Michael Mackenzie wrote:
I'm on the road for the next few days. Hopefully I can dig up some source material when I get home. In the meantime perhaps some of the yoshinkan people could comment on their practice of the kihon dosa, including posture holding.
Gozo Shioda's descriptions of how to do things are part of the conflict I was describing to Ellis about what is Ki versus what is body mechanics. Years ago when I bought Shioda's "Dynamic Aikido" I felt that his descriptions were the most practical, although they weren't explicative enough to satisfy me. On the other side of the coin, Koichi Tohei's approach was tantalizing, but it wasn't explicative either. Although they appear to be describing different things, Shioda is painting part of the picture very well; Tohei is painting part of the same picture (the part about the esoteric phenomena), but he doesn't do it very well, IMO.
I have Shioda's "Total Aikido: The Master Course" (translated by David Rubens) and I basically like it a lot (if an Aikidoist doesn't have it, they should get it) but I have to comment that it's another one of those books that is easier to appreciate if you already know how to do things. There seems to be an Asiatic art-form in telling people how to do things in such a way that it's not understandable unless they already know how to do them.
There is a subtle danger to Tohei's approach, as many people have spotted... following vagaries can lead you not too far in any particular direction. But there's a danger to Shioda's approach also, in my opinion, in that it can lead you to the mechanistic and limited approach of the "external" or mechanistic side, causing you to miss the gold while giving you the wooden chest it was in.
My current impression is that Shioda knew more than his books indicate and we're seeing mainly his best attempts to get people started correctly (what more can you ask from a simple book?). I'm extrapolating this point of view from reading his books, of course, since I never studied Yoshinkan. My question is sort of "what did Shioda know and when did he know it?" because that will cast some light on the question of "what did Ueshiba Morihei know and when did he know it?". The comments about standing practices in Yoshinkan are interesting indicators, so I appreciate the information.