Hi folks, remember me?
Topic Two: Aikido and Aikido-lite plus (at no extra charge!) pre/post war Aikido.
Before reading on, please remind yourself that I am sharing my own views and opinions, not trying to debate anyone here. George, I also have no doubt that you will disagree with this statement, you may even (rightfully) take offense. In my mind, Aikido IS Aikdio-lite. The awesome art we all think of in association with Ueshiba Morihei happened before 1942. When O-Sensei retired and handed over Aikido to his son (and Tohei Sensei), Aikido (and Aikido-lite) was born. Before that, I see one man's flavor of Daito Ryu aiki-budo. I believe Doshu simplified the curriculum to the point that it was possible to do without using any "aiki" as I currently understand the term. Unfortunately it was that iteration of the art that has spread worldwide and is what most folks practice today. I really appreciate Mark Murray's lengthy and well researched quotes, they very much echo my own view of what being a post-war uchideshi meant and what specific contact those people had with O-Sensei or his immediate teaching. Being and uchideshi meant sleeping at the dojo and training very hard every single day. It did not mean that you were a personal student of O-Sensei who followed him every where 24/7 365. Well over 90% of the Aikido I see today is simply very cooperative jujutsu. It can be a great workout and a source of real and profound joy, but I do not see or feel any aiki in it.
I don't get offended... I know exactly what you are saying. Depending on your point of view it is either quite correct or somewhat irrelevant. But definitely not wrong.
There were never more than a handful of folks who trained under Ueshiba in the 20's and 30's. There is no question that these folks were great. O-Sensei was, by all accounts pretty much a genius, while I would still allow for the fact that there were others around who did know what he knew i.e. Takeda, Sagawa, etc.
But, other than reading everything written in English on these folks, (not hard to do as there isn't that much) and pretty much seen every video, my only direct experience of Aikido and aiki came from my teacher Saotome Sensei. I don't want to get into my opinion of some of the other post war deshi, some were amazing and some weren't, in my opinion, very good at all.
But Saotome Sensei is an absolutely amazing Aikido practitioner. This man, in my opinion, represents the very best that post war Aikido produced. His Aikido sure as hell had "aiki". For most of my career I was literally over twice his body mass and I still have 100 pounds on him. He could throw me effortlessly, using no more effort than Toby or Howard or Don. He just couldn't explain what he did. Some of us have spent well over thirty years figuring it out. From the standpoint of someone who has spent his whole life training, I'd die happy if I could be any where near that good. Was O-Sensei better? Saotome Sensei says yes to that... but I have seen nothing from any pre-war Aikido teacher that would put Saotome Sensei in the second tier.
So, no matter what the debates about pre-war or post-war, or Aikido not having the "goods", I personally have seen an Aikido that I would be more than satisfied being able to do. And not a single American I have ever seen, aside from Angier Sensei, is doing anything with the sophistication that he is. Of course a few of my friends are yonger and getting better so who knows by the time they are in their seventies like Sensei is. I guess I would be at all surprised if they get that good, maybe better, no reason they couldn't... There are individuals who may do certain things well, like the Internal Power guys... fabulous stuff and quite possibly they can hit you harder than Saotome Sensei can... But when we start talking about the complete package of all the things that make a martial artist, the physical, the mental, the ability to shift from empty hand to weapons at will, you name it, I'd feel I died and gone to heaven to be as good as Saotome Sensei.
These discussions about the 30's art being better... Well,better for certain things, perhaps. But I have come to really appreciate many of those very things that others dislike about our art. As I have said before, I think that Aikido impracticality was intentional. I do not think it was meant to be about fighting, although the principles can be used that way. I see nothing in the arts with which I am familiar hat can touch your heart the way Aikido can. Many have a better methodology, some have more sophistication in one area or another. But I simply think that people are wrong when they look at the spiritual / philosophical side of the art as something that wasn't there in the thirties and got added on later. For O-Sensei, it was always there and became central to the art after the war.
So in terms of principles based training, Aikido comes off rather badly compared to Daito Ryu and the Aiki Budo of the thirties. But as an art that has the possibility of really speaking to people, that could, if better taught, really be a practice of tremendous depth, with a heart to it that other arts perhaps intentionally don't have, I am sticking with Aikido. I fully intend to master and pass on an Aikido, like my teacher's which isn't by any stretch, Aikido lite.