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Old 04-23-2005, 11:15 PM   #101
sanskara's Avatar
Location: Austin, TX
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 52
Re: Shioda, Tohei, and Ki Things

Mike Sigman wrote:
If you read Stanley Pranin's four-part interview with Tohei, you'll find Tohei saying:

"When I went to Hawaii and tried to use the techniques I had learned form Ueshiba Sensei, I found that many of them were ineffective. What Sensei said and what he did were two different things. (snip)... when I returned to Japan and had another look at Ueshiba Sensei, I realized that he did indeed apply his techniques from a very relaxed state.

Tohei learned much about relaxation prior to going to Hawaii in 1953. The changes he made to Aikido were primarily to technique, and involved accomodating taller opponents. The alterations were made on the spot, which is why most (if not all) who were in Hawaii at the time attest to Tohei's effectiveness on his first trip to the U.S. So it's not as if he failed, went home, and then re-evaluated. He also says that he believed originally he had discovered new ways to do these techniques until he revisited Ueshiba and found that he also sometimes practiced this way (nothing new under the sun, and all that.)

It's easy to misunderstand this if one's knowledge on such things comes primarily from interviews on the Internet--not being pejorative here, mind you, just saying a lot of this won't carry over well in brief text.

While I was with Ueshiba Sensei I was also studying under Tempu Nakamura. It was he who first taught me that "the mind moves the body." Those words struck me like a bolt of electricity and opened my eyes to the whole realm of aikido. "
Yes, but that doesn't represent all that defines Tohei. A little legwork might be in order. It's very clear from his own words and those of his top students that he was actively involved in Ki development prior to even meeting Ueshiba. That he acquired something of value from Tempu Sensei is unquestionable, but doesn't support your basic thesis.

Tohei himself says that his understanding originates with the teachings of Nakamura.
Actually, he's never explicity said that he owes it all to Tempu. He might credit some ideas and exercises to the Tempukai, but he is very emphatic (especially in now out of print versions of his books) that his methods are his and are drawn from teachers, like Ueshiba and Nakamura, as well as his own experiences. Much emphasis is placed on the latter.

Having read some of your strange ideas in private email (and that's why I quit responding), I don't think you have much idea about what Tohei does, so I'm not sure what your point is in reinforcing something I've already said in public. I'm not sure you understand.
I have no idea what you're referring to here. I can dig up those old e-mails out of the recycling bin and sent folder and post them, if need be. We had some friendly disagreement about things (nothing heated,) but if I have controversial or weird views on Ki, you'll have to point them out--it's news to me and those who have followed my postings for years on Aikido Journal. As for understanding Tohei and his teachings, I understand that slamming me after my last post seems like the order of the day, but I'm not sure you're in a good position to judge my knowledge of Tohei's teachings either way, no matter what I say here.

The discussions about ki, kokyu, qi, jin, etc., etc., are sustainable as a discussion outside of any "martial preferences". That's the way I'm discussing them, not as tied to any martial system. And what I do is more properly a "field of study", not a "path".
Well, research is one thing, talking down to anyone who disagrees with you is quite another. You may not feel guilty of the latter, but if potential sources of info think so, it seriously hamstrings your investigation.

I realize you have the belief that ki and kokyu things are different than the way I've discussed them...
Actually, I don't necessarily disagree with your views on Ki or Kokyu. I disagree with the way you make large sweeping judgments about Aikido and some of its pioneers. I think you oversimplify and insist that this and that person must be doing this and that exercise because you've watched a video and decided it's so. It may or may not be so. Go and find out. Trying to figure things out from behind a desk is preferred to hard work (I'd much rather do that if the option is available), but is not the way to learn about martial arts.

all you have to do is engage in the discussion and show me where you think I'm wrong or debate what you think you know,
I think I've done just that, and you've replied to me much the way you have to everyone who's disagreed with you. And it represents a perspective that is in direct contradiction with the pretense of gathering information and investigating the facts.

instead of simply posting what you think are my thoughts and motives and being insulting in doing so. If there's a point in the ki and kokyu things that you disagree with (as you did in private email), why not just lay them out in this forum and let's play it from there? Or do you feel that it's easier to take a cheap shot than debate honestly?
In our e-mails I thought you were overly concerned with Chinese practices and the implication that the Japanese somehow just don't get it. That may not be the case, but that's the impression I had. My response in e-mail was similar to my style here: rational, reasonably reserved, relatively intelligent--don't know about cheap shots or overt weirdness.

