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Old 09-22-2008, 04:28 PM   #102
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

Dan Harden wrote: View Post
I can think of several reasons for tight lips.
1. Someone taught them Koryu without permission to teach
My basic proposition... although I conjecture that it was done by O-Sensei's invitation and with the acquiescence of the senior teachers of these styles, many of whom were friends of the Founder.

2. Someone made it all up
They all made it up. O-Sensei made it up, his students made stuff up. There is no question of any of these folks claiming to be doing or teaching a sword style or a jo style but rather a style in which sword and jo were important tools for understanding and developing ones skills in the style.

3. An inner self-awareness of their own comparative worth in a very real comparison to truly gifted Koryu weapons experts
To my knowledge, O-Sensei was the only one who engaged in any contests with the sword. I do not believe that the deshi stood around considering what they did relative to the koryu, to the extent that they were familiar with them. Whatever exposure they may have had would have convinced them that there were certainly "real" swordsmen out there who knew far more than they did. I doubt that it bothered them at all. They were doing "aiki" sword, i.e. using sword in their Aikido; I don't think a one of them thought that he was a swordsman.

4. Their "sword work" was nothing more that what amounted to an embarrassing acquiescence to foreigners wanting to see "samurai sword techniques?
I think that this is a ridiculous assertion. Weapons training was a part of Aikido from day one. That started back in the thirties when some of the deshi actually had some koryu training but it was still true at the very end of the Founder's life. Saotome Sensei told us that 90% of the time, if you asked the Founder a question about just about anything, he'd grab a sword to demonstrate the answer. He simply did not see a separation between his empty hand and his weapons. If weapons work became optional as part of an Aikido practitioner's understanding of his art, it wasn't while the Founder was still alive. This had nothing to do with trying to impress foreigners... most of these guys a) didn't care if they impressed foreigners and b) if the wanted to do so they usually cranked a nikkyo on them...

Of course I offer nothing definitive here-other than decades of many observable demonstrations of some alarmingly lackluster weapons displays in aikido over the years. I just wonder if anyone has even *considered* the possibility that these guys were nothing even close to resembling gifted swordsmen? That they simply sucked at weapons...and were living in a culture that allowed them ample opportunity for self-awareness?
I think any Japanese could have wowed some of these early Gaijin looking to see real sword work-with ease. However,considering just who and what the talent pool around them must have been, I could understand those guys being reluctant to talk about their "weapons work" as well. Maybe that only got worse as time wore on and those gaijin got educated about Koryu.
These discussions always somehow end up with a sort of self congratulatory note in them in that you, of course, are part of the group that knows.

Well, I have done some koryu training, as you know. I also work out regularly with American students of a ryu with which you are familiar, they are also my Aikido students. They are swordsmen, I am not a swordsman. I am an Aikido practitioner. I do not walk around feeling inferior because they know more about swordsmanship than I do. What I do, I can do just fine. It's a pleasure to have well trained people to work with, that's for sure. It makes my training better. But I don't sit around feeling the need to hide what I do, keep silent about where I learned it, or harbor any illusions that what I do is something that it is not. I don't suspect that the folks who trained with the Founder when he was alive felt any different about their weapons work. Despite what we may see on the forums a lot these days, Aikido folks aren't sitting around with a bad case of koryu envy...I've learned a lot from the exposure I've had, no question, but it wasn't Aikido, wasn't trying to be, and I'm fine with that. I do Aikido. I keep training, bringing new things into my art, but I don't sit around apologizing for what I do either. I don't lose any sleep over not doing kenjutsu, and I do know what good swordsmanship looks like; I am good friends with some great swordsmen.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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