View Single Post
Old 01-31-2007, 04:53 PM   #2
Ellis Amdur
Ellis Amdur's Avatar
Location: Seattle
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 895
Re: Hypocrisy in Aikido

1. Certainly to Ueshiba, Terry was a curious beast - but then again, he truly was a curious beast. There were days that had the blessed wildness of a drunken Irish poet in full flight, others where he had the kindness of the father you wished you always had, and other times when he could have shambled out of a bog with a small rodent on a skewer for his dinner. From all I heard, Ueshiba was far beyond any anti-gaijin stuff. When Terry was invited as an uchi-deshi (Tamura was the one who suggested it, as I recall), there was some objection. Ueshiba himself put his foot down and said it would be so. Ueshiba was, as best as I can tell, beyond all the usual stereotypes - he kept violent people in the dojo and scummy politicians and wacky mystics and some of the finest, sweetest men and women you'd ever want to me. And per Terry, he either saw through to the heart of each of them, or he simply accepted anyone as they were. Sounds kind of blissed out, but I think it was true - not because Ueshiba was "nice," but he just wasn't in that particular game.
2. I remember, by the way, a sincere American once asking Nidai Doshu what led his father to pacifism, and it took three tries at translation for Doshu to get the question, and he started giggling and said, "What? My father was never a pacifist. He was beyond all that, good and evil, that sort of stuff." PAUSE "It's a martial art he was doing. People get hurt. If you want to do something where there is no chance of getting hurt, then you should do ikebana or shogi."
3. Re Arikawa - I also do not think Arikawa sensei was anti-foreigner. He hurt lots of Japanese too. I remember the first time I took his class, and I got puzzled by one of his techniques and I signaled to him for help, and my partner, a young Japanese, said and I quote, "Please. Please put your hand down. Please. He'll come over and help us and that will be very bad." And Arikawa explained the technique on the body of the poor young Japanese guy and it was very bad. Yet I truly got the sense that he liked me and meant me well in his own way - he, too, seemed beyond the foreigner/Japanese dichotomy. When I took his ukemi, I never got hurt. I was absolutely aware what he was putting out, and where it was going. If you read him, I found you were fine. If not, he just kept going.
Two encounters - he sidled up to me behind the curtain at Meiji shrine and said, "Oh, you're doing Araki-ryu. Remember, when you go out there, SMASH THEM! SMASH THEM!" And once, I dropped by the bookstore where my wife worked, the only hippie bookstore in Tokyo, and there was Arikawa in the back, his hair dishelved, with a pile of books on the interface of Shingon Mikkyo and quantum physics. I tapped him on the shoulder and said "hi sensei." And he sort of hid the books like most guys would do if they were caught reading Playboy.
I really liked the man - he had a sincerity, an odd genuine innocence, but he seemed profoundly existentially alone in some ways, and I had a sense that he was a desperate purist, that there had to be a right way to do aikido, which he loved, and he couldn't forgive people who went through the motions. At the same time, I didn't trust him - he wasn't a brute or a thug, like some people who come to mind - but I sensed he was, what I would now see in clinical terms, perhaps a little autistic - he was in his own world, and as kind as he could be, acts of kindness that I'd never expect from most of the other shihan, he didn't see people on the same terms that most people would. And of all the shihan who have recently died, I somehow felt saddest about Arikawa sensei. I can't really explain it, but he, I firmly believe, would have been someone I would have benefited from knowing in more depth - that I didn't had something to do, however, with his propinquity for burying his fist in your throat.


Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 01-31-2007 at 04:59 PM.

  Reply With Quote