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Michael Cardwell
08-12-2004, 02:39 AM
I remember reading somewhere in an autobiography on Osensei (I think John Stevens wrote it.) that Osensei stood in for his sensei in several duels. The book said that while Osensei's opponent probably meant to kill him, that it is not known if he respond in kind. I was just curious, does anyone think Osensei would have, or did, cut someone down in a duel?

ian
08-12-2004, 05:34 AM
I have heard from a reliable source that Ueshiba permanently damaged a top judo competitors hip after a challenge (when the judoka came in to throw, he struck the hip with his fist). Also, Ueshiba is known to have killed several bandits when trying to set up his hippy colony in Mongolia.

When you say cut someone down, do you mean kill them? I think in his earlier days I would say absolutely he would. I think later on he felt that killing was pointless (I personally believe it was a psychological effect of the Japanese defeat in WWII, possibly the A-bomb or personal changes which brought about this change in attitude).

Ian

Michael Cardwell
08-12-2004, 05:57 AM
Thanks for the info Ian, And I did mean kill when I said cut down. For some reason I was thinking that the duels that Sokaku has Osensei fight for him were sword duels, now I not sure that I every read if they were or not. Do you have any idea at what time of his life that this duel with the Ju doka happened? Sounds like it was earlier on in his life.

Michael Cardwell
08-13-2004, 01:47 AM
No other takers huh? I was genuinely curious as to what some other peoples opinion about Osensei's character was like in those days. Is this like a dark secret of the Ueshiba family? Is that why no one seems to want to commit on this? Am I going to be attacked in the middle of the night by aikidoka from the hombu dojo? He he. Anyway, some more feedback would be nice. Thanks all. :)

PeterR
08-13-2004, 02:20 AM
Michael;

Just to point out if John Steven's wrote it - it can't have been an autobiography. :D

There is a story that Ueshiba sparred against a skilled kendo man who was unable to touch him. The way I read it was that it was a practice sword and Ueshiba M. avoided the blows. No duel to the death - sorry.

I never heard of Ueshiba M. standing in Takeda S.'s stead to fight sword duels.

Michael Cardwell
08-13-2004, 02:39 AM
The way that I remember reading it was that Takeda was constantly getting challenges from his enemies ( family or friends of the people he had killed or defeated), and that he had Osensei, his star pupil, stand in for him in several duel as a learning experience. I think that was in the book Invincible Warrior. You're probably right about John Stevens. :0

PeterR
08-13-2004, 03:30 AM
John Steven's books are enthusiastic - but what I meant was that an autobiography on Ueshiba M. had to be written by Ueshiba M.. If John Stevens did it then it would be a biography. Sorry about the quibble.

Ueshiba M. was not a trained swordsman - I doubt he would be asked to cut anyone down. However, there is along tradition in the martial arts that challengers first had to fight the student. This had several advantages for the master for it allowed to see what the challenger had and more importatly tired out and possibly wounded the challenger. I know one deshi of my teacher who was asked to do this, nothing recent though. No problem believing it of Ueshiba M. and his relationship to Takeda S..

Michael Cardwell
08-13-2004, 03:58 AM
Oops, now I feel stupid, to cover my mistake I'll ask a series of stupid questions and make stupider statements, that'll work. :o
Seriously though, I'm surprised that Osensei was not a trained swordsman, I assumed that in his study of classical Budo that he trained in swordsmanship. I also remember reading on a kendo website that Osensei was an excellent swordsman. Can't trust those Kendoka I guess ( just kidding, Kendoka).

PeterR
08-13-2004, 04:11 AM
Takeda S. was a trained swordsman but I was always under the impression that his training with respect to Ueshiba M. did not involve kenjutsu. This refers to the time Ueshiba M. was travelling around with his teacher. Latter on he signed a blood oath with one school, observed a few classes and had his students attend - I assume they showed him what they had learnt. He practiced a lot.

