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Old 12-11-2006, 10:23 PM   #13
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
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Re: For Ted Ehara - Boundary of your aikido?

A little more to add to my previous post.

I might have come at Morihei Ueshiba from a different angle to Mr Hooker.

I think it is fair to say that none of my earlier Japanese teachers ever explained what aikido was in 'western' terms. I know that my first teacher, who was a friend and associate of Minoru Inaba, thought that 'martial art' was not a corrrect translation of 'budo'.

However, I trained for many years in a dojo with a thriving judo dojo on the floor below ours and it was clear that the dominant conceptual framework underpinning the 'martial arts', as this term was understood in the UK, came from Jigoro Kano and judo. Aikido was something like this, but was different because it did not have competition.

It was not until I came to Japan, learned Japanese and read what O Sensei wrote in his own language, that I realised that his whole conceptual framework was quite different and the only things he borrowed from Kano were dan ranks.

It is interesting to me that the very first direct quotes in English attributed to O Sensei were in Aikido, written by Kisshomaru Ueshiba and published in the late 60s (when I first started). Koichi Tohei might well have included some sayings in his own works, but I do not remember clearly. These sayings were problematic, for, as they stood, to me they were largely false.

It is clear to me from where I stand now, many years later, that it was a crucial problem for the Hombu how to deal with O Sensei's legacy, given the fact of the war and its aftermath. I had a conversation here a couple of years ago with Fumiaki Shishida, who was a close student of Kenji Tomiki. Tomiki saw the same problem as the Hombu, of which he was also a member, but his judo training at Waseda led him to deviate from the Aikikai about how best to handle this legacy.

There are some serious issues here and I do not want to state that Tomiki was wrong, for example, and the Aikikai was right. This is far too simple a way of looking at it. Shioda was also around at the time and he, too, devised his own way of handling the legacy, as did Morihiro Saito.

Which was, basically, their own individual experience of training with Ueshiba, in all its subtlety, and hearing his voluminous spoken discourses, of which they understood very little because they had not had the same exposure to Omoto-kyo.

I got to know Kisshomaru Ueshiba and occasionally had talks with him. I think he was convinced that aikido HAD to be opened up and offered to all, including non-Japanese, because otherwise it had no future. But this was like opening Pandora's box, since there was no telling whether non-Japanese would be able to understand what budo really was. Even now I am told by aikido shihans that I cannot (fully) understand Japanese (martial) culture because I was not born a Japanese and have not lived here all my life. But this is their problem and it is pointless to argue. I have learned to smile enigmatically in response and say nothing.

One final note. I once attended Friday evening training in the Aikikai Hombu, taught by Kisshomaru Doshu. The late Arikawa Sadateru was doing ordinary training, as was an 8th dan who shall be nameless. For some reason Arikawa Sensei went over to the 8th dan and had him throw him. He was completely immovable. Arikawa Sensei never explained in clear terms what he 'had' and some posters here might think he was wrong in this.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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