Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan
In reference to Charles Hill's last post:
I have rarely trained with Endo Shihan, but I have trained often with Yamaguchi Sensei and ever since he died, I have been struggling to incorporate insights, whatever, gained from this training into my own aikido 'life'.
All of the three shihans recommended to me by Chiba Sensei have a distinctive way of presenting the insights they gained from their own training with O Sensei. And I think these are individual insights: they are not the whole content of what O Sensei showed (for he never 'taught'), which we neeed to remember and ponder about, when we talk about training, demonstrations, and teaching methods etc.
So, Yamaguchi never trained quite like Arikawa and Arikawa never trained quite like Tada, who never trained quite like Yamaguchi, and so on. Similarly with Shioda, whom I never met, with Shirata, with whom I trained only once, and with Saito, with whom I trained several times, but only at seminars and gasshuku. These trainings were intensive 'hypershots', that perhaps yielded different insights from the experience of daily training in the 'home' dojo.
Yamaguchi Sensei never told anybody how he wanted them to take ukemi. If you took ukemi in the way he liked, he would ask you again and again. If you didn't, he wouldn't. Once in the Hombu, I, from the boondocks of Hiroshima and a gaijin to boot, was so pleased to take ukemi from Yamaguchi Sensei, who called me up rather than the Hombu regulars.
But in Hiroshima, Yamaguchi Sensei was freer to do what he wanted and there were prolonged periods of a certain kind of randori, where he would call you up and have you 'attack' him repeatedly, over a period of five-ten minutes or so. The privately-circulated Meiji University tape offers something of what he used to do and perhaps Saotome Sensei (I have never trained with him) and certainly William Gleason (ditto, but have tapes from seminars he gave in Brazil) give some flavor of this kind of training. But, actually, I have never seen this on tapes which are publicly available.
Now, and this is where Stephane's (Szczepan)'s observations come in, the parameters, the 'frames' of the encounters were different with Yamaguchi and Chiba and also with the shinans I have mentioned, also including Hiroshi Isoyama. I think one of the fundamental features of Yamaguchi Sensei's aikido (and Endo Sensei's to the extent that I have seen him) is that he breaks down the accepted frames of the uke-tori relationship. Of course, with Yamaguchi, you are always uke: these ground rules do not change, but, as uke, the parameters within which you discharge your role change.
With virtually everybody except Yamaguchi Sensei, the traditional perimeters of each waza are resepcted. As uke, you attack (and Stephane's remarks are highly relevlant here) and deploy all the resources of which you are capable as uke (including dishonesty and deceit, but also knowing full well that it might cost you dearly). With Yamaguchi Sensei you do not usually have this option and I think this is why there are Believers, Atheists and bewildered Agnostics.
Actually, in Hiroshima University I have occasionally attempted to practise Yamaguchi Sensei's type of training and my student uke litterally 'ran way'. Actually, I chased him round the mat, but he wanted the 'space' to get up and prepare himself to 'attack' again. Yamaguchi Sensei gave you this option only occasionally. I have never seen this type of training with any other shihan except Isoyama at the All-Japan Demonstration, but he always repeated the same waza (usually kote-gaeshi). There was none of the seamless flow from one waza to another that Yamaguchi Sensei was famous for. Now in the UK, Chiba Sensei often did a similar type of training with his yudansha: the type of training that in Japanese universities is called 'kakari-geiko', but this was quite different from what Yamaguchi Sensei was doing.
Of course, you have to attack 'hard', but if you didn't know where the waza ended and the 'attack' began, this became more difficult.
How is all this relevant to Endo Sensei? Well, there are Yamaguchi 'believers' scattered all over Japan and, outside the Hombu, Takeda (in Kamakura), Nakao (in Kobe) are two clear exponents. My own teacher in Hiroshima is a Yamaguchi 'believer', but he also 'believes' in Arikawa and Tada. So the result is somewhat different.
Another corollary are the issues raised by Mike Sigman and Robert John & Gernot Hassenpflug, both of whom regularly train with Akuzawa Sensei.
Best wishes to all,