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-   -   Controversy over Saito Sensei's Weapons Training (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1674)

Mike Haber 03-26-2002 09:23 AM

Controversy over Saito Sensei's Weapons Training
 
Because there is controversy over whether Saito created his aikiken and aikijo rather than getting this from O-sensei directly and that the aikiken and aikijo are not combative and have an artificially long maai and do not cut correctly, my question is has Saito Sensei EVER been challenged by a koryu sword or jo expert?

Andy 03-26-2002 10:23 AM

Challenged as in "Hey, you and me to that dirt field over there, bring your bokken"? Or challenged as in "I hold an 8th Dan in Jodo and Kenjutsu and think Saito's weapons are really crappy"?

Probably not the first but very likely the second.

powellca01 03-26-2002 12:28 PM

Saito Sensei lived with O'Sensei for 23 years, if anything Saito Sensei is the formost authority on the teachings of O'Sensei. I don't know where you heard this rumor but it is obviously rediculious.

Mike Haber 03-26-2002 01:29 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by powellca01
Saito Sensei lived with O'Sensei for 23 years, if anything Saito Sensei is the formost authority on the teachings of O'Sensei. I don't know where you heard this rumor but it is obviously rediculious.
There is talk from some in the aikikai that Saito created the weapons system that he teaches. Even a couple of people who trained in Iwama(Isoyama and Homma Senseis)have stated that Saito developed his system from the weapons that O-sensei was PLAYING around with in Iwama. There is belief that O-sensei never developed a weapon's system and that Saito Sensei developed his own system from what O-sensei was doing with weapons in Iwama.

Does anyone know if Saito Sensei has ever been tested by Koryu people before against his ken or jo to see if what he teaches is truely combative?

Hanna B 03-26-2002 01:45 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by Mike Haber

Does anyone know if Saito Sensei has ever been tested by Koryu people before against his ken or jo to see if what he teaches is truely combative?

Why should it be...? :confused:
It'w aiki-ken and aiki-jo...

Regards,
Hanna

powellca01 03-26-2002 02:15 PM

O'Sensei never taught weapons at Hombu Dojo, the instructors you speak of had to come up with their own weapons system. To say O'sensei was "Playing around" is again rediculious, people who have devoted there lives to the development of an art don't "play around". Saito Sensei lived with the founder, anthing that O'Sensei "played with" he used Saito Sensei as his ukei.

Mike Haber 03-26-2002 03:04 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by powellca01
O'Sensei never taught weapons at Hombu Dojo, the instructors you speak of had to come up with their own weapons system. To say O'sensei was "Playing around" is again rediculious, people who have devoted there lives to the development of an art don't "play around". Saito Sensei lived with the founder, anthing that O'Sensei "played with" he used Saito Sensei as his ukei.
Many Koryu experts criticize the aikiken and aikijo that Saito Sensei teaches, saying that real swordsmanship does not cut like that and that the aikiken uses an artificially long distance or maai.

Does anyone know if Saito has ever been challenged by a kenjutsu expert and how he fared?

Andy 03-26-2002 03:05 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by Hanna B
Why should it be...? :confused:
It'w aiki-ken and aiki-jo...

Exactly. Aiki-ken and aiki-jo are just tools to help your aikido.

O-Sensei didn't have any real formal background in the weapons arts. Comparing aiki-ken and aiki-jo with koryu weapons systems like some schools of kenjutsu and jodo each with hundreds of years of study is "rediculious".

Jon C Strauss 03-26-2002 03:07 PM

Howdy,

On more than one occasion Saito Sensei himself has admittied to being the one who formalized and refined the weapons systems that he teaches (read his interviews with Stanley Pranin).
I believe that he has also indicated that he only received weapons training from O-Sensei.
Hope this helps.

Peace,
JCS
RMKS at CSU

Erik 03-26-2002 04:09 PM

A little fuel for the fire.

http://web.cs.ualberta.ca/~mckellar/aiki/1999/11.html

Greg Jennings 03-26-2002 04:21 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by Erik
A little fuel for the fire.

http://web.cs.ualberta.ca/~mckellar/aiki/1999/11.html

And Meik again here on the opposite side of the argument...

http://koryu.com/library/mskoss3.html .

Best,

Chris Li 03-26-2002 04:52 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by Mike Haber
There is talk from some in the aikikai that Saito created the weapons system that he teaches. Even a couple of people who trained in Iwama(Isoyama and Homma Senseis)have stated that Saito developed his system from the weapons that O-sensei was PLAYING around with in Iwama. There is belief that O-sensei never developed a weapon's system and that Saito Sensei developed his own system from what O-sensei was doing with weapons in Iwama.

Well, M. Ueshiba wasn't much for organization or systemization (that's not necessarily bad, that was just his approach). After the war he spent a lot of time researching weapons on his own at Iwama - I suppose that you could call it "playing around" if you want, but why would you want to do that?