I really have no idea about the quality of his sword work. I have heard kenjutsu people go positively anal about how it isn't real kenjutsu and others that point out it really wasn't that bad at all. There's a bit of ego in there I'm sure. Still it boils down to Ueshiba M. not being known for his swordwork.

Michael Cardwell
08-13-2004, 04:43 AM
Well now you've sparked my curiosity Peter, Do you have any idea who might know about Osensei's sword training? I' ve read a few books on his life but they seemed kind of vague about the training he did. Someone just started a new thread asking about the origin of sword work in aikido, maybe that will bring about some answers.

markwalsh
08-13-2004, 04:51 AM
I believe that in a book by Gozo Shioda there's a story about O'Sensei's sword becoming sticky with the fat of dispatched Chinese folk. Perhaps someone can verify?

All a bit morbid really. I wonder assuming that O'Sensei did kill people (at least in his younger years) , does this make him more or less qualified as a prophet of peace? I don't know.

Regards,
Mark

Yann Golanski
08-13-2004, 05:52 AM
In the Shodokan syllabus, there's some kumi tachi waza which comes in at fourth dan. Nariyama sensei said that this was passed by Ueshiba-sensei to Tomiki-sensei with the comments that he was never allowed to change any of it since it was passed from Takeda-sensei himself. Last time I trained with Nariyama-sensei, he made a point of making sure we all did the kata as he was doing it because of the above.

However, I have no idea if this kata is "reasonable" to any kenjutsu folks. I've never done enough kenjutsu or sword fighting to judge.

Christian
08-13-2004, 03:22 PM
This is very surprising to me. Since the open hand techniques are based on sword techniques, it seems counter-intuitive to say O-Sensei was not a skilled swordsman. I, of course have no direct knowledge either way, but it doesn't seem to make sense.

Richard Cardwell
08-13-2004, 06:19 PM
From what I've heard, Takeda Sensei was rarely unarmed- apparently, he was never photographed without some form of visible weaponry. It seems he was constantly on guard against possible attackers. Could the armament have been a means of visible disincentive to his perceived enemies, or did he genuinely intend to use them? I don't suppose the question can be answered, since I don't imagine anyone he taught is still alive; but it's an interesting one, I think.

Michael Cardwell
08-13-2004, 09:56 PM
Hey Richard, good to see there are other Cardwells out there, not sure if we have any relation to each other or not, but our last name is not real common. In regards to your post, I think that Takeda was in fact paranoid. Probably with good reason though. I think he carried weapons because he expected to use them. There are several stories about him carrying concealed weapons on him, usually in a walking stick.

George S. Ledyard
08-14-2004, 04:32 AM
I remember reading somewhere in an autobiography on Osensei (I think John Stevens wrote it.) that Osensei stood in for his sensei in several duels. The book said that while Osensei's opponent probably meant to kill him, that it is not known if he respond in kind. I was just curious, does anyone think Osensei would have, or did, cut someone down in a duel?
I think that you are a bit murky on this subject. O-Sensei had some challenges. These were normally attempts by people to determine whether he could walk his talk.

For instance, the students at his Toyama Academy class decided to ambush him after calss one day. They had an assortment of bokken and juken and apparently he did quite the randori with them.

There was also the Naval officer who disputed O-sensei's ability and they went outside and the man attacked O-Sensei for quite a while with a bokken to no avail. This was the incident which occasioned O-sensei's first kensho experience.

It was Shioda Sensei who recounted the story of O-Sensei breaking the back of the Judo man using an atemi against his attempted koshinage.

O-Sensei seriously injured a man who had requested a friendly match. Apparently the man, rather than come in with the kind of conrtolled attack which one would do if one were seriously interested in learning from a teacher, came in with a potentially lethal strike delivered with full intention. O-Sensei didn't even do a technique but just did an irimi and the fellow collided with O-Sensei with such force that he bounced off and hit the wall with such force that he recieved a compouynd fracture and was not able to continue his sword career. O-sensei reportedly felt badly about this and afterwards refused to accept challenges any more.

