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Old 07-15-2010, 09:26 AM   #94
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

Hello Dan,

Here are some clarifications / explanations of the quote discussed in your Post #83.

Best wishes,



QUOTE: "At the beginning of the year, an 8th dan Hombu shihan came to my dojo in Hiroshima and taught a seminar. He was a direct student of Ueshiba Morihei and recounted his experiences of O Sensei forbidding weapons training at the Hombu Dojo."

COMMENT: The shihan simply recounted his experiences, as he remembered them when he was a deshi. He stated that O Sensei did not like people practising with weapons in the Tokyo Hombu Dojo. However, against this, he stated that Saito Morihiro Shihan used to teach Sunday classes at the Tokyo Hombu--and that he quietly taught weapons. There was a lookout posted, so that if O Sensei was in Tokyo and chanced to approach the dojo, the weapons would disappear.

QUOTE: "The shihan used a weapon only once or twice, merely to explain an important principle concerning empty-handed training. I think that the principles he did illustrate could be summed up in the four axioms of ki training, as set out by Tohei Koichi, even though the shihan did not mention the word ki even once. Other aikido shihans I know have quietly developed their own weapons kata, even those shihans who are not well known as possessing the expertise in weapons of a Nishio Shoji, or shihans who never publicly profess to use weapons. Even the shihan who has gone on public record that aikido does not have weapons training had previously become expert in the family sword art, learned at the hands of his father."

COMMENT: Koichi Tohei also taught weapons, both in Iwama, when he was there, and at the Tokyo Hombu. In a recent Aikido Journal blog, Stan Pranin presents a note of a meeting between Saito and Tohei and Saito notes that Tohei was in Iwama when he started training in 1946. According to Kisshomaru, O Sensei started serious aiki-ken training around 1945, so it is beyond question that Tohei would have participated in this training during the time he was in Iwama. So there was quite a lot of quiet, even secret, weapons training among Tokyo Hombu shihans, some of which was buttressed by expertise in family arts that were entirely closed to outsiders.

QUOTE: "Amdur's chapter should explain why this is the case—and why it is very difficult for the present Doshu to take any leadership here."

COMMENT: Amdur's chapter explains why weapons training and teaching in aikido was piecemeal. O Sensei taught deshi such as Tomiki, Shirata, Nakakura, Hikitsuchi, Sunadomari and Saito, and appears to have tailored his teaching of weapons according to the perceived needs of each. Given such teaching, each disciple transmitted the teaching as he received it. Recently, I encountered a certain jo kata I had not seen before and was told that the shihan had been directly shown by O Sensei--and the kata was transmitted as such.
The present Doshu was not taught such weapons systems by his grandfather or by his father and it would not be possible, given his status as Doshu, to be taught formally by anyone except his father. So it is very difficult for him to take any leadership concerning the teaching of weapons--and since Saito Sensei has passed away, the direct connection with O Sensei has been lost in Iwama, also.

QUOTE: "Nevertheless, it is clear that Ueshiba Moriteru is indeed moving to make the weapons practice he performs in his aikido demonstrations—tachi dori, jo dori, tanto dori, which are also required for Aikikai dan examinations—a kind of standard for the future."

COMMENT: I do not know why the Aikikai omitted kumi-tachi, kumi-jo and jo-ken relationships from the staple of Hombu training (since each shihan I know quietly teaches these). I suspect that Kisshomaru and his colleagues accepted O Sensei's own alleged comments to the effect that weapons training had indeed been an essential part of his own path to enlightenment, but, since he was regarded by everyone as an an avatar, it was not a requirement for those who followed him.

QUOTE: "The result is the likelihood that the weapons training so rigorously pursued by his grandfather is relegated to the ‘Museum of Aikido Historical Relics'."

COMMENT: This is not just a likelihood. The fact that many deshi were told by O Sensei (towards the end of his life) that weapons training was not essential to aikido has encouraged the Aikikai to believe that serious weapons training (not the tachi-dori stuff, but the sort actually practiced by O Sensei himself at various stages of his life) is not necessary for acquiring proficiency in aikido. My own teacher in Hiroshima, for example, stopped teaching weapons training in our dojo because he accepted O Sensei's alleged statements that such training was not necessary to acquire mastery of aikido waza.

QUOTE: "So the wheel has turned full circle and what we see in modern aikido are solely the "rather unrealistic disarming techniques", noted by Amdur at the beginning of the chapter."

COMMENT: As I stated elsewhere, this is a book review, not a thesis about IS/IT. Ellis begins his chapter with a reference to "rather unrealistic disarming techniques" and I conclude my review with a similar reference to the "rather unrealistic disarming techniques", currently regarded as the staple weapons practice in the Aikikai Hombu. So I think the wheel metaphor is quite apt.

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 07-15-2010 at 09:29 AM.

P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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