M. Saito has stated on many occasions that he organized and systemized his weapons system based on what he did with M. Ueshiba at Iwama. He was there for a long time, and I, for one, have no reason to believe that what he shows is not a pretty close representation of what M. Ueshiba did with weapons at Iwama after the war.

Quote:

Does anyone know if Saito Sensei has ever been tested by Koryu people before against his ken or jo to see if what he teaches is truely combative?
Hate to disappoint you, but most koryu people haven't been tested to see if what they teach is truly combative. A lot of that may be because the combative situation that they are training for hasn't existed for, in some cases, 400 years.

That being said, some koryu folks have a low opinion of what he does, some don't. Basically, the point of what he's doing is to improve his Aikido, and it seems to have done that fairly well.

Best,

Chris

Edward 03-26-2002 10:16 PM

Every body knows that AikiKen and Jo are just learning tools and could not possibly equal in efficiency and sophistication other specialized Japanese arts.

Tachidori and Jodori are a different story as I believe they are pure Aikido essence.

Whether Saito Sensei learned or adapted his Aikiken and Jo from Osensei or not is irrelevant, as these have been adopted and taught everywhere regardless of the style.

I have one request from the Iwama guys. There is no need to distribute accusations in a hostile way against Aikikai especially that I believe that your phobia is unfounded. I usually love to practice at Iwama-ryu dojos, but I am put off because I have to listen every time to lectures about who has the real Osensei Aikido, the Late Doshu or Saito Sensei.

Cheers,
Edward

guest1234 03-27-2002 04:47 AM

I have some personal observations on this, and want to make clcear they are NOT based in anyway on personal knowledge of Saito Sensei, what motivates him, etc.

Listening to him/seeing him speak at seminars, the big take home message I get is his deep love and respect for O Sensei. Although his words are through interpreters, so I cannot say for sure, it seems like he is not a complex man, and I believe he lived his entire life around Iwama, not attending a university. Aikido and O Sensei were his life, from early adulthood onward. Iwama folks, feel free to set me straight.

That said, I interpret the fervor of his 'exactly as the founder taught me' statements in light of what I see as his background, as opposed to some of the other Shihan, especially those from the univeristies. So Edward, I don't see either his, or the similarly repeated statements of his students, to reflect disdain for mainline Aikikai, but just the statements of someone who has built everything in his life around his love for O Sensei and his belief in his version of Aikido, as he interpreted it to be from the founder. Not everyone is able to perceive others see the same things through different eyes, and I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing. When I listen to Saito Sensei, I hear true filial devotion, and that is a great example for us I think.

As for his weapons, he portrays them as how the Founder taught him. I never heard him say it was a way to win sword battles. Simply that it was what O Sensei taught him, so in his love for that man he now teaches us. Because the founder thought it was important to show him, he feels it is important to show us.

Greg Jennings 03-27-2002 05:29 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by Edward
I usually love to practice at Iwama-ryu dojos, but I am put off because I have to listen every time to lectures about who has the real Osensei Aikido, the Late Doshu or Saito Sensei.
Maybe you're just visiting the wrong Iwama dojo. Every barrel has a bad apple or two.

It's usually from newbies or people with complexes. They have some need to feel they belong to "the one true way" or some such drivel.

What I've gotten from Saito Sensei is that he doesn't think what he's doing is "the only right way" or even just "better". He says "there are a lot of great teachers out there and you should train with as many as you can."

Colleen, you're right about Saito Sensei not having higher education. He worked his entire adult life for the Japanese National Railroad. That job is what let him both train like an uchi deshi in Iwama but also to keep it up till the Founder passed away. (maybe more accurately till the Founder was too ill to run things).

OTOH, for his time, he's something of a progressive thinker. Look into the birth of the old AANC and you'll see what I mean.

Also, I've was in attendance when Saito Sensei was meeting an old, personal friend in private. I was struck by what a _nice_ person he was.

Best Regards,

Edward 03-27-2002 07:01 AM

greg and Colleen,

I see your points. I myself have never had the privilege to see Saito Sensei in person, but I have several of his video tapes and I admire his style very much.

I also like training at Iwama-Ryu dojos whenever I get the opportunity because I feel it gives very good basics.

I disagree with Greg however about the bad apples. My experience with Iwama is actually with 2 really good teachers (5th and 4th dans). Apart from their too frequent allusions about how Kisshomaru Doshu usurped his father's style, and how Saito sensei kept Osensei's authentic style, they are wonderful and friendly people. The point is, they never mention any other aikido style such as Yoshinkan or Tomiki. They always start their sentences with something like: Unlike Aikikai, at Aikikai they do it this or that way, but this is not Osensei's way. We do it this or that way...etc. Or at aikikai they accuse us to do x or y...etc. So we seem to be the main rival for Iwama-Ryu :)

Cheers,
Edward

Paul Clark 03-27-2002 07:50 AM

I disagree with Greg however about the bad apples. My experience with Iwama is actually with 2 really good teachers (5th and 4th dans).

