where necessary, but I think that "O Sensei" in aikido is simply a title which has come to be reserved for the founder of the art. Thus, I think that in this thread Don Ehara is perhaps tilting at a windmill on a blustery day.

With very best wishes,

Shakahl
04-24-2004, 08:00 PM
Any time someone founds an art, it is often assumed that they are the greatest authority on that art.Morehei Ueshiba accomplished something that many of us would be truly blessed to accomplish ourselves. Was he infallible? Absolutely not. However, look what has happened to Aikido. It is a form that has changed into several different styles. Not to mention as far as martial arts go it is still relatively young. If anyone earns the right to be deemed O-Sensei it would be the founder. Aikido is not the same now as it was when M. Ueshiba founded it, but consider this. Compare Aikido in O-Sensei's time to what it is now, Comparatively speaking O-Sensei knew more than anyone about Aikido in his time. In the "modern" era though, no one is a complete authority on all forms of Aikido, because it has grown and changed. I have always treated O-Sensei's memory with the utmost respect. I don't think the question raised in this post ever truly was "is Morehei Ueshiba a deity of some sort?" the question posted was: is he worthy of the title O-Sensei? If he never founded it, it may or may not have ever existed. But we do know this. It currently exists because he DID found it. IMHO that alone earns him the title of O-Sensei.

George S. Ledyard
04-26-2004, 04:54 AM
I think it is interesting that in almost all these discussions people seem to view O-Sensei's acomplishemnys in terms of the creation of his physical. Vertainly Ted's original question seems to be considered from that point of view.

I think it is important to remember that O-Sensei was an extremely spiritual person and had had at least one, if not a series of what could be called "enlightenment" experiences (kensho or satori in Zen). If he had been acting within a Zen Buddhist context, he would have been considered a "Roshi".

I think the "O" in O-Sensei was accorded as a way of recognizing that O-sensei wasn't merely the highly skilled Founder of a physical martial art but a man of truely deep spiritual insight who had founded an art through which he hoped others could experience and develop their own insight and spiritual practice.

When it comes to a discussion about whether O-Sensei's students reached or exceeded his skill, it always seems to leave this question of spirituality out and for O-sensei, I think this was the most important element of his Aikido. Very few of his students either could, or cared to, venture there.

There is no doubt in my own mind that O-Sensei was the kind of larger than life spiritual genius that crops up from time to time throught out history in different arts and religious traditions that serve to revitalize those traditions. He was truly an "O-Sensei". Perhaps what was lacking for Morihei Ueshiba was very many "O-Deshi" who were inclined to go the distance to make their art as deep spiritually as they did technically.

Mark Balogh
04-26-2004, 09:28 AM
I think George has really hit the nail on the head. Sorry to back track or get off the spiritual note but I'd like to comment on some overall stuff earlier on...

On the other hand, and to go back to the thread subject, O sensei taught the traditional Japanese way, and I believe that he succeeded in forming a group of outstanding aikidoists who might have even surpassed in skills, starting from early pre-war students such as Mochizuki, Abe, Shioda, Tomiki... etc, untill the after war period students such as Tohei, Tamura, Noro, Yamada...etc.

Most of my opinion here is from watching various videos. The first AJ Tape O'sensei tape Aikibudo shows the founder to have exceptional ability, quite incredible. Tada Sensei seems to be the only one who comes close to that particular display.

I honestly don't think that anyone has surpassed the founder at his peak. On the First Friendship Demo Tape, Saito Sensei says something like "I will now perform the Kumi Tachi that the founder left, but obviously not at that level" and smiles. :)

However, I find that Tamura (have been lucky enough to get on his mat), Yamaguchi, Shoida, Tohei, Saito, and Osawa are all inspirational to watch and with fantastic Aikido. No doubt he produced amazing students. He must have been a GREAT teacher. It is my personal opinion that as we get further away from the founder, generation by generation, the skill levels are becoming less impressive. Is anyone else of this opinion? :eek:

akiy
04-26-2004, 09:56 AM
I think the "O" in O-Sensei was accorded as a way of recognizing that O-sensei wasn't merely the highly skilled Founder of a physical martial art but a man of truely deep spiritual insight who had founded an art through which he hoped others could experience and develop their own insight and spiritual practice.
One thing about the "O" in "O-sensei" that some folks outside of Japan don't know is that it's not the character for "dai" meaning "big but, rather, "okina" meaning "venerable old man."

I've attached an image of the characters for "O-sensei" that is often used in Japanese.

-- Jun

Yann Golanski
04-26-2004, 10:00 AM
It is my personal opinion that as we get further away from the founder, generation by generation, the skill levels are becoming less impressive. Is anyone else of this opinion? :eek:

I do not share that point of view. Ueshiba developed his Aikido and he was the best at it. Tomiki developed his Aikido and he was the best at it. Shioda devel.... you get the idea.

Ueshiba took some techniques from Daito-ryu, coloured them with his own philosophy and knowledge of other martial arts. He passed on a living, evolving Aikido not a dead art of set techniques to be performed only one way regardless of size, age and ability. Some of his students took what he had to offer and following his own advice found their own Aikido -- Tomiki, Shioda, Tohei, to name just a few.

Are they better? No. Are they different? Yes. Is that a good thing? Yes, because then I can learn Aikido.

Besides, if no students could surpass his teacher then Sokaku must be better at Aikido than Ueshiba ever was. Meaning that sometime ago, when we were covered in fur and living in caves, there must have been a super-sensei capable of doing ikkajo on mammoths!!!! RYAAAAA!!!....

Mark Balogh
04-26-2004, 10:15 AM
Yann,

Ok lets say they are just different. Tamura Sensei is the only one I've seen who looks similar to the old school shihan or O'sensei. I think this is because he was O'sensei's favourite uke (so I've been told) and that he started a little bit earlier than the most of the current Aikikai Shihan teaching in America and Europe.

I could guess that you don't think different is a bad thing. I think IT IS "further away" from O'sensei. Tamura Sensei is closer to O'sensei IMO. What happens if everyone keeps changing and becoming further away? See where I'm coming from? :)

AsimHanif
04-26-2004, 10:47 AM
Ted, I enjoy the premise of your argument. I think it makes for an interesting discussion.
The first line of your post says
"The term O Sensei indicates a truly great teacher. This is someone who not only instructs, but inspires. It is a term that can apply to a teacher on any subject."

Can this not be attributed to Ueshiba Sensei? I think there is ample evidence to support this. For he has truly inspired many; some who were born many years after his death.
Although you listed 3 great innovators of aikido can you factually state that any of them has had the impact on the art of aikido as Ueshiba Sensei? It says something significant that O'Sensei produced THOSE great leaders. Have those same great leaders produced as high a quality?
Remember O'Sensei also produced Nishio, Hikitsuchi, Ueshiba K., not to mention Kanai, Yamada, Tamura, Saotome, etc. I don't know but sounds like a Great Teacher to me.

If others have elated O'Sensei to divine status, then IMO they just don't get it.
Also when you say
"...Morihei Ueshiba cannot be called O Sensei because in their estimation, he was never able to train someone up to his level."

This is like talking about the value of capital in todays market compared to the market of 60 years ago. You have to look at what would be the worth of that capital in todays terms or vice-versa. This is a struggle to really nail down.

