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Old 08-28-2008, 10:58 AM   #26
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 9

Looking at Teacher - Student relationships within the Japanese context is always interesting. I have personally witnessed the old "nail that sticks out gets pounded down" at work with several teachers...

You have Ueshiba making contacts, setting up teaching relationships of his own and Takeda gets a twist in his knickers about one of his boys getting above himself. So he makes comments about his ability... I have seen precisely the same thing at work in several situations.

You even get that sort of thing outside the Japanese context. Many folks have heard the statement Micheal Ryabko made about only having passed on a third (along these lines) of what he knows to Vladimir Vasiliev. In their case they maintain a close training relationship but the fact remains that Vlad is the organizer, he's the one with the personality to attract many students, he's the one who has done the most to popularize their system. So what happens? The Teacher reminds everyone that he is the source and that this prodigy, no matter how talented, got it all from him and still has work to do...

As for Ueshiba complaining about Takeda... Well, you see the same thing in relationships and between teachers and students and coaches and athletes. One person, who has been quite satisfied with what he has received for years from his relationship with another starts to have his own ideas or sees someone else with whom he would like a relationship. Suddenly, everything is wrong with his partner, teacher, coach. It's how folks make themselves feel less guilty about moving on. I've seen it over and over, even experienced it a few times.

The moment Ueshiba got together with Deguchi and started shaping his thinking about Budo differently, he was doing something he didn't get directly from Takeda, something that was uniquely his own. In my experience with every Japanese teacher I have known, with VERY few exceptions, that would call for some effort on the part of the Teacher to chastise you and put you in your place.

So I don't take too much of this seriously. Takeda was clearly a man of tremendous ability and difficult character. As Ellis pointed only a very few actually stayed connected with him as official deshi over the long haul. Ueshiba was clearly a tremendously talented student who, as a teacher, also had a large number of students go their own way.

I think that it is revealing that Daito Ryu was only recently "rediscovered" (Stan Pranin had a lot to do with that) and that most folks had their exposure to Daito Ryu, usually without knowing it, from one of the other arts which derived from the parent art. I suspect that this had to do with the personalities of the students who left to start their own systems and were perhaps a bit more social, a bit better able to market what they did than Takeda.

It would be hard, I think to overestimate the contribution Takeda made in his lifetime to Japanese martial arts. The number of folks who trained with him and then took off to do great things on their own was huge; far larger than the number of folks who stayed within the fold as Daito Ryu teachers.

In the case of Ueshiba, you can't understand what he did without looking at his Spiritual beliefs and how they changed his thinking about his budo. His technique changed constantly from the 20's until the war. Then he puts the finishing touches on what would become the basic form of Aikido, the foundation, while working with Saito in Iwama. Once you hit the post war years, Aikido as an art takes on a life of its own, apart from the Founder. He continues to teach and train, and by the end of his life looks nothing like what the rest of the folks are doing... His students have become teachers, achieve renown in their own right and then what do you hear? "No one is doing my Aikido"... Sounds like that reminder we spoke about that serves to bring the focus back to the main Teacher when he feels the folks are getting above themselves and need to be put in their places again.

I read these things about Takeda and O-Sensei and, like Ellis, it gets filtered through my own experience and I don't take much at face value. For a bunch of folks who talk about getting rid of ego all the time, the teachers of martial arts have some of the most highly developed and sensitive egos you'll find anywhere. And no where does that show up more than in the teacher students relations.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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