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Old 07-28-2011, 12:58 AM   #1
Ellis Amdur
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Location: Seattle
Join Date: May 2003
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Hidden in Plain Sight - Indeed!

Alan Ruddock, who trained at the Tokyo Aikikai in the 1960's has written a charming memoir of his years training in Japan, his thoughts on aikido, a slender book with a number of wonderful photos of the later years of Osensei. It is entitled Aikido Memoirs.

First of all, we note:
When his house had been knocked down to allow for the building of the new dojo he would often come to the old dojo in keikogi and would take a class. At the start of some of these sessions he would sometimes go through a large selection of exercises. (emphasis added) These were never seen in 'normal'classes at Hombu where the emphasis was getting into 'waza' almost immediately.
Even more importantly, in Chapter Eleven of this book, he describes a birthday visit that the foreign students of the Aikikai at that time - eleven in all - paid to O-sensei. In the course of the visit, the following exchange took place.
As Henry (Kono) gave O-sensei his birthday card, he asked him, "Why can we not do what you do, Sensei?" O-Sensei's reply was direct, simple and final, "Because you don't understand yin and yang."
Afterwards they went into the dojo and took five pictures, three group photos and two of O-sensei by himself. In the last group photograph, and both of the two individual photos, his hands are placed in a particular position, contrary to the formal balanced positioning of the hands you see in almost every other picture of Osensei. He was teaching something important. (Note attached photo at bottom of this post)

Much of the latter portion of the book is Ruddock's attempt, through insights from Henry Kono, to explicate what O-sensei was conveying. Quite honestly, I do not believe they succeeded, but they at least paid attention and made the attempt, something few others apparently did.

In any event, given a clear designation that aiki in-yo ho was the core of his art - to a bunch of foreigners! - I would wager, as I've suggested elsewhere (ahem) - that the old man was dropping such hints almost daily. And lest he be accused of being too obscure or cryptic, how do you think he learned from his own teacher? In an interview, he was asked if he ever lost a battle: he described being Takeda's bag carrier, and almost being left behind, struggling in the crowd with the old man slipping through - an exercise that he replicated with his own deshi. In other words, his entire endeavor may have been as follows: "I watched everything my teacher did and felt everything he did to me. Not only did I steal the technique "in spite of" Takeda sensei, but I picked up every offering, because Takeda sensei dropped hints right in front of me. I do exactly the same with my students - why should I teach beyond those when no one picks up what I'm offering? If Takeda sensei built me with such methods, then these are the methods to build more like me - if they are around."

For example, you can see many photos where Ueshiba, within aikido technique, replicates this in-yo with his body, in various configurations. On page 45 of HIPS, there is a picture of Hisa Takuma doing a dramatic version of the same thing. Let me suggest the possibility that the assiduous student would try to create this structure in every aikido technique - not primarily between uke and nage, but within oneself. Furthermore, such a student would make a point of doing lots of the solo practices that the old man demonstrated, so that Ueshiba could see the product of that students labors, as if tilling the field so that the farmer might see worthwhile ground to throw down a few seeds.

In other words, such a student - like Shioda, for example would progressively receive more information on what to do next, as opposed to hearing "That's not my aikido!"
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Osensei:in-yo001.pdf (893.6 KB, 711 views)

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 07-28-2011 at 01:02 AM.

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