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Old 06-24-2007, 07:34 PM   #12
Chris Li
 
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Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
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Re: Evaluation of "Spirit of Aikido"

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Christian Moses wrote: View Post
I totally agree. The question becomes however, is that spread a good thing? Any teacher of a martial art has at some point to face the choice to expand and spread the word, or focus on a small group and pass on the tradition to the fullest extent. I would argue that these strategies are mutually exclusive, and certainly there are risks to either path. If you look at OSensei and Takeda Sensei, they obviously struggled with this in their own lives. Takeda Sensei had an enormous number of students (particularly for his time), I've heard some estimates around 30,000. But how many of those received the highest certificates of transmission from him? A handful at best. And while the golden age of Aikido may have been the post war period, where the art went from an obscure throwback to world wide phenomenon, if one looks at the Hell Dojo period, we see a small number of very dedicated students. We also frequently consider the graduates of this period as the greatest of OSensei's students, the Titans as it were..
The Takeda number is mis-leading, most of those people never spent more than a couple of hours with him. On the other hand, he promoted something like 30 people to kyoju-dairi, which isn't bad considering that he never even had his own dojo.

I'm not sure why it has to be either/or - millions of people around the world play and enjoy golf, but there's no shortage of high level players. In fact, I would argue that it is the large golfing community that provides an environment that makes professional golfers possible. Mathematics used to be a closely held "secret" art in many societies, but now that everybody does it to some degree the art itself has progressed greatly over those historical periods.

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Christian Moses wrote: View Post
I have some good friends from the Shirata line, so I have a bit of background to appreciate where you're going here. I find something of a parallel between how I perceive Shirata to have interacted with the Aikikai and Takeda Yoshinobu, anther teacher whose own training and teaching differs greatly from what would be considered "mainline"/hombu/aikikai Aikido despite his close ties with that very institution. How Shirata chose to teach his own students (and frankly, even WHAT he taught his students) differs enormously from what I have seen from the Aikikai/hombu/USAF. As you point out, this was all while being a staunch supporter/member of that institution.
Interestingly, I never considered Takeda to be that far out in left field. When I was at hombu the most regularly his teacher (Seigo Yamaguchi) was one of the main figures, and a number of the current teachers at hombu still show a heavy Yamaguchi influence.

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Christian Moses wrote: View Post
I'm curious if anyone cares to comment on the second of my assertions, that one of the defining features of OSensei's aiKido was the use of Ki as a primary teaching tool over technique, and how that relates to the current mode of transmission? If this was one of THE defining features of what made aiKido unique, what do we have when that very insight is de-emphasized to the level that we (often) see now? I should point out that I ask these questions as a curious observer, not a zealot who wishes to return the Truth of OSensei's original teaching system. In the interest of full disclosure, I have personally found next to no use for the two main distinctions that I presented in my own training, but rather found the older definitions of aiki and teaching methodologies that do not rely on Ki to be more in keeping with my own world view and teaching models.
Morihiro Saito always represented Ueshiba as a strong promoter of basic technique, or at least, basic principles. Mostly, when he talks about ki and aiki, he was not, IMO, talking about physical/technical practice. I don't think that means that he was no longer teaching a martial art - I don't think that he found the two things mutually exclusive.

Best,

Chris

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