The folks translated as they did because they were there and understood the context and tones with which he was speaking so you cannot get better, plus they trained with him and were entrusted to do so by him....
....There's one famous teacher who explains quite clearly the reasons why he and others couldn't understand what O'Sensei was on about and says it was because of the time difference and not knowing or understanding the old religious tales etc. He then goes on to say he finally understood only after studying zen, a spiritual activity. Others will know of whom I speak as I can't remember exactly who that was.
It's not a matter of translating a word literally it's a matter of understanding conceptually. To understand conceptually you thus have to increase your spiritual awareness.
Graham, your lack of understanding simply makes matters worse and really don't make any case worth having. In one paragraph you state THEY understood him because they trained with him, in another ...they couldn't understand till they went outside for spiritual awareness. Your argument is nonsense.
Arguing translation with Chris is rather ridiculous, you don't have the skills. I suggest you try asking him questions.
You fail to understand the difficulties in translating. As Chris has pointed out in rooms with native Japanese Budo-ka present;
In the separately published commentary on the book "Budo" you have;
1. The actual writing of Ueshiba in Japanese
2. Then you have the "explanation" in Japanese
3. Then you have the translation that can go either way
It is quite startling to see how many times none of the three line up.
From descriptions of six directions, intent, jumonji etc. All it proves is that many (I would guess most) of his students had no clue what he was talking about. Something which I squarely blame on Ueshiba. Takeda gave him and many others specific instruction. That's why Ueshiba had peers in his own era; Sagawa, Kodo, Hisa, etc.
I would interject here that I have seen the exact same translation problem between two Japanese Koryu teachers arguing over correct translation into English of one principle in their scroll; one saying this or that presents the concept more clearly, with the American listeners laughing and telling the Japanese "You just presented two completely different concepts to us from one sentence. Which is it?" Which started the argument all over again. When the actual waza was demonstrated...the physical lexicon was far more clear and it
settled the debate.
It is also quite a stretch to say that you needed a religious connection to understand Ueshiba when many concepts (no not all) he talked about were all over the place in their own culture. I mean; heaven/earth/man, six directions, Kokyu power, aiki, were known. It certainly doesn't mean everyone understood them or could use them, just that they needed no religious connotation. Case in point: Heaven/ earth/man and six direction were known and taught in No dance. I have read manuscripts from 1783 discussing them and why they were needed.
As for those training with him getting and being able to translate? Guys like Chiba have publicly lamented that he was an idiot at the time (as have many of us) and wished he could go back. All he wanted at the time was for the old man to shut up so they could get back to the training. And that training, was the training that Ueshiba had just blasted them for not being his
Aikido at all.
We should not be surprised at this. Taking young men in and six years later sending them out as 6th dan is a model for expanding an art, not for making highly polished and all knowing deshi we should be following.
Students fault or teacher
In a culture where may times the Budo lexicon was physical and not verbal, it can fall on the student to try to understand:
A case of three students:
Tohei said "All Ueshiba really taught us was how to relax."
Chiba said "No one knew what he was talking about, I couldn't wait for him to shut up so we could get back to training."
And yet Shirata....comes up with a series of power building exercises that include breath power, the use of kua and mingmen (as was the case in many JMA, not using those terms, but the mechanics), and some other interesting things more akin to DR than modern aikido!
Trying to make an argument for who had the best translating ability to what Ueshiba was saying is hilarious.