Most of the challenges were friendly and at O-sensei's invitation. For instance in Manchuria he met the Sumo star Tenryu. He invited Tenryu to throw him but Tenryu could not and was inturn thrown himself. He became a student of the Founder after that.

I can't imagine a case in which O-Sensei would have been fighting duels in place of Takeda Sensei. One normally fought ones own duels. Challenge matches at the dojo, perhaps... If one wanted to have a match with a Teacher it was often the case that you would have to demonstrate your skill first by fighting some of the senior students. If your level was high enough and they liked your attitude, you might be granted a match with the head instructor. It could have happened but I can't recall any reference to this occurring.

Takeda Sensei himself did use his sword to deadly effect. He was attacked by a mob of construction workers as he passed by a construction site. They threw bricks and attacked him with long construction tools and when the mounted Tokyo riot police arrived an exhausted Takeda was standing amidst a circle of bodies. He was cleared of all charges.

I don't know of any other stories about either Takeda or O-Sensei. I sincerely doubt that he engaged in to the death matches. He was quite upset, apparently, about having injured the swordsman who attacked him. O-sensei was a combat veteran and didn't need to prove himself in that way. I think he would have had to be coerced into it and I have never heard of that happening.

Devin McDowell
08-14-2004, 05:46 AM
Ueshiba M. was not a trained swordsman...
I read that he studied fencing.

George S. Ledyard
08-14-2004, 08:44 AM
Ueshiba M. was not a trained swordsman - I doubt he would be asked to cut anyone down.

I think it would be a mistake to say that O-sensei was not a trained swordsman. It is true that he did not have a teaching license in any koryu. But it is also true that he was officially on the roster of the Kashima Ryu (Meik Skoss was shown the scroll) and almost certainly did some "official" training early in his career.After that, he trained himself.

O-Sensei trained with the sword constantly. You can read stories of the thirties deshi doing paired live blade training in the dark in the middle of the night. O-Sensei could barely say more than a few sentences about Aikido without reaching for a sword (bokken) to demonstrate.

Some of the challenge matches O-sensei had were done with the sword aginst conventionally trained swordsmen and he purportedly hadled himself just fine.

MitchMZ
08-14-2004, 10:14 AM
When you look at Aikido, you can see where its basically an armed art that evolved into empty hand techniques. Anways, I was under the impression O' Sensei trained in kenjutsu.

NagaBaba
08-14-2004, 10:23 PM
Some of the challenge matches O-sensei had were done with the sword aginst conventionally trained swordsmen and he purportedly hadled himself just fine.

Me, I still think, that all these stories about duels are urban legends. We have no facts, no dates, no names, no witness....
When Don Dreager wanted to test Founder's skills he was refused. One may wonder why......

Chris Li
08-15-2004, 02:24 AM
I think it would be a mistake to say that O-sensei was not a trained swordsman. It is true that he did not have a teaching license in any koryu. But it is also true that he was officially on the roster of the Kashima Ryu (Meik Skoss was shown the scroll) and almost certainly did some "official" training early in his career.After that, he trained himself.

By "not trained" I would say that he was never "formally" trained - ie, that he never enrolled in a classical school as a student and followed the training curriculum in the normal manner for any significant length of time. His swordwork seems to have been more or less his own invention, with some heavy borrowing on the side.

He did have a license in Yagyu Shinkage Ryu from Sokaku Takeda, but I'm not sure how much that means since, AFAIK, Takeda didn't have any particular right to issue Yagyu Ryu licenses...

All though he was officially enrolled in Kashima Shinto Ryu, this was only in order to have instructors come and train Kisshomaru in the art - he never participated in the training sessions himself (although he apparently ended up lifting parts of the curriculum).

Best,

Chris

George S. Ledyard
08-15-2004, 07:50 AM
By "not trained" I would say that he was never "formally" trained - ie, that he never enrolled in a classical school as a student and followed the training curriculum in the normal manner for any significant length of time. His swordwork seems to have been more or less his own invention, with some heavy borrowing on the side.

