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Old 03-22-2001, 09:10 AM   #1
Location: Harrisburg, PA
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 420
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Stanley Pranin writes of Saito Sensei's training in his article, "Morihei Ueshiba and Morihiro Saito," (available on his web site):
The young Saito was given little encouragement initially and had to endure the intensive, often painful training silently. Saito Sensei recalls the early days when suwariwaza practice on the dojo's hardwood floor would continue endlessly leaving his knees bloodied and festering. To make matters worse, as a newcomer in the dojo he was on the receiving end of countless, vigorous techniques from the likes of sempai Koichi Tohei and Tadashi Abe.
There's something similar at the Aikido Association of America web site referring to Toyoda Sensei:
It was at age 17 that Toyoda Shihan also began misogi training, a tradition at the dojo of Tohei Sensei. In particular, this was the training in breathing and Zen meditation given at the notorious Ichikukai Dojo in Tokyo. Ichikukai was founded by a student of the renowned Meiji-era swordsman, calligrapher and Zen master Yamaoka Tesshu; it still carries a reputation for extremely difficult training of a type rarely undertaken by modern persons. Toyoda Shihan recalls the pancake-size layers of skin that would come off his knees from kneeling so long on tatami during breathing training, and the scars many trainees would develop from senior students striking them repeatedly on the back to help them "get the air out"…even after blood had soaked through their clothes.
What do you folks think of those training methods in the context of contemporary Western culture? It seems that O Sensei and his closest students felt that extreme physical hardship was an essential component of training. Personally, I have struggled against my own physical (but really mental) shortcomings and learned a lot about getting past them -- but that was in the course of regular training and more intensive training at an Aikido camp. I certainly didn't have sempai throwing me especially hard or hitting me on the back.

Is our Aikido practice poorer for not having that kind of really tough training, or are we doing okay?

-Drew Ames
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