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Old 07-12-2009, 09:49 AM   #34
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
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Re: Japanese Aikido Teachers - Translation

Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Directly related to your thread title, there are some very in depth questions that I think are being asked recently. Most of them are becoming more and more pronounced because of Peter Goldsbury's columns and research.

Just whose vision of Aikido was it during those times: Founder or son?

When Aikido went worldwide, whose vision led the way: Founder or son?

And just what exactly was a good translation of Ueshiba's vision? As you note, unless you understand, major things can be lost in translation. And as a few have noted, the early books on Aikido were rife with mis-translations of one sort or another. How can we trust that other information in those books are good?

IF the ideal of aikido came from the son, how can we trust that it was really the father's vision? What kind of translation from either of them came through to us? What did we miss? Take out of context?

For the first part of your para, I agree. But, there are questions here that I'm going to ask. Respectfully.

How do you know that your perception of his message was the right one? Have you kept that same perception over time? How do you know that your perception of his message is the correct one, right now?

To be fair, my answers. I grew up reading the books, listening to people. I learned Aikido. I had perceptions of the martial and spiritual outlook of the founder. My aikido training followed those perceptions. And then, one day, I was handed a stick of dynamite that blew my martial perceptions out of the water. I was wrong. I didn't know that I didn't know that I was wrong. And so, I have discarded my earlier spiritual perceptions of Ueshiba until I can research that, too. I don't really know enough of the martial underpinnings, yet, to get a grasp on how that could have helpbed build Ueshiba's overall vision. I'll get there.
When O-Sensei handed off the responsibility for post war Aikido to his son, the only caveat he placed on the whole thing was that Kisshomaru do justice to the spiritual side of the art. K Ueshiba documents this in his bio of the Founder's life which is on AJ (I don't have time to find the reference. This was in the late forties or early fifties. O-Sensei lived until 1969 and was actively teaching right up until the end.

If the Father had not been happy with how his legacy was handled, he had ample time to set things straight. In my opinion, Kisshomaru certainly simplified the Founder's philosophical and spiritual ideas. That was pretty much an essential due to the extreme arcane nature of the Founder's beliefs. But I also believe that he tried hard to do them justice. I do not think that, somehow, as some folks seem to believe, that the entire group of O-Sensei's students conspired to insert some watered down message into the art after the war. These people were his students and they treated his legacy very seriously. It's just that some of it didn't translate well for modern Japanese much less folks from all over the world.

I think that the idea that the spiritual message of Aikido that so touched people's hearts after the war was not really that of the Founder is simply unfounded. It is a revisionist idea that is held by a small minority of folks; sort of like the few folks left who still think global warming isn't proven yet.

The oft quoted statement by the Founder that "no one was doing his Aikido" did not, in my opinion, refer to some idea that no one was using "internal power" but rather that few of the deshi in the late years of his life seemed interested in his spiritual ideas and that their practice was simply physical.

There are innumerable statements that would corroborate this but I take most of my info from Saotome Sensei who was with the Founder for 15 years, right until the end. Saotome Sensei was one of the ones who actually did make an effort to understand the Founder's ideas. His book, Aikido and the Harmony of Nature was the result of his attempt to make these ideas more comprehensible. I do not see anything at all in conflict between what Sensei wrote and what K Ueshiba put forth as the philosophical underpinning of Aikido. But Sensei got this straight from the Founder.

I am the first to lament that certain aspects of the Founder's martial skill did not get taught and more less disappeared fro Aikido. But the idea that the whole post war period represented some hi-jacking of O-Sensei's real Aikido by his son and senior students is simply not the case.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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