I love the argument though.

David Yap
04-26-2004, 10:02 PM
Hi all,

Did Marco Polo introduced spaghetti to the Chinese or did he introduced Chinese noodles to the Italians? That's a hot discussion topic in the office last night. Finally, someone suggested that it boils down to the ingredients that are required to make noodles/spaghetti and the source of the ingredients during Marco Polo's time.

I tend to agree with the majority that M Ueshiba truly deserved the title of O Sensei. He left us his recipes and instructions and it is up to us to vary to satisfy our taste buds - a more of this or a less or that, more heat or less heat etc. Years after his passing, we are still fascinated with the "dishes" he created albeit they are not identical (in appearance & favor) with his.

<snip>.. It says something significant that Osensei produced THOSE great leaders. Have those same great leaders produced as high a quality?
Remember Osensei also produced Nishio, Hikitsuchi, Ueshiba K., not to mention Kanai, Yamada, Tamura, Saotome, etc. I don't know but sounds like a Great Teacher to me..(snip>


Asim (& others),

Not meant to offend/discredit any Shihan (living or demised). I have posted this in another thread before but did not receive any direct answer (sensitive issue I believe). Coming from my professional backgrounds where accuracy and specifics count, who are/were direct and who are/were indirect students of O Sensei? I read somewhere in the Aikido Journal that except for Kanai sensei, the first wave and most of the second wave of teachers from Aikikai in the States were direct students of Tohei sensei who was the head instructor at Hombu at that time.

Regards

David

George S. Ledyard
04-27-2004, 01:32 AM
Not meant to offend/discredit any Shihan (living or demised). I have posted this in another thread before but did not receive any direct answer (sensitive issue I believe). Coming from my professional backgrounds where accuracy and specifics count, who are/were direct and who are/were indirect students of O Sensei? I read somewhere in the Aikido Journal that except for Kanai sensei, the first wave and most of the second wave of teachers from Aikikai in the States were direct students of Tohei sensei who was the head instructor at Hombu at that time.

Regards

David
My teacher is Saotome Sensei. I started Aikido with him in his newly opened Washington, DC dojo. After five years I moved to Seattle where I trained with Mary Heiny Sensei and also with Bookman Sensei. I got a lot of exposure and inspiration from Tom Read Sensei during those years. But I kept going back for seminars and camps, we invited Saotome Sensei and Ikeda Sensei out for seminars and eventually I opened my own place.

Now I trained with a lot of different folks. But no one ever questioned who my teacher is. Saotome Sensei is my teacher. He is the reason I got into Aikido, the reason I stayed, and he has provided the entire framework around which I have built my practice. I respect Ikeda Sensei and all the other wonderful teachers with whom I have trained but I am Saotome Sensei's student, period.

Most of the post war Deshi trained extensively with teachers other than O-Sensei. But it was the time they spent with O-Sensei that made the deepest impression on most of them. I have talked at length with Saotome Sensei and also a bit with Chiba Sensei and it is clear that in their own eyes they were students of the Founder. They may have taken classes with other teachers, Yamaguchi Sensei influenced Saotome Sensei quite a bit, but it was O-Sensei that provided the center around which they based their practice. He didn't have to be there for every class to still be the strongest influence oin these teachers. They trained with him, took ukemi for him, travelled with him, etc. He was their formative influence. When you listen to these people talk about their training years, it isn't Tohei Sensei that they mention, not even the Nidai Doshu, but it's O-Sensei that had the primary influence on them. Calling them "indirect" students is simply ignoring the power of the effect that the time they spent with the Founder had on their development.

David Yap
04-27-2004, 06:11 AM
snip.. Calling them "indirect" students is simply ignoring the power of the effect that the time they spent with the Founder had on their development.

Thank you, George sensei, for the reply.

I guess this sums up what is thread is leading to - it is the core of aikido (beyond techniques) that is the utimate goal we should seek. He took us on a path lined with mirrors; either one sees his/her own physical self or see beyond ones shell. That is the measurement for growth. "Spiritually" we will always be direct students of O Sensei.

David

Mark Balogh
04-27-2004, 06:18 AM
Nicely put David, I hope that is true. I certainly try and endeavor to stay as close as possible to O'sensei's teachings. :)

Bronson
04-27-2004, 10:02 AM
Tamura Sensei is the only one I've seen who looks similar to the old school shihan or O'sensei.

Sounds like you're assuming that the older ways are automatically better.

What happens if everyone keeps changing and becoming further away?

The art grows?

YMMV,

Bronson

David Yap
04-28-2004, 07:47 AM
<snip> I read somewhere in the Aikido Journal that except for Kanai sensei, the first wave and most of the second wave of teachers from Aikikai in the States were direct students of Tohei sensei who was the head instructor at Hombu at that time.

Hi all,

I also read this from Gaku Homma sensei's article "Fumio Toyoda Sensei, A Memorial Tribute". (My apology to Stanley Pranin sensei if my quote above is never anywhere from the AJ)

I believe Pranin sensei's article in the AJ is also timely - Aikido in the Postwar Years - Part 1: 1946-1957

David

Chad Sloman
04-28-2004, 08:12 AM
wow, thanks Ledyard Sensei, that really puts things into perspective. In any case, M. Ueshiba is O'Sensei to me because he is the founder. Aikido to me is beyond techniques, beyond martial principles and beyond philosophy. It is an amalgamation of all these things plus then some. It is a way for me to live my life. All of this would not have been possible without M. Ueshiba and his students. The skill of our shihan is just a testiment to the skill of our founder.

Charles Hill
04-28-2004, 07:34 PM
One thing about the "O" in "O-sensei" that some folks outside of Japan don't know is that it's not the character for "dai" meaning "big but, rather, "okina" meaning "venerable old man."


Another thing most people outside of Japan don`t know is that using the terms Osensei and Wakasensei is very common when two generations of "sensei" work in the same place. There is a dental clinic in my town run by a father and son, both named Hayashi. To avoid confusion, one is Osensei and one is Wakasensei. This has to be the origin of our "Osensei" as both Morihei and Kisshomaru were active in the dojo. However, contrary to what Jun wrote, our Osensei is referred to with the character "dai" in Japan (at least in Aikikai literature.) I am very interested in learning when the change took place. (Professor Goldsbury?)

A couple more points/opinions:

1. "Sensei" is not a title, it is a word of respect that denotes a relationship between two people. "Shihan," "Shidouin," and the like are titles that are given from top down. That is, a group or person with some kind of power hands down the title, and whether we agree or not, that person is Shihan and can refer to him/herself as such. "Sensei," on the other hand, is given up. That is, I feel respect for someone and wish to show it, so I call that person "Sensei" because I am lower in status. I think it is much more personal than a title.

2.As to whether most of the current Shihan are direct students of the Founder or not, I understand this argument to be at its core, a disagreement of who got the "real" teaching, and exactly how much time did the Founder spend at Honbu vs. Iwama. It seems to me that we may never really know.

3.I think that the lack of emphasis in Japan on the Founder is due to the idea that we learn Budo through touch. My teacher touches me (does techniques with me) and THAT is the teaching. I think that this is reflected in the Aikikai`s decision not to publish "Budo" in Japanese. My personal opinion is that both sides are necessary; a living teacher and a study of the teachings of the Founder.