But given your past discussions with members of this forum, it seems to be a pattern that whenever anyone says anything about Ki that's different than what you believe, you mark them as being somehow outside of the confines of current Asian practice and ideology (as if you were the sole litmus test.) Perhaps, this is a means of not so surreptitiously saying they're some sort of whack job econoclastic individualist, with little regard for convention, and should be ignored thusly.

Insofar as my motives for being on this forum, etc., trust me I won't be here a bit longer than when I'm certain I can't get any more information along the lines that I've publicly mentioned, James.
Don't leave on my account. I'm not looking to chase you out of Dodge. As I said in our e-mails, your initial responses and perspective in the women and Aikido thread were pretty spot on--it kind of degraded after that. Either way, do what you want.

You may worry that you're not being recognized for your true value,
Not sure where you're getting that from, unless it's the old "same to you and more of it" defense. My actions, limited though they may be on this forum, don't exactly scream that I'm looking for positive attention. Also, as a non-Aikidoka, my contributions to this forum can easily be dismissed as irrelevant by those looking for a reason to do so. Consequently, my "value" might be better appreciated elsewhere, if I had that in mind.

Incidentally, I asked you before and you didn't answer... did you study with Tohei personally?
Well, I didn't really dodge the question (I did ask you to call if you wanted more info about Tohei's teachings in the 70's and 80's, which is what you seemed to be after.) Although it isn't lost on me that the potential for a circumstantial ad hominem waits in the wings. I'll play anyway:

I've never met Tohei. When I was actively part of the Ki Society in the 80's and early 90's, spanning almost fifteen years (twelve full-time), meeting him was not a big deal. I had access to the likes of Shiohira, Kataoka, Eto, Nonaka, Shoji, Suzuki, Maruyama (Koretoshi), Kashiwaya, and many more, who spent the better part of their lives with Tohei. I spent the better part of my free time training with such talent, everytime the door was open (as a matter of fact), but money to fly to Japan as a teenager, I did not have.

Ultimately, such an endeavor would have been expensive and less fruitful than one on one extended experience with some of the aforementioned individuals, who are talented in their own right, access to Tohei notwithstanding.--I opted to train rather than add to my scrapbook. Current uchi deshi at Ki no Sato have very limited access, if any, to Tohei; it was not so different a few years ago before his "retirement." Additionally, while attending a seminar with hundreds of others, that included Tohei, might have made for bragging rights, it wouldn't necessarily equal competency.

For what it's worth, I know plenty of people who have gone to a seminar, shaken hands with Tohei (which is about the extent of contact these days, if you're lucky,) and their Aikido isn't very good. I also know plenty who have strong Shin Shin Toitsu and Kokyu but have never met the man--you might be in that category for all I know. So take from that what you will.

In my more active Aikido years, I personally took great interest in what Tohei was teaching in his prime and spent considerable time prying information out of the old school practitioners who were there, for example, when Tohei defeated seven Judoka in Hawaii. Many are now dead or have moved on to other things.

Naturally, it's just my word, but If you poke around the Ki Society you can probably find a few people who were around when I was and if nothing else, can vouch for my presence, abilities, and understanding of Tohei's principles. I could have just as easily lied about it and no one would have known the difference. In fact, that would have been easier, as mentioned previously, who would be around to contradict me?

Last edited by sanskara : 04-23-2005 at 11:28 PM.

James Bostwick
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