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Old 12-02-2011, 01:31 PM   #60
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

Ken McGrew wrote: View Post
Their claims are that Saotome Sensei did not learn the real Aiki of Aikido from O Sensei, because their claim is that no one did, and that O Sensei retired in 1941. What is at issue here are not dates but all the detailed accounts that Saotome Sensei, and other direct students, have given about their time with O Sensei, the fact that O Sensei believed he had improved Aikido after the war, and the fact that he was happy with their understanding of Aiki and Aikido. Read the posts. This is their real agenda.
Ken, I am on record in any number of posts over the years that I disagree with the conclusions that folks take from the presented facts. But it was Saotome Sensei himself that stated that he could remember three times in his fifteen years with O-Sensei that the Founder actually talked about how to do technique". So by any measure we would use here in the West, he wasn't teaching technique but demonstrating principle. The breadth of variation on the parts of the deshi as to what they understood of this is staggering. I am sorry but I can see no evidence of anything coherent that one could call post war Aikido from a stylistic standpoint. You go fro Arikawa to Tohei, from Yamaguchi to Isoyama, a Chiba and a Saotome. It's difficult to see anything one could claim was a style of Aikido and certainly nothing that looked much like what the Founder was doing.

It's clear that Saotome Sensei figured some of this out. In my opinion the man is a genius. Even before I lost my weight, at 338 pounds, I could go straight at him and he could drop me in my butt with a shrug of the shoulders. Now that i understand more of what is happening with internal structure tec, I can see that Sensei worked a lot of this out. But the idea that he was taught his by O-Sensei is not born out by sensei;'s own statements that O-Sensei never explained much of anything. Some deshi worked it out, others didn't. One merely has to go on YouTube and look at videos to see this fact.

The truly important fact in all this is that Sensei didn't know how to teach these skills any more than the Founder did. He has shown us over and over and expressed his frustrations with everyone's inability to "get it". So, for most of us, we have needed help to understand it. Maybe if we were geniuses like Saotome Sensei, we wouldn't have needed to, but I sure needed help. Ikeda Sensei himself said "Sensei has been showing us all this stuff for years but we were simply too stupid to get it." And I am the first one to acknowledge where I got that help and encourage folks to get help themselves. It shortens the learning curve by decades. If folks were going to "get it" simply by training hard for years and years one would expect to see a lot of great Aikido. This is certainly not evident. So, I think most folks would do well to work with some folks who can really "teach" so that they can in turn really benefit from what someone like Saotome Sensei is showing. As far as I am concerned this si what it is all about... training myself up to the point at which my teacher can teach what he is trying to teach and I am ready to understand it and not be wasting his quite limited time. To do that, i'll train with anyone who can help me who isn't abusive or immoral. I do not have to agree with their conclusions as long as they have the demonstrated ability to teach me what i need to know. I am the Aikido teacher, they are not. It's my business what i do with what they have taught me. To their credit these various teachers have offered their instruction with no strings attached, just their respect and friendship. That's real Budo as far as I am concerned.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside