Join Date: Aug 2005
Re: O sensei and 'correct ukemi'
I'd like to say that although we clearly have differences in view. I have always enjoy your writing. We may debate your excellent points, without arriving at any consensus among the readership, but I suspect there is an awareness that is growing through such debates. I think your referencing my input as one of the "current favorite flavors"-I guess we might as well add "flavor of the month" is an attempt to reduce our arguments, and possibly negate the value of what we are demonstrating. This is a rather normal, even a typical response, to change. It usually lasts right up to the moment of change. Fortunately, the value of our argument is greatly supported by the value of the work and the ever increasing numbers of aikido teachers and students all following your suggestion "of doing their own research." The only difference being they more or less have ended up dissagreeing with your rather parochial view of aikido
Your response to the use of the word power is a rather typical misunderstanding of the concept. The pedestrian view of power among martial artists is of resistance and conflict with muscle and dominance. In that regard one might say this is anathema of Ueshiba's goals. However, the Asian version of Power has nothing to do with such a narrow view. Power is about control. Control that arises: not from resisting a force against you with muscle, but rather by changing it. Whether this change arises from absorbing, redirecting, or letting it arrive directly back at the sender becomes the choice of the adept. But the key here is that the adept must clearly be able to demonstrate that level of skill. That level of skill is incredibly soft and developed. It is NOT, nor ever will be… moving oneself all over the place to avoid force. There is a higher level of skill involved here. And it comes from a method of training the body- tempering it- to achieve that level of power, then training to use that power with an unusual type of skill, that is different and divergent from the arts that use muscle and direct resistance with muscle driven power. These things are known and are hundreds of years old. Unfortunately, due to the way the arts are disseminated, they remain "news" to some people who spent decades in the supposedly soft arts.
It is for this reason that I see Ueshiba's use of his body as Nage... as ukemi. They are one and the same. His body conditioning-not his waza- would have to be voluntarily surrendered and broken in order to fall for his student. But nowhere have we seen both Uke and Nage demonstrating the same level of body skill in motion in Aikido or Daito ryu. Were the uke to being doing so- his receiving of power would not look the way it looks, time after time, for decades. The trained body does not receive power that way. That the aiki arts ask for-and get- the responses theydo from their followers on feeling a teachers power is a separate discussion. What remains clear is that it is wholey unecessary and undeeded to forward the arts core skills and power. It is also less healthy in the long run for the body. Wheras the conditioning we are discussing actually builds the body and increased its power as it ages.
Sadly, this remains a popular view. Yet, I think it is completely false. I think it is this view, that is holding back so many from the beauty of aikido. Aiki is the core and single unifying skill not only between Daito ryu and aikido, but with the higher level Chinese arts as well. I must say it continues to seem strange for people to be at odds regarding the work that the founder himself demonstrated over, and over, and over. Further that there is any need to discuss it yet again. It is both clear and clearly impossible to ignore that the founder in fact demonstrated the use of power in ways that were rather blunt and involved the use of the appearance of direct resistance to force; in people pushing on him and him demonstrating the type of power we have been discussing for years now and our currently demonstrating ourselves. Sadly, many people have and continue to misunderstood both his message and his example.
There is no difference in the core skills of these arts- just the expression. We all have our world view colored by personal experience. I find it refreshing that I was talking to a friend of mine (who is a teacher of Daito ryu) and we were discussing one of the attributes of Aiki when he said when we are connected, if I move in anyway he is controlled. And three years ago I was talking to a Taiji master level teacher who used the exact same example. But it remains the ability, not the knowledge, that defines and defends the argument and the one presenting that argument.
Then and now
As to the teaching and my comment that "Takeda taught what he knew, and Ueshiba knew more than he taught"
These skills are so profound, that they are immediately known. In his time Takeda demonstrated these unusual skills to and on renowned martial artists of his day and was appropriately credited for the unusual nature of them. So were others that he taught, Namely Sagawa, Horikawa, Hisa and -the subject of the debate- Ueshiba. The main point being that you seem to believe that Ueshiba demonstrated skills and abilities that were different from Takeda. I clearly disagree with this view. In keeping with the thread I would like to address this in light of Peter and Ellis's comments on the psychology of the men being relevant to the skills. The power previously discussed; to absorb and redirect and change force, once attained may be "expressed" in any number of ways. But the skills have at their heart the same source, the tempering of the body. For this reason I think it is a mistake to discuss their personalities directly with the skills. Haing the skills is one discussion, what you choose to do with them-another.
Some attempt to state that Ueshiba alone made a drastic "change" from the Budo of the day in his expression of power. They make these statements neglecting the fact that Takeda had made that shift before him, maybe even FOR him. Setting aside their own path of violence, even the teaching of violence lets arrive at the end of both Takeda and Ueshiba's days. At the end of his Days Takeda claimed his art (wildly different in expression and intent from much of Koryu Jujutsu of the day) was for defense only, and for not harming. It's aiki, which stood out, was the source of the acknowledgement of the arts incredible "power." I see nothing different in both the public displays, and in the written words of Ueshiba. It is aiki that remains the source of control and the stopping of violence. It is clearly an unusual skill among the thousands who attempt it.
Of those attempting it, they are immediately known. Aiki is a defining skill that once attained will cause anyone to stand out. Your argument that Ueshiba made many men with it-I think is a hollow one. There is no one in the later generations of Aikido that I am aware of, who was ever acknowledged to be the likes of Hisa, Kodo, Sagawa, Ueshiba or Shioda. Do you know of someone of that skill level? Speaking of the later and current generation- the current greats? As we continue to meet and show teachers in the art, and to have these discussions over dinner and drinks the debate over the veracity of these methods to create aiki continues to arrive in our favor-not yours. In the fullness of time this may affect the current Aikido greats abilities to continue to impress those same teachers and students. It is my personal experience Shaun, that what I am discussing with you here has been judged to be the source of aiki of every teacher I have met who has felt it. I have yet to meet the man or women in aikido who does not want to train this way once they feel it. It is their view that it is the source of their art.
In closing, I will bow to you as well, with respect. As in Ghandis example; I have no intention of making enemies of either you or these teachers the men and women of aikido. I seek to change their minds and show them a better way to achieve what was the source of their art.
I am sure that you, like me, practice with joy and laughter, may you continue to do so.
Last edited by DH : 05-20-2009 at 08:51 AM.