He did have a license in Yagyu Shinkage Ryu from Sokaku Takeda, but I'm not sure how much that means since, AFAIK, Takeda didn't have any particular right to issue Yagyu Ryu licenses...

All though he was officially enrolled in Kashima Shinto Ryu, this was only in order to have instructors come and train Kisshomaru in the art - he never participated in the training sessions himself (although he apparently ended up lifting parts of the curriculum).

Best,

Chris

No question... but I don't think that one would be wise to not think of him as a "swordsman". The sword was fundamental to how he envisioned his art. Whether or not he had completed any koryu curriculum, with his understanding of timing, spacing, etc coupled with his legendery and well documented "intuition", I think O-Sensei would have given a fair account of himself in any contest with blades. Most of swordsmanship, like most of martial arts, is about suki or openings and the ability to take advantage of these openings. Regardless of lack of formal ryu ha sword training, O-sensei was an expert on openings and he spent many years working on how one points those openings out to a partner using the sword. To me, that would qualify one as a swordsman even though it was his own unique usage.

Also, I don't think that working from a "negative", meaning inferring some significance to his non-meeting with Donn Dreager for instance, provides any information whatever in judging O-Sensei's swordsmanship. One may wonder why all one wants. I suspect that at that point in his life he simply wasn't interested. This was well after the point in his life at which he "officially" stopped taking challenges.

Don_Modesto
08-15-2004, 01:39 PM
Also, I don't think that working from a "negative", meaning inferring some significance to his non-meeting with Donn Dreager for instance, provides any information whatever in judging O-Sensei's swordsmanship. One may wonder why all one wants. I suspect that at that point in his life he simply wasn't interested. This was well after the point in his life at which he "officially" stopped taking challenges.

Or maybe it was his deshi just insulating him from outsiders. He was sometimes more open to change/outsiders/progress than those surrounding him.

Stuart Mckay
08-15-2004, 05:00 PM
maybe a tad off-topic but my sensei told us a story tonight about osensei accepting a dual against a kendo master, and he said "before u can strike me in the head i will turn u into a pin cushin" naturally the kendo master went for his head and osensei won the fight.

Much more of a mind game in that the fight was over before it had begun, which is the point i think my sensei was trying to make.

Don_Modesto
08-15-2004, 08:09 PM
...a story tonight about osensei accepting a dual against a kendo master, and he said "before u can strike me in the head i will turn u into a pin cushin".

How do you say "pin cushion" in Japanese?

PeterR
08-15-2004, 08:36 PM
I've always wondered about that. You have two guys with wooden swords with no real contact. How do you know who won.

Two 10 year olds playing cowboys. "bang bang you're dead" "no I'm not" "yes you are"

Michael Cardwell
08-16-2004, 02:41 AM
Well everyone, thanks for the commits on this subject. I decided to dig out the book that I remember reading the stuff about Osensei standing in for Takeda in a few fights, only to find that the passage actually answered my question already. I hadn't read this book in about two years, I guess I didn't remember it all. Anyway here the passage out of the book.

" Sokaku paid a high price for obtaining such a fearsome reputation. Enemies-the friends, family, disciples, and henchmen of the people he cut down-were everywhere, and Sokaku stayed constantly on the move to foil his pursuers."

