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Old 03-16-2003, 12:14 AM   #5
DaveO
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
Location: Alberta, Canada
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 543
Canada
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Hmmm - an interesting topic; one which I'm sure took a bit of courage to write; given the predictable gut-level responses some might give.

I don't know anything about it, of course; but in my own viewpoint; Morehei Ueshiba's title of O-Sensei is as much a mark of respect to the founder of Aikido as it is a description of his skill at Martial Arts, teaching and/or both.

But to the main point I gleaned from his post: I think it's healthy to keep in mind that our idols, whoever they are, are mere mortals like the rest of us. That they put their pants (or hakama ) on one leg at a time like everyone else. It's true; we've all seen that many aikidoka have in their own belief elevated O-Sensei virtually to the level of godhood; i.e. that he was perfect; could do no wrong, knew all, was supreme in all things. Such belief is IN MY OWN OPINION unhealthy, or if that is too strong a word then at least incorrect thinking.

Why?

It's the difference between intelligent respect and blind devotion. Learning with awareness; studying, poking, prodding and testing the limits of a skill; questioning and doubting it until your questions are answered and doubt is relieved - or flaws are found - these are the hallmarks of intelligent learning. As an Army combat instructor; nothing pleased me more than a student saying 'Mmmmmm, no. Sorry, Master Corporal; I don't believe you." That showed the student was thinking. Blind devotion on the other hand is extremely limiting - we are in effect voluntarily giving up our ability to think for ourselves, to question what we see.

Granted; O-sensei was many times better than I will ever be; both as a martial artist and as a man, but he was certainly no god; even with his phenomenal skill I'm sure he still clunked himself in the head with a jo once in a while; or at least forgot where he put his pen down. I can hear the screams of outrage already; but ask yourself - would O-Sensei have wanted to be revered as perfect? I doubt it; the truly great never do.

Answers are only easy when they're incomplete.
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