It would be great to have this conversation in person. The internet is never great for communication.
George S. Ledyard
So, yes, Kisshomaru and Tohei, Arikawa, and Osawa, and later Yamaguchi were the folks that taught frequently. Kuroiwa Sensei was important as well. Each one had trained with the Founder extensively. I mean, if O-Sensei didn't really teach in Tokyo much after the war. And the Tokyo guys didn't train much in Iwama, as Saito would maintain, then where did a generation of post war instructors come from? They didn't spontaneously generate.
There are teachers I learned from who changed my Aikido entirely. Yet, if one did an analysis like the one you did, you'd see that I had a total of a few hours of exposure to them over all. Yet the things they showed me or told me were so central to foundational principles that two classes with them changed my Aikido entirely. O-Sensei was a catalyst more than a teacher. He had worked out the basic form of post war Aikido with Saito in Iwama. Somehow that magically got passed on to a generation of teachers in Tokyo who supposedly didn't have much exposure to the Founder. Not sure how this happened but if you look at what everyone was doing, there was a generally agreed upon set of movements and techniques that constituted modern Aikido.
If we look at several accounts of what the deshi did, we find that there were 4 training sessions a day. The only training session that Morihei Ueshiba taught was the early morning one. When we look at how often Morihei Ueshiba actually taught, we find that it was not often. Until at least the early 1950s, he was mostly in Iwama and even there he didn't teach often.
When he did show up to teach in Tokyo, he either spent most of the time talking about stuff that no one understood or he was interrupted by guests or he would just pop in to show/demonstrate something and then disappear. We know from his students that he traveled. There are numerous interviews about that.
If we look at just how the training was usually set up, we can read and watch the videos to see that Ueshiba typically demonstrated with one uke and then the class practiced with each other. In fact, one interview with Tamura Sensei states it took one to two years to "distinguish techniques a little."
Overall, the actual hands on training time with Morihei Ueshiba, whether Tokyo, Iwama, post-war, or pre-war was very little. The statements made, and repeated, that the deshi trained extensively with the founder is not true. It wasn't extensive. Nothing I've found has yet to support that. Everything, so far, actually supports the opposite. That they had very little direct, hands on training with Morihei Ueshiba.
That isn't to say that there was no training or that these students didn't learn anything from the founder. Nor is it saying that the students of Morihei Ueshiba were lacking in any way. If anything, I think they were exemplary in their quest to learn aiki from the founder. They had hands on time with him as an uke so they felt (IHTBF) the power, the softness, the electric, the ghostiness of the founder and it was phenomenally different than anything else in the martial arts world. There was no lack of enthusiasm or trying on the parts of those students. Heck, just look at some of the interviews on what they had to do, for example clean the toilets. This in post war Japan. Not something commonly done at that time period.
Which brings up your very good question, if the founder wasn't really teaching, then who was? "Where did a generation of post war instructors come from"?
I look at Kisshomaru's words …
Aiki News Issue 056
"The dojo was entrusted to me around 1942. That is because my father left for Ibaraki with the rest of the family."
"After the war, I began to practice seriously because I thought it was my duty."
"I have come to hold the belief that the most important task for Aikido since the war has been to conform our way of thinking, teaching and philosophy to the trends of the time. It was around 1937 or 1938 that I began to practice Aikido seriously. I had already learned techniques by then. One can learn techniques in two or three years."
"I started practicing seriously in 1949."
One can learn techniques in two or three years? From Doshu, no less. He started practicing seriously in 1949, which means he was trained in techniques enough by the early 1950s to teach the new students.
Then we look at this:
Aiki News Issue 060
Editor: When you began practicing Aikido [around 1951], was O-Sensei living in Tokyo?
Nishio Sensei: No. He rarely came down from Iwama. It was half a year after I joined the dojo that I saw his face for the first time. Until then, I only knew about him by hearsay.
Editor: When you entered the dojo, there weren't many students, were there?
Nishio Sensei: No, there were only a total of seven or eight. Some days no one was there and I swung the sword by myself and went home. The present Doshu and Mr. Tohei were the teachers. Everybody was at about the same level.
Kisshomaru and Tohei were the primary teachers.
Backed up by this:
Aiki News Issue 066
Aiki News: Who was teaching at that time? [1953 or 54]
Tamura Sensei: Since the present Doshu was head of the dojo then, he usually taught classes. We used to call him "Wakasensei" (young sensei) in those days. Of course, we called Morihei Sensei, O-Sensei. At that time, these two were the only instructors at Hombu dojo so I thought they were the only teachers of Aikido.
Aiki News: Did O-Sensei come to the dojo every day?
Tamura Sensei: As I said earlier, since his house was attached to the dojo, he would pop in when the present Doshu was teaching and show 2 or 3 techniques and then disappear like the wind. He sometimes taught the entire class but on occasion he would talk for more than half of the practice time.
