Re: Crazy Ki demonstration by Barrish Sensei
Well this ought to throw some people...Sorry for the pun.
I'm a licensed instructor of koryu jujutsu, Takamura ha Shindo Yoshin ryu. I come from a tradition where full power attacks and resistence to technique is not only the norm but absolutely demanded. I confess that when I saw the video of Sensei Barrish years ago, I wrote it off as another example of conscious or unconscious collusion between a bizarre new age Aikido teacher and his naive awe struck students. This impression lasted for some time.
Years later, due to Shinto being a significant component of training in our school of koryu, I was compelled to contact Sensei Barrish to ask some questions after the death of my teacher Yukio Takamura Sensei. Importantly, I contacted Sensei Barrish not as a martial artist but in his capacity as a Shinto Priest associated with the Tsubaki Okami Yashiro in Mie prefecture. Still, I was rather suspicious of him, remembering that odd video I had seen so many years prior. I traveled up to Granite Falls, Wa. and the Tsubaki Kannagara Jinja with a Japanese employee of mine, Kozue Miyamoto. The grounds are as stunningly beautiful as reported. The man I met there was not what I expected. I found Sensei Barrish to be a gentleman and an individual unique in his devotion to Shrine Shinto and its availability to those in the US. We talked at length about esoteric Shinto and its influence in TSYR. Afterwards I decided to invite him to our headquaters dojo in Colorado to perform our summer Oharai at the end of our annual instructors workshop. I continue to do this every year.
This past September I made an extended visit to the shrine to seek opinions and historical perspective on some of the more esoteric Shinto exercises included in our mokuroku. I found sensei Barrish and his wife Chika-san to be uncompromising in their generosity and willingness to help answer my questions. It may be that I return to the Kannagara Jinja every year from now on as a sort of personal misogi.
So the point of all this verbage?
One afternoon during my visit, Sensei Barrish asked me if I'd like to observe his aikido class. I replied yes, while in the back of my mind recalling that rather bizarre video. Well as the class started, that video quickly faded from memory because what I witnessed that evening was very clean and crisp aikido utilizing excellent hyoshi, atemi, maai and kuzushi. Especially noticiable to me was Barrish Sensei's relaxed body and solid base. This aikido was actually quite different from that depicted on the video. Also of note was the fact that the students likewise demonstrated an impressive level of competence. Sensei Barrish can obviously both execute his aikido and teach it, an important distinction.
Now, What does this all mean? I guess it means that anything you see on video must be taken with a grain of salt. I've met people that on video that looked mediocre, but in the flesh were quite impressive. I've also experienced the opposite more times than I care to mention.
Another thing needs to be said. I have heard a lot of arguments through the years concerning who's really doing "Ueshiba's" aikido. Well, how many people out there teaching aikido are deeply involved in esoteric Shinto, train in Chinkon, get up at dawn, recite kotodama and perform real misogi......every day?
I only know of one.....
Is Barrish weird? Absolutely. But I say that knowing that I have devoted much of my life to maintaining an antiquated japanese martial tradition, outside Japan and totally out of step with the modern western world. I guess that make me kinda weird too.