Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku
Ayabe is one of the periods Ellis and I debated.
The contention was centered around a known comment from Tokimune; He states that Ueshiba was having trouble handling the tough Navy guys that were training with him there. Ellis's theory was that Takeda went and taught him Jujutsu techniques to handle the officers. I not only disagree with this, I find it contrary to Ellis's own contentions about Takeda himself. I stated it was at Ayabe that he was taught aiki
In the chapter on the birth of Daito ryu, Ellis notes that Takeda would have had trouble learning all of those complex waza and instead it was aiki that gave him his power over the local sumo guys and his "juts" came later-much later. He goes even further to validate the point that Takeda must have developed the skills fairly well in order to defeat hardened farmers playing Sumo who would have, could have, had some rudimentary basic jin strength from farming. Apparently the young Takeda never lost to any of these men. While I agree with the premise that aiki was the source of that power, I think it still leaves the idea of what Takeda got -up for grabs. In any event it is antithetical to one of his speculations about the "Ueshiba fix" while supporting the other.
My theory was that Takeda had already taught Ueshiba jujutsu. And at Ayabe he taught him aiki as the source of power building and body use to empower his jujutsu and handle the tougher students. Interestingly enough there is no source that states that Ueshiba "had" anything amazing prior to 1922. Comparing the period before and after Ayabe- he was not yet known as a power house of any unusual merit. Moreover, we are talking about Navy men who were more than likely well versed in hundreds of jujutsu type waza. I find it highly doubtful that they would be "handled" or impressed by someone with more jujutsu waza. I dismissed the idea in these pages in years past.
More circumstantial evidence exists were one to be using quotes from interviews. Deguchi was apparently so impressed with Takeda's AIKI that he convinced him to change the name of the art and awarded him an expensive sword.
*Note* Were Ueshiba to have already had aiki and Deguchi saw him on a daily basis, why this notation of AIKI at the end of Takeda's stay? Wouldn't he be commenting on Takeda's jujutsu were Ellis's first theory correct?
To his credit Ellis decided to present both ideas for consideration. We have to bear in mind that the book was partly fact, partly speculation based on circumstantial evidence that could be interpreted several ways, thus the book was meant to be controversial. Here Ellis brings to light- for our review- the still hotly debated topic of jujutsu or aiki and the confusion over how, where and in just what manner the potential of either comes to be the predominate power and driver of their arts. Personally, I think a large part of this circumstantial information is validated, invalidated by personal experience and an intimate understanding of the subject.
I believe that what occured then in the presence of Deguchi is occuring right now; being played out in modern dojos and settings. Just like the many teachers I meet toaday and touch hands with-Deguchi saw Daito ryu's Aiki/ internal power for the first time and was stunned. And over six or seven months of daily training Ueshiba -in turn- stunned Deguchi with what Ueshiba could now do. Thus the method (DR aiki/ internal power) and the ability to teach and see it replicated that is impressing so many in aikido today is nothing more than a repeat of the past. It was the aiki that made such a strong impression on Deguchi. Again it is worth noting that it was AFTER this that Ueshiba became known as another budo "great."
Aiki as a source of power
It is one thing to speculate on what Daito ryu jujutsu can and cannot do and what DR aiki can or cannot do, and quite another to be have learned both and be able to go out and fight a myriad of martial artists with both for fifteen years. I will state it clearly that no one I have fought, or just trained with-to include dozens of men who read these pages-was ever as impressed with my jujutsu, as they were with my aiki. Moreover, when I go to MMA schools, the typical reactions are always of confusion and comments about power and control -not jujutsu technique. In fact it is usually pointedly noted the LACK of use of waza in their defeat that caught their attention. The comments run more on the lines of "How did you make that throw work?" or "I felt like I lost control when I tried to grab you." "How come I couldn't take your balance?" "How can you hit with so much power from short distance?' None of which center on jujutsu waza. So, using personal experience in the modern age to address circumstantial evidence from the past- In general I have personally found it is the shear power and control of Daito ryu Aiki that is what controls people. Jujutsu has little to do with it.
My next point is more along the lines of Takeda developing his jujutsu "on the fly." I have always contended that this is why the major schools of DR are all so different. Why the Syllabus lack consistency. For that reason I considered and forwarded the idea that the art is fully based on aiki with no real jujutsu syllabus. The jujutsu or what I have humorously refereed to as "pretzel logic" seemed nonsensical to me in light of Takeda and Ueshiba's massive reputations. The jujutsu of both is less than stellar as a fighting system. To review either as cogent fighting system leaves a glaringly obvious hole, there was something "amiss." Anyone well versed in fighting or versed in the methods of various classical jujutsu approaches would look at both the waza and lack of consistency in the mokuroku as highly suspect. This is the reason most in these arts venture out to the modern systems to find "real" ways to fight. And this brings me back to the point in Ellis' book.
Were jujutsu to be the defining characteristic, why would the modern adepts (well versed in the jujutsu of their arts) go outside their art to learn better ways to fight? For the same reason I contended in the beginning of all the debates.
They have no aiki, and thus their waza is shot full of holes in its approach. Without aiki it just doesn't work or function as well as "a system" of anything. Aiki was the driver all along.
Why are so many teachers after a short time training here seeing their approach to their entire budo careers changing?
As I said personal experience and ability coupled with the resolve to actually go out and test it on other peoples turf brings about a defining change in how you might view the value of things, and/ or ponder circumstantial and controversial topics. For me the subject of what makes power, what would make Ueshiba go from being a man of not much notice to a virtual powerhouse in his day is patently obvious? DR aiki. The same attribute that made Sagawa, and Kodo known for being powerhouses.
An interesting side bar:
A few decades ago (which makes it more recent evidence) a teacher from one branch of DR goes to Tokimune Takeda to learn power. What does Tokimune teach him? Solo training exercises and certain approaches to movement.
The teacher goes back to his school to show them. No one wants to do the exercises, instead they just want to learn the newer waza. The teacher goes back to Tokimune and tells him this.
Tokimune says. "Yes. It's the same here. Everyone just wants to do the waza."
P.S. I am not doubting Ueshiba's later continued growth. All of Takedas other students were noted for their own continued research and add-ons and changes. Once you get it, you see the universal applicability. Some are still doing it today-using DR aiki deeper in the body and for modern combatives and meetiing and comparing notes with the ICMA and seeing so many common elements.
Last edited by DH : 09-20-2009 at 10:16 AM.