Peter A Goldsbury
Are you certain that it was Ueshiba himself who called the above three forms Sho-chiku-bai and not Hikitsuchi Sensei?
Hello, Professor Goldsbury. As a matter of fact, I'm not at all sure who called the above forms "sho-chiku-bai". I suppose it could very easily have been Hikitsuchi-sensei. I would still contend, though, that Hikitsuchi-sensei got the names from Ueshiba references to sho-chiku-bai kenpo, and not from Shinkage Ryu.
Similarly, it can be argued that Hikitsuchi Sensei was also a faithful transmitter of what he had been taught by O Sensei, but that what he transmitted was not the sum total of what O Sensei himself called Sho-chiku-dai swordwork.
I entirely agree.
Doug Walker wrote:
I'm with Allen that the equivalent of "A,B,C Sword Method" is a pretty thin appellation for a realization direct from all the Kami of Japan to a man who didn't shy away from the grandiose.
Really? But look at his curriculum. The five basic controls:
Ikkyo - First teaching.
Nikyo - Second teaching
Sankyo - Third teaching.
Yonkyo - Fourth teaching.
Gokyo - Fifth teaching.
Look at the aikiken of Saito:
Ichi-no-tachi - Sword one.
Ni-no-tachi - Sword two.
San-no-tachi - Sword three.
Yon-no-tachi - Sword four.
Go-no-tachi - Sword five.
Kimusubi-no-tachi - Sword of Ki Binding.
The most "picturesque" named aikido technique is "tenchi-nage", and tenchi is another common Japanese phrase and idiom.
But again, let me stress that simply because they used "Sho-Chiku-Bai" to grade papers doesn't mean it just means "A B C ken". My point is that Sho-Chiku-Bai is a phrase that represents simultaneously three things and one thing. To go 180 degrees in the opposite direction of the mundane produce grades, idiomatically it's like the Holy Trinity. The existence of one suggests the existence of the other two. The three words will refer to three different concepts/levels/grades, while at the same time be part of a whole. That's why
it was used for marking produce, and grading papers, and as handy names in rakugo stories.
Let's assume for the moment, without better information, that Ueshiba named Hikitsuchi's sword forms Sho, Chiku, and Bai. As Mr. Amdur noted, they were meant to represent the Triangle (Irimi), the Circle (Tenkan), and the Square (Osae). Now if you design three kata that you want to represent these ideas, you could certainly call them Sword 1, 2, and 3 (like Kashima Shinto Ryu, and later Ueshiba did), or maybe "I Sword", "Ro Sword" and "Ha Sword". Or perhaps do like Shinkage Ryu and borrow the "Jo-Ha-Kyu" terminology of Noh. Or, he could have chosen Sho-Chiku-Bai because, unlike the above, it ties the three forms together as three parts of a whole, just as the circle, triangle and square represent three parts of the whole of Takemusu Aiki.
All I'm saying is that "Sho-Chiku-Bai" is not so unusual that it had to come from some specific outside source, which when examined would provide some kind of insight into his aikido. OTOH, neither is it so mundane as to just represent "A, B, C". It's a common term with picturesque and subtle meaning, which IMO makes it a good candidate for this kind of use.