Location: Portland, OR
Join Date: Mar 2007
"Love of Aikido," or "It's not about THEM, it's about AIKI ME!," or "Duck and cover!"
I've trained more than once with Rob and Ark (Very Powerful!), "touched" Mike S. once (the day after hemorrhoid surgery and a 7 hour drive to, and from, Seattle - best not remembered!), had the pleasure of training BJJ & Self Defense with Tim C. more than once (Great Teacher IMHO!). I met and began training with Dan Harden about a year and nine months ago and that is all I've been seriously working on since that time. I put aside 35 years of weight training and ceased 40 years of waza practice, including resigning a licensed position under one of the foremost Koryu Jujutsu teachers in the world. I'm serious about developing Aiki. So far no regrets. As when Shirata sensei died, if Dan were to "get called up" I don't think I'd have any inclination to learn from anyone else, unless by some unlikely coincidence I found yet another individual teaching/training the same thing*, in the same manner, with the same teaching and demonstrable abilities, and (of great importance to me) with the same high moral character.
It simply blows my mind that both of these rare gentlemen are/were active during my life and I have/had the opportunity to learn from both. No, they are/were not "god-like" nor would they every allow me to attribute that quality to them. Rather, they are/were all too fallible human beings that set themselves apart by their unrelenting striving to be better . . . human beings and Aiki Do ka.
Everyone seriously training has a model of some sort. IMO those seriously trying to improve allow for flexibility in (and sometimes a substitution of) the evolving model of their understandings and experiences. The ones I see improving the most rapidly are those with a penchant for thinking for themselves, deeply and broadly researching relevant physical, oral, and written information, training fanatically and never being satisfied with the results produced regardless of how many individuals think they are "a cut above" or by those that attribute their growing power to normal physical strength or refined technique.
The deal breaker for most that gain any interest in this is, and will be, the unavoidable fact that one must "check one's ego at the door" to progress. As an example, the "newest," youngest, and "lowest ranked" guy in our dojo is by far the strongest in Aiki among us. He reflects all of the qualities I've listed above. Results are results and should not be denied or explained away if one is sincere and honest. One must stare the reality of results in the face and accept the implications made evident by those results. Although I suspect that our "newest," youngest, "lowest ranked" talent would readily point out that his results are a product of quality instruction and collaborative effort, he is clearly doing something right DESPITE of, not entirely BECAUSE of, our collected experience, rank, etc. That being the case, guess who I listen to in my dojo when he talks about what he is doing to get results! Sure sucks for my ego but its great for my training! I don't really need to travel outside my own dojo for the best training of this stuff I'm aware of beyond training with Dan . . . too bad it isn't all because of me . . . Or maybe NOT too bad, I've observed Budo celebrity being the "kiss of death" more times than I care to remember!
I'm really sick today, hence my weakness prompting me to post here today. Personally I'm perfectly comfortable letting people "do their own thing." I think that is because I've already spent decades doing "my own different Aiki thing" all the while being told what I was doing wasn't Aikido, and/or sometimes negatively or just erroneously typified, etc. No big deal! I get to do what I love, share (learning and training) with those of similar interest and make great friends along the way.
Not that I'm criticizing the internet or AikiWeb. If it weren't for Jun's board and for Dan's prolific early posting I likely wouldn't have ever known about him, much less recognize in his words the very teachings and phenomena shared with me by Shirata sensei decades ago. So I don't begrudge the next person who decides that there is something here worth exploring. I don't begrudge my respected friends in Budo who rationally doubt the hearsay since it contradicts their decades of experience training, teaching and fighting around the world. Rather, I respect them for, and completely understand their rational doubts, although any of those same friends that have met Dan have never doubted thereafter! I just find my time is better spent training . . . unless I'm sick. My son is too. We're hanging out being miserable together!
Each with our own bowl . . . [:-(
*Aiki as felt and taught by my teacher Shirata Rinjiro, licensed Instructor of Daito Ryu (via Ueshiba under authority of Takeda Sokaku, whom I understand he also trained with in Ueshiba's Osaka dojo) and Aikido 10th Dan (via Kishimaru Ueshiba whom I understand to have asked Shirata to censor his teaching as it did not conform to Kishomaru's modern goals.) A man who trained and taught under Ueshiba Morihei in both Daito Ryu AND Aikido back when the books being used by later sensei as evidence of his teaching Ueshiba's waza (More power to him and his students!) were created. A man who DID understand Omoto and Shinto terminology, as he was raised in it and appointed by Ueshiba Morihei to teach at the Budo Senyokai in his teacher's stead for that very reason. He also used that very same terminology some sixty years later to describe Aikido as he learned it from the teacher he dedicated his life to serving, Ueshiba Morihei. And, yes, that terminology was the same as Ueshiba Morihei used in Takemusu Aiki and in Aiki Shinzui, and matches terminology and concepts used in Japan easily traceable to the 800's, which we know, via recorded history, came to Japan from China and India via Chinese priests, Japanese priests trained in China, and even (at least one that I recall) Indian priest that came to Japan. The same mumbo jumbo that many, if not most of Ueshiba's direct students and those later Hombu uchideshi at least profoundly touched and inspired by the elderly Ueshiba admittedly could not comprehend and therefore longed to "get on with" their regular practice.