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Old 12-04-2006, 02:05 AM   #411
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Ellis Amdur wrote:
I can't stand it. Erick - Ueshiba never got a menkyo in Yagyu Shinkage-ryu. He got one (a mid-level) after a few years studies in Yagyu Shingan-ryu, which doesn't have the muto principle whatsoever.
I'll certainly defer on that since I hardly have any claim to the biographical detail on that score. Older sources reported it as kaiden, some discussions in the last few years have had it uncertainly as shoden. It was my understanding that it is the sword school in which he attained highest honors, whether he reached kaiden or not, and a debate that I had not seen resolved. Although, on your authority I'll assume it so.
Ellis Amdur wrote:
I'm only jumping in because whatever the rest of your argument - which I'll honestly say I cannot understand - you are not factually supported in citing Yagyu Shinkage-ryu as a significant influence on Ueshiba's aikido.
He surely studied Yagyu, well as several others, although what relative emphasis the others had on the jujutsu or sword elements I certainly cannot say. It doesn't make a bit of difference to my observation that the overemphasis on the Daito ryu aspect in this discussion on natural movement, where some have strongly argued regarding Daito-ryu and importing Chinese jin concepts of rooting and neutralizing should or do define the learning of "natural" aikido movement.

There is no debate that Daito-ryu techniques are translated into aikido. My contention is that in discussing principles of movement or approaches to how technique is selected or adapted, we are speaking of heiho, strategic questions. That is where aikido distinguishes itself, in my mind. Not in particular tactical application.

The contention against the Daito influence on this point (of adaptive movement) and the primacy of kenjutsu in the revelation of Aikido to him is reported from O Sensei's own mouth. When asked about the origin of aikido he said that Aikido was not revealed to him by Takeda's Daito ryu training, which he specifically disclaimed. Instead, he said that
O Sensei wrote:
The form of Budo must be love. One should live in love. This is Aikido and this is the old form of the posture in Kenjitsu.

Some school of kenjutsu is referred to, the question being, which one?

My extension of this statement to Yagyu has substantial internal support in O Sensei's statement itself. Apart from "kenjutsu" he refers to it as the "old form." Yagyu was senior in service to the Tokugawa Shogunate, adopted in the reign of Iieyasu; Ono-ha Itto-ryu came in with the second Tokugawa shogun. It would have been correct to refer to Yagyu, as distinguished from Ono-ha Itto- ryu, in this way.

Takeda is reputed to have been taught Ono-ha Itto-ryu kenjutsu, with whose doctrines I am unfamiliar. If it has demonstrable connections closer than those laid out here for Yagyu in terms of its strategic principles and those of aikido, I will gladly defer on that point as well, and will have learned something into the bargain.

"Budo as love" and the Yagyu doctrine of katsujinken "life giving sword" are a close fit. Similarly, the "posture in kenjitsu" in the Yagyu katsujinken doctrine was founded on shuji shuriken, an esoteric concept described cryptically in the Heiho Kaden. Munenori's text describes shuji shuriken as joining "being" in the upward palm, and "non-being" in the downward palm in to one. This describes the the in/yo joining of the juji + figure.

There is also a Doka of O Sensei's with that very image of taking "in" in the left hand and "yo" in the right hand. This is tenchinage. While Daito-ryu has a version of this technique they call it aikinage -- the tenchi Heaven/Earth image of the technique name is only in aikido and is directly related to the juji + in/yo figure.

According the annotations, Yagyu Mitsuyoshi explained the secret doctrine of shuji shuriken as learning an enemy's mind from the cross-wise block, i.e -- juji +, That is very likely the "Cross of Aiki" as O Sensei wrote in several of the Doka that I already laid out above. Also as I discussed above, he referred to his art in a Doka as "jujido."

As to my presumption that he got mu-to training whether legitimately (assuming the menkyo debate is resolved), the emphasis of Yagyu on its mu-to system (whether he was certified in it or not) certainly had to inform their curriculum otherwise. Munenori says precisely that in Heiho Kaden Sho, that postures, sword positions, distance, movement, mental focus, feints and attacks were all premised on mu-to. "No-sword is central to all important things." Hiroaki Sato, tr.

And O Sensei was nothing if not resourceful when it came to "stealing technique."

My level of reasoning on this point is at least as good as Dan's speculative leading questions about "Skills" that Kisshomaru Doshu is supposed to have dropped in transmission.


Erick Mead
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