Bill Danosky wrote:
My thought when I started this thread was that- with a strong enough show of support- we might regain his valuable guidance. I realize now that online forums are for debating issues. That was my error, since the whole idea may be to present opposing viewpoints. For my part, I believe Reverend Furuya is to be revered and should be beyond any question of courtesy. If O-Sensei were participating in this forum, no one would dare to question his input (somebody PLEASE tell me I'm right about this!). I mean, look at his credentials- if one doesn't think Rev. Furuya, Sensei has enough credibility, who would? At our dojo, Sensei never even opens a door for herself. As marital artists, we're supposed to conform to a higher ideal. Respect for the teachers and traditions is probably (here, I guess I'd better say arguably) our highest one. Maybe if some people wore their dogis while they were posting, they'd remember they're slighting a foundation member of our art, just for the sake of an argument.
In the dojos down here in Hiroshima the Dojo-cho (he is rarely called 'Sensei') opens his own doors and also folds his own hakama, as do all the yudansha\which indicates to me that there are various ways of showing respect.
Japan's is a culture where respect for one's elders and 'betters' (the latter in rank, strength, wealth, or influence) is deeply ingrained. However, in an institution like the university where I work, this has very undesirable consequences, since it limits the free exchange of knowledge and ideas and tends to stifle independent thinking. I think the importance of the Internet lies in this aspect, but a consequence of this is that the Argument from Authority (that the truth of a proposition depends on the credentials of the person who states it) is often shown to be what it is: of dubious value and sometimes downright false.
In aikido the Argument from Authority is taken very seriously indeed, principally because aikido depends so much on the formation of good habits through training on the mat. It is assumed that the longer the training, the better the habit formation\and the better the waza\and this assumption is usually correct. The assumption underpins the meaning of the word 'sensei' in Japanese. What is much more questionable is another assumption that is often made, namely, that long aikido training also allows one to pronounce with authority on other matters rather less closely related to training.
Another problem for aikido is connected with the history of the art. Aikido has been a Japanese preserve for the best part of the last century, but this is changing, rapidly\and the pace of change is being accelerated by the Internet. I remember the dispute involving Mr Furuya quite well and his opinions, strongly held and based on his own culture, were questioned by those in a position to do so. I often see this here in Japan and many Japanese find this extremely uncomfortable. I suspect that there is a similar discomfort about American values currently under test in Iraq.
I think respect is a value closely associated with one's national culture and the Internet is essentially supra-national: it transcends national borders and it is thus to be expected that respect will be shown in various ways. This is quite a sensitive issue, but I myself do not think that Mr Furuya was viciously attacked at all, as some have stated.
I think one of the legacies of Kisshomaru Ueshiba was that he downplayed the prewar religious aspect of aikido and stressed the importance of aikido as a Way, and of training. This also involves having a good sense of one's own training history: the good things and the bad things, the progress, the false turns and the road blocks. These are more likely to come under scrutiny on the Internet, relying as it does on openness and free exchange of ideas.