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Old 12-07-2011, 03:23 PM   #64
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Re: The Founder's Teaching Ability

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I think we might change the question from teaching "ability" to teaching "methodology". The methodology clearly changed over the years as the subject matter changed.
Hi George,

Perhaps you are right, here. I think Ueshiba's "ability" to teach was just fine. I think his "methodology" was not as clear.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
The 30's deshi were doing Daito Ryu originally. The material was different, it was still forms based early on. As O-Sensei moved in what he called Aiki Budo, this started to change a bit, but not that much. I have talked to folks who trained under '30s deshi and also have a Daito Ryu background and the all comment on the fact that what they were taught as "Aikido" was very Daito Ryu - like.

Even when you get to Saito Sensei, you find him walking around with O-Sensei's book from the pre-war period saying "See, I didn't change a thing." and Saito really was the last deshi to be systematically taught technique by the Founder.

By the time you get to Saotome Sensei's day, it was quite different. Saotome Sensei always said that he could remember three times in fifteen years in which O-Sensei talked in class about "how" to do a technique. Now, this reflects in the extremely wide range of interpretation and actually ability in the post war deshi.
I think it was different ... but for other reasons. Let me detail out why.

First, let me go over the pre-war time and how often Ueshiba was at the Kobukan.

===
From 1926 until the outbreak of World War II, O-Sensei maintained a heavy teaching schedule centering his activities in Tokyo. His students were primarily military officers and person of high social standing and his teaching services were in constant demand. He was obliged to travel extensively around the country and made almost yearly visits to Manchuria, then under Japanese political control.

There was actually only a small amount of training in those years for the prewar students and only a few actually trained more than five years. Adding to that, Ueshiba had a very busy traveling schedule as he went to various places to train people. Morihiro Saito even mentions how busy Ueshiba was traveling before the war.

In fact, after Mochizuki opened his dojo around 1931, he stated that when Ueshiba would travel each month to Kyoto to teach Omoto kyo followers, that Ueshiba would stop at Mochizuki's dojo to teach there for two to three days. It has been said that Ueshiba spent one to two weeks per month away from the Kobukan dojo. Between the actual travel times and the teaching times, Ueshiba was not at the Kobukan dojo regularly.

Aiki News Issue 027
Aiki News Issue 013
http://www.yoseikanbudo.com/eng/minorumochizuki.shtml
Aiki News Issue 054
===

Now, let's just take a look at *how* Ueshiba was teaching in pre-war:

===
Takako Kunigoshi and Zenzaburo Akazawa relate their memories of training and that Ueshiba would show a technique but not explain it. Rinjiro Shirata, another pre-war student, gives some more details about Ueshiba's teaching style.

"We never practiced techniques in any specific order. It was not a practice where we were taught. As I told you before, Ueshiba had his own training. Therefore, he practiced techniques as he wanted. That was his training. Ueshiba Sensei's way of explaining techniques was first of all to give the names of kamisama (deities). After that, he explained the movement. He told us, "Aikido originally didn't have any form. The movements of the body in response to one's state of mind became the techniques."

and

" in our time, Ueshiba Sensei didn't teach systematically. While we learned we had to systemize each technique in our mind so it was very hard. Ueshiba Sensei didn't have techniques. He said: "There are no techniques. What you express each time is a technique." "

However, Hisao Kimata notes that sometimes Ueshiba did explain while at other times, it was up to the student to figure things out. But, overall, the continuing theme from these students was that there was either no explanations or very little.

Yoshio Sugino remembers Ueshiba quickly showing a technique once and then having the students practice without detailed explanations. It is also interesting to see what Shioda thought about Ueshiba's teaching methods.

"Our way of training was, for example, to hold Ueshiba Sensei's hands or shoulders or seize him from behind and he would free himself from our grip. He would merely say to us, "Master it and forget it". "

and

"I know that Ueshiba Sensei's techniques were wonderful, but what he did one day was completely different from the day before. Since Ueshiba Sensei did whatever came into his mind, those who were training watched what he was doing without understanding. There were nothing at all like the basics we do today. He would do whatever came to his mind."

and

"As mentioned earlier, at the Ueshiba Dojo in the old days we didn't explicitly have any pre-set forms. The only thing the students could do was copy the techniques that Sensei performed on their own. In terms of instruction, the only thing we were told was to "become one with heaven and earth." "

Minoru Mochizuki relates that Ueshiba wasn't concerned with teaching and was using his students merely as training partners. Stan Pranin writes about the pre-war era, "Morihei's teaching style was long on action and short on words. He would execute techniques in rapid succession with almost no explanation."

