Re: The Founder's Teaching Ability
Hello everyone again,
This discussion fascinates me. There has been some great well written and thought out comments main.
Being aware of the rumor a film existing of Takeda's, maybe someday seen by the public, YouTube! Until then all the public has is personal interpretations of Takeda's abilities. The difficulty presented with personal interpretation is accuracy.
I am aware of one certain story of Takeda's aiki being used with a bath towel. It was witnessed by the Japanese public of the time. I don't know where the account was first penned or the author. My speculation is it was a third party. The account of the eye witness say Takeda put "aiki in" a bath towel to make it rigid, turning it into a weapon fighting off attackers. Years later the event was interpreted by John Stevens differently, who basically said the towel was limp when used as a weapon. Perspective plays a huge factor interpretation accuracy. Making defining Takeda's aiki all that much harder.
An undefined aiki, opens the door to all kinds of personal interpretations. A film helps pin things down, but it doesn't make it definitive. A popular phrase used is, "you have to feel aiki, to understand aiki" when defining aiki. Maybe not the exact phrase, but it gets the idea across. People understand that to communicate aiki isn't something you can write down, it is something you have to feel an aspect important to definition. The danger of that is we loop back to personal interpretation. Even if a film exists and is seen by the public, Takeda's aiki will still be debated. The only exception I see is in the film is if Takeda does something remarkable like transform the state of a towel. A feat that can't be compared to any of his students. A film does reduce the number of personal interpretations, and speculations
Aiki as I have come to know it, is invisible. Aiki isn't seen. When aiki is demonstrated by the caliber of the founder, what we see is the result the control of the attacker in someway. Depending on how the attacker reacts and is controlled is used to measure aiki. The more control there is over the attacker eliciting a high level of violent and contorted reactions will have people saying that is aiki. Amplifying that effect is when, we see the person using aiki have their movements go undetected by an observer or go against the rational understanding of movement. A common thing I hear is, how did that teacher 5'5 105 lbs teacher throw that 6'2' 270 lbs student so effortlessly barely moving at all. I remember watching a film of the Founder for the first time thinking along the same lines, being told that was aiki. I didn't realize at the time, I couldn't see what was creating the grand results. Of course it was the Founder's interpretation of Takeda's aiki. Because aiki is invisible in terms of Takeda's use, it makes it even harder for a Takeda definition, visual observation is enough.
Takeda has passed away, it is impossible to completely define aiki. We will never know completely what Takeda defined as aiki. It is lost to time. Some will argue this isn't true, that we can define aiki. Stressing we know what aiki is as a result of this or that teacher's ability. I see that. But those teacher's aiki is an interpretation of either Takeda or of his student's abilities. Obviously, not everyone has the same interpretation, some are better than others. I am comfortable saying that interpretation changes greatly farther removed from the source, Takeda. The interpretation changes even greater way from the source when it is based on outside speculation. The further away from the source the greater the margin of interpretation and change, the more we move away from an accurate definition. It is my personal belief for this reason, there is great stress put on the preservation of technique. Preserving technique done in the same way as Takeda, unaltered works great for technique, but it hasn't worked so well for preserving Takeda's aiki.
The concept of aiki predates Takeda, with no single definitive definition. Takeda didn't create a definitive definition beyond his life that wasn't subjected to personal interpretation. I believe we will never really know Takeda's aiki. In his efforts to protect his abilities by being secretive, I don't think he was aware of the pandora's box he created that would be so readily opened.
I do enjoy reading everyone's opinion and thoughts. Am very thankful for this opportunity.