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Old 05-08-2005, 05:42 PM   #3
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
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Re: Tomiki and the Theory of Aikido

Efe Yucemen wrote:

My comment is that it seems, at least to me that Kenji Tomiki's work on understanding aikido as a physical activity and laying out certain aspects in a rational/scientific manner (ala Kano and Judo) have been totally disregarded or forgotten by the broader Aikido world.

I currently train at an Aikikai dojo here in London, but have also experienced training at a Tomiki dojo and am well aware of the differences. I can understand why people might find the idea of competition unpalatable, (and just to avoid that old chestnut I think that you can have "realistic" training w/o explicit randori/shiai ) but I don't understand why the hard work and thought of such an early and important exponent of the art is left outside of the general body of knowledge.

I can only hazard to say that not only is there some political stigma attached to his thoughts/works, but there is a general aversion to an explanation or interpretation of aikido which is non-mystical, dry and scientific. Would you agree?

kind regards
Well, when I lived in the UK, I, too, trained in for a couple of years a Tomiki dojo and an Aikikai dojo in parallel. I even went to courses in London given by Yamada Senta Sensei. The Aikikai club was run by a Japanese and most of the explanations were in Japanese: to talk of anything mystical would have been wasted breath. Most of the explanations were very direct ("Hit him!" = atemi; "Put him down!" = throw; "No strength"). The next Aikikai teacher I had was K Chiba, who is not known for mysticism in his training and teaching. (Actually, I think you can find a club in London run by his senior students.) I gave up Tomiki training because there was no dojo or teacher within convenient access, not because of any political issues.

I think you base your judgment on too narrow a range of evidence. One of the best discussions of budo I have ever read is K Tomiki's "Budo-Ron", published in Japanese by Taishukan, and I say this as someone who has trained with the Aikikai for over 30 years. Tomiki Sensei starts with the question "Budo to wa nanika?" (the concept of budo) and then discusses related questions in turn: (1) budo and modern concepts; (2) the concept of judo; (3) aikido, [where he goes into the whole question of aikido and competition--and for those who know Japanese, the term he uses here is 'kyousou', not 'shiai]'; (4) education and the body. There is nothing quite like it in the Aikikai.

The only books that comes close are two works by Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba: "The Spirit of Aikido" and "The Art of Aikido", both, like Tomiki Sensei's book, were originally written in Japanese. I have occasionally posted translated bits of "Budo-Ron" on the Internet, but I do not know if Prof Shishida, who edited the work, plans to make an English translation. He ought to.

So, I disagree that Prof Tomiki's work is "left outside of the general body of knowledge". "Aikido Kyoushitsu" (translated as Aikido: Tradition and the Competitive Edge) is a text, also published by Taishukan. Along with "Budo-Ron" It is one of many available in bookstores all over Japan. It might be used as a teaching text in Shodokan dojos, but I would be surprised if this was extensive: my own experience here suggests to me that teaching texts do not seem to figure very much in dojos.

I also disagree with the reverse of your suggestion: that "a general aversion to an explanation or interpretation of aikido which is non-mystical, dry and scientific" is common in the Aikikai. Of course, there are teachers who do this, but there are many more who do not. The Aikikai is an organization, rather than a style of training. At least this has been my experience.

Best regards,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 05-08-2005 at 05:45 PM.

P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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