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Old 09-23-2009, 01:04 PM   #63
Ellis Amdur
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Location: Seattle
Join Date: May 2003
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Cliff wrote:
I had a question about the menkyo in "Shinkage" that Takeda gave to Ueshiba.

Mr Amdur, while I really like your theory that this was meant as a special certificate granted to Ueshiba to sort of mark him as the "special student" who fit a mold that Takeda saw himself as coming from, I simply wasn't aware of this before I read that chapter of HIPS and was wondering if you could illuminate me on the following two points:

1) What are the prevailing theories of what this certificate was about? The passage sounds like you are advancing the theory to counter other claims which I am not familiar with. I think you imply that this certificate has been used to claim that there is a direct (Yagyu?) Shinkage Ryu influence on Aikido. What all has been said about this?

2) Can you help me develop a picture of the context within this took place? Would it have been normal for a teacher of the martial arts to give such a certificate to a leading student? I'm not a student of koryu but I always thought the classical schools were sort of rigid in what licenses / certificates they awarded students, and I had always though they were sort of like "levels."
1. There have been no theories about this certificate - it's just blandly, incuriously reported - which is why so many myths have built up. But - the reason for the spurious Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, in this case, connection:
  • Ueshiba referred frequently to studying "Yagyu" - and everyone, including the historians, assumed it must be Yagyu Shinkage-ryu. "What else could it be?" So then it turns out it was the very different Yagyu Shingan-ryu.
  • And then, there is the fact that Ueshiba did teach his version of some Yagyu Shinkage-ryu kata, derived from Gejo Kosaburo. As Tomiki stated cleaerly that he learned Yagyu Shinkage-ryu sword from Ueshiba, it is likely at the same time that a few others did - and later, Hikitzuchi as well. So it was a meme floating around.
  • And then, here is this certificate in the Ueshiba family possession. It MUST be connected. But no-one connected the dots - particularly that it DOESN'T say Yagyu and it also says Shinkage-ryu JUJUTSU.

#2 - Koryu is not like that, anyway. My teacher in Araki-ryu was suddenly handed two menkyo at one time. He said to his teacher, "But, but" - and was told, "But we have nothing left to teach you." I had a shoden menkyo in Buko-ryu and was about to demonstrate with Nitta sensei at the Budokan (which caused rather a stir, gaijin as the top student rep of a koryu) - and she said, "Oh, by the way, you are chuden now, aren't you?" And I replied, "No, just shoden." She said, "What? I forgot. And wrote out a chuden and an okuden menkyo on the same day. I can't remember - they might be dated different.
And aside from that, Takeda wasn't koryu in his thinking. He created a menkyo kaiden - a new rank - to give to Hisa Takuma for reasons that it is fair to speculate did not only pertain to skill. Such a cert. does not have waza on it - just the name of the people involved, and the cert. title. I simply am of the opinion, given that Takeda is not known to have studied anything called Shinkage-ryu jujutsu and it never gave it to anyone else that it was written to symbolize something uniquely meaningful between the two men. Until things went drastically south, Ueshiba was Takeda's favorite student. Stanley Pranin stated that he has evidence that Takeda intended to make Ueshiba his successor. Tokimune stated that Takeda loved Ueshiba best.
One more thing on formality. The way I got one of my ranks from one of my teachers - we are sitting at a table drinking and he leans back and says, "Oh yeah, you are mokuroku menkyo now." No ceremony. I never got a certificate (they are expensive, or if you do them yourself, time consuming).
Ellis Amdur

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