Aiki News Issue 047
Aiki News Issue 062
Aiki News Issue 063
Aiki News Issue 049
Aiki News Issue 069
Aiki News Issue 80
Aiki News Issue 93
Aikido Shugyo by Gozo Shioda
Black Belt 1989 Vol 27 No 8
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=193
===

Now, let's take a look at what Ueshiba said while teaching in the pre-war era:

===
Ueshiba had about ten years before the Kobukan dojo opened to refine his spiritual ideology. Takako Kunigoshi states that there wasn't anyone who could understand Ueshiba. Shirata remembers Ueshiba giving the names of kamisama as explanations. Mochizuki considered Ueshiba a "primitive genius who couldn't explain anything." In fact, Mochizuki goes on to say that Ueshiba wouldn't explain but would rather say it came from God. Hikitsuchi remembers this about training, "So, O-Sensei would teach by talking about the (kototama) origins of the waza and teach how it came into existence" and this, "There was no pattern to O-Sensei's waza. It was kamigoto (divine working)".

Aiki News 047
Aiki News Issue 062
Black Belt 1980 Vol 18 No 4
Black Belt 1989 Vol 27 No 8
http://www.aikidokids.hu/eng/media/readings4.htm
===

Sounds a lot like the post-war period. Ueshiba not at the dojo often, doesn't explain often, just does whatever he wants in the way of techniques, and is always talking about spiritual stuff very few understood. Didn't matter post-war or pre-war.

So, yes, I agree with you when you state, "By the time you get to Saotome Sensei's day, it was quite different." But, it doesn't *appear* to be different because Ueshiba was doing something different. What the exact differences were ... that's still quite controversial.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Now, there are various interpretations of why this happened. My own personal take on this is that O-Sensei was simply teaching what he thought was important. He had trained several generations of teachers by this point. I simply don't think he felt he needed to be teaching technique, which any number of his senior students could do. What he thought of as his mission was to pass on the spiritual / philosophical underpinnings that underlay the technique. I think O-Sensei felt that this was the are that he could do that perhaps none of his students could quite do as well. So, his interest was in passing on the spiritual while his students more or less were interested in technique, by all accounts.
As I noted, Ueshiba had plenty of time to get settled into his spiritual ideology before the pre-war students arrived. And many of them stated they didn't know what he was talking about, so I'm not sure what you mean here. Ueshiba always had senior students to teach technique, both pre-war and post-war. He always waxed eloquent about his spiritual ideology, both pre-war and post-war. So, what was the difference in his spiritual ideology that he thought was more important post-war than pre-war?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
This system only works when you have some sort of technical hierarchy of teachers. It's fine for the big guy to get all ethereal and wax philosophical as long as somebody else is around to teach people where to put their feet. So, it's not lack of teaching "ability" that was what caused some problems with the transmission, it was his disinterest in focusing on technical details.
As far as I can tell, in both pre-war and post-war, Ueshiba had a technical hierarchy of teachers. Of course, there were major differences in what and how the pre-war students trained compared to post-war. So, where do we look for why that came to be?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Who thinks that O-Sensei didn't notice that there was a qualitative difference (not better or worse but clearly different) between the post war deshi and Mochizuki, Shioda, Tomiki, and Shirata? Could you really maintain that he sat there bemoaning the fact that his post war students didn't have all the same skills his earlier students had had then did nothing to fix it? He simply showed no interest whatever in that issue. What I am saying is that, would he have been happy if his post war students had had an even deeper understanding of his waza than they did?
I think he would have been happy had the post-war students had a deeper understanding. However, he was retired, spent time in Iwama away from Tokyo, spent time entertaining guests away from teaching, spent time on the road, spent time farming, and most importantly, left Tokyo in Kisshomaru's hands. It wasn't Morihei Ueshiba who set the daily activities in Tokyo, it was Kisshomaru. (Not saying good, bad, right or wrong here).

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
So, making judgements about his ability to teach technique when he wasn't trying to teach technique is a bit silly. Clearly, back in the day, he knew how to teach technique when he wanted. He just wasn't interested... he had other folks who could do that, to his satisfaction I think.
What if pre-war wasn't about techniques? They trained sumo in pre-war, did joint locks as a body conditioning exercises (not a technique), etc. So, what does Ueshiba do when he visits Tokyo, a place he left his son in charge of, and finds that he really can't change how things are taught. More than that, he only has a short morning class (when he is actually there, which isn't often). The rest of the class is taught by ... seniors, who are ... appointed by Kisshomaru, who has set the outline of how things work.

Now, in pre-war, the outline of how things work, are taught, what is focused on, etc was set by Ueshiba (which at that time was Daito ryu). His senior students taught what he wanted when he was gone. In Tokyo, the senior students taught ... what Kisshomaru wanted (or Tohei for a time). Big difference.

Well, in my opinion anyway.

Mark
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