Nevertheless, the subjects of O-sensei's views and experiences seem to be a proverbial tar baby particularly when stated in absolute terms.
This is one particular aspect of appreciation I have for Peter's academic style of presentation. He shares evidence and argues for particular interpretations or conclusions in some (rather few) cases but allows for individuals to do their own "forensic" work and, in a sense, challenges them to draw inferences of their own and defend them in a similarly rigorous manner.
Didn't Peter state that he intended to be provocative with these columns? I think its working.
It is entertaining, and perhaps provocative, yet I see nothing definitive, or even evidentiary presented. Instead it's just more grist for the mill and reasons to think. Allen, I do however agree with you in your comments to George that there certainly exists a significant potential for presumption.
The physical and spiritual
Language and translation for Ueshiba's words needs to combine the understanding of the language for accuracy in translation (of course), but then have the physical skills in order to understand his use of poetry as a code for some tried and true practices inherent in his work. No understanding of the work... and the language, no matter how accurate, is useless, the translation even more so.
Then, on a spiritual level, be able to present an understanding of both the Kotodama and kojiki related materials in their native language-(yes ancient Japanese) and culture- all drawn into Ueshiba's universal views.
Which is why I question whether the man exists who can handle the subject with any degree of credibility or expertise.
I think the entirety of the flowery language that Ueshiba chose to use as a code either by intent or foible is best left to those with expertise in those two divergent aspects;
a) the spiritualism in the Kotodama and the myths of the kojiki
b) be able to demonstrate the physical aspects of bujutsu he was explaining through poetry and analogy. I have been having this discussion of late with Bill Gleason. Bill is currently having his own realizations regarding some previously held views. For various reasons, in the fullness of time I would suspect that Bill's opinions and research may prove (in time) to be the most authoritative in joining the how, where and why these two disparate topics overlap, stand alone, and overall best express Ueshiba's intentions.
Translations of the physical
Case in point of translation problems when the material presented is beyond your abilities to do or understand.
Peters translations models:
When I read Larry's translation I "hear" a more accuarate model I can relate to:
Ushiro-dori wa nikutai no tamashii ni gotai wo gubi seru ichijingaku no hataraki wo nasu yo ni bujutsu no renshu wo suru.
Ushiro-dori demands that you train yourself in Bujutsu until your body, soul (tamashii) and the five senses work as a single integrated personality.
To translate the translation into my own practical English example of what Ueshiba was more probably doing-
I "hear" this….
Rear attacks clearly demonstrate that you cannot succeed if you use your physical senses to respond or need to "get ready for it." If you try to do so you will fail and be "late."
But if you train diligently in bujutsu (notice the term?-Why did he not use bu(do)? ) your body is continually aligned with the five senses (elements) and your are united as one in all aspects of movement up /down, backward / forward, left / right, in and out. Thus without having to "sense" his attack, anything he does is managed by your balanced state and you respond as is needed without preparation as an integrated unit, appropriately balanced, without having to be prompted to get ready to receive or do anything other than respond naturally to an enemy from behind in tune with the enemies efforts."
For this reason I would reject Stevens translation altogether
Through the practice of rear techniques, one learns how to prepare one's mind and body against attacks from all directions, beginning with attacks from behind, and how to handle opponents freely, when an opponent unexpectedly appears from behind, all your senses must be alert, allowing you to discern his movements—this is an important part of bujutsu practice
and place it in the category of just another aikidoka reading something he really doesn't fathom and trying to figure things out through the understanding of more waza training.
IME this quite simply has not a single thing to do with the methods Ueshiba either used or ascribed to, and would point people in the wrong direction for appropriately and effectively manifesting a body that is needed to produce real aiki in their training for Aikido. For translation purposes the key operative phraseology would demonstrate that is not through the "practice" of rear techniques
that you develop it but rather just as Larry Beiri more correctly translated; Ueshiba was saying that (to successfully pull off --implied) rear techniques --they demand- you train yourself in the ways of bujutsu
(in this case his training in Daito ryu). The reason is in the understanding of how to do it
In various other ways Ueshiba's colorful use of terminology either reflects physical manifestations of bujutsu training of the body such as
1. "Move like a mountain echo"
another description of the result of similar training with some additives in training the body to remove slack through frame and breath training. Force-in goes through your body (the source of Ueshiba's other sayings about non-resistance) and the force-in- is "echoed" back out.
2. His use of the term "the divine cross"
(in the body). Simple in using the spine -more complex in crossline work involving connecting more tissue mass
3. His use of Takeda's terms-like the idea of 2+8=10 or 4+6=10. The bujutsu body in a state of balance is as he states (continually in motion with the universal order) are a way to train lines up/down in/ out, left/ right expanding contracting. So when any unit of force coming in or out gets added to perfectly to resolve conflict and reach 10.
"Perfectly" is the key operative word here in that ideally one need never extend undo energy and thus unbalance oneself to resolve force.
"10" being the point of balance, means any force can be managed within a bujutsu body by adding to or redirecting with any line of force that is constantly in motion within that trained body, thus reaching resolution and the bujutsu body retaining balance. Yes it does mean the result is the enemy falls down and goes boom.
Upon reading more and more translations and having discussions with Bill I remain convinced, (and he is growing increasingly convinced as well) that the principles in body-use Ueshiba was describing through poetry, analogy and spiritual references in fact align perfectly with Ueshiba's only lengthy study into one of Japan's premier bujutsu, only now combined and expressed with Ueshiba's (new) vision; that violence need not be the end result of the body method (aiki).
So, to me much of Ueshiba's references is only made clear to those who are able to understand and replicate the physical work, and who are also converscent in the kotodama and Kojiki, and ..then can discuss the possible interplay. Even then, I suspect much or most of it shall remain controversial, unresolved and argumentative.
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
In terms of training I see aikido as a much more general 'waza-related' art. I would include in waza everything being done by Akuzawa Sensei, Ushiro Kenji Sensei, Dan Harden and Mike Sigman, insofar as it directly relates to aikido.
Well I guess I would have to point out that Ueshiba certainly didn't seem to think so.
Nor do I. In fact I believe he went out of his way to prove the opposite-that "the art was formless" every chance he got. I was teaching in an Aikido dojo last night, Oddly enough this subject came up repeatedly of their own voliton. I think the consensus there was "Oh my god, why would you even worry about waza anymore?" To which I said "I don't!" Or as Bill once stated so clearly "This training will wreak havoc on Aikido as we now know it." Speaking for myself I certainly do not see the substantial portion of the work I do as "waza" or waza related, nor apparently do the aikido teachers and students training with me. I see it as a physical manifistation from an attempt to embody a fully intergrated mind / body and spirit.
So count me out of the waza model. I see the focus on waza as Aikido's biggest flaw. The why of it is well represented in Stevens choice of terminology in translation of a much simpler model extent in the bujutsu Ueshiba studied.
Of course being a bujutsu man as well as an Aikido teacher....Larry...nailed it.