View Single Post
Old 04-26-2007, 08:32 AM   #66
Peter Goldsbury
  AikiWeb Forums Contributing Member
Peter Goldsbury's Avatar
Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,004
Re: iwama note, censored?

Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post
I think OPEN discussion is the way to resolve an issue like this.

Behind closed door conversations that create undisclosed policy create divisions because people are still "in action". That is, they are acting out the policies.

Perhaps, though, a way to be more active in this isssue is to look around at your immediate aikido community and see if you find traces of segregation, traces of prejudice, traces of feuds.There is a legacy of segregating behavior that has come down through the generations. If you find that there is evidence, even on a small level, follow up on it with your Sempai or Sensei. Voice your concerns.Maybe even use the example of Iwama as your basis.

One of the beauties of aikido being an international art is that it can benefit from a cultural diversity of approach. We don't necessarily do things the way the Japanese have or do and that can be a very good thing. Just as we benefit from the restraint perspectives of the East, the East benefits from the freedom perspectives of the West. We're all in it together. There's no bad guy here. Only learning, refining and recreating for the purpose of misogi (cleaning our own houses collectively and individually).

Aikido is medicine for a sick world. Lets get well together.
Mr Homma wrote his article as an individual who was once a deshi and so his view is a personal view. I think that it is very unlikely that any shihan will appear in this discussion forum and give the 'other' viewpoint, even a personal viewpoint. Moreover, the reasons for this are not so easy to condemn.

So, while I, too, am in favour of open discussion, I think we need to be clear about the cultural dimensions here. I have had many 'open' discussions at the Aikikai Hombu, meaning that I have discussed matters that were once taboo (for example, the 'international' education of the present Doshu's son and the violence of a particular shihan in his own dojo ). These 'open' discussions were behind closed doors and involved only certain people, but the fact that they actually took place constitutes a minor revolution.

I think the 'open' discussion you have in mind is a discussion where anyone can participate, such as here on Aikiweb. Such discussions can be very illuminating in many ways, but I have my doubts whether such discussions would solve the 'problem' of Iwama. They might help the deshi who go to Iwama to be more friendly to those on the other side of the wall--and this is a good thing. But the roots of the problem are more complex and lie elsewhere.

I think that what you have in mind is a typical 'win-win' situation, where everybody leaves the 'negotiaton encounter' feeling good about what has happened. You might think that this is so obviously desirable as to be beyond question. I disagree.

Earlier this evening, I had my seminar on 'Cross-cultural Negotiation'. I have seven students in my seminar: five Japanese and two Chinese. The text I am using is the latest edition of Negotiation, by Roy Lewicki & others. Lewicki uses the 'win-win' model, but all the students took issue with this negotiation model: it was too western, too 'American'. The Chinese students argued that negotiation was actually a form of warfare and all students agreed that honesty and openness were not necessarily conducive to successful negotiation. I was surprised, both at the strength of the opinions offered and at the unanimity.

Iwama is an issue involving Japanese. Of course, it also involves non-Japanese, since there are many generations of non-Japanese deshi who have trained in Iwama and these senior shihans are also actually part of the problem. That is, there is a historical dimension, formed when Morihiro Saito Shihan was still alive. But, given the vertical structure of aikido, the owners of the dojo and main opinion formers are Japanese and the problem will eventually be solved, if it is solved at all, by the Japanese themselves, sitting down together and working out some kind of solution.

Gaiatsu (outside pressure), however, has always been a potent force for change in Japan and there is no reason to doubt that it will be effective in aikido. The occasion of 'scandal' to pious believers has always been a potent source of change in the Catholic Church. So, I would think that several thousand letters,

1) addressed to the present Doshu, and with copies sent to Hiroshi Isoyama and Hitohiro Saito,
(2) expressing outrage at the scandal given to the aikido world by the existence of TWO separate dojos in Iwama--the place where O Sensei lived for much of his life and where there the Aiki shrine is located, which appear to have no amicable relations with one another,

might have some effect.

The point is that the lack of amicable relations between the two dojos is most obvious and is also the source of scandal. There would be no need to mention the deeper issues involved.

Best wishes,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 04-26-2007 at 08:35 AM.

P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
  Reply With Quote