I'm going to state a disclaimer first: this post is in no way, shape or form meant to be disrespectful, and the questions I ask aren't rhetorical or intended to start an argument; they are sincere. I've been practicing Aikido for about 8 months, which makes me pretty much a newcomer to the Art. Throughout my "career" (so far)I've heard all sorts of things regarding O'Sensei's abilities as a martial artist, as well as a philosopher (or "Warrior- Sage" as Ellis Amdur's book cals him). I've also read the biographies on O'Sensei by John Stevens Sensei, as well as several other sources (such as books by his disciples like Saotome Sensei). Basically I've heard he used to do some pretty far out stuff, like jumping straight up 5 meters in the air and scamper away on rooftops like a "ninja"; or the story about being 25 meters away from a rifle squad about to fire on him, when they do fire on him he's behind them in a split second WITHOUT ANYONE SEEING HIM MOVE! Or the story of how a stage performer friend asked him to teach her Naginata movements; he told her to come back the next day, which she did, and he later claimed an old hero of a book on feudal Japan appeared as he meditated and taught him to master the Naginata. Stuff like this is, of course, hard to account for; not to mention hard to believe: even Kisshomaru Ueshiba Doshu said it was bunk. Still, many people swear by these ocurrences, according to what has been published.
Furthermore, I understand that O'Sensei was an extremely spiritual person, to the point that he claimed to actually be, or at least be possesed by, any number of Shinto/ Omoto-Kyo deities, such as Ame-no-murakumo-kuki-samuhara Ryu-o. He was also said to have an volatile temper and a very excentric disposition, sometimes to the detriment of those closest to him. I can understand, for example his retreats to the woods for days at a time to train: this type of ritual is almost as old as humankind itself and is found in many peoples, the Australian Aborigines and Native American peoples being but two relevant examples. But being actually taught by Tengu? Strange and thunderous sounds emanating from the mountain, heard from miles around, and the Shinto shrine in his home shakingwhen he went to train? Huh????
Basically what I'm asking is this:
1.- How many of us actually give much weight to these stories? Are they important to you, do you believe them?
2.- What was O'Sensei? Divinely Inspired, as in Truly Possesed? Was he mad? Y'know, a few sashimi short of a sushi? Was he a shrewd promoter of himself and his Art- as in, he would start or encourage these stories to draw attention to his Art and message, perhaps to use a religious basis to rationalize or justify his political/religious views/ excentricities.
3.- There is no question as to his martial arts capabilities: Was O'Sensei just a man who, extremely talented as he was, after years of rigurous training, created Aikido as a distillation of many martial arts. Or was he truly "illuminated" in the sociological sense, and that enabled him to create something completely new and theretofore unseen?
4.- Are there any Aikido-ka out there, possibly sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, historians (scientific types) out there who have researched O'Sensei and his history in any scientific detail, particularly in reference to his socio-psycho-cultural background (i.e. the end of post-feudal Japanese History and the final dying of the warrior caste as exemplified by Sokaku Takeda or Tesshu Sensei)?
Gomen Nasai on this huge post, but these are questions which I'm seeking the answers to, and I would appreciate your help tremendously.