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Old 05-08-2008, 04:21 PM   #7
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Kisshomaru as Interpretor of the Founder's Words

Allen Beebe wrote: View Post
At first I was kind of excited because it seemed that there might have been a tide shift in what was being translated and published, but as I continued reading I began to get a strange feeling that somehow this wasn't O-sensei . . . yet it clearly was. I either looked around the book, or looked up the book from which it came (I don't remember) and realized that this was an edited collection of quotes.
Hi Allen,
You guys have a distinct advantage over me in the language department. I think that my real point here is the question of how "distorted" was the post-war Aikikai interpretation of the Founder's words?

It's not just the Aikikai that took O-Sensei's words to have the particular slant they have been given. I've trained quite a bit with the various folks who came out of the so-called Golden Age of Shingu under Hikitsuchi Sensei. Shingu was off the beaten track from the Hombu dojo and certainly was not part of some post-war effort to "market" Aikido which seems to be belief held in some quarters.

Nothing I have encountered training with Mary Heiny, Clint George, Tom Read, Linda Holiday would indicate that somehow O-Sensei's teaching wasn't consistent with the ideas put forth in a book like The Secret Teachings of Aikido. The interpretations given terms like masakatsu agatsu and katsuhayabi or the importance of the term Love in O-sensei's conception of Budo seem to have been used much the same way that has been presented by K Ueshiba and the other Aikikai seniors. Certainly Anno Sensei who is the senior at Shingu at this point is teaching these same principles.

Look at Sunadomari Sensei's book, Enlightenment Through Aikido. Was he part of some re-working of Aikido principles for the masses or was he trying to convey the same principles which had motivated O-Sensei's Aikido?

From an academically trained scholarship standpoint it is important to be able to make these distinctions, get to historical roots, trace different streams of influence, etc. But from a personal practice standpoint, I really only care if I understand the concepts as they apply to my own training, do they enhance my understanding of what the art is about, do they improve my life?

I am conscious of certain things being lost in Aikido. But having trained directly with a Japanese student of the Founder, done training with several other of the uchi deshi, and had a lot of exposure to Western students of a number of Japanese teachers it is my sense that most of these folks did not differ greatly from the Aikikai version of the Founder's philosophy but rather they took issue with the over simplification of the art in a technical sense.

In other words, I think that the editors of the Founder's words were, in fact, trying to be true to the essence of what the Founder was trying to get across and what he genuinely wanted the art to be, i.e. its mission. I think it was their call, and a correct one, that the Founder was incapable of getting that message across in any meaningful way. So an attempt was made to create a vehicle for that message that would actually work.

No question that Take Musu Aiki was the more authentic in the sense that it was more of an unedited voice of the Founder. It is also virtually incomprehensible. It is totally non-linear in progression, rambles all over the place, moves without pause from Shinto Myth to Kototama principles, to martial references and back again.

I do not see such a document as being very useful at all in presenting the essence of the art to the masses, even the general community of folks who are training. I think that the interpretors of these words didn't distort but rather distilled and reorganized the principles of the art in a way that was far more accessible. This gets presented very cynically as a sort of marketing ploy as if the Founder wouldn't have approved. I don't agree with that take on it.

The folks involved cared deeply about the Founder's legacy. Kisshomaru was handed an art which might be difficult for the average person to do in the way it had been done previously. It's Founder had explained the art in terms that simply didn't work for 99% of the folks who heard his words. And now it's his art to foster. He has been given the mission of taking Aikido to the world. The transformation of the world via Aikido was never going to take place if the art stayed as the property of a small elite. It had to be spread to fulfill its mission. Is this a distortion of O-Sensei's intention? I simply do not believe that.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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