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Old 02-24-2005, 07:04 PM   #8
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Article: O-Sensei's Aikido by George S. Ledyard

Anders Bjonback wrote:
My basic question about what you're saying is whether you think that someone needs to adopt O Sensei's religious beliefs (the Omoto Kyo religious doctrine) in order to have the same sort of spiritual revelations doing aikido that O Sensei had. (I got that impression when you said that you want to experience some aspect of the founder's vision for yourself and "It is a matter of directing ones training towards what one wants out of the training.") If that is the case, do you think there is a limit to how much we can understand his worldview and religious beliefs because first of all, we're not Japanese, and secondly, we don't have access to Omoto Kyo teachers? And didn't O Sensei's understanding come from an entirely different cultural background that we're simply not born with? I mean, we can study and appreciate the founder's viewpoint, but is it even possible to really adopt it?
I am not of the opinion that one can reconstruct O-Sensei's practice, just as he did it, in either modern Japan or the West. The closest to this is the attempt by Koichi Barrish Sensei to combine his role as a teacher of Aikido and his role as the only American who is certified as a Shrine Shinto Priest. I admire this attempt but I think it just isn't ever going to have "mass appeal" although I love to talk to him when I get the chance; it's always interesting.

Gleason Sensei is experimenting with combining Zen practice with Aikido and I think this has a greater chance of acheiving something meaningful for Westreners. Zen has been shown to travel well, all over the world, just as Aikido has. He is setting up retreats at a retreat center where one can experience Zen meditation, education in Kototama theory and practice and Aikido training. This strikes me as a wonderful way to get a picture of how O-Sensei looked at the art. But I don't think anyone can duplicate what O-Sensei did. He trained directly with Deguchi, another spiritual genius / eccentric and that alone would be impossible to do now.

So any attempt to understand O-Sensei's Aikido will come by perceiving some of the same thruths which he perceived but perhaps by different means than he used himself. As long as Aikido is at the center of the practice I think that varying means may yield similar insights.

The bottom line is training and more training.. All the rest is just speculation, fun but hollow without the reality of the hands on experience receievd by daily training.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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