View Full Version : What can you say about this?

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06-14-2004, 06:52 AM
Shoji Nishio in 1983, during an interview, was asked by S. Pranin if he ever considered writing a book.

His replies astonished me.
I'm always practicing and questioning. So I can't arrive at an absolute opinion. If you write a book and then die dissatisfied with it, who is going to rewrite it for you? Take the example of Saito Sensei's books. At that time his techniques were the best, but now there are some aspects which are unsuitable. Especially, in the technical sense. You have to constantly keep rewriting. That is the case even for a person of such a high level.

aito Sensei said that the techniques he is teaching were the teaching of O Sensei. The facts about this claim very much favors Saito. The books of O Sensei are a good source of verifying this fact.

Since the technique of Saito is the one being taught by O Sensei does it mean that Nishio is also saying that O Sensei's techniques are already obsolete or unsuitable?

Or Nishio does not believe that this are O Sensei's technique?

Just maybe he does not know whether Saito's claim is true or not? Meaning he doesn't know what techniques were really taught by O Sensei.

Just want to hear your comments. Thanks

L. Camejo
06-14-2004, 07:45 AM
I guess it depends on whether one wants to believe that Ueshiba M.'s techniques, and by extension Saito's techniques had no technical flaws/unsuitabilities to begin with. They were all human after all. Maybe Nishio saw something that he thought did not make any technical sense when applied to certain situations.

Aikido is constantly developing, I don't think anyone's technique stays the same as they evolve in training. As a result, a book can only capture a moment in time, based on the author's understanding at that point in his training.

Just my thoughts.

Ron Tisdale
06-14-2004, 07:56 AM
For instance, taking the bokken all the way behind your back when practicing suburi or in kata. I seem to remember a book from the Iwama crowd that showed pictures of Saito Sensei's son doing that...


06-14-2004, 08:57 AM
Ueshiba undoubtedly changed his style throughout his aikido. I could believe that Saito was doing what he believed to be Ueshiba's aikido at a certain period. Since Ueshiba was more of a 'demonstrator' than a teacher, and that aikido is principle based rather than technique based, I would consider that it really is true that different people see different principles underlying aikido (or at least the way it is interpreted). Even looking at early video footage of the uchideschi you can spot many of them by the way they do their technique - and none of them quite look like Ueshiba.

I believe aikido is a PERSONAL repsonsibility. Thus, like all the best martial artists, you must sincerely focus on becoming good and not just listen to what your current sensei (or the martial arts community) says. Although Ueshiba was undoubtedly a great martial artist, it would be dubious to think he was unbeatable, or even that the aikido he showed in the dojo was that which he did in real situations (I think aikido is better thought of as a training METHOD).

There is no ultimate truth (that can be spoken or written), so why was Nishio so worried about writing a book? Maybe the book he wrote could have lead someone else closer to the answers, even if they can't be arrived at. It seems a shame for many years of experience to be lost - but maybe many years of training is the only way to gain real martial insight and book writing is irrelevant? Who knows?


06-14-2004, 09:00 AM
Nishio Sensei can't have been too worried about it.


Greg Jennings
06-14-2004, 09:06 AM
For instance, taking the bokken all the way behind your back when practicing suburi or in kata. I seem to remember a book from the Iwama crowd that showed pictures of Saito Sensei's son doing that...
It's to check alignment down one's spine. It's not intended to be practical. We do it in the suburi.


06-14-2004, 09:32 AM
Recently I have been doing some research on Nishio Sensei and from what I have read he had the greatest respect for what Saito Sensei was doing. He even said that Saito Sensei is the only one doing Ueshiba style (this was also in a 1980's interview). Nishio felt that Saito was preserving what O'Sensei was doing at a particular time and it could be used as a reference. Nishio was saying that if we as aikidoists get "lost" we could find our way by referring back to what Saito Sensei was doing.
That being said I would take his statement that "...but now there are some aspects which are unsuitable..." to mean in this day and age they may not be suitable. Nishio is a big proponent of aikido evolving.