" On occasion, Sokaku used Morihei as a stand-in to deal with some of the death threats he was constantly receiving, figuring, no doubt, that such practical hands-on experience would benefit his star student. Thus, Morihei was forced to square off against opponents who were intent on killing him. Details are sketchy but it appears that Morihei never responded in kind, and subdued the attackers without fatal result." Stevens, John. Invincible Warrior

I guess that answers that, and it follows with what I know about Osensei, and what most of you have been saying. Some other interesting subjects come out with this discussion though, like was Osensei every trained in swordsmanship? I think he must have been, and that he did not just make up his own style. Take just for one example, his training with Takeda sensei. Takeda was trained in swords and spears at a very young age, and most of the stories about Takeda involved swords, like him getting his front teeth knocked out after he broke a spear with his sword and the tip bounced off the ground and hit him. When he cut through all the construction workers with his sword, and when the workers in the field tried to rob him. Also I heard that the weapon he feared was the hardest to defend against was the kusari gama, ( a sickle with a ball and chain hooked on) which was designed to stop the katana. Seeing as how he was so known for his sword work, I can't imagine why he would not teach this to his best student.

graham butt
08-16-2004, 05:04 AM
ピンクッション

This is pin cushion in Japanese. Hope you like it.....

NagaBaba
08-16-2004, 04:38 PM
Oh, Invincible Warrior, THE reference book for all aikidoka! ;) ;) ;) ;)
Sz.(sorry Ron :) )

Don_Modesto
08-16-2004, 05:56 PM
ピンクッション

This is pin cushion in Japanese. Hope you like it.....

Ha!

Thanks.

Michael Young
08-18-2004, 03:17 PM
I just came accross an interview with Kazuo Chiba Sensei on the Aiki Journal website that made me remember this post. Toward the bottom of the page, the interviewer asks why Chiba started taking iaido lessons. Chiba then relates a story about a duel that O'Sensei faught against an iaido practioner, in place of Takeda. Chiba cites this story as the reason he decided to take up iaido practice (so as to be able to defend himself against an iaido attack). The story, as related by Chiba, came directly from O'Sensei while he was being interviewed by someone writing a book. The partial article can be found here:

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=121

Mike

akiy
08-18-2004, 03:23 PM
I asked Stanley Pranin whom I would consider to be the foremost historian of aikido in the interview (http://www.aikiweb.com/interviews/pranin0800.html) that I did with him some of the questions that have been raised in this thread. Hope it helps...

-- Jun


AW: O-sensei also reportedly studied a lot of other koryu arts outside of Daito-ryu.

SP: I would say that that's not true.

If you look at it historically, he went up to Tokyo in 1901 and spent about a year there. During this stay in Tokyo when he was training to become a merchant, he did a little bit of Tenjin Shinryo-ryu jujutsu. It was probably a "machi" dojo, in other words a small dojo in the Asakusa area of Tokyo. He would go there at night, but it was probably about three or four months total since he got very ill with beriberi and had to leave Tokyo and return to Tanabe. He was doing it while working very hard during the day and it was a very brief period of only a few months. It would be difficult to imagine that that had a strong, technical influence.

By the same token when he was in the army, he also began studying Yagyu-ryu jujutsu. There are some questions about what the actual name of the art was. O-sensei referred to it as Yagyu-ryu jujutsu, while [Kisshomaru Ueshiba] Doshu did some research and said it was Goto-ha Yagyu Shingan-ryu or similar name.

He was in the army at the time and also was sent to Manchuria for a part of the time. It was hard for me to imagine him going regularly while being in the army, so I don't know if his training was on the weekends or what. He apparently was enthusiastic about his training but there just weren't the circumstances to allow a detailed study.

He did, however, continue to study a little bit of Yagyu-ryu after he got out of the army, but he was in Tanabe which was a couple of hundred miles away and he had to go up by ferry! Again, maybe he went up three, four, or a half a dozen times, but it wasn't the sort of thing of an intensive study with someone year after year.

Now, he did have a makimono (scroll) as well -- however, it bears no seal. One can only speculate what that meant. Sometimes what happens is that a person would be told to prepare a makimono or have someone prepare it and, for whatever circumstance or reason, the teacher never gets around to signing it. Therefore, the scroll cannot be considered official.

So, it would appear that he did study this Yagyu-ryu form more than the Tenjin Shinryo-ryu jujutsu, but probably at the most he did a year or two.

