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Old 12-02-2011, 09:01 AM   #49
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,394
Re: Saotome Sensei's Training History

Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
A search for "Saotome" on the forum search tool would, up until two weeks or so ago, turn up a rather modest number of hits, mostly posts by George talking about his background, or mentions that he developed his own unique aikiken systems.

Far be it from me to claim to be a student of Saotome Sensei. I only get to train with him about 30-40 hours per year, and that's only been for about ten years, and he never picks me for ukemi or scolds me publically or anything.

But I imagine that the real students of Saotome Sensei may have been happier with the state of the forum prior to two weeks ago, when his name wasn't mentioned as often as it has been, nor ever drawn through the muck.
Drawn through the muck? I don't think so. Perhaps you missed this.
When it comes to aiki, Saotome is beyond any doubt among the best I have seen in modern Aikido. I haven't seen anyone in the aikikai who I think can touch him. And I most certainly have no favorites in the aikido game for any reason. Yet, Saotome does not appear on the official list of Shihan who can award shihan to his students....and have it Doshu.
Why do you think that is?
The rest of the post went on to explain why I think he did not get the support. And THAT was complimentary as well by comparing the lessor lights at hombu compared to the stars with real talent-among whom was, Saotome.
Then again, if you really want to appreciate the divine comedy that was the formulation of modern aikido- listen to Prof Goldsbury, who serves as the President of the International Aikikai federation (who's words you have yet to acknowledge) when he, along with many others have tried to tell you that when they all went to Japan they more or less got the ..." you are going to find out the real truth about aikido, " speech. Some of which is funny, others sad, but pretty much just another tale of organizational control, over a disparate group of near-do-wells, wanna-be's, and also-ran's...all vying for position- many times against some serious talent- who oddly, just didn't give a crap about the politics.
Guess who won?
I included more in the Prewar / post-war thread
This Jibes with many "unofficial" commentaries that were made from his prewar deshi, to their own student bases. Any number of whom essentially went and saw what Kisshomaru and Tohei were doing and simply said... that was not aikido.

Further comment from another previously untranslated interview with Kuroiwa (1950-60's deshi).
Q: Did you sit at the same table with the Founder and Sawai Sensei and Oyama Sensei?
A: No, but I did overhear Oyama Sensei say "Aikido will disappear after Ueshiba Sensei dies". I also believe that to be the truth.

...I think that today's Aikido basics are mostly Yamaguchi Sensei's showy Aikido. Maybe about 95 percent.

From 2004. A Koryu teacher who received nidan under Ueshiba
"I recognized that energy work you are doing. When O sensei would show up everything would stop and we would do that. They don't teach that anymore you know. It's not in Modern aikido!"

Shirata, as well as Shioda's opinions echo the above.
I think the post war deshi with some real talent, saw what the prewar deshi saw; that Kisshomaru was never going to do the old mans aikido, and those who tried were distanced. It appears, at least on the surface, that not one of the stars did well against Kisshomaru's political machine. And why should they?
Kisshomaru, like his peer Tokimune Takeda, was trying to codify and make a cogent system out of the mess his dad left him. Yes I said that. The fact that he had to do it, and that he was not a talent like his father was quite a headwind.
What to do, what to do...
Against that backdrop you had very talented men who could wind up owning the new burgeoning "system" with systems of their own, thus factionalizing the art. This not because they were bad guys...just that they were talented and ...well...people being people, many times smart Johnnies go where the talent is. And when you read the interviews and read between the lines that is exactly what was happening. The solution? Distance yourself from the bright lights, then distance them from selected others who -if they were either self aware of their failings, or overly confident- would step in to support a bland codified middle.
1. This identifies and establishes your base of support.
2. Both the less talented and the over confident will rush toward it.
3. As is usual, the real talent...leaves; either under pressure or in disgust.

Most in the Aikido community already know this stuff. It's only new information to some people like our Mr. McGrew.

Like I said, this is nothing new, not only in Budo, but in Business. Another interesting note is that many people coast through life and never look closely enough or have the where-with-all to even recognize true talent when it hits them in the face. Many times it's an easy process to herd them into a cohesive and supportive organization that just wants to know their place, what the requirements are and how to all get along.

Shaw said it best:
"A reasonable man looks at the world and thinks how best he can change to fit in.
An unreasonable man looks at the world, and thinks how best he can change it to suit him.
It's no small wonder that the world is ruled by unreasonable men."


Last edited by DH : 12-02-2011 at 09:13 AM.