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Old 05-09-2008, 01:57 AM   #13
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Kisshomaru as Interpretor of the Founder's Words

The book published as The Secret Teaching of Aikido is an edited English translation of a Japanese work entitled 合気神髄 Aiki Shinzui, (Aiki Essence/Soul). In his preface to this work, Kisshomaru Ueshiba explains that the contents are taken from the Aikikai's publications, Aikido, and its continuation, Aikido Shimbun Nos 1 to 104.

Now it just so happens that the Aikikai produced a CD-ROM containing PDF files of the Aikido Shimbun Nos, 1-504 (with 100 pieces on each CD). So those with the leisure to go through this archive can see O Sensei's words exactly as they appeared in print.

For the publication of the book, what Kisshomaru then did was to put the various pieces (scattered at random throughout the various issues of Aikido / Aikido Shimbun) into eight groups, each with a title. Thus, the first group has the title 合気道は魂の学び and contains eight short pieces, each with its own subtitle.

John Stevens has translated these titles and the pieces, but has run them together as if they were one continuous lecture. So the title of the first group of articles is "Aikido is the Study of the Spirit" and this is followed by 16 pages of continuous text, like the chapter of a book.

The Japanese original of the last article in the first group can be found in Issue No 15 of the Aikido Shimbun, published on June 10, 1959. (In the same issue Koichi Tohei's 9th dan is announced on the back page.) The title of the article is 世界の和合への道 (The Way to World Harmony) and has a picture of O Sensei doing his famous jo trick with three deshi. The entire article is transcribed by Kisshomaru in his book with very minor changes (of kanji). The only major change is that he adds a short paragraph from another source.

This article appears on pages 24 & 25 of The Secret Teaching of Aikido. The paragraph begins, "Aiki fosters the spirit of harmony throughout the world. I speak as a member of the Japanese race and as a member of the family of humankind. We must bring all people of this world together so that they can live in harmony."

The Japanese original reads: "合気はこの世の大和魂の錬成であります。私はこの日本の家族の一人として、また世界の家族の一人として皆さま御話し申しますこれからは世界がひとつに和合していなければ なりません。"

In his book, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, changes the paragraph very slighty. He adds the hiragana for 大和魂, which is yamato-damashii, and breaks the long second sentence into two, with a Japanese period (。) after 話申します.

"合気はこの世の大和魂の錬成であります。私はこの日本の家族の一人として、また世界の家族の一人として皆さまお話し申します。これからは世界がひとつに和合していなけれ ばなりません。"

A more literal translation would be: "Aiki is training in yamatodamashii (the spirit of Japan) in this world. I make this statement to everybody as one of the family of this Japan and as one of the family of the world. Thus the world should be in harmony as one."

It is for others to judge to what extent John Stevens has changed the substance of O Sensei's statements. I am lucky to possess most of the original sources, Kisshomaru's book in Japanese, and also the English translation of the work. So I can see exactly what he and Kisshomaru have done. What I do not know is to what extent O Sensei's original discourse was previously edited for publication in the Aikido Shimbun.

I should add that I do not envy Mr Stevens at all. I can see his overall aim, which is to make O Sensei (and also the second Doshu) accessible to the modern western reader. The question of 'sanitization' is an issue for me, however.

Best wishes to all,

P A Goldsbury
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