Sorry about the length,
Charles Hill

Mark Balogh
04-29-2004, 03:52 AM
Sounds like you're assuming that the older ways are automatically better.

The art grows?

YMMV,

Bronson

1) Well I haven't been on anyone's mat who is better than Tamura Sensei!!!

2) In to what?

:)

David Yap
04-29-2004, 04:22 AM
Another thing most people outside of Japan don`t know is that using the terms Osensei and Wakasensei is very common when two generations of "sensei" work in the same place. There is a dental clinic in my town run by a father and son, both named Hayashi. To avoid confusion, one is Osensei and one is Wakasensei. This has to be the origin of our "Osensei" as both Morihei and Kisshomaru were active in the dojo.

This could more likely be the case. When Gichin Funakoshi (father of modern karate and founder of Shotokan/Shotokai) and his son, Giko, were both teaching in the 1930s and mid 40s, the father was referred as O Sensei and the son Waka sensei by their students.

David

Peter Goldsbury
04-29-2004, 08:02 AM
When I typed 񂹂, withe (Japanese kun reading) I was immediately given 搶, with no kanji variations. The reading for is IE (Chinnese ON reading), but the only combinations I have seen are proper names. In the literature Morihei Ueshiba is usually referred to as Jc kaiso, which is usually translated as Founder, and, of course, there is usually only one.

Bronson
04-29-2004, 09:50 AM
1) Well I haven't been on anyone's mat who is better than Tamura Sensei!!!

I can appreciate that, but "better" is a relative term. There are people here who talk about how good so-and-so sensei is because he can throw them so hard their teeth get knocked loose. There are others who like a different sensei because they are so soft you end up on the ground without really knowing why. Which is better?

2) In to what?

Something bigger, better, and more relevant to a wider variety of people. Yes I realize that all of my descriptors fall into what I was talking about in the previous paragraph...that's the beauty :D

Bronson

Mark Balogh
04-29-2004, 10:02 AM
Bronson - This is getting interesting. :)

1) Saotome Sensei said that being uke for O'sensei was like attacking and being thrown by a ghost. I believe (and some may disagree) that O'sensei at his peak was the finest practioner of aikido that has ever been. He was soft, relaxed and immovable. Tamurai Sensei is like this, that is what I mean by the best I've seen (in the flesh). I have never come across anyone (hard style or soft style) who has disputed his aikido. I think following O'sensei's example it is clear what "better" is.

2) A wider variety of the people? You are suggesting a martial art for the masses? Is that good for aikido technically? I don't have the answers but personally I am very intrigued by how and what O'sensei taught his close students, when they had one on one tuition and like.

What do you think BD? :D

Yann Golanski
04-29-2004, 10:38 AM
Hum... If Osensei "soft, relaxed and immovable" then why was Hell dojo named as such?...

Ueshiba changed and his Aikido changed a lot between the pre-war years and the post war years. Shioda and Tomiki both learned at around the Hell dojo times and their Aikido is harder than Tohei's. All three are teaching different things, all called Aikido. So, does that mean that they are all wrong? No, they just learned different things.

Aikido, as taught by Ueshiba, was a living and evolving art. He encouraged his students to find their own Aikido. At least that's what I understand from the research I have done.

Sure, Ueshiba was awesome. Sure there are other Aikido sensei out there that are awesome -- Tamurai, Nariyama, Doshu, Inoue, etc... The best thing about them is you can go and learn from them directly while they are still alive. *grin*

Maybe if you wanted to know the Aikido of Osensei you'd have to get shodan in Yoshinkan, Shodokan, Aikikai, Ki-soc and Imawa... And even then, what would you really know?

Mark Balogh
04-29-2004, 10:47 AM
I would say that O'sensei had not completed developing Aikido at the time of the 'Hell Dojo', but you have a good point. Shioda was pretty much as good as it gets physically/technically (if a little rough with his ukes!!!). Even then though, I have met a VERY high ranked karate sensei who saw O'sensei around this period and he said that he was so pliable and flexible in his technique it was fantastic.

I think you have some good points though Yann, maybe I am very focused on what I believe to be the best type of aikido. As you say, your own Aikido.

I wonder if there is someone who has trained extensively in all 4 styles? I know Chiba Sensei went to the Hombu's of 3 of those styles. :)

Ron Tisdale
04-29-2004, 01:30 PM
Peter Goldsbury has trained pretty extensively in more than one linneage...and he threw me with no problemo...

RT (It was a fun ride, too...)

sanskara
04-29-2004, 06:22 PM
I get the impression from reading this thread that some think Tohei was a post-war student. Check your history, he was quite pre-war. His unique approach to Aikido fits his preferences and is not necessarily indicative of the training he received from Ueshiba. At one time he suggested that only 60% of his taijutsu was Ueshiba influenced--I'd have to dig up that quote, I can't recall where it is exactly. In any event, he was very much a part of the Hell dojo climate; he simply chose another expression of the art.

David Yap
04-29-2004, 10:56 PM
Hi all,

Though the AJ's Chart of O Sensei's direct students does not specifically state O Sensei trained who at where and for how long, etc. it does show when these students commenced their training in aikido. Besides this chart, reading other historical literature do show that Shioda, Tohei and Tomiki did commenced their training before WW2, came back after the war and recommenced training with O Sensei at Iwama.

Most people perceived styles as "fighting" styles. In reality, they are about teaching methodology - the communication skill of the teacher and the teachers who came after him. Tomiki chose another path, blending judo and aikido to create competitive "games" in aikido. Shioda was chosen by people to teach aikido as self-defense. Dealing with mass of people (staff in departmental stores and police personnel in the Tokyo Metropolitan Police), Shioda had to take a different approach - the style of teaching in Yoshinkan is quite similar to karate classes where each techniques is taught in a step-by-step (kata) manner.

If one understands the concept of Shu-Ha-Ri, one would see ultimately that the "styles" lead to the same goal and point. Over time, O Sensei had trained students at various stages of his life - at the time when he was in his physical prime and at the time of his spiritual prime. This was evolution of his chosen art throughout his lfetime and if the students had/have stayed with him throughout this time, they too would have evolved with him and their skill and perceptions would also continue to evolve after him - this is a natural process of growth of wisdom. (Just compare the Wright brothers' plane a 100 years ago and the supersonic jets now).

It is getting too long. Maybe, other sensei can explain better.

Onegaishimasu

David

George S. Ledyard
04-30-2004, 02:30 AM
I get the impression from reading this thread that some think Tohei was a post-war student. Check your history, he was quite pre-war. His unique approach to Aikido fits his preferences and is not necessarily indicative of the training he received from Ueshiba. At one time he suggested that only 60% of his taijutsu was Ueshiba influenced--I'd have to dig up that quote, I can't recall where it is exactly. In any event, he was very much a part of the Hell dojo climate; he simply chose another expression of the art.

Tohei Sensei started in 1939 and trained until he was drafted in 1942 (Source: Aiki Encyclopedia) but he didn't have the "flavor" of the pre-war folks. I think he and O-sensei were very much in sync as they came out of the war... both had a vital spiritual compenent to their training which influenced how they percieved and executed their waza. That's why O-Sensei invested so much responsibility in Tohei Sensei. It was only later that Tohei had problems with other Honbu teachers and the Doshu wwhich lad to the split.

sanskara
04-30-2004, 10:55 PM
Tohei Sensei started in 1939 and trained until he was drafted in 1942 (Source: Aiki Encyclopedia) but he didn't have the "flavor" of the pre-war folks.