06-14-2004, 09:52 AM
Once a year I give a three-hour lecture on mathematical genetics. Every year I look at my note and slides from the previous year, and without fail I think I taught it wrong last year and there's some way to improve the presentation. When I haven't had time to revise the presentation and have just tried to give last year's, invariably it hasn't gone very well.

I don't think the facts of the matter have changed at all, but somehow the apparently right way to teach them in 1999 (when I first did it) now doesn't seem right.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if aikido were like this too, so if one was going to write a book one would have to accept a certain amount of ongoing frustration with it.

Mary Kaye

Hanna B
06-14-2004, 11:12 AM
Saito Sensei said that the techniques he is teaching were the teaching of O Sensei.

So he did.

Lots of people do not believe in this claim by Saito sensei. They think Saito sensei's aikido is osensei's aikido filtered through Saito sensei's body and personality - just like many other of osensei's students. Nishio sensei, on the other hand, is most certainly doing his own thing.

Saito sensei's students give Saito sensei this special position as the one who did osensei's aikido, but many others do not. I am afraid you will have to live with that.

Since the technique of Saito is the one being taught by O Sensei does it mean that Nishio is also saying that O Sensei's techniques are already obsolete or unsuitable?

As I already explained, I don't buy the first half of this sentence. But if we concentrate on the second half, Saito sensei himself said on one or two occasions that he was unhappy about one or two things in his old books, and many people have been tellling about how Saito sensei's teaching changed over the years. Maybe Nishio sensei was thinking about that. I don't speak Japanese, and don't know if this quote by Nishio sensei was well translated.

06-17-2004, 12:33 AM
Hi Hannah:

Dont get me wrong but I have earlier stated, records from books and other materials favors heavily with Saito Sensei.

I still have to see somebody challenge this claim by Saito. Nobody seems to question or challenge Saito openly about his claims.


Hanna B
06-17-2004, 10:37 AM
According to your opinion, these records are in favour of your opinion. Not to all others. For instance, I have heard people saying that Saito sensei's foot positions are different from osensei's, using the book Budo as proof.

I am sorry but as already has been stated, this topic has been discussed to death. Do a search, and then get back... or live happy in your little world where the truth is simple. Choose your pick.

Best regards,

06-21-2004, 03:47 AM
Hi Hanna:

Thanks, as I said my OPINION. Cheers!

06-21-2004, 03:52 AM
Anyone else for the Life of Brian sketch here? I'm for the Peoples free federation of Ki Guerrillas myself

06-22-2004, 12:05 AM
Hi everyone...new member..:-)

Well I`ll jump in feet first and say that personally speaking I think that as Aikido is so new, much emphasis is put on the founder...perhaps too much...what he did...what he wanted us to do and wrapped up in that is, who was his "best" student? and who understood him the "best" and adheres to his techniques. I guess that over time this will become less important and like all sports or participation activities, aikido will develop beyond what was originally created.
In every other area of life we push back the envelope of human achievement and excellence...aikido will be no different. Lets face it if aikido has some 10,000+ variations of techniques is it possible that one man could be exactly the same as O-Sensei in every technique? indeed can we really say O-Sensei was the best aikido practioner ever?...maybe not... In saying this I dont want anyone to think I hold little respect for the founder or Saito Sensei...this is not true.
What I do believe is that others have played a very important role in the development of our sport and Nishio Sensei for example, having a background in Karate (which the founder didn`t have) has incorporated elements that imho make his style extremely dynamic and realistic.
With regards his comments about the book...of course everyone even the "gods" of this sport must be continually improving and learning...everyone knows the feeling of doing a technique with one person and its great..do it with another and it doesn`t work so well.
And I reckon its fair to say that some elements of our sport are outdated (unnecessary?) and perhaps can even cause harm to the individual over time...talking about kneeling techniques here mainly.
Hope this hasn`t offended anyone.....

06-22-2004, 10:37 AM
IMHO as a writer, i hope I look back and find things "unsuitable" in my books. It only means that I have learned some things and that I continue to evolve.

Just cause it's in print doesn't mean it totally true or eternal. The written expression only documents where you are at that point on your journey and to share it with others in the hope that it can be of some small help on their journey. The written expression is only the map and not the territory.

As Lee and Inosanto would say, "Absorb what is useful."