The other art that he studied, but again not in very much depth, would have been judo. The first description of the teacher who was sent down from the Kodokan to Tanabe by O-sensei's father to teach Morihei and various relatives and friends gave the impression that this judo teacher was somewhat of an expert. It turns out he was 17 years old. I met his wife back in the 1980s and she told me this directly. He could have been a shodan, maximum. Also, O-sensei was involved with other things in this transition phase of his life trying to figure out what he was going to be doing as a career. One of the reasons, according to Doshu, that this judo person was brought in was to help him focus and channel his energies. But O-sensei ended up going to Hokkaido.

So, you have this very brief stint in Tenjin Shinryo Ryu, some training in Yagyu Ryu jujutsu while in the army, a smattering of judo, and then Daito-ryu. That's it. The impression that he studied many different arts other than Daito-ryu and mastered them is completely false.

AW: So all of this talk about him being a sword master or a yari (spear) master are unfounded?

SP: Well, take the yari for example. He received some juken (bayonet) training in the army, but so did I! I'm sure he did a lot more than I did, but in that context you're not doing a martial arts type of training. The yari was probably an extension of that bayonet training and whatever else he learned along the way. We know he did a lot of self-training during his Ayabe years at the Omoto. There are anecdotal evidence that he would use a yari in his practice, but there is no record of him having formal training.

Of course, he saw lots of martial arts. He would for many years perform at demonstrations. Later on in 1937, he actually formally joined a Japanese ryuha, the Kashima Shinto-ryu. In fact, he gave his keppan, his blood oath, along with that of Akazawa Zenzaburo. He apparently did not train but made arrangements with the headmaster of that art to have teachers come to the dojo. These teachers would visit the Kodokan and then O-sensei's Kobukan dojo. This went on for a year, year and a half with Ueshiba observing the training very carefully. Akazawa, Kisshomaru, and maybe a few other younger deshi would practice this art. The proof of the pudding is if you look at Saito Sensei's first kumitachi and the second one, they're virtually identical to those forms in the Kashima school. The discovery of the keppan and my interviewing the headmaster of that form told me the whole story.

AW: So it wasn't like he received a menkyo kaiden?

SP: No, he received nothing. But, he did formally enroll in the dojo and apparently did observe the training very well. Obviously, a lot of what he got from that was the raw forms that he used during the Iwama years in training to develop and express himself through the weapons.

AW: That's very interesting because so many people say that aikido is based on the sword arts and that all of the movements that we do are sword movements.

SP: I don't necessarily disagree with that. You have to remember that when we're talking about Daito-ryu aikijujutsu, this was just a sliver of Takeda Sokaku's knowledge; his major arts were the sword arts. So, although Takeda apparently did not teach a lot of sword, the whole sword mentality permeates his jujutsu. O-sensei certainly perceived it that way.

This is a very common view in Japanese martial arts. Many teachers of other arts based themselves on the sword in their thinking. As the saying goes, "The sword is the soul of Japan."

Less in a technical sense but certainly in a spiritual, symbolic sense, the sword is crucial to aikido -- not because I say so, but because O-sensei said so. Take a look at suwariwaza kokyuho; that whole movement and the use of the arm can be likened to raising and striking with the sword as an analogy. In Saotome Sensei's class yesterday, he did all of the arts based on this; it's the sword mentality and the sword feeling. It would be interesting to ask Saotome Sensei how he perceives it. I know that he did some Yagyu-ryu sword training too. I remember him in 1973 with those red leather-covered fukuro shinai. I tend to think that he would have a similar viewpoint.

Ron Tisdale
08-18-2004, 03:41 PM
Oh, Invincible Warrior, THE reference book for all aikidoka! ;) ;) ;) ;)
Sz.(sorry Ron :) )

:D I have no problems with that.. ;)

I don't recommend training with John Stevens because of his books...I recommend training with him because of his AIKIDO. Some of his books appeal to me more than others. Some strike me more as the mythology of aikido more than the history of aikido.