Not sure what this means, George. Flavor? He was there, he trained with those people, he was respected amongst said peers, he went in a different direction than Shioda et al--end of story.

I think he and O-sensei were very much in sync as they came out of the war... both had a vital spiritual compenent to their training which influenced how they percieved and executed their waza.

Apparently, they were in sync before as well. Tohei's fifth Dan, rewarded long before the draft, is a perfect example. Additionally, Ueshiba's Spirituality and that of Tohei's was drastically different post war. I would suggest that they were more in sync technically than Spiritually. Ueshiba saw many of the fundamental components of Aikido as being supernatural (Kami, etc.); Tohei views Ki and martial competency as the product of training that anyone can do.

For confirmation, please see the story on AJ about Ueshiba chiding a student for not being able to push Tohei over during a morning class. Tohei had been drinking the night before, and in Ueshiba's mind, could not have been an adequate host for Kami. Consequently, he shouldn't have been able to demonstrate such a feat of stability. But to Tohei, there is no relationship between such skill and Divine collaboration. Even in the current Ki Society, the emphasis is on Shin Shin Toitsu Do and not on Ueshiba's post-war peace, love, and harmony philosophies.

That's why O-Sensei invested so much responsibility in Tohei Sensei. It was only later that Tohei had problems with other Honbu teachers and the Doshu wwhich lad to the split.

Again, ability probably had more to do with this than Spirituality (on both counts.) Tohei post-war was developing his own theories about the importance of Ki, influenced primarily by the Ichikukai (not Ueshiba) and then later, the Tempukai.

George, I wouldn't sell Tohei short, the man's phenomenal. He didn't get special attention and consideration from Ueshiba because his philosophies jibed. Perhaps, your experiences with his organization have yet to adequately confirm this.

You know, I've followed your posts on AJ related to your new found love of Systema--congratulations, by the way. When I read them and your dissection of the art's components, however, I can't help but think that much of what you speak of has been practiced in the Ki no Kenkyukai since its inception. I guess sometimes packaging matters. By your own admission, you couldn't find those precepts in Aikido.

In any event, this is the second post of mine about Tohei that you've seen fit to correct or "clarify" in the past week. Meanwhile, you mention Saotome ad nauseum, often in a way that directly contradicts my experiences with Schools of Ueshiba dojos, and yet I hold my tongue. Oh well, to each his own...

Bronson
05-01-2004, 12:17 AM
1) Saotome Sensei said that being uke for O'sensei was like attacking and being thrown by a ghost. I believe (and some may disagree) that O'sensei at his peak was the finest practioner of aikido that has ever been. He was soft, relaxed and immovable. Tamurai Sensei is like this, that is what I mean by the best I've seen (in the flesh). I have never come across anyone (hard style or soft style) who has disputed his aikido. I think following O'sensei's example it is clear what "better" is.

I would probably tend to agree with you, others may not. There are high ranking instructors out there who have a reputation for being hard and brutal yet there are people who seek them out as instructors. These people want/need something different so for them the "soft, relaxed" aikido is not better. I have my preferences but that is exactly what they are, preferences. I can't honestly drop a blanket over a style or way of doing things and call it better. I can say it's better for me but that's about as far as I can comfortably take it.

2) A wider variety of the people? You are suggesting a martial art for the masses?

OH NO!! HEAVEN FORBID!! :p Sure, why not? I'm not saying everyone will do it but everyone who's interested should be able to give it a go. I was lucky enough to find an instructor that I "fit" with right off. If there's a bigger pool of personalities to pull from there's a better chance others will find an instructor they "fit" with too.

Is that good for aikido technically?

Again, this could go either way. If I"m a person who believes that we all need to follow the path that O-Sensei took with his personal training, from hard/uber-martial to soft/squishy, I'd probably say no. If I'm some one who thinks that we can stand on what came before us to reach even higher I'd more than likely say yes (I'll let you guess which one I am ;) )

I don't have the answers

I think we're in the same boat here :rolleyes:
Hell, I don't know the questions most of the time.

personally I am very intrigued by how and what O'sensei taught his close students, when they had one on one tuition and like.

That's cool. It's never been a concern of mine. I have a hard enough time just trying to understand what's going on in our little dojo.

What do you think BD? :D

That we probaly agree more than disagree
That it'd be fun to meet on the mat someday and train with you.
That fried egg and smoked provolone cheese sandwiches are yummy :D


Best,
Bronson

George S. Ledyard
05-01-2004, 08:37 AM
Not sure what this means, George. Flavor? He was there, he trained with those people, he was respected amongst said peers, he went in a different direction than Shioda et al--end of story.


Apparently, they were in sync before as well. Tohei's fifth Dan, rewarded long before the draft, is a perfect example. Additionally, Ueshiba's Spirituality and that of Tohei's was drastically different post war. I would suggest that they were more in sync technically than Spiritually. Ueshiba saw many of the fundamental components of Aikido as being supernatural (Kami, etc.); Tohei views Ki and martial competency as the product of training that anyone can do.

For confirmation, please see the story on AJ about Ueshiba chiding a student for not being able to push Tohei over during a morning class. Tohei had been drinking the night before, and in Ueshiba's mind, could not have been an adequate host for Kami. Consequently, he shouldn't have been able to demonstrate such a feat of stability. But to Tohei, there is no relationship between such skill and Divine collaboration. Even in the current Ki Society, the emphasis is on Shin Shin Toitsu Do and not on Ueshiba's post-war peace, love, and harmony philosophies.



Again, ability probably had more to do with this than Spirituality (on both counts.) Tohei post-war was developing his own theories about the importance of Ki, influenced primarily by the Ichikukai (not Ueshiba) and then later, the Tempukai.

George, I wouldn't sell Tohei short, the man's phenomenal. He didn't get special attention and consideration from Ueshiba because his philosophies jibed. Perhaps, your experiences with his organization have yet to adequately confirm this.

You know, I've followed your posts on AJ related to your new found love of Systema--congratulations, by the way. When I read them and your dissection of the art's components, however, I can't help but think that much of what you speak of has been practiced in the Ki no Kenkyukai since its inception. I guess sometimes packaging matters. By your own admission, you couldn't find those precepts in Aikido.

In any event, this is the second post of mine about Tohei that you've seen fit to correct or "clarify" in the past week. Meanwhile, you mention Saotome ad nauseum, often in a way that directly contradicts my experiences with Schools of Ueshiba dojos, and yet I hold my tongue. Oh well, to each his own...

Ok, hold on... a) I don't recall EVER saying anything that in any way referred to Tohei Sensei's abilities. It happens that my own teacher always spoke VERY highly of him.

b) my post this time (I don't remember the last one you refer to) did not in any way contradict what you were saying. In fact I threw it in as a factual detail SUPPORTING what you had said. You said he was a pre-war deshi and I supplied the dates.

