Christopher Li wrote:
I have to say that I can't think of a single US city that has even a tenth of the number of high ranking Aikido instructors that you would find in Tokyo - and that doesn't take into account the many other martial traditions you can dabble in there. Of course, many (most) skilled instructors in Tokyo are just unknown in the US - that doesn't mean that they aren't there. It goes the other way too - ask the average Japanese Aikido student in Tokyo who Yamada, Chiba, Kanai, or Saotome is and you're liable to just get a blank look.
I know you have trained very widely... you certainly have direct experience with the teachers in the States with whom I am familiar. If you and Peter G. tell me that there is training availabale in Japan which is as good or better than anything we have here, I will bow to your superior knowledge. I simply haven't seen it. I am familiar with what is happening at the Aikikai Honbu dojo. Shingu couldn't resolve the succession question effectively after Hikitsuchi sensei died and lacks coherent direction. Kobayashi Sensei seems to have gone more for quantity over quality...
If there are some great Aikido teachers who are as yet undiscovered by the wider Aikido public, let's get them out in front! Get Stan to invite them to the Expo. I am sure ready to train with them and support them. But I would say that I am probably more familiar with the various of prominent instructors in Japan than the average Japanese practitioner would be of the prominent overseas instructors,,, In most cases I don't see the range from these people which I expect from the best teachers here. There's generally a dearth of weapons training, little emphasis on applied technique or non-conventional attacks, etc.
I'd be glad if I am wrong about what I see happening to Aikido in Japan. At Rocky Mountain Summer camp two summers ago Stan Pranin asked in a public discussion whether it was time for American teachers of the art to "give something back" to Japan as the source for the art which we all do. I asked him whether there was the least evidence that the Japanese would be interested in what their American counterparts are doing. I don't think so. I believe that they see this as a one way street, flowing from the homeland to the rest of us. Hitohiro Saito can journey to the Expo alright but he told his students not to train with any of the other teachers...
Anyway, feel free to share with us the names of any teachers you think are really hot; i'll keep an eye out for them in the future. Teachers like Ushiro Sensei and Kuroda Sensei have changed my Aikido. If they have any Aikido equivalents I'd love to see them.