Re: Poll: Do you think your aikido organization would surive without its chief instructor(s)?
I think the question is bound up with some cultural differences.
In medieval Japan (I am thinking mainly of the early shogunate under the Hojo regents), long before any theory of budo appeared, the concept of 'dou' became prevalent and applied basically to wealthy individuals who had the means and the leisure to pursue 'shugyou' or training. For ordinary Japanese, simply surviving was itself a kind of shugyou.
Later on, during the Genroku era (mid-Tokugawa), there was an explosion of general interest in 'Zen' arts (i.e., arts leading to some form of 'enlightenment') and the concept of 'dou' gave rise to that of 'iemoto'. In other words, the 'dou' paradigm meant the allegiance to an individual teacher by individual students, whereas the 'iemoto' paradigm meant allegiance to the organization by large numbers of students.
The Aikikai Hombu fits the iemoto paradigm very well and Mitsuteru Ueshiba is presently being groomed to become the fourth Doshu. However, the iemoto paradigm has not really extended to local Aikikai organizations, both in Japan and abroad. I have myself asked some prominent Hombu shihans what steps they have taken to ensure that the art thay have spent their lives teaching survives to a new generation and the answers have been varied. One shihan, very traditional, thought that his art would die with him. All he could do was to show his inheritance from Morihei Ueshiba and leave it at that: it was up to his students to develop their own aikido, based on what he had taught them, and do what they thought best.
I believe my own teacher thinks in this way. His sons refused to practise aikido from very early on and so there is no family member to take on the job of chief instructor. In any case there has been a centrifugal tendency in the last few years, with all the senior instructors of shihan level starting their own dojos. So I think we will have a collegiate system, with all the senior yudansha of shihan level being involved in any major decisions, but basically running their own mini-organizations.
I think this tendency is endemic in the way the Japanese run organizations and might be one area where overseas aikido organizations have something to teach the Japanese.
Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 01-07-2005 at 05:08 AM.