As for what I added, it wasn't in contrast to anything you had previously said that I can see. It was merely my take on what seemed to happen after the war. Tohei Sensei was the pre-eminent representative of the art, as far as most of the world was concerned. When I said he was in sync with O-Sensei, I didn't mean he believed the SAME things, just that his Aikido did have a spiritual side to it, unlike many of the other deshi who just seemed to want to do the waza. Anyway, you clarified that from the standpoint of your superior knowledge of the Tohei side of it... thanks it is clearer now. I still don't see a conflict here, I thought we were having a discussion.

I am sorry I talk about Saotome Sensei "ad nauseum". I try to talk about what I know. I have been his student for almost thirty years. Almost all of my Aikido experience is thoroughly colored by that experience. Rather than try to pass off things that I know as my own, I try to give credit where the ideas came from. I'll do that whether it's Saotome Sensei or any of the other teachers I have trained with. If I don't mention another teacher then I feel it is something I understand well enough to really call it my own.

Why you felt it necessary to attack the ASU as agroup I don't get at all... did I say something negative about the Ki Society or whther it reflects the abilities of its Founder? I don't recall ever commenting on that. Nor do I ever recall contrasting what I have seen in Systema with any particular group in Aikido. I have merely pointed out that the way they train may have some benefits for Aikido in GENERAL. If you look at my posts on the subject you can see that any implied criticism can be applied to the folks from within my own organization as well as without.

If you felt that what I, or any of the other folks who posted about Systema, had to say could have been augmented with information about areas in which Tohei Sensei's system accomplished the same things within a traditional Aikido structure it would have been great to hear from you. You act like I was attacking you in some way I can't fathom. In fact, from what little I know about what you guys do, there may be some very interesting areas to explore that would benefit Aikido folks in general. If I had happened to have experienced them myself I would certainly be telling others about it.

Anyway, I am sorry if I have somehow offended you in my posts. I was completely unaware of having done so. When I have criticized any aspect of Aikido I have always been careful NOT to single anyone out but rather to keep the observations general. That means they may apply to what you do or they may not. Actually I would think that some of the ideas in my posts recently would be very much in agreement with someone from your side of things but I could be wrong.

sanskara
05-01-2004, 12:15 PM
Ok, hold on... a) I don't recall EVER saying anything that in any way referred to Tohei Sensei's abilities. It happens that my own teacher always spoke VERY highly of him.

b) my post this time (I don't remember the last one you refer to) did not in any way contradict what you were saying. In fact I threw it in as a factual detail SUPPORTING what you had said. You said he was a pre-war deshi and I supplied the dates.

Sounds like there was a bit of a communication breakdown on this one. The way I read your post was different than what you intended.

As for what I added, it wasn't in contrast to anything you had previously said that I can see. It was merely my take on what seemed to happen after the war. Tohei Sensei was the pre-eminent representative of the art, as far as most of the world was concerned. When I said he was in sync with O-Sensei, I didn't mean he believed the SAME things, just that his Aikido did have a spiritual side to it, unlike many of the other deshi who just seemed to want to do the waza.

Okay, I'm with you on that one. It's just that for someone who was so instrumental in the spread of Aikido, Tohei's contributions are very much under-valued in the current technical landscape of Aikido. FYI for those following this discussion: I'm not a current member or supporter of the Ki no Kenkyukai.

Anyway, you clarified that from the standpoint of your superior knowledge of the Tohei side of it... thanks it is clearer now. I still don't see a conflict here, I thought we were having a discussion.

We always were, George. Perhaps, some of my statements near the end of the message gave an alternate impression.

I am sorry I talk about Saotome Sensei "ad nauseum".

Alright, a bit harsh on my part. My apologies. Still, although it can be argued that you give credit where credit's due, to extol Saotome for all things Aikido undermines your contribution to the study of the art and what you've acquired through hard work and firsthand experience. It's like looking up the chain of command for the answers--something I abhor about the hierarchical structure of Aikido.

Why you felt it necessary to attack the ASU as agroup I don't get at all...

I don't think I crossed that far over the line. I simply said that your experiences with the organization and mine don't gist. Some of it could be simply a difference in taste, or experience with different schools.

If you felt that what I, or any of the other folks who posted about Systema, had to say could have been augmented with information about areas in which Tohei Sensei's system accomplished the same things within a traditional Aikido structure it would have been great to hear from you.

The truth is that my Aikido is not necessarily Tohei-centric, although there are strong influences in that vein. Generally speaking, if you find something in another art that complements your Aikido, there's not much else to say. I certainly don't want to be the guy on AJ that always chimes in with "Tohei Sensei taught us that" everytime somebody mentions something of value gleaned from a seminar.

You act like I was attacking you in some way I can't fathom.

Well, tone is something impossible to convey over the Internet. Truth be told, I was just laying it out as I saw it. I can't honestly say that I felt defensive or angered by your post, for what it's worth.

In fact, from what little I know about what you guys do, there may be some very interesting areas to explore that would benefit Aikido folks in general. If I had happened to have experienced them myself I would certainly be telling others about it.

There's good and bad, like in any approach to the art.

Anyway, I am sorry if I have somehow offended you in my posts. I was completely unaware of having done so.

I really wasn't offended, and I apologize if I gave you that impression. As I said earlier, I was just calling it as I see it--nothing more.

Actually I would think that some of the ideas in my posts recently would be very much in agreement with someone from your side of things but I could be wrong.

We probably agree more than we disagree. Communication's a b*tch.

Tadhg Bird
05-18-2004, 06:08 PM
Just picking on one specific point.

In 1891, James Naismith created basketball. I'd say there are hundreds of thousands of people who know more than him about his creation. I'd say virtually every basketball player today, at the high school level or higher, is better than what he was doing.

It is, however, a different game today. ;)

This stuck with me as I read it many many moons ago, and I happened upon it again today. I don't think basketball is an apt comparison. Aikido is not just a collection of physical techniques, it is the study of the spirit.

Better anologies IMOSHO would be,

Who is a better Confucian than Confucious?
Who is a better Buddhist than the Buddha?
Who is a better Christian than Jesus?
Who is a better Freudian Psychoanalysist than Freud?
Who is a better Jungian than Jung?

Ueshiba was an example of enlightenment that we are trying to emulate. Even if someone became as "good" as O Sensei, it would be different Aikido than that of the founder's.

Peter Goldsbury
05-18-2004, 08:52 PM
This stuck with me as I read it many many moons ago, and I happened upon it again today. I don't think basketball is an apt comparison. Aikido is not just a collection of physical techniques, it is the study of the spirit.

Better anologies IMOSHO would be,

Who is a better Confucian than Confucious?
Who is a better Buddhist than the Buddha?
Who is a better Christian than Jesus?
Who is a better Freudian Psychoanalysist than Freud?
Who is a better Jungian than Jung?

Ueshiba was an example of enlightenment that we are trying to emulate. Even if someone became as "good" as O Sensei, it would be different Aikido than that of the founder's.

I beg to disagree.

Your way of putting the question depends on what you think Morihei Ueshiba created.

Your question would better be put as, Was Confucius more enlightened than, say, Jesus? We have no means of knowing.

I myself am not trying to emulate Morihei Ueshiba insofar as he was enlightened, for this question does not interest me. I am trying to practise the budo he created: not his own aikido precisely, but something new, of my own.