Which is confirmed by Black Belt 1966 Vol 4 No 5:
If the uchideshi isn't helping out at this time, he may have a private class of his own with Tohei or Waka sensei or some of the other instructors.
And then we find out from Black Belt 1968 Vol 6 No 5, that because of the shortage of instructors, Kisshomaru has a battery of promotion examinations.
George S. Ledyard
And Kisshomaru and Tohei didn't change things as much as everyone says.
That's a very serious topic for another time. I don't think the aikido world is ready for it. The very short answer, IMO, is that the change was actually much greater than everyone thinks. That isn't to say it was necessarily a bad, or wrong, change.
George S. Ledyard
There is no question that, at some point, much of the internal power solo work dropped out of post war Aikido. Some teachers, like Shirata never dropped it out. I was told by one of his students that EVERY class had a portion devoted to these exercises. I think the deshi, when with the Founder, did everything he did. From what Saotome Sensei has said I have been lead to conclude that much of what Sensei has in terms of internal structure he developed doing some of these exercises but was perhaps unaware of it. O-Sensei didn't explain it certainly. So, at 135 pounds Sensei can drop me where I stand effortlessly and, even in my much reduced state, I still have 100 pounds on him. That cane from somewhere but it was never presented to us in any systematic form nor was there explanation of why these exercises existed or that they should be done daily to develop the body for internal power.
Anyway, I can and do go on and on about this... so I will conclude by saying that , the fundamental assumption in these discussions is that post war Aikido wasn't as good as pre-war and that it was all the fault of changes made by Kisshomaryu and Tohei.
No, I don't think that. Post war actually had some of the very same problems pre-war did in regards to Ueshiba and teaching. I also think Ueshiba changed after the war and that change was amplified by his son. But, at one level, yes, Kisshomaru and Tohei did create changes that directly led to Modern Aikido. As I said above, that isn't to say they were necessarily bad, or wrong, changes.
George S. Ledyard
Well, my take on this is quite different. I believe that post war Aikido became much more the practice that O-Sensei intended it to be as a transformative, personal practice. I see no evidence whatever that it bothered O-Sensei that it was less effective from a fighting standpoint. He virtually NEVER talked about that. To the extent that he was dissatisfied, I am convinced it was because the folks training kept focusing on physical technique and he wanted them to understand how technique was merely an expression of large, much deeper spiritual principles.
In a way, I think you're right. There is an interview where he is quoted as stating that he was a martial artist and not a religious person. That if he had decided to go into the religious field, he would have done great, but he didn't. His was a budo. While spirituality intertwined with his martial effectiveness, it can be seen that when he was lecturing on spiritual matters, he was also directly trying to inform people of the martial effectiveness. As seen in things like this:
Black Belt 1984 Vol 22 No 10
Article by Gaku Homma
Regarding Ueshiba …
In the dojo, after greeting a few students, he would lecture on the essence of aikido in Omotokyo teachings, which few students could understand completely. After a short, puzzling moment, he would continue by saying, "What I meant was …" or "For example …" In one class, he called the instructor to the front and placed the teacher's hands on his hip, commanding the man to push him over. "My body is joined with the universe and nobody can move me," the founder said. The young instructor tried to push him but couldn't.
And there's an interview where he states ai is love. There are interviews where students say his post war was more circular and flowing. Where his post war view of aikido as a spiritual endeavor wasn't all that changed from his pre-war attitude.
So, did it bother him in regards to how effective his aikido was at fighting? I agree with you that it didn't. It was self victory where there was no opponent ... using aiki principles.
Then again, I leave you with quotes from Mochizuki Sensei (bold is my addition):
Black Belt 1980 Vol 18 No 4
Article by David Orange Jr about Mochizuki.
Mochizuki remembers the younger Morihei Uyeshiba and his teaching ways much differently than most modern aikido practitioners who only saw the older man. "Uyeshiba was thinking, as he got older, how to make aikido simpler so people could take it as an exercise." But Mochizuki warns, "Uyeshiba's way of aikido is quite okay for Uyeshiba, but in our case, we are common humans, and nobody will get his power by aping him."
George S. Ledyard
I do not think there is a single shred of evidence, and quite a bit to the contrary, that O-Sensei's oft quoted "no one is doing my Aikido" had anything whatever to do with the lack of internal power training in post war Aikido. Rather it was the focus on technique to the exclusion of the spiritual that bothered him.
Anyway, thanks for the input. It's always interesting to see how folks can look at exactly the same information and draw different conclusions.
I think this is another topic best left for another day.
Too much information overload at this point.
And it's nice to have a discussion where we can agree, disagree, and read other opinions in a constructive manner. My thanks for that.