George S. Ledyard
I put a response up on the Training forum so this wouldn't drift.
I am extremely hesitant to discuss anything on the general forum. What frequently is debated and questioned endlessly- somehow magically ends in about a minute and half in person. I'm tired of debating both what aiki is and what it can do with someone who is incapable of demonstrating anything other than more aikido waza. While that has proved to be an exercise in futility -it also explains quite succinctly Peter's examples of the failure in understanding much of Ueshiba's physical concepts in translations offered. And the reasons they are re-interpreted rather than translated by others into something actually useful to know. They are -regardless of their expertise in the language- never the less struggling to even understand the nature of the concepts they are attempting to translate! So the results may be catch as catch can.
So, what fits perfectly into the framework of Peter's column on translations also blends seamlessly with your observations of what has become a modern post-Ueshiba "form" of aikido.
I made a simple observation that many of the concepts that I had seen translated, made perfect sense, and others seemed anathema to what I know aiki to be. It stands to reason that Ueshiba's thoughts (many of which appear to match perfectly the type of training he would have undertaken in his studies with Takeda) would be entirely foreign and a mystery to those both in and outside of Japan, and that to include his own deshi. Again, I am increasingly of the opinion that Ueshiba- while maybe a bit "out there"- was not being as obscure as was previously believed.
Translation of a concept.
Peter's examples and my discussion of the ushiro aspects demonstrate a blatant and serious shift in focus between the two translations. One that just so happens to address much of the recent talk of internal aiki training so pervasive on the boards, and increasingly taking over the focus of people in the art. The Beiri's nail the concepts that rear techniques demand that type of training. Stevens offers the typical "step in the wrong direction" technique oriented view as practiced by many in the modern "form' of aikido.
Other things like "The divine cross of aiki" (again an actual training tool expressed in a T or an X) while colorfully called divine, none-the-less impart crucial information gone completely ignored in all available manuals and teaching in the larger aikido community.
I believe that Ueshiba was conveying ideas that perhaps properly translated, explained and trained would prove to be a foundational shift in the thought process and focus for training -even for his present deshi and what they seem to be practicing to this very day.
Hence, modern aikido form
Hence poor translation of concept and focus.
I hope you can see how this would lead me to be almost completely disinterested in a "form" developed and figured out by his deshi. Judging by what I have seen and felt I am convinced this form should be reworked and or as a focus of training-abandoned altogether.
IME, as "a form," it has little to do with what Ueshiba was doing in the first place. Since I had little investment in carrying it forward- I had no regrets at setting it aside either and getting on with the real work. In fact I think the "form" being preserved is by and large nothing more than a search by his deshi to mimic the effects he created on them and they fashioned that into the form seen today. Thankfully some pretty bold teachers are stepping outside of aikido to learn the way of aiki and in turn making their practice in aikido a study of real aiki once more..
If one truly understands the nature of what caused aiki to happen with those who fought Ueshiba, they would both understand more of what Ueshiba was doing and then in turn they could start to do themselves, and this would unlock the concepts that were nothing more than mysteries in the translated works. Hopefully, in time that may lead to capable men giving us more accurate translations of concepts they finally understand.
Neither of which has anything to do with aikido as a form. Something which Ueshiba repeatedly tried to free himself from.