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Ellis Amdur who wrote the column apparently didn't like me mentioning his inexperience. I thought it was the only explanation for the huge discrepancy in his account and in mine. His column suggested that Arikawa Sensei set out deliberately to injure people. This did not match my many years of experience training with him. I thought it was a disservice to aikido history and to the memory of one of the truly great aikido teachers. There were a couple of other points about ukemi and about zanshin that were incorrect.
So the obvious conclusion was that Ellis, who probably had a white belt at the time, did not really have the eyes or the body to know what was really going on. That is not being disrespectful to Ellis. It is a completely normal and objective point. When I had a white belt I am sure I would have been unable to recognize most of what was going on with any teacher. But I would have liked it if Ellis had made the point himself so that the column could be judged in its full context. And I also would have preferred it if he had not asked for my comment to be removed. It seems to me that searching for the truth is one of the main reasons for doing any budo.
It's in Lu Ji's Wen Fu, fourth century
A.D. "Essay on Literature" - in the
Preface: "In making the handle of an axe
By cutting wood with an axe
The model is indeed near at hand. -
My teacher Shih-hsiang Chen
Translated that and taught it years ago
And I see: Pound was an axe,
Chen was an axe, I am an axe
And my son a handle, soon
To be shaping again, model
Gary Snyder, Axe Handles
Myself was formed - a Carpenter -
An unpretending time
My Plane - and I, together wrought
Before a Builder came
Emily Dickinson, Myself Was Formed - A Carpenter
He that sees a Sail first, shall have the best Pistol or Small Arm aboard of her.
The pirate code of Captain Edward Low, Article VIII
When you're a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you're not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You'll know it's there, so you're going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.
Steve Jobs, interview in Playboy, 1985
A saw seems like a simple tool. But there are a lot of complicated questions. What is the best angle for the rake of the teeth? How many teeth should there be? How much should the teeth splay out to the sides? That's called the kerf. Is the sawdust removed efficiently? There is a whole specialized technical vocabulary. That's like the martial
A guy riding a bicycle in Tokyo on a sidewalk - where you're not supposed to ride bicycles - went hard for a gap just wide enough for one person. He didn't care if he ran me down. He was trying to force me to jump back and out of the way. There was nowhere to escape to the sides because of a wall on one side and something blocking the outside part of the sidewalk.
I did an irimi - entering - movement. I got off the line of the bicycle just enough so that it didn't hit me. And with a spearhand to his throat I got him to brake sharply. It was that or go flying. By the way judging by a recent forum discussion about irimi it seems a lot of people don't understand the principle of irimi in aikido very well yet. I live the way I train and I train the way I live. So I ended up with no injury. If you try to do aikido without moving your body off the line of an attack you will end up with lacerations and bruises and possibly broken bones... Well good luck with that.
On the surface this was a great result. There was a dangerous situation caused by selfish and aggressive behaviour. I altered the dynamics. I didn't get hurt. Noone else got hurt. The aggressive guy didn't get hurt. He realized that he couldn't bully his way through the situation. It proved that aikido movements were effective in the real world. I didn't have time to think about a respons
A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn't catch up to him,
the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.
What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.
Naomi Shihab Nye, The Rider
If you want to get from A to B
I'll give you this advice for free:
You'll find that cycling in the snow
Is not the quickest way to go.
Colin McNaughton, Slow, Slow, Thick, Thick Snow, from There's An Awful Lot of Weirdos in Our Neighborhood
that will return to
when it's needed
Pablo Neruda, Ode to Bicycles
Consider a man riding a bicycle. Whoever he is, we can say three things about him. We know he got on the bicycle and started to move. We know that at some point he will stop and get off. Most important of all, we know that if at any point between the beginning and the end of his journey he stops moving and does not get off the bicycle he will fall off it. That is a metaphor for the journey through life of any living thing, and I think of any society of living things.
Wiliam Golding, A Moving Target
Is this it? The secret of balance in the martial arts? Children in Japan nonchalantly ride unicycles in the street like normal bicycles. Japanese elementary schools have racks of unicycles. So children have great balance. Balance in aikido and judo and karate and sumo probably doesn't seem so difficult.