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Old 07-07-2009, 09:24 AM   #5
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Japanese Aikido Teachers - Translation

Alastair Rae wrote: View Post
Is there going to be somebody else to translate your translation into normal English?
It's not my English that's the problem... it's that we are talking about something that has no vocabulary in English. So you have to work with someone who can do it and explain what he or she is doing. Then you will know what the description means. You have to feel it. You can't see it until you really know what you are looking for.

This is what I have to do with the folks at my dojo and at the seminars I teach. I have worked out a vocabulary which is body centered and quite specific. When I instruct I have to teach the students this new (for most of them) language. So when I say "touch the spine" I have to grab you and give you specific feedback about what that is and is not.

That's why this stuff really doesn't lend itself to mass transmission. There's a reason that O-Sensei basically taught either privately or in very small groups which allowed the students to get their hands on him multiple times every class. Even then, due to lack of systematic explanation, there was a huge variance in the extent to which they got it.

I believe that, if Aikido is going to regain some of the content which has been disappearing over time, we have to do a better job of breaking down and teaching these principles. This is an uphill battle as there are only so many folks functioning on this level... That's one of the reasons so many folks are trying to work with teachers from outside Aikido like Mike S, Dan H, Akuzawa, Toby Threadgill, Howard Popkin, the Systema folks, etc.

I just came back from the ASU Summer Camp in DC. I would say there is a fundamental shift taking place. It's gradual but building steam. There were far more folks whose Aikido is starting to contain these elements than just a few years ago. Despite my complaints about lack of specific how-to instruction, our teachers have been placing increasing emphasis on showing these principles in action. If you attend a seminar with Ikeda Sensei these days, you will do nothing else... it's the whole focus of what he is teaching.

Another optimistic sign is that there are an increasing number of senior American teachers who are no longer letting the Japanese Shihan hold them back. There has been a steady exodus of folks who have chosen to affiliate directly with Hombu Dojo and pursue their own course, find their own Aikido. And even those who have not taken quite such a radical step are sneaking off and getting training without telling their teachers they are doing so. I periodically run into these folks at various events. I've even had some come train with me. When people are serious about their training, they get to the point at which they won't let anything stand in their way any more. As the Aikido public gets better educated about what higher level skills actually are, there will be quite a few senior teachers who are going to find themselves marginalized. Personally, I think that will be wonderful to see. I want to see the Aikido here be better than anything available in the homeland and I think that's possible given what is going on.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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