Thread: Budo, Bushido
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Old 01-07-2006, 06:49 PM   #21
Dojo: Messores Sensei (Largo, Fl.)
Location: Florida
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 1,267
Re: Budo, Bushido

George S. Ledyard wrote:
O-Sensei....It is my belief that it was the Japanese defeat in WWII that changed his thinking although there are indicators that he didn't agree with the path the Right wing militarists from earlier on.
Tough call. I'd like to think so. There's evidence for it, if vague (reservations in parantheses):

* He wrote of "monofu no michi, an old term for warriors code, instead of "bushido", a concept tainted by militarist indoctrination and exploitation of romatic values;

* He did absent himself (but in 1942, kind of late, no?)

* His guru, Deguchi, wrote excoriating things about the rightists in Japan (but out of jealousy of their power; he was an enthusiastic proponent of the right when it served his ambitions);

* (Osensei's prose in the 30's uses many catch phrases of the militarists.)

* He wrote of "harmony" (but Jpn the political idiom at the time in general, and Osensei's mystical language in particular, was procrustean--one size fits all. As historian John Dower noted, what the Jpn said about their fascist intentions during the war could be used without modification during their conversion to the newfound religion of "demakurashi". Harmony meant, without blush, thought police bursting into the home of dissident academics in the middle of the night and beating them to death with staves. DERU KUGI WA UTARERU.)

* (Deguchi offered his services as bodyguard to Colonel Hashimoto, a war criminal executed by GHQ.)

It is absolutely true that he counted a large number of extreme right leaders as friends. Also typical Japanese fashion, when there was dis-agreement he absented himself in Iwama rather than have a direct conflict and falling out with these people.
He also absented himself from his guru's side during the Second Omoto Incident and retired to Iwama during the Occupation leaving his young son to nurture aikido right under the noses of GHQ.

We default to "discretion" or "disagreement" in consideration of Osensei's accomplishments, but a disinterested party (and in the grand scheme of things, aikido isn't really important enough to have disinterested parties) might be more inclined to think in terms of fear.

In O-Sensei's case I believe that his take on this was always more benevolent than what many of the militarists took. I think he saw the Kannagara no Michi giving the Yamaato Daishi a unique character which made the Japanese special. I don't think that meant he saw the Japanese as superior and therefore it was ok to kill or enslave the peoples of the other countries in Asia... But there is no doubt he was friends with folks who took the idea of their superiority to that extreme.
I want to believe this, but the conflicting evidence leaves me on the fence.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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