Whether anyone can equal or surpass the Founder of an art depends to the extent that one can see the art as a self-contained structure, with a set of principles, in abstraction from the various individuals who practise it.

Best regards,

Nafis Zahir
05-18-2004, 10:59 PM
Did anyone stop to think that maybe O'Sensei didn't have a "teaching Style?" Aikido was like a revelation to him. His level of understanding might not have been easily put into words or explanations. But all of those students of his, who are now great instructors, trained with O'Sensei for years and have been preacticing for many, many years. Through all of these years, they have come to understand what they were "shown" by O'Sensei, and have tried to teach it to us through words, explanations, and breaking down the techniques so that we can see those suttle things that make the techniques so effective. And what? Most of us, although we spend so much time training and going to seminars and listening attentively, are not even close to being on their level of understanding or close to being able to execute technique at their level. And we are actually being taught! Chiba Sensei once said at a seminar, "Never get stuck doing a technique one way. Always look for a better way." I believe that is what O'Sensei did throughout his life. He was still O'Sensei. That cannot be denied.

I once read where Tohei Sensei said that when he got to Hawaii, he found that many of the Founders techniques didn't work (I believe he may have meant on Americans, who were bigger and stronger) and that his aikido after that, had become only 30% of the Founders, and 70% of his own. Could it be that he didn't perceive many of O'Sensei's techniques on O'Sensei's level? Or maybe he didn't comprehend them completely. I mean no disrespect to Tohei Sensei, but I found that statement odd, coming from someone who was given 10th dan by O'Sensei. But the point is, that all of the students who trained under O'Sensei, perceived his art differently. I beleive O'Sensei may not have taught it one way, because there was more than one way and that the art was beyond any one particular way.

Remember, Saito (Sr.) even changed techniques and weapons over the years for various reasons. But he did change things. But all of it comes from the foundation laid by whom? O'Sensei!

Largo
05-19-2004, 12:06 AM
My guess is that it would depend on your opinion. If you think aikido is a great thing, then yes, Ueshiba could be called O-sensei. If you think that aikido is crap and it's about running around in skirts, then no, adding the honorific "O" would be inappropriate.

ian
05-19-2004, 07:02 AM
I found Ted's comments very pertinent and very encouraging. I think it is important to believe we can be better than Ueshiba. Ueshiba did not become a good martial artist by copying one person. He worked relentlessly towards the goal of becoming a good martial artist, and that was it. I don't feel fit to judge Ueshiba's aikido because I haven't trained or been thrown by him. But I have been thrown by Yamada, who I think is amazing, and I have seen video footage of Ueshiba where I would question whether he is really blending and also be suscpicious of uke over-compliance.

Lets chuck the reverance for positions out of the window and just appreciate people for who they really are. I think a problem with martial arts being Japanese is that there is often a hierarchy that doesn't truly reflect the ability of the people in question. I also know this will be herecy to many people, but I think Saito would have been a better person to have been the official head of aikido rather than it going through Ueshiba's decendants. Partly for technical ability, but I also think that some people are predisposed (and may just have a real drive) for certain things and others don't.

Ian

Charles Hill
05-29-2004, 03:01 AM
I think a problem with martial arts being Japanese is that there is often a hierarchy that doesn't truly reflect the ability of the people in question.

I agree with this except for the word "problem." As I understand it, in Japan there is no need for the leader to be the most technically competent. In Daito Ryu, Shorinji Kenpo and Katori Shinto Ryu, the leaders are non-practicing relatives of former heads and the primary teaching is left to shihan and other teachers.

In the case of the Aikikai, we are lucky that the current Doshu is quite skilled. (I have been thrown by him and I think he is amazing.) However, the Doshu does not accept personal students like the other Shihan. His responsibilities go far beyond teaching, and I feel that if another Shihan (like Saito Sensei) had been made Doshu, it would have interferred with that teacher`s own growth thus limiting what we could learn from him.

Charles Hill

Infamousapa
05-29-2004, 03:32 AM
Jesus Is Everything //the Way The Truth And The Life////theres A Big Difference Between Enlightment And Being Saved.

Ron Tisdale
06-11-2004, 09:33 AM
I'm always a little surprised to hear people 'run down' the 2nd Doshu. I've heard this both inside and outside of aikido. Being a member of the yoshinkan myself, I'm a little outside of the discussion, but I have heard from people I respect *very* much that a lot of what he could do on the mat he reserved for very personal reasons...and he was not into self promotion. Yet they all tell me his technique was top notch. Just gotta wonder...

RT

Don_Modesto
06-11-2004, 10:54 AM
I'm always a little surprised to hear people 'run down' the 2nd Doshu. I've heard this both inside and outside of aikido. Being a member of the yoshinkan myself, I'm a little outside of the discussion, but I have heard from people I respect *very* much that a lot of what he could do on the mat he reserved for very personal reasons...and he was not into self promotion. Yet they all tell me his technique was top notch. Just gotta wonder...

RT

The times I had a chance to take his UKEMI, he was very strong. It quite surprised me because even then, in the early 80's, he looked quite fragile. He had a very giving presence on the mat.

I think Peter Goldsbury has gone a long way in dispelling some of the criticism on Kisshomaru. People accused him of softening aikido and dispensing with ATEMI, but if you look, the ATEMI is always there in his techniques and books. Being the Doshu, his books would seem to define the curriculum of aikido, but (famously excepting Tohei K.) allowed other SHIHAN to teach as they saw fit.

kironin
06-11-2004, 02:16 PM
If you felt that what I, or any of the other folks who posted about Systema, had to say could have been augmented with information about areas in which Tohei Sensei's system accomplished the same things within a traditional Aikido structure it would have been great to hear from you. You act like I was attacking you in some way I can't fathom. In fact, from what little I know about what you guys do, there may be some very interesting areas to explore that would benefit Aikido folks in general. If I had happened to have experienced them myself I would certainly be telling others about it.


Well as Ki Society teacher, I certainly felt at least what Vladimir was teaching at the Aiki Expo last year to be very much in tune with my training in Ki-Aikido. It was very compatible in terms of what felt like many of the same things and I have even borrowed some of the exercises especially like the ones he did for dealing with kicks and knives. It just fits right in with what our regular curriculum. More breathing exercises always good.

and for the record, if I am traveling and no Ki Society dojos are around, I certainly like to visit ASU ones.

as to the topic of this thread, Tohei Sensei considers O'Sensei his teacher and that's good enough for me. but we all have to surpass O'Sensei in some way or aikido will die. Change is inevitable. Even koryu arts face this problem. To me KS at it's best is about change and growth.

YMMV,
Craig

ValiantMouse
06-28-2004, 12:17 AM
My understanding limited as it is tells me that "Aikido" as seen by "O Sensei" existed prior to his finding it. It was not his "Aikido" nor is it ours.Yet it waits for us to take it but we can never own it yet it will sustain us. Like the air we breath. It is obviously ineffable as it is difficult to explain that which passes in and out of the material world and is part of that which is material and not. There is an essence which is true and and full of love that may be the glue which holds together, us. That is my impression as silly as it may sound.

