Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"
The split with the ASU was not voluntary for Ikeda Sensei. There any numbers of factors involved. But, I think it mainly comes down to Saotome Sensei's concerns for leaving an ASU that continues in a certain direction when he passes and his feeling that Ikeda Sensei with his global presence and his major focus on creating Aikido Bridge Seminars might not be sufficiently focused on the ASU itself going forward.
One teacher's focus has been primarily inward for a number of years, establishing a strong line of transmission, etc. and the other has been focusing outwards on bringing the wider Aikido community together.
While there is no essential conflict between these two directions, I believe that Saotome Sensei feels that the priority right now in the ASU needs to be on developing stronger networks of communication and habits of working together among our own members and teachers so that ASU can continue its mission when Sensei retires or his health no longer allows him to captain the ship so to speak.
As Peter has pointed out, the ASU has been a unique entity... really not set up as an organization at all. Everything had been very personal through Saotome Sensei. This would include our relations with the rest of the Aikido world as well as our relationships with each other. I think that Sensei is now looking to the future and is trying to clarify the direction he'd like to see us, his senior students, take when more responsibility is thrust on us.
Ikeda Sensei is an amazing teacher and it will be interesting to see what he accomplishes in his a capacity as a ronin because he has always done things that no one else was willing to do and now he has nothing at all restricting his ability to move in any way he wishes, no other responsibilities of an organizational nature.
No matter what, I know that he will continue to have a close relationship with the senior teachers of the ASU. He has been a major teacher for all of us over many decades. I think that Saotome Sensei may really have made what will amount to an administrative decision that will effect how the ASU is run down the line but will not substantially change our training relationships.