Most intriguing for me is Peter's discussion of how the current doshu is treating weapons in aikido, and how weapons work was essential to O'Sensei's own training, but not part of his instruction to his students.
I never knew O Sensei, but I did know his son Kisshomaru and I do know his grandson Moriteru. (By 'know', I mean something like, 'have a close enough relationship that you can ask uncomfortable questions and discuss difficult issues'. I don't think anyone ever did this with O Sensei.)
Kisshomaru Doshu was always uncomfortable with the term iemoto
, but Moriteru has used it more than once in my presence. Unfortunately, there is virtually nothing in English on this subject and the relevant works of Matsunosuke Nishiyama, the Japanese scholar acknowledged to be the expert in this subject, have not been translated.
An interesting question for Ellis, and also for Toby Threadgill, who is also the soke
of a koryu
, is whether the iemoto
concept [which is really an ex post facto
explanatory device] is adequate for describing a koryu
as a system that allows outliers to appear and flourish.
One of the problems with the transmission of knowledge in aikido, understood as an iemoto
system, is that it is bound by the limitations of this system. I do not think Morihei Ueshiba saw iemoto
in aikido as bound by the legal structure of the Aikikai, even though he was ultimately responsible for creating this legal structure. With Kisshomaru and his associates, this changed in a subtle way, for the Aikikai became the repository of iemoto
truths, even though Kisshomaru never sought to control the older disciples of O Sensei. With the present Doshu and his own associates, this control is being strengthened, sometimes to the discomfiture of the dwindling number of the older disciples of the Founder and Kisshomaru.
I plan to discuss this delicate subject in later columns.