Dojo: Aikikai of S.W. Conn. (formerly)
Location: Stamford Connecticut
Join Date: Nov 2010
Re: It Has to be Felt #0
Though I am still reading around in this excellent thread, which has attracted so many great posters and their posts, I am going to jump in again, because perhaps my advanced age (cough, cough) and lack of much training in recent decades, makes my early training and learning stand out in my memory.
Among my teachers in those early years were Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei, Mitsugi Saotome Sensei, and Terry Dobson Sensei. Many continued to study with them, I ended up changing jobs and getting married and staying connected with my birth family and my in-laws, which took a lot of time and focus, though I always wanted to get back to practicing Aikido. Like so many others I have read about on Aiki Web!
I was fortunate to learn from all three, and others, so that is why this thread and the OP and all the other posts are so fascinating to me. Frankly it didn't really bother me, I just accepted it as different "takes" on what Aikido meant to each teacher, and their ways of transmitting it. Terry was known to take educators, business people, and use the physical metaphors of Aikido to teach conflict resolution at special workshops at their schools or offices. He was a pioneer in this and I was very fortunate to be at that time and place, partly due to the fact my small YMCA dojo at the time was affiliated to the larger New Haven Aikikai, which went to seminars at Bond Street Dojo.
But I also had ties to my original dojo, which was New York Aikikai. I find it hard to accept the notion that just because Yamada Sensei did not speak about conflict resolution in societal terms, that it was not a strong basis of what was taught, how to "neutralize" the attack, how to "divert" it or whatever word is appropriate, I can't think of the perfect description here, but I guess that's okay too. What crossed my mind back then, during those days, is that it must be doing something to a person's deeper consciousness and attitude to life to, in the time and space of an Aikido class, be attacked, with, say, shomen uchi, dozens of times and (usually!) not be struck and not feel resentment.
It's not that every problem in life will roll off our backs like water off a duck's back (I often refer to the "duck oil" that some people seem to naturally have that keeps them from getting annoyed at small things)... But I do remember one of the New York Aikikai flyers at the time that said something about "In our frenetic world....." although I can't remember the exact words. Also the phrase "Have you ever felt that there must be a better way?" Please excuse any inaccuracies, but I'm sure I'm correct in remembering some of the basic themes of those little advertising flyers from the late 1960's and early 1970's.
Saotome Sensei was chosen, and accepted the request of Peter Shapiro, now teaching in France from what I read on Aiki Web many months ago, because he had focused on much of the Shinto teaching that O Sensei had spoken about. Peter was also a student of Michio Hikitsuchi Sensei, who was a Shinto Priest, whether or not officially registered as such with the Japanese government. Although, as has been stated elsewhere on Aiki Web, only the foreign student special classes had weapons training, and that was what was taught in those classes, Japanese culture and Shinto were discussed after training in the little coffee shop around the corner and across the street from Aikikai Hombu.
Sorry to be so long winded, but I wanted to explain at least a little of the spectrum that was available even in those comparatively early years. I don't think I'm qualified to post in Voices of Experience, if one counts actual months trained in each year, but maybe a report from the old days will further this discussion, which is a good one and I hope it continues. In closing, I'd like to mention that Saotome Sensei emphasized that the meaning of the word Samurai had within it the concept of Protection.
Anyway, these teachers are still around, thankfully, and anyone can look them up. Even in the case of Terry, who unfortunately for us, passed on, his books and his students are still around.
Whew! Now I've said a mouthful, but I hope I've added a little perspective on the background of these different points of view mentioned on this thread. Some are from the lineages, and some are from the individual backgrounds and other studies of the individual posters and are very fascinating to me. Thanks, everyone!
Last edited by Diana Frese : 10-02-2012 at 08:58 AM.