When I want documented (footnoted) sources I look to Stanley Pranin and some few others. When I want acounts that were related but not necessarily attributed I look to Stevens Sensei's books. Frankly, I think too much is sometimes made of the fact that they aren't footnoted or documented like history text books. I see them as they are, and take them that way. That's part of the reason you don't see me quoting from them on the net...

Best,
Ron

Chris Li
08-18-2004, 03:45 PM
I just came accross an interview with Kazuo Chiba Sensei on the Aiki Journal website that made me remember this post. Toward the bottom of the page, the interviewer asks why Chiba started taking iaido lessons. Chiba then relates a story about a duel that O'Sensei faught against an iaido practioner, in place of Takeda. Chiba cites this story as the reason he decided to take up iaido practice (so as to be able to defend himself against an iaido attack). The story, as related by Chiba, came directly from O'Sensei while he was being interviewed by someone writing a book. The partial article can be found here:

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=121

Mike

Hmm, so that would mean that John Stevens' account was likely accurate - sarcasm from Szczepan aside...

Best,

Chris

Charles Hill
08-18-2004, 04:54 PM
Some strike me more as the mythology of aikido more than the history of aikido.

While I certainly agree with the heart behind Ron's response, I disagree with the wording. If the stories in J. Stevens' books are bunk, that is certainly not the fault of Prof. Stevens. And using words such as "invincible" and " the greatest warrior ever" may seem a bit much if there were not still video of M. Ueshiba around. When I see films of him throwing people without touching them and doing such things as holding a bokken out for several people to fail to push, I certainly wonder if it is fake. But the point is that it is either fake or not. Many of the people in the films are still alive. I think it is one thing if people criticise Prof. Stevens for believing the films and stories, but it is strange because many of the people criticizing are students of those who have passed on the stories or are in the films being knocked down by the wave of a hand (or are students of students.)

In Stanley Pranin's interview with K. Ueshiba re. Prof. Stevens' first biography, the Doshu refutes the firing squad story and questions its inclusion. However, in his own books, the Doshu often recounts the story of his father seeing flashes of light before the bullets flew, enabling him to dodge them. Also, I wonder how he would have answered if Mr. Pranin had correctly told the Doshu the source, that the firing squad story had come from Gozo Shioda.

As for Prof. Stevens not documenting sources, maybe my book is different from others, mine has a section in the back documenting sources that were not anonymously and orally told to Prof. Stevens. Aikido Journal has done the same thing in its pages. I believe that the work of John Stevens and Stanley Pranin complements very well. One is a practitioner and the other is a historian. The Aikido world would be poorer without either one.

Rant mode off. Big breath. Deep sigh. :)

Charles (Big fan of Invincible Warrior even if several of my photos weren't in it:)) Hill

Michael Young
08-18-2004, 04:59 PM
"Hmm, so that would mean that John Stevens' account was likely accurate - sarcasm from Szczepan aside..."

"" On occasion, Sokaku used Morihei as a stand-in to deal with some of the death threats he was constantly receiving, figuring, no doubt, that such practical hands-on experience would benefit his star student. Thus, Morihei was forced to square off against opponents who were intent on killing him. Details are sketchy but it appears that Morihei never responded in kind, and subdued the attackers without fatal result." Stevens, John. Invincible Warrior"

Just going from these two sources alone, I would not say that John Stevens' account is completely "accurate". In the interview with Chiba, he states that O'Sensei was standing in for Takeda because of Takeda's illness...not because Takeda wanted his star student to have "practical hands-on experience". I wouldn't deny the likely-hood that O'Sensei stood in for Takeda on other occasions, for reasons other than illness, but this isn't the reason given in Chiba's account. It is good food for thought though, and does suggest that at least Stevens wasn't just making up the story...of course inaccuracies in retelling stories is the basis for myth...thus I like the way Mr. Tisdale characterizes Stevens' books as more Aikido mythology than history. Of course I could just be splitting hairs:D . Another point to Chiba's story that I found interesting, was the description of O'Sensei's entering and striking before throwing his opponent...make of that what you will.

