View Single Post
Old 02-07-2013, 09:36 PM   #9
Dan Richards
Dojo: Latham Eclectic
Location: NY
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 452
Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Chris, I agree there was a shift by degrees over time. So, I don't think the 180 came all at once. He was moving in that direction, but hadn't made a complete shift in polarity. It's like he'd been moving a dimmer switch, and there were incremental increases in the "mood" lighting. But it wasn't until the polarity completely reached 180 degrees from the "off/war" position to the "on/peace" position that the house lights really came on. It was at that point that he truly moved into "walking the talk."

We've got to keep in mind that Ueshiba was taught by, and came from, lineages of people who passed on the arts of hurting and killing people. It was in his psyche. And he didn't suddenly release all of that after his 1925 "experience." He started talking about it. But he didn't renounce violence and become a monk. He was still teaching aiki-jujutsu under the licenses from Takeda until the mid 30's.

I'd be interested in knowing from anyone who might have more specifics on the history: How long did Ueshiba openly take on challengers in the dojo?

Thanks for that link, Eric.

Kido stated that while the peace party and the war party had previously been equally balanced in the scale, the atomic bomb helped to tip the balance in favor of the peace party.
Which even adds the idea here that wasn't just Ueshiba. I mean, the American-occupied Japan outlawed martial arts. After the war, all the do versions were formulated. Watered down versions closer to gymnastics courses all given at the Budokan. That's when Konishi, Kano, and others had to come up with and submit a systematic curriculum that was approved by the government. Karate-do was reformatted. The name "aikido" was suggested at that point. Ueshiba didn't come up with it.

AIkido reminds me a lot of the Spanish going into the Phillippines. (Initially the stick-armed Filipinos even managed to beat the sword-armed Spaniards.) Evenly the Spanish won, and took over the Phillippines. And the Spanish banned the practice and training of martial arts there. The Filipinos, though, keep up these "dances" they had, and wore costumes with openly concealed information. They - as well as many other cultures invaded by other countries - hide their arts in "dances."

Under K. Ueshiba, Aikido essentially grabbed the old model of the emperor hierarchy pyramid, and started building right back up. Placing the Ueshiba family at the top. Post-war practitioners were quickly graded to very high dan levels and later dispatched overseas with, in many cases, a decade's worth of experience or less. With little to no training on the real internal workings of the art. And they brought up students, and created big top-down pyramids. And top-down propaganda

The aikido most people see and train that looks like "dance" is, in many cases, just that.

Japan had never been occupied by a foreign power, and the arrival of the Americans with strong ideas about transforming Japan into a peaceful democracy had a major long-term impact. Japan came under the firm direction of American General Douglas MacArthur, The main American objective was to turn Japan into a peaceful nation and to establish democratic self-government. The occupation transformed the Japanese government into an engine of production, wealth redistribution, and social reform. Political reforms included a freely elected Japanese Diet (legislature) and universal adult suffrage. The Occupation emphasized land reform so that tenant farmers became owners of their rice paddies, and stimulated the formation of powerful labor unions that gave workers a say in industrial democracy. The great zaibatsu business conglomerates were broken up, consumer culture was encouraged, education was radically reformed and democratized, and the Shinto-basis of emperor worship was ended. Historian John Dower says the "visible hand" of New Deal-inspired state leadership, while keeping a capitalist economy, was welcomed by a battered and humiliated Japanese society that was eager to find a peaceful route forward into prosperity.
Post-war Japan was controlled by the Americans. If Aikido is the Art of Peace, it would seem that the American's are as responsible as anyone for putting the "peace" in the equation. And actually the inner "art" - the chi/ki development part - comes more from China. The dan/kyu grades come from Go which is a Chinese game. Stanley Pranin, an American, has been not only the single-most person responsible for piecing together the once very sketchy, and often questionable, history of Aikido, has was also the catalyst for at least getting some of the severely-fracture "styles" and teachers together - if even just for a few days.

It's become obvious by the rise of people like Dan Harden (American), Mike Sigman (American), and Akuzawa Minoru (Chinese-trained Japanese) that there have been some major core pieces of the puzzle that have been missing from much of what has been passed off to the public as Aikido. One thing that people do in peacetime is share. We share experiences, and we share knowledge and information.

Maybe we could start hanging another picture in our dojos. One to remind us that technology and open communication and sharing are more responsible for peace, and that the emperor-hierarchy-protect-at-all-costs model is exactly what got Japan in such trouble as we began moving into a more open and peaceful world.
  Reply With Quote