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Old 09-20-2002, 11:28 PM   #4
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
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I think some of the observations made in this thread follow from the fact that aikido has become a mass martial art, available to anyone and, in fact, desirable for everyone to practise because of the advantages it offers.

I think this is an enormous paradigm shift, with implications that we are still learning about. Now others will correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is that Morihei Ueshiba was not entirely happy with this change.

Nevertheless, even Morihei Ueshiba needs to be understood on his own terms. His family had the money to support his training in the martial arts and all the dojos he opened relied on the financial support of powerful backers. It is not as if he simply opened a dojo and waited for recruits. Even the Iwama operation was made possible through supporters from Omoto-kyo. So Morihei's experience was really that of the small dojo with regular, dedicated students.

I think it is difficult to know to what extent Morihei Ueshiba and his son Kisshomaru thought aikido would survive WWII. There is some discussion of this in Kisshomaru's books, but in any case I think that the economic and political consequences of Japan's defeat made a return to a prewar style of dojo impossible. So now the Aikikai, like other organisations, pours out a stream of books and videos and relies on marketing techniques to attract practitioners. Morihei Ueshiba's books were privately printed and presented to dedicated students, both as a reward for past efforts and a spur to future efforts.

It is hard to make any judgements about the merits or demerits of this. Kisshomaru and a few close associates like Kisaburo Osawa and Shigenobu Okumura made a crucial decision and people like us were able to benefit from the consequences. But the idea of aikido as a mass martial art also carries the possibility that it will lose its mystery.

P A Goldsbury
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