John G

arderljohn
06-28-2004, 01:55 AM
WHAT! O Sensei wasn't a god! Next thing you'll tell me is there is no Santa Claws. Sorry I couldn't resist. ;D

Hey! dont compared this to santa claus this is not for kiddies. choco, candies,etc,etc. this is for real. and I truely believed that we must understand the concept of this thread. we must try to open our mind to accept the fact the O'sensei is not God. but we must accept the without limitation and aggression "O'Sensei Morehei". was a man of full of heart and happiness. We(practitioner of the Aiki) connot practice the art of Aikido without his creation"AIKIDO". that its, and thats final. ;)

George S. Ledyard
06-28-2004, 12:24 PM
Hey! dont compared this to santa claus this is not for kiddies. choco, candies,etc,etc. this is for real. and I truely believed that we must understand the concept of this thread. we must try to open our mind to accept the fact the O'sensei is not God. but we must accept the without limitation and aggression "O'Sensei Morehei". was a man of full of heart and happiness. We(practitioner of the Aiki) connot practice the art of Aikido without his creation"AIKIDO". that its, and thats final. ;)

On the one hand, one can understand why folks would feel the need to de-mystify the figure of Morihei Ueshiba. But on the other, much of what people are doing when they "de-construct" him is giving themselves an excuse to not aspire to more in their Aikido. O-Sensei was not a God, in the way that we would mean it. But in the way term is used in the East he may have been. The term in Sanskrit is avatar, a Divine Being who has taken human form to help us progress spiritually. Krishna was the most famous of these. O-Sensei described himself as a Kami in human form. He felt that it was his mission to help mankind by revealing the Truth as his own spiritual experiences had shown him.

If you de-mystify the figure of O-Sensei, as many have, it makes it easier not to challenge yourself to try to understand his message and to look at how his Spiritual understanding informed the physical expression of his art. So, no he wasn't a God in the sense the we use the term. But he was a Sage and it was his direct expereince of certain Spiritual truth that caused him to create Aikido as an art. Without that element, I don't think it really qualifies as Aikido in the way that O-Sensei meant the term to be used.

David Yap
06-28-2004, 10:01 PM
...<snipped> ... is giving themselves an excuse to not aspire to more in their Aikido. O-Sensei was not a God, in the way that we would mean it. But in the way term is used in the East he may have been. The term in Sanskrit is avatar, a Divine Being who has taken human form to help us progress spiritually. Krishna was the most famous of these. O-Sensei described himself as a Kami in human form. He felt that it was his mission to help mankind by revealing the Truth as his own spiritual experiences had shown him...

If you de-mystify the figure of O-Sensei, as many have, it makes it easier not to challenge yourself to try to understand his message and to look at how his Spiritual understanding informed the physical expression of his art. So, no he wasn't a God in the sense the we use the term. But he was a Sage and it was his direct expereince of certain Spiritual truth that caused him to create Aikido as an art. Without that element, I don't think it really qualifies as Aikido in the way that O-Sensei meant the term to be used.

George sensei,

May I add to your post?

There is an oriental saying, "If you meet a Buddha on the path, kill the Buddha and become a Buddha yourself". "Kill" in this context means "to aspire".

Regards

David Y

wxyzabc
06-29-2004, 01:33 AM
Imho this really is an unanswerable question in many ways because I expect the term "O-Sensei" holds many meanings for different people in the East or West. For some it may mean "The" teacher for some it may mean something approaching a Godhead figure...for others maybe something else...

Really I think what we have to accept is that Morihei Ueshiba was an exceptional human being who for many reasons..environment etc was somehow able to create something "new" or rather a "new way" of doing something.

The art of fighting is not new but arguably Aikido has taken it to a different level in terms of approach...

One thing I find interesting here in Japan is that although every Dojo has a picture and we pay homage and respect to his memories he really isn`t discussed..we practise Aikido...aikido is simply aikido...and again people have different understandings of what "Aikido" actually is..but, I know of no one here who appears to attach any great symbolism to it...or perhaps I am missing something?.

I think that possibly in the States somehow, some kind of romantic notion has been attached to the whole aspect of O-Sensei..who he was..what he could do...perhaps fuelled by books they have read, or have been written about a place and time that seems so different to what they know.

While I think it`s important to hold dearly and respect him for what he gave us, I question the need to analyse so closely this figure that very few ever knew..should we be looking forward or backwards?.. :)

Amassus
07-05-2004, 08:14 PM
Perhaps James and George need to hug :)

Sorry, couldn't resist.

George S. Ledyard
07-06-2004, 11:52 AM
Perhaps James and George need to hug :)

Sorry, couldn't resist.
Don't worry, James and George already "hugged" via e-mail. Next comes a rousing Kumbaya!

Michael Neal
07-06-2004, 01:32 PM
The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba has often been refered to as O Sensei. But is he really?



I think you should be burned at the stake or stoned to death for making such heretical statements.

Don_Modesto
07-06-2004, 02:47 PM
Ted Ehara wrote:

The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba has often been refered to as O Sensei. But is he really?

I think you should be burned at the stake or stoned to death for making such heretical statements.

No smilies.

Don't much like 'em myself, but they do convey a certain nuance. Absent the graphs and any hint of irony then, I'll take your post as a denunciation. I think, in general, Mr. Neal, I have agreed with your posts. This one, though, I've got to take issue with.

Most would agree that it's healthy to question. I think beyond health, it's something of a duty to question someone who was so charismatic as to become an icon. There have been, and are ongoing, barefaced attempts to mythologize the founder while sanitizing his militarist past and millenarian adventures. Whether it fits into the New Age pigion-hole we'd like to reserve for him, it is important to situate him firmly in his time and place and to question received knowledge concerning him. In this, we owe a great debt to seekers such as Stanley Pranin, Ellis Amdur, and Peter Goldsbury who have had the integrity and courage to uncover uncomfortable facts, relate them, and question. Over and against such issues, the question as to whether or not he was a good teacher seems small indeed.

TexV2
07-06-2004, 03:05 PM
My goodness....This is one of those threads that reminds me of competing in the Special Olympics. When or lose your still retarded. Oh oh....that wasn't very PC now was it? When am I ever going to learn?
Respects (Especially to all the Special Olympians out there) *enthusiastic thumbs up*
Marc

Ron Tisdale
07-06-2004, 03:28 PM
MN was definately joking...lately he has been particularly irascible... :)

Well, maybe that is not quite the right word for it...lets just say the judoka have been throwing him on his head too much... :D
RT

Ron Tisdale
07-06-2004, 03:32 PM
When or lose

:) Its not good to mention the special olympics, and then mis-spell *win*...

Ron :)

TexV2
07-06-2004, 04:06 PM
I guess you got a point there. *Mental note* "Make sure to spell check smart ass replies. Other-wise you tend to look like a jack-ass!"

Thanks,

Marc

Michael Neal
07-07-2004, 08:04 AM
I was definateley kidding. And as Mr. Tisdale pointed out, I also have been getting thrown on my head alot.

I was just poking a little fun at those who see Aikido as some sort of unquestionable dogma and that everyone should just follow without question, there are a few people like that in Aikido.

I have enormous respect for Ueshiba and personally think he deserves the title "O Sensei"

tedehara
07-07-2004, 03:21 PM
I think you should be burned at the stake or stoned to death for making such heretical statements.How very biblical of you. Of course, this is the source of the problem.

