Peter A Goldsbury
Hello Mr Burke,
With respect, I disagree. I have felt 'this stuff' from others (not from Mr Harden) and I have no doubts about the 'potential it can unlock in a person,' as you put it. However, much of the recent discussion concerns a specific statement made in Post #15, about 'many types of martial artists and fighters including a BJJ champ and several MMA-ers.' I should add that I think the questions asked by Demetrio Cereijo were quite reasonable.
In an effort to bring the thread back on track, I would like to ask you a question. The question is a restatement of the question asked by Lee Salzman in Post #2 and your answer in Post #3. You discussed the riai of your school and mentioned that the three methods as practiced were insufficient:
"for developing the type of dantien necessary for creating IP and manifesting Yin and Yang in the body. Without such a properly developed dantien, there can be no Aiki, the manifestation of Yin and Yang (or In and Yo if you prefer) from any point of contact. Additionally, there is no framework for the development of intent, which really is the heart of the matter and the true driver of all of these endeavors"
Was this because Saito Morihiro did not teach this? Was it because he taught it, but you could not 'see' it? Was it something that you had to 'steal', as Morihei Ueshiba also seems to have required his students to do?
I knew Saito Shihan and the seminars I attended were mainly around the time he was writing the books you mention and a supplementary question concerns these volumes, which, as you know, were translated by William Witt, Kyoichiro Nunokawa and Dennis N Tatoian, who presumably were his students. Are there any other places where you think the English translation is inaccurate or unsatisfactory, or the Japanese text is obscure?
P A Goldsbury
I too think that Demetrio's questions are quite reasonable and can be answered very easily by asking Mr. Harden in person, something I'm trying to arrange.
As far as I and everybody else knows Saito Sensei taught everything that he knew openly through the waza and weapons work (unless there was a super double secret inner circle which I know nothing about). Of course
I could have missed something I was intended to steal. I think the greater point here is why spend decades trying to steal something when you can be instructed directly. Now that I've received such instruction I can look back at what I have learned and see just how inefficient stealing is as a learning structure. Who cares if it's supposedly traditional, it is a bad way to learn. Period.
The risk that "stealing knowledge" runs is that as time marches on, the outside form of practice focuses to what works in the immediate. Who can notice the subtle lessons when we're all instructed as uke to grab harder, attack harder, go full out! Soon, we learn that the beefiest and strongest of us can't be moved, therefore their way is the
way. Upper body strength, wrenching joints, those rule the day. It is happening now, I've felt that too. We may disagree on that point, and that's fine.
As for the books, I find the English translations to be generally good but spotty throughout. Clunky turns of phrase that cause the reader to skip ahead and consider the really important material gibberish. I've heard it from too many people, that all the Fire, Water, In Yo stuff is just the old man rambling. Just grab someone and do nikkyo! Having been instructed in what Fire and Water represent, what Heaven, Earth, Man means and how they are used in a training model, I'm glad I don't have to make uneducated guesses based off of wonky text anymore. Perhaps what is needed is less a re-translation and more an accompanying commentary. Otherwise we're left with a chunk of dead space that gets flipped past so that we can see the cool pictures and say, wow Hitohiro looked so young!
I only met Saito once. Sweet man, very sleepy at the time. Jet lag. This would be 94 or 95 if my memory serves. My fondest memory was of watching him yawn while all the seminar participants practiced their techniques, ki-ais echoing everywhere. I watched him do something curious, he put his forearm against a support beam and opened his hand, curling it in kokyu. He matched the movement with his opposite hand. Kokyu, he would later say. Use kokyu when you perform techniques. Sadly I never got hands on with him, I was a lowly 5th kyu and there was an invisible velvet rope between me and Sensei. My older brother did, he was an ichi deshi for several months. He told me that when he grabbed Saito it felt like slipping on ice.
For years later, all the teachers I knew would say the same thing, use kokyu. Kokyu ryoku, arms out, techniques with breath power. 19 years I did that. Witt Sensei too, (awesome guy BTW, highly recommended) I've grabbed him, he turned his hands. Kokyu, very powerful stuff. Never felt the ice though.
Until I met Mr. Harden. For all that time, up until that meeting, what I felt and what I thought I was doing. That was not kokyu. Subtle mechanical levering, yes, but not kokyu-ho. Mr. Harden demonstrated this for me and explained it to me, and most importantly I didn't have to spend half my life trying to steal it
. I guess I could have gone on another 20 years or so, name checking all the teachers I knew over the course of my life and turning my hand and waxing on about, oh who knows what. Or I could just get someone to teach it to me. For real.
And there it is.