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Old 03-06-2005, 01:54 PM   #16
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Ki Usage and O-Sensei: A Question

First of all, let me say that much of the discussion of things like Ki, aiki, kokyu etc. amongst Aikido folks is often characterized by a lack of knowledge of history and unfamiliarity with other styles in the family of aiki / aiki jutsu arts. This leads people to make completely unsupported suppositions like O-Sensei discovering something about Ki and taking it back to his teacher Takeda Sensei. In a technical sense Takeda sensei was every bit the giant O-sensei was.

Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu has techniques which are every bit as soft and "aiki" as anything which exists in Aikido. One of the things about Daito Ryu is that they are more traditional in approach than Aikido is. One of the things that they have is a prohibition against showing the highest level of their technique to anyone who is not a member of the ryu. So what you see of someone like Kondo Sensei in the videos or at the Expo is what for Daito Ryu are good solid basics. He is not showing off by demonstrating the most advanced versions of his technique. This can lead to a misunderstanding on the part of Aikido people seeing Daito Ryu from the outside.

I have trained with many of the best instructors of Aikido in the world at one time or another and no one was more "aiki" in his technique than Angier Sensei, Soke of the Yanagi Ryu. Yanagi Ryu was the family style of aiki jutsu handed down through the Yoshida Clan. The senior Yoshida did train with Takeda Sensei in Daito Ryu and was actually the person who introduced O-sensei to Takeda Sensei in the first place. Angier Sensei trained under the son. There is nothing about "aiki" that we have in Aikido which isn't in Angier Sensei's technique.

I've also had the good fortune to have trained a bit with Toby Threadgill Sensei of the Takamura Ha Shindo Ryu. While I am ignorant of the details of the style's history I know it is close enough to the Yanagi Ryu in concept that Threadgill sensei trained with Angier sensei after his own teacher, Takamura Sensei, died. I found his technique to be incredibly skillful and subtle.

In some ways much of what passes for Aikido today isn't as "aiki" as it should be. There is more strength involved, more tension created than in these other classical forms of aiki training. Anyone who thinks that Aikido is the end all be all in this category or who wants to maintain that O-Sensei invented all this blending and softness hasn't been out "out of the house" enough.

I got to put my hands on Kuroda Sensei who teaches another family style of classical kenjutsu / aiki jutsu. The man could move you and you wouldn't feel it being done to you, you'd just move. He was as relaxed in his technique of anyone I've ever trained with.

O-Sensei's unique creation was his connection of these principles to a set of Spiritual concepts. His spiritual take on things was unique. His pulling together the principles from his martial a training and the concepts from his Omotokyo practice was his unique creation. In a technical sense I don't think there is anything in Aikido which the teachers of aiki jutsu don't understand or couldn't do if they chose.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 03-06-2005 at 01:59 PM.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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