Some people are bringing their Christian attitutes to their training and believe it to be a show of reverance, when it is actually a poor excuse for Aikido and a bad use of Christianity.

Morihei Ueshiba stated Aikido is not a religion. For people who want to turn him into some Christ-like Yoda figure, they are going directly against his own teachings. Aikido is a matter of learning, not some mindless attendance of a dojo.

Of course, this is not helped by "miracle" stories created by writers who should know better. While these stories are denied by Aikikai and people who trained directly with the founder, they booster this attitude.

This attitude is also a violation of a fundamental Christian axiom. You are saved through Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ because of his divinity. You are not saved through Jesus and other people. He has the exclusive francise as Savior. If you doubt my understanding of Christian theology, ask your priest, pastor or minister.

The Japanese don't have this problem, since they do not live in a predominately Christian society. This is basically because of the samurai. For those who like to believe the samurai as a honorable group of killers, read up on their treatment of the Japanese Christians.

Finally Mr. Neal, what you wrote is called a Death Threat. It doesn't matter why you wrote or said what you did, what matters is you did it. This type of threat has certain legal ramifications.

If you said what you wrote to someone and they killed you on the spot, there is a possibility they would be found not guilty of murder because of that death threat. It doesn't get more serious than that.

Of course, it would be un-Christian of me not to find some way to forgive you.
;)

akiy
07-07-2004, 03:34 PM
For people who want to turn him into some Christ-like Yoda figure, they are going directly against his own teachings.
[snip]
Of course, this is not helped by "miracle" stories created by writers who should know better. While these stories are denied by Aikikai and people who trained directly with the founder, they booster this attitude.
Shioda sensei writes about his first-hand experience of seeing the founder basically "dodge'" bullets. My rough translation of the episode can be found here:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=48680&postcount=13

(The above is from the thread, "Super O'Sensei" (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3969). Related thread also here, "Poll: Do you believe that Morihei Ueshiba actually dodged bullets?" (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3986).)

As far as Michael's comments goes, he stated that he was just kidding.

-- Jun

Michael Neal
07-07-2004, 08:19 PM
Ted Ehara, good grief.

tedehara
07-08-2004, 10:39 AM
Michael Neal:
Most people on the net just write things off the top of their heads, often threatening others. If those same threats were made on the street, they might be considered assualt. Assault (Law) An apparently violent attempt, or willful offer with force or violence, to do hurt to another; an attempt or offer to beat another, accompanied by a degree of violence, but without touching his person, as by lifting the fist, or a cane, in a threatening manner, or by striking at him, and missing him. If the blow aimed takes effect, it is a battery. --Blackstone. Wharton. You may have written that threat in jest, but there was no immediate indication of that. Additionally, death threats are outside the realm of humor and should always be taken seriously.

I can only hope you do not make this a regular habit.

:cool: Kool

Michael Neal
07-08-2004, 11:52 AM
You are pretty much out of your mind.

TexV2
07-08-2004, 05:53 PM
How the hell do you assualt somebody on a thread board? It's goota be "a threat followed by a degree of violence" I just don't follow the physics on that one.
And to quote one of my favorite films...."Nobody is to stone anybody until I blow THIS whistle!!!"

tedehara
07-09-2004, 10:27 PM
You are pretty much out of your mind.If you believe we can only live with our self-delusions and not try to learn the truth.

If you believe we cannot treat each other with more respect.

Then yes - I am way off the deep end.

white rose
07-10-2004, 07:37 AM
Just a quick one.

Do you know the difference between God and some Aikido Sensei. God does not think his an Aikido Sensei.

I think its funny. :D

Sean

tedehara
07-10-2004, 01:47 PM
BTW Michael, don't take any of this personally. I certainly don't harbor any ill feelings towards you. However I am sensitive in this area.

Over the last few years, this web site has lost members through threats and accusations. They were good people with diverse points of views. I miss the great discussions we could have had.

Michael Neal
07-10-2004, 09:18 PM
Ted, the thing is that there were no threats made, it was a joke. The ridiculous thing is that even after me and other people have said it was a joke you still go on as if I was serious. This is why I say that you are out of you mind.

Jim Saba
07-30-2004, 06:08 PM
Ueshiba died when I was still an infinite, so I can claim to have know him or know really what he taught, but you are correct in your assessment of things. There are plenty of good technicians.

I guess that it like what we do to people in history. We choose to elevate some and not others. Some my deserve it , but people who are solid people don't generally need to show it.

Martin Ruedas
07-30-2004, 08:43 PM
This thread is quite annoying. if there is someone who has bad aikido, it's his/her fault. if there is someone who is good at it, it's because of his/her own efforts. I think O'Sensei is pointing us the Way and it's up to us if we follow and we soon realize that this Way, starts and ends right here, right now. :do:

Devon Natario
07-31-2004, 07:02 PM
Ehara- I love debates and discussions. Your first post brought many thoughts to my mind. O'Sensei- A great Sensei. One who was able to pass on techniques and philosophies that have brought Aikido to where it is today. Anyone that was able to do this is in fact great. As far as skill I can not judge for I have never seen this man in action.

I have learned this from my last instructor in Shin Shin Jujitsu. He made a comment to me just before I was sent out to teach. He said that I was able to beat him in many aspects of Jujitsu and that is how he knew he was teaching me correctly. He stated, "I could have held back knowledge or not taught you certain things so that I could truly be better in skill, however I shared 100% of my knowledge with you and now you are better in many aspects."

My reply to him was this, "You have shown me how to improve my own skills, without you I would not be as good as I am. I thank you for your honestly, patience, and ability to let your pride down and notice the accomplishments -""You""- have created."

I guess my point is that without a great teacher, you will not have great students. The practitioners you have said to be great, are great, because of O'Sensei.

I have only been studying Aikido for four months, so I have no clue of who anyone is except for O'Sensei. I appreciate your Devils Advocate ways in starting up a discussion by the way.
Take care and good luck in your studies.

Lyle Laizure
08-01-2004, 06:58 PM
Interesting statement to make. Forgive me if someone else has stated the following but I could not read the numerous posts.

So Ted, to say one product is better than another; ie. whether Saito, Tomiki, or whoever is better than or as good as O'Sensei would mean that you had practiced with O'Sensei as well as the other teachers you mentioned so you could make an educated decision. Have you practiced with all of them?

Truly all that were mentioned are masters in their own right as well as O'Sensei. Does it really matter who is better? Depending on the teaching style of the instructor you may learn better from John Doe and to you John Doe would then be O'Sensei, right?

George S. Ledyard
08-14-2004, 04:52 AM
Imaizumi Sensei is at our dojo teaching a seminar this weekend. I was chatting with one of his senior students and we got on the subject of how our teachers could, even after thirty years, still whip out some block of techniques which you had never seen before. I had seen this at the Rocky Mountain Summer Camp with Saotome Sensei. I was commenting on how much was lost each time one of these teachers passed away.

My friend said that Imaizumi Sensei had commented that this had started even in his generation. Much was lost when O-Sensei passed away and more as the old instructors, like Arikawa Sensei, died. When his generation passes, still more will lost. But he said that this was ok and part of the natural process because the students who have come after will develop their own knowledge and skills that they will add into Aikido so it will keep growing. It will be different but it will still grow.