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Old 08-20-2009, 06:12 AM   #6
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 15

Hello Ernesto,

I returned to Japan yesterday.

It was good to meet Allen, yourself and other members of the group over dinner. It is a pity that there was not more time for discussion.

I looked at The Philosophy of Aikido, but did not use it as a source for several reasons, all connected. One is that Stevens embeds kotodama in all the other material he discusses in this book and to have discussed kotodama would have involved discussing all the other material. The two books I discussed in the column are more closely tied to kotodama: to Ueshiba's own understanding of the term and to the 'multi-cultural' interpretation of kotodama in particular, as understood by Stevens. Stevens presents Ueshiba as creating an original system, but does not make clear to what extent Ueshiba took existing ideas and simply made use of them. It requires some very hard slogging through acres of difficult Japanese, written by Shido Yamaguchi and Onisaburo Deguchi among others, to see this.

Another reason is that, apart from a list of his own works, Stevens presents a very sparse bibliography and this does not indicate the extent of his own research--in particular, how critically or uncritically he used his sources. Of course, like Willian Gleason, he sees himself as an interpreter of Ueshiba for the general public, so to speak. But we have to take him on trust and assume that his interpretation is right--and this is quite dangerous.

Another reason is that in any case Stevens is not an original source for the Japanese concept of kotodama. His writing on kotodama (excluding his writing on aikido as a whole), like that of M Nakazono and W Gleason, is of interest as an example of postwar thinking about something that is sometimes believed to be missing from the art as practised today.

Finally, I began these columns as prolegomena to a general history of aikido, but, as the columns progressed and developed, it became clear that something much more ambitious and difficult was necessary. My philosophical bent is not really phenomenologist, but the type of presentation/interpretation favored by Stevens and Gleason is something I increasingly wanted to avoid.

As for Kozo Kaku, he wrote a number of of short pieces for the earlier issues of Aikido Tankyu, the magazine published twice yearly by the Aikikai. I need to do more research before coming back to you on Sadao Takaoka.

Best wishes,


P A Goldsbury
Kokusai Dojo,
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