Re: USAF Responds to Petition "Support Women in the USAF"
I was involved with the IAF for over 30 years and in my opinion the matter of this thread was a disaster waiting to happen. My opinion is partly based on the fact that I have also lived in Japan for nearly 40 years and have an understanding of Japanese culture--the good side and the bad side--that comes from a such a long period of continuous residence. In addition, I live in Hiroshima, where the good side and the bad side of Japanese culture also have a prominence, from the simple fact of the atomic bombing of the city. Hiroshima is sometimes called an 'International City of Peace and Culture' (Kokusai Heiwa Bunka Toshi), but I believe that the only part of this title or slogan that is 100% true is Toshi. (which means City).
The atomic bombing, of course, brought about Japan's defeat, and this features quite prominently in the autobiography of Kisshomaru Ueshiba (which has not been translated). Aikido received its name in 1941 from the Japanese military, and was considered a way of assisting the Japanese military incursion into Asia. Kisshomaru wanted to give aikido a new function, as a martial way that emphasized the good in Japanese culture--and the despatch of Japanese instructors was a concrete means to this end. However, the Hombu was never in a position to give any concrete advice to these despatched instructors (who were called shihans) about how to live and teach aikido in their adopted countries. They had to learn the hard way--and this has been a constant source of friction.
When the IAF was created, a major problem arose and this has still not been solved. The IAF was intended to be a democratically structured organization that would relate to sports organizations like the International Olympic Committee. The only problem is that aikido is not a sport, but a 'spiritual' martial 'way,' and the Aikikai is not a 'democratic' organization. Even the founding date of the IAF is in question. For the creators in Europe the date is 1975, at a congress; for the Aikikai, the date is 1976, at the 'founding' congress in Japan. The Aikikai prefer the later date because the IAF was thereby created in Japan and is therefore subject to Japanese law. One problem with the later date is that the IAF could become a legal foundation, with the same standing as the Aikikai. I suspect that Kisshomaru did not realize this at the time, but I also suspect that the present Doshu has a few sleepless nights because of this possibility. I was once asked as IAF Chairman to promise that the IAF would never seek to become a legal foundation; I could not give a satisfactory answer and so I am no longer Chairman.
One of the good things that my successors have established is a committee to study gender issues in aikido. I was well aware of gender issues, but my awareness was colored by the fact of long residence in Japan. I was a professor in a large public university--and I suspect that there are similar issues here relating to gender as exist in the Aikikai. I also suspect that the majority of Japanese men simply do not have the perspicuity to recognize that this is even an issue. This is not a matter of blame, but one of upbringing and education.
So I understand Malory Graham's remarks about living a double life and I suspect that this is more common in aikido than is realized. Anyhow, I am no longer involved with the IAF and am in the unusual position of being chief instructor in a local aikido dojo in Hiroshima, where the overwhelming majority of my students are Japanese. We held a bonenkai yesterday, and so are fully prepared for the New Year.