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Old 03-14-2005, 09:39 PM   #59
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Re: I am not a samurai

If I may, I think two kinds of bias are most relevant here. First, there is the bias by which several martial traditions carved out a new niche for themselves following Meiji. By this bias they attempted to make a distinction, one grounded in notions of superior/later and inferior/earlier, between them as "do" oriented and the other as "jutsu" oriented - respectively. Some early key figures in Aikido history were proponents of this view -- Kisshomaru comes to mind when he tried to say that Aikido's waza, unlike the waza from the arts that preceded it, used "locks" that functioned within the natural range of motion of an attacker's joints, etc.

As the decades have rolled by, and we are now in a new century, the second bias has come to us as a reversal of the first - it is almost like what Yoshida did with Honji-suijaku! Today, folks that employ this second bias still make use of a superior/inferior dichotomy but now they have reversed things so that "superior" is connected to what came earlier and "inferior" is connected to what came later.

Folks inside and outside of Aikido make use of either bias -- both biases are open to both "types" of practitioners. This is because both biases are about political economy and not about historical accuracy. In other words, they more about truth games, or battles over the right to determine "truth." For many in the Aikido community, it is important that some kind of rift occurred between what Osensei did and what came before him. Hence, we often see one make use of the first bias -- and everything thereafter is forced to fit with this position. For others in Aikido it is important that Osensei represent some sort of connection to what came before him -- hence we see the reverse position often spouted then -- at the cost of noting Aikido's uniqueness.

Historically, we would have to realize that there is not jujutsu and then there is Aikido. There is not Jujutsu, there are only jujutsu in the plural sense. In that way, it is philosophically impossible to use history to determine what is accurate and not accurate, without making use of either bias, when one is out to draw such clear lines of demarcation between two things/traditions. Historically, there are many jujutsu, and at one point all of them were in a constant state of evolution. Evolution, or rather constant advancement and/or adaptation, does not mark genesis -- it marks continuity. If one can leave the biases aside for a moment, and merely see jujitsu as "empty-handed techniques related to the warrior class of historical Japan," Aikido has to be understood as a type of jujutsu -- no matter how much we want to say it is an evolution of the latter. When we drop the first bias, we can even say the same thing about Judo -- which may be even more offensive to some, since Judo is one tradition that really made use of the first bias to gain its cultural foothold in time of radical transition.

David M. Valadez
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