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Old 06-21-2010, 11:46 AM   #35
Ellis Amdur
Location: Seattle
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 815
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

1. I think Kisshomaru was different from an academic and historian. (I don't know how much, really, he was of either of those). He was not enormously skilled as an aikido technician, compared to such as Saito Morihiro, Shioda Gozo or Tada Hiroshi, to name only a few.
2. As far as being free - we are all free, and we are not. A man with a different <inborn> character would have met the challenge of a father like Morihei differently. Hell, he could have hooked up with Nanao Sakaki and became an itinerant poet, wandering postwar Japan and fathering children from north to south, then when Gary Snyder hits Japan, the three of them could have smoked bowls of fine marijuana under the stars, declaiming beat verse and tromping the mountains in carefree bliss. But he didn't choose that. He chose the role he was offered, and turned the key on the cage himself.
3. Prewar aikido, under Ueshiba, was not a minor martial art, obviously. There were thousands of practitioners, and it was notably interwoven within the ruling class of Japan. But it would not have survived postwar - or, put it another way - if not for Kisshomaru, Shioda, Tomiki and Tohei would have been three big competing aikidos, with a lot of minor competitors (Hikitzuchi, Saito, etc.), and the family art gone. Maybe that would have been better, or irrelevant in the larger scheme of things. Because we do not see, now, in any of the aikido groups, a third generation of really powerful, brilliant practitioners.
At any rate, Kisshomaru's selective writing of his father's history and interests was conscious, not merely poor history writing. His big tent method of ruling, where all the big guys had a place like planets orbiting around a sun, was also skillfully done - when they spun too far out of orbit, they made their own system, that, for the most part, maintained a relationship that didn't threaten the Aikikai. As Stanley Pranin first wrote, and others have continued, postwar aikido is Kisshomaru's aikido, and whether one finds it to one's taste, it is a remarkable achievement. He pushed his father aside - and that required some real power of his own.
So my estimation of greatness is related to the second quoted paragraph - within the context of the life he "received," he was not destroyed by his father's greatness - and he made his own way. I have, in my mind's eye, a number of "sons of great fathers" in mind who were either complete failures at life, or only succeeded by absolutely rejecting their father's way (Freud's son who became an engineer, for an example of the latter). I will note that in comparison to Kano Risei, another son of a great man, Ueshiba K. shines quite brightly.
Perhaps, after all this, "greatness" isn't the right word. There's something remarkable about the man and his accomplishments, nonetheless.
And back to the things about aikido that I, personally, am most interested - Peter - that's wonderful news about the interview!
Best
Ellis

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 06-21-2010 at 11:50 AM.

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