Edward,

Maybe this is a phenomenon found around SE Asia dojo? I've not found a similar problem at Iwama dojo in the US.

Paul

Greg Jennings 03-27-2002 07:50 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by Edward
I disagree with Greg however about <SNIP>
Maybe it's a regional thing. The prevailing atmosphere in my neck of the woods is one of acceptance.

I can only speak for my own dojo, but neither my instructor nor I would ever allow any "dissing" of any instructor in our dojo.

Best,

Greg Jennings 03-27-2002 07:54 AM

Hi Paul,

Sorry for "dittoing". We were evidently composing replies at the same time.

Synchronicity is an amazing thing.

Best,

Edward 03-27-2002 08:20 AM

Unfortunately, there are no Iwama style dojos in SE Asia that I know of. The closest are in Australia.

The dojos I mentioned earlier are in Europe.

It's good to hear that things are different in the US.

Cheers,
Edward

akiy 03-27-2002 08:48 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by ca
Listening to him/seeing him speak at seminars, the big take home message I get is his deep love and respect for O Sensei. Although his words are through interpreters, so I cannot say for sure, it seems like he is not a complex man, and I believe he lived his entire life around Iwama, not attending a university. Aikido and O Sensei were his life, from early adulthood onward. Iwama folks, feel free to set me straight.
I'n not an "Iwama" folk, but I'll say that listening to him speak in Japanese at the only seminar of his I've gone to (a few years back in Denver), he came across as a very sincere man who wants to keep transmitting what he learned from the founder in an intact form.

Although I've heard stories of him saying things like, "What they do in Tokyo is wrong," he didn't say anything of the sort at the seminar I attended. Rather, he said that "ki no nagare" (which can be loosely translated as "flowing techniques") was usually not taught at Iwama until students were at least third dan, but he noticed that a lot of the teachers in Tokyo did so. In keeping up with these kinds of "newer" methods of teaching, Saito sensei said that he was introducing working with more flowing techniques with his beginning students.

Any way, if you're interested, my review of the seminar with Saito sensei I attended is here:

http://www.aikiweb.com/about/seminars/saito0999.html

-- Jun

Hanna B 03-27-2002 09:54 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by Edward
The dojos I mentioned earlier are in Europe.

It's good to hear that things are different in the US.

Iwama aikido is a concept which somes in a few local flavours.


Quote:

]Originally posted by akiy
Although I've heard stories of him saying things like, "What they do in Tokyo is wrong," he didn't say anything of the sort at the seminar I attended.

"This is how they do in Tokyo. This is wrong." In Copenhagen about two-three years ago. He also said, however, that Iwama is a part of Aikikai which probably chocked some of the participants.

Regards,
Hanna

Paul Clark 03-27-2002 11:04 AM

Greg,

No problem, I was pretty sure you'd get to it pretty quick even if I didn't. Great (or small, in our cases) minds think alike.

Best regards
Paul

Dan Hover 03-27-2002 03:51 PM

Well to answer the original question, No, Saito has never had to answer in the form of a duel. Although conversely niether has anyone else for that matter, as largely most instructors are above "biggest kid on the block mentality" Now insofar as Osensei and the Kashima Ryu, Skoss is right, Osensei's name does appear on the schools scrolls, he paid for that right and had a Kashima practioner come to the kobukan and teach where Osensei, watched practice or had his son participate and show him later. This is not to dedgrade Osensei, put yourself in his shoes, a master in his own right having to take lessons from someone who a)may be good technically but by not being the head of the system is still somewhat ranked lower than Ueshiba and b) Someone as high ranking Skillwise would probably not be in the same "class" of students as the others studying the Kashima ryu at Kobukan.
Now Saito OTOH took what Osensei addressed and categorized them by his definions, although if you compare Iwama ryu's Kumitachi and the 1st kumitachi of Kashima they are essentially identical. Now does this make Saito or Osensei bad?? No. Look at most top level shihans in the aiki world today, most of their weapons stuff is essentially made up. ASU's and AAA's Kumi jo are essentially the same as Iwama. (although Saito himself changed the forms between 1974 and 1993. Now in both those federations they have similiar swordwork, principlewise but form Saotome "takes" form Yagyu shinkage ryu especially his whole concept of "Marubashi". Toyoda in the AAA largely has borrowed Iwama's kumitachi and has either modified himself or it has been modified by his senior students. Kanai's Iaido as well as Nishio's iaido are esentially their own creation as well. Now this in no way belittles their accomplishments or influence it merely stresses how they feel the need to stress certain principles of Aiki through weapons work. Aikido people are essentially practicing a Modern Martial art, NOT a classical ryu in any sense. We should remember that what we train in is not there to teach us battlefield techniques but morever the principles of Aiki, this was Osensei's wish. Not the mundane overscrutinization of lineage and minutae.


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