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Old 09-14-2008, 09:02 PM   #26
Josh Reyer
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Location: Aichi-ken, Nagoya-shi
Join Date: Nov 2005
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

Doug Walker wrote: View Post
I'm sorry, but I don't quite follow what you are saying. I think you are saying that there are Sho Chiku Bai forms, but that there is no motif or philosophical concept in the various Shin Kage ryu. That it is a name of some forms only. Is this correct?
Allen Beebe wrote:
It sounds here that you are asserting that the source of *all* Sho-Chiku-Bai forms come from "the Omote-no-Tachi of Yagyu Shinkage Ryu, which Gejo Kosaburo trained in."

Is it true that you are asserting this? And, are you asserting this for Ueshiba Morihei or Shirata Rinjiro?
I apologize for not writing more clearly. I was assuming more shared knowledge than I should have.

The connection to the "Sho-Chiku-Bai" sword forms of Hikitsuchi Michio was mentioned by Ellis Amdur in this blog article . It may have also been mentioned in other forums by Meik Skoss previous to this. The relevant part:

We have, however, proof that Ueshiba learned Yagyu Shinkage-ryu with some degree of depth. This proof lies in the sword method of Hikitsuchi Michio. Hikitsuchi taught three sword forms, called Sho (matsu pine), Chiku (take bamboo), and Bai (ume plum). According to Meik Skoss, who trained under Hikitsuchi, "Sho" embodies Irimi the triangle; "Chiku" embodies Tenkan the circle: and "Bai" embodies Osae the square. Fascinatingly, these three kumitachi forms are modifications of forms from Yagyu Shinkage-ryu: "Sho" is Kaboku, #4 from Kuka no Tachi; "Chiku" is Settetsu, #2 from Sangakuen no Tachi; and "Bai" is Ozume, #7 from Kuka no Tachi.
This is the connection, such as it is, mentioned by Mr. Amdur. Three forms taken from two of the Omote no Tachi, and named Sho-Chiku-Bai by Ueshiba. The forms have completely different names in Shinkage Ryu, and different places in the pedagogy of Shinkage Ryu; they are not any kind of unit or trio there. So this is a case of Ueshiba taking the physical forms and (after modifying the forms to fit his principles) adding his own particular nomenclature. There are no forms called Sho-Chiku-Bai in Shinkage Ryu.

As for Shirata Rinjiro -- if the connection of his aikiken to Shinkage Ryu is different from the above, then obviously the physical part of the curriculum it was derived from may be different, but the question of where Ueshiba learned Shinkage Ryu still remains, and the connection to Gejo Kosaburo mentioned in the above article remains the best answer.

Doug Walker wrote:
As to why we doubt it is just the plain old, run of the mill, general Japanese interpretation of Pine, Bamboo and Plum and nothing remarkable, I guess I would say that that sort of assumption has been part and parcel of the mess we find ourselves in. People have seen familiar motifs, assumed they understood, and missed crucial aspects of the training. Hasn't most of our recent dialogue been about things "hidden in plain sight"?

Specifically, there is some mystery around Shirata's ken, other systems of ken -- aiki ken, Iwama ken, Ueshiba's ken, Takeda's ken (aiki or otherwise) etc. If this is a clue, then great, but it won't lead anywhere if we assume it's just that tired old Japanese fascination with trees.
Well, assuming that Ueshiba simply used the phrase because it was ubiquitous in the culture at the time doesn't mean that it's just "that tired old Japanese fascination with trees". After all, the ubiquitous term had nothing to do with trees. Sho-Chiku-Bai were used to illustrate grades and levels. For example, produce and poultry would be marked with one of the three, Sho indicating highest quality, and Bai indicating lower quality, much as we use "Grade A" today. In prewar schools, Sho-Chiku-Bai was used to mark assignments much like we use "A, B, C".

In that it was fairly common, particularly in Ueshiba's day, it doesn't seem strange to me that after taking three particular kata that he felt resembled his ideas of , he might then give them the name of Sho-Chiku-Bai, a common term of his day that allowed him to give them separate names, and yet group them together as a related whole. And just as "Sho-Chiku-Bai" would mean something slightly different from the market from the school from the rakugo stage, so it would have it's own particular meaning in Ueshiba's dojo.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
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