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Old 04-15-2013, 07:36 AM   #15
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 243
Re: Has anyone surpassed O'Sensei?

Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
This may sound like a controversial question, but do you think there has been anyone who has surpassed O'Sensei's technical ability? (I'm thinking particularly of Ueshiba's uchideshi or the former and current doshu his son and grandson)

In this old footage of O'Sensei from 1930, his demonstration looks well "soft" - by that I mean his ukes look as if they are very compliant and their ukemi looks exaggerated. They seem to break fall very easily and very dramatically, especially in the hamni handachi waza.

Also he seems to hold his arms out a lot, which make the techniques look unrealistic - it's not so much his uke attacking him but rather complying with his leading...much like a dance!

Now please don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to criticise O'Sensei or Aikido - I have a deep respect for both - it's just that I have seen more convincing Aikido demonstrations that I would recommend to people as examples of the brilliance of this wonderful art over this. It's for that reason I dare to ask the question, because it strikes me odd that I would be more embarrassed to show a demonstration by the founder of Aikido than one of his students or current doshu. It's also got nothing to do with whose Aikido is more martially effective. That is not the point of my observation here. It's purely about technical ability.

If anyone can give an explanation as to what O'Sensei is doing in this old demonstration that I am missing, which would help me appreciate his technique here, I would be very grateful.
This is a question that works like a black hole. It will swallow every answer and in the end all that one will be able to see is the dark emptiness.
Someone mentioned above that this question cannot be answered, i'd say that, in my opinion, this question cannot be asked. I don't mean that in a "taboo" sort of way because i think that anyone can be judged and analysed, but i mean it in a practical way.
In order to ask something like that you need to set the context and the criteria for this analysis, but in that case that is impossible.
Technical mastery should be judged by its effectiveness especially in a martial art, but effectiveness in what? Fighting? A martial artist cannot be judged only by that, but even if that was the case how can one judge one's effectiveness in fight by a video demo?
There are masters that have reached such a level where their Aikido is effortless and looks fake, so it has to be felt in order to be understood.
And yet we can never know if the way a master is demonstrating, is the way he would fight in a real self defence situation.
Most of all, we don't know all the teachers, do we? Perhaps there is someone 100 times better than o' sensei but he is teaching his few students in a basement dojo because this is his choice and his students are the only ones who know about him.
Even if we knew all the teachers in the world what would we do? Compare them?
Imaginary dialogue:
O1:I believe that Steven Seagal sensei is better than o'sensei because i have seen videos of him being a master already at the age of 30.
O2:Yes but i have seen videos of him being very fat at the age of 60 while o'sensei he was certainly not and that is hardly the way a master should look. Furthermore we know that o'sensei was practicing well into his 80s, will Seagal sensei be able to do that when he reaches that age?
O1:I disagree, Seagal had to surpass many obstacles being a westerner teaching in Japan while o'sensei was respected and had infuantial friends to help him spread Aikido.
O2:Yes but on the other hand o'sensei had to collect the pieces to make aikido while Seagal found it ready all he had to do was practice it.And he also became a movie star, he had all the time and money in the world in order to be able to practice, yet he became fat!
You see this is the point where such a comparison turns into a black hole and swallows every opinion that touches its event horizon.
As for the original question my personal answer would be: I hope so! Because without evolution the art will fade away.
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