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Old 01-23-2013, 05:51 PM   #15
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Traditional Aikido? Iwama Aikido?

For me, the easiest way to think about this is that there's a difference between pre-war and post-war Aikido as the art spreads and teachers mature and grow. It was during O-Sensei's time at Iwama with Saito Sensei that he really put the finishing touches on what would become post war Aikido Kihon Waza. It really was a "bridge" period. Saito Sensei would hold a copy of O-Sensei's pre-war book and say "see I didn't change anything" yet he didn't really look like Shirata, Tomiki, Shioda, or Mochizuki nor do they look very like each other.

But Saito was a systematizer. He took O-Sensei's weapons work and created a teachable system. I think he did much the same with the empty hand. All of the young deshi during the post war period had occasion to take classes with Saito. He was quite influential. I think it would be safe to say his Aikido was in everyone's to some extent. One thing for sure... if you wanted to know what O-Sensei's Aikido essentials were in 1952, Saito was the "go to guy". So, in that sense one could say it was "traditional" Aikido.

On the other hand what most folks, like Nishio Sensei or Saotome Sensei would mean when they used the term "traditional" was that what they were doing strove to maintain the values of Budo. They felt it was important for the art to keep the martial validity it had had early on while also containing the spiritual insights that made the Founder's Aikido unique in many ways. So, for them, "traditional" wasn't about conserving an outer form from some time past but rather conserving the heart of the art while being innovative about the outer form and how it might be taught. So I think Saotome Sensei, Tamura Sensei, Chiba Sensei, Nishio Sensei, etc would all have considered themselves to be doing "traditional" Aikido. They certainly would not have considered as valid anyone ascertaining that Iwama Ryu Aikido was somehow more O-Sensei's Aikido than what they did.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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