Founder's Legacy, some thoughts
The Founder's essential gift to us, was to introduce us to the endless possibilities that exist in the Aiki Universe. By his very example, he invited, inspired and cajoled us into thinking, feeling and acting beyond the confines of our previous ways of self perception. It was never his mandate that we HAD to study his take on Aiki. Rather, he made it irresistible to explore the myriad benefits of its overall study, for purposes solely our own. He truly understood how vast the universe of Aiki's potential truly is, and avoided demanding that his students study it his way alone. He was the pioneer who showed the way.
The Founder ultimately left it up to the individual seeker to gauge his or her own progress, develop a personal agenda for growth, and to strike out on his own when the timing became critical.
Gleaning as much as they could from training under his guidance and inspiration, those fortunate few who learned at the Founder's hand, were fully expected to take complete ownership of their craft, their ambition and their belief in themselves, and to construct what would ultimately be their very own brand of Aikido.
Until the very end of his life, he humbly, passionately, and correctly reminded all who would listen, that his was a personal search, and not one to be mindlessly duplicated or strictly copied in any way. He was believed to say that " after me, Aikido is no more.". He did not mean, to my thinking, that the marvelous insights, revelations and discoveries he engineered would vanish. What he surely meant was that now, it was the opportunity for his son, Ueshiba Kisshomaru, along with his seasoned, inspired, and talented students , to continue to create even more examples of true "Aikido" from their studies of "Aiki". His was a commencement statement.
He did not specify, nor did he need to, how such creation should take place.
The future giants of Aikido were already performing their due diligence, and incorporating their distinctive discoveries with the lessons they received personally from the Founder. Names like Mochizuki, Shioda, Tomiki, Tohei, Saito, Nishio, Yamaguchi, Shirata, Hikitsuchi etc. etc. are amongst the illustrious many to be discovered through diligent and honest research.
O'Sensei's Aikido is not a finished product by any stretch of the imagination. It was never meant to be, inasmuch as there is simply way too much material to digest, even for a generation. His fiery ambition and burning curiosity were legend, finding him constantly devouring study materials, ancient texts, communication with learned men of his time, and exercising the superhuman discipline of his daily training mentality. Prior to his passing, he was heard to lament that he was still only at the first stages of his training, understanding and appreciation of the study of Aiki, hoping that others would carry on the indefinite, but rewarding work of spreading the mission of Aiki that he started.
The Founder's Aikido has existed for only 70 plus years, and is naturally experiencing the "growing pains" attendant to such a new branch of martial, and intensely spiritual study. Contrasting such a beginning to the histories of those philosophical and spiritual organizations and systems in existence for centuries, a bit of patience and good will is in order here.
No doubt, to undertake the serious study of Aiki, not to include the very study of the Founder's creation of his Aikido, is most difficult. The life work of the Founder gives ample examples of the trials, tribulations, setbacks, frustrations and a few dead ends encountered on his journey. Yet, he persevered, doggedly pushing himself ever forward from triumph to triumph, through the boggy terrain of shugyo, and stubborn tenacity. He willed himself to reach for and achieve what he got, yet remaining ever dissatisfied with his results, remaining hungry for even more. This is what helped drive his genius, and thus provided the foundation for the legacy we enjoy today.
Most of us enjoy the simple, yet rewarding luxury of having a clean, and fun dojo to train in. Some of us even aspire to grow in our "shidoo geiko" phase, to train via the teaching of others. Then there are those precocious few, who dare to emulate the example, not only of the Founder, but of all past and present geniuses, who willingly pay with their lives, the price of reaching for that much more.
Whatever level we choose to follow, we all have that identity in common, of appreciating the legacy of the Founder's vision, and to share in the value and unique benefits of his core beliefs and teachings.
We can best fulfill any obligation we may feel to the Founder, and to the late Doshu, by exploring ways to train together more frequently, to "raise the bar" in developing the next generation of instructors, and to set ever higher examples of how the Founder's Aikido may benefit ourselves, our students, and the world we live in.
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