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Old 05-08-2008, 11:28 PM   #11
Allen Beebe
Location: Portland, OR
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 532
Re: Kisshomaru as Interpretor of the Founder's Words

Hi George,

First I should point out that Prof. Goldsbury has the lion’s share of “the distinct advantage” in the language department. Any advantage that I have is unfortunately rapidly fading away from lack of use.

Maybe I wasn’t clear in my post. I think “The Secret Teachings of Aikido” is a very valuable addition to a very slim collection of English language Aikido books sharing O-Sensei’s translated words. I had even planned to up a post just to raise awareness of the book’s existence because I felt like not much attention had been given it relative to its value as a unique addition to the English language Aikido library. Having said that, I also think that it is important to keep in mind that it is an edited collection of quotes and as such the editor had (any editor would) naturally selected quotes he thought conducive to the communication of a particular focal message. There needn’t be anything nefarious here; this simply is a part of good writing and good editing. Nevertheless, influence should be noted.

Trying to place the quotes into a context, the question to my mind is, “What was the goal of the communication sought by the Editor and why was this their goal?”

Considering the nature of the original publication and of the English edition I assume you stated the motivation when you said:

“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.”

As you stated:

“No question that Take Musu Aiki was the more authentic in the sense that it was more of an unedited voice of the Founder. {Again the particular target audience should be noted IMO – Allen} 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.”


“It's Founder had explained the art in terms that simply didn't work for 99% of the folks who heard his words.”

So the message was simplified and translated for us:

“I think that the interpreters of these words didn't distort but rather distilled and reorganized the principles of the art in a way that was far more accessible.”

My only point is that one should recognize that interpretation/simplification/distillation has taken place (with all of the distortions great and small inherent in that process) rather than make claims to understanding the message and meaning of Aikido as the founder understood it. Rather, one more likely understands the message and meaning of the founder as presented by individuals trusted to deliver that message.

You state:

“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.”

I would point out that a) The vast majority of the individuals you reference are Post War, and Pre-War Hikitsuchi Sensei was a child during the war, so why wouldn’t they share a collective Post War experience and understanding? (Perhaps even a Post War understanding of Aikido delivered by a Post War O-sensei) And, b) does one find this same commonality and unification among Pre War students?

Also, isn’t it the same individual(s) with the same altruistic motivation, framing the interpretation of O-sensei’s core Aikido message that promoted the same “over simplification of the art in a technical sense” that you indicated as a problem?

My main cautionary note, point and opinion is that, just as I think that one should “think twice” before claiming to be the sole depository of the sum of “O-sensei’s Aikido” in a technical sense, one should also think twice before claiming the same for comprehending and sharing “O-sensei’s message” and/or philosophical understanding of Aikido.

Or more importantly for the Aikido consumer, “Caveat Emptor.”

Allen Beebe

~ Allen Beebe
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