Thread: kamae problem
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Old 07-27-2011, 08:01 AM   #104
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,996
Re: kamae problem

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Do you have the set of Saito Sensei's old volumes? If you do, you should notice that the prefaces, written by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Gozo Shioda, Shoji Nishio and another person I do not know, were not translated into English. Kisshomaru gives his own views on the weapons training his father practised in Iwama and I fail to understand why it was not translated. I have translated Kisshomaru's comments and posted them somewhere on Aikiweb, but I forget where.
Hello Peter,
I hope life is treating you well. As for the above reference, did you mean the one I've quoted below?
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Ueshiba Kisshomaru gives a sketch of his own thoughts about this in an unusual place. The early volumes of the late Saito Morihiro Shihan, entitled Traditional Aikido: Sword, Stick, Body Arts, are being republished, but the ‘Greetings', penned by Kisshomaru—and also by Shioda Gozo and Nishio Shoji, were not originally translated into English. Kisshomaru's ‘Greeting' deserves a second look here. Perhaps as a counterbalance to the immense role and influence of Iwama in aikido history and folklore, Kisshomaru is at pains to underline his own training with the sword at the hands of his father. (As usual, AikiWeb Japanese addicts can try their hand at a translation.)

開祖は常に"剣の理合いを体に現したものが合気道の動きである。"と言われたものです。更 に"体術で基礎を体得し、然る後、剣を持つのが常道である。合気道に於いて体の基礎が出来ない者に剣を持たせる事は、生兵法という者になる。"と修行者を いましめて居られた事も記憶しています。故に合気道に於いて一般的に多数の初心稽古をする場合は、剣を用いないのが通常となっています。
 故に開祖は、昭和9年頃から私に剣を習えと指示され、開祖が態々古流の剣では名人と言わ れていた師範を東京の本部道場に招かれ、開祖立ちあいのもとで、真の剣の修業させられたものです。外に私は一般的な剣道も僅か乍ら修業致しました。
 故に昭和11年頃から昭和20年の終戦に至る迄、開祖の演武会等に於ける剣の相手は常に私 がおせつかったものです。
 開祖の指示で私が剣の修業をしていた当時、"其の剣に合気の気を生かしてこそ、まことの剣 法となるのだ。此の剣理を理解する事が合気道上達の近道だ。"と言われたものです。
 最近、合気道は非常な勢いて普及しています。合気人口は90万とも言われています。其の 反面、修業者多数のため、場所其の他の制的で、剣の修業がともすればおろそかになり勝ちの現況です。その盲点を、そうであってはならずという事で、斉藤さ んの今回の出版は、修行者に対し誠に時宜を得た警鐘ともなりましょう。(Saito Morihiro, Traditional Aikido, Vol. 1, 1973, Minato Research, p. 6.)
I'll shift focus here and quote Chris Li.

Christopher Li wrote: View Post
When I look at the special edition of Budo it seems to me that the English translation, and even much of the Japanese commentary has a few problems. For example, in the section on suwariwaza kokyu-ho on page 154 Ueshiba's original Japanese reads "Always turn both palms inward, put strength/power ("chikara") into your fingertips, focus your intent and push down the enemy with the feeling of swinging a sword."

Saito's Japanese got the "strength/power in your fingertips" right, but the English translation reads "put ki energy into your fingertips", although both Japanese texts use "chikara", not "ki". Also, both Saito's Japanese and the English translation omit "focus your intent" part which seems, to me, an essential element - if not the essential element.

As far as kamae, both Saito's commentary and the English translation represent "always open your legs in six directions" as an archaic way of saying "hanmi", but I have my doubts, especially given the other problems in the other translations.


As many people are finding out, "intent" is actually a very critical training element for aiki. Here we have Ueshiba talking directly about intent.

Dan Harden wrote: View Post
Again I would say Ueshiba knew what he was talking about and trying to point out in several areas.

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
I agree with Dan Harden that it is best to assume that M Ueshiba was well aware of what he was doing with the Budo volume and that he approved what was stated there.
If we take it as factual that Ueshiba knew what he was talking about, then perhaps we should be looking for what Ueshiba *meant*. As Chris mentioned above, Ueshiba talked about focusing one's intent. We can debate what "intent" meant, but we shouldn't be substituting other words for it. If Ueshiba said to open the feet in six directions, we shouldn't be looking at a 60 degree stance, but rather what Ueshiba meant by "6 directions" as there are many meanings for it. Of course, there are only a few meanings for that phrase in the internal arts.

Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
I personally feel that there is a certain layer of, shall we say, politics in Saito's commentary on budo, in that a) it was interpreted through Saito's own understanding of aikido, and b) similarities with Saito's style are emphasized while differences are downplayed. At the same time, I don't there's much to be made of Saito's statement compared to Ueshiba's use of "hanmi" in the quoted section. What Saito is saying is that Ueshiba did not use "hanmi" in Budo as a term for what is now called the "hanmi" stance; he used "roppo ni hiraku". "Hanmi" is in the quoted section, but it is part of larger description of "aiki posture" that also includes "irimi". One could easily read that use of "hanmi" as supporting Saito's interpretation that "roppo ni hiraku" meant the same as what would later be called "hanmi". My translation of that sentence would go:

"Filling with spirit (kisei), open the feet in six directions, facing the enemy with the hanmi irimi posture of aiki."

(Interestingly, Steven's translation fails to account for the word "irimi", while introducing the absent term "flexible". Reason #3,847 why translations in general suck.)

In my opinion, 半身入身合氣ノ姿勢 (hanmi irimi aiki no shisei) could easily be read as appositive of "roppo ni hiraku". Further, you could replace all instances of "roppo ni hiraku" with "hanmi ni naru" and contextually it would still work.

Concerning Okamoto, I think his statement "I am eager to get as many meanings as I can out of the term" suggests to me that he may not be a reliable source for how Ueshiba understood "roppo ni hiraku" nor for how he used it in Budo. At least from semantic point of view.

And yet, and yet... John Stevens sometimes gets a bit of grief here about his translations, including from myself. I don't deny that what he puts in and what he leaves out sometimes has me scratching my head. On the other hand, he was a student of Shirata Rinjiro, a pre-war student of Ueshiba. It seems to me that he would be eminently qualified to translate such a text as Budo. Here is a 60 degree angle. Imagine one's lead foot at B and one's rear foot near the A, pointing towards D. Would this not be a perfectly acceptable hanmi, commonly seen in various aikido lines, if not the 90 degree hanmi apparently preferred by Saito?
And we come to hanmi ...

Why are we substituting that word for roppo ni hiraku if we are going to take Ueshiba at his word. Shouldn't we, rather, be discussing exactly what Ueshiba meant by roppo ni hiraku? We've all read the Modern Aikido translations multiple times and that has gotten us where? In the 42 years since Ueshiba's death, the aikido world has trod hanmi to death and failed to reach any of the Aikido great's abilities or skills. Perhaps it is time to actually take Ueshiba at his words and search for their meaning rather than substitute terms we are more familiar with? Aiki was never "familiar" to martial artists. It was THE secret. Familiarity breeds normalcy. Ueshiba was anything but normal.

All IMO,

Edit: My post was meant to address the public and not one single person. Wasn't sure if that was clear.
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