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Old 06-18-2002, 01:33 PM   #9
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 498
Style -vs- Style

Benjii79 Wrote:

Can someone please help me?

I want to know the difference between Iwama Ryu Aikido (as taught by the late Morihiro Saito Sensei) and Aikikai Aikido as taught in the Honbu Dojo in Japan.

I am trying to decide which style to choose.
Various feelings come up for me when I read your post. In an effort to examine these feelings, I post this reply. I hope that you (and others) can find something for yourself in what I have to say. I encourage any appropriate feedback.

There is, of course, the idea that many have already mentioned in some form or another - that one should look at the beginners, specifically, how the senior students and the teacher interact with beginning students. This I agree with completely.

However, I would like to break down your post for a moment. You actually ask two questions. The first is about the difference between Iwama Aikido and Aikikai Aikido. The second question asks about the "difference" between Iwama style, and Aikikai Style. I will answer the second one first. "Why" I hope will become evident after I address your first question, second.

The world "Style" is a very nebulous term, one that could in fact do more to hide any answer, then reveal it. For the sake of this thread, let's designate "Aikikai Style" as meaning the Aikikai Honbu Dojo in Tokyo, Japan, and "Iwama Style" as meaning the Iwama Dojo, in Iwama prefecture, Japan.

Granted, on the surface, if one were to view the techniques from the sidelines, the techniques appear to be anywhere from "somewhat" to "extremely" different. However, where this gets sticky is that if you are asking, "What is the difference between the techniques?" I would have to say, "NOTHING."

How is this possible? Let's change our thinking from "styles" and compare this idea with two cups which are identical in all respects except for one - color. They both function exactly the same in all respects. However, from an outsider's perspective, one may prefer blue to red, and another red to blue. Extending that metaphor, what we have is "red" style and the "blue" style aikido. From the perspective of style, can we say which is better, blue, or red? Which is stronger, blue or red? which came first, blue or red? Obviously, these questions sound ridiculous, because there is only a subjective comparison one can make between blue and red. Now, as we change our thinking back to "styles" let's empty our cups (blue and red) and approach your first question.

With regards to your first question, I would like to try and reveal something that "should be" a paramount consideration when one chooses any dojo, or any teacher. I say "should be" because this very thing was related to me many times, consistently coming up in answers to many of my questions to Seiseki Abe Sensei, 10th dan. He said (and I am paraphrasing here)

All martial arts (Aikido) are the same, "Begin with bow. End with bow."
This simple "fortune cookie" sounding expression has very deep meaning for all martial artists. It speaks to "kokoro-e" or the code of conduct with which one approaches their study of martial arts. This term encompasses a person's life-long training - first as kohai, then senpai, then if they so choose, teacher and finally master. More importantly it also relates to the inter-relationships that are fundementally implicit in the study of martial arts - from the "Senpai/Kohai" (senior/junior) relationship to the "Master/Student" relationship.

One of the more definitive points Abe Sensei made, one that has altered my course training was,

"Between beginning and ending bow, one must observer the proper use of "Ki" and develop "Kokyu" (breath) power that is to be coordinated with each and every movement. These two principles "Kokoro-e" and "Ki/Kokyu" are further to be coordinated in that practicing of one without the other is to be admonished. When one is missing, what you have may be of particular value. However, it is not true Budo (Martial Arts)."
Perhaps then, it is the structure one seeks to create in the melding of these two ideas where one creates his "style" of martial arts. Like the two sides of a coin, there is no separation. You can't have one without the other. This is a form of balance. My point here is that to maintain this balance one must foster a high level of discipline. I believe that whether or not one seeks and trains to achieve powerful "technique" or sincere humbleness or harmony, that we can all agree that to achieve either, discipline is the path that we all must travel on.

We can all sense when we meet one who is balanced. For me, I can't see having powerful technique without humbleness. This is how I teach, because this is the ultimate goal in mind with which I personally train. However, on the other side, when a person achieves one without the other, there is imbalance. We can all sense when we meet one who is out of balance.

Therefore, when you ask what is the difference between Iwama aikido techniques and Aikikai aikido techniques?"

I would still say, "NOTHING. All aikido is the same." Both the Iwama Dojo, and the Aikikia Honbu Dojo emulate Kokoro-e and movements with Ki/Kokyu. However, the "way" or style in which they seek to instill these goals in each student is "colored" in its own unique way.

Therefore, I would also say, in terms of picking one over the other, pick the color that looks better on you.

I am sure that after reading this, some are feeling "red" and some are feeling "blue" - neh?


Last edited by Misogi-no-Gyo : 06-19-2002 at 08:44 AM.

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