David Yap wrote:
Not meant to offend/discredit any Shihan (living or demised). I have posted this in another thread before but did not receive any direct answer (sensitive issue I believe). Coming from my professional backgrounds where accuracy and specifics count, who are/were direct and who are/were indirect students of O Sensei? I read somewhere in the Aikido Journal that except for Kanai sensei, the first wave and most of the second wave of teachers from Aikikai in the States were direct students of Tohei sensei who was the head instructor at Hombu at that time.
My teacher is Saotome Sensei. I started Aikido with him in his newly opened Washington, DC dojo. After five years I moved to Seattle where I trained with Mary Heiny Sensei and also with Bookman Sensei. I got a lot of exposure and inspiration from Tom Read Sensei during those years. But I kept going back for seminars and camps, we invited Saotome Sensei and Ikeda Sensei out for seminars and eventually I opened my own place.
Now I trained with a lot of different folks. But no one ever questioned who my teacher is. Saotome Sensei is my teacher. He is the reason I got into Aikido, the reason I stayed, and he has provided the entire framework around which I have built my practice. I respect Ikeda Sensei and all the other wonderful teachers with whom I have trained but I am Saotome Sensei's student, period.
Most of the post war Deshi trained extensively with teachers other than O-Sensei. But it was the time they spent with O-Sensei that made the deepest impression on most of them. I have talked at length with Saotome Sensei and also a bit with Chiba Sensei and it is clear that in their own eyes they were students of the Founder. They may have taken classes with other teachers, Yamaguchi Sensei influenced Saotome Sensei quite a bit, but it was O-Sensei that provided the center around which they based their practice. He didn't have to be there for every class to still be the strongest influence oin these teachers. They trained with him, took ukemi for him, travelled with him, etc. He was their formative influence. When you listen to these people talk about their training years, it isn't Tohei Sensei that they mention, not even the Nidai Doshu, but it's O-Sensei that had the primary influence on them. Calling them "indirect" students is simply ignoring the power of the effect that the time they spent with the Founder had on their development.