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Old 01-13-2011, 07:42 AM   #37
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: What Is Your Responsibility in Training?

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello George,

If I understand you correctly, I have to disagree here, for I do not think, by any stretch of the imagination, that what Tada Shihan shows at seminars could be interpreted as Aikido-lite.

In the first line quoted above you wrote the Dojo, but it seems that the Doshu would make more sense. However, if this is the case, the buck stops further back, with Morihei Ueshiba himself. As you know, Budo (1938) is a training manual with 50 different waza, compiled at the request of the Japanese military, to be taught to Japanese soldiers. I do not think these wartime 'Cliff Notes' could be called aikido-lite. In addition, one of the more interesting discussions that Ellis Amdur conducts in Hidden in Plain Sight is that Ueshiba himself reduced the number of Aiki(budo) waza from the plethora of Daito-ryu waza, in order to allow aiki(budo) to remove the kasu sediment from the body more effectively, which he also called misogi. I had always thought that Kisshomaru Ueshiba did this, but, after reading HIPS, I am not so sure.

Certainly, Kisshomaru did away with the arcane Omoto-kyo terminology and those I have talked to suggest that this was a collective decision, supported by Tomiki, Tohei, Okumura, and Osawa, who were all involved in resurrecting the old Tokyo dojo. But I am less sure that he reduced the waza. At some point in my Aikiweb columns I will make a detailed comparison between the two technical manuals published under the name of Morihei Ueshiba and the early manuals published by Kisshomaru

I chose Tada Shihan as example because I know that you teach aikido for a living. One of the severest criticisms made against the present Aikikai Hombu by some shihans who were taught by O Sensei is that the Aikikai have lost, or abandoned, the idea that aikido training--and teaching, is a calling, a vocation, something that you know you have to do, regardless of the consequences. The consequence is that the Hombu becomes a business, geared to the market, one result of which is that students come to be regarded as customers and their satisfaction--established by means of the latest market research--becomes paramount. Training has to cater for all these customers, or essential market share will be lost. I do not know whether Doshu compares notes with Yoshinkan, just down the road, but I do know that the Aikikai is very anxious about the dwindling number of Japanese students who enter university aikido clubs.

Tada Sensei has never made this criticism of the Aikikai, but he certainly believes that he had a calling to be a deshi of O Sensei. He also twists the knife somewhat, and states that the number of deshi taught by O Sensei who actually believe(d) this is in fact very few. If it is a calling, however, then other considerations do not enter into it. Here, the teacher-as-model is an appropriate metaphor. Tada answered the calling very early on--and went to Nakamura Tempu as part of the answer, along with his training at the Aikikai. I do not know whether he was supported financially by his family. He once told us that he was descended from pirates in the Seto Inland Sea, who used to control merchant shipping between Japan and Korea. (Think of Somalia, Japan-style.)

What Tada Shihan does in his two-day seminars in Hiroshima is a distilled version of what he does in the week-long Summer Schools he conducts in Italy, which I have attended on several occasions. I mentioned him earlier because he never, ever, talks about the responsibility of the student. Yamaguchi Seigo Shihan never did, either (though I believe that the two men were like chalk and cheese). I think that Tada Shihan strives to embody the shihan: understood as 'teacher-model' (which is what shihan means). So he teaches by showing--but with no strings attached at all about the responsibility of a student, over and above what would be considered as obvious.

Of course, Tada Sensei has students, and I was privileged to know one of them very well. Giorgio Veneri was one of Tada Shihan's students when the latter went to Italy to start aikido there. Giorgio (and his wife--this was quite important) clearly knew him very and I myself have seen this very close relationship. (You can think of your own relationship with Saotome Shihan here.) When Giorgio died, I expressed condolences to Tada Sensei when we next met. He turned, with just a touch of moistening of the eyes, and said, simply, "He was my friend for 40 years."

But there were areas in that friendship that Giorgio never entered.

Apologies for any thread drift here and, of course, any misunderstandings I might have had in your earlier posts.

Best wishes,

I didn't mean to imply anything in particular about Tada Sensei I never trained with him. And most folks would have died and gone to Heaven if their Aikido could have been as good as the Nidai Doshu's... despite what was left out compared to what Saotome Sensei or Chiba Sensei learned as uchi deshi.

I think these teachers chose to teach a core or what they thought was important at seminars. And that core was high quality and as sophisticated as each knew how to do.

What I meant by Aikido-lite wasn't something fluffy or anythi8ng like that. It's more that typically, these teachers had their own dojos and their own deshi and what they did with them was usually broader and deeper than what they could do with a bunch of folks who only trained with them a few times a year at most. So those foreign students ended up focusing on a seriously reduced presentation of the art and thought that this was the whole thing.

A lot has dropped out when compared to what I know of Saotome Sensei, Chiba Sensei or Imaizumi Sensei's training. These teachers came to the states and did attempt to pass on the breadth of what they knew. But I don't think that is happening generally, especially back in Japan at headquarters.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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