Hi Doug and Ron,
I read your posts and had a minor heart attack. I think I understand what you both meant but I am concerned that what you wrote might be misconstrued by others with negative implications for the reputation my teacher.
Specifically, I want to avoid the implication that I am adding to, or changing in anyway, what I was given by my teacher. I have tried for decades NOT to do this. It simply isn't necessary. Believe me when I say that there is already PLENTY there to begin with, both quantitatively and qualitatively. The years have simply served to drive that point home.
Ron, I agree that having trained with Shirata sensei is an advantage. He provided a terrific example of someone, who was widely recognized as being "one of a kind," willingly sublimating his ego to pursue further insights into the teaching of his teacher. That, along with his insistence that what is practiced must actually function, makes it easier to sublimate my ego and willingly keep my eyes open for clues as to what I'm "not getting" about what I've been taught and adjust myself accordingly. This process takes place every practice, and hopefully throughout my life.
Furthermore, he faithfully transferred his understanding of Aikido in an open way which included the contents of the Daito Ryu Mokuroku taught to him by O-sensei to the summation of his learning well after O-Sensei's death. That is an advantage too because there is so much contained therein.
As near as I can figure, this happens to include (for those with the eyes to see) everything required to achieve the "promises" of Aikido. The trick is, my understanding of what he taught (and perhaps his understanding too) has been, and continues to be, limited by what I was, and am, capable of learning/understanding. So, as I've said in other posts, I've made "self discoveries" of things that I realize he explicitly taught earlier . . . I just didn't "get it" at the time. Still, the knowledge/potential was contained in the form, so to speak, and I've faithfully tried to maintain the form. That investment is "paying off" and I'm beginning to understand and have those understandings confirmed.
As far as outside influences are concerned, I actually try to be on guard against my pre-conceptions. We always learn and understand based on past knowledge, so prejudice is almost inevitable, however I at least try to be aware that this could be happening and be ready to "try on" new ideas. I try to do this as much as possible when learning from others.
So the advantage of studying other things isn't in allowing those other things to change or influence the content of my Aikido, I try NOT to do that. Rather, the advantage is in gaining new perspectives, conceptions, nomenclature, and most particularly experiences. These all work globally to change how one thinks, and that can change everything to a certain degree.
As far as my school goes, "we" have what "we" have. It isn't necessarily the same "it" that others do, but it would seem (based on physical interaction) that what I was taught certainly holds much in common in both training and, based on my limited interaction, with the potential results. (BTW, I couldn't have made the claim for similar results 10 years ago . . . but then I'm a slow learner!)
I only agree with the statement that "we weren't giving it enough attention and what we had needed to be sharpened/corrected/refined" to the extent that that statement applies to EVERYTHING we do. But then again, I'm Doug's Aikido teacher so my opinion/perception might simply be biased and/or defensive. There is a delicate balance to be maintained. One can have internal skills but no martial ones, and one can have martial skills but no internal ones. I'm trying to teach and develop both. It isn't easy.
I have found that my very limited (but most enjoyable) training with Rob, and reading the discussions included here, have "renovated and revivified this practice" to the extent that these experiences have influenced my thinking about what I've been doing for decades. Furthermore, in the case of Rob, he specifically has had a "renovating and revivifying" effect on one particular practice that I was instructed to pursue when I was first introduced to Shirata sensei's Aikido by Nakajima Masanori Shihan, and that is the practice of Shiko. (That is the sumo squat thing.) Thank you most kindly for that and everything else Rob! I look forward getting together again soon. I still stink though . . .
So there you go, my long-winded response.
Hope it isn't overkill, but my teacher's "Cred" is very important to me.
Now, back to the regular programming I hope!
Doug Walker wrote:
It is interesting, the question of "we have that." What has happened for us is a discovery that we did "have" it, but we weren't giving it enough attention and what we had needed to be sharpened/corrected/refined in our practice.
I can't say where it came from other than our teacher who was a student of Ueshiba, but since meeting Rob and via discussions like these we have renovated and revivified this practice. People already complained about us being "too strong" before, now, just you look out.
Another thing. "We have that" is a dangerous idea as well. Many is the time when I have heard that phrase and what has followed was not the same at all. The proof always is in the execution.
This is exactly why I keep finding aikido is sooo difficult. There are so many pitfalls, so many misdirections, so many places to get off the path. I do that already, oh that's nice, but you ignore the full import, the play acting, etc.
You guys are lucky on a couple of fronts...the connection to Shirata Sensei, being surrounded by different traditions that explore the same material from different angles...it really helps.
Someone joked once about me going after Daito ryu at one point, and now going after this...I think they missed the point that sometimes to find and really understand what you have at home, you have to put all that aside and go elsewhere for a time. The exposure to Daito ryu was not in any way wasted...and this won't be either, even if I never get beyond the basics.