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Old 10-04-2010, 09:18 AM   #12
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,088
Re: When Systems Falter

Hello Mr Fox,

Both Mr Takahashi and Mr Ledyard are members of the Aikikai and I assume from your post that you also are a member of the Aikikai. Is this correct?

Though run by Jun Akiyama in the US, Aikiweb is a vast international forum, encompassing all the flavors of aikido, from aiki-budo to korindo. So I would not want to come here and discuss organizational issues without being very sure of whom I was discussing them with. Aikido as practised in the US is one flavor, as rich and varied as wine from the Napa Valley, but very American nonetheless. There are other flavors and these varieties also relate to the cultural values of the countries / cultures where aikido is practised. And these flavors also intersect with the type of aikido organizations in each particular country / culture (from dictatorial to democratic).

Since you live in Thailand, I am sure you know this, but your references to issues of recognition in the US, especially recognition being withheld, and the desirability of an umbrella organization suggest to me that you are thinking of Aikikai recognition in the US. Of course, I assume that you are also aware of the same issues in Thailand. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Of course, there are systems and systems and the differences reflect cultural differences. In his article Francis discusses aikido as a system, but I think there is a serious ambiguity here. Francis moves straight from aikido, considered as a system, to the Aikikai, considered as an iemoto system, centered on Ueshiba. This is a major step and is unwarranted without further argument.

So why do systems falter? I suppose it is because they are composed of individuals, but the delicate balance of individual versus system is so fine that organizations tend to go one way or the other: to favor the individuals themselves, or the system they are a part of. I think there are serious cultural issues here.

The received opinion about Morihei Ueshiba is that he did not think in detail about systems at all, although he saw the need for them in a vague kind of way. So, in 1940 he allowed his dojo to become a tax-free foundation. He did this because he was a good Japanese, anxious to support the war effort. He also did this in 1942, when he acquiesced in the government / Butotukai decision to give aikido an official name (the war effort, again), though he escaped the organizational consequences by moving to Iwama. His son Kisshomaru resurrected the foundation in 1948, being persuaded by the businessmen who had supported O Sensei before the war that this was the best way to ensure the postwar growth of aikido. All the present Aikikai deshi presently living overseas joined the Aikikai after this date--and it is important to realize that they were deshi of the organization, not of any particular teacher.

I think seminars are a red herring, by the way, and have very little relationship to the dynamics of aikido dojos or organizations, considered as opportunities for the enhancement of restriction of opportunities for individual aikido training. I have also given seminars where I have seen that the 'hard' men consciously decided to learn nothing. And their students who did succumb to the attractions of a visiting teacher were firmly brought back inside their cages. Of course some teachers were happy to allow their students to check out other teachers and dojos, but the unspoken condition was that they would return, or else sever their connection completely.

Best wishes,


Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 10-04-2010 at 09:23 AM.

P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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