Thread: Aikido and Budo
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Old 02-26-2013, 10:22 PM   #12
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
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Re: Aikido and Budo

Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
This interview was new to me and touches on some issues that get a lot of discussion here. Among other things, the future of the Aikikai and international organizational issues, the nature of teaching & ranking, etc... Yamada Sensei said several things that I find thought provoking
Hello Mr Kasavan,

When you state, "issues that get a lot of discussion here", do you mean here on AikiWeb or in your own dojo or organization? I know Yamada Shihan quite well and when we meet we inevitably talk about such issues, but I am pleasantly surprised if they are being discussed by his senior students also.

Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
for the context, the full article is well worth reading, and is at

here are some quotes,

"As I said before, what is good about aikido is also the problem of aikido. I don't call aikido ‘budo' anymore because what makes Aikido so popular is its flexibility, lack of competition, no physical requirements. Anybody can practice. That is a good part of aikido. I'm always happy to see people who have a physical problem that would prevent them from practicing other martial arts enjoying themselves with aikido. That is the beauty of Aikido. If Aikido were pure budo, it wouldn't be so popular.... " Y. Yamada
I think this is a postwar development for which Kisshomaru Ueshiba was largely responsible, though I am not sure how carefully he and his colleagues at the Aikikai thought through the future consequences of this development. One of the distinctive features of the postwar Aikikai in Japan under his control was the variety of ‘styles', if you like, and you can see this at the annual All-Japan demonstration, held each year in May.

However, one of the problems of aikido that Yamada Shihan did not touch upon in the extracts you quoted is that of finding and developing good teachers. I think this is more sharply emphasized as a problem outside Japan than it is here. The fact that he did not touch on it does not mean that he has not thought about this problem and I think it is a source of pride with him that he has done his best to prepare the USAF for the time when he is no longer around.

A common problem here is how you teach the teachers and I suspect that the model offered by Morihei Ueshiba himself is one of the things that changed after the war.

Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
"Well, the ranking system in aikido is another headache. I personally disagree with this system. A teaching certificate is okay, a black belt is okay. But after that, no numbers, no shodan, no nidan, etc. People know who is good and who is bad. ..." Y. Yamada
Again, I suspect that this is one of things that changed after 1942. Again, I am not sure how carefully the Aikikai thought through the consequences of adopting a system that is really based on competition. I think a ranking system was introduced, of course, 'for serious educational reasons' and the children had coloured belts, also, as they worked downwards through the kyu system. To stop at shodan would have been impossible to contemplate, especially since the increasing fees charged for each dan rank have become a source of income for the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. What Yamada Shihan appears to be contemplating is a return to something like the menkyo licensing system. Have you had any discussion in the USAF about how such a system would work?

Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
"...In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality."Y. Yamada
Actually, this is a pretty damning statement, if you think about it.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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