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Old 02-08-2007, 04:25 AM   #43
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
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Re: Dobson and Arikawa Sensei

Hello Ellis,

I too looked at the book. There are a few remarks about Arikawa Sensei made by Mary Heiny in her chapter (p.116-117). She points out that he was clearly brutal, but I think he was clearly brutal with everybody.

Hiroshima Kenshibu has been fortunate in having regular visits from three Hombu shihan. These were Masatake Fujita (who actually started the Hiroshima Dojo when he was a student at Takudai), Hiroshi Tada and Seigo Yamaguchi. After Yamaguchi Sensei died, my teacher asked Arikawa Sensei if he would kindly visit Hiroshima regularly. He took a lot of persuading, for I do not think he wanted to play second fiddle to Yamaguchi. But just before his first visit my teacher impressed upon him to, "muri shinaiyouni kudasai" (not to do anything 'stupid'). Jokes about dojo insurance circulated.

Everything went well, but Arikawa Sensei, like Yamaguchi Sensei before him, never used students as ukes. On his first visit he brought his own uke, a man named Niall. (I think this is the person you mean, Charles.) But nobody wanted to talk to him after practice. There was the customary party, but when I arrived, Arikawa Sensei was sitting alone at the top table, with everyone standing around trying to look invisible. It is impossible for me to look invisible here, so I was pushed forward and told to talk to Arikawa Sensei. Which I did.

I note Terry's remarks about this certain shihan's ignorance of the 'spirit' of aikido. (I think his reference to shiho-nage gives the game away as to who he is.) After Arikawa Sensei got used to Hiroshima and we got used to him, he relaxed and opened up more. I especially liked the private talks after practice. On one occasion I got the Hombu's Dojo's view (i.e., Kisshomaru's view) of the Tohei split, for Arikawa Sensei was close to the late Doshu.

Terry seemed to have injuries in mind, perhaps, wanton injuries, and we can all agree, now, that there is a serious disconnect between the mantra of loving protection of one's partner (not 'opponent') and pulling his shoulder out with a shiho-nage or causing concussion with an irimi-nage. Probably Terry was the first non-Japanese to confront this issue, but with Arikawa Sensei it was simply a matter of degree. Hiroshi Isoyama once made the remark at an IAF meeting that it was to be expected that one would be injured during practice and I assume that he was thinking of training at Iwama when he made the remark. But he also noted that times had changed since he started training and that there was a need to educate young shihans about this.

One of the (for me) depressing features of Aikido in America was that all the people mentioned in the book left Japan. Terry left because O Sensei died and it was clear that there was no place for him at the Hombu. It is curious that he never mentions Kisshomaru Ueshiba in his chapter. Was it Kisshomaru who opposed his becoming a deshi? Mary Heiny left because she ultimately could not stand the culture. You have to create your own niche here and this is as true of aikido as of anything else. No one will do it for you. But I think I am one of the very few non-Japanese in the Aikikai world who have made the decision to live in Japan for the rest of my life.

Why? I like Hiroshima very much, but I also believe that there is a great danger that some kind of ideological split will occur between Japan and the rest of the aikido world. America and France have huge aikido populations but they have absolutely zero influence on how aikido is practised in Japan at the Hombu. For example, at present one of the issues occupying my mind is the education of the next Doshu. Mitsuteru-san has just graduated from university and has been added to the roll of Hombu instructors. How his future aikido training develops will be crucial also for the future of aikido. So he needs to spend some time abroad training and seeing how aikido can truly cross cultures.

So I, a non-Japanese chairman of the IAF, am quietly putting a 'think-tank' together to ponder the future of aikido for the next century. I think this would not have been possible when Terry was in the Hombu.

Best wishes,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 02-08-2007 at 04:29 AM.

P A Goldsbury
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