Mike
(leaves quickly before thread digresses to the "old atemi argument" :p )

Ron Tisdale
08-20-2004, 11:24 AM
Hi Mike,

Just call me Ron, Mr. Tisdale is my dad... :)

If the stories in J. Stevens' books are bunk, that is certainly not the fault of Prof. Stevens.

Hi Charles,
uuuhhhh, I never said the stories were bunk...just that many were not documented, and as such, function more as mythology than history. Because of that, and the associated controversies, I choose not to quote them in conversations relating to factual analysis. In my mind, we hold pretty much the same position on Stevens Sensei's books, from what you said. I do like his books (some more than others, like I said), and have more than a great deal of respect for the man. Perhaps it's the word 'mythology' which turns you off:


A body or collection of myths belonging to a people and addressing their origin, history, deities, ancestors, and heroes.
A body of myths associated with an event, individual, or institution: A new mythology, essential to the... American funeral rite, has grown up (Jessica Mitford).
The field of scholarship dealing with the systematic collection and study of myths.

I see nothing negative in these standard definitions. That shapes the way I use the word.

Best,
Ron

George S. Ledyard
08-20-2004, 11:53 AM
Saotome sensei was quite critical of the inclusion of the more radical stories in O-sensei's biography. An example would be the one about O-Sensei disappearing on re-appearing on the stairs behind everyone.

Saotome Sensei's response was that he had trained with O-Sensei consistently for fifteen years and had never seen this kind of "magic waza" as he called it. He felt that took away from the real accomplishment of the man which was miraculous enough without these stories.

Charles Hill
08-20-2004, 02:40 PM
Hi Ron,

Sorry. My diatribe was certainly not aimed at you. I agree, we probably hold the same opinion on the books. I also think your word, mythology, best describes the overall Aikikai approach toward the Founder. I also think that word is respectful. However, I think that some people take that word as a polite way of saying it's all B.S. (although it's clear that that is not your meaning)

As far as the magic stories, I would agree that adding them might be questionable, except that reading Invincible Warrior always makes me want to train, hard and often. As we both know Stevens Sensei, we can guess that this is exactly what he hopes the books encourage us to do.

Charles Hill

Don_Modesto
08-20-2004, 02:57 PM
Perhaps it's the word 'mythology' which turns you off:


Quote:
A body or collection of myths belonging to a people and addressing their origin, history, deities, ancestors, and heroes.
A body of myths associated with an event, individual, or institution: "A new mythology, essential to the... American funeral rite, has grown up" (Jessica Mitford).
The field of scholarship dealing with the systematic collection and study of myths.
UnQuote

I see nothing negative in these standard definitions. That shapes the way I use the word.

Thomas Green, editor of Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia, writes in another volume, this time on folklore, that many martial arts warmly embrace "folk history". Stevens came immediately to mind while reading the article.

[According to Green, fwiw, "folk history" involves cliches such as the founder studying animals to teach him/herself MA; fighting the good fight; dodging bullets (Green's example); and the idea that we're lucky today because in the old days, most of us wouldn't have even been allowed to train/the training was so much more brutal.]

Ron Tisdale
08-20-2004, 03:19 PM
:) Well, it was Gozo Shioda who told the dodging bullets story, and guessing from the Senshusei course, I probably couldn't even get through the hardest training TODAY let alone 'many years ago'...heck, even in judo I've heard tales of judoka kicking tires across fields to improve their ashi barai...

RT

Don_Modesto
08-20-2004, 03:24 PM
:) Well, it was Gozo Shioda who told the dodging bullets story

Yeah. That those dodging bullets stories came from Shioda always gave me pause. He was a pretty nuts and bolts sort of guy. Funny source for mythology.

Ron Tisdale
08-20-2004, 03:28 PM
I get the same feeling after doing 1000 sword cuts with Stevens Sensei... :)

Ron (and yes, I kind of set you up for that...)