Dan, Mike, and Aikido
When the Islamic invasion came to India, Buddhism was virtually eradicated. The Buddhist Canon of hundreds of volumes was lost in its original Sanskrit. Completely gone.
Scholars ever since have taken the Pali, the Chinese and the Tibetan versions and compared them in order to try to reconstruct what was in the original.
I think that much has been lost in the Aikido that has been transmitted around the world by the two Doshu subsequent to the Founder. The current program is to simplify the art. Weapons work has been deemphasized, martial application is not emphasized. techniques have been dropped from the repertoire.
In addition, Aikido expended at an extremely fast pace around the world. Most of the people running dojos out there did not spend fifteen or more years training directly with a Shihan level teacher. So Aikido in its broad sense has largely been spread by people who aren't that high level. This is not to diminish their contribution or efforts, it's just a statement. I've been teaching since I was a Sandan. There simply weren't many folks around senior to that when I started. That's the way Aikido has spread all over the world.
But if one looks at O-Sensei as the model, it is clear that something has been lost. Some of us are interested in preserving Aikido as the Founder presented it. That means doing the same kind of reconstruction I mentioned the Buddhist scholars doing to reconstruct original Indian Buddhism.
No knowledge is bad knowledge in this endeavor, although some would be more relevant than others. Clearly, Daito Ryu is the parent art of Aikido. All of the first generation of Aikido master instructors, Shirata, Inoue, Mochizuki, Shioda, Tomiki, etc had Daito Ryu as their foundation. That isn't disputable. What other elements were in their respective backgrounds varied from one to another. So if you want to start investigating what O-Sensei had that many of his post war deshi didn't, one should start by looking there.
The Chinese influence on the various principles in Aikido is also fairly clear, as Ellis pointed out. I think we can benefit from an understanding of these principles.
I think that the main reason for the general upset in the discussions with Dan and Mike is that they, with varying degrees of diplomacy have been insisting that, if you want to understand what O-Sensei was doing technically, you need to have an understanding of the principles they have been describing. Most people are not shooting that high. Most folks out there would be ecstatic if they could simply be as good as the fellow running their dojo. Those with a lot of ambition would like to find a Shihan level teacher somewhere and be as good as they are.
When guys from outside start pointing out that there are elements missing in our training, folks get uncomfortable. They are already finding their training challenging enough, putting in all of their spare time, working to master what has already been presented to them. They are not looking to redefine the art as being bigger than they thought it was. It already seemed impossibly big. So they don't want to hear it.
I have been trying to say all along that folks do not have to train more or harder than they currently do in order to start doing Aikido with some real depth. They just need to train smarter. Dan and Mike (and others) can throw these ideas out there and a small group of motivated Aikido folks will get together with them and take those concepts into their training. They will then take the concepts "on the road" and teach them in seminars etc.They will be the ones who change Aikido. I foresee a time when a greater focus on internal power development is the norm in Aikido. It will make everything we currently do in our art better. It will not mean losing site of where we have already been taking the art. Understanding of these things does not in any way detract from the spiritual side of the art. It doesn't move the focus away from spreading a vision of Peace in the world.
It simply means that we will be better able to do what we already are doing and that our practice will be healthier for us on any number of levels. And, most importantly, the average person out there in the Aikido hinterlands will be able to do an Aikido that actually has some relation to what the Founder developed and taught his original students.
Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 03-12-2007 at 12:24 PM.