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Old 09-23-2009, 02:50 PM   #67
Ellis Amdur
Location: Seattle
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 815
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Re: "Hidden in Plain Sight" - Takeda Sokaku

Dan - I tried to be fair to both men in HIPS. (not saying you are not - just that there is a weighting towards Takeda, just as there has been a weighting towards Ueshiba in other's writing). I had one teacher (I had a number of teachers, each who embodied one significant trait of Japanese character to it's extreme) who saw the world much as Takeda did, in regards to his students. The attitude can be summed up, "As my student, you owe me what ever I demand.I will never make an unethical demand - BUT, I am the sole arbiter of what is ethical." And I gotta tell you, it was agony a lot of the time. My guts were so knotted up for years. We almost did come to blows on several occasions (I tend to be somewhat prideful, perhaps). And I didn't want to quit what I was doing, but I left Japan, among other reasons, just to get some air! And truthfully - as evidenced by my reception years later when I returned for a visit - I did the right thing.
We note in pre-war aikido masters (also Stan's books), several of the deshi describe what they call Ueshiba's perfect behavior toward Takeda in the 1930's, that this made a powerful impression on them of the perfect disciple. He "took" it all, and never evidenced any objection. That's how I tried to live (although I was more rebellious) - I did things at my teacher's behest that were against what I would have chosen to do - on my own. Things far beyond martial arts.
So, returning to my leaving, one thing that was built into classical ryu was turning your student's loose. Musha shugyo - the teacher feels the student chafing, and sends him out to meet the world, test his techniques and to return when seasoned. At which point, he is either called a failure or a menkyo. And sent on his way, in most cases. In other words, built into the system was a rite of passage, like a father saying to his son, "you are a man in my eyes. I will always be your father, but we are now eye-to-eye, and that's how we will communicate."
Many koryu in Japan have, in the modern era, erased this - and one stays a student of the "soke" forever - in a sense, you never get your manhood. I can think of several prominent ryu (and you may too) where the senior people cannot step out in the sun. This is not an issue of humility - it's an issue of one bull claiming all the cows.
Takeda was "worse," - essentially, your door was always open, and then you would attend to him, that shogi-cheating, accusing you of poisoning him, house taking over, taxi-driver beating up, grumpy old man that he was.
I've got a lot of sympathy for Ueshiba not simply facing this man and saying, "Boss, I quit." Many warriors did - and even did so through a challenge match to their teacher. Thereby indicating that they transcended the teacher and the ryu.
What if, however, you know that even in this late date - you can't win And let's say he could. BUT you don't even want to win! If nothing else, Takeda was getting old and Ueshiba was in the prime of manhood. Aside from those who were abused, really want to punch out your father? Or even "aiki" him - defeating in the only thing he really has? If you cannot confront the teacher/father, for whatever reason, what can you do? Knuckle under? Rebel? Run away.
Ueshiba's way doesn't engender respect in me (per Sagawa's book, several years earlier, having his wife turn him away at the door) and avoiding him. But I feel compassion for both of them - and think neither of them the bad guy in this long tangled relationship.
'Why are you lying about me?" vs. "Why won't you let me BE!!!"
Just imagine, after 20-30 years of training DR, getting all sorts of accolades and then this skinny old guy shows up, yelling, crunching all your students and telling them and you and all the world within earshot that you don't have crap - this guy who, per Sagawa, was careful not to teach all he knew anyway!!!! And then he takes over your dojo for as long as he cares to stay - and you have a family to feed.
Me, I just shake my head, considering the two of them, stuck in such a prickly, inescapable embrace and think, "Poor f**krs."
That said, Sato, of all of them, seems to have had the cleanest, most simple relationship of any of the close deshi. Too bad no one followed up with him after Stan found him and prevailed on him to teach.

Best
Ellis

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 09-23-2009 at 02:58 PM.

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