Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 14
When I started my work for the Ph.D at Harvard, I was made aware that the doctorate course was a kind of 6-year ascent of the mind, not to God, but to a teaching position at some good university or other. I have never been so mentally stretched there since I did the AS-level course at school in the UK. And there was more mental stretching--physical stretching as well, down the road in Central Square at Kanai Sensei's New England Aikikai dojo. The two years in Cambridge were extremely fulfilling. I was in a milieu of very bright people--being constantly intellectually challenged, and the aikido training was truly excellent.
By comparison, in my experience the arts faculties of Japanese universities are a kind of waste land and I think this has some relevance to the issues discussed in this and previous columns. Basically, the shihan/sensei-centered teaching method might, just might, be fine for the martial arts, but it is of little relevance to the disinterested pursuit of knowledge for its own sake--and this leads Japanese academics to denigrate the disinterested pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. It is far too dangerous and goes against the utilitarian 'frame' of education here: that education that does not serve a purpose is dangerous because it is uncontrolled.
The other issue is the esoterically-structured system of knowledge acquisition here. There is very strong sense here that one cannot obtain knowledge until one is judged fit to receive that knowledge--and the judgment as to who is fit and who is not is made, not by the student--who might flounder with benefit as a result of misjudgments, but by the shihan/sensei, who will not impart the knowledge to those deemed unworthy to receive it. Thus the knowledge is seen as a secret key to access to a higher level.
The other thing I have found is that there is nothing in Japanese that corresponds to the columns I am writing for AikiWeb. No one, but no one, has ever placed O Sensei and aikido in a cross-cultural context, not even in a purely Japanese cultural context.
Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 07-28-2009 at 08:37 AM.