Saotome entered Hombu Dojo as an uchideshi in 1961. O-sensei died in 1969. Eight years. In a decade when Morihei didn't teach a regular class at Hombu dojo. Between 1955 and 1961, Saotome was in Kuwamori Dojo and then Kyoto. Since he couldn't be in two places at once, then he wasn't on the mat at Hombu with Morihei.
This inflation of one's closeness to Morihei occurs with many shihan who went abroad. Each one is supposed to be Osensei's "favorite uke" or some such title.
Sounds like misuse of the word inflation to me, or double standards.
Is anyone EVER that specific about how much time they trained with someone?
I can say I trained with my teacher for 15 years and it could be checked and verified. But is it true? How much on mat training with him personally does that boil down to? We would have to work it out in terms of hours.
All uchideshi at hombu in those days trained with ueshiba. Therefore if they were 'members' for 10, fifteen or whatever years then they could rightly say they were uchideshi for that time, and taught and had personal teaching from etc.etc. It was a programme you know. All uchideshi were taught by all the senior instructors from Arikawa to Tohei etc.
How long have you trained with your teacher? Go on, you're going to tell me in number of years arn't you?
So that's not inflation yet it's not the truth if I want to boil it down. Why would someone want to boil it down?
It's not a Japanese thing to talk like this, it's a human thing. Words like favourite may then venture into inflation.
How many times have I met Americans who say they served in the vietnam war or English who say how they served in the falklands or Afghanistan etc. like a badge of honour complete with number of years. It's a human thing.
On closer inspection you may have to ask 'As what?' and many other questions, a favourite pastime of historians.
But inflation is a funny thing. Some people put down others to over-inflate what they do. Ain't life funny?
Has America or anywhere had a situation like those times being talked about, where you train and get taught by maybe seven, eight, nine, different teachers in their own right, thus experiencing all the differences and then also experiencing the masters too? All done in a vibe of newness, representing a new vibrant art. Simple answer: no.
For me, all you need to know is that if a person was around at that time and got accepted as an uchideshi then that person went through a heavy programme and thus has some goods. Simple.